What do you mean?

Eric Rose

[…] The room is dark,
and the light is on her (Dr. Wendy Fried’s) face.
I see her eyes, moving around,
like she’s panicking.
I felt the blood draining out of my face.
My lips got cold.
“I’m so sorry, Eleni,” she said. […]
I barely got my words out, asking,
“What do you mean?”
She came over and she held my hand. […]

~ Eleni Michailidis

Read entire article here: A Silent Delivery Room


Photography: Eric Rose

In zealous agreement

Fathers-Day-daughter-son-parent

Scott Addington writes, “As is often the case, my purpose became clearly evident after I had stopped looking for it. On October 11, 1995, my daughter was born. Beginning with that moment, there has never been the slightest doubt regarding the purpose and source of meaning in my life. Being a father is the most meaningful and rewarding pursuit a man could ever hope to experience.”

~ David Brooks, Hearts Broken Open


Photo: wilstar

Riding Metro-North. Day 1 for (My) Workin’ Man.

eric-tie-striped-son-work

Thursday morning.
We’re on the 8:01 a.m. train to Grand Central.
Eric is seated across from me.
His head is leaning against the window.
His eyes are closed.
His body is swaying with the slow turns of the track.

I look. I take a long look. And I’m rolling back 17 years.

He’s clutching his Mother’s right hand, scooching to keep up, his oversized blue backpack bounces up and down.  Mom let’s go of his hand.  He looks back.  His lower lip is quivering. His arm reaches back for his Mother while his Kindergarten teacher welcomes him into the building.

Blink.

And so, here we are. Father and Son are commuting to Manhattan. Day 1 of Son’s first paying job.

I take inventory. From bottom up.

He’s wearing his Dad’s hand-me-down black, plain-toe oxford shoes.  45 minutes earlier he asks: “Do I need to polish my shoes?”  College student with a 3.95 GPA is looking down at the dust and scuff marks.  He doesn’t bother looking at Dad. 21 years of co-habitation and 21 years of absorbing sharp nips and tucks of Patriarchal coaching, instinct tells him that it’s a bad decision. Dad grabs the shoes and cleans them up. “Can I borrow your socks Dad.” “Take what you need.” [Read more…]

It’s the alpha female who really runs the show

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Excerpts from “Tapping Your Inner Wolf” by Carl Safina:

[…] If you watch wolves, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that perhaps no two species are more alike behaviorally than wolves and humans. Living as we do in families, we can easily recognize the social structures and status quests in wolf packs. No wonder Native Americans recognized in wolves a sibling spirit.

The similarities between male wolves and male humans can be quite striking. Males of very few other species help procure food year-round for the entire family, assist in raising their young to full maturity and defend their packs year-round against others of their species who threaten their safety. Male wolves appear to stick more with that program than their human counterparts do.

Biologists used to consider the alpha male the undisputed boss. But now they recognize two hierarchies at work in wolf packs — one for the males, the other for the females.

Doug Smith, the biologist who is the project leader for the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project, said the females “do most of the decision making” for the pack, including where to travel, when to rest and when to hunt. The matriarch’s personality can set the tone for the whole pack, Dr. Smith said.

Or, as Mr. McIntyre put it: “It’s the alpha female who really runs the show.”

Clearly, our alpha male stereotype could use a corrective makeover. Men can learn a thing or two from real wolves: less snarl, more quiet confidence, leading by example, faithful devotion in the care and defense of families, respect for females and a sharing of responsibilities. That’s really what wolfing up should mean.

Carl Safina is the founder of the Safina Center on nature at Stony Brook University and the author of the forthcoming book “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel.”


Photography: FragileHeartxxx

Riding Uptown. Solo.

New York City, United States - May 12, 2012: Heavy traffic on busy 8th Avenue in Ney York City, USA in morning. Vast number of vehicles hit the streets and avenues of Manhattan every day. Almost half of cars are yellow taxis (well recognized city icon). Taxis are operated by private companies, licensed by the NYC Taxi Commission.

May 28th. Days short of June, yet solar heaters are blowing. 84° F, and steamy.

Sidewalks are teeming with tourists.

Mid afternoon Manhattan traffic is locked bumper to bumper, snaking up Sixth Avenue.

I skipped breakfast, had a meager lunch, and I’m longing for a sugar fix. Chocolate. Now.

Waze estimates 25  min to get uptown to the office.

My Thumbs are on the keyboard.

