Sunday, February 28, 2010

It Feels Good To Let Your Heart Show...

It feels good to let your heart show.

I heard the phrase on an Olympic review on CTV. It's from an essay by Globe and Mail columnist, Stephen Brunt, and I love it. As these 21st Winter Olympic Games close I'll remember them as the 17 days that made me more proud to be a Canadian than I've ever been. The overwhelming pride and the sudden sense of nationalism comes not from a record number of Gold Medals, from hosting these games, or from hockey Gold, but rather from feeling this country that I call home swell with the kind of overt pride that we have been so reluctant to wear on our sleeves for so long.

Nationalism here in Canada has always manifested itself in a muted, hesitant way, that is until now. This country has been transformed, and there's now a new definition of who we are. I feel it. I think a lot of Canadians feel it. I've never been so proud.

It's difficult to describe for someone who grew up on the U.S. border, who has had so many transformative experiences south of that invisible line, and who had always believed his identity was so closely tied to that singular geographical division. I suppose 90% of Canada could say something similar, as that's the percentage of our population of 34 million that live within 100 miles of the American border. I suppose every square mile of this country offers a truly unique experience. I'm now hell bent on distancing myself from this imaginary line a lot more than I ever have been.

I'd saved traveling throughout Canada as something I wanted to do as I grew older, and instead I have climbed aboard airplanes for all kinds of different destinations save the Canadian longer. After these 17 days I want to see it all. I want to live closer to the very experiences and ideals that make us all so proud to be Canadian tonight. I want to express my affection for this place I've been so lucky to call home in a much more obvious and unabashed way than I ever have. I've embraced a kind of quiet pride my entire life but no more. It feels good to let your heart show.

I am Canadian.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Zoey Blog...a Proud Sponsor of Moms.

Sorry, but here's another stellar Olympic commercial that'll bring you to tears. If it doesn't then you should bum a ride to the morgue 'cause you're dead. Brought to you by The Zoey Blog, a proud sponsor of Moms everywhere.

13 Golds and a Happy Little Girl

Zoey was a happy little girl today, and why shouldn't she be? She got to hang out with her parents non-stop, no overnights, no drop-offs or pick-ups...just her house, her room, her things, her family. She was a smile factory all damn day.

Zo and Dad slipped out into the snow for coffee this morning, then we scooted back and grabbed Mom for an Olympic clothing shopping excursion that yielded nothing, well, nothing but an entire new wardrobe that ISN'T Olympic in nature. By the time we got to the store Zo had done a number in her drawers, ruining absolutely everything. When June came choking out of the bathroom with Zo wearing nothing but a diaper and her winter coat I nearly fell to the floor with laughter. And yet there was that little girl's smile...she didn't care. We just tore the tags off of some new clothes, dressed her up, and BLAM...problem solved. What a champ...smiling all the time, even pantless in Zellers.

When we got home she napped and then woke and ate like she'd never eaten before, she had an afternoon of playing in every room of the house, including on Grandma's freshly made bed, and then finally settled down enough for dinner, a bath, and Canadian Gold Medals #11 thru 13. It's an awfully happy household today...70% Zedder...30% National pride. cute is this little girl? But who does she look like?

Let Sleeping Cats Lie Flat on Their Backs

Debu is easily the second most popular person in this house, right behind Mom. That's okay with me as I've never had to breast feed or sh!& in a box. However, from the feline point of view, Dad's the best thing ever, maybe even better than food. I find consolation in that affection.

Poor Debu, I know he feels neglected, and I feel badly about it. He's been nothing short of an amazing pet for a decade now, and we love him. He's been a super big brother to Zed and he doesn't fuss in the least when we ship him off to fat camp while we go to Hawaii or California or New York. He just settles in at Camp Partridge and waits for us to come pick him up and bring him home. He's a champ.

Despite his occasional aversion to Zedder's abusive ways, for the most part he loves her and tolerates her pokes and pulls, pounds and squishes. He's been a beautiful big brother and we couldn't have asked for a better pet to introduce Zoey to the world of domestic animals. She'll learn a lot of lessons from Debu, especially when you consider that with any luck he'll be around another seven or eight years.

Just tonight while we were bathing Debu slipped into the bathroom for a toilet top visit. It's the first time he's ever done that and Zo was thrilled. So thrilled that when he decided it was time to leave she got so upset that she wanted out of her bath. Yup, she was done. Her good friend, Debu, had called it quits so she was doing the same. These might be her first lessons in friendship and it makes me laugh.

In the end, she's much too young to make much of these first few years with Debu, so here's to hoping that he's around a long, long time. In the meantime we'll have to learn to pay better attention to what was once our sole baby. He deserves it, besides, he'll be our one baby that we won't have to pay college tuition for.

- 87.4% of evening television
- Calling someone who never calls you
- Checking your email
- Six times out of ten, the laundry
- The NBA free agent class of 2010
- Wondering why Steve Stamkos was picked #1 and Not Drew Doughty
- Drinking tasty boozes
- Shopping for Olympic gear
- Whether or not Rich Rod survives 2010
- Shoveling snow
- Facebook status updates
- Performance evaluations
- Dessert
- Fourth place
- Pre-season rankings
- Bachelor parties
- Journalistic hubris
- Batting averages
- Air miles
- Post-game, on ice celebrations with beer, champagne and cigars
- Floor seats
- Parenting advice
- The opinion of vice-principals
- The performance of Mite, Tyke, Novice, and Atom hockey referees
- Washing your jeans after each use
- Returning your room keys to the front desk
- Cloth over disposable
- Using milk instead of water when mixing Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Mark McGuire's step-brother and his book
- Buying infant and toddler toys new rather than used
- Window seats
- gender
- NCAA basketball games in football stadiums
- straight lines
- guidance counselor's advice
- 3 year General Sociology degrees
- Attending NHL post-game press conferences in person
- Living up to expectations
- TV Guide
- Probiotic yogurt
- 40% of power tools
- The extra protection/warranty
- Tartar control toothpaste
- $2000 mattresses
- Being right

Brian's Absurd Theory of Animosity...write this down

This is what nausea induced apathy has blessed me with on this quiet, snowy Saturday.

I'm supposed to be:

a) Occasionally depressed
b) Mildly irritated
c) Scratch that...Pissed off
d) Selectively stressed

How is it that I've come to the seemingly worrisome conclusion that I should be all of the above? It's pretty simple really, and not hardly as worrisome as you might imagine, in fact, figuring it all out has been an enlightening process. I'm supposed to be those things because those are the seeds that this occasionally awful world is planting, and as the saying goes...if you plant corn, you get corn.

Before you assume I've lost my head and hope, relax for a moment and take a look around you. If there isn't an overwhelming amount of things to feel a) thru d) about then you're either blind, ignorant, or your annual household income tops $150 K. It's a miserable world out there. Why is everyone not struggling to maintain their composure in these hubris fueled huckster times. We lie and are lied to, and the best liars -- the ones who don't even see it as lying -- get the blackberries, nicest business cards, the corner offices, the expense accounts, and the fancy clothes that some other liar tricked them into thinking they needed. At least it used to bother people that the liars and frauds and phonies rose to the top; the Joe Schmoes expressed concern about such things and displayed an acute awareness that shit floats to the top. Today, we put the shit on magazine covers, laud it's buoyancy and anxiously wait to buy the shit's best selling business book about how you can get your shit to float too.

What the @#$% is wrong with this world when well over half the people we orbit around daily -- in our own pathetic lives or as we tune in to watch other people 's deceivingly less pathetic lives -- are used car salesmen. Do you think Dr. Oz is a #$%&ing genius or does he get a lot of help selling you the latest prescription bullshit? That offensive side-part schmuck is as contrived as the scrubs he wears (he hasn't seen the inside of a hospital since he stepped onto Oprah's set for the first time), and we want to turn him into the only honest physician we know? It's embarrassing. He's Al Bundy without the shoe horn. Weird example, I know, but hang with me.

Here's what a snowed in Saturday and some post-concussive symptoms have illuminated for me...Bullshit gets to me. Bullshit should get to me. Bullshit should get to everyone. I'm surprised the whole world isn't pissed off. It strikes me now that they're the ones with the problem (that's called displacement in case you were wondering, and this thing in it's entirety is called humor, so don't fret over my mental health...this is supposed to be funny), not me. I've learned that the real pessimists are the so-called optimists who are too afraid to acknowledge just how bad everything is, while the real optimists are the supposed pessimists who haven't yet given up hope. I suppose for verbiage sake I should use the term "realist" as opposed to "pessimist," but let's not get sidetracked with linguistic accuracy. Someday when we're all together, in person, I can explain it all better, provided that you're picking up the tab, you blind, smiling, and deluded masked masses. In the meantime I'll worry about how I'll translate all this for my daughter someday (who am I kidding, by the time I'll need to my theory will be shot all to hell), I figure that I've got two options...

1. I can explain to her that there are things in this world that should piss you off.

2. Explain to her why I'm a willfully ignorant, self-delusional sheep of a person who won't even get angry when everything before me suggests that getting angry is exactly what I should be getting.

