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.