Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Life imitates art

Here is a tour of our apartment's new artwork:

From the front door: ROAR!




It's a Samuel Tarpley original, circa 2005.


Artwork from the covers of "Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!" and "Ten Tiny Toes" are on the side walls. Ethan nixed my idea of baby pictures here, so we had to go with our second choice.



And I had to make room for a couple of Ethan originals:

This one is called "Superhero"...




Quick story behind "Superhero." The character's name is Money Man. His sidekick (not pictured) was called Cash Cow. Their super power was lending people money. I reminded Ethan of that tonight, and he said, "Well, they can't just give it away."

On the opposite wall: "Man With Hotdog."



Ethan was three when he painted this. I love how all the color and detail are in the hot dog. The human figure is basically just there to hold the hot dog.



We put Samuel's "Pollock" in the living room above the TV.



I had an original Frank Lloyd Wright elevation rendering rolled up in a tube in my closet for the past five years just waiting for my wife to leave me so I could frame it and hang it in the living room. I did.



It's not "Man Eating Hotdog," by any means, but it's very cool.


And it looks across the room to my Chrysler Building elevation blueprint, which has been there since 2001.



In the kitchen: Samuel as Jim Morrison. This is from his long-hair phase, when he was probably 10. One day I thought, "He looks like such a hippie. Hey, I have an idea...."



And here's a Samuel original, "Starry Nights."



In my bedroom: yet another Frank Lloyd Wright blueprint above my bed. (Noticing a trend?) It replaced an ugly honey oak mirror that Jen had bought years ago, which looked like it came out of a Peoria retirement home. 


Look at the lines, look at the lines... 


Above my dresser I put two of my favorites photos of my sweet little boys when they were sweet and little. Samuel is on the floor, showing a rare smile. Ethan is a bumble bee marching into battle.


Don't you want to hug them?

Finally, in my bathroom is a photo of three-year-old Ethan attempting to navigate a urinal. 


It's the greatest picture ever. Don't tell him it's on my blog.


I think our work is complete for now.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

More cowbell

The official cowbell from the Golden Cowbell Book Award arrived this week.


It's heavy. I think we can all agree that the Swiss don't skimp on their cowbells.


This is what it looks like on an actual cow.


(Thanks, Bailey, you're a good sport.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Antiques Roadshow

You know how in that show, somebody brings in an interesting piece of art that they bought twenty years ago at a flea market, and it's been sitting in their attic ever since? And the appraiser takes one look at it and says, "What you have here is a Jackson Pollock. It's worth millions of dollars."

Well, the same thing just happened when I was cleaning out the boys' closet:


The amazing thing is that in addition to the Pollock, there was a Picasso:


I've ordered frames for both. The Pollock is going in the hallway; Picasso front and center in the foyer.

The first thing anyone will see when they enter this apartment is the roar of boyhood and the roar of manhood and the roar of the wild rumpus of life, where Samuel and Ethan and I are the kings of all wild things.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thoughts

Item #1 on the Summer 2017 Bucket List has been accomplished.



Samuel, Ethan, Elyse and I went to Dorney Park in Pennsylvania on Saturday. First theme park/water park of 2017. Three of my favorite people. We screamed. We laughed. We got wet. We drank milkshakes. It was a great day.

On the way home we picked up an antique Art Deco mirror that my mom and dad bought online for me.



It's to replace the one that had been in our foyer for nineteen years, which Jen took with her. Here's the old one.



When Samuel and I went to buy wall mounts for the mirror, we learned that Bru, the big Black Lab from the hardware store, had passed away. We loved to pet Bru every time we went there. There were notes from kids covering the entire front window.



It was very touching. I told Samuel I'm not good with love transitions. I'm okay with my own life transitions. I don't mind getting older. But I'm sad knowing that this will probably be Kahlua's last year. I'm happy that the boys are healthy and growing up, but I'm sad knowing that they were once little boys, and you can't stop that river. We will all grow old and die.