Of course, this whole thing is just a theory, and in the words of Daniel Tosh, "it's probably wrong," but I'm willing to risk it. How do you stand up for anything when your willing to tolerate everything. You can't. So while I'm waiting for this latest of theories to implode and then dissolve in the most hesitant hearts of reason, I'm going to go get my pineal gland attuned thanks to this great link that Grandad Jerry sent me. I could sure use it. You could too, especially if you're taking this whole ridiculous rant too seriously. The truth is you're suppose to know that the world isn't fair, and that it's your obligation as an upright walking homo sapien to question things, to discern what's @#$% and what isn't @#$%, and then go play with your wife and daughter because they're the closest thing to earthly perfection you can get, unless of course, you're counting Dr. Oz's spectacular side-part. Then, naturally, it's a push.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Benefits of Sick...

If you've never been up in the mountains above Malibu then you're robbing yourself of one of the best,most breathtaking views on the planet. June and I stumbled into it one time trying to cut back over to Malibu from Thousand Oaks and we were mesmerized. Our California was so typically staring up at those mountains, not down from them. I have dreams about that view.

In searching for a few photos from Decker Canyon Rd. etc...I stumbled upon this guy's photo archive of his travels with his 2006 Eagle FWC camper trailer. It's mounted on a 2002 Toyota Double Cab Tacoma Limited 4x4 so the bugger could get in and out of all of the places he wandered. Wow, you really need to check out these photos and then sit down to re-evaluate your life. I want one 365 day stretch of this kind of wonder and wandering, just one, that's all I need. Well, I say that but I probably don't mean it. I could have a lifetime of it.

I've spent the day in and out of nausea and looking in on heart warming dreams. Sure I'm sick, but if I hadn't gotten sick I'd have never found these photos.

I think I'd like to save some loot and disappear for a year or so...I'd settle for six months. I could lay down with my wife and child with these views rocking us to sleep, easy peasy.

Just About The Sweetest Thing Ever...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting Acquainted with the Bathroom

I drove home from whichever school I was at this afternoon (sometimes I lose track) and a morning full of stern faced lawyers and even sterner (that should be a word) judges, and had to work hard not to blow a chunk or two out the window. It seems I've caught Zo's gift of a bug too, so now the Zedder's hit list reads:

1. Grandma

2. Dad

Who's next? My money's on June, but then she usually eludes generalizations so I could be wrong.

Yikes I feel like popo. Dead dreary and stomach flippy...I believe those are the medical terms used to describe this stomach virus that I seem to have inherited from my daughter. I'm not quite sure which end I should point at the toilet and that's typically a very, very bad turn of events. I'm just thankful that I'm still in the frame of mind that I can decipher which one I'm better off engaging in. I've been in worse states, and in those moments clarity was questionable.

Today, I came home to a sleeping Zo (Thank whatever God you choose) and so I could fall into bed without any obstacles. I slept for about an hour and the when I woke up I had a treasure chest of Zoey gifts on the bed beside me...there was Crosby, Stills, and Nash, a wide assortment of finger puppets, the Fever Pitch DVD, a tactile play thingy, a large stuffed pig, and her travel kit including thermometer, mucus sucker, nail clippers, etc...I also woke to an odd assortment of dirty laundry from Zo's laundry bag....Oh, and a sleeping cat, although I don't imagine that Zedder had anything to do with that. It was a nice way to wake up, although opening my eyes and feeling better would have been preferred.

Ugh...someone punch me in the face.

Random Adorable Photo For Your Enjoyment

Zedder and her grey tights and pink socks attend to some dinner.

Two smooches times twenty...

This morning Zedder walked me to the door and offered up a giant smooch right before I left the house...two, in fact. One while I was putting on my shoes, and the other right before I exited stage left. She stood there and watched me leaving, not upset at all, or even confused, just seeing me off. I kinda like that kid.

Grandma must have caught whatever hurl-inducing bug that Zo had because she spent half the night shivering and shaking, barfing and, well, you know...not enjoying a peaceful sleep. She woke up fine though, just like Zo, and now those two are teaming up to face another day of late winter confinement along the lake. They're know, when they're not blowing chunks.

It reminds me how lucky we are to have Grandma and Baachan lining up for Zo time like they were overnighting for Springsteen tickets. We've been uber-fortunate in that they've made our lives seamless and muchmore than manageable. We owe them big time, although I think they'd swim across the Indian Ocean for a chance to wink at Zed. Grandad gets his loafers all backwards when it comes to Zo too and it's pretty cute, only in a really manly way, none of that maternal freak out stuff, just love and fun.

That's what this whole endeavor has and fun...chuck in some hard work and learning and fatigue, but all of those things are overwhelmed by the fun and love junk. June's walked me to the door a million times, and she's kissed me once or twice on my way out the door, but this morning I stepped into today feeling about twenty feet tall, 'cause that's how tall I was in the eyes of that little girl standing there at the safety gate.

I hope everyone's Thursday is graced with some twenty feet tall stuff today...dunno how you'll get it but I hope you get it. I wanna stare into people's eyes today, not look down to find them. I'd like some company to share all this confidence.

I'll do my best to try and help. Ask yourself who the coolest person in the world is and then click on this.

Fun huh? How you feelin' now?

My illusive by-product philosophy

I was having a conversation with a kid the other day, and in one of those semi-profound and inexplicable verbal landslides I said, with very little thought, that all of the best things are always by-products...that happiness, as illusive as it might sometimes be, is a by-product. She looked at me like I just said the dumbest thing ever. I paused to wonder if I had, but then I quickly recovered. It is a by-product and I'm glad that notion found it's way out of the caverns of my mind and into the open air. A little more explaining made it clearer to both of us and I was happy I said it.

See....a by-product, right there. Happiness right on the heels of a random statement.

You can plot your journey to success or happiness or wealth or whatever the hell it is you’re looking for, but if you’re too focused on the end result, you’re going to miss everything good going on around you. All of the things that intersect and combine to make us feel this great big, hard to grasp and define thing called happiness are too often the things that we overlook.

Friends make us happy, so have some good ones...

Activity and adventure makes us happy, so get busy...

Purpose makes us feel happy, so find some...

It's a pretty easy recipe actually. And recipe might just be the best analogy. You can't get a pizza without making it. Sure, you can dial a number and someone will deliver it, but there was somebody a few steps earlier in the cycle that was making it. See, happiness isn't an innate, fell from the sky thing. It has to be slapped together with ingredients. In this case perhaps even the pizza reference is apt. In today's society we can pick up the phone, or log on, and have almost anything instantly...we're shooting for the by-product straight away. We get on a plane and BLAM, we're in Hawaii...we send a text to a "list" on our cell phone and BLAM all fifty of our friends know where we're headed Friday night...we make one phone call and BLAM we have a pizza...see what I mean, straight to the by-product.

I've been thinking about that conversation a lot since it happened and it seems synchronicitous that it occurred when it did. We struggle with right place, right time type notions on a constant basis...I'm sure it's that stage of our lives...and sometimes we forget that it's the ingredients that make the pizza great, not it's accessibility. Happiness is a by-product of a lot of different things. It's the trip as a whole -- who you were with, what you did, how much fun you had -- not the destination.

I like it when I say smart $@#% without even trying. Makes me wonder sometimes if I'm not smarter than I realize...but then I go and say something ridiculous and all is right with the world again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is what I come home to...

Zedder munchin' out at dinner time...

Some days I'm just all used up by the time I get home. The degree of my frustration, stress, or disappointment doesn't even hit me until a half hour after I've left work, just in time for me to walk through the front door. So some days I step through the door looking a little worse for wear. Most days Zedder meets me at the door and instantly adds a little brightness to the day, but somedays even that greeting isn't enough to shake me into smiles. On those days I re-group in whatever manner I can -- a warm shower, a five minute couch collapse -- and then get busy being myself again. Fortunately on most days this little face is enough to shake loose whatever issues the day has stuck to me.

Grandma calls it an "oinge" but Zo just calls it gooood.

So, often enough to keep me sane, I walk through the door and see this little girl freaking out to see me and it eases me back into this better world I've got here on the edge of ice and sky with Michigan staring back at us from across a frozen lake. Then, in those moments, I love it here, and I forget about whatever it was that was eating at me, and I try not to get this tiny person too worked up before bedtime, even though it might be exactly what I want to do. We slip into our routines, and we discover new adventures and we sweep away another day like a bunch of weary curlers. Okay, maybe not curlers but the only other sweeping reference I could think of was a janitor and how sentimental does that sound? It doesn't.

This is the beautiful face that wipes all of the day's ugliness off of mine.

Oh Canada...Keep on keepin' on 'til Zo's ready to give'r too

Canada put the smack down on Russia tonight, 7-3, which got us all smiling around here, and then our women's bobsledders scooped up Gold and Silver medals...It's been a fun night of Olympic coverage here on the edge of the lake.

I dunno why we're not out in Vancouver celebrating these games with Aunt Netta and the rest of the world...the fact is it never even crossed our minds, which is absolutely embarrassing. I can't believe we never even considered it. Turds, both of us. I guess the best that we can do now is buy some Olympic gear and hope for a Gold Medal hockey game...

