Friday, December 16, 2011

Father thoughts v.1

People look at me bright eyed and ask "How long until...?" I tell them January 14th and their eyes get wider as they either exhale or inhale dramatically and say something along the lines of "Eee! are you excited?"

Nope. What's to be excited about?

Theirs is a rhetorical question, of course (at least it should be). I find myself falling into an awkward social rut of responding to this reaction/question with some facade of humility and something along the lines of "I have no idea of what I'm doing, but yep, very excited."

Truth is, I've been thinking of this impending due date for quite a while and I should have some inkling of an idea what I'm doing, even if there is a lot of truth to to cliche wisdom like "Your life is about to completely change" and "Your first kid is just practice, nobody knows what they are doing."

On a less-important practical level, I helped change my baby brother's diapers when I was 11 and 12 years old. Jaime has enrolled us in hours and hours of baby/new parent classes offered at the hospital. I've been reading the books and gobbling up resources and info online. 

On a deeper level, the passing of my own father in 2009 forced me into a more serious reflection of what kind of dad I want to be and what things in my own life can be sourced back to the way I was raised. My ecclesiastical education constantly stresses and reinforces the simplest yet wisest of principles that inevitably lead to your own brand good parenting. And I've been hearing and reading about it since I was a kid, not just in my adult years. 

Jaime and I waited over 5 years between getting married and having a kid. We've spent a lot of time together, shared a lot of adventures and dated our faces off. 

There's a lot more of all of this to come, my "training" has only begun, but I do feel like this kid is a very natural next step. So yes, I'm "excited" and optimistically looking forward to the challenges and adventures.

I think I force out the words "I have no idea what I'm doing" as some sort of backwards humble-brag to myself and nod to the "the more you knowthe more you know you don't know" philosophy. I spend quite a bit of time introspectively cutting through the clutter of parenting tactics and boiling down to the most basic of principles I would like to govern happiness and love in our home. Here's my first stab at writing them down. I realize this list is likely naive and idealistic. I don't care. That said, this list is bound to evolve. These are the things we'll learn through doing and witnessing, more than being told and formally taught:

  1. We'll be nice people. 
    • The world does not revolve around you, but if you're nice enough people may think you're the greatest person in their world. Remember that kind words really do make people feel better, so be that person that says nice things, and it helps if you mean it. Complimenting is easy, free and quick. And do nice things. Give time, effort and charity even when they aren't easy, free or quick - because you're grateful for what you have. Be anonymous. Learn the ironically selfish benefits of warm fuzzies early and replicate the actions that lead to the symptoms as much as you can. Do your part to make the world more civil and understanding. Be nice.
  2. We'll learn to love learning.
    • Or at least strongly avoid any resemblance of an aversion to learning new things). Geek out on at least one thing at a time any given year/season of life. A geek is not socially inept (that's a nerd, btw). A geek simply combines intelligence and passion on a particular topic. This can be reading. This can be colors, gardening, or geography. It can be drums or geo-caching. This will obviously evolve and be different for a 3 year old than it is for a 15 year old, but the point is, learning is cool. Learning is not scary. 
  3. We'll be confident because we know who we are.
    • Whether this is on the bicycle at 3 or 4 years old, a long hike with dad at 8 years old or asking out a girl at 16 years old, we'll believe in ourselves because our family has our back and we're Forsyths. We have divine origins and ambitions and can keep a simple and enabling eternal perspective. We'll learn and remember that hard work yields enviable results. Tough life milestones are scary and we may want to find ways to circumnavigate them, but we won't expect special treatment and we'll fight feelings of entitlement if when they creep in. We'll build confidence and independence through a series of victories over life's challenges - both those we volunteered for (e.g. learning a new instrument or sport) and those that force themselves upon us (e.g. middle school in general).
What would be on your little list? Note, the principle should be boiled down to a pithy practice, even if you expound with a sub-bullet like I have. Yes, I want my kids to learn to love and appreciate the outdoors, be independent, learn music, etc. but this isn't that list. This is my attempt to bridle the specific dreams and not live their lives for them in advance. Trying to keep it broad, wise practices and principles

Again, I have no idea of what I'm doing, but yep, very excited.

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

2011 Zeitgeist

I already posted my own personal recap of 2011, but I left out the world events that stuck with me, as I felt those were more appropriate for a separate post. Leave it to Google to sum up the search terms that capture the zeitgeist of 2011. Makes this much easier (lazier of me, yes, but easier).

This world is just insanely fascinating when you slow down and reflect. I'm so glad I live in a time when these online resources make it so easy to glimpse into what real people are going through all over the planet (with a little bit of media literacy you can weed out the controlled biased info from unfiltered). Remember when the best year-end recap we had was a measly print issue of TIME magazine's corporate controlled year in review? I know Google is extremely "corporate" but at least this is based on real people's searches and I think it was put together very well. I forgive the ton of Google+ plugs in there, since it still comes out as a great little video in its own right, marketing motives aside. And that's marketing at its best, I think. The same reason why VW's little Vader Passat ad was so widely shared this year as well. Most people could care less about the Passat, but they made a great little video that held up on its own - and guess what? VW brand affinity and Passat sales are doing great, I think. Love it.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 recap, so far.

I must say, this was a good year. I feel I've grown closer to Jaime this year than any other year, perhaps with the exclusion of our first year of marriage. Plenty of micro and macro adventures. I feel I need to recap some highlights, just so they are recorded.

