Our Boy’s Day

img_2836I didn’t really appreciate a clean house until I had kids. Before they came around I kept things pretty well in order. The rotting vegetables in the fridge were rare and spotted early. The floors and surfaces were always clear, though I will admit, corners were, well, utilized I guess would be the right word.

After we had kids all that took a back seat. We are catching up and have a house you could walk into without causing us great embarrassment about 4 or 5 nights a week. We both work full time and don’t have the spare cash to pay for people to clean. So when my wife asked if I’d like to take the guys out for a few hours this past Saturday so she could do a ‘full clean’ I jumped on the opportunity.

It was a super hot and steamy morning and I lured them out to the car with a promise of driving to the playground. Now a playground offer has a 90% plus hit rate with my boys. They love a playground. But when it’s a playground we have to drive to there is no stopping them as they hurtle out the door and hustle into their seats. Today was no exception. There was a brief moment of curious concern when I started the car and mommy wasn’t in it. ‘Where’s mommy?’ Teddy asked. ‘She’s staying home to clean. We’re having a boys day!’

We tend to travel as a pack on weekends. It’s a cool stage of life, right now. For all it’s inefficiency the fact that we do everything together is cool. I’m still able to get some quiet time at night and we get as much cleaning done day to day as our energy will allow us after we’ve gotten them to sleep for the night. This boys day was a departure from the norm. A notable one.

The park was fun and dangerous and exciting. Evidence of the differing nature of ‘boys day’ came early.

‘Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom.’ Charlie said.

I scanned the perimeter. No bathrooms in sight. There was a treeline, though. Hm…

‘Okay, buddy. We’re going to the woods. Teddy!’

So off we trekked to learn a key skill of boyhood, how to effectively and respectively relieve oneself in nature. I would never have guessed this, but it felt fatherly to be in the woods with the boys, making sure they were out of sight from the other kids and parents. Making sure that they were off the trail sufficiently and coaching them on how to position themselves so they had the best cover. Also, walking back it felt like we were the cool kids. The rebels.

It really was the biggest of big playgrounds and there was plenty of fun and exploring to do. But the day had to move on and we had to run an errand. We were heading to the mall to get a replacement line for the weed-eater because there was supposedly a good deal at Sears. Not the type of thing we’d make a special trip for typically, but we were giving mom all the time she needed to clean and it was the mall with the indoor playground so it was enticing all on it’s own.

There is no greater place to entertain to little boys then in the section of Sears where we looked for and failed to find the weed-eater line replacement. It was heaven. They were climbing on and pretend driving the ride on mowers, hiding in and around the sheds for sale. Teddy actually stopped at the push mower, the kind with no motor, and gasped, ‘So cool!’ Mind you, he had no idea the utility of the thing. He just knew he wanted to play with it. It was actually harder to get them out of there than it was to get them off the playground.

Thankfully, the ‘indoor playground’ has taken up a spot in there imagination over the years that has magnified it’s scale way out of proportion. I get it. I remember the excitement of coming across a McDonald’s with a playground on vacations when I was young. It’s so much fun to get caught up in these small extravagances with these guys. Excitement may be fleeting but it has yet to become something they control. When something, anything, hits them as exciting they burst and beam and giggle.

img_2842It’s a great thing this indoor play station. A chance to sit and let them roam free. Increasingly the generation so many lament who spend all day looking at their phones and seeming disengaged are the ones having kids and this little respite in their day, a chance to scroll and to check in with the world they miss is as exciting for them (us!) is pretty exciting for them to.

Before too long we were off. Turned out that no one could assure us that there wasn’t soy or sesame or peanuts or tree nuts in any of the mall food so our attempts to grab lunch failed. So we went where the ‘food’ was safe for my guys. While the disappointment of not being able to get a doughnut (soy) was real, it being replaced by a trip to the candy shop was more than enough to compensate. That’s how we ended up with two bags of cotton candy. The little one doesn’t even like cotton candy. No bother, he just wanted to have the chance to hold the same big bag his brother had.

So the day was over and we were headed back to our clean home and some fun times with mommy. The clouds had appeared and we weren’t upset to spend the afternoon watching movies.

Boys days won’t last forever and they don’t honestly come around enough. But the truth is that I can’t get enough of them. Won’t get enough of them. Ever.

This Past Sunday, Afloat in our Bubble

I cleaned out the fridge this morning. I’d like to say it was an easy task as it’s something we stay on top of, as one should, and I didn’t at all remove a cucumber that had decayed into a soft husk of bursting pus that made me screech like a woman in a 1940’s domestic stage play frightened by a mouse that scurried across her kitchen floor. I’d like to say that.

Keeping our house clean is a ways off, but we’re getting better every year. We moved in to our little house, our lovely little house with  the beautiful back yard and the elementary school and ball fields across the street when our youngest was just a few weeks old. Our big boy wasn’t yet two and we were in what’s referred to in the parenting manuals as the ‘hot mess’ stage of the transition from newborn to whatever comes next. Recently born, I suppose. That day was magical despite how incredibly taxing it was. We were in a house. After decades of apartment living we’d managed to get into a house. An adorable little house on a picturesque street in a small town with great schools. As far off into the future as we could see this little house would be the perfect place to live.

We’d tried to pack for weeks, but the little one and the toddler at home made it a challenge. We did pretty good, but we paid the movers to do a bunch of it for us. We didn’t have the money, but let’s face it, we’d just sunk our next thirty years into a very cute home that we didn’t realize was so cozy (small) having lived only in apartments to that point.

Here we were, overwhelmed, overjoyed and overexcited with a newborn and an almost 2 year old moving into our first home on a gorgeous day in mid December. On an average day with our kids it would have taken a lot to get through to us, to knock us sideways from what we were enmeshed in, but on this day, the day we are moving to our family home, no chance.

It was December 14th, 2012. The day a man walked into an elementary school a couple hours away from us and murdered 20 six and seven year olds and several of their teachers.


This past Sunday in the midst of our family morning we remained detached from the world at large and somehow didn’t know that another terrible thing that haunts your thoughts and never leaves your hearts had happened. There was no disturbance in the force field we’d built around this home, one that is wholly in our minds and unshakeable in so far as we can never imagine something senseless and tragic and angry and violent ever happening here. Then I ran out to run some errands, buy some fruits and veggies, pick up some mulch to beautify our little slice of heaven we love so much and I turned on the radio and I learned what had so tragically happened in Orlando. I felt nothing other than sorrow. For the people, their families and for us. All of us.

I suppose it’s our turn. Our turn to say that the world, this beautiful blue marble where cosmic coincidence has resulted in a wondrous and vibrant diversity and richness of life, a magical reality unique in the cosmos, is going to hell in a hand basket. To claim with certainty that we know the path we are on is unique in human history and march defeatedly into a future of bleak, stark destruction of all that had been so wonderful so recently. Before we came along and fucked it all up.

I feel like we are on the edge of a cliff when I’m feeling optimistic. Most of the time I feel like we are in the fall, hurdling to a life ending thud that will spell ruination not just for us but for all those that will come after. The anxiety and fear that courses through the world at this time is so overwhelming that it makes it’s way inside. It is so pervasive, so insidious that it permeates even our personal boundaries, even our skin. On days like today it hits us in the gut and punches our hearts and feels like it’s growing in strength and we, shrinking.

How much of this is being 42. Do wild eyed 23 year olds see the brighter future? I’ve worked with so many of them, since I was one, and I know they are out there, doing far more than I ever did or could to make the world better. Undeterred by all our hand wringing inaction. Is it just that now, now that I’m a dad, do I not identify as much with the victims of these crimes and instead identify more with the parents of those victims? I might. Parenthood has made me so much more capable of empathy when it comes to other parents and to kids. The fact is I see those victims, some of whom were older than me, but most were younger, much younger, and my heart breaks for how they spent their final moments, ripped from love and joy and exuberant expressions of it and destroyed by anger that was based on fear, so far as I can tell.

Whatever it is that makes me feel it,  whether it’s the same feeling  my parents might have had when they thought it was all going sideways 20 or 30 years ago or when their parents harbored feelings that the world had lost it’s way a generation before that and so on and so on or whether it really is true, it’s hard for me to shake the unease I feel about this world and what it seems is happening to it.


Sunday morning while the world reacted and I cleaned out the filth that had somehow been allowed to fester undetected and undeterred from the back of the fridge something beautiful happened. I saw Karen and Charlie snuggling and talking while laying on the trampoline in the sun. Charlie, the boy who was not even two when we moved here is now five and for twenty minutes he layed in the trampoline, cuddling up to his mommy talking about his friends and his world. Trying to figure out if they could live in the trampoline. Whether they would need a fridge and where they would put it. I was so delighted that I was able to sneak up on them and get some pictures.

As much as I fear everything that’s happening these days, and I truly do, I also see many many people doing wonderful things to help other people. It so surrounds us that we don’t even notice it anymore. If you pick your head up and really look for it there is so much good in us, so much kindness being exercised in great and small ways everyday.

For now we can’t avoid the painful reality. Nor should we. As sad as it is that this national, global mourning we engage in is becoming ritualized, it doesn’t mean we should ever, ever let it slip past. No. We must mourn together to heal as much as we can, to show communal and human love and compassion for those who will never be able to move on from this day of tragedy or the many that have come before or the ones that seem will inevitably come in the months and years ahead.

When we are done living and breathing this tragedy, when life goes back to everyday sameness I know I’ll never stop appreciating those moments. The ones we’ll look back on in thirty years when we will be empty nesters missing the kids who could never ever visit enough to make us satisfied, when we look back at this time and are able to remember when the world couldn’t reach us, when we constructed fantastical worlds with the imagination and freedom of five year old little boys hoping to live the rest of their days cuddling with mom on the trampoline while daddy was cleaning the fridge.

Hello. Everythingisokay.

  I don’t think there’s a lot that could make me feel anything short of insanely lucky. My life is great. I have nothing to complain about and as a result I tend not to complain. But to say that life is an unending bowl of cherries, filled with joy and devoid of pain, lapping up happiness and shutting out fear and anxiety would also be untrue. 

My default position is of gratitude. I am thankful for all that’s been granted me.

I’m getting older. I’m not getting old, don’t mistake me. I’m just, you know, getting older. You are too. We all are and have always been. As I get older perspective evolves and I see things I never noticed before. My responses aren’t as quick as they once were, but they’re considerably better informed. I usually benefit from this. You could say I’m in a sweet spot where the benefits of maturing are still outrunning the detriment of decaying. I’m 42.

I’m incredibly thankful to have my young kids at this fairly advanced age for such an endeavour. The challenges are largely physical, if you discount the emotional and financial. My five year old, delightfully, falls asleep in our bed each night. It’s warm and wonderful and something we all love. I am starting to think, however, that he is becoming strategic in his placement atop our king sized bed in hopes of defeating me, getting me to throw up my hands in a moment of surrender and allow him to stay. I’m 6’2″ and 225 and strong and still I dread trying to lift his dead weight, sound asleep, 4 foot even, 56 pound body off the middle of that massive bed. But I do it, because I know the 3 year old is right behind him ready to awake to take up the one free space in our bed come sometime after midnight. 

These are things you don’t necesarrily see coming. There are a ton of others. But rarely are we warned of them and even if we are, we’re not really going to understand until we’re going through it. I solemnly swear, right here, out loud and in public, I will NEVER tell a parent of a newborn that it’s just as hard now. It’s not. Newborns, especially the first one, the one that teaches you everything in a nonstop round the clock barrage of ‘teachable moments’ what it means to be a parent, are life blower uppers. I fully believe that teenagers are as well. As for the rest, don’t believe those bitter, forgetful, wretched souls who try to convince you that they are as hard as 5 year olds. They aren’t. Not by a thousand miles. 

There are other things you learn along the way, about what life becomes. Again, I’m 42 and maybe some people have told me this before and I just wasn’t in a place to understand them. Maybe it’s too scary a thought to process, so you don’t. Maybe you’ve processed this long before I’ve had to as not everyone has the great good fortune that I so thankfully have had. 

I spend portions of everyday fearing that the phone will ring and the world will dissolve around me as I’m told that one or the other or both of my parents have died. My mom knows I suspect as we’ve had a couple of scares and, while nothing’s ever been said, perhaps she hears a fear I’m trying to hide in the way I say ‘hello’, that makes her hasten to say ‘hello,thisismomeverythingisokay.’ 

