Thursday, November 26, 2009

Our Seven Wonders: Truly Thankful, Truly Blessed

Fallon Paige

Harrison Scott

Alyssa Jean

Ty Gabriel

Bailey Orrin

Gabrielle Marrae

Griffin Alan Kent

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Meet Mr. B

Today, Bailey came to our house to live full-time, capping three months of transitioning that included several drives to Winthrop where he lived with his foster family.

The state requires a transition period, during which we were able to gradually introduce ourselves to him, and him to us. He latched on immediately, began calling us Mumma and Dadda from the start, and has always called our home his own. He came to our house a few times, for overnights. And a couple of weekends.

Because of the ease with which everything has gone, we were able to speed up the transition.

He will have to live with us for six months before we can legally adopt him. A state requirement. But as far as we're concerned, he's ours now.

Corrine served a brunch for everyone - Bailey's foster family and their adopted son, who is Bailey's biological brother. Corrine's parents came, as did her brother and his family. All of our kids - except Ty - were here as well.

The coming days, following Thanksgiving break, will be a process of getting him into a school. We have a meeting with the local school district about the details on Tuesday. His is a peculiar case that needs the assistance of special education in order to meet certain developmental needs. We are treading in unfamiliar waters here. As his new advocates, there are more questions than answers. What does he really need? What should he be getting? How do we ensure that he's not treated just as a source of income for the local school district?

It's an ongoing education for us. But what isn't in life? We're ready to tackle it, that's fir sure.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Courage to Write

Corrine had a great idea yesterday. Why not turn our experiences in adoption into a short memoir? From a man's perspective - a father's point of view? Start from about a year ago when we took four weekends of classes together, and finish when B is legally ours, which would be sometime next June (if the current schedule holds.)

I loved the idea. It makes perfect sense, in fact. I'm a writer, a father, a man, and I think I could easily fill a couple hundred pages on the subject. I think people would read it, too.

Now, before you spew coffee through your noses this morning, please understand the motivation is NOT to profit off the adoption of our son. If you're a writer reading this, you're smiling. Because you know only about a half a percent of writers actually make money from their writing.

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, Alice.

Corrine's argument (I was skeptical at first) went something like this: "Do you know how rich we could get off this!?!?"

She's a hustler, that girl of mine. Always checking the angles.

Actually, what she said was that a story about the adoption of a child, from a man's point of view, would be a welcomed change. People associate adoption with women, I guess. Or with sentimentality. Or with things like feelings and emotions. You know, stuff guys don't really have?

And God knows men are not sentimental creatures. Well, unless we're watching Brian's Song or Field of Dreams or The Natural.

I, on the other hand, am a well of emotion. A veritable spring of gushing sentiment. I can cry on cue, almost.

So, I agreed with her. A little memoir about my feelings and experiences with adoption. I've started scribbling notes. Some ideas about theme. It can't be just a chronology of events. That would be boring. There has to be a thread through it. What would it be? Well, I can't determine that now. It will expose itself in due time.

And as I sat jotting initial thoughts down, pieces of my life started creeping into it. Things not specifically associated with the adoption itself. Things about being a father, about having a father. Some funny anecdotes of my childhood. And poignant scenes, too, like when Fallon was first born.

And after about an hour of this brainstorming, a fear crept in. If I'm to write about my feelings, and if the sphere of storytelling continues to expand so that it includes Fallon, and Harrison and my parents, etc. ... how much do I put in? Naturally if I write about parenting, then it stands to reason I would have to include Fallon and Harrison's mom, from whom I am divorced. Do I include the sordid details of the divorce, too? And will she balk at the idea of her being in a memoir?

Ahhh, the bogeyman has paid a visit. The age-old dilemma of memoirists: can you be true to your story without violating the trust of those who share a life with you?

Now, listen. I'm not saying I want to write bad things about these people. But, you know, there are things in my life (as there are in everyone's life) that are painful. If I am to be honest - and that's what a memoir is, honest - then I need to include some events that may or may not reflect too well on myself, and therefore, not too well on my loved-ones.

How far is too far? Do I need these people's permission to even include them? Do I change their names to protect them? But then again, let's be real, people will know who they are, I mean, come on.

This is not a tell-all. It's not an expose. It is, however, an exploration of my feelings about parenting, in a broader sense, and as it relates specifically to the adoption of a child. Naturally, I don't live in a vacuum. I interact with other humans, many of whom have helped shape my personal history. Including (significantly) my first wife, my parents, my siblings, my children.

Do I tip-toe, for example, around my divorce? Do I delve into the specifics (scandalous, many would say - sorry, but that's a part of my life, too) or do I just say "Voila! one morning I woke up I was divorced)? This passage of my life affected my children both positively and negatively. And it called into question (in my mind) my skills (or lack thereof) as a father.

The thing is, some parts of my life, when exposed, will not reflect very good on me, but it will reveal me as a human, with flaws, particularly as a father. It will also delve into my relationships with my own parents, some good, and some bad. That's the whole point of this. No one wants to read a story from a guy who comes across as having nothing wrong with him, who has made all the right choices and lives a trauma-free life.


So back to the memoir. What was a great idea yesterday is now scaring the hell out of me. Which means I have to do it. There's no turning back. I've been presented with a challenge: to be brutally honest about who I am as a human, a father, a man, with all the blemishes, but within the context of this adoption. People I know may or may not embrace it. I will have push back, I'm sure. Resistance by some who will insist that either my version of events is flawed (and therefore a big fat lie), or that I have no right whatsoever to mention them.

Oh boy.

Deep breath.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts on B

Corrine and I both blog. Many of you know this. And many of you know, therefore, that her blog has a lot to do with the process of adoption that we have been put through been patiently enduring.

I have not blogged much about the experience because she has been diligently recording our trials and triumphs. Why duplicate, right?

