Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Giving Tree Band rocks BloNo as The Band on Halloween


Nephew Erik is such a great musician.  On Halloween he played the organ, piano, sang an entire The Band song in falsetto, played his new-to-him 1950s Epiphone guitar like The Edge and Dickie Betts, and of course mandolin.  It's a joy to watch him play.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Leaf peeping walk

Took the boys, now 10 3/4 and 6 1/4, and the newish dog, Monty, out to the woods yesterday for a walk.  The leaves were absolutely glowing.
Monty, who we've had for just over a year now.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Teddy Buckman's

We took the boys to the new LeRoy restaurant, Teddy Buckman's, last night for dinner.  It's the second time I've been there and the first for the rest of the family.  Things are going pretty well for only being in business a month.  I had a great burger at lunch a couple weeks ago and was stoked to try some barbecue.    I split a slab of ribs with Henry and Bob had brisket.  Both were heavily sauced and the ribs were very tender.  I would prefer to be in control of the sauce, but it was fine.  Bob and I agreed the side vegetables were amazing.  I wish every restaurant served such high quality side veggies.  Henry had chicken & dumpling soup that was also fantastic.  He went on and on about it was the best soup OF HIS LIFE.  The soup portion was very large for $3.99.

The design and remodeling is beautiful.  It looks really great inside the old bank.  But with all the hard surfaces there needs to be some kind of noise dampening in the main dining room.  It was very loud with about 3/4 of the tables full.  Also our booth benches and the table were sliding all over on the new wood laminate floors.  Twice Bob got up to push the boys booth bench back into the right spot.

I have high hopes for Teddy Buckman's to be around a long, long time.  I love not having to drive to BloNo for dinner.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Millikin Jazz band 50th anniversary concert

Bob and I went to Decatur to meet with friends and attend the Millikin Jazz Band 50th anniversary concert.  The music was stellar.  The student groups blew me away.  I only continued playing bassoon in college through my freshman year.  I can now see through the lens of being 14 years out from undergrad that college is a singular time for musicianship.  If you aren't going pro, it's the last opportunity to play music at that high a caliber.  What really blew me away were the alumni groups.  You could see the terror on the faces of each alum as they took a solo and then NAILED it.  And then the joy when he concert was over and people who hadn't performed publicly in decades had so much energy from nailing their music in a packed concert hall.  Beautiful.  It was a beautiful / amazing / inspirational event and I'm so, so glad we went.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Things are sailing right along here.  Spring has sprung and the boys have been shorn of their winter locks.  The thwacking of baseballs is replacing the tink tink tink of Minecraft. I have thrown myself into volunteering for the local children's baseball league and am enjoying it.  The garden and home improvement projects are being sketched out.  We will remove the brick patio from the backside of the house and re-use the bricks to pave around our garden boxes.  The plan is to till and grade the area of the yard where the brick patio and pool (that collapsed) were and then plant grass.  We would love to put in a new large deck, but over the winter we had to re-roof the house, so POOF went immediate plans for a new deck and pool.

Henry's independence is growing in leaps and bounds.  Yesterday he planned a park excursion with his classmates and the kids all rode their bikes and met up for an hour after school.  I think that's FABULOUS but at the same time it makes me anxious because there is one road between us and the favored park with a 45 mph speed limit without curbs or sidewalks. Quinn, well, Quinn thinks he is also eight and is constantly frustrated that he is not allowed to ride off on his bike like a big kid (or whatever it is Henry is doing).

Monday, January 14, 2013

No one uses Facebook like Nath Jones

No one uses Facebook like Nath Jones.  Last week she asked her friends and audience to pick a number between 1 and 280.  The first person chimed in 256 and so Nath agreed to write 256 (original content, EEP!) guest blog posts in 2013.  But first she moaned about the high number saying, 35 is a better number, why didn't you pick 35 or even 75.  Her thought process about her working / writing day is laid out completely.  It is by turns charming, fascinating, overwhelming, and by all means art separate and apart from her novels and short stories.  I offered to host her first couple of posts. Here is what Nath had to say when I asked her about her Facebook use.

"First off, I love absurdest writers. Beckett especially. So funny to me. But. I also feel that postmodernism has run its course. I think the work of fiction should be the work and that the writer should not detract attention from the work by calling attention to him or herself.

So. Basically. Somehow. I kept my bratty stuff out of the work while letting it run rampant online. As some kind of artistic statement, my Facebook page became a writer-calling-attention-to-herself crack house.

