(Sunday Paper, Volume II, Issue 52)
Last year I enjoyed the interaction of a question-and-answer post so much that I immediately decided it should become a year-end tradition for the (new) Sunday Paper.
And thanks to many of you fine folks, we have enough questions to play off of that we officially have an annual event.
Next year I'll remember to start soliciting questions sooner...I was worried there for a bit.
Let's get started.
First of all, let me begin by saying that I am so appreciative that anyone reads this weekly writing exercise of mine. I'd be writing the Sunday Paper anyway to exercise the ol' brain, but the fact that anyone actually reads it makes it that much more enjoyable for me.
And the fact that I say, 'Hey, it would be fun for you to throw out some questions that I can play off of and answer in a year-end post,' and then people actually do it...that makes me so darn happy that you wouldn't even believe it. (I won't get into how sad it makes me for those of you who don't do it. We'll save that for another post.)
Last year all of the topics were Christmas-themed, since the Sunday Paper went live on Christmas Day. This year, it's only Christmas Eve, so everything is day-before-Christmas-themed.
I'm just kidding. Just trying to set the tone for the responses here.
They're just regular-old questions.
OK. Here we go.
Susan weighed in with this question:
What's your favorite setting for writing? (Time of day? Location? What music is playing? Wearing your lucky Mets cap?): Hoo-boy. We're really jumping into it here, aren't we. I'm not sure Susan realized she was asking such a loaded question, but if she's trying to get at what the best setting is for me as I write a best-seller THAT ISN'T HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, SUSAN. DID KATHY TELL YOU TO ASK THIS? The truth is, when I sat down to write a book after I left teaching it turned out that working in the library was my best routine and where I did my most focused work. But the creative juices haven't been flowing and I would like to get back to trying a book in the new year but I'm not sure the library is an effective work space for me anymore. (I know this wasn't the aim of the original question but it's something I've been thinking about and figure I might as well write it here so it's in writing and I can remember this is what I intended to do.)
Answering the question for real, though...right now whenever I get a creative urge to write something I try to write it immediately. So if the girls are home from school it's on the couch or wherever I can grab a free second. (I'm writing this sitting on the bench at dance while the girls finish up their dance classes.) The great thing about this year is that I've been working more than I have in my three prior years of not-teaching. And when I'm home working on those days my most productive spot is the dining room table. I'm not a big music-playing-while-I'm-writing guy. In between projects (or while I'm fixing lunch or taking a break to go for a walk or something) I'll usually listen to a podcast. In my mind I'd love to be a wake-up-early-and-write type of guy, but I've been having trouble waking up to my alarm these days. I think it's because I've also going out more for comedy and that just means the nights are later. This is all really good and closer to where I'd hoped to be when I left teaching three years ago...it's just I'm constantly evolving as far as figuring out what's the best routine and I appreciate that you asked this question because I'm always thinking about what's best for me as a writer.
And I don't have a lucky Mets cap, Susan. That's just stupid. In fact, I find it a little insulting that you would ask that question as though I would be superstitious enough to have a lucky Mets hat.
IT'S A LUCKY METS T-SHIRT. And I only wear it while watching games and not to write. Get it right.
Elizabeth has the next question.
What's your favorite font?: Elizabeth is my cousin and is one of my most faithful readers and for that I will be forever grateful. And had she asked this question a decade ago I would have said 'comic sans' back when I never saw it used by anyone and I thought I was so original and then EVERYONE started using it. So I'm hesitant to tell everyone what font I went to next because I am clearly a font trend-setter and if I declare my favorite in such a public setting everyone will jump on its bandwagon and then it will become an over-used font and I'll have to find a new one. But because Elizabeth has been so good to me I will answer her question.
Joel has the next flurry of questions:
What's your favorite food to eat: with/without kids, to make yourself, eat at a restaurant. Also, favorite activity to do with Kathy and each of the girls?: All of these questions, by the way, are exactly the types of questions I was hoping people would ask. These are great. Thank you. Let's tackle these one-by-one:
Favorite food with kids: We have two kind of picky eaters and one who will eat whatever. And when I make fettuccine Alfredo everyone is happy and it's a pleasure to see the girls eat it so let's go with that.
Favorite food without kids: They all dislike eggplant, so maybe an eggplant dish. Eggplant parm.
