Friday, November 30, 2007

Tunes

(Another Update: I moved my music to a new page called My Tunes, which you can get to from my Personal Links on the right. It was feeling a bit crowded on my Home page.)

(Updated: It's a snowy day, so I added my mood music for the day in addition to my other tunes. And yes, these songs really date me.)

I added some songs that I'm into these days over on the right. Enjoy, or at least pretend to.

PRO-Active

Enough of you are writing in concerning my previous post to make me second guess myself. My natural predisposition is to assume that everything will work out fine in the end. I'm quickly learning that those days are long gone.

I'll talk it over with Annie this weekend and make sure Ian is getting what is the absolute best for him. Thanks everyone for your comments and for helping a dad get off his duff and being a little more proactive.

OT and PT and OK

Another visit from the PT and OT yesterday and everything is OK. The occupational therapist says she only needs to visit Ian once every two months and the physical therapist says that she should see Ian only once a month. Guess he's got the motor skills and muscle tone of a baby without Down syndrome.

Means he'll be heading for that cookie jar any day now...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Daily photo

(Updated: Turns out most of the pictures are shot in my neighborhood down the street at Lake Harriet, where we take our summer strolls. I know, I'm bragging, but we live in a beautiful part of the city.)

Tricia over at Unringing the Bell got me thinking about photography again. Have you seen this site? The goal is to post a photo a day based on the city you live in. It has some great pictures of my city - Minneapolis - and scores of other cities around the globe. Check it out.

P.S. The November 21st, 28th and 29th pictures were taken right down the street from our apartment. The picture for Nov. 20th is also just a block away.

More power...er...chocolate!

I grew up watching Star Trek. The real Star Trek. The version with bell bottoms and V-cut long sleeve T-shirts. Do you remember the episode with the Tribbles, where the ship was being overtaken by these large dust bunny looking creatures?

That's kind of what it's like for me around this time each year. As the days grow shorter and the air colder, the dust bunnies all gather in my head and slowly take over.

Must... increase... power....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PT

The term "PT" still gives me the shivers. Back in my teens when I was in Uncle Sam's Service, the drill sergeant would wake us at 5am by banging on a garbage can lid with his long black MAGlite for a few hours of PT (Physical Training).

So when I heard Ian had to start PT, I started digging through my closet, looking for a flashlight.

He had his first physical therapy session on Monday. The therapist said that developmentally he's on par with children sans Down syndrome. But she was a little concerned about his hearing. When the therapist made various noises, Ian responded by becoming very still. It may just be his natural disposition to freeze up to try to analyze the noise or it may be that he's struggling to hear it. He passed his hearing test when he was a few days old, but I think we should order another one. Just to be safe.

So I suppose we're about to join the ranks of the few, the proud, the parents who get to watch a stranger twist their children like a pretzel once a week.

Music, sweet music (name that tune)

One of these days I'm going to upload some video clips of Silvi dancing. Even at two-and-a-half years old, it's evident that she's a born dancer. (Takes after mom.) And that's not just coming from proud-ole'-dad; others have commented on the way she can follow complex moves and how she improvises them to create her own unique dance. She's basically memorized the steps in this video, although that's probably not something I should be bragging about. (For those without high speed connections or don't like to click on links, it's a video of Robbie Williams "dancing." I was watching it one day and noticed she was trying to copy the moves and it kind of took on a life of its own from there.)

I'm too self-aware to be a good dancer. Dancing requires an abandonment to self, and, control freak that I am, I have to learn to live with the fact that I'll probably never bust a move on the dance floor. At least not the kind of moves that don't attract looks of horror. I once went on a blind date in my late teens and the girl started laughing at me on the dance floor.

If and or when we ever buy a house of our own, I want to have a space dedicated to music and dance. (I'll be the DJ.) Right now in our apartment, our bed serves as the dance floor for Silvi as she spins, twirls and does whatever it is you want to call what Robbie Williams does.

I mentioned my penchant for stadium rock. But on our "dance nights," I'll cue up anything from Middle-Eastern techno to the latest Bollywood hits from India to love songs from Brazil to The Itsy Bitsy Spider or Jack Johnson, specifically the theme to Curious George. It cracks me up to hear Silvi request a J-Pop song from Japan, "I want to hear Suki Nana!"

