Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where I Come From...


Bologna sandwiches and Gone With The Wind, that's what I was raised the context of The Outsiders that is. The 1983 film based on S.E. Hinton's bestseller was without question the biggest influence of my early adolescence. I thought that Ponyboy Curtis was a pretty cool guy. I kinda wanted to be him. At that point in my life, the wrong side of the tracks was a pretty familiar place, and denim jackets and beat up Chuck Taylors was something of a uniform. S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was sixteen years old...sixteen years old. That's almost unbelievable.

I flipped on the TV tonight and there was Ponyboy and Johnny hiding out in that old abandoned church, smoking cigarettes, eating bologna sandwiches, and reading Margaret Mitchell. There was Dallas and Sodapop, Two-Bit and Steve, Dary and Cherry Valance...Tom Waits even made a sly appearance as Buck Merrill. I loved everything about The Outsiders. They made a young guy who didn't quite fit in feel like he had a bit of company, and I did, the book and the movie just romanticized the kind of crap that kids who lived in rented houses, next to factories, with too much freedom usually feel.

My friends weren't criminals, not yet at least, and they were mostly practicing troublemakers. Their parents didn't care where they were, they didn't care where they were going, and nobody was going to notice them if they didn't break a window, get drunk or high, or maybe get kicked out of their house. I was a good kid stuck with some pretty bad friends. Of course, I grew up...I met new friends...I started spending more time in the Teeter basement, and I stopped daydreaming of S.E. Hinton sunsets and wrong kids vs. right kids. It just didn't make much sense.

We grew up in the country, on a half-assed farm. We boarded standard-breds from the local race track, sometimes there were beef cattle in the pasture...sometimes. We mucked stalls, swiped cigarettes from unlocked trucks in the factory parking lot, and wasted as much time in town as we could. We didn't own a damn thing, but we weren't too bad off. On summer nights you could hear the freight train rumbling from the other side of the river. We had leather jackets, like a lot of the other kids, and we stole beers from our father's fridges. A lot of the guys I knew back then didn't change much over the years. They kept their leather jackets, their jeans stayed ripped and tight, their hair long...and I sometimes wonder why we chose to change. We were just kids, really, barely thirteen or fourteen, but we were eager to prove ourselves tough, and it was a bit of a badge of honor to fit in on the wrong side of town. It's funny how all of it comes floating back just from this one film.

I still run into some of those guys every once in awhile, and sometimes they say hey, and sometimes they don't remember a thing it seems. I giggle at the leather jackets, and laugh out loud at the high top sneakers still on their feet. Some of them hang out in pool halls still, and some of them did the same as me...they grew up, but every one of them could tell you what it felt like to only belong to each other.

I love this movie more than almost anything else I've ever laid my eyes on. It feels like a time in my life that I don't think about very often anymore. Sometimes I miss it...a guy can miss dysfunctional if he lives with it long enough. Mostly I just miss the familiarity of it all, of those people, of their families, and those streets and empty dirt roads. I miss the sound of that train way off in the distance, and I miss the feeling that only fourteen has...when it's you vs. everybody, or so you think. Man, what a great movie...

"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman, and a ride home."

Paul Newman...Ponyboy, that's tough.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Library...There's Always The Library

Zoey library BG

There are a lot of things that Zoey and I like to do when it's just up to us...we go for short drives, and buy coffee and treats...we color and draw...we go skateboarding...we wander the concourse at Comerica Park...we collect shells on the beach...lots of stuff. Our newest amazing place is the library. Zoey loves it. Dad has always loved it. Now we love it together.

I used to love the library so much that when I was ten years old and lying on the cold ground, still in shock from a terrible car accident, I was asked if I knew where I was and I answered, "the library." That's how much I loved it.

Tonight, after dinner, while we waited for Mom to find her way home, we snuck off to the library. Zoey picked out some books, played with a Fisher Price castle, a giant boat, no less than eight or nine plastic dinosaurs, and charmed the hell out of the librarian.

Zoey library castle
There's a little girl behind those castle walls.

We spent nearly an hour there in that small little library beside the lake, and when we left, Zoey offered everyone a curt goodbye, and then strutted out the door with her books in tow. And our haul on this trip...?

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? - Bill Martin Jr & Eric Carle

Michael - Tony Bradman & Tony Ross

Oh Daddy - Bob Shea

Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Bed? - Barney Saltzberg

The pre-bed reading is going to be kinda ridiculous tonight.

When we left the library, Zo bopped and bounced all the way to the car, and when we finally settled in and headed for home I heard the weakest little voice from the backseat singing, " going down, down down...I'm gone." Apparently all of the libraries in the world can't exorcise the Justin Bieber from her. Yikes. Sometimes I need reminding that she's every bit a girl. Justin Bieber will do just that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

お誕生日おめでとう Kumi-san!

Today is also June's Aunt Kumi's birthday. June stayed with Kumi when she was living in Sendai, Japan, and she still talks about Kumi as though she might be the best Aunt on the planet. Even from across an ocean Kumi managed to steal her nieces and nephew's hearts. She's a pretty great lady.

Happy Birthday Kumi-san...we hope you have a good one.

One leg at a time...

Zoey underwear

Tonight Zoey demanded that she put her underwear on (over her diapers) all by herself. Methodically, she set each foot into each hole, and then she stood up and pulled them on. Done, just like that. I guess she knows what she's doing. It was a pretty good anniversary present, maybe one of the best ones ever.

Happy Day...on this day for the rest of my life


June and I got married three years ago today...September 28th, New York City. It was a simple ceremony, at City Hall, and we spent the entire weekend alone, just soaking each other and that fabulous city up. I can't imagine getting married any other way. I am one of the few grooms that I know who talks about his wedding like a doe eyed girl. It felt as though I floated for four days.

Now, three years and one little girl later, I'm still floating.

Happy Anniversary June...Zoey Sakura DeWagner is how much I love you...yup, that much. For sure that much.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Last Home Stand

Beach sunset

It was made official tonight in an email from Saudi...we'll be moving out of the beach house forever and ever at the end of July. The good part about that is that we're excited about the change, and it's great that we'll get one last July out of the place. The wonky news is that means we really should be preparing for the move all winter long...packing, throwing things away, giving things away, streamlining, etc...and although that sounds kind of fun, it's not.

What makes the timing strange for us is that I work on contracts and as far as I know, at the present moment, my YMCA contract is over in December, and will most likely look very different in January... if there's a contract in place at all. I'm assured that there will be but anymore assurances are worth about as much as VHS tapes. My contract with the school board is equally as tenuous, and to make matters hilariously more tipsy, each one of my bosses are retiring this Spring, which means brand new faces, which means people who may or may not see value in what I do, which means job hunting. Now, of course, if the contracts fall into place, and probably most importantly, if the school board contract is renewed for the 2011-2012 school year, then I'll not worry about too much, but if any of the blocks fall, everything from my bank account to my housing plans go for a loop.

In ten months we could very well not have a 519 area code...we most likely will, but it's very possible that we are forced to find greener pastures. The extra shove on the swing set of uncertainty is that a move at the end of July makes my opportunity to work with jeff Yokoyama in Huntington Beach a lot more difficult to manage...almost impossible.

This is what I mean when I tell you folks out there who urge me to buy a home or settle into one community or another to just chill and let me live my life. I'm a happy guy, and I like our life, but stability isn't a part of it. So it looks like we better get busy enjoying these last few months here...lightening up our eventual load...and keeping a sharp eye for opportunities. Maybe big change is on it's way, and maybe not...maybe we just need to sidestep a little and keep chugging for the end zone? I dunno, but it feels good to have some confirmation about at least some of the details.

Five, almost six years we've spent here at the beach...not bad, considering we thought we'd get one or two. It won't be as hard to leave as you might think, but it could be a whole lot easier if all the pieces stay together.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Parks and Recreation...


Why do we ever stop going to the park? I suppose because we outgrow the playground equipment, and of course, grown men can't exactly hang out in parks without a family on their hip or they're just creepy. It's unfortunate. I can always have a good time at the park. Of course, the swings make me want to puke, and the slides don't make me squeal anymore, but the whole place is just ripe for nonsense. They're even better if you can bring your daughter to them in order to butter her up into easing up on the hard time that she's been giving you all day.


I'd like to think that there will never be a time when I can't act a fool but I know it's coming. One of these days I'm going to wake up with just no interest in shenanigans. That's going to be a sad day.


Oddly enough, the park is already giving me hints that I should find my fun somewhere else. Typically the swings make me feel ill, the slide can help my stomach creep up into my throat, and flipping, hanging, swinging or any other super kinetic endeavor can leave me feeling like it was my first day on a swaying cruise ship. Apparently whatever little biological troll is in charge of my balance and is responsible for cueing nausea is finding his legs the older I get.

father daughter

Zo's still a little too young for solo park time. I've never noticed how absolutely frighteningly unsafe your average community park is until I help Zoey navigate one. I suppose they aren't made for 20 month olds ('cause that's what Zoey is today) but can sit back and pick the places where a kid could find some trouble. I can at least. Of course, we're also discovering that parks aren't all that Mommy-friendly if you're just a 5'3" Mom. Dad gets the high up stuff, and June typically does her best work on the ground.


Of course, no matter how much fun you're having in the park, it's always nice to come home, especially when the cheap ploy of plying a little girl with slides and swings and giant wooden play structures, butters her up enough to finally spend some time with her. I don't know what her deal was all day, but it felt good to grab a few smiles in the park and then slip home and onto the living room floor to enjoy some of our usual scribbling. It's one of my most favorite things, and hers too, I think. All I really know is that it felt like I found my daughter after a day of living with an indifferent little stranger.

back home doing what she loves to do...

Someday she's not going to want to sit on the living room floor and draw and color and sharpen pencil crayons until they're tiny little nubs, so I'm stocking up on these memories. Drawing with Dad is cool now, but wait eleven or twelve years and then it will just be lame, or whatever descriptive is the shizzle then.

Your family history defined by style...

Alexandra Hepke
A different generation...Biarritz, France, 1936

There's a good chance that you don't know who The Sartorialist is, certainly not if we're good friends. I wouldn't expect anyone I know to give much of a $#%t about what some random woman is wearing on the street in Milan, or what some stylish Japanese businessman has thrown together for a casual Saturday in Tokyo, but the site is really cool, and the story behind it even cooler.

The site is built on a foundation of street photography and fashion for the people. It's turned into a designers dream, the kind of man-on-the-street research that companies pay ridiculous sums for, and it's a living, breathing design template for anyone paying attention. The site's developer and singular contributor, Scott Schuman, left his fashion sales position to take care of his daughter in 2005, and he began carrying a digital camera around on the streets of New York City, taking pictures of people who had dressed in some way that caught his eye. Then he posted them to his blog...done...legend. Well, the site is fun to explore. What caught my wandering eye was Scott's references to his own family, particularly his grandparents.

Scott posts photographs of his super stylish grandmother and grandfather (wasn't everyone super stylish back then?) from their youth, and the intimate historical connection is sweet and surprising. I like the idea of seeing the same world that your twenty-five year old grandparent did. I felt something similar in Hawaii as soldiers wandered the streets of Waikiki on leave. If you get the chance, take some time and flip through Scott's masterpiece of a blog. You may shake your head at the fashion that seems to be the norm on the streets of New York and Paris, but you'll surely smile at Scott's occasional tributes to his grandparents taste and style. I do.

I don't know much about my grandparents. My Dad's father, Marcel, was an immigrant, a factory laborer, a soldier and a boat builder. He kept a garden (that could pass as a farm) and had perhaps the most cluttered garage I'd ever known...until my father decided to eclipse his own dad's disorganization. I remember he still had his helmet from WWII hanging on the wall of that garage, a small dent from the bullet or piece of shrapnel that ricocheted, gratuitously, off of the top of his armored head. That dent gave me chills when I was a child. He was gruff, sometimes mean, but he loved me, a lot, and I suppose I knew it, even if he never showed it in any traditional sense. He was a ridiculously closed off emotional creature, perhaps a by-product of the war, or maybe not. Most of what I know of him is what I've been told. He used to take me fishing but I don't ever recall him talking much. Somewhere my father has a box of old war photographs, and assorted other black and white windows to the man my grandfather was. My memories of my grandmother are similarly vague. What stands out the most was her eagerness to cook for my brother and I, usually steak and french fries, even when I was young boy, and I remember how her kitchen counter disappeared beneath piles of pots and pans and heaping clutter. She was a large woman and I can't ever imagine a time when she worried about what other people might think of how she dressed. Both my grandmother and grandfather were gone before I was in junior high.

My Mom's parents wore the farms that they lived and worked in on their backs. They were as stylish as the times allowed a young family raising seven children on whatever income a small rented farm could provide. I could speak endlessly about my Grandmother, Pearl. She watched me grow into an adult and she knew my friends and met the girls that I brought home. We watched baseball together and she marked the scores and winning pitchers on a calendar near the television. She quilted and baked cookies and knitted slippers and was practically the most definitive grandmother of all time. I still miss her. She died a decade ago, not long after one of her most loving grandchildren wed. She was everyone's favorite. We called her Gramma Fufu, even though my brother and I had dubbed her Gramfufu years earlier. Gramma Fufu was what she eventually got. She wore the cotton blouses, skirts and aprons of a farm wife, but dressed her simple wardrobe up on Sundays when she headed, faithfully, to her tiny country church. She lived a simple life but adorned it with the respect and affection of everyone.

My Mom's father, Floyd, was a fairly serious man, at times stern and certainly hard working. In photos from his youth he was slick and dressed impressively, but the Grandpa that I remember wore working denim and Pride Seed caps. He raised heavy horses, Belgians, and built wagons and tooled harnesses, and generally used his hands for what God had intended them to be used His family never went hungry, nor did they ever need a handout. He was everything you might imagine a farmer with no land of his own to be, only better. I haven't seen many early photographs of either him or Grandma, not in my lifetime. I suppose they exist, but I've never seen them.

I think it's incredible that Scott Schuman can enjoy such an imaginative and intimate relationship with his Grandparents. I wish I had the same. June often wishes for something similar. She knew very little about her father's parents, and of course, her Mom's parents lived across oceans and hemispheres, as far fro their granddaughter as seemingly possible. With luck, Zoey will enjoy all that both June and I could not. Maybe someday we'll find the photographs that tell us just where we came from, and maybe we'll find something there to explain why June likes socks so much, or why I never tuck my shirts in or don't own a suit.

Patience is a virtue...

Dad smooching Zo

And the day is saved with a little girl in my lap watching Handy Manny. I guess some things take time.

Strange Sundays...

It's such a strange Sunday...Zo doesn't really want much to do with me, in fact she wants nothing to do with me today. The baseball game I was hoping to go to became something less of an option when the rain started falling sideways. The breakfast we intended to go out for fell apart when Zo stopped listening to us (she's in her own little ambivalent bubble today...very Zoey-centric) and, of course, there's still some obvious decompressing from the week that's happening between my ears. I understand that, but it's dreary and feels as though we're the opposite ends of two magnets. Awkwardly, you don't really have much of an option other than fighting your way through days like today.

It's crazy what the indifference of a nineteen month old can do to you. It bothers me. I get it, I mean, I understand that she's no different than any of us, that she has moods and good days mixed with bad days, etc...mind boggling etc...but it's usually tough to swallow. I don't think Mom's have as many of those days, at least not at this stage of a daughter's life, but Dad's do. It's definitely a reminder that this is often the hardest thing that I've ever done. Maybe a son's indifference would be easier? I don't know, maybe not. It's just that in her I see stories about clouds and rainbows, and excited walks up mountainsides. I hear laughter and excited questions, and I feel her hand reaching for mine...I see and hear and feel those things every day, even if it's only in my head, or maybe it's only in my heart? With Zoey it's sometimes hard to tell because you're always thinking about her.

I wonder how those parents feel who don't know their children, who never take the time to understand them? Since Zoey was born I feel a kind of desperation to know her, to find her amongst all of the distractions around us, but sometimes it's hard. It takes time alone with her, and that's not something I get in lavish, indulgent amounts. I can steal it, but then I'm robbing her Mom, who gets even less time alone with her than I do. All the time I had with her this summer and yet still, not enough. This summer I too often forgot about what time I had, choosing to complain about the heat more than absorb every hour. I'll regret that someday, I think.

When it's just us, it feels like old friends attending to long lost curiosities and affections, and we lean on each other as though we were climbing mountains. I catch her when she tumbles and when I try to steer her free from harm she dismisses the attention without malice. She's nineteen months old now and can do it by herself, she reminds me. Sometimes, even in the least magical of places, her complete satisfaction with the meaningless moment puts a lump in my throat. Then there are times when her imagination makes islands out of clouds and puts tigers in trees and what I wouldn't give to believe in things that way again. At the end of those days, as she reads in my lap, and rubs her eyes with tired, I whisper to her how someday, when I'm old and tired, I'll remember that bounce in her step, and how her hand reached up for mine, and that tiger in the tree will make me smile and I will miss her.

And then there are days, like today, where I feel robbed, when Zoey would rather be with her Mom and when my efforts are met with an odd kind of isolation, like that feeling of standing on the outside of a group of friends with whom you belong but don't fit... or like getting picked last for the baseball game. You'll live, and it's only just a moment in time, and one that will fade from memory, as if it never, ever happened, but it feels badly when it does. Days like today can make a man mush. Like when she tells her mother that she loves her and wraps her arms around her neck, but she still won't tolerate my teasing, or accept my kisses. She's nineteen months old, I know, and fickle. She's unreasonable and without explanation, I tell myself, but there I am, in a flash of familiarity, leaning on the fence just hoping I get picked, when I'd much rather be looking for tigers in trees.

These Sundays are long.

Mesmerized by Marty...


Our 19 month old daughter has grown infatuated with the movie Madagascar. It paralyzes her and it's hilarious. She likes the animals best, of course, but she also likes the New York scenes at the beginning of the film. She got upset tonight after Marty, the Zebra, mentioned riding on the subway. She instantly wanted to hit the F Train for a spin. When Mom told her that she couldn't she got pretty upset. I guess you can take the girl out of Brooklyn but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the girl. I don't really know where or how Madagascar fits into that equation but it must.

Speaking of Brooklyn, our friend Mel and her little poop, Elle, hung out with Mary Stuart Masterson at the park the other day...that's right, just hung out while the kids played. That doesn't happen here, or in Madagascar I bet. By the looks of things Zed is perfectly content with this place we call home, provided there are animated movies and memories of crowded subway trains.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Officially the luckiest dude alive...

Hosoi B&W

I might have teared up about seven times today, the most recent happening ten minutes ago following my message back from Christian Hosoi regarding meeting while I'm in LA. Christian has a pretty paralyzing story to tell, from world champion to prison inmate, and now saver of lost souls. Christian got his life back together and is giving back in a big way.

I never would have thought that we'd be standing in front of one another, like ever, certainly not when I was younger and watching wide eyed as he skated his way into the sky and onto magazine covers. Christian Hosoi...and me...I'm kinda speechless, first, that I'll have the chance to get to know Christian and talk a little about the things that we are working on, and second, that synchronicity has played it's baffling hand again.

Christian Hosoi...and me...Ask me twenty years from now what I call this part of my life and I'll say, the beginning.

Everybody's learning how...


When I went to get coffee this morning, yeah, Saturday's are meant for buying coffee, not making it...I settled in beside the beach and watched some dude surfing. Yep...surfing. If the wind is right, and the waves have some consistency, shape and form, there are easily ridable waves in Lake Huron. Sounds weird huh? It looks strange, but it's true. It was nice actually. I turned the volume up on a little Tegan and Sara that I had drifting out of the Jeep's window...I sipped my coffee, and I snapped a few pics, maybe even ate a Timbit or five, and breathed it in deeply. This isn't California, it's our backyard. Kinda makes me wonder why anyone would ever want to leave this place.

Go midwife yourself...


This is Val. Val is cool. Val is preggers. Val was our she's our friend. We like Val, even if Zoey doesn't.

We're just kidding, Zoey likes her just fine, although we do believe that Zo might be harboring some sort of residual Q-Tip up the bum hard feelings from a run in with Val in her infancy...Zoey's bum and infancy, not Vals.

Val's fella there is Jay. He's cool too. They're engaged. In between photos he sipped on both the beer I gave him (liquor up those that the focus finds I always say) and the rye and Coke our friend, Stu, gave him. Yeah, he's alright, I think. Takes a good picture with a few drinks down the hatch I might add.

We would like it if the universe laid heaping amounts of good fortune on them. I know that the universe knows what it's doing but I'm just reminding it, that's all.

Nice picture huh? Cool people = nice photos. Even a fool like me can do that math.

Uncensored bath tub chatter...

Zedder likes to talk. Oddly, if shes talking to other people she usually tries pretty hard to make herself understood, but if she's talking to herself, forget it. Bumble mumble, blah be blah, nonsense, jibberish, occasional discernible word, more bumble mumble...but it's funny.

BTW...June got herself an iPhone4 and so I haven't seen her for days. If anyone knows her whereabouts, please, get in touch. She'll be the half-Japanese girl wandering around making videos and snapping pics and making more videos, and ignoring you 'cause her phone is so cool. She has a tattoo on her foot with her address on it. Please send her home. There is a reward.

Living, wondering, laughing...

Early this morning, for the first time in what seems like forever, I contemplated lifestyle change. It's funny because I don't even consider my lifestyle something that really needs all that much changing...some tweaking maybe, some increased awareness, perhaps, but changing, no. I'm not exactly extreme in any of my habits. Today, however, I was meandering in and out of other people's lives via blog, and stumbled upon some interesting lifestyle choices.

I suppose first one needs to assess their life and what it looks like, and second, you need to establish just what it is that you want, and what you might be trying to achieve, and lastly, I guess you need to figure out the best way to get to those places that you want to get to, and to do so while still honoring your values and beliefs. That sounds like a giant pain in the @$s, really.

The ingredients for this idea con carne in my early morning mind today are readily available on the shelves of my psyche...I'm not stirring an empty pot, so to speak...

I've been following Ashley and Scott over at TWWLY for awhile now, and have suddenly stumbled into Sara's blog, Farmana just today, and the idea of self-sufficiency is bouncing around my head with vigor. I like reading about these families. They're traditional and alternative in the same breath, and I like seeing little pseudo-hippie Berkeley type funsters running around through fields and in forests, dreds full of fallen leaves and bellies full of Mom-made food. It's smile inducing (and of course, I'm just being ridiculous, they're not pseudo-hippie kids...they're just kids. I could noodle around their blogs for hours. It's interesting.

My Aunt Cheryl has been farming and selling her version of the best things this earth can grow for years now. Her and her husband, Barry, live a uniquely farmcentric life in which feeding the goat and harvesting the organically grown tomatoes take equal precedence. People drive in from all around to buy Cheryl's lovingly nurtured produce and I'd wager a full year's salary that the grocery stores see less of her money than they do mine. It's cool. She's cool.

We've always laughed at the way in which we affectionately describe June's parents to people...they're Canadian, oh so Canadian, despite Mihoko being oh-so Japanese. They listen to CBC Radio all day, and watch CTV and CBC at night. They're environmentally conscious and work hard to be fairly low impact and relatively self-sufficient. Gerry's goal is to be largely self-sufficient (within reason) someday. They're what I imagine David Suzuki would like to have as neighbors. They're PEI to BC. They're roller skates and sewing machines. They recycle, they re-purpose and re-use. They listen to classic rock and don't shy away from holistic medicine. They're fun, and vibrant and aware. They eat right. They know what they put into their bodies for the most part. There is sewing and building of things and canning and honest to goodness attempts at living their way in spite of the world spinning trends and trial sized versions of life past them like a tornado. June's parent's live quietly beside a creek. They notice things.

I have a friend, Kate, who I met in California. She and her husband, Nathan, are caretakers of a ranch property in Colorado. They are aware, to say the least, of their impact, of their practices, of their beliefs and living by them. It's amazing to see. They're happy. Life is simple in Telluride if you want it to be. I see their photos and smile at the life they've carved out for their family. They don't ask for much but seem to have it all.

I read about these families, or talk to them or love and appreciate them from my little, somewhat raucous spot on the plent, and I wonder if I could alter a few things, change this or that, make some conscious decisions, and change the way I live a little...just a little. Major change is for addicts avoiding ice bergs, I've learned. I like the idea of living better by living with less. It's not a new idea, and I'm not even sure if I could manage it...I like my stuff...but I enjoy thinking about the possibility. I grew up on a farm, and although I don't miss that lifestyle, I do miss certain things. I don't ever recall the fuss I find all around me now. I don't remember too much hullaballoo that wasn't inspired by Mother Nature herself. Although I can't imagine going back to that, and I'm not exactly interested in being Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams (I'm much too inclined to like cities and all of that accessibility etc...) it does remind me that we could live a little more deliberately.

I cook badly. I flip and I flop. I loathe cutting my lawn. I'm aware of what I like and don't like, of what I am and am not, but I'm intrigued by the notion of self-sufficiency and alternative choices. Maybe I'll just keep reading Ashley and Sara's blogs, and maybe I'll just feel a quiet pride at the way my Aunt Cheryl lives, and in the choices Gerry and Mihoko make, but the idea is there, just like seeds in a basket, that I could live differently.

I'm just sayin'...

Friday, September 24, 2010

A visitor...

Tonight I came home to a hawk waiting for me...watching me...reminding me, so it seems, according to all of the teachings, to pay attention, to be aware, to watch. He sat on the branch above me, flew from the picnic table when I drove up, and sat himself on the branch above my head. He waited for me to get out of the car, and then stared through me as I stood there and looked back.

Aaniin ezhinikaazoyan? my head and heart asked. No answer.

Aandi wenjibaayan? my spirit whispered, to myself as much as to him. No answer.

Niin Brian nindizhinikaaz, my heart said quietly, my head tipped back, staring up at the branch above me, Giga-waabamin naagaj? it added. There was a beat and then the hawk lifted and flew away. My spirit spoke to him, I know that. I felt it. I don't know any Ojibway, not much, at least, but I found my spirit speaking, strangely.

He's a divine messenger this hawk, that's what I'm told. Strange to come home and have him waiting, after all that this week has had to teach me. There are a lot of difficult things drifting down from the clouds...for friends...for strangers...and he comes to visit me? Maybe that's as it should be.

It's not often that I'm at a loss for words...not often at all, but tonight, yes.

My good friend, Merle, just sent me this story...

When I was 17 a hawk flew into my backyard, (this had never happened previously) landed on a unusual, hard to reach perch and looked me in the eye. This was the moment that I decided to change my major in college (more importantly, I was verbalizing this to my lifelong music teacher) from Jazz Studies to Economics - a very profound and life altering decision for me in my life (I am now in my late 20's and at the time was practicing 8 hrs a day). The next week my music teacher brought me lots of literature on Native American animal symbolism, all of which pointed to one conclusion - this decision was an important one. It took me most of the next decade to understand what that day meant but I now believe that hawks (a bird with amazing VISION and PERSPECTIVE) appear to help you realize that an important, and to me, highly intelligent (and perhaps clairvoyant) decision has been made. . .

Thanks Merle, and I suppose one has, indeed, been made.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In my next life...

In my next life I'd like to be Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall...Kunu, that's what I'd like to be...Kunu...and I'd live in Hawaii and I'd be vaguely out to lunch for a good portion of my life.

That's all I have to say...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Even whales get cold...

Photo 26

Zoey had it in her sweet little head tonight that her plush whale needed a sock on his tail to keep warm. So he got a sock...and now I'll go to bed grinning at the notion. Whales with socks on their tails...

We were searching for a name for him and decided on Corduroy...'cause why wouldn't it be Corduroy?

Whales with socks on their tails...classic.

Days of Madness and Meaning...

What do you say about all of this synchronicity stuff when as soon as you start planning on wrapping up some grief counseling work you get smashed with two suicides in 18 days...that's a lot of grief to be surrounded by, and a lot of I don't knows and shrugs and quiet wait and see what happens moments. It's a lot period. I had just decided on investing in myself and in the grief/bereavement issues that I think are behind a lot of the problems that I see every day when I spend my whole day neck deep in the stuff. It was a long day...maybe one of the longest I've ever had.

So, I came home and Zoey and I went skateboarding, then exploring, and then we saved a small bird who was hurt (Daddy saved it, Zoey mostly just petted it), and then we picked a flower for Mom and then we lost it shortly thereafter...of course we were late for supper because we sat and talked, well, she talked and I mostly listened, and we played with our shadows and I generally felt like the luckiest guy I know...which was kinda just what I needed after feeling like a pretty sad case all day.

Two kids in eighteen days...I think I'll remember today for a long, long time. Now I'm going to go watch Manamenah with an excited little girl.

Misty morning...blonde hair, blue eyes etc...

Photo 25

I woke up to rain this morning, and a quiet house. June was up and at it by 5:30am so even though I lay in bed still, so was I. There was a dampness in the air that didn't encourage getting out of bed. So I lingered. I always linger.

I went through the same old morning routines that I might typically go through, and Grandma slept through all the rain and noise I was making. She must have needed the sleep. I imagine that Zoey runs her ragged each day. It wasn't long before I heard a small voice from Zoey's room, so with the usual smile and flicker of excitement in my stomach that hearing her brings, I shuffled into her room and eased her into the day. We sat on her chair and watched Eddie and Dick, her fish, swim around. We talked about the squirrels playing in the tree outside, and we discussed her teeth. For some reason I had a moment as misty as the dripping trees outside. As we sat there in that chair, Zo standing on my lap, leaning in toward me, offering unsolicited hugs and soaking up the early morning closeness with her soon to depart Dad, it struck me that I could live in that moment a million times over and every day for the rest of my life. Misty eyes come quick with this parenting stuff. I have to go t work now but I might just be sitting in that chair with the Zedder all day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There are these cows that I know...


So there are these cows that I know that Zoey also happens to know, that just so happen to live down the road from us. Yup, convenient. So we go visit them quite often, enough that the farmer that said cows belong to knows Zoey pretty well. They're buddies, Zoey and this farmer guy, and all I can think of is, "Geez, I hope my kid doesn't grow up and marry a farmer."

Is that weird?

All you need to do is dream...


I just bought the Avett Brothers, I and Love and You, because I'd only had the album pieced together in stolen tracks and both the work, the band, and I deserved better. Now I'm going to nap with "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise," and try not to get a sunburn.

While I do that, you should consider what you're doing with your life and then tempt fate with these other options...there's a bit of a theme today, I think.

How 'bout a classic car rally with dirtbags and half assed classics zooming around Northern California, from flea-bitten motel to dive bar, 'round a bend or two and then back again?

Why not build your own kit car? My friend Nick did, and it's a beaut.

And if you can't afford that then maybe you can just start hanging out at the track and maybe cop some old Jimmy Dean style, or maybe rob Steve McQueen of some old mojo and see what happens bet is people start thinking that you're way cooler than you are, and what's wrong with that? Nuthin' that's what.

If all else fails you can take part of this beauty afternoon and just daydream about cruising Big Sur...that's never a waste of anyone's time.

This has nothing to do with Zoey but I felt like typing so there you have it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Sunday morning coming down...


As Daddy was melting down this morning it was turning into a beautiful day outside...that was part of the reason that he was melting down. It was much too nice to just sit and rot. Despite the testosterone flowing through his bloodstream, he just isn't the type to sit on his sofa each and every Sunday, watching millionaire football players disappoint him. He typically donates a good chunk of his Saturdays each and every Autumn to watching amateur football players disappoint him. Why would he ever venture to add another day to that nonsense? Sunday's are meant for, schmest...Daddy wants to get gone.

So we got on the road and just started driving around when we realized that Zoey needed some fall clothes, and even some winter clothes...she's growing ridiculously fast...and so while most men sink deeper into well worn couches and the kind of incendiary depression that goes unnoticed for decades, this guy went shopping with his wife and daughter. Why wouldn't I? I like that stuff. At the very least it provides significantly less opportunity to develop dents in your couch cushions.

We listened to the Lions game on the radio...played soccer in an Old Navy store, drank coffee, basked in sunshine, sat on park benches, and bought some of the coolest clothes ever for the Zedder. I like shopping with my girls, they're fun. They don't make me feel tipsy, or lazy, or regretful, or slobberrific in any way shape or form. I can't say as much about NFL football.

Zedder at 19 months...

Zed closeup

Zoey is exactly 33.5 inches tall. That's nearly three feet, just four inches short, in fact. She can wear piggies in her hair now. She has a bazillion teeth. She can count up to fourteen, and is working her way around the alphabet pretty good. She eats like a champion, and can even operate hashi (chopsticks) with some degree of awkward success. She dresses like she fell out of a catalogue at times, and she sleeps through the night, every night. She has a big girl bed, that she's only fell out of twice (and didn't wake up on either occasion), and likes to shower with Dad. She has learned not to abuse her cat, Debu, most of the time. There are still some violent lapses in judgement...occasionally. She likes taking care of her fish, Edgar Winter and Richard Milhouse Nixon, and feeds them every day...with some reminding. She's flown approximately 14, 000 miles already without an issue or incident. She likes Sesame Street. She says please and thank-you without prodding most of the time, and she only mildly abuses the term, "no." She likes broccoli. She's a good kid and I suppose we'll keep her.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's never too late to be a rock star...

That's what I'm going to tell Zoey on that very first day that doubt creeps into her tiny little oh-so beautiful head. It's never too late to be famous. It just depends on what you're hoping for famous to be. If she wants to be on the cover of a magazine, well, then I guess she'll have a to hoe a certain row, but if she just wants people to see her as something incredible...maybe for people to find interest in her life and become fans of Zoey -- BTW, I love that idea, that we as individuals can have real fans in our lives, 'cause we can -- then that's an entirely different process. I know a little about that one.

I think, when I grow up I want to be impressive...that's it...that's all. I want to do something good. I want to stay relevant. I want to be valuable to someone. I want to discard the stereotypical. I definitely want to live inside of me, not whatever shell of me the world has carved out without consulting me...'cause that's how it works, right? You get to choose who you're going to be, and then the world is going to define you separately, and the challenge is making those two jive or not caring much either way and going out and doing what you want to do regardless. If you can somehow be and do all of those things...rock star. I'm thirty-something years old and I still talk about what I want to be when I grow up.

Now I'm a father, which complicates things a little, but not too much. Now I want things for more than just me. I want Zoey to find a place to live and breathe and dream in that celebrates that very process of figuring out who she is and then becoming really, really good at it. I hope that we can provide that for her...wide eyed wonder and never ending possibility...optimism and and curiosity...blah blah blathering blah...I hope that we can make a life that provides Zo with a big enough stage to earn some ovations, maybe take a few bows...even if she's doing so in front of an empty room, so long as she feels the need to take a bow, so long as she's somehow earned it then she should. We just want to give her the chance to shine... for us...for herself...for other people. That's kind of all any of us ever really want, a chance to say, "look at me. Aren't you proud? I am."

It's never too late to be a rock star...not if you never stop dreaming of it. We've already bought every record that Zoey ever made, we just hope that she feels inspired enough to keep on making them across the entire encore that is her weaving and wandering life.


UP THERE from Jon on Vimeo.

This makes me want to quit on everything, move my family to NYC and apprentice, write a book, maybe. It's beautiful.

Do you do something beautiful? I've always wanted to do something beautiful.

This is the original project, and this is how is finished. Three weeks of labor in 57 seconds.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Morning Zed...

post rainbow sighting

Zoey was up half the night, and then fell asleep just before dawn...for about an hour. She woke ready for some action, and as soon as Mom noticed the rainbow above the lake the two of them were dressed and outside snapping pics. It's was 7 am.

The little funster looks pretty good for 7 am. So...future husband of can thank us later for her stellar looks and her penchant for early morning smiles. You're very welcome.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three dollars worth of fun...

Three dollars worth of fun

I stopped by a second hand shop on my way home from work today and scored a set of Tinkertoys. To say that I was stoked would be a massive understatement. Now, it's not as good as Brooklyn sidewalk treasures, the kind that you find just laying there waiting for you to take them, but it's close. Sure I had to buy it, but it only cost me three bucks...not a bad deal as far as deals go, I think.

I scooted home, plopped myself down on the living room hardwood with the Zedder, and made her close her eyes for her surprise. She was anxiously awaiting her three dollar present, so much so that she couldn't stop giggling. We're thinking that she might have the concept of present and surprise down pretty good. When she opened her eyes she gave out a huge gasp and then looked confused. "A new toy," she said pointing at the pile of sticks and wheels, "that's new stuff," she added, wide eyed. Yup, I confirmed, but she still didn't really have a clue what all that wooden junk was. When I finally showed her she went nutso...

We've been playing with the Tinkertoys for over an hour and a half now and Zoey hasn't stopped commentating her moves. It's like she's teaching a Tinkertoys engineering class. We built windmills and boats and some other junk that Zoey made up weird names for, and I really think that she could play all night with this stuff.

Nice score Daddy! It ain't a Brooklyn stoop sale, but watching Zoey loose her rational mind fiddling with this forty year old stuff, I figure Tinkertoys at any price are a steal. Go get your own, you'll see what I mean. They're the heroin of wooden toys.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slip-slidin' away...

going down!

Zedder likes everything at the park that makes Dad queasy...yup, slides officially make me feel like crap, as of this trip to the park. Slides never used to make me feel sick, but either they do now...this one in particular does...or this particular day was not my best.


I'm going to chalk it up to this immeasurable sickness and leave it at that. I'd like to think that I've still got game, even though I know that I don't. Who cares about slides anyway? Zoey and the Milwaukee Brewers mascot, that's all.

When Noble hands caress noble notions...


Today a friend of mine posted a photo from a visit he made to Hartsdale, NY, to the grave of Malcolm X and his wife Betty. I was floored by the notion. What an incredible idea. I'd have never have imagined it, and now I'm proud I have a friend who is so thoughtful as to have conceived such a thing.

Growing up there were a number of books that changed the way that I saw the world, but Alex Haley's Autobiography of Malcolm X flipped me upside down. I was never the same after reading it, and I've my own Malcolm story that borders on the unbelievable. I share it with few people. Someday I will tell Juneau my Malcolm story, in person.

Juneau Robbins is, and always has been, one of the most noble men I know...always carried himself that way, always just was that way. Who better to visit Malcolm? I'm still speechless, and proud to call Juneau my friend. I can't stop shaking my head at this photo. I don't have the words to explain how it moves me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Everything's different with my head in the clouds...

On the Beach

I should be sleeping but I'm listening to Volcano Choir and trying to decide if I like them. I'm finally feeling better. I'm also pouting because that's what I do when I get genuinely excited about something and watch it kinda not happen. The people around me, mostly June, don't really deserve to sit through my pout bouts but at the very same time I will never, ever, in a million years ever feel badly for being oh-so genuinely excited about something. It's kinda all I got.

I'm enthusiastic...ridiculously so at times, and I get oh-so sincerely thrilled right down to my probably average density bones structure sometimes. You know how there are those stupid internet quizzes that ask you all kinds of ridiculous questions about the up-close and personal this and thats of yourself...questions like, what do you like best and least about yourself? Well, my unequivocal answer for the best query would be the manner in which I am moved. I use the term "oh-so," very liberally throughout so many discussions because my sentiments demand that hyphenated term of emphasis. Ask anyone who has ever been weighed down by my company and they'll immediately laugh (some in a very flattering sense, and some with an antagonistic flair) and then nod their head in agreeement -- the triple e kind of agreement -- that yes, indeed, the Brian that they know could very well be defined by his enthusiasms. I'll never feel badly about that...even when I pout.


Because so many of the men I know are dead...not literally, but not quite figuratively either. They've quit on everything, at least all things amazing a long time ago. I think men do it far more frequently than women do. I haven't. I might never. I'd be lying to say that I don't try hard to see the world differently. I do. I won't apologize for that either. I can summon thirty or forty peers, men who are still young and vibrant, who should be full of ideas and affections and enthusiasms who have managed to wittle down their loves to just a few, and have then somehow figured out a way to undervalue even those. I have more affections than there are stars. I wrap myself in more ideas than blankets each night as I fall asleep and for that I'll never feel badly.

I wish I was the type who always wore his parachute, but the truth is sometimes I jump without it...most times I don't even venture to think that I might need one, hence the momentary pout. I bounce off of the earth better than anyone... you know, when things inevitably come crashing down, and then I dust myself off and climb up into the sky one more time. It's strange how often I can be made to feel badly about that. June gets it. She sees me and watches me step to the doorway of that plane, clouds whirring by, and she doesn't pull me back, or maybe she's learned not to...and she always meets me at the bottom of those doomed jumps, and allows me my curious, "wonder what went wrong," time, and even tolerates my sudden and sometimes irrational aversion to doing whatever it was that I was just bubbling about a moment before I hit the ground, but a lot of other people don't. I could acknowledge no less than a dozen people who have said something off-handed about me and my enthusiasms in the past month that lodged in the ragged, half-mended fence I built around my psyche a long time ago...I tend to leave them lodged there to remind me how careless people are with other people's heads and hearts.

The truth is that my inspirations and enthusiasms are absolutely the very best of me...they're the most natural, most comfortable thing I wear. I couldn't change them if I wanted to, and strangely, if I did I'd be assuaged by curious questions about what might be wrong? I get excited, so excited that I get flush and my eyes and palms get moist, and I can seem a fragment of who I am, even though, oddly, that might very well be my best moment...and I get disappointed when those enthusiasms, as simple as they might occasionally be, crash to the ground, or much worse, when they are misconstrued or devalued. I can handle flying into brick walls but don't manage getting shot down very well. What I'd like to say to most people is that someone has to do it...thank God someone is doing it...and if you could only feel the gentle hand at the small of your back, softly and sweetly pulling you into my excitement, and accept it for what it is, a gesture of the most sincere affection, then you'd never, ever watch it just fall to the earth again, and you'd never, ever make me feel like less of a man for flipping inside out over the things that surround you in this whimsical, weary world, that you don't even see.

I see them. I see them and blush because the very best part of me...the part that you, big bad world, so often miss or mock, is coaxing every incredible bit of imagination and indulgence out of this stupid short life.

I don't think I'll ever apologize for that. Pout...sure, occasionally, and not for long, but feel

My name is Brian... I'm June's husband and Zoey's father, and someday when my boisterous heart stops beating, and the echo fades (and there will be an echo), the silence will make you wish you rode on my magic carpet one more time than you maybe did. There's still time. It makes regular stops. I think I've said it before but I'll say it again here just in case, if I share my thoughts with you...if I pull you into my random curiosities or weigh you down with my seemingly silly observations and miscalculations, it's only because I value you enough to share those things with you. The day I'm silent, and uninspired is the day you've lost me. I get excited because I feel excited, and that's something pretty great. The only thing I'm sorry for is that you can't always see it that way. No worries though, I sleep in the same bed as someone who can, and the little girl down the hall gets just as excited and talks just as much, and I wonder if she might jump from cloud to cloud with the same enthusiasm as her Dad...I hope she does. There are worse things. If I'd never pouted, not even just a little, I might never have written this down...and hey, if it's not exactly your biggie, just get off of my magic carpet and find your own ride, but let me warn you, in contrast, public transportation is a bitch.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This is what I'll be doing in my dreams tonight...


Zoey just fell out of her bed...we heard the thud. She immediately fell back asleep on the floor. I don't know what she does in her dreams but whatever it happens to be it's incredibly active. My dreams look more like this lately... and I haven't fell out of bed in years.

