Why We're Such Awesome Parents, Who Rock

Hi all,

In response to your first question, "Jackson, where have you been?", let me say this: when the baby gets the twenty-four hour flu, daddy gets to have the flu for the whole week.

In response to question 2a, "Jackson, does it hurt when you drill through the board into the finger holding the board?", I have to say, "Yes. Yes it does hurt."

In repsonse to question 2b, "Jackson, does it matter which finger?", I have to tell you people, there are some things you need to find out for yourself.

Meanwhile. Now, I know it's not son-appreciation week, but our boys are still okay I suppose. For instance, after we got groceries today, Zac and Sam ran up two flights of stairs to hug traci and thank her for buying a big round box of oats and a big flat brown bag of brown sugar.

"Your kids are great," we hear. "I wish my kids were more like your kids," folks say. Nobody ever really wants to know how we do it, though. Well, I'll tell you anyway. Here's our secret: bore them into submission. Every time they take off a sock and you think it might hit the floor instead of the hamper, explain the ways in which the Grand Canyon was formed by the gentle wheedling away of rock by sand and water and sun doing their things, and that a sock is never just a sock so much as an indication of a greater detritus of the soul, something heinous about society that hurts us in our hearts -- you see, sure, it's a sock today, but tomorrow you might not fold my shirt right or you might leave my towel where I threw it in the corner. Before you know it, the whole house is a shambles. The plains are a canyon. Pangea is all over the flipping place. So just please please pick up the sock.

Trust me, your kids will be great too. And you won't have to inflame that old tennis elbow with all the same-old, same-old spankings.

The girls are great, too. Naomi is memorizing "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. It's lovely to listen to, "Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore," you know, but when what you really want to do is watch Mad Men, well, the children will still be talented and gifted tomorrow, but Don Draper will only be popular for as long as people tell him to be. "While I nodded, nearly napping . . ." she said. "Why are you doing that?" asked traci. Naomi said, "suddenly their came a tapping." I said, "You know, some folks argue that the universe began with someone gently tapping," and she sprinted off to bed.

Blaisey is Itchy the Cat today. She had been Fluffy the Cat for the longest time. The other day she was Princess the Cat Who Would Like Daddy to Get Her Some Water Meow. Before that she was Bitey the Mean Cat and I was Steely the Scared Dog. Oh, the ever-changing self. In the midst of all these feline incarnations, Blaisey did find time to be sick last week. I lay beside her in bed reading while she drifted in and out of sleep. One moment, she woke to tell me, "Dinosaurs eat leaves." Another she said, "Some chipmunks like to climb trees." Some time later she woke and said, "Other chipmunks like to drink water." I read about twenty pages of a really good book and she said, "Apples that are green are pears."

When I caught the bug proper, I was most likely to simply say, "I think I'm gonna puke." Or "I think I puked." Or some variation on the theme.

On that note, I'll try to keep you all up to date more frequently on the events of our family. In the meantime, I'll ask the questions this time, "If apples that are green are pears, what's an orange if it's not orange?" And "If you're a chipmunk who doesn't like to climb trees or drink water, what kind of life is that anyway?"


Hazards Upon the Long Run

Much like the Neanderthal civilization, Greensboro, North Carolina has no sidewalks. As a result, I often end up crossing regrettable intersections at bad angles and testing the pavement of dubious crosswalks.

Much like other Neanderthal beings, I approach the outside world cautiously. Neanderthal joggers often peeked from side to side along the game trails, hoping to detect saber tooth tigers and Casteroides ohioensis. As for me, while I have been hit or almost hit by just about every kind of motorized vehicles from motorcycles to dump trucks, nothing chases me off the road so often as the mid-sized to enormous four-door road vehicles. By their nature, these “SUVs” are harmless gentle, creatures who will not engage a human, even when provoked. They have little interest in human beings whatsoever. Even if you sneak behind them and poke them with sticks or attempt to entice them with a conversation about Moby Dick or The Wrath of Kahn, they will hardly even acknowledge your existence.

However, beneath the surface, something terrifying lurks. (That’s not necessarily true, I just thought it would add some dramatic tension.)

However, seriously, during particular times of the day – e.g. morning, noonish, evening, afternoon – these beautiful creatures begin a frantic scurry, a meticulously choreographed ballet. During which times, it doesn’t matter what bright colors you’re wearing or how many babies you’re pushing in the stroller, these clamoring beasts will not be deterred. It is in their nature to neither change course, nor slow down, so don’t sprain an ankle in a crosswalk, and if you do, don’t bother begging for mercy. My only guess is that we humans are just too tiny for the great “SUV” to even recognize. For them to see us as sentient creatures would be much like a human being thinking that a dog or a turtle should have some kind of rights. Ridiculous.

