Monday, January 31, 2011

Blogging...not for the faint hearted.

I started this blog a little less than three years ago, and in that time I've exposed my inner workings with regularity. It wasn't always easy, and to be honest, it wasn't always well thought out, but it was natural. It was everything that I was at the time, in that was organic to say the least. I'm sure I set myself up for judgements, and certainly for criticism. I most definitely courted the changing of opinions about me, both good and bad. I didn't think about it too much, I just did it. In the end Zoey will someday have a pretty clear picture of who her father is. Whatever her impression of him is, well, that's out of my busily typing hands.

All I really know about this endeavor is that it's been close to my heart. I promised myself that I would type everything if I was moved to type anything, and such an enterprise is not an easy chore. If there are tears, they need to find their way onto the blog. If there is disappointment or regret, it needs to find it's way into this post or that one. If the things you write down aren't honest then what's the point? I also knew that I wanted Zoey's blog to be about connecting with other people, and it has. It's given me plenty of opportunities to say things that people never get to say to one another, and to reach out, re-connect, and to re-affirm relationships. It's done a lot to remind me that friends come in many shapes and sizes, and that they're not always who you think they are. In fact, they're most typically not. The unfortunate truth is that there are plenty of people whom we adore and then never make such sentiments known, and lots of people who, in turn, value us, more than they ever get around to saying. This blog has helped to harvest those relationships and that wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it's been one of the beautiful benefits.

I can't imagine stopping now. I can't fathom giving up on this daily dose of humility and humor. I get to be the guy that I want to be, flaws and all, and it's been revelatory. It's helped me come to understand that there are less places to truly be ourselves than we imagine. We all need one place where who we are isn't influenced or affected by everyone around us. For me, this is it. It's not always easy, and it's sometimes embarrassing but it's exactly what I needed.

Zo's blog averages about 250 visitors a day, some days more...some days a lot more. I don't even know 250 people, so that's a lot of people who I've let into my heard and heart. The blog has had over 50,000 visitors in less than three years and that number leaves me kind of flabberghasted. There are 50,000 people who probably know something pretty revealing about me. You'd think that would be a little unnerving but, surprisingly, it's quite the opposite. It feels good to be this transparent. It feels comforting to know that on 50,000 occasions I've been nothing more than myself, and that alone was good enough. The bigger hope is that someday Zoey reads all of this and whoever I've been all these years was exactly that, good enough. It's one thing to entertain 50,000 people, and it's entirely another thing to inspire just one little girl.

I've never thought about it this way until now, but there are few things on this planet I'm more proud of than this little collection of nonsense and affection. This is who I am, and how I feel, and I hope that's good enough. From this side of all that typing it is. It most certainly is.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lying prone on a couch of enlightenment

It was the sound of two balloons rubbing together as they floated above the vent, that and some water splashed on my face, that woke me up to the living again today. I've been sick, and I've been self-indulgent in that, and although I still feel awful, two balloons rubbing together has reminded me that if I only take time to listen I'll hear things I had never heard before. The balloons are from Zoey's birthday, five days ago. They've surely been tangling and bumping and rubbing for days now but I've only just heard them.

I'm not very good sick, no one is, I suppose, but I'm particularly bad. I languish in it. I fall apart without much of a fight, believing without hesitation, that there isn't much I can do about it all save feel bad, so why not feel bad. It's completely eluded me that I could try to feel better. It never struck me that part of getting healthy is wanting to get healthy. Willing to be sick is one thing, but wanting to be better is another. The sound of two rubbing balloons woke me up to the notion that there just might be a lot of stuff that I'm not approaching in the right way.

Two rubbing balloons in a quiet house...a perspective changer. Hmm, and just when I was aching and weak and not believing in anything it strikes me...maybe there is something to believe in?

I need to start paying better attention.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Dear Universe...

Thanks for the awful chest cold that smacked me lifeless this afternoon. It came quick, and will stay a long time, I'm sure. My chest feels like someone is sitting on it, my cough sounds horrible and I could care less about nearly everything. That's two down-and-out ailments in approx. 10 days and I can't tell you how excited I am that you blessed me with such an easy way to lose weight and leave June with no help managing the Zed...again.

If I have a difficult time expressing my gratitude it's because there is none. I missed Avery's MVP game against Windsor this afternoon. I steered clear of my daughter and wife, and I'll surely miss more work if this doesn't clear up in 48 hours. All that AND Ohio State squeaked past Nothwestern by a single digit tonight to keep the nation's #1 college basketball ranking.

Thanks for today.

The Definition of Uselessness

Here's some simple math for you to bounce around your head. There are two parents and only one child, so when that one singular child needs one of of of us attends to her. That leaves the other one to feel rather useless. You don't feel useless always, and you certainly don't feel useless because you are, or because the other parent has made you feel that way. You just flat out simply feel useless.

Like this morning. At 3am Zoey woke up and I could hear her. I think June was fast asleep stlll. I wanted to let her ramble and rustle and find her own way back to sleep rather than give her one more reason to think that she needs us for something. It didn't work. She stayed awake, in fact found herself more awake if that's possible. At 4am she started crying out for Mom. The problem was that Mom was asleep. Now, you might say, why didn't you just go take care of business, well because if she's asking for Mom that means she wants Mom, not Dad...we've worked through this before. A Dad visit means fun, trouble, or not what the little girl does not mean sleep. So I nudged June, told her that she was being paged, which BTW pretty much makes you feel like the biggest asshole of all time, every single time, and watched her stumble into Zed's room. Two hours later she was still in Zed's room, Zo was no closer to sleep, and I was still wide awake twenty feet away.

I wasn't in that dark little closet of a room struggling away with that little girl, but I was frustrated. I'd been up since 3am. I can't sleep, like some jerk, when June's in there banging her head against a wall. I can't go in there 'cause that's the wrong message to Zo. It's not fun time, nor is it intimidating Daddy is upset time either. She's just awake. She's a human being and this crap happens. I pretty much can't do anything without feeling useless and unsupportive. THIS future Daddys of the planet is how you feel these first few years of Daddydom. You can play, bath, walk, feed, carry, read, scold, nap, explore, shop, wait, spend, pick up, etc...endless etc...but you're still not Mom, and you're still going to have the universe throw you jerk moments, and useless times, and THAT's the hardest part of all this.

So as long as you're legitimately useless in the moment, you know, not making excuses...and as long as you're willing to make up for the imbalance of effort (an imbalance you didn't ask for or invest in but are 179% responsible to make right at the earliest possible moment) and as long as you are perfectly willing to scrap any intentions, plans or hopes for whatever time period follows the're good. You're also required to shelve any thoughts on the matter because you weren't enduring it in the first person, which although it makes sense, sucks.

Here's what it boils down to...

The moment, whatever that moment might be, sucks, and there isn't much that you can do about it except acknowledge that both parents are feeling like crap about it, and then adjust to the following hours that are going to have the faint smell of residual suckage. Like how there's no way we're driving to Detroit today for an afternoon at the Institute of Art and a movie ("Howl" with James Franco playing Allen Ginsberg) even though we've got Baachan and Grandad stepping up to the plate to watch Zo for a night so we can have an actual moment that resembles marriage...we'll be disinclined to crowd our schedule with things that will further exhaust us rather than recharge us...we'll very likely be napping by 2pm...and we'll surely be grumpy and somewhat bitter that the universe couldn't throw us a friggin' bone for one day. Don't get me wrong. We have a great, grand life, and we do a lot of stuff, and we enjoy the hell out of our life, but we try to be good people and parents and that means that we take responsibility for things and every once in awhile when you have a window to be somewhat irresponsible you kinda wanna jump through it. You wanna take a trip without your offspring. You want to shop alone. You want to go to a sporting event and pay attention to every second of it. You want to see a band that doesn't go on stage until want to go to an art gallery that doesn't more closely resemble a want to linger, at whatever it is you are doing. At 3am this morning the window slammed down on our unsuspecting fingers. We don't get the opportunity to linger very often.

On a positive note, 'cause there's always a positive note, 98.4% of the is the weekend and we can recover. We can take a nap, sleep when we find the time, agree to be grumpy together, and be oh-so happy that this wasn't a weeknight. All that and we very likely would have spent $100 in the city where today will now cost us significantly less 'cause we're not doing a damn thing that doesn't take any more than fifteen minutes to manage, $15 to enjoy, and allows for no frustration, no difficulty, no escape plan, and no significant outpouring of energy. My wife is cool and I like hanging out with her, so anything we manage will be fine.

3am, you make me feel like a twit, and I can deal with the tired and crotchety, but I don't like feeling like a useless pile.

PS - June, I'm sorry that it's your name that gets called out in the middle of the night. If it's any consolation I'll be the one who has to pick her up at 3am from some guy's house after she lied to us about where she was spending the night AND then pay the lawyer who represents me in the ensuing assault and battery case against that same young man who told me to chill when I asked him what the hell his name was.

Misty Miller vs. the World

How is it possible to be this incredible at age 16? That's what Misty Miller is...16. When I was sixteen I was hopelessly self-involved...tragically immature...embarrassingly unaccomplished...not Misty. Makes me wonder what we'll have in Zoey.

What did Misty's parents do differently, or did they do anything at all? Maybe Misty was just hell-bent and heaven-meant to be this impressive? All I know is that she sure seems to beat the pants off of most sixteen year olds. She seems talented, happy, balanced, comfortable with herself...I know adults who can't accomplish that. It hurts my head to think about how proud her parents must be.

I spend my days surrounded by kids whose parents, sadly, aren't so proud...maybe never were very proud themselves...and it's equally baffling. Sometimes I forget that there's a lot in between Misty Miller and the kid who corners me for advice. I don't know too many Misty Millers...maybe the glaringly obvious absence of those young people in my life means I'm long overdue to know one. Maybe that one will be Zoey.

Sleepless in Sarnia...

It's 5 am on a Saturday morning and someone is wide awake in the other room telling her Mom all kinds of stories about parties and bunnies and how Al Pacino owes her five bucks...Okay, I made that last part up, but Zo is WIDE awake, and has been for about an hour which means that she was rooting us out of bed at 4am. You can't just leave her, because we did that from 3am on, and after an hour it's difficult to ignore all the banging and shuffling noises coming from her room, and it's also a little dangerous to leave a two year old to her own devices in thee dark hours of morning...especially when she owes money all over town.

The cat won't stop meowing like he's trapped behind a fence keeping him from thirteen in-heat females, or like maybe he's got gut cancer eating away at him oh-so painfully, and not so surprisingly, I can't sleep, rest my eyes, or clear my head from thought for even the leanest of five seconds. I went to bed stressed as my "Oh shit" cell phone for the kids I work with went off last night. There was a solitary text late in the evening that read, "Brian? U There?" but no more after that, so it sits beside my bed more silent than the rest of my world, when it's the only thing I really want making any noise right now. I backtracked the number to find that it was a cell # with Telus issued to a Chatham address but that's all I know. It could be any number of kids in any number of tricky spots, with any number of end results...most, I imagine, bad.

Since when were weekends more difficult to live through than weekdays?

Friday, January 28, 2011

She Got Game...


Zedder might just grow up with basketball on the brain, which is fine by me. She sees enough of it, and judging by her her height measured just this afternoon at her doctor's appointment, a whopping 35 inches tall, she might be well served by a pre-occupation with hoops. Tonight we hit up Avery's basketball game and although Zed only caught about four minutes of it before she decided that playing in the bleachers was more fun, she was surrounded by bouncing basketballs and excruciatingly loud scoreboard buzzers. I think she likes it.


Zed hunkered down with Reece and mostly ignored Avery. That's what an iTouch will do, I suppose, but she also had a birthday present to distract her, other kids, an Aunt and Uncle, and some semblance of freedom. A gymnasium is a wondrous place for a two year old without tethers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Big Girls...Big Games...Big Tears


First Michigan blows up Sparty, now the Knicks are working the Heat hard, and I'm a tired, but happy dude. Sorry, I just had to use the word, dude. Thursday nights are made for this kinda stuff. All that and Zedder was awfully cute tonight. Even when she got sent to her room for an over-the-top "no," aimed at Daddy, she rallied and was quick to pick herself up. It was difficult to stay mad at her as she moaned and squealed from her room, through warm, choking tears and regret, "I'll be nice...I'll be nice Daddy. I'll be nice." It's pretty easy to tell when she means it, and she meant it. A few weeks ago she found herself in trouble with Grandad and so sat alone and tearful, obviously upset that she had earned his scorn. At this stage it doesn't take much to shatter this little girl.

Thank God 'cause those eyes are killers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Zoey at Two


Stendhal said that "a very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love"...a very small degree of hope indeed...a little less than three feet, to be exact.

Zed's birthday in ten words or less.

Birthday Suit Jan 26 2011


Happy Birthday Zed...

Zedder is two years old today...TWO! Ask her, she'll tell you. Of course, I could mumble the same old parental crap...where did the time go, she's getting so big...blah blah blah, but the thing that stands out the most is that two years have gone by and we haven't buggered this thing up. She's a smart little girl. She's confident, and curious. She's happy. Somehow, June and I have managed to sneak through two full years of hitting all our shots, not turning the ball over, and never calling a time out when we don't have any left. Two years is a long time. There aren't many things that I've ever done for two whole years, let alone avoid catastrophe.

Happy Birthday Zedder, I can't believe we haven't ruined you yet. You're either awfully resilient, or we're better at this than we anticipated.

Here are some of my favorite things about you from the first two years...

- how you say, "Oh, Daddy," and smile wide whenever I'm being ridiculous.
- how nothing on the planet is cooler than doing a few laps around the house naked before bath time.
- you're 'Pops' imitation.
- how you jump.
- that little stuttery thing you do when you're brain is working way faster than your mouth.
- the pleases and thank-yous.
- how you frequently exclaim, "I've got an idea!"
- the way that you devour books.
- your boundless affection for Mathilda and Woody.
- that you can watch Madagascar two hundred and nine times and still want to watch it again.
- the look on your face when you anticipate something.
- your Christmas infatuation
- how you apologize sometimes if you bump into me, or step on my foot, "I'm sorry Daddy."
- when you call a basketball court a basketball apartment or a basketball carpet.
- how you check yourself out in the mirror.
- how even the bastardized songs that you butcher are still just about the cutest thing I've ever heard.
- that you love Super Grover.
- how crazy your hair looks when you wake up, and that you don't care.

Happy, Happy Birthday're everything you were supposed to be and about ten times more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Comprehensive Measure of Zedder's Basketball IQ

Debu, quite possibly the World's best and simultaneously annoying cat/friend...but he has no game.

When I asked Zoey if Debu could fly. She said, no, emphatically. Then I asked her if Debu could swim. She shook her head and giggled,no, then turned away. As she was busy focusing on something far less ridiculous as her Dad, and much less trying, I asked her if Debu could play basketball to which she confidently retorted...

"Debu can't play basketball because he has paws." She practically rolled her eyes at the notion.

Of course, how could I have suggested such a preposterous idea. There's no way Debu could play basketball. She reasoned further...

First, he was too little.

Second, he has paws, not fingers.

Lastly, HE'S A CAT!

Smart kid.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You're Welcome...

Listen to this and go to bed...yawn, stretch, fall asleep smiling, and dream sweet dreams. Giggle in your sleep like Zoey does.

I love you oh so well... oh so well, little girl. That should be written on skin somewhere. Happy, wonderful, safe and warm sleep everyone. G'night.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hide and Seek, and Seek, and Seek

Hiding spot

This is what good Dads do. While the Jets - Steelers game was raging, I was playing hide and seek with my very tired and very runny nosed and henceforth, upset, daughter. Oh, and I had some good hiding spots too. Like behind the rocking chair in her room...I didn't know I could fit back there. Like under the kitchen table, and down in the stair in the hallway closet, and in the shower. Oh...Daddy brings it when it comes to hide and seek. He doesn't mess around. Thank God for Mom or Zoey would still be searching for her Dad.

Beth is a Mom...

Avery, Beth and Mike

Our friend, Beth, is a Mom. It makes me smile. She'll be an impressive one.

It's been a few weeks now since Avery Grace first soaked up the sunshine of her new life, and she's happy and healthy and well on her way to being the most popular girl on the planet in at least two hearts and minds. I think, absolutely no different than us, it's been a hard first few steps for Mike and Beth. It's pretty hard to find yourself facing the task of managing the manifestation of the most love the two of you can muster without as much as a run through, a practice swing, or a spring training. One day you're two excited, eager friends, waiting for their baby, and the next you're overwhelmed parents charged with the responsibility of nurturing the most complex version of the love that you share between the two of you. That's tough. We found it tough.

There, wrapped in that soft, little, pink blanket is every whisper you've ever breathed into your best friend's ear...every warm word and embrace...every stomach flip and smile and sigh...the entire weight of your boundless affections and inexplicable infatuations with one another. There, cooing and crying, is the reflection of everything your heart is capable of feeling and your head capable of imagining. It's not just the flesh and genetics of two people, it's the combined energy of however you define love itself. It's something worth swooning over.

