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December 13th, 2012

December 14, 2012

Dear Jeremy,

As I am writing this letter to you your mother and I are in an airplane that is descending towards the Canadian city of Montreal in celebration of her 30th birthday. As the plane is landing I am watching us navigate gracefully through strata of clouds like one might dip their head through the layer of soap bubbles floating atop a warm and relaxing bath…the sun in the distance is obstructed by the infinite horizon and thousands of miles in a neon pink and purple show beyond any electric show created by man. On take off and now in our initial decent the totality of man’s world, civilization, both American and Canadian become so pretty, so petty, and so limitlessly trivial in the comparison of the larger scheme that wealth, fame, and disagreement seem entirely without merit.

While I know that each of these has their place in the minutia of daily lives, looking down at the world from the height of an airplane puts things in a perspective that is a sharp and clear reminder that the stresses your mother and I face in our day-to-day battle to pay mortgage and supply food is important but also in deep need of context. We are fond of saying that “There’s (insert problem) and then there’s the sun.” Meaning that no matter what problems we face in our lives, the universe, or even more locally the Earth, will still go on regardless of the outcome. For some that may make life seem futile and lend itself to nihilism but for others, like us, it is inspiring to make a cascading change in the world.

Your mother and I are, or at least attempt to be, enactors of positive change in the world. I have pointed my life towards the goal of both education and edification, while your mother has pointed herself to the mental and emotional well being of others. Together we endeavor to create children who will make positive waves as well.

It is easy to get caught up in the politics, the nastiness, and the smaller gripes of humanity and civilization but looking at the world from thousands of feet in the air I thought it might be good to take a moment to share a few pointers that you’ll need as a man—and that when you’re 25 and I’m 50 that you can remind me of. Please share them with your sister—I know that she will be well versed in them as well.

  • Make your choices for you. If you aren’t happy you won’t be able to make anyone else happy, nor will anyone be able to make you happy.
  • Find something you love doing and try to do that for all your life. If that thing helps people somehow, all the better.
  • Have principles and set them as the foundation of your life, never compromise their spirit but be open to their reinterpretation.
  • You will catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar…but when the hell do you want to catch flies?
  • If you have to tell someone to go to hell, tell them in a way that they enjoy the trip.
  • Don’t sweat the petty things (and by “things” I mean “people”).
  • There will always be a tomorrow. Don’t get too beat up by today. Learn from yesterday, but don’t carry it around with you for the rest of your life.
  • Hate is a heavy burden. Forgive, but don’t forget. Accept people for what they are and adjust your actions and interactions accordingly.
  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch (unless your grandparents are buying).
  • Politicians are going to politic you. Vote for what you think is right, and know what you think is right when you vote.
  • Always have a screwdriver, a clean shirt, and jumper cables in the trunk of your car.
  • You are never too old for cartoons, and comic books can entertain you for a lifetime.
  • Read everything, know as much as you can.
  • If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

I mean, I suppose there is a lot more about life, and that’s what this blog is all about. Sometimes I get caught up in the politics of the day and I forget to give you a clear picture of the things I want you to know—the ways I try to live my life beyond what I think is right and wrong…this is about what I think is good too. Life is good if you let it be good. From up in the sky, where everyone below is small enough for me to block them with my thumb it is evident that life is small, precious, and short. It is equally important to be well and right as it is to be good. The differences sometimes get lost in the wash, and seem minute but are as infinite as the setting neon horizon.

Love,

Your Father

PS: My god boy! You are amazing. I’ve been having conversations with you as if you were a real person (and you are!). Everyday some new sentence, phrase, and notion flies out of your mouth. It’s astounding. You are equal parts terror, friend, and protector to your sister. Right now you are spending these three nights we are away at home with my mother, and your mother’s parents—Bamma Cheryl, Bamma Ernie, and Poppy G. You are the light of the life of everyone you meet—you and your sister alike—and I watch you with awe and wonder as each day passes. Keep it up, and make some money for dear ol’ dad while yer at it.

 

July 20th, 2012

July 20, 2012

Dear Jeremy,

 As I am writing this letter to you I know that it has been some time since my last one. It has been on my mind for sometime to drop another “Letter to Jeremy” but for one reason or another my various other writing projects, or the actual day-to-day of life have prevented me from doing so. Several milestones have passed us by, your sister is teething and learning to crawl, you are talking in full sentences at your own discretion, Mitt Romney is the Republican presidential hopeful in the 2012 election against Barack Obama, and blockbuster movie season is in full swing. I could talk to you about any of these things but there is something else I choose to discuss.

 At this very moment you are watching Batman: The Animated Series—the Batman cartoon of my youth—on our DVR as you swing around a stuffed Flash doll. This makes me swell in my nerd heart even as you have already this morning dropped your bottle in the toilet during potty training, broken a vase, and made a mess all over the floor of your egg. This is the way of things with 2 year old Jeremy Stone Melendez. The reason I bring up Batman, specifically, however is because I was awoken this morning to somewhat disheartening news by your mother. You see today, July 20th of 2012, is the opening day of the much anticipated Dark Knight Rises movie—the end of Christopher Nolan’s cinematic Batman trilogy. That is not the chilling news. As it turns out last night, at a midnight showing of the film in Aurora, Colorado there was a shooting and many people are dead and injured, including children.

As the episode of Batman-TAS “I Almost Got Him” rolls on, various Batman villains are discussing “almost killed Batman” moments. You are playing with your trains and watching the cartoon. Perhaps its not the best thing to show a 2 year old but, hey, Elmo and Caillou can’t keep me sane. Regardless, I look at you watching this cartoon and I am unable to stop thinking about the 3 month old baby and the 6 year old kid that were killed in a shooting at a midnight showing of a movie by an insane assailant wearing a gas mask. The first thought in my head, as a parent, is about how terrible that is. My second is wondering why the hell two kids that age were at a midnight movie. But the third is more important—why shouldn’t you be able to bring your kids to the movies without worrying about the children being shot.

 Of course, the notion isn’t lost on me as I consider that some children probably lost a parent or both in last nights shooting. The irony of that being that the character of Batman also lost his parents after seeing a movie when they were both shot. The only difference being the psychological trauma dealt to all the victims of this shooting and their families will not be remedied with vigilante justice wrapped in a stylized cape and cowl. I wonder to myself “Is this what we’ve come to?” There are innumerable arguments pro and con gun regulations regarding the Second Amendment but certainly this is something of a heavy weight on the pro side. This same community has endured unexpected shootings of this sort in the past with the tragic shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. The assailant, now in custody, is claiming to have explosives in his apartment and the FBI is unsure as to how to enter the premises. Seeing as he, like a Batman villain might—even perhaps in homage of cinematic Bane—was wearing a gasmask at the time of the shooting, it is likely that he is well armed with ordinance and artillery of some sort.

