Joined July 2017
  • Day72

    Joy

    October 25, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    There's a weightiness to fatherhood that I may have underestimated in the past. I felt it today right down into the bottoms of my feet; as if slabs of concrete were strapped to the soles of my shoes. I was walking out of Oliver's school under this weight that had landed on me with a thud. Meanwhile, my son was clucking and hopping his way to the truck. I was trailing behind, lugging his backpack under one arm. A sleeve from his coat was slung through the backpack straps. It dragged on the ground like the tail of an old dog.

    If someone were looking down on us in judgement, maybe perched up in the branches of a front yard tree, they'd see this carefree child bouncing down the sidewalk and me; a slouching old man dragging his weary bones, one foot in front of the other, staring absently beyond himself, too weary to wonder where his own childhood had gone.

    What a poor soul! remarks the voice from up in the trees as we pass by. How do you do it? Not the life you imagined is it? What a shame! Your body a miraculous collection of molecules, of swirling stardust spun out of nothingness, now lugubriously plodding home at the end of day.

    But, you're wrong, I say into the barren sky. That's enough.

    I am made of the same stuff as the Sun. I'm as ancient as the Big Bang. I don't have to parade around for you or anyone else.

    When we got home Oliver asked for a bowl of water. He went outside with it and I mixed up a bowl of pancake mix. While I cooked up pancakes, my anxious eye on the clock so we wouldn't be late for hockey practice at 5:00, Oliver washed my truck with a nylon brush.

    Behind the tired facade, under the great weight is the joy. A sparkling truck and a little boy bursting through the front door to share with me what he'd done. His little brother grabbed my hand and led me out of the kitchen, outside to admire what his big brother had started. He grabbed my hand!

    I want to share that feeling with the voice from the trees but when I turn around to say, See! This is where it's at! The voice is gone.

    But the weight is still there. The father alone with his weight.
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  • Day68

    Kim chi

    October 21, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    If you've never had kimchi, you need to check it out. Amazingly it is simultaneously sweet, salty, sour in a vinegary way as well as spicy. I went to Seoul House for lunch and to read a book while Ollie was at a birthday party down the street. As I slurped my kimchi jigae from a stone bowl, steam wafting upwards through my nostrils, past my ears I relished memories of my time in Busan.Read more

  • Day68

    Rule for dealing with devil

    October 21, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    If you ever close a deal with the devil, and he wants to take something from you in return - don't let him take your mirror. Not your mirror, which is your reflection, which is your double, which is your secret sharer. - Martin AmisRead more

  • Day68

    Love

    October 21, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    My eyes opened in the dark. This peculiar darkness is softened by alternating hues of pink and blue and green cast by a machine that resembles a seashell sitting on the top ledge of Oliver's desk. The pulsing circumambience is comforting to Ollie. It disguises the darkness, lets him keep himself company. It's the weekend and I will sometimes have a sleep over with him. Unlike his mom, he can sleep through me reading or watching a show late into the night.

    Ollie wants to get up.
    It's the weekend, I tell him. No rush.
    I like to get up early, he says. He rolls over my legs and tip toes downstairs to find the iPad. I can hear Toby in our bed next door. He wants Jessica to go downstairs. She is saying no. He stomps downstairs and grabs the iPad Aite gave him. He marches back upstairs past Ollie's room and returns to his rightful place next to his mom.

    Jessica walks in and sits on the end of the bed. She wants coffee. I tell her that I'll make it. I'm just trying to remember something first.
    I want to punch you in the nards, she says.
    The imminent danger makes it more difficult to remember what I'm trying to remember.

    7:30 Saturday. Coffee is now on. Nards are intact. I open the book I just started. It's called Time's Arrow. The morning stretches out in front of us. We're not going anywhere. Time keeps ticking but we don't notice it for a few blissful hours. Ollie is balled up on the couch watching Netflix. Jessica and Toby are lying parallel to each other in bed eating dry Cheerios. I fall slightly deeper into the book. I don't quite reach total immersion but it's good enough.

    I'm interested in the love of togetherness through time. The love that grows from a seed casually, experimentally dropped into the earth by some unseen hand. In time it crawls all over itself to get at the sun and the rain. Like a clematis vine, climbing tangled up some lattice work and tumbling about blooming flowers every spring. Each year it bunches up in strength and doubles down on it's influence across the fence. It is its own monument, a tower of resilience, a testament of patience and persistence.
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  • Day59

    A moment leads to a letter

    October 12, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Dear sons,

    No matter how hard you might try to package life into something that looks all neat and organized, you will find that Living is messy and often gets in the way of your tidy aspirations. We are usually taught that the messy stuff, the immeasurable, the invisible, the stuff that doesn't fit into our daily grind, our material expectations, is less valid, not as real. Somehow our pursuit of leisure or convenience trumps all that messy stuff. But the messy stuff is life and all the rest is vapidity.

    I lived like that for many years; avoiding, dodging, evading looking at myself too closely. I wanted to power through Life and I was willing to make do riding the appearance of things. But now at 44, the appearances don't seem to matter much and I am sunk with this fragmented version of myself. In between who I am and who I want to be.

