Monday, May 31, 2010

Reasons why...

I've often thought of what has made us exactly who we are, what experiences have shaped us most, and although I'm certain that the myriad of vastly complex influences is by no means something that can be simplified, it likewise seems impossible to dismiss some things.

If you're any good at connecting the dots I'd wager that there are some clear pictures in your past, of who you are and who you might have become. All it takes is some self-awareness and a definite predilection for remembering the silly things.

I remember watching David Lynch's "The Elephant Man" when I was maybe twelve years old, perhaps thirteen...and I can recall the absolute profound effect it had on me. I was by no means too young to absorb the significance of Joseph Merrick's story, or of how it was dramatically told. I was forever a different young man after seeing that film...forever. It taught me the deepest, deepest of compassions, and inspired a disproportionate degree of empathy in me, much more than any of my peers, and awkwardly enough much more than most of the adults in my life. I remember being the youngest of men and wiping away the tears that the film's most emotionally charged moments inspired. It was Joseph Merrick who showed me what caring can do. Of course, it was John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins doing all of that teaching in the film, but the lesson struck me hard and burned itself into my brain. It was like W.H. Auden had said, "we must love one another or die," and with tear soaked cheeks I understood it to be one of the most sincere promises of my life, even then as a child.

I can count other moments such as this, moments of emotional examination, but none so obvious and overt as the influence that this film had on my head and heart. It is, perhaps, one of the greatest films ever made, but not for any reason that you might expect. The Elephant Man made my heart and my soul porous. It carved it's moral lesson into the most accessible parts of my mind, and it encouraged, no, pleaded with me to spend my days with not just my own quality of life in mind, but with that of others.

Seems a little dramatic for one film's influence, but it isn't. I watched it again tonight and I felt all of those same emotions come flooding back over me. The world is an ugly, awful place, but we can make it beautiful by believing that it can be just that.

I can't wait to tell Zoey that story someday. I can't wait to watch her own influences plant seeds as she grows. I can't begin to articulate what "The Elephant Man" did to me...not in a million years, but you can look at my life and probably see some of it.

If you've never seen the film, you can begin watching it here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beach vs. Tigers game...beach wins

My day started with coffee and a picnic table full of sketchbooks and shrouded in shade. Zo and I got our draw on with a lake view and waited for Stu, Anne, Liam, and Mason to slip on by for an afternoon of run-of-the-mill beach apathy and laziness. We were supposed to be at the Tigers game today but the sky was far too blue, and the temps way too high. We never wandered much further than our own yard.

Sometimes it's still hard to believe that we have this backyard. We've gotten so that we feel guilty if we're not out soaking up all this amazingness. So we try to sponge it up as best as we can. It's much nicer when we have company but we've gotten used to enjoying it solo. Having Stu and Anne down, who are busy with 5 month old Mason, for a Sunday afternoon of nothing much was a weekend maker. It's like cottaging with friends except we live here.

We spent all day on the beach, only slipping back up the hill for dinner, bare ass bunny watching, sidewalk pooping (Zoey) and an uber-tired Mason mini-freak out. Aside from that nonsense we spent almost every second with sand between our toes. Not a bad way to watch the weekend fade away.

Zo and Liam were fast friends, although Liam has a little more energy than Zo is used to. Watching her play with Liam this afternoon it was apparent just how laid back and easy peasy this little girl is. She really is a bit of a people watcher, cautious and kind, not shy, or afraid, but easy going and pretty chill...unless, of course, there are bunnies involved...

It was a beauty day of sun and sand...probably less relaxing than Stu and Anne would have liked with a fidgety and upset Mason but still, a nice day of nothing. We didn't miss the Tigers game at all, not even one little bit.

Every Day Should Be a Beach Day

We're supposed to go to the Tigers game today...uhmmm, nope. It's beautiful outside, and in case no one's noticed there's a beach in the backyard!

Today will be a beach day instead, and I know we're in for a good one because I heard June refer to French Toast this morning as the perfect breakfast food "because it's got both egg AND all that bready goodness." I swear that's what she said.

I can hear airplanes in the sky and waves lapping on the sand and I haven't even bothered to drag my hide out of bed. Zo was cleaning with Mom first thing this morning...yeah, I dunno...and then flopping around the bed with Dad, drawing and pretending lots. Now it's time to go get sand in our nether regions.

Zedder makes a trip to Hotel Funk

After $1600 dollars worth of work on the Jeep that bad fella was gonna get used, so we loaded up early Saturday morning and headed up the 401 for Woodstock. We went to visit our good friends Dustin and Kelly, also known as D-Funk and the future Mrs. Funk. We like them very much. This is partly why...

We decided that we would just light out and end up wherever, with a fo sho stop in Woodstock. We'd organize the day around Zed's nap so that we could enjoy it a little, rather than just dragging a kid around Southwestern Ontario. We didn't stay long at Hotel Funk, maybe a couple of hours at best, but we made the trip and soaked up some of those good, good vibes that Dustin and Kelly steam in. All the trip really did in the end was make us wish we lived closer to them.

We mostly just sat in the backyard sun and re-connected after months and months of missing out. Zo was fairly pre-occupied with Dustin and Kelly's dogs, Hank and Heidi, with coloring their patio set, and wandering around the yard, while Dad was busy breaking stuff. Before we knew it Kelly came bounding out the backdoor with an unexpected gift for the Zed (that's how damn sweet these funsters are) which she promptly tore into to discover am inflatable frog pool, and a frog book! Well, a toad book, but she doesn't know the difference. They're both green, good enough. Needless to say, Zoey likes Dustin and Kelly's house. She likes the dogs, she likes the backyard, and I'll bet that she thinks it's a present factory from now on.

It was way too short of a visit, not unlike our Record Store Day connection, but any visit is good. It wore Zedder out, and she was asleep four minutes after we left. We wish we had friends like that closer. They're just two of the most genuine people we know.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm gonna miss you Dennis Hopper...

After an awesome day I just found out that Dennis Hooper has died. Now I'm sad.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I will write love on my arms...

I can't believe that I neglected to acknowledge the words written on my arm for this long. They're kind of hard to hide. Some people might need to take a second glance, but they read, Zoey and June, and although I like looking down on them June loves scanning them with both her fingers and eyes. I suppose her vantage point is different from mine...significantly, as you could imagine. I love that she loves them. I want the work to be part of something greater...June likes them on their own, well, as attached to the little blue kite that they are. She likes the simplicity of it, while I'm eager to add a greater context and depth to the endeavor. In the end it doesn't really matter what I do because what's most important is that I wake up and stare at them, still, after months and months of seeing them there I smile.

"It's just skin," Luis said, when I was debating the venture. Of course he was right, but now, in hindsight, those words are much more. They help me to differentiate those people who actually see me for me, and not what's written on my arm from those people who can't get past that lovely ink engraved on the inside of my left forearm...It helps me roll up my sleeves and claim, "this is what you get, and subtly suggests that I live up to my own expectations and not any others. It reminds me that there are two girls in my life that have helped shape me beyond anyone else's influence.

It's funny because for all of the deeply intimate things that it does for me personally, it's trailed closely by what it's done for my relationship with all of those lost young people that I get to talk to each day. I watch their eyes steer toward my arm and I watch their defenses fall away and their trust pile up. Ink on skin did that. I already enjoyed a very, very positive relationship with 99% of the kids that I deal with, but as impossibly hard as it might be to both articulate and imagine, ink on skin has made my office door a rotating carousel of "when can I talk to you," and "can I come in for a minute." It's no exaggeration. I can hardly believe it. It's as close to the definitive "wearing your heart on your sleeve" without actually having a heart emblazoned on your arm.

I never imagined how liberating the gesture might be. If you have a problem with it then it's very possible that I might have a problem with you. I'm proud of who I am, and not just in some punch drunk happy self-esteemy sort of way but rather, in the kind of way in which I've harvested a lot of confidence from accomplishments, perspectives, and the kind of person that I know I am, which is more than what I thought I might ever be. I've earned the right to express myself far beyond the principle that it's my body and I'll wreck it if I want to. I'm one of the fortunate few who get to wear my emotions on my sleeve each and every day of my life because what I do demands it. I can tell you a story from every single working day that might allow me to express myself in any way I chose. I chose to do it with love and ink. Liberating indeed. Don't think so, try it for yourself. You'll soon see what I mean. Put what's in your heart in a place where everyone can see it, then sit back and watch how everything changes, because it does.

I will write love on my arms and earn every looping letter of it every day of my life.

Musical Interlude...

Tonight is a music night, and it starts with Jimi Hendrix's "Peace in Mississippi" whole minutes of assertive and downright pushy awesome. There's Starbucks instead of Stella, and the Zed is sleeping peacefully with the sound of waves whisking her off to someplace sweet. We've got Jimi doing something similar except waaaay more dirty feeling. How can six strings make you feel so pleasantly debaucherous? I dunno, but they can.

I spent over $1,600 on the car this afternoon so tonight I'm grabbing music to ease the burden...stealing it, buying it, perusing it in hopes of doing either one or the other if I fancy the notion. Which brings to mind the fact that I love using the term "fancy" kills me.

So I intend to keep a running live-blog of what I run aground of this evening, for your browsing pleasure, and Johnny Teetartarsauce's amorous amusement.

The date is Friday May 28th and this is the music that goes with it...

Peace in Mississippi - Jimi Hendrix...Saw it released on iTunes for a measely $1.26...bought it, then picked myself up off of the ground. Holy mother of expletives. Find it, buy it, or you'll die having denied yourself the joy of drowning in this puddle of pleasure.

I stole For Annabelle by Band of Horses. You could call it downloading if that helps you live with yourself, but either way I didn't pay for it. Band of Horses is one of my most favorite, favorite bands. The Seattle band sound like todays much cooler version of an already really cool 1965 Beach Boys, except without the lunatic songwriter and no drownings or sun soaked beach I guess not like the Beach Boys at all.

SInce I was already in a stealing mood I pinched a good number of Long Beach Shortbus songs. Do yourself the oh-so generous favor and do something similar. Mash up the best of Phish, with some old school ska, and a Venti Pike Place, and then add some My Morning Jacket to taste and you've got yourself a piping hot cup of Longbeach Shortbus. If you truly loved yourself you'd have these guys on your embarrassingly grown-up and neglected playlist. Feel twenty again and download this @#$%.