Should it be ‘Hi’ or ‘Hi!’?  I’m not feeling ‘Hi!’ I’m not a ‘Hi!’ type. I’m more like a “Hello” or a “Hi” guy. Or maybe it’s ‘hi’.  “hi’ makes me approachable, less prickly.  Yet, it’s hard to alter the brand, callus layered on callus. ‘Hi!’ would be inauthentic or soft, and both just won’t do. Dad’s the tough guy. There’s an image to uphold. A Brand to burnish.

DK: hi
RK: Hi!

Would have preferred ‘Hi Daddy!’ But ! is good. She’s happy to hear from me.

DK: I’ll be in your building in 30 min. I’ll buy you coffee.  Me, a warm chocolate chip cookie.
RK: Can’t Dad. I’m in the middle of something.

[Read more…]

A chasing after wind, indeed.

Paul-kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi, MD, was a Stanford neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with lung cancer in his mid-30s. Here’s an excerpt:

[…] Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed. […]

That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

~ Paul Kalanithi, Stanford University neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, died on March 9, 2015 at the age of 37

Don’t miss the entire article in the Washington Post: Before I Go: A Stanford neurosurgeon’s parting wisdom about life and time


Thank you Elizabeth.

Cat’s Left the Cradle 2

hair-long-man

WEDNESDAY. 9:30 PM.
Medium: FaceTime.
600 miles away, Son sits in his dorm room.
(Technology. A Miracle)

Eric: Hi Dad.
Dad: Hi Eric.
Dad: When’s your interview?
Eric: Friday at 8 am.

Dad adjusts his grip on the iPad to get a better look at Son.

Eric: What are you doing?
Dad: Take your cap off.
Eric: Why?
Dad: Take it off.
Eric: Why? (Here he comes. Here he comes.)
Dad: I’m only going to ask you one more time. [Read more…]

TT*: “This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

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I watched the whole performance from a tiny table by the window. We’d done our business at the bank and now we each had big piece of chocolate layer cake, thick with icing. It was yellow cake. I don’t know how they got it yellow but they did and the yellow was beautiful against the warm brown frosting. We loved that chocolate cake. This was a good day, a really good day, and I knew what was coming next. My father stared for a long while out the window, at what, I don’t know, but I waited, waited for his famous phrase, sure it would come, and when his reverie broke and he returned to the bakery and our little table, he smiled at me, then looked down at his cake, and there it was, sure as rain.

“This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, This is Living. Loitering: New and Collected Essays


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Add a Pinch

And your answer is?

matthew-burke

Lesley Stahl: I know a psychiatrist who says the most important question she asks somebody is, “When you were growing up, who loved you?” Do you have an answer?

Matthew Burke: That’s very difficult to answer– who loved me– because there’s different types of love.

Lesley Stahl: Uncondition. I mean–

Matthew Burke: Yeah, unconditional–

Lesley Stahl: That’s what I mean.

Matthew Burke: I’ve never– I’ve never experienced that.

Lesley Stahl: So you– you have no answer for that question.

Matthew Burke: I have no answer. To this day I have no answer to that.

~ Lesley Stahl, Alive and Kickin’, 60 Minutes


If you missed last night’s episode of 60 Minutes, you can find it here at CBS: Alive and Kickin’.  There are many great human interest stories in this segment but I was particularly moved by Matthew Burke’s story (which comes on at 11 min 45 sec of this video).  He was abandoned two and half weeks after birth in a hallway.  Mother and Father unknown.


No Trade.

beach-walk

They were walking up the shoreline, Brother and Sister now in their early 20’s. The waves were lapping at their feet, their feet disappearing in sea foam before the waves rolled back into the ocean.

I’m wading through Herzog’s book, now 60% of the way through. My headphones are piping in a Nils Frahm playlist from his album “Felt“. I set the book down to watch them.

Rachel is doing a handstand on the beach while Eric is taking photos. I can see them laughing as she tries it again. They are Friends. All those years of fighting, squabbling and picking on each other in the back seat of the car…All those corrections by Mom and Dad to keep it civil…look at them, they’ve become Friends.

Just as they pass below me, as if on cue, the late afternoon sun streams through the clouds. A warm breeze gusts. And two Pelicans skim the ocean, gliding along with the wind currents.

Herzog said that “Today I would give ten years of my life if I could play the cello with the same ease as breathing. The finest music has a quality of consolation you find nowhere else, with perhaps the exception of religion or being in contact with small children.” 

I glance down at the playlist to see the title of Frahm’s track. It is titled “Less.”

I paused to contemplate Frahm’s tune and Herzog’s words.

Frahm got it half right. “Felt” yes. “Less” no.

As to Werner, I Iove the Cello, but I wouldn’t trade a single moment.

Not one.