First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Creepy Halloween Post. I promise.


The following is something I whipped up in my cauldron for the All-Hallows Eve celebration.  A  few creepy, crawly, Halloween verses to get things off to s spooky start, ya pagan bastards:

Waiting

He’s a creepy, crabby, craggy old man
Got rings on his fingers, a tattoo on his hand.
He’s got spiders astride him, in his hair, on his clothes
Which are dingy and dirty, threadbare old robes.

He eats all he eats with his mouth open wide,
Unspeakable rottenness churning inside.
The sludge tumbles out in great glops from his maw
And the stink would leave dung beetles choking in awe.

His teeth are worn down, greasy, gray nubs
And his plump lips they squirm, like swollen pink grubs.
The voice, when it speaks, speaks in gurgles and creaks
It screeches and bubbles and the words seem to leak.

His eyes are corrupted, milky and white.
Still, this glutinous gaze cuts through the night.
The sights that he sees are the best and the worst.
He scoffs at your fortune, savors your hurt.

He’s come here for you; he’s been here forever.
As old as the stars, as rash as the weather.
Immutable, inconceivable, impossible, ordained,
Welcome him now like the wind welcomes rain.


P. S. The title is not solid.  I'm open to suggestions.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

It Is NOT time for that

During drop-off and pick-up for the Peanut the past week, there has been a particular subject that I've been able to pick out from the usual parental chit-chat ("He hates getting dressed . . . She bullies her brother . . . Me? Amyl nitrate, usually . . .").  

Disney.   

Who's siblings have been, who's going next, how many times, when's the best time of year, etc.

The past week a little boy from the Peanut's class--who we'll refer to as "Jack" because that's his first name--has been absent.  He's been at Disney World.  He's three years old and it's his first trip to the Enchanted Multinational Corporation.  His 6 year old sister made the Disney hat trick this time.

He came back to school today and we found out two things: He talked a lot about going back to school, and he seemed overwhelmed.

Color me surprised.  

It just seems, mmm, not savvy, to take a kid that young to Disney World and expect him to have a really good time.   

Also, to me it smacks a little of indoctrination.  Get'em started young so when they're eleven they can rat me out to the Disney Secret Police when they catch me laughing at Bugs Bunny.  

In the interest of full disclosure I have two admissions:  1.) I myself did go to Disney Land when I was seven.  We were living in santa Monica. The guy my mother was dating at the time, a Hebrew school teacher brimming with mustache and lustrous Jew-Fro, took us for the day.  I can't say exactly what I was thinking during the day, but it wasn't exclusively "wheeeee!  I'm at Disney!"  

There was also a good helping of, "Hey. You trying to bang my mommy there, Rabbi?"  Or words to that effect.

2.) I am dreading the day when it will be our turn to do the Diz.  I hope to hold it off as long as I can.  The only Disney related movie we've partially watched here is Finding Nemo. And that's only because the Peanut loves fish and Finding Nemo kicks ass. 

Otherwise the whole Princess motif really bugs me and The Peanut already thinks of herself in those terms, to some degree.

I think the best way for the kids to do Disney is to wait until they're in college.  Then they get their two best friends (three best if the third one is the one who has a car), a big bag of weed, gather up their Xmas/ leftover loan money, and drive.

I know we're most likely going to have to do the Diz eventually. And the Peanut does love her rides.  And I can't say that I don't sing a heartfelt version of "Part Of Your World" from The Little Mermaid.  

I'd just like to hold off long enough that, when the trip is over, and we're home safe and sound, and we've checked for listening devices, I can turn to the kids and say, "Ok, just so we're clear, any princess worth her salt can fight her own battles, Bugs Bunny is so much funnier it's not even a contest, Donald duck is a douche' bag, and here's the thing about gigantic media companies." 

Then again, maybe I'm just being an asshole.  Which is always a possibility.







Monday, October 18, 2010

The Festival of Blight


The Fall Festival at the Peanut’s school was this past Saturday. “Games, Prizes, Pumpkin Decorating, Face Painting, donuts and cider!” read the 10$ family ticket we had to purchase in advance.

First off, I had to get all dressed up to go to this thing.  By “dressed up,” I mean “wear pants.” It felt so good to take off that monkey suit when I got home.  I’m the guy who’ll run out to his car in his boxer shorts if it’s dark enough outside. 

The festival . . .

We leave the house and it is a brilliant fall day.  The white bright sunshine and biting autumn breeze have conspired to clean all the corners of the world.  Chasing out grime and shadows alike.  Leaving good spirits in their wake. 

Then we got to the festival.

They held it in the school’s quad.  Quad is being used loosely here.  Very loosely.  As in parking lot.

They had a choose-your-own pumpkin area.  There were 4 dozen or so small pumpkins resting on some sparsely scattered hay made dirty by the combination of the pumpkins, asphalt, and toddler hands. 

There was a table with popcorn, about 5 dozen plain donuts, and 4 gallons of “cider.” As the label put it:

 “Rudy’s! Apple cider drink.  There were apples near it!”

Eh, the cider was real-ish.  The popcorn was fake. 

We picked our pumpkins, grabbed a donut and a cup of cider-aide, and went inside for the face-painting, pumpkin decorating, and games. 

The classroom they set aside for this was decorated in the style of the neo-minimalist Apathetic movement. 

My daughter wanted a lion face from the face-painter. The face-painter was a fourth grader who couldn’t attempt to give my daughter a lion face because she had been instructed to not use too much face paint on any one person. 

She painted a crude butterfly on my daughter’s cheek and an even cruder elephant on the Pumpkin man.  Looked like a mouse with a hard-on. 

The games consisted of a raffle for a gift basket that was probably put together at a a Family Dollar ( Contents: a fall-themed, vinyl tablecloth, Ritzo’s peanut butter kupz, and creamed candy corn)  and a bean bag toss through a cardboard jack-o-lantern.  In that game, everyone won: a tiny container of playdoh and an amorphous silly-bandz. I think The Peanut won a Shmoo.

The decorating table for the pumpkins consisted of: 1) stickers and 2) markers that I’m positive were not washable and I suspect were toxic.  I’m not totally sure about the latter as I only ate one. 

That might be enough to make a lesser man ill, but I’m a fat drink of water. 

Just to show I’m not the only one griping, here are some quotes from other festival goers”

 “A sad little fall festival.”

--My Wife
“Two bit tinhorn bullshit.”

--Me


So . . . people are got their pre-schoolers up and out of the house by 9 on a Saturday in 46 degree weather with wind gusting at 40 mph to stand around in a parking lot near some dirty hay. 

It wouldn’t have taken much to make it a fun festival.  The high school has a pretty good art department (I know.  In this day and age.  That’s my city though.  A quilt of a scant few sunny bright ideas surrounded by dull brown dumbness.). Why not have a couple of art students come down and help each class make decorations? 

Or one to do the face-painting, at least?

Maybe for the Winter Carnival they’ll whip snowballs at the kids while we dig madly in an attempt to find 6 special prizes (individual strands of tinsel maybe?  Coal?) hidden in the snow.

Maybe I'll volunteer to make decorations.  I do have mad construction paper skillz . . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hasta Maine-ana


I went to the lake to say goodbye.

The autumn breeze cleaned my lungs.  Dragged playful fingers over the lake’s surface, rippling the water.

The sun had begun the decent that would soon hide it behind the foothills along the Sebago.  It painted a gold streak from one side to the other.  It hurt my eyes to look, but I had to. 

A single sailboat rode across the sunbeam, the illumination making its white sail translucent. 

The fall foliage was exploding fireworks in the background

I mean, are you shitting me?  You cannot make this stuff up.

Beautiful. Ridiculous.  Nature is so cliché.  

Thank goodness.


We went to Maine to visit the amazing, hilarious, and beloved Aunties.  They always exceed the hype we lay on the kids leading up to the trip.  They rock.  

We also went to the Fryeburg Fair.  There were cows and rides and fair foods and all manner of fair-y goodness.  There were fat people engaging in unseemly acts of self-indulgence.  I sadly shook my head at them but they couldn't see it behind the two story double-scoop waffle cone and roof shingle sized slice of sicilian pizza I was eating.  Poor fools.

While there the Peanut made two requests.   After visiting the steers: "I wish I could have a cow like that."

After riding a kiddie ride that consisted of little metallic cars:  " I wish I had a car like that."

That's when I told her to get a job.

Had a great time.  Glad to be home.  

HM


Monday, October 4, 2010

Jew . . . ish 2: Moses Never Sleeps/

For those interested, read part one here:

Now comes the other side of the coin.

In the midst of this religious uncertainty, as I am striving discover a side of myself that was, up until now, explored in large part through the ingestion of latkes (so crispy) and the freedom to make Jew jokes while condemning virtual strangers as anti-Semites, I also became godfather to my niece. 

I had to go from Judaism to Christianity faster than Mel Gibson’s agent. (Jew jibe and Anti-Semite slam all in one.  Thank you)

I was a little unsure of how that was going to turn out too.

We got to the temple church.

The pastor greeted us upon entering. He was youngish and White and southern and silver-haired and friendly like a politician.

The church was more of a chapel/office/classroom/religious compound (nervous chuckle). The building had an up-to-date elementary school vibe. The chaple was blond wood beams and pews, polished wood cross, big windows letting in lots of natural light, colorful cloth banners, almost like quilts (Jesus Quilts. Patent Pending). There were large flat screen tv’s showing the words to the prayers and hymns.  It was all very Fellowship of the Sun.

The service mostly went off without a hitch.  It was done lovingly and no vampires were exploded.  My favorite part was when the Peanut Man got swept up in one of the hymns. “Paaays Jeeezis!”  He bellowed as the rapture overtook him.  Dude loves to sing.

 So far, the best part of being the godfather is that, with the exception of the parents, I get to take the baby from anyone whenever I want. God says they have to give her up.  I march over to whoever is holding her, “Give me the child.”  I command.  If they refuse, I up the anti. 

“The Power Of Christ compels you!”  I roar as my eyes glow, alight with my new godfather superpowers.  You can do that.  It’s totally in the bible. Or maybe the Constitution.

Either way, people are usually startled enough that it works.

He second best part is that I do a more than passable Brando imitation.  Most annoying godfather ever.

It’s pretty cool.

*From part one:  We got a call from the president of the temple.  She told us that she hated hearing we couldn’t come because of money and that there was a misunderstanding because the family service was supposed to be free anyway. 

She invited us to a Tot Shabbat (yes) service. For Sukkot.  Sukkot is the harvest holiday and it’s pretty kid friendly.  Tot Shabbat was . . .ok.  The person who usually ran it wasn’t there, so we’ll have to give them a second chance.  Everyone was pretty nice and we got to go outside and hangout in the Sukkah.  The Sukkah is a temporary hut that we are supposed to build and then we’re traditionally supposed to eat all our meals in it for the whole week of Sukkot.  Jews know how to party.  



Friday, October 1, 2010

Jew . . .ish


We’re looking for a religion.  There, I said it now.  It’s out there.
We’re doing it so the kids have a religious identity.  And a cultural one.  And, when they reach teen hood, something to rebel against other than their parents.  Sic’em on God. 

We’re looking for a religion, and we’ve decided to look in the direction of Judaism. I think we have to face toward New York.

I’m Jewish.  Via genetics/ Jewish law.  My mother is Jewish so I’m Jewish.   My wife grew up Methodist and went to Catholic High School and then minored in religious studies.  Studied her way right out of a faith.  Now though, she’s rethinking things.  She may be ready to accept Jesus Christ into her heart as a nice Jewish boy.  Who wouldn’t?

God and I don’t hang out either, as a rule.  Different social circles.  I don’t believe in him, he doesn’t believe in me, and we’re comfortable with that.

I’d like to note here, I’m not a strident, angry atheist.  I’ve made peace with my lack of faith.  I don’t want to demean religion. There is nothing worse than a proselytizing atheist.

 “You must not believe or nothing will happen to you!”   Settle down, heathen. 

And, I’m open to the possibility of faith.  It could happen.   I’m not open in a  “so I went to a psychic and she told me I recently underwent an important change and I was like OMG you’re totally right, I just got these pants!” way.  But I’m open.

Like if Moses suddenly showed up on a tortilla, I might believe.  Probably not though, since he didn’t even eat Mexican food.  “Oy, with the spicy,” he used to say.

I joke because the Jews have always been funny.  That’s why God chose us.

I’m also pretty uncomfortable with the subject.  I have never before had to really face up to my lack of religious training or knowledge about my own culture. My formal religious training consists of one month of Hebrew school when I was 7.  My mother was dating the teacher.

 Most of what I know about Judaism, I learned on the streets. Late night games of spin the dreidel in the back of all night delis with tough looking boys named Schlomo and even tougher girls named Sylvia. 

I’m finding some aspects of the Jewish faith fascinating.  Yom Kippur is our day of atonement.  We fast and pray and ask for forgiveness for the year.  The neat thing is, while you’re asking for forgiveness and promising to try harder in the coming year, you’re supposed to be asking the same thing of God.  Imagine that. 

“So . . . sorry about the sloth, drinking, and internet porn this year there God.  I’ll do better, I promise.  But while we’re at it, let’s talk about what you need to work on. Specifically: Everything else bad in the entire universe.  Those who live in glass houses . . .” God’s way into solar energy.  Of course.

(Open dialogue with God.  And so begat the Jewish Lawyer Paradigm.)

It’s a big leap, especially for my wife.  Converting to Judaism means months of classes and rituals and examinations. 

If we’re going to do this we need to do it right.  Shop around.  Take a few temples for a spin.

That part has been a little bumpy.

For Rosh Hashanah, we were invited to a temple about ten minutes away. It was the Pumpkin man’s first time in a yarmulke and he looked handsome.  I wore the traditional Schettleverth.  What’s a Schettleverth?  About 2 dollars.  Zing (to my knowledge, there is no such thing).

We went to temple.  This particular temple, not our scene.  The temple was 2/3 full—tops-- on one of the holiest of holy days in all Jewdom.  And that 2/3 consisted mostly of people who remember the feeling of wet sand against the bottoms of their feet from when they crossed the Red Sea.  Much more Jackie Mason than John Stewart. 

My daughter hated temple.  Hated it.  Why?  No yarmulke for her. As she put it, she couldn’t “wear a fancy hat like daddy and the Pumpkin man.”

She went on to say that she “hated going into temple naked.”

Who can blame her?

The Pumpkin man spent the entire time we were there yelling “Wha’ Dat?  Who’dat?  Wha’dat sound?”  Like a Cajun fire alarm. 

Then Yom Kippur came.  I fasted.  I reflected.  We did not go to temple.  We looked for one.  Found a website for one nearby that promised a short family service for families with young kids. 

Seats had to be reserved because it’s the high holidays and popular temples get banged out pretty quick for these shows.  The seats cost 95$ per for the adults.*  So, we didn’t go.  If we’re gonna spend 95$ for tickets, it better be because a terrific revival of West Side Story is in town. 

That’s a temple with which we’re familiar.

To Be Continued . . . 

HM

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