If I could learn to do one thing, it would be to learn to dance well. For now, it'll be me and Silvi bouncing around the bedroom, groovin' to The Wheels on the Bus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lunch break, d*%$@t!

I'm taking a lunch break today, d*%$@t!

Right now I'm putting together a tedious hour long video to be shown at a conference on Thursday. As is often the case, the deadlines are so tight that there is no time to mail or FedEx the final video, so I have to host it on an FTP site where the client can download it from their location. Not a lot of room for errors.

There have been a few times where I've had to work 26-27 consecutive hours to finish up. Fortunately not this time.

You know you're stressed when you get to the Wendy's drive-thru and curse the fact that there are two cars in front of you. Or you start fantasizing about super gluing pencils to your fingernails and calling yourself The Leadinator. Or begin wondering how aerodynamic your EZKeyboard is when the client asks for the text to be just a little bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, too big, a little smaller, a little brighter, too bright, a little less drop shadow, on second thought, let's not have any text after all.

Ahh, the Wendy's Number Seven Combo meal. You demand nothing of me and, oh, how you comfort me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Projects upon projects

I have been so slammed at work lately. Although corporations like to pretend they operate based on precise and dispassionate business models, truth is, they procrastinate just as much as I do. Procrastination is my middle name. Yeah, baby! (Austin Powers)

I'll sleep next year.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Goals

So while you all were gorging yourselves on ham and turkey, I was getting the jump on you and writing down some of my goals.

Well, OK, so I was stuffing myself, too, but come New Year's, while all of you are frantically trying to write out your goals, I'll be partying like it's 1999.

(I made a new page for them and put a link over on the right so if/when I fail, at least they are hidden from view.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Four hundred little bits of me

I just realized that my last post makes it an even 400 entries on this blog-o-mine. A few years ago I wrote about why I called my blog Narrow Ridge (taken from a quote by one of my favorite philosophers, Martin Buber). I think nows a good time to repost those thoughts for any of you who are just tuning in:
My daughter, Silvi, will be born any minute now. At the risk of being a stereotypical new father, I feel this huge, almost overwhelming, desire to change everything about myself, and the world, to ensure that Silvi is safe and loved. As someone who tries to control the chaos of life, I realize just how much there is that can come between that safety and love. Life is dangerous, and love even more so.

I have chosen to call this journal Narrow Ridge because I believe that I must walk along the narrow ridge in this world. I must live between hope and despair, between certainty and doubt, between laughter and tears, between community and solitude. Truth be told, I am not very good at walking the narrow ridge. It is all too easy for me to slide into a life of despair and doubt and sadness. And solitude.

As my daughter joins our family, I realize that I will live a life observed. Lately, I've been feeling as if I'm about to meet my inlaws for the first time and they will be staying with me for a week. I got rid of all our old coffee mugs because none of them matched. We now have six new matching coffee mugs. I sold half of my books. I took three carloads of clothes and lamps and old furniture to the thrift store. The closets have been straightened, the dishes done, laundry washed, floor swept, carpets vacuumed, and we're buying a new coffee table this week. And I bought a soccer ball to lose the spare tire(s).

None of those things, of course, address the real issue. I want my daughter to look up to me, to respect me, to love me. And there's just so many things about me that are, well, unfinished.

This journal is an attempt to share just a little of a life well-lived along the narrow ridge.

Photo Booth

I can't go into the Thanksgiving holidays with a rant on my blog. :)

Sleep on it

I got out of bed around 11pm last night because I was in a rage. I turned on my laptop with the intent of writing the most spectacular of rants on my blog, but decided against it at the last minute.

It had to do with people's comments about Ian again. I know that it's quite natural to be so sensitive to how my little guy is perceived by everyone in these early days, but I've got to tell you, I wanted to smash a chair against the wall last night.

Take a breath, Tom. Those feelings are starting to rise up again as I write here.

I know it's hard for people to say the right thing, and that, in fact, there really is no "right thing" to say about all the feelings that are swirling around like a flushed toilet full of ... water.

Like the nurse who told me that Ian can never ride on rollercoasters because his neck muscles can't hack it. That's true, but did she have to tell me that two minutes after Ian was born and diagnosed with DS!? I mean, Ian still has blood all over him, Annie is being sewn up and you're handing me my son and telling me not to let him ride rollercoasters!?

That's actually pretty funny. Now.

But that's not what I got worked up about. It was just this little off-the-cuff remark about there being no disabilities in heaven. That sent me over the edge for some reason. I just wanted to tear apart the house and yell, "Ian is alive and here and yes he has a disability but don't talk about how wonderful it's going to be for him when he's dead because he's very much alive and he's smiling and trying to talk and I love him and I hope there are no insensitive people in heaven because if there are then I'm going to kill them and then I'll be kicked out of heaven with a one way ticket straight to hell!"

I'm glad I slept on it.

But you know what, I said some pretty stupid things when my niece died. I had to apologize to my sister for the weakness of my words, for wanting to say things that would ultimately make me feel better and back in control of the world. I'm trying to learn to give people the benefit of the doubt, even when I want to hide and rage and throw a tantrum that would make Silvi proud.

I'm anticipating the day when I don't fly off the handle so often. It's only been two-and-a-half months. (Is that all? I feel like I've lived ten lifetimes in these past weeks.) And I'm also looking forward to the day when all I have to write about is how bored I am at my job or tell you about the flat tire I got on the way home last Friday night and ripped my jeans jumping over a fence.

I miss being bored some days. Nah, I don't.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

sTrAiGhT aNsWeRs

Finally, we've gotten some straight answers concerning Ian's respiratory issues.

Doctor #1: "Ian looks great. See you in March."

Ahh, now we can relax and kick back for four more months. Ring, oops, excuse me, the phone is ringing. "Uh huh, OK, yup, umm, let me look on my calendar. Yeah, I can come in to see you tomorrow."

That was doctor #2. She thinks Ian's breathing is a bit "labored." Had me count his breaths while she timed them on the other end of the phone.

Doctor #2: "Well, after hooking Ian up to the Medieval Make Your Child Sit Vertically And Scream For Thirty Minutes X-Ray Machine, we see what appears to be a dark spot on his lungs. Why don't we schedule an appointment with Doctor #3 and see what she says, hmm?"

Doctor #3: "Ian looks really healthy and has great muscle tone. Aside from that raspy breathing I'd say he's perfectly healthy. But let's run some tests next month. In the mean time, here's a Make Your Child Sleep At A 45-Degree Angle Device and a little thing we like to call The Nebuliser. It's a mask that allows him to breath in this medicine we provide you. For how long, you ask? We give you a six month supply. Oh, you can get more, sure. He may need to do this once a day for years. Please see the receptionist on your way out to schedule a Let's See If Your Child Has Acid Reflux Test next month. We'll consult with Doctor #4 to see if additional tests will be required after that."

I love these straight answers.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Samuel John M.

I want to welcome my nephew, Samuel, who was born this afternoon in Michigan. Weighing in at 9.73 pounds and 20 inches long. I am so thrilled for my sister and brother-in-law and little niece, Emily. And I remember Hannah on this happiest of days. I love you all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why the world hates my son

Let's just say it out loud, alright? The world hates my son. Or at best, they pity him, which I think is just as bad.

Either way, the world wishes they did not have to face the questions my son's life requires asking.

I'm a layman philosopher. Not an expert. I read philosophy because it brings me joy. I love the ring of the precise words as they sit next to each other. The way philosophers take a flashlight and shine it into the shadows, searching for another piece of the puzzle that explains or mystifies.

Because I want to know the truth, because I want to see the world as it actually is and not the way I wish it to be, I must conclude that my son is hated.

Statistics are numbers that capture real events. They are scratches on paper that represent breathed experiences. And so if it is indeed true that 90% of mothers choose to end their pregnancies upon learning their future child will be like Ian, I have little choice but to believe that the world would prefer Ian's non-existence over his existence.

The world would prefer that my son did not exist.

Why use the word "hate?" As a layman philosopher, I realize the importance of using the right words. Would you prefer "distaste" or "dislike" or "hostility" or "animosity" or "loathe" or "abominate?"

Perhaps you think my language is too strong. OK, then I will use the word "fear."

The world fears my son.

Why?

To understand this, we must first understand the Story we are living. What are the central themes that we all appear to subscribe to?

What do the movies tell us? Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness tells us that if we work hard we can overcome all obstacles. That is the theme of most movies created here in these union of states called America. Sister Act, Apollo 13, Dead Poets Society, Rudy and Flashdance are some that jump to mind right away. All films I enjoy, by the way.

Or look at the best-selling books this week: You: Staying Young, Become a Better You, The Secret, Women and Money, Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life by Donald Trump.

It's all the Story of Progress. Work hard, more education, do your best.

But Ian is a stumbling block on this road to Progress.

Ian represents a limitation.

And the last thing the Story of Progress can tolerate is a limitation.

I read stories of parents afraid to allow their "normal" children to learn in the same classrooms with children like Ian. These parents are afraid it will hold their children back. Never do we hear parents say that having someone like Ian in the class will improve their "normal" child's chances of making it into Harvard or Princeton or Oxford.

It may help this "normal" child understand more fully what it means to be human, but that is not the Story we are living.

Advocates for children with Down syndrome may cringe at this assertion of mine, that the world hates my son. They may ask how stating such a thing is in any way helpful to advancing the cause of people like Ian.

I am all for advocacy and education. Ian's life will be all the better for it. And the lives of countless people with Down syndrome are better today than ever in history.

If they survive the womb.*

I think it is best to start with the blinders off and eyes wide open. Let's not fool ourselves. Ian forces us to ask questions that are not part of the Story of Progress. Questions about fidelity and sacrifice and suffering and love stripped of it's Romantic and nauseating lack of staying power.

Yes, the world hates my son. But it desperately needs him.

*I am not talking about the issue of abortion
here , but more about the decisions made to abort because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome in utero.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beauty saves the world

If Dostoevsky was right when he said that “Beauty will save the world,” then these Mexican artists with Down syndrome are indeed Beauty's sweetest voice.





Mujer by Lorena VĂ©lez
Artist (with Down syndrome)

Pulmonary specialist

(Updated) Ian's breathing is still labored, so Annie is taking him to the doctor for another checkup this morning. The doctor told Annie over the phone that we may need to take him to see a pulmonary specialist.

Ian sleeps well through the night, but it may be too well. All that work just to breath wears the little guy out. Breaks my heart, watching him work at it so hard. Some days he's so pale, like rice paper. His skin is translucent - delicate.

He's smiling a lot. And he's trying to laugh. I'm not sure, but I think he's laughing with me and not at me.


[2:45 pm - Ian has another appointment back at Children's Hospital on Monday afternoon to do more tests on his labored breathing.]

Mental Disability Rights International

In 2000, my wife and I went to Serbia to do a short documentary for a non-profit organization about the recovery efforts in Kosovo. That's why this story made such an impression on me. The organization Mental Disability Rights International is a good place to start if you want to get involved.
“There were rows upon rows of young people with Down syndrome,” Ms. Ahern said. “These children are mobile and can move around. But they are being left in metal coffins (their cribs) to lie there until the day they die.”


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lunch Break

It's lunch break and we're in the final stretch. Three long days and I've got the sore back to go with it.

Box lunch:
1 ham and cheese sandwich
potato salad
brownie
Dr. Pepper

Action!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wall-to-wall

The next three days are wall-to-wall video shoots. "Foods or famine" as my Iranian boss says in his broken English.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday afternoon

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm watching the kids while Annie's out with a friend from South Africa. It's been a quiet weekend, save for Silvi screaming in the background as she is apt to do prior to all naps. She's got a cold and is trying to fend off another fever. How Ian sleeps through her cries I have no idea.

In a few hours Annie and I are going on a date to watch a soccer game at the Metrodome with one Mr. David Beckham. Although I'm not a huge fan, I am a fan nonetheless, and the days when I get to watch a proper soccer match are few and far, far between.

I'll let you know if he lives up to the hype...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Stanley Harwuz...Hour...Hauerwas

Last night I went to the University of Minnesota to hear Stanley Hauerwas, named America's best theologian by Time Magazine, present the Twelfth Annual Holmer Memorial Lecture.

Wait, wait, come back. Oh alright, go.

About half my readers just walked out of the room. For you remaining few, notice how much elbow room you now have? Spread out; make yourself comfortable.

