Lane County

Beginning our life in Oregon as newlyweds

When the nephews were in town, Simoncello discovered this legit path through the woods behind our house that seemed to keep going forever and ever.

We had to make it back in time to see his parents so couldn’t explore the whole thing, but as a consolation prize, he got to feed grapes and Raisin Bran to a deer with his grandpa.

Just after I arrived in Oregon after our honeymoon, I had several book signings lined up.

I had a really fun time signing books at Vectors’ Espresso yesterday. This place is one of our favorites in town, mostly because their staff goes above and beyond in being relational with customers and getting to know names and faces. It pretty much feels like everyone who enters is a regular.

Simon gave a stack of books a bear hug and said he loved the cover. Luke found a big bug at my last signing and shouted, “Bug!!”

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this book signing at this little bookshop. The owners and staff were really nice and friendly, but the shop itself is a hidden goodie out in an unsuspecting shopping center deep in Springfield.

Turns out, I had a blast signing books and speaking at Mohawk Paperbacks. Met some really fun and interesting people at the event.

We got to see Jim Gaffigan perform in Eugene. That performance let us check off a third item from our adventures list… wasn’t expecting to have gotten this many right off the bat! Plus, the show was a great one.

There’s something to why I’m so drawn to Jim Gaffigan. If there’s somebody who perfectly represents not trying too hard, it’s him. I mean, I’m sure he works hard on his material, but when he’s on stage, he’s not noticeably trying to become an over-the-top character, he just settles in. I’ve always believed that people should just be themselves instead of trying too hard to craft an image. I’ve given that out as first-date advice plenty of times, all while trying to get better at it myself. That continues, even after I’ve been married a few months.

There is only one person on earth who I can think of that I would pay money to hear rant about Hot Pockets. Jim Gaffigan is that man.

Such a fun night last night with Deanna and the bro-and-sis-in-law. Many laughs were laughed.

The last time I got to hang out with Simon, he beat me to seeing Star Wars, so he told me all about it while playing with Legos. He was talking about Finn and I held up a mini-fig and asked if that was him. “No, he has black skin, like you Uncle Philippe.” I have no idea how long he’s thought I was black. Deanna had us straighten that out over ice cream, ending my short lived run as Simon’s black uncle.

It’s funny because while I was in South Africa, I had black friends tell me things like I would be the only white person in the club, or that I looked like a white guy who still knew how to rap. I suppose we’re chromatically all varying shades of brown.

Subjectivity is a crazy thing. I know it can drive some people nuts, but it’s also fascinating and makes the world way more interesting. Things that seem different are different because of how they are relative to what you’re used to. Is it weird that some cultures eat bugs? Maybe, but were you raised on Lunchables? That’s weird too. The way you see the world is largely constructed based around your own experiences and background.

The brain is designed to seek clarity and to understand things in a very streamlined way, two sides to an issue, this versus that, you’re this category or that. Our impulse to reduce things into narrow categories impacts everything around us. That’s why some restaurants would rather present a menu with four options rather than dozens. And it works. But it’s also a good reason for us to never stop trying to challenge our own assumptions, and giving ourselves all kinds of new experiences that expand our abilities to see things differently.

We Love Lukington!

So glad we got them in Eugene for a week over the summer, and totally up for another week with them whenever. Nephews are the best.

There’s something about the speed of life that is so widely experienced and so often mentioned, and yet it’s always surprising and interesting.

Often, it can come across as sad, too. How quickly everything changes. But I’m starting to learn how to enjoy it. After all, I take pictures every single day for the purpose of eventually seeing them all montage in fast motion and making me feel eternally grateful. I forgot who it was that said that the point of life is to enjoy the passing of time, but I feel like that’s a learned skill rather than an instinct.

The kid with the ice cream is about to be in kindergarten. There’s something about the speed of life that is so widely experienced and so often mentioned, and yet it’s always surprising and interesting.

Often, it can come across as sad, too. How quickly everything changes. But I’m starting to learn how to enjoy it. After all, I take pictures every single day for the purpose of eventually seeing them all montage in fast motion and making me feel eternally grateful. I forgot who it was that said that the point of life is to enjoy the passing of time, but I feel like that’s a learned skill rather than an instinct.

Luke has been taking his cues from the Spanish speaking world these days and calling his grandpapa “Papi.” That makes me super happy and reminds me of when I worked with a Spanish speaking only family as an autism clinician, and the whole family would play games together. The three kids would all chant “Papi! Papi!” as Papi would try and knock over a stack of cups with a balloon or something like that.

Luke’s also taken the liberty to rename most people in his life. I’m Feeps, Deanna is DeDe, and he’s even taken to calling himself Duke. The joys of being verbal but not a hundred percent.

With all of my in-laws in town, we got to open our pile of wedding presents and spending a whole evening reading each card one by one.

Simon and Luke came to visit us in Eugene, and we put them on our friend’s horses and let them ride around. You know, typical aunt and uncle activities.

In just a few weeks, Simon starts kindergarten.

