Monday, October 29, 2012

plastic plates piled with grains

With time to spare before class began, a high school science class it seems, I don't know why it's always science, though sometimes it's pre-algebra, and never English where I wouldn't have had to study much, but that's the point of these in-school-again dreams isn't it? The torture of being unprepared and failing, in these tiny desks, and it always feels as though I've skipped most of the semester already.

I decide to use the restroom which is conveniently located across the hall. I find an unoccupied stall, and the stalls never have a lock, are always incredibly filthy and then the door becomes invisible putting me on display, whoever walking by or point blank standing there, watching me awkwardly hover above a dirty toilet, and what usually kicks in at this point is a mental message I've left myself, written in childhood perhaps, telling me: do not urinate--this a dream and that toilet is not real.

When I look up there is cold-faced late teen black boy standing in front of me, but I don't have his attention. Instead he's looking behind me to the left at a larger late teen black boy who appears to be a dealer of drugs, sitting on the toilet like a throne, doling out some thing I can't see to girls and boys, all black whose faces look tired and angry. I leave the restroom terrified.

When I get back to the classroom, I immediately tell my teacher about the drug dealer, thinking: I can save this school from these drugs by getting at the source. The teacher summons the principle, vice principle and as they are outside the classroom waiting for me to explain what I saw, a few of the cold-faced black kids are walking by waiting to hear what I am about to say. I tell the men I will not talk where we are, that it's unsafe, that we need to go elsewhere.

The men take me across campus, to an open area on a green lawn dimly lit by the sun's diminishing state, though it's still very early in the morning. There's a gloom, people walking around us, ghosts, slow accessories of a setting. We walk inside a building. They tell me to wait at a long table, in a plastic orange chair with metal legs. They say it's time for lunch. Others soon join me at the table. When we are gathered accordingly, we set off to an outdoor area.

There are around twenty of us sitting in desks outside in a basketball court. A thick woman with a Caribbean accent tells her assistant to give us plastic plates piled with grains and tops our them off with a ladleful of creamy sauce. I'm about to dig into the plate of food when an attractive boy with dreadlocks next to me gives me a warning. He says: don't start until the others start. Then: This food will bind you with the dead; if you have sadness or malice involved with any dead members in your life, you will become a vessel for their return.

I do not eat the food. I watch others eat the grains and sauce and some look heavy lidded in ecstasy. Others dance and sway. The Caribbean woman chants something in the center of the circle. I watch an attractive boy sit calmly and wonder if he is afraid of resurrecting ghosts unto himself as well.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

a fly a bee a speck for me

Today, since I took a long walk to the library to participate in something they call Sing-A-Long book Time, I thought a nice sitting-and-doing-nothing session was in order. I have to decompress from being in public mommy mode surrounded by everyone's own version of Felix. It's strange to a group of people so vulnerable yet guarded at the same time. Especially these stay-at-home daddies, sitting Indian Style on the floor with their daughters, singing along with juice cups in hand explaining, "We share, Madison," whenever another teetering baby comes along to try a sip of mystery juice. "Share" is the first concept babies must learn when they're putting objects and textures to words; this comes after the phase of tasting every toy, speck or fuzz before memorizing what constitutes actual food.

One afternoon I let Felix outside onto the terrace where I knew I'd removed all objects breakable, poisonous or sharp. Lo and behold when Felix comes at me with something in his mouth. When I ask for it--he spits out a fly and a bee, dead and dried from some grave of cobwebs. I said one word, "gross," which made him smile. Maybe the bug thing was his idea of a joke. I'll never know.

But getting back to the stay-at-home daddy thing, I see more and more, the less insular I become, and in a way I'm grateful at the sight which always reminds me that 2012 isn't at all a homogenous blur fusing into every other decade. Changes are happening. A shift in priorities. Men are stepping up as nurturers. Women are using their brains to make money. We're in the middle of a big shift here. And depending on who's coupling with who, it's nice that we get to be ourselves in terms of compatibility isn't it? Let the macho men be macho, and the mama's boys be mamas. As for me, I'm fine when it comes to being on thumbtack patrol. It's my choice after all.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

critters, critters everywhere

Who knows what got into Barnabas the cat today; he brought not one, but three critters & let them go in the bedroom for us to freak out about & catch. I don't know why he goes through the effort of catching these things if not solely for the bragging rights of a seasoned hunter.

He lets them go to bap them around a bit & always loses them, forcing them to take up residence under the stove (if they're not caught immediately) to scrounge for dried ramen or chocolate chip cookies.'s a picture of the first catch, which the hubs caught by turning his office wastebasket into a dome/net thing, it's a sparrow!

