advice to baby hoover

from the coolest member of his family

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Honestly, Hoover. HONESTLY.

Hoover, what do you know about Honest Abe? 

I mean, he’s never gonna be your favorite president, OBVIOUSLY, because you kind of got stuck with having to claim Herbert Hoover as your favorite president from before you were born. To be honest, I can’t tell you much about Herbert Hoover. The only time I remember taking US History, it was taught to me by a football coach who assured us that if George Washington played the game he’d have been a great QB (I’m sure we’ve talked about this favorite formative memory of mine), so I guess what I’m saying is that no one’s ever expected much from me on the US history front. Or the world history front, really. Had a coach for that one too. We watched Divorce Court a lot in class, then sometimes at 11 I’d have him turn on Jeopardy (you know how good I am at getting people to do what I want), but class ended at like, 11:20 or something, so it was always before the final answer. Ugh, you know?

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Presidents. Honest Abe. Luckily the reason I brought up him up is right there in his name, so I don’t need to have a real wealth of presidential knowledge to get this going.

So: word is he was pretty honest. And people seem to like that about him. Today I’m here to encourage you to get into the honesty game because I want people to like you too.  

I’d say I know a fair amount of at least somewhat dishonest folk, but I like to believe that that’s just because I have bad taste in people and not because I’ve chosen a profession where connivers thrive. (This is called lying to yourself, Puffbutt — we’ll talk some other time.) Now, look, I’m happy to report that this advice is not coming to you off of some specific incident, but more of an extended period of mulling over the pros of having an honest disposition. And now I offer you five good reasons why you should aspire to earn the moniker Honest Hoover from your pals around the playgroup (other than that being like a super rad cool-sounding nickname to have, obvi).

1. People don’t trust liars.

Duh, right? Once people catch you being dishonest, their opinion of you changes. Sure, you can still be close, but there’ll always be a piece of them — even if it’s small — that doesn’t entirely trust you. When I know someone is distorting the truth to me, I don’t call them out on it (because confrontation, ick) but I file it away in my mental vault and I know to be a little wary about certain areas with them in the future. It’s a bummer that some of my favorite people have a mental sticky note attached to them, and since you’re my MOST favorite person, I don’t want you to become one of them. 

2. Respect.

Sometimes, Hooves, it is very hard to tell the truth. Either because you know the other person doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, or you really don’t want to say what you have to say. Do it anyway. People respect integrity. It’s weird that people respect it so much but are often so lax about it, but truly, you never hear someone say with disdain in their voice, “Ugh, he’s so honest, I can’t stand that in a person.” At least, like, not people who are mentally well-balanced and socially well-adjusted and stuff. Also, as important, you’ll have self-respect if you can give an honest answer in a time when it would be easier to lie. Character-building stuff, kiddo, I’m telling ya. Added bonus — there’s nothing better than getting to have smug points that you don’t do something unlikeable that other people you know do. 

3. Tangles, man.

I know you’re behind on any literature that doesn’t come in board book form:

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But one day you’ll hear of Sir Walter Scott and his famous line, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Lies can get you in deep, bro. You tell one, you gotta tell another to cover up that one, things escalate, your life gets complicated, next thing you know you’re considering upping your fake boyfriend to fake fiancee and wondering how big of a proposal story you need to come up with to make the whole thing buyable and explain why you don’t have a ring. (Look, this only happened to me once, but the guy who would not leave me alone eventually moved on and I got to go back to being relaxingly single both in real life and my imagination.) This was a relatively harmless (although kind of stressful to me at the time) version of what I’m talking about, but imagine how messy things get when people not only lie upon lies, but then have to get other people involved to try to corroborate their lies? Whole political administrations have been brought down because of these things, baby boy! (I couldn’t tell you any specifically, because you know my thing with history — but I’m sure it’s happened.) Woof, Hoover. No gracias, not for us.

4. Checks and balances.

This one’s easy. Wanting to be an honest person can become a great “check yourself before you wreck yourself” system. When you find yourself on the precipice of doing something that you know you’re going to have to lie about later, RED ALERT, DUDE. You probably shouldn’t be doing it. If more people considered this before they engaged in shady activity, my oh my what a different world we’d live in. 

