A Storm, A Mom and Daughter, and Some Candles


I haven’t written in forever, and hate it when that happens….The last three days here have been nearly 100 degrees, and just awful humidity.  Are you familiar with DC weather, so typical?   Then last evening we had a terrific storm that knocked the power out beginning around 7 pm.  All I could think of was, “great, another Friday night sitting at home alone in the dark.”  I texted my sister in Minnesota to tell her of my predicament.

Just before the storm, I had ordered a pepperoni and jalapeno pepper pizza to be delivered by my low-brow favorite, Pizza Movers, and it arrived shortly after the storm.  The driver told me that power was out in their shop, but my pizza had made it into the oven and was baked just as the storm hit, so I was one of the lucky few who got their order in and delivered this evening. 

Just as I sat down to eat, in the dusk glow coming into my dining room, my neighbor sent me a text saying that her power was out, and wondered if I were at home.  I texted her back inviting her and her daughter over for dinner, and she wrote back saying she’d bring candles and matches, since she knew I had neither.  They had just finished eating their own homemade(!) pizza, and came over bearing Hampton Beach seashells as gifts, and not the bottle of white wine since I don’t drink white wine much.  

As I tucked into the pizza, the mom and daughter duo punched me with questions, wondered why I always order from Pizza Movers, and not Roscoe’s Neapolitan Pizzeria (which is just down the street and is a really great restaurant with great wood fired oven pizzas, or that other place on Georgia Avenue in Takoma, I can’t remember the name, but apparently even they have great pizza.

I told them that there was something about the pedestrian-ness of Pizza Movers that I really liked: the corner location with the cracked window, the walls plastered with menus, the delivery guy who likes to talk to my daughter, the cardboard, almost Domino’s-like quality of the pizza crust.  I could go on, by why bother, you get the point.

T said it was the Midwestern in me.

The three of us sat in my living room by candle light and talked for hours, O revealing stories of her days as a cheerleader (those days didn’t last long – she’s much too real for that crowd, and has lots of other things going on), her purchase of a Bushnell telescope to feed her growing interest in astronomy, deep space, and all things philosophical in that galaxy, Star Trek, universe reversing itself kind of way (the crazy dude selling the Bushnell asked for FIVE dollars.  O gave him a TEN and told him to keep the change.  This was a 500 dollar telescope in perfect shape), and her and her mom’s days on Hampton Beach collecting the seashells she gave me as a gift for me showing her how to tie-dye her t-shirts a couple of weeks back.   

She said that since she didn’t have a father, she wanted to wish me a happy father’s day.  I just took note of what she said, not ever knowing anything about her dad or her mom’s former husband.  I just knew they lived alone and never saw a guy hanging around.  One day maybe I’ll ask.  But we talked about all kinds of things, T and I drank a few beers, and O had two of her Pomegranate Izzys (they’re fizzy) I keep in the fridge for just such occasions. 

All the while the power was being restored.  Supposedly. 

They borrowed my flashlight, and walked home taking two of their candles and leaving one for me.  It must have been nearly midnight, and the power had yet to be restored.

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Moving On

Class of 2025

A couple of weeks ago, maybe a month ago, the whole school was in rehearsal for today.  Learning new songs, writing up speeches, memorizing the words, practicing the sentences, working on the choreograph (arms waving overhead), getting excited.  The preschoolers would be ready to move up; the kindergarteners (or is that kindergartenors?) ready to move on.  Graduate.

Wear your handsome suit daddy and a tie.  Oh not the fat clown suit?  No, that’s not a good one to wear.  Not a good look.  You know the one to wear.  I’ll have on a fancy dress, and Momma will also wear a fancy dress.  We’ll all look nice for graduation.  Gowns and mortar boards?  No way.  Plenty of pomp though, without the circumstance. 

Introductions, songs, Hello to All the Children of the World; This Pretty Planet; Mon Petit Chat and Le Kangourou (My Little Cat and Kangaroo for all you non-Francophonians); Somewhere Out There; Dona Nobis Pacern (I have no idea, is that Latin?); What a Wonderful World (Oh Yeah); and How Could Anyone Ever Tell You; speeches, Lexi’s speech.

My name is Lexi Rust Sip.  I am four years old.  I will be staying at the school next year.  I will miss all my friends who are leaving the school.


I have a daughter who loves to smile and blow us kisses from the stage.  Practicing for a future on Broadway or Hollywood or something.  Flash bulbs going off.  She hops onto the red carpet, sashays over and joins us long enough for a couple of photographs to be taken, then jets off screaming to play with her friends. 

After the hour-long ceremony of songs, a quick brunch featuring the signature family lasagna contribution to the potluck.  Confession, I’m one of those parents who worries that the dish I’ll contribute will go untouched.  Brunch nearly over, chaos in the gymnasium, with 50 preschoolers running wild.  Keeping fingers crossed here as we watch them go crazy with each other, grinning, laughing, yelling.  Making their summer plans.

What are you doing this summer?  Where are you going?  Where will you be?  Will you be coming back next year?

Special thanks to all the parent volunteers who worked so hard to make this event run smoothly and successfully.

2/3rds of the lasagna was eaten.  A sigh of relief.  A daughter in kindergarten next fall.

Posted in Bad Dad, Child, children, Dad, Daddy Bloggers, Family, Fatherhood, Life, parenting, Parenting Blogging, Preschool | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My B-Film Fest Weekend

This weekend was a score on the cult/bizarre/gore-fest/camp B-movies – this is what happens when my daughter is out-of-town and I have way too much time on my hands!  I’m now watching what could very well likely be the worst movie ever made, Troll, and naturally I’m glued to the screen throughout the whole thing.  Get this cast: Michael Moriarty as a character named (believe it or not) Harry Potter.  In the movie, Harry has a son, aptly named Harry Potter, Jr.  Knock yourself out, J.K. Rowling.  This flick came out a good decade before she made the character a household word.  Could it actually be that J.K. drew inspiration from this thing?!  Naw, but who knows?

Shelley Hack plays Harry’s wife.  Remember Shelley from her days as an Angel, as in Charlie’s?  She was the angel alongside Farah Fawcett, for only one season, who, upon retiring from the Angels turned post-war Bosnia activist.  Wait, there’s more.  Sonny Bono plays a mad swinger who gets turned into a green pickle plant pod. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a few years before hitting it big in Seinfeld, plays something or other and also gets turned into green slime.  And my favorite, June Lockhart, last seen as the hot-mom-astronaut in the campy and fabulous, Lost in Space, plays a good witch.  “Danger, Will Robinson” for sure.  And she’s still kind of hot 20 years later in this 1985 movie.  Geez.  Way over the top.  So much so, that they actually made a Troll 2, which of course I also rented for this crazed weekend.  And which, of course, was also terrible; even worse than Troll

Rounding out the weekend film fest were Norway’s The Troll Hunter (totally unrelated to Troll and Troll 2); Hobo with a Shotgun, starring everyone’s favorite bad-ass, Rutger Hauer in the titular role.  Need I say more about this one?!  13 Assassins, the Takashi Miike film of a bunch of under-utilized samurai recruited for a suicide mission to kill a newly appointed leader, or die defending their honor; The Perfect Host, starring David Hyde Pierce as a lunatic, like the lunatic younger brother psychiatrist he played to Frazier, but far more evil, and way funnier.  Death Race 2000 by my fave, Roger Corman, starring Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine as cross-country race car driving rivals scoring points by killing pedestrians.

When I told a colleague that this is how I spent my weekend, watching these B’s, and running down the list of them, she reacted with a mixture of disgust and horror, and wondered aloud how I could do this, saying she couldn’t believe anyone would do this.  My response: What can’t you believe?  That I would watch these films, or that I would actually fess up to it in public?

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Hotline, Hotline, Calling on the Hotline….


Disco Craze

It’s Sunday evening, and I’m watching Sam Raimi’s Darkman, after sitting on my favorite mosquito-less patio during an unseasonably warm Spring in Washington, DC, drinking a Port City Brewing Company, Alexandria, Virginia, Optimal Wit, which is a Belgian Style White Ale brewed with spices (aren’t they all?) reflecting on our Saturday evening late night (7:30 PM) drive home from BounceU (which is a whole ‘nuther story) with my daughter.

