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Moving On Up

A conversation between a man and blog:
MeMyselfandKids: So, how you doing?
Blog: Where you been?
MMK: Huh?
Blog: Huh? What do you mean huh? Last time you spoke to me was July.
MMK: Well, actually, every time I post I am talking to you.
Blog: Don’t give me that.
MMK: You don’t have to be so cranky
Blog: Oh, so now I’m cranky?
MMK: Can we move on?
Blog: Fine, what is it?
MMK: I wanted to let you know we’re moving.
Blog: Moving? Is it somewhere warm? I like warm.
MMK: Huh? Anyway, I don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference.
Blog: So, what you are saying?
MMK: Remember, I told you about a website?
Blog: Wait! Are you dumping me? I can change. I’m sorry I was cranky before. I was just feeling lonely. You didn’t show up on Thursday.
MMK: I’ve been really busy.
Blog: Don’t try and let me down easy. I can take it. I know it’s me.
MMK: No, really it’s true. It’s the end of the term, and I have a ton of marking to do.
Blog: Really?
MMK: Yes, really.
Blog: Oh, what a relief! Tell me more about the website. By the way, didn’t you talk about this months ago?
MMK: Yeah, well things don’t always go the way you plan.
Blog: Sheesh! You screwed up didnja?
MMK: No. Wow, you are cranky. My friend was…
Blog: Now, you are going to throw your friend under the bus?
MMK: Shut up and listen. My friend worked on it for me. Issues came up. Anyway, now it is ready to be unveiled.
Blog: So, is it all finished? When are we moving?
MMK: Well, I want to edit some sections. Plus any website needs to be attended to on a regular basis. Despite that, this is my last post from this address.
Blog: Wow. So how does that affect the followers?
MMK: For those who do get it delivered directly to their e-mail, there will be no change. Those who don’t get it delivered directly to their e-mail will have to re-subscribe.
Blog: You expect everyone to follow you there?
MMK: I certainly hope so. I very much appreciate my readers and try to put out quality posts. Besides, I am going to be joined by some special guests.
Blog: Who, who? Tell me who.
MMK: Well, I want people to be surprised.
Blog: Spit it out.
MMK: Well, I am going to have some of my blogging friends, members of my writing group (I think), the Website designer, and Ms. MMK.
Blog: Cool. When are the guests coming?
MMK: Over the next few weeks.
Blog: Anything else I should know.
MMK: Yes, our new address is http://larrydbernstein.com/me-myself-and-kids
Blog: Well, that sounds great. Any worries about the site?
MMK: Well, I don’t photograph well.
Blog: Nah – you’re just ugly.
MMK: Shuuuuut up. Seriously I can’t smile on demand. Anyway, my picture is on the website, and I am a bit sensitive about it.
Blog: It’ll be fine.
MMK: I guess you’re right. Want to hear a quick story?
Blog: Sure.
MMK: Today, Sunday the 20th, is my 11 year wedding anniversary.
Blog: Happy anniversary.
MMK: Thanks. Anyway, people kept asking me before my wedding, “Are you nervous?” I said no, and I really meant it. Now, of course, I was on some level. But there was one thing I was really nervous about.
Blog: What’s that?
MMK: The pictures. I was worrying about smiling for the pictures. I was afraid my lip would start quivering during picture time.
Blog: Did it?
MMK: Not so much. That’s what happens when you’re happy.
Blog: Ain’t that sweet.
MMK: I think so. Anyway, take it easy and see you on the on the website.
Blog: Sounds good.

Thanks to all of my followers. I hope to see you on my website. I appreciate the community that we have created, and I am so grateful for your loyalty, for your comments, and for your acquaintance. I hope you (and all your friends) will join me on my website. Take care and thanks again.
Larry (MMK)

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8 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Write?

