Friday, August 16, 2013

Five Years of Us and Seven Months of Mabel

I wrote the letter below in my other blog, littlebabychew. It was written in honor of my five year anniversary that just happened to be a few days after Mabel's 7 month anniversary in our family. I can't tell you how many things I think of throughout the day that I say to myself: Man, I should write a blog about that or that could definitely be a story. I don't write nearly as much as I'd like to, but when I do make or find the time, I'm glad when I get to reflect on my life. I started this blog almost two years ago to mentally prepare myself for turning 30 years old. Since then I have bought a house, been a small part in having a beautiful baby girl, and 30 has come and gone. I should write more. I will, I'm sure. 

I think back before Jenna was in my life. I wrote when I was a teenager to get rid of my angst and because it was cathartic. Most of that stuff is terrible. I wrote in college because I had to, but more often than not I thought it was fun enough. I didn't write for years after that... nothing. 

I write more now than I ever have in my life and for that I'm lucky. I write more now because I have more to write about. I've spent five years with the love of my life and our family is growing and perfect. I'll keep writing, because I'll keep getting better. Life is a luxury and I'm currently living pretty F'n large. So here is a letter to little Mabel Jayne in honor of her Momma and our lives together. 

Cheers to all the years to come and all the unwritten words. There's plenty of time to find them and there is certainly plenty of motivation.

Little Mabel-

Five years ago, on this day August 16th, 2008, your Momma and Daddy stood in a beautiful little backyard grove and said some vows that ended in some "I do's". Leading up to that day, your mom and I felt an inexplicable draw to each other that ended up forming a bond that eventually led to you, our little peanut. I want to tell you a few things I've learned in that four years and five months before you joined the family:

1 - Time matters. How you spend it, where you spend it and who you spend it with are all remarkably important. Being conscious of that time and acknowledging it doesn't come easy or natural to most people, but when you learn to do so, it changes everything. That time we spent over those years taught us how to love each other better than we ever did before we were married. It taught us how to talk to each other, sometimes how to fight each other, and it taught us to appreciate the mere fact that we were together. We have grown as people, we have grown as a couple, and we have grown as friends to each other and to your vast web of grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles.

All that time, I don't think we realized we were just prepping for you. It's easy to love you and your perfect giggle, gorgeous smile, and everlasting loving looks, but the time and love your momma and I have spent cultivating makes it so much easier to see all the joy and beauty through the times that aren't always easy. Your first cold (which you're just getting over) is nothing compared to watching you roll over on all fours and rock back and forth, prepping for that first crawl. The sleepy mornings after long nights are nothing compared to what we're pretty sure is waving when we say hi and barking when you see Daisy.

2 - Talking matters. By the time you read this, I'm sure you'll have a pretty good idea of your old man's propensity for chattiness. It's easy for me to talk and to give fun speeches and to address large groups, but it hasn't always been easy for me to talk about the important stuff. Your mom either. Five years ago, we had remarkably different approaches for dealing with our conflicts or sharing what we really wanted to get out of our relationship. We worked through it through eventually breaking down those barriers and because we never stopped talking to each other and we kept loving each other.

Learning how to speak to one another, which hopefully we will pass on to you, took a lot of time, but after five years, hopefully we have a pretty good grasp of it. Sometimes, especially now, when I'm frustrated or I know your Momma is frustrated I think of you and I think of five years ago and I smile knowing that it's such a minuscule moment in our lives and I get less frustrated. That all came about through time and talking and just pure love for you and your mom. She does the same for me. More than I acknowledge, but I'm so proud of her. I fell in love with a person years and years ago who has grown into one of the best people I know. She just keeps getting better and better and you get to have her as your Momma and we get to share all this love with you.

3 - Love matters. Your Momma and I have been married for five years today because we love each other. We love each other for the people we were, people we are, and the people we're still becoming and will someday become. In these five years, those three words haven't always been easy to say, but they have always been the port we come back to. We say them to you every day and we want you to grow up to know what love is because you saw it every day of your life. We want you to learn how to talk, how to appreciate life, and how to love by giving back to you what you have given us.

