Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Problem With Being Nice

My new strategy for college saving is drinking lots of Diet Dr. Pepper. They are running some give-away that gets you $1000-a-day to use for tuition. This fits well with my general inability to save money... and my propensity to drink Diet Dr. Pepper all day. I think this is sage on several levels. One... I can continue to spend money now rather than save it for the kids for later. Two... in the unlikely event that I DON'T win... I will have shortened my life considerably through the overdose of all sorts of baaaaadddd chemicals, and therefore my life insurance will kick in to pay for higher education. "Doctor... we tried to draw blood but all we got was this fizzy liquid!" Perfectly logical reasoning.

On an unrelated yet related note... my children are too damn popular. They have been invited to no less than six birthday parties this week alone. My budget for "birthday presents for strangers" is also eating into college savings, not to mention my budget for essential things like food, heat and movies. I've told them to be less friendly. But they don't listen. My 12yo lectured me on niceness yesterday. She said... "Daddy... people always say I'm too nice... because I'm very empathetic. And there are worse things than being nice." I told her that she collected needy friends like stray cats.

Anyway... so the boy gets off the bus at 3:55 yesterday and tells me he has been invited to ANOTHER birthday party. I rolled my eyes and asked when it was... "Today." "TODAY! When today!" "At 4:10". Now, my ability to deal with chaos is pretty high... but since the other half was off at a school meeting, and I was busy cooking the dinner in preparation for dance/clarinet/musical practice/other meetings later on that night... this came as a little bit of a shock.

Boy: Mommy knows about this.
Me: Well... I didn't get the memo. Who's party is this?
Boy: (Name I've never heard)
Me: Who the hell is that?
Boy: That's XXXX's brother.
Me: Wait... you got invited to his BROTHER's party?
Boy: His brother likes me.
Me: I'm sure he does. That's not really the point.

At that moment the cavalry arrived in the form of the other half.

Her: Crap... I forgot. Ok.. plan B. We are taking the gift card I bought for Saturday's party and put it in the card I bought for Sunday's party... there problem solved.

I made the executive decision not to point out that this was a small symptom of an entirely larger problem. But the day was already stress filled enough.

And soon I was off to delivery the boy and his borrowed present to a party for his best friend's brother grumbling to myself about stray cats and college.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What They Draw From You

Repost... by request.

In a few weeks, my son will be entering his second decade on this planet. This has caused me pause and made me reflect on the boy who is fast changing into something larger and greater. All parents desire for their children to exceed... to move beyond the parent and into a life all their own. And yet all parents rue the passage... even if we don't admit it. His true passage is still years away. But I can see the potential of the man I helped to make. The genetics are a mix... my ears and build... her hair and coloring... but his eyes... they are all his own. That is a good description of children, perhaps. The chaos of mixing genetic materials which follow a form not to stray too far away from the original... but far enough to make the world interesting.

When he lay on the ER table a month back, being stitched up from taking a hockey stick between the eyes in a backyard game, he didn't cry. He joked with the doctor... deflecting fear and pain with humor. I sat beside him, holding his hand. The doctor asked where he had managed to get such a sense of humor... he didn't answer verbally, but his small finger rose so that only I could see it and he pointed at me. And he was right of course. In more ways than one. Humor is a weapon that we both employ with surgical skill from time to time. And we take pleasure in making each other laugh to the point of choking at the dinner table... and yet in his eyes... I see a melancholy. A melancholy that I recognize from my own reflection that passes from time to time. And so he deflects already the questions of sadness, hiding them behind a veil of laughter. There is nothing really to be sad about... but that is just the way that he is wired.

He is smarter than me. Certainly he hasn't walked the miles I have and has not the life experience that I have. But his IQ is above mine by a significant margin, and I'm not really a slouch. I'm fascinated by this. I challenge him constantly and am nearly always amazed by his capacity to absorb and adapt and change. We started playing chess last week. He knows the game and apparently has become the class chess champ. But he needed more of a challenge so he asked me to play. We had played in years past and he frustrated easily because he could not beat me. So he quit. Also a trait from yours truly. But this time it was different. He wanted to learn and have me explain what I was doing and why so he could beat his friends more easily. We dissected the game and he sucked it all in. And we played again, he, armed with new weapons, and me trying to set up chances and opportunities for him to see if he would catch them. He did. All of them. And I found myself losing. It took me years to beat my own father. It was a rite a passage I wasn't about to let go casually. So I played harder and eventually trapped him. But he was smiling this time because he knew that he had done well.

