I have decided to join in the time honored (and ridiculed) tradition of compiling a top ten list to close out 2008. The following is my Top Ten Events Of 2008 That Affected Me. Read on and enjoy the memories (unless you had no idea any of this happened in which they would not be a memory but more like an announcement which you can still enjoy just not as a memory). The list is in chronological order.

  1. I followed through with an idea I had toyed with for a long time and self-published a book of stories, blurbs and drawings. Digital technology finally allowed me to design and produce my own tome, sold ridiculously cheap (Shameless Plug Alert) here. Although it was self published, there was a sense of fulfillment that accompanied the process and I was happy with the end product.
  2. In February I was informed by my dermatologist that I had a cancerous melanoma on my right calf. It was caught in the early stages and, after surgery, all traces were removed. Having the word cancer and your name riding the same sentence together is disconcerting, no matter how reassuring the doctors were when describing it to me.
  3. Our family took two trips in the summer and both were memorable. In late May the whole family flew to California to attend Laura’s graduation from Calvary Chapel Bible College. My brother and his family joined us and we spent a long weekend touring, eating and laughing. (Pictures are here.) At the end of the summer we all attended my parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Tennessee. Over 50 family members from all over the U.S. attended and we had a great time. We capped off the visit with a memorial service for my grandmother who had passed away in the spring just a few days shy of her 103rd birthday. (Pictures from that week are here.)
  4. In June, Florida State sent their baseball team to the College World Series for the first time in several years. Although the team didn’t last long in Omaha, it was fun to follow them during the year and finally be rewarded for a great season.
  5. In July I left Taproot Creative and took a job with the state as a designer for The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. After toiling in the private sector it was a bit of a shock to the system to lurch back into the public sector side of life. It was not the easiest decision I ever made but, ultimately, it was the right one. I am still an emotional part of Taproot and was rewarded with the traditional Taproot shirt this past week. That made me feel good.
  6. I discovered Twitter. Come, follow me and join the inanity of the next social media “App of the Week.” For some reason I enjoy sending out the tweets and reading other folks short bursts of blab.
  7. Hope’s mother passed away in September after a lengthy battle with a number of health issues. Hope was her primary care giver and was a marvelous example of being a daughter to the end. (I wrote about it here.)
  8. Thanks to my friend Ron, I discovered the fun of trail riding on bikes this past fall. He allowed me to use his old bike and I have really enjoyed our weekend rides on the various trails around Tallahassee. I was even inspired to ride home from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has been nice to discover a way to get off the sofa that does not involve a gym membership.
  9. My youngest son had his first solo gig as a singer/songwriter this past November when he was asked to perform at Ilations, a Friday night gathering sponsored by one of the local churches. He sang five original songs and I was chief videographer (results here) and proud dad. The second part of that was a lot easier than the first. More to come, I am sure.
  10. The year closed out with the engagement of our oldest son to his girlfriend two days before Christmas. It was a very special night that I was thrilled to be a part. I chronicled it in detail here, including a video of the event.

As you wave goodbye to 2008, fasten your seat belt for 2009 and prepare to enjoy...


When Civilizations Collide

Something that has always interested me is the dynamic of relationships. How and why we get along (or don’t), acknowledging the baggage that each of us brings into every relationship and situation and trying to understand how that colors every conversation. I have no answers, just increasingly complicated questions about how all of this works (or doesn’t). I know the dynamic exists and I try to allow that to color my response to people but that type of effort can get complicated really quick, mainly because I have my own baggage to deal with. Sure, I am trying to get past all of that, trying to grow up and out of the old skin but, once the old is sloughed off, I assume another fresh layer is added, dictated by what I went through last year or last week (or yesterday). Are we ever baggage free? Is all baggage bad? Discuss amongst yourselves...

The following paragraph is from the book “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson. The story is marvelous, one that deserves a slow read because practically every sentence is worth your time. This snippet jumped out at me and is a nice capper to my thoughts about relationships. Again, no answers, just some grist to mentally grind.

“Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variants of notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable—which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us.”



A Very Special Christmas

Last night was ground breaking in the Colle home. My oldest child asked his girlfriend to marry him in front of over 30 family and friends. Before you view the video (below) it is worth a few minutes of back story...

