A million frustrations crowd my mind like expanding popcorn kernels in a bag of microwave popcorn–all when my mind is supposed to empty of me and lift up praise to God above. I try to sing the words of the songs, but they seem empty and hollow. The next thing I know my lips are singing the words and my mind is contemplating the best time to reinstall the operating system on my computer. I’ll only have my high speed network connection for so much longer, so I should do it soon while it’s still easy to download programs from the internet. This summer I should have lots of time. I should probably buy some more zip disks so I can back everything up. That could be expensive. Maybe I can clean up the zip disks I have and condense my files. That one disk is full of stuff from the old computer–I should be able to delete everything on there. All the while a thousand voices are echoing in worship to God. I try to focus, I try to empty my head of these crowding thoughts, but it doesn’t work. We sing another song and I think of a band and a concert long ago. That triggers another memory that reminds me of another band who may soon be breaking up. I should be sure I get to their final few shows. Back to the first band, and I realize I haven’t visited their web page in a while. I wonder if they’re on tour right now? All the while someone is reading about the Israelites and how God didn’t want their offerings and sacrifices given for the sake of offerings and sacrifices. He wanted the people. Maybe I shouldn’t be here. A thousand more thoughts crowd in and I succumb to the insanity. Is this what it’s like to be a product of the sound-byte generation?
Right now the Red Wings are playing the Calgary Flames in game 4 of their second round series. The game’s on cable, but unlike past playoff seasons I don’t have to rush out to a sports bar to catch the game. I have cable.
So why am I not watching the game? E.R.
My wife is taping E.R. so she can watch it later, forcing me to miss the first period. I’ve already missed an early Detroit goal and a commanding 9-2 shots on goal lead by Detroit, and the period’s only half over. I’ll be able to catch the second and third periods so it’s not that bad, though it’ll make for a late night. Isn’t this what Tivo was created for? Sigh.
I’ve been working on a book editing project for the past few weeks, and as you’d expect, it’s making me think about writing my own book.
I’m seeing a new aspect of the book publishing process as I’m basically taking a manuscript and editing it for flow and understanding. I’m supposed to not worry about style and copy editing things like improper hyphens and passive voice, but I can’t help myself. Of course the fun part about this project is what I’ve talked about before — there’s so much I want to say but I need to be careful.
Part of what’s making me think is I’m realizing exactly what publishers deal with. The manuscript I’m reading is good. The guy’s got great stories, a good message, and he packages it all fairly well. But it’s far from perfect. I’ve done quite a bit of reworking, re-writing, and editing. Part of this is because the guy’s not a writer. He certainly writes better than a lot of folks, but he’s no writing major (gosh, that sounds arrogant — sorry).
There’s all sorts of little things I keep tweaking. Then I wonder if I’m being anal, and I think I should stop and let someone else do it. Then I think about no one else doing it and the book being published as is. That makes me cringe, so I go for anal.
That’s another freaky thing, the book being published with errors. So many books are published every year, and I wonder how many of them probably shouldn’t have been published. Like anything else, publishing is a business, and not everyone is out to make the best of all books. Some people just want some cash. And that means a lot of crappy books.
I keep comparing what I’m working on to something by Anne Lamott or Annie Dillard, where you can tell every sentence and phrase has been hand-crafted, fine-tuned, and perfectly tweaked. Not every book needs to be written by a Pulitzer-bestowed author, but I wonder how many books out there could use a good re-write. I keep stopping at a paragraph and thinking how I’d react to a particular sentence if I were reviewing the book. Sometimes it makes me paranoid, thinking the book needs a complete overhaul. Then I get a grip and realize it’s pretty good. There’s just such a permanance to the printed word, more so in a book than a magazine article, and I wonder if I’ve worked hard enough.
I also wonder about how this book came to be. As I rearrange chapters and talk to the author, I’m quickly realizing this book came together over several years and has probably existed in several different forms. It might have been a seminar, an article, a sermon, a curriculum. Now it’s being told and packaged with other pieces, a little glue to hold it all together, and there you go.