5. Vanity.

Obviously, this one’s the most important. Your nose is really cute the way it is, and I know you haven’t seen Pinocchio yet, but word from that movie is that lying makes your schnoz grow straight out of your face.  Even though I’m not a doctor, I’d say that PROBABLY that’s not really going to happen — but you never know, you know? And are you really willing to risk messing up this delightfully well-proportioned visage? 

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I didn’t think so. 

Now, before I send you off into your world of soft pants and indeterminate sticky things on your hands, I want to clarify that we’re not talking about white lies here. Like if you get a bad haircut and you know it and we know it, but we tell you it looks great to make you feel better about yourself, that’s just being a kind soul. Some people would disagree with me on that and believe in brutal honesty — but I’m a softy who has a hard time with “brutal” anything. However, if you decide when you grow up that you want to be a brutally honest fellow, I’ll respect that and just make sure I never ask you any questions that I don’t want the answers to. Deal? 

Now go be a rampant truth-teller, little man. And say hi to the ‘rents for me, would you? 

xoxo,

A.V.

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Girl talk.

Hoover, it’s Valentine’s Day. 

Since you’re a whole 15 months old and still not reading (what’s up with that, bro?), I don’t know if you actually read the card I gave you this morning. 

Today’s lesson is easy: be nice to all the girls in your life, but be nicest to the ones you’re related to. ‘Cause, Puffbutt, the romantic ladies will come and go, but you’re super stuck with us.

Like even more stuck than those puffs and Cheerios constantly are to the seat of your pants. Which is saying something.

Happy Valentine’s Day, cutie.

xoxo,

A.V.

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On advice itself.

Hoover, you know I’m infallible, right?

I’ve realized that you’ve never asked for my credentials for giving you advice. I appreciate your blind trust but want to make sure you grow up a discerning young man. So for the sake of thoroughness, and to dismiss any potential naysayers who may one day happen upon these notes to you, I thought maybe I’d give you a quick sampling of a few important accomplishments in my life. 

—Heart Award, Hidden Valley 4-H Camp, Waktins Glen, New York (2000) [the 4-H motto: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living.”]

—Poet Laureate, Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, Nacogdoches, Texas (2003)

—undefeated cake eating contest champion, ADVANCE Program for Young Scholars, Natchitoches, Louisiana (2009-2011)

Since this last one is definitely the most impressive, I offer you photographic proof, taken after my first victory:image

(The contest measures speed, not volume, so the trick is just to be able to swallow a piece of cake without chewing. Also, that was the summer we were really into bandanas.)

I trust these things speak for themselves in terms of communicating that I am highly accomplished in many areas, and therefore obviously have the authority to advise others such as yourself on a breadth of topics.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to business. 

There’s this episode of The West Wing (I’m pretty sure I’ve promised you before that we’ll watch it all one day) that centers around the idea of “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet.” Bartlet’s the prez, and the idea is he does better work when he’s actually being true to his natural instincts instead of trying to do what he thinks people want. I don’t think anyone rational would argue with this concept. I’ve adopted this motto and when I find myself in conflict with people about what I’m supposed to be doing (with my day, my life, whatever), I say, “Let Herbert Be Herbert.”

And yet, even though the rational should understand this in theory, in practice they so often don’t. People can be such dumbs. 

The version of this mantra that is bandied about frequently in my apartment is “You do you.” (You’ll meet my friend Lauren one day, sometimes she is tortured/TREATED with endless pictures of you.) One of us will come home from something or get off a phone call and start complaining about people interfering with our lives and inevitably the conversation becomes, “I just wanna be like, ‘You do you, let me do me.’” 

It is very hard for some people to let other people (usually ones they care about) do what they want. It’s a protective thing, which, while well-intentioned, can be totally infuriating. 

Let’s take you for a sec, Puffbutt. Here are two of the reigning qualities of your personality:

1. Loves trucks.

2. Thumbs-middle-to-down on holidays. 

These are things we accept about you, we embrace them, because trying to get you to do anything other than what you want or be anyone other than who you are is never gonna end well for any of us. So personally, I love that our Christmas photo together looks like this:

Because it so captures who we both are. 

