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At the very least I’ve always attempted to demonstrate a grain of critical thought. Not that my blog subjects are always worthy of it. But I try to be capable of doing so.

Blog or not, we could say that critical thought is pretty big deal, right? Without it we do exactly what we’re told. We blindly follow the first cult leader we meet. We heed the advice of Dr. Phil to the T. We go to McDonalds every day. By the end we’ve become fat losers, sitting on the commune couch, doing our Dr. Phil affirmations, eating Big Macs as we’re about to drink some funny-smelling Kool-Aid that we’re told tastes like transcendence. I’ve always been a worst-case-scenario kind of guy.

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It’s not fair.

We could even say that critical thought is, in part, that which separates us humans from the golden retriever in the back yard chasing the nearest squirrel then the nearest squirrel then the nearest squirrel…

What am I without it? I’m starting to learn.

I began writing this in an effort to figure out why I have not done a blog in a while. Pretty sure I know the answer and that critical thought, or lack thereof, has a lot to do with it. But before I reveal the culprit, I have to point out that I’m writing a blog about why I haven’t written a blog, which in and of itself is a testament to how far off track I’ve veered. This act is only half a step removed from the clichéd writer who writes a story about a writer writing. I’ve fallen so far, and I didn’t even start that high. My standards are gone.

Q: Why no blogging lately? A: I got no critical thoughts for latching onto. It’s blank up there. Emotion and instinct echo through otherwise empty space. And there is, in fact, a singular source of my brand new simplicity of mind. She’s an unrelenting, crazy-haired force, drool strings emanating from her mouth, and occasionally the origin of a funky odor.

It’s my daughter’s fault.

I can’t help it. I can’t overcome the fact that she is six months old, and she is undeniably, insufferably cute. Amazing. Everything, EVERYTHING, she does is lovely. And this cuteness cannot exist side by side with any degree of scrutiny because everything I see, every thought I have, every analytical inkling that crawls across my brain disperses and circles back… to… cute.

I am the proverbial putty. I am the blathering mess.

She peed on me as I held her the other day and smiled while she did it, and I found it perfectly adorable in every way. After enduring a moment like that, how can I expect myself to ponder some labyrinthine literary theory, as I am often wont to do on a Saturday night, maintain the criteria I set for myself, or just write a simple blog about why WWE wrestling is more entertaining than musical theater?

I’m in trouble.

Cuteness is a close cousin to emotion, and as far as I can tell, emotion is incompatible with critical thought. Imagine a chess master furrowing his brow, about to sacrifice his knight in order to capture his opponent’s queen. If he let’s cuteness wander in, he suddenly changes course because he feels bad for killing the horsey. Who knows, the royals may turn it into dog food.

The cuteness wouldn’t be a matter for discussion if it took a rest. But it’s relentless. It envelopes everything, it surrounds me – a big pink bubble gum force field that itself simultaneously generates more cuteness and holds it in. Recharging, perpetual cuteness. Cuteness on top of cuteness. I can’t disregard it. I can’t question why it’s there. This is what it feels like to be mauled by kitties.

The strangest part is when I remember I used to have standards, standards that were based on my moderate reasoning talents. Standards for my writing and my interests, standards for myself, my ways, my blah blah… I don’t know. All I know is that I ate a mushy apple the other day even though anyone who knows me knows that if there’s one food I can’t stand, it’s a mealy, mushy apple. I’ve always been good at thinking about my apples, good at chucking them across a parking lot in disgust, cursing them out of my life, being irritated at them. I’ve been good at getting wrapped up in the criticism that reinforces those standards – criticism of apples or otherwise. But now these protracted moments pop up, moments in which the world is quite round.

Sigh.

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Here we go. I can feel it creeping in as I watch her attempt to chew on her own foot. It’s like the captivation of daydreams, being led helplessly through curves. What was I saying? She’s babbling, imploring her toes forward, squealing at them for being so remarkable. Those toes. She’s explaining in jabbers that she feels bad for the slobber bath that’s about to befall them, but they’ve brought it on themselves. It’s what happens when one loves ones toes so much – the way of the world. She gives me no choice. I’m a goner. Adios. And in a moment that’s coming up more frequently, I think how we ought to get a dog someday, a poorly behaved dog that does silly things. We’ll play with him in the back yard, running crazily through the trees, and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.

-MC JLight and Loretta

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My dad. Looking for that change I was supposed to give back.