‘Hello. This is mom. Everything is okay.’ I have a family now and I understand, at least intellectually, how this all fits and works together, this whole circle of life thing. Until recently, last five and change years, to be exact, I’ve come off the stance of thinking to myself, I’d trade everything, including my own life, the own rest of my days, to make sure that is the last thing I hear before leaving this world. On speakerphone, knowing my dad is there listening and waiting to hear the latest stories of the boys successes, excited to tell me about an article he saw with awesome things my friends are doing in the community or them waiting to tell me about an author they think I’ll like or about the party they had the other night with some of the kids to say farewell to their grandson as he headed off for his Jack Kerouac/On The Road adventures. 

I don’t know that others feel this when the phone rings and they see it is their parents. Surely some are understanding of the whole thing and appreciative of hearing from mom and/or dad, as I most certainly am as well. Surely others in a similar situation are merely avoiding, imagining the whole thing impossible, choosing rather to continue to see their parents as the undefeatable, indefatigable pillars they’ve always known them to be, the way they still are, pushing off all thought of the matter until it is upon them. Sounds like a better way to me. Unfortunately I have a temperament that doesn’t allow for such ease of thinking. I can’t stop imagining. It’s a wonderful quality in so many circumstances, truly. But in this stage of life, for me, it’s impossible to put it fully out of mind. 

For me it’s like knowing the earth is going to stop turning on it’s axis and all life will cease to have meaning at some time in my future, in my lifetime, but I can’t know when. It’s just there. Waiting to catch me and remove the ground from beneath my feet. It’s going to hit my chest, hard. Iknow it will. I saw it happen to them. I saw there world crumble. I saw them cry and cry and not know what to do. It only lasted a few moments because they had to take care of me. I was just little after all, as were my brothers and sisters to greater and lesser degrees. But it showed up again as they had to go through the ceremonies and the condolences and the quiet nights alone when they might not have known I was still up and might be coming down to watch tv or grab a drink. Maybe I was exactly what they needed in that moment. I can’t imagine anything less than my own kids being the salvation that will keep me alive after the bomb lands on me. 

I’m fortunate. I’m in a position where I’ve never had to confront an issue so many I love have. My life is one of gratitude and as a child of my parents I’m sure I’ll make it to the finish line, my own finish line, one that will be hopefully at the end of a long and fruitful life as grateful as I am today. But by the time I get there I know I will have passed through times that will test that and I hope I can sustain the weight of all the good fortune I’ll have endured. 

I Don’t Want to Let Go

imageTeddy still babbles. He’ll sit with the Lego Duplo’s and play by himself and there is a stream of playful and emotive gibberish. He has started to use words and and pretend and play make believe with his creations and the figurines, but if I listen in the right way, if I’m able to listen loosely I can still hear the patter of the 2 year old he was.

Being a parent is a lot. Early on we weren’t up to the task. Seriously. We are excellent, loving parents. Any kid, and I mean any kid at all would be lucky to have us. But the truth is that as excellent as we are as parents, we just aren’t very good at it. We don’t revert naturally to routine. We don’t always provide excellent examples and we are just terrible at doing so many of the things that we are ‘supposed’ to do.

Our house is a mess and while it’s better than it was, it’s never gonna be an ordered and soothing environment. I like to think that has to do with our artistic bent, that our clutter and struggle to eliminate is an element of us that is strongly informed by our connectedness and the meaning we see all around us. Meaning that I turn into stories.

imageWe don’t sleep train. We shouldn’t have to at this point, frankly. Our kids are well past the age when that should not be a thing that needs doing. I’m afraid that if our kids are ever to get themselves to bed, it’s gonna happen on it’s own. For now we each take one and we snuggle and struggle and ultimately find them asleep sometime within a couple hours of getting them up the stairs and into their rooms. In my case, with the three year old it is sometimes in the chair after losing the fight of getting him to calm down in his bed. Other times it is both of us on the floor looking up at the green stars on the ceiling that emanate from Winnie’s honey pot when you press the bee. Sometimes we find the moon, other times we find the one constellation, an outline of Mickey Mouse’s head. Yep, Disney even invades their sleep. Still other times it’s on the ‘big boy bed’ the five year old will be moved to once I am able to solve this endlessly flummoxing Rubik’s Cube of a task that I am told should never have been allowed to get to this point. In my moments of confidence, a wonderful if fleeting thing when it comes to my life as a dad, I like to think that whatever we’re losing by not giving them normalized sleep routines is more than made up for by the love and feeling of security we’re giving them by never leaving.

imageWe are inconsistent practitioners of reward systems, a crime doubly indictable as I’ve been designing and implementing such programs for much of my 20+ year career. We don’t practice anything approaching appropriate self-care. The clothes are piled up, usually separated into piles that require sniff tests to determine whether they are clean or dirty. We take them into our bed and let them stay the night. Every time. We are wonderful parents to have as we never fail to give love. But we are just not very good at the component skills.

I’m not complaining. Well, not much. Now that our lives are this way I can honestly say there’s very little I would change. Perhaps I’d employ more consistent rewards or maybe I’d have a few more date nights. I’d certainly have a neater pile of clutter, that’s for sure. Okay, there’s a lot I’d change.

But I won’t, because at this point, this is who we are. We are fumbling through this thing together, imperfect as hell. I’m not saying we refuse to grow or we won’t change. We’re changing all the time, growing all the time. We’re just doing it together. At this point that means we’re messy, tired, together and happy.

imageI don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to hear through the coherent play and listen to the babbling that is working it’s way fully out of my son’s mouth. Truth is I might already have heard the last of it. That’s the thing. Nothing we do is going to stop them from growing up. Nothing I do will keep us from watching life slip ever past. The older they get and the older we get the more clear it becomes that none of it is forever. None of it lasts like I’d like it to.

It kills me to think that I’m ever going to step out, I’m ever going to be finished. With loving and watching and helping and messing up with my kids. That I’m ever going to walk away from my wife who I’ll never see again or that she’ll have to walk away from me. I don’t want any of this to change because for the first time since I was too young to understand the implications of it, I don’t want to ever die.

I want to live forever and never say goodbye. Never grow old. Never die. I want to live this life I have for a million lifetimes. Not some version of it, not some other life, but this one. Mine. With the same pains and the same joys. Now everyday that goes by where I don’t hear my boy babble, like the ones that came before he uttered a sound and relied on us for his every aspect of existence, every tiny change that moves some aspect of their lives to the past is a process. One of letting go. That is how we think of it.

