Posts Tagged ‘dad’

Active Life

1 February 2010

Dear J-

If Bruce Lee was still alive he’d be nearly 70, just about the same age as my dad and probably as rock-hard as ever; anyone who makes his living by embodying bad-assness knows there are no days off (even if off days are excusable, Jackie Chan, Spy Next Door). And yeah, Bruce Lee would be someone no one wanted to mess with, but in a footrace, it would be a near thing between him and my dad, who has always been concerned about fitness.

We had a little gym in the house, this after getting a rowing machine that was a six-in-one device (mainly that consisted of wrestling the machine into life-threateningly unstable positions, but this was just before the explosion of product liability lawsuits); I remember when I was little it was a rare day we weren’t headed out to ride our bikes, or we got taken along to the basketball court to watch him play, or skating under the US Pavilion, or swim in the university pool. He didn’t pick up running until we were in college, though; I remember him calling me with the news that he’d clocked in the 12K Lilac Bloomsday Run at just over an hour, a time I’d never done even in high school at the supposed peak of my physical prowess.

He’s probably up and jogging right now as I write this, somewhere around the neighborhood they’ve moved. They hae adopted the area wholeheartedly, signing up for lessons (ballroom dancing and Photoshop) and heading out to local parks for various sightseeing opportunities. It’s the lessons of a life spent active that I need to pass down and keep passing down; for every moment we spend thinking we can’t, we could have been doing, right?

Mike

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Half Hour

4 September 2008

Dear J-

One minor anniversary to note: I’ve managed to blather out at least one thing every day for the last year. We’ll see how long that lasts, but the last time I tried something like that, it lasted ten years (at some point it shifted from “how much longer can I keep doing this” to “it would sure be a shame to stop this now”) with the journal. It didn’t necessarily reach any literary heights, but I’m not an ambitious man, by any means.

The year’s slipped by quickly, too. If I guessed that it takes half an hour each day to jot down a few things, hat means roughly eight full days over the course of the year. I certainly consider it time well spent, as it kept me off of the TV for the most part, but of course there’s no real benefit to trading one couch-y activity for another. Now all’s I need is a laptop and wi-fi setup to allow for writing in front of the TV.

We connect to each other in different ways; sometimes I suspect that what drives me to write is sheer narcissism — ho ho, my life is interesting enough that someone else might want to read about it, even when I know I lead the real life of Walter Mitty, but it’s been amazing to pick up and read about folks in different countries on this magic window of a computer. And even more than that, learn how like we really are. Beyond the obvious similarities, there’s a lot of truth in my dad’s favorite saying that “Man is a social animal” — we share the same dreams and fears. And my life is amazing in how little I do end up having to think about it; the luxury of time is so easily taken for granted.

Mike

First Word

13 July 2008

[February]

Mike:  What d’you think her first word’s gonna be?

theVet
:  Probably “daddy” — she seems to love seeing you when you come home.

Mike:  Well, she spends a lot more time with you — I’d bet it’s “mommy.”

theVet:  We’ll see, I suppose.

* * * * *

[Now, walking]

figgy:  [excited, squeals]

Mike:  What is it?  Do you see the doggies?

figgy:  doggy!

theVet:  Her first word!

figgy:  doggy!doggy!doggy!

Mike:  [philosophically] Well, at least that’s one fight we won’t have to have.

Thanksgivings Past

24 November 2006

Dear J-

Every year I remember the first snow of the year would fall Thanksgiving night. Maybe it was only the afterglow of turkey and pie, or seeing all the Chinese students in the local university (where I grew up, there weren’t a lot of folks who looked like me and my dad, perhaps picking up on this, would invite all the students out for Thanksgiving — partly for their benefit, being so far from home, and partly for mine, I’m sure), but there that first snow always made the world anew. Not just the obvious blanket, but with it, new hope as well.

I’d wish on that first snow of the year. Every year could be a new start, a chance to change things and reject those ideas you never liked about yourself. Did it ever show, coming back after that long weekend, that here was a completely new man? Like those vacuum-sealers, suck out all the bad things, and damn the wrinkles on the way. What’s even scary about change, anyway? Take the plunge, just do it, make it so, carpe diem. J-, one of the friends I’ve made told me when he moved from Mexico, he decided to change himself, and having no history or baggage, transform from the introvert he was to the genial guy who can’t keep quiet (all in a good way) he is now.

It’s too easy to blame the situation for not choosing earlier to step up and take the chance on change; when you live in the same town for seventeen years, everything you’ve ever done gets seared into local lore. Din’t he pee his pants in fourth grade? Math classes at college, I remember that. I started to realize this when the eighth grade English teacher pulled out someone’s old assignment from five years back — I knew the author, I knew that I’d be able to achieve a limited immortality should I choose to put the right amount of effort into it.

But was it enough? No, no, gotta have more, gotta make sure that no one ever forgets. So, back to Thanksgiving, not as much a chance to do something new as a chance to renew that vicious competitive streak and make sure that everything remains as unforgettable as yesterday. Me me me; I begin to suspect the whole point of having kids is, in some way, just so that there’s one person on earth who won’t forget who you are.

I did like all the holidays, growing up. I never quite understood why Lunar New Year fell on a weird date (or, for that matter, why the Gregorian calendar arbitrarily breaks the year in the middle of winter — wouldn’t the first hint of spring be more appropriate?). Everyone says that Thanksgiving is their favorite, though, and it’s true for me, too. My chance to start things fresh, stamping footprints in the first snow under those sodium lights, shuffling to school in the satisfaction of a new secret. J-, what were your family traditions?

Mike