Friday, June 21, 2019


You know what? I'm not even going to caption these photos. You get the gist. It was great to be with so many family members, great to enjoy the sunshine (and fog) of southern California, and great to create some special memories with our new nuclear family.

Here's to California!

Friday, June 7, 2019

3 Things About Ethan That The Goverment Doesn't Want You to Know

1. He has made his college choice. He will attend Centre College, a small liberal arts college in Danville, Kentucky. It's a bold choice, most notably because it will be such a radical change from the Upper West Side.

62.5% of Kentuckians voted for Trump. I'd like to say that I don't disparage the entire state of Kentucky for that, but I kind of do. It's less in anger than condescending pity, like when your grandmother gets phished by someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince. You just shake your head and sigh. That's how I feel about the state of Kentucky.

But it was also a bold choice for Centre College to admit Ethan. So kudos to everyone involved. Life should be about stretching one's boundaries.

2. He just completed his semester-long senior project, which consisted of writing an entire 120,000-word novel. He was cranking out ten pages a day for the past three months (does that add up? I'm not going to check). He says the goal wasn't to write a great novel, but simply to write 120,000 words. 

I'm inching along with my own novel, and he blew by me like a '79 Firebird Formula overtaking a '76 Gremlin.

In short, I'm very impressed.

Here he is with his project advisor, after his presentation this week:

3. As of next Wednesday he will be a high school graduate. Which means Jo and I will have no more household members enrolled in the K-12 school system. Which means we need to get more in the pipeline. Pronto. 

But I digress.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Novel update

As you may recall, it's called Imagine, Arizona, about a community that's self-exiled from the post-1980 world.

Three chapters are done plus the outlines for most of the remainder. I was writing some dialogue last night for a chapter in which Julia, the main character, visits her mom's grave in the local cemetery. Jo was sitting next to me while I was typing away, and all of a sudden she saw tears running down my cheek and said, "What's wrong?"

I sniffled and said, "This is going to be a good chapter."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book update

Whiskey informs me that the "F&Gs" for Naughty Ninja Takes a Bath have arrived from the publisher. That's the entire book minus the cardboard covers that are added in the final step of the process. Whiskey adds that the cover is delicious. Publication date is October.

Three Grumpy Trucks was selected for the International Literacy Association's Children's Choice 2019 Reading List. The list of 100 picture books was voted on by 12,500 kids. This is my first book to make the list.

Bailey celebrated by showing Whiskey how to roll in the clover in Central Park.

Monday, April 29, 2019

6 things I learned this week

1. James Taylor still has his voice at age 71.

2. Frankie Avalon still has his voice at age 78. Not quite as inspiring as James Taylor, but my mom enjoyed it. And it marked the fifth straight concert for me and Jo where the performer was over 70 (Doo-Wop Show, Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Frankie Avalon). 

3. My nephew Nick Tarpley is the real deal at age 23. He placed 5th at Greco Wrestling Nationals this weekend--the reason we were in Vegas.

4. The Nomad Hotel in Vegas is nice. It's modeled after the Nomad in New York, where we had our wedding reception. So of course we stayed there. And of course we used the tub.

5. I'm blessed to be a part of a great family. I knew this already.

6. I'm blessed to share my life with this beautiful girl, who would rather rent a car and go on an adventure than waste a sunny day in a casino. I knew this already too. But confirmation is always good.

It's been a fun week. We're happy to be back home in boring old New York City.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thoughts on Ethan and college and toddlers and fatherhood

I took Ethan on a college visit to Binghamton this week. We got to spend a lot of time together.

He's a smart boy, and he's thoughtful, and rational, and funny, and irreverent, and he has a good heart. You never stop worrying about your kids, but he's going to be okay. I didn't screw him up too badly.

Ethan's primary college decision seems to be big school closer to home vs. little school in the middle of nowhere. Either will be good for him. I do worry about him getting lonely at a small school in the middle of nowhere. I worry about the culture shock, not being able to walk to the deli at 2 AM to get bacon. The evil midwest, where dinner ends at 7.

In other news, the cover of my new book is out. 

The book comes out in October. So we're in that home stretch where the cover comes out, then it shows up on Amazon, then maybe an advance review, etc. It's a very good book, I'm proud of it, and it just reminds me how lucky I am to be a picture book author. Other than fatherhood it's the one thing I've done that most accurately reflects who I am. I've never gotten the same thrill from working at a "real" job--never the same sense of identity. I don't want to be remembered as a media exec. I want to be remembered as a husband and a dad and a picture book author.

A few days ago I stopped by storytime at the book store on Columbus (just long enough that no one was freaked out by the middle-aged man at storytime). I love toddlers. I love the bond between parent and child. I love that being a parent is the most important thing in the universe, and all those parents at storytime are kindred spirits, because they know it too. Being around toddlers makes you think, "The world is actually pretty good."

Yesterday on the way back from Binghamton Ethan and I decided to stop for a bathroom break, and we were near Great Wolf Lodge. It would've been faster just to stop at a gas station, obviously. But I hadn't been there in years, and...I am me, after all.

We walked down to the indoor waterpark entrance, and as soon as we opened the doors there was this familiar smell of water and chlorine and humidity, and we both immediately smiled. Ethan said, "Mmm, I love that smell!" I said, "Me, too, isn't it great?"

It's like fatherhood. I will never get tired of it.