I was actually a fairly accomplished writer before I undertook this project.
In my former life as Director of Planning for Saab in the US, I traveled to Sweden some 100 times to work with my Head Office colleagues on future product ideas, many of which actually saw the light of day and went on sale in the US market. These travels necessitated volumes and volumes of trip reports to keep my US colleagues up to dateat least I thought so.
The way I worked in the days before laptops was to make detailed notes on the plane back to the States after all these meetings, and then sit down in my office to write out the full report in longhand. I would then give this report, which most times numbered 20-30 typed pages (or more), to my secretary Lorraine to type up. She would then make 30 (or more) copies to send out to other executives and colleagues who I knew were just itching to receive the exciting news from Sweden.
As far as I could tell, perhaps as many as five recipients of these beautifully written reports actually read them.and this number included my secretary and one or two folks in my department.
I also worked on numerous Business Plans, analyses, and the like. The number reading these was significantly higher.perhaps as many as 10 or 12. But I was happy in knowing that I was letting people know what was going on in my part of the company.
Fast forward to 1998, some six years after I retired from Saab, and I decided that what I had written for Saab really was boring. I should have been happy that those few folks really did read them.
Bil gets fed up with Sappy Christmas Letters.
Along about this time I was getting annoyed with the Christmas Letter that I was receiving from friends. You know the kind. They always seemed to dote on their kids. Things like we are just so-o-o-o-o proud of our eldest, Buffy (they never use the term oldest), who has taken the year off after she graduated from Yale to study Japanese art in Kyoto (you of course know that Buffy graduated Suma Cum Laude, and will attend Yale Law School when she returns), and of course we are just so-o-o-o-o proud of our youngest, Biff, who is a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and who is near the top of his class. And we are also just so-o-o-o-o proud that Biff will be stroking the Oxford crew in their big race with Cambridge. You go, Biff!
Or the letters start off with a disasteryou knowAgnes crashed the car just before Thanksgiving and was in the hospital for three weeks, which just annihilated our Thanksgiving plans, and is putting a strain on Christmas as I write this letter. And earlier this year, we lost our Great Aunt Bertha, who was in her 90s (dear thing). And if that wasn't bad enough, we just lost our beautiful little Pekinese, Dorothy. Agnes hasn't stopped crying for a week.
So I started writing my own Christmas letters. I was determined that our lives would be far more full and exciting than those who were sending us the Christmas Letter.
And since my wife, Christine, and I didn't have any kids, I decided I needed to invent them. And these kids would not just be extraordinary like the ones in the Christmas Letterthey would be absolutely superior in all that they did in their rich and varied lives.
So, that took care of my Christmas Letter hang-up. I have included them all, from 1998 to 2013, in this book.
Bil starts writing pomes
Also, around this time, our friends Bill and Lynne Reed, who own Misty Valley Books in Chester, Vermont and who have sponsored a Poetry Night for many, many years, called to invite Christine and me to come to Poetry Night, which of course required bringing an original poem.
When Bill first called, I told him I knew nothing about poetryand wouldn't know a poem if it bit me in the buttand would certainly not be able to come.
A few days later, he called again. I was hard at work on a hot summer day on what was to become our family room, I was up to my eyeballs in sawdust and sweat, and I was tired and not in a good mood to hear from him. I told him to bug off.
A few days after that, he reminded me of the date of the next Poetry Night, and invited me again. I said no. He said, What, are you chicken? I said, No I am definitely not chicken. He said, Then what is your problem? Damn. OK, we will come.
My first pome (I have said many times that I don't know anything about poems) was about our first cat, Mr Grey, a tiger. Mr Grey was a foundling, and was given to us by our friends and neighbors Don and Liisa. He was a wonderful guy, and it was fitting that he was the subject of my first pome. Years later, Poetry Night participants still remind me how much they enjoyed that pome.
Well, after that I was off and running. I wrote 13 of the dumbest, craziest, and very occasionally, serious pomes, from 1998 through 2013. I still don't know what makes a good poem, but I was having fun with my pomes.
I wrote the other pieces in this book as various things came up, like the bio for my 40th Cornell Reunion or from things that just popped into my head. No particular rhyme or reasonmemories from my past, things happening around me, adventures I should never have gotten involved in, or stuff I just made up.
As the subtitle of this book says, it is a collection of convoluted, dysfunctional, strange, dumb, weird, off-the-wall, random... and sometimes sweet... writings serving absolutely no purpose at all except to please me.
I hope you enjoy reading them all the same.