Sunday, July 18, 2010

The nada summer day

Summer is my favorite time of year, and I loathe to waste a day during the summer. But sometimes, you just need a nada day.

Today was a nada day. We had about our fifth consecutive day of temperatures in at least the high 90s and were coming off several busy days for all of us. It just turned into one of those days we didn't do much. Wife went for a run before it got too hot. She did a little shopping with Eldest. I took the boys to Target. I also blogged and played Wii Fit. We made a simple, easy dinner, then watched "Wipeout." Littlest played a game on the DS. Eldest and I played "Lego Indiana Jones." I watered the lawn and garden. And that was about it for a sunny but brutally hot (and a little humid, which is unusual for Utah) day. That was all we seemed to have the energy for -- we theorized taking the boys swimming, then decided we were all too tired (though I'm sure they would have found the energy). One nada summer day once in a while is OK.

We get back into our usual busy, sometimes fun routine this week, including a trip to Lagoon. Vacation is coming up, and nada days on vacation are bad. But on the hottest day of the year, after a busy week, a nada summer day sometimes just happens and is, ultimately, necessary.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

35 years ago ...

I went for a walk tonight around dusk and watched the sunset from Sugar House Park near our house. It was a pleasant night here in SLC, and I needed a little exercise today and didn't feel like running, so I walked over the the far southwest corner of the park to get a view of the setting sun as it dropped below the horizon.

I've written before on watching summer sunsets. Summer is my favorite time of year, and though I'm not going to pick a specific time of day I prefer every summer, dusk floods back the most memories. Actually, dusk floods back some early memories -- one specifically from 1975, when I was 4 1/2 years old.

On a particular summer night, with the sun setting and the air warm, we as a family went the drive-in to see "Escape From Witch Mountain." I think we might have driven down Milwaukee Avenue and stopped at Superdawg on the way (which makes me think we saw the movie at Pal-Waukee, which would have been a long drive down Milwaukee from the city; I do wonder if I'm confusing another drive-in night with this memory). I remember very little of the movie other than generally parking, the sky getting dark, and the screen lighting up.

What I remember most of that night was the dusk en route to the drive-in, and the songs playing on the radio. My parents must have been listening to WLS or WCFL -- both Top 40 AM stations -- and I'm not even sure what car we were traveling in that night (I think this was before our green Buick Century with the landau top). About six songs from that summer send me back to that night, what little of it I remember, almost every time I hear them. The songs are:

-- "Sister Golden Hair" by America (the opening guitar on this song simply sounds like a sunset, mostly because of connecting it to that night 35 years ago)

-- "Listen to What the Man Said" by Paul McCartney

-- "I'm Not in Love" by 10cc

-- "Only Yesterday" by the Carpenters

-- "One of These Nights" by the Eagles (the memory is so strong here, too, that I bought it for "Guitar Hero")

-- "Killer Queen" by Queen

-- "It's a Miracle" by Barry Manilow

The funny thing is, I didn't realize how powerful these songs sent me back until I was an adult. I had to rediscover them: "Sister Golden Hair" in college; "Listen to What the Man Said" after buying Paul McCartney's greatest hits on CD; "Only Yesterday" after hearing it on Saturday at the '70s on a Madison radio station. It's funny because I was flashing back to the early '80s ... in the mid '80s. The deeper memories, the ones from really younger, didn't start hurtling back until I was further removed from them.

What invariably sends me back, more than anything else, is the music of that time. I don't know if my sons will get to experience that from now until then. When my parents listened to the Top 40 stations, it was almost all they were getting on an AM radio. Today, with so much specialized radio, we're more likely to listen to an oldies station or a classic rock station or an alternative station. In 1975, my parents were still young -- that was their generation of music that continued from the '60s. With specialized radio stations, and with us no longer in my 20s, we don't have quite the patience for whatever is closest to a Top 40 station. And of course, there's always the iPod that we can listen to within the car, too.

Maybe songs will unearth memories from my sons' childhoods someday. Littlest loves music so much right now that I can't imagine he'll suddenly forget "Blitzkrieg Bop." But that won't be a song from 2010, the year he was a 4-year-old. There's nothing wrong with that, but looking back to that night that I amazingly can remember thanks to the pop music of that day, it's a little bittersweet.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The write stuff

While living in Madison, before kids, before we were even married, I went for a walk through the far West side neighborhood we lived in and listened to a old tape of songs off the radio from 1984. It was a tape I hadn't listened to in years. It was at a time when I was getting serious about writing -- in a time before blogs, web publishing, NaNoWriMo, and so on. One of my possible projects was an idea I had in college to do sort of a written "Wonder Years" focusing on childhood summers (my favorite time of year). And I found unlikely inspiration from this cassette -- inspiration I've tried to recapture over the years. In the subsequent months, I wrote four "stories" for this project. I got some input from a friend, tweaked them, and never quite went back.