I often think that parenthood is the first time it’s highlighted for you that so much of life is the process of constantly letting go. It is, but it also isn’t. It gives me some agency, some power, some sense that this is my choice. To let go. To slowly choose to hand away life one tiny handful at a time, knowing that at the end the last thing I’ll let go of will be life itself. It’s inevitable. It’ll be all I have left to hand over.

imageThat’s not how it is though, is it? I don’t want to let any of it pass. I want to live equally in the moments where I was three, sitting on my momma’s lap playing with her long hair that flowed out of her ’70’s style bandana, staring at the wooden cross hanging from a leather strap around her neck. I want to spend eternity smiling at the brown lunch bag my father drew pictures on just for me. I want to fall in love for the first time at 12 years old and play act what I thought it meant to lose it all. I want to feel lean and limber and strong and beautiful as I dance with a basketball unafraid of anyone who might wish to stop me. I want to be brash and cocky and altogether terrified on my first day of college and I want the world to open up to me at camp as I found what it was I’d do the rest of my life. I want to meet my wife, sit on those bar stools forever. Falling in love and diving into the unknown. I want to have my kids, meet them for the first time, and I want to watch them grow and marvel at the spectacle. I want all of this to be held. Why would I ever let go of this?

The answer is obvious. We ‘let go’ because we have no choice. Because we can’t choose to hold on. That being said, I want to get as much of this as I can. I want to watch my boy play on the floor with not a care in the world but what the little elephant on the back of his train that he built from Lego’s and imagination is going to do next. Forever.



My Drinking Life

  I love getting drunk. I love being drunk. I miss it.

I love the first beautiful sip. The factory whistle of my soul telling me my obligations are done for today and it’s time to play. I love the giddy inebriation of that first drink going down in minutes followed ever so joyously and abundantly by a line of soldiers willing to die just for me. I love the feeling when I know I’m a little light headed and I don’t want it to ever go away. I love it so much. So much.

I’ve been drinking for 30 years now and I know that it’s not ‘right’ to say it, but I’ve loved a lot of it. I’ve loved it so much that I can even miss and love the awful parts of it. 

I don’t really drink anymore. I drink, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t ‘really’ drink anymore. Two’s my cap now. Has to be. There’s too much I have to do and the body doesn’t absorb my indulgence the way it once did. My recovery time took a serious dive around the turn of the century and has bottomed out by now. If I ever lost my head and went at it with the hedonistic gusto I did in my teens and twenties, or the rigorous grinding it out style I adopted as a wily veteran in my thirties, lord knows how long I’d be laid up. At least a week and I’d be gun shy for at least 3-5 days. I know the math doesn’t really work out on that one but I’d offer that you’re looking at it wrong. 

I marked who I was as much by what I was drinking. As who I was drinking with. I used to be a committed beer guy but the cells morph and your tastes and cravings change. I still always have beer in the house, but a six pack, a starter pack for me in the days I was really drinking, now lingers for a minimum of a week and that’s with another grown up in the house having one or two of them. No, the glory days have passed.

I still know what I like and I indulge it once or twice a year. I like whiskey now. Started with scotch, but now it’s any. I’ll get a bottle for my birthday and one for Christmas perhaps, or in celebration of something momentous; a new job, some new, big writing goal achieved or maybe I just feel like it. Happens two or three times a year and I wait until the house is quiet and I’m the only one awake. I get the lighting to my liking and I sink into my spot and I drink. I still have the propensity after decades of chugging beer to drink it too fast, which is always alright by me. My wife knows I still got whiskey left if I’m snoring. Whiskey puts me to bed like a baby. Like a giant, blissful, soulful baby. 

I miss meeting my best friend at the park across the street from my house over stolen beers. 

‘Hey, you know Chris?’ A friend asked.

‘Nope. Hey man, how are you.’ I said.

‘Give him a beer.’ Said friend.

‘You want one.’

‘Yeah.’ Said Chris. 

He was a freshman and I was still in 8th grade, but we made it work. Made it work for a lifetime. That said it’s been well over a year, maybe two since we’ve been in touch. That’s me. It’s not him. He has always been the better friend. Not to mention better at making and way better at maintaining friends. He’ll be my best friend, outside of my marriage, for the rest of my life. I have no doubt. I miss him and I hope to see him again. I mean I know I will, I just don’t have any idea when. 

I miss the drunken sneaking of teenagers in middle America. Honestly, in memories it was a movie. Boys in cars drinking on the sides of country roads surrounded by corn fields in the light of the moon, smiling and laughing and having the strangest and most unexpected conversations. Myself and Kenny telling a random stranger about our imaginary exploits on very real athletic fields we’d only ever see on TV. Fights and laughs and girls and boys, drinking our GL’s and as free as we’d ever be.

I miss Driving around in beaters visiting responsibilities we couldn’t yet live up to and talking openly about how we couldn’t sustain or maintain friendships when one had everything and one couldn’t come along for that ride. I remember my friend E. Telling me I was gonna be a writer someday. We talked like that, over 40’s of OE, sitting in parking lots and learning to be men. I had read a couple books and I wanted to write one. But he was the only guy I’d really talk about it with. At some point the Newport smoke would fill the cap of the beat up old 70’s mustang with rusted out floors replaced by plywood and we would talk for hours. We had different histories and the future was threatening to end these nights. This wouldn’t be the last but he told me, he said I’d be a writer. Just knew I would be. Told me to write about this, about us. I miss that. 

I miss the drunken nights of college life, when the world became bigger and smaller all at once. I didn’t love it there, not at all. But I sure had a hell of a lot of laughs. I was starting to feel the difference between how I felt and how I looked and how the latter dictated how people viewed me. I was ocassionally angry drunk. It was a thing that I’d seen with my high school friends, but I didn’t really get it. But I got it in college. It mostly turned to depressive drunk, but there’s no better place for that transition. Always surrounded by friends and everyone always ready for that novel suggestion of grabbing beers when it would be proposed every evening after dinner. It’s a fun and friendly place to disappear and I did. So many of the people I met there I couldn’t really be vulnerable in front of. I wasn’t ready yet to show myself, but they weren’t either for the most part, so that was fine. 

I miss drunken benders with the cast and crew of my personal attempt to save the world. I miss the stories we told and heard at Cheer’s in Tannersville, the counselor’s bar where we’d go to blow off the steam that had resulted from our boiling, youthful exuberance. Fed by hormones and that energy we knew would never leave us. We’d work 18 hour days filled with emotional turmoil, endless toil, broken backs and tireless love and want nothing more than to go to town and relive the day we’d just finished all night. Or until the last van before curfew could get us back up the mountain in time to sleep it off before starting it all over the next day. 

I miss the dark and lonely weeks I spent in the camp I loved, slowly losing light as the summer turned to winter and the drinking turned therapeutic. Sitting in my quiet cabin, in the abandoned camp watching the same VHS tapes over and over with a can of lemonade and a bottle of whatever was cheapest. Finishing both of an evening, wrapping myself in the warmth of the sadness that accompanied me retreating to the woods. I miss the silence and even the sadness. They were the only weight that cloud properly counter the ebullience of those summers.

I miss moving to New York City and drinking with a million others every night, every free moment. I miss making a life with roommates. Finding ways to laugh and laughing at ourselves and realizing how foolish we’d been to think so highly of the adults we’d known. Finding out the world had changed and having drinks to honor the dead and to loosen up our minds and lubricate our thoughts to try to make sense of the senseless happening on a scale that had only ever existed in the faraway other. I miss my friend and roommate deciding that we needed to set up the table, order falafel and gyro’s and grape leaves and drink wine and talk because there was nothing else to do but talk about the world and how it was changed. Forever. 

I miss the lonely life on the treadmill, working all day, going to the gym sweating out the previous nights drunken overindulgence as a form of penance only to get it all out and know I’d earned my evenings drinks. I miss getting the cycle interrupted when a few texts would come in a a bunch of folks would be at St. Mark’s tonight. You coming. Let me check. Yes. I’ll be there. And I’ll get sloppy drunk and everyone will laugh and I’ll miss it all as I leave early to get home for a quiet, solo nightcap or two. 

I miss falling in love over drinks and finding that love at the street end of the bar downing two too fast to be sure to have the courage to pull off what we did that night as the bubbles flowed in and through us. I miss asking if you’ll have another even though it’s a Sunday and we both should go to work tomorrow. I’ll miss us both saying yes as long as we could stay right there as long as it took to know there’d be another date. As long as it took to know you’d know I was the one as I knew you were already. 

I miss being Saturday wanderers stopping on the Island for a winery tour completely unaware where the day would takes us. Finding ourselves lost on the island in a living room/tasting room and watching you bubble with glee at the place we’d found. I miss the nights when you would go to bed like a responsible adult and I would drink a bottle of Absolut. I miss them because they were fun, mostly. And because you knew and you let me work out whatever it was I was working out. When you saw it was nothing you knew I was in too deep and you lovingly and sincerely asked me to please consider slowing down. I did. I miss that more than anything. It was the most loving thing anyone had ever asked. I’d tried to get people to believe me before that it was getting to be a bit too much, but you believed me. 

I love drinking. I love being drunk. I love it now more than I ever have. I don’t do it anymore. I don’t get drunk. Because I found something better. But I will never forget the life I’ve had, the life I’ve lead, drinking and laughing and loving it all. 

If You’re Gay…

  You two keep us delightfully, exhaustively, sometimes even maddeningly busy. In the future, a thing that when I was a kid we thought of as 20-30 -40 years hence, but a thing that appears to be forever a year away in this time of ever evolving technology, I hope to be able to keep up better with the details of the news. For now I get what I get through imperfect routes to be sure. It’s hard to filter through for what information is important for me to know. 

What’s coming through right now is that voices of hate that hope to marginalize and demonize those that are different seem to be growing bold with the increasing wind of public support. Fear not, there are countervailing winds that are stronger, winds that I hope you’ll join us in generating as you grow up and encounter a world of rich and beautiful diversity. I hope you’ll try to recognize all that you have and be appreciative. 

You have parents that likely won’t be able to send you wherever you want to go for college and won’t have you in a new car on your sixteenth birthday. We live knowing that the plenty we have is merely where we need to put our resources for now as what’s most important to us is you guys and your well being. We wish we could give you everything you ever wanted, but we know we will never be able to. We see value in that as well. 

What we can give you we give easily and freely and it’s us, all of us and all the love we contain. It’s our greatest pleasure giving it to you and these are our golden years as you have not ever thought of witholding it from us. Any contentiousness that might rise between us at your young ages is gone before it could ever settle in and turn into a thing that might feel permanent. 

Truth is it’s normal, at least to some degree, to have tense times with your parents as you grow up. You are duty bound to become independent and as much as we want that for you we are equally compelled to hold on to you for as long as possible. The love we feel for you is overwhelming and we can’t let go. There’s perhaps a fear of mortality thing involved here as well, I’m starting to sense. Whatever it is, you’ll be ready to get out in the world and make your mistakes and learn how to regroup and make them again, as many times as you need to, well before we’ll feel comfortable letting you. I bring it up now because from here, driving toward the fire, I have my wits about me. It seems a lot harder to maintain such perspective, seeing the fire as a controlled burn, one that makes the land it decimates capable of sustaining new life as it comes closer. I’m pretty sure it won’t feel that way when I’m standing in the fire trying to keep you from running in, where all the action is, where all the pain and excitement are that I’m projecting onto you, er, the fire. 

I’m losing the analogy. Suffice it to say that the teen and young adult years can be hard on everyone. You are all better for getting through them, but it’s possible for us to lose one another there for a bit. 

And what a bit it is. Your teen years are amazing. If they’re anything like mine they will contain Odyssey’s that you will look back on with great fondness, experienced with comrades taking similar though specifically different journeys all of which I’m happy to have behind me and don’t want to go back to. 

There is a fear that I have that I can’t shake and I want to make sure, just in case this is a place where you ever find me, to address it. 

I love you. I want you to find and feel loved. I want you to know that love is what I want for you most. I want you to know that you deserve to feel loved and to love. What I don’t care about is who you find it with, not the demographics of them at least. I certainly want that person to respect you. I will be over the moon if they make you laugh. They should definitely inspire your curiosity. I want you to find love with someone that challenges you to grow and takes unexpected journeys with you. I want you to be that person that sparks a fire for someone else. 

Who’s to say what they future holds. I didn’t find that person, your mom, until much later than many others do. You’re five and three and today I saw pictures of my prom dates kids going to prom. It took me a while, but I’m glad I didn’t stop looking. That said, if your love becomes your work or your family or your boundless thirst for experience and adventure or if you find it in stacks of books or making music or walking in the woods, I don’t care, as long as it makes you happy.

