Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's a Book

Adam Gopnik reviewed It's a Book by Lane Smith and my kids and I are looking forward to reading it soon.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Who is this kid anyway?

Why is he dancing with my daughter? Does he even have a job? A dad deserves to know these things.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Cute Story My Son Wrote

Saving My Sister

Once upon a time I was at the pool. It was fun until my sister started drowning. I had to save her. I swam under water. I looked for her.

When I almost went up I spotted her. I swam to her and grabbed her. I saved her. It was amazing. Everyone shouted hooray to me. I saved her. I was happy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sick Day

Maybe Writing, Definitely Typing

"Sunshine makes us gloomy." - from The News from Lake Wobegon

I'm up late tonight listening to Garrison Keillor via iTunes. I've gotten behind on listening to podcasts and am taking this time to catch up. Speaking of catching up, it occurred to me a few minutes ago that I used to read a fun blog called Dad Gone Mad once upon a time and somehow forgot about it. Visiting him just now I see that not only do I have many posts to peruse but he also has a serious book out entitled Rage Against the Meshugenah. It reminds me that my wife wants me to pursue turning a bedtime story that I made up for my kids into a children's book for those who might wish to buy such a thing for their kids. Why not, right? Even if no one outside of this household cares, it would be cool to go through the process of finding out. And in the end, at least my kids will have a book dedicated to them on their bookshelves.

I don't know if this is any good or not, but I like it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

He with the expressive eyes.

When he's at his fastest of Tasmanian Devil-like moments, it can be easy to forget about what he's like when he's at his most contemplative. The reward is in knowing more. He's very bright and perceptive and with a well-timed query, he can stop the noise of the world and bring me into his kindest of souls and most loving of hearts.

And she wins.

To her, I paraphrase Kevin Spacey in Glengarry Glen Ross: "Will you go to sleep?"

To me, she quotes Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast: "No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!"

And we'll read Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon as we fly over the Atlantic

I came home early tonight and got to enjoy a bit of quality time with my kids. While walking the dog and talking with my tag-along daughter, a plane flew over our heads. Ari gasped with delight and remarked, "I just can't wait to fly in a plane and go to Paris someday."

I love that kid and I hope more than anything that her Paris dreams eventually come true.

Nights and Weekends

Sometimes I feel like an absentee dad. I sleep in the same home with my wife and kids, but I don't see them very much. In the mornings, there's the bustling about of everyone getting ready for school so my quality time with my family is reduced to frantic conversations regarding lost shoes. "Well, where did you leave them?" "I don't know." "Just hurry up and find them. Time is of the essence." We like that phrase because it rhymes with bioluminescence, the big word that the kids and I love that we know. Thirty minutes of getting ready and they're in the van and off to school and I'm back to bed for part two of my nightly sleep.

Sometimes I get a Saturday or a Sunday off, but those are rare. The hospitality industry needs industrious me the most on the weekends. Happy to be employed and grateful for the health insurance, I obligingly clock in promptly for each and every shift, missing my family but conscious that my time in uniform and nametag is all for them, for us. Still, it smacks hard when I'm aware that my own case of arrested development, doing a job best suited for college kids and retired persons, continues to earn a paltry sum toward this family's modest budget. I appreciate that I've got it better than many, but my kids just know that they miss their dad.

Forgive me. I'm just ruminating tonight that I've got to figure out how to become the man I want to be. My wife and kids would like to see me more often. For them, I'd like to find a job that pays more and has me home at nights and on weekends. This has always been my desire, of course, but it was made especially clear that my absence is having its effects when my five-year-old daughter made a passing comment to me the other evening on a rare evening off. "Daddy," she asked. "Do you sometimes wish you didn't work nights so that your kids wouldn't miss you and be sad?" Oh, the power of a simply asked question. Oh, the guilt. I shared what she said with my Twitter friends and learned that even the 9-5ers have endured similar guilt-inducing moments with their kiddos. We do what we must and we know it's for the greater good. If only it was a tad easier for the kids to understand.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The 50th State Is Where I'll Be

I'm staying up late and studying up on Hawaii for an upcoming trip I have planned. It's a strange event to consider given my near constant hermit status, but it's a very generous all-expenses paid gift from my mom and I'm grateful for the opportunity. The plan was originally for she and my brother to go, but she recently had hip surgery and won't be able to make it. At first, I considered declining her offer, overwhelmed at the prospect of going to Hawaii while struggling financially here at home. I was gently nudged into saying yes by several friends and loved ones who threatened to kick my butt if I said no.

