Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Most of today was spent working on the enclosed cabin part of the structure. This is the place where I predict the boys will go when they're mad at us. I expect those walls will be witness to many a hatched plan, conspired conspiracy, and gathering of small people. I wonder how long until one of them decides to snag some extra fabric from Mom's sewing room to hang in the windows so's nobody can see what they're up to.
Anyway, while I was sitting four feet off the ground in the cabin, Henry kept looking up at me and asking if he could climb up with me. I kept telling him that he couldn't come up until I had it all built, but then it occurred to me, aw crap, once thing thing is all put together, he'll be climbing all over it. I wonder how long before the first good fall? I gotta shred me up some tires before somebody breaks an arm.
So while I was screwing in the billion-odd wooden slats that make up the house's walls, I had rap lyrics running through my head, one of which was Talib Kweli saying "It's a small wonder like Vicki/that I'm picky..." and I don't remember what comes after that, but I got stuck on that part because my internal singer--you know, the little person inside your head that sings when you don't feel like singing out for all the world to hear? Well that little guy started singing the theme song to "Small Wonder." And before I knew it, he'd sung the whole goddamn song. I let my drill hang at my side and took my finger off of its trigger while I let that little fact sink in: Holmes, you know the entire theme song to "Small Wonder." Sometimes when I remember old shows like that, I'm not certain if I should trust my memory. Like "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" or "Square Pegs." I ask myself, were these shows really on T.V. at one point? Or do I just have some false memory of them? Could it be that perhaps I was the only person in the world watching them?
I was pondering all of this later on while I was rocking Simon to sleep. It occurred to me that I could've tweeted about knowing the "Small Wonder" theme, but the moment was passed. Ah well, I can live with a bit of tweetgret.
Tweetgret: noun. The feeling of regret that one experiences upon realizing that an opportunity to tweet has passed.
I shouldn't have been surprised that I knew that song. My brain is a magnet for lyrics that I don't want to remember. Like the other day, I was being silly and I started singing the chorus to a Tori Amos song, thinking that I would only sing a line or two, but then I realized that I knew the whole fucking thing. And yes, I sang it out. You might say I belted it. I'm not what you'd call a Tori Amos fan, more like an antifan. But somehow, every woman that I've ever dated, married, or otherwise had cause to exchange fluids with over the course of a significant span of time has been a Tori devotee. Which is why if you put on Little Earthquakes, I could probably sing along with 80 - 99% of it. And I'd do it too, just out of spite. Spite for who or what? Can't say, my friends. I just can't say.
Maybe I'll post about the holidays at some point.
Monday, December 29, 2008
On another hot summer weekend, an entire horde of us descended upon the Guadalupe River to tube its cool waters. Near the end of the course, you fell out of your tube, which isn't really surprising considering the amount of beer we brought with us. You would have been fine except that you somehow managed to rack yourself on a piece of tree stump hidden just below the surface of the water. To add injury to injury, when your sack came into contact with the stump, you screamed, which might have been okay except that your head was underwater at the time, so your voice was completely destroyed for about a week. Your sack didn't end up healing quite so quickly. You ended up having to go to the hospital where they found that one of your nuts was completely ruptured. The poor guy had to be removed, but in order to keep things in balance, you received a titanium replacement. Not long after your surgery, you went to a party and some hot chick sat on your lap. You ended up literally busting a stitch.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So I don't really know if this is "ha ha" funny or "oh hey what a surprise" funny or "I think I'll go be a super villain now" funny. But in whatever sense, it's funny. To me anyway. So to recap, I'm in my third semester at seminary, the goal of which is to move into the counseling field. I chose the seminary for several really good reasons:
- I fully believe that the spiritual side of the self is of great importance to many people's mental health and well-being, and so I wanted to be able to at least talk about it when and if it ever comes up. Not that everyone in the world is Christian, but rather that Christianity is one vehicle, a language, a symbology, through which to try and make sense of the divine. And it's a vehicle whose language I am somewhat familiar with. So it's a place to start.
- The decision to move into this field had a lot to do with something of a spiritual renewal of my own, though it was one that was fraught with questions. Thus, I wanted to put myself in an environment where I could grapple with these questions. I wasn't looking to be spoonfed easy answers - I just wanted a place where I could struggle with the questions, hopefully with other strugglers.
- It's cheaper than UT or St. Ed's.
So that was sort of unexpected.
I have made one decision though: I'm not going to run from this.
And with that, I stopped writing and the post sat idle. What follows picks up where it left off.
The questions are big, and not easily answered, perhaps not even answerable at all. Which then begs the question, do they even matter? Which, of course, is just yet another goddamn question. But I don't feel as if just walking off in disgust is quite the way for me to go. It's not as if the questions will just go away. I don't think humans are wired that way. And to stick with the metaphor, I have to wonder if much of the discomfort and unease that I feel is a result of the process of tearing out some of my old faulty wiring and looking for new ways to hook things up, a process that's been going on for a number of years now, and will probably continue for years to come, perhaps even until the day I die. Maybe that's life. Maybe that's the journey. Maybe it never makes sense, and we simply make peace with the fact that we just don't know, and that any one of us is just as likely to be as full of shit as the next person. To me, this inspires a sense of humility. Why doesn't it do that for everybody? Argh, more questions!
