Cherry Blossoms for Tolerance

Last week we talked about antisemitism, hate and intolerance, and this week Boston suffered a brutal terrorist attack, an act of hate. Then we witnessed the fallout online with the autotweet debates, which took some pretty uncivil turns. Today, let’s focus on beauty and positive action.

Every year I make the journey down to the tidal basin to visually record the brief yet stunning presence of the cherry tree blossoms. These are some of my more popular photos when I share them, usually marking the arrival of Spring

This year not one, but two of my photos are featured in Yahoo’s 2013 Cherry Blossoms Galore photo set. You can see all of my 2013 shots here.

Today, you will find a collection of 10 of my cherry blossom photos from the past five years as curated by Jess Ostroff. Please enjoy their simple beauty.

If you want to go further and take action against hate, I’ve installed the Cafepress PressIt plugin, which allows you to scroll over any of these images, click on the “PressIt” button, and buy something with your preferred cherry blossom image. I receive 10% of the sale, and will donate all of my proceeds to the Anti-Defamation League, which per my antisemitism post, is a cause that fights racial intolerance, and was started by my great grand uncle Sigmund Livingston. To further incentivize you to make a purchase for tolerance today, I will match up to $1000 in proceeds.
Continue reading “Cherry Blossoms for Tolerance”

To Be a Dad

In Utero - Introducing the Super Peanut (The Next Livingston)

Words cannot convey the giddy delight that overcomes the soul when you find out that you will soon become a father. You find yourself wanting to sing it to the world, skip down mountains, and watch spring blossoms unfold themselves in the early am light, awed by nature’s amazing ability to regenerate every year. What a precious feeling.

For me, it was a dream come true — one I had began to doubt would ever come to pass, especially given Caitlin and I are in our latter thirties. Getting pregnant was not easy for us. But in the end, it happened.

I remember when Caitlin let me know the metaphorical game was afoot. We were driving home from Dulles airport in early March, I had picked her up after a three week assignment in Albania. She said to me in the car ride home, “We should pick up a pregnancy test on the way home.”

Something went click in my head, “She’s pregnant!” The tests that weekend confirmed it. The DC blizzards of 2010 had been very productive indeed!

Snowmageddon Night II 7 p.m. - After the Dig

But then the hard part began, which was keeping quiet until it was safe and Caitlin’s employer was in the know. In reality, we weren’t very good about this, more of a slow leak from immediate friends and family to more casual friends, and finally on Friday everyone was clued-in.

I feel unleashed! Finally, to be able to write about this most important life-changing experience. Ah. :)

My friends, we still have a long way to go. Six months, in fact. Nothing is certain, and I know this. But right now I feel so blessed and grateful. To be a Dad! Wow! And to celebrate Mother’s Day with Caitlin as mother-to-be, well, that will be special.

I know that many of my readers are parents. What was it like for you when you found out you were pregnant or had successfully adopted the first time?

The El Show Episode 24: Finding Happiness

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Episode 24 of the El Show was an unusual one. We decided to take a show and discuss happiness, whether or not we are happy, and how we have found this elusive emotion that everyone wants.

Here’s a breakdown of Episode 24:

  • SxSW 2010: Geoff’s take on the spirit of the interactive juggernaut
  • Richard’s vacation and how Miami is a nice relaxing time for him
  • Happiness, how do we find it?
  • Pleasure through work and sex/love: Is it happiness? If not, what is happiness in those work/critical life elements?
  • Spiritual paths to happinesss
  • And happiness in the future: What do we think it looks like?

Download or listen to the El Show Episode 24 today! Also available on iTunes!

Warning: Some serious cursing in the happiness episode ;)

Fathers & Sons – Diamond Love

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One of my favorite books of all time remains Turgenev’s incredibly haunting Fathers & Sons. The book, “concerns the inevitable conflict between generations and between the values of traditionalists and intellectuals.” The crazy stories of generational conflict and care between men, unconquerable romantic love, and the constant strife between nihilism and traditional values reminds me of my 20s. My Dad and I had some tough times.  Ironically, the only thing that kept our tenuous relationship in place was a third kind of love, the love of the baseball diamond.

With the Phillies going deep into the playoffs this year, it’s been a joy talking baseball on the phone with him. A native Philadelphian, I grew up watching the Phillies of the 80s right behind first base where Pete Rose held court, in large part because my Dad always took me to the games. They won their first World Series back then, ending a 97 year franchise drubbing.

He even took me to a World Series game in 1983. It was Game 4 when the Orioles beat the Phillies Ace Richard Denny in a relatively tight game that pretty much sealed the series for Ripken and company.

Later in the 90s when I was living a questionable life, the Phillies sucked (sans the ‘93 World Series campaign). My Dad and I could barely talk, but when we did it was always awkward until the conversation turned to baseball. The words would come easier, and our admiration for the sport kept the calls coming.

As the 90s waned and I began to change, we had our amends. Watching me go through that period was tough for him. He tells me now that he couldn’t really talk to or help me, and he often didn’t want to know what I was doing…It was too painful.

But baseball was the bridge during that present, and to the future of now. Thank God, we had a common bond; one that he, too, shared with his father through his twenties in the late 60s and early 70s. My Dad was even an usher at Dodgers stadium in the 60s! I was raised on Sandy Koufax stories!

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Male love — particularly the father and son relationship — is often a quiet, unspoken one. Stoic in nature, I know my pop had a hard time demonstrating love through words or hugs, yet his care for me was undying. His actions over the past 37 years have demonstrated that.

3678367308_b1d38634df Today, baseball is still a strong undercurrent in our relationship.  For his 60th birthday, my sister and I sent him to Fenway Park for his first trip to that grand daddy of a stadium. I also took him to his first game at Yankee Stadium. That’s why last year’s surprise World Series win was extra special, and if the Phillies get back to the series for a repeat attempt, I am going to try and get my Dad to one of the games. My way of saying thanks.

And for me, like the generations before me, baseball is still religion. I go to at least seven games a year, and have been to roughly 75% of the League’s stadiums (I’ll get to the parks in Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, St.Louis, and Tampa Bay before I leave this world). Here are pictures from this year’s games. Heck, even the last time I saw my Mom in Phoenix, we went to a spring training game.

It’s not just baseball for me, or for the Livingstons in general. It’s more than that, and thus, the diamond will always have a special place in my heart. Go Phillies!