Sunday, May 27, 2012

Future Photo Editor...

Zed - Photographer
Snapping away with a camera that cost more than her entire possessions. That's a trusting Mom

Who wants a cool job?  We do...did...always have.  Now we hope that Zed feels the same someday.  Sure we'll be happy with any old version of our Zed, but the notion of a happy, healthy, creative, and mildly ambitious Zo makes me smile so wide my mouth could manage five sets of wisdom teeth.  She's got good inspiration.

Her Dad is awfully into his work, and is proud of it's undeniable coolness.  Do you know that I can go a month without seeing a supervisor...that I govern my time, my resources, my decisions?  It sometimes feels as though I could get away with a cape and tights, but I'll settle for just telling educators that they're wrong.  It's a dream job with dream feedback, and maybe the best working conditions on the planet earth.

Zo's Mom has a real job, and then one of those cool "fake jobs" too.  People pay her to take photos, and although she's recently taken a bit of a sabbatical from making gobs of loot snapping gobs of photos, it's a pretty stellar side gig for a creative lady, and the woman Zoey will certainly use to measure womanhood for a long, long time.

Zed's Uncle Ian is a pilot for God's Sake...a genuine skim the top of the trees and land on water bush pilot.  That's almost ridiculous in it's coolness.  In fact it is ridiculous in it's coolness.  It's almost offensive that's how cool it is.

Zo's Aunt Netta works for the world's largest sailing company, North Sails, which is cool as cucumbers to begin with, but perhaps even cooler is her more passionate work with an elite level swim club in West Vancouver.  When water is the key ingredient to your career you've kinda made some good choices.

Zo's Uncle B is an orthopedic technologist...what the #$%& does an orthopedic technologist do?  Tear apart your knee and you'll find out.  It's one of those jobs that no one ever tells you about and then when you discover (usually the hard way) you think, "whoa, this is cool."  Yeah it is.

Zo's Aunt Header lectures in front of college classrooms.  Yeah, so the nurse that is someday going to put that catheter in you, yeah, she got graded by Zoey's Aunt.

That's just one generation of influence.  There's yet another whole generation of grandparents steering her. She's surrounded with creative, adventurous, meaningful, unique careers, and it'll be a miracle if she decides to be an accountant.  We'd prefer that she stay away from bush pilot as well.

Early Morning Rain...

Morning table top

Rain...Michael entire internet full of tiny little adventures to escape away to someday soon...when I'm up and walking upright like the homo-sapien that I am.

As soon as school is over, I'm running away for a breath of fresh air.  As dirtbag as I can manage.  A Patagonia catalogue worth of adventure jammed into 10 or so days.

I thought of going to Chattanooga, TN, and bouldering, biking, paddling, and sweating to my heart's content.  Staying here, and wandering endlessly through the Shenandoah Valley like some Grey Ghost.

Then I thought about dangling from rocks beside the bluest of blue, here.

Of all the ideas, those two have become the most sturdy.  If it's Tennessee, then I'm going solo.  If it's the Bruce Peninsula then I can go and wear myself out a good six or seven days ahead of June and Zo, and then we can spend the next three or four days snapping pics of Zed that will be worthy of a this one...

Patagonia kids catalogue

I want a Patagonia kid so bad it hurts my heart.

However it plays out I've been told by my loving wife to go away and don't come back until I'm equal parts rested and appropriately worn out in the best kind of way.  I can follow those instructions.  As I slowly heal from all of this nonsense I think it's time to get back to the post-Michigan, skin scraped from fingertips, tent sleeping, bus riding, fully re-charged and fresh air fiend, Brian.  That guy would make for a ridiculously fun Dad, and all-around general story cultivator.  Now I just need the summer, and a real knee.  For now, I've got rain and Michael Kiwanuka.  Good enough.

Happy Sunday folks....for you. Enjoy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stickers in Her Knickers

Stickers in her knickers!

Zed got a package from Aunt Netta today, and promptly went nuts with her underwear, of course.  Stickers are always better in your underwear, or didn't you know that?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If You Haven't Yet...


If you haven't seen Being Elmo yet, then get busy watching it.  It's on Netflix now.  Find it.  You won't regret it.  It's the stuff that childhood dreams are made of.  To hell with playing Major League Baseball....working for Sesame Street, that's the ticket.

A Whisper in a Quiet Room is All it Takes...

When the din of the world has faded, and we're quiet, even isolated from the madness outside, it doesn't take very much to stir deep feelings, and inspire profound thoughts.  When the rest of the world fades away all you need is a whisper to hear your own voice...your real voice.

Over the past week I have been frustrated, angry, in quiet tears and then more audible ones, disappointed, hopeful, disillusioned, and at least a half dozen other places worthy of some sort of acknowledgement.  I've felt low and so needed to pull myself back up...felt cursed, or unfairly afflicted, when in reality there is no fairness in the deal.  It just is what it is.  I had surgery on my knee, a knee and a leg that's been a stressful, disappointing part of my life since that August evening a billion years ago when everything changed, and I would be forever reminded just what drinking and driving does...just how fast your life can flip...just how long you can have a reminder of something that means nothing to a million other people.

When I was struck by that speeding car, on the side of that empty road, it set in motion a unique set of made this past week, and every other one I've ever struggled through before, a foregone conclusion.  I was going to have inevitable painful moments across the span of my life. That's just how it was going to be.  I immediately thought of an old friend that I recently reconnected with, Sonya, and I thought of our good friend Heather, and of June's Uncle Lee, or a dozen other people that I'm lucky enough to know, who ring in each New Year knowing that this might be a difficult one for them physically.  They struggle with this, or with that, and unlike my own painful path across these decades, they have no drunken fool to blame, just the universe.  That's a tough target.

It's hard to explain to someone who has only struggled in isolated unrelated moments in their life. Frustration plays only a bit part, hopelessness doesn't build on top of hopelessness when everything is unrelated, or at least it piles up differently.  It's difficult to type, and it makes me upset to say it out loud, but this time I felt myself come close, not to quitting, but to feeling as though I was losing.  Typing that through wet eyes sounds crazy but not to Sonya, or Heather, or Lee, I'm certain. It's hard to juggle those tears with positivity when they strike you.  This time it felt as though no matter what I did, or do, or regardless of how the future unfolds...I'll lose.  It tore me apart.  It left me in tears at my wife's bulging belly after an awful evening of painful, exhausting, nausea inducing exercises, and seemingly no progress. ..just more pain. Less than an inch or two away from my tears was our newest daughter, probably wondering what all the wet fuss was about.  I wasn't quitting, but it felt an awful lot like everything else had quit on me.  That's not a fun conclusion.  In that moment it felt like just us, with a footnote of mostly me.

I've tried hard not to allow jealousy to set in, or to make comparisons (because there aren't any) to anyone, and I've worked just as hard at finding perspective as I have at stretching.  I've endured the odd flippant comment.  I've tried to remind myself over and over that there are other people on the planet who do "give a #$%," despite the universe stacking up a lot of evidence that in reality, everyone just goes home to their comfiest chair and forgets about everything but what matters most to them.  It's funny, because I've shaped that thing I'll do for most of the waking moments of my life to be the exact opposite of that.  I've tried to keep Sonya, and Heather, and Lee firmly in mind through all of this, and I'm confident that I've done a good job of putting it all in the proper perspective, but you can't know another person's pain, and you can't even remotely comprehend another person's struggle, and everyone is allowed, as Pat Monihan once cooed, "a time we all deserve to lose our minds."

I believe strongly that this fifteenth broken moment standing on one leg makes me better, has made me a better person, better at what I choose to do, better at understanding, at comprehending, at supporting, and feeling.  I don't know what rung of what ladder I occupy in terms of being worthy of anything, but I know that there are increasingly fewer and fewer people who I suspect can muster the amount of earthly compassion and perspective that I'm absorbing each day.  There are plenty, make no mistake, but I never imagined coming to a point in my life where "feeling" became overwhelmingly my most developed and recognizable characteristic.  I never suspected that I might find this much perspective in pain and suffering, especially because as far as such notions go, I've been blessed to embrace them at only regular intervals, not perpetually.

After thirty years all I really know is that I feel things very deeply, very completely...that there's no mute button on the voices in my head...but I'm also encouraged that in a quiet room, such as this, all I need to do is whisper to hear myself.

Losing is a long way off.

For June, who has watched me crumble and rebuild so many times it's unfair, but who always leaves me to my own voices.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Make Good Art...

A brilliant bit of advice from Neil Gaiman as he addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012.  It applies to everything, to all fields, to every life...make good art.  That's good advice.  Write it down.  

First Official Beach Day...

First day on the beach

It was far too nice not to go to the beach...and even though Dad is at home on the couch, leg up, ice on, and a little (or a lot) bummed, the beach is a quick walk away, and it would have been criminal not to have gone.  So Zed and Mom went.

Have fun girls.  I'll be waiting for stories...and more photos.

One Creative Couch

Trying to take pictures

While Daddy blogs and fiddles with some uploaded illustrations (and rides out an Oxycodone dose of knee relief) Zed snaps pics and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that creativity is fostered in the most dismissive and mundane of moments.

When Zo wanted to snap a few pics from the safety of the sofa Mom's $1200 camera and lens weren't as off-limits as you might imagine them to be.  Turns out Zed has a bit of a photographer's eye on her, but more importantly she was feeling pretty empowered, and pretty enthusiastic about something...Mummy's trust for one.

I suppose if you want a creative kid, you need to give them creative space...even still, that's one trusting Mom.

New Header, New Blog, and a Reminder About Something Important

We're going to have a baby. That means that this will no longer be a Zoey-centric house, and blog.  We're going to need a new blog, with a new name, in addition to a new baby name, and a new blog address.  We're going to need to create a new look, I suppose...a new place for all of this nonsense to reside.

There are ideas bouncing around...names, baby and blog...and there are some rough sketches, and more formally finished, almost blog ready artwork, and there is procrastination.  Last night my friend Jay reminded me that people actually read this thing, and that some of this creativity really needs to see the light of day, not just the blogosphere.  So as we creep towards baby #2, and we stumble into a new blog address, and name, and we stash all of this away in some trusted archive, I'll need to remind myself that some of this stupidity deserves to not just sit and rot on Some of it needs to rot in more comfy places, like book shelves and the affection of friends and strangers alike.

In less than three months The Zoey Blog will cease to exist, replaced, instead with...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

These Bare Feet Were Made For Walking...

Back on my feet, and walking around like I was a full-on champeen, well, a limping champion.  All fixed up (supposedly) and ready to take on the next five year window before I'm half crippled up again...but for now, I'm going crutchless, drugless, and iceless.  What a stellar way to start the weekend.

In honor of my miraculous

Listen to this or stop talking to me.

And this is especially for the coolest people I know.  Don't listen to it unless you're ready to assume the mantel of coolness.

This should make you desperate for more...lots more.

My newest second favorite obsession are these guys...and, of course, this.

Listen to this or else.

And it's nice to keep it simple once in awhile.

Folk-punk troubadours are pretty good.

Always like me some Lambchop and I don't know why.

Because anyone that can cover this song deserves to be linked.

That's about all for now.  Go enjoy your weekend with all this schweet schweet music drifting about in your head.  You can always thank me later with embarrassing acts of kindness.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Instant Tears-in-Your-Eyes Video

Kerry Wood threw his last strike today and then walked off of the mound...retired...his way.  Everything went as he had imagined, except for his son surprising him when he got to the dugout.  I triple dog dare you to watch this and not get a little teary. Happy retirement sir.  You were a beauty.

The Deed is Done...


Surgery like a Champ...home with no meds necessary...weight bearing...eating...AND the LA Kings win, the Miami Heat lose, and aside from that awful Tigers loss, it's been a good day.

No I just have to figure out why they gave me 50 Oxycodone?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do It To Me One More Time...

Knee scope and fixer-upper tomorrow I very likely won't be typing a damn thing.  Of course, there will be stuff to type about...there always is.  Zed will be cute, or tackle something new.  I will most certainly stumble into some sort of revelation. The Detroit Tigers might actually get their crap together.  Etc...regular etc...All I know is that by 1pm tomorrow I'll be getting some extra good anesthetic administered to me and so there'll be all kinds of secrets getting told in that operating room right before I crash out with a dopey smile on my face.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Born to Ride...or Scoot...or Whatever


She's been the living room.  She can turn now.  I mean, she can turn left now, in addition to the endless rights she was getting so frustrated making.  She's fairly fearless now on her scooter, and it's a dozen or so notches above cute.

She's never had a proper bike.  She first had something that looked like a bike, only with no pedals so that she could just push herself along on two wheels and get used to balancing.  Then Grandad and Baachan got her a used tricycle, and then a new tricycle of sorts...a real beauty...and she liked that plenty, but now she's a scooter girl.  Born to ride, or so it seems, and there's just no stopping her.  She'll need another visit to Carroll Park in Brooklyn to show all the little scooter wizards there just how far she's come from her old trick of dumping her ride so that she can chase them on foot.

