Category Archives: Moving

Rambings about our moving, things related to moving and about moving in general

Organizing my bookshelves

I’ve blogged before about the trials of moving…and while we’re going through a certain amount of those things again, I won’t retread old ground and rehash those trials again. Instead I’ll talk about moving books.

Every time I move, which seems to be far too often, I swear that I’m going to get rid of most of my comics and books. If you’ve ever moved boxes and boxes of books, you know what I’m talking about. At one point in time, I had close to 10,000 comics. Over the last decade, I’ve gotten rid of a bunch of them, replaced some of them with compilations, etc., so that I’m less than that now, though I don’t know exactly how many. It’s still a whole bunch.

As for books, I also can’t give an accurate number except to say that I fill up about five bookshelves, all packed pretty tightly. Comics and books are different in that which comics I had were always pretty important: I mean, it was a big deal that I had a near entire run of the original run of Avengers—yes, I was an Avengers fan before most of the world knew who they were. Books, on the other hand, I just kinda got what I liked or what was recommended to me.

How do I organize them?

That’s a question I only get from other writers. I can’t recall anyone not a writer asking me that—well, maybe some bookstore employees (side note: one job I had during college was working at BOOKLAND, a job I mostly really enjoyed. It was the job I had at graduation and continued to work at until I was getting enough freelance work to quit). As you know, bookstores have meticulous shelving systems…some of my madness may stem from my time there.

So, in no particular order, here are my “sections:”

*Superhero fiction (alpha by author)

*Sci-fi (alpha by author, anthologies at the end. I include Fantasy here because I really don’t read that much fantasy)

*Li-fi (as far as I know, this is my own term, created because—at the time—I felt that the term “sci-fi” was a slam on the genre. It’s now cool to say “sci-fi.” I use Li-fi in reference to Literary Fiction. Alpha by author)

*Southern/Civil War fiction (alpha by author)

*Christian fiction (alpha by author)

*Reference (no particular order)

*Teaching (these are books that I either have because I thought they’d help me as a teacher, or because I got them as a student—books like Norton’s Anthology or any of the number of “readers” out there. Technically they could go in Li-fi…but I keep them separate.)

*Southern culture (no particular order)

*History (chronologically. Generally, I have three main sections: Civil War, WW2, Early American (which emphasizes heavily on Native Americans). Anything that falls outside of these three get shelved chronologically in the group)

*Religious stuff (no particular order. Wide range of stuff in this section, ranging from books on creationism to CS Lewis to angels (Billy Graham has an EXCELLENT book on angels!) to eternity, etc.

*Non-fiction (okay, I know that “history” is non-fiction, but this is stuff that doesn’t exactly fall into MY history section. It includes bios and autobios as well as some odds and ends like a really good book on New Orleans and a good one on the Yakuza.)

*Stuff I don’t know what to do with (yeah, I do have that section. Often it’s books I get as part of an “author-swap” [you know, when a fellow-writer—or myself, for that matter—says “hey, let’s swap books. Here’s mine, let me have yours.”], or when I pick up something a friend as done as a way of support and it falls outside all my other categories. Yeah, this is where it goes.

No, I do NOT have a poetry section. I’m sorry if that offends you.

So there you go…a tiny peek into the madness that is me.

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House = SOLD!

Yes, you read that right = we’ve finally sold the house. After more than a year on the market, we’re no longer paying for a home we don’t live in! And the timing is perfect—all on God’s time, of course—but we’d reached that point where we just couldn’t scrape the money together for two homes and had paid our last note. I wish I could tell you I was independently wealthy enough to afford a home here and a “Mississippi summer home!” ha.

121008-1311-itsbeginnin1.jpg 121008-1311-itsbeginnin2.jpgBut, all with most new chapters in life, there are positives and negatives moving on. We have a lot of really great memories in the home in Oxford. We were there for five good years: Brittany was in the 7th grade and Brett was 2nd grade when we moved in: Brittany had graduated and Brett was starting 8th by the time we moved. Man…talk about changes (just look at the pictures).051713_1825_Youaretheon2.jpg

Brett7thgradeWe went there knowing only the person who hired BJ at the University—which is what took us there. We leave with a host of people we know and love (even those who have the misfortune to cheer for the Mississippi school UpNorth)—and it’s really them we’ll miss the most. Fortunately we live in a day and age of Facebook and Twitter and whatever else, so we’re expecting to stay virtually in touch.

