Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Friday, October 29, 2004

Reviving Ophelia

First, let me say that if read through a cynical eye, what I'm about to say could look bad. Don't do that.
My wife is a high school english and theater teacher. She is busy with her play and I am busy with a new product launch and a project kick-off. Therefore I often bring her in to work so we can spend an extra twenty minutes together.
I saw something today that made me sad.
Today kids dressed up for halloween, and you got the typical high school dress-up (A sweet girl dressed like a goth, a kid dressed like a nerd, etc.)
Two girls were dressed up like the "Playboy Bunnies." My wife suggested that they change, and they agreed to do so, but it made me sad.
These were little girls, nice girls, your-hot-girlfriends-little-sister-who-will-be-cute-in-five-years kind of girls.
How did we communicate to them that what would be really cool is if they dressed up like girls from a girlie magazine.
Obviously, they get that message everywhere, but I had not thought about how much it sucked.
We expect our girls to be brilliant, genious, ditzy, assertive, non-threatening, porn star, virgin, sinner, saints and then we wonder about depression and identity confusion in teenage girls. That's not fair, and little girls spend time crying because of it.
I don't really have a plan of action other than this--if I ever meet the editor of Maxim I'm going to kick his ass.
I welcome more proactive suggestions.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Men Without Chests

The Eliot line "We are men without chests" is echoing in my head, and it gets me to thinking; are we men somehow less than we were before? I don't think so, not as a whole. I think that every generation has its own bucket of crazy; the "great generation" had alcoholism and cool isolation from their families; this created the "(Daddy please listen to) ME" generation of our folks. Next we had the Gen-Xers, who eventually got older and played Starbucks games instead of smoking up, and then my demographic. My generation is leaving a bunch on the shelf, and therefore we are all asking ourselves if we are good men. Then we write books about it, it becomes part of our collective conscious, and I find myself quoting poems I vaguely liked in AP English.
So the questions that I've been looking at a lot recently: are we men without chests? What makes a man?
A buddy of mine wrote about it (see http://justinmasterson.blogspot.com). I've been faced with derivatives of this question probably a dozen times over the last week. It even popped up in a dream my wife had--I killed and ate a bear. Tell me that's not awesome.
In the spirit of analysis driven conclusions, here's what I find in surveying great men I know:
1) They are people of faith. Not always my faith, but some faith. This faith is never the squishy "I believe in believing stuff" kind of thing, it's more visceral.
2) They are honest.
3) They kick ass when they need to.
4) They work hard and normally work pretty long hours.
5) They think.
6) They are humble and improving.

So that's my formula. I'm pretty sure it's close to God's definitional statements of what men are.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

How Snoop Dogg Makes My Life Better

I'm pretty sure God sent Snoop to earth to make me laugh. Three times this week I've laughed out loud for more than a minute because of Snoop.

I liked his music better when he was a scary, womanizing, girl beating, pot head, gangster. That's all well and good, but we have a handful of those guys and I've stopped caring, now I just like that he's funny.

1) I watched Starsky and Hutch with my wife. I don't think anyone else should even try for the Oscar this year.
2) The next day we were talking about the movie. We mentioned that Snoop Dogg was in it and began to explain who he was. My wife's 75 year old grand mother gave us that "Speak to the hand gesture" that we had in the late 90s and said, "Hold on, I'm familiar with snoop dogg." It doesn't read funny, but picture it. Funny, eh?
3) Best of all, the website, www.asksnoop.com might be the best thing that's ever happened. Try it. Shizzolate this blog. I've tried, it's hilarious.

I'll probably write something smart later,


Monday, October 11, 2004

How I Have Become a Huge Dork

Let me begin by saying I was once kind of cool.
That was before. I once had a cool car. I played a sport in college. I play guitar. My wife was the lead in plays. Before her I went on dates with cheerleaders. I say this not to sell myself, but to highlight just exactly how dynamic my plunge into lameness is.