All you can say now is get out of her way!  There's a scooter comin'!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Mother's Day 2012

It's a modest Mother's Day here.  Part one today with June and Bachaan...and Part two tomorrow with Grandma sliding back over...but the sun is shining and the sky is blue, and June is going to try to get some semblance of a tan on her legs.

母の日おめでとう !

Happy Mother's Day

June kissing Zo KC

It takes awhile to get used to motherhood, when you're a father.  It's not our thing, you know.  No matter how much care we matter how much time or energy or investment we matter what kind of role we play in the lives of our children, we're just not Mom.  There's a deeply buried biological root system between mother and child that regardless of whatever is occurring above the surface can't change what's happening below.  There's a reason children wake up in the middle of the night and cry for Mom, and why soldiers beg for their mothers, or why the kids call home and ask for Mum.  I'll let the scientists study the unique dynamics of the phenomena, and I'll just sit in awe and wonder of it.  It's the closest thing we have to magic, and no one knows how magic works...or they shouldn't.

Just sit back and watch, and be thankful you live in a world where it's possible. It's out one common denominator. We have Mom's. It's the one thing that connects us all. So even if you aren't the best at celebrating the day, and even if you're far away from your own Mom, you can do your best to fill her up with pride and appreciation by remembering everything that she ever hoped for you, and being more...every day, not just today. She wanted you to be happy, and healthy, and free from pain and sorrow and hardship. She wanted it to be sunny for you, every clouds, no rain, no snow, just sun. She wanted to be proud of you and sleep with a smile at night just thinking about your life. She wanted to be able to not think about you in long, comforting stretches of confidence. Every day is Mother's Day for her, but you better have bought a card.

Happy Mother's Day're giving your Mom a pretty good gift every day by being the Mom that you've become.  It's something to watch.

Happy Mother's Day Mom...I get to see you amost every day and although that's very likely a curse for you it feels awfully nice to be me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Subtle Art of Texting...

Gymnastics texts

This is the text exchange between June and I this morning.  She had messaged earlier that Zoey's gym suit didn't look like it was fitting her very well...there was a lot of tugging at the front and rear, and it was pretty funny she thought.  That was all fun and fine information, but the messaging took a downhill turn a few minutes later after my simple inquiry if the gym suit was still bothering her.

We need to keep all these exchanges and compile them in a book.  They can be ridiculous.  Stuff that will make our daughter blush someday.

Under The Bridge...

Bridge Zed

When I was a teenager, any sentence beginning, "Under the Bridge..." got me thinking about a Red Hot Chili Peppers record, now I think about fry trucks and playgrounds and giant lake and ocean freighters drifting past.  To be perfectly honest, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still cross my mind every time too, but they're quickly overwhelmed by ice cream, green grass, and watching Zoey marvel up at the giant twin bridges spanning across the St. Clair River to Michigan.  It might be that I'm getting older, or it might be that when I was younger I was mostly ambivalent.  Either way, you can get the smell of french fries out of your nose for hours afterward, and it's never a problem humming Red Hot Chili Peppers songs deep into the night...never.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Me Too Mummy. Not So Fast Kid.

Mommy daughter bellies 1

If Mummy does it, Zo has to do it. So it was inevitable that she was going to stick something under her shirt and be pregnant just like Mummy.

  Zed: "Mummy look...I'm gonna poop out a baby too!" 

Well Zed, it's not quite like that, but...whatever makes sense to you, fine.

I Just Want You in My Head...

I can't seem to get enough of these two girls. I gobble them up like sustenance, and it's embarrassing how much I want to see them. I want to put them in a box lined with newspaper and bring them home with me. These videos were shot at a Tower Records appearance in Dublin, Ireland that I, naturally, wish I was there for, but of course wasn't.


Do you have a band that you crush on unabashedly...not that you're necessarily infatuated with, or that you love more than all ten of your fingers, but just a simple little crush? Like you can't help yourself from selfishly ingesting their every little endeavor? Yeah, that's Tegan and Sara for me.


I waited endlessly for their last release, Get Along, and the corresponding documentary...and at Record Store Day I was desperate for the release of Get Along on 180 gram white vinyl...loser.

Don't be ashamed. Don't feel embarrassed, or shy away from your geekness. Embrace the loser that you can occasionally be. Nurture the loser in all of us. The crushing nerd we all can be is probably our most honest and vulnerable selves...prop that sappy crap up and fly your flag. Losers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your dignity. Tegan and Sara turn me into a fourteen year old, and I like it.

