Do It Anyway

My 4 year old, Alistair, he’s got a mind of his own. I mean, I guess all kids his age do, but we’re encountering a kind of superhuman resistance in this little person that my wife and I have not found in our older son, so this is new territory for us.

He’s a kind kid. He always shares his fries.

And he’s creative, often making up songs all on his own to sing to himself while he does puzzles or plays with his action figures.

But he’s particular. Very particular. Everything has an order, a purpose, and he’s not happy when that order meets deviation. He’s got a rigid inflexibility that we, as parents, often see as a bit of a burden.

And then yesterday happened.

Last night, after a quick dinner out before choir practice, my son was methodically and slowly separating our food containers into “trash” and “recyclable,” all while standing over the appropriate receptacles.

He was there so long that a line was forming behind him as adults were waiting to dispose of their own trash. But he just kept going, slowly, painstakingly separating, like some kind of pint-sized Captain Planet.

“Hey buddy,” I said, “these people are waiting to throw things away, too.”

“I’m going fast as I can,” he told me, not even looking up.

At this point the people in line, confusing him for being a cute, innocent eco-warrior, started to chuckle.

And he heard. And this guy, well, he doesn’t suffer fools easily. He’s like his mom in that way.

And he stopped his work, turned and looked at a line of adults, four deep, and said loudly, forcefully, “It’s not funny to laugh at people doing the right thing!”

Tears in his eyes.

They stood in silence. Most went to another trash can.

I looked down at my little guy, wondering how we would ever get that little will to bend.

But this morning I have a different feeling. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to tell him, “Good job, Al.”

Because there will be plenty of people in his future who will laugh at him for doing the right thing, especially when it’s not popular. There’ll be plenty of people who, in their impatience, will encourage him to do a rush job, cut corners, or not put his heart into something.

I hope when he’s mocked for doing the right thing in his life, he does it anyway.

Do it anyway, Al.

I’m starting to think that little will is going to work in his favor, eventually.

And when the world laughs at you for being focused and giving your all to saving what’s important to you, do it anyway.


Lessons on Life from Watching My Son Paint

220px-WatercoloursMy son, my five year old, is in love with water colors.

He sits at his little table, blank page before him, and carefully swirls his brush in the water dish like a chef carefully mixing the batter that will be baked into something good.

And then he dips it in his desired color, the edges of the paint container stained with a menagerie of other colors, and goes to town.

A swish. A splash. A dot.  It’s kind of like what I imagine watching Jackson Pollock paint would be like, but he does it with his tongue out, concentrating. He’s intense.

And then, poof, it’s done.

And I peer down on his page, and he’s only made a small dent on the white space, sometimes no bigger than three nickels worth of area. And yet, “I’m done!” is his proud pronouncement.

And onto the stack it goes. A fresh sheet of paper comes out, and creation begins again.

I’m consistently impressed with how much he lets the canvas speak around the paint.  Or, perhaps, it’s how loudly he lets a little paint speak for itself amidst the blank space surrounding it.

And I can’t tell if it’s because I’m his father or because there’s actually something there, but I think it’s stunning.  And not just the art, but the whole process.

The careful attention to detail.  Knowing when something is done, even when it doesn’t “look done” to any other eye.  Not being concerned that the paints bleed together, imagining that this kind of blending and imperfection is part of the process.

Watching him paint is a study in what it means to be OK with what you produce in life. To call it quits when you’re done.  To not worry about the details, or even the critics, and let something be fully itself.

It’s a study in both minimalism and maximum attention.  He’s not interested in filling the canvas. His concern is to watch and see when it’s completed.  This is at odds with so much in our world today that encourages us to pack every. damn. moment. full of meaning and activity and productivity.

But sometimes the canvas can speak.

A calendar full of unmarked space is not the marks of a boring life.

A few strokes of color are sometimes all that you need to be full.

Why I Sing To My Boys

jason-rosewell-60014Most nights, as the lights go out, my boys will request that I sing them a song.

Not just any song, mind you, but from a catalog of random songs that I’ve sung to them since I first rocked them to sleep the day they were born.

