Untitled. (I Didn’t Feel Like Thinking of One)

After years of waiting, no one came – Thom Yorke

Way back when, when the best years of my life were still thought to be in the not so distant future, anything seemed possible. The Rolling Stones were some old jokers even back then, and hearing them sing about how time was on their side, I thought time was going to be a friend to me too, well, at least be on my side or something. Little Orphan Annie was in on the time is your friend thing too. She sang about tomorrow, with all of this expectation and energy, and how she loved it, and it was only a day away. Things seemed possible, never mind the fact that I didn’t have any solid plan or any hint of one. Great songs do that, communicate an idea so effectively that you almost forget that, that beautiful and sunny tomorrow that Annie so deeply loved, will most likely be as shitty as today.

Today, tomorrow, the next day, they start to look and feel the same after a while. I wasn’t unlike most people who thought they could grab the world by the tail and do what I wanted. I did things my own way and I did them at my own pace. My pace, despite a relatively consistent punctuality, could be characterized, as one job performance review put it, lacking urgency. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans right? The plans, ideas, and dreams that I once held so closely, and thought so much about, sat in Father Time’s waiting room, hoping to get cleared to participate in the big dance.

Save my seat.

I’m only posting this because I hate a neglected blog. And by my definition, a neglected blog is a blog that doesn’t have a post every month. Oddly enough, I have been writing, just not anything appropriate for this space.

But more is coming, (not that you care, or have noticed the lack of production, or even read this dusty corner of the worldwide webs) I can say that. So as a treat, I linked up this ranking of the best minivans as of 2012. I just want to say, I’m surprised the Grand Caravan isn’t ranked higher, and I would drive any of the top six, except the Kia Sedona. Also, even if the Nissan Quest is ranked number one, it’s easily the ugliest minivan on the market.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Day In the Life, November 28th, 2012 (pt. 1)


5:45 a.m. – Alarm sounds on my wife’s Blackberry every day at this time. It is an effective alarm because it is very loud. How loud is it? Loud enough to be heard from downstairs. Guess who had to go downstairs and turn it off.

5:57 a.m. – In bed again. With no safety net (no snooze button, alarm fully disabled), the possibility of falling asleep and running behind is very real. The anxiety of finding underwear, uniforms and shoes, keeps me awake though.

6:07 a.m – Get out of the bed and wake The Rose. She’s autistic, and despite her many oddities, she’s actually the most obedient child we have. She went to sleep before dinner, so a bath is required.

6:20 a.m. – First child is dressed, and only her hair needs to be done. My wife, her mother, the slowest thing since molasses takes this task on. This process will last up until and possibly after the bus arrives.

6:33 a.m. – The bus arrives, and The Rose boards with no problem.

6:34 a.m. – Boil water for coffee and veg out for a few minutes. Vegging out basically means I check various social media streams while ogling local weather and/or traffic ladies on the morning news. (but don’t tell my wife about that last part, she doesn’t like that)

6:45 a.m. – Make and consume coffee.

6:57 a.m. – Say good bye to the wife as she heads off to her job.

7:00 a.m. – Wake up my oldest daughter.

7:15 a.m. – Check to make sure oldest daughter is out of the bed.

7:33 a.m. – Wait at the bus stop with the oldest daughter. Odd thing though, the bus arrives and my daughter gets out of the car as slow as possible. The bus has to clear a few cars parked on the side of the street in order to pull over to the curb. Once the bus passes my daughter, she starts walking back to the car. She opens the door and says something about getting written up for chasing the bus (which is bs btw), and I tell her to go and get on the bus because it is pulling over. She walks back, and sees the bus is still inching farther down the street to pull over, but she turns back towards the car again. Seeing enough of this foolishness, I let down the window, stick my head out, point at the bus and scream ‘GET ON THE BUS!’.

7:34 a.m. – Go to the grocery store to pick up breakfast and dinner stuffs.

8:31 a.m. – Take call from oldest daughter. She forgot her basketball gear for practice after school. Which means, I have to take it to her before I go to work.

8:40 a.m. – Quick clean up of the kitchen, while I prep breakfast for the trips and start meat sauce for the po’ mans pasta AT THE SAME DAMN TIME!

8:55 a.m. – Serve breakfast, turn on PBS, and finish up sauce.

9:00 a.m. – Sneak upstairs to move bowels, wash thine body and remove unwanted facial hair.

9:20 a.m. – Come back downstairs, watch Sesame Street with the kids and veg a little.

10:10 a.m. – Received a 3 messaged text detailing the in and outs of her lunch order. I put it on Instagram for reference.