We have spent five years become better people with and for each other, little Mabel Jayne, and now, seven months into your already amazing life, it's even more evident than it was on day one: We were learning to love each other better so we could love you and our new family the best. Thank you for giving us all that you have given us and thank you for helping me appreciate who your parents are as people, as individuals and as a couple. I don't thank your Mom enough out loud, but I thank her every day in my heart and in my life by saying those three small words and knowing she is the best part of me and has given me the best part of us, which is you.

I love you little girl. Thanks for making us better and thank you for helping me realize all the amazing things I get to teach you. I'm the luckiest Daddy, the luckiest husband, and the luckiest person I know. That's all because of the last five years with your Momma, and the last seven months with you.

Thank you, both.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What's Next?

Update: I hate everything about this post, but I'm not going to delete it because that feels like lying somehow. For anyone who might be going back to read things, don't read this one. Skip it and read the Marathon Monday post or the one about the Bills or your Late 20's sucking.

Yesterday (Thursday) the FBI released pictures of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
This morning, at 5:30am Jenna woke me up with news that one of the suspects had been killed along with an M.I.T. campus policeman, a 26 year old named named Sean. Suspect one is dead. Suspect two is on the loose.

Skip ahead a few hours and Boston is on lockdown. Twitter is sharing pictures of police snipers  on roofs, armored trucks rolling through the streets. Most of the city is shut down and people are scared. The only consolation at this point is this part of the debacle will most likely be over soon, the hardest part is who knows if we'll get any answers.

Jump to West Texas where a fertilizer plant exploded killing around 40 just two days ago.

Jump to Washington, D.C. where, despite incredible support from the American public, the Senate bi-partisanly put an end to talks of gun reform and background checks. President Obama called it a "sad day in Washington" and a "failure." 

Let's get something straight:

The last five days have been fucked up.

I apologize for my language, but everything else I typed didn't share the gravity.

I wanted to write thanking everyone who read and shared the last post I wrote regarding the Marathon Bombing. It was viewed over 1500 times in two days and I am still in awe of the response and how much people care.

I wanted to write asking people to help me. I was motivated, I was encouraged, I was excited to be sharing something with so many people! But I need help, too often it takes a disastrous event or a major life change to move me to words, and I do not want that to be the case.
What should I do?
How should I proceed?
Should I proceed?

I wanted to write and share the positivity that swept through the world despite the horrific events. Whether it was the Mr. Rogers quotes, the Patton Oswalt Facebook post I already shared, the Patton Oswalt Star Wars filibuster for that matter, George Carlin quotes, or blogs and retrospectives written by other individuals personally working their way through events (Here are two I've shared on Facebook from my good friends Kris and Justin). People stood up (or maybe sat down) and took the time to think, feel, and share their way through an awful moment in our history.

Hope was sought, some peace was found, love was shared.

Now how do we move on from this? Individually? Nationally? Politically? Peacefully?

In all honesty, most people will do exactly what they did after Newtown, Aurora, Oklahoma City and all the other sites of local terror, atrocity and death; they will use them as references in blogs, but move on with their life saying things like, "we should do something" or "something like that could happen right here" to "is our government going to do anything."

Well, in short, yes we should, yes it could, and no it isn't.

Our government is broken. I won't turn this into a political rant, but it is a fact that our elected officials are often elected because they raised the most money from special interest groups. Thus, they function on behalf of those groups. They are basically paid to be elected and as we saw with the gun control vote, despite 90% of public support, the officials elected to represent the public failed miserably.

It's sad. It's frustrating. It's seemingly and almost comically futile.

Most people will go on with their every day lives a little sadder, maybe a little more cautious. The folks in Boston and the families directly effected by these events in West, Texas, Newtown, Connecticut, etc. don't get off that easily. They will live with it every day, some for the rest of their lives. Most of us still ultimately feel safe when we go to bed. If you don't live in one of those places and you don't feel safe, give it a week or two, if you're honest with yourself you will most likely realize you haven't thought much about the bombings or shootings.

I don't have answers. I don't know what we can actually do. I want to start electing officials who are going to represent the people. I want to stop people from jumping to broad conclusions based on race, religion or even their relation to the Mason Dixon Line.

