Monday, September 30, 2013

Dare Devil

This is what happens to boys who grow up with three girls, two of whom scream at insects, one who cries and runs to the other room if the dog throws up on the floor, and one who cries on the ferris wheel.

Monday Morning Oldie: "In This Corner"


Back in the day my brother used to stage boxing bouts in his room. He was the promoter, the announcer, the opponent, the trainer and the roaring crowd of fans. The champ was my 4 year old sister. Pete would tape her hands and use ski mittens for gloves.

"In this corner, we have, weighing in at 34 pounds, from Philadelphia Pennsylvania, with 43 titles, 2 losses, and an unbelievable 40 KOs, the indisputable, the unstoppable, the unquestionable, heavy fleaweight champion of the world, BABY JANE FRAZIER. (roaring crowd aaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

"And in this corner, weighing in at an 63 pounds we have--"

At this point, my sister would step up and windmill him to the side of the head. He took it in slo-mo --head turn, neck snap, face scrunch, sweat spray, faaaaaall baaaaaaack--but kept announcing: What the... ladies and gentlemen (aaaaaaaaa) Baby Jane has (aaaaaaaaa), the crowd is going wi (aaaaaaaaaa) this is unbelievable (aaaaaaaaaaaa), never before (aaaaaaaaa) history of the sport.

All while baby Jane Frazier kept pounding him in the face.

I don't really know why I woke up with this memory this morning except that it's Monday and I feel like Pete, playing all the roles in a boxing match.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Science Sunday

Check out my friend Pete's vid about chromosomes and then please write me a note and explain what the heck he's talking about!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Large and In Charge

I was at a stoplight yesterday and I looked over and there was a little kid, probably around 4, walking down the street. It wasn't so strange, her mother was a little ways behind her, but what struck me about her was that she had her hands in her pockets. If you know kids, especially any under the age of say 6, you know that generally they do not walk down the street with their hands in their pockets. She looked like an Italian man walking down a Brooklyn street in the 1940s on his way to the cheese store: cocky, contented, a little contemplative, with a full agenda for the day. I loved her so much. I loved her because she reminded me of what it's like to decide to do one simple thing that, even if you're just a tiny little person, makes you large.

Jungle - Platoon from Jungle on Vimeo.
This isn't the girl I saw. She's 6.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Old Notebook Snap - #627: Infidelity

"I can't stand that guy".
Joe refused to look up.
"Steven. You know, Steven? What's his name again?"
"Steven Drinker", he said and turned the page of his newspaper. It rustled, and he cleared his throat.
"Is that his name?"
"My old boss? Is that who you're talking about? That Steven?"
"Yeah, Steven".
Joe looked up, suddenly curious. "Why are you pretending you don't know what his last name is?"
"I couldn't remember. Ugh, he was so awful. I can't stand to even think about him".
"Why are you then?"
"Why are you thinking about him?"
"I saw him outside the Coffee Bean with his mother".
"How did you know it was his mother?"
Her eyes flashed to Joe and then she looked down and walked back to the sink. "I met her once".
"You did? How?"
She turned on the water and started doing the dishes, " I don't know. I just did. It doesn't matter. She has Altzeimer's. She doesn't even know she has a face".
"What do you mean?"
"That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Steven. He's such asshole".
"I didn't realize you knew him well enough to think he was an asshole".
"How well do you need to know someone? They either are or they aren't".
Joe looked at her for a long time and then squinted his eyes, "It's kinda personal".
"Oh, for Christ".
"An asshole is what you call someone you know pretty well when you're mad at them".
"Oh my god", she started laughing, "You're being ridiculous".
"Am I?"
"You are so off base".
"I don't know that I am".
"You are. Trust me".
"That's an interesting choice of words".
She shook her head but still she wouldn't look up.
"I think I'm on to something".
"Don't be an--"
"I think I'm getting warm here".
"You are so not onto something".
"You are ice cold".
He stood and started walking towards her.
"You are standing in an ice field".

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What About

I knew a guy named Jim who tried to rob a bank in Ohio with a kitchen knife. When I knew him, he was a student at an all-boys school, and so in my memory, he is always 15, in a jacket and tie, smiling with uncombed curly hair. I guess if you look at the map of this, if you want to gage the route from A to B, you can see that there were drugs involved, that probably somewhere after college and before Ohio there was a long sequence of drug fueled episodes, each one becoming more dark and depressing than the one before it; but still, I wonder if a fortune teller would have been able to see it coming. I never knew him well but I remember that he smoked a lot of pot and that he had a sister who we all knew for years before we found out she was his twin. His nickname was Tiger, a name that seemed silly and disconnected, even in ninth grade. My ex mother-in-law (before she was either an ex or my mother-in-law) once accused Jim of stealing a pair of slippers from under the Christmas tree. The whole story, that a (then 21 year-old) friend of her son, would steal an un-opened, still-wrapped box with some down-filled lady slippers was so silly and mockable that it became one of those stories that was filed under "ridiculous", until it was re-filed under "but what about".

