Sample: Blog Copy -- Personal
"A dusty old jewel in the South Puget Sound"
Tacoma! Log butcher for the world, ship maker, player with footballs; stormy, husky, brawling, longshoring; producer of fast, tough kids; little city of the big shoulders.
My dad was just inducted into the city's sports hall of fame, along with 150 of the city's best athletes, during a dinner for 2,000 people in the Tacoma Dome.
It was the best of Tacoma; it was the worst of Tacoma. The emcee was a former news anchor who ensured the evening moved at a glacial pace. The dinner was breaded chicken or fish, we weren't sure which. The parade of athletes with the Lincoln marching band didn't really work. And one of the sponsors was a bail-bond company.
But there was an introductory speech by video from a man who medaled in the 1928 Olympics and was later a teammate of Jim Thorpe. Ron Cey (a World Series co-MVP) was there and Mac Wilkins (four-time world record holder in the discus) and Sugar Ray Seals, America's only boxing gold medalist in 1972. Five-time world cross country champion Doris Brown Heritage was there and so was PLU's Frosty Westering, the ninth-winningest college football coach ever. Casey Carrigan pole vaulted 17' 4" in high school and Dick Hannula's high school swim teams didn't lose a meet from 1959 to 1983.
Best of all, the evening brought together my dad, his three brothers, and their dad. My grandpa can't see but is blessed with a perfect memory. For 50 years, his life has been one with the city and its loggers and brawlers and the athlete sons and daughters of the ship makers and longshoremen. He provided a running commentary on every name announced, a short history of Tacoma.
The 2 1/2-year-old is terrible at hide-and-seek because wherever he hides, he can't stop giggling. And he says things like, "I saw two everybodies."
The 5-year-old will tell you that Tutankhamen was a pharaoh and says things like, "I like you. I wish I could see you more."
Don't have kids
Typical conversation with our 2 1/2-year-old over the past six weeks:
Child: I want hot cocoa.
Parent: No, you just had hot cocoa two hours ago and now you need to eat some growing food. Would you like some toast or yogurt?
Child: I want hot cocoa.
Parent: No. You can have toast or yogurt.
Child: I want hot cocoa.
Child: I want hot cocoa. I want hot cocoa. I want hot cocoa.
Parent: Do you want a time out?
Child: I. Want. HOT. COCOA!
Parent: OK, time out.
Parent carries child screaming upstairs. Locks child in room. Through the door come muffled sobs and plaintive cries for hot cocoa.
Number of socks in a single load of laundry on an average Monday night at our house
In my family, there was no clear line between religion and track and field
We lived at the junction of great track programs in southern California, and our father was a real-estate developer and a former decathlete who owned his own javelin and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being track men, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class track men on the Sea of Galilee were sprinters or jumpers and that John, the favorite, was a decathlete.
(Apologies to Norman MacLean.)
There were always shot puts around the house when I was growing up, and discuses and javelins. We had five or six pairs of track shoes, spike wrenches, and rolls of athletic tape, and every year we held a family decathlon.
The decathlon's genesis was a 1973 argument between my dad and my uncle over who was the better athlete. Naturally, they decided to settle the argument by holding a two-day, 10 event competition based on the Olympic decathlon, but modified somewhat.
My dad won, but my uncle was back the next year for another try. Then the next year and the next and the next. We did it every year for 20 years, and by the end, I was winning them. We held that first decathlon at Point Loma College in San Diego, and later meets at U.C. Irvine, Bellevue, and even an altitude meet at Park City, Utah.
Dad was a hell of a track man. He qualified for the Olympic Trials in the decathlon in 1964, when he was 19. If he could have made a living at it, he probably never would have played pro football. Still, he was an All American at Washington in the high hurdles, the intermediate hurdles, and the long jump.
We once reckoned that if we combined our personal records in the decathlon's 10 events, we would have had a good chance at an Olympic medal. (Full disclosure: we would have used only three of my scores to seven of his.)
Mainly, I like the decathlon as a metaphor. It rewards versatility, patience, and persistence. It takes a long time to master, and you can succeed by doing many things well, not brilliantly. You labor in anonymity, mostly, and at times you look the fool. You compete against the clock and the measuring tape more than the other athletes, so there is a genuine sense of shared struggle. The first day rewards speed and youth; the second rewards technique and experience. The last thing you do is the hardest.
My mother, turning 60
It takes so long for parents to resolve into people. They're like pointillist paintings we spend years to take a few steps back from. But now -- when I'm at a point where, if actuarial tables hold true, I'm about halfway done with this earthly existence -- I've got a little better perspective on aging and can see just what a remarkable person my mother is.
There is much to admire. The fact that she looks like she's in her mid-40s pleases her, I know, but I think more than anything her appearance reflects her appetite for living. A few years ago, she and my cousin took an inflatable kayak down a stretch of the Puyallup River, which runs right behind her condo. At one point, they ran into a downed tree and when they pulled away, they were both covered in worms. Later, they capsized.
Marriage didn't work out for her, but having a long-term boyfriend has. She and Steve have dated since the late '80s, and their relationship has lasted 10 years with the entire country between them. They're heading to Cabo tomorrow.
She left her life as a successful salon-owner on Long Island and returned to her roots in the Tacoma area to spend time with her father as his life wound down and to reinvent herself. She became a medical-records coder and an expert quilter. She rides horses at a dude ranch each summer and rides her road bike when the weather is warm. She is nimble with a crossword puzzle, quick to trade an off-color joke, and unafraid to stand up to those who wrong her. She is generous to friends and tireless with my children. Last fall, she marshaled all her energy and compassion to bravely ease her father into death.
Things stream through us down generations, and I hope my children overflow with Grandma Susie's chutzpah, kindness, and curiosity, and that their homes glitter with her bright quilts.