Sunday, April 26, 2009

I will name it The Jeffraham

My good friend Jeff is trying to win a scooter. It is crucial that he wins it since his plan is to give it to me if he does. If you would like to read fewer tweets and blog posts about me walking and more about me scooting, please vote for him every day.

Click here, sign up, and vote for the competitor named Jeffraham Prestonian. Thanks!

6.6 Miles

I had a ride available to me yesterday, but it was so nice out that I chose to walk to work. If the marathon runners could run 26.2 miles for our Country Music Marathon , then I could surely walk 6.6 miles. At a leisurely pace, I braved the shoulders of Bell Road and Elm Hill Pike with Prince on my iPod and my old Sony Cybershot camera in my hand. I neglected to check the exposure settings and everything was quite overexposed, but I kind of liked the results after toying with them in Picasa. Here's hoping you like some excessive verdancy in your nature pictures.

A Fellow Walker

Not pictured is the snake that made me cross to the other side of the street. It was small and black and never moved at all. Whether or not it was dead made no matter to me. I froze in my tracks when I saw it maybe five feet ahead in my path. I backed up a few steps and quickly made my way to the other side. I mentioned it on Twitter in what was possibly my first use of profanity on that social networking service. Next time, I'm carrying a stick.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Jack, That Cat Was Clean"

Thanks to WRVU's Nashville Jumps for making me hip to this song by Dr. Horse. I hazard to guess that Tom Waits listened to this song early on.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Seven pictures of this guy and Samantha

Hearts and Questions

It is my opinion that all of my friends would love to listen to this Radiolab production entitled "In Silence."

Newcoma and Holly are among the first people I can imagine smiling to hear it.


" if I fall drunk in a four-dollar room: you messed up your history—let me dawdle in mine.

from Charles Bukowski's Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook

Pop Pillows

(click the image for more)

Ari Say...

Declining my offer to help her pick out her clothes for school this morning: "I can do it myself. I'm under control."

Nonchalantly greeting my stepmother at a party this weekend: "When I'm in my eighties or nineties, I'll be dead."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ride the Falcon

Two Joshuas

It's funny how often we get compliments regarding our kids' behavior. I guess they are pretty well-behaved overall, but as their parents we also see them at their high-strung worst. Below are two recent Joshua moments. The first one isn't him at his worst, but it is him when he's annoying. The second anecdote choked up his sentimental parents a bit.

Yesterday morning, while driving my kids to school, I couldn't believe how awesome they were being. They both played quietly with their toys in their car seats and got along famously. This morning, however, was trouble immediately. He wanted something that she had. She was happy enough not giving it to him. He reached for it and she turned her body away from him. He whined and she ignored him. Their mom got involved and tried to figure out where they were in the conflict.

Mom: Joshua, what is your problem?

Joshua: I'm asking her a question and she won't answer me.

Mom: Ari, answer your brother.

Ari: I already did.

Mom: Joshua, she gave you her answer already. Just hush.

Joshua: But I wanted a different answer.

He can be so stubborn sometimes. It's "his way or the highway," as they say.

Sigh. The whining continued and Ari announced to us, "Joshua is not dealing with my answer very well." At least we got a giggle out of that.

Then there is the Joshua of last night. All honor and loyalty. From his early days of school, he's been keen on a certain girl. They've shared classrooms since they were both seven weeks old and as soon as he learned something about the concept of marriage he told us that he would eventually marry her. He's now five years old and still says the same thing even though he and she are no longer classmates. He's got a new female friend now and spends all of his free time playing with her. He might see the other girl in passing once or twice a day.

We asked him last night if he was still going to marry the first girl now that he's such good friends with the new girl.

"Of course, Momma," came his quick reply.

"Why is that?" his mom inquired.

"Because I promised her first," he said very matter-of-factly.

I may have a young gentleman on my hands after all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

All The Critics (and Sasha Frere-Jones) Love Him In (The) New York(er)

If by "May U live 2 see the dawn," Prince means "Design O' The Times: The Art Direction Memos," hilariously written by Sasha Frere-Jones and Ben Greenman, then I am happy indeed that I lived to see it. Read the excerpted introduction below and follow the links to brilliance.

My colleague Ben Greenman and I are both enormous Prince fans. (Two years ago, I documented the nature and scope of my feelings about Prince in the magazine.) That said, we think that the gap between the quality of Prince’s music and that of his album covers is possibly the widest in all of popular music, at least where gifted musicians are concerned (though there is some strong competition).
When Prince was signed to Warner Brothers, his album covers were not as egregious as they have become recently, but neither were they a sure thing. After Prince left Warner Brothers, the situation deteriorated acutely. After having a series of speculative conversations (“Does Prince have an enormous ‘Earth Pix’ folder? Or does he have to buy new satellite pictures of Earth each year?”), Ben and I decided to write a series of memos imagining what art directors would have said to Prince over the years.

Volume 1: Rave un2 the Joy fantastic

Volume 2: Graffiti Bridge

Volume3: Crystal Ball

The Baby

Never Prepared

I try to stay away from the woe is me stuff these days, but I'm just feeling it this morning.

This morning was especially tough to begin with. I awoke early from a bad dream and stayed up to get the kids' lunches ready. I got them up at their usual time and went about the morning routine, laying out clothes, making sure teeth were brushed, making breakfast, etc. There was something a bit different about Ari today. I came into her room happily surprised to find her already awake. I smiled at her and wished her a good morning and was met only with silence and a deep stare into my eyes. She then moved to me and gave me a hug. I hugged her back and as I moved to let her go so that we could start the day, she held tighter and said, "Hold me." Okay. Happy to oblige.

After a good twenty seconds or so, I played the role and got her started on her morning routine without incident. We were all dressed and ready to go at 6:45. Out the door and to our van, with lunch bags, backpacks and all was well. They played quietly and happily in their car seats while I drove and enjoyed the new Prince CD. (It's a good one.) We arrived at school and made our way inside, first to Ari's class and then to Joshua's. Again, Ari seemed a bit melancholy. Kneeling down to wish her a good day, I was met again by her arms around my neck. I hugged her back getting more sad and concerned by the second. Finally, I pulled away, gave her a kiss and wished her a good day. She told me she loved me, I told her I loved her, and I went about the business of getting Joshua to his class.

Five minutes later, I walked by Ari's class again on my way out of the school. Her door was closed but I peered in hoping to see her laughing with her friends, hoping for a reason to smile. However, I spied her looking just as sad as before, shuffling from the coat area toward her seat. The instinct was to walk in and give her another hug. Maybe take her back home and play board games all day or maybe just chat with her teacher for a bit. Fighting instinct, I just continued on my way to the van wondering what in the world was going on in my little girl's head.

It's less that she was somehow sad today and more that she was just so tight-lipped about it. Her hugs were clingy and desperate. She wanted something from me and maybe I was giving it to her and maybe I wasn't. This dad just doesn't know.

And... on top of all of that, while driving home I noticed a brief flicker on my dashboard. The "D" for drive would alternate between dim and bright. As soon as my attention was fixed, every single red light on my dashboard came on for a quick second. My heart sank realizing that at the very least, a battery or alternator might need to be replaced. At worst, who knows? (Here comes the woe is me.) We've got no money, no credit cards, no room for this.

It's our own fault, but I'm still left with a feeling of despair which angers me somewhat. The facts are that I have four wonderful children: one adult and three little ones. I didn't go to college and don't make a lot of money but I work steadily and diligently and I don't mess around with drug or alcohol abuse. I go to my job each day and I come home each night, never stopping anywhere to spend money or placing my attention anywhere but toward my family. I'm a doting dad and a loving husband.While I'm smart enough to know that these things don't guarantee a life of riches, I'm just so tired of the struggle. It's such a grey sky life these days. Had I gone to college, maybe I'd have a skill which would help me more in the workforce. Or if I had the gift of gab, maybe I'd at least make good money selling cars or whatever wares are desired. But here I am, smiling politely and carrying bags for travelers, a great job for a single guy, but no career in this economy.

It doesn't help that, while I love my kids with all that I am, I feel so irresponsible for not being more careful. (Our latest and greatest was quite the surprise. The Pill was no match for whatever was in the air or water that night.) Before I married Paige, before I proposed to Paige, I sought out counseling to answer some questions I had. When I mentioned Paige and how much I loved her, but added how afraid I was that I wouldn't be able to financially afford having more children, he suggested that no one is really ever "ready" for the financial aspect of parenting but that the other intangibles more than make up for that. With that, I started shopping for rings.

We don't lack for love around here, but the financial hardship is staggering. I've got one car whose battery seems to be dying. It's parked at my workplace while I save up for a battery. But that's the less important vehicle. If and when I can't drive it, I walk to work or get rides from friendly coworkers. The van, however, is the big one. It takes my wife and kids down the interstate to her work and their school. She makes the larger income and the van is what keeps us going. I can't afford not to afford to fix it, but here I am. Broke. As is most of my family. As are most of my friends these days.

I just want to hug my kids and be a better provider for them.

Pardon this post. It's just what's in my head. Advice welcome.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

As Good At It Got

The rules have changed at my workplace allowing us male workers to grow goatees and wear stud-type earrings. Within about two to three days of this change, many of my co-workers were sporting very sophisticated and cool looking goatees. Sadly, the way I grow facial hair reminds me of a certain stand-up comedian's routine: "Much more dance floor than carpet." I'll try for a mustache forgoing the razor for two weeks and end up looking like a 15-year-old boy trying to look like a man. It takes me five days to get a five o'clock shadow.

Anyway, with my two-week break from work, I thought I'd give this goatee thing a go. Surely I'd get some results after fourteen days of not shaving. I made it a total of seven before getting frustrated and going back to a purposely smooth face. Here's as good as it got:

It just wasn't meant to be. That's fine. One day I'll get a laser treatment and be done with the hassle of dragging a sharp razor across my face every day.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Our old neighborhood

A tornado tore through Murfreesboro today. We hope everyone's okay.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rob Blackledge

I'm hearing brilliance in new-to-me artist Rob Blackledge . Listening to his piano-driven "Should've Known Better," I'm reminded of when I first heard Ben Folds in Jody's Power Bill. His is the power pop sound that I love so much and will fit in perfectly on any playlist including favorites such as Jellyfish, Material Issue, Ben Folds, Matthew Sweet and Brad Jones. Oh, and The Beatles.

I found Rob Blackledge and his songs here .

My kids and I crack up whenever we watch this.

(Warning: Mimes within.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


My daughter showed me a picture that she had drawn of me. I noticed that my stick-figured self had his head cocked to one side and I asked her why she drew me with my head leaning over.

"You're faded, Daddy. All boys start to fade when they get married," she explained.

Before I could ask her what she meant by that, her brother jumped in with his own retort. "Ari, girls fade too when they see how awesome boys are."

Georgia, Meet Samantha

"Tell me about France."

My daughter and I now have a bedtime ritual. A few weeks ago she was having trouble getting to sleep because she was afraid of bad dreams. She and her brother have recently developed a pronounced fear of bugs. Whether they be spiders, bumblebees, or even cute little ladybugs, they want nothing to do with them. I'm trying my best to babystep them out of this fear, but it's still an issue.

Anyway, while trying to help Ari through this fear of dreams of bugs one night, I suggested that she close her eyes and imagine that she and her good friend from school were on an adventure together. "Imagine that the two of you do something that wouldn't really happen, like you fly to France in a plane without even your parents," I offered. She loved it. She's familiar with some of what Paris has to offer. We have a beautiful poster of the Eiffel Tower in our living room as well as the famous print by Robert Doisneau. She also knows how to say a few words in French. "Au revoir," she says to me as I leave for work some days. "Je t'aime," she'll add as I look back before the door closes.

In the story meant to soothe her that night, I told her all about her flight to Paris with her friend Kay. They took turns sitting by the window and looked down and the big blue ocean. They watched princess movies in the airplane. They talked about what they would do when they got to Paris. They were two four-year-old girls wearing fabulous hats and having the big time. Once they arrived, they immediately went about the process of walking through the airport and finding their luggage. They had no problem finding their pink Dora suitcases among the hundreds of identical black bags on the carousel and exited the airport and hailed a taxi to take them to their hotel.

Ari was the first of the pair to see the Eiffel Tower off in the distance and pointed it out to her friend. They were both so excited to be so far from home and so independent. While Ari's brother was back home in Nashville whining about green beans on his dinner plate, she and her friend were living the grown-up life that most gown-ups don't even get to live. It was at this point that I could see in my daughter's eyes that this was not to be a mere distraction from her fear of bugs but a regular part of the going to bed routine. And if she wasn't hooked by now, she most certainly was by the next part.

Ari and Kay decided to let the taxi drop them off at a small cafe instead of at their hotel. Ari had seen these cafes on her dad's computer while they perused Google Street View and wanted to sit at one of those sidewalk tables just like she had always imagined she would. She and Kay sat and enjoyed their tea and bread while wearing their fabulous hats and beautiful sundresses. Just then a young boy walked by and Kay spoke to him.

"Hello," she said to the boy.

He looked back, a bit puzzled and said nothing as he scratched the side of his face.

Ari knew that he didn't understand what Kay had said and offered what little French she knew. "Bonjour," she said. The boy smiled and said the same back to the girls. Kay and Ari giggled and introduced themselves to the boy.

"Jacques," he replied, pointing to his chest.

This was a brief summation of three nights of talking to my daughter before bed. The second night was a repeat of the first and the third night was their stop at the French cafe where they met Jacques. I didn't know how much interest she would have in the story but last night and the night before she was quick to say, "Tell me about France."

I'm sure she'll want me to think of what comes next so now I get to spend today figuring out how Jacques becomes their tour guide even though he doesn't even know a lick of English. Also, her brother came into her room last night as I was telling the story and enjoyed it as well, so I may find a way for him to be there as well. Maybe the green beans at home were just too much and he emptied his piggy bank and fled to France as well.

Have a nice day. I'm off to Google Street View for research.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

New Man Around the House

With a new baby requiring so much attention and a tired mom who's on the mend, the rest of us here are having to pick up the slack. For instance, the five-year-old is now in charge of cooking all meals.
Okay, just kidding, but he does like to help where he can.