Monday, March 27, 2006

"Ugh" and "Um" and "Yum"

Listening to: The Guess Who, Collection

Zeke's ick took hold of me Friday and it still hasn't really let go. I've probably eaten less than a half ounce of food in three days.

My head is spinning but not from the above mentioned malady.

A package arrived Saturday, Mamacita sent my yunguns a wonderful package of literature, movies, and activities. If I had her capacity for unconditional love, maybe I'd feel better. I wonder why she loves me, I wonder why anyone loves me, frankly. The handful of you who read me know I love my children completely but I wonder how that's possible when I hardly love myself but then, maybe it's through loving them that I'll learn something.

That's why I'm here. Look at the heading, just below "Patriside".

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"We have come for your daughters"

Listening to: Mix I made for Austen

For several months I've maintained a relationship through text messages that amounts to, um, more text messages. Oh, she reads me here. So I need to be careful with what I say but that's immaterial to this post, at this point.

Anyway, from what she's told me, she has three gorgeous daughters, the oldest of which is a budding Goth (I mention that daughter in my "Listening to:" here as well as a previous post) and so I figured I'd make a "Special Edition" Guilty Pleasures disk that leaned towards the dark side. I'm not sure any of my readers would want me to create a disk like this for their daughters but as you all know, I'm of the Frank Zappa School of Libertarianism such that I prefer to expose my kids to whatever comes along and have an honest dialogue about what they've veiwed. Information is power and I prefer to think my children get a decent dose of truth rather than propoganda.

I'd appreciate any comments from old Goths on my choices with this mix:

Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel - The Only Good Christian Is Dead

Which kind of denies the whole resurrection theory (on some level) but invigorates every Goth fantasy;

Front 242 - Headhunter V 3.0
I just like the way this song made Goths wave their hands over their heads back in 1987;

Skinny Puppy - Deep Down Trauma Hounds
Probably the best self-critique of a scene I've ever heard;

Contolled Bleeding - Fodder Song
Austen's mom tells me this is the favorite song on the disk, interesting since Controlled Bleeding did this shit looooooong before "Industrial" or "Goth" were terms in common usage. Most of their stuff is damned scary (though not as scary as it gets, as you'll see below) and this is one of their more accessible cuts;

Ministry - TV II

"Connect the goddamn dots!"

Sonic Youth - Trilogy: The Wonder/Hyperstation/Elimination Jr.
OK, not exactly Goth fodder but one of the best cuts from one of the best albums that defined what 80's music could be - SHOULD be, - without having to stoop to pseudo-rap;

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult - Sex on Wheels
Simply stupid but infinitely dancable;

Nine Inch Nails - March of the Pigs
Goths bow down to the album this song is from and, in my estimation, this is the best song from this album;

Throbbing Gristle - Hamburger Lady
My text message "girlfriend" told me Austen was scared by this cut - and well she should have been - it's ugly (noise over P. Orridge reading from a medical text about a severe burn victim) but it's also where Goth (or back-in-the-day, "Dark Punk") begins. If you're going to make scary noise, Throbbing Gristle rules the roost;

Nurse With Wound - Nil By Mouth
The most underrated band here (or anywhere; they afterall knew the value in Zappa's ability to make noise-for-art's-sake), and aside from Current 93 (not included on this disk), masters of the extended mix;

The Beatles - Blue Jay Way

Yes, they were instrumental in inventing "Skronk" (a term Lester Bangs passed off on Robert Chistgau but hey, Bangs did well with "heavy metal"), especially with "Helter Skelter" and "Revolution #9". This song is from "Magical Mystery Tour and hints at what they'll later invent;

Attrition - Acid Tongue
A bit on the Trance/Electronica side of things, hinting at the stupid steps Industrial would take. However, if you listen to where the people we hate (i.e. brown people from the middle east) have taken electronica, geniuses like Talvin Singh, et al, make some sense;

Psychic TV - Fire Woman
More pervert P. Orridge trying to scare us all and doing a damn good job of it;

Pigface - Steamroller
Beats the shit out of Bauhaus;

Marilyn Manson, The Beautiful People

As Zeke says, "The Beautiful Pee Pole," and I suspect Marilyn is enamored with his own pee pole.