What I’m getting at here is neither deep nor particularly original, but it’s such an important thing I need you to understand. You do you, bro. Let Puffbutt be Puffbutt. We’ve established that I’m an infallible source of wisdom for you and obviously want you to follow all the advice I ever give, but if you’re like, “Look, Aunt Vera, I’m gonna listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving because I freakin’ feel like it” or “I hate birthday parties so stop telling me I need to be excited about having one,” I’m gonna have to suck it up.

Let’s make a pact right now. I will never try to run your life if you promise not to let anyone else run your life either. Look, if I show up for your 2nd birthday party and you’ve got track marks on your arm, I’m gonna break this pact because that’s a problem, but barring such a turn of events, I’m gonna trust you. You have such defined likes and dislikes, you so know what you want, I never want to make you miserable by getting in your way. Your gut is ever-growing; let’s both trust it. 

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and his book “The Winter of Our Discontent” contains one of my favorite lines ever: “You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.” Preach, dude. 

I’m not giving you free license to never listen to other people. That is certainly a recipe for failure and definitely your parents will not be happy with me for that. I’m saying listen to people — like really listen, don’t just pretend to while silently reciting the lyrics to 2Pac’s “Only God Can Judge Me” in your head — but if you know deep down inside your jelly little belly, even if you can’t express why, that what they’re telling will not work for you, then you say, “Thank you but my aunt says no thank you, take it up with her.” And I will sort them out for you. 

For now, you keep ignoring everything around you that isn’t truck-shaped as long as it makes you happy, even though the rest of us are like, “Dude, they have four wheels and they roll, WE GET IT.”

And I’ll keep competitively shoving my face into piles of cake when my best friends and I decide we have nothing better to do.

One love, little giant.

xoxo,

A.V.

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Remember, remember, the 14th of November.

Hoover, we have something important to talk about today.

IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY, DUDE.

While we all know nothing gives you more pleasure than refusing to express joy:

I want to impress upon you the importance of being excited about your birthday. Because here’s the thing. Aside from it being cool to celebrate that you exist, your birthday is the one time a year where you get to make EVERYTHING about you and nobody can judge you. I know you’re thinking that everything is always about you, but the unfortunate secret I have to fill you in on is that as you get older, that gets less and less true. Sometimes I’ll go, like, DAYS without being coddled. Cruel and unusual, right? Trust me, it’s THE WORST. But, nonetheless, I always look forward to the time of year when I age because, you know, it’s a personal holiday, what could be better? 

So, since you’ve never done the birthday thing before, aside from the day you were actually born, which I think was pretty traumatic and you probably don’t want to talk about, I thought I’d give you some pieces of birthday advice to get you through your very first birthday season. 

10 Birthday Rules:

1. Celebrate often. I believe in having at least two birthday parties to ensure that everyone you want around will be able to celebrate with you at least once. Bonus points to anyone who shows up to more than one event. 

2. Demand that the people you want to celebrate with you actually do. People are busy and lives are complicated and all that, but really, if there is one time when you get to hold the people you love to a higher standard, it’s your birthday. Am I right? Like, SORRY I LOVE YOU, MY FAVORITE PEOPLE, BUT MY BIRTHDAY PARTY WON’T BE THE SAME WITHOUT YOU THERE. I think it’s totally fair. You are fantastic at being demanding, so this shouldn’t be too hard.

3. Don’t celebrate before your birthday. Look, this one is probably controversial, but I just think having a birthday party before it’s actually your birthday is kind of like lying because you haven’t actually accomplished the task of aging yet. All things in their time, you know what I’m saying? 

4.  Always have a friend at the party who’ll hold you back when you get a little too wild. 

5. Ice cream cake, man. Trust me on this one. 

6. This one takes a bit of planning, but try to get a job where you can have your birthday off. There is nothing like not working on your birthday. (Alternatively, just commit to skipping work/school on your birthday — I mean, come on, you’ve earned the day to yourself.)

