I’m the good guy!

The other day River and I were playing a game where we both have a team of several matchbox size cars and the two teams do “battle”. Our battles include everything from simple crashing, to lasers, to gathering power and strength from absorbing star and planetary energy from parallel universes that eventually collide in the form of our two hands holding our team leaders.

As one might guess, there is more description of the action going on than actual action, but I like that. It feels good to stretch the imagination muscles and I love hearing his ideas. At one point in our conversation though, he casually referred to my guy as the bad guy. I was like “Wait, my team’s the bad guys? I though your team was the bad guys!” River looked at me like I wasn’t speaking English. Clearly we had gotten lost in our own perspectives.

It was funny in that setting but how often does this happen in real life? We engage our surroundings and assume that we are the “good team”, that our point of view is the solid, time-tested perspective of the smart or moral or informed, and never for one second take a step back to ask the powerful and humble question “What if I’m not right on this one?

I know that I need to do this more. Maybe next time River and I need to figure out if we’re going to battle each other or take on the multiverse as a unified front of unbeatable supercars.

The Lucky Dragon

It was 2001. I lived with my good friend Eric in some shady apartments in Tempe Arizona. Good times for sure. Being a music education major at ASU, I walked by hundreds of talented and driven musicians, singer and actors. In the fall semester of 2000, I’d somehow stumbled into a practice room with a group of dudes that loved blues and jazz as much as I did and we decided to play out a little bit. We did a few gigs and one of them happened at the Lucky Dragon on Sunday, Feb 25th.

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Before the set began I thought of the people that I’d like to have to come see me sing. I knew most of my friends had places to be that night, but I hadn’t checked in one of my friends. Her name; Alissa Schmidt. After knowing her for a couple of years, I knew she was quality and as pretty as anyone I’d ever met or seen. Now, mostly, she’d seen my dorky, “at the Student Rec. Center” self. THAT persona wasn’t that impressive, but she didn’t seem to care. We still went hiking or out to lunch from time to time and she’d tell me about her roommate, or her boyfriend or whatever two friends talk about. But recently I’d gotten a feeling like maybe there was something to be explored with her.

I tried to be casual as I traced her down with my cell phone. She didn’t have one and a few of you might remember what it was like to contact someone before we all had texting machines in our pockets. I remember finally getting Alissa on the phone and asking her to come out to the Lucky Dragon and at her smallest hesitation I politely insisted that she be there.

The Lucky Dragon was a dimly lit little place with its Chinese food somehow always demanding a line. I don’t believe there was a smoking section but still, I remember needing several glasses of water. There was art work on all of the walls and a tiny stage where the four of us could just barely fit our equipment. We usually played two pretty long sets and it didn’t take that many songs because Shon would solo forever, but he knew what was up, so it was all good.

A little bit into the first set I see Alissa and her friend Shane walk through the door. Energized, I sing through the first set and during our break I go sit down across the table from her. She was in the booth next to wall, with her legs propped up on the chair on my side of the table. We talked for a while and I was so glad she was there. At some point I reached over and touched her on the leg. It was only for a second and I wasn’t trying to send a message or anything, but from what she tells me, it came across as such and was apparently well received, because almost 14 years later I still sit across the table from her and I’m really glad she’s there. Thank you Lucky Dragon, I guess in this story, I’m the lucky one.

Turning 38

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A few weeks ago I turned 38. There’s certainly nothing magical about this age. It’s basically an age that asks “Are you ready for your 40’s?” I don’t know what my answer is. I guess, some days I am and other days I nearly hyperventilate at the thought. I do know that I’m emerging out of this idea that I have a bunch of wisdom or enlightening thoughts to share. I suppose that’s why I haven’t blogged very much this past year. Inspired thoughts in paragraph form are few and far between. Though, I have read more this year than I have since I was a kid. I used to read all the time, because what else did kids do that didn’t have a TV in the house, let alone all the crap that kids have to stare into these days (my kids included)?

I do know that I’ve been “in the moment” a lot more this year. By that I mean; noticing and embracing the little-ness of my kids. Sure they can be completely annoying and unreasonable and well, I could go on but let’s keep it fun shall we? Last night, after the boys’ swimming lessons the three of us jumped into the hot showers with our swimming suits on. As they were standing with the water dripping down their faces, just… two little boys that are short and loud and funny, I sensed the temporalness and beauty of the moment. I constantly remind myself that when Briar sits in my lap while I sit on the couch that it’s a precious short time that she’ll be so little and cuddly.

I’ve also been trying harder to notice all that Alissa does as a mom and writer. My selfishness about “me time” still gets the best of me. But I know (and Alissa knows and reminds me) that I could never do what she does day in and day out.

