Archive for July, 2007

What Would Jack Bauer Do?

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Hello,

Well, next week I am going to have to be a big boy again — I’m all on my own for most of the week. Janette is going to company meetings all week in the Bay Area, and my girls are staying at their grandparents there too. So from the time I drop them off midday Monday, until the time I pick them up Friday afternoon, it will just be me in this big house working working working. It is true that I’m at a point where I have a backload of work to do for my entrepreneurial business, so I suppose it’s a good time for me to have no other responsibilities but work. But I will miss my girls — in fact, this will be the longest time I will have ever been without the three of them.

Not unlike my Hawaii trip a while back, I am going to use this as an opportunity to prove to myself that I still have a life, and am a functional and useful human being, even without my girls. That is probably a lie, but I’m gonna try to live that dream for five days this week. For starters, I have rented the first eight episodes of “24 Season 5″ on Netflix. This is a man’s show if there ever was one.

The Counter Terrorism Unit’s Jack Bauer would never admit to sissy boy loneliness when his family was on vacation, and god damnit, I’m not gonna act lonely either. Jack makes a decision, and then he commits to it with ruthless efficiency without second guessing himself. He saves U.S. citizens and Presidents alike, always sacrificing his own personal fulfillment in the process, without so much as a request for a commendation from the government or its peoples. It’s a trait I’ve always admired in Jack, for four seasons running now.

So I’m gonna be like Jack and not complain about my lot either. Jack, you go experience great personal trauma to save the country, and I’ll hold up my end of the deal by not complaining about my girls being gone, and we’ll meet up every night at 10 PM after work for an episode of Season Five while they’re away. It’s a deal.

There are, of course, things I can do next week that I can’t do with all my chicks around. For example, my friend George (whose wife and two daughters are also out of town) and I swear we’re going to dinner at Hooters in Denver on Wednesday night. Now, knowing George and me, this will probably never happen — we’ll probably just hang around and watch sports on TV, or go see the new Simpsons movie or something instead. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll work up the courage to go out and be lecherous bastards for an evening. I’m rooting for us. I hope it happens. But history indicates it probably won’t.

Would Jack Bauer go to Hooters on Wednesday night? This is the philosophical question that has preoccupied my mind this morning. I can see the pros and cons to Jack going. I will try to glean answers to this question from the episodes I watch Monday and Tuesday nights before making my decision about Wednesday.

I’ll let you know.

Sincerely,

Cory

Sick As A Dog

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Hi,

I’m sick as a dog today. Nasty head cold. The pressure in my ears is absolutely killing me, even drugged up on Advil and Sudafed. So please feel sorry for me. By the way, where did the expression “sick as a dog” come from? I can’t remember many dogs who were sick. And they certainly never whine about it like I just did. This leads via stream-of-consciousness to one of my great insights in life:

If more people were more like dogs, the world would be a better place. Dogs are loving. They love to exercise. They keep in shape. They are honest. They show their joy and their fears without fear of ridicule. They enjoy a fine meal like nobody’s business. And they are potty trainable.

Dogs don’t bitch about their situation in life as much as people do (no pun intended). They know that food, exercise, a strong work ethic, play, interaction with others and love are all that is really necessary in life. So, by all means, hug a dog today. Unless you’re allergic. In that case, find a dog and shower it with praise. It will only vaguely understand your epiphany, but it will humor you anyway — dogs are empathetic and kind that way.

My point is this: In a pinch, if you haven’t read all the parenting books, then just pretend that your kid is a dog, and raise the child thusly, and that kid will probably turn out all right. Don’t get too overwhelmed by all the other details.

It’s funny being a parent and being sick. I try to act all macho and not whine to my kids about it. Then, when the kids go to bed, I instantaneously shed my machismo facade and look for sympathy and hugs from my wife. She is a good woman, that Janette. So here’s a big shout-out to the babe I’ve built my life around: Thanks for the hugs.

