Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One Blooming Tree

Ever since I was small, I've noticed trees -- their stature, their shapes, the way their branches and leaves move in the breeze. Anyone who appreciates patterns has to appreciate trees, with their growth rings, their root structure, their distribution of branches, their symmetrical leaves.

They are homes for many other creatures, notably birds. Finding a nest, long after it's been abandoned, has always been a joy for me, if only to appreciate the structural integrity of its design. What a marvel that a creature relying only on its beak and claws can construct such an elaborate home for its babies.

Other animal habitats also intrigued me as a child; growing up in the country I found the places where foxes and rabbits lived, where deer lay in the bushes, and how field mice burrowed through corn fields.

I found heron nests in the cat tails, and saw these magnificent birds fight off snakes that otherwise would have eaten their young.

Then there were the circles the fish dug with their tails in the sand in the shallows, where they deposited their eggs, then circling above nervously, scaring off any creature that dared to come near.

The turtles, for the most part, knew better, but the real danger were other fish -- bigger fish.

Thus the shallows for these circles, since the parent fish, mainly panfish, didn't need more than a few inches of water to cover their home, whereas the bigger, more dangerous fish (bass, pike) rarely ventured this close to shore.

I watched it all as a boy, this and much more.

But it all comes back to me as a series of images, partial memories, snippets of stories, when I glimpse something as common as a tree in bloom.

That's what happened in this case, at least.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


My kids and I love this cover of "Now You're Just Somebody I Used to Know." We laugh about it, even as we all understand the larger, and very painful meaning in the context of the song's intent, and also how it parallels with some of our own confusing experiences of losing people we thought cared.

Meanwhile, enjoy this performance, which is really quite special.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Murdering Connection

My favorite time of any day is the time I spend with my kids, any and all of them. Today, that was a few hours this afternoon, crushed between hours of writing and research and interviewing and taking my tax information to my accountant and just generally getting through another day.

But at other times in my life, another favorite part of my day was the time I spent with a partner, a soul-mate, an adult, not one of my children.

That type of experience has grown so remote from my daily reality that I have to question whether it will ever happen again.

Then again, I have secret friends. I also have ghosts and secret sharers. I have those who would never admit that they even exist in the real world, and of course, objectively, they don't, or maybe they just do. I'll never tell.

These are the kinds of friends who do not hide behind their culture to pretend that turning silent is okay. These are the people who keep talking, one way or another, knowing our time here is short and if we don't keep talking when we die we will die the loneliest of all deaths.

But I write these words in vain, because no one who reads them will have any idea what I am talking about, particularly no one who could make an actual difference now.

So it must be. Stories begin and they also end.

The horrible violence of cutting off communication is, IMHO, as bad a crime as murder.

There, I have said it.

That said, don't worry about me. Because I have my kids and they never cut off our communication, they always keep it going. So I am among the lucky ones -- the people who always have someone to talk to at the touch of a keystroke.

And even when I catch myself yearning for that other, that supposed best friend who apparently never really existed, or who only pretended to play the part, I accept that my judgement was bad, that these women were off on other quests, not one that included me.

It's fine. They can deal with their fate and I will deal with mine. No best friend? No soul mate?



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Play It Tough, Or Just Don't Bother

Jet-lagged, virtually sleepless, wind and sun-burned, I returned tonight after watching my 17-year-old play soccer in a tournament that included three games yesterday and today.

As always, he played every minute of every game out there on defense, now with his short hair, which he thinks makes him look tougher. (You know teenaged boys, especially athletes.) In the process, he took some monster hits, including a foul from a bigger kid who drove him to the turf with an illegal elbow to his back.

As he went down, Aidan bruised a bone in his chest that he had injured earlier, and for the rest of the day, he kept raising a hand there, against the pain, but he played on well.

As for his hairstyle, naturally, I've explained to him my bias, and why I have never had short hair myself since the 50s. There is some history here. In my era, it was a military look to have shaved hair. Indeed, as I and my peers protested war, we grew our hair long in the 60s.

So I continue to favor longer hair in boys.

But I am hardly lost in the 60s.

Then was then. Now is now. Styles move in cycles.

He played great. His team had mixed results, but he played great.

But I am so exhausted tonight that I cannot tell the whole story, which is actually quite interesting, about what happened out there in the valley. It turns out the home team cheated, but that's quite American as well.

Maybe another day.

Meanwhile, courtesy of Advil and ice, our center back prepares to get ready to return to the pitch. Bruised bones or no, there are more games to be played.


Living in the Moment

My boys laugh at my playlist, mainly how small it is, now I finally have an iPhone, but one of the few songs in there helped me a lot yesterday, as I was flying across the country.

I can't help myself. When I travel somewhere, it affects me. I see and feel the difference of the new place, or the old place, as it were.

It opens me up. All of a sudden I'm aware of wider possibilities, and open to them.

Coming back out here, during the long, six-hour boredom of the cross-country flight, I listened to that very small playlist, and what popped up was something from The Flaming Lips (thanks, J!) called, "All We Have is Now."

That was, and is helpful."