I pulled my car into a spot next to the motorcycle I thought was his, turned off the engine and gazed at the small apartment complex, realizing for the first time that I didn’t know his unit number. My dad had just moved into his new place, and though he’d armed me with something resembling driving directions (“Get off the freeway, and head toward the library. Then look for a big building that people might live in.”), I found myself just short of enough information to declare my journey a success.

I got out of my car and looked around, trying to decide what to do. This was in the time before mobile phones, so a quick call wasn’t an option. I took a few steps in the direction of the town’s main street and the corner bar he frequented, and then paused. It was a nice day. Overcast but warm with a soft breeze. The kind of day, I thought, that would mean my dad would have his windows open. Maybe even his front door. And so I paused…




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From the Vault: Squirrel!

In an effort to collect all of my writing in one place, I will occasionally post previously published work here, under the heading “From the Vault.” This was a mostly stream-of-conscious little ditty I wrote after watching a squirrel nervously scamper around the fall chestnut bounty of my back yard.

One of my favorite things about Fall is looking out the window and watching the squirrels try to wrap their brains around the sheer volume of chestnuts in my backyard. They scamper in, see one chestnut, then two, then fifteen. They get a little excited. “Wahoo!” they think. But then they find 30 more, and then another pile, and another and another. And even while they’re collecting the ones on the ground, more are falling off the tree. They get more anxious, they pace, they twitch, their movements grow more fitful, more frantic. I can see the panic behind their beady eyes.

I like to imagine that some of these squirrels tire of being slaves to their obsessive compulsive neurosis and try desperately to change. The one scampering along my fence looks particularly self-aware; I’ll bet he’s in therapy. Once a week, perhaps. Certainly once a month. And his therapist is his polar opposite. Something calm, something slow, something zen. Like a giant tortoise.

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An Homage

With Halloween fast approaching, I finally got around to donating the kids’ remaining outgrown costumes from years past. I don’t often form emotional attachments to possessions, but this lot has been hard for me to let go (as evidenced by just how many costumes I had available to donate). My mom hand-made each of these costumes for her grandsons (just like she did for me every year when I was a kid) so they were not to be parted with lightly. But saving them in an old plastic tub in the basement year after year didn’t seem like the best use of space–and they still all had plenty of trick-or-treat life left in them. So, new homes it was.

I used my local Buy Nothing group to find recipients for each costume, which made it feel more like handing down a treasured family heirloom to an old friend. And I dug up old pictures of (nearly) all of them, which I share with you here in homage:

Not shown: the cutest freaking skunk costume you’ve ever seen (because Riley wore it as a 14-month-old and that was so long ago it predates my digital camera ownership), plus some others that have either been repurposed or worn out over the years.

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Shiny Thing: Leon Bridges

This album is getting heavy play at our house these days. If you get him started, Josh will marvel at the way it was recorded and describe to you the little details you might miss like, for example, that “they killed absolutely no transients on those drums…” (I assume this has more to do with production technique and less to do with whether or not any homeless people were harmed during the recording of the album.)  I will say much less insightful things like, “Singing, good. Music, nice.”

It is soulful, and out of a different time, and too busy being awesome to worry about a bunch of post-production “sanitizing.” It sounds real and a little raw… like music should. Your ears should hear it.

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Book Reports, Speed Dating Style

I usually like to write a little post to commemorate each book I read, but I’ve been reading through them pretty quickly these days and have a decent backlog of books to report on. No one wants to read that many book reports in quick succession, and I certainly don’t want to write them. So, the condensed version.

orangeisthenewblackOrange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman

Is it like the Netflix show? Yes and no. The setting (a woman’s prison) is the same, some of the challenges are the same, and you’ll recognize some characters. But the show is definitely dramatized for entertainment value.

Is the book better? Yes and no. They’re different enough that I feel like I can like them both for different reasons. The book is a much more serious, matter-of-fact account. The show is straight up dope, yo.

Do I recommend reading it? I do, though not with the most glowing of reviews. The subject matter is interesting and important, but the writing could be better. It’s not terrible by any means; it’s just not stellar either.

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