My Wife Has Left Us.*


The bad news is my wife has left us*.

* The good news is it is for only 3 weeks!

Although we have had our share of marital discord, fortunately, we are not at that state of permanent leaving. (At least I hope not!)

My wife took a gig teaching at a new business school in Barcelona Spain for 3 weeks.  The school is Harbour Space , a new European university, and she’s teaching her expertise- digital marketing.  It was a great opportunity for her, and I encouraged her to do it.  (As she would encourage me to take a great gig, should it arrive.)

She flew out yesterday and arrived today.

They are so cool they don’t have a logo, but a video backdrop!

This will be the longest that she’s been apart from us (or me) in 8 years certainly, but maybe all 13 years of our history. ( I may have gone on tour for 3 weeks during one of those years, so maybe I was away longer.  )  It’s still a long time to be away.

And it is a long time to be a single dad.

I think it will be either a very quick 3 weeks or a very long 3 weeks, and it all kind of depends on how stuff goes. I don’t anticipate many problems, as I do most of the everyday care-giving now.

 But problems happen,  emergencies occur, and sh-t goes down. I am sure there will be some moments when my son will bug me beyond belief, and I’ll be wishing for a couple of moments to myself.  Or when I will need her cool-headed advice about some thorny parenting problem.  Or when my son injures himself and cries out for his momma and she isn’t there. Or when I haven’t gotten all the things done I want to get done, who will I blame?   Or when I need her loving embrace around my throb-—  this is a family blog! 


Oh my God, how will I ever survive!

* Please note the asterisk on the title.

I think it will be fine.  When I dropped her off at the airport, he was crying and crying.  But it only lasted about two minutes.  By the time we left the airport, we were over the crying which is exactly where we should have been.  Today, we facetimed from her sweet little apartment on the Barcelona Ramblas, and he was excited for about a minute, and then left to read his book.  I think the boy will be fine! And so will I.

Like anything, it’s a step at a time.  We are planning extra play dates, extra time with local family members, some fun movie time, some fun theatre time, and some special dad time. And some time in just doing what we do- it will be an object lesson in how you can’t have everything you want whenever you want it.  Because that’s the fact of life.  It will work out.  We will survive.

If you’ve got some extra-special single dad tips, please post them in the comments.

My Wife Has Returned To Us

As you may remember from a previous post (or if you live nearby, the strange and plaintive wails that have been emanating from my house in the night-time) my wife has been away for the past 3 weeks.

Barcelona is full of amazing architecture.

She was teaching digital marketing in Barcelona, and by all accounts having a great time of it, seeing the city, soaking up the ambiance, basking (or should that be Basquing?) in the warm Spanish sun, eating jamon and olives.  Meanwhile, my son and I were shivering in the cold that makes up Chicago winter  (the winter has been relatively mild, but there were a few cold days, and I am exaggerating for dramatic effect.  I am a thespian, so sue me!)

We picked her up last night from the airport, and I have to say that  it was/is great to have her back.  In fact, so much so that my son wept when she opened the door of the car, and insisted that she sit in the back with him for the 45 minute ride home for the airport.  (Apparently I do not rate as more than a glorified Lyft driver.  And I didn’t even get a tip!)

So he wept when she left, and he wept when she returned, but in between, there was very little weeping about missing mom.  We were pretty busy, and we went on some fun adventures. In the  3 weeks that she was gone, we did the following:

  • saw 5 plays (Romeo and Juliet, Year I Didn’t Go To School, Hamilton, The Illusionists, and Actor’s Gymnasium circus show Quest)
  • saw 1 movie in cinema (Lego Batman) and 4 movies at home( first 2 Indiana Jones movies, Newsies, & The Princess Bride,)
  •  drove to Indiana over President’s day to hang out at the farm with cousins.
  • celebrated his half birthday with cousins.
  •  checked out a new Ninja warrior place.
  • had 5 playdates with friends.
  • visited my wife’s ailing Grandmother three times, once in the Hospital.
My son and I at Hamilton!
My wife missed it due to being abroad
(hmmmm… she’s always a broad!)

This is in addition to all of the regular stuff we do, like go to fencing class, speed skating practice, Sunday School, and Pilates class. And homework.

In short, we kept our days filled.  And it’s not like we didn’t have any contact with her when she was in Barcelona. Thanks to  the wonders of modern technology, we probably face-timed once every two/three days, got taken on a tour of her apartment, and even saw the streets of Barcelona.

Even with the busyness and the facetiming, there was still plenty of room to miss my wife.

Here are a few takeaways from spending this 3 week foray into being single.

TAKEAWAYS FROM 3 WEEKS OF BEING A SINGLE PARENT

1) I’M GLAD I’M NOT A SINGLE PARENT

While my workload as the primary caregiver of my son did not change dramatically while my wife was away (I do all the cooking and cleaning and carting already) There is something to be said for having even a tiny break from the drama of raising a kid.  Being able to chill out for a couple of minutes without having to worry is a luxury, and one that I like.  I got a fair amount of chill out time with her gone, but not enough.  And I only have one kid.  If I had more, and I was single, not sure how I would stay sane.