I went to hear him because he is one of leading advocates for people with intellectual disabilities. For the past 40 years he's written many insightful books that reflect on the lives of people with disability, such as Down syndrome.

He emphasizes friendship and community, as well a life of service to others, as the primary dimensions of what it means to be human and to live humanly. (This, in my opinion, is the main weakness in the ethics of the philosopher Kant, who calls us to treat others as an end instead of means. While this is a good thing, but does not go far enough.)

Last night he was giving a lecture on the role of theology in the university. I won't go into details about it here; he wrote a book on it if you're interested. In brief, he doesn't think theology should be taught as a discipline, but should serve learning by shedding light on how the disciplines are and are not connected. This, he says, must be accomplished without a return to Christendom.

OK. How's it going out there. I see one or two people are still here.

I think I've found a new favorite writer in Dr. Hauerwas. I went up to him afterwards and told him that I appreciated all the work he has done on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities. He seemed affable and gentle, although you wouldn't know it from his talk.

One other thing. Stanley Hauerwas is an outspoken pacifist. Many of you know that I spent some time in the service about twenty years or so ago. Yup, that's me in my Army uniform, doing some jungle school training down in Panama.

I wish I had a few hours to talk with Dr. Hauerwas. I haven't solidified my thoughts on "just war" or outright pacifism, although I'm probably closer to Billy Carter than George W. Bush. I'm constantly torn between William Wallace and Mahatma Gandhi.

Well, I just saw the last person walk out the door.

Anyway, I went to hear a lecture last night. It was cool.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Global Market

Last night after my "Woo is me" pity party, I took Silvi out for a couple of hours to one of my favorite places here in Minneapolis, The Global Market. Years ago when I used to work in downtown Seattle, I loved to walk to Pike Place Market and soak in it's weathered, worn-down atmosphere. I would sit with a hot chai latte and watch for hours as the ferries meandered lazily to and from Bainbridge Island.

The Global Market doesn't quite live up to the mystique of Pike Place, but it has its own charm. Minneapolis has a large international community, especially people from Somalia. In fact, I think that other than Somalia, we have the highest concentration of Somali's anywhere.

Imigrants from all over the world have booths in the market where they sell various trinkets, clothing and food that makes my mouth water as I sit here writing about it. I took my camera with me and snapped a bunch of photos as Silvi and I wandered aimlessly. I have a cheap digital camera from Walmart and long for the day when I can buy a professional digital SLR camera.

A few weeks ago I wish that I had any camera with me. Throughout the week, various events take place in the center of the market, and on that particular night it was belly dancing. The dancer was exquisite and had Silvi join her out on the floor after tying a scarf around her little blond head. How I wish I had my camera!

Last night they were teaching free Celtic dance lessons. No, I did not join them. I haven't watched Riverdance in a long time so felt no need to make a spectacle of myself in front of complete strangers. (I'll have to tell you sometime about my stint as a ballroom dance instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. I don't think I've danced formally since.)

I love living in big cities. I've been fortunate to have lived in many of them: Chicago, Seattle, Denver, West Palm Beach, and now Minneapolis. I like to take a bus or train to the heart of the city and wander, exploring second-hand bookstores, sneaking into expansive hotel lobbies, listening to musicians play on the sidewalk. And although I don't share Ayn Rand's take on life, I do share her infatuation with tall buildings and bustling streets and narrow alleyways that call for exploration.

I once read a book on the need for men to take to the wilderness from time-to-time in order to reclaim their place in the world. My wilderness is the city. After reading that book, I took a train - alone - along the Pacific coast to Vancouver where I spent three days wandering for miles through crowded streets full of music and shops and life. I'll never forget sitting on the beach as the sun set, watching the hordes of street performers and tourists and skateboarders and families meander along the boardwalk.

Minneapolis is a quiet city, if you compare it to Chicago or Seattle. But on a summer night, when the humidity breaks, you'll find the tables packed on many restaurant patio's or in front of the many pubs and bars on the city streets. If you look hard, you might just spot me walking with my daughter (and son and wife, when he grows a bit) wandering aimlessly, in search of nothing more than the thrill of being alive.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The days before

I was looking back over some of my posts, and was surprised at how it felt to see my entry for the day before Ian was born. It's just a little video I threw together with some pictures of Silvi.

But what I felt, was, I feel like a horrible dad for even thinking it, but I wanted to feel that way again. You know? Back when things were... "normal."

I don't want an extra chromosome, a "little angel", a "gift from God". I don't want to be a part of a special community. I want to blend in, like everyone else.

And I don't want to have to reassert the fact that I love Ian. Of course I love him... he's my little guy.


Sorry. It's hitting me a bit hard this week. I think I need a trip somewhere sunny.

[Updated: It's an hour later. I should have mentioned that I wrote this post after watching videos on YouTube and being bombarded by juvenile attempts at being funny at the expense of others, like this video. I know, I know. Don't watch them. Too late.]

I'm a quitter

Only a few days into the month and I'm already bailing on the NaBloPoMo exercise in writing.

I hate doing things because I have to.

And I'm not big on group activities. At parties you'll find me on the outer edges, either talking with a few friends or just sitting alone, enjoying people watching.

Plus I've got a bad case of the pre-winter blues; I'm sure no one wants to read about how long I stare at the screen without knowing what to say. If you do, here you go:






















I've been meaning to paint my cabinets; I'll call you when the paint begins to dry. I'm sure you'll enjoy the show.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Lucy, you have some esplainin' to do!"

Our cardiologist skipped Bedside Manners 101. But she seems competent. Or does she?

Altogether-Too-Peppy-For-The-Situation-Cardiologist: "Ian's heart is still enlarged and there's pressure on his lungs. Thanks for coming in; see you in March."

Annie: "Uhh, hmmm, okaaaayyyy."

Altogether-Too-Peppy-For-The-Situation-Cardiologist: "Otherwise, he looks great. Bye-bye, now."

Lucy!*

*That's from I Love Lucy, for all you youngsters out there.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Blues

Man, is it just me, or is the first week of November the new middle-of-February? I hope Thanksgiving helps break through this funk a lot of the people I know seem to be in. Mostly me.

Trust, and a little OCD

I probably shouldn't be blogging today: The first snowflakes are drifting down, the Vikings won yesterday and Britney Spear's scowl continues to make going through the checkout counter an irritating experience.

But I'm committed to writing each day this month (thanks a lot, Isabel). Oh well. Let's hope my self-censoring radar will kick in before I become inappropriately transparent.

I think one of the benefits to having good people in our lives is their ability to act as mirrors. Without Annie, I would probably consider myself to be a normal and well-rounded guy. I would think that it's perfectly sane to refuse to drink milk more than three days old, that everyone buys journals in bulk without writing in them and that reading for eight hours straight is a good way to improve my social life. (Who says imaginary friends can't make you happy? Try telling Calvin that Hobbes doesn't make him happy.)

Without my wife, I would also probably think that buying a new/used Bible every other week is a reasonable use of my pocket cash.

I used to buy lots of Bibles. Every translation I could get my hands on. NIV, The Message, NKJV, NLT, RSV, with and without cheese. I won't bore you with a list of them all.

I'm not very "religious," at least I don't think so. I pop into a traditional church service once or twice a year, I have no idea what to do when Lent rolls around and haven't the foggiest which side goes first when making the Sign of the Cross. I just try to mimic Jesus, like a little brother following around big brother, annoying the crap out of him (no offense, Luke).

I'm sure I would have annoyed Jesus. "Umm, Tom, it's cool you want to hang out with me and all, but I'm heading out into the desert for some alone time."

Anyway, I'm getting off track here. I knew I should have just posted more pictures today.

Over the years I think I've figured this Bible-buying compulsion thing out. It comes down to a matter of trust.

See, I just don't trust many "Christians." That goes for Bible publishing "Christians" as well. For instance, it's hard for me to read the English Standard Version translation because one of the professors on the translation team is friends with an organization for which I have a strong dislike. I struggle to read the New Living Translation because Pat Roberson likes it. (Sorry, Pat, I know everyone uses you as a whipping boy, but you bring it on yourself.)

Yeah, I know, like I'm Mr. Perfect. Shhh... I'm bearing my soul here.

I also don't trust advertising. Probably because I'm in the industry. I know how jaded and skeptical - and manipulative - advertising is prone to be. Walk down the religion section of any bookstore and look at all the brightly colored Bibles. Try not to think of the team of graphic artists and sales associates and marketing personnel and MBA's who helped put that Bible on the shelf. I used to tear the covers off of my Bibles because it bugged me so much.

Alright, so that last part is pretty weird. And I knew that before Annie told me so. But, hey, you're the one who's still reading about my warped sense of trust.

I suppose that I am still trying to find a Bible that is untainted by flawed people, although I realize that it's a futile search. It's just so hard to learn to trust, you know? My wife's helping me in that department. So are Silvi and Ian.

Stupid winter. Making me look like a freak in front of everyone.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My best friends

Just as the sun was rubbing the sleep from it's eyes this morning, Silvi and I settled into some chairs at Brit's to watch Arsenal beat Manchester United. Again. The pub was packed with fans of both teams; Silvi has chosen, wisely, to throw in with her Dad's favorite, United.

Seeing so many friends gathered together made me think of my own friends. I've got a few guys I consider good friends, but my best friends in life, apart from my wife, have always been my sister and brother.

In the picture above, we're in Hollywood; it was the early 90's. My sister and I drove out from Colorado, where we were living, to meet up with my brother in LA and head down to Baja for some surfing, cheap ponchos and fish tacos so fresh they came with tackle gear in case they slipped away. And orange Fanta or a Corona - with a wedge of lime. My sister and I drove straight through, with Led Zeppelin as our wailing travel companion. On cassette. This was before the CD era. (Man, I'm old. I remember when calculators... but I digress.)

We wandered around Rosarito, bargaining with the shop keepers, stuffing ourselves until the shocks on the rented car begged for mercy. We rode some skinny, lethargic horses on the beach, listened to music, surfed (I nearly drowned, but that's another story) and fell asleep with the patio door open just enough to allow the crash of the waves give us the best night of sleep ever recorded in written history. It's in the Guinness Book of Records. Look it up.

If I took the time to tell you about all the good memories I have with my sister and brother, I would make Tolstoy look like a short story writer. We are all married now, with children, and live in separate parts of the country. Despite the distance, I think of them often, especially whenever I hear Robert Plant tell me "it's time to ramble on" or the wind whips the waves onto our little beach.

The days go so quickly. I think that's why I've started carrying my digital camera with me so often. After United hung their head in defeat this morning, all the friends filtered out into the streets, some laughing, some looking like they had just drank beer imported from Wisconsin. But I was only thinking about how I wished my sister and brother could have joined me on this fine Fall morning.

Thanking a friend

This month I am participating in NaBloPoMo, a month long writing exercise that occurs annually in November. I found out about it via my friend Isabel over at Beyond the Map. Her entry today was especially meaningful to me because, well, it's about me!

Thanks Isabel! Your words were very touching; I'm so glad we discovered each other's blogs and are able to continue to share our lives together.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Noises

We live in an apartment. An older one, but we love the neighborhood. It's the kind of place where your daughter can leave her coat at the playground and it's still there the next day. Not that my daughter will ever do that.

It took me a while to get used to all the noises in our place. The ticks of the water pipes seem to be louder on these cold mornings. We have thick walls, so the neighbors don't bother us much. And the lady across the hall who was always getting arrested was evicted last year.

We live in the flight path for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. We have become expert lip readers, although I can't figure out why every time I ask Annie what time we're eating supper she says, "Sex." I mean, I know I'm all that, but c'mon, let's eat first. (And yes, I stole that last bit from Seinfeld.)

We have a cat - George. A royal name, and I think he knows it. He likes to have us watch him eat and has learned to use the toilet. I'm glad he doesn't like us to watch the latter. He has long white fur that perfectly matches the color of the carpet. He's gotten much quicker since moving into this apartment.

Our refrigerator is getting old. One of it's belts is loose, and so it squeals every so often. The sound it makes is almost identical to the little squeaking sounds Ian makes when he's sleeping.

With all the noises, I'm bracing for that "perfect storm" situation, the day when the fridge squeals at the exact moment a jet passes overhead and I leap to check on Ian only to trip over George, who is blending perfectly with the floor beneath me.

I wonder how George would feel about becoming a brunette?

Thursday, November 01, 2007