Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Ain't Orange County but...


So far the prevailing sentiment is, "so, California kicks this place's ass," which is no way to start a vacation, but then neither is staying awake for 32 hours, or catching a cold, or having to shovel your way out of your driveway to even get here. None of those options sound like the proper way to start off a holiday, but you manage.

We've bounced from one crappy hotel, to an okay condo, to what looks to be a great condo, thanks to our super Cooper BFF, Heather, back home, who hooked us up, and the temps have been cool, but the sun is out and there isn't an ounce of snow to be found, so, good enough.

Fr the life of us we can't understand why people love it here. We can easily see why people like it, but love it, nope. It's striking us that our style is remarkably less tourist, and significantly more laid back and significantly more laid back and local...we've both been talking San Clemente, and it's just not fair to compare that to this...but we do.

So far Zed has been her usual traveling self...amazing, and Mags has been good, if not a little inconsistent with her sleep and demeanour...happy nonetheless, and easy peasy. We're so spoiled you should punch us right in the face. 

So...cold weather tomorrow, which means indoor goodness...maybe the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa...maybe some shopping...maybe some fleece buying and coffee slurping. Throw in a lacrosse game, and maybe some book store lingering...decent day.

Did I mention that this ain't Orange County?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Update From America's Weiner

After a hellacious snowstorm that derailed almost all of our plans, and a back bending test of will and desperation on Thursday morning, shovelling two and three foot drifts out of our 30 foot driveway just to get free of our snowy tomb, we finally left for Florida.  The original plan was to drive to Atlanta, stay overnight, visit the Aquarium, and knock off a few more miles on Friday afternoon or evening. Instead we drove straight through...and now I am knackered for all business save sleeping, feeling nauseous, and being a bit wobbly on my feet. I didn't know that it was possible to get sea sick from driving, but I did.

So we're hunkered down in a crappy hotel, waiting to hear from Uncle B and Aunt Header, Reece, Ave, and Beezer, and considering upgrading to beachfront digs...gotta make that marathon drive worth it...and hoping to shake these cobwebs ASAP.

Dunno why we did this, other than blue skies and warm weather. We had no expectations of Florida, and will surely regret not going to Quebec City, but Daddy was in severe need of sand between his toes, and mindless sunshine. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sometimes I Give So Much That It Hurts...

Surprise Xmas gift for Meredith's Dad

If you're a Chicago White Sox fan, and you lend me your apartment for the better part of a week (the kindest of gestures I'll have you know) and Christmas rolls around, then you can probably count on me mailing you a gift that looks like this.

I hope you enjoy this very special blue and white something that, of course, you can never wear in your neighborhood.  Thanks for the apartment loan good sir.  Merry Christmas Byers Family.

There's a First Time For Everything...and a Last

Flying Fairy - Aug 2012
-- Flying fairies from a summer too long gone. Zoey and Dad, August 2012 --

Tonight I found myself watching "You've Got Mail," and allowed myself the surprise of tears as Meg Ryan closed the door on her shop for the last time, imagining her and her mother twirling and dancing about the store. For the first time in the many times I've watched that film, my heart broke.  I thought of Zoey, and how we spent the evening watching Peter Pan and her flying about the house in my arms. She was thrilled beyond belief.  I was contemplative.  I don't want this part to end.  Of course, everything ends, and of course the film flitters onward to a happy ending, but in real life they're never happy endings. They always end with one person so desperately not wanting them to.  She has no idea. How could she?  She's four, well, very nearly four.  It will be me desperately clinging to Peter Pan and the memory of her flying around the living room in my arms. It is me who hugs her too much, and kisses her too much, and it is most definitely me who imagines us in that very last moment before the door closes.  It's only me whose eyes moisten.

Tonight, like every night, I read to her from Peter Pan, and she squeezed her eyes tight, imagined mermaids, and quickly drifted off to sleep.  She eased my temper after a day of angry outbursts re: my very selfish collection of poor misfortunes, and one lost pencil.  She rubbed my cheek and told me that everything was going to be alright, which felt good, but wasn't true.  Someday there'll be an ending and there'll be me desperately not wanting one.

F#%&ing Meg Ryan.

If It Wasn't For Bad Luck...

Weather Map

The idea was to drive away from grey skies and find some blue.  We weren't looking for tropical breezes, just blue skies and warmer weather...that's it.  We were going to drive. "Keep it simple," we thought.

Mother suck.  Now we're snowed in and by the looks of Facebook and text messages nearly everyone we know is enjoying family and friends, or sunshine...and we're eating craft dinner and  watching the Weather Channel.

Normally we'd be stoked for snow...but not when all you want to do is drive away.  It's going to be a restless night, and no one in this house wants to get anywhere near me.  I'm a bit of a bear right now...unhappy beyond measure with this sucky turn of events.  We couldn't have managed NYC, or Quebec and Ottawa. We certainly can't manage south.  I'd give just about anything to have a different, unique place to wake up and parent and spend a few days living a life that is nothing like the one that's waiting for me in a little over a week.

Collective finger crossing please.  I need this, in a way where there aren't enough letter e's on the planet to insert between the n and d.

More Morcheeba...More


It's difficult to feel bad with Skye Edwards cooing in your ear, through new Bose headphones.  Oh, believe me, I'm trying, but I was pleasantly wooed back toward the light of day and hope by the latest Morcheeba record, of which I was painfully ignorant of since it's release some two years ago.  I don't get embarrassed much but this one leaves me red in the face.