What I failed to recognize, however, is that I am withholding my own thoughts. My own perspective, which differs from Corrine's, merely by virtue of being a man. My take on things naturally would be different. Not opposite. Different.

So here's the deal. Here's my whole take on the adoption thing.

1. Yes, many believe us to be crazy, given that we have six between us already, ranging from 18 to 1. Know what? We agree. But we don't care, either. Crazy is the new sanity.

2. Yes, we fear some may suggest - to themselves and their friends - that we are doing this for money. We knew that foster care provides money. We had no desire to foster. End of that debate, right? Nope. We found out fairly recently that adoption, too, offers families a monthly stipend. The child we are adopting has multiple special-needs diagnoses. The stipend will not cover the accumulated expenses. Trust me. It's a shame. So - yes, we're getting a monthly stipend. (Insert ironic laugh here).

3. Yes, meeting our son, for the first time, was surreal. There's a quality to this whole process that has yet to define itself for me. As a writer, I am at a loss for words. Here is a child born to a woman incapable of being a mother, whose negligence nearly killed him. His neglect so severe, as an infant, that at 5 he has the vocabulary of a three-year-old. He is often frustrated at not being able to articulate his emotions. But when he smiles at me, and his arms wrap around my neck, I am the one who regresses and the words fail me and I am the one incapable of expression. When he says Dadda he becomes an oratory giant and I am reduced to silence.

4. I am a man, yet live in a world of men so wretched that they cannot do something so simple as love their own child. That they can live with themselves knowing that in another corner of this universe their own blood filters through the veins of a human, yet they remain incapable of action. I wish the pulse of this young boy's heart beat so furiously that it drowns any notion of such a human.

5. Curiously, during these past few weeks - meeting B for the first time, and our subsequent all-too-brief transition days together - I have thought a lot about my own father. Yesterday he asked if B had ever been fishing. I said no. Three volumes of meaning passed between us in a single, silent moment. I could see my father's imagination, a picture of him in a boat with B.

6. I consider myself to be a fairly progressive male: movies make me cry, I love to love my wife, I write extremely sentimental poetry every so often. Yet ... I still find myself keeping my emotions in check a lot. More than I want to. I don't know why. It's in the wiring, I suppose.

7. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't afraid of what this adoption will do to the relationship I have with the other children. I've done foolish things, but I'm no fool. I know two things: they will have feelings, and they will probably not express them truthfully. That's not the same thing as saying that I think they don't support this. It's just me saying that another addition will add weight. In more ways than just to the pressure on the car tires.

8. I am already imagining B when he is 10, 20, 30 and 40, and adding parentheses next to each that displays my age in relation. And yes, it makes me swallow hard.

9. I love my wife more for this, and I can't explain why; anymore than I can explain why dark, still waters make me giddy and scared at the same time.

10. We gave B the middle name "Orrin" after Corrine's grandfather. Corrine was named after him too, with the C and the E added at either ends to make it beautiful. We kept B's first name, of course, and he will have our last name. It's the name he calls himself already, and he refers to our home as his home. Isn't a child's seal of approval the most significant gift he can give you?

I bet you're wondering why I have a new picture of Corrine at the top of this post.

It's because I couldn't use the picture of B and I together in our kitchen, taken this weekend. It would violate confidentiality where he is not yet legally "ours."

So the picture is of Corrine. A new favorite of mine because it reveals her spirit well: this woman with so much beauty and so much vibrancy in her that she can't help but burst into your life and brighten it.

B is there, too, a fuzzy out-of-focus blotch in the background.

And it dawned on me just now the metaphor: after being for so long out of focus, the time has come for that to change. And who better to bring him into focus than a woman with so much vitality and fierce love that she can add another child into her life as if he were her own?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When You Love Someone

When you love someone - you'll do anything
You'll do all the crazy things that you can't explain
You'll shoot the moon - put out the sun
When you love someone

You'll deny the truth - believe a lie
There'll be times that you'll believe you can really fly
But your lonely nights - have just begun
When you love someone

When you love someone - you'll feel it deep inside
And nothin else can ever change your mind
When you want someone - when you need someone
When you love someone...

When you love someone - you'll sacrifice
You'd give it everything you got and you won't think twice
You'd risk it all - no matter what may come
When you love someone
You'll shoot the moon - put out the sun

When you love someone

Thursday, October 15, 2009

UMF, CW, CT, FHH and Me

I learned Wednesday that I have been accepted into the college's creative writing department (CW for short) as a major. Those of you who know me are no doubt scratching your heads, thinking, "Um, well, duh...?"

The truth is, I was accepted as a freshman at the University of Maine - Farmington (UMF), but my declared major - CW - wasn't automatic. You have to apply, and be accepted, before you can be officially declared. This involves submitting up to two writing samples, an application, and an essay about yourself and why you want to major in creative writing.

I've been sweating it, too. I got the obligatory "thanks for submitting your application to our department..." email, that also included this little tidbit at the end: there were bunches of applicants to fill only a limited number of slots, so, you know, good luck.

Yes, I did the rationalizing. I said to myself, "Well, twelve years as a journalist, a published novel, 41 years old....They just GOTTA take me."

I don't know what the department's criteria is, either. Truthfully, I was worried I would get a Thanks but No Thanks letter.

Now, relief. I can continue with this semester's classes (A average, thank you very much....!) and then, next semester, jump into CW classes. THAT's gonna be cool.

On another note unrelated to college, but significantly more important. (And WAY more exciting) Corrine and I met our prospective new son, today, when we traveled an hour to visit him in his current foster home.

I cannot tell you his name, out of confidentiality, but I can tell you that he is red-headed, so Corrine has started calling him Carrot Top, or CT.

CT is 5, but has some developmental delays. He has been diagnosed with mild mental retardation, but you wouldn't know it. In fact, we both think it's a misdiagnosis. Frankly, he was born in a stunting environment by his biological mother, who left him with his older brother, locked in a room, many times.

He is delayed in his speech, and we think maybe that's where the MR diagnosis comes from.

Really, he more than likely has a form of ADHD (fucking hyper as hell, or FHH - that's the technical term, by the way) but what child isn't?

CT is incredibly bright, loving, inquisitive, and the aforementioned FHH.

When you ask him a question, his "yes" is "aye", which is so damn Scots-Irish cute.

He's not Scots-Irish. He's pure-blooded American. With red hair. And FHH and ADHD.

It was surreal meeting him for the first time, knowing that in a few short weeks, he will be living with us, and in about a year, will have the last name Turner.


(fuckin A)


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Better Mouse Trap

I have to figure out a new system.

My blog posts are becoming few and far between, and that's a horrible batting average.

I'm leaving for school Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30, leaving me no time in the morning to do serious blogging. Unless I want to wake up at 4. Which isn't ever going to happen.

My Tuesdays and Thursdays are filled with homework and kids' lives and soccer coaching.

Saturday, coaching soccer games, and time with the fam, to make up for the week.

But, I need to write. It's what I'm all about. It's even why I'm going to college. Funny how that works? I'm doing all these things to improve myself as a writer, and I'm doing less writing than ever before.

I'm in recap mode, so I'll hit the highlights, and that's probably what my blogs will be from now on: daily highlights, maybe hit upon a single issue I can hammer out in 10 minutes, like I'm doing right now.

[ + ] Corrine and I went to the Fryeburg Fair Sunday (the biggest fair in the state, for non-Maniacs) It was the first time we went alone, as a couple, since we met back in 1924. Well, it seems that long anyway.

Harrison went with his girlfriend, but they did their own thing. So, it was just me and the little lady, strolling. Holding hands. Talking. Looking at draft horses and 4H quilts and crafts and people eating. We ate a few things ourselves, which is one of the biggest reasons we go. But it was nice to just hang together, no strollers or diaper bags.

NOW...not to sound bitter or ungrateful for what I have, BUT.

We were supposed to head to Vermont on Saturday, alone, stay the night at our good friend's house and see the play she directed. We had been planning it for weeks, excited at adulthood. At being able to dress up (I bought Corrine a beautiful dress and shirt for her birthday just for this weekend. Earrings to match, even!)

Well, anyone with kids knows that two things are inevitable: someone getting sick or someone backing out of babysitting.

Both happened. Griffin was sick AND Corrine's mom backed out of taking him Saturday. It scrapped our entire weekend plans for Vermont. We were, um, pissed.

So, we got the chance to ditch the kids for a few hours Sunday, a small consolation. It was our one-year anniversary a couple weeks ago and for our "honeymoon" we traveled through northern New England to see the foliage. Well, that was a big reason for going to Vermont this past weekend.


Well, not all fail. I did get to hold Corrine's hand, in public, alone, without children.

As pathetic as it sounds, that's a small victory for us lately it seems. 10 minutes are up. It's 6:30. Time for college.

See you tomorrow...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wish Us Luck (and Happy Anniversary)

This morning Corrine and I are heading to Augusta for a MONDO HUGE meeting about the child we're trying to adopt. Something like 48 people will be at this meeting, representing ALL the state agencies that have been involved in this child's life since, like, conception.

The meeting is for them to get to know us, us to get to know them, them to prod and poke and query and question and scowl and smirk. Us to grin and bear it.

The process is so ridiculously bureaucratic that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that there is a human being's entire life in the balance here.

I am driving from campus, while Corrine will head from home. We'll meet, have our thing-thing, and then head back to where we came from. I have three more classes after the meeting. Corrine has children to care for. So we will not be able to talk about how the meeting went until after I get home, at around 6:30. I know she'll be brimming with thoughts.

By the way.

Our first anniversary was yesterday and we spent it apart, for the middle part of the day anyway. Both vehicles getting worked on. I stayed home and did homework. Corrine took parts to her brother for the Volvo, and then drove the van to her father's to be tuned up.

No romance, no candles, no nothing.







I woke up this morning and there she was, the woman with whom I fell in love, and whose presence every morning in my world, in my life, makes the bad bearable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You

I left for school yesterday morning at the regular time. 6:30. In my brand-new, 20-year-old Volvo station wagon. I made it 4.3 miles before that Swedish marvel of engineering died.

I walked two miles back toward home before a very nice fellow, who also happens to run our town's transfer station (see: dump), picked me up.

I was wearing dress shoes, pants, and a short-sleeved shirt. It was going to be close to 80 yesterday, the weather report told us, so short-sleeves made sense. But not at 6:45 in the morning.

The road I take to school is a narrow, two-lane back road, lined on both sides with trees. It has a pretty yellow double line down the middle, sometimes it's even dotted long enough to allow a car three or so yards to pass, but otherwise the road seems to have been built by the owners of Six Flags, all up and down and sharp turns and deep plunges.

At 6:45, as I was driving, the radio went out suddenly, then snapped back on. And then it went out for good. I looked at the dash and all of my lights were out.

Me: Wow, those wacky Europeans and their sophisticated foreign cars.

I got to a stop sign, dropped the car into first, stopped. Looked both ways. Started to drive. The car sputtered, lurched, coughed, groaned, hitched, burped. In Swedish, of course.

I put it in second, thinking, hoping, it was just, you know, not awake yet. Needed to clean out the old Volvo lungs.

I got another hundred yards before the thing just died. I steered it off the road and sat there staring at the steering wheel. Maybe Volvos just do this? Because surely it wasn't broken down. Not a Volvo. Not a Foreign car. Domestic vehicles shit the bed on me all the time. But I had heard that cars made everywhere else were built to last 250 years, if you change the oil every 120,000 miles.

I turned it over and it sounded like I was dragging a dead body over a tin roof.

Me: Fucking cocksucker! I was duped!

I got out, slammed the door. Stood, hands on hips, looking at the car, pissed. As if the car, somehow, in its European sophistication, would actually feel guilty for letting me down.

Walked around to the passenger side, got in and hunted for the fuse box. Because I suspected in was electrical. I'm no mechanic, folks, but I'm not retarded either.

I couldn't find it. It's a Volvo, I thought to myself, the goddamn fuse box is probably somewhere clever, like inside the fucking steering wheel, or hub cap or sun visor. it's not. I looked there too. I popped the hood. I stood in front of the engine, scowling. Like I knew what I was looking for. There was an engine in there, I knew that much. Some hoses and wires. Looked an awful lot like domestic car engines to me.

Me: Goddamn fucking Swedes.

I looked up the road, in the direction of where I was heading, and then I looked down the road where I had come. Like I was deciding in which direction I should go. If I walk to college, I'll get there Thanksgiving. If I walk home, probably by 10:30. That would mean missing history, but I could salvage the rest of the day.

I start walking home, my breath making little puffs of swear words in the air. In Swedish.

We only have one cell phone, and Corrine keeps it with her. There's no need for me to take a cell phone to college, where it will be off most of the time. I make a mental note to get a second phone. Preferably not Swedish.

Cars zip past me in the foggy cold air and I wonder to myself "Do you people really believe that I am out for a morning stroll with dress shoes, dress pants and a striped short-sleeve shirt on?"

No one stopped. Not a soul.

Me: I hope you drive off the fucking road into a tree and your eyes get eaten by a fisher cat!

Of course, all I can think about is Stephen King going for a walk a few years back and getting clipped from behind by a man in a van. It nearly killed him. Stephen that is.

I jog to the other side of the road, to face oncoming traffic.

Me: Now, if I get hit, I can at least see it coming and maybe flip the driver off just before I die. I hope he's Swedish.

A mile in and my feet hurt, my legs are cramping and I'm light-headed from not having eaten anything. I usually get something to eat at school. And a coffee. Coffee! I haven't had coffee yet. Now I'm livid.

I look at my watch. It's 7:20 and I've only walked a mile. I do the math in my head (now that I'm taking math as a college course, I can do reliable math in my head. College rocks, man!): One mile in 30 minutes. Three miles left to go = piece of shit fucking Volvo Swedish losers.

At two miles, a truck stops next to me. It's The Guy From The Dump. I don't know his name. I just know he's the resident refuse engineer. The one who helps me understand the science behind corrugated cardboard versus brown paper bags, metal versus tin foil, and kitchen waste versus other forms of waste. That, and I like how he says "Put it in the Hopper!" It comes out "Puttitinthehoppa!" It sounds tribal swear word.

He takes me to High Street and we talk about the weather. He doesn't even ask me why the hell I'm dressed up for a stroll in the middle of Sumner. His wife kicked his ass when he got home from work that night, I just know it.

His wife: Whatdoyamean, you stopped for someone? Who was he? Why was he walking? He could have had a gun. He coulda been a molesta.

Him: Oh, just Puttitinthehoppa!

I get home and tell Corrine the story and she and I do our ritual native profanity dance, the one we always do when something shitty happens to us.

Then I take our van to school. On the way, something interesting happens. I get to about 15 miles from school and come across a man walking.

I stop. It's Yosemite Sam. I swear to God.

Me: Need a lift?

He says, toothless, wearing a cowboy hat, something utterly incoherent, but he's smiling.

He jumps in. He says thank you but it sounds like "Sank Ya"

He's wearing dirty overalls and a chamois shirt beneath them. He says he works "Aways back, at the Fahm."

I presume he means farm. Some sort of farm. But he does not smell like a farm, all cow shit and pig shit etc. So I naturally think he's lying and has a sharp metal object tucked into his chamois sleeve.

Me: Walk this way every day do you?

He tells me and I manage to decipher enough from him to learn that he gets a ride to work every morning at 4 a.m., but walks home because his shift ends before the others. And that it takes him two hours and 45 minutes.

Me: Holy shit!

He is probably in his mid-seventies and he explains that he must work part time because any more and he'll lose his social security.

So now I feel like a complete asshole for even complaining about anything, ever.

I drop him off at a corner and he points to his house a hundred yards away.

Him: Thassit! The blue one! Sanka ya! I can git m'laundry done 'cause you saved me a few hours and they're always too busy by the time I get home....


I don't think about the Volvo for the rest of the day. But on my way home, I think of Yosemite. I didn't get his name. But I can see his house when I make the turn to head home. And I wonder if he got his laundry done.

My life is a good one.

My life is a great one.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It's 10:12 a.m. Monday and I'm not really sure what to write about.

I'm sitting at one of a few dozen computer stations in the college's computer center, waiting to hear from Corrine, who is home doing the child care thing.

In the meantime, I've noticed it has suddenly become fall. My favorite time of year. But where was I during the transition? Usually I can tell when things are getting colder, trees are getting brighter.

This time, it's like I woke up and fall was here.

Which reminds me that since I started school I have not made time for Purple Holly (which takes place primarily during the fall) and that I need to. It's a good story, in the sense that it has potential. Only if I keep with it though.

I really don't know how people do this.

Back to fall. My favorite time of year.

Corrine and I are going to Vermont the first weekend of October, right on the cusp of the fall foliage change.

This same time last year, Corrine and I got married and headed to New Hampshire, where we stayed in a hotel, traveled through the White Mountains, and had a great time. The kids were with us then (Griff was just a few months old) so this year, we're going alone. And this time, farther west, to visit a good friend and watch a play she is directing.

It will be the first time in a long while that Corrine and I have spent time alone.

I can't wait.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Welcome to Friday Fragments.

I write briefly about things that probably should be written about in length, which means I'm trying to be short-winded with a full pair of lungs.

Mrs. 4444 taught me to do this. You should check it out for yourself.

