Friday, December 28, 2007

Andy Rooney

I got this in an email from my cousin. Roughly translated: this is probably already made the rounds and I'm the last one to hear of it. But this is the kind of talk that needs to happen on a regular basis. Hard talk. Telling it like it is. I may not agree with every aspect of what Rooney is saying, but I really appreciate that someone is willing to travel crossways across the grain. In particular, I like his views on the hypocrisy of reverse racism. Whites in America have become docile house pets. We watch the Mind of Mencia, laughing until our drink comes out the nose holes while he flips white people the bird. As I've said, that's all well and good, but have the cojones to take a little of your own medicine. Not gonna happen. Not in this lifetime.

Here it is:

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers.. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what happens...Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game .

I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, which is why there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts! ARE YOU LISTENING MARTHA BURKE ?

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an
opinion.

I have the right 'NOT' to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off.

When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling; it is the Law of Probability.

I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!

My father and grandfather didn't die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours.

I think the police should have every right to shoot you if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word 'freeze' or 'stop' in English, see the above lines.

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.

We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their interpretations.

I don't hate the rich, I don't pity the poor.

I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn't stop you from watching them.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better, and put your name on the building.

It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when necessary, and say 'NO!'

I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement. And, please, stay home until that new lip ring heals. I don't want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you serve me French fries!

I am sick of 'Political Correctness.'

I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa ; so how can they be 'African-Americans'? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was fromEurope . I am proud to be from America and nowhere else.

And if you don't like my point of view, tough...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Yoko Reference Was My Own

Just a quick note to say, that in my previous post, I referred to Jessica Simpson as Yoko Ono, the notorious femme fatale credited with breaking up the Beatles. Well, as it turns out, that reference was made by at least one other Cowboys blogger the day before.

In the interest of deflecting any plagiaristic accusations, I came up with that on my own. After the game, I didn't read about the game, stayed away from the blogs and sports shows, so I had no outside influences. Not that anyone would notice or care. This isn't a football blog, and nobody but Bailey comes here to read about the Cowboys (but I'm glad she does!).

And as they say in Mexico, hay no comparison!

As it turns out, hating on Jessica Simpson has become a sport after the collapse of the Cowboys versus the Eagles. In light of that, I retract my comment. At least in my case, it was a total joke--but an original one, and one that didn't require a whole lot of imagination.


It's easy to blame the presence of a woman. Not just any woman, mind you. Simpson is to hot what a blazing super nova is to a lighted match. I get it. But if Tony Romo is incapable of playing football from here on out because his sexual diving rod is pointed true north, then don't blame Jessica Simpson. You might as well blame it on Rio. It's the player that needs to step it up, and he will. Just hopefully this year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh the Weather outside is Frightful

Our driveway is a solid sheet of black ice, and there was a run on the local hardware store. Think Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life. Instead of a bank and a pathetic stack of money, it was Aubuchon Hardware and a palette of salt. I bought the last four bags and thought I would fight my way back to the truck.

We are low on food. Oh sure, we have boxes of Mac & Cheese, microwave popcorn, pb&j and lots of bread. But nothing to eat. Yesterday we decided to lump it. Wait out the storm; let the sun come out and set us free. We were good with that. Good that is until the television blinked out.

First my uniform: snow pants, winter coat, Elmer Fudd hat with macho ear flaps, Darth Vader gloves. Last bag of salt, next-to-last bag of sand, show blower, shovel--the works. Half hour later, wipers thumping, freezing rain, we're slogging our way to New Hampshire. Ice storm or no we are not paying taxes for a major purchase. Costco. Philips forty-two inch plasma flat-screen. Just enough room on the credit card. McDonalds drive-thru. Home again. Will it fit in the entertainment center? I measure, cross-check the width as reported on the box. No—Khaaaaan! Wait, that's the box width, not the unit. The reality? One inch to spare. I hook it up.

Sweet Lord! Football has transformed into a wide screen religious experience.

Half time already. Dallas down seven-three to the Eagles. Romo not playing like himself. Already with two interceptions. Wait! Is that Jessica Simpson in the stands? I holler, "Yoko!"

Game over—oh well. It's only one game. Hey, we're twelve and two. Nothing to sneeze at. Move on. I'm over it.

But I do think about deleting my last two football posts.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Promise

I've haven't been writing much, not here on my blog, not even on my novel that is dying a slow death. I'm not giving up, but that is the truth of it. I used to blog almost every day, and the confidence it gave me was energizing. Without it, I'm losing my flare. The words that come to mind are empty, repetitive and boring. So I need to back in gear. It has been suggested to me in the past that if I put so much energy into my blog that I would burn out for the real thing. I think I might have bought into that in a small way.

Anyway, I happened upon a contest that one of my fellow bloggers is having, and in the absence of any motivation whatsoever to do work yesterday afternoon, I applied myself to submitting an entry.

I've always wanted to write a western. You may or may not know that my avatar is a picture of the great Wyatt Earp. I love country music, or at least I used to. It's changed, and that's just the way it goes. When my dad complained about it, I didn't listen, so I won't expect any sympathy. But it's not the same anymore. You may have read somewhere that my favorite team is the Cowboys. Coincidence? I think not.

I don't watch westerns and I don't read them, except for Lonesome Dove, which is a masterpiece of literature by Larry McMurtry. I make no lofty claims to be near as talented, but one has to start somewhere.

Here's hoping I don't fall off the wagon again. It's time to get back to the routine of writing every day, whether it is here or elsewhere.

So thanks Bernita for having this contest. And I hope to see that Jason has some more in the near future.

Here is my entry:


Promise


Bobby snatched his pistol from his right hip holster and started into his pivot—

Crunch, head jerked forward, ringing like a gong.

Dog tired.

"Whoa. It weren't that hard," a gruff voice said. A tug on his gun hand. "Now gimme that." The loss jarred Bobby awake. The Colt. His daddy's Colt.

"That there was a love tap t'get yer attention." Cole spiked the shovel into the dirt a hairs breadth from the tip of Bobby's boot. "Now dig."

"You gonna do for me like you did my daddy?" Bobby rubbed the back of his head. Bone dry.

"You ain't never had no sense, Bobby."

"So you sayin' it ain't so?"

"I said dig."

"No."

Cole trained the Colt on Bobby's forehead and thumbed back the hammer. "This thing loaded?"

Eyes locked on Cole's, Bobby snatched the shovel and heeled it into the soft earth. "Six feet I reckon?"

The sun turned orange and dipped over the horizon. Bobby looked up in the failing light, neck-deep now in the hole. Cole's face stared down, aglow from the tip of a cigarette.

"The Beaton boys hung your daddy from that branch right there." Cole pointed.

"That's a damned lie. It was you kilt him--for the stolen bank money! "

"No, but they did. Do I look like a rich man?"

Bobby's shovel bit into ground with a hollow thunk.

"He died so's when his boy become a man he'd have the chance his daddy never had."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jackson

Today is your eighth birthday, Jackson. You don't know that I'm writing this, and you may not know it for years to come. But I want you to know how proud I am, and what has meant to me to be your father.

After you were born, your mother and I bought our very first house to make the best possible home for you. It was brand new, the walls flawlessly white. The one bit of color, and the only color it would get for the first four years was your room. Like the only ornament on a tree. We bought the best of everything: a crib, a rocker, shelves, changing table and dresser, stroller, car seat, Baby Bjorn, even a fancy country-style backpack that we only used once. Everything had to be perfect.

Your mother had a stack of books she read tirelessly, insisting that I read them too. Of course I didn't, because I am just a guy after all. I went to all the classes though. Lamaze. Even one on breast feeding. I saw some videos that still wake me up in the middle of the night.

There is nothing in the world that can prepare a couple for a new born baby. When you first came out, you were like a little alien that looked just like my grandpa. It wasn't real, and yet it was all too real. We had no idea what to do.

The nurse swaddled you in a blanket so that only your little scrunched-up face stuck out. You barely weighed more than a feather. I could hold you in the palm of my hand. And I did, quite often, just for the fun of it. I never let you out of my sight. When the nurses took you to the nursery, I followed right behind in case they tried to switch you out for another.

Despite the fact that we had spent so much time on your new room, you slept with mommy and daddy for the first year. We had read and heard accounts of what kind of trouble we had created for ourselves, that you would never sleep in your own bed. But when we finally did put you in your crib, you didn't mind at all. Lesson in life: don't believe what you read. Parents are just kids with deeper voices. The good ones do what's best for their kids.