And if you find love with a wife and you have a life that looks like ours, with kids and a yard and walking to school and it’s filled with love, I’ll be delighted. 

And if you fall in love with a man and you spark and you make a life filled with love, and laughter and experiences that make you feel the world was made just for you, just like this life feels for me, you will find no one in the world more delighted and happy for you than me. 

I need you to know because it all emerges at a time, the teen years,  when we feel most alone and despite a world, a country that still insists on retracting the progress that is so hardly won for tolerance and acceptance and love please know that I’m for you and will be so proudly and loudly. Whoever you are, whoever you love. 

The Real Joe


Let’s face it. You guys reading this, those of you not related to me by marriage, if you know what I mean, you know my agent, not me. You know the guy teasing out bits that, while true and genuine, are also curated. I edit out the nose picky parts of me. Of course I do.

Many of you say very nice things to me in comments that I LOVE, please keep doing this. However, I feel it only fair to share with you the, well, um, challenges one might find sharing a life with me. My wife is far too kind and wouldn’t ever write this list, so allow me…

  1. I can only commit one ear to my family – My wife is amazing and endlessly patient with this issue. I can absolutely hear out of both ears, but I can only hear the people in the room, talking to me, with one of them. This is due to the earbud that is permanently present in my right ear. It’s normalized now, this ever present distraction. I’ve had serious conversations, regarding very serious topics, eaten dinner (most nights) and gone to bed (every night) with them in. It’s bad form and it will never change. My wife has accepted this shortcoming because she is a saint. My kids have yet to see the issue, though I’m quite certain it will come up as early as when they are asked to draw a picture of their family and will remain through the years of therapy they will doubtlessly require later in life.
  2. I’ve got some real physical limitation due to my strained neck, injured from repeated eye rolling –  I am one seriously judgmental dude. I play the results and then I act as if I’d have never gotten myself into the trouble I’ve nudged others into. It’s terrible. I’ll say things like, ‘Don’t ever ask a 3 year old what he wants.’ Only to meet my crying 3 year old and ask endlessly loving wife, ‘Well, did you give him options?’ Yep. I’m that dude! Don’t all jump at once, ladies. I’m taken. Lucky girl.
  3. I’m moody  – I can’t speak for all writers, but for me it’s pretty bad. I can be all up in her business, asking all about her day, listening thoughtfully (even with one ear listening to baseball or a podcast) asking questions, connecting. Then out of the blue I find myself thinking about something. An idea. Perhaps a list of my personal flaws made funny so as to ‘apologize’ to my wife for my shortcomings without having to speak them, take ownership of them or ever really having to say I’m sorry and like that, I’m somewhere else. Aloof is accurate but to anyone outside my brain it can look dismissive at the least and hostile at its worst. I don’t deserve her. Don’t tell her I said that.
  4. I’m a yeller – It’s terrible. I am not at all one that feels like yelling is good role modeling. Particularly for a dad to two boys. I don’t like it. But they are 3 and 5 and there are times when it’s necessary, which is fine. But I can come to rely on it too much. It’s effective in the short term. To be clear, in general this is a trait that is only used with the boys and often when they are in imminent danger of things such as getting yelled at. Still, it’s a small house and it’s not pleasant.
  5. I have an iPhone and an addictive personality  – Seriously.

I think I’ll stop here for now. As my shortcomings continue to determine my future I’ll try to check back in from time to time to update and add (and delete?) from this list from time to time.

Until then I’d like to say thank you to the greatest gifts of my life, my family, for seeing past all the rough edges and loving me anyways… I love you…

What? What did you say? I can’t hear you, the Mets are on.

Riding the Wave

IMG_5889Put aside your beliefs of what is possible and imagine opening your eyes and seeing God. Not the back lit, arms outstretched, hovering in the air with flowing robes God. Imagine if he were just there. Maybe watching TV or sweeping or doing the dishes. A laundry folding God. There to protect you and keep you warm. Saving you from every imaginable danger. Feeding you three times daily and singing you beautiful songs until you fell asleep. A god that would put the sun away when you were tired and one that was there no matter when you cried out for her. A god that knew he was the biggest creature you’d ever seen and spent her time reassuring you that he was always there to protect you.

Now, imagine this god growing old before your eyes. Imagine this god making a handful of mistakes that feel like the end of the world when they happen. God doesn’t make mistakes. One day you realize that it was all a trick. God wasn’t god. She was just a person. Just like you. One that makes mistakes. Not many, but after years of being god it doesn’t take many before you lose faith. How could you have made me so foolish, thinking you were not only special but all powerful? Forget benevolent. A benevolent god wouldn’t have made me so fallible, wouldn’t have been so fallible.

I once watched a NOVA episode on fractals. On the endlessly recurring structural similarities of things. About the Tree whose limbs mimic the parent tree, whose branches mimic the limbs, whose twigs, whose leaves. It was fascinating. It pointed to waves in the ocean being made up of endlessly cresting miniature versions of waves, those made up of even smaller versions of the same. This principle is seemingly isomorphic. Perhaps social science is already settled on this and I’m following a road to an inevitable dead end, I don’t know, I don’t research. To me it looks like their is a good deal of this type of growth in the ever cresting beat of the human story, all of us repeating and taking the rough shape of those that have come before and passing it forward so often to those that come after.

2015-06-13 21.40.59I don’t think there’s any avoiding the fact that someday I will have to apologize to my kids for the mistakes I made. In the midst of all the struggle to be a good parent, of all the effort put in making the best life we know how to make for our kids the truth is that at some point I’ll be held to account for some arbitrary reason and that will build on itself until the ultimate apology might never satisfy someone who is upset that I’m not the reason the sun comes up, I’m not able to assure all the safety I promised, I will make unfair decisions and many wrong ones. I will not live forever and I will not always be there, at least not in the way I promise them I will be. The disappointment is real. I imagine there was a time when my anger left my parents in true pain. Of course it did, they loved me and I was in pain.

This is a point in time in the life cycle of the wave and it to passes.

If you are able to stay around long enough they forgive. Usually long after the time they stop holding you to account for all that they felt broken by. They come to learn that despite not being all knowing, you were incredibly good to them. You were kind and tried your best. You were human, just like they are. Sometimes, as has happened to me only after having kids, they come to marvel at the job their parents did. At the amount of love that was passed on every day in an effort to make sure that you were safe and loved and able to swim. They watched you sink, first in the pool then at the school then with a girl and then with life and all it’s responsibilities they had made invisible to you. They did it all so you could learn to swim, to navigate the lunchroom, to talk to the girl and to pay the bills.

