Saturday, July 16, 2016

How things get better

Things have been tough around the world lately. Lots of shouty words, lots of hurt feelings. And, sadly, lots of tragedy. Just something I've been thinking about.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Soup Hero

We're driving in the car. My wife and mom are in the front. My dad and I are in the back, separated by my daughter, who is in her car seat.

I'm holding my daughter's hand.

She asks for my dad's hand: "Papa, can I see your hand?"

She examines the scars and freckles and protruding veins. He wiggles his fingers to make the veins move like worms, and she giggles.

She's clenching my hand on one side, and his hand on the other, and then she places my hand on top of his hand.

"Hold hands!" she demands. So we hold hands, while she traces veins and scars and freckles over both our hands.

I realize it's been decades since I held my dad's hand. I mean, I like the man. We hug each other (briefly) in greeting. I've shaken his hand here and there, sometimes in jest, sometimes on the way to that half-shake, half-embrace that men do. But it's probably been twenty years since I held my dad's hand the way I hold my daughter's hand.

It was a little strange. Strange because it had been so long, strange because grown men don't usually hold hands. Strange because I felt like I was six again, my hand clasped in his, and his hands were still just like I remembered them - strong, calloused, warm, and gentle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

I admit it, I'm preoccupied by the way life comes into our Universe. I don't think I can understand its inception from a merely scientific perspective. But for that matter, I can't understand how the religious explain it, either. It's a miracle and a mystery that defies whatever intellectual or spiritual lense I endeavor to view it with.

All I can say is that the existence of life is amazing.

Setting aside, for a moment, the question of where it comes from, I'm equally floored by the way living things tenaciously refuse to be squashed by a supremely lethal, merciless Universe. That delicate creatures of any species can survive for any length of time in a reality that sprouted, as far we know, from a pinprick of ferocious heat and energy that defied even the laws of physics - - well, it's just too much to internalize. These are dots that I do not know how to connect, but that obviously, somehow, do connect.

Which is all to say: Mothers, I don't know how you do it. But keep up the good work.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Dad 2.0 2.0

I just returned from my second Dad 2.0 Summit (Dad 2.0 2.0, if you will). Last year I spoke on a panel about creativity and parenting, which was both horribly intimidating and exciting. This year I was able to skulk about a bit more, unobtrusively slipping in and out without quite so much pressure hanging over me. It was good to see a bunch of upstanding dudes intent on participating both at an intimate level in their own family, and on a larger scale in society, as men who value fatherhood and resolve to be better fathers and encourage others to do the same. I don't usually get sucked in by pop cultural movements or icons, but my wife shared this song by Kelly Clarkson the other night, and it tugged at my heart:

I have a great dad, so the song isn't specific to my own family life . . . but Lindsay and I have been talking a lot lately about what we can do for kids in need. It's a topic I'm sure I'll treat in more detail in this space in the future.

Meanwhile, during my free time, it was cool to walk my old haunts. I stopped by my favorite Smithsonian museums, and snapped a picture of the Andy Goldsworthy installation at the National Gallery for my friend Bill:

And the night before I returned home to our California mountains, I planned an 8-mile walking route through the monuments and back to my old neighborhood and alma mater.

And I took a picture of the tree beneath which my wife and I first kissed.

There's something special about revisiting origins, and I'm glad my family supported me in doing so. Thanks guys.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .

Sorry for the Spoilers. Also, poor little Duke. #NeverForget

Saturday, October 31, 2015

So Penseroso, as told by a grumpy five-year-old


There's just something about Autumn and the waning of the light and a general chill in the air that makes all my strange grumpiness seem seasonally appropriate. I like these months, 'cause it's like the whole earth wants to just withdraw into itself and hibernate for a while, and not be disturbed. Summer is for extroverts. Autumn and winter? They are for me.

My daughter's an extrovert, but her eagerness to get into character for our third annual Halloween poem truly warmed my heart. In a chilly, curmudgeonly way. My dad used to tell this poem to us when we were little, especially when we started getting sulky.

So Penseroso

Come, megrims, mollygrubs and collywobbles!
Come, gloom that limps and misery that hobbles!
Come also, most exquisite meloncholiage,
As dank and decadent as November foliage!
I crave to shudder in your moist embrace,
To feel your oystery fingers on my face.
This is my hour of sadness and soulfulness,
and cursed be he who dissipates my dolefulness.
I do not desire to be cheered,
I desire to retire, I am thinking of growing a beard.
A sorrowful beard with a mournful, dolorous hue in it,
with ashes and glue in it.
I want to be drunk with despair,
I want to caress my care.
I do not wish to be blithe,
I wish to recoil and writhe.
I will revel in cosmic woe,
and I want my woe to show.
This is the morbid moment,
this is the ebony hour.
Aroint thee, sweetness and light!
I want to be dark and sour!
Away with the bird that twitters!
All that glitters is jitters!
Roses, roses are gray,
Violets cry Boo! and frighten me.
Sugar is stimulating,
and people conspire to brighten me.
Go hence, people, go hence!
Go sit on a picket fence!
Go gargle with mineral oil,
Go out and develop a boil!
Melancholy is what I brag and boast of,
Melancholy I plan to make the most of.
You beaming optimists shall not destroy it,
But while I am at it, I intend to enjoy it.
Go, people, stuff your mouths with soap,
and remember, please, that when I mope, I mope!*

~Ogden Nash

*There are other (slightly longer) versions of So Penseroso floating around, but this is one that I liked.