Monday, October 31, 2011

Even Fairies Need Adjusting Once in Awhile...

Zeds costume adjustment
Zed's ridiculously sweet homemade Tinkerbell part, the shoes.

There will be more pics of Zed's third Halloween on this planet to follow, but in the meantime know that our days of tricking her into wearing something ridiculous are over...maybe. This year it was Tinkerbell or bust. Daddy was hoping for Team Zissou but that may have to wait for another distant year. Of course, this ridiculous costume deal would have been nice also.

When Zoey was just 9 months old she dressed up as Ernest Hemingway...the Ketchum, Idaho Ernest. Then last year she was a battered and bruised Notre Dame cheerleader, and even won some serious praise in a local paper. This year...Tinkerbell. The thing that made it all much more than tolerable, however, was the fact that it was a homemade costume...and a stellar homemade costume thanks to Mummy, and the fact that she chose it...not her mean and conniving parents. Good for her.

There are more pictures to follow...I promise...and maybe a Halloween story or two. Right now, there's a sugar buzzed funster still awake in her room after Mom laid with her for nearly two hours. Happy Halloween everyone!

The Beginning of Me Week

Headed for California
A whole lot of "me" time...Utah mountains and me, 2002.

Sure today is in costumes, candy, scary crap all over the place, commercial boon for all things orange and spidery...but it's also the very beginning of "Me Week." That's right, Me Week, in which I take extra care in making sure that I'm happy and healthy. So...I eat good, I go to bed early, I watch less TV, I don't care about the games or the scores, I read more, I exercise, I play, I have fun, and I don't care what anyone thinks. Yup, this is it. Seven days of selfish, which is an entirely different thing from seven days of shellfish. Completely different.

I have the beginnings of a cold, so that might hinder my efforts a little, or it may be just the right time in light of those sniffles. I'm going to get a haircut. Take my time doing everything. Drink lots of water. Doodle and sketch a lot. Sit in the sun (if there's any sun), and listen to music. It's going to be a stellar day. All I need is a friend to meet up with randomly, and for no other reason than because I want to. Facebook, no email at night, no cell phone after work, no sitting in one spot on the couch all night...nope, none of that. Books, music, hanging out with Zed and June...good food, lots of sleep, long hot showers...

I used to soak up a whole lot of me activities, too much maybe...I used to get on buses that travelled across the country...I used to jump on any old airplane going any old place...I used to never miss a sporting event...I used to just sit in bookstores for hours. Now I'm too tired for all that, not physically, but mentally, I'm all too typically drained. So...goodbye to you. Hello Me Week, it's nice that you could stop by. It's been far too long since we last hung out (BTW...I know that hung is not correct but since it's my week, I'll use it if I want to).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween and Me

title young frankenstein

It's Devil's Night and we're watching the least frightening yet remotely Halloweenish movie we could find...Young Frankenstein. We're not much for scaring the pants off each other, and neither of us are prepared for a dark night of frightful imaginings so it's Mel Brooks. Who needs Jason or Freddy? Not me. I hate those films. I'll take Gene Wilder...and Teri Garr. Yes, I'll take a film full of Teri Garr circa 1974 anyday.

large young frankenstein blu-rayx2

Every year Halloween comes and goes, and every year, with the exception of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and the Fat Albert Halloween Special, I don't much care. Watching Zed get excited is about the pinnacle of the holiday for me. Oh, and the candy isn't such a bad deal either.

Tonight, we'll settle for Young Frankenstein and the candy. You know, just test it out...make sure it's okay for handing out to funsters tomorrow.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A View From the Cheap Seats...

Zed just did a flip on the uneven bars! Of course, Mom helped, but she flipped and giggled and then hopped away to the next best exciting thing. I'm kind of impressed from this high and distant vantage point (perfect for this Daddy in a gymnasium full of little squealing girls in tights), and cool as cucumbers considering this gymnastics business at this stage is mostly just tumbling and running away from coaches and parents. That was exciting.

I'm still nowhere near gymnastics Dad however. I like to watch. I like to sit high and take in all that cuteness from a safe distance. I'm not the ideal candidate for cute. I am, however, a great believer in cute appreciation, and that's what I choose to do every Saturday morning. There are plenty of Dads out there knee deep in cute, and good for them...good for ridiculous looking, awkward them. I just watched my daughter do a flip on the uneven bars with her Mom spotting and that was infinitely more sigh inducing than being right there in my own socked feet.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Man, I Miss This Guy...

Who's Your Daddy (Ian at Homecoming 2005)

Uncle Ian is moving home. I missed him. I think he'll be hanging out in my basement a lot of nights, maybe even most. I hope he brings his own bag of wine.

Good Day Sunshine...

I know that I've got it pretty good, and that I've found a pretty great place in my life when the weeks fly past...when I forget what day it is, and when I regularly swoon over people and places and situations. I do all of those, and I really can't believe that the week is over tomorrow.

Today was a brilliant day of intense, but brightly lit conversations and before it was over I got to visit with one of my favorite flawed people. I wish I could say her name, because I adore her so much. She deserves so much and gets so little, and she's always smiling...always...even when people do horrible, awful things to her...even when she finds herself doing awful things to herself. I see her and she's smiling...and I know that just showing up, just being someone who has a genuine concern and interest in her is huge. Smiles...always smiles. I'm not sure if they're for everyone, but some of them are for me, and I'll hoard every one of them! She's practically perfect, you know, if she wasn't so completely not.

Sometimes I can't even believe how good of a life I've got. It seems ridiculous. I get to sit in the sunshine and hang out with people who are hanging on to everything that's said...who are listening, really listening...and who are saying things, I mean really saying important things. There's not much nonsense.

When Philip Seymour Hoffman exclaims in Almost Famous that, "the only true currency we share in this bankrupt world are the moments when we're not cool," I always think about my every day. I get to be not cool every day, and you could never imagine what shedding that awful burden does for a guy...for anyone. If you think kids are all too eager for the chance to be cool, you should see how voraciously they consume opportunities to shed coolness and just be. It's awe inspiring.

Somehow I won the lottery without ever getting a dime out of the deal.

I Want Summer Back...


I like Fall, and I still want summer back. I get excited for Autumn and falling leaves and college football and real clothes again...but I want summer back. I didn't go to any outdoor shows...not one, not one single outdoor amphitheater hosted my giddy, excited behind this season...not one. There weren't enough campfires, and there wasn't one single tent. Where were all the markets and why weren't there more zoos? I want summer back.

I heard on the radio yesterday that Denver is expecting up to a foot of snow before the weekend. I want summer back.

The inaugural summer of Camp Zed was good, but next year will be better. We'll have more fun. We'll visit more people, go more places, tackle more ridiculous projects. I want summer back. I want to have parties in the back yard, and bust out the BBQ more. I want patio lights and sun freckles on the faces of my girls, and I want to trade in the reality of the day to day stuff for the smell of the beach, and sunscreen.

I want summer back, right now, please and thank you very much.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Geek Baggage and The Outlaw Trail

When I was a kid I was kinda sorta obsessed with the story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I mean when I was really young. I had read about them somewhere, and then I had seen the movie with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and before long I was obsessing over the legend of two American Robin Hood types robbing trains and banks across the West, beloved by the common people, nary an act of violence...only thievery. Of course as I grew older and learned more I discovered that a lot of that wasn't entirely accurate, but then neither was the story of their death. I spent the better part of riding my childhood out into adolescence, imagining that Butch Cassidy came home from Bolivia alive.

I remember reading an old National Geographic magazine from 1976 in which Robert Redford followed the so-called Outlaw Trail through Utah, exactly as Butch and Sundance certainly would have. In that story, Butch's then ancient sister recalled that in 1925 he returned home to Wyoming to visit friends and family, and eventually left for his new home, quiet and far removed from hi past, in the Pacific Northwest. I was even more smitten after that.