7. Spend some time on your birthday taking stock of what the last year of your life has been like. New Year’s in an arbitrary time to make resolutions, if you have goals or changes you want to make in your life, why wouldn’t you start at the new year of you? You don’t have to be like Lord Byron and write an intense poem like “On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year” about it, but, you know, just ruminate for a hot minute on what you want the next year of your life to be.

8. Maybe it’ll be this year, maybe it’ll be another year, at some point you’re gonna get birthday presents you’re not that into. Be excited anyway. Someone spent at least five minutes thinking of what to get you, and that’s five minutes they could have been trolling Twitter or solving world hunger. Respect that. 

9. And on that note, when it comes to presents, remember you’ve already got everything you need: 

10. Your birthday season’s only over when you say it’s over.

You with me on all this?

I’m feeling like it’s nap time (mine, not yours) so I’ll leave you here. See you at your party next week, my favorite 1-Year-Old. Study up on these rules until then!

xo,

Aunt Vera

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Issues: Every Body’s Got ‘Em!

Hoover, let’s talk about your bod.

You’re a big baby. I don’t mean that in a mean way, like you’re whiney and cry too much, I mean in actual size, you’re long and girthy. I think we all get a lot of conversation and comedy mileage out of the fact that you could probably pass for a baby twice your age. When we last hung out, you were 7 months old and the most adorable armful of a tiny giant:

The thing is though, I know one day it’s going to be inappropriate to constantly talk about you in terms of how much you weigh and what clothing size you’re wearing. One day I will not be able to joke about your baby muffin top and thunder thighs. Because one day, you’re gonna have body issues. 

If you ever meet someone who convincingly tells you they’ve never had body issues, grab a hold of their coattails because those lying skills are gonna take them to infinity and beyond (like maybe the White House or something). Too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too much hair, not enough hair, big hips, no hips, thighs, arms, feet, noses, teeth, any body part you have can be the wrong size or shape, and oh, will they be.  

But my advice to you today is about moving past whatever body issues you may develop. Not that you’ll be able to not have any, don’t be ridiculous, Hooves. I mean, there are ways to massage them for yourself to make them seem less big. The ones I can offer you are:

1. Turn Your Insides Out

They say it’s what’s on the inside that matters and I believe that. I don’t mean your feelings and if you’re a good person or not. I mean literally your internal organs. Does your body work the way it should? Mostly mine does. I have a little hole in my heart (I think all writers must) that they tell me is benign, and my left ear has an incurable case of In-Flight Radio Syndrome (others would call it a dysfunctional eustachian tube, but I think my name is more descriptive for something that makes my ear feel like it’s always in an airplane). As far as I know, those are pretty much the biggest actual body problems I’ve got right now, so maybe I should stop worrying about my stomach that will, let’s face it, never be flat. And your body works too, pretty well, in fact, I mean you’re already standing and walking and stuff, so really, it’s doing its job and we should be excited about that.

2. Nobody Likes Models Anyway

This one’s simple. Do you want to be the person that everyone is jealously trash-talking behind their back? No you don’t! You want to have a body of the people, you want thighs that are gonna put others at ease. Whatever body part you’re insecure about may be making other people feel better about themselves; your belly is a straight-up gift to humanity, and don’t you forget it.

3. You Have a Lot of Other Good Qualities

I work hard, I choose to see the good in people, and I know all the words to both Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and REM’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”. I think these are things that people care more about than the size of my upper arms. Your good qualities include your pensive nature, your appreciation of the finer things in life (like Raffi on repeat), and how much you clearly love being my best friend. As long as we continue to lead with these winning traits, we’ll be fine in life. 

4. You Have a Lot of Other Horrible Qualities

I’m terrible at responding to emails. I need constant attention or I start to worry nobody likes me. “Look Who’s Talking” has been one of my favorite movies since I was 6. These are issues that need fixing more immediately than any I have with my body. You, of course, are utterly perfect and have not a one horrible quality…some might say that you are occasionally grumpy, but they are just maligners and they shall get their comeuppance. I mean seriously, who would ever believe that this face could grump?

