Parenting Tips

48% Dread, 52% Magic


I can’t stop staring at this photograph, though it fairly twists up my insides. Despite the vaguely unpleasant mix of light-headedness and fluttering heartbeats triggered by the rich memories conjured up, I am transfixed. Mesmerized. I’m staring into my own eyes spanning a yawning gap of 36 or 37 years.  One one end, looking into an exhilaratingly unknown future, with absolutely zero idea of what may come. Perhaps wondering whether my older self will have figured things out somewhere down the line. On the other end, looking backwards in time, desperate to catch a glimpse of that deer-in-the-headlights boy’s thoughts, the same age then as my younger son is now, give or take.  

If we were to meet today,  this boy and I, would he feel pride, or disappointment, in the life he and I have lived?

I honestly don’t know.

I stumbled on this photograph of a photograph in the midst of what has become an annual event marked by melancholy and reminiscing. My maternal grandmother passed away four years ago yesterday — a seismic event still felt palpably by my mother’s side of the family.  Still felt by me.  Glutton for punishment that I apparently am, I have not afforded myself the opportunity to let my grandmother’s death clear my system.  Rather, I have been doggedly blogging around and within its periphery beginning a few days after she died.  And for the past year, I have been pounding a book intended to honor her into the keys of my MacBook’s keypad. Running so many laps around Memory Lane that I have lost count.  

The photo above, plucked from my mother’s shoebox of pictures in the wake of my grandmother’s  death, owns a permanent address on Memory Lane. I have passed it repeatedly, rubbernecking at a sprint every time. The boy with the tongue and the boy with the dread, Pete and Teddy, respectively, are still with me.  Pete lives in Calistoga with his family, and thankfully emerged from those recent wine country fires in one piece. Teddy lives in Chicago, newly married on a gorgeous Florida beach, to a woman who sees as much in him as I always have.  Pete’s comical expression is pretty typical for that time period; actually, pretty typical for any time period.  Funny enough, almost, to make me forgive him for smashing my borrowed electric guitar at a college lip synch competition of his.

The purple tongue is admittedly vexing, because I can assure you that my parents stocked nothing in our kitchen cupboards capable of staining anyone’s tongue that particular color.  Or any color, for that matter. Powdered milk and oatmeal molasses cookies and buckwheat pancakes (“thick-ass buckwheat flapjacks,” as Pete reminds me) don’t leave that kind of mark. I’d put my money on a contraband grape lollipop snuck into 115 Robineau Road amidst the chaos of my little birthday party.  I suspect Pete knows precisely how many licks it takes to get to the center of that cartoon owl’s Tootsie Pop

In Teddy’s face, I sense a certain wariness.  A concern about what might happen next.  At the time, he was working his way through the complicated dynamics of his parents’ divorce, and I recall that this took a toll on his emotional well-being.  On the other hand, Teddy knew how emphatic my parents — particularly my father — were about sugar and artificial coloring and health foods and such.  His flat expression is equally likely to have been inspired by a fear of my father’s anticipated reaction to Pete’s Purple Tongue. Maybe my dad would insist on “entertaining” us boys in the backyard with yet another episode of breaking bricks with his bare fist. Thrilling to me; terrifying to my buddies, who always read into the brick-breaking some sort of message to them.  In this case, maybe “This is what will happen to the next friend of Keir’s who brings a Tootsie Pop into my house — CRAAAAAACKKK!”  It’s possible 12 year-old Teddy foresaw this scene, as I suggested in a text I sent to 49 year-old Ted this morning along with the photo.  He responded, “My formative years consisted of 48% dread. My apologies for the facial expression.” 

No apologies necessary, my man. That still leaves 52% for the magic part.

My 12 year-old self may or may not agree, but by this point, I might argue that a life made of 52% magic and 48% dread is a life well-lived. 

Thanks for reading. 

Shaken, Not Stirred

The tables have turned.

