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Amanda has gone to pick out backgrounds for her senior pictures. This, I gather, is a big deal, to be treated with respect and dignity. "Choose wisely." The craggy crusader cautions. First they get their proofs which are shown to all friends, all relatives, even strangers on the street. They seek advice from everyone. Then there is the choosing of the backgrounds. And they never go into this decision alone either. I think they put more thought into choosing their pictures than they do in choosing their spouses. Maybe that is why there are so many good looking newly weds.
I have been working on the hole my son put in the wall while I was in the hospital. His story is that he tripped over the dog and his head went through. I've heard another version that sounds truer. I've put five layers down, but nicked the last layer with the sander and have to fix another dent now. It is a particularly hard one to get around since it is right over a switch plate. An inch lower and I could cover it with the plate. Of course an inch lower, and it wouldn't have caved in there.
When I work on my Laptop, I have cables everywhere. I am usually downstairs in my chair when I use it and, I am too far from the wireless router. To solve that I switch to a USB port with two antennae. I add two USB extensions to the cord so I can get it almost into the next room. Then there is a power cord slipping behind me. The CD drive is an external device, so I need another cord. Finally I have a port replicator which gives me an extra USB slot for my mouse, yet another cord.
It is Monday evening and my wife left for St. Louis this afternoon. The children are all gone and I've just grilled myself a steak for dinner. I got five hundred words down this morning for Ashes, but have a few things left to do. It's warm today. We have the air off and I can feel sweat trickling down my forehead. It is not a bad heat though. It is a good healing heat. It makes the world a sweat lodge. It feels better than air conditioning, and the occasional breeze is like manicured nails on an itchy back.
I had a crisis today. My son's girlfriend of 7 months kissed another boy, and then she told my son. My son and the girl are 15, and while I have experiences that make this one seem small, it is not small for him. It is what he knows and what he feels. His pain is a valid as anything I have ever faced in 55 years of living. Because in the limited reference of a 15-year-old, this is significant, and I am happy that his combined life reference still considers this the worst emotional betrayal he has ever experienced.
I forgot my son's dental appointment again. This is the second time in a row. The first time I was writing and got lost in time. I woke up ten minutes after the appointment was to have taken place. Calling the dentist, I was told by the receptionist that it would be impossible to "fit him in" at that point. The visual caught my attention and I missed what she said next. I asked her to repeat it and she said, "There may be a missed appointment charge." Now I felt cheap, dirty, immoral. I was going to be fined.
I nailed the keyboard this morning before I even got comfortable in my chair. I did the pre-writing dance, like the dog circling three times before, well you know. But when I hit the chair, I didn't even get my legs under the desk before I was typing, if not writing. I hadn't written at all yesterday, which is odd for me. The day was terrible of course, and I am not sure whether the day was terrible because I didn't write or whether I didn't write because the day was terrible. It doesn't matter now, because today is beautiful.
Every day it seems I get a farther behind. I am quite sure it has something to do with the writing. I try to write three hours every day. The writing time is sacrosanct, and can easily take me to noon because I start the day taking Michael Jr. and His friend to school, showering, and stuffing the washer with a load of laundry. However, as my wife has warned me, I need to have everything I want to do by the time the kids get home at 3:00. It only takes one doctor appointment to blow the whole schedule.
I think I am going to have to start mowing my own grass pretty soon. Michael Jr. used to do it, but he is in school now and doesn't have the time he did. With him in school, I actually have more time. At least that's the theory. This means I am going to have to find the mower, and determine whether it is actually in working condition. But it will also give me the opportunity to re-discover my yard, to understand its boundaries, to sculpt it, to find all the trash Michael has left in it during the summer.
My agent keeps telling me that while I write as well as any of the crazies out there, I am not yet as good as the Great Russian authors. I am unsure what she can be thinking when she says this. How could I not be as good as her Great Russian authors? She is obviously prejudiced because she herself is Russian. It is difficult, even for a great writer like me to overcome these ethnocentric views. If this is true, I'm not sure why I would be writing. Therefore it cannot be true. I write; therefore I am great.
