December 31, 2016

Just Noticed

All I’ve ever wanted was to be loved. Liked. Maybe just noticed. 

Every post, every share, every word, every haircut, every T-shirt, every book, everything I have ever done out loud since I was a kid, was so that someone like you might say, “Hey take a look at this guy.”

Despite what Brene Brown may have taught us about the power of vulnerability, it feels pretty shallow to own up to your own insecurities and vanity, but things are what they are and this is the truth. My truth. But I am guessing, and actually I am more than guessing, based on the private messages that I have received that you too, understand this universal need to be noticed, accepted, loved.

Thank you by the way for your kind and encouraging words. I have spent so much time trying to build an audience, and now that I finally have one, it feels like I am turning my back on you. But this disconnection feels necessary. As I stand at the precipice of saying good bye to a nearly decade long habit, I am feeling a bit anxious. It feels like I am about to launch off on a rocket into the great unknown.

Who will be out there to tell me I matter? How will I rack up 30+ likes on some observation about X, Y, or Z? How will I know you love me?

I guess it is the answers to these questions that I am looking for. Identity can never be static. We must always push our own boundaries and leap from comfort zones. I am after all the drunk who quit drinking for a decade and then start again without a hitch. You can’t expect to change the world drastically, if you are not willing to change yourself even slightly.

Just a reminder that you can stay in touch with pictures of the girls on Flickr, and if you left your name on the spreadsheet, I hope to find sustainable and authentic ways to engage and connect with you on a more personal level.

The saddest part this morning as I watch the window closing is that, although, in my own naval gazing, egotistical preparation I found ways that I can continue to broadcast my voice and ideas, it just hit me that during my sabbatical from social media, I will not regularly see into your worlds. No more photos of your kids or your bike rides or pizzas nights. I wanted to say that I do value you and I will miss you terribly.

I wish you all a fantastic new year, filled with new babies, new jobs, new opportunities. I will be cloistered up in my own cave, scratching gibberish on the walls. I hope I have something meaningful to share with you when I come back down.

All I’ve ever wanted was to be loved and to love, so thank you for being there on both fronts.

"You like me. You really like me!" 

December 30, 2016

Year Off

I have spent the entirety of 2016 posting an extended piece of writing here on Facebook. That’s 366 long(ish) posts! The response from you, dear reader, has been inspiring to say the least. Many of you have sent me private messages telling me how much you appreciate the various ideas I shared. As a writer, it has been great to build such a consistent habit and a regular responsive audience. I appreciate your connection and engagement very much.

Even before this latest daily writing project, I have been living my life pretty openly on the internet for years. Posting every thought, every photo, every idea. For the most part it has been great. Social media has afforded me many opportunities, countless friendships and access to people and ideas that are invaluable.

Although I have I loved and still appreciate social media for nearly a decade, there are aspects of it that I am tired of. Checking in and interacting on feeds can feel like a burden at times. Years ago when blogs were new and the idea of everyone having a voice on the internet felt like such a democratic revelation, but now I can’t imagine anything more grotesque than a comment section on any website. The latest election cycle has made me think about how I access news, ideas and how I engage with people- both strangers and friends.

I have been thinking deeply about echo chambers, trolls and the constant burden of keeping up and sharing.

  • Am I really connecting with people and ideas on the level that I want? 
  • Is my constant need for approval and validation really helping my writing? 
  • Am I writing for you or for me or for the sake of cracking open an idea? 
  • What do I gain from social media?
  • What do I offer? 

As a result of all this thinking, I have decided to spend 2017 offline. It will called The Year Off.

On January 2nd I will be closing this Facebook account and putting my Twitter account on private lock down hibernation. I will not use either until January 1st 2018.

I want to use my time to live more deliberately. I want to create art more deliberately. I want to journal again and draw and glue things on paper and cook and mediate and learn songs and work on several projects that have been in limbo- I have a memoir stuck at 30k+ words. I have a YA novel mired in a state of abandonment. I will continue to write daily, but this time the writing will be written in private and left to stew. I hope to publish something at the start of 2018. I will use some of the writing from this past year- Year On with the writing I will do in Year Off. I want to explore how I will change and grow as a writer and an artist offline.

I will miss you all and want to engage with you more deliberately as well. So I have created a spreadsheet to stay in touch. I hope to write you emails and letters and create art for you, so if you want to stay connected please add your name to the list. I promise not to share your info with anyone. I have create several degrees of connection for you: email, texts/phone calls, and/or hand written letters and packages. I would love to hear from you too, should you want to share photos or lifetime news events. or maybe you just want to share something small. I hope to build more personal relationships. I want to see how we interact beyond teh scroll and like. I appreciate and love your photos, and insights into your lives, but I want to see what it feels like to be more autistically connected. I hope you come join me in life beyond the feed.

I am very excited about this project. For those of you paying attention to the daily lyrics from The Wall, you will see that I have been feeling a bit trapped by these public spaces. It has felt like living behind a wall and I am ready to crawl out and see what I can rebuild.

In terms of political action, I want to move beyond simply reacting to daily news and find better ways to engage with the process in a more productive way. I will not randomly read Trump’s bullshit, and wine and whine and complain. I hope to find a balanced range of news sources to watch. I hope to build a sustainable course of political action, which may include joining an in-person democratic abroad group here in Singapore. I want to explore sustainable consistent political action. Trump resistance for me has to be more than posting his latest gaff.

I will continue to use Flickr as a way to share photo of our day lives. I know my family love to see the girls growing up, so if you are interesting in staying in touch via photos head over to Flickr. They have a great mobile app as well. I will occasionally update random projects and thoughts to Youtube, so maybe a subscription would be a good idea, but I will not publish any blog posts on either of my blogs. None of my writing for this year will be pubic. Who knows? I might be able to create material that might suit a book of some kind.

It feels like we are breaking up and I am giving you the it’s not you it’s me speech, but really I so value your input into my life and I hope that you will fill in the form so that I can engage with you in a more personal and authentic way.

Have a great new year everyone! I for one am so looking forward to the coming changes.

December 29, 2016

Just Win Baby

It was January 20th, 1991.

A cold dreary Northern California day and I was home alone. My dad my have been home, but he was downstairs in the darkroom working. I was seated in front of the TV ready to watch the AFC Championship game. The Raiders were still in LA and they had been mediocre since 1986.

After the 1983 Superbowl win and a few decent season after, they boys in Silver and Black had faced a few .500 seasons under Tom Flores and Mike Shanahan. That is until 1989 when Shanahan was fired and Art Shell, the former Raider and our latest saviour, was brought on board. The 1990/91 season saw us at 12-4 with a red hot Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson combo. Jackson had gotten hurt the week before against the Bengals, but we were a game away from the Superbowl and this was the team to do it.

I was on the couch wrapped in a blanket and ready to go to school on Monday, donning my black cap and gloating in the face of all the Forty Niner fans I knew.

But then hell was unleashed in that lonely cold room:

The Bills shredded the Raiders, limiting quarterback Jay Schroeder to 13 of 31 completions for 150 yards and intercepting him 5 times, while also holding running back Marcus Allen to just 26 yards on 10 carries. On offense, the Bills amassed 502 total yards, including 202 yards on the ground. Running back Thurman Thomas rushed for 138 and a touchdown while also catching 5 passes for 61 yards, while running back Kenneth Davis tied an AFC playoff record with 3 rushing touchdowns.

Buffalo also set an NFL playoff record by scoring 41 points in the first half.

The misery continued for Los Angeles in the second half, as their first three drives ended with interceptions. Buffalo recorded a total of six interceptions, the third highest total ever in a single NFL game.

I was in tears. Like literally crying. The entire season gone just like that. My hatred for Jay Schroeder knew no bounds. To this day, I cannot even look at a photo of him.

The defeat was complete.
I was crushed.
I had never, and have not since ever, felt that deflated.

The Raiders were an average .500 team for the rest of the decade, until a spate of good seasons during the Gruden era, brought us to a disappointing, but expectant Superbowl loss in 2002. I was upset during that Superbowl loss, but the parts of my psyche that held onto things like hope or expectations were crushed on the snowy day in Buffalo a decade earlier. Then began the began the dark ages and Al Davis' dementia.

Then I moved overseas and I lost touch with my team for 14 years. I would occasionally check in and see that they had barely amassed four wins. 2006, saw a return of Art Shell for a 2-14 season. Good thing I had disengaged from football in those years, the patheticness of that season would have been too much to bare.

Which brings us to the present-

A great team. A great coach. Management that knows what it is doing. Win after win and a youthful hopefulness that I haven’t seen from this organisation since….well, I’ve never seen it.

We were right there! Playoffs clinched and rolling into a potential first place seed in the AFC. Then are franchise quarterback broke his fucking leg!

I didn’t cry, because I am a grown man now, but the feeling was reminiscent of years ago.

