Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just One More Tigers

So as Zoey wailed her beautiful little eyes out tonight I nearly bawled mine out too watching the Tigers take one step closer to a pennant. All the fellas need now is a win in Thursday's game against the Twins and BLAM...playoffs!

Earlier today I was billing the game as "The Tiger Killer vs. That Toledo Mud Hen" but boyo did Bonine ever show up and did Povano ever look Joe Regular? What a night. I feel guilty that I couldn't have helped June more but there wasn't much for me to do. Thank God for the Tigers to fill this gaping hole of relevance in my life. Right now I'm as useless on occasion as a squirrel with three teets.

Belly Buttons and other things that make no sense

Belly Button Book

I understand the whole umbilical cord thing...makes perfect sense...but how come our belly buttons hafta look so stupid? I mean, we cut the umbilical cord and that's pretty much a nasty wound but then it doesn't heal like any other wound ever does. I've never cut my finger and ended up with this weird lookin' hole where the cut was...It's just odd.

This is one of Zoey's favorite books now. It's Sandra Boynton's Belly Button Book and Zo loves it. She's also a spaz about Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard, and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. The Bergquists got Zo that one and she's a big fan, mostly of chewing on it but also of flipping the pages and pretending like she knows what she's doing. She also holds it high above her head and screams like Lou Ferrigno from time to time, which is fine 'cause she's neither green nor deaf...or angry for that matter, or a large overdeveloped muscular dude, so I guess she doesn't resemble Lou Ferrigno at all...maybe she just resembles Zoey holding a book over her head and yelling loudly, I guess that's about it.

Our bedtime routine has become one of my favorite parts of the day...of course, it's June who sits with her while she wails herself to sleep and I sneak off to watch the Tigers game and pay some attention to our other child, Debu...It's the pre-sleep stuff that I like...the post-bath, naked play time, the book shoulder presses and all that fake reading. Then there are all of the uber-happy Zoey smiles. She's loaded with 'em post-bath. You just look down on those big blue eyes and that busy little kid steals your soul like her bedroom floor were some dark Mississippi crossroads. I know, its totally unfair...

Zoey Floor Penaten

Some nights she's perfect, like last took a whole 15 minutes to help her slip off to sleep...and other nights it's ugly, and thank God June is a certified saint...7:30pm quickly turns into 10pm and I just don't know how she does it. It must be a Mom thing 'cause I lose my head in a ridiculously shorter time frame. Thank God for June or both Zoey and I would need therapy. I don't get how it works but it just does...Moms instantly grow these crazy skills that Dad's are practically incapable of unless we actually evolve like some Galapagos sea creature...It just makes no sense and I think if I try to figure it out my head will explode. So I don't...

This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man...

June & Zo

When you've got a chance to invoke some "Big Lebowski" in the post title... why wouldn't you?

The Zedder managed a good five second solo stand today and we were a bit aghast. June just let go of her and she decided that she didn't quite feel like sitting down yet. So there she stood, at least a good five, maybe six seconds before she chose to plunk her butt back down on the carpet. We called both Grandmas...why wouldn't we?

Zo was officially 8 months old a few days ago and it seems like we're in the stretch run now. It won't be long before there are steps taken, before there are words spoken, before she brings home the wrong boy, before she calls home for money. It's all moving so quickly.

First words and first steps are gonna kick my face in. I can't even believe I'm a Dad I'm mere months away from a little independant funster telling me "no" whenever she feels like it...and then walking away.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary...wet, cold, and dripping with Lipton Soup

Wet Comerica Pk

We were supposed to be here tonight...Comerica Park and the Twins-Tigers first game of a four game series. Instead, I'm in bed watching MNF while June's shrugs off our second anniversary. We rolled through our evening with Lipton Cup-o-Noodle and toasted tomato sandwiches for dinner, a baby to bath and now bedtime.

Damn you germs, and damn you rained out baseball game.


Suspicious Zo and her Asinine Apple Aversion

Suspicious Zoey eating

Zoey's a good eater. She hardly gains as much weight as she does inches, but she's always been a good eater. Now, since she's turned eight months, her diet changes significantly. She's been transitioning for awhile, but this latest shift has made dinner time fun to watch.

As Steph would attest, she's a naturally suspicious girl, and new foods are entertained with the funniest of furrowed brows and a hesitancy that borders on refusal. She's good to give things a go after a quick inspection but some of this new diet has not met with her approval.

Cereals and assorted grain

Those puffy snack

Peaches, blueberries, fruity

Squishy vegetable


And when Zo runs head first into a "no way" type culinary experience, she balks faster than Dave Stewart did for the 1988 Oakland A's...and that's fast (Stewart balked a record 16 times that season). She half gags, and half allows her mouth to go on strike until the foreign matter is removed...either by falling out or by extrication via outside parties. It's hilarious. If you've never watched someone's mouth go on strike like they were a UAW ratified factory pre-auto industry collapse then you're missing out. It's too funny to watch.

Zoey looking up banana
Zo is either hankering for that hunk of banana or fighting Mom off...either way she has skills.

She's eating less and less from the food factory that June carries with her under her shirt, but we'll be awhile yet with the weaning process. It'll be this eighth month that we work on less and less boobie, more and more babysitting and time away, all while curiously watching to see if Zo's mouth goes on strike on a regular basis or just temporarily.

Careful, don't step in my cold. Watch yourself...

Rainy day

A cold moves much faster than I ever manage to. I woke up and felt the weight of a sleepless night square on my shoulders but felt the tinge of a cold on my drive in to work. I quickly chucked back some Echinacea and some Vitamin C, a double dose, and as soon as school was done I headed home for bed.

Happy Anniversary June. I'd say I love you but it would more accurately sound like "lub." Them's the breaks they say.

You have a card, honest, but it out in the car and it's raining. I have you a gift, but it's not something I can wrap up and hand you, all dripping with cold cooties. I'm more inclined to lie here and feel the sickness slowly overtake me like we were running some sort of immune system road race. If that were the case this cold would be Usain Bolt while I was John Goodman with an 80 yard head start. My God these things move quick.

So if you need me, or if you are looking for our anniversary, it'll be laying right here with me in a pitiful germ orgy of emasculated sadness and best intentions.

Happy day...two years of irrevocable awesome later and we're still bowling strikes. I'm not really sure what that means. Can you check me for a fever?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A bold philosophy to follow the "Irrevocable Summer of Awesomeness"

I've decided thanks to a random post title over at Johnny Cupcakes blog that this Fall, WInter, and Spring will be tackled with the vigor and weightlessness of an endless summer, hence the term that will best define the next eight months -- Our Endless Summer.

I dunno how we're gonna manage it but somehow we're going to rally through falling leaves, snow and rain, and carry on some kind of Hawaiian legacy here in Southwestern Ontario.

Prepare yourself for nauseating "Endless Summer" posts woven randomly throughout this loving diatribe...we'll do the same.

Step three weeks of holidays at the end of December and start of January.

Step two...spend them in warm climes and only partially clothed.

Step three...get your ass in better shape (and by "ass" I don't literally mean my ass, it was more of a general all inclusive remark).

The Ultimate Oxymoron - A Guys List of the Most Romantic Films Ever

In my fit of absolute deplorable husbandry I got to thinking what movies are the most romantic through my know, in the head and heart of a fella, a guy, a dude, a man, me...dufus squared. What movies make me grin with a soft swoon and some wishful thinking?

Serendipity - It helps that Kate Beckinsale is absolutely adorable, but the hook is set with a backdrop of NYC and a close to ideal friendship between John Cusak and Jeremy Piven.

Little Manhattan - Shouldn't love always feel like this?

Before Sunrise - It's only a fantasy if it never happens.

Humboldt County- Sometimes a love story only starts with the girl.

Almost Famous -Falling in love is a lot more than just boy meets girl. Sometimes it's boy meets the wrong girl.

Before Sunset - Julie Delpy's "meltdown" scene is drenched in the way love must feel when it's just out of reach.

Beautiful Girls - It doesn't get much more familiar for most of us than Timothy Hutton realizing what he has.

Stealing Beauty - Only a Tuscan landscape can overshadow a young Liv Tyler.

Casablanca - "She's coming back, I know she's coming back." Not always Rick, not always.

For Love of the Game - If she's the right girl there isn't much that matches the completeness of what she can give you...maybe nothing.

This list, as incomplete as it might be, suddenly and with the strength of a Joe Louis smack to the jaw, reminds me that there is no great California love story. Of my two favorite places in the planet -- New York City and California -- there are infinitely more romantic stories on those Manhattan streets than there are on those Southern California beaches. Maybe someone should get busy writing the great California love story.

Maybe I should get busy typing less emasculating things?

Just Another Guy...

