Visit From Grandpa Joe

So you know my dad died when I was eight years old. Dropped dead a few feet from my little sneakers and that was that. Twenty-five years later, I still remember him, but I remember him as an eight-year-old would. I remember riding on his back, I remember him chasing me and tickling me. I remember his energy and his creativity. I remember his silly voices and laughing forever with him.

On Sunday I was alone in the house with Jude, my youngest, and we were doing all the things my father would have loved. I chased the boy as he ran away screaming and laughing, falling down so I could tickle him. I spoke in silly voices and he tried to mimic them in his little toddler squeak. And I could see my dad as a grandfather, soaking up all the energy my little Juder exudes. They would have grinned at each other like idiots, totally unaware of anything but each other. Jude is one year old and my father was forty three, but I can see them in each other. I can see the light shining out of Jude as I saw in my father. I can see my father in Jude’s stubborn independence and refusal to accept help. Or maybe that’s me I see in my son. I’m the link that connects these two beings, totally unaware of each other.

Grandpa Joe was here, little Juder, though I know you don’t know that. I know you only see me, and the way I chase you and tickle you and use my silly voices to make you laugh the way nobody else can. But believe me, grandpa Joe is here, laughing with us and watching you with shining eyes. You were born with the light you carry, kiddo, as I was and Grandpa Joe was, too. Maybe it’s ok that I won’t be around for you forever. As long as I pass on to you the greatest gift my father left for me, which is the undeniable fact of love. Even after he died, I felt loved by him, and I know he loved you, too, my little man. That’s what this light is in his eyes, in mine and in yours. It is simply love, and it cannot be denied or extinguished or diminished, even twenty-five years after death.


Converse are my sexy shoes

I heard an NPR story a few weeks back that bluntly stated everything that was wrong with Seattle fashion. We have the fourth largest group of fashion designers in the nation, they said, but we abide by no rules! We wear hooded sweatshirts everywhere, all the time! They interviewed a fashion designer who offloaded her woes. “Yoga pants are for yoga, and nothing else.” Oops. I happened to be wearing yoga pants at the time, and I had no intention of attending a yoga class that day.

I am what is wrong with Seattle fashion, and I’m not ashamed of it. My hope is, actually, that the problem with Seattle fashion is that we have too much confidence. I think I look great in a hoodie and torn jeans. Converse are my sexy shoes. The problem with my fashion sense is the fact that I don’t think of it as a problem. I look cute in a beanie, and seldom fail to take one off from September to April. Yes, I am 33 years old and perhaps dress like I’m 20. I consider myself a fashion honey badger (I don’t give a sh*t), and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

When I was 16, I went on a week-long hiking trip sans mirror or running water. When we reached a trailhead with a bathroom, I took a good look at myself. I had dirt and dried sweat streaking down my face and my hair was somehow plastered down with grease and sticking every which way at the same time. But my eyes were bright and my lungs were clean. “Damn!” I said out loud. “I’m dirty, nasty, and I still look amazing!” Yes, I have no humility.

I am very proud to say I have not changed in … wow, 17 years. I know I have no fashion sense. I like looking good, but the “problem” is that I think I look good most of the time. This is why I love Seattle. It is a city of people (mostly) united by fleece, Gore-tex, and galoshes. We’re not swanky. But our eyes are bright and our lungs are clean from playing outside, and healthy confidence is sexier than designer clothes any day of the week.

– Inspired by Tuesday as “Just Write” day!

Let it Rain

It’s Seattle, what did you expect? Sometimes liquid sunshine doesn’t feel like it’s chock full of vitamin D, but that’s because I’m old. I realized that the day I didn’t want to put on my pleather pants and jump in puddles was the day I grew old. Lucky for me, I have a one-year-old son who reminds me that stomping in cold, wet, dirty potholes is AWESOME.

So get out there, pleather or no pleather. That’s why God invented washing machines. Hold hands with someone on this heart-filled day, and jump in a puddle. You may even let a laugh escape your lips, and that’s better than vitamin D any day.

Center of splendor

The world is quiet. During a good run, or while looking at someone I love, the world goes mute, and I only see what’s in front of me. Everything else is in the details.

I don’t want to look for love, or God or happiness in the details. It’s not there. But if I turn the sound off and look up, I know that everything has beauty, and I am the center of splendor. And when I see you, I know that you are the center of splendor, too.

I maintain the childish and inane belief that every person, deep down, has an unwavering light inside. I don’t believe there is a difference between science and miracles. They are one and the same!! Neurons are miracles. Our bodies are made from the same substances as the sun, clouds, and my dog. The world is beautiful, and maybe you don’t need to be something to succeed. You just need to realize that there is no path to enlightenment. You’re already in the center, you simply need to realize it.

Everyone has mud covering their center of light. I have plenty. The mud comes from fear, shame, or self-doubt. But these things are all just noise, and when I put them on mute, I see my own light, and revel in the silence.