So yeah, I exposed a young (and extremely smart) adolescent girl on the threshhold of her teen years to some very scary music, roots of what's "Goth" - good for her, as I figure it. Give her the dirt and you have a better idea where she'll fling it. Knowing where and when to duck is most of the battle, anyway.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Save me

Listening to: Aimee Mann, Bachelor No. 2

Another night of Zeke puking which seems like a metaphor for rightards and their continued defense of GW and all he's done to turn this country into one large turd farm.

If you remember, the Dixie Chicks were crass enough to say,

Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.

and they got slammed by it, by the weasels at Clear Channel and by Rightards who now say our adventure in Iraq was a mistake. Check out their new video and see if YOU disagree:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Don't look and it won't make you sick

Listening to: Austen's awesome Guilty Pleasure disk

Zeke's passed out now and I'm having a glass of merlot, watching the kitchen vibrate with the convulsions of the washer's spin cycle. My poor little man seems to have come down with whatever had Lilly laid out during Marni's birthday party; we were 5 miles out from my parent's house and 10 miles from home when his crying and whining was interupted by the unmistakable sound of a child upchucking. It was about the same place in Colorado Springs where the last child puked in my car. I took note and wondered why that particular part of Colorado Springs is unusually nauseating; if you ask me, the whole damn town should elicit emesis from even the most iron constitution.

This on a night when the temperature settled into single digits, the wind whipping in viciously and savagely. Opening car windows to vent the stench baked by blazing heaters was not an option, despite the "Ooooh, stinky," declarations by the girls. Cops be damned, I pressed on the accelerator and made haste for home.

As soon as we pulled into my driveway, I pulled Zeke out with the carseat and carried the entire bundle into the house, straight to the bathroom, unbuckled him from his seat and placed him in the tub, directing him to get out of his puke-soaked pajamas. Quickly, I got the girls out of the car then returned to Zeke, filling the tub while I collected his soiled clothes, stripped the cover off the carseat, and prepared for a cleaning spree I had not anticipated. As Zeke soaked and the girls settled into bed (the angels knowing it best to lay down without protest while daddy spun madly at the fiasco), I made it back to the car to wipe the backseat clean. Fortunately (for me, not so for Zeke), the puke was mostly confined to Zeke and his carseat which meant I didn't have to stomp around for long in the ungodly cold Colorado night.

It's going to be a long night. Although my sad little man has managed to make it to the toilet for the most part (though, with terrible aim), there's still much to be done. My ruthless single dad efficiency is only so effective, moreso than a spoonful of Pepto-Bismol but less than I need to spend the time writing that I wanted. Then again, it's the second day of spring and I hoped for better than single-digit temperatures and bloody snow.

So nothing's worked out the way I wanted, at least tonight. I'll pour myself another glass of merlot and then set about scrubbing and disinfecting the carseat, cleaning the toilet, waiting for the dryer to finish so I can set about bringing some order to this chaos. Considering I'm suffering through a nasty bout of bronchitis myself, I can say the silver lining in my own malady is that my immune system is in overdrive and I'll avoid the puke bug, whatever it is. Zeke will be back to being my Little Buddha by tomorrow and the snow will be gone by Saturday.

That's the lesson of a single dad: count your blessings, keep your eyes on what needs to be done immediately, and remember, what's awry now will be alright tomorrow.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Your government at work - or not

Listening to: A complation of Weather Report I made

I just heard on CNN that the US Government is owed $35 Billion from companies and white collar criminals, unpaid fines from civil and criminal rulings. Companies and crooks who bilked you out of money, polluted your water, air, land, poisoned your kids or granparents, etc., made a tidy profit on that malfeasance, got caught, convicted and... refused to pay the fine. $35 Billion we're owed and we're paying for - I mean, who do you think is paying to clean up their messes?

Fortunately, we have a system of government that provides checks and balances, people elected by us to watch out for our rights. Except, it's difficult for them to do anything for us when they're never at work. According to an ABC report:
The average American has worked more than 50 days in 2006, but, so far, the House has worked in Washington just 19 days, a total of 118 hours. The Senate is not far behind with 33 days at the Capitol.

Nice work if you can get it. The best government money can buy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Twas’ a party, a party, a party party weekend!

Listening to: The fine “Island” mix my mystery mixer made me

Not me, mofo (as I said last post), no amount of eager beaver would have drawn me out of my sanctuary this weekend. No, the revelry was reserved - bad word, it was far from reserved - limited to the wee-est of my brood, Marni's Grand Celebration today, Zeke to a classmate's party yesterday. Mad Irish children raving in the shadow of St. Patrick.

