Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Actually Am A Super Fly Homeboy In The Oaktown

And I'm known as such. By a select few.

We're having a great time as we continue our California vacation. Our pre-moving trip trip. We're staying with Cathyjoel, though tonight we're meeting up with Aaron and Emma for an evening meal at Souley Vegan, which should be great. Cathyjoel are nice enough to watch the kids for a few hours, so we're taking advantage of it. Hopefully we'll have some great food to go with our conversation.

California is a fun place to be. It's such an alien land for those of us from the east. Spending time in Seattle has prepared me a little for the mindset, since so many Seattle people are former Californians. But where the Seattle casual is silent and judging, the California casual is carefree and fun. It's noisy and busy, too, which is a big change. I might get a little overwhelmed by California over time. It's been a blast so far, though.

I have put up a ton of pictures at my Picasa site. Check them out for kids and California fun! In the sun!

Monday, March 22, 2010

My In California

Hey all! I didn't stop this as quick as I expected, apparently. Well, we got an internet connection, so I figured I'd post about our wonderful beginning to our trip.

We left late, of course, and stayed near Portland, Oregon. We had a breakfast send off with Herc and Sarah. It was lovely, but we were so sad to leave them. They are our awesome and wonderful friends. Actually, all of our friends in Seattle will be sorely missed. We met some lovely people during our time.

We're in California now, visiting Aaron and Emma and Cathyjoel©. Also lovely and wonderful friends. Right now we're in Marin County. We had a big hike today. (Well, a little hike. But we're tired!) Tonight it's a relaxing dinner with Aaron and Emma, some repacking, and more visiting tomorrow. On Wednesday, we're off to Alameda, to see Cathyjoel©. So far we are having a great time, our friends are amazing, and we're tired. Astoundingly, the kids are being perfect. (So perfect, in fact, there is a present for Viri in his future. I hate to operate on a reward system, but that boy is being perfect.)

Hopefully I'll find time to post again during the trip. Hopefully I'll find our camera to have photos to post. (Oops.) Hopefully we'll continue to have a fantastic journey with our loved ones.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pack, Clean, Prepare

We're trying to get ready to leave on Friday. It's insane. Arkaedi is unpacking what we pack, things are getting broken, and I'm still working today and tomorrow. I really shouldn't be; I'd never have guessed that I am more sensible with money than time. In this case, I am. (When I moved to Japan I think I quit my job five months in advance.)

I've been debating what to do with this space during and after the move. It's tempting to try and keep updating, but I think the insane days of driving and camping and motels without wifi will make it prohibitively difficult. So, I'm going to take a break, another hiatus, this time for good reasons.

When we get to New York, and settle in, we'll start the blog anew. I'm hoping to have Jaime's website for her business up and running, which will allow me space to blog. This has been in essence a long practice run, giving me a forum to rant and ramble, and prepare myself for a more formal blog about parenting and teaching. I'll still post the occasional fun story, but there will be less "look what I found on the internet" and more well thought out articles on education and family. I'll try to not be too boring. (Though no promises.)

We're off to Ithaca on Friday. I have a feeling that most people who read this will see us on our travels. If not, hey, flag us down. We're always up for tea. Pretty will give you hugs and break your mug. "My cuteness supercedes my destructive capabilities in the minds of my admirers!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Book, The Music, And The Beverage

I'm in the middle of my annual re-read of the Lord of the Rings. This year, as I sometimes do, I'm including the Hobbit. The Hobbit doesn't have the epic scale of the Lord of the Rings, but in many ways it's my favorite book. It's sweet, and simple, and honest. It captures a wonderful aspect of Tolkien's writing, which is that important human things are lost as we embrace modern life. He says in the preface that he saw his world of rural England subsumed and replaced by trains and automobiles. In his typical honest fashion, he isn't lamenting the future or praising the past, but simply pointing out that things are changing, have changed, and wondering if anyone is thinking about what it means. It isn't anachronism; it's contemplation.

I love the writings of Tolkien. Paired with two other things, tea and jazz, I think I am a great hobbit. I'd certainly rather have cakes and tea than gold and adventure. And sometimes, a deep part of me longs to see the mountains and the sea. But I settle for tea and cakes. Maybe a cappuccino if I'm feeling wild. It's a good thing pipes are relatively uncommon, because I'd be sorely tempted to smoke. And Jaime would never allow that. (There's a reason Bilbo was single.)

