Yesterday Keaton and I decided to walk down to the little "old town" area.
Not too far from the in-laws' place, the walk there is an enjoyable one flanked on the right by the Indian River and the left by a row of riverside houses which are always fun to ogle and envy. The weather was inviting, too, and is part of the reason I proposed the trip. We'd walk down to the little park (the same park where the Santa incident occurred three years ago), kick rocks on the playground a bit and then stroll through the gentrified shopfronts and maybe get some stocking-stuffers for mom.
On the way down Keaton was being Keaton. "The wind feels so refreshing in my hair, dad," she said as she tossed her (somewhat tangled) locks. "You know, I think I was meant to live in Florida. Do you think we could live in Florida sometime?" "Meant to live in Florida?," I asked, "What do you mean?" She explained that, since both mom and I were from Florida that it was like she was supposed to live here. The concept of destiny may be above her, but that's pretty much what she was describing. I told Sharaun's mom about the conversation and she was encouraged.
We picked flowers and dodged fire-ants (currently Keaton's #1 fear in the sunshine state) and even made a stop at the local magic store to nose around. And once again this morning Sharaun's left me with the kids to go shopping (her perpetual pre-Christmas Florida activity, not that it bothers me - being that it relieves me of having to do the same), so I'm thinking we might make a return-trip but this time with Cohen in tow.
Until later then.
Man the weather here is refreshing. Something about the air here at the in-laws' place: fresh coming off the water and just a little touch of Florida humidity but without the oppressive heat and density of the summer months. Christmas-time in Florida really is an excellent clime.
Our trip out was disastrous. We woke at 3am to catch a 6am flight out of California, and that flight was delayed by all manner of things for over an hour (with us sitting in our seats on-board). This resulted in a missed-connection at Denver and the airline auto-re-booking us on a 6pm flight later that day. Not wanting to spend eight hours in the airport with two kids, we tried standby on a couple earlier flights with no luck. Eight long hours later, as 6pm finally rolled around, turns out that outbound aircraft had issues. Another hour and a half and a new plane later we were finally on our way. We pulled into the driveway here at 2:30am Florida time, nearly twenty-one hours of travel time after our west-coast departure. Poor Cohen didn't sleep the entire time, stubborn little man that he is, and was wrecked for our entire first day here.
But now we are here, and all the Christmas presents I had shipped from Amazon were here before us, and the sweet tea is plentiful and family's already come 'round to play... it promises to be a good time. I'm trying to stay away from work as much as possible, but have so far checked email daily like a sucker.
I'm looking forward to some un-scheduled time. No having to be somewhere at this time or meet someone at that time.
Oh and maybe some writing if the inspiration strikes. Bye.
You! Don't fret!
These days, the ones where you work twelve or thirteen hours, these days are going to pay off. OK maybe not in dollars. Or maybe not in respect or position or stature, either. OK what then? Self-respect? Don't think so. Personal satisfaction; yeah that's got to be it. Some Eagle Scout sense of selfless fulfillment. Maybe if it was thirteen hours in a soup kitchen. Thirteen hours, a daily 1/100,000th of a hundredth of a dollar change in stock price. OK so yeah it's not all toil and not a scrap of enjoyment. The chase; the race; the smugness of high performance.
More and more I want to steal some time back and writing gives me that. If I'm sitting here writing I'm not working or thinking about work. More: I've been wanting to write. I get home and I think about what I might write. I email one-line ideas to myself when I'm on the go. Motivation is a strange thing. Did you know that during the "break" this year, the one I may or may not still be on, I let the ten year anniversary of this blog pass silently by? Earlier in the year I had big plans for that September date... was going to do some big self-indulgent "look back" kind of feature... go all out. Alas, it came and went unnoticed whilst I wasn't writing.
Like I said, thought to day about how I wanted to write tonight; wrote tonight. To me that's good.
We're off, traveling again for weeks running, this weekend. Away from work for a while. Look for me.
Just the other day I learned there's a word in German which is defined as the "vicarious embarrassment" a person can feel whilst watching another party doing something embarrassing The word is fremdschämen, and I'd like to get it integrated into my vocabulary as I'm very prone to experiencing this embarrassed-by-proxy emotion. In fact, I seem to be somewhat inclined to the "transfer" of other emotions, as well... let me expand.
Last week I took Keaton up to her school to watch the third-through-fifth grade spelling bee. Not just some rinky-dink thing, this was an "official" Scripps Howard rules bee, complete with fee paid to the aforementioned governing body to both use their rules and qualify winners for advancement to the state and national level (you know, the one they show on ESPN2?). She wasn't in the spelling bee, mind you, they don't let the K-through-2 kids participate, but she had been talking about the thing so much that I decided we'd do a daddy-daughter date night centered around it. Nevermind that, once getting there, the glam and seduction of the spelling bee seemed to dissipate quickly under the reality of the event and she was complaining of being "bored" within the first half-hour, for that's not where this story is going.