 The Second Amendment is something of a slippery beast to deal with because it is a right built into our national DNA and keeps us safe from the Government’s thrall. Various attempts have been made to somehow curb this kind of massacre from occurring but as a cowboy nation, and one rightfully fearful of government servitude, we cannot take the right to bear arms off the table. It becomes an insane Catch-22 where removing the guns puts us at the mercy of possible fascism while keeping them accessible puts us at the mercy of possible maniac massacre.

Again, I don’t have the answers to this particular question, and I think that there is something actually more systemically wrong that guns and gun control. Guns were just as accessible in other generations and massacres of this sort were far less frequent (even when factoring in the advent and relative affordability of automatic weapons). Sure tales of the wild west illicit imaginings of the OK Corral, and shootouts with Billy the Kid and so forth and the early 20th century conjures the same images of Tommy Guns and Gangsters but even these are examples of criminals vs. the law and not maniacs vs. the unsuspecting.

When I was talking about this massacre with your mother she was quick to note that New York gets a bad rap when it comes to gun violence but this almost never happens in New York. I remember a few isolated incidents from my youth in Jamaica or Sunrise Multiplex but even those only saw single injuries or fatalities (if memory serves), and certainly nothing to the extent of Friday morning’s slaying. Where do these kinds of shootings happen? Middle America. Where its’ supposed to be “safe”. Where these acts of violence don’t occur because they aren’t inner city areas with high crime rates and rampant drug problems. Yet in little more than a decade the same small, apparently safe community has had two of these shootings. Last year’s shooting of Senator Gifford in gun friendly Arizona wasn’t in an inner city either. So now the stereotype of a killer is the impoverished minority or the isolated white guy (disclosure: I’m assuming the shooter is white)? So, anyone can be a killer? Guns don’t kill people, people kill people…right? But don’t guns make it just a touch easier to kill 16 people or better from one spot?

I’ll admit Jeremy this letter is largely reactionary. The event I am responding to happened less than 12 hours ago and details are still developing, but the shooter isn’t denying his involvement either. He’s apparently ready to deal with the guilt—or lack there of. But I keep thinking of the dead, especially the young children and babies and feel like someone is going to be proposing legsliation to keep kids out of movie theaters after curfew before they seriously approach the problem of gun control that balances the need to keep fear in the government and the need to feel safe on the streets. Perhaps in the year 2035 when I’m 50 and you’re 25 guns will be a thing of the past and we’ll have made First Contact with the Vulcans. Of course, we’ll be using phasers…but at least you can set those to stun…and that’s a step in the right direction. Until then, remember I love you very much…and I’m still going to see Batman tonight, though I won’t be bringing you and Ayla with me.

 Love,

 Your Father

 

P.S. I cannot get over the sudden burst of language coming form you at every turn. You know your letters pretty well, and colors and numbers are emerging nicely.You truly enjoy playing with your sister, and are so good to her. While you decided to suddenly start emulating things I do while I’ve been spending the summer with you two I’ve made a point to teach you potty training, showering, and washing hands. Sometimes you just like to break shit and that’s ok too. After all you’re only 2 years old. It is the highlight of my life spending time with you kids in such great amounts, and that said I’m glad to have help from friends and family. Also you love to shout “I’m Batman!” and run around the house. I’ll have to remember to show all your girlfriends the video when you’re a teenager—they are bound to think its super cool.

 

March 24th, 2012

March 24, 2012

Dear Jeremy,

This world is full of cowards and racists. There is a special kind of hell that exists for people who can abandon their beliefs and those who create intangible divisions between people. I have always tried—and at times failed—to judge people by the simple and elegant guidelines of Dr. King: by the content of character and not the color of their skin. Additionally I try not to judge people by their gender, sexual preference, religion, mental facilities, or physical abilities. As a special educator it is my personal belief in equity over equality in the school setting but in equality before the blind eye of the law. As a person who is not deeply religious I do hold sacred the idea of social equity and legal equality and have and will try to instill that notion in you kids…but others, a vast number of others, do not; will not; cannot.

I worry about you and now your sister Ayla in this world full of racists, xenophobes, zealots, and extremists. As it is the world is becoming increasingly polarized—not just America, but everywhere—the middle ground of compromise is losing territory in the political landscape and, I fear, someday soon we will arrive at a terrible impasse where not only will ideology butt heads with ideology but the practice of tolerance and compromise—diplomacy—will have no practitioners, and certainly no champions.

I worry about what you and your sister will pass as, not because I care but because others do. To be clear, I could give a flying fuck what others care about—especially when it comes to you and your sister: you’re my kids and I’ll raise you how I see fit. What I’m talking about specifically is how safe you will be in the world. You’ll have several things working against you in a world of xenophobic, racist, ignoramuses:

1)    Your last name is Melendez

2)    You are brown (not like black folks brown but certainly not an Irish paste)

3)    You’re Jewish

4)    You will be mistaken for Asian (even though you are Pacific Islander)

5)    You will be mistaken for cocaine or marijuana “connect”

So there you have it. Its going to be hard enough for you to identify with a group as Jewish Puerto Rican Filipinos but it seems you are prey to complicated racism as well. You are one trip too far from home from being a brown, spic, kike, chink, drug dealer. It’s a dangerous mix to be for sure…and nobody would believe it in fiction. But fact is stranger. Sure, there are probably many positive stereotypes that will be attributed to you—it’ll be assumed that you are smart, it’ll be assumed that you are rich, it’ll be assumed that your speak Spanish. Hopefully I’ll make enough money as a writer and we can make all those things true…but also there are more dangerous, negative things people will attribute to you. Christ Killer. Illegal Immigrant. Car Thief. Mugger. Lawyer. And just because will live in New York won’t always keep you safe—perhaps you’ll have a better shot of not being physically hurt but psychologically, emotionally you’ll still be prime prey.

The reason I am bringing this up has largely to due with the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. A young boy (Trayvon Martin) found himself on the wrong end of a racist one night in February as he was coming back from the store to get candy and iced tea for his brother during halftime of a basketball game. Due to the unfortunate fact that he chose to wear a hoodie in winter a total fucking nutbag by the name of George Zimmerman was under the impression that young Trayvon was dangerous. He was of course armed to the teeth with illegal hollow point Skittles.

Honestly, there isn’t any room for levity in this case.