Bottom line: I know a blog can be anything you want it to be: a journal, an outlet, a way to teach or reach. And I haven’t had the time or the energy to do any of those things. And maybe that’s what being a 38 year old dad to little kids is; getting through the day so you can sit on the couch with your wife for a bit before you quietly crawl into your tiny spot in the bed because your wife and little daughter take up more space than they need.

10 years.

Ten years ago today my life changed and took on a course that I never could’ve imagined. I married Alissa Schmidt.

You think you know who you’re getting when you get married. You think “I can walk through life with this person.” Here’s the thing though: a good life isn’t a walk, a good life is an adventure. It has great days and bad days. There’s being a parent with no prior experience, bills, intense personal growth, cross-country moves, flared tempers without filters, being brought to tears together by something sweet your son says, and having all you stand for brought into question and finding that God and each other is all you really need.4987_114762400406_1410289_n

You can’t see all that in one afternoon where you’re young and dressed to the nines.

What I could see? I could see enduring integrity and character, inner beauty that radiated through outer beauty, honesty that whether it felt good or not, if you listened, it could make you better. And loyalty and love that were intertwined in a way that made me feel safer than I’d ever felt before. I’d say a pretty good base from which to jump off wouldn’t you?

What I couldn’t see? Where worry usually wins out, when push comes to shove she has a fearlessness that is inspiring. She will sacrifice her own needs for her family in a way I could never dream of doing. She mixes in just the right amount of common sense and heart into big decisions. She makes friends (like good friends with good people) because she knows it feeds for her soul. She can see the sacred in most anything. She is physically tough. I watched her recover from 3 births. She elevated the word “tough” to a whole other level. She loves to be right- wait, I actually did know that 10 years ago. She’s an amazing cook- took a gamble on this one. It wasn’t looking good there for a bit. These are just a few of the things that I’ve discovered about her.

My point is that 10 years brings so much out of a person and I’ve been happily bewildered and amazed how time consistently reveals that on March 22, 2003 I had only a faint clue of what Alissa Schmidt could do and be. Our life together has been marked by love, laughter, tears, forgiveness, honesty, kid-craziness, money-managing, negative people-navigating and faith-defining. You don’t go through these things as a static person, you grow and change and morph. And if a few of the basics are in place you bless the ones you love just by sheer virtue of living life with them. I am blessed. I am blessed to be married to Alissa Edwards for these past ten years. I am blessed to have fallen in love with someone that I keep falling in love with over and again.

Babe, happy 10 yr anniversary, I love you. I love that our “banter” has a ten year history and I’m excited to continue that conversation for the rest of my time on the globe. I’ve been thinking about it though… in Heaven- it’s me or the dog. 😉

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The new ride. I think we’re gonna be good friends. (at Home)

kindergarten – it’s not just for kids

Well okay, I guess it really is just for kids. There’s no way I could fit my big uhh self into one of those squares on the carpet that they sit in. Today was River’s first day of Kindergarten and as I left the school this morning I couldn’t help getting a swell of emotion as I looked back at my little guy. Standing there with his hair, where bedhead beat out the brush (I tried, I really did), and his Avengers backpack draping down past his shirt.

Of course, to 99.9% of the people there, he’s just another little kid in the mix, but I see the bouncy excitement that turned into nervous anticipation as the morning went on. I feel the potential of all the school days ahead- I remember this journey, but only from a dream that happened many, many nights ago. It’s almost like he’s sitting atop one of the longest, most crazy slides that one can imagine and just watching him look over the edge makes my stomach drop.

I own the heaviness of the moment, knowing that this is a new chapter for him, a new beginning. This, of course, means that one chapter has closed for good. There is no return. I am both happy and sad for him- for me. Perhaps it’s selfish to bestow so much emotional weight upon this young traveller, but the fact is, he changed me forever.

No, I didn’t suddenly become this selfless father with the perfect mixture of warm hugs and stern looks (all my kids would’ve really liked that, I’m sure). I still want “me” time and sometimes I get louder than I should, but the day he was born my whole existence suddenly become much bigger than just me and my dreams. His thoughts, his fears, his questions, his strengths, his insecurities, I lovingly adopt them every day as my own. Why? So that I can connect, so that I can speak his language, so that I don’t miss the cues.

Just the other day River was crying under a heating lamp with a freshly cut umbilical cord, then I changed my shirt a few times, and dropped him off at Kindergarten today. Two more times around this track and I’ll be snapping a picture of him pulling out of the driveway on his way to his senior year of high school. So yeah, I’ll pick up every cue, question, laugh, stress-session, tough conversation, and hug that I can get. He’s not my only kid, but he was my first real-life parenting class and sometimes I feel like I’m still in Kindergarten. Juice box please?