I don’t mean to belittle the author I’m working with, but all of this makes me wonder why I’m not writing books. Some of the quotes and stats used in the book are the same quotes and stats I’ve gathered. And I’ve written articles. How close am I to pulling together a few related pieces and being half way to a book? Then again, I’m the writer, not the expert.
Maybe it’s yet another billboard screaming to me that all my fears and apprehensions mean nothing. Write a freaking book, Kevin.
It’s 90 degrees outside now. Summer’s trying to sneak in the open window.
It’s 5:30 and my unmotivated, late-starting day is coming to an end. I’m not sure if I crammed enough into the working hours, but I feel like I did, so that’s OK, right?
This is a crazy week. I have to finish editing a book by Friday (well, technically Saturday, but I’m calling it Friday), I have to prepare a blog seminar by next Wednesday, Friday is our youth group’s missions dinner — which involves a lot of prep and a lot of stress, and Sunday through Wednesday is the EPA convention, which is a major networking opportunity for my new business, so I’ve been scrambling to get business cards printed, polish up my web site, and other business-y things. I’m also supposed to have an issue of my youth group’s newsletter ready to go to press next Friday.
And what do I do today? I stay in bed until 8:35, and now it’s 9:06, I’m still in my pajamas writing a blog. And I desperately need a shower, so it’ll be at least 9:30 before I start work. Have I mentioned I’ve been having problems getting up in the morning? I thought stress would be a motivator, but apparently not.
Yesterday I worked some long hours, punctuated by a few breaks (including Freeks & Geeks, a new Mario Cart “Baby Park” time trial record in the 1:15 range, watching the Red Wings lose, and the picture above). I do like my stay-at-home job and this whole new business thing, I just need to work on the motivation. Maybe it’s just the motivation to get out of bed. Nothing happens if I stay in bed like missing the bus or being yelled at, so I lie there. Part of me feels like I need more sleep now, but I think I’m just not forcing myself to get up even when I’m tired. It used to be that I just shook that morning tiredness off because I had to. Now I don’t have to, so I give in.
I think I’m also at a point where I need to blog. That’s why I’m still typing. I have thoughts swirling around my head, and if I don’t get them out they’ll distract me all day.
It’s 9:55. I’m finished blogging. No more distractions? Please.
As I think about my blog, I also can’t help but wonder about giving it away. Business 2.0 had an interesting article about the Creative Commons movement, which is basically an effort to encourage artists to give away certain rights to their work on the assumption that free distribution will have greater commercial benefits in the long run. Basically a DJ mixes a song, gives it away for free, then makes more money in the commerical licensing than said DJ would have simply by selling CDs.
It seems a bit more confusing for writers, because I have a hard time imagining what commercial licensing might come from my writing. But the basic idea of gaining greater exposure is still there.
At one time I had a Creative Commons license on this blog, but I switched back to all rights reserved after someone posted a story of mine on their site. They had full rights to do that, it just didn’t jive with me. You can vary the level of permission you give, and the most common I would consider is Attribution (they have to credit the work to me), No commercial use (they can’t make money off it), and non-derivative (the work cannot be changed, adapted, or modified in anyway).
It seems like a good deal, until you consider that anyone can put your work anywhere as long as it’s non-commercial and they give you credit. So anyone could post my blog entries as long as they put “by Kevin D. Hendricks” and it’s not a for-profit venture. My work could also appear in non-profit books or collections without my permission. That may be greater exposure, but I also worry about that loss of creative control.
What if someone wants to use my work in a mocking tone? What if they want to use an article I’ve since changed my mind about? What if they want to use an article I think sucks? Is the idea that you just take the lumps as added publicity? All publicity is good publicity?
I don’t know. I do know I need to think more about this. I’d like to read some of Lawrence Lessig’s books (the guy behind Creative Commons). A quick glance at his stuff gives some rationale for why I might like Creative Commons. You can get his latest book, Free Culture as a free download (or you can just read the whole book online). Within 36 hours of its release the book was available in 9 other formats. That’s some pretty nice distribution. Or is that simply because Lessig is a big name in this field, so of course his book will go all over the place?