We were talking about "emotions by proxy," recall? What I came here to remark on was the sense of pride I found myself feeling watching children who weren't even my own. Pride that these kids were getting the words right, pride in the way they handled being on stage and mic'd in front of a crowd of adults, pride at their aplomb even after misspelling and having to leave the stage. Proud-by-proxy; it happens, at least to me. That fourth-grade kid named Pinder, the tall slender one who just spelled "dramaturgical," a word I'd never even heard, that kid's smile and triumphant walk back to his seat after the judge's "correct" was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes.
Is that odd? I get it too sometimes when I see a local kid sing the national anthem in their hometown before a pro ballgame. For real.
Today Cohen finally stuck a pea so far up his nose that it was irrecoverable.
Backing up a bit, he was in the (bad) habit of putting food in his nose and ears a few weeks back. The phase came and went quickly, waxing and seemingly waning away to zero within the span of a couple weeks. We thought we were past it, thought it was just a funny bit of growing up kid-stuff. Until lunch today, when he got one pushed up just high enough that it's only partially visible with a flashlight at the right angle. Sharaun, in fact, was only somewhat sure there even was a pea up there until I got home from work and was able to confirm it by restraining the poor little man while I peered down his nose.
So, I consulted the internet for medical help. There's plenty of help out there for foreign objects in nose, even specifically peas for that matter - but most of it seems to assume that the pea is completely blocking airway in the offending nostril and as such relies air pressure (sucking, blowing, sneezing, etc.) to dislodge it. Cohen's pea, though, isn't completely blocking his nostril. He can breathe right around it so suction or blowing simply moves air past the not-going-anywhere pea.
Poor little guy just doesn't get why mom and dad have him pinned-down to the bed, holding his arms and legs and shining a bright light into his face. To him it's torture.
Sharaun's on the phone with the doctor now. Poor Cohen got too tired of me sticking the suction bulb in his nose or blowing through his mouth or having pepper shoved at him in an effort to invoke a sneeze and just dropped into bed. He's sleeping peacefully and we don't plan on waking him to deal further with the pea problem. But to be safe we wanted to make and vet our executive parental decision with an actual M.D. I don't think even the doctor will be able to convince me that waiting hours in the emergency room or urgent care is the better than an early morning pediatrician appointment, anyway.
Got into Vegas from Shanghai just an hour or so ago.
Upon seeing this shiny place ringed by desert again, I didn't expect to have such a strong emotional reaction. Maybe the jetlag contributed, but being here again after this summer's RV trip, for only the second time in my life, just smashed down on me and almost made my eyes water. It's not like I'm remembering something that happened twenty years ago, either - we were here back in July. I think it's a testament to just how impactful that trip was on me.
Maybe I didn't realize exactly how broadly the journey effected me, and to some extent maybe I'm still settling back into things and coming off that road-high. Writing might be one example of this. I know in my head that at some point I'm going to call this sounds familiar dead-time "the big gap." That I've already named it for future writing means I'm getting closer. More telling still are the ideas for entries that have been jumping into my head again; on plane flights, in taxis, on the soccer field, the shower; the usual places.
It could be that I haven't seen my family in two weeks, and won't for another few days before we meet again in Portland. Missing them and being here, a place where, even if we didn't really have the best time in the world, I was last together with them on this wild transforming journey, surely plays a part. I miss my family.
So I don't know... but I'm going to go out and walk the strip a bit (after a shower to wash the full day's travel off me) and see if I can catch further nostalgia.
Until later then.
This Friday afternoon I'll slip out of work a little early and head home.
Once there I'll double-check that I've got all my gear in order: Backpack, tent, sleeping bag, food, fire, water, bugspray, sunscreen, fishing pole & tackle, pistol. Keaton will be in the garage as I do this last-minute sanity-check to ensure we're ready and I'll use that time to foster more excitement about our trip. I'll cinch up the pack and chuck it in the back of the GMC. I'll ask Keaton if she's gone over her pack, made sure she's rightly-provisioned and is ready to go, I'll get her emotionally involved and also be giving her a lesson on what to bring for a successful overnight backpacking trip. I'm hoping she'll be full of anticipation and excitement and anxious to get on the road and on the trail.
We'll head up the mountain around 4pm so we can park and put feet to earth by 6:30pm. We'll race the sunset to try and get to camp, 2mi in from our starting point, by dusk. After setup and a late dinner we'll have a small permit-be-damned fire and roast marshmallows and bundle up against the nighttime chill. Come morning we'll wake with the sun and eat a backwoods breakfast, I'll ask her to help me get it ready and be part of the team, while contemplating the beauty of God's creation and the benefits of solitude. No Saturday morning cartoons, no couch to lounge on. In the heat of the day we'll go bug-catching, try fishing in the creek, throw a Frisbee, hunt for some Geocaches. We'll take a light lunch wherever we are around 1pm. Around 4pm we'll pack it in and I'll again require her assistance - she's going to walk away knowing she was an integral part of our camping success story.
We'll be back home again by nightfall Saturday, a short 24hrs later and returned to the comforts of home - don't want to overdue the "fun" on our first daddy/daughter sojourn.
I can't wait.