We watched the Hogs rise…and then fall in the sports programs, particularly when it came to playing Ole Maid. Heck, prior to moving there, the football team had won 7 of the last 10 games. While we lived there, we only won 2 out of 5 against the mascot-ly confused Black Bears. Many of the other sports were in similar reversals (all but the Track team—which continued to dominate on a national level). I’m hoping now that I’m gone and can’t watch them live, they’ll start winning again!

060111_0437_Gradumicate4.jpgI started—and finished!—my MFA while there. Was part of a great MFA program at Spalding University and made a lot of very cool writer pals who are doing great writer things today! The novel that was my thesis is making rounds with an agent and I’ve had good comments from those few who’ve read it.

We all witnessed our largest snow ever—a full 10 inches! I know, I know, you folks in the northern climes laugh at that, but for us it was pretty cool (see what I did there?).

Anyway, it’s nice to have closure on the home…and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of memories to create! And, of course, I’ll put a good bunch of them here. As always, thanks for reading.

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Filed under Kids, Moving

Exercising my 2nd Amendment rights

Several months back my family had the honored pleasure to be guests at the Dabbs home outside of Oxford (I’ll have you know the first draft of this blog entry read “weeks”) where we fired automatic weapons and blew up a stuffed duck. My family considers ourselves very fortunate to have the Dabbses as friends. Our path to friendship, though, is an interesting one.

I’ve written before (and here)of the trials of moving and as we get situated here in the Orlando area we’re dealing with those things all over again (yes, we’ll take recommendations for doctors, dentists, whathaveyou in the UCF area). I did find a place to get my hair cut; I use the local Paul Mitchell school…but every few months I’ll have to get a “new” student as they graduate.

We hadn’t been in Oxford long when we had to carry Brett to get to the ER to get a staple in his head. We went to the same doctor for the follow up. Liked him just fine. Shortly thereafter, Brittany got sick and we went to see said doctor except that it was his day off. So we saw the other one, Dr. Dabbs. But as we sat in the waiting room, I started noticing these cool war machine models, particularly one really cool one of a Confederate ironclad! So, while he was examining Brittany, I asked the doc who did all the models and we kicked up a conversation. Over the next year or so we had regular conversations and figured out we had a lot in common; he was even friends with Dean Zachary, a very talented artist who I had the privilege of getting to hire when I was an editor at Malibu and Marvel. Most importantly, we had our faith in common.

When we changed churches we were extremely delighted to find the Dabbs family in attendance. The doc told us he lead a small group so BJ and I decided to attend and we enjoyed every class.

We experienced the Summer of the Superhero together at the theaters and other things that cemented the friendship of the families.

Back to the original point: our visit to the Dabbs compound, as it is situated snuggly in a valley with Lake Dabbs just outside the back door, came to fire some weapons the doc has stored up in anticipation of the zombie apocalypse.

Talk about fun! I’d fired weapons before and I’ve accused BJ of being Annie Oakley (the very “first” time she fired my pistol she outshot me, my father and my mother!), but she had some experience with firing handguns. Brett and Brittany had both fired low caliber rifles. But none of us were quite ready for the fun we had shooting that day.

I’m embarrassed to say that I couldn’t really tell you the different guns we fired, but Brett probably could. There were times when he and the doc were talking about weapons and I thought they were speaking in German!

If you get the opportunity to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights in like fashion, I highly recommend it. The experience will be all the better if you have family friends like the Dabbses to share it with.

(I HAD pictures but can’t locate them–If I do, I’ll add a few)

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Back to brick and mortar

Last week marked my return to an actual brick and mortar classroom for the first time in several years. Oh, I’ve been teaching, but online is very different from a live classroom. And even though I posted about the challenges of online, it was clear to me after only the first day that nothing beats that face to face interaction.

