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Local Hang Out

A (mostly) Wordless Wednesday post.

Had some fun at my favorite bookstore today. The Printed Garden is such a fantastic place. I cannot say if Foot Solutions is also as great, but I’m betting no.

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It is always good to spend an hour (or more) talking with store owner, Aaron Cance about books, or listening to good music (or both, always both). I feel quite fortunate to have a place like this in my community, a store run by someone who is passionate about books, someone who creates a welcoming environment for all sorts of ideas, gatherings, conversations. Local people, you need to check it out. For the rest of you saps, there is online shopping for you (or a visit to Salt Lake, if you wanna hang with me).

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I’ve spend a good deal of money on signed books from the glass cases. IMG_8961

There are lots of fun books for kids and teens as well.

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Plus, you can take cool, artsy photos like this one (courtesy of the bookstore owner).IMG_6207

Admit it, you totally want to come hang out with me and buy books at this store.

A Small Contribution

Yesterday, I was fortunate to enjoy having breakfast with a very good friend. She doesn’t like eggs, but I am willing to look past that. I don’t see her as often as I’d like, which is mostly my fault. I need to do better. We worked at the library together.  We did good things. I love the library. I love librarians. They are among the best people.

I also made plans to meet up with another library friend in the early afternoon. We both share a love for a certain band.  They performed in Salt Lake this past weekend. I got to attend. He didn’t. His young son, also loves this band. I had acquired a clever poster of the band members, and thought his son would enjoy it. It gave me a good reason to get out of the house, go to the main library, which is a place that still means the world to me.

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I worked at the Salt Lake City Public Library for a decade. It was a career I sort of stumbled into, not realizing how much I’d love it, or how deeply the philosophies of librarianship would penetrate my personal, emotional, intellectual life. I made the best of friends, shared hours of conversations and debates with like minded individuals.  The best part was the reference work. Finding the correct information from the best possible resources, seeing someone light up with excitement, was very rewarding. It was important work, it had infinite integrity. I like to think I made a difference in a small way in people’s lives.

I miss it more than I’d like to admit.

Memory Shmemory

A *mostly* Wordless Wednesday post today.

I’ve been thinking about our old house lately. It has only been 3 1/2 years since we moved from the city to the suburbs, but in many ways it feels much more time has passed. While I am grateful for where I currently live, I miss certain things about our former residence. (mostly the yard). Looking through the images of the interior (I took most of the following pictures the day after we moved out), I am surprised at how small it looks now.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

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Below-The family, one week before the move.

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Garden boxes.

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Basketball court and mountain view. I miss both…

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Swell parties were held in this fine kitchen

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This room, long, narrow.

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First weekend in the new place.

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Through the Years

It has been a while since I’ve talked about my boys. In the summer of 2007, Dylan and Destry were placed with us through the foster care system. They’d just had their 7th birthday. Nine months later, we officially adopted them into our family.

They are juniors at Herriman High School now. I feel the way most parents do- One day they were little boys, and the next day they’d become young men. I am grateful for the good people they are, regardless of the strange parenting they receive. They both have huge hearts.

What follows is a year by year photo essay, starting with their first weekend in our home up to last Friday, when they attended a school dance.

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August 2007-Onion Days Parade and picnic, Payson Utah. Seven years old and not quite sure what to think of their current situation. They did get some swell MetLife swag.

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Summer 2008- We went to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City for a play-date with some friends. We arrived early (or were the friends late?). Here, Destry (left) and Dylan (right) ponder the pros and cons of swinging.

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On the year anniversary of their adoption, we took them to Timpanogos Cave. Dylan is on the left.

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October 2010- Halloween morning in our kitchen (our Sugarhouse, Utah home). I’m not sure what Dylan is supposed to be, but I’m assuming Destry is dressed as a tourist.

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June 2011 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. One of our favorite places to vacation. I like to make the boys stand next to random statues (I have quite the collection). It likely makes me a bad parent (joking), but they are always good sports about it. Well, they used to be.

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Outside Smith and Edwards Country Store in Ogden, Spring 2012- A bad hair period? Perhaps, but we’ve always let them wear whatever clothes they liked and have their hair as long, short, sloppy as they wanted.

