I’d Hate To Check My Blood Pressure This Month

I got my Vermont College Workshop Packet this weekend. It comes in at just over 200 pages, and it contains pieces by 11 authors (including myself) that I’m supposed to read and be ready to critique by the time the residency rolls around next month.

No so bad, right? Except that I have an article that’s due by the end of the month (I’ll post more about that after I finish the damn thing), we have 2 killer projects at work with really short schedules, and I have to go out of town at next weekend (and then maybe the weekend after that).

So while I’m really excited about reading the packet, all I can think is: What the hell have I gotten myself into?


I started a new project last week. So far, I haven’t used the following words:



or even

That’s right, kiddos–Mr. V is trying to go:

And truthfully, it:

I gonna stick with this for a while, just because the type of novel I’m writing could work great without cursing, if I can make the dialogue work. But right now, it doesn’t. And if after a few weeks I can’t get it to work, I’ll flush it down the:

And go back to dropping:

Chillin’ at the Crib

I’m finally back in Austin after my two month stint in Hell Dallas, and I must say, it’s great to be back home. Not that I really dislike Dallas, but it sucks to be living out of a suitcase for 8 weeks. And while I like the Baymont Inn, it doesn’t exactly provide a superior living experience.

The worse thing about being away from home (you know, other than not being able to see Mrs. V so much) was that it was almost impossible for me to get writing done. Yeah, I tinkered on a few projects, and I did some editing, but I may have written 3 pages of new material. And that wouldn’t be so bad, expect that I’m enrolled in this MFA program, and I kinda get the feeling that they expect me to write.

Hopefully in another few weeks, I should be able to unveil the cover to My Life as a Rhombus. Andrew sent a mock cover the other day, and believe me, Flux has once again cranked out another outstanding cover.

And in closing, I just re-watched Ocean’s Eleven on TBS. I’m convinced–George Clooney is the coolest white guy in America (the other guy’s pretty cool as well).

A Good Time to be a Flux Author (and some other stuff)

Over at the Flux blog, Andrew has been announcing some pretty great news about the Flux authors. Carrie Jones and Brian Yansky received some very nice reviews for their novels, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend (Carrie) and Wonders of the World (Brian). Christine Kole Maclean and Simone Elkeles won an Independent Publishers Book Award (Gold for Christine and Silver for Simone). And Flux has rolled out the new covers for the fall books. (Scroll to the bottom of the Flux blog for the slideshow showing the covers. Or, take a look at all of the upcoming books at “the Mothership“.)

Getting back to Carrie–I just finished her book last week, and I absolutely loved it. Tips is the type of book that will make you laugh and cringe (but cringe in a good way) at the same time. Belle is a sweetheart; a sweetheart you have to root for. And while I wanted to hate Dylan (like I think Belle did at first), Carrie really did a good job of showing him as a conflicted and compassionate three-dimensional character, not just a stereotypical gay guy that dumps his girlfriend. And–saying this in the most heterosexual way possible–if I was a girl, I would be all over Tom Tanner.

I’m really looking forward to the sequel, Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape), and I’m hoping there’s a lot more of Emily in it.

And just to throw some good news in about me, my book is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. January 2008 doesn’t seem quite so far away anymore.

What’s in a Name – Part Deux

Coltrane Jenkins made a post a few days ago about our intent on starting a group blog. In addition to having trouble with finding the time to start another blog (note my three week gap since my last post), we’ve also been struggling with potential blog titles. He listed the top 10 rejects. Here are 5 more.

1) Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow. Really, is there any point in explaining this one? I kinda liked it, but Coltrane thought it was crass.

2) The Kobayashi Maru. The Kobayashi Maru (as shown in Star Trek II) is a training exercise that all Starfleet command-track cadets must take–it creates a “no-win scenario” and is meant to test a cadet’s character. Captain Kirk successfully beats the test by reprogramming the simulator, and was awarded a commendation for original thinking. As Kirk would say later in STII: “I don’t like to lose.”

What this has to do with blogging, I don’t know. I just think it’s a cool name.

3) We Heart Soledad O’Brien. In the spirit of one of Coltrane’s favorite blogs, Kissing Suzy Kobler, I suggested that we name our blog in honor another journalist: Soledad O’Brien. And while I know I should be highlighting all of Soledad’s class, dignity, and intelligence, let me just be honest — she is FINE, FINE, FINE! (Any techno-geeks remember her from MSNBC’s The Site? I know I do.)

I think this title would have really worked, that it, until CNN kicked her off their morning show. The bastards.

4) Eating Cold Chicken Will Give You Worms: My father claims he never said this, but I promise, when growing up, hearing this phrase was a given. For some reason, my father took offense to me and my brother eating cooked poultry foods without heating them up. Of course, my father was of the belief that if you didn’t burn your food, it was still raw. To date, I have never seen the man order a steak any less cooked than “well-done”.

And since we’re speaking of inedible foods…

5. World’s Finest Chocolate: I know, Coltrane’s already listed this on his blog. But really, this stuff is so tough and so bad, it’s worth mentioning again. If all of mankind was destroyed in a nuclear catastrophe tomorrow, the only things left standing would be cockroaches and mounds upon mounds of World’s Finest Chocolate. It’s actually kind to call this stuff chocolate–rather, it’s more like a non-biodegradable brick.

