Monday, May 27, 2013

I Got A Brick

I wish all holidays were as clear to their purpose as Arbor Day.  Plant a tree, couldn't be easier.  Christmas and Easter get obfuscated through the lens of secularism and commercialism.  The Fourth of July seems clear enough, but, nobody studies history anymore, so the reason for it seems to be nothing more than an excuse to blow off fireworks and an occasional finger.

Labor Day, who knows.  Earth Day, hippie day, right?  We know what to do on Thanksgiving, eat, oh, and give thanks, but, do we know why?  Ask any first grader and you will get a doozy of an answer about Native Americans, Pilgrims and pie, and here, oddly enough, a dissertation on pumpkins and mazes.  Yes, "mazes," apparently American Indians invented the corn maze, according to Zack.

I could go on but I think you get my point.

Today is Memorial Day.  Nick asked me last night what we were supposed to do on this day and ... uh, well, I had to look it up.  Wiki says " Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces."

Right.  And, what, like one-percent of the population does that?  I know there are parades and the like, here in our hometown there is a parade.  They throw candy of of floats sponsored by local businesses, the band plays anything-but-Sousa-marches - Star Wars theme songs, and crappy renditions of pop crap - and the local elementary kids decorate their bikes with crepe paper and red, white and blue whirligigs made in China.

Oh well.

Knowing we had a three day weekend and that it was going to be cool this weekend, I got the camper out, popped it up, and the boys and I slept in it the last couple of nights.  We played a lot of baseball and soccer in the backyard, had a fire, roasted wienies and generally goofed off.

Here are some highlights:

They are "craftsmen crafting," at least that is what Nick said.  It pretty much amounted to them pulling shit out from behind the shed and beating on it, peeling bark, getting splinters and generally making a mess of themselves and the yard.

At one point, Marci and I were watching the fire and Nick came over and gave her a rose from the bush by the shed.  There was some fighting a little later and she went back and Zack wanted to give her a rose as well, but there was some confusion involving Nick and ... well, I still don't get it, but, Mom ended up with two cute little roses.

They are hanging from a chip-clip drying on the fridge right now:

A few minutes later Zack, riding piggy-back on Mom's back (again I'm at a loss as to why), came and gave me something from the crafting project they had been working on.

Remember when Charlie Brown and the gang went Halloweening and all he got was a rock.  Well, I got a brick, this brick:

On the top there, written, primitive man style in charcoal, it says "Father" and on the front it says simply, "I love you."

Beats the hell out of her roses, dontcha think?

Anyway, I am not trying to be down about this holiday, nor do I question its validity, but for a generation not torn apart by world wars, it seems a little, well, distant.  Someday, after the boys have had the horrors of war and the slaughter and grief it rains on society explained (if that's even possible) to them, maybe then I will take on the solemnity and the true meaning of this day.  Perhaps we will go to a Memorial or two, see the parade in the right light, make this day into the proper Remembrance Day it started out as.

But for now, we will roast hot dogs and beat on logs and sleep in the camper and write on bricks and present roses and we will do all these things in the quiet freedom of our own backyard.

The quiet freedom that men and women sacrificed their lives to afford us.

Maybe, just maybe, we are celebrating this day right.  Celebrating our freedom, our wealth, our prosperity, our love and our lives, all made possible because others knew we should be able to.

And maybe, I get it more than I thought I did.

From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

"That was this morning, when I was a monk."

Well, there you have it...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Raise The Bar

I don't have a bar to call my own anymore.  You know, where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.

I suppose that's sort of a surprising thing to say, like admitting I'm a drunk or something of a barfly or a cad.  No, and guys back me up here, it's nice to have a place to go and watch a game and shoot the shit with some other guys and, well, I miss it.

As most of you already know I was a long time in the restaurant business and, by and large, my bar was usually the one at the place I worked.  For about ten years I was a bartender and stood on one side and when I was done, often, I sat on the other side.  Sometimes, though, I went somewhere else, somewhere to get away from the place I'd been for ten or twelve or fourteen hours, often a place where other restaurant types hung out.

I lived in NYC for a number of years in the nineteen-hundred-and-eighties and I had a bar there, on Second Street I think, called Kennedy's.  I initially went there because it was open late, like four in the morning late, and I could get there after I closed the bar I was tending.  It was a great place, the bartender knew my name, I had a tab and I knew a lot of people there.  In fact, one night, I was in a heated conversation with some old fart sitting next to me, it was a political battle and I have no memory of the specifics.  It was all good-natured and he bought me a couple drinks.  As we were winding down, a driver, capped and uniformed, came through the doors and the fellow I was speaking with shook my hand and said he had to go.  He left an unusually large tip, smiled at Manny, the enormous Irishman behind the bar, and he left.  I watched as he got into a stretch limo and rolled away.


I asked Manny who the hell that was and he said...


... in his perfect Irish Brogue "Dontcha know who that was, laddie?"  I confessed that I did not.


Whaaaaaat is it?

Well, I don't really see what this has to do with Nick and Zack.  I mean really, bar stories...

I don't remember asking you.  Anyway, we decided that stories and stuff about me is appropriate for this space because it will show them who I was once, the kind of fella I was when I was younger, that sort of thing.

Uh, yeah, well, actually you decided that.  I thought we were going to talk about the end of the sports season and how you missed coaching and, you know, those picture of the boys in their uniforms.  Remember?  They're so cute...

Maybe some other time, listen I'm right in the middle of a story here, do you mind?

Oh, by all means go on, bespot your reputation, name drop, all that self-serving crap.  Go ahead.

Well, as it turns out my intellectual sparring partner was none-other than Senator Patrick Moynihan and man, he was drunk and ...  Wait, what do you mean by "self-serving crap?"

I simply mean that you go on and on about loving and honoring the boys and yet, today, you haven't even mentioned them.  That's all.  It's cool.  You're good.

So, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I don't have a bar of my own anymore.  I don't have a place where I can just be myself, say inappropriate things to my friends, eat chicken wings, do shots, flirt a little, pretend to be interested in a game, that sort of thing...

You're right, this sucks...  How's this?

If I had a bar to go to I would show all my buddies there pictures like this:

And, I'd have someone to tell how much I wished Zack could hit a little better, maybe get some advice for lefties.  I'd have a couple of pretty girls notice me and say how cute my boys were and they might mention that I was a great Dad for worrying so about my son's hitting.

I might say that my other son is really a great ball-handler and that I wish he took a few more shots on goal but his coach said he was a middle-fielder and maybe someone would be able to explain what a middle-fielder was and what offsides was and what "mark up" (which all the cool parents yell at games) means.

If I had a bar, that's how it would be, supportive and caring and...

Yeah.  It is self-serving and crappy.

No, no it's not.  I think you are on to something.  Go on.

You're just saying that...

No, I'm not.  What else would you like in a bar of your very own?

Maybe I could buy that guy who makes LEGO videos a beer and maybe he'd tell me how he does it and offer to help me with the the video I want to make of all the boys stuffed animals.  I could look him in the eye and tell him that I really love those stupid videos and I'd tell him why.  Probably after a couple of shots or...

I don't really think the drink tally is necessary, we get it, your tipsy, (read drunk)...

Well, I'd look him in the eye and I'd tell him I admire those videos so much because I can feel his love for his boys through them.  Through all the layers and filters and programs and apps; through all the lenses and digitization; through the blogosphere around the wires and cables; through sheer nothingness, through all that I know he does it out of love.  I can feel it.  I'd imagine he'd thank me, and maybe when he went home he'd give me a hug and say he'd see me again soon.

I'd like that.

Who else?

Oh, a lot of guys.  That guy who talks about his precocious daughter.  He seems like a great guy.  He's sorta young with a wise soul.  I'd say I love his blog and I think he should write some serious prose because his soul has something to say.  I'd tell him that he gets it, that I can see him glow, somehow, with nothing short of Grace.  Oh, and maybe he'd hand me one of those stick-figure aprons and the bartender would steal it and wear it for all time.

Do guys really act like that in bars?  That's cute...

Oh, hush.

If I could stand next to them all, shoulder to shoulder, I know I'd know the mettle of the men there.  There would be mechanics with wild imaginations and dreams as big as mountains.  There would be pious men to guide us and and tease our madness, shaking there heads at our happiness.  There would be writers and artists and photographers, memoirists and plotters and hope-mongers and desperate, broken-hearted dreamers.  We'd cry rivers and laugh storms, we rage at injustice and we'd suffer the losses.

Yes, well, that's very nice, but, specifically, who else?

That gay guy.  I'd like to buy him a drink, shake his hand and thank him.  Not for being gay, or being a great designer or having such an insightful and loving blog.  No, I'd thank him for being - simply being.  I'd tell him that this is a better place, a better world, because he is in it , I know that.  I could tell him that I cried when I heard his song and vowed to help him someday; tell him I'd play guitar for him if he ever needed and he'd say now and we'd borrow Bob's guitar and stand and sing "My Two Daddies (Can Beat Up Your One)®" to the hoots and hollers and cheers of a room full of teary-eyed manly-men, who'd lustily sing the chorus with us.

I'd tell that one guy with the funny accent that I really admire his leadership skills and I am glad he's in my bar.  I could tell him that it was because of him that I forged forward when I felt that I was flagging, because of him I opened my eyes wider and began to see the new world I'd entered.  I'd tell him if anyone was doing it right, it was him.  Yeah, I'd buy him a beer.

And old Aristotle would be hanging out in his pink bathrobe and straggly-ass beard and ...

No dead dudes.

Who says?  And anyway, it's a real dude...

New rule...  Wait, is Bob Dylan there?

Uh, maybe, he was just playing some tunes in the background.

No celebrities either.  You're short on time and this is getting sorta long.  You should probably wrap it up.

We'd show each other pictures and we'd tell stories.  We'd all bring in those little envelopes of pictures you used to get developed at the drugstore before there was another choice and we'd show each other ones like these of the vines we planted and later I'd have little bags of fresh tomatoes for everyone.

I could show them this little picture I took of the snapdragon and zinnia the boys insisted on buying and we planted by the porch step and someone would ask me "why the hell ya take a picture of that" and I'd answer that I know the poor little things have got no chance, what with the soccer balls and baseballs and trampsing in and out, no chance, so, I took a picture.

I'd look at some guy's grand-kids and someone's new son, we'd gush about how beautiful so-and-so was at her preschool graduation and laugh as we discuss breast-feeding and feeding our kids dreams and feeding in general.

I'd show them this and tell them the complicated rules of the game they are playing and we'd all have a laugh and think wistfully back on our own lost and - sadly - rarely remembered childhoods:

To cheer everyone up I'd show them the pictures the boys drew at school of flowers in a vase and jokingly admit that I wanted to have them scanned and printed and hung in those very frames and actually use them as the art in the dining room and everyone would encourage me and we'd have a laugh ten years later when the picture were still up, and still making me smile.

Closing time, let's go.

But I'm having fun, all the guys are here and...

We gotta go, we gotta get up early and, well...

Just one more thing?

Oh, all right.

So, you know how sometimes my dear wife hears things the boys say and posts them on her FB page.  Well maybe, in my bar, there could be place, like in the hallway to the kitchen, where you could post-it a little thought you needed help with, or support with, or, perhaps just a silly thing your kid said like, say:

"Hey, you stole my catchphrase, is my new catchphrase," Z said.

Alright, lets get going.

You planned all this from the very start, didn't you?

Yeah, sort of, but it would have been too long if you hadn't interrupted.

It is still too long.

So, uh, who are you any way?

I dunno, you haven't been too clear on that, either... 

Oh, good God, that picture of Nick's still life is upside down.  You should fix that.

Too late, the door locked behind us.  Oh well... G'nite, uh, other-one-me... it's been fun.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Three Prayers And A Hope

Nick had soccer practice the other night at one of those sports parks you see everywhere.  Zack went along and when he does we usually take our gloves and he and I throw ball while N practices.  Nick doesn't like me watching practice so much anymore, he's sort of trying to find his way on his own a lot more these days.  I try not to let it hurt my feelings, but, it does a little.

At the sports park there were a couple of Little League games going on, not club baseball, but U10-12 rec stuff.  Zack and I couldn't really find a very good place to toss so we wandered over to one of the games, Reds - Brewers as I recall.

We sit and watch a little warm-up, standing behind an extremely, absurdly, I remember thinking, tall fence and before long the game starts.  We sit through a couple batters and I ask him if he wants to move down a little bit so he can see the batters box a little better.  He says yes and we begin to walk around the Reds bench and ...

... a ball comes out of nowhere and is headed right at Zack.  I have no time to react although I lunge clumsily towards the ball, and it hits that sweet boy right in the face.  And it took him down.  Have you ever heard someone say "and it happened all at once?"  Well, it happened all at once.

I feel certain I thought and felt all these things at exactly the same time and in no discernible order:

How did a kid get a ball over that fence?

Where is the nearest emergency room?

What is the protocol for broken teeth?

What am I gonna do with Nick?

Is he knocked out?  No he's screaming.

I'm gonna need ice.

I'm so sorry son, why couldn't it have hit me?

How could God let this happen?

This is gonna ruin our lives.

How could I have let this happen?

I thought all these things and ran a gamut of emotions and felt the fear and adrenaline absolutely surging through my body, energizing and focusing me.  But, and I hate to admit it, the very first thing out of my mouth as I ran towards him was:


I cursed skyward.  I am still not sure if I was cursing the batter or the wind or Fate or the now too short fence or God or myself.

The first thing Zack said heard me say was "I know it hurts, Zacky, and I'm sorry this happened but, I gottta get a look at it."  He was screaming and, again all at once, I ascertained that he was going to be alright.  I knew it.  There was blood, but it wasn't gushing.  Although there was some blood on his teeth I wiggled them and they were intact.  His nose was untouched, his eyes, though full of tears, were clear and focused.

"Does any one have some ice?"  I shouted and someone said they were on it.

I looked back and tried, physically, emotionally, viscerally to take his pain from him.  I held his head and stroked it and said soothing things to him.

I looked him in the eye and, with confidence and assurance, told him that he was going to be alright - which I don't always do the instant a child is hurt - because, in this case, I knew to be true.

I used the bottom of my shirt to wipe the blood and keep a little pressure on the wound on the inside of his lower lip.  It slowed quickly and I was handed a bag of ice and we got that right on the place the ball had hit him and, well, he stopped crying.

Thankfully, only a few people had gathered around, one the father of the umpire of the game who I knew by sight, he'd given me the ice, and another couple watching their son's game.  They all stood in just a way, purposefully, that shaded the boy and I.  I appreciated that.

Zack said later that he didn't even hear "the ping off the bat" so he didn't know it was coming and neither had I.  I think he was mad because if he'd of seen it, he could've caught it, I could've caught it too, I mean with both had gloves on.  As it is, it's a good thing he had no idea it was coming, because the ball just clipped his bottom lip with such surgical precision that it just, basically, bruised and slightly abraded it.  You couldn't really take a popup foul to the face any better.

I said before that I thought everything all at once.  I thought a broken nose, broken teeth, a cut lip or tongue, stitches, black eyes, shattered cheekbones, grisly stuff I know, but, you have to go there sometimes.