Tomorrow night I'm going to dream like this...just a heads up.

Berkeley Girl

If Berkeley Girl by Harper Simon doesn't immediately make you think of Simon and Garfunkel circa 1968, then you might be deaf. Of course, it makes perfect sense if it does because Harper is Paul Simon's son. Yup, that's right, I said Paul Simon's son. A quick listen to the music and you'll smack your forehead for not making the connection.

This dreamy, flu accompanying song has been my solace for two days. I close my eyes and imagine an apartment in Silver Lake, or better yet, Berkeley, and the soft glow of Autumn sunshine cascading through the curtains of an open window. I count my blessings that I'm sick here, and not there, because I couldn't stand missing out on one day of that seemingly whimsical left coast energy. Just staring out the window across the bay at a fog engulfed North Beach is enough to heal even the most heinous of viruses...well, except HIV. I suppose a good view of the Bay Bridge and the Transamerica Building didn't do much to stop the halt of that particular virus but that view does wonders on all lesser viruses.

The undeniable entertainment found in poop and cat bums

Laying here listening to Grandma and Zoey trying to get the whole poddy thing down and it's better than all that Liquid Tylenol or NeoCitran...There was a running commentary during the whole enterprise, which was uplifting in the most impossible to explain parental way. The conversation was hilarious. Grandma urging Zoey to be patient, and Zedder jabber-jabbering about how she was going to poop. Finally, Grandma left the scene in search of a fresh diaper, at which point Zo pulled herself off of the poddy and plopped a little turd onto the floor. She quickly yelled for some help, after all, it doesn't take a genius to know that poop shouldn't plop onto the floor, and Grandma quickly scooted back and assisted with the situation. It was an admirable try.

Now she's laying on her tummy not less than two inches from Debu's butt while he cleans himself on the kitchen floor. All I can hear is, "Debu eating his bum," and once again I'm lifted out of this flu-like daze. I'm either feeling a little better or Zo is entertaining me enough to forget about how crumby I feel.

My God, she must have been an inch from Debu's dirty bottom...I'm still giggling.

Here's to the crazy ones...

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
 About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
 Maybe they have to be crazy.
 How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
 While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

— Apple Commercial, 1997

I just stumbled into this Apple ad from thirteen years ago and I liked the sounds of it, so I posted it here rather than just laying on my couch like a sweaty log.

Are you one of the crazy ones?

Day 3 of Sick...

I feel better...marginally better, and all I keep thinking is how I hope no one else in this house catches this. If Zo caught this I'd feel even more miserable than I do now.

It felt strange to wake up to a full house, June and Grandma and Zed all lounging in the kitchen while I poured myself out of bed. I made a quick call to work to let them know that I was sick, and to inquire about the status of a report I had to hand in, then I dumped some liquid Tylenol into my face and laid back down. With luck I can hand the report in tomorrow, and leave today to shiver and shake away, maybe sweat some more. I'm not sure which I prefer. I kind of like the shivers but could do without the thin film of sweat that's encased me for three days. I feel a bit of a sore throat coming on too so maybe I can just skip all of those other symptoms and just focus on that all day?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pukey McPuke and the Poop Festival...

I never knew how hard it was to be sick with a child in the house. I'm full of fever, and achey, and sweaty, feeling like a sledgehammer to the side of my head might feel better than all of this, and Zedder is on the prowl. She's been good, beyond good, and June's bore the brunt of all the work, but Zo's squeals of joy have never felt more tortuous, her eagerness to play with Daddy, have never felt like more of a chore, and if I could just sleep until some healthy day distant I would. To make matters worse, Zo skipped her afternoon nap, and after a frustrated Mom left her quietly chilling in her room so that she could make a run to the store and Zed could try to get some rest, Zo hosted a poop festival in her room. I heard her call for me in my half dazed state, and so I went to see how she was, to pull her out and back into my savage world of sick and tired, when she pointed out the poop smeared on her bed and on her pillow case. It wasn't awful, and I'm glad that she called for me the instant that she noticed that something wasn't right in her pants. It turned out to be the worst poop explosion since forever, and of course, there was no one to help. I fought off the dizzyness and nausea that I had been struggling with all day, and there's absolutely no exaggeration in that remark...I've felt on the verge of toppling over on a few occasions, and my stomach has taken up new residence in my throat. Then I did what needed to be done. I cleaned Zo up and I stripped the bed and brought the filthy sheets the laundry. The timing of it couldn't have been more ridiculous. I've felt hung over all day, in the worst way, and Zoey's gastrointestinal system decides to throw me a challenge unlike any I've ever seen.

I just want to feel good. I'd do just about anything to feel good right now... anything but clean up a poop festival again.



Shortly after yesterdays football game the shivers started, then they morphed into cold sweats, and by 9 or 10 pm I was a mess. I hunkered down and read a tonne. I kinda lost track of time as often is the case when your whole body starts to ache and your head gets super fuzzy. I was a pitiful looking creature.

I normally manage sickness pretty good. I don't think I'm your typical Mommy's boy sick man, but I think my immune system is strong and the little stuff doesn't usually drag me down. The problem with that is when I do catch something it's usually a good one and it knocks me out hard. I tend to not come down with the three week lingering colds that most people contract. I get smacked down and am good and gone for two days, sometimes three. Sweat and shakes and violent hurls...sounds like my kind of cold.

Fortunately for me the whole house slept in today. When I stumbled out of bed to wash the awful out of my mouth, it was 9 am and everyone was still asleep. They were up with my rustling but the gift of that extra sleep was heaven sent. Of course, Zoey got out of bed smiling, she always does, and she insisted on wearing her Michigan jersey again today, still more than a little enthusiastic about whatever it was yesterday that Mommy and Daddy were so ecstatic about. All she knows is that it involved that jersey and so she was wearing it again come hell or high water.

I might be as sick as a dog today but I think I'm going to be privy to some nice little wasted Sunday gifts. The tv schedule looks perfectly suited to the frightfully sick...Zed seems to be the happiest kid alive...and it's Week 1 of the NFL...Somebody get me a puke bucket and the remote control.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Michigan-Notre Dame LIVE BLOG

WARNING: If you don't care about college football then you might want to skip this post altogether, also, ask yourself why we are friends?

Michigan Notre Dame

I've always wanted to do this...and with Zed sleeping to kick this thing off, it looks like I might have a decent shot at live blogging my favorite tilt of the Fall. It's Michigan-Notre Dame today and the house is quiet, the phone is close at hand for random trash talk calls, and I got lots of rest last night knowing full well that this afternoon could make or break my weekend. We considered driving down to South Bend but Zed's fever from the last few days put an end to that wishful thinking. Now we're hunkered down here on the lake, ready for whatever the great Gods of gridiron give us. I'll be live blogging the whole thing so hang tight and hope for the best, in both the game and on this computer screen...this could get terribly lame, terribly fast.

Go Blue!

1:00 pm...I just read this and nearly died. It's not safe for work, and I'd recommend not opening this link if you're easily offended, or if you ever want to look at me with any respect in your eyes ever again...but it's funnier than Jesse Palmer's career.

3:00 pm...I'm terribly tired of hearing the entire country talk about how Denard Robinson can't possibly carry the ball 29 times again, and how UConn's defense was poorly prepared for Michigan's offense, and blah blah is different, and both Michigan and Notre Dame know what they're doing, and they're ready to adapt what they're doing and all the conjecture in the world doesn't win or lose a football game...I'd also like to add that I don't know whether to boil or fry or grill the hotdogs today. Who cares about Denard, the future of of gastrointestinal discomfort is in question.

3:07 pm...I hear rustling from Zoey's room. If the Zed wakes up before this game begins then it's official, God hates me.

3:11 pm...I should have napped. I'm grumpy, and if Michigan loses today I'm going to be a Sasquatch.

3:12 pm...I hope someone from Miami breaks Terrelle Pryor's leg this afternoon.

3:13 pm...I'd like to punch Kirk Herbstreit in the face. How does Desmond Howard sit next to that turd?

3:20 pm...It hurts to hear national television talk about Michigan-Notre Dame as being inconsequential.

3:33 pm...Tom Hammond is scary! His hair is like Ronald McDonald's except gray! Yikes...

3:40 pm...Those 9/11 stars and stripes hats are awful, and so was that odd embrace between Tate Forcier and Rich Rod?

3:44 pm...Mouton with a tackle for a loss. Nice penetration...sorry, I just wanted to type penetration.

3:48 pm...Illegal block in the back and the ND touchdown comes back..I'd thank God but he's on their side.

3:51 pm...Reviewing ND touchdown while I eat pistachios. If ND has two touchdowns called back on their first drive I'm going to take that as a sign.

3:54 pm...Nope. Whose side is God on? Our side, that's whose.

3:54 pm...ND touchdown...their third one in five minutes but it's only 7 - 0 Notre Dame. I'm not very good at math but that sounds about perfect.

