Thursday, February 26, 2009

Van Dykes


I'm listening to a New Yorker podcast about the "Van Dykes." Lesbian separatists in the 1970s. Very interesting. Abbreviated text is here. Audio interview with the author is here.

What's Twitter?

Motley Crue, Nashville

An Ari Story

Yesterday morning, my daughter asked me to remove a small flashlight from its plastic packaging. Always the helpful and agreeable parent, I said yes and went to the kitchen to get the scissors. As I was taking the scissors from the drawer she added, "Thanks, because Momma says no."

Nice. Already committed to the act, I opened the flashlight anyway. I cut the packaging, inserted the battery and handed it to my sweet daughter feeling a bit guilty about teaching her that just because one parent says no doesn't mean the other will, too. It had to happen sooner or later, I suppose.

Ari played with the flashlight for a bit and then sat down next to me on the couch. "Daddy, let's pretend that I'm the mom and you're the dad." "Okay," I answered.

"Michael?"

"Yes, Paige," I replied.

In an accusatory tone, she asked, "Why did you open the flashlight for Ari?"

And just like that I was set up and busted.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Innocent When You Dream"

I sat on the cold, hard floor, all concrete and painted blue, while waiting for my ride home. For the first time in what may have been months I listened to Frank's Wild Years by Tom Waits from start to finish. I had forgotten that even while totally sober, this record always puts me into that happy-drunk state of mind. Tom sings and plays and I swagger and sway.

The rain came down hard outside while I kneeled against the wall by the time clocks. I scooped up a nickel that had fallen from the hole in my pocket and wondered if I wasn't being too much of a sad sack to consider that hole as a metaphor for the rest of my days. Probably I was. With the five cents now safely in the other pocket and "Innocent When You Dream" closing out the album, I stood up and stretched, all six-foot-two of me plus arms reaching toward the ceiling. There was reward in the stretch as my spine did that pop-pop-pop, my bone machine all elongated and ready for movement.

I opened the doors to the cold and contemplated this small chapter of my life. Bruised, but blessed. Hole in my pocket, but music in my head. No reliable means of transportation, but a ride home from a friend. I smiled and took what I had.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She's Crazy About Babies

I walked into the living room this morning and she was practicing putting little diapers on each of these seven baby dolls. I think she'll be a pretty good big sister.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Remember when I used to think myself a writer?


If it weren't for the kids, I'd have nothing to share here at all.

In kids news, Paige just got home from the doctor. It seems that baby Samantha should make her out-of-womb debut on April 14th. Ari is really excited at the opportunity to change a real baby's diapers, but I'm imagining the novelty of that will get old quite quickly.

I enjoyed two articles in The New York Times Magazine yesterday. One was a story on Twitter's Fail Whale and the other explored the art of Facebook status updates.

What's new with you?

Monday This Guy

Sunday, February 15, 2009

She Moves On

I don't know why, but I saw this picture that my little guy took and I thought of Paul Simon's "She Moves On." His sister thinks it's too blurry, but I think it's magic.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two Concerts

I'm seeing Bill Charlap on Wednesday with my dad. If I can get him to drive me back home to Hermitage after the show, then I'll take a bus into town early in the day to see a matinee showing of The Wrestler. If not, then I'll just drive the van after the kids get home from school.

I'm also seeing Motley Crue next Saturday with, um, just me. This is provided that I can find a babysitter for my kiddos. Otherwise, I'll be home with an expensive and unused ticket for the show. Consider this an open invitation to any of my safe, sane and trustworthy (and pre-approved) blogger friends to hang out in my home next Saturday night and watch my kids for a few hours.

Anyway, have a great day. We're listening to opera and reading Star Wars books here. Life is good.

How My Kid Sees Me


The thing about being the photography guy in the family is that I'm rarely in the family pictures. My five-year-old, however, loves his camera so at least I've got a chance of being in a picture from time to time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Roj, Nolensville Road

3312

The Actual Wages are Secondary

As a hotel worker, I'm just trying my best to hold on. My drop in wages in the last year has been unbelievable. If there is a layoff in my future, I'm just hoping it doesn't happen before mid-April when our baby is due. The difference between having health insurance and not having health insurance with a baby on the way is quite mammoth. In fact, it's pretty much everything.

From WSJ:
"Congress has done a great job of killing the resort hotel business with the way they've criticized the number of financial firms from having conferences," Loews Corp. Chief Executive Officer James Tisch said in a conference call with investors this week.
From Marriott On The Move:
Hotels everywhere are feeling the repercussions from companies canceling functions because they fear the scrutiny. In this economy, Marriott made cuts where we've had to, while trying to preserve a great guest experience in all of our hotels. We have done our very best to keep our people employed but it's not always possible. In some locations, our hotels are the major employer.
A good example is the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, just outside of San Francisco. This resort has been especially hard hit by group cancellations. In just the past four months, 32 different groups have canceled plans for retreats, educational seminars, and incentive meetings. As a result, some very good, hardworking people are now unemployed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One thing about me.

I don't care what the Internet thinks. Claire Suddath makes me smile. Here's part two.

The kiddos at the zoo.

He loves his camera.




She loves the fish.



He looks like the zoo docent.

The Family That Worries Together...

So we went to the zoo yesterday and had a great time. See the pics? Um, okay. I promise we had a good time. I promise that we were happy to see meerkats and giraffes and elephants and I'm pretty sure that we smiled a lot. I just didn't happen to catch that in the photos below. I'll post happier looking pictures later.






The Gibbons at the zoo can be a litte loud.


Visit Nashville Zoo.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

My Dirty Dog


My good friend at Life on the "Golden Road" is asking for Most Valuable Pet votes for his dog Nala. Visit his blog, follow the link and vote if you like. I just did.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Feel Good Friday - "I Feel Better Than..."

I'm unsure of the exact wording, but today my 4-year-old asked me, as it turned out, to make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Whether it was my failing attempt at hearing or her failing attempt at enunciating, what I heard was, "I feel better than Gene Simmons." Wha??

And now I'm reminded of my early record store days. There were three songs that I was really, really into that we would play frequently: "This Is Ponderous" by 2NU, "Me And Elvis" by Human Radio, and "I Feel Better Than James Brown" by the fantastic Was (Not Was).

Enjoy Was (Not Was). And feel good. It's Friday.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Curiosity of Children

My young kiddos impress me so much. In recent weeks they've jumped at any chance to learn and use words in other languages. They have a big brother who has a girlfriend who is fluent in Portuguese and when they learned this, they were all over me to teach them some Portuguese. They'll just have to ask her when they meet her. I know nothing.

Each day when I leave for work, it is our custom to meet at the door for hugs and kisses and well wishes. "Goodbye, adios, watch out for cars" is the familar refrain. Today I taught them a few of the French words and phrases I know: Bon jour, au revoir, comment allez-vous, ca va. They ate it up and we had the big time saying hello and goodbye to each other and asking how one another was doing. We were doing very well, thank you very much.

As I shared on Twitter, Ari made me laugh earlier this evening by remaining curious about words said in other languages even when my mind was a million miles away from that. She was in the tub but doing more playing than bathing. I got after her to hurry up.
"Bathe," I said impatiently to my little girl. "What does bathe mean?" "It's another way to say 'take a bath.'" "Oh, I don't speak French."
The girl cracks me up.

So does the boy. A few Saturdays ago, I went to that one place in the apartment where I pretend that no one can bother me: the bathroom. I tuned the radio to WPLN to listen to La Rondine in peace. Of course, Joshua entered within minutes, but instead about making the usual noise about Star Wars toys or complaining about his sister, he just sat down on the floor with me and asked me what I was listening to. I told him that it was called opera and he said that he liked it. With that I let him stay and listen with me and he asked me what language they were singing in and what they were saying. His interest lasted all of about five minutes, but that's not too bad for a five-year-old boy with video games, television, and a million stormtroopers in the next room.

