A Hiatus For Good And Bad Reasons

I haven’t been posting lately, and there are some good and bad reasons for this. The first bad reason is one of the kids at my daycare and her big sister were in an accident and that really limited the energy and time I cared to devote to typing this blog. I was worried and upset, and I don’t make much sense when I write worried and upset. I think those who know me understand the feelings I have for the kids in my care. I grow really attached to them, and I worry about them. I have nightmares about something happening to any of my kids at school, and now that it has come true it doesn’t make it anything but more frightening. Thankfully she is doing better than she could have been, and we’re all hoping she and her big sister come out of this okay. So, I took a break and spent my time writing old school, pen and paper style. And returned to writing more poems, which I haven’t done in a while. It was gratifying, and easier than I would have thought. My love/hate relationship with my writing is especially true of my poetry. But the new stuff is fun to write, and there may be some good work there when all is said and done.

I’m going to take a few deep breaths and start working on the blog again this week.

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Demographic Nightmare

I hate commercials. I hate them for all the reasons any decent, corporation detesting person hates them. But I have a special reason why I hate them. They have no ability to be relevant to me on any level. I am a moving target, and their attempts to hit me are so far off the mark as to be laughable.

There are two examples of this that I can give. One is the marketing during sporting events. There are a lot of sports fans, and the ads played during football and baseball are expensive and well researched, attempting to sell beer or vacations or other nonsense. I am impervious because I am one of the apparently few people who watch sports and neither drink nor play video games. I have no interest, and in fact I am irritated by ads for video games and alcohol. I change the channel or mute them, and sometimes avoid watching them altogether. Marketing people assume that if you watch football you also drink to excess and eat horrible snack foods and drive thru Taco Time. I do none of these things, and never will. Stop talking to me!

The other thing I enjoy watching is science fiction. This of course makes the marketing people who pigeonhole sports fans crazy, and that’s fun. But the late night science fiction commercials are hawking video games, computer stuff, and sexy chat lines. There are also often disgusting junk food ads. No thank you. Please move along.

I’d love to see an ad marketed to me. It’d make heads explode. I want to hand some ad exec a form, with “vegan, sports fan, non-drinker, husband and father, socially liberal but radical politically, spiritual, hates arty and pretentious” and try and see them make an ad. It’d almost have to be a blank white screen, but then that’d be arty and pretentious.

I seriously don’t think they could do it. Unless they knew my secret trump card, that despite wearing a plain t-shirt and dickies every day, I secretly long to shop for Brioni suits. And even then, how do you get the suit in a baseball stadium? Checkmate, Madison Avenue!

Healthy Snacks, Kids And The Joy Of Proportionate Response

I pride myself on providing healthy foods for the kids. I don’t mean my kids only eat perfect foods, or anything. I’m not the food nazi that many of my fellow Seattlites are. And trust me in Seattle you see some real nutcases with food. My kids have an occasional doughnut from Mighty-O, or a cookie or Jaime made cupcake. Food is fun, we shouldn’t flip out. And though my kids are vegan, if Viri borrows a cheese cracker and eats it on the playground I’m not going to have a fit. Life is too short.

All told, however, my kids eat well. It’s not that hard. Check out the picture of Pretty Sue having lunch. Our lunch today was walnuts and carrots and hummus. They loved it. (Viri: “Look at Arkaedi going to town on her food! She’s eating and eating!”) I did very little. I put out some fresh organic carrots and walnuts, and popped a lid off a container of hummus from the store. It was easy. And kids love it. I don’t understand why some people don’t feed their children this kind of thing; unless the food nazis have inspired a reaction against it. Or parents really buy into commercials. Are either of those things true? I don’t know. Try these simple meals. Kids will thank you.

I stuck black beans in the crock pot for dinner. I have the rice cooker primed. Brown rice and beans for dinner, and they’ll enjoy it. It didn’t take me any energy or time. I may, if I feel fancy, saute a few tofurky brats in olive oil with garlic and toss them in the pot. That’ll be mostly for me.

I really hope that we can start a parent cooking class as part of Jaime’s practice. It’d be really great to provide the resource, especially as a parent who isn’t that much of a cook. I’d like to show them that you don’t need to be a wonderful cook, just use some real veggies and whole grains and it’ll end up healthy, pretty much whatever you do.

And no need to be a pretentious food nazi either. Kids who eat well won’t have a heart attack if they eat a few chocolate chips either. And Mighty-O doughnuts are good for the soul.

Beach Weather, Seattle Style

It wasn’t pouring down the rain, so it’s beach weather! When it gets a little warm, or the sun comes out for a day, we spend the entire time outside. It reminds me of why I love Seattle. The beach and the clear mountain views are the antidote to Seattle drivers, dreary days, and 4pm sunsets. They are pure medicine for the heart. I know I’ll have to leave Seattle, and there will be a lot of things I don’t miss. But I will miss the Puget Sound and the mountains and the beaches. They are lovely. (I’ll also miss doughnuts.)

The kids had a great time running around. In the morning we went to Carkeek, and they were really excited. They had just woken up from naps in the afternoon when we went to Richmond beach, and they were a little confused. It was nice to be outside though, and they dealt with dazed post nap confusion fairly well.

I hadn’t been to Richmond beach before, and I was really glad to see it. It’s laid out differently from Carkeek, with the train tracks way back from the beach and a long walkway leading to the water. It reminded me of the northern California coast. If you move up from the city of a Seattle a little bit everything looks a little like northern California. I don’t know why that is. I like it though; it’s a great layout, with more beach grass and shrubs. It feels like there’s more space than at Carkeek, even though I think Carkeek is actually bigger. Carkeek’s space is behind the tracks, and Richmond’s is by the beach.

This weekend, with beaches and nice weather, made me ready for the spring and summer. I’m not even sure where I’ll be, but I hope I can enjoy some of the Seattle spring at least before we move. Ideally I’d like to be here this summer and spend the days in the parks, and driving up Rainier again. But we’ll see where needs take us. I do know that regardless of what happens I will always have a warm place in my heart for the natural beauty around here. Nothing compares to it.

Arkaedi Sue Arrested

This is a mug shot taken earlier today when Arkaedi Sue (aka Pretty Princess, Pretty Pretty, Little Beef) was taken into custody for multiple counts of extreme cuteness. She was wrapped up in pajamas and brought home at approximately 8pm, Seattle time.

Here she is wearing bear ears in a blatant attempt to be cute. The pink dress is icing on the cuteness cake. Her father has been arrested as an accessory to the dress crime. (Not pictured: really cute tights and even cuter pink boots.) This photo was taken at the PRC, where she purportedly engages in multiple acts of cuteness a day.

Below she is seen using her cuteness to destroy Ariel, which is either a crime or not vegan. It is unsure what she is attempting in this photo, but judging by Ariel’s hair, it can’t be good. Ariel is just one of many long haired dolls gazed at cutely in her two years of crime.

This known menace to society is now safely under house arrest. When reached for comment she threw the phone down on the ground, then could be heard in the distance saying, “My nice! My nice!” A plea of not guilty by reason of red hair will be entered on her behalf.

Parenting In The Land Of Uncertainty

There are a lot of things that you must come to terms with as a parent. One of the most difficult is the fact that you must put your kid out into the world and let them be themselves. With Viri starting at preschool this week, that has been particularly burdensome for me. I’m not good at letting go. Even in the small, eight hours a week way. I’m anxious, for him and for me.

There are two reasons for this. One, I’m sensitive to his nature. He takes things seriously, and I worry he’ll get upset, or hurt. That isn’t particularly logical or helpful, but there it is. I didn’t start off so well with the educational system, even though I eventually enjoyed it, and I’d like him to have a less traumatic first few years. Two, I’m sensitive to my nature. I don’t like dealing with teachers or administrators who have their own agenda and want to criticize me or him for little things that make their lives difficult. There is a precedent for this. When Viri was two, we sent him to this horrible woman who was “Waldorf-inspired” and highly unpleasant. She spelled his name wrong, and yelled at us for not having him potty trained, and basically just gave us lip about everything. The one I remember best is her frustration that he didn’t want to sit for snack time. At two. We took him out quick.

This school seems far better, of course, and I have high hopes for it. I know also that I need to let go of what I want and what embarrasses me and just let him go out into the world. Even at four there is value in the lessons he is learning, and while they shouldn’t be harsh or unbearable, they don’t necessarily need to be sunshine and lollipops either. I understand that. I want him to learn to function in school and in society. I want him to find teachers and mentors who will foster that.

But I know him. I see him every day, every waking hour, and have for four years. He is difficult, and loud, and physical. He is obstinate and pushy, and single minded. He is also passionate, and sincere, and fun. He is kind and loving and gentle and open. He is a lovely and sweet and brilliant little person, and I want him to grow to be a lovely and sweet and brilliant man. I’ll push him and prod him if that’s necessary; but I won’t let him be undervalued. He deserves better than that.

Honestly, every human being deserves better than that. Viri is the human being given to me as a son, however, and I have responsibility to be there for him. I intend to do that. I’ve made three good decisions in my life, and one of which was having Viri. Now I need to add a few more to guide him along the way.

Sufi Poems: Eight

I haven’t done a post about Sufi poetry for a while. I haven’t had anything especially interesting to say, perhaps, or maybe I just got a little tired and lost writing about myself. I’m inspired today to write about a couple of Hafez verses, however, in a large part because of recent late night discussions with Jaime.

I don’t know what other couples with kids do; it’s tough to make time to just hang out together the way you do before you have children. Jaime and I usually take a few hours after the kids go to sleep, sneak into their play room on the other end of the house, and talk. The past few weeks these discussions have become especially fruitful and exciting. I always know how brilliant and wonderful Jaime is, and how lucky I am to have her. But these recent discussions have reminded me forcefully of how necessary she is to my life.

Which brings me to the poems. A lot of our talks lately have been about religion and spirituality. We are attempting to discover the best way of introducing spiritual ideas into the lives of our kids. We’ve never been comfortable with mainstream ideas of spiritual things, and our own paths are strange and difficult, as true spiritual paths often are. Working in a daycare, I hear little kid conversations about God and the universe that make me deeply concerned about what my son will learn about his own spiritual path through his peers. (If you’re wondering, to most kids, God is Santa/mean dad, and he randomly turns people into birds.)

As always when I am disturbed and challenged by ideas Jaime lobs at me, I look to the poems of the masters. Not surprisingly, Hafez faced a pretty awful establishment that had warped spiritual beliefs into a mockery of Truth for money and power*. He’d recognize our frustration and sadness at the current state of churches and states all too well. He wrote some amazing poems about the shackles people attempt to put on the Beloved, and how they can be overcome.

The small man build cages for everyone he knows.
While the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the beautiful rowdy
prisoners

Someone put You on a slave block
and the unreal bought You.
Now I keep coming to Your owner saying,
‘This one is mine.’
You often overhear us talking
and this can make your heart leap with
excitement.

Don’t worry. I will not let sadness possess you.
I will gladly borrow all the gold I need
to get you back.

So, we wait for some way to provide the kids with wisdom, and muddle through as best we can. They have their own paths, and I don’t presume to have a perfect answer for their journey. I wish I had a small glimmer of where they need to place their feet. I suppose in trying to find some place for them to live and grow safely and honestly I am finding that first place. I need to be a big enough person and a good enough father to trust that they’ll take the step.

*Amazing how often that happens. To be clear, I don’t intend this to criticize people who are involved in organized religion. There are great and beautiful people there, I’m sure. And one good person doing good work is to be lauded. But I can’t get past the problems. I can’t ignore that genuine spiritual people are persecuted while greed and corruption pollute the religion. I certainly don’t mean these poems as a judgement, and I doubt Hafez did either. He meant them as a call to insanity, as Love can be crazy.

Coulton And Career Study

I’m listening to Jonathan Coulton and contemplating my career changes. That isn’t quite as random as it sounds; my usual habit of non-sequiturs to begin blog posts (or conversations, or job interviews) isn’t the only reason those two things go together in my mind. In fact, there are two reasons in addition to my randomness that I mention them.

One. Coulton is fun, cheery, silly music, and I have been trying to gear up for the application process and long painful internal debate that accompanies deciding what I want to do. It isn’t only my lack of ambition and multiple tattoos that have kept me away from real jobs all of these years. I hate the process, I hate the bureaucracy. Some of it is even necessary, I understand. The hoops are to be jumped through in order to limit the number of total jumpers and narrow it down to a manageable pool for the managers comprehend. I get that; but I hate being a jumper. So, Coulton makes me laugh and relax and just go with it, and get into a program that makes sense for me and maybe makes me a dollar or two to pay bills.

Two. Coulton does what, presumably, he enjoys. (I don’t know this; maybe singing novelty songs is his punishment for flunking out of Juilliard.) I don’t necessarily want to do something that’s laughter and giggles every moment, but I’d love to do something rewarding. I’d love to have a job I felt made the world a tiny bit better. Or gave someone a lift.

I’m in the process of figuring this out, I think. Which is a huge step. For the first time in a long time I feel like I can keep a big picture goal in mind. I’m not as clouded by ideology or my own sense of fun or adventure. I’ve got an idea of where I can go, and how to get there. It’s no “Baby’s Got Back.” But it’s a nice start.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=1394675800346515500&hl=en&fs=true