Devon’s out of town, and downstairs, the rowdiest party ever to grace Chez Cohn is just getting underway. No, don’t worry – Devon was full well aware of the party plans before she left (in fact, I think its existence was part of the impetus for her skedaddling off for a couple of days).

The neighbors have been warned, and stereo’s cranked. The kitchen and family room are awash in teenagers fueled on pizza, Dr. Pepper, chocolate chip cookies and home-baked cheesecake. Because this is just how things roll when your kids are hosting an end-of-summer all-night Lord of the Rings marathon blowout. Which, gentle readers, they are.

I’ve gotta say, there are few things that validate close to two decades of anxious parenting as well as tiptoeing downstairs and sneaking a peek at the festivities. These are great kids. For the most part, they’re flopped around the living room floor like a thick, living teenage carpet, many in each others’ laps, waving slices of bell pepper and Doritos at each other while heatedly debating whether Peter Jackson was justified in omitting that scene where Frodo and Gimli discover…oh, I couldn’t even follow the debate.

But they were the ones who baked and brought the cheesecakes and cookies. They were the ones who loaded and ran the dishwasher when the sink got full. They were the ones who took complete responsibility – and I do mean responsibility – for putting everything together. All that was required of me was ordering the pizza and staying out of the way. And while “You can join us if you want, you know – you’re pretty cool, as far as dads go,” is sweet music, really, it’s better if I just stay out of the way.

Of course, dawn may find fault with this assessment – it’s entirely possible that tomorrow morning, as the last disk of the last hobbit movie spins unattended, I will be awakened by a call from federal agents asking, as discreetly as possible, whether I have any information about the liberally-toilet-papered armored car parked in our back yard. I think it’s unlikely, but I am going to sleep with the phone near my bed tonight.

In other, non-party-related news, I’m coming up for air on writing. I think I’ve got a second draft of the crappy novel close to finished, and am anticipating, any day now, word back on my NSF proposal to write that book on science in Antarctica. That word will likely be “no,” I’m sad to say; it was a damned good proposal, but I understand there were almost fifty applicants, and the program expected to only be able to fund a couple. And while I don’t know who this year’s applicants are, previous grantees include folks like Werner Herzog and Kim Stanley Robinson, so the competition tends to be rather, um, capable.

Regardless, it means I’ll be coming out of a period of single-minded focus, and should be in a mental place where I can start “just writing” more. Blog posts, travelogue, short stories, etc. If you’re reading this, you’ve already found the blog. But lemme know if you’d like to be on my “random fiction” list – used to be I’d come up with an off-the-wall short story or two every month that I was willing to share among friends, and I hope to get back to that soon.

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