Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bitten By Christmas

I thought I was going to escape Christmas this year.

Silly, silly, silly man.

This morning I was optimistic...I thought that with only two days to go I could successfully elude Christmas and would not have to worry about December 25 until next year. But Christmas is a patient hunter and it always gets its prey. While I did look over my shoulder a few times, I really didn't feel Christmas was stalking me and that I could get away from Christmas without getting bitten...because you see...Christmas comes with teeth.

I had a few close calls. In November, while with my best friend in Boston's Downtown Crossing, I felt a bit of the holiday spirit breathing down on me...but I successfully avoided getting caught. And again, earlier this month, I successfully resisted getting pulled into the holiday doldrums by deciding that Christmas, like Hannakah, is a holiday celebrated by other people but not me. As I said...I am a silly, silly, silly man.

Christmas and I do not get along. We have had our moments to be sure but for the most part we fight and I almost always end up getting mauled and bitten. Christmas is a monster that cannot be tamed or pacified...and as I said Christmas comes with teeth. But this year would be different...I would escape.

On Monday my dear friend warned me that Christmas would hunt me down...I assured her that I would escape and live to tell the tale. But a horrific Tuesday and a shaky Wednesday wore me down, leaving me weak and unable to resist today's visit by the Christmas beast. I would like to tell you that I put up a great fight but I have to tell you that it was over before it really began...

So...there is no escaping the Christmas beast. The best that one in my position can do is arrive at a plan of defense...which after I see my kids...for me includes hiding behind a mound of reheated Thai food armed with a vodka martini. Hopefully these will allow me to fend off Christmas as best as I can...

Friday, December 10, 2010 we are

Everybody has to be be somewhere...and tonight I am here...writing. Its been almost two months since I last visited this place. While I have been writing elsewhere, I have spent much of the last two months unplugged, offline and disconnected...letting my Facebook profile lie dormant, going without cable TV, and allowing a bit of dust gather gather on my favorite blog.

That is not to say I have not been busy...I embarked on a project with my oldest son...I tried Tibetan food...I had the best fried clams in the world...fell in love with pumpkin soup...dipped my feet in the ocean in October...and I stood inside a stained glass globe.

I learned that you can make "milk" from almonds and water, that one can indeed go without steak for two months, that my 11 year old daughter is no longer a little girl and that my 11 year old son is still a little boy, and that molten plastic is very, very hot. I learned that Pokemon is still very big amongst the 6 to 8 year old set, that China Wok's Kung Pao Chicken is still very good, and I have a rediscovered appreciation for PBS.

I gave up a new career to return to an old one.

I also learned that the very best of times can stand alongside the very worst of times.

To be honest...I didn't mind at all this little sabbatical from things online as after all, the Internet is one of the greatest distractions yet devised by man and cable TV is...well...cable TV. I enjoyed exploring the world and bringing my discoveries back to my kids as they too...or at least my pumpkin soup and want to try Tibetan food.

So my Internet sabbath is we are...together again...and it looks like we will be here for a while.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Walking Wounded Dad

Playing with my kids is one of my favorite things about being a Dad...and recently when my kids come over we have gotten into the habit of playing basketball or bocce …and for the near future it looks like I will be playing more bocce than basketball…

Like most forty something year old men I think of myself as a fourteen year old who can drive and drink martinis (although not at the same time). We often forget that the needs and capacities of forty something year old bodies are different than those of a fourteen year old. However, nature has a way of reminding us that we are not fourteen…its called pain…excruciating, yell out loud pain…

My boys and I were playing basketball last week when nature reminded me that I am not fourteen. My boys and I have an ongoing game with Aidan and me are pitted against my oldest son, Oliver. These games are competitive affairs…however…Aidan and I are toast once Oliver figures out that we are really playing chess and not basketball.

So…back to the reminder that I am not fourteen…during what proved to be my last basketball game for a while…I passed the ball to Aidan on the wing and then moved to receive his return pass…Aidan threw the ball over Oliver’s outstretched arms, I caught it, moved to make a left handed layup, pushing off on my right leg as I did….and then I felt like I was shot in the leg…and as I landed in a heap I thought…so…I am not fourteen after all…

My boys helped me into the house and into my chair…meanwhile I was telling myself that I was way too young to need my boys help to get into a chair…For the next month or so I am going to be playing bocce with my kids after school…how do I know this? I have had this injury before…suffered last year…while playing wiffle ball.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As much as we wish this were not so...even the best of friends eventually part ways.