Jul and William have been talking about getting married for a few months (and have even been looking at rings) but wanted to wait to get engaged until January or February to let the holidays pass and to keep the engagement short, hopefully around one year. William decided to jump the gun and surprise her so a ring was purchased. The only thing left was to plan the proposal. Jul's desire was to include all of their friends and family when they got engaged so that was all the opening we needed. (Okay, "we" is somewhat of a stretch. Let's be honest and say it was all the opening Hope needed. She and William dealt with the details and came up with a wonderful plan—wonderful because it worked!) The final plan was to have a big party on December 22 and include both families, friends and celebrate not only the season but also to welcome our daughter home from a semester in Italy. During the party we would conduct a gift exchange and make sure Jul got "the" gift in the midst of the proceedings. Everyone invited was let in on the real purpose of the night which was a little dangerous but ensured 100% participation. The one person not informed was Jul’s mom only because it would have put too much pressure on her to not insist that Jul get her nail’s done or question her outfit for the evening--subtle “mom clues” that may have planted a seed in Jul’s mind that something was up. All indications were that Jul had no idea what was afoot so everyone did their best job of acting the part of casual party guest all the while nervously waiting for the big moment.

As guests arrived, I handed them a number (and made sure Jul got #5), took their gifts and stacked them on the floor. When everyone had arrived I made a production out of randomly numbering the gifts and made sure “the gift” was labeled with a five. Then the gift exchange began. Numbers one through four went smoothly and then...


Story Interruption

The week of Christmas would not be complete without at least one reference to one of the top Christmas movies of all time, Christmas Vacation. Enjoy...

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Aunt Bethany: [turns to Lewis] What, dear?
Nora Griswold: Grace!
Aunt Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say Grace.
[Bethany shakes her head in confusion]
Uncle Lewis: The BLESSING!
Aunt Bethany: [they all pose for prayer] I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands/ One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Clark: Amen.


Oh, Tanner Baum (Pt. 5 of 5)

Note: Call me lazy (I can take it) but I have decided to re-post the Christmas story I wrote a few years ago. Yes, it ran on this blog before and, even though I am loathe to re-post old material, I like this story and thought it was worth another spin around the digital block. Today (Sunday) is the first chapter and the story will conclude on Christmas Day. Enjoy...

“Right side, spin!” The kids holding the tree on the right spun their tree one-quarter around. This was followed by a moment of silence before daddy barked, “Left side, spin!” The kids on the left quickly obeyed. “Left side, spin!” They turned it once again. When daddy told the kids on the right to spin their tree back to its original position, daddy’s plan became crystal clear. It was like the heavens opened up and a big angel choir started singing one of those fancy church songs. Even the Man Scout muttered, “Well I’ll be…” Without being told the kids holding each tree moved toward each other, stopping as their two trunks met. The result was one of the most beautiful, full trees any of us had ever seen in our lives. Daddy had found two perfect halves to make a glorious whole and his reputation as a blessed genius was forever seared in our minds.

After a few moments of respectful silence, daddy grabbed the saw and twine from the Man Scout and instructed the kids not to move. He started snipping and hacking, ridding each tree of its bad parts until the two orphans fit together like Siamese twins. Then he grabbed the twine and united the two at the top, middle and bottom, securing them so tightly that no man would ever put them asunder. When daddy was through, the Man Scout offered to hold the tree (it was one now) and let the whole Baum crew inspect Daddy’s work. “Spin!” we all shouted at once and repeated it until we had seen the tree from every angle. It was perfect, probably the best-looking Christmas tree we had ever found. Then I had an idea that, weirdly, seemed to strike all of us kids at once, because we all grabbed hands and let out the biggest silent scream we had ever mustered. Daddy laughed but the Man Scout lost his smile briefly. I believe he happened to be looking at Hootie and, if you’re not ready for it, his silent scream can disturb you.

As we piled into the van, Oleta remembered Bart and wished out loud that he could have witnessed our Christmas miracle. Cecil said he believed the Man Scout would be telling that story for a lot of years to come so he was sure Bart would hear about it. Then everybody started talking at the same time and, for once, Daddy didn’t try to shut us up. It was a very special night indeed.

© 2008 Jay Colle

Oh, Tanner Baum (Pt. 4 of 5)

Note: Call me lazy (I can take it) but I have decided to re-post the Christmas story I wrote a few years ago. Yes, it ran on this blog before and, even though I am loathe to re-post old material, I like this story and thought it was worth another spin around the digital block. Today (Sunday) is the first chapter and the story will conclude on Christmas Day. Enjoy...

As we started running toward the tree Bart was holding, we all stopped at the same time and stared. The tree was pathetic. The trunk was crooked and the left side of it looked like it had survived a hurricane, limbs curled back over themselves and needles sticking every way but right. There was no way daddy would accept a tree in that condition and he proved me right by telling Bart to get that one out of his site and grab another. The next one Daddy pointed to got displayed a lot quicker because all of the kids were helping. We couldn’t help the way the tree looked, though. It was possibly more wretched than the first one. It was so bad that daddy didn’t even have us spin it, not even once. Daddy decided to change his luck by trying another row of trees, but each one we pulled out to show him was pitiful. They were either really thin or had giant holes in them big enough for baby Cephus to hide in. Daddy was spinning and pointing that stick so fast he looked like a wizard casting spells, except he would have to be from the Minnesota Wizard Clan where they are more accepting of flannel and lace-up boots.

Whatever he was trying to conjure up with that stick it wasn’t working. Every single tree we hauled in front of him was useless. I was starting to get scared and, by the amount of fingernail chewing being conducted by my brothers and sisters, they were too. Bart had to go home when his momma came to pick him up an hour into our hunt. He looked relieved. As we all gathered around the latest choice, Daddy told me to run get one of the adult Boy Scouts because he had some questions for him. I grabbed the first dude I found and we hurried to the back of the lot to talk to Daddy.

Daddy didn’t give the Man Scout a chance to introduce himself before he barked, “Sir, your allotment of trees this season is deplorable. What say you?”

“I’m afraid you’re right, Mr. Baum. Seems we tried a different supplier this year and what they sent us has been a bit disappointing.”

“Disappointing? That, my man, is a gross understatement. These trees should be burned!” I admit I would love to see a whole Christmas tree lot set on fire but I know what Daddy was getting at. So did the Man Scout.

“I tell you what I can do, Mr. Baum. If you can find something in here you can work with, I’ll sell it to you half price.” When daddy heard that offer, he softened up a little. If coupons are big in the Baum family then half-off deals are huge. The Man Scout was speaking Daddy’s language.

Daddy placed both his hands behind his back and took on a serious look. He stared at the Man Scout and said, “I will take that offer under advisement and let you know in a reasonable time what my decision will be.”

“As long as a reasonable time is within fifteen minutes because we close at nine.”

Daddy turned away from him and started to pace. This was a good sign because when daddy paced it seemed to charge up the part of his brain where The Genius lives. Some near miracles have occurred from Daddy’s hands once he has spent a little time pondering. The kids knew to let him be and work through it on his own time. After ten minutes the Man Scout got tired of waiting and he walked back to the front to begin the process of shutting down the lot for the night. In all my years of hunting the tree, we have never come home empty handed, proving that when Daddy got the special feeling, great things happened. I could not imagine tonight would be different but just as a little seedling of despair started to germinate in my gut, daddy stopped, turned to face us and pointed the measuring stick at me.

“Tanner, go find the man in charge and tell him to bring me a saw and a ball of twine and meet us in aisle two. The rest of you, follow me. There is work to be done.” I ran off to find the Man Scout. Daddy was getting us a Christmas tree.

By the time we found Daddy and the kids, they had pulled two nasty trees out of the stack and had them lying on the ground right next to each other. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what daddy had planned but I was in no position to doubt him. He instructed my brothers and sisters to stand the trees straight up and hold them side-by-side. When that was done, he stepped back, setting one end of the measuring stick on the ground, holding it out from his body, looking like Moses before he parted the Red Sea. Since I wasn’t a participant at that particular miracle, what followed next will have to suffice as my Children of Israel moment. Daddy started barking out instructions, simple and clear, and that’s when we all knew daddy was either a genius or a saint.

© 2008 Jay Colle

Oh, Tanner Baum (Pt. 3 of 5)

Note: Call me lazy (I can take it) but I have decided to re-post the Christmas story I wrote a few years ago. Yes, it ran on this blog before and, even though I am loathe to re-post old material, I like this story and thought it was worth another spin around the digital block. Today (Sunday) is the first chapter and the story will conclude on Christmas Day. Enjoy...

