Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another addition to "The Second Night's Stop"

A long time ago I began a secondary website Why Won't You Write, as a place to house my college writings--both academic and otherwise. Recently I put a few college poems on there, but the largest task was retyping my Masters thesis "The Second Night's Stop."

It's been a long time since I devoted time to the necessary typing and formatting to make this happen, but this paternity leave has given me the opportunity--in fits and starts--to complete Chapter 2.

So, I'm officially announcing that Chapter Two "The Tourist Boom Years" is now available for you to completely ignore over on WWYW?!

As a way of reminding you of the overall project, I am providing links to the summary Abstract and I'll also link to Chapter One. (Because it's MUCH more riveting if you read it all as a complete piece.)

I figure I'll get Chapter Three--where the REALLY exciting stuff happens--around 2009.

Enjoy! (??)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

PL, day 14 . . . AND LOST heiroglyphics at the bottom

My time on paternity leave is coming to an end, but not quite yet.

I was planning to go back to work this Thursday, since my corporate-allowed 15 days would be up, but Lynda reminded me that if Hannah goes to daycare, even on a Thursday, we'd have to pay for the whole week. Since that is foolish and especially since I've got vacation days to use up from last year, I checked with my managers and they've granted me the rest of this week off.

So, Hannah won't be starting daycare until Monday. She'll be three months old and change. And while that is still undeniably young, I can't help but point out that Sarah and Grace started daycare when they were six weeks old . . SIX WEEKS! They were so tiny, it was ridiculous. And look how nicely they've turned out.


This morning when I woke up there was snow on the ground. It's the END of MARCH! STOP SNOWING! But time must march on. I've gotten into such a groove here at home with no stress (except for making sure I'm prepared to feed Hannah with minimal crying--her crying not my crying), I wonder how I'll make that transition back to the job next week. I know (cause I can read the emails) that my project has been handled with smooth skill thanks to the incomparable Dr. Actually. But, when I'm back the reins fall back into my hands and the schedule still must be met. The project hasn't gotten more difficult since I've been away, but I will have to spend a bit of time reacquainting myself with all the information and stuff again, so I can answer questions. But, it'll get done. I probably just need to spend a bit of time this weekend reviewing and sorting my emails.

And its probably a good thing to step back into work. For all of my blogging, I don't think I've written much of substance during this time (kind of like tonight's effort). I'm marking time, but not really hitting anything with profundity. And, really, without profundity, why would anyone bother to come back? So, I hope I can come back with less frequent posts, but something meatier with each entry.

Besides, the combination of maternity and paternity leave has coincided with a great deal of home improvement commitments. We both need to get back to work to avoid spending away our future. (I'm only kidding, but it is true that we've set in motion more repair/improvement work during the last few months than any other time since we've lived in our current house.) All of it is useful/necessary/deserving work, and we work to improve our quality of life, but it is a bit out of character for us. I'm not complaining though . . . the newly walled (??) and painted den is a great improvement; the upcoming patio will be a long awaited fix; and the replaced soffet board was absolutely necessary.

But once you commit, it's easy to keep on going. We intend somewhere down the line (a few years away, I reckon) to fix up the basement into a more livable space, but that will have to wait for a.) payments on this years efforts to make a dent and b.) for the girls to grow up a bit more and actually WANT to inhabit down there. Right now the basement is a dumping ground for toys. Soon enough they'll want to hang out down there with their friends and avoid the embarrassing parental presence. At least, I THINK that's what will happen. Maybe L. and I will turn it into our awesome parental pad of relaxation. Who knows?

Well, enough of this mandatory rambling. Off to bed and a book, then sleep until tomorrow.


Oh, I almost forgot--in my LOST post from last week, I promised to give any information about the rune-covered door that Ben used when summoning Smokey.

Well, here's what I've found so far.

Monday, April 28, 2008

PL, day 13 again?

I think I misnumbered one of last week's paternity leave post. Today is the thirteenth day. I beg your forgiveness, but remember that I've been posting almost every day and the brain is swimming.

This weekend we spent a good amount of time outside, soaking up the nice weather. It was a bit chilly at times, but the sun and the flowering trees demanded outdoor activities. Lynda, suffering greatly with her allergies, managed to get out on Saturday and pulls some weeds in the big flower bed in the front yard. I followed up on Sunday with mulch to prevent the weeds from reappearing. We also spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon/evening talking to our neighbors and letting the kids play. It was a kind of thing where when I'm doing it, I'm glad I'm doing it and think to myself that I should do it more often. Outdoors and neighborly interactions. It's time tested!

Sarah says that she won't have any more homework for the rest of the school year. There is about a full month to go! What about the achievement tests? What about learning? What about scholasticism? Oh, but . . . that's one less chore for me to accomplish, so I guess I won't be too upset.

Speaking of upset, I did learn some sad news on Friday. One of my childhood neighbors died over the weekend and the funeral was today. JB was a nice man, if a bit gruff. He provided an interesting contrast to the life that I experienced in my family. As a child (and reflecting back upon it with an adult's mind) I can say that things seemed less bright, less comfortable across the street than in my home. Please note that I never really internalized these things at the time and I really don't mean these observations to be pejorative. Really, it was a function of home decor as much as anything--and the presence of cigarettes. I'm trying to find a way to describe the sense of Difference. My memories of the B's and their home are filled with happy memories--the super sweet tea, playing frisbee, football, baseball, and everything else in their yard, fishing in the pond, trying to row their boat without drowning, and thousands of hours in their driveway playing HORSE, Around the World, and trying to beat MSquared at basketball. It was a good and safe place to be when I wasn't at my own home. Along with the C's, the B's home were the two places I could go whenever I had to and be comfortable. That is a wonderful gift to give to a young child and I will always be grateful to them for that. Rest in Peace J. I hope you are in a better place and are healthier and happier.

Friday, April 25, 2008

PL, day 13

Having me at home with a full day of Food Network shows can be both a good and a bad thing.

Yesterday turned more on the bad than the good.

I decided to grill chicken and shrimp. I had some frozen cocktail shrimp (I KNOW it's not precisely the right type of shrimp for this . . . but it's what I had.) that I quickly thawed in cold water, then marinated them in oil and some barbecue spice rub. Around 5 o'clock, as the kids where done with homework and other stuff and while Hannah was sitting quietly in her vibrachair, I got everything set up. The marinated shrimp was put of pre-soaked skewers, chicken breasts were ready to go, I had barbecue sauce to baste on the chicken. Everything was on a tray and taken outside. I took Hannah outside to sit nearby. I had a pot of water to boil corn on the cob, ready to use on the grill's side burner (a first attempt at using it). I turn the burners on, get the flames going to preheat, go back inside quickly to grab something, come back . . . and the flames are GONE!

