Riding on the Shoulders

I’ve had the photograph for years. Taken in 1938 in Spokane, Washington, it’s a pic of my father and his parents on a motorcycle. It sits atop my office desk at home on Sunnyside Drive. I’m looking at it right now.

With the talent of some really creative Kansas friends, the photo will be on the cover of the book I’m writing. I hope it captures the essence and spirit of the story.

So... the book is done.

Beta read (x5), copy edited (x2), firewall copy edited. It’s in the hands of the publish on demand vendor and will be available for presale (whatever that means) sometime before the holidays, assuming the sky doesn’t fall.

It’s a creative non-fiction family memoir. Think The Glass Castle or Angle of Repose, two of the dozens of books I devoured in the runup to writing. Mine’s a period piece, taking place from 1931 to 1956 and is titled, Spifflicated (1930s slang for drunk).

A houseboat honeymoon down the Mississippi, a cross-country motorcycle adventure, on the front line of FDR’s New Deal projects, evacuation from Alaska in the weeks after Pearl Harbor, my grandmother’s “Rosie the Riveter” experience, a move to Kansas and the largest-producing oil field in North America.

Three years of purposeful conversations with my father about his troubled childhood with two alcoholic parents prompted me. Pop died a year ago, before it was done.

If you follow this blog or my social media posts, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a recovering alcoholic. Twenty-five years after my last drink, I share 25 years of the lives of those from whom I sprang, whose DNA and blood I carry.

A reviewer called it “an extraordinary memoir of dysfunction, sadness and redemption. Mike Matson captures the insidiousness of the illness of alcoholism in a way only one who has experienced it can. A story of one family’s journey through heartache, abandonment and eventually, forgiveness.”

Wow. Uh... holy crap.

I continue to struggle with the self-centered aspect of my illness and the concept of writing a book. My God, the entire enterprise just screams, “Look at me!” In that struggle, I take comfort in defining a target audience in three niches: friends, family and those in the addiction recovery community — giving and receiving.

(Oh, btw, during the writing of this book, I have learned the difference between the em and en dash).

So I got that goin’ for me. Which is nice.

I’m also building a website and this blog will eventually get migrated over there, once I figure out the widgets, summary blocks, extensible markup language and other technical stuff.

I’m glad it’s done. My wife is glad it’s done. (Omigod is she glad it’s done). Lady and Scout are glad it’s done. My extended family is glad it’s done.

It’s a book about systems and structures. What we know and what we don’t know. It’s about geology, theology and genetic predisposition. It’s about abandonment, loss and suffering. It’s about what we believe and the peace of mind we can achieve if we know how.

And it’s about all the shit that we let get in the way.

Riding on the shoulders of my father and his parents.