I nearly spent my second anniversary at Comerica Park with my friend Corey. If it weren't for a walk by myself along the beach this afternoon I might never have realized that although as little as two days ago I was stressing what kind of gift to give my wife I had thoughtlessly gone and purchased tickets for Monday's Twins-Tigers game down on Woodward Ave.

Turd. That's what I am.

I quickly called Corey and cancelled, allowed the guilt to flow over my psyche like Bridalveil Falls washes over Yosemite granite. June laughed and shrugged it off while I fully embraced the embarrassment of my error. I've always thought that I had somehow eluded the larger curses of my gender while embracing the lesser. Turns out I suck just like the rest of us.

Best intentions...completely stupid and performing several dozen prostrations before my loving wife. #$%damnit I can manage some sucky things.

I'm slowly shaking this off but I don't understand how I could solicit advice and ponder a gift on Friday, buy a card and settle on a little something that fits our budget on Saturday, and then manage to forget all of that by Sunday? if I needed any further evidence as to the superiority of the female gender.

We can't go on together...with suspicious minds

Zoey suspicious

I woke up this morning after an entire night of whacko dreams -- dreams of complete jibberish and nonsense -- so profoundly messed up that I couldn't recall a single memory of one. I woke up confused, with my motor neurons firing at a rate lower than some meth amphetamine addicts. I could barely speak English when I sat up from my slumber. It took me two and a half minutes to figure who June and Zoey were. I thought I was made of plastic, or perhaps that I was Elvis...same thing.


When the clouds passed and the sun peeked through I realized I wasn't a figment of my own imagination, and that June was my wife, and Zoey my beautiful daughter...I was in my bedroom, and the world was just as it should be. The Michigan Wolverines are 4-0 and Mackenzie Phillips is still creeping everyone out. Both my grass and hair need cutting and all I really need is three beers to feel like dirt (Disclaimer: 16oz beers). James Brown is still dead and we have no milk in the fridge.


We spent most of the evening with friends last night and Zo was perfectly delightful. She played well, she spread herself around with a sort of reserved abandon, if that's even possible...and she bathed and bedded down in a strange place with little, if any, more fussing than she does at home. Solid performance there Bub. You did good.

Our highlight of the night came when our friend Stephanie (who awkwardly revealed that she would leave her husband for Justin Lukach, a cohost of the Outdoor Life Network's "departures" show) made reference to Zoey as being delightfully "suspicious" all of the time. We rolled in the kind of laughter that is so absolutely justified that it gives you a migraine. "Suspicious" seems a funny adjective to describe Zo, but it's probably a pretty accurate one. She is a rather thoughtful and I suppose, suspicious child. She tends to evaluate people and situations, not excessively, in fact, she's typically pretty quick about it but she does indeed look "suspicious" most times. I was assured by all of the women in the room that as far as a daughter was concerned that was a really good thing. I agreed.

Now I have the urge to play the song "Suspicious Minds" every time I see Zo eyeing something up...this really weird Elvis version from 1970...yeah, that one, where he just gets flat out crazy after the 1:40 mark. Either way that's stupid...both Elvis and the notion of re-playing that song every time Zo gives something a look.

Welcome to my Sunday and thank you...thank you very much (insert strange lip snarl).

Saturday, September 26, 2009


What was supposed to be an easy Saturday is turning into a stressful wrist slitter as Indiana is giving Michigan all they can handle at The Big House. After the last three weeks a loss to IU would be devastating. As I type this the fourth quarter has started and Indiana just missed a field goal that would have put the Wolverines behind by eight...a touchdown and at least a two pint conversion...Our whole household, including Zoey, just gave a collective sigh. This was supposed to be a quiet day. Oh it's quiet...We're hanging on every word Jim Brandstatter spits out (but if he says "stock and trade" one more time we're shutting him off).

We slipped out for a few hours this morning to visit Grandpa and got home just in time to have Indiana punch us right in the mouth. I'm never leaving the house on a football Saturday again. We entertained the trip because we couldn't get the game on TV and we also needed to stop to pick up this schweet Patriots throwback jersey that Dad got as an almost anniversary gift to himself. It's all lettered up nice with Brady #12 on the back and sleeves. A halfway decent consolation prize if the boys in Ann Arbor blow this game...not really. I'll be despondent if..

TOUCHDOWN!!! TOUCHDOWN MEEEEEEEEEEESHIGAN!!! And a two point conversion!!! 29-26 Michigan 9:15 left in the fourth quarter. This Saturday is gonna give me ulcers! Where's Zoey? I need a distraction.

UPDATE: Indiana scores on an 85 yard run...#$%damnit...33-29 Hoosiers. This can't be happening...please God no!

UPDATE #2: Tate Forcier is a GOD!!! Forcier to Odoms, 27 yard post pass...Michigan 36 - IU 33...Holy Mother of Martavious! 2:29 to go...

UPDATE #3: INTERCEPTION MEEEEEECHIGAN!!!! Donovan Warren with 2:14 left to play...I do believe...I do believe...I do believe...

UPDATE #4: MICHIGAN WINS!!!! And Zoey sleeps...

Fun fun fun 'til someday when we have to move...

week 35 - fake chucks

So I head off to work each morning knowing that fun stuff is happening in my absence, but I had no idea just how much fun stuff was being enjoyed in my absence. Turns out it's a lot.

First, there's always some Sesame Street on the schedule, which is a heartbreaker 'cause I love me some Sesame Street whenever I can get it. Then there's always some exploring, at least on nice days there is. There's the backyard to find adventures in, and then a short walk finds Mike Weir Park right there on the beach, and the walk into Brights Grove is really just a walk beside the beautiful expanse of the lake, all waves lapping and seagulls gliding. It really is a kid's dream, all blue skies and green grass with a soundtrack of wind and waves. It makes going to work pretty hard.

week 35 - playing with the stroller buckle
Zoey and Sophie soaking up the sun...

I know that every day is a chore, an endless routine of tedious work and attention but I miss our Hawaiian time, when all of us got to match rhythms and divide the day's obligations into awesome little chunks of Zoeyfied goodness. Now June bares most of the burden all day, and I sometimes fall asleep on Zo's floor during after bath play time. I think we should start buying lottery tickets.

week 35 - a little squinty
Zo is turning into a backyard junkie...

The one benefit to having to leave for work each day is that the endeavor ends with the fun of coming home to these two funsters. If I didn't leave for work, I wouldn't get to come back and find them waiting, which is so much a part of the fun. I think I'd prefer our Hawaiian routine any day, but there are subtle benefits to this Ontario one. A big thing, I think, is that we need to really sink into our community and become a part of it which we haven't done. I mean, I do it every day via work but not as a family. In that regard it always feels as though we're only here temporarily, which of course we are.

I always imagined living in a neighborhood, you know, with Murray from next door borrowing the ladder, and Ellen from across the street always recruiting Zoey to help her garden...a community, you know, with vibrance and vitality. Here on the lake we have adventure and awesomeness in heaping piles but aside from a neighbor or two there isn't much community. I think we're the renters and everyone knows it, It seems like whenever Pat and Mayumi come home from Saudi they slip right into a social world...we're housesitters, I think. No worries. The jokes on all these jerks who pay a million plus to live here, we pay $450 a month.

These guys get to soak up all that this place has to offer while I'm gone to work...a backyard with a view, being the best part. Regardless of community or the lack of any kind of neighborhood feel we've been ridiculously blessed being here. We've literally stolen four years on this lake and with any luck we're still here another year from now. We know it won't last much longer but then neither will June's time at home to hang with Zo and soak all this up.

Hey Monkey..where you been?

I woke up this morning with a surprise Zoey squished between us, all snuggled up tight in her pink monkey jammers. My first thought was, "Wow, Monkey in the Middle is probably the worst game ever!" I don't know why I thought that but I did. Who invented that game, 'cause it sucks? It's basically just a game of bullying. Monkey in the Middle is the worst children's game ever invented!

Before I could pontificate too long on the garbage game that "Monkey in the Middle" is, June had the Dave Matthews Band and "Proudest Monkey" drifting out of her computer on the night stand...and then I noticed that June's pajama bottoms were full of monkeys...and just when I was connecting all the dots Counting Crows song "Monkey" from their album "Recovering the Satellites" was drifting through the morning and I realized something...

I'm the monkey in the middle!

Sure I am, constantly back and forth between June and Zo, never quite getting a grip on the game, kinda just bouncing around...

Whoa...this Dad stuff is profound. This game of Monkey in the MIddle is pretty damn good though...of course, it's an amended version. The original still sucks the mustard.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bedtime at Routines 'R Us...and a Random Beat Street Reference

B&W Zo and Dad Bedtime floor
A smooch for the smooch collector...Wait, does smooch have a letter "t" in it?

We're not so very used to routines around here but we're adjusting. The routine of late has been this...

Munch dinner with the family...

Kill some time...

Jump in the bath...

Naked time...

Play time with Mom & Dad...

Attempt at bed #1...

Cry a lot...

Attempt at bed #2...

Cry more...

Attempt at bed "ad nauseum"...

It works for us...but then it's all we really know. Thank God there are weekends to run amok and mucho plenty sporting events to distract us, otherwise the current routine might, you know, cramp our style a little.

B&W Zo and Dad bedtime floor 2
Zedder is some serious fun during the post- naked floor play time...That sounds weird, I know.

I'm guessing that this bedtime stuff doesn't get much easier until they're, what? 16 or 17? And of course, by then they're going to bed only so that they can sneak back out again, right? Wait...are we reading the wrong books? I'm not reading anything...maybe I should be? I think I've got a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" somewhere around here.

B&W bedtime w Mom

That's Mom and Zed doing their ritual bedtime's kinda like the Roxy scene in Beat Street...only better and with less Kangol and Puma...plenty of Grandmaster Flash though.

Go Fly a Kite...uhmmm, okay. I Just Might Give That a Whirl

Kite Blue Sky

I got home today and after a rousing hour or so of playing with the Zedder headed straight for the car hole to pull out my kite...well, one of my two super awesome kites. They're both the same kind of kite. I tend to do know, ten of the same shirt kind of thing. I love my kite(s). I wouldn't have had the notion to pull the bugger out had a young, obviously uncool, pre-pubescent funster not told me to go fly one earlier today. That's read that correctly...some pseudo-badass kid incorrectly targeted me as the yeller of teacherific type remarks about getting off of the school property and told me to, "go fly a kite." It was quite funny.

First, what kind of kid says, "go fly a kite," without any of the accompanying embarrassment that goes along with being so dreadfully lame. Secondly, I actually like flying kites every now and then so the little Manson family apprentice was actually giving me good advice. Third, he was chucking terrifically antiquated insults my way to which I had no other reasonable option but to laugh out loud...and head home to actually fly said kite.

Now today wasn't a whole lot better than yesterday in terms of overwhelming disappointment and perspective bending events but flying a kite on a windy beach with your pant legs rolled up and your daughter sleeping peacefully inside, well, I'd recommend it. It's pretty awesome advice it turns out. If you can manage a sky so blue it hurts your eyes well then you've really robbed the bank of good fortune.

I'd like to formally thank the little juvenile delinquent who recommended, in error, that I go enjoy this activity. I was originally planning on coming home and getting blind drunk but this was a better idea.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Eddie Vedder used my toilet...I wish

I had it planned out pretty well. I would download Pearl Jam's new single, The Fixer, and the accompanying video. It would rock my junk off. I would !#%&ing love it.

Then, I'd write an inspired post about how face numbingly awesome it is. I would say things like "PERFECT PEARL JAM" and "BOW DOWN TO EDDIE VEDDER, LOWLY ROCK SUBJECTS!"

Then, someone would sweetify my post by chucking it up on Pearl Jam's Twitter and a bunch of Pearl Jam message boards and then legions of Pearl Jam fans would bombard "The Zoey Blog. The stat counter would freak out like it was Y2K (or, you know, like if I mentioned Jenn Sterger's name).

Then someone would tell Eddie about how awesome my post is, he'd call me, we'd grab a couple of pints in some hip cafe/bar in Seattle. We would have an instant soul connection and become the bestest of friends. Then he'd come to my house. We'd barbecue. We'd talk about Neil Young and Ticketmaster. IT WAS GONNA BE SO #$%&ING AWESOME! Only none of that happened. I did finally get the record though, and she's a beaut!

The Cold Hard Truth...

Home from a big sigh of a day...some heavy revelations and then some odd reactions and before you know it I'm spinning a little. I spent the entire last hour of work in the reception area hanging out with my good friend Barb just yapping about anything that wasn't what I saw earlier today. Barb makes me feel good, pretty much perpetually, so it's as good a spot as any to forget things. I tend to stop and yap a lot, and with a lot of people, in a lot of different places, and sometimes it's just yapping and then sometimes it's avoidance and distraction. Barb's always good for that. Hockey talk is light years, across galaxies and galaxies, better than some of this everyday stuff. I tell you...I just don't know how some of these kids manage. I just don't.

So now I'm propped up in a hammock with a lake view, a little chilly, but not near as chilly as the situations I found myself a part of today, and me and Chris Isaak are easing ourselves into the evening. Zo was in an odd mood when I got home and I tried my best to get on her good side but she was pre-occupied with whatever else tonight...funny, me too. So June and her are bathing, normally something I like to jump into (literally) and they're giving me some space, I think. It's funny to have an awareness of how other people see your needs. June gives me a lot...She usually bares the brunt of these work stories and they're typically of a world so unknown to her that I'm surprised she doesn't flinch more often...She just hangs tight, gives me a hug and smile, and sends me away with a book or some music...or this blog. It softens me up to a watery pile to talk about how much that hug and smile mean. My life was a lot easier in a press box. Gerard Gallant never sent me reeling into introspective evenings, and that's not a shot at Gerard, maybe he could have? That life also didn't mean as much to me as this one.

Sometimes the divide between those worlds is hard to explain, and there have been a few times I've needed to. That's been the best part of coming here, to this job and this place, most people never question me too much about why I do what I do...because they get it...I've had the odd editor tilt his head in confusion at this life. I remember sitting in the VIP lounge at the rink in Columbus with some Sports Illustrated guys and each one to a man didn't understand how I went to work each day and got kids into rehab or maybe helped a young Mom steer through the mess of Child Services to get her baby back and then walked into the Bluejackets dressing room with a pad of paper and a tape recorder like I owned the place. I dunno either...I just's "how I do," as they say, and it's a life that's been pretty good to me, and no regrets...except for nights like these. After today a seat in Joe Louis Arena's closet of a press box would feel alright.

Wow, I need a sweater. I'm freezing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You don't know the greatness you are...

week 34 - blue eyes... and flawless skin!... and the window reflection in her eyes... no photoshop here!

It's getting increasingly easier to look at Zoey and swell with rapture. I know that some of it is simple familiarity. We've known each other for almost eight months now and that leaves a lot of room for falling in love with someone's most random and smallest of features. You know the drill, I'm sure you still do it. You can't get enough of someone's hair, their mouth, or their Zo's case it's been her eyes. She knocks me over with those blue eyes and it seems as though, more and more, they're getting their own unique shape and tone. We wondered if you'd be able to recognize her Japanese heritage in her face at all and so far it seems to be only in the fairness of her skin and the subtle shape of her eyes. Her Mom has beautiful hapa eyes of a dozen colors and her Dad, that's moi, has blues in, as his wife says, "abundance." It's an interesting genetic mash up that keeps you leaning in a little closer these first seven and a half months. Zo has some seriously stunning peepers and, even as biased as I know I am, that's the holy moly truth.

Anyway...that's nothing any different than any other parent would type, I know. SO I'll leave you with this "apology tune" for wasting your time with run of the mill parental affection. It's 70% cheese, but you're gonna have to deal with it. A goodnight song for me to drift off to, and for you to stream at work and get your beautiful, mellow groove on to. Good luck. Don't get caught.

Blue Eyes - Cary Brothers

Gimme Johnny Steinbeck and a chance at redemption every time

A conversation with a friend of mine reminded me of something I'd been meaning to write about for awhile.

John Steinbeck's East of Eden is a book about us all, descendants of Cain, if you're into that whole biblical hullaballoo...who, according to the New Jerusalem Bible, "appears to be the builder of the first city and ancestor of stock-breeders, musicians, smiths and possibly prostitutes." Now that sounds good. I could get into a book that chucks out that kind of filthy schtuff. The best part is that the New Jerusalem Bible isn't even certain if the prostitutes deal is for sure. What? I thought that book was the word of God...that's funny.

Anyway...The main theme for East of Eden turns on the correct translation of the Hebrew word timshel, translated differently in various versions of the Bible. The word appears in the Cain and Abel story in Genesis, when God discusses sin with Cain. What? I read much more often than you might imagine, and although I'd catch on fire if I ever walked through a church's doors I know a thing or two about all that churchy junk. You don't think I'd be so ignorant as to work on my baseline jump shot and not my ability to converse in a reasonably intelligent manner did you?

I love East of Eden, and in it's pages lay a single word that has steered me since I was sixteen. A single word I nearly had inked permanently on my lays the foundation for the entire human condition.

While studying the passage in the Bible, Adam Trask's Chinese servant, Lee, helps the characters Samuel and Adam understand the intended original meaning in this passage from East of Eden:

"…this was the gold from our mining: 'Thou mayest.' The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin (and you can call sin ignorance). The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word timshel—'Thou mayest'—that gives a choice. For if 'Thou mayest'—it is also true that 'Thou mayest not.' That makes a man great and that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win."

And BLAM..there is the choice that each of the characters in East of Eden face—as does, ultimately, every human being. No matter how deep-rooted the sin, there is always a chance for redemption. Awesome. A great big "possibly prostitutes" kind of awesome!

