Monday, February 27, 2006

Puppy IQ

Crazy Train (of thought)

Meagan has informed me you can tell if you are sick or not by the sound of your poop splashing in the toilet. Says it’s something she learned on Oprah. I hope she remembers her homework, too.

I had the pleasure of photographing a half-dozen beautiful women over the weekend. They had come together to help me with a project, and I was so grateful (or didn’t want to part with them) I offered to take them all to lunch after we finished. Well, it didn’t take long for them to forget I was at the table, and soon the girl talk started flying. Guys, if you only knew what they say about us…

I can’t believe Gregg Allman is 59 years old.

The worst news I got this weekend was that Don Knotts passed away. No one could crack me up like Barney, except maybe Luther Heggs, or Roy Fleming, or perhaps Dr. Jesse Haywood.

Jill thinks Princess is a genius dog. If so, why does she come when I call out “Mayonnaise!”?

Marital Bliss

Jill and I landed Saturday evening reservations at one of Atlanta’s hottest new restaurants, a gourmet Mexican place. She loves Mexican and southwestern food. Saturday afternoon I went with her to a medical appointment, one that had her bit nervous. Being a good husband, I rubbed her shoulders and went through some relaxation techniques with her, including visualization. After she said she was good I asked her what she had thought about. “Guacamole,” she said.

Kid-bytes

I met Meagan and 11 of her friends at a restaurant this weekend. Just when you think your kid thinks she is too old to be affectionate with you, you get surprised. She sat in my lap in front of everyone and gave me a big kiss. I was in heaven. I get along well with her friends and a few call me by my middle name, “Eugene.” Well, it’s now been shortened to “Euge,” which is kinda sweet except that it rhymes with HUGE.

Today’s Rant

It always irritates me when I notice that the guy on the corner begging for money has a better cell phone than me.

Book Report

Of all my books, I get more reader mail in response to the first one, the one I wrote for my daughter. Most are heartfelt messages from dads and daughters that have a great relationship and have read and enjoyed the book. Now and then I get one from someone who is heart sick, someone that did not have the father she wanted. I share this message with you as a way to say what I believe about parent-child relationships, that is, it’s never too late to make it work.

“Mr. Lang, I just wanted to say thank you for the gift of your book, "100 Reasons Why A Daughter Needs A Dad." I am a thirty-something year old woman who has been raised by a single mother. My father lived only minutes away throughout my life; however, I barely saw or talked with him. Now in his sixties he has made attempts to be a part of my life. As you might image, it is hard for me to let go of the past.”

I wrote back: “I cannot say enough words to make up for the deprivation you have endured. However, I can hope that you will give your Dad a chance. He may be able to do more for you in the next few years than he could have in the last thirty. Yes, love is better delivered over the years of a lifetime, but it also better delivered late than not at all.”

Friday, February 24, 2006

TGIF

Crazy Train (of thought)

For dinner tonight I am cooking Chicken Puttanesca, sautéed garlic spinach and sun-dried tomato couscous. As I described the meal for Jill while she was getting ready to leave for work, she rubbed her belly and said “Yummy” quite a few times. Then, later, when I was helping her get her things in the car, I noticed she looked perplexed. “Something wrong?” I asked. “What’s pootin’ sauce?” she responded.

I think Princess has access to the Internet. Just as I finished my Lamb and Rice post yesterday, she came alongside my desk and puked on the floor, and then pranced off with her head held high in a self-congratulatory fashion. I think I’ll give her a bag lunch and twenty dollars, and leave her on a curb somewhere.

Jill and I both do the laundry. I am able to match everything and get it in its proper drawer. Jill, my sweet darling wife, matches nothing, just throws it in there. Then, when she cannot find a mate to something, it goes in its own “orphan” drawer. You won’t believe what all I’ve found in these drawers. I’m thinking of organizing an adoption day and have the girls sort through everything with me, and then ban Jill from doing laundry.

Marital Bliss

One day recently when I was going through the orphan sock drawer, I found old hotel keys from all the places Jill and I have been, programs from plays or ballets we have seen together, my letters to her, even a few dried roses. I didn’t know she saved all these things. That women is my greatest treasure, I love her so much.

Kid-bytes

Meagan goes through stages of thinking I am a royal pain to not being able to get enough of me. Right now, thankfully, we are in the latter stage. I get hugs and kisses, text messages, and lots of email with those hieroglyphic symbols kids use all the time. She’s been ending her notes with “Love you like a fat kid loves cake,” and <3 (a kiss). My life is soooo good.

Today’s Rant

I saw a debate last night about the Morales case and whether the death penalty should be abolished. One goober head kept saying it doesn’t work. Like I said yesterday, it would if it were used more often and more rapidly. It’s like this, when you kid acts up, you say “If you do that again, you go to time out.” But then when your kid acts up, you fail to put him in time out. This happens again and again. Soon the kid learns that you just threaten punishment, but never implement it, so he goes on to become a terrorist, the kind of kid your neighbors don’t want in their house. Your neighbor, however, always puts his kid in time out, and seldom has to do so, because his kid is a choirboy, respectful and obedient, because he hates the way the basement smells and is afraid of the spiders down there where he has to serve his time out. Now that’s a deterrent that works because it is implemented!

Book Report

Sometimes I get reader mail that is a teachable moment, something worth sharing, something that might benefit another. Yesterday I got a note from someone seeking advice on how to leave the one she’s with for the one she wants. Here’s what I told her (edited somewhat to protect the identity of the sender):

“Being separated for three years is like being a little bit married. You can’t do that and move on to a new relationship with fidelity and integrity. Your heart may belong to one man, but it simply doesn’t look like it. If you want the new guy to stay, you must let him know you will commit to him, not expect him to hang around while you try to negotiate your way out of old promises. So choose one man, and then take the necessary steps to focus only on that relationship. You must pour your passion into one glass, lest two glasses be less than full.”

I hope she makes a decision. Living in limbo isn’t fun for anyone.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lamb and Rice

Crazy Train (of thought)

Meagan had a little talk with me about posting the details of her bodily functions. I promised not to identify HER bodily functions in the future. In the future, if it is necessary to write about a bodily function, I will attribute the function to Somebody, who could be anybody.

It rained yesterday and was cold, too. I was driving around town with the windows closed up tight and the heater going to keep the interior warm and toasty for all. Somebody farted and nearly killed me.

Last night Jill and I took a break from our evening duties and laid on the bed for a power nap. I held her close, whispered a few things in her ear, and kissed her check. Just when I was beginning to think we would skip the nap, Princess pranced in the room. She positioned herself beside the bed, gagged a few times, and then spewed regurge. Nothing like the aroma of recycled lamb and rice to kill a tender moment.

Like the new look of my Blog? Thanks to Dan Dautrich, who gave me a few tips on how to customize my template.

Marital Bliss

Jill and I are planning a road trip in April. We are going to drive the coastline of Florida, staying in bed & breakfast inns along the way. She plans to navigate while I drive. The last time we had a big road trip planned, driving from Atlanta to Cleveland, OH, she was navigating. She used MapQuest to get directions, mapped it out on an atlas, and put it all in a folder. I was impressed, until we set out, that is. We were less than a quarter mile from home when she opened the folder, read the directions for the entire trip to me, put her folder away, and then fell asleep. Thanks babe, but I’ll drive and navigate. You just go to sleep, and I’ll wake you when we get there.

Kid-bytes

I was going through the Meagan Box (a cardboard box filled with old photos, cards, artwork, baby paraphernalia, report cards and achievement certificates) yesterday looking for her PSAT scores. When I removed the lid I was taken back in time. Fond memories overcame me as I reached inside and sorted through the evidence of the life we have shared over the last 15 years. Finger painting, hand prints, misspelled notes of affection, hilarious drawings and more. It took me almost an hour to find her PSAT. Not sure if I was slow at the task, or if I struggled to see through the tears.

Today’s Rant

Give me a break. Why are some fighting so hard to protect the rights of that arse Michael Morales in CA who barely eluded the death penalty the other day? The doctors who were supposed to monitor the execution found themselves in an ethical quandary? I bet the father of the dead little girl, the one who was raped and bludgeoned with a hammer until she died, wouldn’t have that dilemma. I have three strong opinions on the death penalty issue: 1) It doesn’t work as a deterrent because it isn’t used often enough. Crank up the chair more often and put the fear of God and unfavorable odds in the hearts of Morales and others like him, 2) When a criminal commits murder, when he stripped another life of all rights, he then also should lose all rights except those required by the Constitution, which do not include air conditioning, color television, hot meals, hot water, fitness equipment, etc., and 3) the victim’s family should be able to appoint one person as the Revengenator who gets about 10 minutes with the none-lethal weapon of choice to work out a little frustration on the perp.

Book Report

It’s Thursday, the day the New York Times releases the new list of best selling books. Every author in North America has clicked on the site by now, hoping to see their book listed. Some will click more than once, hoping a mistake was made and corrected, and their book is now in the top 5. I know, because I’ve done it. Gotta go, need to check again, just in case!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The burn that keeps on burning

Crazy Train (of thought)

Today is trash day, and I was going around each room collecting what rubbish I could find. You know, you can tell a lot about people from their trash. Linley’s basket had enough candy wrappers to choke an elephant, or send it into a diabetic coma had it eaten that much candy. Meagan’s was overstuffed with tissue. Think I’ll invest in a paper company by day’s end. Jill’s had lots of beauty product containers, none that were completely empty. Perhaps an allowance is in order. Mine? Yards of dental floss and plenty of cotton swabs. I like my teeth and ears clean. If only I could get Princess to use a litter box. Then I wouldn’t be outside picking up individual puppy nuggets.

Jill likes to think she is famous for two recipes, English Trifle and something called matchstick carrots. I’ve never seen her cook either in two years. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a matchstick carrot pan.

Marital Bliss

Jill has a sore neck and it has kept her from sleeping well the last few nights. We bought some sports cream and I rubbed it on her neck and shoulders, giving her a good massage last night. The crème was strong; I could feel its burn in my hands. A while later I had to go to the bathroom. You know where I’m going. Let’s just say I was decommissioned last night, and the goodwill I earned with my nursing had to be put in the bank. I was reminded of a time when I made salsa with habaneras…

Kid-bytes

Probably the highlight of my day on Monday, when I took Meagan to the University of Georgia on a field trip, was at lunch, after we had toured campus and checked out the dorms. I was talking about how much fun she would have living in Athens. My precociously mature, self-reliant, independent teenager sat across from me and fiddled with her salad. “Is something wrong?” I asked.
“Will you come visit me?” she asked.
My heart melted, and tears came to my eyes. I wanted to reach across the table and kiss her. “Of course I will,” I answered, “at least once a week.”
She started to choke on her salad. “Ah, that’s a bit much,” she managed to get out. It didn’t matter. My little girl had told me she would miss me when she leaves home.

Today’s Rant

I closed a savings account yesterday, one in which I had been depositing pocket change for nearly ten years. I had been saving for Meagan’s first car, and now needed to put the cash in her checking account in preparation for buying it (she wants a Murano). The bank teller gave me the 100 question quiz about why I wanted to close the account, why didn’t I want a loan, why I didn’t want a CD (because 3.25% is a joke), etc. Hey lady, it’s my money. Just give it to me!

Book Report

I sat with a friend and hopeful future author yesterday, telling her my story and giving suggestions on how she could get started with her book project. Getting published is a highly competitive sport. Writers often don’t tell each other much more than what can be gleaned from the How To books and magazines. I gave her the inside details on what to do. It’s the see one, do one, teach one principle, the way I’ve learned almost everything I know. If I can help you, give me a call.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Caution, hot coffee

Crazy Train (of thought)

Should I be worried that our family sing-along song is Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol”?

If I looked up and saw my wife on national TV complaining that the movie Curious George promotes cruelty to animals and she forbids the children from watching it, I would get in my car, go get the kids and take them to the movie while the men in the white suits driving the padded van had a little conversation with my wife.

When will we understand that it is the bonehead ideas like banning the game of Tag from school that has created the culture of whining adults screaming “It’s not fair” when reality kicks them in the arse?

Quote of the Day: “Don’t you hate it when a bugger dries to the inside of your nose and sticks like shrink wrap?” - Anonymous

Marital Bliss

I really believe that men and women would be happier in their relationships if they were getting the recognition and appreciation that is deserved. It is the littlest things that count so much. I’d rather be thanked for a day to day thing than applauded for taking the family on vacation. That is why Jill’s letter to me means so much. When she writes, “Thank you for doing all the grocery shopping and cooking. I live like a Princess,” she motivates me to do even more for her. Humor helps, too. When she writes, “Thank you for not killing my dog when she has a poopie on our most expensive rug,” I give that little doodoo machine another stay of execution.

Kid-bytes

Meagan is just seven weeks away from getting her license. Although she drives pretty well, she still has a few things to master, like judging how close she is driving to the curb. I told her several times yesterday to move toward the center of the lane, and she told me I was worried about nothing. Just then she slammed into a curb. As the Rover began its second revolution of a triple axel, I saw the hot lava of coffee erupting over the rim of my cup. In the corner of my eye I saw a sign in front of a church that said “The end is near.” I heard myself screaming like a girl when I realized my boys were covered in lava. Then I heard Meagan laughing as she managed to regain control of the car.
“Dad, you look like you wet your pants,” she said.
“I told you,” I managed to say through clenched teeth.
“Let’s not tell anybody about that,” she suggested.
Yeah, let’s not.

Today’s Rant

I like to listen to my music loud from time to time, but I had the home training to know to turn it down when I stop at a traffic light, cuz the guy next to me might not like my tunes. I guess it is one of those courtesies that are fading with time. Perhaps that explains why some of these little hoodlums driving $10 cars on $10,000 wheels keep their junk cranked up so high that the windows in my car vibrate when they pull alongside me. Hey buddy, when you’re deaf, don’t come crying to me.

Book Report

More confessions from the writing desk – yes, authors also check their sales ranking on Amazon.com and the Barnes and Noble website. We like it when our numbers climb.

It has been fun to see a few of my books translated in foreign languages, but now I don’t know what to do when I get fan mail written in Spanish and Korean.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Twinkies and more

Crazy Train (of thought)

To the little Twinkie in the silver BMW 3 series traveling on Spalding Drive yesterday, who couldn’t drive the speed limit until someone attempted to pass you, who then accelerated rapidly to thwart the pass attempt, BITE ME.

Marital Bliss

I’ve written a couple of books for my wonderful wife; the first was titled “Why I Love You: 100 Reasons.” Yesterday, after I returned home from making four stops to purchase all that was on my list, after driving 2.5 hours to take Linley somewhere she wanted to go, and just before starting dinner, I found a letter on my desk. It was from Jill, and she listed 100 reasons why she loves me. It was the best letter I’ve ever received, the best gift she could have given me. I will cherish it always. If the house ever catches fire, it will be one of the things I make sure I take with me.

Kid-bytes

Meagan and I practiced parallel parking this weekend, to prepare her for the upcoming driving test. It was so funny – sometimes 8 feet from the curb, sometimes one tire over the curb, and now and then perfectly placed. On each perfect park, we had to do a “Wahoo” and sometimes she jumped out of the car to do a cartwheel or split in the parking lot. Love to make my girl happy!

On the way home from visiting my parents Saturday night, Jill and Linley slept in the back seat while Meagan and I chatted quietly up front. Linley was leaning against the side window, her breath fogging it up quite a bit. Sometime during the drive she woke up and started writing messages in the condensation, things like “Smile,” “drive carefully,” even “Jesus saves.” She has a cold and sneezed a few times during her efforts. I had to clean the goop off the window yesterday so I could see out the window, and I couldn’t help but smile at the little hearts she had drawn, now dried and a bit crusty, but precious all the same.

Today’s Rant

How many more partners in extramarital affairs need be trotted before the jury before the loyal Atlanta voters finally figure out their ex-Mayor, the Dishonorable Bill Campbell, ain’t all that and a bag of chips? People, he could afford the romping romances because he was lining his pockets with illegal proceeds! Wake up!!!

Book Report

I walked into a Barnes and Noble yesterday just to check on their inventory. It’s one of those things writers do. We like to see our books on a shelf. I was blown away. Not only were my books in three different sections of the store, but there was a large display up front and center promoting the books. Usually the publisher pays for this kind of placement, but occasionally a store will promote titles that sell well at their location. I can’t help it, I was feeling pretty proud of myself right then!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Observations from behind the wheel

Crazy Train (of thought)

I am one of those who are hard pressed to call curling a sport. I think I’ve seen enough to keep me from moving to Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Why do so many drivers run red lights but stop beneath KEEP MOVING signs?

I noticed today that the same guy has been standing at the corner for three weeks holding a cup and sign that says, “Please help, going to FL.” What, is he saving to charter a plane?

Have you ever wondered what an idiot looks like? I saw one today. Some guy (not the one with the cup and sign) ran across three lanes of moving traffic trying to flag down a bus. When it didn’t stop, he gave it the finger, and then started yelling at the drivers in cars who were blowing their horns at him. I looked at Meagan and said, “That is why you always drive with your doors locked.”

Hey, I’m only saying out loud just what you are thinking, and you know it!

Marital Bliss

I saw a program on the TV while on the treadmill at the gym this morning. It was about a woman who had had 30 plastic surgeries in 10 years. She admitted to being obsessed with her minor physical flaws. She looked bizarre; no telling how much money was wasted, all to end up on TV as an example of what not to do. Later, after I came home, I got an email from my wife telling me she couldn’t wait to get home and snuggle with me. I love my NATURAL woman! Let the weekend begin!

Kid-bytes

Cooking around our house is always an adventure. Jill will eat almost anything, she’s adventurous. I have been cooking for Meagan almost 16 years, so I have her figured out, unless she is on a diet I don’t know about. Now Linley, on the other hand, has a black & white approach to food. Either she loves it, or she hates it, and her opinion last week has nothing to do with her opinion this week. She loves pizza, light on the tomato sauce, thick on the cheese, lots of pepperoni. That’s just what I made for dinner last night. Served it, only to have her rejected it. “Don’t like Pizza anymore,” she said. This is why I have a 200 sheet pack of nori seaweed in the pantry. At least someone else ate the pizza.

Today’s Rant

Let me add Nancy Pelosi to the Barbara Boxer list. Where was all this Democratic outrage when Big Ted Kennedy had that little accident at the bridge with the woman who was not his wife?

Book Report

I’ve begun work on my next book about best friends. As I look for models I ask people, “Who is your best friend?” I can’t tell you how often I am told, “My husband” or “My wife.” How wonderful is that? Pretty dang wonderful, I think, and inspiring, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reader mail and dinner with Meagan

Crazy Train (of thought)

While at the wax museum in NYC, we noticed that no one was having their picture taken with Yoko Ono. Go figure.

Did you see that lady on Wife Swap wailing about her dogs having to sleep outside? “They’re adopted!” she screamed. What a riot!

OK, having said that, I bought the pink sweater for Princess that Jill wanted her to have. A dog with a wardrobe. Just shoot me.

Why can’t the weekend paperboy get the paper on the porch like the weekday guy can?

What is Barbara Boxer trying to accomplish? I’d rather watch a root canal video than listen to her.

Marital Bliss

My sweet darling is sick today, but she went into work anyway. I sent her with some hot homemade soup for lunch. I hope she feels better soon. I’ve kissed her so much I am sure to get the crud, too. Well, we do share everything.

Kid-bytes

Meagan and I went to dinner last night on a dad-daughter date. The conversation went something like this:

“Good, that hot waiter is here.”
“Is that why you picked this restaurant?”
“Do you think he notices me?”
“How can he not, you’re prancing around for him.”
“I’m going to tell him I want to have his children.”
“Tell him before we order, perhaps we’ll get extra calamari.”
“How much are you going to spend on my birthday?”
“I don’t have to think about that for another two months.”
“Well I do, I need to pick stuff out.”
“You don’t think I can pick out something?”
“You have no fashion sense. By the way, what are you wearing to the parents’ reception at school tomorrow?”
“I thought I would just stay in my pajamas.”
“Freak.”
“Just write your phone number on the table. If he’s interested, he‘ll call.”
“I just farted. Do you think he heard me?”

Today’s Rant

I include my email address in each book so my readers can contact me if they wish. I respond to every email I receive. I got one yesterday from someone who seems a little, shall we say, off center. I responded with a polite “thanks for your note” kind of note, that’s it. Nothing harsh, but clearly nothing that invited a dialogue. Well, this reader writes back today, outraged that I didn’t take more interest in her message, that I didn’t have something more personal to say. Who am I, her priest, her therapist?

Book Report

I received my copies of the new Brothers and Sisters book yesterday. I love it. It is a tribute to my siblings and my children. I hope it is something that will have meaning for them for years to come. That is perhaps what I enjoy most about writing the books, being able to put into words, in a permanent and long-lasting form, how I feel and what I am thinking, and then finding that one of the books has touched someone else in a profound way. It is a treat, a real blessing. Although it may seem I contradict myself because of the Rant above, I love getting email from readers. Ninety-nine in 100 are sweet, telling me personal stories that are always moving and many of which make me cry. One in 100 leave me grateful I live in a gated community.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Love and Happiness

Crazy Train (of thought)

I’ve had 5 couples either call or send a thank you note since our party Saturday night. I love southern manners.

Jill and I now know about 25% of the people in our neighborhood. It is great feeling connected, even if in some small measure, to your neighbors.

My editor says she likes the rewrite of the introduction to the next book. Great, now on to the next one.

My shrubs and trees are beginning to bud. Spring at last, spring at last!

Meagan and I are going to practice parallel parking this weekend. Please pray for me.

Marital Bliss

I adore my wife and compliment her each chance I get. I think she is beautiful and I let her know it. Sometimes it is a sweet word or two, like “I love to look at your face,” and other times it is more playful, like “That’s an awesome badonkadonk!” Either way, she appreciates it. I know because last night she told me she feels better about herself than she ever has in her life. I took that as a compliment. I've never been happier!

Kid-bytes

Sometimes you just have to give in to your kids and let them have a little break. I’m serious about eating right and hate sugar for breakfast. This morning on the way to school I took Linley, who has been quite sick with a cold, through a fast-food joint planning to get her an egg biscuit. She asked for two cinnamon buns instead. Wanting to cheer her up, I agreed. As she gobbled them down, she managed to tell me, “When I am a parent, I won’t dare let my kids eat like this.” Gotta love the irony.

Today’s Rant

It’s the day after the day of LOVE, and I am still feeling the sweet aftereffects of my wife’s company. Just can’t find it in me to be ranting about anything right now.

Book Report

Why can’t I sell my novel? By Spring I’ll have 13 books out, and with those under contract or on the drawing board, possibly 17 by Spring ’07. Over 2 million books have been sold. The novel is a southern romance, and those that have read it like it. What gives? Why can’t I break out of my genre? Ugh, so frustrating!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Crazy Train (of thought)

Accidents happen, and one happened over the weekend on Vice President Cheney’s hunting trip. I’ve heard some call for his resignation. Absurd? Absolutely.

The White House press corp has their panties in a bunch over nothing. I hate seeing adults stomping their feet in child-like tantrums.

I understand why we have hair in our ears and nostrils, but I don’t understand why it grows so vigorously. Furthermore, I can’t understand how some men can look at themselves in the mirror and not see these bushes growing out of their orifices.

Why do some drivers act as if they own the lane they are driving in, and refuse to move over to make way for a merging car? And I hate those people who can’t make a 90 degree turn and stay in their lane. Do they not understand what those wide painted stripes are for?

I saw a Volvo wagon with spinning hubcaps this morning. Now that was money well spent on bling bling.

Marital Bliss

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jill, my sweet and beautiful wife. With you in my life, every day is filled with love and celebration. I have never been happier than I have since finding you!

Kid-bytes

We told Linley she could pick the restaurant tonight for our Valentine’s dinner. She wants to have Chinese food. She could eat Chinese food for every meal, and it would always be the same order, wonton soup. Get this, she takes the wontons out of the soup and then drinks the broth. Would she just eat a bowl of chicken broth from a can? No, it doesn’t have any wontons in it.

Today’s Rant

My wise wife has advised me to be less political in my rants. She has always been excellent counsel, so I will continue to heed her advice. No more about taxes or other maters that can be polarizing. I hope I have not caused anyone great offense. Now, on to the rant…

I am self-employed, therefore I have no matching employer contributions to my payroll tax obligations. I have to pay the full 100%. It hurts like hell to write those checks. What is most painful is having to pay the unemployment tax. Unemployment tax! I am my company’s only employee. If I fired myself, could I file for unemployment compensation? Hardly, but I must pay the tax!

Book Report

It’s Valentine’s Day, the celebration of romance. My book, “Why I Love You: 100 Reasons,” is a perfect gift for someone special in your life, today or any day. While in Target yesterday buying candy for Linley to take to school, I saw customers with this book in the check-out line. It’s cool to think that today someone is reading my book and understanding how much they are loved. Here’s a sample:

I love you because…

I can feel your heart when you touch me.
You kiss me like you mean it.
You try to seduce me when you think no one is watching.
When I reach for you, you move closer.
You don’t demand more of me than I can give you.
Even though time has changed me, you still find me attractive.
You still chase me around the house.
When your arms fold around me, all my worries disappear.
You indulge my romantic impulses.
You still treat me like you did when we were first dating.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Love Signs

Crazy Train (of thought)

I’m so grateful I don’t travel to OH twice a month anymore. If I did, I’d be snowed in at the hotel, bored to death and missing my family right now.

This is the week the girls come home to us. Hurray!

My neighbor has a night club set up in his basement, mirror ball and all. After five hours of partying at my house, we moved over there to dance. It’s great to realize that even though I am half-way to 90, there’s still a little boogie in my shoes.

Meagan thinks Jill and I are dull and boring. She can’t believe that the couple she baby-sits for, who she thinks are so cool and hip, came to our party and had a blast.

Marital Bliss

After the long weekend of food preparation and entertaining, I was tired last night. My great wife, sensing my fatigue, filled the garden tub with hot bubbly water and opened a bottle of champagne, both for me. She’s priceless!

Kid-bytes

Today is the Valentine’s Day dance at Linley’s Cotillion class. I supposed to show up and dance with her. I’m going, but who knows if I will be welcomed or if this will be one of those embarrassing, life scarring moments for her, when I “should have known” that she didn’t want one of her parent figures to make an appearance at school for all her friends to see.

Today’s Rant

Even though I have lived at my current address for 16 months and have notified al of the move, some of those I conduct business with still ship material to my old address. What’s worse is the people at the old address KEEP the stuff that arrives there instead of forwarding or returning it. Is that theft, or just rudeness?

Book Report

The party was actually a promotional event for my book, “Love Signs.” I gave a signed copy to each female guest. I hope that word of mouth will help make a few sales in the near future. Here’s an excerpt:

Most often we express our love through language, as in simply saying, “I love you.” Other times we express our love through the written word, as when penning love poems or sweet notes to one another. And then there is love expressed in gestures, as in those things that we do for one another to give shape to and evidence of the true passions of our hearts. The words, “I love you,” whether spoken or written, are a profound statement. When coupled with an embrace, walking hand in hand, stealing a kiss, sharing a romantic nuzzle, or a hundred other tender, giving gestures, these words are elevated to an experience, a lasting memory, a delicate, reflective moment of proof, a love sign, that demonstrates you care for me and I care for you in a way that words alone cannot. This book is about showing love signs, those priceless moments we can create that allows our loved ones to think to themselves, “I know that I am loved.”

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Today is my birthday

Crazy Train (of thought)

My wife left a birthday gift for me on the seat of my car. It’s the little things that count so much.

Why would Bill Campbell pay for everything in cash unless he was trying to hide his trail, and why would he need to hide his trail if he is not guilty of anything?

I’m really not a Mariah Carey fan, but you’ve got to admire someone who came back strong from such a humiliating backslide.

Why does it always take 20 minutes to fill a prescription, even if you are the only customer in the pharmacy?

Marital Bliss

Sometimes a few words are all it takes to make everything worthwhile. Jill told me last night she feels like we have been on a date for two years (that’s how long I’ve known her). I felt like I floated off the floor. I put a little extra chicken pot pie in her lunch today, and I played fetch with Princess a bit longer than usual.

Kid-bytes

I turned 46 today, and Meagan cheerfully announced that I am now more than half-way to 90!

Today’s Rant

I was surprised to get a note from Tim Dickinson last night in response to my rant yesterday. Tim, I’d like to chat with you a little if you would give me an email address so that I can do so.

For the record, I understand why taxes are necessary. I use the infrastructure and public services and they must be funded somehow. I am also aware that there are the truly needy who cannot support themselves and must rely on taxpayers for their support. What I disagree with is the failure of this country to hold its citizens accountable for themselves, i.e., get fat, smoke and drink all your life, don’t save a dime, and don’t worry, either, because we have a bailout program for you! It is the entitlement mentality, looking to the government for everything, that kills me.

Book Report

No book report today.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tax the gardener

Crazy Train (of thought)

With all due respect to Coretta Scott King, a model for dignity and grace, I was appalled by some of what I saw during the funeral yesterday. Jimmy, it was a funeral, a church, and a pulpit, not a campaign trail!

Brittany Spears is yet more proof that success does not necessarily require good sense. She uses her baby as an extra airbag.

Jill loves chicken pot pie, so I made two of them, from scratch. The reward was delicious!

Tomorrow is my Dad’s 69th birthday. I wish he had written a book. I’d like to have a collection of all the things he has seen.

The AJC is seeking bloggers to feature in the paper. I nominated myself. Wonder if I have a chance?

Marital Bliss

As I drove through town yesterday on my errands, a bit irritated that Princess had thrown up on the floor that morning and my to-do list seemed to grow rather than shrink with each stop, I switched on the radio. The service for Coretta Scott King was on the air, and Rev. Joseph Lowery was at the podium. He pondered what it was like in heaven when Martin Luther King, Jr. got the news that his wife was at the pearly gates. “He went running toward the gates,” Lowery said, “and Martin shouted, ‘Together at last, together at last, thank God Almighty, together at last.’” Tears streamed down my checks as I prayed that death would not separate Jill and I for many years to come. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my list. “Buy flowers,” I wrote across the top.

Kid-bytes

Linley damaged her cell phone so badly it hardly worked, so we replaced it. She’s a bit forgetful and promptly lost it within a week. She searched for it for days, but to no avail. Jill and I decided not to replace it, thinking a lesson needed to be taught. Last night I dropped myself onto the couch for a bit of relaxation watching television. I landed between the cushions, my butt pushing them apart somewhat. A shooting pain went through my spine. Guess what I found.

Today’s Rant

I read an article by Tim Dickinson in the January issue of Rolling Stone magazine. It was titled something like “Republican Budget Starves Little Children and Denies Healthcare to the Poor.” I became so angered as I read it that I forgot to right down the exact title. It was another whining liberal thesis that basically said the greedy rich shouldn’t get tax relief because it isn’t fair that there are so many people in the country who are not rich. The line that got me the most was, “…money (from the tax cuts) will go directly into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans.” Ah, correction Mr. Dickinson. The money will STAY in the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. You may be too simple minded to understand this concept, but in truth, the government does not generate revenue, it TAKES cash in the form of taxes from those that earn money. Tax cuts serve to permit the wage earner to KEEP MORE of what has been earned. Taxation is the legal seizure of cash assets; a tax cut is simply the taking of less money than what has been taken in the past.

Indulge me for a moment, Mr. Dickinson. Imagine you were a gardener, one who studied gardening for years, who tilled your soil for years to get it just right, who worked in your garden everyday to make sure it was a success, who at the end of the growing season had abundant produce. Now, you might not mind when your neighbor asks for a enough vegetables to make a meal. You might even feel led to give more produce to others, whether they asked for it or not. But if the Garden Patrol came along and said, “Others have gardens that do not yield as much as yours, so we are going to take this much from you, without giving you any compensation, and give it to the others as we see fit,” how would you feel then? I’d think it might piss you off.

Book Report

I have met many great people in the course of taking photographs for my books. When working on the book about adoption, “Why I Chose You,” I met a gentleman in Savannah who was in the process of adopting a foster child. I just got an email from him with photos attached. It has been a year since the adoption took place. His son is very happy. God bless those that give a heart and a home to a child who has no family. God bless Steven S.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Books or uber-cards

Crazy Train (of thought)

If the self-check is intended for shoppers with 15 items or less, why do the clerks just stand there and allow someone with 50+ items clog up the line?

I love Fox and Friends!

We are having a party this weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day. About 34 of our neighbors are coming over, and I am making all the desserts, buying the wine and champagne, picking up the flowers, and making sure the house is clean. And Jill wants me to find time to buy Princess a new dress for the occasion. Dear God, help me. Give me understanding.

Marital Bliss

Jill and I were sitting on barstools on the 24th floor, sipping great wine, chatting about the events of the day and looking down at the activity in Times Square. We spent part of our honeymoon in NYC, and have plans to live here a while after the girls leave the nest. It is a place we like to visit when we need a getaway weekend; it represents romance to us. I watched her as she gazed at the street below. She looked beautiful; her hair pulled back, her face lit by the lights outside, her long elegant fingers delicately clutching her goblet, a bit of red lipstick on its rim. I was looking forward to our evening, when it would be just the two of us, the kids asleep in a room across the hall. I reached out and placed my hand on her leg. “What are you thinking about?” I asked.
“I was just wondering what Princess might be doing right now.”
Dear God, help me. Give me strength.

Kid-bytes

The girls are not with us this week. We share joint custody of them with their other parents. It should be that way; kids need to be with both mom and dad, even if the marriage is dissolved. This morning is the first morning when I am not taking them to school. Yes, the morning is less frenetic, it’s nice not to fight traffic or be a short-order cook, I even get to sleep an extra few minutes, but my heart aches. I miss them.

Today’s Rant

Aren’t those people complaining about the terrorism surveillance program the same ones who bashed Bush for not knowing in advance about and then attempting to stop the terrorist’s 9/11 plans?

Book Report

I heard from my Editor last night. She has read the draft of my next book and seems happy with it. Big relief! Sure, I’ll need to make some changes, but not a total rewrite. Funny thing about my books. They are relatively short, never more than 10,000 words, but they take time. Every line needs to resonate, have the potential to tug at the reader’s heart, and be reason enough for a tear or a smile. Some critics protest that my books are not “books,” calling them greeting cards instead. All because of word count. I would ask them, is Mark Rothko less of a painter because he uses only two or three colors?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Why I Love You

Crazy Train (of thought)

Why do some restaurants turn the lights down so low you can’t see the color of your food?

My wife insists that ice is a rock, thus explaining the term “on the rocks.” This is why I do all the cooking at our house.

Quote of the weekend, from one sister to the other – “I’m going to teach your children how to do all the bad stuff!”

Second place quote – “It took us longer to eat here than it took us to fly to New York!” The service at Serendipity was excruciatingly slow, but the smile on the kids’ faces when the dessert came almost made up for it.

Compliment of the weekend – “Dad, I love you like a fat kid loves cake!”

Why does everyone rush the gate when the plane begins to board? It really isn’t going to leave you behind. Sit down and listen for your row to be called!


Marital Bliss

My drop-dead-gorgeous wife inspires me in so many ways, and especially in my writing. In addition to my books, I write cards for Blue Mountain Arts. My first published card is titled “It is so Easy to be in Love With You.”

You are so kind and attentive,
generous and affectionate,
giving and unselfish.
I cannot imagine another in the world
that compares to you...

You are the most wonderful person
I have ever met,
more wonderful than anyone I have dreamed of,
and you surprise me still each time we are together.
With your sweet, loving gestures
you reassure me that you do indeed love me, too.
I am so honored to be the object of your affection,
and I am so completely devoted to you
in every way --
romantic, physical, philosophical, and spiritual.
I know that with you I will have a better life,
a life that I alone could not have made for myself.
You overshadow all the bad memories
of my past,
and you shine above all the good ones.

I love you. I have an unquenchable thirst for you,
a wonderfully intense craving
for your company, and
a great sorrow when we are apart.
I dread the pain of your absence
when you are not near.
You are essential to me, the source of my happiness.
I believe we were made for each other, and
I am determined to give you anything
and everything you have hoped for,
and then some…
because I love you so much.


Kid-bytes

“How does deja-vu work?” Meagan asked.
“It’s a neurological glitch, when the right and left hemispheres are not synchronized when encoding a memory,” I explained.
“What?” Linley asked, as Meagan rolled her eyes at me.
“Memories are stored on both sides of your brain. Do you know what that part of the brain that connects the hemispheres is called?”
“Juicy stuff?” Meagan said.
"The badulla,” Jill interjected.
I rolled my eyes. “No, it’s the corpus callosum. It connects the hemispheres and coordinates the transfer of…,” I continued.
“I prefer to think it’s magical,” Jill said.
“Yes, it’s magical!” Linley shrieked.
“You’re such a freak, Dad,” Meagan concluded.


Today’s Rant

I get so enraged when I listen to these bed-wetting liberal idealists running their mouth on the news. Proceed with caution when dealing with Iran? Respect their rights? Try to work it out diplomatically? WHAT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND????!!! They have a moral imperative to kill us! You can’t reason with that! If a bear came at you in the forest, would you first try to explain your believe in animal rights? Not me, I’d shoot the damn thing.

Book Report

The book I wrote for my wife while she was my fiancé is titled “Why I Love You.” It is currently featured by a number of national book sellers as a recommended Valentine’s Day gift. It is a collection of statements about the things people do for one another that endears the heart. Here is an excerpt from the introduction…

“When it comes to falling in love there are, I think, two kinds of people. The first is one who has a well-laid plan by which they seek a partner that possesses certain preferred qualities and characteristics. Upon finding such a person, they pursue a cautious and measured courtship, waiting for signs of reassurance before giving in to feelings of attachment, never taking too much risk, slowly and incrementally revealing more about themselves, until a respectable time has passed and a sense of comfort has been attained, before ever coming near uttering those three powerful words, ‘I love you.’

The second kind has no such plan or patience for caution. They will think nothing of the risk being taken when investing in someone, nor will they bother to proceed carefully, but will choose instead to reveal everything about themselves to whoever wishes to know them. These are the people who believe in serendipity, who trust their feelings and are led by their heart, who are on a relentless quest to find, earn, and keep love in their lives. These are the people who do not tiptoe into love, but instead know only to dive in, head first, with abandon. I am one of these people.”

Friday, February 03, 2006

Brothers and Sisters

Crazy Train (of thoughts)

My desk is a mess – must get organized today.

Badonkadonk, badonkadonk, badonkadonk! I love that word. Badonkadonk!

Julian Bond has sunk to a new low. How can one speak for reconciliation out one side of the mouth, and spew “I hate white people” speech out the other side?

Yes, the Stones are in their sixties, but they deserve their icon status. Which of us hasn’t sung along to one of their songs?

What’s up with all the repeats of LOST? Give us new episodes or get lost!

Speed bumps are made to slow your speed, not destroy your car. Why do so many people slow to a painful crawl and gingerly cross over the bump? If you fear your car will fall apart from the jolt, it shouldn’t be on the road. Now move over, I’ve gotta be somewhere!

Marital Bliss

My wife calls me every morning to let me know she has arrived at work, and each afternoon to tell me when she will get home. We text and email each other during the day. We cannot get enough of each other. It’s wonderful.

Kid-bytes

Jill and I are taking the girls to New York City for the weekend to see Avenue Q, the wax museum, and dine at Serendipity. In true girl fashion, they had to go shopping last night to get new outfits for the trip. This morning on the way to school they proceeded to tell me they needed $$$ for NY, to do what, go shopping!!! Didn’t we do that last night?

Today’s Rant

I read an editorial today written by someone who finds it “sickening” to see a teenager driving a car that “would take me years to pay for.” Where did the moral “If I can’t have one, no one else should have one either” come from? Freedom in a capitalist society means being able to earn as much money as you are capable of, and spending it on what you want to spend it on. If you don’t like it, move to a third world country and ride a donkey.

Book Report

I’ve learned my newest book, Brothers and Sisters, will be in the warehouse by mid-February. I’m eager to see it. Here’s an excerpt:

“I began life as a firstborn child. Thankfully, my parents had the foresight to give me a baby brother to assure that I would not live as an only child. They saw that I enjoyed him so much they soon gave me two more. I always had a great time playing with my three younger brothers, climbing trees, digging holes in the backyard, collecting worms and other such little boy stuff. But, being the kind of child who wanted all life had to offer, I eventually asked them for a little sister. They happily gave me one of those, too.”

I love my siblings!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Picking your nose and adoption

Crazy Train (of thought)

I just saw a commercial for an inflatable back pillow that straps on around your waist. The “actual” patients talking about how wonderful it is are, well, overweight. Wonder if there is a connection between that and their back pain.

It cracks me up that while Meagan and Linley like to call me a loser, they do it while singing to Lynyrd Skynyrd, neither realizing it is my music from my day.

Why does my wife dress Princess in a pink dress? This dog needs a gown for her poopie dance?

Meagan needs to go to the bookstore. She reads voraciously, sometimes two books a week. But she never reads mine. Ironic, ain’t it.

Marital Bliss

My favorite time of the morning is when my alarm goes off. That is when I hit the snooze, turn to my wife and pull her tight against me. For ten wonderful minutes we are snug as spoons, my arm draped around her, my nose in her hair, her hand across my forearm. Sometimes on Saturday and Sunday mornings I hit snooze twice. It’s that good.

Kid-bytes

Sometimes Meagan and I discuss the strangest things…

“Gross, why do people pick their nose when they’re driving?” she asked, looking out the window at some exec lost in space in his BMW.
“People think they’re alone in the car, but forget they’re really in public.”
“That’s no excuse, it’s just gross.”
“You’ll do it one day, if you haven’t already.”
“No I won’t!”
Just then she turned too sharply out of a parking lot and hit the curb, bouncing the Land Rover hard, sending our takeout tacos flying through the air. My head, resting on my hand, my elbow propped on the door, bounces upward, then down again, and my finger jams up my nose. The guy in the BMW looks at me. It wasn’t funny; I nearly gave myself a lobotomy.

Today’s Rant

Would someone tell Cindy Sheehan that she and Hugo Chavez make a lovely couple, and I encourage her to move to Venezuela as soon as possible to be with him. But please, don’t reproduce.

Book Report

I went into healthcare because I had long had the desire to help people. Over the years as I moved up the ladder I also moved further away from the act of helping. It was a loss to me, something I missed doing. When I first began writing it was to communicate with Meagan, to give her something lasting to remind her I loved her. I didn’t know at the time that my writing would eventually fulfill an old desire. Here is an email I got yesterday…

“My son and daughter-in-law adopted their child just two weeks ago, and tomorrow the new Mom celebrates her 29th birthday. I purchased your book, “Why I Chose You,” a perfect gift for her first birthday as a Mom. When I arrived home I read the entire book, and having adopted our daughter 34 years ago, the emotional impact was powerful. Sometimes it is difficult to explain the depth of emotion that a parent feels for a child, but your book does it beautifully. Our daughter now has children of her own and the joy and wonder she has brought into our lives is beyond description. I expect that one day my daughter-in-law will read this book to her son, and he'll know just how loved he was from the minute he entered our lives.”

When I get these, I save them and read them when I’m having a bad day, or when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution snubs me.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Unknown best-selling author

Crazy Train (of thoughts)

George W. Bush is the best president I’ve ever voted for.

If the people who leave their carts in the middle of the parking lot would walk a few more feet to the return, they might drop a few unnecessary pounds.

Speaking of weight, I’ve lost 9 pounds since New Year’s Eve. My resolution is working!

My brother is coming to visit tonight. We’ll probably have sushi and watch LOST. I love it when family comes to stay.

Why do more women smile at me at red lights now that I drive a Land Rover than did when I drove an Isuzu?

Someone told me once they would commit suicide if we broke up. Yeah, that’ll convince me to stay. CRAZY!

Marital Bliss

I rose 30 minutes before she did. I turned off the ceiling fan, switched on the space heater and closed the doors of the bathroom to make it toasty for her. I started the coffee, made her lunch, and got breakfast underway. I went back upstairs to make sure she was awake, and turned on the hot water in the shower before heading back down to finish her breakfast. I put her lunch, briefcase, and two bottles of water for the drive in the car, and started it to get it warm, too. Soon she appeared, looking her usual fantastic. We chatted as she ate and made plans for the evening. I walked her to the car to send her off. “I love you,” she said as she slid into the car.
“I love you, too,” I responded.
“I can’t wait to see you again this afternoon,” she added.
I smiled, my day off to a great start.

Kid-bytes

Linley, just turned twelve, a self-proclaimed maverick and instigator, is the least warm and fuzzy of my family of four. Words of affection directed toward her are usually met with remarks like “Ditto,” “Peace out,” or “Whatever.”
On the way to school this morning we listened to her music, some freak band singing some stupid rebellion song, and she tried to teach me the lyrics. I failed miserably in the exercise. “Love ya,” I said as she got out of the car once at school.
“I love you, too,” she said as she closed the door and walked away.
I smiled again. Yes, indeed, my day is off to a great start.

Today’s Rant

I read recently that 195,000 books are published each year. Competition is tough and many books sell less than 5,000 copies. My first book has sold over 500,000 copies and my series, over 2 million copies. I’ve been on the New York Times best-seller list five times. And the Atlanta Journal & Constitution still won’t give mention of my books! What? Is it because I don’t rap, don’t have an arrest record, haven’t lied in a memoir? Is it because I voted for Bush? Or is it because the AJC sees no redeeming value in wholesome books celebrating family values? I don’t know, they won’t take my calls.

Book Report

An excerpt from my first book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad: 100 Reasons –

“When I saw the first sonogram I could tell that our baby was a girl. Even though the doctor said it was too early to tell, I was convinced and thereafter believed my hopes and dreams about fatherhood were coming true. I was in the delivery room when she arrived. The first person she looked at was me. I was smitten instantly.”

Meagan Katherine, I’m still smitten. It’s been almost 16 years since that day, and I still feel the same way whenever I see you. I love you so much, sweet girl!