Monthly Archives: April 2005




Let me introduce Lucy Kent Blake-Williams, born Thursday morning at 8:41am to the whopping tune of 9 pounds, 1 ounce. Lucy is the coolest chick ever, and both baby and mom are doing well, after a unbelievably intense delivery. Father is over the moon, stars and quasars. Baby thanks all her wonderful well-wishers! We will tell the tale after the weekend, when we’ve all had a chance to nap.



Stay Tuned for Breaking News

Steve, here. The rest of the family couldn’t remember how to hack into Ian’s blog!

As some of you suspected, Ian and Tessa are a little busy right now. They headed over to the hospital around 11 p.m. Wednesday evening.

All is well so far, and Ian promises to post more information soon!

not with a bang but a whimper


There has been so much obsession with the Apocalypse lately: the mini-boom in Revelation-based books, the ravings of the End of Days Christians, movies, TV shows and just about every pundit harping on Armageddon as though it were some kind of cool parlor trick. I have to say, I don’t quite get the allure.

There’s two kinds of apocalypses – the religious kind, and the secular kind. In the religious scenario, God descends upon the Earth, or Jesus, or somebody, and all of us rigid agnostic types are forced to eat crow, slap our heads and say “shit, if only we’d listened to the MORMONS!” There’s much gnashing of teeth, a lot of judgments, electronics stop working, and I’m sure it’s incredibly well art-directed.

The other kind would suck. A secular apocalypse would be some sort of nuclear meltdown, an environmental shift or a massive virus that wipes out life as we know it. This would take a fairly long time, as the last survivors eke out a dreadful existence, breathing their last in a cruel winter, all hope and joy utterly demolished. This is the far more likely scenario as apocalypses go, and pardon me for repeating myself, but what exactly the fuck is so cool about that?

Either way, why are we so presumptuous as to believe we’re the ones to get the End of Days? Crazy Christians never fail to amaze me; they think they’re so fucking special that God would have to make an appearance on their watch.

I refuse to believe that the end of the world is that arbitrary. It would also be tremendously unfair – I’m still in my thirties, for Christ’s sake. Shit, the baby in Tessa’s tummy is negative-three days! Why do WE have shoulder the fucking apocalypse? Furthermore, why do people seem so psyched to get it all over with?

Obsessing about the End Days is like meeting God and pissing on his leg. If you dig on Armageddon, you are truly beyond the reach of modern entertainment and should try self-flagellation or sensory deprivation tanks. Leave life for the living, and leave the springtime to those of us who still appreciate it every time it comes.



I’m going to have to lead every blog with “We Haven’t Had The Baby Yet,” aren’t I? It doesn’t matter, we feel totally blessed by so many well-wishers. We got some good news from the doctor today, i.e., things are progressing in the right direction, so we might actually have this thing before summer.

Mostly, I can’t wait, but I’m still plagued by worries and self-doubt, and the usual ambivalence that accompanies anything worth giving your life to.

One thought that has really tainted my ability to be Super Psyched™ is this: whenever I let my mind drift into our baby’s childhood – assuming we ever get there – I’m always left depressed and a bit shell-shocked at my own rotten time in grade school. Everyone says childhood is different now than it was in the 1970s, that many acts of bullyism and social injustice aren’t tolerated in this era. There are better counselors, better drugs and better schools if the going gets really tough.

I want to believe that’s true. My niece and nephew went to a Quaker Friends school in Massachusetts, and that place was a fuckin’ miracle. They had Gay Pride week, they NEVER discriminated against my nephew for having half an arm (in fact, he was on the baseball AND basketball team) and the placed oozed with tolerance and brotherhood.

At MY grade school, having red hair and playing the violin were enough to condemn you to ritual beatings. Here’s a few things about being an unpopular loser in school that you might not have known:

1. You’re always in trouble. Sure, you didn’t start it, but the teacher has little time to distinguish between bully and victim. All she knows is that you were present when the fight started. You will spend your time in the principal’s office lobby with the bully, who will continue to detail how he’s going to fuck you up by the bike rack as soon as you get out of there. Want to complain to the teacher? She will tell you, in not so many words, to FUCK OFF and stop whining so goddamn much.

I’d tried explaining this for years until “Welcome to the Dollhouse” came out and narrated the brutal truth: teachers are as much – or more – to blame for the brutalization of unpopular kids as the bullies themselves. They each tacitly buy into the pecking order and enforce it every chance they get.

2. You will get bad grades. You’re way smart enough to excel in class, but the stress of being a reject is enough to put you off your game, and after three or four years, why should you try and do well at a place that wishes you would just go ahead and get hit by a bus?

3. Your parents can’t do anything about it. Except send you to a private school, but if there’s no money for that, you’re stuck with the P.E. teachers that couldn’t get a job stacking pins at a bowling alley. Parental involvement either ratchets up the abuse (because you’re a fuckin’ squealer) or just delays it for a few weeks before everyone returns to Business As Usual. Except that now you’re also a fuckin’ squealer.

4. Worst of All, You Don’t Know Anything’s Wrong. When you’re a kid, you have the mentality of a family dog that wakes up to find that a leg has been amputated: “Well,” it thinks, “I guess that’s how things are now.” You have no concept that your existence could ever be better, so you suffer through every indignity thrown at you because deep down you believe you deserve it. This is your lot in life. Nobody ever sits with you at lunch because… well, nobody ever sat with you at lunch. It isn’t until you’re in your mid-to-late thirties – finding yourself in bed, pissed off again about that shit Mrs. Norton pulled during Book Week in 1977, and writing a blog about it – that you understand those days for what they were.

But yes, I’m told things are better now. They had better be. BECAUSE I’M NOT GETTING OVER IT.

tri, tri again


Today is my 3rd bloggiversary, meaning that I have been now doing this nightly bloviating for THREE YEARS. It’s amazing how things never end up how you planned, how they morph into such delightful creatures unrecognizable from their previous incarnations.

Three years ago tonight, I put my first regular entry into these pages, and although I’d posted a few sporadic, desperate evenings in 2001, I made a pact with myself that this would be different. I was going to chart the way Celexa addled my brain, but even in the first week, I got so wildly off-topic that it began to seem a little stupid to limit the blog to such dreary science as my own neurons.

At the time, I was in rough shape. I had not gotten over September 11, still paralyzed and quaking with fear of what horrors might lay in store, and rage at the people who had laid waste to my city. In essence, I had classic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is something (as a mediocre psych major) I could have told myself if I’d been able to think straight.

PTSD is a funny thing. I remember on the day itself, I wasn’t scared at all, just living off the incredible buzz that enveloped downtown. There was death all around us and rumors of close escapes, but I had just carried a family’s luggage up the West Side Highway in order to find their son, and knew I was Living in History. It wasn’t until October and November that the meat began to slide out of my sandwich.

These pages were borne out of a desperate desire to get better. In many ways, the combination of drugs, therapy and this web site has led me out of that fray, allowed me to ask Tessa to marry me, actually have it happen, and then, you know, someday, have this baby that has been in our bellies for about 9.2 months. The bitching and moaning, the post-election horror, the occasional utter despondency of making an independent film, and my garden-variety bleak existentialism all have a release valve on these pages.

The “comments” button was added by my brother Steve in October 2003, and without it, I probably would have stopped writing this a while ago. All of the regulars who come by, including the lurkers who occasionally say something utterly brilliant, you continue to electrify a connection to the outside world that I thought would have been lost by now to age and inertia. Of course, I wish a few more of you had your own blogs so I wasn’t the only one hanging brain around here, but not everyone can whore out their privacy like I do.

