Coming Home to Fatherhood

I recently saw a brief clip of a ten year-old girl in her classroom who looks up to see that her soldier father has unexpectedly come home from Iraq. I confess that I am a complete sucker for this. I couldn’t describe the video to someone without getting husky voiced, which is just plain embarrassing. I watched it on Youtube a half dozen times, and then—because the Internet is of the devil—I was presented with the opportunity to watch other videos that the Youtube algorithm deemed similar to the first.

So of course I watched them all.

Some are exploitive—parents and principals and news anchors all conspiring in elaborate, hours-long hoaxes to maximize the surprise of children, and ensure that it’s all captured on high-quality film for consumption by suckers like me. Others, like the video that pulled me in, are simple and brief and lovely. [Read more...]

Why All This Music?

Guest Post

I grew up in the Mohawk River valley of upstate New York. By the time the long, frigid winter was over, we’d often seen more snow than anywhere in the country.

Life was rugged both inside and outdoors.

My dad was angry and drunk and hit my brother and me and crashed our family vehicles and hated his job and, I think, himself. He made pitchforks at the Union Tool Company, working in the forge, a role even the toughest guys in the factory respected. Some of them tried it for a few days for the higher pay but couldn’t hack it. My father did it for twenty-seven years. He came home with burns on his clothes and skin several times a week. [Read more...]

My Kite Boy

I woke at one thirty with a start. My heart pounded in my ears. My wife was warm under the covers beside me, in the heavy rhythm of sleep. Through the hiss of the white noise machine I could hear the wet clicks of our schipperke, Sgt. Pepper, under the bed obsessively licking his paw.

I was afraid.

I did my quick mental inventory. Everything was as it should be. Kids in bed. Doors locked.

[Read more...]