How'd I miss this?

I had known that the band was re-forming after Skye's seven year absence, but then I faltered in following up.  Of course there would be a new album. They didn't get back together to play dodge ball. What was I thinking?  Even stranger, what was I thinking on this empty day full of waiting that inspired  me to go looking for the new record?


It's an easy Pirate Bay it.  You can pay me back with prayers, wishes, crossed fingers, and voodoo curses that the weather gets better and we can get on the road and find some blue skies soon.  Until then, I'll listen to Skye Edwards doing her damnedest to convince me that it's not the end of the world.

When "Leaving" Turns into "Waiting"...

All of Ohio and half of Michigan is under a blizzard warning.  We're not going anywhere today.  I could use a little perspective because I'm just not handling the news very well.  How 'bout some photos?

Zoey had herself a little Domo for protection back when she was an infant...a Kansas City Domo, to be specific, that we named Rarrrr.  Now Maggie gets her own Domo, a book store buy that is yet nameless.

Zoey is thus far infatuated with her little sister.  She's eager to see her...eager to talk to her, and kiss her...eager to play with her.  Christmas morning was no different.  Despite the distraction of dozens of present under the tree Zo could still find time to check in on her sister, and steer her through her first Christmas on the planet.

Mags first Christmas and she was into it a little more than we might have imagined.  She was paying attention.  She latched onto a few of the gifts that we bought for her.  She looked cute as hell, which was mostly her job on this first Christmas.

Santa left Zo a bell, and with memories of "The Polar Express" still fresh in her mind, she freaked. With memories of "The Grinch..." our hearts swelled three sizes that day.

The happiest girl alive, trumping even her sister.  Mags only manages to repress a smile if she's got a burp in her throat, a load in her pants, or eyes full of sleep...other than that...smiles, all day.

Christmas, Here and Gone...

IMG_5941 --- An excited and emotional Christmas morning Zed hugs her happy Dad before she tackles the tree.

There are probably dozens of superlatives that I could chuck out that might best describe the past 48 hours but for some reason I can't begin to muster them. It's late, perhaps that's it? All I really know is that aside from the absence of siblings, and the short amount of time around grandparents, this was a merry little Christmas...Maggie's first.

From now on our troubles will be out of sight...that's what the song says, and this year I believe it. Here I am barely out of the shadow of Christmas and I still can't find the words. I'll just say this. I've never drifted away on love in all of my life and these days it feels as though I might never touch the ground again.

So as I drift upwards and away I'll just say Merry Christmas, and hope that yours was as inspiring as mine. We're leaving early in the will be a long overdue vacation...and a much needed rest...but we'll post photos and we'll blog as much as might be tolerable. It's amazing that you don't get sick of us.

Much, much much that my heart aches just to think about how much you make our lives infinitely more livable.

Merry Christmas was a good one.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day Links...

First, you shouldn't even be reading this blog. It's Christmas Day...go find some friends.  Second, I love you all the same, and so I give you links. 'Cause, you know, nothing says love like live links. Here you go.  Merry Christmas and all that.

All I want for Christmas...

There are some genuinely moving photos in this Pete Souza light box on President Obama.  My favorites are of the President and his wife and daughters.

OMG...funniest thing in just about forever.

Nice girls are hard to find.

Good read.  Frightening politics.


Some days this could be the kind of mantra that gets me through.

I gotta tell you, my friend Ally's Tumblr site is like a daily vacation to awesomeland for me.  Not necessarily because of the content, but because of it's context...she's young, and smart, and funny, and wide open to inspiration.

This Nicholas Jackson print is amazing.

The only number that needs remembering.

Goonies Never Say Die, and that's worth remembering.

Absolutely it is.


I'm not so sure if I've ever wanted to see a movie as bad as I want to see this one.

Holy seems easy enough but odds are I'd bungle it.

Kinda brilliant.

Must have.

Somehow I'm getting a print of this bugger.

See these t-shirts? Well, I'm buying about twelve of them over the holidays 'cause they're the best thing since Jesus grabbed a skateboard.  Seriously.

My God...I could watch Corinne Bailey Rae all day long...all day.

Flat out awesome.

I'd sell someone else's foot for this toy...or this one. I've waited my entire life...okay, since I was  nine years old, for one of these. That's a long time!

Check out The Chairman.  Fella oozes it...oozes it.

OMG...I want this.

Best advice I can muster this Christmas Eve.  Take care of yourselves everyone.  Mucho love and giant heaping piles of sweet affection.  If I could kiss you from here above this keyboard I would.  Be good.


The house is quiet. June and Maggie have just stumbled back into the bedroom, but there's no sign of waking from Zoey. She was up late last night, maybe 10:30pm before she fell asleep, so I'm sure she's tired. Still, what kind of kid sleeps away Christmas morning? The best kind, I'll tell you that. There's snow on the ground, only the second batch this year, and more timely than ever. I slept on a bed with no sheets last night because I was too tired to make it, and because June was too busy to talk some sense into a dreary, but delighted, Dad. It felt like I was in college. This is the second Christmas in this house...and Maggie's first ever. She can't stop talking about it this morning, and when she laid between us she locked eyes with her bleary eyed father and smiled...and smiled, and smiled. My God we're lucky people. What kind of people on this planet end up as absolutely blessed as we are? The best kind , I try to tell myself. My own little Christmas gift to myself. The best kind.

Merry Christmas to Me...

