Standard of Loving

Fifteen years ago, I said ‘I do’ to a wonderful young woman who had the good sense to be scared out of her mind at the prospect of returning that phrase. She was terrified at the prospect of getting married and, in retrospect, I should’ve been a lot more scared than I was (or at least let on) at the time. But, in my heart, I knew it was right. It was not a moment that I ever pictured in my mind’s eye, but as it was happening I knew we were going to do well. Certainly, we had a significant wealth of role-modeling to draw on: between our sets of parents, there is currently 94 years (and counting!) of marital history to help set our course. That is certainly a ‘standard of loving’ that we can all hope to live up to.

Still, not every minute has been perfect (and I think any married person who says that it has been is properly deluded), but we have managed to talk things through with a minimum of screaming. I heard a quote the other day, ‘Marriage is the nicest way of confronting your own inadequacies on a daily basis.’ That pretty much sums up how we interact. I still roll my eyes when she loses something; she still reminds me to pre-drill the holes when doing a home improvement project. We don’t kiss as often as we used to (which we should rectify), but we still dance occasionally (though it is much more difficult to do when our jealous 5yo insists on being between us), and we’ve grown in our ability to manage the complicated and enjoy the leisure moments.

Two houses, two kids, and multiple jobs later, we continue to stand by each other each day and say ‘I do.’ I do love you; I do believe in us. And, when that is not always guaranteed for a variety of reasons to many couples, it is reason to celebrate the milestones of not only 15 years, but every hour of every day. So, to my loving, compassionate, strong-willed, feminist wife, I do adore you, I do give my heart to you, and I’m so unbelievably overwhelmed by this life we share together.

Too Long;Didn’t Read (tl;dr)

I have started this blog post a couple of times in my head. It still doesn’t sound right. I don’t know that it ever will. I don’t know that it is capable of being coherent. I don’t know that it will make any impact on life in general. I suspect that it will be too long and you won’t read it, as the title suggests.

That’s fine. I don’t know that it’s necessarily for you. It might just be for me.Still, I hope someone reads it because maybe it will help them think and have a clearer notion of what they would like to say.

On Tuesday, this country, OUR country voted out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of a woman president. Fear of immigrants. Fear for safety. Fear of economic confusion. And, you can couch that in any justification you’d like, but know that it was fear. And some of you will say I’m an elitist liberal who is out of touch with mainstream America. You are wrong. I grew up in white middle-class America. I live in white middle-class America. Did I get an education? Yes, but I worked for it. It took me 16 years of hemming and hawing, complacence and obstinance, laziness and aggravation, to get my college degree. And I got it mostly to simply maintain my existence in white middle-class America. However, the education that I continue to get is from an understanding that my education, my skin color, my income level…none of that entitles me to behave as those I’m a better human and that I deserve more than anyone else.

I get that some people are frustrated that their jobs are seemingly disappearing. Some of those jobs were always going to disappear. Automation and streamlined production processes make it simpler for companies to do more with less people or no people at all. I no longer need someone to operate the elevator for me, but I do need someone to fix the elevator if it’s broken. That’s progress. Some of those jobs disappeared because it’s simply cheaper to do business in other countries where they don’t worry so much about things like worker safety, overtime, or insurance. I’m glad we have child labor laws, so that my kids don’t have to work 14 hours a day in toxic conditions for pennies. Aside: although, it wouldn’t kill them to bring in a buck or two now and then to help with the mortgage.

I get that some people are upset that their world view is changing. When they grew up, men were men and those men married women who were women. I grew up in that same world. But, as my mother-in-law is fond of saying, “Only the flexible survive.” If you can’t see that there are people who find their biological nature to be a hindrance to their happiness and that their flexibility enables them to live in this world, then your intolerance becomes an issue; an issue that must take a back seat to an old way of life. And, just because you’ve never seen a woman be president before, doesn’t mean she can’t or shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, you’d probably be surprised if you looked back in time to see how many First Ladies might have made a better nation if they’d only been President; Abigail Adams, Lucretia Garfield, Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Betty Ford, to name but a few.

This country was built in its entirety on the backs of immigrants in some form or other. Even if your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, they were still immigrants. They may have been Irish or Polish, Chinese or Iranian or Bosnian, Vietnamese, Filipino, or any other host of nationalities that this country should have welcomed with open arms, but resisted time and again because they were different. Yet, the country survived, and grew stronger, because these people, my ancestors included, became Americans. They saw a great country and they came here, sometimes maybe without the proper paperwork, for the life they could not achieve in their own country. America is different. It is made of differences. We thrive on those differences; they should not be what divides us.

I’ve heard many calls for unity and healing and peace over the last hours. I’ve also heard of many despicable acts. The church I grew up in believed in the notion of turning the other cheek; to be kind to your oppressors. It’s hard to do when you’re repeatedly slapped. It’s hard to do when your oppressors want to see you eliminated from their lives either by deportation or by violence. I don’t fear for myself because by sheer genetic happenstance, I am light skinned and biologically male, and my formative years were spent in overwhelmingly Christian circumstances. But, I do fear for my friends who love people who happen to be biologically the same, my friends whose skin is darker than mine, my friends whose place of worship has a different symbol on the front door. I am content to join in the unity and healing, provided that the peace exists for all people not just the ones who happen to have certain chromosomes aligned in a certain pattern.

When President Obama was elected, I heard a chorus of people who were convinced that the end times were coming.When President Trump was elected, I heard a similar chorus just from different corners of the nation. Back then I urged calm and suggested that Obama be given a chance before we threw in the towel. Difficult as it is for me to think that Trump will be half the president Obama was, I still am of a frame of mind to urge calm and suggest that he be given a chance. Many people posed the post-election question, “What do I tell my children?” I asked myself that same question. I think at this point the best answer I can provide is that this is how the system works. Every four years we vote and someone wins. Our job, as citizens, as humans, is to work to create a nation and a world that is healthy for all people. When we vote, we vote for the person we think will do the proper job in bringing about that world. The winner may not always be the person we think it should be, but that simply means that we have to work harder at creating that nation. Growing pains notwithstanding, we are creating that nation.

I’m a person who uses humor to get through tough times. Unfortunately, over the last day or so, I’ve struggled to find the humor. I haven’t laughed because there wasn’t anything to laugh about. This will change. I will again find the laughter. I don’t know where it will come from, but I will find it. And, I will use it to help build a better world for me, for my kids, for you, for your family, for everyone.


One Year

A year ago today I went to work, just like I do every weekday.  I sat down at my desk and began to shuffle papers and answer voicemail.  I carried on conversations with co-workers as they arrived for the day.  Then the phone rang, and the voice on the other end of the line changed my life forever.   It was my wife; her water had broken.  We were going to have our baby.

For the past year, we’ve made bottles of milk, changed diapers, cuddled, rocked, napped, and cleaned up a variety of substances from snot to vomit.  And through it all, we continue to look at our daughter and be quite simply amazed at the fact that she was created from just two cells.  An entire living human being with thoughts, dreams, emotions, and needs…all from two tiny cells that you can’t even see with the naked eye.  There have been days we’ve laughed at the smallest giggle, and nights when the most bare nerve was scraped to the last from the never-ceasing cry.  And, I don’t believe that we would change a thing.

It really doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a year.  Sure, she looks old enough.  She’s got so much hair, and she’s moments away from walking on her own.  The pediatrician lets us know that she’s healthy and how well she compares to other children her age, not that comparisons are even necessary.  But, a whole year?!  It can’t have happened that quickly.  It went too fast.  There must be some mistake.

No…no mistake.  That’s our little girl.  She’s not our baby anymore and, yet, she will always be our baby.  Our most adorable, wonderful, beautiful breath of life.  I love you little munchkin and I hope your first year has been as good as we hoped it would be.

Ivy Catherine

Happy Birthday IvyCat and May the Fourth Be With You!

See you in the funny papers!

The story of life

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

A man and a woman stepped forth from their cave with a new son.  Beneath the silvery gleam of the half moon and the sparkle of a billion stars, this new life was consecrated with the earth and the heavens in mutual understanding.  As the days grew longer in their land, they watched as their son grew strong and intelligent; learning his way in the world through their teaching as well as through his own inquisitiveness.  As a family, they connected with other members of the clan who in turn enabled their son to reach his full potential.  Soon the son stood tall among this gathering and set out in the world to find his own desires; his own value.  The son traveled the farthest reaches of the lands which were known unto his people and he gathered all of this knowledge to himself creating his own world.  Soon he desired companionship and sought out another to share this world with him.  And they stood at the mouth of their own dwelling staring deep into the stars as the moon rose high in the sky.  And he saw that life was good.

Today is my birthday.  When I stepped out of the shower this morning, I looked into the eyes of an older adult in the mirror.  I hardly recognized the person I saw before me.  It wasn’t the grey hairs (though there were a few), it wasn’t the bags beneath his eyes (though they were present also).  It was simply an understanding that the man looking back at me was no longer the young child that he used to be.  He had grown into an adult and would forever be that adult.  Certainly, he still has the occasional childlike desires in him, not the least of which appears in his humor…but for the most part, he is an adult.  And, that man was me.  I’m not old (at least not by the latest actuarial tables) but I have reached a certain maturity that one could misconstrue as adulthood.  I’ve taken it in stride and I look forward to the experiences that are to come.

See you in the funny papers!

A Psalm of Life by H.W. Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.