Date: August 26, 2002
To: Laura Kay Lee Maeda
From: Uncle David
RE: Your Welcome Wagon to the World
Dear Lil' Laura,
I'm sure it all seems rather strange to you right now. I wish I could reassure you and tell you as you grow older some of this will make a little more sense. All you probably are worried about at the moment is why you just can't sleep all the time, when you'll be fed next, and when someone will be so kind as to come along and change you (plus maybe why everyone makes these annoying cooing noises while sticking their fingers in your face). With the possible exception of the last concern, believe me all those others unfortunately will continue to be issues throughout your life.
It has become tradition that whenever a nephew or niece is born into our family I devote column space to a letter of wisdom to the new member. It's part of my award winning "tough love" program. I know none of my words will ultimately amount to much but the letters prove if nothing else as you grow older you will one day realize your uncle, the old eccentric pretentious has been you hopefully will see, was indeed once a young eccentric pretentious has been. I offer the following not so much as advice but as what was on my mind the day I heard you were born.
Here it is: Do the best with what you have. And when things aren't going the way you want them to go just remember that it often comes down to the perspective you choose to take. It's easy to fall victim to getting bogged down in life's challenges. It isn't so easy to always appreciate how precious life can be until it is way too late.
My recently departed best friend and her best friend recently watched the movie Life as a House. Her best friend, a fan of schmaltz loved the film. My best friend said some of the sexual undertones were a bit jarring. I have no interest in seeing the film but was struck by the title and how if I were to write my autobiography tomorrow afternoon that might not be a bad title for the book.
When it comes to home ownership I tend to be a big picture type guy. The small nitty gritty every day details (that of course are of some importance when it comes things like home financing, repair, etc.) tend to bore me and are the type of things I prefer letting my imaginary wife deal with. Instead I like to dream of what my house may be one day- a yard full of artificial turf to avoid lawn mowing duties; a batting cage in back to keep my stroke in good shape; an elaborately finished attic complete with a skylight so I can lie awake underneath the stars. As for my decorating tastes? This summer every day on my way to work I've driven by a billboard with a large picture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It somehow comforts me to see this large picture from what I think is the most brilliant artful TV show of all time knowing most people drive by without it registering much of a reaction. That is until the billboard started coming apart and the picture of Buffy began peeling down toward the street. I thought about driving by late at night some night, tearing it down, stuffing it in my little Honda and pasting it up on the side of my house. That would be my idea of home decorating. Think big, bold, and creatively...
Thus the reality and the minutia of refinancing my mortgage has been nothing short of excruciating as I try and determine what type of loan is best for me and I peruse an actual legal document the thickness of a novel hoping no one is trying to take advantage of me in any way. I was recently notified by my mortgage company that my loan application was being held up because the city said I was living on a "nonconforming lot." Nonconformity, usually a badge of honor in this case was an alarming word to hear. Seems my house is too big for my lot, a problem I've learned is common with homes in St. Paul.
But you want to know something Laura? Despite the latest troubles I'm proud to own a house: to arrived at a point in my life when I can afford such a thing. It ain't much but it's mine. And despite a financial worry or two, when it comes time to plop down my weary head I'm often comforted that I took a long but rewarding road to get this place (and am reminded of the blessing of such whenever I lie down at night with a happy purring kitty with a thumping tail lying next to me).
Life is often about timing. Being in the right place at the right time, or even better realizing the perfect moment of being in the right place at the right time. Think dental. I was at the dentist the other day for a return visit to repair a cracked filling. It was after I was loaded up with Novocain when the hygienist started talking with me. She asked me what I did for a living. "I woik for the wegislature witing about the waw making pwocess." I said. She seemed impressed.
When all the drilling and all the sucking was done I stumbled out to my car and started up the engine. The music that floated into the air from my speakers couldn't have been more perfect and more poignant. It was Bob Dylan singing his timely song "John Brown." "He tried his best to talk but his mouth could hardly move," were the first words I heard. I don't know much but I do know this Laura: God has her plan and all we gotta do is listen.