Thursday, January 31, 2008

Racing on the Changing Course of Time


It's a fracturous race, this life we live. We are motocross riders, hitting jumps and flying, landing in the mudholes and powering through to the next bump in the dirt road. We lurch towards the finish line, clutching all our prized belongings, then we die and possesions fall to the ground like useless, wasted leaves.

I remember moving into our rental house, full of panic and fear, tears streaming down my face, damaged son and compassionate daughter safely in tow, but for how long? -and we weren't putting up walls-we wear tearing them down. Our home would be the house of love and serenity. And we made it so, Number one.

The work was hard, the margin slim, the credit debt impossible to resolve, counting pennies for milk and bread, eating tuna helper night after night. We discovered that adding Boca vegetarian ground soy to the hamburger helper meant less grease and same taste. The veggie son needed to be fed too. We didn't mind it at all.

Time heals all wounds, but it also deadens our resolve. We are growing and changing with time. A new person, Water Bunny, enters the serenity house with dynamic changes. My son, with the constant help of his sister, heals some wounds, as much as time and his deep-seated feelings of betrayal will allow. More money trickles in and the finances improve enough to breathe slightly easier.

My son (TD013) moves out and a new team takes over, and we race now as R3 (R-cubed)- the two girls and I have names that start with an R. We race and change positions while the weather improves, our lives improve, but weather can change and the course can get muddy as hell. I still can't see the finish line, perhaps I don't want to, but I can feel it.

TD013 falls in love. She is a lot like him, twin racers- damaged, healing, scrappy tag-teamers. They'll need to stick together on this race, overcome their singular dysfunctions, rely less on others to stay on the course. Which way? he asks, then goes his own way. We're lost, she says and we say turn right, avoid the hole, take the ramp and fly. then dejectively watch as they turn the opposite way. Own the course we say, or it will own you. Own the course...

I don't know where I am going with this. I feel like somehow I am missing something, something real and tangible. I thought I was there, but now I am here and it could be just before the bump and I will soon be flying or it is just after the flight and I am landing in the mudhole.

The race goes on, the work piles up and the pressure increases. The rental house has been tarnished, we learn that walls are needed to keep out the crazies, the demented dropouts who don't respect our house, who have abandoned a race they can not win. They try to knock us off our bikes- if only for a second, if only to make a point. Life is fractuous, and the race never changes, even though our time here does. Own the course...

Tonight, all I want to do is daydream about buying a portable music recorder and driving from one open mike to another, playing and recording my old-fashioned music and then, releasing an Open Mic -live CD. Tonight, I want to ride the bike slower, on pavement straight and smooth.

I must be going crazy, all covered in bruises and mud yet still wanting to ride- no longer caring about winning, just wanting to finish the race.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The First Honors Mountain

We approach the mountain. My eyes narrow, squinting into the morning sun. There is snow all around. I adjust my gear and my aging body: unbuff, bloated, aching shoulder, chronic cough, overweight, tender toe

Sweetie Angel stands at my side, young and ready, determined to conquer. She adjusts her gear and her youthful figure: unbroken, slender yet fierce, chronic achiever, jazzed, huge smile

The deal - she makes first honors, she receives one free ski day in the Catskills, one day per each semester of first honors. She has responded with 8 straight semesters of first honors and I am past due with payment. I owe her 7 days.

This is going to hurt.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Restaurant Nicknames

Sweetie Angel started it. She had a terrible meal at Cracker Barrel. As we were leaving, she said, "This isn't Cracker Barrel, it's Crapper Barrel." The name stuck. Now every time we drive down the Interstate and she sees a sign for Cracker Barrel, she says, "Look Dad, there is a Crapper Barrel 15 miles ahead." Makes you want to stop and use the facilities.

Then we had one of the poorest quality dinners ever and it included the worst service ever (what a gift, huh?) at T.G.I.F. With an indignant look on her face, Sweetie Angel declared, "You know what TGIF stands for? Totally Gross Inedible Food!"

One afternoon, we were discussing how Friendlys used to have great sundaes, but now all you get are these mini-scoops of ice cream. I mentioned that the Chocolate scoops looked more like little balls of poop- and Friendlys soon became Pooplies.

And more chain restaurants earned new restaurant names so we decided that we should post our list for all to enjoy. Here it goes:

Ruby Tuesdays - Ruby Ewwwwwsdays

Burger King - Burger Thing

Texas Roadhouse - Texas Roadkill

Perkins - Pukins

Applebees - Crapplebees

Chilis - Smellies

Don Pablos - Don Pukos

Jack Creek Steakhouse - Jackchit Pukehouse

Wendys - Lil Red's Squaremeat

McDonalds - McRonalds's Fat Farm

IHOP - I-SNOT

Waffle House - Waffle Arse

Pizza Hut - Pizza Slut

Outback - Spoutcrack

T.G.I.F. - Totally Gross Inedible Food

Cracker Barrel - Crapper Barrel

Bob Evans - Hog's Heaven

Friendlys - Pooplies

Arbys - Slarbies (we also like to call it Barfies)

KFC - Krunchy Fried Cats

Dairy Queen - Hairy Queen

Subway - Scumway

In'nOut Burgers - In'nOut urge

Dominos - Vomitnose

Quizznos - Quizzblows

Hardees - Hardlys

Pappa John's - You shouldn't poke fun at your father. Yeah, I'm talkin' to you.

Of course, we haven't restricted ourselves to food chains. A few years ago, the W blew out on the Walmart sign. We've been calling it Almart ever since.

There is a Chinese restaurant near us with the name Wah Shing. We don't think the food is very good. The place is a little rundown. Some folks in our neighborhood refer to it as Wah Shing Your Arse. The name has a certain appeal to it even if the restaurant doesn't.

We had a dog once who would eat the kitty litter-covered excrement out of the litter box. We called it Kittified Crunchies. Or Kitty Krunchies. Or our favorite nickname, Krunchy Kitten Krap. We couldn't keep that dog's face our of the box. Probably what killed him too. Just like we love all that delicious fast food we eat month after month, year after year. Probably kill us too.

There you have it. Any moment we expect the legions of attorneys who defend the fast food conglomerates to contact us and demand we remove this post. And we will, right after we enjoy a few Rooburgers from the Fat Farm and some Slarby fries.

We know other people make up names too. What about you? Have you got a few restaurant nicknames to share?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Where is Our Atonement?

On Saturday, we did the double feature. First we enjoyed the action comedy romp National Treasure, then we followed it with Atonement. We were stunned. Atonement was not just a great movie, it is THE great movie. This type of experience comes along once every 10 years and reminds us of our own humanity, the frailty of our existence, the blessings we have and how quickly and easily they can be taken away from us. Usually at the end of a good movie, some folks applaud, but at the end of this thoughtful masterpiece, there was only silence. Quiet crowd silence.

Atonement has stayed with me since then. The images, camera angles, acting, pacing, story, rumbling through my head, and challenging my heart. My mind turns to Iraq and our soldiers there and Atonement whispers to me. They are doing a job, fulfilling a mission that no one would ever want. They are there because we can be an awfully stupid country. They are there because we believe what our leaders tell us to believe. We wouldn't want to appear unpatriotic, especially in the shadows of 9/11. We all know the war in Iraq is wrong but we've screwed that country and hurt those people so badly that we need to stay and try to atone for our terrible mistake.

I watch the MSNBC report on Britney Spears' non-attempt to attend her custody Hearing, and Atonement rings like a bell in the old tower. Those 300 reporters, photographers, and paparazzi need to be somewhere else. She will never be able to seek treatment while followed by a large pack of flash-popping bulbs attached to hungry, money-grubbing wolves. We need to turn our collective backs on her everyday life- for her kids sake, we need to do this. There will be atonement for our poor, media -driven assumptions about her mental state. I feel the same sadness, like atonement, like watching a train wreck in awfully slow motion.

We need to move ourselves to a better place than this. We need to leave this girl and her family alone. Justin Timberlake placed it in proper perspective when, after leaving a restaurant, he said to the horde of paparazzi surrounding him, "Hey, I just want to get to my car."

I watch the Presidential race turn into a clash of minorities, gender versus color. Since when did it matter? Why should it matter? We are a better people than this. If our leading candidates are willing to speak to the lowest common denominator, then we need to vote for someone else.
If race/gender has a bearing on this election, it will be because the candidates and the publicly divisive media machine has placed it there. This is their deck of cards and the ones they are choosing to play is to our detriment. One day, there will be atonement for this. Our candidates must elevate the debate to the issues alone, and leave our color and gender out of the election.

In our own hometown, our local pizza parlor has been operated for many years by a husband and wife from Bulgaria. When they emigrated, in the early 1990's. Bulgaria was a repressive state. They both applied for political asylum. They filled out the paperwork, waited and waited, for years upon years, for our government to make a decision. In the meantime, they built a popular business, served good food, treated everyone with equal respect, got driver's licenses, and began raising a family. They bought a home. They settled into a good life in a great country- they embraced freedom and the culture of America.

Last week, the INS agents arrested his wife, and she now sits in a jail waiting deportation. It seems that Bulgaria has settled down in the past sixteen years and my friend's reason for seeking political asylum is no longer valid. Go home, says the United States to these fine citizens of our community. Go back to your own country. Never mind that the administration of our immigration law is beyond incompetent- after all, behind every government desk is a citizen of the United States, so that should amount for something, right? Bullshit. We screwed up and we should make it right. This is government at its worst- repressive and abusive to the extreme-ruthless bureaucrats - arresting people on assumptions and tossing them out or even worse, tossing them into jails in foreign lands, torturing them, and placing a label on their heads that classifies us as well - we are enemy combatants of justice and the rule of law. We are at odds with ourselves, with the values that made this country great.

We are in a fine mess, our assumptions about others, our inability to leave people alone, and our incompetence leads to the abuse of decent people trying to live a decent life. We don't need change, we need vision to inspire us to change ourselves and our perception of the world around us. We need to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. We need atonement for what we have done to ourselves, our neighbors, our government, and our world.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Here is Rose at the London Bridge

Waterbunny and I were sitting at a restaurant last week. During our dinner, I asked her to point out any couple she wanted and I would write a fictional story about their lives. Waterbunny pointed to a cute, elderly couple who were sitting nearby. They ate in perfect complimentary silence, a testament to their long and loving relationship, or so it appeared to us.

And so began the story of George and Rose....

A good friend and loyal reader from Diffle County (shown above) pointed out that she remembered these type of writing exercises from High School. She suggested a similar writing exercise. Go to a cemetery and choose two names from different headstones and write a fictional story that intertwines the lives of both names. Sounds like fun. In my high school days, our teachers had us write like Hawthorne and Thoreau. It was impossible to be more creative than the classic masters, and so our writings would pale by comparison- pale isn't even a good descriptive term for differences that were galaxies apart. Imagine pimply faced kids trying to mimic Emerson and Yates. Heck, even Mark Twain kicked us in our breeches. You try to write a short story that employs all the descriptive elements of Melville. Good luck and God speed to ya.

Back to sweet George and Rose- I think I may have to spice up their lives or I may become bored with them. Germans are hard to make fun and flamboyant- they are so mach schnellish.

I may have to throw a few gunshots and crocodiles into the mix.

Speaking of crocodiles, Waterbunny and I made a double-or-nothing bet. I already owe her 2 million dollars. I was discussing the history of the old London bridge to Sweetie Angel when Waterbunny poked her bunny nose in and mentioned that the London bridge was now in Arizona. Well, the old London bridge was destroyed after a new London bridge was built 100 yards upstream. The new London bridge was replaced later by a newer London bridge. I bet her the old London bridge was not in Arizona. Except I didn't say "old" London bridge and I did mention the Brooklyn bridge which muddied the water under our bridge bet.

After proving the new London bridge is definately in Arizona, Waterbunny demanded I pay her 4 million dollars, which I currently do not have in my possession. I say the bet is a technical tie. She says I lost. She says I am sly fox. I remind her I am Rooster, not fox. She leaves the room muttering something about the quality of my character. Naturally, I am offended.

And so already we are having a Happy New Year! Hope you are too.


Postscript: I am constantly amazed at the diversity of photographs one can find on the internet. They couldn't find a live model? If the model is fake, is the bridge also fake? It makes sense, doesn't it? Note to CM - ha ha, that really isn't you shown above.

Hello There You