My latest obsession...

Some things are just inexplicably this.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Aged Enlightenment via Bob Sugar, and Echo & The Bunnymen

Jesus H. Jaggar, Cameron Crowe must have the coolest stories on the planet.  I go looking for all of the music from the film "We Bought a Zoo, and I find Crowe telling another ridiculous story that floors me.  Can you imagine living the life he has?  It's crazy.

A few years ago I adopted Crowe's philosophy on using new music to score a film.  He believes, very fervently, that there's SO much powerful, amazing music out there that's already been made, that's sometimes even very old, that no one ever hears.  He's convinced that the third song on the B side of some obscure or random fourth LP from this band or that one is an incredible song and NEEDS to be heard.  So he includes it in his soundtrack.  Brilliant.  I've worked hard to constantly remind myself that no one likes the fresh-on-the-scene smart dude any more than the been-there-heard-that why not be the have-you-ever-heard-the-third-song-on-the-B-side-of-insert album name guy? People like that guy.  Mostly because he doesn't claim to have heard the song first, and in most cases other people can nod in agreement with him and even enlighten him to other music he should immediately listen to.

Foe example...I don't listen to near enough Echo & The Bunnymen...not near enough, and I should have learned my lesson after Jack Black berates a customer in High Fidelity, but nope, I didn't.  Then it takes Crowe and the We Bought a Zoo" soundtrack to remind me.  Damn, those guys are good.  Of course they are.

So is Cat Stevens and "Don't Be Shy," or Wilco doing, "Airline to Heaven."  So is Bob Dylan and "Buckets of Rain."  Sometimes we just need a genius to remind us.

Thank you Mr. Crowe.  I just want one story like any one of Crowe's thousands. Just one.

Do Books Help You Grow Up?

where-the-wild-things-are 2

I liked this article in the New York Times. I liked how it squeaked in the idea that children's literature should challenge and introduce them to new things, and usher them towards growing up...and I liked that it asked where Max, from Where the Wild Things Are would be now.  My guess is that he's living in Brooklyn, a semi-angry Mets fan, probably divorced and eating alone a lot.

I'm going to be thinking all day about the notion that children that read are introduced to the practice on the laps of their parents.  If you want a reader, you create one.  Remember Kathleen Kelly's line in You've Got Mail?

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does. "

The day has just begun and now I can't wait to bring home some new books and to sit down with Zed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails...and Bath Time With Precocious Little Girls

Snails and bathtime 1

Who says it's just boys who can like snails.  Zo loves snails...loves them enough that there's no way we were having bath time tonight without her new friend.

Snails and Bathtime 2

Of course, Zo's got that sugar and spice, and everything nice thing down pat's just that she likes snails, and so what do you do?  The girl likes snails.

Snails and Bathtime 3

Right now all I can hear are giggles emanating from the the bathroom, and a little girl splashing around in her tub with a snail she had just made friends with while playing outside no less than twenty minutes ago. the laughter is deep and loud and unbridled, and I wonder why we never invited a snail in for bath time before?

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Word of Advice...Write This Down

Photo 103

Zed: "Getting into trouble is SO not awesome!"

She was neither in trouble, or coached to say that. She's just awesome, and awesome knows awesome I guess.  It's good advice regardless of it's origin or the circumstances under which it was uttered...well, sang at the top of her lungs.  Same thing.

Daddy's Got a Brand New Bag...err, Radio

I'm SO totally going to own this boom box.  It's been years upon years since I've owned a ghetto blaster like this and it's about time that I remedy that.

Please tell me that you too owned a piece of hardware like this.  I remember working all summer to buy myself a blaster that was bigger than our coffee table.  For the brief time it took before someone went bigger, I was the king of the neighborhood.  There was a time when your blaster was social currency.

It's time for that again.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunny Sunday Links...

St. Patrick

I might buy this t-shirt just to distract people from asking questions about my leg.

Just discovered this awesome site.  So, so cool.  To think about the lame things that I used to build...

Dunno how many times I can say it, but man oh man, I love me some Wright Thompson.

Thought provoking.

So, now I kinda want to go to Hong Kong.

How many people are in space right now?

I'd like to start living this way with our family.

I always wondered about this.

Zed might be a little too young to truly dig this, but yours might not be.

Someone help me find an island so I can do this.

Jesus H. Valverde...who thinks this is funny?  It's kind of horrifying.

I could probably manage this.  Could you?

Bahahaha....there's no way that this is accurate.  Ever consider how much of what we "think" we know comes from far-removed professionals sitting behind desks at government agencies and universities and doling out ridiculously ineffective surveys?  Survey's people...surveys.  I respectfully question the validity of this.

The ten things we've learned from Adam Yauch.

My friend Mel is one of the funniest women I know...of course, I don't know Amy Poehler.

Amazing post...amazing dude.

I'm kind of a big, giant dog fan whose had to hold his affections in check for the better part of a decade.  As much of a dog fan as I am, I'm also occasionally practical too, but this makes me want a dog SO bad. (Thanks to Ally Woo for dropping this photo in my lap via All Things Woo)

My God, this is good.

Embrace your complexity and look good doing it.  No problem. It's easy according to Tavi Gevinson, just be Stevie Nicks.  I'd sell a foot if Zoey could grow up to be this cool.  BTW...this is the profile of a turd who criticized Tavi's work over at TED.

Cool story.

The New York Knicks haven't won a playoff game since April 29th, 2001.  It's true.  You can look it up.  That's a decade folks...and I wonder why I beat myself up for not being the fan that I used to be?  It's hard being a Knicks fan.  Ever since the Lakers sold my affections down the road I feel anchorless in a frustrating NBA.  What I wouldn't give to have 1994 back...or 1985, that was a pretty important year for me.

The World Through Three Year Old Eyes

Daddy Zoey Lorax

Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" gave Zoey and us plenty of opportunity to suss out how she sees the world around her.  Seuss' astonishingly premonitory book about sapping the earth's resources for our selfish selves was appropriate reading in 1971 when it was first published (yeah, that's right...1971...incredible) and is even more apt now.  Any bright child, or parent for that matter, will be eased effortlessly into a discussion about the environment, or greed, or action, and I suppose it's up to you to either respond or remain silent.  Zoey asked some insightful little questions after she saw the film with her Mom, and a few more after reading the book with her Dad.  Not surprisingly, she understood much of the book's premise. I'm sure she missed a lot, but she got more than you'd imagine a three year old might (as yours very likely would too) and asked the corresponding questions. Can you think of many better ways of introducing that sort of thing to your toddler?

We don't live green, not by any means, and we aren't bent on saving the planet with our everyday actions, but we should be, at least a little more than what we are.  Funny how Dr. Seuss and a three year old girl can remind you of that.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close...Finding Definition as a Dad

sunshine book reading
If you're a Dad then you should dive right in to Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. You don't have to. I'm not the boss of you, or anyone for that matter. After twelve pages I'm swooning over the young protagonist, Oskar's, affection for his father. It's thought provoking, and affecting, so much so that it catches you off guard. It's the literary equivalent of one of those soldiers coming home to surprise their children videos that get passed around via social media. You'll set the book down just to process it and think about what you've just read. Like...

  Being with him made my brain quiet. I didn't have to invent a thing.

 Maybe I'm a sucker for that stuff...or maybe I've tripped on it because I've never quite found that kind of connection with any kind of role model or mentor...or maybe it's just legitimately the sweetest Father-Son thing ever written...maybe. It's enough to inspire me to ask all of the fathers that I know if their children could say something of that sort about them? If they can't, then why not? If they can, then what did you embody or embrace to achieve such a genuinely beautiful thing?

 If you haven't read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and if you want to feel fatherhood on an entirely different level, maybe you should grab a copy. Go on, the sun's shining, the grass can be cut tomorrow, the weeds pulled another bright, shining day. It'll take only twelve pages to make you swoon, I swear. I would hope that you can find the time for twelve pages, six flips of recycled paper. They're twelve pages that could change your life...six flips that will make you think a little harder than you were before.

 I don't ever want to be too busy for twelve pages that could change my life.  As far as finding some definition of what a Dad is, I'll take the first twelve pages of Safran Foer's brilliant little book.

Taking It Like a Man...

Chris McCosky at the Detroit News just wrote the best article I've ever read.  In light of Junior Seau's death McCosky was moved to say something...anything...but few, including him, I'd guess, expected him to empty his heart out onto newsprint.  The number of lives he'll surely reach in print, and via the web, might astound him, not because so many people might read his opinions...they do that every week...but because all of those people will now know that he has suffered through a clinical depression diagnosis for over twenty years.  He even briefly considered suicide.  That's not your every day article in the well perused sports section of a daily in a major US media market.  That's not your every day admission, and that's not the kind of thing that anyone expects...and that's a problem.

