Tag Archives: Shopping

where it’s at


Oops. Well, I forget to post here for a bit. There was way too much life happening. Some of it had to do with the increasingly wayward child, some of it had to do with deadlines (most of them self-imposed), some of it had to do with other folks. During the last month or so, we’ve had to relocate for two days so that the complex could spray for bugs (seems to have worked), I’ve finalized the cover and contents of my book. somehow finagled renewing most of my web properties despite not having enough  money to do so (I spent the money on eating out during the two days we were in the hotel), and cooked a semi-gourmet meal damn near every night.

Did see the new pulmonologist. He spewed some hope, saying that there had to be some reason why the scarring in my lungs isn’t healing, and they’re not returning to full capacity. The last guy said that to, and tried to put me on the Atkins diet to fix it.

Wrong answer. I distrust fad diets, and, though I’m sure he had his reasons for recommending that (mostly having to do with my weight), I have my own reasons not to do it. We’ll talk about willful disobedience later. though, and in another context.

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the Association Principle


No, this isn’t about the sixties pop group. It’s about the ability of a human being to create new ideas by combining two old ones. It’s about understanding the interconnection of things, and about relationships.

As strange as it may seem to some, the ability to associate needs to be taught (at least in most cases that I’ve seen). Seldom does a child come up with an example on his or her own. They have to be taught that “this” associates with “that”.

Here’s an example, from this evening’s conversation with our young one, after she had left the room and my wife and I were unable to prevent the smallest cat from eating the peanuts out of her teeny bowl of trail mix.

My wife-“Bright Eyes ate the peanuts out of your bowl. And she licked the almonds.”

The child reaches into the bowl and prepares to put some in her mouth.

Me-“You really are DeeDeeDee, aren’t you? The cat had her tongue in that bowl. You know where that tongue’s been. Why would you eat that?”

The Look…that blankly hostile look, with the jaw thrust forward, the bottom lip pouting, and the eyes ready to roll.

Me-“You don’t understand, do you?”

Child (in really small voice). “no.”

Me-“You really need to speak up (The hesitant childishness is a behavior that must have earned her cute points or something in her previous life, but doesn’t operate under her new laws). If I can’t hear you, I’ll ignore you. (I know this seems cruel, but so many of her “things” are attention-getting mechanisms that are leftover from when she was two or three years old. Stated in these terms, this gets HER attention).”

The Look softens a little. I am ON Her Side, after all. I Mean Well.

The Mrs.-“Cats lick their ass with their tongue. That’s where that tongue has been.” Aside to me-“She doesn’t “get” germs.”

“I know. Brook, do you understand about germs?”

A slightly louder No.

“Okay. Germs are invisibly small critters. The thing that made me and your grandma sick is a germ.”

That she has successfully made this association is obvious. She “gets it”. Her eyes fill with wonder as a few of the chains of association that come with this small epiphany cross her mind.

“So when the cats lick their asses, those germs are on their tongue.”

Wife-“It’s why I don’t like dogs to lick my face.”

“You see,” I say, turning to the child. “You don’t really want to eat that, do you?” An emphatic nod-NO! “Good. Go throw that out.”

“Ew,” says the child, hastening on this errand.

Precious stuff. I want to give her the universe.

It’s true. We’re trying to get her to learn to want to read. She hasn’t yet gotten it into her head that this skill gives her the universe. She thinks tv and dvds do.

It gives me a sad. She really isn’t far advanced from where she was at four, when we last saw her, in terms of her skills and her interior life. She’s been surfeited with Dora the Explorer, who is several years too young for her, and similar pablum, and bought off with a constant supply of snack crackers and candy, with the occasional ice cream and soda pop.

Ghastly. We just tell her we’re not getting things anymore. I’ll tell her we’re just going to buy water, since she’ll slip off to Circle K any chance she can get and download a 44 oz. Code Red.

When she first arrived, she had a taste for coffee. Her version has three tablespoons of sugar, about 1/4 cup of high fructose-corn-syrup-laden nondairy creamer, and 1/2 a cup of milk. A liquid truffle, more or less.