As we approached the entrance the smell of pines buckled my knees--caused by my stomach’s memory of that afternoon--but I recovered by taking a swig of ginger ale from Cecil’s flask. He was always getting car sick so he had special permission to carry carbonated soda with him every time he rode in the car, no matter how short the trip. Fortunately, since ginger ale lacked caffeine, it didn’t interfere with his Ritalin. Since I had to hesitate in the parking lot to settle my stomach, I got left behind. By the time I caught up, Daddy had already grabbed a measuring pole and was marching into the first row of trees. Boy Scout Troup 1412 always ran this particular tree lot and we kept coming back every year because they gave returning customers $5.00 off the purchase of a tree. Coupons are a big deal to the Baum family. I found daddy and the crew halfway down aisle one, being led by one of Troup 1412’s finest, a little dude with buckteeth sporting his Scout shirt, scarf, khaki shorts and what looked like size twelve white sneakers. He looked nervous and I was guessing he was probably new. No one ever waited on Daddy twice. As I got closer I could hear Daddy getting ready to explain why.

“What was your name again, son?”

“Bart, sir.”

“Okay, Bart, here are my expectations for the evening. If you want to sell me a Christmas tree, you will need to follow these rules. One, I point to a tree I am interested in with the measuring stick. You will then pull it into the aisle and hold it straight. Two, I will measure for height, which will determine its price, which will determine whether it is in our price range. If it qualifies, we will proceed to three, which will require you to spin the tree one-quarter turns when I say the word ‘spin.’ I will say the word four times and you will spin the tree four times until I have inspected the tree from every angle. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.” Bart’s response was barely a whisper and his hand was shaking as he mindlessly raised it, holding up three fingers like he was going to start reciting the Boy Scout pledge. Daddy smiled and then made everyone jump by spinning 90 degrees and pointing the measuring stick toward his first evergreen subject, shouting “That one!” Bart recovered and ran over to Daddy’s choice, pulled it out of the stack and dragged it to the middle of the aisle. We all watched silently as he struggled to gain enough leverage to pull it upright. He was so little that it took him a long time to get it balanced perpendicular to the ground. By the time he succeeded, he was sweating through his shirt and his hair was starting to stick to the sides of his face.

“Good Lord, man!” Daddy shouted. “If you’re that slow with all of these trees we’ll need to order breakfast!” Bart was deflated and right before he started to cry, Daddy told us kids to help him with the trees, which was what we were waiting to hear. Humiliating a Boy Scout is part of the Baum family tree buying tradition, at least for Daddy.

© 2008 Jay Colle

Oh, Tanner Baum (Pt. 2 of 5)

Note: Call me lazy (I can take it) but I have decided to re-post the Christmas story I wrote a few years ago. Yes, it ran on this blog before and, even though I am loathe to re-post old material, I like this story and thought it was worth another spin around the digital block. Today (Sunday) is the first chapter and the story will conclude on Christmas Day. Enjoy...

When Daddy’s car pulled into the carport every one of us was dressed and ready to go. As he walked through the family room and passed in front of all of us sitting lined up on the sofa, he nodded approvingly and told us he needed to change clothes and then we would leave. When he left the room we all grabbed hands and simultaneously contorted our faces into silent screams. I kept my eye on Hootie during the scream because he always made the best faces due to his lazy eye and his current transition between baby teeth and permanent.

My father is shaped like a box. He is as wide and tall as he is thick. If he ever had a visible neck it was long gone before any pictures were taken of him. He has great posture but he is as wide as a door jam and he walks with tiny, bouncy steps that make it look like he is skipping everywhere he goes. I guess he’s kind of funny looking but we never laugh about it because we’re used to it. He’s not the snazziest dresser but the one day Daddy can be counted on to look fine is the day we get our Christmas tree. This time he put on a crisp pair of blue jeans held up by plain brown suspenders that overlapped his favorite green and red plaid flannel shirt. He always rolled up the sleeves, one turn each, because it gave him some breathing room when he needed to slide on his gloves. The rugged, manly, leather gloves hung exactly halfway out of his right back pocket, thumbs lined up, far enough away not to be a nuisance but close enough to grab when needed. On his feet were a pair of boots purchased over ten years ago that were still as shiny as the day he bought them. They were brown to match his suspenders and they were cut high, climbing midway to his knees, which gave him ample room to tuck his jeans into the top before he laced them, tight and secure, tied with a double knot. The whole fashion package was topped off with a bright orange John Deere baseball hat. Daddy liked wearing it really high on his head. I think he thought it made him look taller but it really just looked like he needed a bigger hat.

When he walked out of the bedroom and stood framed in the doorway, he was the coolest daddy that any of us had ever seen. I had witnessed the transformation for 12 years and the initial sensation of pride never faded. Our daddy was going to get us a Christmas tree and we were going to help.

The only person in the house not allowed to go with us was Momma. Daddy liked having her stay back at the house to make sure the tree lights were functioning and all the ornament boxes were open and ready to be raided. Whenever Daddy kissed her goodbye she would salute and thank him in advance for the task he was about to undertake. The way Momma smiled when she said it made me wonder if she was talking about getting the tree or the fact that Daddy was taking all five kids out of the house at once by himself. Either way, I liked the salute and I think he did too. We all piled into the mini-van and once Daddy was sure we were all buckled in, he got us on the road, heading out to find our tree.

The Methodist Church was only five blocks away but it felt like eight. It always seems to take longer to get some place than it does to get back. Daddy found a parking space right near the front of the tree lot and, before he turned off the van and unlocked the doors, he turned in his seat, as much as his body would let him, and went over the rules just like he does every year. “Number one: don’t act like little hooligans when we get out of the car. You represent our family and its good name while you’re in public. Number two: Help me with this one… Who makes the final decision about which tree we buy?”

We all shouted, “Daddy!” And with that we were released.

© 2008 Jay Colle

Oh, Tanner Baum (Pt. 1 of 5)

Note: Call me lazy (I can take it) but I have decided to re-post the Christmas story I wrote a few years ago. Yes, it ran on this blog before and, even though I am loathe to re-post old material, I like this story and thought it was worth another spin around the digital block. Today (Sunday) is the first chapter and the story will conclude on Christmas Day. Enjoy...

My daddy set his fork down, placed his elbows on the either side of his plate, laced his fingers almost directly in front of his face and cleared his throat. The rest of us occupying the rim of the breakfast table swallowed whatever we were chewing, sat up straight and quickly shut up.

“When I get home from work tonight, we are going out to get our Christmas tree. Everyone be ready at six p.m. sharp. We will depart at 6:01.” The buzz surging around the table was strong enough to reheat momma’s burnt biscuits. In other households picking out the Christmas tree may be seen as mundane or even a chore but in the Baum home, there was no bigger event. For us, it marked the official beginning of the holiday season and was an activity that involved the entire family. Six o’clock couldn’t get here fast enough and everyone would be ready. Tardiness would not be an issue.

I’m the second child in a string of five, all of us tow headed and thin. Too thin, according to my grandmother, but I think it’s because my momma refuses to get glasses and she tends to burn half our dinner because she can’t read directions or the numbers on the stove. Even though a diet of charcoal isn’t very filling, the plus side is we all have very pleasant breath. Since I’m almost the oldest, I have experienced the Christmas tree gathering almost more than any of the other kids. Momma told me it wasn’t as big a deal when it was just she and Daddy but something came over him when she birthed my older sister. Momma said he jumped from not caring too much about the tree to caring way too much, but she likes this way better even if he does take it too seriously. I’m glad he does because our trees are always the best in the neighborhood every year, and daddy says that doesn’t happen by accident. “Planning, preparation and perfect timing” are the three “P’s” Daddy lives by, and we don’t go get our tree until he says it’s time. I guess he woke up this morning and could sense today was the day because he wouldn’t have made the announcement unless he felt it deep in his spirit. And he sounded mighty sure this morning, like he had a special feeling, more special than other years.

I couldn’t concentrate in any of my classes at school knowing what was waiting for me when I got home. I got called out by three different teachers for not hearing a question or just staring out the window. I snuck one of Momma’s pine scented air fresheners into my locker at school to serve as a pungent reminder of the upcoming event but after lunch I almost messed up everything by getting sick to my stomach from sniffing my math book. Daddy doesn’t take the weak and infirmed on the tree hunt and that includes children with queasy stomachs. For the last fifteen minutes of my final class I just stared at the clock, watching the second hand spin toward three o’clock. If I was given an assignment during that time I have no idea what it was because I was paying zero attention to my teacher. I ran all the way home, which was pretty stupid since we live three miles away and all of my siblings had already finished their snack before I got home because they rode the bus. I put up with the laughing and the name calling from my brothers and sisters because it was such a special day, although I will remember to get back at Oleta for continuing to chant “treetarded” long after everyone had agreed it wasn’t very funny.

