Thursday, September 30, 2010

I get conned. (1)

I've actually gotten sucked into listening to two different Amway pitches.

The first time, I was 20, broke, working part-time jobs while going to school. A guy started a conversation with me about my car while I was filling it up at the gas station. He used to have one like it he said, and he loved it. Mine was an '85 Caprice Classic with paint peeling off and only one door that opened from the outside and I drove it kind of ironically but OK, it's easy to fall into the predictable rhythms of those "guy" conversations so I talked to him and his bad haircut for two minutes about cars and engines. He drew out of me that I was in college studying English and said something like, "Oh, that's really fortunate for me, because for the business I'm starting I really need a few smart people who can write. There's a real opportunity to make some good money. Are you interested in marketing?"

I'm always looking for extra money and somehow this doughy little fellow in acid wash jeans and a sweater had managed to flatter me into thinking I had something special to offer his business. I met him the next day at a diner and two minutes into the conversation my gullibility wore off abruptly and I stopped him.

"This is about Amway, isn't it."

You could see by his face, he knew he had lost me, so with a Yeah, you got me, hang-dog sort of an air he smiled weakly and paid the check. He didn't have much choice because I had stood up and walked away from the table. I generally try to err on the side of being more polite than less, but I hate having my time wasted. I know me, so I'm sure I at least said "Thanks for the coffee."

That time, that particular pyramid marketer got me into that situation by playing off how broke I was, and also through what would be some surprisingly deft flattery were it not simply an Amway training technique. I wanted to think of myself as being smart and a writer and creative and obviously, they're taught how to draw those things out and then play off of them.

So he conned a complete stranger. But ten years later when it happened again, this time when I was driving a three-year-old car with no scratches and all working doors that I had leased new, and working at the corporate headquarters of a big company, as an actual writer, it was because somebody I knew abused my relationship and my trust...

(There will be a Part 2 if anyone cares to read it when I have time to finish. For now it's back to writing boring shit about toothpaste and toilet paper.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down. Something is lost, and can't be found.

I found the picture below going through my files. It's the place where my Grandmother and I always ate lunch when we went into Manhattan, taking the bus in from her apartment in Riverdale. We'd go to this classic American burger place, the Prime Burger actually, after stopping at St. Pat's Cathedral to light a candle for St. Anthony. The waiters were all daylighting jazz musicians who wore white jackets with their names sewn onto their breast pockets. One of them, a man I remember as being very tall and bald and having a gravelly voice like Scatman Crothers simply had "Broadway" sewn onto his. He flirted with my Grandmother politely and made jokes and had a very warm and disarming way about him, especially notable because I was at an age where adults were usually intimidating. You sat in these one-person booths with a table that folded closed in front of you and they had homemade relish in silver cups with lids and a hole for the handle of a small spoon.

My Grandmother never went out without lipstick and jewelry on and she shopped at Saks and Bloomingdale's. Sometimes we'd stop into Sax briefly where the perfume bottles, in my mind, blend with the red votive candle holders in the hushed corridors of St. Pat's. These were brief stops at church or the department store because she wanted to spend most of the time entertaining me. She must have seen the same Egyptian ruins 70 times at the Met and never hinted at it being anything other than interesting and educational; she always read the little placards next to the exhibits out loud to me as if for the first time. We saw King Tut together. I had Egypt books and Egyptian statues and drew hieroglyphs and pyramids. When I turned 21 I was sober in alcohol recovery and it was such bad luck, having looked forward to 21 throughout my whole short drinking career, that I wanted to do something unconventional, so I got a tattoo. I had no idea what to get so I picked an Ankh. Cliche, but it's the only symbol that meant anything to me at the time. On my night-table right here is a small bronze pyramid from the museum gift shop. On my bookshelf is my Grandmother's Italian phrasebook and her St. Anthony medallion. I think she's still standing there next to the Temple of Dendur at the Met behind that glass window overlooking the Park, watching out for me, a tiny but fierce guardian of the immortal living wonder of my childhood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Into the void.

I've been running with my dog.
past sad apartments next to a mcdonalds
a cricket on the dry ground
past a black woman in a sundress, my eyes trailing for another look at her shoulders
through the smell of grass still scarred from the passing summer
through memories of a thousand septembers
cassie stops to take a dump right next to a building and I don't have a bag so we just run away.
up the rusted steps
through the narrow, caged pedestrian bridge
over the howling six-lane highway
we run as fast
as we fucking

Monday, September 27, 2010

In case you were wondering, based on what I learned from a conversation I had this weekend, your eyes can make you nauseous but they can't make you pee out of your butt.

"A poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember."

Since it was Ambrose's birthday on Saturday I was committed to do what I always want to and never get around to, which is write and post pictures about events like that.

To do this I needed to find some pictures, and that pulled me into a black hole of compulsion searching through, transferring and organizing ten years' worth of photos. That reminded me about my music files which also were out of order and I ended up deleting and redoing my iTunes Music Library, which still confuses me, four times.

I've been slipping into a lot of compulsive states like these the past two weeks, something that happens to me sometimes. When it does I'm forgetting my life is made up of more than disorganized files and stove burners that might have been left on. At these times those things seem very urgent.

When I get a glimpse of what life is really like, moving, a film reel, a spinning dial, deep ocean currents, my mind doesn't know what to do with it and grabs onto anything it can pin down. Files that can be labeled and stored in other files. Coffee machines that have, for sure, not been left plugged in.

In the previous post I tried to describe this feeling as it relates to thinking about my son, a sensation of something jumping in my chest, pulling at me, too fast and too forcefully to be pinned down. It strikes me this quote from American Beauty does it way better:

"My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain."

I don't always get past the balloon part. Sometimes it feels like a hole has been blown open in my chest and and my children's childhoods are getting sucked through it way too fast. I try and grab onto things to stop the current and I can't. Ezra and Ambrose eating olives for breakfast on the camping trip I took them on when my marriage to their mother was breaking up; breathless visions from the Black Hills; kids' birthdays and pictures of Ambrose climbing a climbing wall; these are photographs currently trapped in a broken hard drive from my other house, two years' worth. When I recover these pictures there will be something else I'm desperate to retrieve.

I try to accept the anxiety of every anxious moment. Sometimes I can even accept the stupid things I did and bad states I fell into, the times I felt punished simply for being the way I was made. I accept these things because they are payment for the reward of knowing my children and watching the past go like tears in rain.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ambrose with his long feet and pale legs climbing up to the forbid-
en parts of the swingset.
He looks down.
Those lashes are still as long as when he was a baby, they reach
further down his cheeks than they should for anyone other than an
elf. His face lends itself to smiling as easily as it does the opposite.
Where his brother smolders, he burns. When Ezra smiles it strikes
out at and surprises you where with Ambrose, good nature is a ring
sliding easily along a taut chain.
Something pulls at my chest when I think of you son and I let it for
a moment before stopping and asking myself what I'm really willing
to give up for everything that I get from you. Love keeps curing me
of selfishness. The two go endlessly around, hopefully in smaller
and smaller circles until I don't need to be reminded anymore.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How lucky we are.

On February 14 eight years ago I got a small gift-wrapped box and a card from my boys' mother. We lived in a small apartment, I remember standing in front of the Ikea table in a dining room which was really more of a dining corridor when she handed me the present. My only child Ezra was probably sitting at the table playing quietly with his toys and whispering to himself. It had been a sleepy time that past three years with only three people and one very small dog, who was probably shuffling around looking for crumbs below Ezra's feet, which were a few years from reaching the floor.

The card had a 1950's-style cartoon illustration of a grinning man rolling dice. It said "Happy Valentine's Day..." and on the inside, said, "...Let's get lucky tonight." Under that she had written, "Whoops, looks like we already did."

I sensed that I was missing something. Then I opened the present. It was a pair of booties in a clear plastic box. I looked at the booties. Then I looked at the card. Then I lay down on the floor on my back in the middle of the dining corridor.

She'd been introducing the idea of another kid a lot and I'd resisted. There's no un-cliche way of describing how I felt about Ezra, so I'll just say I adored him. It was a mission of mine to give him everything of myself and at the time I thought that meant all of myself. But I did imagine what it would be like if the happiness that I had were doubled. So I'd been tricking the reluctant side of my head by not making precautions and by responding to the anxious thoughts with a "whatever happens happens" attitude.

Tonight nine months later was the last night of that short, sleepy age, three years of having only one kid. My luck was just about to change.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010 again.

Saw this sign walking the dogs:

"Princess Parking Only
everyone else will be toad."

September 21, 2010.

As of now 10:01 am, this quarter of a latte left in the refrigerator since Sunday afternoon officially becomes mine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I go up and down.

