Day 1: Okay, I’m Going to Try This 30-Day Journaling Challenge

A few days ago my acquaintance Bakari Chavanu posted a link on Facebook to a 30-day Digital Journaling Challenge. It seemed up my alley—I’ve considered NaNoWriMo for years, but I’m more interested in blogging and composing articles than in trying my hand at writing a novel. I have mad respect and a slight bit of envy for my cool writer friends who can do that kind of thing. Digital journaling seems easier and more in line with my interests, so sure, why not? I signed up.

Apparently I’ll receive one or two daily journal-writing prompts in my inbox. My plan is to attempt to post one blog post a day, maybe here, maybe on other sites, for the next 30 days. What I write might not fall under the category of “journaling,” and that’s okay ‘cuz it’s my damn blog and I can write what I want. So let’s get started!

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Horn Lines, The Signature Sound of Today’s Pop Hits?

I have a casual fascination with pop music trends, those tweaks to the pop formulas that work fantastically for some period of time before pop slides into the next hip set of sounds. It’s interesting to me when some trend is distinct yet ubiquitous—it’s often a sign that the sound won’t be popular very long. For a moment the top hits will display the fad, then everyone will mimic the sound. But trends shift, and distinct trends can quickly sound “so last year.”

sax player

Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop,” with its prominent saxophone sounds, started drawing attention in late 2012 then exploded on the charts in early 2013. Over the past year Jason Derulo had hits with “Talk Dirty,” “Trumpets,” and most recently “Wiggle.” All three songs have wind or brass instrument sounds carrying strong melodies during the chorus. Continue reading

Family Vault: Dad’s FBI Rejection Letter, Signed by J. Edgar Hoover

Hey cool! While cleaning out a box of collected crap in my apartment, I came across this letter I must have found in my dad’s house:

IMG_2657(Click image for larger version.)

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Mopey Musings on My Dead Father’s Birthday

My father would have been 76 today, except that he died two years and one day ago. Being from Philadelphia, silly as it is, I would have celebrated his 76th as an extra-special birthday.

Mourning and grief are reasonable. Mourning and grief are irrational. I make decisions to feel and behave a certain way, but I still find tears in my eyes during Johnny Cash songs in the car. We would sing along to a Greatest Hits cassette in the kitchen when I was a kid. Why didn’t I ever accept his invitations to go to Chi-Chi’s for karaoke?

The word “adrift” best sums up the feeling bubbling and darting behind my busy thoughts this week. “Mopey” and “self-reflective” sum up my recent state.

But I go on.

Dad and kids 1985My dad with my siblings and 5-year-old me, smiling on the right.
(Another family picture here.)

Seventh Grade English Writing Assignment: “English: Descriptive Language”

Here’s another elementary school assignment I typed up. In this one, I had to try to cram in examples of descriptive language and identify them for the teacher. Blah. I left my old notes in. I’m pretty sure from the language used that I didn’t take the assignment too seriously—and after reading the teacher’s notes, it looks like I didn’t follow the directions too closely, either.

I left in any grammar and spelling mistakes I may have made. I’m pretty sure I had trouble keeping the tense consistent at this time. It’s all over the place! Continue reading

I Had Minor Surgery on My Leg Today

The procedure is called varicose vein ablation, or “VNUS Closure™.” I have a family history of blood clots, which I’ve been taking into account in recent health decisions (avoiding hormonal birth control, exercising more to increase cardiovascular health, etc.). The pulmonary embolism my mom suffered a few months ago spurred me to check out treatment options for the varicose vein I’ve had on my right leg since I was 19. (Retail. Long shifts standing in one place.)

I’m throwing this post up quickly; just wanted to keep my family and some others in the loop. Pictures after the jump. Note: Don’t look if you’re squeamish.

So yeah, ow. I’m doing okay, but for some reason I hadn’t considered the ramifications of letting people slice through my tender leg flesh in half a dozen spots. Hurts. Can’t bend knee much. Can’t go hiking this weekend. Can’t figure out how to put on a shoe when I can’t bend my knee. But I should be back to things in a couple of weeks, if all goes well. Continue reading

Dear Morgan Freeman-loving Atheists: Race Blindness Doesn’t Solve the Race Problem

This post sat in my Drafts folder for more than a year ‘cuz I’m a chicken who generally prefers to avoid spending time in internet debates on contentious topics. But now I’m trying to clean up my Drafts folders, so here it is.

A couple days before Martin Luther King Jr. day, a skeptic friend of mine posted this on Facebook:

Morgan Freeman solves the race problem.

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Fourth Grade English Writing Assignment: Swimming

Sept. 14, 1989
Grade 4

Debbie Goddard
English

It was really hard for me to learn how to swim. Some people are born swimmers. I wasn’t. I sank like a rock.
Once I slipped and fell and hit my head. It was very tireing. The next day I couldn’t sink!

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Grade School Story: “The Boy that Santa Forgot”

I found copies of the story below when I was cleaning out my dad’s house last year. (Describing him as a “hoarder” is understatement.) I think I wrote it in sixth grade or so.

Escalade Power Wheels
“They see us rollin’. They hatin’.”

My family was relatively poor when I was a kid—welfare, food stamps, hand-me-down clothing, and chewed-up or broken toys from the Salvation Army were the norm. That wasn’t unusual in my neighborhood. But I was painfully aware from the commercials on TV and the stories from classmates that this was not how some kids lived, and I was envious. So, so envious. I dreamt of unwrapping the most incredible gifts on Christmas morning: remote-controlled cars, Rubik’s Cubes, Easy Bake Ovens, cameras, Lego space sets, Power Wheels…Omg, Power Wheels! I’d be the most stuntin’ Power Wheels driver EVER. I’d win Power Wheels competitions! Everyone would admire my amazing Power Wheels skills. If only I had a Power Wheels truck, I knew my life would be THE BEST. Such were my covetous Walter Mitty dreams. Continue reading

The Cheesesteak Diaries, Chapter 2: Elmwood Taco & Subs, Buffalo, NY

It’s been a while since I felt compelled to try getting a good cheesesteak in the Buffalo area, but after jonesing hard for a tasty sandwich this week, it was time to make another attempt. A coworker today suggested I try the sandwiches at Elmwood Taco & Subs, just a few minutes from my apartment, so I stopped by on the way home from work tonight.

What a mistake that was. Let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading