Thursday, July 4, 2013

boys and the emergency room.

for the record, i work in a hospital and am fully aware that the hospital staff all refer to the "emergency room" as the "emergency DEPARTMENT" or ED.  that's fine.  most people still know it as the ER.  and further, most people loath going there.  i went recently.  my little drew slammed his finger in a car door.  he went to and adult ED, because it was closest.  his finger had gotten stuck, such that the door had to be opened in an effort to extract the finger.  he was triaged quickly and treated by a very nice nurse, who treated a six year old boy like the small person that he is and not an inconvenience or an object.  all questions were directed to him (big brother had a hard time not answering for him). and all care was explained in terms that were both honest and understandable to a child of his age.  he spent the majority of his time smiling and joking, despite the fractured finger.  and once bandaged, he was proud to show any one who would look his paw and was eager to make phone calls in the morning to tell his story.

i was thinking of this, as my sister was posting pictures of her son, who also had to spend time in the ED.  in his case a kitchen cabinet got the better of his forehead...there was blood...there are stitches.

it leaves me wondering.  was there learning? did they learn from their "mistakes" (which in fairness were being overly enthusiastic about life) or will i be making the same trip again, this time for a different bone, injury, cause?

boys will be boys, and i don't know a man without his share of scars.  is it just part of growing up, that we as males push limits and disregard consequences? is this how they are intended to learn the limits of their behavior; the natural consequences? or is it just another thing they go though, like chicken pox or the flu...momentary discomfort, with no long term consequence?  i guess only time will tell if the scars become medals or cautionary reminders.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

lunch by the river

"The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth...in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future...Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man [are] only separated by shadows, not through reality...Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence."


i go to the river for lunch.  it renews me in ways that i can't describe. but the quote from Siddhartha sums it up.. the spots are the same as they were when i was a boy, just 20-30 years older.  i feel connected to who i was, who i will be and who i may become.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Almost Older

Tomorrow is my birthday (happy birthday to whogivesashit--37 is about as exciting as not having to wipe after pooping, make you smile, but doesn’t even rise to the level of tweeting about it).  Anyhow, tomorrow is my birthday and one of my kids will be away tomorrow, so a celebration was had yesterday.  My kids took me to the beach and then to eat seafood on a dock where leftovers could be thrown to the hungry seagulls.  (It was also fun that the name of the restaurant was Bill’s Seafood.)
It was an awesome day!
In recent years I’ve come to love the beach. I play with my kids. I teach them things.  I swim.  I relax.  What I have learned is that the beach is a place of fun and relaxation, but also a place where activity makes it even more fun.  Taking a walk and looking for shells can be more cardiovascular exercise than an hour on the treadmill and swimming for ten minutes in a bit of current is a whole different animal from laps at the gym.  I love this.  It’s active and relaxing.  
For me, the availability of playful activity, which is also stimulating and strenuous is what make the beach a place I want to be.  
I can sit in a chair and listen to the ball game at home.  I can read in a comfortable chair in my living room.  I can eat potato chips anywhere.  
The beach is where my mind and heart race and my body relaxes.
The I get sent to the parking lot for forgotten a (insert item here). And I see people cruising for the best spot available in the lot.  They are spending precious minute looking for a better spot than one where they have to walk 50 more feet.  If they just parked and got out, they would smell the ocean and hear the gulls.  It makes me sad to see, because the beach is not a slothful place to me.  Rather, it is a place where the mind can be calm and the body can be active.  Walking closer and closer to the sand over shimmering blacktop is part of the allure to me.  
I love that there is no CNN or Fox News.  There is only sun, sand and heat.  And play.  Play that is so hard that it make me wonder why I go to the gym.  An hour of Frisbee with my kid on the beach is more work than two hours on a treadmill.   
It’s true that I could walk at home and lay in the sun in my yard, but these things would label me an eccentric.  Walking 1/2 a mile for an ice cream cone on the beach is what we do, walking a 1/2 mile for an ice cream cone at home make people wonder what happened to my car.
My goal for thirty-seven is to live every day like I’m at the beach.  
No shirt, No shoes, No Problem.
If I can walk there, I will
If someone is in my way, step aside and let them pass.
Lick my fingers when I'm done eating.
Smile when kids are having fun, even when the kids are teenagers making obnoxious noises.
Exercise like it’s play.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

What are they saying?


I've been listening to music that has extended solos as a key component to their music. As a rule I enjoy that type of music when I select it. But today I listened to a concert of all very competent, if not virtuosic musicians, and as each took a solo in every song, I began to wonder if they all had that much to say.


As a listener of music, I understand that often the meaning of the lyric is of utmost importance and in other cases the sound of the singer's voice is just another instrument layered onto the canvas of sound; the words chosen for their sound and not their meaning.


I've been taught that all art has some meaning. Whether that meaning is just the expression of frustration during a moment or of a lifelong struggle against societal norms or a documentation of an event, period or place. There is some meaning to art.


The two greatest road novels to have been written in America are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and On the Road. In each the protagonists take a journey into the unknown, but to very different ends. Huck Finn realizes that the road is the same as at home, in that his struggle with his relationship with Jim moves along the river with him. The road moves, but he remains in place. Still struggling with the notion that he is making a moral decision that is at once unethical and very illegal. Twain rectifies these dilemmas by freeing Jim at the conclusion of the novel and it serves as an exoneration of his sins, allowing Jim to feel no guilt about corrupting Huck and Huck being able to reintegrate with his white society without repercussion.


In On the Road, Sal Paradise learns to see the world differently, through his journeys. But in that he is finding what he is seeking (a bohemian America, where jazz musicians are prophets and hobos are saints). In theory, the road is not just a metaphor, but a character. Kerouac succeeds in making his book bounce with the excitement he himself is experiencing. The prose has a momentum that matches Dean's driving. OTR is probably the book for which Kerouac will be best remembered, but The Subterranians better captured the raw energy and spontaneity of being on the road. It is at once confusing, disorienting, enthralling and over all too soon. He says so much in such a short period of time, that it feels like hearing John Coltrane playing alongside Miles Davis; you're left wanting more.


Kerouac and Davis both worked in similar ways. They would have an idea, sit down and play with it until it could be released. But capturing the idea as closely to the source was at the heart. Revise little and improvise much.


Now they are dead. And every year or so, new versions of their material is released. Often with out-takes or earlier revisions that are marketed as the authors “original vision”. I guess that in some ways they are the most raw expression of the initial idea and in some cases are close to the original vision. But they are not what was released for public consumption. Or to put it another way, how the artist felt their vision was best expressed to the public.


And that brings me back to the music that got me thinking about this. When I hear a guitar solo (or piano or drums, for that matter) I wonder if the musician has more to say in the song or just has space to fill. Are they saying " hey look what I can do," or are they saying, " listen to me this is important"


Sometimes you don't know the answer to that until you vomit out the idea and see what it looks like on the floor. Then you can take it and make a cohesive work out of it, but it leaves me wondering if it is fair to artists to dig through the raw vomit, from which great art was made. Or is it perhaps essential to understanding how great art was made in those instances.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday is beach day





I don't have a ton of memories of days at the beach from my childhood. My first memory of going to the beach involves jellyfish and a search for meat tenderizer. That memory blends with one of getting burnt terribly while in Puerto Rico when I was 5 and being covered in Olive Oil. As an adult I found the beach to be kind of boring...it's hard for me to read in the sun and no one ever wants go go in the water with me. it's also dirty. I don't tend to like lotions on my hands or sand on everything and never learned to appreciate the sublime pleasure of the sticky saltiness of ocean residue.

But having kids kind of changed that for me. I took the kids to the beach last Tuesday and we had a blast. We found crab parts and sea shells, ate BBQ chips, played in the water and tried to dig a hole so big the whole family could fall in it. We built and decorated sand castles with the shells we found, but the real fun was being the army that crushed them.

It is my goal for the summer to get to the beach once a week, though this week it's raining all week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Missing Fenway






Fenway joined our house last summer. He was a golden retriever-yellow lab mix and was a great dog. he was born with a heart murmur that may or may not have been correctable with surgery, but open heart surgery on a dog, that may not work seemed like something that he would have declined. (well maybe not, he did a lot of other things that you might have thought were undesirable too, but he's a dog).

Anyhow he played too hard one day earlier this month and had a heart attack and died. I thought I'd share some pictures of him here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Highest Summit in Connecticut





Liam has been asking me to take him mountain climbing and so i obliged. errrr...i took him up Bear Mountain in Salisbury, CT. For those who know, it is not the highest point in CT, just the highest summit in the state. (for a complete summary of the issue visit CT Museum Quest.)

this 6.7 mile hike is one that i have taken innumerable times since being a boy scout. It rates as being a strenuous to moderately strenuous hike, but i figured that Liam could do it pretty easily. He ran a 5K over the summer so this would be walking twice as far, but in a greater period of time.

on the morning of the walk, we got up, had breakfast and packed snacks for the hike. mom even made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Liam later commented while eating his sandwich: "is there anything that peanut butter doesn't make better?" truer words were never spoken and it reminded me of an old nike ad.)

we started walking and were making descent time, but taking more breaks than i might have taken had i been by myself. at one point there was an opportunity to turn the walk into a loop or a straight up and down walk. i gave Liam the choice telling him that the loop was longer, thinking that he'd opt for the shorter trip, but i was mistaken. we took the loop (the Paradise trail for those "in the loop"). it is a great walk, with a steep final approach to the summit. Liam called it real rock climbing and he wasn't too far off.

at the summit we ate our sandwiches and drank some water. we sat on the monumet and took pictures. then hiked down. I should say here that I had an Anatomy and Physiology lab that night and was running late. the trail was about 2 hours away from school and i was getting pretty stinky from hiking. that said, i wanted to get off the mountain as soon as possible. we hiked and liam got tired. the last hour of the hike was hard on him he lacked the real profanity, but his attitude was "F-you and F this F-ing hike." I wanted to tell him that his mom has said that to me many times on hikes, but i didn't want to fuel his fire.

in the end, we got back to the car and i showed him how taking off his boots and socks feels so much better and i raced him home to put on deodorant and a clean t-shirt and race to lab. i got to lab an hour late and people were actually almost done when i arrived.

a walk that takes me 3 hours by myself took us 6, but it was a great 6 hours and i hope that Liam remembers it that way too.