Favorite food to make yourself: Funny I picked eggplant in the previous question because I am not good at making it myself. I depend on Kathy to do that, so my choice here will be different. You know what? Almost every morning I'll have eggs sunny side up and an English muffin and I friggin' love it. Sometimes I go to sleep thinking about waking up and having that for breakfast. So that's probably my favorite food to make myself.
Favorite food to eat at a restaurant: Man. This is my weak spot. I could spend all day with a menu and not be able to make a selection. So what I have tended to do lately is pick the first thing that jumps out at me. And that's generally something with avocado or lobster or shrimp. Although I am also a sucker for a good bacon cheeseburger.
Haha. I just realized all of these questions from Joel are like the equivalent of when a kid is pestering a parent and the parent gives them busy work to get the kids out of their hair. I asked for questions so many times that I just broke him down and he threw out all these questions to shut me up. But I'm going to continue answering them:
Favorite activity to do with Kathy and each of the girls: A couple of years ago - probably my last year teaching - since I was with all three girls together all summer long we designated a 'Day With Dad' for each of the three girls and we did an activity one-on-one. My oldest and I went to a historical site in Lexington and it was a blast - she loves history and museums so a historical activity for the oldest. The middle daughter is pretty much up for anything so she's likely the one I could do an activity with that the others wouldn't be interested in. Like an amusement park. She'd be so down with going to an amusement park. (The only problem is I hate amusement parks.) And my youngest? We used to go to the supermarket together on Thursdays - her day care off day back in her preschool days. That was a blast. So definitely the supermarket with her.
And - sappy alert - any activity is great with Kathy. Baseball game, quick dinner date, movies, Broadway show, it doesn't matter. Even a trip to Target. I'm pretty lucky because whenever we end up doing something together without the kids I think about how much I always enjoy her company and look forward to doing so for many more years.
* * * *
OK. I'm back from the bathroom. I asked Kathy to watch my keyboard for a minute. Anything weird happen? No? Good. Let's move on. (This is a dumb joke, by the way. Of course I meant every word I wrote up there.)
This last question, from John, is a long one but a thought-provoking one:
Most memorable hypocritical moment of 2017...i.e. "Don't do that," knowing full well that it is something you always do, or have done in the past and enjoyed but realize might not be totally safe and may raise red flags when you show up in the ER: First of all, this question makes me think that I did something that John became aware of and he's kind of teasing me about it here. But I don't think so. Secondly, I'm wondering what his answer would be here because this has to be a question you ask because you were forced to answer it in your own life. Thirdly, my answer:
I guess I'm at my most hypocritical on the road. But it's never super-dangerous. I'll get mad at someone for doing something on the road and then I'll catch myself doing the exact same thing - like getting upset with someone not using a turn signal and then later driving in that same spot and realizing, "Oh, I never use a turn signal at this corner." And there's definitely more and more parenting situations where I need to allow myself to allow the girls more freedoms...and I am certainly a hypocrite when it comes to screen time. But I don't think there's anything dangerous here...although I suppose I'm a bit hypocritical when it comes to health. I'll tell someone else "You'd better get that checked out," but that's hardly ever an option when it comes to my own health. So, I guess no memorable definitive hypocritical moment of 2017 (maybe picking the Jets in Week 10 knowing full well they were going to disappoint me when I would have told anyone, "Don't pick the Jets!").
I guess that's it - oh wait, there was one more question on the Facebook page that I guess I shouldn't ignore. Rob wrote this:
Hey John, will you please hurry up and grow the handlebar mustache you've been promising? (And would you please pronounce it "moo-STASH"?)
Since most of these are serious questions that allow me to get funny in the answers and Rob has clearly taken all of the funny for himself with this question I'll just give a straight answer: No. (As an aside, I forgot I briefly grew a beard last winter around this time. I don't think I'll do any facial hair this year.)
Thanks to everyone who took the time to throw me a question and help me get this post in. If you didn't - start thinking of one for the end of 2018! And speaking of contributing, if you have any answers to the questions above, throw them in the comments below or on the Facebook page. I love the interaction this post affords.
Thanks for reading. If Christmas is your thing I hope you have a Merry one, and I'll be back one more time in 2017 with an end-of-year post next week.