Friday, January 15

Journal In A Jar - Part 4: 'Pants Optional.'

"Would You Choose Differently If You Could Choose Your Occupation Again? Why? How? Any Advice?"

I can honestly say that I've never actively chosen any occupation that I've ever had in my entire life. Every single employment opportunity that has befallen me has been due to sheer luck or happenstance. Even in circumstances where I have been promoted, it still seemed out of my hands for some reason.

Any odd jobs and part-time work that I had before graduating from High School was solely at the insistence of my mother (cutting grass, hardware store, etc.). From there, I was hired into my current office at random (during a hiring freeze, I might add), promoted by my supervisor into a new position without even being consulted on the matter, and eventually settling into my current position after a slew of retirements and shifting. I've been there for six years and counting.

I've been collecting paychecks since I was 16 years old, and I've never had a hand in choosing the work that I did. Ever. Not once. I have yet to determine if this is unfathomably sad, or amazingly rare. And no, 'freelance writer' doesn't count, as I didn't even realize that I had a small business on my hands until two months after my first book came out. I consider that a happy accident.

The above photo is a shot of me at the hardware store with my boss (he could put out fires with his mustache). This was taken for a local farming magazine that year, and when I got the copy in the mail, I saw that my entire body had been Photoshopped over with a picture of the owner. This outtake photo that was given to me is pretty much the only proof that I ever worked there at all.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend. For more information about Journal In A Jar, click here.

Thursday, January 14

Journal In A Jar - Part 3: 'Charlene.'

"What Instrument Do You Play Or Wish You Could Play? Why?"

The instrument I do play is the drums. I've been a drummer since March of 1994, when I saw Green Day perform 'Basket Case' on The Late Show With David Letterman. Not many people can pinpoint 'turning points' in their lives, but that was a huge one for me; less than a week later, I was the proud owner of a vintage kit that was better off in a museum than in my bedroom. Honestly, I don't know where this drum set came from; I think it once belonged to Buddy Rich.

From 1994 to 1995, I played religiously and even took lessons, but things got expensive and I started paying more attention to girls, so I sold the drums and music took a backseat for awhile. It wasn't until 1998 or 1999 when I picked up the sticks again; my friends were starting to noodle around on guitars and they needed a percussionist with which to play Green Day covers in backyards all across the village of Winneconne. I was the man for the job.

From 1998 to 2002, drumming was my main gig, as I was now in a real band, with real songs and real fans. When the band called it quits in 2002, I laid off for good. I only now play as a hobby (My main kit is in the basement; I have an electronic kit in my Rumpus Room that I can play without the cops showing up).

Through it all, however, I always wanted to play guitar. I wanted to be the frontman; I was already writing the songs, why not sing them, too? With the exception of Phil Collins and Genesis, no successful band featured a singing drummer. Due to circumstance, though, that has so far never happened. I'm a lefty, I'm too impatient to understand chords, my fingers are small and my attention span is waning by the minute. Maybe someday I'll take the time to master the six-string, but until then, I'll have to stick to Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I have a guitar that I mess around on from time to time, but nothing beyond a few chord progressions here and there.

Will I ever play on stage with a band again? Perhaps. I'm not in the market for a band right now, but I wouldn't rule it out. They were fun times.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. For more information about Journal In A Jar, click here.

Wednesday, January 13

Journal In A Jar - Part 2: 'The Hole To Hell.'

"Describe A Favorite Childhood Friend, And Some Things You Did With Him Or Her."

When I was a kid, it's safe to assume that my best friend was my cousin, Scott. We had one of those relationships where we read each others' mind; could crack each other up just by looking at each other. We made each other funnier; our ideas were better when we worked on them together. Our projects and aspirations legendary in our own minds. We spoke our own language; invented our own slang. Created a world that was isolated, yet contained pretty much everything that made me happy at the time.

I was never more creative than when I worked on something with Scott. We wrote songs. Acted out sketches. Recorded ourselves announcing baseball and football games. We would play basketball until it was pitch-black outside. It was always 100%, and it was never work or forced, because it was always fun as hell. We did this for over a decade until the rigors of impending adulthood forced us out of our cocoons and into the real world. I still miss it sometimes.

One of my earliest memories of myself and Scott was when we were small children, playing in my sandbox in the backyard of my first house. The sandbox in question was an old tractor tire that had been filled with no more than 18 inches of sand. It was on this day that me and Scott decided that we were going to dig our way to Hell. That's right; we were going to be the first humans in recorded history to actually dig a hole so deep that it would pop us straight through to the center of the Earth. A place where, as Catholics, we believed Hell was.

Digging was easy at first; we used an old Tupperware cup to do most of the dirty work. The trouble started once we reached the 18-inch line: we were now through the sand, digging into the soil of my backyard. The soil was black; our town had a ton of bedrock that more or less forced you to use dynamite if you wanted to put a basement in your home. The hole at this point couldn't have been more than two feet deep and 6 inches wide.

I stuck my hand inside of it to check the temperature.

"It's getting hot!" I shouted gleefully. "We're almost there!"

Scott's on the left, I'm on the right. Unfortunately, we never made it to Hell.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. For more information on Journal In A Jar, click here.

Tuesday, January 12

Journal In A Jar - Part 1: 'Introduction.'

I'm lucky enough to have a mom that proudly supports my writing. At every turn, she's always trying to find ways to motivate, inspire and push me towards whatever goal I happen to be shooting for at any given time. Even if these attempts fail (and they usually do), I always know that mom's got my back.

So, I was flattered but not surprised to receive such a cool Christmas present from her: A Journal In A Jar (see photo). Essentially, it's a pimped-out notebook and mason jar full of hundreds of slips of paper. Each slip contains a little question or idea that you'd write about in the journal on that given day. The idea here is to keep your writing chops sharp, so by the end of the year, the jar is empty and the journal is full. Super neat, and something I wanted to try.

Over the next few months, I'm trying to stay hard at work on my next book. However, I don't want the CDP to suffer and wane in my absence, so I'm going to pull double-duty and publish my Journal In A Jar entries here for the world to see in the interim. This way, I get to keep working on the book while also staying sharp, putting up new CDP content and hopefully entertaining in the process. Win-win? We'll see.

A word of warning, however. My Journal In A Jar entries will be just that: Journal Entries. Don't expect exceedingly well-thought-out essays (as if you ever do); it'll probably be more raw than that. Just something interesting to pass the time and wax poetic about stuff I never write about.

I'll officially begin the experiment tomorrow. If you want to buy a Journal In A Jar for yourself or a friend (it really is a cool gift), just send an e-mail to See you then.