I like Pop music...I do, and if you don't then you're a liar 'cause everyone likes Pop music...not everyone admits it, but everyone likes it. Like you've never been to the fair and felt desperate for the cotton candy? Same thing. Find John Mayer's "Half of my Heart," and download it. Yeah, don't buy it. Steal that bugger as a protest against all of those stupid faces that Mayer makes and also in retrospect for all those Enquirer headlines we had to read standing in line at the grocery store when he was busy dating Jennifer Anniston instead of making good music.

I stole me some of that B.o.B. single "Airplanes" featuring Haley Williams from Paramore 'cause the chorus makes it sound sweet even though it's half hip hop crap crap. If Hayley didn't sing on this song it would suck the mustard, but she does so it's worth thieving.

Buy Bob Dylan's Forever Young, and turn all the lights off, grab your favorite warm body and sit and smile together. It'll be the best $1.29 that you ever spent.

LeAnn Rimes Some People is just nice...that's all. I don't even like this newest incarnation of country music, but I like this.

I slipped over to iTunes and bought "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken," Live at the House of Blues, California 2002, by every Canadian's favorite I can't remember which time it was that I saw them, band, The Tragically Hip. It was 99 cents and since every song by The Hip was at one point in your True North, Proud and Free life considered invaluable, well, easy purchase. I forget how amazing of a band those guys from Kingston can be, and oh-so often were.

Not only is Pomplamoose just about the greatest band name ever (for our American and Japanese friends the name translates in French to Grapefruit) but they're a pretty awesome band. You can get their three song EP 3 New Songs Woot! at iTunes for $2.97. What the #@$% are you waiting for?

Uhmmm, Jay Malinowski is bloody great, and if you don't know that for yourself then I just told you. Buy Bright Lights & Bruises or die trying. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but it's no less important to me that you buy this record.

I think I'm going to end my night with Matthew Barber's latest album, True Believer. You can stay up as long as you like though.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The definition of sweet...

Just in case you lost your Mirriam-Websters Dictionary and needed a refresher on the word "sweet" you go.

Zedder taking a 12 second rest from her zoo playing.

These pics were taken on our zoo visit last weekend, and as if the mini-adventure wasn't enough all on it's own, Zo provided us with some excruciatingly sweet photos.

Zo and Dad affectionating (brand new word) at the Detroit Zoo.

We've been waiting months and months for that time when Zo will finally start to just simply choose to chill on her own, to offer an unsolicited hug or kiss, or even just a lean. I kept asking June when it might be that she'll choose to lay down with one of us just for a rest, or because she was tired, or just to be close. She typically hasn't been that little girl. She's affectionate...super affectionate, in fact, and a very loving girl, but she just never seems to stop. She's like a little shark swimming just to stay alive. Recently she's been more inclined to crawl up on one of us and just sit or to find Dad's back and lay down. It's better than Christmas.

Zedder is starting to find some solace in laying on Daddy's

I can't believe how fast she's growing, not in months or years, or even just in size, but in the little intricacies of her development...personality, language, thought, and's mesmerizing, what she says and does on a daily basis. Sometimes you forget that every little nuance of their character and personality is given birth, affirmation, or shaping from us. Her laugh will come from us, and certainly how quick she is to laugh. Her posture and gait, and the way that she sits and waits, or stands and stares...those things will all be partially influenced by us. It's daunting to imagine the parts of her personality that will be born of our influence...the affection that she openly shows, the appreciation of things, or the frequency with which she takes things for granted...all of those things will come from us. So right now, when Zo lays her head so sweetly on her Mom's shoulders, or sprawls comfortably on my back, it's more than just a physical gesture. Those are moments of trust and love and a desire to connect and in a lot of ways communicate. Kind of the ultimate definition of sweet, don't you think?

Lost and then Found

I've been frightfully neglectful of this blog for the past several days...busy, busy, busy, and of course, the weather's been amazing, amazing, amazing...and so I kinda got lost in all of that...but now I'm found, and strangely so. It's odd what inspires you to type.

I've always wanted to order something from the J. Peterman catalogue, AND I've always wanetd one of those cool old vintage baseball sweaters from right around the turn of the this...and so I might just have to place an order and nab this beauty. I have a feeling that it would instantly become my favorite thing ever, behind June, Zoey, and hammocks.

In the middle of all that baseball historia I stumbled upon this awesome little adventure for the three of us to tackle this Sunday. The Detroit Athletic Company's blog posts a photo of Ty Cobb's home in Detroit during his earliest playing years with the Tigers. It's about a mile from the old site of Tiger Stadium and since we're going down to the game at Comerica on Sunday anyway...well, I think I'd like to see Ty Cobb's house...and then scoot on over to soak in the fenced in dirt and debris of what was once that grand old lady, Tiger Stadium. Why not? I have a soul. It's not like I'm driving to Dyersville, Iowa to stand in the middle of an outfield carved into the corn (although that sounds kind of cool).

