Matterhorn not withstanding, we have a 5-year old

August 28, 2019

I know, I know, it’s the biggest cliche in the world. Time accelerates when you have a kid. But seriously, didn’t we just bring this baby home from the hospital? I am now writing this while a 5-year old takes a bath with a posh bath-bomb and a tub full of mermaid dolls.

Cozy turned 5 on August 17 but has made August her prolonged “birthday month,” which means lots of “I can eat this because” and “I can watch this because.” It’s OK with me, because you remember 5 and she should remember this wonderful summer wonderfully.


We decided to return to Disneyland for Birthday #5. Number 3 had been a blast thanks to a friend who works at Disney Studios making sure Cozy got the Birthday Girl treatment, which included an epic meeting with Minnie Mouse. Minnie was quite thrilled to shake hands with Social Media Sensation Cozy Valentina.

We had to put a bit more effort into the fifth anniversary of her dramatic entry into the world in 2014.  We kept the California plans a secret. Our flight to LA had a layover in Las Vegas, so, while having breakfast inside the grand pyramid of the Luxor, we told her that Vegas wasn’t the final stop on her birthday trip. A few hours later we landed in Burbank and caught a Lyft to Walt Disney Animation Studios and she figured out what was going on when we pulled up to Mickey Mouse’s giant wizard hat.


I have a friend who is an animator with Disney and his amazing tour included a peak at a scene he was working on for Frozen 2. Cozy was blown away (as were we). After a night in an old school Burbank motel, it was off for two days at Disneyland (and two nights in the retro-fabulous Disneyland hotel). She was back in her realm. Cozy still loved riding Dumbo but she is starting to appreciate rollercoasters. Well, almost.


I was at the Anaheim park when I was 5 and really wanted to ride the Matterhorn bobsled rollercoaster. My parents must have thought it would be too scary for 1969 Randy. That didn’t stop 2019 me from dragging my kid, half asleep, onto the wild ride, late on our second night in the park. Blasting through the dark, Cozy not sitting with either of us, and Yetis screaming at bobsleds as they whizzed by, was a recipe for trauma. Poor Cozy was shaking and sobbing after the ride. Later, she made me call my mother and apologize for not trusting her judgement with regard to 5-year-olds and The Matterhorn. There’s going to be Yeti-related therapy down the road.

The Disney Surprise worked well as a rite-of-passage into fivedom. Next week she starts kindergarten and I can leave it all in the capable manos of Señor Siam. My tenure as a stay-at-home dad officially comes to close. It seems to have slipped by as if a dream that now I’m just waking up from. Will I remember any of it? Thank Groot for this blog.

This person that is now our five-year-old daughter is a fully formed sentient being. Not that I would, but I could drop her off at the local Lowes Hardware (What, you’re not boycotting Home Depot?) for a few hours, and find her running the place when I returned. She’s got crazy charisma and can work a room, from front to back. Is that an innate characteristic or did she pick that up from her vaguely politically astute parents? Whatever, I can’t wait to vote for her.

The end of her birthday month has been illuminating. Mom is off exploring Oaxaca, Mexico, so Cozy and I are getting some end-of-summer bonding done. She’s got ideas about God, the value of chutes in Chutes & Ladders, and when it’s permissible to gorge on Mac & Cheese (when one parent is out of the country). I’m endlessly entertained and in awe that we had anything to do with this fascinating creature that exists in this physical plane as “our kid.” I can’t wait for the next five years to fly by. But I’m taking 10-year-old Cozy back on to the Matterhorn.

39935438_10157630448014307_9104107800136515584_nScreen Shot 2019-08-28 at 9.52.04 PM

Dad Love: An Open Letter to Non-Breeders

March 19, 2018

Note: We were lucky enough to be able to have children. Many of my friends can’t. My heart goes out to them. I hope their love still makes the world spin.

I’m from the generation that was in a panic over overpopulation. The mathematicians had crunched the numbers on their room-sized computers and figured the planet’s accelerated population growth would strip the resources until the day when there were more people than peanuts. It would be Soylent Green, then The Omega Man, straight through to Planet of the Apes. Only Charlton Heston would survive.


This went through to the 80s punk-era when we devoted much vitriol for the “yuppies in the suburbs.” They were popping out kiddies faster than they could buy “Baby on Board” signs for their SUVs. (The U.S. birthrate did accelerate after 1980, as the  Millennial Generation started to arrive.) The Chinese were on to something,  limiting couples to two children. (I know, “ethical issues.”) More than two and you are taking more than you are giving and that’s evil; I don’t care what kooky offshoot of a mainstream religion you follow. How about none? “Who would want children in this over-populated cesspool. It’s gonna go all Road Warrior in, like, five years.”

We’re still racing to 8 billion people on the planet but the green revolution bought us some time, staving off the Malthusian tipping point when your town becomes The Road. Nevertheless, I am a product of my environment. Whenever I thought I might make a good parent, I would hear Lydia Lunch’s epic rant about children as vanity items, born of unrestrained egos. Children that grow up to destroy their creators. No thanks.

I don’t know if men have anything akin to a biological clock. When I hit my forties, some of friends from my youth were already becoming grandparents. Do the math. You have a kid at 18, and your kid does the same, you are a 36-year-old Mee-Maw. The thought started to re-enter my head and then after one week of dating Andrea, I knew we were going to become parents together. It was a cosmic message I’ll attribute to her goddess radiance (and a few whiskey gingers).


I am now a breeder and I’m sorry it took so long to join the club. Yeah, I worry that our daughter will inherit a world that makes Black Mirror episodes look like My Little Pony. Or that the current idiot regime will end up selling America to China in some “art of the deal” maneuver and she’ll be working in a factory selling crap to be sold in a Beijing Walmart. But I have a feeling parents have had the same worries for a millennia. It always seems one generation away from end-times. It’s 2018 and we’re not eating soylent green. (Although I’m not 100% sure of the complete composition of Nutella.)


I have a three-and-a-half year-old and every day is crazy bliss. The world could be on fire but I will be laughing hysterically because she just said, “Daddy, come in here and wipe my butt.” I still watch her sleep in complete marvel that we made this perfect creature. There are maybe half a dozen pictures of me at 3. There are a good 10,000 of our Cozy. Every milestone is celebrated. The first day she could open the front door, I panicked but now she asks to play outside. She now dresses herself, loves Tchaikovsky,  and says things like,  “I have a hypothesis” and “You have to stay hydrated.” It’s an endless sense of amazement every single day. Non-breeders must be disgusted by all our drooling and I could care less. I’m in a dopamine induced dream-state and each day brings a new high. As I write this she is putting on her ballet clothes because she wants to do a “beautiful dance” to the Kate Bush album I’m playing. Top that, hipsters.

On a side note, I don’t understand people who are not connected their children. There must be a dislodged silicone chip inside their heads. I have no doubt that I would take a bullet for this kid and am more than happy to know my life now is about serving her. I don’t mourn the loss of the guy who could spend an hour waiting in line for Sunday brunch. We’re making oatmeal with blueberries. When we fly together and the flight attendant says, in case of emergency, put your air mask on before you put one on your child, I have to really think about it. I can hold my goddamn breath, okay?

For a long time, I was a militant vegan. I would tell people, “Meat is murder!” Then I had sushi for the first time and I shut up about that meat is murder shit. Sorry, I just didn’t know. If you haven’t ever had a glass of really expensive wine, you can;t knock people who drop $100 on a bottle of pinot noir.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 10.45.15 AM

I get the snark about breeders. Eight billion people is a lot of assholes. Sometimes I wish a virus would cover the earth and just wipe out dudes named Lance. We gotta get this down to a manageable 5 billion, but, hey, that’s not up to me. But I get the attitude. That was me until it wasn’t. Now I’m on the other side. I go to birthday parties for four-year-olds and talk to parents about the joys of potty training and cognitive development and joke about possible arranged marriages for our kids.

I look at my child and I see all the joys and sorrows of the world. I see babies being bombed in Syria or the toddlers being carried through the swaps of Myanmar. But I also see every child who looks up at the sky and dreams to fly. Cozy recently told me, “Daddy, I have I have something to tell you. I really love you and the moon. Can we go there someday?” I used to read the weeklies, looking for the next hip thing. Now I just look at her and wonder what took her so long to arrive in my life.

I’m not saying you should join the breeders club, but if you do, you will ask yourself the same thing. How did I not know?



Babies are on acid.

March 12, 2015

The baby brain must be an amazing place. Everything is a new sensation and nothing really connects yet. Door? What is this concept? There’s just a magic portal to another dimension. Light? Sometimes I can just see more stuff. Someone controls that? WTF.

They are learning at such a fast rate. We should be envious of how quickly they can put shit together. Cozy just figured out waving. Every parent of a little bean knows that every day it’s some new discovery. I’m still waiting for “Dada,” but until then I’ll settle for the raspberries she blows when she sees me.

At the moment it’s clear that babies are on drugs. It’s gotta a be like Alice In Wonderland times a thousand, with all these new images, sounds, tastes, and feelings. We gave Cozy a taste of Nutella the other day and her eyes about popped out of her head like she just hit a Whip-It.

Neuroscientists don’t believe babies dream. They spend half their sleeping time in REM sleep but don’t have enough experience to fill all that time with dreams, so it’s used to build the brain pathways. That could imply the waking state is more like a dream to them and you know how weird your dreams can get.

What Do Babies Dream About?

I’ve watched Cozy stare at her hand for 10 minutes straight like it was a season finale of House of Cards. I did that on my one big acid experience and my hand turned into a paw, and then a fish fin and then an amoeba. I de-evolved and realized I contained the DNA of the first living thing on earth and the alien life that thing came from. I can only wonder what my daughter was thinking.

One of the most misused words in American culture is “surreal.” It’s used by any dingbat who wants to say something was “awesome.” It’s like when people say, “My head literally exploded.” Wow. That must’ve hurt. Surrealism is an artistic movement that taps in the the subconscious to create dreamlike juxtapositions of images. Just think John Lennon in 1967. He was the walrus (or was it Paul?). That’s all to say that I think Cozy is the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. She must see so much. Our house is filled with art, so it must be an endless trip.


