Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Greetings.

Atheists:            Have a happy godless universe with no rules
Buddhists:          Have nothing
Catholics:           Feel guilty about having something
Protestants:       Feel slightly guilty about having something
Episcopalians:    Have a watered-down version of Catholic Christmas, minus as much of the guilt and even
                         if you are gay
Evangelicals:      Have no shame about having lots of things: God wants you to make lots of money (and
                         I can show you how)
Scientologists:    Have a happy Maiden Voyage Anniversary**
New Agers:        Have a solstice-gathering, or a drum circle, or burn some sage, or whatever you
                         picked out of context from the latest bestseller by "Starhawk"
Occupiers:         Have a drum circle, minus the hair-washing and much sense of a carefully-defined
                         political agenda
Republicans:      Have a good old-fashioned American Christmas goddamnit. What's wrong with a little tradition?
Super Right-
Wing Repub-
licans:                Have a Merry CHRISTMAS. That's CHRIST. MAS. Period.
Democrats:        Have a happy Cultural Exchange Day, fostering dialogue between people-of-faith
                         of diverse traditions in a non-judgmental but slightly patronizing manner
Ultra-Liberal
Left-Wingers:    Same as the Occupiers, but more bathing, and a Prius, which is actually pretty
                        expensive for someone claiming to abhor material wealth,
                        as are those gluten-free organic cookies you got at the co-op
And for
those of
us in
Minnesota:         Have a moderate expression of albeit stoic good cheer, and enjoy the weather

*Each year the annual Maiden Voyage event, commemorating the anniversary of New OT VIII, has come to be one of the most important gatherings of dedicated Scientologists and an opportunity for senior Church officials to meet and work directly with these parishioners to advance their religion. Scientologists who attend this annual spiritual cruise become “OT Ambassadors” and initiate programs to help Scientologists all over the world advance the aims of Scientology and to reach the top of the Bridge at New OT VIII."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Alligator!

Now the trip is truly complete. And yet we have another whole day.

Incongruous

On the same day we hiked through a nature preserve and saw two alligators sunning themselves, we walked through historic Charleston SC and saw perfectly preserved colonial homes lining narrow streets, cannons, and battleships. Wherever we are there's the smell of the sea always hinting.

And yesterday we saw dolphins.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Savannah

Assorted shots, a few with captions.
Courtyard of a house converted to a museum. There were slave quarters in another section.
I was overwhelmed with opportunities to take pictures of architectural details. They won't translate into film. In person, there's something to see almost at every turn.

The seemingly quieter, residential streets are stacked closely to busier districts with taller buildings. The city is compressed. So you have tall buildings like this around the corner from a tree-shaded street. Even the tall buildings are interesting. There were few examples of boring cold-war architecture.
Lots of ghosts when you visit certain parts of the South, ghosts and voodoo. I'm in heaven. Or, purgatory?


There are Christmas decorations and music everywhere. I think people in hot climates overcompensate a bit. It's a bit incongruous and beautiful: many of the stately homes had lights twinkling in the windows.

This was a very narrow block of buildings and shops lined up in a row by the river. The previous picture was of an inn on this row. The whole city reminds me of Europe, but especially this bit for some reason.
These apartment dwellers have a carousel horse stuck to their terrace, and I like that.
The doors of a historic church. My lady expressing cuteness of historic proportions.

This Spanish Moss overhangs everything. It ages everything you see. It softens all the edges.





This house was green.
This was in the colonial graveyard. I will say more about graveyards later.
I tried hard to take pictures capturing the feeling of this street and failed. The town homes are very tall, and the streets very narrow, and the Live Oaks and Spanish Moss hang over everything, so the streets are very dark and quiet. The lights in windows make you wonder what kind of interesting rich people live inside. Note this house looks a lot like the Mercer house from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. We will go back and see that actual house soon. We watched that movie again by the way, in between two visits to Savannah. The second visit was changed by having seen the movie again.



A little courtyard next to someone's house.


This building (the picture above is another angle) is pink.
In the same neighborhood is the Crystal Beer Parlor. A friend told me she had the best hamburger of her life there. I concur. On the left bottom you will see a glass of sweet tea. I have spent this entire trip completely jacked on this beverage. It is so much more than adding sugar to ice tea, where it never really dissolves. I think they also add baking soda to give it a smooth experience going down. This restaurant has been around since the '30s. All old wood, lots of old pictures, our waiter had the best Georgia accent yet. We had fried green tomatoes and the "Famous" burger, and onion rings.

I don't really get the finger that often, so take this more as a depiction of the goofy camaraderie we're sharing on this trip. As always, there is humor, and much of it foul. I love you babe!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bluff

Today I am learning about what's true or not. Palmetto Bluff: Behind a fake plantation we found a real cemetery.
(They are all dogs).
When we showed up at the place where we're staying (Coral Sands Resort in Hilton Head) there was a problem with the water in the unit that had been reserved for us... We're sorry, they said. We'll have to upgrade you. I am now sitting in a full-sized living room with sliding doors opening on a terrace overlooking the pool. I had brie for breakfast, and if you knew what I paid for this trip, you would punch me right in the throat. Somebody special hooked us up big time.

Friday, December 09, 2011

I'm back... But I got to go.

Getting on a plane to Savannah, GA with my lady. Plan to update soon with details of this week-long trip, and then get in the habit of updating again in general.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hollywood: Is this some kind of game?

I'm very excited, because the producers of Real Steel have announced pre-production of a Hungry Hungry Hippos adaptation! There's also rumor of a Connect Four spinoff, which I hear is really a family drama about sibling rivalry. Don't take your kids to the upcoming Twister though. That one is a porn.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Everyone deserves a second chance

Hi guys, remember this? I ran that half marathon for kids in Africa. I know those of you that didn't get a chance to contribute felt just awful about it.

It's not too late!.

I'm running a full marathon now, for the same charity, WorldVision. If you want to go and give $1 to $5 to $50 visit my page here: http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/General?px=1178465&pg=personal&fr_id=1431

So you've got a second chance to give someone else a second chance. It only takes $50 to provide clean water to a human being for the rest of his or her life.....

OK! No more fundraising.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Son is Weird

Ezra H, age 10, lies on the couch, benchpressing watermelons, and then makes you feel his arms---swearing his muscles have grown already.

Ezra decided to break the world record for fastest clapping. The practicing is torture.

Ezra also practices card tricks. He's pretty good, but even good magicians are always a bit off, aren't they?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I passed two of the hardest parts of that acupuncture test, and I failed two. (I have a chance to take those over). In the middle, it was turning out to be so hard. I really thought I was failing all of it. I got onto the floor and started cursing at, whoever it was. Some spirits. The Taoist Immortals I imagine floating around my head with giant fingernails and long black hair pulled into top knots; waist-length fu manchu mustaches. The assholes that I ask for help. I'll be honest, I kind of... cried. Abject, airy, keening gasps. But I passed that part of that test.

This is happening a lot lately, bad things turning out good. E.g., I was all sick thinking I was going to lose $500 today (long story) and I didn't. Because somebody nice bent the rules for me. Apple replaced my phone even though my warrantee was up; the button was sticking. It was awful. My thumb hurts. Now I know it will get better.

But the test, I feel like I'm getting closer. I can almost see it. Not just to practicing something I've been abstractly studying for four years. But more generally, getting closer to a working life that seems real and relevant vs. happening at an awful and ugly desk surrounded by nasty assholes. Little things: I just found out I am hired to teach my first Tai Chi for Arthritis class through St. Paul community ed, and they are interested in having me teach some other classes I pitched, including a class for kids and a meditation class. These things don't pay shit, but, the idea of getting paid anything to talk about things I like seems like movement in a bigger direction. Patience.

Also today I found a good pair of shoes (if I said "the perfect pair of shoes" it would be time to hang it up, heterosexuality) for only $40. And I don't have to go into an office tomorrow.

That's me. More importantly, my lady got asked by two different companies today to interview for jobs. I keep remembering my good news is only as good as hers. Keep your fingers crossed, light one of your Santeria candles, swing some chickens' feet on a string at midnight, whatever you do. Bow down and ask the Gods of Kung Fu to subtly manipulate time and space on her behalf (that's not really how they work, but the asking counts). Pray my good luck will also help my lady. But we both know it's not really luck. It's magic.

Monday, September 05, 2011

I'm taking this test tomorrow --- the one I've been studying for for weeks --- I have to tell you, at this point it's a gamble.  It's mostly guessing, so I'm focusing on the sections I can guess smartest about.

This has been a summer of small accomplishments, so hopefully the luck, persistence, whatever, will continue to pay off tomorrow.

