Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Dad

Yes, a day or two, or three, late. But, sometimes you have to just go with what works and today, I can write. Yesterday, I had my head in the oven.

So, here's our day. I'm making a few assumptions- like money is no object and we have access to that cool private plane I used to fly on which is probably grounded due to the economy.

NEVERTHELESS, we rock for your birthday in the following ways:

  • Breakfast at Das Essenhaus. You'll probably drink some coffee and may have some sausage gravy. I'll have some coffee too. Adam and Matthew will have pancakes. Matthew will eat 52 pancakes and then barf in the parking lot. Mom will be pretty grossed out.

  • Because we're suspending space and time, after breakfast we'll hop in the kayaks and zip down to the bridge and back. The sun will be shining and it will be warm, like it was a couple of years ago at Thanksgiving. We're just going to pretend it's not January!

  • We'll putter around then change clothes and head for the lake. We'll put the Thistle in the water without any hollering. Matthew won't mess anything up and we'll win all the races by huge margins. Dick Otter will be eating our wake. I'm pretty sure we'll win a few trophies.

  • We'll stop by a brew pub for a few brewskies and some snacks. But, we can't stay long because we have to get home for german chocolate cake and presents.

  • We'll still make you grill your own dinner because you're good at it. We'll have a beer while we're waiting. It's always happy hour somewhere.

  • After cake and singing and pretending the years aren't really passing, we'll watch some basketball.

A great day indeed. I hope it was happy and sorry this is a few days late! Love you lots, always and forever. A gal couldn't ask for a better Dad.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Too Many Babies

I read with interest, earlier this week, the articles about the new octuplets born in LA. Being the mom of twins and a rather rotten prenatal incubator, I cringed. I could barely hold onto 9 pounds and 1 ounce of baby much less 17 or more. It was that last ounce that drove us over the edge.

So here are my boys, Baby A and Baby B. They were about 7 in this picture and much more than 9 pounds. (I am too lazy to scan an earlier picture. We do have a priceless hospital picture with Baby A flipping off the photographer. A nifty harbinger when a kid at 34 weeks gestation already has a 'tude.)

Anyway, I don't know what it would take to get 8 babies to cook long enough. For A&P I did all the right things (ate lots of peanut butter, shrimp, Fruit Loops, and oatmeal, yes all at once) but still ended up languishing on my left side for 5 weeks and delivering 8 weeks early. The worst part was that the TV was on the right side of the room. Bonus.

Tim would pack a cooler full of my favorite snacks (sandwiches- lots of them) every morning, bring me the paper, wish me luck for the next 10 hours and shuttle off to work. I lounged in my bed like a three toed sloth and tried to imagine what on earth life would be like with two infants, never imagining someone could saddle themselves with eight infants without a childcare license.

Babies are cute. Babies barf on the cat. Babies drain your bank account. Babies melt your insides because you just love them so much you might bust. Babies keep you from sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time, for the LOVE OF GOD! Babies eat wallpaper and scale dressers and ask for cash and cell phones and talk about girls and go on scary camping trips when it's 15 degrees and ask you to bail them out of jail. (That last one is me looking ahead)

These darlings, arriving 8 weeks early at a mere 3 pounds 15 ounces and 5 pounds 2 ounces turn 12 next week. Some people count diapers, I should have started counting the liquor and I'm thinking that the tough stuff is just around the corner.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Want Candy

I love candy. Once when I was a little kid, I ate the lavender sachet, smelly things in my dresser drawers because I was so desperate for candy.

Unfortunately, not much has changed. I have, however, curtailed the eating of toxic substances.

I know that candy will make me fat and rot my teeth. I know that it does weird things to my blood sugar after I speed eat an entire bag of conversation hearts. Alas, I have little control except to stock up on carrots and celery and walk right on by the candy display at the grocery store even though the peach rings and gummy worms are screaming "BUY ME! EAT ME!"

Gummy bears are a particular favorite- especially when I fly. It gets me through take off without screaming "Are you sure we're not crashing???" and clinging to my seat mate.

As further evidence of my addiction here is the conversation with myself every afternoon at work...

