Saturday, September 18, 2021

Looking back at September 14, 2001

The previous post took a look back at what I'd written in my journal on the day of the terrorist attacks, but while I had the notebook out (from the box in the garage where it normally is) I glanced a few days further and noticed what I composed a mere three days after the attacks, which I offer below without edits, as a document of its time. (I'm not suggesting I have changed my overall view in the intervening decades, especially after seeing how that period played out, but I'd probably write in a slightly less jaded tone these days.)

Spoiler: As you'll see, I was not on the nationalistic (some might say jingoistic) train sweeping much of the country at the time, but I was riding the commuter rail at the moments of writing this.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Looking back on September 11, 2001

On this 20th anniversary of the attacks, many people have been remembering where they were and what they were doing when they heard. Like everyone who was old enough to be aware, I recall that morning very well, even though I was thousands of miles away from the tragedies.

My morning routine at the time is worth noting for how I learned of the news.

I lived alone in a studio apartment. To allow myself to sleep in as late as possible and still get to work on time, I had it down to only the essential actions. When the alarm sounded I'd immediately get up and get in the shower, then brush my teeth, get dressed, run a comb through my hair, grab my bag, and head out to walk to the train station a few blocks away. I'd get something for breakfast after I got to the office, so I had that whole process from waking to out-the-door down to around 35 minutes. 

The key: In that 35 minutes, I did not turn on the TV or even a radio. It was all about getting done as fast as possible, and that would only have been a distraction. (Obviously this was before smartphones and news alerts.)

I walked to the train station unaware of anything happening in the world. While waiting on the platform, someone did say, "Crazy morning, huh?" I recall nodding just to acknowledge but not knowing what the person was referring to. Even then, that was a comment that could be taken a number of ways.

I did have a Walkman-type AM/FM/Cassette player in my bag, and after getting on the train and taking a seat I put on my headphones and tuned in to the Kevin & Bean show on KROQ (something I still did back then). Rather than their usual silliness, their tone was of shock and disbelief. That's how I learned about what had happened: from a rock station's morning show that ordinarily devoted maybe five minutes per hour to actual news.

I listened for a while, trying to take it all in. Then I did what I usually did on the ride, and pulled out a pad of paper and pen, and jotted down thoughts in my journal. I went back and looked at what I wrote that morning, which I offer below not because it is particularly profound or insightful, but as a record of the moment.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

A Modest Proposal: Overturning Roe v Wade edition

The reason conservatives want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade and ban abortion (and those conservatives make no effort to make policies to help children) is simple: They want more babies born so they can eat the babies.

Not all conservatives, of course. Only the wealthy ones can afford baby meat.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Kids ask the most probing things: The dangers of nature shows

Tonight, as a family we were watching an episode of Crocodile Hunter (yes, from the '90s) where Steve and Terri were on a beach where green turtles were mating in the shallow waters. The hosts talked about how during the hours-long mating the females are responsible for bringing both turtles to the surface to breathe because the males are too focused on what they're doing.

Without missing a beat, our son asked (with complete sincerity) "Is that what Daddy was like after you guys got married?"

After several minutes of uncontrollable laughter, we could only say: "Not exactly." 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The simple joys of being a middle-aged dad: Flash Gordon theme edition

Somewhere in my past the chorus to the theme (by Queen) from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie got quasi-embedded in my brain--particularly that couplet: 

Flash! A-ah!  
Savior of the universe! 


Over time my brain changed the second line to "Defender of the universe" (which I think works better in the meter, but that's another topic) but the melody remained, and the key (of course) was the "A-ah!" vocalization after the hero's name. It's not as though I was a huge fan of the movie (I was not) nor a huge fan of the song (it's fine); but that part was just an earworm that was in me permanently.

For no good reason other than my own amusement, occasionally I'd adapt it and substitute another single-syllable word where the "Flash!" was, to elevate the term in a ridiculous way; e.g., "Cheese! A-ah! Defender of the universe!"--although I have no recollection of using that one in particular. It's always spontaneous, tossed out in the moment when an appropriate word comes up in our conversations, as a jocular interjection, so they never stick with me.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Say It: Black Lives Matter

[Although I haven't been posting lately here on the blahg, over on the Book of Faces I do still occasionally post privately to only friends, mostly so relatives who live at a distance can see pictures of our son. This is what I posted there, shared here because it's important.]

You’ve probably noticed my hiatus from posting, and it is due to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade and countless others that have spurred the current protests. It has been a very difficult time, not merely as a human capable of empathy, but because of my life. I’m not only one who has benefited from the centuries of white supremacy that led to the troubling society we have, but I’m also the father of an amazing Black boy and husband of a phenomenal Black woman, the two people I love most. I have an extended African-American family who through the grace of God is still with us. It’s not abstract anger about the news; for me it’s very personal.

And we’ve had to keep parenting during a pandemic.

I know many of you enjoy these photos of my son and wife. (Yes, mostly our son.) They are a source of joy in this world. But they’re also a Black boy and Black woman in this world, which you need to understand means it’s a more dangerous world for them than for many of the rest of us.

I know you care about them. I know you believe their lives are just as important as your own. But I need you to declare that not only about their lives but the lives of all Black people matter. Now.

I ask you to leave a comment on this post stating Black Lives Matter.

I need to know you are with me on this.

This is not jumping on some bandwagon. This is simply what should be an obvious view in our society, but clearly it’s not. However, I must believe that it’s possible we can get there, and I beseech you to type three little (but critically important) words below to tell me you believe it too.

Saying Black Lives Matter does not suggest that other lives don’t. It means you believe they matter just as much.

Black Lives Matter. Now and forever. Please join me so I can see who my friends really are.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Taking your medicine

A single moment can change your day, and it doesn’t even need to be that big a moment.

Take yesterday morning.  It was the first time that our kindergartner could wear something other than his school uniform or his PE clothes, and unlike most mornings he eagerly got dressed. The theme was dots (or circles) and he had his red Flash shirt (with the lightning bolt through a circle, but in the design the circle diffused into dots).  He even picked out shorts and socks that had some such pattern.  He was really into it.

As we were wrapping things up before it was time to leave, Mommy asked if he’d had some medicine and he had not; this week he had been coughing some with occasionally runny nose. As she finished getting ready in the living room, I went and poured some into the little cup. She sent him over to the kitchen where I was, and he looked at the cup and said, “That’s more than zero.” I didn’t think much about that and simply replied, “Yes, now here.” As we were running short on time and he was hesitating, I put the cups to his lips and tilted it so the medicine would run down into his mouth.

He then closed his mouth and it spilt down on his shirt and shorts in large globs that did not look like dots.