On the Origin of Clumsy

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There are a few things that I know frustrate my wife:

  • When the kids refuse to go to sleep.
  • When the dog barks for no reason.
  • When she drops things and they break.

That last one predates the kids and the dog, and whenever it happens, she asks “Why do I have to be so clumsy?”

“Mistakes happen,” I say. “You aren’t clumsy.”

“Stop trying to make me feel better,” she says. “You aren’t the one who just shattered a glass on the floor.”

“Fair enough,” I say.

Anyway, “clumsy” is a pretty interesting word, and I was curious about its origin. So I looked it up.

According to here, it dates back to late 1500’s Middle-English as another form of “clumsid”, or “acting as if benumbed/numb with cold”.

This is a great word because that’s exactly what it is like to be clumsy. When your hands are so cold that you can’t hold on to something, or when your foot is asleep and you try to walk on it anyway, you are literally being clumsy.

So the next time my wife accidentally drops something, I’m going to take her hands (which are always freezing cold) and hold them in mine until the clumsiness passes. Also, I just really like holding her hands. She’s super awesome.

Requiem for a Stay-cation

Vacations are over too soon.

Last week, I got to spend the entire week with my family. It was beautiful.

We cleaned the house better than it has been cleaned in a while. I power mopped our faux-wood floors while my wife scrubbed dog drool off the baseboards. We rented a carpet cleaner and went to town on our carpets and furniture. We daily cursed our dog’s habit of shedding and flinging drool everywhere. But in the end, our house was good enough to show professionally.

And we had fun. We took the girls to storytime at the library. My oldest got some great exposure to other kids her age (which she doesn’t normally get) and my youngest grooved along to the singing and dancing. We went to the zoo instead of the children’s museum (because it was about half the price), and we petted some goats and saw the bears being fed (the bears were not fed goats though, they keep most of the animals separate). My wife and I saw Iron Man 3 at the cheap theater. And we went to the mall for jeans and a carousel ride.

And now we are back to work. But that isn’t really a bad thing. My wife and I enjoy our jobs, and there is something to be said for going to bed earlier than 10:30pm, especially when the reason you are staying up late is to clean dog drool off of stuff.

But just for a minute, let us remember the stay-cation as it was, with a series of photos from the zoo.

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Some kids get their photos taken with John Ball by sitting on the lap of statue, but that seemed like a lot of work when they are already happily buckled into their double stroller.

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Here is my beautiful wife making a “why are you taking my picture?” face.

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Said my daughter of this cat, “That kitty is bigger than Aunt Dawn’s kitty.” Knowing the cat she is talking about, this cat is certainly taller, but I bet they weight about the same.

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This isn’t a great shot due to the reflection, but you can tell that my girls are pretty fearless when it comes to 800 lb bears within inches of their faces.

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My oldest dutifully looking my direction, even though there are cool wallabies to see behind her.

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I believe she is happy about playing on the train, but it is possible she’s just bearing her teeth to passersby as a way of claiming the train as her own.

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Does any child glow quite as bright as a red-haired child?

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Here I am with my youngest, picking up some neat goat diseases. Just kidding, there’s hand sanitizer posted just outside the petting area.

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You may notice a mark on my youngest’s cheek. She was recently in an off-off-broadway run of the toddler edition of Scarface. She played the title character.

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And back to the train for a 3/4 family photo. Also, what was my oldest’s favorite thing at the zoo? The animals? No. It was this train.

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I’m pretty sure that she is considering moving in.

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After a brief close encounter in the aviary, we beat a hasty retreat, which is good, because I am no fan of birds. They might as well have called this part of the zoo the “Get pooped on” room.

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High-Fiving a Gorilla.

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Here I am with my oldest. We just told the goat that the tree was made of candy. Silly goat.

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And finally, as we left the zoo, we encountered a sea monster in the pond by the parking lot. It seems peaceful enough, until you get too close.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States of America. It is a day of eating too much, watching sporting events, and saying what we are thankful for. And since I overeat regularly without need for special day and I don’t really pay attention to sporting events, I will focus my attention on the third item.

I am thankful for my wife. She is better than I deserve or could ever ask for. Her work ethic is beyond reproach. Her smile brightens the room. And her sense of humor is perfectly suited to the sick things that make me laugh.

I am thankful for my daughters. They are pure delight and so worth the effort and the sleepless nights. I love being their dad almost as much as I love being my wife’s husband.

I am thankful for my job. Baker Book House is not only the best indie bookstore in the world, it is the best place to work in the world. For being a retail store, I have a standard schedule, good pay, and am surrounded by people whose company I honestly enjoy. Thank you Herman Baker for starting your wonderful store so many years ago!

I am thankful for my pastor. Pastor Nelson Koon helps the Bible come alive through his preaching and his lifestyle. Though this is his first church after Bible school, our pastor has maturity beyond his years and a deep understanding of the needs of his flock.

I am thankful for new opportunities that find me. In the last year, I started this blog, I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book, I am getting back to review books, I have a mutually beneficial advertising arrangement with a pizza shop in town, I got to be part of the committee that made decisions for the building project at my bookstore, and on and on. So many cool things have happened and I feel honored to be part of them all.

And I am thankful for you, my reader. I know that sounds cheesy but having people read what I write validates this crazy dream of mine to be a writer. Thank you and have a Happy Thanksgiving today!

I am a husband. Part II

A while back, I was inspired by a series of posts that Jessie Clemence had done on her blog and I interviewed my wife. That interview has proven to be one of my most popular posts over time, which makes sense, because my wife makes everything better.

Well, anyway, she and I were chatting about ideas for blog posts and she asked if I would consent to her interviewing me. I did. Here are her questions and my answers.