I must be out of propane?

The entire operation is nothing but a fantasy now. So, I bring everything back inside, decide to broil the shrimp in the oven to be a nibble on appetizer while I begin reheating the pot of water and reconfigure the chicken for oven baking, with occasional sauce application. Around an hour later, the chicken is finally done--and at least it was nicely cooked.

So, today I am going to attempt (?) to return the propane tank and get a new one, but I also really need to get new bottle nipples for Hannah. I figure I can use the stroller to move her and the propane tanks from van and back again, but that would be the final errand. I would first go across town to the Baby's R Us to see if they have the specific nipples I'm looking for.

All of this is contingent on Hannah's cooperation (she's usually very good about such things, as long as it fits within the windows of her feeding schedule, and whether or not it rains today. The sky has a gray cast and the dim light outside doesn't bode well for lots of outdoor activities with baby . . . or for Sarah's soccer game tonight.

But, oh well. I've got a load of folded laundry to put away, a clean set of whites to fold and put away, and a set of colored clothes in the dryer right now. Plus, I've got documents to type, and a baby to play with when she wakes up. I've got enough to do.

Last night on LOST

Here is a series of quick impressions on last night's excellent episode of LOST.

Episode 409: "The Shape of Things to Come"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

PL, day 12

I am a genius!

Starting to get my lunch ready (hey, when the kid is sleeping in the swing, you eat when you can) and I'm boiling some hotdogs. And I thought wistfully about having steamed buns, because I've watched enough Food Network to know that really good hotdogs come inside steamed buns. But I don't have a steamer. Then, the genius-thing kicked in.

I put a cookie cooling wire rack on top of the pot of water that the hot dogs are boiling in and I set the buns on top of the mesh. That way, the steam from the pot infuses the buns, loosening them up--and probably injecting some of that hot doggy goodness into the taste of the bread besides!

Genius, right?


Yesterday, Hannah and I got back on the walking routine after two days off. Grace was back at school, so we didn't have to worry about her. But I waited until the afternoon to go out and that turned out to be a bad idea. Because yesterday afternoon was the hottest day of the spring so far and naturally, I spun off into a new direction and soon realized that I was past the halfway point of no return (where you should just keep on going forward because it won't be any faster than turning around and retracing your steps). So, I sweated my way around in the longest, warmest walk yet and got home just in time for me to drink a cold drink before getting in the car to pick up the kids after school. Sure I was unconsciously (or probably consciously) attempting to make up for the lack of walking on Monday or Tuesday, but my feet hurt last night. And I don't need to make my feet any angrier at me.

Hannah is doing well. I convinced Lynda to up her bottle intake a bit to avoid feedings every two hours. It seems to work pretty well. I am still amazed at home much she tends to sleep in the daytime hours--not constantly, but more consistently than in the afternoons. She has also gotten pretty predictable (knock on wood) about sleeping many hours during the night. Of course, last night was the exception to that, but Lynda didn't feed her, just rocked her back to sleep again. Poor Lynda is battling with her seasonal allergies and didn't get lots of sleep last night, so I guess she let me sleep since she was already partially awake?

Sarah's soccer game was cancelled due to rain last night, but they had to let them play IN the rain for ten minutes, then make everyone wait under a shelter for an additional twenty minutes before deciding to call it off. Naturally by then, the rain had moved off. Oh well. We came home and Sarah practiced a bit more on her bike.

The bike . . . well, Lynda convinced me to give up on the previous bike that Sarah had. It was cheaply bought--and I do mean cheap--at Meijer, had several mechanical issues that made any kind of consistent learning on it problematic, and was a bit too big for Sarah's height anyway. So, we are going to donate it and S. got a better bike at local bike store on Tuesday night. At Bike Professional's suggestion, we are going cold turkey with no training wheels at all now. Sarah has lowered the seat so she can sit with her feet touching the ground and is propelling herself by pushing. In this way, she's training herself to perfect balancing. She's doing well and though she is disappointed that the learning is not instantaneous, I'm trying to be positive. She'll figure it out eventually and then we'll all be happier.

Just checked on my buns (That's what she said?) and they are nice and moist (shut up!) so, I'm almost ready to eat.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

William Carlos Williams hate

Have you heard of William Carlos Williams?

He's a great American poet, but I (and it turns out others) have a residue of dislike towards him.

My history of disliking Williams (and I acknowledge that it is a petty, childish type of dislike) stems from one poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow." To be truthful, I should acknowledge that it is the ONLY poem of WCW's that I know . . . at least that WAS true until today.

This morning, I'm doing laundry, Hannah's sleeping, Grace (still a bit sick and avoiding daycare for two days) is drawing. I'm listening to the "This American Life" podcast--which you can listen to in its entirety here, but the relevant portion is around the 52 minute mark, I think.

What you'll hear is a discussion of another WCW poem entitled "This is Just to Say." It has generated ire from some poets and poetry students (according to the story) because it is a nonapology poem. You can read the original poem here.

What I find intersting is that William's poetry seems to bring out the anger in people--myself included. You can read about my own brief history with "The Red Wheelbarrow" here. But I should note that many people love Williams--and who am I to judge . . . except that I do, as you've already read.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PL, day 10

I've done little besides feed Hannah, keep up with Grace, and do laundry today.

Since Grace has been home sick the last few days, Hannah and I haven't been walking.


And the weather has been nice, too.

I can see why I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home parent. There just isn't enough to do, enough to keep me occupied. Sure, when Hannah is older, she would keep me occupied, but she'd still only be a child. I wouldn't get nearly enough adult interaction. I suppose if I was truly committed to this way of life, I'd find ways to reach out with other adults. Since this is decidedly temporary, I just hole up here and fight off cabin fever.

(There aren't enough movies and websites in the world to keep the madness at bay forever.)

Well, I've got to go. Grace is just standing in one place upstairs yelling for me. (Come FIND me, why don't you?!) And Hannah is sure to wake up soon and she'll be hungry for food immediately.

(I do have another post in the works right now, but I don't have all the materials to complete it. Hopefully everything will come together soon.)


Monday, April 21, 2008

Random celebrity sighting on TV

So Hannah is up, I've given her a bottle and she's back on the floor playing on the mat.

Grace is playing on the computer and she seems pretty okay. Her fever certainly seems minimal right now.

I'm watching "Molto Mario" on the Food Network. On this show, Mario Batali cooks traditional Italian fare with a roster of three guests. He explains cooking techniques, hits them with Italian words, and gives some Italian culinary history.

I've always thought the guests where just "folks" but now I'm wondering because who should be one of the guests but R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe. At first, I wasn't entirely sure it was him, but when he opened his mouth there was no doubt. His voice is very distinctive.