If Mother’s Day is a sonnet, Father’s Day is a bullet point list. Dads don’t need the fancy words or deep sentiment (although it’s me, so I can’t guarantee a sentiment-free post, try as I might). Just a simple, straightforward shock-and-awe campaign of thanks. I will shock and awe you with my thanks because I’m glad you’re my dad! Sounds aggressive, but I’m pretty damn thankful. So here we go… I present the Father’s Day Bullet Point List of Dadness Day Listings Day of Dad Awesomeness:

 

  • If, as I mentioned in my Mother’s Day blog, mom is the original Jedi, then dad is the original Han Solo: less of the touchy-feely force stuff, more gumption, mechanically inclined, weathered, experienced, can always get you out of a jam. Han Solo dads may not always be so elegant and light-sabery, but they get the job done. Just like Han, dads tell you to toughen up. They act tough. Sometimes dads take you to sketchy bars where you cavort with bounty hunters.

 

He may not look like Han Solo, but he's done the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Way faster than your dad.

  • So you’re in a bar cavorting with bounty hunters. You ask, Dad, why are we here, in a bar with bounty hunters? And he says, It’s good for you. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. And at the moment he’s never been more obtuse. You scrunch your nose like something stinks and it does because you’re confused out of your small mind. You can’t imagine why he would utter such a thing. Eventually this moment passes, but there are others throughout your life. They are always uncomfortable or annoying or just plain maddening. Maybe it’s not always bounty hunters and bars like it was with my dad. Maybe it’s making you paint a fence against your will or pressing you take the heat for a ball through the neighbor’s window or making you read some boring, esoteric book. It’s always, he says, good for you. You still don’t get it. Time passes. After a while you come to expect his insistence on certain things. You oblige with less resistance. Then one day when you’re older it hits you: Dad was right. It was good for me. You still can’t fathom exactly how he was right or how he knew or how this forced apology or that chore helped you, but it did. It made you responsible, resilient, and capable. And Dad knew it would.

 

  • Dad gives good advice: move your thumb away from that nail, always check the oil, keep your hands off that girl, if that boy touches you then kick him in the balls, save your money, take it easy with the lighter fluid, check your mirrors, work hard, always be honest.

 

  • Dad gives the craziest advice: if you’re thirsty just suck on a rock, don’t ever ask for permission to play golf, if the ball is coming toward you lean into it and go to first, open it with your teeth, if it smells okay it’s okay to eat, always be honest.

 

  • Let’s be clear about one thing: golf is the most irritating game ever conceived. Sometimes I wonder if it was a joke that a few Scots dreamed up to see how stupid mankind really is. I’ve invented more creative cussing combinations on the golf course than I have anywhere else. All this and I continue to play this ridiculous sport. Why? Because I grew up playing it with my dad. He taught me everything I know and each time I go out—even when he’s not with me—I think about playing golf with him. I think about Dad trying to putt on the sand greens at the old Byers course and his congratulations after the first, and only, time I hit the ball straight. I think about watching the US Open with him on Father’s Day. So through all the discomfort of playing golf, there is a great deal of comfort because it’s Dad’s game. And though I may be an idiot for playing, it’s reassuring to know that there’s another idiot who I regard in high esteem with me.

 

  • Dad takes you on adventures. A few samples from the Bill O’Dell collection: canoeing in a gator-infested swamp (the canoe turned over), taught me to drive a manual transmission when I was about 10, careening down more the Strasburg overpass sled hill, whitewater rafting adventures, more hikes than I can count, an ocean liner gambling binge, several ill-advised ski runs, and many seedy restaurant visits because said restaurant has a “good patty melt.”

Me and Dad on an adventure.

  • Dads keep you safe. As a kid I would wake up in the middle of the night. I could never get back to sleep. So the drill was for me to go get my dad and wake him up. He would sleepily grab a blanket and pillow and take up a post on the living room couch while I tried to go back to sleep in my room. Being alone just didn’t feel right. It was dark. The house was creaking. Something in my overactive brain wouldn’t let me sleep when it was just me. But when Dad was there it was okay. Every so often I would call out, Dad? Yes, he’d say, patiently waking up. I’d pause for a minute, Just wanted to make sure you were still there. And he was always still there. So I fell asleep.

 

Dad,

  • You’re an awesome dude.
  • You have always put your family first and I admire you for that.
  • Thanks also for making me do things I didn’t want to do. I’m a better man for it.
  • I hope that I have it in me to be the same amazing father for my daughter as you have been for me.
  • I will need some more good/crazy advice.
  • You’ve done a great job raising four pieces of work. I mean that in a good way. We love you. Happy Father’s Day.

One of my favorites.