This is not the end of the road for us. Our future is in our hands. Even a loss this week, gives us another game in the playoffs. We have a no name quarterback who can be a hero. The team around him is solid, but it will be a long haul. I will be nauseous with anxieties the next few weeks.

I was nine years old in 1983, the last time the Raiders won the Superbowl. I have come close and left wanting a few times, but this year felt special, until last week when the light violently flickered to near extinction.

I am not sure what a Raider win will mean to me. I know what the losses feel like. I have come to expect loss and disappointment when it comes to sports. I have never celebrated a championship victory. I don’t know what it feels like to win and be the best. I guess I just want a taste.

Come boys, Just Win Baby!

December 28, 2016

La La Madden

Finally found the antidote to Trumpism- Go see La La Land. What a beautiful, hopeful, romantic, magical film about passion and love. I loved every second of this film. Such a fresh look at how to tell a story. Damien Chazelle shines on all fronts. Perfectly written and beautifully shot, this film blends music, photography and a litany of carefully crafted story telling techniques.

This film was just what I needed to fill me up with hope about life, art, and passion as this year comes to its bitter end. It is filled with such vibrancy and color, wit and humor, as well a roller coaster of emotions. I was sitting on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I cannot say enough about this movie.

In other news, another grey day. Slow and easy, the kind you dream about in mid November when you are swamped and harried and busy with work. Skye and I hung out a bit. Made a small dent in the new Zadie Smith book. Played some guitar. Had a wine and pretzel with Mairin and scarfed down a chocolate eclair.

The doctor said my ankle is healing nicely and that I should be running in two months. In the meantime, it’s one step after the other.

I’d love to sit and brainstorm a few more things to ponder, but the Raiders are playing Atlanta in week two of my Madden season and the players are not going to train themselves.

Peace out crew. Three more days and things will be different.

December 27, 2016

One More Game

I was pretty gross today and by “pretty gross” I mean totally gross, and unfortunately my repulsive behavior felt pretty great.

I never showered and on days when I don’t shower, I always feel a certain film of yesterday that has no place on today. Woke up late, around ten again, and we were off to the park for some coffee and a croissant. (I have four more days of Vegan cheating and then 2017 will be a year of staunch militancy.)

From there I took our car to the shop to fix the AC and cabbed back home. Mairin stayed at the park with the kids for longer than we all expected, so I was home alone for much of the afternoon. I finished The One and Only Ivan and started the latest Zadie Smith book. This was the highlight of my day and the most productive I would be.

The rest of the day was all sloth and gluttony. At one point I popped a giant zit, twice, and was shocked by its contents. Too much information? Sorry about that, but you can’t tell me that you have never been grossed out by the contents of your body. Life ain’t always instagram filters- sometimes you are disgusting.

Made the kids a late lunch and we all lazed around the house for a while, before I went back and picked up the car. A lower than we expect cost had us all pretty happy.

Then Mairin took the kids to a friend’s house and I was alone again. The sun was setting and it felt fine to re-enter the world of The Division on X-box.

As a new adult gamer, I can see the lure and addiction these games have for our middle school kids. If I didn’t feel guilty or know any better, I could easily spend hours in the narratives of these games. After an hour of trying to secure the police precinct in Brooklyn, I gave up. I couldn’t seem to secure the parking lot from those four rioter, looter, zombie types.

Then I did what I have been wanting to do since 1992- I bought Madden 2017. Yup, I am a teenager again, and oh boy have the graphics changed. I went through the training camp and practice and then got killed by the Chiefs. Of course I am Derek Carr and the Raiders. Then I had a pretty resounding win against the Broncos.

So for people keeping score, my day:
  • woke up
  • ate
  • dropped off car
  • read
  • slept
  • picked up car
  • played The Division
  • played two games of Madden

Then the kids came home. Got their eyes on Madden and Kaia made some good play calls and Skye actually threw a TD to Crabtree.

Since the kids ate out, I ordered one of my final McDonald meals. The four day window is closing fast. There will be zero McDonalds in 2017, not even fries.

Playing video games and eating fast food- if this is not the American Dream, I don’t know what is. It felt great and lazy and full of sloth. But it is not something I would want to maintain, but I can see how people become obsessed and entranced by it. A steady diet of sugar and salt and a dopamine enduced escape from reality- that is a scary combination.

I’ve got big plans for 2017 in terms of productivity, so I need to come up with a structured plan for how I will contain my X-Box habit. This will have a profound effect on how the kids interact with it as well.

At the moment, it is new and shiny and exciting so we are all gorging a bit, but I am sure I will need to set some pretty strong boundaries for anyone who picks up a controller. As an educator, it has been eye-opening to jump into this world. I can’t believe I was able to stay away for so long.

For you gamers out there, how do you set boundaries? When and how often do you play?

And if you are gamer or a sports fan in Singapore when are you coming over for a Madden game?

It is 10:22pm…one more game won’t kill anyone right?

December 26, 2016

Rest and Healing

Today was a great easy day. Work up at 10:40, laid around the pool with friends. BBQ lunch. Had a beer. Played video games with the kids. And now sitting here, thinking about December and survival.

It’s been twelve years since the Tsunami in Thailand. It’s been almost twenty five years since Jason’s accident and late December always has me wrestling with mortality, yes more than usual.

I can’t complain really, so I won’t.

My ankle is healing- wore a shoe yesterday. I drove for a bit and I was able to swim today. I am getting mobility back and the pain is less and less each day. It is still pretty stiff and hurts if I put weight on it weird, but the process is coming along.

I have been purposefully politically disconnected this week. Who can handle it when you are trying to be happy? I am resting these days and the rest feels great.

Kind of nervous about how the entire house will handle the X-Box, but the kids so far have been better than me. Kaia has sleep-over tonight, so I said an hour of Star Wars Battlefront and then in her room for down-time before bed. She and her friend are now cracking themselves up doing mad-libs.

Me on the other hand, I’m wondering if I will give the X-Wing fighter a try, try to get some morphine for the people in The Division, or maybe open the whole thing up and buy Madden 2017 and completely revert to adolescence.

Or maybe I will try and finish up The One and Only Ivan, one of the saddest and cutest books I’ve ever read. The night is slow and easy and not much happening tomorrow.

This is my 361st post this year. Five more and something new...

December 25, 2016


I don’t normally write my daily post this early, it is only 4:15, but the house is tame and we are out to dinner with free flow drinks, so I won’t be in any shape later to write anything decent, and seeing that this is a Christmas post, I owe it more than a few drunken lines.

The girls are so excited to take a bath. They are in the tub with dolls and bath salts, as if this simple act is the greatest thing they have done all year. We have a tiny tub in our bathroom and no one ever uses it, expect for right now and man are they excited.

Mairin is taking a nap poor thing. She has been working so hard to finish off the school year, keep our family afloat, make a great X-mas for everyone and writing a paper for her masters course, among a million other things. She has been a true champion and her down time today has been well earned.

But it’s not like I have been doing anything to pick up the slack as there has been little slack to pick up…our day has been mellow.

Late wake up, 8:30am both kids, and opening presents. Lots of big ticket items this year, but feels like it was all useful stuff. We are now the proud owners of an X-Box One- not sure how a new gaming console is going to play out in our house, in terms of screen time and what not, but we were due. So far a few simple games and the kids are excited about Minecraft. The console came with The Division, an M18 post apocalyptic game set in NYC; I am a bit nervous about how much of my time this might take. I will proceed with caution.

The girls played. Mairin watched Gilmore Girls whilst sipping Prosecco and I watched the Raider game. Oh boy. What a game. It was amazing to see them dominating for a while and then bam! Just like that Carr out indefinitely. Trying not to let the injury affect my mood, but man 2016- You’re really killing me. It’s a team sport and we have a great team, but McGloin will have to be a super hero to pull this off. Now we see what happens in the next few weeks.

After the game, the girls messed around with my new amp. Then I had a few strums. I am excited to have my old Gibson out and resting in a stand next to this little amp. Looking forward to trying to learn a few solos and upping my guitar game in 2017. Anyone have any tips: video tutorials you love, scales I need to learn, online courses etc…would be great. Joel, Mike, Jeff, Roderick?

That’s about it. Mellow day playing with toys. I know it’s not the material things that are meant to be the focus, but let’s be real, until we (our family) chooses to do things differently, it feels nice to have some things that we enjoy. I feel that we didn’t over due it with junk this year and that eases my consumerist anxieties. And now, we are off to spend quality time with friends and eat some great food and drink some good drinks.

All in all this has been a fabulous Christmas day. I hope that no matter where you are, you are warm and safe and happy and spending time with your friends and family and maybe playing with a small toy that gets you excited.

December 24, 2016


Tonight, as I sit typing on this quiet Christmas Eve, waiting for the kids to fall asleep, so we can wrap the presents and put them under the tree, I want to write about joy.

Anyone reading my posts the last few weeks, may have noticed a lack of joyful posts. The reasons for my somber posts should have already been made clear, so tonight I will not dwell on the past, but focus on the present- this moment. Tonight. And the meaning of joy.

