Tuesday, November 15, 2011

So I wrote a book...

**Note - This has been sitting in my draft folder since April...so it's a little old.

Okay, you go me.  It's a kid's book.  Still though, a book geared toward children is still a fairly daunting task.  I guess that's what they mean when they say: "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it."  Of course, Brooke Sheilds did it so...

Anyway, the point is, I wrote (and drew) my first book. It's a very good feeling considering the string of unfinished projects I've had over the course of my creative journey.  "Can We Be Friends?" (the title for today) is the second project in a row that I've been able to finish after saying I would.  I'm starting to feel legitimate if not successful.

Beyond the satisfaction of it all, I feel like for the first time in a long time I've told a story that I was "meant" to tell.  Now, just saying that I gag a little.  Using the "meant" word in context to purpose or destiny is something that sends me spiraling back to high school and staring into a very dim girl's eyes as she breaks my heart (for the twelfth time) using the excuse that we aren't "meant to be." No, when I use the "meant" word, I'm inferring something a little less superstitious, and a little more conceited.

Once in a while, we (as individuals) experience something that alters every tiny cell of our person. The very moment I'm culminating to in this blog is a fairly universal situation, and depending on which end of the proverbial barrel you're staring down, I'd say it's absolutely universal.

I'm talking about the day my sweet, baby girl was born.  May 24, 2008.

The funny thing is, that day becomes more perspective altering the further away it goes.

More mornings that I deserve, I get to creep in my daughter's room and wake her up.  The best mornings she's still fast asleep.  While her tiny breaths ebb and flow, I can rub her warm back and whisper a song to her that steals a melody from "Silent Night." As she begins to twist and squint, I scoop her up and onto my shoulder.  She slides into place, as if her body were cut away from that part of me.  I don't always appreciate that second the way I should.  When I do though...

If Carrie is my heart, Lela is my joy.

Lela's existence has opened my eyes to so many aspects of humanity, and our nature toward each other.  Most of those are beautiful.  The one's that "meant" for this book to be written are not.

Part of being a loving parent, is trying to block any unnecessary threat from your child's path.  It's why we cover electric sockets, and never leave them alone for even a second.  Even on a good day, there are things I feel like I need to be more cautious about.  As your mind goes down all the horrid dangerous paths that could find you kid, you begin to realize that your fears, even when exaggerated, are based in reality.  You're afraid that your innocent baby could go through something that's already happened to someone's innocent baby.

I love Lela because she's mine, but she's also opened a wound in me that I can't comprehend sometimes.  Some days seeing her smile is a lot like seeing a million other children crying.

Monday, September 26, 2011


If your's was the only opinion that mattered, why did you ask for help?

Having eyes doesn't make you an artist.

Singing a song doesn't make you a singer.

Building a house of cards doesn't make you an architect.

Sometimes, it's best to shut your mouth and let the guy you asked for help actually help.  If you need a professional, it's because you're incapable in at least one area of life.  You shouldn't edit someone else just for the sake of control.

Don't assume because something isn't exactly the way you want it, that it's not perfect.

Arrogant punk.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Time Travel & Good Conversation

Last night, 7:45pm; Josh:  "It really does seem like the older you get, the faster it goes..."

Last night, 9:15pm; Ben: "I love good conversation."

Today, starting at 5:35pm...

     "Hey kiddo, wanna eat on the swing outside?"

     "OW-SIIIIIIIDE!  OW-SIDE! OW-siiiiide...swing?"

     "Groovy.  Your chicken is almost cooled off.  Where's your milk?"

     "Miwk.  Chawky-miwk.  Chawky."

     "No, baby.  You had Chocolate milk at lunch.  This is just plain old milk."

     "...chawky miwk...BAR-bie?"

     "No, baby.  Maybe after dinner."

Dinner in hand, we move past the front door and on to the two step stoop on the front porch.

     "Hewp.  Hewp."

     "Okay shrimp...oooone"


     "Good job, shrimp."


     "Yep, that's why we came out here."


     "Okay, baby.  oooooph (exaggerated.)"


