Friday, September 18, 2009


Fall is, without question, my favorite time of year. After months of muggy Central Ohio soup, Summer finally throws in the towel and heads south. Leaves are starting to fall already, but they're mostly from the small trees, weak of constitution and exasperated with the last two months of little rain. True Fall change is still to come.

We went for a walk tonight and caught up on the day while I studied the woods and fields for changes. The tall grasses and weeds that thrived in baking sun seem to be wilting and shrinking in the cooler air. The meadows, usually exploding with life, seem tired and shrinking, letting you see more of the tree line beyond. Sleepy blackberry bushes choke out all ground cover but the Poison Ivy which slithers invincible through hillsides and fence rows.

As we were heading back to the car, we watched a little kid chasing after the ducks that had made their way up onto a large flat grassy patch. Watching the ducks reminded me of when I was a kid in Indiana. We lived on small lake, and each winter the ducks would swim quickly in a circle keeping the water from freezing over. The colder it got, the smaller their circle would get, until eventually the ducks would give it up and head for shelter amongst the dead rattling cattails and allow the cold air to seal the surface of the water.

I would sometimes go out onto the ice with a pick and break off sections of the ice, trying to give them more room to maneuver and avoid the neighborhood dogs that would come over to grab them out of the water when they swam close to the edge.

One morning, while breaking up the ice along their swimming hole, I fell through the surface. The water wasn't deep, and barely reached my chest, but my feet immediately sunk into the mud. Locked into place by unseen silt, my entire body heaving with the sting and shock of water, I felt every sense firing all at once and my brain went a painful copy-paper white. It had to have been only seconds, but time stretched and mattered little in the midst of the experience. Finally, through some magic automation of nature my lungs filled themselves with air, I pulled my feet out of the mud, and moved toward the bank.

When I was seventeen, I went on a trip to Israel and was baptized in the Jordan River. This was the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and it was to be an honor to share in that collective experience some 1,995 years later. Looking back on it now though, I imagine the minister who oversaw my baptism hoping to instill the same feeling of wonder and newness that I had that winter Indiana day. In truth it came nowhere near that moment of pulling myself out of the mud, awkwardly holding the pick axe with numbing hands, and remembering to breathe. In that moment, my winter coat soaked and slick with ice, I was alive in a way I had never been before.

Tonight, Jen and I kept walking along the path, smiling at each other and watching the kid run after the ducks. After voicing their honking displeasure, they took to the air to avoid the child who laughed and continued to run toward the lake's edge after them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Parent in the Hood

The hours spent in Cubicle Land buzz drunkenly like a fly, sleepy and slowed by winter air. Time has somehow stretched and I live a hundred lifetimes between 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM five days a week.

I was really bad at my job last week, and am struggling to make it right. I'm having a hard time staying focused these days.

One night, a few weeks ago, I was sound asleep as any rational (read boring and old) man would be on a Thursday morning at 3:00 AM, when I heard the sound that I've feared for months. Someone was coming up the steps. Not just walking, but running. Big bounding thumps that pulled me out of my sleep. Burglars. Burglars who will hold me at gun point and take my records and whiskey. Burglars who were giggling and laughing all the way up the stairs. Giggling? I was trying to put it together still when she jumped up and down on the end of the bed laughing.


"It said yes!"


"It said yes, the test said yes."

She laid it on my chest and I fumbled for my glasses so I could see the digitized word "YES" on the little display panel.

I hadn't really thought about how I would respond at this moment. When I had pictured it, I had always imagined that I would be conscious and not fighting the confusion that sticks with me for a good 45 minutes after waking. In my mind I had pictured me telling her that I love her and that she's amazing and all those things that would come so naturally with such good news. But my reality is usually less than ideal. Instead, the lone thought that came to mind was "I have so much I need do." Then: "Crap, I bought a two pack of those tests. What am I going to do with the other?"

We discussed it over the next couple days and decided to keep our news a secret for the most part. We would tell some immediate family, but otherwise wait to tell everyone else. Within 24 hours of telling our secret, it had literally made it to Baghdad and back.

Some people suck at playing guitar, or driving, or being polite. Other people suck at keeping house plants alive or not talking during a movie. My family just happens to suck at keeping a secret. What you gonna do? So, as a result, everyone knows that Jen is in "the family way" much earlier than we would have preferred. At least that's what we tell ourselves.