George Zimmerman called the police and stayed on the phone with 911 as he pursued this young man into an alley, even though the dispatch told him not to through his casual deployment of foul racial slurs. George Zimmerman chased down the young man, guilty only of buying sugary foods and, as is illustrated in a blood chilling 911 phone call with a neighbor, murdered that boy in cold blood. The neighbors 911 phone call actually disturbed me to no end as I listened to it on the radio, more so than the cold and heartless phone call Zimmerman made because the woman on the phone is describing the scene she sees of pursuit as Martin screams for help, pleads to the world for assistance, and is quickly silenced by two unwarranted shots to the chest.

Martin was only 17 years old.

In fairness, I knew little about him. I don’t know if he was a model student or a slacker; if he was a good brother or was caught in the one act of kindness he ever committed for him; if he was a writer or an athlete or musician or mathematician. None of it matters. Few of us know who we are 17 and no one will now know for this poor child. I had a friend, Delano Samuels, who died from an accidental gun shot at 16. His death was tragic, and it saddens me to think of what he may have been, where he may have gone, what he might of accomplished, and what children he may have himself had. I think about the fact that his younger brother Daniel is actually older by far now than his elder brother ever was. My friend’s death was sad and tragic—but in the end was an accident that came from kids being dumb and playing with a loaded gun. Trayvon Martin’s death is a travesty—an implicit act of violence fueled by racism and god knows what other branches of ignorance.

I rarely agree with Al Sharpton but in a demonstration last week he called for the arrest of Zimmerman—who has walked the streets since the incident—citing that you cannot defend yourself with a gun against iced tea and Skittles. Zimmerman claims it was self-defense because there was “something” in Martin’s sweatpants. There was nothing. The man walks the streets. If the races had been reversed and a black man shot a white teenager he’d have been in jail so fast you’d have thought he was born there. Sharpton continued, expressing how weary he is of dead children, and children in jail, and children without justice. Louis Farrakhan (with whom I never agree) has stated that “where there is no justice there shall be no peace”. In a country where the guy who flour-bombs Kim Kardashian gets arrested right away and George Zimmerman walks the street people should protest, act out; let the powers that be know that this will stand.

This could just as easily be you Jeremy. Or your sister. Or anyone with a grudge against a type. President Obama has stated that if he had a son he would have looked like Trayvon Martin. Who is to say you aren’t brown enough or ethnic enough to look “dangerous and on drugs” as a teenager. Should they shoot you for no god damned reason and hide behind a law that is being perverted to grant sanctuary to a murderer when it was constructed to give safe haven to victims? No.

This country has come a long way in my lifetime, even longer in your grandfather’s lifetime, and even further yet in my grandfather’s lifetime—this kinda shit just shouldn’t happen anymore. Its 2012 not 1712—murder is a crime. Murdering an innocent is tragedy. Murdering a child is a sin. I swear to you, I would avenge you in blind and biblical rage for even a fraction of the abomination that is unfolding in this case. God must be guiding the Martin family from enacting a righteous fate upon this man—and for the better. It is best handled in court. It’s open and shut. Or it should be.

As Tim Wise asserts (constantly) our society still has a heavy weight of institutional racism built into its mind—not the letter of the law per se, but in its executors. Stereotypes come from somewhere for sure but we should have grown beyond this kind of indifference to justice. There are large societal ills that cause high cases of lower income and impoverished crime rates and lower income and impoverished black people seem to get the worst of it (I don’t have statistics on that I’m going with a biased stereotypical perception and assumption) but the institutional racism that exists is pervasive and engrained in our national psychology, and well as the opposing desire to eradicate it by many my generation.

Perhaps in the year 2035 when I am 50 and you are 25 we’ll have moved far beyond it, and we are all a grey hued people as South Park predicted, and I hope so but I think people will always be scared of the other, the different, whatever, but for now these issues are complicated. This case is not. Lock the man up. Bring him to court. Hopefully this will be the last straw for cases of injustice like this—it certainly isn’t the straw the broke the camel’s back as this particular camel has been dead and broken so long its probably fossil fuel by now.

As always, I can’t give you the answers. By the time you read this, you’ll probably have them already. I just hope these blogs find you well and guide you deftly in the event that I am unable to.

Love,

Your Father

PS: I have swollen with nerd pride as you now identify superheroes as Batman. I am working it. Your vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds and your speech development is amazing. Your sentences are growing more frequent and complicated (give the 2-4 word length they operate at of course). I marvel everyday at your growth. You’ve also taken your first set of headshots and will hopefully start bringing in some modeling money. So all that time I’ve been telling you to get a job might just pay off.

March 5th, 2012

March 5, 2012

Dear Jeremy,

With your second birthday looming just over the next sunrise I am addressing this letter to you so that you know that this year is turning out to be quite the polarizing year in our country. It’s been quite a polarizing decade, honestly, and perhaps even further if I would put in the proper time to trace it. While your difficulties in compromising are understandable, as you are head-first into the onset of your terrible twos, our countries current inability—in our flawed two-party process—to find ways to compromise in our democratically appointed, legislative bodies is becoming ever the larger albatross to any kind of forward movement in our nation. Perhaps, I wonder, this could be explained be the fact that we are not yet through our terrible two-hundreds—I hope we can make it through this tumultuous stage. (Side note, I am attempting to make these letters a bit more digestible and focused, let me know how I’m doing)

Yes, even though I consider myself a center liberal I am calling for moderation and compromise on the hill. Some of my conservative, right wing, progressive, and liberal friends will call me indecisive or uncommitted for it, but I think that the greatest benefit of democracy should be the compromises that arise from political discourse. That is to say that I believe it is actually permissible to make concessions to the opposite party in trying to forge ahead with a political agenda so that a happy medium can be found. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours—of course this has its limits and should be closely watched so that the ugly head of corruption doesn’t rear its head but essentially that is how a varied and free society is supposed to function.

With that in mind, we have a Presidential election this year, with a sitting democrat in Barack Obama, and the Republican Party is going in at full force. High on both parties hit list of re-election bullet points is, what boils down to, no quarter given and none received when it comes to political bargaining. With a congress in single digit approval ratings, I think anyone willing to objectively look at that particular strategy has not boded well for the junior Tea Party members in congress, nor has it for the sitting GOP or democrat Senate and House members. Obama’s approval rating is low, but so is almost every other federal elected official’s. What does it boil down to? Bad economy, yes, but beyond that lays the overarching problem of the lack of true bargaining and compromise.

