Do You Believe In Magic?

This piece was written originally two Christmases ago. I apologize to the handful of readers who have read this before. But I did say in my first piece on Of Vice And Zen that some of my old work would make its way onto this blog. Now it has a real title and a fun picture! As I sat down to write this week’s publication, I realized that I didn’t  have everything just the way I wanted it. Unlike my underwear and socks that will be put away days after I finished doing laundry, I want my writing to be completed wholly. In addition, I took my daughter to the doctor today (nothing serious), and experienced a moment that reminded me of this piece. She took control of the appointment, talking to the doctor in her own words. A helpless child was not standing in the room with me. I was in the company of a growing woman. It was a breath-taking and humbling moment. So, without further ado (I’ve always wanted to have a reason to say that)…

“How does that train not wake up his parents?”

This is heavy stuff. A question posed to me by my nine year old daughter while we decorate the Christmas tree and watch The Polar Express. This question inevitably leads to awkward answers we parents have to carefully supply to maintain the illusion of magic. Answers that often only lead to more questions and more awkward answers. Which then lead to more questions. I think I handled it like a pro. Vague, calculated responses that made me think a future in politics could be lucrative, assuming I actually knew anything about current events outside of my newsfeed. Don’t get me wrong; I would unfortunately rock any discussion concerning the status of the Kardashians or wildly inappropriate memes, but I’m not sure that knowledge would effectively run a country.

Regardless, I digress. What this random question triggered in me was a line of thought that brought a sadness. I came to the realization that this might be the last year this beautiful young lady believes in Santa. The rumors have already begun in her class. They revolve around rational thoughts leading to suspicions that their parents might very well be horrible liars who have manipulated them into being good (at least for the last couple months) by threatening the disappointment and passive aggressive wrath of a bearded fat man who spends an absorbent amount of time playing with toys and tiny slave workers.

Sadly, once the myth of Santa falters, soon follows the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the understanding that spinach can make one strong like Popeye, and the acceptance that Dad really did make that quarter disappear behind the ear. There goes the magic. I thought about this with immense disappointment. The passing from being a child of wonder to a person of skepticism.  But is that really the case? Not necessarily.

I smiled while I watched her put the last few ornaments on the tree. She has so many more moments of magic ahead of her. Are these moments about mythical people or creatures? No. But they will be no less powerful. They require an amazing recipe of hope, faith, joy, and unbridled belief in something bigger and far more mysterious in the world. I’ll touch on some of them. Feel free to add to the list your own magical moments post-fairy tale apocalypse.

  1. Although she’s already begun on a beginner level, she will discover her ability to cook, I mean really cook, her own dinner. Just a first step in becoming her own person who does not need to rely on Dad or Mom to provide sustenance. Small step? Perhaps, but there will come a moment when that kitchen will cease to be a bunch of cabinets and instead will have evolved into a playground of self-importance. How the magic will shine when I first taste one of the worst breakfasts I’ve ever had while smiling and nodding. Maybe I’ll go all out and do the whole circular belly rub to really drill the point home.
  2. As a father, I try to avoid thoughts of boys being in her life. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I suspect that she is beginning to realize that boys do not, in fact, have cooties. And someday, far before I’m ready, she’s going to find her first crush. The boy she draws hearts for. She’ll put his name inside that heart along with her own and a mathematical symbol. I would prefer the symbol be subtraction, but I don’t believe I’ve attended enough church in my life for that particular prayer to come true. That time, that first crush, is nothing short of magical. You and I, we each had one. Who was yours?
  3. The first real friends-date with no parents. Often, this is a time for a movie. She and her girlfriends will go to whatever awful movie is all the hype in the theater at the time. I like to think I raised her better and that she’d force them to appreciate Star Wars: Episode Nine, but those little teens are persuasive. However, the movie itself is pointless. This date is not about watching a movie. It is about freedom from those pesky parents. She will feel like a trusted and independent member of society. She need not know that Dad will probably be a block away with binoculars.
  4. If she’s anything like her father, she will explore the boundaries of the English language. I’m not referring to those words with multiple syllables. No. Those four letter words that often require random asterisks in written form so my grandmother doesn’t have a stroke while simultaneously shaking her head and planning an extra visit to church to pray for her grandson’s eternal soul. Those words have power. Using those words for the first time is to control the universe. Friends may ogle in surprise. Strangers who overhear them will look away in disgust (especially if they’re wonderful ladies like my grandmother). Parents will immediately become war-time torturers and interrogators at their mention. “I’ll take the soap out of your mouth as soon as you tell me who taught you that word!” Certainly, she won’t have learned it from Dad. Those words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and even entire sentences if used properly. Make me proud, baby girl, as soon you turn eighty and I’m gone.
  5. I will hold her arm as she walks stoically down an aisle surrounded by friends and family. She will look up and see the man she loves take a breath and wipe away a tear while he gazes at her. They will both say some things before he hugs her tightly. There will be no kissing at my daughter’s wedding. That day, that moment will make her believe in fairy tales again.
  6. A doctor or nurse will someday place a child on her chest. This child will have been conceived in a way that my church-going grandmother will understand better than me, as my daughter will have never so much as kissed her husband. But that child, that new life, will be a greater present than any given by ole Kris Kringle. Faith, joy, fear, hope, love. These are the center of magic.
  7. My daughter will decorate a tree with that child, much older now. She will talk about Santa and write his name on gift tags after the child goes to sleep. She will bake cookies and put them out on the coffee table to be eaten by herself (throwing them away would be both a waste and a dangerous breach of security should the child check the garbage in the morning). Diet be damned. Most importantly, she will again know the wonder of the mythical man who brought her so much joy in her youth, this time from a different viewpoint.

Yes, I left certain moments out. I did this for two reasons. First, as I said, you should fill in your own. Secondly, some moments are not meant for a father to recognize due to his daughter’s lack of anything resembling romance, and the fact that all men in her life will be eunuchs.

I don’t know much, but I know this: I will hold onto the childhood magic as long as I can. However, when it goes, I won’t be sad. Look at this life, baby girl. Look closely. Pick a card. Any card.

Advertisements

Turn the Page

books

What do you like to look at when you visit someone’s home for the first time?

There are the obvious first-impression items. Decorations, furniture, pictures. These things are all laid out and organized specifically to promote a particular impression of who a person is and how that person keeps his or her home. However, if most people’s homes are anything like my own, they aren’t entirely accurate. If I know I have company coming to visit, my first order is to tell my daughter to make her bed and find her bedroom floor. The glass coffee table, usually home to Littlest Pet Shop toys and delicately-placed fingerprints, is wiped down and the toys are replaced with the TV remotes that spend most of their time on the arms of the couch. The toilet is inspected to get rid of any rogue poo splatters that might have not flushed away. God forbid any guests assume I use that retched device for evacuating my bowels. I make sure the stove top is clean enough so as not to allude to any past events of feeding myself or my daughter. The throw on the back of the couch is replaced with one not covered in cat hair. My guests will naturally assume the cats use the cubby I bought for them. They do not. The bathroom counter will show no signs of me brushing my teeth, shaving, or wearing deodorant. Any evidence of having used the faucet will be eradicated. Scented wax will suggest that no part of my home has ever smelled like last night’s dinner or a fart. Luckily, I’m an excellent cook and those two cannot be confused.

These things are just what we do. We clean and organize. We make it clear that we are not people just like everyone else. But there are those items in our homes that give away our secret selves. They offer peeks into who we really are. I’m not referring to our medicine cabinets, despite some sociopaths feeling it is okay to find out if a homeowner is depressed or ever had a rash. I once had a friend come out of my bathroom and ask whose moisturizing gloves those were in my closed shower. Um, they were exfoliating gloves, Marcus. And they were mine. You freak.

My movie collection is extensive. It does offer a small look into my secret self. There are a lot of chick flicks. We’ve already established that I’m a crier. Although I love music, my collection isn’t very large. But music collections offer other previews. The problem is that it’s rare to listen to an entire album. Usually, a person skips to his or her favorite handful of songs. Likewise, movies only take a couple hours. There isn’t necessarily a lot of dedication involved in music or film.

Thus, I like to look at a person’s bookshelves. Bookshelves are beautiful open doorways into the soul. Most books take days or weeks to finish. That is a lot dedication in today’s busy world. A collection of books is like a map of someone’s passions and interests. The secret self on display right in clear view. Whereas we rearrange our coffee tables and bathroom counters to hide the messy day to day happenings, bookshelves are rarely altered for perception. No one thinks about it.

My own bookshelf represents me pretty well. It’s a five-shelfer. Not that I’m tall by any means, but I needed a shelf that would hold a lot of books. Every shelf is filled, with a few of my latest books resting on top of the others. I’m not terrific at letting go of things I enjoy. The top shelves are bowed from years of heavy hardbacks weighing down on them. I can relate to that. Sometimes I feel a little bowed myself. Although the books are fairly well organized, there is a certain chaos to their placement. I can definitely relate to that. The shelves often find themselves acting as the home to various trinkets belonging to my daughter. It currently houses a small bottle of blue raspberry-scented hand sanitizer, two Littlest Pet Shops, the game Jenga, and three smashed pennies with the logo from the St. Louis Zoo imprinted on them. As with the shelves, there is always a piece of my daughter with me. The most read and loved books have weathered edges on their covers, bent pages, and cracked spines. Like a person who has lived a full life, books also show their wrinkles, laugh lines, and scars. I have plenty of all of these.

One glance at those often dusty shelves, and you see the real me. An inscribed copy of the Holy Bible. I’m not a religious man, but it was a gift from the first woman I ever loved. I keep it to remind myself that faith comes in many forms. And that sharing your faith with someone isn’t always about religion. The collection of the What to Expect books. I read them front to back because I was terrified of failing as a father. While that dread never completely leaves, they helped me at least step into the business of parenting with some idea of what the hell I was doing. Most of Stephen King’s books. I was always an adept reader, but didn’t fall in love with reading until I stumbled across my first work of Stephen King in sixth grade. The book report was due in four days. I finished the book in three. A dictionary. Something about opening those musty pages when looking up a word is far more satisfying than Googling it on my phone. Psychology text books. I’m still fascinated at how a lump of sludge in our heads can do so much. The Idiot’s Guide to Playing Guitar. I have a classical guitar in my closet. And I can rock out probably a good four chords, no problem. Just don’t ask me to switch between those chords without doing that weird neck-crane move while I stare at my fingers. True crime and criminal investigation books. I know more about forensics, criminal investigation, and serial offenders than the average Joe. I try to avoid discussions on the topic with a woman until she has at least spent the night and left unharmed. First-date talk about serial killers and behaviorally profiling them generally doesn’t lead to a second date. The Lord of the Rings collection. Tolkien was one of the most dedicated writers ever. He insisted on having incredible back stories for his characters. He loved them and it showed. I’m still slightly upset I wasn’t allowed to name my daughter Eowyn. Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Dr. Seuss at its finest. This book is also inscribed. It was given to me by my sister when I graduated high school. It reminds me that, while I might not always have a clear idea of where I’m going, other people believe in me. And that children’s books don’t have to lose their potency just because we grow up. Robert Fulghum’s collections. Fulghum was introduced to me early in my original college career. He quickly became, and continues to be, my favorite author. Those books act as tokens that original plans don’t always turn out how we hoped. But also that we can always take something away from any situation. And that the written word has real power. These are only a handful of the doorways in the mansion that is me.

Unfortunately, with the creation of tablets, fewer and fewer people own actual books that can be displayed on shelves. Me? I’ll stick to my books. There is something so much more exciting about turning an actual page as opposed to scrolling a screen. Tablets don’t have that scent of old ink on yellowing paper. Stories on a piece of electronics can’t be transcribed. And I love having my secret self in plain view if you’ll only look hard enough.

The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow

is

A few weeks ago, I was driving my daughter to school. On the way, we passed an overweight man in mismatched clothing, huffing his way awkwardly down the roadside. His pace was less than breakneck. His attire was certainly not that of a runner. His form was something that would never be seen in any track and field event. In my mind, I made a snarky comment to the effect of, “There goes a New Year resolution.” And then I immediately wanted to punch myself in the genitals. This man, regardless of his reasoning, had made a conscious decision to get up in the early morning hours, put on whatever comfortable clothes he had, and begin a journey of healthier living. Kudos to you, sir! New Year, new you, as they say!

I have no idea whether or not that man stuck to his resolution. We’re now in the final stretch of the first month of 2017 and I haven’t seen him again. Perhaps he joined a gym or got his own equipment for home. Maybe he changed his jogging time or his route. No matter. The point is that I hope he’s still sticking with it. I sincerely hope he hasn’t allowed his New Year resolution to go the way of so many that are made and dismissed before the beginning of February.

