Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quote of the Day

"When friends speak overmuch of times gone by, often it's because they sense their present time is turning them from friends to strangers. Long before the moment came to say goodbye, I think, we said goodbye in other words and ways and silences. Then when the moment came for it at last, we didn't say it as it should be said by friends. So now at last, dear Mouse, with many, many years between: goodbye."

- From January 31st in Listening to Your Life by Frederick Buechner.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Kate and I have been watching NBC's Parenthood pretty much from the start (it just finished its fourth season) and it is easily one of the best written shows on basic cable. 

Turn on the TV at any moment of the day and it is particularly hard to find a decent man or woman on television. Typically, they are cheating, lying bastards who can't remain faithful to their family and, if they do, they are secretly brewing meth and killing lots of people on the side...see Breaking Bad. No doubt, those shows are entertaining to an extent, but Parenthood deals with a side of life that only the most patient and talented writer can tease out, reality. 

The writers of Parenthood haven't forgotten that we all have our weaknesses and flaws but they have wisely avoided the temptation to magnify those flaws by giving every character an egregious downfall. Too many writers fall victim to this temptation and they do so because they think, ironically so, that they are being creative. But let's face it, most people don't decide to cook meth when they face a financial emergency. Most people get two jobs or make a crazy, but legal, decision to invest in a recording studio with their younger brother, to take an example from a real Parenthood episode. This thinking is at the heart of Parenthood and it is what has produced, at least for me, a reserve of genuine characters and conflicts that give me feelings of hope, despair, joy, anger, laughter, and, most importantly, what I see as a pretty accurate cross-section of life for a mixed middle-class, upper middle-class family experiencing the growing pains of life. 

Getting Some Air

A little fun from one of Andrew Sullivan's mental health break posts

Monday, January 07, 2013

An Incomplete Summary of 2012

I found a nice corner of a coffee shop a few days ago and wrote out a summary of 2012. Month by month, I put down what came to mind without the help of pictures or a calendar. Here is some of what I have.


Despite having a 6-week break between fall quarter and winter quarter I did not feel ready or excited to return to graduate classes at DU. Maybe it was the 26-27 books I had to read in the first ten weeks of the year. Maybe it was the realization, once again, that Korbel isn't an MFA program and thus, not where I truly wanted to end up. Or maybe it was the unease I have about going through all of this, accruing debt, and the inability to see how this is going to pay off. 

I remember ringing in the new year with my parents and having dinner at Bistro Vendome on NYE. We walked Larimer Square after dinner. It was around 20 degrees outside. We marveled at all the hoes lined up to get into clubs. Many were in mini-skirts and low-cut shirts, which conflicted with the sub-freezing temperature outside, but aided in what has become the goal of NYE for so many. Get dressed up. Go out. Get drunk. Meet someone. Go home and have sex with them. One can't be blamed for disliking much about NYE. 


I began the last year of my 20s. There was a joint birthday party in Fort Collins at my grandparent's house. My mom and my aunts were there. It was a good time. I missed my dad. 


We went to Kauai with Kate's parents. The trip provided so many moments that will be with me for a long time, but a few of them will be with me forever. One of the them was getting to Kauai ahead of the in-laws and exploring some of the island and our hotel with Kate. We took pictures of a beautiful sunset, had appetizers and drinks at the hotel bar and even had a nap before we had to go back to the airport to pick up her parents. 

I'll never forget snorkeling there even though it wasn't a great time to snorkel on the south shore. I dove down deep enough under the frothy surface and I kicked fast with fins directly toward the largest fish I saw. I surprised him and he bolted away and his tail made a noise that I could clearly hear. I didn't expect that. It was like a short burst of gunfire under water. I floated right there for a few seconds in silence watching the fish disappear into the murky distance. 

There was also a memorable attempt at boogie boarding at Brennecke's Beach, or break-neck beach. The waves here form very quickly, they are steep, and they dump you in shallow water. It's a horrible wave to ride. We tried a couple times, but I'm glad we stopped. One wave managed to take both Kate and I out. But before leaving a sea turtle popped up between Kate and I. It was just out of arm's reach. Kate's face was classic, scared, and proof of what was on her mind, "What the hell do we do now?"


We drove to Farmington for Easter. My parents were overjoyed and we were too to see them and to have beautiful weather for the drive there and back. 


We went to Cincinnati for the first time. We were celebrating my college roommate's wedding. Cinci was pretty cool, which was surprising. However, I would never want to move to Ohio. I just couldn't do it. It's flat and boring for the most part. The summer air is sticky. Lots of fat people too.

Another couple of good friends were married this month too. I went to a bachelor party in Boulder. A shot of whiskey, bike rides into Boulder, Mountain Sun food and beer, and there were awkward moments in a shady basement club with a bunch of undergrads listening to Tom's story about how I was in the Olympics, but lesser known because Michael Phelps was a teammate. Then there was almost a scuffle with some very drunk people on Pearl St and a 3am bike ride back to north Boulder and a hard floor to call mine for the night. 


I finished my first year at DU. I spent way too much time planning our August vacation, but luckily, I made all the best choices. 

Kate and I celebrated five years of marriage with a dinner at Salt in Boulder. We found it underwhelming, but still good in some ways. It just didn't meet the reputation that precedes it.

It was a very hot month. The A/C went out twice. 


My DVR was getting overworked by recording 10-16 hours of Olympic coverage a day. I remained glued to the television for most of two weeks and reveled in Michael Phelps' performance, which started off a little rough, but by the end he had proven to the doubters that he still was the best swimmer in the world and certainly the most capable when it comes to performing on the world's greatest stage. 


I've written about our big trip elsewhere, but here's a little more about it. 

London: hot, muggy, crowded, expensive, tough to sift through all the thousands of restaurants to find a great one, but damn, I still love this city more than any other. 

Train ride: first class; I already had breakfast when we boarded, but I didn't know we were served breakfast on first class so I had another breakfast and the alcoholic beverages were on the house for the next four hours; leg room; cruising by the North Atlantic; Instagramming while on the train going 100+ mph.

Edinburgh: crowded, cool, damp, expensive, funny, but so awesome and old. Great dinner at the Dome. One great comedian. One not-so-great comedian. 

The Highlands: Stressful driving for both of us, but Kate did a great job, unbelievable mountains, glens, waterfalls, midges, dunking my head in a creek, watching Kate enjoy Scotland, the meals at the Lovat, Loch Ness, Balmuirfield House (our first B&B), the drive into Edinburgh, St. Andrew's golf course tour, and the sense of accomplishment and safety after turning in our rental car. 

London again: cooler this time around, Apex Temple Court (amazing hotel), lots of walking, and almost, in a way, getting a little tired of touristy London in the summer, chocolates from Selfridges, and a fitting service at St. Paul's and a great last dinner of dim sum at Ping Pong near the Jubilee bridge on the south side, and the priceless real food market in the same area. 


DU starts up again. Senioritis. SecDef...sucking. I'm not a social scientist. 

One bad football game in Laramie. Cowboys sucked again. But great company. 

A surprise trip to Vegas to meet Guy and Liron at the Venetian. We had a great time, but we both wanted one more night there. 


Kate interviews for a new job and gets it. 

I continued to slog through the fall quarter, feeling uninspired and bored by most of what I am studying. The Islamic political thought course is by far my favorite class of the quarter. 


Kate starts her new job. I finally finish the quarter at DU, getting three A-s, my worst quarter at DU so far. 

My parents come to Denver for a good long visit over Thanksgiving. Van Gogh exhibit. Ate a lot. Played Oh Hell quite a bit. Monte was here too. We saw Lincoln. 

And Obama wins again. I jump up from the couch, attempt to do the moonwalk across our wood floor, fail miserably, scream a little bit, peak into our bedroom where Kate is trying to fall asleep and I yell at her (out of joy), go back to the couch, collapse, sigh, one more yell, turned the TV off. 


We go to Dublin, California to spend time with my sister, her husband and family. Our niece had her 5th birthday party while we were out there. 

Kate's family is in town for Christmas. We tour Stranahan's. Eat at Sushi Sasa. The guys go to the Bull and Bush. 11pm service at Montview. I was moved in December. 

Kate and I close out the year at home with prime filet mignon, good wine, creamed spinach, and truffle mashed potatoes. It was probably better than any steak we could have ordered here in Denver. I stay up until midnight, but I'm in bed. Nevertheless, I still nudge Kate, sit up in bed, and yell, "Happy New Year!" Then, head to pillow and 2013.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Best of 2012

Best Vacation: Kauai was amazing, but Scotland and my favorite city in all the world with my wife…nothing can compete.

My favorite blog I wrote: This one, about Michael Phelps after the London 2012 games.

Best Meal: There were two and they happened at the same restaurant two nights in a row, The Lovat Brasserie in Fort Augustus, Scotland. Seriously, everything we bit into was mouth-rockingly wonderful. This place should not be missed if you’re in the Highlands.

Best Live Sporting Event: Front row at the Broncos vs. Browns game on December 23.

Best Televised Sporting Event: Michael Phelps' last show at this summer's Olympic games in London.

Best Bachelor Party: Sir Travis’ party in Boulder. Whiskey. Bikes. Mountain Sun. Pearl St. 3am bike ride back to north Boulder up some pretty steep hills.

Best Graduate Class: Tie….Great Books of the Middle East and Modern Islamic Political Thought. If it’s any consolation, the same professor taught them.

Best Photograph We Took: Kate probably disagrees, but I really love this one from Kauai. It's imperfect, but that's sort of what I like about it in addition to the stunning beauty of that wave and the memory I have of standing in ankle deep, frothy sea water while watching these waves roll in.

Best Drive: From Ft Augustus, Scotland to Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland. I wanted to pull over every half mile to take more pictures.

Best Picture of Kate and I: This one taken by Jarrod Renaud.

Best Gift: One I gave.

Best Pet: Monte, my parents’ 16-yr-old cat, for being a trooper while she lived with us for 2.5 weeks when my parents were in Italy.

Best Thing To Do When The Wife Is Out Of Town: Invite over all your video-gaming friends for an all-day gaming bonanza with beers and bloody Marys.

Best Beer: Nothing new, but a beer I grew to love throughout this year, a beer that has easily become one of my favorites. Odell’s IPA.

Best Concert: Bon Iver at Red Rocks. This is easily the best concert I’ve seen since I was in high school and saw MxPx for the first time at the Ogden. The free Lumineers concert at DU was a very close second.

Best Laugh: With Guy Ferber in Las Vegas.

Best Sunset from 4550, our home: This October beauty.

Best Musical Discovery: M83 and the Lumineers.

Best Social Platform: Instagram.

Best Timing for a Photograph: This one by Kate. I didn't even say try to get one of me in the air and then she goes and snaps this perfectly framed and timed shot. Okay.

Best Coffee: Boxcar Coffee in Boulder. This place got me to like a cappuccino.