Track 76 – Someone Like You

Last night I found myself in front of the computer fighting with my fingertips (again) , trying desperately to find the words to express what was going on inside. I guess the gap between tracks has been too long. One o’clock came and went and I had written nothing worth posting. At about one thirty, Rachel finally came out into the living room and asked me to go to bed. Five thirty was going to come around way too quickly. It was time to catch some z’s.

Without argument, I closed up my laptop, padded off to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and quickly slipped under the covers next to Rachel. As I snuggled up close against her bulging belly, I concentrated on the gentle movements coming from deep within her womb. I looked at her and smiled. Our little one seemed to know that it was finally time for us to meet. His day had arrived.

And what a blur of a day it was.

It is now one fifteen in the morning of January 5th and I cannot help but wonder where the hours have gone. Our baby boy, Onan Aaron Kaufman, was born in the wee early hours of January 4th, 2014. He was brought out from the delivery room, face scrunched up in discomfort, by one of the nurses. We were told his weight (3.6 kilograms), his time of birth (7:44 a.m), the status of his mother (healthy) and were allowed to take a few pictures before he was whisked back inside to be cleaned up and swaddled.

The rest of the day was a series of visits, texts, snuggles and pictures. Somehow, through all of the excitement, time, the elusive demon that it can be, managed to slip away. The early hours of tomorrow became today, and here I am, once again, perched at my computer searching for something to say.

Fortunately, tonight I have found my words.

Kind of.

I have actually borrowed some words. Two to be exact. A short sentiment that was passed to me through the lips of my other brother. Something that he said to me after I thanked him and a group of friends and family for all they had done to give Rachel and I such an amazing baby sprinkle. His words were nothing special. Nevertheless, they were something very profound. They gave me an outlook that I hope (and pray) I can pass on to my children. What he said was,

‘Thank you.’

At first I thought it was a rather odd response to my words of appreciation. After all, he (and everyone else) had put so much time and effort into making little Onan’s baby sprinkle such an extravagant success. He had no reason to be thanking me.

Or did he?

My ‘brother’ replied that the anticipation of Onan’s arrival had given us all a reason to celebrate. It was an act of love that provided a group of friends with an excuse to let love’s beauty shine. He continued by saying that we live in a world where love must be cherished, nurtured and spread. Any reason to celebrate it is something to be thankful for.

As I sit here in the faint light of my computer, looking over my wife and daughter and thinking of my newborn son snuggled peacefully below, I am struck with the wisdom and insight of his words. All I can do is to respond with nothing less than the same sentiment.

‘Thank you!’

(Someone Like you, by Adele, is the background music for Onan’s birth announcement. ( It was the song that seemed to fit the moment and for me it will forever be ‘his’. Welcome to the world, my son. Thank you for the love that you have brought with you!)

Someone Like You Youtube link


Track 75 — This is the One; Hidden Track — Seasons of Love

I sat down tonight with a mission; a mission to finally complete this post; a post which I had every intention of publishing three weeks ago; three weeks ago, of course, being my forty-first birthday and the intended finale to my 365 day blog; a blog which somehow never reached its conclusion.


Trust me when I say that I tried. I wrote, scratched, typed and deleted so many introductions and ideas that I almost forgot what it was I that I had hoped to say. I struggled so much, in fact, that I felt as though I was playing a game that my brother and I used enjoy as kids. (Actually, it is not so much a game as it is a psychological phenomenon. But I digress.) He and I would repeat ‘giraffe’ over and over again until the word completely lost its meaning. It was somehow amusing for us to disassociate the word ‘giraffe’ from the long necked animal that roams the Savannah. What can I say? We were easily entertained. Now. Not so much. Now. This game of semantic saturation has lost all of its appeal. Now. All I want to do is get to track 76.

Unfortunately, in order to do that that, I must first open the door to track 75. And as I have said, that has not been an easy task. I am not sure why, however, as I had chosen the song about two months before I really began thinking about what I wanted to say. Come to think of it, maybe that was the problem.

