Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Dear Spike:

I've never seen someone vomit so much, so fast — and then immediately act as though nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred. By the time we'd changed your clothes, hosed off your pajamas, scrubbed down your body and washed out the blanket, you were back to bouncing on our bed like a trampoline.

And even though bouncing is probably what led to The Amazing Upchuck Incident of 2008 in the first place, we let you do it anyhow.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Dear Spike:

One day we will walk to the duck pond at the park. And you will see the limp and broken body of a bird, floating among the empty bottles and plastic bags and other garbage near the drainage pipes. And you will ask me what is wrong with the duck.

It is dead, I will say.

You will ask me what that means. I will do my best to tell you. And then you will ask me what happens when we die. And I will tell you the truth.

I don't know.


One day we will be reading the morning newspaper together. And we will come upon a story about a war. We will read of the fighting. And the hatred. And the killing. And you will ask me what it is like to go to war.

It is sad, I will say.

You will ask me why it is that people kill one another. And I will tell you the truth.

I dont know.


One day we will be leaving the parking lot at the market down the street. And you will spot a man on the corner holding a sign that reads: "Homeless and hungry." And you will ask me why the man has no home and no food.

He has no work, I will say.

You will ask me who is to blame. And I will tell you the truth.

I don't know.


One day you will come home from school with your mother. And you will hear us speaking in hushed tones about the call she made to the state's child protective services agency. And you will see the tears welling in her eyes.

You will ask me why your mother is sad. I will tell you it is because she loves her students so much and does not want for them to be hurt. You will ask whether there is anything else we can do to help.

There is not, I will say.

You will ask me why it is that some parents would hurt their children. And I will look deep into your eyes and tell you the truth.

I don't know. Oh God, I don't know.


One day you will ask me why checkers are black and red.

One day you will ask me how we know that dogs are colorblind.

One day you will ask me why birds like to poop on newly washed cars.

One day you will ask me why Band-Aids must hurt so bad when they come off.

One day you will ask me why some people snore when they sleep and some people don't.

One day you will ask me why there are so many magazines in the check-out line at the grocery store.

One day you will ask me how anyone ever managed to get picked up at the airport before we had mobile phones.

One day you will ask me why the sky is blue during the day and black at night and red and pink and purple in the times in between.

And I will tell you the truth.

I dont know.


I am not a stupid man, but I don't know far more that I do know. And the more I come to know, the more I come to know that is true.

This saddens me, a bit, for I would very much like to be able to answer all your questions in a way that will make you feel safe and confident and satisfied and happy. I do not want you to be scared. Or sad. Or angry. Or confused. Or worried.

But the fact is, I'm not going to be able to answer all of your questions.

The fact is, there is so much I simply don't know.

The fact is, there is really only one thing I can tell you for certain.


One day, our family will be walking through the park on a Sunday afternoon. And the carousel will be spinning. And the flag at the center of the park will be flapping gently in the warm breeze. And we will all be holding hands. And you will ask me whether our family is in love.

We are, I will say.

You will ask whether that will always be true. And I will stop and bend down to lift you in my arms and pull you tight into my chest. And I will tell you the truth.


I know.



Monday, April 28, 2008


Dear Spike:

Fourteen pounds.

For all our hopes, you didn't put on more than a few ounces over the past month. And so, alas, you remain a very small child. Still tiny but tough.

But given the start you had, you ain't done half bad for yourself. At 11 months, most babies weigh about two-and-a-half times what they weighed at birth. You're more than three times bigger than you were when you arrived.

I credit your mother's patience and persistence.

The past week has been tough on her, though. You've stopped showing any interest in breastfeeding. Kicked the habit cold turkey, you did. I'll never be able to understand bond that forms during nursing, of course, but I can see very clearly what it has meant to your mother over the past 11 months. And I also can see how sad she has been over losing that connection to you.

There's little I can do but be supportive, I suppose. And so I just keep reminding her what an amazing job she's done with you, quite litterally nursing you to health after such a scrawny little start.

I couldn't be prouder of either of you.

Nope. Couldn't be.


Sunday, April 27, 2008


Dear Spike:

I should be sleeping right now. It's late, it has been a busy weekend, and it is gonna be a long week.

But I can't sleep, because "The Empire Strikes Back" is playing and Luke Skywalker hasn't yet learned that Darth Vader is his father.

I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but you're a smart girl and probably will figure it out on your own anyway: If you're ever simply not in the mood to go to bed — and need a way to convince your father that you should be permitted to stay up way, way, way past your bed-time — just invite me to have an all-night Star Wars fest.

You bring the popcorn. I'll get the ice cream.


Saturday, April 26, 2008


Dear Spike:

Your mother and I went on a date this afternoon. Nothing wild — we just took in a movie, stopped by our favorite market and then went on ride around the city.

But we did it without you.

With your grandparents in town for the weekend we knew we'd have a chance to get out — just the two of us — while leaving you in the safest of safe hands. But it had been so long since we'd done anything like this that it almost felt like a first date. Heck, we were practically giddy.

OK, we were giddy.

Someday, when you find someone with whom you want to share your life, I hope it is someone you can feel giddy about on your first date — and on your 1,000th date. And I hope you'll be able to look at your mother and I and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it really is possible to feel that way about someone.

You'll deserve nothing less.


Friday, April 25, 2008


Dear Spike:

With your father's attention often compromised by work, you've become quite adept at keeping yourself entertained (particularly with with pie pans, wastepaper baskets, empty oatmeal containers and other items that weren't made in China for pennies on the dollar and that we didn't need to purchase for dollars on the penny — go figure.)

Oh, you have plenty of other toys. You have a whole basket of stuffed animals (many purloined from your mother) and lots of toys that beep and whistle and jingle and zip. You have a box of wooden boxes that you love to fill up, empty and fill again. And you have a little computer that you like to pound on (saving your father's real computer, which you also like to pound on.)

But your books are, by far, your favorite playthings. Yesterday you spent a good hour — maybe more — sitting on the floor of your room and flipping through the various stories as I sat on the rocking chair and belted out an article about chronyism in city government. And today you're back at it again.

Although I know it will be quite some time before you can read the words, you seem to have a pretty good idea of how these things work: Open left to right, one page at a time, until you get to the end — then pick up another and start again.

Your mother is a bookworm. Your father is a newspaper junkie. Voracious reading is pretty much in your blood, if not your very genetic code. And so I won't be surprised if you taken a keen interest in the written word. But I'll still be proud. Because if there's one very good way to spend a few minutes, or a few hours, or a few days, it's buried in the pages of a great book.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Dear Spike:

I spent Friday evening seated at a computer in a small room at the university, madly trying to figure out:

• If two baskets contain 12 balls each of two colors and one has twice as many red balls as green and the other has an even number of red and green balls, what are the odds of choosing four consecutive red balls by choosing two balls from each of the two baskets?


• If two trains left the same station at 6:48 a.m. one headed exactly north at 68 miles per hour and the other headed exactly northwest at 55 miles per hour before turning due west and changing speed to 60 miles per hour, at what time would the trains be precisely 120 miles apart?


• quail : fear as ___________ : war

I have no idea what any of that has to do with gradutate school. So I looked it up and my suspicions were confirmed: Researchers have found no conclusive evidence that success on the Graduate Record Examination correlates to any kind of success in graduate school. (They actually pay someone to do this research!)

Still, I suppose someone's making some money off this thing (I mean, other than those researchers) and I guess there does have to be some way to test the mettle of potential grad students (I mean, other than arm wrestling.)

In any case, I think I did OK.

And really, OK was all I was going for. I'm not trying to knock anyone's scholastic socks off. I just want to get a good enough score to get into a good enough school. And by good enough, I mean accredited by the South Texas Board of Knife Juggling and Dog Training.

Really, that's good enough.

Anyway, as I was sitting there, trying to remember how to calculate the surface area of a sphere, I couldn't help thinking: How did I get here?

It's your mother's fault, really. I was so proud of her when she finished her master's program last year. She worked incredibly hard — while working full time and carrying you — to finish that round of her studies. She got straight-As and graduated Magna Cum Superhero.

She inspired me. And made me a bit jealous, too.

I'd always intended to go back to school. But not for the reasons most people do. I'm quite content in my current occupation. And I don't reckon a master's degree is going to mean diddlysquatootles to my paycheck.

I just like to learn. (And to wear robes and square hats with tassles while listening to lofty marches written by otherwise obscure English composers.)

I guess, when I get back to school later this year, I'll officially be known as a "non-traditional" student. Your mother often uses the term "lifetime learner" — and I like that a lot.

I hope that you'll also be a lifetime learner. I hope that you'll love to stretch your mind — in the classroom and in the world.

I hope you'll never have to answer questions like this:

• A square box, two feet to a side, is filled with many round balls, all three inches in diameter. If the box is filled with as many balls as possible, how much of the box remains empty?


Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Dear Spike's friends:
Time for the next edition of our irregular 'Spiku' contest.
You know the rules: Five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables.
Top entries go to a vote of the people. Winner gets something neat-o.
Today's subject: bodily fluids.
Love, Spike's dad

Dear Spike:

You're blowing bubbles.
Snot bubbles, that is. Oh my,
How my life has changed.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Dear Spike:

The mercury tipped above 80 yesterday, which was a little bit strange because we hadn't even had a 70-degree day yet this Spring.

And then today we had a blizzard, which isn't strange at all for Salt Lake City in mid-April, except for the fact that YESTERDAY IT WAS FLIPPIN' EIGHTY DEGREES OUTSIDE!

If there's one thing you can count on not counting on in this world, it's the weather. And that's a real nice thing, because it always gives you something to talk about with people on the bus, in line at the grocery store or while stuck in an elevator.

"Some weather we're having. . . " is all you've got to say. And with those four words — BAM-O! — the ice is broken.

Some folks say everything is part of God's plan. If that's true, I'll bet She created the weather just to get us all talking. And if that's the case... well... way to go God.

The world can be a cold enough place without us being cold to one another. The weather is a pretty good place to start warming things up. Where things go from there is up to you.



Dear Spike:

I finished our taxes — and with 22 hours to spare, no less.

After all was said and done, our little family ended up still owing Uncle Sam $450, while Uncle Zion owes us about $250. That's not quite the wash I was hoping for, but after itemizing everything short of the cat (Damn it! I forgot to itemize the cat!) I suppose it's simply as good as we're going to do this year.

It was a busy day for me, and between jousting with the IRS and trying to figure out why an F-16 pilot shot at a couple of soldiers at the local bombing range, you and I didn't get much time together today. I doubt you noticed — or cared — though, because your mom had the day off and took you to a baseball game, and it seems to me that you two had a really good time together.

But even though I've been rooting for you to get a full night's sleep for a long, long time, I'm also sort of hoping that tonight's not the night. I miss you and, if you wake up, I'll have a nice excuse to hold you and rock you to sleep (and then maybe hold you just a bit longer before I put you down again.)

Life sometimes gets in the way of the things that we like best. So, when we can, it's good to have a few moments to put things back in order.


Monday, April 14, 2008


Dear Spike:

It's April 14, which means it's time to start working on our family's taxes.

You can call it procrastination if you'd like, but I don't see it that way. For me, Tax Day is a holiday of sorts, not unlike Independence Day or Memorial Day. It's a time to reflect on what this country means to me — and what it's worth. And just as I can't stand it when I see Christmas ornaments on store shelves months before December 25, it's never felt right to rush into April 15, even if I do have a big refund coming.