    Except when I'm with my family. That's the only time I know I'm living right. And it's hard. You keep my lid open. Which makes me a lucky dad because I have a hunch if you shut the lid on that messy side (the inside) of Life, you become, in essence, merely an appearance of that with which you were so preoccupied in portraying. An object or an image, without substance, hardly conscious of being human... Don't do that.

    You go long enough without turning the inside out and your subjectivity, your self hood, will grow wings and fly away to become an angel. Your body and brain will be all that's left along with a laundry list of imperative propositions that will have to pass the time until the end of days. This is the definition of loneliness. I want to raise you to keep your wings. Nurture them, love them and let them take you places.

    I know I haven't written you in awhile. My imagination flattened out there for a few days. I lost track of the minutes, the minutiae. During the heat wave in September, Time got scrambled and stretched into a plane of sameness. The days went quiet and uniform like sunlight on pavement. One moment no different from the next. No shape to it. No shadow. It's hard to remember what we did from one day to the next. It's easy to get caught up in a list of things to do. If you're not careful that list can keep you busy for years. It's the same for everyone.

    Writing to you is one way for me to open up my box and peek inside. It's dark in here. It's hard to see but with persistence you adjust. Toby would say there's bears in there. He's right. You don't know what you'll find.

    My thoughts recreate themselves faster than I can think them. Before I reach the end of this sentence I've become someone different. I still get discouraged by how insincere my words seem to me. I'm never who I think I am. I'll see a character on TV and I'll want to be like him. What a great dad! Or I'll hear an author on a podcast and I'll want to be more like her. I wake up every morning and promise myself that I'm going to be the father that does"all the everythings" as your mother would say. And then Life...

    But I guess what I've learned is you don't give up changing. And you might as well learn to love changing. And by the way try and rid yourself of any misconceptions you might have learned about "being" yourself. Being yourself is an overrated trap set by your ego. A vain need for a sense of identity. Instead, think "becoming" yourself.

    So my butt is cold on the hard concrete of the arena bleachers. I'm watching Ollie learning to skate backwards. My eyes well up with water. I'm toasting your beautiful mother at Thanksgiving after she prepared a traditional turkey dinner for Aunt Tina, Uncle Jay and your cousins, Nana, and Aite. My neck hurts under the covers scribbling notes at 3 in the morning. I fill the bath with bubbles. I listen to you read. I pour milk in your Cheerios. I drive you to school. I want to spend every last moment i can with you. I can hear murmuring upstairs as Ollie practices reading with his mom and Toby plays with toys.
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  • Day10

    At the end of two weeks

    September 15, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Thursday night my phone buzzed with a notification from a CTV newsfeed. ' North Korea fires unidentified missile. Breaking news.'

    I realized that the end of the world, when it comes, will be in an obtuse headline, one of thousands of obtuse headlines that barely register on the panel of my consciousness. I showed my screen to Jessica just in case this was The Headline and then I fell asleep at the same time as the kids sprawled out in the middle of our bed on top of the covers.

    The next morning I reached over to my bedside table and grabbed my phone. I swiped through to the various news stories Google has determined will interest me and I read that the missile n question had flown over Japan.

    By the time I was in my truck on the 401 I learned that South Korea had shot two missiles to the north equidistant to North Korea's launch stations. That's that, for now I guess.

    I have stopped listening to the news on the way to work. This morning I listened to a podcast, interviews with Tracy K Smith instead. I have to listen to the podcast with my phone speakers which aren't that powerful. In this heat wave, with my air conditioning out of fluid I have to roll down my windows, even on the morning commute. The rattling of an old truck engine combined with traffic noise makes it hard to hear every word but I catch the gist of it and no one is talking about nuclear weapons.

    What a bizarre experience to be one of this line up of metal containers, each one transporting a faceless body to it's daily destination. All the cars divided into lanes locked in a direction seeking a particular exit.

    I eventually made it to Victoria Park and arrived in the back parking lot of the school where our office is located. At 8:40 the lot is still mostly empty so I have my choice of spots. The red brick building is divided on the outside by panels of rectangular windows. All the blinds are closed to the morning sun which is shining from behind me. Gradually the lot fills with cars. Teachers and students arrive carrying their bags of stuff they need for the day. I grab my backpack and head inside forgetting about missiles and nuclear war until my phone tells me otherwise.

    The first couple of weeks have been mostly organizational. We moved into a new office so we rolled some freaks around and moved in a book shelf. Spreadsheets needed to be created, forms for schools to request support. My calendar went from blank to coded with events. September filled up and I've started in on October.

    I've been asked to do some training with a new colleague. She likes to question the validity of everything I show her. I get frustrated by the fact that I'm working harder than she is so by the end of today I resolved to leave her alone until she takes some initiative for her own learning. I feel like a grouchy old man but I really don't have time to argue whether the software is any good or not.

    "I didn't make it," I finally told her. "I'm not selling it but you have to use it because this is what is available to support children with special needs. Despite it's limitations which you have so acutely pointed out after 3 minutes of using it there are many benefits for children!"

    "But I don't like it," she said.

    By 3:30 I had had enough. I changed my shirt in the truck before heading back on the highway to join the line of metal boxes, another weary faceless body, waiting for the world to end. Going west at that time means the sun pours through my windshield. I want to hear Tracey K Smith better so I roll up the windows and sweat through my t shirt all the way home.
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