Yesterday morning saw me begrudgingly play the role of my wife’s stiff-legged running partner. Plucked from bed by the ankles in mid-slumber. Pressured to leave the cozy confines of our Queen-sized bed in order to shuffle in the chilly rain for 40 dark minutes.

Today, however, I was the heel grabber, not the heel grabbee. Grabbed the bull by the horns, you might say. And somehow, like yesterday, when our roles were reversed, I’m reasonably confident that things worked out well.

Before kids (at the turn of the century), Hilary and I were regular devotees of Bikram Yoga. Eighteen years ago, we would eagerly sweat our way through 26 “poses” intended to pretzel ones limbs in a stifling room, with an ambient air temperature not far removed from our toaster oven’s “broil” setting. It sounds awful, and it is actually worse than it sounds. At least until you settle in and get yourself accustomed to the overheated misery over the course of many sessions. One of my fondest memories of my wife involves witnessing her standing in “Balancing Stick” pose with her 9 month-old pregnant belly protruding proudly (the human we would later meet, called “Max,” was in there somewhere). She looked like a freakin’ warrior, and I was in awe. (As I said just yesterday, she is tough.)

But in the ensuing years, two kids and a mortgage and law firms and start ups and a puppy and slowed metabolisms and pre-arthritic toe knuckles and friends and loved ones coming and going and all of the rest of normal life conspired to keep Hil and me out of the yoga studio.

I missed it.

So this New Year, with some newfound free time due to one child being away at boarding school, I resolved to take a crack at revisiting this small piece of our former lives. Unbeknownst to Hilary, I signed us up for a month of Bikram. I handed her the gift certificate on Christmas Morning, feeling very proud of myself. At the time, we were far away from home with a gaggle of family, so I didn’t think to loop back around afterwards to confirm that my gift was as well-received as it was well-intentioned. I simply assumed that, once again, the “World’s Best Husband” statuette would stand firmly on my bedroom bureau for yet another year. Sigh.

This morning marked the appointed Bikram Day One. I awoke fired up. I assumed we were both fired up. Then I noticed immediately that my enthusiasm was mine alone. Out of the blue, Hilary started giving currency to a litany of (objectively reasonable) excuses. I know about excuses. She was trying to weasel out of Bikram, I realized.

But there would be no weaseling.

Yes, our 12 year-old would be home alone for nearly three hours. Yes, this likely violates one or more criminal statutes regarding child neglect. Yes, our dog is whimpering from some inexplicable, circular chunk mysteriously missing from her hindquarters since yesterday. Yes, it is possible that one explanation for the Silver Dollar Chunk was inattentive driveway driving on my part. Yes, we are at least 16 years older than the last time we twisted ourselves up into sweaty balls among two dozen strangers.

Still, all of this paled in comparison to the angelic vision of my 103-degree wife in Full Locust Pose that I hoped to rekindle. So, against the better judgment of perhaps anyone not named “Keir,” I insisted that we press on.

And off we went.

It was hot. It was hard. My bouts of dizziness verged on passing out more than once. I caught my own eyes unintentionally cross-eyed in the mirror a half-dozen times. But I did manage to sneak a quick glimpse or two at Hilary; spied her face set with intensity and mettle, completely oblivious to my voyeurism. I saw my warrior again. Maybe she saw her warrior too.

Perhaps a better husband would have cut his wife some slack. Let her off the hook this morning. For sure, we will both be terribly sore along our rib cages and such for several days. And our 12 year-old came very close to dialing up Child Services during our absence, assuaged only when we agreed to make him syrupy pancakes for breakfast. And our dog ended up with an unscheduled vet appointment. There she earned an unwanted new accoutrement reminiscent of an adult beverage at cocktail hour (see above photo; see above blog title).

Nevertheless, well worth it, in my view. To travel back in time nearly two decades, recapturing at least a sliver of our younger selves. And maybe setting in motion something old yet new that we can both enjoy together once or twice a week now in the New Year, and perhaps beyond. On the other hand, I may have to wait another 16 years to see my warrior again. I suppose I’m good with either scenario.

Thanks for reading.

It’s Rainin’ Men!



My arguably overly-competitive wife fairly dragged me out of bed this morning by my heels. Insisting I make good on my half-hearted, casually-issued “promise” last night to the effect that I would run with her in the morning. 

I generally love the idea of running with my wife.   I really do. Just the thought of the two of us gallivanting with full lungs and full hearts, holding hands while prancing along Crissy Field, brings a smile to my face.  Look at us! Soulmates! Look at me! World’s Greatest Husband! 

The reality of these runs tends to be quite different.

Take this morning: While admittedly not on par with the Bomb Cyclone, the weather was uninviting. Still dark, pouring rain in big fat drops that the Super Doppler failed to detect and report on a quick check of our iPhone weather apps.   The dog obsessively walked circles in the street, clearly struggling to muster the courage to execute her morning constitution in the midst of this downpour.  So Hilary and I stood witness, helpless and slump-shouldered, getting soaked to the bone before the run had even officially begun. 

Eventually we begin. And with the rain and cold and dark and headlamps and lengthy pooping routine and failure to stretch beforehand, I note that my lower back is knotted up like a fist as we cross Marina Boulevard. I commence with shuffling, reluctantly, in the general direction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  But this is not the worst part. The worst part, I know, is that my own personal drama is about to be magnified exponentially.

Typically, amidst early morning drudgery such as this, my gender is embarrassingly underrepresented.  Don’t get me wrong. There are many males of varying ages who populate my daily existence with myriad admirable qualities and aplomb.  (Exhibit A: The, um, heroic gents photographed above.) Nevertheless, I have long since made peace with my own inferiority, and that of all men, when it comes to the Gumption Department.  Any man who has witnessed a woman giving birth knows what I’m talking about. No man would willingly give birth once, let alone more than once.  Sixteen years after my firstborn’s birth, and I still can’t fathom how or why Hilary agreed to go through that experience twice. 

So this morning, I fully expect that all the dudes will still be asleep. Leaving the suffering of soaking wet, early morning runs to the tougher gender. And Hilary will amplify my shame by uttering a barely discernible “mmhmm” every time we cross paths with yet another woman gamely gritting her teeth through these lousy conditions. Yep, this run is gonna suck, pretty much all the way around. 

Except for some reason, this morning was different. My own physical discomfort never really resolved. But I was able to find distraction through engaging my wife in quantifying this Battle of the Sexes.  Counting up the number of men running compared to the number of women doing the same. Audibly as each human passed us in the opposite direction, completely oblivious to their critical role in my household’s bragging rights.

And of course, as the Battle unexpectedly jockeyed back and forth in the 10-10 range nearing our run’s turnaround point, Hilary and I began splitting hairs. Does a walker count? How about a walker who was apparently or soon will become, a runner? As in, “those are definitely running clothes, so she must be just warming down, she counts!” Are we allowed to interfere with fate by patting a startled walker on the butt in an effort to inspire the runner within, thereby adding another notch to our gender’s count?  

In the end, much to my surprise (and that of my far tougher wife), the men won in a relative landslide, 17 to 12.  It wasn’t even close, as it turns out. I haven’t the foggiest idea how this happened. But I do know that I will spend the weekend beating my chest about the resiliency of my fellow men, maybe this whole giving birth thing actually isn’t that much of a big deal, your “bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan” refrain pales in comparison to my Spartan qualities, etc.  

Of course I won’t say any of those things.  Nope. Because such boasting will only lead to my being grabbed by the heels again on another cold and rainy morning next week.  And I don’t think we men are capable of repeating this morning’s victory.  So I will have to settle for (quietly) savoring this one glorious morning when indeed, for once, it was rainin’ men. 

Thanks for reading. 

This Is Not the Dad You’re Looking For….