The first thing I did was cut out the sugar, after seeing how she crashes off the stuff. Want a bitchy kid? Make her vibrate in place for 20 minutes after imbibing something like that, and then watch for the crash. As soon as she yawns, try to get her to do something.

Good luck with that. She learned all of this lunacy from her mother, who is her role model, gods forfend.

While we were at the bookstore, the child stopped me in my tracks by explaining that her mother used to read to her.

Selections from “Twilight Saga”.

My knees buckled. Here we are trying to work with Black Beauty, and My Friend Flicka, and this former victim of pedophilia has been subjected to that travesty, in both book and video form.

Woof to that warp. We got her those, and a handsomely illustrated sorta Cliff’s Notes version of the Secret Garden. And a couple of jigsaw puzzles.

My wife has even gone further. She is buying the child a Kindle. One, because she’s tired of giving up her laptop so the kid can watch idiocy on Netflix, and two, to help further her education. I know how to work the controls so that she gets so much reading time, so much video time, etc.

My part was in picking up a recorder, a set of small drumsticks, and a pitch-pipe. She wants a Hannah Montana guitar for her birthday. I’m going to try to change that to something that will last a bit longer and cost less, just in case she tires of it. I’m about 90% certain that it will, and then it’ll pass to me. I’d just as soon not have to refinish the thing.

I’ve begun playing things like Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young video content for her, just adding them to her daily audiovisual diet, in the hopes that she’ll retain that association when we begin to try to find her musical horizon.

I know that she has excellent pitch from her happy-girl warbling, and I can work with that. She wants to learn guitar and piano…but she really doesn’t understand how hard it is to be good at playing a musical instrument.. She’s never had to work for or toward anything. So it’ll be a matter of not letting her frustration cancel out her talent.

She loves my song “Blutopia”. That one’s easy enough to teach her. I have lots of sheet music and tab books.

That’s the plan.

This weekend, I’m finally feeling well enough to maneuver the various boxes and instruments and equipment from one room to another, and she’ll have her own room by Monday night. Her and the bunnies.

Then I can get myself resettled and get back to work. It’s been a long time comin’-I can’t wait. My workday is cut down by an hour on each side, because of the child’s schedule. I’ll only be able to swing 3 hours writing/3 musical…but at least I have that, and can be productive under that arc.

A short story a week and a song every two is the aim. I’ll put them up here, at least temporarily, when they’re done. The first ones will be next weekend. I have three instrumental tracks and two short stories/articles justaboutthere.

Then, with any luck at all, I’ll have some things featuring the kid. I’m out looking for tambo, maracas, wood flutes, anything that’s cheap and will make noise, and I’ll drag out my acoustic instruments and usb drumkit. Perfect timing as the arthritis has been letting up and the pain in my shoulder isn’t as bad as it has been. I need practice at any rate.

And nothing teaches discipline and confidence like making music. I look forward to it. I hope we can get the Mrs. to play too.

 

Metaphysical Wet Willie


Every so often the universe gives you a poke, says “Hi! You’re it!” You’re about to have one of those days.

You know what I’m talking about. You rip your sock while pulling it on, lock yourself out of the house, knock things over for no reason. You’re two days late and four dollars short and the coffee tastes like bleach or blech.

The universe gives you a metaphysical wet willie just to remind you that it’s around.

I had one of those days today.

It started innocently enough. I awoke, saw the girls off to school and work, and sat waiting for the oxygen tank delivery man. The oxygen tank delivery company isn’t very good at communicating when they might arrive. Typically the new tanks come at around 2 pm, on alternate Thursdays, because I only call every two weeks, and they only deliver on Thursday in this zip code.

There was this huge bulge at the top of the birdcage. That meant that I had to get up from my doze and investigate. That can be bad news sometimes, the getting up thing. I have a couple aches and pains, and the meds hadn’t kicked in yet.

I put my glasses on and approached the birdcage, which is about five feet tall and three wide. I gingerly lifted the outer and inner coverings, to reveal a large orange cat sleeping contentedly atop the cage, his weirdly crooked tail draped over the bars.