“Write what you’re called to write. Your job is not to pander or entertain. It’s to create, to share stuff from the soul as you are moved. If others are moved, that is merely coincidental. Consider it “gravy.” Your job is simply to write.”
The above is from a post by Jeff Goins. He has an extremely popular blog that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Goins, he is a writing guru. His posts are meant to inspire writers. I enjoy his blog and apparently so do many others as it was voted the number one blog for writers.
Anyway, I am not so sure I agree. I want people – a lot of people to read what I write. I can’t give you a number because the answer is always more. What’s wrong with ambition?
I belong to a few writers groups on LinkedIn. Recently, someone posed a question that goes something like this: Would you still write if you knew no one was going to read your work? Most of the responders said yes and that writing was in their blood. So, the writing is first for them and then for other people.
As you may be able to guess based on what I have said so far, my answer was different. Tell me when you make a great meal, do you want people to eat it? When you draw a beautiful picture, do you want people to see it? When you do something that you are proud of, particularly something that is creative, do you want to share it? Do you want other people to enjoy it?
Look at blogging. One of my favorite things about blogging is the instant feedback/reaction. In addition to the desire to hear feedback and engage in conversation about my writing (and other people’s writing), I used to be compulsive about checking stats. I know I am not the only one. My blogging friend over at ‘A Teachable Mom’ mentioned this in a post (http://ateachablemom.com/2012/11/07/rushing-is-the-new-crack/). Another blogging friend over at ‘Did That Just Happen’ mentioned how disappointed she was that a blog post failed. http://didthatjusthappenblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/bedtime-ramblings/
I was 21 years old and lying in my childhood bedroom. It was late at night, and I had just finished reading a book. It was the 4th and final (another book was added later, and I had not read the first at that point) book in the Rabbit series by John Updike. Now, I had read plenty of books before that. However, this book and character sucked me in like no other had prior. I don’t know exactly why the series so moved me, but I knew that it did.
It was after that literary experience that I truly contemplated being a writer. I wanted to move people. I wanted to make them laugh and cry, smile and curse. Now, my writing journey has zigged and zagged. However, my basic premise for writing has not. I want to move people. That can’t be done if my work stays on my computer, sits on a shelf, or is latched up in my head. It also can’t be done if I ignore the reader and the marketplace.
So, I say my job is to write. I need to write what moves me. However, a big part of what moves me is moving other people.

 
61 Comments

Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Morning-Shower Phobia

Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, xenophobia. There are phobias for just about everything. I, thankfully, suffer from none of them. Well I’m not big on heights and you don’t want to see me around ketchup and iced tea. But other than that, I am just short of normal.

I took a self-imposed break from blogging though I continued commenting on other people’s blogs. Anyway, the break from blogging coincided with my break at school. Movies, Chuck E. Cheese, a visit to mom, editing of my novella, a staycation with my wife only, and sleeping in till 8:00 (yes, that is a big thing in my house) were just some of the highlights from my break. Of course, I found some time for self-loathing and questioning of my direction. However, the best part was not setting the alarm and moving at a different pace.
On Tuesday night, I had my clothes out, lunch made, lesson plans prepared, etc. I had psyched myself up and was ready to return to work. Then, I made a terrible mistake. I checked weather.com. The site said it would feel like 9 degrees at 6 a.m. That is the time at which I am standing on a street corner praying for the bus to come. My heart sank as my resolve froze. Uggh. I added a pair of long johns to my pile of clothes.
Wednesday morning came, and I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom for my shower. You see, there are two types of people in this world: “shower-before-bed” people and “shower-in-the-morning” people. I happen to be the latter. Thus my shower serves a dual purpose: a clean start and a wake-up call.
I looked at the shower and had reservations. Let me tell you about our shower, and you will understand. It takes a couple of minutes for the water to warm up. Once it does warm up, it can be scalding. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, why don’t you just balance the hot and cold knobs so the water will come out at a temperature you are happy with. Sounds logical. However, my shower is not logical. The knobs are inconsistent, so I never know where to turn them to in order to get a comfortable temperature.
As I have mentioned many times, I often lack patience. So, sometimes in my rush to warm up the water, I turn the hot up too far. It will be a comfortable temperature when I get in and suddenly the water will be scalding. Then, I will turn the hot water down and pump up the cold water and a minute later, the water is freezing.

I have little tolerance for extreme temperatures. So, I spend half the shower jumping away from the water. I jump so often in the shower that it could be a new kind of exercise. You have zumba, pilates, and shower dance (sounds like it should be way more erotic than it actually is). This drastic change in temperature makes washing my private parts an act of faith. So, one minute, I’m burnt like a beach bum and the next minute, I’m frozen ala Walt Disney.

Then, you have water pressure. Well, you may have water pressure, but my shower sure doesn’t. Give my two cups of water and an hour, and I can generate more pressure than my shower.

So now, I have made a change. I am no longer a daytime shower person. It is too scary in that shower on cold winter mornings. In fact, you could say that I have a fear or phobia of my shower. There’s got to be a name for morning-shower phobia.

