Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flight of the Fireflies

I heard it once be said that if you're going to run, run like a deer running through the woods. I've taken that saying to heart. And when I do run, I try to run with reckless abandon. It's either all or nothing. I'm either not running or I am aspiring to run fifty miles through the Appalachian Mountains. There is very rarely anything in between. 

When I first started my new job in April, I didn't run for two months. Surprisingly, I didn't miss it. I used the time to get used to my new schedule and to learn my new responsibilities. With my schedule changing weekly, I wasn't exactly sure when I would find time to run. I was content, having no other distractions than work and family.

But when I started running again, I realized that I missed the tension of the underlying--almost subconscious--narrative that connected my days and weeks. Without running, I had few real goals and few ways to frame my existence. Without running my days can run together: get up, get the kids ready for school, work, etc. Every day has the potential of being more or less the same. But when I'm running, my runs, at least, are different and serve as markers that differentiate one day from the other.

A few weeks ago, I came back from a run with a pain in the top of my foot. This was June 15, and I have not run since. I've been to a physical therapist who diagnosed it as tendinitis, but after two physical therapy sessions and two weeks of rolling my calves with a foam roller and ice, I'm starting to wonder if it is perhaps not another stress fracture in one of the small bones in my foot.

When I'm injured (and especially when I don't know the exact nature of the injury), I have a tendency to become somewhat...well, if not melancholic....then definitely lacking in affect. I know "runner's blues" is ridiculous to even entertain with so much legitimate pain and suffering in the world, but it doesn't affect my mood any less. I think when your body is used to receiving a certain serving of endorphins everyday and then all of a sudden that supply is gone, there is some biochemical reaction at play. Knowing that doesn't make me any more fun to be around.

Elise has pointed out that running is not sustainable. That I can't run forever and that at some point I'll be too old or frail or decrepit to run. What then? Will I just become that old man that sits around and drinks too much and yells at kids for climbing in trees. She's right, of course. On many levels, I know this to be true. I just don't know what else to do. I have ideas....ride my bike, go to the rock climbing gym, yoga....but I just can't seem to give up on running yet. 

Summer is here.

The kids are out of school, and though Elise has planned three pool parties for them this week, the transition has not been easy. I feel a lot like we are in the same place we were when we got back from India, somewhat disoriented, very dislocated. The kids thrive on schedule and, like me without my endorphins, all of the sudden they have no schedule and they are going through withdrawals. 

The boys were incredibly sad when school was over. That lasted for all of about ten minutes, then they were asking Elise and I what they could do, complaining that they were bored, and begging to watch Netflix on the iPad. 

In general, the kids have been absolutely insane. I am hoping they are just somewhat out of sorts and that soon they will fall into routine of having no routine. But it's hair-pulling maddening to listen to them argue at 7:00 in the morning over turning the lights on and off. 

This has been...probably...mostly...almost....definitely....the worst week since we moved to Falls Church. I'm begging for the week to be over, wishing it away, not knowing if next week will be any better, not really knowing what to do to make sure it is, but just glad I'll be home for three days in between. 

I was washing dishes at the sink one evening last week. It was late almost nine, but the sun goes down late here in June, and it was still dusk. When I saw a a phosphorescent trail whizz through the bushes in the backyard through the window at the sink. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but then I saw it again. And--recalling late Mays in Baltimore--I knew what were causing the moon dust-like trails that looked like shooting stars. Fireflies. I immediately called for Elise and she came to the window, too, and saw them. It was magical. Like fairies or a twinkling string of lights. 

The kids were already asleep, but Sam stayed up late enough to see them the next night and Pete and Lulu late enough to see them the night after that. Standing on the windowsill of the window in the dining room that's looks out over the backyard.

I may not be able to run and the kids are acting bat-shit crazy, but, for a short time at any rate, a month or so I am told, we have magic in our backyard. 

Let the summer begin.....

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer Fun



Elise took the kids to their first pool party/play date of the summer. And they're off to another one today! Looks like it's going to be a pretty fun summer...and it's still only the first week!

Learning to Fly

No looking back now!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Saying Goodbye (Again)

After a too brief reunion in D.C., it was time to for Elise and the kids to say goodbye to their bffs.



Yes, that is Clementine pouting in the background. Not because she had to say goodbye. Because we made her get off the iPad to come outside to say goodbye. In her defense, she was very tolerant as the kids took over the house. By the end of the day, she was ready for Sam and Pete to come home from school.


There she is trying not to crack a smile as Elise is behind the camera making everyone laugh. : ) 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

If You Give a Dad a Donut

Father's Day, 2016








The boy knows his father all right!








T. Rex vs. Spinosaurus





By: Peter




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

End of School Picnic



Sam's class walked to Cherry Hill Park yesterday afternoon for an end-of-school year picnic!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sam's Soccer Team


The sprinkler being on while it's been raining for the last month was fairly indicative of the month of May.

But Sam scored TWO GOALS in his last game!! Couldn't be more proud. 

49

Though the days have been long, I was able to pull myself out of bed again at 4:30. I got home from work around 8:30 the night before. As I shrugged out of my jacket and put my wallet, keys, phone, and badge on the bench next to the door, I heard Clementine calling me from her bedroom. The kids were all in bed (in soft new pajamas), reading. I pretended I didn’t recognize them in their new pajamas—easy laughs—then listened as they told me stories about their days.

Clementine said she went to the zoo. When I called her on it, she told me she was, “just faking.” Though Sam had Field Day, he was tired, and I didn’t hear a lot about it. I gave them hugs, kisses, turned the lights out, got them sips of water, moved Clementine to our bed when she said she couldn’t sleep (because she took a nap) and a got her a book, ate leftover mac ‘n’ cheese and cold green beans (delicious, despite the description), made gin and tonics for Elise and I, sat down on the couch, not even bothering to change out of my work clothes; I knew I wouldn’t last long and all I wanted to do was talk to my wife.

The stresses of recent days have left both Elise and I perhaps feeling exposed. The kids (thankfully) have no idea what is going on in the world and don’t understand why we are on edge. And I am to keep it that way. In fact, one of my major goals as a parent is to let them be kids for as long as they can be, blissfully ignorant of all that goes on in the world. Despite an overwhelming need to hold my family close, when they go about their usual craziness, it takes Herculean effort to grant them the patience they deserve. I know it has been no more difficult to get them into bed or off to school than usual, though it seems that way.

I don’t know how to process my own feelings. I know Elise doesn’t either. It’s not something I can consciously do. I have nothing to say, no wisdom to impart, no meaning to parse into what has happened.

I know a lot of commentators have chimed in. I haven’t read a lot of their remarks, but I did hear those from Stephen Colbert:

“Naturally, we each ask ourselves what can you possible say in the face of this horror,” he said. “Then sadly you realize you know what to say because it’s been said too many times before. You have a pretty good idea of what most people are going to say. You know what a president, whoever it is, will probably say. You know what both sides of the political aisle will say. You know what gun manufacturers will say. Even me, with a silly show like this, you have some idea of what I will say. Because even I have talked about this when it has happened before. It’s as if there’s a national script that we have learned. And I think by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time. With nothing changing. Except for the loved ones and the families of the victims for whom nothing will ever be the same.

Colbert continued, saying it’s easy to be “paralyzed” by what he called “a monstrously hateful act,” “to despair and say, ‘Oh, well that’s the way the world is now.’”

But, he added, that mindset was a slippery slope to more trouble. “I don’t know what to do,” Colbert said. “But I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything. Now these people in Orlando were apparently targeted for who they love. And there have been outpourings of love throughout the country and around the world. Love in response to hate. Love does not despair. Love makes you strong. Love gives us the courage to act. Love gives up hope that change is possible. Love allows us to change the script.

“So love your country, love your family, love the families and the victims and the people of Orlando,” he said, closing the remarks. “But let’s remember love is a verb. And to love means to do something.”

For the last week and a half, the trains between two stations on my line have been single-tracking, taking an hour of my day I don’t have. Last night, as I headed west toward home, toward the sunset, I wondered what would happen next. I think about what happened exclusively through the lens of what it means for my kids, for Sam, Peter, and Clementine, who have no idea what happened or what politicians are saying about what happened and why.

What will happen next? What will come next? Another incident? More deadly and monstrous than the last? How many times can one condemn something in the strongest words? Invoke that superlative? Words can only be so strong, and the strongest words, too, only so strong. There is finite power in their strength, until the acts exceed our ability to condemn them. We will no longer have the vocabulary. Is this the world we live in now? The kids know no other way to get on a plan other than to take off your shoes. When overseas and kids didn’t have to take their shoes off anymore, we had to coach them out of taking off their shoes. The act had become so natural to them and they never questioned why they had to do it. They just did it as though it were a normal thing to have to do to ride on an airplane.