The song I had originally chosen was Seasons of Love from Rent. The selection seemed appropriate for the occasion. (To me anyway.) How do I measure a year? From the words I have written over the past 365 days, I hope that the answer is obvious. In love. For my family. My friends. My past. And of course, my future. The answer should be nothing but – love.

The snag came as I tried to relate the song to my life. Rent was the last musical that I saw before coming to Taiwan. My parents purchased four tickets; two for themselves, and two for me and my fiancée at the time. Life worked out, however, that I needed to find another date for the performance. (see track 54 Closer To Fine) Although it might not have seemed true at the time, I know now that I was sitting next to the perfect person as the final number faded and the curtains came down.

As I write this post, it seems to me that Seasons of Love was the perfect choice. The song was a prelude to what became be the next chapter of my life; the chapter which eventually brought me to where I am today. If only the last three weeks had been so easy.

I am not sure why, but any thoughts that I had put down onto the paper or screen in front of me did not seem to fit. Possibly I was trying too hard. Maybe I was looking for a bit of poignancy that was not there. It could be that I was striving for a depth that could not be reached. Or maybe I just did not know what to say. Nevertheless, for whatever the reason, I abandoned Seasons of Love. The post was not going anywhere and I decided that I needed a new song.

When I sat down today, I had no idea what track 75 would be. All I knew was that I had to relax. (The three-finger shot of single malt that sits next to me as I type is my failsafe guarantee to success.) It was not until I started writing that I began to hear the music. I guess that I needed to first understand that this post was neither a conclusion nor a finale. It was just a post; a rambling like any other. Not written to be deep. Not told to be meaningful. Just published as a means to tell my story.

My blog is nothing more than a compilation of musings that give insight into how I lived, what I have done, what I have hoped for and what I strive to achieve. As I tap closer to track 76, I have finally realized that this post was nothing to be planned or forced. It was simply the one.

This is the One, by the Stone Roses, was a song that was introduced to me in university by the same woman who sat next to me at Rent. (See track 71 Faithfully) It is a song that has been with me for all of my adult life. Although I have no idea what the lead singer is singing about, (I assume it’s about a girl, but his accent is just too strong for me!) the chorus sings out to me with every heavy strum of the guitar. This is the one. There is only one. I am in love with it and look forward to every moment of it. I pray for a future filled with the same love and happiness with which I have been blessed. To my family and friends, nothing but love.

Now, let’s hit track 76.

This is the One youtube link

Seasons of Love youtube link

Track 74 – I Gotta Feeling

“So, who looks better?” I asked Rachel without warning.
“Huh?”was all I got.
“That guy or me. Who looks better?”
Rachel leaned up from her sun bed, squinted her eyes and repeated herself, “Huh?”
“That Italian looking guy over there. Who looks better, him or me?”
Rachel rolled her eyes and looked over in the direction I was nodding. “Does it really matter?”
I simply repeated the question. I’m vain. Of course it mattered.
“You look great,” she said grinning at me.
“And he’s a lot younger than you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re almost forty-one. You’re old…”

I’m not quite sure what was said after that. All I could hear for the next few moments was the deafening echo of Rachel’s last two words. You’re old…you’re old…you’re old…

I’m not going to lie. It stung. But before I delve any further into my bruised ego, I must clarify my question. I fear that without such elucidation I might be putting my beautiful (albeit overly direct) bride into a bad light.

When I asked Rachel who looked better, I was looking for a comparison between our physiques. I am at the gym four to five times a week and like to get a little feedback (other than my nightly modeling sessions in front of the mirror) to be sure that all of my time and effort isn’t in vain. Understanding my idiosyncrasies all too well, Rachel knew exactly what I meant. What she didn’t know (obviously) was the correct answer to my question.

As I posed the query, I anticipated that Rachel would flip flop between the two of us. I assumed that she would have commented on the size or definition of his arms, shoulders, or chest. I even half expected her to express the truth. (He might have been a little more defined than me. Maybe.) What I didn’t expect was for her to take a poke at my soft spot. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that she would call me old.

