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MFA in Writing at Vermont College

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lessons Learned at McDonalds

I am just about through the birthday gauntlet!

January and February are like a landmine of birthdays for my family.  I have three family members who celebrate birthdays in January and another three in February.  That is six presents, six cards and six family parties in the span of eight weeks.  Coming off the Christmas holiday, this stretch can break even the strongest of birthday party-goers. Add in two weeks of classes in Vermont and I am pretty much exhausted.

So, I admit I pulled a truly bad uncle move this week.  I combined two of these birthdays into one trip.  That is right- I took my two nephews to McDonalds to celebrate their birthdays together.  Hey, it sounded good at the time.  I would get a little nephew-uncle bonding time.  I would give my sister a bit of a break.  I would get two birthdays out of the way.  And I would come across as the fun uncle. 

Now, anyone out there with kids is laughing at me right now.  Because a trip to McDonalds with a four and six year-old is not as easy as it sounds.  Let’s just say I am out of kid shape!  I have muscles that hurt that I never knew existed. 

Here are the lessons learned from my innocent birthday trip to McDonalds:

Houdini would have had a difficult time getting out of a car seat. 
How many buckles do these things have anyways?  And of course one kid can easily undo the seat and jump out of the car while the other is stuck like he’s in a straitjacket.  Kids don’t wait patiently by the car for their brother either.

People go through the drive-thru because they are in a hurry. 
Seriously, it was like Frogger crossing the parking lot.  I don’t even think people slow down at the window, they just speed right through.  It was like Mario Andretti snatching a Happy Meal! 

Kids don’t do well with lines.
                They can’t stand still and have the attention span of a gnat. 

Kids can smell a crappy Happy Meal toy a mile away.
There is no pulling one over on kids.  They may be young but they understand a scam when they see one.

Chicken Nugget is false advertising.
                That wasn’t chicken is all I’m saying.

McDonalds Play Land is about as sanitary as a still pond in the Amazon.
The little kid drooling all over the slide put me over the edge.  I didn’t know this was a water park!  And unlike every mother on this planet… I do not carry hand sanitizer everywhere I go. 

Ice Cream cones are not designed to be eaten over time.
I consider my nephews pretty bright but why they couldn’t figure out that ice cream melts, I have no idea.  And unlike every mother on this planet… I do not carry wet naps everywhere I go.

Kids, for some unknown reason, enjoy screaming.
They enjoy screaming at one another, at other kids, at adults, at mirrors, at slides, at windows, at tables, at milkshakes, at store clerks, at climbing ropes, at ball bins, at ceiling fans, at French fries, at the ketchup stand and at one over-stimulated uncle!

Gobs of dried and crusty ketchup are just gross!
                Do kids dip their fries right on the table?  Seriously?

Kids have worse hearing than old people.
I vote for hearing aids for all kids under the age of eight because they obviously can’t hear the words, “it’s time to go home.”

Kids that can climb twenty feet high through a tiny little slide tube have the upper hand on adults.
                A parent elevator would have come in handy, Mr. Ronald McDonald!

And speaking of Ronald McDonald… he is one creepy dude.
                What is he?  A clown?  I’m not sure what’s going on with that guy.

Video games are melting kids’ minds.
With a huge climbing apparatus, numerous slides, a gigantic tub of balls to crawl in and new Happy Meal toys within arms-reach my nephews only had eyes for the little video game station in the corner.  I would have NASCARed it through the drive-thru, taken the food home and sat on my sister’s couch if I wanted to watch them play video games.  Get outside kids!  Run around!  Be creative! 


Perhaps I should have gone back to school to become a video game designer and not a children’s writer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Flowers, Literary Agents and My Mother

Tom Waits is “big in Japan.”
David Hasselhoff is huge in Germany.

I, however, am big… at the Janesville Rotary Botanical Gardens!

That’s right.  Thanks to the mega-marketing machine called Mom, the employees of the Botanical Garden are discussing my blog while pruning petunias and trimming tulips.  In the span of a week my mother has managed to double my readership.  Check out my newest readers at the below link… and tell them that Jeff sent you… fine tell them that Jeff’s mom sent you!


I have no smooth transition from flowers to literary agents so I won’t even try.  I will just abruptly change topics on you.