Zedder will be game for the endeavor as she's typically game for whatever. She smiles, does her best to string together an audible sentence, or maybe even rambles on and on with only a smattering of actual words, well I suppose, our kind of words, thrown in the mix, and just smiles alongside whatever we've got planned. I guess she doesn't really have much of a choice but she could make such things a lot less enjoyable. Not Zed, nope...she likes this stuff.

I bet she'd also like to see her Dad in this beauty as well. She's got style like that, a good eye for what's cooler than cool, and I trust her. She's a cool kid.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wasting Away Again...

Zedder being all princess-like at Stu and Anne's house...dirty backyard princess-like I mean

You only get so many long weekends in your life and reaching the end of one you shouldn't feel as though you were frivolous with it. It feels like we didn't give this one our best shot...

It started with a quiet Friday...

It got off to a slow, but mucho pleasant start on Saturday with a visit to see friends...

It jumped out of the gym and slammed one home on Sunday with a trip to the zoo (even if we did unfortunately forget that the Bergquists are only a short drive away and could have met us).

It crawled back into it's cave on Monday with June and Zo gone visiting while I tried to accomplish both rest and lawn work in the same five hour span...

It died Monday evening with a failed attempt to enjoy any kind of company since almost everyone we know locally must have access to better beachfront than what we are fortunate enough to have here in our backyard 'cause long weekends can come and go on this beautiful stretch of Lake Huron without the phone so much as ringing. Chalk that one up to everyone having kids of their own etc...nauseating and completely untruthful etc...

So as we watch the Celtics (which undeniably frustrates us even more) and Magic elbow each other into the dark, desperate depths of a Game #4 we're much more than ready to put this weekend to bed and get started on another one. That's right...goodbye May 2-4...get here quick May 29th. We won't waste another weekend ever...I promise.

Waste? But you visited friends, got to go to the zoo, etc...Yup, but we were supposed to be doing at least a half dozen other things that somehow got derailed.

We were talking about flying out to LA to see the Tigers and Dodgers...didn't.

We discussed shooting down to Orlando for some fun and a bit of a spending spree for June's sartorial sanity...didn't.

We thought maybe we'd just settle for Cleveland and an Indians game...nope, didn't do that either.

Instead of all those things I cut all 5 billion acres of our lawn, uphill in every direction it seems, and didn't spend near as much time soaking up Zed as I thought I might.

We got a a lot of pictures though, and I started reading James A. Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific," which I've always wanted to tackle. The torture-fest that is cutting this lawn is over, for at least one more week, and I didn't kill myself doing it, although nearly.

I'm certainly gonna teach next weekend who's boss, the hell out. Until then...look at this picture and smile. I did.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sick, sick, sick...

Still sick...still drooping about the house, half-wilted, with a stuffed-up head, and almost no energy while Spring enjoys itself outside. To be fair I haven't had much of a chance to rest, and so I've gotta make myself do that. I'm not very good at the art of resting, not very good at all, which baffles me. Shouldn't resting be the easiest thing on the planet? You would think.

It's not.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The eyes of the world, or at least one little girl...

It takes a lot to live up to the notion of the kind of man that I want to be, even more to be the kind of man I want Zoey and June to love and understand and be proud of. Lately there have been some professional conversations and an attending opportunity, perhaps, if that's what it might appropriately be called, that I may or may not embrace. I'm leaning heavily toward the wait and see, along with act grown up and navigate this with some perspective and maturity...but that doesn't mean that I won't tip my cap and walk away from something that I don't entirely believe in...I will.

See, I don't like surrounding myself with compromised people and values...with salesmen...with yes men and with power broker types. Regardless of career advancement, a timely kind of opportunism, and what many might call logic, I've never put myself in a position where I didn't believe in everything around me. It's made me proud.

I don't particularly feel the need to be included with the fun and games of "the cool kids," so to speak. I know how that story ends and I'd be much more inclined to write my own that I can be proud of.

So people can ask me for my acquiescence, my consideration, even my commitment, but that's all it is is asking. I've got a little girl and a wife to make proud and that kind of thing usually takes the kind of effort that leaves you feeling proud yourself, not uncomfortable. I might say yes, but then again, I might decide that these opportunities aren't at all what I'm interested in. All I know for sure is that I'm keeping score and right now integrity is throwing a no-hitter, and don't kid yourself, Zoey is watching.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sticking it to sick and tired...

This is what I came home to today. I was feeling pretty crumby until I saw the Zedder laying in wait for her Dad. That kinda thing'll perk you up a little. We hung out in the hammock and read books, then we played on the beach, and then got dinner ready and waited for Mom to come home.

After dinner we wandered over to the soccer fields so Zo could see the kids play. She was pretty excited about checking out all of the other kids running around and kicking balls all over the place. She mostly just stood there with her hands in her pockets checking out all the action.

She even chucked in her own two cents worth a few times...

By the time it was all said and done I hadn't laid down to take a rest, in fact, I only made myself more tired. I need to do a better job of relaxing when I get the chance, 'cause I burn myself out pretty frequently. It's so hard not to help out when you can, and to play and enjoy everyone every chance you get. I feel like such a wuss next to June. I don't know where she finds the juice to keep going and going. I know that my job can take a lot out of me but I'm tired of that excuse, even if it's accurate. Sometimes you just want to be a better guy than you probably are.

