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Undertones

In your eyes I see wonder
Long overdue, but constant
A transient melting
Secure in its own worth
Thawing long and even
Like spring’s quickening
Breath coming in shallow gasps
Before exploding into life
A twinkle and a nod
Exacting patience from afar
And I understand it
because I am just like you
In love with the idea
of love
Reaching for it through time
Through space and structure
Green in blue, gold in red
Consciously transforming
Wrapping around me like skin
Like your breathing, in tune
Creating melodies fair
Yet wooden in the delivery
Until blended with yours
So perfect

In your eyes I see wonder
A mirror reflecting upon itself
From beginning to end
Always the same inflection
Just different undertones.

Sam

The Learning Curve: All in the Family

The Easter egg hunt still rages in the background as I write this post, with my seven-year old daughter and my 17-year old nephew battling it out for supremacy. They each have found 25 eggs, and there is one left to find, which creates high drama indeed. I wasn’t allowed to participate in the competition this year for the first time, so I’m rather sad to be left out, but it was a joy to see my youngest find a whopping 21 eggs herself (with a little assistance by her grandmother). That’s one of the joys of Easter, being able to see the surprise and wonder every time one of them finds an egg, the excitement and amazement blazingly evident in their eyes. To live vicariously is almost as good as finding those eggs myself. Almost.

Just the other day I realized my daughter Madeline has become quite a bit more expressive around others. For example, when I went to her school’s “Bunny Breakfast,” I noticed her calling her classmates by name, taking turns with using the items necessary to create the pancake bunnies (love that whipped cream), and during reading time directly afterward. Not too long ago she wasn’t very vocal at all, preferring to sign most things even if she could have possibly used the words for them. And just today I saw it again when she was trying to explain which program she wanted to see to start her day. First, she explained the name of the program, then she even said what episode she wanted… using words. She amazes me every day.

Then there’s my daughter, Alexa, my seven-year old who is going on 18, who is a master of making deals. Recently, my wife and I decided to limit their screen time to two hours apiece a day for both of them. We basically had to create this huge ironclad document so that Lexi could find no loopholes, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. Yesterday she basically skipped the commercials on Strawberry Shortcake, and left off the ending just so she was only using 18 minutes instead of 26. And of course the whole thing just creates more work for us, her parents. We have to keep track, and she keeps bugging us about how much time she has left. But I think it’s worth it in the end to make sure they do something constructive with their free time. Fast forward to later that night: The floor is littered with about 30 paintings the girls did in their free time once screen time was up.

And there’s me and my wife, and we are learning the most of all when it comes to dealing with the girls and their idiosyncrasies. As they grow and adjust, we grow and adjust with them, proving that the learning curve might slope pretty wildly, but there is still learning that takes place across all levels. What’s most difficult for us is remembering how we reacted to things when we were children, because these two, while they are just like us at times, are also very different from where we were, and from how we were. And it’s times like these, when family is around, that I am reminded of how others had to adjust to us and our own differences from them. As my two munchkins grow even older and learn in even more varied ways, I know that will shift how we deal with them as well, but it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come already.

Sam

On Parenting and Parenthood Archive

iPod Classic ‘Til I Die

You know, I’m worried that Apple will stop making iPod classics, so perhaps I should buy up all the ones I see now, so that when it happens I’ll have backups. Because, you know there will be people on eBay selling them for ridiculously expensive prices once they’re no longer being made. But I wouldn’t sell any one of the ones I would collect before that time. I love them too much. It’s like my friend Mary and her infatuation for Johnny Depp. She has one of his autographed posters for one of the Jack Sparrow movies, and I know it sells for a lot of money, but she would never part with it.

I have three iPods. Well, my family does. And when my kids throw or drop theirs, I freak out, thinking that the end has come for that one member of our iFamily. Luckily, it hasn’t happened yet, and no iEulogies have had to be written, but I have also taken to making sure I’m around when they’re using it. It might not stop the inevitable, but it might just delay it. And this one time, my iPod classic (of the 160GB variety) wouldn’t connect to iTunes and I had to completely reboot it, to reinstall the software, and to reload every single one of my 26,138 songs, which took an ungodly amount of time. But the best feeling in the world was when that thing turned back on after everything I had to do, and it worked! I swear I saw a halo appear above it.

Five ways my iPod has changed my life:

1. It allowed me to use my CD-Rs as coasters.

2. It showed me the glory of the click-wheel.

3. It fried my brain with too many options.

4. It made me re-evaluate my dislike for Apple.

5. It introduced me to podcasts.

And, while I love my Android phone and my Nook, both that have touchscreens, there is something I cannot stand about the iPhone or the iPod Touch, maybe because they try to combine too much, or the fact that the storage capacity is so much less. If I want to listen to music, I want the biggest possible memory space to do just that (see #3 above), and only the iPod classic can give me that, click-wheel or not. I don’t want my enjoyment of my songs to be interrupted, either, by the sounds of a ringtone, or by the insane vibrations of the iPhone when I get a text message. I’m old-school that way, even with a relatively new school invention.

iPod classic ’til I die.

Sam

The Little Patch of Land

imageThe 30-foot swimming pool stands to the rear of the property, a solid reminder of what used to be, while in the foreground stands a large yellow tractor, a solemn symbol of what now is. At the far front of the plot of land sits a mailbox, circa 1975, rusted and old, yet still serviceable, but it will never again receive mail. Indeed, within a few short weeks it might not even stand sentinel in its spot any longer, a savage slight for such a conscientious old friend.

It happened while they were out, the little family that owned so little, visiting friends for the day. And it turned out to be fortuitous because when the fire started it spread quickly, rapidly engulfing the little house long before the volunteer fire department was on the scene. Also, long before the firemen showed up to deal with the raging inferno, texts flew back and forth between neighbors and onlookers. Facebook and Twitter were alight with missives between those who saw, those who knew, and those who were just finding out. And everybody who received the messages wondered who lived there.

Purchased for a small slice of change in 1973, the land was between two ancient houses that had stood the test of time. The new owners were also new to the area, having been dislocated from their own lands by the state and given a small sum of money to go away. In retrospect, the money wasn’t nearly enough on which to live, or even to buy a comparable house to the one that they had been forced to leave. But they had to live somewhere, and the little house on the little patch of property fit the bill, or at least the bill they could actually pay. There were three of them then, an older, brunette woman, a prematurely haggard fair-haired man of indeterminate age, and a teenage boy who looked like neither of them. From the moment they moved in to the little house on the little patch of land, they were judged by the small community. How could they have avoided it?

But they persisted, even gaining a small measure of wealth, enough to buy small amenities, but not nearly enough to move to a larger plot of land in a better community. Of course they had made their peace with this a while ago, but that didn’t stop them from prettifying the place in which they lived. Before long, by the summer of 1982, they had put in a small playground set in their front yard, and it was joined in the fall of ’85 by a second-hand above-ground pool that took up residence in their postage-stamp sized backyard. By then the boy who had moved in with them was older, and had since moved out to the garage, a place he liked to call his bachelor pad, even though it had a large wooden Frosty the Snowman nailed to the front of it. He had tried to extricate it from the garage, but he found it to be stuck fast, so he had renamed the place his ice palace.

By the time of the fire, the little house had begun to settle into the ground. At first, it was imperceptible, but by the winter of 2013 it had become quite noticeable. Indeed, the fair-haired man, who was now quite a bit older, was going to have to make a decision on whether or not to raze the house and build another, or to finally move his little family that had gotten larger in time. The older, brunette woman had since passed on, and he had mourned her for seven years, the customary time, but then he had found another. The boy who had been a teen when they moved in, and later had re-named the garage his ice palace, had also moved on, but just to a larger city 60 miles east of the small town. He never visited, and the neighbors wondered if they had had a falling out, but it was never talked about in the fair-haired man’s presence. With his new partner (they had never married) who was quite younger than himself, the fair-haired man had sired two children who looked exactly like him, a boy and a girl, both with fair hair. While both were mousy looking, they were also his pride and joy.

The four of them had gone to visit friends in the next county over on that fateful day when the pilot light on the stove in their little kitchen ignited, touched off by the dog’s inadvertent switching on of the stove while trying to get out of the makeshift pen they had made for him in the kitchen so that he would not slobber all over their new furniture. The kitchen window faced south, and he could see out of it toward the backyard, where the pool stood, covered in a sheen of fresh snow that was somehow incongruous to the scene. He wanted to go out, and had been in a frenzy when the fatal mistake occurred. Once the pilot light ignited, setting the wallpaper on fire, the house became a tinderbox. Luckily for the canine, who the children had named “Leroy,” the chaos he had caused gave him renewed strength and he pushed through the barrier and ran out the back door while the fire raged inside. No one had heard from him since, but at least he had made it to safety. It would take the firefighters several hours of digging through rubble before they finally realized the remains of the dog would not be found in the house.

The fair-haired man found out from the television, a quite surreal way to discover one’s home is no more. He wept when he realized the futility of his efforts to not only maintain, but to enhance his little corner of this world. And when he returned to the scene, he found the yard full of mud and soot, the house a rotted husk of its former self, and the plot of land cordoned off by orange tape that said, “Do Not Cross.” So he did not cross, but before he went to the neighbor’s house to reunite with his family and determine their indeterminate futures, he checked the old, rusty, familiar mailbox… and found his final mortgage bill waiting for him there.

Sam

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