onvural.net – melih – family man

Keeping conversations moving


With the Clementi case in the news, the shooting at a high school in Ohio, and the latest episode of Glee highlighting how bullying leads to catastrophe, I asked myself what it takes to actually bring positive social change into the lives of kids today.

You see, the adults have no idea how to react to a digitally connected world. I’m sure horrible things happened before MySpace, but I don’t know if they were nearly as viral or long lasting. On top of that, I think kids are just getting meaner. We are, so as not to hurt their feelings, being too nice to our kids. Their reaction is to be mean in return. It’s a bit bizarre and disheartening.

I’m glad that shows like Glee try to take on issues such as coming out of the closet, the lack of arts education in schools, and societal expectations of gender and roles. But I’m just not convinced that a 43-minute episode does enough to keep the conversation moving. We see it; we think to ourselves what a tragedy it represents; and then we move on to the next week’s episode.

Somehow parents need to be empowered to engage their children in difficult conversations. We should start when kids are much younger before they are overburdened with puberty, confused about their own identities, and struggling to make a place for themselves in the world. Young children are much smarter than we give them credit for, and I think challenging them with reading, writing, and arithmetic needs to be supplemented by making them aware of how we are different, and why those differences make us a better society.

I want my children to understand there is poverty, and that a middle class upbringing is not a right. I want my children to understand that there is race, and that because of it we stereotype and do harmful things to one another. I want my children to understand that someone can have two mommies or two daddies, and that that’s okay.

But I want my children to be kids, and to be naive as long as possible. And I think that’s the wall that stops us from having those conversations.

Between now and then, it sure would be nice to find a way to make it happen. I guess it’s one more thing to add to the to-do list.

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Observing what not to do – can it help?


We’ve just spent an amazing weekend on the shores of Capitola, CA. It’s a really great, quiet, little beach town in Santa Cruz County.

We made a full weekend of it. On Saturday, we swung by the Monterey Bay aquarium. While we were there, I heard a mother screaming at her child about the value of a bottle of soda, and why she asked for it if she wasn’t going to drink it. It was a horribly adult conversation, and the 8-year old had no idea how to react. There was no framework for the kid to understand a budget, the value of a dollar, or even why they shouldn’t consume frivolously. There was just a mom yelling at her daughter.

It was just a horrible experience for everyone involved. The mother and the daughter yelling at each other. The two friends who were awkwardly stuck at the table. And me for eavesdropping, wishing I hadn’t, and then not being able to break away to see how it all ended.

It made me mentally note to never have that fight with my kids.

From there, we made our way back up to Capitola to check-in to our little beach house. Our next door neighbors were having a massive 35-person birthday party, and it was quite fun to watch all the kids run around. You notice kids, and their behavior, a lot more after having kids.

I kept thinking to myself, holy shit how do I prevent Amelia and #2 from being like that one over there? Or, wow, that girl is so kind, I wonder how to make sure my kids are kind? The one I kept coming back to that proves I’m officially an old man is, there’s no way in hell she’s ever wearing anything that looks like that!

I’m not great at a lot of things, but I will give myself credit as a strong pattern matcher and observer. I’ve learned the value of listening over the years, and have found that a large part of the equation of being a strong listener is being strong with your eyes as well. With all of that said, I still can’t find the pattern that distinguishes the girl getting yelled at for buying a soda she wouldn’t drink, and the kind girl on the beach who helped her sister/cousin when she bumped her head.

I think it’s going to take a lot more pattern matching before I can figure this one out :-/

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It’s a boy!


Micky and I are pregnant a second time.

I know, it’s shocking. We were shocked too. And so has everyone been who has heard so far. But it’s going to be amazing!

Today we went to the pre-natal folks to get our last ultrasound. To say we were nervous is a massive understatement. After Amelia’s oemphalocele, there hasn’t been an ultrasound machine that hasn’t made us nervous. As fate would have it, we were in the same room with the same ultrasound tech who found the problem with Amelia. Too many coincidences to really get comfortable.

Amelia was with us, and we were giving her a play-by-play of what her new sibling was showing off. We started with the spine, and worked through to the heart, various organs, 10 toes, 10 fingers, and then we shut our eyes so we wouldn’t see the sex.

We wanted to know everything was okay first.

Dr. Goldberg, with whom we’ve been through a lot, came in, and told us that everything looked great. We then excitedly, the three of us, got a peek at the little guys boy parts. And we smiled. And now we’re going to be four.

And it’s going to be amazing 🙂

A sunset over the Pacific


I came home today, and took Amelia to the ocean. We watched the sun set over the Pacific as the low tide took the ocean away from us and towards the horizon.

There’s a break about 40 yards out where the waves climb up as if there’s a ramp that blindly throws them in the air only to leave them with a long fall on the other side that wasn’t expected.

When you sit on the beach and look through those waves at the setting sun, there’s a calming effect. It’s a moment I wanted to last forever, but as quickly as the sun sets the moment disappears with it.

Every time I look at Amelia I realize just how ethereal everything actually is. Her entire life can be summarized as a series of moments built on top of each other but simultaneously forgotten as soon as the next one arrives. There is no need for memory. Only for experience.

I’ll remember every single one of these moments, and she’ll remember not a single one. Our first kiss. Our first sunset over the Pacific. The moment the doctor told us it was a girl. The first time she held my finger.

And when she does begin to remember, it will come from her own eyes, and her own world view. That’s a beautiful thing, but something that is solely hers. I don’t know how to share those moments with her. Maybe time will teach me, or maybe I’ll always be an outsider, but regardless of the outcome the fact still remains.

Through this series of moments, I am just a flicker. But the sun set was beautiful.

A very un-Super Bowl weekend


We had a great weekend.

I think because we avoided the Super Bowl. You see, I’ve really lost my interest in watching sports since being out here. If you get me in front of a TV, then I still love it, but I can’t plan around it anymore. There’s just too much to do in life.

What did we do instead?

Brunch with a dear friend. One of my best friends from Raleigh, John Gottshall, is in town through Tuesday. We took him to the top of Twin Peaks, which I’d never done before, and it was quite awesome. One thing that wasn’t was the $4.50 hot dog, but that’s San Francisco for you.

And all of that was just Saturday!

Today we trekked into Sonoma and Napa hitting three wineries, two tours and a great two hour lunch along the way. Micky and I are members of the Hess winery, and I love it. The art is cool. The wine is easy to drink. Really great place to take folks.

When we got home Miss Amelia went straight to bed. She’s now rolling onto her stomach to sleep that way using Boomer as a pillow. Her little butt is sticking straight up in the air like a teepee. It’s quite cute really.

John and I watched the last two drives of the game, and then we all had burgers, fries, and fantastic conversation.

What more could a weekend be?