You see, we're the couple that can't wait for Christmas morning to open presents. We are the king and queen of immediate gratification. We've never waited for a thing in our lives, but still we tell ourselves this is something we would have kept under wraps. I don't buy it, even though I'm the one selling it. It would have happened sooner rather than later, regardless of how indignant we are now.

And so, immediately it seems, we've changed. We go for walks each night at our favorite metro park and talk about how we're going to handle what's coming. I get the impression that Jen is less freaked than I am about certain things. There's a strange contentment that's come over her, and while I'm normally the laid back one, she's saying things like "Millions of other people have done it. We can't screw it up that badly." Yeah, that's what she thinks.

Jen's at work tonight shuffling parents around the school's Open House, and I'm doing what I do when she's not around. I'm up in the smallest of our three bedrooms (the room we refer to as "The Den") listening to Wilco, drinking a whiskey, and churning out a couple of words here and there.

It's really the first evening I've had on my own since she broke the news to me, and I just realized as I was writing this out, that I'm perfectly content about what's to come.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Blues

I love having a Monday that feels like a Sunday. I slept in until I knew Jen would be getting antsy for some company. Sure enough, just as I put on my glasses she rounds the corner and pounces. We hung out there for a few, talking about what we wanted to do for the day. I really wanted to see Halloween II this weekend, but could tell from Jen's noncommittal response that it might not be happening. So, I opt for Plan B. After breakfast and some quality time in front of the tube, I head out.

First order of business was a haircut. I'm painfully overdue. So, I head up the road a piece, get out of the car, walk to the door, only to find it locked. Shit. So, I head directly across the street to a Sports themed haircut joint. First, I don't care that much about sports. The one sport that holds my interest long term is hockey, and I sure as heck don't want a hockey-inspired do. Second, they do the whole shampoo thing before they cut your hair. For a guy who doesn't care much for physical contact with strangers, it's a painful proposition. But, such is the state of my hair that I consider it. Lesson learned from my first stop though, I stare into the darkened waiting area and see the silent plasma screens that confirm that I won't be getting a mullet today.

I give up on a haircut, stop by Blockbuster only to leave with some popcorn and no movie, and then head out record shopping. First stop is Singing Dog Records. I pull into the garage and park and walk to the two blocks to the store before realizing hippies must believe in Labor Day too. Fucking hippies. So, back to the car and over to another garage further up on campus so I can check out Used Kids Records. They have some great stuff, but I'm being really picky and only leave with a Mudhoney / Sonic Youth split 12". I figure I'll hit Magnolia Thunderpussy on the way home, but they too are closed. I give up.

I hate it when people say "In this economy" (because we're always in "this economy", you douche bag), but for real...In this economy you would think more people would be heading off to work if they could. This is the US of A and I couldn't get some freaking manscaping done or buy a copy of the No Age record I've been coveting for months just because it's the wrong Monday of the year to try to get shit done. What's gone wrong with this country?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Have You Seen Me?

I looked up in the rear view mirror and made eye contact with Jen. We watched each other through the three inch tall piece of glass, smiling, until the light turned green. She went home and I headed to the grocery store to load up on grilling supplies for my family that's coming in on Sunday.

It's been a different kind of week, I'll say that for it.

I haven't been on here much lately for blogging purposes. For the two people out there who have been dying for an update of what I made for dinner or what record I sat around and listened to, I'm sorry. (Veggie omelet tonight, and Paul's Boutique as of late.) I've actually been on a bit of a tear doing some "real" writing.

I start lots of stories. I have lots of quick ideas that don't grow. This time it's a bit different because for the first time ever I have a beginning, a middle and an end already. That's unheard of for me. Now all I have to do is show some intestinal fortitude and connect the freaking dots. That's the tough part for me. My brain is so lazy. I love to do the fun scenes but all the connective tissue is a chore and I struggle with it. I'm trying, so at least there's that.

Jen is already asleep on the couch, and Otis and Lucy are sprawled out on her and beside her respectively, and I'm sitting here watching part of the Isle of Wight Festival on television. I think it's time to head upstairs, put my wife to bed, and do a little work on my budding novel. See you around.