24 Nov 2017, by

The Hamburger Phone

Liz and I are blessed to be able to provide for our children. Our kids have shelter from the elements and food to sustain them. I have lived in places that have taught me to never, ever take that for granted.

That being said….

I am obsessed with maintaining this tip-of-a-pyramid balancing act of providing for my kids without them becoming spoiled. Nobody wants spoiled kids, right? So the metric I use (imperfect as it may be) is the number of toys Finn and Lucy have. I would be strolling through Target with the kids and they would leap onto the cart and point as if they had spotted the white whale, their vibrating finger revealing something that they needed, please Dad! I won’t ask for anything else if I just get that!

And I, the Good Parent, would give them a self-satisfied smile and say something pithy, like “We can’t get that, honey. But! Good news! …I love you!”

I say that so much that they now mouth the words along with me, eyes rolling. They hadn’t really expected me to say yes, after all, and to their credit they would almost always drop it immediately. In that moment I would swell with pride that I had once again parried the Demon of Entitlement and poured still more Concrete of Righteousness in the moral foundation of my children.

Then, yesterday came. Yesterday I realized that I had failed wildly in this regard. That moment came when, while walking through our playroom, I tripped over an object I literally didn’t know we owned. That object was this:

It’s a hamburger phone.

I don’t know where it came from.

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When I was a senior in high school in Jersey City, my English teacher, Mr. Delo, assigned us a project: Each of us would keep a journal every day for consecutive seven days. He wasn’t going to read it – he wasn’t some creepasaurus rex – he would just make sure we had written something.

Anything? Like, it doesn’t have to be good, just write anything?”

“Anything. It’s just to get in the habit of writing regularly.”

“What if we just, like, copy the phone book for seven days?”

Mr. Delo shrugged. “You wanna copy the phone book, copy the phone book.”

Copying the phone book turned out to be staggeringly boring. So instead I wrote. Just one single page, about what happened that day. I wrote a page the next day, and the day after that, too.

I wrote in that journal every day for the next thirteen years.

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28 Apr 2014, by


I imagine that if aliens came to earth and landed in America, they would probably come away believing that in our country the way that we say hello is “How’s it going?” and the polite and appropriate response to that is for the second person to say “Busy!”

There may be a more overused word in our language, but I’m not sure what it would be.

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17 Sep 2013, by

The Beautiful Normal

It’s fall! And we’re in New Canaan, Connecticut, did I tell you that? We moved back in May after our crazy year in LA, though I’m beginning to suspect that every year in LA is a crazy year.

We probably didn’t make it any less crazy by living in Hollywood, I should add. Like, The Hollywood – and throw in the fact that driving Finn to preschool involved passing a whole lot of shops that sold things that you wouldn’t even be able to mention on basic cable, let alone want your four year old son to see, but I’ll tell you what: there are no hurricanes in LA, and for that we were grateful.

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Like a New Year’s resolution, packing up your house begins with burning passion and world-conquering confidence and ends flat on your back in despair, with a sigh and a mouth filled with trans-fats.

You’d think we would be used to moving by now. Liz and I have moved house – believe it or not – seven times in six years (not including my move from Kathmandu to DC in 2007). The smells of cardboard and bubble wrap are like crocuses in spring. Through the process, I’ve discovered that moving is a science. Unfortunately, I suck at science.

But for those of you who are desperate for somebody to tell them what to do, allow me to share….

The Seven Principles of Moving, by Conor, Who’s Not Very Good at This.

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