3:55pm...Zoey is awake! This isn't good.

4:00 pm...My brother wore #86 too but he could catch...4th and 5...Michigan kicks. I have a feeling that this post is going to be stupid long unless I reign it in a little.

4:02 pm...Commercial break and I just noticed that Roadhouse II: Last Call is on tonight...classic.

4:04 pm...Mouton with a Michigan interception! Freshman Rees throws the pick.

4:05 pm...Touchdown Michigan on the first play after the interception!! Take that God! 7-7

4:06 pm...June's trying to teach Zoey Hail to the's not working out so well.

4:11 pm...Notre Dame punt...that Rees kid isn't so hot. How's relying on a freshman QB feel Notre Dame? Not good does it?

4:13 pm...Zoey and Mom are coloring during the commerical break. Michigan ball with good field position. I think Zoey just pooped her pants. It's only a matter of time before I do that same.

4:15 pm...Michigan needs to punt 'cause 3rd and 5 sucks...could we stop with that? The offense is looking like a cat in a burlap bag. Something's gotta happen...good or bad.

4:18 pm...Nate Montana takes the snap for ND...that's Joe Montana's kid, and he was a walk-on!? So either Joe Montana has bad genes or he was a crappy father. Your Dad is the best NFL QB ever and you're a walk-on? Hmmm.

4:21...Michigan fumble, Michigan recovery...whew...and there's that poop I was talking about earlier.

4:22 pm...Odoms with a 31 yard pass reception from Robinson.

4:23 pm...Touchdown Michigan!!! Hopkins punches it in from the 2. 14-7 Michigan. Jesus Crist! That was freshman Stephen Hopkins first carry ever!

4:26 pm...Okay, this live blogging thing is a pain in the arse. I gotta scale it back a little here. It's not really all that fun. From now on only occasional updates...that's the way God wants it.

4:29 pm...End of the first quarter. Zoey is trying to steal my beer but I blocked her with an elbow bar.

4:38 pm...Robinson scrambles for 37 yards on Michigan's first possession of the 2nd qtr. Who said that Denard wasn't going to be able to run today?

4:39 pm...3rd down and suckage...that might be our game plan.

4:47 pm...Some back and forth boredom and nothing much worth blogging about. This one might stay a schoolyard fight and nothing more.

4:50 pm...Devon Gardner in the game with Robinson hurt on the last play. Ouch Tate...ouch!

4:42 pm...Robinson back in after one play on the sideline. You can hear the collective sigh of relief all the way from Ann Arbor.

4:53 pm...Third down....Here you go Notre Dame, you can have it.

4:54 pm...Michigan punt and a commercial break. How long before those buggers at the Freep have a headline about Gardner coming in and not Tate? I give 'em fifteen minutes.

4:57 pm...Michigan interception on Montana...Brian Kelly is mean to Joe's son. Somewhere Joe bristles.

5:01 pm...Third down and crap. Michigan punt, Notre Dame ball. What's with all these horrifying third downs? No one is looking very impressive so far, save Brian Kelly's curse mouth.

5:05 pm...On behalf of both Notre Dame and Michigan I'd like to apologize to all of NBC's national audience.

5:08 pm...Notre Dame punt and downed on the Michigan 2. Tabling the issue again as to whether or not God hates us.

5:09 pm...Hey, a third down that worked!

5:10 pm...DENAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD ROBINSON!!!!!!! 87 yard touchdown Michigan!!!! Whoa, that kid's fast!! 21-7 for the good guys. (Second longest run ever vs. Notre Dame)

5:19 pm...Nice last minute for the Irish and Montana. Ball on the MIchigan 3 yard line with 3 seconds left on the clock...field goal or TD attempt? ND time out to think about it. Kelly says go for it! Nice...

5:22 pm...Nate Montana throws it out of bounds in the end zone, time expires, and Brian Kelly passes out. Score at the half...Michigan 21...Notre Dame 7

5:26 pm...Spending halftime babysitting a doll and a hippopotamus with Zedder. Empty bottles filled with imaginary milk. I might not be the best Daddy but I'm pliable.

5:45 pm...Start of the second half and now that the dolls are fed and asleep, Daddy and Zoey can get back to blogging.

Daddy Zoey Michigan Notre Dame

5:47 pm...Third and out for Michigan on the first series of the second half...Three is starting to become my least favorite number.

5:49 pm...Notre Dame touchdown pass...Dayne Crist looked better on a sideline. Michigan 21...Notre Dame 14.

5:50 I the only one freaking out that the Notre Dame receiver dropped the ball in celebratory hubris before he crossed the goal line?? That ball should have been spotted on the one...delaying the inevitable, sure, but watch the game refs.

5:53 pm...Notre Dame looks pretty perky with Crist back in the game. I'm wondering whether or not I should have stayed in Zoey's room playing? Momentum is a b!t@h.

5:55 pm...Third and 10 Robinson keeper? To hell with you third downs! Punt and a Michigan bounce. I have a bad feeling that this is about to get ugly.

5:57 pm...Huge first down run for Notre Dame and the Gods of momentum are firmly entrenched against the Wolverines now. The run is called back a bunch but it's still a dagger in my eye. Now Michael Floyd is running backwards for first downs...yup, we may have officially lost control of this borefest.

6:02 pm...Notre Dame field goal...21-17 for the Wolverines...barely hanging on right now. I just slipped two Aleeves and put some beer in the fridge. This could be the kind of evening that requires a sensitive friend or perhaps a counselor or three.

6:09 pm ...1st and 20 doesn't frighten me as much as third and anything.

6:10 pm...4th and 7...surprise, surprise, and then Michigan misses a field goal attempt. Wheels are wobbling...

6:13 pm...Crist pass intercepted by Michigan~!!

6:15 pm...It'd be awesome if Denard would run North-South and stop this sideways stuff. Nearly throws and interception on 2nd and 18.

6:17 pm...Michigan is 1 for 10 on third downs. Where's the Aleeve? Notre Dame ball...

6:19 pm...I just realized that's it's raining. June says it has been for hours. This live blogging crap gives new meaning to the term engrossed.

6:20 pm...So if Crist had been in this game all along I think all of us Michigan fans would be bloodied by our own hands a long time ago. This is a different football game.

6:21 pm...Michigan sacks Crist for a 12 yard loss! 3rd and 18 for the Irish. My head hurts.

6:23 pm...Michigan with the ball on their own 40 to start a drive...I'm averting my eyes just like Tate Forcier.

6:27 pm...3rd and 3 Michigan....holding my breath.

6:28 pm...Ridiculous play to get the first down. We'll take it but that's not what we want to see too frequently.

6:31 pm..More third down disappointment and a 40 yard field goal attempt that misses. Gibbons is 1 for 4 on the season now, but if we're settling for field goals against rivals I guess this year's wrapped all up already.

6:35 pm...Zoey's bouncing around the living room squealing about how excited she is. I think she's confused. And she just asked to watch The Muppet Show...I'm tempted to oblige her.

6:37 pm...Zoey just screamed "catch it and run," with that last almost-interception by Michigan. Where'd she learn that? I'm glad I don't make it a practice to swear at the television.

6:40 pm Denard Robinson running around, shoelaces flying in the wind. That's a beauty sight.

6:41 pm...Underappreciated story of this game...Michigan penalties.

6:44 pm...Another third down bummer. Six minutes left...Irish possession...four point lead for the Wolverines. Ulcer brewing in my guts. Zoey smiling and twirling around the house...a nice distraction.

6:47 pm...Crist looking dodgy on this drive...fingers crossed.

6:48 pm...Notre Dame time out to avoid a delay of game penalty, and Crist gets some of the same kind of treatment that Montana got. Call me a wuss, but I kinda think that most college football coaches are turds. I'm glad I have a daughter. Swim coaches are nicer I think.

6:51 pm...Just over five minutes left and Michigan with the ball on the ND 48...burn some clock or score I scream with no one listening. IT'S SUDDENLY THIRD DOWN WITH NINE TO GO! That's burning clock?

6:53 PM...No first down...punt and Irish ball with 4:15 left on the clock. Ball on the eight yard line and my heart in my throat. Zoey's strutting around the house in her Michigan jersey and pig tails, helping to ease the tension a little.

Zoey laundry bag Michigan game

6:55 pm...An enormous broken play from deep in the ND end for a HUGE touchdown. 95 yard ramble for a score. Notre Dame leads by three with 3:41 left in the game. I'm starting to feel like I've wasted four hours.

7:01 pm...I'm officially having a nervous breakdown. Don't expect much from me in these last three minutes.

7:04 pm...Interesting that fourth and inches feels exactly like a stroke.

7:08 pm...Someone please call 911. My chest hurts.

7:07 pm...One minute and eighteen seconds left in this game that went from boring to breathtaking in the span of a halftime. 2nd and 5 at the ND 17. Go Blue!