Thou mayest...think about that, write it down, contemplate how you tell your child that same story without them thinking that you're the lamest, most boring parent ever. Timshel...a choice...I bet you didn't realize that old Johnny Steinbeck was such a heavy dude? Yeah, East of Eden isn't just a James Dean movie, it's a damn revelation if you're paying proper attention.

Timshel...I think I feel another tattoo coming on...Zoey, I apologize if someday I embarrass you. I promise to never wear socks and sandals but don't get me started on this literary crap.

Monday, September 21, 2009

25 Random Pieces of Information...Version 2.0 (for Zoey)

Awhile ago I was tagged in a Facebook note from my Father-in-Law, Gerry. The note was called 25 Random Pieces of Information. His openness and candor was a quietly inspiring thing and so I made my own list, tagged him in return and shoved it in the faces of a few others. It felt good, liberating if you will, as terribly lame as that might sound, but it was. It felt good enough to re-print here, for Zoey's sake, and perhaps to re-visit for round two of peek inside Brian. Why not? There's no Junior Mints in there, no alien or rotten soul...just me.

The original 25 pieces of random information...dated June 26th, 2009

1. I’ve passed on a dozen or more opportunities to make more money, work less or not as hard, or gain recognition because I believe in what I do. I also believe that whatever it is that I do well I still don’t understand. Maybe once I get a grip on all of this I’ll try something else.

2. I ask a lot of questions…and I can talk for hours…but you’d be surprised at what I hear.

3. If I ever disappointed my wife, well, I don’t want to think about how that might feel.

4. I’m learning more now than I ever did as a student.

5. Every time I look at our daughter I see June and I think that this little one will be just fine.

6. If you knew what I knew you’d be a lot more depressed than I am. For some reason I have more faith now than I ever did. There’s something infinitely more powerful in the energy of awful things than there is in the good stuff. I’ll take the loser that’s still playing over the winner who’s already achieved their goal any day. Success and happiness are terribly relevant terms.

7. I take the chore of living up to people’s expectations very seriously. I know what respect or affection means to me and it’s far too valuable for me to devalue with indifference.

8. I talk about my memories with June like I’m some kind of swooning school girl -- our friendship, our relationship, our engagement, our wedding, our child, our lives – it’s the kind of satisfaction that very few others can understand.

9. Two summers ago we lived at June’s parents house for 6 weeks and I got into the habit of talking to Gerry out on the deck every night when I got home from work. They were the kind of conversations that left me writing down things that I wanted to look up or learn more about, big ideas and an easy environment to not know something or to be converted to something else. I’d never had anything like that before and I liked it.

10. I almost always feel embarrassed when I get angry or annoyed. I tell myself that I’m better than that but then I remember that I’m not, no one is.

11. I used to think that Michigan changed me the most, that it was the thing I orbited around but June insists with authority that it was the book, and that year on the street. June says that my life can be divided in two, the Brian from before the book project and the Brian from after.

12. Most of who I am right now came from young people in trouble. I always think of the Lester Bangs line in the film Almost Famous, “The only true currency we have in this bankrupt world are the moments we share when we’re not cool.” He’s right.

13. I was sitting backstage at the Troubadour last winter with Jason Collett and I couldn’t stand what I was scribbling down. I had no interest in reading whatever it was that I would write from that exchange. Similarly, a dozen years ago I was sitting across the table from Gary Barnett in the bowels of Michigan Stadium and I didn’t want anything more to do with what I was doing at the moment. It just paled in comparison to what was happening in the real world and I wanted that stuff more. It was cool as hell, but it didn’t feel relevant or real in the least. I’ll take the real stuff and someone else can have the over-glorified crap. It’s never what you think it is.

14. A long time ago, probably when I was 14 or 15, I learned how often sincerity and curiosity were misconstrued as weakness or ignorance and how often other people would use those things to either steal energy, label you, or set you on some pre-determined shelf of their own making. I’ll guarantee you that I’m not what you think I am.

15. Growing up, and even now, I typically had some unique problems with adult males, especially the kind that embody authority whether they’re trying to or not – employers, parents, etc… I’m finally starting to connect all the dots with some degree of understanding. I either give my energy away or I fight really hard to keep it, there seem to be very few times that its anything in between. I didn’t have a very positive relationship with my own father and I really didn’t have much access to any other men whom I might have enjoyed some kind of kindred connection with. It explains a lot.

16. I believe in people and that won’t ever change.

17. Until you’ve stared into the eyes of someone who was truly desperate and was looking to you for help you won’t understand how the world works, and to be honest I don’t really want to talk to you about it because I’ll get angry…not at the world, but with you. Too many of us live behind white picket fences.

18. I used to think that my father and brother were the toughest guys I knew, until I grew up. I don’t think that anymore.

19. I don’t do much casually, despite how it might look. If I light up when I see you then I love you and want to be near you. If I ask you to do things then I want to be around you and that means great big gobs of respect and affection and curiosity. If I talk a lot when I’m with you it’s because you make me want to talk. There aren’t many casual relationships in my life. You’ve either got me or you don’t. If I stop to talk it’s because I want to. That’s much more than what most people interpret it as.

20. I could watch the first hour of ‘Casablanca’ or the first two hours of ‘Giant’ a billion and a half times. There’s no one on the planet cooler than Rick Blaine or Jett Rink…no one.

21. People say I write extremely well, and maybe I do but it’s not something I collect compliments for very graciously.

22. When I die I’d like to be cremated. I want the urn to read “Ripple in still water.” I could rest for an eternity in such lyrical perfection. I suppose Ill have to.

23. I wake up every day and just try to do the best I can do, be the best I can be…it’s a conscious decision, something I actually consider each day, not something you should just hope happens.

24. I don’t sleep very well sometimes.

25. That line in Pearl Jam’s song, Given to Fly, “He floated back down ‘cause he wanted to share the keys to the locks on the chains that he saw everywhere,” always shoots straight to my heart.

The new 25 random pieces of information...dated, well, today...September 21st, the last day of summer, 2009...

1. It takes decades to come to grips with who you really are and what it is that you really believe in, and when you finally do I dare you not to set your hands on your hips and sigh, "Well, shit." I did. I really couldn't believe that my values and decisions brought me to this place.

2. When I was young I never missed an episode of the TV series "Fame," I'm not kidding. I didn't have any interest in playing an instrument or dancing or even acting but the notion of all those incredibly talented people in one place, and all of that emotion and passion and commitment, it just mesmerized me.

3. There are certain people who's affection and respect I just crave. You could be one of those people. I think everyone is like that, so if you think about it, you could be that person for someone else ten times over. That's a heavy weight to bare, and one you should take really seriously. You have no idea how much you might mean to someone or what they think of you or how they see you. Respect that. It's a big deal.

4. I try to think about the day that I became a man, as if it might be this one day that I could a soldier might be able to...but nothing stands out. All of that thinking made me wonder whether or not I'd stumbled into that day yet. Then a friend opened up and said, "You've been a man since the day I met you. While everyone was busy trying to be what they thought a man was, you just were one." I don't think I've ever fielded a kinder compliment.

5. I'm easily disappointed. That used to bother me until I realized that all it really means is that I put a lot of faith in people. There are bigger character flaws.

6. I once read that, "an ant colony is far more intelligent than an ant," and I've tried to live my life with that knowledge. Most people don't, and there's the breakdown.

7. There's a lot of emphasis on kids being strong, on kids being successful. I want my daughter to be compassionate. That doesn't necessarily mean that she'll fit your version of success.

8. I don't think I'll grow old anywhere close to the places where I was young.

9. I built a lot of tree forts as a kid, so it makes sense to me why I'm always escaping to something or somewhere else. The day that you stop wanting to build tree forts is the day that you stop wanting something different in your life and don't feel confident enough that you can simply build it yourself. That explains the kind of people who have the same postal code as their parents.

10. It's crazy how much affection I'm capable of. I can simply pass you in the hallway and feel a rush of affection that you wouldn't believe. I've always been pretty generous with my affection.

11. I like to go to bed at night when the house is still alive with noise and light. It's probably some leftover thing from my childhood but it's comforting. It makes me feel safe and I'll drift off with a giant smile on my face. Then I wake up to June, who wasn't there when I fell asleep, and it's like this soft, warm, loving gift. Someday Zoey's going to grow up and move away and miss falling asleep in a house full of so much obvious and accessible love.

12. Despite my best false front I'm no Martin Luther King type. I understand what he was talking about but I have a hard time embracing it. Spit in my face and I'll knock you out. I'm not indiscriminate but I'm not gonna be pushed around.

13. I've got friends that I love and that I believe in, who I've told that to, who have heard me say those things out loud, in front of others but who don't ever reciprocate and that bothers me.

14. Just the other day I got me a pair of Jack Purcell Converse sneakers that I'd been waiting for my whole life, well, at least twenty years of it, and you know what? It was worth the wait.

15. If you embarrass me or make fun of me I probably won't ever forgive you. Those things are built from the ground up with awfully ugly intentions. If you hurt me it might have been by accident, but if you shame me there's a good chance that you knew exactly what you were doing.

16. Standing for something means a lot to me.

17. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a better person than I was.

18. If you do it right getting a tattoo is a deeply personal thing. You're taking the gift that nature or perhaps your God gave you and carving it up to your own liking. That's a pretty big deal, so you better be committed to what you're doing. You'd better believe in what you've done to yourself.

19. I worry that I'll die in a car. I don't want to die in a car.

20. I get so enthusiastic about certain things that sometimes when that enthusiasm isn't matched or returned I feel disappointed. I have no right to. It's my enthusiasm, not yours, but I want to spread it around like butter on toast. When your excited all by yourself it feels like trying to spread that chunk of cold, hard butter around hot toast. It just doesn't work and it's frustrating. It should work, but it doesn't.

21. I used to work in an auto plant in the summer, between semesters at school, and the notion of going to work on the midnight shift could put tears in my eyes. It was honorable work, and there were decent people there but I couldn't manage the notion that while the whole western world slept I was shuffling through something that I hated...It felt like some kind of damning double indemnity. I knew right away that I had to find something that connected me to people. I feel best when my rhythms match the rest of the worlds rhythms.

22. If I ever won the lottery, well, it was nice knowing you.

23. Tears come to me as easily as indifference doesn't.

24. I have this urge to keep moving forward in my life, not to look back too much. I want new streets, and new people, and new places to get excited about. I still don't think that I've found the actual home, that physical place, where I belong but I'll keep looking, Maybe I'll never find it, but maybe I will. That's more than enough reason to keep looking.

25. I've been lucky in my life that the mistakes I've made and learned from weren't ones that were out on display for everyone to see. I've mostly learned a lot without an audience. That makes a difference.

Napalm, George Will, and Baby Smiles...Seriously

Zoey Dad Floor 1

I woke up early, got to work late, and ate no breakfast. I drove several blocks out of my way to score some coffee, hence the lateness (not an official lateness as I made it there by 8:30am but late as in hauling my arse at a much too speedy rate through everything from getting dressed to grabbing some joe…I mostly just wanted to use the term “joe” right there). I stumbled into work without a key to my office, and realized much too late that I left every single work accoutrement at home…bag, day planner, prescription of bovine tranquilizers, etc…so it’s been an interesting morning to say the least.

The only reason I bring this all up is to make a point…kinda like the old adage of, “I told you that story so I could tell you this one…” Before I left the house my day was obviously spinning out of any kind of reasonable control. The gears were all in motion and my morning was gonna be messed up. I was moving at too fast a pace…my thoughts were everywhere but where they should have been and I was scattered, to say the least. Then June handed me a beaming, freshly awake, Zoey. She smiled up at me, I subsequently melted, and WHAM-O, the universe had some order for just a few minutes. June needed to grab the car seat from my car and chucked me our beautiful offspring (nice teamwork I must say) to handle while she managed that feat of engineering that removing a car seat always seems to be. I was harried, I was in a hurry and then suddenly and oh-so happily I wasn’t.

Zo’s smile is one of those all time great gapers, a giant beaming “you’re my entire universe, you know” kind of smiles that some people manage to keep their whole lives. It’s like how some people have a laugh that just leaves a place empty when it’s not echoing around, and you don’t miss it until it’s gone. Zoey has a smile like that kind of laugh. It’s big and it’s all consuming…it swallows her entire face. He eyes disappear into this adorable squint as her cheeks overflow and her face grows undeniably wider. The smile is at worst, infectious, and at best, the slayer of all evil and a saver of souls. It makes me swoon, as it very well should.

Now…as I joked earlier, I told you that story so that I could tell you this one. When I arrived at work I got into an almost instant battle of wills with a young man in a bit of a crisis. It was oddly about the symmetry between baseball and everyday life (yeah, I dunno, that’s how I do…). Aside from some obvious distinctions I think they're awfully parallel. My argument was that baseball reflects a similar invariability as life does itself. His, was that I was full of sh!t. At that early hour and considering the organizational apocalypse that was the start of my day we could not agree to disagree.

The discussion poured all over his crisis until there was just baseball to talk about, not the sky falling or the locust swarming. He was a friendly but enthusiastic (and oh-so appreciated) waster of time and after the morning I had endured I appreciated his company. My feeling is that everyone’s life has spun so unnecessarily out of control that it is often times unrecognizable. We don’t make bad decisions or put ourselves in bad positions on purpose. Of course we don’t. We don’t realize that we’re doing it until it’s much too late. We’re spinning far too fast for our own good and baseball tends to bring us back down to a proper speed. Our lives should more closely resemble the “Voyage of the Contiki” than Superman doing laps around planet earth. Baseball gives us that, a chance to match rhythms with the natural world, to get in tune before we impose our will, if we are even capable of imposing anything. What baseball teaches us is that most times we are not capable, most times we will fail to impose our will, and most times we will be dependant on the outcomes of a hundred other influences.

Bullsh!t,” he said, “That’s George Will conservative, traditionalist, propaganda crap!

He seriously said that. Now my morning was getting good.

Are you high,” I retorted, “George Will can kiss my bare butt. This has nothing to do with George Will, you juvenile delinquent." He liked the delinquent slur very much. I caught him grinning at it. “This is about individualism AND teamwork meshing together. This is about failing more than you succeed. This is about needing people. This is about withstanding an ass kicking and then coming back with one simple act. It’s about adjustments and self-awareness. It’s about losing a good fight, being over-matched sometimes. It’s about slowing the hell down so you can see things more clearly. That’s life!

Are YOU high?” He laughed, “That was the biggest horsesh!t napalming I’ve ever seen (he actually said “horseh!t napalming). It’s a game, a dumb one, as most are, and you’re just distracting me you hope salesman.” That salesman bit was pretty good, I thought. That’s really all I’m doing half the time.

Distracting you?" I said, incredulous. "Not intentionally,” I spat, because I wasn’t. This argument was something I’d scripted a dozen times in my head.

Well," he smiled, “it worked. I gotta go," and he got up to leave, "Thanks, that was fun." He shook my hand and bounced out the door with a head full of my immodest crap rather than his own. God$@%it , I love this job.

Once I settled back into my morning I felt a surge of recognition, of understanding and something akin to enlightenment. Here I was preaching the gospel of a snail’s pace while my own universe was tipping at a silly speed. Here I was distracting (as sincerely and unintentionally as possible) a young man in trouble while I myself needed the distracting just as badly. Finally, in a sweeping wave of comprehension, I was suddenly aware of just what my daughter had given me this morning. She made me step back from the plate, adjust my batting gloves and think about the next pitch, maybe even just breathe a little because I didn’t notice that I hadn’t been doing that one simple thing.

Today both baseball and a little girl’s awe inspiring smile slowed me down to that place that I needed to be, and I didn’t even know that it was happening. My young sparring partner helped as well, distracting me as readily as I did him, and without even the slightest awareness that the furious pace of my day’s dismantling was completely within my grasp to halt.

I hate it when people talk all mamby pamby about “learning a lesson,” but today I did. Slow the hell down…take the time to give a girl a moment to smile at you because maybe one is waiting for that moment, to talk to someone, to laugh at your own ridiculousness…and never, ever underestimate a kid’s vocabulary or wit. That guy was some kind of awesome!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good thing the sweater's pink...

Zoey Tigers Cap Grass
Sundays are Zoey's "boy time", grass stains and toy trucks...

This afternoon Zoey flopped on her new Tigers cap (already the second of her short career), slipped on some old jeans, and grabbed a Fisher-Price Toy Truck to head out into the back yard for some grass stain practice. Of course, she had help managing all those feats, and Dad is entirely responsible for her Tiger cap collection, but she's an eager girl when it comes to all of it.

Hat that she never fusses with...check.

Crawling around in the grass without hesitation...check.

Boy toys 'cause there isn't a doll to be found in this house thus far...check.

Pink sweater so she doesn't look completely like a boy...check.

Brad, Heather and the kids came over this afternoon for some backyard chillin'...some Autumn sun, some sand and a little football. We grilled, we layed about in the hammock, and we watched Zoey's cousin Reece burn tracks in the grass every direction he spun in. Man, that funster doesn't stop! Zoey can't take her eyes off of him, like he's some kind of whirlwind! Avery and Zed got along famously as usual, and Header got some fun niece time in too.

Avery Reece Zoey
Avery and Reece are pretty good at monopolizing all of Zoey's time and attention.