It's a lot easier to put Zo and all those ideas to bed at the end of the day when you've got this lake view to ease you into the evening. I probably should have went to bed the minute I home, but with all this waiting for you it's just not that easy.

Le sigh...

I read this quote today...

"I think it's very important to pursue things that are fun regardless of apparent face value practicality."

I couldn't agree more. Now I'm going to go home and fall asleep because I'm sick and nothing feels very fun.

Today I felt like doing this...but did this instead.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Shoes...Can't Stop, Won't Stop.

Hey...look at my new kickers...

They're mad dope, yo. That was fun to type, but on a more serious tip, these are some serious wicked sneakers. I found 'em for next to nuthin' and so I snatched 'em up knowing full well that Zedder, and my friend Tracey Taylor, would love them times a about a billion. Zedder freaked when she saw them. Tracey will do the same. I'm proud of my pumpkin smushers, and I don't really care what anyone else thinks...'cept Zo and Tracey Taylor, anyway.

Oh yeah...and here's Zo lookin' like a frog...funny. This is our second painting. She wants to paint ALL the time now.

And this is my new fantasy baseball league team's name is Mo Butter. I know...geek, but I have more fun making the logos than I have playing the game. This is my team this year...that's right...Toxic Sushi.

See this photo...I love it.

Look at's whale poop. Yeah, I didn't know it looked like that either.

Speaking of whales...I want this tattoo.

What's the point of this whole post? There isn't one. Nice shoes though, don't you think?

Something like a phenomenon...

I would very much like to live here...with San Francisco just over those hills, and the ocean close enough that you might swear you can smell it on windy days...with wildflowers in the spring, and blue skies all year. I would like that very much.

I would like a buddy like Nate Pope as well. Of course he'd drive past my front porch in a cloud of dirt road dust with Love Child blaring on his factory car stereo...the speakers crackling above the awkward howl and crack of his voice. I'll take a Doc Brunder too, to play chess with, to feel an affinity for. Of course I'd have June, and I don't particularly want to find myself with a rather large and life threatening brain tumor, but all the rest of that stuff would be alright by me. I won't be growing a garden either, but I would gladly buy all of June's chairs, whatever those might be.

Is it wrong to want to live in a movie?

BTW...sorry about that awful LL Cool J title...poor, poor taste indeed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pictures of you...and me

I just found this photo of June and I, pre-Zoey, but just barely. It struck me as cute, and naturally, pictures that include me rarely strike me as cute, anything but cute. Look at the glow on that delightfully pregnant, half-Japanese girl. It helps add clarity to the definition of radiant.

We really aren't that much different than we were pre-Zed. I suppose that we pay a lot more attention to things these days, and we are certainly more focused on what's next instead of just what's happening right now, but for the most part we're still the people you see here...sweet and relatively harmless idiots of the most admirable intentions.

It's funny to wander back through photos and see years pass in what feels like seconds. We look soooo young in some of the this one...and this one...and this one, and this one too (one of my all time favorites ever). In so many of them we look just like the babies our parents watched grow. Now we've got one of our own.

Muted and humble Wow.

Home is where the blue eyed funster is...

Zoey and Grandma are hanging out in this beautiful Spring sunshine and I want to go home and do the same. I bet they're on the beach right now, kickin' back and flippin' stones and sand into that cold blue water.

Beauty pic huh? I think so. How's about those Zedder eyes...yikesers. I'm sunk.

What an amazing gift we've got in Grandma and Baachan, both soaking up the Zed like she was spilled milk. Count your blessings they say...we do, daily.

Here's to the hopeful...with a nod to wispy wonder

"A good woman will be more impressed with what you want to do than what you have already done."

That's a pretty impressible missive, don't you think? It was sent in to Walker Lamond by a faceless and random Ryan, for Lamond's book, Rules for my Unborn Son. I like it. I have my own blindingly quirky ambitions and so the sentiment resonates rather hopefully with me. It might be, in fact, one of June's best attributes, the fact that she embraces these wispy, abstract, dreams of mine. They can be cloud-like and ephemeral at best, which is kinda why I like them...also kinda why I don't understand why she tolerates them so lovingly.

I want to write books that never get written, travel roads that might never see my shadow, and get frighteningly curious about the impossible. June watches patiently. More often than not she joins in. I'm lucky.

I suppose that those wispy doings have taken her places she might never have imagined going, but it's probably kept her a little off balance as well, or a lot. She's a gamer of the most admirable kind, a true believer in loving under the best and worst her daughter, she just smiles and offers her arms and the affection found in their grasp. She surely must think the matrimonial equivalent of, "Oh, Daddy," on at least as many occasions as the Zedder does. I love the earnest enthusiasm that she wears like a coat on a cold day, it’s inspiring. The wind blows from many different directions in my house and she never shields herself from it, she flies kites.

