Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sixteen Months

About a week ago, Xtina's book club was convening at our humble home and I thought of the wonderful idea that Lucas and I would make ourselves scarce so that the ladies could discuss their literary musings in peace. So after almost a year and a half of knowing one another Lucas and I had our very first boys night out!

We went to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, Ponces. I eagerly anticipated scarfing down delicious burritos without a worry to my name. We'd frequented this particular establishment often and Lucas was already recognized as a regular customer of course. I figured that he would feel comfortably at home, besides the atmosphere is usually at the same volume level as Lucas' eager lung capacity so we'd blend right in.

When we arrived we were required to wait for a table of seven to be seated before us. As our hosts pushed a bunch of tables together to fit the large group I noticed that a tiny two person only table was freed up from the rearrangement. At the same time a larger four person booth was being cleared in the back completely out of the flow of traffic. I prayed dearly for the booth, but I realized that long ago God must've forsaken me due to my lousy faith and my pleading thoughts fell uselessly to the floor. The host came over with a smile and lead me into disastrous territory.

Now I am the type of person who simply likes to allow life to wash right over me so to speak. I don't let it suffocate me in anyway. I just breathe in with the waves as they ebb and flow around me. What I mean to say is that there isn't a lot of things that embarrass me or worry me or overwhelm me. I just merely wish to enjoy what I have and where I am because that's exactly what I need or where I'm supposed to be. This philosophy isn't always easy to live by.

Because of the fact that the table we sat at was barely big enough to set a couple of plates and a drink or two on its surface, I didn't have the luxury of keeping everything out of reach from mon cheri. Whenever we've gone to Ponces before there was at least one other person along for the ride and I wasn't forced to focus my entire attention on the little guy. This time I wasn't allowed that pleasure and it was quite an adventure.

I quickly decided that there was nothing I could do to keep the food away from him so I just gave him a spoon and let him dig into his chicken taco with gusto. He proceeded to push the contents of his plate in every direction; in his mouth, on his napkin, on the table and the floor of course. It didn't take long for him to become more interested in the new power he commanded than actually eating anything, but he had to eat something so I periodically let him have some of my burrito whist desperately trying to catch flinging lettuce at the same time. It was a full time project and by the time we managed swallow most of our food I realized that I'd only taken one sip off the beer I'd ordered at the beginning of the night. Needless to say, I proceeded to guzzle my dreams of perfect fatherhood into my belly hoping they might digest into something warm and comfortable.

Meanwhile Lucas was the hit of the party; cackling madly at everything with a glorious light in his eye. He was a wonder to watch and I wasn't the only one who noticed. He's already quite the ladies man. They were all enamored with him, which makes sense because he is pretty adorable. I must say though that I was pretty happy to leave. I couldn't recall the last time I had such a stressful evening.

But before we went home I decided to walk off the dinner and maybe a little bit of the stress as well. I took Lucas over to the Kensington Park, which has a small playground that he loves to go to. It was pretty dark and quiet by then and the only people we saw was a couple making out on the park bench, who made a rapid retreat once they realized we were headed their way. Lucas was having a blast walking around this familiar place in the dark, but he didn't want to go on any of the slides or the swings like he usually does. He just wanted to walk everywhere. That's his new thing anyway. He wants to walk everywhere we go, just put him down, take tail and try to keep up and keep him safe and sound.

Well, shortly after we wandered a bit a young kid suddenly came up to me and asked me if I saw his friend come out of the library, a girl with a red sweatshirt. By the time we arrived the library was closed and like I said the place was practically empty. This guy was pissed. She was supposed to wait for him and since she didn't, he wanted to make somebody knew that it was upsetting him royally. That someone turned out to be me and no matter how sympathetic I tried to be while making sure I remained focused on my meandering son, he let me have it in more words than one. Finally I had just had to get out of there so I picked up Lucas, wished the guy luck and started to walk away. But this guy wasn't finished so he followed me for half a block, still vocalizing his anguish in modern terms hoping something, perhaps the night God, would give him the redemption he deserved.

The harsh air of the night infiltrated my soul in much the same way it had twisted this young man. I felt terrible sympathy for him even though I didn't respect the ignorant hateful way that he expressed himself, but all I wanted to do was make sure that my son was protected from it. There really was very little I had to offer him except for maybe a sounding board to swallow all the anger and hurt that had him in its clutches. I realized that I need to remember this boy, because not too long ago he was like Lucas, cackling and merely wishing to walk. Somewhere along the way a darkness seeped in and took root and caused malice to grow where it has no reason to be. It's like a weed. It's not supposed to be watered and nurtured with forgetfulness, but sometimes that's exactly what happens. We forget.

Lucas, I promise that I will weed your garden.

And I can't wait for the next boys night out. I'm sure that it's only going to get better.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Music Round-up for 2005

Here is the best music of 2005. Although some of the selections weren't actually released last year, it was the first time I got my hands on them and they were just too good not to put on this list.

20. Spoon:Gimme Fiction-Every time I listen to it I think that it's really incredible, but when it's no longer coming through the speakers I think that it's over-rated, what gives?
19. Joy Zipper:American Whip-Perfect breezy psychedelica floating down your ear canals, Dosed and Became Invisible is the coolest song I've heard all year.
18. Fiery Furnaces:Rehearsing My Choir-These guys are too crazy to keep them off this list, completely original.
17. Marissa Nadler:Ballads of Living and Dying-Somber and dreamy, and her voice creeps down into your heart.
16. Stereolab:Margerine Eclipse-A fitting tribute to their recent lost, while this band just continues to grow.
15. Manual with Jess Kahr:The North Shore-Mellow ambientscapes drifting on a beach somewhere far away from here.
14. Tosca-J.A.C.-I really like the soft beats and added vox, a pleasant surprise.
13. Soel:Memento-Jazzy activism bouncing around your head when you need it the most, thank you Ludovic Navarre.
12. Keren Ann:Nolita-Her voice whispers in your ear making you want to sink into your couch with a good book in your hand.
11. Mono:Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined-Alternating from near total silence to thundering madness in your ear, Japan's Godspeed.
10. Nick Drake:Pink Moon-A reissue from before I was born, I never realized music was this good so long ago, What the hell were my parents listening to?
9. Josh Rouse:Nashville-Pleasant, casualrock that floats easily out of the speakers, he's just in tune with all the stuff that makes me feel good.
8. Calexico & Iron and Wine:Lays in the Reins and Calexico:Travelall-Two short albums that have all the wonder and beauty found in the creative talents of Joey Burns and friends, now why do they suck so bad in concert?
7. Brazilian Girls:Brazilian Girls-Big beats with a beautiful chanteuse, what more do you want?
6. Kings of Convenience:Versus-Quietly becoming one of our favorite must listen at all hours of the day so that they steadily fill our ears with beauty type of bands.
5. Devendra Barnhardt:Cripple Crow-I never knew that I'd like folk music this much.
4. Archer Prewitt:Wilderness-His voice is soft and delicate over crisp, gentle guitars and makes me wonder why The Sea and Cake is so goddamn boring?
3. Feist:Let it Die-I just love her scratchy voice from another era, I've been singing her catchy tunes all year long.
2. Sufjan Stevens:Come On Feel the Illinoise-About as complete as an album can get.
1. Inara George:All Rise-What an amazing voice and she takes the cake because she was so damn cool when we met her, plus she stands on her tiptoes when she sings.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fifteen Months

One of the most difficult aspects of being a parent, which I'm sure I've touched on before, is the constant struggle between your selfish nature and the part of you that must become selfless. Children don't have a choice. They must deal with those who have decided to raise them, no matter how flawed the individual might be. In order for us all to have survived this long, there was someone who went out of their way to feed us, clothe us, change us, bathe us and just put a roof over our heads when we didn't have the capacity to do these things on our own. Even those people who complain bitterly about their terrible childhood, had parents who stopped being selfish long enough to keep them alive through that horrible era in their life. I'm not saying that it's enough to simply make sure your child makes it to some form of skeletal self identity, but we all are here because of others. We all have an fundamental connection, perhaps extremely limited in some cases, with what it means to be altruistic.

Now, embracing that selflessness is another matter. This is what I'm talking about. The older Lucas gets the less time I have for myself. I'd gotten very comfortable with the life I was living. I could do just about anything I wanted. I could rent a movie and watch it whenever I felt like it. I could sit down and write for four hours straight without realizing the sun had gone down. I could go to the record store and peruse the shelves for as long as I wanted. Well, I guess I can still do that, as long as he doesn't get too heavy. But it's gotten to the point that I can hardly have the time and space to wash dishes anymore, which I should probably consider a blessing in disguise until the dishes pile high and Xtina's eyes flame red.

When I knew that we were going to have a child I was very aware of the fact that I was going to have to change, and if I wasn't then everyone I spoke to constantly reminded me of this little known reality. I didn't focus on this too much at the time seeing as how I am very adaptable. I really have the ability to go with most situations in life and really not allow them to steamroll me. I think that I am now at the point in my time as a parent where I truly understand that this change toward selflessness is inevitable. I can either fight it and make my family life very miserable or go with the flow and grow a bit.

It's very difficult. I haven't spent a lot of time in my life really caring about other human beings, but I also spent a lot of my life being really depressed. In the past few years I've become very aware of the relationship that we share with the cosmic lesson of cause and effect. It's very logical to see that when you are kind to others then the behavior is returned in kind. We experience this every day in our relationships at work and at home. It is also very understandable that it is very easy to over think everything in our lives to the point that we become completely foolish people. So I am going to do the best I can to become a more enlightened person when it comes to my son.

I remember telling Xtina when we found out that we had a son that it was going to be good for me because it was going to force me to grow. I grew up with a father who had a difficult time dealing with all the things that I'm talking about here and I didn't want to have the kind of relationship with my son that my father had with me. The one thing that I do believe is that when we challenge the difficult aspects of our beings then we can overcome all the negativity that always seems to be holding us back. If we remember that then just about anything is possible.

I'm glad that I have a son and I'm very happy that he's come into my life. He's an amazing, growing, bundle of awareness that astonishes me whenever I look into his bright innocence. I want to protect that and nurture it and help it grow into an equally amazing adult. I guess I just need to take some of that determined energy and apply it toward myself so that I can be the cause and have a rewarding effect on my family. They definitely deserve it.

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