A New Look

As some of you know, I’ve been in Dallas for the past four weeks, doing some work for our office up here. It’s mainly field work (inspections), so I haven’t been doing much shaving lately. As I stared at my Unabomber beard in the mirror this morning, I started to wonder if it was time for me to sport a new look.

When I first grew my beard three years ago, I was mainly trying to look older. I have a lot of responsibility in my day job, and the last thing I wanted a client saying was, “He’s how old?” Thus, I decided to pull a Teddy Pendergrass and grow the beard.

But now that I’m a little older, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time to retire the beard. Plus, Mrs. V never liked it anyway–she said it was hard to cuddle because it always scratched her. (Of course, being that I’m anti-cuddling, maybe I should keep the beard). But if I did cut the beard, what new look should I go with? Here are the options:


1) The clean shaven look a.k.a. “THE DENZEL”

Pros: If I could look a tenth of how cool Denzel looks, it would be worth it. Plus, that’ll give Mrs. V a chance to caress my baby smooth skin.

Cons: It’d be a pain in the ass to shave every day. And let’s be honest–it’d take a lot more than a smooth face to look as cool as Denzel.

2) The full goatee a.k.a. “THE ANGRY BLACK MAN”

Pros: Sporting this look is just like hanging a sign around my neck that says, “Don’t f@#$ with me.”

Cons: If I don’t shave it regularly, I’ll end up looking like Jamie Foxx from Miami Vice.

3) The Van Dyke a.k.a. “THE CHAPPELLE”

Pros: I used to sport this in college, so I’m used to it.

Cons: I also used to drink Amaretto Sours and eat Ramen noddles in college. Some things aren’t worth revisiting.


4) The Soul Patch a.k.a. “THE HERO”

Pros: Hiro, Phil Jackson, and R. Kelly have been seen sporting it. Why wouldn’t I want to be like them.

Cons: A fictional superhero, a 66 year old man with a bad hip, and “the Urinator” sport this. My wife would never sleep with me again.

A Bit of Good News

In an attempt to be less dreary, I just wanted to quickly post that I’ve been awarded a merit scholarship for my upcoming fall semester at Vermont College.

Yay me!!

What I Believe

I haven’t posted in a while because every time I’ve touched the computer, I’ve wanted to talk about Freeman or the war or something like that. And when I think too much about it, I just end up getting depressed all over again. But it’s been a week since we buried Freeman, and I’ve slowly gotten out of my funk.

Freeman’s service was beautiful. He was represented by not only many Alpha brothers, but by the military as well. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart (among other medals). He was also given a 21 gun salute.

My fraternity also performed what is called an “Omega Service” for him. The ceremony is performed for members that have passed away, and it includes both signing and speaking. I’m by no means a singer, but I’ve never sang as passionately as I did that day.

I don’t like to think of Freeman dying in a war that I don’t agree with, because I don’t want to belittle his life’s worth. I prefer to believe that Freeman died trying to protect the men in his unit. I prefer to believe that Freeman died trying to create a better life for his family. I prefer to believe that Freeman died trying to ensure a people’s freedom, whether or not those being freed will ever understand his great sacrifice.

A Message from Freeman’s Wife

From Kara Gardner, Freeman’s wife:

A memorial fund has been set-up in Freeman’s name for his niece Chanel. It was Freeman’s desire that Chanel go to college and he always wanted to help her make that a reality. I have appreciated receiving flowers, but if you would like you may donate to the Freeman Gardner Memorial Fund in lieu of flowers. You may donate at any US Bank (there are none located in Oklahoma, but they are located in Texas, Arkansas and Washington). Checks should be made out to the Freeman Gardner Memorial Fund and the account number should be used as well (15355-888-5627).

Donations can be mailed to the following address:

US Bank
Attn: Linda
9310 Bridgeport Way SW
Tacoma , WA 98499-1569

Thanks again for all of your support.

NOTE: Additional information can be found at the ZZalphas website.

Not Ready to Play Nice

First of all, thanks to everyone that’s dropped me emails and comments. I really appreciate it.

I’m not really sure if there is a “12 Steps of Grief” list or something like that, but I’ve moved past sadness and am currently rooted in the “I’m Mad as Hell” aka the “F-U George Bush” phase.

I know it’s silly, but I find myself wondering: What if the Democrats were able to make that vote a year ago? What if Kerry had been elected instead of GW? What if Freeman had just been a little to the left or to the right when that bomb went off.

I feel like I’m looking to get into an argument. We’ve got some pretty conservative-minded folks at my office, and I’m almost praying that someone says something about the war. Or about Bush. Or…hell, they could probably start a conversation about toothpaste. I’d still try to find a way to get into an argument about how much Bush has fucked up the Iraq situation.

The Army finally released Freeman’s name today. I read the press release, and was like WTF? That’s it? That’s all you have to say? Fortunately, one of the Seattle TV stations had more on their website (http://www.komotv.com/news/local/6694517.html). My brother also listed some memorial things about Freeman on our alumni fraternity site.

I started to send the link to Freeman’s line brothers (for those of you not familiar with Black Greek-Letter Fraternity talk, that means his pledge class). I kept counting the email addresses, wondering who I was missing. There were eight of them on the line–who could I be forgetting?

Then I realized that the missing one was Freeman. I guess dead men don’t need email addresses.

I’m sure I’ll be more level-headed tomorrow. But for today, it feels a lot better to be angry.