7:10 pm...3rd and five. Sound familiar? Michigan time out...Zoey is upset. I think that there's a little too much tension for this sensitive little girl. She doesn't like this kind of thing very much.

7:12 pm...Pass collected at the ND 2~!!!

7:13 pm...Denard Robinson TOUCHDOWN!!!!! UM 28 - ND 24...27 seconds left! Holy mother of Moeller!

7:15 pm...ND with two time outs...20 seconds left...God, I know that I don't really believe in you, but please, can you screw your alma mater over and let us have this one. As I type this Zoey is reading the letters on my Braylon Edwards jersey, and correctly. If I wasn't in the middle of a major coronary I'd be more impressed.

7:17 pm...BRUTAL LATE HIT CALL!!!! Six seconds left...hanging on tight but the referrees seem to hate Michigan today! Aren't they Big Ten officials? Notre Dame looking to score with a prayer and subsequent miracle.

7:19 pm...Time runs out on the Crist scramble and throw...MICHIGAN WINS!!!! And all is right with the world.

I'm out...thanks for your patience folks. Hope you enjoyed my nervous breakdown. Nice one huh Beth? I don't think I'll do this again. Now there's a little girl in the tub and I've got to get gone. Go Blue!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday morning fever...


Zedder's got herself a fever. I'd like to say that the only prescription is more cow bell, but she gets plenty of cow bell. She's got more teeth coming in, and despite Daddy's sturdy comprehension that this is just how it goes, I hate it when Zoey gets a fever. It worries me. I'm kind of irrational that way, always have been.

It's been a cold , cold week, at least in the context of past Septembers, and now that Zed has herself a little fever, I'm fully bummed. Where is the sunshine and carefree caress of late summer and oncoming Fall? Where iare the easy attitudes that fall from the trees like leaves when school starts and the temps start to drop? All we've got is fleece weather when we should still be wearing shorts, and rain laden clouds with occasional glimpses of sunshine...AND a feverish little girl.

Full on bummer in effect. Please universe, send me something to distract me and maybe giggle a little. I'm not laying on the concrete catatonic or anything like hit and run or anything. I just need a little good game slap on the ass...metaphorically speaking. I don't need anyone actually smacking me arse...well, okay, maybe one. We all need a little ass pat once in awhile.

I hope Zoey feels better today. That kid flips me three shades of sideways when she's not right. I can deal with a jonesing meth amphetamine addict whose life is collapsing around him, but when my daughter gets sick...I'm much less than this guy who can deal with a lot. I'm fairly flimsy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Maybe the 3rd Best Photo of All Time


Daddy and Zed out having some fun. How stoked does Zo look? Could maybe be the definition of the term...

Here's some more pics from our evening of concrete stoke...boy, she was a beaut.

I'm especially fond of this one too...


People say, "is that your skateboard," to which I reply, "yes it's my #%&?ing skateboard," I might be all grown up but I still know what fun is, and fun is sliding around on a plank of wood with four wheels under it. It was good enough to thrill me when I was thirteen and it's good enough now.

Zoey...write this down...

If having fun is sacrificed at some maturity alter, and just for the sake of looking like someone who's responsible and grown up, well, you're making a big mistake. Here's the best advice ever...BE a responsible grown up and then go have some fun...done.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Love LA


Daddy's headed back to Southern California for a working weekend of awesomeness. He's heading to the City of Angels at the end of October for the To Write Love on Her Arms MOVE Community Conference. He's going to stop in and visit Louis in the barrio, and with some luck catch up with Father Greg...he's going to touch base with Jeff Yokoyama down in Huntington Beach...he's going to visit The Troubadour in West Hollywood, Griffith Observatory high up in the Hollywood Hills, and probably buy an embarrassing number of Laker tees. He's going to set some things in motion and if you're lucky, stop referring to himself in the third person.

Sure, I'll be squashed between Compton and East LA, and sure I won't have a whole lot of time...three days isn't long enough to scoot down to South Orange or up to Ventura etc...but I'll be back where I belong, or have felt a kinship so often, and I'll remember this trip as the start of something huge.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Painting Summer's Passing...


When I was a kid my Dad painted on cars...mostly on vans. I remember him painting on perfectly fine automobiles whose owners had decided that they needed just a smidge more paint on what was already a pretty thoroughly well painted vehicle. He did custom pin-striping and detailing in both the driveway and at various truck-ends across the country. What the hell is a truck-end? Good question. It's basically a weekend where dudes in vans gathered to show other dudes their vans. To a small boy, it was camping, with a strange and usually drunk assortment of unique 70's type characters hanging around, and ridiculous murals on the sides of ridiculously pimped out vans. To my Dad I'm sure it was much more than that. It was recreation, escape, and probably (sorry Dad) a way to cling to the freedom and irresponsibility of youth. He was, after all, just a young, young man when my brother and I were born. Truck-ends were my Dad's way of riding the wake of what the sixties left for young men who didn't leave for wars or the West Coast. Plus people paid him to take a steady hand, a fine paint brush, and an assortment of paints, and skim long curving lines above their wheel wells, or around their tail lights. Even I know that anytime you can get paid to wield a paint brush you take it, even if it does mean surrounding yourself with people in bell-bottom jeans who smell of marijuana and sweat.

My brother and I made a lot of friends on those summer weekends, and my family has a lot of photographs from that time (if my father ever digs them out of the Tutankhamunesque tombs of assorted junk and valuables he has amassed in garages, warehouses, and one barber shop over the years). Labor Day always reminds me of those times when my Mom would pack up the van and the family's collective bags as my brother and I were off at camp or at a friends, and my father was at work. The instant we arrived at home we were set on a maternal assembly line to get clean and fed, while my father followed our harried lead with a splash of Brut cologne and flick of deodorant (wildly grown up trappings to an eight year old boy) and then tossed a few last minute things into the already packed and running van (probably an ice and beer packed cooler)..vroooom, off to Watkins Glen, NY, or Milan, MI or wherever all those bell-bottomed marijuana smelling sweaty people were with their ridiculous vans that needed even more ridiculous pinstripes and tail-light accents. It was a fun way to grow up.

Eventually the nights around the campfire got colder, and the crowds thinned out and you knew it was almost time to go back to school. Strange how eventually the whole world that we lived in felt the same way. The scene soon faded and left my Dad with only a garage full of memories and only real camping trips (the kind with smores and Coleman stoves instead of Doobie Brothers concerts and coolers full of Strohs) with family members and friends. The oh-so interesting sweaty, marijuana smelling, bell bottomed van enthusiasts and half-anarchists that the sixties left numb and grasping for meaning by customizing what was once the lamest of Detroit assembly-line creations, the van, were gone. They were spending more time at work, more time at home, and more time regretting the previous decade's mistakes and missed opportunities. If the seventies were anything they were desperate and regretful for the people who didn't get what the sixties were selling. A good job and a moderately expendable income tempered the times. For my Dad, and for the rest of us, there must have been one last Labor Day that ended one last summer where the world hadn't caved in and gotten too mundane and too real. Surely both symbolically and in reality, there was one last truck-end on one last Labor Day weekend that ended it Altamont for the automotive infatuated and real-life assuaged.

Summer's over, and just as I remember, this weekend isn't just the start of the end, it is the end. Eventually no one wants their van pinstriped, and no one wants to load the cooler up, and certainly the van isn't packed and running in the driveway when you get home. It's been a long time since I saw my first boobs at a truck-end, and since I first found excitement in weekends and the road, and I'm sure my Dad can tell you how long it's been since he's thought of anything or anyone from those caravan days between growing up and wishing that you hadn't. Labor Day will always feel like the end of more than just summer for me. It feels like the end of a lot of great things. I can't remember the last time I saw my Dad leaning over waxed and polished Detroit steel, his pinky finger pointed awkwardly out, the heal of his palm dragging across the gentle bend of a shining quarter panel and a tiny brush trailing his steady hand. I used to like watching him do that. He was good at it. Sometimes the memory makes me wonder just what it will be that Zoey remembers about me. I'm quite certain that it won't be bell-bottoms, sweat, and the smell of marijuana, but those weekends in the company of madness and Mag wheels taught me a few lessons... the weekends never really need to end, not if you don't want them to, and hippies don't transition into other irresponsible forms of citizenry very well. I also learned that even when Labor Day says it's over you don't have to put the paintbrush down. Even now, after all these years, I think I'd like to watch my Dad paint up a quarter panel or trim a tail light. Maybe it's weepy nostalgia, or maybe more, I dunno...all I'm really sure of is that all of my best childhood memories happened before Labor Day, and a lot of them, despite me rarely saying so, with my Dad. A lot of those memories answer a lot of questions about who I am and how I see the world, that little paintbrush did more than leave clean, straight painted a lot of memories.

Happy Labor Day too Dad. I'm thinking that a camping trip might be in order.