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January 16, 2010

Back in college, I once remarked that I couldn’t wait to graduate so I could enjoy free time instead of spending my nights and weekends studying and writing papers.

Looking back, I think that’s probably the single most naive thing I’ve ever said. It may have been true for a year or so, but nowadays, between work and family and dogs and laundry and dishes and bills, free time is a rare commodity that must be guarded ferociously. And even then it’s all too easy to get lost in the day in, day out grind. Things pop up, projects get put on hold, and time flies by.

With Nolan not yet two, and little Lola not yet zero, I know I’ve got some time to go before I can indulge in hobbies and whatnot, but one day they’ll be old enough that I’ll be able to venture out to the garage to tinker, or take them places without keeping one eye open for a meltdown.

What follows is a list of the things I want to do when that day comes.

Get another project car. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years since I sold the Defender. And while I think selling it was the right thing to do, there are times when I miss it, when I miss the zen-like quality of working with my hands. As much as I love writing, it’s an intellectual pursuit, one that recently seems to clog my thoughts more than keep my mind sharp.

And so one day, I’d like to get another project car. At this point, I haven’t even considered make and model, just the idea.

Read more. My reading has fallen off a cliff since Nolan was born. It’s just ridiculously difficult to kick back and lose yourself in a book when you have to keep an eye on a young child to make sure he isn’t chasing dachshunds or trying to throw the baby doll we got him to get him used to the idea of having a baby sister into the fireplace.

Take Nolan to an air show. Man, I loved going to air shows as a kid. I’m sure part of that had to do with the fact that I was totally into airplanes, but even if I hadn’t been, I have a hard time believing I wouldn’t have been anything but floored to see a B-52 come lumbering over the airfield at 500 feet, or feel the ground shake as the Blue Angels roared past. And so even if Nolan doesn’t take on my obsessions (though his love of Hot Wheels is a promising sign), I still want to take him and share that experience, if this time through the lens of a father.

Write another novel. I’ve wanted to write since high school, and in 2003 I buckled down to write a novel, if only to prove to myself that I could. Three and a half years later, I reached the end. Since then, I’ve tried to get the ball rolling on a second, but haven’t managed to make much headway. Between work and Nolan, it’s been hard to build up a good head of steam, and whenever something comes up, writing always seems the first thing to go. Once Lola arrives, I fear my writing time might vanish altogether, or become so infrequent as to be meaningless. Of course, one day they’ll grow up, and when they do I hope to dive back in.

Travel more. Up until Nolan was born, I traveled pretty widely, first with my family and then with Jamie. I’ve been to most of the 50 states at one time or another, been to Europe six times (and my favorite city in the world, Rome, five), and even made it to Japan once. In the two years before Nolan was born, Jamie and I discovered a love of road tripping. And since he’s been born…nothing. It’s just hard to work up the motivation. I mean, traveling with a toddler sounds like a recipe for insanity, and at his age it’s not like he’d remember any trips we’d take him on anyway. And now we have a second on the way. But one day, once they start getting old enough to actually remember vacations, I want to start traveling again. I want them to see what I saw growing up. I want them to have those memories.

Start building models again. I think I was eight when I build my first model aircraft. I can’t remember the circumstances that led to it, but I do remember the model – a North American P-51D Mustang. I’m sure it looked terrible, as most of my early efforts did, but for some reason I stuck with modeling, and over time I got quite good. It’s probably been near on ten years since I last built anything, but lately I’ve felt an urge to take up the hobby again.

Why? I guess I miss working with my hands, but it’s more than that. I work with my brain every day, and when I write, it’s more of the same. Model building engages the intellect, too, but there’s a methodical, zen-like quality to it, one that lets you sort of disconnect while focusing, or perhaps disconnect through focusing, if that makes any sense. Either way, it sounds mighty appealing at this point in my life…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2010 11:55 am

    I hadn’t heard that you have named her Lola. Congratulations! Can totally relate to the ‘read more’ thing. Wedding planning has been all-consuming – started the Cider House Rules…haven’t been able to finish it.

    As for naive…. I remember in college we thought we were very naive high choolers, so I guess it’s a appropriate that now as an adult you feel like you were a naive college student. Glad we became such close friends at the pinnacle of our mutual naivete. đŸ™‚

    Reminder…wedding is is March 14th. Not sure what yours and Jamie’s accommodation plans are..but if you book non-refundable before January 31st at the Hilton Southlake Town Swaure, you get a fantastic rate of $113 a night. It’s a few mins away from the reception and the location of the rehearsal tea. From a price standpoint you’re better off doing that than going through our room block.

    Looking forward to seeing you guys!


  2. William permalink
    May 4, 2010 8:59 pm

    Tree and I took his kids to a air show about a month ago and I highly recommend it.
    Telling two year old Luke that a A-10 Warthog was a fire breathing dragon (because really, it is) made his face light up. You gotta love a kid who’s favorite things are fire, sharks, and dinosaurs.

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