And yet all he got was a fat lip.

There's a little more to the story, the part that come with retrospect and consideration.

Just before I cursed the fates I remember that the woman who was standing near us, correctly calculating the trajectory and wind and all, seemed to anticipate the impact and, just before it struck Zack she said:

"Oh my God"

A few minutes after it happened, Zack was calmer, just sort of just sobbing a little bit, in fear I'd guess, one of the guys providing our shade asked if he was going to be alright.  Zack nodded and said he thought so.

And, together in one voice, both men said:

"Thank God."

I have been thinking about the whole thing, trying to not blame myself, considering how I reacted, how I handled things and I am alright with it all.  But, for some reason what left an imprint is this.

"Oh my God."  A prayer for intercession.

"GODDAMMIT!"  A prayer for strength and courage over fear and hopelessness.

"Thank God."  A prayer of thanksgiving.

I wonder what happened beyond this realm that day.  Did that "oh My god" wake the wind just soon enough to blow the ball off track so that it didn't hurt him as badly as it could  have?  Was my unorthodox and perhaps disrespectful curse enough to get God to curse back at me the power of calm and purpose, because that's how it felt?  Don't two men simultaneously moved to utter the same words at precisely the same time constitute a choir of angels in celebration?

I don't quote bible passages, except when I do.  In Isaiah, God says “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine."  I never feel that way, I don't feel that God knows me by name.  I guess I wonder why he'd bother, or that he's too busy, or ...

For some reason, that day, in the shade of two kind men, under the blue spring skies, holding a scared and injured little boy, I felt that God does knows me by name, and Zack by name, and Nick by name and Marci by name and, well, you by name.

I heard an affirmation once that I sometimes use to combat the frustration of that feeling that God doesn't know who I am:  I am (insert your name here), a child of God, Lord hear my prayer.

I have noticed the little prayers people unknowingly send up all my life.  When I saw a fire break out of the window of a brownstone in Brooklyn one time and I heard like twenty people say "oh my God."  A prayer.  I've seen a boy get up after a hard fall at a soccer game to the collective and audible murmur of "thank God."  A prayer.  I've seen a woman, bent over her injured son, cursing and cajoling God, simply trying to get His attention as her son suffered from injuries in a car wreck.  A prayer.

There is one more I have heard, it's more subtle, but I do it everyday and perhaps you do as well.  We hope.  When we hope, we pray.  A hope is always a prayer, I promise.

I am Bill, child of God, Lord hear my prayer.  ThankYouthankYouthankYouThankyou.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Proudest Moments Post

We all have great moments parenting.  Remember that time you caught your kid by one leg when he flew off the swing when he was three?  Nice snag, Dad.

It might be a goal in soccer, an opening day double, exemplary behavior at First Communion Mass.  It could be looking over at your kid who is supposed to be playing basketball and seeing him sitting in front of a toddler, happily rolling the ball back and forth.  It might be courage in the face of pain when a splinter won't come out, or it might be knowing you have very happy kids because they sing a lot and smile a lot and laugh a lot.

Some great moments parenting are reflected in the schoolwork they bring home - a great bit of writing, a perfect math worksheet, a smiley face on a poem they wrote.  When Nick and Zack come home from school they do their homework and we go through their backpacks to find interesting and blog-worthy (they don't know that yet) stuff.  Sometimes I need to sign a worksheet or the teacher will ask that they read something to us and send it back in.  And sometimes, there are extra-credit sort of assignments.

At dinner the other night Zack smacked his forehead, hard, which he does and we find it a little off-putting, and said, "Oh, weforgotaboutthat."  One word.

"Oh, yeah," Nick said, "Dad, can we do it after dinner?"

"Sure, except, I don't know what we are talking about."  And I am still not sure how Nick knew what Z was talking about - wonder-twin powers, engage!

"If we measure six things and write them on a list we'll get a 'tiger ticket'."  The coveted tiger ticket is a Pavlovian reward system the elementary school uses to keep the kids in line.  I am not really sure of the exchange rate, but, suffice to say, the kids want them.

"Well, that sounds easy enough.  You do it while your mother and I clean up."

So, Z got a tape measure, assuring me he'd be careful with it - have you ever been cut by a tape measure?  I have, it hurts, so I am often leery of letting them play with one, but, I figured this was using it in the right way, not, as say, a cat toy, or to play that game where you see how far you can extend the measure until it finally kinks due to the its own weight.  Not that I'd let a four-year-old do that...

Nick used an eighteen inch ruler, even though Zack said he'd share the tape, and off they went, scurrying and measuring and writing and giggling and basically carrying on.  They made quick work of it and they gave me these to sign - no signature, no ticky.

Zack over-achieved and measured ten items:

So he did the computer, a shelf, a small guitar, a TV (yeah, we have a hopelessly small, old school tube television, it's retro), backpack, the fireplace, a table, a picture frame, a book, and the globe.  I am not sure how he measured the globe, whether that's circumference or radius or if he used pi, circle math is hard so I just let it go.  And, there at the bottom, it says "10 things!"  I think he's trying to extra credit on his extra credit - give it a break dude.

Nick measured his six items, in his defense, this was not a spelling assignment (it never is, is it?):

So, what did he decide to measure here?  A stool, cool.  A lamp, 60 inches with and 18 inch ruler, that's difficult.  A candel (candle).  A Bud Lite Can.  A wallit (wallet, more accurately, his Alumawallet, he loves his allumawallet).  And a LEGO Arch, I'm not sure ...wait.

Does that say "Bud Lite Can?"

Sure enough.  I must have left an empty on the ground watching the baseball game the other night.

Yeah, another proud parenting moment to report here.  The day your son measured a beer can for a project at school.  At least he spelled it right ...

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Second Post-Mother's Day Post

I think Mother's (it's never been clear to me if it is possessive or not) Day has outdone it usefulness.  I think the same of Father's Day and the vast majority of Hallmark Holidays but, I'm a grumpy old fart so that's beside the point.

The original intent of Mothers (I like it better the other way) Day, was to...

An aside.  I went to wiki and found this:  She (Anna Jarvis, founder of the original Mother's Day) specifically noted that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world."

That clears that up.  And, apparantly I am not the only one frustrated by the commercialism of the day.  Anna Jarvis herself grew weary of it all as well, in the 1920s.

You know what?  Here's a link to the page.

The commercialism of holidays is not my rant today, however.

I just going to blurt it out because I can't find clever way to get to this.  I think Mother's Day makes a lot of people, moms and dads, feel bad.  It's not so much the expectations of gifts and cards and book-bag cuteness that makes it difficult.  It's not dinner reservations and flowers, brunches and trips to the local farm place for pansies and vegetable starts that make us feel bad.

It's more fundamental than that.  Roles are changing have changed and the whole vibe of the day has not.  The cards are ridiculous, thanking mom for the cooking and raising the kids and cleaning and all that, when those things are more often shared these days.

My wife brings home the bacon and I fry it up, thank you very much.  Where's the card for that?  If we're thanking someone for maintaining domesticity, well, uh, thank you very much, I do do a great job.

Okay, well, that's not my point really either.  Ugh, I am digging a hole here I don't know how to get out of.  (I'll throw in a sentence ending in a preposition, to distract you while I think abou this.)

Here's the thing - it is plumb impossible to talk about Mother's Day without getting sloppily sentimental and trite.  I mean, have you seen the cards?  You can only say thanks and I love you in so many different ways.  Accolades and cute epithets amuse and entertain, but, seem sadly off the mark.  Addressing motherhood is daunting and impossibly complicated; how do you thank human nature and biology and love?  How do you say I love you to the wind, it already knows.

And I guess that's my point. 

So, instead of being getting "sloppily sentimental and trite" I sloppily did this sentimentally trite thing instead.

Yep, a picture of me, on the bias, holding a picture of the boys as babies.  I framed and wrapped it in tissue paper and gave it to her at breakfast

I'll wait while you get a Kleenex.

My wife, Marci, is the mother of Nick and Zack.  And, that changed everything.  I don't have to go on and on here; the wind already knows.

From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."
So we parked our car next to a cop car, with the cop sitting in it with his windows open.
We got out of our car, and Nick promptly, and adamantly, tells the cop (complete with his little hands up in the air), "I have never robbed a bank in my life!"

I saw the whole thing, officer, that child is indeed a smartass ...


Friday, May 10, 2013

First and Last Post

I read on some advice blog, a blog about blogging, that you should treat every post as your first.  On another advice blog, this one a technical site, it said to treat every blog post as your last.

Unless you are a novice at this, get paid for it, or are just plain crazy, you could be on the verge of ending the whole damn thing.  I know I am.  It takes effort and a certain amount of commitment.  And, to really make it big, even medium, you need to be a whole lot more technologically savvy than I am, and a lot more aggressive than I am, and a lot more willing to be just a pawn in the game here on the innerwebs.  Basically, I don't want a G+ account or a Twitter account or a Discus registration password or a YouTube channel or, for God's sake, a Pintrest page.  I don't want to beg and cajole everyone I know to get four-hundred Facebook friends or thousands of likes on my page.  The frustration of all of this sometimes makes me feel like giving it all up.  Done.

I'm not doing it right, am I?

And, I am pathologically naive.  I thought that if I offered up something interesting and new people, well,  would read it.

On the other hand, the assertion that we should treat every post as our first is extremely valid.  I have said repeatedly that this is a stupidly ass-backwards medium.  When you go to a site for the first time you read the most recent post, maybe scroll down and that's what you get, right off, the most recent thing.  None of the clever and carefully developed nuance of tone or voice, style or look, is recognized or, frankly, even considered.  A new reader doesn't know what your getting at from just one post.  And what if that one post is an ad or review or, say a craft made out of snacks.  That's just not what I am trying to do here.

Because of this, I am constantly linking to old posts and explaining backstory and, well, case in point right here.  Up there at the top of this page I mention that this thing is about childhood and my twins and nonsense and cute stuff.  Until that last sentence, you wouldn't even know I had kids, you could have assumed you were on an advice blog, or that I was some blah-blah-blob-blobbity-blogger with nothing worthwhile to share.

I'm not doing it right, am I?

I don't stay trendy either, or offer reviews of products, or make Star Wars references, or even have a book to offer you or that's in the works.  Nope, I don't have much to offer in this era of rampart consumerism and petty capitalism, although I do like LEGOs.  I don't recommend many products, except, apparently, LEGOs.  I don't really like computers, and loathe smart-phones.  I don't give advice because I don't think my way is the only way, that, and I fail a lot.

I do endorse grand ideals.  I believe in hopes and dreams.  I love wholly and boundlessly.  I think words matter.

I'm not doing it right, am I?

So this is neither my first nor last post, my best or worst post, funniest or saddest, most poignant or grand.  This is the post I'm doing right now, and, it's the one you are reading right now.  I better think quick:

I don't think I need the decoder ring and, alas, there is no magical ring that can make an eight-year-old boy make sense.  I'll leave it as is.

I know that Zack and his team have been hard at work on this and that it is really important to him, but there is more to me putting this here.

It’s hard to explain, but, I think when he reads this, someday, in “future perfect” world, he will be able to remember this precisely.  Part of what I am doing here is supplying the boys with details, tangible evidence of their youth, which, for me, and so many others, is lacking.  Sure, there are pictures and such of me as a kid, but, the real evidence of my own childhood, those precious memories, is circumstantial and questionable and, selfishly subjective. 

Sometimes, a smell will bring back a memory of a fresh plowed field being split by a sharp blade.  The shape of a face recalls an old hardware store; an old corded phone, a girl I longed for in high school; summer lightning in the distance assures me, because my father assured me and calmed my fears.  These are good, strong and sacred memories.  I cannot assure you of their accuracy.

So Z might look at these and remember that time, on the bus – Miss Leslie’s Bus – when he had an idea and was helped by his friends and made this specific thing.   

I think he’ll like seeing it again.   

I know I will.

I'm not doing it right, or, am I?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Focus Pocus

There is this hippie writing technique I picked up somewhere along my psuedo-artistic journey.  It's simple really, before you start your soon-to-be-inspired prose, you light a candle, a "focus candle," and it reminds you to stay on task.  You can pray or incant or breathe or stretch before during or after the lighting of the candle and ...

I am never focused enough to remember to light the stupid focus candle.

I lit it today:

I lit it and then I got the camera and  I took a picture of it and then I downloaded the image and then I inserted the picture above.  Wasn't I supposed to be focused on something?

Here's the kicker, I am supposed to stay focused because I only have a little time today and I can only devote so much of my time and brain to this page of nothingness.  It's energy outlaid with none returning.  (That damn candle is giving me flashbacks to the seventies, man.)

Knowing I only would really have time for one longer, more, uh, developed - better written - uhm, gooder, post this week I got to thinking about what I would put my mind to today; what one thing touched me or moved me or tickled me or soared my soul this week.  This came to mind:

Yep pretty cool, “Nick Peebles Boy Detetive (detective) #28.”  I’ll let you assume that’s his badge number although, I know it is not.    His very hip sunglasses are stashed up in there and, well, I am afraid to look any deeper, it might be booby-trapped.  (If they don't start working on spelling soon ...)

I remembered this image with a chuckle:

It’s a pair of Zack’s underpants dangling out of his drawer.  It’s the first time that’s officially happened and it actually made me laugh outloud.  It conjured up messes and bad habits and smells and so much more yet to come.  And yes, that is a lava lamp – a lot safer than an open flame on a wooden desk very near a stack of old school papers.  (What is that smell?)

This was a top contender as well:

Nick and Zack spent one whole cold rainy evening and the next morning working on this, together, as in a team, a sweet, adorable, heartbreakingly tender, team.  They consulted and collaborated with such ease and goodwill that, well, it sort of surprised me, in a happy sort of way.  It was so inspired that it is still taped up to the wall in the dining-room, for a while now, actually.  Maybe I can take it down now that I have it archived, if you will.

I like trying to remember things here that I feel they might recall later, when they encounter this, what? - memoir, digital scrapbook, blog, although that infers readership.  Drawings and stories and images that might spark memories for them, and me, and perhaps you.

Truth be told, when I got to thinking about what I wanted to do here today, the very first thing I thought of was this:

Nick brought this home from school as a simple pencil on paper sketch.  When he got home, he whipped it out and began adding the color.  It was intensely important to him, I could tell.  I asked him what it was and he told me, “Oh it’s just a coupla pearls in the shells.”  In an azure sea under a turquoise sky, shimmering, happy and hopeful.  Just a coupla pearls...


I just reached out to get a pencil to  jot down a thought and ...

... I singed my arm on the stupid “focus candle!”

Once he added the color he relaxed and looked at it.  I still don’t get it.  I don’t know why it was so important to him.  I’m not sure he does either.  It may have been about completion or biology or balance or aesthetics or hope.  Perhaps it was about focus.

I gotta go get the fire extinguisher something.
Sorry I sort of lost focus there after I threw the "focus candle" across the basement.

From Marci's  "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat.."

"We're a couple of greasy ducks, the happy kind."

I know I like my ducks greasy and happy ...

Just don't get 'em too close to the f***ing focus candle.