Well, that mildly inspiring cassette/walk was from a cassette I had recorded about 12 years previous. And that was ... about 14 years ago. I look at the little victories -- semi-consistent blogging, the NaNoWriMo novel I cranked out last November, a few completed short stories and some ideas that I enthusiastically started then let fall away. The "Five Summers" project that I started is one that I let fall away, and one that I have been thinking of lately. Maybe it's just the middle of summer has me thinking about it, and that chain of thought combined with the fact I did finish the NaNoWriMo novel (and thus know that when focused, I can accomplish these things) is drawing me back. And maybe, just maybe, because I'm older and have kids of my own, I have gained a better perspective on what "Five Summers" should truly entail.

And here's why I should be less daunting: The writing world is a much different place. In 1996, I wanted to write that book, be published and be at least a minor success, but there was an "Oh my God, how do I start the process?" element to it that always loomed. In 2010, I don't necessarily need to write something that will have a cover and be sold in independent bookstores. I can write it all and .pdf it or attach it to e-mails and send to the friends and family who want to read it. I can self-publish digitally on a number of websites that allow the posting of your own writings. I can blog one story (the chapters for this project are self-contained stories) at a time, then collect them all for myself or for whatever I want to do with them. I'm not dismissing trying to be published someday or marketing my creativity -- of course, I would love to see my name on a cover in that bookstore, and as a freelancer, that should be a goal. But, all these years later, it's not the most important thing, not as important as the writing itself. I wonder if that subtle, unconscious pressure held me back a little. Yes, time to write has always been and will continue to be an issue, but hopefully, that now should be the only issue.

So that's my goal here as the summer passes, and into the fall -- to write like mad. Continue with "Five Summers." Continue this blog and my NFL blog. I've been itching to start another blog with an idea I had that I would hope I can make a little money off of through ads. Write other stories as they hit my brain (my Kmart post from a couple years ago is an example of what I wish I was doing more of here). And to not pressure myself into thinking it can't be done, because there will always be a path that will work for me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Party men

Today was a two-birthday party day. The boys went to one in the morning, then Eldest had one in the afternoon that Littlest was also invited to.

The morning party was fun and low-key. About seven kids, with a lot of playtime and some cake. One of the dads who lived by the party house (and whose son is on Eldest's soccer team) invited us over to their house, where the boys played for about 45 minutes more. I didn't want to wear them out, knowing another party was ahead. I took the boys this morning while Wife got some things done, while she was going to take them to the afternoon party while I did some yard work and grilled dinner.

The afternoon party was something else, according to the boys and Wife: three hours of kid-sanity. Eldest got to play with his school friends, while Littlest went on a giant inflatable water slide at least 50 times by Wife's estimation. He also jammed on some musical instruments at the party, and both boys got their faces painted. The boys came home wired from the fun afternoon, while Wife looked more exhausted than they did.

So, we're looking forward to a mellower Sunday that will include a trip to the pool. No clowns, no birthday cake, and hopefully, no overexcited kids. Or adults.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Batter up!

We are in the midst of baseball season No. 2 this year. The Salt Lake County rec league in which the boys play cram eight games into four weeks inside the University of Utah Fieldhouse. Eldest played coach pitch in the spring league and is playing again this summer; Littlest is playing t-ball for the first time.

So far, so good! Eldest was fielding better this week, and though his hits weren't as impressive as last week, he's doing OK. Littlest is having fun and hit the ball better than any game this season. His problem is not understanding that he's not going to field every ball. It was funny -- last game, we had almost the whole team and he complained he wasn't fielding as much as he wanted to. This game, we only had four players, so he should have gotten the ball more, but in the first inning, he camped out on second base and didn't move, instead high-fiving the opposing team's runners as they came to his base. He decided to field in the next two innings, and it's funny: He doesn't even need to field the ball, just so long as he touches it at some point, maybe throwing it to first and back to the coach or simply handing it to somebody else.

Only three games left. Summer is speeding by ...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Kaboom

I'm sitting on my front porch blogging on July 4 and hearing fireworks go off all over the neighborhood in what must be the most surreal Independence Day I've ever experienced.

The fireworks in Salt Lake City were last night, July 3, because July 4 fell on a Sunday. We did all the holiday stuff yesterday -- rode in the neighborhood parade, grilled, went for a hike to Ensign Peak, saw the Sughar House Park fireworks -- and had a lot of fun. Today simply did not seem like July 4. We didn't do much all morning (Wife did make it out for a run), saw "How to Train Your Dragon" at the budget theater, ate a late lunch on our patio and let the boys play and watch them gradually get crabbier after their late night/early morning lack of sleep. They finally fell asleep tonight around 9, at which time I came outside with the laptop.

Nobody is out on our block setting off fireworks, but I'm hearing it from neighboring streets. I guess it seems surreal because it didn't feel like a holiday today because we celebrated yesterday. Some people obviously have overcome that tonight, and more power to them. I'm just glad I didn't decide to go running tonight -- I would have been looking over my shoulder every time I heard a firework explode through my headphones.

It should be interesting to see what tomorrow is like, with it being the day off for many people. We might go swimming and the boys have baseball tomorrow night. But if anything, it will feel more like a weekend day, just like today did, even if there are more fireworks.