We’ve added a few over the years, but most of these were, from the start, their songs.

The old Civil War era song Cindy Cindy tops the list.  They especially love the verse:

I wish I was an apple

a’hangin’ on a tree

and every time my Cindy passed

she’d take a bite of me!

And then there’s the hymn Abide with Me, a lullaby for the very young, or the very old, to entrust them to the Divine.

They’re also a big fan of I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, which tests my ability to remember multiple verses in a row at breakneck speed.  The faster the better.

And then a little socialist, hippy tune I picked up from my summers romping through Pennsylvania, Calling All the Children Home by John McCutcheon.  They especially love this one because I’ve included their names in the final verse, and they claim I wrote it just for them.

But here’s the thing: I don’t sing to them to get them to fall asleep.

I sing to them so that they’ll sing.

I sing to them so that they know that men sing, and sing well, and sing in public, and sing tender songs as well as fun songs.

Their mom sings to them, too, of course.  Lullaby by the Dixie Chicks is what they ask from her most. And they love it.

Because singing with your children, to your children, not only teaches them that it’s OK to sing, but it also teaches them the amazing thing that happens when you sing to and with someone else: a special bond is formed.

And what has happened because of all this singing?

My five (almost six) year old sings to himself in the shower, and it’s great to hear from outside the door.  He knows the joy of song, and acoustics, and is figuring it all out.

My four year old sings along with every song on the radio, and listening to his voice is one of the most amazing things because it’s so neat to hear him pick up notes and complicated lines at a young age.  He’s learning to try, at least.  And that is something that can’t be taught overnight…it takes a while.  Years of singing.

They ask me to put on my records, and they sit and listen to whole albums.  They not only know how to listen to music and sing along, but they’re starting to appreciate music.  They’ll listen to a song and give an opinion now.

And in a culture where music and the arts are disappearing from classrooms in deference to STEM curriculum, I want them to get this in their bones now so that they’ll be able to do it on their own later.

But, also, I sing to my boys because I like singing.  And just like any parent, I want to share the joy of the art with them, so that they can know what it truly is to be human in this world of growing automation.

I sing to my boys…and you should too. Whether you have the vocal chops of a lark or a loon, sing. Teach them to sing.

Because to be human is to sing.  And it is divine.

Peaceful Parenting: A Primer

20139901_10213944649714098_3852037455228540975_nFirst a disclaimer: I am not always a parent who parents peacefully.

In fact, sometimes I suck at it and absolutely lose it.

But I am trying.  I am trying because I realize that there are a couple of things going on in my sons’ lives and minds at their age (3 and 5).  And I don’t want to romanticize this one bit, but rather just reflect on it.


My boys are trying to figure out their world.

-They’re pushing limits because they need to figure out their physical and emotional space.

-They’re trying understand themselves (like, for instance, why they sometimes feel like crying or shouting or are happy or sick).

-They’re trying to understand themselves in relation to other selves.  What does it mean to have and make friends at the playground, even though we’re there for only an hour?  How do we play well with people we don’t know?

All of the above is part of their development and developing worldview, and so when they don’t act in a way that fits with the way I see the world, I have to do a reality check on myself: they’re trying to figure it out.

Stop expecting them to have it all figured out.

And they’re trying to figure us (we parents) out, too. One day they’ll realize we have no idea what we’re doing…hopefully by then they’ll be too old to care and will have some empathy.

But until then, I have to remember that a lot of my anger is about me, not them.

In other words, so much of my anger and frustration with them has to do with the fact that they are not me.

And until I realize that my reactions to them mirror my own reactions to myself when I behave the way they behave (because we all behave like children sometimes…trust me, I work with people 24/7, I see it daily in adults), I won’t ever evolve as a parent.  When they fuss and cry, part of that is on them, and part of that is on me…because in some ways I teach and reinforce that behavior with the way I react to them.

So what does it mean to parent peacefully?

To me it means two things.

First, you identify limits well. 

Peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting.  Certainly you allow them to feel the way they feel, but you can’t allow them to do whatever they want.  Remember: they’re trying to find limits.  Give them what they’re seeking!

I’m a dad who is pretty good at letting my kids try things they want to try.  They can fall, scrape themselves up, and make new friends on their own without my help.

Which means: I don’t follow them around on the playground equipment.  And if you’re a parent who does this, and your child doesn’t specifically need your help (and there are absolutely some children who need assistance playing…I get that), but if they don’t need you to be up there, get off.

The reason my kid isn’t playing with your kid is probably because you’re there. Get the hell outta there.  Seriously.

Peaceful parenting means setting limits, like allowing the kid to have the ability to explore on their own.  In this case you’re the one who follows the limits as much as they do.

But, they can’t wander off.  I talk about physical boundaries all the time with the boys, and they largely respect them.  Finn will always come back home to tell me if he’s going into a neighbor’s home (which is why I can’t see him on the street).

These limits: knowing what is their space, and knowing what is beyond their space, gives them so much freedom and peace.  Give it to them. Give them what they want, in this case.

And limits around their time are important, too.  There is a time for TV, a time for independent play, a time for together play, a time to bathe, and a time to be awake and be asleep.  I’m not suggesting that you parse out their day in such a structured way, but allowing kids the peace of knowing “what time it is” has become an important thing in our house.

Sometimes it is time where we can watch TV, and sometimes it is time where the TV is off, but the record player can be on.  Sometimes it is time where we can be messy, and sometimes it is time to keep clean because we’re going somewhere.

Set good limits, and freedom within those limits. They have choices within whatever time it is: what to play with, where to play, what to watch, etc.

For instance, before bedtime, we’ll sometimes give them a choice after bath (which is never a choice on bath nights): “Do you want to watch a part of a show, or would you rather read two books?”  And when we’ve had enough TV for the day and that’s not one of the options, choosing the books is an option.

And choice brings me to the second hallmark of parenting peacefully.

But first, a quick note about screens: we (my wife and I) are making the decision to limit the kinds of screens the kids have access to. I don’t know if this is right or wrong, it’s just what we’re going with. No iPads (heck, we don’t have the money for that mess), no computer access…they’re young still, and computers are certainly their future, but I want their brains to develop in a way that allows for critical thinking and a sense of chronos, not immediate gratification.

Also, and this is something parents need to start taking seriously, screens are increasingly the way that kids get exposed to adults that you don’t know; much more likely than letting them play outside by themselves or even ride their bikes alone around the neighborhood.  Wise-up, parents.

For long car rides, we bring books and toys and stories on the radio. I’m not judging you if you don’t, I’m just saying that we think there are other options that might be better.

Ok, on to that second thing…

Secondly, don’t yell, ask.

Lordy, this is tough.  But it usually works.

51Yb6gvrQIL._SX478_BO1,204,203,200_When the kids aren’t doing what I want, or if they’re crying and throwing a fit, my wife and I will try to first engage using a tactic from one of our favorite books (In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek).  In fact, we use this so often, that we make it a point to read this book pretty regularly so that the kids have some shared vocabulary.

When they’re pitching a fit, we’ll often ask, “Tell me how your heart feels.”

This does two things, I’m finding:

-First, it provides for a shared vocabulary with the kids.  It “touches base” with them, creating a construct for conversation that they can identify with.  It’s like a touchstone, something that provides something that they can grasp in a moment when they feel particularly out of control.  They know that in their response we’ll both understand what they’re saying. So much of fit-throwing is two humans talking over each other.

-Secondly, it makes me lead with my heart instead of my anger.  Even if they’re just upset because they can’t have what they want, I need to remember that they are trying to figure out this world, and they are trying to figure out themselves in relation to their desires and wishes (no matter how trivial they are).

After we discuss their heart, I like to give them choices that acknowledges exactly where they are.  This will sound pedantic to adults, but trust me, it works (and, be honest, when you are pitching your own little fit, having someone acknowledge your feelings is the first step to regaining your own chill, right?).

So, I say, “Dude, I hear you don’t want to go to bed.  When you grow up, you’ll probably stay up all night, right?  But right now, it’s bedtime. Do you want me to carry you up, or do you want to walk up on your own?”  Or I’ll say, “I get that you don’t want to take a bath, but you stink to high heaven, buddy.  So do you want bath paints or a bath pod tonight (which turns the water a color)?”

If they have no choice, give a choice within the choice.

And sometimes it works.  Most times even.

But, let’s say that I’m really ticked off because, let’s face it: kids are jerks sometimes.  They don’t mean to be (usually), and don’t want to be (usually), but they are.

Kind of like you and me.

So instead of yelling and saying, “This is the fifth time I’ve asked you to do this!  Why can’t you listen?! Why can’t you do what you’re told?!” Or the more adult version, “What the hell, guys?! Get it together!”

By the way, let’s analyze that first statement.  Because I’ve said it, but I don’t in the moment always get what they’re hearing.  In that statement, what I really mean is: “I’ve got an agenda, and I need you to get on my agenda, and why the hell can’t you just do that?! You’re not good at that!”

Is that what I mean to say?  No. In asking them to get ready, I’m intending for the benefit to be felt by everyone, them and me.  But my frustrated remarks only identify me as the good party, and them as the bad party.

So, instead of saying that, what I try to say now is: “I’m upset that you’re not ready.  I need you to be ready because you have to get to school and that’s important.  Let’s see who can get dressed first. Go!”

And if that doesn’t even work, I’ll go farther: “Look guys, I’m really upset. I’m stomping my feet kind of upset, because you both are good at following directions, you’re choosing not to right now.  I need you to choose to follow directions so that we can be on time.”

Now parents, let me be frank: yelling and saying what I said above usually take about the same amount of time.  It is difficult to motivate the unmotivated.  So why bother?  Unleashing my anger is easier, right?

Easier. But not better.  For them or me.  I usually just feel frustrated that I’m not a better parent, and sad for them because they had to spend the morning being yelled at by an adult that they coaxed into acting like a baby because they’re still babies.

And if time isn’t a factor, then I want to go with the better option if I can keep it together.

Because here’s the thing: I need to raise peace-loving kids.  In a culture that is growing increasingly dualistic (bad/good and right/wrong and black/white thinking), we need to raise kids with better and more expansive grounding, who understand themselves not because they’ve been verbally hit and helicopter parented, but because they’ve had good limits and the space to explore their inner-selves.

And anger is not the opposite of peace, but violence is.  I can be angry and not be violent.

They need to know that so that they, too, can be angry and not be violent.  In all ways.  And I think this is where some of that learning starts.

It’s a work in progress, though. And I suck at it much of the time.  But we’re trying.

We all should try.

For Alistair, On Your Birthday…

Hey Buddy,

You’re three now. That means lots of things, not the least of which is your continued education regarding toilet hygiene…gotta perfect the potty, dude.

But for your dad here it also means you’re getting too big pretty fast. I’m impressed by your brains…only 3 year old I know who loves puzzles and games like you do. And while I’m not impressed by your temper, we’ll eventually learn to harness that for the good of the world.

But even though you’re only three, I want to clue you into some truths that I think you should know, and that even adults often forget. Ready?

You’re beautiful and broken. Like we all are. You don’t need a trophy for just existing, but know that I’m proud of you every time you really try, especially when you try stuff you’re not good at and keep with it. You don’t have to be perfect, just try to be present. And you never deserve better than anyone else, but you never deserve to put up with crap, either. Love others and love yourself and get out on the field. Got it?

Speaking of sports metaphors: the world needs compassionate people more than it needs athletes. Not that you can’t be both, but if you asked me today what I hope for you it would be, more than anything, that you are kind. This broken world needs healers, not winners. Because when you heal, everyone wins.

Also: you get to be yourself, buddy. Other than respectful and kind and loving, I want you to let your creative self run wild in this world. I’m not always gonna love your hair color, but good on you for using it while you have it (a mistake I made).

But don’t get all worked up about your looks. Love your body, but don’t worship it…no one else is.

Don’t let your ego run away with your heart.

Don’t let your brains run away with your sense of humor.

Crude jokes don’t make you funny.

Sit beside people sitting by themselves. They often make the best friends.

The only person you can make fun of is yourself. Everyone else is off limits. And don’t make friends with people who make fun of others…eventually they will make fun of you.

Feel the feels, but don’t always let your emotions plot the journey. Center yourself, big guy, in a love that is bigger than yourself, in a peace that permeates all things.

Addiction runs in the family, so guard yourself on excesses. The world will not help you here…it will always push you toward more of most everything. But none of it will make you better, only blurrier or bigger or badder or madder.

Pray with your shoes on. Be willing to be the answer to people’s prayers, and be willing to do the work to get to the places where the need is great.

Vote your heart and your conscience. Don’t fall for Party traps and false dichotomies. Pay attention to how the candidates look after the least of these in society. And if no one is looking after them, you should…and then run for office.

Oh: and any candidate who claims to be “Christian” is probably just after a vote. Be wary of people who fly that flag too high.

Half-priced hang-gliding lessons aren’t worth the savings. Just remember that.

Give your life away continually to things that are deserving of it: good causes, loving people, a life of service, a partner or family.

But then again, don’t think that you need to get married and have kids to live a full life. Plenty of things in this world deserve our hearts, so don’t fold to the status quo of societal pressures.

Oh, that reminds me: the status isn’t quo. Make that your mantra.

Today you’re three. Tomorrow you’re thirty. I know how this works. So I’m going to start telling you all this now in the hopes that you might learn it all early.

And always remember: I am glad you exist.


Cold Coffee Confidential

Making homemade cold coffee is easy peasy lemon squeezy. There are only a few reasons I can think of for why you wouldn’t.

1) You hate saving money ($3.50+ for over-iced, burnt-flavored water)

2) You hate cold coffee (in which case we can’t be friends)

3) You’re intimidated and don’t know where to start.

For reasons 1 and 2, I can’t help you, and you are possibly beyond help. But if you suffer from that last one…I got you, buddy.

Cold coffee is just a few steps (and 26 hours) away. That’s the only downside: you need some lead time. But all good things require some lead time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, your garden doesn’t just pop up in a week, and your dreams don’t just come true in the snap of your fingers…if they do, dream bigger.

Alright, here are the esssential steps:

1) Grab yourself a large container. If you have little Hobbits in the house like we do, best to make it kid resistant (aka it bounces not breaks).

2) Get 6 cups of cold water. Not hot water, cold water. Hot water has already gone through some heating elements which changes the flavor…you don’t want that.

Ignore the bag on the table.

3) Pour water in the container, and scoop 5(ish) heaping tablespoons of ground coffee in there. Add more or less depending on the roast and how you like your coffee. And pro-tip: I always suggest you grind your own coffee, hot or cold.  It just tastes better.

Notice the pinky finger position…critical to a spill-proof pour.

4) Make sure the grounds get wet. Really wet. Like, no-hope-floats wet. Stir it, shake it, get it mixed.

Note to self: return those library books.

5) Seal it up and put it in a safe place…like on your counter. Don’t overthink it, you Enneagram type 1’s.

6) Wait 24 hours and be productive with your life.

7) After 24 hours, grab yourself a pitcher and a small wired sieve and pour it through, catching those grounds. Pro-tip: coffee grounds can be reused in tons of ways. If you’re like, “What kind of wire-sieve are you talking abou?” just look below and take a gander at ours.  And if you’re like, “Uhm, that’s a strainer, Brown,” well you can keep your opinion to yourself.

Also: if you’re pretentious you can use cheese cloth (lookin’ at you, Ina…just joking, I love you and all your Hamptons awesomeness).

You say strainer, I say sieve.

8) Stick the filtered cold coffee in the fridge for at least two hours to chill through. If you were really smart you would have made some coffee ice cubes with yesterday’s hot coffee. Did you think of that? Never too late, friend.

9) Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

It’s as easy as that folks. And really, it doesn’t take 9 steps, I’m just imagining you’re a simpleton. Which actually, I appreciate in directions. Please always assume I’m dumber than I am because you’ll be correct half the time.

Got a good recipe? A better one? Share it below. We beg, borrow, and steal in this life.

And when it comes to the kitchen, just remember what my Dad always said,

“If you can read, you can cook.”

So get (cold coffee) cookin’!


-6 cups water

-5(ish) heaping tablespoons of coffee grounds

-Time (26 hours)

“What to Say When Your Kid is Worried They’re Different” or “Pirate Talk”

This morning, my four-year old Finn wasn’t sure if he wanted to dress up like a pirate for Pirate Day at summer camp.  Wardrobe decisions must be tough for four year olds because we went back and forth on this all morning.  He needs to take some cues from these folks.

Finally, we decided to dress like a pirate, and though we’re confused as to why pirate pants aren’t cuffed (“Why do my pants have holes and rips in them?”), it was a general success.

As we pulled in to the parking lot at summer camp, up pipes a voice from the backseat:

“Dad, am I different?”

“What do you mean, buddy?” I asked.

“Am I different?” he says.

“Well, do you want to be different?  Daddy is different in lots of ways…” I said, trying to throw myself under the same bus he’s worried about being under.

After thinking it through he said, “Yes. I want to be dressed like a pirate.

Finny Pirate

That’s different.”

“Yes, that is different,” I affirmed.

“But I’m still the same me on the inside.  I’m still me, right?” he said with a mixture of confidence and questioning.

“Yes, buddy. You’ll always be you.”

At which point two-year old Al screams, “I DON’T WANT TO BE A PIRATE!”

“…you don’t have to be, buddy.  We can all just be ourselves here.”

I’d say our first discussion on being different and finding identity in the world went pretty well…

Running to Soft Rock

imagesI’ve started running again.  It is predictably unpleasant.

I know some people like running.  Some get a “runner’s high.”  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that.  Mostly I just imagine people who run long distances are already high on something…

Some people put a lot of thought into their running.  They have special shoes, special shorts, and a special playlist to keep them motivated.  It usually takes me so long to get up the energy to actually go run that everything else about it is an afterthought.  I wear mesh shorts. I wear my neon green Nike shoes (and socks if I remember them in my gym bag).  And I put Pandora on my iPhone.

This last week when I walked into the cardio room, I set my eyes on the treadmill without anyone nearby.  If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I kind of sweat (read: sweat cascades down my arms and chest like Queensland Falls).  The movement of my arms makes the sweat fling off my elbows.  I think it’s gross and it’s my sweat.  I try not to run near people.

But, of course, the moment I step onto the treadmill, the dude who still wears friendship bracelets gets on the treadmill next to me.

Note: he was wearing the friendship bracelet on his ankle.  I am unclear how far down the friendship totem pole you have to be to get the handmade bracelet you made for your friend relegated to the foot, but I digress…

Anyway, I had no other option, so it was going to be me and Friendship Bracelet running in tandem tonight.

I set my iPhone to play my “Classic Rock” Pandora channel.  I love it.  CCR, KISS, the Stones, Hendrix.  They all danced in my ears for the first mile.

Well, sort of.  It always takes a minute or two for my iPhone to find the signal in the gerbil cage that is the cardio room at the gym.  So they danced for about 3/4 of a mile.  That first quarter the only thing that danced was my hand waiving the phone in the air trying to get a signal like I was helping to land a plane.

I looked over at Friendship Bracelet to see if he was paying attention to my waving, but thankfully he was engrossed in untangling his earbuds.  This was the second time I pitied him (the first was for wearing that bracelet)…nothing tangles quite like earbuds.  It’s hard enough to run, but try running while doing a puzzle.  That’s what those first few moments of starting the treadmill before the earbuds are untangled are like.  It’s like Sudoku for your fingers.

Anyway, Classic Rock comes on, I’m jamming, I’m sweating, all is well.

But see, when I get to running I also get to being bored.  Which is generally my biggest issue with running: it’s boring.

So, at about the first mile, I take my phone and go to my Pandora station options.  I won’t be going for George Winston.  I won’t be going for Lady Gaga, either…though that station is always tempting. No; we’re going to test ourselves tonight.