Maybe my problem is my perspective. I see a question, I feel the need to find its answer. If the answer is not forthcoming, then harumph and argh and well fuckall, etc. Sometimes, that is. Other times, I'm perfectly laid back enough to accept whatever. It could be, however, that the shift I'm making is larger and in a different direction than I expected. I definitely didn't plan to somehow become "more Christian." In a lot of ways, I haven't really felt Christian for quite a while, and that's only become more solidified over the past few months. But I've never before seriously considered that maybe, just maybe, This Is All There Is. But now I am. I'm not making that as a declaration. In fact, I'm running pretty short on anything much that I can declare. Instead, it's a new question, another one to toss in the old thought grinder for some mulling over for the next few...however long. Just another thing I just don't know.
In talking to a friend of mine about all this, she suggested an exercise to try to get at the heart of it, and it goes something like this: Ignoring external influences as much as possible, including other people's opinions, political leanings, religious background, etc, write down the things that you truly, deep down in your core, believe to be true. It'll probably only be a few things. Maybe even just one. You don't have to prove it, just state it. So here's mine, in no particular order:
- Everyone who has ever lived and ever will live is capable of great good, unthinkable evil, and everything in between.
- We are not the sole architects of our lives. We are born into situations with people and certain inheritances, and given certain advantages and disadvantages. Still, we encounter choices that are ours and ours alone to make.
- Our lives and our decisions affect other people. Ignoring this fact causes harm.
- The human race has discovered so much in its time, yet there is still so much we do not know and cannot presently explain. This fact should humble us each enough to treat others with respect.
And with that, I'm off to live life some more.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
For this night, however, I'd spent not a dime. Austin Hip-hop Scene had held a contest, the prize being two tickets to see Ice Cube. So I dropped my name in the hat, and then forgot about it until one morning I went to work and checked my email, only to find out that my name was going on that guest list. Gotta say that was a good day.
At least, my name was supposed to go on the list. As we neared the door, I started wondering what the hell I was going to do if my name wasn't there. Sure enough, Clipboard And Stamp Guy flips through his various lists and can't find my name anywhere.
"Who was supposed to put you on the list?"
I told him.
"It's not here."
"Well, it's supposed to be."
We looked at each other for a second. Then he says, "Fuck it." He stamps my hand. He stamps Shayne's hand. Whether I was ever on that list or not, we were in for nada dolla. Gangsta, gangsta.
The opening act was an idiot named Trick Trick. I'd never heard of him before, but from the sound of some of his lyrics, he's got a bit of a homophobia issue. This is an ugly aspect of hip-hop that doesn't seem to get addressed much. For years, there's been a lot of talk about the gratuitous violence and the degrading portrayal of women in hip-hop lyrics, but homophobia doesn't seem to have been talked about nearly as much. One of the major exceptions, of course, was the hype that surrounded Eminem a few years back. For my part, I have less of an issue with the violence aspect than I do with the other two. I think the point has been made plenty of times that gangster rap is a close cousin of punk rock. They're raw, scary, maybe a bit mean. And both are intent on portraying the reality of worlds that are too ugly and too close to home to be comfortable enough for prime time.
Of course, both have been somewhat commodified, and have given birth to a number of artists that have become almost caricatures of the music they are supposed to be about. I mean, when you've got artists trying to portray their pasts as being more gangster than they really were, that's just sad. Still that doesn't take anything away from the impact that this music had when it first hit.
Wait, I was talking about homophobia, right? Yeah, the ugly treatment of women and homosexuals in a lot (read: NOT ALL) of hip-hop music makes me sick. I'm thankful that the music's gone in different directions over the years, with lots of artists taking the basic building blocks of beats and rhymes, and innovating them to create something new. It's as if more rappers seem comfortable being who they are rather than trying to portray themselves as some kind of ultra-violent gangster poet. Some artists have even spoken out against disrespecting women and gay people. And just as I think the tide will turn against bullshit like Proposition 8, I think it will turn against attitudes like these in hip-hop music. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if a gay rapper rose to prominence using his or her rhymes against homophobia. Homophobia may not be wiped out completely in our lifetime (I mean Christ, we still have fucking racism), but you just can't win against the power of an idea whose time has come. Still, seeing Trick Trick was a pretty blunt reminder that this problem is still with us in a big way. And the fact that he has him on his tour tells me that Ice Cube, who I've respected for years, must condone his attitudes at least to some extent.
All the same, Ice Cube's performance was incredible. He played some new shit, he played some old shit, he even played some N.W.A. It's one thing to be all Office Space about it and sing along with the tracks in the car, it's quite another to sing along with the dude that wrote it. At one point, I turned to Shayne and said "that's Ice Cube! He's right there!" That's one more "gotta-see" show I can mark off the list.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This is the first Christmas where Henry has been the one to bring up Santa Claus. For the last couple of weeks, he's been talking about wanting to go see Santa, a feat we've never attempted before because, well, see above. Still, he insisted he wanted to go so that he could tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. And do you know what he wants, what he has said over and over and over he wants to find when he wakes up Christmas morning? No, not a Red Ryder beebee gun. No, even better: cookies! Like, the kind you eat! Score, yo. I'll swing by the grocery store on the way home. It'll be the best Christmas ever.
As you can see, Simon is, as usual, unfazed.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday morning, the boys discovered the tree. Our nearly one-year-old is plenty mobile and plenty curious, so we left the bottom foot or so of the tree undecorated. It’s like the tree is dressed in a short skirt. Just showing off a little leg, ya know? Hey, a tree’s got needs. So I watched as the nearly one-year-old, my little New Year’s Eve baby, eyed the lowest hanging ornament, a shiny silver bell with colorful stripes all the way around. From his sitting up position it was well out of his reach. He raised his hand towards it and attempted to stand. His legs wobbled for a moment, then he thunked back down on his little baby butt. He tried again, same results. I watched him try this maneuver again and again, never taking his eyes off of that bell. Finally, he stood up and held his stance firmly, long enough to reach out and pluck the ornament off of the tree. I have you now, pretty shing thing. With it safely in his grasp, he sat back down and inspected his find more closely. The bell remained stoic.
I suppose if all the good tasting fruit grew out of the ground, humankind would still be crawling.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
One night, I was awakened by the impact of my head with the concrete floor. I had rolled out of the bed and landed right on my noggin. You heard me crying somewhere in the darkness of the cabin. You found me, picked me up, and carried me to the health lodge on your shoulders in the middle of the night. Betcha got a headache, huh?
Thursday, December 04, 2008
So it came time to do a reading of these scripts, and Brandon says "Hey, my friend Matt could probably come help us out if we need some actors to read." It was only when I showed up for the reading and met you for the first time that I found out you were black, and it was only then that I stopped to think about how a scene like this might be taken by somebody who A) doesn't know me, and B) isn't white. Sure, I know it's meant to be dark and satirical and offensive, and people who know me would know it too, but what of everybody else? What would this look like through their eyes? Should I, as a writer, even worry about it? It's easy to brush questions like that off in a vacuum, but not when faced with an actual human being.
Thankfully you didn't get upset. I don't think you liked the scene very much, but you recognized it for what it was. Later on, I even got to direct you in another play. And those offensive scenes? Never saw the light of the stage. That's probably for the best. But don't tell self-righteous 23 year old me that I said that.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
A few weeks later, I was a full-blown member, just like you. It sounds crazy, but I basically let myself get brainwashed. I was actually convinced that this little church, with its little outposts here and there throughout the globe, whose Austin branch met in the ballroom of a downtown hotel, was what it claimed to be: the one and true church. Everyone else? Going to hell. I actually believed that. Yes I did. I went from lapsed semi-maybe-agnosticish person with a Christian background to hardcore believer. Yes I did. It boggles my mind that I let that happen, that there was a time in my life I could have been duped like that, but there it is.
Throughout my time with this church, you were my best friend, and the person to whom I was supposed to go when I needed to discuss spiritual matters. In fact, I was supposed to, oh my God, I can't believe this, I was supposed to confess my sins to you. How ridiculous is that? How ludicrous? How manipulative and conniving? Though I can't say it was your fault. It was the system, and you and I were both willing players in it.
The truth is, we really were friends, even outside the structure of the church that said we were all "friends." We hung out every day. We talked about heavy metal. You brought your bass over to my house sometimes so we could rock out. We were buds.
People who left the church, and there were many, were said to have "fallen away." Not only were they on their way to hell like the rest of the world, but their punishment would be particularly harsh because they had known the truth and chosen to turn their back on it. It was hard to find a group photo of people in the church without at least one or two people in it who had "fallen away." I bring this up because when I left six months later, I hated the thought that you would be thinking I was one of these "fall-aways." I knew you would blame yourself, that it would eat you up inside, and that the leaders would go on and let you stew in that guilt. But there was no sticking around for me, not after I learned what a complete and total lie I had given myself over to, what a sham this organization was, how theologically ridiculous their premises were, how manipulative and downright evil many of their practices were, and how much damage they had done to people's lives all over the world. I hated to leave, and I hated to leave you behind. I felt like I was making a jailbreak and there was no way to bring you along with me.
I haven't spoken to you since then, but I swear that was you I saw in the Ikea parking lot a few months ago. You were with a woman, presumably your wife. We made eye contact briefly, and I think that was a smile of recognition. That is, assuming it was you and not some friendly stranger who resembled you. Last I heard, the church had crumbled, so who knows what happened to you and everybody else after that. I can only hope you found your own way to freedom.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Oh, and I'm also excited you and your wife are about to join us in parenthood.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
As I scroll through the list, however, none truly jump out at me as quintessential slackers. There just seems to be more to everybody than just one little label. Ryan, you're the closest thing I've got. You worked in the bowels of a summer camp kitchen, arguably the lowest of the low on the ladder of summer camp occupations. Rather than wishing you could do something else, you seemed to relish your lowly position, like a chimney sweep making fun of a room full of lawyers and businessmen. And your job kept you from having to deal with campers, whom you mostly hated on principle. You put in just enough work to get by, not a drop more or less.
The only time I ever saw you really put effort into anything was the weekly cleaning of the dining hall floor, which was accomplished by covering it in bleach, then playing hockey with brooms and a bar of soap. These games never ended without significant injury.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
All that changed during our last pregnancy. About midway through, Ash went to her stylist and got her beautiful long black hair hacked off. Again, it's her hair, she can do what she wants with it...except she hated it. She was pissed at herself for squandering one of the good things about being pregnant, all those months of great hair days. And without actually saying it, she managed to make clear that, had I made some kind of preference known, perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided.
Sounds like a green light to me.
Since then, I've been an adamant spokesperson for the long hair. Every time she brings up the idea of cutting it, I shoot it down like enemy aircraft. I've actually become kind of a jerk about it. The latest discussion, if by discussion you mean me ranting like a misinformed McCain supporter while Ashley nods and talks to me in the same tone she uses with our three year old, went something like this:
HOLMES: Keep your hair long because I like it long. Yeah, that's right, I said it.
THE ASH: Uh-huh.
HOLMES: You can put that on your blog if you want to. "Oh my god, my husband is so mean, he always tells me how I should wear my hair!"
THE ASH: I'll do that.
HOLMES: Yeah, that's right. And then I'll leave a comment on that post and say "Yeah, I said it. What's up?"
THE ASH: Okay.
HOLMES: Shit, maybe I'll just put it on my blog instead. Let the whole world know!
THE ASH: Okay, but only if you title it "I am a Feminist."
And there you have it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
One summer, I took The Reverend Horton Heat's classic tune "Bales of Cocaine" and turned it into a campfire song. Its rhythm just lends itself nicely to such a transposition. Of course, this song was not intended for camper consumption, but just as a special treat for the staff. By the end of the summer, most of the staff knew every word. It drove you up the wall, but everybody else loved it. Just my little way of saying "Fuck you."
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sleep tight little boys. The future's looking just a bit brighter.
And with that, a little Mos Def.
Friday, October 31, 2008
It was just a house on an otherwise empty lot. Standing in line outside, we could hear strains of Metallica and Megadeth coming from near the entrance. We agreed that this boded well, though what logic we were applying exactly, I couldn't tell you now. People emerged from the other end of the house, some of them laughing, some disturbed, but none complaining. This too seemed to bode well.
You and I went in together. The entrance was fairly standard, utter darkness on all sides until some monster or some such jumped out at us. I don't remember every twist and turn, but I do remember at one point, you and I were chased down a hallway until we ended up in a tiny room from which there appeared to be no exit. The door through which we had entered closed behind us, and no others were apparent. A chainsaw whirred to life, and next thing we know, we're trapped in this room with two dudes waving chainsaws in our faces. After a few seconds of this, an unseen hand pulled a curtain aside to reveal an exit where moments ago there had been a wall. I ran through and found myself in a hallway, but behind me, I could still hear the chainsaws buzzing and you screaming. Like a little girl. "Oh shit," I thought, my imagination kicking into supreme overdrive. "They're really gonna kill him. They must kill somebody for real every night in this fucking place, and tonight it's gonna be Wade!"
I ran back to the room to find that, in fact, you were not being killed. Rather, your pant leg had gotten caught on a piece of chain link fence that was used as part of the wall, and unable to get away from the twin Leatherfaces, you panicked.
Finally, one of the chainsaw bearers set down his weapon, pulled his mask aside, and unattached your pants from the fencing, but not without giving you shit for having freaked out. But fuck that guy and and his stupid judgment passing, Wade, because chainsaws are fucking scary.
Once he had you all detached, he pulled his mask back on. The four of us looked at each other and decided that we'd better get back into the roles we were all supposed to play in this particular setting, they as the scarers and we as the scarees. They revved their chainsaws and we ran.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
One day, my mom and I were at McDonald's and I had to go to the bathroom. I walked into the men's room and found you standing at the sink washing your face, bandage and all. You turned slowly to look at me and I froze. I was terrified your bandage was going to fall off, and I would see whatever it was you kept hidden under there. I ran out of the bathroom and went back to our table where I told my mom that I'd seen you. She seemed surprised. It was strange to think of you being any place other than Sellers Road. I remember the expression on your face when you looked at me. I think you knew that you were a scary sight, especially to a kid, but you didn't want to be.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
You and I, along with Ben and a few others, founded the He-Man Woman Hater's Club. We didn't actually hate women. We just hated being without them, so we just decided to be pathetic single dudes together. It was therapy. It was necessary. It got us through. And fuck it, it was fun.
I haven't set foot in a record store in ages, but if you still lived here in Austin and worked at Waterloo Records, I would definitely still come by, if only to tell you about what I downloaded recently. Thanks for all the times you ignored your job to chit-chat with me. Austin and I miss the hell out of you.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
That's all it was. And now that it's sitting in the garage waiting for recycling day, who knows what fate will befall it. But for a brief shining moment, it got to be something more. And all I had to do was cut a little door into its side.
And just like that, this simple hunk of cardboard switched from the product containment and transportation industry to the business of child's play. For a time, it seemed as if the box was going to become a permanent fixture in Henry's little routine. It became his default hiding place. It was the place he would go when he was upset and just needed a moment.
Of course, I didn't typically ruin it for him by poking a camera in, but I had to document it somehow.
Alas, his fascination with the box was short lived, and it quickly devolved into being just another inhabitant of too much space. But before getting rid of it, I just had to check it out for myself.
And I have to admit, I understood the appeal. Though getting out was a bit of a challenge.
And with that, our days of transmogrifier ownership ended.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
One beautiful bright afternoon, you and I were kung-fu fighting on a moving motor boat. We were putting on a show for the rest of the passengers. The driver thought it would be funny to bank sharply to one side, a maneuver that sent you and I flying overboard into the water. I emerged to the sound of laughter, yours, the driver's, all of the passengers', and then my own. That was a beautiful day.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The next morning, you were back at that edge. Most everybody had left, but you were riding in our car, so I was still there. Our encouragements were slightly less enthusiastic than the night before, tinged by an impatience to get on the road. But you made it clear you didn't want to leave without jumping at least once. False start after false start, but you couldn't quite make it. Finally, when all our patience had given out, when we finally stopped trying to make you just jump already, when all of us had basically just given up, you did it. And then you climbed back up and did it again.
I paid a visit to my dentist yesterday, and they did something new and weird and different. Once my mouth was all numb and they were about to go in to start tooling around, the nice assistant lady broke out a pair of sunglasses and affixed them to my face in the usual sunglass position. "This is nice," I thought. "A little protection from the blinding rays of that 'Flight of the Navigator' light that they shine into your face." As they get to work on my teeth, the dentist starts telling the story behind the glasses. Turns out he had run into a dentist friend of his -- I was surprised that dentists are actually friends with other dentists, but there you have it -- and this dentist friend of his told him this hee-larious story about how his assistant had dropped an instrument right into a patient's face! Ow! Fuck! He didn't specify which tool, but they're all metal, and many of them have sharp points, so chances are it probably hurt like a sumbitch. So he's telling this story to both me and his assistant while they're working on my mouth, and he proceeds to tell us how he asked his friend, "well what'd you do to the employee?", and his friend tells him he didn't do anything to her because she was his wife. "What's he gonna do, fire her?" At this, my dentist laughs a hearty guffaw, his assistant sort of titters nervously, and laying there with my jaw open like Pac-Man on a binge, I can clearly see the message that he is conveying to her, perhaps even clearer than he does: I ain't put no ring on your finger lady, so if you fuck up, I'm free to send your ass packing. I felt just the slightest bit awkward being an unwitting third party to his unconscious passive aggression.
I picked up the boys and still managed to beat The Ash home. When I saw her car in the driveway, I walked out with Simon to meet her. She was carrying a single plastic bag, out of which she triumphantly pulled a 24 ounce can of Budweiser, A.K.A. a tallboy. The explanation? Cheap American beer kills slugs, and slugs seem to be having their way with some of the plants in her garden. But it doesn't take 24 ounces of fine American lager (that's what it says on the can, it must be true) to kill a few slugs, so guess who washed down the rest of it? I immediately felt like I was tubing down the Guadalupe River in the summer time. It was like a gross-tasting Calgon moment.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
When The Ash and I got married, you gave us a card, inside of which you had written a loving tribute to love. It rolled and rambled, and I suspect there was really good beer involved in its writing, but it was beautiful.
Speaking of beer, you remember that time we drank those pints together? Oh, I guess I should be more specific. My point is, you and beer go together. You're the guy who shows up at the party with his own cooler of beer so that he doesn't have to worry about space in the fridge. Your beer is always good and you're always glad to share. Saint Bill.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
The other day, I happened to find myself behind two such vehicles, and I had the presence of mind to snap some pictures for your enjoyment*. What did I do before I had a camera phone? Just remember things and describe them with words?
Offender # 1: Cowboy Vanity
I would be interested to know the percentage of full-sized trucks on the road that are actually used as work vehicles as opposed to those that are only meant to make the owner feel more like a big strapping cowboy, even though he works in an air conditioned environment, buys all his clothes from the mall, and he hasn't ridden a horse since he was six years old. 40-60? 30-70? The specimen pictured above, what with its dual chrome sphincters, squeaky clean mudflaps, and dent-free exterior, appears to be the latter. Granted, it may have just come from getting detailed and unloaded, but from where I was sitting, the only functions it was fulfilling were the taking up of excess space and increasing Austin's obnoxia** quotient.
Offender # 2: Burnt Orange Nightmare
They say everything comes with a price, and one of the prices I pay for living in this city that I love is that I have to put up with the sight of burnt orange everywhere, especially during football season. For those that don't know, burnt orange and white are the colors of The University of Texas. The clothing, bumper stickers, and flags are one thing, but I'm still amazed at the number of burnt orange vehicles in this town. It's one of the most putrid colors imaginable. In the case of the truck you see above, the owner not only selected burnt orange for the its color, but has also adorned it with multiple UT-related burnt orange decorations so as to create an even greater burnt orange impact. This is the vehicle that I imagine driving me to my own personal hell. It'll be blasting Toby Keith, the passengers will be serving near beer, and everyone will be talking about how Obama is a Muslim.
*Yes, I was at a full and complete stop when I took each of these. I was not driving through the phone's viewfinder. That would be dumb.
**So I made up a word. What of it?
Friday, October 10, 2008
Here babe, put on this Marge Simpson mask and let's go upstairs. Or better yet, let's go outside.
I was never alone with Henry for more than a day at a time when he was Simon's age, but taking care of him back then was a constant and desperate effort to convince him that life was not all misery and pain, that it was okay for him to be happy every now and then, that he could stop screaming and crying for perhaps a minute or two, maybe even sleep. It was gutcheck parenting, and it usually made any kind of relaxation or distraction pretty much impossible. Ultimately, I think it helped to make us better parents, but at the time, we found ourselves wondering how the species had ever advanced this far.
Simon's a tad bit easier. We've always known he was an easier baby, but interestingly enough, having Henry out of the house has thrown their differences into even starker contrast. Simon is the stoner roommate to Henry's revolutionary poet, the Bob Marley to his Henry Rollins, the bong to his crack pipe. He eats at eating time, sleeps at sleeping time, goes at go time, and quits at quitting time. It's been fun, it's been easy, it's been chill.
I hope I'm not jinxing it by blogging about it.
By the way, Ash just texted me. Henry's with the grandparents, and she's at Pat O'Brien's with her sisters getting her drink on. I think she's having fun.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I do not know what direction the blue minivan is facing at this time.
For our part, Simon the Jovial and I, Simply The Holmes, remained behind in Austin at our house, the location from which the aforementioned departure took place. It was decided that a roadtrip of such length might be better traveled without a not-yet-one-year-old. We did at one time consider the possibility of all of us going, but in truth, this is a trip for The Ash's mother's side of the family. See, while New Orleans may have become a political symbol for the current administration's domestic failures, it is still something far more profound to many people, and that is Home. And to yet many more, it is the Place From Which Their People Hail. This includes my wife and her sisters, whose mother, aunt, and late uncle grew up in New Orleans. The Ash's mother and aunt will talk endlessly about what it was like growing up there, enough to drive you insane. Her aunt, who now lives with us, left it all behind on the eve of Katrina's landing. To her, it's still home. She just lives in Austin now.
So they've all gone to spend a few days wandering around the city that their family once called home, and to which they are still linked. Or at least what's left of it. Thankfully, all the plagues that had rained down upon us over the last month lifted in time. Since we pulled Simon out of daycare, and since the grandparents are part of this big excursion, that leaves only me. Truth be told, I was happy to take the vacation days. From now until next Monday, it's just the two of us. I did have some grand designs on accomplishing all manner of projects ranging from home improvement to self improvement. And I might get to some of that. But I'm thinking instead that maybe I'll spend some time showing Simon around the city of Austin, the city that is his Home. We'll take a few excursions of our own.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
So yes, Corey, the first paragraph of this post that bears your name is all about me, and you don't even get a mention until this here second paragraph, but that's only because I needed that first paragraph to tell everybody about the godawful back pain I suffered, which is relevant to this post because back pain always reminds me, that's right, of you. I know that's not a very exciting thing to be associated with in one's memory, but Jesus Christ man, by 10th grade, you had already experienced as many back-related issues as guys in John McCain's age bracket. You were always missing school because you had to have yet another surgery or some such. Maybe my spasm yesterday was a bit of karma coming back to me for calling you Backflip. Speaking of nicknames, I believe it was you that christened Mrs. Ryan "Chia Pet." Very nice. Whereever you are, I hope your back's not giving you too much trouble. That shit hurts.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
So The Ash and I are dragging. It doesn't do good things for us as parents or as partners. We bicker, then remember that we're in this together and cling to one another for dear life. We are in survival mode. Simon has got himself an ear infection that has been tormenting him for the past week. The symptoms are gone, but we're still administering antibiotics, and when he screams and clutches at his ear, we place some of the drops in his ears that the doctor prescribed for pain. And we hold him until he calms down, and try to forget that we'd rather be in bed ourselves. It's all we can do.
For Henry, daycare was a horrid experience from day one. I've read other parents' accounts of having their kids in daycare and how their kids would cry at dropoff and pickup time. Rest assured he did that, but every day when I picked him up, it looked like he had cried the whole day long as well, and then he cried all evening. He woke up crying, begging not to go back. There's no way I'll accept that this is somehow good for him.
Thankfully, we've found a Montessori program for him that seems to be having the completely opposite affect. He's gone from insisting that he's never going to school again to wanting to go. He's gone from spending the morning commute in tears to singing. Ashley and I are delirious with happiness over how much good this school seems to be doing for him. So there's a bright spot.
I've got two months and some change left in a brutal semester. Honestly, it's beating the shit out of me. I'm going to finish out the semester and reassess. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Is it worth it? What's most important? All that shit.
I'm glad September's over. Here's hoping October's better.
Friday, October 03, 2008
"How ya doin? Your paper was great, by the way."
Welcome to college, Holmes.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I think it was our third or fourth year working together at summer camp when you got the extremely unKenny-like idea that you wanted to brand yourself. Like a piece of cattle. You wanted searing hot iron applied to your flesh so as to leave behind a permanent mark, the mark in this case being the brand of the summer camp/ranch that had employed and come to mean so much to us over the years. And you wanted me, your friend, to man the irons, to be the guy to put brand to flesh.
Come on, Tee-ravis, you gonna do it?
It seemed like a joke at first, the kind of thing you could never possibly go through with. So I humored you.
Sure buddy, I'll brand you. Why the fuck not?
As the summer passed, it became clear that even if it had started as a lark, the idea had taken on a level of grave seriousness in your mind. It was some kind of test, a portal that you felt you needed to pass through. When I realized that it was no longer a joke, that perhaps it never had been, I did what any reasonable non-frat boy would do and stated emphatically that no, I would not place red hot metal against your skin, and that I didn't think anybody else should either. Brands are for cows, cows have much thicker skin than people, and I'm not even sure they enjoy it all that much. You really think a cow views getting branded like it's a fucking vision quest?
My failure to come through on my commitment pissed you off so much that you threatened to just do it yourself. You got as far as fetching the iron and a bag of charcoal from the quartermaster before you
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
VARICK: So, what's twenty-five times twenty-five?
ME: Six-hundred twenty-five.
VARICK: Allright. What's twenty-six times twenty-six?
ME: (thinks for a few seconds) Six-hundred seventy-six.
Varick takes a moment to work it out on paper, eyeing me suspiciously the whole time.
VARICK: Nope, not quite. Okay, I'll send the next guy in to finish up the interview. Nice to meet you!
You left the paper upon which you had performed your calculations on the table in front of me. After you left, I pulled the paper over and checked your work. I had been right! I was going to be pissed if I didn't get a job because you sucked at math.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I remember once on a campout, you let me borrow Cypress Hill's first tape. Wow, there's an image for you: two white boys in scout uniforms jamming to Cypress Hill. How gangster is that?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Except I didn't play football, and I never sat in any of your classes. No, you and I came into contact when you landed the job of assistant soccer coach. It was immediately apparent that you knew very little about the game. But what you lacked in soccer knowledge, you made up for with your ability to make some motherfuckers run some laps. You also totally rocked at getting mad. We weren't the worst team in the district, but we were pretty far from the best, so we did endure a few ass-kickings. I remember near the end of one particularly bloody slaughter, you called a time-out so that you could scream at us. "I don't care if you have to punch somebody, just make something happen!" I'm pretty sure we failed you in that regard. Ah well, I'm sure you had a La-Z-Boy and a six pack to go home to.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Your first day back to school was a field trip day. Everybody was so happy to have you back, I remember the morning assembly felt almost a bit celebratory. I still remember your great big oversized jolly kid face, and how it would light up when you shouted "Party hardy!" I think that was like your catch phrase. I hope you've grown from a great big dorky jolly kid into a great big dorky jolly adult.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I can't say exactly why that dream was so perfectly Chris, I just know that it was. You were, in fact, a fan of jazz, and you did play the drums, and you did have some level of familiarity with bongs, but I hate to suggest that this was the be-all end-all of your person. Perhaps some real life examples of your Chris-ness could elucidate the matter.
Outside of the dream realm, you and I made friends one summer working at camp. It was my 18th summer, your 20th. I remember my age because I had just graduated high school, and I remember your age because you were just one year shy of being able to buy us alcohol. Every week, you and I were in charge of taking all the kiddos who had signed up to learn about wilderness survival out into the middle of the woods so that they could build shelters and get all survivalist with it. We'd build a nice big fire, then sit around and tell ghost stories until it was time to send the kids off to sleep on the cold hard ground under their lean-to's . Hey kid, it's the wilderness, them's the breaks. You want your merit badge or not? Once the young'uns were all down, you and I and whichever other staff members had tagged along would sneak over to the dried up riverbed next to the campsite to smoke cigarettes and shoot the shit until the wee hours of the morning. I'm going to estimate that about 48% of our conversation centered around girls - I even still remember the name of the girl that you were madly in love with at the time. Kara this, Kara that. I eventually got to meet her, and had to concede that she was pretty hot. Your crush was well-founded.
Another 33% of our conversation was about music. We didn't have a lot in common on this one, save for classic rock. You were a jazz fiend, not to mention a Phish fan, a lover of all things improvisational, free-form, and complex, whereas I was at the height of my metal obsession. I think 18 is a good age to do that. In spite of these differences, you were cool enough to give me a ride to the Pantera concert, though I wasn't able to talk you into coming with me. You missed a hell of a show, man.
And the other 19%? I don't recall exactly, though they probably had to do with cigarettes, drugs, coworkers, kids, outdoor skills, Austin...oh yeah, Austin! You were already living in the city that was soon to become my home and attending the school that would become my alma mater. In fact, it was you who told me about cooperative living, and who first took me the co-op where I would eventually take up residence and meet my first wife. Weird that I can draw a connection between you two on a timeline.
Oh, and how could I forget New Orleans? One weekend, we ended up getting an actual 48 hours off instead of the usual 24 due to the fact that they decided to schedule all of the Mormon troops to come the same week. They apparently have some sort of Sunday travelling ban. So you and I and a few others hopped into a truck with a camper on the back and took off to New Orleans. Your folks lived there, so we had a free place to stay after we were done getting rip-roaring ridiculous. It felt odd driving back to Boy Scout camp after such a debauch of a weekend.
You ended up moving back to Louisiana not long after I moved to Austin, but I didn't take it too personally. I've tried to look you up a few times, but you have one of the most generic names possible. Of all the people I've lost track of, you're one of the ones I'd most like to see again.
Which reminds me, I'll say one thing for Sarah Palin: she's at least reminded me and the rest of the country that rednecks are not confined to the South. They're freakin' everywhere, even Alaska.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Monday, the boys attended their first day of actual day care, actual in this case referring to an entity outside of familial relations. See, when The Ash went back to work a few months ago, we placed the little fellows in the care of their grandparents. T'was an arrangement that seemed agreeable to all of us at the time, but alas, we finally reached the point where we had to concede that it simply wasn't working out for any of the parties involved. So we found a nice little place whose philosophies we agree with, whose facilities seem conducive to learning, and whose tuition will not require me to deliver pizza in the evenings or sell drugs on the weekends. As nice as the place seems to us, it must appear as the Gates of Hell through the eyes of my eldest son, for he has resisted going there with every ounce of resistant strength he could muster. Which of course makes our mornings that much more awesome. He's denied, he's debated, he's even attempted escape on foot.
Now I know, I know, it sucks to be two years old and tossed into daycare. But what I need to ask from you now, good people, is that you take all of that sympathy that you might be feeling for my children and direct it towards me. And maybe some for my wife too. For you see, my kids get plenty of sympathy and loving nourishment from the many people in their lives. And it's not as if they read the nice comments and emails that you leave on this blog. In fact, I'll let you in on a secret: I haven't even told them I have a blog. I'm still trying to figure out how I'll drop that bit of knowledge on their fuzzy little heads. So yeah, your sympathy would be much better spent on me than on the younguns. You understand.
Where was I? Oh right, the daycare defense mechanisms. Yeah, when denial, debate, and escape failed to achieve the desired effect, Henry went all Potter on me by summoning his toddler magic to make himself sick. "Sorry pops, I'm sick...can't go to daycare today. Too bad." I knew there were some my-kid-is-sick days to be had in my future, but I didn't think they'd come in the first week.
As it turned out, both boys were sick as little dogs, which meant they got to stay home Thursday and Friday. Devious move, little Holmes.
Oh yeah, and my Mom stayed in Houston to greet Ike. I asked her to come stay with us, but she opted to sandbag her house and put her furniture up on blocks. It's impossible to get old people to do anything. She's allright and her house is still standing. I guess maybe you can send some sympathy her way too.
Today, I went to one of my favorite coffee shops to bang out some homework, and I ended up doing all kinds of eavesdropping on the table next to me. In my defense, these two women were talking rather loud. I would've had to put on headphones to drown them out, but then I wouldn't have been able to listen to their conversation. They were both lamenting the difficulties that they've been having with their teenage sons. One of them is apparently mother to some kind of musical genius, and the other day he came home and announced that he's going to become a shaman. "Like a medicine man?" asked the other bewildered mother. There was little elaboration on how he intends to go about achieving this goal, but it sounded like a serious concern. I started to laugh, but then I remembered that teenage boys are in my future as well. How would I react to a shaman son? Would I too cry about it at the corner coffee shop? Hard to say at this point.
The boys are both feeling better, so tomorrow it's back to day care. But don't feel too bad for the little buggers. They're gonna be just fine.