When I picked Zeke up from X's mom (who was watching the kids while X marched against the war), the little guy was furious, crying: he didn't want to go. All week he'd talked about the party and there he was, throwing a fit - who knows what goes through the mind of a three-year old boy? My own guess was that he was tired and hadn't had his nap (he fell fast asleep two minutes into the trip) but it was a fight to the finish as I fastened him into his car seat, tried to convince him that he'd have fun ("The party is at McDonald's fergodsake!") and coerce him ("We've are ess vee peed all over this thing, Mister, we're not going to cancel!").

Of course, as soon as we arrived and he shook the sleep off, he was in his stocking feet and chasing playmates through the gigantic hamster cage called McDonald's Playland. Fortunately, I didn't have to crawl inside the damn thing to rescue Zeke from some scary height or dark corner; familiar with that madness, I brought along the industrial-sized antibacterial dispenser with spray-nozzle.

Marni's affair was a bit cleaner but far from less subdued. Unfortunately, I had to work and so I missed the merriment but if the ruins of what was my mom's basement is any indication, a troop of little girls has the same destructive power as several kilotons of military-grade explosives.

When I picked the kids up (sans Lilly who stayed with X due to a stomach bug), Marni was hugging her Tickle & Giggle Curious George, daddy's birthday gift to her. When I was shopping for it, I was wary that perhaps it was too young for her but she insisted that was what wanted. It's depressing that I couldn't be there to see her expression when she opened up the present and saw what she got but I was glad she held it so tight on the ride home. Sure she's 5 but oh, still so much a baby.

When we arrived back at X's, poor little Lilly was still on the couch, less pale but obviously not happy her bug had prevented her from attending. Worse, I could see she was envious of Curious George. My heart broke for her.

And then my heart was set afire as I witnessed one of the nicest sweetest things I've ever seen my children do. Marni let her sick sister sleep with her present. "Here you go, Lilly, you can sleep with him tonight!"

It was a little difficult driving home through the snow with tears in my eyes.

Friday, March 17, 2006

We're all Irish today? God help us all...

Listening to: The Guily Pleasure disks I received in the mail today

Before your tiny petards are hoisted with a heft heretofore heard only at the business end of Bill O'Reilly's falafel, bigosh and begora, I'm Irish m'self, proud of it, too, so much that I refuse to avail myself to trimming the shamrocks from my ears, nose, and eyebrows (oh, those wild, middle-aged Irish eyebrows). Likewise, I refuse to join in on the festivities tonight, obviously preferring to do this and share my space with a couple of books.

No, it's not some committment to a higher principle; despite my Irish Catholicism, I haven't forsaken meat today (nor ever), much less corned beef and cabbage. If Fr. Feeney asks, I gave up sacrifice for Lent. Frankly, after Mardi Gras, I kind of lost my taste for mixing it up with the great unwashed during a designated "party night" ("amateur night" as my drunken Irish grandfather called them), drunken frat-boy types looking for a fight, dirt bags, sleaze bags, ho bags, all getting a bag on and none of them the least bit entertaining. I've been paid insufficiently to babysit shitwits who can't handle their booze and I see no reason to pay good money to hang out with those morons.

I have two good books and THIS to occupy me. As far as I can see, there's no good reason to step out and see what needs to get whacked. I certaily don't need that.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mysterious women, beautiful women, wonderful women

Listening to: Lamb, Back to Mine

A week or so back, the wonderful Landismom pointed out that the day of my Pixie's birthday, March 8, is International Women's Day. Being that Pixie is the most overtly "feminist" of my two girls, I'm eternally grateful Landismom enlightened me and helped me associate a day most appropriate to my daughter's birthday (as opposed to, say, "National Potato Chip Day" or "Kick Your Boss in the Groin Day"). Although my Pixie is only a bit over a week into being 5-years old, I can already tell that her feminist soul is emerging and that she will one day (too soon) shine as a strong woman, a wonderful woman, a woman intent on smashing the Glass Ceiling not because it's there to hold her back but because it needs to be shattered.

My daughters deserve credit for my own awakening as a better human being, a better man. As I wrote a long time ago, making me aware of my capacity for love, shaking my soul to arise and embrace something bigger than myself. More than that, having daughters has made me keenly aware at how shabby societies treat women, how greasy right-wing types are doing their best to oppress my daughter's rights to self-determination based on fear of losing grip on a patriarchal society.

Rant time: I am done treading lightly around some religious beliefs. If your beliefs entail respect for all life, we're good, we have no problems here. However, if you only pay lip service to respecting all life (meaning you're all weepy when it comes to the survival of a blastocyst but have no issue with nuking Arab countries), your sorry double-knit clad carcass needs to steer clear of my atheist fist. Keep your grubby hands off my daughter's rights to their bodies and to their will to become whatever they want to become. Keep your silly superstition (and yes, it is "silly" and "superstition" you ignoramus) away from my family. My tolerance is not measured by my willingness to forbear your own intolerance so you can just holy roll your way back to your turd shack church. End of rant.

Since my girls were born, I've been collecting articles, newspaper and magazine clippings, of exceptional women, women who have defied society's expectations and gone their own way, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, women who have pushed men and social convention aside to forge their own path. If there's anything I want to instill deeply into my daughter's minds, other than a respect for all life (with the notable exception of the ninnies referred to in the rant above), it's that nothing holds them back from becoming whatever they choose, that this is a universe of infinite possibilities, wide-open and only limited by the extent of their imaginations.

A while back, a female friend told me that it was probably due to my daughters that I'd gotten in touch with my feminine-self and she was convinced that I'd done well in coming to terms with that part of me. Not certain if she was being entirely truthful or was just handing me a compliment but I do know that having daughters has made me much more conscientious about how I treat women, especially in relationships. One of my biggest fears is dealing with my first case of heartbreak and considering that, I have to wonder if how I treat someone is how I'd want my daughters treated in a similar situation. It's been a huge wake-up call.

That's only part of it, thankfully; my girls have made me more aware of the awesome beauty and wonder of the fairer sex, opened my eyes and mind to a level of appreciation that had escaped me. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a huge sucker for a pretty face and no less hormonal than I was when I was 16 but that's only a very small part of what draws my focus now. As I said at the start of this, I have my daughters to thank for making me a better man, a man given the gift to see and appreciate women with much more depth and complexity.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My heart does not break for a stone, cold sack of shit

Listening to: Faure, Requiem Op48; Bach, Magnificat in D

An email alert has just brought me the news that Joseph Smith has been sentenced to die for the kidnap, rape, and murder of 11-year old Carlie Brucia. No surprise, considering life is cheap in Florida, cheaper than mangroves and mud, cheaper than a concealed handgun permit. Not that I don't think the scumbag deserves the death penalty, hell, the sentence is hardly retribution; he will never know the terror and degradation he put that poor little girl through and unfortunately, he will never come close to experiencing the horrible way he chose to take an innocent life. As this plays out, with all the appeals and parrying with the courts, as he sits fat and happy in his cell, he'll only know the frustration of a lingering fear of imminent death which is, ultimately, what we all face, really.

In principle, I am opposed to the death penalty. A civilized society does not base its judicial system on an ancient tribal ethos of "an eye for an eye", it does not devalue life to the extent that it makes examples of them - dehumanizes them. That's the problem. In order for Smith to do what he did, he dehumanized his victim, made her little more than the object of his gratification, made her nothing more than a complication in his worthless, venal life and disposed of her accordingly. In doing that, he relinquished his own rights as a person, he cancelled his membership with the human race.

So our judicial system perpetuates the dehumanizing process, without thought of analogy or metaphor or the fact that it represents nothing like retribution nor serves as deterrent, it's just there for us to say, "yeah, we killed another succumbs," even if the courts or DNA evidence say otherwise. Nothing in the case Joseph Smith v. The State of Florida equivocates his guilt yet we collectively stand together in the dehumaniztion of his sorry ass.

Believe me, I'd be less than honest if I said that my soul didn't do a silent happy dance when I heard about the death sentence. Had it been my child, I'd ask for ten minutes alone with him, no weapons, no knives or a gun, the feeling of his flesh ripped from his bones beneath my fingertips would be sufficient. However, we don't base our judicial system on that, or so we say.

In order to consider my stand, I have to think the unthinkable: what if it was my daughter who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered? Likewise, what if it was my son who was the perpetrator? In either case, I have to assume the justice system is consistent, unwavering, its going to rule the same way.

I can't be sure of that and neither can any citizen of this country. I can't be sure that this crime wouldn't be committed in a state where there is no death penalty. Look at where the death penalty is applied liberally (like Florida and Texas) and you'll see that deterrence doesn't work. Where life is cheap, where dehumanization is the rule of law, it's easier to say fuck it, I'm not leaving witnesses.

Does Joseph Smith deserve to be executed? Most certainly. The 27 arrested in the child pornography ring today deserve the same. Should we do execute them? No.

Stretch them out on a table and let me pound their genitals with a hammer.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The sorry state of the united states we're in

Listening to: Ministry, Psalm 69

Please - make it stop!

With the worthless CNN jabbering mindlessly in the background, I managed to catch some blown-dried boob chirp cheerfully "The economy is booming!"

Aside from the obvious question - what universe is this idiot inhabiting? - the question must be asked, "What makes CNN think I'm giving an ounce of credence to some ninny paid six figures to look pretty and parrot Administration talking points?" Here I am trying to support a family on a little over 20-grand a year and some pinhead making well over a hundred-grand a year thinks her declaration that things are terrific mean squat to me? It's rather like someone visiting a terminal cancer patient and saying, "You know, since I've been visiting the gym three times a week, I feel GREAT!"

Despite such empty proclamations by CNN punditards, the facts contradict the fairy tale. Case in point, Mort Zuckerman said:
The Republicans have squandered the huge budget surplus they inherited by spending not just on guns and butter but on guns, butter, and tax cuts. Because of government obfuscation, most Americans don't realize the deep fiscal hole we're in---and the fact that we're still busy digging. As David Walker, the head of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, pointed out, "The federal government's obligations, current liabilities, and unfunded fiscal commitments are over $43 trillion and rising. . . . Yes, that's trillions with 12 zeros rather than billions with nine zeros."

The estimated net worth of American families is slightly over $47 trillion, and nearly all of it---90 per-cent---would be needed to cover government's current obligations. And don't think we can grow our way out of this hole. According to the GAO, it would take real double-digit growth over the next 75 years to pay off our current debt--an impossible task, considering that the growth rate during the 1990s boom years averaged just 3.2 percent.

And that was written a year ago - think things have gotten better? Guess again:
Meet the typical American family.

It has about $3,800 in the bank. No one has a retirement account, and the neighbors who do only have about $35,000 in theirs. Mutual funds? Stocks? Bonds? Nope. The house is worth $160,000, but the family owes $95,000 on it to the bank. The breadwinners make more than $43,000 a year but can't manage to pay off a $2,200 credit card balance.

That is the portrait of the median American household as painted by the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances.

More here - it's very telling - and a cold slap of reality in comparison to the chreeful drivel of some CNN bobblehead.

If someone sees a silver lining here, please point it out to me.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The sorry state of the sorry state I'm in

Listening to: Public Enemy, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Sundays do me in. I leave Manitou Springs at about 8 in the morning to drive east, though Colorado Springs, to the northeast side of town where I work. My first group starts at 9, a second group at 11:30; later groups at 4 and 6, which means, with clinical notes, I don't usually get out of the office until 9 PM. Those of you who work 12-hour days as a rule may think I'm a bit of a titty-baby but it's draining to run four therapy groups in a single day. By the time I return home, I'm a Zen master, perfect in my mumen ("no thought").

My second group ends at about 1:30, giving me two hours before I need to check in my 4 o'clock group. Since I'm a half-hour drive from Manitou Springs I'm better off hanging out close to the office, finding a place where I can stuff meat and bread into my face while keeping my face within the proximity of a book. Any book (pretty much), I'm not too picky when I have two hours to kill.

Unfortunately, I failed to grab something on my rush out the door this morning and when my break rolled around at half-ish past one, realized I needed to find something to make my two hours tolerable, something to help me escape the morning's rigors of picking client's minds and the crusties from the corners of my eyes. Considering my office lies within a obscenely long stretch of suburban strip-mall self-sameness, there should have been no problem finding a Borders or Barnes & Noble or some other chain and ball-gag attrocity that passes for a book store in these Godless times. So I drove - and drove - and drove - and found nothing.

Nothing. Not a book seller anywhere. In two miles of taupe-tinged monstrosities blended with the blandness of the housing developments behind them, not a single store catered to the literate. I shouldn't have been surprised but, oh, I was appalled. Between big box retailers, botulism shops, and minor players like karate schools and pet stores (eight - count em' - EIGHT!), not a single store selling books, just shit, miles and miles of SHIT, big screen shit and smaller than last year's shit, shit on a stick and shit in a shot glass, Eleven thousand-some feet of all kinds of shit to buy but by god if you need to feed your mind, you're shit out of luck because no one's selling that shit along the shit streets of Colorado Springs.

I looked out over the miles of McMansions and wondered what went through the tiny minds if they never read, what causes the uninformed to slap W'04 stickers on their SUVs when they got a winner and rip those same stickers off when something like Katrina brings to light what dim bulb shined the warmest in the voting booth. Dude, THAT was a mistake.

Disturbing as this sounds, my own story has a happy ending. I found a Goodwill - hey, they have books - and figured I'd just look past the Danielle Steele and Ann Coulter and dig in the crevices. Naturally, I found a bunch of old text books (i.e. anthologies) but I also found some actual BOOKS, y'know, stuff to read, for the sheer joy of making my lips move and not feeling like I was meeting some Lit class requirement. Dostoevsky, Twain, Kingsolver, Irving, Nabakov, Gogol, etc., I was kind of shocked by what I found.

The stack of books I walked to the register with was reckoned to be about 17 bucks, about 10 bucks more than I could afford; another ten bucks worth or so was left back on the shelves. Anticipating the damage (it's always much more than I calculate in my head - just ask any local music store owner who's heard my bitching), I was floored when the cashier said, "Uh, 90 cents."

Wow. Not just that I was standing at the register looking at books I'd cradled like a baby I couldn't afford to have but suddenly I realized I'd hit a very minor (but somehow, meaningful) lotto jackpot. Let's have another baby, I thought.

Might as well - in territory like mine, you grab it while you can, you never know when the rabid goons will sieze books and put a torch to them. After all, I live just down the road from James Dobson. The fact that one can take a day's walk down the road, in the middle of a city, and not see a single book store, should be reason enough to figure Fahrenheit 451 isn't just because we got global warming.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The grace of memory

Listening to: Charles Mingus, Mingus in Europe

You can blame Mamacita. I insisted that I cannot write poetry and she insisted that what I write is poetry.

We got into this a couple weeks ago and she made the mistake of asking me to send some examples of my "poetry". Her second mistake was insisting that my poetry was... um, "poetic" and that led to her third mistake - inspiring me to write more.

Blame her, you're stuck with this schlock:

Two hundred, five hundred, a thousand years ago,
the poorest of the poor murdered their babies,
and fed the fresh corpses to their hungry dogs,
without a second thought or fear of damnation;
Hell was an abstraction and with another mouth
to feed, and immediate needs not entirely met,
it was impossible to imagine any place worse than
the eternal toil between birth and death; Hell
was a luxury for those who could afford to think.

Our memories are miniscule, hermetic, locked in
tiny boxes seperated from the past, our history.
Beneath our path are countless forgotten bones,
rattling silent, wherever we walk, lost in thought.

Yet still, we claim,
We know everything.

It's up to you to give Mamacita her just desserts...

Afterthought: It occurred to me that this could be interpreted as an exercise in supreme self-indulgence: "Check out my mad skillz," or some other cutesey-pie ploy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think this poem is CRAP and I'm relying on you, dear readers, to tell me where I go wrong, what's lacking or what's too much. What I know about poetry would fit into an eye-dropper (with room left for a hefty dose of dramamine) and I'd love some direction, criticism, and back-handed brutality. Any comments would be appreciated (and just might save your life).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Shadow people

Listening to: Bach, The Glenn Gould Edition

Marni and Zeke are wrestling on the floor, giggling and laughing hysterically - it's just a matter of time before someone bumps their head and the festivities will come to a screaming halt. Until then, I'll satisfy myself with the music of their laughter.

Bruised knees and knotted brows aside, everyone in my house safe and warm, not something I can say for countless millions, unfortunately. Honestly, if I could let every lost person run around my living room and wrestle, free to bruise foreheads on my coffee table, and feel secure, fed, warm, and safe, I would. If I had such abundance that I could love and validate every impoverished soul the same way I give that to my children, there would be no limits to my embrace.

We barely got down the block on our tip to school this morning when we came upon crime scene tape and emergency vehicles, TV camera crews and crowds of curious neighbors. The local elementary school is catty-corner from my driveway, I could stand on my porch and break on of its windows with a rock if I chose. Not 50 yards from my front door, the street was blocked, the entire front of the elementary school was taped off. The radio said the school was closed "due to a crime scene."

Details finally came to light later in the day: a meth lab had been discovered in an apartment right across the street from the school. Right. Across. The. Street. From. An. Elementary. School.

The assclown running the lab was 39 years old, far too old, I think, to be living that kind of life. Far too old but obviously, not too stupid. His long stretch at Camp Butt Rape (compounded by his genius of keeping his lab within 1000 feet of a school) will probably not be an educational experience and I seriously doubt he'll spend his time thinking about putting children at risk by exposing them to the toxic crap used in the process of manufacturing meth. Too bad; if child abusers tend to be at the bottom of the twisted prison hierarchy, he needs to be included among the scum.

Yet, doing what I do for a living makes me wonder if our meth-maker would be where he is now had his childhood been different, if his memories include many nights like the one I described at the start of this post. Somehow, I doubt that but I could be wrong; unfortunately, sometimes, no matter how much love and validation we give our children, no matter how involved we are in their emergence, we can't prevent them from joining the legions of the Shadow People.

No matter what happens to the worthless turd, I have no sympathy for him. Even if we come from the worst circumstances, we decide what we will become and where we will go. In my 45 years, I have never met anyone who did not have an inate understanding of right and wrong. It's not our parent's sins that lead us into the shadows but our own choices, in the end.

This may be a shock to those of you who shake your heads at my liberal bleeding heart but I've never claimed to be anything beyond just myself (which probably explains the dearth of readers, here).

Still, I tend to believe that could I embrace the lost and give them what my wee-est ones had this evening, we'd see considerably fewer Shadow People in our midst. The self-centeredness shown by meth-man is symptomatic of the self-centeredness that allows parents to look at their children as burdens rather than gifts. It is that self-centeredness that makes someone reject what they know is right for the sake of some false sense of validation and seek the shadows instead of the light.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Little mirror

Listening to: Prince, Controversy

Fat March snowflakes today, wet and falling fast, making a hurried dash to earth still warm from yesterday's sun; embracing a new world rising, becoming one with an emerging inevitabilty. Wet snow announces the seasons in transition, still not spring and yet not quite winter, a rising and falling, new blades of crocuses bent under the weight impertinent March snow. It was this way a year ago today.

Don't you remember? Ah, but I do, not because of my superior powers of memory but because this day last year resides in my archives and so I have a snapshot of what it was like. Not only that but I can recall the moment I was inspired to write it, with vivid clarity, the quiet scuttle at breakfast, the soap suds on my forearms as I cleaned cereal bowls and looked out the window. Then, as now, I watched fat March snowflakes falling fast and felt the same sensation of transition, its feathered touch as it brushed by.

Another year, I know, but it's ironic how similar things seem. No dawdling breakfast this time, no time to linger when the car warms up for the trip to school. Also, she's more aware that she's turned five today, interested in this moment and not indifferent as she was a year ago. Still, she is just as diffident, timorous, her voice barely a whisper as if she speaks from a different dimension. Like the silence of the snowfall outside, she seems, in many ways, unchanged from what she was last year on this day.

She still has her fetish - Blue from "Blue's Clues" - still clinging tenaciously to threadbare dog doll she's adored as long as I can remember. Her sister, two years older, continues to carry Simba in all things and everywhere so I won't begrudge her continued connection to Blue. Indeed, while her sister borders on the obsessive when it comes to Simba and all things The Lion King, Marni manages to make her fealty to Blue conditional, a marriage of convenience. I suspect Blue's importance will slowly fade as the seasons assert themselves in the same way her personality asserts its own special quality, as more Marni emerges, differentiating the five year old her from the four year old her.

Yesterday, as we got ready for school, she claimed she was sick, "My tummy hurts," said in such a way that I was convinced she should stay home for the day. Her brother and sister were dropped at school and she came home with me, to curl up in a chair and watch "Blue's Clues", quiet and still, wrapped in a blanket as she watched the show. As soon as it was over she asked, "When are we going to the park?"

