Manual

Monday, 12 September 2016

I held 
hurt
birds

I held 
handfuls 
of orphan mice

I held
a lame
rabbit kit
shrilling

I was a small
child
beholding
small things

I was a small
god
holding 
fearful congregations

I keep learning 
that
love cannot
be held

only empty
hands
can do the 
work

Week in Review

Saturday, 10 September 2016

  • I try to add a bit of va­ri­ety to my in­ges­tion of news & po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary by read­ing pub­li­ca­tions that I con­sid­er to be a bit ex­treme, but still rel­a­tive­ly rea­son­able. So I sub­scribe to Reason for lib­er­tar­i­an po­si­tions & Jacobin (“Reason in Revolt”, lol) for so­cial­ist ones. Something they have in com­mon is that they on­ly play one tune: “here are the rea­sons [what­ev­er is in the news] isn’t [libertarian/​socialist] enough for us”. It gets old quick­ly, and I’ve found my­self skip­ping most of what they post.
  • A guy at a GetGo com­pli­ment­ed me on my sun­glass­es, which I picked be­cause they were as close to Isaac Hayes sun­glass­es as I could find that would al­so take a pre­scrip­tion. I re­al­ly wish I could af­ford, and had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to rock Cazal’s but I guess I might as well get crazy and wish to get some­thing made by Maison Bourgeat while I’m at it..
  • It is very dif­fi­cult for me to read mod­ern po­et­ry in bites larg­er than one po­em a day. I can’t fig­ure out why read­ing stuff old­er than the past 10 years is so much more con­sum­able to me.
  • I’ve re­al­ized that for awhile I was kin­da “dressed by the in­ter­net”. I think I’ve toned that down a bit, but it’s still pret­ty damned hard to find #menswear in­for­ma­tion that isn’t more cos­tume than style. Permanent Style is great for be­spoke, best in class, sub­tle lux­u­ry & fit-re­lat­ed items — but I’ll nev­er af­ford be­spoke & the flannel-​trousers/​suede loafers “sprez­zat­u­ra” doesn’t fit my per­son­al­i­ty. Put This On is en­joy­able, but they al­so fo­cus on main­tain­ing a clas­sic fash­ion sense. Well Spent oc­ca­sion­al­ly has good finds but their house look is es­sen­tial­ly the Pumpkin Spice Latte of menswear. I’d like HYPEBEAST if there weren’t 500 posts about shoes & Kanye every day. I kind of read them all and try to take ap­pro­pri­ate bits and pieces, but it is all way too rules-based and none of it re­al­ly show­cas­es unique looks and dif­fer­ent styles.
  • I guess I like va­ri­ety, and with the in­creas­ing spe­cial­iza­tion of “con­tent cre­ators”, I have to work hard­er than I think I should to find it.
  • “Content Creator” as a self-de­scribed job-ti­tle might be the worst in­vent­ed job ti­tle of all time.
  • I’ve been catch­ing up on my mag­a­zine back­log. My goal is to be caught up ful­ly by the new year.
  • I’m re­al­ly start­ing no­tice class priv­i­lege as part of my son’s school­ing. The stu­dents are pret­ty  much ex­pect­ed to have their own com­put­er and mo­bile de­vice at home to in­ter­face with all the var­i­ous apps, sites, and sundry oth­er dig­i­tal as­sets they use for school­ing nowa­days.
  • I’m al­so try­ing to be less grouchy, but judg­ing by this post, I have work to do.

14788111

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