Until next time,

Cory

Straight Talk From The Smart Set

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Here is one of my favorite conversations with one of my favorite kids. The names of those involved have been changed in order to protect the guilty…

My kids and I were hanging out with one of our little buddies. Let’s call him Ulysses. We’re at our house playing. Ulysses’ parents are not with us. Out of the blue, Ulysses says to me, as if he is about to unravel the truth about one of the world’s great wonders to me, thrilled that he possesses this wondrous knowledge:

“Hey Cory, you know what? I have to tell you something!”

“Yes, Ulysses, what is it?” I said.

“Cory!”

“Yes.”

“My parents… My parents…” he paused for dramatic effect.

“Yes?” I said.

“BOTH of my parents PICK THEIR NOSE!” he proclaimed proudly.

“Ulysses,” I said, looking him in the eye with great respect for the deeper bond that was just forged between us, “on behalf of both of your parents and myself, I want to thank you for sharing that with me.”

As usual, this incident reminded me of several insights that we tend to forget as adults, particularly in our interactions with other adults. The first is that honesty is cathartic, and kids are far, far more honest than adults. Sure, I know that kids will often exaggerate or lie to cover up mistakes they’ve made or massive gaps in their knowledge. Adults do that too. But kids also really, really want to share personal and private bits of information — you know, the things we try to hide as adults.

Imagine for a moment how much easier your emotional life would be if, instead of hiding your less impressive moments in life, your questionable thoughts, and your emotional baggage, storing it up inside, you just shared it immediately with everybody as you experienced it. If you didn’t fear the consequences of other adults’ reactions, and the thoughts they’d form about you, you’d probably do just that — share them and get them out there, then move onto the next feeling, thought or event in your life. So for one, I am greatful that kids I know feel comfortable sharing information with me — it means they trust I’ll love them anyway.

Ulysses’ mom is one of the few adults I know who often shares whatever is on her mind, even if it does not always paint the most pristinely perfect picture of her — and it’s one of my favorite things about her. It’s like a breath of fresh air in the adult world. Kids do this a lot more than adults.

And on that note, I will take the cue and state for the record, right here and now, that nosepicking is one of the great underrated simple pleasures in life. I tend to only engage in nosepicking in private — so, for example, my kids won’t tell you all about it when they come over to your house — but engage in it on occasion I do. It is less addictive than alcohol and it doesn’t make you drunk, it is easy to clean, it adversely affects nobody as long as you don’t pick so hard that your nose bleeds (my daughter Sidney sometimes does that), and frankly, it clears your nasal passageways for less money than a shot of saline solution. So I would like to invite all readers to pause for a moment to enjoy the enlightened mining of a fine booger nugget right now — but please do wash your hands before you touch the keyboard or mouse again.

The second insight is that kids love the simple joy of sharing experiences and knowledge with friends. When adults (particularly men) share knowledge, it is often in order to impress others with what we know (particularly when we’re sharing it with women). Sure, there’s an element of that with kids — ‘I know something that you don’t know, ain’t I cool?’ But there’s also this fantastic joy of sharing deep and meaningful information with each other. My 2 1/2 year old daughter Riley, for example, loves to share with me all sorts of information, just to make sure we’re on the same experiential page.

“Daddy?” Riley will say.

“Yes, Riley?”

“The man is driving the orange tractor!” Riley will say.

“He is?” I’ll say.

“Yes Daddy, look, the man is driving the orange tractor!”

“He is! That looks really fun,” I’ll say.

Riley will pause to think about this for a moment, then say:

“Daddy?” (She always waits for my response to make sure I’m listening. If I don’t respond, she will repeat: “Daddy?”)

“Yes, baby.”

“That looks really fun for the man to drive the orange tractor.”

And so she has incorporated my thoughts on the subject into her thoughts on the subject, we have shared information, and we are closer. She’s like a wonderful, engaged color commentator on life combined with a very, very active listener. It’s the best of both worlds — giving and receiving in a conversation — and because of this, I love talking to Riley about anything.

And in this way she inspires me to try to be a better person. I try to be like Riley now when I talk to other people, kids or adults. Somebody who really gives and really listens in a conversation. It’s hard for me — and most adults — to remember to be that way. It’s easy for Riley.

Boy do I love her.

Until next time,

Cory