They are all so different. So unique in their own ways. You can group him if you like. Call him the middle child. Call him a result of nature. Or of nurture. Or diagnose the fact that he is the only boy with two sisters... You can see his tendencies and point them back to their origins. His dislike of crowds... or his taste for mustard and pickles... his reflexes... his smile.... his calculating eyes... his hyperactive leg... his fascination with building... his dislike of reading fiction... his yen for a life as a hero... his catlike need to rub his face against you...

But they are his. Not mine. Not hers. Not anyone but his. He is a snowflake. And so are we all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

10 Things I Remembered This Week

1) "Umlaut" is fun to say over and over.

2) Settling is much different than compromising.

3) You need to let them fall... repeatedly... as hard as it is to watch.

4) Sometimes it is nice to hear the words "it is going to be alright"... even if you are sure it isn't.

5) Sarcasm is not really an effective parenting tool.

6) It is impossible to be a writer without actually writing. Thinking about writing doesn't count.

7) Those goofy shoes she bought you because the look sexxayyy?... wear them... even if you feel goooofyyyy.

8) Wine is gooooood.

9) Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the actual crime.

10) Sometimes when the whole world is upside down and topsy turvey... the only thing to do is to play ping pong.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random Flotsam

So the wife bought a new yard tchotchke over the weekend. It is a stone thing that supposedly looks like our dog curled up and sleeping. Our dog, however, is apparently offended by this analogy and barks at it with suspicion every time he passes it. I am in agreement with him. To me it looks more like the pig fetus that I had to dissect in 10th grade biology class. Every time I pass it I get a throwback wiff of formaldehyde and feel like barking at it too.

I finished reading the world's most depressing book the other day. Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I've always loved his prose, and this is the best of his that I've ever read... which apparently the Pulitzer's guys agreed with. They failed to mention however that it is the world's most depressing book. I wish I could have written the lines for the back cover... Mobius says, "Impossible to put down, harder to pick up." or Mobius says "Don't read without a large prescription of Prozac". But thankfully for those of you who don't want to read it, the movie will be out in a few months starring The King... from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Oh Boy! Just what we need in these days of depression... the world's most depressing movie!

Weird things are afoot in my town. The free world has come for a visit and brought along their various cadre of detractors. I suppose this is why they picked to do it here... since the world won't shut down if our city does. Literally... shut down. Unless you are head of state... don't try to get to work. My daughter was doing a report on one of the countries coming... she got France... and had to do a history of the country. So I helped her learn about Napoleon... and the guillotine... and trench warfare... and the Maginot line... and the 5th republic. Then I asked if she knew who Nicolas Sarkozy was... so we looked him up. Then I threw in a fun fact... "Did you know he is married to a supermodel?" At 12 she is accomplished Googler... so she Googled her. Oops. Um... Yes... well... the French also like to be topless. A lot.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Peace...

We are a world of war. A world where the strong survive and the weak perish. Where those with money and power and influence can fix it so that they get more of the same by taking from those without. It is a world of injustice, where so often "justice" comes in the form of pent up anger which becomes a fist to the face of those who have caused us to suffer. It is a world that encourages conflict... for our entertainment... for our safety and way of life... even, perversely, for our continued peace.

Peace is word that conjures hippies, and radicals... people with rose colored glasses... Gandhi... Martin Luther King, Jr. And look what happened to them. We act as if death is the worst thing that can happen to us. Our most basic desire is, afterall, survival.

Yet, there are lines and shades of gray in all of this. I would not shoot a person in cold blood. But threaten my family... and the gloves come off. Without hesitation. So the power is there... right in my itchy trigger finger, through which blood flows from a supposedly peaceful heart. Situations always override philosophies. And every one of us has that breaking point.

