Well, once again I got myself embroiled in posts and comments on other blogs over the past month, neglecting my own blog even though I have a long list of things I'd like to blog about. I wish I could discipline myself to do short frequent posts, but that doesn't seem to be my mode...
And now it looks like I will have even less time for blogging through the end of the year, as I just had no fewer than three freelance book projects greenlighted. None of them are anything sexy (editing Powerboating for Dummies, writing a coffee-table book on temples, and writing part of a family-published biography of a man who led the way in the synthetic diamond industry), but my total remuneration should be upwards of $15,000 for all three projects. However, I will have to work most evenings and extra hours on weekends, probably at least 15-20 hours a week, and plus I will be teaching my usual college writing evening class, which will add another 4-6 hours on weekends when I have paper drafts to read and mark. My wife is going to be doing a lot more childcare and housework than usual, so she'll be helping earn the money too, and I may even need to enlist her help to grade papers, do some typing, etc. I'm actually kind of dreading the next six months, but the money will be great and I think it's good to build up my freelance portfolio in case I ever need to freelance full time for my living.
We just got back from four days in California, three of them in Disneyland and one day on the beach. I liked the beach day, which included stuffing our faces at a restaurant called the Crab Cooker, best of all despite some bad sunburn on my legs and a $47 parking ticket, but Disneyland had some fun moments too. I find Disneyland about 1/3 interesting and 2/3 tedious. If it were up to me, I would spend only one day in Disneyland and do something else on the other two days, but my wife comes from a Disney-fanatic family and always wants to do the three-day thing. Luckily, I was able to go back to our hotel to recover on a fairly regular basis, and I managed to avoid waiting in too many long lines in the July heat. My favorite thing about Disneyland is to observe all the logistics and branding and other work that goes into it, and I also enjoy people-watching (is it just me, or are there more obese people in the world than ever?). And of course, I get some mileage out of feeling like a good parent for providing this experience for my kids, even though the older two from my previous marriage were both rather difficult at times. We know families who go to Disneyland 2-3 times a year, which is unthinkable to me; we go more like every 2-3 years, often alternating years with Yellowstone. Growing up for ten years in Southern California, I probably went to Disneyland only 3-4 times total. It's better than Lagoon, but it's not that great.
Another thing that's been going on is trying to figure out how to proceed with my 11-year-old daughter Sophie, who has been living with us since February. Ann and I have gone the rounds about whether to sue for custody (her desire) or just work things out informally with my ex-wife Kathleen (my desire), and there's been some drama and about three thousand paid so far to a lawyer. For now, however, Kathleen has informally agreed to let Sophie stay with us through the next school year and I'm not suing right away for custody, and then I don't know what will happen. Sophie can be very generous and creative, and she has a great little sense of humor, but she is also highly stressful because she's constantly taking out her anger on our nine-year-old Austin, is a slob and a constant snacker, and is otherwise fairly high maintenance. I wish my 13-year-old son wanted to come live here, because I imagine we could give him better support for school and stuff, but he wants to stay with Kathleen. I'm quite concerned about him because he failed most of his seventh-grade classes and seems to be a loner (I haven't heard about him getting together with any kids his own age all summer). But he's extremely hard to talk to, and he's already physically bigger than I am, so I don't really know what to do except keep trying to make him feel welcome here and be a good example to him. Sometimes I think maybe he's just a typical teen, but other times I'm quite worried about where he's going to end up in life.
I've managed to see quite a few summer movies, but I don't remember any home runs. I saw the Batman movie Dark Knight today, which was quite good but a little too complicated in plot for me to follow well--several aspects of it slipped past me or confused me, and the movie felt too long. We took the kids to WALL-E, but that one didn't make it into my top tier of Pixar movies because it was too unbelievable and sappy (my top tier of satisfying Pixar movies includes the two Toy Story movies and The Incredibles). In fact, overall I liked Kung Fu Panda a little better than WALL-E, I think. Iron Man was fine but still just a comic book movie, and The Incredible Hulk was OK. The new Indiana Jones wasn't as disappointing to me as the Star Wars prequels but wasn't great either. Hell Boy II was really cool visually but didn't interest me much as a story or character-wise. One of my personal favorites may have been Get Smart, because it made me laugh hard. The second Narnia movie was pretty good for a sequel. But again, no home runs for a long time in the movie theater for me. In fact, several times this year I've wanted to go to the movies but have honestly not been able to find a single one that interested me enough to bother.
I've been a "permablogger" over at Mormon Matters for a few months now, but this week the blog owner kicked me off the blog, mainly because he doesn't like my views on homosexuality and gay marriage. I was a little mad about it, but it's for the best because I have so much other stuff to work on. I get really tired of so-called Mormons who are more beholden to the world's political correctness than to Mormonism. An issue like gay marriage is actually good for me church-wise, because it gives me more of a reason to stand with Mormonism, since it's so clear to me that the whole rise of the homosexual movement is a sign that our civilization is getting pretty sick. Without an issue like this to galvanize me, I tend to look at Mormonism as something boring that I don't relate much with, but if we're standing against gay marriage together, that's something I can get on board with. I've done a lot of writing on this topic on different blogs; maybe I'll have to compile it all here sometime.
Well, that's about it for now. With all the money we've been spending on vacations, Ann and I are currently in about the worst financial shape of our marriage, but luckily our income should pick up again soon here (it didn't help that I missed teaching a summer class). I gotta figure out a freelance work schedule that I can live with over the next several months. I wish I could work on my novel, but even if I could, I have to acknowledge that it's not likely to be published except by me, so it's really just a hobby to do in my spare time, of which I will have precious little for the foreseeable future. I don't feel any great desire to strategize a plot in whatever commercial genre and appeal to an audience that might actually lead somewhere; I prefer to just write what I personally feel like writing. As far as Zarahemla Books, for obvious reasons I'm putting it on the back burner through the end of the year, but I have four books in the pipeline that I hope to publish next year, if and when the authors give me their manuscripts. Oh, another weird, somewhat stressful thing is that I was recently inadvertently involved in helping an executive at my day job--a guy who I disliked both personally and professionally--move on in his career. I'll have to write down that whole story sometime, but not on my public blog.