So, not everything is as it was, of course, and her duplicitous streak is something that has developed since last year. A few months back, after picking everyone up from school, she told her sister that her class took a field trip to McDonald's and in her Happy Meal was a Simba toy. Lilly went ballistic, threw a tantrum that went far beyond what her sister had told her. Especially since there was no field trip and no Simba toy. Marni had made the entire thing up simply to stick a needle into her sister.

In the triad of my children, Lilly is the Golden Child, the oldest who always does right, sets precedence, the voyager forging into the frontiers of development; Zeke is the baby, the charmer, the shining light where all eyes go, the urge to pick him up and squeeze is irresistable. In the middle is Marni, unassuming, silent, deep, a million miles away from everyone and everything - the most like me. Between the bookends of her ostentatious siblings is my reitteration, a subtle and complex enigma.

Marni's shoe hangs from my rear view mirror, size '0', a tiny reminder from when she entered my life. I can't look at her without seeing myself, moreso than either of her siblings. So it's fitting that her tiny shoe hangs from the mirror, my reflection is just as much hers as hers is mine.

Outside, the snow continues to fall with its heavy March insistence that winter still lingers. Let it snow, it won't stay. Tomorrow the sun will shine and spring will be one day closer, Marni will be one day older - but still like me. Will she stay that way, will she always be the child most my reflection, my little mirror? Will it be a cool, wet summer or a hot and dry? I have no way of knowing. For now, I enjoy watching the snow, allow this March evening to be what it is and know that whatever will happen, it will be far more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hate to say I told you so but I told you so

Listening to: The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious

In my therapy groups, I inevitably introduce a concept to my groups that I call The Filter. We don't see the world as it is, I tell them, we have little objectivity in what we observe of our day to day life. Instead, what we see is interpretation determined by The Filter, the prejudices, preconceptions, emotional content, and beliefs we bring to bear on any given situation. As such, our view of the world is largely distorted, full of opinions rather than facts, an interference of clarity.

The sessions in which we address the filter usually go for 4 or 5 weeks and they tend to be the most popular sessions I run. By far, the most common comment I receive when a client finishes is how important it was to them to become aware of their filter and learn how to diminish it.

A few months back, I decided to show the movie Crash to illustrate how The Filter works, how the characters in the movie allowed their "filters" to lead them on inevitable (and sometimes tragic) courses of action.

When I first saw the movie, I immediately realized it was a great film, an important film. The movie gave me one of those experiences where, days after I viewed it, I kept thinking about it, the characters, their actions. It moved me.

For my therapy groups, Crash was extremely helpful in elaborating The Filter. It engages the audience, it plays games with our own filters, it tugs at our filters and then snaps them back to slap us in the face. We can't finish the movie without having confronted our own preconceptions, prejudices, beliefs, and emotions.

Unless you just emerged from a cave, you're aware that Crash took the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year and although I'll confess that I have not seen any of the other nominees, I must say that I'm convinced the Academy made the right decision.

My groups will return to The Filter in a couple of months (right now we're dealing with Beliefs and some concepts from Narrative Psychology). I can't wait to see it again.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Listening to: My Guilty Pleasures mix

SPLENATION (df.) - Providing rationale for statements or behaviors while venting one's spleen; not an actual word, I just made it up.

Neologistically inclined, no, not even inclined but reclining, baking and basking in the Sunshine of Your Love while cramming my face full of Wavy Lays dripping with ranch dip. Don't let it be said that I don't know how to make the most of a Saturday afternoon.

I'm finally home after a week of house/dog-sitting for my parents. Had I been given a decent internet connection, I would have regaled you all with tales from the center of the suburban vortex but as it was, I spent most of my week trying to get online. Early last week, my 3-year old son decided to make a nocturnal visit to the computer room and reconfigure things his nascent intellect was hardly prepared to explain so that daddy could re-reconfigure those things to make them right. Sparing you the tech-geeky details, I wasn't able to make everything right until some time yesterday afternoon.

Hobbled thus, my angel Mamacita agreed to handle my mixmania! obligations and all of you who agreed to participate should have received your notice by now. Your disks need to be mailed by St. Patty's Day, appropriately enough since those disks should reflect a certain level of inebriate indiscretion. Post your song lists April Fool's Day (the correct lists, you wags), as this is played.