10:37 a.m. – Leaves house.

10:45 a.m. – Arrive at daughters school to drop off gym bag. (second time this week with this nonsense)

10:56 a.m. – Head towards Potbelly’s for sandwiches.

11:23 a.m. – Arrive at the wife’s jay-oh. Drop off sandwiches, and exchange quick innuendo.

11:44 a.m. – Arrive at the jay-oh for a half-day’s shift.

I’m gonna stop here and make this a two-parter. This is way longer than I thought it would be, but whatevs, find out what happens next in Part Two.

Come Hither

Come here. Two words. Two syllables. The two words, (and the syllables) when put together, seem like a simple request, however, when half of your six children have yet to hit the age of three, then simple requests, become two year old mind games that this recently turned quadragenarian is not built for.

It’s not that I don’t love playing with my kids, it’s just that when I ask one of my kids to come here, it shouldn’t trigger a Pavlovian response, that has them do almost anything other than come to where I am.

The responses I get to this request vary, depending on what mood the kids are in. The mischievous response, indicated by a giggling toddler stampede that ends with me running after and rounding up the kids like some bleary-eyed toddler wrangler is most common in this house.

Then there is the rebellious response; a ‘no’ is required obviously, but depending on how the ‘no’ is delivered will cue you as to how you want to move next. A quick ‘no’, requires quick action. Appopriate responses include: a stern talking to, time-outs, or a good beating depending on whether or not you want to truly damage your kids. But if you get a ‘no’ that starts with a high musical note, that sort of fades slowly, like when you say ‘awwww’, then maybe you can negotiate something that will end in your favor.

The existential response, the quizzical and never-ending ‘Why?’, is possibly, the most frustrating response of them all. Now let’s be clear, I’m all for encouraging our children to ask questions, challenge conventional thought, and investigate matters that deserve further inquiry, but when time is of the essence and the question, ‘why?’ has made its fourth appearance within the span of two minutes, you might find yourself saying something like “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”. It’s moments like this when you realize that are dictatorships not only necessary, but more importantly efficient. After that, you should also recognize that you have officially become your parents. It happens to the best of us, and unless your parents were total idiots, then you and your kids will be alright.

Strangers In the Night

Got them DVD's

I live in an ‘urban’ area. I won’t get into the politics of that word and what it implies (partly, because I’m not really sure), but at the moment, I take it to mean dealing with some undesirables (people, places or things) more often than I would like. Let me also note that I’m certain that the list of undesirables I would find in the suburbs would be equally disturbing, but that is neither here nor there.

Now, I’m all for entrepreneurial endeavors and folk making a way out of none, but not so much when it involves pulling dollars from my already slim pockets for sub-par product. So when a mysterious man in a generic black fitted and gold tooth creeps up on me in his black Dodge Charger on blades at the gas station , I put on my meanest face when he simply asked “Hey, how ya doing? You looking for some DVD’s?”. I have to admit, the nicety “how ya doing” threw me off for a millisecond, but I was able to re-apply the screwface and add the appropriate level of bass in my voice when I replied “Nah man.”

And that was it. He snaked through each section of pumps politely asking the patrons whether or not they needed the newest latest DVD’s on the bootleg scene. I took a blurry pic of his Charger to capture our exchange.

Ghost in the Machine

I work nights. The reason I work the night shift is because you get a little less work for a little more pay. For the most part that I get exactly that, and in moments when I’m feeling more appreciative than normal I might actually thank the good lord for such minor blessings. It’s death on your career though, the night shift gets no attention and doesn’t beg for any either. But that’s another entry for another blog.

So I’m driving home like I normally do, listening to some random classical music the public radio station has chosen for me. Sometimes I don’t go for classical music on the drive home simply because it can be sleep inducing if I’m not careful, but generally, it relaxes my mind without being distracting. I pull into my driveway and decide I was going to secretly smoke one of the cigarettes I’ve been stashing at the job. I notice Radiohead’s Kid A cd in the passenger seat next to me and pop it in as ‘mood music’.

Perfect music if you want to add a dreamlike quality to accompany clandestine smoke sessions in your own driveway. I commit a slow suicide with each inhalation of tobacco and the assorted carcinogens that accompany my cigarette smoke. I exhale and think random thoughts like ‘I wonder if the neighbors dog knows what brand of cigarettes I smoke based on the smell?’, you know, heavy stuff.

I glance at the ground, notice my shoes and a dull glow coming from under the minivan. It’s odd, the fog lights appear to be on. I unlock the minivan and go to turn off the headlights, and the door starts ringing like my keys are in the ignition. The lights aren’t on and I close the door and scratch my head. I take pull one last drag before I go in the house and then the headlights light up. Ten seconds later they turn off, and I realize then that my minivan is possessed.

hood figga pt ii

I read in some book where the author warned against befriending the neighborhood addicts.  Like stray animals, once you start feeding them (so to speak) they won’t go away.  Don’t know if you remember this post, but I adhere to a hard and fast rule about panhandling in that I do not participate. (usually)  This rule mainly applies to folk that are just passing through.  If I don’t see you begging for money on a regular basis, then the chance of you getting any money from me is next to none.

But back to this next character, we’ll call him Jon because he told me that was his name.  He’s broken man.  A pronounced limp, scraggly beard, wears a beat up ball cap and maintains a Pig-Pen like aura about him.  He hustles at the same gas station as that newspaper-window-washer dude.  In fact, he has the same hustle as the newspaper-window-washer dude AND for a small time period Jon and NWWD were competing to be ignored by the majority of this Chevron’s customers.

I buy gas often, so I see Jon often, and seeing someone everyday breeds a certain familiarity.  He asks to either clean my windows or pump my gas.  I never let him do either.  For whatever reason, he talks to me, even introduced me to his son.  (an odd moment indeed) Well I know the reason, it’s because even though I don’t let him dirty up my windows with the dirty cleaning fluid they keep at Chevron, or pump gas in my car, I do give him money.  Last couple of times I’ve seen him, I’ve been uncharacteristically flush with cash and hit him off with a fiver.  (which is a panhandler no-no)  Now when I see him he greets me with more enthusiasm.  It doesn’t bother me anymore.  I give him a pound and then disinfect my hands with sanitizer when I get in the car.

The Rat Race

willing to die for a biscuit

willing to die for a biscuit

Breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day.  McDonald’s breakfast however, is as important as it is cheap.  We visited one morning with the oldest child in tow.  Popular destination among the minivan set, as moving children through their morning routine is a taxing one.  Pulling into this particular destination, we had a near collision turning into the drive-thru as this Honda Odyssey driver cut us off.  Profanity followed.  Poor lady was getting cursed out seven ways to Sunday and  didn’t know it.  To add further insult to injury the Odyssey driver held up the line at least twice as the efficiency of the McDonald’s crew moved the line quicker than expected.  This inspired more profanity, however biscuits were consumed shortly thereafter.

Can you spare a dime?

Those of you familiar with the historic streets of Third Ward, Houston know the diverse community that has come to live there.  A little bit of bourgeouis plus a little bit of ‘hood.  A slight real estate boom and aggressive gentrification might have upped the property value in some parts of the  neighborhood, but there are still areas of Third Ward that remain true to its *ahem* urban flavor.

Take for instance the corner of Dowling and Southmore.  Specifically the Chevron on the corner of Dowling and Southmore.  This gas station is the typical corner spot gas station.  They serve what the neighborhood needs.  Fried chicken, burrito’s, chips, candy, bootleg jewelery and bootleg Obama gear all slightly overpriced.

All of these things bring a certain amount of aggravation on a bad day.  But none are more bothersome than the homeless hustlers (we’ll refrain from calling them crackheads since I have no actual knowledge of their drug use) who mill about the station offering their specious services to unsuspecting patrons.  In general, a hard line must be taken and reaffirmed regularly.  Any money given to these types has just purchased you a friendship that will cost you cents on the dollar everytime they see your car.

Since I frequent this station, I’ve laid down a good track record of refusals to limit my harrasment when I get my gas.  The wife on the other hand fell victim to one of the newer homeless hustlers working the station.  I saw him coming up while I was pumping gas and didn’t think anything of it, but the wife had her window down.  He made his pitch, clean windows for $.75.  Impressed by his appeal to work for money instead of beg, the wife accepted his offer. 

that is newspaper in his hand

that is newspaper in his hand

He dashed back to wherever he kept his cleaning products and dashed back to complete the job.  All of this would have been a minor annoyance if he hadn’t almost knocked me over to get to the squeegee that was waiting for action in dirty water.  So he hits the windows with the spongy side of the squeegee and doesn’t wipe it off with the the blade side.  The result? Dirty water on dirty windows.  Then he pulls out his own cleaner; a spray bottle that contains more dirty water, but with bubbles.  He sprays the cleaner fluid on top of the dirty water that was dripping down the dirty windows.   How would you wipe off dirty water on a dirty window?  With a balled up piece of newspaper of course.  Long story short, I gave the man an extra $2.00 to stop.