5. Remember That You’re an Idiot

98% of my body issues are 100% in my head. No one would care about my giant ribcage if I stopped talking about it. In fact, I’m pretty sure no one DOES care about it, even though I WON’T stop talking about it. So if/when you one day start to feel insecure about any part of your body, remember that you’re a big-big dum-dum. And if you’re not able to convince yourself you’re being an idiot, call me up and I’ll knock some sense into your cute skull. Deal?

Alright, Herbert Junior, that’s all for now. I hope you find this list helpful. I love you more than anything and I’ll see you tonight! You better still be awake and ready to party hardy when my plane lands.

xo,

Aunt Vera 

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Don’t wait until your wedding day.

Hoover, it’s Father’s Day this weekend. I’m going to assume you can figure out from the name what Father’s Day is — I mean, you’re pretty brawny at this point, but I think you’ve got some brains too. Your first Father’s Day will be fun, you’re going to spend it in a car with your dad, mom, Uncle Ian, and dogs on the way to a rented house where we’re doing a family vacation next week. I’ll be joining you guys on Tuesday, so you have some mad snuggles and iPhone selfies to look forward to, kid.  

Anyway, you and your dad were pretty cute together when I saw you a few weeks ago, even though you made it clear to him in no uncertain terms that you are not a fan of avocado.

 

But today, I want to tell you a story about me and mine. 

I was 16 or 17 and alone at home with Dad. I couldn’t tell you if there was music playing, but I have to imagine there was, through the speaker system my dad had gotten your dad to set up in the house. We were standing in the kitchen, by the sink, completely ordinarily. I’m sure I was in an emo band t-shirt, he was probably in either black jeans (Lee 32/34) or “loungewear” (his word to feel classy while day-wearing pajamas), our respective staples. And as we talked about nothing consequential — I actually have a vague feeling that maybe we weren’t even talking, maybe we were just passing each other by — he took hold of me and started to dance.

This wasn’t a movie musical moment, there wasn’t polish or grace, it was just a hug that swayed and spun in a circle a little. But I was 16 or 17, and incredibly awkward with shows of affection, and didn’t know why this was happening, but certainly knew I wanted it to end. I resisted, tried to pull away, and I think he held on tighter for a moment, and I struggled more, and he let me go. 

This is pretty indicative of who we were then. 

As I got my space back, he said, “Don’t wait until your wedding day.” For what, I asked. To dance with your father, he said. You might be disappointed. I don’t dance in public. Then he walked into the living room, and I wondered if he was serious, and maybe a little bit if I had hurt his feelings, and was he really not going to dance with me when I got married?

He won’t, Chubs. Within a year or two of that odd moment on the kitchen’s yellow linoleum, I was tripping as I stepped down from the pulpit where I gave his eulogy, still lacking polish, grace, and now a father to dance with me on my wedding day. 

So this is one of the most important pieces of advice I will ever give you. Right now I need you to sit up, take whatever toy you’re gnawing on out of your mouth, stop thinking about boobs for a minute, and listen to me. 

Love your parents, let them be dorks, and let them love you. This is going to be one of the toughest tasks you’ll ever embark on, especially when you’re a teenager. But life is made of little unimportant moments, ones you don’t take photos of, ones that don’t have crowds, ones you’ll mostly forget. Don’t wait for the big ones — the wedding days — to be your parents’ kid.

Let this—

—be okay whenever, forever. 

I know that you’re rolling your adorable little eyes right now. I get it, I do. You think your parents are cheesy, and you think I’m cheesy, and you don’t understand why I would be encouraging you to let your dad keep calling you Sweetheart in public for as many years as he wants. (I don’t think you have to worry that he’s still going to do it once you’ve like, hit puberty, but you never know, dude.) But luckily for me, you can barely make coherent sounds right now, let alone words, so I get to keep talking and you don’t get to argue.  

All I’m trying to say is that in whatever way your parents ever try to be sweet or affectionate or show how much they dig you, let them. Because as embarrassing or uncomfortable as it may make you, if one day they couldn’t do it, you’d miss it. Trust me. 

So if your mom — or dad, for that matter — ever wants to dance with you in the kitchen, you’ll get in the most trouble of your life with me if I find out you passed the offer up. 