The GOP over the last six months has thrown out a motley crew of willing opponents to Obama; each displaying their own brand of unwillingness to compromise with the other half of the political spectrum. The right is geared towards demonizing the left as socialists, apologists, pinko scum while the left accuses its opposite number of being racist, elitist, corporate, fat cats. While stereotypes are born of truth I, simply by walking the streets and leaving my living room, see clearly that neither of the assertions are true in the larger scheme of America—or at least the Greater New York Area. The GOP candidates (and the incumbent Democratic Party leaders) however are more illustrative of those claims—though they still are markedly hyperbolic. Mitt Romney has been quoted as stating, in terrible economic times with a real unemployment rate (not the inflated politicized number) at about 17%, “I am not overly concerned with the poor”.

That, when coupled with the fact that the main GOP front to attack the President on (besides the economy) is Obamacare—a health care reform that is largely based on the one Romney put into place during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts—seems to automatically invalidate his political savvy or even clout in my opinion. At this time however he is racking up the states in the primary and we shall see what Super Tuesday (also known as your birthday) will bear. I tend to think it will be a Romney candidacy. Newt Gingrich is too focused on repainting the skeletons in his living room (having long since taken part of the massive white flight from his closet to gentrify the rest of his house) and of course, moon bases while Santorum is too focused on remaining number two and Paul is just staying in to be the modern day Perot or Nader.

Romney’s lack of concern for the poor is indicative of what will amount to his unwillingness to compromise with the left in finding happy mediums to corporations and unions, to revitalize the middle class, and possibly find ways to bring manufacturing back to the States and finding ways to redistribute wealth by circulating money (the capitalist method of HAVING BUISNESSES THAT EMPLOY LOCALS) as opposed to the heavy taxation method (which is not to say that I think “Corporations are people” as Romney has been quoted as saying nor do I think that the mega rich are paying their fair fare share).

Obama, for all his faults, has some merits—I would not have been able to go to grad school without federalizing student loans, nor would I be able to reconsolidate those payments without those efforts, and his talk is good. I’m still waiting for him to make good on some of his talk—I could really use some teaching jobs to pop up as that would really match well with the grad school thing he helped me out with or at least some shovel ready work. I’m not sure where that went. Also I’m waiting for that major streamlining of redundant federal offices (not a call for “small government” but rather a call for “efficient and financially responsible government).

This election year will soon be hitting critical mass as the republican candidate will be anointed in the coming months and then the DNC and RNC will convene to kick off the actual campaign and election. I’m calling an Obama victory at this point but not without a fair amount of scrapes and bruises, and angry scowls on the president’s transparent veneer. Maybe a good knock around and an evenly split Congress will force some real compromise to occur. Additionally, maybe we should go back to the good old days of voting for Vice President separately of the President to force the hand of compromise (as the VP runs the Congress and NASA supposedly). Not sure. But we shall see. Soon enough. I remember some guy touting change a few years ago, and sure enough one way or another change is gonna come, I just hope it isn’t on the end of a rifle. Of course, by the time you are reading this when you’re 25 and I am 50 this will all be fixed, and our new overlords the Space Ants will have solved all our problems. Until then…

Love,

Your Father

PS- You are talking more and more every day. It is quite the ride to try to understand you as you throw a thousand syllables a minute at us. You love to torture Chewy more with each day and a truly protective of your sister, Ayla. You’ve been flourishing in school, and have started what I hope will be a lifelong love affair with books and a developmental fling with Elmo. Only time will tell. Happy 2nd Birthday! You make me proud every day.

January 10th, 2012

January 10, 2012

Dear Jeremy,

2012 has arrived! All fearing the Aztecs should start packing up their gear for the ominous apocalypse that undoubtedly is going to drop upon our heads some 11 months hence. Until then though, we gotta keep living in the here and now. I must apologize for my lack of full length and regular correspondence with you, as I have been under quite a bit of hectic stress these past six months.

I started a position at a charter school in Brooklyn in mid august, which incidentally, you might notice is about the time these letters fell short of the usually sporadic delivery. The commute to the school was laborious and the rigors of the job proved to be quite an undertaking.

During that time I was under quite a bit of duress, and found that the expectations set for me were often shifty, unclear, or impossible. I can only speak for myself of course, as I had a number of colleagues who were able to get along swimmingly there. While there was a tension beneath the surface, many of the other teachers were able to make a go of it under in a situation that supervised by fear in an environment that appeared to be invented on a week-by-week basis.

As I’m sure you can gather from the context, we are here in 2012 and I am not longer at that school. Through a series of abusive entanglements I met an end of employment there that has been, on paper, described as “no fault”; I myself have been describing that end as “philosophical differences”. Regardless of the nature of the change, in the end I would not allow myself to be bullied, tortured, and made to feel inferior. Unfortunately this means we have fallen on some tough economic tides. The bright spot is that I have found some work in a beautiful school district in Long Island. It is a wonderful opportunity, however the function I am in is not equal to the function I was filling and, as is fitting, I am not compensated at the same rate.

On that note I was able to secure an adjunct professorship at Metropolitan College of New York for the spring semester. This is a dream come true because, believe it or not your father has lofty aspirations of being a stodgy old professor. One step at a time and slowly we’ll achieve. While our home situation is tighter than a noose, I have faith in our ability as a family to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and do what we have to. In a bad market for teaching I was able to secure two jobs in the field—and while they don’t quite make the difference of the money I was making before it just goes to illustrate what your mother and I will no doubt be telling you all your life: there is always work if you are willing to find it.

This brings me to an interesting point. When my employment at the charter school ended, I reluctantly went to sign up for unemployment benefits. I was fairly certain that I would be able to collect because, here I was: unemployed, actively looking for work, with a mortgage to pay, and mouths to feed. Imagine my surprise and horror to find that I was ineligible. Luckily, I was able to find work within a few days of that news. This made me think terribly though. I was in a distraught position…I couldn’t fathom how an educated person with responsibilities, who made all the right choices in life, and always paid his taxes could find himself in such a situation. I wasn’t looking to unduly abuse the system, nor was I looking for a hand out. What criteria did I actually have to fit in order to collect? I couldn’t say for certain.

I went to the library shortly after being released from my position and took out Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. The imagery of Guy Fawkes masks in confluence of my sudden drop into the 99% seemed very appealing to me. I felt, not a complete kindred awareness with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but certainly many of the factors that contributed to their genesis. Guy Fawkes masks abound and all that.