Which is another big change in this blog over the last three years. I’m no dooce, but with the several thousand folks coming here each week, I can’t do any of the following:

– use full names of anyone who could kick my ass

– talk about SSRI-related sexual dysfunction

– say anything about either of our families that they haven’t said about themselves

– discuss anyone I ever hope to work with

– run for Congress

I used to be so cavalier in these pages, back when nobody except my mom was reading, back when I had no idea about the power of Google. But with infinite searchability, and the fact that everything on here is cached on some hard drive in Nevada, I’m not worried anymore. So I don’t get to be a Senator. So I can’t say half the things I really feel. The blog does its job, even though it has been getting harder to contemplate each weeknight.

I dream of a day when I can hand the blog over to three or four other people, when we can all write a little bit each week and have some sort of community. Keep the name, but vary the content as I try to warm up bottles for the as-yet-born Peanut. Such a blogtopia could be in the future, but for now, I’d like to thank everyone for suffering through my belly-gazing horseshit and for helping me get through the last three years.

And to the nature of blogging itself: not quite a diary, not quite a therapist, not quite entertainment, not quite satisfying, and yet all of those at once.


T&me 4/15/02

fall forward spring back


When so much of the news is so terrible, you truly have to celebrate a piece of information that is, in a word, awesome. Congress is trying to extend Daylight Savings Time two months, by making it start earlier in the spring and end later in the fall. This has to be the best governmental decision since mandatory vaccinations and the Louisiana Purchase.

When you’re a kid, Daylight Savings Time means you get to play after school – you ride your bike, climb trees and fuck around in the neighborhood. The entire day is no longer just the fettered confines of your rotten junior high, you feel as though your life has dimension. When the first day of Daylights Savings comes – like it did last week – the afternoon begs to stretch out forever, and offers the prospect of infinite possibility.

In Chapel Hill, DST meant that we could play hoops after work. It was tough driving home from the Research Triangle (during the heady dot-com days) in order to have a few games at Carrboro Community Park before the sun went down, but it was possible with DST. In New York, it means languishing on the stoops, actually conversing with your neighbors, celebrating Breast Liberation Day with my brother Sean.

When the sun sets at 3:30pm in the winter, I want to fucking kill myself. For those of us especially tormented by the weather and suffering from some Seasonal Affective Disorder or another, Daylight Savings Time is a shot of love and caffeine right in the arm. PLEASE let this happen, and you’ll get 15% less bitching and moaning from yours truly!


two votes for SUNSHINE



Today’s the day, New Yorkers!

Whaddya mean, “what day?”

Today is Almost Show Your Boobs Day!

That’s right, after six months of festering underneath cotton, wool, alpaca, cashmere and various polyester blends, today is that first day of spring where your boobs are screaming to get out and say “Hello 2005!”

Yes, yesterday was actually the first nice day of the year. But you didn’t trust it, did you? You put on sweaters, had pullovers, long-sleeves, the whole works. And you were miserably hot. You’re not going to make that mistake today!

Us guys don’t want to objectify you. Most of us are quite smart, took lots of gender equality classes in college, and are happily coupled with an awesome member of your sex. But every once in a while, WE NEED TO SEE SOME BOOBS THAT DON’T LIVE IN OUR APARTMENT.

We’re not going to DO anything about it, we’re just going to look for the allotted 1.3 seconds before we appear creepy. Just one look, and the honest boys won’t be wearing sunglasses.

Tank tops, low V-neck T-shirts, come ON! It’s time! Every single heterosexual male (and lesbian) has looked forward to this day through this long, dreary winter. In the dregs of January, the sloth of February, do you know what kept us going? That’s right, BOOBS!

Even my wife is in on the act, and she’s got a belly the size of West Texas! Everyone’s doing it! Don’t disappoint us! YAAAAY!

thanks to Dan K. and Mac for reminding us

late valentine


I’d like to take a moment today to give a mountain of love to my wife Tessa. The last few days have been incredibly hard for her physically, and as I watch her toss and moan at night with her gigantic belly lobbing from one side of the bed to the other like a mainsail in a storm, I know that she is capable of things I can only dream of.