I read to you every night, and thank God I did. Now you love books almost as much as you love video games, just like your dad.

Once I sat the video camera up on a tripod and filmed my advice to you in case I was killed in a car accident. I drew a total blank. Feeling embarrassed, I rewound and taped over it. Too bad. You would have seen how inarticulate I can truly be. Hard to believe, I know. It's one thing to know who you are inside, and another to put it into words with such confidence as to inspire the same in someone else.

When I look at you, I see a lot of myself. All the good things and none of the bad. We all have insecurities, and I have plenty. The advantage you have in this life is a mom and dad that will always look out for you. We won't yell or hit or belittle, and when we make mistakes we will apologize. That's a world apart from how we were raised. Instead of passing the buck, the buck stops with us. You will always have the advantage that our undivided attention will afford.

Mere words cannot express the ocean depths of my feelings toward you. When I see you smile your real, ungoverned smile, and hear the musical lilt of your laughter, it lights the darkest of darkest days. You are my son. You are the best part of me. You are the future, and it is my foremost purpose to make yours the best that it can be.

Happy Birthday, Jackson.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I don't think this works

I found this on Bailey's blog. There is a tool that rates the readability of your blog. Here is the results of checking mine:



I don't think it works though. I ran a check of some of my blog buddies and got a lot of elementary levels back, which is clearly not the case. Jaye at Jayes Blag though, scores very high, College Undergrad. That one does make sense.

I added the Library Thing to my sidebar. I'm in a deep-reading phase, taking notes and paying special attention to descriptive passages. It's amazing how difficult it is to describe how one walks from one end of the yard to the other. So I'm taking notes.

Vive los vaqueros.

The demise of the New England Patriots has been greatly exaggerated. So too the dominance of the Cowboys. Still, 12 and 1 and counting. A win is a win. And a come-from-behind victory with two minutes on the clock is the stuff of legend.

** Update **

In response to Beth's comment about the Colts: they definitely have a chance. More than a good chance, a great chance to go all the way. I'm overstating my confidence level in the Cowboys, by the way. Eight parts confidence, two parts wishful thinking. They have a long road to the Superbowl. Green Bay is not a gimme game just because we beat them once. Seattle is coming on strong, and the Giants aren't going to roll over and play dead either. In the AFC, I seriously doubt the Steelers are scaring anyone after getting humiliated by New England, but the Jags aren't to be overlooked. When the Colts are in the playoffs, they'll have Marvin Harrison back but will have swapped for Dwight Freeney. Regardless, nobody in New England will honestly be able to profess confidence when those two teams meet again.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Work, Kids and Football

I have finally submitted something to my employer that showcases everything I am capable of doing given enough time. In case some of you are wondering, I have been working on a web page that employs some of the latest and greatest technologies. It's nothing you as the general public can browse to and see. Though it is a web page, it is also an internal application bought and paid for by customers of my company. It's pretty cool just the same. The stuff I'm doing now is the next evolution in web page development. It's a damn good thing I'm on top of it. I have to be if I want to stay in the business.

As I was bringing my coffee upstairs, I took a moment to glance at my two kids sitting on the couch together. Emmett adores his older brother, Jackson. They were sharing a blanket. Jackson had turned off the television after a half-hour (twenty minutes on TiVo—sans commercials) of Ben-10, and was playing Nintendogs on the DS. I could tell by the sound of dogs barking. There is a feature of the game that displays a record player—you know, a phonograph record, 33 RPMs. The kids have mastered the art of using the stylus to drag the needle to the record, pressing the "record" button and making silly noises until the needle reaches the smooth middle. Then they laugh—no, they crack up—at the grunts, screams and fart noises they have left behind.


Hours of quality entertainment.

As I saw their two heads pressed together, faces alight from the glow of the screen, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. They will always have each other, long after I am gone.


My football team has quietly advanced to an eleven and one record. If it weren't for the raging success of the New England Patriots, our ascension would have attracted a lot more attention. This is the best time to be a fan of a football team, after years of rebuilding and frustration, to be a witness to the magic before the world knows what is about to happen.


The Dallas Cowboys are going to win the Superbowl this year. I can feel it. The Patriots are fading down the stretch while the Cowboys are getting better each week. Our defense is getting ferocious. New stars are blooming on each side of the ball. Bill Parcells built this team, but it took Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett to take advantage of the considerable talent Bill had collected.


If you love another team, I understand that you either don't or won't believe. Feel free to tell me so. But come February, in Tempe, Arizona, allow me to say that I told you so.


Monday, November 26, 2007

MySpace

A very long time ago I set up a simple MySpace page out of curiosity. It was nothing more than a simple bio; nothing that would give away any deep secrets about me, nothing to inform a reader anything more than there is a guy in this world whose name is Scott.

A year or so later I find out that my niece lives on MySpace – who incidentally is only eleven. I told her about it while visiting with her in Houston, showed my profile to her, and watched as she clicked on my photo until you could see electrons in orbit around a single atom of my nose.

When I had gone home, I wrote her a note using MySpace, and found that she was no longer on my list of friends. I called her up and asked what happened, but she played Jimmy-the-Dunce, saying she didn't know.

I let it go. Fine. Big, dorky Uncle Scott's picture was too embarrassing to include on her list of friends. It hurt my feelings, but I let it go.

That is my brother's daughter. My sister's daughter is only ten, who recently got her own MySpace account and is masquerading as a fifteen-year-old. She found me and added me to her friends list a couple weeks back. My sister too, and a couple cousins as well. They've been leaving comments on my photo – derogatory comments, suggesting that there are younger photos I should use instead. I didn't feel like commenting back and frankly I didn't have the time, and still don't. Work has me nailed to the wall and I shouldn't be spending the time to write this.

I talked to my brother and mentioned about how his daughter deleted me from her list of friends. He concluded that she was probably hiding from me. I gladly accepted that explanation because it hurt my feelings a hell of a lot less than my own explanation. But last night, my sister commented something to the effect that she found out the real reason my brother's daughter had deleted me, and that she, my sister, was deleting me for the same reason. Fix your page, she said, and then add her back.

Then her daughter wrote me a comment soon after, saying to fix my page, that I am married and don't comment back, that I was spying on her.

Excuse me?

I've been steaming about this ever since. The very first thing I did is deleted the MySpace account altogether. What started out as an experiment has turned into me being accused of being a voyeur or worse.

I'm so mad about this, on so many different levels. The absolute gall of my sister, and the disrespect! If I were there in Houston there would be a whole lot of attitude adjustments going on. To think that they feel they can treat me that way. Like I'm competing in some beauty or popularity contest. Since when do I have to earn the right to be friends with family?

You see, this is the kind of thing that fractures me from friends and family, the kind of thing that makes me want to scream, "Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?!"


 

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Football and Life As I See It

Some of you are probably wondering what I have been doing that I can't even visit or update my blog. It's a lot of things, really. Some I can't talk about, others are just not that interesting. Does anyone really want to hear all the minutiae of my job? It's exciting, believe me—but only to me and the few guys I work with.

I can't resist at least putting in a plug for my football team, the Dallas Cowboys, who are doing the impossible this year. They've won every game this year except for that heart breaker against the Patriots. But I have to say, this is shaping up like a really good movie. On one side, you have the New England Patriots, who have achieved dominance in the salary cap era. But unlike my beloved Cowboys of the 90's, they aren't withering away into obscurity. Quite the opposite—they are the toast of the league, and quite possibly one of if not the very best team that has ever been assembled. That's debatable.

And then you have the Cowboys. Once great, now a has been. Ever since we lost Troy Aikman, we've gone through a host of quarterbacks. To be the quarterback of the Dallas franchise used to mean you were the best of the best. There was a mystique. The search seemed hopeless. The magic was dead. And then came Bill Parcells, who said let there be a quarterback, and behold, there was one. An undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois quietly signed a contract to be the third string quarterback behind Quincy "Where is he now?" Carter and Chad Hutchinson, both of whom no longer play in the NFL.

You might have heard of him. He just signed a contract for 67 million dollars. He's young, good looking, has that small town, all around nice guy feel to him. He's been connected with first with Jessica Simpson, Carrie Underwood and most recently Britney Spears, though he denies anything to do with the latter, saying that they were simply at the same party. Riiiigggght... He probably doesn't inhale when he smokes either.