Of course, this year that does not appear to be the case. I've spent the past three hours poring over our family's W-2s, receipts and student loan interest statements. I've calculated and recalculated the square footage of my home office. I've checked and double checked to make sure that Daddy's Little Tax Deduction (that would be you) has properly been accounted for. And by the looks of things, we're still $500 in the hole. Seems your mother's new job (and it's associated pay bump) swept us right up into a new income bracket. And even with rather large deductions for the interest we paid on our home and the baby we brought into the world, we simply didn't withhold enough over the past year.

The game's not over yet, though. I've still got to calculate out the mileage I put on our family's car for work — that'll save us a few bucks. I'm also trying to figure out whether my daily cup of coffee is a business, child care or medical expense. (A note to the good folks at the IRS, a government agency for which I hold the deepest respect: I'm just kidding! I know very well that coffee is, in fact, a charitable contribution!)

Even if I'm able to zero out our additional tax liability (I call this "winning the game") we'll still have paid roughly $14,000 in state and federal taxes this year. That doesn't include the money your mother and I threw into the great black hole that is Social Security, or the cash we tossed into the even greater, blacker hole that is Medicare, or the 6.6 percent sales tax we pay on just about everything we buy at the store or the 45 cents-per-gallon fuel tax we pay every time we hit the gas station.

All told, it's a lot of cash. But in exchange, we get a lot of stuff.

We get roads. And police officers. And firefighters. And clean drinking water. And safe food.

We get national parks. And school nurses. And dog catchers. And well-regulated slot machines.

We also get some things that I wish we didn't have.

We get ill-advised wars. And billion-dollar weapons. And unconscionable foreign policy. And federally-mandated education policies. And poorly regulated mega-businesses.

When we pay our taxes, we get a bunch of stuff we want and a bunch of stuff we don't. And that's all part of living in a semi-free market, quasi-socialized democratic republic.

For a lot of folks, it's really frustrating to think of all the great things our nation could have if we would simply reevaluate our priorities — and sometimes I feel frustrated, too. But in the years that I lose the game and we have to pay Uncle Sam a little extra, I try to think about all the good our money might do, and I make a wish that in the coming year, we'll become just a little bit wiser.

And in the lower left corner of the check, I write: "For America."


Friday, April 11, 2008


Dear Spike:

Most mornings find you and I engaged in a bit of a dance. I shovel some food down your throat while deleting e-mails from people who want to sell me Viagra or help me secure a fortune in African gold. You start rummaging through your toy box as I make a few phone calls. I take you to the potty and, while we're downstairs, I grab a cup of coffee for me and a bottle of milk for you. Then back to the e-mails — this time the ones I actually have to read — with you on my knee. Then I work on my newspaper blog while you munch on some cereal. Back to the potty. Maybe a quick moment for a book. OK, maybe two. Back upstairs for (hopefully) a nap (alas for you, not me) while I confirm my appointments for the afternoon. More with the potty, more with the phone calls (two days ago I was quite litterally holding over the pot while speaking to a United States congressman.) And so on.

Sometimes I feel bad that you have to share your father's attention with soldiers and thinktankers and politicians. And I dream about days like today, when we spent the first two hours of the morning playing together on your bedroom floor, then got dressed for an excursion to the city library. There, we read books and stomped around in the the nooks and crannies of the children's section, then rode the glass elevator from the first floor to the fifth and back down again.

And back up again.

And back down again.

After we got tired of that, we went to the grocery store to pick up some baby food and yogurt. And on the way home you fell asleep, so I parked the car at the park and watched the geese splash down on the lake as you slept.

I didn't miss the daily grind, not one bit. But I won't be sorry when Monday rolls around and we're at it once again, me at my laptop and you at your toybox. Most folks aren't blessed with the opportunity to have every day be bring-your-daughter-to-work day. And so while I'm always relieved to see your mother walk through the front door in the afternoon, I always miss our little dance.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Dear Spike:

"Oh bother," I sighed, and grabbed you at the hips to flip you over, so that I could continue buttoning your pajamas.

You promptly flipped back onto your belly and tried to crawl away again. "Oh bother," I sighed again.

In the great, long list of ways you've changed my life, this probably wouldn't even make the Top 250.

But just for the record, I never used to say, "oh bother."


Tuesday, April 8, 2008



Dear Spike's Friends:

Spike's first birthday will be here soon. All fretting aside about WHERE THE HELL THE PAST 10 MONTHS WENT, I would like to enlist your help in putting together THE GREATEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT OF ALL TIME.

No, it's not a pony.

So I know this is waaaaay presumptuous of me, but at least I'm not asking for cash. No, what I want is blood. Your blood. And sweat. And tears. And maybe a little bile, just for kicks.

Here's the deal: I would like to give Spike a book of letters from people all over this country and all over this world — from people who know her and from people who don't.

I think we'll call it, "Dear Spike: Letters From Your Village."

Catchy, no?

Here's how it works:

1) You write a letter to Spike. Appropriately, it will start "Dear Spike:" and end with "Love,(yourname)"
3) It can be very short or very long.
4) It can be very happy or very sad.
5) It can be very serious or very funny.
6) It can be about ANYTHING YOU WANT except...
6a) It can't be about me or Spike's mom, even if you know us.
6b) It can't be about how much you love or hate, even if you really love it or hate it.
7) You send said letter, by May 1227, to me at
8) I'll publish all the letters here at
9) I'll edit them all into one big, beautiful file.
10) I'll send them off to print.
11) Someday when Spike can read, she will receive a book written to her from people — many of whom she doesn't even know — whose stories will nonetheless touch her heart and make her laugh and make her cry and make her think and make her love and make her sigh.
12) It will be a beautiful thing.

So, OK, I know that right at this very moment, there is someone from Nottingham, England, who is saying: "Surely, this chap doesn't expect me to contribute to this bloody project."

Oh yes, I do. And I'm hoping — really, really hoping — that Spike also will receive letters from Omaha and Dublin, from Perth and Nashville, from Vancouver and Baden-Wurttemberg and Tampa and Lexington and Raleigh and Nasiriyah all the other places from which people have stumbled upon this blog and then, FOR SOME STRANGE REASON, thought it would be fun to come back again and again.

And if you know people in Bejing or Mexico City or Mumbai or Capetown or Toledo (Ohio or Spain, either way) or anywhere else on the globe and you think they'd enjoy participating in this little birthday experiment, would you invite them along?

OK, now I'm all giddy. This is so crazy, it might just work.

spike's dad

Monday, April 7, 2008


Dear Spike:

You usually sleep in our bed on Friday nights. Sometimes on Saturdays, too. Your mother and I stay up and watch movies and you nestle right between us as Coltrane looks on from the foot of the bed, flexing his paws and, I’m sure, wondering why the hell is she in my spot?

Tonight is Monday night. You should be in your crib, in your room. And with April 15 just around the corner, your mother and I should be doing our taxes. But as your bedtime neared, this drafty old house just seemed so very cold. And, well, here you are.

You’re wearing your soft, green nightgown, the one with the little dancing bear and the shooting stars. Your hands are cocked behind your head, like a talent agent who just signed a big movie deal for his client and is about to light a fat and moderately expensive cigar to celebrate. Your feet are bare. Such pretty little feet. You’re resting on your mother’s stomach — right over the spot where you spent nine whole months, cooking away like a little pot roast until finally popping out last May, just a tad underdone.

Your mother’s reading “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult, who, accoridng to the photograph on the back of the book, has curly red hair and doesn’t feel the need to smile for the camera.

And I’m sitting here with my computer balanced on my knee. Tap, tap, tapping away.

Avoiding the subject. Avoiding the reason why, perhaps — no, I’m quite sure the reason why, in fact — I wanted you to come sleep with us tonight.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

They buried her today.

She was a sweet little seven year old girl. Just a bitty thing. She liked the color pink and the company of her neighbors. Her family taught her to trust the people in her communty. It takes a village, some have said.