The other question is how is Lessig profiting? The hardcover, old skool version costs $16.97 and is #567 on the Amazon sales rank. Apparently people will still buy it even though it’s available for free. But what if his sales tanked? Would the attention garnered by this move earn him larger advances in the future? Is he getting speaking engagements? Article offers? It’s never as simple as the straight up book sales.
I’d be curious to hear what a lawyer says about all this. Hmmm.
Blogging is such a weird thing. I love doing it and I claim it’s all for me, but I also want people to read it and enjoy the thought of interacting with people. Sometimes I so want to make money off this thing, but that’s not really the point. Sometimes I think I should start selling ads like somone I know, but is that the direction I want to go? Swapping space for pennies?
I also have to think about this blog in terms of my business. Right now this blog is featured on the home page of my business. Sometimes I wonder how stupid that is. Linking to the Advocate a while back and pondering about gay marriage is a pretty easy way to offend potential business clients.
At the same time, why should I hide what I’m thinking about? It’s not like I’m having these wildly heretical ponderings and reflecting on my wild nights on the town. I’m honestly trying to grapple with issues. I hope potential business clients will understand and respect that.
It’s also risky to be safe. The safe, boring web site that doesn’t grapple with anything, that doesn’t challenge anything, that doesn’t threaten the status quo (even at the risk of being wrong), is the one nobody reads. I’m better off saying what I think, even if I’m still figuring out what I think, even if I might be off, even if it might offend someone — because that daringness and willingness to be myself and figure things out is commendable. At least I hope so.
Or maybe I’m making this blog sound more cutting-edge than it is.
And they were hitched. Abby already posted some pictures, but I wanted to post a few of my own and give ’em my own spin.
This was our first glimpse of the bride. The photographers snuck outside with Tim and Nicole before most of us saw her and started taking pictures. I don’t know if all that sneaking was intentional, but that’s the way it seemed. When I spotted them through the window we started making faces at Nicole, making her laugh during the pictures.
The already but not yet of the wedding day. It came out pretty blurry (which gives it an interesting dynamic), but this one shows the expectation. Get on with it already (this was near the end of the photographing).
Together again (where are they now?): Lance (Twin Cities), Tara (Twin Cities, Lance’s girlyfriend) , Andy (East Coast), Kevin (Twin Cities), Abby (Twin Cities), Nicole (moving to Montana), Tim (for the last four months my second bedroom; moving to Montana), Neals (moving back to the Twin Cities in a matter of weeks), Jeremy (Seattle), Nathan (just outside the Twin Cities).
Wait, we didn’t get our picture taken! I almost changed out of my monkey suit without taking any pictures with my wife. This shot grossed Andy out: “Eww!” Of course he kept taking too long, so we just kept kissing.
There’s so much hurry up and wait in weddings. You spend so much time getting dressed up fancy, you spend even more time waiting, then you capture the moment in photographic cell. Then the actual ceremony itself, some fancy food, and it’s over before you know it.
Tell that to my feet. We weren’t expecting the two sermons, and I’d already been on my feet all day. But it could have been worse. I could have been the groomsmen who had to step out and throw up. A flu bug was making the rounds, infecting an entire family in a matter of days. But the inflicted groomsmen made a discreet exit and entrance and hardly anyone knew what happened. Pretty minor snags in a once in a lifetime celebration.
Weddings are odd. So much hassle and work and stress for a day to mark the transition between two and one. It’s such an odd day. It’s the ultimate before and after point, a stuck in the middle day.
So much giddiness and love and excitement. It’s easy for a marriage to slip into the day to day, the simple interactions, the failed sacrifices. You forget the story, as odd as it sounds, you forget your own story that makes your friendship so magical. The very fact you’re together, even if it’s washing the dishes, is amazing. What would you do without?
Let’s face it: I’m avoiding work. I’m in the midst of a very busy time, but also a time when you want to throw responsibility to the wind and hang out with your friends. Tim gets married tomorrow, and the festivities have already begun. There’s an all afternoon picnic/groom’s dinner today and then the rehearsal. Right now it’s 10:20 on a Saturday morning, and despite my hopes to get up and do some work, I’m sitting on the computer typing in my pajamas.
I’ve learned that the biggest downside to my office set up is the lack of a door. Normally this isn’t a problem, since Speak doesn’t make much noise. But friends have been coming into town for the wedding and staying at our place, which means it’s not such a quiet workspace anymore. And who wants to work when you’ve got friends downstairs you haven’t seen in a year?
We actually have three guests staying in our house right now, and if you’ve ever seen our house, you realize how impressive that is. Tim, of course, has been staying here since January. But tonight is probably his last night (I can’t imagine why he’d want to stay here after the wedding). My old roommate and east coast buddy Andy is also staying here. He’s crashing on the floor in Tim’s room. And yesterday one of Tim’s friends from Yale, Dawn, arrived and we made room on the couch.
Amazingly five people and one bathroom wasn’t a big deal this morning. Everyone had a staggered schedule so there wasn’t much fighting for the bathroom. Of course I was the last one up and now I’m home alone and still in my pajamas. Theoretically I have a quiet hour or two to get some work done, but I can’t seem to get to it. The introspective side of my brain needs to process everything that’s going on.
It’s fun having Andy around again. As we left the airport he remarked how easy it is to slip back into the way things were, as if he’d never left. I quickly felt that over the next day or so as we went about our business, finding food, playing with the dog, telling stories, doing whatever we do. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing that we so easily feel like Andy never left — I see the up side of a close friendship that can survive time and distance. I also see a down side of a friendship that doesn’t necessarily see the change that happens in that time and distance. You can’t go home again, and at some point you can’t go back to college either.
But however that goes down, it’s fun hanging out with Andy again. I saw the beginnings of his upcoming web site, which means the possibility of Andy joining our little circle of blogging freaks.
Last night we gathered some of the old crew again: Andy, Lance, Neals, Abby, myself, as well as some new faces, Lance’s girlfriend Tara and Tim’s friend Dawn. For dinner we joined up with several of Tara’s friends at an Ethiopian place (sans Neals, who was still driving home from Duluth). It was an odd mix of people, part of an old Bethel clan on one end and several of Tara’s friends on the other. Andy had just met Tara, Dawn had just met all of us, and none of us knew Tara’s friends. We pretty much kept at our ends of the tables, not even bothering with introductions. I think we all realized there were too many circles coming together, and they weren’t likely to cross again. Probably a rude and lazy reaction to the social situation, but that’s what happened. It must have been awkward for Tara, the only one who could really bridge the gap between the two circles.
Despite my initial protests, I survived the Ethiopian food. We basically shared a sampler platter of a dozen different dishes. If you haven’t had Ethiopian food before, you basically take a tasteless pancake-type sponge flat bread and use it to scoop morsels of mushy stuff. Nothing struck me as gross, but I didn’t have any favorites either. I tried everything and was more or less eating for sustanence, not flavor.
After the food we abandoned circles and headed back to Tara’s place, where Neals joined us in a game of Scattergories. Good times.
And as I type, Jeremy calls, another college roommate who emmigrated to the west coast. Far-flung freaks still flock together.
It’s still quiet around here, eerily so. Tim and Dawn left to hang out with some east coast friends. Andy went out to breakfast with his brother and sister (amazing that 3 out of 4 siblings of an east coast family are all in the same midwestern state the same weekend). Abby and Speak went to dog class.
I think that’s what really makes it quiet. Speak isn’t here. You don’t realize the companionship a pet brings until they’re gone. Despite his less than joyful habits, I like Speak. I like having a dog, a lot more than I thought I would. Though I don’t enjoy Speak-proofing my yard. He escaped the other day, prompting a trip to Home Depot and some ghetto-izing of our yard. The flopping, drooping, crappy gate across our driveway is now even crappier — if that’s even possible.
I’m looking forward to hanging out today and tomorrow, ignoring responsibility and celebrating with friends. Weddings are these odd little events where everyone launches into a tizzy, and really we’re just supporting our friends. We’re affirming and celebrating their decision to get married, to start a life together, to commit to each other. We bring more stress and pomp and circumstance and expectations than we need to. It’s usually over before you know it.
The sad thing about weddings is the bride and groom invite all these people to share their day with, and they usually have minimal time to spend with those people. Some of my extended family traveled to Green Bay for my wedding, and I hardly had time to talk with them. They endured sickness and turbulance for 15 minutes with me and watched the rest from afar. Several friends from Michigan ventured out (I asked them to be in the wedding, a great way to ensure they make it), and I managed a late night table-talk discussion. I seem to remember playing cards, but I don’t remember. And of course my college friends made it, but I’d see them again shortly. I probably spent the most time with them, buoying me up in the crazy times. My best memory is killing the few hours before we had to be at the church by bumming around Green Bay. We checked out the Packers Hall of Fame gift shop (too cheap to go in) and took pictures outside. Then we went to the mall’s food court for a bite to eat before heading to the church. Simple and unplanned, but a lot of fun. Of course Abby was at the church all day dealing with hair and make up and mothers, so maybe I shouldn’t revel too much in my relaxing afternoon.
But it’s really about those two people, saying we do, and everyone being there with them to cheer them on, whether or not those two people have any time or sanity left to say hello. That’s really the point: this day is about them, and they’re going to spend that first day together. You may be a guest, but that term doesn’t do your role justice. You’re more like the crowd of witnesses and less like the pampered guest of honor.
I don’t know what I’m saying, but I’ve probably avoided enough work.
With Tim’s impending wedding, we went for a little afternoon bachelor’s party the other day. It was an experience in the opposite of what you’d expect.
For whatever reason (ahem, slacker) the best man, Tim’s brother Tom, never got around to planning a party. (Which apparently runs in the family — Tim was my best man and never planned a bachelor’s party.) So a week before the wedding he asked Tim if Tuesday was good. A great beginning. Being one of the only other guys in the wedding party available, I went along as well. That was it. Just us three. Two engaged guys and one married guy, living it up for an afternoon.
Tom showed up at my place at noon, and with his 4:30 p.m. meeting and Tim’s 5:00 p.m. shift at the library, we had about four hours including travel time to live it up. Knowing Tim’s appreciation for the Mall of America, we headed there.
After a diverse food court lunch, including Mexican, Asian, and corn dog cuisine, we rode the escalator to the fourth floor to check out Jillian’s. Their over-priced version of fun was a bit much, so despite the fact that they had bowling, we went to the arcade, which was only slightly over-priced. Exchanging a $20 bill for tokens really helped you forget the fact that each game cost about 66 cents (which isn’t nearly as bad as usual $1.00).
Apparently I haven’t been to an arcade in a while, but they’ve done away with gaming diversity. There were essentially two types of games: racing games and what I’ll call pre-virtual-reality games (rather than a joystick you use some type of physical object to manipulate your character in the game). The virtual games were mainly shoot ’em up games, including one with a machine gun, one with a pump-action shotgun, and one with a sniper rifle, but they also had “lifestyle” games, like the fishing game, the skateboarding game where you stand on a skateboard, the deer hunting game (yes, it’s as boring as it sounds), and fighting game with a sword, and of course, Dance Dance Revolution. And I can’t leave out the fire fighting game. Only after 9/11 would it work to have a game where you put out fires and save people, and only after 9/11 would they be able to guilt you into playing again by urging you to be a hero and save the dying people. Let’s just say the mayor didn’t make it on my watch.
So bachelorhood was celebrated in an afternoon of vicarious driving and shooting.
Ironically, across the hall from the arcade was the bastion of bachelorhood, Hooters. I’ve never done more than drive by a Hooters, so it was another experience to walk by a Hooters, complete with swimsuit photos in the window and a few waitresses out front in bright orange short shorts and bulging tanktops.
“Eyes on the floor,” Tim said as we passed, “always on the floor.” Tom commented on the purple carpet, and I mumbled, “God’s fabulous parque floor,” finishing the Simpsons quote.