Here I am pulling up my blinds!
Here I am watering my plants!
Here I am cleaning the baseboards of my apartment!
Here's a picture!
Here's a song!
Here's a recipe!
Here's the sidewalk that I use when I go to drop some letters in the mailbox at the corner!
Here's a blade of grass!
Time to water the plants!
Time to wash the dishes!

I just took it to the absolute limit. I mean, come on. Even Proust would have let some awareness go in this era of hyper-aware digital content.

It arose out of many, many things. I think narcissism is just asinine. I think it's ridiculous to inform your friends and family about everything you're doing...absolutely right now this minute~! I mean NOW! And. It really bothered me that we have such a sense of urgency, such an impulse to over-share, such a ridiculously self-centered way of interacting with each other.

Self-representation requires SO much censorship. Anytime you make a choice about what to represent in reality, you're creating fiction. Yet, we all believe that "this is who I am!" when we put things on our Facebook pages.

I loved working with the dualist concept of identity as an id entity. There are things you put on Facebook to gain a certain kind of reputation or status. Here I am as the hot girl. Here I am as the doting mother. Here I am as the participatory work colleague. Here I am attending dutifully to my family. Here I am in love with my spouse/puppy.

But. No one's like here I am hating everyone I know! Here I am pissed off and antisocial! Here I am yelling at the guy in the meat department who can't even weigh my ribeye properly! Here I am screwing up my eyeshadow and nail polish! Here I am taking a left turn on red!

As we represent ourselves, we elide our humanity.

So I wanted to capture the inanity, the fracture, the pomposity, the duplicity.

It really is bizarre. I mean, bizarre. You would never do this stuff in person. You absolutely would not go up to everyone you know and say, "Here's a picture of my ass at a party I was at last night~!" I mean, I don't think you would.

Plus. Writers spend so long finding their voices for their work. It's very difficult. Then. Suddenly. You put an avatar up and it's all: this is me~! Egocentrism goes into high gear and absolutely everyone on the planet has a crystal clear writerly voice.

It just weirded me out.

Like. A lot.

Because. Right while I was coming to terms with myself as a writer, everyone else was finding themselves as a writer no problem. Without even knowing they were doing it. I was agonizing over exposing myself to the world in the intimate ways that writers do and must. But. No one else had a problem with it. It just made me laugh.

I just wrote into the fear. Wherever there was fear, I wrote it. If I was afraid of talking about my mother, hell, I posted about her all day long on Facebook. If I was afraid of capitalizing on my work? Fuck it. Used car salesman schtick all day. If I was worried about writing erotic scenes for my Methodist neighbor who lived across the street when I was little? Oh well. Get out the vibrators, ladies~! Let's get to it.

I just didn't want fear determining anything about my writing. I didn't want to have to avoid a topic, a voice, a truth, a judgment. No way. Writing serves no one if it cowers.

It also weirded me out how quickly people adopted these bizarre social media constructs. So. Personally. I think it's freaking hilarious to match a stream of consciousness with these social media feeds. Again. It's just the funniest most absurd thing. Your thoughts go in order. The associations do lead from one thing to the next. There is coherence--often. Not always. But. Often. And. So to offer a stream of consciousness in these clipped, reversed "real-time" contexts is just so, so, so fun.

Everyone was like, "You're doing it wrong!" I was like, "You're adapting and adopting something that has no credence for who you are~!" Conformity happened so fast. It really did worry me that people adhered so well, so quickly, so completely to constraints that reduced and limited ideas so totally.

Basically. We know that books can be fiction, that stories on websites can be fiction, but we assume that Facebook is not fiction.

I think Facebook absolutely is a fictional medium.

Basically. It goes back to show don't tell. There's no point in my telling people that Facebook is a weird place to display entire lives.

So. I just displayed my entire life and everyone was like, "That's weird."