I have said.

Hser Ner Moo wandered away from her home last Monday afternoon. Off to a friend’s home, it was assumed. By Tuesday she was dead. The man who killed her was an aquaintance of her family. The home where she died, she’d visited before. This was her village.

Back when it was merely an academic pursuit, I theorized that the measures Americans go to in order to protect their children from harm were, in fact, of greater collective detriment than the remote possibilities that harm might, in fact, be inflicted. Maybe that's still true. But tonight, all I want to do is plop a helmet on your head and safety pads on your arms and legs and teach you Kung Fu and buy you a loud whistle and get a burglar alarm for your room and tag your ear with a GPS tracking chip like they do to endangered animals.

We live right across the street from the most beautiful urban park you’ll ever see. Right across the street. There are ducks to feed and boats to ride and a carosel and a merry-go-round and the nation’s largest public aviary and tennis courts and fountains and a greenhouse and bike paths and two lovely playgrounds.

I’d always imagined that you would play there — with us nearby at first, of course, but eventually by yourself and with your friends. I imagined I would watch from the porch as your rounded the corner and disappeared. Maybe when you were seven or eight — big enough to be seen by cars and to scream loud enough for someone to hear, if need be.

But small enough to play — to learn to be independent and to handle your own conflicts with other kids. Like we used to, when I was a kid.

“I’m going to play,” I’d call over my shoulder on the way out the door.“Be back before dinner,” my mother would call back as the door slammed behind me. Most of the time, I think, she had a vague idea of where I was headed. And that was enough for her.

I’d like it to be enough for me. For you.

But how can I send you out into this village? How do I ballance my desire to help you learn about community when I don’t feel as though I truly trust our community?

So maybe not seven. Maybe not eight. Maybe not nine or 10.

Of course, tonight is a bad night to be making decisions about these things. I’m sad and hurt and heartbroken for that poor little girl’s family. The world feels like an ugly place.

And all I want to to hold you between your mother and I. Tight and close and safe.

And never let go.


Sunday, April 6, 2008


Dear Spike:

My God, you're changing fast. I swear that on some mornings, when I fetch you from your crib, I hardly recognize you as the little girl I put to bed just the night before.

After months of moving from here to there in an awkward sort of contorted slither, you've finally begun crawling, but I don't reckon you'll be doing that for long, for you've also pretty much figured out how to walk. You've only now to find your ballance. And then you'll be off.

Walking. Running. Jumping.

Rolling. Sliding. Swimming. Diving.

Your mother brought your little blue baby tub down to the basement last week. You just got too big for it. For the first few times in our big clawfoot tub your mother or I would bath along with you, catching you when you'd slip and slide on the slick porcelain bottom. But now you've got that figured out too. And so we simply sit to the side and run a cup of water over your hair.

Soon, I suppose, you'll be doing that by yourself too.

A few months back, your mother and I purchased a bicycle trailer for you to ride in and came up with a nifty way to strap your car seat into the harnesses. But now you've gotten so long that your feet stick out the front, making it impossible close the front flap. Your mom tried sitting you into the trailer without the safety seat, but you're still too small for that. Not sure how we'll fix that problem, but in any case, I know it's going to be a temporary fix, for you're growing so fast.

Soon, I know, you'll be too big for the car seat. And then, not long therafter, you'll be too big for your trailer. And that will be just fine because, right around the time that occurs, you'll be wanting your own bicycle anyway. And we'll oblige, of course. And then you'll be off.

Riding. Jumping. Sometimes falling. Getting back up and doing it again. Faster. Faster still.

You've almost grown out of the outfit we bought to bring you home from the hospital. Admittedly, I didn't think it would even last this long. But you were such a tiny little thing. And so the Oregon State University onesie in which we'd intended to dress you for the trip home instead was used as a blanket to cover your skinny little legs against the May breeze. Unprepared for such a wee little baby, we dispatched your grandparents to the store to find some premie clothes. You wore those sizes for months. You didn't really fit into that OSU outfit until a few months ago. And within a few weeks, I suppose, we'll pack it away for good.

