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Thursday, August 31, 2006

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If you build it, they will come

This was in my mailbox last night:

Hi, This message is intended for those over the age of 21. I just found your Motley Crue blog entry and I think you may be of some help to me. I'm reaching out to you on behalf of M80 & Bacardi Live regarding Bacardi Live Global Gathering 2006 featuring Tommy Lee, Papa Roach, Tiesto and more. Since you blogged about Motley Crue, I thought that you might be interested in posting the press release or related information on the event? You seem like a reputable influencer, so I think you'd be a big help to us.

Of all the hopes and ambitions I have secretly nestled in my bosom concerning what professional and personal opportunities this blog might usher into my life, this, I have to say, was not on my radar. In case you missed it, my "Motley Crue blog entry" was the one where I likened schlepping kids and their gear to being a roadie for Motley Crue.

Upon deeper reflection, though, I guess I can see the forces of destiny at work. Back in grade nine I used to wear little square metal badges of Vince Neil and Crue on the collar of my black Members Only jacket. (Speaking of which, where is Vince in the afore-mentioned line-up? I don't know if I can lend my endorsement if Vince is not on board). I guess even back then, I was a "reputable influencer."

Well, I had a reputation, anyhow.

The email goes on to hint that there might be free drinks in store in return for throwing my considerable weight around the blogosphere. Unfortunately, to whom much is given, much is also expected, and I cannot abuse the public trust in such a blatant example of payola. At least not one that doesn't involve cash.

But rock on, dudes, rock on.

Filed under: fluffdrivel
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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Touching base

Just a short post to say I have been in Appalachia for the past five days attending a dreamwork conference and got home last night. Patrick was beaming proudly when he met me at the airport, because he kept everyone alive during my absence (actually, we don't know about one of the cats yet). I don't want to take away in the least from this substantial accomplishment, but I am a little overwhelmed this morning all the same. I'm sure the place looks no worse to the objective eye than it normally does when I am home, but there's a difference between the mess I helped to make and the one that I didn't. My piles of crap have an underlying rational order, imperceptible to the untrained eye. His piles of crap make no sense at all to me.

Nevertheless, he has taken to bed for a week, and I am once again queen of all I survey. In a gallon of coffee or two, I will set to work moving the piles of crap around to my liking.

Before that happens, I do want to say a word about my terror of flying, which seems to ratchet up with each passing year, and which events of the past weekend did not help to amelliorate one tiny bit. I find it is taking more and more psychic energy to muster the courage to embark and stay onboard the "winged cannister", as travel humorist Bill Bryson so reassuringly puts it. (Thanks, Mr. B....last time I pick up one of your books at the departures terminal newsstand, no matter how much I adore you.)

Reasoning it out with a friend en route to the airport yesterday, I acknowledged my fear is decidedly irrational. I mean, which is really riskier, being ushered through clear skies by highly trained ground and air crew, or trying to do self-pyschoanalysis on the phone while hurtling down a serpentine mountain highway at 75 miles an hour?

What I have concluded is that it is essentially a control issue for me. There is something about the idea of having to passively sit for several hours, trusting innumerable unseen forces (the pilot, and the laws of aerodynamics, to name just two) that depletes all the oxygen from the air around my head. I think I would be okay if I could sit up front with the pilot. "I think we were supposed to turn back there," I could say. Or, "Don't you think we better stop and and get directions?" They wouldn't have to pay the slightest attention, but it would make me feel much better. Maybe I could have a dummy control panel to fiddle with. I would pay extra for my "special" seat, and if they don't institute something like it very soon, they are going to have to bring back unfettered cocktail service. Trust me, it would be easier on everyone's nerves to just bring me into the cockpit.

Filed under: fearloathing, domestic
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

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Al Pittman, April 11, 1940 - August 26, 2001

When the lesson begins,
I am six years old,
standing on the silty bottom of a lake in Maine
face to face with my father
who lowers his black beard into the water
and demonstrates how to leave earth behind.

Push off, he says, with a breast stroke.
His mouth breaches the surface
and he smiles, whiskers and teeth glistening
like a flash of trout leaping.

He is just within, and out of my reach:
thirty-six years old,
as I am now thirty-six.
We circle each other, like Pisces.

I remember thunderheads gathering
at the edge of the sky.
The water was cool and dark
like the river near our home
where he canoed and fished and where
I poured out by the fistful
the ash of his teeth and bones.
How it glinted as it fell
through my hands
rain falling
on a lake in Maine
my father
like God
moving over the face of the waters.

I believed in it,
and pushed off.

copyright kp 2006
all rights reserved
filed under: poetrywriting


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Monday, August 14, 2006

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Fumbling Toward the Escape Key
The washing machine, it will not drain.
The dishwasher is leaking.
The hot water heater also
is leaking.
The car battery is drained
our bank account.

...How do you reboot this thing?

domestic, angstwonder, money
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

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D-I-Y spells die.

Yesterday afternoon our washing machine got through agitating a load of kids clothes, and then, drunk on power, decided to agitate me by refusing to drain. In a family of five, a laundry malfunction is a major emergency, a domestic Chernobyl. Two loads a day is the minimum it takes to keep laundry from backing up and overflowing into the hallways. I twiddled the dial and pulled the knob and wiggled the basket, and then I told Patrick the situation.

"Holy shit," he said, before retreating to his office.

I gave him a few minutes, then followed him back there.

"I think it's clogged," I offered.

"Could be," he nodded, avoiding eye contact.

I felt he could use a prompt, so I asked, "What needs to happen for us to find out?"

"Uh, let me think about that."

"Sure, but could you think about it quickly?" This elicited an injured look.

I ignored it. This was no time for kid gloves, and I've poked through all the fingers on mine anyhow. My husband is a man of innumerable charms and gifts, but being quickly roused to action is not one of them. "Let me think about that" is usually a euphemism for "let me not think about that for as long as you can possibly be put off."

It's not that he is lazy or as they say around here, "no-count" (Okay, I can say it, but you can't). It's just that he and I are wired very differently. I am an extrovert, ENFP in Meyer-Briggs terminology. I think fast and out loud. I process verbally. My opinions develop on the scene, and are revised constantly. I'm like the 24 hour news cycle, complete with screen crawl.

He, on the other hand, is an introvert--INFP--and processes information more like an in-depth weekly on public television. You have to wait days to get his perspective on any given event, and it comes out carefully considered and fact-checked. I think his brain has four stomachs.

Becoming educated about these differences has helped us navigate through many a minefield of potential misunderstanding. He has learned that the words "talk" and "later" uttered in the same sentence will cause me to chew my own leg off. I have learned that the deer-in-the-headlights stare I get in response to "Hey, let's do this..." is not necessarily an out-of-hand rejection. Sometimes, if I stand back and give him a little air, he will come around on his own. Ocassionally, I have to bring out the smelling salts.

In this instance, time was not on our side. The laundry clock was ticking. Towels were being used, clothes worn. I needed a specific commitment. I extracted a promise of "first thing in the morning". Morning came, and with it, low groans and complaints of a bad back. Pre-emptively, I devised a scheme of taking off for the laundromat all day and leaving him home with the kids, but I didn't get a chance to enact it. Late morning, I was directed to clear off the top of the appliances and bail out the wash water so he could examine the patient. Having done so, and impatient with waiting, I went ahead and pulled the washer and dryer out from the wall. I believe Patrick wandered in at this point, but I shooed him back out so I could vacuum the accumulated crud. By that time, mania was setting in. I was feeling resourceful and infinitely superior to my aged and invalid spouse. I sized up the hose and pipe attachments on the back of the washer. How hard could this be? I googled "washing machine clogged drain". Piece of cake.

Patrick, by now standing at the ready, was demoted to fetcher of pliers and towels. "Are you sure you don't want me to do that?" he'd offer periodically, looking amused.

"Not on your life." By my reckoning, I was sitting on a veritable goldmine of spousal guilt. Having missed his moment as appliance repairman, my husband would surely be driven to overcompensate in all other matters of household maintenance. His very manhood would be at stake.

Apparently not. "I find this whole pioneer woman thing incredibly sexy, you know," he said, leering, as I squatted in the corner with my skirt hitched up and rubber gloves on. (I have been teased about this before by my girlfriends, although I fail to see what is so damn survivalist about boiling up some overripe berries with sugar for Sunday morning at the's just Jam, for godssake.)

I could see that my plan was now backfiring. I was dangerously close to becoming not only the appliance repairman, but the changer of lightbulbs and trash-transporter. A hasty retreat into helpless femininity was in order.

"Here," I said, handing over the pliers. "I can't unscrew the hose. It's too hard for me." Patrick looked skeptical. I batted my eyelashes. Then pouted. "You should be doing this anyway."

"Why?" he asked. "Don't you feel proud of yourself tackling this? Doesn't it make you feel capable? Like I feel when you leave me alone to take care of the kids for a weekend?"

Well, he had a point there. But I wasn't about to give it to him. And at the end of the day, the washing machine had us both beat. After disconnecting and flushing and reconnecting every hose, the damn thing still won't drain. At least we are satisfied it is out of pure rebelliousness and not indigestion. Undoubtedly it is being passive-aggressive about something.

And it is most certainly an introvert.

filed under: domestic, marriage
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

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To market, to market

this is an audio post - click to play

The audio is of an adorable ragamuffin who was sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk downtown, singing Irish and English folktunes, rocking back and forth with his eyes closed. He looked like a junkie or a refugee from the Potato Famine. Naturally, I was smitten, and snuck this recording with my cell phone.

This morning I made my first visit all year to the downtown farmer's market. I felt very cosmopolitan, ambling among the vegetable stalls and buskers, smelling peaches and melons and chitchatting with a concertina player from the U.K. When I first moved here, the downtown--like many American cities in the eighties and nineties--was completely vacant after 5 p.m. on Friday. I pined for a place to get a decent cup of coffee or fresh herbs or a chocolate croissant and sit and watch the people pass by on Saturday mornings. In theory, anyway. In actuality, it wouldn't have done me any good, as my coffee-drinking and people-watching was mostly happening in pancake joints at four in the morning, after my shift at the bar ended and the after-hours club had closed down. But in those early days, I was still trying to persuade Patrick that we should move on to Austin or some other more fashionable place and my inability to purchase bunches of fresh chevril at eight in the morning--should I need to--was a key point in my case.

The farmer's market, and the whole downtown revitalization program that incubated it, were just fledgling at the time. Now in its tenth anniversary year, I have not patronized it nearly as much I as I'd like. After I retired from the club scene, the children started coming, and while I was now up early enough to get the coffee and crossaint, I no longer had the free hands to do so.

Before you have children, you think you know exactly what kind of parent you are going to be. Then you have them, and you realize that you didn't allow for the fact that they were going to be small humans, not cool accessories. I pictured myself as the kind of hipmama who would take her kids everywhere. So I didn't get to backpack across Europe in my twenties. No problem. I'd just go with the kids. So we didn't make it back to Mexico in the timeframe we'd promised. We'll go back with our kids. So we don't have any family members within two thousand miles who can babysit for us. Where ever we need to go, we'll take the kids.

If I knew how to spell WA-HA-HA-HA! and the sound that a person makes with warmed-over Folgers coffee coming out of their nose, I'd insert it here.

The truth is, I don't even like to go to the grocery store with my kids. What on earth made me think we'd be up for Eurorail?

As my friend Sarah says, when the children outnumber the parents, you've got to weigh the schlepp factor against the merit of being at any given destination. More often than not, that calculation comes out to "Nah."

And so I haven't gotten to market more than a couple of times a season, and I didn't buy bunches of fresh herbs today because it is against my children's religion to eat chlorophyll; nor did I eat a croissant, because that would lead to a starch-and-sugar binge that would result in me living on the sidewalk outside the bakery stall, inhaling pastries from a paper sack. But I did make it there and back with all three children, one of whom--my lovely Prufrock--dared to eat a peach. We came home with zinnias and watermelon, and while it may have been a mere six miles round-trip, but we all felt like we'd been somewhere. Who knows, maybe next time we'll even ride the trolley, as practice for when we take Eurorail.

When everyone is over eighteen, appreciates chevril, and can carry their own backpack, that is.

filed under: culture, kids, goodtimes
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

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I'm With the Band

Went with a girlfriend and our six kids to the lake today. Note the cascade of inflatables spilling out of my van onto the sizzling asphalt parking lot. At that point, we had been parked on said asphalt for 25 minutes and were still inflating, unloading, sunscreening, and schlepping passengers and equipment. Next note the contents of my beachbag, not one, but two magazines for my reading pleasure. Just in case I got all the way through the first and was stuck for something to do. Now, note the foul yellow beastie smugly entrenched between me, my beachbag and any lingering illusion of leisure time I might blithely cling to.

More and more these days, I feel like a roadie for Motley Crue. For starters, there's the sheer physical exertion: the endless lifting, hauling, setting up and tearing down. "Put it over here, no, over there, there, THERE!" Then there is the ass-wiping, the puking, the tantrums, the trashing of rooms. There is the procurement of playmates. And the ridiculous demands about food.

As I imagine it goes with roadies, the job description sounds much more glamorous than it is. "But you get to hang with the band, dude!" Or as my husband would say (if he did not value his life), "What do you mean, you're exhausted?? You were lying around the beach all day!"

Okay, even on the worst days, it still beats working in a straight job. There are nights when the lights go down, and I stand in the boys' bedroom doorway with as much awe and gratitude as any starstruck stagehand ever felt standing in the wings.

But its no day at the beach.

filed under: kids, goodtimes
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