Mar 182011

I read something the other day that claimed, “Forty is the new twenty.” On really, really good days—on days when there is a little less clicking and popping when we get out of bed—maybe.

When I was in my twenties, a bunch of us rented a condo in Vail for spring break. It was a ski-in-ski-out with a balcony that looked right at a chair lift. Since there were about twenty of us piled into two rooms, and it was the tail end of the season, by Vail standards, it was cheap. In the morning I woke up next to empty beer cans, dirty ashtrays and empty pizza boxes, slapped on my ski boots, and tore up the slopes like…well…like you do when you’re in your twenties, skiing four days straight, stopping only to pee. I came home with an impressive tan, and a beautifully fit windburn.

Last year I turned forty, and decided to take yet another ski trip, this time with some family, out to Breckenridge. The condo was nicer, more expensive, less crowded, no ashtrays, and beer bottles—not cans. I had my own bathroom and a hot tub outside my bedroom door. After the first day of skiing, my boots felt like concrete blocks, and despite my preemptive Advil strike; I could not walk down the stairs. After the second day, I couldn’t walk up them. I took to buying “half” day lift tickets and told my family to meet me on the patio for an après ski beer. “I’ll buy,” I said. I came home with a hangover, a rash, and what I believe may have been a torn meniscus.

Next week marks the beginning of Spring Break 2011, and there’s no snow in the forecast, at least not in mine. I’m leaving my skis in the closet, and heading down to San Antonio to crash the sabbatical of a priest friend. While crashing a sabbatical sounds like a ton of fun, it does not, in my opinion, seem like “new twenty” behavior. It does, however, seem decidedly forty. Thank the Baby Jesus. The hotel has four stars and a mini bar. Evidently, there’s a river walk, and of course, there’s the Alamo. There will be sitting and sunscreen, and conversations that start with, “Where are we eating next?” If all goes according to plan, I will kick the “new twenty” to the curb with a few extra pounds, and a pair of awesome cowboy boots, which I’ve always wanted but could never afford. And I will come home as Wisconsin white as I am today.

Mar 082011

Adventures in Self-Publishing—Take Two.

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is now available at Boswell Books on Downer Avenue, the Milwaukee WaterFront Deli, the Boelter SuperStore, and Fitzgerald’s Pharmacy.

The book is online with an Amazon rating of 60,779. Funny how hilarious and humbling are such great Karmic pals. It’s on the shelves—last name beginning with “P”—Plath, Plato (Cher, Bono, so much for originality), Poe, Potter. Not bad company there. It’s in the trunk of my car, next to the loose change, snow pants, ski poles, and a pair of really expensive sunglasses that belong to I-Have-No-Idea-Who. And, most importantly, it’s in hands.  It’s in the hands of family and friends, and it’s in the hands of strangers, which frankly, has been scary enough to produce a bit of a rash on my forehead.

Press release—check, responses—zero, though there was the tiniest blurb in the Cue section of yesterday’s paper, for which I will take full credit.

Stalking booksellers around town—check.

Stalking various traditional and social media outlets—check.

Stalking friends and family who live in St. Paul, St. Louis, Denver, Chicago and Omaha—check.

Stalking Ellen Degeneres—check.

Thinking about stalking Oprah, but I’m scared of Oprah for reasons I can’t quite explain. It could be the simple fact that my Mac recognizes her name. It does not underline it in red the way it does Degeneres. This is unnerving for some reason. Oprah is not in my Webster’s—I looked. It goes right from Oppunger; that which opposes, to Ops; strength, riches, Roman Goddess of the harvest. There’s something ironic about the fact that, if Oprah were to appear in my Webster’s, she would land atop a word that in Latin means “Plenty,” and in Sanskrit means “Goods and Property.”  Hmm…perhaps I will start stalking her.

Until next time—Happy Reading.