It's 2am on Christmas morning and it's just struck me that I know the best people on the planet... Nadine Harrison, working no harder on Christmas Eve as she does the rest of the a Boys & Girls Club, making the most of every second she spends on this planet. Andrew Cooper, who spends all day, and every day, working with children whose world is shaded just a different color than yours or mine, autistic kids, and helping ease their family's minds. Keith Welch, a nurse who could have been anything...anything at all. The Cowgers, and all of their humble awesomeness. The Cooper Family, each and every one, from Jane and Bob, all the way to Jack and Mace...brilliant and beautiful, all of them. Dustin and Kelly...practically perfect. Mary Ann, and Robin...Tracy, and Joey, and John, Beth and Holly. Serree and The Bergquists and the Feldmans...amazing, really, just amazing. I'm lucky enough to know the kind of people that are and that will make giant dents in this world...who will make changes...who already have. The kind of people whose absence you feel, I mean really feel. In a dream life I win a lottery, start up my own Boys & Girls Club and staff it with this kind of brilliance...with this kind of compassion and experience. In the meantime I just have to hold on to the understanding that I've somehow surrounded myself with the best people on the planet...the kind that you only wish that you knew when things got awful. I don't know what I did to deserve these people, but it must have been something good. Merry Christmas everyone...I love you beyond measure. Far, far beyond it.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Zed & Mags Instagram B&W

We struggle to find similarities, but then we drag out old photos and there are some.

The cheeks...I forgot there was ever a time when Zed had such adorable cheeks.

The eyes are a different color, but both blue.

The hair...Zo had almost none. Mags is quickly losing hers.

The chin, minus the cleft.

The nose can sometimes look similar...and then sometimes not.

They're sisters, but you might have a hard time telling as they grow.  Zo, blond and gregarious.  Mags, brunette, and well, we just don't know yet, but happy, she'll most certainly be happy. Zoey was a happy baby too but nothing like Maggie...that's like saying that since the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions are both in the NFL...well, you get the analogy.  Maggie is irrepressibly happy.  Zo was irrepressibly curious and good-natured...willing.  Mags is a fun storm.

In the end they'll share clothes, toys, a room perhaps, and last names, but I don't think they'll be even remotely alike, you know, aside from that perfect thing.

Bedtime's Never Been So Interesting

Bath x 4

It starts with bath time...usually just Zo, but on occasion Maggles too.  When they're both thoroughly drenched in unbearable cuteness, the bedtime clock starts ticking. It usually goes like this lately...

June goes through one door, and I go through another.  Divide and conquer, we say, and it seems to work well...although better for Dad.  I can knock Zo out in fifteen's a simple of recipe of affection and quiet attention, a chapter book she can close her eyes and imagine to, and a hand on her side, or her hip, or back...a presence, I guess.  A deeper voice probably doesn't hurt me none either.  June, on the other hand, usually falls asleep entertaining a much more simple but exhausting process.  The end result is I emerge first, awake and eager for some quiet.  Then June stumbles out bleary eyed and dreary about an hour later.

How can something so remarkably cute as these two girls scrub-a-dub-dubbing lead to such controlled chaos?  Bedtime with come no one told us about bedtime with two?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Love You Forever

Someone woke up and wanted to read "I'll Love You Forever" this morning.  By the time she turned the last page, and Mom finished reading Zoey was deep in tears.

"What's wrong Zo?" asked Mummy

"That book is sad," she blubbered, "I don't like that book"

"What part is sad," asked June.

Zoey wouldn't even answer her.  She did point, however, between giant sobs.  It was the photo of the boy, turned man, with his Mom sitting on his lap.

She cried so hard she had to bury her head.

Sweet girl.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Boats to Build...

Cardboard Pirate Ship 1

I dunno what typically draws me toward making ridiculous things out of cardboard...sometimes creativity...sometimes stress, I suppose...but tonight was the perfect storm of both.  It's been a horrible week before Christmas. As anyone will attest, if the wheels are going to fall off people's lives at any point during the year, it's not a bad bet to take Christmas.  I've been spread too thin, by ignorant people, and found disappointment and small heartaches around every other corner, it seems, so tonight there were boats to build. Not the usual, slap it together boat, but rather a pirate ship, or the humble beginnings of one, and as I concentrated on cutting out and taping seems etc...much of it receded into the background.  It's gonna be a beautiful boat once the mast is set, and the paper mache laid on painted.  It's going to look awesome, and I'm going to hang it, from string, amidst clouds, in Zoey's room...when it's done.

I need a break from the realities of other peoples lives, and I'd give about a billion dollars if this boat could just float away to someplace warm and remind me that the world is still a beautiful place.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Geek...

Christmas Zed

Downloaded Justin Bieber's Christmas record for Zed...redesigned the blog for maximum Christmas Die Hard on the might be hard to be a bigger Christmas geek than Zoey this year, but I'm sure gonna try.

Christmas' past never looked this cute.

The hat...the glasses..the pajamas...oh my.  This kid can make me melt. She can make me listen to Justin Bieber.  Jesus H. Kringle I'm knackered.  Done for...but it's the sweetest demise ever.

