Tag Archives: writing

Blogiversary

Yeah, yeah, I know.  That’s not a word.  Sue me.  Neither was “internet” thirty years ago so there you have it.

One year ago, on the day (Friday) you’re likely reading this (I’m writing it very late Thursday night) I began to sit down and write about what’s happening in my life and in the lives of my kids.  This came seven months after losing my wife, Andrea.  We’d been married 18 years – she died on our anniversary – and just a few weeks before her birthday.

When I started writing two themes started to emerge from the computer:

First:
The struggles we had in our daily lives.  I didn’t have to learn to cook, my Mom and Dad both were really good at making sure I did that.  I didn’t have to learn to clean, we were inherently scruffy anyway.  I already did the bills – poorly – and do to this day.  The only thing I didn’t do was laundry and I’ve gotten better and the stuff is clean so no complaints, folks. The struggles, though, were with coping.  My kids grew closer…to me and to each other.  “We are stronger together than when we’re apart” is the new credo of my household.  It’s never been truer.  But we struggled, I’ll not lie.  Noah had major issues trying to control his temper.  Hannah nearly failed 7th grade.  Abbi had to change schools and start out as the “new kid” in a gigantic high school.  Sam . . . he had to come back out from behind the four walls he’d built around himself and be the fun, energetic kid he was before losing his Mom.

Second:
The love story.  A year ago I was still feeling the heartbreak.  There’s something about that loss, that pain and suffering, that sparks long forgotten synapses.  The electrical impulses fire to regions of your memory that you’d long thought were gone and you get a rush of events and things that transpired twenty years ago.  I don’t  think, necessarily, that it’s just people whose girlfriend or spouses die.  I truly think that any loss, even a horrible breakup, can spark this.  But in those instances you know why you broke up.  In the other you wonder why it had to happen.  I regained memories from the most amazing early days of our relationship.  I saw arguments that I’m embarrassed ever happened.  I felt the horrible pangs all over again of struggling with a woman who’d been date raped in college and didn’t know how to contend with her own sexuality for years after.
I looked over at the other side of the bed and felt the emptiness every night.

There have been so many posts I don’t honestly remember what I’d written in all of them.  I went through dealing with my own demons and disappointing my own set of close friends and family.  I struggled with the fact that I am no longer married.

Are the struggles over?  Not by a major stretch, no.

Is this blog the same?

No.

Not by any stretch, either.

I’ve noticed a few things since then.  I write for other people now, too, so that tendency starts to filter over to this blog.  I cook and make recipes and I share them.  The kids are growing more adjusted and growing more each day.  The struggles are changing to routines . . . just a little.  Day . . . by . . . day.  (Stop singing Godspell.  I know you’re doing it.  Stop.  Just stop!)

So is the love story over?  Well . . . the story’s over.  The love hasn’t died, it’s still there, but there are no additions to the story.  While one year ago I saw vivid memories, each single day tore another away, like the waves from the tide pulling clumps of a sandcastle off the beach and melting them into the sea.  That’s partly why I wrote them down, so everyone – including my kids – would see why I fell in love.  But I came to terms in all this time with the fact that the love can remain with the story ending.  We didn’t have a fairytale, I don’t suppose, but we did love each other very much.

That, my friends, brings me part and parcel to the blogiversary.  The name, derived from a saying on the wall, looked like one that would have an expiration date.  It doesn’t.  What started as a detail of the struggles of our new life and the influence the past had on that change has become something else again.  Now we look at where we’re going and what it will take to get there.  I see college for my little girl; high school for my middle; middle school for the twins.  All of it changing in just a short time.

And me?

That remains to be seen at this point.  I can say for sure that I’m stronger than I was when I started this a year ago.  I can look at a beautiful woman on the street or tell my daughter that I think Olivia Wilde is hot without feeling guilty about thinking that any more.

The last year saw me coming to terms, finally, with the fact that “our” story had ended.  My story, on the other hand, now has a new beginning-I just haven’t finished writing it yet.

Our Story Begins.  Happy blogiversary, everyone!

The Kindness of Writers

James Rollins at a book signing last night for “Blood Line”

I could have spent last night doing my normal routine – cleaning up even more the kids’ post-packing messes in their rooms and the play room.  The main reason for this, after all, is that I need to clean out all the extraneous materials, throw out the garbage they don’t think I noticed under their beds, and at least make it look like we’re taking care of this house that we don’t own.  I am, after all, negotiating another lease, for two years this time!

But I didn’t do that.  I had a horribly bad for me (particularly on my diet!) Chik-fil-a sandwich that the chain brought to the newsroom right before I left last night and instead headed North to Roseville, CA.  In particular, I was going to Barnes and Noble.  Not that I needed a book – though I was hoping to buy one – but to support a local writer.  More than that, a man whose time I’ve probably wasted on a few select occasions and has been no more than fair and kind.