Wash-FM 97.1 was playing its usual program of 70’s Disco.  There was KC and the Sunshine Band singing Get Down Tonight, which Lexi asked about, wondering of the name of the band; ABBA singing Dancing Queen; Hall and Oates singing I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do); A Taste of Honey singing Boogie Oogie Oogie, the Trammps singing That’s Where the Happy People Go, Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation, the Sylvers singing Hot line, Hot line, Calling on the Hot line, for Your Love, for Your Love (clap, clap).  Hot line, Hot line, Calling for Your Loooooove.  Her all time favorite; singing it all the way home; grooving all the way. 

But before we got home, she told me about the back-story to this hit song of the 70’s.

According to this young Dancing Queen strapped into her 5-point harness in her booster seat in the back, this song has its origins in a 911 emergency call to the fire department (never mind that the 911 emergency call system wasn’t widely known in the 70’s) complaining of a hot, hot house on fire.  The fire department truck arrived with its love and water hoses, eventually dousingthe fire.  Everybody happy. 

My own brief brief career as a disco king wannabe was snuffed out way too early, when the Illinois drinking age went from 19 to 21; fake plastic IDs with phony ages, scarily purchased in the back rooms of greasy head-shops, went out of style; and the Red Apple Discotheque on the Illinois-Indiana border began enforcing the new law.  I was toast, and my days of doing the bus top were over.  But actually, for the odd sub-genre the disco craze left us, it was, for the most part, pretty happy music.  That much I do remember.

Anyway, she sang the Hot line refrain over and over until she nodded off happily to sleep just before we pulled up to the home.

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Out of the Office – The First in a Series of the “On the Road” Blogs

Oh The Places You'll Go

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 – Sunrise in Washington, DC

The past month: calls were placed to register us with the U.S. State Department’s Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP); to place a notation with the fraud and security unit of the banks that hold my credit and debit cards; to the local medical/travel clinic to refill anti-malarial prescriptions and to immunization up; and to apply for visas.  Always the visas.

Talk to the neighbors and ask them to collect mail and watch the house; talk to the landlord; take out the trash; mail a few holiday cards.

Briefings with colleagues with numerous organizations as well as our own; clearing reimbursements; obtaining advances; step the brief to senior leadership; get the approvals, and of course, wait on the visas.  All this can only mean one thing: Operation Tip of the Spear, or recon boot camp, begins.  A reconnaissance trip; a recon mission; recon; a situation assessment; snap assessment; situation analysis; quick study; learn the drill; who’s who; who wants to be who; who’s on the ropes; who’s in the doghouse; can we position ourselves to be competitive; how can we do so? 

Today: Call to reserve an airport taxi; call to American Express travel; Money Gram; Western Union; waiting on the visas to come through.  Always the visas.  And then inexplicably, the visas arrive.

Say one final goodbye to my daughter; and it’s on our way to Liberia.  During the cab ride to the airport, we learned that we had lost our hotel reservation, and had to scramble to try to find something while on route.  Can we actually arrange to find a place for us to go once we arrive at night?  Can we do this while on route?  What a pain.  It’s customary for the senior member of the team to buy the first round of beers before going to the departure gate.  Isn’t it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 – Sunset in Monrovia

Our plane, and us, arrived just in time to see the sunset over the western most point on the continent.  Brazil lies just a few thousand miles across the sea. The plane was packed with Liberians returning to their homeland and families for the holidays.  A packed plane meant luggage; and waiting, waiting.  Jostling for position; stepping over bags left off the conveyor; stepping on toes; elbowing to move up the chain just to see if our bags came through.  Hot and dirty, tired and cranky; almost two hours later, we had found our luggage and went through customs to meet our awaiting logistics consultant and driver. 

Getting a last-minute hotel room was not easy, but our guys booked us into the swankiest villa on the beach, about 30 minutes from the airport.  After suffering the last-minute panic of boarding a plane knowing that we had no place to sleep once we arrived the next evening, we felt we deserved the resort, at least for the first night.  At least we had a place to stay.  And what a place it was! 