© 2008 Jay Colle


Room of Rest

In the short alcove leading to the men’s bathroom near my office is a door that, behind it’s coded lock, holds an ice maker. Apparently, quite a few people know the combination because I often see people walking away from the area when I am headed to use the facilities. It is a little disconcerting seeing women walking out of the space and it makes me check the sign on the wall to make sure I am walking into the proper restroom. Every mistaken trip through the wrong door from my past gurgles up and makes me pause and double check. That reminds me of a story...

I began struggling through the Wednesday night service approximately five minutes after the teaching started. My need to urinate was a small blip before church started so I ignored it and again during the break after worship. The urge began to surge from distant to immediate as our pastor was winding up his teaching and I decided I would slip out during the final prayer and deal with the situation before having to battle the crush of people at the end of the service. As soon as everyone settled into their prayer stance, I quietly and slowly walked out through the door in the back of the church and then broke into the familiar “I have got to pee really, really bad but if I run too fast I will regret it” trot. I turned the corner, pushed through the door and walked straight to a stall. Relief was immediate and, not surprisingly, interminable which was punctuated by the band in the sanctuary (pumped through the speakers in the bathroom) playing the song “Everlasting.” I smiled, appreciating the irony.

As things were winding down, the door to the bathroom flew open and a group of boys came rushing in, loud and frenetic. My wife and I had been leading the music for children’s church for several months so I had a feeling that I knew the trouble makers, even though I had no visual verification since I was still in the stall. To scare them I put on my deepest, manly voice and said, “Settle down in here!” It was greeted with dead silence. I chuckled as I zipped my pants and opened the stall door. What greeted me was the wide eyes of five young girls, all cowering in a row, lined up by the sink. I was confused. “What are you all doing in here?” I asked. One of them scrapped up enough courage to whisper, “This is the girl’s bathroom.” The immediate hot flush of humiliation flooded my face as, for the first time, I noticed there were no urinals and I was, in fact, standing in the ladies restroom, looking down on the same faces I saw every Sunday morning. Only now they were not smiling and singing, they were scared.

I muttered an apology and quickly left the bathroom, almost knocking over another lady who was entering. As I fought through the mass of people in the lobby, a small thought began fighting through my embarrassment: “What are those girls going to tell their parents? And what happens after that? This could turn into a huge nightmare of misunderstanding, quick.” I knew I was going to have to explain myself to a number of people, a preemptive confession to, hopefully, hold the outraged parents at bay. I sought out the lady in charge of the children’s ministry and explained what had happened and, fortunately, she thought it was hilarious. I then sought out each parent of the girls and discovered that every one of them already knew, courtesy of their daughters. Some smiled, some laughed, some looked at me a little critically but all gave their forgiveness and the benefit of the doubt. The one concession I made was that I placed a moratorium on the song “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me” at Children’s Church for at least four months. Oddly enough, no one has requested it since.


Tuesday Twaddle

If I had to choose which of my five senses I could live without, I choose smell. When I take into account the plusses and minuses of this quandary (albeit a fake quandary—and aren’t those the best kind?) I gravitate to smell because the postives outweight the negatives. Sure, it would be a drag to not catch a whiff of your wife’s perfume or a great meal being prepared but there are plenty of things out there that I would be happy to never smell again. I’ll take those odds.

I have a slight fear of going blind. It isn’t consuming or debilitating but it is something I think about every time my eyes start giving me trouble. I have even attempted to learn to touch type (more times than I care to admit) just in case I lose my sight and still have a desire to write. If I was to be analyzed—please, don’t—it makes sense that I would be worried about going blind. My whole career is based on the visual arts so it is a need buried deep inside me. But I assume I could adapt. Many before me have although I’d rather not find out first hand.

I have discovered that what music I have on my iPod is almost as important as tire pressure when I am riding my bike home from work. I own an old school iPod Shuffle, the one shaped like a Vienna Finger cookie, so it is perfect for my hour-long ride. Currently I am listening to a combination of Elbow, Toy Matinee and Glen Phillips and it is a nice contrast to the large, fast moving automobiles screaming by me at uncomfortable distances. It quells my potential road rage.

