Generations

Leopoldstadt is the new and presumably last play written by Tom Stoppard. It tells the story of two families and spans four generations. While it explores themes of class, culture and religion, its primary question centers around the obligation family has to its members. Not just present but future and perhaps most importantly past.  

Early in the play, the matriarch is showing the family photo album to her grandchildren.…


Cheer

It was a week for celebration in my home.

Our oldest daughter turned 15.
Our youngest received two call backs for the 5th grade play.
Our middle daughter won her first wrestling match.
My wife won her first competitive tennis doubles match.
And my podcast won two golds – one for best interview show and another for most inspirational podcast.

When my daughter won her wrestling match, her coach picked her up in the air as teammates cheered her on.…


Care

There is a running joke in the hilarious and poignant one-man show, Old Man and the Pool by Mike Birbiglia.

His family uses the salutation “Take care” as a parting proxy for “I love you” – which apparently they never say to one another. It is suggested, understandably, that these two words are an insufficient substitute for the three words that are the gold standard in expressing how we feel for another person.…


Be

We had decided that given the relatively short holiday break, we would all stay home. No trips to visit the family. No travel at all.

We would just be together.

“Be” unfortunately was conflated with “do” – as is often the case. Each of us had long lists of things we wanted to accomplish; projects to complete, ways to be productive, ideas about how to do fun things.…


Negotiation

It was Thanksgiving Day. My daughter wanted apple pie and asked her mother to get it for her. My brother-in-law noted that he had read some parenting advice from Esther Wojcicki that suggested children should be encouraged to do whatever they can for themselves.

As Wojcicki had raised two CEOs and a doctor, the joke became – future CEOs get their own pie.

For the next three hours, no one budged.…


Being

Last week, I took a few minutes to create a list of all the major things I’ve done professionally so far this year. While the list was relatively long and I felt a certain amount of pride in reflection, something was just a little off.

I tried to recall how I felt at the time each project was being created. Did I enjoy the process? Did it bring me joy?…


Forgotten

I was listening to a podcast conversation between Douglas Rushkoff and Sherry Turkle recently. Both scholars have written and spoken extensively about our relationship with technology. Both have also at different times been in rooms surrounded by tech billionaires.

At one point Turkle wondered “What do they know that I don’t?” when thinking about how they have amassed their fortune, whereas she has lived on a more modest academic’s salary.…


Queens

Much has been made about the extraordinary amount of attention and coverage given to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. On one hand, she was probably the most famous person on the planet. On the other, some would say she had, at best, a symbolic role in the world and at worst what she symbolized was colonialism.

Like most of us, she wore many hats – albeit one of hers was literally a heavy crown.…


Legend

As legend has it, some creative people are bestowed with an abundance of natural talent from birth or act as a conduit for divine inspiration. How else to explain a prodigy or creative genius?

An alternative narrative was offered up by the aptly named, John Legend, who was a guest on the podcast Smartless recently.

In this story, yes Legend exhibits an early love, if not talent, for music.…


Back-to-School

My children have always loved back-to-school shopping. There is something about the idea of having a list of school supplies and wandering through a stationary store checking off boxes that brings them a strange combination of excitement and satisfaction.

As a writer I can identify with the love of pencils, paper and such.

So there we were scuffling through Staples searching for the perfect sized post it notes or a pencil case that was both stylish (one picked out a furry cat – rather kitschy) and functional (dividers or pockets seem key.)…


Map?

Recently, my wife and I took our daughter to see Dear Evan Hansen. I had seen the musical before with my oldest daughter, watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times with my family who love the music.

Seeing it again live was to restore its power in my mind – power that was diluted by the repeated listening and sing-a-longs on car rides.…


Take

Last week while walking my dog, I noticed what I thought was one of those awesome free standing “Lending Library” kiosks.

However as I approached, I saw that this one did not include a single book. Rather, it was filled with canned goods and other non-perishable food items. The sign at the top read, “Take What You Need.”

The presence of such a structure was both a sign of our difficult economic times and a refreshing public display of community kindness.…


See

Marcel Proust once wrote, “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”

He is writing about the role artists play in society in a chapter perhaps appropriately named, The Prisoner.


Pride

The end of the school year usually engenders a decent amount of pride.

In my home, there were wonderful report cards, end of year concerts and successful soccer seasons. Two of my kids “moved up” – one entering high school and our youngest leaving elementary school.

Beyond the general achievements, each gave us reasons to feel particularly proud.

Our youngest was sad to leave the innocence and safety of elementary school.…


Found

How many times have you lost your keys? Hopefully around the same number of times you’ve found them.

Of course, there are many things we lose and can never find again. Or we find things we were never looking for in the first place.

Our deepest losses are of loved ones. As are our most precious finds. 

Our relationship to the ideas of what is lost and found tends to be somewhat transactional.…


Ride

It was an especially hectic weekend. On top of the standard travel soccer chaos, there was also a band/chorus concert and tech week for one of my daughter’s theater groups.  All of this was compounded by the fact that my wife was away on a well-deserved, but ill-timed, girls’ weekend. I was flying solo.

We had managed the first three days quite well, due in large part to some good planning and even better temperament from my three daughters. A…


Promise

Over the last week, I attended concerts for two of my children. Both are in band, one is also in chorus. In an auditorium packed with proud parents, I doubt that I was alone in marveling at how these 12 and 14 year olds had become such accomplished musicians. They had surpassed my own musicality years ago.

Similarly as I watch all three of my children on the soccer pitch, I must acknowledge that they shortly will become more skilled at their sports than I ever was at mine.…


Sides

I have heard Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” dozens of times, but until recently I never actually listened to it.

On Sunday, I watched the wonderful and moving film, CODA, where it plays a central role. Ruby, the sole hearing member of her deaf family, chooses it as her audition song for admission into the Berklee School of Music.

The desire to go to college is not shared by her family, who don’t appreciate their daughter’s love of music and fear the effects her leaving would have on the family’s fishing business.…


Upgrade

My family and I recently went to Los Angeles for spring break. I wasn’t able to select our seats in advance to ensure that all five of us could sit together unless I was prepared to upgrade our seats.

Later in the trip, we went to the Universal Studios theme park. The tickets were not cheap, $125 each. Yet when we arrived we found extremely long lines.…


Soccer

I coach all three of my daughters’ travel soccer teams. Between practices and games, I will spend almost twenty hours a week on a soccer field. This doesn’t include traveling to and from games or any of the administrative headaches that come with the gig.

It can be very stressful getting kids ready, out the door and on time. Each team has had their share of growing pains.…


Savor

My friend recently told me the story about a lunch he had with another friend of ours. They were getting together at an old stomping ground where we had all had lunch dozens of times before. The circumstances this time were different.

Our friend had terminal cancer, was very weak, and it was clear that this would be their last lunch together. Eating his burger took longer than usual and the waitress seemed to hover a bit.…


Aphasia

I was startled when I learned that Bruce Willis was stepping back from acting due to his recent aphasia diagnosis. This New York Times article headline describes this affliction as “stealing your ability to communicate.”

My reaction was informed by my own experience with aphasia over a decade ago. Shortly after the birth of our first child, I found myself, on occasion, saying a word I didn’t intend to.…


Belief

What or who do you believe in?

Beliefs can be a tricky thing. We all have them, in fact hold them dearly. Yet seldom do we explicitly state or share them. More often, beneath the surface, they inform, influence or dictate many of our actions.

Beliefs, according to the Oxford dictionary, can be defined in two ways:
One is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”…


Anything

My last cycle of REM sleep often occurs just before I wake. It is during this time that your brain processes emotions and emotional memories. It is also when we dream. Lately, it seems as if the emotions I’m processing range from mildly troubling to deeply disturbing. As I often remember my dreams, this can lead to an unsettling start to my day.

As it was this morning.…