Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Blogging crisis!

I can't blog!

Every single attempt, however slight, to post something has been interrupted by some inconvenient, urgent, can-not-wait issue that requires my immediate attention!!

AAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My work is interfering with my blogging!


I'll be back when time permits...

Friday, September 24, 2004

Revolution

Click here for mood music


There are many pages to the book of my life. Some that I am proud of, others that I would change. But there are no regrets and I bravely claim every move I've made as my own.

Though I was born in the U.S., I grew up in a major South American city, surrounded by poverty and the deep rooted classism that emerges in people's subconsciousness when surrounded by an utter lack of upward mobility in most non-professional jobs. Those who were born underprivileged stayed that way, and passed it on to their children.

The only realistic expectations the country places on the public school system is to teach the poor to read, write and add. Those poor, deprived children (not because they don't have Gameboys or Air Jordans, but because they live on dirt floors and sleep on rush mats) will grow up with the modest hope of finding labor in the cities, migrating from the fields and countryside in search of better possibilities that never materialize.

The cities become grossly overcrowded and polluted without the means to offer employment to the ever growing masses, who eventually turn to crime in a desperate effort to survive the streets. It's a vicious cycle of vastly complex consequences. The causes of which are hard to determine and control, especially in a third world economy that doesn't offer the resources needed to create positive change.

I grew up in a middle class home, a family of four children with both parents. Upper middle class, actually. My father was an airline executive. We attended private schools, lived in a guarded community, and enjoyed membership to the Country Club, where we learned to play and compete in golf, tennis, and swimming. On the weekends we traveled away from the city to our home in the country. Our farm, we called it, but it was more of a vacation home.

At the young age of sixteen I became an enlightened being. Coupled with a new found love for universal literature, I discovered a gift for guitar playing and songwriting. I fancied myself an intelectual and an artist. Always weighed down by heavy volumes and an ever present six-string strapped to my back. I eagerly espoused leftist ideologies and glorified them before those who would listen, and sang protest songs wherever I went.

It's easy to renounce wealth and private property when you have none of your own, yet you live handsomely at your parents' expense. There's no real sacrifice involved. Your theories are entirely subjective, and awaiting to be put in practice during a distant future. It's safe to subscribe to radical beliefs, because your occupation is understood to be that of a student. You're allowed to be an activist who doesn't practice what he preaches.

My friends and I renounced our families' names and wealth, but only in spirit. We descried the establishment and condemned their policies. We wandered around in the parks and bazaars, singing and preaching, pushing marxist ideas and denouncing the church.

Our heroes were the post-revolutionary cuban troubadours, who sang of unity, patriotism and revolution. We played their records and sang their songs.

But ours were romantic notions. Though we wanted change, we stopped short of condoning a violent revolution. The marxist guerillas that populated our rural regions, who recruited the poor to carry out their murderous work and provided no positive political agenda for the country's benefit, were never viewed as anything other than outlaw groups looking to support their anarchic endeavors by kidnapping and killing innocent people, and participating in the illegal drug trade.

We were angry young men, and we were pretentious enough to think we'd be fighting the system forever; deluded enough to believe that our ideas were the right ones, and that we'd continue to cherish and develop them for the rest of our lives. So blurry the road that lie ahead is, but so sharp and clear we thought we saw it.

Eventually life takes over, and we mold our creed to our situation. Our needs define and limit our immediate desires and our hopes are drawn from our "best of all futures" scenario. The fire inside us subsides, and we give way to the comforts that modern life offers us. In essence, we sell out.

I'm not sure how I got here, or what triggered my ability to derive pleasure and contentment from an average, normal life. I always viewed satisfaction as failure. But I've no longer a need to change things, or to pursue a different outcome for my life. I've learned to accept survival as a worthy objective.

Now, I keep my political idealogies to myself. What's more, I've made a conscious effort to keep my opinions on politics and religion off this blog. And though I'm plum full of opinions on every subject under the sun, I'd rather express them in a different forum.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Coach of the Year!

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I'm in a state of panic.

I'm coaching my daughter's Peewee Teeball team this season. Well, not really coaching. Assistant coaching. The coach conned me into it a few weeks ago. I figured, what the hell. Maybe it'll help my daughter feel more comfortable out there with all those boys.

We've only had three practice sessions, so far. Coach told us the first game would be a week after they gave out the uniforms.