Hard to believe the birds didn’t cause a ruckus and wake me up. But okay, I knew what the hump was. I let him sleep. He doesn’t really bother the birds. Ladybird wouldn’t allow that.

I went and fixed me a cuppa, and sat back down, leaned back, and grooved to a 70s game show for a bit, the pain meds starting to creep in around the edges. I had a couple of puffs to help that happen.

Started drifting off. My sore-for-no-apparent-reason shoulder stopped hurting. I got floaty.

The phone rang.

I had to get up and get it. I brought it back with me, just in case. I answered it.

“Do your homeowner’s bills got you down?”

I hung up. “We rent,” I muttered to the air.

I sat down again, in my plush black leather recliner. I sipped just a little coffee, dropped the tv volume down a notch. The birds were still reasonably quiet. I had a puff or two.

Developed a kink in my neck. That made my left arm hurt, really sharp and somewhere around the rotator cuff. Hurt right down into my fingers. I have a pinched nerve or something. It had been hurting most of the night, most of the last two days, and for a stretch before that. I keep forgetting to call the doc because life gets busy even if you’re sitting quietly by yourself sometimes.

I shrugged and called in the reinforcements. Four ibuprofen and a percocet. Another atavan. I was damn tired and was gonna get a little rest. By now it was almost nine.

“Just another couple of hours,” I begged.

I drifted off presently. I was the last man in the universe, sitting in my chair.

A knock came at the door.

My therapist.

Hooray.

We talked in a directionless sort of fashion for an hour, just having a conversation with no real subject guidance. That was actually okay, but I’d rather have been sleeping.

I sucked down another coffee while this was going on, to keep myself engaged. So, by the time he left, I was wide awake, but still muzzy around the edges.

I decided to get some lunch, maybe an omelet. Rinsed off the dinner dishes, put them in the dishwasher, ran the machine, went back and sat down.

Started editing a recent manuscript, forgot about lunch. Finished about one, when the oxygen man finally called to say he was in the area.

Didn’t save the edit.

While I was moving the fourteen tanks out onto the stoop, the cats turned off the computer.

That was all before the girlchild came home.

Bratty doesn’t begin to describe her bahavior. She was willfully disobedient from the git-go. It took two and a half hours to make five flash cards with the words “Respect“, “Cooperation”, “Effort”, “Responsibility” and “Patience” on them.

Four of the cards had no lines drawn on them. I drew lines so that she could print on them. Unlined cards were just right out.

She “forgot” what the actual assignment was. She drew a box around “Respect” for no reason that she could tell me, putting on the pouty face and fidgeting instead.

When I opened the dishwasher to get a glass, she said “Are those dishes fully clean?” In a sardonic tone, as if she were eating from food-encrusted dishes all of the time.

This led to a discussion of what “respect” meant, in her words, with many attempts to change the subject or play with the cat or do anything other than learn.

Finally done with the first card, she wrote the second. Asked what the definition of “patience” was, she replied that it was “being patient”. This of course led to conversation, with examples, and finally to some sort of understanding on her part. It dragged on so long I started making dinner, Sloppy Joe and hand-cut fries, quick and easy.

After we finished the cards, she took a break, talked to the rabbits for a bit, and then we tried to read.

Utter disaster. She refused to sound out words, instead trying to tell me that she grew jealous when my wife and I would talk to each other while she was watching one of her Disney or Nick shows. That she felt ignored because we weren’t paying attention to her 24/7.

So completely, unfathomably, immature that I put her in the corner, which I hate to do. But it’s the only thing that’s effective. She cried big crocodile tears too.

I released her just before my wife came home, so she wouldn’t be squished in the door.

The food was on the table. We had no food-time war. The child piled sloppy joe on half of a bun, got a tablespoon of vegetables, wolfed it down, put her plate in the sink, and went to wash her hands.

The chip on her shoulder just got bigger as the night went on. More time in the corner, more crocodile tears, more pouty.

Two steps back for every step forward, it seems sometimes.

At the end of the day, I relaxed to some music. Probably up too late, but what are ya gonna do?

Here’s a selection of my things:

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