So how do we pursue peace in a world that is so permeated by a need to fight? It is an nearly impossible task. It makes our eyes hurt to consider it. It becomes justification. Thin slicing. Endless scenarios on which writers, filmmakers and news moguls revel.

It is a tiny step at a time. The quotations are there every day.... "The greatest achievement is selflessness." "Love thy neighbor as thyself". "There is never a good war... or a bad peace." "We shall find peace. We shall hear angels. We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds." "Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous."

And lastly... from the Dalai Lama: "Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us.

Today is the UN International Day of Peace... spread the word... and spread the peace. One small situation at a time

Friday, September 18, 2009

10 Things I Remembered This Week

1) You can always get one more squeeze out of the toothpaste tube.

2) The bus comes regardless of your level or readiness.

3) There is a direct correlation between my inability to get comfortable at night and my inability to get uncomfortable in the morning.

4) Colds have little to do with being cold.

5) Waiting an extra second before talking is never, ever, ever a bad thing.

7) The people that quote Leviticus 18:22 are the ones most likely to forget Luke 6:31.

8) No matter how many times I return, a wagging tail makes me smile.

9) I'm not as cool as I was last week... but next week I will be retro.

10) We act like time is infinite and love is finite... when we should do the reverse.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


One of my favorite pictures of my son is one from when he was about three or four. He was in a serious Toy Story phase of life and we had bought him a four foot puzzle of Buzz Lightyear. The picture is an overhead shot that I took of him as he lay flat on the floor next to the puzzle pointing to the sky in imitation of his hero. He is wearing his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and a smile of sheer unadulterated joy.

"Unadulterated" is the perfect word. Even though the Latin roots for "adult" and "adulterated" aren't really the same... they are the similar. "Adult" comes from the Latin "adultus"... to grow... where as "adulterated" comes from "adulteratus"... or to change. To "adulterate" something, Webster tells us, is to corrupt, debase or make something impure by the addition of a foreign substance. So to be "unadulterated" is to be pure. And what better way is there to describe the difference between the wide-eyed awe of childhood to the jadedness that many feel as they age.

Most boys (and many girls too) grow up with fantasies of having special powers. Super powers. Be it strength, the ability to fly, laser bolt eyes, invisibility, or just a belt with really cool gadgets on it... all of my friends wanted one. To be able to stand up to the bad guys on the playground. To be looked at as special and super. To have people whisper with awe when you walked into a room. I mean, really... what is cooler than a guy in tights.

Over time it happens to them all... they grow. And the boys become young men and slowly the world of expectations encroaches on their fantasies... diluting them. Adulterating them. The spandex gets hung away in favor of other super suits... in my son's case, hockey goalie pads. Dreams of living in the Super Friend's Headquarters replaced by dreams of playing in the NHL. And while that is a little more realistic, it isn't by much. Don't get me wrong, I won't discourage the dream. But I know the odds... and so does he, really. He knows the pads don't make him invincible. He has won games... but he has also lost enough to know that they good guys don't always win. And each goal that he lets by further distills the purity of that smile in that picture.

The other day he was in the store and I caught him looking at a large display of Toy Story stuff in anticipation of both the original and sequel's re-release in theaters... (and in 3D!) There was a wistful look on his face. A memory of the forgotten past. A smile. I wanted to tell him that he doesn't need a super suit to be special. But me telling him, won't make him believe it. He needs to discover it himself. I pray that he does, before the world encroaches and makes him doubt. That is the wish of every parent.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Positively Insane

Me: Ok... so we have established that you think that health care reform would be too expensive.

Insane Person: Yes.

Me: But you are small business owner, like me, right?

Insane Person: Yes...

Me: And are your insurance rates ridiculous too?

Insane Person: Oh, they are ridiculous! And they keep going up.

Me: But you don't think that we should address that? You wouldn't like lower rates?

Insane Person: Of course I would... but not if my taxes are going to go up.

Me: No one said they would.

Insane Person: They have to, where else would they get the money.

Me: Now this is where I tell you that it would have been helpful if you were able to watch the speech from the other night where talked about these things.

Insane Person: But I told you.. I don't have to because I just listen to the news afterward.

Me: Fox news.