I try not to spend too much time lamenting the ticking of the clock. It's a waste of today to worry too much about tommorrow.

But sometimes when I rock you at night, and sing to you the songs that help you sleep, I know I will not rock you this way and sing to you these songs forever.

But that's fine, too. Because today is special — exactly because it is today. And tommorrow will be special in its own ways. And the next day. And the next.

I love the way you are today. But I will love you no less tommorrow.

In fact, I'll love you more.


Friday, April 4, 2008


Dear Spike:

Sometimes, life's just going to feel like this...

One more day until the weekend.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Dear Spike:

You will never need clothing again — or not until you're four or five, at least.

Our good friends Scott and Lesli called yesterday to say they had some clothes for you. This was exciting. A good portion of your wardrobe already comes from their beautiful daughter, Zoe, who is growing like one of those little sponge dinosaurs and has recently busted out of another set of clothing.

We knew we'd be getting some good stuff — all of Zoe's clothes are super cute — but we really had no idea that we'd be leaving with an entire truckload of baby gear.

No, really, it was quite literally a truckload.

Here's the deal: Scott and Lesli have multiple friends and relatives with little girls, just a bit older than Zoe, who handed stuff down to them. Add that stuff to all the other stuff that Zoe has accumulated from grandparents, other relatives and friends and you've pretty much won the baby hand-me-down sweepstakes.

Pajamas. Onesies. Boots. Sandals. Socks. Hats. Little baby bloomers. There's enough to fill your dresser drawers and then some — and that's just the stuff that will fit you now. There are five or six big bags and several large boxes of OTHER stuff in the basement just waiting for you to grow into.

I know you won't always want to exclusively be wearing hand-me-downs, but I do hope you never grow to think of used clothing as somehow below your dignity, as some folks seem to. One of the very great things we can do for this planet and for one another is use stuff until it’s so worn out that it simply cannot be used anymore. That goes for clothes, but it also goes for cars, computers, toys, TVs and pretty much everything else that we own.

Just because we've been blessed with the ability to replace old stuff with new, doesn't mean we need to. And we can do a lot for our world by simply sharing with our friends and neighbors, as our friends have done for us and we, in turn, will do for others.

You're going to look simply dashing in your new wardrobe.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Dear Spike:

The kitchen is a mess again. Really, it looks like the laboratory of a mad scientist who has decided to meld cloned human embryos with various species of mold. And he's really messy about it. And the San Francisco 49ers' entire starting offensive line is staying over at his place. And there was just a nuclear holocaust. And a fraternity party.

Your mom does the laundry. I clean the kitchen. That's the arrangement we have — a deal to which she has faithfully honored and to which I have honored about once a week, usually when we've run out of silverware.

Everything else in the house is pretty much fair game — which generally means she does all that stuff, too. She's not a clean freak, just a cleaner freak than I am. Sometimes I feel bad about this and I move about the house urgently picking up toys and books and piles of clothing. And then, usually right about the time that I find the most recent edition of Newsweek under the week-old stack of junk mail by the front door, I get distracted.

I'm a pretty good guy with really good intentions — and I've got plenty of good excuses. It's not so easy juggling daddy daycare with mild-mannered reporting. There are so many projects in this old house I don't even know where to start. And at the end of the day, you know, I'd just rather spend time with you and your mother than sweeping the hardwood or mopping the tiles.

Truth is, though, that your mom has been extremely tolerant with my inability to focus on any one task for longer that a few minutes at a time. She'd be justified in being a little bit annoyed with me, but I do my best not to let her know that.

When you're looking for someone who completes you on this often lonely planet, I'd definitely advise you to find somebody who can be tolerant of your faults, flaws and failures — and for whom you can exercise tolerance as well.

Nobody's perfect, after all.

Except, I think, for your mother.