In addition to the position at the school I was able to secure a paying gig at one of the better High Schools in the country, only not as a head teacher. While this is a little discouraging I prefer to look at it as an amazing opportunity. Not to sound cliché but when one door closes, another opens—albeit slowly. So here I was, a man who was out of work in a bad economy, with hiring freezes on, and through quick networking and searching was able to find two jobs.

I started wondering about the different factors that contributed to this—in such a bad market, a bad economy, the Great Recession. Without a doubt, my education played a role. I wouldn’t have the credentials to work in a school—excessively qualified or not—without my Master’s Degree. Secondly, having good relationships in school and work helped me because I was able to tap those networks in order to speak with administrators who were able to help me. Something nagged me in the back of my mind though. Something that my background in American Urban Studies and experiences growing up could let me over look.

Passing as white.

Even though my last name is Melendez, I often wonder how far “passing as white” gets me. As you well know I do not consider myself to be white. As a Jew I would never have been traditionally considered white, and the blanching of Jews in American culture—while still only mostly concrete in developed urban areas—really only came about in the past 80 years in the United States with the increased number of collegiate Americans. As Puerto Ricans, our family is brown but not dark; and if the plot of West Side Story is any indication of the general feeling of Americans that doesn’t make me white either. I do, however, present as some kind of white ethnic person—most often I am mistaken for or presumed Italian until my last name comes up.

I have been wondering if perhaps my education in balance with my ethnic last name and my passing-white-visage created something of a perfect storm for my relatively quick re-employment. It certainly didn’t help me any with the social services offices that seemed to almost demand by their formulaic questions that I be uneducated, destitute, and darkly hued. It mattered little that we were on the brink of defaulting on the mortgage, teetering on a zero balance, and on the threshold of hunger. We walked in that social services office and they told us our cars were too new for our kids to be hungry. So, I can only wonder if the same first glance helped me to attain a job. It begs the question about the justifications of affirmative action. I’ve never taken much of a stance on affirmative action because I have never experienced the issue that it seeks to remedy.

I’ve had conversations with highly education African Americans about the topic, and its justifications; about the rally to create and equal playing field. I always wonder how equitable a quota is. In abstraction of race issues, I think most would agree that the best suited for a job is the one best qualified, but what criterion allow for the best qualified to become so accredited? What obstacles lie in the way of those who may have better abilities, but not proper support and motivation? What role does the society play to leverage that out? Is it proper to stack decks in one direction or the other or should the world assign itself to a more Ayn Rand kind of “cream rising to the top” libertarian view?

Logic, in abstraction of the human conditions of fear, xenophobia, racism, and prejudice do dictate to me that the best credentialed should be given work. That logic, when complicated by the downfall of humanity makes it difficult to ascertain if credential is, in fact, equal to skill, talent, and ability. I think not—but what else can an employer judge by in the hiring process? It’s all very tricky, very slippery, very controversial. Regardless, we didn’t get food stamps, welfare, unemployment, or any kind of assistance but I was able to find two jobs that don’t nearly make the difference of the money I was making before. It’s for the best. I don’t want to get caught in the trap of being on assistance and getting complacent (not that everyone on assistance does, I’m just saying I don’t want to get caught in it). I’m not afraid to work, and luck and perseverance had it that I am privileged enough to continue doing so.

So we will struggle. But we will make it. Our family is strong. Our love is strong. And my back is strong. People may say that situations like these are why we should have waited to start a family and buy a house but I say to that “Fuck you”. Its best for my kids and my ability to raise them, emotionally, that I am young. I don’t want to be the grandpa-looking guy who is actually not a grandpa on the playground. I don’t want to be winded chasing after my kids at the park. I’m out of shape at 27…I can’t imagine doing this at 47. We will persevere.

But still…I wonder about those who don’t have the advantages we have; the opportunities for education that we had; the opportunities for supportive families that we have; the luck that we have. I wonder about those and I consider how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. I’ve often considered myself as post-racial, but not in the buzzword sense of the term. Being as mixed a family as we are, I don’t judge people by their race (but then again of course I do). I like to define it as acknowledging differences with out betraying humanity. At times I’m racist, xenophobic, homophobic, prejudiced, everything. That’s the human condition—its irrational and emotional. Logically I try to overcome it with self-awareness, and logical thinking. (Unconsciously I comfort myself saying that these thoughts have a sociological point of view, that I am academically breaking down our systems—its bullshit. I’m working on it).

I can only tell you, once again, that your mother, your sister, your dog, your father, and you will be fine. By the time you are 25 and I am 50 and you are reading this on the terraformed moon beach by the Sea of Tranquility, you’ll know the story of how we made it. You’ll have lived it. And maybe all the other bullshit will be resolved as well. We can only hope. Until then…

Love,

Your Father

P.S. You are a dynamo! Your vocabulary is growing every minute. You say ELMO, CookA (cookie or cookie monster), you say AY-LA, Sissa (sister), Dada, Papa, Nana, Gamma (both grandma), and SAM or Mama (mostly Sam). You say about a million other things too. You play as nicely as you think can with Ayla and try to help her by giving her a bottle or pacifier…even though you cram them in her face, and you torture Chewy at every turn. We love to watch you grow—and grow you do!!!

