There is little between me and the sunshine but for paned glass and a fly buzzing loudly. The door is open and the sweet sound of birds singing spins forever in the foyer with the songs of Hoagy Carmichael and a piano gently swinging. It is spring in a melody and with it the promise of warmth upon skin grown cold from too much life and the constant living of it.
There will be hardships ahead and the wakes that we are leaving. The sun will shine, the fly will buzz, and Dickinson will always be there dying. At what point do we note it, and when do we walk on by? Will the warmth find me here, stuck beneath a doorway?
There are stages to everything, and all the world knows it—the linger of grief, a book not selling, a house on the mend, and a body far from mending. We vary in each and we bend to accommodate the other. It is as formal as a ball and as loose as a grasp on anything. Yet the seasons move forward, and they flaunt their wares like trinkets in the marketplace. I am looking out the window at something bright and shining, and I am fumbling for my wallet.
There was a refrain of muted horn and distant humming blowing softly through the shadows. It caught me in spirals both coming and going, and many nights I floated there upon wind and breath not sure if I was flying or falling, or whether it ever really mattered. And yet we are surviving, despite the fact that I have accepted the promise of fear like so many pending turns upon a dance card. I have never known more reasons for the worry, but it is spring, and I cannot get past the possibilities and the guilt of being happy. Perhaps tomorrow the door will open slightly wider, and the world a little more so.
Like any good story, my love for Disney started at the beginning and kind of went from there. My youth was spent in Arizona, and our family vacations to Disneyland have long served as the base of nostalgia and magic to a lifetime of wonder—something that my wife and I are now sharing with our children, living as we do an hour from the parks, and straight on till morning.
Once, when I was a teenager, I won a couple of Disney movies during a Disneyland giveaway. It was a major award, and it kick-started a collection that has grown beyond my childhood and into the family movie nights we now cherish.
I have written hundreds of posts on all things Disney all across the Internet, and there is every reason to believe that I will continue to do so. Disney is a part of our family, and our family is everything.
Needless to say, I was excited and intrigued to read the new book Dispatch from Disneyland by my friend John Frost, publisher and curator of the finest Disney blog on the web today, aptly named The Disney Blog (full disclosure – I am a contributor to The Disney Blog).
The beauty of Dispatch from Disneyland is that it isn’t telling us, the readers, about Disneyland, but rather it is taking us there. We are with John, seeing what he sees and hearing what he hears—we are experiencing his experiences and letting them dance lovingly with our own. Dispatch from Disneyland travels like a time machine, moving us through the years and pulling our own nostalgia into the history that unfolds before us. It is the magic we all know and love.
I have said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating, “Dispatch From Disneyland reads like a love letter to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” It is often personal, sometimes funny, and always honest. John Frost makes the reader feel like we are right there with him, taking in the smells, sights, and thrills of Disney magic. It is an E ticket read for Disney fans of all ages, and now I really want a churro.”
Seriously, a churro sounds fantastic.
Pack your bags and buy your copy of Dispatch from Disneyland today. It is a wonderful trip.
I cannot think of many reasons to listen to Boomer Esiason. He is your classic ex-football player turned sports announcer that has nothing new to say about anything. He is a stereotype, and a poor man’s Phil Simms.
Today he was on the radio sharing old thoughts about old topics, and he joined a New York host that isn’t named Howard Stern in bashing Daniel Murphy, a second baseman for the New York Mets, that used his right to take paternity leave after the birth of his son.
Esiason suggested that the couple should have scheduled a Caesarian-section so as not to miss the first few games of the season, and also because Esiason is a total idiot.
I was going to write a whole post about it, but it turns out I don’t have to. I have written it before, when another guy that gets paid to talk about games openly criticized a player for making a similar choice, that of family over baseball, which doesn’t seem like it should be a choice at all.
In the spirit of sports pundits having nothing new to talk about I have shared my original post (DadCentric, 2011) below. Enjoy my anger.
