My wife

My wife, Tiffany, is hav­ing a birth­day today. It’s been a hell of a year, for a lot of rea­sons, most­ly good, but you know how rea­sons are, lots of gray in with the black and white. So on the occa­sion of her birth­day, I want­ed to remind her that I love her.

She is my best friend, the one I tell all the secrets to. We share the looks that mean this, the tilt of the head that means that, the ancient jokes, the life­time friends, the his­to­ry, the tears, the uncon­trol­lable gig­gling, the cold nights, the despair, and the heights of joy. We have the first house we owned togeth­er. We have the first dog we loved togeth­er. We have reams of old emails, and years of old texts. We have the books we love togeth­er, and too many sea­sons of guilty plea­sure TV. We have those things that we have knit togeth­er into our life, togeth­er. She is my lover. I know her, until I find new depths to won­der at, new resolve to envy, new whim­sy to dance with, and then I want to get to know her all over again. I am amazed by her, her strength even when she doubts, her love even when she hurts, her com­pas­sion even when she is tired. There is noth­ing I desire that she does not embody. There is no oth­er dance part­ner I fit. I am drawn to her, as to noth­ing else.

She is my part­ner. When I floun­der, she is there for me, some­times with a ten­der ges­ture, some­times with a kick in the ass. When there’s blood, she han­dles it. When some­thing smells bad, I return the favor. When I need to work, she shoul­ders the load. When she has one of those days, I want noth­ing more than to take it from her, that she can just enjoy what she loves. I would not have lived this life as well with­out her. I would not be who I am were she not here. I am in her debt, for all that she has made me.

She is the moth­er of my chil­dren. There is noth­ing more fright­en­ing than pluck­ing your heart out and watch­ing it walk around, play soc­cer, surf the inter­net, make friends, laugh, and cry. She is there for them, she is their friend, their part­ner, their love, their guide, their teacher. They would have half a life, if she were not there for them. I am a bet­ter father for her being their moth­er.

She is her­self. Incred­i­bly strong, but not with­out doubts. Con­fi­dent­ly com­pe­tent, but not with­out mis­takes. Com­pas­sion­ate­ly lov­ing, but not with­out needs. Curi­ous, but stead­fast. Com­plex, but forth­right. Beau­ti­ful, but intri­cate. Fun­ny, but sen­si­tive. Crass, but gen­tle. She is her­self, and noth­ing else.

She makes me cry when I think about her too much, because she is my every­thing.

Sweet­ie, I love you.

September 11

Today is my birth­day. I share it with a nation­al tragedy. I like to acknowl­edge both. For the birth­day, I share it with my friends and fam­i­ly. For the oth­er, I share it here.

On the day I turned thir­ty-one, ter­ror­ists killed 3,000 peo­ple in the Unit­ed States. It was a hor­rif­ic moment of awak­en­ing for this coun­try, a moment that those of us who had grown up over­seas thought we under­stood. I grew up with car bombs on the news and in my city. It had only been a mat­ter of time, I thought, before the Unit­ed States would have had to face it. Amer­i­can head­lines screamed that “The World has Changed!” and I remem­ber think­ing that was a lot of hubris.

I did not account for what the Unit­ed States would do in response. This was a moment that could have touched off a world-shak­ing dri­ve for peace, com­pas­sion, and a bet­ter future. Instead, we launched a world-shear­ing assault on “ter­ror­ists,” which has, in most rea­son­able esti­mates, been respon­si­ble for the deaths of almost 5,000 US ser­vice mem­bers in Iraq alone, and between 100,000 and 1 mil­lion Iraqis. The issue is not as stark as these num­bers make it out to be, the world is a mud­dy mess, even at its best. But that is a lot of blood spilled in vengeance. The world did change after all. And our coun­try was the agent of that change.

I’m not ask­ing to com­pare the three thou­sand vic­tims of 9/11 to the hun­dreds of thou­sands of vic­tims of the Iraq War. That is a scale that will nev­er bal­ance. Instead, I am ask­ing us to put ALL the deaths on one side. What goes on the oth­er side then?

For my birth­day wish, I would like us to reflect on these scales, and do what we can to see them bal­ance.

Forty freakin’ two

Too old to be a child prodi­gy, too young to be an elder states­man. Today is my birth­day. Seri­ous thoughts on the date itself lat­er today, but for now, I just want to give a shout out to my par­ents, with­out whom I would not be here, and my fam­i­ly, with­out whom I would not be here. My life is pret­ty good right now, and I have only had a lit­tle part in that. Much love.

My wife turns 21 today

Okay, not 21, exact­ly, but that’s the best answer when a woman asks you to guess her age. It is her birth­day today, and we have big plans. Okay, not exact­ly big plans, because we’re par­ents of two kids under five, and she’s a sec­ond-year col­lege pro­fes­sor, but we do have a babysit­ter for Sat­ur­day night! Woo hoo! And I’m bak­ing the Best Choco­late Cake today. Real­ly. That’s what it’s called, and it must be, ’cause it’s so good even I eat it (and I don’t like choco­late). I love you, Sweet­ie.