     "No problemo, kid."


     "But we just sat on the swing?  Don't you want some chicken?"

     "No...no want...chicken.  Chicken.  no want.  Down?"

     "You need to eat a little at least.  Here...have some yogurt."


     "You're welcome, baby."




After slinging the tyke to the ground, our adventure continues...


     "Okay...let me finish my sandwich.  You want some chicken?"

     "no want."

     "Okay.  Ready."

     "Ring arooound the roooosies, Poooocket full of pooooosies.  Aaaashes, Aashes...
         we all FALL DOWN!"

    "aaaashes, aaashes....roooosies, rooosies............all fall DOWN!  YAAAAAAY!!!"

   "Okay, what now?"


Three spin cycles later, I feel like I'm a giddy infant with a buddy.  I decide that Lela might think ants are cool.  I flip over from my "all fall down" position, and point to a tiny anthill...

     "Lela, look!"

Lela flips on her belly directly in front of my face.  I quickly slide the diaper-clad beauty to my side...

     "Look, baby...ants!"

     "antz?  ants....woooooowwwwwwww."

     "Yeah, woooooow.   You're so friggin' smart.  Anthill.  Is that an anthill?"

     "anthill?  anthill...woooooow.  dir-dee."

Lela stands up, and begins patting off her hands and tiny pant-legs.


     "Okay.  Where do you want to walk?"

Lela points curiously to the road, where a few pedestrians have passed us by.


     "Okay, you want to sit on my shoulders?"

Assuming too much apparently, I sling the gorgeous little girl onto my shoulders.

     "WAWK!  WAWK! WAWK!!!"

     "Sheesh, okay, okay..."

I crouch on one knee to look her in the eye for a serious conversation.  During past crouching, it hasn't been uncommon for Lela to back herself onto my knee.  Thus is the case here...

     "Don't EVER go on the road without Momma, or Daddy, understand?  Never walk on the road
          without one of us holding your hand."

I hold up my finger with her hand clasped around it.




We walk, and as we go I name things that I don't think she's learned yet.  A tiny voice mimics every word with a soft, cascading tone...





Suddenly, I see three squirrels running around the grass in one of my neighbor's yards.  I forget how common it is for a second while my breath is stolen at the thought of my daughter seeing something so cool...


     "woooooooooooow!  skirrels!"

     "Look, baby...that one has an acorn in it's mouth."

Lela is genuinely taken aback by the site of these squirrel-buddies gleefully stumbling over one another.  A sweetly sincere grin fills my baby-girl's face.  She sees another squirrel perched in a tree that i hadn't noticed.  Her squeal is so infectious.  It makes me feel completely immersed in a conversation about critters that probably number in the hundreds in our neighborhood.

     "ahhhhh!!!  look daddy, skirrel tree!"

     "Yeaaah!  There is another one!  Good eye shrimp!"

We finished walking the length of our street, and then turned around and started back toward the house.  Along the way, Lela pointed out birds, rocks, leaves, grass, signs, mailboxes, cars, trucks and anything that crossed her vision.  If I had taken that short walk alone, it would have zipped by just like any other goal-oriented task I perform throughout the day.

I don't like the thought that people can't have a complete life without children.  I think it's a condescending concept even though it's an easy to understand one.  For me though, Lela is a tiny little pause button.   A walk with her is an opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people, and a moment in time that I know I'll never be able to steal back should I squander it.

Thankfully, I think Lela has made it easier for me to take a second and enjoy the other people, experiences, and moments that are the real fabric of life.  (especially you Carrie :))

It's not the destination, it's the "wawk."

It's been an incredibly good weekend.


Sunday, March 7, 2010


We say God is "good," but that's not true...at least not our "good."  God IS, and that's all.  God is good because he creates, defines, and strengthens goodness in love.  God defies "good."

I saw a shirt that said: "God is good all the time."  It frustrated me.

It didn't frustrate me because I'm angry at God, or because I don't like the person wearing the shirt.  It frustrated me because it's an oversimplification of God.  It's a statement that gives God a box that we created and tells him: "You fit in here.  I know you do, because I measured."

Somewhere, there is a Christian being tortured, and eventually killed for their belief.

Somewhere there is a child being stolen with the intention of being sold for unthinkable purposes.

Somewhere there is a person praising God for winning a basketball game.

God has power over all these things.

Since my daughter was born, I've found myself wondering how I would survive God's passivity if she ever needed him, and no one else would or could fill in.

I don't know that I understand God, but I think the biggest step I've ever taken in my faith was to let go of God being "good," and believing that God was what I am missing.

For whatever reason, God lets the bad guys win sometimes.  Outside of the bubble of America, they win a lot more.  I don't know why humans have been given so much freedom to butcher, rape, and destroy one another.  Anyone that says they do, is lying.

What I have learned for myself is this:  Peace comes from God.

The Bible is not a history book, and it can't be used as a substitute for a real conversation with God. It can not be used to defend or defeat God.  There are stories in the Bible as terrible as some in the Koran.   The Bible, just like all other books on earth was written by men.  It's a diary written by people that witnessed God's power.  It's like reading a love letter from me to my wife without knowing either of us.  The Bible is a tool.  God is the power.  The only way to understand the love letter is to talk to the person it's about.  God is there, pull up a kneeling pad and sit a spell.

I know that Christ has spoken to my heart in the past.  I know this because those were the only times that I knew I could walk out of the hurricane without climbing out through the eye.  Those times weren't good because I got a great result, they were good because my peace wasn't reliant on that good answer.

I wish I could have that wisdom all the time, but usually I whine like a sissy any time God doesn't take care of me the way I think he should.

I praise God for the peace my life has experienced, and beg mercy for my ignorant expectation of anything greater because I "deserve" it. I praise God for the hope of righteousness gaining victory over serpents, and humbly pray that I might one day be a part of the destruction of evil.  I praise Christ because for whatever reason he stepped beyond all other "gods" and walked among his creation.  I am a Christian because he fought, and suffered, and forgave, and sacrificed himself for a mocking creation.

If there where another god, I would NOT follow him.  How could I follow a god so inferior to Christ?  If Christ isn't God, then I won't worship one.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nasty little tricks

It's Valentine's Day, and that means it's time to pay quadrupled flower prices, tempt a diabetic coma, and fall prey to the nastiest of nasty tricks.

It's time to set out the candy hearts.

Yep, in offices all over the U.S., people are dishing out a candy so popular that I can with ample certainty predict it's existence in your office right now, even as you read this rambling.  Those horrifically awful tasting heart-shaped chalk nuggets with ooey-gooey nonsense etched in their deceivingly colorful chests lure us all into the same trap.

There you are...minding your own business...just walking the halls of your office with a stride that says: "I'm headed somewhere to grab something that will perpetuate my very important list of goals for the day toward completion," when you turn the corner and see them.

There they are, just staring at you.  Tempting you with their lies.

Nasty candy hearts:  Hey there buddy.  Long time no see.

You:  You just keep your heart-mouth shut.  I know about you.  I remember what you did to me last time.

Nasty candy hearts:  Aw, baby...don't be like that.  I was having an off year...years.  You know I can't taste that bad...just look at how cute and sweet I look.  Betcha I taste better this year.  Betcha you'll LOVE me this year.


Nasty candy hearts:  Gosh...I'm...I'm sorry you feel that way.  I just...I just thought that maybe I could have a second chance.  I mean, it's Valentine's Day.  I just didn't want to waste away on a desk...but it's cool.  I understand.  I didn't....I didn't realize I'd hurt you...

You:  Aw, man.  Don't be like that.  You can't help that you're disgusting.  I mean, you don't store YOURSELF on a shelf for 335 days a year.  I just...yunno...I been hurt before.

Nasty candy hearts:  I know...I know.  I've made promises before, but this year is different.  I PROMISE.

You:   (sigh) Okay, okay.  I'll give you one more shot. 

