Thursday, December 31, 2009
Ten years ago...
I had just declared bankruptcy. Moved in with my brother because I had nowhere else to go. I had just gotten a new job which was going really well - my first year in the nonprofit world.
I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I think my brother and I just stayed in and watched the fireworks on tv. Or else I had gone somewhere to sing karaoke with a bunch of drunken strangers for New Year's, hoping to get lucky.
The WTO protests had just happened in Seattle, and everyone was feeling a little edgy. Seattle's New Year's celebrations were scaled dramatically. The fireworks went off as planned, but Seattle Center was shut down to the public. Some guy named Ahmed Ressam had been caught smuggling explosives on a ferry into Washington State, and he said he was planning to blow up LAX.
What a difference a decade makes. Happy New Year to all of my beloved readers.
Sometime, if I get around to it next week, I may put together a list of my favorite albums of the decade. But for now, here's my fave albums of two-diggity-diggity-nine. In no particular order. (That's not really true.)
Wilco - Wilco (the Album)
Predictable, sure. (After all, they did borrow my name for their previous album.) But I really loved this album. They continue to produce sweet, introspective songs like "One Wing" and "You and I", and added some new classics like "You Never Know" and "I'll Fight." A great album, all the way through.
Taken by Trees -
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Passion Pit - Manners
Dark Was the Night - Various Artists
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I was asked recently if I knew any good storybooks for kids that involved dads. It's a much harder question than you would think.
- Owl Moon - Jane Yolen
- The Ice Palace - Deborah Blumenthal
- Baby Brains (and the other related Baby Brains books) - Simon James
- The Gruffalo's Child (okay, it's about a monster and his dad, but that
- counts, right?) - Julia Donaldson
- Daddies are for Catching Fireflies - Harriet Ziefert
- Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti - Anna Grossnickle Hines
- The Angelina Ballerina books
- The Lilly the Mouse books - Kevin Henkes (Henkes always does a great
- job giving dads and moms equal time)
- Enemy Pie - Derek Munson (another great bonding book about dads and sons)
- Born in the Gravy - Denys Cazet
- The Summer My Father was Ten - Pat Brisson
- Kevin and His Dad - Irene Smalls
- Danny, the Champion of the World - Roald Dahl (probably for older
- If I Were Your Father - Margaret Park Bridges
- The Trumpet and the Swan - E.B. White
- Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg - Dr. Seuss (not about dads exactly, but Horton = nurturing male role model)
- Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too (where the dads walk their kids to school, and they end up saving the day!)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I have to share the amazing feat I just witnessed.
Oliver got a lovely present from his grandmother - a copy of "The Night Before Christmas." It's one of those books that Hallmark sells where you can record your own voice reading the book. It's pretty clever. The pages all have sensors on them, so every time you turn the page, her voice begins reading the words on the page.
And he loves it. He's listened to it probably a dozen times in the last two days, over and over again. And one time, we saw him listening to it, and we noticed something interesting. After grandma was done reading her page, he would repeat everything she just said, word for word.
So tonight, he listened to it one more time as his bedtime story. And then he had me read it. But here's what happened. He started reciting the story along with me, so I started reading lines and then stopping to let him finish the line.
And then he took over. He started reciting the poem from the names of the reindeer - "On Dasher! On Dancer!" - all the way to the end, on his own. I didn't have to prompt him once. We just watched him, jaws hanging open, while he delivered the entire poem all the way to the end. All I could do was turn the pages, one by one, and stare at him. He didn't skip a single word.
That is a complicated poem, full of long sentences and quirky words. And he just rolled right through it, like he was doing Mary Had a Little Lamb. It was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I ordered a vanilla latte, and the guy obviously grabbed the wrong bottle of syrup. So I ended up unexpectedly with a toasted marshmallow latte.
The taste was at once bewildering - delightfully pleasurable, and completely disarming at the same time. Every time I took a sip, my mouth would react like "Mmmmm. Wait, what the hell is going on here?" The flavor was that cottony delicious sugar rush of marshmallow, with just a hint of charcoal and caramelization. It was a strong enough flavor to completely overwhelm the taste of coffee. I don't know what kind of chemicals they put into that syrup to generate those sensations, but it's amazingly lifelike.
Drinking a toasted marshmallow out of a cup feels completely wrong to the senses. It's like petting a shadow on the head, or tucking a sunbeam under your pillow, or listening to the pages of a book.
That being said, it was delicious.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
I know very little about this case. I have avoided stories of this story feverishly, even though it is a story that touches many of my neighbors. Even though the accused lives in the same city, the same neighborhood, as my family. However, I feel called to talk about it because it is so close to home, literally and figuratively.
I have avoided this story the way I avoid all stories of murder: gruesome murder, celebrity murder, exploitative stories about murder, tragic stories about murder. I avoid these stories. I don't watch movies that talk cavalierly about murder, or movies like Pulp Fiction that use dead bodies as a punch line. I wince at the way murder is treated in this country, and especially in the news.
So I did not seek out and I do not wish to know more about the Amanda Knox story: about her alibi, her claims of innocence. I do not wish to hear the cries from her family that she could not possibly have done something like this. I do not want to know. I don't follow murder stories.
My brother was murdered fourteen years ago, you see. (Some of my longtime readers have heard me talk about this before.) We found out weeks after it had happened. They found my father's address in his personal effects and were able to track him down, and they called him to identify the body of his son.
One of the killers was found and arrested, years later. He went to trial. I was asked to attend as a witness. I saw photos of my brother's body, taken at the morgue, depicting the blows that ended his life. I saw the evidence of what had been done to him. I saw these things and I wish that I never had.
I saw the man who was accused of murdering my brother. I heard the prosecutor and a witness to the crime describe the things that had been done to end my brother's life. I heard his attorney offer alibis, explanations, reasons why their client could not possibly have done these horrible things.
I met his family, the murderer's family. They couldn't understand how such a mistake could have happened. They were upset, angry, confused, and they know their son was innocent. They just knew it. He wasn't that kind of person.
He was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and was sentenced to life in prison. I have not seen him since that trial and I don't know if I will ever see his face again, except in my dreams, except when I want to think about my brother and instead, I see the ruddy face of the man who took his life.
So no, I don't want to know more about Amanda Knox' situation. I don't want to know the holes in the prosecution's case. I don't want to know the alternative theories of how the murder transpired. It's not that I dislike Ms. Knox or that I've prejudged her. I just don't want to know any more. I can't do it. I choose to just close my eyes and let the system do its job.
I know this, however. I know that Italy is a nation of laws, a nation with a legitimate government. I know that Knox' trial was not conducted by reading goat entrails or casting runes. I know that her trial was carried out in a legitimate court. And if the jury said that she was guilty, then I have to believe that she was guilty. A person was murdered. Meredith Kercher's family deserves justice. I will not, I dare not question the judgment of that Italian jury. It is not my right. None of us has that right except the judge and the men and women who made up that jury. That's how it works.
I believe that the jury who convicted my brother's murder carried out their role and meted out justice. I believe that the jury who convicted Amanda Knox did the same. I have to believe that. There are so many murders in this country and around the world that go unsolved, their perpetrators left to roam free, the families of the victims left with gaping wounds in their hearts. I have to believe that justice was carried out here, and I do believe that. It is disrespectful to Meredith Kercher's family, to that jury, and to the entire country of Italy to claim otherwise.
And that's all I can say about that.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I bought a scale. Yep, finally.