Monday, December 26, 2005

Dirty laundry

is what you haul home with you after being "home for Christmas" with your family.

How many outfits were trotted out in four days' time?

I guess you had to be there to know.

I'm not one to wash it here. (Notice, no photo?)

So. . .

May all your Christmases be as white as a white linen tablecloth under a nice plate of cookies (or whatever suits thy fancy), and may all the year's sins be forgiven and forgotten as next Saturday night turns to Sunday morning of the Saturnalian post-solstice end-of-calendar flip.

(Did you hear a jingle? Just the sound of a Salvation Army kettle dashing into a getaway car by the hands of a "rich man, poor man, begger man, thief!"?

(Is it "begger-man" or is it "baker man," as I used to sing in grade school?))

No matter, just leave your donations, silver, gold, verbal, here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Solstice Cheer

What's wrong with this picture?
I can only presume that this man really had to get across the street and get to Grand Slam Liquors before the sun set on this shortest day of the year. Or, he was trying to be hit by 10 a.m. Wednesday downtown traffic and just wanted to test drivers' reflexes.
Or, he feels entitled to roll wherever he damned well pleases.
Happy winter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Baudelaire wrote that writing happens when one meets the desk every day, sits there in a routine manner, and just works. In her 1930s autobiography, Edith Wharton paraphrases it as "the discipline of the daily task, that inscrutable 'inspiration of the writing table.'"

She was speaking of her first novel, "The House of Mirth," and about how the publisher switched up her deadlines to accomodate some other slacker writer.

"I had expected to devote another year or eighteen months to the task, instead of which I was asked to be ready within six months; and nothing short of 'the hand of God' must be suffered to interrupt my labors, since my first chapters would already be in print!" (The novel was serialized by Scribner's Magazine.)

So, should we be daring and toss about resolutions? Tomorrow, after all, is the beginning of the new year of the planet. Everyone I know has headaches, and personally, if I could slip away and hibernate, I would. I never woke up all day, but the festivities of the coming weekend mean that "no, you can't slack now; think of the upcoming time off," and that I'll be zombie-t. in the grocery store tonight.

However, yes, work equals works - unless one is "at work," in which case, work equals distractions and/or blogs of no lasting import.

After all, a blog is no novel or autobiography or social commentary-nonfiction book.

"This post is too long." "This post is too short." "This post is juuuuust right."

Right on.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My car is bleeding to death

and it's never washed and was "born in" 1991 and is obviously something I do not love, ever.

I feel guilty in a personally-responsible way for wasting all this oil, slowly leeching it to the storm sewers. But, if I get a new car, someone will still use this old one and likely won't be paying $1,000s to seal up all the creaky leaks.

The leaks will go on.

A Toyota Camry (made with U.S. steel, I tell you what) is a quite durable machine that holds up to much abuse, though. Of course, it doesn't accelerate much faster than the average milk-cow, but point-A, point-B, no incident is my very low expectation and is continually fulfilled.

Four days (Sunday was proper and holy, no need for "St. Monday" today) of "holiday parties" has left me flakey in so many ways. Unlike canned biscuits, I do not work well dried out and with my layers falling apart.

We were around a sick baby, too. I can feel the throat issues now. Please, be mere flakiness and not anything that will add to the "must wrap, must find recipes/mix/chop/blend//////, must pack, must travel, must revel, must travel, must unpack, must go to work" funandstress which is ahead.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

This Glass House

The Kansas City Star reported today that its press building, completed in March 2004, has collected 46 busted windows. There are lots of stones to throw nearby, and in the near future, two more glass buildings will appear downtown, expanding target practice.

The Star's windows might cost $180,000 to fix.

I guess a house of glass really isn't the best home for journalists.


is for
distraction. . . .

i went to a nursing home yesterday.
i had been there before, but the experience was different.
i was there for work, to take photographs, but you see nothing here
of them.

a public- and philanthropic-money-funneler, a social service agency, if you will, was descending on a residency of 81 or 82 humans, several canines and a few avians, for a holiday act of giving. the board had discovered that 25 of the residents there had literally no one left in their personal lives.

on the good side, the place is full of loads of staff all doing something and all appearing to be continually interacting with the residents.
they care, and it's not a wretched place really.

i did not take any photographs of the people living there. i know some good photographers who could, but i do not have the guts to overtly steal people's lives.

