So yesterday, it gets up to like 80-degrees, and it’s a “nice” Spring day. It was about 90 or so in my office, due to a climate control failure. At 4:30 this morning, there was an earthquake, then an aftershock at 10:15. Right now, there’s a (mild) thunderstorm outside my window, and it’s in the 60s outside. Parts of my office are actually COLD right now (and the rest is sweltering). It’s supposed to get down into the 40s for tonight’s low. …and a little while ago, the lights went out for a moment or two…

If it starts snowing, I’ll be expecting Jesus, roundabout dinnertime.

Advice to My Niece

Dear Tessa,

I know I’m early on this, but just in case something happens and I’m not around to share this stuff with you when you’re old enough to understand it, I thought I should go on record now. So, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind as you wander through life. Most of it’s about your dad…and keep in mind, I grew up with him as a role-model, just like you’re going to…so I know whereof I speak.

1. Somewhere between 30-50% of what your dad says has no real basis in provable fact, even if it turns out to be true. He makes stuff up, as I’m sure your mother will confirm. The other 50-70% of the stuff he says that DOES have a factual basis mostly just comes from stuff he’s heard Pete Townshend say…and whereas Pete’s a good source of information a lot of the time, your dad’s never been very good at memorizing lyrics. So…y’know…be careful.

2. Your dad likes making up nicknames for people. Until you’re roughly 23, you’ll find this terribly embarrassing. I got lucky…he just called me Wayne…but most of his nicknames are things like “Hootie McBoob” and “Crappy St. Dumbguy.” I’d imagine that at present, you’re probably something like “Girlie McPoops-a-lot.” You’re going to have to live with that.

3. Don’t touch his CDs. Ever. He’ll know. Trust me. I still hear about that Pink Floyd live record that one of my friends stole back in like 1996.
4. He’s going to curse. You should learn to accept the fact that there are words Daddy gets to say that you don’t. Yeah, it’s kind of hypocritical…but you’re not the first to notice such inconsistencies. Also, there are words Uncle Wayne will INVENT that you’re never even to read, much less repeat.

5. Your dad’s going to try to give you more than he had as a kid–which will be hard to do, since our mom bought us pretty much anything and everything with enough badgering… You should be advised, though, that you’ve been born during a major recession in our country. Your dad’s not made of money…and neither is America.

6. Your dad and your Uncle Wayne are going to have bizarre, lengthy, rambling conversations that end in shouting matches at times–usually revolving around some obscure song or movie. I don’t know if you’ll have any siblings…but rest assured, this is normal.

7. I’ll teach you how to play the bass, if you’d like. I taught your dad, and if he can learn, you can too.

8. On a more serious note… Your middle name was my (and your dad’s) mom’s first name. That’s pretty cool, and it made your Great-Grandma Herweck very happy, which is also cool. You should know that your dad and his mom didn’t always get along and argued a lot…but at the end of the day, they still managed to love each other–apparently more than I would’ve guessed, based on the fact that you now share her name. There are going to be times–and based on how hard-headed the Brink tribe can be, I’m guessing there’ll be a LOT of those times–where your dad and YOU won’t get along very well either. But at the end of the day, he’s still going to love you. That’s how he is.

9. Enough of that sentimental crap… This one’s about your Grandpa Brink… Don’t ever believe him when he says, “This is your Uncle—” and it ends in some improper noun that may or may not be construed to be dirty…those men are not your uncles…those are just dudes he’s known since High School. Most of them are alright, but I’m your ONLY Uncle. Blood is thicker than the Gluttons–though not by much…some of those guys really need to diet. (…and I don’t care what Aunt Stephanie calls “Uncle Ron.” I’m the only one you’ve got who’s related by BLOOD.)
10. You were born on Tax Day, 2008. That means your parents will love you a little extra, because you translate to cash-back.

11. Your dad’s band will always be better than your band.

12. Don’t dress like the other girls. Please, for the love of God, be modest…MY generation sucks…you’re our only hope. Please don’t screw it up by turning into a low-riding, tramp-stamped, spaghetti-strapped, tongue-pierced, weirdo-goth chick. Unless it pisses off your dad…then it’d be funny.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff over the next like 50-60 years. Just one last piece of advice… I’m awesome. You’ve got the best freaking Uncle in the world, and…there’s not really much I can promise…but I’ll always try to have candy that I’ll sneak to you when your mom’s not looking…and when you’re a teenager, I’ll always be available to pick you up from where-ever you are with no questions asked, and I’ll stand behind whatever lie you tell your dad about where you were. Everybody should have someone to do that for them. I had your dad…and sorry, Dave, but what goes around comes around! 🙂 Also, Tessa, there will probably be times I’ll lie to YOU about where I picked up your dad from, too…

(I’m mostly kidding about the lying…mostly…)
-Uncle Wayne…err…Derek.