Yesterday, my daughter came home with glasses. I knew she’d be getting them; we had to set up an appointment in Waldport after the school eye-screening came back with drastically different results from last year. But the news wasn’t so-so bad: Just regular near-sightedness. Eleven to twelve years old is the age when eyesight can often change.

But she came in the door, her cute little round face all different from the wire-frames perched on the bridge of her nose.

“They’re purple.” She announced.

Yes, indeed.

I watch her look at stuff. Look at stuff and see it different. The window, the cat: She lifts the glasses an inch to peer underneath, and then lets them drop again, re-exploring her world.

And then she goes to look in the mirror.

A queer little wind of desolation blows over my heart as her expression changes, and she backs up a bit, tilting her head to stare.

She is seeing. Seeing herself with sharp edges; seeing every angle, every shadow in dolby-digital, after months of fuzzy reception. Less distinct vision isn’t such a bad thing… it gives hard edges a softer feel. Near-sightedness is nature’s airbrush, giving dominant impressions over to color and ‘the-basic-idea’ of a picture, rather than the nitpicky details.

Now she sees. Sees herself, absolutely, according to the man-made laws of 20/20 vision- the ocular golden fleece.

When she turns sideways to give her shape an appraising study, I want to protest. I want to gather her hands between my own, lead her to the couch, and try to explain. This isn’t truth, this vision. She can see her freckles now, and under-eye shadows standing out like 3-D, but it’s only the sharp-focus view, and it seems harsh because it is unexpected. This is merely an exchange really- a new visual language of precision which can be useful for defining what requires definition. But it’s only one way of seeing.

We don’t really see anything accurately, as human beings. The colors we perceive in surrounding objects don’t reflect that object’s true color, but rather the specific wavelength of light that an object reflects rather than absorbs. What we can see is actually the color that an object *isn’t*.  

We know the shape of the world through our senses, and those shapes are dependent upon the tools used to perceive. Perception among people varies as much as one person’s body varies from another. And that only covers the difference in perception among our species. Imagine how differently the world is perceived by creatures who have other primary senses.

For instance, have you ever tried to wrap your mind around the world of a dog? It is the olfactory rather than the ocular which dominates a canine’s perception of the universe. How differently places and people must seem when the primary descriptive is smell. How different the shape and sense of things must be to a nose creature instead of an eye creature.

This would confuse  my daughter.  It would confuse my daughter to be told she’ll never see herself the way anyone else sees her. That the shape of her face will always be colored by an individual’s impression of her overall self. That no two people will see her alike, that for various psychological reasons, some people will be attracted and others repelled by the specific shapes of her features, their combination, their color.

I want to tell her she is more beautiful then she’ll ever know she is. I want to tell her all her friends will also seem harshly defined through these new lenses, and that she hasn’t actually changed since yesterday. I want to tell her she can take the glasses off, because how you see the world might be more important, in the long-run, then how much of it you’re able to see.

See how tangled I get in February?

I open my mouth, to start with, what?  I say, 

“You look really cute in your glasses. Are you hungry?” 


“What do you want to eat?”

And all the subtext swells up and sinks down again. Better that way. Parenting would be one endless labyrinth for her to endure if I actually tried expressing this stuff.

Besides…   It’s going to be awfully cute to watch her discover the visual minutiae of a banana.


Thanks for reading, weebles. Oh, and happy birthday to me.

Rerun: Valentine Dating Guide

Little known fact around these parts: I am a romance guru. Yup, that’s right. You might not have picked this up right away, because it seems I am always falling into or getting over someone and writing about it all over my blog.

Well, that’s just a front, you know. I won’t be partaking of the Valentine Fiesta this year, because of course, being a guru, I’ve already perfected my game. It would be like joining a bowling league the season after hitting 10 strikes in 10 frames. Why climb El Capitan when you’ve already scaled Mount Everest?

No, my talents are better used in the service of others. I will sit back and selflessly observe the ritual dance and bestow like heart-shaped gifts my wisdom and pointers to help you have a perfect Valentine’s Date.

The Preamble:

Guys– Girls hate it when you appear too eager or desperate. Wait until the afternoon of the 14th before calling and asking for a date. If the girl you like best is not available, go to the next one on your list. Repeat until you find someone who is not busy. This may require an extended area white pages directory.

Girls– Guys love it when you appear eager and desperate. In their heads, this secures the notion that you will ‘put out’. Give an enthusiastic “Yes!” to every guy who asks you out on Valentine’s Day. Forget about all these commitments once you decide who you really want to go out with. If the man you have your eye on hasn’t called you by Wednesday, dump a root beer on his head in a public place, and don’t explain why.

What to wear:

Guys– It’s the night of the big date, now don’t blow it by getting too classy. Remember: Girls run from the slightest hint of desperation. Make all the guys in sport coats look like maroons by showing up for your date in a muscle shirt and flip-flops, or any T-shirt sporting ‘The Simpsons‘ insignia. She might hate you on sight, but everybody loves Bart.

Girls– You probably think I’m going to suggest that you flash a little skin in a classy way. Just a provocative hint to keep his eyes focused the whole night through. WRONG! You see, men want what they cannot have. If you really want to drive him crazy, cover yourself from head to toe. Bulky sweaters and oversized culottes with leg-warmers are a definite winner, but a gauze face veil and a shapeless cape will also make his heart go pitter-patter. If you want to risk coming off trashy, there’s always the 19th century high-necked librarian blouse and full quilted petticoats, but honestly… only a slut would wear that on a first date.

