Monthly Archives: February 2003

Humpty Dumpty

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Aimee Mann’s sublime Humpty Dumpty is running through my head this morning:
Say you were split, you were split into fragments
And none of the pieces would talk to you
Wouldn’t you want to be who you had been
Well baby I want that too
So better take the keys and drive forever
Staying won’t put these futures back together
All the perfect drugs and superheros
Wouldn’t be enough to bring me up to zero

1969?

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This morning, for reasons that cannot be explained, I was subjected to considerable quantities of Neil Young on my radio, including some unbelievable noise from Woodstock. And then when I went down for breakfast, the jug of milk I picked up at the Safe Before Dark Convenience Store was from Yasgur Farms.
They warned me about the flashbacks, but I just wouldn’t listen. Total freak-out, man!

Electricity in my mouth

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Ever forked up a giant mess of Dave’s Italian Burrito and accidentally gotten a little bit of the aluminum foil it’s wrapped in mixed in with the beans and rice, and then put it right up against a metal filling?
I have.
It’s called the dielectric effect, when two metals of different conductivity come into contact.
Don’t try it at home.

Dissed by my daughter

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Got home a little late, and everybody was already eating. Bekah asks what held me up and I said that a lot of people needed to talk to me.
“Why did they have to talk to you?”
“That’s what I do, I talk to people all day.”
“When I was in your office, there was a lot of paper. And you work on the computer.”
“Yes, I talk and I answer e-mail.”
Very seriously, she says, “You talk and you write e-mail and that’s how you make money? I don’t think so!

Mom, 1956

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Barbara, 1956Barbara in 1956, 17 years old and looking for trouble. I’ve been scanning in my grandmothers’ photo albums again. It’s so hard to imagine what our parents were like when they were young, when they were kids. My mother was a kid when she married, 18 years old; my father was 21. I only get bits and pieces of what their lives were then; it’s so hard to picture them as they were, without that parental authority. We grow up thinking our parents know what they’re doing, but who in their 20s knows what they’re doing? When they met, she worked the lunch counter at Wallace’s Department Store, he parked cars in the store’s tiny parking lot. She says that her mother tried to get them together. There’s another picture of them both at my mother’s 16th birthday party, so they knew each other for a while before they got married. But I don’t have any real sense of what those early years of their marriage were like (I came along three years later). I don’t know what they did, who their friends were; I don’t even remember where they lived before they moved to Scotia, though when I was young my mother showed me the apartment building in Schenectady a few times. But even knowing that doesn’t really tell me who they were. She was just a kid. What was she like? What was he like?
I try to tell my kids about who we were and what we did before they came along. After all, we had been married 9 years before Hannah was born. I’ve shown them where I grew up (easy enough, it was Grandma Barbara’s house until a couple of years ago), the school I went to, the river I played in, where we went to college, and all that. But it’s still hard for them to believe there was a world before them: the other night Rebekah was looking at a line of First Night buttons on the bulletin board and saw one from 1992 and said, “Wait a minute! That’s before Hannah was born!” Yes, we had a life before you little princesses came along.

Who fit the battle o’ Crown Point?

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Apparently, some class somewhere must have had an assignment on the Battle of Crown Point, because I just had the most hits I’ve ever had, and the vast majority were searches on that topic. This even beats out our big “Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin Days” celebration, about which the less said the better.
A quick message to all you little last-minute all-night cram session kids: It’s called Paypal! Click into it. Fair’s fair. Why, in my day, we had to bum a ride to the city library and beg on the streets for dimes for the copiers. I wore an onion on my belt, which was the fashion at the time….

News in brief

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Skiing: Gore, not bad, a little slushy and I was a little tired. Did a mess of diamonds, though the groves were more than I was up for.
Movie: About a Boy. Good, not as good as the book, but good. Only film in memory where I felt like many of the deleted scenes should have been left in.
Music: The Weakerthans, Left and Leaving. Canadian. Really good. Lines like
“Rely a bit too heavily
On alcohol and irony
Get clobbered on by courtesy
In love with love and lousy poetry”
Book: Summerland, by Michael Chabon. His first foray into children’s writing, but it maintains his honesty. For instance, the father of one of the characters is a drunken asshole. You don’t see a lot of that in children’s books, and you see plenty of it in life. I’m going on the assumption that he’s going to skip the obligatory homosexual encounter in this book, though. (Fathers in children’s books are either absent or buffoons. Mostly absent. Don’t get me started.)

Things blowing up

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Of course, the day I finally blow off work to go skiing would be the day when things happen. I really didn’t need to be involved in monitoring another smoke plume over New York City, though this one looks like a plain old-fashioned industrial accident. The other tragedy of the weekend, being in Rhode Island, doesn’t involve me, but I can’t believe that in this day and age 95 people can be killed by a fire in just minutes.
My first reaction, sick as it was, was to be amazed that 95 people went to see a Great White concert. I mean, really. Turns out it was more than that. I can remember any number of times when, in a sober moment, I looked around a club and wondered how fast a dropped cigarette would bring the place down. In this case, at least, it seems like the doors weren’t chained shut. As a safety strategy, chaining the doors shut hasn’t been working too well, but people keep on trying it anyway.

It’s melting! It’s melting!

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It’s 36 degrees and sunny, and things are melting at last. I would normally bitch about this because it’s going to degrade ski conditions, but my driveway is as narrow as it can possibly be, and the snowpiles are as high as they can go, and one more storm and you’d see me out there with a propane torch and a hairdryer trying to move back the glacier. (Of course, any warmth and all this moisture has sent my allergies a-sailing.)
Still may ski tomorrow afternoon. Let’s see what conditions are like. Lee got the heater in the truck fixed (warranties are good things), so I feel like I can safely trek out into the wilds. Maybe I’ll just take the whole damn day and go north. This week has been hugely stressful and my only solution is to carve.
Tonight, Hannah for the first time gets to stay up to watch ALL of “Survivor.” She loves that show. And Bekah a couple of weeks ago was playing a version of “No Boundaries” with her sister and her dolls. They get the outdoor adventure thing, which is hugely cool. When we went camping with another family this summer, Hannah carefully explained to her friend that we had all this equipment because “we are sporting enthusiasts,” which in her careful speech sounded even funnier than it reads. No idea where she picked up that phrase.
I was looking at a website last night for the Athens-to-Atlanta skate (38 or 86 miles) and thought, “I could do that.” I know I could do 38, I’ve done nearly that on skates before (though not without leaving significant portions of my left calf on a Watervliet street). But of course, it’s not quite as warm here in September as it is in Georgia. Still, it’d be nice to do…
I’m actually insane. That much is becoming clear.