truthful Tuesday

the kid who terrorizes our house came back again

While we were visiting my in-laws, we got a phone call at six in the morning. It was the state police. The boy was reported missing and spotted running down the road toward our driveway again. We were glad we weren’t home, and proceeded to enjoy the weekend and the pool and the company of our family.

When we got home a couple days later, we noticed one of our chickens was missing. My wife went over and over the details in her head. She knew she put them in the coop one by one before we left, and was almost positive that they were all in there. She couldn’t be 100% sure. She thought she was, but couldn’t say. We only knew that we were down one chicken.

The next day, a van pulled into our driveway and a lady got out and introduced herself. She lived two doors down and had chickens of her own. She said her mother was taking care of them and feeding her big robust Buff Orpingtons when all of a sudden, she noticed a little white pullet running around. She freaked out and went inside, wondering where this lone ghost chicken came from, and what kind of voodoo this could be. She counted her chickens. Right number, but one of them had turned white. The lady assured her mother that one of her chickens didn’t magically turn white. She said she knew that we had white ones, and she came to tell us she had our hen, and we could come get her anytime.

So the girls and I grabbed a dog carrier out of the shed and walked two doors down to the neighbor lady. The driveway was long and shaded, and we took a pleasant jaunt into a part of the woods near our home that we’d never explored. The shade of the overgrown trees was cool and dark. We walked all the way up to a huge gate. It was locked and there were cameras pointing at us. We waved to the house but no one came out. I looked around. There were no chicken coops or outbuildings that would house them. I told the girls I thought we were in the wrong place.

We walked next door as the girls protested every step. They kept saying the lady told us it was two doors down, this had to be it, we just had to wait. I said it couldn’t be it, and hey, let’s just try this path, it connects these two houses, the one with the big gate and the security cameras and this other one nestled in a nice stand of tall pines. I nearly had to drag them through the woods and up a small hill to the house. In the backyard, there was a huge chicken pen full of big orangey hens. And one little white hen.

An older lady came out of the house and immediately started complaining about the boy. She said she was so tired of him coming around. She said a neighbor saw him climb up the banks of the river wearing nothing but a backpack. She said he was locking up her chickens with a padlock every night now and she suggested we do the same. One was still missing. Her husband called the town office and they better do something about this neighborhood menace. We collected our chicken in the dog carrier and went home.

Last night, the girls were visiting a friend and we were enjoying a beer on the porch. It was just past twilight, dark enough so that all the shadows were deeper than the sky, and we heard a rustling in the lilac bushes. Sure enough, up the driveway, ran a little boy. My wife shrieked and went inside. I followed, and we locked the doors. In the glow of the porch light, his little scared face appeared through the glass, with sad blue eyes searching for us. Perhaps he was contemplating his own troubled reflection. My wife grabbed the phone to call the police and the unit where he lived, and I went out on the porch with him. He was wearing red Angry Birds slippers. I asked him what he was doing. He said he ran away in the dark. I asked him why. He said he didn’t know. I picked up a bubble wand and asked him if he’d ever blown bubbles at night. He said no. My wife asked him if he took one of our chickens for a walk. He covered his face and said he was sorry. He was confused and didn’t want it to get lost. A moth flew over his head and he remarked that it was pretty and that he liked moths. I blew bubbles with him, sending them floating into the night sky, and he clapped and popped them, laughing until workers from the school came and dragged him home.

some facts and a few Jennifers

The kids have started watching Once Upon A Time on Netflix. I thought this might bother me since I’ve already seen most of the episodes and gave up on the series, but I’m okay with it because of Jennifer Morrison.

I heard a song on the radio that I kind of liked and it turned out to be sung by Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m going to pretend Jennifer Morrison sang it and she’s related to Jim Morrison somehow.

I have a cousin named Jennifer. Her daughter, who I’ve known all her life, has recently started college. Every time I’ve seen her over the course of her life, she has wanted to know who I am. I saw her again when she came to see the play I was in, and she introduced herself to me for probably the seventh time in her life. I think this says a lot about my family or something.

That’s all I’ve got for Jennifer-related things today. Hey, I also have a cousin named Susan!

I used to be very interested in all things supernatural. I felt very in tune with the strange wonder in the world. I’ve sort of lost that sense. Now my first thought when I see something amazing in a movie or an unexplained event in real life is that something reasonable must be behind it. This is a weird feeling.

All my favorite stories are fantasies. I’m almost ashamed.

TT

How I know my depression is lifting… my belly is coming back. I guess I eat when I feel good? Really, really need to lay off the bread. 

But, I feel good, and that feels worth noting. 

I also really like my new front porch situation. It’s so breezy and pretty out here. A really lovely spot to procrastinate my market work and daydream about the future. 

turn it up today

I was pretty happy that last night looked like it was going to be a normal night for a change. The five of us, sitting around the dinner table, just having a grand old time. Everyone talking and laughing. Then I noticed how loud we were. It was deafening. I yelled at them and said, “LISTEN TO YOURSELVES! WE ARE SO LOUD! CAN’T WE ALL JUST TALK NORMAL?” We made a conscious effort to be quiet, but it wasn’t as fun. Loud, crazy, everybody talking at the same time, that is normal. And it’s great.

I don’t like that The Black Crowes broke up.

I was driving the other day and my nose started itching. I couldn’t stand it. I had to pull over. I turned the visor mirror toward me and started digging. I scratched a hole in the inside of my nose, and it’s just now starting to heal. Every morning, I wake up, and immediately sneeze out a scab. Awesome.

I like Sting. I do.

I started playing this game on my phone this morning. I got a power up because it was Terrific Tuesday. I decided right then that I had to listen to nothing but songs that started with T today. Alliteration, I like it. I just do. It’s not just an internet thing, or a word thing, or a radio thing. I dig it.

A friend of mine is following only four people on Spotify and one of them is Seal. I think I’m gonna have to go follow Seal.

I have a friend who told me that a band I would love to see might be coming to the area soon. He said he couldn’t tell me who it was, but he could give me a hint. He said that they used to have a lead singer in the 80s who left and then another lead singer took over for a while and then the original lead singer came back. Man, I would love to know if we’re thinking of the same band.

I heard a double shot of Van Halen on the radio this morning.

sound truths

Taylor Swift might have been born in 1989, but I was listening to “Stand” by R.E.M. and “Good Thing” by Fine Young Cannibals and the soundtrack to Weird Al’s UHF.

There’s a certain 80s synth string sound that always makes me think of sitting in a car showroom with my parents. You know it, it’s in Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and stuff by The Eurythmics. I practically want to buy a Renault when I hear it.

Similarly, when the keyboard in Van Halen’s “Jump” starts off, I’m instantly nine years old and in my friend’s living room, my back against the proverbial record machine, and feeling what rock ‘n’ roll really meant to a bunch of red-blooded, young Americans.

Speaking of “Young Americans”, when that David Bowie song plays, I’m in my best friend’s old blue Volvo with his mother, and seeing a striking similarity between him and her, and being confused about androgyny, specifically the “Dancin’ in the Street” video. I think his mother owned that very outfit.

My own mother hated Donovan, specifically the weird sound he made in “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” She hated “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and The Shondells or even Joan Jett and The Blackhearts for the same reason.

My father was convinced that Corey Hart and Huey Lewis were the same person. It was like Clark Kent and Superman, with sunglasses at night, which made Corey Hart infinitely cooler.

I spent a great deal of time afraid of Colin Hay, Billy Idol, Herbie Hancock and Rockwell, thanks to their videos. Don’t even get me started on “Thriller.”

My first self-declared favorite song was “Abracadabra” by the Steve Miller Band. My second was “Maneater” by Hall and Oates. Then, anything by Steve Winwood.

When I was in middle school, there was no bigger band than INXS. There’s something kind of sad about realizing the greatest contribution they made to popular music was “Need You Tonight.” It was probably the penultimate moment of their career, the pinnacle sound they’d been building up to, which makes me want to love it less, but I can’t help it. They did good stuff before, they did good stuff after, but if that was their only song, that would be okay.

And now I can’t hear “Sultans Of Swing” without picturing my mother-in-law dancing, showing off her sweet exercise class dance moves.

What goes around comes around. I have a playlist called “Songs I Listen To Because Of My Kids” and it’s all stuff that plays on today’s hit music stations. It ain’t half bad.

will there be a test?

I don’t hate Van Hagar. I grew up with them more than the David Lee Roth years.

I wear my dead brother-in-law’s sunglasses. He gave them to me in college, and I just found them again recently, and had to start wearing them.

I never quite got over a childhood crush on one of my friend’s sisters. If I saw her now, I’d still feel the same way, I think.

I put on my daughter’s deodorant today. She has stolen mine enough times, I thought I’d get her back. I really like it.

I feel like summer is almost gone by the calendar, by the school year, and by the weather. All three are different schedules, all point toward the same thing.

I heard on the radio that the average friendship lasts five to seven years.

I want a steak.

I feel a change coming on. Much like the daughter of the devil himself, or the angel in white, or the woman who’s a little of both, I can feel her, but she’s nowhere in sight.

I need more time. I don’t think there’s enough space to write my answer. I don’t think I did my best. I think I need an extension on the deadline. I want to try it again.

No rest for the weary.

I was remembering a moment when I was 19 with an 8 month old baby and a 25 year old husband and it was his turn to watch our son for a few hours because I hadn’t slept in days and I went to lay down and about 40 minutes later he came in to the room and said “Ruth I can’t deal with him he won’t stop crying I’ve tried everything I don’t know what to do” and I said okay I’ll take care of him and honestly I’ve been taking care of all of them ever since. 

I might not be much to very many people but I like to think I am now and always have been a really really dedicated mom. 

These are two fundamentally different things.

When people–in real life or on the internet–suggest, “love yourself” as a place-holding solution or a substitute for loving someone else, it’s all I can do not to suggest in return, “go fuck yourself”.

I already love myself, and that’s good, but it’s neither a place-holder or substitute for loving someone else, nor is it a substitute or place-holder for someone else loving me.

that's a fact, Jack

I mowed my lawn and listened to a playlist I made that was nothing but songs from 1967. It was perfect for a sunny afternoon.

I changed my mind about one of the new girls in the office. I think kissing her would be like making out with a zombie.

I totally old-schooled one of the guys at work at 21. Some days, I feel like I can still play. Then I shot hoops with a kid in a wheelchair and saw what it really means to make a basket.

Fin still has diarrhea. I texted my wife to tell him he’s a poopybutt. He immediately demanded the phone, called me right up and said I was a poopybutt.

My Service Engine Soon light came on in my car. I guess I have to service my car. I better get up under that hood or pay someone else to do it.

I got my wife hooked on Candy Crush. I was playing in the car while she was in Walmart and handed her my phone with like nine moves left and said I had to drive and couldn’t finish it, would she mind? And that’s all it took.

I hate when live songs are mixed in with studio tracks. It makes me insane.

Deep down inside, I’m pretty sure I’m a soul singer.

I asked my girls the Tangled vs. Frozen question and they said Frozen all the way. They also said Adam Sandler is their favorite Dracula so you know, grain of salt.

I got a clown nose from the circus but my dog tore it to shreds.

I’m on the expressway. To your heart. And it’s crowded.

TT

I had been seeing dead pixels popping up. I ignored them deciding to drive it til the wheels fell off. But the truth is that my camera, which was given to me second hand in early ‘12 by the kind and generous nikkidactyl was a very nice tool I used to express and share my creativity. 

However as nice a tool as it is, it’s only a material object. Life moves on, stuff can be replaced.
I can be a little sad about it.
However, I can only grieve for the loss of life.

It sucks, but I’m okay.
It’s going to be okay.

Also, I love you fuckers.
Each and every one.

bullet the true sky
  • The fact that you have to have text present here before you can summon the popup thing that makes bullets and other formatting happen is a great example of design overcuteness. 
  • I had some of my chest hair shaved for a recent medical test (which went fine, thanks), leaving me with a quandary as I face a semi-public pool experience this week: shave the rest to match, or look like I need a mange dip?
  • Some days, the words flow faster than I can write them down. Other days, I have to dig each one out of deep mud and hose them off before use.
  • My music is on life support lately. All the days. Not good right now.
  • Facebook’s a useful reminder of the bubble I’ve built. I’m about 1.5 degrees of separation from some of the vilest bigots this planet has ever inbred, and that’s the only place I see them. Until I block their stupid asses, at least. My bubble wall is made of pure diamond and I am always reinforcing it. Don’t care.
  • Waiting until you’re nearly 50 to decide you want to build additional muscle mass is a bad idea, fellas. Biology always wins.
  • I read an advance copy of Seveneves, the new Neal Stephenson book. Great concept, but I felt it lacked in execution a little, which is kind of the opposite of his early career M.O.
  • I ran an 8k race on Sunday. Ran it like a motherfucker.
  • I’m not coaching baseball this year. Turns out I am coaching the coaches, though. Way harder than kids, it turns out. More on that later. 