November 17th, 2011

November 18, 2011

Dear Jeremy,
I am going to make this a quick letter—first I want you to know I have been writing a letter for you that I hope to post soon. My work schedule along with the rigors of moving into our house, setting it up, and preparing for the arrival of your sister have kept my writing time to a minimum; especially the somewhat politically charged kind of correspondence I generally try to send you from the past. Luckily, there are little politics involved in the letter I am writing to you now.
As I am typing this letter you are blissfully sleeping, generally unaware of the change that is about to occur in the morning. By all accounts you sister is going to be delivered via C-Section before 11 AM tomorrow. I promised myself that I would write at least this letter to you before your sister arrived and I will be damned if I do not do so.
The past 20 months of my life (the entirety of your own) have been the most amazingly fulfilling I have ever experienced—and this is entirely due to you. Being a father has added a new dimension to my life that I could have never imagined. I love you very much and you bring great joy into my heart. Your mother, you, and me are about to enter into a new phase of our family life together with the arrival of your sister. We expect that she will bring us to a new dimension we could not have imagined as well—we expect her to bring great joy into our hearts as well, and we will love her as well.
With that said, as I am sure you know, your mother and I are both only children and we have been somewhat concerned about how to do deal with your feeling on the subject of having a baby sister. Will you be jealous? Undoubtedly. Will you cry when we can’t pick you up because the new baby will need us to do more for her for a while? Unavoidably. Will you steal her bottle, her pacifier, her toys? Will you make her cry? You betcha. Will we forget you are there? Not a chance.
You will be just as special tomorrow after she is born as you have been until now—if not more so. You will have a new dimension added unto your life: big brother. And your little sister will need you very much in her life. I want you to know that. We have spoken to you about the baby coming, but I feel like you have been more interested in cars, Elmo, and playing—and I can understand that. So I want you to have this list of promises I make to you. I want you to hold me to them, and I will do my best to keep them myself.
– We will never expect you two to be the same.
– We will never make one of you feel better or worse than another.
– We will not play favorites.
– We will never use one child against the other.
– We will love you both more and more each day, unconditionally and without end.
– We will support your preferences, choices, and decisions as best we can.
– We will provide everything we can to make your lives comfortable.
– We will teach you both that hard work and high goals pay off.
– We will practice what we preach.
– We will listen to your opinions and thoughts.
– We will always be there for you.
– We will expose you to as much knowledge and experience with the world as we can.
– We will honor your individuality and indulge your creativity.
– We will always make you feel special.
– We will always let you know you are the most important things in the world for us.
These may seem like givens—like there shouldn’t be any other way—and, if by the time you read this, you cannot imagine there being another way then we’ve done our jobs well and kept our promise. Tomorrow our hearts open a little wider, and our world gets a lot warmer when you sister is born. Life is an amazing and wonderful journey, my son. I never expected you and a doubt I could begin to expect your sister.
My last promise is that these letters will continue to be addressed to you. I have an idea for something for her—it’s not quite there yet but I will have it together soon. I only ask that you don’t mind sharing them with your sister in the event that fate has taken me from the two of you. Occasionally I may talk to her, give updates on her, and send her my regards in my letters to you. These are sentiments that I place in trust of a loving, protective, and caring big brother who will dutifully deliver messages to his sister from their father.
Remember always that I am proud of you, and I love you. You are very special and important to me and your mother. Everything we do we do for you…and now for your sister as well. There is no clean way to wrap this up. I love you.
Love,
Your Father

PS: You are speaking more and more every day. You radiate a brightness and curiosity that automatically endears you to everyone who meets you. You have a personality, a sense of humor, a uniqueness to you that cannot be denied and will not be suppressed. You are now 20 months old and have been going to daycare (school) and you love it there. Since going you have truly started to grow—being with other children your age has launched you into new levels of growth—hopefully you and your sister weill help each other in that way too.

June 19th, 2011

June 19, 2011

June 19th, 2011

Dear Jeremy,

Today is both my second Father’s Day as a father and my second Father’s Day as an expecting Father. I would just like to take this moment to quickly reflect on the changes that have occurred in my life both by virtue of your birth and also in confluence.

Since you were born I have walked for both my Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s. Since you were born I have helped start an auspicious company with a mind geared toward both bringing people the joy of escapist literature and the future. I have undertaken and completed about 80% of my first novel, which is currently running. I have begun the prep-work for my first graphic novel. I have started two blogs (including this one) as well as developed at least two ongoing internet columns that will be running on Eat Your Serial along with my novel. I have officially become employed as an elementary school teacher.

I have learned to view your achievements as my own. I have watched you grow with awe and wonder. I have seen you grow and develop from a little helpless newborn into a curious little money; climbing, exploring, playing, questioning, walking, crawling, babbling, and interacting with the world. I have learned that the cliché is not a lie—it does hurt me more than it hurts you. I have learned that there is great joy and rapture in watching you discover even the most minute of things. Watching you play with toy cars as naturally as you breathe, seeing you walk backwards as if it’s a magic trick, and playing along as you figured out that peek-a-boo is enormously fun—though I wonder when you will figure out that just because you can’t see me doesn’t mean that I can’t see you. I watch with delight as you walk and with humor as you trip, stumble, and fall because it is followed by the pride as you pull yourself up and go back about your business.

I have come to appreciate my father and my grandfathers, and all father figures and fathers in a greater way being your father and the father of you as-of-yet unidentified sibling. I have come to appreciate Jonathan Kent and Jor-El along with Kal-El and Clark Kent, Uncle Ben along with Peter Parker, and, well I always appreciated Batman but now a new dimension in respect to Robin(s) and Nightwing; as well as many other non-fictional fathers.

In respect to that, and all humor aside, I look forward to many more Father’s Days of watching you grow and develop.

Love,
Your Father

P.S. Since I’ve been home you’ve developed quite an appreciation for Sesame Street and especially that accursed Elmo. You stick to Elmo and the Sesame Street gang like glue. Thank god for Jim Henson and the Children’s Television Workshop…but mostly thank god for viewers like you.

June 1st, 2011

June 1, 2011

 

Dear Jeremy,

My son, the world turns; never blink or you’ll miss it. I had long resigned the capture of Osama Bin Laden to the world of jokes and conspiracy theories. It has been nearly a decade since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. People would often quip “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t find Osama,” or “A camera can give me a red light ticket but they can’t find Bin Laden”. Two days ago President Obama, who has borne the accusation of cow towing to the Arab world and being soft on terror, announced that “at his command” a team of Navy SEALS found Osama and relieved the Earth of his burden.

The nation exploded. Not since the Allies declared victory in World War II, I think, have Americans congregated apolitically, spontaneously, en masse in front of the White House and in Times Square. People gathered at the slowly rising Ground Zero site. Americans were flooding the streets singing the National Anthem and chanting “USA, USA, USA”. I could not believe what I was seeing from my fellow Americans. I have never in my life seen such unity in our people that was simultaneously joyous, proud, and exuberant.

Grandpa Kenny called me up around ten or ten thirty on that 1st of May. I was working on a final presentation that, incidentally I gave not 40 minutes before I started writing you this letter. I was ready for a late night; what I got was an all-nighter.

“Are you watching the news?” My father asked.
“No. What happened?”
“It seems the president is about to make a speech…”

At this hour? I thought to myself. Something big must be going on. The president had, several days earlier released his “long form” birth certificate to the country and the day before gave a hellava hilarious and sharp speech at the White House Correspondents’ dinner—so he was on a run.

What Grandpa Kenny told me was shocking. A wave of excitement rushed over me.

“Apparently, he is going to announce that they found, killed, and have the body of Osama Bin Laden.”

Jeremy, I am not one to take joy in the death of men (well in movies and video games, yes, but not in reality). I take very little joy in the pain and despair of others, of animals, of extra-terrestrials…sometimes I feel bad for eating (but dammit I’m hungry!). When the US found Saddam Hussein, when the Iraqi people tried him and had him hanged, I did not rejoice. I knew the world was a better place without him, that he would kill me with hesitation, that he hated everything about my people; I did not make phone calls to spread the word. (I did search tirelessly for a video of it, but that was more of morbid curiosity than triumphant—it was academic, not emotional.)