2) I LOVE MY WIFE

I already knew this, but it was reinforced.  It’s not just the man/woman time that I missed (although I did, and quite frankly I often miss that when she’s here!) It’s the sharing of life’s adventures together.  I know that she really wishes that I was there to see some of the things she saw in Barcelona, and I really wished she’d been to the plays, or seen our son’s amazing love for doing Ninja stuff.  Yes, she got to see it on Instagram, but it’s not the same thing.

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3) I AM CONTENT BEING BY MYSELF

This might sound like it contradicts point two above, but it doesn’t.  I missed my wife, and I love my wife, but I also like being by myself.  Not having to squabble over what show to watch, or having a discussion about who is going to take a shower first, or even not asking me to turn down my computer when I’m watching my show in one room while she watches television in our bed was pretty glorious.  Overall though, I’d rather squabble than be alone.

4) MY WIFE USES A LOT OF RESOURCES

I always suspected that my wife has more dirty clothes, more dirty plates, and uses a disproportionate amount of toilet paper.  Her 3 weeks away show me that I was right.
  •  I went from doing a load of laundry 5 days a week when she is here to doing laundry twice a week.
  •  I typically do the dishes once a day when she’s here, I did them 3 times a week while she was gone.
  • We went through 3 rolls of toilet paper in the 3 weeks she was gone, instead of 2 rolls + a week typically.

I still love you darling, but in this squabble,  like most others, I am right.

Barcelona is Amazing! Wish You Were Here!

We’ve been in Barcelona for a little over 2 weeks, and I have barely written about it on this blog.

And what’s even worse is that we have less than a week to go!  So much still to do, and so much to write about!

I apologize!  I have so  much to write about– I’ve been loving spending this extended time in Barcelona, and you can find photos and brief observations on my personal facebook page (many of them are public, so even if you don’t know me personally you can take a gander), my twitter account, and my instagram.   (And I urge you to follow me on those last two if you don’t already!)

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Rather than write a step by step chronological account of our time in Barcelona (as I did for our shorter 6 day London extravaganza:  See here for a sample post about a couple of our London days.)

I think that I’m going to try to write about different themes of our time in Barcelona.  The food.  The art.  The fun.  The joys and troubles of parenting a kid on vacation in a foreign country.

The Magic Fountain of Montjuic:  It first started entertaining people in 1929.  Now, thousands of people attend every show!
My son, in the Nativity Tower of La Sagrada Familia.
It’s a long long long way down!

Some of those posts might morph into longer reviews (for example, we spent a delightful day at the second oldest amusement park in Europe (Tibidabo) and had a whole bunch  of fun.  That’s worth a whole post in itself.  Or the day we went to go see the Castellers perform (it’s an ancient Catalan tradition where teams from different cities practice making human pyramids of different shapes and dimensions.  People from all walks of life get together to perform on this team as part of a civic pride and just fun.

Or La Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece of architectural madman and genius Gaudi, who designed this massive and breathtaking church knowing they would not be completed in his lifetime.  It is expected to be completed in 2026, 100 years after his death!

Or just about any of Gaudi’s works, which are all over the city!

Selfie in front of La Catedral in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

Or  Las Ramblas, one of the main touristy streets of Barcelona, which has all kinds of walking and touring right outside of it (and most importantly, leads directly into the Gothic Quarter, a series of winding streets and shops and cathedrals and colleges and tapas bars and markets and all sorts of other great stuff for a tourist such as myself  (and my intrepid son) to get lost in and around.

I love getting lost in the Gothic quarter, because you never know what will be around the corner of the little winding street.  It could be an ice cream shop, or the public library with homeless men playing chess with tourists, or it could be some 15nth century sculpture garden that has somehow managed to remain undisturbed for all these years.

On Las Ramblas, there is a fountain (The Canaletes Fountain)  whose plaque reads (translated) “If you drink water from the Canaletes Fountain, you’ll fall in love with Barcelona forever and no matter how far away you go, you’ll always return.”

Let it just be said:  I drank from the fountain!

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So bear with me, and stick around, as I slowly get around to writing about this amazing city.

 Even after I’ve returned to my own city!
(cue the song My Sweet Home Chicago by Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells!)

Barcelona: When Terrorism Hits Home

This is not the blogpost I wanted to write about Barcelona.

I wanted to write about the fantastic museum my son and I saw yesterday morning, just off the end of Las Ramblas, (yes, the same street as the terrorist attack)  the Maritime Museum of Barcelona (MMB), which features an amazing exhibit about one of the galleys that was built there, and a full length replica of one of the amazing galleys(you can’t go on it, but you can view it from a number of angles.  The exhibit is interactive, has computer games for kids to play (when you build a ship, where does the raw materials come from?  A game about all of the trades needed to build the ship, and an explanation of the process of building a ship)  It also has 6 other exhibits,  as well as a great cafe, a submarine in its courtyard, a historic ship on the harbor, and is housed in a building that has been there for 2000 years.