I got out of bed this morning and went for a run. I ran hard. I hurt my foot. I’ll have to ice it tonight and take tomorrow off. On my way home, the sun started to come up. It had been drizzling ever-so-slightly for the last mile or so, and as the sky turned golden, a full rainbow appeared in the sky, over the morning commute, amidst the cantaloupe-colored clouds. As all these thoughts were whirling in my head, as my feet were pushing me from below, trying to put miles between me and my thoughts, unsuccessfully, the answer appeared.

I fought back tears as it all became to clear. I wish you could have seen it.


And at that moment, I knew exactly what would happen. At mile 3.5, I knew Sam, Peter, and Clementine would be okay. 

They would be just fine. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

50

I pulled myself out of bed at 4:45. The kids had stayed up until 10:00 the night before, and Elise and I didn’t go to bed until 11:00, after having spent the evening with old friends from Brazil at a cook-out at Oakwood.

It was not easy and the gravity of my warm bed was strong, but I knew how disappointed I would be if I didn’t get a chance to run later in the morning, so I pushed against the mattress and placed the soles of my bare feet on the hardwood. I creaked across the house, having learned over the past few months which floorboards creak louder than the others. Our house creaks loudly, and I guide myself down the hall, holding on to the wall in false hope of keeping weight off my feet. I descend to the basement where I had set out my running shoes and watch the night before. I move slowly. It’s hard to get motivated. I have a few sips of iced coffee I stole from the fridge.

I open the back door; it crack open like splintering wood, and I don’t know how the entire house doesn’t bolt awake or maybe it does before settling back to sleep. It’s warm. Summer has arrived. Highs were in the nineties all weekend. I set off, slowly, with an aim to go nine. After two miles, I falter, the humidity stifling, but decide to soldier on, again the prospect of facing my own disappointment pushing me. I make it to the turn-around, stopping for water on the way out and one the way back, and as the sun comes up, the humidity comes down, and I find a groove. I finish the last two miles just over eights. I’m happy, though I have a few new blisters and I know I will be tired later.

I sneak back into the house. Everyone is still sleeping. I change and stretch out on the couch, sweaty. Elise would be mad at me if she knew I were getting sweat on her new pillows. Sam wakes first, but soon all five of us are on the couch—me, struggling to keep my eyes open— after I feed them leftover cinnamon rolls. We have friends from Chennai and their kids coming over to grill hamburgers at four, so we decide we need to head to the store.

We drive through Seven Corners on our way to Bailey’s Crossroads. Elise needs to stop at Home Depot to buy more metal chain links in order to convert our newly-purchased and installed swing from a trapeze to the swing (the seat currently sits about four feet in the air). She will get the chain, but in what will go down as her most frustrating customer service experience of the week—if not month—the clerk will forget to put the carabiners she bought in the bag with the chain. The kids watch their new favorite show, Thunderbirds are Go!, on the iPad in a rare capitulation.

We stop at Panera before going into Trader Joe’s. Everyone gets plain bagels. Clementine gets hers with cream cheese and she soon has a goopy white smile from cheek to cheek that makes her look a little like the Joker. Elise and I shop with tiny coffee in our hands. Sam helps run for groceries. We buy a $50 bottle of champagne to break open tonight for Elise’s birthday. She hasn’t asked for much. (She hasn’t asked for anything, really.) But she does want cupcakes and champagne for her birthday.
Waiting in line to check-out, Clementine catches the eye of a baby in the cart behind us. Soon, Sam, 

Peter, and Clementine are giving the baby high-fives and letting her pinch their noses.
We head home and there is mention of taking the kids to the comic book store after we swing by the house and put the groceries away. I start getting everyone motivated to head out the door when I am vetoed by Elise, “I think everyone would be better off taking naps than going to the comic book store."

Clementine and Pete are exhausted from the late night and immediately crawl into bed and under the covers. Sam starts jumping up and down and squealing, “It’s not fair!” as I threaten him within an inch of his life to get into bed and quiet down, promising him we can go to the comic book store some other day, maybe one day after I get home from work, knowing full well it will be too late by the time I get home this week to go. I slide into bed with Peter, the bottom bunk. Sam is in the top bunk above us, thrashing about in spastic protest. I yell at him and he stops crying long enough to pull out a book and start reading. Pete wraps his arm across my chest and falls soundly asleep. I hear 
Sam turning the pages in the bunk above. I think about telling him to put the book away and lie down, but decide not to. I struggle to keep from drifting off. I badly want to sleep, but took a nap yesterday afternoon and spent the rest of the day in a haze. I hate that feeling and decide I’d rather be exhausted. Plus, I still need to run to Giant for baked beans and angel food cake. (Elise is making strawberry shortcake for dessert.)

I carefully extract myself from Peter’s embrace and sneak down the hall. I take a peek at my phone, at Facebook and the latest headlines. I become numb.

Sam follows me. I don’t make him go back to his bed. I run my fingers through his hair; it’s getting long, but he doesn’t want to cut it.

I stick my head in Elise’s office where she has been quietly working for an hour or so. She is staring blankly at the computer screen, not really reading or editing pictures. Her gaze is far-off.

“Is there anything else we need at the store?” I ask.

The corners of her mouth turn down. I hug her. “I feel sad,” she tells me. “You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.”

Sam and I step out into the sun. It’s hot, but the wind has started blowing. It hasn’t cooled anything down yet; it’s more like a blast furnace. We walk to the grocery store, Sam squinting against the sun. 

I know I should talk to him, say something, ask him about his day or about school or a book that he is reading. I know I should take advantage of this rare and precious one-on-one moment, father and son, but I can’t think of anything to say. I have trouble swallowing around a lump in my throat. I fight back tears.

“How is your new book?” I finally manage.

He likes it. It’s about animal wizards, a book for a kid who is not quite ready for Harry Potter. Sam may never be, and that’s okay. I now wish that remains the case.

We take our time at the grocery, mostly because I have no idea where anything is. I start toward one end of the store looking for the bakery until Sam steers me toward the opposite end.

I stop at Starbucks for iced coffees, one for me and one with coconut milk for Elise. It helps somewhat, but my hamstrings and legs are in smoldering pain. I can’t sit for long periods of time because of my hamstrings and glutes and I can’t stand because my legs are so damn tired.

Home, I cut watermelon while Elise puts out the burger fixings. She stops me in front of the refrigerator and hugs me, telling me she loves me.

Our friends arrive. Perhaps the distraction is welcome. Perhaps not. I can’t decide or can’t tell or am too tried to care. I drink three beers very fast and unapologetically, then turn my attention to grilling, finding distraction in the manual task, the raw ritual of preparing food.


Later that evening, she takes baths while I clean the kitchen. I am patient as I help the kids into their pajamas, not wanting to escape them, not wanting to be anywhere else, not wanting them to ever think that I don’t appreciate them as people or that I ever do not value their company. I have become more conscientious about listening to them when they talk or, at least, I try to. Sam falls asleep immediately, not having napped. Peter needs water and complains that he is hungry and wants carrots, though I tell him I’ll get him some in the morning. I am in bed, reading, too tired now to move. Eventually, Clementine’s is the only voice left, a tiny echo. I don’t know who falls asleep first, me or her. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pete the Human and Pete the Cat

Since he was a small boy (he still is pretty small), one of Pete's favorite book is "Pete the Cat" (for obvious reasons).

In the book, Pete the Cat gets his shoes dirty, turning them from white, to blue, to red, to eventually brown, but--as Pete the Cat says--it's all good. He just takes it all in stride, singing his song.

This morning, Elise and Clementine went to Barnes & Noble to get some new math activity books for the summer (because that's the kind of parents we are...and are kids like math...what can we say...). There, they saw a Pete the Cat stuffed animal, so they got it for Petey, knowing how much he would love it.

When they got home, Clementine told me she got it for him, "So maybe he not have so many tantrums." (That's the pot calling the kettle black, if I ever heard it!)


That, my friends, is a picture of one happy boy. 

Elise and Clementine met Pete at the bus stop with Pete the Cat. When he got home, Pete asked his mother if Pete the Cat looked sad in the store, like he needed a friend to play with. 


Later, during Sam's soccer practice, Pete was spotted skipping around the playground with Pete the Cat on his shoulders. Money well spent.

"I'm just keep walking along, signing my song." -- Pete the Cat  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pete's Last Soccer Practice



The team.


He earned a medal!


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sam's Writings

Monday, June 6, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pete's Writings









Friday, June 3, 2016

The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

The candidates notwithstanding, this election season has been long and ugly. For all the reasons you may think, but also one that may not immediately come to mind. One candidate proclaims to make "America Great Again!" but all candidates narratives follow the same thread: that something is wrong with America that needs fixing and they are the right person to fix it.

