- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
I’m up early to catch a flight to Miami. I can’t tell you how many worn Doug fir steps there are as I walk upstairs. In the dark my barefooted toes grasp and cradle their well-rounded nose like I’m hanging 5. The upstairs where the boys sleep is a mess. It reminds me a plane crash site littered with clothing, books, Legos and electronic debris. There’s more memory, data and power in their bedroom to rival the early Apollo program.
The air is heavy with sleep. I hug and kiss each of my boys and whisper I love you and listen to mom into their ears. I get to Henry who’s 14 going on 15 and sleeps in our old king size bed. It’s actually Sam’s bed but he’s away at college. I go to my old side of the bed and stretch over to where Henry is sleeping. He’s sweating while I give him a hug and we give each other a weird high-five knuckle handshake. I tell him not to worry about school and that everything will be okay.
I think of myself at 14, learning how to surf, listening to music that I’m still listening to today and the Miami Dolphins.
I’m sitting in the new Marlin Park on the former site of the Orange Bowl watching 2 teams I care nothing about but loving the sport. I think about my team, The Dodgers, about wins and loses – it doesn’t really matter. I remember sitting in this very place during a Monday Night Football game Uncle Bob took me to. We parked on the lawn in front of someone’s house. – The Dolphins playing the Benagals or the Bears. A time warp hits me like this Mojito I just slurped down like an Icee from the 7-11 on Oakland Park Blvd.
On the plane I’m listening to Dylan, blending the spirit and the real world together like nobody else can ever do.
Henry who is just 14 but looks a lot older. I try to catch myself using the word “just”- it diminishes it keeps it small but really he’s just 14. May You Stay Forever Young.
It’s only the end of January. Our kids’ baseball gloves are laying around the yard untouched since the World Series. The Dodgers are for sale for a healthy 1 billion dollars. Prince Fielder just signed with the Tigers. I’m raking the leaves and I find a baseball in the yard. I pick it up. It’s water logged and it smells like oregano and wild mint. I grip the ball prepared to throw a 2 seam curve ball and do the math in my head. Only 3 months till Opening Day.
And then there was one. The end of the 2012 baseball season will end on the road tonight for the Dodgers in an indoor stadium in what once was a desert in Arizona where coyotes once howled at the moon.. The Diamondbacks are going to the playoffs. The Dodgers are not. Those who know me know I’m a Dodger fan. I know what is like to win the division but I also know what it’s like to sit in The left fieldÂ PavilionsÂ as Jack Clark drilled hisÂ pennant winning home run off of TomÂ Niedenfuer in the 9th inning to knock the Dodgers out of the of the 1985 NLCS. I also knowÂ all to well what it is like to have a losing year. Even though the Dodgers will finish with a winning record, this was a losing year. The Dogers lost their innocence. A Giant fant was beaten into a coma in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day. Then there were the usual excuses for losing- injuries, a new manager, some players getting old. But the clincher was on June 27 (my birthday) when the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy and the owner’s dirty laundry started stinking up Dodger Stadium. We started to find out that this billionaire from Boston knew more about expensive homes, lavish vacations, having psychics on the payroll, and paying his former wife (who maintains she is a co-owner of the Dodgers) 1,000,000 a month in spousal support and knew nothing what it’s like to be a fan. How can a guy spending $80,000 to go to the Superbowl know what it’s like to be a Dodger fan? There was a couple of weeks that went by when I didn’t even turn on the radio to listen to the game.
It’s getting harder and harder to to watch this great game of baseball. It’s getting harder and harder to explain to my kids why some stadiums change their names every few years and, why Manny isn’t on the Dodgers this year and what an owner lock out is. The simple answer is greed. And you try to teach your kids that it’s not okay to be greedy but at the same time try to explain to them that it is okay to hit a guy with a pitch in the ass if he deserves it. Preserving the innocence of the game is our duty as parents (and owners). You sing (not just lip sync.) “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” during the 7th inning stretch with your kids. You tell them that Helen Dell used to play Â ”The King of the House” on the organ when Orel Hershiser did his warm up tosses, and you show them Vin Scully through binoculars in a suit and tie in the Dodger press box on a blistering hot Sunday day game. You tell them, “Wait till next year.”
So here we go. It’s late. I’m just getting over a strange achy cold which kept me in bed for two days and not eating anything for three. My pants are a bit baggy. I’ve plowed through James Ellroy’s American Tabloid which left me with a pretty stale taste of Americana in my mouth that complimented my achy flu like symptoms quite nicely. The Kennedy’s, Jimmy Hoffa, Howard Hughes and too many Top Hoodlum names to keep straight. But wait. Let’s start with today, the present…. The alarm went off at 6:15 ish. I could actually get out of bed, and not feel dizzy or queasy. So far so good. Ollie is stirring in his bed. I ask him what does it look like out the window and he says in that gravely voice of his, “It’s going to be clear.” I put Simon in bed with Debbie and they cuddle. Two baby squirrels frolic in the tree outside the window and the day seems to…well, unfold.