As a guy, I just can’t imagine having another human being in my stomach, pounding the walls. It’s impossible for me to further fathom the idea of going into labor at any second, and dealing with the pain of passing that kind of object through your body. I don’t mean to be preciously demystified, but the logistics of this are staggering.

As the due date came – and went – now we are in a holding pattern, circling the skies above parenthood. In many ways, the last few days have been a gift (National Championship included) since we’ve been able to hang out together, with her mom, with both my parents, and she was able to construct 75 maxi pads saturated with witch hazel, pure aloe vera and lavender essence – the surefire way to get your hoo-hah back in order once the deed is done.

But Tessa’s wonderful overfunctioning has taken a hit with the baby being a tiny bit late. She has, as all expectant mothers eventually say, “had it.” For me, this week has felt bizarre: I can only equate it to a vacation you didn’t take, finding yourself home with nobody expecting you to be there. Exciting to be on vacation in your own house, but I know my dear wife won’t be able to deal with another seven days of this.

In this public forum, I just want to tell her, like I did last night, that I am so proud of her, for soldiering through this pregnancy with so few complaints, with taking each new development as education rather than omen. She is made of such great stuff, this woman, and I love her something awful.

when we come marching



What is it that makes North Carolina so great? Was it because it rescued me, showed me how to be a real human being, allowed me to fall in love, make friends for decades, appreciate the beauty of a dogwood tree in April and the intrigued smile across a crowded room? I went to UNC in the depths of my private school despair because of a photograph: it was a guy and a girl holding hands, carrying books in the springtime by the Old Well. That picture has made all the difference in my life, and in the life of my future family.

It was the family that won last night, the extended cadre of folks I love that created a blast area, a diaspora thousands of miles in radius from the Old Well, with our collective affection still concentrated on that campus. It has allowed us to care about these irrational exuberances long after many people forget what college they went to. I know tonight, as the final buzzer sounded, my long-lost friends Sunny Kumar, Amy Wearmouth, Josh Pate, Barb Laing, R.C. Stiles, Deborah Fox-Currier – wherever the hell you guys are – were as ecstatic as I was.

Much has been made of our seniors suffering through the 8-20 season in 2002, but I don’t think people understand the kind of wood rot that had crept into the Carolina program by then. The fabled family was coming apart, like those devastating scenes in “Avalon,” and getting back to a National Championship wasn’t just fortuitous, it was more a miracle.


I’m in love with everybody and everything. I am totally sick and can’t speak, just like that night in 1993. I had sweet-and-sour chicken from the local Chinese place, just like 1993. Only this time, I’m really enjoying the feeling of going out a winner.

We did not win this game to a gaffe like Fred Brown in 1982 or Chris Webber in 1993. We did not lose because some guy went crazy and had a career night, like 1988, 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999 and so many other games in between. Even though Illinois jacked up more 3-pointers than any team in Championship Game history, they still didn’t fell our team. We beat the best to become the best.


after the game, still in mojo mode

There are many people who I am so happy for today, most conspicuously Jackie Manuel, our fan favorite who got engaged and will now have his own ring along with his bride. But the cake goes to Roy Williams, a man I think I truly understand. What follows is a long clip from Sports Illustrated in 1997, and it shows why this is so meaningful. It made me cry last night while waiting for the game.

Roy Williams can still close his eyes and see his mother, her raven-black hair pulled back, standing at the stove with her apron on, cooking biscuits and milk gravy and sausages. Or canning green beans and tomatoes for winter meals. Or standing over and ironing board with piles of other folks’ clothes at her feet. He doesn’t remember her ever taking a vacation. As a mother of two—Roy and his older sister, Frances—and as the ex-wife of an alcoholic whose life had spun out of control, Lallage Williams had all she could do to provide for her family.

