Monday, November 29, 2010


Standing in front of the fireplace watching what happens when you burn a piece of rasberry gum, and a Q-tip.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One long blues.

Monday, you usually start on Sunday, but you didn't this time.

When everything gets heavy
your nerves pull tight like strings
getting plucked by every such thing

Tuesday was bills, bills, bills, bills, bills and bad news.

Bills and bad news
Bills and bad news
Bills and Bad. News.

Wednesday I was riding on the wingtips of a holiday.

Work was slow
Nothing to get sewn up
The bills were not so bad

Thursday was the holiday, coasting with no brakes.

Plates and bowls,
spoons, forks
toys left behind, kids gone.

Friday, you and me we were mean old motherfuckers, we.

Wandering in aisles
try don't think of Christmas but
Christmas keeps on howling

Saturday the goats was locking horns angry and young.

Butt heads. Make up.
into movie theater darkness

Monday started Sunday. Tomorrow is way too soon, too soon.

But when everything gets tight
you can play your nerves like strings
thanks be to Jesus for the way they sing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Elizabeth stole the picture that was supposed to be my post so instead I'll just report that today we were both in rotten moods, but then we made sandwiches and went to see Harry Potter and the Giblets of Dismay and ate popcorn and things started looking up.

She sank my battleship.

We lit a fire and played the kids' Battleship game. I plonked bombs futilely into the ocean in a narrowing circle growing increasingly frustrated while she just calmly picked my ships off one by one. We have different ways of looking at life, not just at games, and her way pretty much always wins.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010

I can't breathe because my diaphragm is jacked up into my chest and my intestines, packed as they are with food, are punishing me with merciless gas. So I go for a token walk to feel I have had some exercise. Air goes in and out of the lumbering sack of dough that I have become. The dog's paws go shush shush shush in the snow and her shadow looks like a wolf shadow. The trees bending around the shape of the road make a tunnel. The moon is a tapas dish of flan with one bite taken out. The cold air makes the lungs feel like they are working again. I try to strike from my mind the knowledge, taught to me by the treadmill, that what feels like such good exercise will only burn around 15 calories.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trip to New York for my brothers' wedding, 11/16 to 11/21/10

I've posted a lot of pictures and notes in the next several posts. Some of the pictures are bad, grainy shots of kids eating bagels in the back of the car, but will serve my own memory. Others are pretty. The pretty ones are dedicated to my Mom, who made the trip possible and furnished many of these memories including providing extensive transportation by car, ferry, train and plane. Thank you Mom.
Montauk Point
Ferry ride
Ambrose at Mom's house loving up the kitten.
Got to admit, these are all pictures of my time with the boys and the big omission is much about the actual wedding, my brother, our lives together and his new wife. There weren't many picture taking opportunities for the wedding parts. My brother knows I expressed my feelings about him at other points though, thankfully not captured in the blog because I'd be embarrassed (I did a Best Man speech). You're the best man Eath, and I love you too.


First plane trip with the boys in a long time. These first pictures really only capture how tired we were at 5:00 in the morning, not the way the kids shot out of bed at 4 or gasped over the view from the window.

At one point Ambrose being who he is sat on a bagel. Ezra being who he is we laughed.

I am a master of packing activities for kids, it's one of my strengths. I brought toys, games, notebooks to draw in and a lot of candy. I still relish the amount of happiness they get out of these kid things. The feeling seeing them play with toys (having to quiet Ambrose down frequently and prevent him tumbling on the floor and kicking seats) is made poignant, warm and wounded in my chest, by the thought of them growing older and not doing this anymore. I try to stay in the moment. Many sense of that on this trip, seeing their wonder at the beach, aquarium, city and museum.

Throwing up is funny. He didn't really get sick. We're just laughing at the possible misfortune of others as we, conversely, enjoyed flying very much.

Tuesday afternoon.

It was just me and the boys Tuesday afternoon. I took them to West Meadow Beach.

Parents out there will agree; you can easily go overboard with pictures of kids at the beach. We had a few hours to kill and we spent at least two of them here. They didn't want to leave.
I took the boys to Port Jefferson, where I was born, and where they could see the ferry.

My dad also used to take me to see the "ships and boats" in Port Jeff on our weekends together.

Ocean of circumstance.

Buddhists say, if you tossed a wooden ring into the ocean, it is as likely that a turtle swimming beneath the water would, in surfacing for air, put his head through that ring as it is that a soul would attain human birth. At one point in this visit the kids got a sense of the chance of their own existence.

In addition to taking the kids to Port Jefferson where they began to get a sense of the Sound and the sea I took them to Stony Brook University where I went to college and we drove through the campus getting a sense for the size of it. Later I'd show them my kindergarten and elementary school, and my mom took us by the first house I lived in. I remember being fascinated by my parents' histories and the story of my birth. I also took the boys to see the place where their parents met (the Borders Books in Stony Brook).

The boys' mother is from South Dakota and had come to LI for a nanny job as a chance to live in New York. The family she worked for lived in Miller Place virtually around the corner from my mother's house, where I grew up. The nanny family had a neighbor her age, who she became friends with. He is a singer and had studied voice with my stepdad. I didn't live in that area anymore so it's odd we met completely outside of these connections. I lived an hour West. I'd driven to Borders that afternoon to meet my friend who was playing music in the cafe. He had just met the boys' mom there and introduced us.

When we went to Borders (which ended up being a chance for the kids not just to learn about their personal histories but to ask me to buy them shit) Ezra at one point wondered aloud about what he would look like if his mom hadn't met me that day and had met someone else instead. I reminded him if that were the case he would not exist. I could see that sinking in. When people meet by chance instead of through mutual relationships and later have kids, the meaning behind that Buddhist maxim seems especially poignant. Part of the meaning, anyway.

In the context of other Buddhist ideas the real purpose of the example is to remind people to celebrate their lives, and to realize the opportunity not just to have a great time while they're in this world but leave it a better place. As I watched my kids playing beside the ocean this week, however, I found it hard not to think they were meant to be.

Pizza, bagels, diners.

Ambrose's teacher suggested he keep a journal comparing Minnesota and New York.
Enough to fill a book. We decided to focus on food. At some point I have to edit together the interviews I did with Ambrose comparing pizza, bagels and burgers. New York won every time.

Apologies to my brother for this deranged picture, and thanks to him for picking us up Tuesday and taking us right to Luigi's.

The kids' first bagels on the way to the Aquarium. They talked about these all week.

Greco Americana.

Riverhead aquarium.

After ushering me through a crash visit to Kohl's for kids' wedding clothes, decisively picking out handsome outfits while I wandered around hand-wringing (shopping decisions overwhelm me), my mom took us to Riverhead aquarium. It was one of those days of wonder for the kids and for the adults.
I took masses of pictures of sharks.

Traveling between the fins.

My mom drove us all to the North Fork so we could take the ferry to Shelter Island, then from there to the South Fork, and then to Montauk.

Shelter Island is a piece of cozy history on a tiny rock. If you drive through the Hamptons and ignore the boutiques you come away with the impression of windmills and box-shaped houses bleached by the sun and the sea. What the boys commented on most this trip was the beach. We came away with pounds of rocks which had to be tucked into corners of suitcases to come home (some of them, too big to travel, were hidden and can end up in my Mom's garden).

Where the world ends, or where it begins?

If you're heading East across the United States, this is pretty much the end of the line.
If you're from here and your ancestors came here however, it's really where it all begins.