But Bin Laden? That sonofabitch sent a ripple effect through our national psychology that was endlessly effective. Our way of life changed, our country grew polarized (more so), many of my peers went to war and lost their lives in pursuit of justice. But not just justice: vengeance. Revenge is almost never proper. I believe in being the bigger man, finding solace in your personal morality. Right makes might. I believe this, even now. That is how I conduct my life.

Sometimes motherfuckers gotta get killed.

I made some phone calls after that. I called Papa Joe, He was excited to hear the news. I don’t think he cared which President got Osama as long as that bastard was dead as a doornail. I called Grandpa Glenn. You were actually sleeping over at his house just then so I didn’t call him too aggressively because I didn’t want to wake you up. I sent him a text message after he didn’t answer two phone calls. In today’s world of YouTube and other readily available media I didn’t think he’d mind.

I called Keith and spoke with him for a while about it, about the cultural significance of Obama’s Presidency, and the lack of transcendence in poor and minority communities of his accomplishments as symbolism among young men. We also spoke about how “He got that motherfucker,” so don’t get me wrong here; we took a sober moment to examine the accomplishments of the man. A half white, half black man, with a Muslim name, from the most remote State in the Union attended Columbia and Harvard, taught law, wrote two books, is an independent millionare, is a strong family man, served in the Senate, became President of the United States, passed several landmark laws (including laws guaranteeing equal pay for women, and the infamous health care reforms), won a Nobel Peace Prize during his Presidency, can catch a fly with his bare hands, delivered a pull out time table for the war in Afghanistan…and accomplished the mission before said pull out by catching the man President Bush could not. Whoa. That’s a lot of stuff. I’m sure the President is a good bowler and has a decent jump shot as well.

Still, many young minorities prefer to give their admiration to professional athletes or entertainers citing “What has Obama done for me?” not realizing professional athletes and entertainers do nothing for them. They may cite his achievements are “not relatable” and don’t “speak to the streets”. I don’t think that is a totally true perspective—I think entertainment is more glamorous than politics, and requires less to appreciate. Also Rappers, for example, represent a counter cultural “Do what I gotta” image while the President—regardless of his color—is by definition “The Man”, “The Institution”, “The Authority” that they perceive as oppressive, repressive, and offensive to their goals.

I spoke online to your godfather, Danny, about how Wolf Blitzer is an idiot as he spouted statements like “I assume they have DNA evidence”. Why would you assume that? Journalists aren’t supposed to assume anything. The media today employ journalism so yellow it makes piss look like the white driven snow of the Klondike, I swear. Finally, the President gave his speech. It was under ten minutes. He thanked President Bush and his efforts, he told us “Justice has been served”, and the nation exploded. I asked Danny if he thought our celebrations in the street would be paralleled to the Anti-American Arab rejoicing in the streets just after 9/11. He didn’t want to admit that people could draw that parallel—but we both agreed that people are an amazing animal. It would not be 24 hours before the internet was weighted down with comments from all corners about how “we are no better”.

Let me make this plain and simple:

Rejoicing over the deaths of thousands of unsuspecting civilians in peace time via weaponized commuter airliner is a crime against humanity. It is an act of evil, not a protest. It is not a religious act it is a political one.

Rejoicing over the death of the plotter who manipulated religion to convince others to kamikaze themselves to perpetrate that act and hide for almost a decade as a coward is not a crime against humanity. It is a celebration of Justice. Osama Bin Laden should have, in perfect justice, been killed as thousands of times. His one death does not bring as much justice as it might, but it’ll have to do.

I continued to be awake through the night, working on my presentation and communicating through Facebook and Twitter about these happenings and watching and monitoring the rhetoric and the public’s reaction (and reacting a bit myself). I got into a particular thread on Facebook that I found to be troubling because it was, indeed, indicative of the conversation I had with Keith earlier. I was speaking with my friend Courtney about a posting he made insinuating that, not only was 9/11 an inside job but that the entirety of the government are puppets for the Illuminati. His assertion was that, as a people, we are constantly being duped, mislead, fooled, and herded towards some ultimate and nefarious purpose of shadowy silhouetted figures of mysterious political power and wealth.

I won’t delve too deeply into the subject of that debate but I must take a second to elucidate upon my particular stance on the Mason/Freemason/Illuminati conspiracy theory (in general). It would be an incredibly ineffective geopolitical secret society that allows movies, documentaries, and any other kind of base knowledge of its existence to proliferate to and through the masses. Some argue that this is due to hubris; they say that the secret society doesn’t care if the secret is out because they are unstoppable.

This reasoning is circular within a few decimals of pi: The society is secret, but everyone knows about it, it can afford not to be secret; nobody knows the real secret. Something doesn’t add up and I refuse to believe that at this point in my life I am missing any piece of vital information that can keep a secret society secret if everyone knows about it. I can only accept that the Illuminati conspiracy is a dummy or red herring for some other dubious geopolitical secret society, organization, or group that runs everything; but it logically begs the question “How different could the true puppeteers be than the ruse?” Not much, I assert.

Does this mean that I don’t think that there are people behind the scenes that make things move and shake, whom we have very little or no knowledge of? That there aren’t people of great wealth, clout, influence, or incentive that can easily sway the course of might nations? No it does not. I just don’t think it is an ancient secret society that worships an extra dimensional shape and hides clues in everything from pop music to the one dollar bill like the Riddler. There are super-villains in this world, my son, and one of them just got a bullet through the head from an exquisitely trained Navy SEAL; I assure you he wasn’t leaving clues on purpose to be found. Those who wield such behind the scenes influence are most likely not part of any cult beyond business, rarely worship any abstraction beyond the bottom line, and don’t actually run for office themselves because it is easier to move a finger and watch the marionette dance than it is to dance yourself.

My debate with Courtney and his friend Antonio went on for an hour or so. Antonio had a different perspective that it didn’t matter if Bin Laden was dead because the system is only seeking to make complacent drones of the people—particularly those of minority or low socioeconomic status. This type of argument may or may not logically run into the Illuminati argument which Courtney was advocating. Antonio’s argument however has more teeth in the sense that there are many freedom limiting laws being ratified these days that are highly concerning, as well as a great deal of self-destructive legislative actions being conducted in, around, and unto the public education system. The short run of the argument boils down to: regardless of the veracity of their claims it doesn’t change the fact that justice has been served, Bin Laden had been shot, and its about fucking time.