I don't like saying goodbye to people that I love. I want the people I love to last forever.

When Einstein was asked to describe the theory of relativity in one sentence, he said, "There is no hitching post in the universe."

Human beings need hitching posts. We need to love and be loved. We need love to bind us to the earth, because if not love, then what else is there to bind us? And the deeper we love, the deeper we believe that it's permanent. And the deeper we give our entire selves to that love, the more we hurt when we're confronted with the fact that it's not permanent.

And yet, the alternative is to never love. That's a horrible alternative.

What can you do? We have to love. We have to have open hearts and move forward. We have to be strong for the people that we have vowed to love forever, because we need to be their hitching posts. We have to keep going to water parks, keep writing rhyming odes to little boys who will keep growing up, keep building those bonds deeper and deeper and deeper until we can't fathom ever living without them, because that's the only choice we have, and that's the only thing that makes life worth living.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a milkshake for a boy.

And behold: our new, big-ass Art Deco mirror.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer bucket list 2017

1. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom. This is the year. This is the weekend. We will not be denied.



2. Central Park Sprinkler Challenge with at least two little kids, not including me and Samuel.



3. Ziplining off the cliffs at Brownstone Park in Connecticut. A must-do.



4. Hiking/climbing the Lemon Squeeze at Mohonk. Haven't done it in a long time.




5. Exploring the ice caves at Sam's Point, upstate. I've read about it, haven't done it, looks good for a one-day trek.



6. Jet skiing in the Hudson/NY harbor. We'll see. It's very expensive, but it looks cool.



7. Waterskiing? This is a maybe. I have no idea where or how much it costs.



8. Finish and submit revisions on two current manuscripts. Write three more manuscripts. And, dammit, write the full treatment for "Noodle Boy," the middle-grade chapter book I've promised I'd write for the past eight years. This is the summer.

That's probably enough to fill a summer. I can easily be enticed by a beach or water park. Karaoke? Why not. Invite me, I'm there.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

breathe

For those who have asked, or didn't ask but read between the lines, yes, Jen and I separated.

I've hesitated to say it explicitly, maybe because I felt it was a personal thing that I shouldn't mention on my blog, but mostly I think because I didn't want it to be true.

It happened, and I have to take a breath and figure out what's next.

Jen and I were together for 28 years. We met at the University of Iowa in the summer of 1988. She had a boyfriend, so our first date wasn't until December. We kissed in her car, and it was freezing and we were both shivering and it was the best kiss of my life. Twenty months later we were married. If you want to read our love story, it's intertwined in my blog about wrestling at Iowa: link here

We had a good marriage. We loved each other. We seldom fought. We had two wonderful children. We said I love you. We called each other Sweetheart. We held hands and slept in the same bed, and cuddled, until very near the end.

When it happened it happened quickly, like a tree must feel when it is hit by lightning.

I still love her and probably will always love her, because those things don't go away easily for me. I'm attached to very few people, but I'm deeply attached to the people I'm attached to. It will take a long time to detach. That's just who I am.

My family has been wonderful. Samuel and Ethan have been wonderful. Ethan, who at sixteen must absolutely hate to hug me, has hugged me with such sincerity that it has made me sob. That's the mark of a good hug. 

People say, "Trust me, this is the best thing that ever happened to you, you'll see. There are so many great women in New York looking for a great man. Someone will snatch you up. If you wanted to have another baby you could probably find someone to have another baby with."

I say, "I thought of that way before you said it."

Trust me, this is not the best thing that ever happened to me. There's no upside that can mitigate the downside. I don't wish it on anyone.

But yes, I would have another baby if given the opportunity. I would like to love again. I would like to bring more love into the world.

I'm not ready to go quietly into the night.

And I don't want to be that 65-year-old guy on Tinder.

Right now? I'm still slowly getting up off the ground from being hit by the semi.

I'll be okay. (Brushes off the dirt and blood from the broken limbs protruding through his tattered clothing.) Just a few scratches. I'll be fine.