I boldly turn to my “Soft Rock” station.

I know what you’re thinking.  “You have a Soft Rock station on Pandora?”  Frankly, yes.  I have an eclectic taste in music.  And I happen to have a knack for memorizing lyrics. I also tend to like things that are schmaltzy…because I think that’s funny.  And because I like touching things that aren’t too cutesy.  I don’t care for those motivational kitten posters, but that McDonald’s add at Christmastime where Ronald convinces the young kid not to run away from home?  Man…there’s a story there…

See?  Yeah, that’s me.  In that sense I fit the demographic box for the Soft Rock/Easy Listening audience.

I do not fit the Soft Rock/Easy Listening demographic in the sense that I am not my mother.

So at mile 1.3 I start my journey with the sounds of Bertie Higgins and Key Largo, smiling my butt off as I mouth (a little too dramatically) “Here’s lookin’ at you kid…”  And in that moment I didn’t feel my wobbly legs or my taxed lungs, but was whisked away to Key Largo where I nestled my toes in the sand and breathed the easy, salty air of tropical Florida.

And then I recall doing air drums. Lots of air drums. To Dan Seals and John Ford Coley’s I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.  If you listen to that song (and you should…watch the video for the mustaches alone…) you’ll notice that there aren’t a whole lot of drums.  But the ones that are there…oh the ones that are there…they deserve air drums.  Friendship Bracelet didn’t seem to care.

And I don’t remember which artist was next or how many songs later it happened, but at about mile two old-school Michael Bolton came on.  I’m talking mullet-in-the-back-nothing-on-top-button-up-shirt-with-a-bejeweled-stud-instead-of-a-tie Bolton.  And he started asking this question about how people can be lovers if they can’t be friends.  And I think it’s a really good question.  And although I know he means it as a hypothetical, I think it deserves an answer.  And for about four minutes my mind wandered through the relationship woes of a couple who can’t start over because the fighting never ends.

A fascinating psychological journey through the heart and soul of love.

And I know there were others in the mix, but I want to take you to the end of this run right now because blog posts should be less and not more, and the ending is really the apogee of the post.

Because all of a sudden Rod Stewart’s Forever Young came on. The unplugged version.

And I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, there was a version that was plugged in?”

Yes. The original.  No more questions.

Anyway, we’re waiting on baby number two and have this great little 21 month old at home who cracks me up every day and as Stewart’s words fall like a benediction upon my ears all I can think of is my little guy with cornsilk hair who will not be forever young and this new little one about to be born.

And I know we hit three miles because the treadmill stopped (why ever run more than three miles?).  But that’s the only way I knew we hit that mile marker because by this point I was openly weeping while running and couldn’t even see the treadmill dashboard anymore.

I didn’t wait around for Friendship Bracelet to grab me a tissue.  I wiped off my machine and ran like Napoleon Dynamite to the lockerroom.

And may you, dear reader, be dignified and true and remain ever young.

And may you also never dare to listen to Soft Rock while running.  It’s not worth the (emotional) pain.

How To Guide: “How Do You Become a Scooter Rider a Scooter in Chicago?”

Do not call this your “whip.” Ever. It is not.

In this series I’ll take a look at the “how to’s” of things you always wondered but never verbalized.

Five steps to riding a scooter in Chicago

1. Become a d-bag.

*While it may be true that not all scooter riders in Chicago are d-bags, this is the best way to ensure that you will qualify to ride a scooter here.  There are non-d-bag riders; for sure.  But they’re few and far between. *

**It should also be noted that, if you don’t know what a “d-bag” is, rest assured it’s something you don’t want to be.  But you might be, so…**

2. Buy a scooter in a “retro” color (like Seafoam Green)

*It should be noted that most riders that choose traditional colors are not d-bags*

**It should also be noted that it is not always true that most riders that choose traditional colors are not d-bags**

3. Buy an obnoxiously large helmet…much too large for your head.

*This helps with shifting weight, allowing you to go around corners on your scooter that has as much umph as a rototiller*

4. Buy a satchel

*It will carry your dignity for you.  All the scooter riders have them.*

5. Sell your scooter for cash to pay for rent because no one will hire you when you drive to the job interview on a scooter.

