Monday, August 30, 2010

Dancing With the Stars Season 11 Cast Revealed


Revenge of the Palintines

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

It is a period of civil rest and downright apathy. No one has the energy for war or revolution or anything else that might rip them away from the next reality television show. The Rebel fighters have long-since retired from battle, signing exclusivity contracts with the Galactic Empire to star in the premier season of "Droid Swap." Meanwhile, although the Death Star shines brighter than ever after its spotlight in "Extreme Home Makeover: Evil Space Station Edition," it merely serves as an overgrown satellite dish to broadcast to the rest of the galaxies the likes of "Survivor: Tattooine," "Last Ewok Standing," and the even more ridiculous reality shows we have on earth.
God help us all...
Just as soon as he's finished filming "Heaven's Kitchen." 

Does anyone else remember the movie "Running Man?" Stephen King/Richard Bachman predicted this shit years ago. Although we're not chasing criminals through the streets of New York in some sickly, death-crazed game show, we are scraping the bottom of the celebrity barrel by placing aging actors, former politician's children and (Yikes) some guy from Jersey Shore called "The Situation" on this season's cast of "Dancing with the Stars."

Well, America, here's the real situation: We are creating a living time capsule full of shit and when future generations look back on this era of our existence there will never be any unanswered questions - as there have been with the Greeks and the Romans before us - as to why the American Empire fell. Just the fact that the Dancing with the Stars cast release, considered "Volcanic" on the hot meter, is the top searched story of the day is very indicative of the current state of our nation. Anyone who still believes the Mayan's 2012 portends a spiritual revolution rather than an torturous, mind-numbing, hopefully meteoric apocalypse hasn't surfed through cable TV channels lately.

Enough said.


Fortunately for the rest of us, there is still Reality Reality, a show I much prefer to anyone else's manufactured version of what I unaffectionately call Emotional Pornography.

My personal reality show took a twist for the better today when I announced to my various co-workers at the elementary, middle, and high schools that I would be leaving my job to become a full-time stay-at-home dad. It was a sudden announcement but not a sudden decision, and I received nothing but support and admiration from the community of educators I work with. Many lamented not having made the same decision with their children while others shared their experiences of having done so. I felt some guilt about leaving my caseload of students behind, but one teacher reminded me (and my codependent inner-child), "Isaac, you're totally replaceable here, but you're irreplaceable to Amari." I stole that line and used it for the rest of the day.

The fact is I waited almost forty years to be a dad, and I can't find a good enough reason why I wouldn't set aside three or four to spend exclusively with this precious, little girl that has given me the greatest sense of competence I've ever felt. I will find a way to replace the lost income, but the time I would have lost would be gone forever.

Amari is growing more vocal every day. She babbles incessantly and her understanding appears to grow exponentially. She hugs and kisses and laughs and smiles, cries and whines and makes messes wherever she goes. She crawls freely, walks with assistant, but until today she was reluctant to pull herself onto her own feet. She would prop one foot beneath her as she pulled herself up onto a chair or a table, but never both feet. the physical equivalent of David Hasselhoff performing and entrechat-quatre in heels - Amari used the living room table to leverage her way up onto both feet just long enough for Carrie to take a few photos.

I may have missed this milestone, but I'll be there for the rest of them - and I'm guessing they won't include things like teen pregnancy and desperately seeking stardom. Maybe the former governor of Alaska should have spent a little more time at home and little less time impersonating Tina Fey.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Drake and Nicki Minaj Tweet Marriage - LeBron James Disappointed

To preserve some semblance of integrity as a writer, I welcome my faithful readers who don't think I'm a homophobic bigot back to the wonderful world of parenting. For those interested in the truth about Drake and Nicki Minaj, please scroll down to new "Headline Hunters" section of this blog. You won't be disappointed. For those with more time and sentimentality to read about my wonderful, almost ten month old daughter AND Hollywood gossip - scroll as you read.

When last I sincerely wrote about Amari, she had begun childcare on Mondays and Fridays. She has now been three times, and each time we pick her up she appears more comfortable. When I arrived on Monday she offered a brief whine until she was in my arms where she buried her face in my chest with simultaneous hugs and giggles. Just that moment was worth the forty bucks. On Friday, however, when I walked in (granted I was wearing a brand new San Francisco Giants hat) Amari was sitting comfortably in Teresa's lap being thoroughly entertained by the rest of the kids in the living room. I waited for the cry and the rapid crawl into my arms. Instead, I got a look akin to "'Sup, Dad?"