I thought that was the end of his interest in opera but tonight Joshua asked me to turn on some opera on his bedside radio. Of course, the radio station was playing classical music instead tonight and he was a bit sad about that. He rolled over and muttered quietly and pitifully, "I never get to listen to opera." Well, if that's what he wants to fall asleep to, I guess I'll have to burn some CDs for him tomorrow. Maybe some Jean-Phillipe Rameau. You know, since he's already a bit familiar with some French. Au revoir.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday Me


Our living room looks so much nicer now and all we did was angle the couch out from the wall a bit, move one chair from one corner to another and get rid of another chair that was getting to look quite hideous. (It matches the couch if that tells you what I think of our couch.) Of course, we don't know what to do with the chair. I'd toss it into the dumpster outside our apartment, but it's against the rules to do that. Never mind that most days I see all kinds of furniture in the dumpster, but I try to be a rule follower so we're doing it redneck style and keeping the chair on our back patio area. It's big and fat and tacky and yours if you want it.

Is the economy getting you down? Me, too. Here's hoping we can get back to a point where just working for a living is enough. I can't whine too much as long as I'm only working one job. I'd love to find a second job, but feel limited with transportation challenges. Surely I can find something in walking distance and hope that my bosses keep giving me rides to and from work. The Honda is pretty much done and I can't afford to fix what ails it so it just sits outside. It runs but has issues and it might be time to just sell it for whatever and buy a good bicycle or save up for a scooter.

In awesome news, Nashvillest brings us the leaked line-up for this year's Bonnaroo concert. Bruce!

Seeking Solace and Peace

From The Elements of Benedictine Life:
Silence. Before we can listen, before we can truly hear the Word of God addressed to our hearts, the spirit and practice of silence is essential. Silence for the monk is not a rejection of the neighbor but rather a recollected attentiveness to what lies at the heart of reality once all the ephemeral clutter of daily life is cleared away. Only one who has learned how to be silent, who has learned how to go beyond the noise from inside and outside himself, will be able to hear the cry of others, as well as the call of God.
There was a time back in 2000 or 2001 that I was seriously thinking about visiting The Abbey of Gethsemani. According to what I read of it in the paper, you could schedule a week or a weekend there and live among the Trappist monk, living as they do. My interest in the retreat had as much to do with religion as with making time to embrace and appreciate purposeful silence, escaping life's habit of "sound and fury, signifying nothing," if you will.

I never really followed up on that, but I still think of it from time to time. I take my peace in the relative quiet of my nights after clocking out at work. Sometimes it's the true silence that I receive and sometimes it's the pretend kind, the kind I make for myself by listening to Van Morrison's Hymns To The Silence on my iPod. Even though it's not the real thing, that record can certainly walk you peacefully toward it.

I'm still the same old me, always struggling to make enough money for my family, never quite figuring out how. I love the people in my noisy little life and want the absolute best for them as they do so much to make me smile. But sometimes everyone talks at the same time and the TV's on and the dog is whining to go out and I'm full of economic despair as it is and I just need some stillness and some peace.

 Thanks for reading. I wish you peace.

J-Bez

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Watching A Nice Person Sign Autographs

I stood in the lobby at my post and watched a woman sign autographs. She was pleasant, patient, and beautiful. Her perfect posture was such that I became aware of my slacking self and straightened up.

The autograph seekers were softball coaches and she was Chicago Bandits pitcher Amanda Freed. She was speaking at a coaches clinic and sharing tips and advice. I don't know softball but I'm always impressed by athletes and their abilities. More than that, I was impressed by Amanda Freed's kind and engaging demeanor. I'll be very pleased if my daughters grow up to be as talented and friendly.

On a related note, enjoy this article from Neuroanthropology entitled "Throwing Like A Girl('s Brain)."

The Sibling Dynamic, Part Four


Gone seem the days of her being bullied by her bigger brother. In recent months the newly turned 4-year-old has learned how to stand her ground. She's independent and strong, and maybe a bit manipulative. It used to be that when she'd complain that her brother took a toy from her or poked her, it meant that those things did occur. Now there are instances where maybe he did and maybe he didn't. It makes parenting a wee bit harder.

Even when she requires our help in sibling-related situations, she puts her own stamp on it:

     Ari: Mom, Josh won't let me into his room.

     Mom: Go tell him that I said he has to let you play in his room.

     Ari: Joshua, Mom said you have to let me play in your room. The End!

The End? Her words and Joshua relents.

The End.