Finding something – anything! – that works

Admittedly this week’s blog is a bit of a mashup because I’m struggling in so many areas right now – writing, teaching, getting in shape, learning jazz piano. Yeah, it’s safe to say that everything is kind of tough. So, before I launch into what I’m doing to fix this disaster in each area of my life, I’ll provide a bit of context.

One: I’m a writer. Sorry, but I still can’t say the word “author” without cringing inside. It always comes out sounding like “Look at ME!” Anyway, I have six books published and most people seem to genuinely like them since I have a lot more reviews than I have friends or relatives. Now, and I mean right now, I’m working on the 7th book, which is the last book in the current Darkwater trilogy. And…I missed my deadline for the first time ever because getting all the plot lines wrapped up while still creating an interesting story is more difficult than I thought.writer-guy

Two: My day gig for the last ten years has been a high school math teacher. Some years are easier than others, and this year has been difficult. I can tell you the most challenging part of teaching math is to take a subject that many of your students actively hate and try to make it interesting. This year that’s been even more of a challenge than usual. This may come as a surprise to many of you, but many times a well-intentioned educational policy can do more harm than good. Chalk it up to the law of unintended consequences.teacher-guy

Three: I went to the doctor this last summer and the paraphrased conversation went something like this:

DOCTOR: “Everything looks good except you’re too fat here take this pill.”pill

ME: “I don’t wanna take that pill.”

DOCTOR: “Well you need to unless you want your arteries to look like the interstates downtown on Friday at five o’clock.”

ME: “What do I have to do to NOT take the pill?”

DOCTOR: “Get down to 175.”

Now, understand that I weighed 174 when I graduated high school. I’m fifty-freaking-five.

Four: My son, Patrick, is an amazing jazz pianist. He’s got the degree, he’s got the chops, he’s got the love. And unfortunately, he has me as a student. No degree. No chops.chopsticks-piano Just love. You should probably pray for him. His teaching gig might be harder than mine.

So, there you have it. Life is unfair and nothing goes well sometimes. My solution? Quite honestly, it amounts to throwing spaghetti at the wall. For writing, it means showing up every day, pounding out a thousand words in the hope that a few hundred of them are worth keeping and going for long walks in the woods when I can’t get the plot to come together. For teaching, it means hunting for an incentive so my students will stay motivated and pay attention in class, even if they’re still not thrilled with the idea of complex numbers. For getting in shape, it means making myself pick up the weights even on those days when I get home from school feeling as wrung out as a dishrag. And for piano, it means taking a step back and admitting I don’t know enough theory yet, to understand the pieces I’m trying to play.


Will any of this work? I have no idea. I’m just throwing spaghetti at the wall in the hopes that something sticks. Lucky for me, though, I have a wife who loves Italian.