Me as Candy Hound: Hey, it's 3:00 and this project is driving me crazy. There's candy in my assistant's office. There's candy in the vending machine.

Normal Me: No, don't do this. Your teeth will rot and you can't have dessert at dinner if you eat this now. Just send one more email and yell at one more person and this will pass. Your pants won't fit if you keep doing this.

Me as Candy Hound: You can't stop me. I'm getting up and walking out the door, down the hall and I'm going right to that vending machine and I'm buying M&M's. I'm going to eat half of them on the way back. (Insert maniacal laughter here)

Normal Me: HA! No, you won't! You left all your change in the car to stop yourself from doing this in the middle of the afternoon. And, there isn't any more sweet stuff in your assistant's office because you ate it all at 8:30 this morning, you weakling!

Me as Candy Hound: You Witch! You Harpy! (grabs purse and dumps it upside down looking for change) ARGH! (Digging through desk) There must be a lint encrusted DumDum in here somewhere!

*Phone rings*

You probably don't want to be the one calling me at 3:05.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hello from the BlogHouse

Who knew that the Obama administration would not only bring an end to top secret prisons, night drops of discarded prisoners onto lonely Lithuanian mountain tops, wacky language modifications and late night comedic fodder and instead would usher in a daily blog post? I did note with some amusement that the blog got off to a strong start early in the week and so far today, nary a word. Perhaps the White House is finding what many bloggers do- lots of early excitement followed by the inevitable let down of obligation until the blogging groove settles in. Surely with the move to the big house and eight years of administrative unraveling there's not much time left over for thought-provoking presidential posting.

To help them out, below please find my list of blog topics:
  • The Brother band most beloved by the pre-teen presidential daughters- Naked or Jonas
  • The search for the bathroom key
  • How to bust open the secret compartment of the Resolute desk in 20 seconds or less
  • Presidential dining foibles- what is that third fork for anyway?
  • Inaugural Balls throughout history- how many is too many?
  • Icelandic diplomacy- do they warm up after vodka shots?
  • Pranks on Air Force One
  • Favorite calls to Bush asking stupid questions
  • Blue ties are for Presidents- must socks match the pants and other fashion rules for impressing the world
  • Oprah's on speed-dial but I can't get a seat on her favorite things show and other things that bother the White House about celebrities

I am raising my glass to a new administrative openness, freedom of speech and a restored retirement account balance. Given the gravity of the task, I guess I can wait a day or two for the posting.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Cans of Salmon

In my pantry, there are two cans of Alaskan Salmon from the Pennisula Processing and Smokehouse in Soldotna Alaska.

I cannot eat these two cans of salmon. I cannot bring myself to open these cans.

The cans were part of a gift of four cans of smoked Salmon sent to us for Christmas in 2007 by my Uncle Steve. Andrew has been asking to eat the fish with crackers, on a bagel or our favorite- with scrambled eggs, chives and cream cheese.

If I eat the salmon, it will be gone. Uncle Steve is gone. He died almost a year ago and I can't bring myself to open the last two cans.

It is cold here in Ohio. It's actually warmer in Alaska than it is here according to my Dad. He checks the weather station at Otto Lake not far from where Steve lived outside of Healy. Our sun is low in the sky today and the snow at dusk looks cold and blue. It is wispy snow, small wind whipped shards of ice blowing everywhere- under the door, across the pond, down the sidewalk. It's cold.

I have two cans of salmon. If I eat it with scrambled eggs, does it mean he's gone? It's just two cans of smoked fish.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Paint on the Wall