Last Friday I had to let my friend Joey go. I knew in March that we had turned a corner and were entering the home stretch of our run together. It was then when I promised him that when he was ready I would let him go. With this in mind, we had spent as much time as we could together. Sometimes he went with me to work or to run errands, but most of our time with each other was spent outside, sitting in the sun, and at night listening to the radio.

During the course of the summer my friend’s health continued to decline yet his puppy spirit continued to shine through, that is, until about a week and a half ago…when it was clear that it was time to let him go…he was ready for us to part ways.

Our last week together was a good one. I worked from home and as I did, Joey dozed at my feet, much as he had done for the last several years. My kids, knowing what was coming, paid more attention to him than usual…as for the first time they were about to lose someone whom they have known their entire lives.…Joey also received much love and support from many dear friends, old and new, who had shared in our journey.

My ex wife and I got Joey in 1995 from the Dedham Animal Rescue League. In those early days it was apparent that he was going to be a handful. While talking to her about Joey last week, she told me that she wanted to remember him as the out of control puppy she loved and who drove her crazy. I remember him, however, as an older dog who shared his life with me and who was my companion through good and through bad.

Thursday night I grilled a couple of steaks for us, served his on a plate, placed it next to him, and watched him devour an entire porterhouse in about three minutes. As he gnawed on the steak bone, I chatted with my dear friend who knew Joey well. A long time ago it she who gently told me that when the time came it really didn’t matter if I was ready to let him go… instead...I would need to let him go when he was ready.

Joey and I sat in the sun on our last morning together, ran a few errands, and then made one last stop at our favorite place. As we sat together on the Common, in the sun, as we did many times before. I thanked him for being my truest friend and for sharing his life with me. I told him that he was a good boy…

Finally…as he faded, I whispered to him our language’s saddest word….goodbye….

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Silent Places

This space has not seen much action this past month. Not because of anything out of the ordinary happened or because I have been otherwise preoccupied…but simply because given the choice between writing and silence I took the novel approach and chose silence.

People often feel the need to fill in silent places with some sort of chatter…bloggers are no different. There were any numbers of things about which I could have written these last few weeks…I simply didn’t. Instead…I chose silence.

If you think about it…it can be a challenge to keep the TV off, the radio silent, and to allow the iPod to quietly remain in its dock. It is even a greater challenge to convince your children to do the same…to convince them that wisdom can be found in the silent places.

I have learned the most from quiet people and from them I have learned that it is in the silent places, those spaces between the chatter and noise are where you can learn much and hear the most…all you need to do is listen.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Sunday morning, while heating up coffee in a frying pan, in my boxers, standing in my kitchen, at 6:15 in the morning, my phone rang....

It was my ex wife...

Sunday was not off to a good start...

I had realized the previous night that I had forgotten to pick up coffee at the local warehouse store and that if I wanted hot coffee the next day I would have to dip into my reserve of chilled coffee I keep in the fridge. Anyone who knows anything about coffee will tell you that hot coffee and iced coffee are two entirely coffee experiences and one cannot be substituted for the other.

So...inadequately caffeinated I was compelled to converse with my ex wife...

Ex Wife (who is already wide awake): "Hi Tom...can we borrow your tent?"

Tom: "grumble grumble...hmmmm...yeah..."

Ex Wife: "Thanks...when can you bring it over?"

Tom: "hmmmm...grumble...10:00?"

Ex Wife: "can you be over at 9:30...we are leaving at 10:00..thanks...bye..."

That exchanges such as these don't go well is usually my fault as I usually don't feel fully human until 11:30...but...I decided to keep my answers short thereby reducing the chances of verbal conflict...largely because my ex wife was leaving with out kids for a camping trip...

I arrived at the house at 9:45....handed her the tent...and my camera...and watched the four of them load the minivan as I held the kids' puppy by her leash...

The kids said their goodbyes...and off they went with their mom...with me...still standing in the front yard...holding the kids' puppy by her leash.

After buying coffee...I intend to fully enjoy my vacation...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Out For A Paddle

On his porch, last weekend, in one of the rare moments in the last twenty five years where we have been alone together, my brother asked me..."so...what do you do with yourself on the weekends?"

"I paddle" I told him.

I have a kayak...its 12 feet long, its fire engine red, and it represents the best $250.00 I have spent in a very, very long time.

Its not a toy however, and its not an indulgence.

My red kayak is my Prozac, my evening cocktail, my consolation, and my escape.

The elegant combination of water, boat, and paddle helps me effortlessly pass hours and to see myself and the world from a different perspective. And so far I like the view.