“I want you to believe… to believe in things that you cannot.”
-Bram Stoker, Dracula

I feel I spend much of my life trying to convince. Words are chosen, whether spoken or written, in the great effort to convey a stance. It’s almost a defense instead of a viewpoint, like treading water instead of actually swimming.

You ask me about work and I deflect. I hold up my arms to stop the questions. Yes, things are fine. Sure, they could be better. We’re talking about work, it isn’t supposed to be fun. No, I don’t hate my job. Should I? Do you? Wait, what can I do to convince you?

You ask about my family and I smile. I shrug. I sigh. I stop, because it doesn’t matter what I say. I love my family, I feel loved, I try to be happy even when things aren’t perfect. Things can never be perfect, I’m not going to try to tell you anything different. You compare. You contrast. You cast your own experiences over my mine, your shadow falls across my body, and they don’t line up. How could they? And now I must convince you. I think about my words. I mull them over and over. I chew on them. I open my mouth when the words are ready.

You ask me about my hobbies, my free time, my goals, my dreams. I might think about these things longer, give them a little more time to marinate. Maybe I’ll write these words down, and maybe they won’t come out the way they should, not in neat, delicate, ordered rows. The words might come out in fragments, in flowers, or in fire. They might come out in piles of garbage. They might fall in a ragged line, shrouded, obscured by a metaphor or wrapped in the spaces of silence. They might not come out at all. But I’m a convincer, so I do my best to make you understand. I try to make you believe.

My favorite questions are about the ideas I have. There are so many stories in my head, some are half written, some are still forming in the ether. I would love to tell you all about those. I want to tell you about the worlds I’ve created, about the lives I’ve constructed, about the deaths of characters that don’t exist and how they’ve affected me, but I can’t. These things aren’t real, not in the world we can touch and walk around in, and yet, I believe in them. I know what I’ve seen in these other worlds, and the time I’ve spent there is as real to me as the sky I see above me when I open my eyes every morning. As real as the bed I lay on and the woman lying next to me and the children in the other rooms and the car I’ll get into and take to the job where I work and the different places I spend my days. You can’t ask me about those things, because you don’t have the right questions, and I don’t know how to coerce you into asking.

If I could answer the unasked questions, maybe you would believe like I do. Because if I don’t believe, who will? And how will you? I’m not a writer. I’m a convincer. It’s not magic, there’s no secret, there’s no trick. There are only words.

TT

I am absolutely and completely smitten, and I’m OK with that fact. This has been such a delightful few weeks on so many levels, and I really wasn’t looking for this to happen right now, but it is, and I’m not about to hold onto some idea of when it’s appropriate to open myself up to another person when my self is already out of the cage. Instead I’m going to keep showing up, keep speaking directly and honestly, keep listening and seeing where things settle, and keep enjoying myself.

I deserve this. 

this is the picture

Spent the weekend cleaning out the old shed. We took absolutely everything out of it, got rid of half of the junk, made a pile for a future garage sale, and put the rest of our stuff back. I was astounded at how clean it was. We made a lot of room. There were places to put things like tools and bikes. It was kind of amazing. My friend stopped by while we were sweeping up and he said, dude, I’ll be right back. He brought me a mini fridge. I now have a beer fridge in my shed. I stocked it yesterday. I’m feeling pretty good right now.

In an old charcoal grill, we found a nest. Inside, nestled next to the old burned out briquets, were three baby mice. They were so tiny, their eyes weren’t even open yet. I looked at them and made an involuntary cooing sound, like when you see a cute puppy or someone’s newborn baby. I couldn’t help it. I showed my wife. She made the same sound. I grabbed my phone and took a bunch of pictures. The mice were just so freakin’ adorable. I scooped them up into a plastic sand beach pail and took them out into the woods. I would much rather catch them that way than in a mouse trap.

We decided to reward ourselves for all our hard work with a bite to eat. Before we left, we had to put all the chickens back in their pen. We got five out of the six in there, and one was causing me a lot of grief. I chased it up the steps, across the lawn, over the rock wall, down the driveway and back again. Halfway through my pursuit, I had the mental clarity to comprehend the silliness of my situation. I was running with my arms held out before me, hands scooped up in some kind of freaky human basket, hunched over in a simian fashion so I was closer to the ground, grunting like a caveman, snatching wildly at a stupid chicken, which eluded me at every turn. Just as I had this thought, I caught the tip of my old sneaker on the edge of the railroad risers by the front steps and fell on my face, smashing my arm into another riser. I’ve got a big old bruise/scrape/welt thing on my arm now. It hurts like crazy, and when I showed my wife, she said either go take a bunch of ibuprofen, or go drink another beer. I was thirsty after all that running.

I was shopping to fill my beer fridge yesterday and had the kids in the flame-painted race car cart, tooling down the aisles, picking up essentials like microwave popcorn and ice cream, when I came upon the frozen pizza section. They had eight different kinds of personal pizzas for 95¢ each. I scooped them all up and threw them in the cart. Never shop hungry.

When I got home, I stuck the 12-pack of Geary’s in the new fridge and cracked a beer. I stood on the porch with my phone and turned the camera toward me to capture the moment. I looked at the screen. Didn’t like that one. Deleted it. Took another one. Accidentally deleted it, and in the process, deleted all the pictures I took of the shed and the mice. Cursed loudly. Then my eight year old daughter out on the porch and asked me if I wanted her to take the picture for me. I put the phone down.

I thought you were supposed to be the responsible adult. Oh I’m responsible alright. Responsible for partying til my nuts catch fire.

* I didn’t go to my concert. My kids wanted me to have a sleep over and make popcorn and watch movies and I regret nothing, only maybe the fact I paid for a ticket to a show I didn’t get to see but what’s $75 when you make the hourly wage of someone of my educational monument. (It’s like 6 hours of work Ruth). Noted. 

* I shaved my legs and body parts tonight for the first time since winter Solstice and it looked like I was recreating “the ring” in my bathtub. So glad I’m softer than a defrosted subway bread stick and ain’t nobody even thinking about touching me. 

* I rode my bike today hard as I do, and I used my hatred and inability to get over it as the fuel to my hate fire. My legs burned, my heart burned, his house burned… Get it together Ruth you’re not a member of TLC and you have children to raise. 

*  I watch too many crime dramas because whenever they start canvasing the neighborhood for a person of interest I’m like pick me! I’m dying to be a person someone is interested in. Haha. Jay Kay. The weight loss reps are dying to get their hands on me. 

* really considering buying a summer home in “the past” since I insist on living in it. 

* I’m really glad I’ve been privy to a life that allows me to see both sides to most stories and that I can teach my children in a way that allows them to see what they have and their privilege and to tone them down when they get too arrogant for their own good. 

* 6 new X-Files episodes makes me giddy as fuck maybe we can do a Happy Endings reunion, a Friends Update, 4 more seasons of Firefly, a Veronica Mars movie that doesn’t suck ass, a sequel to Dumb & Dumber that isn’t 47 thumbs down and a Mean girls 2 starring Ginger from Gilligan’s Island as Kady and Jessica Lange as Regina George. 

Gretchen Wieners could be played by a gluten free hot dog. 

My brother and I spent lazy summer days at my grandparents’ house. My father’s parents, already well into their retirement from the sardine factory, watched us while my mother and father worked. They had an old house with a fruit cellar basement, which was always half full of rainwater and rickety shelves brimming with things my grandmother canned or pickled. She would send us down there to get jars of mincemeat or bags of potatoes.

The basement bulkhead was directly outside the window where my grandfather parked himself for the day. He sat beside his scanner, listening for town gossip or news about traffic or house fires since his son, my uncle, was the local fire chief. There was a painting of a ship on a rough sea on the wall beside him. He sat at the window with his white hair slicked back and watched the road and the coastline and me and my brother playing in the yard, while knitting heads for my father’s lobster traps. A seagull started perching on the bulkhead roof right outside the window and my grandfather fed it stale breadcrumbs on the sill. The seagull was there every day, and would tap its beak on the glass when it wanted food.

There was an old pop-up camper left in the yard to air out and my brother and I would sit in there to keep cool. We ate salami and yellow mustard sandwiches on white bread and drank diet ginger ale. There were always popsicles afterward. We ran through the sprinkler and rode bikes around the driveway and through the obstacle course of lawn ornaments, handmade by my grandfather. There were crows with spinning wings, a running but-getting-nowhere Alf, and of course, the old lady bending over with exposed polka-dot knickers.

My grandmother had a friend who lived nearby named Gertrude. She would take us in her gigantic maroon Lincoln Continental to visit Gertrude and her husband. Their house was right on the water, overlooking the harbor. It was cold on the first level and unbearably hot upstairs. Gertrude was a loud lady and a close talker and would often grab my grandmother by the arm and lean in even closer to yell a secret in her ear. I always thought it was funny that Gertrude was louder instead of quieter when she wanted to share something private.

When Gertrude’s husband died, my grandmother took us to Gertrude’s house and let us rummage through the attic. They were getting rid of everything anyway so Gertrude could move into a nursing home, and we got first dibs. I chose a pith helmet that Gertrude’s husband wore during the war; I’m not sure which one. It looked like some jungle expedition G.I. Joe hat, and I loved it. It went right into my toy box with my plastic toy guns and wooden swords and metal Tonka trucks.

My grandparents never went into a nursing home, and stayed right in their own house until they died. The family had our own rummage sale. I took home a bunch of my father’s old toys; a giant robot, all gummy with battery residue, a plastic model of The Wolfman my father made, and his old fishing rod. As I got older, it was weird to drive by and see new people living in their old house. The new owners were friends of my father and they hired me to paint the garage one summer. I pulled into the yard for the first time since my grandparents passed, and although everything was different, I still saw lawn ornaments in the yard, dried cod hanging on the porch, and my grandmother’s clothesline. I looked on the peak of the basement bulkhead for the seagull, but it was gone.

Insidious

I’ve been lifting for almost a year. I’ve gotten stronger. I competed. I won a medal. (I didn’t have any competition for that medal, but I had to not fail out of the meet, so it’s not nothing.)

I set out with a goal of bench pressing my mother. She has a relationship with fitness that I do not understand or agree with, but mothers gonna mother, so even though our goals are totally different I feel inadequate.

I’m 15 pounds away from that goal. I can squat her as a warm-up and I can deadlift almost 2 of her.

I’ve started to outgrow my clothes. I was in men’s medium t-shirts; they were tight on my belly but if I went up a size my neck and shoulders and arms were comically buried in billowing fabric.

My arms fill out a large now, and my shoulders add enough height that I may have to go XL soon.

The other day I caught myself finding that demoralizing. Feeling like going up a size in shirts (and pants) is an embarrassing failure. Telling myself that building all this muscle and getting bigger is just an excuse for not being small. Like I took up powerlifting because I’m too lazy to make my body smaller.

Isn’t that bullshit? My brain has me thinking that the reason I’m chasing down a 300-pound deadlift (24 pounds to go) is because I’m lazy, and if I weren’t I would have lost my belly fat and stopped taking up so much space by now.

I’m lazy and worthless and that’s why I’d rather squat with 210 pounds (= 1.5 my mothers) on my back than stop eating pasta.

Lifting is making me bigger, and I can’t shake the feeling that that’s a bad thing. I love being stronger. I love the sound giant barbells make when I move them around. I want that 300 pound deadlift because that’s where the road to 400 starts. I want that 140 bench press because that’s when I can pick up my mother’s weird judgy cardio attitude and put it aside and move toward 200. But chasing those things is making me bigger, and I wish that didn’t make me hesitate. But it does.

I’ve always been big. I was a big kid, and I started putting on fat at puberty and never stopped. But I’ve always carried muscle underneath, and even without all of that I’ve got a big solid skeleton. Relatively tall. Long torso. Wide hips. (I’m built for very easy childbirth, which is some kind of cosmic joke.) I’ve always taken up space and I’m always going to. Now I’m trying to do it on my terms, but the insidious voice in my head thinks I’m selfish and lazy for going that route. It’s not real work and it’s not worth doing if the goal isn’t to make myself smaller.

Fuck you, insidious voice.