I do a lot of things backwards. I read magazines from back to front. I had twins and then figured out that identical twins are a statistical crap shoot (a story for another time).
I prefer to start every day with a cocktail (emphasis on prefer, not do so don't send me links to rehab agencies.)
I like to eat my dessert first.
Now, here is a story, all of which is true. Every last word of it. I couldn't make this up, even if I tried. I'm going to tell you this story backwards. Starting with this crazy wall at the end of the story.
This wall is in my basement and has been painstakingly and exhaustingly painted by me, and my three slaves, er, my lovely family. We painted the wall because we are adding a room in our basement.
We are re-doing the basement because A&P have an XBox in the family room. The XBox is driving me bananas. I refuse to live with a rock band, a souped up Camaro, some ninjas, Darth Vader, a fighter pilot or any combination thereof. The rock band when fully staffed by four unwashed 12 year old boys is nothing that needs to see the light of day. So, below stairs the band will go with the ninjas in tow.
A&P received the XBox for Christmas, but it was really delayed reward for mowing the lawn this fall. Mowing the lawn? A bribe? Why yes, A&P mowed the lawn because their father, my husband, had back surgery. Tim had lower back surgery in August after suffering all summer with a rotten nagging pain that turned out to be a nasty disc problem.
He injured his back lifting a toilet in A&P's bathroom. Lifting a toilet? Why yes, certainly a common weekend activity. He manhandled the toilet so that I could remove the wallpaper behind it and paint the bathroom before the contractor showed back up to finish the ceiling. A&P's bathroom needed a remodel because there was a hole in the ceiling. (OK, it could have just used a new ceiling, but as far as I'm concerned the universe was ordering me to remodel. But, I digress.)
The ceiling? Yes, only a few weeks before the injurious toilet raising, the ceiling had one very large, man sized hole in it. A hole not-so-mysteriously the same size and shape as Tim.
Yes, Tim and I had gone into the attic one Saturday morning to figure out why the ceiling in A&P's bathroom was starting to peel. Turns out the vent fan wasn't doing its job properly so we decided to fix it. Fix it we did! We celebrated with high-fives and then jinxed ourselves. But the attic has areas with no flooring. Perching on the joists is a bit perilous- especially in dress shoes because your wife dragged you up the attic stairs early one morning after telling you to hurry up and just grab any pair of shoes for what surely now sounds like an exercise in exceedingly bad judgment.
So, the hastily grabbed shoes carrying the grumbling husband slipped off the joist and he fell through the ceiling with his legs dangling into the sink room of A&P's bathroom. Thankfully he was hung up on the joist and in the bathroom because had he been only a few yards to the east, he would have fallen two stories into our front hall. Splat onto the rug. We have reached the beginning.
Shall we recap in reverse? Misbehaving vent fan leads to attic expedition resulting in foot slip and nasty fall through ceiling into now to be remodeled bathroom with toilet to be moved by the husband who while lifting it herniates L5-S1 requiring surgical repair thus preventing lawn maintenance now left to A&P who receive XBox as a reward which is too loud and obnoxious for other habitants to bear hence a basement room.
Back to the end of our story- I paint the wall. We're at the end, or maybe a coda? Or...I think this may lead to another bathroom remodel because the contractor has a nifty piece of recycled granite that would be perfect in the guest bath and....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Divine Revelations

Blogblock? Brainblock? Mindmelt? ThoughtTrough? I've been trying to think of something to type for three days.

I think my job is sucking the life right out of me.

So, desperate, I thought I'd turn to my neighborhood church sign for inspiration. It lectures me at least twice a day as I drive through our neighborhood.

The brethren of the assembly kindly remind me that I'm not:
  • giving enough
  • doing enough
  • thankful enough
  • or good enough at anything on my own.

The sign is a bit harsh. If it knows what it's talking about then, without inspiration from above, I'm as useful as a half crunched Styrofoam lunch container floating in the mud puddle of human existence. That's a rough way to be and quite frankly a bit judgmental for a sign.

So today, thanks to that bossy sign, I look above, beyond, out, and up for something to write about. Essentially this could be a post about nothing that turns into something by sheer will... or perhaps divine intervention...

When our kids were really young, Andrew woke up screaming in the middle of the night. Jarred into reality from my evening stupor, I groped my way into his room and hauled him off to the bathroom. He wouldn't stop crying. I scooped him up and sat on the floor trying to figure out if at age 4 I'd messed him up that badly already that his sleep was disturbed when he blurted out "I think Jesus was talking to me! He's really loud and I can't sleep when he's talking."