Well, a couple of hours ago my wife phoned me. She said,"Sorry babe, I forgot to tell you Lisa (the coach's wife) called yesterday and said you were having practice today."
"Today?" I asked. "But we always practice on Fridays."
"You've got your first game tomorrow."
"Tomorrow??? Are you kidding? But, we don't have any uniforms!"
"They're handing them out today."
"But...but we're not ready!" I stammered. "We haven't even learned how to run the bases properly yet."
"She also said that they were going to need your help today, getting ready for the big game. Coach Larry can't make it."
"Whaaaat???" I yelled. "I don't know the first thing about coaching! I'm just there to help keep the kids from running off! How the hell am I going to get that pack (I meant to say team) of 4 and 5 year olds ready for a game?"
"Oh honey, I'm sure you'll do fine," she said, as we hung up. Leaving me disconcerted and apprehensive.

So, here's my chance to show my mettle. We'll see if I'm cut out to be a Lil' League Assistant Coach after all! Oh, the pressure...!

If you don't hear from me by tomorrow, send out a rescue party!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

We're getting older...

I don't want to be very graphic about my activities, late yesterday afternoon. Suffice it to say that having several gloved medical personnel prying open your buttocks so that another may cut and scrape away offending blood clots from your anus, is not an enjoyable occurrence. I rank it up there with root canal or having my toenail removed (I had hemorrhaging below my big toenail and it was getting infected - they had to remove the entire toenail to get to it).

I guess it's a sign of age, that the last few years I've had to undergo so many procedures. Things that ten years ago I barely knew existed. How we change...

My wife turns 39 today. I turn 39 on Sunday. I married an older woman.

This will be our last year before we hit the big ***40***. Funny, how I used to consider 40 as being old. Now, I'm vigorously trying to view it as a new beginning. We'll see. I have a whole year left to ponder it.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Puppy blues

"Daddy!" she yells in delight when I walk through the door after a hard day's work, running into my arms and planting a big sloppy kiss on my mouth, successfully diluting the day's sour remains.

"Hi baby," I say, smiling from ear to ear in pure, unsurpassable joy. "I missed you! Did you miss me?"

"Yeah," she says, matter of factly and moving on to more important issues. "Today Fluke went out through the right door. Can we give him a snack?"

"He did? Through the puppy door? Are you sure?" I ask incredulous.

"I opened the door for him."

"And did he go potty, like a good dog?"

"He only went peepee!" she says, frustrated. "Can I give him a snack, and Rocky too?"

This has been one of my biggest problems with the new puppy. He doesn't want to get out of the screened patio and into the yard through the flapping pet door. He insists on tearing right through my screen door. I've had to repair the damned thing at least six times already. And then when he bounces off the taut screen, he proceeds to ram it until it gives way. Man, it drives me nuts!

So we've decided to reward him for using the pet door, but he'll only do it if one of us holds it up for him. So, Christina goes and holds it open while he goes out, she waits for him to take care of business then lets him back in. If she doesn't hold the door for him, forget it! He's going through the screen.

The most frustrating part of this is that he sees the other dog go through the dog door before him, every time, but he seems to think that, it's just not for him. He needs his own door. He's special.

"Well sweetie," I tell my daughter, "the snack only works if we give it to him right after he does something good."

"But, I saw him!" she insists.

"Why don't we let him out now," I say. "Maybe he'll do it again and then you can give him a snack. Okay?"

"Okay!" she says cheerfully. "Fluke! C'mon! Let's go potty!"


She's doing a lot better job of training the mutt than I am.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hog Heaven

Click here for mood music



Ruby caught the ball and faltered briefly, bouncing for balance with one foot, then slid back onto her pinion seat.

"You knock over ma' horse, I'm gonna knock you over, woman!" Kevin yelled from the garage. He was helping Artie put some padding on the back of his saddlebags. Artie didn't want to mess up his paint job by throwing the saddlebags bareback on his bike.

Ruby threw the baseball back at me. I caught it with my helmet. Didn't even have to tilt my hog over.

The helmet law had just become effective in California, courtesy of Pete Wilson. We wore the helmets, but only after we'd placed stickers on the back that read: "Fuck Pete Wilson."

"Let's go, let's go!" I said to the guys, impatiently, "I wanna get moving!"

"We're waiting on Ron and Dean," Artie mumbled, without looking up.

I tossed the ball back at Ruby. A bad throw. She stretched her right arm out to find it, tiptoeing out of her seat and nearly knocking the bike over again. The ball flew past her, into the street.

"Goddamit!" Kevin yelled. "I swear I'm gonna kill both a' you mothafucka's!"

Ruby and I locked eyes and giggled like conspiring children.

None of us were allowed to bring women along for these weekend rides. Kevin brought Ruby, but that was because he wore Hessian colors and we felt privileged to have him tag along, and besides, he had a habit of doing whatever he wanted to do anyway.

Ron and Dean pulled into the driveway. They both rode Vulcans, but they were friends, so we overlooked it.

"Bout time!" I said, getting off my bike to greet them.

We slapped hands, and patted each other's shoulders.

