Posts with Category This Writer’s Life

636 miles from “The Girl”

“I wish I could do better by you,
’cause that’s what you deserve
You sacrifice so much of your life
In order for this to work.

While I’m off chasing my own dreams
Sailing around the world
Please know that I’m yours to keep
My beautiful girl”

- City and Colour

I’m in Northfield, MN, 636 miles from Muncie. Tomorrow I’ll stand on a stage and share my stories with a few hundred students at Carleton College. None of it would be possible without the girl.

I could be the King of Sap and rule over Sapland with all of my sappiness, but I try to avoid that. Annie is “the girl” for me and she knows it. She allows me to chase my dreams, sail around the world, and I’ll always be hers….

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What 36 feels like

Today I turn 36.

Gone are the mid-decade milestones: the 16s, the 21s, and the 25s (rental car). Now it’s all about the decades, until social security, which will be at least 67, but probably later.

Retirement? Never!

I used to tell my Grandpa Wilt that I graduated college and then retired. That I was living life backwards and traveling while I was full of questions, curiosity, energy, and the capability to sit and stand in one place on buses, planes, and boats for obscene amounts of time.

And when I was working, I was SCUBA diving. I joked that I was going…

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9 Things I learned living 1 week in a college dorm at age 35

Last week I was the guest-in-residence at the University of Illinois’ Allen Hall. In other words, I lived in a dorm.

The last time I moved into a dorm was half my life ago. I turn 36 on Friday, and I was 18 on my last move-in-day. On that day, Mom and Dad moved me into a quad with three other guys. It was cozy, if not awkwardly tight. Our beds nearly touched when we pulled them out of the wall.

That year I played my first drinking game and attended my first frat party. I politely turned down my first joint. I walked in a herd with fellow freshmen because that’s what freshmen did….

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Why I couldn’t see today

Vacationing in South Haven, Michigan

I was driving the family to South Haven, Michigan, for a family vacation when the right side of the world disappeared. It just gradually faded away to nothingness. I decided it would be best if Annie drove.

I sat in the passenger seat, closed my eyes and imagined all the ways I was going to die. Surely it was a stroke. If not that, then an air bubble from the time I got the bends while SCUBA diving had broken loose and was about to kill me.

And then it got better and we were on the beach in Michigan in August, which means we were wearing sweatshirts…

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I’m in Urbana-Champaign all week

This morning while I ate breakfast a strange man walked by the cinnamon rolls wearing only boxers and a T-shirt.  I couldn’t help but stare. Part of me wanted to take a picture.  

Now, I’m really not into men in boxers. I thought maybe I just wasn’t seeing right, and that after a few cups of coffee maybe the site would make sense. We do live in an age of jeggings, skorts, and other portmanteau crossover fashions that a fella from Indiana just can’t quite understand.

But I suppose this is just a normal occurrence of dorm life in Allen Hall at the University of Illinois.

Still, I stared. Was he wearing…

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The Thank You notes that I carry & carry me

Last week I Skyped with a class at the Notre Dame Academy in Park Hills, Kentucky, that read WHERE AM I WEARING? I’m always happy to Skype with classes reading one of my books. I often do these Q&A sessions for $0, but payment comes in many forms.

Last night after returning from two days in Ferguson seeding a Facing Project, a package from the class was waiting on me. There were pajamas for the kids because I shared that each night after bath I have Harper check the made in label on her pajamas. There was a moleskine with an awesome quote followed by a message from Amanda Staggs, the class’s teacher.

 

Every gift was thought out and full of meaning. It’s…

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Harper at 2,190 days old

“It’s my birthday!” Harper announced in our bedroom at 2 AM.

Today Harper turns 6. And you gotta respect her enthusiasm for the day and for life in general. A month from now, I’ll be 36 (I’m Harper +30), and I’ll want to sleep in on my birthday

But I’m younger now than I was before she arrived.

I read children’s books about talking animals and magic. We’re also making our way through the Harry Potter series.

I color, still not very well. There is something really meditative about it.

We pick on Annie together.

We crack toot jokes more than we should.

We play hide and seek and tag.

We go on bike rides.

We giggle.

We sing duets from Frozen.

We have dance parties.

We play video games. About a year ago we started playing…

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Grandma Betty is washing bananas in heaven

Betty holding our son Griffin.

Annie’s grandma, Betty Ludwick, recently passed away. She was 93.

She listened and she loved. She humbly led a life that led others to listen and love. If you spent five minutes with her, you felt like one of her grandchildren. That’s why I was so honored to read the tribute below written by Betty’s three granddaughters at her funeral.

Stephanie, Emily, and Annie did an amazing job writing this. It is touching and funny, and most of all it’s Betty. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to meet her, I think you’ll enjoy it.

In Memory of our Grandma, Betty Ludwick

March 10, 1921-November 13, 2014
By: Stephanie Pfefferkorn, Emily Taylor, and Annie Timmerman

If you knew…

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I met Temple Grandin!

My hair wasn’t brushed, neither were my teeth.

I wondered down zombie-like to the hotel’s continental breakfast. My eyes weren’t really working yet, but it wasn’t hard to discern that Temple Grandin was sitting in the lobby on the phone.

If you aren’t familiar with Temple Grandin, she’s sort of a patron saint of the autism community. Born with autism, Temple has been able to make an impact seeing the world from a different perspective. She was played by Claire Danes in a movie and is a rockstar speaker at events across the country.

SHE IS A BIG DEAL, especially to parents like me with a child on the autism spectrum.

I didn’t want to…

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The Gold Nugget in My Wallet

(This story originally appeared on the blog of the Indiana Authors Award.) 

I carry a gold nugget in my wallet. A slave owner in Burkina Faso gave it to me.

The bus ride that took me from Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, ended at a flooded road and a trip in a tiny dugout canoe where the oarsman joked about crocodiles. From the canoe I got in a taxi that didn’t have brakes. The driver stopped the car using the “Fred Flintstone” method – sticking his foot out the door and dragging it along the road.

We arrived to the town of Poura, Burkina Faso, at dusk. There were no rooms to be had. The proprietor of the town’s only hotel had taken all of the keys with him on vacation. Fortunately,…

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