It was a good afternoon, especially considering the funk my day began with. No "Backspacer" album...some stinking neediness from some stinking friendships, and a slight lack of sleep. But then Avery and Reece and Beezer arrived with their rents and we had a good time doing nothing.

Avery Reece Zoey 2
Three of four's pretty fun watching them all together.

Avery and Zo are practically joined at the hip, mostly in large part to Avery's overwhelming motherly instincts...Zo doesn't even know that she has hips yet...and we like giving those two the chance to connect. We're hoping to abscond with Avery when she gets a little bit older, and she's absolutely fine with our plan to turn her into our own traveling nanny. In fact, I think her entire college savings is banking on it. She's doing great so far...Zo likes her a lot and she seems pretty comfy.

Avery fake feeding Zo
Avery 's already apprenticing for her babysitters gig.

To make the whole day complete the Jets took one from Tom Brady and the Pats on what was my first official game as a Jets fan...Yup, another experiment. Hopefully this one works out better than the Dodgers debacle. The minute the Jets drafted USC's Mark Sanchez I became a fan. I told June that I would become an instant fan of whichever team scooped the Junior out of Troy. Turns out it was the Jets. I even had to email my friend in NY, Betsy, to ask what I was getting myself into. She warned me off of the Jets but I was already committed with the Sanchez pick.

I've never rooted against Tom Brady in my life, but I did felt weird. I'm hopelessly smitten with this Jets team so far so perhaps this will be one experiment that actually works. I remember the day the NY Knicks drafted Patrick Ewing out of Georgetown, I became a Knicks fan for if only I could stomach NY baseball, in any incarnation. There's no way.

Now I get to settle into a Sunday night with less trepidation than I was expecting to earlier. I still can't believe that this day will end without Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" in my hands but I suppose that means I'm gonna have a stellar Monday in search of the new release! There are certainly worse ways to waste away a Monday.

I'm feeling disgustingly needy today...loser.

Frumoy Sunday boat

There are sailboats floating past and the gentle rhythm of waves slapping sand helps to ease the chill of a weak but cold easterly breeze. Living on the lake can be remarkably cold even as the rest of the people you know bask in backyards filled with sun. It's not something that you can complain about though, not if you have any hope of sympathy. You won't find any here on this stretch of sand...probably on any stretch of sand.

Staring out into what feels like blue everything I'm feeling the need to be filled back up after this person or that has emptied me out.

I need to hang out on the rail in front of WIllie Horton at Comerica Park with little Harmon running laps around Phil Newhouser's feet.

I need Andrew Cooper's honest, innocent enthusiasm just to see me.

I need Uncle Ian here to laugh with -- at dumb stuff, especially the really dumb stuff.

I need June and Zo and a background of Encinitas cliffs.

I need Scott and Smitty, and Big Jimmy with nothing but stupid stories bouncing between the crowded space between us.

I need to see Rosie grinning his drunken face off at a golf course tailgate.

I need M. Smith to stumble into the open door of my office and genuinely ask, "How are you doin'?"

I need to post a comment from John or MaryAnn

I need to walk all the way to Diamondhead and back with a sleeping Zo.

I need to fall asleep in the hammock with the sun on my face and a finished book all askew on my chest.

I need a haircut...what? I do.

Hanging onto Sunday...barely

Zoey online shopping

Can a guy get a copy of Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" ANYWHERE TODAY!!!! This is frustrating and it's setting a crappy precedent for a Sunday morning. Two record closed on Sunday's, the other suddenly closed period, and an empty drive home. Then I caved and thought, "screw it, I'll buy it at iTunes and find the actual shrink wrapped deal later," but even that wouldn't allow me to make the purchase. iTunes Canada doesn't have the album for sale yet and so here I sit on a perfectly fine looking Sunday pretty bummed out and ready to call it a day. It's barely lunch.

What a colossal bummer.

On a good note the sun is out and Zoey is cute as hell today, all desperate to talk and dressed like she fell out of a catalogue or somethin' so things could be worse...much worse. I really have nothing to complain about but bummed out is bummed out and you don't always need an excuse.

So instead of listening to "Backspacer" I watched Zoey do some online shopping for a new hat which, as Meg Ryan said, "will turn out to be a mistake - as almost all hats are," and contemplated watching Tom Brady vs. Mark Sanchez rather than soak up the goodness of blue skies and quiet beach.

The beach wins today and I'm happy...I mean, as happy as I can be sans Pearl Jam. At least Zoey doesn't have a credit card for all that online browsing.

Paint a hundred paintings...

Patiently awaiting the record store to open today so I can go slap my money down on the counter and drag home the new Pearl Jam record, "Backspacer" but the stores aren't open yet, and Zoey is asleep in the backseat of the Jeep. Yup, conked out cold. We slipped out for coffee this morning, and to give Mom some quiet, stress free shower time with all the accessories -- taking your sweet ass time, perhaps peeking outside, carefully choosing what you'll throw over your skin -- and by the time we got back, which is usually the case, Zo was out. Kinda like the Tigers are on the verge of being in the AL Central, only sweeter and less awe inspiring. So now the Zed has full on absconded with my car, albeit in bird chirping, wave crashing beauty of the driveway but the car is out of commission nonetheless. I have no interest in scooting back out into the waking world, driving all the way back into town, and then waking her up when I get to the record store. Nope, doesn't sound even remotely fun or fair, and so there she partly down, Mom close by sipping her coffee and enjoying the quiet of a Sunday morning above the beach. I'd bet my best socks that she's itchin' for "Backspacer" too though.

While waiting I uploaded Cameron Crowe's little vignette documentary about the making of the record and wasn't three seconds in when Eddie Vedder said, "It's like with painting or something, a friend of mine said, paint a hundred and see if you're good at it. After a hundred maybe you'll know," and I pressed pause and slipped back on over here.

I'm seeing life more and more in those same this or that and then some of that other stuff, maybe try this thing too, and then see what fits and keep doing it until you figure out if maybe, just maybe, you're good at it. It's the way life goes whether you dig that philosohpy or not. There are plenty of square pegs in round holes out there, and plenty of people doing things fine when they might do doing other things great.

Paint a hundred paintings...I like it. I wonder if Eddie would let me keep it?

Does anyone anywhere do anything a hundred times anymore? Everything's so accelerated and so disposable that I wonder if we'll ever get back to taking the time to really do the things we love justice. We bang everything out, from music to writing to machinery to relationships, and none of us take the time to really get it right. Sure, maybe we stumble into the right thing, maybe we accidentally get good at something but we don't necessarily earn all of our accomplishments anymore.

June's grandfather in Japan, Tomio, was a sign maker. As far as I know he did it his whole life, and he was good at it...very good at it. The word revered might be off the mark a little but the word respected is not. The way he did business and the mastery of his craft, whether it was the calligraphy his hands blessed or the artistic eye balanced with his keen sense of purpose (for what is art if it is just an empty island) helped to make his entire lifetime one long apprenticeship. The respect that Tomio was afforded came from a lifetime of learning. It was a journey, and was never, not even in the final years of his fruitful life, a destination. It had always been a journey. I'd venture to guess that such a life is near an impossibility now, save for a few fortunate trades and professions. The time it takes to really know something, and to understand it's intricacies is no longer in balance with the economics of an accelerated now. It doesn't pay. Time is money, and for all the wrong reasons. Time indeed should translate into money, but not across the shortest span.

The whole idea makes my head spin and I wonder what kind of world Zoey will be inheriting. I'd venture to say that art and skill and commitment to those pursuits will either be absolutely valuable, because of it's rarity, or almost worthless save for the circles of appreciation. It seems as though every generation has handed over the reigns of creative integrity to the next, but none have stumbled headlong into a new world of technological trump cards. Time, in this here and now, is indeed money, and Tomio would not have had a lifetime to apprentice...He'd have had a few years at best. Nothing great, or perhaps, nothing as great as it could be, can be created without some significant investment.

Paint a hundred paintings, indeed...I wish we all had Eddie's luxury.

Plans A through Z - The Summary

Someplace Else
Someplace Else Restaurant, Hamtramck, MI

Alright people, pay attention 'cause this is important...Here's the plan...

As it stands it looks as though this family (wow, that still feels weird to say) has an approximate two year window before some major decisions need to be entertained. Why two years? Well little Miss curious, here's why?

1. Because we said it was a two year window...done.

2. Pat and Mayumi, the owners of this lovely beachfront view, will be moving back to Canada in no more than two years from now. It could even be much less...

3. My boss with the YMCA, M. Smith, has a retirement date of Spring 2011, almost two years from now, school years anyway...and there will be no one, I mean no one keeping the foxes out of the chicken coop after that wonderful woman goes. I expect their will be changes that I'm not willing to endure. I've chosen my work and life up to this point, I won't forfeit that control now. I love what I do because it's what I've chosen. I've done what I could to do what I want. Work-wise I don't step on roller coasters or anything else that I can't get off of.