instead am slutty and stealthy and i pretend i have observed something, and then i spit it out like this - like i did the other day when i said our moral code was inconsistent and i loathed it, not humanity - i noted the absence of all but one brave phone-comment; thanks, a., for hearing my angry song. : ) good freakness, where did a e-land emoticon come from?

anyway, i am genuine in my intentions. i always admit i'm a writer. people aren't forced to talk to me, after all.

besides, i was not about to intrude on the constructed moment of generosity peppered down from a board of directors who, from my knowledge of four key members, all own their own businesses, lots of property, etc. (or are bank presidents).

in their suits and ties - the red-headed real estate woman wearing a red springy spiral santa hat, of course - she always wears fabulous hats and she's in that crazy red hat/purple dress group, too - they were smiling but unfathomable as they passed out red bags brimming with red pointsettias. the bags also contained some fluffy socks and some hand-made cards from kids from three gradeschools. one gave a little speech about hoping everyone would have a good holiday with their friends and family. did he say anything about care? i don't remember because i was just watching his body language. a little quiet and stiff, like a john kerry-type. so what were they feeling?

i suspect they had as much confused-comfortlessness itching at them as i did. it was an innocuous experience, it was nothing remarkable that made you want to run away as quickly as possible, but it was a bit unsettling. i observed a person living inside a mobile chair with a cubical structure built up on it to contain. . .? another fellow was probably among the youngest there, but he was made a shape that is quite rare in our species. he, too, had a structure, a smaller and specific one, holding up his head. the skin on his forehead was abundant and so somewhat squished into it.

i said hello to everyone i passed or with whom i was able to make eye contact.

i did not talk to the board members much, but i did help the media person from the organization and a couple of the board unload the passenger van full of 90 gifts when i got there. during the entertainment, i went to the back of the greatroom where i thought i could catch a moment (i wasn't going to go to any moments, as i said), but no photographs ended up coming my way. i started to talk to this guy in a scooter, after a brief break in the off-key chorus doing some christmas songs. we shared an opinion about the quality of the entertainment, provided in good intention by a high school, but i have a suspicion his appreciation for the music was affected by the race of the singers. i say this only because later in our talk, which was about how long he had lived there (three years), where his wife was (over in the other, more intensive care building) and how long they had been married (unclear), he expressed concern for how the neighborhood had changed. he kind of even laughed.

then, he offered statistics supposedly from a church alliance as to the racial composition of the area. "in 1951, 90-something percent caucasian." take your guess, folks, as to the statistic now. . . yeah, poor (often literally) white people number only about 17 percent. boo hoo for them. (sarcasm, okay? he, on the other hand, presented it as just a set of facts that had a negative tone. i tried to tell him about the young people moving in to the neighborhood who were good, etc. and who chose to live there and liked it.)

he was difficult to engage in a meeting of minds, but i invited this man to call me or whatever in the future, in case, you know, "something happens."

i looked at the activities calendar on the way out. things that happen include piano wednesday. that's all i remember because it's the only activity i talked about with that man.

i sat down and talked to a group of three people, but one one was shy and eventually left, even though every time i looked at her in an attempt to engage her in the conversation, she would smile but not say much and be run over by another woman who was the dominant talker of the trio. they probably weren't really friends, i believe, just sitting in the same place.

that conversation was basic and unfruitful. the chatty woman, who was there recovering from a knee issue that requires operation (she's not going to do it, though), started to suggest some people living there (the names were fuzzy) i might "do stories on." "eventually, you should do them all, but they don't all stay here that long."

on my way down the hall to the exit, i got stared down by a peg-toothed walker-woman in pink sweats, who asked me if i was with the organization that had come through. i said i was just there to see it, and she told me about how her mother hated her, her husband had been dead five years, her children did not give a damn about her, and perhaps some other injustice. i told her i was sorry about that situation, asked where they lived, but she basically said "bah!" and went into how she was a ___ in world war 2 and how her mother taunted her about it, saying "you're smoking and drinking and having babies with men!"

