To all my friends and family…

Thank you all for the birthday greetings. I enjoyed hearing from you all, especially considering my long absences from Facebook, Twitter, and my poor, neglected blog.

I wanted to let you know two things: it warmed my heart to hear from all of you, and my absence does not represent bad times at the Kauffman household.

I’ve been devoting a lot of time to rehabilitating my neck, strengthening and stretching the muscles above the waist. It feels constant, but it’s only several times a day – a few hours a day.

Adam is struggling a bit, socially, with the transition to third grade, and his first teacher who wouldn’t fit the warm, cuddly mold of Kindergarten. I’ve been trying to spend more time with him after school, either just talking about “stuff,” or finding common interests.

Plus, I’ve spent A LOT more time in my car since the office move. However, I’ve just learned our modest (to put it kindly) bus system (improbably) has a direct line from my neighborhood to my office – an hour or more away at rush hour. If my neck can handle the bumps, stops/starts, and jostling of the bus, I may be doing A LOT of Facebooking in the future ;-)

But enough with the excuses. Let me just say thanks one more time.

You all are the best.


Help out a good guy

Facing the SunMy friend Richard is having surgery. A pituitary tumor (it’s all in his head), unending migraines, and a body that doesn’t play nice in general, does not pave the road to financial stability. A hospital stay isn’t going to help.

So do me a solid. Help my friend with a donation. You’ll get some good reading in return – a collection of short works donated by his friends for this cause. Many of the contributors have been published, so it’s not like you’re getting fluff written by some hack like me.

Why him? As some of you may know I was in the hospital myself in 2007, fighting off complications from chemotherapy to treat leukemia. At the time I only knew Richard from a handful of comments exchanged on a blog. Yet I traded as many encouraging words with him as anyone during those weeks in the hospital. Some of them are in the archives of this blog.

There are many others with similar stories. That’s the kind of guy he is.

Think about it for me, will you? No amount is too small, even for a guy with a heart so big. You know what they say… “it’s the thought that counts.” Just knowing you cared enough to give will probably mean more to him than the money he gets – no matter how much he may need it.

That’s the kind of guy he is.


Those of you who know about my skating probably thought this post was going to be different. In order to satisfy your blood-lust, I’ll tell you: the thumb still hurts.

There! Are you happy now?!?

No, the true purpose is to announce a friend’s new book, now available at Amazon. You already know from my hobbies that my judgement is gold, so go pick up a copy or three. AND, if you haven’t read his first book… well, do I even have to say it?


You may take them for granted. I try not to – I can’t afford it, having so few of my own. It makes my absence from this space and others like it self destructive.

This year I’ll try to keep my head out my but. I’ll try to think about other people more than myself. I’ll try to give more than I receive. I’ll try not to let politics and current events have the final veto on my mood.

Fate isn’t waiting patiently in line to help, but I’ll try not to use it as a crutch – or an excuse.

Speaking of friends, a BIG thanks goes out to a friend I won’t name… we’ll just call him Butch. Adam has a project for Cub Scouts: building a “pine wood racer.” You start with a block of pine, four wheels, and turn it into car that will roll down a slotted track. Done right, it will get to the bottom of the track before at least some of the others.

Well, you may not know this about me, but I’m not a master carpenter. I’m not the lumber whisperer. I’m competent (sort of) with a hammer, drill, and saw, but you’ll never look at my work with anything approaching awe. So a block of wood representing a car’s potential is pretty intimidating.

Enter Butch. He’s the man with the skillz! Thanks to my friend, both my kids have really cool cars.

The truth about me

This is me.

This is not me.

This is who I’d be if I could be me without fear.

I’ve often wanted to talk about work in this space because it’s such a big part of my life – possibly too big.

There are three important things in my life: my family, work, and you. This poses several problems. You’ll notice there’s a big hole in that group. Nowhere do I mention friends. There’s no such thing in my life independent of these three groups. My only friends are my family, my co-workers, and you. Not everyone can count their family as their friends, so don’t think I’m not grateful for this bit of fortune. Many of us love our family. Some of us can trust our family. Not all of us can really count on them as friends – folks we can turn to in a pinch, or call on a whim to discuss what troubles us.

Work can be work, and even though I find value in what I do, what truly makes it special is the rapport I have with the people around me. But unlike some, that rapport stays at work. I rarely speak or interact with them away from the office. Inside, they are my friends. Outside I go my separate way. I don’t know why, other than the fear.

Then there’s you. The internet can be an amazing place, but when I think about it, the internet feels like having supercharged pen pals. The internet is a much faster way to communicate than the good old USPS and a first class stamp, but blogs, twitter, and everything else we call “social media,” are still mostly the printed word. We can learn a lot from them. We can even grow care about/for people through them. But we’ll probably never really meet. I’ll probably never recognize you by the sound of your voice. I’ll never shake your hand, give you five, or share a hug when it’s needed.

Maybe none of that should matter, and I certainly don’t want to alienate or diminish my fondness for any of you, but it does matter to me. It matters because outside of family and work, you are my only friends. While the internet can be an amazing place, it can still feel isolating, for the reasons I give above (even though they’re a bit vague, leaving them to wither alone as if they’re self evident).

That’s what it means to be me: the shy guy with my love and my very best friend Cheryl, a relatively small family, and a smattering of relatively loose connections I consider friends, who pass through my life rather quickly. Words flash on a screen, or turnover churns the mix at work, but either way it leaves me wanting.

Why don’t I connect with people?

Normally the question doesn’t bother me, but at times like these, with my wife and kids half way across the country, it plagues me. I’ve mentioned we’ve lived in our house for many years, but have I told you I can only name one last name among all the people around us? Have I told you I can only name two first names? Surely that’s not normal.

Folks aren’t obligated to be friends with their neighbors any more than their family – but people usually know their names… don’t they?

That’s the extent of my fear.

The sad truth is, if you were next door I probably wouldn’t know your name. I still wouldn’t shake your hand, give you five, or share a hug when it was needed.

You may not understand. I wish I understood. I wish any of the “professionals” I’ve seen really understood.

It’s not as depressing as it might sound. It’s all I’ve ever known. Mostly I don’t feel alone – because I’m not. I have my family, my friends at work, and you. But take either of the first two away for any period of time and I’ll carry the loneliness like a dark, heavy cloak – masking all of my life’s color from others and myself.

Although it doesn’t always bother me, no matter what I do the fear never goes away.

This is me.