Part of it, I think, is forced engagement. If you know me, you know that I’m going to make every effort to get you involved in my classroom. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer—unless I’m asking a math question—which I would never do—and then I probably don’t know the answer either! You remember what they say about opinions, right? They’re like noses: everyone has one.

That’s why “I don’t know” doesn’t work. When talking about creative writing, you either like it, or you don’t. It either works, or it doesn’t. In a classroom, students can discuss the good and the bad (and sometimes even the ugly) to what’s working and/or why it is or isn’t. Online works hard to mimic that, but much of the onus is on the students; it depends on their level of engagement. I can’t “force” them to be engaged in an online former.

To be fair, because my class falls near the end of the program, all my students are effectively seniors and generally (thus far, anyhow), they’ve been both fairly engaged and motivated. That’s always good for the instructor; their motivation feeds an instructor’s desire to pass on knowledge and to help the students improve.

A colleague here says we like it because “every teacher needs an audience.” While this is funny, I’m not convinced this is true. Maybe for my colleague. 😉

And you’ll note that it’s been nearly a month since my last post. While I won’t bore you with the minutiae (it feels like I’ve been talking about moving for a year or more!), we finally loaded up a Uhaul and moved all our things to Orlando…to a storage area. Yes, we’re still crammed into my efficiency for now. The housing market shocked us some; not so much because of price, but because of how fast houses sell here—I mean these things go in a matter of days! BJ and I aren’t used to making a decision that fast about such a big investment…so we’ve got an apartment lined up while we continue to shop.

AND, in other good news…artwork is beginning to come in from the projects I’m working on—that’s exciting. I’m hoping to post about the first one next week!

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Filed under Moving, Projects

Busy busy

So I haven’t been posting here like I’d like to. I know there are a couple of you out there that actually miss it—and you do my ego good, so thanks. It isn’t that I don’t want to post, it’s just that I’ve barely had the chance to even breathe.

Let me catch you up!

For the last year and a half, I’ve been “commuting” back and forth from Mississippi to Orlando, Florida, where I’m a Creative Writing instructor at Full Sail University. Lots of reasons for the commute, but the main one has been our house in Oxford has yet to sell. Yeah, I know—frustrating. In fact, as I write this, it still hasn’t sold (anyone need a nice house out in the suburbs of the county in Oxford?). But, since Brittany is graduating from high school, we’ve decided to suck it up, make the move, and trust God to take care of it (hope He’s listening right now!).

Still, it’s pretty scary.

I’ve been losing about a day and a half each week of my schedule to travel. Driving is about 12-13 hours (depending on whether I’m traveling east or west…and how many stops I have to make) and I lose about a half day just recuperating. Which means I have to make incredible use of the remaining days. Those of you with families know how challenging that can be sometimes.

Of course, when I can, I squeeze in writing time. I know I promised at the new year that I’d give you some updates—and they’re coming soon, promise. I should have some cool art to show you soon! The other thing is that I just got a top secret graphic novel writing gig—sorry, I can’t talk about it yet even though I want to! I promise I’ll spill the beans when they let me. While that’s great news—it is!—the publisher wants the script YESTERDAY. EEEK!

On top of that, I’m making a move from teaching in the MFA program to the BFA program. I’m excited as anything to be making the shift. Why, you ask? Because I’m getting to teach Writing For Comics and Animation. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT?

Yep, it’s cool…but here’s the downside: the class is running NOW! I’m barely staying one step ahead of the class with lectures. I don’t EVEN want to talk about grading yet. The good news is that come June, the material will be written for the next class that comes in…I’ll have the opportunity to spell check and work out some bugs with the next class…I trust. I just hope this first class, who know they’re the inaugural class, will be forgiving of all the bumps in the road.

So. There it is…in a nutshell. Thanks for sticking with me…I hope to get back to some semblance of “normal” mid-to-late summer.

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Filed under family, General, Kids, Moving

New Caregivers

I’ve written in this space before about some of the trials of moving. We think of kids as having the hardest time, but adults have their share of tribulations as well.

One thing adults have to do after a move is find new caregivers; a new doctor, new dentist, new hairstylist, new mechanic, and so on—you know, the people that you need in order to keep your well-greased machine of life moving along at near speed of sound.

Generally, you ask the people you work with for recommendations. Many moves take you away from families, but some of them take you closer—when that happens, you call on family members to find out where they go and who they use. Regardless, you get recommendations from people you know and most folks will go to a new caregiver based solely on recommendations.

In one move, as I went about trying to establish new relationships with caregivers, I visited a clinic and the receptionist said that because I’d never been there before I was going to have to pay a new customer fee.

I laughed, thinking it was a joke.

The receptionist did NOT laugh and I realized it was not a joke.

Okay–I decided I’d bite–what was the fee for? I just wanted to know. In general, I like knowing what I pay for. The receptionist said she had no idea what the fee was for and that she was simply doing what she was told.

Now, I’ve done my fair share of moving. Since I graduated from college, I’ve moved no fewer than six times in which I had to change all my caregivers (I’ve moved twice again that many times when I didn’t have to change—most of those times the first ten years after I graduated). We never had to pay a “new customer” fee during our other moves. Let me put it this way: if we did, they added it quietly to the bill and we never noticed it.

But I don’t think that’s likely because I usually check a bill over pretty good. Like I said, I like to know where my money is going.

As I walked away still with no answer, my mind raced with other potential random new guy fees: the hairstylist would charge me a new customer fee and then not tell me what the fee covered; Hardee’s might charge an extra $5 the first time I stop in for a meal deal because I’d never been there before; the bank might charge me a higher interest rate because I’d never been a customer before but not really know why they do it; the florist might tack on an extra $50 without reason the first time I walked in the door. I feared that maybe I would be forced to wear a scarlet “N” on my breast pocket so that I would be easily identified as the “new resident.” If so, how long would I be required to wear it?

When I awoke the next day, I was relieved to see that there was no scarlet “N” attached to my shirt and Hardee’s didn’t charge that extra $5. I’ve moved again since then…and I’ve yet to pay a “new guy” fee anywhere else.

Weird, huh?

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New job, Orlando musings

Well, it’s official. I have been offered—and have accepted—a faculty position at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. I will be teaching in the Creative Writing for Entertainment Master’s Program there. The fine line details have yet to be worked out, but needless to say, I’m very excited about it. For the time being, I will commute from my home in Oxford…yes, I did say “commute.” And this out-of-the-box idea was suggested by my future boss. Have I said how cool this program is?

So I don’t know how I can write the next paragraph or two without it sounding like a sales pitch for Full Sail, but what I’m intending it to be is simply my observations of the campus. The FS campus is super-high-tech, for every program: film students get state of the art computers for editing and such, digital design students get same, music students have fully equipped recording studios not just for their school work, but for their personal use (same as for the backlot for film students). Every program has state of the art equipment related to their chosen career. It’s a pricey school…but the upside of that is that every student that is there WANTS to be there (unlike some of the English Composition classes I’ve taught).

So BJ and I got to spend some time in Orlando not just at Full Sail, but driving around the area. The first thing I noticed about Orlando is that the lights are long. I don’t mean the physical shape, but the time it takes to change from one color to the next. That, and they seem to be in love with Toll Roads here. Felt like every time we made a turn, some booth was asking for 50 cents or a dollar. One booth asked for exact change—I had not expected the booth, and so it made me wonder what would happen if I didn’t have exact change (I don’t normally carry change in my pocket—when I come home with it, I usually add it to the “vacation” fund!). Truthfully, I don’t know what would happen.

Orlando reminds me much of L.A., flat and spread out. No, it isn’t nearly as big, but everything seems low to the ground. On one stretch of road there (Semoran), there is a McDonald’s every mile or two. Seriously. There are more Micky D’s in a 10 mile stretch from the airport to the University than in the entire city of Oxford (though the ones in Oxford are horrible—avoid them at all costs!).

BJ and I also decided to go out to Universal one evening. Thought we’d grab a bite to eat and maybe see a movie. No theme park stuff or anything. It costs $15 just to PARK! Lady at the booth said I could stay for 20 minutes and it would only cost $3. So, I don’t remember Universal in California costing anything to park. Granted, that has been some years ago, but we used to go out every now and again to catch a movie, or to eat. I don’t remember it costing to park.

More later, I’m sure.

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