Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Insomnia for Beginners

I'd feel an almost imperceptible bit of guilt writing nothing this week, so I'll give you... next to nothing.  Just mailing it in, here.

Somebody told me one time that if you ever can't sleep, get up immediately, grab a pen, and empty every thought in your head onto the paper.  Try it sometime - it works like a charm.  But it would complicate things if you weren't able to navigate pen and ink.

Last night, an infuriated Majesty stamps into our bedroom, where I'm trolling the interwebs on my phone.  I had put Yakubu down over an hour before, and he was still up, yammering along in his usual (ahem, inherited) way.  H.M. had gone up there to lay down the law.  Didn't work.  She finally figured out the dude was ITEE [itchy] and went downstairs for some MEHDITHIN [cortisone cream].  After slathering him with that, he still was The Figiteer.

The ensuing conversation:
H.M.:  Jack, do you need to tell mommy something?
The Figiteer:  YESH.
H.M.: What do you want to tell mommy?
The Figiteer: FAHN.
H.M.:  A fan?  Where's a fan?
H.M.: The fan's in Poppa's house.  Great.  Thanks, Jack.  What else do you need to tell mommy?
The Figiteer: BURDS EAT YURMS.
H.M.:  Birds eat worms?  They do.  Anything else?
The Figiteer:  BEESH EAT BUGS.
H.M.:  Fish eat bugs.  Alright.  Great.
The Figiteer:  IN YATER.  [In the water.]
H.M.: Right.  Will you go to sleep now?
The Figiteer:  YESH.
And he did.  I'd like to think what's buzzing around in my head when I can't sleep is more consequential, and of far more importance, than ceiling fans or bugs or YURMS.

But it's probably not.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Flashing Back to My Flashback of a Flashback
See the sun rise over her skin / Don't change it
See the sun rise over her skin / Dawn changes everything, everything
And the delta sun burns bright and violet
I'm inexplicably tied to music somehow.  I can't sing worth a lick, and don't play an instrument other than air guitar.  But songs stick in my head forever, firmly attached to a time and place.  Remembering the details of personal milestones is difficult for me... unless they're linked to music.  And so when I was walking myself in this morning, antisocially sporting one of Mr. Jobs' iWhatevers, a song flipped past that I listened to darn near every morning during my first internship at a credit card company and subprime lender (Hah!  How evil and corrupt do I sound now?!) in a 1998 version of Las Colinas.
Mississippi and the cotton wool heat / Sixty-six, a highway speaks
Of deserts dry / Of cool green valleys
Gold and silver veins / Of the shining cities
It's Heartland, from U2's 1988 Rattle and Hum.  That album continues U2's fixation on American music begun the previous year with The Joshua Tree.  There's a hopefulness in both albums that perhaps only foreigners would appreciate and quantify.  Anyway, when I hear Heartland, I'm suddenly driving the 82 miles one-way (I counted) to that first office job.  And I feel as green and young as in those days, where the morning wind whipped through my car.  And behind some still very wet ears.

To my surprise, I'm fielding questions lately about how someone might break into my particular industry.  I cringe.  It's completely accurate to say, "I'm doing what I'm doing by the grace and good pleasure of G0D Almighty.  That's it."  But that comes over as hackneyed, trite.  It's less than helpful to the asker.  But how to explain the path that led you here?  It's like the leaf telling precisely how it was carried downstream.

Family, Sass and Developmental Magic
Another thing that continues to stump me is what I expected (expect?) from Jack.  Meaning, what exactly did I expect him to do but grow and change and learn and... backtalk? 

Majesty tells him to do or not do something or other this weekend.  Can't recall what it was.  Both of us then hear clearly:
That's right, sports fans, the sassing is now underway.  Play ball.  I blame that one squarely on H.M. because it's not a phrase I'm likely to use.  Bit too finger snappy for me.  What we should have done at that point is to lay down the law.  What we did do is laugh hysterically.

