Monday, June 23, 2008

No moss grows on a rolling apple*

I'll never stop learning things and getting gifts from my older siblings, er, sorry--big brothers and sisters...who just happen to be older than me.

Today, Sister #1 uncovered this photo of me engaging in two of my favorite childhood pastimes:

This is one red apple that didn't fall far from the tree:

Hello

Sister #1 also mentions something about her father, who can be seen in this photo, taken just three weeks after he married Mom, showing his affection for her as only he could.
My sister also implies that perhaps Dad's antics were a harbinger of his children's behavior. I can't imagine what she means by that.


*Have no fear, gentle reader (and you other slobs, too), neither were animals harmed nor bridges burned nor crossed during the mixing of these metaphors.


UPDATED: Added link to Sister#1's blog where these photos first appeared, which I meant to do originally, but spaced on.

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You're almost 2 now

The view from the bleachers

Dearest 3B,
Not just because of our travel schedule over the last few months, I've missed a few monthly letters to you. Part of the reason for my lapse has been your explosive development during that time, particularly your linguistic advances.

Every time I start to write an update, it's already out of date. I'm not the only one to notice, although I'm probably the only one writing it all down; many parents at playgrounds, coffee shops, and play dates have noted that you like to talk and wondered where you get that from.

Good question. Where do you get this need to express your every thought to the world at large?

Among my notes about this, I have a note in my email account from May 8, when you were on the farm with Mama:
Mama said: a, b
3B said: c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l,m,n,o,p
Mama said: q, r
3B said: s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z
These days, you mostly speak in full sentences, although some of the constructions aren't grammatically correct. You are consistent, however. For example, you always use "you" instead of "I," like when you express your desire to go to a concert by saying, "You want to go to the coffee shop and see Mr. Skip."

And this makes sense, since you constantly hear us refer to you as, well, "you": Do you want to go to the coffee shop? Do you want to take a bath? Do you want some cookies?

This led Mama to opine that perhaps, "After two years of talking like this I can talk normally now. Instead of 'Mommy does this...' and 'Mommy goes here...' maybe I can say 'I do this...' and 'I do that...' and he'll start getting the difference between 'you' and 'I.'"

It's not that you don't understand pronouns. A few weeks ago, when we were in the basement, storing clothes that you'd outgrown for your sibling-to-come, you clearly said, "We are standing in the basement." And you use them to form contractions. Just last night, as we sat under your blanket on your bed, you said, "We're sitting in the tent." You also use "her" and "him," although you're more fond of "dat woman" and "dat man."

You use the former frequently to express what is either a charming or slightly awkward thing for older women. While you don't pay much attention to girls your own age, any grown up woman is of great interest to you, especially if she's Asian. Last Thursday, I believe I may have figured out your mysterious Asian woman fetish when we were flipping through my alumni newsletter--hey, it was your idea--and you said, "You see Auntie H."

I asked where you saw Auntie H, and you pointed to the Asian woman in a picture of four people and said, "There."

Good to know, although I'm not sure that will make it any more comfortable for Mama and I when you again weave through a crowd, pick out the one Asian woman, stand two feet in front of her, point straight at her and announce, "Want to see dat woman."

It's not as if you don't have any social graces. You know how to say, "hello" or even simply "hi." You even know to shake hands and say, "Nice to meet you." Hell, you could even tell her, "You want to high five." and hold up your hand.

I'll just say that it's a good thing you're cute.

Speaking of cute, you got another haircut last Thursday with Mama, which went much better than the first time, in part because Mama was better able to head off any meltdowns, and in part because ever since that first one, Mama and I have been talking about haircuts, how much fun they are, and playing at cutting your hair with your toy scissors. I'd like to say thanks for being willing and able to pay attention to what we're saying and learn and make changes as you absorb new information.

I should also thank Cartoon Cuts for keeping the lollipops coming during your haircut.

Along the lines of absorbing information and making changes, you're clearly working hard on that. When you sense that we're about to ask or tell you not to do something, you start yelling, "No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!" and crying. I suppose it might be that you're telling us not to tell you no, but I think what you're doing is internalizing the "no" that you expect to hear from us.

Don't let this worry you. Even Superman needs a superego.

This is really just a new extension of your old habit of doing something we've asked you not to do previously, while saying things like, "Don't climb up and press buttons on the television." and "No [pulling the] keys [off of the computer keyboard]." as you scatter the keys around the room like Scrabble tiles.

However, you've also started to use "No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!" to express your displeasure with the world, like when you bang your head--and why is it always your noggin that gets knocked on something?--on a chair, dresser, piece of the floor, and so on. You also yelled that at the couch when we were playing Jump on the couch and you dove face first into the arm of the couch.

I wholeheartedly agree that the couch shouldn't have hurt you like that. However, to its credit, the couch does have padded arms, unlike Mama and Papa after carrying you around. Seriously, I think you're big enough that you can not only start to carry your own weight, but mine too. Of course, I'm just kidding. With every new word or turn of the phrase, with every "No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!" and with every smile, snuggle, and hug, you lift all the burdens from my back. At those times, there is only you; there is no work, no warring world, no weariness.

And, of course, even when you stand up in your crib at 3 a.m. and yell, "No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Want to go into the other room. Want Mama to come in and rub your back! Want to go to the futon over there and snuggle!" --I will always carry you.

Even if I don't have the time to write down what I'm seeing, I will always be watching you, loving every moment of your life, and always looking forward to seeing what comes next.

All my love,
Papa

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

There's only now

This is a dad blog. My son is almost two. Both Mama and I work and we have a certifiably crazy dog. Do I need to explicitly mention it every time I'm exhausted?

I will say that I've reached shark fatigue--I'm so tired that if I stop moving, I'll collapse. Here's hoping that I don't fall to the bottom of the sea to be eaten by bottom feeders, but only fall into a deep, uninterrupted sleep in which I only dream of sleeping.

Let me recap as best I can how I got to this point. I'm going to try to be temporalinear about this, but given my state of mind, it will likely be closer to something Burroughs might have constructed with sharp blade and a paste pot.

Also, there might be lots of cursing.

Which makes me nervous--but seriously, what doesn't? The odd thing is that I seem to have no problem dropping the bomb at work, but when it comes to cursing here, I vacillate between the vernacular of a choir boy and a choir boy who dropped the baptismal font on his big toe.

But I digress.


Lights Out!

As I was saying, at around 3 a.m. on Tuesday, some spatially challenged protosimian trucker with an overheight load ripped out the power and phone lines that stretch across the street at the bottom of our hill and pulled down at least one full utility pole and then drove off into the night.

Not that nobody noticed, however. By 4 a.m., it was hot enough in our place that not just Barky was panting, we all were. By 5 a.m., 3B was up for the day, which means that we were too, and that we needed to find a cool place for all of us to go--quickly. Fortunately, our local coffee shop, which has a play area with lots of toys, was open and had iced coffee ready. Unfortunately, in the five minutes it took us to drive down there, Barky managed to barf in the back seat.

After an hour of muffin tops and Tinkertoys, we went back home to clean up and pack up for our nomadic day. Once there, we realized that the same power outage that had caused us to sweat our tatas off for hours had shut down the hot water circulating pumps, so we only had cold water to shower in. Ice cold. Pumped-straight-from-a-melting-Arctic-ice-shelf-into-our shower-head cold. This crinked up Mama's neck, preventing her from turning her head for two days. I refused to stand under that water, since I have a rather passionate dislike for cold water. Besides we want to have a second child soon.

We dropped the Barfmaster at doggie daycare, then Mama and 3B dropped me at work before heading to Auntie H's place, where they spent the day with Auntie H and her son J, who is 3B's best friend. Of course, since 3B was in a strange place, he slept for an hour.

Since he had refused his nap on Monday and was going to Mrs. K's the next day, where he only sleeps for an hour in his highchair after lunch, we knew this meant that there'd be no sleep 'til Brooklyn. Or the weekend, whichever came first.


What goes down must come up

That night, I threw out everything in our fridge and then went shopping so Mama could attempt to catch up on the work she missed on insomniac Monday and nomadic Tuesday. While I was looking for pasta sauce, my phone rang.

"Everything's fine, but how much salt do I give Barky to make him barf?" Mama asked ... Plus ca change ...

While Mama was in the back room, Barky broke into the food bag Mama took to Auntie H's and ate a box of raisins and a package of tofu pups.

Mama had to hang up while she got the salt down Barky's gullet. By the time I called back, the mutt still hadn't barfed. However, my timing was good, so as I picked out eggs and milk, I got to listen to Barky hork out the contents of his stomach into our bathtub. And then I got to listen to Mama's description of it and what it felt like to pick up and wipe up and...

I don't recall what minor, oh-so-slight suggestion I made at this point, but I do remember that Mama replied that what she had just done was "f'ing genius" and that all she wanted to hear from me was "you're a genius" and "thank you very much for saving us from another night at the vet."

Have I mentioned that Mama recently pointed out that "f'ing" is her new favorite word? When she said this, I told her that I thought, from my vantage point, that perhaps "m'er-f'er" was. And no, I'm not abbreviating here--that's exactly how she says them, because, you know, 3B's all ears now. I can't wait for him to ask for "some more f'in milk, m'er-f'er."

So long as it's grammatically correct and it doesn't cause Barky to barf when 3B says it, I'll probably cheer for him.

But I digress.


At least there was no consumption, sword or mildew

The rest of the week was a blur until Friday morning, when it became a fever dream, complete with a head-roasting, silver-bullet sweat inducing fever. Of, course this was the Friday morning that I was on daddy duty for Mama while she hosted her monthly project call.

M'er-f'er.

I rallied myself, my fever, and my swollen, throbbing, burning-like-it-was-a-pilot-light-in-my-throat gland--the left one, thanks for asking...not sure why that one's always more susceptible, but it is, like a little burning canary in the coal mine that is my throat--and headed off to music class at our local coffee shop with 3B, where we met Auntie H and J.

So, if next week, there's been a laryngitis outbreak and nobody can sing, I guess that's on me, but I did try to breathe as little as possible while I was there.

The class is a good time--toddlers clapping, stomping, banging instruments, throwing scarves, parents singing sotto voce, and everyone getting earworms stuck in their heads. Seriously, if you open my grave five years after I'm gone, you'll hear Old King Cole come rolling up out of my coffin.

On the upside, they do use tracks from one of the They Might Be Giants discs we have, which 3B really connected with in class. Hopefully, he continue to groove on that song and their other songs at home. Those are earworms we can live with.

By the end of class, however, it was pretty difficult to live with my fever, so I brought 3B back to Mama, called in sick and crashed into our bed to sweat and sleep the day away. And that's pretty much how I spent the weekend. My head felt like it was in a pizza oven and my body felt as if it was encased in a block of ice...and that never turns out well.

It doesn't help that I'm, like many guys, a drama queen about illness, but I still stand by my initial diagnosis that I had a hemorrhagic fever.

By Sunday morning, I was well enough to get up at 6 with 3B and get his help unwrapping my Father's Day gift. I can't show it to you, but I can show you what it does, and through that you can see what we did with our morning, which managed to exhaust me by 11 a.m. After nap time, we went swimming in our pool, which was like bath water.

3B loved the water and loved the lifeguard, who he flirted shamelessly with. His best pickup line so far, delivered all of two feet from the lifeguard, while pointing at her: Want to talk to that woman.

I don't think it mattered what he said, she was won over immediately, and flirted shamelessly back at 3B, who countered with demonstrations of his jumping prowess and his mastery of Wheels on the Bus and Pop Goes the Weasel. Mama and I both rolled our eyes at him...goes straight for the blond Russian lifeguard. I guess we should cut back on the Beach Boys tracks, eh?

After that, I was exhausted again, but I wasn't the only one, so we all crashed for a long summer's nap.

So what?

So, now it's Tuesday of a whole new week, the fever is gone now, and the burning ember that was formerly that gland on the left in my throat is slowly cooling off and shrinking.