I want to write about how joy is sometimes the simple awareness of reality. I am not one prone to elation. I've had my moments, but my times of pure jubilation are not too common. I am not sure how others receive or spread joy. I am a quiet about it and seldom make a fuss. This reserved behavior might be mistaken for joylessness or worse a quiet despair, this is not, in fact, true

Let me tell you about today’s joy:

At lunch, Kaia was asking about the nativity story. Marin and I did our best to fill in the blanks. It was a hodge-podge retelling for sure and I felt the need to add some historic context about how the Romans had occupied Israel and a few details about the crucifixion that had Skyelar pretty freaked out, but Kaia seemed interested.

The conversation spilled over into our walk to the movies: We talked Genesis and the Bible; Kaia was a bit taken aback that according to Christians, only people who accept Jesus as their personal savior are allowed into heaven. We spoke about sin and Islam and the patriarchy. We spoke about Greek myths and the power of folklore and storytelling, we spoke of ancient people and how Science has revealed so many thing we didn’t know about in the past. We spoke of evolution and the big bang, of Persian culture, and the invasion of Muslims to Iran in the 1300s. We spoke of Farsi and traditions. We spoke a lot. She asked many questions and pondered in the silences.

“I just don’t understand why so many people think they are right, when they can’t all be right. Why not just try to accept the fact that we are all different? ” This brings me joy.

The AC in our car is broken. Today as we drove home in the rain, the inside of our car felt like a furnace. The windows were fogged up, we were sweating and a horn heavy Diana Krall X-mas carol had me wishing for death. We were tired and cranky, but as I sat there sweating my mind drifted to the many chappa rides I endured in Mozambique. I thought back to the hours and miles I collected suffering quietly in the name of adventure.

I thought about how soft I have become in my old age. Sitting in the comfort of my own car, with my family, complaining about the heat. This somersault of the past and the present brought me joy.

We watched the Griswald Christmas Vacation movie tonight and Mairin was a bit nervous that it would be inappropriate, and oh boy was it. The language. The weird sexual innuendoes. All of it was weird and fun and magical. Our kids are so sheltered sometimes that it was fun to discuss what it means to “shit bricks.”

We watched the movie. I had a glass of wine in my new red wine glass, no more plastic cups for me. We ate cookies and laughed and relaxed. This brings me joy.

Joy is not a state of ecstasy for me. Joy is being awake to my life as it passes by. Small photographs and memories. Tiny dreams come true. The realization that this is life. Everyday. Everything. It is all here to enjoy and devour and ponder and live through.

I hope that you are able to glimpse a few of these moments, and capture the fleeting flakes of joy as they fall around you.

December 23, 2016

Be Better

I want things to be quiet and I want to be better.
I want to do things more deliberately and less habitually.
I want to stun a room into silence and take breaths away.
I want to create and carve and reconfigure.
I want to let the stirrings vibrate and hit the right notes.
I want my words to rumble, tumble and hit on impact.

I want to be more than your scroll and your feed.
I want to be more than liked.
I want to borrow into your thinking and force your heart to skip a beat.

I want the minutes to slow down and feel like hours, and these days like lifetimes.
I want to inspire you and share with you and shake you and wake you and remind you.

I want to please you.
I want to Leonard Cohen you.
I want to turn off the noise and ignore the mob and their voices.

I am tried of comment sections and blogs and social media and the accidental nonsense.
I am tired of options and pundits and comedians and experts and artists.

I want to stop ignoring every detail that demands my daily attention.
I want to breath in and out and be here now.
I want to disappear into the gentle silence of midnight.

The flickering lights
and consistent promises-
another decade is off and running.
A new year on the horizon.

With our eyes closed
I feel that chaotic night in the city
Gabe and I walking across the bridge at dawn
wondering if you would live.

Who could have guessed that a love so young
could have carried us so far.
Who knew how little, boys need, to be men.

All we ever wanted was to be better.

December 22, 2016

Customer Service

Tonight's post may or may not be a submission for a Mystery Shopper Program. Nothing special. Just figured why not crank something out and maybe get a chance to have a few free meals.

Best Customer Service Experience:

It is July 2004. Summer. We are in the Grasse in the south of France. Honeymooning.

We had been staying in a small apartment in Nice for a few weeks, but now we were hitting the road and trying out a few nicer hotels. We were driving a tiny Smart car plastered with a 99 Euro-A-Day sign and traveling light with a few haggard backpacks. We felt like outsiders, when we arrived at the Chateau, as our miniature car pulled into a parking lot littered with Jaguars, Porches and a few Rolls Royces. We valeted the car and made our way to check in.

The staff was very kind and treated us with the utmost respect. After some initial banter, the young man behind the counter knit his brow and said there might be a problem with our reservation. It seemed that a hotel employee had also made a reservation for that night and now there were no more regular rooms. We would have to stay in one of their suites. This sounded great, but I was worried that we would be charged the difference. The regular room was already a splurge for us and anything more would have been impossible. I was a bit nervous and embarrassed to ask how much that would be, but then I saw the guy smiling. He was messing with us. “Of course there will be no additional charge for the upgrade.”

A few minutes later, we were shown to our suite. It was beautiful. Three rooms. A balcony over looking the flower fields. A giant bathtub with fragrant artisanal soaps and shampoos. I was in the tub within the hour.

We knew that we could not afford the restaurant, so we bought wine, bread and cheese in town and enjoyed the suite for the rest of the night. In the morning we splurged and paid of the champagne breakfast and leisurely dined on the balcony.

The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome every time we came and went.

On the day we left, they brought our little Smart car around and packed our bags in the tiny trunk and waved us off as we headed to Cannes.

Worst Customer Service Experience:

Not sure if this is one of my worst customer service experiences, but it is definitely a bad one, and quite recent as well. Earlier this year I was at the Nike store trying to buy my daughter a pair of basketball shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to find exactly what we were looking for, in her size, and on sale to boot.

Why yes, thank you I will take these size 6.5 Lebrons for the reasonable price of $60 SGD. The store was a a bit busy and chaotic as we made our way to check out counter. I was chatting with my daughter about some basketball shoe related topic, when the sales clerk told me that unfortunately the shoes were not in the system and that he couldn’t sell me the shoes.

“But I don’t understand. You have the shoes right there in your hands and I have money that I want to give you for the shoes.”

He told me that he understood how I might be frustrated, but there was nothing he could do. Because the shoes were not in the system, there was no way he could sell me the shoes, and if I wanted I could put my name on a list and come back to get the shoes in a few days.

“But I don’t want the shoes in a few days.” I was shocked to see how many people had added their name to his list. “Can’t you just add them manually? This is business 101. You have a product that I want and I have money, nothing should be getting in the way of this transaction.”

He smiled sheepishly, shaking his head. We were at an impasse.

“Can you please call the manager?” I was irate. He wasn’t even entertaining the possibility that he could solve this problem on his own.

A few seconds after the manager was called over, the shoes were manually inputted into the system, my credit card was approved, I was signing the receipt, and the customer service guy was bagging my shoes like nothing had happened.

Tonight's post may or may not be a submission for a Mystery Shopper Program: him a passive aggressive death glare and left the store with the shoes. Trying to control my anger, so my daughter couldn’t see how petty I was being.

December 21, 2016

Nothing Day

Today was a nothing day, but it was an everything day.

Woke up around nine. Both kids slept in. We headed to East Coast park for some coffee and chill out time. Next= mall time, a quick lunch and Moana. What a great movie. I am a bit too buzzed to write a proper review, but it was a beautiful movie. So glad to be raising girls at a time like this, so many great role models.

Ended the day with a great skate session and drinks and snacks at Shawn and Nicole’s.

The blank endless holiday days blend into one another. I think tomorrow is Thursday. 

December 20, 2016


Playgrounds and Pools.
Coffee, ice tea and a few donuts here and there.
Lunch with friends and a three-beer nap.
Dinner with friends.
A ridiculous yet funny movie about an office party.

This was my day
after waking up to news about
terror and assassinations.

There's not much else to today,
but this sedated, comfortable sense of satisfaction
and a long night of sleep
that will not end with an alarm
or sense of duty of any kind.

December 19, 2016

Football Student

The day started with football. Well breakfast and then football.

Marin had to go to school to work on a paper that is due for her class all day, so the girls and I were home all day. Although, my ankle is slowly getting better, I am not quite ready to drive, so we were house-bound for most of the day, but no worries because there was a crucial Raider game to watch and we were stoked. Well Kaia and I were, Skye lost interest after the first drive and succumbed to playing with dolls and eventually some screen time in the other room.

Kaia on the other hand was like a sponge. I mapped out a few diagrams to make sure she had a better understanding of the game and before long she was mapping each drive. Saying things like, “we can’t have another turn-over this time.” Or, “Oh my god that sneak up out of nowhere hit was awesome!”