I have been dealing a lot with truth lately. At least the idea of truth. I write that because the more I think about truth, I realize it is much closer to a concept than a fact. We say we want the truth from everyone and I have no doubt we think we do. It is defnitely a noble concept and something we all assume we should aspire to. But, and this is going to sound cliche and silly, what is truth? Every one of us brings into every situation a lot of baggage, some of it light but most of it pretty hefty. I am no psychologist, but this baggage has to color what we think truth looks like. Combine our individual baggage with that fact that there is no such thing as a “normal” situation (normal according to who?) and we have the makings of unlimited versions of truth with a lot of different people thinking they own the most accurate version. So is it still true that 95% true is still a lie? According to who?


Friday Freebie

sad, yet confident.

© 2008 Jay Colle


Planning It, Old School

Yesterday the office manager stuck her head into my office and asked me if I wanted a planner for the next year. Someone had ordered refills and the company had sent a brand new leather folio along with a starter kit of inserts and she did not want to send it back. My first thought was “How very 1990’s of us to be using analog daily planners in this digital age.” Then I remembered that this was the same office that included a box of brand new 3.25” floppy disks (1.44 mb capacity!) as part of my welcome package--four months ago. My second thought (or would that be the third?) was “Heck yeah, I’ll take it” and I actually said that out loud. For some reason, the idea of having a new planner, analog or not, inspired me. There is something intoxicating about notebooks, potential creativity and (possibly) a new pen that I cannot resist.

After she brought it to me and I unwrapped all of the inserts, it dawned on me that, regardless my excitement, I was not going to go back to the Luddite way of conducting my life, adding phone numbers and daily tasks to a notebook when I already had a pretty good system within my digital world (like most people in the working world... outside The State Offices, that is). But the folio smelled good (Mmmm, leather) and it seemed like a waste to stick it in a drawer or on a shelf and forget about it. So I went online to see what FranklinCovey offered in the way of insert options, hoping to be inspired (or re-inspired) to use my new leather planner. Lo, on yonder home page blared the weekly special: 100 sheets of simply lined paper for the Classic planner (mine) for $5.00. I ordered two and decided I could use the folio as a writing notebook. A very fancy writing notebook. And I could add it to the other four, very plain, writing notebooks I have sitting strategically around the house and in my briefcase. And I already have my defense ready when my wife finds it in a random place (and she will) and she asks why I needed another notebook--albeit a fancy notebook--when I already have several that still have empty pages. I’ll ask her, “Have you smelled that notebook?” I’m pretty sure that will work.


Pancho Gato

© 2008 Jay Colle


Monday Ruminations

The national championship game between Florida and Oklahoma should be a lot of fun to watch. I am just grateful that a slow, Big Ten team is not being sacrificed in the final game this year. We had enough of that over the last few seasons. To be reminded how painful that is to watch, be sure to tune in when Penn State takes on USC in the Rose Bowl.

I cannot thank my wife enough for her house decorating skills this time of year. Her tasteful transformation of our home into a Winter Wonderland makes me want to just sit in the living room every night and enjoy.

Speaking of Christmas, we dropped off all of the Christmas cards into the mail on Saturday morning. I enjoy concepting, creating and pulling them together but it is a tangible relief when they are all in the mail.

It is getting harder and harder to secure a “religous” themed stamp for the Christmas cards. I went with nutcrackers this year. Potential metaphors abound but don’t spend too much time connecting the dots; there really is nothing there. (Or is there?)

Two weeks from today my wife and I drive to Atlanta to pick up our daughter who will be returning from a semester in Italy. All indications are she will be home for a little while, not returning for the spring semester. Fine with me. I miss her.


Fabulous Friday Factoid

Roughly 70 percent of Americans who go to college do it just to make more money.


Emu-tional Moments

I have filled several 3-ring binders with drawings I have created over the years. Most of the drawings are projects I gave myself to pass the time, sort of like a hobby. The remaining are either paid jobs or not-paid jobs. In other words, I drew them with every intention of being paid but the project either fizzled or I never heard from the "client" ever again. This also includes the people, too numerous to count, who suckered me into doing a freebie with the prospects of "more paying work in the future." (Uhm, yeah.) Today I share with you one of the members of the latter category. Someone was going to market and sell emu oil for medicinal purposes and they approached me with the great idea of creating a cartoon character as the "spokesperson" which was an emu dressed as a doctor (or is that a doctor masquerading as an emu?). Regardless, I provided the artwork and for some reason the project never left the ground. (Irony Alert: Emu's can't fly!) Enjoy this one from the archives.