Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got Nothing

From Ridley:

I've got nothing.

Subjects I considered writing about:

Pirates -- not the Johnny Depp variety. But as I was about to start writing about what it takes to be a Navy Seal, a wire story came across my desk that another US vessel had been attacked (grenade launchers) and survived the attack, finally delivering humanitarian aid to Kenya. Pirates attacking humanitarian aid ships? Disgusted, I moved on.

12-year-old daughters. Our daughter turns 12 tomorrow. Corny as it sounds: "it can't be." I can look back on the calendar, but something is wrong -- it hasn't been twelve years. Can't possibly be. I held her in one hand. She's now 5' 4" and looks more 17, which kills me, I might add. But she still curls up with me when we read together (we had our legs crossed over one-another's two nights ago -- I could have stayed that way for hours!) Now it's boys, and texting, and the school honor roll, and did I mention boys?

The End Of The Cast: our youngest (10) gets her removable cast off in about 2 hours. Six weeks of a broken ankle. Under the For Better Or For Worse column, from day one of the cast she decided I, daddy, would be the one to change her clothes--twice a day, remove and replace her boot-like-cast, and to bath her. She has shunned mommy for the past several weeks--her usual alliance. I guard her going up and down stairs (despite this she fell last week and we had an instant of thinking she'd broken the other ankle!). So here's the thing: it doesn't take a village; it takes a cast. My daughter and I are closer, we laugh more, we get the other's jokes--than we've been in several years. One broken ankle and we've tightened up our relationship in a way that might have never happened. What a strange world this is.

Goodbye To Shanghai: My wife and I made the difficult decision to return to the US for next year's school year. The decision wrenched us; we have fallen in love with this city and country in a way that ... well, I'm still not convinced we can actually bring ourselves to leave it. But we are scheduled to come home for the summer and not come back. My teaching at the university stands out as one of the great gains of being here; I wouldn't have guessed that last July. The way our two daughters have grown and matured -- they are comfortable city girls now, able to wade out into floods of daunting traffic while carrying a conversation, and cross the street without a raised eyebrow. Corny again: we may leave this place, but it won't leave us. Sorry, but that's the truth.

And maybe that's why I've got nothing this week. I'm stuck in the sentimental lane, and you can't write about sentimental without seeming just mental. So I'll shut up now, and hope to find something for next week.


  1. For a guy who had nothing, you sure delivered something.

    You are an adventurous fellow. I say that as I recline in the Barcalounger, watching SportsCenter, dreaming of foreign ports of call.

    Dreaming. Not doing.

  2. I agree. Your nothing is something wonderful. Might there be a book for us in this China experience?

  3. that sure was a lot of nothing.

    12 is a difficult age, but take my word for it, it will get worse before it gets better. so enjoy it while you can.

    my girls are the same. whenever they are sick they just want their daddy - even at the ripe old age of 24 and 25. no mother, no doctor, no boyfriend - just daddy.

    good luck with your move, it's tough, i know!


  4. What's wrong with 'the sentimental track'? The memories from it resound throughout our lives - as you are finding out. And you write about them so darn well.

    What a wonderful relationship you have with your family, Ridley, even as a Dad dismayed with the budding teenage daughters. Hang in there. The ride might get a bit bumpy at times, but it's worth it in the end.


  5. Sentimental, yes. Nothing, no.


  6. I loved this post - your nothings hit a few nails of something right on the head. Would love to read more of your nothings ...