It didn't last with Ms. Underwood because, as she said in an interview with a reputable newspaper (let's just say, inquiring minds want to know), that he was just too much into football. Awww.

His name? Aw come on. You already know it. Of course you do. If you don't, then wait until February when they ask him the question they ask every Superbowl winning quarterback: Where are you going now?

The Patriots put a putting good stomping on the Cowboys a couple weeks back. I watched it in the enemy lair of one Mr. Schprock, who forced me to give him a high five when Randy Moss caught what at first glance seemed to be a touchdown. In the third quarter the Cowboys moved into the lead, the first such occurance for the Pats all year. Mr. Schprock was not happy. But he had the last laugh as the Pats tore us limb from limb, punching it into the end zone when the Cowboys were already buried. But if you were paying attention, this was a much better game than it seemed.

That's all I'll say about it now. We'll be back. And this time we'll be loaded with all our starters. And we're getting better every week.

So maybe football has me a little distracted.

I can't write about it here. Most of my readers have already clicked over to comment on the first line.

I haven't been writing, or even reading for that matter. I need to get back into it, but life is pulling me in different directions right now, but I can't let it tear me apart. Life is good and all those type of disclaimers, but I am distracted by family stuff, work stuff, and the daunting threat of moving across country. I'm not even sure I have the money to do so, and I'm taking a hard look at it. But the idea of digging into the financials is intimidating, and could destroy the world as we know it. Sometimes I think about when I was young, single, no responsibilities. Man, that was a piece of cake. But now I've crested forty and I'm losing my youth in ways that I can feel and see.

I don't know what I'm saying exactly. But I have to do something different than what I'm doing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kinda Tagged

You can pop over to MagnetBabe's blog for a more in depth description of what this meme is all about. Basically this is a trail that leads back to the originator of this meme. Each blogger has picked and linked his or her three favorites posts and included the preceding chain of bloggers and blogger links.

Revellian dot com - SEO Keywords For Beginners, Content: The Kings Illegitimate Stepchild, Tales of Blogger-X Illusion

Mariuca - Wishing On A Falling Star - Love In Disarray, In Love With A Dream, The Good Client

Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery - Perfume Shopping Spree, Defining Beauty, In Full Splendour

Speedcat Hollydale Page - Rocket Boy in Hawaii - DC9, Speedcat’s Death Ride into Terror!, The Boy Inside All Men

Terri Terri Quite Contrary - Just How Immature Are We?, Finding a Voice, So Much More to See than the Game

Mahala- Uncle Huberts Custom Cows, Pray for the Child at Big Lots, The Legend of Saushie's Crotch

Tiff - How am I like Ron Weasley, A Social Experiment, Absolutely Boring Entry 101

Cosmic Cat - Just An Ordinary Thursday Night..., Not Gone With The Wind. Just Gone., The "Weekly Thoughtful Reminder" And Other Hazards Of Working

Field Lines - Even MIT Girls Get the Blues, Bye Bye, Friend, Bad Hair Day

Hard To Want - Knock Knock, Off to College, Sorry Darin.

So in selecting mine, which at the time of writing this sentence I have not done, my dilemma is to settle upon what flavor of writing I wish to share. In the beginning I used my readers as remote therapists, then moved on to memoirs of my childhood; sprinkled along the way were cute stories about my kids. So I suppose the way to go is to choose an example of each.

So here goes.

This goes way back to my early days of living in Massachusetts, having recently moved here from California. I was just starting into my routine of working at home. Jackson, then only five years old, told me the cutest Knock Knock joke. And coincidentally, I called it Knock Knock.

As far as memoirs go, there are quite a few to choose from. This was a difficult decision. I see that I only had three comments on this post, and some of my others had plus-twenty, but this is a story I like to tell to anyone who will listen. It's from my college days, which resembled the old west because of the constant threat of getting my butt kicked. And that was the thrill of it. It's called Off to College.

My last is a confession of blatant cowardice when I was in sixth grade. I was mortified of the paddle, which was used liberally in our school system as a means of correcting behavior. If a teacher ever touches my kids in a rough way, I will personally show up in the classroom, drag the teacher by the hair to the nearest restroom and shove his or her face down a dirty toilet and flush. But in those days it was acceptable, and even encouraged by parents, especially mine. I had a hard time writing this post. It was my very first, and it shames me to this day. It's an apology to my best friend at the time, someone I don't know anymore. It's called Sorry Darin.

As for who to tag, that's a tough one. This is best for bloggers that tell the occasional yarn about their life, or just have some real knee-slappers once in a while. Trina hits on all cylinders, as does Mr. Schprock (hint, On God). Trevor is just not normal, and Jaye is a bit whacked as well. Beth (hint, your first "experience") should try this as well. Dig into your archives and choose well, my friends. All of you have some tough decisions to make, should you accept this mission.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Novel Research

I'm at the end of a development cycle at work. Tonight they lock down all the work we've been doing so the quality assurance people can make sure it all works with the intention of releasing it to the public. This is when my job gets hairy and scary.

I enjoy my job, but have I ever been so scarce as I have been for the last three or four months?

Just to let you know, I am trying out a new concept. I started a blog where I pose questions for professional people to answer. Right now I am searching out policemen, especially policement from the Houston, Texas area, where my work-in-progress ( WIP for those in the know ) is based. It's funny, but the wording of some of my questions is so poor that I'm afraid anyone who does stop by won't believe I can actually pull off a novel length work. I'll just have to edit when I get the chance. I've already got one lead on a Houston policeman, and I've emailed him to stop by. We'll see. This is a bit over my comfort zone, to approach strangers asking for favors. I feel like a poser for one thing, like I'm actually a novelist. I would feel better with one piece of work under my belt. But building a house starts a shovelful of dirt in an empty field.

I'm also storing my links there. One such link came from Jaye over at Jaye's Blahg, which contains references to character naming resources. You can get lost in link-land once you get started. It's fascinating.

I have about ten posting ideas, but I want to spend the proper time with them. I hope to make a round of visits soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Bumps in the Road

This morning I took Emmett to preschool as promised in yesterdays post. As my wife got him dressed, he picked up where he left off yesterday. By the time I had him in his seat, he was full-on crying about not wanting to go.

Anyone who has gone through this with their three-year-old will understand how difficult this is. But, as per Tee's comment, I had a secret weapon.

"Do you want a lollypop?"

"No!"

"Well, why don't you just hold it for me," I said as I handed it to him, his eyes following the motion like a cats to a ball at the end of a string. He managed to grab it from me without breaking his rythym.

"But I don't want to go to school!"

"What don't you like about school?"

"I don't get to see Kyle b-because he's n-not in my school anymore."

Kyle is still his friend, but since Kyle is a little older, he is in a classroom across the hall from Emmett. "But you see him on the playground, right?"

"Yes, but I don't want to go to school!"

"Do you need help opening that lollypop?"

He got quiet. "I can do it myself."

I heard the wrapper crinkle, so I adjusted the rearview mirror and saw him put the green lollypop in his mouth. Then he muttered almost under his breath. "Don't. Want. To-go. To-school." Little tears had stalled in mid-flight on each cheek.

We chatted for the rest of the trip. Talking about it seemed to calm him down. I think once he really analyzed it, school was about playtime and friends, two of his favorite things next to treats. But as we got closer, he reminded me that he didn't want to go.

"Let's go up together and we'll see what you think," I told him.

"And if I really hate it we can go home?"

I didn't want to lie. If I would have said yes, then technically it wouldn't have been a lie. If he made a big enough fuss, we would go home. If I said yes, then he would hold me to it. So I gave him the answer that most parents come to use far too often.

"We'll see."

Entering the classroom, I gave his teacher a look I cannot describe, but she understood my meaning. Code Red Alert.

She was very sweet, but Emmett went full-out, crying and begging to go home. At this point my resolve almost broke. When I took a step, he took twenty small ones in the same span, holding onto my leg and screaming.

The teacher was good though, this not being her first rodeo. She coaxed him towards the painting easel as I walked a small step behind. Then I leaned over and said in his ear, "I'm going downstairs for a minute, but I'll be right back."

He let me go.

Actually, that was a lie, one that I hope he forgives me for. I didn't go downstairs, and I didn't come right back. I hid on the other side of the door and looked through the crack, though I couldn't see him. He cried for a little while then stopped. Then started up again. I was on the verge when the teacher from across the hall saw what I was doing.

"It's hard, isn't it?" The look on her face was pure empathy.

"I feel like a traitor."

"Is that your boy with the orange shirt?"

"Yeah."

"He's in good hands with Miss De Matteo. She's kneeling down and talking to him. He's very close to picking up a paint brush." She looked again. "Oh yeah, he's thinking about it."

On the way home, I stopped at a local country store and bought him a candy snake that he talks about so much. That's what he'll get when his momma picks him up today.

Monday, we do it all over again.

*** Update ***

When I picked him up at school, he was sitting in a circle on a mat with the teacher along with the other children. When he saw me, he hollered "Daddy," jumped up and into my arms.

"Did you have fun?"

"Yes!"

I looked at the teacher who told me that it only took five minutes, and he had been happy ever since.

In the car, he told me how much fun he had, then chittered happily all the way home. We'll see how it goes on Monday now. But I think it will be much easier.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bumpy Start

This morning my second grader got on the bus. He went to the back and waved, like he does every morning, behind the glass of the rear exit door until the bus rolled out of sight. And there was me at the end of my driveway as the morning commuters launched past. Did they question the sanity of the tall, spastic, goofy guy who waves at them with a stupid smile on his face?

My preschooler cried his way out of going to school this morning. Momma negotiated for about fifteen minutes in the driveway beside the car. I could hear them outside my home-office window. Tomorrow, it looks like it might be my turn to take him in. It's time for a little daddy-tough-love.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Only the Good Die Young

I expected the usual freak-show, something akin to the department of motor vehicles when I walked into the shabby lobby of the courthouse building, but the people were strangely personable. The waiting room was filled with my fellow prospective jurors, some sitting around a long meeting table, others on chairs that lined the four walls. Overhead was a drop-ceiling, and the walls were wood paneled. Thankfully I wore a tee under my long-sleeved dress shirt, and more importantly, that I had brought John Irving's Widow for a Year to keep me company. I would turn out to be a long morning.

When we had filled out some basic information and had settled into the routine of being alone in a crowd, a dapper gentleman presented himself as the one of two judges, and thanked us for being there. There were seven cases being considered, and our presence, he told us, was just the threat needed to force settlements out of court. He was probably no older than me, slightly graying hair that seemed to lay just right for him. His manner was gentle, but his station implied a fierceness of character that was at odds with his appearance.

We sat in that room from eight thirty to eleven before we were summoned to the courtroom. Court officers stopped by to give us periodic updates, imparting amusing anecdotes with the casual practiced ease of comedians. They had trapped us in a little white box, but at least we were made to feel appreciated.

I knew that my chances of getting picked were pretty good when the clerk had first handed me a little white card featuring a bold number one on it. I had filled out an information sheet, which I perfunctorily scanned checking no, no and no, until I read the part about swearing that everything I had written was true and nothing was knowingly omitted, punishable by blah-blah in prison and blah-blah Perjury blah-blah. So I fessed-up to my one arrest, how I stuffed a beer glass into the inside pocket of my jean jacket at a college bar, how I tried to run and ended up face-down as the bottom rung of a pyramid of steroid-enhanced bouncers. When I heard that the case involved a drunken driving charge, I was sure I was going home. The defense surely wouldn't have a problem with me, but the Commonwealth certainly should have. No such luck.

From my initial vantage point as I sat at the back of the courtroom, I couldn't help but be a tad envious of the lawyers. This always happens to me when I meet someone who has succeeded in life, whether he or she is a commercial real estate tycoon, a heart surgeon, or a basement tinkerer who stayed true to a childhood dream that lead to the special effects studios at Skywalker ranch. These lawyers were regal in their sharp suits and short tidy hair; they were Chad and Biff, Greeks from rival fraternities, presidents of their respective houses. The defense lawyer—what the hell, we'll call him Biff—had a Colgate smile that projected confidence and not a small bit of that necessary evil that my fellow jurists all recognized.

Not until they opened their mouths was the spell broken. The prosecutor, Chad, laced his fingers together and steepled his thumbs as he paced before the jury box. He explained in excruciating detail how alcohol impairs our judgment like a teacher might address a group of special-needs students. His delivery was stilted and altogether unimpressive. Maybe I've watched too many court dramas, but this was a real let down.

Biff was another story. He had every bit of the confidence he had projected, but as he opened his mouth at such a close distance, I could almost imagine the smell of his breath. My face, quite expressive if I'm not careful to guard it, must have compressed into a protective grimace. Two sentences into Biff's address, and I had him pegged as a scum-ball lawyer, and as much as I hated to admit it, he was already winning.

The first witness was the officer who brought the charges against the defendant. Standing at the raised podium, the officer was still shorter than me, and he had a nervous habit of twitching his head like a bird after every statement. He was obviously nervous. Aside from his shaved head, he hardly resembled any rendition of a prototypical cop. He looked more like the awkward kid at school that even the geeks picked on.

He pulled over the defendant at 1:30 in the morning and asked the accused if he had been drinking. Yes, three or four beers. Do you have any disabilities that would prevent you from passing a road-side sobriety test? Yes, I have bad knees. So the officer proceeded to have him walk a straight line. The defendant walked straight, turned around, walked back and stumbled when nearly complete. Why? Bad knee; it gives sometimes.

A full hour later, the accused is at the police station blowing .03 above the legal limit. Case closed? Not quite. The defense offered that studies have shown that alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream at different rates depending on the person. At 1:30 AM, who can say what the defendant's blood-alcohol-content was? The prosecution didn't even address this point. The jury concluded that the dexterity test was inconclusive, and that since it was on the Commonwealth to prove the defendant guilty, and since the Commonwealth did nothing to address the defense's assertion concerning BAC, we found for the defendant. To the last person, we all agreed that the defendant was lying about everything. Of course he stumbled because he was drunk, and of course his BAC was the same or worse at 1:30 than it was at 2:30. But we all agreed that reasonable doubt was presented and not refuted by the prosecution.

The judge took us into chambers afterwards to thank us, and we told him what happened. It turns out that the BAC reading is considered by law to be the same within three hours from the time of consumption of alcohol, and that the only question to the jury is whether or not the breath-test is admissible. Why didn't the prosecution tell us that? "He would have been stepping on my toes," the judge said. He looked thoughtful for a moment. "I suppose he could have asked the officer 'Are you aware of the law that states…', and of course the defense would have objected, but I would have allowed it." The judge had been impressed with the defense lawyer. This was the first time in the courts history that a lawyer had used that defense. "I'm going to tell the defendant that he should kiss his lawyers feet."

But he also told us that we brought up some real concerns that he will address with his superiors. His hands were tied too. There is a script that he reads from such that it prohibited him from telling us those aspects of law that would certainly have convicted the defendant. It would have saved us the better part of day in useless deliberation.

There was one woman on the jury who stood against all of us, saying that she had no doubt about the defendant's guilt. We countered that we didn't have any either. The issue was about reasonable doubt, and whether or not the prosecution had proven the defendant's guilt. She held us up for a morning and half an afternoon, and nobody blamed her. What we were doing was taking the system literally, using the facts presented and not inferring from personal opinion, which she clearly was. In the end, she signed her name to the verdict, but she was not happy.

As we were preparing to deliver the verdict, she called us all a bunch of liberals.

"Excuse me? Did you just call me a liberal?" I said.

"Yes I did."

"I'm not a liberal."

"Yes you are."

"I'm a liberal because I can make an objective decision setting aside the bias of my personal opinion?"

Her lips tightened. She wasn't convinced.

"I voted for George Bush," I continued. "What kind of self-respecting liberal would do that?"

That did the trick.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I’ve Got a Thousand Ideas

But for now, just accept my sincerest hello, hope you're doing well. I'm behind on work after burning two days serving jury duty, which was a first for me, and a real learning experience. We let a guilty man walk because we took the law seriously.

I hope to pay everyone a visit soon!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I Want My Two Dollars!

There is a kid that wants so badly to have a play date with my son Jackson that he is starting to hound me in my dreams. He was in Jackson's first grade class, where I volunteered once a month as an assistant. I was mortified on one such occasion when he sat in front of me and jammed his hand down his pants between his butt cheeks. He was also on my soccer team, put there by league management because he monopolized his previous coach's time with endless questions and requests.

Towards the end of the season is when it started—the incessant drone, the rata-tat-tat of request after request for a play date, right in front of his parents who never took the hint. The reasons why I won't are two-fold. First, as bad as I feel for the kid, he's got some filthy habits. And two, his parents are strange. Strange can be good, but between them and myself there always hangs an oppressive and uncomfortable silence. With play dates come the parents, and if that doesn't work out, then the kids don't work out, not at this age. I'm damn sure not dropping Jackson off at their house, and that kid is not coming over here unless he wears latex gloves and he agrees to a prison-style hose down.