She quickly understood downs and yardage and showed a basic understanding of field position, and even how the offensive line is crucial to a running game. We talked about the role of each position and eventually got to discussing pulling guards and putting pressure on a quarterback. It was a good first game.

What was even better was how involved she was with each play throughout the game. We were on the edge of our seats in the fourth quarter; her cheering, enthusiasm and pure joy after the win made it that much more amazing for me. Cannot wait to watch the last few games, the playoffs and who knows? Maybe the Superbowl with her. She may need a Raider shirt of her own. I’m on it.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty mellow. Lunch. Some reading. Three hours by the pool. The girls played really well together while I read and even took a tiny nap poolside.

Mairin was home for a quick dinner at Bergs, before she was back to Starbucks for more work. We’ve got the mid-seam finale of Walking Dead cued up, and I'm a bit nervous what Neagan might do.

We were supposed to be in Thailand tonight, but some idiot broke his ankle and so we cancelled the trip. The sun, the sand, the ocean would have been great, and I am super bummed that I forced our whole family to stay here, but at the end of the day we need rest, healing and some time to just do what we did today. Not much on the agenda tomorrow either.

I think I am a few days away from driving which will be a nice step forward. Speaking of steps, the limp is less, the pain more stiffness than pain and the ankle scab all but gone. The human body is an miraculous thing.

The Raiders are in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Hoping they can win the last two games, win the AFC, have a bye and see the Patriots late in the playoffs. To beat them in the AFC championship game, would be a dream cone true. But I am getting ahead of myself. We need a win against the desperate Colts next week. I wish the Raiders played more than one time a week. It feels too long to wait until next Sunday to see what happens next.

December 18, 2016


People like happy pictures of happy people doing happy things. You go out. You spend time with your loved ones. You take photos. You post them. People like them and everyone is happy and festive and all life is good.

There is nothing wrong with this. On the contrary happiness feels good and is contagious and it is a breath of fresh air when you are tired and unhappy. You laugh. You smile. You tell stories. You drink a Bloody Mary for brunch. You nap. You have margaritas at dinner.

This was my day. Kids opened presents. I got over my anxiety of kids opening too many presents. I let it ride this time and absorbed my discomfort, until now when I let it out in this small burp-like complaint.

We looked at flowers. We ate. We walked around. I read. I slept. Every few hours I reminded everyone that we were on holiday.

I have a bit of a head ache and a low range buzz at the moment. The good parts of the day were wrapped in The Wall (I’ve got wild starin’ eyes…) and that is the nature of reality. It is good and bad and everything in between, like a spiral every minute, every day.

December 17, 2016


Today was a pretty great day for the start of the holiday. It involved:


Started the day with a nice coffee, raspberry jelly donut and almond croissant with Mairin at Baker and Cook. Lunch was veggie noodles, veggie dumplings, sprouts, green beans and rice at Tall Girl near Joo Chiat. (Although I accidentally ate a pork dumpling and the taste was so gross I almost threw up.) Had a few beers at lunch and then dinner was homemade tacos, followed by mulled wine and chocolate.


Made some progress on Born to Run. I am not loving it. It is okay. We get it Bruce- you worked hard and you love music. I’m a little over 200 pages in, the Born To Run era, but not sure if I have the stamina to finish. Will give it this week with a few power reading sessions.


A few naps.


Submerged the ankle to water and floated about a bit with Skye.

The news has me down again. The coup in North Carolina. The birth of #unpresidented. The shear idiocy of where we are headed.

When you create an angry, frustrated population who prides itself with anti-intellectualism and the “oppression” from the elites, then anything logical or smart sounds oppressive and anything flawed or stupid sounds like “the people.” It is a lose lose game for anyone who cares about facts, truth, education, ideas. We will always bury ourselves beneath our hubris.

See? Even using the word hubris is unwise. Maybe we need the best words, because we are like smart. That might be #unpresidented. It’s getting hard to have a brain or a heart and eyes and ears and watch what is happening. But we cannot stoop to their level: Education matters. Words matter. Learning matters. School matters. Ideas matter. Discourse matters.

But I was writing about a nice first day of our holiday. I ate and drank and slept and read and watched. I am not in a war torn country. I am not currently persecuted for the color of my skin or my sexuality. I am privileged and grateful and comfortable. I don’t admit these facts from a place of pride, but from a place of gratitude and understanding.

December 16, 2016

Holiday and Rebel Music

Listening to early Brice Springsteen and enjoying a beer. Friends are off to all corners of the earth and we are here, again, but looking forward to healing, resting reading, writing, watching, eating and just getting back to normal after that blitzkrieg we called November.

Although, I frown on violence, there is something very satisfying about reading the story about how Chad Smith’s wife (drummer from RHCP) attacked Scott Baio while yelling Grab’em by the pussy.

Last day of school was mellow and uneventful. I don’t have much to say tonight. I am feeling better. Good. Great. Gonna listen to some tunes, watch some shows, read and call it a night. I don’t have to wake up at any time tomorrow and we have nothing planned, but maybe a few hours by the pool.

Last night’s play list by the way made me feel pretty great. Forgot to share:

  • Patti Smith- Because The Night
  • Pearl Jam- Gimme Some Truth
  • NOFX- You’re Wrong, Don’t Call Me White, Franco Un-American
  • Dead Prez- Police State
  • Public Enemy- Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos….
I got a letter from the government
The other day
I opened and read it
It said they were suckers
They wanted me for their army or whatever
Picture me given' a damn - I said never!

December 15, 2016


I just read an essay by Patti Smith about performing, watched a few poems by Billy Collins and an article about how teaching is like performing about Teller from Penn & Teller. All three were shared with me by friends. Thank you friends for knowing me and bringing valuable content to my heart and mind.

I walked a lot today. Didn’t take he crutches and made a few trips to the library and the canteen and now there are sharp shooting pains and swelling. I am ready to run now. Swim. Jump. Skate and be back to normal. But I still hobble and gimp.

We went to dinner at Etna’s and I had a Negroni and some wine. I am deep into my vegan cheating stage until the new year- my pasta had cream and we shared Tiramisu and a Cannoli. It was delicious and the guilt was faint due to the exhaustion of the day.

Some times when I talk to one six grader about anything, a small mob of 5 or 6 will also gather around and listen- eyes wide and expectant. As if I might have some of the secrets of the universe. They seem so grateful for an adult who will listen to them and take them seriously. I guess in a way the feeling is mutual.

Tomorrow is a half day and I am excited to be in a joyous celebratory mood. Community day. Food. Gifts. Goodbyes and at 3:40 Rogue One in Imax 3D. It is extra sweet because the Nazis are trying to #dumpstarwars, and I will revel in everything that angers them- strong female protagonist and people of color rebels fighting a white-supremacists patriarchy. I am especially excited about Forrest Whitaker’s performance.

We watched School of My Dreams during our Daraja meeting today and I was fighting back tears thinking of you all in Kenya. Can’t wait to be back on campus in a few short weeks. It feels like forever since I have been back “home.”

It is 9:23 and my warm, clean, safe bed for which I am eternally grateful is not too far away.

December 14, 2016

Playing With Trolls

I’ve been playing with trolls lately, not the the really nasty aggressive, could be a Russian dude getting paid to mess with our democracy, or the I-only-read-Breitbart News-and-have-a-pepe- avatar variety, but the kind that might be a dad’s cousin of a friend who shows up in my friend’s Facebook feed saying something outlandish and rude- hackneyed talking points they heard on Fox News or read on some thread somewhere else.

As an experiment I have been trying to engage with these strangers in a calm, racial, open-minded way. It has been difficult not being snarky or straight up mean, my natural tendency is to insult and demean, but I have made it a point to ignore my base instincts and try to act more civil.

This process has me thinking about a few basic rules that might allow us to have more tolerant social media spaces. Spaces that might lead to more dialogue and less anger. More understanding and less yelling. More listening and less blind opinions.

  1. Don’t engage with a stranger without building some context of who you are. You would never just approach a total stranger in the street in real life and start yelling your opinions at them. So if you find a random person on a feed who is saying some thing you disagree with do not simply attack that person’s ideas, no matter how off-putting or rude they may be. Introduce yourself first. Perhaps the person will feel a slight hesitation before the conversation suddenly becomes a volley of insults. 
  2. Start by giving in a bit. Admit to something that you might have gotten wrong. Show some empathy and give-in a little to a point that they are making that you might agree with, or at least understand. People are much less likely to insult you or your ideas if you have shown a bit of vulnerability. 
  3. Stick to the points of the content that has been shared. Try to move beyond their simplicity insults and barbs- try to get back to what it is about the content that they find objectionable. Ask them questions. Lots of questions. “If you don’t think that women should have the right to express their fear and anger in art, how do you think they should speak up in society?” “If you don’t feel that silent protest is appropriate during the national anthem, how do you think black Americans should show their frustration with the system? How do you define racism?” Try to make the person think about what they value and how they think, so they spend less time hurling cliches and one liners at you. 

This work is difficult and perhaps pointless. After all why would we want to try and change the mind of so-and-so’s dad’s cousin? Who has time for this?

I guess I see this as teaching. If we want our students to learn how to be empowered and kind and take ownership of these online spaces, then we have to be role-models even when we are angry and the work feels difficult and impossible. We need to act with grace and dignity in the most absurd conversations.

Be yourself. Be vulnerable. Ask questions. Get people to think about what they value, why they are angry?

You have to resists the urge to be petty. That is what they want. Most of these people have not thought about what you want them to think about. Yes it is true that if they are true trolls, all bets are off an none of this matters, but if they are simple angry and ignorant and afraid, then you might be able to help them re-think what they think about privilege, or race, or class or TrumpII. You might be able to educate some people and be the shinning light in at least one Facebook thread.

Am I being naive and idealistic? Probably. I don’t think I have another choice. Below are a few examples of what I am talking about.

I was involved in a conversation about the meaning of white male privilege:


I'm not saying this to be confrontational, I can appreciate your account of your modest middle class life. And I know many people who have had similar experiences and because your life does not look like the glamours celebrity lives we see in the media, you do not see it as a privilege.

You worked hard and never asked for anything and you made do with what you had and that wasn't much, and so how can that be privilege.

But just being white in America and male in America and middle class in America is a privilege many people don't have. You don't see it, because you have not had to experience or ever exposed yourself to what other American realities might look like. Take a look at some novels by James Baldwin or listen to some music by Dead Prez or watch a film called The might give you some insights in the privilege that you do have.

I appreciate the time you took the time to watch the video, but I think you are missing a key point- privilege is not an all or none game. It is not as if you have it or you don't, privilege works on a continuum. We all have certain privileges for various reason over others, it doesn't mean we are better or worse, or that we worked harder than other or not, it's simply the hand we were dealt.

Sure, some people waste their privilege while others make do even without having it, but that doesn't negate the fact that they have certain privileges to start with.

The fact that you were born a white male from a working class family doesn't take away from your successes, but you had certain privileges that say a gay Puerto Rican man born in the Bronx didn't have. (Like not being beaten up for his sexuality) Or a single woman born in Flint, Michigan, (Clean water)

It is not a comparison- we have all ad obstacles we need to over come, but we all have certain privileges and recognizes those, allows us to be more empathetic to marginalized members of our society.


After some back and forth, this person said.

“Ok, I see your point. I've generally always associated being privileged with being given virtually everything on a silver platter, which the majority of folk in the world are not. Others work very hard to earn at least some of those privileges. I've just never considered myself privileged, simply because nothing has ever been given to me without hard work.”


Small victory but I’ll take it.


Here is another one. The original post was about an art project where a 19 year old woman wrote sexist Trump quotes over naked female bodies.

This person replied with, “ This is why our young are total dumb asses!! Is that allowed in their safe places….”


My response:

Hello everyone, I have been watching this thread with mild amusement for a while and now felt the need to add my two cents.

I don't you know you or your connection with XXXX and XXXXX, but I have known them for years and consider them good friends. I bring this up because it gets tricky interacting in these social media spaces, when we know so little about each other. You could be some random relative of Kim's (although by your tone I doubt it) or some random person who popped in on her public post. Either way, I think it is civil and necessary that before we offer our opinions or insults on any give topic that we are polite and introduce ourselves.

I am a 42 year old father of two girls and an international teacher of 15+ years. I am a self professed liberal and believe in progressive politics. I fight for peace, justice and love. These are ideals I value, and I have spent my life working toward spreading awareness in this field. It is why I became an educator.

I hope that adds some context about why this post in particular matters to me. Remember the post! The one about how a nineteen year old young women who felt threaten by Trump’s misogynistic language decided to use art as a vehicle to express her anger and fear, to which you replied by saying, “This is why our young are total dumb asses!! Is that allowed in their safe places….”

You later mentioned, in a mocking sort of way, how peoples' feelings might be hurt, to which I want to say yes my feelings are hurt. I assume you are using this tone as a way to bolster your own potentially fragile make ego, or maybe you are just trolling and being a dick, hard to tell these days, but the fact of the matter is that my feelings are hurt, when I think that my daughters are growing up into a world where their worth is evaluated by their looks and their bodies.

I did not see this art project as an example of why young people are “total dumb asses.”

More importantly, I am not sure why you felt the need to leave the comment you left on this particular post and then turn the thread into a playground argument worthy of elementary school kids.

Going back to the original content, I am curious do you agree with the statements made my Trump about women? Are you a father? Do you have a wife? Mother? Sister? Would like them to have an outlet for their frustrations? Have you ever asked them what it feels like to be a woman living in an aggressively patriarchal work?

I think asking each other questions is a better way to use these spaces and our time.

You can insult me back, and that would be understandably predictable and cliche, or you can take some time to actually engage with the world in a way that helps us come to a better understanding of each others lives.

Please note that I did my best not to insult you or use any kind of “trolling” behavior. I did look up conservatism and it is defined as, “social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization.”

So what traditions do you value that you feel warrant maintaining, in particular in the area of women’s rights, seeing that is what the original post was about.


In that same thread, another person wrote, “Where were all you people when good 'old Bill was sticking a cigar into Monica in the bathroom off the Oval Office?”

To which I replied:

I was twenty two years old and trying to find myself. I was disinterested in politics at the time and worried about how I might make rent or have enough money to buy beer. I worked a few jobs waiting tables whilst going to school.

I think if that happened now and I was an adult, I would be looking to feminist news sources I trust to look for guidance about how I might think about this issue.

I would explore ideas around consent and control, power and patriarchy. I would not be partisan enough to excuse behavior of someone simply because of their party affiliation.

I am not sure however, how your comment about Clinton, is relevant to the story Kim posted. I assume you are implying that "you people." (Liberals?) only care when republicans do things wrong.

I am here to say that is not true at least for me.

So back to the post, since you are obviously a champion of women's rights, based on your defense of Monica Lewinsky, how are you helping to empower women in the age of Trump?

Neither one of them have yet to respond.


Let me know if you have a troll in your thread that could use a lesson. I can do house calls.

December 13, 2016

The Dystopian Age

I am left spent today. Lots of walking and being upright all day has left me exhausted. I literally stared at this blank screen and couldn’t muster enough energy to write about anything.

Rick Perry, Rex Tillerson, or even Linda McMahon? You don’t need me to point out the insanity.

I was telling Mairin at dinner that it is a bit refreshing to see this blatant political orgy happening out in the open. Sure why not? Let's have the CEO of Exxon, who happens to be buddies with Putin and waiting on a 2 billion dollar oil project, be the new head of diplomacy, so he can gear up to remove sanctions.

This is whole pre-inaugration is like a big middle finger to America. Build the narrative of a false mandate and then shove your most ludicrous people and ideas down our throats. It is insanity. I’ve said it before, but we are now living in the Dystopian Age. Things will only get more bizarre from here.

The very idea of America has begun to unravel. What happens next, no one will know. Will Rick Perry run the Department of Energy, the very department he couldn’t remember and then wanted to shut down, while he is Dancing With The Stars?

It’s all too much to handle. Everyday is another step into the darkness, and I am not sure if we are equipped as a nation to do anything but watch in abject horror. Have we built a system of education, organization, and resistance to help us survive?

We will wait and see…tonight, my foot is throbbing and I need to punch out.

December 12, 2016

The World I Imagine

I spent a lot of my day trying to figure out how to help young boys learn how to be their true selves and be nicer to each other, seeing that their natural tendency, for some reason, is to build a wall around themselves and act like assholes.

Making fun of those who are different or smaller or weaker or weirder than you is such typical pre-teen male behavior, but that doesn't make it any less a cop-out. As an educator I'm constantly reminding myself that these bullying kids are just young children too, who have their own issues- as I try to untangle the issue from the kid and the behavior from its damage, I can’t help but think of the same behavior I see in adults.

I have said it many times before- working with young boys to learn how to be open-minded, fearless, kind young men is some of the most crucial work that we do as educators.

I am not saying that there aren’t very similar pecking-order issues with the girls, and that they don’t have their own set of problems, but learning how to navigate the build-up of a testosterone fueled alpha-male world is a project I have been grappling with since I was picked on for being small and weird and different.

Saw this today on Twitter:

We have been instructed to disbelieve the news, the gov't, the scientists, and the academics. But we're supposed to believe in America?

The world I imagine, the world I have been working toward my whole life, feels so distant these days. It is getting smaller and farther away and harder to achieve, but I must have faith that this is the world that we have been promised.

I have not spent my entire life committed to education, I have not spent my entire life reading books about peace and justice and love and art, and watching films about diversity and race and class and poverty, I have not joined organizations and NGOs dedicated to peace, I did not join Peace Crop, teach in The Bronx, join The International Socialist Organization, and march in the streets, and teach for fifteen years, just to watch it all get pissed away by some two-bit snake-oil salesmen and his gang of thugs and billionaires.