After everything that happened, the hardest part of this last week was walking out to go to work on Monday, leaving Mama and 3B behind. 3B now knows enough to say, "Daddy goes to work now." But he also knows how to express himself well enough to say, "Want Daddy to stay home."

It sucks to hear that in the morning, but as I trudged up the hill in the rain last night, Mama carried 3B out on to the balcony to wave. The feelings I had hearing 3B call down from the balcony, "Daddy come home" were only surpassed by the feelings I had seeing 3B come running down the hall to greet me as I stepped off the elevator.

What long week? There's only now.



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Monday, June 09, 2008

Screwing around with the Gray Lady

To many spouses, “married sex” may sound like an oxymoron. And “married-with-children sex” may sound like that elusive antimatter.
Probably every couple with children, particularly those with small children that saw this article about two couples that knocked boots every night for over 100 nights read it. That is, of course, if they had time between diaper change, breakfast, playground, snack, diaper change, lunch, nap time, dog walk, diaper change, story time, playground, dinner...you get the idea.

What cracks me up in this Indiana Jones vs. Sex and the City era, in which we're unmoored from our traditional gender identities and yet as essentialized as ever, is that it was the guy who bailed. Then again, I would too, if shagging was going to make me barf. 'Cause really, who wants to have their stomach doing flip-flops when it's business time?
Annie even forced her husband to have sex during a bout of vertigo. “I’m not a quitter,’ she said. “The night he had vertigo, I said, ‘I’m sorry, guy, but you’ve got to keep going.’ ”

Doug said in an interview that on their 101st day, he felt “sort of like you had some long-forgotten appointment to hear some tax attorney talk about estate planning.”

This reminds me of an old joke about a woman going on a cruise who buys birth control pills and Dramamine at the same time. Ask me about it some time.



Full disclosure before I get into this one: Ben Stein is to me as squirrels are to Barky. I want to chase that fuzzy little rat up a tree, and maybe even take a piece out of his ass when I do, and every time I see him, I end up barking and complaining.

Yet, for some reason, I read his column. I suppose that's because I believe that anyone who only listens to like-minded people becomes dull and boorishly brash, believing eventually that the world does work the way they believe it to, up to the point that they believe they control the sun, moon and stars, or at the very least, the truth. Yes, Fox News, I'm looking at you.

And so it's no surprise that even Stein's Father's Day column rankled me.

I guess it was his attempt to be all, like, cat's in the cradle, I know why the caged boy sings, and all that crap. However, his belief that kids should take a break from all their self-righteous, self-absorbed pursuits and recognize the sacrifices of their parents strikes me as a bit self-righteous and self-absorbed.

Trust me when I say I know what it's like to wish I could say a few last words to a lost parent, but I would never want to jerk 3B out of that time in his life when he's supposed to be self-righteous, self-absorbed and, yes, a little grating at times (or, if he's like me, downright galling), snap his head around and force him to face adulthood.

Let them be kids, Stein. And if you can't stand it, leave them alone. Sure, I teach 3B to say, "thank you" and "I'm sorry," but I don't expect him to understand what he's saying and really mean it until he's much older. I just want him to have the vocabulary for his feelings when they come along. If he doesn't say that he's sorry now, he's being honest. He's either not sorry or doesn't know what the word is and doesn't want to blow smoke up anyone's diaper.

However, Stein, you tell kids to
Get it in your heads that if you throw away your moral duties to your parents, you are thieves. You were born on third base and your parents put you there, and you think you hit a triple. It’s not true. It’s time to give back.
We all get religion when we need it, and I expect that 3B will get this thought in his head when its time has come. To every thing there is a season, and the timing of that season is dictated not by when the Hallmark holiday falls in the calendar, but the cycles of life, which are beyond our control.



I know it's the Business section, not the front page. I know that Woodward and Bernstein wrote for the WaPo, not the Gray Lady. I know that this isn't meant to be investigative journalism, this is meant to be a puff piece.

All the same, are you fucking kidding me?

