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.