The problem with this narrative is the idea that America is inherently broken, an idea that I don't believe in. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." Yes, it was former-President Bill Clinton who said and I invoke that quote here now not to be political or display a preference for one candidate over another, only to summon the optimism in it.

Essayist Fareed Zakaria may have said it best in a recent piece in The Washington Post:

"But on one issue he (a leading presidential candidate) has been utterly consistent: “This country is a hellhole. We are going down fast.” This notion of a country in decline is at the heart of his campaign's message — to make America great again.

In fact, it is increasingly clear that the United States has in recent years reinforced its position as the world’s leading economic, technological, military and political power. The country dominates virtually all leading industries — from social networks to mobile telephony to nano- and biotechnology — like never before. It has transformed itself into an energy superpower — the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas — while also moving to the cutting edge of the green-technology revolution. And it is demographically vibrant, while all its major economic peers (Japan, Europe and even China) face certain demographic decline."

As presidential candidates deconstruct the United States and tell us how broken every piece of the engine is and how they will overhaul it, the United States remains an ideal many still hold up. Our values and beliefs, our freedoms, many things we take for granted on a day to day basis, are the envy of many around the world.

We live in a country that gives us so little too worry about that we worry about whether or not applying sunscreen to children really does more harm than good.

The recent photo in the New York Times of a young couple on a train caught my eye. They could have been any young American couple on a train anywhere in the U.S.:


They seemed happy. I have seen many couples just like them on my commute to or from work. But I read on and learned more about their story (here).

They aren't an American couple. Yet. In brief, they are a couple from Afghanistan from different ethnic tribes forced to elope and flee their country, because their families threatened to kill them if they were married.

At its heart, their's is a love story.

The fact that they sought to go to America, where they could live and love freely is no accident. As we talk about everything that is wrong with America and how we are going to fix it, let's also remember the things that are right with a America.

Thank you.

I return you now to your regularly-scheduled programming of cute (if not crazy) kids! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness

They say opposites attract, and Elise and I are different in a lot of ways. But one way in which we are alike is we are both goal-driven, motivated to succeed at our respective pursuits. We’re ambitious. We’re competitive. When we decide to take something on, we are at the same time deciding to give it our all, to be or do the best we can. Sometimes, this drive for success—and in Elise’s case, perfection in all she takes on—makes it difficult to relate to those who are resigned or not ambitious. We have to constantly remind ourselves that different things motivate different people, that by design people have varying calculi that motivates them, and that’s okay.

Elise’s drive for perfection in everything she does is obvious in her photography. What is finally developed or put out for public consumption is the reflection of hours of perseverating over every detail. She puts thought into everything she does. No detail is overlooked. Myself, on the other hand, while not being particularly detail-oriented, am no less competitive. I just have to harken back to my triathlon heyday and the gut-wrenching moment I realized I had become a recreational runner and no longer a competitive runner (sometime shortly after we came back from India, I finally acknowledged the fact, though the actual transition had taken place many years before. This reluctance to accept one’s fading invincibility on any playing field is probably why many professional athletes continue to compete long after they are actually competitive. Fortunately, I was never on that grand a stage). If I am not completely exhausted, unable to stand or even keep my eyes open by the end of the day, legs and body aching, then I feel as though I could have done more.

We are also susceptible to getting caught up in a cycle of happiness and unhappiness that is extrinsically linked to our perceived performance or other life factors that may be out of our immediate control. I was disappointed when I was passed over for a promotion last fall. Elise has garnered over 100,000 followers on Instagram, but every time she loses a fraction of those, she winces in palpable pain.

A few weeks ago, Elise sent me an email to let me know she had received an inquiry to shoot a wedding in Chennai. Though a longshot, she was excited.

A few minutes later, I received a second email, “Was just thinking I hadn't lost any followers in a while until I lost another 1,000 today. Woo hoo. #failing”

I had recently read an article in The Atlantic online, “Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy” by Joe Pinsker (here):

"If you take the need for mastery—the need for competence—there are two broad approaches that one can take to becoming very good at something. One approach is to engage in what people call social comparisons. That is, wanting to be the best at doing something: ‘I want to be the best professor there is,’ or something like that.