In retrospect, this was the first of three hotels we stayed in during this trip – lesson learned: there are now several choices of hotels available, ranging from the Chinese built and operated airport hotel China Gate, to beach front resort hotels, to a range in-between; mostly all within or at least close to a decent per diem rate.  But make those reservations early and keep them!

Posted in Bad Dad, Child, children, Dad, Daddy Bloggers, Family, Fatherhood, parenting, Parenting Blogging | 1 Comment

Flies Flies Flies

Flies Flies Flies

Late last night I watched Buffy jab another demon in the heart with a cool red Gerber-like ax blade and picky (and wished I could get that thing at the local Ace Hardware).  As the slain monster disintegrated into a brown puff of sparkle dust I thought about our conversation that took place earlier that day, apropos of nothing really.

“The love is in your heart and stays in your heart.  And then sometimes it pops out and flies flies flies flies,” she said while holding her arms up at her sides and flapping her hands like chicken wings.

“It flies flies to your family or other people and pops into their hearts and stays there.”

“You can’t see it or touch it or smell it but you just feel it sometimes.”

“Is that a good thing?” I asked.

“Yes, it is.  It’s a very good thing,” she said.  “It pops out and flies around until it finds someone in your family, mom, dad, aunts, uncles, and anyone, and then it pops into their hearts and stays there.  I can feel my heart beating sometimes.”

“You can?” I asked.

“Yes, and I can feel yours too.”

“And is that a good thing?” I asked.

“Yes it is.  It beats to keep you going.”

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You Turned Four Today



Last year, exactly one year ago today, when you woke up the first thing you said was, “Now I’m three.  I wanna be four!” 

And today, just like that, you did turn four. 

You said, “I’m four, but I don’t really feel like I’m four.  It feels good to be four, but I don’t really feel like it.  Four is good.” 

Yes, it is.

We picked you up from school, where you celebrated the day with your friends by giving them small iced cup-cakes.  You came screaming out of the classroom as usual and gave us hugs, but not before heading straight for the balloon in the corner.  You knew it was yours, no one had to tell you, and you jumped at it, showing it to your classmates as they followed you from the room. 

“Daddy, I knew you would bring me a balloon.”

“How?  How did you know?”

“I just knew.”

We went home to show you something else.  That favored color purple Schwinn 16″ bike with white ghetto fat-boy tires and white training wheels.  Your first bike, post trike.  You squealed and looked it over, and seemed to like it, more for the khotchki add-ons than anything else I think.  The bells and whistles that only a child’s bike could have.  The reflectors, purple padded seat, front-end mini pack for your gear or Dora doll, cool bell, handle-bar streamers, and front handle-bar pad in case you do a header.

You slowly walked around it, eyeing it, giving the tires a kick while stoking your chin.  Looks pretty good.  You hopped on, with some help, tore off, and crashed into a wall, not realizing that steering and peddling need to happen simultaneously.  Gotta keep looking up, and keep that helmet on.  Purple helmet, don’t ‘cha know. 

Your birthday dinner was exactly what you wanted: pancakes, sausage, and a strawberry shake at the American City Diner where they show classic black and white films at night.  Your favorite shake (and pretty much everything) is chocolate, but we try to steer you away from anything remotely chocolate once it hits four o’clock, unless we want a late night.  You couldn’t fork stab the pancakes very well because I cut the pieces too big or soaked them too much with syrup.  Not phased by this, you ate most of my french fries and insisted on trying my vanilla shake.

We took you home around 6:45, a bit later than usual and getting close to getting ready for bed time, but you where still pretty excited and wound up, wanting to play with your new Lego set.  We think you liked the bike, but you still enjoy more tearing wrapping paper off and opening up whatever’s inside.  Something you can more get your hands around.

I think you’ve grown about four inches in the past year, but we have to stand you up next to the wall chart to be sure.  You are four today, and that is a good thing.  Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Posted in Bad Dad, Birthday, Child, children, Dad, Daddy Bloggers, Family, Fatherhood, Life, parenting, Parenting Blogging, Preschool | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment