New Year’s Eve Perfection

At age 5. Staying up until 10:00 pm and falling asleep in front of the fireplace, magically waking up in my own bed.

At age 15. Drinking Sparkling Catawba juice (Mennonite Champagne) with my family. Saying good-night to the sleepy folks around 11:00, and wishing very much I had my driver's license.

At age 25. Going out with my wife of one year to Riverplace, downtown Minneapolis. Watching fireworks, listening to rock music, and experiencing the feeling of very un-Mennonite champagne dripping down my head.

At age 35. Staying awake all night … holding my months old son, so sleep-deprived I did not realize it was New Year's Eve, begging the boy to stop wailing and fall asleep so I could, too.

At age 45. Tonight. Three kids. Big TV. Five movies. A break from veganism and a dish of pre-cooked shrimp, AND an absolutely gorgeous wife. Score.

It might have taken me forty-five years to achieve New Year's Eve perfection, but it was worth the wait. Happy New Years All!


Reading Glasses

Reading glasses. Yep. That's what the eye doc said. 

I've always been pefect that way, near, far, in-between, 20/20, crisp, sharp, practically x-ray vision, and yeah, darn proud of it. This is why it took me for a loop when he said those words. 

"For now, just some mild readers, but by the next time I see you, we'll probably be talking something stronger."

The next time he sees me? I will not be going back anytime soon. Maybe next decade. 

It's a terrible situation–the list.

First went the ankles (broomball, you know). Then the knees (more broomball). Followed by the back. But those body failures were due to me doing something. They were like a badge of honor. My eyes? Shoot. I just got older. These are READING GLASSES! I didn't do anything. 

So I picked them out. There is no such thing as a cool pair of reading glasses. The case isn't even cool. Like they think I'm blind and can't see how dorky they look on my face. 

What did you get for Christmas? Me, oh, I got proof of my mortality. I got reading glasses.

Merry Christmas!

I Things

The conversation at the Apple Store went as follows:

Me: Okay, I have a MacBok Pro.

Igor: What are you running? 

Pause here. 

Igor: You know, Snow Leopard, Lion, Skunk (He listed a bunch of anmals)

Right here, I knew I was in trouble. 

"Let me start again, cause my question is really about my iPad."

"iPad 1 or 2?"

Igor was vaguely interested. He glanced around the store and answered whoever spoke to him on his earpiece and punched stuff into his GPS like device AND spoke to me. Multi-tasking.

"It's white, does that help?" That's me again.

"No." Now Igor began searching for another customer.

"Listen, Igor, the last time I spent a weekend in this store trying to purchase an iPod, they told me that all the music came from iTunes and that I needed to sync the iPad and the iPod and the MacBook and then use iTunes to iGet the stupid iSongs from the iNet. Is that right?"

We were way off grid for Igor. "Have you made an appointment at the genius bar? They can help you."

"You can help me!" I actually grabbed his iForearm; he looked at my iHand, startled and confused. "I want to sync. I just need to sync. I've been in here three times and everyone tells me I need to sync, so just tell me how to sync and I'll leave."

He then talked about USB ports and apple paswords and accounts and the surface temperature of Minsk. I don't like to get upset. But I need it simple. This iCord in this iHole and press this iButton.

"So do you have an iSheet with directions that I can take home and follow? A syncing sheet?"


I spun and left Igor. I am not in sync. I can't download anything. My iTunes is as useless as my iDevices and my iBrain can't figure out what iGor was trying to tell me. I am sure that all my wonderful iThings are fantastic.

But right now, I'm quite tired of any technical device that starts with a little i.

TWISTED Tour Stop!

How do you define the “Best Night Ever?” Does going on a mini shopping spree, having dinner out, and seeing your favorite music act live in concert sound like it would do the trick? If so, read on!


To celebrate the release of, TWISTED, the third book in her Intertwined series featuring Aden Stone, Gena Showalter is rocking out with her author buds on The TWISTED Tour. The tour spans almost two weeks and 11 author websites, including this one, from August 22nd through September 2nd. The Grand Prize winner will be awarded all the essentials for a perfect night out, including:


- $250 Ticketmaster Gift Card

- $100 American Eagle Outfitters Gift Card

- $100 Visa Gift Card for Dinner

- Glam Urban Decay Makeup Gift Set


A Second Prize winner will receive an autographed set of Gena’s Intertwined series, including INTERTWINED, UNRAVELED and TWISTED.


HOW TO PLAY: Visit and check the tour schedule. Visit the sites of each author on their assigned tour date and locate the concert ticket image.


At the end of the tour, fill out the form on the aforementioned TWISTED Tour contest webpage by matching the images you found to the authors’ websites that they were located on before Sunday, September 4th at 11:59pm ET. The winners will be randomly drawn and notified on or around September 9th, 2011.



Good Luck & ROCK ON!


TWISTED Tour Author Quiz: When I Was a Teen…

1. What did you do during your “Best Night Ever” as a teen?

Seriously? I know the statute of limitations has run out on that night, but you couldn't pry it out of me.

2. What musical act topped the charts?

Prince. Appearing at First Avenue. Toughest ticket in town. Didn't help that he was local.

3. What was the most overused expression by you and your friends?

I'm thinking um or uh. Come to think of it, those are still my most overused expressions.

4. What did you think you would be when you “grew up?”

Anything but bald. That's a tragic irony.


ALA. That was a mighty nifty weekend. For those of you who are acronym challenged as I am, it stands for (the) American Library Association, and they had their big Annual event in New Orleans.

I'd not been to New Orleans, well, not really. I drove through it on the way to doing some Katrina relief years ago, but driving through it doesn't really give you the flavor. 

I'm not entirely sure hanging out in the French Quarter gives you the flavor either. Bourbon Street, Canal Street, they all seem like the kind of place nine out of ten tourists visit, but one out of four locals ever go. It's a different world, for sure.

But I'm off track. I really just wanted to thank Jacque (pronounced Jackie if you're reading this aloud) and Gwen and all the cool Zondervan people who gave Jacque her Zondercard for the wonderful time. And a big thank you to Harper Collins who made it possible.

Mighty kind folks. And for all the smiling librarians, media specialists, information techs, authors and students who stopped on by, I wish you the best of weeks! Let's do it again next year.

My Favorite Songs

I heard a kid singing yesterday. A little kid. Five, maybe six. I don't remember the lyrics, but I can give you the soul of the thing:

Oh, Baby why do you make me feel so bad? I'm lying alone tonight wondering where you are. Etc. Etc.

When I was five, I spent very little time wondering where anybody else was, certainly while in bed. But that's not what got me thinking.

See, I loved to sing when I was a kid. If my heart wasn't being wrought in two, what was I singing about? I will now provide you with the Jonathan Friesen five-year old iTunes playlist.

1. B-I-N-G-O and Old McDonald Had a Farm  (These blur in my mind, probably the EIEIO and the BINGO thing.)

2. Row, row, row your boat. (I sang this over and over. A round, they called it. You can't sing Lady Gaga in a round . . . WAIT, YOU CAN. I just tried it with Telephone / Bad Romance. Horrifying.)

3. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (I had no idea this was about death until like, last year.)

4. Free to be You and Me! I have completely forgotten this song! Tragic.

5. It's a Small World After All   This was a classic that meant absolutely nothing as I sang it.

6. Ninety-Nine bottle of Beer on the Wall    (This was a bus song. It must have driven teachers crazy, although I don't remember reaching one bottle) Special note: When parents were around the beer was changed to pop. Go figure.

7. Jesus Loves Me.   This was an all purpose tune. Probably the only one still on my playlist.

8. Old Uncle Ned  My Dad played this depressing ode to me at bedtime, but somehow he could sing about an old guy slowly decaying and it was all right.

9. MICKEY MOUSE  (Mickey mouse. DONALD DUCK! Mickey Mouse. DONALD DUCK!  You sorta had to be there.)

10. Oh, Home on the Range   I'm not sure how this cowboy tune snuck into our house, but I loved it.

11. Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore    I have no idea what Michael was doing on the water in the first place, or what waits for him. The other verses were equally confusing. Something about Sisters and Brothers.

12. How Much is that Doggie in the Window?   An existential question! This always left me feeling melancholy. It never resolves. You just stop singing. You don't get a dog. The puppy is still stuck behind the glass.

I'm sure I missed some, but that's a good start. If any of you find an eight track with these twelve tunes, I'd pay a pretty penny. Wait, you couldn't fit twelve on an eight track. Or could you?

The Inspiration of Justin Bieber!

I worked very hard today. Yep. I spent hours and hours and hours writing. I was trying to think of just the right words to create just the right feel, and it was a tough one. Things weren't going my way, as it were.

So, I took a break and read some news articles. Turns out that the most important event reported in the world today was Justin Bieber's (I don't know if I spelled that right) income. This is a trend. A few weeks ago I found out that Justin Bieber has a tattoo. Yahoo! showed a close-up. This was more important than the economic report, apparently, but I digress.

As I said, I was taking a break and discovered that last year JB earned (made) 53 million. WHICH IS THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT I MADE! HOW INSANE IS THAT? Well, give or take.

And I thought, what a profoundly talented young man he must be to have such a hefty portfolio. (I know little about him.) I went to YouTube. You're probably way ahead of me on this one, but I watched a video of one of his songs–Baby, I think it was called. Turns out I'm not the only one to have seen it. 

From his video, I gleaned some crucial get rich secrets which I will now share with you.

1. Bowl. This seemed especially important to Justin. But do not attempt Co-Ed bowling. Girls on one lane, boys on the other. This is important.

2. Hand gestures. While experiencing any emotion, it is beneficial to throw your hands out in the direction you are facing. 

3. Stand against a wall. If you stand with your back against a wall, good things happen. You are allowed to dance, emote, close your eyes–anything. Just remember: Back to the wall. This is a good thing.

4. Find friends who talk. You must sing and gyrate. But you can have friends who talk. JB's friend appears midway through and starts talking. (They may also make hand gestures.) I did not understand him, but that doesn't seem to bother anybody. Nor does the fact that he's three times Justin's age. But whatever.

5. Hair. It must point in the same direction as your nose. Forward and sloped down. As I am bald, this is the part of the get-rich plan I may struggle with.

6. Sing inspired lyrics. I took careful notes here as I'd spent all day struggling to write powerful pages. I came away feeling like maybe I needed to simplify. As far as I could gather, Justin got away with:

Baby. Baby. Baby. Oo.

Like Baby. Baby. Baby. No (or Noo)

Baby. Baby. Baby. Oo.

I thought you'd always by mine (or nine, which at times seemed appropriate).

So there you have it. The six steps to wealth. Again:

Bowl. Hand gestures. Stand against walls. Find friends who talk. Nose-sloped hair. Inspired lyrics.

See, it really isn't that hard. The next time you struggle to pay that bill, don't fret. Just throw that hair forward, grab a bowling ball, and fling yourself against a wall. You can do this, baby!


A sincere thank you–and good luck–to all who entered The Last Martin Writing Contest. I wish we could keep taking submissions, but unfortunately, I'm told we can't.

I can't wait to read the pieces sent my way, and to meet one of you in person!

Again, thanks for participating. Look for the winners to be posted all over my website:


Dumb Wood Ticks

Today I met a dumb wood tick. I liked him/her. I'm sure there is a way to tell gender, but today all I cared about was her (I'm tilting female here) IQ. And it was low.

I spent a good piece of today in her territory. High grass, tall weeds. Wood tick paradise. So when I came in I gave myself the inspection. Sure enough. Mid-thigh, right leg, dumb tick.

I reached down, gave a slight tug to ascertain just how deep she'd gone, and pulled. Easy release. I said a few words–gave her a good scolding–and sent her the way of all toilet paper. It's hard not to feel a bit sad for the buggers as they swirl helplessly, but such is life.

Now back to the dumb part. She likely started at the boot and crawled up, wearing out on the leg and setting up shop. Dumb. 

See, I'm not twenty-two anymore. Nope. Had she crawled onto the belly, she'd have found plenty of nice rolls in which to hide. And not just on the stomach. Everything on me is just . . . saggier. There are great hiding spots all over. I'm a wood tick's hide-and-seek dream.

But no. Not dumb tick, She came to a halt in the one place I can see without much effort, without contorting and messing up my back. Leg. Middle. Front.

So here's to all you stupid thigh-loving wood ticks. Eat your heart out. Or get smart–my septic is a rotten place to spend your final days.