Hmmm. Call an ambulance? Grab the Bible? Leap up and speak in tongues? Call the minister? Handle some serpents? The kid is 4. Jesus wouldn't wake up a sleeping child, would He? Doesn't He know how hard it is to get the kid to sleep in the first place? I'd rather not be ticked off at Jesus.

My senses returned and I said, "So what did he say?"

"He keeps calling my name." That's weird. Anything else?

Apparently not as eventually, he fell asleep and that was that. A few weeks later at dinner Andrew brought up his late night visitor. "You know that Jesus talks to me." (This is when I decided that the kid needed to stop listening at church like every other kid and start eating fruit snacks, breaking crayons and practicing paper aircraft.) He went on, "You know that Peter and I used to be with Jesus."

Tim and I looked at each other with eyes that could only say "Do we need medical attention and psychotropic medications? For him? Us?"

"Really," I said, "how is that?"

"Oh, you know, me and Peter were in that Bible-book with Jesus and everything. We fished."

"Really. You realize that you and Peter were named AFTER the disciples, you're not actually the disciples?"

"Oh." Andrew said a bit dejectedly, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, quite sure."

"Please pass the ketchup." Gladly.

An inspirational sign, indeed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Imperfections of Brains

One of my favorite typographical errors is "Brain." I've seen it on correspondence occasionally when someone misspells "Brian." This error makes me laugh hysterically. I'd feel really special to get a letter addressed to "Dear Brain." I wonder if that's how zombies begin their missives?

Alas, without some legal expenses and explaining myself to my family, a psychiatrist and some clergy, I don't think I'll ever get a letter directed to me with "Dear Brain" on it. *Sigh*

Maybe if I was super-smart Bill Gates might send me a letter- something akin to the Nigerian price who's always trying so hard to get me to hold onto his money (Shhh, don't tell anyone that because it's a secret.) Now if Bill sent me a letter addressed "Dear Brain" offering me some cash, I might start thinking about helping him out.

Anyway, I do have a point. My brain is faulty. I have passed the faulty brain gene onto my unsuspecting offspring.

I think before they were conceived their souls floated out in the ether, following waves of Bach music while dancing on clouds, imagining what life would be like to be an Einstein or a Cheney (that guy has to be smart to have co-opted the office without GWB noticing). But WHAM. They came to me instead and I forget stuff all the time.

I can never remember my blood type, where I parked my car, where I left the phone, what's for dinner, why are these people wanting to be fed the stuff I can't remember to make, what happened the last 8 years, or why I can only get one leg into my jeans. The last part is a real mystery because Vodka is a low-fat food choice unless you add bacon grease.

Peter can't remember anything either and it's a curse- from me to him- but one that he somehow manages to use like a mental boomerang to whack me repeatedly in the right frontal lobe. His brain does engage every morning at 6:43 am- two minutes before the bus comes. He remembers all sorts of stuff- 4 dozen cookies, his George Washington report, the Trojan War diorama, the field trip to camp for a week and the $400 check he needs. This is surely an acquired skill because the stuff I forget, I rarely get back. I think he's really gifted to orchestrate his thoughts in one massive compendium of brain synapses at exactly 6:43 am EVERY DAY.

I blame the imperfections of his brain on his gene pool. Surely this makes him zombie proof?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oh No you Didn't

You, Mr (person on the phone whose name I cannot use lest I reveal more about myself in an open forum than is prudent), you did not just say (something that I cannot talk about here lest I reveal something that I really shouldn't say or repeat outside of the confines of my office).

You really said that didn't you? And you know what I have to do now? I have to use my very dignified, professional voice and demeanor to find the words to verbally pound you back into the Stone Ages. I have to very succinctly and directly tell you that if you ever say (something that I cannot talk about here) again or if you ever do (you know what you did Mr.) again, I may do something that I cannot reveal here, but that I would be smart enough to do in a way that would keep me from prosecution. (Or, there's always the federal prison system where a girl can make some nifty ponchos, but you Mr. are not worth it.)