What fun stuff these games have been. Watching the Canadian and American women's bobsled teams celebrate their medals on the podium tonight reminds me how much more fun girls have in these eye of the tiger bullsh!t, no poor sportsmanship crapola....just smiles and fun. I've gained a new and improved affinity for women's sports, and I already had a pretty damn respectable affection for them...courtside seats at Madison Square Garden a few years ago for the NY Liberty and Detroit Shock Playoff game was enough to win me over for life. Now, seeing these girls atop the podium I'm reminded that this stuff is fun and friendly, or it should be. U can't wait to watch in her first Olympics...what? It'll happen...Winter Games 2030, in Denver. I just made that up. I don't know if they'll be in Denver.

Oh Canada on this wonderful the words of Bob and Doug Mackenzie, "It's been a beauty."

Always two steps ahead of the man...

A quick overview of my detailed plan for world domination...

Bridging the Culture Gap With Grandaughter Kisses

A happy June smooching an awkward feeling, but happy Jiichan.

This is a picture of June kissing her Jiichan and I like it very much. In fact, I love it. I'm posting it randomly because it's just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen and I thought some of you might be interested in taking in a little more sweetness today. Who couldn't use some more? I certainly could...we all could.

I love this picture because the kind of intimacy that June is dumping all over her Jiichan isn't exactly a Japanese fact, it can make for some pretty awkward moments. However, you just know that deep inside Jiichan was imploding with love and pride and a muted kind of sentimentality that us Westerners would have a hard time understanding. Love is love regardless of the hemisphere you reside's just expressed differently in those different places, but love is still that same old overwhelming thing.

Someday this will be Zoey laying a fat smooch on one of her grandparents, with a much less awkward acceptance but no less love.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Go in Menu, not as in Five Major Violations

Today the NCAA leveled five major violation accusations at the University of Michigan's football program, which I would normally care a great deal about except for the fact that I'm obsessed with Loblaw's Blue Menu items and have officially decided to give up college football for a healthier lifestyle, which includes that awesome Blue Menu stuff and excludes chicken wings and stressful NCAA investigations. So now when I say Go Blue I mean it in an entirely different way. I mean it like I want you to stop whatever you're doing and eat something from the Blue Menu. Mostly eat fruit and veggies, but chuck in some Blue Menu stuff just to keep your sanity. That's what I'm doing and it's turning me into a health conscious bucket of optimism, you know, if buckets had consciences.

I'm just gonna flat out ignore the Michigan stuff because that's the kind of thing I do. It's an age old fight or flight thing, I think.

On completely unrelated notes, I was told that I'm the primary subject of my old teacher's Leadership classes, which is cool. I deflected the humbling revelation with inappropriate and unnecessary humor, because that kind of praise feels pretty awkward.

I also got word that I'll be a delegate at North America's biggest Gang Summit in Toronto at the end of March which is beyond cool, much better than all that sappy leadership stuff, and a nice distraction from five charges of major NCAA violations. You know things are bad in Ann Arbor when I'd rather hang out with Crips and bloods and Venice 13's than endure an investigation.

Zo is feeling like several million bucks today, after a double dose of the pukies yesterday. Go Zo!

Lastly, I was completely abusing all of my old Mitch Hedberg performances today and I realized that I love him more than Q-tips, and that's a lot. Maybe even more than spaghetti and blankets which is really a lot.

It's all a pretty good lesson in that if you eat from the Blue Menu you will have classes taught about you, you will get to hang around hard core gangsters, you will be surrounded by comedic genius, and all of your Fall Saturdays will be ruined. You'll feel great though...and so will your previously pukie daughter.

お誕生日おめでとう 太一!!!

Netta, Taichi, and Renee out for dinner and laughs in Japan

Happy Birthday Taichi...Today is June's cousin's 18th birthday! Eighteen years old! I can't even believe it! When I first met Taichi he was five or six years old, and the most intelligent and funny little kid. I remember that he was super creative and wildly giggly. He visited Canada from his home in Japan with his Mom, Kumi, and I remember him coming to summer camp to play and hang out. He was a good, good kid and has turned into a good, good young man. Eighteen years old...I'm absolutely astonished!

We're excited to get to Japan and see Taichi someday soon. It won't be this year but we're hoping for 2011. He'll look a whole lot different than that little kid at camp did. Taichi's a grown man. I bet he has to shave more than his cousin Ian! Wait...everyone on the planet has to shave more than Ian, so that's a decieving statement. Regardless, that fella isn't a little kid anymore!

Taichi also has his university entrance exams in Hokkaido on Friday, which is a big, big deal in Japan. Heck, it's a big deal anywhere. We're wishing him the best of luck and hoping that he does well. The exam is for one of the best public universities in Japan and Taichi is hoping to study engineering if he gets in. He'll be attending one of the more prestigious schools in the country if all goes well. I saw it coming waaaay back in summer camp. He was a wizard with Lego and you should have seen what he could do with popsicle sticks and glue! He was an engineer even then... you know, just on a much smaller scale, and of course, our testing regimen at camp was much less rigorous than it will be in Hokkaido.

June tells story after story about Taichi. Both June and Anette lived with their cousin in Japan for a short time , and both have some pretty funny Taichi stories. My favorite might be from Taichi's first ever visit to Canada. How was he to know that 500 millilitres of Coca-Cola could turn a little Japanese kid's poop green! He couldn't have known, so he had a good excuse to freak out, and freak out he did!

"Okasan, Okasan!!! Mite, mite!!! (Mom, Mom...Look, look!!!) "

Sure enough, the evidence was right there in the toilet for Kumi to see. You can't blame the kid for freaking out. Green poop would freak me out too!

Happy Birthday Taichi !!! Good luck on your exams and sorry for that poop story. I couldn't help myself. It still makes me laugh every time I hear it.

"Okasan, Okasan!!! Mite, mite!!!" Oh man...that's still funny. You're never living that one down, no matter how old you get or what school you go too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pukey McPuke and the Hurl Buckets

Zedder barfed her beautiful little head off today. As the snow fell in buckets outside and Daddy got home from work early because of it, the Zedder got sick all over Mom. Grandma ended up needing to change her shirt too, and Dad was assigned pukey laundry duties. Le Zed perked up for a little while but then hurled again in gargantuan amounts all over was something to behold. Zo and Mom ended up showering together while Dad did his best to help out.

It's the first time Zedder's really puked and she was more than a little weirded out by it all. So now, as the snow keeps falling and the house smells full on like barf, we've got to keep an eye out for diarrhea and make sure that the Zedder's getting some fluids and rest. Poor kid...blowing chunks sucks the mustard big time.

Maybe she just discovered that Canada lost to the US in hockey last night? I almost puked myself.

Beautiful Bicycle...I Can't Get You Outta My Head

I think I know what I'd like to be doing to unwind a little. I think I'd like to find me 65 to 70 degree temps...a cool old city to cruise around and get lost in...and a bike. I haven't crawled on top of a bike in ten years and that's just stupid. I mean, embarrassing. It's kind of hard to believe actually. Anyway, in light of that horrible revelation I think I'd like to do some exploring on the back of a bicycle.

Now the question is where, and when, and the good part is that I could make the trip an excuse to buy myself a bike.

This morning I got to work and found an invite to North America's best Gang Summit taking place in Toronto in late March. It's expensive and I could very well find both employers unwilling to foot any part of the bill, in which case I'd be eager to still go. BUT, if you make me pick between a bike ride on a brand new bike in some amazing place or advancing my career...uhmmm, I'm taking the bike ride.

Off the top of my head I'm thinking about riding up and down the North San Diego coast...maybe even venture into Orange. That sounds pretty amazing.

I could peddle around Napa and Sonoma for a few days and feel like I tripped and fell into a quiet kind of heaven.

I wouldn't be opposed to Savannah, Georgia either...or maybe Austin, Texas...That's it! Bike around Austin Texas during the SXSW festival...get my bike and my groove on at the same time! Or Spring Training...yeah, Spring Training! I could bike around Flroida or Arizona catching ball games and sunshine.

I'd bike around New York but then I want to survive the trip and return home to my wife and daughter...and biking around New York City in March sounds, well...meh.

Oh man...the possibilities are endless.

All I know is that I could use the time to strain my legs and ease my mind. I could pretend like I do it all of the time and that I'm not some stressed out, salvation seeker on the back of a much too expensive two wheeled geek machine out trampsing the countryside looking for fun and freedom from the maddening masses of the contemporary working world by running away and acting like a ten year old.

Wait...I got run over by a car when I was ten and riding my bike around willy-nilly...Maybe I'd better think this through a little more.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Electra Kool Aid Acid Test

I want a beauty bike ...not something stupid needs to be needs pedal breaks so I can do them wicked cool slide out stops...something all old and retro lookin' would suit me just fine...and it has to be big...6'3" and 240 lbs looks awfully stupid on a little bike.

Suggestions? For the past few years we've been drinking the Electra Kool Aid, but them sicles be expensive bro...We can't be affording them wheels. We be needing something more some Grannies unused Schwinn or somethin'...

One I get 'er I'm gonna build me a wicked Zedder cart off the back to drag that funster around in. She'd giggle herself to sleep I bet.

Why am I thinking bike in the middle of an Ontario February? 'Cause I found this site and now I can't sleep without dreams of aching calves and crazy cool rides.

Healthier Habits and Freakshow Frogs...

Zo's second favorite frog, Prince Fielder, practices safe shopping.

High blood pressure and the urge to live to be 137 years old has me embracing the notion of living a little better. For the most part we've been a much healthier bunch since Zoey got dropped off by that drunken stork. We've chilled a bit on all the careless eating out, and we've certainly stocked the fridge a lot better. We hardly drink alcohol anymore, which is a sad and depressing thing, but our bodies are happier, and Friday nights are cheaper. There are still a lot of changes that we could make but we've made some good ones already.

Today we hit the grocery store and everyone stood back while Dad took charge of the cart, filling it with good food and practicing a safer kind of shopping all around by buckling Zo's plush frog in for the ride. What's most interesting about this shopping spree, aside from that whole buckled in frog thing, is that Dad is the suckiest cook ever and watching him by food is an exercise in confusion. It's a disconnected, spontaneous effort at best, often hilarious.

The cart looked like a farmers market and it's surprising how good you feel just shopping good. There were veggies galore...egg plant, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, celery, peppers, onions, and some peppercorn squash. There was plenty of President's Choice newest Blue Menu items along with a greater attention to organic and additive free foods. Our biggest priority was low sodium but we were pretty attentive to making the jump to a more natural diet.

We're cutting back on meat which was already a pretty small part of our diets. We could never get rid of the stuff completely because we grew up in the midwest and we'd be punched out and then kicked out of the middle of the country if we did we like it. What we are noticing however is that less is better. We're treating meat in almost the same manner as we're treating booze, and our bodies are breathing sighs of relief. Now if we could only give up caffeine.

We wished we had a great market near us but we don't, at least not in the winter. The Great Canadian Superstore is a nice option but it's one of those giant box stores which kind of bums us out. Zoey loves it though, as she wanders through a wonderland of unnecessary goods for hours upon hours. They've got a pretty great clothing line for kids and Zedder gets a legit kick out of shopping these days.

She actually shops...thirteen months and and she's shopping. She pulls out the things that she likes and even signs "please, when she wants things. That kind of deal would set us back on our heals except she's a pretty disciplined kid and doesn't really want or ask for much. It's just cool to see her communicating. She went diving for tights today in a sale bin with her Mom life-guarding from a safe distance above.

By the time it was all said and done we had a cart full of goodness and a daughter with an audience. It wasn't the most ambitious of Sundays but it ended up a nice one. We sometimes get frustrated at the lack of winter distractions here. In the summer there are a billion and a half options but in the middle of a midwest winter you're typically stuck with midwest options...eating, drinking, and spectator generalize. We're kind of done with most of that junk. It's surprising how fun and affirming it feels to do something as simple as shop for groceries, if you're doing it right. We're eager to get gone on most weekends and we're getting uncomfortably used to the feeling of frustrated restlessness, the kind that sends you driving great distances to do nearly anything. Grocery shopping is a sad replacement for actual adventuring but today it was kind of fun. Until I typed it I didn't realize how lame that sounded. Wow, we need to find some fun.

Summer Vacation Sunday with Phineas and Ferb

My Sunday started with Phileas and Ferb on the Disney Channel. I'd never seen them before and now it's hands down my favorite cartoon. I love those two guys, and just hearing the words summer vacation is enough to get me excited.

There are officially 104 days days of summer vacation on the show and the boys are determined to take advantage of all of them. Sounds like a pretty familiar ambition doesn't it? THis year we're out of the beach house again for six weeks and so we'll be in search of affordable adventures. With any luck we'll have as much fun as Phineas and Ferb, but that'd take some serious effort. As I'm rubbing the sleep out of these Sunday eyes I'm excited at the prospect.

We'll go anywhere but right now the options look like this...

Back to California

Back to Hawaii

To Vancouver

Not a very long list but when you consider the notion that anything is possible, and in the true spirit of Phineas and Ferb we've got to make the most out of our summer vacation, well...we could end up anywhere. Any ideas?

Now, I need some coffee so I can peruse this crazy list of last occurences that I found over at Wikipedia

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sleep least try to sleep tight

A sleeping Brian, rocket ship pajamas and all...

I used to sleep like this...not anymore, and sadly Zoey's not to blame, not typically. Somehow (not a difficult equation) I've developed a pretty solid case of stress. Blame it on the day job with a hefty chunk of ownership on the personality and the values system. I take a lot on, personally and emotionally it seems, and I've got to stop. My blood pressure is through the roof, I feel like hell half the time. I'm constantly feeling as though I need a break...but now even the breaks aren't long enough to ease me off those heart thumping ledges...figurative ledges folks, not literal. I'm not that far gone. I need a combo prescription of rest and relaxation, a new ability to shut things off and to avoid helping other people with their baggage, and an outlet that's more healthy than what I've got. Sitting around typing and sketching just doesn't cut it from a physician's standpoint.

I've been proactive because, well, I think I've got a head on my shoulders and I'm smart enough to know what I need, when I need it...most of the time anyway. I've gotten back to some basics. I'm eating better. I've committed myself to a better exercise routine, and I'm saying #$%^ it a lot more lately. I'm doing my best to make sure that those places where I do pile my anxiety and affection are worthy of them both, and spectator sports isn't one of those places. I don't need one game playoffs to reach the post season and the catatonic distress that follows. I'm aware that I need to cultivate some friendships that give back to me in great big heaping doses...flippant and fickle friendships only hurt my head. I need people who want to spend time with me...and vice versa. I'm getting better at that, but not finding it reciprocated as much as I'd like. Part of my re-evaluation of priorities I suppose. When one spends half his life in stadium seats and/or press boxes rather than in those places he might better be it's difficult to round up a friend to go to the art gallery...very difficult.

I sleep okay, but as is evident with my 4am typing, it could be better. I could go on and on but then that's not much of a healthy alternative, is it? Nope.

Like Bowie them every day. Now I just need to find some sleep and lose this headache. Life's too short, and I want to sleep like that little kid again.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Do yourself a giant, giant favor and go see "Crazy Heart." If you don't I will almost certainly feel sorry for you. It was so, so, so incredible. I wish there were more letters in the word incredible because ten measely letters isn't enough.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, myself a bit of a crush on Maggie that started way back with "Stranger Than Fiction"

Robert Duvall...always, always great.

Jeff Bridges...his performance hurts your heart, it does.

So, so, so, so awesome.

Distressful Gender Discrimmination at Subway

Random comment to the lady...ahem, Sandwich Artist, at the Subway on Cathcart Rd. near my work...

Men can and do order footlong veggie subs on wheat despite your assertion that it seemed "awfully girly." You are, however, correct M'am, a sandwich most definately reveals a person's sexuality, at least much more accurately than your Joe Average methods of completely inappropriate gender stereotyping.

Are you kidding me? Turd.

Next time I'll order a triple steak sandwich, no bread...just pile it steaming into my bare hand, you know, if that's more manly. While you're at it I'll also take a side order of strippers with some Monday Night Football thrown in there, and a Hemi, perhaps, maybe with three on the tree just for good measure. If you've got a Nickleback CD then I'll take that too.

I'm officially boycotting Abi at the Subway down the street from my office. She's on double secret probation now and I don't #$%& around with double secret probation. I'm serious about that @#$%. She's lucky I didn't order a wrap.

As cute as cute gets...and then some

Zed's usual sleeping position. I call it "the ten count"

Just checking in on le blog and needed to publish a few comments. My lovely and talented friend back in Honolulu, Mia, made a kind comment about how cute Zo was and I smiled and went about my business, as proud as I typically allow myself to get. Soon enough I moved and got back busy at work until I found these pics that I had forgotten about. They pulled me back and now I'm in complete unabashed agreement with Mia...this kid is terribly cute.

Zed sleeping at Baachan's. Nice diaper line Zo. You're a helluva lady already.

I practically laughed out loud. Who sleeps like that? I can't. My head would explode, and I wouldn't be able to walk when I woke up.

Thanks for the comment Mia, and yes, indeed, she just might be "the cutest little girl ever."

Thus far 2010 is a bloody great year

The year has started off first rate, even the smallest of distractions have gone my way and now it continues with Winter slowly fading into Spring and some serious live show luck.

Both June and I are your generic, run of the mill, everything and anything music ingesters -- I kinda like that word...ingesters...I need to remember that one -- and can flip between Erik B and Rakim right on over to Chet Baker in two shakes of a maraca, so it's no real surprise to see us waiting in line for a basement bar or at a stadium gate. We're typically good to go as long as the music's good. Well, good it is as 2010 begins to get a little older...we've got Tegan and Sara coming up quick...Norah Jones Corinne Bailey Rae at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. Jesuth H. Whatchamahooey! In the parlance of Belinda Carlisle and co. "we've got the beat."

We're both awfully stoked for the summer concert season as well. It'll give us a chance to bust out the blanket and let Zo crawl around amidst all those good vibes. Just thinking about that reminds me of the Wednesday night concert series at the Zoo in Waikiki and I'm pining for some good island eats and about a million little friends for Zo to be distracted with while Jake Shimabukuro plunks his little heart away in the background. Le sigh. Since there are no summer plans stuck in our heads as of yet I won't rule O'ahu out and a return to the scene of so many beautiful crimes from last August. I would like to fall asleep in the shade of a tree in Kuhio Beach Park right now...that is, if I wasn't stuck here at work...if time, space and money were no object...and, of course, if you could promise me that no homeless dude would pooch my personal space and mussy up my nostrils with that ripe body odour/vodka combo. If all of that could happen then I'd be snoring by now. Since it can't I'll just continue on with my excitement after scoring Corinne Bailey Rae tickets.

Carry on.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pot Holes, Not Pot.

Artist Pete Dungey plants gardens in the potholes on British roads...I enjoy his industriousness very much. I also enjoy peanut butter sandwiches made on fresh Italian bread, and the new Corinne Bailey Rae album. I also enjoy the way June watches Olympic hockey...she could provide Webster's with a new definition for "stressful."

I enjoy Sidney Crosby too.

Maybe the Most Beautiful Loser Ever

If you've never heard of Margaret Kilgallen then you're sadly missing out on a beautiful artist and have missed the most beautifully sad story I've ever heard.

If you've caught the film, Beautiful Losers, then you've both seen her work and heard the story. She played an important role in the Bay Area Mission School art movement, and she collaborated with a lot of other contemporary artists who have had some pretty significant cultural influences...people like her husband Barry McGee, and Chris Johanson, Josh Lazcano, Alicia McCarthy, Clare Rojas, Thomas Campbell, Dan Flanagan, Symantha Gates, Nell Gould, filmmaker Bill Daniel, and musician Tommy Guerrero. She played a central role in Aaron Rose's film "Beautiful Losers" and if you were familiar with her art prior to the film, it's sad twist is painful to watch.

Beautiful Losers? In the early 1990's a loose-knit group of likeminded outsiders found common ground at a little NYC storefront gallery. Rooted in the DIY (do-it-yourself) subcultures of skateboarding, surf, punk, hip hop & graffiti, they made art that reflected the lifestyles they led. Developing their craft with almost no influence from the "establishment" art world, this group, and the subcultures they sprang from, have now become a movement that has been transforming pop culture...people like Shepard Fairey, Geoff McFetridge, and Margaret Kilgallen.

I couldn't begin to articulate Margaret's story in any way that might do it justice, so I'll leave you with the this link to the portion of the film that tells her tale (the story about Margaret begins at the 3:40 mark). It's just about the most beautiful and saddest thing I've ever seen. When I grow up I wanna be like Margaret Kilgallen, at least embody her spirit and her values, maybe feel strong enough to wear her kind of courage on my sleeve. She might be the most beautiful loser I've ever met.

Ten Things That Makes me Happy...

A few days ago my friend Beth handed off a task for me to tackle...I need to list ten things that make me happy. It's interesting timing because recently I've be re-evaluating what actually does make me happy. I couldn't even begin to explain how lengthy that conversation could be, so I won't even try. I suppose it's easy enough to say that I've lost a lot of years to a lot of things that upon closer inspection were more distractions than timely indulgences. I'm busy getting back to the guy I was before I got so busy being the guy everyone thought I was or thought I should be. A beautiful little girl who looks at her Dad in such a different way than she looks at her Mom, and it's noticeable -- June catches her drinking me in all the time -- is enough to inspire you to shake off all of the falsely defining characteristics that have been loosely attached to you, and proudly show off the ones that are stuck firm to you but have been obscured across years of sticking new things on.

I'm getting back to my basics and I feel better than I have in a hundred and fifty years. I'm reading more, writing more, sketching more, making much bigger plans and probably surprising the hell out of dozens of people.

Regardless, the timing of Beth's request to list ten things that make me happy couldn't have come at a more curious time.

Top Ten Things That Make Me Happy - February 2010 (in no particular order)

1. Watching my wife and daughter when they don't know that I'm watching.

2. Those moments when Zo is eager to show her affection...a hug or kiss...even just a head on my shoulder.

3. June's patience, affection, and trust

4. The Zoey Blog

5. Planning adventures and escapes

6. Silence

7. Sketching

8. The three or four minutes before I drift off to asleep.

9. Finding inspiration and perspective in strangers.

10. Back scratches.

Dreary Schmeary...I Got Me a Plan

I am le tired of winter. Sometimes it's beautiful (like above) but most times it's just dreary. Dreary can kill you. Dying of dreary would be an awful death. I don't want to do that. No way.

I've been in the middle of a two day funk with some not cool feeling dizzyness in between. I think I've gone and allowed my blood pressure to plummet with a less than stellar diet of practically nothing lately. I've been busy and then on top of that I've thrown in heaping helpings of heinous coffee...ridiculous, and I know better. I'm blaming it on winter. I need some sunshine.

I think the biggest problem of late has been my own anxiety. I've had a week full of anticipatory mornings and gut feeling endorsing afternoons. I know this particular thing is going to go does. I get a call about something I have to deal with... no escape route. It's been awful. That's easily the worst part of my job, that every day can be an exercise in the unknown. Most days it makes you stronger but every once ina while it drains the confidence and spirit right out of you...makes you lose faith a little. Lucky for me that I can be the stupidest of optimists, or that I can typically embrace the most ubiquitous enthusiasm in the Western Hemisphere, so I rally relatively quickly, and I get over things. Two day funks are rare.

So today, in order to better serve my body, mind, and spirit, I am going to take care of myself.

I'm going to eat breakfast, and lunch, and limit my caffeine intake...

I'm going to arrive at the school I'm supposed to be at today exactly when get there, and not a minute sooner...

I'm going to fill my day with music...

I'm going to call home and talk to Zoey...

I'm going to keep a sharp eye for manipulation and close the gates to the Embassy of Brian long before people start climbing the fences to get in...

I'm going to ignore someone important and pay particular attention to someone who no one else is paying any attention to...

I'm going to randomly compliment people...

I'm going to draw some...

I'm going to write some...

I'm going to do something nice for myself...

And lastly, I think I'm going to find a friend somewhere and enjoy them...

Take that dreariness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Cyrano de Bergerac of Calligraphers

The best addressed letter I've ever seen.

And it finally arrived, to much less fanfare than it could have had were it here in time for Valentines Day, but it's here now and it's awesome!

I got in touch with Betsy Dunlap, the calligrapher responsible for the beautiful font on the forearm tattoo I had previously posted a photo of. Betsy took a letter that I had written and re-printed it for June. I got giddy when I finally found it in the mailbox. I gave it to June over Zoey's homemade mac & cheese dinner...awfully romantic, I know.

Betsy's handiwork helps make hopelessly inarticulate words beautiful

In my own defense it was preceded by the John Mayer show on Friday night, some knock-you-over-tulips on Tuesday (don't tell me when to celebrate my affections) along with the best card that I could find. The letter now seems like the exclamation mark to a pretty fun Valentines Day around this quiet, snow covered house above the lake.

All of My New Best Quiet Places

Zo and Dad soaking up some fountain sounds

With Zo, I've found a greater need to re-charge when the re-charging is available, even to stimulate it or drum it up on occasion. It's not that she's overly demanding, although she is indeed demanding, it's just that I'm not sure I've paid as much attention to anything in my life, and that'll wear a guy out. The odd relationship between fatigue and all that attention is that you want to devote all that time and energy to her. That makes tired a nice kind of tired, a healthy feeling tired. All the same, it's still tired.

I've found some things that recharge me more than others, as you naturally do, but some are odd compared to the way in which we always lived our lives previously...

I enjoy the quiet, which is kind of a given, but I enjoy it when it happens in darkness. Weird, huh? Like the other day I wandered into the bathroom and turned to close the door before I flipped the light. The instant soltitude caught me off guard and I took a moment to drink it in. I even closed my eyes, as if I needed any more darkness, and leaned on the sink to steady myself as I smiled. Yeah, it was that giant of a smile that it needed bracing.

I like to breathe, we all do, it's kind of important, but now I find myself desperate for giant gulps of air on occasion, typically fresh but not always. Sometimes just a big gasp of the air around me is enough to energize me for the next round of doling out love and affection to the two girls that I live with. Sighs never felt as good either, but breathing has taken on a whole new meditational role.

I get a new, almost giddy feeling now when I turn a corner and see open road emptying out before cars to impede my progress, no distractions to steer my mind away from whatever might be playing on the radio, or whatever I'm pondering. No attention demanded from anything in my peripheral. It feels like I've brushed away the branches in the path and stepped out in the bright sunlight of an open meadow...wait, that sounded pretty lame. How 'bout a great lawn...nope, sounds just as stupid unless we're talkin' Central Park, then it sounds pretty incredible...You know what I'm talking about...dew soaked grass, sunshine streaming down from blue skies with the darkness of the trees behind feels like that. Again, that sounds pretty weird. I dunno...

The sound of running water can slow the rate of my spinning head to a snail's pace. The sound of waves or of the lapping water outside of my windows, eases a burden better than any booze can, but lately it's been any water, anywhere...fountains especially. I think my fondness for the sound of water increased tenfold when Zoey was small and the sound of running water was sometimes the only thing that would soothe her. I too got trapped in the meditative quality of it and ever since then I can't pass a fountain without sitting to enjoy it for awhile. Even running bath water sounds good to me on occasion.

The kindness of others strikes me down with a contentedness that I'd never fully enjoyed before. Sure, people were nice to me on at least a semi-regular basis before, but I'm sure I missed most of their gestures...too caught up in some self-serving endeavor, busy busy busy, but not the kind of busy that is worth anything, not really. Now I hold tight to the kindness and stuff it down deep into my pockets. I keep tham all safe and recall them often. They mean a lot more to me now than they ever did before.

I especially enjoy those moments when you finally lay down to sleep, when you pull cool sheets over your tired body and as your head finds the pillow and your mind finds something to smile about. Before you know it you're waking up in the darkness of the early morning, and there's June, all warm and contented. She found her way here beside me sometime after I fell, and then there's the sound of the cat tramping across the floor because he heard someone rustling in the dark. In that moonlit place I can hear Zoey snoring, and feel the deep breathing of June on my shoulder, and I'm a pretty happy guy. I feel pretty re-charged.

The things that soothe me are a lot different than what they used to fact, I don't even remember what they used to be. I still enjoy stepping from an airplane and smelling a different world, and I couldn't tell you that the sailboat pond in Central Park doesn't ease my head and heart just a little. Crissy Field is still one of my most favorite places in all the world, and I'll sit in the sand near the pier in San Clemente with a smile on my face that probably looks as ridiculous as it feels, but right here and now a snoring Zed is one helluva rival for all that affection. Now, when I get the chance to re-charge I want it to be in a place smack dab in the middle of all this madness. I don't want an escape necessarily, or a release. I just want a quiet place to be full to the brim with peace and dope or patchouli stink in the equation...just enough stillness to really feel the perfect weight of all this, but you know...if you're going to Central Park anyway, I'll come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love is Love...That's Pretty Easy Math

I spend a lot of time around young people struggling to define their sexuality. Translation=I hang out with a lot of gay kids. It's one of my favorite parts of this job that I juggle. It's so absolutely consuming, this still embarrassingly virgin territory of human sexuality, that I can find myself in some pretty lonely conversations with peers pretty quickly at times. What's frightening is that it happens most when I'm surrounded by educators. That's not a shot at those people who are imparting knowledge on our youth, but more of a shot at the system in which they live, love, breathe and teach. There are enormous chunks of this world that aren't ready for "gay", and it's frustrating.

What brings all this to the surface? A couple of things, really. First, Doodle Poop has posted this stellar Ernest Gaines quote, and second, I've been consumed by Tegan and Sara again today, and their absolute uber-coolness trumps the world's astonishing lack of acceptance of their personal lifestyle (both are gay) every time. Chuck those two conspicuous things into the mix of months and months of contemplating a leap back into gender studies to help me complete a full circle in terms of my skills and understanding of all those angles dissecting the light that shines on youth, and youth culture and issues, and this post starts to make a little more sense. It's my job, but it's also my unabashed curiosity and passion. I want to be good at what I do and better at who I am. I want my days to mean something. There's a great big obvious gap when it comes to providing support and services for gay youth and I'm way beyond interested and engaged.

Take all that stuff and mash it up into the notion that whatever it is that Zoey becomes in her life, I'll love her endlessly. I just want her to be good at the things that she does, to be happy with her life, and to help know, to do good things. That's it...that's all.

The kids I work with have issues far greater than their sexuality, in fact, I think that most times their sexuality is often the only normal thing that they can get a handle on. BTW...our sexuality is as basic as food and shelter so "normal" is what you make it. There aren't many other drives throughout the entire human race that are as elemental as that. In the end love is love...period.
Why we're not standing up for each other as human beings is beyond my ability to comprehend. Love is love, and there's not much else to say.

I'll love this little girl that we created out of nothing but our own love forever and ever and ever, and even at this innocent stage of her life just the very idea of her falling in love with someone makes me swoon. I'm so excited to see this little girl love. I wonder what it will look like and I wonder who will earn it, and I get a little choked up at the idea that whoever gets all that beautiful stuff will be someone who we've helped her fall for with every standard and expectation and perspective we ever gave her. Someone is going to get a lot of sweet sincerity if we have anything to do with it. Someday some boy or girl is going to be pretty lucky. I hope they understand that they'll be harvesting all of the seeds that we planted. I hope that there's nothing on the planet more powerful than Zoey's love. I hope, and hope, and hope.

You Are What You Eat...

It's been on our mind for awhile now...what we eat & how we eat...and just when we thought that we were paying proper attention, at least, enough attention to feel relatively comfortable with how we tackled the whole process of feeding ourselves, we heard Jamie Oliver speak. Now we're re-evaluating things.

My absolute favorite parts of Jamie's TED speech were his focus on education and his emphasis on identifying the experts and the angels in our fight to change the world and allow them easy access to the resources necessary to see that change happen.

Now...what are you eating and why? Similarly, what are you teaching your children? What are you demanding of yourself? I'm thinking a little differently now, are you?

Soaking Up Zed, An Exercise in Excess

Blue eyes and red crayons...

It's pretty easy to drink up this little girl in great big giant gulps. She's a bit addictive, and of course, she's supposed to be...I'm her Dad. Even if we excluded that conspicuous fact, she's still a pretty damn fun kid. I've grown especially fond of her little gap toothed smile, and the way that she takes in everything that you say with a curious intensity. She's learning all of the time, like any child, but if you're paying attention you can watch the wheels turning in her head and on her face.

Zoey and June coloring in the kitchen...mostly the book gets colored, sometimes the floor

And so I do my best to absorb every little bit of Zo...every little giggle, every furrowed brow, every glance in search of approval, every tug at my hand to come see. I soak up all of her favorite things, like dancing in circles, side-stepping across the kitchen floor, wiping the fog from the living room windows, and swimming in the bathtub. I can't get enough of how she drags Mathilda around, and how she kisses almost everything...the way that she smells the flowers that Daddy brings home, and how she always wants the ceiling fan to be spinning...the way that she finds ladybugs everywhere, and the little gasp that she exhales whenever she's excited.

It's pretty easy to find a kind of sustenance in every single thing she does.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hold on to young ideas...

While I waded through the nonsense of another school board funded whirl through the bowels of public education this afternoon I was thinking about the gas in the tank of this whole, "Heart On My Sleeve," project. Sometimes -- most times -- we slip through life without ever paying attention to the motivation behind the things that we do. It seems parenthood and this particular project has got me paying attention. The thinking got sort of deep-end-of-the-pool deep this afternoon. Before I knew it I was thinking about being twelve years old, and about trying to fit in, and about making things that had value to me, even if they didn't make any sense to other people. I was waistdeep in self-actualization before I could say "Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs" ten times fast.

One of the things that keeps rising to the surface of my motivation to do this book is remembering what it felt like the first time that I made something that had an obvious and genuine value to someone else. I remember drawing pictures that may or may not have been any good, but that other people latched onto and held up as if I had actually made something worthy of their attention, and in those moments I felt twenty-six feet tall. You could probably have seen me grow bigger right before your eyes, because I was encouraged and I was happy. I swelled with confidence in those moments and I'm certain it had everything to do with the person that I became later.

See, back when I was little I knew that I wasn't an insider...I knew that I wasn't cool or popular, and I wasn't even all that determined to be either. I lived in the middle of some decent sized chaos -- a single parent home and a confusing step-life, a near fatal car accident that altered my pre-pubescent days, and then tossed into the mix was just the general malaise of growing up far from those places where anything was happening. I remember trying out for baseball teams and getting cut, and trying out for hockey teams and getting cut, and trying out for basketball teams and getting cut. I remember making friends easily but always with the kids who didn't make any of those teams either. I knew the cool kids, but they were jerks, and they guarded their world with an alpha aggression that confused me. How could the back of the bus be that important, and what was the big deal about playing for that team, or hanging out with those people? I don't ever remember wanting to be a part of that messed up world. It seemed mean and hurtful to me, so I made my own world of wonders and possibilities.

When I was a kid I sketched a lot, I wrote a lot, and I dreamed a lot. I took pride in being myself even if I didn't understand that what I was doing was planting seeds of confidence and independance for later on. Back then I just wanted to express myself. Now, about a billion years later I shouldn't be surprised that what grew out of the ground was, indeed, confidence and independance. Now I'm a lot less worried about where I fit in, or even how I fit in (trust me, I'll make you believe that I do), and it's more important for me to get back to what once was important, expressing myself. Somewhere along the way we all lose the need to explain ourselves, to express ourselves, and to push things to see how sturdy they are. I'm feeling the need to go back to that place. I'm tired of studying my grown-up lines and I want to improvise again. I want to hold something up that you may or may not approve of and prop it up with a #$%& it attitude. I want to get out my scissors and glue and make a masterpiece...figuratively...and I'm dragging Kelli along to help because I think she might not be opposed to that exact same notion.

When the dust all settles it just comes down to a pretty simple concept...If you wanna see something, you make it. I guess if other people were doing it I wouldn't want to do it, but they're not, and someone really should. Every day I'm feeling more and more like I did when I was twelve and I really can't imagine a much better turn of events.

I'm hopelessly attracted to those places that don't seem important, or those things that seem undervalued and not only does this project feel like one of those, but so does the notion of finding yourself all growed up with a full sketchbook that no one has ever seen.

A few old photos...and a buttload of new ones

My brother, Brad, Mom, and myself at the beach. How cool is Mom?

This is me when I was a kid...not a whole lot older than Zo...maybe four or five years old here, so 1975 or '76, I think? I'm on the right, looking like I just sat on a clam. My brother Brad is on the right, pretending to be a pirate. Check out Mom too, looking crazy stylish for a random July day at the beach, she's even sporting a wicker purse back behind her there on the sand. High fashion for a Lake Huron Saturday.

I had to pinch this photo from a frame I gave to my Mom one Mother's Day. We don't have a brazilian photos from when we were little, and of the ones that we do have I like this one best. A close second is this one...

Brad, Mom and I roasting some marshmallows over the campfire.

My Dad has a lot of pics somewhere packed away in long lost boxes full of slides. Apparently putting your photos on slides was a big deal back then? I dunno? Sounds like a hugenormous pain in the butt to me but whatever. If it was all the rage then I suppose you do what you do. Someday we'll think Flickr and Photo Bucket were ridiculous. All I know is that there aren't many photos floating around the drawers of my family's desks, and in contrast Zoey has enough photos of herself to rival the entire Annie Lebowitz collection already... and she's only thirteen months old. It's ridiculous.

Eventually, we'll put together more photos of both June and I so that we can compare the Zedder's good looks to our own hopelessly average ones. Keep an eye out...June will be the cute one...

Our house, is a very, very, very fine house...

These are Zo's newest friends...Crosby, Stills, and Nash. She loves them.

Meet Zo's newest stuffed acquisitions...from left to right, this is Crosby, Stills, and Nash. They're tiny little bugs that we scored yesterday, and in less than six or seven hours Zo has made them her second, third, and fourth best friends. We're all especially fond of Stills' giant Gonzo nose.

The fellas buzz around Zed, teasing and taunting her until she giggles uncontrollably. The three of them wouldn't amount to a foot long in total but they're twenty feet tall in terms of entertainment.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Doodling the day away...

I spent my whole day noodling for doodling, and by the time we got home from a mini-road trip I had some seriously itchy fingers. Now that the ball's rolling with this, "Heart on My Sleeve," project...rolling because the oh-so recent birthday girl, Kelli, wants in pretty bad...I can't stop fiddling with sketchbooks and pencils. On top of that I've just had this incredible idea for an arm piece, something I've been pining for since I left O'ahu. It'll be fairly whimsical...and at it's centerpiece will be a woman similar to the one above, tattooing a tiny kokeshi while a world of other awesomeness swirls around her. I love it...had me glued to the sketchbook and the laptop all evening.

I even skee-doodled a little Valentines Day sketch for Zed...

We've decided that Dad will sketch a personalized Valentines Day doodle for Zo every year she'll accept one. I like that idea. I like it a lot.

On a completely separate note, I scored myself a brand new copy of, "Where The Wild Things Are," for the future library of Zedder, and a copy of "Where The Sidewalk Ends," as well. So in terms of Children's Lit. it's been a beauty day. I even scored little Noah Findley his April book already. It's pretty much the best thing within twenty feet on where I sit right now, and that includes a television, a tasty glass of Shiraz, Jules Verne's "Around the World In 80 Days," and my cat Debu...Yeah, it's THAT cool of a book!

A pretty subtle and sweet Valentines Day...nothing crazy, just nice and full to the brim with smiles...a Junetastic day...absolutely Zedderific. Ain't love grand.

BTW...I've decided that I don't say the word, "ain't" enough.

Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.

Rarrr on guard over our fridge photo...nice job lil' pink Domo guy

Happy Valentines my humble opinion today should feel just like a Kurt Halsey painting, but that's just me. I tend to be drawn toward starry skies and horizons full of heart shaped clouds so it's easy for me to over-sentimentalize every day, not just this one.

John Lennon once hopefully uttered, "Love is all you need, and we know that for sure," and I think that I'll get in line behind him because that sounds just about perfect. I won't waste many more words.

Today I'm just thankful for the wife and daughter that I have and feel teary with the satisfaction that I've found the things that I'm supposed to love the most and that love me back.

Love is all you need... Thanks John.

Friday, February 12, 2010

John Mayer, Live in Detroit...okay, Auburn Hills

Headed off to see John Mayer tonight, with Michael Franti & Spearhead...It's not that we like John Mayer all that much, or Michael Franti for that matter, it's just that there'll be lots of guitars, it'll be really loud, and there won't be any babies there. Zo's enjoying what's turned into her usual Friday night routine, a sleepover at Baachan and Granddad's, and so we weren't about to waste a free Friday night like we have with so many already. Easy decision.

I'm feeling the need for more soul soothing environs of late, but this is Valenschmines Day weekend and since my gift for Junie hasn't arrived via the US and Canadian Postal Services I thought we'd take an explore into loud and crowded, knowing full well that we can ease our minds with alcohol and that will surely distract us from easing our souls elsewhere. Soul soothing can happen tomorrow.

Done deal. See you in the morning.

Impromptu show review in 20 words or less...Michael Franti was awesome...John Mayer is a crazy musician. "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" had more punch than I anticipated...still, we left early.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sign language for dummies...Zoey too.

Zedder and Mathilda taking an afternoon nap together

The Zedder's been in the careful care of Grandma all this week. She's been her same growing like a weed self, and it seems as though every time I turn around she's learning something new. She's signing now...things like please, thank-you, and more -- I never really bought into all that sign-language stuff until now. I see that kid in action and all that signing bunk really works. If Zo wants more...she signs for more. If Zo is asking for something...she'll sign please. If we remind her...she'll sign thank-you. It's cool. We get to communicate better with our daughter AND I don't have to tell all those parents who talk about teaching their children sign language to, "go get stuffed." I can, however, still tell them to "shut up," because we've discovered that teaching your child to sign is stupid easy. Show 'em a few things...repeat it often...done. All these parents who go on and on about "how their genius child knows sign language," are mostly full of themselves AND a healthy dose of poop.

Zo's also figured out how to sleep on her own, how to dance in directions other than a simple circle, and also how to fillet a 14 lb perch. It's been a big week. Next week we're working on how to fry bacon without a shirt on, and maybe keeping her balance better.

Just in case you were wondering...Tegan & Sara are cool

Tegan and Sara are the best thing since guacamole was invented. Read this post from their site and tell me it's not the sweetest thing ever. I love these 'em!

Dunno why I brought it up now...I suppose because I spent a post-courthouse afternoon drowning in their absolute funky sweetness just to ease my mind. The girls are twins and you should see 'em in interviews together. It's hilarious and all beautiful in the coolest sisterly way possible. It sways my wishful thinking to child #2, if and when we make that choice, and it makes me want a house full of girls. I was a twin myself and was all "boyed" out by the time I was all growed up. Little boys don't get much more little boyish than when they have mirror images of themselves to torture and love and torment just because they can. I grew up in hockey rinks, surrounded by farms and factories and grew up like any boy would...completely clueless about girls. My Mom did a stupendous job of coating us in a thick film of sensitivity and openness but I was still a little boy surrounded with boyish influences and a twin brother to taint all of my thinking. Now I can't get enough of my wife and daughter. They're indeed very much "girls" and I'm naturally well beyond intrigued.

I think if we choose to go to this parenting well one more time, I think I would like a girl again. You girls mesmerize me...all of you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Little Miss Magic...what you gonna be?

Zedder and her newest acquaintance, Lilly...a gift from Grandma.

Sometimes I just sit and stare at this little girl and wonder who she's going to be. I wonder if she'll live up to her potential or miss out, if she'll struggle or rise above. I wonder if she'll be the kind of girl who people look up to or the kind that people ignore. I hope she gets a decent dose of everything but when the smoke clears and the police reports are written I hope that she's as perfect as she can be.

Her Dad has some pretty firm values and beliefs and he just wants to do his best to influence her and offer independence. No lesson is really learned until you learn it for yourself.

I hope that she believes in people, and in ideas.

I hope that she cares about other people at least as much as she does herself.

I hope that she wanders around this planet a little bit.

I hope that she finds some serious love and one that lasts.

I hope that she trusts people.

I hope that she is endlessly curious (and similarly aware and cautious where caution is necessary)

I hope that she stands up for herself and others.

I hope that her definition of integrity and character matches the one that Websters has, not whatever one is convenient.

I hope that she looks before she leaps but that she's always game to leap.

I hope that she spots trouble a mile away and gets close enough to get a good look but not so close that she gets it on her shoes.

I hope that she has good friends.

I hope that she chases dreams and catches some of them.

I hope that she'll be willing to say, "sorry."

I hope that she wants more for herself than what others want for her.

I hope that she catches a few breaks.

I hope that she knows herself.

I hope that the person that loves her deserves her love back.

I hope that she finds faith in something.

I hope that she makes only the kind of judgements that are important and necessary.

I hope that she loves her Dad so much it can bring her to tears.

I hope that I never inspire those tears.

I hope that she smells oceans and feels dizzy from looming mountains... that she sees desert stars and hears the noise of New York from a perch in Central Park. I hope she sits in the grass at Crissy Field and watches the fog roll over Marin. I hope she sees Paris from the steps of Sacre Coeur and finds herself lost in Venice. I hope that she loves Ann Arbor, and that she always knows how to find her way home.

I hope that someday she has as many hopes as I do...I'll still worry, I'll just worry a lot less.

The Position Has Been Filled...

Not that we were ever really advertising any position but if we were, it'd be filled. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the "Heart On My Sleeve," book project that I had mentioned previously. It's a book (and not a lame one) for children, about tattoos -- their parents tattoos, or perhaps on someone that they know or that they meet. It's a beautiful project that I hope beats down some stereotypes and eases uptight gasps into gushing sighs. That's what I'm talking about.