Here's when I realized that I am a huge dork (The reasons I'm lame are paranthetical):

Tonight about ten (after work), after my workout (I'm trying to take off weight) I got back and stretched (with a program I learned in my wife's "Real Simple" magazine). I watched the west wing (on Bravo) and decided to write in my blog (write in my blog).

I went upstairs to take a shower (lighting my way with the light fixture which my wife fixed). I got out of the shower and put on my shirt (a v-neck). I kissed my wife on the forehead. She was sleeping soundly.

So soundly that she slept through the sound of our large soap dispenser falling to the shower floor and echoing loudly as it shattered. The reason it fell is because I bumpbed it while tiptoeing in my skivvs and my killer v-neck to not make a sound.

I shouldn't become a Ninja.

The reason for my wife's deep slumber goes back to why I'm a dork.

We bought this board game (when we went garage sale shopping) called "Crack the Case." Last night we played this board game until late in the night (we played this board game until late in the night). I then fell asleep (not certainly, but probably drooling on a stuffed dog which I call "Thug" and my wife calls "Morgan." This stuffed dog was my consolation prize for not owning a dog in college).
Thug and I slept--my wife did not.

Tonight to sleep she took the recommended dosage of Tylenol PM. Tylenol PM, by the way, is the gateway drug to Valium and/or drinking heavy.
I helped her into bed, and came back and had what some call a moment of clarity.
I'm a dork now.

This is sort of the realization that lots of my formerly cool twenty-something friends are grappling with. It's kind of like a choose your own adventure:
To continue running a company that makes water, purchasing things at garage sales, and generally turning lame...Turn to page 8.
To [insert cool thing here] turn to page 15.

The thing is, page eight is fairly comfortable. But this begs the question--is my generation letting the good be the enemy of the best?

In any case--I can make a kick-ass financial model on Excel, so don't step to this.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

My Dad and America

My great uncle was PFLP Terrorist George Habash, or so I am told. My great grandfather threw him down the stairs of his Detroit home, for speaking poorly of this country. That was America.

My dad was raised mostly by the Great Grandfather. My dad was raised on Arabic food, on Gibran, on family and faith. His grandpa owned a shop. He worked at a pizza place. He made it into college and worked his way through. He owned two pairs of jeans, four white shirts, a tie, and a bike. His grandpa was proud. That was America.

My dad died some time ago, and it was a big death, with weather, and CNN.

As we went through the wreckage one thing I found was his old hat from his Air Force dress uniform. He was in Vietnam. He was almost blind in his left eye so he was not passed through to be a flight navigator. Instead he lived, and eventually became my dad. He invented steel alloys which were used for a generation of planes. Had my big sister. Served his hardest. Had his young wife and daughter smuggle hot cocoa to the protestors outside the gates of the base.
He later explained that it was not his opposition to the war (which was in his opinion a quagmire) that prompted the hot cocoa. For him the protestors stood as an example of the very best of what we were defending. That was imperfect, and complicated, and nuanced, and beautiful, and that was America.

He finished with the service. Got a Masters Degree, and then another one. Invented a thing. Had me. Moved to Washington. Moved to Michigan. Moved to Ohio. Advanced in a career. Started his own business. Grew it. Did all of the things that we talk about when we ask if that was America.

He died some time ago, and it was a big death, with weather, and CNN.

I have a flag now. It sits in my office. And I think that it matters because this country is an idea. America is a set of mushy boundaries with some pretty places and a nice moat...but that's not really what we are.

The perfect sentence here would wrap up these concepts of duty, and hope, and America, and terrorist uncles, and steel, and commerce. Tie them into a cohesive strand. But I can't. In some ways this conflict is turning into the theme of this season of writing. As I've said I think of this country as the embodiment of the struggle to live out our Declaration. That statement is not a battlecry. I wish I had one.

I guess I'm listening to hear what my Great-Grandpa yelled back before he pushed.

Maybe this;

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.

I pray it's all true.