Swoon away Beth Skinner (she's always Beth Skinner in my mind)'s the most excruciating pain and perfection on the planet, you know, short of a Rose Bowl berth. You're a lucky little girl Avery Grace...your parents love you so much it hurts, but that's okay, I've learned in two short, short years that it's supposed to.

Congratulations Beth and Mike...welcome to a new world of sweet fragility. Everything's different with your head and heart in the clouds...everything.

Beth's a

Go Away Snow!

January lake

Those were Zoey's exact words this morning...


Her partisanship with regard to our vehement seasonal stance is encouraging to say the least. We might have a sunshine lover on our hands.

"I don't like this wind, she added, "I don't like it."

We hear you Zed, and we double your sentiment, and then add some extra just for good measure. Winter sucks. I'd like a wide San Diego County beach right now...Encinitas, maybe? Cardiff? I'd like to watch Zoey running around on a wide sun smattered beach with an impossible to suppress giggle and squeal...some brown skin, some sun freckles on my wife's face, a little bare feet in the sand...sea smell, and the easy attitude adjustment that shorts and sandals provide.

Go away snow indeed. How long until winter is over?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncle B and Aunt Header...

Brad and Head at Comerica 2010

Dear Uncle B and Aunt Header...

I like this picture of you two. It kicks ass pretty good, I think. It looks all mushy and sweet and crap.

Love, Zedder

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh Edgar...

I have to admit, I've never read Edgar Allen Poe...sad, and pathetic perhaps, but true. I own several books by the master of macabre, but I've never ventured to read them, not yet. I will, however, make amends after reading this.

For over 60 years someone has been creeping into the cemetery where Poe rests and paying tribute to him on his birthday...and no one knows who the dark figure might be.

Imagine...the goosebumps upon watching this mystery man's arrival at the grave. Alas, it's over now. It's impossible to bare witness to it now that the tradition is seemingly over. Isn't that just like life to throw you a line that isn't attached to anything? I think I'd like to read me some Poe and show up in Baltimore this year. Sounds like a boatload more fun than getting flat soused on a Friday night in Brights Grove, doesn't it? Sure does.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Once in a lifetime...

Tonight, watching the Golden Globes, it dawned on me that most of us will never experience such a moment as those actors do. Most of us will never find acknowledgement by our peers. Most of us will never enjoy the recognition we very likely deserve. Most of us will certainly never find our fifteen minutes of fame. More importantly, most of us will never put enough of ourselves into anything to merit such an honor anyway.

I don't want to live that way.

I don't know what I'll do, I just know that I'll do something. It's not about the recognition. It's about the commitment to something that leaves you naked and judged. That's what I want to stumble into...but I suppose you don't exactly "stumble" into that, not if you're doing it right, do you?

We should all be so lucky to find that moment when a speech is required.

You know, that surface you dribble a basketball on...

We know that it's called a basketball court...of course we know that, but Zedder insists on referring to it as either a "basketball apartment" or a "basketball carpet." I don't know why she does that, but it's cute as hell.

We watched Zo's cousin, Avery, play basketball today...on a carpet, or an apartment or something...Zo refuses to call it a court no matter how many times we correct her, and it seems so strange to see her all twelve years old and running and jumping and rebounding and being this little sweating and smiling woman. Zoey was pretty proud watching her play today with all the other girls. She insisted that Ave played for Michigan, and refused correction on that miscalculation too. She's a strong headed little girl.

One of my favorite things about this whole daughter thing has been watching her devote great big gobs of her attention on big girls whenever she's given the opportunity. Big girls mesmerize her, and you can almost see the wheels can feel her swelling with curiosity, and literally watch her recognize something of herself in all those dribbling and giggling young women. It's fun to watch. It makes me even more excited than I ever thought I could be to watch Zed find her way to twelve years old.

It's going to go by far too fast.

All I Have To Do Is Dream...


Sunday mornings are made for dreaming about things you'll never be able to going to visit the World's Largest Swimming Pool in Chile. How incredible does that look. A quick Google search for World's Largest Swimming Pool will serve as the knock out punch.

Since we're on the subject of dream locales, I'd like to wake up here tomorrow morning.

Daydreaming is my church.

Zed's rapidly developing good taste...

This morning Zoey begged us to turn the channel when WDIV Detroit weekend sports anchor Katrina Hancock appeared to give us the previous night's scores and highlights.

"I don't want to watch that," she said, "I don't like that lipstick."

We laughed out loud. We're not very big fans of the Bradley University grad either.

"I don't like that lipstick," she urged, "I don't like that."

So we turned the channel and Zo stepped back off the ledge. Lesson learned...Katrina Hancock frightens small children.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Nights Alright...


This is how I remember spending my winter Saturday nights as a child. It was Hockey Night In Canada, and that meant that we would prop ourselves up against the back of the couch and watch either the Montreal Canadians or the Toronto Maple Leafs play. If we were lucky we were allowed to stay up later than we normally were. If we were really lucky there was popcorn and Kool-Aid. If we stayed awake past two periods we were the luckiest kids alive.

I had Montreal Canadian pajamas. My brother had Toronto Maple Leafs pajamas. That was our hockey universe. Those were the games we watched. Sure there was the Flyers and the Blackhawks, and the Red Wings were just down the road, but Hockey Night in Canada meant Canadian teams and that meant Montreal or Toronto. Our sleepwear was strictly defined by whatever options the Sears catalogue provided our parents, which also meant Montreal or Toronto. It was a much smaller, much more simplistic universe. The businessmen were still quite primitive in their means of fleecing us of our hard earned money. My parents gave us what they could, and that usually meant that it came from the Sears catalogue.

