Family

The lies we tell, part 2


A better title for this post might actually be, “The lies we don’t tell.” Not long ago I wrote a bit about how I’m going to handle my bright, lovely, and inquisitive daughters and the questions they’re almost certainly going to ask one day about difficult topics. The original post is here, if you’d like to check it out.

The gent that commented, bless him, said basically this: be honest; appropriate to the point of their maturity and emotional ability. Good advice, right? It was this kind of thinking, coupled with the Graham essay I quoted in the post, that caused me to blink, shake my head a bit, then re-read a post titled, “Talking to children about evil.”

It’s by a wonderful and witty writer named Delia Lloyd; a journalist who currently lives in London and writes about adulthood, politics, family, and a host of other topics definitely worth reading. Check her out.

You can find the post I’m talking about here, but the first paragraph reads thus:

My daughter came home from school yesterday and told me that her best friend had a “hate list.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s a list of all the people in the world that she hates.”
“Don’t make one yourself,” I said quickly. “That’s not nice.”
“Yeah, but I only have one person on it,” she responded.
“I don’t care. You’ll hurt someone’s feelings.”
She looked up at me, wide-eyed. “But it’s Hitler.”

“But it’s Hitler.” What the hell do you say to that?

I won’t spoil her post, but I’m left with another point of view that’s both valid and worth consideration. It doesn’t conflict with Tim’s comment, necessarily, but it might provide a different definition of what’s “appropriate.”

What do you think? 

Image by John-Morgan

A query about pigskin. Kind of.

First, I should say that my father traveled all the way from PA and stayed with us this weekend. For reasons passing understanding he drove, but that’s a different conversation. It was actually a pretty nice visit. His trips typically include at least a few moments when we’ve rubbed each other the wrong way and temperatures rise. Blame it on genetics. Not so this weekend. Things went smoothly and we hung out, played with the kiddos, and enjoyed each other’s company.

So that didn’t suck.

While he was here I had the opportunity to do something I don’t often get – watch a little football with a guy. Don’t get me wrong, Sarah enjoys football just fine and she’s always down for kicking back and watching a game, but watching it with a another guy is, well, different. It was nice.

So my question: since Minnesota’s absolutely ridiculous loss to the Saints I keep thinking about Brett Favre, his last play of the season (as well as the look on his wife’s face one of the multiple times he was pounded into the ground) and continue to draw a blank.

So let me ask you: Does he come back next year?

Bonsai

This image found its way into my inbox under the title of, “a little something to inspire you.” I’ve been thinking about it off and on for the last couple of days and I keep coming back to a phrase I picked up in Japan years ago: Mono no aware. Loosely translated, it means ‘the sadness of the transience of things.’

In other words, things don’t last. 

The brief moments when all is still, music plays softly in the background, and you and your wife cuddle and chat on the couch. Or the bright, sweet smile of your new baby (you know, before they learn the word “no”). Or the taste of a perfectly prepared filet. Or a night out with friends that’s both easy and wonderful. Or whatever. The phrase above tells us that those lovely moments, even when they’re measured in days or weeks or years, will, at some point, trail behind you in the rearview.

Compare that with a conversation I had on Twitter recently that ended with my friend writing, “this too shall pass.” She was having a bad day where everything seemed to go just about as wrong as it could and the only thing she wanted to do was close the book on the day, go to bed, and start over the next morning.

But you have to wonder – how much energy and time and engagement are wasted or lost as we look ahead or behind instead of paying attention to the now? Note to self: kiss your wife, play with your kids, and don’t waste today. It’s not coming back.

image by zest-pk

The lies we tell

Rummaging around my bookmarks not long ago I found a little treat I’d set aside to read. It’s the homepage of a writer named Paul Graham and you could do worse than spend a bit of time reading his essays. One in particular, titled “Lies we tell kids,” dovetails nicely with the thinking I’ve done about the challenging, inevitable conversations I’ll be having with my daughters in the years to come. You know what I mean – the conversations where they’ll ask if I’ve ever smoked, experimented in other, let’s say less legal pastimes, and how I’m going to handle those questions.