So here I am downloading surfing podcasts and reading trip reports online. I even have the bus schedule printed out. My brother and I will be staying at a nice resort in Honolulu called the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa. For some reason, it's been awhile since I've enjoyed taking pictures. With this trip in mind, I'm feeling motivated to learn how to get good shots again. Lately it's just been lazy iPhone pics of whatever while the Nikon sits lonely on its shelf.

Thanks to my mom for giving me her ticket. As always, I'm humbled by her generosity. She's recovering nicely from her surgery and I'm sure that she'll be able to make the trip herself next time around.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ninjas On The Side

I'm admittedly a purposely understated kind of guy, but I think I'd love to have something like this on the side of my Cube. Instead of ninjas, however, something involving Star Wars would be what I would want.

Speaking of Star Wars, I just learned that the 501st Legion's Midsouth Garrison group will be at Clarksville's Governor's Square Mall today from 1:00 to 5:00. Support Make-A-Wish and get your picture taken with a stormtrooper.

Family Resemblance

My daughter at age five looks just like I did at age five.

Here's me at age forty. Let's hope she starts to take after her mom at some point between now and the year 2045.

I'll find it after I pay up.

I don't often lose track of the library books I borrow, but I sure do lose the ones that cost thirty bucks or more to replace. Charles Bukowski's Open All Night is the one that got away this time.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

While pondering whether or not to blog anymore...

My daughter poked at my belly this morning and asked, "Daddy, are you sure there's not a baby in there?"

That's a good blog post right there.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Some babies do that."

My Sammie has this thing that she does. When she gets mad, she has a tendency to lose her breath. There's this silence instead of a cry and the cry doesn't come. Instead, she simply reaches and reaches for the cry, but fails and then passes out. I've witnessed it twice and I think that Paige has, too. Sammie's pediatrician assures us that we shouldn't worry and that "some babies do that." After she passes out, she'll start to breathe again and everything will be fine.

My second and most intense experience with this was last night. I put her into her swing so that I could have my hands free to tend to something routine and insignificant. She started to fuss and instead of picking her up immediately, I thought I'd give her a minute to adjust and maybe I could get done whatever it was I was trying to deal with. Instead of the cry, however, there was just that pained silence from my little girl. I saw her struggle and I lifted her from her swing. No sound. She was losing color in her face and I felt that conflict between panic and remembering what the doctor said. Remembering tips and tricks I'd heard before, I blew in her face to startle her back to consciousness. It didn't work though and she went blue in the face and limp in my arms. I continued to desperately blow in her face and call her name and she finally came back around but probably no thanks to my efforts. My Sammie was still a bit dazed and it wasn't until a minute or so later when she started crying that I was no longer worried. Just like her doctor said. Some babies do that.

My question to anyone reading: Have you ever experienced this? Sammie is my fourth baby. I've never seen this before and, of course, there's nothing scarier as a parent than to deal with this scenario. "Some babies do that" isn't a phrase that makes it much easier either. Since blowing in her face to startle her didn't seem to work, are there other tips for helping her catch her breath before she passes out again? Making sure she's never, ever unhappy again will be one solution, but probably not something I can count on.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Listening to Brett Rosenberg

I got a new favorite bunch of songs that I'm listening to this morning. Brett Rosenberg, recommended by The Joiners on their site, is exactly perfect for the new music I needed to find. Listen to his muxtape recordings in full here. Here's hoping you dig it. Have a nice day.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Musical Saw

A melancholy mood snuck up on me tonight. Lucky for me, I can complement that mood with appropriate music played with the perfect instrument: the musical saw. It's used yearningly and woefully on The Black Rider's "November" by Tom Waits. It's also the instrument of choice by the man billed simply as "Tried To Escape" in 1991's wildly eclectic and imaginative Delicatessen, featured below.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Words by Ari

Arianna's not settling down to sleep as she should so I go in and lie down next to her, silently reading The New Yorker on my iPhone and hoping she'll finally close her eyes and go to sleep.

