Michael Dolby (March 31, 2012)

Master of the wire and plug, with ladders on his truck

Into Pats and Sox and Brus—avers the Yankees suck

Cullen is his middle name, and Christopher’s his son

Hastens to the outside shower when the winter’s done

Andrew, Addy, Ellie, Carrie, know who Papa loves

Every Friday night they know to find him at the Pub

Larks and doves and chickadees come eager for his thistle

Dad taught us all to wink, and he taught us all to whistle

On Sunday morns you will find him hanging in his shed

Lazily he dozes off, a ball cap on his head

Burbon Street to Boston, St. John to San Antone

You know Mike Dolby’s happiest with family and home

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Can I just keep it old-skool?

Every time I think of some new thing I want out there on the Internet, I feel like I have to reconfigure the whole situation here. For example, I’ve been writing these poems lately. Silly poems, mostly as presents for friends and family, and I want to share them. So instead of just tossing them up here, I go through this online identity crisis, where I’m all, OK, time to revamp. Need to have my blog be under my name instead of an obscure quote from Peter Pan. Then I spend three hours sifting through website templates and pictures and web creation programs, and nothing really fits, and I really don’t care, because really, I hate web design and all I actually want to do is share my writing. And then write some more. So eff it. It’s all going on this blog, and I don’t care if it makes sense.

So there. Time to cease stomping on my inner Tinkerbell with all this technical nonsense. I’d rather just keep clapping and believe that fairies can survive without perfect formatting or exhaustive code.

Ahem.

Now onto the poesy!

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Introspection

I had never intended for this blog to become a space for getting personal and talking about my life very much. The intention was always to practice writing with the motivation of having an audience, whether real or imaginary. I also never intended to just stop dead with the blogging, but I did.

I have all of these journals from so many points through my life that have four or five pages filled and then nothing. I always felt that if I waited too long, I should just start fresh. Funny, because the journals were just for me, so one blank piece of paper should be as good as the next, right?

Well, time for this blog to just continue.

So I was just thinking about the Life List that I created back at the very beginning of this blog and how much it has changed and how much it has stayed the same. And how as I become older the macro becomes micro, the big picture becomes a series of tiny details, the list becomes a sum of its parts, and each item contains a sublist.

Over the past couple of years I have broken a foot, broken my brain (figuratively, natch), been published, inadvertently started a business, become a football fan, not only roasted a chicken but become adept at said roasting, watched my first house torn down and my dream house built, moved twice, and on and on.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Ten minutes ago, I was thinking about how I keep wanting to find a mat in my storage locker and try the Comcast yoga station, and somehow my brain translated that into “Perhaps you should blog.” Ah, my brain. A vast enchanting place much like the Fire Swamp in the Princess Bride–draped in ancient branches and vines with sudden unexplained explosions and giant creatures (R.O.U.S.) scattered throughout. But once in a while it produces something I can be proud of. And I suppose it is time to stop shying away and try to foster those moments.

Last week, I was designing an invitation for my grandfather’s 90th birthday party. My grandfather’s life is beyond anything to be described in this blog–a father of 6, grandfather and great-grandfather of more than I feel like counting right now, WWII hero, civic leader, and all around awesome dude–and it was a challenge to find a way to represent him on a 4 by 5 piece of cardstock, so I drew on an old forgotten, somewhat rusty talent and penciled a portrait. And I remembered that I can draw. Then of course, the very same Fire Swamp that spit out this illustration sucked me into the quicksand of guilt–if you can do this, why don’t you do it more often? Why isn’t it your “thing,” this drawing business? And you know why? Drawing is haaaard (said super whiny with lower lip jutted out). You know what else is haaaard? Writing. And most creative endeavors. And I’m damn lazy. So there.

I got lost a little between point A and point B, so I’m going to fish a bit for a conclusion here, but let’s resolve to say I would like to flex my muscles. I will find the damn mat and the On-Demand yoga station and flex my quads and triceps and calves, and I will open a fresh blog window more often and brave the wilds of my mind, explosions, beasts, quicksand and all.

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What do writers and jocks have in common?

There is no punchline here – just some observations that I have made in my two week initiation to jogging. My sister has always been a runner, and I’ve never quite gotten it until today when I realized runners and writers are a very similar breed.

Here are some notable similarities:

We’d rather be in pajamas. My writer part needs constant coddling. She needs to be kept happy and comfortable, otherwise she is left easily to distraction. Ex., “Look at these shiny buttons!” “This tag is itchy. Itchy. It itches. Tag. Itchy.” It’s easier in pajamas. There are no surprises, temperature and comfort level are easily controlled, one area of excuse is eliminated. And slippers go well with any PJ combo – no need to find the perfect shoe.
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Lessons in cohabitation: Dave’s socks

While undertaking a Great Drawer Reassignment, I just started remembering years ago when Dave and I first moved in together. We were in our wee early twenties, and it was a first for both of us. We both proceeded with trepidation for our own reasons, mine being that I had passed the dorm chic phase of decorating with posters and thumbtacks although I wasn’t so sure Dave was ready to leave this behind. Dave’s fears were more territorial in nature: He didn’t want me messing with his Stuff. It was nothing personal, and I understood this, just a paradoxical “these are my toys, those are yours” way of dealing with a major life change in the direction of Growing Up.

I respected this protective instinct as far as I could, but there were practical matters to consider. For example, public health.
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A reconciliation (soundtrack by Journey)

Dear Blog,

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’ve tried coming back to you so many times now, but I swore when I started this thang that I would never apologize for not updating, that this whole bloggy thing was for me and me alone, and I don’t owe anyone any excuses if I slack. But each time I tried to write something new, it felt like a lie of omission. There was an elephant in the room, and until I put two hands on that sucker’s rear and forced him outside, there was no space for true communication.

But I’m ready to come back. So here’s what happened: I got stagefright. Lame, I know. But a lot happened at once. I started getting magazine articles published and people were paying attention, and those interested in my novel manuscript began threatening to Google me! And then there was the whole getting-sick-for-the-entire-summer thing. Vitamin D deficiency is no joke. And I wonder how much longer it has been affecting me than just the past six months.

Then Dave had to go crash on his bike once again. Almost exactly a month after a crash in which he broke both his wrists, this time it was four ribs, a lung, a shoulder, his knees. Nobody wants to get The Phone Call. I got two Phone Calls in as many months. Luckily, he is a quick healer. Unluckily, that means he’s just about ready to get back on a bike and barrel down a mountain at top speed yet again. I have married a man whose career carries with it the risk of the Ultimate Phone Call. But maybe I’m just being dramatic. One hopes.

So blog, here I am to clear the air. There is so much I want to share with you: the things I learned from NaNoWriMo even though I bowed out quite early, my new love/hate relationship with jogging (or “yogging,” if you choose to pronounce it with a “soft j”*), the holidays (which are my favorite!), and the things that come to me in the shower.

Blog, I could go on, but I’d rather let Journey do it for me.

I’m just going to imagine you giving me a nice pat on the shoulder with your 80211 wireless hands and saying, “Welcome back, Buddy. Nice to see you.”

Yours faithfully**, if delinquently,

Linley

* I couldn’t find that scene from Anchorman on YouTube, but I did find this, which is glorious.

** If you insist.

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Notes on NaNoWriMo*

Here are the mantras I have accumulated so far this year.

Start in the middle. Not necessarily the middle, but not the first line. The first line is going to change later when you know what the book is actually about, so for now, just start telling the story. You can spend hours anally choosing the first ten words of the manuscript later.

Concentrate on writing pieces for now. You don’t know the story yet, so don’t get bogged down in the how or the why. Just write the scenes in your head. You can always reorganize later. Again, just tell the story. There is time later for fleshing things out or removing the extraneous.

Messy is OK. Be messy! This is the time to stumble. To let your tongue (or your fingers, as the case may be) trip over words. Sometimes it takes a couple crappy paragraphs to get a groove, and some things that seem true now might not be true later, but for now, get it out and be sloppy about it. You’re at the kids table. Feel free to blow bubbles in your milk and slurp your b’sghettis.

Think in contrasts. Make your characters contradictory and complex – i.e., human.

Some days you just can’t win. Life happens, crappy writing happens, the Pats lose sometimes – it is what it is. Don’t get stuck, because tomorrow is another day, and there’s plenty more crap where that came from.

* NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a novel (50,000 words) in a month.

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