I forgot this . . .

(I should have added these thoughts to this morning's post. See below if you want.)

I highly recommend the movie I watched last night and if you are into graphic design, fonts, modernism, corporate worlds, etc. then you might like it also.

You can read about it over on Omnimedia.

PL, day 9

Might not have much time to post today. Grace is home sick with a fever . . . so my idyllic time of eating chocolates and sleeping is going to be disrupted today. (Joking . . .)

But I can report on stuff I did Friday and over the weekend.

I had luck with Jack T. on Friday and Hannah and I enjoyed the life of an urban hipster living near downtown. I had a veggie hamburger at the Northstar Cafe and then Jack and I strolled through the Short North, enjoying a spectacular springtime day with trees blooming and sun shining. Hannah was very good through it all.

On Saturday, L. and I cashed in some babysitting credits and we went out for dinner and a movie. The dinner was excellent and we quite enjoyed Jason Segal's movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." It wasn't nearly as raunchy as "Superbad" or even "Knocked Up" and it had the right balance of outright funny and romantic sweetness. (Plus, since both L. and I are loyal fans of CBS's "How I Met Your Mother"--from which we first met Jason Segal, we knew we liked his personality.)

Sunday I added some additional swing hangers onto the most awesome play set in the world, allowing us to hang a baby swing for Hannah. She's not yet old enough to swing, but it won't be long now. She's been successfully rolling onto her side throughout this past week, so she's learning to control herself more and more. (In fact, this morning, I watched her complete a circle of twisting all around her mat this morning.)

Oh, one more thing. I took Sarah to her soccer game Friday night, as while her team lost again--they are 0 and 3, they scored three goals! These are the first three goals of the season for her team. I promised to put pictures of her in her uniform, so I'll provide links to that here. Don't forget to appreciate the awesome jersey number.

I'll try to carve out time later, or maybe tonight to discuss other things. I'm sure there are other things to discuss, I just don't know what they are right now.

Friday, April 18, 2008

PL, day 8

Have I told you recently that I'm a lucky man?

Let's break it down, shall we?

I've got a fabulous wife and super great kids.

I've got a good job that allows us to pay the bills and live more than comfortably.

I've got numerous friends, rock steady family, and a community around me that cares about what's going on.

So, really . . . nothing bad is happening.

ESPECIALLY my timing on starting paternity leave.

Have you looked outside? It's gorgeous out there. (And I should know since I've been out there in it just about every day. The walks with Hannah have been great. I even gave the grass a slight trim last night to neaten things up. We still need to get the old deck removed and get down to putting a patio in, but things are moving along very well in various aspects of home improvement.

Last night I grilled out the hamburgers and we ate outside on the deck, enjoying sliced apples, hamburgers, carrots and nice breezes

All of that is true, but then there is this. (It's terrible what we do to our children when they are defenseless.) You see, because of the breezes, Lynda chose to clothe Hannah thusly to keep her warm. I cringed in manly embarrassment, but oh well, I'm surrounded by girls, you know?

That is all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PL, day 7 (w/ afternoon UPDATE)

Sorry that I didn't post yesterday. I didn't have an errand or task planned so I went up to the office to say "hey" to friends and to allow Lynda to show Hannah off to colleagues. (I also did a bit of showing off, but I was suitably reluctant about it. I just don't like to assume that people want to stop their stimulating work and look at the fruit of my loins--so to speak.)

As a result of all these things, I did not walk yesterday. I made up for it today a bit by taking a nice long walk around the block, down to Sarah's school, then back through the middle school grounds and snuck back into the neighborhood by a side path. It is a gorgeous day and I've got the windows open now, pulling in the fresh spring air with the house fan.

My additional parenting duties kick in a bit earlier than normal today, as Sarah's school is on early release today. That means they get out at 2:30 rather than 3:30. Luckily, I get get S, G, and our neighbor's daughter to play out in the backyard on the excellent play set that I constructed last summer. I also think that I'll grill out hamburgers for dinner tonight, thereby giving the frozen roast time to slowly thaw in the refrigerator. I'll slow cook that tomorrow. (I've got a lunch date tomorrow already set up, so knowing what tomorrow's dinner is going to be will be helpful, especially since Sarah's third soccer game is tomorrow night.)

Sarah's games have been interesting. Her team has been shut out both times so far, which I think is a reflection of the coach's laid back style. He is not barking out strategies or plans during the game, and I think he generally is there to see that everyone gets to play and that they put forth some effort and exercise. I am NOT going to criticize; I just hope Sarah doesn't get dispirited.

That's it for now. If anything especially exciting happens, I'll try to let you know. (Maybe something is a laundry-related mishap? What else might possibly go wrong?)


I don't mind having kids over to play, as I have this afternoon during Sarah's Early Release from school. And I especially don't mind if they play all by themselves--especially outside on a gorgeous day. I'll even overlook some ridiculous, borderline crude language (butt, poop, whatever . . . they're only 7, 6, and 4 after all) if that is the price for me not having to referee everything . . . considering I've got an infant to take care of.

But, the sheer juvenile-ness of it wears on you after a while. They feed off of each other and wind each other up until they talk over each other in stream-of-consciousness nonsense that drives you nuts.

Case in point . . . earlier they were running around in the backyard doing I don't know what. (I was feeding Hannah.) I could here them through the open window and they were constantly shouting explanations for their imaginings. It's like three playwrights are trying to write the same play at the same time and they are arguing out loud over the stage directions--of which each of them has a different opinion and goal.

Pretend that I'm a princess and I've been in Europe, but you don't know where I've been and you can't find me and I speak my own language and no one understands me and I've got a pretty dress and I'm singing for my prince but he doesn't understand and then I come back from Europe. Pretend guys, okay?

No, I'm going to Europe and I've got my horse and I find you and then we go together and gather some flowers.

No, pretend that you can't find me and we don't know where the dragon is but we're in the castle and then it starts to rain but I don't care I still keep picking flowers and I'm singing LADEEDADEEDA and then you hear me and pretend that you come over the hill and then you see me and you're in love with me but you don't know my name and then we get married.

But GUYS I want to play the DOLL GAME!!!

(And on and on it goes.)

At least Hannah keeps her mouth shut, except for when she wants to eat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

PL, day 5

A quick hit while Hannah is playing on her floor mat.

Got Grace registered for Kindergarten this morning. I shrewdly combined the morning walk with the need to visit the school and . . . walked to the school. Hannah was only fussy in the office about halfway through and during both legs of the walk she was drowsing. So, I have been very successful in my daily walks. (Unfortunately, I was not successful in only eating a few cookies after lunch. I guess the lack of interest in rewatching Spiderman 3 didn't help, but that is just an excuse.)

