the little engine resurfaces

I think I’ve told this story on this blog before, but it made me laugh so hard on Sunday night. And now that I know that it’s all worked out and I’ve lived to smile about it, I’m happy to report its great success.

So, my father would ask me up until the age of eighteen or so, “What did the little engine say?”

Every time I wanted to quit or I was stressed out, he would ask that question. “Ahhhh,” I would say and look at him, probably irritated, refusing to answer.

“What did the little engine say?” he’d ask it again.

I’d sigh a little.

“I think I can. I think I can,” I would say.

I’m basically working three part-time jobs. There are times, though, when one becomes a little closer to full-time. I saw that coming on Sunday.

“Four days,” I said to a friend over dinner Sunday night. “I can handle four days. I can do it.”

And as I drifted to sleep, I repeated to myself the same thing I used to say to my father. I think I can. I think I can.

But, boy oh boy, has it been an interesting four days. I will say this, though, exhausted sleep is some of the most amazing sleep ever. And I am happy to report that I have  accomplished every single thing that I needed and wanted to in the past four days.

Amazing what the power of positive thinking can do for a person!

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things I learned from climbing up rocks

So, I fell. Slipped, slid, scraped. Fell. A little skin from the elbow. A little more from my leg. And a lot more from my back.

And then I leapt to my feet, said “oh well,” and ran down (really down) the trail to catch up with my family. So, I learned:

Me & My Dad

  1. There’s not too much that I’m scared to try. The list of what I think I can’t do is even shorter.
  2. Even if I fall and get injured, I’ll do it again. I fell on the first climb and totally would have missed out on something incredible if I didn’t make the fourth climb.
  3. That side-step thing I do to get up rocks quickly without thinking about it? I learned it from my father.
  4. My father has a better grasp of limitations than I do. “Now, don’t get crazy” is what he said to me. Someday, I’ll learn that.
  5. I finally understood how biblical prophets felt listening to the wind blow through a canyon. Quite possibly one of the most amazing sounds I’ve ever heard.

motorcycles, miles & my father

The day–in no particular order:

  • I have made no secret of my desire to buy a motorcycle when I turn 30. It all started when I read “Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig last summer. I became thoroughly convinced that there is some great secret to life that is possessed in taking a road trip on a motorcycle. I fully intended to never get on one until the age of 30. Not because I was scared of it, but because I knew it was going to morph an obsession into an OBsession. With a capital O and B, no doubt. So, this day started with what I swore I wouldn’t do. And now that it’s happened, I know I was absolutely right. I HAVE to have a motorcycle. There is no doubt in my mind that there is some secret Zen quality to the riding a motorcycle.
  • Four miles. I did a slow run today. And before I knew what happened, I had run an easy four miles. I’ve come a long way with my running so that made me very happy.
  • And I think my father may have said to me the single greatest thing he’s ever said to me in my twenty-eight years of life. This actually surpasses, “I’m proud of you.” Far surpasses it. The conversation will be left for another time. But, the words I will never forget, ” That’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

It was a really good day.

"He Has a Funny-Shaped Head"

Oh, I remember the day so clearly. I was a junior in college, and I was taking a fundamentals of public relations course for my journalism major. Our final project was an analysis of the public relations strategy of an organization with thoughts as to how the department might be improved. At the time, I was still fairly certain I wanted to work for a pro sports team so my analysis was on the Los Angeles Clippers.
               On the final day of my visit, the team had an open workout, which I viewed as part of my analysis on the team’s desire to broaden their appeal to a younger audience. As I turned down the tunnel, I spun around right into (right INTO) one of the players.
               I think my reaction was pretty much one of “Oh my God,” which I’m sure I said aloud. He kindly signed whatever it was that I had in my hand, probably a notebook and went about his journey to the court.
               I was watching him on TV last night, no longer with the Clippers, and all of a sudden this fabulous memory came back to me. Not of meeting him, no. Of the conversation I had when I told my parents about this.
               You see, I have this obsession with the shape of peoples’ heads. Namely the shapes of the heads of men. It all but determines my attraction to any given guy. For the past few years, I really had no idea where it came from and why it was such a determining factor for me.
               Then, I saw this athlete on E! last night. And, it all came back to me.
               I had relayed the story to my parents about how I had met said NBA player after two years of having a crush on him and how I had all but embarrassed myself by running squarely into him.
               And my father’s response?
               “I don’t see why you have a crush on him,” he started. “He has a funny-shaped head.”
               What?!?
               “All those NBA players,” he went on, clearly teasing me at this point. “It’s like they get to a certain height and their heads start to be grossly out of proportion.”

               And this has stuck with me for eight years now. Plenty of icons, men that other women fall all over, I just don’t see it. And always for the simple reason that he “has a funny-shaped head.”

On Father's Day

I was driving to my parents’ house this afternoon, and a song came on the radio. It was warm out, and I couldn’t help but sing along in the car. It made me think about my father and all of the things I’ve received from him. Primarily among them:

  • An absolute love and enjoyment for music. His music. My music. I learned to love music because I wanted to like everything he did.
  • An insatiable desire to leave the world a little better place that I found it. I’ve watched him my entire life make the world better, and I’ve wanted to do exactly the same in my own way.
  • A love for sports. He’s a diehard Los Angeles everything fan. He’s quiet about it though, but he always knows what’s going on. He knows scores and stats and players names. He made me love the Top Deck at Dodger Stadium. He made me fall in love with the third baseline.
  • Technology, technology, technology. My father loves gadgets. He’s always up on technology. Usually before me.
  • A love of writing. When I was four and five years old, he would have me dictate letters to my cousin to him. He would write them out, and I would re-copy them so they would be in my own handwriting. He worked on fiction when I was younger, and he made me believe that I could write.
  • News. News. News. I have a habit of watching the news because of him. But I also think I studied journalism because he would always talk about the integrity of journalism and what a great profession it was.
  • Politics. He made me politically active at a very young age. I took it so seriously because it was important to him. For some odd reason, I would consider myself a “Kennedy Democrat” because of what I learned from him. I went through a phase where I read all of his Kennedy biographies, somewhere around the age of 13.

I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have a father like I do. He has always treated me like I could take over the universe, and that has translated into a confidence that has served me well for all of my life. He has taught me extreme compassion. He has taught me how to stand up for myself and to speak my mind.

I listened to President Obama’s little public service message about spending time with your kids, and I remember how my dad would come home tired from work and still take me to the park or play board games with me.

There is nothing in the world that compares to feeling that loved. And I know, each and every day, how incredibly lucky I am to have a father like him.