When soccer season ended, I thought I was free of this persistent menace. But this week Jackson is taking a community course on building with Legos. There are other courses going on at the same time. Walking down the hall to drop Jackson off, I heard a familiar voice come from an adjacent classroom. I panicked, looking for nooks and crannies, perhaps an open locker to jam myself into—but it was too late.

"I want a play date with Jackson!"

"It's a complex thing with work and all…"

"I think I've been very patient."

"I know, but I… I'll…"

"Let's get it done before Labor Day, ok?"

I have to walk this gauntlet for three more days, and baby, I'm counting.

I told my wife about it, and she got a big laugh. That is, until I told her that next time he asks, I'm going to tell him to have his mother give her a call. A bucket of ice water to her face would have chilled her less.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In The Rain

Yesterday was a departure from the norm.

The kids were stir-crazy. And by that I mean, they were bored – laying around like limp weeds, picking fights, tattling on each other – and the wife was low-energy and in low spirits. So we decided to go for a hike around Walden Pond.

It was overcast, so we brought a few umbrellas just in case it started to rain. By the time we pulled into the parking lot and paid our five dollars, it started to sprinkle. No big deal. It was warm.

On the trail, it came down a little bit harder. There were puddles forming, and I was wearing my brand new sneakers. But the puddles were easy enough to avoid. The kids were loving it as the drops polka-dotted their shirts. Normally I would have cautioned them to stand under the umbrellas, but they were like antelopes sprinting up the trail ahead of us and back. What the hell. They were having fun, and like I said, it was warm.

Then the rain started falling in earnest. It was awesome. Walden Pond was being assaulted, and the water level was rising. We crossed a little land bridge and continued on. And why not? The rain around here never lasts for very long.

Water poured through the forest, downhill toward us and into the pond. The puddles merged into a running creek now, impossible to avoid as I waded in ankle deep water. It was hard to hear one another as we finally decided to turn back. The little land bridge was gone now, but we didn't know it yet. We blew right by thinking that by keeping the water on our right we would eventually make it back. But the trail was no longer familiar; the brush became dense and nearly impassable. We abandoned the umbrellas altogether.

Thankfully my wife figured out what had happened with the land bridge and we were able to wade our way back to the main trail.

There were only three other people left when we emerged at the trail head, soaked to our underwear. We all had a laugh at ourselves as the kids went swimming fully clothed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weeds: Masturbation Lesson

Warning!

If you are offended by the explicit references to masturbation, please do not press play.

You have been warned.

We have just rented the second season of Weeds and just saw this for the first time last night.

We. Loved. This.

Nobody ever talked about sex with me, and not that I welcomed the subject either. This guy approaches the subject of masterbation like one would the subject of say, detailing a car. No big deal kid.

Understand that this family is raised by a single mother (who happens to be a pot dealer) whose husband (I think) got killed before season one even began. She called a plumber to investigate clogged pipes, who found that somebody had been flushing tube socks. Turns out the boy was using them to clean up his emissions if you will, and disposing of the evidence. She tried to speak with her son, but the talk went nowhere, so she asks her husbands brother to try having the talk instead.

And so, without further ado, here is what he had to say.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Quickly

I can't believe how busy I am. Working at home was supposed to be a way to gain more time, but instead it has been the great vortex. Now I do my own laundry because I am at home to do it. And the kids are in the office all the time, wanting to play games, or just to see me. For instance, I wrote one sentence and Jackson came in to tell me that Emmett knocked over a pile of clothes. The little guy announces every time he has bathroom business. It's cute but distracting. I've got more tasks around the house to do, and lunches last an hour and a half, ten minutes of which is spent eating.

There is a pile of papers on my desk of people and places I need to call, bills to contest.

As for that business with my father, I did indeed go the route of asking for the bill to pay directly. Dad didn't even blink. And more than this, he understood the reason why and didn't give me an ounce of grief. It turns out that the insurance wasn't cancelled, but there are two possibilities of how to proceed. The first is that they let him pay back retroactive, and thus my money flies out the door, money I don't have. Or two, they simply reinstate him with a four month waiting period. The latter case involves his wife finding out that he let the policy lapse, and that is what I hope happens. It would serve him right to eat the shit stew that he cooked up.

What else.

I've been trying to learn Hey There Delilah on the guitar, and have actually done it. It just needs some polish. A little out of my singing range during the chorus, but I'm not getting paid for it. I'm also trying to learn Sublime's What I Got, Iz's Somewhere Over The Rainbow (I play guitar, not Ukelele, so it is only approximate), Death Cab For Cutie's I Will Follow You Into The Dark and Oasis' Wonderwall (because I heard Charlie playing it on Lost). In my spare time of course.

Still plotting, but that has taken a slow-down turn. I lost inspiration for a while, but watching a few movies, and reading the latest Harry Potter, kind of got me back into the groove. Something my mentor said has been haunting me too, that I have too many characters. Now I want to create even more, and it's got me a bit down. I have to believe though that my instinct is driving me in the right direction, that I should just do it and ignore that.

The new Harry Potter is gripping. Rowling is a great story teller. That could have something to do with why she is richer than the Queen of England, right? I'm only on page 187 right now. The ladies at the library started reading it the night before and finished it before I even had a copy in my hand. That's dedication. And that's how you judge success.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hit Up

My dad just hit me up for twelve hundred to pay for the insurance policy that he let lapse. This happened a couple years ago, and I ponied up then like I'm doing now. What can I do. He's my father and as much as I know that he has done this to himself, I don't have a choice.

That's not true, but it's so true.

A year or so ago, my dad called me and asked me to finance his move to Alaska. He had a job lined up sitting behind a desk and designing plans for a friend's construction outfit. I called his friend and had a little talk. It had the flavor of a cold call, because I've never actually met the man, though his son was on my high school football team.

"When is the last time you heard from my father," I asked him.

"Oh, I'd say... it'd have to be going on twenty years now."

"So I take it then that he doesn't really have a job with you if he comes to Alaska?"

He laughed. "No."

I thought about this for a moment. "Would you give him a job if he asked?"

"I don't want you to take this the wrong way--"

"Don't worry about it."

"--but your Dad was a loose cannon when he was here the last time. I have no reason to think he would be any different now."

"No, you understand him perfectly, Tom. I appreciate that you told me."

Dad's made many requests for my money, and each time it is so difficult to say no. Now he's getting old. His back and hips have had surgery, and there is more damage in need of repair. Thus the emergency we have today.

But how in the hell did he let something so critical just go away? I'm tempted to pull the net. Five years ago he wanted me to cosign for a cabin costing eighty grand, with his wife on the other line telling me to refuse, refuse, refuse him because she would rather die than move to that cabin.

I had a plan that I could take a second mortgage on the house and borrow enough to buy a fixer upper and have my dad do the work. It was almost set when his wife called me and reinforced the nagging doubts in my head. "Don't give him a dime, Scott. He means well, but he will spend it all. All of it. And you will lose everything."

I see my kids faces, and I wonder if I will some day be like this. Please God don't let that happen.

If I listed out all the scams, cons and outright crimes my father has committed, you would be stunned. There's something wrong with him. Up in the head. He's a force, a wrecking ball, and someday he will be mine to take care of.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'll Keep on Plugging

It's highly unusual of me to post on the weekend, but I felt like I should reply to all the responses to my last post. First, it is nice to be appreciated. More than nice, actually. When the blog started, it was, as Natalie (magnetbabe) pointed out, a place to lay out some of my memoirs. More than this, it was a place to confess all my sins. To my knowledge, I have never lied about my part in things. I was going to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that anyone who ever said a bad thing about me was absolutely correct. I told you about the time I laid the blame on a friend in fifth grade, how he accepted it, and how the teacher exposed my black little soul. I can still feel the sting.

I worked through my childhood, through all the step mothers, life with my philandering father. And then the well went dry. What else was there to say?

I found a post where I promised to write a new short story every week or some such. And that might have happened if I didn't lose my job in California. Life changed and my priorities with it.

And now I'm writing a novel. At least I hope I'm writing a novel. I'll only be certain when I finish. The blog has become a hodgepodge of posts about what I have determined to be of no interest to anyone. When I wrote my memoirs, there was an energy there, and a punch that I knew would be sure to knock you in the jaw. I want to feel that again.

But it feels good to hear that, despite it all, you don't mind having me around. I'll keep on plugging. And you never know, I might just find my wings again.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nada Mucho

I'm going to attempt the blogger rounds today, throughout the day. There is a little break in my action, which sounds like I'm out-of-my-mind busy, but the truth is, that's only a part of it. I'm not sure if I'm going to be a full-time blogger anymore. In the library just the other night, I was describing to a lady friend the experience of watching the opening scene of Star Wars for the first time. Afterwards, she told me I should write about it. My first thought was to build an entire story around a fictional character set in that time, and not to share it here on my blog.

This is not to say I quit. But I have gone stale. What motivated me in the beginning is totally gone. Perhaps because I've written a few scenes with characters that are so charged with life that my own seems mundane. Or maybe I just want to save it; instead of telling the truth, as I like to do, I could really lay it out and have some fun with it.

I have a deep admiration for writers that can take their ordinary day and turn it into something special to read about. Someday I might be that kind of writer too, but there is something lacking in my appraisal of the world around me. There is something there, inside, simmering, steaming to come out. For some reason, the blog is not providing its release. Maybe it will in the future, when I figure out what it is that is bugging me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sometimes Too

I'm in the mood to write something, to stretch a bit. Outlining is good but it can be a stumper to creativity. Working at home has presented some unique challenges that I shan't go into. But less time is what it all boils down to. And the time I do have I am extremely not motivated.

But, Emmett said two cute things this weekend, and I thought I would share. We spent the waning daylight trolling in a river on a friend’s boat, and the captain let my son Jackson take the helm. That evening, after our guests had treated the boys to ice cream, Emmett sat on a high barstool next to the kitchen island chatting happily with our friend Terri.

He told her, "I always like your house."

He's three years old mind you, and just as cute as can be imagined. He asked Terri if she had ever seen a cartoon the name of which she couldn't make out. She said she hadn't.

"He picks his bugars and eats them."

"He does?" She said does more like du-uhhhhh-zzzzz…

"I eat my bugars some times too."

Friday, June 22, 2007

SNL- Sally O'Malley

We have a new appreciation for Molly Shannon after this one.

SNL - Urigrow Commercial

To entertain you while I'm away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sounding Like a Broken Record

I have a really great idea for a blog post, but I don't have the time to devote to it right now. It doesn't paint me in a good light, but I'm going to be honest with you about how a teenaged boy once thought.

But not today.

Thanks for the well wishes, the comments and the visits. I'll be back when things slow down. I haven't done any writing in two weeks, so what free time I get I need to at least get some done.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Making a Splash

I've been diligently trying to make a splash at my new job. For those who don't know, I took a chance on a Michigan company that hired me sight-unseen over the phone. Contrary to my wife's suspicions, they are on the level, and I came home from my visit with them with all my organs. As soon as my name was on the dotted line, they let down their guards and told me that filling my position was difficult. They struck out twice trying to do so. The first developer worked for three months before admitting he was in way over his head. The second played cool, but was totally unreachable for two weeks. When the company called, the wife answered and would say he just stepped out.

So that is the environment I stepped into. All eyes were on me. I got myself an MSN account because they all communicate via the MSN messenger. At first I would get two or three messages first thing in the morning: "u there?"

They gave me an easy assignment as a test to see if I could deliver. Part of the assignment involved a technology I've only heard about, but have never personally worked with. Fine. They knew that from the interview. Sometimes it pays to be honest. But what I did say is that I'm capable of picking up the new stuff and making a go of it. They took me at face value.

I backed up the talk, finishing the assignment in one day.

No ticker tape parade. But I can only imagine the collective sigh of relief.

But working at home is presenting me with some challenges that I hadn't foreseen. I'm working harder than I did when I went to the office. My writing time has been impacted. I used to go away and do so at lunch, but now I barely even take a lunch. My friend Clay called it new-job-enthusiasm, and baby I've got it. The wife has suggested that we eat lunch, take a walk, then I should sit down and write every day.

How's that for support!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

You may recall the post in which I declared that against my initial instinct, I forced my son, Jackson, to play baseball. This caused me some inward reflection. One the one hand, Jackson didn't want to play, but on the other, he never really wants to try anything new unless it involves the Nintendo DS or mass consumption of sugar. He is seven years old after all; even though he looks older, and in many ways acts older, he's still just a little boy.

This weekend I was painfully reminded that he was on the field against his will. It didn't help that we just saw Meet The Robinsons, where we come to find out that the bad guy started down the dark path of his life because he fell asleep in the outfield and lost the little league championship for his team.

Jackson struck out three times in a row. I sat next to him on the bench and tried to console him, but he was on the verge of tears and was unreachable. We'll go to the batting cages this week, I promised. Everyone goes through a slump; you just have to work through it. Hollow words upon deaf ears. His heart was broken.

I questioned the decision to make him play. Were those welled-up tears because he had let me down? All my words of reassurance would never take that away. He would believe only what he felt in his heart, that his daddy wants him to be a good baseball player, to go onto the majors and make millions of dollars.

His next at bat, a miracle happened, a crushing ground ball through the infield. His smile as he leaned toward second was the healing balm of my heart. Thank God! The next at bat, same thing. At this point I hoped the game would end, but his name came up again.

I was all nerves as he stepped up to the plate. You might be laughing right now. It's of little consequence, you might think, a little league game like this, so early in life. But, in my opinion, this is the time when patterns are learned, and what, for better or for worse, will be repeated throughout a peron's lifetime. For instance, if I would have pulled him out and let him quit, he would likely always be a quitter, and never know what its like to fight through adversity.

His last at bat, Jackson hit a rocket into the outfield, over the fields heads and it rolled to the fence. I could have killed the first base coach for not sending him to second base, but I'll take it nonetheless.

The best part is, the coach gave Jackson the game ball. One of his teammates, who is also in Jackon's first grade class, said that he has never seen anyone from the team hit a ball harder.

This is what I was talking about. That's the feeling you don't get sitting at home playing Gameboy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Vision

At the airport in Detroit, I met the two guys with whom I will be working, assuming I like the job and they like the code I produce, for the next several months or even years. The guys both work remotely for the company, and have been for six plus years apiece. So we all met at the airport and went to Enterprise together to pick up our cars.

Individually we were responsible up front for charging for our own accommodations, including the car. I got the smallest compact, but as I was being escorted to it, the man said to me, For seven dollars more a day you can be driving a Mustang--how would you like this black one?

One look and I said gleefully, I accept!

But first I had to talk the guys into doing the same, which they did.

So already I was taking advantage of my new employer, but so were the incumbents.

I met up with Kathleen as well, after asking the wife for permission. I thought about just doing it and saying nothing, but how would that have looked, huh? I called Mr. Schprock for advice on the matter, we being two bloggers who have met and have an interest in meeting our fellow bloggers when opportunities like this arise. Be up front about it, he advised, supporting the decision I had already made. My wife was really cool about it.

By the way, Kat is super cool!

I was the new guy, that's for sure. I'm used to being the center of attention because I'm so fucking funny, but I had to take a back seat on this trip. The guy I'm working for is a story teller just like me, and I squelched the urge to offer counters to his stories at a company dinner. A little voice told me to keep my mouth shut. I've heard that voice before, and though I rarely listen to it, it has never been wrong.

I managed to get some reading done on the trip. And I worked on the dreaded outline for my story. Lo and behold, it produced positive results. I might actually have most of the story worked out from beginning to end. Not totally, but in essence it's there. In two weeks I'll present it to my writers group and see if they don't think so too.

I met out with my writing mentor last evening for a few drinks. We bounced around Lowell and hit three pubs. He's a university professor, and knows almost everyone there. He's got the gift for gab, and really draws others into a conversation. Our waitress at the last stop was, how should I put this, out of this world. My mentor asked her a question and she broke into a long animated talk about her future ambitions with nursing, dancing, etc. I barely heard a word of it because I was too busy watching her mouth form the words. She had perfect everything, and was so unpretentious and sweet. She reminded me of the kind of girl I had a crush on in college, the kind that dated presidents of the best fraternities. I was also reminded of Rachel Smith, our Miss USA that fell down and popped back up and went back to work like there was nothing to it.

I'm married, so don't get the wrong idea. She was a vision, and so is my wife.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Entrepeneurial Spirit

This has been my week between jobs. Last week I said goodbye to my old company, and I felt a pull. The pull of self doubt. Pull is actually a weak word -- tug perhaps is more appropriate. But this week I find myself completely at ease. The people I thought I would miss so much, let's just say not so much. This isn't my first rodeo cowboys and girls.

I know these lyrics by heart:
I've been in and out of love and in between
And now we play the final showdown scene
As the credits roll the sad song starts to play
And this is where the Cowboys rides away.


Into the city named for the man who defeated Santa Ana after the massacre at the Alamo. Did you know that Santa Ana went into exile in Cuba after that? And that he was brought back by the Americans on the condition that he rally popular Mexican opinion on the side of America in the southern Texan border dispute, thirteen years before the Civil War? He was given troops, and then he marched against us.

I had no idea.

Thank you Jeff Shaara for making it so interesting.

Ah, so, like I was saying...

I'm flying to Michigan to meet up with my new employer on Sunday. My wife asks me if I'm sure this company is legit; I say I guess so. How do you know they aren't organ harvesters?

My son (two weeks ago?) got paid thirteen dollars for a back rub at school. He's in first grade (to give you perspective). Keep in mind that we had to piece this all together and pay a visit to the school principal.

It all started with a note from the teacher reporting that my son was inappropriately touching a girl in his class.

Now I don't know what races through your mind when you hear (or read as it were) such a statement, but head was spinning. He wasn't much use under interrogation. Funny, but he was not unlike Bill Clinton, deftly dodging the questions, not really answering, or playing along with the scenerios I posed, that kind of thing. Then it was useless to keep asking.

Then I saw the money in his Pokemon wallet. I said Where did you get that money? He says her name. For what? Rubbing her back. I think, I thought you said it was an accident. But then I think, No, I suggested that it was an accident and he played along.

I go downstairs and tell my wife. I'm calling her parents, I say. I can't have them thinking that we would keep it. No, my wife says, Let's talk to the principal.

Next morning I'm in the front office. He's a fuzzy little man, a pip squeak, the kind that always got picked last. I interrupt the coffee talk he's having with the secretaries, or whatever they call themselves these days.

We go into a side office and slide him the money and explain.

He laughs, says What kid would turn down money? I laugh too, say, I have to admit, I admire his entrepeneurial spirit. But where did the girl get all that money?

He scratches his head, says I'd better check and see if she still has her field trip money.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I Feel It!

Congratulations, you are officially the conduit of my writer's block.

Give yourself a hand!

You see, I am officially writing a book. Now keep in mind, I've said a lot of things in my life, but this time I really mean it. I've made claims that simply weren't true, though I would have denied it at the time, even to myself.

Some have been blatantly false, as in I was just taking a piss. To feel good, because growing up, feeling like me sometimes was too much to bear. That's not the way of it now, so don't feel sorry; it was a different time. One of my college favorites was pretending to be the quarterback of the Washington State Cougars. You had to be pretty stupid to believe it, or perhaps I'm being too self-deprecating. Any guesses on what my name was during the spinning of this yarn?

I also used to pretend to be a member of a "cool" fraternity, to see how the sorority girls would react. There were some houses that were known for only admitting the creme de la creme, so naturally, I wanted to see what it would be like to be part of those elite, and to see if the girls believed it was possible. Most of the time they did. I met a girl in Boston right after I had graduated from Potsdam, so I was still young and could pretend to be in school still. She was gorgeous. And after telling my story for an extended time, I could see that she was actually falling for it in a bigger way than I had expected. And that's when I knew I had blown it. I said I was a Sigma Chi, which I had been for a couple months. She asked me for the secret handshake, which I knew. But something in my manner gave me away. I'm guessing it was my guilt. As she stomped away, I knew I had given my last performance.

But I'm way off on a tangent here. I'm talking about the lies I tell myself, which naturally extend to the rest of the world. I tell myself that I can do anything, that I can learn guitar for instance, that soon I will be good enough to be in a band; I'm a great singer, though I'm actually quite limited; I'll someday own my own computer software company; I'm a great manager of people. It's the power of positive thinking on steroids, and it has its advantages. But after awhile, people stop listening, or glaze over as I describe my newest, biggest dream. Writing, however, is more than a dream. I'm actually doing it.

My mentor has read quite a bit of my work in progress, and for the first time, I'm getting the sense that he really believes I can do it. Not that he hasn't been in every way quite positive and complimentary, and maybe nothing on his end has changed; maybe the change has occurred inside me.

Either way, the result is the same.

I'm tasked with outlining my story, and that is how I started this post, looking at the blank screen of my outline and thinking, "What else could I do right now to avoid this for a little while more?" But I did manage to eke out some more details (I started this post late last night), and even came up with a killer ending, and more than one scene in between.

It's gonna happen. I feel it!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'll Miss it Here

Tomorrow will be my last day at my current position here in Watertown, Massachusetts. As a send off, a bunch of coworkers took me out for drinks. I got the night off from father duties in order to really take advantage of the night.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turn out. You gotta love it when you reach for your wallet and they tell you to put that thing away. I stayed out late, drank more than I have in who knows how long, then drove to my faraway home in boonesville. By the way, I know it's irresponsible to drink and drive, but like Sam Kinison once said, I don't want to drink and drive; it's just that there's no other way to get the fucking car back to the fucking garage.

By the way, Sam was eventually killed by a drunk driver.

That's no joke.

So I am trying not to think about it, but I'm really going to miss these guys. Tomorrow I'll be going out to lunch with the crew, so today was my last trip to the Meat Spot deli, where I have gone faithfully for almost a year now. They are the best people; Dick and Harry are the Armenian brothers that own it. Karen, Dick's wife, always has a smile and book recommendations for me. Their daughter works during the summer once in awhile, and has Karen's looks and personality -- cute as a button (and miraculously only in eighth grade). I brought a coworker who just started yesterday with me, and introduced him as my replacement. Harry though... he's my favorite. Quiet, unassuming, a perfect gentleman, the kind of guy you love to make laugh. As they bid me heartfelt goodbyes, I promised to bring my wife in sometime to meet them. Walking back to my car, I have to admit that I felt a little misty.

I'm getting sentimental in my old age. Good people are never to be taken for granted.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eight Random Facts about Me

I've been tagged by Toni, Shawn and Jason. It's about time I got on with it.

1. I was one of the last kids in my school to swear off Sesame Street. When I was in eighth grade, I still had a stack of 45 RPM records with such famous hits as the Sesame Street theme song, Somebody Come and Play, I Love Trash, I've Got Two Eyes, and Big Bird's alphabet song (the one where he finds the alphabet chalked onto the sidewalk and thinks its one big word). I couldn't get enough. While the world dreamed of living in a yellow submarine, I was playing games at the ladybug picnic.

I put them away for good when my step-brother announced it to my schoolmates.

The great sadness of my childhood was that Ernie, Bert, Grover, Oscar, Big Bird, Kermit, Cookie Monster, The Count (ah, ah), et al were not real. I dreamed of a living, breathing Muppet world and vowed when I was in sixth grade to bring them to life, so I bought a science book from the grade above me and read it from cover to cover. When I finally went to college, Robotics seemed like too much math, so I settled for a generic computer programming degree instead.

2. When I was in fifth grade, all the neighborhood girls three or more years younger than myself had crushes on me. Nobody my own age, of course. So I set up a kissing booth thinking to make a few dollars. This created a "swarm" of about fifteen girls, so I crawled on top of a mobile home trailer and dangled my hand. The first stepped up and pecked at it like a woodpecker until I jerked it back and closed up shop.

There was another girl that was older than me that always referred to me as dimples. She always greeted me on the bus as such, then laughed as I squirmed and turned red. If she ever saw me around the neighborhood, she would chase me, threatening to kiss me if she caught me. I was too fast.

3. I've always had a dream, and not so coincidentally, same too with my father. Thankfully, I at least was instilled with a worker gene.

4. In college, while wrestling with Jeff Gordon, I threw him onto his guitar, snapping the neck clean off it. I didn't have money or any access to money, so he took my skis as collateral until such a time as I had it fixed. At the end of the school year, situation unchanged, I took my skis back. He asked, "How do I know you'll make good?" I answered, "You don't."

That summer a friend bet me that he could shimmy up the side of a skinned log we had stuck in the ground as the first ingredient of a home-made crane. He didn't make it five feet. Instead of paying me, he offered a guitar that he had taken from a previous business partner who had screwed him out of some money. I accepted. The next semester started without me in attendance, but I took a special trip to Washington State University in order to make good on my word. The guitar was far superior in quality and sound to the one I had broken. It even had built-in pickups for plugging into an amp. I was feeling quite magnanimous as I handed him the guitar in a beautiful, hard-shell case.

Jeff picked it up, strummed it once, leaned it against the wall and said, "Thanks. I've got a lot of homework to do, so if you don't mind…"

5. I have an obsessive personality, whatever that means. For example, when I finally got it in my head that I wanted to play guitar, I drove everyone absolutely bat shit crazy talking about it. I played Johnny B. Goode in my room over and over until Dave Haase finally told me to play something else. Then I went through a Doors phase. In college it was The Wham Rap, which led to Lip Synch. Later, much later, in the bars, happy hour, after work, it was Karaoke. Then it was La Fonda Del Sol where a band had me sing Cover of the Rolling Stone. Then it was softball. Now it's writing. I talked a lot about it as recently as a month ago, but now, for some reason, I don't blather on about it, preferring now to get something done and let the work do the talking for me.

6. I'm phenomenal at making new friends. Keeping them… now that's the trick.

7. At forty two, I think I'm finally over high school. Maybe.

8. I have an infinite capacity to love and forgive, and I often wonder why people don't see that. Then again, maybe they do.

I'm supposed to tag eight people, so here goes: Tee, Mr. Schprock, Beth, Jen, Natalie, Toast, Peter, Unlucky Girl. I'm not sure if the last two would even be interested, but I think they would be interesting.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Coach Johnson

I don't know if I've told this story before, but all this discussion of junior sports, about winning and effort and what's important, has got me thinking about a time when effort meant more to my coach that the actual results.

Damn if I'm not forgetting my team name at the time, but I was in sixth grade in Akron, Ohio. We were playing the best team in our league. They could hit and field, and didn't have a weak player on their team. At least that was my impression. They would eventually take the championship trophy home. But on this day, they had to go through us.

We were pumped. Though we were huge underdogs, in our hearts we knew we could beat them. I played first base, and can still remember the intensity I felt on the field. The only play I can remember was a line drive shot over my right shoulder. I reached up with my glove hand (my left) and pulled it down to end their inning.

It was electric. We really came to play.

But in the end, we lost.

There were two traditions after any little league game in those days. You shook hands, and then the winners went for soft serve ice cream at the custard stand.

Shaking hands was always a perfunctory ritual. Get in a line, shuffle forward, slap hands on the way by muttering "Good game, good game, good game..." But today, as we passed by, I got real hand shakes. I felt the relief, saw it in their faces, heard it in their voices. "Great game, oh my God! That was close, nice snag you had there..."

Still.

Heads low, we gathered around the coach as he called us in for the obligatory speech. I'll try to reconstruct it, but keep in mind that this is only a reflection of the emotion I can still feel after all these years, after the details have faded away.

"You boys played one tough game out there today."

I thought, "Yeah, but not good enough."

"I have never been more proud of you than I am right now. By all rights you should have won that game, and it's only by dumb luck that you didn't. You played your hearts out."

He looked at each one of us, making sure we were paying attention. There was no mistaking his sincerity. "Now I'm not supposed to do this, but..."

We perked up like dogs hearing a sound outside the human range.

"I'm taking you all out for ice cream."

Today we have a thousand flavors to choose from, but back then it was chocolate and vanilla. I've probably sampled each of those myriad flavors since; but never, ever, has an ice cream tasted so sweet as that plain vanilla cone did that day.

His name was Paul Johnson. I'm betting that his son, Paul Johnson, Jr., my erstwhile friend, classmate and teammate, is a little league coach today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Word of Explanation

I'm getting the feeling from the response to my last post that I've sold myself as a different kind of person than I am.

I love kids.

And many of you know that. But I have to be clear on one point. As a coach, if I have six kids on the field and six sitting, the six that are on the field need to be playing to the best of their ability. I don't mean to say they should be the best in the league, and not even the best they can be. But they better be out there trying and paying attention. Or they will be pulled out until they get that.

I'm not going to be responsible for scarring kids for life, and if you ask any parent whose kid is on my team, you would not get one of them saying that I'm being unfair in any way. I had one parent observe that his kid hadn't played in a quarter, but one kid has to sit every quarter of a game, and that has to cycle through every kid in my team. The only criticism you could level, and one that would fall on deaf ears, is that I don't make my best players sit out.

A game is about having fun. On that we all agree. Where people diverge is on what the definition of fun is. Fun for me is hard play, and yes, winning. Winning is fun. There I said it. Winning is FUN. Losing is not fun. The trick is balancing a winning strategy while spreading the play time around to all the kids involved.

So, to be clear, I have several players on my team that have absolutely no soccer skills. They can't kick, pass, stop a ball or get in someones way. They simply do not exist on the soccer field. They get equal playing time, and when they make a play, any play, coach Scott is out there letting them know.

But, I'll admit that I did want to have an assembly of kids that could really play the game, mostly so that my son could know what it was like to be on a team of crackerjacks. I still remember when I was a kid and won a little league championship. The feeling was beyond description, and it lasts a lifetime. And it doesn't happen to everyone, and maybe I'm hopping on that ride too soon. But I promise that I'm not taking it out on the kids, that they are having fun, and I would rather shoot myself through the head than to give them a bad experience of the scarring variety.

We've all had them. I'll never forget mine, and I won't be responsible for dishing them out. I still want to win my games. I give it my all just like I want my kids to give me theirs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sweet and Sour Weekend

Mother's Day we took my wife to the Brimfield Antique Show. I was prepared for an extremely boring day of shopping. As it turns out, it was kind of neat. The proprietors of each station are some kind of hybrid between carnies and deadheads, selling some pretty random shit. I should have kept a notebook of some of the more obscure, such as a child's toy that I remember from my own childhood. It was one of those panels that have a series of knobs that click, whir and ding, a rotary telephone dial. Funny thing is, for as old as it is, my kids zoned in and went to work on it. I had to pull them away.

One station had old band equipment, used up trombones and tubas. There were ancient baseball mitts, catchers gear, helmets, and bats. Arrows with the guide feathers stripped. Crazy. And old man scrutinized us as we sifted through the trash. As we left, he seemed angry that we didn't buy anything, picking up the tuba and slamming it with a thundering crash back onto the pile of twisted brass.

I ended up buying a collection of old pinup art of sexy ladies in embarrassing situations, such as the time Marilyn Monroe stepped over the street vent, and she had to hold her hands down in front of her to keep it from blowing up. My wife is still trying to figure out why.

The day before, on Saturday, my son had his sixth game of the soccer season. You may already know that I am coaching this team.

Now this is where some of you are going to diverge on your opinion of me. This is an under eight league, meaning that the kids are only seven years old. I am all about having fun; but fun for me is all about winning. I could amend that by saying that I can take losing as long as our effort was a hundred percent. But to me, there is no sense in playing anything unless you are there to play.

There is another coach in the league that handpicked her team and gave everyone what was left over. When I was asked to coach originally, I was able to have a few choice players as well. My aim was to have a team that could compete on game day, so my son could have that experience. Last year the coach didn't care, and it trickled down to the players. I could see it on the kids' faces that they didn't like losing.

So once I had my team in place, the aforementioned coach didn't like that my team looked so good, and it got around that I was stacking my team (I know this sounds ridiculous, we are talking about kids here--I get it). So, I gave one of the other teams that didn't have many talented kids basically my best player. So, the aforementioned coach decided that she had a kid she didn't want, so she gave him to me.

That same player's father this weekend complained to me when we were up five to four with three minutes left in the game that his son hadn't played in a while. It was true, but one kid needs to sit per quarter due to the number of kids on my team. It was his turn. However, I acquiesced, and put his son in the game, the same kid that just earlier was contemplating the mystery of a hole in the ground while he should have been defending.

The other team tied it up. Then, when we got the ball back, this kid gets the ball and dribbles it backward, toward our goal. He passes it to the other team, and they scored the winning goal.

I have been going back and forth about this in my head. My whole goal for this season has been dashed. Now I have to be a smiley bobble head and say that it's just about the kids and having fun.

But I tell you what, I could have strangled that kids father. At the same time, I'd hate to be in his shoes.

Oh, by the way, my son is totally digging baseball. We bought a new bat and a cool batters helmet, and suddenly he thinks he's Big Papi.