It started by flying to London on Jan 3rd. I spent most of the next eight and a half months there. I got to know our Hoxton / Shoreditch neighborhood pretty well. Turns out the London winter wasn't so bitter cold as people warned. It's just that the sun rarely showed itself. We walked a lot. The first 4 months are chronicled by Jaime on her temporary blog abroad here. Scrolling through it, I realize that we did quite a bit in the first 4 months during little forced gaps/weekends when I wasn't working:
  • Spent some time the Somerset English countryside and fell in love with the area and people.
  • Took the Eurostar through the Chunnel to Paris a couple times for work and brought Jaime along once. That was something I've wanted to do with her since I went there for work in 2010. We had a wonderful time taking in the city, eating good food and just spending time together for a couple days. (Jaime's Day 1 post here.)
  • Took a train up to explore my Scottish heritage in Edinburgh. Ate Haggis. Smiled proudly when Jaime ordered her own Forsyth tartan scarf. Was nice to hang with the Scots, even if it was cold and wet up there.
  • Took the quick 3-day trip of the year with Jaime to Munich, Germany and Salzburg & Hallstatt, Austria. Rented a new VW Scirocco 2.0 TDI 6-speed and drove on the Autobahn, around lakes and windy Austrian Alp roads. And it was towed in Salzburg, just to add to the overall adventure. Such an amazing trip.
  • And of course explored all over London. Lots of street markets, good food, parks, museums, more food, London Symphony Orchestra, playing open mic nights, living the London life. Lots of walking, buses and the underground.
We missed our dog a lot. To the point where it ached sometimes. I had my work to keep me (very) busy, but Jaime was pretty much on vacation. Which was great but could be quite difficult for her too. No friends. No dog. No job. No church calling. Just London and me (when I wasn't working). My 3-6 month assignment kept being extended and she went back home at the end of April to relieve the best house sitters in the world, our friends Ben and Breanne.

I stayed in London through the middle of August and without Jaime I fell into the life of a London local. Not so much touring around (except the weekend Triumph motorcycle ride and showing visiting friends the sites). Just a lonely guy without his wife, working long hours and continuing to explore London on the weekends. With Jaime not around I ate a lot more Vietnamese, Indian and street food and I cooked for myself more, whereas when Jaime was in London, she did almost all the cooking since she didn't have much else to do.

I was in London when the riots went down which was very interesting to follow both on the UK news, US news and in person.

I was able to come home to Colorado for a couple weeks in May and then again in June, so splitting my time was nice, even if it did throw my brain for a fry fest, always working on London time regardless of where I was or how much I was able to sleep. I was able to play a couple gigs while I was home in Colorado and play open mics and work on new songs while in London.

Even with all these new experiences, the biggest change of 2011 came when Jaime picked me up at the Denver airport in mid May. She didn't wait for me to get in the car, she was beaming and told me right on the curb that she's pregnant. A boy, due January 14, 2012, just in time for the Mayan calendar to run out, I guess. Jaime makes for a very cute pregnant lady and we feel very blessed and excited. And then I was off, back to London for a few weeks. Then back to Jaime in Colorado for a couple weeks in June. Then back to London until August 14th. Jaime visited London for a week over my birthday in July, which was really nice break from my long distance life in London.

Then back home to Colorado for good (for now) in August. Besides generally enjoying being back in Louisville and Boulder and taking advantage of the normal day to day joys here, here are some other things I've been up to since being back stateside, not necessarily in order:

  • A Trip to Yosemite with Daniel and Francesca right away, climbed Half Dome in personal record time.
  • I climbed Longs Peak with Nate Woods and Zach Olsen in September.
  • Generally preparing for the baby and all that goes along with that (lots of classes Jaime signed us up for, shopping, researching, thinking, talking, more shopping.)
  • Remodeled the bathroom, painted the bedroom finally (which needed to be done since we moved in 2009), playing gigs, a hot air balloon ride on Jaime's 25th birthday, Durango Songwriters Expo for me.
  • A trip back east to hang out with my mom and Ian. A day in NY. 2nd annual "Vampire Weekend" and paintballing fun with friends at a rented cabin in Estes Park.
  • A great, simple Thanksgiving with Jaime's parents at home in Louisville, CO. My Grandpa Gordon Forsyth's 90th birthday we were able to share with him while he was in town. A cold spell, snow, and here we are. Almost Christmas.

What next? Oh yeah, a baby. Crazy. This year of deprived sleep patterns was probably good practice for next year.

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

Thursday, December 1, 2011

KUNC and The National Day of Listening

Have you heard of The National Day of Listening? NPR features StoryCorps interviews/stories every now and then, and the National Day of Listening (the day after Thanksgiving) is their way of encouraging everybody to take part and interview someone you love or admire (like a parent or a teacher) and record it for posterity. If you do it through StoryCorps, they catalog it in thr Library of Congress, and they may air it on the radio if you give permission.

KUNC was nice enough to offer up their professional resources to their listeners for free and we had a nice time pulling some interesting memories out of Grandpa the day after Thanksgiving. I had the chance to sit in on my aunt Heather Forsyth Kehr interviewing my grandpa Gordan James Forsyth in a pro radio booth at KUNC studios in Greeley, CO

Tangent: Wendy Wham is a DJ / Producer at KUNC who plays my music on the radio. I wanted to swing by her office / booth and say hi and meet her in person while I was there but she pre-recorded her show that day to take the holiday off. She later heard I was there and called me a couple days later and asked me to come in and record a feature on my music with her, so I'll be going in and doing that next week. Looking forward to it. If it turns out well and is aired, well, let's just say I love KUNC.

Enough about me, back to Grandpa. On Tuesday, they came over to celebrate Gandpa's 90th birthday at our place in Louisville, CO. I made three pizzas and I dare say it was some of the best pizza I've ever made. You really missed out. But you can listen to a recording of the interview from the National Day of Listening here on my posterous (and you can download the MP3 below).

01_Gordan_James_Forsyth_interview_No.mp3 Listen on Posterous

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place