That’s all for now. I’ll see you in a couple days, my dear babyface.

xo,

Aunt Vera

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The Blink List

Hoover, you probably can’t help but notice that I haven’t given you any advice in quite a long time. I apologize that I’ve been otherwise engaged. You may remember that a couple months ago I told you we were going to shoot my pilot. (You may not, you don’t even have object permanence yet, let alone a long-term memory.) I moved to Canada and lived in a hotel for a while and it was actually nothing like Home Alone 2. We wrapped, I came back to LA, kept working on it for another month, etc, you can see how there was a lot going on for me and it was hard to get my act together to write to you. But I don’t want you to think you weren’t constantly on my mind—I named a fictional town and high school after you. You’re practically famous.

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(Please don’t judge me for the bulk level in this photo, I’m wearing four or five layers. Vancouver is cold, dude. Also, does it confuse you that your name is Owen but I still call you Hoover? Whatever, get over it.)

So, Blink. Buddy boy, we didn’t go to series. Maybe it’s for the best, your parents won’t let you watch TV until you’re 2 (I know, THE INHUMANITY) and it would have really bummed me out if I were making a show and you couldn’t watch it, since you have very strong opinions about everything and I would have wanted to know your thoughts every week.

Blink lasted for 102 days from pickup to deathbed. I’m not sad it’s over — I mean sure, I wish I were still on the ride, but I’m still more happy than sad about the whole thing — happy we made the pilot we wanted to make, happy I got to see the stuff inside my head show up outside my head, happy enough people believed in this project that we got to do it at all. I hope at some point you have 102 days of work that are as rad as these were. 

I’ll be telling you lots of stories about Blink in due time. It might become a thing throughout your whole life, like, oh God, Aunt Vera’s talking about that time they auditioned fire-breathers for the carnival AGAIN. Although seriously, we are never going to stop talking about how cool this day was:

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But for now, I have some advice to offer you based on those 102 days. I’ve given it a lot of thought over the past two weeks and compiled my gleanings into a top 10 list that I think’ll be useful in all aspects of your life, not just your future career as my writing partner. So soak them up, tiny giant. You ready?

  1. Surround yourself with good people. Collect them. Do not let them go.
  2. Remember that relationships are more important than success (see #1).
  3. If you feel like the dumbest person in the room, you’re in a good place.
  4. Even if you know you’ll lose, fight the battles that deserve to be fought. You will win respect.
  5. If you have to make a decision that will affect other people, make it excruciatingly carefully.
  6. Always have someone who will keep you grounded and gently remind you when you’re stepping outside of yourself (I’ll be this person if you need me to be).
  7. Other things will disappoint you; don’t disappoint yourself.
  8. Don’t wallow. It’s unbecoming.
  9. Record everything. It’ll make it easier to be sentimental later. 
  10. Most importantly: never let them take your idealism — remember that jaded people are the saddest, because they never hoped to be happy anyway.

You got all that?

This is probably a lot for you to think about, my dear baby beluga. Take your time, give it all some noodling. Let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, I’ll start coming up with ideas for my next project. And I promise that next time around, I’ll get you a souvenir that fits a little better. Sound good?

xo,

AV

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Hoover, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

Oh, you’re demanding a piece of advice?

Okay, fine, here it is: pay attention to things that people tell you about themselves. It will make it easier to be sweet and thoughtful when occasion calls for it.

xo,

AV

2 notes

Glow, baby, glow.

Hoover, I don’t even know where to begin.

No, really. I’ve been working on what to say to you for days. I wrote half a post to you a few days ago and I had to delete it because it didn’t do justice to any of my feelings. I’m feeling so many feelings and they’re all good, every single one of them, and I just don’t know what to do with that.

I’ve been listening to music I was into in high school. Like the Nine Days album “The Madding Crowd” and SR-71’s “Now You See Inside.” Actually those both came out before I was in high school but I didn’t get into them until then, whatever, this information is unimportant. What I’m saying is that I’m listening to music from high school because I feel like I did senior year. Senior year of high school had this sense of infinity. There was a feeling that anything was possible. And everyone was close and everyone was hopeful and there was this overwhelming, bursting feeling that the world could be perfect, that we could make it so.

I feel just like that right now, my darling tiny giant.