I make an espresso for myself and a cappuccino for Debbie. I’m pulling Roman Espresso from Blue Bottle Coffee at the present. I’m liking it, but it’s giving Debbie too mucho buzz. She’s making the boys little wieners for lunch so they are happy. Beds are made, Raison Bran for breakfast, dishwasher chores are finished, all teeth are brushed, sunblock on(sort of), tea tree oils, lavender, neem oil potion sprayed on heads to act as lice defense. We are running a bit tardy, nothing major. But then it happens. Â I say,” Henry, let me hold your book report ( that you’ve been working on for weeks and is due first thing this morning and that you worked so hard on) while you put your tennis bag where it belongs.” I start loading Simon and his lunch into the car. Water spills all over Henry’s book report. Debbie says very calmly, “he’s not going to be happy about this.” Henry comes to the car see’s his report and this is where it all breaks loose. He claims that he didn’t cry. I guess no tears actually left their ducts and streamed down his cheeks. But, he did yell, scream and stomp his feet. He says he’s not going to school. I got an idea. Debbie says, good luck and pulls away.
We walk back into the house. I dig out this old hair dryer that was left at a Target photo shoot many years ago. It was a really fun shoot where we shot a white bull terrier with the red Target logo painted around her eye. The dog was great. She was old and stinky, not a good listener and couldn’t stand up for very long. I think her name was Ariel or Â Arsenal something like that, Â it doesn’t matter, what matters is that the trainer left the hair dryer and we’ve had it all these years. I give the dryer to Henry. He goes to work and his book report is good as new. I drive Henry to school a few minutes late. Wait. This story is not over. Back home. I’m getting work done. I’m going to Mt. Hood next week so I’m prepping that job.Â Â I was on a shoot last week in SFO, it was Debbie’s birthday on Friday, she flew up to see her grandma who she hasn’t seen in years, met me for dinner and we flew back home the next morning. I have a few hours to get everything done before the pick up train begins. It’s a very complicated schedule that involves, swimming, tennis, and Theo’s 3rd grade class play at 5:00. Thank heaven for grandmas.
I’m in the car. I just merged from the 10 east Â to the 110 north and I’m just passing Staples Center and out of the corner of my eye right on top of Staples I see Ariel, the Target dog on a big digital billboard flashing on and off. It’s our photo, I’m sure. It’s so weird.
I’m meeting with Sara Cummings who designed our website. She’s been teaching me a little of Flash so I can update our website myself. Todays lesson: How to update your website and not screw things up. I think I’ve got things under control now. She’s a great designer and illustrator. You should check out her site http://sarajaneillustration.squarespace.com/blog/
The pick up train begins. Tennis courts and swimming pools go zooming by. The 3rd grade play is very cute. Theo is a little, how shall I say, Â hesitant about performing in school plays. I was the same way. I dreaded them when I was a kid. This year it’s the Native American myth of The Rainbow Bridge. It’s a great story of the Chumash people filled with magic plants, an earth goddesses, snakes and dolphins. Theo played one of the Villagers. He didn’t have any lines and I think he lip synced the group songs. Way to go Theo.
Back at home it’s a quick dinner and shower time. It’s Jackie Robinson Night at Dodger Stadium. Everyone in baseball, umpires included all wear Jackie’s #42. I read the boys “Testing The Ice” about Jackie Robinson’s life written by his daughter. I try to explain the Negro Leagues and segregation but it’s bed time and they just want to get into their sleeping bags and go to dreamland. It’s late, The Dodgers are in extra innings for the second consecutive night. The voice of Vin Skully is intertwined with this post and I look up and I see the same window where the baby squirrels were frolicking this morning. The shade is drawn and it’s dark. Time for bed.
Sam, who turned 15 on May 27, has been on vacation for only 2 days and is already quite bored with summer. There are no waves and he has no interest in going hiking with his grandma or interning at our friends design studio. Oh yes to be 15 again! He reluctantly got up early with his brothers, who still have a couple more weeks of school, to open a few hand made cards and be part of the morning rush to get out of the house.
As luck had it, the Dodgers played a day game in Colorado and the birthday boy was given the gift of Vin Scully on the radio and a 3 game sweep of the Rockies.
Sam’s dinner request was cheese burgers, french fries, Caesar salad and Beard Papa for dessert. You can read all about dinner on Sam’s food blog.
Just as the burgers were served, Henry noticed it was almost 6:38- the time Sam was born right down the block 15 years ago.
It’s another crazy night around here. It’s late, Ollie is upset that his whoopee cushion and rubber chicken he got as gifts have already broken, Simon has somehow ended up in the bath tub in a wetsuit, the kitchen is pretty messy from the festivities, and there’s a chihuahua in our dishwasher.Â It’s noisy, chaotic and sometimes I feel like screaming, “what have we done!”Â But, last night while getting ready for bed, Debbie asks me, ” did you ever think while holding a new born Sam in your arms 15 years ago that there would actually be 4 more where those came from?” It’s reminders like that which anchor you to this earth. It’s reminders like that which make you feel light and untethered. It’s reminders like that which makes you feel good and comfortable and make you think that we are truly blessed.