Resolutions are amusing to me. Primarily because I’ve made so many over the three-plus decades I’ve been on this Earth. I stopped making them a long time ago. Failure is not something I enjoy. Somehow, saying it out loud, even to myself, opens the door for failure. I read somewhere that writing it down gives it more hold and power over you, as well as providing a visual reminder. I tried that once. I wrote down a resolution to be more organized. The piece of paper upon which I’d written the resolution was misplaced the next day. Irony is a saucy vixen.

In truth, I don’t know that I’ve ever successfully followed through with a resolution. I’ve heard that backdating your resolutions is a phenomenal way to feel good about yourself. Fair enough. Here we go.

–2006—I resolve to rapidly start losing my hairline.

–2007—I resolve to still be unmarried in a decade.

–2014—I resolve to play more video games.

–2015—I resolve to branch out more in my selection of adult entertainment.

–2016—I resolve to have more conversations with the cats while sipping cocktails.

Nailed it. I feel better already.

January 1st is merely another day in our lives. There is no reason to hold it to such standards. It isn’t magical. It isn’t a clean slate. But we have given it that honor. It provides a way for us to reset alongside millions of others. A purging of a past life in the company of like-minded individuals.

However, I’m a procrastinator. So are many of you. You know who you are. And we are ultimately optimists when you think about it. We are hopeful that there will always be enough time to finish what needs to get done. We’ll thrive off the chaos of rushing to finish something by a deadline. We’ll tell ourselves, “There is always tomorrow.” Every day gives us the opportunity to start new. I’m a Type A personality’s worst nightmare. I will absolutely get something done. I’ll simply do it in my own time and with my own casual flair. And you know what? I’ll live longer doing it. You can have all the stress and perfection in your life. I’m going to breathe and laugh in this disorder known as today.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start the laundry I was going to do yesterday.

Through the Looking Glass

230649_14425231946_2661_n

My interior decorating tastes have changed a lot over the years.

When I was really young, I was a dinosaur guy. I wanted to be an archaeologist. In retrospect, it was probably because I could spell the word and was fairly impressed with myself. I mean, dinosaurs were cool too, but look at me use that big word! Thus, I had a Brachiosaur coat rack hand-crafted by my grandfather up on my wall. I never hung a coat up there, but my G.I. Joes had some pretty intense adventures dangling precariously from those wooden rungs. Snake Eyes, you will be missed.

After discovering my step-father’s Playboys, the inside of my closet had some incredible art that was both beautiful and functional. To say he was upset to find all of his centerfolds missing would be an understatement.

In high school, my walls were littered with posters for bands I loved. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Spin Doctors, Bush, Led Zeppelin. I still miss my Led Zeppelin Swan Song poster. It was purchased at a head shop. The place was a dark and impressive haven that reeked of incense and innocence lost.

By college, I had upgraded from posters to cloth wall hangings. So many unbelievably drunk nights passing out on the top bunk under the watchful eye of Jim Morrison. He was also assuredly judging my self-abusing roommate who could not figure out that bunk beds shake, or that a roommate coughing and shifting above you is a subtle way to tell you to remove your hand from your pants. Creep.

For a while, once I had my own apartment, I got on a pretty solid Kim Anderson kick. For those who don’t recognize the name, Anderson does all the black and white pictures of kids in adult clothing doing adorable adult things like making out. There is almost always a rose or something similar that is in full color to offer contrast. The ladies who visited thought it showed a sensitive side. Those little monochrome kids got me a lot of action. However, there comes a time when a man having pictures of unknown children hung around his home becomes disturbing. Be free, you little freaks.

I recently started reflecting on my wall decorations during a bored late night pace session around my apartment. My daughter was at her mother’s house. It was that time of night where the vodka had done its job and placed me in a pleasant haze of relaxation. My fingers were tired of working the Xbox controller, so shooting and verbally degrading teenage boys online was put on hold. I needed a break from bingeing my shows. The cats had passed out so I couldn’t even have a conversation about who was or was not a handsome boy. And so, I paced and looked at my interior decorating choices for the last ten plus years.

My home is covered in photographs. My daughter’s birth prompted this shift. I was never a big picture-taker. I believed in living in the moment and that stepping out of the moment to take a photo was counter-productive. It wasn’t until I realized the power of photographs that my mind was changed.

