Dear Js,

I pretend to be strong on the outside. But I get scared too.

I’ve been thumping my chest, psyching myself to open Secret Campfire and start luring people to it. I have some low quality traffic comprised of distracted people. My plan is to place a direct-response-style lead-generation one-liner ad to try to skim off the valuable people from the trash. Something like, “Do you love reading, writing and role-playing? Come hang out at ____ when you’re done wanking.” More or less. It’s going to be like a Valpak deal where the audience is weak, but because it’s cheap and has high circulation, even if the responses are poor the math could work.

As I’m overcoming my fear, what makes it hard is you guys don’t care. Daddy this, daddy that. Read this, cry about that. I don’t want to do this, I want that. Why why why why why why why? Each time I pump myself up, you drain my energy. Then fear and doubt sack me back down. I do this every day. Each day I make some progress, polishing up some widget or other to prepare to receive visitors. But it’s hard to do creative work when someone keeps slapping your face with a fish.

I feel very alone. But that’s okay. It’s time to fail. It’s easy to fall in love with your idea too much. True, you need to fall in love with your idea enough to bring it to life. But like relationships that turn abusive, the trouble happens when you start to think you own what you love.

So it’s time to fail. Time to make mistakes. Time to learn. I’ve held on to this long enough.

One of the things that warps my perception is that one of the reason it took this long is because I had to work slow. If I didn’t have you guys, I could have hacked it together in weeks or months. But I only get one or two good hours each day after you go to sleep. So this has drawn out a year or two.

So I can’t tell if this has taken too long, or if this is as long as it needed to take. But anyway, it’s time to fail. The feeling inside me is that I’ve grappled with this idea alone for too long. Now it’s time to release it into the wild. And it hurts because People Are Animals. One day I’m optimistic that there are beautiful people who will believe in my idea as much as I do. But the next day I envision them pissing on it and vandalizing it. Because People Are Animals. I think the best case is if they don’t care.

But I’ll never know until I try. Time to fail. Just gotta do it. It feels sucky but this will finally release me.

“Kaz”, creator of Gran Turismo, described this feeling in this documentary:

There were incredibly long lines. I just watched in disbelief as people bought our game. I think at that time, rather than feeling accomplishment, there was no room left for feeling accomplishment. We were happy but we just couldn’t believe it. Because we worked on the first Gran Turismo for a very long time, it really felt like the game belonged to the team. We held on to it and held on to it, and nurtured it until the last possible moment when we released it to the world. That’s when the Gran Turismo that was our very own suddenly wasn’t just ours anymore. I remember that moment very clearly. It was like we’d caught some fever we couldn’t get over. We were so focused. We didn’t have a sense that we were missing out or losing out while in that fever. Making something good and achieving our goals, that was the only thing in our minds. That’s really all we thought about.

I think anyone who makes things gets attached. You make it for you, and that gives its own kind of pleasure. But even if you know you’re designing it to be sold, or to be shared with others, it’s still hard to let go. This is the IKEA effect. You prize the things you make yourself. And they can be as perfect as you want them to be. Because, if you keep it a secret, no one can tell you otherwise. Maybe it’s a little like having sex with someone you’re too embarrassed to tell your family and friends about. You love it, but you aren’t willing to defend it in public.

So I think this is what kills art more than anything else. Selfish love. Fear of judgment. If an artist doesn’t get over this fear, the art cannot grow any further.

I don’t have any tips. I’ve been procrastinating. I try to keep moving, but end up tinkering with something unimportant. I try to psyche myself up with proverbs like, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” Or ,”Realize that anything you do is the worst it will ever be. So get over it.”

Time to fail. Time to suck. Time to fail. That’s the only way to get better.

I’m almost done whining. I’m ready for the next step. I kinda want to see what happens next. Aren’t you curious too?

Go ahead. Give yourself permission to fail.

Broken nose? Oh man. I was minding my own business at work when mama called. I couldn’t understand a single word. I shouted, “Joshua WHAT?” Mama had you on her shoulder and you were screaming into the phone. The screaming turned to silence, then feedback, then beep boop static. “What?” “Nose broken- WAAAAAAAAAAAA- Taking him to the doct-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” “Which one? I’ll be right there.”

I pictured my beautiful boy with a crooked nose. We’ve done a good job so far, kept everything in one piece. But now my boy has a broken nose. I told myself it was okay. We can fix it. How did it break? It’s not like any of us have big noses in this family. Even if we can’t fix it, it’ll be okay. Owen Wilson seems to do okay for an actor with a which-way nose. But ah- if only we were more careful. If I were there maybe this wouldn’t have happened. All these thoughts ran through my head as I sped to doctor. Everyone was driving way too slow.

I burst into the clinic. “I’m the dad.” The nurses showed me to you. “We know.” You were sitting, quiet. I hugged you and looked at you and you looked at me through the corner of your eyes. You nose didn’t look broken. Was mama just over-reacting again? This time I hoped so. I saw a swollen nose with crusty blood under it. I saw a new scratch on your left knee and wondered how you got that too. Mama pointed to the corner, “Auntie J is here too.” What? Why is she here? She had a guilty look so she might have been involved. I climbed onto the examination table and sat you on my lap. You still looked like you weren’t sure what to think. But you weren’t crying and you seemed calm.

There was a lot of light shining and looking and some pressing and more looking. Looked okay so far. Jules you cried every time the doctor did something near your brother’s face. She tried to clean your nose for a better look but you didn’t like her touching it. After more looking, we were fairly sure it wasn’t broken. I said, “It looks okay from the outside.” I asked mama, “How did it happen?” I wanted to imagine what hit where how and how likely it would be for something to break.

So it started with a park bench. You gave Auntie J that cheeky look you give before you do something you’re not supposed to do. You were probably trying to impress her. Mama was nursing Julie. You tried to jump but your legs got tangled. You fell on your knees and collapsed onto your face. Mama thought no big deal. He’s fallen before. So she sent Auntie J to pick you up. She lifted you up and you sprayed a waterfall of blood as you came up. Mama dropped Julie and ran. That freaked all the moms at the park out. Mama thought she left everything at the park, but while she was rushing you two to the car, everyone else helped pick up your things. There was blood everywhere.

Anyway, after finally learning how it happened, I was relieved. I looked at your face to match the story. Your left cheek was scraped and your left brow was red. That meant you landed on your knees and splatted onto the side of your body and onto your face. Awesome. That meant most of the force was dissipated and your face ate one that saved your nose. Doctor asked, “Can you walk? Can you jump?” You were in good spirits again. Nose OK, brain OK. You’ll be sore but you’re OK. On the way to the car, you fell again because you tried to walk with one leg. Mama screamed. I knew what she was thinking but you didn’t fall on your face that time. You were tired.

I went back to work. You refused to nap. You finally passed out at 6pm, before sunset, before dinner and bath and 3 hours before your usual bedtime. We tried to wake you up twice but you went back to sleep each time. Finally mama tested you to be sure, “Wake up, we’re having ice cream and cupcakes for dinner.” No response. We let you sleep and you slept through the night.

"I was trying to fly"

“I was just trying to fly”

Street Salesman Joe Ades. I stumbled upon this clip. Check out his 5-minute pitch. I love watching a salesman deliver a presentation he’s honed after a lifetime of selling. Every word he says is deliberate. I’m sure by now he can deliver every pitch exactly the same. Look at how he collects money and settles the change without skipping a beat. Smooth.

More about his life:

I wonder how he missed the infomercial wave. With his perfect pitch, all they had to do was put him in front of a camera for one take. Just like what they did for the Ginsu knife pitchman. Instead of collecting $5-$25 from 10 people every 5 minutes, he could have collected from millions for years, from just one recorded pitch.

Close to home. Abu knows you like books so she sent you some bookmarks. You examined one and your sister ate another. I said you could put it in a book like this, with Stegosaurus peeking out. You said, “No. Amargasaurus.” Okay. Looks like a Stegosaurus to me. And that’s a Triceratops. You frowned. “That could be a Styracosaurus because it has horns coming out of his head.” I squinted. They were just fuzzy stickers that weren’t meant to be anatomically correct.

Julie made peepee in the potty. You sat, she saw you and she sat too. When she got up mama squealed and Julie clapped. You did good too. After some thinking, your Poolosophy was, “I just let it go. I didn’t hold it.”

We don’t take Kimi for evening walks anymore. Anytime she gets used to a routine, she starts looking forward to it. And because she’s designed to cheat any chance she gets, she tries to get us to get to our routine sooner. E..g, we used to walk her every evening. So every evening, she would whine as we got ready to go out. As time went by, she started whining as soon as I got home. Then she would just whine all day, thinking that she can take time out of the equation and just whine to bully us to take her out. It got annoying and I had enough. I decided to destroy her routine so she can never expect when it was time to go out. Only thing she could expect was that I took her out when I decided to. I did this by going the the park or for our evening walks without her. She didn’t like this at first, but after a while she stopped trying. It’s much better now. No more whining from our stupid sneaky cheater dog. I just take her out at some random time after we get home from the park.

Un beso. Jules you now give wet sloppy kisses. You open your mouth and smash your face onto our cheeks when mama asks.

Interesting developements Mama was doing the dishes when she heard, “Mama, I wrote my name.” She didn’t really think so. “Really?” “Now I’m going to write Julie’s name.” She dried her hands and went to check. I got a call and she said, “Guess what your boy did. I couldn’t take a picture because it was really light. But he did it.”

The next day, I caught it on camera. You said, “I want to write.” Do you want to write your name? “I want to write Microraptor.” (It was because we stopped reading at that page of your dinosaur book.” I said err… OK. I thought of something we could try. Instead of spelling it out for you, I wanted to show you how you could figure it out on your own. I said, “See this word here? M-I-CRO-R-R-RAPTOR. That’s Microraptor. You can follow the letters.” We have been practicing to read out the letters. Especially if I see words in all caps or words that repeat throughout the book. Usually nouns, names, or exciting words. So we had something we could build on for your writing:

You’re arithmeticing too In the car you said, “TWO plus TWO is… THREE!” I said, Are you sure? T-Rex has two fingers on his left hand and two fingers on his right hand. (I saw you fumble to make T-Rex claws) So, two plus two is… “FOUR!” What’s five plus five? “SIX!” You have five fingers on your left hand and five fingers on your right hand. “One two three four five six seven eight nine ten Eleven!” I said, Try counting your fingers. “TEN!” Yes.

Later that day, mama said, “He said ‘TEN plus TEN is TWENTY!'” I said I didn’t teach him that. We stopped at 5+5=10. And I explained that I showed you how to figure out the answer by counting your fingers. I don’t know how you counted to twenty. Or if you counted it in your head. Or if you didn’t count at all…

Bing Bing Bing Bing!

This will be your "school" in a few weeks.

This will be your “school” in a few weeks.

We got the letter on Saturday that said, “Please submit your application and payment by Friday.” Mama showed up 1st thing Monday at 8.15am. We weren’t sure how strict they were going to be or if they had given our spot to someone else. But we were going to get you in no matter what. It’s the only preschool that knows what it’s doing. She popped in right after they unlocked the door and turned on the lights. The enrollment lady remembered mama, you, and Abu (who introduced herself as a Psychology professor.) It turned out that they were laid back. We were in, she was happy to see mama again and said just bring in the vaccination records whenever. Mama said, “I’ll get them to you tomorrow. I work with my pediatrician. They refer breastfeeding cases to me.” Another lady at the office popped up from cube to say, “We love lactation consultants!” Usually, it takes a couple of days, but the pediatrician’s office gave us VIP treatment. The nurse who answered the phone said, “No problem!” She called back to tell mama it was ready a few hours later.

Anyway, after rushing to Bing, she rushed to her group with you J2. There were 2 mamas. Then your school called to say a water pipe burst. Mama picked you up early. You two didn’t nap. Then, I came home to cover for mama while she visited a few days’ old baby who hadn’t eaten anything. His mom called crying in the morning. Mama had her mom hand express colostrum into a spoon, try boob a little, then finally supplemented with formula as a last option, because the baby hadn’t had a wet diaper in days. Then the mama called later to say “You’re my hero. I told all the moms in my group about you.” Baby had first diaper in days. Mama was really upset with the dad/husband though. She said for the first time she felt like drop-kicking the dad. He wasn’t supportive at all. Instead, he got annoyed at the crying baby (who hadn’t eaten in days), “Why are you crying? Why can’t you be a good baby?” Mama saw the mom’s face turn red and saw her start shallow-breathing. I asked, “Did you get some alone time with mom?” “Yes, I took care of it.” Without someone like Mama, that mom would have felt all alone while she tried to do what she thought was best for her baby with no one to support her.

The next week, for the first time, her group was filled with former clients. Every mom she saw the week before showed up. We now have stacks of checks all over the house. I keep reminding mama to deposit them. Mama’s not just our hero. Because of what she does now, sometimes she’s also a hero to many other families in our community.

When we told another mom at your school that you got into Bing she was happy for us but jealous. Her twins didn’t get in, and she put them on the waitlist as early as they let her (while she was pregnant). We gave your school our 1-month notice that we’re leaving. I think you’re going to love your new school.

This week in pictures

After Gilroy Gardens last Saturday, I had you two while mama went to work. You didn’t nap as long as I hoped. And Julie you were awake the whole time. So when you woke up, and mama wasn’t home yet, I was dying. I closed my eyes for a bit and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was happy to see that no one was hurt. Instead, I was surprised. You two were sitting next to each other. Your backs were to me and you were playing together.

Monkeys jumping on the bed

“Where’s my brother?”

Learning how to reverse

Rolling ball

Bubbles at the park

Hula hooping

Starting to read letters as words, decoding books silently

Best pillow in the world

Best pillow in the world

Getting long. Napping after an eventful day

Getting long. Napping after an eventful day

Strawberries at Gilroy Garden

Strawberries at Gilroy Garden. It was a surprise to celebrate Julie’s birthday. We didn’t tell you where you were going. When we got there, you remembered the rides but you didn’ t know what the name of the place was. You just said things like “I want to ride the car next. I think there are cars next.” Then at the balloons, you turned to me and said, “Gilroy Gardens!”

Horsie carousel

Horsie carousel

"I want to ride more things that move"

“I want to ride more things that move”

We were pooped. This was our last ride because it had no line and it was naptime

We were pooped. This was our last ride because it had no line and it was naptime



Tiny house

Tiny house

Big hat on small head

Big hat on small head

You found the same page in different books

You found the same page in different books

This one is Criss Cross and that one is Apple Sauce

This one is Criss Cross and that one is Apple Sauce



P.S. Today in history, Falcon 9 take off and landing test was a success:

P.P.S. Look who’s walking…