she's a soulful flower in the garden
she's bobbing in the sunlight, and flirting with her eyes
the way she walks by, i see a wave of color
moving like an angel, trailing butterflies
- "she walks this earth" by sting

Greetings to everyone who has come here from Rob's blog. She is a beautiful, mysterious, wondrous little girl and I am lucky to know her.

June 23, 2002...
At the risk of seeming horrendously insular, I have to admit that I spent most of the evening in the company of certain guests of the journaling persuasion. They included...

...Corina and Wes, who arrived bearing a beautiful hand-made guest book for the newlyweds and the entire season of "24" on tape for me, and then promptly spent an hour valiantly cleaning up the mess Melissa and I had spent the day making in the kitchen;

...Kymm, who was repeating her performance as photographer extraordinaire, and who also banished me to the couch in the basement on Saturday night with her cunning use of "scissors" during our battle for the guest room;

...Tracing and her husband, who I was so looking forward to meeting and who I did not get nearly enough time to talk to;

...Amanda and her husband, who I also did not get enough time to talk to, especially because I was looking forward to reliving our stunning victory in a game of Cranium lo these many years ago;

...Kate, who rushed in from rehearsals in New York and then positively refused to stay over, which meant I had no one to stay up and giggle with in the basement;

...and finally Schuyler, accompanied by her father, who followed her around like nothing so much as a movie star's personal assistant.

And quite the movie star she was. She cruised around as if she owned the place, relatively nonplussed by all the giant strangers milling about in the house and yard. She primped and preened in front of every available reflective surface. When I took over her security detail in an effort to give Rob the chance to grab at least a bite of food, I followed her up to the second floor, where she was perfectly content to stand on a windowsill and look for some adoring fans to wave at.

All right, I admit it. I was slightly taken with her. While I haven't quite accepted the fact that I could be alone for the rest of my life, I have been getting used to the idea that I might never have children, so I've started trying to convince myself that I don't even want them. I thought I was making progress until I spent about five minutes hanging out with this monkey of a two-and-a-half year old, because suddenly I was hatching a kidnap plot, and I'm not kidding. (See how much she wanted to come with me?)

Lest we forget the person responsible for chauffeuring Schuyler to guest appearances such as this, it was really good to spend some time with Rob. Developing a friendship with another online journaler is kind of a strange thing, in that meeting the person, which is ordinarily a prerequisite to the existence of an actual friendship, becomes more of a bonus. I've been reading Rob's journal for years, and he's been reading mine, and we e-mail on a pretty regular basis, so we became friends, despite not even meeting for the first time until last October at JournalCon. So the cool thing about that is when you finally do get to hang out together, there's no initial new-person awkwardness to get over -- it's totally comfortable, like you've known each other for years, because you have.

(I also have to say this: Rob is known to occasionally deride his abilities as a father, but even after a short amount of time seeing them together, it is clear that he would cut off his own arms without hesitation if it would keep Schuyler from harm. So the next time he says anything about them taking away his Dad card, just know that it's never going to happen.)

July 9, 2003...
First, a couple of weeks ago, Rob and Co. stopped in on their way to Texas for what could have been breakfast or lunch, depending on what ungodly hour they actually left, and it turned out to be lunch, which was probably better anyway. I had grand picnic plans, thinking that they would not want to get back in a car to go somewhere to eat, and also that it would be nice for Schuyler to stretch her legs, but alas, since we had just come off something like 73 straight days of rain, the ground was soaked, and besides, what the hell do I know about picnic food?

So I took them to Five Guys, this hole-in-the-wall place that could charitably be called a restaurant, I suppose, but they make the best hamburgers ever, and traditional Boardwalk fries, served to you in a paper bag. Plus, you get to eat peanuts while you wait for your food and drop the shells on the floor and no one cares. Ah, just like home! (Schuyler, it must be said, could not have been more adorable, and I have to tell you that she ate an entire bottle of ketchup all by herself. She also likes me now, I think, which is nice, considering how she felt about me a year ago.)

After lunch, we returned to my apartment and cleaned ourselves up (well, those of us who had ketchup, anyway), and when it was time for them to hit the road again, I led them out of the city. I was happy to do it, as it was on my way to my parents, where I was headed anyway, and given the utter lack of road signage in this part of the city, I would never have been able to give them understandable directions to get where they needed to go. (I should point out that I was very impressed with Julie, who was driving, and the way she held her own against more than one of this city's jackass cab drivers.)

Anyway, it was good to see them, as they are some of my favorite people, and given that they still had about seven thousand miles left to go, I was glad they decided to stop and hang out for a couple of hours.

September 27, 2003...
I have never been to New Haven, Connecticut, before, and as I was going to be in Philadelphia already on Saturday, Rob invited me up to hang out on Sunday and go to the Andrew Bird show that night. And because I like nothing more than to spend as much time as possible away from my own home on the weekends, I jumped at the chance, even though I knew I'd have to leave obscenely early (i.e., 4:30 a.m.) to drive back home on Monday.

On Sunday morning, while five other people in various places in the apartment remained crashed out in their pork comas, I slipped out to the neighborhood 7-11, got some coffee, asked the customer in line ahead of me for directions to the Jersey turnpike, and was soon headed north at a speed somewhat over the limit, seeing as I now have valid plates and registration. Just under three hours later, I pulled up to the Rummel-Hudson home.

Before I tell you about the day, I would just like to take a moment to say that I'm pretty sure you all know how I feel about Schuyler. It's the same way a lot of you feel, I think. Because we have been reading Rob's journal since before she was born, and because he has been so open and generous and heartbreakingly honest in sharing her life with his readers, we all feel like we know her. We have quite literally watched her grow up, and we all care about her more than we otherwise would about the kid of a journaler.

And let me tell you, for those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet her, and for those cynics among you who don't believe Rob when he tells you this himself, that she is an utterly captivating little girl. I have been lucky enough to hang out with her a few times already, but I always forget just how engaging she is. She is bright and giggly and charmed the life out of me in about five minutes.

I also have to say, with as much humility as I can muster (and it's not much), that she seems to like me, and I am kind of freakishly honored by that. (I take it personally when kids or pets don't like me. So I'd like to point out that all of the animals in the Rummel-Hudson menagerie liked me too, except for the rabbits. They might have liked me, I suppose, but I kept a safe distance. I'm like Anya about rabbits. They are out to get me.)

Anyway, I was feeling the Schuyler love, and proud of it. Fairly soon after we set out on our afternoon stroll through New Haven, she was reaching for my hand to hold. And when we stopped at a burger place for lunch, she climbed into my side of the booth, and then decided that just sitting next to me was not good enough, so she clambered onto my knee, and from there, ate ketchup.

No, I'm kidding. She actually ate french fries (with ketchup) and grilled cheese (with... ketchup. See?) But it's okay, because I used to do that too, when I was her age. Not on purpose, ketchup wasn't an intentional ingredient of the grilled cheese, but if there was some left on my plate, I'd use the sandwich to mop it up. It was good. (There was ketchup on my plate because I used to eat it with potato chips. You used to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so be quiet.)

She also liked my sunglasses. She actually wore them around outside for like half an hour. She's such a rock star.




Austin, May 2005