"Whassup! Whassup!" I was saying.

"Not much, man," Ron replied. "Wha's goin' on here?"

"Waitin' on Artie, as usual," I said, turning to Artie. "Hurry up, you slow fuck!"

"I got it, I got it" Artie said. "You ain't been waitin' on me, anyways! These two motherfucker's jus' got here."

Kevin was putting on his helmet, so we all followed suit. Meanwhile, Artie was closing the garage door and strapping his saddlebags on his rear fender.

I fired up my engine, and started a chorus of sweet music for the whole neighborhood to hear. The rumbling boom-boom-boom of a Harley can be the most deafening noise a person can hear, but to a rider, it may as well be an angel's harp.

One by one, we got them all going. The road was looking at us, as we headed off the driveway, past the corner traffic light and onto the highway. A band of brothers for the weekend; fair weather riders to be sure, most of us, but feeling like conquering heroes on the road to fortune and glory.

There's no sensation like having the strength of a thousand cubic centimeters between your legs, more than making up for any shortcomings you might possibly have in the area. There's nothing like it. Some might prefer the more speed efficient crotch-rockets, but they just make you go fast, and get from point A to point B quicker. If you wanna ride, and really feel it and enjoy the scenery and your company, you ride a hog. You let the roar of your engine and the bumps on the road become one with your kidneys and buttocks.

For several years we would go out almost every weekend. Sometimes less riders, sometimes more. Up to twelve of us on one occasion. Often just two or three. But it was always great fun. Even when we ran into trouble, it was always fun.

I miss those days, and the sense of freedom they provided me with. I miss my friends, and the camaraderie between us; the sense of brotherhood. Can't quite replace that later on.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

About Home

Rather than leave a long comment on this post by Standing Naked, I felt inspired to seek out some answers to her questions on my own post.

In my daily frame of my mind, I consider home to be the tangible house I own, where I reside with my wife and child. The place where I eat and sleep, and where the bulk of my income is sunk into.

But on a more subconscious level, I think of "back home" as the land I grew up in, my parent's house, the farm we spent our weekends at, the schools I attended and the streets I was reared on. Rather than a specific place, home consists of a series of memories.

As George Webber finds, in the events so eloquently narrated by Thomas Wolfe, "You can't go home again." As trite and overused as that saying may be, it is one that is true on a multitude of levels.

The most obvious and common of truths - and the one I am primarily concerned with here - is that the home we leave behind is never the same as the one we return to.

I can relate particularly well to that notion on a personal level, since I left my family and country behind at the age of nineteen.

I have been back many times, and I've never found the same place twice. I've become a guest at my parent's home, a visitor at their farm.

Gone are the days when I felt comfortable driving in third world traffic, or walking defiantly through their rough streets. When I'm there, I think of home as the place where I now live.

So where is home?

Presently, I can't think of home as being anyplace other than where my wife and daughter are. But I'm well aware that it is an ever-evolving concept, not restricted to time and place, and not subject to marginal definitions. Home may very well have been a shelter last week, if the weather had been less kind toward us.

But it's not due to a matter of unity, or the strength of the family nucleus holding it all together. I base it more on the fact that my personal comfort and well being are decimated when not in their presence. My levels of concern and stress rise exponentially when they are outside my easy reach, beyond my immediate protection. Having them outside my view makes me jumpy and uneasy.

Though it is literally impossible, or at the very least highly improbable, to be with them at all times and to ensure their safety, by sharing quarters with them I am able to secure my own night-time rest and the suggestion of peace of mind during my waking hours. When I am away, the presumed thought that I will be with them again soon, allows me to stay focused on my responsibilities and not dwell on the uncertainties life brings. Thus home, is a state of mind, wherein we find comfort and shelter from the world around us.


Just some scattered thoughts on the subject, really.


Monday, September 06, 2004

We made it!!!

Hi Everybody!

Well, we got through it okay. Pretty windy, loud and drawn out, but my only casualties were a banana tree, two screen sections around the pool, a whole bunch of different branches, and a tarp covering I had over the door to my outdoor workshop (which will now be replaced by a much sturdier piece of plywood!). Not too bad, considering.

Before I go any further, I would like to thank all those of you who expressed concern for my family's safety. Every kind comment and email was very much appreciated!

The damned hurricane was sooooo slow that we were holed up from mid-afternoon on Friday through Sunday morning. Our power came in and out periodically, but was never out for long. We were one of the lucky ones. Many homes out there are still without power.

Our phone line went out early on. In fact, I still don't have a dial tone. Since this afternoon, my DSL is able to use the phone line to grant me internet access, but I can't use the phone. Go figure. Anyway, in the age of cell phones, the only true reason I need a landline is to go online, so who gives a damn.

All my shutters held out, and that was vastly gratifying. Particularly since I wasn't able to anchor all of them down completely. They were so much of a struggle early on, that I decided if I had four out of six holes nailed down it was good enough for me. Still, late at night, the constant clanging of metal on masonry was enough to drive you bonkers.

During varied stretches of the storm, I would stick my camcorder out and film short bits of action in my backyard and past my front door. The results were far from spectacular and much less impressive than anything you might have seen on TV, but the surroundings were familiar enough to make the footage an interesting personal documentary of the events. After some editing and the addition of a musical soundtrack, I came up with a nice little DVD to send to friends and family in far off lands (six minutes of wind and rain!). Silly, but I enjoy doing that kind of stuff.

I was back to work this morning. Trying to make up for lost time - a lost cause from the start, to say the least. Northbound flower connections haven't gotten much easier. They probably won't until tomorrow, and by then all the flowers we've been storing since last Thursday will be toast. Oh well, not much that can be done there. But I still have to listen to all our customers complaining like it was our fault.

Tuesday is "Brush pick-up Day," so I had to bunch up all the fallen debris on the side of the curb. At least it'll be out of our sight soon.

Now they're saying Hurricane Ivan may be coming our way. We'll see, but I doubt it. Either way, I'm sure as hell not bringing my shutters down until I know for sure!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Update


Closed for Business!





Well, it's been a struggle, but I finally got the house ready to weather the storm yesterday.

I meant to post last night and let everybody know we're doing alright, but every muscle in my body aches - I feel like I've been run over by a semi - so I let myself pass out watching the endless TV coverage.

If you've never been through a situation like this one, let me explain to you how it works.

No matter how prepared for a hurricane you think you are, when one approaches you discover there are always a few things you still need to get. Inevitably, things like drinking water, canned foods, and essentials such as milk, eggs and bread. Enough supplies to get you through a week.

Gas. The moment it becomes evident that there will eventually be a landfall, even if it's north of us, the fuel trucks stop coming down here, afraid they won't be able to drive back out. So the lines at the gas stations that still have fuel become unreal, with people trying to fill their tanks up.

Boards, anchors, batteries, drills and bits, etc.

Since Wednesday, it has become unbearably hard to hit the grocery store or Home Depot. After work Wednesday, I stopped off at the grocery store to pick up a few things. I had to park in a neighboring parking lot. No shopping cart. You couldn't move inside there. The aisle with the drinking water had been stripped dry. I threw a bag of dog food over my shoulder, grabbed a couple of bottles of wine and some cans of food in a basket, and went through the express lane. By the time I got to the car, that 44 pound bag of dog food was destroying my shoulder.

I had metal shutters fit for the house some time ago. You don't realize how many windows you actually have until you have to hang those damned shutters on each and every one. That's a lot of work! And the thing is, I never put in the anchors for the front windows (those you see in the pictures). So now I needed to purchase about 48 concrete anchors, a new drill (the one I had was a rechargeable one, and it would never make it through 48 holes), and some fresh batteries for the flashlights and radio. The hardware department at Home Depot was packed. There didn't seem to be any concrete screws or anchors left, but I found a box of 50 wedge anchors hidden away by someone in a different section. The drills were almost all gone, but I found one.

Thursday night after work, I began to drill the holes. I wasn't even halfway done when I'd stripped the new drill. I pulled out the old one and stripped that one too. It was already ten. I was exhausted. I showered and went to bed.

The following morning I went back out to Home Depot to purchase a new drill. They didn't have a single one!

I waited until mid-afternoon when my brother in law finished putting up his mother's shutters, so he could bring his drill over and help me put up the remaining shutters on my house.

Due to the fact that the storm has slowed down and taken so much longer in getting here, it's given us more time to prepare. It also looks like Frances has turned its attention up north some, so we won't get a direct hit. In fact, besides the high winds and rainfall we're getting now, we might not get much else at all.

Thank you all for your kind wishes! I expect this will all be over by tomorrow. I just hope all the Palm Beach residents get through it okay.



Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Frances

Click here for theme music

It's getting pretty hairy down here. No time for blogging. We're preparing to welcome our dear friend Frances.

I think some of you may already know I work in the import industry. I manage a brokerage firm which clears flowers arriving from South America and Europe and forwards them out to wholesalers throughout the country.

Well, right now all the truck routes going north of Miami are closing, which means we're going to get stuck with thousands of boxes of very perishable cargo here in Miami. It doesn't help that next Monday is Labor Day and they've already set up holiday schedules!

Anyway, I'll let you guys know what's going on as the storm approaches. I've still got to get home and re-fit my hurricane shutters. Can't leave that stuff until the last moment.