I also decided to utilize (again) my neighbor's bread machine that we have on loan. Currently, I've got a wheat bread working. Should be baked right around the time I'll be working on dinner. So far I've made a so so banana bread and created pizza dough with the machine. Hopefully I won't dislike a basic wheat bread loaf.

So, it's been a pretty uneventful day so far. Tomorrow I don't have any specific plans nailed down until our weekly bible study in the evening.

I might cut the grass tonight, after Lynda gets back from the office. It would be nice to neaten things up a bit.

Maybe more later if something exciting/noteworthy occurs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Don't live in FRAUD

I talk (and sometimes write) a good game, but in the end, I am, as usual, a fraud.

Midday, I expounded on the virtues of parenting in a courageous, bold way, full of determination and conviction.

By 3:30, it was all a distant memory.

When I got Sarah from school, she immediately began talking about how after her birthday party--which is about 3 months away!--she wanted to have some friends stay over. Possibly for a slumber party, maybe just to watch a movie. I don't have a problem with this, if the other parents are agreeable and as long as the number of kids is manageable (three at the most?!).

But then she started talking about wanting to walk to school--which she technically could do. I KNOW Lynda doesn't want her walking to school. I am a bit hesitant about it--even though I was doing that at her age, and walking farther in comparison. I didn't say NO, just that I would talk to mom and we both needed to be in agreement (a parental safety valve, or cop out if you will). I guarantee that she won't be walking to school the remainder of this year. Sarah said "but I'm EIGHT!" with all the conviction that an eight-year-old who has been sheltered and provided for can muster. ("But you're MY DAUGHTER!" I might have replied out loud, though she wouldn't really understand what I meant.)

I deflected a bit by bringing up the fact that I'd be more comfortable if she rode her bike to school, though I know full well that she isn't able to ride her bike hardly at all. With training wheels, she's competent, but of course the EIGHT-year-old is getting slightly embarrassed by the presence of training wheels. I agree that this should be a bit embarrassing, remembering full well that I wasn't comfortable on my bike until long PAST eight-years-old (again . . . FRAUD!). So, she took her training wheels off recently (when I wasn't there) and her lack of immediate success has resulted in not trying to ride her bike at all since.

So, her bike sits, and sits, and sits. I tell her that she'll NEVER get on it and succeed if she doesn't begin to try. But the spectre of falling is an ever present danger. And I don't want to be the bad guy, so I don't push her and so nothing is resolved.

It's this cycle of bicycle neglect that has put my afternoon/early evening in such a depressing mood.

So much for courage, conviction, bold action.


PL day 4: Don't live in fear

You can't be a good parent and live in fear. That's not to say you don't act cautiously or thoughtfully--and unfortunately, we know that we need to instill in our children the sad fact that dangers do exist (even if we wish they didn't).

But you can't let fear of the unknown (or the potentially uncomfortable) get in the way of living a life with children. Case in point, yesterday I gathered up all three girls and we headed over to the mall so that Sarah and Grace could play and so Lynda could focus on her work for an hour. I've done this many times in the past, but never with Hannah. How would I deal with three? Would Hannah cry constantly? Could I logistically manage all of them at once?

The answer was that it went fine. Hannah was quiet in the van (even though her feeding time was approaching), the girls played, they listened, everything was good. Hannah fed well and I think she even enjoyed watching the blurs of kids running here and there on the fake animals at the Zoo play Court.

But if I had feared mistakes, feared uncomfortableness, we'd have stayed home, Lynda would have gotten nothing done, and we'd have all killed each other. I took a chance, embraced the possibility that it would work out fine, and acted.

Now, for me, these are bold words. Much of my younger life was not about bold action, embracing failure, etc. I lived in fear of fear, worry of the unknown. And I still have those tendencies. But, I think I'm growing in the opinion that, for me, as a parent, you've got to live a life of confidence. Because, otherwise you're going to run into trouble. All children want to do is ask questions about life and gauge how things are. If you aren't prepared to give your answers to those questions, then what? Being a parent is all about making choices and accepting the consequences. If you aren't willing to embrace those choices, then you're in for trouble somewhere down the line.

So, don't live in fear. Take that spur of the moment walk. Go places with your kids. Expose them to things. Jump out of planes . . . wait, maybe not that last one.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Tonight I think I scared Lynda and the girls a bit . . . by doing something that I do pretty frequently--I've done it twice this weekend alone.

I have a long and (in)glorious history of tripping, stumbling, and generally falling all over the place. My most spectacular fall is one that I know I have told publicly, but I'm not sure I've blogged on it before. If I have, I'm sorry for the repeat. If I haven't, then you'll enjoy the details later.

Tonight's tale was ordinary, though it looked spectacular. We were cleaning up the kitchen and I was walking out of the kitchen/dining room area, turning around the bit of wall that separates the entrance hallway from that part of the house. I guess I just leaned the wrong way and my (always precarious) balance shifted suddenly. I didn't get my foot caught up in the foot of Hannah's rocking chair (she wasn't in it anyway), but maybe that was what started the imbalance act. In any case, once my center of gravity flew to the side, my tumble began. I started to go down and was immediately worried about ramming my torso into the table corner standing beside the wall partition. I twisted out of the way of that, but this only further put my body out of control. I hit the floor flat out, banging my right knee on the way down and lay there prone while everyone else scrambled to see what had happened. (They were blocked by the wall and couldn't see everything as it was happening.)

Lynda put Hannah down and came to see if I was conscious, bleeding, whatever. The older kids hung back, a bit perplexed by this strange sight of their dad flat on his face. Grace said that I had scared her and wanted to give me a hug once I got up on my feet again. I knew I was okay and just lay there to get my emotions into check. There are few things that make me angrier than falling down. As I said, I've done it many times, much of them in public, and I always try to make it a bit humorous. (After all, one of the sure sources of humor throughout history and across cultures is the pratfall.) But, inwardly, Iseethe at my clumsiness. Honestly, that was the thing that worried THE MOST about being a father was that I would trip and fall down while carrying a baby. Amazingly, that has never happened. I suppose my subconscious is paying extra special attention? I did fall down once when Grace was only about a week old, but she was safely strapped into her car seat. We were walking into our former church and I hooked my toe on a lifted seam in a bumpy sidewalk. I bloodied my knee and Grace hit the ground with a bump, but it was the seat that absorbed the blow and she was fine.

On Saturday (the first of the weekend's falls) I was downstairs in the basement, picking up toys. Again, I must have leaned the wrong way and quickly overbalanced. I began to stumble and, being surrounded by toys, I twisted the wrong way and couldn't recover the lean. This time I avoided dashing my head against the corner of a wooden bench. I swore a bit loudly (since I was downstairs and not directly in the vicinity of the kids) and was again mixed up with anger over falling and tripping over toys.


As I've said, I fall pretty often. I've fallen down stairs numerous times--once in our previous town house when I got my heel caught in the overlong hem of some new pajama pants, another time at a friends house when the rise in the stairs (the height between steps) combined with a short tread (the amount of "rectangle" that you place your foot on) created a rather steep angle. Combine those dimensions with a large foot and you've got trouble. But I've also fallen "up" stairs--something that is a bit harder to accomplish. This was my first day of school when I was a junior in high school, I think. I was heading up to the second floor of our high school and I hooked my foot on the lip of the next stair tread up. I fell forward, losing my books in a nice, noticeable clatter. Naturally, I banged my knee on the stone steps and everyone around took a good look.

High schools are ripe for opportunities to embarrass yourself. My two best falls both took place on the grounds of the high school--though only one of the two happened when I was actually attending the school.

The number two fall occurred in the cafeteria, with maybe a third of my graduating class sitting down and eating. I had finished my meal and was taking my empty tray to the other end of the cafeteria to drop off at the kitchen. Wending my way through the snarl of chairs, pushed out from the long tables at all angles, I caught my foot on the leg of one of the chairs. Once again, I was not able to right my trip and landed flat on my face with a emphatic whump. But even better, in my attempt to halt my fall, I flung my hands out in front of me, losing my grip on the lunch tray in the process. It sailed through the air, clattered on the lunch room floor as only those pressed plastic trays can, and sliiiiiid along. I got up, dusted myself off and tried not to notice that everyone was looking. I should have turned tail and ran for it, but being a conscientious boy, I walked to where my tray had slid (conveniently under the chair of a girl I knew), knelt down, picked it up, and continued on my way to put my tray down.

Honestly, I worry about doing this at the office cafeteria on an almost daily basis as I walk from the cash register to the table that we habitually occupy. So far I've managed to avoid a repeat performance. If it does occur, I can only hope that I fall on the sound dampening carpet and most of my coworkers are trying to watch CNN or something.

Today at church, I was acting as a chalice bearer--giving wine to people after they received their communion wafer. But the few simple steps from the altar, down the steps to the church floor is always another source of fear for me. I literally feel my legs stiffen when I do the simple act of turning to head TO the stairs. My feet and ankles feel unnatural and I'm incredibly self conscious of everything I do while I'm up there in people's field of vision. Nothing bad has happened yet, but I do have a church fall from my youth that gives me more reason to think. It was a Saturday night service and I was an altar boy. During the offertory, I went down the the front of the altar to receive the collection basket. I turned to walk back up the steps and hooked my foot in the hem of the cassock (the white robe-like garment that altar boys wear). I stumbled and fell to my knees (not in a worshipful way or anything), twisting as I went down. As our priest humorously noted, I managed NOT to spill any of the money we gathered that night. But I did bang my knee. Thank God I didn't swear or anything.

But none of these tales compares to the most spectacular fall of my lurch-filled life. This one, as I said above, occurred on the grounds of the high school--the football stadium to be precise. I was in junior high. It was a Saturday. I was attending the marching band competition that my hometown sponsored during those years. It was after lunch and there was a band performing on the field. Our stadium's home side bleachers has a concrete expansion above the traditional metal bleachers near the field. I was sitting in the upper areas of the concrete area, near the press box. I decided to go down the stairs, through the tunnel to get a coke and some peanut M&Ms. As I went down the steps toward the tunnel that led to the backside of the stadium stands, I got crossed up with my feet. [SIDE NOTE: The steps that constituted the aisles of the concrete part of the stadium were of two types. The main step was as wide and as deep as the aisle itself. But between these main steps was a "secondary step" that had a shorter tread (remember, this is the length of the step that your foot lands on)]. I don't know why they wouldn't make every step uniform. They were probably trying to save moment on materials or something. Certainly, not one else had ever had a problem . . . but this day would be the first.

I went down the steps too quickly, I admit it. (You would think that I would know better, given my history.) But somewhere down the steps, I missed on, then another, then two, then four. Soon I was missing whole segments of the stairs and my stumble turned into a fall, turned into a full on gymnastic forward roll. (Remember, if you please, that this is occurring on concrete.) I must have done most of this airborne, since any normal person doing this would have broken something on that hard surface. But I stumbled, bumbled, rumbled down the steps--while a band is performing remember--and ended up flat on my back with my feet sticking up toward the press box and my head toward the field. And yes, that is the opposite of how I began. Somewhere in the midst of the fall, I rolled past another innocent patron sitting in a seat along the aisle. I must have kicked her Coke out of her hand as I fell past, though I don't know how I missed kicking her in the head. But as I gazed up toward the sky, the press box, and the upper edge of the stadium wall, I could see in the foreground, the stunned expression of the person I had just deprived of a drink. Her hand was still frozen in the air, trying to hold onto the cup that was no longer there, her hand shaped in a futile cylinder. (No, I didn't buy her a replacement . . . but I now realize I should have.)

Amazingly, I didn't break anything, I hardly bruised anything--except my tender ego. I should have apologized for the band that wasn't planning on having their drum solo interrupted by a medical emergency. (They asked for a doctor over the P.A. system while the show continued.) An adult chaperon, some local volunteer and band parent showed up and asked me all the appropriate questions--"What day is it? What is your name? How many fingers . . ." I just wanted to get up and get the hell out of there, limping away into the rest of my pathetic day, though I suspect that I had ridden my bike to the school and would have to pedal back slowly on sore legs. But they weren't about to let me leave. The parent assisted my up, down the tunnel ramp, and into an area with some cots that had been set up for anyone dealing with heat problems--South Georgia Saturdays combined with old wool/polyester band uniforms sometimes resulted in heat stroke. They laid me on a cot, gave me something cold to drink, and made me rest for ten minutes. After this time they were satisfied that I was alright, and I limped away in semi-shame.

A few of my friends, who was witnessed the event from other, more distant seats in the stadium, caught up with me the Monday after. A few joked that they thought I had died. (If only, I thought at the time.) But no, not dead, just embarrassed. Number 12 in an endless series, apparently.

So, tonight is nothing new and I'm sure won't be the last. But it's only going to get worse as I get older. I said to Lynda tonight as I stood up and she gave me a hug "You've got to be prepared now. When I turn sixty, I'll break every bone in my body five times over."

Bring on the hip braces!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To Do

I've been chipping away at the To Do List that I created for myself when my paternity leave started.

Most of the tasks were small--complete Grace's Kindergarten registration paperwork, fix the wonky drawer guides on one of the bookcases, return unsatisfactory pillows. Most of them I've accomplished in the last few days. Lynda and the girls have helped out as well. I still have some of the larger tasks yet to do--get 2nd estimate on replacing the deck with a patio, etc.