I thought, when I was younger, that I was Frodo. Maybe my dad was Bilbo. But as I age, and reflect on the characters, I think I'm Bilbo, and dad is his father, Drogo. Taviri can take over the mantle and become the Frodo. He's got it in him to save the world. He isn't so enchanted with the simple pleasures of jazz and tea, and he doesn't seem the type to sit still. Perhaps it's a possibility, a potential. I found Jaime and became the Bilbo. I could have been Frodo, but for some different choices.

I sold a ton of my books and gave away a lot of music this week. I'm taking a few boxes back east with me, including my battered old Tolkien books I got from my dad. I'm loading up my ipod with jazz, and making some fun playlists. I'm packing our cooler with tea. The music, the hot tea, and the books will make the long days pass in comfort and pleasure. I'll sneak out when Jaime isn't looking and find the cakes. The pipe... well, the pipe I'll save for retirement.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Movin' On Up! Er, Across!

We're in the week of the move. It's strange. It seems unreal. I know we're packing, I look at apartments, I'm logically aware of the move. But as with many big changes, it won't seem real until we actually get on the road. And even then, it will be a vacation. Not a move.

When we moved to Seattle it was from Japan. That was even more surreal, and it was made more so by the fact that a moving company packed us up and shipped our stuff. We just flew to Tennessee and visited JoAnn and Becky. Then we drove across the country. This was before kids, and we didn't really plan anything. We just bought our little Echo, and drove.

The reality of the children necessitates more planning now. We can be flexible, but we cant just camp out when and where we feel like it, or eat nothing on a day. Oddly, and wonderfully, the only consistent element of this trip is that we're still getting help from JoAnn and Becky, and we're also visiting Aaron and Emma. If anything is going to stay consistent, I'm glad it's friends and family.

There is so much I'll miss about Seattle. But as our last week starts, I realize how excited I am for Ithaca. I'm ready to be in a new place. I'm excited to not be in a city, for once. Since Jaime picked Seattle, and we've stayed here seven years, I'm excited to get a chance to pick a place. (Actually, since it's been so long, I get to pick the next one too. She doesn't know that yet.)

We're not headed to an apartment in the sky. But it'll be wonderful to see a slightly different sky above us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gender And Strollers

All kids love strollers. They're one of the most sought after toys at the daycare. Boys and girls both love them. There is a difference, however, in how they're used. The girls put babies in them and stroll them around. The boys dump the babies out and fill the space with toys. I'm not sure what this says about innate gender differences, but it says something. I call it my PRC study. (Well, I didn't. I do now.)

Before I had kids, I would have never believed there is a natural inclination towards certain behavior in boys and girls. But watching kids over the years at the daycare I believe there is something to it. The PRC actually makes a good sample, since we have single moms, lesbian moms, stay at home dads, and all kinds of in between. Some of the dads are boisterous football players, some are silent and gentle. It's part of what makes the job great. We have a diverse group, from different countries and different backgrounds. But every boy dumps out the stroller, and every girl puts a baby in it and pushes it around.

There is probably a case to be made for different explanations. Maybe the kids copy who they see looks like them. But that doesn't work perfectly: why does the stocky dark skinned girl identify with the tiny blonde above a stocky dark skinned boy? Gender means something to the little ones. I don't know why, or how. But they know, or at least are acting upon, something within themselves. It's interesting.

One of the most bizarre and pervasive divides I have seen since returning to the U.S. is the pathologically individualist side, where the ego reigns and everything is about individual expression, and the monotonous, "everyone is special" politically correct engine. It's fascinating, and both sides take the argument very seriously. Most individualists, ironically, would argue that boys are boys and girls are girls. Most of the p.c. crowd argues against any innate gender differences, that boys and girls are blank slates that we impose a political will upon. It's a cross-over, a revolt against the party line in a funny and weird way. I wonder if it could signal a positive approach; a possibility of dialogue.

I think the country is in real trouble. It's bigger than if we are naturally inclined to push babies or machines. But the inability to discuss gender and politics and health care all lead to the death of a nation if we are so convinced we know everything that we can't communicate. I think it starts with watching, and listening. It begins when I can clearly explain that I see the boys pushing toys, and the girls strolling babies. And get an audience instead of a lecture.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Crazy!