I was 21 when I first got diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I think they were just trying to figure me out, and that made the most sense at the time. But I'm afraid it has continued to make sense as much as I've tried to find a hole in the diagnosis, and stayed up nights looking for another explanation, and now it's just a known thing, I have the disease.

What brought me to the doctor the first time was an attack of depression that lasted a few weeks. Weep weep, can't get out of bed, I suck, etc. It was a feeling of suddenly being heavy, physically, and also so heavy even your thoughts can't climb up to defend you. They tried Paxil there at the county clinic, experimenting for a month or two with different dosages, and it just didn't work. Then one day my psychiatrist, an Indian man with a heavy accent, said: "I think you are manic depressive." I can still hear him say it. I had already swallowed being an alcoholic, a drug addict and a total asshole. This was worse. I was in the same spectrum as the people in the slippers with the corkscrew hair and the TV on all day.

I still analyze the information he had at the time 17 years ago to see if it was really enough to go on.

When I was 13 and my dad was in psychology school, one afternoon he looked up from one of his textbooks and jokingly said, "Kid, I think you're manic!" I do remember making sound effects and doing stupid voices, and I remember there being a kind of excitement and energy behind it. He was joking, but when I try to make myself believe the diagnosis I tell myself that memory was a sign.

The only other thing I can remember is this one summer when I was 18 or 19 and had a job giving lectures at a petting zoo. I used to drink a lot of coffee because it was free and make a lot of sound effects and do stupid voices. I remember a teenage girl who worked there telling me I was cra-zy. She said it smiling, I made her and everybody else laugh, but what I remember was the quality accompanying the smile. I was funny but in a borderline kind of a way. The coffee is interesting. I've always been drawn to stimulants. That first time I went to see a psychiatrist when I was 21 I was maybe nine-months sober, completing the last stage of an outpatient rehab. If I'd even ever been manic at all it did make sense that it was self-induced. Drugs and alcohol made me do things easily described as crazy, a stupid kind of crazy.

Other than those two memories---the comment from my Dad and from some girl---all I remember is the depressive part of manic-depressive. When I think of what that felt like as a kid I picture a lump of buttery dough with sticks for hands. No name to put on it then, I just felt tired, tired at home and invisible at school. I do think that a lot of what went on in school would make anybody depressed however. Later in high school I started drinking and when I did a kind of angry despair would go howling through me. I remember a lot of nights riding my 10-speed as fast as I could or wandering up to the Catholic church on the hill overlooking my street, and in all these memories there was always the same feeling that the sky was not just absent of any kind of God but that he had actually forcibly removed himself from existence just to spite me. The stars winking up there were like the lights that get left on in stores after they have closed.

After I went on medication for bi-polar disorder I couldn't deny it anymore. Every time I would forget to take the medication the same thing would happen. For two days my eyes would dilate and I'd sweat and I'd grind my teeth a lot. I knew something was off because it was the same sweaty dilated feeling I used to get when I used certain unprescribed chemicals but now, it was happening without them. After the two days I'd get depressed. Depression for me veers back and forth between the heaviness and a weepy, empty-world kind of feeling and a very intense, hot irritability. Nothing is right.

I've tried different drugs at doctors' recommendations and the one I'm on now really works. I became a fan of it on Facebook because it is near miraculous in doing what no vitamin supplements, traditional remedies or SSRIs could do.

I'm telescoping a lot, there are many more pieces to this story.

There's how I got to the county clinic with the help of a drug/alcohol counselor from Jamaica and what it was like walking in there, the laminate floors, the battle-scarred office furniture. There's my therapist who recommended what now are some of my favorite movies and in between, recommended actual therapy, mostly it was his kindness that stays with me. There's his glasses and the discrete lines of his facial hair, and later, the mystery of an unnamed indiscretion (after I'd trailed off from seeing him anymore and only stopped in for prescriptions, the receptionist, in her Long Island accent, said she "just couldn't believe the accusations about him"). There are my two successive psychiatrists, the first with his curt but lilting pronouncement of six words that changed a life, his own wispy mustache and mole glasses, and the latter with his bushy red beard and sparkling eyes, a Scottish elf with the magic pen. There's the two-year period I went off my medication and returned to it again gratefully. There's chain smoking and other things we'll just not bother to mention ever, thank you. When I think about all of it it's too overwhelming to try and write down but I tried.

I felt inclined to tell this story now because I had an off weekend. That old feeling has been breezing in and out of my body in waves since around Thursday, the feeling of being temporarily occupied with too much gravity and then bouncing back up again. Having been on the meds for a while I really notice it. I practice meditating a lot. It gives me just enough space between myself and the feeling to realize something is askew. But even with this insight I've still lost sight of that space a few times these past few days. A lot of that has meant snapping at the one person who deserves it least. This particular time the hot stagnated frustrated side of depression has prevailed.

I'm not sure why it happened. I think it's because I haven't slept much this past week. Also, confession, I'm absent-minded. There was one day I forgot to take one pill, but I realized it and took extra the next day. My doctors said I'm allowed do do this. However, a couple hours of forgetting combined with being tired is enough. I picture a piece of fabric in a textile mill running very smoothly through rollers, somebody falls asleep at their post and the machine wrenches, smoking, to a stop. The fabric gets torn.

Even now I can feel it, a sense of heavier air curling around the edges of the space I'm sitting in typing. There's also a "warm vibratey feeling all up through my guttiwuts" as Alex says in A Clockwork Orange. It's the thing that makes you sleep, a defense covering me up with a blanket until it all passes. It will pass. It always does. I fight it hard. I go running, I clean the house, I work, I make myself get up and take a shower and run errands, and on a moment-to-moment basis I watch for the random negative thoughts my brain generates completely out of context so I can smack them down again. Like one of those whack-a-moles. Occasionally one gets by me but it's not so bad.

Nothing is so bad anymore.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 18, 2010.

She is on one couch on one side of the room with her dog, I am on the other couch on the other side of the room with mine.

"We don't have anything together. I mean, you have your dog and your kids and I have my dog and my kids."

"It's true."

"So tomorrow I say we go to Animal Control and we adopt a rescue dog."

"I'm not bringing anything else that poops into this house until something else that poops leaves."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Glencollie Glendog

Dialogue from this morning, albeit one way:

"Put - that dog treat - down. Dog treats are for poopers."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tell me thy company, and I will tell thee what thou art.

“True culture is in the mind, the mind,” he said, and tapped his head, “the mind.” “It’s in the heart,” she said, “and in how you do things, and how you do things is because of who you are.” -Everything that Rises Must Converge, Flannery O'Connor
I guess Grandmother just couldn't completely escape the time and place of her birth. True she spoke four languages, helped the needy and was probably one of the only middle-aged female children of Sicilian immigrants marching against Vietnam. And yet she couldn't escape the tendency to make the generalizations of less tolerant times about people of different ethnicities, religions and lifestyles. In her case very weird generalizations.

First of all, any two people of the same gender who spent any time together in public were homosexuals. One time we were riding a tour bus in London. She leaned in toward me and my dad conspiratorially and said, kind of half-covering her mouth but really not, "Those two gentlemen over there are gay."

"Mother," my dad hissed, with a well-practiced hushing kind of whine. She was always very loud, and his way of talking to her still bore traces of an adolescent complaint from many years of these kinds of interactions. "How can you possibly know that?"

"Well one of them's overweight," she said, "and the other one has bad teeth."

Second, although Grandmother's exceptional cultural openness led her to become an honorary member of the Nichi Bei women's society, and meet with the wives of Japanese diplomats once a month for tea, she still assumed all Asians were Japanese. Out of the same worldliness Grandmother spoke three languages besides English and loved to talk to people in their own tongues. Her Spanish was so good, she got us front row seats at Cats, having impressed the Ticketmaster salesperson with her accent and her familiarity with his native village in Spain.

I learned something about people's basic need to connect with each other studying the way the faces of traveling Italians, Spanish speakers and French people would light up as this American woman stopped to give them directions fluently in their languages. This familiar expression of disarming warmth did not extend to the faces of many Chinese and Koreans she mistakenly greeted with the friendly "Konichiwa!" she had learned from her Japanese friends. Being not only sick of generalizations about Asians but also having been invaded by the Japanese, they would usually give her a very strained but polite smile, and a few openly sneered.

Grandmother flew my dad and then me around the world, taking us many times to France and various parts of Italy. One time we were in Milan drinking coffee at an outdoor cafe. A very large group of Asian men wearing suits started to gather a few tables over. By their body language and their dress and their briefcases it was pretty clear they were in town for some kind of business convention. Perhaps you see this coming. Grandmother nodded her head in their direction. "Japanese gays," she said, matter-of-factly, before taking another sip of her espresso.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yogi's choice.