"they think i see things, but i don't. i'm fine."

chatty woman came out into the hall and said, "she's one of the good people you should write about."

the first woman went along, and chatty woman wheeled to the lobby. we passed a cockatiel in a cage, mateless. she said they couldn't get it another mate, that it wouldn't work out. i tried to explain that i thought it would, but she was preconvinced.

she went on and named who had dogs there, and i stepped away past a row of people sitting there, a lumpy noncommunicative man with a yellow patch on his bald, otherwise mostly-healthy pink and spotted head, a woman dressed up a bit and muttering "is it dinner time?" over and over. i wasn't sure if she was talking to the man, so i didn't interrupt, but she said, "doesn't anyone hear around here?" and the woman behind the counter said loudly in her direction, "no it's 2:20. we haven't had dinner." the old woman protested that it was dark. i said it was just cloudy, but no one responded. i expected the two young men (yes, i have to say they were about the only black people in the place, there to visit or pick up their friend, also younger, but with some kind of injuries - he shouted over a little angrily to the dinner-woman that no, it was not dinner time yet) so at least acknowledge my presence as a fellow younger and non-injured or lonely alone older person. they didn't. it was weird, but i guess i'm a freak, so whatever.

i ran into the world war 2 veteran woman and she stared at me in the same shocked and owlish way and said "did you come here with __?" "no, i came to see it, i'm tracy - " "yes, we met in the hall."

i was glad she remembered, but sad because she mentioned her mother again.

she's someone who is looking for redemption, too.

i felt i didn't belong there. i left.

the sign posted on the second set of glass doors on the way out says,
"do not give the residents cigarettes,
or matches
or light their cigarettes."

is for
i guess.

Migration Day for Robins

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Above Us

I have a friend from college who used to trip over sidewalk cracks and such because she was always looking up.

It sounds like the makings of a kid's book, "the girl who had her head in the clouds," but Suzette has always been quite grounded intellectually. I don't know if she still glances skyward all the time anymore, the ground under her skies being Deutchland's and our contact's having been broken for about three years (to my regret; Google, etc. have not been helpful so far). (You like my gerund, you like my nonparallel construction that runs that gerund right after another nonessential possessive? Getting a kick out of my parenthetical punctuation creations, too?)

Adults rarely kick back and stare at the clouds on purpose. The last time I remember lying down to watch the sky was during the 2001 annual fall meteor showers.

Babies watch the sky from their carseats all the time, and I enjoy a good "you drive me" experience, too. The land-fields and sky-field attached to Missouri's major east-west/west-east thoroughfare are not spectacular views, though, so when we drive home (eastward) next weekend, I don't have much to look forward to those four hours besides the counting of birds of prey.

There is also the counting of X's, for Missouri's Interstate 70 is home to a number of lovely places such as the Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch. Recent legislation has reduced the number of "you're almost there" billboards, and now, the lonely trucker runs the terrible risk of missing CDL-discount announcements and only has a few miles to consider each Adult Toy and Video and/or LIVE GIRLS establishment before pulling off, so to speak.

Anyway, they are always done in boring, block lettered fonts in flashy black, white, bright green, pink, etc., these billboards that share air-space with a huge M - I - Z - Z - O - U series, a Behlman or something car dealership series, the "Feeling Sick, Think It Might Be Something You Ate?" one, some radio station ads, a few funeral home "don't drink and drive" ones, and obviously nothing that I have ever enjoyed reading. For a while, we had the God series, the white-on-black one-liners like, "Don't make me come down there," or, "That 'love thy neighbor' thing, I wasn't kidding."

God never commented on the Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

C-RIP, Tookie (Sweet Dreams?)

"Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption."

Gov. Schwarzenegger "wrote" that through his speech- and letter-makers (legal staff) about a man whose death was the first thing I thought about when I woke up at 1:30 a.m. I wake up frequently at night, gratuitous personal fact, and I have an annoying repertoire of disturbing and dream-deferred-themed dreams. Much violence, much virtue, always high stakes and occasionally animals that talk to me as they threaten. Yup, I live in a strange underworld, but it's looking more and more just a reflection of the waking one we inhabit together.

After all, "America, F*#K yeah!"

The governor, an immigrant, executive of a hulking state filled with immigrants and wealth, let a war criminal of sorts die because he refused to admit to his crimes. He said that no apology meant no redemption.

Did he also mean that without "redemption," Mr. Williams was to suffer judgement by men for his four homicides? Men, I thought, were supposed to leave that up to God and to stick by the old-school "Thou shalt not kill." I don't recall footnotes on the tablets, nor seeing any additions such as "except when it's a war" or "unless you know they killed someone first."

Captial punishment is an archaic punishment, if we are to believe in the majority of world governments. ExPres. Hussein is refusing to submit to trial, too, to guilt.

Will he be executed?

This is a summary of what's happened to MrGen. Pinochet so far:

• 1973 General Augusto Pinochet ousts elected socialist leader Salvador Allende in a CIA-sponsored military coup and rules with an iron fist. Some 3,000 Left-wing militants "disappear" and thousands more are tortured.