On the home front, Carrie and I try to squeeze as much quality time in with Amari as possible. On the days we both work, that time is limited to about an hour in the morning and maybe three more in the evening. It's sad for both of us, and we're discussing the possibility and practicality of me taking a sabbatical from work and focusing on parenting. It already feels like Amari is growing up so fast and this age feels so precious and important. I love my job, but like I said the other day, being Amari's dad is the most competent I've ever felt.

Developmentally, Amari appears to be on the cusp of both walking and talking. This morning she was rattling off new sounds - not just the typical "Bah, bah, bah," that can mean anything from "bottle" to "cat" to whatever mom and dad are singing in the front of the car. Cognitively, she clearly understands language. When I say, "What do we do with bottles," she starts to shake her arm up and down, "Shake-a, shake-a, shake-a," we'll say. This morning she blew my mind by picking the picture of a cat out of a line up of four images we pulled from a mobile when I said, "Which one is a cat?" Just to make sure she's a genius I put four new images and asked, "Which ones a baby?" and she picked the correct card without hesitation. I think she's ready to be a CSI or Law & Order baby detective.

Speaking of her budding acting career, she and I have made yet another short film, this one a musical montage chronicling the growing friendship between her and our first child, Penny. If you have three minutes, check it out - but not before you read the latest FYI Gossip

Movie Link:

Headline Hunters: Drake and Nicki Announce Marriage

The latest in a long line of talentless pop culture relationships culminated yesterday in the official, romantic, Tweeted announcement that Drake and Nicki Minaj are in fact getting married. Nicki provided the tantalizing, lead-in, tweeting, "U scurred? @drakkardnoir u ready to make the announcement or wha?" The always smooth Drake replied, "Baby I am never scared. PROUD is more the word I would use," assuming she was tweeting about her upcoming fourth grade spelling equivalency test she was about to take. After clearing up the misunderstanding Drake added, "Please refer to @nickiminaj as Mrs. Aubrey Drake Graham and dont stare at her too long. She's finally mine. :)," to which Nicki replied, "How cum I get u stewpid first name?"

Hip hop heads and unemployed US Weekly readers alike have been speculating endlessly about this couples behind the scenes relationship since Drake's "Miss Me" single where he sings, "I love Nicki Minaj/ I told her I'd admit it/ I hope one day we get married just to say we f---ing did it/ And girl, I'm f---ing serious/ I'm with it if you with it/ 'Cause your verses turn me on, and your pants are mighty fitted."

How do fans read between the lines?

After this profane, ambiguous verse, Drake goes on to sing, "Nicki, let's get hooked now/so my Twitter page ain't boring/I'm gonna spank your booty hard/when I get back from touring/Girl I f---ing mean it/you're my Carlton f---ing Ritz/I love the way you rhyme shit/And I love your f---ing tits."

Awwww. Cute.

Now, just a few short months later, it's clear this romantic gesture did not fall on deaf ears. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Fergie and Josh Duhamel, Pink and Carey Hart, Madonna and whoever she's with these days, Drake and Nicki M became the most popular one-name/two-name union Hollywood has seen in over a year. Asked about these comparisons Nicki Minaj said, "Who's Madonna?"
then went on to say, "Just kidding. I'm totally religious."

In a side story, Drake's close personal friend and financial advisor, LeBron James, was very disappointed in the hip hop star's announcement. LeBron had spent the better part of a week encouraging Drake to invite ex-girlfriend Hott Pink and any other recent courters to a Boys and Girls Club to make his marriage announcement during a one-hour, prime-time special. LeBron now intends to keep this idea to himself in case things with long-time girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, go south - like to South Beach.

Peace out parenting blog readers and Headline Whores. Remember - If it ain't real, it ain't worth writing about. I'm experimenting with catch phrases. Please submit your suggestions in the "Comments" section below. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ken Mehlman is Not Gay, Just Really Happy

Just hours after the Washington Post released an article outing Ken Mehlman as gay, the former Republican National Committee chairman held a press conference to clarify his misunderstood remarks. "It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," he began, "What I was trying to say to reporter Marc Ambinder," he began, "is that everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and as a young man mine seemed to be a path of extreme happiness. Unfortunately, I grew up in a family and a subculture that did not approve of or endorse happiness in any form, so I did everything I could to hide these embarrassing parts of myself. I chose a career in politics that was also very anti-happiness. As a result I continued living a lie. I desperately wanted homogeneousness between my internal feelings and my external persona. I felt like a furry bear wanting to bare my soul, a fishing reel wanting to get real, or any number of other homonyms. Deep down inside I felt like a tree hidden beneath too much leafage."

Mehlman paused to gather himself, "It wasn't until I was working as RNC chairman under the direct tutelage of President Bush - by far the most bonhomous man I've ever met. He encouraged me to let the world know how I felt on the inside. He also asked me to wait until after his second term in office, which seemed a bit queer, but I'd waited so long I waited a little longer. And now, with the support of my colleagues, family, friends, and the Republican Party, I am finally ready to come out and tell the world that I'm as happy as a two dollar bill." Mehlman concluded, "I hope this clears up any misunderstandings."


In my continued pursuit of an income without work, I am straying from the integrity of my parenting blog with attempted comical lead-ins ripped right from the headlines - or Google's Top Ten searches. No, I am not prejudiced against gays or happy people, I would have written a similar spoof if Mehlman had come out heterosexual.

In my first four weeks with Google AdSense I earned me approximately $12. Inspired by the financial possibilities, I searched for articles and e-books about making more money with blogs and was quickly discouraged by long lists of computer lingo that meant about as much to me as "bonhomous" or "homonym." On a whim, I decided to experiment with titles last week, claiming that the Tower of Terror fall at Disneyland was a hoax (and no, I'm not prejudiced against drunk or stupid people either). In the next three days I made $8. Is it real money? No, not until I get a check. But it is really fun? Absolutely.

So, if you enjoy stories about a part-time dad's adventures in Infantland or his playtime adventures in Madeupland, stay tuned, become a follower, shop around (preferably right here on my blog). With your help - i.e. forwarding this link to everyone you know - perhaps I can realize my dream of devoting the next few years to the two things I've ever felt like I'm pretty good at - writing and being a dad. In fact, I was just talking with a co-worker today that with every job I've ever had I've had a lingering worry that I would be exposed as a fraud, that someone would finally stand up and say, "You don't know shit." In the past nine and a half months as Amari's dad, I haven't felt like that once. I feel completely and utterly capable as a father, and my only regret is that I didn't obtain independent wealth first.

Time to get to work. With some creativity and some discipline - who knows - maybe I can figure out how to make parenting into a paying job. I think that would make me even happier than Ken Mehlman.

I promise I'll write a less bigoted, more child-centered blog tomorrow...just so long as there's anything about parenting in the headlines.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tower of Terror Drunken Fall a Hoax

As of last week the doors officially closed on summer when Carrie I both went back to work. When I was a kid, we always returned to school the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend. It never changed and somehow it felt just that we should ease our ways out of summer with a nice, short, four-day week. Little did I know, teachers and administrators had already been back at school for weeks - probably drinking heavily in preparation for another school year.

Don't let the 8 to 3 schedule and fifteen weeks off each year fool you - teachers work harder for less than any profession I've known. A friend of mine once said, "Man teachers have it made," siting the "work hours" and holidays to which I replied, "I don't know a single teacher that's done with work at three...or in June for that matter." In fact, more often than not, Carrie worked both evenings and weekends trying to keep prep and grading. It still amazes me that she was able to handle both her first years as a teacher and a parent simultaneously. It's ridiculous. A friend of ours very accurately cautioned Carrie that she could either be a great teacher or a great mom, but not both. I think that applies to any job that shares the stage with parenting. To us, the choice was easy.

Now Amari is older and more independent, but also more engaging and much more often awake. The demands of our jobs at work and at home have changed dramatically. Susan (last year's Thursday Mom to Amari) has moved to Santa Rosa while Nicole (Tuesday Mama) and Noah are hoping to make a sibling for Reya, which means we had to figure out a new childcare situation. Initially we were going to ask Granny C. for an extra day and then pay one of Carrie's former students to watch Amari at our house once a week. Fortuitously, a co-worker of mine recommended a small daycare run by a woman who is affectionately called Mother Teresa. She is a block from the high school, has been in the business for a quarter century, and comes highly recommended from several other parents in the district. She only takes six kids max and only one infant on any given day. When we saw how Amari lit up around the other kids, it became a no-brainer - we signed her up for Mondays and Fridays.

Yesterday, we gave it shot. Amari loved it. Sure she cried about a half an hour after we left, finally noticing we were gone, but for the most part she had a great day. When we arrived to pick her up in the afternoon, three girls were sitting around Amari on the front lawn vying for her attention. Amari looked excited, enamored, and happy. We sat with all the kids for a while, and the little girls all told us how they'd helped Amari that day. Too cute.

Childcare was not something we'd initially planned or wanted for Amari at this age, but we also didn't want to burn Granny C. out or get into a position where we had to stress about rushing home right after work. I will still be working three days/week, and Carrie will be back full-time. Have I mentioned I wish we lived in Sweden? Apparently both parents get 16 months of paid leave per child. Their job and their government foot the bill. I'd be willing to bet that having that parental relationship as an infant and toddler can serve as a tremendous protective factor against future mental illness, criminal conduct, or anything else the socialist government would have to pay for later. Extended, paid parental leaves is basic preventative medicine.

So what else is new? I finally put together the Amari B Fishman's First Ballgame. It features a Flight of the Conchords' song and a whole lot of driving footage. It's short, but sweet. Also, if you want to hear a beautiful singing voice - not mine - check out the "Night at the Headlands" video, too. We played a gig at the local coffee shot last week on our nine year anniversary Here's the link and some photos:

Amari and Siobhan

PS Oh year - what's with the title? Well, I'm trying to monetize my blog - as you can see by the AdSense crap all around the writing. Being savvy-less with computers, I Googled "Top Internet Searches" to see if I could get more traffic to my blog. What did I learn? Three things:

1. people love to see/hear/read about gruesome acts of stupidity
2. Darwin's Theory of  Evolution is absolutely correct, and
3. that one drunken idiot at Disneyland fell 25 feet while waiting in line for a ride, and millions more made it the top story searched today. Now I'm starting a rumor that it was all a big hoax. He wasn't drunk at all...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Mendocino Lakers

Yesterday Carrie and I took Amari over the hill to Lake Mendocino to meet up with some friends from Sonoma County who camp their every summer. When we camped with them last July, Carrie was an active and adventurous six months pregnant. Still uncertain how much we wanted to rough it, we brought a small two-person tent, a twin-sized foam futon, and enough blankets to cover Carrie's inconsistent heating demands. It was still really uncomfortable, perhaps more so because the futon elevated us about half way up the tent creating a small, pyramid-shaped, coffin-like feeling. We vowed then to upgrade our equipment before taking any more family camping trips.

The days, however, were awesome. One of our friends, Jeff, owns a fishing boat with enough power to pull skis and wake boards and inter-tubes for anyone interested, so I tried all three while Carrie was pulled slowly behind the boat lying face up on the tube with Amari in her belly pointing straight towards the bright blued skies. Later that night, tucked safely in our Japanese capsule hotel-tent, Carrie and I whispered about how next summer Amari would be in the world with us, wondered what she would be like, and who she would look like. What are nine month-olds capable of doing, anyway? We had no clue, really.

This year Amari is in the world with us. She is nine months old, we're learning every day what she is capable of, and we're still pretty clueless most of the time. What we do know is that Amari seems to fair better when we get her out of the house during the day. The longer and more adventurous the trip, the better her mood, and the deeper her sleep. After our outing to Lake Mendocino yesterday, we both came home determined to kill off Granny C's horse and donkey and dig a man-made lake in their corral.

Amari had a blast at the lake. Although she did not enjoy the bright yellow flotation device we brought for her, she did enjoy the water, laughing and splashing around until her eyes grew heavy with fatigue. Back on the land she crawled around in the dirt and grass, examined leaves and sticks, performed unsolicited tricks for our friends, and ate anything and everything she was offered. Even with a long nap at the lake and another on the long drive home, Amari slept happily through the night exhausted by an exhilarating day. Moonshadow and Peanut (horse and donkey) now have two choices: demonstrate some sleep-inspiring skills or learn to swim. The lake is coming home.

Exhausted and at the mercy of her parents' hair stylings

Meanwhile, yours truly spent the afternoon learning that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Last summer I tried and failed to both water ski and wake board. I got up briefly on the skis right before my forearms gave out. This summer I was determined to get up and stay up, and after lunch Chris and Jeff and I headed out on the boat. The afternoon breeze made the lake a little choppy but we found a cove that was both calm and empty. My first two attempts had me leaning too far back, then too far forward, and the third try had me on the lake for about eight seconds before toppling in. Then something just clicked. I got up, fought through the first few bumps, and rode behind the boat out into the middle of the lake. After that I got up every time and rode until my legs gave.

Amari also wore a sun dress for the first time, which is pretty damn cute. All in all, a great day out.

The End

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Do Not Like Green Snot and Drool

I do not like them Sam I am.

In the past I've been accused (mostly by myself) of only writing when things are good. This was not always the case. In fact, as a repressed, mildly-angsty, journal-writing teen, I tried to capture the lingering pain of adolescent crushes and existential wondering with novice poetry and original "profound" quotes. I would then go around quoting myself, saying things like "Circumstance is life's only true guideline," or "We are distracted from distraction by distraction,"' or some other god-awful alleged truism. Also and very unfortunately, my primary inspirations back then were Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, and the rhyming poetry of a sixteen year-old doesn't sound nearly as painful as the experience. Unless your forced to listen to it or re-read it. In the end, I would look back on both the poetry and the pain saying, "Who the hell wants to remember that?" before ripping out the pages.

That being said, let me just summarize the last three days with these three non-rhyming words: Totally Sucked Ass.

At the beginning of the summer, Carrie and I brought Amari back into our bed from the futon on the floor deciding that it would be easier to get her (and us) back to sleep after nighttime feedings. The experiment was a tremendous success. One of us would comfort her while the other fetched a bottle, and more often than not she would fall back asleep immediately. Although we weren't sure we were doing the right thing, the attachment parenting literature encouraged it, saying that this time is precious, fleeting, and would be missed when our daughter outgrows it.

Three nights ago, Amari got sick for the first time in months. Initially we weren't sure if it was teething pain, a cold, or a reaction to the bread we'd introduced into her diet. She tossed and turned and moaned and kicked and clawed and kept us both up most of the night. We took turns trying to soothe, but Carrie was getting sick, too, and I felt like I had to step it up. By four thirty in the morning, I was frustrated and exhausted. Unfortunately, Amari's pink bunny was too far away to grab and throw across the room, so I resorted to the very childish and loud tossing back of my side of the sheets before snatching Amari up to go downstairs.

That night was only the beginning. For the next two days Amari was oozing snot and drool all over her face, getting rosie-cheeked rashes as a result, and while she will normally play independently for long periods of time, she would not let us leave her side without long, anguished complaints. It felt like the first month all over again, and had it only been teething, the parenting books said this could go on for months. Mercifully, Amari woke up yesterday with less goopy fluids and more smile on her face. Last night, she slept like a...well...a small person that only wakes up twice a night. I just don't think that really describes a baby.

Rhyme that Teddy Geisel (Dr. Seuss's real name).

It's nice to have our daughter back. Here she is in her "Oh The Places You'll Go Shirt"

Tomorrow: Amari's first day on the lake.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cuuuuuuute...and other tricks

Before Carrie and I were ever dating, married, parenting, or even knew that the other existed, she had a dream that she would have only one child - a boy named Julian. I think a fortune teller also gave her a similar forecast, so by the time of our 20 week sonogram, I was all but convinced we were going to have a boy, and that his name was a done deal. Needless to say - except in most basketball circles - Amari turned out to be a girl, while fortune tellers and prophetic dreams turned out to be a bunch of hooey.

This week, however, my niece Siobhan (pronounced Shevonne for non-Irish readers) arrived from India to live with our family for her final two years of high school. Although she's not a boy, she is the daughter of my sister's first love and husband, Julian. Siobhan has been attending an international boarding school in south India for the past five years - a school I also attending in high school - but the recent increase in tuition led my sister to ask if she could come to America to finish up school. Although friends and family alike cringed at the notion of adopting a teenager, Carrie and I unhesitatingly obliged, knowing that Siobhan is an anomaly amongst adolescents and hoping that her presence will quell people's questions about whether we're going to have another kid. Unfortunately, this also means I now have to postpone my blog about why I don't want to have more children.