"So breathing in, stretch your arms out, way out, feel the tendon fibers stretching... and... snapping. Good. Good. Now, spin your hips so your loose, dislocated arm swings round and smacks you in the face. Great. Really let it fly, keeping your shoulder tucked, inhaling through the navel and exhaling...that's it, now drop into prananda sana and hold in widow's pose opening, keeping your heart open, and offering. Now dive down to the floor and flex your buttocks. That's it... Really push... [braaap] That's OK; the prana will come out where it will. Now. Relaxing your arms, tuck your elbow up, up, up into your left nostril and blow, letting all the energy out. Put your knee up behind your head and inhaling, exhaling push your liver out... through your asshole. Great. Ok now bananadana fo fanna, collapse into child's pose, and cry like a fucking baby.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10 things.

Ten things I've learned from my lady.

1. In more situations than I would have thought, it is practical to say
"Fuck it" or some version of that, with good results
2. Likewise with holding grudges
3. Bread lasts a lot longer in the fridge than a breadbox, with no loss of integrity
4. There are more combinations of colors than I would have imagined
5. Yard work can be very satisfying
6. Painting walls can be very satisfying
7. Generally, things go better with salt
8. A peanut butter cup tastes good on a salt bagel with cream cheese
9. Firefly is the best television show ever created
10. Lovin rules.

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 11, 2010.

Ambrose and Lucas have been begging me to let them put a banana peel on their heads. I didn't mind but every time they asked, at that moment there wasn't occasion to peel open and waste a perfectly good banana. I also never asked why. This weekend someone had banana in their cereal so I found out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The ratio.

It is not mathematically possible for two sibling children to behave well at the same time. Tonight my nine-year-old son threw himself writhing onto the bed, weeping until he fake-choked, because I said we wouldn't order pizza and would be having mashed potatoes and Ikea meatballs instead. His brother, usually the one to throw fits, pumped his fist excitedly "I love Ikea meatballs! They taste great with gravy!" He checked on his brother who was banished to his room to see if he was feeling better. He chattered away talking and asking questions. The good behavior of one child is proportional to the bad behavior of the other.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The date up there is a lie.

I should have wrote this tomorrow.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Typo of the day (2).

From Beth: "junglasses."

Glasses that let you see archetypes. Or for looking at tigers.

Misheard of the day.

I use the Heart Hospital pharmacy for convenience but I always forget the number. I have a Google Apps thing on my phone that you can speak into and it will search for what you said.

I got "Shark hospital pharmacy."

Sounds like this week's indy band.

Typo of the day.

"Has browns:" Hash browns that have passed their peak.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Downward fucking dog.

Beth and I did a .5-hour Yoga for Weight Loss routine tonight. I sweated so much I slipped on the laminate floor and during one of the poses my lower back suctioned to it. I remember a lot of shallow panting because my gut felt especially burdensome all wedged up in my lungs and the woman in the video just kept softly narrating, talking about my "heart" and "opening" and "offering."

I was already sore --- I had my first official patients this afternoon as a student intern in Tuina which meant around two hours of pushing and grasping and chopping and digging my elbows into people's stubborn muscles in a very small very hot treatment room.

I want to say something funny or tie this up cutely but I can't really lift my arms so good night.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

September 8, 2010. A few minutes later.

What's the expiration on that I-shouldn't-have-said-that feeling? In the moment it feels like you'll be an idiot forever.
However today I'm reciting this thing to myself.
Don't hold a grudge.
I forgive people a lot in the end, even, like, the asshole who once stole my car.
But not myself.
So shut up.

September 8, 2010. Afternoon.

I am awake and yet my heart is not hurling itself against my sternum as if it were trying to break through. Green tea has its merits.

September 8, 2010.

The sun's out but it's cool and there's a breeze and the kids are occupied. September has its merits.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I remember upstate in Fall.

Until two years ago one of the happiest times in my life was the two years I went to college in Geneseo, NY. Every September started with a wide-open reaching anticipatory feeling, me going out as the wind and cooler weather rolled in. There are fields and leaves and old houses and a valley there. Those two Septembers marked me forever thinking this is what September should be.

Monday, September 06, 2010

I pass the Test of Manhood.

There was a friend of mine who I remember first meeting in Kindergarten. He was one of those accomplished natural climbers, like my younger son is today. He was always at the top of the jungle gym and I was always at the bottom.

Later in high school one night a group of us drove to a baseball park which after the games were over and the little kids and their parents were gone became a place to drink beers. This friend was with us and we stood around a 12-pack perched on the end of the open tailgate of another friend's truck. Pot burned brightly in a pipe bowl crackling in the dark before becoming consumed again by ashes. The quality of night made everything look pixelated.

"Want to try the Test of Manhood?" this friend asked. I felt swimming static in the lowest part of my gut. I only like feats of courage that I choose for myself and past "tests" of this kind had involved heights or had otherwise not turned out well. Heights affect me with a very primitive fear. Even if my mind is OK with it the rest of me starts shaking involuntarily. But if I'm challenged to do something I have to say Yes because I've never given up on feeling I have to make up for something, the unabashed cowardice of my childhood.

Next to this park was a playground and in that playground was a set of monkey bars, not the kind that go straight across suspended between four posts, but bow-shaped, starting at the ground and rising to about six or seven feet before going down again. I'm ashamed to say six feet seems really high to my reptile brain. As he explained, you have to walk from the bottom to the top without using your hands.

"When you get to the top you have to stand up as straight as you can. Visualize in your mind slipping and falling, your legs going through the spaces between the bars so one of them goes directly into your balls. Imagine the agony, the way that kind of pain goes all the way up inside of you. Then walk the rest of the way down."

The bars were gritty with wet sand as I stepped from one to the next and then the feeling of the sloping metal pressing into my feet and the sense of the strength of my own legs pushing transformed the fear and standing at the top confidence rushed into my lungs and my chest and I for that second stood very tall.

I buy my first Mac and narrowly escape a fumbled attack by born-again Christian terrorists.

I've been researching used Macs on Craigslist for a month now and I finally got one on Saturday. I exchanged texts with the owner throughout the day to plan and get directions and when we finally met he was a very nice, slightly nervous, newly-graduated-from-high-school teenager. He was tall and had a fastidiously shaved head, discrete sparkly earrings, a silver chain of some kind and very white teeth. Maybe an Addidas zipup jacket, don't remember. His friend had one of those baseball hats with a stiff, straight brim which he wore slightly to the side. Both of them stood and smiled and shook my hand when I introduced myself. The owner explained that he'd be starting at one of the local community colleges. He was selling this MacBook because he wanted to upgrade, partly for school and partly for gaming. He'll be getting a Pro which has a faster processor. Both of them gave off a very harmless vibe that wouldn't allow me to even think of hard-negotiating them which I sensed I could've done.

Beth came with me and after I exchanged money and computer she and I walked out to the car. Written in some kind of grease paint on the window of the black car parked next to mine it said, "Too bad you don't know where I live you dumb fuck." I puzzled over it and moved on, but Beth suggested maybe the kid had written it thinking it was my car, which is also black, albeit a way different make and model. This got me started with the paranoia. Was the MacBook broken? I'd sat there with him in the coffee shop where we met while he booted it up, deleted some of the files he wouldn't be needing, got rid of his profile and set me up with one. I tried out an audio and data CD successfully. It didn't seem possible he'd have the skill to rig up some kind of delay so it would break on me after I got it home; it took Microsoft decades to perfect that. I had made a joke when he was deleting his files, asking him if they were stolen CIA files and would people in black SUVs start coming after me once he left the MacBook in my hands.

When we got home Beth told me she had blogged so I decided to read it on my new MacBook, not even bothering to hide my excitement (several times on the ride home and later I said "I have a new computer!"), at last having a laptop that would boot up right away and even after you've closed the lid snap out of hibernation and take you wherever you need to go. She was sitting next to me on the couch. I typed "" and the browser opened on a painting of Babylon or something, people in robes pulling around donkeys huddled under the threat of locusts, the title of the page reading "Mega site of Bible studies and information."

I laughed and typed the address again. Same thing. And again. Puzzled and a little anxious I turned to Beth. "Let me see," she said and I handed her the laptop (it's so light). Usually when she says that whatever it is I can't do ends up being right when she does. But not this time. She did it one more time and it worked. She pointed out we'd been reversing two of the letters without realizing it.

I've gone back into the history and seen I actually mistyped the address to Beth's blog three different ways, and each one took us to the Mega site of Bible studies and information. I guess the former owner installed some kind of a Christian hijacking virus but, since he hasn't gone to college yet, it's kind of an amateurish one. Or maybe the people at Mega site for Bible studies and information are smart, manipulative internet marketers who bought three different misspelled domains like those guys who register "" If so it is very odd they'd choose a URL so similar to Beth's, and using Blogger. I still don't have any theories about who the dumb fuck was. That was just weird.

I'm writing this on the Mac now. The keys make that soft comforting clicking sound exactly like Beth's, because it's the same model, I'd sought it out specifically. It does start up right away unlike my HP laptop and is totally white making it about as un-PC-looking as you can get, with its softly glowing backlit apple icon, looking more like a computer terminal in one of the ships from 2001. So far all the web sites I've gone to have been the ones I intended to go to. The hijacking and potentially even the dumb fuck thing were all part of a benign plot to jolt me out of my misperceptions about Christian terrorists, who really are very nice guys.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I should've written this yesterday.

Not even a full week into the... well it wasn't supposed to be a competition but OK, "competition" that I suggested, I forgot to blog. So you win the blog throwdown for now, Beth. I didn't entirely forget, I was composing a post in my head yesterday intending to write it down but fell asleep unexpectedly. And I'm going to write two for today to make up for it. By the way I went back and reread the terms of our arrangement to see if there was a loophole, because I did write in one of my work blogs yesterday. I wrote in it. I didn't hit "publish" yet. So I'm doubly sucking. However, I'm biding my time because sometime in the next few weeks she's going to forget...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Starting Tuesday,

As of September 1 Beth and I committed to write something in our blogs every day for one year. Hers is: The only conditions are it be every day and at least one-word long. More than one post a day is acceptible if not desirable---I expect this opportunity to post more will encourage the competitive spirit that's already wound its way into the agreement. Yesterday after posting this she sent me a chat reading "you're it." I had my own reasons for suggesting this challenge and she had her own reasons for going along with it. If you are one of my own three to five readers I hope somewhere in here will be something you'll enjoy. If not I appreciate your sacrifice because it will help me form a writing habit. Also it might help me not talk so god-damn much. Until tomorrow, or later, Eric.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

September 2, 2010

Since I was little, by virtue of my parentage I've been able to play any song by ear on the piano --- but only with one hand and one finger at a time. There was a Yamaha baby grand in the downstairs of the house I lived in for 18 years growing up and yet only tonight, at 38 years' old, have I ever played any piece with two hands. Ezra taught me the left-hand part of the Ode to Joy.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September 1, 2010

I bought Ambrose a copy of Lassie Come Home to practice his reading. It's really very nice, literary in an English countryside sort of way. Tonight we were reading how Joe's dad used to lovingly brush Lassie's hair for an hour in front of the fire. Cassie was sprawled out in front of us, drooling, random tufts of matted hair poking out. She's shedding now, and little swirling tornados of hair bump along the floor or turn lazily in the corners of every room in the house if you move, breathe, or even think of moving. I went and got the brush and we all sat around her and she sighed gutterally with the attention of the brush. In minutes there was a loose clump of hair the size of a football at least. Ezra got an empty Gap bag and started putting the hair in it.

I'm going to keep this after she dies, he said.
That hair smells like she already died, I said, throw it out.
No he said.
Give me that bag. That hair is foul.

I did snip a little piece of hair from both of my beloved dogs before they were buried and cremated respectively. One was a tiny Yorkie and the other Cassie's sister, Mazy. The locks of hair from both dogs are caramel with streaks of wiry sable. I have samples of Ezra and Ambrose's first haircuts in an envelope. I don't know why Ezra is thinking about Cassie dying. She's dumb as hell --- even her hair is dumb; she kept her undercoat through the whole hot summer and is only shedding now in September, when she'll actually start to need it --- but she's definitely alive.


This was the quote that gave me the idea for the name of this blog.

"In other words I am three. One man stands forever in the middle, unconcerned, unmoved, watching, waiting to be allowed to express what he sees to the other two.
The second man is like a frightened animal that attacks for fear of being attacked.
Then there's an over-loving gentle person who lets people into the uttermost sacred temple of his being and he'll take insults and be trusting and sign contracts without reading them and get talked down to working cheap or for nothing, and when he realizes what's been done to him he feels like killing and destroying everything around him including himself for being so stupid. But he can't - he goes back inside himself.
Which one is real?
They're all real."

-Charles Mingus, Beneath the Underdog