Some nights, I need these little pep-talks- soft gentle wisps of breaths on the embers of the fire in my heart to get it going again. I have seen a few flames here and there. I know it has not gone out completely, because it keeps me warm and the glow shows me that I am not alone in the darkness, but the flames still need fanning.

December 11, 2016

Season of Love

Because I can’t yet drive and because Mairin’s parents are here and because our car is small and because we are out-and-about all over town, Skye has been sitting on my lap in the front seat. Our cheeks are very close and all day long I have been stealing kisses. She has been burying her head into the crux of my shoulder, and the soft skin on her cheeks reminds me of when she was a baby. I subtly inhaled her smell and squeezed her as we drove from meal to meal.

As I was petting the cat on the bed today, I noticed that her front tooth was brown and chipped and aged. I always thought that she was indestructible and ageless, but further investigation revealed that she is missing quite a few teeth. She is fourteen (72 in human years) and so it makes sense that he body is deteriorating. Mairin immediately went out and bought her some soft wet food. She scarfed it down and seemed to enjoy the novelty of something new at her age. We could all wish for something little like that to bring us joy.

The afternoon was quiet and grey and ended with an early dinner at Chjimes. The weather was cool for Singapore, the lights festive, the food satisfying. I had few expectations for the day and it lived up to them. Slow and steady. Undemanding in its nonchalance.

Sometimes it might be best, when the world is upside down and spiraling out of control, to hunker down and hug the middle, somewhere near the centrifuge and hold on for dear life.  

December 10, 2016

The Worst At Everything

According to the CIA, it looks like the Russians influenced the US elections, and when Trump heard this information he said, referring to the CIA, “These are the same guys who thought there were weapons of mass destruction.” It also look like his top choice for Secretary of State is the former CEO of Exxon, who has been frustrated by the sanctions put on Russia, because has had wanted to get a few oil projects going in Russia for years.

At one point today I saw the president elect of the United States ask a crowd to cheer because they thought that Time magazine should still have a man of the year instead of a person of the year. This is our reality. Polls conducted by chanting and cheering from an ignorant, sexist mob, conducted by a sad old clown.This man is literally the worst at everything.

If this was the script to a movie, we would find it too implausible, but here we are a few weeks before we are living this meaningless nightmare.

In other news, Alt-Right toads, read as neo-nazis, are upset with the new Star Wars because the good guys are people of color and a girl, and the bad guys are white. Apparently they just realized the obvious parallels between the Empire and fascists. I for one am super excited to see it and get fired up and my rebellion on!

Today was a slow family day and it felt good. I was up on my foot a lot and it swelled up and hurt at times throughout the day, but we had a great lunch and then saw Sing. Such a cute movie.

Came home for a rest-up for everyone, then some mulled wine, vegan stuffing and cranberry sauce, and yes another viewing of Elf. The house was lit up all Christmas, and the girls snuggled their grandparents. it was calm and quiet and relaxing and life is coming back together. If only I could ignore the internet.

December 9, 2016


It was three O’Clock on a Friday afternoon and I was alone in my classroom. I just got the Raiders Chiefs game cued up on the big screen when Luke walked in. We sat in a state of languid excitement and watched the game, both of tired from a long day, week, semester. The Raiders were outplayed in every aspect of the game. They couldn’t get their offense going. Their defense game up a few big plays, so much so that the Chiefs scored 21 second quarter points and the Raiders, despite a few turn-overs were looking lack luster. Scott came and went and we were eventually joined briefly by Ian.

It wasn’t the celebratory win I was hoping for and now, just like that, we are in second place in the AFC West. There are still three games left and there is nothing certain in the incestuous AFC West, but this would’ve been a good win. It was disappointing for sure. Just goes to show that the happiness that sports giveth, can just as quickly be taken away.

Quiet Friday night. Dinner at Alt pizza and Mairin is off to a party and I have a date with my bed and Bojack Horseman. The foot felt pretty great all day, but now there are some weird aches and pains.

The Trump cabinet picks and magazine covers and victory tours and inability to get anyone but Kid Rock or Ted Nugget to play his inauguration make the United States feel more and more like some dystopian fantasy. It’s like opposite land, where every department is run by the person who hates the field the most and who has spent the longest time trying to destroy it. Labor, EPA, FDA, Treasury all run but people hell bent on dismantling the very departments they have been charged with running.

Maybe the GOP is finally going for broke and will dismantle the federal government once and for all. Reality TV will no longer be a haunted house mirror reflecting life, but the other way around- life will mimic the bizarre world of scripted reality TV. I am still holding out for which department Trump will let Gary Busey lead.

The weekend is here and after that four and half more days of school and the last few days of 2016. I am in a pretty good head-space at this point, the worst of my injury behind me I hope.

I am looking forward to some fresh thoughts coming my way.

December 8, 2016

Too Quickly

I may have over done it today, in my attempt to heal more quickly. I must have crossed that damn bridge at least six times today. And as a result my foot is throbbing, swollen and has sharp shooting pains in a lot of strange places. The cold that I kicked last week came back with a vengeance during block three and has had me a bit knocked out all afternoon.

The foot was feeling good this morning, so I was up, standing, moving, walking, etc…and the reality is that it might still need a bit more sitting, resting, propping. I will keep that in my tomorrow.

Which, I don’t need to tell anyone is a Friday.

Despite the lingering cold and the painful foot, this was a much better week than last. It has been great to get caught up with students and some friends and showered and dressed everyday. I am looking forward to going waterproof (meaning that the wound will have closed up completely and I no longer need to put my foot in a plastic bag.), wearing a shoe, and walking with a cane instead of crutches. I am hoping I can be three-for-three next week.

But enough about the foot.

I am still on Trump hiatus. It’s all too ridiculous. I am thinking of reading 1984 for some clues on where we might be headed. His EPA pick is mind-boggling. It's literally like he is finding the worst person for each job and saying, "Yup let's see how this person will do."

My biggest highlight today was a newly installed water bidet hose in the staff bathroom I frequent. Believe it or not, these are not standard operating procedure in Singapore and it goes without saying that I am a big fan.

The girls were both involved in United Nations Day performances, which were great, but I was so preoccupied with other things and the pain in my foot and the sneezing that I simply endured being in the auditorium and wasn’t fully able to let the peace and music wash over me. A big shout out to everyone involved in organizing it, it was tremendous and the girls had a blast.

Tomorrow should prove to be a mellow day, ending with me watching the Raider game after school. Media black out starts now, so please no updates. Also looking forward to Mary Jo and Patrick arriving to the house bright and early for breakfast.

December 7, 2016

Tired Writing

So close to the end of the year and I am running out of things to say. I am bored with on what’s on my mind, and no amount of writing about it will freshen it up- or so it feels. I needed a break from politics, so I broke my ankle. And now I need a break from my break.

There is a general aching discomfort and I am mindful of every step. I had a strange prickling burning sensation on the top of my foot all day, and a call to the doctor confirmed that it is normal and okay- the nerves are being pushed together due to swelling.

I wore a sock today and that felt like a victory, but like I said talking about my foot is more boring than dwelling on more Trump gaffs.

One thing I am not bored by are the Raiders. I have taken this fandom to new levels, by liking their official Facebook page and so now I get to see random practice videos, news conferences, cool photos, and more…I’m not gonna lie, I feel like an eight year old fan again. I am literally counting the hours before the Thursday night game against the Chief. We could be 11-2 atop the division and the conference and looking at home field in the playoffs.

But I am no sports writer, and while gushing over my favorite football team is a fun distraction, I know I can’t do it every night.

So what do I need to write about on this Wednesday night in the penultimate week of school before the holiday break?

Besides Trump, pain and football what else is on my mind?

The Bruce Springsteen biography is coming along nicely. It’s not a book that is going to change your life in terms of content or craft, but it is an fascinating life story told in a clear and passionate way.

The Boss can obviously write and I am learning a lot about him. To me, as a child of the eighties, Springsteen was a mainstream hit machine. I grew up in he Born In The USA era and he was safe and comfortable and all-american. So it is interesting to read about how he felt like an outsider in his small blue-collar town. He was a long haired weirdo trying to find himself in Greenwich Village and San Francisco in the late sixties, only to realize that his true self was back in Jersey.

He was also a helluva hard worker. And his persistence to his craft was admirable.

Bojack Horseman continues to be amazing. I am a third of the way through season three and loving every episode. Not watching much else TV or movies these days.

So I guess I am in a state of recovery. A holding pattern. A held breath. A state anticipation until the next stage. It has been great to be back at school and interacting with 11 &12 year olds. I had another full day today and it felt better and tomorrow will be a busy one with an assembly and two UN performances by my own kids, but the end is within sight.

We, the collective we- me, Mairin, family, students, all of you, are tired. And this is tired writing, but no night shall be left without words. Right? I made a promise.

Hoping for some inspiration soon. If nothing else the Raiders will shake things up in a few days.

December 6, 2016


Well that felt like 0-60.

Had a full day today. Was at school from 7:30am to 3:00pm. Taught two classes. Did some marking and then went to a meeting about Learning Spaces after school. The foot was feeling okay for most of the day. It was pretty swollen, but I tried to stay off of it as much as I could. It is amazing how far everything feels on crutches and how exhausting it can be just to get to lunch.

The killer was that we stayed after school until six pm to see Kaia’s recital, which was great and super worth it, but after a week and a half of bed-rest, a nearly twelve-hour day was pretty intense. My foot feels kind of numb right now with a strange prickling burning sensation on the top, but let’s pretend that is normal. I’ve got two classes early tomorrow, so I will go in and teach those, do some work on an assembly I am trying to organize for Thursday and maybe call it an early day tomorrow.

Everyone has been very kind and considerate and looks at me like I am crazy to be at school. “It looks so swollen.” They say and it is, but not as much as it has been. I need to be there. It is the last stretch and it feels okay to do what I am doing. It’s uncomfortable at the end of the day, but there are not many days left.

At one point tonight, after Kaia’s piece was over, we were sitting there listening to a few other students play their pieces and my mind began to drift. The drummers played along with a song track and one of my former students, who is in high school now, played Numb by Linkin Park, one of my favorite songs. He was nailing it and in some magical bizarre moment it all felt pretty transcendental.

My foot was throbbing and numb and ached from the long day. My mind was drifting and blank and utterly focused on the song and for a few disconnected seconds I felt fully alive and free. Yes, I was sitting there with a broken bone nearly two weeks after surgery, but I could feel it healing and the music told me that the future was just around the corner and that although someone said to me today in passing, only slightly joking, “Men your age shouldn’t be on skateboards,” I knew that she was wrong.

Men my age can and should do whatever we feel like. Sure we make mistakes and over-reach and hurt ourselves and ruin plans and make life difficult for those around us, but without taking these risks what are we doing? We cannot live our lives if we are always feeling the need to live a life that is overly cautious.

Enrico was pounding on the drums. Linkin Park was singing:

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there,
Become so tired, so much more aware
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you.

I am not sure who the "you" is at this point. Perhaps just a doubting voice in my head. I was tired and hurting, but I was alive damn it and fully aware of my existence, some say this is the path to nirvana. I don’t know about all that, for me it was the end of a long Tuesday in early December and I wasn’t feeling too sorry for myself. And that felt more right than anything has felt in a while.

December 5, 2016

We Are Winners

I’m not big into sports. I don’t really like to play them and I could careless about watching them. Sure, I’ll follow an interesting story or look in to the games of a World Series so I am in the loop. I’m always down to watch the last two minutes of an NBA game seven when everything is on the line, but usually during regular season play, I could careless about most sports or teams.

Except for one sport- NFL football and one team- The Oakland Raiders. And for most of my life they have been terrible. Losers. So watching them usually just meant frustration, sadness and disappointment. But for reasons I have written about before, they were my team and I supported them and the game I love. There is nothing like American Football. It is a thing of beauty. Calculated, graceful and barbarically chaotic, it is the sport for me.

For the last fourteen years or so, I would check in on, uninterested, but bound by duty to see how badly the Raiders lost on any given week. I rarely knew their players and had lost touch with who they were. All I knew was that year after they year they were terrible and had become some kind of laughing stock of the league.

But this year things are different. I have watched four games from start to finish. I can name at least six players on both sides of the ball and get crazy excited when our small secondary back Jalen Richard runs for fifty plus yards in our tenth win of the season.

Not only are the 2016 Raiders winning. They are good. And not only are they good, but everyone knows it and is talking about what a breath of fresh air this team is. They are young but determined. They play smart and hard and with flair. They are poised and do not lose hope when they fall behind. They can run the ball and pass the ball and their defense, behind Kalil Mack is coming to life. They are in first place in the AFC and they are humble.

I cannot put into words how happy it makes me to watch them win, read the articles talking about how great they are, watch post game conferences where they mention that they are just trying to “stack up enough wins” to get a good spot in the playoffs.

As every Raider fan knows, there is the expected let down. The downturn where even a decent season ends in a series of losses or a blow out in the playoffs, but this team is different. They just play well. Smart. Scripted. Good football. So while they might lose a few of the last tough games before the playoffs. Or worse they might get beaten by a team in the playoffs- this has already been a season of amazing football for this team.

Regardless of what happens for the rest of the year, I am looking forward to what we look like in the next few years. But, who are we kidding, everyone in Raider Nation knows that we are looking unbeatable right now. Massive O-line, two great backs, a gaggle of big play-maker receivers, a clutch tight end, a secondary that is finally looking decent, a strong D-line and linebackers, the best kicker in the league, a punter who dances when flagged (with the flag) and the potential MVP and best quarterback in the league in only his third year.

This team is something special and I am looking forward to watching them throughout January and hopefully at the school Superbowl party when they beat the Cowboys! Just Win Baby!

Everybody I talked to at work, looked really worried about my foot. So much so that they are making me nervous. I checked in with the doctor today- wound is healing. Still split a bit at the bottom and bleeding a tiny bit. He hopes it will be waterproof and sealed in one week’s time. In the meantime, I still need a bandage and bag when I shower. He says to keep putting weight on it, so the muscle do not atrophy too much and make rehab difficult in the coming weeks. I am due back in three weeks for an X-Ray to see how the bone is healing.

So I went to school today and taught a class and got reacquainted with my kids. They were great. So many smiles and waves and welcome backs. I needed them and it felt good to be amongst kids.

By the end of the day I was in quite a bit of pain. My body wasn’t used to being up and about and it took a lot out of me. I came home and crashed for like 30 mins. The foot is swollen and throbbing, but I think that taking it easy the next few days, and knowing that I could take a day to rest, will be my plan. It’s the last nine days of school and I feel like I want to be there and finish things up with my peers and students.

Tomorrow will be my first full day and we are staying late for Kaia’s guitar recital, so I am a bit nervous, but one step at a time is all I can do.

This whole ordeal has got me thinking about not taking my body for granted. I need to have gratitude about the little things like walking around my classroom, or from the car park or to the canteen or down the hall….so often we assume that are bodies will always just do what they are meant to do, but nothing like a fractured bone to remind you to take it slow and appreciate how fragile it all is.

I am looking forward to walking again. To running. To skating, To swimming. To rolling around on the ground with my kids.

Take this moment to close your eyes and be thankful for your body in whatever shape it is in.

Oh....did I mention that the Raiders are 10-2!

December 4, 2016

B-Ball and Beer

I was supposed to run a half-marathon today. Somewhere in a warehouse or garbage bin sits my number bib and tank top. Run might be a tad too optimistic of a verb, I was not ready for this run even before I fractured my ankle. My plan was to have a pre-dawn walk-about to clear my head and sort my thoughts. A slow jog here. A comfortable walk there, beneath the slowly rising sun, through the streets of Singapore, to help me think about and plan my litany of new year’s resolutions. I was looking forward to three hours alone to align my priorities. But that was before the fall. The break. The bed rest.

There would be no dawn. No walk. No run. No need for any of that contemplative malarkey. I have been in bed for over a week. That is enough time to overthink everything and than think about it again.

I was out today. Twice. The sun was out too. I wore sunglasses and watched the girls play basketball. So fun watching them ratchet up their intensity and start to grasp the basic skills. Then home and rest and some work. Read a few grade 6 stories and began the grade 6 weekly mentor presentation.

Later Kaia and I did a home share with her writing and it’s so cool seeing her progress. I can’t help but compare her to the grade 6 kids I teach. I know she still has half a year to go, but every time I talk to her, or every time I teach my kids, I think about whether she would like the assignment, or think about whether or not she will be okay in grade 6. Today’s share put my heart at ease. The girl is starting to learn to write.

We finished Captain Fantastic and then outing number two- met friends at Brewerkz for an early evening dinner. Nice chat with friends. Good food. Setting sun. Cold beer.

My ankle is throbbing something fierce, but it was worth it being out in the world and interacting with people again. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and I am hoping that the open surgery wound will be closed and water-proof, and I am looking forward to a half day at work.

December 3, 2016


Today was a good one. I didn’t leave the house again, but I had the company of my kids and some more rest. Marin and Kaia were off to sewing and errands in the morning, so Skye and I hung out a bit. Played some games. Some music and watched a few Beat Bugs. It’s a bit babyish but she is loving The Beatles songs. Every episode features two random Beatles songs. So now she can be heard playing around the house singing Come Together and Lucy in the Skye with Diamonds. Then while she played alone for a while I had a nice catch up chat with Anthony.

Then Skye was off to a birthday party and Kaia was home. We haven’t hung out just the two of us in a while and it felt good to catch up. Erin popped over for a nice visit with Orion and then Kaia and I watched Captain Fantastic. It was a bit slow and over her head, but Kaia was intrigued by their life style and amazed that the kids could swear so freely. I told her that for the time we were alone this afternoon she could swear all she wanted, but she was still a bit timid. We didn’t get to finish it because it was getting late and Mairin and Skye came home. Next time.

