Saturday, February 28, 2009

It walks among us

So it's true, the Simon has now advanced into the bipedal realm. I was sitting at the dinner table the other night when all of a sudden, Ashley gasped and said "Simon is walking." She was looking right over my shoulder. The look on her face, the tone of her voice, she could have been telling me that there was a snake slithering up the wall. I turned around and there he was, toddling along, eyes front, legs wobbly, belly leading the way. And he's been keeping at it ever since. remember that episode of The Simpsons, there's that moment where Nelson the Bully points at his own reflection and does his signature "Ha Ha!", but then frowns and says "Hey, that hurts. No wonder nobody came to my birthday party." Of course you remember it. Simon had a similar moment recently. You see, the kid's a biter. He gets the biggest kick out of sinking his teeth into his mom and I. And it doesn't seem to be just when he's teething, it can happen when he's in the best of moods. My shoulders bear teeth marks that may never completely go away. So the biting is Simon's "Ha ha." I was cradling him in my arms as he was falling asleep. He was just about off to dreamland, but part of him was still clinging to the waking world. He took my finger in one of his little baby hands and pulled it towards his mouth, as if to take a chomp. I took my finger back, but in his half asleep state, the little guy didn't realize. He put his own fingers in his mouth and bit down. "Hey," he said. "that hurts." "Yeah," I said. "Hurts like hell. Lucky you're cute."

Monday, February 23, 2009

That's it. I'm done

I've had it with the 365 project. It was fun for a time, I was stoked about it when it started, but now it's gotten to be more of a burden for me than anything. Sooooo, I'm done. I will not reach 365 people and I'm okay with that. Sorry if you were looking forward to my tribute to you. But there it is. God, that feels so much better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Hey folks,

I've got a guest post up over at MamaPop today. Check it out.

Now here is a picture of a kid and a monkey.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

365 # 153: Emily A.

You were one hell of a pun spinner, so much so that you could hold your own in any pun battle, a routine you engaged in on several occasions during rehearsals for the plays we were in together. Only a fool would dare approach with inferior punning skills. Beneath your sweet goofy exterior was the soul of a vicious competitor. Pun at your own risk.

I remember at the end of one show we were in, I was supposed to pick up your lifeless body, throw you over my shoulder, deliver a non-sensical monologue to the audience, roar, smack you on the ass, then march proudly off stage. The crowd responded so well that I got excited and I think I smacked you a bit harder than necessary. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

365 # 152: Les Sr.

We called you Looney Toons and your son Tiny Toons because you were both kind of nuts. You both had beards and long scraggly hair, yours gray and wiry and probably home to small birds, his red and poofy. Your brand of crazy was harmless enough that you could be trusted to teach young boys how to shoot guns. Not that the requirements for such a post are all that stringent.

Among your many quirks, I remember this one the clearest: you and I were scheduled to stand on the dinner serving line the same night every week. And every week, you made a point of always serving the broccoli just so that you could bark at the top of your weezy old lungs, "Treeeees! Getcher treeeeees here!" It never got old to you. If you have a flying fuck what anybody else thought of you, it never became apparent. Your fuck-all attitude is something I aspire to.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

365 # 151: Mark G.

I'll say this much for you, Mark. Your whole sleazebag-in-training routine made working in a mailroom much more entertaining than it would have been otherwise. You were so over the top with it, what with the political corruption you planned to participate in, the myriad ideas you had for screwing future clients, the various ways you claimed to have degraded any number of women and planned to keep on doing, it was easy to see the whole thing as some kind of performance art. Perhaps it was my way of coping with the fact that you existed. Every now and then, I would remember that the shit coming out of your mouth was not at all bullshit and become truly worried for the future of the planet. And you were smart enough to know that it's not the guy out front who calls the shots, it's the faceless ones hanging back in the shadows. And that's where you planned to be. You had the will, the resources, and seemed to lack only a diploma. Where ever you are, I'm sure you're rich, and I'm sure you're scheming.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Happy Song

So if yesterday's post with the most was about the songs that were implanted in my brain during my childhood, then today's is about the music being drilled into the skull filler of my own children. I guess it was about a couple of months ago that my eldest started developing his infatuation with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It started with just one song, "Pin", a 2 minute bit of rocking goodness that he affectionately dubbed with the alternate title of "Dinna Dinna" because of the chorus, which goes pretty much
As for the rest of the lyrics, I don't know. They might be dirty or they might be telling a story from a grenade's point of view or they might be about acupuncture gone horribly wrong or the plight of a mounted insect or something else entirely. Who am I to say? Sure, it's an awesome enough song, but it's only 2 minutes, and it's the only song he wanted to hear, and, well, have you ever listened to one 2 minute song over and over and over and over and over again? It's a pretty surefire way to start building a hatred towards a song, any song. But I have to wonder, if you pushed through the hatred and kept listening, would a certain type of madness set in? Would you begin to love and need the song in a sick desperate kind of way? Would you begin to identify with its plight, like some sort of musical Stockholm Syndrome?

I have no intention of carrying out this experiment. Our morning commute's a bit longer than two minutes, so I had to expand our listening into the rest of the band's repertoire. It took a bit of doing to convince Henry that there might actually be another song that he'd like, but he came around, and I figured out that as long as it was rocking enough, he would dig it. Of course, some of the songs have a bit of profanity, so you'll have to excuse the kid if he ever refers to you as a "no good di-i-i-i-i-i-i-ick" or tells you he's got a man that makes him wanna kill. He doesn't mean it.

So now we had a bit of variety in the music of our morning commute, though not quite enough. While we were no longer listening to just one song, we were still listening to just one band, which eventually has the same affect, though it takes longer to set in. One day, I'd just had enough. Much love to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I needed something else. I don't know why I chose it, but something else turned out to be "Gratitude" by the Beastie Boys. I popped it on, assuring the boychild that awesomeness was on the way. I watched his face in the rearview as the opening riff played. Then the lyrics. After the first verse, he asked me an interesting question.

"What's this one about, Daddy?"

Holy shit,
I thought, he knows that songs can be about stuff.

"It's, uh," think Holmes think, this is important! "It's about being happy!" Oh brilliant. "Yeah, it's about being happy with yourself and what you've got."

"Like with my toys?"

"Uh..." sort of? maybe? not exactly? "Sure!"

Since then, I've always been able to work in a bit of the Beastie Boys along with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, especially when I play "Gratitude" aka "The Happy Song." I had to take the boys with me to the store this evening and it happened to come up in the rotation. When we got home, Henry walked into the house and started singing to noone in particular.

"Gratitude. And that's riiight. Gratitude. And that's riiight."

Music to my ears.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Merle Fucking Haggard

Man, all's I know is that I got in the car the other day around lunchtime, turned it on, and the radio was parked on the public radio station where I left it that morning. And what comes out of my speakers but an Austin City Limits recording from the 70's of Merle Haggard singing his song, "Silver Wings."

And I just...sang.

I have not heard that song in a good two decades, but when I was a kid, I must have heard it a bajillion times on trips that my Mom and I took. Back then, my grandparents lived down in the Rio Grande Valley, so every time we went to see them -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, weeks during the summer -- we packed up the car and set out on an 8 hour journey down the Eastern leg of Texas. And along with our luggage and my arsenal of toys, we always packed up these two fake leather cassette tape carriers of my mom's, both filled to capacity with tapes of all the stuff she liked, mostly stuff that I would find absolutely torturous today, but that I liked just fine back then. Let's see, besides old Merle, there was George Strait, Lee Greenwood, Eddie Rabbitt, Alabama, Conway Twitty, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette -- I guess Dolly and Tammy are aight -- and, oh God, have you ever heard of this clown named, are you ready for this? Englebert Humperdinck. I think even as a kid, I gave my mom shit about that one, if only for his name.

So yeah, not exactly my current tastes. But when I heard that song, it just clicked and I knew every last word. I didn't even have to dig back into my memory, the lyrics were just right there. I can't say I particularly like that song all that much, but I like the associations, the pictures that come up when I think about it. I didn't even mind having it rolling around in my head for the rest of the afternoon.

God, music is just the best.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

365 # 150: Courtney W.

The first time I saw you, I thought you looked like Dana Delaney. I just looked at her on imdb and realized that the resemblance isn't as strong as I thought. At the time, I thought it was a good thing, complimentary even, but when I happened to mention it out loud, you seemed disappointed. Who did you want to look like?

The summer after I met you at UT, I was working at camp, and you sent me a letter. It arrived one day in a pink envelope, written on pink stationary in loopy girly handwriting. I don't even remember what it said, only that it made my day. Getting a letter in a pink envelope is much more exciting than any email could ever be.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

365 # 149: William T.

You told me that your mom worked at Tenneco. I found this utterly confusing since your mom was this proper little British woman who would not have looked out of place taking tea with the queen. I simply couldn't picture her wearing overalls with her name embroidered on the front, pumping gas and wiping windows. Later I figured out that you meant she worked in a tall building downtown, not some gas station on the corner. You were the first kid I knew who used words like "maaaan" and "dude." I told you that only cool people were supposed to use words like that, and you declared "I am! I am cool!" So awesome to have been so sure of your own coolness by first grade.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I'm a hustler, homey

Man, I don't know how my Mom did it.

See, I grew up the only child of a single mother. Pops was nowhere to be seen on the scene, so it was just me and Mom. Like most single moms, she had to work, which meant she had to arrange childcare for me. And even when I hit school age, she had to find one means or another to make sure I was taken care of after school got out every day, not to mention the summers. I remember being in at least two different daycare centers. I remember riding home from school with various friends' parents or teachers, staying an hour or two after school at different friends's houses. I remember watching TV at a neighbor's house while eating bowls of rice with soy sauce or spaghetti or pudding or whatever the hell she had available that day. Even after I got old enough to stay by myself at home, that same neighbor would check in on me to make sure I was allright. She came over one day while I was playing with some matches and asked why it smelled like smoke. I said I didn't know. She asked if I'd been playing with matches. I lied.

Another time, I had to stay with a different neighbor across the street. She put on the TV for me, but I had been grounded from TV for one reason or another -- probably for playing with matches -- and I was such an honest little shit, I actually told her that I wasn't allowed to watch TV. She looked at me funny.

My point is, it took a lot of people to watch over me growing up, some of them paid to do so, others out of the goodness of their hearts. And it must have taken a hell of a lot of hustling on my Mom's part to pull all this care together. At the time, it never felt like I was being shuffled around, but looking back at it through my parenting lense, I see there must have been a lot of behind-the-scenes scrambling to make this all happen. And she was all by herself.

Now The Ash and I are in that same boat. It's not our ideal situation, but our lives are such that we both have to work, which means we have to hook it up with care for the boyos. Our first couple of tries with daycare went horribly, but after much arranging and rearranging, we finally worked out a situation where Simon spends the day with his grandparents, while Henry spends the morning at a Montessori school and then joins up with Simon and the grandparents in the afternoon. It's never been a perfect situation, and in fact there's plenty of complaints that could be lodged against it, but it's at least kept everybody in one piece and mostly healthy most of the time.

Except now we're back in hustle mode. The Ash's folks have some bigger fish to fry these days, so the boys simply can't stay there anymore. In truth, this is a relief because our concerns about them staying have been growing in size and number. But all of a sudden, we find ourselves needing to find full time care for the both of them. By the time today had come to a close, we had worked it all out, but the arranging and the calling and the adding up the fucking cost of it all made for a bit of a trying day. I was ready for a stiff drink by the time lunch rolled around.

It's all gonna work out. I know this. It worked out for my Mom and I, and it'll work out for us now. I've always appreciated my Mom for taking care of me, but as I learn more and more about the nuts and bolts of this parenting shit, I appreciate her on a whole different level.

Gotta hit the sack. School tomorrow.

Monday, February 02, 2009

365 # 148: Eric

I was there when you bought your first lottery ticket ever, which won you $40. That accursed ticket was the hook in your cheek, enough of a win to make you feel like you'd really won something, enough to make you think that your luck might hold out to bring in some more. You spent the rest of that weekend driving around buying lottery tickets, and winning nothing. The rest of the summer was basically the same, a hefty portion of every paycheck dumped into the Texas lottery, never winning anything as much as that first 40. I'm sure the makers of lottery tickets wish they could make that happen by design, a nice win to start just to get the suckers hooked. I bet you're still playing that shit.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

365 # 147: Simple Mark

You were such a sweet kid, but in many ways, so very...I can't say dumb, I just can't bring myself to say it. So let's go with the descriptor I used in the title: simple. Maybe that's even worse, even more condescending of me, but fuck it.

One night, I was driving us somewhere in my truck. We were in the city, but not in a well lit part. The only light to see by came from the moon above and my truck's headlights. We came across an animal laying in the road, a possum. Ugly bastard. We sat and looked at it for a second, and it at us. It looked like it might be hurt, but we couldn't be sure. He moved like he was, but then again maybe not. I steered around him and we went on our way. A minute later, you started freaking out.

We have to go back!

You couldn't stand the thought that some creature was walking God's green earth in pain and suffering, and that there was something we could do about it. You wanted us to do what you thought was the right thing. You wanted us to go back there and put that poor animal out of its misery. How exactly you planned to do this was not made clear. You begged and pleaded and prodded and poked and you wouldn't let it go. From absolutely ANYONE ELSE, these pleas would have fallen on deaf ears, but from you, sweet innocent simple Mark, who just wanted to help a suffering animal, my resolved withered. I wheeled the truck around and drove back. But it must've been my lucky night because that ugly fucker was gone.

So, uh, had it been there, what was the plan? Or was I supposed to think up that part?