“I’m on fire!” – Caolan (aka Smalls), 8 Year Old Gamer

As I sit here, shades open, the computer sitting at the bar in my kitchen playing the new Rancid album, the shouts and laughter of two rambunctious eight year old best friends playing Plants VS Zombies in the next room, I know that my life is exactly where I never, ever imagined it would be, and that this is the closest to happy I’ve maybe ever been. As a kid, I just always assumed I’d move to New York City and become a starving writer working at a shit job. It turns out that to make this happen, you really need this thing called ambition, and I don’t exactly have that quality in spades. I guess I’d like to think it’s not that I’m not ambitious, but that it just wasn’t the reality that I really wanted, instead more an ideal that would never live up to the dream I’d set in my head. Turns out, there are a lot of things in life that we build up so much, the reality can never compare, thus the death of dreams. I’ve always called this idea the Problem of Christmas. Think about it: months of time and energy and money and thought spent for like an hour, if not less, where we spend a few minutes together buying into the idea of consumerism and trying not to show our dissatisfaction when the people who are supposed to know us best, get us something that proves they have no clue what we like and vice versa. Minutes that have been built up over months time; how can this ever live up to the ideal? Now, I’ve made my peace with Christmas and the whole season, but that’s something for another day. My points even elude me on most days, but what I’m trying to get at is the idea that plans don’t always work out, paths lead to completely different places, and for me, it’s this amazing idea that I’ve been on this crazy, random journey that led me right back to the place where I first felt comfortable, first felt like the me I have become. Home has come when I was least expecting it. A child’s laughter. Reading Harry Potter and Percy Jackson aloud. Watching The Goonies and The Princess Bride and Stand By Me and witnessing my child falling in love the way I did. The highs made higher by the lows and the depressions.

It is the unexpected I’ve come to fall in love with, the little moments that make up the vast portions of life. The sound of two best friends, laughing and shouting as they play video games, while I sit sipping coffee, knowing how damn lucky I am to just recognize these moments, when some days, it’s difficult to see past the shit/depressing/stress insert negative adjective here stuff.

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The Things We Lose

See, there’s not a lot sometimes. There’s not a lot that keeps a person going. There’s the important things: a child, family, friends.

And sometimes these are what serve to make a person who feels like a shit person, feel like more of a shit person. Why aren’t you better, more, softer.

There are a lot of these in life, these hindrances that subtract: alcohol, money, owning anything, a purchase. Something spent. Nothing gained. A drink. A lost night.

I also have the other things, the positives: There is music. There are words, the poetry, fiction, songs. The things others have made, the things I have made.

The things I have made.

You can’t fake what you’ve never had, and I think when you’re young, you’ve had it more than when you’re older. It’s new, the first time, the most potent and the most painful. It’s the young musician, singing about love, singing about heartache, the writer who is writing about loss. Have you felt the loss? Have you felt it more potently than as a youth?

Listen. We’ve all felt it.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe in my mid life crisis. Youth.

It isn’t about what I’ve never had these days. It’s about what I’m losing. It’s about all I’ve experienced that will never be again.

Summer Break Bucket List

I am on summer break.

Just saying it like that makes me feel ten years old, creates this amazing sense of excitement for the myriad of possibilities. In an effort to not let the time pass too quickly without having a bit of fun, my son and I have compiled a Summer Break 2017 Bucket List. We did this once before, a much shorter one, for spring break earlier in the year. It was amazing!

So, what is on our Summer Break 2017 Bucket List? A whole lot of awesome, that’s what!