I want our country and our world to change, but I honestly don't have any idea how that is going to happen. I don't want to go on living my life without change, but what can we do?

Some people say the best way to combat events like this is to go on living your life. I agree, to a point, but living our every day lives typically ignores everything that is wrong with the world.

Man! I'm getting frustrated writing this, so it's time to take a step back ...

I don't believe we have the luxury of simply living our lives anymore. Maybe I should say we don't have the luxury of living our lives blindly or trusting that "they'll" take care of it.

I want to be challenged.
I want to be called out on my words and actions.
I want to be asked to help.
I want to be asked if we can make things better.
I want to make things better.
I want to reiterate some things I said in my last post...
I want to teach our children to think and be better people of the world. I don't want to stop there.
I want to teach myself, my friends, my parents, my world to be better.

I don't know how.

I want you to help me.

Many of us were not directly effected by the tragedies of the last 30 years. Most of us are thoughtful and conscientious enough to offer support and condolences, but that only goes so far. I haven't heard of anyone I know being physically injured by the events in Boston. Yet ...

All morning I have been reading Facebook and Twitter posts from people huddled in their Newton/Brighton/Watertown homes with the doors locked and their children scared. That feeling isn't going to go away anytime soon for those people. I hope beyond hope that their fear, uncertainty, and madness is met with swift resolution and replaced with action, love, support, and eventually peace of mind.

You might not be there.

The explosion at the fertilizer plant might not have been a terrorist event, but make no mistake that the survivors and the victims families are currently living in terror.

It is inevitable that, at some point, we will all be struck with tragedy, horror, or atrocity. That statement isn't meant to be disheartening, it is meant to be true. It is a fact of life that life isn't always good. Bad things happen to great people. That's okay. Without the bad we could never see the good and we could never fight against the darkness. We would never get the motivation of thought and consideration for life.

None of these events have been good.
Please, help me find the good in them. Help me find a path that leads to change.
Help me figure out what to write next.

I hope the next one is funny. Whatever I write, I hope it is funny. Not everyone agrees, but I think I'm pretty funny. Just don't read my post about Parson Brown... stick with the ones about being in your 20's or the Buffalo Bills... pretty much anything about the Bills is hilarious at this point.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marathon Monday

Warning: The following is a rant written by an angry and sad young man who spent much of his formative life in the city of Boston. His words might not be coherent or well written. He is doing his best to work through a situation he will never understand. Also, he posts everything without rereading or editing and curses on occasion... for your consideration.

Boston was home for 20 percent of my life.

I lived and worked a quarter of a mile away from the 20-mile mark of the Boston Marathon. My first Marathon Monday was humorously unappreciated, as I didn't know what Patriot's Day was or even that I had the day off. I was completely ignorant of the holiday and how much of a spectator event the marathon is. I walked to Cleveland Circle that year, but spent more time avoiding my students openly "celebrating" than I did watching the race.

Over the next five years, my experience certainly evolved from watching closely, cheering for strangers, to the often-muttered "maybe we should do this next year," to what became a little tradition of following the race path from Boston College into the city. Each year I eventually came to the finish line and watched families greet their loved ones after completing an amazing feat. Each year I grew closer to the city and closer to the race.

Marathon Monday became one of the rare holidays I respected. Not because they call it Patriot's Day, but because of how easily it brought a city together for an utterly positive event. Thousands of thousands of strangers cheering and celebrating thousands of strangers. Families, friends, children, volunteers, sidewalk barbecues. It could have been chaos, but an aura of respect always seemed to keep order.

Today I was home when Facebook told me about the bombs.
Jenna was home as well and we spent the next few hours balancing playing with the baby, watching Desmond and searching for news.

The positives I've taken from today have been few, but significant. The power of social media has been astounding. I have gotten better, faster, more efficient information from Twitter and Facebook than from the network news. 
Patton Oswalt wrote a fantastic post that will thankfully be read and shared by thousands of his fans and individuals. I have seen instant and sincere shows of support without the pomp and circumstance (read purposeful terror, embellishment, and lack of any sort of decorum or ethics) from the networks.

