When your 15 yr old daughter is with you during the Summer, you can sometimes feel that she would rather be with “mom”.  I understand that. And, although it gives a bachelor a little more time on his hands than expected – I try and embrace the opportunity.  For whatever reason, however, I’m a little on edge at the beginning of this Summer, and well, I guess my daughter is picking up on it.

After being an educator for the past 8 years there is something about this “teaching” thing, and having more time than resources; that I definitely don’t embrace.  Anyway from the time I wake up when my girl is with me, already spinning my wheels as to how to create those magic Father Daughter moments that Hollywood has assured us, lie just around every corner, Anxiety is present

Today was one of those days.  And, there was hope.  We actually did the food shopping together the yesterday, to assure that there would be things she liked to eat in the house.  As a result, I made a fresh fruit smoothies of cantelope, bannana, blue berries and a little peach yogurt, that was – “To die for…”  And, the “Teen” embraced it, as she emerged from her bed around11:15am and quickly burrowed back into her bedroom, at approximately 11:17.

It was a little after 2:00pm, when she emerged again with a question….”Can we go fishing? You know over by that boat ramp, where we always used to fish!?”  One thing that I have to say is endearing, is my observation that the the kids  seem to remember good times as something that have occurred  multiple times – whether it happened once or a dozen times!  This certainly takes the pressure off  creating a tradition over every good time ever experienced!

So, we went for the “cultural trip” to Walmart, where I knew that we could find a fairly simple, minimally priced fishing rod or a reasonable facsimile there-of.  We also found a bag of ” Dehydrated Wounded Shad” which we just had to have, complete with fake blood or something, that was supposed to make them look yummy to the lake fish… After the six pack of Coke, total cost of materials $24.00; time spent with my daughter…Priceless. – -

Cute…. You think I’m Cute!?

 

Alright, lets just set the record straight, and I’ve learned the hard way.  There is something not right about women calling a man over a certain age, let’s just say 50 …  – “Cute”.  A baby can be cute.  Almost all small animals can be said to be cute.  A Middle School boy who doesn’t yet know “Shit from Cheyanne”, but has “the smile” or something, can be cute (to the girls, that is).  All kinds of girls canbe and are cute.  However, guys with withered brows, slightly sagging jowels, lots of wrinkles around the eyes, thinning (if not worse!) hair, should not, cannot, and will not be genuinely called “Cute”!

Cute, used for someone in the stage of life whereby these attributes (among others, love handles, “pouch tummy” come to mind), by a woman… (this is strictly a hetero conversation, for the time being, whew!) is, I would argue inappropriate.

The inappropriateness is camoflouged by an otherwise endearing adjective, “Cute”.  I maintain that if a guy is being referred to as cute, in the stage of life where the above mentioned characteristics are present, then the onlooker and the giver of said compliment, is actually saying.  There is something endearing about this person, but…. “Oh, by the way, there are major flaws in this picture.”

Guys, do not be hood-winked into thinking that when one refers to you as cute, that you are home free.  This is to be understood, by only the “intellectually superior”, as  –  a left handed compliment.  Being called cute, either in writing or conversation, could be analagous to a woman saying…. “He has potential.”  It is I believe, in hindsight, the proverbial 10 ft. pole.  Calling a guy over 50 yrs old cute, leaves a huge buffer in the woman’s mind within which to find flaws – – before committing all of her feminine charms and defenses.   While leading the prey closer to the web, the prey is inspected every inch of the way for structural, emotional, character, familial, financial and frivolous flaws, that could doom any long term relationship.

Yes, and the danger of hearing such a left handed compliment from a woman, guys, is a little bit like the danger of the Mermaid Sirens of Greek Mythological Tragedy (or is it Roman?).  One may be lured into over reaching your comfort zone in order to encourage more such compliments or interactions.  Over reaching your natural appeal in nature is a sure way to “squash” your appeal in the eyes of the opposite sex.  One need not be anything more than one is, and although the excitement of romance may be on the threshold,  – we must let it come to us, rather than pursue it ;)

 

 

1 step forward 2 steps back….

Ok, Summer is here.   The goal of providing some paramaters and structure to the daily routine of my somewhat indifferent, and at the same time, very creative 15 year old daughter – – are no longer on the drawing board.  It is now a reality.  One of the projects to be undertaken was to instruct, model, and then see the fruits of my labor born,  with the routine use of the clothes washing machine.

As I began paving the way for, what- for you and me, would be the mundane task of running of a load of laundry; I knew that this would not be the case for my daughter – in her current state of mind.  This current state of mind by the way has been incubating since roughly December of 2011.  As her Dad I am thoroughly engrossed in the the “Watch” to see when the proverbial butterfly emerges, from this cocoon – encompassing a wonderful human being with a frontal lobe currently filled with, what can only be described as “scrambled eggs”.

The dialogue started something like this, Day -2 …”Honey, when you get a chance, I’d like to see you grab the clothes in your hamper, and put’em in the top of the washing machine.”  The next day, taking into account the anticipated inaction of the day before.   I subtly worked into the conversation that, “The washer is really all ready to go, so after you put your things in we can just put the soap in and away we go!…:)”  On “D-Day”… “Honey I think your hamper is full, so let’s bring the whole thing out, dump it into the washer, pour the soap in,  and run the machine (still smiling and upbeat)!”

As my patience was paying off, and I was able to remotely give the last instructions – from my post, sitting  in front of my pc, acting as nonchalant, as possible.  I relayed ” Now, honey don’t try and stuff everything in if it doesn’t fit easily… we just want the machine comfortably full – – it doesn’t like like to be jammed full…”  “How much detergent?” came the reply.  “Just up to the line in the cap!… you may have to turn the light on to see the faint line.”   Then just turn the dial to regular, and pull it out… Great Job!” (anticipatory, in Sales we’d call it an “Assumed Close” :) And, following 2 + days of cajoling, the job was done, and all were feeling quite pleased with themselves.

It was only 10 minutes later when walking into the kitchen, adjacent to the laundry room in our rather “cozy” apartment; when with my bare feet, I was startled to have stepped in a rather small, and innocuous little puddle in the middle of the floor.  I cleaned it up wondering which of the numerous water bottles, I have opened on and around kitchen counter tops (Summertime remember), I had clumsily spilled a bit of??   The washing machine is humming merrily away.  A couple of minutes later the 15 year old “yelps” “Ooh!, hey Dad, there’s a little puddle of water here, giggle.”  (referring to the same spot where I had just cleaned up my puddle!).

My mind now knowing that something is not quite right, went through it’s menu  of possible reasons… and upon further review of the evidence, which the teenager so considerately left for me, a stream of water was detected coming from under the laundry room door. “Uh, Oh…” I said.

Sure enough, my daughter had stuffed the the washer “to the Gills!” , no place for the water to go…. and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.  I will also leave you to consider just what the past 6 months living with this little adult- to be, may have been like:)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Initially, I, as other reviewers have found, felt that the title of the movie “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” had little connection, with the goings on as this  story  unfolded.  And , this may be very  true for the average viewer.  However, while others may have been in awe, at so much that was going on with our lead character, and thinking it so…. eclectic; Oskar’s seemingly random thoughts and utterances may actually help explain the thought blurbs, “extremely loud & incredibly close.”  These sensory excitations are probably part of his internal experiences during any number of situations during the movie; nay during a typical “day in the life of Oskar Shell”

Moreover, I pondered how many of the viewers of this movie wondered, just how unique or common  school kids like  “Oskar Shell”, with his sensibilities –  an amalgamation of hyper-sensory, autistic tendencies and just plain “quirkyness”, mixed with extreme intelligence – are?  I wonder whether viewers that are not immersed in an educational environment would think Oskar anything but, odd.  Then I wondered whether most educators working in mainstream, overpopulated public schools would think they had seen a child like Oskar Shell once in a year, or once in a career, or everyday.

I know what my experience is.  I work in a small progressive school with a charter for community learning and teaching the whole child.  And well, over the last 8 years we have attracted large numbers of families that have kids that are on a scale with the Oskar Shell’s of the world.  In fact I would say I see an “Oskar Shell” on an average of 2 or 3 per grade; kids with smarts off the charts but whose day to day existence is a challenge for them, their teachers and their families, given their “special” way of seeing, perceiving, hearing and just knowing the world.

Yep.  There are many more Oskar Shell’s out there – who feel that things are too close, and incredibly loud – than many people know.

Keys and the middle aged man

Keys, it is my hypothesis, are almost never where they need to be – when they need to be there.  For example: when one is climbing 3 flights of stairs with 8 bags of “super light”, “super strong”, plastic grocery bags (yes, it is 2 more than you should!), schlepping and huffing and puffing as you finally get to the door – instinctively you know that the last thing you want to do is to set them down momentarily, in order to search for your keys! Because, no matter how quickly you find said keys, you enter into the realm of pure frustration, trying to re-finagle all 16 bag handles, (something known in my family as “Idiot’s Delight”) so that you can swoop up all the bags, only to walk them the remaining 5 paces to a kitchen counter top.

However, when you reach your door – carrying 4 more bags than you should be (did I say 2 before, it’s really 4), “but the bags are so light, and so strong!…”, the key ring, seemingly carrying every key known to mankind; the ignition key, the car door key, the apt. key and  the mailbox key (in duplicate for your ex-wife, in case of emergency), door to your ex-wife’s house (child transport logistics), the unknown key, the school building key, the school bus keys 5 in all, are on three illogically joined rings with of course the plastic discount supermarket scan ‘do-hickey”, and the rubbery, plastic advertisement for some realtor or someone – that holds it all together!, is slid all the way down on to the base of your hand on the most useless of all fingers, for the divorced male, the left hand ring finger.  I am a “righty”, thank you very much, and this set of keys is all but mercilessly tangled on this useless finger, crying out for me to somehow, not only untangle the gagle of bag handles (8 I count, …yeah, I do Math too!), but to find the slightly odd shaped, almost brass colored ring and somehow get it between my pointer and thumb of the opposite hand, so that i might have enough leverage to actually insert into the lock and turn to open the “flippin'”door.

Now (long pause), this ritual has been performed dozens of times over the last several years.  However it has only recently exposed itself as the “brain stumping”, quasi paranormal phenomenon of “Key Displacement” that it is. Yes, well getting back to my hypothesis.  All sets of keys held by adults -will do their best (yes the “keys” have become a pronoun for my purposes), to be in the worst possible position for one to locate, manipulate and – all in all- efficiently utilize for daily activities -whenever possible!.  There are any number of activities in which I have anecdotally witnessed or participated in such frustration, as commonly takes place (mostly among adults) because of this phenomenon.

You doubt in this phenomenon!?… Why did someone invent the “key clapper” for key location for mature people (adults)? I got one in my stocking one Christmas.

Yes, this phenomenom exists alright and can be described best by “Something that transports, most assuredly against your will, your “clutch” of keys, from your best planned location for them, at any point in time – but usually right before you will want them -to their most inconvenient position within your immediate universe.”

Here are a couple of examples.  You have exited the car with a friend to do some shopping, and very carefully laid your keys in the little zipper insert pocket within your purse, only to find an hour and a half later as you approach your car door, and the rain is transforming from a drizzle into a “typhoon”, your keys are almost pasted to the bottom of your purse below years of facial tools, receipts, and general debris! – “Key Displacement!”

On another occassion you are riding back from the beach, commensurately sunburned, fatigued, with sand in all the wrong places, and your eyelids trying to glue closed from the salt residue of the day.  You have your windbreaker on as you exit the car (the airconditioning gave you a chill) it is still 92 in the sun, with 93% humidity, you open the trunk and lug out the towels, beach chair, the mini-flexible cooler with shoulder strap, the carry-all beach bag, with books, sunscreen, frisbee, balls etc…In your free hand you carefully place the car keys in your right windbreaker pocket.   You make a last ditch effort to leave the car as it was before your trip and scoop up two soda cans and a water bottle with what was your free – right -hand.  You make the walk away from the car, up the curb – realizing the towels and the beach chair are beginning to slip.  Instead of sticking to the walk-way you cut across the lawn, only to have your flip-flop toe…get caught in the long grass.  You almost sprawl, but catch yourself, the sweat now trickling down your sunburned shoulder blades and your windbreaker beginning to stick to your upper arms.  You feel that you can just make it, as the bathroom calls….and, up one, two, all three steps. You’re at comfort’s door, and you’re able to wedge the two cans and one bottle under your left arm-pit, so that you can get your right hand in your right windbreaker pocket – – where you so carefully put them, planning for this moment – from years of experience.  This is not the act of an 18 year old… But, alas they keys are in your left windbreaker pocket…..and you know how it goes from there.

Key Displacement”

“The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”

ImageOk, let me just say that for a Single Father of a 15 year old girl, this was a bit disturbing.  However, there were a few positive things I got out of this.  All the characerizations were great;Daniel Craig, the girl, the uncle, Harriet’s brother etc.  Howver, as a divorced father watching this alone I was struck by the description of the missing girl, Harriet.  Thank goodness she turns out “looking” well adjusted…normal, and it doesn’t hurt that she is attractive. But, about midway through the movie (darn I want to say film…shhhh, pase, pase)  Harriet is interviewed about her self and is matter-of-fact as she describes a 14-15 year old girl in Sweden, in the most F*****-** family I’ve ever heard of; and apparently if you look at the nearly – “Royal”, (and often more powerful), in any society over the course of civilization, one story can be more bizarre than the next!  

So, I’m drawn to the confusion that my daughter is going through at this very age.  And, I’m thinking that  Harriet “nails it”!    She says, “…a little withdrawn one day, wearing dark eye make-up and the tightest sweaters she can –  the next, and her head burried in the bible the next day.  She was very bright.  Some thought she would take over the family business one day.” -Whew! there’s a lot in there, I thought…

The words don’t exactly describe what I am witnessing with my own.  However, the spirit does.  The inconsistency, the unknowing, the seemingly out-of-character.  And, then to know, however, not until the end of the movie, that Harriet did turn out “normal”, was kind of my happy ending, Relief.

But how does one know how that person is going to turn out…when they’re still trying all this out.  When their body’s are changing faster than the time lapse photography of a budding Crocus, they showed us in school (circa 1970’s if you don’t remember); When they are bleaching their soft, baby fine, straight hair -into oblivion (Hiroshima of the hair comes to mind), only to add rainbow hilighting to the bangs; When they are telling mom, that they don’t know whether they are straight or not;When they are seemingly unable to pick-up their room, no let’s rephrase that – keep from trashing their room!; When they are taking school notes on paper ripped out of a spiral notebook, with no hope of ever finding an organized way of keeping them; When they are confused about their sexuality to the extent they don’t know whether they are gay or  straight; When they admit that their idol in the school is the only girl who’s tried it all – by age 16 mind you! (Rebel without a cause, sexually active, talented musician song-writer, piercings where they don’t belong, language fit for a sailor).

I just remembered that I have one of those parenting a  teenager books around here, that my older sister sent me a while back.  I thought I had read enough last year (a chapter or two…yeah, I get it, I’m hip…I got this, no problema, man) – – Not!…I gotta find that book, today.

Do you step back and loosely guide, like I a couple 2-by-4’s bracketing a “match-box-car” rambling down a hill, moving much faster than it was meant to?  Or – do you get as close as you can commenting on every nuance, asking questions with each metamorphasis that makes the catipillar butterfly thing, look like color by numbers? It’s hard to know.

I know only one thing.  You only get one chance at this thing, especially with only one kid.  And, if it doesn’t turn out “right” (whatever that is!?) it’ll be a burden, a source of anguish for the rest of my life. Oh, man it’s a lot to comprehend.

In the immortal words of Dory… “Keep on swimming, keep on swimming.”

 

 

When you are alone…

Narrator:

When you are lonely, you have time on your hands….

When you have time on your hands, you look for things to do that you ordinarily would not do…

When you do things you ordinarily would not do, you kill time in a pub, waiting for your daughter to finish babysitting, on a Thursday afternoon.

When you are Sitting in a pub on a Thursday afternoon, you talk to anyone because you are friendly….

When you talk to anyone in a pub on a Thursday afternoon because you’re friendly,  they are friendly in return….

When you are friendly in a pub on a Thursday afternoon, sometimes you have a “neon sign on your forehead that says – “Sucker”.

When you have a sign that says “Sucker” on your forehead, you get invited to meet with someone to talk about a business opportunity.

When you get invited to talk about a business opportunity by someone you haven’t seen in a year, you say yes.

When you say yes to,  hear about a business opportunity, you get up on a Saturday morning feeling productive.

When you go to  a “business opportunity” meeting  on a Saturday morning… you inadvertently pick a meeting place, where lots of people who may know you are walking buy…

When people you may know are walking buy, and you are at a business opportunity, the meeting turns out to be a “cheesy” Network Marketing opportunity.

When you realize the opportunity is a “cheesy” Network Marketing opportunity…it’s too late…

When it is too late, the presenter is in his Spiel and –  you don’t want to stop him…

When you don’t want to  stop him in the middle of his Spiel, he is speaking inappropriately loud!…

When the “cheesy”, inappropriately loud, Network Marketing presenter  is speaking , a line builds right next to the outside table you’re sitting at…

When the Spiel is too loud, and the opportunity is inappropriate, and the line builds- you are chagrinned.

When you are chagrinned, you are embarrased but you let the spiel go on, out of courtesy….. and the line gets larger and people are now looking and listening.

When all is said and done, you have wasted your time, humbled yourself, perhaps embarrassed yourself… taken a step backwards  instead of forwards, relived all the network marketing spiels you’ve been to…Amway, Arbonne, Juice Plus, ACN …..(actually only been to 2, but approached by many more…)

When you have wasted your time, been chagrinned, humbled, and perhaps embarrassed – you walk away shaking your head…. Oh, well :)