I’ve had notions of driving across the country, Route 66 perhaps…of moving to places where oceans shimmer in the sun or mountains rise up from wildflower fields…where roads just end. I’ve considered travelling to every single baseball game on a schedule…every one. I’ve got note pad stacked on top of note pad, all of them full of ambitious but stagnant stories. There is artwork half scratched into crowded sketch books, and a resume of half completed educations and interesting contract after curious contract. I embrace change and run, no sprint, from the stable, unimaginative, resignation of everything being exactly what it is, nothing more…nothing magical. I don’t believe it, not for a second. It will be June and Zoey who roll with those punches unless I happen to change, which thirty-something years of shoulder shrugging and head shaking prove unlikely. I was told by a 44th street psychic that the day I stop doing exactly what it is that I do, the weirdly wondrous way in which I do it, is the day a lot of people will stop believing in those things that they can’t see. I brushed the compliment off and wandered out into a late afternoon Hell’s Kitchen glow looking for my next big adventure. June just held my hand and laughed. She doesn’t ask a lot of questions, but she almost always seems to have the most timely of answers. Her freckles help.

So I keep thinking up things, keep saying You know, I’d really like to…, and keep meaning to get around to this or that, and she keeps smiling, and wrapping willing arms around me and waiting for whatever happens next. I don’t know if that’s a typically woman thing, that ability to just trust and support, or if that’s just simply one of June’s best features, either way it’s reassuring that this life isn’t just made for the practical and the logical. It’s still, on occasion, a place for dreamers and impossible ideas.

All that typing from that one not-so-silly quote… I wonder if it’s universally true? Ladies? Can a man's history matter less than his hopes? I like thinking that the world works that way.

Do it to me one more time...

Monday mornings are rough, and they’re even tougher to take when you’re 8am meeting stands you up. What might make it worse is that you came to work early for that meeting, and that said meeting was with someone who has, perhaps, significant influence on your future. I skipped breakfast, I skipped coffee, I even interrupted June’s morning preparation to haul my curious arse into work…for nothing.

The price tag on retaining my interest just went up.

Aside from that little distraction of a seemingly wasted morning, the infamous lost weekend of Red Soxery was easy to embrace. The Tigers took two of three games. June and I soaked up one, and my good friend, Joe, and I basked in the other. Friday’s shellacking was eased by Saturday’s 12 inning gift, and then Sunday’s blue sky Boston battering closed out a weekend that was easy to smile back at. Not to mention the fact that Zoey has discovered this new found affection that beams out on everything. She’s much more quick to smile (which is ridiculously quick) and more eager to dole out a kiss or a hug without prompting. She squeals “Mummy,” or “Oh Daddy,” with a joyous kind of random enthusiasm, and she is showing signs of connecting more and more dots, linking words, and grasping ideas that she hadn’t just a week before. This child development stuff is crazy.

Now I’d better stop celebrating the weekend, and my lovely daughter, ignore the frustrating snub of my morning’s missed meeting, and pretend to work…yeah, I said pretend. When you leave me hanging I reciprocate. Do that to me one more time and watch how quickly I retreat into a shell of impenetrable apathy and ignorance. I get like that. It's an embarrasssing character flaw.

The rest of my day, barring incident, will be spent planning on how I might run away for six months to watch baseball. Please, fragile youth, bless me with your uneventful weekends.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hii-ojiichan would have liked all this baseball fuss.

How fast can you get away from work, scoop up your best partner in crime, attempt to cross the border in one spot and find yourself foiled...scoot downriver a few miles kinda sorta out of your way to try again, drive the most backwards way to the ballpark ever, cursing the whole time, park the car, walk to the stadium, find a perfect place to enjoy the game, and then finally relax with the warmth of the sun on your face? We can do it all in less than three hours.

It should have taken us an hour.

After leaping hurdle after hurdle, determined to make best use of Grandad and Baachan's generosity/baby thievery, we made it to the Sox game down at Comerica Park...with 20 minutes to spare. That's even stopping at the Will Call window to pick up our tickets...yes, indeed...stand in awe before our impressive get-me-to-the-game-on-time abilities.

We stood in front of Charlie Gehringer, in our usual spot along the rail. It seems like each season we find a new statue to feel most comfortable under. This year it's Charlie. We settled in and soaked up these surroundings that should be fully soaked up after all these years but wonderfully aren't.

We just love this place. Enough so that when the smiling ticket attendant at Will Call typed our name into the computer his eyes widened and the old boy smiled, "You're name's in here a lot sir," he said.

"Yup, it is," I responded.

"Good for you," he added with a grin. "Now get in there and have some fun."

"I'll give it my best," I quipped.

He handed over my tickets, and we walked through the gate grinning. If you walk through the gate of a baseball stadium and you're not grinning then you should probably be off somewhere else trying to enjoy yourself. It's just a theory, and it's probably wrong, but baseball is for happy people. Like these two grinning idiots...

Of course, with all that hullaballoo (perhaps the greatest word in the English language, right behind filibuster and acquiescence) weighing us down before we even got to the ballpark we were perfect examples of what a baseball stadium can do to a soul. All that green grass, and those looming light standards, all those's the best kind of medicine, you know, besides real medicine.

And what did we do almost as soon as we settled in? We talked about Zoey. From where we stood, Hideki Okajima (岡島 秀樹 ) was warming up right below us in the Boston bullpen and our precocious little Sakura would have given the Spring air just one little Zedder sniff and known immediately that there was a Yomiuri Giant standing no less than 50 feet from her.

Her Hii-ojiichan"(ひいおじいちゃん) would be very proud.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Night Baseball and the Red Sox are in Town!