I'll let you know.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

State Fair

Seed Art
More Seed Art


Sky Ride
View from Sky Ride
Menu:

  • Deep fried cheese curds
  • Deep fried pickles
  • Sweet corn
  • "Pronto Pup" (Minnesota State Fair version of a corn dog)
  • Chocolate Milk (freshly pasteurized by the U of AM Agriculture students)
  • Beer
  • Diet Coke
  • Fresh baked cookies and coffee







Friday, September 02, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

365 Blog Posts, Bitches

I did it...

I cheated a few times, retroactively posting for a day I forgot, but I'm counting it. "It" was a commitment to just-write, no matter what.

A lot of crap resulted, and some days, as I said a year ago, it would just be one word. Once it was a period.

But that's part of it.

Learned a few things over the year:
  • I have a tendency to crave drama
  • Sometimes, the most important things that happen are just the things that happen, going to the beach with some kids, vs. big realizations and seemingly earthtweaking events
  • In spite of that, it's hard to find the motivation to document those daily things sometimes
  • I tend to enjoy reading those types of posts over again and experience less cringing when I do
  • I believe those posts also truly make up the substance of memory. Remembering simple instances says more about a relationship, or a time in one's life, then lengthy analysis of relationships or times in one's life
  • (e.g., I am studying for a pre-clinical exam which I'm taking on Tuesday. If I fail, it will kind of fuck up my situation. I'm very preoccupied with it, every minute. For some reason I'm not writing about that)
  • You can like the way you say things, but be embarrased about the way you write them. A lot of times, rereading posts, they felt corny and unsophisticated, where, in person, I would've said them with characteristic eloquence and rapist wit
  • People like Kelly, Elly, Tom, Pearl, my mom, "dbs," (and of course, my lady), are quality humans I count among my friends. Your comments make me happy, and I'm sorry if I forgot someone
  • I am, overall, a pretty decent human myself
  • There's something humble about writing, even though it would seem, in fact, to be the opposite
  • I'm still learning to use commas (see last sentence for example)
  • The dogs are far more important to our lives than they deserve
What's next? I have some ideas... I'm worried about my financial future. Paying off my student loans. Having a retirement. So I'm brainstorming about some kind of book I can write. I don't think my life is more interesting than anyone else's, and I'm not trolling for a complement in saying I'm also not a particularly talented writer (I'm just a talker with a keyboard, really). It's just a business thing. If I have any ideas I'll pitch them to you.

So thank you for reading my stuff and dog bless.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(Typing with thumbs not to wake up my lady). I am thinking of writing some kind of book to pay off my school loans. More tomorrow.

(When I just typed that the iPhone changed it to "more Oreos." Hm. Great title).
me, cassie and the boys went to the high school football field to play catch

it was an archetype of late summer and early fall. the kids' shouts, the "pock!" of pigskin on human hands, and the pounding of tiny sneakers competed with a sudden flock of geese that gave us all pause

the astroturf, vividly colored in pristine lines forming the local team's name and insignia mascot, was springy

so much so that cassie's unexpected turds were held aloft to the darkening sky as an offering

before i scooped them into a half full bottle of gatorade and threw them away. touchdown.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

happy birthday to me

my birthday was almost a month ago but i finally got my present from the boys, a trip to see captain america. it was fucking awesome.

Friday, August 26, 2011

last day of summer

this summer i tried to keep fridays open to spend with my kids, a privilege i never had before because of full-time corporate jobs.

this friday was the last before their school started, so we went to the pool in the rich part of town. there are body slides, tube slides and a zip line.

"you're not like other parents when you come to the pool," Ezra said, "you actually swim." i did spend the entire three hours in the water, vs. reading the Spawn comics i'd brought along just in case. i tossed ambrose, who is still light, over my head countless times. Ezra wanted me to throw him too so badly. but that would be bad for my back. he's getting huge.

ezra is showing me lately that he is still willing to be a kid and still sees me as his dad. he was by my side the whole time "dad look at this," "dad watch this," "dad can you do this?"

no, i didn't read comics or fall asleep in the chair. but i do have one selfish, solitary thing i reserve for myself which is to swim underwater, way down at the bottom. many times, pushing off from the wall and wriggling way down low, seeing the hair sway in front of my face and washing my hands push the water. hearing the muffled bumps and cries but mostly, silence, retreating into it again and again with as much breath as i can save.

i come up again to the reward of swimming with my kids, tossing ambrose over my head once more, letting him swim up to me and throw his arms around my neck, pretending to be a shark and watching them scream.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holy Shit! Shaolin Kung Fu!

