Recently, You and Me: Me, My Wife and Dave Matthews Band

dmbMy wife has this way of internally rolling her eyes, when she doesn’t want me to see she is rolling her eyes…. Yet, I still know she is doing it and she knows I know.

A lot of this eye rolling has been occurring because of another man. Well, technically, a band of them. For the last year I’ve regained my obsession with Dave Matthews Band and their music. The funny thing is this obsession was rekindled after a bad concert.

Yes, Dave Matthews Band is known for their amazing live performances, but my complaint was not with them. This guilt is all on the shoulders of the audience around me. During the show I almost wondered if my annoyance was because I am older and this is not a thing anymore (and really concert going can take a lot of energy). Nah. This ain’t on my shoulders. Honestly, the people around us were dicks.

There, I’ll say it again: “Dicks.”

Someone was selling beaded necklaces, another family was coming and going throughout the show (I think there were some drugs going on there), and a family sitting next to us brought their own bongos. Yes, you read that right- bongos. And of all of the members of Dave Matthews Band, Carter Beauford  doesn’t need any drumming help. The man is freaking amazing.

Yet, ever since that concert I have not been able to stop listening to Dave Matthews Band. I listen to the music while I am getting ready in the morning, having breakfast, when I am driving the kids to school, and going for walks. Dave is there always, and it feel very natural. Like a friend, just hanging out, catching up on memories. Continue reading

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The Pains and Conflicts in the Drop-Off

SchoolThis was a battle I walked away from.

To understand the gravity of this for me, you have to know a little about how my brain functions. Typically, I am not the kind of guy to lose an argument, surrender a point. I’m one of those who will hold on like a dog with a chew toy, and this is especially true if I know I am in the right.

And I definitely know I was in the right! So, so right.

Actually, to correct that, I should say left, since what we are talking about are car lanes.

To put it more bluntly, dropping my kid off at his school is a piece of hell. Let me repeat that, hell (devil, pointy ears and tails, flames, the whole bit).

I’m not talking about the emotional aspect of the separation, that was there for a bit (and always resides a little beneath the surface), but other less pleasant feelings than the accepted sadness in watching your kids grow up. No, I am talking about stress, frustration, and sometimes anger.

…And I know other parents feel that way towards me. Continue reading

The Penny in the Belly

Look for the penny!I was in the shower when this all went down.

There are two little kids in our family. My son is seven, my daughter is three. So it is fairly common for there to be a lot of noise in the house. Having shouts, arguments, and/or loud laughter (sometimes all at the same time) is the Southard norm. Actually, it has gotten to such a point that I get more nervous if things are quiet. That is truly when my parenting radar kicks in.

Silence terrifies me.

When I turned off the water and began drying off, my son was at the door, breathless. “She ate a penny.”

“Who did?” I asked confused.

The funny thing is that this penny wasn’t even ours. I can’t explain this but other kids always seem to be giving my kids stuff.

Last year, while my son was in kindergarten, he had a friend who was always giving him little things. He would come home each day with a new marble or little plastic army man. It got to such a point that I asked my son to tell his friend in no uncertain terms:  “Thank you, but please stop giving me things.”

It didn’t stop. Just a few days ago, another friend of his gave him 50 cents. My son was thrilled by this and happily asked if he now had enough to buy a Disney Infinity character (he is dying to get a Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy). The answer was of course no. Continue reading

The Stony Hue of a January Morn

January1 of 3

there is
no beauty
in a January snow
and
it conveys
no possibilities-

January cold
does not touch your nose
or tickle your skin-
it begins in your bones
deep in your marrows
then slinks out
like a death
never letting go-

there is a limit
in our cold, cold steps
and each could be the fated last
but we trudge
trudge
trudge forward
never running
forever counting down-

the sun is lost
baked red, hidden away-
the gray clouds will not free it
trapped like an animal
in a dark covered cave
waiting and growling deep-

when the world ends
it will look like a January morn-
quiet-
soulless-
colorless-
void-
and no amount of breath will bring it back- Continue reading

Putting Away My Disneyland Stuff

25_forwebWhen you get home from a trip, sometimes you slowly, slowly empty your suitcases as if a part of you doesn’t want to admit that the trip is over. It’s a thankless task as you have to decide what to keep as a treasure, a memory, or what would be better left thrown away. This decision is especially difficult after a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, especially if it dares to have the name “Disneyland” printed someplace on it.

That is where I am right now, doing my best to get back to normal life. Just look at last week on the site! To prove everything is back I wrote two articles on the art of writing. Two!

(By the way the art of writing is something I worked hard at NOT thinking about when I was on the trip.)

So… now that I am home and the suitcases are empty, as a final little bit of goodbye to that time, I thought I would share the links to some of the articles I have written on Walt’s park below. After this I am going to take a break from the mouse and Fantasyland (even though normal life can sometimes feel so boring without rides and jungle cruises).  I hope you enjoy them.

Disneyland’s Silent Gift

ResortThere is this time when you are staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel when you can have it all to yourself.