There is a giant, almost ubiquitous notion that prevails in our Western world, perhaps around the entire world, that overwhelms education, and fact, all rational thinking. It contradicts logic and reason, and it's regularly ruining good people's lives.  It's a misunderstanding of basic humanity, of masculinity, and of communication and honesty.  It's what inhibits people's sexuality.  It plants the seeds of inadequacy.  It's what inspires bullying and encourages bigotry.  It's given us, without apology, the male myth.  It makes talking about your problems and often times, being who you really are, almost impossible.  It destroys families.  It kills men.  Oh, it kills women too, but I am a man, and I'm talking about the toll I see it take on sons, brothers, husbands, and friends.  I can look in the mirror and see the toll that takes on me. I am a man, but it wants to tell me otherwise.

It was this same omnipresent notion that made me so desperate for daughters.  It's, tragically, what made me sigh with relief when we heard that our soon-to-be second child was a girl.  It's tragic because no one should think that way, and because something so ridiculous shouldn't be so insipid and carry such an influence.  I just didn't know if I had the strength to fight it.  I didn't know how I would combat the messages and the images and the skewed opportunities.  I didn't want my definition of "man" to contradict with society's and then watch society's watch my son slip over to the dark side...and society's version of "man" most certainly has a dark side.  I didn't know if I could fight that.  It's sad.  I've said it aloud in presentations, on stages, and in front of hundreds of people with an ear tuned into every word that you are saying, and it's undoubtedly been a sad revelation,  I've watched tears swell in the eyes of mostly the women watching.  No one should think such a thing, but I did.  But it was the women who teared up, not the men.  That's how insidious  the notion is.

I'd venture to say that it's a complicated recipe of at least a dozen issues.  Depression is a poorly understood, often misdiagnosed, deadly disease, but it doesn't exist in isolation.  I'll take the criticism that might come with saying that it's more than that.  It's a gender issue as well.  For me, and a million other men, even for Junior Seau and Dave Duerson and Clint Malarchuk, it's about the male myth and the power of that myth.  Sports makes you a man.  Strength makes you a man.  No tears, No talking. No hurt. No help.  No way out save with a fight.  It's bullshit.  It's not true.  It's the boldest of lies we perpetuate...and it's the most insipid because we don't even realize that we're doing it.  We're doing it every Saturday in the Fall.  Every Friday night under those lights.  Every hockey night in Canada...every time a young boy chooses to listen to his coach but not his teacher.  Every time we put men on pedestals and women in the crowd.  Each time that we stereotype sexuality, and condemn ambiguity.  We perpetuate this exhaustive notion that real men are something that the rest of us are aspiring to.

I'll say it out loud and then get busy backing it up in the real world.  Somehow we have to address the awesome power of this male myth that is making us feel less than...that is impossible to define and yet so easily referenced.  Somehow we need to talk to boys about being men.  Somehow we have to convince men that what they've been being isn't necessarily what they've been told it is.  We need to take masculinity back and we need to move forward with a new notion of what it takes to be a man.  It might be that the enterprise has a short life span...that it begins and ends with chromosomes and then the rest is up to us to define individually, and uniquely.  What we need to do is find the sunshine through the clouds, to poke holes in the shadows that hide our best versions of being born a boy.  What Chris McCoskey wrote about was depression, and it was oh-so important, and oh-so timely and flat out incredible...maybe one of the best things that I've ever read, but what I'm writing about precedes even his well laid out ideas about what we come to expect from someone suffering.  It's impossible to be anything...better, healthy, happy...if you don't know who you are to begin with.

For the first time in my life I think I've just stumbled into something I have to do something about.  I might need some help, but I think it's time to talk about all of those things that we aren't, and eventually all of those things that we are and should be.  Depression will still be depression, but maybe we won't have to prop it up so securely with the dangerously false ideas that we do now, and maybe it doesn't need any better of an anchor than what it already has.

I am a man, and that is just a word, just a collection of chromosomes, and everything after that is mine, including the definition.

Nice article Chris.  Thanks so much for the inspiration to forget where I was this morning and just type what I was feeling.  It felt good.  I think about my friends, the parents of boys...boys who will be men...and I wonder what I can do to help dismantle the myth.  I think that you just started something that I'll be hard pressed to finish, but I'll try.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Make Some Noise if You're With Me...

original A super young Adam Yauch and Mike D in lower Manhattan

 There's a little girl dancing in our bedroom this morning to "Make Some Noise" by the Beastie Boys. She won't let me turn the volume down, or play anything else. It's kind of a nice little tribute to the Brooklyn's Adam "MCA" Yauch, who passed away this week at age 47.

 Zo has no historical context to place these beats in, or the fellas overly-simplistic but always some-kind-of-awesome lyrics, and still here she is jumping around in front of the mirror this morning getting her first lesson in Beastie goodness.

 My first lesson in Beastie goodness came in 1986 with "License to Ill" and ended up defining a big part of high school. Now, twenty five years later my daughter is discovering the reason why so many of us became Beastie brethren. She hasn't stopped moving for 40 minutes.  I'm gonna take some time today to teach her about the coolest white kids ever - Ad Rock, MCA, and Mike D - that's if I can get her to stop singing "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn," long enough.  She butchers the words but she's got the beat down cold.

Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon...RIP Adam Yauch.  You were a giant.

Now watch this and sigh.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why Did The Horse Go Down The Stairs...

Zo reading to Maximus

She wanted to bring her horse downstairs...after watching "Rapunzel" she had re-named him Maximus, and she just had to have him bad that the tears came in streams.  Mom said, "No," and I couldn't blame her.  She didn't want to drag that rocking horse downstairs into the living room, not for a whole ten minutes of pre-bath entertainment...but the tears came, and they were tsunami-like.  It was late in the day, and Zo can't handle a crisis very well after 7pm.  Suddenly, and quite strangely, I saw a moment that we could use...annoying people call them "teachable moments," and without hesitation I pounced.

"Zoey, come here please," I said from the bedroom. "If you can give me four good reasons why your horse needs to go downstairs I'll bring him down.  You can't just cry about Mummy's decision.  Tell us why you want him downstairs and then maybe we can do it if your reasons are good enough."

So we counted reasons...and they were flimsy, but with her four fingers up, and her four good reasons, I thought it was a pretty good excuse to haul that horse downstairs...just for the lesson in communication.  Her reasons?

1. Because I want to play with him very badly.  Good enough reason for anyone.

2. Because I was going to feed him from my garbage pail  Odd, but who am I to judge his palate.

3. Because I was going to read him some of my books.  Sounds like a good idea, even if you can't read.

4. Because I was going to teach him to jump on the couch.  Well... bad idea, but I like your style kid.

Okay Zo...Maximus can go downstairs.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to drag a heavy rocking horse downstairs, while on crutches, and while wincing like it was your job?  Trust's hard.  But the first thing Zo did...She fed her horse from her garbage pail.  Then she grabbed a book and sat down to read to him...and then, well, we nipped that jumping on the couch thing before it even happened, but the point is that she was good to her word.

In the end...happy girl...a lesson on communicating...a lesson on reasoning, and a painful lesson for Daddy...Don't try to carry rocking horses down stairs while on crutches. If there ever was a teachable moment, that was it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reading With Grandma...

Grandma Zoey reading

Grandma and Zoey are reading...and it eases my mind.  It relaxes me.  Grandma seems patient and loving.  Zoey is undeniably happy.

"What shape is that Zoey? Grandma asks.

"It's an octagon Grandma."

This is something awesome to come home to.  There's a reason this little girl is so smart...and it's called Grandma.

We've been lucky enough to have nearly two years of Grandma spending every wee day with her Granddaughter. The opportunity existed to pay someone we love to help us raise this little girl, and so we struck at it. Most people don't get so lucky. You can see it in Zoey's her intelligence and her affection and almost every part of her life. She is drenched in love, absolute love, all day and then well into the night every night. That makes a difference. It really does. We know how lucky we are.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Skipping Stones... you have daughters?  I triple dog dare you not to get a little emotional listening to Eddie Vedder's new solo song, complete with cameo by his daughter, Olivia.  It's a benefit track for the "Every Mother Counts" CD.  Other artists featured on the album include Beck, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band and Alanis Morissette, as well as U2 members Bono and The Edge, all of whom contributed previously unreleased material. The disc will be available at Starbucks locations in the U.S. and Canada from May 1 – May 29.

I think Eddie and Olivia Vedder just gave a million Dads the wedding dance song that they'll share with their daughters.

And yes, I'm a sucker for this crap.