James Rollins is a local author, though author isn’t really an apt description.  He is a veterinarian (see, Jim!  I can spell it too!), though he doesn’t practice as much as he did at the beginning of his career.  He did say last night, though, that he could spay a cat in thirty seconds.  I’d say I’d like to see that, but we all know I wouldn’t.  That . . . and I’m allergic to cats. He’s an adventurer.  He would likely downplay that and say he just likes to see new things, but the man is a certified diver, spelunker (for those of you without a dictionary or thesaurus, that’s a man who explores caves – often repelling down, not just wandering into them) and sometime archaeologist.

You’d think I was familiar with the man because, after all, he’s a local writer.  You’d be wrong.  I actually gained familiarity with him because of my Mom.  During a trip to visit my folks the whole family – Andrea included, this was awhile ago – my Mom had found a paperback and thought I might like it.  It had adventure, it had history, it had archaeology, and a tinge of the supernatural.  That’s what she gathered from the back of the book.  The novel was called “Map of Bones”, one of Rollins’ Sigma Force series of books, and this one is somewhere smack in the middle of his run.  My Mom had bought it because he was a vet who was from the Sacramento area.  She thought that was neat, a published, seemingly well-received writer from Andrea’s hometown.

When I finally moved to Sacramento with Andrea, I found one day that the station had gotten a stack of Rollins’ newest book, due out weeks later.  I immediately contacted the publisher because I just thought it was pretty amazing that I was finally in a position to interview this guy who’d done spectacular things, written amazing fiction, and was right in my backyard.  To my amazement they said “yes.”  (Well, not amazement, he was, after all, pushing a book.)  His office is what you’d expect from a thriller writer.  Copies of his books were there, he had a crystal skull to match the fact he’d written the novelization of the last Indiana Jones book.  He was even nice enough to put on the hat and hold the whip for video for us.

Each new book, including his young adult series Jake Ransom were opportunities to talk with him and do some sort of follow-up to our piece on Jim.  He was the local boy made good and I admired his writing.

But my admiration turned to deep respect last year.

We’d gotten just a few weeks past Andrea’s funeral and I was barely starting to come out of my fog.  I’d just returned to work and gotten the release for the next book in the Jake Ransom  series, one my daughter Hannah adored.

I told Hannah that the book was coming and she was happy for the first time I’d seen in a few weeks.  I had forgotten what it was like, having that excitement and anticipation of something you truly loved more than anything.  I remember that with the original Star Wars trilogy . . . the newest seasons of Doctor Who . . . and the days that Isaac Asimov released the newest book in his Robots  series.  So to see her excited about something again, this girl who was so very close to her mother, made me very happy.

I rarely ask anything of people I interview.  Only on a handful of occasions in my early career did I actually even ask for photos with them.  I softened as years went by and I realized I had little record of the amazing things I’d covered – Presidential campaigns; presidents voting for themselves; I started carrying a small digital camera.  I still was reserved and respectful, but managed pictures with Adam Savage, Rudy Giuliani; shooting training at Ft. Campbell with the 101st Airborne.  I now have a record.  So when the book was due out I sent a short message to Jim asking if, after I got Hannah a copy, he’d sign it if I sent it to him.  I wasn’t asking for anything advanced or the like.  I just wanted to make her smile.

James Rollins had no idea what had happened, nor did I expect him to.  I can say I know him, that I’ve worked with him, that he’s read articles I’ve done with historical overtones, etc.  I would never wander saying “oh, yeah, Jim and I are best buddies, we hang out all the time!” like some bragging knuckleheads I know.  But I do know him well enough to send an occasional note and ask advice, etc.  When I explained our situation and how Hannah was dying to read the next book I thought his signing it would make her day.  He said it would be no problem.

But fast forward just a week or so . . . and in the mail came a package.  Almost a full month before release Jim had sent a copy of the new book to Hannah . . . signed and featuring one of his signature doodles and with a message from Jim on the pages.

It’s not that I got a free book or that he was looking for credit.  While others may downplay this as a simple gesture or something that’s just part of what being a writer is.  I disagree.  Jim could have ignored the email, could have simply signed a copy I sent him or even offered up his next signing as when he could do it.  He could have asked for something in exchange, what have you.  Instead, he did what may have been a simple gesture for him that made Hannah’s year.  She not only got the book she’d been dying to read, she got it early and signed!

That was classy.

So I am plugging Jim’s book.  I’m a chapter in, that’s all.  If you like thrillers, adventure series, all that . . . then pick up one of his books.  It’s not just because he’s a good writer – which he is – but because, if Hannah’s situation can tell you anything, it should tell you how he’s a good man.