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MFA in Writing at Vermont College

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One Shining Moment

Tomorrow tips off the greatest two days of the year. Thirty-two basketball games in forty-eight hours! And I plan to watch them all.  

The ball is tipped
and there you are
you're running for your life
you're a shooting star
And all the years
no one knows
just how hard you worked
but now it shows...
One Shining Moment, it's all on the line
One Shining Moment, there frozen in time

But time is short
and the road is long
in the blinking of an eye
ah that moment's gone
And when it's done
win or lose
you always did your best
because inside you knew...
One Shining Moment, you reached deep inside
One Shining Moment, you knew you were alive

Feel the beat of your heart
feel the wind in your face
it's more than a contest
it's more than a race...

And when it's done
win or lose
you always did your best
because inside you knew...
One Shining Moment, you reached for the sky
One Shining Moment, you knew
One Shining Moment, you were willing to try
One Shining Moment, you knew
One Shining Moment...

David Barrett
For many years this song has been the anthem for March Madness basketball. It is played at the end of the NCAA Championship game when only 1 of the 64 teams that started the tournament is still standing. 

As a kid I would sing this song in my driveway while shooting free throws.  I would lie in bed humming these verses and dreaming of pulling up for the winning jumper from the right wing.  I would say these words to myself before practice to remind me that if I worked hard enough then maybe… just maybe… my One Shining Moment would come true.

But now as I read these words they take on a different meaning. It is no longer hitting the winning jumper of the NCAA tournament that I dream of.  Now, my Shining Moment consists of those times when the story begins to unfold on the page.  When the characters of my stories come alive in my head.  When the pictures in my mind and the words on the page converge in a magical moment. 

Here's to all of our Shining Moments… whatever they may be.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I think it's about time we talk Pirates!

Yes, Pirates.  A blog is not complete until you discuss pirates.

This past weekend my wife and I went to see the Real Pirates exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  My wife would not allow me to dress in my seaworthy garb and floppy hat in order to get in for half price so I had to fork out full admission.  But she could not stop me from saying "Aye Matey!" to everyone at the exhibit. 

Seriously, what is better than a good pirate story?

High Sea adventure!

Buried Treasure!

Heroines in distress!

Okay, okay… talking like a pirate is better!

Blimey! You landlubbing Sea Dog.  You’ll be sleeping with the fishes in Davey Jones’ Locker if ya don’t agree.

What did I find the most interesting part of the exhibit you ask?

Well, I did laugh hysterically every time I saw the word Poop Deck and booty!  But I must admit that these certain hilarities were not the highlight of the day.  That honor goes to walking the plank.

Can you imagine?  There you are standing on the edge of a long board dangling above the ocean - miles from the nearest landfall.  Behind you stands a pack of snarling pirates with sharpened cutlasses ready to carve you to pieces.  In front of you nothing but rough water, circling fins and near certain death.

Do you turn back and take your chances against an army of angry pirates out for blood… or do you jump in the ocean and face a school of hungry sharks.

On second thought I can relate quite well to this dilemma. 

In fact, for the past several weeks you could say I have been standing on the edge of my own plank. Behind me are the snarling faces of doubt.  Evil, angry faces telling me to come back to the ship so they can tear me to shreds.  Who do you think you are trying to send out a manuscript?  You're no writer!  You're just a bilge-sucking swab!

Ahead of me circles the fins of the publishing world.  Shiver me timbers!  I can’t even see land.  I’m just supposed to jump in the frothy waves hoping that they drag me to shore.  I’m certain shark bait here.  Dead men tell no tales!

Oh, to be sitting on the Poop Deck with a nice booty by my side!

What to choose?  Crawl back to the ship to be carved by doubt or jump and be swallowed by the ravaging waters of publishing! 

It has come time for action.  I can’t stand on the plank forever.  I must make a decision.

Tonight I chose the water! 


Stay tuned to see if I survive. 









Saturday, March 2, 2013

Getting Old

I am officially old.

I came to the conclusion today.  It did not hit me all at once of course.  It is simply a combination of recent events that has led me to this conclusion.  Let me recap my week.

ESPN did a story about Barry Larkin’s son who is the star point guard on this year’s University of Miami basketball team.  Now if you are not a sports fan this may not mean much to you.  But I remember arguing with my brother about this new rookie shortstop for the Reds named, Barry Larkin.  My brother thought he was a sure All Star; I was not convinced.  I just looked it up… that conversation took place 27 years ago!


I pulled an oblique shoveling this week.  Seriously, my side feels as if it went ten rounds with Mike Tyson.  It is throbbing as if it's been peppered by right jabs.  Let me repeat… I hurt myself shoveling. What’s next...pulling a hammy while golfing?  Man, am I old.


My sister sent me this really cool skit of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake doing a take on The History of Rap.  The thing is… I knew all of the songs in the skit.  Every single one!  It was THE HISTORY OF RAP and I knew every single song.  I am as old as Rap!


I play basketball on Saturday mornings in a Men’s league.  The High School season is over so many of the guys brought their teenage sons to play with us this week.  Thinking of myself as spry, I stepped up to guard these young whippersnappers.  Ten minutes later I was sucking wind, my back was twisting into knots, and I had given up a triple double!


I went out to dinner this week at 4:30 in the afternoon.  I was the only one under 80 in the place.


But what really put me over the edge was a conversation on the radio as I drove home from work.  The fact that I was listening to talk radio should have been signal enough that I was old. But it was the conversation on the radio that opened my eyes to how the years have passed me by.  They were discussing how the Los Angeles Times announced this week that they were cutting back on their newspaper coverage and cutting out the box scores in the sports page.  Their reasoning was that most people get their news through the internet these days and this made box scores obsolete.  What?  Wait a second… I used to spend hours as a kid reading over the box scores in the paper.  I used to love sitting there and letting the games play out in my mind as I read the stats.  I didn’t need ESPN or YouTube or Bleacher Report.  I had an imagination.


I can’t believe that kids today have no need for the box scores.  What do they do while eating their Pop tarts and getting ready for school in the morning?  Am I that much of a dinosaur that I like the feel of a newspaper in my hand?  Am I that old that I prefer to let the games play out in my mind instead of seeing hyped up replays flash across the screen at a techno pace? 


How did I get so old?

It is 8:30 pm on a Saturday night, I am tired and I am going to bed to ponder this very thought!