Siobhan has been a delight. I hadn't seen her since my mother's memorial four years ago and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I knew that she didn't want to leave her school and worried a bit about how she might handle the adversity. To go from a private school on a small, rural hill station in India to a mid-sized American high school is no small feat. Siobhan's attitude, "I'm looking at this as an adventure." Today - the adventure began. We took her into the high school counseling office, registered her, and signed her up for classes. The elective she chose - auto shop. Awesome - she can earn her keep with oil changes. All in all, she is a sweet, soft-spoken, eloquent, and nonetheless, phone talking, Internet chatting teen. I happy she's here.

As for our other child...Amari still rules. She is definitely going through the classic six to nine month phase where she's discerning more between her parents and other people. She's less likely to go willingly into other people's arms, cries if we leave the room without permission, and whines if we don't share whatever we're eating with her. I find myself tip-toeing out of the living room to do my morning chores and  hiding by the coffee machine to take a few uninterrupted sips of caffeine. She's so interested in what we're eating these days, that I sometimes have to trick her by putting a small bowl of what I want her to eat inside a larger bowl of what I'm eating. Is that weird?

Last week Carrie and I went to our first movie in eleven months, and apparently Amari cried for the first fifteen minutes we were gone. It makes sense, since one or both of us has been around every minute for the past seven weeks. Transitioning back to work is not something I'm looking forward to. It was hard enough when she was cute and personality-less, but now she becomes more and more like a little person every day.

On the cuter side of things, she is learning new and endearing "tricks" every day. She can clap and stick her tongue out on demand, and she shakes her head, "No," every time I say yes. She also flops to the floor from a seated positing whenever we say, "Rest, rest," and she tilts her head endearingly to the side when anyone says, "Aww, cuuuute." I think this came about from Carrie saying it while tilting her head. Now Amari will actually tilt her head to any word that sounds like "Cuuuute." We've even experimented with slipping the words into sentences such as, "Hey, Carrie, could you pass me some fruuuuit." Like Pavlov's dog, Amari's head drops to her shoulder and she glances up at us with her adorable giant eyes.

The best part is that I will sometimes catch her doing all the tricks at once in the morning as though she were so thrilled with the response it elicits in us that she feels compelled to practice on her own time. It looks like some kind of Special Olympics victory dance as she shakes her tilted head, sticks out her tongue, and then flops down on her belly to "rest." Inappropriate jokes aside, it's fucking awesome. Babies are perfect, little geniuses. All of them. I hope to capture her morning practice on video soon and post it here for everyone's viewing pleasure.

In lieu of that, I have recently submitted another video to my Vimeo site. My friend Jim is in the timber industry and offered to give me a winter's supply of firewood if I helped him clear some trees of his property. After the first day, I decided to bring my camera and make a little mock-umentary of our work days. It also hosts the return of Neil Goldberg and his trucker 'stache (by popular demand of my wife) from their debut in "Wiffle Cup." Here is the link to "Trees, Inc." if you want to check it out, and "Wiffle Cup," if you want to know where the hell Neil Goldberg's came from.

Trees, Inc.:

Wiffle Cup:


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Boys, Their Kids, and a Pizza Oven

A couple of weeks ago Team Fishman (moniker brought to you by Jim Calvert) took a little road trip down to Marin County. Let me preface the rest of this paragraph by acknowledging that I love Marin. I grew up there. I have wonderful memories and very dear friends scattered around its hills, and valleys. Nevertheless, if I ever want to feel poorer, fatter, or uglier than I normally do, a few days in Marin will remedy that. It's like Alaska, except instead of giving you money when you move there you get a bicycle, a faster metabolism, and a bunch of coupons for organic lettuce and Cymbalta. Now that I see it as an adult, I'm pretty sure I wasn't just the fattest kid in my school but possibly the whole county.

