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

Flashback Monday: “Disneyland’s Silent Gift” from ME STUFF

ResortThis is the eighth and final entry in my Flashback Monday series. I created the series to showcase some of the posts you will get if you pick up my new book Me Stuff, which contains 40 different quirky tales from this site! You can check out the other Flashback Mondays here, herehere, here, here. here, and here.

I always knew I wanted to end Flashback Monday with this entry. Some might roll their eyes seeing Disneyland in the title (or if you follow the site, not surprised I am writing about the park again), but there is a reason why it is here. Why? Well, I really love the writing in it because for me it captures a magical moment with my family and in my life, that even then I could tell was slipping away.

There 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.Me Stuff, front cover

You can read the rest of the post here. Or, better yet, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF which contains 40 editorials like this one and it is super cheap-o.

The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

The Trials Over Sofia the First

The Dreaded PrincessMy wife and I had this all so perfectly worked out.

Our kids were allowed to watch a show in the morning (while we are making lunches for school or breakfasts) and they were stuck watching what we have classified as “morning shows.” I, at one time, had a list; yes, I made it even with cute pictures.

Technically, these are shows that are friendly, not overly exciting, and emphasize some kind of a lesson (numbers, reading, nature, etc.). Usually we draw from two stations, PBS and the Disney Channel. And each have their greats—for example, Wild Kratts (which I wrote about here) and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse—and then okay shows (Martha Speaks, the soundtrack on this show drives me crazy and not in a good way).

I have always found that these kind of shows in the morning help get everyone warmed up for the day, the mind working. A nice little nudge towards more lessons later.

A great little parenting plan, right? And it might have even lasted well for a few more years, if it wasn’t for the doings of a certain princess.

For those that don’t know the Disney show Sofia the First, it follows the misadventures of a new Disney princess. We made the mistake of opening the door to this show as a coveted morning show because it is from the Disney Channel, but in one swoop it has left our morning show plan in rubbles. No, Sofia the First is not a morning show. There are really no lessons on the show… unless you are a princess and you are lucky enough to have the world revolve around you.

Who needs the alphabet when you are a princess? 

For someone with an adoration of Disneyland and a lot of Disney films, it isn’t easy for me to say this but, yes, I have a beef with Sofia the First. Continue reading

Flashback Monday: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Vasectomy” from ME STUFF

The great ending...Before I get to this week’s Flashback Monday (a classic old post that is collected in the new book ME STUFF, I did one last week as well about poisoning a professor which you can check out here), I just want to say something quick… ah hmm…

It’s only a few hours left to enter to win an autographed copy of ME STUFF!!! What are you waiting for!?! The link is at the bottom of this post! Hurry! Hurry!

Okay, I am done.  Here is the beginning of a piece I am pretty proud of, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Vasectomy.” (Yup, you read that right; oh, and it also contains one of the most disturbing things anyone has ever said to me at a doctor’s office).

This was my end of the bargain.

My wife would have our two lovely children and when she was done I would go to the guillotine, as it were. I would be Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, with both hands tied behind my back being led to my destiny while reciting, “It is a far, far better thing I do…”

That sounds strangely noble in theory, but in actuality, I must admit, with the birth of our second child I had been avoiding this doctor trip like the plague. I had postponed the visit two different times (scheduling then rescheduling… twice), but after a year, I was running out of excuses for myself.

On the day of the appointment, I was freaking out. I tried to explain this to my wife, but, as sympathetic as she tried to be, she didn’t get it. And comparing it to what she had to experience in the birthing of our children, didn’t help. Yes, I am sure birth is a bigger life changing, panic-driven, and painful experience. But for a guy, this is something. Yes, it means something, and it’s not something that can be easily explained, it’s in the gut, it’s in the animal part of the brain. It is part of what defines us as male. Hear us roar!

You can read the rest of this article here. Or, even better, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF which contains 40 editorials like this one and it is super cheap-o. The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Me Stuff by Scott D. Southard

Me Stuff

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Grocery Shopping With Atheists

Grocery CartI would call it a holy time, but that would be wrong… very wrong.

See, there is this moment each weekend when it is glorious to go grocery shopping. There are barely any crowds, the shelves are fully stocked, the workers are hanging around and very willing to help, and you feel like you are the center of the store. This wondrous time is Sunday morning when all of the good people are at church.

I would not call me or my fellow Sunday morning shoppers rebels. We are not the cool kids who were smoking on the corner in high school. If anything we are smart scavengers, taking an opportunity in front of us while others have their backs turned.

When I try to imagine who we are Biblically I always immediately think of the masses who when Moses was up on the Mount Sinai decided to throw a wild party and then built a golden calf. (And, to be honest, after all those people had to go through didn’t they deserve at least a little party?)

We are more sophisticated now, of course. We are all listening to our iPhones, buying fresh fruit, and enjoying the casual attire that not attending church allows us. Sundays for me is about wearing hoodies not ties. And the great thing about a hoodie is I can hide my face if I need to, because I do feel a bit of guilt each time I see a family in smart clothes on their way to a service.

I always tell myself that they aren’t judging me, and I have no reason to feel this way, but I still do and I avert my eyes accordingly.

I’m sorry about the golden calf. I’ll just put it over here. It won’t bother you. I like the tie, by the way.

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

Panic in the Writing Mind

PanicI have always considered these the blessing moments.

For a few hours, every other Sunday or so, I escape from my life to my local coffee place. There I strip off all my titles—like parent, homeowner, overall responsible adult— and just write.

Three hours or so of writing bliss.

Typically, I come very prepared, never allowing myself to waste this miracle, this gift. I might work on a book or a blog post. Whatever the case, by the time I slowly (very slowly) pack up my computer, I feel spiritually satisfied. Like a box in my mental writing world has been checked. Yes, on the car ride home, I’m already considering what I have to do next (I am always planning), but it is not a stressful thing, more like a passing thought. A smallish fly in the room, not a bee to be swatted.

More importantly for my soul, these moments away from my normal world reminds me who I am. Or at least who I like to imagine I am. Scott Southard, that author dude. Like I said it is all magical in a way… until this moment.

Right here.

I, like a stupid, stupid, stupid idiot, forgot my jump drive. ARGH!

Continue reading

My Week Without Coke Zero

The bad boyI am not a man of vices.

When compared to other writers I would be considered very tame, like comparing a cocker spaniel to a mountain lion. If I do luckily find any success for my books and someone decides to write a book about me, I pity them the experience. Seriously, there is just nothing there.

  • I don’t drink or hunt or act suicidal like an Ernest Hemingway.
  • I have never done drugs or partied like a beatnik writer.
  • And I have not left a trail of scandalous relationships in my wake like a romantic poet.

I’m just a boring normal Joe, happily married, who just happens to be an author as well. Sorry. Heck, I didn’t even enjoy the occasional drink until recently when my wife and I discovered the great mix book Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (my current favorite drink being “Crime and Punish-mint.” Seriously, check this book out). Again, future biographers- sorry.

The only vice I could ever be said to have had is so minor that I’m sure Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda would have laughed at me. Nope, I’m not talking about my fandom of Doctor Who or Final Fantasy video games. Or my interest in bow ties. Or maybe my possibly embarrassing fascination with Disneyland or collecting Peanuts comic books.

No, no, no… I’m talking about Coke Zero.

Continue reading