“There are many problems with that, but one big problem with that is that it's very difficult to assess. What are the yardsticks for judging somebody on a particular dimension? What are the yardsticks for being the best professor? Is it about research, teaching? Even if you take only teaching, is it the ratings you get from students, or is it the content that you deliver in class, or the number of students who pass an exam or take a test and do really well in it? So it gets very difficult to judge, because these yardsticks become increasingly ambiguous as a field becomes narrower or more technical.

“So what happens in general is that people tend to gravitate toward less ambiguous—even if they're not so relevant—yardsticks. People judge the best professors by the number of awards they get, or the salary that they get, or the kind of school that they are in, (or the best photographers by how many followers they have on Instagram?) which might on the face of it seem like it's a good yardstick for judging how good somebody is, but at the same time it's not really relevant to the particular field.

“And those yardsticks are ones that we adapt to really quickly. So if you get a huge raise this month, you might be happy for a month, two months, maybe six months. But after that, you're going to get used to it and you're going to want another big bump. And you'll want to keep getting those in order to sustain your happiness levels. In most people you can see that that's not a very sustainable source of happiness.

“What I recommend is an alternative approach, which is to become a little more aware of what it is that you're really good at, and what you enjoy doing. When you don't need to compare yourself to other people, you gravitate towards things that you instinctively enjoy doing, and you're good at, and if you just focus on that for a long enough time, then chances are very, very high that you're going to progress towards mastery anyway, and the fame and the power and the money and everything will come as a byproduct, rather than something that you chase directly in trying to be superior to other people.”

I thought this sentiment timely as Elise grapples with redefining herself as an artist and photographer after our move from India. What are the yardsticks for being the best photographer? My work colleagues talk about their promotions, assignments, and performance reviews, comparing their accomplishments against their peers’. What are the yardsticks for being the best diplomat?

Ever since Elise and I first met, we knew our destiny lay west of the Rockies. She hailed from the misty mosses of the Pacific Northwest, and I spent many of my formative years in Colorado. In that vein, shortly after Sam was born, I applied and interviewed for several jobs in Denver. I wasn’t offered anything. I did a telephone interview from my hotel room in Denver on the same trip for a job in real estate with the Department of the Interior in Portland, but the position didn’t include a relocation package, and Elise and I couldn’t afford the move. By that time, I had been out of work too long and exhausted our savings, going as far as cashing in my 401k and life insurance policies to keep our fledgling family afloat.

At the time, we couldn’t have known that are destiny lay in Brazil and India. The Rocky Mountains would have to wait. We got out of Florida. A small victory. Mission accomplished. At the time, I thought a lot about what our life would be like when we moved west of the Rockies, to Denver, Seattle, Portland, or Boise.

Now, we rent a small house in a quiet suburb outside of Washington, D.C. The kids go to public school. I walk them to the bus some mornings and pick them up in the afternoon some others. Clementine attends a local church pre-school. She has “Godly play” and sings prayers at the dinner table. The kids play in the backyard, digging up rolly-pollies in the dirt and climbing trees. I mow the lawn and grill. I get up early and run. I bought a bike. Sometimes, we grab burgers at our favorite local burger place or tacos at our favorite local taco place. The kids play in the town soccer league. They wear reversible jerseys and are making new friends. There are seasons here. The winters are cold and it snows. Spring is long. And wet. The summers are hot. The falls, crisp and beautiful. The Nats are good, and we wear our caps with pride. Though we haven’t gone yet, the countryside is not far and there are vineyards, camping, trails, rock-climbing, and ski slopes that wait for us. In fact, living here is a lot like what I imagined living west of the Rockies would be like. I like my job. I take the train to work. Sometimes, I work late, but I always return to a full home. We could never afford to live here permanently. Rents are astronomical, and Elise and I like beer and wine too much; there are too many good ones to choose from. But I’m happy. We’re finding the routine that was lacking in the winter, but we are getting used to the creaking floorboards in our small rental house. We don’t have much in the way of adventure, but that’s okay for now, but may lose its appeal soon. When we first arrived, I couldn’t wait to set back out again. I am finding quiet respite in the waiting. I found happiness without chasing it. But the year will pass quickly and it will be time to leave before we know it and begin the pursuit anew. 

A Day at the Aquarium

Yesterday, we let the boys stay home from school (Lulu is already done with her first year of pre-school) to play hookie and go to the aquarium in Baltimore with Ma and Grandad. 


They had lunch at Phillips (without me!) where the kids polished off an appetizer of fried calamari. Pete even ate the tentacles, he informed me.