But I've kept busy today. I took Grace to her gymnastics lesson today (after taking Sarah to her soccer game last night). Grace's class is very introductory right now, but I was inwardly laughing when the teacher was giving them instructions on the various movements they should practice on the different apparatuses (?). I can't speak for the other children out there, but I know that Grace has trouble (sometimes) following two simple instructional steps. And here the teacher was loading them up with what seemed like fifteen different things to do. Naturally, Grace performed very well because kids always do better listening to strangers than they do listening to parents. (I hold out strong hope that this will continue to hold true when kindergarten begins.)

You can see some videos taken last week of Grace in action to get a flavor of what's expected. I think she performed better and more independently today than the videos show.

For dinner tonight I got ambitious. I took advantage of the bread machine that our neighbor has been lending us and make a pizza dough. When Sarah and Grace got back from shopping with mom, we topped it with pepperoni, cheese, and mushrooms. The dough ended up tasting a bit more like biscuit than fluffy store bought dough, but the kids declared it delicious. I also busted out the grill for the first time and had some marinated steaks with corn on the cob.

It was all a success.

Now I've got to clean it all up.


Friday, April 11, 2008

PL, day 3

I'm currently enjoying the sound of a spring shower through the open window--or at least I would be enjoying that if there wasn't a police cruiser going through a nearby street wailing his siren on and off. Oh, and the persistent buzzing jangle of chainsaws. It seems that one of my neighbors is getting dead tree limbs removed by professionals. They've been at it all morning.

But, I'm in shorts, enjoying fresh air in an airy house. Hannah is dozing in her swing after a lunchtime 4 ounces. The dishwasher is empty; the laundry is almost up-to-date, and I had a good walk this morning.

You may recall that I pledged to blog more and walk every day during my paternity leave. So far I've done pretty well. I can't say that my blog posts have been scintillating descriptions of excitement, but at least I've churned out something every day. (I've just got to either find more interesting things to do or use better adjectives.) My walking has been a bit less steady--though only a bit less. I walked on day 1 and Hannah cried most of the way. I never found the opportunity to walk on day 2 since grocery shopping and early afternoon napping took precedence. Today, we hit the sidewalks around 10 am while the sun was still out. H. obliged by sleeping the entire time--a first!--and I took advantage. Normally I only push her patience up to the edge of our neighborhood and back down again--about 12 to 15 minutes round trip. But today I ventured outside the street boundaries, down the block, and around a back street entrance. I managed to listen to almost all of NPR's "Fresh Air" podcast during the trip, so it took about 40 minutes. I was very pleased to get out and get some vigorous effort and air completed.

This evening Sarah has her first official soccer game. (I'll be sure to provide a picture of her in her awesome jersey.) But I'd better take a picture before the game, because if they do play, it'll be on a muddy field. I wonder if they are going to call it off, but I can't assume anything. If they do play, I hope the field isn't a total disaster, because that might slow Sarah's enthusiasm down a bit. (I don't think she's a big fan of being muddy.) But, we'll see.

As always, tune in later to see what happens next. Sorry, no new dreams today since Hannah slept straight on from midnight to 6:30. (That was an unexpected gift!) Also sorry that I messed with my blog HTML last night, adjusting the look of a few sidebar designs and text colors. As a result, my label cloud isn't functioning properly. I'll carve out time this weekend to search for what I did wrong and hopefully by Monday all will be right again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

PL, day 2

Last night was hectic, but successful.

I got the girls to their dentist appointment a few minutes late. We had to drive from the daycare back across town, through the beginnings of early rush hour Westerville traffic--which isn't much except for around our building/interstate exchange--and to the dentist, which (logically?) is tucked away inside the Sears hardware section of the mall. (We had to shift family dentistry thanks to new HMO regulations.)

But got there I did, with all three girls. Then things ground to a quick halt. The first thing I had to do was rapidly fill out paperwork while Hannah voiced her displeasure. Grace did a good job of trying to entertain H. while I quickly scribbled. But the other patrons had to put up with some squalling. It took a while for Sarah to get called and even longer for Grace. Lynda showed up about halfway through to help out, but it was still about 1.5 hours before Sarah was finished, changed into soccer clothes and the two of us were off to her practice.

It was a pretty, if chilly night. Sarah did a great job at this practice. She was much more engaged than I've seen her in the previous practices, going after the ball and even kicking it into the "goal." I wonder how she'll do at the first official game tomorrow night (if the weather doesn't postpone it).

By the time practice was up, quick dinner was eaten, and we were home again, it was time for a shower, homework, then twenty minutes of reading and coloring for both Grace and Sarah. Lynda--a bit due to circumstances and a bit due to urging on my (and her mother's) part--didn't do any work last night.

I was up with Hannah a few times during the early morning hours. You can read about the oddities of that here.

This morning was uneventful. Hannah has been very good so far. We made it to the grocery store and back this morning without too much drama. She cried a bit, but slept through a lot of the trip. Since I've been home, she's been sleeping, which allowed me to put the groceries away and eat my own lunch.

In non-child news, today is the opening day of the Master's golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. I've been to the Augusta course once. While in college, my infamous roommate G acquired "press" badges from his Augusta-living father. So, we were able to walk the course early Saturday morning before the weekend tee-offs began. It is a very pretty course and I would like to go back sometime when I can actually watch the players competing. But just being there was pretty fun. The fact that we had CBS press badges could/should have led to some interesting shenanigans, if we had pressed our luck. I guess it would have allowed us access to some media places . . . at least until someone got wise and came after us. But we were good boys and didn't tempt the fates. (G's dad was volunteering with CBS during that week, as some native Augustinians (?) do.

Well, that's it for now. Hannah will be waking up for her lunch soon and then it'll be closing in on time to pick other kids up from school.

(Ain't my life interesting?)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More help on surviving the LOST hiatus

Only a few more weeks until the final five episodes of LOST season 4 arrive.

(LOST will return on April 24.)

But there is lots of fun stuff out there to give you a LOST fix.


Every fan of the show knows that the situation and plot is confusing.

But did you know that YOU aren't the only one confused?

(This is what happens when castaways refuse to talk openly to one another. Mass confusion!)

Charleton Heston, RIP

I know that Moses returned to the great gun range in the sky this past weekend. I know that I am not being timely with this post, but, well, I guess I have no excuse.

But when someone this Hollywood famous dies, all eyes rightly turn to Mr. Cruise.

I admit that I didn't have a good explanation for why Tom would take out The Omega Man, but then Shirtless reminded me of a crucial point. Maybe Cruise wasn't the trigger man this time. Perhaps one of his Scientologist minions did it. This made some sense to me, especially when it was pointed out that there have persistent rumors that Will Smith was introduced to Scientology and might now be a Scientologist.