I remember an old friend who was only slightly older than me talking to me about how this season of life involves “taking off the Superman mask” of people you once looked up to. I don’t think he had a good memory of Superman’s appearance, but his point is still valid.
It can be a tough thing to go through, but it’s important to learn to realize that we aren’t legends, just incredibly human. And that another part of growing up is that a new generation grows up after us and we get to see its beginning, a stage where human nature and innocence can mysteriously exist in the same small vessel.
After a long time apart, it was great to be around Luke.
This is from one of the last times we hung out. I was eating a really rich mocha cheesecake and I was sharing with everyone. This one probably couldn’t handle the caffeine but we didn’t want him feeling left out so we gave him a piece of the graham cracker crust. He ate it and immediately cocked his head and held it like this for what felt like ten minutes. Real good thing we didn’t give him the mocha part.
Had a blast with Rich and Beth in Eugene over the week… football game watching and eating good food and spending some quality time. Fishing too, of course, though not quite as many bites this time around.
Photo credit for this glorious shot of me devouring a burger from Sandwich League goes to none other than my nephew Simon. I had an inkling that he’d be pretty good behind a camera, and for having never really shot with one before, I’d say he figured it out nice and quickly.

I told him that he did the best job anybody has ever done of capturing all the details of me eating a burger and that he should feel pretty good about that. “Yeah, Uncle Philippe,” he responded. “You’re never going to forget that burger.” It was thoroughly archived, and he was right. I still remember that burger months later.

A tough past few days after a draining few weeks prior to that. Some quality nephew time is in order. Thank God it’s only a week away.

There’s the running trope about how many a family Thanksgiving erupts into a political debate that quickly goes sour. I know for a lot of people, that trope is rooted in reality.

I lucked out, I guess. My Thanksgivings were always centered around charades. But most of the time, I feel like the more vocal among my Facebook friends give me a taste of what those awkward Thanksgivings are like. Minus the food.

I’m not a confrontational person, so I tend to be quickly turned off by rants and controversy. I’d rather dismiss it as boring “grownup stuff” and get back to charades. Except it’s hard to do that when you realize these issues people care so much about are often pretty important. Life or death issues in many cases.

Empathy and reframing thoughts are two big skills that come in handy during charades, so how’s this for a reframe? What if it’s actually a good thing we have these often tense conversations? Sure they often get nasty, but from what I’ve seen, there’s the other half of the time when they don’t, and I always learn good stuff from those conversations.

After all, we wouldn’t begin to get anywhere without communication, so at least were exchanging ideas. We’re talking, and that’s a good thing, even when the conversations get hard.

Sweet Life Patisserie makes some of the best artisan chocolates I’ve seen. They’re also pretty pricey, so it’s not very often that I actually get to try them, but whenever I go in there for other things, I get wildly curious about what their Jasmine flavored piece tastes like. Or the root beer float one. Or maple bacon. Or earl grey. Or all of them.

On the one year anniversary of us getting engaged, I got Deanna a box, and in turn she let me nibble on a few of them, since we got four small pieces for about six bucks.

One of the upsides to being a sentimental person with a good memory for dates is that I always know when my next opportunity will be to splurge a little bit on something I wouldn’t regularly buy.

It’s been one year since Deanna and I loaded up our car and moved into Eugene, not knowing a single person, not having a job for her.

I’d like to mention how far we’ve come, but it actually still feels like we’re just getting started. Moving at this point in our lives has brought its own set of challenges, but it’s been subtly rewarding at the same time. If anything, this will always be the place where we learn how to go from best friends to best friends who are married. And there are some really great views.

Happy birthday to Zhen, our world traveling friend! Celebrating this night with you was pretty fun!

Thankful for a fun community of friends burgeoning up in Eugene. Zhen’s leadership has definitely helped that grow and take off.

We’re newlyweds. The title won’t stick forever… it carries both fun and not so fun connotations… but it is what it is. Truth be told, I’ve had a lot of fun being married to Deanna, and that shouldn’t be all that surprising. Fun has been a hallmark of our relationship from the very start.

Hitting the middle of a busy season, we’ve both had to deal with work stresses and getting more tired versions of each other at the end of the day. It hasn’t been the easiest thing ever, but it’s so much better than having to go through those rough patches on our own. Looking ahead to our first batch of holidays being married is a real treat. It’s a common sore subject for many couples, but we’re taking it year by year and I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to this year.

A part-time peach farmer. A marathoner embarking on a new relationship for the second act of life. An 88 year old giraffe loving Korean War veteran. A bookseller about to embark for ten weeks in Chennai. A former Baptist campus minister. Second chances are for everyone.

I started doing book signings for the simple reason that I was missing the regular way I was able to meet and befriend and chat with strangers the way I did when I was on tour. Yesterday’s signing introduced me to some fun new people and the lunch was terrific.

I had so much fun I accidentally forgot to pay for my French dip before walking out, so I now have an open tab at an antique store. Like I said, second chances, baby!

Deanna’s new name was deemed official yesterday, after waiting for weeks and weeks for this letter to come in the mail. Hurray for Deanna Lazaro.

We spent the evening celebrating with Netflix, Ticket to Ride, and her practicing a new signature. I’m totally in favor of her just signing all her legal documents “Aunt Dee.”

A good life is one where you feel like you’re saying “thank you” all the time and it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

Our wedding was such a wonderful day because of the help and presence and wishes of so many awesome people in our lives. A bunch of people stepped up to play a part in our wedding as vendor, sponsor, or member of the bridal party. A lot of people gave us really thoughtful gifts we’re still putting to use. A lot of people told us really sweet things and gave us advice that seems so far, so good! So, we’ll be spending the back end of our summer writing a stack of these. We have a lot to be thankful for.