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Man. It really did arise out of a lot of things. Because. It's also about partisanship--the way we align ourselves so totally with unilateral points of view to the exclusion of others. These self-selecting niches become self-reinforcing insular mindsets that are really dangerous for unity. Yet, no one can possibly care about and pay attention to everything that's currently available. It's a proving ground, a beta test. It's a voice in the wilderness. A transient mandala. A permanent transcript. And. Let's not kid ourselves: hell hath no fury, etc. It's about objectifying, validating, externalizing ambition. It's about diminishing, invalidating, and poking fun at American priorities. It's about powerful wills in action: earnest intent and abject futility, hope, dreams, quiet prayers, and the persistence of an insistent demand. It's about brands, about marketing, about managing a public reputation. It's about confidence and arrogance, permanence and evanescence. About judgment, criticism, and allowing myself to be hated on behalf of the work. It's about this just being a place to write--as much as a notebook. It's about people so easily accepting that this platform is an important reality and not just a silly online game. It's a sketchbook of time, of life, of emotion, of thought, of conflict, of noticing what matters about one life in society. It's about big business practices--corporate transparency. Do we really care what they're doing every minute? Does regulation need to march in goosestep with every move any business makes? It's about small business--the diligent artisan at work in the pizza window, showing up every day, day in and day out, producing quality product reliably. It's about insanity and making a portrait of individuals with mental illness. It's about resisting the stereotypes and caricatures of what the Writer is and has to be. It's about voyeurism and the panopticon--all those cameras at so many intersections of all our lives.

Hell. I don't know what this FB page is. It's just my response to the culture, to the imposed constraint. 

And. Mainly. It was about thinking in public. We are such a sexually explicit culture. It really was subversive and revolutionary to think in public.

Odd. Because. Much greatness relies upon the ability of individuals to think clearly, rationally, and with thorough deliberation.

I don't know. It was just fun." 

You can find Nath on Goodreads, Scribd, YouTube, and NathJones.com.

Friday, January 11, 2013

How Nath got the guts to quit pharmacy and write about life.

I went to high school (nearly 20 years ago) with some of the brightest kids in Indiana.  We were plucked from our home schools to go to nerd boarding school.  As we approach 40 my classmates are extremely interesting people and my favorite people to keep up with on Facebook.  My first memory of Nath (rhymes with math) Jones was the evening of a dance.  I was waiting and waiting near the front doors of the dorm for a boy and Nath hollered out that I had nice legs. 

Now Nath is novelist who does wild things on Facebook.  What I wanted to find out is how she had the guts to leave her career as a pharmacist for a writer's life.  I'm intrigued by people who are driven to leave stability for an artistic endeavor because that absolutely scares the bejeezus out of me.  So I asked and here is Nath Jones' answer:

To write, you need time and money. How much? I have no idea. It seems likely that writing requires every minute an aspirant can devote.

I've always written. I stapled pages of blue-lined kindergarten pulp paper together capturing the Magic Marker lives of Strawberry Shortcake and her nemesis. I wrote in hot pink-paged Lisa Frank notebooks in seventh grade. I wrote every moment I could in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the Ozarks.

I just write. It's my life.

But. It's yet to be my living.

I've had lots of jobs but pharmacy provided me with stability, job security, flexible hours, and professional status in the community.

I worked full-time as a retail pharmacist for eight years and loved it. There's no other job where you talk to so many people about so many things in one day. And the conversations are of vital importance to the moment of each life. It was such a gift to be present for others in that mode of service.

For the first four years as a pharmacist, I worked the regular hours. But I was so discontented not having enough time to write. I spoke to my boss and the district's pharmacy scheduler. They were very supportive and helped me establish a writing life. I worked bankers hours as a writer M-F, 9-5 and worked as a pharmacist nights and weekends.

It was fantastic. I finally had my focus where I wanted it: on writing books. But. It was also exhausting. Beyond exhausting. I worked two full-time jobs for four years. Both were demanding and I had almost no time at all for friends, family, and maintaining health of mind, body, and spirit.

So. I talked to some people, my mom and boyfriend at the time in particular. And. They said: Go for it. Try writing full-time. Pharmacy will be there.

I found that purist idealizations of an artistic vision are very hard to implement. Art and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive. When I put my work in the context of a business start-up, suddenly things became possible. I could take action. I could make progress. I made a business plan and took the plunge.

The concept in October 2010 was: take two years off pharmacy, set up the online infrastructure of the writing business, write four e-books, upload them to four big e-book platforms (Kindle, Smashwords, Google Books, and Scribd), and finish the manuscript for that debut novel.

It was a great idea. I had a plan. I worked the plan.

But. Well. Wow. Two years and two and a half months later? Um. Pharmacy jobs are hard to come by in Chicago. The online infrastructure for the writing business is still nascent. Three of the four e-books are available. And. The novel manuscript needs another draft.

But. I don't care. Writing is my life's purpose. Every day I wake up excited, fulfilled, ready to learn, and energized. Ultimately, you really don't need that much money to write. But you absolutely do need time.
In the not too distant future, by Monday I hope, I'll share Nath's post about the way she uses Facebook which is completely different than anyone you know. 

You can find Nath on Goodreads, Scribd, YouTube,  and NathJones.com.