It’s quiet, with the faint hint of music playing in the hotel lobbies in the background. I first discovered it when I offered to grab my wife one early morning a coffee at the shop in the hotel. But the moment I exited the elevator (and the haunting overture from The Jungle Book was playing in the speakers), that I realized I had discovered something unique.

It was still dark outside and I was alone.

I walked along the pool, passed the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant (with its fireplace still ablaze). There is a smell to Disneyland that I have yet to put my finger on, but the blossoms around the hotel and the restaurant added to its intoxication.

It was so peaceful that I almost felt a tinge of regret when the coffee shop finally opened at 6 AM and I had to make my purchase and return to the room and the excited kids. Dawn was approaching, a new day of adventure. Holding sweaty palms, wondering about bathroom breaks, and taking a lot of pictures.

That pre-dawn walk became a little ritual for me during my stay, and I picked up a coffee for my wife every morning at the same time. She always said thank you, but she didn’t need to.

It was for both of us. Continue reading

Six Thoughts on Disneyland

Sleeping beauty CastleSo last week I lived out one of my parenting dreams.

Ever since my wife told me we were going to be adding a family member to our team, I had dreamed of sweeping that child into my arms and rushing them off to Disneyland. Now it is six years later (with a second along for the ride), and I finally made that dream happen.

When you are a fan of Disneyland before adding the kids (I used to have an annual pass when I went to the University of Southern California, and I used it… often), you can never realize how much the little ones will change the experience. It is almost a new park. There were things I never considered before suddenly being on the top of our list of what to do next.

Fantasy Faire and princesses? Before my kids I would have avoided that bit in the park. But my daughter had to go to it twice, and both times ran with a smile right into a character’s arms… and then frowned in almost every picture.

On a side note: It’s funny but each time I visit the park I always wonder if I made the right call in my life career wise. The idea of being an imagineer (writing the script for a ride or coming up with a new one) or even simply welcoming someone onto a ride like The Haunted Mansion (“Move to the dead center of the room…”) sounds so enriching.

Here are six things about this trip with a family that changed my Disneyland experience for me. Continue reading

Where My Head Is At

HeadRandomness from the last few days…

Do both Paul and Ringo dye their hair? They are both in their 70s so the answer is probably yes. My wife also believes Ringo dyes his beard. How does one do that?

Because of the Disney film Tarzan, my kids like to run around in their underwear. I’m still working on my counter-argument to this practice because it is kind of hilarious.

I’ve locked down the Table of Contents for my new nonfiction book Me Stuff. Started with two hundred posts (I’ve done over 520 on this site total), then cut it down to 70. Now I’m ending at 30 or so.

I think Georgia font is pretty friendly. I want a friendly font for Me Stuff, one that says, “Sit down, I have a story to tell.” Continue reading

The Happy Bliss of Dentistry

The Happy ToothI have always had a thing about dentists.

It’s not a fear, more like a slight terror fueled by judgment and pain.  Let me break that down a little more.

Cavities hurt and I dislike pain so I naturally associate the pain with the person who works in the mouth. I know it is like blaming the mechanic for my car breaking down, but I do it.

The judgment? Well, sometimes I feel like dentists harshly evaluate me and how I am overseeing the management of my own mouth. Has anyone else noticed this? When they are telling you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, doesn’t a part of you feel like you are being lectured? Now, I can’t point to a specific moment when a finger was wagged in my direction or eyes were rolled, but I sense it. I know it is there. The hidden eye roll is always there.

Because of all of this, I had been very relaxed on my visits over much of my adult life. And sadly, over the last five years this has come back to bite me in the ass… or mouth… or something. I’m just trying to say I hate my teeth right now and there is biting and occasional pain involved with it.  The biting, I mean. Argh! Continue reading

Twitter-Free: My 24 Hours Without Twitter

The Fail WhaleI have over 30,000 Twitter followers. When I began this post I had tweeted exactly 10,400 times. No more, no less. Tweet #10,401 will be the first notice that I have written this post.

I am an author on Twitter and, honestly, I don’t think Twitter has led to many book sales really from the traffic. It does generate blog views, but never more than a third of what I get on a daily basis. The rest comes from subscribers and those who just seem to check me out from time to time. So what is this hold Twitter has on me that I keep returning and why do so many follow me?

For me, personally, Twitter is an ego trip. I admit that. Beyond the amount of followers, I get a huge kick out of sharing, retweets, and likes around my articles and books. And I especially love it when someone writes to me about my books usually to say they are reading one of them or enjoy it.

The fact is though I can’t imagine having a real friendship or relationship over Twitter. There almost needs to be a new word for the relationships built on this social network; somewhere below “acquaintance” but above “name recognition.” Yeah, it’s not like Facebook where a majority of my “friends” I have actually spoken to at one point. This is more like epic literary crowdsurfing for a writer. Like I am thrown to the sea of Twitter, riding my book like a boat. And there are thousands and thousands of other writers and readers like me on the rough sea in similar boats… and now and then we will see a Fail Whale. Making us at that moment the internet equivalent of Ahab.

Well, not this day.  For on this day, for the first time in two years, I have decided to take a break and document my withdraw… Continue reading