I Didn’t Die From Writing a Post About a Book I’m in Called ‘But Did You Die?’

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I’m just not good at some stuff.

Some stuff you know about. You know, portion control and getting my hair cut at regular intervals. Okay, and there’s that keeping-your-car-clean thing, too. I’m also not good at promoting a book that I have a small part in.

And it’s a book an author who knows her way around the New York Times best-seller list has compiled, with a ton of marquee names.

The book is But Did You Die: Setting the Parenting Bar Low, and it features names many of you know. Jen Mann of the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat has compiled a series of New York Times Best Sellers in the series I Just Want to Pee Alone.

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Seeing the World Through Grrs and Greats

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Some ideas are so great it’s great to use them more than once.

(Using the same word in the same sentence twice isn’t a great idea. Oops. I did it again.) Think about some great ideas in history. Playing football on Thanksgiving? Great. Let’s do it again. The beautiful and comedic Elizabeth Banks on a real estate commercial?

Yes, great.

You can’t have greats without grrs, however. A grr is … playing football in a stadium like Heinz Field in Pittsburg, where it’s impossible to kick a field goal on one end. Ever. Or … persistent ads on Pandora for problems of men my age.

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#AtoZChallenge: Z is for the Zen in Building Chances

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Man – sometimes the shots just don’t fall.

ZI mean the shots, tactically (as in soccer) and philosophically (as in life) – and this is coming from a dude who sometimes sits and thinks. It can be a bombed test you studied for or the girl who says no (even when you stand up straight and comb your hair).

You might not get that handful of Skittles or promotion at work or the C- to raise you GPA (was that just me?), but in the building those chances, well, there’s a Zen to be found.

Zen (the term) gets as much overuse as Beethoven’s music in TV ads for toilet paper. It’s in those perfect moments, with full bellies and full beer mugs, in 70-degree bliss, bills paid and the trash out at the curb. It’s a good book and a better glass of wine, right? Zen.

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#AtoZChallenge: X is for Xenogenous

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I love women.

XLet me rephrase that. I love the female spirit. I mean, yeah, I love Elizabeth Banks and Kesha and also that woman who plays Jack’s wife in the Jack in the Box commercials, but I am also an appreciator of the work and substance of woman.

X is for xenogenous, which means, of an outside cause.

Writing on courage – that’s what I’d like to do now, and I’ve considered spelling courage X-C-O-U-R-A-G-E so I can get down to it. Instead, I’ve chosen an X word – xenogenous – which I bet no one else has, and I’ll use it like a rebound romance to get to where I want.

My status as a man means that I must appreciate the courage of a woman from a xenogenous perspective. (see what I did there?)

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#AtoZChallenge: W is for What Fatherhood Did

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You guys, I’m not usually this ultra-focused.

WYes, there are moments during the World Cup, or when I’m picking out cheese at the grocery store. In the past few days, fatherhood – and parenthood – have hunkered down, front and center, in most of my thoughts. And writing.

Fatherhood did many things for me.

Do you know Dana Schwartz? She’s a terrific writer who posted about how motherhood obliterated her. Such poignant words, such a vast feeling. Beautifully honest. How utterly unprepared we are at this parenting game.

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#AtoZChallenge: V is for Vague Differences Between Protecting and Sheltering

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I might be prone to excessive examination at times.

VEspecially when it comes to the philosophical, or soccer, or cheese. So many moments as a dad, acting in the moment and considering the impact later, at night, when I should be writing or sleeping or at least eating graham crackers.

Who am I kidding? I’m eating graham crackers anyway.

As I vacillate between the college kid soccer girl and the high school soccer girl and the budding musician/soccer girl, happy to have spots in their worlds, I think about how I parent, vague (or subtle?) differences in what we do.

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#AtoZChallenge: U is for Unconventional Loves

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I’d wanted to write, during this A to Z Challenge, about my girls’ stuffed animals.

UAll three have one that has meant something to them over the years. Haven’t we all? I had a stuffed dog I found in a park when I was a boy. I named him … boy. I loved him until he fell apart.

One of my girls loved a German Shepherd, so big she could use him as a pillow.

Another slept with a bear named Daddy. I last saw him tucked behind her headboard. Unceremoniously. A third girl kept a rasta monkey I won her at her bedside. I scrapped the idea, although to read the first four paragraphs here, you wouldn’t know it, right?

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#AtoZChallenge: N is for the New Plan

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What do you think of those Facebook memories things?

NCrazy, right? The damn site looks back at what you posted a year ago. It’s like finding a stormtrooper figure in the pocket of shorts you haven’t worn since last summer. Or, something. (This happened to me last week, I confess.)

Depending on the user and the posts, they’re also a peek into our former selves – or current selves, if we’re still in the same currents.

Spring’s often been a time of loss for me, and only sometimes could I blame another slow start from my beloved Rockies. (Who are in first place at the time of this hacking, I might add.)  It’s also, then, a time of renewal, right? If we’re looking with a positive light?

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#AtoZChallenge: H is for Halfway There

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Three girls, three schools.

HThree cities, technically. And all three play soccer in three different towns, too, sprawled from the Appalachian Mountains to the Carolinas Piedmont. I’m in halfway through it all, one daughter engaged, another a budding star in high school and club soccer.

The third – who knows what limits she’ll push, in a greenhouse or on stage or with a ball at her feet.

It gives the illusion of my importance in being halfway there. I’m not lifting my youngest to my shoulders for a ride, but not yet ready to give away my oldest to her future groom. Take your time, I urged them the day they showed us the ring. Take your time.

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#AtoZChallenge: E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind

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If only it was only eight.

EIt’s eight – times something. Eighty? Eight thousand? Eighty-eight thousand? That depends on if you count car keys and wallet as two things, left behind regularly, or one for every time. I wouldn’t want to do that math.

If God had a cosmic lost-and-found bin, even The Great I Am would assess me a storage fee.

I’ll forego listing the plastic dinosaurs I buried beside my house just before dad put on a sidewalk, or the UNC Charlotte sweatshirt left on the bus in Louisville. Same, too, for the stormtrooper Tervis, the actual stormtrooper from my youth, a few tons of innocence …

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