BTE?!

More on this soon, but I just wanted to give you the update — and a spoiler alert — that this latest trip to California was maybe the BEST TRIP EVER!

Except for having to leave World Headquarters at 3:45 a.m. to drive to Santa Barbara to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight. That’s borderline criminal.

But still. BTE? It’s more than a contender. It’s in the World Series of BTEs for me.

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New experiences

Molly didn’t have school today because winter break began. And now that she’s a kindergartener, we have more options to send her to programming in town on days the schools are closed. So today she went to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s day camp program. She wasn’t super psyched about it, but she was a trooper and tolerated the idea. But when I picked her up after 5 and she was one of only two kids left, I kinda panicked. I asked her, “How was your day?” She said, “Awesome!” She and the remaining girl – who had to be at least 8 — gave each other hugs and discussed if they were returning for future days. When M heard the girl was coming back on Jan 2, she asked if she could, too. As we were leaving, I asked her to tell me some specifics about the day. She said, “It was too amazing to talk about.”

A Madison tradition

I was sad to read this news today, but despite my mom’s misgivings on Rocky’s pizza, I’m grateful for the tradition. And like a good Madisonian, Aaron now has Mollybear hooked on it.

Mourning

My dad died on October 17 of this year and I haven’t been doing so well with it.

I see his name here – in recent comments – and the waterworks start. I had thought for so long he wasn’t interested in the blog, but of late he was one of its few readers. Everyone keeps commenting to me on how we had such a “complicated” relationship. But really, it wasn’t that complicated. I loved him. Like, it broke my heart how much I loved him. And he loved me. The part folks describe as complicated, I guess, is that he was never able to love me for who I really am. And that broke me. He was forever upset at how sensitive I am, constantly telling me to toughen up. He was always criticizing my taste in things — movies, art, books, tv. He didn’t like the way I played sports, criticizing me for generous calls I made in tennis. I was just under the omnipresent understanding that I was doing it all wrong. But it wasn’t all that complicated. I loved him. He loved me. I just knew he wanted me to be a different me.

He also always made me know that he’d had it so much worse than I could know. His parents had been blindingly horrid to him and his brother. And I believe and believed it. But what was I to do with that as a seven-year-old? Or now? I was always taught that I was lucky that my dad was as “normal” and kind as he was; I should be grateful: it could be so much worse. As if any of it were something I had a part in.

I’m not exactly sure what lessons to take from my dad. I know that he gave me extraordinary gifts and tools. But he also gave me heightened sensitivity and anger and depression. But besides Molly, I know that he gave me tangible good. The thing that makes me more grateful to him than I can articulate is my love of art. It’s what makes me get up in the morning and what makes me believe in humanity. It’s what gives me hope. And I thank my dad for giving me that gift. My mom fanned and fans it for sure. But it was my dad’s passion. And I’m grateful forever to have been born in its shadow.

This

One of my favorite modern-day legal thrilers is a little-watched movie called Fracture. Despite having an all-star cast, I find that few folks I know have seen this gem. Mostly I love it for Ryan Gosling’s performance, but I won’t hesitate to admit that I love it because I think that the picture is a bit of an ode to public service. An excerpt:

You know what nobody understands about certain kinds of low paid public service work? Every now and then you get to put a fucking stake in a bad guy’s heart. 

We”re not supposed to talk about that when we visit a third grade classroom for career day and it doesn’t get you very far into a country club locker room, but it’s hard to beat when you actually get to do it.

I mean? Amen.