In fourth grade I played the viola.  In retrospect, I only really played it because I couldn’t play any of the cool instruments allotted to fifth graders. So my mother shelled out the money to rent two separate instruments two years in a row – I guess I can’t complain we never were allowed anything.

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But it was when I was my movement to the band instead of orchestra that I picked up a golden tube of pure disappointment.

I’m not one for practice, at least when, and so anytime I’d pick the thing up to teach myself a thing or two my heart wasn’t in it and my “practice sessions” lasted less and less time. I didn’t really care about the damn thing to begin with and only wanted to fit in with some girl I was eyeing – that cute girl in drum line two rows behind me. When the whole band would practice together, I always kicked myself for not picking up the snare drum instead to awkwardly eye her from the same row. Fifth grade band went scooting by in quiet clumsiness and I usually just moved my hands on the keys while my peers played during concerts.

Then middle school came knocking. At Hubble, kids in band stayed after and the thirty something with a four-foot pony-tail brought a much stronger presence than my lumpy elementary band conductor did. I made it to one session. I couldn’t hold up the lie anymore. Lessons were no longer played together, where I hid my playing behind my classmates. There were deadlines and song were to be memorized. My excuses were riddled with holes, and I just didn’t care anymore. To top it off my little drummer girl was only spotted in a sea of kids on concert nights; the band, as a whole, rarely played together.

I quit, much to the chagrin of my mother –  who was, unsurprisingly, upset about flushing a chunk of money on something she had pressured me take more seriously, even having a conversation before renting for another year. Was sure I wanted to play in middle school? That poor woman.

In light of recent horrific tragedies, I can’t help but write something. First, let be clear: I am in no way attempting to marginalize the severity of the actions carried out by a man on a shooting spree, let alone in an elementary school. This isn’t a normal thing for me to post, but I felt the need to put something down. To at least write it up here, allowing a collection of thoughts.

This is about the news. Let us not blame 24 hour news cycles, or 9/11, or a growing partisanship in politics on how news coverage is shaped – I’m not going to point fingers at for-profit news coverage either but there are issues. Serious issues on the morality of a story.

To harp on images of mothers and fathers breaking in a school parking lot, to replay old tapes of that poor high school student being dragged from the second floor window in Columbine, to plop a child under the harsh lens of a camera to explain how his teacher saved his life, or to play a father’s weeping press conference over like a sport’s replay film is vile. Plain and simple. When did death become a part of the american public narrative? Why can we not be notified as a bulletin instead of force-fed reels of aerial shots and slow motion photo pans? Why must we poke the fresh wounds of a community to see them squirm, tear up, shake and pause?

The shooting in Connecticut was like a broadcast rating analyst’s wet dream. Children in harms way, a mad gun man, a small affluent white town, within driving range of Manhattan, and all on a Friday – because then it could be poured into the news feeds all weekend as if we’re ducks at a Foie-gras factory. Enough is enough.

Stations attempts to find blame in mental health or gun control laws, but never reflects against their over-coverage of over-seas island retreat killings, mall shootings, and playing a highlight show on how you aren’t safe anywhere in the world, all while anxiety medicine rolls seconds after saying how this could have happened anywhere. I’m not placing blame solely on them – but stirring the pot surely isn’t helping. There are of course surreal moments when it’s mentioned; strange meta-discussions on how media plays their part, then it’s back to a 3D schematic of the building with a step-by-step on the rampage.

It’s sad. All of it. There is a lot to be down about, from all sides: from feeling grief and fear for the families, children, and teachers – but also the idea of the news ship landing square in town, dropping us there in the most vulnerable time in their life. Despicable.

Let’s try to move away from slide shows and splashing the anti-hero’s face, let’s get the news and grieve in our own way – in private.

In the space between finals and the start of second semester when it seems like everyone’s classes are done ganging up on them – in that cool lull in the spring where it’s too cool to keep the windows open – my good buddy Nate and I sat chatting about music. It was Sunday evening and he was still nursing a hangover layered with a cold, face-down in his pillow with an open and empty pizza box at arms reach he mumbled something about The Who.

At the time I was revving up my music obsession and had picked up Live at Leeds and played it through my grounds-crew-at-the-airport style headphones in a way that told everyone in earshot that I was going to have hearing loss before my forties. But that wasn’t the point, I liked The Who – hell I loved them. But it was in this moment with my friend stretched out with an inch of his round belly poking out underneath his dark-colored shirt, awkwardly seated forward in a butterfly chair, the dorm room door open and the crackling record player that I found out that music changes you.

The LP chased the sun set. Roaring into our ears and fluttering out of the room. Short breaks between of me flipping or changing to the second record. It was loud. Not in the way parties or “rocking out” is loud – it was a thunderous. The waves crashed around us, we were there – in studio, we inhaled Townshed’s riffs and exhaled our misconceptions of rock and roll. It was an overture for us all. No one walked in or said a word, neither of us spoke. I was warm with sound, the emotional work poured into the artist on the other end.

All I could do was huff and laugh a little at the end of “Love, Reign o’er Me.” I was sad it was over. I had to go back to living my life. I was on pause, as if Captain N mashed his belt and the Who and I were the only ones there to witness these moments. There was no coming back.

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Being around my son all day it’s easy to lose sight of what he actually is. He’s a little person. A living, thinking, feeling person just waiting to grow up. What is hard to ignore is the idea that everything I do, the “don’t touch that”s, the shoveling of yogurt into his mouth (he loves it), the times he plays alone, and the times we spend together all add up into this thing. This child, then a teenager and by then it’s well past over

Finn could be a senator some day, or just some guy you pass in the amusement park scooping invisible trash into his dustpan, but he’s growing up. I lose sight sometimes that he’s learning, he’s watching, making sense of his world. I’ve got to be that guiding hand,  we’ve got to be that.

Maybe this is the crushing responsibility everyone warns you about.


These may not be ‘great’ albums, or the best by the artists, but they are albums that, in a broad sense, help construct an identity for myself.

In the turmoil that is the average middle school the horrible subversive infighting, painful chastising, life-long damage to self-worth and the like – mine was particularly bad. Some back history: I failed seventh grade. Not in a way that school systems allow kids to do, nor in a way that parents would allow their kids to do so either. I had a self-inflicted agonizing loss of close friends in a way that would make any part of child’s life hard, but stack that on top of being placed into a ‘last chance’ class for the horrible fringe children of Hubble Middle School – well I might as well have been gum on the shoes of mediocrity popular. I attempted to eat lunch with people I knew but was cast out publicly, shamed for days, until I spent the rest of year eating ho-hos in the hallway – avoiding hall monitors and crying tears of embarrassment. My poor teacher, who had his own demons (his wife having a nasty case of breast cancer,) allowed us social bottom-feeders in the room when we whined enough to break. When he didn’t it was the three steps across the hall, or the desk placed directly outside the door, me, a green bag of Sun Chips, and a sack of two off-brand ho-hos.

So it was during this part of my life I picked up an album. An album by a band I only liked in passing but wanted to buy so the cool (see: bad) kids in my Educational Opportunities class would think I was somehow cool too. They, of course, didn’t think this in any dark recesses of their psych – but they borrowed the album no matter. It was a different time when CDs were king and you had one that you were into and played it to the point of mania.

Another short piece of back story: Mr. Comstock, the shepherd of us lost souls, was doing a ton of research on ADHD. I had (have?) a pretty nasty case and he put to use a handful of tools to help me study. One that stuck for the rest of my life: white noise – or more accurately, jams while working. So I brought my CD player in, my fancy rear-wrap headphones, and RC adapter in to relinquish half of brain to the music.

So this brings us back to the classroom. Where seeming the only normalizing album in my collection was ‘Hello Nasty’ by the Beastie Boys. It wasn’t my foot in the door to being hip, but it was a way to feel normal, to feel needed by my peers. That is just the tangible item. The album harps on some pretty dark themes, has bright poppy songs splashed with a message, and just like nearly any pop album of a preteen’s library – leads the listener to believe it’s about them. It spun and spun in my CD player, the brain-cation between my ears, allowing me to get away from being an emotional fringe blob.

Everything about it is the ideal metaphor for my life at the time.

This may come as a surprise to any parts of my family that happen to read this, but they are horrible. Not individually,  quite the opposite actually when we’re paired off and spend time separated from the pack.

There was always a low-level grumbling about an uncle not showing up when the horde got together. I never really understood his plight, his surely is much more complicated, but sympathized after my first year in college. Take a breather away from the drowning volume of my family and it’s easy to see why anyone with extended time away wants to keep their distance. My family is also painfully insular in a way to drive any new person mad, all the in-laws have an unspoken kinship and get along just because of the madness.

It is when I return that I find myself holding my tongue  keeping to myself, and leaving the adults to their own accords. As I moved across country I feared I’d be pushed out into a mire where, because of my time away, questions where more about what kept me busy during the day with little judgement. Don’t think my family is hurling insults or kicking glances in painful made-for-tv sort of way – it’s much more painful and childish, where everyone collects snips of passing judgement from one another like a bad cold and we’re all secretly miserable together.

I’m sure other families are much worse, with abusive drunkenness or real fist fighting – I am not attempting to level myself with that frame of mind. No, I’m simply stating that my move away from my family allowed myself to cast my mold instead of being shoehorned into one.

So to those wondering if college out-of-state or move into your own apartment, or that move across country for no good reason at all is a good idea – it is.

When you list what I do in a usual day it’s almost never a full sentence. Took a walk. Saw an eagle. Hell, even a day like today – where Finn and I barely had downtime, it’s crunched down into a five second explanation. After driving Lis to work, we had a snack then a nap, went to tumble class, filled the CO2 tank, Finn ate lunch and I drank fancy beer and we both ate Japanese for Lunch.

It’s strange when you start to mark your days in snips, sectioning them out in pieces that are tiny hurdles easily making them passable, your days are dumped – like opening doors of a spillway, seconds flood out of existence. When minutes become a ticker, when it’s just a quarter of an hour till the next bottle, when it’s nearly time for bath, life goes by. It’s not a flash of happenings, thing happen at regular pace – it’s the world at large going by and you are stuck on your knees holding your child’s hand as he reaches for the fleck of cardboard scraped off the cat scratcher.

I can’t put the blame on my son. I’m getting older each day, and somehow hours in a day are just never enough anymore. We stop and enjoy the view on our walks often, nearly every single day.

I’ve spent time watching sunsets with Finn, sitting with him as we stare across the rolling hills of western Maine to the far mountains that blot the horizon. Just about everyday I fall in love with this place again. But there isn’t enough time anymore. I don’t hold a powerful job either, or sip coffee while in a suit, or rush around a café (anymore). Sure, I notice the sun being hurled across the sky, but there is no slowing it down.

Life is busy, and even at my age I’m finding myself chasing the clock.

I’ve thought of writing a bit of social media advice and a blanket of information that maybe someone will stumble upon or potential clients will think I’m at least pretending to know what I’m talking about. So here is part one:

Don’t let someone else tell you what you should be doing with Social Media. Okay, let someone else help you, but don’t take advice as an order. This may seem obvious for those with a small business who are always the first to do a little background checking and data collecting before going ahead. Even then though, don’t substitute what is best for you and your company for what you are “supposed to do.” Don’t think just because they’ve got years of experience doing social media for a tire depot, doesn’t mean they’ll know how to do it for a cake shop. Sure, they could give advice, but it’s not all going to be correct. Only you know your audience, and if you don’t only you can offer the authenticity to gain a real audience.

Which reminds me, social media isn’t a numbers game. Do not base your work put into it by how many followers, fans you’ve collected this month. Yes, it can be a very helpful way to guide what you’re doing, but it’s not a line in stone.

So don’t let some hot-shot tell you how s/he’ll fix everything and make it all better. Don’t pay some lug a couple grand to build a Facebook page, or to post a ‘deal’ on twitter. It’s your business, don’t get bullied.

I’ve spent most of the last six months telling myself in bite-sized lies about how I’ve chunkd up my day; how I don’t have time to write here, how I can’t slate time to do work or why I’m not playing with my son on the floor during his time awake. Why should he feel it’s normal for an adult to sit hunch-backed watching cat videos. I’ve been distracted, feeling sort of lost in a sea of new things and strange timelines that I don’t have control over. Something I kept asking is if Finn, my son, would be proud of me each day of the things I’ve done – as menial as writing a blog about a new dairy-free chocolate sauce can be.

Sure, I said. He’d be proud of the “hard work” done by my half-assed parenting from the chair leering from other side of the room as he bangs into things and I pretend to tell myself I’m doing work while I surf Reddit.

I’m going nowhere doing this crap. He’s going to end up going to school and I’ll be stuck behind doing an ‘okay’ job for my overly nice boss stationed in Chicago. Enough is enough, it’s no longer time to shift papers and touch on things or only write when I get the incline to do so. This is my god damn life line, something I keep saying that I’ve always wanted to do and I’m stuck back in the masses shrugging all the way wondering “what now.”

I’m tired of “just enough.”

Oh hey, this thing is back. Yay! Turns out, I’m not great at web dev stuff – who would have thought! My move from Justhost to apisnetworks was a bit bumpy. The folks at apis were very nice and even set up everything for me, but being the dolt I am – it wasn’t “perfect” so a little change of code here and… wooops! A good month later I buckled down, plowed through about 6 installs of wordpress and finally piecemealed the sql backup files along with a base-install of wordpress. Yeah, should have done that in the first place. On to my life!

Finn is walking, pretty much. He’s still pretty uncertain on his feet but is moving a lot these days. Being a stay-at-home parent is getting to be a whole lot of work. Mostly emotional work, because good lord am I fried after a long day of yelling and teething moodiness  Oy vay. He’s also more attached to Lis than me. Which is fine, but after a whole day of yelling and crying – to have him smile and giggle as soon as she walks in a bit wrenching. Overall though, I’d say I couldn’t be happier with how this has worked out; I’m getting paid to write and doing what I’ve always said I wanted to do – be a stay-at-home dad.

Beer is going great. I picked up two more kegs for an incredibly low twenty bucks. They both hold pressure and the tiny bit of stale beer washed out quickly enough. One keg is dedicated to serving Lis’s drink of choice: sparking water. We were buying cases of the stuff anyway – nearly one a week at its peak. So I decided to be fiscally responsible by picking up a keg for her, and why not an extra for me? Bottle the cream ale, the IPA is kegged, and I’ve got ten gallons of cider conditioning with two different yeasts. I think I’m going to break up the ciders into many one-offs: dry hopped (4766, local inspiration), back sweetened (both), dry (both), and maybe even a bourbon oaked version (4766). Coming up is either a cherry stout or a start of my ne0-noble hop experiments.

All I’ve got for now. Be well.