J.M. Barrie and

Peter Pan book

Each night has found either June or myself reading chapters from J.M. Barrie's original version of Peter Pan, and it's just about the most fun a person can have with paper, ink and a nightlight...a properly placed accent helps too.  Tonight, in the opening paragraph of Chapter 5, Barrie chucks out the word "pluperfect
" as though a swooning, humble twenty-first century fan might just grasp it as quickly as any common noun.  Surely nineteenth century readers had a better grasp on what are now the more obscure words in the English language but even still...pluperfect?  Brilliant.  My heart fluttered as Zoey began to snore, and I read another ten minutes despite her soft sleeping sighs.  Pluperfect. Awesome.
In the half darkness of Zoey's crowded room (a toy cleansing is in order this week) I closed the book, and lingered.  Lucky.  In love, and nearly incapable of imagining how I ever got here.  Before her I was a man who had thought he knew something about love and commitment...about sacrifice and giving.  Bam...pluperfect.  I was wrong.

Here, on the very edge of another Christmas, this one dawning on a house full of four beating hearts rather than three, or even two, I'm reminded by the most mundane, and random of things, as to just how blessed I am.  Beyond blessed.  In the strictest latin plus quam perfectum, my life is past much more than perfect.  I enjoyed a birthday that passed with my most favorite of people.  I've spent two days in receipt of the kindest and most thought provoking sentiments following a rant that I only intended to quiet the awful noise.  I've slept warmly beside a girl I found friendship with first, then family.  I gently worked my way through a weekend of rest and muted excitement...just nine more days 'til Christmas and you can fell the soft thrill.  I have a job and an all-consuming purpose within it.  I am alive and still capable of incomprehensible passion and curiosity.  I laugh loudly, too loudly, and have earned and shaped a common sense that just ten years ago I might have thought impossible...tempered, thankfully, with a near ridiculous, often times obscenely unfettered sense of humor.  Everything is funny...or nearly everything.  I am comfortable and not yet fat.  My daughters smile at me, and my mind is still capable of outrageous adventure.

Plus quam perfectum...more than perfect.  Pluperfect.

Sunday Salt Dough & Apathy

Making Salt Dough Ornaments

Making your own salt dough Christmas ornaments is clearly an activity embraced by:

A/ Super creative people

B/ Really Sickening, overly Christmasy people

C/ People who don't want to buy real ornaments

D/ Bored Dads

I thought Zoey would want to help, and she did, for about four minutes.  The rest was up to me.

Dad and Daughter Ornament Making

It's an easy deal...4 cups of all-purpose flour...1 cup of table salt...and a cup and a half of water.  Mix it up, roll it out...cut in shapes...bake at 325 degrees...done.  Easy peasy.  Even half-creative Dads can manage it.  The only hard part is keeping your child engaged throughout the whole process, especially when there's an Uncle Ian and a Meredith available to play with in the next room.  That's tough competition for any oven.

Baking Christmas Ornaments 

We made a humble batch of stars and christmas trees and hearts, even some letter Z's, but the cool stuff happened shortly after Zed resigned her commission as baker assistant and left for good.  

We kind of stumbled into Zoey's hand design, but we're over the moon with the accident.  Of course, Maggie is too small to manage the same this year, but now we can officially start a collection of Christmas hand ornaments.  We'll make them every year.  We'll crowd our tree with our growing daughters hands, and we'll weep with the sweetness of it some eighteen years from now.  What a simple idea turned absolutely brilliant by a bored Dad on a quiet Sunday.  

I think we'll most definitely be baking some more...and I think we'd like to collect some from friends.  Anyone up for an ornament exchange?  What a nice collection..all your friends kids contributing to your tree.  Wait, you could even make a salt dough wreath out of hand prints!  Whoa...just how boring was this Sunday?  Wow. 

Happy Birthday Dad...

Zed - Sting Game 3

All I wanted on my birthday was a quietly awesome night. It came easy when a friend offered Zed and I hockey tickets, and got even easier when Zed fell head over feet for five thousand fans and all the popcorn she could stuff in her wide smiling mouth. The horns were fun. The mascot was fun. The little boys running up and down the aisles were fun. Even the hockey was fun. Not surprisingly, nothing was as fun as the booming music and the chance to perform in front of hundreds of unsuspecting hockey fans. Zoey might have been a bigger hit than the game.

  Zed - Sting Game 4

It's been a hundred years since I gave a crap about hockey. When I was a kid I was pretty wrapped up in it, and then I turned seventeen or so and that was it. I didn't care. My playing days were done, and my caring days were waning, and now, a few decades later, I'm just barely hanging on. Still, a night with my daughter just quietly...or not so quietly...soaking up some ancient action, the kind that once moved me. Zed was a near perfect date. Our only issue came during a second period fight in which Zo freaked out in disgust and anger. "Stop it," she yelled. "Nooooooooo," she screamed, and Daddy did his best to comfort her. "Why do they do that Daddy," she begged with wet eyes. "I dunno Zo," I answered, "it doesn't make much sense does it?" She nodded and poured her confusion into her popcorn. It made me happy, all that indignation. She may be just a smidgen shy of four years old, but she's light years ahead of some when it comes to comprehension. I spent the rest of the night smiling at the peaceful little dancing warrior sitting beside me...well, sometimes sitting...mostly dancing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Never...Not Ever.

I've written this twenty times and it never falls from my fingers the way I'd like it to, with as much sincerity, or with the proper amount of distance and perspective. Maybe it's an impossible task since we all saw what happened in Connecticut on Friday with such different lenses...some as parents, some as prosecutors, and some as victims, reminded all over again of their own trauma. Some people weren't sure which lenses to apply to a scene so harrowing and horrible that few imaginations could process the images and ideas that we were bombarded with. How do you insert something so horribly earthly into words that you hope might reach ethereal heights? How do you articulate that? Maybe you never harness that kind of trauma with mere words or ideas, but I wanted to try. When I get upset, or confused, or frightened I write, and this would require writing, but I couldn't. There have been few moments when I could not find words. What did I even want to say? I wasn't even sure. I just knew that my head and heart were bursting.

Still, nothing.

Tragedy...horror...the impossible healing...hatred...and nowhere room for hope. And that is where my heart breaks, again perhaps, as it did with those families who have suffered. Where is hope now that logic and decency and reason has died along with so many? I say it must be there in the has to be...there is no other choice but to wake up and build hope and help healing, and remind ourselves that this may be the way that things are but it is not the way they are supposed to be.

This may be the way that things are but it is not the way they are supposed to be.

I posted a quiet, gentle plea on Facebook for the people that orbited around my world. It is here, below:

Please friends and strangers alike... no more talk of "the idiot that did this", or "the dirt-bag that destroyed so many lives", or whatever awful things I keep hearing. As hard as it is to swallow there is a truth to this, as there always is, and as few of us will ever really understand or know, and it's that the young man who did this was in the most desperate need of help... that no one just snaps, it's not true. It's the biggest lie. It is unimaginably horrific, and it is so impossibly hard to comprehend but every poisonous comment only allows more ignorance to take root, and diverts so much attention from some very, very, very important issues. This isn't about evil, it's about a tragically empty vessel filled with the most incomprehensible confusion and pain, and misguided or even misdiagnosed, or simply just missed signs and symptoms. We shouldn't just be hugging our children tonight because of what we just saw. It's not about nurturing our children through this or because of this, it's about nurturing them period. There is no evil, there is only awful...and sometimes that awful is more than we can manage. If you need a place to pour such strong emotions please filter them into your families and your communities, distill more love than hate, and for your own sake, plant the seeds of perspective, not ignorance. I apologize for the lengthy rant but I rode in the back of a police cruiser to the hospital this afternoon with a young man who was falling apart and just needed someone to notice. When I looked in his eyes all I saw was confusion. I shudder to think what you would have found in Adam's eyes this morning, or yesterday, or four years ago. There is no such thing as evil, only awful. Please stop, and think twice. There were other parents and siblings involved today too, his. Everyone is a victim. Including us. Post perspective, not poison.

I begged everyone to please stop perpetuating the language of hatred, or of poorly informed and slanted misinformation, or to try to temper their own personal disgust, and it unexpectedly went something akin to viral. Most people's reactions were a mix of heartbroken, confused, and horrified. Most people were sympathetic and torn, but some responses frightened me. They weren't the kind of reactions I wanted to float down and frame my words. There was talk of God and the Devil. There was indignant disagreement, and worst of all accusations that my tune might change were I the parent of one of the children who were so tragically killed. I felt sick at the insinuation. Of course I would be angry. Of course I would be destroyed. I can't imagine being anything but broken, and confused, and disassembled in the most absolute manner that a heart and mind is maybe capable of. My priorities would be vastly different. Of course they would. My opinions would very likely be painted a darker shade. How could they not be? What I wrote took nothing away from the victims. What I wrote said nothing of anyone's God. What I wrote only began to acknowledge that this event has an equal tragedy in it's complexity. What I wrote was only meant to insert hope into a hopeless feeling time and place. I felt ashamed of people's responses...of the accusations and the acid flung back in the direction of heartfelt hope...of the ignorance of people. They spoke of prayer, and so I prayed that their own child never needed the kind of help and attention that Adam Lanza did. I prayed that I never would have to deal with people so incapable of forgiveness that as long as the horror marred someone else's family tree it was okay to hate someone's else's son. It makes sense, but it is not okay. Hatred is never okay, not even in response to hatred, not even in response to horror, and never in response to hope.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Someday I'll Wish Upon a Star...

When I was a kid I loved it. I loved the song. I loved the movie. I loved Professor Marvel and the art of black and white mixed with color, and the harsh midwest reality mixed with unreal fantasy. I loved the message and I loved the messenger. I loved it all. The Wizard of Oz was a bit of an escape for me...I think every kid has one place they like to go. For me it was Oz when I was small, and Tom Sawyer's Hannibal, Mo when I grew older. Then it became Rocky Beach, California and the Titus' Scrapyard. When I grew much older the fiction gave way to fact, and the underground railroad, whose secrets emptied out in part a short bike ride from my house offered plenty of imagination and mystery for a growing boy. I was every bit a day dreamer. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to the people who know me.

When I was in the sixth grade my homeroom teacher, Mr. Wilmott, scribbled in the comments of my mid-term report, "if Brian could focus as much of his attention and energies into his math and science as he does Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn he'd be an A student," and looking back my mother never had such a telling observation laid right in her hands. I would rarely focus as energetically again, at least, not on what other people told me mattered.

Now as a middle aged man I've stumbled upon Harry Potter, after decades of airplanes and empty coasts and starry deserts and far flung cobblestone streets...enough free time filled with wonder to fill Santa's sack four times over and yet, still not enough. I guess I'm still something of a day dreamer. I hope someday a teacher finds it necessary to scribble something similar on Zo or Maggie's report card. I think it was important. It illuminated imagination and hope and inspiration and a dozen other things that are necessary to manage this rapidly revolving world. I always knew that someday I'd wake up where the clouds were far behind me, and that was important...a life saver. When things got really tough I dreamed of far away places and whether it was Phileas Fogg or Phineas Bogg, I spent a good deal of my time wondering, "why oh why can't I?" The answer, in the end, was why not?

