Tuesday, December 31, 2002
always give yourself credit for having more than your personality. accept the fact that most people don't really know you.
Sunday, December 29, 2002
christmas is over. i've always hated those christmas letters where people cap off their year for you. this year, our youngest son GREW HIS FIRST TOOTH and so-and-so finished his house project of re-tiling the bathroom. blather, babble, blah. and yet, here i am trying to some how get a grip on our past year, if for no other reason than to catalog it, to remember it in some finite sense and have it to hold. oh yeah, 2002. that year. so here's my christmas letter to you all; the one i'd like to write to everyone, but can't quite see my way around just being polite. my apologies in advance for being a total hypocrite:
we're still together as a family which is more than a lot of folks can say. lonanne and i still bitch at each other about who made the coffee last and sometimes we can barely stand the kids, but most of the time i feel love and loved. i've gotten better at letting go and allowing some of the chaos to creep in. not so manic. she still misses her dad terribly and i still have little more than a vacuum to offer. i have gotten better at just putting my hands around her and holding her. isn't that all anyone can do? i haven't finished any house projects. thomas did lose a couple of teeth. lonanne's side business of interior design is picking up. she's got more clients, more confidence. i've come around to this notion of being a writer and not a programmer. father, husband, writer in that order. or husband, father, writer. or writer-husband-father. hyphens are better for that sort of thing. i signed up for a short story course at ut. it's taught by a friend of a friend. he's published a book and is generally well-regarded. i've been told my writing needs improvement by quite a few folks and i'm not one to disregard criticism, but fuck that. i can't go out like a timid flower. so i write every day now. i don't put a lot of it up. most of it is just awful. but still, fuck the criticisms. what else? my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. she's holding up well. when i do pray, it's for her and for our family. that's it God. you listening? finally, we got a dog. his name is allister. not as in crowley. just as in a good british name for a good british dog. he's a whippet mix. very mild-mannered. and fast as lightening. he jumped our fence yesterday and tore off into our neighbor's house. a little chaos here and there to measure things out. and now, hello 2003. you better watch the fuck out. no resolutions to clean up the language either. good hard words for a good hard life.
Thursday, December 26, 2002
rudolph with your nose so bright...
I know I sound as if I've drunk too much eggnog. But after too much hype about Christmas being (in Johnny Marks' words) the year's most wonderful day, the pendulum has swung too far the other way; we've now endured about 20 years of mounting mythology about how dismal Christmas in fact is—how stressful, how depressing, how traumatizing. Christmas is now often sold as something worse than merely cynical or consumerist; it is a moment of pathological insincerity to be miserably endured (or forsaken entirely).
the atheist christmas challenge
The second argument, the argument from evil, has much more force. How can there be evil in a world presided over by an all-powerful and all-good being? Either God was willing but unable to prevent Auschwitz, or he was able but unwilling. From Leibniz down to the present this argument has been countered with tremendous subtlety, most recently by the Notre Dame philosopher Peter van Inwagen. In a trio of lectures titled "Is It Possible To Disprove the Existence of God?" that he delivered this fall at Princeton, van Inwagen gave the classic free-will explanation of the existence of evil: To ask God to give me free choice between x and y and to see to it that I chose x instead of y is to ask him to do the logically impossible.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
we went up to the mall to have the kids visit with santa. the line wasn't as long as i thought it'd be. as a parent, you become inordinately concerned with lines. lines at the grocery store. lines in traffic at a light. lines at the bank, the barber, the restaurant, the movie. it used to be a time for me to enjoy watching people. i could wait in line for hours. i wasn't particularly rushed or bothered. sometimes i'd find minor amusement in people just like me. they would be scrambling around like overgrown apes, trying to scoop up their kids. stand straight. stay by me. don't hit your brother. now i plot my daily existance around lines. i'll go to the grocery store at midnight. avoid the bank at all costs. restaurants should be fast. i'll catch myself looking throught the windows, trying to estimate the line progress per second (lps). so here we were at the mall with the minor christmas