While these frequent, if unexplained, mass migrations might be equally beautiful and dangerous, even our top scientists have failed to explain the significance of such events. When I asked Zac about it, he said, “I don’t know, Dad. Can I please finish my homework now?” Sam, similarly, responded, “You are so weird.”

If you are like me and you live in a place where such beautiful animals roam the grand paths through our cities, but you would nonetheless like to take a long run once-or-so a week, consider Sunday mornings. I have found it is much easier to get in ten, twelve miles with little chance of being run over by an “SUV” from around 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It is at this rare time of the week that the “SUV”s gather in a sort of ritual silence in front of enormous barnlike structures. While none of the creatures ever enter the structure, they sit outside quietly, one might say reverently, as I run by.

Why do these magnificent beast choose this moment to gather and remain silent? What draws them to these enormous domiciles? Will there ever be a day when humans and “SUV”s live in harmony? Are modern “SUV”s truly the descendent of some ancient coupling of a station wagon and a military vehicle? Or did they spring forth into their suburban resting grounds fully formed sometime in the mid-90s? I asked some of our family’s top anthropologists. Naomi said, “Seriously, Dad? Get a life.” Blaisey sat thoughtfully for a spell and said, “Can I have some ice cream?” Who’s right? I don’t know. It is unlikely that any of us will know for quite some time. For now, it is enough for me that at least once a week, the great beasts and I call a truce and coexist peacefully, in no hurry, paying homage to the world in our own ways.

Note to runners: Please be cautioned if you take this running tip. If you run past noon on these “days of 4WD rest” as I like to call them, all proverbial bets are off. When those bells ring twelve, all hell breaks loose.

Meanwhile, I leave you all with these two thoughts:

1. “Would any tree be safe with a beaver as big as a Buick?”

And 2. "Smells like a steak and seats thirty-five."


Fancy Drink

As national Jackson Appreciation Weekend winds down, traci asked me if she could get me anything from the kitchen. I asked her if she could get me a beer in one of our fancy glasses.

I don't know -- they just sometimes taste better this way.


On Nature v. Nurture

Given the relatively obvious design of shirts, maybe you’d think that I’d be able to put them on frontwards at least 50% of the time. I’m here to tell you today, you’re wrong. In fact, I can easily go two, three weeks without putting a t-shirt on right the first time. “Well, at least you get it right the second time,” you might be thinking. Nope, just like flipping a quarter, my odds don’t change from one application to the next. Why am I like this? What’s wrong with me? Is it nature or nurture?

I can only base my own guesses on what other people have told me. As an undergrad, a woman in my dorm said, for example, she would never date me because I did not have a hairy chest, and she would only date men with hairy chests. I hadn’t asked or intended to ask her out, but you can imagine at this point, I desperately wanted to. The only thing I could think to do was grow my bangs very long and hope that would be close enough. With my locks shimmering tucked into the neckband, I asked Gina if she'd like to get a pizza with me. She said, “No. That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard.” Until then, I guess I just assumed that everybody likes pizza.

What’s wrong with me? Other possibilities? I blame Pappap. For instance: the first time I came home from college with a beard, Pappap raised his eyebrows and told me about the first time he came home from the Navy with a beard. He said, “I walked in the front door, and my old man was taking a nap on the couch. He opened one eye and said, ‘What the hell is that?’ So I said, ‘It’s a goattee.’ The old man said, ‘Yeah, I tried to grow a beard once. It looked like shit, too.’”

This, of course, was my first sophomore year of college. Meanwhile, I told Angelo that I really liked his beard and wished that I could grow a beard like his. He said, “Why don’t you grow one?”

I said, “I can’t grow a beard.”

He said, “Well, not with that attitude. You’ve gotta really want it.”

As you can imagine, time went by. I did some other things: dropped out of college, learned to snowboard, had a really nice cup of coffee at a Country Fair of all places. Clearly, it has been an eventful decade and a half. The good news is: I finally have a hairy chest. The really good news is: it’s because my beard is officially that long. (How about that pizza now, Gina?)

In fact, when traci and I went back-to-school shopping, she picked teaching shirts based on how well they showed off my beard. I'm in vogue, to be sure, but such clothing has resulted in my many awkward questions such as, “Does this V-back make my shoulders look narrow?”

Well? What do you think?