Insane Person: Yes!

Me: Third Base... right. Well, one of the things he pointed out in his speech was that we all have driver's insurance, right? Why do we have driver's insurance?

Insane Person: Because it is the law.

Me: RIGHT! So if you crash into me... I have some protection. But why shouldn't I have some protection against the 46 million people who get sick and go to the hospital and receive treatment... I mean, why should I have to pay for them getting sick.

Insane Person: Right!

Me: Right! So tell me again why you are against that?

Insane Person: Because I don't want to pay for their insurance.

Me: But... we... just... covered.... that.

Insane Person: Well the government paying for them and taxing us is the same thing, isn't it?

Me: Not even remotely... first the idea of public option gives a low cost health plan to people who can't afford their own plan by themselves. Secondly... they are trying to make it pay for itself.

Insane Person: They will fail.

Me: That's your answer? They will fail? So we should just give up?

Insane Person: Oh... no... I'm a very positive person.

Me: Obviously.

Tea for Two... With Smartphones for One

Me: So we have established that your opinion counts more than mine, right?

Insane Person: What? I never said that.

Me: You did say that since your candidates didn't win, that you have no representation, correct?

Insane Person: Well... yes. I don't agree with what they are doing.

Me: But do you at least acknowledge that they are your legally elected representatives?

Insane Person: I think that there are questions about how he got into office... like whether he is a citizen or not.

Me: Really? So you think that everyone that has shown proof that he was born in Hawaii is lying?

Insane Person: Well, I still haven't seen proof.

Me: Have you looked for proof?

Insane Person: Well.. no.

Me: (pulls out Phone)... Here.. that's a copy of his birth certificate.

Insane Person: I can't read it.

Me: That's because it is on a Smart Phone. **sigh** OK.. so because you didn't vote for them, then your opinion is the only opinion that counts, correct?

Insane Person: That's not how I would put it.

Me: Ok... how would you put it?

Insane Person: I'm just expressing my opinion that there is no way we can pay for healthcare for the whole country.

Me: Ok... that's fair. I will stop making fun of the name of your ill-named party and your inability to read factual documents, so we can concentrate on the facts at hand. Healthcare. What don't you like about the bill?

Insane Person: Well.. I just don't think that the governent should be interfering with it.

Me: Because it works so well?

Insane Person: No... I think there is a lot that could be fixed.

Me: Ok... so who should do it?

Insane Person: Well, the companies should do it themselves.

Me: Why would they do that? Isn't their job to make their stock holder's money?

Insant Person: Well, yes... but government shouldn't have a place there.

Me: Ok... so we have established that it needs fixed... but you think that the companies should do it themselves. Got it. By the way... did you read the bill? Or actually.. the five bills, since there are currently five... none of which is up for a vote yet.

Insane Person: No.. I'm sure no one reads them.

Me: Actually, I think a lot of people do. Did you listen to the President's speech the other night?

Insane Person: Oh, no... but someone I work with read me a little bit of it.

Me: Hmm... so how do you know you are against it when you don't know what it says?

Insane Person: Because I watch the news.

Me: And the liberal media tells you what to think about it?

Insane Person: I don't listen to the liberal news shows.

Me: I thought all news was liberal.

Insane Person: Most is... but Fox news gets it right.

Me: Except for the parts where they make stuff up?

Insane Person: They don't make things up.

Me: I would show you a long list of things on my smart phone.... but they would just bounce off you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Whine and Tea

Me: So why DO they call these things Tea Parties, anyway?

Insane Person: You know... because of the Boston Tea Party.

Me: You mean, the one where they dumped the tea into the harbor to protest British taxes?

Insane Person: Yup...

Me: The one where they were complaining because they were being taxed by the king without representation in Parliament?

Insane Person: Yes...

Me: But you have representation.

Insane Person: No I don't...

Me: You have a congressman, you have two senators, and you have a president, right?

Insane Person: Not ones that I voted for.

Me: But you did vote, yes?

Insane Person: Of course I did... It is my right. Just like it is my right to go my Tea Party and protest.

Me: Yes.. but shouldn't you be calling it a Whine Party instead of Tea Party?

Insane Person: I don't drink wine.

Me: You might want to rethink that strategy. I'm certainly opening a bottle.

Disposable Thumbs

I love the overheard conversations among my kids.

7yo: Well you know monkeys have disposable thumbs.

10yo: Ha! You mean OP-posable thumbs. Disposable means "easy to throw out".

7yo: I know that... but it's just easier to say.

So I'm painting my mother in law's house this weekend. The tall peaks and the stuff that no one else can reach. I'm the designated "tall guy". I used to do a lot of painting back in the day. I didn't really mind the high stuff back then. In fact, I can remember jumping off the roof and doing a stunt roll into my back yard... carefully avoid the dog terds. It used to seem so cool. I never broke anything. Somehow. But as I scaled the ladder and felt it go twisty under me as it settled into the rocks, I felt that pit in my stomach. That "oh no I'm going to fall and break my leg" feeling. Having never fallen and broken my leg, I wonder why it is that I worry about this quite so much. I mean, sure... if I had felt that pain before, I would sure as hell want to skip it the next time. But no breaks. I can only conclude that the "older, wiser" me understands the potential more than the "younger stupider" me. But this isn't entirely true. I knew that it was possible that I would break something. But I did it anyway. There was no one ever around so it wasn't like I was showing off. And I knew the risks. But I jumped anyway.

I find this interesting. I wonder if kids who are brought up to decide for themselves are more able, at a later age, to figure out what works and doesn't work... and therefore avoid the stupid things when they get older. Which then also makes me wonder if the overly protective way that most parents today handle their kids is going to lead to a generation of risk takers of adults trying to find their limits. Do risk taker kids = more cautious parents? Or do overprotected kids = risk taking adults.

While I was thinking all of this the 10yo appears below me.

10YO: Can I get on the roof?

You would look at me like I was crazy if I let my little monkeys get on the roof. I know you people. Because I've become one of those people too. Besides... it is a high roof. *Gasp* what was he thinking??

Me: Not today, buddy.

10YO: Why not?

Me: Cause your thumbs or none of the rest of you is "disposable".

10YO: Can I get on the ladder?


Me: Ok.. but be CAREFUL.

Coming from the kid that jumped of the roof...

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Treadmill

I'm tired. I've been on a treadmill seemingly forever. Walking. Always walking. But never getting anywhere. The view doesn't change... I never pass into the shade... or into the sun. But I remain, instead, in the greenish glow of flickering fluorescents. I never get away from what is behind me... and I never seem to reach that next crest. There are no surprises along the path. The walls are the same here as they were an hour ago. Or last week. Or last month.

I don't want to be jaded. Really. I want to be positive. I want to feel that childlike surprise that went missing somewhere around puberty. Is that the way it is? I say this... and I can see you nodding your heads. Because even if you think you have it figured out how to manufacture surprise... it is man-made. It isn't as real as it once was. Maybe at points we catch a glimpse of it... and handful of water that falls through our grasp before we can fully catch it. Maybe that is why we love watching children because we recognize the realness of their awe.

The others on the treadmills all around me don't change either. They react in predictable ways... saying predictable things... at predictable times. There is such disappointment in this. The knowing. When we pass over that point when people we love are able to surprise us. We know before their mouths even open. We cringe and turn away and feel ourselves sink just a little lower. Surprise replaced by disappointment, again.

Your comments will extol me to get off the treadmill and take a walk in the woods. They will tell me just to sit and be quiet. But you know as well as I, that this is easier said than done. And that I'm not really talking about walking anyway.

You fight the sameness by change. But eventually even the change becomes the same. And we become nomads with no real home, and a long trail of pasts that all look the same.

The trick isn't to change, of course... the trick is simply to accept. In the sameness is a comfort that we fail to appreciate while we are busy walking away. We picked to walk on this treadmill surrounded by these people because at one time we liked the place... and we liked the people. The words that disappoint us now, are the same words that once resonated with us.

Accepting is a choice. So is walking away. Neither are easy. Each hold consequences. They say that change is inevitable. I think the biggest change that we have to make is moving from a life of nomad to the life of a farmer. Accepting that we will see the same treeline... plow the same fields... and milk the same cows... for the rest of our time here. Acceptance means letting go of the jadedness. And, perhaps, the biggest surprise in all of this is that the predictable becomes less predicable... less disappointing.

Or so I keep telling myself.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Falconer and the Falcon

I've decided to repost a few blogs now and then that I've posted at various other times. For those that have read before apologies... but this is going to be home for awhile, so I'd like to keep them together someplace virtual. To those that haven't read them before... enjoy.


Several years ago I was friends with a falconer. He had rescued a red-tail hawk with a bad wing and nursed it back to health. The bird was housed on the campus of SUNY Purchase and we drove there one day together, on a day very much like today. The fireworks were exploding in the fall trees, the sun crystal in the blue sky. I held the hawk on my arm for a moment. He was heavy. Solid muscle. With piercing eyes that cut through you. He was capable. Built and bred for one thing… to hunt. My friend and I walked with the bird up the hill to the start of a forest. He let the hawk fly and it immediately went to the top of a nearby tree. My friend explained that it was very important to let the hawk hunt, to keep its instincts sharp.

What followed was a lesson in instincts. We followed the hawk as it flew from tree to tree. Finally stopping for a long time atop a massive oak. We watched for a long time. Then with a sudden burst, its wings spread slightly... and it dove. It hit the squirrel as it ran along the branch. The squirrel squeaked in terror that could be heard far below. The hawk shoved its talons into the squirrel's back and then let itself go limp. The squirrel clung for dear life onto the bottom of the branch, suddenly supporting not only its own weight, but the entire weight of the hawk too. It was only a matter of time. But they hung there for a few moments, prolonging the inevitable. Finally the tiny claws tired and weakened and finally let go. The two spiraled down quietly and my friend walked over and calmly covered the squirrel just as they hit the ground. He gave the bird a bit of raw meat while he quietly smothered the squirrel himself.

The trick of dependency is to fool the hawk into thinking that it can't hunt without you. To train it to give over its hard won prize of fresh meat for a morsel of dried meat. The hawk needed only to keep flying and find its own way, and yet it chose to stay in the safety of the world it had become accustomed to.

Our instincts tell us to hunt. But our need for comfort keeps us all on the arm of the falconer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Lakehouse

The boy sat eating his cereal before bed. He slurped milk and then looked up at me. "Dad... can we get a lakehouse?"

I had actually been waiting for a question like this. It used to be... "Dad, can we get a pack of Pokemon cards?" But he is aging into an acute awareness of the have and the have nots.

We have several friends of good fortune who like to share. #1 spawn has a friend whose father is chief muckedy muck of something at a company that you would know. Last year they bought a lakehouse an hour north of us. And while #1 spawn has stayed several times, this weekend was our first trip as a family. The place is beautiful, with a big boat that was on a constant rotation of pulling kids around in inter-tubes the whole day. It was a fantastic day. A day that you remember. And as I watched the boy eat his Captain Crunch I could almost read his mind. How cool would it be to be them.

We are, at the very least, predicable. Pleasure seekers. Hardship avoiders. And that scariest of words... entitled.

I joked off the request... but it stuck with me for the rest of the night. We have volunteered before a homeless shelters... but perhaps it was time for a return trip. Just a reminder of what it is that we DO have. Instead of reminders of what we don't. The spawns are pretty well balanced for the most part. They understand the dynamics of the world better than many. But there is always room for reminders. Hell... I need it sometimes too.

There is that razor's edge on which we must all balance. The acknowledgment of what we have... and the blessings that we take so for granted on a daily basis. And the desire to continue to try for betterment. I live in an area and a circle of people whose lives revolve around keeping up with the Jones. And I sometimes like taking jabs at those that go overboard. But for the most part, the people we hang with are those that don't make a big deal of what they have... or what they don't.

It is like climbing a mountain with no summit. We get a handhold and won't let go... scared to death of having to go back down. We get so used to life the way it is right NOW... that we forget what it was like a week ago. And so we don't want change if it means losing what we have. But we desperately want change if it means getting a handhold further up the cliff.

My goal for today is to be satisfied with right now.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How About These Cookies

So on Mona Lott's recommendation I had General Tso's for lunch. My fortune is as follows:

WTF? "but that's okay.."??

First of all, black blogs of sorrow aside, I am a steely eyed retired super hero. I know you all think I'm all mopey and whiney in real life. But I am a master exaggerator. Or not. But you wouldn't want to play poker with me. I'm that good at holding it deep inside.

So yes... I am annoyed that the cookie is patronizing me. "that's okay..." with a little pat on the head for good luck.

I'm annoyed, but I ain't showing it.

Why don't I get these cookies?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rocks and Hard Places

I've have had a pit in my stomach for awhile. It sits there... some days quiet... some days loud and nagging. Today it is yelling in my ear... "J’aurai toujours faim de toi"

It used to be that the decisions to be made were blacker. And whiter. You wrote them down and balanced the pros and the cons and the path suddenly appeared... like a lighted walkway, suddenly appearing in the dark. But perhaps the comic gods of fate have decided to mix things up a bit and make the pros and the cons equally wonderful... or equally horrible. The win wins have been replaced by lose loses.

And when I talk to people, I see them facing their own rock and hard place situations. And my heart hurts. For them. For me. But inevitably I manage to feel optimism for those other people. I know that things will turn for them. That situations that seem unwinnable from this vantage will shift and change and take on a different light when you move down the road a bit. I encourage them to meet their demons. And tell them that it will be alright.

But I can't quite convince myself of the same thing. Why is that? Why is that we are better about helping others over obstacles than we are at climbing them ourselves. I say "we" because I want your company even thought it haunts me. I say "we" because I don't want to admit that I can't get my legs to work just now. Because it is easier to push you ahead and tell you to face your own demons than it is to admit that I am scared.

The fears of childhood... the bogeymen that wait in the closets... are transformed from the imaginary and into full bodied horrors that we call regret. The worst rock and hard place decisions are ones that leave a trail of regret regardless of the decision that you make. Either decision by itself can bring joy. But choosing one over the other causes the color of both to fade. Moving one way... leaves behind the wraith of what could have been which sucks the soul out of the path taken.

I seek no sympathy. Since this is my path. I don't seek advice. Because having dispensed much in my time, I know that words aren't the answer. I can't even wish for company, because it is better simply to find my way alone. But the pit started the day I willed my legs to move. Even though it tore my whole being down the middle. It is grayer now than it was. Both in front of me and behind me. But if I keep moving perhaps, eventually, I will find the sun again.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Check Engine Light

My car's Check Engine Light has been on for days. This happens periodically and the first time it resulted in the standard reaction of "oh no my car is ready to burn up into a pile of cinder" and a slow painful trip to the mechanic. Roland... my filthy mechanic, who resembles a holocaust survivor but a survivor that knows his way around an engine, chuckled and said in his faux-southern drawl "you didn't tighten the gas cap."


Apparently, in Hondas and Toyotas the "Check Engine Light" goes off when the car is burning up and ready to explode, or if you fail to tighten the gas cap sufficiently. I think this might be some sort of Japanese engineering humor.

My internal Check Engine Light goes off every so often too. It is a nagging amber light of doom that sits inside my peripheral vision and tells me that my life is about to explode into a disaster of epic proportion... or that my zipper is down. It is the little light that cried wolf. At first you rush off to have it looked at... and they open you up and diagnose you with all sorts of physical and mental issues. Or worse yet... you skip the mechanic and research the problem on line yourself. That is a sure path to hell. Because literally every symptom is either intestinal gas or a brain tumor. Which only makes it harder to ignore the your Check Engine Light.

"It must be a brain tumor!" You panic and sweat and worry. And then you psych yourself up for the doctor who laughs at you and says... "gas!" and hands you some antacid.

The hardware problems are nothing compared to the software one... those are a real bitch. My heart and the carburetor are easy to diagnose. But my on-board computers and psyche. Well... that is more of an imprecise art. They are finicky and sometimes it is as simple as hitting the reset button. But sometimes only drugs will help.

So I drive on. Pointedly ignoring the light. Hoping that my zipper is down. Ignorance is, after all, bliss. And I'm all about following my bliss.