I recently read an article that compared finding a literary agent to choosing a marriage partner.  I will admit as I was reading the article I had some trouble with the analogy.  Sure, I get it… if you are going to choose a literary agent to represent your work you need someone you can completely trust, someone you can work with, someone who will guide you and be there through the good times and the bad.  On a very simple platform this analogy works.  However, what if you were a dork?

Let me explain.

Look at this picture of me in high school.  This is me at graduation surrounded by several of my friends.  I am the one in the middle behind everyone.  What do you notice about this picture? Okay… stop it… it was the eighties and we all looked that way back then!

Do you know what I notice?

I notice the fact that I am in the back, behind everyone else.  This is pretty much where I was in every picture back then.  I never liked to stand out. I never wanted to be the center of attention.  I was quiet and shy and comfortable with standing in the background. In other words I was a dork.

You know what else I notice about that picture?  There are no girls around! None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.  In fact, the only picture of me with a girl back then would be if she happened to walk by in the background while the picture was being taken.  Look at the girls in this picture.  I am the farthest thing from their minds. Girls didn’t even know I existed back in high school.  Girls had more lively discussions about the rat in the gym locker room than about me.  You could take the five most popular girls in school and they may not even remember me.  I was not even a blip on their radar screen.  In other words I was a dork!

So to me… finding a literary agent is not like finding a marriage partner.  To me it is more like being back in high school and trying to date the most popular girl in school… the most popular girl in school who doesn’t even know I exist.

Literary agents receive hundreds of manuscripts a day.  They represent big name authors who win flashy awards and actually make money on their books.  They entertain the captain of the football team while everyone else is trying to get their attention.  They are the prom queens of the literary world.

I am once again a dork.  I am in the back trying desperately to be seen, too shy to step from the shadows.

I beg you literary agents… don’t overlook the shy kids in the back.  There might just be someone there who is full of potential and talent.  Someone who is willing to work his tail off to be special.  Someone who will go head over heels for you if given the chance.  Someone who could change your life. 

Give the kid in the back a chance…

… otherwise he will sic his mother on you!



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Calling for a Cream Cheese Hiatus!

After such a long hiatus I must begin this blog by quoting the great philosopher Eminem:

Guess whose back
Back again
Jeff is back
Tell a friend
Guess whose back… Guess whose back… Guess whose back

Oh, it has been such a long time since I have written a blog.  It feels great to be back in the saddle again.  Aerosmith!

Okay… okay I will stop with the musical references.

What have I been doing since my last post you ask?  Let me catch my five readers up on what has been happening in my life.

Finishing my creative thesis
Progress on two manuscripts
A graduate lecture
MFA Graduation
And more work!

That about sums up my time.  But enough of what has happened in the past.  We must move forward.  What lies ahead is what is important, not what is behind.  Carpe Diem… or something like that.

The Jeff Schill blog is back and better than ever.  I am back to regular posts on life, writing, reading or any other ramblings that may pop into my mind. 

In honor of my return I have decided to make a list of things I wish would go on a hiatus much like my blog did.  Here we go.

1)      Lindsay Lohan – seriously, how many times can one person avoid jail time

2)      Emotional Adverbial tags – I said excitedly!

3)      Abraham Lincoln – don’t get me wrong I like him as a president.  I just don’t need to see him slaying vampires or reenacted by Daniel Day Lewis

4)      People who say LOL or OMG during conversation

5)      Spinach – I know it is good for me, but no matter how you cook it… it still tastes terrible

6)      Justin Bieber ‘s white Lamborghini

7)      Cream Cheese – what is it?  It is neither cream nor cheese

8)      Kim Kardashian – while I’m on the whole Hollywood thing, I might as well throw her into the mix as well

9)      Deer Antler Spray – really? Athletes are putting this under their tongue?

10)   The real housewives of Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Basketball Players, Soccer Players and wherever.

11)   Hibiscus shampoo – what is hibiscus anyways?

12)   Snow – I am tired of shoveling and scraping my windshield


I feel much better now that I got that out of my system.  I promise to make this blog a delightful reprieve from all the things that drive us crazy.  Tune in and read… you never know what I will lament on next.