Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring break, broke, broker, brokest

I start a new job Friday. Told the old job I had places to go but they couldn't follow me there. Then I told them where they could go.

Having achieved A and giving a big finger to B, I've had a week to give to the kids which was serendipitously, their Spring Break. Odd what the universe will do when you're not killing people or stealing gas.

Mostly, I've spent time working on my parent's yard (having no real yard of my own) while the Midget Mafia runs rough-shod on my psyche. Really, I need one of those guns the guy had on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. A little ka-chunk and a needle in the ass, then wrap them in a blanket and put them away while smiling at the camera.

Marni said I needed to stay away from the worms she pulled out of the garden and that indeed, I needed to "pre-tect them against thunder and lightning". That and not use them for fishing.

That I fish merely to read and smoke a good cigar is of little consequence: I must pre-tect the worms.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A small glimmer to light up a life

I arrived on time.

I'd been told the program would start at 5:30 and I managed to slide in on the money. Had there not been a stalled semi on the interstate, I may have been there five minutes earlier but it didn't matter as the lights didn't dim until ten-to-six.

The gymnasium was full by the time I got there and I just managed to find a seat in the fifth row. In that crowd, I was worried that Lilly wouldn't be able to see me. After all, I wasn't there so much to see the program as I was to see her. It was her first real "school program" and really, her seeing me out in the audience was all that really mattered.

The students filed in and took their places on the risers. Lilly appeared diffident, out of place and it made me wonder if she really wanted to be there, singing and going through the motions. As far back as I was, I had to try - I waved.

It was if she had daddy radar, she recognized me immediately, aglow, lighting up the room with her smile. She waved back and shifted her mood, confident and happy to be there. During the program, she kept looking my way to see she had my undivided attention.

When it was over, I picked her up and carried her outside. She's four feet tall and almost 50 pounds but I could have sworn she was just a baby. My days of carrying her are numbered but she will always have my undivided attention.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Move along, please, there's nothing to see here

We had a little gathering for Marni, Saturday; Blues Clues cake, napkins, cups and cards, kids who cared nothing for Blue's Clues but punted to a minor celebration and handed presents, and there'd be cake and ice cream and something else to do other than sit in front of the television all day or kick around a ball in the back yard. And so it went well despite children injected with massive amounts of sugar. It was a beautiful day.

Guess I didn't expect May weather in March either. Buds on lilacs already, people parking in front of my car, me setting fires on my deck and setting off firecrackers.

Marni’s birthday but this is the spring when Lilly gets to explore, she gets her wings, she gets to go where she wants. Thank God for cell phones and GPS.

Yes, thank God. The world’s not getting warmer, dinosaurs rode on the ark and thank God for cell phones and GPS. A cell phone or a GPS unit is much less complex than a rhinoceros or even a rhinovirus, after all, a mere flick of the wrist in God terms.

God’s just been biding his time, I guess.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Time is time is time is time is... time for another mixmania!

We're still dealing with dark too early, light too late; I think I have all my clocks re-set but I'm probably wrong.

Time. What does it matter? Did Sunday jam you up? Want to bitch about it?

This mixmania! is from the fab-ooh Sarah and the theme is TIME - tick tick tick and like that.

You have until April Fool's day; until Tax Day to get it mixed; May Day is when we'll put it all out there. Until then, if you have questions, you can email me or search around and figure it out.

And until then, have fun.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It was two years ago today...

I'm a bad dad, no time nor inclination here on my middle one's birthday - so you'll get to read what I've already written:

It was an April day yesterday, a February day today and that's how March is. Something one day and then something else the next, seeming never quite itself and yet, something more. A month of paradox and complexity, the hint of potential hidden beneath an inch of snow, the silent struggle for survival within a dying season's slipping grasp on a present that's snatched away by the inevitability of another beginning.

I kissed her cheek and told her. "Happy Birthday, Pixie! You're four-years old today!"

"I'm Four, today," she replied, brightly, taking a moment from the cereal bowl in front of her, happy more for the kiss than for the news.

Marni went back to her breakfast, distracted, as if conjuring some distant memory, what it was like being two, what it was like being born, what it was like being four the time before. Half-happy, knowing, bittersweet greeting to another baby step towards the world of us, we, fretters, toilers - the serious. An old soul, she realizes her days of fantasy and imaginary friends are numbered, like a March snowflake, wet and falling fast with its own weight, a tiny light crystalized to be carried on the wind and then, silently disappear. Too soon checking sums on hours worked and what’s left over after the bills are paid but there’s now, she knows, four no longer three and a thousand other things to see today, a thousand things to be.

She stirred her Honey Nut Cheerios humming softly, sometimes sticking the hooves of a toy Pegasus into the Oh's, oblivious to the snow outside and her daddy watching her. Both lost in our focus, our commitment to that instant, that then, that there; all of those and nothing else. She’s thinking of being in the milk, beneath the floating Oh’s, Piscean, swimming in her Marni perfection, dark blue and briny deep, inscrutable, silent, beyond Gollum’s grasping fingers and singing the almost imperceptible tune hummed while her spoon swirls around her bowl.

Across from her, Zeke’s head is down; he’s scooping heaping spoonfuls of cereal into his mouth, trying to ignore that it’s his sister’s birthday. He wants it to be his birthday but if he asked and had something decent to trade, she’d give up her day, she’s just not too concerned about the whole thing. Presents, sure, cool, give me those and let me have your stuffed alligator and the rest of it is yours. Let me swim in my milk, let me see with new eyes somewhere where I have not been, show me something new or let me stir this spoon through my universe.

Breakfast ends and I clear the table, rinse bowls and spoons, put them in the dishpan. Marni and Zeke go into the living room to watch “Blue’s Clues” and this day, the first day of Marni’s fourth year, unfolds like almost every day before it, unremarkable, hackneyed even, kids in front of the TV, dad at the sink doing dishes, the kiss and remark about turning four already a dim memory. Four years ago, this day was monumental, my life changing with another life beginning and every moment of that day is chiseled into my mind like the carefully hewn hieroglyphs on the walls of an ancient tomb. That day I looked out the window from my wife’s room into an unremarkable early March sky, thinking how I would remember that day forever, promising that I would not take that moment for granted.

Lifting my gaze from the suds in the dishpan, I looked out the window to see that it stopped snowing, the sun struggling through the cloud cover to cast light on the thin coating of snow covering the lawn. Time for change, the caprice of March, renewal lunges onward as winter slips once again into the past. Time for a new promise, to not take another moment for granted, not just marking new growth up on the wall but scrawling it indelibly in my mind, Marni is four and it will not pass unnoticed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My mix posted - at last

Not posting gladly, I tell ya' but it has to be done, I suppose. Actually, it should have done four days ago but sometimes a fuller life pulls me away from this.

So I'm waiting here, carless, wondering when the shop where my ride resides will call and deliver the final damage (financially). When I left yesterday (in the passenger seat of fellow Manitoid's good graces), the tab had come somewhere around the neighborhood of $900 for a cracked fluid reservoir and bad brake lines. A Monday evening steaming in rush hour traffic had led me there and I'm leaving much, much poorer. However, at least I can drive the damn thing around to look for a better job than the bullshit job-between-jobs I'm working now.

I spent seven hours hanging out at that shop, yesterday. Staring at the building next door, a kidney dialysis center, something to cause me to pause and think, "Yes, things could be worse."

In the midst of that, X called to inform me she had just come from the allergist and the prognosis for Zeke is that he probably has asthma. The doc is putting him on children’s singulaire to see if his sniffles and cough clears up after a month or so, just in case.

So if you think your issue of not getting my bullshit little list is a big damn deal, be glad your day didn't go like my yesterday.

Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Overture)
Master Musicians of Jajoukacians - Searching for Passion
Liz Phair - Flower
Yo La Tengo - Center of Gravity
The Replacements - I Will Dare
Oasis - Let There Be Love
T. Rex - Ballrooms of Mars
The Cars - Let the Good Times Roll
Badly Drawn Boy - One Plus One
Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
Doves - Sea Song
Primal Scream - Movin' on Up
Rod Stewart & Faces - Every Picture Tells a Story
Solomon Burke - Home in Your Heart
The Moonie Suzuki - Singin' a Song About Today
The Dirtbombs - Chains of Love
Thee Headcoatees - Billy B. Childish
Beck - Where It's At

Yes, I half-assed that. It's a mystery anyone enjoyed it.

Another mixmania! to be announced when I'm in a much better mood.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Three little birds

Cover letters, resumes, kneeling and scraping, kissing a big brown star, trying to find something better for my family and me; my day off was spent pleading for a better wage and benefits.

Dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.

My oldest brought me a note, long after she was supposed to be in bed: "I love my dady he's sweet, kind, 100% most want dad, and my favorite dady."

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,

My youngest will be up far too early, asking for cereal and "Thomas", bugging his sisters and smiling, embracing the new day with an energy far beyond what his little body is capable of creating. He needs to be the focus of some physical and physiological study.

Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep

My middle one turns six in a week or so; she has been coming to terms with her own special place in our family and is learning to bask in that light. She is my diva, spinning around madly to Mozart in a tutu, leaping into the air to grasp the leg of a star and tie it down, make it hers, ride it to it's zenith.

Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, (this is my message to you-ou-ou :-)

A different kind of arithmetic

Okay, I've got nothing, so I'm going to quote some more Sam Levinson. I'm telling you all, or "y'all," depending on how tired I am: This man's books are wonderful. He was a genuine teacher, in the best sense of the word. He was truly a wise man. Was? Is. He might be gone now, but his essence lingers. I learn something every time I re-read his loverly books.

This piece is from "In One Era and Out the Other."

In school we learned one kind of arithmetic; at home another. 1 + 1 = 2 was fine with our teacher, but not good enough for Mama. She demanded to know 1 + 1 = 2 what? Mama's was a method of remedial arithmetic aimed at remedying our poverty by judicious spending. It worked something like this:

1 pair of skates = 12 violin lessons. Cancel out the skates and carry over the lessons. She balanced the equations on her scale of priorities and made sure the needle pointed to our future.

1 phone call = 1 carfare to a museum
4 movies = 1 shirt
1 bicycle = 10 pairs of eyeglasses
5 ice cream sodas = 2 pairs of socks

It was a form of reverse budgeting, planning ahead not only for what not to buy but for buying the instead of, which she could not afford not to own. This kind of juggling, borrowing from our desires to meet our needs, forced minuses to become pluses and liabilities to become assets. She knew the world would never examine her books, but it would examine her children. (She had only one set of these.)

A few paragraphs, a few simple words, an important lesson that many adults today still haven't learned. And when our adults don't know how to do Mama's arithmetic, how can we expect our kids to know how to balance the equations of real life?

First things first. Ice cream will feed the moment, but warm socks and eyeglasses and shirts and museums will feed the soul, and that which feeds the soul lasts forever.