I know when I was a little kid, living below the parent eye-level, I could stare at a crack in the wall and imagine that there was a whole world in there. I used to stare into the blue light on my parents hi-fi and see the rabbit hole to Wonderland. I’ve seen my daughter doing similar things and would love to have a peak into her perceptions. Right now she is staring at the bedroom ceiling like it’s a Cecile B. DeMille epic.

And what is she looking at? Sometimes I think she sees things that we can’t. I’ve caught her looking past my shoulder with great intent, like a scene from The Conjuring. This house is over a hundred years old, so it could be a ghost of God knows what, maybe an early Portland hipster. Hopefully she’s getting good fashion advice. “Oooo, Cozzzyyyy, never wear Crocssssss.”

It must be weird not to be able to communicate clearly with the people around you. I’ve been to countries where I didn’t speak the language and it also felt dreamlike. I was lost in Venice and the only Italian I knew was, “Dov’è la stazione?” Then people would just start babbling some gobbledygook. Goo goo ga joob. What is it like for a baby to want to say, “Dad, your beard is made of ants and I really need a dry diaper.”

There’s a lot lamenting the loss of child-like wonder as we get older. Instead of imagining what could be, we just ruminate on our own past. When we’re young, everything is ahead of us, all that potential. What do you want to be? Finally we get to a point where nothing is ahead of us and it’s all refection. What could I have been?

But a lot of that wonder is pure hallucination. I know that when I was 12, I saw Bigfoot on a camping trip in Colorado. Know it! When I was 7 and playing in the woods by myself (ah, those were the days), I knew there was a 300-foot tall bear that lived in those woods. Knew it! And when I was 3, I was convinced that cartoon characters would appear on my bedroom wall to entertain me. OK, that was 1967 so somebody might have spiked my juice.

I love that Cozy goes off to her own private Idaho on a regular basis. I want to be able to keep that part of her brain flowing while preparing her to handle some of harsh realities of the world. Can you be 1967 AND 1968? Life is but a dream.

Dad Love, Pt. 2: A Star is Born

Feb. 16, 2015 My daughter Cozette turns 6 months tomorrow. In 30 weeks, I think I’ve gone through every emotion on earth. Part of it is about the things that Cozy has done. (She almost said “Dada” last night, kinda, “Dawah”). Part of it is the anticipation of the things she’s about to do. (She’s so close to being able to sit up on her own). And part of it is the recognition of the the things I am now capable of. (More than once I’ve put my hand in her diaper to see if she’s wet and then run my fingers through my hair. So what!).


One of the most amazing things is to see her evolve as a person with her own personality. She is incredibly curious. I love when we go to the grocery store. I put her car seat in the grocery cart and see her face light up. She’s going to have lots to look at at our local Fred Meyer. The Valentines Day balloons blew her freaking mind. Watching her eyes focus on the items we pass by as we go down the isles makes me think about how a year ago those eyes were just forming inside mother’s womb.

She already has mad social skills. She loves being around new people. But you can see her size them up. Trust, but verify. She knows she’ll get a reaction with her smile. I think Cozy will know how much happiness she can bring the people around her.

Cozy is also really strong. She can stand up when she leans against something and even do a little dance, kind of a boot scootin’ boogie. And then she falls over like a drunkard. This week she started using my hands to pull herself up and it’s impressive. She’s got a seriously strong core. My bet is she will be sculling in the 2036 Olympics. (Google it, you layabout.)

I think her best quality is her empathy. It’s the one thing I want to give her but she’s already got it, when so many adults are devoid of any empathy whatsoever. Anyone who has read my first novel, The Mission of the Sacred Heart, can guess that I have struggled with intense depression at different points in my life. Anyone who understands this knows that it can get the better of you when you least expect it. In many ways, Cozy knows exactly what I need in those moments.

One of those moments was last week. I was just laying on the floor of the nursery wrapped up in the uncertainty of life right now. For the first time in decades, I have no idea what my future looks like. I’m scared shitless. Maybe I should’t have quit PSU. Maybe I should’ve gone one more round with the administration and perhaps (finally) won, winning the financial security my young family deserves. On one hand I’m excited by what I think is going to be a thrilling and successful new chapter. On the other hand I feel like we’re going to be living in a trailer down by the river, undone by people who could care less about the well-being of my child.


Cozy was laying on the floor next to me. I just couldn’t move, stuck in a black cloud. Instead rolling around (like she usually does), she just stuck close to me. She put her little hand on my cheek and stared right into my eyes, like she was saying the thing I’ve told so many others who are sunk in the trench of depression, that at some point the bad stuff is in the rear view mirror and you’ll feel so good for getting through it. It was such emotional moment. I was having a deep conversation with a little baby who needed me to be there for her but also for me. I was about to cry and then she farted so loud her diaper fell off.

I’m super glad Andrea and I are Cozy’s parents. I think we’ve got a strong set of values rooted in love, justice and creativity.  But I think Cozy would turn out fine if she was raised by Kim Jong Un and Mama June. This baby has soul. And she saves me every day.

Dad Love, Pt. 1 (Here)

And you can get my book at Powell’s by clicking below: