On Writing and Parenting


The Pitfalls of Political Writing

I’ve had another piece run in Salon. This one is titled: I was poor, but GOP die-hard. Check it out.

The work of publishing so many political pieces made me reflect on the experience. I write a 12-step guide for the uninitiated:

The dozen steps of publishing a Salon article:
1. Two to three weeks: agonize and rewrite.
2. Send to editor, sit on hands for 72 hours praying to gods you don’t believe in.
3. Send a kindly reminder note when you can’t take it anymore.
4. Salon asks for naked pictures of you to go with the piece.
5. Salon piece hits, usually while you are sleeping.
6. First 6 hours: Friends and regular salon readers say nice things and share it. Warm kindness and reason ensue.
7. Get 200 new twitter followers.
8. Hour 7: World Net Daily and other conservative / lunatic sites see the piece and re-post it.
9. lengthy diatribes show up on Salon comment board claiming that you are lying about every single word.
10. someone calls you an asshole on twitter.
11. You get 3 or 4 e-mails that are as long as the original article, some very nice and some beyond insane.
12. The whole thing fades away, and you are left on the roadside naked and bruised, while everyone else has moved on with their lives.

Despite the sometimes painful parts, I’m loving the hell out of it.  Follow my work on Salon.

Salon Runs Another Article, Check It Out

Salon ran a piece I wrote on Cliven Bundy on April 17, which was coincidentally my birthday. This marks the fourth piece I’ve written for Salon AND the fourth piece that generated thousands of likes and shares.  I feel good about the solid response I’ve gotten from writing for Salon.  I can’t understand why, but my first four pieces really hit a nerve.

This latest piece shows the continued fascination people have about one goofy douchebag in a Stetson.  I’m tired of his antics. Read the whole piece below, but the long and short is that this person doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States.  I can’t understand how or why so many right wingers can continue to defend, essentially, a traitor.  Here’s the piece:

Fox News’ demented poster boy: Why angry rancher Cliven Bundy is no patriot: The right’s new fixation: An angry old white man who thinks freedom means not having to follow the law

The latest right-wing media poster-victim, Cliven Bundy, is just the latest in a long line of desert dwellers who thinks he or she should not have to follow the law and has a god-given right to unlimited use of public resources, in this case, rangeland.  I know the mentality well, because I grew up in rural Nevada and clung desperately to such beliefs until only a few years ago … Read the piece on Salon.


The Essays Keep Coming

The hits keep coming following several articles I wrote for Salon.com.  The most recent generated so much controvsesy, I stopped blogging to keep up on twitter, writing follow up articles and some radio interviews.

Most recently, I had my first interview with lunatic right-wing radio. Examining my performance, I think I need more practice on how to handle unapologetic stupidity.  I am a human being in progress. Role/Reboot was kind enough to publish a follow-up essay I wrote about it.

We’ll be updating the web site in the next few months to reflect the essays and media that have been doing lately.  Keep an eye peeled on Salon for a salacious article about sex that is my next piece.


The Book of Mormon the Musical: A Review

I bought the soundtrack for The Book of Mormon on Broadway and listened to it at least twenty times before I was able to see the show.  Despite my intimate knowledge of the songs, I was not prepared for the totality and spectacle of it.  I knew The Book of Mormon would be funny, but I didn’t realize how subversive and intelligent it would be.

For those who don’t know, at 19 years old (or so), young Mormon men are sent as missionaries across the globe for a two year mission to create more Mormons.  The musical follows two particular missionaries as they are dispatched to Uganda.  “Elder” Price is the good looking, slim white boy while “Elder” Cunningham is an odd, not-up-to-par Mormon.  Yes, in real life the Mormon Church labels adolescents as “elders.”  The culture of Mormonism is as much a star of the show as the lead actors.

The musical’s opening number is set in clean, homogenous Salt Lake City but quickly moves to a violent and dangerous territory of Uganda.  Once there, the two lead characters meet with other missionaries who are all working to convert the locals.

It’s a simplified plot, leaving plenty of room to explore poverty, homosexuality, and faith. At the center of the missionaries struggle is a debilitating kind of naïveté. Continue reading

The “Mom” Problem in Creative Nonfiction

Bleed, the literary blog at Jaded Ibis Press, picked up my craft piece about creative nonfiction.  I am very pleased with this one.  Go check it out:

The “Mom” Problem in Creative Nonfiction

“If we knew you were going to be a writer, we’d have been better parents.” Parents say this to a young woman in a comic strip punch line.

In creative nonfiction, just like in life, the best advice is don’t hold back. Sit at the keyboard and let it all go, the hate, rage, self doubt and frustration. Sometimes lust works too. Pound it all into the keyboard from the flaming ends of your fingertips, and tie it all together with some self reflection. Then for god’s sake spend some time revising the damn thing — Read the Entire piece

Warning: Introspective, writerly, year-end shit

Here at the end of 2013, I have to examine what has been a pretty prolific writing year for me, topped off with an article I wrote for Salon.  That piece has gone viral and continues to dominate my time.  I didn’t see it coming, but it’s a great finish to the year.

The lesson I put in play this year is that writing should not be some self-congratulatory, yank fest (aside from this blog post).  Rather, writing should be about giving the reader something.  Sure you can’t even start the process if you don’t have some need or reason to do it, but you also can’t just write for yourself—and hope to publish. Continue reading

A Christmas Cluster

It seems like Christmas is a great time to examine family culture. Just about every December 25, I get inspired to talk about it.  This piece ran on the Good Men Project go check it out there.

A Christmas Cluster

Before my divorce, I had a long line of Christmas musts: Right tree, plenty of gifts, fireplace stockings and nothing could be missed. But Christmas would never be the same for me after my first wife left in 2003, and I’m so much better off for it.

I had custody of my kids after the divorce, but we shared Christmas, on a year-on, year-off basis. I spent several sad years in a dark house, unshaven and feeling sorry for myself, drinking eggnog or cheep beer. Depression was my Christmas staple when I didn’t have the kids.

Then I remarried, and my second wife, Joy, put a hard stop to the despair-filled rooms.  We spent our first Christmas together without kids at a Reno casino, playing blackjack and eating a ten-dollar prime rib dinner. It was the best Christmas I can ever remember as an adult, and it was the first moment for me in a long process of rethinking the holiday … Read the whole thing here …


A Call to Feminist Dudes

I got a lot of great feedback on this piece, posted to the Good Men Project just a few weeks ago.  Totally worth re-posting here.

A Call to Feminist Dudes

In the years before I embraced feminism, I called myself a “masculinist,” mostly because I was pissed off about an unpleasant divorce. About six or seven years ago I adopted the feminist label, and now that I’ve been part of the club a while, I’ve started to feel lonely.

Feminism can and should be a big tent, but it’s been derided and reduced to a caricature. I suspect that some men feel feminism doesn’t square with the masculine “personality.” It’s a shame. I know lots of men who would never claim to be feminist but yet still believe in sexual equality, equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity for our daughters, wives, and mothers. I never realized I was a feminist until my current wife pointed it out in passing … Read the Whole Piece Here.

The Problem of “Men’s Rights” and Child Support

I got a lot of heat over the article (below) from a lot of men who think that child support is “unfair.”  I’ll have to address this question again, I think, but one thing is for sure, men feel mistreated in family court (I know I did).  The bottom line seems to be that divorce ALWAYS sucks, especially when you have kids.  Read the whole article at the Good Men Project:

The Problem of “Men’s Rights” and Child Support

When I first got divorced in 2003, I looked for support from many traditional men’s rights groups. You can find them with a simple web search, and there are dozens that focus on the problems of men and family court. Even a cursory glance will give you a good idea of the common themes, issues like shared parenting, parental alienation syndrome and visitation after divorce. I am extremely sympathetic to many of the issues listed, but one of the biggest complaints of “traditional” men’s groups I think is nonsense: The issue of child support.

Divorce forums are full of men complaining about child support. I understand that it’s a burden. The debt can’t be discharged and you can get thrown in the slammer if you don’t pay, and losing a job is a big problem. However, it’s more troubling that so many children live in poverty following divorce. According to the latest census report, 29% of children living with a single parent lived in poverty (versus 19% of from all other households) — Read the whole piece!

Raising Secular Kids In A Religious World

As featured on the Good Men Project:

As an atheist father of five I have some perspective on raising secular kids.  In my small circle of secular friends, I’m an oddity with my oversized family.  I’m often confused for a Mormon in my mountain west community, overrun as it is with members of the LDS religion. The idea that atheists or secular Americans should—or even can—raise children religiously “neutral” ignores the raging tempest of religious compulsion that is everyday America.

Contrary to what critics might think, I avoid talking about religion as much as possible with my young children. I would rather they were not confronted with such complex and emotional topics until they are a little older, but I’m completely unable to shield them Read entire article at Good Men Project.


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