Somewhere in the course of standing up to all those fears, slaying some monsters and climbing those mountains it occurs to you that you aren’t doing it alone. It feels that way at first, but every time you look back they are their cheering. Every time you fail they are their, dusting you off and encouraging you to keep on going. Every step of the way they are holding the back of that bike seat, even after their hand has come off and we do it ‘alone.’ We scream, ‘I did it’ and they cheer, ‘you did it!’ Your win is their win and they share it alone, in their room at night where they take their victories now, quietly so as not to wake you. You need your rest. For there will be mountains to climb in the morning.

As I sit here, atop the peak of the bell curve that is my life I now see the journey of my own parents and I have returned to a place of looking on them with wonder. I’m in awe of the life they’ve lead and feel endlessly thankful for all they did and continue to do for me. I’m more aware and not harboring any illusions about who and what they are and that makes it all the greater. They gave their lives to me and my brothers and sisters and did so graciously and with endless effort to ensure that we would be able to make it.

I look back and see the hills the boys will climb and I gird myself for the journey. It comes with all the unexpected glories and unpredictable pain you can imagine. It’s all of life they will face. I marvel at the journey in front of them, the one I’m only halfway through now. I feel endless empathy for them. I worry for them and am excited for them. I’ll jump every time I see danger coming. A few times too many I’m sure as it will take me longest to learn that they are able. It won’t be a lack of confidence, merely the memory of the boys they were when I was the giant that told them everything would be okay. The one who chased the monsters around the mountains, told them they couldn’t hurt them as long as I was here.

They might never understand. These times, these times that are happening now, they are the most important and indelible moments of my life. They are the parts I suspect will flood me in my last moment on earth. All of it occurring at a time when time is too young to have such importance to them. A time they will forget as they fill their heads with the adventures they need to take to find the life of meaning that their simple existence has provided to me.


The Currency of Love

Smartest In the World. And Robert.Before I became a dad I had no understanding of the elasticity of time. I considered time a constant. It marched ceaselessly, never wavering, never stopping. These are attributes of time, to be sure, but it was a reductive understanding. Since having the kids I’ve traveled in time, seen it slow to a crawl, marched through years in the span of an afternoon, even traveled to a time so far off I could never live to see it. Time is not simple. Clocks are simple. Time is incredibly flexible and capable of transporting you if you let go, surrender your control over it. It’s okay. You can almost always recapture it.

Other times you surrender parts of yourself to stay forever in a moment.

She really is too good to me…

Meeting my wife was one of those moments. The kids are part of that moment too. That they weren’t born yet is of little import in my new relationship to time. So many factors made this moment one capable of stretching years. Despite this the moment itself has not suffered from thinning or become weak as it stays tacked in place and stretches out to stay forever with me. Quite the contrary, actually. Parts of us will always be sitting on those bar stools, hearts jumping like live wires, trying our hardest to both conceal and reveal the excitement, not wanting to scare away the other but unable to control that which we’d harnessed within for so long.

When I became a father and when I became one again time proved as malleable as ever. If I were to leave it to the clocks and the calendars there would be some difference I’d have to assign to the experience, as if the experience were split in two and by virtue of separate arrivals I’d have to assign different values to each. But to use time that way would be unfair as the moment of becoming a father is one moment, one moment that hopped forward and backward through space and time, meeting itself with perfect symmetry.

imageIn that moment when life was shown to us, when we learned all we truly needed to know about love, we experienced one of times most beguiling characteristics. We learned that all that had passed before had been of a nature we didn’t understand. We learned that the compiled joys and pains, fits and starts that we had so bemoaned were in fact time teaching us patience, perseverance and endurance. Time always knew that we would come to understand all it had done to us and understand our lives once we could see them in the light and perspective that time was so diligently showing us. Time was a patient teacher and we very impatient students.

Since our kids have come time has managed to speed up in the macro and slow down in the micro. Each day, hour and even minute can have the potential to be excruciatingly long. Thankfully for those moments which are of endless value to the kids who will never remember them and only be able to appreciate them when they endure them from our perspective, we are able to drop them and leave them where they lie until such a time when the waves of time moving in all directions so obscure them as to make those moments disappear into the ocean. Meanwhile in the macro time seems to be packing so much of itself into each and every day that we are finding ourselves wondering how so much of it has passed. Fretting away moments here and there with sorrow that we won’t have enough time to fully experience life.

I never thought much of the time when all my moments would be up. Until I had my kids the pile seemed so large as to be inexhaustible. Then the value of each and every one of those minutes became precious. The fact was I could see in the distance that my boys piles were considerably larger than mine. At least I hope that is what I see. Now I treasure my minutes, trying my hardest, though often failing, to turn as many of my minutes remaining into moments.

Moments are the only true legacy I can leave to them, leaving time from my life and adding time to theirs, as my parents have and do for me. I don’t know that I’d value any minutes if they were endless. So the smaller the pile gets the more invested I am in making as many of them a part of my legacy for my kids as I can. Because in the end time is not only endlessly morphing, it’s also the currency of love.


Five Years a Dad

imageOur first, our not so little Charlie, is turning 5 this week. It’s not going too fast for me. Not today at least. I may feel differently at his sixth, but for now things are moving along nicely. It’ll also be my fifth anniversary of being a dad but do you think he’ll remember? Nope. So rude.

From time to time life provides a moment for you and your lingering sense of loss that inevitably accompanies all the changes you go through. When it does it’s a good idea to look back and take stock.

The only constant in life is change.

It’s a theory that holds up. At least to my way of approaching it. It being both life and its nature as ever changing.

First a primer on who I was. I was a summer camp guy for 18 years until 2013. It wasn’t a job. It was a passion, love and career. It was a fine way to spend the rest of my life if life had proceeded that way. I worked with populations of kids and adults with differing needs and helping, being a cog in a wheel that provided such a wonderful opportunity to folks that often didn’t have such opportunities was the proudest accomplishment of my life. I was wedded to the work. I would disappear for months at a time to enter a new life and be fully present in it. I love that world only slightly less than the world of my family. And far more than any other potential life. It’s where I’d be forever were my kids not to come along. It’s where I hope to return in my golden years and it’s where I’d run to if my world came crashing down around me.
I was also a largely functional alcoholic. The serious kind of functioning alcoholic. The several hundred dollars a week, perhaps a bottle of vodka or scotch  and a 12-pack of chasers in a night type of drunk. I drunk myself to sleep for years. More than a decade, easy. Even after settling down with my wife. I don’t think she understood that what I was doing was moderating while we were dating as she was trying to keep up and it was an epic binge for her. I was a bad influence.