I'm also referring to my pleas for some help with the artwork. Well, a woman who I'll call a friend because:

a) We know someone in common who I make reverential reference to practically all the time for how talented she is, and for the work that she did for me.

2) If you were to follow along with her blog you'd see that she's almost certainly one of the best young women on the damn planet, the kind I would be happy for Zo to look up to...a fo real positive influence and the embodiment of "young" and "woman" and from this distance of several thousand miles, the kind of sincere and genuine girl that I hope my freshly minted daughter can someday be.

BTW...we did that whole a) and 2) thing on purpose so don't email me about it. I thought it was funny, okay, gigglesome at best.

Anyway, our new friend, Kelli Mercado, over at Doodle Poop has expressed an enthusiastic interest in illustrating the project. Deal done. Done deal for a number of reasons too.

First, I get an overwhelming feeling of inextinguishable positivity from her, the kind of thing that can soak a project like this right through and carry it to ridiculous levels of success without ever losing the point or selling the original sentiment off. Even with an ocean between our creative energies it's easy to tell that she's perfect for the thing.

Second, with Kelli living in Honolulu and me in Canada the idea of melting our ideas together across a continent and part of an ocean says a lot about what you can do when you've got two people who want to do something fun and cool, and when that effort means more than what it is on the surface. It's a nice lesson to all the funsters out there that anything is possible.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure the book will have to be launched in Honolulu...'cause I need a reason to come back and have Mia tackle some more work for me (and there's another example of a person I just implicitly believe in after the briefest of encounters. She's who I trusted to make the work I had done mean something more than a million other artists whose paths I had crossed, and she did) rather than go searching for someone else I want making permanent marks on me.

I'm ridiculously stoked for this project, and I really want it to be special. I think it can be with the right artwork, and the right storyline, and the right approach. There's really nothing out there like it, and it would be just about the most fun since that time I ate 73 brussel sprouts on a dare and didn't get sick.

Anyway...stay tuned. I have to get back in touch with Kelli and start sussing things out, but with any luck this thing'll move fast. Hopefully much faster than I was on my Fourth Grade Field Day. That was a bummer of a green ribbon day.

The Happiest Kid Alive...

Zedder and Smithsonian havin' some pre-bedtime laughs.

Our daughter is pretty much the happiest kid alive. She breathes smiles and blinks giggles. She makes faces that could better define fun than any dictionary. She has a sparkle in her eye, and a sideways squint that when it finds you feels like the best time you've ever had in your life. She wakes up grinning and fumbles with an unabashed happiness all day long. When we come home from work she meets us at the door with a look that says, "hurry up you guys, you're missing all of the fun."

Even at bed time she manages to find laughter hidden right there in amongst her stuffed animals, or behind the rails of her crib. She's all of your best memories wrapped up in one nostalgic, heart swooning hug. She's the best of all the friends you've ever had and all of the hopes you ever had for all of them.

She's the happiest kid alive, I'm sure of it...lucky girl.

I Love You Stinky Face, even if you do resemble a Mexican wrestler

The first package in Zoey and Noah's Book Exchange...from ZO to NO, Feb 1, 2010

We sent our friends Adam and Chantelle a package for their son Noah, and this is what the bugger looked like after Daddy got through with it. It couldn't be just another package drfiting through Canada had to gussy it up a little with his version of Adam, if he were five inches taller and approx. 105 lbs bigger...oh, and a Mexican wrestler named Chico Burrito aka Mucho Importante. I know, I know...don't ask.

The plan is this...each month we're mailing books back and forth...alternating brand new ones with books on loan from each funster. We'll make notes in the books and so a billion years later they can read the notes and think, "Wow, were my parents ever losers." We'll just nod and hold back their college money.

So Zo's package to Noah went off last week and this was what we got today...

Zoey's first Canada Post pick-up notice. I hope she's got ID to pick it up.

So we were super stoked to scoop up Noah's return package only to discover that the wonderful little brat sent Zo not only a book but a whole box full of craft supplies. Now by "little brat" we mean Chantelle, 'cause Noah just doesn't seem like the crafty type, unless of course, we're talking about his slippery moves on the base paths, then of course, he's awfully crafty. The box of goodies was full of gimp (which I just love saying out loud), about a million pipe cleaners, a jar of buttons, a jar of googly eyes, and a jar of beads...some sparkly glue stuff, and a couple of fancy schamncy glimmery heart thingys. Zo loved all of it and wanted it all on her lap the minute we opened it up. She settled for just the book in the end.

And this is Zo's first book from Noah..."I Love You Stinky Face"

The book that Noah sent with the help of 'Telle and Adam, was Lisa McCourt's I Love You Stinky Face...a real beauty, and Zo was really into it from the minute we opened it up. I think that this is gonna be the start of something wicked fun...for us. Who cares what the kids think.

Cupcake Butt and the Rash Police...not your average security team

Dad's latest purchase, Zo's new cupcake pajamas...deeeliciously cute

Babies get rashes. It's kinda standard, you know, goes with the territory of sitting in your own pee. We've been lucky 'cause Zo's pretty much kept her tiny little bottom free from painful red rash type junk...until now. She's got no worries at all but she does have a slightly red little backyard and so we've been medicating it up, bathing her, and giving her lots of naked time...which, BTW, should be more of a priority for us adults...I'm just sayin'.

Zedder and her new good friend, Piggy...Gerald needs to find a new buddy, it seems.

She's been awfully sweet about it all, certainly more sweet than I'd be with a red bumpy bum. She laughs and she plays and she runs around like a tool (but the best tool in the toolbox), so we think she's alright. Rashes just look so nasty. I mean cringe nasty, and this one is the slightest little red thing...but still, enough to make me wet myself and cry for awhile. I shudder...

Rarrr and Barry Dingle make up the illustrious Rash Police...emergency tactical unit

It's a good thing we enlisted the Rash Police, or as June likes to call them, the Arse Cops(see above)...actually June doesn't call them that. I just made that up. Regardless, they're committed and we appreciate their diligence. I know at first glance it just looks like Rarrrr and Barry Dingle, but they've morphed into some serious rectal detectives and we feel confident that the case is getting a lot of attention.

Days Like This...

Today feels like this painting by Rudy-Jan Faber. In fact, almost every day feel slike this painitng by Rudy-Jan Faber. hard to explain, but then again, maybe not.

Here's a Wednesday morning summary…

9:00am - Discerning the legal ramifications of two young men’s possession charges (under 30 grams or over 30 grams, there’s a big difference), then assisting them with the ounce to grams conversion (1 oz = 28 grams) and then explaining the difference between an indictable offence and a summary offence (the answer lies on that side of the scale that tips over 30 grams, or just over 1 ounce). By the end of the conversation I was explaining the importance of acquiring a lawyer.

10:00am - Meeting with school officials regarding an addict’s attendance problems and where the school’s responsibility to educate intersects with my responsibility to guide him towards rehabilitation.

11:00am - Meeting with a kid’s guardian about a post-plea plan for rehab and relocation.

12:30pm - Grabbing a coffee ‘cause I’m no longer all that hungry…kinda numb, in fact.

This is my usual day…a day full of problems, and full of the people who hold on tight through those problems, or who throw themselves into the hurricane that those problems tend to resemble. I haven’t gotten used to it. I probably won’t. It makes me think of Zoey, and the future, and how I might teach her things, or react to things, and of just what kind of a person that she might become. Then, of course, how do I explain to her what I do? ”Your Daddy helps people,” is all we can muster, June and I, but it’s much more than that, and of course, my philosophies are much more complex than that. That’s not exactly, or entirely, what I do. It’s mostly what I do, but it’s not entirely what I do. Sometimes I’m just a friend. Sometimes I’m something to lean on. Sometimes I’m common sense, and sometimes I’m a friend you'd rather not have. Sometimes, I would imagine, I’m the last person that you want to see, even though I'm assured by all that it's quite the opposite, and almost all of the time I’m someone I never imagined that I’d be. What surprises me the most is that someone pays me to be the kind of person that I would have hoped I’d have become anyway.

I work as a combo youth counselor, advocate, school board consultant, and general "oh sh!t" guy. I work with the YMCA and with the local school board and the job that I've wiggled my way into is to fill gaps that everyone knows exist but no one is either willing or able to address. Huh? I'll explain further...

If a kid gets kicked out of school, or if he/she drops out, it's rarely about school is it? You're supposed to be relatively disdainful of school when you're 16. Something else is going on.

If a kid needs rehab or detox, I set it up.

If a kid needs Legal Aid, I help them get it.

If a kid needs housing, I help them find it.

If a kid needs a counselor or a therapist, I suss out the good from the bad and then assure them it'll be alright.

If no one is showing up in court for you, I do.

If all you need to do is talk, I'll listen.

If all you want is to be believed, I'll believe.

If you don't know which way is up, I'll point in the general direction.

That's what I do. It's a tough job description to summarize in one paragraph. It’s a complex thing and not something that will be easily explained to Zoey. All I really know is that I’m working somewhere in the middle of the kind of person I wanted to be when I was growing up, not nearer the edge, but smack down in the center of it all. I'll take it but in the end there better be a thing called karma or I'm gonna be bummed.