The Pick-up:

Guys– A smart guy knows that whomever a girl is living with, be it her parents, cats, a roommate, these members of the household will hate you on sight. Don’t give them a chance to shoot you down when you’re not around to defend yourself. Instead of going to the door, lean on the horn and give a few sharp blasts. Repeat as necessary; she’s likely to emerge in a hurry.

Girls– In romance, it’s extremely important to make a man wait. For everything. Every… little… tiny… thing. When your date comes to the door, invite him inside and introduce him to your cats. Get out the benadryl for the inevitable allergic reaction. Tell him you “just have to put on some lipstick”, and then go change your hair and outfit twenty-two times. Reunite with your date 40 minutes later. Unless he’s gone into anaphylactic shock, he’ll be happy to see you.

In the Car:

Guys– You are probably nervous as Hell at this point, and couldn’t get a boner even if Cindy Crawford were spit-polishing your chubby. It doesn’t matter. Fake it. Try a cheap feel-up in the parking lot unless you want rumors swirling by the dessert course about your upcoming debut on Project Runway.

Girls– Women who appear too friendly and accessible before the appetizer risk the possibility of their date asking them to ‘Go Dutch’. Be silent and impassable in the car. Stare straight ahead and stick to surly, ambiguous snarls when he asks you which radio station you’d like to hear.

Ordering Dinner:

Guys– This is your one and only opportunity to save money, and if you don’t make the most of it, you have no one to blame but yourself. Jump in as quickly as possible to order for your date. Get a gander at the wine list first. You can try asking her to stick to soda pop, but if you don’t ask, she can’t say no, so the cheapest bottle of wine is probably less risk. You can head an economic catastrophe off at the pass by asking the waiter for the A la Carte menu and pulling a switcheroo before she ever gets a look at the Entrees. If none of this works, order a small salad for your dinner in an effort to embarrass her into doing the same.

Girls– Order the most expensive thing on the menu. It doesn’t matter if you like it, the whole point is to see if this man is a good provider who will one day send you off with a decent divorce settlement. Allow him to suggest a wine, and when it arrives, don’t like it. Insist that there’s something wrong with it. If the restaurant provides a new bottle, gag on the first sip. Spend the rest of the evening ordering different kinds of wine by the glass. The conversation will be less awkward if you’re plastered.

Small Talk:

Guys– Resist the impulse to talk about yourself just to fill up the silence. You’re a man of the world, and you have more to offer. The key is to show attentive and intelligent interest in the waitress at every given opportunity. Ask the waitress how long she has worked there. Notice her shoes. Smile, nod your head, make eye contact. Let your date know how incredible you can be to any woman who manages to win your favor.

Girls– Now that you’ve actually ordered, it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself. You probably decided in the first 30 seconds whether your date is someone you’d sleep with. If he is, this is the time to ply him with alcohol, bat your pretty lashes, and find out his yearly income and outstanding expenses. Pretend you are a detective and beguile your way through his financial portfolio. You live for this private investigator shit. More likely, he falls into the ‘just friends’ category, so you can set the stage for a chaste evening by describing your cramps, real or fictional. Once that’s taken care of, he’s just a girlfriend with a penis, and you can talk about anything, from your childhood memories to an in depth analysis of your last sexual experience. Men are great listeners when they’ve gone all silent with mortification.

On the Way Home:

Guys– Now is the time to try those lines you learned from Playboy. You know the ones, “I feel really close to you. I’ve been waiting a long time to meet a woman I respect this much. I don’t want this night to ever end. Will you take me home and hold me?”

Girls– They have conducted extensive studies on the topic, and the truth is, men tend to care more about their car upholstery then the embarrassment associated with premature and unpleasant truths. Go ahead and tell him you’re going to yak so he can pull the car over.

The Good Night Kiss:

Guys– There’s just no easy way to go on this one. She might be standing there, jingling her keys, looking deep into your eyes and simply contemplating the depths of her hatred. She may seem to brush you off because she’s shy. You have to take the reigns here. Be a manly man, and say these words, “I can’t get over how much you look like my Uncle Morty.” If she doesn’t deck you then and there, it’s a good likelihood she won’t press charges if you go in for a kiss.

Girls– Listerine pocket packs aren’t miracle workers, darling. If you yakked on the lawn, you’re going to need to do the full dental regalia before you play tongue hockey. If you did manage to keep your spirits down, he’s probably looking pretty good right now. Your judgment’s impaired, it doesn’t get any better than this… so, what the Hell. Go for it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Disclaimer: Writers of Stop & Wander are not liable for any lawsuits, injuries, property loss or skeletal fractures that may arise from use of the Valentine’s Dating Guide. The Valentine Guide is meant as a framework of suggestion, not a literal bible for interpersonal success. Readers apply the aforementioned suggestions at their own discretion.

Happy Christmas, Weeblekind

Happy Christmas, Weeblekind!
You know you are the greatest best,
and Happy Christmas to your herd
or flock or pride or pack (or guests).

I hope you get a Christmas smile
a Christmas hug, a Christmas wish;
I hope your presents merely serve
as bonus to your happiness.

I wish you all a happy year,
a happy time, all full of write.
I wish you all a lot of laughs,
a lot of love and happy nights.

For once, I think I’ll simply skip
petitions for my Christmas tax
(O.k., you didn’t send me gifts…
this once I will forgive you that.)

But in the year that’s yet to come
I do present this crucial plea:
Keep hope and patience in your heart
(and don’t let me write poetry).


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!