It's funny how special Saturday nights seemed, and we did nothing. We did nothing out of the ordinary, spent no money, went nowhere, accomplished very little. We hunkered in at home and settled down in front of Guy LaFleur and his Habitants, or Mike Palmateer and his Maple Leafs, and filled our bulging little boy bellies with popcorn and giggles. Why do we need so much more now? What has happened to us all that we can't do that same thing all these years later? We're spoiled, and we're bombarded with entertainment options. We're convinced we need what we don't have, and we're unsatisfied with what once suited us right down to the ground. It's time to get back to basics, I say. There's nothing wrong with Hockey Night in Canada, and there's nothing wrong with pajamas and popcorn while the rest of the planet flips and spins and tumbles on it's axis. What once was good can be again...if we let it.

I might opt for different pajamas these days though.

Two Years Under the Reign of the Omniscient Zed

This is what I've learned in almost two years...

It's easier to stop swearing than you think.

Your little funster will learn more because of who you are than what you say.

If you don't foster magic and wonderment in your child you are a jerk.

My daughter has taught me that I'm not always quite as good a person as I like to think I am but, at the same time, I'm nowhere near as bad a person as I sometimes think I am.

Diapers are better than litter boxes.

Dancing in the kitchen is something you don't do nearly enough before kids.

Farts are funny pretty much from day 1, and to anyone capable of squeezing them out.

Your child is the ultimate blank canvas but it's surprising and shocking how much of you they inherit just through genetics.

There can never be enough books.

You don't want every experience to be easy, you just better understand what's going to be unnecessarily hard and not worth it.

You don't need to force much with a smart, loved, and confident child.

You define your dignity differently.

The most fun I've had with Zoey has cost no money, only time.

There's no shame in just calling a time out, or in hoping for a rain out sometimes. Everyone needs a break.

I've learned that the word suckabubba can be used for anything in any situation.

Talking is way more than just talking, it's learning, for both of us.

Going out for dinner means paying someone so that you won't enjoy your meal.

When Zoey asks me a question, what she really wants to know can sometimes be something very different than what she is asking.

I learned to listen to my guts, they know what they're talking about.

I learned how important it is to be myself.

Tights are really hard to put on a wiggly squiggling little girl.

Kids are gonna pee on the floor once in awhile, and it should be funny.

No one dies if you leave the Christmas tree up until February.

A stressed cat is a pretty pathetic cat.

This is cute I want to throw up...

You and Me Together...

Sometimes we need reminding about how fortunate we are. I do. I find that what I do during the day takes a unique toll on what I do at home. I don't know how I ended up in this place where I work really hard to take care of other people. There were no road signs, no maps that led me to this place. I just wanted to make a difference. What I didn't anticipate was how much other people's problems could throw me off kilter and out of orbit. I feel a regular wobble throughout my life, as though the tire is worn thin on just one side. I must be one helluva contradiction, one difficult dude to live love. Sometimes I'll drive two hours because a tearful phone call begged me to, and then when I have to clean my cat's litter box when I get home I want to throw him outside to fend for himself. Sometimes I let kids yell at me because they need to, but I don't allow my wife, and friends, and family to burden me with their problems or their concerns. Sometimes I wonder just what is under the hood, you know...what's fueling this machine because it often doesn't make much sense.

Stress is like that, I suppose. No one really understands it...really gets it. It strikes strange. It's a bit like a half detonated mine field with a scattering of dangerous places you wouldn't want to set a foot down on. I feel like that sometimes, but I have to sleep on it, or get away, or distract myself, or just get a damn grip, and everything fades and feels fine. Sometimes I need reminding just how fortunate I am, probably more than others might, and that seems strange.

I woke up this morning to a quiet house. I slept through the night, without interuption. I found this great song. I slipped out to breakfast with June. I came home to nurse a burgeoning cold while she slipped to Baachan's and Grandad's to pick up Zoey. I napped. I woke up to sunshine, and regret for yet another night of stunted social symmetry with the universe. Then I breathed deeply in all of my good fortune, and all of my right here and now, and thanked the sky that I have what I have.

Then I listened to this song over and over and over until I missed my wife and daughter so much it hurt.

Sometimes it takes some reminding that everything is perfect. You and me together, we can do anything...or so says Dave Matthews, but I believe him.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sick and Tired...a love story

Daddy and Einstein

Is it Thursday? It is Thursday isn't it? I haven't been writing because both Zo and her Mom are sick and I've been preoccupied with making sure that my girls were okay. I'm tired, and I think that maybe I'm catching a little something too, maybe not, but I'm feeling suspicious about it. This one might sneak up on me while I'm busy stealing away all of my daughters affections for her incapacitated mother...

Oh, I'm stealthy like that.

On a completely unrelated note...what the #$%& is going on with this kid's hair?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do the right thing...

Do the right thing

This isn't a post aggrandizing the cinematic accomplishments of Spike Lee, or even to throw gushing praise down on Bill Nunn's portrayal of Radio Raheem in that classic 1989 film, but to share something with you that equates to an itch I refused to scratch for a long, long time. Don't misunderstand, I could go on and on about Ozzie Davis, and Danny Aiello, and John Turturro but this story has less to do with how I feel about others as it does how I feel about myself.

Today, after almost seven years, I apologized to someone I had owed one to for a long, long time. I once walked away from what was something of a dream job with an over-the-top expletive (or series of expletives)aimed in the unfortunate direction of a few surprised and unsuspecting people who had earned those words in my rapidly blurring eyes. It was largely that fact that they were so incredibly unsuspecting that erally fueled the expletives. I cleaned out my desk and left the bulding before security asked me to leave. I'd never done that before, and I've never done that since, but that one solitary moment bothered me for a long time. So today I emailed one of the people who bore witness to my passionate dismantling, and I apologized for ever having treated anyone that way. I didn't back away from my reasons, nor did I venture to solicit an acceptance of this apology, but I offered one because I don't want to be that kind of guy, not even after all these years. I want to be bigger than the memory of my immature actions.