Just by random chance we were at the Mall of America today going to Sea Life, and there just happened to be a Chinese cultural exhibition featuring MONKS FROM THE ACTUAL FUCKING SHAOLIN TEMPLE.

I can't really explain the significance for me! I am such a fan!

I knew they toured, but I never thought I'd see them here. And the demonstration... it was fucking mind-blowing. OMG!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

if life really is random and unfair; cruelty diving down out of chaos to flatten us, even when we are at our most guileless and sincere; then only compassion---singular, direct and human---can save us. it sounds soft, i picture it like a knife. cutting across everything to pry diamonds out of even the most stubborn rock.

there are two parents whose only crime is wanting a healthy daughter, and when i think of their anxiety and sadness i want to look away. it feels like too much. i'm going to try and hold the feeling, imagine what it might be like, and hope that in doing so something will flash out across the darkness and reach them and find them safe.


Monday, August 22, 2011

This morning there was mist covering the ground, and it was like there was no ground. Or it was as if the trees were growing out of the sky.


I had this thought --- about how the mist covers up the real root of things, like an illusion, and yet we enjoy the illusion, and that if everything were too obvious we couldn't really become enlightened, because there'd be nothing difficult to train our minds against --- but by the time I got home from the nature trail to write the thought down I had lost it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Counting seconds

I ran that half-marathon today. Realistically I thought I'd get 2:20, which is a little more than half of my full marathon time from '08. In a perfect world and by some miracle, I'd hoped to get under 2. I made the decision to urinate part-way into the race, just so I wouldn't have to feel uncomfortable the whole time, because there's discomfort enough. It brought me 44 seconds away from the miraculous, a mere stream in the great flow of time. 

And not to diminish the good fortune of completing the race. Running offers powerful lessons about the mind, and practice in the way of mindfulness. 

If you think too much about what's ahead, your spirit flags, and you see how directly your thoughts can sap your energy. To stave off this leaching of vital energy, you have to focus only on each step and allow each step to be all that matters. The mind leaps into that space throwing up new distractions, and you keep repeating to yourself that only running counts.

But let's not be false under the cover of being pedantic. Really, running a lot is just a perfect excuse to eat bacon, with impunity. I had fried food twice today, bitches.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Went to a baby shower today. It made me think about what it was once like to have babies around. Running a race tomorrow, so we made our own spaghetti dinner. My lady fixed my messed up neck so I would have a better run. She takes care of me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thanks, Mom

My mom has been with us for more than two weeks watching my boys while I had to work. She took them swimming and mini-golfing and spent hours teaching Ezra to play new songs on the piano. All of us went camping and climbing and just hung out. Yesterday she prevented my dog from burning our house down, I'll tell that story later, and she keeps doing the damn dishes and trying to pay for everything. It's a transitional time in all of our lives, particularly hers, and I hope the happiness she brought us will fly back home with her tomorrow.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

On a very serious note

Blogger friends... Can you please help me?

Apparently it would cost only $50 to give someone clean water for the rest of his or her life. Watch this video:



I'm not the one who needs help, actually. I'm running a half marathon this weekend to raise money for kids and families in Africa. I would love it if you'd visit my page and give whatever you think you can manage:

http://www.teamworldvision.org/goto/pack46

I wouldn't use my blog to raise money, normally, but the people who read it are just uniformly nice. I thought you'd like an opportunity to help. Thanks guys!

Famine Facts

What is a Famine? Here are a few UN guidelines:
  • 100% of livestock dead
  • More than 1 out of 3 kids are acutely malnourished (have a bicep circumference of less than 12.5cm)
  • Less than 2100 calories per person and less than 4 litres of water per person each day (11 million meet this criteria)
The UN has declared a Famine in two regions of Somalia and may add 6 more by September. Many other areas in the region (in Kenya and Ethiopia) are forecasting a Food Emergency.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This was Sunday. The night before, Ez and I rowed to the center of the lake and had the full moon on one side and the setting sun on the other. He's just at the age where he gets that kind of thing. "Look at that, Dad," he kept saying. On this day however we just lazily rowed and had fun. This included changing positions without tipping ourselves over, as each kid wanted a turn at the front.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tomorrow we're leaving for four days' camping at Goat Island. That is the title of a Disney Movie, isn't it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rock-Climbing Lite at Taylors Falls.




You should see Ambrose climb. He isn't just a natural, he's a force of nature.

 See folks at home, Grandma can climb too.