Immediately following this Obama found himself teetering on an approval rating higher than it had been in over a year and a half. Not one to sit on his laurels he quickly began about debating whether or not to release the photos of a dead Bin Laden. Instead, so as to not rouse the terrorists against us, he only showed some top brass and high ranking Congressmen. Shortly thereafter Republicans started throwing their hats in the ring for the 2012 presidential election. Newt Gingrich returned from the abyss he had been tucked away in for the last 10 years while professional politicians like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee weighed their options (Romney in Huckabee…seemingly not). Apparently they are ready to attack Obama on the economy—which they may have a shot at.

Then, out of nowhere, Obama decides to get in on the Israel/Palestine debate calling for a return to 1967 borders as a policy. What the fuck is that? As Benjamin Netenyahu would say the next day and in the following week those borders are impossible. They are indefensible from attack, they don’t account from the growth of the Israeli society in the past 40 years, and leaves the Israelis with no practical bargaining chips. Furthermore Bibi pointed out that since the Palestinian Authority (which is essentially Arafat’s Fatah) with an endorsement and backing from Hamas—a terrorist organization whose main pursuit is the destruction of Israel…destruction that is identified without recognizing the right of Israel to even exist in the first place.

Way to fuck up your polls. The Jewish community which overwhelmingly voted for Obama is not thrilled at this at all. Obama himself has had to do some back peddling and spinning of language. It was a bad move. The problem is that the Palestinian Authority is looking for recognition in the United Nations in September—which if they get it will make the PA lands a country and will make a territorial dispute in Israel into a war with a sovereign nation. It’s a big problem with no apparent solution because Israel will not negotiate with the Palestinians so long as they are allied with Hamas; and they shouldn’t. The US doesn’t negotiate with terrorists or those who collude with them; we shouldn’t expect Israel to either. Furthermore we shouldn’t expect them to do it when the terrorists live across the street, literally.

On that note, I can’t wrap this one up cleanly. Those were the big events of 2011. Bin Laden dead, Obama’s Israeli peace plan DOA. Sigh. Son, when you are 25 and I am 50 I can only hope that there is a place our people can call home. Even if I never want to live there, I’m damn sure I could, no questions asked. The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago and it could happen very quickly. I know this sounds awful conservative of me—but I never claimed to cling to one side or the other. My big personal issue is digging for consistency in my personal views and this issue is one of the big reasons because its seems that for Israel I feel one thing should happen…but I wonder if I’d feel the same for the United States to do it?

Until next time, my boy. I’m gonna be hanging out with you all summer!

Love,
Your Father

PS Since my last letter you have gone from kinda walking to really running, from making sounds to babbling with the intention of talking, you’ve grown many teeth, you’ve learned to climb, jump, and bounce. You are making a strong transition from baby to boy which is good because we’ve got another baby on the way. You’re gonna be a big brother, little man! Be a good one and “do nice” to the baby!

Oh, also I graduated from my Master’s Program. Thank God. And Eat Your Serial launched. Thank God. So I’m a Master, an entrepreneur, and a novelist. Also your Mommy and Me put a bid on a house—so we’re gonna have a house soon. Phew. Lets get busy! That’s not enough stuff yet!

>March 6th, 2011

Dear Jeremy,

Happy First Birthday! I know I have much in the world of politics to talk with you about—in fact its been quite exciting politically all around the world. Egypt, Libya, and Jordan have been exploding with revolution and government dissolutions, the President called for a major consolidation of the Federal Government (then never spoke of it again), and New York City has been clamoring to do either illegal or immoral things in the public school system. But, for once, you know what? Forget all of that! It’s your first birthday! The world can stop spinning for one day!

Even though it’s my last semester in graduate school and I have been insanely busy with shit-loads of work I wouldn’t miss making a post on your birthday—let alone your first birthday—for all the Google hits in Bieberland. I just wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the past year of my life—also known as the first year of yours.

You are without a doubt the most amazing child that has ever graced this earth, Every day I look upon you and fall in love over and over again. Some days I wonder if you were real and I get depressed to wonder if you were merely a dream or figment of my imagination until I see you again. Every one who meets you remarks on how big you are, how smart you, how cute you are, and how good you are. It is a joy to take you into restaurants—especially when we see how your dirty rotten peers and elders act in eateries large and small.

That being said I would appreciate it if you would please do a few things for me as soon as possible.

1. Walk (but don’t run)
2. Speak (but be polite)
3. Finish teething (but have better teeth than I do)
4. Sleep in your crib through the whole night (like you did before you started teething)
5. When sleeping in your crib throughout the whole night please don’t wet your diaper
6. Get potty trained
7. Get a job that pays more than Mommy’s and Daddy’s combined before your next birthday

If you do number 7 in the next week or so you can take your time on the rest of the list. Is that a deal?

Honestly, I cannot recall the void that was in my soul before you were born—I never imagined that there could be such a capacity for love, pride, and adoration inside of me. You have helped me to grow just as I hope to help you grow.

Over this past year I have watched the world that I have become jaded and cynical of through your eyes—fresh and new and full of hope and wonder—and it has only confirmed the reasons why I write you these letters. I want you to know what that world was as you wondered—with a little bit of spin from your Old Man of course! I want you to be able to look back when I’m 50 and you’re 25 and say “that’s what the world was when I was a baby—this is what my Dad thought about it before he got the microchip in his cerebellum…wow he used to be pretty bad at spelling and math!”

Jeremy, my son, I love you more than a million Letters To Jeremy could ever express. Every day watching you is a wonderful affirmation of every good choice I’ve ever made in my life and karmic reward for every good deed. You are quite the show.

Today we are throwing you the most amazing first birthday party for grown-ups you’ll ever see. We’ll show you the pictures one day and you’ll ask us why we did it and we’ll tell you…something. Your Mother and I love you very much and we want to celebrate every milestone of your life in an extraordinary way.

On that note, I wish you only happiness and fulfillment in life and a very happy first birthday! (I’m hoping someone got you some comic books for Daddy, but I won’t hold my breath!) I cannot wait to see who you grow up to be—but rest assured I’ll be there when you get there with pride and love overflowing from my chest. Happy Birthday, son.

Love,

Your Father

P.S. Everyone has seen you take two or more steps but me. You refuse to walk for me—but I know you can! I’ve seen you cruising around. You weigh just over 20 pounds and you had your very first haircut on Friday. You were such a good boy! Even though you got a little cranky towards the end you didn’t cry and you weren’t scared. You’ve been mimicking us more and more and I’m sure you’ll be sprinting and debating in no time!