Headed to Comerica Park to take in the first of three games versus the Red Sox...makes me giddy. Whenever the Sox come to town I get anxious and jittery and ball park obsessed. It started early in life when little league aligned me with the Red Sox, and the affection grew through lean years...Jim Rice, Oil Can Boyd, Ellis Burks, etc...then came Roger Clemens, and then forward into my inexplicable affection for Lou Merloni, and then championships in 2004 and 2007. Since I was a kid I bubbled with excitement at the notion that "The Sox" were in town. I loved my Tigers but I loved them Sox too.

Tonight is kinda, sorta Brian heaven...except Jacoby Ellsbury isn't in the line-up. But Johnny Damon is sporting the Old English D on his chest and that should make for some fun.

Zoey is headed to Baachan and Grandad's for the usual Friday night Camp Partridge experience. Like I said once before, I'm trying not to brainwash her too much, and the last thing that she needs to see is her Dad in the middle of a Tigers-Red Sox series. I'd spend a lifetime unravelling her from the confusion.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Importance of Being Honest

"What's a not-gay way to ask him to go camping with me?"

- Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation

I think I want to camping, like right now, not soon...not I want to drive out to the middle of nowhere, set up a tent, unpack all kinds of stupid #$%^ and maybe start a badly, pee in the bushes, or maybe a really disgusting public washroom...fall asleep on the hard, cold, lumpy ground, and maybe wake up sweating in a nylon death oven. Sounds awesome...if you were the recipient of a half-botched lobotomy.

I used to camp...I once hiked the entire length of Big Sur, California. I used to ride Greyhound busses across the country to go rock climbing for a month in the desert. I ran summer camps. I was a dirty, filthy camping pseudo-hippy turd. Then I stayed at a New York hotel with a Central Park view, and watched a baseball game from an executive suite. I did a lot of other crap too, cool crap...crap that made me never want to sleep in a tent ever again, but I still think that we should take Zoey camping...not soon...not

Camping isn't even fun, but it's necessary...write that down.

Satellites, Ringo Starr, and the Magic of Mothers and Daughters...

These two girls are pretty happy in each other's company. They get silly, and it's something to see. They kind of orbit around one another and occasionally I swing by like some lost satellite. I bleep and flicker on past while they spin and spin and spin around each other and it's a wonder to watch.

I took these photographs and they didn't even look up to notice the camera. They were far too engrossed in one another...just pulling hair and giggling, playing a little rudimentary hide-and-seek and laughing out loud at one another's ridiculous responses to each other. I suppose you just had to be there...

I've come to the conclusion that fathers are like the Ringo Starrs of families...sure, we keep the beat and that's important, you might even consider it enormous, but the real magic happens between John, Paul, and George.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's in a name?

Tigers second baseman, Charlie Gehringer, on the dugout steps - 1934

Today I wrote a story that started...

My father named me Charlie Gehringer DeWagner and for fifteen years I hated him.

I don't know why I wrote that. When you grow up in the shadows of Detroit, and your afternoons are full of the soothing sounds of Ernie Harwell's soft southern lilt, you hear stories about the greatest Tiger second baseman of all-time, Charlie Gehringer.

This close to the assembly line hum of Detroit, our Ontario nights were interrupted with the sound of factory whistles and the crash and clang of freight cars unloading raw steel to be heated and bent into car springs for General Motors. Still, above the gentle din of men making the same kind of living that their fathers did, you could hear the double play call from George Kell and Al Kaline as Sweet Lou, Tram and the Tigers sweated through another late night on the west coast. Like Harwell, they too told stories of the great Charlie Gehringer, so frequently that even as a child I was familiar with the soft-spoken Mechanical Man that was Fowlerville, Michigan's pride and irrepressible joy, Charlie Gehringer was an entire state's unflappable hero, boys and men both.

Tonight I asked June if we ever needed to name a boy if we could call him Charlie Gehringer DeWagner, named not after the man and legendary Tiger, but after a character in a story...a character that seemingly fell from the sky like soft summer rain. She giggled and said, "yes. I like that name." So now you've heard the story, as hopelessly brief as the explanation has been, and you won't have to ask us why, when we've someday named our child Charlie, we ever chose such a strange and awkwardly framed name. It all started with a story, not a ballplayer, at least not necessarily, but with words on a page, just like any decent life should...a simple statement followed by a vast blank page full of possibility. It'd be hard to live an uneventful life with the name Charlie Gehringer DeWagner, very hard, indeed.

Musically inclined? We won't find out this way...

Zoey inherited Dad's harmonica and hasn't looked back since the day that she got it. Now she tramps around the house like she's leading some kind of parade, hooting on the harmonica and occasionally pausing to croon, "Zoey, Zoey, Zoey, Zoey," before resuming her harp playing.

We were hoping that she'd be musically inclined but we've kinda got a feeling that this won't be the instrument that reveals it.