Jill Eisenstadt once wrote, in From Rockaway that, "her legs swing complete afternoons away." That was me, and it's a beautiful idea. A child so engrossed in escape and wonderment that time might actually stand still. Alexander Dumas also wrote in, The Three Musketeers, that "Nothing makes time pass or shortens the way like a thought that absorbs in itself all the faculties of the one who is thinking. External existence is then like a sleep of which this thought is the dream. Under its influence, time has no more measure, space has no more distance." That's a pretty beautiful idea that a young boy can take no meaning from time...not if they can imagine endless eons without a watch...not if the chance to hurtle through time and space is as simple and accessible as closing their eyes.

The dreams that you dare to dream really do come true, if you dare to dream them. Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up...well, right here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Those Mayans Were Full of Sh!t Man...

So, if the end of the world is coming it's late. I don't appreciate all the hullaballoo and in no way, shape, or form feel sad for the Mayans. No wonder the Spanish walked straight through their empire unabated. They can't even tell time.

2013 Summer Bucket List Entry #1

Zo-Simon Comerica Fathers Day
OMG Bergquists, we need to re-create this photo! Just pouring through old pics and saw this beauty from Fathers Day in 2009. So, I don't care if the Mayans were right, somehow we're making it to the next Father's Day so that we can do this again! And every year thereafter...could you imagine the head splitting cuteness of it all? I can't, not without feeling like I've got an aneurism.

Looking back...

I remember sitting on the beach in Capitola, CA and thinking to myself, "Man, I'd better do something with this life." It was pre-sunset, and before the dozen or so Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's would alter my perspectives significantly...before I zipped up my sleeping bag and fell asleep with the sound of the Pacific Ocean reminding me that yes, I would. I most certainly would. Now, a long way from that beach, with the sound of sleeping daughters occasionally punctuating the air, I'm certain I have. Do you ever think about it? Do you ever wonder if how you've spent your days has been the best that you could muster? Sometimes I wonder how things might have been had I taken this opportunity, or walked away from that one...had I turned left and not right, but when the film fills the can at the end of my story I feel pretty strongly that I did things as close to the best that I could. I'm no adventurer, and I'm not all that ambitious. I've been a better friend at times and a worse one at others, but I've played my own game, and didn't get thrown into someone else's tempo or pace...I didn't fall flat into someone else's agenda, and didn't get lulled into paralysis by the things that I'm not and never will be. In the end I hope that I can say I that had an idea on a beach just south of Santa Cruz, and tried it on for size...and what d'ya know. It fit. As another year slips sleepily to a close, don't catch yourself reminiscing and regretting...get up and do something with your life. I suggest that you start by drinking a dozen Sierra Nevadas and zipping that sleeping bag up tight. THe sound of the Pacific Ocean wouldn't hurt either. Of course, you do it your way and I'll do it mine.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sick and Inspired...

Sick today, and it's know, to be really articulate, and then I'm sitting there watching the bath fill for a giggling little girl, and she looks up and at me and smiles, "What, Daddy?"  She keeps playing.  I smile wider.  Sick...who gives a #$%! about sick?  Sick ain't got nuthin' on this little girl.

I've been a blogless wonderkind of late...preferring to cough a rib out of whack, sleep, and ask God, Buddha, whoever, why I can't get a health related break these days.  There's never an answer, and so I read some Harry Potter, mine some excitement for Christmas, and spend money on eBay.  It's a simple existence, and humble, but not without merit.  It's easier than answering text messages from runaways and convincing angry young men and women that rehab is a good idea.  Of course, there was no way of avoiding it and so a lot of that got done from my bed today..."you can't leave the apartment, there's nowhere else to go"..."trust me, the police already know, they're going to do something soon unless you fix this"..."do you owe the guy the money?  Then you're going to have to pay him, or move to Moose Factory"...and on, and on, and on in between three hour naps.  Still, better than being face to face with hopelessness and delusion.  It's nice to phone it in once in awhile.

Somehow between sniffles today I grabbed a pencil and paper, and then the laptop and stumbled into a new header, and the makings of the most ridiculous little book ever.  Sometimes I wonder how much more of that would be happening were it not for the realities of young people's lives imploding.  I think a lot.  So why then aren't I cultivating it more, as hard as that might be.  I've said it here a dozen times, and then nothing comes of it...but what if I blog my progress?  What if I pull in all of you to force my hand.  Forget Monday Night Football...draw...write something...Maybe sick was what I needed?

Oh my...I just had a vision of dropping this laptop right into the tub.  I think it's time to scrub up and towel off.  Maybe we can nurse me back to health with some Christmas TV.  I swear I'd prefer to be sick over watching Michael Buble one more time though.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sundays Are Made of This...

Football Sunday

Daddy needs to learn how to relax on Sunday.  I should be watching the NFL, sleeping on the couch, eating and drinking and feeling no guilt or shame.  I should be re-charging.  I typically don't.  Until today...

Apparently Maggie likes football more than I do.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

From Brooklyn to Quebec City in Six Easy Moves...

She loves her dad :)

We were supposed to be headed to Brooklyn for the Holidays...nope.  Instead, we'll be calling Quebec City home through New Years.  Weird how that happens.  It's a long explanation, but trust me when I say that it only took six moves.

So while I was making arrangements from my floor office, Zoey was enjoying her 35th viewing of Frosty the Snowman.  We were working in harmony...her, chasing joy and the Christmas, hand in fat, money grubbing hand with Expedia.  It was a festive moment between Daddy, daughter, and, well, Expedia I guess.  So maybe not very festive after all, but a sweet moment nonetheless.

Fixing the World in Six Simple Steps

In the can't sleep cause my knee and ankle hurt darkness of the early morning, I fixed the planet.  You can thank me later...maybe a Christmas present or something simple...a back scratch perhaps.  Or how 'bout just a wicked smile and really kind words whenever I see you?  Deal?

Here are my six fool proof remedies for mending a broken planet.  Adopt these notions and then grab a beer and a comfy chair to watch your world change...and here's the trick, there are billions of us on the planet so we fix the planet by fixing ourselves. Whoa...stunner, right?  Quick, someone tell our governments.  It starts with people.

1. Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your actions do.

2. Fixing things -- education, environment, economy - doesn't mean stopping dead in our tracks at the edge of the cliff, and it doesn't mean we can't move forward. It means spinning around on our heals 180 degrees and taking another step forward, just in a different direction.  That's it. That's all.

3. We're all the same, every single one of us.  Get horrific poo cramps in a car thirty minutes from the nearest toilet.  See, we're all the same.  Barack Obama shits his pants the same way that you do. That's a hot mess of inspiring don't you think?

4. We are all -- were and still are -- blank pages being painted by what's around us. Nothing just happens without a catalyst. Nothing.  We are what we learn.  We can't be anything else.

5. Think of impact and others, always.

6. Make a positive impact, some how, some way... through addition, or by subtraction, with influence, or action...don't just take up space and use resources.  Contribute.

There you go.  Now I need a new ice pack and some Advil.

The Truth...

Someday they're going to corner us and ask is Santa is real or not.  I hope I have this kind of explanation when that time comes...I pinched it from here, but this is a question I could easily see a six year old Zoey or Elle asking.  They're too on top of things not to.

Read this and try not to get teary...I triple dog dare you.

Dear Lucy,
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nowhere in The Bible Does it Say Jesus Wasn't a Rapper...

We're not particularly religious, in fact, we're not religious at all.  I'll start believing in God again when I can string together three weeks of walking without pain, and June is going to hell no matter what, but it's a small  kind of hell, not that big, scary capitol H one.  A friend actually told her that in high school...the Hell part, not the lower case vs. capitalized thing.  I just made that up on the spot 'cause I'm awesome like that.  Yeah, a friend told June that since she hadn't given her life over to Christ that she was f#$%!ed.  Nice friend.  So since this is the most sinful household ever, and since not a single one of us stands a chance when the great reckoning comes, I thought it made perfect sense to start believing that maybe Jesus was a rapper.  Why not?  He's everywhere right?  Why not dropping heavy rhymes on all the sinners of the world?  There's no reason why not, AND the bible says nothing about Jesus not being a rapper. particular lord and saviour...lower case l and s...just happens to spit mad rhymes.

What?  It's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time, it's tricky.

Sorry...that was stupid.  How 'bout some links? Of course.

I absolutely...hint...MUST have this, so pay attention Santa.

I can't believe that we're still talking about is just love...period, that's it.

...and I REALLY can't believe that we're still talking about this.

If someone dares to tell me that LeBron James or Michael Jordan are better athletes than Kelly Slater I'll stomp them in the junk.

Stopped at the bookstore tonight and found this must read, and this one too.

Didn't get there this summer, kinda desperate to get there now. This is why.  Best Town Ever?  Awesome.

My latest obsessions...this...and this. BTW...NPR Music Tiny Desk good.

Weirdest headline ever.

If Karma Does Exist...

Mags Xmas Tree

There's this girl, see, that's our second shot at perfection...not flawless, impossible perfection but rather our kind of perfection, the kind with the flaws that were made especially for your patience.  The kind with the irregularities that remind you of yourself.  Every time that I stare at her I think, "how'd I manage to find this kind of love...again."  That's three girls, three loves, three little pockets of perfection in my oh-so imperfect life.  If karma does exist, I must be one #$%! of a guy.

The Cuteness...


Holy Mother of Ronnie Turiaf this is the cutest picture on the know, except for that similar one that you probably have of your own children. These two girls are pretty ridiculous at this stage...Zoey eager to see Maggie and dangerously affectionate.  Maggie barely able to take her eyes off of her sister...wildly amused by everything she does.  It's a swooner.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sugar and Spice...and Fleece

She likes Princesses, and I should have known that she would, I mean, she's three, right...almost four. That's sensible enough, except it isn't. I don't want it to be.  I want her to fall in love with a world absent of princesses and knights in shining armour.  I didn't necessarily want to round that stereotype corner, but instead wanted my daughter to believe in herself more than magic and Disneyesque fantasies...but, the somewhat natural way of things took over, and I managed as best as I could.

At first, when I realized how asleep at the wheel I'd been with all this Princess rubbish, I threw up in my hands and passed out six or seven times.  Once the initial guilt faded I eased myself into more of a damage control mode. I bought Zoey a sleeping bag, built her tip is and spread Lego out on the floor...I attempted to build a rational being out of the still burning embers of her imagination, and I think we've somehow managed.  Zoey still likes Princesses, but she also likes bugs, and volcanos and  dinosaurs.  Se also likes Mother Nature and music, and swimming and jumping and crashing into things...gently...or not so gently if we're talking about uneven bars and gym mats. W're slowly breaking the spell that society, and the Sears Christmas Wish Book has imposed on her. Princesses are cool and all, but not as cool as ___________(insert whatever). Whew...close one.