"Are you reading inside your brain?"

I look at her and nod, saying nothing.

She then asks, "Is it too much for your mouth to talk?"

I love that kid and her way with words.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Disney for my kids, quiet time for me.

The cat's out of the bag. The initial plan was to not tell the kids
that they were going to Disney until their mom entered the park's
parking lot. Instead, since it was likely they'd find out anyway, they
know now. Boy, are they excited.

They've never been. Josh is six and Ari is five. As into the whole
princess thing she is, this is likely a dream come true for her. Her
mom signed her up for some kind of thing that is special for kids like
her. I forget what exactly, but it involves princesses.

I wonder what Josh will love most about it. The last time I went to
Disney, Pete from Pete's Dragon was in the parade and he waved at me.
It might have been a general wave to the crowd, but I'm pretty sure it
was specifically to this boy that he waved.

While the family enjoys their time in Florida, I'm here enjoying a
very quiet apartment. I unplugged the television and all other
unnecessary appliances as soon as they drove away. This in hopes of a
lower electricity bill and also just for the heck of it.

I might go watch some animated and live action shorts at the Belcourt
tomorrow. Come along if you like.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My cursed mellifluous voice.

Texting with my wife who knows me so well. I'm in green.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Sissy and Me

An excerpt from Caitlin Colford's Sissy and Me:
"I watched my mother destroy my best friend, a friend who took the pain away from my heart and tucked it inside her own.  Sissy was diagnosed with bi-polar depression after Daddy moved out of our house and into his own.  My mother said feeling sad was in our blood and not to worry."
Read the rest here. She also writes at The Rumpus.

Thanks to Holly for sending me a link to Caitlin's work.

Glorious Glorious

The Joiners have a new record coming out in a month or so. You can hear "Harder Than It Looks" and three other great songs from it at The Joinerhouse.

My early opinion? This is their best yet. Goosebumps listening to "You Love."

Makes my day.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's After Midnight. Here's A Paragraph Or Two.

Big thanks to my mom who knows me well and gave me a calendar with pictures of trains to hang on my wall. I'm up late and sipping Sam Adams Black Lager and listening to Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones and Frank's Wild Years. I've got regrets that make me want to turn back the clock thirty years and I've got regrets that make me want to turn it back a day, but forward is the only way we get to go. One way forward and twenty-four hours a day, the great equalizer among us.

My son woke me from a nap this afternoon singing "16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six." Well, not the song, but that title line. I had been singing it earlier in the day while making his lunch and I guess he was paying attention. Maybe I'm more influential than I know. Speaking of Tom Waits and his songs, I'll share a quick confession, a sacrilege possibly among fans. I never cared for "Tom Traubert's Blues." It's good enough a song, but I never got why so many people who dig Waits seem to have that at the top of their list of favorite songs by him. It's grand and sweeping and melancholy as all get out, all good qualities for a song that resonates, but I get more out of "Time" and "Innocent When You Dream" when needing that signature Tom Waits song fix.

While I'm telling the Internet that I think about things, here's a line that I liked from the New York Times piece titled Depression's Upside:
If depression didn’t exist — if we didn’t react to stress and trauma with endless ruminations — then we would be less likely to solve our predicaments. Wisdom isn’t cheap, and we pay for it with pain.
I'm a wreck, a mess, and a misfit in so many regards, but a man with "endless ruminations" sounds so much better. Some nights, I don't figure I've got a chance at all in figuring out whatever it is that I need to figure out. Here's to the theory that I'm buying some wisdom by ruminating all the damn time. I sure hope so.

That said/written/blogged, I'm off to bed. I hope I dream about trains.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Depression

Two very interesting articles on depression that I read this week:

Head Case by Louis Menand in The New Yorker and Depression's Upside by Jonah Lehrer in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Friday, February 19, 2010

iPhone apps

My wife and I love our iPhones. So do our kids. Ever since they saw us playing games on our phones, they want to play, too. We should have never let them see that iPhones are cool. Ari loves the glow hockey game (anything hockey is cool with her) and Josh likes Labyrinth. I saw tonight that Kottke linked to a list of good games for kids. I play Madden NFL and the rest of my apps are mostly camera or news related. The big hit for me is Words With Friends.

If you have an iPhone, what are some apps that you think I would like? Extra cool if they're free.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Randomness on the Internet

I don't own a webcam so I haven't visited ChatRoulette yet, but Sam Anderson's piece on it in New York Magazine is a very fun read.

The part that made me laugh out loud:
One person had the courtesy to give me, before disconnecting, a little advice: “too old.” (I’m 32.) A girl with heavy makeup looked terrified when my image popped up on her screen—I actually felt guilty, a few rounds later, when the engine of randomness threw us back together and she had to look at my face for another excruciating half-second.
Poor Sam. I'm forty and would likely get the same reaction from all of those young and cool twenty-somethings who typically use the site. One thing that the writer did like about it was its randomness and lack of filters. You see the face of a fellow user on a webcam and if you aren't interested in chatting, you click "next" never knowing who'll pop up. You might not (except in the above example) ever see the same person twice.

When I first started using the Internet—remember WebTV?—randomness was what it was all about. Message boards and football stat sites, chat rooms and websites that I'd read about in Wired Magazine were among my most visited online destinations. One site (I forget the name) was created solely to take you to random websites at each click of a "next" button.

Now it's just Facebook that everyone is on. In the lobby where I work, I see dozens of business travelers a day working and killing time on their laptops while they break between meetings or wait for business associates or airport shuttles. For the most part, it's just Facebook that I notice on their laptop screens. I met a mature traveler recently who was very serious when making sure with me that her guest room would have wireless Internet service. I assured her that it did and she excitedly remarked that she had been on the road since early that morning and hadn't been able to check her friends' Facebook status updates. I smiled and asked her if she was on Farmville, too. "Yes!," she laughed. "I am so addicted to it."

We use the Internet now with so many filters and feeds, following and friending and sharing and pinging. It's all great and I get a kick out it, too. While I probably won't be making my way over to ChatRoulette anytime soon, I would like to explore beyond the social networks more often and maybe stumble across some of those interesting gems that are surely out there. Now where's that old website that used to do that for me?

Monday, February 08, 2010

"May I assist you with your funny shaped suitcase?"

I'm a bellman. I'm skilled in the art of stacking luggage onto carts and assisting guests to their rooms. I'm good with suitcases of all brands (Briggs & Riley, Lark, Hartman, Samsonite, etc.) and I know just how to handle ice chests and duffle bags, extra pillows, box fans and Kroger bags. The only challenge is sometimes convincing a traveler that my way will probably work out best. They know best how it all fits into the trunk. I know best how it will all fit onto the bellcart. I've dropped two items in fifteen years of doing this. Both times, I was not the person to stack the items.

The first drop was a tin of cookies. It fell from the top and crashed down with a clang onto the marble floor, announcing to the entire lobby that all eyes should be on the bellman. Upon impact, of course, the lid popped off, cookies scattered everywhere, and the aforementioned lid just rolled around comically for what sounded like forever. The second drop was a six-pack of beer that had been added to the cart when I wasn't looking. Right on the edge and ready for exit as soon as I made my first turn. Six bottles of Budweiser on the floor, five of which survived with no damage done. One, however, wasn't as lucky and gave me a nice little mess to clean up. As I recall, the cookie family was pretty cool about it and my tip seemed to arrive unaffected. The Bud drinker also was nice and I remember that she tipped extra generously after we replaced her dropped beers with a six-pack of our own.

On the subject of luggage, I saw a Style Bubble post in Google Reader about some very interesting luggage designs by Sarah Williams, graduate of MA Fashion Artefact. I think I'd enjoy learning how to properly stack some of her elegant work onto a bellcart. Click here to see how they look when opened.


Friday, February 05, 2010

iPhone Post

It's been brought to my attention that I don't blog much anymore. Have
I run out of things to say? Maybe I have.

How are you?