What are you looking forward to most about being a father of two?

I love being a parent and seeing you (my wife) as a parent. Our daughter is simply adorable and I can’t wait to see another little girl who is half me and half you (my wife again). Also, I’m looking forward to seeing how Adie is with her sister.

What other hobbies do you have besides writing?

I collect Lego sets, specifically the viking, adventure, and castle sets. Though I just saw some Lord of the Rings themed sets that make me want to eat my words about how I hate that Lego is going after franchises. I also collect Dr Pepper knock-offs (the regional drinks that try their best to be Dr Pepper without coming anywhere close). My favorite is probably Doctor by the Our Family brand, because it didn’t even bother to come up with a replacement for Pepper like Dr. Thunder, Dr. Nehi, and Dr. M did. Plus, I am a fan of the show Doctor Who, who also goes by simply, the Doctor.

What is something that you do that gives you personal satisfaction or makes you proud?

I am a sucker for praise, especially of any of my creative endeavors. I know that I should care less or not at all what other people think about stuff, but I also know that I’m a born people-pleaser, and it makes me happy to make other people happy. If I can create a thing that gives joy, it will give me joy. It is probably strange then that one of my novels is dystopian and doesn’t end happily. I guess I’m complicated.

If you could be any character from your novels or short stories, which would you be? Why?

I would love to be Tom, the invisible roommate of my Thom & Tom series. He’s such a goofball and doesn’t care what people think about him. He lives by his own rules and whether he intends to or not, brings a bit of joy to his roommate, Thom. Also, he’s invisible, so that’s pretty cool.

If you could make any book you’ve read reality, what would you choose?

I love the idea that M. I. McAllister’s Mistmantle series could be happening for real somewhere, that there could really be an island of chivalrous squirrels, playful otter, bustling hedgehogs, and hardworking moles living in harmony. Plus, many of my other favorite books have some pretty scary bits that I would hate to see in reality.

What is it that, in your opinion, makes you so incredibly awesome?

My wife. She’s the awesome one. You were probably just thinking of her. I don’t blame you. I like to think of her too.

If you could have a super power, which would you choose? Would you let people know about your power or use a secret identity?

I would like the ability to transform one kind of substance into another kind of substance, like iron into gold, or dirt into gasoline. I would be called “The Alchemist”. Unless I had some kind of invincibility that went along with my other powers, I would keep my identity secret. I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be safe otherwise. Plus, my family would always be in danger of being kidnapped for ransom and such. So yeah, a secret identity would be good. I’m not sure how I’d fight crime, but I bet I could give more to charity, and that’s like the same thing.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? What is it?

I very much enjoy the game Diablo II. I know that Diablo III just came out, and someday I’m sure we’ll get it, but at the moment, I don’t know when we’d play.

Do you think watching TV can help or hurt your writing and level of creativity?

I’m a bit torn on this question. I was a the quintessential couch potato growing up, and I consumed a lot of television. As a result, I learned a lot about how stories are put together and about characters that I enjoyed. I would come up with stories and drawings based on what I had seen on television. Today, I watch a couple of shows every few weeks, but I don’t have time for much more. If I were as addicted to television now as I was when I was growing up, I know that my writing would suffer, but more due to the time constraints than to being dumbed down by TV.

What is one things that never fails to make you laugh?

Juvenile bodily functions. Every time.

What is your favorite book of all time?

I have to pick just one? Probably The Hobbit, because of its unique point of view. Not many books can pull off a third person story told by a first person narrator with second person asides.

If you could only use 4 words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Married, Genial, Creative, Inquisitive

What is the best part of being my husband?

The best part is the fact that I don’t have to leave you at the end of the date anymore. When we were dating, I hated going home. Now your home is my home. As far as specifically be married to you though, I love that you are good at things like math and budgets, and that I know I can trust you will all areas of life.

Didn’t my wife ask a bunch of well-thought-out, wonderful questions? I’m starting to think that she should be the one with the blog.

I am a cliché.

I admit it. I write in coffee shops. But I refuse to admit that I do it so people will look at me and think that I am cool for being a writer who writes in coffee shops. I know that people are really thinking, “Wow, I didn’t think people actually did that.”

Well I do. And here are my reasons why:

I have a lovely wife and daughter at home with whom I would rather spend time. Seriously, I love my family. If given the choice, I would choose spending time with them over just about anything. (“Why are you choosing to write then?” you ask. Sometimes I wonder myself, but there are stories in my head that need to get out, lest I go crazy).

I need some noise around me but not directly involving me. I can focus best when I have a bit of ambient noise like music, or traffic, or chairs scraping the floor, or the susurrus of quiet conversation.

I do not see the chores that need to be done from the coffee shop. Dishes, laundry, and making the bed are very hard to do when I am not home. They are all good things to do, but good things don’t like to leave room for potentially great things (Listen to me acting like my writing is a great thing! Such audacity!). I am forced to focus on my writing when it is the only activity available away from home.

I like tasty coffee drinks that I do nothing to prepare except order. And though I know that my wife loves me enough to prepare me tasty coffee drinks, I do not want to ask her to do that. I also like to tell myself that I am stimulating my local economy.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am a cliché. But if you like my reasons and decide to try it for yourself, you may want to ease into it. Here are a few ideas of the top of my head to avoid looking like a cliché coffee shop writer: sit in a dark corner, dress in a non-writerly way (maybe full football gear?), shout out gamer terminology at random (Noobz!), and anytime someone gets close enough to see your screen, alt-tab it to a Google search for “How not to intimidate your friends with how cool you are.”

Anyway, thanks for reading.