+==+ Saw a church sign that read "The Bible is God's Facebook." Now, that got me thinking. If this were true, then it would reason Jesus, his son, was a Friend. And it would therefore further reason that he might consult with his son on occasion. But in what manner would he do it? Would it be chat speak? When faced with, say, how to deal with televangelists ripping millions off from their viewers, would he write on Jesus's wall simply: "WWYD?"

+==+ Had my first tests in college this week. Philosophy and algebra, in fact. I got a 93 on the Philosophy test, a 92 on the one in algebra. That makes me an honor student for the first time in my life!

+==+ Can someone tell me why, when you're experiencing diarrhea, that the shortest distance from your ass to the seat of a toilet becomes a distance so profoundly long that it can no longer be calculated using basic math? Or that your bowels, which are supposed to measure the length of a football field when stretched out, suddenly become shorter than the distance between your wrist and your elbow? Or that it's poetic justice that the only warning your body gives you that you're about to excrete is the sound of a toilet being flushed in your abdomen? Or why this never happens when you're at home, but rather in public, and therefore must go to a public restroom, and why, when you get to the public restroom, the stall next to you is occupied by a guy on his cell phone with his girl saying "I love you too, Baby"?

Just wondering.

+==+ Corrine's birthday was Thursday and I bought her some gifts. I bought her a hand-made coffee mug (as opposed to something mass-produced in China) that has an illustrated image of a woman with a shock of blond hair. It reminded me of her. I also bought her a floor-length dress (blue I think) and a black see-through sleeved shawl-looking thing that buttons at the neck, to go over the dress. These are not the actual terms used for these items, folks. Calm down. Also, I bought her a matching earring and necklace set, but the necklace is more like a choker so we need a longer chain for it. I also got her a card but because everything is so hectic, I didn't have a chance to sign it. It's blank on the inside and I was wanting to write something long and romantic. She took a rain check, but loved all the gifts. Guess who's getting lucky this weekend? Cha-ching! Money, baby! Money in the bank!

+==+ We got the first episodes of season one of Thirtysomething, a show I used to watch at the end of the 80s, when I was entering my twentysomethings. I liked the clothes, mostly. Now, I think they look a lot like the pretentious, preppie assholes I wanted to bitch-slap in high school. You know, when I was tensomething?

+==+ In first-year writing seminar (see: College Writing 101) we're reading and dissecting Richard Wright's Black Boy. When he was a child, his mother beat him nearly to death; and he killed a kitten on his father's command; and his mother put him and his brother in an orphange because she could not afford to take care of them - but only temporarily; and him and his neighborhood friends used to watch the neighbor folks using the latrines that stood on the endge of a hill and had no back wall, so you could see everything.

Next, we're reading the memoir of a woman who was raped her freshman year in college.

And after that, we're reading the memoir of a woman who suffers from epilepsy, a condition that, for some people, turns them into chronic liars.

Next year they're changing the title of the class to Oprah 101: Depressing Literature and Its Devastating Effects on People's Love of Reading Just For the Fun of It.

+==+ I purchased music sequencing software that is used for orchestrating. I plan to compose a ballet, believe it or not. I will have someone else choreograph, of course...There's no joke here. I'm really going to do it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Say It's Her Birthday

Corrine's birthday is Thursday (Love you baby!) and Griffin goes in for surgery the same day (Love you Fiff!)

It's not a serious surgery - he's being circumcised. Poor thing.

Griff, I mean.

As for Corrine's birthday. I have not had a chance to stop and even breathe, let alone think about gifts. So, I'm creating a contest!

I want ideas for THE most romantic birthday gift you can think of, the ingredients to which must include:

1. A purchased item of some sort (keep it under a couple bills, please, I'm a college student now)
2. Something I DO for her; e.g., take her out, rub her feet with olive oil, etc. You don't have to keep it clean, but ... well, whatever you suggest will probably be a reflection of YOUR dirty mind, not mine. (But I'd love to know how your dirty minds work!)

It can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. It can be wild and crazy, or so damn romantic it makes you cry to even write it.

I want results, folks! I only have two days.

Not sure what I will give the winner. I tried a contest once and I STILL have not followed through on the prize. (Sorry Mrs. 4s!)

So...put your romantic thinking caps on and give me a recipe for the BEST birthday for the BEST wife I am married to. Hands down. She's tops. She deserves it. (like I need to tell you!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Apple Pickin Time

We went apple picking Sunday and it was a gloriously beautiful day. High, blue skies, crisp fall air, and ripe apples.

Awww. Corrine and Andy sittin' in front of a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Farmer Griff

Farmer Gabi

They love each other; really, they do.

See? Told you.

Break time

Does this apple orchard make my hair look fat?

She loved the bag way more than the actual apple-picking

She's really that tall, folks.

Artsy fartsy B&W shot of Gabi Girl

Dude. How friggin handsome can you get?

He called them "balls" and thought he had entered ball heaven. He was actually swooning.

Pick one. Bite it. Put it in the bag.

Me with Barns coming out of my ears.

Fiff and Mumma

Damn we're a good looking couple.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The U of Frag

This is Friday Fragments. The place in which I round up the disparate and desperate thoughts in my head and list them, in order of no particular importance, for you to muse at and enjoy. They are short, they are sometimes witty, almost never profound, and make for a good dish. The recipe for which is in the hands of Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time.

This week is devoted to college. Surprise surprise.

Specifically, Scenes from an American College.

So, put in your Animal House soundtrack and read along....

FF I had the distinct pleasure of walking behind two kids arguing about posters. The young man had dreads and khaki shorts, the girl was tiny and dread-locked as well and no bra. (Folks, there was no way NOT to notice. ) The college was selling all sorts of posters, presumably for the kids to hang on their empty college walls.