“For several years there, I really felt my mom had to battle every day to make things go, so that on Friday she could pay this bill and that and then have enough left for food,” Roy says. “Some of my worst memories are coming home in sixth or seventh grade and finding her ironing. Ten cents for a shirts, 10 cents for a pair of pants. And this after she had worked all day. You don’t think that was hard to see? I knew that a lot of moms didn’t have to do that, and I didn’t want to watch her, so I’d just leave.”

Every day Roy would go over to the basketball courts at Biltmore Elementary School, and afterward he and his friends would stop at Ed’s service station on Hendersonville Road, where each of them got a Coca-Cola from the vending machine—each of them except Roy. “I couldn’t, because I didn’t have ten cents,” he says. When Mimmie heard that the boys stopped at Ed’s after basketball, she asked Roy what he drank when the other boys had Cokes. “Oh, I just have some water,” he told her. All these years later, Williams, who’s now 46, can’t tell his story without pausing to swallow hard as he describes walking into the kitchen the next morning, after Mimmie had gone to work, and seeing her on the corner of the table what would become for him the symbol of her goodness and her struggle. “There was 10 cents sitting there,” he says.

This remains prominent among the searing memories of his boyhood days in North Carolina. So much so that when his old high school coach, Buddy Baldwin came to spend a weekend at Kansas two years ago, Williams told him the story all over again. At one point Williams escorted Baldwin out to the garage and pointed to a large refrigerator and told him, “Open that up.”

Baldwin swung open the door and looked inside. All the shelves, from front to back, were lined with hundreds of cans of Coca-Cola Classic. Four unopened cases were piled on tip of the fridge. Williams then told Baldwin, “I said to myself back then, ‘Someday I’m going to have all the Coca-Cola I want.’ “

Go Heels.


meet me in…


I’m going to say a word about superstitions, because anyone who follows sports – or this blog – knows that there is a game tonight that is quite possibly the biggest possible game in my emotional psyche. I’ll tell you how superstitious I am: I won’t even mention the contest, because the last time I did that on here, we lost to fucking Dook.

My obsessive-compulsive disorder threatened to derail my existence as a tiny tot. By age 5, I’d already categorized all the single-digit numbers in terms of personality, and used them all day to satisfy some bizarre trains of thought. In my head:

1 = alone

2 = love

3 = erased the last bad thing

4 = luck

5 = bad luck

6 = bad luck for others

7 = good luck for others

8 = saving grace meant for rare usage

9 = erased the last whole cadre of things

What does this mean? It meant that if I thought I’d said the wrong thing, I’d knock on something hard three times. If I wanted someone to win a contest, I’d close my eyes and look at them – without their knowledge – seven times. It got so bad that one day, in the mirror, I saw four lines drawn on my forehead. I soon deduced that I had parted my hair, but in a desire to be lucky, I did it four times while holding a felt-tip marker.

And that day, I decided it was over. No more of this obsessive-compulsive shit. I may have been crazy, but I had my vanity to consider. I was already in junior high.

Still, the numbers meme creeps into my life every once in a while. On a bad subway trip, I’ll catch myself doing some bizarre combination of the numbers above to assuage my worries. But falling in love with my college team provided a new outlet for all kinds of crazy obsessive superstition and ritual. I already mentioned the turtleneck I’ve worn to Dook games for fifteen years, but that’s just the tip of the psycho-sartorial iceberg. There’s all kinds of shit I’ve pulled in the last three weeks to get my team where it is now, weird combinations of sitting, undergarments, food and phone calls that recall a night 12 years ago.

I know it’s stupid, it’s “magical thinking” (which my shrink has been trying to get me to drop for years), I know I waste so much mental energy on this, even while I’m preparing for impending fatherhood. But if you don’t really, really, REALLY CARE about something irrational, then your life doesn’t have much meaning. Some people have church, some count beads on their glow-in-the-dark rosary, others form a wiccan circle and pour their menses into the earth.

I, and the rest of you who feel the same, have tonight.