Finished the night off with our annual Christmas kick off viewing of Elf.

I did become obsessed with my phone throughout the day. The Trump Taiwan thing was hanging over my head, but I am want to work on getting better at ignoring his every jack ass move, but he is like a drug and I am addicted. It just seems so unbelievable that this is our reality. This is the world now. We all live in a reality TV show.

Read up on the Joe McNight story and was appalled. Researched the stand off in North Dakota and was appalled.

But this was meant to be a happy post about a happy day I spent with my kids. The name Noam Chomsky is now in Kaia’s universe and that makes me smile. I may have stood up a bit too often today, with the shower and making dinner, so my ankle is throbbing, swollen and hurts a bit, but I felt more like a human today than I have in the last week.

December 2, 2016

Pigs At The Trough

“The most effective answer is the most deceptively simple: do not buy in. We are warring for control of reality.”

Saw that on Twitter today. Some thoughts:

We are stuck in a vacuum of lies and propaganda by a system determined to prove that we are not, as a nation, smart enough or determined enough to fight back for what we believe in and value.

The question is what will this resistance look like.

I for one do not think it will be through social media awareness and activism. It will not come by writing letters and calling our representatives, because they are part of the system that allowed us to be in the predicament we are in. They know our anger and frustration. They saw it in our push for Bernie. They saw us suck up our pride and begrudgingly say that we are with her. They can even count the 2.5 million votes that echoed our voices. So I do not think that they need our letters or signed petitions.

Because even if they wanted to help, and I believe there are a few who do, they may, at this point, be powerless to stop what is coming. And what is coming is a tidal wave of crony craziness the likes of which our country has never seen. A massive money grab by the greediest, liars and thieves, who have stacked the system in their favor for generations and now they want to see what the system they built can really do:

Empower corporations beyond their already bloated status. Deregulate all public services that they have made sure are on the brink of failing after year of obstructionist temper tantrums. Give the pigs at the trough the keys to slop and let them fill their own bellies. Privatize the systems, so they can wring out the last of the remaining wealth all for themselves.

Expand the military. Create a police state. Debunk the media and the free press and promote anti-intellectualism. Create a monster and call it “the others” and simplify the complexity of a nation into chants and rallies and reality show demagogues. Rally around the flag and burn and loot and crash the whole shit show down.

Dark? Grim? Cynical? We have seen this in our fiction for years. We saw this in the thirties in Germany. The formula is not new. It is just happening in our back yards now. On our network channels. Within our own families. How do we fight back?

At this time I am not sure. I do know that things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better and this is the battle of our lifetime.

Readers of history know that it takes generations to get to where we are now, and it will take generations to get us back out. We will fight the good fight where and when we can, but it will be a long tough journey, so we need to pace ourselves. This is a marathon.

We fought Nixon and Jim Crow. We fought Reagan and the Bushes. Hell America was built by its fight with the forces of imperialism and greed. This is not a new enemy. We were just lulled into a false sense of comfort as the beast hypnotized us with a fake post-racial America. And now we are ready to face it full on again. The American left is not some fictional beast. It knows the score. Look to its leaders for guidance. We need to build movements that are fighting long term battles for peace and justice, not against one candidate and his one term.

There is no reason to lose hope or become confused. We need to take stock. Focus. Find our allies. Educate ourselves on the movements that have been fighting for generations against the system that has now taken this neo-facist form.

Find where you are passionate and fight that battle in concert with the rest of the movement. Women's rights? Race? Social Justice? Environment? Poverty? We cannot take it all on at once. Find your focus and fight. Fight long and hard. It's the only choice we have.


In other real life news…today was a good healing day for me. Weird how one can feel such dread and fear, but then smile and love life ten minutes later. I had my first visitors today. Was great to see Ian and Paula. I also went out to dinner with the family and had a glass of wine. I felt like a normal person for those last few hours and that is good.

I got tickets to see PJ Harvey and I got some work done. The ankle still hurts and I had some strange dreams in the morning, but everyday I am riding the wave I am sent and hoping for a few good rides. The political stuff is heavy, but I am trying to balance it with the levity of my own life.

Sure we are headed to a neo-fascist America, but the sky was blue, I smiled more today and I am feeling like I am ready to crawl out of this cave. Such is life.

I am blessed and grateful. I could be in the rubble of Allepo or in North Dakota in the freezing cold. Instead, I am in my comfortable home tending to a foolish injury, silently ashamed of my meaningless tirades against the corporate machine that is devouring the world.

December 1, 2016

Fractured And Scattered

“An empty shell seems so easy to crack
Got all these questions don't know who I could even ask
So I'll just lie alone and wait for the dream
Where I'm not ugly and you're looking at me.” Pearl Jam

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. Especially when you are not at your best. Broken bones. Dampened spirit. Heavy funk. The fixes are not easy and they are seldom quick. It can take weeks, sometimes months to get your priorities back in order.

I think I am finally on the edge of moving some things around inside and coming up for air.

It’s hard to tell when this latest tailspin started for me. It is definitely been around for longer that last week’s broken bone. I was talking to my mom today. Telling her about how anxious I am to get back to work, back to my life, back to normal and she asked me if I thought that maybe this broken ankle was the universe’s way of telling me to slow down.

Stop. Think. Reevaluate. I shrugged my shoulders and let her words linger, afraid to think too deeply on them.

I thought back to when I stopped feeling so fantastic. Because at the end of the summer, I was at a peak. I was rested. Excited. Pumping on all cylinders. I had a great time with my family. Saw old friends. Spent time in the trees and great cities and towns. I was on fire. Life was great. So what happened?

My new role started off great and I am still loving it. School has been good. I am not super excited with how I am teaching, but the new responsibilities make up for my early curricular confusion. Work life is solid. Kids give me energy and my peers are as always top notch.

But early on with Karen’s passing, things went a bit off the tracks. That was emotionally taxing. My first real close death and the travel and the stress and the falling behind was a lot. I am not sure I really processed it all as soon as I hit the ground running back in Singapore. I would say that is when it started. All the death this year- Ali, Bowie, Prince. Twinkle.

Then off to Vietnam. A good conference, but I didn’t feel I was great. I was there. I did my thing, but it didn’t feel fresh or new or exciting to me. I felt stale and like I was faking it.

Then I started cheating a lot on my vegan choices and felt terrible about that, and then I think it all came to a boil on November 8th.

Three-way conferences and the election.

I became obsessed with the news and the plight of everyone affected. It felt like the world was going to end. I literally could not look at Trump’s face. I am not sure why this election hit me so hard, but it feels like the forces of darkness and evil are alive in the world. This is beyond politics. This is some cosmic shit. Like we are being swallowed by doom. Like something out of Lord of the Rings. Like everything we cherish and value and love is on trial and the courts are stacked against us. I internalized it all. Add that on to my existing issues that I already mentioned and I was spiraling downward without a way out.

For those of you who have been reading for a while, you know that I was allowing myself to slowly wallow in the downward spiral, toward the end of the year. That was plan. To let myself be gross and sad and just wait out 2016. Not healthy I know, but it felt easy and good and like I somehow deserved it. My second mom died and everything I find vile and repugnant was the president of my country. So I cold eat some McDonalds and feel sorry for myself.

Then I broke my ankle. After the first good day I had had in a while- there I was- skating along feeling the breeze, enjoying the sunset, feeling the concrete below my feet- I was contemplating the change, the rebirth and then I did something stupid: I tried to do more than I knew how to do and I was forced to stop it all.

A week in bed, no work but more anxiety, time to be alone and think, choking on the politics and I was getting worse. January 1st couldn’t come fast enough, but today something changed.

I watched a movie called Gleason about NFL star and ALS survivor and hero Steve Gleason. I cried almost non-stop from start to finish. I can’t say it plainly enough.

This movie will change your life.

There was so much I wanted to say as I watching it, but I am left a little in the blank right now. I still have a few big life changes coming up in January, that I am more and more excited about. I am still working out the details, but I am hoping that these new changes will allow me to refocus my goals on my priorities. To really spend my energy and life force on the things that truly matter to me, instead of scattering myself around too thin. That is a great image- The latter part of 2016 has left me scattered.

And thanks to this movie I feel I am raking up the leaves and ready to start putting some plans into action.

The next couple of weeks will still be about healing. Physically but also mentally. I am a literal metaphor right now of a fracture. School will come to an end and those anxieties will pass. I hope to reconnect with my family and try to celebrate Christmas joy. I am looking forward to seeing my in-laws and spending time with friends. We may or may not go to Thailand, but we will rest and heal and be well again. The future is looking bright.

This shittorm of a year is almost done and for that I am hopeful, but more importantly a new year is on the horizon. I am healthy (ish). I am loved. I am filled with the fire of life and I am tired of being burdened by sadness.

Do yourself a favor and watch Gleason right now! You will not regret it.