The To-Do’s of Summer 2017

  • At home DIY science experiments – we’re making some slime and we’re making some chemical reactions
  • Listen to new songs and create a summer break playlist on Spotify (thus far)
    • Agnostic Front – Gotta Go
    • The Vandals – Come Out Fighting
    • Jake Bugg – The Love We’re Hoping For
    • Jake Bugg – What Doesn’t Kill You
    • Mischief Brew – Thanks, Bastards!
  • Practice riding 2 wheel bike
  • Practice and learn how to swim (hopefully I can arrange lessons at the college for him)
  • Make a dessert together – We made pudding today, but I’m thinking cookies soon
  • Go geocaching around the city
  • Go to a Loons baseball game
  • Tridge/Dow Gardens – (indefinitely postponed due to flooding)
  • Build an EPIC blanket fort and play games/read Percy Jackson
  • Do summer reading program at library
  • Go to Lansing for breakfast at the greatest breakfast place ever: The Golden Harvest (I cannot wait to share this amazing place with the person I love the most!)
  • Go to the airport and watch the planes land with snacks/picnic
  • Take a trip to Grand Haven and visit friends and the beach
  • Make a fun T-shirt, like glow in the dark
  • Make a bottle rocket because rockets are awesome
  • Have an epic Nerf gun battle – which we did and was a blast!
  • Coffee shop for games and treats (this is always a great way to get out of the house)
  • Thrilling Thursday for fun, free activities down town
  • Play Kinect Sports together – (I got demolished in boxing yesterday)
  • Make a dinner together that is not pizza
  • Movie and popcorn camp out on the floor
  • Go to the splash pad (indefinitely postponed due to the massive flooding in the city)
  • Volunteer at the Humane Society (Smalls is reading to the pups and he loves it!)
  • Go to the Soda Shoppe at the drugstore (a huge success for an old school chocolate shake)

This is the list we compiled with a little help from our online community. There are so many ways to spend time with a child or your family, and this, for me, is a great way to make sure I don’t allow us to waste our time, because it is so easy to just say, ‘oh, lets do that tomorrow. We have time.’ Time doesn’t really work that way. Also, there’s just something so damn fulfilling about crossing stuff off of a list.

Some days, Smalls and I chill and watch YouTube music videos together. It’s a way for me to relate to him and share some of the music that means a lot to me. Another thing we’ve been doing for the last few years is reading series books together. Well, I should say I’ve been reading and he listens. I read all of the Harry Potter books aloud, with accents, for two and a half years. After we finished, we started on Percy Jackson, and I feel like this tradition is something that we will always have together, memories that will be with us all of life. I guess what I mean to say is that a bucket list isn’t the only way to make sure we have fun, but it certainly does have a way of pushing us out of our comfort zone (which is important), and exposing us to things we may not even know we like. I’ve never geocached, don’t know how to do it, but I know there’s an app to download, and I know it will be an adventure.

Here’s to summer break and adventures, and having the amazing opportunity to spend it with my son.

The Effects of Time

Talk about quitting
Drink some coffee
Excuses are so easy
Sitting on a bar stool
Sifting through memory

All of my idols smoked
Quitting is so easy
When the options are
Given to leaving
Walking away

That day
Tiny apartment
A box of cheap wine
In a plastic skull wine glass
Modest Mouse
Bukowski’s Factotem open
Alone in a plastic chair

The product of
Stray thoughts
The grains of memory
A bottle rocket in the backyard
A chemical reaction

The line of a song
Played on repeat
The skipping of a record
The nerves
When the heart skips a beat

Spring Moments and The Robin

Free camo camp chairs and
The cool breeze
Uline branded on the backs
Glass bottle sodas and
Time spent side by side
A huge robin lands in the grass
Rust breast
And you point
Whisper
“Look, but be very quiet”
We stare at nature
Lilacs and tulips
Goose flesh on my legs
And he flies away
And we sit back
Pick up our books
Refocused
Quietly passing moments
From the brains
Of different people

I Write Haikus Not About Nature

We Become Who We Are, Who We Were, When We Listen
Friday night I drink
And listen to NPR
Tiny Desk Concerts

The Utility Bill Guy Was Awkwardly Attractive And I Probably Spelled His Name Wrong
Zach knocked on my door
Had questions about my gas
Utility bill

Strep Throat Doesn’t Actually Steal Your Soul Unless It’s Some Spell That An Ex Casts That Is Specifically A Strep Throat Soul Stealing Spell
Strep is a shit guy
Who takes and takes and wants more
Like maybe your soul

That Year Spiders Plotted To Take My House, and Invited The May Flies Along For The Ride
Spiders in my house
They gather where the wall meets
Ceiling, and they plot