Amanda was hungry last night. "Daddy, I'm hungry," She complained. This was going to be no problem I was prepared for it. I asked her if she wanted curly noodles with spaghetti sauce. "Yes," she replied. She actually smiled. I was going to fix something one of my kids actually wanted. This was great. I got out a large pan and filled it with hot water to cook the noodles. Simultaneously I grabbed a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce and began heating it. 10 minutes later I was calling her and her boyfriend to the table I was Super Dad!
My AT&T bill is odd. What is odd is that is usually $1.25. So last month I didn't even pay it. This month it came in at $2.50. Now I have no idea what AT&T is charging me for or what will happen if I don't pay it. I finally asked my wife Terry who used to do the bill things what it is about. "It's our long distance bill," She explained. "Ever since we got cell phones we don't use the landline for long distance. You have to pay it though, or they'll hit you with a $30 penalty."
It is difficult to not write about the dog, to not write about cleaning the kitchen or about what the teens and their friends are doing. That's what I do. I'm a stay-at-home father, and a full-time writer, an oxymoron, I know. While other writers have gone to war for great experiences to write about, I have chosen the wildest battle, the bloodiest field, the greatest catastrophe: marriage, fatherhood, the works. It is the most dangerous kind of war for a writer. It is the one that saps his energy, his time, and his belief that writing is even important.
I found a beautiful car for sale, a mint 1989 Cabriolet for $4800 or best offer. The owner, a woman who was moving west, couldn't take the car. I needed a car for my son who was turning 16 this December, and I loved this car with her. But there was a problem. This car was too nice. It would be trashed within the first three weeks. My daughter said it was a chick car. I took that to mean it was unsuitable for Michael in some other way, and frankly I was not financially ready to buy Michael's car.
In the end the fireworks cost me $140. When Michael Jr. first convinced me buy them, I spent $40. He got a great deal because the lady at the counter gave him two boxes for the price of one. At home, I heard nothing but Bang! And Bang! Bang! Ba-Bang Bang! for days. Then I had an opportunity. He wanted to take his girlfriend out to celebrate their 7-month anniversary, and needed money. I offered to fund the occasion in return for his inventory of fireworks. What I didn't know was that it was going to cost me another $100.
I have two cordless phones that don't work because they need batteries. The problem with cordless phones is that you can never find them. The phone rings, but there is no handset. The teens like to take them to their rooms and lose them in that…that…all that stuff they have in there. I keep threatening to tie them all down with three-foot cords, but no one takes me seriously. Going to Radio Shack I found, as my wife had suggested, that the batteries cost more than a new, albeit cheap phone, one with a three-foot cord to tie it down.
Although their appearance may be initially terrifying, Moties are quite gentle, and when properly domesticated, make useful pets. They are big, ugly and have very long fangs. They are also capable of emitting the most awful smell when frightened. However, they are quite affectionate and purr like a cat when you pet them. Their proper domestication requires the owner to send them off to an expensive boarding school in New England for several years. After that, they make a very approachable valet, beautician, and watchdog. They can clean your house, tend the garden, and will not scare off the paperboy.
I have too many staplers and no screwdrivers. It's my teens. They "borrow" things a lot, like many teens, like I did myself when I was their age. At the time, I couldn't understand why it upset my father so much to find his tools lying in the yard rusting. That explains the current no-screwdriver problem, but how did I end up with too many staplers? That is easy. My stapler disappeared. I bought another one. That one vanished, and I bought yet another. Then I found them buried in general scree in my teens' rooms. I now have three.
I got an email from Bob today. It was a joke. The last mail I got from Bob was an invitation for lunch. Perhaps Bob is trying to maintain a friendship, or maybe he wants to network. He doesn't know who I am anymore though. He knew who I was at one time, and he may recognize that person taken to the extremes I have been taken to, stretched into the shapes I have been, who has lived this. But I am no longer someone he can network with. We could still be friends though. Maybe I will answer Bob.
Terry, my wife, says our children are very lucky. She says this is so because I write about our lives, about their lives. And that I do it in such a way that is like a photograph touched up only slightly here and there. When they get older, they will be able to look back and remember these pieces of their lives. I also tell them to take lots of pictures of themselves. I tell them to take naked pictures of themselves. You may think you're ugly today, but forty years from now, you will be proud of those pictures
I bought the most beautiful rug. I was garage sailing with my son and it was laid across the hood of a pick-up truck. It was hockey crowd red, with a beautiful border. On the back a tag that proclaimed 100% New Zealand wool with jute backing. "Sometime, I should pick something up like this and let Terry come home and find it," I suggested. Junior agreed with a grin. So I took Terry back to the sale to see the rug. She loved it. We brought it home and it is gorgeous in the atrium. What the heck?