Think of it. Will (I Am Legend) Smith is one of the most respected names in Hollywood. Everybody loves him--even me. But, if he had fallen under the Scientology spell, then who knows? And given that Smith's most recent big time film was I Am Legend, which was a remake of Heston's Omega Man, then things begin to mesh in what you could call a convincing way . . . but maybe not, since it turns out that Smith is trying his best to say he is NOT a Scientologist.

So, what to believe, right? I mean, for every post or website saying that Smith is a Scientologist, you'll find another saying he's NOT a Scientologist. The Internets are not for trusting, I guess. Look at me after all. Periodically, my straight laced and all true blog is infected with the Tom Cruise insanity.

And if you can't always trust me, then obviously, you can't trust anybody.

But, if you use this as an excuse NOT to accept that big Hollywood film . . . well, I won't blame you. Besides, anything might trigger Cruise.


Well, it has begun . . . and well enough so far. (No one has caught on fire and I've only had a little bit of formula burped up on my shoulder.)

Yes, Hannah isn't really spitting up--projectile emissions and such. She never has. But, it was a funny moment at her noonish feeding when she made a slightly different sound then normal and I felt a slight warmish wetness on my left shoulder. I made the comment to her that it would serve me right to get her when she starts a pattern of spitting up. But, no . . . just a minor reflux.

She's swinging away in her swing--as one should in a swing--dozing. She's been bothered with what seems to be slight congestion the last few days. I don't know if its just a bit of a cold, a reaction to seasonal change, or (worst case scenario) an allergic reaction. But, she might not sleep soundly or for very long as a result. I may have to dash off the keyboard any second now . . .

. . .

. . . well, not yet anyway.

Took Lynda's mom to the airport mid morning. Pushed Hannah in the stroller for a bit, taking my time getting back to the van. She has no appreciation for airports, architecture, escalators, sculptural, or the mechanisms of transportation. Frankly, no one at the airport did. But, it was an outing and us stay-at-home dads need our outings. (Just wait, soon a trip to the post office will be a thing of beauty.)

Lynda's mom got off without problem--I think. (Except for the minor problem that Skybus went Chapter 11 mid visit and she had to purchase a return ticket on a different airline, but hey, she learned something about appreciating modern transportation, right?

(Hannah cries . . . told you . . . more later?)

It is now LATER

Hannah did not take her noonish nap, so I took her on a walk up and down the street instead. She did not appreciate this. She showed her displeasure by fussing and crying through major parts of the walk--which only took about ten minutes at most. Still, I ignored her protests and kept walking. How else will I shed my hibernation weight and fit into that swimsuit later this summer?

When we got back from our short walk, H. continued to fuss. I let her go for a bit, thinking maybe she was just cranky, but it didn't die, so I gave her an afternoon bottle. She's been showing a reluctance to finish an entire bottle the last few days. Either her congestion is making drinking and breathing simultaneously difficult (that would be problematic, right?) or . . . well, I don't know what else it could be. I can think of all manner of things--allergy, sudden dislike of Similac, general obstinacy, has decided she doesn't want more than two oz. of food during the middle of the night, she's lycanthropic--it could be anything. Being a parent of an infant tends to be a lot of guesswork, I think, no matter how many children you might have. Each of them reacts to stuff differently.

But, right now she might be drifting into a needed nap. She's been mostly awake since 10 am. And I'll be waking her up soon anyway to pile back into the van and get the girls from school. Then it's off to get their teeth cleaned and then it's directly to Sarah's soccer practice. Somewhere in there Lynda has promised to arrive and liberate Hannah from the mix and I'll take S & G to practice, then to a quick dinner. Then home, homework, baths, books, bed.

That's the plan anyway.

I'll let you know tomorrow if stuff works out as indicated.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Frak YES!

The Sci-Fi channel's remake of the craptastic 1978 "Battlestar Galactica" TV series begins its fourth and final season tonight.

The new show is dark, seamy, and whipcrack smart, and does the best job of a sci fi show since the late, lamented "Firefly" on showing how objects actually operate in a zero gee space environment. (And it helped popularize a way to swear in public without offending anyone!)

If you have the Sci Fi channel on your cable system, please tune in tonight at 10 pm to enjoy.

But, you don't have to take MY word for it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The shift is on

I got off work early today to take Hannah to her 2 month checkup. (She's fine, by the way; gaining weight and increasing her head circumference as needed or even faster than needed. My girls have always been ahead of the curve in infant weight gain.)

So, that's all good news. She did get her shots today, which often means bad news. She might be crank from the pain and vaccinations sickening her slightly but at most that might only last a day or so.

Though she won't remember this, the shots come at the time when Lynda is shifting away and I'm starting to take over. Yes, Lynda's maternity leave is over and her first day back at work was today. (I won't begin my 15 days of paternity leave until middle of next week, since Lynda's mom flew back into town to spend some more quality time with her granddaughters.)

But the transition from Mommy to Daddy is beginning. I resolve to take Hannah for walks every day, for my benefit and for hers. I hope I can exercise my weight down a bit as the weather is now warming up and such things are possible. Poor Lynda had to handle things when it was bitter cold and snowy. But, Daddy continues to be luck in all things.

I also hope to blog more than I have been recently--as long as Hannah continues to sleep well in the mornings. I know I haven't been providing much new content lately, but I want to make that change.

In that spirit, let me talk for a few minutes about Sarah's soccer team practice last night. You might wonder (some of you might) what it is like to watch ten elementary school girls experience the technicalities of soccer (or any sport really) for the first time. I liken it to sitting down to watch a movie, but also having the director stop the final cut and adjusting the camera angle, talking things over with the assistant directors and the actors in the scene, and providing a running commentary of the action at the same time. In short, its a tedious process where much is discussed and adjusted, but everything goes at one-quarter speed and little is finally accomplished. (Maybe it best resembles the corporate work environment?)

Anyway, these are still just practices. I wonder if this interrupting, learning style will be prominent in the actual games which begin in two weeks. (Please note that I am not meaning to be critical here of the coach--I wouldn't want/couldn't do his job. I just find the absence of actual game flow to be remarkable . . . absent.)

In other things about the soccer experience, I could not be happier. Sarah is outside, running, (a bit . . . since the games are very stop and start, as I mentioned) and her team just decided that they are to be christened the Blue Dolphins. So, last night I took her blue soccer jersey and got her name and number put on the back. So SARAH will proudly sport the awesome number 9 3/4 and I give virtual high fives to whomever among you can suss out the significance of THAT numeral. (Just know that Sarah and I are particularly happy about our little inside joke.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Release Day!

Did you know that R.E.M. has released a new album?