 
49 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fishing with Lou

Calm waters, bonding time, thrill of the pull. Yeah, I have no interest in fishing. Seriously.
My Uncle Lou passed away when I was 10. Unfortunately, I only have vague memories of him. My uncle fought in World War II, marched in the Mummers Parade, and was a September call up for the Philadelphia A’s.
Uncle Lou was the type of uncle that would buy you ice cream even though you were about to go home and eat dinner. He was the uncle who would come to your baseball games. He was the uncle who would make every trip seem interesting.
And he was the fisherman of the family. My father could get sea sick during a long bath. So, if my brothers or I were to go fishing, it would be because Uncle Lou took us. However, the majority of the fishing trips were for my two oldest brothers. I was too young or at least that is what I was told.
One day my next older brother, NG (by two years) and I were playing with our new fishing rods that Uncle Lou bought for us. It was a particularly slow summer day. NG and I stood next to each other in front of our house. We were in competition as brothers always are. The goal was to see who could cast their line further. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember it made me want to go fishing.
Eventually, Uncle Lou decided that NG & I were old enough to go fishing. And I caught a fish. Well, sort of. I had a bite on my line and pulled it in under Uncle Lou’s tutelage. I was excited and dreamed of telling my older brothers about my big catch. So after a moment, the fish became visible – barely. The fish was no more than six ounces and three inches and bloodied from the fight with my line. The pathetic thing eventually fell off my line – becoming lunch for some other sea animal.
Shortly, thereafter Uncle Lou called it a day. The fish weren’t biting, and the weather was ominous. We stopped at a diner on the way home. Uncle Lou congratulated me on my near catch and told NG he would do better next time.
Unfortunately, there was no next time with Uncle Lou. He died rather suddenly leaving everyone sad. He was one of the good ones.
Anyway my next and last fishing trip was just an excuse to drink beer with a couple of friends. Oh well.

This was a semi-elaborate way of saying I am taking a break from blogging. You know like they say – I’m gone fishing. I don’t where that term comes from. I’m sure I cold Google it, and I just might eventually. Anyway, I won’t be posting for the next week to 10 days. I need a break. I just might pop on WordPress and make some comments, and I might not. The lack of commitment. I am a guy you know.
Lastly, I want to wish Happy Holidays to all of you who will be celebrating Christmas next week. May it be a wonderful, peaceful, and joyous holiday.

 
47 Comments

Posted by on December 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Making My Way Home

On a brisk grey Tuesday afternoon. A packed New Jersey Transit bus number 164 made its way to the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. I glanced up and took note of the people standing – sorry for them but happy that to not be among their ranks. It had been a typical day of work for me – frustrations, battles, and maybe some small victories and learning. I was anxious to get home.
As I settled down, I turned back to the day’s distractions. I had a book and my phone. I typed in WordPress and began blogging away – reading, commenting, and responding.
Moments later the bus stopped– traffic back up. Yuck. I glanced at my watch. 4:05. Okay, I reasoned, decent time so far. Let this clear up quickly, and I can still make it home on time. Back to blogging.
Finally, the bus picked up speed, and we got off the New Jersey Turnpike and on to Route 80. Time check – 4:10. Okay, we are definitely late. Damn – I’ll have to make lunch after we pick up BR at karate. As long as we can get BR’s homework started by 6:15, otherwise heavy duty negotiations will be needed to keep him on track.
Full stop. Uh-oh. I looked out the window. This was not good. I called my wife who was still in the city.
“Call E (babysitter), and see if she can take them to karate.”
I called.
“Big favor to ask of you. Can you take the boys to karate? Traffic is backed up, and I am not sure if I am going to make it.”
“No problem.”
“Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“Sure. Will you meet me there like last time?”
“I don’t know. I can’t say with this traffic. It doesn’t look good. Let me call you back in a little while when I have a better idea.
Five minutes later and little movement.
“Hi. It’s L. Yeah, this really doesn’t look good. Would you mind taking the boys and bringing them back from karate? I have no idea when I will be home.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“I really appreciate your flexibility.”
Various home schedules depending on arrival time ran through my head. I picture it a rapidly moving rolodex.

It was 5:18 when I finally walked in the door. The kids would not be home for another twenty minutes. Alone time. In my home. Did anyone else hear the angels sing halleluljah? No, I didn’t fall on my bed, blast the music, or run around naked. I did consider all those options but the rolodex turned to productivity. I got dinner started, made my lunch for the next day, set out my clothes for work, and ran the boys’ bath. Deep sigh – enjoy moment of quiet.
Then the storm hit.
“Where were you? “Why were you late? Why didn’t you come to karate? What’s for dinner? Did you leave the computer on?”
I barked back, “Dinner is being made, put your jackets in the closet, and take your shoes to your room. And go up take a bath.”
“Why do we have to take a bath now? We haven’t even eaten yet. We take a bath after dinner.”
“Change of schedule. Bath first and then dinner.”
“But..”
“No buts.”
“We are already off schedule, and I don’t want a late night.”
BR, already stripped down to his underwear as he had removed his Karate uniform, said fine. He pulled off his underwear and headed to the bathroom. He presented the full monty.
“Wait till you get to the bathroom next time.”
I looked over at E (the babysitter) and tried to laugh it off, “Sorry about that. You know – kids.”
“SJ you have to go to.”
“Fine,” he whined. He walked up the steps and removed his underwear, affectively mooning E and me.
Great. I have two exhibitionists.
I turned to E, “Well, I um. He’s. Uhh. Well.” Shaking my head, I finally became coherent, “I don’t even know what to say about that.”
With a laugh and good night, E left me with my soon to be clean free spirits. It was nice to be home.