I’ve pulled out one of the paragraphs from Mr. Graham’s essay below but you can find the entire piece here. Definitely worth your time. If you’re interested, I originally stumbled on his work from a list Inc. Magazine put together – 19 blogs you should bookmark right now – and you can find that here

For you parents who have already crossed that bridge, how did you handle it? Or, for those of you like me who are still on the front end, how do you think you will?

“Innocence is also open-mindedness. We want kids to be innocent so they can continue to learn. Paradoxical as it sounds, there are some kinds of knowledge that get in the way of other kinds of knowledge. If you’re going to learn that the world is a brutal place full of people trying to take advantage of one another, you’re better off learning it last. Otherwise you won’t bother learning much more.”

2010

A great writer named Chris Brogan provides, in one of his many, many posts about the topic, a list of ways to improve your blog. I’ll try to find the specific post I’m talking about shortly, but the list I’m referring to offers dozens of pointers on the subject and includes ideas like keep it short, use smart headlines/titles, link often, engage with your audience, and so on. The one that I’m thinking about right now actually goes something a little like this:

Stifle, with wild abandon, the urge to begin any post with, “I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while.”

Yeah, sorry about this, Chris.

So I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while. I can give you sound, reasonable explanations for my absence (a bizarre and somewhat ironic twist at work, surgery, the loss of a family member, the stress that inevitably goes hand-in-hand with the holidays, and on) but baseline is the fact that I just didn’t get here.

In fact, it’s quite possible that writing about some of those things above would have been helpful. As to whether or not they’d be interesting I couldn’t say. Regardless, it’s now a new year and one (of the many) things I’d like to do this year is post with a little more regularity. 

So, old friends, stay tuned. If there’s a topic you’d like to see addressed here don’t hesitate to let me know. For now, I’d like to know about the things you’re going to work on this year. What does 2010 have in store for you?

So pretty, so graceful. Right up until they tear a hole through your chest.

unicorn

I, like many in my generation, am a child of divorced parents.  They split for good the summer before my 5th grade, so I guess I was somewhere around 9 or 10 when they finally called it quits. My sister, Sarah Shay, was the ripe old age of 1. And out of that entire nasty business, one real, unexpected tragedy was that because I lived with our dad and Sarah lived with our mom, for many years ours was a relationship far closer to cousins than brother and sister.

That changed when she moved to Austin (awesome) but the the point is this: there weren’t a lot of fairies, ballet slippers, or tea parties growing up. Nor were there unicorns.

If you check the links to the right you’ll see, near the bottom, one titled Whatever. It’s a blog written by a gent named John Scalzi, and in addition to being just a great read, his blog also provides a platform for writers to introduce and talk about their books. Very cool. It’s called The Big Idea and you can find that particular section’s main page here.

Not long ago the featured book was about, you guessed it, unicorns. I’ve included the first paragraph of author Diana Peterfreund’s introduction below and after reading her big idea I’m definitely going to pick up a copy. You might want to do the same.

I feel sorry for unicorns. No other mythical monster has suffered such brand degradation. Nowadays, unicorns are synonymous with weak, childlike, unrealistic naivety. You don’t see folks dissing dragons the way they do unicorns. No one ever equates griffins with rainbows, glitter, and six year olds. The sphinx isn’t cheesy. But the unicorn? The symbol of kings, the darling of artists, the keeper of a magical horn whose rumored mystical properties once made it worth more than its weight in gold and almost drove a real species (the narwhal) to extinction? The unicorn has become laughable.

Photo by Snappa2006

 

Without words

This post has been deleted.

My apologies if this causes any confusion, but I promise you’re really not missing much. The short version is I’ve been having difficulty producing posts for this blog and I’m working on it. The meandering, hazy writing that was originally here was unable to convey that fairly simple thought.

So it goes.

I’m working on getting back into the swing of things, so until then I ask for your patience and to look for new posts in the very near future. As always, thank you kindly for coming by…