Do you remember the time you were helping me write Blink? I was working on the scene where Ari and Dodge bicker about Rachel and you thought Dodge should win the argument by just vomiting all over Ari because that’s how you win things, and I told you that I heard your note, I just wasn’t sure it was the way the scene should end. Ringing a bell? 

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Well, little man, the CW picked up our pilot last week, and no, I can’t believe it either. It’s bananapants, dude. You’re not supposed to have your crazy reach dreams happen, not when you’re 23 anyway, because you’re still young and naive enough to believe this means the world could be perfect, and that would blow the world’s tough guy cover. But, kid, getting to bring these characters and this story to life was my crazy reach dream. It’s been my crazy reach dream for almost two years, when I had the idea for the show after I read an article about brain injuries and vegetative states and how rarely, but sometimes, people just come out of them, and science can’t always explain why. There was a time when I wanted to drop out of film school to study neuroscience; I’m pretty sure this is better.

Because, Drools, we’re making my pilot and I’m living the dream. I feel like I’ve somehow hoodwinked life into showing me what it can do. And it’s pretty rad, kid. That’s why today, right now, I feel like anything is possible, and the world could be perfect, we could make it so. 

You’re waiting for me to stop talking about myself and give you your piece of advice already, aren’t you? COOL YOUR JETS, BRO. This one’s a long play. 

You get that I’m saying I’ve never been happier than I am right now. But the truth is, the story for Blink came out of the darkest, most broken part of me. This story’s about a girl who misses her dad, who’s still her best friend even though he’s in a coma, and all she wants in the world is for him to wake up and come back to her. And what she doesn’t know, but we do, is that he’s still in there, he’s alive and he loves her and he’s as desperate as she is that he open his eyes. But most importantly, we know, or at least we hope, that one day she’ll get her dad back.

I will never get my dad back. If I could I would give up everything, this dream life I’ve just described to you, and go back to July 6, 2007, sometime in the early afternoon, and this time things would go differently and I would still have my dad. And maybe I would never move to LA, maybe I would never make it as a writer, maybe I’d have to marry rich to support myself (his worst fear for me), maybe I’d disappoint him (my worst fear for me), but it wouldn’t matter because when I rewatched a Katharine Hepburn movie that he and I once watched together, I could call him and talk about it, and that would mean my life was whole.

Now you’re confused, because I told you at the beginning of this post that all the feelings I am feeling were good ones and this doesn’t sound like a good one, am I right?

Chubs, I want to talk to you about glow sticks. I know you know what they are because I made sure we had them to get wild on your first New Year’s Eve.  

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Do you know how you get glow sticks to glow? You break them. You break them and then they glow where they’ve been broken.

Hoover, there will be things in your life that break you. If I could, I would swaddle you so tightly in bubble wrap that nothing could ever get to you, I mean I’d outdo your dad as the swaddling champ because I’d wrap the invisible parts of you too, your heart and your mind and your spirit, you’d be so safe in this monstrous amount of bubbling that I could drop you out of a plane and you would be FINE. (I would never drop you out of a plane.) But there isn’t enough bubble wrap in the world for that, and so we just have to calmly accept that at some point in your life, there will be some breaks. 

But what I want you to know is that you don’t have to stay all dark and emo forever about things that happen to you. You can make your breaks glow. I have made it my job, literally, to write stories about how I feel about my dad, to remember things that he and I did, to get to talk about him to everyone I meet. I can’t have my dad back, but I can share pieces of him, versions of him, with the world. And that makes me very, very happy. And even though I haven’t had my dad for five and a half years, the connection I feel to him is still so strong that it inspires me to write and makes it possible for me to live the dream. 

And I know that would make him very, very happy. 

Which is why I can tell you that I am feeling so many feelings right now, and all of them are good.

I know that despite my most manipulative attempts (you ain’t seen nothing yet, kid), you might not grow up to be a writer. I might not even get my way and get you in the arts at all, for all I know you’re going to be a gym teacher or an astronaut. But no matter what you do or who you become, I want you to know that you have the ability to turn pain into strength and despair into inspiration. It won’t necessarily seem like it, when the time for it comes, but should life ever be foolish enough to try to break you, I need you to understand that you can glow.

