Song #1: “Cars Drive By”

Like all good dads, I keep a collection of shitty, out-of-tune guitars around for when my muse strikes.

Sometimes Zoe likes to make up songs in the car and work with the lyrics until they are perfect. Tonight she urged me to play along with some of her poetry. The muse had struck, making this the first of our recorded collaborations. She calls this “Cars Drive By” and it confronts gender and color stereotypes while blending autobiographical details with science fiction.

On this track, the discerning listener can hear the influence of Sue Tompkins via Life Without Buildings, though Zoe has said that Tompkins has a “weird” voice, and isn’t even singing at all.

Cars Drive By

Cars drive by
Cars drive by
cars cars cars cars
cars drive by
They fly
airplanes fly
…into space
that would be so weird.

Kids, if you’re watching this
you should be excited
because your car will go in space
tomorrow night, and Friday.
And that might be so cool
because you’re going to go into space
and blow up.
I wonder what that would be like, kids?

Hey, does your dad and mom like purple?
Well, that could be ok.
Does your brother or mom, or even you?

Papa, you talk.
(I like purple)

My dad likes purple and pink
My dad likes pink
Does your dad and mom like pink?

Pink is just a color and purple.

I am a girl and girls can like black and grey
I’m a girl and I like black and grey.
They are my most favorite colors.

Pink can be a boy color
It can’t just be a girl color
nothing is really a girl color
There’s no such thing as a girl color.

Is there a girl side at your school?
Do you sit next to a boy?
If you go to Lum and Miss Hare
You have to go in a pattern:
boy girl
boy girl

I hope you go there
because if you’re watching this
You’re going to be so excited if you go to Miss Hare’s this weekend.
They might be in first grade this week.
We don’t know.

Then we turned off the lights and she sang along to her playlist and breakdanced while I shined the “spotlight” on her.

Dammit: if being a dad isn’t just the best sometimes.

Life update: summer to early fall 2015

Oh wow. This one goes back to what seems like many lifetimes ago (it was six months). It’s now early October, and I wanted to get this one out before we spun into 2016. I’ve been very lazy at this, and selecting and resizing and uploading all these photos feels like what I just spent eight hours doing at work and I’m sure that’s what is preventing me from writing an inviting theme. But you and I are now officially caught up with Zoe stuff as I present: the Summer to September 2015 update.

Hey Ross.

When I last checked in with you it seemed like you were adjusting to living in your new apartment and working through some emotional issues regarding your divorce. You also bought a couch. I wanted to see if you were doing ok!

Dear Me.

You are so sweet to check in! (Ignores question. Posts 400 photos of Zoe.)


Zoe ate a burrito!

Zoe started showing an interest in “doing gum”.

We bought a kite and brought it to the beach. About ten minutes after this photo was taken, I probably threw the kite away in a fit of rage after it got tangled around itself. Or it flew into a high tree branch and we had to leave it. Such are kites.

Zoe brought a play camera home from pre-school and worked on her selfie game in the frozen food section of Trader Joe’s.

Some movie. Inside Out? Not sure. That’s why we scrapbook now.

“Papa, I really want to take the bus today.” It is nice having a low-maintenance child.

Here: sitting tough while waiting.

We like to ride the bus to the place where you paint stuff and then they cook it and a week later you pick it up.

We woke up particularly early one Sunday and walked to breakfast, but stopped and smelled each flower along the way.

The next day, we had to do something very early involving the upcoming school year. We ate bagels after in celebration.

May 2015

It was hot. Zoe swam.

I love creative surprises like these. “Look papa. I made my own computer.”


Zoe loves to collect flowers that have fallen to the ground. Sometimes I feel like I live inside one of my favorite books I Am a Bunny.

Before you are a parent, nobody tells you about the joy will receive while watching your kid, with an all-business face, trying to cut a slice of pizza.

“Can I get a special treat?” (i – iii)


Yoga in the park.

1. Pay the entrance to Chabot Space Center 2. The cost of going to the “Lego Workshop” 3. Spend most of your time watching the turtles in the pond.

Since everybody on the 90 dating apps that I’ve used (minimal results. If you’re trying to rebuild your self esteem and are sort of an unclassically handsome man, I can’t encourage you to go the route of virtual dating) says that they like to go hiking, I thought I would try it with my friend Ambrosia. It was fun. But hiking is just walking around on a trail and hoping a mountain lion won’t attack you.

The Berkeley Kite Festival. Cons: You have to drive to Berkeley; there are 4 parking spaces for a thousand people. Pros: it was beautiful and we got a little hike in (and ate happy hour sushi after).

“Just let the wind catch it,” I told Zoe. I think we were sitting in a localized weather pattern, at the kite festival, where there was no wind.


Taken on our way to have falafel.

Before it’s officially lights out at night, I encourage Zoe to draw on her own while I tidy up the house. She drew me flying a papa kite.

There is a puddle that we pass everyday that seems to regenerate itself overnight. “It looks like a mirror!”

“I want to have a coffee party in a tent.” So did I, Zoe. So did I.

We stopped to look at a snail near her preschool. While that may seem boring to you people with full, rich lives, I like to think I live in a world where I’m blessed with the time to spend a lot of moments with Zoe.

Her school was closed for some reason, in the middle of August, so I brought Zoe to work with me.

I talked to somebody for ten minutes, and when I came back, a bunch of my coworkers had built a hopscotch board (court?). These are people with things to do! but they were very sweet to Zoe.

Our sticks, rocks, acorns, shells, flowers collections threatened to get out of control, so we started to organize.

I remember this as the day we went to the beach and it was hot.

We wanted tropical drinks after, but this bar didn’t “have a blender” but it had great light.

Zoe’s final day at preschool was upon us, and she wanted to make cookies for everybody.

First day & last day. Nearly two years apart.

I had emotionally prepared myself for months for her last day. Sometimes I think Zoe is the most well-adjusted person alive. She’s been so great through everything, and manages to have an upbeat attitude about everything.

Zoe was off to Arizona, so I had some night coffee. I think I spent my time purposefully: watching all of Entourage (delicious fantasy) and Twin Peaks (great if you fast forward through 80% of it).

Zoe returned and had a big girl bed waiting for her.

I went into “last day of summer” mode, and took her to Fairyland (it seemed like summer went on for two months after this, but kindergarten did start a few days later).

She painted a “fairy box” to keep all her hair ties together. (It would later break as it came out of the kiln.)

First day of school.

First day of school, proper. Zoe was excited.


Zoe’s self portrait. “That’s my ponytail.”

Chopstick skills: not bad.

Me: Vande gurunam charanaravinde
Zoe: Papa, you’re so silly.

“Take a picture of our garden now and when it grows.”

I immediately regretted not buying these little planters from States Coffee.

Sometimes I worry that Zoe is such a good, well-behaved kid that she’ll be some sort of hellion teenager/adult (this is called pandering for grandparent’s comments).

Waiting for the bus.

Painting the tea set.

The aftercare people were astounded that Zoe had mastered Mancala, so it was a must-have purchase for home (I also bought this but nobody needs to see photos of me using that).

I always think “this is the last day of summer” and then it’s 96 degrees in September.

Zoe was bemoaning how we didn’t do taco night anymore. (She wanted Japanese food the week prior.)

Picture day is my favorite school holiday.

“I’m doing yoga on a slide!”

We were super excited about the Super Blood Moon. We drove around the island to get a good view, and it was really remarkable. Here Zoe is excited that there was a diamond shape created by overlapping shadows on the ground.

I always forget to check when the workshop is to help kids get off their training wheels.

We made s’mores and had them on the back porch because at this time of night during the final days of September it looked like everything was pink-tinged and the air smelled wet and it was definitely the happiest the most peaceful I have felt in over a year. Maybe because fall is officially here, or maybe the effort I’ve put into myself is starting to pay off, and maybe the need for order and control can threaten to ruin your sanity and you just have to take the plunge into the unknown where you just let go of most everything. I suspect this is what it feels like when you finally turn a corner and are happy about where you’re at, however transitional, and can start to feel unburdened and become hopeful about yourself and your future.

Life update: Late January to end of March


When I was in 10th grade, I used to constantly read my Quality Paperback Club’s edition of some giant book of quotations. One of my favorite quotes was “Live with yourself: get to know how poorly furnished you are” of which Google now tells me some satirist named Persius said or wrote somewhere old and boring. Turns out, when you separate after ten years and move into a small one bedroom, you quickly get to know how poorly furnished both you and your apartment are.

Items inside myself needing fixing (the usual suspects)

Self improvement

  • Weight. Always with the weight.
  • Managing anxiety.
  • Working through the grief of something lost
  • Getting back to a training schedule where I can successfully run another 10k this summer
  • Adjusting to life without an InSinkErator

Actual items

  • In need of a couch and a kitchen table, tv, rugs, curtains…

Me living alone: the first few months


It’s not really alone when you live with your self-pity.

Unfortunately or not, I thrive in a naturally lonely environment. I had to stop working from home or “The Day I Don’t Talk to Humans or See Sunlight” because I felt disoriented and strange by nightfall. And I wasn’t exactly alone: I had my “Friends” on Netflix to keep me company during the hours of “sad” to “what’s going to happen to my life?” to “I think everything is going to be fine” to “my apartment so eerily quiet at 2am”

For those of you wondering: living alone after being married for 8 years is a little like this:


This little nugget. Here we are hanging out at my favorite bar. I mean Target. I mean the place I go to for human companionship, but don’t actually know anybody. One time a little girl was lost and I helped her find her mommy, so I guess Target is a place where I am a hero. I spent a lot of time at Target getting the new place decorated in a style I’d call “I bought most of my stuff at Target.”

The sweetest baby always makes the sweetest art™.

For a palate cleanser, we go to Fairyland.

Moving in

Moving into my own place was typically both very wonderful and a little sad. But I think I like being sad (it’s emotionally like wearing comfortable sneakers), so it all worked out, which I think I can say accurately because enough time has passed since living it and writing about it and constantly talking about it to people who listen politely and then a guy I had to pay to listen to me talk about it.

Zoe enjoying the abundant closet space.

Zoe enjoying the cafe near our house.

Zoe enjoying the lack of furniture.

Although I searched online for couches and tables, we ended the month with the same low level of furniture we started out with.

However, after weeks of searching for “mid-century modern” couches and then 1. not wanting to spend above $1,000 for a couch 2. knowing that Zoe would eventually throw up on it, I bought a couch from Macy’s and then waited two weeks for it to be delivered. Oh, but the day it arrived…things would never be the same again.

Zoe painting at her chum’s party

New location, new park.

And then Zoe was sick for two weeks.

Not to brag, but I’m pretty handy, as installing this clever coffee shelf shows.

(Baby) Theo turned one!

Zoe’s pal Dresden had a birthday. There was pizza.

Zoe talked about going to the party constantly for weeks. When we got there, she played 500 feet away from everybody, gathering flowers. God, I love her. She is my everything.

We bought a Frisbee because it seemed like it would be fun to throw around in the park. And it was. For two minutes, before Zoe didn’t want to do that anymore.

Zoe was more interested in a few pieces of wood that looked like a pencil and paper.

I started getting a little more serious about trying to get into shape.

Interim break to check in on my mental wellness

Ross…you seem to only hang out with Zoe. Is everything ok? Are you getting back out there? Meeting new people?


Days before her 5th birthday, this little friend of mine picked a flower for a brunch gathering.

Zoe’s 5th birthday

Zoe freshly delivered.

Walking around Crab Cove with Grandma.

We are lucky to live near a fine burrito place.

An unexpected trip from Nathan and family before they officially relocate all their stuff to New Zealand. They also passed down their TV and rug and many other items. It was extremely kind of them.


So, a few months into living alone, I would rate my current mindset between “processing and adjusting” and “moving forward” but always: “Will the gentleman be dining on the sofa alone again this evening?” Since it is now the end of May, I’m feeling pretty good about things in a guardedly optimistic way. Also, I finished Friends in January, which now seems so long ago, and moved on to The Good Wife, but that will have to wait for another update.

Because this post started around my 42nd birthday, here is a bonus look back at past birthdays:

(31, 39)

Zoe’s Pre-k Graduation

I have just returned home from Zoe’s pre-school graduation, which was held on a beautiful May evening*. The ceremony was, in keeping with everything at Fuzzy Caterpillar, adorable and sweet. Zoe’s two years at Fuzzy C were near perfect: she was always very well looked after and learned about all the right stuff (“recycling is good for the planet”, “don’t talk during book time”, “Obama is president”). And the art. So much wonderful art.**

Thank you teachers!

First day

First day: July 15, 2013

And two years later:

Graduation Graduation

Hugging teacher Tali
Hugging teacher Tali.

Spreading her wings
The caterpillar now is a butterfly with wings ready to fly.

Caps off!
Caps off!

Wings spread
“How does one become a butterfly?”
“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” -Trina Paulus​​

Zoe and Papa
Zoe with the author.

Zoe and butterfly

And then we ate the victory sushi of graduate winners. (Quick tip: the kids tofu teriyaki bento box dinner at Katsu Sushi House will and did feed three.)

*I brought tissues as it was advised to do, but only cried internally which is more painful. I did cry in the comfort of my home earlier. Actually, what I did was more like weeping. Parenting is obviously a cruel and wonderful mix of wanting your child to stay sweet and attached to you but have them grow up and become their own person but still say they love you so much.

**I would thus give the coveted Rosstralia Endorsement to Fuzzy Caterpillar Preschool, and recommended it to anyone seeking a pre-school.

Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp

Cerulean Salt was pretty good, Ivy Tripp is great.

Here they knock out Poison

And “Breathless” all solo acoustic style.