I didn't expect it.  Logically, of course, I did, eventually.  But the JackBaby becoming someone that pops off sass (and in complete sentences, too) is quite jarring for an amateur parent.  He's been a constant presence in our lives for a while now, but he's not been too vocal about it.  His thoughts becoming words are him becoming a person.  And it is magical to watch.

Oh, Emu's My FAVORITE!
Yeah, so one of my projects this weekend was digging up some (comically brief) video footage and pictures from our Methuselah of a PC hard drive.  Hope you like it.  I had more video, but alas, persnickety Blogger has put the kibosh on that, refusing to upload anything else.

We did our second annual visit to the petting zoo/playground/pumpkin patch with Teams Reynolds and McIntosh.  So when you see various farm creatures, that's what's going down.  Final tally:  1 cow kissed (really), 3 rabbits violently patted, 1 pony rode, 2 sheep chased.

Legal Disclaimer:  No animals were harmed (We think.  Okay, the rabbits might still be traumatized).  Results not typical.  Manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Elementary School Fascism

Reviving Bicycles AND Pre-Columbian Culture
We're fortunate to now live near a park.  And I'm talking about a really good park.  With actual trees.  A park that didn't run out of upkeep money in 1974.  There's a kiddie pool and various sizes and configurations of newfangled play equipment, cool-looking stuff that, in my day, we would have violently pulled down like an endzone goalpost.

Trails run all through the place, headed to a zillion unknown suburban destinations.  There's a no-nonsense soccer field.  Standing on it, surrounded by trees, gives you a real Field of Dreams tinge, as if soccer players will just walk right out of the thicket and play. There are huge mounds of dirt (?) for the kids (ahem, of all ages) to run and play on like crazed little prehistoric Mound Builders.

It's a great park, even though the absence of gangbangers and junkies is painfully conspicuous and sadly, the norm here.  It took us a long time to identify the strange people that did frequent the park.  Upon closer inspection, we found that they were...  yes, normal people.  Didn't even have weapons on them.  I know, I know.  Who comes to a park without packing iron?

Anyhoo, Majesty sends me over there yesterday with Jack to burn an hour or so.  (This park visit brought to you by the world's most munificent and awesome boss, ever.)  We roll over there, and sit on a park bench, eating our too-ripe bananas in the dappled [SHUNNY!] sunlight.  You can't buy 10 minutes like that, people.  We went off to play on the neo-jungle gym.

Near one of the dirt mounds, there's a catastrophically wrecked mountain bike.  This thing looks like it was involved in a nuclear weapons test.    Jack hops on and claims it to be JACK BICEEDLE [bicycle]!  He demands that DADEE HEP [Daddy help].  Help with what, dude?  I explained to little effect that there wasn't much to be done short of reading a burial rite.  He declares the frame of the BICEEDLE is a DEETAUR [guitar] Whatever.

I'll Bet She Had a Square Mustache
We end up over by the soccer fields at one point, because Jack ditched the swings when he heard kids.  Lots of kids.  We wander the field, and he plays in the nets a moment, and then he bolts to the trail.  I run after him, and hear a girl's voice say, "HEY!  IT'S JACK!"

A fence abuts the park, and it happens to be the fence of the local elementary school's playground.  Four little girls are yelling for Jack, by name, to come over to them, which he does.  "We see him almost every day!" one says to me.  "Who's your pediatrician?"  I answer.  "Wow!  Mine, too!"  "I'm in fourth grade, she is too, and she's in second."  "I'm in third!"  "Where do you live?  I live in Fairy Creek Bend Bramble Branch Rock Pines."  "I live in Valley Grove Bayou Hills Heath Meadows."  "Do you know where that is?"  "Who's your dentist?  Oooh, go to Doctor BROWN!"  "How old is Jack?"  "We talk to his mom."  (I talk to his mom, too.)  "Will he give us a high five?  No, Jack ALL of us!  Give ALL of us high fives!  Jack!"  Yakubu begins to wander off, now bored with his girl posse.  They plead:

"Don't leave us, Jack!  We're your FANS!"

