Thursday, September 1, 2016

I've Got a Train to Catch

The Hogwarts Express leaves today, and it's a tragic fact that I, or anyone I know and cherish, won't be on it, and that makes me sad. Over the past year or so, scrapily struggling with a myriad of physical challenges - torn Achilles, increasingly problematic ortho this and thats - that I don't like anything that brings with it even the faintest whisper of "sad." I don't like sad movies. I don't like sad books. I don't want to drift too close to serious subject matter. I just want some sunshine and a jaunty step. I won't like you very much if you drag me into the serious end of the pool when I'm still debating if I even want to get wet. Life is too transitory...too unexpectedly cruel...too unfair...and much too ambivalent. a train to Hogwarts would be nice. So it may make perfect sense that the goal this coming school year is to embrace joy, and plant seeds of happiness and eschew all things nasty and soul squashing. That's the goal, but I'm certain that it's not the reality of what will happen. It's worth a try though. I don't know a single soul that couldn't use a letter from Hogwarts in their life. Not one. Life is hard, and I really don't want to buy a helmet. A cauldron and wand, sure, a helmet, no.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fame Costs, and Right Here's Where You Start Sweat (said in best Debbie Allen voice)

Apologies for the lame "Fame" quote but it popped into my head and that's always the beginning of the end. This space needed some attention and so who cares how things get started? I kinda wanna ditch typing now though, and go watch some old Fame episodes. That doesn't make me a horrible person. It struck me over the past few days that this amazing garden full of every seed that's ever been planted in my life over the past seven or eight years has been neglected of late (really neglected), and so some of the best stuff has missed finding it's proper place in the shared experience of...this thing. That made me sad. There have been some unfathomably life altering things happening over the past few years that we've missed etching into the stone that this has always been, and to be perfectly honest, I've missed how it connects me to some of the best people that I know as well. This time a return to The Zoey Blog, has to work. It has to. Somehow I forgot just how famous this blog had gotten. I regularly get messages, to this day, about this post or that post, asking when we'll be rejuvenating things, etc... it was absolutely famous, and somehow we allowed it to stagnate and die. No more. I miss it too much. Time to start paying up, and catching up.

Friday, January 15, 2016

That place where there there is no sound...

I write when things get difficult, and so I have notebooks of scribbles from years of dealing with other peoples struggles, the kind that you shoulder whether you want to or not, and they then inspire your own understand, to console, to offer help. Sometimes I go back through those books, and I read the notes, but mostly I don't. Today I accidentally found the words that I scribbled when I met a boy who barely had enough time to become a man before the demons caught up to him. Words have always helped. Not the rules that go along with them, I don't like those, no, just the feeling of scribbling them, of typing them, or of how they sound together...sometimes even how they look beside one another. Some people like numbers or sounds. I like words. They almost always make sense when other things don't.

Today I found these words from three years ago...about a boy I'd just met, a boy no longer with us. I share them here because the sharing feels good when everything else just feels bad, and because it feels important that they're out in the world filling the space that he's left. I struggled to find a way to honour someone who didn't honour himself, and that's when the words came...and the only way to make them honourable is to show them to others.

They looked better on paper, in messy cursive, but here they are nonetheless...

"Why do this," she said...a Mom, and justified in her concern for her son. Addiction is difficult to be anchored to, to be helplessly tied to. "Because it's the right thing to do," he said, "it's what he deserves, I think," he added. Still, response, just quiet hesitation. "I think it's important just to be there," he urged, "to accept the discomfort of the situation, to lean into the helplessness and just choose to be there," he insisted. "That matters, doesn't it? It matters that I'm there when he can finally see, when he finally looks up and hopes that he recognizes something that doesn't remind him of what hurts. Don't you think?" The question was like heat lightning shooting across an empty sky. She blinked, and tried to speak but she struggled against the tears. Not unlike the storm that follows the lightning, when the sky opens up and begins to pour, her face darkened and something powerful pushed itself into that calm, quiet place. Her shoulders shuddered and she tried to restrain the deluge. It was no use. Her heart burst open like the sky and the tears flooded her flushed cheeks. "Thank you," she sputtered, "thank you so much." Then there was silence because in that place where truth and beauty intersect there is no sound. Where grace meets dignity there is often only the subdued silence of understanding. There was magic in that space between people he believed, and in that gentle moment he was certain that he was right. There...that feels better.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

...It Isn't Zoey

Buncha beauties - Point Edward Arena Jan 10, 2016
Maggie, June, and Mag's BFF, Keely, getting some ice time at the Point Edward Arena's public skate.

