Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holidailies 2016: Obligatory Introductory Story

Who am I? 

I'm a blogger. Wait, no I'm not. I used to be a blogger. One of those blog-every-day hell-or-high-water types. I went a year or two at a stretch without missing a day. Now, with the exception of Decembers, I can almost go a year at a stretch without blogging any days. It's like the evil twin of my former blogging self.

I'm a writer. Wait, am I? I don't know. I thought I was, but except for NaNoWriMo and Holidailies, I don't really show it. I've done 50k words for NaNo several times, but none of that writing has crystalized into a full first draft, much less a completed novel. I make some decent progress every so often and I go to a writer's group as often as I can, but the proof's in the pudding, as they say, and this pudding hasn't quite achieved the proper consistency yet. 

I'm an educator. I'm not, technically, a teacher any more: after 10 years in the classroom and the rehearsal room, 10 years teaching music and English, I've spent that past seven working in student life at a boarding school. I'm still teaching, though: social skills, academic skills, leadership skills, resilience, and--let's hope--just plain human being skills. I loved the classroom, I miss it sometimes, but I feel like I'm doing good work in this role, too. So I guess I am an educator even if I'm not a classroom teacher. 

I'm a father. No, seriously, I am. It's still a little unbelievable, even though my oldest is almost seven, one of her sisters is solidly four, and our last (definitely, absolutely, unquestionably our last) is 11 months old. But I think the three of them have aged me twenty years, so yes, I'm a father. They've also completely redefined so many things for me. I'm not sure I really knew what love was until I had children. There's a song that says "I'm gonna need a second heart for all this love," and it's not just the quantity, it's the whole experience. I couldn't have understood it until it happened. Maybe I still don't, but I'm working on it. And along with that, I'm a husband (at least, last I checked--she's not home right now, and it's always possible she's chosen tonight to ditch me with the kids). But being married has probably been as profound in its own way as having children, when it comes to growing and changing. She probably doesn't think so, because I still do fifteen-hundred things that drive her nuts, but hey, I've gotten a little better at closing the cabinets in the kitchen. 

I'm a jock. No I'm not. Wait, what does that even mean? I'm 39, and a few years ago a man older than me prefaced some remark or other by saying "Of course, you're a jock, so..." And I'm thinking: are you kidding me? The kid who, in elementary school, collapsed dramatically rather than finish the mile run for the Presidential Fitness Test, since he was 1) the only one still running and 2) not getting a medal with zero pull-ups and laughable numbers on the other events... he's a jock? The kid whose favorite part of junior high track--indeed, the only bright spot--was walking from the junior high to the high school, which took us into a gas station where we loaded up on candy... that little butterball is a jock? The kid whose high school activities revolved around band, drama, choir, quiz bowl (if you don't know what it is, trust me, it's as nerdy as it sounds), writing, and--finally, in my junior and senior years--tennis... he's a jock? And yet, I'm also not that kid any more. In the last fifteen years or so I've taken a more or less strong interest in health and fitness--I lift weights religiously, I educate myself about exercise and fitness, and apparently it's all paid off by adding "jock" to my list of nerd credentials. 

I'm an amateur cook and something of a foodie. The kid who, growing up, was just about the pickiest eater ever--the kid who gagged on peas and broccoli, avoided raisins and bananas, wouldn't eat apple dumplings even though he separately liked both apples and dumplings (and, come one, they're apple dumplings!), that kid grew into an adult who loves all kinds of foods, domestic and exotic, and does virtually all the cooking for his family. I've been through a number of phases, from an avid bread-baker to a "Paleo" eater of mostly meat and veggies, from low fat to low carb to cycling between the two. As much as anything, I lean toward "real foods," even though I have a whole set of sweet teeth that love nothing more than cookies, cakes, and pies. 

I'm a player. A game player, I mean. Growing up, my family played a ton of board and card games. The gifted and talented teacher at my elementary school once told a big group of parents that one of the best things they could do for us was to play games with us, and my mother took that to heart. The big card game in our family was called Five Hundred, which at the end of the day is basically Bridge. But we also played Pinochle, Canasta, Spades, Hearts, and Euchre. We played other card games like Rook, Flinch, Touring (a knock-off of Mille Bornes, which we also played), and Uno. We played all the regular board games you would expect of a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, and probably a few you wouldn't expect. And then, in the 2000s, I discovered real board games, the German and European games and the ones they influenced: games that were more complicated or interesting than mere roll the dice and move around the board types, games with interesting mechanics and deeper strategy. Things like the gateway games Settlers of Catan and Carcassone, Blokus and Rumis, and from there to games like Agricola, Ricochet Robots, Power Grid, Diplomacy... okay, I don't want to turn this into a boring list for those who don't know the games. But if there's a board game and it's awesome, then I've probably at least heard of it. As our family has grown by adding more and younger kids, the time and opportunities for these games has diminished significantly, but I hold out hope that these things are on hold rather than dead to us. 

I'm a smart-phone addict. No, I'm not, I can quit any time. Yeah right, who am I kidding? But it's interesting that I should find myself here, since I was first a late adopter of the cell phone generally (stubbornly clinging to my landline) and then scrupulously avoiding smart phones in favor of dumb ones. Perhaps on some level I knew that I couldn't restrain myself. I mean, think about it: my iPhone 5s is not just a mobile phone, it's a computer with greater capabilities than probably my first three computers combined. All in my pocket. It's crazy how good these things are. I play a few games on it, I check e-mail more often than I really need to, and perhaps my favorite thing to do is listen to podcasts and books. I'm trying to cultivate more "down time" but did I mention that this thing is awesome?!

I'm a Renaissance man. Or maybe it's a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Somewhere on that continuum. I've never been good at limiting myself or my interests: I was a double major (English and music) in college. I went to graduate school for music and majored in choral conducting and composition, because I couldn't choose just one. Teaching in boarding schools for most of my working life has been good: I've gotten lots of opportunities to learn new things through the years and I was able to teach both English and music. And geometry for a couple weeks once. My blog kind of follows the same clear lack of a clear plan, which is one of the reasons for its name. When I blog at all--which, as we've already established, is pretty much only in December--I blog about all kinds of things. I guess the upside there is that if you don't like what I'm blogging about one day, come back the next day, since it will probably be something completely different tomorrow.

And that's more or less me. Who the heck are you?