Another Year Trapped in Amber

I was try­ing to find the right way to describe how 2021 felt and then I read this:

For Niko­las Tsamouta­l­idis, an assis­tant prin­ci­pal, the most vivid image of the post-pan­dem­ic stu­dent body was at lunch this year, when he saw ninth graders — whose last full year in school was sev­enth grade — prepar­ing to play “Duck, Duck, Goose.” “It’s like fifth or sixth graders,” he said, “but in big bodies.”

New York Times

There was a meme float­ing around Face­book this year that went direct­ly to the heart of this, name­ly, that the last “nor­mal” year for a 7th grad­er was 4th grade so the above hit me hard. I cer­tain­ly see it first­hand with my own kids, but rec­og­nize how adults have been impact­ed, too.

At the out­set of the pan­dem­ic, we quick­ly make some risk assess­ments around our pod. They weren’t per­fect; in fact it was com­plete­ly porous, but pared down nev­er­the­less. Our core group was real­ly three fam­i­lies. It has­n’t changed much since. We vis­it­ed Michi­gan twice this year and it was like step­ping back into our social lives.

At the out­set of the pan­dem­ic, it tru­ly felt like an oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­plete­ly reimag­ine our­selves and how we live our lives. It’s felt more like try­ing to get tooth­paste back into the tube, espe­cial­ly as new vari­ants emerge and dis­rupt our lives again and again. How can we as a soci­ety real­is­ti­cal­ly address these challenges?

2020: An Update

Ok, so like usu­al I promised to write more and haven’t. Like every­one, 2020 has been a year. So, with that in mind, I want­ed to drop in for a quick update before I lost track of time yet again.

Let’s revis­it the Before Times briefly.:

I start­ed a new job in March! Yes, after being in the free­lance wilder­ness for the bet­ter part of two years, I land­ed a full-time role lead­ing full-stack social. I know it is gross to say things like “full stack” but there’s not real­ly a bet­ter way to describe what I do. It’s some­thing I’ve want­ed for a long time and being across organ­ic and paid makes a huge dif­fer­ence in how I approach the work.

Thus con­cludes the Before Times por­tion of this post.

I walked across the hall on March 12th to let my boss know I’d be leav­ing work that after­noon to dri­ve home. The kids were going to be home from school as every­thing got fig­ured out. I fig­ured it would be a few weeks. Boy, was I wrong!

Did I men­tion the new job meant we need­ed to get the house on the mar­ket? Did I men­tion that Michi­gan real estate effec­tive­ly closed and didn’t reopen until May? Are you famil­iar with mar­ket dynam­ics on metro Detroit in a down­turn? Let’s just say it was a wild sum­mer where we weren’t real­ly sure we were mov­ing until our things were loaded on the truck.

A quick note on Detroit: we miss it. I am writ­ing an ode to the city and our friends there in a lat­er installment.

The boys? They’ve been hero­ic. Imag­ine your own kids (if you have some) and then remote school them, shut down their sports AND then move 600 miles from the only place they’ve real­ly known as home. It’s a work­out to say the very least. I’m insane­ly proud of them for being so brave, but it hurts.

Us adults? Well, it’s fun­ny to be back and not quite home. Mov­ing to Detroit was prob­a­bly the hard­est thing we’ve ever done; Char­lie was in kinder­garten, Archie was an infant, we had no sup­port net­work. Spend near­ly six years in a place with school-aged kids and every­thing changes. We unex­pect­ed­ly made dear friends quick­er than we imag­ined and now we’ve been cast back east in a pan­dem­ic. It makes the work days seem much longer.

It’s hard to rec­on­cile the very real life, adult aspects of a move that’s pro­fes­sion­al­ly right for both of us, but social­ly very dif­fi­cult. We’ll fig­ure it out, all of us, but it’s going to take some time. For now, we’re hap­py to have our health and jobs intact. Like every­one, we’re tak­ing it a day at a time.

Dressing Well for the World Wide Web

2012 was a mon­u­men­tal year for me, both per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly. One of the things that was trans­for­ma­tive for me was learn­ing to dress well after sev­er­al false starts. If you know me, you know I came from a world of rock tees and torn jeans. Like many guys, the tran­si­tion to work wear was painful. I strug­gled with ill-fit­ting busi­ness casu­al, wore bad shoes and only got it right if I picked the wardrobe out with help from my wife. Jesse Thorn’s Put This On changed all of that for me in 2012.

I don’t remem­ber when exact­ly I start­ed watch­ing and fol­low­ing Put This On. I devoured Sea­son 1 and have been fol­low­ing Sea­son 2 with great inter­est. I even bought a Sav­ile Row suit on eBay and had it tai­lored for me! Quite a leap for a guy who used to wear a torn (and awe­some) Son­ic Youth “Sis­ter” tee to the office on a rou­tine basis.

Need­less to say, the series changed the way I viewed menswear. The mes­sage that clothes are impor­tant nev­er sank in until I start­ed to see that you did­n’t need to spend a for­tune to present your­self in a man­ner that makes you stand out. Just know­ing how shirts, pants and jack­ets should fit goes a long way toward look­ing bet­ter and project confidence. The best part? I already had lots of great pieces hang­ing in my clos­et! You may, too.

As my col­lege bud­dy Tom told me once, “There’s no such thing as being over­dressed; there’s only look­ing good.” It was great advice, and I’m sor­ry I wait­ed so long to take it. Please take this advice: if you’re a guy who wants to improve his wardrobe and does­n’t know where to begin, please vis­it, watch all the videos and read it every day. You’ll be glad you did.

I Went to the Gym

Not earth-shat­ter­ing news by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, but for this dad, a major step toward get­ting back in shape after an ardu­ous two-year hiatus.

Now that Char­lie’s sleep­ing more nor­mal­ly, I’ve decid­ed to hit the gym three times per week in the evenings. I’m not quite ready to give up the addi­tion­al sleep that I just recov­ered, so I’ll hold off on wak­ing up ear­ly to run for the time being.

Feels great to be back in the gym, even if I feel like a stranger there. I kept try­ing to remem­ber my reg­i­men from, um, sopho­more year of col­lege to no avail. If you have rec­om­men­da­tions of a decent work­out pro­gram, be in touch!

Charlie Turned Two!

What a won­der­ful par­ty in the park! Feels like it was only yes­ter­day that he turned one: the But­ter­cream cup­cake truck; a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er; tons of friends and fam­i­ly and a hot day on Lemon Hill for a very excit­ed (and sleepy) one-year-old boy. Now he’s two and the changes are so dra­mat­ic it’s hard to keep up. He’s pick­ing up more lan­guage every day, express­ing him­self more ver­bal­ly than phys­i­cal­ly, which is a relief for all per­sons in his vicin­i­ty, espe­cial­ly house pets.

It was so great to see Mark and Erin out with Ele­na at almost two weeks and to see Arman­do and Rebec­ca with Lily when they were just hours from being par­ents again. Wel­come Rio! Char­lie was thrilled as ever to see his aunt Eileen and her pup­py Jax as well as his “Damma” and Grand­pa, not to men­tion my mom, who man­aged not to get too lost in Straw­ber­ry Man­sion before find­ing us on Lemon Hill. GPS is a won­der except in some urban envi­ron­ments apparently.

It was so nice to encamp on Lemon Hill for a love­ly June after­noon spent with friends and fam­i­ly and food. Bit­ter­sweet that we say good­bye yet again to our friends Tony and Katie as they embark on a cross-coun­try trip to Seat­tle for a few years. Can’t wait to vis­it! I’ve seen a few episodes of “The Killing” so I just know it’s going to be a beau­ti­ful place to live and work.

We’ve man­aged to sur­vive two years of very lit­tle sleep to raise a beau­ti­ful lit­tle boy and I can hon­est­ly say I’ve loved every minute, even when I’m awake at 4 am watch­ing reruns of “Gold­en Girls” on the couch.