It seems that we've got one girl who likes to glide on one foot with the other extended out behind, and another who gets all smiley when she gets to knock someone over on the ice. So we may have a hockey player on our hands, and it isn't Zoey.

Zoey likes gymnastics. Maggie just stands there and judges everyone, refusing to even stretch.

Zoey checks her look out in the mirror most days. Maggie couldn't care less if she even has underwear on.

Zoey backs away from conflict. She's eager to diffuse situations that are uncomfortable. Maggie diffuses them too, but by diving in head first and making you regret flying that close to the sun.

A fight can bring Zoey to tears. A fight just gets Maggie all amped up.

Yup...I think we've got ourselves a hockey player...and it isn't Zoey.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where Sadness Lives

He had sadness living in places where sadness shouldn't live. It's easy enough to say, "he didn't deserve this," but then how many ever do? When Jacob (not his real name) first spoke with me I knew he was a boy who's story was going to get tragic. I never imagined it would happen so early, or with such finality.

Drugs are an awful thing. Don't ever let anyone romanticize them, ever. They're more often than not the building blocks of pain and lost potential. They're far, far too frequently the cloud that obscures not just the sun but the entire sky. They're unfair, and indiscriminate.

He was a boy with potential. Now he's just a memory with regrets all around it.

My words were mostly lost on him, I think. All of those times spent trying to convince him that he was allowed to take up space, or trying to explain to him what happiness looked like, when he had never known a day of it after the age of fourteen. It's hard to breathe when you don't think that you deserve air.

I'd be happy enough to never have to hug a grieving father again in my life.

Monday, January 4, 2016

So there's that scene...

So there's that scene in "You've Got Mail"...the scene where Meg Ryan is leaving her bookshop for the very last time and she turns to shut the lights out and oh so sadly reminisce, when she sees her mother and herself twirling...Yeah, that scene breaks my heart 1000 times over.

My favourite part..."all it really means is that something you didn't want to happen has happened..."

Given a series of "I wish I had a life like that" wishes, Meg Ryan's life as Kathleen Kelly, owner of "The Shop Around the Corner," the children's book store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a shop inherited from her mother, would rank embarrassingly high on my list. Closing it would shatter me. Watching it happen in a fictional movie breaks my heart into ten billion pieces.

See here's the thing, and it's quite a little thing, but it's my thing...

When you find a corner of the planet that is nearest, inspiring, where you know exactly what you're doing, and exactly how to do it...if you're lucky enough to stumble into that incredible place, that lovely place ('cause there's just no better word than lovely sometimes) where you never have to pretend or lie to yourself, where being who you are is's hard to give up. You're certain, and rightly so, perhaps, that you might never find it again. If you are lucky enough to love a place that deeply then, as Kathleen Kelly suggests, a part of you dies.

I tend to love that deeply.

I feel as though I've found that place eight, or nine, or ten times across the good fortune of my life, or I've come very close to it, and it strikes me that someday, maybe one day soon, I'll run out of luck...I won't ever find that place again. I found it on a bridge in Paris...on the edge of sea and sky in Big Sur, the Hartwig Building at the University of Michigan...above El Camino Real in San a Boys and Girls Club on London, a beach house in Brights Grove...on Clinton Street in Carroll Gardens, so many places that I fear I've used up my allotment. These days I stumble through a career that feels an awful lot like that...and I get to trip over a game that I love, and I get to give it to a hundred or so tiny people, helping to make them big people, and it feels oh so transitory, so dangerously...perfect. I worry that soon all of those moments will all just be fleeting memories.

I have a hard time watching Kathleen Kelly and her Mom twirling...a really hard time. It's a beautiful scene, but one that stomps on my soul. You can say what you want about that film, about my affection for it, but that scene...oh, that painful, excruciating scene...heart breaking brilliance. is it possible for Meg Ryan to look any better than she does in this movie? The quick's not.

Friday, January 1, 2016

You and Me Together...

We've sort of accidentally stumbled into a bit of a tradition...the annual Dave Matthews Band concert trip with our friends Jimmy and Kim and their son, Eli. Now that's it's 2016 the question looms...tour schedule? Where's the next road trip? In 2015 we met in Pittsburgh. The year before it was Cuyahoga Falls, OH. So...2016??

The crazy thing is that this year marks DMB's 25th Anniversary...kind of hard for my head to wrap itself around. We've been to about a million and a half shows it seems but these ones with Jimmy Whynot and family have become some of our favourites.

I dunno about Jimmy and Kim but I'm hoping for a Chicago show, or maybe Western New York. June wants to go the Gorge shows 'cause June doesn't F around. We always try to hit Toronto and Detroit shows, and maybe another in the mix, but are more than a little amped at the idea of a 25th Anniversary Tour. The fan club just emailed that 2016 tour dates will be released soon so...

It doesn't take much to make me happy, and Dave Matthews shows on green grass hills, in shorts and t-shirts, with friends, and a road trip thrown in just because...well, that makes me happy.

Thank God/Coach Harbaugh

Thank God we're good again.

That is all.

Go Blue!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

When You Suck and You Know It (aka Getting Your S#!t Together ASAP)

What a perfect way to tie 2015 up with a bow and mail it off to God knows where than by blogging again after months and months. I'll forever remember 2015 as the year that I lost myself.

The distractions were many, too many to count...and there was brilliance, you can't lose sight of that. There was a beautiful wife and family, tolerant, patient, and eager. There were new adventures, far flung but feeling like home. There was yet another year of not visiting this amazing space, a place partly ruined by something that I had written and a formal hand slapping at work because of it (the cork pulled in the bath tub of cosmic Zoey Blog energy). The year was so crowded with confusion that I wouldn't know where to begin. Instead, I'll focus on where to start.

2016 is going to be a good year, and not for any new agey, astrological, wishful thinking type reasons, but because I'm going to make it one.

Happy New Year friends and can''s time to stop sucking.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

For The Very First Time and Now Forever and Ever and Ever

For the first time in forever I saw her not as I knew her but for who she really was in that moment. This wasn't Zoey. It was a girl that looked like someone whom I knew, only frayed around the edges...only swollen and bulging in odd places, her brow, and the bridge of her nose. An allergic reaction to a mosquito sting, a bunch of mosquito stings, had left her swollen and having a difficult time breathing from her nose. She looked like my daughter only...different.

The notion struck me like a punch. What if this was what she had always looked like. It's one of those sneaking notions that only tip toes up behind parents. Twenty year old single men don't have such ideas. The instant it struck me I felt tears well up in my eyes, but not because I was upset at the notion of my beautiful daughter not looking like the stunning little girl that I knew, but because I loved her oh so much anyway...despite of the disfiguration. There were her beautiful eyes, the same ones that stared up at me as I rocked her to sleep as a baby. There was that smile, the one that drips with sweetness, overflowing with the sweetest of thoughts and words, and questions and sentiments. There was her mouth...her mother's mouth, full and soft to kiss. This was my stunning daughter disfigured or not, and I loved her more in that instant. For one quick second beauty became about what I knew her to be and not what she looked like. I'm not sure if I'll ever love her again like I did before least never again at any depth shallower than the one I'm now well over my head in. So this is love. I thought I knew it before...I didn't.

I once told a good, good friend who had just received the news that his son would be born with only a partially formed left hand...a fetal development called Amniotic Band Syndrome...that the news struck me as an incredible opportunity to love differently and more uniquely than your average parent. I sincerely saw it as a chance to experience love like few ever get to. Cash's left hand was a gift of unfiltered, unfettered love for the people who made him and those of us who have come to know the quiet, thoughtful child he is. I believed those sentiments to be true, with all of my heart. Today I saw my daughter through a different lens, one that I didn't expect to ever see her through, and I loved her more than I ever had. We all love our children but I suspect those of us who catch glimpses of them not as we imagined them to be some long distant 3AM, but as they really are actually do love deeper, with more of themselves, what I believe now to be the best parts.

The phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," doesn't begin to articulate the emotions. Today Zoey was beauty, and in an instant I threw that old lens away. Love, real love, is blind as a @#$%ing bat. I think that's something that you have to get sucker punched with.