I wanted to write about the Bjork exhibit that I saw yesterday afternoon, at the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCB), a VR tour into Bjork’s mind and discography, where I and 20 other strangers were led into her strange, sometimes overwrought, strangely optimistic world. It features a collaboration with David Attenborough, an explanation of her app about her last album, and a new way of thinking about composing music.  Here in Barcelona, I’ve worn an Oculus Rift at a museum about 10 times in 4 different exhibits.  Barcelona is state of the art when it comes to museums.

I wanted to write about how much my family and I have been loving our 3 week sojourn in Barcelona, of having the luxury to explore a city that is so full of culture and architecture and food and life that it would take another 9 weeks just to get to know, and we probably wouldn’t even see everything then.  About how we were leaving in 2 days, but we are already planning our return.

I wanted to write about all the fabulous adventures that we are having, and how I am so far in the weeds about writing about this stuff.

But as a rock and roll icon once explained, over bass and drums,


“You can’t always get what you want.”

Instead, I’m writing about how close we got to what was clearly a terrorist attack, and how we had to explain to my almost 9-year-old child why the store closed down and no one was allowed on the streets.

Las Ramblas, the street where it happened, not only runs through the center of Barcelona, it runs through the center of our Barcelona experience   We are living in an apartment about 1/2 mile away, up the same street (Ramblas de Catalunya)  The subway line, our bus line, even one of the supermarkets we shopped in were right there at the Plaza de Catalunya.

The day of the attack my son and I traveled under the street where s we the attack occurred at around 12 noon.   We have walked the stretch the van drove countless times in the 3 weeks that we have been in Barcelona.   Out of the 20 days we’ve spent in Barcelona, we’ve touched Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas on about 17 of them.

WHERE WE WERE:

When the attack occurred, I was in a museum 3 blocks away, and had walked on the street where it happened, trod on the Miro mural that is now marred with victim’s blood at around 3 pm that same day.  I went into the Boqueria, just off the strip, to buy a juice and a snack to take to the museum.

My wife and son were out shopping on Las Ramblas, getting treats and gifts for family on the way home.  They had eaten at the McDonalds on Las Ramblas (my son’s first McDonalds in 3 weeks, a near miracle!) at around 3:30 pm.

It is not quite a miracle, but incredibly fortunate that we weren’t there when it occurred.  We could have been.  If I had left the museum early, I would have probably walked over there to walk home (or if I were feeling really tired, pick up the subway and go 2 stops.  My wife could have easily been on Las Ramblas getting ice cream or candy instead of the Gothic Quarter, two blocks away.

I wasn’t with my wife and kid when it happened.  They were in a candy shop when they heard a lot of yelling.  They said there was an accident on Las Ramblas.  They went to an ice cream store nearby, and that’s when they closed the shutters and told people to wait.  If you have to be locked in somewhere, an ice cream store is a pretty good place to be.  While they were in the ice cream store, my son cried twice– once while in the store and once when leaving.  My wife was freaked out also, but stayed strong for him.  My wife was in NY during 9/11, so she knows about terrorism.

My watch kept on buzzing during my VR time (I had joined the museum’s wifi) and when I had a moment, I noticed I had some inquiries asking if I was OK.  I checked wifi, texted my wife, and that’s when I learned what had happened.  I got ready to leave the museum when I was told we couldn’t leave yet– the museum was closed   I finally got to leave, and gave Plaza de Catalunya a wide berth, ended up walking up a street I hadn’t yet walked up.  My wife and son did the same, but on the other side of Plaza de Catalunya, stopping at a friend’s house along the way to get a cold drink, take in the news, and check in with family and friends.

AFTERMATH

When we were all finally home together, (AROUND 8 PM) we had a nice big long family hug and a chat about what was going on.  My son was rightfully scared, and I explained to him that people do bad things to get attention, to wake people up a little, to scare people into not living their lives.  But it’s important that we continue on with our lives because if we don’t, that means that their bad tactics worked.  And we can’t let that happen.

I’ve said similar to him before when I’ve had to explain some of the sad state in our world, (9/11, Donald Trump, London Bridge)  but I’ve never meant it more.

Today, my son asked me if there was another attack. We opened the windows, and it’s a bright sunny day.  Many of the museums, and the big festival that we were going to go to has been cancelled to mourn for the dead. We’ll spend the day packing, and eating, and walking around this great city.

 It’s our last day in Barcelona for a while, but we’ll be back.  

Selfie of the 3 of us near the top of Park Guell

PS- while writing this blog post, I asked my son to write his journal of yesterday.  He’s cried a couple of times more and doesn’t want to write about what happened because he doesn’t want to remember, so clearly, this isn’t over for him.  I’m okay with him not writing today, but I want him to remember, because I want him to remember what you do when cowards and bullies and bigots and racists and crazy people try to terrorize you.

Stand your ground, continue onwards, and persevere.

Our hearts are with all those families who were less fortunate than us and were affected, injured or killed during this tragedy.