4. My boss with the school board, Uncle Timmy, has similar plans to M. Smith, just not as set in stone. Once that change occurs there is no guaranteeing the relevance of what I do each day, and so I fully expect to be a retired man's priority. That doesn't translate well into job security.

5. We want to make the trip back to Japan in the summer of 2011, and would really like to stay for an extended period if it's possible. Of course, we've learned that it's you and you alone who makes it possible, so who's stopping us but us?

6. The notion of more kids isn't one we've avoided it's just one we hope to manage in the best sense of the word. When Zo is two the conversation of "when" will amp up, I'm sure, and although it could be another year or two down the road, the question will be floating about looking for an answer.

7. Because we said two years...Sorry, just asserting ourselves here.

Those are some pretty reasonable factors in the framing of these next few years of our lives. Unfortunately, they are littered with questions and we've tried to leave room for the wood to swell and contract, and to shift and settle. We've even left room for the whole thing to topple over.

Are we planners and, not necessarily. Are we doing our best to be smart and plan bet. Was it really necessary to share our plan with all of you...well, no, but it'll be nice when we up and move to Salmon Arm, British Columbia that we gave people warning.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two front teeth and a zfffffffffffffffffffffff

week 34 - 2 top teefers

With all the adjusting to being back home it seems that we forgot to mention that Zoey has two new now she's got four front teeth and is chewing the hell out of the house, more than any puppy I've ever known. The stools in the living room have bite marks in 'em...the edge of the table has been well-chomped too, and I dare not imagine the beating that June's breasts are taking. If I thought she was a champ before I'm certain she's a Heisman Trophy worthy champ now. Zoey just touches my nipples and I'm in the other room. I can't fathom the sacrifice it takes to let a mouth like that, all Bugs Bunnyesque and uber-toothy, get anywhere near your boobies. Yikes...I shudder.

The best part has been that you hardly even know when the kid is teething. She just rolls with everything so casually. She chewed on stuff a little more fervently, and she was a tad bit more fussy on occasion but for the most part this kid was as awesome as awesome gets. We're terribly proud of her but would like to remind her that as awesome as that is she still needs to stop eating the furniture.

BTW...that title exists because I actually fell asleep while typing it.

The Ghosts of All Those Future Saturdays, and the Ubiquitous Power of Zed

Normally at 5am on a football Saturday I'd be already heading out the door on my way to the stadium, but today I woke up, played with Zoey and watched Elmo clips on YouTube. Sounds lame but then you didn't see the mesmerized look on her face, or hold her hand while she gently bounced to the Elmo Song. It kinda makes a rushed morning commute to Ann Arbor seem like a waste of time.

It's going to be fun next year when she's old enough to come to games, perhaps not into the stadium itself, but she'll be more than capable of hanging out on the golf course and playing while the game roars on a few hundred yards away. We hope we can round up a significant contingent of regular tailgators interested in sharing the tradition. Surely we can, and if not, well...waking up on Saturdays and just hanging out with the Zedder is pretty cool too. Someday she's gonna wake up on a Saturday and just suddenly and without provocation, not want to go to the game. My heart will break on my way out the door and it won't much matter what happens on the field that day...mostly because with her the game didn't much matter any Saturday. It wasn't about going to a game. It was about being together in a wonderous place that planted wonderous thoughts that she might harvest later. It was about smiling for eight hours straight and having that smile follow you all the way home and to bed. It was about everything but a game.

Someday I'm going to drive to Ann Arbor alone and that makes Saturday morning at 5am with Elmo but no ticket to today's game seem fine by me. Someday everyone will sleep in and there'll be no wide mouthed, sparkling eyed smiles waking me up because I was that important to her. No, there'll be none. Someday I'm going to miss all this and everything that hasn't even happened yet.

Wow, I really need to stop typing this nonsense. She hasn't even been to a single game yet. I haven't lost her on the UM golf course once yet. She hasn't gotten sick from eating too many hot dogs yet, or fallen asleep before the game even began. She hasn't watched how strangely men can turn into fools and women can turn regretful and embarrassed. She hasn't even had to wait in line once, thinking she'll pee her pants before she gets to use the port-o-john...She hasn't stumbled bleery eyed into a Meijer at 6am in search of food and ice, and she hasn't made a single new friend in the crowded parking lot yet. She'll do all of that someday.

I think I'm most looking forward to how skillfully she'll dismiss those stomach sinking losses on quiet rides back to the border, and how fifteen minutes after an entire season has been lost to one Hail Mary pass or one botched field goal she'll be happy to just be hanging out with Dad.

I miss that already.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 in Stevie and Bread

week 34 - smiley

This is my daughter. She's asleep in the next room. I'm awake in this one. She's cute isn't she? We're awfully biased but c'mon, cute is cute. I wonder what she'll be like when she grows up. I wonder what she'll look like. I wonder where she'll live, and what she'll do. I wonder what she'll look like with hair.

I wonder what the boys will be like that she brings home. I wonder who her friends will be. I wonder how old she'll be when she decides that she's had enough of us. I wonder what her teachers will say about her. I wonder what kind of feeling I'll have when I watch her playing in the backyard, or leaving the house for school each morning, or graduating. I wonder when she'll start to wear shoes on a regular basis.

All I do is stare at her and wonder...well, wonder and hope...hope that never goes away.

A loss of words, and a struggle with perspective

I've written about a dozen things to slap up here tonight and none of them left me feeling satisfied. Too egocentric maybe, too random or irrelevant perhaps, but stuck in Microsoft Word hell forever, never to see the light of day. I don't regret suppressing such crap. It doesn't deserve to ever see sunshine. Sometimes there's just nothing to write, or nothing to write and show people.

I can't get work out of my head, despite a good Red Sox - Angels game, and an entertaining Miami (FL) vs. Georgia Tech football game, but I've got the long day on my mind still and nothing is coming out right. Today I sat with a young man who is neck deep, if not drowning, in his own mistakes, and helping him is near impossible. He's reached a place where everything...everything, save his attitude... is in the hands of other people. Do what you want in life but don't ever do that. SO why can't I lose it tonight? Here's a quick summary...

An addict in way over their head...
Mom's a mess...
Dad has almost nothing left to give...
Kicked out of rehab...
Needs someone to tell him what to do...

Ignoring everything else but the basics and this kid is still desperate for help...The funster was selling Oxycontin, 80's...between 60 and 80 a week...rounding down the numbers, let's take 60 pills at $35 each on average, multiplied by seven = $2,100 a week...which translates to $4,400 a month, or $52, 800 a year. That kind of math was spread out over two years for a grand total of over $100,000 passing through the hands of a sixteen year old wearing a Hollister sweatshirt, and this kid has nothing...nothing...and is probably going to jail. It's a shit show for certain and I can't get it out of my head. I can't put a decent thing down on paper.

My head hurts, Im tired, and this makes for awful reading. I'm going to go kiss my daughter goodnight and see how this bounces around my brain when I'm laying horizontal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The little girl that could (melt her Daddy's heart)

week 34 - "hi mom!"

Up until now I was fairly resilient, relatively adept at not leaning too far out over the rail for fear of falling (or being pushed)...that's a metaphor BTW...but now there's this little girl who absolutely cuts me down. It doesn't get much better than when she's pouring smiles and laughter all over you and it doesn't get much worse than when she could care less if you existed, even if it's only for a moment. She's got strings she doesn't even know she's pulling, poor little thing, in complete control of her father, and praise the soul of George Harrison, that she has no idea yet. That's one secret I need to keep with a greater vigilance than the grave of Jimmy Hoffa.

It makes me shudder to think what this little funster is going to do to me when she has a voice that can echo words and two tiny little pigtails. There might not be a curse word invented to define how hosed I'll be. I'm smitten and shamelessly so, as I should be, but it's a weird feeling to share a house with two women who could crack your heart in two and feed it to the penguins. (Just to be perfectly clear there are no penguins in our neighborhood, none. It's kind of a bummer actually.)

I think I'll adopt a mantra, much like Magnum had whenever he was picking a lock at Robin Masters estate and the dogs were closing in fast..."Pick the lock, don't look at the dogs...Pick the lock don't look at the dogs...Pick the lock, don't look at...You looked at the dogs! It'll help me avoid her sweet stare and fall prey to the inevitable collapse of all my reason and sense of discipline.

"Pick the lock, don't look at the Zedder...Pick the lock, don't look at the Zedder...Ahh, shit, I looked at the Zedder." It's inevitable. I'm toast.

Just for fun here's one of my all-time favorite clips from Magnum PI. This one's for my friend Aimee.

My Wish List, sponsored by the American Film Academy, and dorkiness

I started off writing a post about my most favorite movie scenes, the ones that you wish were a part of your real life, and not just some silly thing from some dumb movie. Things like how I wish I had a friendship like Forrest Whitaker and John Travolta in “Phenomenon”…or how “You’ve Got Mail” makes me want to up and move to Central Park West. How the restaurant scene in “Notting Hill” makes me long for a group of friends whose commitment and affection for one another was that easy and comfortable. It’d also be pretty damn cool to have a friend that owns a restaurant.