This article
profiles the rocketship rise of America's Best Value Inn without detailing how the rocketship is nothing but a worn, stained, bacteria-laden vessel that's full of cigarette burns and smells that remind you that sour milk triggers your gag reflex, covered in a carpet that reminds you that certain parasites enter through the soles of your feet, so it's better to just wear your shoes to bed because in the middle of the night, when you break out in a prickly heat rash and jump out of bed, you don't want some worm burrowing into your toes.

Nonetheless, when you write about a business that's suddenly growing by leaps and bounds, like say, the junk bonds market, or the booming real estate market, or a horrifying hotel chain, you might want to check your facts. Or maybe even spend a few nights in a few of the places...that is, unless you're scared to.

And if that's the case, maybe you should write about that instead.



OK, gotta go now. I'm sure you want to hear more of my opinions...I'm not surprised...but I'm quite sleepy.



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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Veni, vidi, Mickey

Who needs to go to Disney World now that you can tour the whole joint from your keyboard? As you know, I needed to go for a work seminar, which is moderately ironic, since my work focuses on creating online work environments for a geographically distributed organization. So yes, to learn how to better do that, all of us online geeks had to meet face-to-face.

While you're self-righteously smirking about that, enjoy this, which is kind of an online, virtual fly through of Disney World, face-to-face with the Bradsteins...




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Holy crap, it's hot! [Update: And scary and windy]

We got this email this morning from our fair city.

Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Watch in Effect This Weekend through Monday
Heat Indices Between 105° and 110° Anticipated

The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for until 8 p.m. today, and an Excessive Heat Watch from Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon for the city. Temperatures are expected to reach the middle and upper 90s each day. The hot temperatures, combined with high humidity, will cause heat indices to approach 105 degrees Saturday afternoon; head indices for Sunday and Monday may approach 110 degrees.

I lived in Palm Springs for a number of years. Although I was a snowbird, I did endure several days over 110. The hottest was around 120. That's the kind of heat that, as one person observed, causes people to require oven mitts to handle their steering wheel. I learned not to keep my car keys in my pocket, because on those days, when I took them from the ignition and put them in my pocket, they would leave a key-shaped burn on my leg.

But that was tolerable compared to this.

On the upside: free sauna for everyone, everywhere, all day. And it's heated up our pool, so it's pure bliss to float in.

UPDATE: This just came in...
The National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement for the city and the surrounding region, warning of strong thunderstorms through this evening. Storms in the area have the potential for hail and winds over 50 mph.
This and the flashes out the window explain why Barky is now huddled under the table lying on our feet.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Who would you kick out of play group?

It takes me all week to read the Sunday NYTimes, so I'm just getting through the magazine. I love the Ethicist column by Randy Cohen and this week's first question is a great one for parents because it touches on one of those parenting religion debates.

You know those debates...

...pit bulls vs. police
...circumcised vs. uncut
...bugaboo vs. tasteless hack parents
This question centers around the vaccinate vs. polio isn't so bad debate.

Can you tell which side I come down on?

Anyway, check it out and then tell me...who would you kick out of playgroup?

The unvaccinated? The parents with the Snug Ride clipped into the Snap N Go? The circumcised? The pit bull?

I would kick a kid out of playgroup for...










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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Transitions are hard, part 4

The immense majority of human biographies are a gray transit between domestic spasm and oblivion.
--George Steiner

Years ago, when I worked a summer as a front desk clerk in a Glacier Park hotel, I realized that the first thing everyone packs when they go on vacation is themselves. What I didn't realize at the time is that every parent brings their child with them as well, even if their child isn't physically with them. And that I carry ghosts with me wherever I go.

For us Bradsteins, during all of our recent travels, having ourselves with us has been the only constant, which means that all of our patterns were rolled like dice in a rock tumbler for the last month. 3B's sleep habits were certainly tossed around.

He flew to Vermont, where he had to sleep in a Pack N Play, which he promptly climbed out of. (The week before the trip, Mrs. K was so caught up in updating me on 3B's new linguistic tricks that she had forgotten to tell me that he had done the same with her.) But Mama was there to put him down every night. That is, until Mama joined me for the wedding in NYC, which is why Mama and Grammy tag-teamed putting 3B down in VT.

And then 3B was back home with us for a night before jetting off to DisneyWorld, where he again validated his sometimes moniker, Houdini, and so ended up sleeping in bed with us for over half a week. Back at home, we had Grammy put him down that first night since she would be doing that for the next week while Mama and I were in Brussels. After that week, we again returned and then Grammy left a day later.

It's no wonder then that 3B's been discombobulated and needy at bedtime.

Hell, I was discombobulated and needy at bedtime for awhile there too, which hasn't made it easier for me to figure out with Mama how we're going to get 3B back on track. We know that, to a certain extent, it will just take time for his sleep patterns to sort themselves out, but rather than being up with him until 10 every night until they do, we're trying to find ways to help him find his rhythm again.

In the midst of our travels, however, it was a different story. The one night we were back home from DisneyWorld before Mama and I headed to Brussels was also the first night in more than half a week during which 3B slept alone in his crib. So, I didn't hesitate to go in and comfort him when he was crying out from his crib for a hug, and it was there that I found myself facing my father's ghost.

Although 3B has never explicitly responded to back rubs, I still rub his back at times like this. It's part instinct, part habit, I suppose--my family was always big on back rubs and back scratches when I was a kid. And this is what we do as parents, isn't it? Pass on our reflexes. After holding 3B for awhile, rubbing his back, I slowly stopped rubbing in preparation for returning him to his crib.

As soon as I stopped, however, 3B twisted his arm around to my hand on his back, moved my hand up and down on his back and said, "Want daddy to keep rubbing your back." And suddenly I was back on my parent's bed on a Saturday morning, after a sourdough pancake breakfast, lying on my stomach, feeling Dad's dry, rough-skinned hands rubbing my back, hoping he would never stop.

As I resumed stroking 3B's back, I knew why Dad had given such long back rubs. There's just no feeling like that of comforting my son with a simple touch. Of letting him know that I'm with him. Of letting him know that I love him. In that moment, I realized that I was likely feeling the same depth of complete love for 3B that my father had for me, and had I not been holding 3B, soothing him to sleep, I likely would have slumped to the floor under the weight of that feeling.

I've had this feeling before, because 3B looks so much like I did as a child. Sometimes when I view video of him, I flush with emotion, and it seems as though I'm feeling for 3B the love my mother must have felt for me. It feels almost as if I've ceased breathing for several minutes. As though I'm floating outside of this life.

Even to contemplate that someone could have once loved me as wholly as I love 3B--as if he were the eyes in my face, the fingers on my hands, the air in my lungs that brings me life--is deeply moving and humbling. It reminds me that, because I cannot be touched by someone without also touching them, I don't only carry myself, Mama, and 3B wherever I go, but that I also carry Mom and Dad with me. It reminds me that my love for 3B is wholly unconditional which is empowering--I could hold him and rub his back all night, if that's what he needed--and terrifying--I would do whatever it takes to make him happy, no matter what it requires of me.

This is why I'm more than willing to take the time to let 3B find his own way back home to his comfortable rhythms, to the long, slow breath of sleep.



Sunday morning


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Monday, June 02, 2008

Transitions are hard, part 3

“Only he who can view his own past as an abortion sprung from compulsion and need can use it to full advantage in the present. For what one has lived is at best comparable to a beautiful statue which has had all its limbs knocked off in transit, and now yields nothing but the precious block out of which the image of one's future must be hewn.”
--Walter Benjamin

Before we get to gaufres...

Lunch
and frites...

Heaven
and Mannekin Pis...

Manakin Pis
...and the rest of Brussels, I wanted to step back a bit and amend my comments about the Magic Kingdom,lest I be seen as looking a gift mouse in the mouth.

Not only does the magic mouse make it easy to get to their hotel, but he also treats you well when you arrive. We were originally slated for a "garden view" room, which means "view of whatever shrubs and lawn your window happens to point at, and here's hoping it's not the hedge that screens off the dumpsters from public view."

When we arrived, however, the front desk clerk upgraded us to a room overlooking the lake, from which we could see the castle, train station, Tomorrowland, Space Mountain, and fireworks.

IMG_5171.JPG
This was a nice aesthetic improvement and an entertainment bonus for 3B, who spent a fair amount of time on the balcony watching the boats go by. Although he wasn't up late enough to see the fireworks, that doesn't mean he didn't hear them. One morning he woke up and, remembering what he'd heard in the night as well as what he'd heard at Great Grammy's farm, reported that he'd heard the hunting guns go bang.

So, props to Mickey for the customer service.

On the flip side, how is it that on an eight-hour flight to Europe, I can get two meals, seven movies, and excellent service, while on a seven hour flight to California, I can barely get a half-empty sack of stale pretzels and a sideways glance from a flight attendant?

Once we arrived in Brussels, I worked during the days while Mama was in meetings, and then we went out at night. Although the days were like most other work days for me, the nights were nice and relaxing for me. However, it was a little like work for Mama, since we were hanging with her colleagues. Fortunately, however, they're full of diverse interests and fascinating stories, like smuggling health supplies into Nigeria, producing shows on KCRW and meeting Paul Simon, and growing up in a small town in the Philippines to become the Minister of Health.

On our last day there, Mama and I did wander Brussels together. It's a pretty city that's compact, so it was easy to walk to everything.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
As I strolled along I wondered as I often do when traveling why we don't live somewhere like Brussels, where we could overlook the EU Parliment building, rather than overlooking the mall of the doomed. Then I remembered that part of the reason it seems so nice is because I don't have to worry about laundry, cleaning, taking out the trash, walking the dog, and all of the other petty distracting nuisances of home.

And hey, while we're speaking of the dog, I'd like to give a shout out to Steve and Larry for putting up with Barky through most of our travels. The first day I was in NYC before the wedding, I got a voicemail from Steve that went something like this...
"Hey guy, I don't want you to worry or anything [obviously, Steve listened to my mother who always said, "Unless you're calling to say you're dead, start off with, 'I'm OK.'"], but I'm just wondering if Barky ever gets anxious when you guys are away. Like if he ever has digestive problems. [yeah, this is going nowhere good, and it's going there fast.] Because I think that he's just nervous, but when we got home from work, he had diarrhea and he had crapped in his crate [which is actually their crate with their bedding], and then he threw up, and it looks like he had kind of runny poops when he went in the yard too..."
I'll spare you the rest of the details from what must have been a two-minute message, but suffice it to say that Barky was not the ideal house guest for the first couple of days at Steve and Larry's. I, of course, called Steve back immediately and after apologizing profusely for Barky the Voiding Wonderdog, concurred that it was probably nerves, especially since Barky was now eating somewhat normally, and since he has a long history of being a head case.

I joke that Barky's a whackjob, and yes, it has been trying to figure out and deal with his neuroses, but they're all pretty much understandable if you ignore the old saw that dogs can't remember anything for very long. Barky was picked up as a stray, and was never adopted in his six months in a shelter, where dogs were killed after six months. That just can't be a good environment to live in.

Fortunately, the shelter turned him over to a beagle rescue league, where he languished for another several months in a foster home that, granted, had plenty of room to roam, but that was also full of bigger dogs. Even if Barky doesn't remember all of this, it's left an impression on his personality, much like getting smacked in the back of the head with a shovel would leave an impression on your skull.

Despite all of this, before Steve hung up, he promised to look after Barky any other time we wanted. I suggested that he might want to see what else Barky ruined in the next 10 days before making that promise. Steve insisted that it didn't matter, that they would take care of Barky whenever we wanted.

For the record, Barky also trashed their dog crate, bending all the bars out of shape in his efforts to escape.

Whoever said that blog friends aren't real friends is a moron.



And that's pretty much our May in three blog posts. Tomorrow, the final transition...coming home...


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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Yesterday and today

Yesterday we prepared for today.

Yesterday...


Today...

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