You take a second, grab a couple of hearts with a suitable color, nice phrase, and no little chunks missing...

You:   (chew...chew...GULP!) ...you filthy liar.

Nasty candy hearts: sucker.

Unspoken notice...

There are a few times in life that are awkward regardless of your graciousness, or effort to do it the "right way."

"Hey, man...your uh, your fly is down." 

"What? No way, I'd never pee in the shower."

"I'm SO glad you dumped that chick.  She was such an idiot.
   I mean really, who says 'wolf' as 'wuff?'"
   "Yeah, we totally made up. We're going out again."
   "Oh...so, she's hot at least, right?"

And finally, the event that leads me to this monologue to begin with: 

"To whom it may concern...I will be vacating my current position...benefited from this experience...
   hope you and your company all the best..."

Yeah, man.  It doesn't get any more awkward than working through your notice.  Even in the best possible scenarios, everything exists on two levels; spoken, and wish I'd spoken it.

Coworker: So you're leaving, huh?
actual thought:  You suck.  Now I have one less person to whine with.

You: Yep.  I really don't hate it here, it's just a really good opportunity.
actual thought:  I know, I know...but you'd leave if you could too.

Coworker:  Well, good luck.  We'll miss you!!!
actual thought:  you and I will never speak again.  This will not be the result of outright animosity, but instead is just the reality of work relationships.  We'll talk about maintaining communication on Facebook, but will in reality hide each other after we get tired of reading status updates that are unrelated to us, or our interests.  

Boss:  So you're moving on, aye?
actual thought:  you ungrateful so-n-so.  You come, learn a skill, and leave.  So glad we could be a stepping stone.  Oh well, at least I won't have to deal with all your requests off and cursing at machinery.

You:  Yeah, I've really enjoyed this job.  I don't have any ill-will–it's just an opportunity I don't think I can pass up.
actual thought:  jeez...why is he staring at me like that.  You'd think I just wizzed on his azaleas.

Boss:  Well, good luck.
actual thought:  Riiiiight.  Opportunity, opporschmunity.  I should have known you were bailing when you requested off sick twice in a month.

In some ways, I think work relationships would be easier if they were like romantic relationships.  Someone decides it's not working, they end it, they walk away and immediately call the relationship they broke up with you for.

On the other hand, in my experience that usually leads to dealing with a lot of questions, and explanations and summarily pathetic behavior.  I mean, really...why would ANYONE leave me?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Something(one) different

When a parent tells you "You don't understand until you have one," they're right.

Understand, I knew fatherhood would be an experience that would forever change me.  I knew that I'd do anything for my child that it needed.  I knew that it would make me love Carrie more.  I knew that it would be the greatest accomplishment of my life. "It" would be great.

I never thought of my baby as an "it," but I never had anything to fill the blank left by my imagination.  Sure, just like everyone else, I would imagine the ways my kid would be different from others and exactly like me.  What I never knew before wasn't the list of experiences.  What I never knew, was Lela.

My mom use to say "You don't understand how I love you, but you will one day."  I used to hate it and love it at the same time.  I felt as if my mom didn't understand how much I loved her in order to say such a thing.  I get it now, I think.

Every day, my kid smiles at me in a way that makes my inevitable death a little less bitter.  Now, I don't mean that I'm looking forward to dying.  What I mean is, just like my wife saying: "You're a good man" calms the deepest part of my soul; seeing my baby girl giggle is an experience that is sweet enough to not need anything more to say I've lived a good life.

Lela reminds me of things I experienced as boy, and gives me a glimpse of what my sweet wife was like before I knew her.  It's amazing.

When my mom used to tell me I didn't understand, I think she was saying a lot of things that Carrie and I feel about Lela.

You will never love us in the same way that we love you, and that's more than okay.

Your smile is enough to make me sentimental.

I'm proud that I had any hand in teaching you about life.

I will never forget the first time you giggled, called us by "Mama" or "Dada," or the feeling of your fingers wrapping around my finger.

Your safety and comfort means more than my own.

You don't understand how we love you, but one day you will.