That bring me to some of the negative.

We live in a tough world.

We live in quite possibly the best part of that tough world. Our problems are the price of gas for our cars or minor annoyances like traffic. The majority of the planet has real worries. You know what they are ... you have seen it in movies, flashes on the news, fly-by-night Facebook campaigns or maybe on a few placards on your college green.

The terror and sadness much of our country feels today after the devastating event at the finish line of the Marathon so many thousands have run and so many millions have enjoyed is the same terror and sadness much of the world lives with on a daily basis. When the special hour long ABC World News is opened with "Terror! In Boston." Spoken in the deepest most treacherous voice they could find in the bad movie voice over department there was no doubt they were trying to keep us scared. They are referencing the blood, the other national tragedies and bombings and making sure to spout off as many buzzwords about fear, pain, suffering, or terror as they can fit in.

I've felt sick all afternoon.
I felt sick after hearing about the bombs.
I felt sick after seeing photos and video footage.
I felt sick thinking of my students and friends who could have been in danger.
I felt sick remembering four years ago when Jenna and I were happily strolling around the finish line right around the three-hour mark of the marathon.
I felt sick reading the ignorant Facebook posts from friends and strangers already placing blame or assuring the unknown enemy of a swift and violent response.
I felt sick at how easily individuals turn to hate, racism, violence, and utter indecency in response to the same.

My heart broke as I watched my little girl laughing and playing with her mommy, completely unaware of the pains the world will bring her.

It's sad. 
All of it.
The action. Much of the response.
What it says about our world.

A lot of people asked the double-barreled (no pun intended) question, "What is our world coming to? Is nothing sacred?"

This has always been the world in which we live; today it's just a little closer than most.

Making things sacred are the reason they are targeted and the reason it hurts so bad when they are desecrated. Kevin Smith hasn't given us much lately, but he did give us Chris Rock's speech in Dogma about having ideas of faith over beliefs. People hold onto beliefs as if they are facts. They kill and die for them. Ideas can change; ideas, like people, are flexible and give way to conversation, growth, and adjustment.

None of the religions have it right. None of the countries have it right. Chances are if someone is telling you something is definitely one way over another, they have an agenda.

Our young people need to learn to think. Learn to question everything. Learn that the only thing that is going to separate them from the person next to them is their individual identity and unique thoughts. Learn how lucky we are to be where we are, but that this is not the greatest place in the world. America, like anyplace else, is terribly flawed because its people are flawed. I do not seek a remedy for that - I am looking for acceptance. If we all stopped making so many broad stroke assumptions or hate-based reactions…

Today is a sad day in my world because I spent so much time in Boston; the city and the marathon mean so much to me. Today is a sad day in my world because I have been so disappointed by so many people and formally respectable establishments.

I choose to swallow up all this anger, breathe through all this sadness and look at the details. When the first bomb went off on Boylston today it knocked an older gentleman running the race to his knees and on the ground. By now, most of you have seen that image and the following image of the man sitting in the street bleeding. You see the smoke, blood, wreckage and carnage. It is scary. It's okay to be scared and mad and sad ... but don't forget to notice the details. When that bomb went off and that man fell to the ground, a half a dozen individuals ran right to his side. They ran toward the smoke and noise and into the carnage.

These men and women aren't what is good about America or Boston or their religions or anything else. These men and women are the only hope possessed by humanity. Through all the filth, hate, destruction and muck, the bright light is our capacity for complete and utter selflessness. I truly believe it was in each and every one of us at some point. Some people have lost it through these tragedies, through bitterness, through selfishness, naivety and a need to separate themselves from thinking about the things in life that might make them feel something they can't control or understand. But even if it's gone, it is still around.

In your neighbor.

In a stranger.

In far-away countries we’ll never visit or understand.

We're a simple people easily, startled and easily swayed. Ask questions. If you must fight, fight to make it better. Fight to educate our children and each other. Fight against the urge to flee. Pick someone up when they are down. There are a lot more people in this flawed world who want to be good and live in peace than those who are evil and crave chaos.

I'm thinking of my friends, my family, my students, their loved ones, and I'm thinking of the energy radiating through Boston on Marathon Monday. I remember how great it is and how many lives have been changed because of it. A lot of people got hurt today ... a few even died. We don't know why and maybe we never will. I do know that running that race raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for strangers. Running that race changed the way hundreds of individuals viewed fitness and their lifestyle choices. Running that race honored the victims of another senseless American tragedy. There will be an asterisk next to Patriot Day and Marathon Monday from here on out, but if we do our job correctly, that asterisk will someday tell about the people whose lives changed for the better after a tragedy that has, sadly, become all-too common.

I really don't know if anything I wrote made sense. I do know when I started writing I was very sad. I was very angry after that and in all the stupid things I've done and been through in my life, one of the best things I've ever learned is how to work through that. Anger is consuming ... find the other side.
I'm finishing this post with hope for whomever reads this. We're a terrible species capable of so much good. I believe it is time to strive for that good rather than living in the shadows of the fear that surrounds us.

Note: Thank you Kris Young, one of the quickest and most poignant young men I know,  and Justin Schoenberger, one of the best writers I get to call a friend, for helping me post this.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Updates

There is a whole bunch of stuff I hated below. I decided not to delete it so you can all bare witness to my self loathing when I write.Tell me that's not some shitty writing when you get there. You can't. It is.

I wanted some sort of motivation to re-address and review the reasons I started this blog, but even that wasn't coming along so I thought about giving up. I have been thinking of effort a lot lately. Writing things like this doesn't take much effort, but it does take time and some consideration. Having the baby and keeping the house and the dog and spending time with Jenna takes plenty of effort, and a ton of time, but that doesn't really count because it doesn't feel like effort it's just what I do and I love it.

What I've been thinking about is the effort it takes to truly grow and improve yourself. I've grown, continue to grow, learn something new every day when it comes to the baby girl and the love of my family, but, like I said all the effort that goes into that is effortless. I'm talking about getting better. I want to read. I want to write. I want to learn.

I hope this isn't just a silly way I feel that doesn't make any sense. That is terrifying, knowing you're the only person know feels or even understands feeling a certain way. (Is everyone sorta scared of that? I'll assume yes.) I hope somewhere, even if it's deep down, everyone wants to better themselves,  but everyone is burdened with everyday life or complacent or lazy or playing video games and never gets to it.

I want to get to it. I want to make it happen, and this is all part of it. As proof I am currently writing this (point) and just finished eating vegetables with hummus (healthy point).

Anyways, this thing is all over the place, as per usual. I'll just say, it's that time of year when more things are going on. The weather is changing, people are busy and excited for summer and it's the perfect time to make some changes. I'll be posting more and if I don't say mean things like, hey, you're a piece of shit. You said you were going to post more so you should. Don't be a liar, you have a kid, you're supposed to be a role model.

Plus, it can't get much worse, am I right?

Stay tuned.
Check out Letterboxd, I enjoy that.

I also sometimes live tweet what my friends are tweeting about on twitter, that's fun.


After a massively successful Easter I laid feeling absolutely terrible about what I had just ingested. 

At some point I think I started hallucinating. Then I had another hard boiled egg, a second piece of cake and started crying and realized I wanted to refocus a few things.

So, not only haven't I written nearly enough lately, but I feel a little professionally lost, so let me start there.

PREFACE: I absolutely love my job. I work in a constantly evolving office with phenomenal students and great co-workers... and here is the but. 

So I've been thinking I need to start refocusing on my personal development.

A few of my friends professionally use Twitter and have really thrived professionally through it. I tried. It's way more fun to follow comedians and Life Tweet My Friends while they're tweeting about other things.

I've been thinking of

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Dad's Perspective

The following, blog world, is something I wrote for the other blog my wife and I made for our baby (we have a baby, you'll meet her below).

I wrote it for the blog, but it is more about me, so I moved it over here. There will be some overlap that I am telling myself I might go back and fix later, but in all honesty, this is probably what it will be. If you're reading this for the first time, you will have no idea if I changed anything or fixed anything, so all of this is ramble. If you're reading this at all, you know ramble is my specialty.

For your consideration:

So as you can see from the following picture, Mabel is adorable.
Today marks her two month mark. Eight and a half weeks of changing our lives and growing a little more each day.

Pictured: MJC a badass little baby girl!
A lot of things have changed in the last month. That's silly to say, really, since a lot of things change each day. From the time she goes to bed in the night to getting up in the morning she seems to have grown and changed  and taken on a new character trait or a whole new personality even cooler than the one before.

Here are the most noteworthy changes of the last month:

  1. This girl is hilarious. She laughs and smiles and loves looking you right in the eyes.
  2. She doesn't just like bath time, she violently loves it. Flailing around, kicking her legs, flapping her arms and just being the cutest little bean in town.
  3. The girl can hold a helluva conversation. Tonight, particularly, she just cooed back and squealed and yelled at us while we read to her on her changing table. She is so alert and engaged and when we stop talking, she stops and waits for us to chat back with her again.
  4. Last, but certainly not least, is that she looks a lot like me.

That's what I'm going to talk a little bit about.

The role I've adopted as "daddy" is an interesting one. We are extremely, beyond lucky, that Jenna is able to have Mabel with her all week long. She works for an amazing family who lets her integrate Mabel into their routine and their little boy Desmond into ours. Jenna keeps me up to date with at least three or four pictures a day. In case it doesn't go without saying I am a little jealous of all the time they get to spend together, but even with such a great situation it isn't easy.

I am our of the house a little after 7 in the morning and typically don't get home until sometime between 5 and 6. That gives me a minimal amount of time while she is awake and even less with her annoyingly infant like sleeping patterns (why can't you just do what we want you to do all the time... that's okay, I'm sure you'll be a perfect little angel when you're a teenager).

So even with pictures throughout the day, time together in the morning and evenings together, I still feel like I miss a lot. Throughout all of this we still have our every day housekeeping duties like eating, making sure we and our house don't smell terrible, taking care of a dog, keeping up with our friends and occasionally talking to each other. Jenna loves every second of being with Mabel, but could use some time apart as well.

It is anything but simple and we are nowhere near having it all figured out. She's growing and changing so quickly and we are just doing our best to keep up. I think about how lucky we are, how great she is, and how much love we have for her and I can't help it, I still miss her all day and feel like I'm missing so much of her life.

(Editor's note: if you are reading this, happen to be independently wealthy, and feel like sponsoring me and my family by serving as our benefactor, we will gladly take all of your extra money, thank you.)

So back to where I started. I still think Mabel looks like Jenna. I can see Jenna in her nose, in her cheeks, and in her smiles. I selfishly felt like I was missing my daughters life, she wasn't going to know her daddy at all (I realize this is all ridiculous) and that she was most likely going to adore her mother and coldly call me father when I saw her after work. Right when all of this was certainly about to become a reality, Jenna took a  picture of a picture of me as a baby.


So we're not identical, but we sure do look alike. I'm not very good at things like this. Unless it is identical or blatantly obvious I don't see family resemblances very easily. I certainly didn't see it with Mabel and me. Not until I looked at these pictures next to each other. All of the stupidity I described above melted away. We look too much alike not to have any sort of connection and it's not like I'm going anywhere. She's destined to listen to my terrible story telling, obnoxious jokes, and ridiculous analogies. I'm destined to explain things to her on a level I can barely understand, much less a small child. (Dad doesn't play things down for nobody!)

In general, watching this little girl grow up so quickly is surreal. It's an unbelievable chain of events that you can't control. That makes it scary. It makes you think and feel things that aren't normal, rational or even good for you. Knowing this isn't going to make it any easier. It's not going to make me any less jealous, not going to make her grow up any slower, and it's not going to make any of this seem more normal or controllable. So you have to take it for what it is. It's perfect. It's the cliche and it's the small things. Mabel looking like her daddy in an old picture. A dinner with Jenna at the dining room table while she takes a quick nap. Leaving work ten minutes early to pick her up from Jenna when she works late. Some daddy Mabel time and the first smile when she wakes up in the morning. And just knowing that we have years and years with her beyond this and beyond the next thousand changes she'll go through this week... we'll figure it out. And it'll be worth it. Completely worth every second of it.