Excerpt 2: The Last Travels of Sir Michael Zazu

Another slice off the narrative roast:


Yak at Ledar” by TravelWayOfLife is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Thank you Jesus, the hard-working nomads of Engywha uryot’ha, and the sacrifice of one spit-roasted yak. The nomads had done some construction in the center of town, rearranging the tents and tables to accommodate most of the village. Like lines of ants summoned to the hill, we all traced through the sands to the tent cluster, eager to pounce on this festivity. Had to admire their modular prowess, puffing up the “rooftop” and seamlessly linking their tents. They must have given their interior decorators some purpose, evidenced by the descendent aubergine fabrics, torch illuminated, resplendent ceiling accouterment.

We gathered around low tables, not much more than darkened sheets of wood upon brick. Not much used, easy to stow and re-use. Can’t just peel off the yak and eat it on the spot. Could still smell it lurking in the air, the aromas having come to rest in our new hall. I try my best to immerse myself when given the chance, but I didn’t try that hard here. Found Clean and other fast friends in a matter of moments. I bowed out of courtesy, ready to capitalize on desires long accumulating in interest here.

“You looking quite happy, Sir Michael,” noted Clean.

“Looking forward to the feast you all put on. Great timing for my arrival, right?”

“Quite,” he added. “They’re serving.”

I snapped my gaze toward whatever activity began at a nearby table. Two husky nomads set down a heavy red chest on a table. Kids, being kids and all, squeezed in through the cracks, barging in between the seated adults. You’d think they wouldn’t take to grown-up food. Prayed within that they honored guests, travel writers, and elders first. In that order.

“What’s in the box?”

Continue reading “Excerpt 2: The Last Travels of Sir Michael Zazu”


How to React to Unsolicited Parenting Advice (Without Exploding!)

In my previous post, I discussed people giving parenting advice. But those lessons aren’t learned overnight.

In the meantime, you might have to endure such gems as:

“Only ten pounds at four weeks? You should start feeding her cereal.”

“I don’t see what all the fuss is about — if your newborn can sleep at night on his stomach, let him!”

“Back in my day, [insert any comment whatsoever here].”

“But where am I supposed to find castor oil?”

If I had a nickel for each time I heard things like that, I’d have a lot of nickels. But since that’s not how any of this works, here are some helpful ways to cope with unsolicited parenting advice:

Continue reading “How to React to Unsolicited Parenting Advice (Without Exploding!)”

The Only Two Things You Need to Know About Giving Parenting Advice

As I was gearing up for fatherhood, my friend Josh (who blogs over at The True Chew) warned me about two things:

You’re going to get tons of parenting advice,” and “You’re gonna hate it.”

Wait, what? Hate parenting advice? At first I laughed, figuring “it’s just part of the experience; I’m glad people want to help.”

But no. I was quite wrong. It’s like sand. Sand is great in its own time and place. Great for beaches. Great for sandboxes. But not for gas tanks. Not for diapers.

In light of the above, there are only two things you need to know about giving parenting advice to others:


“You put SAND in my diaper?”


  • Give unsolicited parenting advice


  • Not give unsolicited parenting advice

Easy, eh? The key word is unsolicited, or in layman’s terms: “My child’s cry is not your invitation to offer advice.” If they can repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” then they should do the same to “Didn’t Ask? Do Tell!”

I know, you may have the experience, the fatherly/motherly wisdom, the history of mistake-making that you don’t want to see people repeat, etc., but set those aside for one moment and hear me out: You may mean well, but it’s far better to do well.

Here are two ways how:

1. Give solicited advice

Parenting is a journey. For me, I reserve the right to make dumb mistakes and grow along the way. I’m still learning when to persevere and when to pause and ask for help. Lemme get my learnin’ on, k?

2. Give some space

What a great favor to do for parents in taking “entertain/prep for company/be presentable” off their plate. No effort required. There’s a time and place for company too (of course!), but trust me, if you’re letting me have time and space, you’re giving me a gift that money cannot buy.

Thanks in advance. Really.

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