Rhythm

This space, other than my letters to the princes, has been about fiction for so long, it feels weird to be writing about life in the kingdom.  So much has changed since I first started.  That was before the first prince had even shown up.  He was on the way, yes, but not yet here.  How can eight years feel like a lifetime ago?

I keep having this conversation with a colleague, about how time is always funny but pandemic time has been outright “hilarious.”  (For today’s post, hilarious = ridiculous.)  Blink once and the day is over.  Blink twice and you’ve lost a month.  Blink three times and suddenly time has slowed to the point where it feels like it might just be going backwards, and what a horror that would be…  Blink four times and the cycle repeats, except maybe they’ll be in a different order.  Or maybe it will be completely different because nothing is certain at the moment, not even the steady march of time.  It slips.  It slides.  It stops and sprints.  It does a jig and then stands against the wall to catch its breath.

–Side note: fellow author and blogger, Arthur, has a podcast where he delves into the mystery and inevitability of time. He has some great word play in the podcast that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve spent the last 14 months working from home.  It’s been an adventure.  I’ll likely be home for a few more months as well.  That information is just a tangent on how the normal rhythm of my days has been different during the pandemic and is definitely a factor on how weird time has felt.  And while you may ask how come I haven’t gotten into a new rhythm, a new routine, in those 14 months, my response would be laugh and gesture broadly towards my surroundings.

In the kingdom, the rhythm to every day is different.  Sometimes the rhythm of the morning is different from the afternoon.  Sometimes it changes suddenly.  Sometimes it changes so subtly that you don’t even notice until something goes wrong and you realize the song changed to a waltz and the cha-cha steps you were doing no longer make sense.  Not sure why I threw in a dance metaphor there.  It works though.  This has all been like a dance.

Some days are salsa: fast tempo, fun, quick steps.  Some days are waltz: slow, beautiful, smooth.  Some are the “high school hang:” I have no idea what I’m doing but gosh darn it I’m going to get out there and be seen anyway.

Not sure where I was headed when I started writing, but here we are.  Songs over, another is about to start.  I wonder what will come on next.  A swing?  Hustle?  Whatever it is, I’ll pick up the rhythm as best I can.

And you?  How has time felt for you during these 14 months?

American Pie

A couple months ago I submitted two different short stories to the Los Angeles Public Library Summer Writing Contest.

I’m very pleased to announce that one of those stories, an allusion packed piece about life and music, was one of the winners of the contest. You can read my story here:

https://lapubliclibrary.short-edition.com/story/1m/american-pie

I’ll post the second story in a couple days. In a lot of ways, I actually liked it more.

So, my faithful kingdomites, give American Pie a read and let me know what you think. Does it resonate with you? How many song references can you spot? How was your summer in these crazy times?

On being thirty-nine

Dear Jester,

I’d say that’s a funny way to start a letter to myself but we all know that it fits.

What an adventure it has been, yes?  Thirty-nine years full of adventures.  Far too many to list out here so perhaps we should just focus on the last little bit.  Perhaps, perhaps.  Though I doubt I can say much now that doesn’t relate to something that came before.  We all know that fits as well.

It’s an interesting thing to reflect on the passage of time, to admire the triumphs over the adventures that went sideways and to bask in the remaining glow of those that went better than expected.  I’ve done far more than I thought I would by this age and far less at the same time.  That’s part of the hypocrisy that is at my core.  Hypocrisy isn’t exactly the right word but it harkens to something I think about a lot.

When I was young I assumed there would be a point when I would stop being a child and would be an adult.  It would be a clear delineation.  One or the other.  And I keep waiting for that to happen.  Yet, here I am at thirty-nine and it hasn’t happened yet so now I have to assume it never will.  Which then makes me wonder about all the generations that came before.  Did they go through life always feeling like both?  Young at heart but wise with age? That’s not quite either but it is close enough for now, especially since this letter is for me and I know what I mean even if I can’t articulate it.

The logical answer is that yes, of course, they felt the same.  But logic isn’t always the easiest thing for me to accept.  And by that I mean, that I grew up on stories with clear distinctions with well defined endings, where the heroes were either children or adults, and have thus romanticized that.  And I feel like neither and both at the same time and that can leave me feeling out of sorts, like something is wrong with me.

Again, logically, I know that nothing is wrong with me and I need to be kinder to myself.  That’s true for all sorts of things.  I have expectations that are likely impossible to live up to and thus constantly disappointing myself even though nobody else holds me to those same standards and expectations.  Knowing this does little to curb the sting of failures and regrets.

That’s not entirely accurate anyway.  I’m hard on myself on some things and super forgiving on others… all part of the hypocrisy that is me…  Not the right word but close enough.  And I know it doesn’t really matter.

I know a couple other things too.  I have a beautiful and brilliant wife and two, going on three, children.  And know that all I really need to be happy in this crazy world is two things: my beloved mountains and family.  I’m blessed with both.

And that’s nothing to scoff off after thirty-nine years.  Or after any amount of time, really.

So, dear Jester, be kind to yourself.  Be patient.  Remember that you know what you need to be happy and let the rest slide to the side.  As best you can.  Some days you’ll do it well.  Some days you won’t.  So it goes.

Now go hug your kids and wife and tell them that you love them, including the tiny one still hidden away, and then dream of the wild places, the high places, the valleys and rivers, and snow-capped peaks that call to you.  You’ll be back among them soon enough.

You’ve got this,

Matticus

On being seven

Dear Little Prince,

What a ride?  What a journey?  What an adventure?

Yes, yes, they aren’t always good adventures… that’s not the point and I think you are now aware enough and old enough to begin to understand that.  We adventure in this kingdom.  Sometimes those adventures are fun.  Sometimes those adventures are work.  Always, always, we do it together and see our way through.  That’s at the core of being part of this family.

First grade and a pandemic.  A growing little brother that adores you and tortures you in equal measure.  Star Wars, Harry Potter (again), bike rides, hikes, math worksheets, and the never ending stream of questions.  They whys, the whats the hows, the whens.  Never ending.  Your curiosity is as fierce as it has ever been, as fierce as your confidence and stubbornness.  It is these qualities that will have you rise up to rule the world one day.  I joke but I’m serious at the same time.

You’re still a weed, getting taller and faster and stronger and learning all the time, sponging in the obscure facts from the history of the world audiobooks you listen to on repeat.  You still struggle with some lessons and most of those are the ones we all struggle with: patience, impulse control, patience, empathy and patience.  Don’t worry overly much about that, though.  In time, you’ll learn these lessons as well as any of the rest of us have.

I know I’m too hard on you sometimes and I hope you can forgive me.  I see this greatness in you and I want to get every bit of it to come out and shine.  So about that patience?  Yes, I know, it is one of my faults as well.  As I said, we all struggle with it at times.  You’ll get there.  I know you will.

You’ll get there flying on your bike and running up those trails.  You’ll get there with your lego learned engineering and artistic skills that already outstrip my own.  You’ll get there with your passion and confidence.  And then you will shine, shine, shine till I go blind from the burning brilliance and my refusal to look away, out of pride and love and my own stubbornness.

You keep being you.  Trust in that.  You’ll see.  You will move mountains, as they say.

Love you kiddo,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester

On being three

I’m a little behind on these posts. Life in the kingdom, as everywhere, has been strange of late and the change to my routines in that strangeness took away my normal wiring time. Plus I forgot.  It happens, you know. Then I was reminded and here we are.

…..

Dear Littler Prince,

So this is three?  Wild and amazing and cranky and empathetic and constantly surprising.  The current state of affairs has certainly thrown what little routine you’d grown used to out the window and you just shrugged your shoulders and carried on.  Part of that is having your brother around, of course, but most of that is just who you are.  You take things in stride, come what may.  That doesn’t factor in when you are tired or hungry.  Then the raging tantrums shake the walls and rattle the windows.  That’s all part of it.  Normal.  Expected.  And perfectly fine.

Your laugh, wild like your hair and your exuberance, is perfectly fine as well.  It also shakes the walls and rattles the windows and reverberates with a joy that is nothing short of infectious.  It fills this house and bursts free at the seams.  I hope you laugh that way forever.  I hope your world continues to be so full of things to laugh at.

You took to your scooter the way your older brother took to his bike.  You zoom and swerve and fall and pick yourself back up and zoom off again.  Faster and more fearless with each passing day.  It too is a joy to behold.

Then the tantrums come and you curl your fists up and your eyes well with tears and you scream and scream and scream.  Those will pass, of course.  They always do.  In the moment and in general.  Though, perhaps I’ll miss the times when the solution to those is a hug and a cuddle, or a silly face made in passing, or any of the other little things that can often cheer you up that you will one day outgrow.  The transition will be slow but it has already begun.

I will miss those days more than you… and this isn’t about me, so I’ll move along.

What this all comes down to is you are learning (exponentially), you are growing (like a weed), you are silly (perhaps like a certain Jester), you are crazy (like all of us here) and, to overuse the word, a joy.  It’s as simple as that.

And long may that continue.

Love you kiddo,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester