My friend and faithful reader, Ann, lashed me with the velvet whip last week on several counts about my cookie-cutter letters . Here is her direct quote: “…I have been unable to find the right moment to say to you, “Get real with your writing”. Life isn’t planting tomatoes, riding a bike and watching winter turn to spring! ALL of us have our moments in life that kick the slats out of our “cribs”. Life is like a hot air balloon: You want it floating up and over the terrain but every once in a while there is a hard landing and maybe tragedy, too.”
I don’t know quite how to respond. She is spot on about too much repetition about lettuce and the bike and the weather and golf, ad nauseum. Point well made. One side might say life is inordinately about mundane daily events; others would argue correspondence is a chance to instruct or take positions on varying topics or let Ellen and Reid in on the inner workings of their dad. I think Ann is right that the pendulum has swung too far in one direction. She really caught my attention.
Change is hard. But I am rethinking the notion of how much information is enough about the uncertainties of work, my personal life, or finances. They know I am a Democrat and cast a wary eye on single agenda zealots. I have strong opinions – and my share of insecurities and weaknesses – about many things. As the kids mature, perhaps the letters should follow suit. Once an exercise to merely keep them occupied during their time in college, my letters ought to adapt to the times to be far more than a rehash of lettuce, bikes, weather and golf.
Ann nudged me to open a door that I have only dared to peek through in the past. It may be time to walk through it.
As it is Wednesday, it is time to reach into the archives with an old letter to Ellen.
July 28, 2004
So now you’re in your new digs and all is hunky-dory. I can’t believe we unloaded everything in one evening and – more or less – got it all situated before we left. That’s so cool. But I was sweating like a sailor at a free dance (to quote your Uncle Ralph) by the time we had everything inside. I hope to ride the bike to Indy sometime in September, so keep a laundry list of smallish stuff I can tote in my saddlebags. I’m still uncomfortable with the lighting at the rear of the place. As the landlord if I can install a motion detector. I’ll pay for it.
It was so nice of the Timster to make the trip down. He’s a pretty good guy and his idea of an iPod was a great idea. But I saw in the paper this morning that all sorts of people have experienced hearing losses because they use their iPods too much. Heck, I lost my hearing the old fashioned way by jacking the car stereo up too loud.
Reid is on his way back from his concert extravaganza and his trip to the lake. He’ll be exhausted. We don’t want to know about everything that went on up there. The less we know the better. As long as it didn’t include drugs, we’re okay with it. If his weiner of a car makes it back, it will be a small victory. We paid through the nose to have that thing prepped for the trip. Heck, we probably shelled out more than the car is worth, easily. Next on the selling block: the van. It’s served its purpose (to move you and your bro’ and all your stuff) and now is the time to get rid of it. Yo’ momma wants something sportier but she’ll have to fight through me to get an SUV. I’ll have none of it.
That sure was a nice surprise party Tim and Afton hosted for you. Hope you were suitably surprised by it. Man, what a scorcher. Good thing the pool was part of it because you guys would’ve wilted like flowers without a way to cool off. There were a fair number of tenants who seemed to be using the pool, too.
Going to take the bike out tonight to Porky’s while your mom goes out to dinner with the girls. All they’ll do is bash men. Same as you and Afton do. I like to see all the other Harleys. The reason lots of people go there is bike envy. They think theirs is the best, although I don’t think there are a ton of other Heritage Softails that are better’n mine. Once the front forks are chromed, watch out baby! It will be the best Hog around.
Tom and Michelle ______ called us at the last minute last night to go to the ValAire for The Little River Band. We couldn’t place their music, but once we heard it, we knew who they were. It was an older crowd and people were really bopping and a-rolling. At $10 a throw, that’s pretty good entertainment. You know when the band is bald that they’ve been around a while. 30 years, to be exact.
Well, back to the salt mines. I like your classroom newsletter, but I’d shift it a bit away from “…I had the kids…” to more of a “…this week the kids really liked…” See you sooner than later!