Using my very best voice, I have to tell you (using only pleasantries that are appropriate for professional people in a professional environment), that if I were a cave person I would:
  • put out your cave fire
  • coat your feet with bear grease while you're sleeping
  • contaminate your water supply with squirrel toe nails and frog guts
  • burn your prehistoric squash seeds in my cave fire
  • hide your thong- or whatever those cave man clothes are called
  • unravel all of your cave rope
  • leave an open can of tuna in the back of your cave (OK, that's anachronistic but it would attract angry wildlife and make the cave smelly)
  • tell you that the next time the gods eat the sun your hair will fall out- all of it
  • forget to wake you up for the migration- whoops!
  • tell you that the coming Ice Age is just a little chill so there's no need to find a warmer thong
  • find you a sabre tooth tiger kitten for a pet- a gift from me to you- nice kitty!
  • help you score some extra wives from that super-friendly bronze age clan down river (did you know they call those things axes?)

You Mr. (name of person who must remain unspoken) should probably do what you're supposed to do and call back another time when you're ready to behave yourself. Now where did I leave that doll with all the pins?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Camp-down Let-out

Or is that Camp-out Let-down? The words seem to work either way.

Friday went like this:

  • Kids to school
  • Worry
  • Post to blog
  • Worry
  • Go to work
  • Worry
  • Try to work
  • Pace office like caged animal
  • Sit in meeting for 2 hours and nearly forget to worry while actually working
  • Husband calls
  • Commence two-times double parental worrying
  • Snow starts
  • Worry
  • Snows more
  • Worry more
  • Need ketchup packets- DARNIT!
  • Worry
  • Feed kids home from school- could be last warm meal for two days
  • Worry
  • Still snowing and we have to leave in 15 minutes
  • Phone rings
  • Crazy camp-out cancelled due to 14 inches of forecasted snow and unsafe driving
  • Overtaken by disbelief while staring at a week's worth of accumulated gear and two boys dressed up like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man
  • Flop on couch in relief
  • A&P back to XBox- I suggest camping on the deck? I am summarily rejected.
  • Phone rings- will reschedule! Maybe next weekend?
  • More worry, forecasted temperatures well below zero
  • Dodging bullet now feels like postponed execution
  • Snowed in on Saturday-whole world is cancelled
  • Car got stuck retreiving A&P from sledding hill

Disclaimer... the following is not a comment on my state of mind, physical fatigue (where is the freaking %^$&#* plow guy and why doesn't he return phone calls?), mental fatigue and an available bottle of vodka. It's just a drink. And it's all mine...

Whose idea was this anyway?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Camp Frozen Cojones

Their bags are packed. They're ready to go- and I didn't sleep a wink. It is 17 degrees here this morning.

Peter wore a short sleeve shirt to school today.

"I don't want to be warm, Mom. Duh, I'm practicing being cold."

For this excursion, appropriately named Camp Alaska, they have to pack everything they need and carry it in one trip (except the water thank GOODNESS because that is really heavy. Even heavier than the 400 wool socks I tried to jam in the backpacks and was thwarted. 5 pairs is apparently enough.) This includes their food and Peter is planning a hot dog extravaganza including buns that he is packing carefully at the top of his gear. My job today is to get him Ketchup packets from MacDonald's. He even has a plan to boil the packets along with the hotdogs in case they freeze. I suppose he could SLEEP with the ketchup packets. Andrew is planning a menu of oatmeal, Slim Jim and Ramen noodles.

Last night after work I ran into the little hardware store in town to pick up rope for tying tarps to trees or whatever it is that they will do. I walked in and barked, without realizing it,


The owner laughed at me and asked if the day had really been that bad.

So, when we go out for Thai food tonight, A&P will trudging through the snow and setting up their shelters in the dark and the cold. Shelters of tarps and clothes line and sticks and snow. If I wasn't married to a prosecutor I'd be concerned about someone charging me with abuse. If this is fun, why is that I keep the house at 68 degrees and pay the gas bill and the mortgage?

"Golly Mom," Peter said as he headed out to the bus a few minutes ago. "We'll totally survive." Yes, but with all of your digits?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Universe: According to Shane & Connie

I received an email from a friend today introducing me to her husband's blog, Duts, Duts and Gonuts. She has one too for her photography business. I've known these folks for a long time, but only recently reconnected. Who knew we shared the same blogosphere?

After I read Shane's story about his experiences in Iraq, coming home, his family and Connie, I couldn't think of anything to say that was more important than sharing this with you.

Going back to work this week has been tough on my writing. (For some reason I can only type profanity and its hard to type and balance the vodka on my lap.) I can't write about work, too salacious and too fraught with the peril of accidentally revealing something competitive. But this week, that's where my mind is occupied.

So while I slay some dragons, please enjoy Connie and Shane's blogs. Please be sure to read this posting by Shane. It's a beautiful thing in this great big wide universe of blogs.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Not My Homework!

I have a confession. I am not good about leaving my children unattended with their homework. I like to fuss over it and work at it until it's perfect and my boys could really care less that their essays are neatly paginated and processed for publication. Now there's this Egypt project. We have less than a month and my procrastinating progeny are not concerned. Not one bit.

Alas, what's an overachieving mother with underachieving children to do?

Stop doing these things, that's what. How simple that sounds. Do you know how hard it is to work full time and go to elementary school? This probably explains the lack of grade-schoolers holding down high powered careers. (Although, with some folks I wonder.) Anyway, I often tell people:

"I'm in 6th grade. I did quite well in 5th grade as it was not as tedious and time consuming as 4th grade. It's not that the 4th grade work was hard, there was just so much of it the weight of the worksheets hung on my back like a Spiderman backpack full of bricks and uneaten sandwiches from two weeks ago."

(Sidenote, we did find month old grapes in Peter's lunch box this morning. I convinced him not to open the bag and to leave it in the trash while slowing backing away from it so its arms and legs couldn't pull him down into the bin. I'm pretty sure that the liquid in the grape bag was lunchbox wine. A Merlot perhaps? I should have kept it.)

But what does all of this effort get you? I offer you EXHIBIT A:

A few weeks back there were some science projects completed in excess of 95% by the child. What progress I'm making! Peter's project was laborious and a pain the neck (I wanted to say ass but I'm not swearing like a truck driver on account of my Baudelairean virtues). He did all the text and it took me like nine hours to lay it out and print it. I hate Microsoft templates. I hate my printer and the thieves that sell printer toner. Anyway, after all of that work, and a decent project, he only got an 87.

WHAT? An 87? How could I, I mean Peter, get a B on the project! All that work and a grade with no character building comments? No feedback except for one, stupid, insipid little sentence that was no help at all? How can this B, er, be?

Peter didn't care one bit. He was busy celebrating a week without lunch detention.

I resolved to work just a little bit harder next time. I probably should spend more time in my room thinking about how I can improve my schoolwork.

P.S. My darling husband is just as guilty. We're enablers- partners in crime. Once, when the boys were in 2nd grade, they were studying the Constitution and had to find articles in the newspaper that were related to the Bill of Rights. This husband, this father, a lawyer no less, with a penchant for Constitutional questions, took the homework and did it himself. He highlighted the pages and clipped them carefully to each Right he found, including but certainly not limited to, articles that were hard to explain to a 2nd grader. Dad turned in his homework, thanks to his sons, and got an A. I still can't believe it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Rosenblat Ruse

Somewhere in the universe, there exists a bright, hard line between fact and fiction. Writers often embellish stories with metaphor and simile- perhaps accurate, perhaps not- but a creation that tells a tale, paints a picture with words. Maybe some things happened, maybe some things did not, yet the words exist for a purpose- to tell a story, to provide commentary or description and to teach.

In the world of creative non-fiction, the line is not hard and fast, but a blurry, undulating, living, breathing thing: Life experience written as commentary, somewhat fictionalized or embellished- words woven in a unique way that is brand new. Does this make it fiction, a work of literal truth or a blending of the two?

The Rosenblat tale has unfolded in the media over the last several weeks, again ensnaring Oprah, the Hallmark Channel and the nightly news outlets. The tale was literally unbelievable. Yet it was a hopeful story of true love, ashes rising out of the horrors of the Holocaust, to be marketed at Valentine's Day.