To be fair, I am not a photographer. My pictures generally end up blurry with a significant portion of the subject of said picture missing. Don’t get me wrong. When trying to take photos of my daughter on a carousel at the zoo, I’ve come back with some incredible pictures of the kids directly in front of her. And don’t get me started on the masterpieces of my daughter’s back above the ass-end of the gazelle she was riding. Clear as day.

My older sister is the photographer in our family. She really is amazing. Although her family group photos are nice, it’s her ability to capture the candid shots that blows my mind. My favorite photos of my daughter ever are the result of my sister having that eye and sealing forever a precious moment. The Latin translation of photography is “drawing with light.” To that end, she is an absolute artist. Her artistry is what has helped me fully appreciate the pictures on my wall.

The utter beauty of photographs is that they tell so much more than what is shown on that little piece of paper. Behind every moment captured is a series of moments that led to that particular one. Every image on my wall is a rabbit hole. A fabulous leg of a journey through my own personal Wonderland. The picture at the top of this post is from my daughter’s second birthday party. She was offering me a taste of her cake because I had asked her if it was good. By merely looking at it, I am flooded with memories. It was a proud instant for me. She was not coveting the cake for herself. She was giving something of hers to me unselfishly. She was letting me know that we are companions in this world. That my efforts at teaching her to be a good person and to share had not been in vain. And that Care Bears are awesome.

With each picture, I remember not only being somewhere, but how it felt right then.

I can see me holding my daughter for the first time. But I can also remember how her skin smelled like something brand new and unjaded. How terrified and in awe I was at this tiny person in my hands. How I thought her mother was simultaneously the most vulnerable and strongest I’d ever seen her while bringing our daughter into this world. The panic I felt while racing to the hospital, worried that those train tracks were going to pop my little namesake right out. The night I found out I was going to be a father. All of these memories and emotions from one image on one piece of paper.

I can see myself laughing with my dad and brothers. What the photo does not show is the filthy joke that got us laughing in the first place. The comradery I felt right then with other men with whom I’d shared my entire life. How hungry I was waiting for the burgers ten feet away to finish cooking.

Senior pictures. Come on. What twisted sadist decided these would be a good idea? I won’t go into detail. Poorly constructed facial hair. Awkward poses. Clothing chosen by the parents. These, much as my mindset and attitude during my senior year, will haunt me forever.

My grandparents together at one of the last family functions I would ever see them. How unforced their smiles were standing side by side after decades of marriage. How Grandma kept referring to my daughter as “him.” Being a preteen and Grandpa taking me out to fly a model plane he had helped me construct. The awful smell of freshly-caught fish cooking in the kitchen. Nap time when I was little on their hideous orange couch.

Photographs are not only chapters in our autobiographies, but existential compasses simply by reminding us where we’ve been, and so where we should go. I invite you to pull out your old photo albums or take a stroll around your home. Go through the looking the glass.

The Tracks of My Tears

cry

I’m a crier. 

Man, it feels good to type it out there for the world to see. A lot like standing up front in an AA, NA, or SAA meeting. So I assume. For the record, I’m certainly not claiming to have ever been a member of any of these groups. On an unrelated note: Susan, if you’re reading this, I still need that swing and bondage kit you promised me.

Allow me to clarify what I mean when I say that I’m a crier. I’m not the kind of guy who tears up when he’s angry or feels physical pain. No, I pretty much fall into the guidelines of the “typical” man in those examples. I swear. A lot. I’ve punched quite a bit of furniture in my day for having the audacity to move in front of me at the last second. I’ve never considered kicking a dog, for any PETA readers. On the other hand, there have been brief mental flashes of what I would like to do to my two cats after rogue claws found their ways through my sweatpants and into my scrotum. Still, no tears.

The following is a list of things that have made or do make me cry:

  1. I once teared up at a Snuggles commercial. Don’t judge me. I’d had a long day and the commercial had a whole thing with a little girl, her dad, and a towel fresh out of the dryer. As a father to a beautiful young girl myself, that damn bear just got me.
  2. I don’t think it makes me any less of a man to admit that Sarah McLachlan and abused puppies are about the worst combination when one is attempting to maintain any sort of composure. Especially after cocktail number four.
  3. The first time my daughter looked (really looked) in my eyes. Her birth was beautiful and an amazing thing to witness. But my heart didn’t fully break until that first secret shared moment.
  4. Blind auditions on The Voice. As a music lover, I’m already on the edge just by the vocals. Combine those with everyday people rousing through song a room of strangers and a panel of musically-talented celebrity coaches, all while their friends and family watch from side stage. Add a dash of a mom crying from pride when the chairs turn, and it’s over.
  5. Oh so many movies and television shows. I’m a massive fan of cinema. The size of my personal collection is embarrassing. The content of that collection even more so. I’m a fan of chick flicks. The Fault in Our Stars? I barely typed that without going immediately into “the feels.” My two cats are named O’Malley and Karev. Yes. I named them after Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t care what you say.
  6. Weddings. The vows, the speeches, when the groom first sees the bride. I recently bartended a rehearsal dinner. I was legitimately disappointed that the bride and groom did not give speeches about one another. I hope those margaritas gave them horrible hangovers.
  7. Looking inside my wallet on any given day. To be honest, this creates more of a sense of panic than it does tears, but I figured seven items seemed like a solid list.

I’ve come to terms with being a crier. My ten year old daughter has also come to terms with me being a crier. I see her regularly out of the corner of my eye looking to my face when we witness any emotionally moving event. She just knows that my eyes are going to glisten a bit. I take that as a sign of emotional well-being in her. How else would she know when to check Dad’s face? If you’ve never seen Harry Potter, skip the rest of this paragraph. One of my proudest moments so far as a father came during the scene in which Dobby died. My daughter’s breath hitched next to me. Giant teardrops fell down her cheeks. She was emotionally invested in a film unlike I’d ever seen her. And she was comfortable enough to let it all out in front of me. I felt like I might be doing this whole dad thing some justice.

Crying and tears, though, are very interesting to me. I’ve done some research on tears and their purpose. Pretty much everything I’ve read suggests that scientists across the board agree that there are three types of tears. These are basal, reflex, and psychic tears. Without going into too much detail, basal tears are those designed to lubricate the eyeball itself. They’re the liquid that is excreted when we blink. Reflex tears are those that are produced when foreign objects or vapors make their way into our eyes. Think eyelashes, cutting up onions, or moving to one side of a camp fire to avoid smoke just so the wind can switch directions on you. Another marshmallow casualty due to temporary blindness. The third type of tears, psychic, are what really fascinate me. These are the tears that are produced when you injure yourself, feel heartbreak, or get sucked into a sadistic fabric softener commercial.

There is no empirical evidence that any species other than humans experience psychic tears. Even more interesting is that after decades of research, scientists still cannot come to a consensus as to the exact function of these tears. Babies, obviously, use them to communicate needs due to their limited vocabulary early in life, although my grandfather has fairly successfully communicated throughout my entire existence by a series of grunts from behind his pipe. A large number of scientists also hold that psychic tears are a way for us to show predators that we are not a threat. For example, as an overweight child, I used psychic tears in an attempt to avoid ass-kickings from Steve the Bully. I think I did it wrong. Another possible reason for psychic tears is to show openness and gain empathy from another. Personally, I found myself on more than one occasion cancelling break-ups with women (who might be deemed sociopaths) due to their watery eyes.

Beyond these ideas on emotional crying, there are still unanswered questions. Why do we sometimes cry from laughing so hard? Apparently, laughter and emotional crying are both controlled by the hippocampus in the brain. Maybe wires are just getting crossed. Why do I try to hold back psychic tears when in the company of others (resulting in my awkward “about to cry face,” as it has been lovingly labeled by friends), but find myself tearing up while watching a movie alone? I’ve been assured by my cats that my tears are useless on them. They will continue to be assholes who knock over random objects while I watch Finding Neverland, regardless of my tearful pleas for empathy.

I actually find the mystery behind human lacrimation to be beautiful. The saying goes something like, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” I’m not a religious man. The Bible and Heaven and Hell are pretty heavy and not something around which I can easily wrap my head. But I believe there is something that involves a type of grand design that connects us all. Perhaps what we call a soul is just each individual’s tiny piece in that grand design. And in trying to understand a soul, maybe it is exposed and shared with the universe through crying. So, bring on the vodka and YouTube videos of babies hearing their mothers’ voices for the first time. I have some soul searching to do.