My study was neat, but others just saw it as a place to spread their anarchy. I like bare spaces and open floors. My wife gets nervous over a blank wall. My son spreads like ooze to every open space. My daughter usually keeps her disorder in her own room, just stacking it until she can't make it to the door. So it moves to the study. It arrives by the armful and is stacked on file cabinets, crammed on the shelves, and stacked on the desk so high that I can't write until I dig out the computer.
1. We lost a hamster four days ago. The first night my daughter Amanda was panicked. Anyone who would not help find the hamster was a jerk. The second day, she built traps around the house. The general design was a box with a ramp on the outside. She baited it with cheese. The hamster was supposed to climb up, fall into and box and be captured. It didn't work. On the third day, I thought he must be dead. Then on the fourth day, Amanda found him running across the bathroom floor. We still have the traps up though.
1. The cold is slowing me down today. It may be the slim sheet of ice creeping down the inside of the painted block walls where moisture condenses and freezes there. I can pick at it with my fingernail, and it will come off. Sometimes I just try to see how large a sheet I can get off at once. It's not like trying to pick the ice off the windows. There the ice there is too thick and cannot be picked off unless it is a warm sunny day. We haven't had any warm sunny days for a while.
She lopes easily along the riverbank, dodging the dense dark-barked trees. Her feet striking the moss-covered ground softly, she feels the morning fog rushing damp and cool past her face. Drinking the air rushing into her lungs and breathing on the effortless power of her legs, she moves forward like a Lebanese love ballad. With each stride, her nose lowers toward the moss, following the scent. She can smell the deer moving ahead. She can already feel its neck muscle rolling alive beneath her weight, the weight of its body beginning to fall, its warm blood gushing across her jaw.
Today is a day like any other, unlike any other, where some blinds are closed, and some are open, where some voices are drifting in through my door, and others are floating countless where I cannot hear. Today is a day like any other with the clatter of countless lives combining. Some are blinded. Some are open. Some lift voices that drift through cathedral doors countless where I cannot hear. Today is a day unlike any other, where souls are opening, stricken with light, and life is seeping hungry from every suit and rag, from the toes of our shoes
Why can't I write raucous dog pack running free obscure poems any more? Why can't I write stuff that makes no sense to anyone but the drunks at the poetry slam, stuff that even I don't read? What has gotten to me to insist on this truth and raw life thing? The truth is that life is raw beneath the veneer. It is very raw. Beneath the skin and cosmetics lies fat, red meat, white lymph, blood, and disjointed matter all working together to produce the illusion that a person exists with a single identity, like a perfect goose egg.
I'm looking at the CNN news. "Beheaded body found in Iraq" is one headline, with full video." I decide to skip that one and go for the "12-foot gator bites off Florida Woman's Arm." They shot the gator. Can you believe it? More unbelievable are some of the quotes in this story.
"It was kind of a tug-of-war," said the neighbor, Jim Anholt.
I assume the alligator lost since he only got an arm. They did mention that he also bit the victim in the buttocks. I believe that's why he was shot. That's sexual assault anywhere in the country.
Whitecaps were on the lake this morning. In the green and blue, In the dark muddy storm water where foam spits and the troughs sway. Where the storm last night carried in new trees and pieces of rope and washed away any memory of what the beach looked like before. Some years in the spring we can see the apartment-building sized rocks just off the sand bar. Some years they are gone. I have heard stories of them creeping so close to shore that people would climb down to sun on them. And the next summer they were gone again.
I stood with Mark at the rail looking down on the party below. He was wearing his white linen suite. We were both drinking vodka and tonics. "The red dress he said." Yes, I agreed, the fuck-me red dress. It was later that I learned that Mark was fucking Jean, or that Jean was fucking Mark. It would be hard to tell with those two. It seems that everybody is fucking somebody. I used to be as much a fucker and fuckee as everybody else, but lately other things seem more important? What could possibly be more important than fucking?
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