briefly, every prevarication starts at dick’s

In the aftermath of the atrocity perpetrated in Parkland and the very public, ahem, conversation(?) taking place on the role of assault-style firearms in American life, people of all walks of life have been, for lack of better term, weaponized.

Major American retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods went viral 28 February, when they issued a press release taking a stand and making policy changes with regard to the sale of ‘modern sporting rifles’. And, of course, the weaponized amongst us saw this as either a humanity-affirming move by a retailer to show their solidarity with the victims and the community, or an encroachment on constitutional rights.

The truth is, of course, neither. And the greater truth underscored here is that people en masse have stopped paying attention to anything anyone says beyond a general sense that whatever is being said generally conforms to existing sociopolitical prejudice.

I noticed this right away, and I’m not alone in doing so, but Dick’s proper stopped selling these types of weapons after Sandy Hook. They say so literally in middle of the press release. What they actually did was change the policy for their Field & Stream label, which only has 35 locations nationwide.

You’ve never heard of Field & Stream stores in the same way that you’ve never heard of Lion’s Choice roast beef joints in the St. Louis area. There are 26 of them. If they were to, say, stop offering coleslaw, you wouldn’t care.

In fairness, if a change in the landscape is going to happen, it ought to happen privately. If a business or community feels as though a change needs to take place, that conversation should happen there. On the one hand, this is how things should be done.

On the other, a retailer is blatantly posturing in a naked attempt to exploit public consciousness on a sensitive topic to make their doorstep more appealing for patrons to darken and spend their money. In so doing, they’ve told a pretty brazen half-truth that technically is true, but actually changes next to nothing.

That hasn’t stopped thousands of people from reacting and sharing the release as though it were a bold stand on a hot topic, which it isn’t. What it is is a shameful, cowardly and deceptive stunt to pry open more wallets in their checkout lanes. (And have you seen the prices on their crap lately? One needs to pry open a second mortgage!)

Dicks, indeed.

Update: Link to press release added, and they slapped highly-detailed UTM conditions on the link (which I’ve stripped from the URL for you. You’re welcome.) Not only does this demonstrate how little they care, but how badly they want to know who is sharing their release where and strategize from there. Dicks, indeed. –b.


briefly, the 25th hour of parenthood

The 25th Hour is a novel by David Benioff–later adapted by Spike Lee into a film starring Edward Norton–a vignette of a man’s final moments of freedom before reporting to prison for a seven-year sentence. In those ultimate hours, he spends the evening with two friends, contemplates the choices that brought him to this point.

Tomorrow, wife and I send the girls off for their first day of 4K. Granted, it’s only three-ish hours a day, but it’s their first first day of school and, after this, they won’t have a last first day of school for at least 14 years. I will be approaching 50 years old then.

We spent years trying and failing to have children, then we ended up with the beans, and things were good. They weren’t going to school for years. Then Don August showed up, which was cool. Not easy, not by a long shot, but cool. Well, time being what it is, slipped away and here we are, toddlers who don’t toddle, armed with backpacks and heading off to school tomorrow.

We knew it was coming. We tried to prepare for it. And then, I realized that their last first day of school will be at least 14 years from now, and I will be approaching 50 years old.

And that’s when I realized my life is over.

I’ve been having a hard time reconciling myself to that fact. From here, it’s parent-teacher conferences, something resembling organized sports, extracurricular activities: for the first time in my life, I told the girls, sans irony, to get ready for bed because it’s a school night.


How did I get here?

Our adventures seem like they were eons ago. Weren’t we just in Kansas City? Wasn’t I just in grad school? Didn’t I write that incendiary column at the Northern Light last semester?

The only semesters that matter anymore are at a grade school attended by my children. If it wasn’t about me before, it’s definitely not about me now.

This is where I’m at. I’m done, and I have to make my peace with it. Maybe I’ll do a Coffee With Dead People on myself! Or perhaps it’s epilogomena!

Maybe I’m just being melodramatic–particularly to those who aren’t here (or aren’t here yet)–or some wiseacre who has been here before just reads this smiling and nodding, but there is an eerie sense of finality here that I was not anticipating, and I didn’t even necessarily feel when I was first introduced to my offspring or even when I got married. This is weird!

So, I will go to bed (I’m really, really tired, can’t you tell?) and wake up tomorrow (I took the day off for the occasion) and we’ll take pictures of the girls with their sign and we’ll take them to their classroom.

After that, we’ll probably go grab some breakfast: two dead people–with a cute, mulleted mini-me in tow–wondering how it all came to this.

And life will keep marching on.

briefly, on being replaceable

As society further commodifies people, moving us from who toward what, it can readily be noticed that, while we lament how people have turned to cattle in so many ways in terms of the workforce, we have no apparent issue with turning people into hamburger in our personal lives.


Continue reading

briefly, a bedtime story

So the girls have been getting stories about ‘the sleepy princesses,’ and since I’m a crappy storyteller, I just barely dramatize the events of their day. The names of the sleepy princesses are Princess E and Princess I. There’s also Prince Brother, Queen Mama and me, Brave Sir Daddy. They’ve already figured out that I’m just recycling the day’s events and it bothered them at first, but now they just go with it.

Tonight, they wanted to hear about the sleepy princesses; I wanted to hear about a dragon (who was introduced a few nights ago and is actually imaginary), but E wanted nothing to do with a dragon, even one who was friendly and played with them before.

So, I started in on how the sleepy princesses went outside on a beautiful day with a nice, cool breeze and were playing with their friend, the dragon. E began throwing a fit over the apparent indignity of invoking the presence of said friendly dragon.

“…and their friend the dragon went home because one of the sleepy princesses was mean. Princess E.”

The end.

briefly, an opening day devotional

I bared my soul yesterday to a co-worker I hardly know at all. I did not realize it at the time. It is wasted if left there. It is possibly less-wasted here and is presented unedited.


Apr-3 4:20 PM

For me, it’s love. I stopped playing baseball when my parents moved us from Plover to Stevens Point (and the uniforms in Point’s Little League were generic and lame, while Plover’s were actual kiddie ML kits, stirrups and all. I was stupid; some things never change.)

I lost interest in baseball, then went to college in Minnesota, where I lived about three blocks from the Metrodome. The Twins, who were execrable for years, started making the postseason (Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, before Mauer and Morneau.) October baseball, and living in that for a month one fall, made me swoon.

I started reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel daily, following the Brewers, who were in those years, charitably described, utter and complete butt. I write and occasionally turn a decent phrase, so I got suckered into the writers there (Haudricourt, Drew Olson, Dale Hoffmann, then Bob McGinn, Cliff Christl and the Packers writers.)

Baseball somehow tied itself into the deepest part of my soul. It’s love.

Whatever noun connects itself to the deepest part of your soul–your natural talent or gifting, a place that sinks deeply into your conscious, a person who makes you feel like half-person, half-chasm without them–that noun is only there because it is rooted in love.
Don’t ever risk those nouns.

briefly, dust

“…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” — Genesis 3.19b

I was not raised in a Christian tradition that paid much recognition to Ash Wednesday or the Lenten season, which began for many Christians a week ago. With the arrival of the season, though, this phrase has stuck in my mind.

To be returned to dust. Pulverized; pulvis: dust, powder, ash.

We will all be pulverized. What (ahem) levels the playing field more than that?

Perhaps in our heightened state of enlightenment, we have forgotten what it is we really are. Regardless if one believes in the literal creation (which I do not), or in evolutionary development (theistic or otherwise), the source is the same: we come from the elements. In kind, we will end up elements again.

In the meantime, we are animated dirt.

And, as dirt, living amongst dirt, we tend to lack self-awareness of our own dirtiness. As such, we take our fellow dirt for granted, we mistreat, we hate, we ignore, considering our collection of dirt of more value than someone else’s. All the while, neglecting the fundamental fact that I am dirt and could be dispatched to my natural, dusty state at any given time.

The fact that we are animated dust, then, should never be far from our minds, Lent or otherwise. This is the time to be grateful, to be fair, kind and to recognize the myriad ways in which we fail one another. This is the day to seek forgiveness and to forgive. The garden might not be an option anymore; that shouldn’t keep us from creating something beautiful (or as beautiful as dust can possibly be.) This is hope, that in spite of our mutated condition, we might yet even have the faintest resemblance of a time when things were right.

Indeed, while we yet have anima, we are extraordinary pulvis. Capable of life and destruction, often in the same manner and from the same source, inexorably thrust toward our pulverization. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

What will you do with your interim? What shall I do with mine?

briefly, on getting used to very long commutes

For the past ten months, my day job has gotten me up at roughly 5 AM, on the road somewhere between 6.15 and 6.30 (or, umm, not, see also: morning, this) and in the office’s door before an 8 AM start.

At first, this was great! I love driving (when gas prices aren’t as prohibitive as they have been for the past ten years) and traveling and figured this would slay the avian wanderlust and provide opportunity to clear my head going in and coming back.

It was a lie–noble, but a lie nonetheless. And it worked for a while; it was great to be back amongst the gainfully-employed and I did indeed come to work focused and the drive home was cathartic.

When summer gave way to fall, and fall to winter, that eager approach gave way to prolonged yawns, frustrated stumbles out of bed, and that 70-mile drive from point A to point B became familiar, boring and countered any sense that it could be a good thing.

I hate the drive to work now. I like what I do–moreover, I very much like the team I work with, and I very much like getting paid–but I’m up too early, here too long, go home too late and get to bed later than I should.

Then there are the beans. Those wild, weed-esque beans. I’ve missed so much in missing three hours a day to the road. They grow faster, miss me more, get that much more hyper when I get home and just want to breathe for a moment (and wife-mama needs to .)

Well, our circumstances are changing. We just had an offer accepted on our first home and in a few weeks, I’ll be roughly two-thirding my commute.

I spent a long lunch today signing roughly 1038945790183470985 pages of paperwork with our lender and celebrated the fact my hand didn’t fall off with one of those deliciously generic cheesesteak sandwiches at the nearby mall. Behind me, in between sizable bites of chicken teriyaki sandwich and malt vinegar-laden fresh fries, was a toddler and her mama. I overheard one of those sentences virginal to all save the parents of littles, something along the lines of, ‘Don’t eat that off the floor! That’s icky!’

I could hear wife-mama saying it. I could hear myself saying it. And I smiled, in the way only bittersweet parents who sacrifice far too much of their time for their families know how. I’ve missed so much of this, the insanity of child-rearing, the naive madness of children. Days of the month lost to the road.

I turned, and saw mother and child, seated at a tiny table, turned back to the doors and made my way back to my car, to the road, to work.

The sacrifice is worth it. For many reasons–for three, for one, for all of the above.

Even so, I miss my kids.