The second catch of the day was not pleasant, at was a giant rat with cancerous looking cauliflower ears and tumors all over its maw. It's pretty sad when you see something like this, praying it's not a mutation -- aka "sign of things to come due to prolonged exposure of malignant chemicals which are probably oozing in a nearby yard."

The third catch was a tiny & very cute mouse, which left me uninspired for yet another photo shoot with the office trash can. Just imagine what a gray mouse the size of a thumb might look like & there you go.

Now Barnabas is retired for the night & last time I checked he was ZZzzing through some logs. Isn't it cute when cats snore?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

so the toy grill says to the undependable screwdriver: why so warped?

I'm proud to say I put a toy grill together today after getting four missing screws in the mail from the manufacturer. Felix fell in love with the same grill at a Mother's Day party in a plush Hollywood mansion, so of course we had to get him one.

To see Felix mesmerized by random objects is a joy I wasn't prepared for. To see his eyes light up and focus on the colors, exploring the textures with his tiny fingers, putting things in his mouth to find out if they're edible or disgusting...his curiosity is inspiring.

And there's a big chance I'm projected my own boredom onto his widespread arsenal of entertainment, but that's another story, if it's not already obvious why I would ever be bored. Thank goodness for ice cold air conditioning--one Brooklyn summer in an airless apartment is all one needs to appreciate that for the rest of eternity.

I'm thinking about investing in a sturdy steel or titanium screwdriver so the tip won't get warped whenever I try to put something together in the future. I don't know anything about tools, but I do know the screwdriver I currently own is from an Ikea tool set and it's a total piece of crap.

The hammer's fine, but a rock from the driveway could put the same nails in the wall. I'm, two seconds away from googling "what is the hardest material a Phillips screwdriver can be made from"...high carbon steel it says--which is better than low carbon steel.

Guess that's going on the ol' Amazon wishlist--along with an International Playthings Flash Beat Drum and Elememosqueeze blocks, which according to the description, are great for learning the alphabet, in the tub, or just to hold and chew wherever.

Monday, May 21, 2012

knick knacking in La Mesa

It's Monday night and the weekend was fine. We road tripped it to a cute city beside San Diego called La Mesa which hosted us for Ned's appearance at their book festival.

Aside from sipping a delicious Malbec that we found at a local wine bar tasting, and watching Spiderman 3 while crunching Pop chips in a Holiday Inn like rock stars, and trying tiramisu from an Italian place called Tiramisu, good times were found trolling shops for knick knacks and checking out the happenin' coffee place recommended by our eccentric wine guide, Doug.

We finally found (after needing some for a while) a really great set of coasters at a unique shop that held an abundance of Tiffany style lamps, tasseled wall tapestries and Frank Lloyd Wright night lights.

The festival itself was charming, especially when I got to hold a baby chicken my cupped hands while nuzzling a baby goat. I told the farmer handling the animals that the moment was enough to compel me to go temporarily vegan and he just looked at me like: why?

I like being put in my place by elders who've lived twice as long as me. Even if by the well-honed furrow of the brow. He was in overalls and everything. I bet he's killed his own meals like a million times is the thing. In La Mesa. Fresh milk every day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

working wizards & unstuck logic at bathtime

Felix impressed me today. Like EXTRA impressed me. I won't beat around the bush. Ned on a special mission to Target for Drano (thick beard!) grabbed a new bath toy for our tyke. Since his already existing toys were very yesterday. I'll stop talking like a Valley girl now.

Ned bought Felix a set of letters and numbers that stick to the wall of the tub, water being the adhesive. I marveled at that actually. Thought: wizards, it's tough to get work these days, but behold the marvel of these sticky letters -- it must be!

Then I watched Felix play with the letters, saying: guh. Everything this week is guh. Except the cat, who is: keeeee! 11-month-olds; they know how to keep it simple.

So Felix is trying to figure these new toys out. He picks up a green J--floats it. He picks up a red K--tosses it. Then he peels a letter off the wall, looks at it, grabs another letter floating in his bath...AND STICKS IT ON THE WALL. I found this so amazing (obviously).

This LOGIC. Plain and simple. Deduction. This guh was stuck to the wall -- therefore this guh will stick to the wall -- because they're both guh. There are so many people who can't even operate the simplest mechanisms without detailed instructions, without asking a million questions... Where is what? This goes where? How is that. Who took a huge bite out of my sandwich!? (Oops.)

Is it obvious what I'm trying to get at here? Logic. The ability to rationalize a conclusion by investigation. To test a plausible hypothesis. He unstuck one object and subsequently stuck a similar object in its place! Reasoning. Assessment. Validity!