Of course, I know Rachel wasn’t calling ‘me’ old. (I asked her again just to be sure.) She was stating a simple but harsh fact. I have lost my youthful look. At forty, my skin no longer has the same amount of elasticity that it once did. I might not agree that the slight sag in my epidermis makes me look old; however, I cannot argue that when comparing us, it was not difficult to determine who the older of the two was. It seems as though my endless presses, curls and crunches did not save me from the cruel bite of Father Time. I must thank Rachel for reminding me of this fact.

And really, I should. The fact is that I am forty (nearly forty-one). I have worked, played and partied hard to get here. Aside from my life lines, follicular inaptitude and loose fitting skin I also have a lifetime of memories that track my journey along the way. Trust me when I say that it has been one hell of a grand ride so far.

Nevertheless, always wanting more, I convince myself that forty is the new twenty. “Why not?” I say. Life is too short to waste on getting old. This mentality, as fulfilling as it may be, has the tendency to get me into trouble from time to time. In choosing to forget my age, I also let slip the notion of moderation. (Another one of my father’s mantras – everything in moderation including moderation.) And thus I often doom my self to a day or two of soreness, suffering and/or mild embarrassment. Not to mention, a slightly ticked off wife.

I Gotta Feeling, by the Black Eyed Peas, is one of those songs that seems to bring me back to being young. This is odd as the track was first released in 2009. Nevertheless, something about the beat keeps me feeling energized. Whilst drunk, I have climbed, twirled and performed to it on poles at a number of different bars throughout the city. I was even told that I had pretty mean skills. Whilst sober, I have gone crazy to it at home and in the car, singing and dancing like a madman. Sadly, I was told that my skills here were missing. (Have I introduced you to my wife?) All the same, whatever the venue, and whenever the time, whether I am jumping to the beat on our worn out box spring, or stumbling around to it drunk at a bar, I Gotta Feeling always seems to keep the sag out of my skin.

I know that I will never win the fight against aging, but that doesn’t mean I will ever submit to getting old. As I said, life is just too short. Although family, work and responsibility have changed me a great deal from the person I was fifteen, ten or even five years ago, I have not forgotten what it means to be young. I believe whole heartedly that my ability to see the world through the eyes of a younger man has kept me looking and feeling more youthful than I really am. It has also given me the confidence to ask such questions as, “Who looks better?”. Nevertheless, the next time I do so, I will be sure to first educate Rachel on the kindness that comes from a well told white lie.

I Gotta Feeling youtube link

Track 73 – Faith

My father, forever the optimist, has always been a firm believer in the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Having heard it enough times as a child, I began to understand the worth in these words. Now, as an adult, I do my best to live my life in much the same way. Things always seem to work out better when I face the world with a positive attitude.

Most of the time anyways.

I have to admit that I didn’t taste anything but the sour tang of disappointment when I woke up a couple of weeks ago to a downpour. Normally, I don’t mind a little precipitation in the morning. I actually find the pitter patter of raindrops to be quite relaxing. However, on that particular morning we were not at home. We were on the island of Koh Chang about to enjoy the first day of our vacation. Or so we had thought.

Upon hearing the rainfall, I rolled over to Rachel and let out a groan of displeasure. I then reached for my smart phone and began to check the long range weather forecast for that area of Thailand. As soon as I did, the foul tasting bitterness that had filled my mouth slipped heavily into my gut. Grey skies, mild rain, thundershowers and nothing but for the next ten days at least. My disappointment only grew as I checked a number of other weather websites. They were all the same. Not one would give me the forecast to which I had been looking forward for so long. It soon became apparent that any lemonade I would taste would have to be drunk from underneath an umbrella.

And so, I did what any fool in that situation would do. I put down my Samsung, stepped out onto our balcony and defiantly thrust my finger into the sky. I poked at the dark clouds looming overhead and willed the rain to stop. I would not allow the holiday that I had waited so long to enjoy to be washed away in a torrent of wind and rain. I would see the sun.

And I did.