 
37 Comments

Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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No Digression

The Eagles suck. Really, really suck. The Sixers have gotten off to a mediocre start with their star centered injured and out for who knows how long. The NHL is on strike and therefore no Flyers games. The Phillies are coming off a mediocre season and are in the quiet part of the offseason.

So, sports is out.

The election is over. There are no more polls, advertisements, or speeches. Barack Obama, for better or worse, has been reelected. The Senate and House of Representatives remain nearly unchanged.

So, the political races are over.

What am I to do?

I am on the computer. Maybe, I’m creating an assignment for students, writing a blog entry, creating a story. My mind wanders. I’m distracted. Or maybe, I’m just stalling. Semantics I suppose, but I digress. The point is I am leaving the productive mode and entering wandering mode. I click a button and am suddenly surfing the world wide web (by the way, I always wanted to learn how to surf. I think I’ll put it on my bucket list under learn to play the harmonica. There I go digressing again).  I’d like to think this digression is actually part of the creative process. Research if you will. It keeps my mind active.

Who am I kidding?

For every time that I am doing true research there are 15 times where I am feeding my overactive mind with useless information. Do you know how often I pop on WordPress? Way. Too. Often.

So, what else should I do? I don’t have a ton of interests. I hop on Yahoo and see the ‘big’ stories. By the way, the latest headlines are Theron’s shocking haircut and small room’s big surprises.  Despite my wanderlust, I think I can stay away from those ‘big’ stories.

Ahh, self-control feels good.

If something doesn’t come along soon, I might stay focused. I might find myself cranking out work quicker than I could skim through another useless article. I think I might become Super Productive. Maybe, I could get a cape and a theme song.  This could be good.

 
24 Comments

Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Not Narcissistic

I was going to write about my SJ turning 6 this past weekend.

I was going to mention how proud I am that he learned to read  on his own.

I was going to convey how he cracks me up when I am washing him with his instructions as though he is getting a massage, “A little to the left. Ahh.”

I was going to tell you about how he is still obsessed with Thomas.

I was going to relate to you that he is a bit of a klutz.

I was going to note to you that he is a great hugger and loves to fall into your arms.

I was going to speak of his discovery of the deliciousness of chocolate.

I was going to reveal to you that he is always loud whether he means to be or not.

But then yesterday, I was roaming around WordPress. I was looking to read some parenting blogs as I am wont to do on an increasingly regular basis.  I was on for just a few minutes when I lost track of how many bloggers were writing about their children’s birthdays. Was another one needed? Last night my writing group friend mentioned that bloggers, and much of our society, are narcissistic. Of course, he said, “Present company excluded.”

I had been thinking the same thing. After all, does anyone outside of family and friends really care about SJ and the habits noted above? Does this information have one iota of impact upon anyone in the blogosphere?  After all, how many people had birthdays on Saturday, November 10th? Does 100 million sound reasonable? Hell, even in my family we had another birthday. Had my father been alive, he would have turned 80.  So, do I really need to share this information?

After all, I’m the kind of friend that has 20-minute conversations where I spend the first 18 minutes asking about the other person. Unless, I really have something to say, I’m quite content with that breakdown. Isn’t that the antithesis of narcissistic? In addition, I have neither time nor interest in reality shows (Okay, I often watch pieces of Project Runway with my wife. Yes, I did the same when she used to watch America’s Next Top Model. That was just because I was trying to be a good husband and take an interest in her interests. Really. Promise).

No, I am not narcissistic (well, I may have some of those traits but this is not one of them). I can’t accept that label. Am I hiding behind a blog due to my shyness? Maybe I do, a little. I look at my blog and the blogosphere as a way to form community. I look it as a way of shrinking the world and bonding over common concerns. I look at it as a way to learn/grow my writing skills while doing the same for others.

Maybe there is a bit of narcissism and hiding involved in blogging. I don’t care. So, what was I saying about SJ?
 
43 Comments

Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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