Anyway, it went awry somewhere between having a place to hang out like Rick’s Café Americaine in “Casablanca,” and wishing I got to hang out with Seth Rogan in “Knocked Up.” It was after I perused my list of nonsense for the thirty-second time that I noticed a bit of a trend. There were a lot of traditionally dubbed “chick flick” moments on my list and there was a pretty common theme that orbited around friendship. I made a few completely unfounded conclusions.

First, I have both the obvious need for and the unfortunate absence of a significant male friendship, so much so that I watch Nate and George in “Phenomenon” and feel lonely. Or I catch myself watching Captain Reneault and Rick Blaine sitting out front of Ricks Café Americaine in “Casablanca” and I wish I had that easy, if not entirely ephemeral, kind of friendship…but I don’t.

Second, it was shamelessly apparent how much of a female influence there was in my life, both growing up, and perhaps even now as I work in an environment typically full of women, and now live in a household with more estrogen than testosterone. I want to watch a movie with some emotional substance and those are generally the same kind of films that your Joe Average guy avoids. Shrug…It’s funny how something as stupid as a blog post, and doubly so, a blog post about movie moments I wish I inhabited, can be so revealing.

So now that I’ve laid myself bare to the world (which I really haven’t ‘cause I’ve got on these wicked comfy pants right now, as well as flip flops and an exceptionally well fitting shirt, brand new I might add) I might as well get busy letting you catch a glimpse of the movie moments that I wish occupied my photo album. Zoey, pay attention. I know you won’t get these references now but in sixteen years you’ll be pouring over this and wondering what the hell your Dad was talking about…

I wish I worked at Annie’s bookstore, “The Little Shop Around the Corner”…but Steve Zahn has to work there too or I quit.

I wish I was Rob’s business partner and owned 40% of “Championship Vinyl”

I wish I lived in Harmon, CA and had friends like Nate and Doc Brunder.

I wish I got to be backstage with William Miller.

I wish I had John Kelso’s assignment for “Town & Country Magazine.”

I wish I worked for the Sporting News and my fiance’s father owned the White Sox.

I wish I discovered oil on my property and then punched out my boss.

I wish I was Gus Sinski.

I wish I had fun friends with accents like Charles’ or William Thacker’s.

I wish someone’s secret philanthropy supported me through an upstart art career in NYC.

I wish Trent called and convinced me to come to Vegas with him.

I wish I had a field to plow under to make room for a baseball diamond.

I wish I was invited to the Clutterbuck party.

I wish that Chuckie didn’t want me hangin’ out at his house watchin’ Patriots games.

I wish that I had a “man-boy” closet and Red Sox season tickets.

I wish I wrestled a fish down a seething river and someone called me perfect.

I wish I stepped out into the bright light from the darkness of the movie house.

I wish I had a daughter that can’t believe that I smoked, and drank, and was such a slut, but that still loves me.

I wish I was Steve Lopez.

I wish I drove a red Porsche and Samantha Ryan thought I was the cat’s meow.

I wish I had Matt Flamhaff’s life.

That’s about it for now…I was gonna live link all of the movies but you can waste some precious time at work guessing what they are. What else are you doing with your day?

Time flies, and all that crap that everyone said

Just a few minutes after Zo was born she was clinging to Dad's finger and tugging at his heart.

It never struck me until today but, my god, time has been scooting by. Zoey is getting bigger and everything is changing so fast. June has more time behind her on her year long Mat leave than she has ahead of her, and Zo is seemingly just weeks away from walking. Even if those first steps are a month or two distant it's still much earlier than I had ever anticipated. She shuffles along the edge of the couch and the bed, and she stares out of the window, leaning on the ledge and cruising from side to side in search of something to steal her attention. It's difficult to imagine that seven and a half months ago we were petrified to bring her home. Seven and a half months ago her tiny hand could barely grasp my finger tip.

Now she shuffles around here naked like she owns the place...owns our hearts at the very least so maybe that's excuse enough? All I know is that everyone said that this time would fly by and I was indifferent to their input. Now it's all I think of.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tom Brady Loves Our Daughter.,,Surprise, surprise...

Zedder Brady

Zoey had to go to bed long before she got to see her favorite, Tom Brady, pull out another one for the Patriots, in his first game back in 52 weeks. It's too bad 'cause he was unabashed after the game about who he won this one for. Yeah...he's a pretty big fan of the Zedder. Who can blame him?

Monday, September 14, 2009

You make bath time lots of fun...Dad cleans up his act for Zo

Dad Zo bath

After Dad got home from work and quickly jumped in the lake, he crashed Mom and Zo's bath party...jumped right in! Zo loved it...Dad loved it...and absolutely no animals were hurt in the filming of this. Everyone wins.

One of the benefits of having a beach in your backyard is the awesome ability to transition seamlessly from sun, sand, water and waves to a warm wonderful smelling baby bath with your trunks still on. Again, everyone wins, and by that I mean mostly me.

The grass is always greener when Zo's in the photo...

week 34 - checking out her finger again
We have a feeling that Zo might be a bit of a "flower picker" when she starts playing 'ball.

Summer arrived a little late in these parts but no one is complaining, especially not Zoey. She's been a back yard bambino since the sun started to shine around here, which was really just a week or two ago. She's getting over her aversion to grass and it seems like our ant problem has lessened a little so the Zedder is out and about every chance she gets. She's super mobile now so it's hard to keep her from doing anything she really wants to do. Once this little funster puts her mind to it you're pretty much at her mercy. It's pretty funny. We don't give in to her but we fall away laughing at her conviction to things.

Every day things get a little easier despite her over-the-top super stubborn attitude. All of us are more capable every day, and it feels cool to be developing at the same rate in terms of new experiences. For her, everything is absolutely new...for us, everything is just different, but both require a learning curve and even something as silly as backyard playing is something we get good at together. It's funny how she started off this latest development stage (this whole 6-7 month deal) on a beach in Hawaii so she really learned how to hang out in the sand before she got the hang of grass, which is a pretty cool story in itself. Not every kid learns to play outside on a beach in O'ahu.

week 34 - first dandelion
Le Zed discovering her very first dandelion...she's obviously enthralled.

She's a pretty attentive kid. She notices everything -- boats, airplanes, bugs, butterflies, the sound of the waves, the wind blowing through the trees, even distant trains -- and she's a lucky little girl what with the dozen or so domestic rabbits that wander wild in her yard. She even watches the seagulls and just tonight met her first toad. She liked him. Like I said, she's gotten over her aversion to grass and this backyard of hers is quickly becoming her favorite place.

week 34 - playing on the picnic table
Ain't no mountain high enough...

Like most parents, we do our best t let her discover things on her own and we really only get in her way when you can see the stitches before they happen. Letting her fall flat has been something that just happened more than it was something we practiced, but we certainly don't want any take backs. She's fine exploring this relatively new world and aside from our urge to buy her a helmet on occasion she's no worse for the wear. I'm still waiting for her first grass stains on her jeans. That's gonna be a big moment for her Dad.

The things dads and daughters too!

week 33 - daddy and zo... easily distracted

Zedder and her Dad have developed quite the unique relationship since that Hawaiian Airlines flight landed on Oahu back in July. In the weeks since they've found more fun in each other and have nurtured more than their fair share of quirks. That's the story of fathers and daughters everywhere but it's ceaselessly amazes you nonetheless. As much as mother and daughters have bonds little women and their father's find some room for special connections as well. Now Dad still has no success putting little Zed to sleep at night, and the fruitless efforts to comfort her at 3am bares little resemblance to the successful way Mom does the very same, but Dad has his own habits and Zoey has her own affections and together they make for a cute combination.

week 33 - daddy and zo

These days Dad and Zo are more inclined to go for a walk together when times get difficult. They walk in the waves and chase rabbits, or sometimes butterflies, and talk about baseball. Zedder may be "Shoeless Zo" forever to her story telling Dad and there are worse nicknames to be had.

week 33 - daddy and zo... trying to eat dad's nose

They do this nose squenching thing and Zo loves to gently tug at his hair or slap the skin of his shirtless shoulder. They touch finger tips rather than commit to high fives, and the pair watch a combination of Sesame Street clips and Detroit Tiger games on the computer. Zoey crawls under his bent legs every chance she gets now, as though she might be escaping from some hamstring prison. They inspect the stuffed animals hanging in the toy hammock in her room (because Mom can't reach), and they play in the hammock. Sure there's very little of the night time demands that make Mom so invaluable but those will come Mom assures Dad...those will come. By the time she's two, "just try shaking her loose from you coat tails," she says. God, I hope she's right. Mom's almost always are.