That said, we really loved having drinks together. Loved it. Did it really well. It was so much fun to be decent earning adults in NYC. We ate out all the time and had drinks in and out and endless laughs and nights that were so epically wonderful that we still reference and revere them years later. The nights of wine and roses as we wandered through the festively lit streets of Astoria, lightly lit ourselves and finding romance while blizzards drove all the revelers out to the streets to feel the palpable Christmas in the freezing air, wandering from restaurant to bar to wine bar to dollar store to home to decorate and continue the party with just the two of us in a fourth floor walk up overlooking the white roofs and urban backyards of our new world ancient neighborhood are some of the giddiest most endorphin inspiring memories I can conjure.

We had endless time to contemplate and consider. Our feelings, our finances, our vacations and our careers. We would ponder and consider like pros. We could make a good six months out of debating the relative merits of buying a car. This was when our future was so crisply and cleanly defined as a life spent together, making each other laugh and smile. Infuriating each other over things so silly now I can’t even remember them. Making up over whole weekends we’d spend seeking bliss and washing it down with cold beers in gardens and world cuisine served to us by intriguing people with decorous accents. We had stronger convictions then. Why wouldn’t we. It’s much easier to make the world fit your will when you have nothing bigger than yourself to consider.

Now it’s funny to remember how serious our conversations were about whether or not we should try to have kids, try to become a family. We stated our concerns so sincerely and so naively. It’s hard not to see the funny in that combination.
What we had right was how much things would change.

I tried to keep my camp life after we had kids. I’d seen so many of my colloeagues, people that started as I had, as counsellors in  our teens and early twenties, be able to manage it. But I didn’t find love at camp, oddly enough and the worlds don’t always mesh that way. Besides, all the others had managed to get those jobs that came with a house year round and I hadn’t gotten there yet. Might never have, who knows. For me the job required me driving 125 miles each way 2-3 times a week and staying over night a couple of times a week. This was the compromise I could manage when the first came along. Prior to that I was gone 6 days a week and likely to leave on day 7.   This lasted for 8-10 weeks every summer. It was better than my first camp where I’d pack up and move in mid-May and return in mid to late Sept.  My utterly understanding wife, and new mom I might add, had more patience than seems humanly possible as she knew how much the work meant to me and she herself found it to be one of my best qualities. But then you have kids. You have midnight feedings and ever evolving sleep schedules and work schedules to coordinate and dr’s appointments… It all got to be crazy. Then when a severe anaphylactic reaction happened  sending us to the hospital with a barely breathing boy I knew it was time to start looking. It was still a good while but I found something that worked. I had to take a step back in my career, but I could be with Charlie, and now his little brother who had arrived in the mix, at the Y where I still could work with people with special needs and their families. I was right there in case anything came. Also, while it can be trying at times I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been driving them to and fro everyday. Having them see me at work and me being able to come upon them in the halls or sneak out and see them in their swim lessons. It’s nothing short of amazing.

We used to eat at so many cool and progressive restaurants. Now we are fairly restricted, not just by the food allergies, but also by budget and the fact that wrangling two boys under 5 (at least until Thursday!) in a public place is little different than doing it in the privacy of our home. Where we are not very good at it. In fact we are not the parents we ever thought we would be. Far from it.  No screens, no candy. Seemed good advice. Was good advice. Now we will holler to get their attention and distract them with candy to get the IPad away so we can give it to the brother who’s scream crying because he is no longer satisfied getting candy in lieu of the IPad. It can go like this for whole winter breaks.

Our drinking is now a pleasure because it happens about one shared beer or perhaps as much as half a bottle of wine (one glass each) at a time.  Its a lovely nightcap after the dishes are done, the floors clean enough and the kids are somewhat reliably asleep for the evening and it’s accompanied not by the most recent art house film that challenges our sensibilities, but rather the wonderful worlds of Orange Is The New Black or The Big Bang Theory. BBT is a tad embarrassing, even in the room, but we like it. Parenthood dumbs you up just enough to find you truly liking the merits of a show so straightforwardly crowd pleasing. Seriously, like the booze, in small doses it’s great. OITNB is just great. Would have been before too. Just wouldn’t have seen it. Wouldn’t have fit in our social calendar

Now the fights move faster and so does the forgiveness. Truth is we are much quicker to lose a fight, either of us then we ever were in the past. We’d both be fine going down with the bad idea rather than acknowledging the other person might be right. Now, we get over it because none of it’s so serious, so necesarry now that we have two little boys that brought so much perspective with them.

Yesterday morning we woke up as we often do these days, with all of us in the bed. The boys go to sleep in their beds, or at least get there at some point in the evening. Every night the 3 year old makes his way over and more times than not the big boy follows shortly thereafter. The little one has become the alpha and he has determined that he wants him and his big bro to share mommy’s pillow so momma shifts and climbs and keeps everyone fully covered as she does. Thank god we got a king sized bed. Before you knew it we had inadvertantly found ourselves snuggled in the bed, with the light emerging through the windows with as much as a half hour left before the sun would rise. Our about to be five year old would do this, maybe for a few more years. Maybe. But than that would be gone. And it will be fine and we’ll find new ways to appreciate our love and our family. But for now, laying here under the covers, warm and content next to our little boys, well, there’s not really anything better. The old me could never have known that.

The love I have now both for my family and for my wife makes all the pain and wrong turns I took magically transform into the right ones. Had you checked in with me 15 years ago when I was ‘destroying relationships’ and drinking like a fish and feeling like a failure every minute I was away from camp or sober I’d have told you as objectively as I could be, I was screwing it all up. I was screwing up my life and there was very little chance of me ever recovering. But you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and then all of a sudden one day you realize, holy crap, all of that brought me here. Thank god I ruined those relationships. I’d have failed them and they’d have failed me. I didn’t fail, the relationships did. I learned. Thank God I stayed so drunk I couldn’t get to another place where I wouldn’t have found exactly the life I have. Because I love it. I love my life now more than I ever have. It’s hard, I fail and I keep going and I love it.

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