16 going on 26

My precious, darling daughter is 16 today! Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be sappy and saccharine, because that doesn’t mesh with Leah’s personality. It’ll be sassy instead, because that’s how she rolls.

My wife and I actually remembered her birthday, so she’s already one up on Samantha.

Blur = Bleep.

But there have been a few years when we were heading to vacation on her birthday… there’s nothing quite as festive as spending your special day stuck in a car for 12 hours. I’m glad she’s in Cincinnati for this one. She’ll probably be celebrating by sleeping until noon. Or 1 p.m.

Facts!

Leah’s turning 16 today, but she’s an old soul. She’s great at carrying on polite conversations with adults (present company excluded usually).

She’s very empathetic, kind, caring… wait, this is turning sappy, isn’t it?

The scary D is just ahead: Driving. I signed her up for an online driver’s ed course yesterday. How do they go from bumper cars to real cars so quickly? And more importantly, where was an app for driver’s ed when I was a kid? (Answer: 40 years in the future.)

Here’s the most recent photo I have of Leah, at Peter’s high school graduation. (I don’t follow her on Insta… I’m sure there’s something more current there.)

She isn’t always smiling, but when she is, it lights up our universe.

Leah is also the kid that shares my love of indie rock. She’s bummed that she’ll have to miss the Beck/Cage the Elephant/Spoon concert because she’ll be working as a camp counselor. But there will be other times, other shows. I’m sure that at those shows, I’ll be told to stay far away while she hangs out with her friends. But that’s OK. I’ll still be there with her. And I’ll always be there for her.

So now, instead of some sappy song, here’s a tune that Leah loves.

You’re my boy, Blue!

We are gathered here today to say goodbye to an old and dear friend. Someone you could count on through thick and thin. He was reliable, trustworthy, always there when you needed him, and always up for an adventure. But it was time for old Blue to move on, after so many years of faithful service.

Yes, the 2003 Honda Odyssey is gone, after nearly 17 years, and 152, 322 miles. We’ve been through a lot together. Four kids grew up in that van… and the carpeting on the floor has the juicebox stains to prove it. Thousands of school drop-offs. Hundreds of trips to practices and games: baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse. Dozens of summer vacation trips: Florida, Vermont, Alabama, New Hampshire, New York, New Orleans. While we were visiting all those News, Blue got old. But he was still my boy.

Blue was passed along to our oldest kid, who cleaned it up and made it feel new again. It was a rebirth for Blue. But eventually our son moved on too… when you’re paying for gas and your job is delivering pizzas, you need something that gets a bit better mileage.

So Blue sat in our driveway, taking up space, looking forlorn. It was time to move on. It was for the best.

Now Blue is dearly departed. He’s gone, but not forgotten… especially because I gave him to my brother, who lives two blocks away from me. Blue is still going strong. Blue is still my boy!

I want that thing… whatever it is.

We got Chinese food for Father’s Day (a tradition almost as cherished as Chinese Food for Christmas Day).

My daughter’s post-prandial fortune cookie fortune was inscrutable:

I might spend the rest of my life trying to figure that gem out. You try it because you don’t want it enough? So if I really want it, I need to not try it? (The latter has worked for me so far if we’re talking about “writing eloquently.”)

Perhaps I have yet to achieve a level of enlightenment that’s high enough to allow me to understand it. It’s the proverbial pebble in the master’s hand.

Then again, it might be the fortune cookie equivalent of this Magic 8 Ball “answer”:

We stuck the fortune on our fridge, so I’ll keep trying to figure it out… I mean not trying.

The struggle is real… for some

I’m a bit tardy on this (been a busy few weeks) but the folks behind the SAT have added an “adversity score” to the kids who take the test. It doesn’t affect your test score, and isn’t even shared with test-takers — it’s provided to college admissions officials to add more background/context about the student. It takes into account factors such as family stability, housing stability, family income, and the education level of parents. And it’s worth noting that it doesn’t consider race. Here’s a great excerpt from this article:

“The goal of this is to be used by admissions officers at higher-ed institutions to evaluate the context from which a student is coming from—so the community, the school, et cetera. An SAT score of 1400 in East L.A. is not the same as a 1400 in Greenwich, Connecticut. And so, if we can get environmental factors that the student could have overcome or thrived on, and take into context…”

Jeremy Singer, president of the College Board

I wholeheartedly agree with this move. Here’s a sample of how it would look.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the kid in a single-parent family who has to walk to school in the scary part of town, dodging bullets, avoiding gangs, go without breakfast and/or dinner because they can’t afford it, work after school to help with the family budget, go to the library for internet access, sleep in sweatshirts because the heat got cut off in their roach-infested apartment…. that kid is starting out at a disadvantage compared to the suburban kid whose mom drops him/her off every day and works the PTA bake sale. One kid volunteers at the food bank; the other kid gets his meals there. For the latter, school truly is uphill both ways.

Yes, it’s not a perfect system… there are kids from the right side of the tracks that are dealing with challenges as well. But not nearly as often. And I think kids should get a bit of credit for overcoming obstacles. Admissions counselors should be able to see more of the factors that might affect academic performance on standardized tests. After all, those tests can’t measure grit, determination, and the ability to overcome adversity… qualities that will translate well on the college campus.

Charly Bliss. Pure Bliss.

I saw Charly Bliss at a club show!

That phrase might not mean much to you right now. In fact, chances are pretty good that you’ve never even heard of the band Charly Bliss, much less heard their music. But I have a feeling that’s going to change over the next year or so.

L to R: Spencer Fox, Eva Hendricks, Dan Shure, Sam Hendricks

They have everything it takes to make it big: fantastic songs, a unique sound, great chops, a cool vibe, tons of energy, and a very charismatic and photogenic lead singer.

Love the Candyland/Alice In Wonderland outfit.

But to be clear, Charly Bliss is a “we” not a she… lead singer Eva Hendricks, her brother Sam on drums/vocals, Spencer Fox on guitar/vocals and Dan Shure on bass/vocals are a cohesive unit, and together they pack a powerful wallop. Last night’s show, at a tiny club with 150 people in the audience, tops, easily could have blown away a theater-sized audience, or been a headlining set at an outdoor festival.

They’re usually classified as power pop, and they do have a poppy sheen to them. But after seeing them live, I realize they’re really a power punk band tucked inside a pop shell. The subject matter on the new album Young Enough is heavy stuff, about escaping an abusive relationship. But the songs are postive, not pessimistic, cathartic rather than depressing.

“Something really wonderful about getting older is this sense of perspective that you gain. You can look at your experiences and, even if they weren’t great, you can feel grateful and be like, ‘I really was an idiot then. I’d just love to give her a hug, she really had it all backwards.’”

Read more at https://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-radar/charly-bliss-young-enough-interview-2484798#sLaJZIF0Pj7mpbU0.99

I’ve been a music fan long enough to know that the music business:

  1. is a business first and foremost and
  2. isn’t a meritocracy.

The cream doesn’t always rise to the top. There are hundreds of bands that have “shoulda coulda woulda” stories to tell. So many things can derail a career: band squabbles, crappy record deals, distribution challenges, overbearing producers or managers, road fatigue, changing public tastes… But with a break here or there, I really think Charly Bliss could be “Yuuuge. The best ever! Believe me.”

When that happens, I’ll say it again: “I Charly Bliss at a club show!” Guess what? You can say that too:


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