Telling the Men From the Boys of Summer
“In Game 2, Colby Lewis is scheduled to start after missing his last regular turn in the rotation because—I’m not making this up—his wife, Jenny, was giving birth in California. To the couple’s second child … If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous.” – Richie Whitt of the Dallas Observer
It is rare, to the point of utter amazement, in these volatile times to find someone that reaches a level of asshole capable of separating them so clearly from the pack. Richie Whitt is on top of his game.
Whitt is slamming the decision of Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis to utilize a new rule in MLB which allows players to take 24 to 72 hours of paternity leave, in order to be present during the birth of his daughter.
The birth of his daughter.
And to make sure that we understood exactly what Whitt meant when he chastised a man for choosing family OVER A GAME he followed his original quote with this gem:
“I don’t care if Lewis is a good dad. If I wanted to root for a team of great role models, I’d renew my season tickets to watch the deacons at my Sunday church. I want—always have, always will—the Rangers to win.
“If the Rangers lose the AL West by one game—and if it can be reasonably concluded that Lewis missing that start contributed to them missing the playoffs—I’ll be pissed.”
All of which makes me think that Richie Whitt must be a very special kind of fucking idiot.
We all say stupid things. Hell, some of us make a living out of it. However, it’s only a matter of time before one is held accountable for said stupidity, and Whitt may want to start painting pictures with the humble brush while he is still on this side of a paycheck.
Granted, I’m not one to suggest a person should be punished for speaking their mind (or what passes for it), but to put the weight of a franchise, of a city, on the shoulders of father and his baby girl? That’s so incredibly ignorant that it borders on awesome. No, I’m not calling for his job, or even a boycott of whatever dribble it is that he gets paid to publish, but I would like everyone to point at him and laugh. Loudly.
Kids, don’t feed the buffoon.
We live at a crossroads in America, where stereotypes, gender roles, and all kinds of thought fueled with hate are being shattered and remolded for the better. Colby Lewis did what any decent man should do, make every possible attempt to be present for his family when they need him. It’s a no-brainer.
Therein lies the rub about crossroads, for every right decision or Ralph Macchio guitar solo, there is a devil or two hanging around waiting to knock you for it. It’s time to pay the devil his due.
I’m speaking metaphorically here.
Someday Colby Lewis is going to be an ex-baseball player, and he may regret certain errors or pitches, or be proud of this stat or that game. However, the best decision he will ever make in a Rangers uniform is already behind him. It won’t show up in the box score, and it won’t earn him any awards, but it is a far better mark of a man than any earned run average could ever hope to be.
Something tells me that Richie Whitt has no idea what I’m talking about.
UPDATED: Boomer Esiason issued a public apology to Murphy and his wife on the show this morning, and while it was the right thing to do I can’t help but wonder why he skirted the issue of men taking paternity leave. He acknowledged that he was wrong to bring the Murphy family into a public conversation, and that the March of Dimes had reiterated their mission statement about healthy pregnancies, but refrained from commenting on his stance. Still, it’s something like progress.
You’ll find it in the “Parenting” section of your local bookstore, but I’ve seen it listed as self-help and spiritual, too. Everything has a label, and my book is no different. After all, how do we know how to judge a thing unless we know the context upon which said thing is to be judged? We like to compare our words to our actions and contrast our thoughts against apples, oranges, and the next big thing. We are those that deem things worthy.
That being the case, I fear The Parents’ Phrase Book is on the wrong shelf. It isn’t a parenting book.
Yes, I said it. And yes, technically, it is a parenting book, in that it was created in hopes of helping parents communicate openly and effectively with their children, but I like to think that it is bigger than that. The Parents’ Phrase Book was written as a love letter to empathy and imagination, the comfort of self, the appreciation of others, and the wonder of wonder. It is about striving to be the best person that each of us could ever wish to be, to celebrate the differences between us and to make a difference when a difference is needed. It is an ode to love and ceaseless encouragement for ourselves, our children, and those around us.
Perhaps it aims too high and leans too far toward quixotic attempts and idealistic implementation; but if we are set on being better shouldn’t we reach for those aspirations that are hardest to reach, rather than settle for those already within our grasp? Shouldn’t we search for inspiration while always hoping to inspire?
I like to think so.
Which leads to the question, who am I to offer suggestions on parenting and life? What the hell do I know?
I know what not to do, the things I wish I did, and those I long to achieve. I know hope and regret, and the gray between. I know what I have done wrong, and I trust that sharing it will help people, myself included, avoid such mistakes, or at least provide some assurance that such mishaps may be overcome, learned from, and built upon. I know what makes me happy. That is why I have written this book, and that is why it is as open as only a book can be—let us be better to ourselves and more excellent to each other.
It’s like Wyld Stallyns, but with less Keanu.
The Parents’ Phrase Book is perfect for parents, but it is also great for non-parents and anyone else that has ever talked to another human being. It is for the future in the nicest way possible.
I wrote it for you, specifically.
Every street corner is more or less the same. They are the crossroads between where we are going and where we have been. The paths of others are layered across it. They are decorated in flowers, rocks, and fifty shades of concrete. There may be a light, a newspaper, or a marker-smudged sign with human hands upon it.
The signs are a barrier between those that hold them and those that fiddle with the radio in an attempt to avoid eye contact. Even the best of us find it hard to read every word, every time. It is hard to look into the face of need when we all need something.
The sign is a humble invitation to human contact between those that lack it and those that take it for granted. It is an opportunity for small moments of pity and respect, civility and kindness. A lot can happen at a red light.
We sat in the car with the windows down. It was a beautiful blue-skied day, and the breeze from the hills felt vaguely of the sea. It danced loosely across the salt of our thinly layered sweat, and it lingered soft and cool for a moment as if thinking about home. Then it carried on to woo the next in line, leaving memories and taking parts with it. A blink. A breath. A whisper.
We were leaving a store full of red shirts, value, and everything. Our bags were full and my wallet was empty. I had nothing in my pocket but a collection of plastic cards that owed more than I have and a balance that was anything but.
The breeze danced in my window, spun me around, tickled the nose of one boy, then the other, and flew out toward the man that stood there waiting. He smiled beneath a skin taught with sun and a layer of sweat much heavier than mine. His glance fell down, past the cardboard sign in his hands, to the grass beneath his feet and the child that sat quietly upon it. The breeze rolled from father to son and the smile went with it.
“Why is that boy there?” asked my youngest son from his spot in the backseat. His window was down, too, and his words were loud and carried on the wind.
The man kept his gaze to the ground and the boy looked at something important in the opposite direction. We were at a stop sign and there were no cars behind us.
My reaction in such situations, when a child’s innocence tends to jump from one side of a socially awkward bridge to the other, is usually alarm and quick words of quiet, something that surely embarrasses us both, but instead I took the man’s invitation.
To be clear, this isn’t meant to suggest that I am noble, doing the right thing, or any sort of action that merits acknowledgement beyond those involved, but rather a reminder about how much we all share and to suggest that we shouldn’t need signs that confound our attentions.
I could be that man. Any of us could. As it is I have been barely getting by for years—I went from making a very good living to making nothing, and now, thanks to a writing degree and access to the internet, I am making just enough to supplement my wife’s income so that we don’t go under. In fact, a few years ago we found ourselves having serious talks about what we feared was inevitable. We didn’t have many options, and we started to prepare for the worst. It scared the hell out of us.
The man on the street corner, the man that could have been me, was equal parts proud and humiliated as he leaned in the window that I am lucky to have, and answered:
“No, of course not. Change is very much appreciated.”
It was all I had and I gave him all of it.
“Why did you give that man money?” asked my oldest son from his spot in the backseat.
“Because he’s a daddy,” replied his brother.
The man’s eyes met mine, and one of us nodded and then the other. There was nothing left to say.
As we pulled away I watched the rear-view mirror and a fading street corner looking more or less like any other: a slab of concrete, a slice of shade, and a small, smiling boy held in the hands of a man where a sign used to be.