It means nothing except for the enthralling idea that someday Zoey is going to be equally obsessed with something. Who knows what, or why? For me, I was hopelessly drawn to a story that still draws me in to this day. For her...shrug...who knows what that will be. I'm excited for her geek moments.

Just tonight I posted a link to a new fictional film about Butch's last moments in South America. I was much too excited at the prospect of it's release to not thrust it out into the universe for all to see. Not expecting a response, I found myself smiling when my good friend, Ally, acknowledged the link with a grin inducing "goosebumps" comment. It made me smile wide. Sometimes being a geek is cool. There's an infinitely cool girl who with one word acknowledged and embraced my nine year old boy infatuation that's all growed up and still creaky with geek, and that says something about rising up to meet your geek. If it's cool enough for her, it's coole enough for anyone. Maybe someday Zo can find the moment when her best geek is met with cool approval, and she'll smile too, just as I am now. She'll need to find her very own Ally, I suppose, but maybe she'll manage that too.

Alright...who wants to run away with me to Wyoming and Utah first thing in the morning? We'll find guides, and rent horses, and pack 'em up like experts...we'll camp for days on end, and follow in Butch and Sundance's footsteps, just like Robert Redford did 35 years ago, and we'll talk to oldtimers with stories, and be creeped out by the fire, and laugh endlessly at each other. We'll sleep on the ground and make a real life Brady Bunch episode out of it. Who's with me? I'm only half joking. I really want to do that someday. I've been waiting since I was nine years old.

See...geek. But it all makes me smile so much...and whatever geek thing that Zed finds that makes her smile, I'm down for too. Embracing your inner geek is important, and nothing coolness can offer will ever match it. Geek out, I say...for all to see. If you don't love the Brian that loves stories about Butch, probably don't really love me. I come with geek baggage, and with any luck, my daughter will too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some links, just because...

There used to be a time when I thought that this was fun.

Whoa...someday, in my own home...someday.

Trouble taking pictures with your camera that costs as much as your first this.

Whoa...someday, in my own backyard...someday.

Third best idea ever, right behind Boxing Day and deodorant.

I think I really need one of these.

One of my new favorite friend Birdy and his son, Jace.

Kinda desperate for this t-shirt.

I would like to buy my wife these boots.

I want this black or balsa.

Can't get enough of this guy's artwork.

I would enjoy an evening in Dumbo very much right now.

I'd sell my eyelashes for a pair of these.

Now that's style.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Good Morning Zed

Zed Ryan Adams

This is what we woke up to this morning. Somehow our daughter morphed into Ryan Adams overnight, which is kinda weird. We heard rustling from Zo's room, and then heard that little voice we love hearing so much, and then we found this standing at the end of our bed. Good thing Mom had her phone handy or we'd have missed this golden opportunity to show you what kind of freak our daughter is.

When Things Need To Get Done...

note to kids

It's a strange way to get work done around the house but if it works for you...

June found this photo on a friend's Facebook page. She asked Beth if she could pass it on to me, and if I could post it here. She said yes so here you go. WHAM. Posted. You MUST read the explanation below the photo. I don't know how old Beth's children are but they are both tech saavy (what child isn't?) and funny. I mean, these kids are really funny. There are six siblings...that's right, I said six, and as you might imagine that's gotta be the perfect climate for developing a sense of humor.

Since only three of the kids "liked" the message, you can come to any number of conclusions...there are certainly a few funsters not old enough to be using Facebook, and then of course, not all of the kids may have seen the message, but certainly there's at least one who is still confused that Mom would leave such a message, and wondering how he/she might appropriately respond. That's the one that very likely won't get in trouble...ever.

It Takes Two When it Used to Take One...

Sleeping girl

Falling asleep with live bootlegs of Ryan Adams material from the past ten years. "Two" might be one of my favorite pieces of music in the last decade...ever, maybe. .

"It takes two when it used to take only one..." That used to be the case, until we became three. Then things got more complicated and less at the same time. As far as girls go, there are two that move me to pieces these days, when there used to be just one.

Tonight when I put Zo to bed, as we were laying there in the dark talking, she just stopped, rolled over and grabbed my face.

"Daddy, I missed you," she said so gently.

"You missed me," I responded. "When did you miss me?"

"I miss you when you go to work," she quietly said, stroking my face as it lay smushed against the pillow.

"It's not like the summer is it," I asked.

"No," she said, "you have to go to work."

"Yup," I quipped, "I do, but not in the summer. We'll get to go to Camp Zed every summer."

She continued to caress my stubbled cheeks. "Yep," she added, "we're gonna go to Camp Zed every summer, but right now you have to work and I miss you." THen she rolled over and asked me to rub her back. She said what she wanted to say.


Honest and heartfelt...and oh-so gently genuine. I miss her too, even when I'm with her.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Now I can maybe explain what I do...

I've always searched for a way to explain what it is that I do, because it's more than just what it seems on the surface. There's always been an enormous element of creativity to it, and this was what I used to explain it yesterday.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs, Wired, February, 1995

For the longest time I wasn't connecting the dots of the sum total of my experiences, or perspectives, and then I started applying the same principles of design and creativity to working with people, especially people who are struggling. I simply flip the theory around and apply it just the same...the better your creativity, the better your understanding of the human experience.

Oh Mickey You're So Fine...

Mickey Zedder

Despite looking absolutely paralyzing on Zed, those are Mummy's mouse ears. She bought them at Disneyland in Anaheim after the 2005 Rose Bowl. Zed occasionally likes to rock them which always stirs up the question, how old should your child be to really enjoy Disney? Most recently June's noticed the Disney Cruise commercials, and we're not opposed to the idea of a Disney vacation, as so many people seem to be, but the question lingers. How old should your funster be before dragging them off to see that big mouse?

A Return to Ourselves, and to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I spoke for four hours yesterday about the absolutely boundless power of compassion and understanding. I was so nervous that I didn't eat breakfast, and that I skipped lunch as well. I barely managed my coffee and water. I spoke for four hours about what it's like to sit in the alley with the child that has no home, about what it's like to sit next to the addict who has no hope, and what it's like to walk with someone who's running away from everything. I spoke for four hours about how easily we forget that we belong to one another. I spoke for four hours about the strangest of things, that you have to remind yourself that people aren't meant to be thrown away, nor are we individually entitled to do so. For four hours I reminded people that there is no them, but rather, there has only ever been us. I was nervous for no reason. I spoke both quietly and forcefully for four hours and then could have used more time. I didn't intend to make people cry, but they did. I didn't expect such attention and connection, but there was. I felt proud and strong and valued when it was done. I felt as though I'd somehow just found a tribe. It just struck me as strange that i had to talk for four hours to find them. I suppose life doesn't give you an audience very often.

I feel now that there are people who know me, and that might better understand what I'm doing...that it's nothing special, it's just an awareness of where I fit, and what I should hope the world looks like if I have any say. It was a good day and thought it was going to be a difficult one.

By midnight I had an email from a former teacher that I think I'll keep. He was proud of me, and despite being nearly blind now, he recognized my voice the minute I spoke. He thought to himself, I know that kid. That's Brian, and he settled in for the tour of my head and heart, and was not disappointed he urged. Again, I felt proud and strong and valued.

I spoke for four hours yesterday about things that I believe in, and I was able to remind others of what they'd only just forgotten, I imagine...that they believe in those things too. In the end, we all do. There is no them, there is only us, and why was I nervous about revealing that?

Now....back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pardon the Interruption...

This blog has been denied attention all week because of entire evenings spent preparing for 4 hours of presentations on Friday. That's right, I said 4 hours. Somehow between now and Friday morning at 9am I have to get articulate.