• 1988 Pinochet loses a referendum on whether he should remain in power.

• 1990 He steps down as head of state but remains army commander-in-chief and is later made a senator for life.

• 1998 Pinochet is arrested in Britain at the request of Spain on murder charges but he is allowed to return to Chile on the grounds of poor health.

• 2005 (November). He is placed under house arrest in Santiago over allegations of tax evasion and corruption over accounts held abroad. Court-appointed doctors declare him fit to stand trial.

So. . . .

Are we trying to prove that our society up here in the United States of America is so much more orderly then, if we are so pungently cracking down on people who create illegal companies like gangs. Gangs, as we all know, are marked by disrespect for life. They're rather hard on others' property, too. You can fill up a whole afternoon cruising streets in Northeast photographing gang-tags on churches, fences, businesses, the post office, monuments. Every once in a while, there is a murder. There are shootings, "drug houses," car thefts and other spin-off from businesses taking advantage of the low overhead.

Execution is all so Hamurabi (the original eye-for-an-eye code of justice), but no one gets to go steal cars from former or active car thieves. No one gets to exact discomfort on bad neighbors with violent dogs, a flock of scruffy and menacing offspring who shoot at your car and your roofers, lack proper utilities and hygiene, an illegal plumbing business, who are collecting fraudulent Medicaid payments and selling huge amounts of OxyContin to pain-pill-heads - at least not without a huge amount of neighborhood solidarity, cooperation, vigilance, police work, police work, police work, sympathetic judge, letters to the prosecutor, etc. Sure a couple of old old leechy losers are in separate prisons for a little while. Their sentence weighs in like a Snackwell cookie when balanced against the years of torment and public nuisance they've exacted on dozens of decent people - boxes and boxes of fattening, nutritionless glazed donuts.

I've listened to dozens of stories about injustice, about how petty thugs have a slippery alley through the Jackson County court system, about how expensive it gets to keep repairing, replacing, refortifying, and how insecure common everyday life becomes. At least in perception.

In Wendy Kaminer's 1995 book "It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture," chapter 4 is about how Americans perceive the death penalty.

"Why do we execute people? Deterrence once seemed the most popular, socially acceptable justification for capital punishment. A 1973 Harris Poll showed that 76 percent of people surveyed who favored capital punishment said that it had greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment. Support for deterrence may be exaggerated by the tendency to confuse deterrence - discouraging others from committing murder - with incapacitation - disabling or destroying convicted murderers so that they can't murder again. Still, the concept of deterrence, the notion that the threat of punishment prevents people from committing crimes, has been central to the capital punishment debate.

"To people who grow up in relative order, in families and communities with fundamental rules of behavior and reasonable systems of rewards and punishments, the deterrent value of law seems obvious. (I stopped speeding after receiving a very expensive traffic ticket.) For people who grow up in anarchy and violence, in worlds which rewards are sparse and punishment arbitrary and harsh, the deterrent value of law can be minimal. Most of my legal aid clients did not appear to be people who thought through and weighed the legal costs of their crimes. They tended to be short-term thinkers, for whom the very concept of deterrence seemed irrelevant. The prospect of punishment also has little deterrent effect on violent offenders who lack the will or capacity to control their actions or on arrogant offenders who deem themselves above the law. (Richard Nixon probably never imagined that his own tapes would be used against him.). . .

"Still, in the 1970s, deterrence seemed a more respectable reason for supporting the death penalty than retribution, a sentencing goal that can be hard to distinguish from revenge. Today, our culture is laced with the desire for revenge, and retribution is becoming eminently respectable. Some proponents of capital punishment contend it is necessary to stave off vigilantism.

"The desire for revenge or retribution also seems stronger than any practical concern about the death penalty's excessive costs. It is considerably more expensive than life imprisonment. (There's relatively little debate about that, although supporters of the death penalty may blame the costs on the appeals process, which they'd like to eliminate.) According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Texas spends an estimated $2.3 million on every capital case, about three times the cost of a forty-year sentence to a maximum security prison. Florida spends some $3.2 million for each execution. In California, capital trials are said to be six times as expensive as non-capital murder trials."

Oh, the pain-pill-sellers are never going to have to pay back the state (ie: me, taxpaying chump) for the money they stole by lying about their assets, either. I was there in court that day when the sentencing judge said as much. In so many words, she said she knew they were too poor to pay the $700,000 back, but that she felt there was still a need to punish them for stealing. She seemed to think that they took what legitimately they needed. This trial was only for the Medicaid fraud, not the drug charges, which never solidified.