Another parenting milestone today.  One I absolutely saw coming.  Utterly predictable. Should have accepted it with grace.  Better yet, I could have avoided it altogether. Alas, I attempted one more “spandex-suited school lunch” with my second born than the universe would allow. And when I say “universe,” I mean my newly-minted 12 year-old’s sense of propriety. 

This is a tradition I have enjoyed for approximately a dozen years, give or take, since my elder son was a kindergartner.  Saddle up and ride my bike from our home in San Francisco out to my sons’ school in Marin. Slide into the cafeteria line, and enjoy a little lunch with one of my boys.  When Max or Everett measured up merely to my navel, these unannounced journeys would be met with genuine “My Dad is here! My Dad is here!” over-the-top enthusiasm.  They might even jump into my arms at a full sprint, causing my slick cycling shoes to lose purchase with the pavement. I don’t think this magic ever wore off for Max, even as he grew taller, older, and graduated out.  

Everett, on the other hand, is officially over it. After today, I suspect he would avert his eyes, disclaim my paternity, possibly take a vow of silence as it relates to me, should I tempt fate with a lunchtime bike ride ever again. 

Back to today. I arrived at school with a few minutes to spare before the appointed lunch hour of 12:05pm, using it to clean up in the adult restroom, so as not to appear a sweaty mess with a mohawk-esque hairdo.  As I duck-walked towards the bathroom, I saw a strangely familiar face head off in the other direction — at least I thought I saw a familiar face.  I dismissed the notion almost immediately, as I was already wasting precious time and had to focus on stepping daintily in the name of safety with cycling shoes that aren’t made for stepping on anything. Plus, why in the world would George Lucas be hanging around my kids’ school? 

So I cleaned up.  Cleaned up nice, even. Made my way (carefully, again) back to the usual rendezvous point at which I’ve met my sons dozens of times over a dozen years.  I saw Everett come running at a full sprint with the rest of his buddies, as if none had eaten in weeks.  I felt the familiar feeling of expectation and anticipation as he approached. Our eyes met, he stopped short, and I knew — immediately — that I had made a terrible mistake.  I was not the Dad he was looking for, “Star Wars” aficionados might have said.  I suspect he didn’t want to see any Dad. Certainly not his dad, at least not while his dad was decked out in spandex.  

To Everett’s credit, he was polite. (His parents have evidently taught him some manners.) We sat across from each other at the lunch table, my legs cramping due to a seat too close to the floor, and ate.  Unlike every other lunch like this over the years, he and I were an island unto ourselves.  His school chums did not sit with us.  No high-fives with anyone — though I have coached many of them on baseball and basketball teams over the years. Ev suffered through 15 minutes of relative ostracism. Gamely — if monosyllabically — answering my vanilla questions that fell flat at striking up a meaningful conversation.  Thankfully, the kiddie rumor mill confirmed that George Lucas had apparently visited campus that morning.  My “sighting” of him sparked a few seconds of novelty and appreciation in my 6th grader’s eyes, saving me from an otherwise disastrous lunch. 

Everett and I became separated in the chaotic recycling/composting/garbage line that immediately follows lunch.  I scanned the room and playground.  But he wasn’t there.  For a moment or two more, I hung around out of force of habit. I am conditioned to his needing to see me, and his feeling abandoned if I disappear unannounced without saying goodbye. The moment passed.  And that period of his life where he needed to see me and say goodbye has passed, too, I realized, standing there in my spandex and slippery cycling shoes.  

Yet another instance where I grudgingly acknowledge that I am slowly working myself out of the best job I have ever had: Being Dad. 

I geared up for the long ride home, without exchanging goodbyes with my son.  A bit of an empty feeling in my stomach, despite the full plate of cafeteria food gurgling away in there.  The trek back to San Francisco was more challenging than it should have been, most likely because I had taken a bit of an emotional hit.  I arrived back home on fumes — physically and emotionally running on empty.  This was the fatigued and depleted state in which I lingered, in a bit of a funk, while absent-mindedly pulling on sneakers to take the dog for a quick afternoon jaunt around the block. 


Fortunately, I caught my error shortly before Everett arrived back home on the school bus.  Disaster (narrowly) averted.  I had barely endured the morning’s “Last Spandex Lunch” experience. I surely would not have survived the disgusted look on Ev’s face had he spied his old man shuffling around the house with two different sneakers on. And this time, George Lucas could not save me. 

Thanks for reading.  

Santa Claus Is (Not) Coming to Town


This longstanding letter-writing tradition will not be repeated in the Beadling Household this year. For the first time in 16 years, there will be no Santa Claus on Beach Street. This sudden, stunning development hardly lacks for explanation.  

To be sure, for example, Everett has stretched — and arguably burst like a popped balloon — the boundaries between “naughty” and “nice.”

Last night, he deployed some trademark foot-dragging on the way to his piano lesson. He emphasized his displeasure with this weekly task, and tamped down any minuscule notion in my head of future rock stardom, by sarcastically promising to pay me $100 should he “ever have a career in the music business.” This is a piece of U.S. Currency he has absolutely zero intention of slapping into my hand. Later, Ev maligned his obligation to participate in that evening’s Midweeklies Holiday Dance, and wore in protest the exact same jacket and tie outfit he has worn for this event for the past two months, like a prison jumpsuit. At the celebratory event’s conclusion, Ev expressed major aggravation, bordering on outrage, that his parents arrived to pick him up at 8:02 pm rather than the appointed hour of 8:00 pm: “See?! This is why I need an iPhone!” 

Just this morning, I attempted to “healthy up” some leftover macaroni and cheese by tossing in a handful of spinach leaves. Surveying the breakfast offering warily without breaking stride, Everett announced, “Nice try, Dad,” and speed-walked right out of the kitchen.  Eventually, he took up his place at the table, spending 15 minutes pushing differently-colored items to and from different corners of his plate.  Though he appeared to be earnestly absorbing our informative lectures about nutrition and “the most important meal of the day,” Everett, we later realized, had wisely run out the clock.  No more time for eating this mushy spinach, you see, since the school bus would be leaving the school bus stop in about two minutes hence.

Everett’s obstinance continued unabated in our garage, as he filled those two minutes by grumpily untying and retying his fairly new sneakers with quintuple knots. Somehow those quintuple knots are directly attributable to something my wife did or did not do.  “Ask mom!” he snapped when I asked why he hadn’t let me simply cut and burn the laces’ ends.  He then came as close as he ever has to breaking my pristine, 12-year streak of bus stop perfection. The bus pulled away from the curb, then came to an abrupt halt, as my little ingrate sprinted toward it with a frown. I managed an apologetic wave to our friend the bus driver, and then tried to convey a disapproving scowl through tinted windows at the general area where my son usually sits.

So yes, this insolent behavior might be off-putting to Santa. 

But Santa’s conspicuous absence this year could also be explained by some arguably rough treatment in the past.  Like the time our dog chewed him to bits. Leaving poor Santa in our backyard, disheveled and fearing for his life —

Screenshot 2017-12-01 08.41.24

Or the time we (allegedly) ran Santa over —


For what it’s worth, this particular traffic mishap cannot be blamed on me.  As my wife will tell you, I haven’t managed to parallel park our Prius (or anybody’s else’s Prius) this close to the curb in years. 

Could it be, then, because we are blithely breaking with tradition, embarking on a family trip to warmer climes this year, rather than staying home and awaiting our hung stockings to be filled? I suspect Santa will forgive our attempt to make some new memories in this, the first Holiday season since my wife’s mom passed away.  Under the circumstances, even Everett sees the merit of sacrificing his usual gaggle of gifts under the Christmas tree for airplane tickets. 

In fact, none of this explains why there’ll be no milk and cookies and carrot sticks left on our fireplace’s mantel this year.

The real reason is that 2017 marks the first Christmas Season in which Everett knows Santa doesn’t exist. I can hardly fathom how we kept the dream alive for as long as we did. But indeed, it is the end of the road for St. Nick in these parts. Rough stuff for our second-born (and for his parents).  And I think he’s having a hard time with it: Letting go of Santa Claus.

The other night at dinner, Everett concocted an elaborate fib about a bright crimson, recently-bloody scratch that had mysteriously appeared on his neck during the school day. Ev claimed he had merely stumbled and fallen in a bush.  Later, under intense questioning from his mother,  he admitted that a friend of his had scratched him in anger, right after Everett had chucked a football at said friend’s head. Also in anger. Ev assured us, however, that he and his friend had ultimately “worked it out.” Nevertheless, given our past experiences with both of our children, we remain conditioned to anxiously await a call or email from school.  The call never came. The email never sent.

Maybe the “Football Scratch Incident” was truly not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, we figured. Then again, maybe Santa had one final gift up his sleeve, even if Everett and his family probably didn’t deserve it.  

Screenshot 2017-12-01 08.41.45

Thanks for reading. And Happy Holidays. 

The Twelve-Year Streak Lives On….


The streak remains intact.  Clean and unbroken. Impossibly consistent. My kids haven’t missed a yellow schoolbus ride to their school in 12 years.  I swear it.  This award-worthy achievement came under scrutiny this morning, however, as my 6th grader evidently cannot wrap his little mind around the scope of this beacon of pure perfection. He peppered me with, “Are you sure we’ve never missed the bus, ever? Like, never? You sure? Hmmm.”  

The interrogation’s intensity — calling into question my punctuality and credibility — nearly broke me.  My breathing grew shallow. My face froze in a familiar “There’s-no-credit-card-in-my-back-pocket-to-pay-for-all-these-bagged-groceries-and-Oh-God-look-at-that-huge-line-of-exasperated-shoppers-behind-me” expression.

Is it possible that I am mistaken? Have I overstated my case?

A ninety-percent bus stop success rate is admirable. Likely something Everett’s Head of School would point out in front of a couple hundred super-impressed parents at an upcoming All-School Assembly. Eighty-five percent probably means inclusion in a congratulatory remark in the next school newsletter.

Why did I feel the need to throw down the gauntlet and lay claim to supremacy? To risk snatching defeat from the jaws of easy victory?

Is it because I can’t bear the thought of losing yet another argument to my 11 year-old? Or because I resist any further chipping away at my eggshell-thin patina of parental invincibility? Or because, honestly and objectively, I fear I have achieved so little in my life that this feels like, well, a major achievement? All of these are true, at least in part, to be sure.  

But mostly, my tight fists and their white knuckles clutch at the end of a rope; a fading connection between father and sons. 

After all these years of harried, stressed, often argumentative sprints to the bus stop just around the corner, I realize now that our morning ritual will not last. I’ve begun the migration from numbly going through the motions of the daily schlep to recognizing the feeling of yet another schlep falling through my spread fingers.  Looking down at my hand, holding far fewer schleps than those piled in the seemingly bottomless mound at my feet the day when my now 16 year-old scrambled up the kindergarten bus steps for the first time. So many years ago, suddenly.   

There will come a time when 7:43am no longer jolts the adrenals, slowly receding back among all the other unremarkable minutes in a day. When no Beadling boy climbs those three black, rubberized steps that had seemed to shrink in size from one school year to the next.   When no Beadling parent strains to glimpse through tinted windows a familiar, hat-wearing silhouette shuffling back through the rows in a southerly direction.  When I look down to see that my hand is empty. When I am left only with my own, increasingly fleeting recollections, and a handful of iPhone photos hastily taken along the way.  


But for now, the streak lives on.

