Counting life by tens

When it’s a new year, we look forward. When it’s a new year, especially one that ends in zero, some of us look back. I’m a backward gazer.

January 1970

I was a toddler, about a year away from starting my first job. It’s possible farm kids enter the workforce sooner. My first job entailed sitting on a rock and calling the cows down from the pasture at milking time. I did such a good job of it, I was promoted to jobs with more responsibility. I regretted that none of these higher jobs involved sitting down.

toy tractor

1970: Already working with tractors.

January 1980

I was in 7th grade. My father died in 1976, so we no longer operated the farm. I was excited for the 1980 Winter Olympic in Lake Placid. It was a big deal having the Olympics in our state. On weekends, they showed Nordic events on TV. Afterward, I would put on my skis to race around the perimeter of the cornfield. I wore my watch so I could try to beat my best time.

Becoming an Olympic biathlete was my sports dream, but it never had a shot. We didn’t have any ski clubs and there was no Internet to help find such things. I just skied around the field, enjoying the dream for what it was.

January 1990

I had graduated college the spring before and moved to Los Angeles. I quickly discovered that my freshly printed degree in Video Production was an express ticket to working retail sales in that town. I worked in the Glendale Galleria, selling personalized mugs and engraving glass and metal. Beginning at minimum wage, I was bumped up to $6/hour when I became a competent engraver.

I was at a drive-through ATM one day when my car began to shake. The ATM screen promised me I had no money for repairs, but after a minute the car calmed down. I drove home fearing a breakdown, but the car behaved. Turning on the TV, I breathed relief at learning it was only an earthquake.

It was around New Year’s, 1990, when my mother called to tell me she had cancer. She played it down and assured me everything would be all right. I believed her, because when your mom says it will be all right, you make yourself believe her. You make yourself believe her for as long as you can.

Lost cause

1990: My Los Angeles office/dining room.

January 2000

We survived Y2K; that was good. California and a few other sojourns were long past. I was already working the same job I have now; a fact that gives me pause. I was single and living in a tiny loft apartment. I wouldn’t meet my wife for two more years.

After years of fits and starts, I started to take writing more seriously. I submitted a novel to POD company, not realizing how immature the writing of a 32-year-old could be. I don’t know if blogs existed yet. I certainly hadn’t heard of them.

January 2010

I had a kid! I owned a house! Not to mention the whole marriage thing. After years of assuming I would grow old in my little apartment with a growing pile of unpublished manuscripts (my version of cats), I had people around me to help me grow old. (I mean that in a good, easing sort of way – mostly).

I’d worked for the same employer for 10 years, which felt kind of odd. Who does that? But there was more waiting for me at home than edits and rewrites, so things were good. I would start this blog within the next two years.

Florida vacation

2010: Father of one. Since children 2 and 3, I don’t get to sit so comfortably anymore.

January 2020

I have three kids now – still only one wife. I have published three more books, all so much better than that first one. This blog is eight years old. I hope it has a few more years in it. Tonight, I will coach 6th grade basketball practice, which is just one of the many cherished privileges my children have offered me.

And now you’re all caught up.

P.S. Almost forgot. I have a cell phone now. I held out for decades, but you know how we young fellows are susceptible to peer pressure.



2013: The year in reruns

You know those sitcom episodes where they don’t have any new shows ready but they need to air something, so they dig up old clips and the writers show up to bang out a few sentences of intro for each old segment on the way to pick up their paychecks? If there were any paychecks involved with my blog, this “episode” would be exactly like that.

The year 2013 corresponds to what would be Season 2 of Snoozing on the Sofa. When the timing works out like that, it seems a shame not to bow to fate and put on a year-end clip show. Here are some of my favorite posts from Season 2.

My son reminded me of my own mortality when he began telling his friend the story of how I died. It was rather disturbing to hear such a tale. My loved ones would be shocked at the news. The air was cleared, at last, when I was able to assure everyone that Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

I was worried that the boy might be getting a little too creative for his britches. But when he asked me the riddle, Why are cows so smart?, it renewed my faith that he uses his powers of imagination for good rather than evil.

That’s not to say I never mistook him for an evil spirit. His unnatural ability to glide to the side of my bed in the middle of the night reaffirmed a belief he first instilled in me when he was a toddler. I was able to report that some things never change, because Kids are STILL creepy: a horror story sequel.

2013 was a year filled with love, and even romance. It’s fortunate for parents that most childhood romance is purely theoretical, as in the age-old philosophical question, Dad, can I have a Sugar Mama?

Even little brother had his brush with heartache. Now, that special girl is just a bittersweet memory of toddler bliss. Oh, what a heart wrenching affair it is To have loved and lost in the mall play area.

But little boys bounce back from their brushes with girls. Their thoughts soon turn to vital interests, like McDonald’s and army vehicles. When they get together with their friends to chat about important topics, their conversations can take fascinating turns, as I discovered when I found myself Eavesdropping on the class of 2026.

A look back at 2013 wouldn’t be complete without input from my wife. We had some interesting conversations this year, some of which were tame enough to share. This one in particular won her many fans: Conversations with my wife: Boob on fire.

I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane. Now it’s time to look forward to the fun and excitement of 2014. I’ll do that right after I swing by and pick up my paycheck.

Whadaya mean this is volunteer work?

That can’t be right.

Who’d be daft enough to do this for fun?

1907 is gonna be a great year!

Happy New Year! And since this post is all about the past, get out there and party like it’s 1907!