Am I just being a crazy "my kids a genius" dodo-head parent? If so I can deal with that. I can deal with being the dodo-est-ever-of-them-all! But I was still very impressed today. And that what this post's about.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

tweet: Found cat in Tortoiseshell sunglasses sipping Hefeweizen & orange with musicians next door again. Talking about King Geoffrey & demon babies

Ever since Twitter started, I've been there. My best friend Adam was one of the first people to have a Twitter account and I joined to interact with him, and now here we are six years later. I hit my 4,000th tweet today, and I guess none of it means much of anything, but it's been good for keeping me company throughout the years and I'm thankful for that.

The 140 character limit was always an issue for me. Limitations in general can be pretty inconvenient if they're not leaning toward structure, but what can we do but embrace them? I think it started as a game, using all 140 characters when I tweeted, to see if I could do it; like a crossword, or Soduku; but now it's more of a compulsion.

"Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions)."

One thing I've learned about obsessions is that they can't be neutralized; they can only be replaced. Knowing this, I'll try and channel my need for control into something else...baking? Painting? Cleaning? (My knitting skills are the pits.) And try to make my tweets more succinct in an effort rid the world of garbage.

In the meantime, SilverLake is beautiful this Spring. Young fashionistas are emerging from their cubbyholes to shine in the latest trends. Tortoiseshell glasses are supposedly making a huge comeback this year (according to the GQ Style Guide sitting on the back of my favorite toilet) so I expect to see them on everybody...and their cat, soon enough. Red pants are in this year too. Sizzzzlin'.

And from the sound of it, a group of residential musicians are putting the final tweaks on songs they'll play in venues soon. I like to pretend these guys are a well-known band getting fresh songs together for a comeback album. Then I realize by the sparse variation of notes and off-key everything that these are just kids either: following a dream or farting around, either of which I approve.

Game of Thrones...since we don't get HBO, and prefer to watch the episodes back-to-back anyway, I have no choice but to stand by and wait for the Second season to pass before I can continue to observe the drama unfolding with young King Geoffrey's merciless reign.

This means I must make an effort to avoid status updates and tweets of friends/fans eager to talk about the present goings-on of that show, but I guess it could be worse. It's not like I've read the books. I'll never have time to read all those books about sex and dragons.

Monday, April 23, 2012

tweet: take a photo of a smiler who doesn't feel the smile. They look like they smell death don't they? It's like your camera sneezed death on them

Supposedly, if you want to put yourself into a better mood, you can trick your real life emotions by stretching your face into a smile, whereby using less muscles to frown, yadda, yadda, but have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror doing that? Hello psychopath. I like to pride myself in thinking that I can elicit actual smiles from even the surliest people when I'm behind a camera. You can say anything from: 1, 2...fartflakes! to: Watch the birdie! And results are often good -- if you're quick. 

Yes, I'm talking about folks who take a century to press GO, and even after that the picture often comes out blurry because they're so nervous about getting it right, or just wobbly all the time, who knows. Smiles can also be borne of reflex or classical conditioning. We as people have been taught that our faces look less severe, warmer when we bear our teeth, though for some reason when animals do that, they're more on the vicious beast tip. More: I will shred you. Less: I am a warm and reasonable creature who is bursting with jolly. We say: Cheese! and instead of salivate, we expose our meat rippers and hope that our souls don't dissolve in a flash that temporarily blinds us. No wonder.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

name change/game change

With an ever-expanding collection of rabbit-adorned books growing on my bookshelf it was a no-brainer coming up with a new name for my blog which for the longest has been called NOTANOCTOPUS, until today. Trying to think back 4+ years ago as to why my then-self would name a blog that, I can only imagine that particular sequence of the letters created an interesting beat to me; it was fun to say not-an-oc-to-puss; it sounded Greek, whatever that means, and the word itself represented (in a deeper sense) the facade keeping an inquiring mind from the real nitty-gritty which often hides behind smile. An octopus, for instance, a majestic billowy-tentacled sea beast; they adorn everything from stationary to well-pampered earlobes after a little molding with 14K, but when you really think about it they're squishy, with eight arms and suckers and beaks, though they are known for their intelligence...honestly, I don't know where I'm going with this.

The more I think about it NOTANOCTOPUS was a great name; I'll miss it. Change is the issue here, really, and my effort to embrace it. Some old mystic on a mountaintop once said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But I'm sure if that mystic fell in love with and married a no-nonsense type of gal, he might change his tune to, "New curtains might be nice to accentuate the sunbeams passing through my life." And a good attitude like that is tough to disparage.
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