Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Open Mic Night Jitters

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2009 at 11:00 pm

I first picked up the acoustic guitar when I was still in high school.  Two and a half chords later the swift winds of adolescence had borne me on to the next thing, but the seed had been planted.

Janelley became the proud owner of a nice guitar well before we were married, and there it sat through a series of living rooms in northeast Minneapolis.  The elephant in the room, the meat in my molars, the languishing item at the bottom of my lifetime to-do list.

“Dude, do you play?” first time visitors would often ask, “What songs do you know?”  No, and none.  Until last fall.

The seed was watered on a lakeside summer evening when my father-in-law showed me a few chords and encouraged me to start playing.  Nobody warned me about the pain involved in learning the guitar.  My left hand and fingers protested, but I played through the pain and before a month had passed I was able to sing and play at the same time without setting off neighborhood dogs.

Now, nine months later, my gestating talent is about to be born on stage in the form of an open mic night performance at the Red Raven Espresso Parlor.

Despite my experience with public speaking as a wedding officiant and a small town childhood including numerous performances as a singer, I am nervous.  My act of calculated bravery has involved attending several open mic nights as a spectator, and I have found the performers to be a group of talented if inexperienced musicians.  Wish me luck!

The Promise of Feminism

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

To the editor:

My mother-in-law lent me a magazine and it is blowing my mind.  Now normally it takes more than a magazine to accomplish this feat, so allow me to explain.  It is the May 1974 issue of Ms. featuring a section on fathers.  A new father holding his daughter is pictured on the cover, actor Donald Sutherland argues that fathers have a place in the delivery room, and a piece on working fathers showcases the variety and flexibility that can be achieved in modern family life.  It is hard for me to reconcile the promise and fighting optimism of the mid-70’s feminist with the reality on the ground as we approach the early twenty-teens.

Despite the questionable fashion choices and the overwhelming number of cigarette ads, it would appear that 1974 has it all over on us when it comes to equality of the sexes.  There are several parenting themed media outlets here in Fargo-Moorhead that are unabashedly for and about women, with the token “Dads” area thrown in to make it inclusive.  The Forum’s “Moms” section is a case in point.  It is a well designed website and I believe it to be a great resource for caregivers such as myself, but why in the world does the title exclude half of all parents?

Political correctness has earned a reputation for torturing phrases until they become ridiculous in order to appease minority groups, yet sometimes a discriminatory phrase can do real damage in the marketplace of ideas.  Could you imagine if the jobs section of the online newspaper was titled “Working Men”?

Lukas Brandon

Full-time father, part-time professional caregiver, juggler, writer

Supporting our troops by using less oil

Supporting our troops by using less oil

Bicycle Breakdown

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2009 at 10:24 pm

It was the kind of day that makes some folks pine for January: hot and humid.  The air was heavy, the skies mostly cloudy, yet I was loving it!  Once one becomes accustomed to perspiring in public, high humidity can be embraced as an accessible form of exercise.  Just grab an iced tea, kick back, and let the water weight pour off of you.

We loaded up the bicycle trailer for a brief trip to the grocery store with playtime soon to follow, but Fate intervened with her own ideas, which always seem to trump my illusions of self-determination.  I took a right turn onto a busy street for a one block dash to the relative safety of a residential road when the rear tire began rubbing against the frame, causing us to slow dramatically at the most dangerous moment.

Pulling into a parking lot, I discovered that the wheel could be adjusted easily enough, but would not hold its position without being tightened by a wrench.  My face was the Red River of the North, flooding its banks with torrents of sweat as I struggled to both hand tighten the nuts and keep a grip on my sanity.  Dylan kept his cool, sitting patiently as I explained that we would have to walk the bike home first to fix it, then we would go shopping and play.

The equanimity of a toddler in the face of disappointment is rare and inspiring, so I lifted the bicycle by the seat and began the arduous trek home.  Eventually we would go shopping, we did in fact play at a few parks, but in that moment of adversity my little boy reminded me that although plans may go awry, it is up to us to make the best of the situation.  I also learned to carry a wrench.

Delayed Gratification

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2009 at 9:59 pm

What a wonderful day!  Dylan and I had a great morning, a really fun trip through north Fargo via bicycle and trailer, and now an opportunity to play guitar and write while Nappy McGee catches a few zzz’s.

The key to today’s peaceful morning was Dylan’s growing ability to understand “later”. This is a major breakthrough as it allows me to say the word “swimming” before we arrive at a pool and not cause a major disturbance.  The concept of delayed gratification seems to be another one of the major problems of toddlerhood that most adults I know are still working on (myself included).

Manyways, we loaded up our swim gear and put our three part plan into motion: first the bank, next the elephant park, then swimming in the big outside pool with the waterfalls (Fargo North High School).  Dylan won the candy battle at the bank, eating two pieces right away and grabbing one more on the way out the door for “later”.  Sure enough, Dylan did not forget, calmly stating “Now I eat the red candy,” as soon as we stopped at the park.

After going through all of the playground equipment, Crackerface wanted to run.   We ran and played in the grass for a bit when an idea hit me – we could run the bases!  We started  at home plate by pretending to hit a pitch, running to first base, standing for a moment, then running to the next until we reached home and scored.  Several other kids joined us and I observed some other parents laughing as they watched me trying to pass on the mechanics of baserunning to the next generation.

The pool was open when we arrived and I had just enough spare change for admission, which came to $4.65 for the two of us.  Dylan remained calm and continued to accurately predict the near future as we changed into our swimwear.  He told me that first we would shower then go play in the waterfall, reminding me that much of the frustration in my own world can be avoided if I have an idea of what is going to happen next.  It was a very busy pool with lots of kids, vigilant lifeguards, and a high ratio of bikini babes to shirtless dudes (not that I noticed), precisely the kind of mayhem that will wear a boy out.

Helmethead fell asleep in the trailer on the way home and remained sleeping as I carried him upstairs and laid him down still wearing his wraparound sunglasses.  My wife and I will be away from Dylan for a few days on a camping trip and it strikes me that although I will miss him, knowing that we will be able to play “later” makes all the difference in the world.

Happy Fourth of July!