Wow.  God sure knew what he was doing when he signed me up for a boy.

In retrospect, I know what Ms. Fascist Elementary School Teacher saw.  The little girls in a row against the fence, and Creepy Dude That Hangs Around Grade Schools (yeppers, yours truly) menacingly looming over them.  Between us, Jack would have been invisible.  About then I hear, and everyone cringes, at:


As they slink away, Second Grader offers, "Yeah, they don't like people being on the campus."  I feebly retorted, "Uh, I'm not, we're not, y'know, on the campus...  actually."  Jack heard the old hag with the voice of Satan teacher, too, and knew the jig was up.

I still hate elementary school.

The Rhyme Bible (a.k.a. The Rhyming Bible in these parts), is 256 pages long, with something like 4-6 lines per page.  I paused on page 184 a few nights back, and Jack recited it.  He does the same with page 218.  And others.  After finishing, he flips on his own to page 92, and recites that, too, just for good measure.  I can pause on any word, any sentence, on any page... in any book and he'll fill it in for me.  Two questions:  
  • Who says parenting isn't fun?
  • Where HAVE my brain cells gotten off to since I was 2?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Groundhog Day and the Sticky Punchline

I Like to Say a Prayer and Drink to World Peace
I flipped on that darn color teevee a few nights back and stumbled onto Groundhog Day.  If you haven't seen that movie, and where have you BEEN?, it's a (hilarious) study of what might be possible if you were to repeat living one day... indefinitely.

With each identical day, the man sees and learns from tiny mistakes.  He soaks up details to use again in varying ways, most of them hysterically funny.

Anyway, Majesty wasn't enthused with my choice.  She declared flatly that she had already seen it, and didn't want to see it over again, because once was plenty.  Which goes down as about the most ironic statement, well, ever.

Getting the skipper to go to sleep is a lot like that movie.  Small mistakes have huge repercussions.  You gather intelligence and use it to your advantage next time.  What you screw up this evening, you fix tomorrow night.

I think routine is kid nirvana.  And as they grow, the routines get more and more elaborate.  They get so involved that eventually you can pass for Patrick Roy before a playoff game.  There's a certain way to do, and to order, just about everything.  From choosing jammies, to brushing teeth, to turning on lamps and shuttering windows, to stories to be read, it all matters.  And if the delicate chain of events is broken or misordered, all is not lost, it's just... different.

And sometimes different doesn't work out.

I Find Adhesives Incredibly Amusing
I was comparing notes with H.M. last night and we got to talking about the books we read to Jack at naptime-slash-bedtime.  She went to the public library in town recently and had come away with just about every book they would lend her.  The large stack was upstairs.  You know the ones, with that smooth, crinkly, sort of worn layer of extra plastic on the dustcovers that only library books have.  I had dipped into most of them with Jack already.  I told her my set list.  She told me hers.  To nobody's surprise, we read them almost precisely in reverse order.

I thought, as I do a lot, that she outranks me by a huge margin on the Knowing-What-I'm-Doing scale.  And so that night, I read the books in her order.  Everything was going beautifully.  The normally nuclear-fueled boy was dead tired, and almost asleep.  The last story, I think it was If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, was up.  And then we hit the scotch tape.

For complex plot reasons unknown to me, "scotch tape" comes up in the book.  And Jack thought my saying "scotch tape" was hilarious.  I mean, really hilarious.  He laughed so hard, I could hear things gurgling and groaning and sloshing in there.  I thought he was going to spew.  And with the belly laughs, came the hiccups.  Monumental hiccups that shook Jack, myself, the tectonic plates under us and the entire chair we sat in.  And when you get the hiccups, you're as far away from sleep as you can be.

The better part of a flawlessly choreographed hour was down the terlit.  And I've filed a $2.7MM class-action lawsuit against 3M.