Throw up a little right now if you understand. I’ll wait.

Okay, so: I know your attention span is like a third as long as this post, if I’m rounding up, but I want one final moment of your time. I’d like you to take a moment — armed with this glow talk and all the other things I’ve told you here — to bask naively with me in the impossible and wonderful notion that the world could be perfect, that we could make it so.

Sounds pretty great, right?

Now get thee and thy baby muffin top to the West Coast to join this Blink production team, okay? We have snacks that are even better than breast milk, I promise.

xo,

Aunt Vera

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On the shoulders of giants.

Hoover, I’ve wanted to write this post for almost a month, but my self-absorption and laziness and cookie-consumption have been at an all time high recently, so you can see how it got pushed aside for a while. 

But I’m here now, and that’s what counts.

Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (Google tells me that metaphor’s been around since way before him, but let’s make this easy on ourselves, cool?) What this shoulders of giants business is all about is acknowledging that whatever you may accomplish, you’ve done it by building on what others have done before you. So anything you do, you haven’t done it alone.

That’s the advice I have for you today, Hooves. To always remember that whatever you’re going to do in your life, you’re not going to do it alone. I don’t mean this in a “you’re never gonna be alone because we’re always gonna be around for you” kind of way, although that’s certainly true. I mean it in a “give credit where credit is due” kind of way. Recognize that for every feat you accomplish, there are people who have helped get you there. People have given you time, advice, encouragement, money, pink champagne to loosen you up or vats of coffee to keep you going, whatever it might be, other people have helped you. 

So never be cocky enough to think that you’re solely responsible for your achievements. I swear to you, you’re not. And whether you one day win a Nobel Prize in Physics or Employee of the Month at Wendy’s, be grateful to your giants. 

I’m going to divert from Mr. Newton’s presumable intent with this quote now, because to me the scope here is way broader than professional or personal success. I’m thinking wider, bigger than being the first baby to have a TV show on the air (my goal for you next development season; I think we could co-create and star in a dramedy called “Vommy & Me,” you in?). I want you to always keep in mind the shoulders of the giants your very existence is resting on.

You never met your Polish great-grandfather, me and your dad’s grandfather on our mom’s side. His name was Marian Nykiel. You were his first great grandchild. He died last month, a few weeks after you were born. Your blond hair and blue eyes? You got those from him. 

I know you don’t believe me, you’re all, “Whatever, I grew this hair and these eyeballs in my own personal sac of baby juice, thank you very much.” But listen, talk to my buddy Gregor Mendel and get back to me. Blue-eyed blonds don’t come from Herbert genes or Bonnoit genes. They come from Nykiel genes. You got them from your dad who got them from our mom who got them from her dad.

So this man:

Is why you look the way you do. Remember that. Respect that. You don’t have the Nykiel name, but if your parents ever let you grow your hair out like a rockstar/surfer/unregistered voter, it’ll be falling on Nykiel shoulders.

The reason I’m writing all this now is that we lost another one of our giants last night, your great-grandmother on our dad’s side. You won’t remember this, but you met her a few weeks ago on her 91st birthday. Here’s what it looked like the moment you were handed to her:

Pretty sweet, huh? She once offered me some Vicodin she had lying around and an extra rosary she had lying around in the same sitting. A good woman, that Frances Herbert. She built an empire of a family — a Franarchy, if you will (don’t give me that judgey face, Vommy) — and you’re the most recent addition to it. She recently gave you money to start your college fund. So when you’re beer ponging in a dorm in 18 years, I want you to remember that she’s one of the many people who contributed to the Miller High Life running down your chin. You got that?

I know you think this post is already too long. Whatever, bro, you can’t even read. But regardless, in summation, Sergeant Droolface, remember the unsung heroes. Remember the giants. Be grateful and be gracious. Whether its your dashing good looks or your first Black List script (an “inspired by true events” tale about the time you were 5 and your aunt kidnapped you to Vegas for a weekend — be excited), you’re not going anywhere in life alone.

And I hope you find that as inspiring as I do.

xo,

Your uncommonly earnest Aunt Vera