Thursday, July 12, 2012

keeping me grounded.

our nightly routine has been the same since f was tiny. dinner, bath, brush teeth, read books, sing songs, go to sleep. over the years it's become comforting, i think, the knowing what's next and how close we are to lights out. sometimes the best conversations we've had all day happen as i'm tucking her in. sometimes we reconnect if we've been at odds. sometimes she asks me profound 5 year old questions that give me a chance to open my mind to what's going on in hers. sometimes she sings to me, or talks about people we love who have died, or says her own little version of a prayer for, say, her great-grandma or the baby lizard we found squashed outside our back door.

tonight was not one of those times.

when she picked her books, i was tickled that she chose a walt whitman poetry collection along with mother goose and 'where the wild things are'. she brought them over, and we started with mother goose, and i was trying not to do anything that would somehow alter her book-vibes and change her mind about the walt whitman. i read the poems with funny voices like she likes, i read a few more when she asked, i was doing everything in my power not to rock the boat so that we might, in fact, actually get to the whitman poems before she changed her mind. she wanted 'where the wild things are' next, so i obliged. so far, so good. and when that ended, i nonchalantly opened the walt whitman book.

me: "ahem. let's see. aha! 'song of myself, 1 and 2'."

and i began, just stupid over-the-moon that my 5 year old was actually going to listen to some walt whitman. having been an english lit major and a lifelong bibliophile, i was nerding-out. my girl! she's going to be so smart and she's going to love this and all the while, i was trying to keep my cool and not disturb the course of whatever planets have aligned that created the vibes that had led to this giant pile of awesome. so.

"i celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

i loafe (f, that means relax. loafe means to relax) and invite my soul, i lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

my tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,"

(holy cats, she is still listening! clearly she is brilliant. best day ever.)

"i, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, hoping to cease not till death."

and i paused for a minute, just to see if she had any questions or input, and inwardly high-fived myself, just ridiculously stoked that our little girl was DOWN WITH WHITMAN. deep breaths.

i continued: "creeds and schools in abeyance, retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, i harbor for good or b---"

"MOM!! MOM! LOOK." her face was lit up. "LOOOOOK!"

i'd been so caught up in the moment, savoring each word and trying to fully soak in how precious this moment was, how truly monumental, that i hadn't noticed what she was doing. so i did, i looked. laying on her belly, f had pulled up her nightgown and hiked her cinderella panties as high up as they would go into a serious self-inflicted wedgie.


the "full-noon trill," indeed. more like the full-moon trill. pretty sure you could hear my bubble bursting for miles around. i cracked up, though. i couldn't help it. it was a pretty impressive wedgie.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

caine's arcade.

not too long ago, i watched a video called "caine's arcade" while i was playing an extra long smashing pumpkins song at work. i loved it and thought caine was a pretty awesome little fella, and nirvan was not only a good guy but a good filmmaker too. it is so huge that caine's college education is essentially paid for, thanks to the video going viral, nirvan creating a scholarship fund, and all the support and donations from all over the world. i showed f the video and her immediate response was, "can we go?"

so we did.

we were at my mom's house in the l.a. area for the weekend not too long ago, so we got the directions, checked the hours on facebook, and headed to boyle heights for some hot hot gaming action. it was great! f loved it, the volunteers were charming and funny with all the kids, they really did push the tickets out of the slots caine cut for them at the bottom of each box, and she scored a pretty sweet pink top that lights up when you spin it fast enough. we also got to hang out with caine - he showed f and my mom how to work the air hockey game, and he taught f how to use "the claw" game he'd made (which frustrated f to no end, she just couldn't quite make it work, but that was ok).

that's caine in the turquoise shirt, fixing a game

we each bought a fun pass and we each had way more than $2.00 worth of fun at caine's arcade. afterward we had scrumptious cochinita pibil tacos and hit the free california science center (the same one we grew up calling 'the museum of science and industry'). it was a great day. i don't care what anybody says: i love los angeles.

Friday, April 6, 2012

mary ellen mark's "prom"

i l-o-v-e this sooooo much. these kids are brave and sweet and awkward and beautiful, all of them, like newborn giraffes. i wish i could go back in time, hug my teenage self and tell her to relax, enjoy, & embrace her wakilana self rather than try so hard to be something else. teenagers are rad.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

good news / bad news

the good:

f continues to thrill me to no end with her awesome thoughts and comments. while i've been told not to worry, it still bums me out a little bit that she's already talking about having a "boyfriend" named james. but she says the greatest stuff about him, like "mom, he's a true hero!" and when telling me about how well they get along, she said "you know, we keep in touch. it's good."

she still calls breakfast "breakfisk," calls it "hide and bo seek" and says "on your march, get set, GO!"

and when meeting a friend of mine for the first time a few weeks ago, the first thing she said to him was, "last night? my dad TOOTED." awesome.

also: she only needs one surgery.

the bad:

on april 12th, she has to undergo a two-hour surgery to patch both ear drums. the left should be pretty simple but the right requires "harvesting muscle fascia from behind the ear" and yuck yuck yuck, you lost me at "harvesting." it's killing me so i'm just trying not to think about it too much right now. we have the first surgery of the day, so that's good. and if all goes according to plan, her hearing will get back to normal in her right ear, and we'll be able to restart swim lessons and teach her to surf without any ear plugs. the recovery means an entire week out of school; coachella is going to be a welcome break after all the stress.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a private love.

over the weekend, f told me she has a boyfriend and his name is james. i cringed, of course, because really? does it start this young? where is she picking that up from? ugh. but anyhow. the best part was, as i tried to just listen instead of saying something like, "honey, you can have a boyfriend when you're old enough to vote... maybe," she told me that theirs is "a private love. our hearts are connected."

has she been sneaking my sade CD when i'm not around?

in other news, something's up with her right ear and we are on our way to see the surgeon who has done her last 2 ear tube surgeries at children's this afternoon. her right ear drum perforated about a year and a half ago, and instead of healing the little hole on it's own, the hole/perforation stayed open and scarred. it was so big for a while that when they went in to do the second ear tube surgery, they couldn't put one in on that side because it would have just slipped through the hole. "nature's ear tube," they called it. which was all fine and good, except it still has not healed, and after having yet another ear infection a few weeks ago, her pediatrician said: "stop swim lessons immediately and get another appointment at children's." so we did, and that appointment is today, and it's a good thing, because her 5 year check-up just happened to be two days ago, and the hearing test she took there did not go well. it was quite surreal watching the nurse crank up the "beep" volume again and again and when f kept insisting she wasn't hearing anything, the nurse incredulously said, "REALLY?" and when it was over, told me her hearing in her right ear is "weak" and "compromised."

so there's that. the good news is, we'll learn more today, and we'll go from there. we better be able to fix it. and if not, as the fellas in spinal tap say, we can always turn it up to 11.

Monday, January 16, 2012


i'll put it right out there: i'm a late adopter when it comes to technology. always have been. i carried an ancient cell phone for so long that one day my friend asked me if it was my cordless; it was that huge. and i held out on the iPhone when it seemed like everyone else had one, but last april i finally went there, and of course now i'm totally in love with it. i almost immediately put it to good use at last year's coachella, taking pictures and tweeting and facebooking like crazy. it was awesome to be able to tweet from the radio station's account and give our listeners a look at what was happening when the mics were off and i felt like kicking myself for not having gotten one sooner.

lately, though, there is a new reason why i dig my friend the iPhone so much: f has taught herself how to take pictures with it, and it's her new favorite hobby. she even figured out the hipstamatic app, lil' hipster. i love looking at the pictures with her after the fact, and her taking pictures is more awesome for both of us than 99% of the kiddie apps i've downloaded, i'm telling you. if i have to hear the tinny, casio-powered music loop that goes with that one spelling game one more time, i might punch a panda in the nards.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

a lowlight, or how not to interview your favorite band

last saturday night was my radio station's annual holiday concert. one of my favorite bands was headlining, and something really embarrassing happened to me while i was interviewing them.

it feels weird to type this, but i've been on the air in one form or another for almost 20 years. yikes. i started at age 19, hosting a noise/punk/metal show on kuci, my college radio station, and it's all i've ever done since (aside from a couple college internships at record labels and a short stint teaching rock climbing) (really). over the years, i've interviewed some bands who i loved to bits and some bands that i could care less about, and i've experienced the full range of situations. interviews like with will from arcade fire, or wayne coyne, ben harper or beck or gwen stefani where, when it's over, i love and admire the musician even more; i've done interviews that i've had to cut off abruptly thanks to interviewees dropping f-bombs (i'm looking at you, lars from rancid) and interviews where the person in question is someone whose music i have LOVED but i left the interview deflated, if not disgusted (ahem, anthony kiedis. such a bummer. made out with his girlfriend-du-jour the whole time, was rude, let any attempt at banter fall totally flat, and was plain unfriendly). i've prepared for days for interviews with people who intimidate me (omar rodriguez-lopez) yet have pulled them off fairly well, and i've done some off the cuff ones when they were thrown in the mix at the last second (a.c. newman, interpol) and made it through. but i have never, ever, ever done what i did last saturday night: have my mind go completely blank in the middle of an interview, so blank that i felt like i'd forgotten how to speak, so blank that it physically felt like my brain had hit a wall, hard. so blank, my brain hurt for a minute and i started sweating. and it was right in the middle of an interview with one of my favorite bands ever, my morning jacket. sheesh.

i knew a few days in advance that i'd be interviewing jim james from the band, so i'd been brainstorming questions, visualizing how it would flow, listening to older my morning jacket records that maybe i hadn't heard in a while. i jotted down ideas and a rough outline of a potential interview. i made notes in the margins. i read other interviews he had done. i cranked their new album as i drove to the venue on the day of the show. i was nervous, because, dude! it's my morning jacket!! they are so rad! but i almost always get nervous when i have a ton of interviews to do, so i just tried to squash the nerves and get excited for the broadcast.

i started the afternoon by interviewing two door cinema club, and they were great - easy going, talkative, polite, interesting - about the best you could hope for. then matt and kim came by, and i loved them; they are funny, open, friendly, silly, you name it. i was easing into the broadcast and aside from it being about 50 degrees where we were set up, everything was a-ok. it was awesome watching the bands soundcheck, and when my morning jacket soundchecked with "victory dance," i stood there with my mouth hanging open, blown away by how great they sounded and thanking my lucky stars that i was able to witness them soundchecking to an almost empty arena. wow. and now that i think about it, maybe that's what i did wrong: watching their soundcheck reminded me of how flipping AMAZING they are live. it gave me goosebumps! i think i set myself up for trouble. because when jim and carl sat down for the interview, and jim had this open, friendly smile and looked me right in the eyes - i just kinda lost all my sense. i remember starting with a question about their live show, and i remember jim answering it, and then: it was like i fell into a black hole of blankness. i was just looking into jim's eyes thinking, "oh my god, YOU ARE SO AWESOME, like, you are a musical GENIUS and you have such a GIFT and thank you for sharing your radness with us peons!" but on the outside, i said, "uh... and, um... uhhh..." - just stammered uncomfortably for about 20 seconds. and then: nothing, for about another 10 incredibly uncomfortable seconds as everyone waited to see if my head would in fact explode or i would be able to save the interview with another question. but i wasn't, and it totally flipping sucked. i was paralyzed! i looked over desperately at my boss garett and halle-friggin-lujah, he saved the day with a question about their recent grammy nomination. YES, I DID THAT ALL RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY BOSS. right next to him, actually. GAH.

i remember feeling horrified and embarrassed. my ears were ringing, my heart was racing, and sweat literally popped out of my pores - i'm surprised i didn't rain sweat on poor jim and carl. i was frozen and had trouble following their conversation. and i remember simultaneously thinking "THANK GOD GARETT IS HERE" and "WTF? this has got to be either a stroke or a flashback. SERIOUSLY, WTF??"

a few deep breaths later, i was able to somewhat regain my composure, and i even had a chance to make fun of myself mid-interview - jim james even fist-bumped me, bless his big kentucky heart - and i ended up asking about 50% of the questions i had prepared. but i never fully recovered, and in fact, i could not stop thinking about it for the rest of the night. i was able to apologize to jim and carl afterward and they were sweet and acted like it was no big deal, but DUDE. imagine one of your favorite, extremely talented celebrities, someone you respect and admire, someone whose work you have pored over and enjoyed immensely and whose performances you have paid good money for good seats at, someone who all of your good friends love and admire too. and now imagine totally blowing it with a giant stuttering brain fart when given a chance to talk to them. now throw in the fact that a few tens of thousands of people were listening as you did that. holy crap, right?

i think one of the biggest gifts of parenting is you don't even have time to really worry about your own petty bullshit much at all once there is a kid in the picture. so i did get over it pretty quick, about the time i got home and kissed my girl while she sawed logs in her little twin bed. i hardly even have time to look in the mirror most mornings before we leave the house, let alone worry about making a big radio ass out of myself in front of a band i love and respect and all the listeners too. ahhh well, you know? i'll be alright.

i just may never be able to listen to a my morning jacket record in the same way again, dagnabbit.