I'd thought about it for years...the event was so uncharacteristic of the kind of person that I am, and yet I did't regret my seemingly ancient motivation, the thing that stirred me so much that I was willing to walk away from something that I loved. What moved me to pen an apology and ship it off to a distant professional acquaintence, years and years after the fact, was knowing that I didn't want to leave such an embarrassing blemish on a completely blank canvas of personal and professional memories. I sit in this office and talk to kids every day about things like choices, and character and integrity, and here I wasn't even practicing it myself, at least not to the fullest extent. That's not the guy I want my daughter to know. So I awkwardly typed and sent a message that tucked pride and hesitation away in my backpocket so that humility could be laid bare on the table. I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was much too late.

It was a good exercise in doing something that is difficult, in stepping up to the plate and taking a swing, of being the person that you want to be, and of reaching for ideals that often seem just out of our reach. I want to be the kind of man that people can say something admirable about. I want to be the kind of person that can do difficult things because they are the right thing to do. With all this talk in Ann Arbor, Michigan about what a real "Michigan Man" might be these days, I want to carve my own definition of that illusive term and then meet my own lofty expectations. I want to be the kind of person that would do exactly what I've just done.

I don't know how I feel about it's still somewhat unprocessed, but I do know that today I did something that was hard to do but I did it anyway. Zoey, I hope that you read this someday and realize that your Dad worked very hard to be the kind of Dad that you deserve. I can tell you, for certain, that life is all about the choices you make and that hardly any of them are beyond revisiting to get right.

An explanation of sorts...

I read this today, here, and I rolled out of bed smiling.

"I can testify, in vague terminology out of respect and confidentiality, that we really do need each other. As friends, as floating souls, and as mutual children on earth, connected through molecules or verbs."

Yesterday I connected "through molecules and verbs" very effectively, I must say...and a couple of fifteen year old #$%&ed up young men inspired me to be happy. So I am.

Books on the cheap...unlike our next football coach

Value Village score!!

That's $12 dollars worth of awesome right there. That's right, $12. We're not thrift store savants here but we know enough to stop every once in awhile. Children's books are 99 cents...99 cents! You scan the endless shelves of throw away bedtime stories, very likely, of kids who have all grown give 'em a quick once over for wear and tear, names scribbled in the front, crayon scribbles here or there, wham...blam...kabloom! Cheap books.

I think I had most of these titles when I was a kid. My favorite, by far, was The Brave Little Tailor, so much so that I base a good portion of my character judgement on whether or not you've read it.

If I was in charge of the Michigan coaching search I'd be narrowing the candidates pool down with one question...

"Have you read The Brave Little Tailor?"

"What's that? No, you haven't? I'm afraid this conversation is over. We're sorry Mr. Gruden, but it just doesn't feel like the right fit."

That's how I'd fill the University of Michigan's Head Football Coach's vacancy, you know, that one thing that's going to cost us $5 million dollars a year and make only half the people happy. We could save a lot of effort, heartache, and dissention if we just followed my Brave Little Tailor line of questioning. You could probably get the guy that answers that question correctly pretty cheap. I'd do it but I'm busy and I'd suck.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Zedder vs. the Kansas Jayhawks

The chant in Lawrence, Kansas is, "ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!" but today, in Ann Arbor, it will be, "GO BLUE!" and it will be Zoey's first real test of stadium etiquette and crowd/game patience. We're off to Ann Arbor this afternoon for the Kansas - Michigan basketball game and we're excited beyond measure. It will be Zoey's first authentic have-her-own-seat sporting experience, and the results of which should be interesting.

I suppose she was present for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Detroit, albeit with a crappy seat in her mother's womb. Out in the oxygen rich air of post-birth, Zo caught the US-Canada World Baseball Classic match-up at the Rogers Centre in Toronto when she was six weeks old. She didn't know which way was up, but handled it like a pink little, fragile, bundled up champ. She took in Michigan's first NCAA Basketball Tournament game in about twenty years shortly after, catching Michigan-Clemson at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City in March. She was three months old, strapped into a baby carrier and only marginally less pink and fragile than she was in February. She was a Detroit Tiger season ticket holder for two years straight, but really only stumbled around Comerica Park for half a season. This will be Zoey's first big girl sporting event, and I'm sure the photos will be snapping.

With luck we'll meet up with the Bergquist's...with similar luck we'll see Bruce and JT and a few other old friends, and let's keep our fingers crossed that Daddy doesn't spend most of the game walking around the concourse entertaining Zed while the guys in Maize and Blue shock the Jayhawks. No worries, I suppose...we'll still be able to hear the band!

The Graduate School of Itchy Long Underwear & Powdery White Snow

Lessons I Learned While Playing in The Snow Yesterday...

1. Don't wear jeans under snow pants...not unless you're ten and it's recess, even then...bad idea.

2. You can still make pretty great snowballs out of powder-like snow, but your hands get awfully cold.

3. Too hot can be worse than too cold.

4. Long underwear is just too often an unpleasant experience.

5. Silk, not Capilene.

6. Making smiley faces in the snow using your own footprints is more fun than you think.

7. The leaves on bamboo trees stay green all winter long.

8. When dragging a small child on a sled through the snow, rope length is key.

9. My wife likes to make snow angels.

10. Snowmobile mitts are best left for snowmobiling.

11. It takes way longer for kids to get cold than it does for adults to get cold.

12. Bamboo leaves taste like crap and I feel sorry for panda bears.

13. Don't underestimate the value of good socks.

14. If you stare up at a blue sky long enough, and don't look down, you can imagine yourself almost anywhere.

15. Playing in the snow does not necessarily tire children out.

16. Food tastes better after you've earned it.

17. I'm out of shape.

18. It's absolutely unnecessary how long waisted long underwear are.

19. Itchy toque head remains a mystery to me.

20. I'm a quitter.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Tao of Keith

Of all the people and places, so far these are my favorites.

Dustin Wellman - The easiest friend I've ever made

Andrew Cooper - The absolute best person I know

Keith Welch - He should have his own religion... okay, philosophy maybe

As fate would have it, I live nowhere near any of them. They're my handpicked trio of the best and brightest, and I'd sell a vital organ to see them more often than I do. Dustin makes sure that the food I eat doesn't kill me. Andrew is a Behavioural Therapist for Autistic children, and Keith is a nurse, practicing in the Yukon but whose specialty is pediatrics. How's that for a lofty set of bros. No corporate robber-barons, no insurance men, no car salesmen or realtors...just amazing guys.

The notion struck me just this morning to get a note off to Keith, it had been awhile, and he quickly returned the goods and assured me that he's doing stellar. Next is a call to Coop, and then before the weekend is out I'll try to connect with Dustin. A three-pointer from way out, if we're allowing sports analogies...and what conversation with or about Keith Welch or Andrew Cooper is not perfectly suited for a sports analogy? Andrew once explained away our prying inquiries as to his love life with Blue Jays analogies that ended in a Pat Borders home plate collision (he held onto the ball), and Keith once called me Steve Yzerman in an official public relations bio. I love these men because they love me back.

I've learned a lot from these guys, but it seems in recent years that I've forgotten what might be their most important lesson...just be, and then have fun doing it. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in what I do, and I take a lot home with me...I'll admit to that, but what Dustin and Keith and Coop remind me, even just the occasional memory of them, is that life is too short and no one gets out alive. It's mostly mindfulness they teach, and in their absence I haven't been getting the lessons.

In a moment of strange distraction one morning, I was packing up camp gear and prepping our day as Led Zeppelin's "Tangerine" bounced about my head incessantly. Sharing what was my torture, I told a passing Keith that I couldn't stop humming the tune. Keith stopped dead, turned and with the most whimsical look on his face slipped this missive out of the widest of grins, "don't try," he said, and walked away. Two words, and I'd remember them for the rest of my life.

Don't try, he said. What is he Buddha?

Man, I miss those guys. Every one of them.

Someday When I Grow Up...

This is how I envision wasting away my years of home ownership, ferrying daughter to and from school and sports, and spending most of my weekends. Who says the fun ever needs to stop?

I revisited that video after having discovered it a few months back. It reminded me that I need exercise, the unfortunate problem is that I don't really like exercise. I like doing stuff, but I don't like exercising. I don't mind sweating and straining but it's gotta be for a good reason. Having a wiffleball stadium in your front yard is a good reason.

It inspired me to put a few balls (pardon the pun) in motion. Since I can't find very much exercise that I like...since I have no interest in rec. hockey, or summer slo-pitch, or men's league basketball, perhaps I could round up a bunch of friends and strangers alike, and get busy having our own version of

Parks & Wreckreation...exercise, competition, and fun for adolescent adults.

I'm going to start a Dodgeball League to waste away the winter.

I'm going to start a Wiffleball League to burn through the summer.

And I haven't figured out what to do with Spring and Fall yet, but a Bocce League is sounding awfully good. Also, Uncle Ian and I devised this incredible game a few years ago that involves remote control trucks, empty beer cans, pellet guns, and safety goggles if you're smart. I don't think it'd make for much exercise though.

Now I just need to pull it all together. I might need a partner or two in crime, perhaps a few lucky breaks, and we're off and sweating.

We all need more exercise. We all need more fun. We all need someone else to organize it for us. Done. Now who wants to play?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thought provoking roundhouse...sidekick...and karate chop...

"I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge or to be judged. I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. I am happy because I am growing daily and I am honestly not knowing where the limit lies."
- Bruce Lee

I never thought that I might find inspiration from Bruce Lee...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fornyfunga...a.k.a. California

When asked tonight where her orange came from Zoey was quick to respond Fornyfunga. I'd never heard of Fornyfunga before and catching Zoey little sideways smirk I quickly gathered that she meant California. She knows how to say California and so I know that she was just looking for a reaction, but she found one helluva good name for America's most populous state.

Fornyfunga...I like that. I think I'll be referring to California as Fornyfunga for the rest of my life. It's practically my favorite place.

Stormy skies...

Every day I stumble into new ways to lose faith in half of humanity, but those feelings are often spawned by some pretty heinous stuff. Lately, it's been a football program and the public's reaction to it that's got me considering a move to the wilds of Alaskan obscurity.

Now that Michigan may or may not be firing Rich Rodriguez, and now that no one seems to know who they might consider hiring, the entire universe has flipped off kilter and reasonable people are getting unreasonable...intelligent people are acting stupid...and little things like facts and truth and integrity are irrelevant.

I can't read the paper. I can't watch TV. I can't read the internets...

My head tells me that no one knows what's going on but the right people, and they know what they're doing...almost beyond criticism, they know what they're doing. That's not to say that it's right or wrong, but they're not stupid, and they have intricate plans and profound and intimate understanding of all of the necessary things. My heart tells me that this whole process hurts and I just want it to go away.

The sheer volume of fallacies and ignorance that's out there makes me want to crawl under the bed and hide. doesn't have to be a Michigan Man in pedigree, but it does in character. NO...we don't have to pick one particular philosophy or another, there is room to feel things out, mix and match, time to evaluate and blend ideologies etc...that's not a ridiculous notion. And does the football stuff matter as much as the leadership stuff? Maybe not. Mediocre coaches can win with great kids (see Lloyd). Michigan needs unity. It needs momentum. It needs amazing kids, and it needs some room to breathe and accomplish this stuff. I wish Michael Rosenberg would get struck by lightening.

Jim Harbaugh...if you don't want to come, fine.

Les Miles, if you don't want to come, that's fine too.

Remember though, Bo was not a man who tolerated this nonsense. You either want to be here or you don't. You get a chance, and then maybe you don't get another one because somebody, somewhere would slit throats to wear a headset in Michigan stadium...and that person is the one that Bo wanted.