It's a fiction, not a biography and therein lies the rub. What was taken to be true, was in fact a fabrication that came to Rosenblat's mind, after being shot in a robbery, in the form of his dead mother imploring him to tell this story. Wherever it came from, people who heard it wanted it to be true. But there came the great unraveling. The New Republic grabbed a hold of it and shook the proverbial teeth right out of Rosenblat's skull in this article "The Greatest Love Story Ever Sold."

Fiction? Creative Nonfiction? A Lie? This posting on the Brevity (Creative Nonfiction) blog was intriguing not so much for the blog itself but for the comments. Comment number 5 from this article is a freelance journalist taking stabs at The New Republic for not providing credit the journalist felt was due given his self proclaimed ties to the story and the "scoop" that got away. So now we can add to the sordid tale plagiarism? Theft? Surely folly begets more folly.

In this mess of truth, fabrications and slights, the line between truth and fiction, wherever it is, has clearly been crossed and perhaps in the reporting, so has the sticky wicket of professional attribution- if that's what really happened. Sadly at the very heart of this is a story, a fiction, that is worth something in the literary world even if only as creative writing. Most baffling is the multiplicative failure of editors, the Rosenblat family, the Rosenblats themselves and anyone else involved in the project to call it a fiction and let the work stand on its own as such.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Camp Alaska- Chapter One

What would ever possess someone to say, "Hey! It's warm and cozy in this house with my robe, slippers and a FURNACE. That's too good to be true! To make myself really appreciate this I will create a Boy Scout program that only the strong will survive with a full set of fingers!"

Yea, really. Welcome to my nightmare- Camp Alaska. Say what you will about Boy Scouts (I've had the discussion with many of you, so suspend your political concerns), but they are a creative lot. Creative- meaning INSANE. Not that my boys don't need some toughening up- believe me they do. They're lazy and they're yella and they could use a dose of tough living without an XBox and cable TV. They usually get this when we abandon them at summer camp, but now we get to do this in the dead of winter- with no tents and a box of Pop Tarts between them. I've laid awake at night thinking about amputations and snow blindness, starvation and the finer points of frost nip vs. frost bite. I'll be the one in a cozy bed and I might be the one who doesn't survive. At least if I succumb to my worry, I'll be warm.

So the game plan is this:
  • 24 hours
  • outside
  • no tents
  • cook your own food
  • haul your own water
  • build your own shelter out of tarps and some sticks
  • no matches

This frosty excursion is next weekend and I've spent the last few days stocking up on wool socks, magnesium fire starters, polar fleece, tarps and Ramen noodles.

The ever-patient scout leaders have assured me that they have never misplaced a scout or had one freeze to the earth overnight. This could be true, but the troop is kind of small. Maybe they left one behind somewhere?

They head out into the wilderness on Friday night- 6 days and counting...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Be Drunk!

Here is a fabulous poem by French poet and Parisian dandy, Charles Baudelaire (click on his name for a full biography- fascinating!)

You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it—it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."

I must say that I like his premise although I might pick a tray full of vodka martinis over the wine.

Poetry- I can live with that as long as it's not been written by me. It takes a lot of good, precise thinking to churn out a good poem. I tried it a few times but decided to abandon it as foolishness and hackery- I'm pretty rotten at it.

Virtue? I draw the line at virtue. This word originally meant "manliness" so I find that unacceptable. However, I guess I can't get too hung up on a 900 year old definition so the new very succinct definition (abbreviated by me to meet my own selfish purposes) is goodness. I suppose I could do a few things to embrace goodness...

  • return my grocery cart to the corral
  • wave at the neighbors
  • smile when greeting the more grating associates with whom I share office space
  • stop making Peter eat vegetables. No wait, that's dumb, glad he's at Grandma's.
  • stop swearing like a longshoreman
  • give more- church, the foodbank, at the Y
  • spend more time on the happy side of my brain
  • cook more- with butter

Those are sounding a bit like resolutions and I hate those. I will re-name them "My 2009 Baudelairean Virtue Endeavors". Much more scientific don't you think?

Anyway, hope your New Year's Eve was safe and that 2009 is starting out with a bang. Now, go drum yourself up some Baudelairean Virtue!