LeBron, or not LeBron, that is the question

I always said that I wouldn't brainwash my offspring and then I go and plant this awesome Knicks tee on the Zedder. I became a Knicks fan in 1985 when they drafted Patrick Ewing. I had a good run of fandom running parallel to my showtime Lakers affection (Rambis alone was worth all that affection) through the nineties and then smack dab into a brick wall. There hasn't been much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden since Reggie Miller made us hurt. Before I knew it Ewing was traded and my heart was broken. Now, there's hope that maybe...just maybe LeBron James finds himself in NYC next year. I figured that maybe it was time to get Zo on that Knicks possibility of anyone calling her a bandwagon jumper ever.

How amazing is this shirt? I love it almost as much as the little girl wearing it...but not quite. Now my task is to brain-wash her in all things Knicks, or at least all of those things that I love.

1. Madison Square Garden
2. NY fans
3. The legacy of Patrick Ewing
4. Bernard King
5. Spike Lee
6. Walt Frazier
7. Pat Riley
8. The decline of Isiah Thomas
9. Greg Anthony
10. 1993-1994

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good Morning Weary Wide World...

Mom and Zo waking up the usual way

Mornings used to be a lot a lot harder to greet. I used to struggle with the notion of crawling out of bed...just a few more minutes of sleep, another hour maybe, and I'd be ready to face whatever the day had intentions of hurling my way. Not now, these days I sneak out from under the covers with a relative ease. That's because you can be nearly 100% sure that Zo is going to be giggling and smiling first thing, before she even gets out of her crib. I've never seen a happier morning person than the Zedder.

Zo sleeps with a lot of her stuffed animals, and her Peter Rabbit book, and we'll often catch her talking to her friends or reading from her book aloud. It doesn't matter than nine times out of ten her book is upside down, or that the room could still be dark...there she is, reading to al of her attentive friends. Lately the crowd has consisted to Mo Keefe, Georgia, Lily, cat, and Mathilda...always Mathilda, but it varies according to her bedtime preferences. She's a funny kid.

More recently, there's been a lot of times where Zed isn't even awake when we leave the house, it's just Grandma chillin' in hte kitchen, enjoying some springtime beach smells and sunrise views until Zo decides to bless the world with her never ending smile..and that's what it is. See for yourself...happiest kid alive at 7am.

BTW...those eyes disappear like that every time Zed smiles. She smiles so big that there's almost no room for her eyes to stay open...that's pretty big.

A Night at the Ballpark...without Curtis or Ernie

June and I slipped off to the ballpark tonight for the opening game of the Yankees series, the only time the Bombers are in Detroit all season. It was supposed to be Granderson's return to Comerica but he's on the DL and so a disappointed June had to suffer through not seeing her "Tiger," even if he is wearing pinstripes now.

It was still a special night, as they raised a flag for Ernie Harwell, and there was a nice tribute before the game. The Tigers even pulled in Jose Feliciano to sing the same National Anthem as he did, so scandalously in 1968 when Ernie hired him to usher in one of the World Series home games. It was a nice night. With 34, 000 in attendance and a Tigers win June hardly even noticed that she was missing her daughter...That's a total lie. She noticed plenty.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Putting both a beautiful day and little girl to rest...

Daddy and daughter stealing time away from Mom on Mother's Day

June's second Mother's Day is nearing an end. Both Mom and Zo slipped off to try to ease into sleep with the daylight fading and the Yankees and Red Sox singing a soft lullaby. Dad made sure to steal as much time as he could today, like some outdoor adventuring that included laying in the grass, looking up at clouds, birds, and planes. We also stole bath time away from Mom, and then played sweet all the way up until the hand-off to Mom that ended the day. Now Dad gets to watch every single inning of the Red Sox game, and Mom and daughter get to close off their big day together, just the two of them.

Who needs Father's Day when you've had a Mother's Day like this?

Baachan...Can We Request a Custom Order?

We know a lady that's an absolute wizard with a sewing machine, a regular pied piper of the pin-cushion...and we need her help. We want these awesome pennant banners to string up all throughout Zo's room. Sure, we could probably manage it ourselves, but we kinda like the idea that they might be stitched with the hands of a grandparents, and the irrepressible love of Sakura's only Baachan.

How cool are they? Amazingly cool. We'll trade Baachan some chocolate perhaps, and if that doesn't work, a lobster dinner, and finally, as a last resort, the privilege of stealing Zo on a day and night of her choosing. One of those treats should do the trick, don't you think?

This is how you define "Hilarious"

Just in case you were wondering...this is how you define "hilarious." I double dog dare you to find a better example. It has all the necessary compnents...nudity, crazy hair, laughter...pointing. It's almost perfect.

A Messy Mother's Day Morning

June and Zed watching the Muppet Show on their second Mother's Day.

Mother's Day morning got messy quick. It started with coffee and a kitchen table surprise for Mom...cupcakes, cards, and a new coffee mug, but then transitioned into a full on menagerie of mess. It was wonderful with extra wonder. We got out one of Dad's giant canvasses and some paint...voila...a Happy Mother's Day!

It's been a beauty Mother's Day so far...we've both called home to wish our own Mom's a lovely day, Zo's been nothing but happier than happy, and can you really get a better Mother's Day gift than this mess of a little girl? Ahmmm, nope...

The sun is's cold, but the sun is shining, the sky is blue and scattered with clouds, there is a bouncing little girl running around the house and we didn't ruin a single thing doing all that painting. Mom is happy and that's all that really matters, that blue sky helps plenty though.