It's called "Accelerate"--their fourteenth (??) studio album.

As you know, if you have been reading this space since the beginning, I've been a long time fan of the boys from Athens, GA. Through the good albums, the great albums, the mediocre albums, and the disappointing ones, I've faithfully purchased, listened, and evaluated.

I read a review of "Accelerate" during one of the first late night sessions with Hannah back in February. If I remember correctly, the reviewer said it was straight ahead, R.E.M. rock like the old days. (He asserted that this was definitely a GOOD thing, redressing a bit of a mistaken path with "Around the Sun," a point I can't argue against.)

Anyway, I put in my preorder at iTunes and was rewarded with a pre-download of "Supernatural Superserious," the first single--if such a thing exists in this digital music model. (I don't listen to music stations on the radio, so I can't claim to know if it's been played.) I've enjoyed listening to it and today, I downloaded the entire album. I've given it about 2.25 listens so far and I can agree that it is definitely a more aggressive, quick-tempoed album with more style than their last few efforts.

So, in the spirit of a new release, I'm going to try and go back to remember the day that I first heard past R.E.M. albums.

Around the Sun: I don't have a lot of specific memories of this day, except to note that I remember leaving work to buy it at a big box store near work. (This was before I got the iPod and started downloading albums. So, this might have been the last "hardback" CD that I purchased? Well, no, that's a nice story, but it isn't true. I've purchased several Wizard Rock CDs since then. Oh well.) Anyway, this was the album around which I attended my latest R.E.M. concert. Though I haven't loved this album as much, I did enjoy the concert--and I was introduced to Now It's Overhead that night also.

Reveal: I have even less memories about the day I first heard this album. I guess that points to the lack of overall impact that these albums have made upon me?

Up: Back during my days at OSU, I heard a positive review of Up on NPR while I was driving home from campus. I remember very clearly that I was heading down the hill out of Grandview toward the interstate onramp to I-70. The radio review called out some technique of "Falls to Climb"--maybe my favorite song on the album--as a way of showing how R.E.M. was learning to adjust to life as a trio following the loss of drummer Bill Berry to a brain aneurysm during the previous album's European tour. ANYWAY . . . you can see that I liked this album, since I have such a vivid and specific memory about it.

I admit that Up was the beginning of a new band, and that this version of the group would later release their two weakest albums. But, I liked Up's style and sound.

New Adventures in Hi Fi: I've always been underwhelmed by this one, but I have always loved the visceral thump of "Leave," a song that has the kind of fuzzy guitar, distortion, and feedback that the band first embraced in Monster. This album is also significant in my R.E.M. history because it was the first one I bought in CD form. Hi Fi was something of a Live album, recorded during tours. It has it's aggro charm, but it's never been a strong favorite for me.

Monster: I bought this one while I was in grad school at Georgia Southern University. I listened to it, crammed in the multi-desked closet of the grad student office in our crappy history department building on the outskirts of campus. (GSU was growing and expanding during those years, so our "building" on the outskirts of the campus was really a temporary building--nothing more than a glorified, large, multi-halled trailer-type of structure. Such is the stature of the social sciences in the academic world. Even when the department "qualified" for a new building a few years later . . . it was just a better version of a newer temporary building.)
ANYWAY . . . the grad office was insanely small, just big enough to cram one, two, three, four, five desk into the space facing every which way. But we had fun when we were all in there between classes, talking about who remembers what. What I do remember, other than the fact that I bought Monster in cassette form . . . and that I very much enjoyed the "hard-rock style" of these songs . . . was that some of the grad students (in Georgia remember) amused themselves during off hours by having gun target practice and running contests with each other to grow the best Gettysburg-inspired beard. (Please note that I didn't participate in either of these contests.)

Out of Time: This one might be the most "important" release remembrance for me. I definitely know that I listened to "Losing My Religion" on a continuous loop in the dorm room that I shared with The Infamous G. I probably drove him up the wall, but he'd return the favor later. Of course, what makes this most important is that I met Lynda during this time, so that is probably affecting my opinions here. I'll still never forget a story relating to the video for "Losing My Religion." I showed it to mom during one trip home from college and she said that she enjoyed it--especially how Jesus was always back there in the background while Stipe was singing. After watching the video to try and figure out what she was referring to, I realized she was mistaking guitarist Peter Buck for Jesus. (Look around the 3:00 minute mark to see what I mean.) Just watching this video again and reveling in the clothes, hair--back when Stipe still HAD hair--makes me miss this medium-age R.E.M. a bit. This was when the band stopped being mine and became national. But, it was a great time, with a very good album. The group was beginning its second transition--from the a) original mumbly band of the early 1980s to the b) stridently political, yet mostly unknown band of the late Reagan years into c) the definitive 90s college band with the newly minted "alternative" label.

Green: My last few years of high school was when I fully embraced R.E.M. as "my" band . . . and all that this entailed in a South Georgia town that loved heavy metal (Metallica, Guns n Roses) and country (Randy Travis, the beginnings of Garth Brooks). I gained a bit of notoriety among some kids for seeing the group in concert in Atlanta during this tour. (And yet, throughout the night, I--foolishly--kept hoping they'd play songs from their first few albums. Even then, way before the possibility existed, we fans were preparing for the eventual threat of selling out. I'll say that I never really accused the boys of being sell outs. In fact, I've always given them credit for adjusting their sound and their inspirations. Really, I don't understand how people expect musicians to avoid this eventual change. R.E.M. has been operating for about thirty years and the band members have gone from college-aged to middle-aged. How can this NOT result in musical/inspirational changes?

Green was the band's first real shot at national pre-eminence. I distinctly remember purchasing it at the Peppermint Record store in the pitiful mall of Tifton, Georgia. (My hometown is not/was not/will never be a hotbed of musical innovations.) I guess I was lucky to find a copy. But I loved this album, though I did withhold affection for it's most famous track ("Stand") for many years. I suppose I was resisting the growing popularity that this song generated for the band's overall profile. I guess I was wanting to say, "Don't judge the band by this song. Go back and listen to 'Fall on Me' or 'The One I Love' or 'Swan Swan H.'"

ANYWAY . . . one final note. 

I can end this post with Green AND talk of earlier albums and songs because this post is about purchasing newer albums on their day of release. I was first introduced to the band via MSquared, who was attending Georgia Tech in the early 80s when R.E.M. was recording their I.R.S. label albums--excellent ones, all. So, I first listened to Document and Life's Rich Pageant, and those two albums are probably closest to my fan's heart. But I didn't originally purchase those initial discs. Do you see? I am NOT a hypocrite.

(ANYWAY . . . go, give Accelerate a listen. It's a welcome return to form.)

Hannah speaks up

Hannah dancing with Dad