Brows

Thursday, 11 August 2016

I caught a glimpse of my life from the cor­ner of my eye the other day & re­al­ized I ap­pear to have be­come a care­fully dressed, quar­terly mag­a­zine-read­ing, European wagon-dri­ving, scotch-lov­ing, in­suf­fer­able, tweedy, bearded cliché.

I hate that. Problem is: I like all of those things. Even be­ing in­suf­fer­able. So yeah, I’ve got some cham­pagne tastes on a beer bud­get.

I’m try­ing to give my­self sparse so­lace be­cause while I ap­pear to be the cliché, my tem­pera­ment is dif­fer­ent. (I hope). I don’t like cool jazz, NPR, The New Yorker, or pretty much any other safe, soft, ac­cepted, lib­eral com­fort-blan­kets. After I stopped be­ing Actively Catholic®, I went to an Episcopal church for a bit, the mes­sage was good but the peo­ple were ag­gra­vat­ingly mil­que­toast about every­thing. To para­phrase some­thing some­one said some­time: The meek will in­herit the earth be­cause no one else will take it. That’s those peo­ple. God bless ‘em. No one else will.

Anyway, but. If you catch me out of the other eye-cor­ner, you’ll see a greasy-spoon eat­ing, dive bar planted, un­leashed dog walk­ing, win­dows open hol­lerin’ at my kid, shirt­less on the porch, filthy-jeaned, south­ern-drawl­ing met­al­head.

I love that. Problem is: ain’t al­most no one else does.

I some­times won­der what con­clu­sions peo­ple reach about me at work, but I’m too busy work­ing to care about it.

I like high brow. I like low brow. I pre­tend mid­dle­brow doesn’t ex­ist.

I have no other point.

If you need one then the point is that the world is messy & even when I re­ject stereo­types, I of­ten use them in the same breath. I’m un­re­pen­tant. I just try to im­prove.

Two Nights Only

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Check out these great pho­tos that Cleveland Public Library took while I was down­town this sum­mer writ­ing po­ems for their First Folio ex­hibit!

Free Poetry for Shakespeare

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Cleveland Public Library asked me to come do Poetry 4 Free in the Eastman Reading Garden on a cou­ple of dates this sum­mer as part of their cel­e­bra­tion of the Folger Shakespeare Library First Folio ex­hibit.

I had fun — it’s been a cou­ple of years since I was down­town writ­ing po­etry on the fly for folks, but I pretty much took right back to it. I wrote 11 Shakespeare-in­spired po­ems in 2 hours. Folks could ei­ther give me a fa­vorite pas­sage, or pick from a few that I had se­lected.

Por ejem­plo:

Some folks had no idea who Shakespeare was, and oth­ers re­lated hor­ri­fied anec­dotes from col­lege. A few peo­ple just grabbed a quote and took off with­out let­ting me write a poem for them. Everybody seemed like they were hav­ing a good time.

When the Cavs Won It All

Sunday, 19 June 2016

What will I re­mem­ber about to­day,
in this city
that takes every punch,
un­flinch­ing, on our chins;
that rises up from every blow,
stand­ing tall, cut-mouthed
against the world?

I’ll re­mem­ber
that this day is like
every other day
this city work­ing dou­bles
while you slept on it
this city skip­ping va­ca­tion
to get the job done
this city, la­conic, in­tractable
where we bow to no king
no, not even our own
this city of re­demp­tion
where we al­ways wel­come our sons home

Today, to­day
is for 
                YOU 
to re­mem­ber:

this city can al­ways say it left it all on the floor
this city where every stand is a last stand
this city where we pull for each other, ex­change 
blood-stained grins
and sing loud­est for the un­sung.

You had for­got­ten
what we’ve al­ways known
Cleveland is the city
filled with cham­pi­ons
and to­mor­row, 
we get back to work. 

Father’s Day

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

So hey, it’s nearly Father’s Day again. A day that is fraught for me — I know what stirs up the anx­i­ety and it’s mainly ig­no­rance at how well I’m do­ing my job.

I’ve cer­tainly writ­ten about it enough:

Being a dad is my fa­vorite thing and be­ing a sin­gle dad is a pretty tough job. I don’t know how much eas­ier it would be with a part­ner, so I don’t know how hard it is to be a dad in a nuclear/​whole fam­ily for­mat. The times I’ve had a part­ner that got to spend qual­ity time with my child, That third di­men­sion added a no­tice­able and healthy level of com­plex­ity to our lives. So I of­ten feel that that my father/​son dy­namic is two-di­men­sional in com­par­ison. We miss out on a lot to­gether be­cause I have to work, and main­tain a clean home, provide healthy meals, and struc­ture and adult in­struc­tion he doesn’t get else­where. I have a bit of guilt over this — I feel like the added level — that part­ner, that nu­clear fam­ily, is some­thing I should be able to provide to him.

Being a sin­gle dad is tough in weird ways. I’m not as self-con­scious as I was a few years ago about be­ing a sin­gle dad out with his kid. I don’t care — but I do no­tice the other sin­gle dads, and help out when I can by tak­ing pho­tos. I know those in­ter­nal mo­ments of cha­grin when you take a pic­ture of your kid do­ing some­thing mem­o­rable with no way to show that yes, you were there, you were the one to make it hap­pen. There also isn’t an emoji for sin­gle par­ents.

I also worry about him when he’s with his mom. We have di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed views on 99% of what is in his best in­ter­est. The only way to mit­i­gate is to lit­i­gate and I don’t make that kind of cash. I do my best to teach my son the skills he is not learn­ing else­where, and I must also keep rein on my­self so that I don’t try to over­com­pen­sate to solve for his other life.

I’m 20+ years out from hav­ing had any mean­ing­ful, non-far­ci­cal in­ter­ac­tion with my dad. I only have a sense of him from a 14 year old boy’s per­spec­tive — I’ve learned to be a man by trial and er­ror, and learned to be a fa­ther by be­ing not-my-fa­ther. Yet I’m smart enough to re­al­ize that “not-my-fa­ther” is a 14 year old’s shal­low un­der­stand­ing of fa­ther­hood. The only ways that I know I’m act­ing like my fa­ther are the only ways I knew my fa­ther acted when I was 14. I know I was a dis­ap­point­ment to him. I do not know if he was proud of me. I do not know if he had wis­dom to im­part to a grown son. I do not know the ways I am a re­flec­tion of him. I’ve asked fam­ily mem­bers to tell me how he was — or what they see of him in me, and haven’t got­ten the best an­swers.

My mom tried and failed to an­swer that ques­tion, no fault there — how does one an­swer it? But sweetly and clev­erly ap­proached it this year by send­ing me a photo al­bum of pic­tures of me and my dad — the most re­cent one over 25 years old. The al­bum is more than half empty. I can’t look at the pho­tos with­out cry­ing — and they are fa­mil­iar tears — they are the ones I get when­ever I’m ter­ri­fied that I’m not be­ing a best par­ent — when I lose my con­cep­tion of what it means to be a best par­ent — when I don’t know what to do to help my son grow into some­one brave, in­de­pen­dent, em­pa­thetic, lov­ing, and ca­pa­ble. The pic­tures show love, but what hap­pened to it? Where did it go? Being a fa­ther is high fuck­ing stakes, and I’ve al­ways hated sec­ond-rate, and not know­ing when the rules change.

I want to know these things about my fa­ther be­cause I have no fa­ther fig­ure to seek ad­vice from. I have three won­der­ful un­cles who each provide their own ex­cel­lent ex­am­ples of how to be a good fa­ther, but I don’t feel close enough, or safe enough, or like they un­der­stand me like a fa­ther would in or­der to ask for ad­vice. I’ve been per­fect­ing bravado since I gave up on my fa­ther at 14. I don’t know how an adult son ap­proaches a fa­ther. I’ve had no prac­tice be­ing the son in a healthy re­la­tion­ship, or hav­ing a healthy fa­ther. I feel bad that my son and I have to fig­ure this out to­gether. I don’t know, is it like that for every fa­ther?

Most of the peo­ple who tell me I’m a good fa­ther have had crummy fa­thers. I don’t know if that means any­thing, or if I’m just be­ing an ass.

Father’s Day is fraught be­cause my son has no one to teach him to honor his fa­ther. A fa­ther can’t do it — that’s nar­cis­sis­tic. He’s missed the prepa­ra­tions for sev­eral Father’s Days — all I want is a hand­made card and a candy bar — but I don’t blame him. Someone else should be teach­ing him to take care of that busi­ness. He’s only 8. There is zero fault for him in this — but it shows me that there are some things I can’t teach him, and that he won’t learn at all un­less there is some­one else to teach him. When my mom was up here a cou­ple of week ago I asked her to get him to work on a card while I ran er­rands. That’s the kind of stuff a sin­gle dad has to do.

He says he’s go­ing to be a sin­gle fa­ther, and adopt a daugh­ter and a son. They are go­ing to live on an ex­o­planet and I can come visit on a rocket when­ever I want. I know what all of that means, and I know the mean­ing of none of it.

The point that comes from all of this, if there is one, ap­pears to be a chronic, low-grade fever feel­ing that I am not giv­ing my son the best life that he de­serves. I doubt, I grope for tools I never saw used, and don’t know the name of. I work the skills I do have, but don’t have enough time to give him every­thing I want him to have. A healthy meal and emo­tional sup­port solve a lot, but not every­thing. I have him half of the time and that is just not enough for me to give him all he needs. I’m ef­fi­cient, but he’s a boy, not a process.

So there is it. I feel my best isn’t good enough — and I hate sec­ond-rate. What do I tell my­self?

Who cares? It doesn’t mat­ter. I don’t do this for glory, renown, or my own sat­is­fac­tion. I love my son. I do it for him.

So fresh and so clean clean.

A photo posted by Adam Harvey (@adamincle) on

Satiety

Friday, 13 May 2016

About a year ago I wrote about giv­ing up, and pro­ceeded to live a rel­a­tively monas­tic life for a the rest of 2015. My kith and kin were con­cerned that I was de­pressed. I don’t think I was, but I do think I might have been a bit bleak in my fram­ing. As I sat on my porch tonight, I lis­tened to Ali Farka Touré’s wan­der­ing gui­tar, drank some scotch, and pet my dog.

The only thing I missed was my son. Having him every day would be a dream come true, but 50% is the best I can hope for. I get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion from striv­ing to do well as a fa­ther and at my job. The rest of the things that I’d like but don’t have are no big deal — and that’s what gave me a thought that hap­pi­ness isn’t hav­ing every­thing you want — it’s ap­pre­ci­at­ing what you have in com­par­ison to what you don’t. It’s a round­about way of reach­ing a cliché, but it’s some­thing I needed to re­learn.

I don’t think it’s pos­si­ble to be happy un­less you’re miss­ing at least one big thing from your life. There’s no shape to what you have if you have every­thing — and try­ing to have every­thing usu­ally means that you cut cor­ners.

Happiness is pay­ing at­ten­tion to the shape of what you have, not the empti­ness around it.

Satiety is hav­ing enough, not hav­ing it all.

Food tastes bet­ter when you know you’ll be hun­gry to­mor­row.

I still miss my son.

I’m an Old Brooklyn Social Media Ambassador

Thursday, 28 April 2016

I met with some neigh­bors at the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation tonight to learn about their #what­sy­ourold­brook­lyn so­cial me­dia cam­paign. I signed up to be one of their lo­cal so­cial me­dia am­bas­sadors, was se­lected, and have now been ori­ented.

Having spent 4 years (mostly thank­less) pro­mot­ing Tremont out of good­will via Tremonter (I have no idea what the hell it is now, or who owns the do­main), I’m glad to be out of the driver’s seat and happy to help out do­ing — quite frankly — ex­actly what I’d be do­ing any­way. I also have more pow­er­ful tools in my pocket than were avail­able from 2004 – 2008.

I’ve only lived in Old Brooklyn since August 2015, but I like it here. It’s too big to be­come $450k con­dos sur­round­ing a street of $40-per-plate restau­rants like Tremont — and if there are fac­tions fight­ing over what “Old Brooklyn” means or should be, I am com­pletely obliv­i­ous to them. People keep their yards tidy, shop lo­cal, and chat with each other. I don’t feel like this neigh­bor­hood is try­ing to be a des­ti­na­tion. I feel, rather, as if it wants to be the place you come home to.

What I value in a neigh­bor­hood has changed, es­pe­cially now that I’m a dad. There’s a lot of au­then­tic­ity in this part of Cleveland, and a lot of his­tory, and I look for­ward to help­ing peo­ple dis­cover it. For the next 6 months, I’ll be do­ing so via Twitter (& Periscope), Instagram, Google+, and to a lesser ex­tent, Facebook and Snapchat (sci­u­rus). There might even be a lit­tle Poetry 4 Free ac­tion as well. And, of course, post­ing here on my weblog.

Feeling kind of nos­tal­gic. Should be good.