Archived Opinion

Another deadline – not a problem

Everywhere I go, I get the same question: “How do you do it? How do you find the time and energy to write a column when you have a full-time job and a family, especially when you’re in charge of the kids, ages 5 and 2, while your wife is working during the weekends?


How do you find the time to write with all of these other responsibilities bearing down?”

I appreciate your concern, I do, but please do not worry about me. I may have a lot to learn about parenting, but I have been a professional columnist for nearly three decades now, and, believe it or not, you could put me on a Ferris Wheel blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back, and I would have a 750-word column written and edited before the ride was over, even if I had to scratch it out on the seat with a pen knife.

You see, writing requires intense concentration, the ability simply to blot out all distractions and focus like a laser beam on the task at hand. Over the years, I have become a laser beam columnist, able to focus completely on my column regardless of what is going on around me. Ambient noise is nothing to me. Bring it on, your clattering and clinking and clashing, your booming and banging and barking. Won’t bother me a bit.

Take today, for example. Here I am at home, facing another deadline. Tammy is at work and I have the kids. I have already prepared and fed them a delicious lunch consisting of leftovers and “magic sauce” (barbecue sauce mixed with Ranch dressing). All I need to do now is get them involved in an activity, and I can begin writing my column. I think I will set them up with an art project — that should buy me an hour, if all goes well.

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Excuse me a moment .... OK, I’m back. They’re painting now, so here we go. I’m locked in and ready to write. I’ve cued up Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” my standard column-writing soundtrack, and we’re ready for takeoff. Nothing can distract me now. All I need is a topic. I haven’t had much time to think about it, actually, but that is OK. I’m a professional. Throw any topic at me and I’ll churn out 750 words on it in the blink of an eye: The mating rituals of the boll weevil. Why corn dogs taste better with beer. Should Bush fire the Attorney General? Pick a topic, any topic. I am focused and ready to write.

Wait just one second .... “No, Jack, Kayden has her green paint and you have your green paint. We have to share, remember?”

That was nothing, really. Where was I? Anna Nicole Smith, yeah, that’s it. Did you hear that her diary sold for half a million dollars on eBay? Can you believe that anyone would pay $500,000 for Anna Nicole Smith’s diary? Anne Frank, maybe, but Anna Nicole Smith?

It really isn’t so hard to imagine what is in the diary, is it? For one thing, she never really kept much of anything a secret. She had her own reality show, people. Her life WAS her diary. For another thing, she was not exactly Gertrude Stein. You don’t need to spend half a million to imagine how the diary might read.

April 14 – Dear Diary, I feel fat in these jeans. Remind assistant to throw out doughnuts.

April 15 – Dear Diary, old guys treat me nice. If I married a really old one with a lot of money, I bet I could eat all the doughnuts I want.

When you think about it, the high price paid for Anna Nicole Smith’s diary is actually a metaphor ...

Sorry, just a second.... “No, buddy, you cannot paint the cat. Turn him loose. No, he doesn’t want to be green like Kermit.”

Whew, that was a close one, but it’s under control and we’re still rolling. See how easy this is?

Let me reiterate, then, that watching college basketball is not a CHOICE. It is purely genetic, hardwired into us before birth. Frankly, I’m surprised we are not born in little sweatshirts with Carolina, Duke, or NC State emblems on them.

Oh, man.... “Sweetheart, you cannot put daddy’s CDs into the toaster, OK? Drop those CDs and move away from the toaster. Thank you.”

Shuler must be given credit, then, for voting his conscience. In looking at a timetable for withdrawal...

“No, you most certainly may not have a Popsicle. Well, you should have thought of that when you refused to eat your lunch with the magic sauce.”

All I’m really saying here is that there are alternatives to paying these high gas prices. At some point, we must, as a society, take a harder look at our dependence on ...

“She’s not really a wolf, buddy. It’s just a mask. Please don’t cry. Sissy, tell him you’re not a wolf. No, take off the mask first. You’re freaking ME out.”

“If you guys don’t calm down, I’m going to put you both in time out. Just wait until your mother gets home!”

And that is it in a nutshell, dear readers. When you reflect on what I’ve said here today, I think you will all agree that spring really is the best time of year.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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