Wednesday, December 10, 2008


December 10th, 2008

10:08 pm

Little Man's asleep. Tucked away in his big boy bed. Dreaming of Bucky. The goldfish he picked out and named today. The reward he got for wearing underwear five straight days and using the potty more often than not. Actually, I guess the kid could be dreaming about any number of things. But I hope he's dreaming of Bucky. He worked hard to get that fish. Was so excited and happy in the pet store. Had nothing but love to give as he sat at the kitchen table hugging the bowl, kissing the glass, as the big-eyed fish swam round its new home.

S.B.'s sleeping too. Today was her rough day at school. Teaching kids that need so much more than an art teacher can give. She fell asleep stretched out on the couch. Her head on my chest. Curly shock of hair tickling my chin as I stared at the television seeing nothing, but feeling so much. Both of us there. Here. Together. Making it. Doing it. Living the best we can. With honesty and respect. Great doses of fun. And I wondered how I ever believed I would be anywhere else, how I could never see how good it would get.

But that's how life is. We cannot truly know until we know.

She was up stretching and yawning half an hour ago.

"I'm going to bed," she said.

"Okay, honey. I'm going to lock up the garage. Get outside and unplug the Christmas lights. Then I think I'll write a while."

We hugged. Said goodnight. And now she's there. Gone away in sleep. Safe and warm under the blankets on this cold December night, while I sit here in the hard chair working away at the keys. Words. Letters. Symbols. Scratching the surface of this something new we've been given to share so that I can begin wrapping my head around it.

I'm going to be a Dad.

I think it. Type it. Say it aloud. But I cannot fully know the importance of this great, weighty thing, until I hold it in my arms.

But that day is a ways off and all we have is the now. One son asleep upstairs. My lovely bride asleep across the hall. And the faint shape of what's to come resting in the depths. Maybe another son. Could be a daughter. But of one thing I am sure. It is made up of hope and heart, hard work and dedication. It is the sum of two imperfect souls striving for perfection in this big wide world that simply keeps on turning. And somehow, everything feels good.

~ K.J.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


December 3rd, 2008

Finished Landscaping. It's been three years in the making. The initial draft and subsequent revisions have been completed for several months. Nearly a year. But the fine tooth combing took a year itself. Now that it is done, put to rest and between the covers, I'm going to leave it sit. On my self-publishing bookshelf at I haven't much faith in the saleability of this book. It's good writing, but the subject matter isn't top notch, as the subject matter is me. My life and the musings that developed as I struggled to settle up north. In the old house near the old church, in the country. It is a personal book filled with journal entries. But, if you are familiar with my work, you know that my journal entries aren't simply journal entries. For some reason, I can't help but dig a little with each word. The title, as you can imagine, suggests the theme of the writing.



land·scape: noun, verb, -scaped, -scap·ing.


a section or expanse of rural scenery, usually extensive, that can be seen from a single viewpoint.

Fine Arts. the category of aesthetic subject matter in which natural scenery is represented.

--verb (used with object)

to improve the appearance of (an area of land, a highway, etc.) as by planting trees, shrubs, or grass, or altering the contours of the ground.

Indeed, the writing is the viewpoint of one man living alone in a rural setting. I tried to paint a picture. Alter contours. Do some landscaping. Show the world for what it is while not losing sight of what we want it to be. To do this, one must go below the surface. Get the fingers dirty. The knees bruised. Work the very earth that he is from and will return to. And by the simple act of digging—going deeper—one is able to improve the appearance of the surface, of the world, he is part of.

Or something like that.

I've never been very good at explaining things. Not formally, anyway. Probably why this book will not be successful. Probably why my other works aren't successful. Because I'm unable to sell my work, my writing, my ideas, they get stuck on self-published bookshelves in stores that do not really exist (,, And I get to write about my writing for no other reason than to hear myself talk. Convince myself that what I'm doing is good and right and important. Even if it is only for me.

I've only done one official book signing. One newspaper interview. And I've only written one novel. First novels are not taken seriously. My short stories, nonfiction and poetry have only been filler or lone bright spots in obscure magazines. But to hell with thinking about it so much. All of it is practice. God knows I need more of that. And maybe if I practiced more I wouldn't be here writing about my writing.

It is the third day of December. The gray cold world, believe it or not, is ripe with possibility. So much out there to find, discover, unravel, make true. It's only a matter of digging for it. Under the dead leaves. Beneath the icy snow. Within the howl of unforgiving winds.

Let's make the most of it. Be thankful for our progress. Mindful of our growth. Focused on the keeping at the keepin' on.

~ K.J.

Monday, December 1, 2008

the good

Light snow. Cold and gray. Standard issue scenery for the first day of December in Michigan. We are bundled up. Preparing for the holidays. Keeping the spirits up. Aware of the bad in this world, but focusing on the good.

I am thankful for much. Aware of more. But aiming on what has got me this far. Hope. Perserverance. Trust. Half of my life is likely over. There's no getting around it. I'm thirty-five. Have a family history of heart problems and cancer. Have done my share of irreprepable harm to parts that are not easily replaced. I don't have health insurance. Savings. Nothing to fall back on. When my number is up, it's up. There won't be any drawn out battles with a terminal disease. There will not be exotic treatments and expensive false hope. It will only be me. Meeting my day. I will accept it, move on into the unknown believing that there's enough of me left to carry on this code of keeping at the keepin' on.

We all have our crutches, I guess. And this writing is my own. It is fiction. It will not last. But doing it makes me feel better. Working at perfecting it makes me feel important. Like I'm making a positive impact upon this world. Much like volunteering, or going to church, or taking foster children into my home. We all have a purpose. Some are not as important to the world as others. Mine is not. I know this. But it is mine and it's all I've ever had and there's no use in giving up now. I like to think there's more to it than me.

Once in a while I get an email. A letter. A card. And I'm always humbled that there are people out there reading what I create. What I'm tuned into. What I've chosen to share. That is the biggest reward. Connecting to others. Complete strangers. Knowing that my words are sometimes weighty enough to stick with them. That maybe they can hear my voice. Feel it. That it makes them think.

I've been thinking a lot these days. The full realization of being a Dad and Hubby sinking in. It's a great responsibility, this family life. I could not have known how hard and difficult, how eye-opening and beautiful it would be had I not taken the plunge. There is much to building a good, solid family. To loving your wife. Your child. To being all you can be for them without losing sight of yourself. It is a great sacrifice. A long journey. There is much to learn. And here I stand. The first day of December. A long, promising journey ahead of me.

I have never wanted anything so much. And now that I have it, I want to do all I can to succeed. To be strong. Faithful. A friend. To guide and be guided. To learn and grow and listen and understand. And it is a lot. More than I ever imagined. It is not simply about trading vows and rings and living in the same house, having kids, paying bills, and sharing accounts. It is about everything. And everything is a lot. I suppose that's why it takes a lifetime to get it right. Why there are tears and laughter. Happiness and sorrow. Doors opening and doors being slammed shut. But in all of it, if there is respect and a mutual desire to grow and evolve, things should be okay.

And being okay is more than I could ever ask for. Especially today. Light snow. Cold and gray. Standard issue scenery for this first December day. Bundling up. Prepping for the holidays. Doing our best to keep spirits up. Aware of the bad in this world. That big old clock ticking away. But focusing on the good.

~ K.J.