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dork For Evah

I almost got into a genuine Jerry Springer hair-pulling throat punching fist fight at parent's night. In my mind I did anyway. In reality, I sat at my desk in the front row, trying to listen to the English teacher talk about what books the class will be reading this year. Just as she was getting started, some lady with leopard skin pants, 5 inch heels, and a full coating of orange makeup walked in and sat behind me (I know that sounds snooty and like I'm judging and while it is and I am, I'm mainly pointing it out because she seemed out of place). She wasn't the one I wanted to smack anyway. Even though she was cracking her gum and her phone did go off two minutes after she sat down --Apple Bottom Jeans, full volume. She apologized. It wasn't entirely her fault that some guy from the back row then started a conversation with her about how big his balls were.
Like a catcher's mitt, baby.
Oh for real?
That's what I heard anyway. I looked to the teacher who was the all time master of not being distracted by people who can't pay attention. She looked tired, exhausted really, but still able to muster whatever it takes to teach 36 students in one classroom how to write a poem. I don't think she heard the two dingdongs having a conversation. But I did. I turned to shush the guy. (And now before you judge me, I mean go ahead you're probably right, I know that's a dork move, but that's how I get in a classroom.) He looked at me with his chin pulled in, like Psssshh, who the hell are you. The lady just stifled a giggle. All the other parents looked away. I looked to the teacher again who was still talking but was now turning her body away from the side of the room where the commotion was happening, so I just glared at the big monkey.
On the way out he said Don't shush me babe. I have every right to be here.
I was trying to listen! I said.
Yeah, he said, waved his hand at me and walked away.
In my mind, I did a slow motion flying kick to the back of his head while time stopped, everyone cheered and I became the most popular girl in school, but in reality I just looked down at my schedule and pretended to look for my next class.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Weekend

Have a good weekend everyone. Sorry for flatlining. I have new posts for next week.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Minister

When I was in college, I lived in a gay neighborhood across the street from the hustlers. A few blocks up was Rittenhouse Square, which was a fancy area with huge brownstones and expensive boutiques, and a few blocks down was Broad Street, the busiest connector street in the city. The boys that stood out there were different from the loud, colorful trannies that worked around the corner. They seemed a little sad and hungry, basically just standing around waiting with their hands in their pockets. It was the only place I ever lived where my home was broken into.  They came in through the fire escape and washed their hands in my bathroom sink, the soap was blackened and there were still grey drips everywhere when I returned. I remember calling the police and telling them I had been robbed, and they said Ma’am you weren’t robbed, you were burglarized. Anyway, the boys, they were always there, quietly getting into cars, or standing with one hand on the pay phone.
I watched them. A lot. I watched the guys who picked them up too, most of them were men in suits, with nice cars, men who probably had wives and kids and golden retrievers. It was all very peaceful and gloomy. One night I remember coming back from dinner with friends and I saw the father of a kid I went to school with walking towards the boy-corner. He was actually the minister at a church I went to for a confirmation class when I was 14. I went to the class mainly because of the barely supervised retreats we took where we smoked pot and made out for two-day stretches. There may have been a few discussions about religious studies but I don’t remember any of them. 
I had always liked him, both the minister and his whole family really. My own parents were divorced and my family complicated, and he seemed kind and happy and easygoing. “Sure we’ll take the kids on a hiking trip, it’ll be fun”. His wife never went with us, just he and “Tom”, another guy who worked at the church. Then, there he was out of the blue. Without a thought, I yelled out and waved “Mr H. HEY!” I was so happy to see him. I started to cross towards him but he immediately turned and walked away from me, not knowing that in one swift motion, he told me so much more than if he had just said hello.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Groundwork Coffee

Dear Guy Who Works At The Coffee Shop,

  Thank you for always getting my coffee ready as soon as I walk in. Even when there is a long line. Even when someone else is about to help me. Thank you for noticing my new glasses or my haircut and for always being friendly, not in a phony or aggressive way, or in a creepy I-live-in-the-basement-with-shag-carpeting-and-a-video-camera way, but just genuine and kind like you're trying to hurry things along and have a connection at the same time. Thank you also for not shoving the organic coffee/hipster business down my throat or try to act cool and grow a mustache and then waxing the ends of it. Thank you for being just a regular guy with a job. I appreciate that. It makes me feel comfortable and, oddly, safe, like everything is going to turn out okay in the end.




Monday, September 9, 2013

First One

I have more current photos of this girl but this is one I like to look at the most. At first glance she appears to be sussing out the situation, maybe even having a stare-down, ready for a fight, but then you realize it's not that. She's just thinking. See the leaning head, the eyes slightly down, the fingers placed precisely but gently just so: she is equal parts strong and sweet, intense and wistful. They say everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten. Likewise, maybe everything you need to know about a person, you learn by looking at a photo of her when she was a kid.

Happy birthday to the person who taught me everything I needed to know about being a parent.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Middle Child

Things about Middle Children:

Always ready for a fight or a laugh
Easy To Talk To
Beautiful without knowing it
Sweet without knowing it

Things about this particular Middle Child:

All of the above
She is 15 today
Happy Birthday Sasha, sausage, saucy, darla, dardar, lil Sauce.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Woman Interrupted While Thinking About Water

Mary was sitting by the window with a book in her lap. It was four in the afternoon and the children were still playing baseball down the hill beyond the barn. She could hear their voices yelling but then was not sure if the sound was real or imagined. She picked up the book and reached over to put it down on the table, knocking over a glass of water that had been on the edge. She turned to absently watch it spill on the floor. She did not feel like getting up. It would have to wait. She sat back and looked out the window, still thinking about Walt.

"Spray him in the head, Nellie! I'll hold him down," they were all screaming and laughing, even Walt, his arms were up to protect his face but he was laughing too. Nell sprayed the water with such force that it bounced off the side of his head and straight into Mary's face. They were all screaming. She jumped on Walt's back and wrapped her legs around his sides but he spun her off and went running down the hill. She followed and when he fell, she dropped to her knees and slid. He reached out and pulled her close and they laughed in each other's ears.

Look, you spilled.
"Oh...Yeah, I did," and she got up from her chair to get a towel.