That being said...I had a great time. The purpose of our visit was to see one of my oldest friends, Paul, and his family who were on their annual visit from England. I met Paul twenty years ago in college. I know - that's like forever. Paul was the first friend I remember actively pursuing - like the women in my life at that point only much more successfully. I went to college late - after a year of travelling and working, so initially I didn't want to have anything to do with the "kids" in my dorm. What got my attention with Paul was the not-so-graceful ways in which he deflected the advances of an annoying co-ed which culminated in him refusing her invitation to lunch by saying, "No thanks. I'm not eating today." Smooth like...
something really not smooth at all.

Paul and I spent the next four years becoming best friends. Together we explored the world of academia when we weren't too busy doing drinking, doing drugs, chasing women, deconstructing reality and going through the occasional monastic phase when we renounced all of those things. Yes - we renounced philosophy, too. After the dorms we moved in with some friends for a year, and then a much better friend for the last two. Jessica taught us how to be roommates and more importantly functional human beings. In return, we put up with her boyfriends. Ultimately, I believe we all thought it was worth it and together, with the help of the Pixies, Crowded House, and Ricky Lee Jones, we created some of the best memories of our young lives. Even today, when I go to Marin I stay with Jessica - she feels like home. Sitting in the living room on this past visit, Paul on one side and Jessica on the other, I couldn't imagine what I would be like without them. I hoped that Amari would one day have friends like mine.

Paul and his wife Robyn have been visiting with their two boys, Max and Isaac, ever since they moved to England a few years ago. Paul met Robyn on one of our European adventures early in our friendship, and their relationship endured the distance between continents, the test of time, and most impressively two children. Even though I see her infrequently, Robyn is one of my favorite people. She's bright, witty, sarcastic, and easy talk to. She strikes that wonderful balance between commentary and condescension, and Robyn - I mean that as the highest compliment. As for Paul, I keep hoping that a giant pharmaceutical company lures him home by opening a small, one room laboratory down the street from my house. It could happen...

The visit was brief  - too brief. It's hard to be away from home with Amari for too long. The highlights in no particular order were:

1. Pizza-poluzza: On Sunday we all met at Steve's house in Bolinas for a pizza party. Steve has a stone pizza oven in his yard and Bodhi has dough connections across the street from his bar. I spent kindergarten through second grade in Bolinas, and although I don't have many memories - save the ones created from photographs or stories my parents told - I did feel the familiar weight of nostalgia as I drove up the Mesa towards Agate Beach. The one memory I know for sure is mine is of that same winding, Eucalyptus-shaded street littered with Monarch butterflies during their mating season.

The pizza party was wonderfully messy and loud. Kids were runningaround in all directions and although she was initially overwhelmed, eventually Amari was crawling about on the flour-covered hardwood making her Godzilla noises and winning the hearts of the two new boys from Britain. By the end of the evening, I was reliving my glory days at Brother's Pizza as I tossed a few rounds of dough in the air and impressed the adults with my impressively circular crusts.

2. The Boys: Max and Isaac are exceptional kids - sweet, polite, and thoughtful. And I don't think it's just because they're British. Both of them were so gentle and loving with Amari and I'm pretty sure she inherited the Anglophile gene from her mother, because within a day she appeared to have crushes on both of them. Lying in the hammock she stared up at Max, her giant, hazel eyes batting their lashes and  asking him to "Say something else in British." Max reciprocated her affection on our walk around Phoenix lake, saying (in a very adorable accent), "I think Amari's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen." Pausing to look around he added, "But don't tell aunt Molly."

Aunt Molly is Paul's sister, and she has a baby boy named Cahir (pronounced Care) who was born six weeks before Amari. He is also adorable and has way more teeth than Amari, but I'm not going to argue with Max's conclusion. It was cute to see Amari interact with Cahir - they would both show momentary interest in each other and then go about their normal, exploratory baby business. This seems to be the standard for Amari. She's much more interested in cats and small children. She did, however, slowly and gently head butt a fellow infant at one of the gatherings, mimicking a sweet bonding thing she has cultivated with Carrie.

3. Amari breaking a tooth: I think that's what it's called. She finally has a little nub to show for all of her agonizing, crying, sleepless nights, and grumpy days. One down, nineteen to go...


Here are a few pictures from our adventure.

Max and Amari recreating "The Kiss" with no kissing

Amari and Cahir share a moment

Isaac, Cahir, and Paul

Dad trying to be artsy

Dad succeeding at being artsy??

Hiking to the very stroller friendly Kent Lake

That's all folks!