BOY: I can't do this myself.
GIRL: I know, but I'm not helping you
Boy: You're not helping me?
Girl: I don't think it needs to be done
Boy: You don't think it needs to be done?
Girl: It's abominably insane
Boy: Abominably insane?
Girl: Those are way to heavy and ...
Boy: You're abominably insane.
Girl: The Led Zeppelin posters are at least a thousand tons each
Boy: That is an abominable exaggeration.
Girl: And there are thousands upon thousands of them and it's a beautiful day
Boy: I'm abominably fucked if I do this alone
Girl: Stop looking at my ass

Ladies and gentlemen, that's the whole conversation. I followed them from the student union to a van outside, where they parted ways.

I was disappointed. I really wanted to know if they got it on afterwards.

FB My first class of my college career was history, at 8 a.m. Wednesday, in a basement classroom with tiered amphitheater seating. Rows of tables, with chairs that swivel outward from metal posts connected to the tables. Mine, at the end of the row, swiveled outward toward me. Once I figured out that it actually swiveled toward me - by watching my far-more-intellectual 18-year-old peers, I did the same. And rammed the back of it right into my knee. Welcome to collegiate ergonomics.

FB I am constantly amazed at the wide variety of people here. Short, tall, round, beautiful, handsome, and not so much of either. Slobs and OCDs, intellectuals and um, like, you know, sorority blonds. Good-smelling and rank; wet-haired and bed-headed. I love it. It's a veritable cornucopia of something. Not sure what, but who among you can say you used "cornucopia" in your blog lately?

FB Professors in all of my classes expect participation and actually factor it into their final grading. This is contrary to what I imagined. There was this movie ... I think it's called Real Genius that had Val Kilmer (late 80s??) , who is a college student. Well, anyway, there is a sequence of scenes of the same classroom that begins full, then as the weeks progress, becomes emptier and emptier, students replaced by their tape recorders.

I guess I just expected attendance and participation to be low on the old college totem pole.

FB I've met only a few non-traditionals, including a man going back after retiring from the army. He was stationed in Germany. In 1979! And, what is even better, is that he decided to live on campus during the week and travel home for weekends to see his wife and daughter! That's just ... awesome. I told him he'll have everyone in his dorm sporting tattoos by the end of the month.
FB Corrine bought me a watch and a Volvo. How's that for love? Of course, the Volvo is 20 years old and the watch sold at Wal-Mart. In my statistics class next semester I'm going to try and determine which will die first.
FB Speaking of math. My first day of class and the teacher administered a test. It didn't count, so to speak, but today's class delved into the principles we were tested on. The test made more sense. I'm so screwed.
FB My son is taking Algebra II High this year, as a sophomore in high school. Read the last entry and you'll know why I cry into my pillow at night.
FB There are computer stations everywhere here, and they're all wired to the Internet. It's incredible. Every building, every nook and cranny of every building you can find a computer. And if that's not enough, the whole campus us wired. I can bring my own system and just jump on the Internet. In high school, this was called The Future and it included Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.
FB My homework includes hundreds of pages of reading every week. I love that.
FB I'm giddy. Can you tell?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jesus, Take the Handle Bars

I'm done. First day of college is in the books, so to speak. From 8 a.m. to 5:15, a more-than-full day for me, something that will take time for me to get used to. I'm used to taking a nap with the daycare kids. 12 to 1:20. Right after lunch.

My Friday Fragments will be devoted to the minor things I observe/feel/think about this, week so I won't get into it here.

I will, however, share one funny thing. I have to. I can't keep it until Friday.

So, it's midday and I've been to my first class. History. Great first class, even if it was 8 a.m. and I'd not even started drinking my medium hazelnut extra extra coffee.

So I walk back to my van - parked in a spot that I just know is off limits to me, and therefore is under video surveillance that the campus police will use to post a video of me on YouTube punching the hood because the battery connection keeps coming loose and I have to pop the hood and frig with the connection.

But I digress...

Anyway, I replace three history books and a notebook with my single philosophy book and notebook (If Andrew takes three textbooks and a notebook weighing 27 pounds and replaces them with one textbook and notebook weighing 17 ounces, what would the chiropractor charge for an adjustment if he were walking 3 miles per hour heading west toward HELL....), and then head to the student center.

I come to an intersection and out of the corner of my eye I notice a student with blond Jesus hair and beard on a ten-speed barreling down the street toward me.

And to my left, a car has stopped to let me cross the intersection. At this exact moment, Jesus veers his bike to manage the intersection and his tires hit gravel right at my feet and he wipes out.

We're talking about a tall fuck, too. All arms and legs. Short-sleeved polo shirt and jeans hugging the upper crack of his Jesus ass, penny loafers. You just know this guy listens to Marley and believes using deodorant depletes the ozone or some such pot-enhanced euphoric nonsense.

And his bike is slipping out from under him, he's rotating in mid air at my feet, and our eyes lock for a moment (mine wide as dinner plates, his narrowed into Cheech and Chong slits.)

And BAM! he hits the ground and slides a foot or two past me.

I didn't know what to do or say. I was flabbergasted. I was shocked. I was ... trying not to laugh. I was doing man keegles to stop from pissing myself.

" okay?" I asked, and reached down. But, in one fluid motion, as if choreographed, he popped up onto his bike and began pedaling down the hill.

"Dude, that sucked."

That's all he said. And it was with comical irony that he said it. No inflection. No nervous giggle or snorting, which I would have done. Well, no, I would have thrown the fucking bike across the road and launched into something naughty. Something non-academic.

"Dude, that sucked."

That's got to be the understatement of the year. And off Jesus fled, in 5th gear and with road rash and by the time I got to the other side of the intersection I was bursting.

Made. My. Day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Now All That's Left is The Learning

I'm glad I went to the school today. I wasn't planning to, considering my last two trips were fruitless. On one occasion, we had both babies: FAIL. And the second time, I stood in line for an hour and a half to get my photo ID - and still was unable to get it: FAIL.

