Sunday, August 31, 2008

365 # 60: Shayne B.

In the pages of this blog, you have heretofore been referenced as "Hip-hop Show Buddy", though it should be noted that such events are hardly the only time we ever hang out. Still, we've managed to catch a few good ones together, you bald freak, you. You're the only friend I have with whom I can have an extensive conversation that we both punctuate with copious hip-hop references, and be certain that you'll/I'll catch the majority of it. And that, my man, is an awesome thing to have in one's life.

You're yet another one of those people that I'm happy to no longer be the boss of. It's kind of weird now that I ever was in a position to tell you what to do, especially since you A) are several years older than me, and B) take work a lot more seriously than I do, both facts that I give you endless shit over. We've been friends now for a good 8 years and some change, had a hell of a lot of fun, bitched endlessly about work, and talked each other through various relationship issues we've had along the way. There was usually beer involved.

I remember this one party that The Ash and I hosted at our old house in our pre-kid days. You and your wife were in attendance. About 2 in the morning, you and I decided that the absolute most perfect thing in the world would be to hear "99 Problems" at full fucking volume. We managed to piss off both our ladies at the same time. But really, if you can't play "99 Problems" at full blast in the middle of the night, is that really a world worth living in? I ask you.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

365 # 59: Danzig

You were not a fan of the music of Glenn Danzig, nor were you Glenn Danzig himself. But you had a pretty heavy metal look about you, and the nickname stuck. You were, In fact, a music major whose primary instrument was the guitar, which meant that every time you were among the hanger-outers in my room, I got to watch you play my guitar in ways it had never even dreamed of being played. I rarely bothered picking it up when you were around for fear of making an idiot of myself.

Friday, August 29, 2008

365 # 58: Clint L.

Okay, now technically, I didn't steal your girlfriend. I didn't even know that the two of you had ever dated, much less that you hadn't actually completely broken up when she and I started getting friendly. In fact, it came as a total surprise when she sprang that bit of news on me. "You were/are dating WHO?" I wonder if that should have been a sign. It's not that you were particularly huge or strong or anything. It's just that you were kind of crazy. And it's just not wise to go head to head with crazy. That's how people get cut.

I knew I would have to face you the next morning since you sat in front of me in Mr. Pecoraro's chemistry class. You sauntered in several minutes late, eyeballing me the whole time, which only added to my tension. After you sat down at your desk, you turned around and said something to the effect of, "So, you wanna talk about this or settle it some other way?" My first thought was "card game?"

In spite of all that fantastically teenage drama, we never ended up talking or doing anything about it, which worked out well for me since otherwise, my ass would have been grass. Glad we could work that out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

365 # 57: Zeb

I suspect that the name you went by was probably short for something else, though I never knew what. I knew that you were from Kenya, and that you were the janitor at the small private school I attended from Kindergarten up through sixth grade. You were probably the friendliest guy in the whole building. I know you and I spoke many times, but I remember one conversation in particular when you told me that you were going to night school at the University of Houston. It wasn't until years later that I had an inkling of an understanding what that meant, that you were trying to make a better life here in a new country. I hope you made it.

Four years

So it's true: I did not post yesterday. No recollections, fond or otherwise, of some old friend, ancient enemy, impossible crush, wise elder, or anybody else for your perusal. But that, my friends, is because yesterday was the 4th anniversary of the day that my Ash and I swore up and down in front of God and everybody that we would be husband and wife. I had thought I would toss something up here yesterday about it, but you know what I did instead? You know what I did, huh, huh? You'll never guess. I went ahead and used yesterday's free time to actually enjoy celebrating with my wife instead of blogging about the thing I was gonna be celebrating. And I wrote words that were just for her, not for the internets. I still haven't figured out how to do a thing and blog about it at the same time and give both equal attention, though I think it's less my shortcoming and more the lack of available liveblogging direct-from-the-brainwaves dictation technology. Which kinda sucks because my posts always sound better in my head.

But yes, four years of marriage we've made it through. It feels like we've done so much, and yet that timespan, four years, it sounds so short. I'm lucky to have had these years with this woman, and to have the promise of more in front of me. I gots love in my life, and it's a beautiful thing. I wish the same for every one of you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

365 # 56: Travis W.

Hey man, I knew you were a little bit out there, know what I'm sayin? It didn't take a detective to figure out you'd done a drug or nine in your day. You functioned well enough in the real world...

"But what is the real world, maaaaaan?"

Hey, quit interrupting my post about you, ya fuckin hippie. As I was saying, you were functional enough, but it was clear that your head and heart were off in some other sector of reality most of the time. Interestingly enough, Boy Scout summer camp was actually a pretty good environment for you to work in. I remember one night, you and I were sitting outside of somebody's tent playing guitars, and you told me how you'd travelled through space and time to another dimension where Jimmy Page himself had taught you how to play "Stairway to Heaven." Clearly, you were out of your mind because you couldn't play that song for shit.