Arkaedi Sue has catapulted into the terrible two Hall of Fame this week. She has thrown water, pooped on the floor, and made our frequent trips to Wayward a challenge in Pretty management. Today she ran around and made trouble, then went to the zoo with our good friends Tiffany and Wade. They said she was perfect. So the craziness is just for me.

This morning she came screeching into my room, "Papa sleeping!" He was, Pretty Sue. Now he isn't. Later was the floor pooping incident, which I admit was partly my fault. She came to the door while I was getting out of the shower, and said "My poopy!" as she frequently does. Well, I didn't move fast enough, and she took off her pull up and pooped on the floor. My poopy indeed.

She always is intense. She always screams. Sometimes, like now, she is asleep. I imagine her in the future, though, using this intensity to her advantage. She'll be in her thirties when the genetically altered supermen like Khan take over. She can be a fighter pilot. Her dialogue alone will make it worth all the trouble. Plus, she'll destroy Khan before he has a chance to bother Kirk and crew.

"No, Khan! You bad! My nice! Fire!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Perfect Baseball Blessing

I had hoped to visit the Albuqurque Isotopes while I was on the road. We'll be driving right through there, and I figured it'd be a nice stop for a day, we could get a motel, and have a short driving day. I checked online, and realized the Isotopes where not in town. I was bummed. Until I noticed a little asterisk next to the schedule. There was a game on April 3rd, but it wasn't the beloved minor league team named for the Simpsons episode; it was my Seattle Mariners! Playing a spring training game! In the one place this year I'll be able to see them! Perfection! (Ironically, the first Isotopes episode featured Ken Griffey Jr., now back with the Mariners. So I'll get to see him.)

There have been a lot of serendipitous aspects of this move back east. Some are more important to our overall well being. But none made me happier than to realize I'll get to see the Mariners at least once this season. If they go on to have a wonderful season, I can have the satisfaction of knowing I saw the beginning. If not, then, well, I still had a good day in April in New Mexico watching baseball. If baseball is blessing my move back east, then it must be a good idea.

We may also hit some more minor league games while we're traveling. I love minor league baseball. There is something so pure about the game. The stadiums are small, the players are not paid much more than normal people. There is a speed to the game, uninterrupted by jumbotrons and grounds crews. I hope to see the Nashville Sounds, and the Oklahoma Redbirds. I'm planning on taking my son and my dad down to see the West Virginia Power. (Great name. Sounds like a wrestling move.)

The one benefit of Ithaca is its proximity to great minor league teams. The Syracuse Chiefs and Binghamton Mets can be seen with easy day trips. I'll try and make lots of trips this summer to see games. I'm looking forward to the minor league baseball season. Even more so now that I get one chance to see the Mariners in 2010. Even if I end up buying an Isotopes souvenir.

Friday, March 5, 2010

King 5 Does A Mighty-O Story

The fun thing is, we were there! They didn't use the footage of us, but we were there as they shot the story.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Music Supreme

I used to be a big fan of jazz. I listened to jazz most every day, I owned some nice vinyl, I knew tons about jazz from 1939-1960. Then, I slowed down. I listened less and less, sold some of my records and cds. I eventually stopped listening to music in general, barring the occasional car trip or interesting song I'd choose to plug into my ipod. I'm not sure exactly why, though I suspect a busy schedule and kids made enjoyment of sound a problem. Children are noisy, and I imagine I wanted quiet. Or maybe I got bored with my choices. Either way, I stopped. Recently I unearthed some of my digital music files I'd stashed away, including some of my jazz. I only kept the greatest hits, like Coltrane and Charlie Parker. Some Mingus made it to the computer.

Oh, I didn't know what I was missing. It's heaven. Perfect music. I realize why I fell in love with it in the first place. Unlike my other musical interests, there isn't a narrative. No story, just intensity. I'll always have a soft spot for bluegrass, or country, or early punk rock. It's fun. But jazz is music. It's analogous to the feeling I get when I compare baseball to other sports. I love other sports. I enjoy watching them with friends, and cheering for different teams. But baseball is the game, it is powerful in a way that others don't approach.

I wish I understood exactly why I drifted away. Maybe it was a necessary change, a chance to better understand why I loved it. I'm almost glad I did, in a way. It gave me the opportunity to jump back in and see what is so amazing about it. Now I need to run around to used music stores and gather up my old favorites. I can no longer live in a world where Sketches of Spain and Blue Train aren't available at the click of a button. That'd be as bad as not knowing Ichiro's single season hits record.