I was just going to skip today and, instead, go tomorrow, which is when classes actually start. Leap right over this orientation crap because it's been very disorienting.

Today was the day of convocation, when the freshmen gather together and watch their faculty, in full academic regalia, march into the hall to bagpipers; where a few speakers speak; and the official start of one's college career gets underway.

I was going to skip it and wallow in my self-pity over how much of a waste of time my last two visits turned out and how I just didn't feel like I belonged.

But I went. And I'm glad I did.

I won't bore you with the details of the day. They're not interesting. Like explaining a pro golf tournament, hole for hole, over the phone to someone.

What I will share is that today redeemed my faith in my decision to attend college at 41. I have been feeling out of place - not inadequate or stupid or incapable of doing the work. I don't fear anything. I've just felt ... strangely like I'm crashing someone's party. That it's ridiculous of me to think I can stitch myself into the academic fabric without standing out. Like mixing yarn with cross stitch.

At the end of the day (which is right now) I feel far fewer trepidations. Far fewer.

Tomorrow, classes for the first time. I can't wait.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hen Pecked

A predator of some sort got to our hens two nights ago, killing one of them and leaving her beheaded body on the bottom of the pen.

Corrine found the hen and the evidence of the break-in: the top of the screen door was shorn away, and there were claw marks on the ground where the infiltrator tried to gain access by burrowing under.

Our hens are not in a top-level security facility here. It's an 8-foot-by-8-foot square pen made of strapping and chicken wire. It's placed on the dirt ground up against the back of our barn.

I popped out a window in the barn and built a wooden box that acts as a sort of passageway between the barn - where they sleep at night - and the pen.

Two weeks ago a neighbor complained of hen shit on his apartment building porch, so we stopped letting them range. We're nothing if not polite and conscientious neighbors.

But the fact that an animal of some sort tore into their home and assaulted one of the hens is a bit unnerving. What's worse is that the dead hen's sisters thought nothing about surrounding her body and pecking the hell out of it. Gross.

I know of only raccoons capable of scaling an 8-foot door, tearing open the screen and ripping the head off a hen. Skunks won't do it. Foxes won't.

So of the 17 original hens, we're down to 15. One having been killed by a stray dog. And now this one.

I'm actually at a loss as to what to do. There is no way to protect them, really, unless I seal off there sleeping quarters and manually let them outside during the day. That's a hassle. Ever try to round up a bunch of scared-shitless hens?

On another note, we bred our border collie with a female a few months ago and the result was a litter of 12 puppies. The owner of the bitch sold all but four, and then called Corrine last week asking her if we could puppy-sit while she tries to find a new place to live.

So we've had four tireless pups bouncing around the house, pissing and shitting everywhere. Corrine penned them on our deck, which now looks like the bottom of a kennel.

The back hallway is where they sleep at night, and that too is rank with the effluvium of dog urine and excrement, not to mention the little fuckers are chewing the hell out of anything.

Right about now, I hate dogs and hens.

And neighbors.

But I love you. So relax.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fragon Slayer

Well, well, well, if it isn't me? I don't blog all week, except Fridays it seems. That will change this week, as I return to my regularly scheduled programming.

Friday Fragments are an illusion, wrapped in a mystery, doused with a splash of guile and buttered with condescension. They are a weekly delicatessen of odd ball observations by a miscreant 41-year-old who can't mate socks because he's colorblind. But don't hold that against him. You can blame it on Mrs. 4444 at Half Past Kissin' Time. Well, the Fragment part, not his colorblindness.

FF We keep hens. 16 of them, in fact, and all spring and summer they have free-ranged around our property, hunting and pecking everything in sight. They have even ranged all over our neighbor's yard, and he doesn't care. They do eat ticks, don't ya know? Two weeks ago a wiry, scruffy man who looked like someone had pissed in his mouth, knocked on my door. Asked if we had chickens. I said yes, of course. "Well, they're shittin all over my porch." I asked where he lived. It happens that he owns an apartment building two houses down from us. "I think you should have to come down and clean it up." I told him I would come down and take a look. I changed my mind though. He didn't say hello, he didn't shake my hand or introduce himself. Just dragged his sorry ass up onto my porch fuming and swearing and sputtering and making demands. This apartment building is a slum. The police have been called numerous times for some of the tenants fighting in the street, squealing tires, etc. Chicken shit goes well with his gray flecked faux paint job, I'm thinking.

FF The kids started school this week. Am I going to hell by saying I'm grateful for the sound of silence?

FF I have college orientation tomorrow and Monday. I have made it my secret mission to attain nothing less than a 3.8 GPA. Why, you ask? Because someone once told me I couldn't. And when you tell me I can't do something, I instantly hate you and your family and put curses on you.

FF Gabrielle had a virus last week that created sores in and around her mouth. A virus. That's all the doctor could call it. A virus. With all the advancement in medicine you'd think they would be able to at least give my daughter's infliction a name. All she could take was ibuprofen. She didn't eat for four days. She cried in the middle of the night because it was so painful. And we paid a doctor $1,456 for her to tell us Gabi had a virus. I'm changing my college major to become a doctor.

FF The last couple of weeks have been glorious. Mid-80s, sunny, summery. Beautiful. Last two days, I've had to wear a sweatshirt and long johns to bed and woken up with frost on the insides of my eyelids. Fuck Maine. I'm moving to someplace where it's warm. Like Canada, maybe.

FF We still have not repaired the porch roof. I tore up a third of the shingles in the corner where we've had leaking. That was two weeks ago. One time, when I was a kid, I dismantled an electronic toy I had been given for Christmas because I wanted to see if I could put it back together. I failed. I hid the toy in my closet because I was afraid my dad would kill me. My folks called the other day to say they were coming over and for a split second I actually considered hiding my porch. How lame is that?

FF No dear, I don't agree with you. I can't keep my hands or my eyes off of you. You must be doing a whole lot of something right...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday is For Fragging

Friday Fragments?

Friday Fragments are my way of imparting to you a certain twisted wisdom. Read these little snippets of goings-on, and it shall set you free. Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin Time is to blame for this. She is the Fragment Zen Master. Please pay her homage.

# I got changed in the bathroom after a short swim the other day and as I reached the door to leave, realized something was amiss. I looked down and saw that I had thrown on Corrine's tan skirt, the kind with the shorts in them. I felt so...liberated. And then I got my period.

# Corrine and I are second-act parents, in that we both had children, raised them out of infancy and into their teens and then had children together of our own. We both, it has become obvious, forgot how much infants can absolutely kill a romantic relationship. Plans to go out together fall through; plans to snuggle on the couch together are interrupted by the 1-year-old needing a diaper change, or the 3-year-old wanting to be between us. Recently we were sitting on the couch talking about watching a movie since our older kids were at their other parents' respective houses and the little ones were asleep. As we sat there, flipping through the movie channels we pay for but never use, it was 7:30, the sun had not yet set, neighbors were barbecuing. Two hours later we both woke up and went upstairs to bed.

# Speaking of parenting. I made it a mental mission to never disparage my ex-wife in front of our children, no matter the temptation. I wish she had gone on the same mental mission.

# I'm a week from college orientation and do not have a second-hand car yet. Like all things in my life, I must wait for money. The college is cutting a check for the difference in financial aid. (Aid includes housing and travel, and since I am not living on campus, I will get cash instead) Anyway, part of the money will go toward a used car. The check has not come yet. My dad went to the University of Maine at Orono, some two-plus hours away. This was when he was a young pup married to mom. He used to HITCHHIKE to and from college just to be with my mom. And people ask how the hell does a couple last for 50 years? There's your answer. I, on the other hand, can't fucking wait for that check.

# Gabrielle, our three-year-old, has been potty-trained for some time now. She still announces when she needs to go, but she can climb up and do her thing all by herself. The other night I was watching her and Griffin while Corrine was at play rehearsal. Gabi went to the bathroom and trotted back afterward, exclaiming she had pooped. In the most genuinely impressed voice about pooping that I could muster, said "Wow, that's fantastic!" To which she replied, "Yeah, I did a baby poop, a mommy poop and a daddy poop." I asked her what that meant. She took me to the bathroom and showed me. There were little turds, medium turds, and one really large dad-looking turd. I think she's gonna be a writer, what do you think?

# Corrine and I took Fallon, my oldest, for her senior portraits this week. Corrine had found a beautiful spot in town with these expansive views, rolling lawns, gardens, picket fences and even a Japanese waterfall. The woman who owns the property gladly let us stroll around with the photographer. It was a gorgeous summer day. One I have already stored in my Fallon Memory Bank. Watching her pose, I could not help but feel ... well, you probably already know how I felt. The girl used to fall asleep in my arms, for chissake.

# My cousin, Matthew, came up from North Carolina this week. He's in the Marines and will be shipping out to Iraq in September. The Turner clan gathered at my parents to wish him well. It was nice seeing my father's brothers all together, talking about growing up. It's the way families should be when they gather. I wish there was more of it. As for Matthew, I wish him well and know God will go with him.

# I have this recurring dream that Corrine is pregnant. There's no chance in hell that she could ever get pregnant, of course. not by me anyway. I had the old cables snipped. No, this is not a dream of lament, or wish. I think it means something else, but I'm just not sure what.

# I'm replacing the roof on our porch with metal. That is to say, I'm putting metal over the existing shingles. The corner where the roof meets the house is an ice trap and leaks every winter. I pulled up the shingles there to see what damage there was to the wood. Like I know what the fuck I'm doing, you know? Anyway, the wood looks remarkably good. No rot. What I discovered was that the previous owner had had it re-roofed and left gaps between it and the abutting house, through which water can naturally flow. Okay, I'm no carpenter, but even I know that gaps mean trouble. And that's my metaphor for the week: gaps mean trouble, folks. Fill the gaps in your life, don't just shingle over them. That and wear old sneakers because roofing tar sucks, man.

Deep huh?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nearness of You

It's not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me
Oh no
It's just the nearness of you
It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
Oh no
It's just the nearness of you

When you're in my arms and I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams came true
I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you would only grant me the right
to hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night
The nearness of you

~Norah Jones

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gabrielle is THIS Many: III

Gabrielle turns three today. And to honor her, I've selected some photos I consider my favorites.

Corrine took this and it's one of my absolute favorites. Big eyes. Fat cheeks.

A completely candid shot. She found an old pair of glasses and put them on. Corrine took the picture just as her daycare friend, Ty, looked at her. Is that not a cute shot or what? And it PERFECTLY captures her and him. I've told you here before. Boys better watch out, because she's not gonna take prisoners.

She loves her Fiffin ... and chokes him and kisses him and knocks him in the head and hugs him and takes his toys from him and tells him she loves him. You know. The usual sister-brother thing.

Do I have to say anything more? This, my friends, is Gabrielle Marrae Turner.

Photo I took for her first birthday card invitations. Great expression.

I have very little hair. And I've lost most of it because of her.

My favorite, probably. No feeling surpasses that of your child sleeping in your arms. None.

She's actually playing, and winning. Something she has always been able to do.

She loves it when other people read. She also loves chewing the bindings.

I was in The Nerd as the title character. Gabrielle is actually making fun of me here. What, you can't see it in her eyes?

Ahoy! Shiver me timbers! Walk the plank!

The cake-eating champ of 45 High Street. Arrrrrgh!!

These are MY boobies, Nana!

She will always have the love and support of her brothers. Because they are afraid of her.

Don't recall what she's dressed as, but that's beside the point. She's stylin in whatever she wears.