Monday, August 25, 2008

x365: All we ever have is now

So it would seem that this blog has been taken up almost completely by the x365 project, which I guess is what happens when you say you're going to post on a certain subject every single day, and up to that point you've been doing good to post maybe once a week. The other day, my wife asked me what the point is of this project. It's a fair question, considering that it has quite a navel-gazing quality about it, along with the fact that it means I now spend more time blogging than I was before. In truth, the whole thing started off as little more than a writing exercise, a way to force myself to write at least some tiny little bit every day. One might think of my moods as a stupidly delicate ecosystem, and in order to keep things in an optimal state, it's best if I keep proper amounts of certain things cycling through at regular intervals, one of those things being writing. I just sorta need it, even when it's not good, even when it doesn't come easy, even sometimes when I don't particularly want to. Hence my dive headfirst into the x365 project.

But beyond just writing, it seems to have taken on additional purpose. I'm 32 now. None of us are granted a damn thing in terms of life span, but assuming I am blessed enough to reach the upper ends of the average, I have maybe another 40 years to go, meaning that I'm just a little under halfway there. So being at this point and scanning backwards over the people that have come through, and in some cases gone on, I'm surprised both by how much I remember and how much I've forgotten. There are some people and events that shine so clearly in my memory, these tiny beautiful Moments that refuse to be forgotten no matter how many years have passed since they occurred. They were the kinds of things I knew I'd probably always remember as soon as they happened. Then there are the fuzzier bits, the ones I have to struggle to piece together, and I wonder if perhaps my mind is rewriting history, thus turning my past into some kind of personal legend. Then there's the stuff that's just gone. I have these faces in my mind, some of which even have an associated name, and I know that at one point, this person and I had some kind of some something or other, but I'll be damned if I can come up with a single meaningful memory to stick with them.

Through all of these though, there is one constant, although I'm not sure I'm quite wordsmith enough to explain it in a way that will make sense, but here goes anyway. In each of these times, each of these periods, I remember feeling a sort of absoluteness about where I was. The moment I was inhabiting and the things that had led up to it were all there was. The future was out there somewhere, but the period I was in and the people and things I cared about at that particular moment were what mattered while I was there, and there was no thought in my mind that I would one day forget this particular version of Now.

I don't mean this to sound like I'm freaking out about forgetting my life. I'm not all of a sudden on some mission to document every moment so that I won't ever forget it so that...well, I'm not really sure what the point of that would be exactly. It's just that, in this focus on the past, I seem to have brought myself around to my focus on the present. Today I am a husband and father in my early 30's with a toddler and a baby. In a few years, I'll hopefully still be a husband and father, but I'll be in my mid 30's with two little boys. When I get there, I'll remember some of the things that are happening right now, but some things will be gone. But just because a moment may be forgotten at some point down the road doesn't make it any less valuable, any less worth living fully and completely in, any less beautiful. In fact, its fleetingness may make it even more a thing to be cherished.

So I'm going to keep it up with the x365 project, but don't interpret that to mean that I'm somehow stuck in the past. Life outside this blog goes on.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

365 # 55: Londie M.

I never thought I would find myself in my mid-twenties being able to make sentences that included the term "my ex-wife." Guys in their mid-twenties don't have ex-wives. Ex-wives are for guys in their 50's with mustaches and hair plugs, and who drive red sports cars and play golf and smoke cigars while slipping bills to strippers. These are guys named George or Bert or Bob. They have trophy wives they despise and college-age kids whose names they mix up. Such is the profile of the man with an ex-wife, or so I thought, for there I was, smack dab in the middle of my 20's and a bonafide dee-vor-say. And you were the ex-wife who also hardly fit the profile.

But maybe that's not the best place to start, because before you were my ex, you were my wife, and before that you were my girlfriend, and before that, you were the seemingly shy girl who lived down the hall from me in the co-op where I spent the last two years of college. I asked you out at a party, but then I got worried you would think I was insincere because I'd been drinking, so I re-asked you out again the next day. By the time the year was over, we were ready to move in together, an act that your Catholic career-military father was none too thrilled over. He thought he could bring us around to his way of thinking by cutting you off financially, including your tuition. I felt like I was flipping the old man the bird when I wrote that first tuition check.

We lived in sin like that for the next couple of years, during which time your family gave us a grudging sort of acceptance. We finally relented and tied the knot after having been together for three whole years. We succeeded in upsetting your parents yet again by not having a Catholic wedding, but seeing as how neither one of us were Catholic, that would have been sort of a silly thing to do.

Over the course of our relationship, I watched you go from shy and quiet to opinionated and outspoken, from Sunday morning mass to Friday afternoon protests, from weepy girl ballads to punk rock. I'm not about to take even a shred of credit for this metamorphosis, I can only say that I was there and I watched it happen. It was a great thing to watch you become the person you were supposed to be.

It's kind of funny, but after we broke up, we realized that we should have just stayed boyfriend/girlfriend and saved a lot of the trouble that comes with breaking up as a married couple. But hey, in your early 20's, a three year relationship is fucking forever. Some people are meant to marry young and stay together forever, but you and I were not among them. Things all came to a screeching halt exactly one week shy of our first wedding anniversary. It was a breakup done the way they should be, with loads of anger and tears and weeknights spent drinking way too much Mickey's and bitter arguments over the division of the CD collection and even a bit of hate-sex thrown in. Funny thing, before it all went to shit, we had planned a vacation to San Diego. We went ahead and took the trip since we had already bought the tickets, and while it didn't totally suck, it definitely goes down as the weirdest vacation ever.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

365 # 54: Jamie H.

9th grade: my first foray into the institution of public school. I had gone to private school up until then, and was now entering an educational facility approximately 10 times larger than any I had previously experienced. I knew all of one person, and I had not a single class with him. You're one of the very first people I remember meeting my first day of school when you sat in front of me in first period history class. You were on drill team, then later became a cheerleader, loved to sing in all of the musicals that I despised (yet still ran lights for), and you ran in all of the accompanying crowds. In other words, you were sort of a bizarro me. In spite of that, we still managed to be friends through all four years of high school. In a setting that is so rife with divisions and categorizations, it's always nice when people can just shut up and be friends with one another.

Friday, August 22, 2008

365 # 53: Robert H.

You started every lesson with about five minutes of random wank-off noodling, complete with all the cornball guitar faces ever to come out of the 70's and 80's. Perhaps it was meant to show me how great I could be if I practiced for 12 hours a day and adopted the David Lee Roth look that you had so perfected. It truly was an uncanny resemblance. Rock was your thing, but you didn't seem to like any of this new school stuff I was interested in learning how to play. Still, I can credit you with pointing me towards the blues as the key to understanding rock. I like to think you're still out there somewhere getting paid to teach teenagers how to play "Purple Haze."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

365 # 52: Yasmin K.

A moving vehicle. Our characters are in the middle of a conversation about The Flaming Lips. Please note that the conversation that actually took place may have been significantly less clever.

YASMIN: Oh my God, I love The Flaming Lips. Love them!

HOLMES: Yeah, I saw them open for Tool once.


HOLMES: I saw The Flaming Lips open for Tool once.

YASMIN: (practically spitting the word out) Tool?


YASMIN: Shut up, you did not.

HOLMES: Yes I did.

YASMIN: No you didn't.

HOLMES: Yes I did.

YASMIN: Shut up.

HOLMES: But I did.

YASMIN: (increasingly agitated) No you didn't.


YASMIN: You did not! You're lying!

HOLMES: I'm not lying!

YASMIN: The Flaming Lips?


YASMIN: Opened for fucking Tool?


YASMIN: You're lying.

HOLMES: No I'm not. I saw 'em when I was 17. It was them and this other band called Failure.

YASMIN: Failure? That's a real nice name.

HOLMES: They went on first, then The Flaming Lips, then Tool. Oh, and The Flaming Lips came out all covered in Christmas lights.

YASMIN: The Flaming Lips did not open for Tool.

HOLMES: Yes they did because I saw it.

YASMIN: No you didn't.

HOLMES: Yes I did.

YASMIN: There's no way.

HOLMES: Whaddaya mean there's no way?

YASMIN: There's no way The Flaming Lips opened for Tool.

HOLMES: Well there must be a way because it happened and I saw it.


HOLMES: I went with my friend Chad. I'll call him and he can vouch for me.

YASMIN: No he can't because it's not true.

HOLMES: I'll call him and you can ask him who we saw open for Tool when we were 17 years old.

Proceeds to dial

YASMIN: I don't believe this.

HOLMES: (into phone) Hey man, what's going on?....Hey, I need a favor real quick...I have somebody here who wants to ask you about that Tool show we saw....Yeah, here I'm gonna hand her the phone.

Hands over the phone.

YASMIN: (into phone) So I understand you saw Tool?...Uh-huh...Who opened for them?...The Flaming Lips...Are you sure?...You're sure?...I don't believe this...Okay....Okay, fine. Fine!

Shoves phone back to Holmes

HOLMES: (into phone) Allright, thank you sir....Yep, that's it....Allright.

Hangs up.

HOLMES: I told you.

YASMIN: Whatever.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

365 # 51: Howie

Apparently, the Social Facilitator position that you occupied for a short time at the co-op where we were living was supposed to contain some sort of educational component. I guess you were supposed to set up events where people could get socialized and educated all at the same time. You kind of ignored that side of your job, opting instead to just pick up a keg every now and then and announce to the whole house to come hang out on the sun deck after dinner. Social facilitating at its finest, and it was totally cool with me and most of the other residents. Hell, I was glad to give you a ride to the beer store so we could bring the keg back in my truck. I liked how you called every store "the beer store" if we were going there to get beer. Grocery store? Beer store. Gas station? Beer store. If the library sold beer, it would've been the beer store. You know man, I'm thinking libraries should sell beer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

365 # 50: Stephen C.

You provide a perfect illustration for why I should never be allowed to be anyone's boss, ever, no matter what the environment or the circumstances. It's not that I can't effectively tell people what to do or move a group of people towards accomplishing a collective goal. It's just that I always seem to end up caring about the people in my charge, even if it is just a stupid call center job. And that caring shit sucks sometimes. I knew you had been into all that gangster culture in the past, and that you'd done some stupid shit here and there, but that was the past. And in the present that was then, you were gainfully employed and doing an absolutely outstanding job. You were one of the best members of my team, so good in fact that people started requesting you when they called because they felt like you knew how to get things taken care of. It was great having you around.

And then you started missing work. And then you were gone for several days at a time, and we all started wondering, "Where the hell is Stephen? Has anybody heard from Stephen?" But nobody had. And then one day you called me at work, rambling practically incoherently about how sorry you were, and how you wanted to be a good person and do the right thing and get right with God. I hadn't the slightest idea what to say to you.

And then a few days later, we heard you'd been arrested. Armed robbery. I can't even begin to express how disappointed I was. And in the back of my mind, I felt this slight twinge of guilt for not having had more wisdom to drop on you when you called me, like I'd failed you somehow. I don't know if you're still locked up or what, but I hope you find your way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

365 # 49: Jeff W.

Bowling ball? Is that the best insult you could come up with to hurl at the fat kid that was me in high school? It must have been since it was the only one you ever used, you unimaginative prick. But what else should I have expected from a kid that wore Cavariccis to school every day of 9th grade?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

365 # 48: Mike N.

I remember this one time that you and I signed up to write some songs for a play that we were in together. Our creative process consisted of you coming over to my apartment with your guitar, the two of us getting good and fucked up, and then writing a series of unbelievably brilliant songs about a girl and her shitty pets. What a great way to spend an evening.

It surprised me the other day when I realized that I've known you for over a decade. That seems like an impossibly long time since we first met, but there it is, the undeniable fact. In that time, we've been in no less than five plays together, put a hell of a lot of shit in our bodies, and quoted Bill Hicks with such fervency that one would think he was our messiah...which perhaps he was. Oh, and then there was that brief period where I was your boss when we were working in the same cubicle farm. That could've been awkward if you and I weren't both cool as shit. It was during that same time that we were both cast in "Romulus." Both of our characters were supposed to look pretty grimy, so we both let our hair and our beards go to hell. It was fun seeing each other at work like that. Your character was supposed to have been a P.O.W. for the last few years. To achieve the right look, you went so far as to let every member of the cast cut a chunk of your hair off with a pair of scissors. You looked like fantastic shit.

These days, you're a dad and a firefighter, both of which trip me out. The dad part because it's always a trip when any of your friends reproduce, and the firefighter part because, well, I mean, come on man, you're kind of scrawny. How do you carry all that heavy shit? I guess you manage somehow. Truth is man, of all the friends I've made over the years, there's probably none that makes me laugh as much as you do. I'm glad you're still around. Or that I'm still around. Whatever. Shit, I know as soon as I hit publish on this post, I'm going to remember something else I should've included. Fuck it, here's a video for you.

Who's been teaching my kid synonyms for the dirty-dirty?

THE ASH: Henry, what are your trains doing? What are your trains doing?

THE HOLMES: Fornicating?

HENRY: Boinking?

Wha? Where he got that silly word from is a mystery. This term, "boinking," we do not use this word in our house. Also a mystery is what possessed me to blurt out that the trains were fornicating. We all know that trains, like teenagers who have had abstinence-only sex education, don't engage in that sort of thing. Unheard of. Maybe I was secretly hoping that Henry would pick up on it and start repeating it at random, and I could be all "that's right, four syllables baby."

Oh, and check this out. This is a picture of Henry playing his newest game:

It's called Blind Thomas Bumper Ghost. The object is to walk around underneath a Thomas blanket and not bash your head into a doorknob or fall down the stairs or otherwise injure yourself in a manner that could have been avoided if you didn't have a blanket over your head and could see. I suppose I could have done something more to intervene besides steering him away from the more dangerous blocks in his path, but that would have ruined the fun for everybody. Every obstaculary encounter was met with an examination of the obstacle in question and a stoic declaration of "I'm okay!", followed by immediate return to gameplay. I want to believe there was a time when I was this easily amused.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

365 # 47: Manon B.

Other than the facts that we were both carbon based life forms that lived in the same city, both had white skin and brown hair, both spoke English as our first language, both required food, water, and shelter in order to survive, both drove American cars, both worked 9 - 5 jobs, both enjoyed beer and Mexican Food, were both single at the time, and seemed to enjoy each other's company, we had pretty much nothing in common. Still, it was nice to have somebody to spend that Valentine's Day with.

Friday, August 15, 2008

365 # 46: James Joyce's Granddaughter

Christmas Eve, 2002. The Ash and I were in the cold old city of Boston, Mass, spending our first holiday as a couple alone, far away from the pokings and proddings of our families. The two of us were out on the deserted street in front of our hotel when we spotted you walking, no, stumbling up the block.

"Oh, it's an old lady" said The Ash. "We should help her."

You were moving pretty slow, so we caught up to you easily. Indeed you were a bit elderly, though your hair was bright red and you were clearly dressed for a night out. You seemed to us to be at the end of your evening, so we thought we would help you into a cab and send you on home. Instead, you demanded that we get in the cab with you.

"Know of any pubs around here?" you asked us, your English accent slurred by no telling how many drinks you had already downed that night. Lucky for us out-of-towners, the driver knew where to go.

"Oh, I've never been to this particular pub before" you told us as we helped you inside. The three of us soon found ourselves seated atop barstools, surrounded by a bar full of other holiday revelers who gave not a damn what St. Nick might think of their doings. We tossed back pints while you told us about being James Joyce's granddaughter, a claim which almost certainly was not true. Every few minutes, you would hold up your glass and shout "To Texas!" and take another swig. I doubt that the English have ever paid warmer respects to my home state. It seemed to please you every single time.

Hours later, The Ash and I had had enough, but you were still going strong. On our way out, we asked the bartender if they could be sure you got into a cab okay. "Oh, she's here all the time, she's cool." The Ash and I caught a cab back to our hotel. The cry of "To Texas!" became our default toast after that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

365 # 45: Dr. Moore

Around junior high, I decided I was going to be a veterinarian when I grew up. I wonder how I would have felt back then if I had known I would still be trying to answer the what to be when I grow up question at the age of 32. Anyway, my mom arranged with you vet guys to let me come spend the day hanging out at your office watching y'all doctor up some animals. I got to wear one of those badass white coats, sit in on exams, help prep exam rooms, hold animals still for shots, all that cool shit. I remember everybody in the office having to pitch in to hold that doberman still for a shot. I remember noticing how the gentleman who had brought in the lizard that had lost its appetite looked rather lizard-like himself.

I'll never forget the first neutering I witnessed. I don't remember if it was a dog or a cat, but I do remember the sight of that first bloody ball sitting on the operating table, still and purposeless. It seemed so sad by itself, though it didn't seem much happier when its partner came to join it by its side.

Then there was that dog that you had to put to sleep. You left it up to me whether or not to sit in on it, and for some reason I couldn't keep away. I had to sit quietly in your office for a little while after that. I remember wondering if I would be able to do that.

Hey, remember how that one old lady brought in that little dog and I walked into the exam room before you guys and started examining it and asking her questions like I was the vet? I thought I was pretty convincing, but in retrospect, probably not. Thanks for not getting mad about that. I was only asking the questions I'd heard you ask all day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

365 # 44: Eddie P.

You were the first funny kid I knew, my first encounter with a bonafide class clown. But unlike most pint-sized comedians, your delivery was dry and deadpan, never corny or goofball. I remember wondering where you learned to think up jokes so fast. Could I too acquire this skill? Would you teach me?

We went to that private Baptist school together up until sixth grade, so we learned all the same stuff about God and religion all together at the same time. Ya know, like how if you don't believe in God's eternal unconditional love for you, you'll go to Hell? Years later, Chad and I ran into you at a concert. "Man, remember how strict they used to be?" you asked. "They were all like, 'Say Jesus! SAY IT!'" Hooray for elementary school salvation anxiety.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

365 # 43: Laurie P.

You know, now that I think about it, I really gave you a ton of shit, but you were really good at giving it right back. You were my boss one of the first summers I worked at camp, and even though you were only a few years older than any of the guys on your team, you had a way of making sure we all knew who was in charge without being bossy. You didn't let us get away with being stupid idiots, either. You recognized that we weren't just out in the woods having a big fuckoff party, we were actually there to do a job that might just make a tiny little difference in some kids' lives. Though I have to say, the way your eyes bugged out of your face when you got mad sometimes made it hard to take you completely seriously.

Of course, off-duty hours were a different story. I believe you were party to my first couple of experiences with excessive amounts of alcohol. The very first time was in a field somewhere in the acreage of the Boy Scout property where we worked. I woke up the next morning under the sky, covered in chigger bites. I had to make up a story to tell the scouts and scoutmasters later on that day. And to think, all those years as a camper, I assumed the staff was peopled with angels.

In the summers after that, I went on to work in other areas. We were still friends, but you had this habit of dating a new guy every summer and then ripping his heart to shreds by the end. And they were always friends of mine, which meant I always felt sort of torn. I never dated you so I don't know what was so great about it, but summer after summer, you reduced many a dude to wracking sobs. But now that I think about it, I can't say I blame you too much. I mean, if I'd worked at, say, Girl Scout Camp, and had my pick....ya know, I'm just gonna stop that thought right there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Two boys with wills of their own

My memory must be shot. That's all I can figure. That might be an odd thing to say while in the midst of this little x365 project of mine which relies so very much on my memory, but here's the deal: it seems like every time my youngest does something new, I ask myself, "Did Henry do this when he was this age?" And most of the time, I simply can't remember. For example: now that Simon is crawling, he has demonstrated an intense attraction for all things dangerous. Place him on the floor equidistance from a teddy bear, a stack of hundred dollar bills, and the button to activate the doomsday device, which by the way is covered with lots of jagged metal edges that are in turn covered with germs, and he'll go for the button every time. I seem to maybe recall Henry being this way, but it may very well be one of those false memories that got intermingled amongst the real ones. Blame the government. All I know is that I can't leave Simon alone in my beartrap closet for a second.

Sunday, I let The Ash win that round of The Great Who Gets To Sleep In This Beautiful Weekend Morning? Debate, which isn't really all that noble of me since she lets me win it all the time, but I will accept your praise anyway. I know that doesn't sound like such a fantastic way to start the day, but a few hours of playing with the boys first thing in the AM put me in a pretty splendid mood. Henry has turned into a not yet three year old teenager as of late, and while such a creature may be preferable to a zombie or a werewolf or a recently laid-off badger, it is not necessarily pleasant to have around all the time. Many sentences out of his mouth end with "RIGHT NOW!" I swear he's almost mastered the Sneer Of Disgust With Absolutely Everything, Especially You Old Man. So it was just nice to have some straight-up fun with him and his baby bro.

In the afternoon, our house was host to a gaggle of gardening moms who came over to talk about gardening and momming. One lady brought over her son, who was just a little older than Henry. She promptly entrusted him to my care without so much as a background check or a thank you. But hey, it's cool I watched the both of them play while Simon looked on, eagerly wishing to get in on the action. And may I offer an observation? Other people's kids are just weird. They do weird stuff. They say freakish things. Don't misunderstand, I don't mean to say that my own children represent the baseline for normality. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I say "other people's…", I mean it as the kind of phrase any parent could use. Your kids are weird to me. My kids are aliens to you. It doesn't mean they're not totally awesome.

365 # 42: Blanca

At least that's the name I always heard you called whenever people talked about you. There's a picture of you and I that must have been taken when I was around two years old. I'm sitting in a dry birdbath, the one in the yard at my grandparent's old house in the Rio Grande Valley, and you're standing behind me to make sure I don't fall. We're both smiling. And if I think really hard, I swear I can call up real memories of you. Just flashes though. I don't really know anything at all about you other than that you were from Mexico, you didn't speak much English, and you were the caretaker that my mom hired to watch me while she ran her restaurant. From what I've been told, I frequently carried messages between the two of you. You'd tell me something in Spanish, then I'd go tell my mom in English, then she would send me back to you with another message, which I would render to you in Spanish. How weird to think that I was once fluent in a language that now eludes me, save for what I learned in Spanish classes and from just living in Texas. If my oldest son is any indication at all of what kind of kid I was, all I can say is sorry, and thanks. I hope my family treated you well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

365 # 41: Uncle Bubba

Technically, you were my friend's uncle, but in truth, you were the kind of guy who was every kid's cool uncle. You always treated me just like one of your own nephews. You liked to send us all cards with stickers and sometimes even a few dollar bills. And every year, you took all of your nieces and nephews, both real and adopted, to the circus. Thank you so much for everything.

Some antibiotics ought to clear that up

I think this camera-phone ownership thing agrees with me.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

365 # 40: Andy S.

At least I think that was your last name. Anyway. One night, you and I were bored with sitting around camp, so we hopped into your truck, cruised into San Marcos, and stole a chair from Mr. Gatti's. Now how gangster is that?

Thanks for driving the get-away truck.

Friday, August 08, 2008

365 # 39: Robert H.

You and me, buddy, we were partners in this thing called rock and roll. You behind the drums and me on guitar. Other players stepped in every now and then to add a little bass or maybe a second guitar, but you and I formed the core of the group, the band that we never quite got around to naming. We rocked so hard that we once drove your dogs to run away from home. Ooh shit, your mom was pissed. Lucky for us she caught them.

We originally met because we were both tech theater dorks in high school. I ran lights and you held things down on the audio. The cast for each play changed, but it was always us behind those consoles keeping shit tight. Being immature high school kids, we partnered up in an ongoing onslaught against our theater teacher's sanity. We weren't the only troublemakers in her class, but we seemed to get away with more than most, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that we were the only ones who knew how to use the lighting and sound equipment. Running tech for a play involves a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, which meant you and I spent hours talking. Didn't take long to become friends.

Random memory: you had that crappy old VW Beetle with the hole in the floor under the passenger's seat, which I discovered one day when you ran over a puddle and I got drenched. You laughed your ass off.

So we did some theater together and played some music together, and that's all nifty and everything, but what I'm having a hard time with now is finding a smooth segue into talking about how you were one of my absolute best friends back then. I don't have any smoother way of saying it than that. And not that you needed to prove it, but you most certainly did later on after high school when I went and got myself into all that trouble, and you were there, along with Amy and Diane, to help me see sense. In fact, you were the one to start the conversation, to basically say, "look man, we need to talk about this, and we need to do it now."

Aside to readers: apologies for yet another post featuring vague allusions like the ones in the paragraph above. Perhaps more elaboration will be forthcoming later, but then again, perhaps not.

Anyway man, we haven't seen each other in years, but if you ever want to get the band back together, gimme a shout. Or maybe I'll give you one.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

365 # 38: Benji

I know I was a pretty uptight kid, but even in 4th grade, I knew that breaking one of the teacher's 6000 rulers was no big deal, certainly nothing to cry about in front of the whole class. I'm sorry for laughing at your distress, even though it was funny. I hope you've chilled since then, and that you don't go by "Benji" anymore.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

365 # 37: Aly B.

Oh dear Christ, did I ever have a crush on you, and it was about as mutual as the respect between a volcano and the tiny village situated at its foot. It was my freshman year at UT, 13th grade so to speak. I was friends with your two brothers, neither of whom you resembled much at all, lucky you. The first time I saw you was this one weekend when you came to visit them. I happened to be sitting in your brother Eric's room when you walked in, and the crush fuse just overloaded and tripped, thereby shutting down all the power to my brain.

Eventually, I was able to actually open my mouth and speak, but talking to you just served to make me like you more. You ended up digging on my buddy Mike, which, ya know, sucked. I felt just like Adrock when he saw that girl he liked jocking Mike D to his dismay. Dismay, that just sounds like such a weak way to describe it, but I guess Adrock needed to make a rhyme.

Obviously, both Adrock and I figured out how to bounce back, but for my part, I had to get a little emo with it first. I must say, you were never once cruel about it, and you very easily could have been. I remember this one particular moment that occurred after I had pretty much given up. I had a tee-shirt for that crappy band that we were all into. What the hell were they called? The Last Wish? What a ridiculous fucking name for a band, it makes me seriously dislike them in retrospect. Anyway, I gave the shirt to you on a random whim for no real reason at all, and the sincerity of your gratitude was overwhelming. Painful almost. When I saw you wearing it for the first time, I tried to act nonchalant, but I was secretly thrilled. I wonder if you still have it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

365 # 36: Jay M.

Sometimes at work, I tend to get a little bit too involved in the music that I have pumping into my brain via my headphones. On more than one occasion, I've had a coworker come by my desk to talk about something, only to catch me in the middle of a decidedly unprofessional head-bobbin-to-the-beat session. Totally Micheal Bolton in "Office Space." The first time you and I met was one such occasion. It was your first day at work on your new job doing tech support. I'd been there a few months, so they sat you with me to "train."

"What are you listening to?"

"The Roots."

And like that, we were friends, off and running. Funny how the topic of music can do that.

At some point, somebody decided that I should be put in a position of managing, telling them what to do and shit. You were placed on my team. It was cool having you around because you did a great job and you didn't sweat the small stuff, but it was powerfully awkward being in a managerial position with you. Not just because we had gotten to be friends outside of work, but also because, while I may be a reasonably intelligent fellow, you my friend are some kind of genius freak, and we both know it. Quit acting so humble. Stop it. Stop it right now!

A whole lot of people in Austin were sad when you moved away, myself included. I miss your fucked-up sense of humor and your ability to make sarcasm seem somehow fresh again. We're both dads now, so a lot of our conversations these days center around the awesomeness and sometimes not-so-awesomeness of our kids and of being the one called Pops. Last time you were in town, we spent half an hour playing with damn near every item in stock at the toy store. Judging by the conversations you were making some of those puppets have, I'd say that dark sense of humor of yours is still very much intact.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Everything Ends

I hit the road at 6:30 this morning. It's only a 2.5 - 3 hour drive to Houston, and the funeral wasn't until 10, but I wanted to be sure I made it on time. When I heard Heidi had passed, I didn't immediately think about going to the funeral. It wasn't until after I'd written about her that I realized, of course, of course I needed to go. It would be almost like missing a parent's funeral.

Saturday morning, my mom called. Heidi's daughter had asked if I would speak at the service. Just a few words, perhaps a funny story or some other special memory that would impart to those gathered a sense of the meaning of the life that had just come to a close. Being asked to speak at a funeral or a wedding is the kind of thing you really can't turn down. If worse came to worse, I could just print up my post about her and read that.

I met my mom in the parking lot of the funeral home and we walked in. There were a lot of people there that I didn't know, but who all remembered me from when I was a little kid. Which left us with not a lot to talk about. As is the style with modern funerals, there was a photo montage playing on repeat. One of the pictures was of me at about age 4 or 5 with a huge smile on my face, my arms wrapped around Heidi, looking exactly like my eldest son when he gives those kind of hugs.

I made it through what I had to say with a minimum of stutters, uhs, ums, and ya-knows. I actually did end up drawing on a few things I said in my post because they were simply the truest things I could say. I debated whether or not to mention the koala bear reincarnation bit, but decided it was the wrong crowd at the wrong time. I also tossed in an anecdote about how, when I was little, I was always a little hesitant about going out of town because Heidi always said she was going to barbecue one, if not all, of our cats. I was always relieved to come back and find them all alive and well. Eventually I figured out that she was kidding.

I had not seen any of Heidi's children in years. They all seemed a bit shell-shocked as the attendees proceeded past them to pay their respects. They seemed to just want the whole exhausting episode to be over. I could see how each of them had grown into looking like one or the other of their parents. Tina looks just like her mom. The youngest son pulled me into a hug and thanked me for what I'd said. I was glad I'd come. It would've been wrong not to.

365 # 35: Stacia H.

Perhaps it's because I attended a funeral today (more on that later), but I'm kind of in a mood to think upon youth and vitality, as opposed to old age and infirmity. I guess that's why you came to mind. You were the first baby I ever held in my arms. This was back in college, so you would be almost a teenager by now. I remember thinking, "Okay, this isn't so hard. I can totally handle this. Nothing to sweat." Of course, you weren't anywhere near as squirmy as my kids, or otherwise I'm sure I would have been yelling for someone, anyone to "take this thing before I drop it."

It's just too bad that your pops was a preacher in a freaky-weird cult of a church, and your mom was his glassy-eyed servant wife. But hey, at least you'll have plenty to rebel against. I certainly hope you do.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

365 # 34: Matt H.

Your dad taught at the tiny private school where I attended 7th and 8th grades. Because of the school's size, you inevitably ended up in your dad's classroom, not to mention the school basketball team that he coached. These situations brought up some tense moments every now and then. I stayed over at your house a few times, and the relationship between you two didn't seem any warmer there.

I remember one of those overnight stays when we spent the entire day hiking along that bayou near your house, both armed with pellet guns that we used against unsuspecting street signs and the occasional bird. That was the most unsupervised and off-the-grid I had ever felt up to that point in my life.

I also recall that time that my mom took you and Robbie and I to that Rockets game and we made little vandals of ourselves. Never had so many condiments packets created so much mess for the glee of so few. Do you even remember who they played? Funny how the first two memories I have of you involve some form of mayhem and destruction, albeit of a mostly harmless nature. Were you the bad influence or was I? I suspect that it was a bit of both.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

365 # 33: Ben S.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, could pull off that whole dapper 1920's look the way you could. In fact, you didn't so much pull it off as much as you inhabited it. I don't know where you found some of those amazing clothes, but they were so perfectly you that on the occasions when I saw you in something like a tee-shirt, it was then that you looked bizarre. You carried yourself so naturally in a theater department chock full of attention whores all trying on this or that costumey look. I wanted to be your friend the first time we spoke.

I remember we bonded one day over cigarettes and a shared hatred of musicals. It can be painful to be a musical hating theater major because you are surrounded by people who are willing and ready to burst into song at any moment, as if to prove that people do in fact burst into song in real life, thereby proving that musicals have some kind of right to exist, which they do not. It was such a relief to find out that I was not the only one.

You quit school and headed off to clown college to become, well, a clown. When you came back to Austin, you brought along the love of your life, a girl you had met at clown college. Just sitting in a room and having a conversation with the two of you inspired a feeling of being an eight year old boy at the circus because you simply could not stop clowning. I loved the both of you.

Friday, August 01, 2008

365 # 32: Mr. Wood

Was it fifth or sixth grade that I was in your class? I can't even remember which subjects you taught, but I do remember that you directed our class play. I think that means that you get credit for originally introducing me to the dramatic arts. You cast me as the villain, a dark figure clad all in black, including a black cape, bushy black mustache, and black hat. Yes, at 4'6", I must have been quite frightening. I must have been complaining about having to play the bad guy because I have this very clear memory of you, with that jolly twinkle in your eye, telling me "But it's always more fun to play the bad guy." And it was as if something clicked into place. Of course, I thought, of course it's more fun to be the bad guy. Yeeeeeessss.

I've only had the chance to play the part of a "bad" guy a couple of times since then, but those have by far been the juiciest roles I've ever had. Thanks for helping me to understand that the dark side can be a real barrel of giggles.