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Cancun, Mexico Spring 2013- We’d been at the resort less than five hours and both of them already had their summer tans going. Cancun is both boys favorite vacation destination. img_3787

October, 2014. Back in Cancun. Both boys look much older than the previous Spring. Here, they are posing with a kid from England they met while swimming about. They were inseparable for five days. I’m not sure they’ve spoken since.

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The lads and me, Fall 2015 in our South Jordan, Utah kitchen. Dylan is sporting the rhino look, while Destry and I model a less severe style.

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Track season, Spring 2016. Orem, Utah at Grandma Kempton’s house. While this photo is clearly posed, I am stunned at the difference 8 months can make. These are no longer boys, but young men.

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Outside our South Jordan, Utah home- Last weekend, February, 2017. They had a grand time at the dance, and by all accounts, were perfect gentlemen.

It is funny, I feel I haven’t aged all that much. Yet somehow, in what feels very much like overnight, my family has changed from this-

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To this-DSC_0092.JPG

It may have happened quickly, but if I stop and think, the years, events, vacations, good and bad days are floating about for me to remember. I am grateful for each and every day being their father. I’m a lucky guy.

IWSG-September

Hey friends and family! I’ve just returned from a fun filled weekend at America’s first national park (Yellowstone for those not in the know). I’ve been going to this wonderful freak of nature since I was a young lad, but had not visited in over a decade. It was like reuniting with an absent friend. We were a bit uncomfortable with each other at first, but after a few hours, it was like we’d never separated. I have photos galore to share, but will save them for a different post.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and that means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is gathering for our monthly blog hop. If you don’t know who we are and what we do, go here http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Sign up, blog up, share your stories.

We are a supportive, clever, funny, attractive bunch of writers with hopes and fears, insecurities, failures and successes, just like the rest of you who haven’t joined yet. Quit wallowing in your own misery and let us wallow with you.

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On the writing front, I finally submitted the poetry chapbook. As I expected, the moment I clicked send, I was certain there were millions of typos, or worse, I’d sent the wrong document. I quadruple checked. It is the right document. I’m not yet ready to check for typos.

But I’ve talked about this contest already. It’s time for a new (old) topic. I’ve made an executive decision considering NaNoWriMo. I’ve unofficially competed for the last three years, making my word count goal twice (the third book didn’t reach 50,000 words), and because of that, I’ve debated actually entering this November. It seems that having a concrete month, clear word count goal has been essential to my completing projects. The hard part- November is an awful busy month to be writing every day. I struggle to write around my birthday, my sisters birthday, and Thanksgiving. Last year, I was in NYC the first week and never really caught up. I still want to write the first 50,000 words in 30 days, just not those 30 days.

Looking ahead, October is a really great month for writing. I have fewer commitments. The weather is nicer. Days are a bit longer. Kids are in school more of the days. Yeah, this seems like a winning scenario.

For the novel writing readers of this blog- I’m curious as to your writing schedule. Have you competed in NaNo? What sorts of goals do you set for yourselves?

For the rest of you schmucks- Thanks for reading and leave a nice comment below about how wonderful you find me and how grateful you are that we are friends.

I couldn’t resist sharing at least one Yellowstone picture. Gosh we are cute.

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Vocation

From the time I was a boy, I always wanted to be a teacher. I’m sure there was a period where I wanted to be a fireman, or a soldier, maybe a police officer, a forest ranger. I know I harbored the delusion of being a professional athlete (a dream which took longer than it should have to fade), and being a rock star often seemed like a really fun thing to do, but in the rational part of my head, teaching was always the goal.

At first, I wanted to teach high school. I could be like Mrs. Jenkins, my 10th grade English teacher. She inspired me to do better. She was always relaxed and composed, rarely ruffled by the insanity teenagers can produce. I wanted to help create thinkers, especially out of students who didn’t think they were capable of it.

Then I met Howard Shorthill. He was an adjunct professor at the community college, 28 years old, intelligent and quit witted. He challenged me in ways I hated at first. I flunked the first course I took from him (I foolishly thought that would hurt him more than it did me). After re-evaluating my educational goal, I wanted to prove to Howard that I was better than the E I earned in his course. I took his literature classes, all four of them, as well as his writing courses. He still challenged me, but this time, I accepted. I listened. I paid attention. I learned how to think, how to question, how to evaluate evidence. I wanted to teach like Howard. I wanted to help guide struggling college students, like me.

During my time at the University of Utah, my exposure to academia (professors trying to publish and seeking tenure) killed that desire. The thought of pursuing a graduate degree in literature or writing no longer appealed to me. In my opinion, many academics see teaching as a burden. Many prefer scholarship to educating others.

I still wanted a Master’s degree, and decided to apply to graduate programs in creative writing. It seemed exciting, and it would provide the graduate degree I needed to teach junior college, which was, as always, the goal.

While awaiting my inevitable rejection letters, the library reared up and sucked me in.

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I needed a part time job, something to do while waiting for schools to decide my fate. My wife suggested trying the library. I was offered a job in the circulation department and started working in August of 2000.

It took less than three months before I knew I’d stumbled into the career of my dreams. Librarianship combined many the things I loved, wrapped in a clever little package.

Again, I listened. I paid attention. I watched Librarians at work. When I felt ready, I applied to a graduate program and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science.

Being a Librarian was/is amazing. I was finally a teacher, but instead of being limited to one discipline, I was able to help people find information on and learn about thousands of different topics. Working a reference desk, on any given day, I would be asked questions about UFO’s, then witchcraft, followed by someone who wanted to build a deck, or get grant information for a business start up. Every day was different, and while I had my fair share of “where’s the bathroom” moments, I was challenged by my work, and inspired to learn better ways of serving patrons.

After several years at the main library, I transferred to a branch library in a low income community. Many of the patrons did not have internet access at home, couldn’t afford to buy books or movies, and used the library as their primary information source. It was a hard place to work. At times, I despised going, but if I’m honest, it was infinitely rewarding.

Teaching people not only how to find information, but evaluate its content, became my passion. I thought I had found the vocation I would do until I couldn’t do anything anymore. I made connections with patrons, other Librarians, and library employees that developed into intimate friendships. Librarians are some of the funniest, smartest, best looking people on the planet. If you get a chance to attend an event full of Librarians, I suggest you go. It will be one of the best nights in your memory. I dare say, it will change your life.

Leaving the library was among the hardest choices of my life. I knew I needed to be at home with my boys, and they needed me more than I needed the library. Sometimes, I ponder returning, but I have come to terms with the fact that the library portion of my life is over. I am different, and need different things. I will always hold the memories close and advocate for libraries whenever I can. They are places of absolute integrity, not about money or profit, and strive to benefit and serve everyone in their community. There are few places, few careers that can boast something like that.

 

Here are few snaps of the Salt Lake City Public Library 

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An image from an average day at the Riverside Library, where I spent four of my ten years working for the library.library

 

Suspended

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The last of them had gone, leaving behind stacks of empty cans, tipped over bottles, crumbled and crushed food in the rug. It had been a great night.

Martin flopped on the sofa, letting the plush, welcoming cushions absorb his weight. Casually, he used his left foot to push aside a few items from the corner of the cracked coffee table (the result of an impressive night of mock wrestling gone too far. Jacob still wore the battle scar near his eye), then put both feet, one over the other on the glass surface.

Head back, his brain swimming, he finally realized how much alcohol he’d consumed that evening.

Many of his friends had come. Some he had not expected to see. He thought of Odette, the way she’d lingered close to the kitchen, her hand clutching a plastic cup to her left shoulder, the coy smile as he approached, and her subtle look-away when she lightly touched his arm (which made his heart skip).

He ran his finger over his lips, pretending the salty residue was a remnant of her kiss. He would call her in the morning, at least text, tell her how happy he was she had come. If overcome by a sudden surge of bravery, he might even ask her out. Stranger things and all.

Various scenarios ran through his mind. He closed his eyes and let them go where they wanted. Imagination obliged. He was happy in his distraction. So much so, he failed to hear the door creak open, didn’t notice the sound of someone walking across the floor into the living room, failed to sense the shadow as it passed over his legs, up his body, until it finally stilled, resting patiently on his face. IMG_1050