*Full circle*


…it should be noted that I kind of want a scooter.

My Kid Doesn’t Respect My DVD’s: Living with a One Year Old

We live with a bundle of cells that is now quite mobile.  And apparently he has an opinion about how we’ve structured our household items.escient-fireball se-d1-80-dvd-mess

He generally thinks they are organized improperly.

For instance, recently he’s taken to organizing our DVD’s.

I’ve taken to being irritated about it.

You might say everyone is in their respective camps…

What’s that?  “Who has DVD’s anymore?” you ask?

I do.  They’re going to make a come back, you know.  Like records.  And as soon as you all figure out that cable companies are actually stealing your life (and your brain), and that they’re sucking information about your habits and preferences and then selling them back to you in the form of fliers in your mail, spam in your inbox, and “ads” in your news feed, you’ll go back to DVD’s, too.

Because the only person who can tell if I’ve watched one of our DVD’s is my wife.

Usually because it’s either a) not put back in the box and still in the DVD player (we have one of those, too, although you have to blow in it to get it to run…like a Nintendo Entertainment System…but whatev, it works) or b) it’s stacked on top of another DVD in a different box that was closer in proximity to the empty case at the time it was removed from the DVD player.

But, see, that’s my organizing system.

And now we have this little bundle of cells called Finn crawling around and rearranging everything, including my DVD’s.

And it’s super frustrating for both of us.  For him it’s frustrating because they don’t open like books…so when one doesn’t open, he goes to the next one expecting a different result.  One day life will teach him a valuable lesson about repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results (can’t remember what you call that, but there’s a word for it), but until then…

I just lost my train of thought.

Anyway, he’ll learn he shouldn’t do that one day.

It’s frustrating for me because I’m now going out of my mind cleaning up DVD cases every two damn minutes.

It’s probably why I’m always losing my train of thought these days.  I’m sleep deprived because I’m constantly cleaning up DVD’s.

It has gotten so bad that I’m not even that pissed that one DVD series is mixed into a different one (and that they’re not even remotely in the same genre).  Normally that would be irritating.  But I don’t even find that so irritating anymore.

I’m just generally pissed that they’re all over the floor.

Again. Perpetually.

Having a kid means constantly living in the movie Groundhog’s Day. I continually step on things over and over and over again.  Especially toys.

But it’s always the same toy: that damn tambourine.  And no matter how far I kick it, it somehow migrates back to right in the middle of the hallway outside of his room.

It hides in the dark, playing it’s own little version of The Most Dangerous Game.

(My toes are the prey…)

And that of course wakes him up, which means I have to go into his room and pat his diaper for ten minutes (which, ironically, makes the same noise as like when you wave a pom pom, kinda like you’re cheering him to sleep: “Yay, quiet!  Soooo quiet!”).

And then after ten minutes I sneak back out and step back on that blasted tambourine…and, well, crap.

I’m not a neat freak.  Anyone who has seen my office knows this.  But even I don’t think a valid organizational method is “all on the floor.”

And, yes, I know he’s not thinking like that.  His major mental task for the day seems to be finding new crevices to hide cheerios in (seriously, every time I lift him out of the high chair it’s like a deluge of food comes cascading onto the floor in some “miracle of abundance” demonstration).

But still…if we’re naming things he’s good at, in no particular order:


-staring closely at buttons and zippers

-eating and going to the bathroom

-letting us know he’s unhappy/happy/tired/hurt/excited/confused by screaming

Things he’s not good at:

-organizing DVD’s

-picking up toys

-prying off the tops of non-domestic beer bottles

-brushing his own teeth (though he does like to have it done)

I’d go through my own list of talents/growing edges, but this blog has gone on long enough.  Suffice to say, the kid sucks at organizing things.

Especially DVD’s.

And that’s disheartening because, well, they’ll be his one day and he needs to know that The Office does not belong in the West Wing rack (though I can see how he could be confused about that…offices are confusing).