Pardon the interruption, please. Regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly after my nervous breakdown.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pancake Smile

Pancake smile

Sunday morning family breakfast. Pancake smile. I'm beginning to expect both every weekend.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bad start to a good day...

zedder home from msu

So State goes and stomps on my guts but I was okay 'cause I was with good friends. Dustin and Kelly are a comfy distraction from getting your arse kicked...and Jimmy too. Jimmy Whynot is a stellar excuse not to care what the score is. Zed had a good time...chasing dogs and bouncing between attentive adults. At day's end she was beat, just like the Wolverines. There's always next year.

The big day...and by big I mean so E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S-L-Y big


I don't hate Michigan State. I don't. We've lost three years in a row to Sparty, something that I've never known in my lifetime. It feels awful. It feels good that there's a legitimate rivalry, but bad that we're ending up on the short end of the stick of it lately. Of course, MIchigan football has just struggled through the most tumultuous three years of it's storied history, but that time comes for everyone, and a simple overtime loss kept us from bursting this green and white bubble. Today...I hope it all ends today. I don't hate Michigan State, but I sure hate losing to them.

Since I first stepped foot on campus in Ann Arbor we've lost only six times...1995, 1999, 2001, 2008, 2009, and 2010...only 31 times in over 100 years of punching each other in the face for an ugly trophy. Those kind of numbers suggest that it should feel awful losing to these Spartans of Michigan State. It does.

So I'm going to Dustin and Kelly's house, and surrounding myself with people I care about so that if things don't go so well I can be nursed back to rational thinking and coached off of the ledge, after all, my daughter needs a father. It sounds silly, but today means an awful lot to me. I can't even begin to imagine it going so horribly wrong that both the Wolverines AND the Tigers limp home defeated. Ugh, the notion would ruin a glorious autumn. Sometimes I wonder if I can even watch. Of course I can, but I've got a psychiatrist on speed dial.

I'm going to try to find some measure of balance today...try to achieve some kind of reasonable perspective, you know, not an eggs all in one basket kind of thing, but it going to be difficult. Zedder will help me cope, and June and Dusty and Kelly will be there to comfort and talk sense to me. Maybe my friend Jimmy will be there to swat me around if I'm fading. I should probably bring some paddles and a tractor battery with me, or one of those Pulp Fiction-esque adrenaline needles. maybe I could use a marker to x off the place directly above my heart right know, save some time. I should probably check my benefits to see what kind of support options I have if today doesn't go so well.

I'm not a religious man but God keep me safe today.


I should be sleeping. It's 1:30 in the morning, but I can't. I'm excited to watch Zoey and her Mom tumble around a gymnastics gym in the morning...and I'm excited to drink coffee and watch my day fade into something less challenging than it's used to...and I'm excited to visit my friend Dustin...and I'm beyond excited to watch Michigan and Michigan State manhandle each other with next to zero love lost between the two. There's also a potentially heart bursting Tigers game to let myself drown in. I suppose I'm still a little strung out from a day that began with oxy drug tests and Mom's holding knives up to their sons necks, and brightened with a truly humbling email, and then an incredible, moving conversation (how close they all are to that) with a girl that no one thought was ready to talk.

I feel lucky tonight, if not tired, and overwhelmingly privileged to have this life. To lie here beside a quietly snoring (oh so cutely) wife, with a baffling brain of an audacious little long and lean girl sleeping not more than fifteen feet away from me , in a house that love built, on a street no closer to home than where our hearts have guided us all these years without a mortgage. I feel lucky, but I'd rather feel asleep.

Goodnight bold and generous universe. Please take good care of everyone whose voices got stuck in my head today. I've done all that I can do today, and now it's your turn. I've punched my card and they're your children until the phones rings again.

Go go to sleep.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Like Baseball...

Vmart vs Rangers

Despite my best efforts to curb my sporting appetites I just can seem to quit baseball. I can skip entire Sundays. I miss most Laker games. I catch a few Knicks games a year, but that's it. I can't go an Autumn Saturday without Michigan football, but I don't need to catch every Red WIngs game...but baseball...I gotta get me some baseball. I grew up a Tigers fan, and melted into a Red Sox fan as my little league team demanded. I've tried to embrace both the Angels and Dodgers, and I swear if Theo Epstein ends up at the helm of the Chicago Cubs, I'll be a Cubs fan...but regardless of who I'm cheering for (or trying my best to cheer for) it's baseball that makes me weak in the knees. It's baseball that gets me jonesing in January. It's baseball I can't quite quit.

Tonight the Tigers try to take just one game of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park, and as much as I was desperate to watch it all unfold, a giant part of me waited for Zoey to ask me to put her to bed tonight and I would have missed it all. She didn't, so I've seen every pitch of this oh-so important Game #3, but if she had, I'd have donated as many innings as was necessary to hang out with her. She doesn't ask for her Daddy to put her to sleep too often anymore, and I thought that tonight she might. Nope.

I like baseball, but it doesn't matter much when a littel girl is growing up right in front of your eyes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thankful to be Canadian

There I times I don't even think twice about my nationality...times I pay almost no attention to it. Most times I don't even differentiate between myself and my friends in the States. Then I'm reminded of the differences reading something like this, and I'm oh-so thankful that I was born on this side of the St. Clair River. I don't worry about getting sick.

The previously linked article on onefineday shocked me into thankfulness. A family of four paying $1650 a month in health care premiums!? A jump that forced the family to opt for a cheaper plan that only cost a modest $1000 a month. I'd die. No wait. I wouldn't be able to afford to die.

I know enough about the US Health Care System to know that not every family is on the hook for that kind of cash. There are great health care plans via great employers, and certainly not every insurance bill is going to look that ugly, but I also know that I don't pay a dime deeper than what my taxes pull out of my pocket. We had a baby...didn't cost anything. I found myself in the hospital in another country...didn't cost me anything. I was hit by a car when I was a kid and spent what felt like half my young life in a bloody hospital bed that summer and fall...didn't cost anything.

$1000 a month in health care!? I'd need a second job and a therapist for the anxiety.

There are plenty of things that make me proud to be Canadian, but the fact that the health of my family isn't in the hands of insurance companies is near the top of the list. There's that, of course, and also the idea that the best university education in Canada will cost you the same as the worst, that we don't necessarily enjoy the right to bare arms, that public education has yet to decay and falter, that there are more than two political parties, that we are neither a militarized nation or crippled by the prison-industrial complex (yet), that we have an economy not entirely overextended, and that Justin Bieber is ours. Of course, we have our myriad of problems, but paying for childbirth or a broken leg isn't one of them (but Justin Bieber might be).

I love America. It's an incredible place, and there may not be another thing on planet earth that promises as much and can deliver, but I'm happy and thankful I live here, where freedom won't ever cost me my health.

My deal with the universe...


My deal with the universe on this Thanksgiving Day is that I'll name my second child Max if the Tigers and Max Scherzer can beat the Texas Rangers today. Of course, that's IF we have a second child, and that's only because everyone made such a big deal about me saying I'd name the child Scherzer. I suppose Max does sound a little better than Scherzer.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Night Links

While Michigan and Northwestern are punching each other out, and Justin Verlander and the Tigers are getting rained out, I went digging for distractions...

This is so totally my daughter.

Strangely amazing idea.

I want these.

Whoa!! Must have!

Best advice ever.

We could be friends.

Can I get a lifetime supply of this tasty goodness please?

Kinda awesome.

My new mantra.

Someday Zo and I are going storm chasing.

This will be my fence as soon as I talk the neighbors into it.

October's Project - Carroll Gardens Tile Subway Mural


It took until October before we had the heart to take down the Camp Zed banner in her room. It was a nice reminder of a nice summer. Now, the leaves the are falling, and Zed's walls are empty. When we asked her what she wanted on her walls she only said, "New York." So New York it is.

We're going to do our best to eek out a replica tile subway mural, something on her beloved F line, if we can. If it turns out fine, we just might make more. We might send one to our good Brooklyn friends who are now our good Ottawa friends and could probably use one. Although they're plenty happy to have more space, and excited at the prospect of getting back into a Canadian groove, Brooklyn must be terribly hard to shake loose. No more corner laundries. No more local markets. No more foodgasms every day of the week if they wanted one.

We're excited to try and reproduce a little piece of that funky little world our friends introduced to us. With a little luck it might look okay. Of course, it might look God awful too. Shrug. Worth a try.

Well, Lah-dee-frikkin-dah...


My daughter just parroted Chris Farley as we watched an old SNL skit. As June and I laughed out loud at Farley's brilliant character, Matt Foley, and his motivational speech in Phil Hartman's living room, we heard a laugh and an excited squeal, "rolling doobies!" Zoey giggled from the corner of the couch.

We both froze and looked at one another. Sure, it was just a silly line from a Chris Farley skit, and yeah, it's no big deal, but how on earth did she pick out that one line and repeat it. She had to have been cued by our laughter but yikes! Be careful what you laugh at or else your kid will be living in a van down by the river before you can say lah-dee-frikkin-dah.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Momentary Tsunami of Emotion

I'm not sure when I became such a soft pile of softness. I used to be an angry young man. I punched people in the face. I didn't back down from much. I felt bold and strong. Now I just mostly feel small and frightened. I feel humble and fairly feeble on occasion. Things make me nervous. I get worried. I lose sleep. I used to sleep just fine. I'm no disaster, but I might not be the guy you'd want in your corner when a fight breaks out. I'm the guy who needs talking down off the emotional ledge. When did that happen?

A lot happened this changes... financial changes...a new home...stresses...strains...and it's taken it's toll. I feel pretty meek at times, and I don't ever recall feeling meek. It's funny, because I get a lot of love and respect from some people in my life...there are people whose opinions mean a lot to me, and I feel about half worthy half the time. I feel as though they have this image of me that isn't accurate...that is anything but true. Sometimes I just flat out don't believe the nonsense that compliments feel like to me. That's bad isn't it?

It might be the way that I was raised, where the strong and dominant personality in the home was my mother. I still can't comprehend how she kept it together when it was always coming apart at the seams, but even now it's a woman's respect and admiration that I value most. That makes for some strange internal conflicts when you're a grown man. I don't have many really close and intimate male mentors or role models, and here I am at thirty-nine years old still desperate for one, or two, or six or maybe seven. My Mom was a shining example of determination and strength, but there were very few lessons in masculinity.

I very often feel less like a man and more like this smaller version of that same thing. I don't feel strong. I don't feel entirely together. I am happy to hide...happy to avoid confrontation. It's embarrassing. I'm tired of feeling small, and small is how I feel a lot of the time. I need to be convinced that I'm something other than what I feel like I am at times. I tell myself that I'm a good man but more often than not I feel like a good man who just happens to be very weak fairly frequently. I know that I'm stronger than I feel in my weakest moments, and tougher than I feel when I'm easing into peaceful, and more manly than most of the men I know. I'm down with those ideas, but sometimes I have to retreat to a quiet place to remind myself. Occasionally I get a message from a friend, or a kind post on another friend's tumblr, or sometimes a comment is left here that lifts me up, but not enough, not when you're feeling fragile. I tell myself that real men feel fragile sometimes.

In the end this is what I think...

This is why I work so hard to make things different for other people...why I feel such a commitment to making young men whole again. Not another young man will feel the way that I feel or have felt, I tell myself. Not if I can help it. Not another young man will grow up with no idea of what it takes to be a man, or of how this whole man thing works. Not another young man will grow up and be desperate for the kinds of answers that I've sought out my entire life. They won't feel as weak and desperate for steering as I've felt...not on my watch, not while I'm able to look a young man in the face and convince him that he's everything he's supposed to be...that he's perfect, even when he is obviously and naturally flawed. I might not feel all that strong all that often but I'll be pained to the end of my days to watch another young man feel anything but strong.

There...sorry, that's my Friday night rant in six paragraphs or less. I don't feel quite so bad now. Thanks great hopeful, reassuring void (and thanks Woo for such kind words).

Pig Tails and the American League Championship Series

Learning her alphabet

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Diapers, Daughters, and Dads

zoey's baby... aka, daddy

Today my daughter dressed me up, slapped a diaper on my head, and generally abused me in the sweetest, most smile inspiring way imaginable...and I let her. Of course I let her. She's my daughter. I found myself squeezed into her pajama pants, pretending to cry like a baby, with previously mentioned diaper set firmly on my head. I'd be ashamed it it wasn't so fun. It's a nice reminder of what you need to be happy. It's probably not what you think you need. I never thought that a diaper on my head could fill some sort of invisible happiness void, but it does.

zoey's baby... aka, daddy

You want so desperately for her to find joy in every day, and also in you, so much so that when she does it doesn't much matter where you're at, or what you're doing. She's smiling and laughing, and you're happy...embarrassingly happy. You're so happy that you'll cram yourself into a toddlers bed, pretend to be a baby, and allow your child to turn you into a giant idiot. A happy giant idiot...with a diaper on his head.

A First Time For Everything...

I don't think I've ever written a single sentence post on this blog, but I have to say simply that if I don't get to see this film I'll die.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Eloquence of Elmo

Absolutely, without shame, and beyond excited to see this film. I've been a quiet Sesame Street freak since, well, childhood. It's not the puppets that have always pulled me in, it was the spirit...the soul of the thing. This movie sets both on a pedestal for you to oogle up at with awe and affection. I did. It's the kind of work I want to be doing...not puppeteering, that's, inspiring, moving, understanding something that others don't. It's difficult to describe. All I know is I want what Kevin Clash has.

One Year Ago...

This is the cutest thing on the planet earth... that includes bear cubs, the dimples just above my bum on my lower back, and Derek Jeter's smile.

The last two were June's idea. I'm sticking with the bear cubs.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Someday They Grow Up

There's a little voice in the house again. After 24 hours of quiet there are giggles and squeals, and confusing conversations. Tonight dad and daughter colored on the crapper for what felt like an hour. Then we started making a construction paper chain (that was outlandishly thrilling to Zed), and nearly forgot about dinner altogether. It was just what I needed. Now I can hear Zed and her Mom playing in the bedroom and I can get choked up if I think about it too much. Those two girls are, at times, inseparable.

Three years ago I had no comprehension how a child could crack your heart open like a lobster tail. They do. There's no explaining it. There was nothing before her and it feels as though there might be nothing after she goes. Our neighbor, Joe, has worked hard to raise his two daughters all by himself, and this past September he watched them both walk out the door for college. He did his best to hide his emotions while talking to June the week that they left, and I was happy that it wasn't me he had stumbled into. My mind would have flashed forward sixteen years and then the neighborhood would have witnessed two men crying like babies in their front yards. It would have been ugly.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Miss You When You're Gone

I miss her every time she's gone...for an afternoon, for a night, for a few hours. I miss her a lot. We do what we need to do, and what we know is right, for her, for us, but I miss her when she goes. I wonder how there are parents who don't miss their kids? Who send them away to camp all summer long. Who spend every night in the garage. Who don't light up with excitement at just the sight of their child. Zoey lights me up like a Rockefeller Center Christmas every time I see her face...even when I hear her voice.

Tonight I miss her. She's staying at Baachan and Granddad's. Sunday night sleepovers help to give her Grandma a chance to keep her own life in order rather than just paying attention to ours, and it gives her Baachan and Granddad a chance to soak her up across more than just a short visit. It gives us a chance to do this or that without a toddler, but in the end I always miss her.

She's safe, and I'm sure enjoying being coddled and loved at Baachan's house...but there was nobody to tuck in tonight and that can leave a Dad feeling a little empty...this Dad at least.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull - May 1st and 2nd, 2010 from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

"Oh, Zoey exclaimed, "This one is beautiful."

Zed likes volcanos...a lot. Tornados too. And storms...storms of all kinds, but mostly the kind with lots of thunder and lightening. That's right, thunder and lightening. Imagine. This kid is like a Christmas gift.