By mid-afternoon that day, the rain had subsided and Siaya and I were swimming in the ocean. The next morning, we woke up to the beauty of a cloudless sky. That night, I went to sleep satisfied with a tender redness on my skin that came from a full day in the sun. And for the rest of our holiday, save the last day, we enjoyed the beauty of Thailand ‘sans’ precipitation. (During the times that we were out anyways.) It seemed as though my finger worked. I, at least, take it on faith that it did

I remember the first time that I got it into my head that I had the power to stop the rain. It was in Bali during the summer of 1999. My brother and I had bought our parents tickets to the island as an anniversary present and then met them there for a family vacation. As I was laying out by the pool on our last day, I noticed a cluster of menacing rain clouds rolling in. For some reason (I think I had seen my father do it before.), I pointed my finger at the clouds and wished them away. I don’t know if it was a freak of nature, a spirit in the sky or my will, but within ten minutes the clouds had all but disappeared. I was blessed with a couple extra hours of sunshine. That was all it took for me to believe in the power of my finger. That was enough to give me faith.

Now, every time there is a chance of bad weather ruining our plans for a party, outing or adventure, I jab my index finger into the sky and attempt to work my magic. If you ask me, I will tell you that it works eighty to ninety percent of the time. I will tell you with some conviction that I have the power to stop the rain. Or at least delay the onslaught of precipitation for a time. Am I crazy? Probably. Just a little. Peculiar at the very least. But I am ok with that. With the present state of the world around us, I believe that having faith in anything at all is a good thing. It’s needed.

Any time I turn on a newscast or read a news-report I am drowned with stories of political corruption, deception and self-serving ambition. It is difficult for me to have faith in our governments.

The same stations and reporters that provide me with those stories also try to convince me that it is important to be aware of how JAY Z now spells his name or that the Queen has just visited the baby prince. It is difficult for me to have faith in our media.

I read about teachers being mistreated, students being mislead, and an entire system being mislabeled. It is difficult for me to have faith in our so-called education.

Criminals are let go while victims are abused. Truth, justice equality have been replaced by dishonesty, power and greed. It is difficult for me to have faith in the law.

I read of, bees, bats and birds dying, polar ices melting and waters rising. It is difficult for me to have faith in our future.

The world, it seems to me, is full of lemons and not enough sugar. I need a little faith in something to sweeten my drink. And so, I cling to whatever beliefs I have no matter how far fetched they may seem. After all, if something as wildly unbelievable as the ability to stop the rain could be true then maybe (just maybe) everything else in which I have lost faith has the potential to get better.

Faith, by George Michael, brings me back to grade thirteen, a road trip to North Bay, and the woman who drove me there. Throughout our long friendship, we have shared in a number of rather unique experiences that I know will keep us bonded for life. I hate to be a broken record (Something else that was taught to me by my father!) but there is nothing more reassuring than the certainty of a true friend. It is a wonderful thing to know that someone will always have my back no matter what. I can only hope that my friend has the same amount of faith in me.

Faith is the belief in something without proof. Although it is often a step made blind, it provides us with the confidence and light to make the journey possible. As Rachel, Siaya and I get ready to welcome the newest member of our family, I force myself to keep my faith and belief that things will continue to work out for the best. However, if they don’t, the next time it I see the dark clouds rolling in, I will just lay off of my finger a little and allow the cool rain to water down the sour taste of lemons.

Faith youtube link

Track 72 – Angel of Mine

My love,

When I first met you…

…I was sitting on my motorcycle outside of Nepal. You came out of the bar a little left of sober and I wished you a happy birthday. Our introduction was brief and uneventful. I doubt whether you even remember it. Why would you. I was just another foreigner on the prowl. Just know that I remember you.

I remember looking at you more closely a couple of months later when a friend of mine commented on what a good looking ‘bird’ you were. He was right. You were pretty hot. Jet black hair gelled up the sky; deep brown eyes full of mischief and excitement; a smile that filled the room. Everything about you seemed to draw me in.

From that moment

I already knew,
There was something inside of you…

… and I spent the better part of a year trying my best to get you to notice the same thing in me. This didn’t come without a struggle. Nothing worthwhile ever does. But in the end you heard my words, trusted my intentions and felt my love. You gratefully accepted everything that I had to offer and in return blessed me with a look of depth and purity that spoke of forever. In the end, you said I do.

Although our wedding day seemed to pass by in a blur, I will always carry with me brief moments and mental pictures of the day when we two became one: the sharp echo of firecrackers that awakened the world to our becoming; tears of happiness that were shed outside your parents’ home; prayers that were chanted for a future full of health and happiness; and the love from our friends and family that welcomed our union. It was and will forever remain a day to be remembered.

My love,

If you were to ask me why I think our marriage is so strong, I wouldn’t have a clue what to tell you. If you were to ask me why I still look upon you with the same sense of passion that I did when we first started dating, I would shrug my shoulders and tell you ‘because’. If you were to ask me how I know I will love you forever, I would kiss you and just tell you I do.

But you won’t ask me.

Instead, you will carry on squeezing my hand as you did on the day we were married; you will never stop caressing me with the tenderness of a young newlywed; and you will forever continue whispering ‘I love you’ into my ear.

How do I know this?

As I said before, twelve years ago, ‘My love, I just do.’

Angel, by Eternal, was the first song we danced to as husband and wife. As the music started playing, my head began buzzing and my ears started ringing. For a moment the world was empty except you and I. Time, for that second, stood still.

I look(ed) at you, looking at me
I know why they said the best things are free,
Gonna love you ’til the end of time,
Angel of mine.

Happy anniversary, my love.

You are my eternal!

Angel of Mine youtube link

Track 71 – Faithfully

Despite the oppressive heat and thick sheet of humidity that has been pressing down on the island for the last month and a half, I have only recently begun to notice the arrival of summer. That is not to say that I am not completely aware of the drastic change in weather conditions. My entire body is cocooned within a greasy film of sticky sweat that even the coldest of showers can’t seem to penetrate. I have to change my shirt at least once a day to avoid sweat stains and the stench of B.O.. I char my ass cheeks every time I sit on my scooter. (They can reach upwards of fifty-seven degrees under the hot summer sun. Ouch!). Trust me. I am aware of the weather conditions.

Nevertheless, ever since I was a boy, summer has meant one thing and one thing only: vacation. And for me, this only began last Friday. Admittedly, I am still working a few hours a day; however, my schedule is far less rigid than it is during the school year. I now have time to relax between classes and am able to come home for dinner with the family. This alone is the vacation that I have been waiting for. And yet there’s more. We have planned day trips, camping getaways, and even a two week holiday in Thailand. Could things get better? Oh, yes. They could. For the days that we remain in Hsinchu, Siaya is enrolled in a couple of summer camps leaving Rachel and I with a few extra hours for unadulterated fun and frolic. Now THAT is the summer for which I have been waiting.


Call me greedy, but even with all the fun we have planned, two things are left missing: 1) my friends and family from back home (I know that Chinese New Year was full of cuddles and conversation on Canadian soil. What can I say? I’m greedy. I want more. Besides that, we had neither the time nor the opportunity to visit with everyone we had hoped to see. I miss my peeps in the homeland.); and, 2) the cottage.

Oh, yes! The cottage. Oh, how I miss the long summer days at … (Let me say it again.)… the cottage! Beers on the deck; dips in the cool dark waters of the lake; tours along the coastline in and behind a boat; adventures in the waves and through the air on tubes, banana boats and knee boards; leaps from small cliffs and the arching end of a swinging rope; barbecues at sunset; small bonfires at night; cards before bed; coffee at dawn; and then, one more time with beers on the deck. It is, in a word, spectacular.

And yet as amazing as all of that sounds (and is), those four walls would just be another hut in the wilderness if not for the girl (now woman) who first brought me there. After all, the cottage about which I am referring isn’t even mine. It belongs to her family, an amazingly warm group of individuals with whom I have had the privilege to share a connection since my first year of university. Without them (and particularly her) the water would be less alluring, the boat rides less thrilling, and the sunsets less appealing. Without them there would be no cottage. Not for me anyway.

As I sit reminiscing about the days and nights I spent embraced within the calming exhilaration of my friend’s northern getaway, I can’t help but wonder how it came to be that I still have the opportunity to enjoy such hospitality. The history that my friend and I share, as colorful, fun and exciting as it is, has also been tarnished with hurt and heartbreak both caused by me. Most people would have chosen to walk away from my company; most people would have ended the relationship then and there. I am forever grateful that she was/is not ‘most people’.

She is a woman with the strength of a lion who chose to hold on when most would have let go. She is a woman with the compassion of a saint who gave comfort when most would have walked away. She is a woman with a heart of gold who opened the doors to her home when many would have locked them and turned out the lights. She is more than just a woman. She is family – faithful and true.

Faithfully, by Journey, is the tune that takes me back to my undergrad years and the time I shared with this friend. Our history and her strength have taught me about the importance of forgiveness, empathy and understanding. Because of her I now see that I have the choice to rise above the cruelty and hurt that surrounds me and use the goodness inside of me to help make things better. Through her and her actions I have learned what it means to be a friend. Faithfully.

Faithfully youtube link

Track 70 – We Found Love

“I love you, man!” might just be the four most overused words at a bar. (Next to “I’m f*****g wasted!” of course.) Friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers are often the recipient of these kind words for no other reason than the bartender hasn’t stopped pouring. Alcohol along with it’s many other ‘powers’ simply has the ability to make everyone and anyone your friend. (For a while at least.) During my barhopping days, I sealed more friendships through slurred words and drunken hugs than I can even remember. It is unfortunate that many of these bonds forged out of hops and wheat lasted only moments past my one shot too many; nevertheless, I have always been grateful for any and all barstool camaraderie. Any connection with another soul, no matter how foggy or fleeting it may be, is a gift to be cherished.

And I do.

Especially when that connection helps to deepen a friendship that is already there.

I didn’t say, “I love you, man!” to my friend that night in Macau, but I could have. Maybe I should have. But I didn’t. What I did do was weep like an idiot as we left the bar. One second I was fine, and the next a waterfall of salty tears was rolling down my cheeks. I know that the floodgates were opened by a conversation I had had with my brother earlier that night about Rachel’s miscarriage. It was the first time I had talked about our loss and apparently the words we shared let out emotions that had been packed a little too tightly in my chest. Of course it didn’t help that I was wasted at the time. But that is not at all the point.

The point is how my buddy ushered me out of the bar and kept me from becoming a spectacle. We were in Macau that night to celebrate our other buddy’s bachelor party. The mood was high and everyone was more than a little intoxicated. The last thing that was needed was the drama of an ’emotional’. (An emotional is what my friends and I used to call a drunken breakdown.) My buddy somehow managed to maintain the status quo while covertly helping me deal with my pain. He didn’t pry; he didn’t nudge; he just told me that it would be ok. Even in my alcohol induced stupor, I knew that he was right. I just couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. A part of me obviously needed to release the feelings of sadness that I had long been repressing. (“Release brings relief.”) My buddy gave me exactly what I needed – a silent connection.

Nothing was ever mentioned about that night until a year later. As my friend and I shared whisky and a moment in an isolated cove on Shiao Leo Chiou, an island off of the coast of Taiwan, I explained why I had broken down that night and thanked him for what he had done. Once again, I neglected to say, “I love you, man!” Maybe I should have. The sentiment was and most certainly is there. Nevertheless, the words didn’t seem right at the time. As the cool sea air blew on our faces and chilled our bones, all that was needed was the warmth of our whisky and that silent second of connection.

We Found Love, by Rihanna, was covered by an amazingly talented artist at one of the bars we hit that night in Macau. Her sweet sounds and the song’s driving beat lifted me from my seat and had me bouncing around the floor like a madman. For me, it was the song of the evening. Every time I hear it played, I am reminded of the highs and lows of a weekend worth remembering! Although I didn’t find love, I found depth in a friendship that I didn’t know was there.

We Found Love youtube link