I'm with Bo, and I've got my fingers crossed about that lightening.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hockey Night in Brights Grove...

This is Zoey's best Detroit Red Wings watching position. It looks perfectly appropriate doesn't it? Red blanket...octopus...look of bewilderment in her's not all that much different than the way I watch the Detroit Red Wings, except, you know, sans the red blanket and octopus. We always said that we wouldn't have the television on for all that much of Zo's time at home but it's really the only time that she shuts up. Don't misunderstand, we encourage Zo to talk endlessly, but she takes full advantage of our generosity. Talk, talk, talk, talk...We're excited about her vocabulary, and supportive of any new learning experience but sometimes it's just nice to listen to hockey and forget about parenting in lieu of watching Henrik Zetterberg score awesome goals.

As I type this Zoey is politely mixing English, Japanese and her own fun brand of purposeful jibberish to explain the universe to me. I just heard her use Buzz Lightyear, oshimai(the end), and suckababba all in the same carefully thought out sentence. Silence is golden, my friends...golden.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's a cold, cold winter when you're not winning

"Is it possible that the winter of our discontent can last forever? Well, sure, it's theoretically possible. But it would also take a major climatic shift for that to happen, because Michigan's place in the college football solar system is backed by a huge national audience, a ridiculously wealthy alumni base, the biggest stadium in the country, and an axis set by Yost when the universe was still young. Plus our helmets have wings."
- Brian @

Sure it's an old photo but we're desperately searching for an old feeling. Oh how desperate I am for Michigan Football to get back to feeling like Michigan Football, which means winning. We haven't done much of that since Zoey's graced the face of this good earth. I'd blame her but she doesn't deserve it, and she didn't really arrive until a full year after our suckage began. I'm going to blame the Taliban, I think. Them, and this ancient curse that I just made up on the spot to serve my pathetic needs.

This curse is all Colin's fault. Yep, my friend Colin is responsible for this. I can give you his address and phone number if you want.

I regretfully wrote a little something that compared him to the Philadelphia Philles pre-2008 World Series. Colin swore his fanhood to the Gods of Philly, and they go out and win a World Series. Then Colin moves West to attend the University of Oregon where the Ducks suddenly decide to get amazing. They're playing for a National Championship this week. They'll win it. In case you weren't paying attention the Phillies played in a second World Series in 2009, and then snatched up Roy Halladay this year and stole Cliff Lee too. Don't you see, Colin is the key to all of this. I don't know how to bust up whatever hoodoo curse he's working on us, but I've got to figure it out. Whatever luck I had falling out of my hoop he's somehow picked it up, dusted it off and jammed it straight up his own @$&. Somehow we need to get it back.

I might have to fly to Vancouver and burn a pair of his underwear on an altar made of duck feathers & Philly cheese steak. Whatever it takes. I just want Michigan football to find the warmth of Spring again. You know, the one that as summer passed and Autumn approached left you hoping you'd spend the holidays in Pasadena. I'll do whatever it takes to get that feeling back. I'll even offer my friend Colin up in a trade. He's a genuinely good guy...nice baby...some serious earning If that's what it takes, I'll do it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The First Live Links of 2011...

While I wait for the Gator Bowl to begin, peruse this nonsense and have yourself a decent lunch.

Now that's some cool thinking.

This, my friends, is hair.

We gotta get our hands on some of this stuff.

Pretty awesome little New Years Eve discovery.

I think I want to go camping in the desert this year.

This is somebody's fun but occasionally creepy uncle. Be thankful he's not yours.

I've often wondered how bad sleeve tattoos looked with hairy arms. This bad.

Some rooftop dinner, drinks, and a stellar view would be nice this year...but where?

This just might be the best t-shirt ever.

I just found my new winter boots.

Yes please. Thank you.

My personal philosophy for 2011.

This is what I've come to expect from most people.

This looks fun.

I want these.

I'd like to work here.

Happy Every Other Day...including this one

What if you just don't believe in new beginnings necessarily, at least not as much as you believe wholeheartedly in constant reinvention? Does the turning of the calendar on a new year even matter all that much? Not really. What if you believe in constantly peeling back the layers so that you can see what's there, then what significance do the changing digits of a calendar year mean? Nothing.

I hope 2011 is a stellar 365 days, but I hope every year that steals a little more time from me is stellar. No specific bucket list type thinking...just living, and doing that better than I did the day previous, if I can manage it. It's not a very flashy philosophy but this living thing is a marathon you'd best not burn all your energy on in one fell swoop, nor your hope, nor your loot, nor all that zest you've stockpiled. Gimme something cool to do on New Years and I'll come, but if I have to force my will on the flip of a calendar...nope. I'll just go to bed and attack the morning. Symbolically, I've decided to get up and do something this morning while the rest of the world sleeps in a hung over stupor. I might attack every day of 2011 in the same fashion. I'm more interested in getting somewhere now than I am in just surviving the trip.

Happy New Year everyone. With my most sincerely mustered and heartfelt urgings I hope you enjoy every day ten times more than the previous one. I hope you find luck...lots of it. I hope you do things, not just think things, and I hope, hope, hope, that when the clock reads 2012 you're awfully proud of 2011. If you could manage to do that without thinking about the calendar at all then you'll have a smile on your face and something to brag about. That's my hope for today and every other day. I want to be impressive, and if I wasn't yesterday than I'd like to start being so today. If you're at all interested in tackling that task together then let's...I'd love the company, the encouragement, and just one more reason to be proud of some one or some thing. I like doling out pride. It feels good. I like saying, "that guy's my friend," or "Yeah, she's cool. I like her." I like doing that. I like it when people smile, and say such a thing about me. That is what I think every day should be about. I'm gonna stop typing and go get some of that to go with my cereal.

Here's a link to start your year off right...because I like you, and if you're not busy overthinking it, that's really enough to tackle anything.