These people, they had more than I do (or forsee on the near horizon: a self-owned domicile, an untaxed profitable business, plus another income-generating property, free drugs, etc.). We are of the same race. I seem to be paying for their beds and meals and medical care in prison now, too. Little has changed, except maybe for the people who own houses next door and nearby. I hear that the offspring still have some hold, however, and the sentences were for less than two years' time.

Since the country is "ProLife" and all, I am quite confused about why I have to know about the exact moment someone specific is being killed. I cringed as much over the beheadings exacted on foreign journalists, businessmen and military captured in the Arab-extremist world. Were you pleased to see those repeated on television? What would we do if our regular lethal injections were televised or at least photographed for the T.V. news?

Our collective knowing that someone is experiencing death, a great unknown, dying in a disgrace at a specific moment in time is like the whole country having an abortion together.

You're sitting there and you're admitting to taking out some person who is a nuisance.

Yes, yes, fetuses are innocent, Tookie is a murderer, and so are abortionists, etc.

All children are innocent until they tumble into a messy family in a messy neighborhood and have messy, misdirected interests that are not abated by a messy school in a messy "village" where I am just like 99 percent of you in that I don't give a damn about children, as evidenced by my behavior.

When I encounter them, I am in love and I shower respect. They are brilliant, people who are younger than I. I never seek them out, and mostly I pity them and regret their parents' "decisions." I do not "mentor" anyone on purpose or accept invitations to be the assistant coach of a grade-school basketball team. I don't go volunteering my "knowledge" to the high schoolers who have a fledgling newspaper.

I write of their interests sometimes. I advocate for their care and I advocate for their overall reduction (from the bottom up, not the way we have it now, with the killing of teenagers and the kicking and duct-taping of little ones).

Yup, we neglect kids as much as people complain about our aborting thousands of them every day, and we support war and the killing of murderers wholeheartedly.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

P.M. PMS Example

Last night, I was one of the whiney commuters who cursed buses while feeling sorry for the people waiting for them in the cold.

It took me two hours to make a trip that can take 15 mintues. Each block took 15 minutes, in part due to buses, yes, and delivery trucks, yes, and vans and American boaty cars spinning wheels and blocking lanes on slight inclines, yes.

There is another factor.

I didn't mind at all cursing people like this fine driver of a fancy pick-up truck, who, like many other drivers downtown in the gridlock-snow wonderland just know that "natural disaster" means nothing less than anarchy, that signal lights don't matter because, whoops, maybe their cars won't stop without sliding or maybe they're afraid their cars won't go again if momentum is lost, so sure, it's totally acceptable to turn in front of other cars patiently waiting at the same damn light like I had been waiting patiently at every damned light for seven, 10, 15 light cycles, which are very short, by the way, and never fail to piss me off any time I'm traveling there (way to go, "vibrant downtown Kansas City"), and will wait again one, two or maybe even three more times after they got in my way.

Sigh. Things like this don't bring us closer together, it brings out our looting tendencies.

Driver's education did not include a section on snow driving other than to explain how to get out of the common, oh-so-very common, fishtail.

Anyway, no one honked at anyone, which is weird, compared to what is normal in other cities.

Maybe the snow does soften some hearts.

Yeah, well:

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

(Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice," Harper's Magazine, December 1920)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Coal and Onions

This is a circa-1332 C.E./A.D. tempera painting on a piece of wood, about 2' x 5', of St. Nicholas of Myra, It is housed at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy but used to be in a the St. Procolo church. It shows him resurrecting a dead child (top) and acting as bishop of Myra, Lycia saving the people from famine by drying out and multiplying the wheat that fell into the sea (bottom).

His miracles are as mysterious as they come, for despite his popularity as a saint in Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, there is scant historical evidence. Facts stop at "was a bishop in Myra, fourth century."

They can't even decide when he died, 345 or 352 C.E./A.D.

They do seem to know he passed away on December 6.

What an honor to have people painting your life story 1,000 years after you die. And what an honor to have been transformed magically into a roaming pack-man who brings toys and such to children - not only on this day, but Christmas Eve as well.

At my Catholic grade school in the 1980s, we used to go to Mass together on this day, and some priest or maybe someone's dad would dress up in a bishop outfit and pointy hat and visit the classrooms. His mitre was dubious, his beard white and so lacking in authenticity that it looked like Kindergarteners had made it from cotton balls.

He was imposing nonetheless, and as Catholic kids, we had two semi-scary gift-bringers visiting our house in December, this guy and then Santa Claus (who, as you might guess, is kind-of based on St. Nick).

Getting up on December 6 was always chilly, always fun. Usually a school day, it was made special by the filled stockings hanging from the curlicues of the wrought-iron decorative gates in the living room. Coloring books were a staple, as was foil-wrapped chocolate candy, little wind-up toys and other little charming things to get excited over. I can get knots in my stomach just recalling the anticipation.

My mom made this holiday special for us.

Today, of course, I didn't put my shoes outside the door, and while there are loads of socks (it seems to a wife) dotted all over the household landscape, none were filled this morning with treats.

My compensation: going to Walgreen's on my way to work and buying a bag of almonds and 100 grams of 70%-cacao chocolate.

Part of the whole St. Nicholas Day at Catholic school was the sacrifice of a toy. All students were more-than-gently-encouraged to bring in a used, still-nice toy to offer up during Mass "for poor children." Part of the whole Catholic thing is to make kids feel guilty for what they have, and it was implied that we were "so much more fortunate" and should bring something we actually kind-of liked to give away.

I still remember two items. Having parted with them still makes me materialistically sad, or maybe it's just nostalgia.

It could be post-modern Ebay regret. . .

1. My Sesame Street playhouse, a Little People haven for the likes of Ernie, Big Bird and even Mr. Hooper that folded open and was really just a durable plastic dollhouse modeled after the set of the CTW show. . . I miss that. It had Crayola marks on it. I did not do it; I was always very respectful of my things. This was a hand-me-down, you see, from the older girl across the street.

I remember opening it one Christmas.

I loved it, but there is a strange emotional residue associated with things you know aren't new.

Implied is that my family was not so ultra-privileged as my parish would have its demographics show. Now, of course, I delight in used things and antiques because I believe that wastefullnes is folly.

I do wonder, though, how kids who get gifts from the "Operation Santa Claus" (Della Lamb Community Services in Kansas City) or any of the numerous other charities that pop up and have folks "adopt" families for the holidays feel? They give new items for the most part - a line in the United Way guide to holiday giving goes something like "think of what you would like to receive as a gift or what you would give to a friend" - but still. It made such an impression on me.

At school, they never told us what specific St. Louis-area charity was receiving the toys we brought to church or who these faceless "poor kids" were. Fact-based me would have felt better, I think, if they had. Full circles are comforting; they let you know your efforts matter, at least in a more matter-of-fact way.

2. One year, when I was a bit too old to have toys, maybe in fifth grade, I brought in Sludge, a Dinobot brontosaurus. I always liked dinosaurs, and again, this Transformer from 20 years ago might bring me a slice of financial joy today. At any rate, it's not quite a "girl's toy," but I have a younger brother and so we were less set in that plaything gender-bias you hear about. No, he didn't have any pink things I can recall, but he did play Barbie with me as much as I played digging out the parking area and setting up a world for Matchbox cars. I think the fact that I had brought in this robot was odd to my fellow classmates, as well. I loved it, but felt guilty about loving it, since I was "too old" to care about a robot dinosaur.

At any rate, the stupid boys stole my Dinobot from the cloak room. In a flashback to the horrible day in Kindergarten when my math book was lost from the common shelf and I thought I would be behind in math forever, I had terrible visions of being in the church without a toy, conspicious in my selfishness. Panic. Church-hour approaching. Everyone would look, everyone would blame me! Priests are not understanding, and back then, there was no way I would consider staying in the pew during any "everyone gets up" processional.

The robot turned up, with much laughter, or maybe they just put it back and no one laughed. I think the boys were afraid of actually being confronted or having to talk to me or whatever. I probably told the teacher what was going on, a no-no, for sure in terms of the kids' "just trying to have fun." I don't often play along well during annoyances and injustices such as petty, temporary theft.

They all got candy canes from "St. Nick" that day, of course, not coal and onions like they should have if the world was cosmically just.

In a cosmically-just world, too, my mom wouldn't have gotten black rocks and bitter root veggies in her stocking at the age of three or six or whatever it was when her young 1950s parents were trying to prove some point about her behavior. She still remembers that strange guilty feeling.

Being Catholic is weird. . . just wait for December 8 and more exciting mysteries with saints!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ice Bucket

No bucket.
It's cold.