present of a short line. most of the kids were genuinely excited. the parents looked slightly dazed. the wives and some of the husbands seemed overly concerned about getting their kids to smile. our kids jump up on santa's lap and my oldest gives the fakest smile you've ever seen. i remember when i was a kid, i had the very same smile. fake all the way through to the back of my throat. i've still got photos with that smile. my parents would plead with me. "please, please, just give us a normal smile." and, of course, i'd open my mouth in this big, crooked square. i still don't really know how to smile on demand. "smile" almost instantly makes me frown. or at least scowl. so my son has inherited this malady along with all the others. great. "he's just like you," my wife says. after they hopped off, a little black girl got up on santa's lap. she looked so frail and frightened, sitting in this big fat white dude's lap. her mom was smiling till it hurt. i think she wanted this to be one of those moments. maybe it could make up for some shit. the little girl started to cry. they tried to get her to look at the camera. she just looked at her feet, tears streaming down santa's red pants. after awhile the elves took her down. i wanted to go hug the little girl. don't ever sweat the tears. they're so much better than a fake smile.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
the youth in asia
i went down to the pound to pick out a dog for christmas. don't go to the pound unless you fully intend to leave with at least 5 dogs. all strays. all with the same plaintive look. all barking. they have big letters detailing everything you need to do. A. pre-adoption screening and application processing. the world-weary girl behind the computer lectured me on not simply doing this for the cute little christmas surprise. don't knock christmas surprises, i thought to myself. they're all we got. B. adoption counseling. you drop off your paperwork and talk to a woman about the right breed for your lifestyle. is there a dog that will bite people i want it to bite? i skipped this bit and walked outside to C. viewing area. there were probably 20 or so cages in an L-shape with more cages around the back of the L. every one of those mangy creatures turned into a pure angel of hope when you walked by its cage. some of them let out a low whimper. there were boxers, labs, collies, bulldogs, shephards, all spit out into God's own mix of boxer-collies and bulldog labs. i walked around the cages twice and went back inside. jesus christ, i told the woman behind the counter. she smiled at me with the same pair of eyes that one of the dogs had. i couldn't get one that day. i have to wait until my paperwork is approved. i asked her how many of these beggars have a chance. 40% euthanasia rate, she said flatly, as if tired of all the do-gooders who walk in and then walk right out. you see one you like? she asked. all of 'em. let 'em all loose, i said. let 'em fill up the streets and clog the gutters with their piss. give one to every bum on the street. and every child who is dying in some lousy cancer ward. make 'em soldiers. teach them how to tap on keyboards like we do. we're all monkeys anyway. i've know some people that should be in here. she went back to her screen. i kept up the rant while i walked out to the parking lot, into the gray haze of our winter. like i said, don't go to the pound.
Monday, December 09, 2002
my life summed up:
start here, start now!
you could put it on my gravestone. start here, start now!
Saturday, December 07, 2002
iafsohpswwjd. take that.
the night before yesterday, there was the usual drunken, ham-fisted arguing about art and work and life and doing what you want. big subjects. i'm not sure any of us disagreed. we just wanted to be loud. to shake the walls out a bit. rob said he was going to kill me if i didn't get my shit together and write more. nadav told me i needed to submit more of my work. i know i know i know. enough talk, i kept thinking. it seems like a lot is hanging on our words, but so little ever comes from them. we're just refining the way we sound to ourselves. everything is doing. i woke up hungover with a ball of scratched records in my mouth. took my son to school. then drove rob over to at&t. he was off to mexico last night. we talked about how it seems like you've got to filter out about 90% of your day just to get by. all this talk and in the end, you've got dr. app'ts and deadlines and christmas luncheons and smoke coming out of the hood of your car. of course, we're trying to put the lie to all this. that you can live your life with eyes wide open, fully awake and seeing all the things that come at you. even slowing them down and rewinding afterwards. that these little schedules and all the responsibilities of an average American life don't have to be who you are. maybe so. it all feels like a dream to me. my youngest son is crawling on the floor. he wants me to play monster with him now.