What I need to remember is that we are filters to her world, not evil dictators, and that she's going to fall for what she's going to fall for. We can guide her, and steer her, butt in the end she'll wander into whatever crowd she feels most strongly about wandering into. Scary...but important.  I sure hope whatever crowd she wanders into isn't wearing crowns and sequinned skirts...I hope, I hope, I hope.  Then I remind myself, who bought her the Patagonia fleece off ebay as though it might magically make her more inclined to care about the planet? Oh yeah, that was me.  Princess crown...recycled's all someone else's priority. She'll find what suits her. I just hope it's not Louis Vuitton.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter...


Normally I post a photo of Zoey, or of Maggie, and I wax on poetic about how beautiful they are, but not this time.  This time I'm going to ask you if you've ever seen lips like those?  It's no wonder these two little girls are so beautiful.  Their Mom makes beautiful look easy.  It's not, but she could convince a blind man that it is.  Look at those lips.  Oh my God.  What did I do to win that lottery?  The rest of her is pretty awesome to.  Just sayin'...I probably could have gotten way more romantic about things but let's just be blunt.  My wife is beautiful and that's all I have to say about that.  You don't need to doll up that kind of simple observation.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Here Comes Santa Claus...

Seeing Santa 2

Zed is quick to point out fake Santas.  Just yesterday she asked if she could, "go and see the fake Santa castle," that had been erected in the mall.  Sure, why not. "It's not real though Dad." No, you're right. She can be a pretty practical kid.  And then she sees a very convincing Santa riding high upon a float at the local Santa Claus Parade, and she comes undone.

This is what a little girl seeing Santa for the first time looks like...

Seeing Santa 1

She was calm, and as collected as you might ever imagine, but jumping out of her skin from the inside out.  It was well beyond cute.  It was...inspiring.  It was a good reminder what too many of us forget. Some things mean an awful lot to some people, even if they don't to you.

It's a wonder that anyone can conceal their excitement this time of year, but not surprising that it takes a child to make manifest the magic of the holiday.  Santa...what a paralyzing thing.  What a brilliantly good thing.  What an astonishing lesson in selflessness, and possibility, and fairness.  Not some of the kids on this planet get a visit, but rather ALL of the kids around the world earn a stop.  If you stop for just a moment to think about it, it's beautiful.  No religion, no cultural disparity, no weather or war can stop him.  Imagine if every year we could see Santa for the very first time and be consumed by his wonder.  Imagine if we just lived every day with the idea that someone loves all of us...that it was as simple as being good or bad.  I suppose that there's already an ethos or six for that kind of thinking, but somehow Santa is non-denominational.

One of my favorite stories ever is from our good friend Betz, whose daughter, just a few years ago, was waiting in line to see Santa at Macy's in Manhattan, when she was suddenly struck with the notion and subsequently concerned that Santa might know that she was Jewish.  It was sweet, and the answer was,  "of course he knows."

What if it was just that simple all the time?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday, Pre-Gymnastics Links

Waking up to these cheeks is the best thing since fingers.

Back to sleep after a 2hr nap with me!

In the words of my good friend Aimee, "my head just asploded!"  Look at this!

It's not Mother's Day but still...for you. All of you.

Now this awesome old lady gets it.  I guess she isn't that old after all.

Guilty admission...I kind of have a crush on the Flickr camera girl.  Further guilty admission...she kind of reminds me of my wife.

It's cool and all, but the magic from the first few books is kinda gone.  I want it back.

Read this essay.  I try to think of the work that I do in these same terms...only the end result isn't a design, it's a relationship, or a conversation, or help, or access.  

These things are awesome.  We were playing with them at the Patagonia store in Soho and I wanted to steal them.  I guess I'll just buy some lie a good consumer.

I dunno about you but I'm gonna start my day with this.

Tough Goodnights

I called her a liar and she fell apart.

She couldn't stop crying and kept telling me that she was, "so sad."

"Why did you call me a liar Daddy?"

I explained to her with as much heartbroken patience as I could muster, "because when you lie you're a liar." She wondered why I would hurt her feelings that way. I explained further, and of course, hugged her, and helped her stop crying. She was indeed hurt, and a little confused. I denied her the usual stories at bedtime because when I asked her who had made the mess in her room she said that it wasn't her. It turns out that Mom had left some toys on the floor when she was changing Zo's sheets, but at least half of the mess was Zoey's. She lied to me, I called her a liar.


"I don't want to be a liar Daddy."

"Then you mustn't lie, because right now that's what you are." More tears. "You won't always be that," I said, "but right now you are. If you don't want to be a liar then you have to stop lying."

Through hyperventilating gasps and skin in awful hives, "Okay Daddy." There was a pause for more tears. "Can I hug you Daddy because I don't want you not to love me."

Tears...this time from me. "Of course, I'll always love you," pause, "but you don't get any books tonight."

"I know Daddy. Because I lied to you. I don't want to lie to you any more. I love you."

"I know you do Zo," I said. "Do you understand why got upset with you."

"Yes Daddy," she said choking back the return of more tears. "But I don't know why you hurt my feelings like that."

Cue the broken heart...and the goodnight...and the kiss on the forehead.

Zoey has to remember not to lie, and Daddy needs to remember how badly what he says can crush his daughter.