Thanks for reading.  

iPhone for Flu Shot: Quid pro Quo


Everett Baker Beadling is in for a big surprise. He won’t know what hit him.  Couldn’t possibly have seen it coming.  Simply not a sufficient number of neural connections in his developing brain as of yet to compete at this lofty level.  My brain and his mother’s brain combined boast 200 trillion synapses; Everett’s a paltry 100 trillion.  Pfft, this is gonna be like taking candy from a baby.  That is a terrible analogy, actually, since my own instinct for self-preservation overrides anything so reckless and suicidal as taking Everett’s bag of remnant Halloween candy.  

But we are not above deploying blatant, ugly bribery with Everett from time-to-time in order to achieve what we believe to be ends sitting squarely in Everett’s own self-interest. When I say “we,” in this particular case I mean “I.” Hilary must maintain plausible deniability on this one, just in case our sophisticated plot — I mean my sophisticated plot — falls flat, requiring a separate battle plan to be drawn up and executed by a separate commander. 

Most parents set lofty life goals for their children, imagining a “sky-is-the-limit” future. Hilary and I simply want our 6th grader to steer clear of type 2 diabetes and stay properly inoculated.  Is this too much to hope for? 

Apparently so, as Everett has proclaimed a standing prohibition on shots of any kind for any purpose, whether the shots purport to be painful or painless.  We don’t even utter the word “shot” around the house, for fear of triggering a fainting spell or Grand Mal seizure on Everett’s part. It’s like the one person in the hypnotist’s audience who is hooked, dropping to the ground like a rag doll upon the invocation of the secret word.  Saying aloud “shot,” or anything that rhymes with “shot,” and you will hear Everett crumple to the carpet with a “flummpf” in another room. This poses a real problem this time of year, in particular, since Hilary keeps trying to add “Get Everett a flu shot” to my to-do list. 

Then there is exercise. Well, any physical movement, really.  Anything requiring more metabolic processes and involving a higher caloric burn rate than those associated with binge watching “The Flash,” or “Stranger Things,” or pretty much any things, whilst sitting dead still on the living room couch.  Add in the seasonal, bulging, orange pillowcase of Milky Ways and Nerds and Gobstoppers surgically attached to Everett’s wrist, and you can start to appreciate our concern for his spiked insulin levels.  We wouldn’t dare flush his Halloween treats, but we would love for him to move his arms and limbs on occasion in order to stave off Gangrene.

Alas, my timid suggestion the other night that Ev play in a winter soccer league was not well-received. Sitting at a restaurant’s dinner table on Chestnut street, he reacted as though I told him he arrived on our doorstep from outer space and then farted on his pizza. Shock and disgust.  He nearly bolted out of the restaurant and sprinted off into the night, maybe to our house, maybe to who knows where. 

So no flu shot, no futsal. 

But now everything has changed.  Due to the sudden serendipity of some new mobile phone program at my wife’s work, we have ourselves a bargaining chip: A near-obsolete-but-brand-new-to-you iPhone, just waiting for a new owner who is just about to turn 12 years old.  Most parents would bestow such a big moment gift with pomp and circumstance. Proud smiles. High-minded speeches.

Not us.  

Our birthday gift presentation will go down more like a hand-to-hand narcotics transaction in a dangerous neighborhood —  

“Psst. Hey kid, you want this iPhone? You do? Sure, sure, it’s all yours. But first, you gotta have this flu shot.  And then, you gotta go into that gym and play some indoor soccer.  And you gotta act like you like it — the flu shot and the futsal.  Then and only then, you’ll find the iPhone in a brown paper bag over there behind the dumpster in the parking lot. You got it, kid? Yeah, you better.”

Quid pro quo

At least this is the plan. Wish me luck.  

Thanks for reading. 

Rise and Shine

Just about a year ago. Seems like yesterday. Still working on all this stuff, it ain’t easy.

The Lemonade Chronicles

I woke up crying, and for a moment or two, couldn’t figure out why.

The last time I woke up choking back tears was the morning after my grandmother died in a small Upstate New York hospital bed surrounded by family. Years ago, now. How strange to experience profound sadness as the first emotion of the day. And these are not two isolated, unconnected incidents. Because my grandmother — my inspiration for starting this little blog — taught me how to make lemonade from lemons. Hence, “The Lemonade Chronicles.” So, good people, it’s time to make some lemonade. Here, squeeze this lemon, stir it up, and maybe even drink some along with me….

It would be easier to lash out. Point fingers. Assign blame. Cry foul. Demean and malign. I admit to giving expression to those base instincts in the last 24 hours. I am angry, for sure. But I…

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Attention Shoppers, Daylight Savings in the Bubbling and Boiling Beneath Department!


All this writing is getting in the way of my writing. I have been revising the living daylights (pun intended, sort of) out of my “Lemonade Chronicles” book manuscript for the past few weeks. That process is pretty much all-consuming, it turns out. And it does little to soothe the savage beast when it comes to actually churning out new content and releasing the pressure valve on what bubbles and boils beneath.

People like me experience great difficulty in keeping their ideas to themselves.  I know — we know — that our ideas are, objectively speaking, highly unlikely to hold more merit than those of anyone else. Moreover, we are downright mystified by normal people’s ability to contain their own ideas, never uttering a peep, not poised to burst at the seams, completely uninterested in unleashing their thoughts on the world the moment those thoughts take an even vaguely coherent form.  Shoot, I rarely even have the patience for the coherence stage; let ‘er rip! The start of this blog post is a fantastic case in point….

The more I write, the more I must come to grips with the fact that I have little else other than words. For example, I have a need, an apparently compulsive need, to scratch them nightly into my too-small journal until my hand muscles cramp.  Actually, I push beyond the cramps, which may explain the illegible handwriting.  On the plus side, no need for a secure padlock on one’s Daily Journal, if one’s Daily Journal bears chicken scratch incapable of being deciphered or decoded by anyone. I even get pissed at myself, muttering curse words surrounding by my first and/or last name, when I revisit some now thoroughly unclear thought crampedly-scrawled only last week. What the hell is the point of all this writing, if even the writer can’t read it?

And yet, I write. 

Except when I don’t. 

I realize this book “revising” process is an absolutely necessary stone along the path to getting one’s book published. So I’m hopscotching on the mossy thing with the best of them. River-dancing on top, even. Big smile forced across my face.  Look at me! I’m writing a book!

Except that it feels like I’m not writing

So I’ve resolved to pull my attention from the two overflowing shoeboxes holding book drafts 1A and 1B and, when inspired, crank out a little something new here and there. Again, I remind you that this drivel is drivel.  No better than your drivel.  But I can’t function, it seems, without driveling on a regular basis. Like the mushy jack-o-lantern on my neighbor’s railed front porch, I gotta be free!

And so, with that, I have some bad news: We’ve been saying it all wrong. To our mates, to our children, to our co-workers, and to our neighbors. Some of you have even involved your postal carriers in this, I know.  It’s “Daylight Saving,” not “Daylight Savings.” My wife dropped this bomb on me Sunday morning, crushing my fragile position as our household’s Commander of Words. So you can thank my wife for setting me — and thus all of you — on the righteous path of straightness and narrowness.  Sitting here now, I’m reasonably certain that neither “straightness” nor “narrowness” are proper words.  But I am so out of actual writing shape, I don’t care.  I was up at 3am working on my godforsaken book.  So I haven’t the energy nor the patience, nor any of the other necessary ingredients, to tidy this up.  And to add insult to injury, not only have I now been officially dethroned as Resident Wordsmith by my missus, I have also come to the painful realization that I have actually achieved no daylight “savings” of any kind. Ever. Nothing. 

But at least I feel a little bit better now regarding the Bubbling and Boiling Beneath Department. 

Thanks for reading.