Monday, June 19, 2006

My Father ... an Unauthorized Biography

I promised a post about my father ... and in honor of Father's day, here it is ... a few days late

My father was born in 1949 in a little town called Crawfordsville, Indiana (motto: Way more cows than you're thinking). He was the first of five children, but we'll get to that later. What's interesting to note here is that my grandmother, who gave all of us grandkids "the talk" when we turned about 15/16 (this was much to late for some of us, btw) was only 16 when he was born. So all that "wait until later in your life" stuff was defenitely from experience.

Since my grandfather was a carpenter, he followed the work across the country throuout the fifties and sixties, and my Dad lived in many places, including Miami (motto: where the fashionable castro-exile sends their cast-off children, to be eventually forcibly returned by the federal government. Thanks, Janet Reno!) , where his final two siblings were born, and he eventually graducated from High School in Prescott, AZ (motto: there's an aerospace university around here somewhere). During these years, he worked as a butcher in a Grocery Store. When he graduated, he joined the navy, and expected to work in the galleys because of his experience. However, when they gave his the military aptitude test, he was off the scale in his mechaniacl apritude, so that's what they did with him. They made him a mechanic (and also tore up his wrist, but at least he wasn't sent to Vietnam, so ....)

About the time he joined the navy, his family moved back, permanently, to Indiana (motto: combining the worst of the tropics with the worst of the arctic since 1816!) . Why? I do not know.

In the navy, he was stationed at Treasure Island, in the San Francisco Bay, on a tug boat. While in the Bay area, he would meet up with some family friends who lived in Fremont (motto: yeah, there's a town here) , and he started going to church with them there. At this church, he met a high school Junior (I think) named Kathie Fleig. They started dating and by the Christmas of my Mother's Senior year, they were engaged. And at some point, she gave him mono. But, whatever ... These are the stories my grandmother tells.

They were married the next August amidst rumors of pregnancy among my mother's frieds, and, sure enough, a mere two and a half years later, I was born. (Seriously. These were church kids when that actually meant something. They were good.) My arrival coincided with the end of my father's navy career, and Dad decided to take his young bride and infant son back to his homeland ... the great midwest (motto: come for the blizzards, stay for the mosquitoes!). My mother, because she was young and naive, though maybe he'd stay in California (motto: what? we're' california, doofus) , but reality landed on that dream, and she came without complaint. Or, with complaint, but with compliance, not realizing she was soon to be subjected to a completely flat landscape, and snatched of mid-January conversation like this "Hey, it may even get above zero today. Actual temperature, anyway. Yeah wind chill will still be -20, but you can just tell, spring is coming ... eventually."

After working with his father for a while, my Dad got a job at a bottle-cap factory, and he was there for the next 30+ years. He becamse the head of maintenance, and worked long hours throuout the 80's boom and even longer hours through the 90's bust when they let go all of his help. He kept the place running through accidents (he was almost fried in an oven once. He didn't tell us, Mom found out from someone else), ownership changes, stroms, floods, all of the usual horsemen of apocalypse, and he only left, at the tun of the century, because of me. Again, more on that later.

I grew up during these years ... and, I've always loved my Dad, and I know he loves me, but I was not exactly a normal child, and I think sometimes he'd look at me, and think to himself .... what kind of a weirdo have I spawned. Except, he wouldn't used the word spawned. It was probably more like "what the ... you need more comics? You want a structure in your closet to do what with your action figures?"

I was not an easy child to raise, for a variety of reasons. I was undiagnored distracted type ADHD, way to into "the life of the mind" as I like to call it (others call it "living in the clouds" or, alternatively, "head up your ass syndome") I likes Sci_fi and comic books and read huge book sries and had to travel with about 4000 pages of various tyoes of reading material. I was NOT athletic, and worse, yet, had not inherited any of inherit mechanical skills. He actually tried to teach me, several times, how to fix things or build things, but it just didn't take.

But my dad was there for me anyway. When we'd go to strange towns, Like Indianapolis (motto: hey look, a race!) he'dalways help me find the hole in the wall comic shops and books stores and listen to me prattle on in the car. He defended me against those members of his family who thought I was not to be indulged and that all of these things were going to warp my brain somehoe and make me unholy. Turns out they were right, but ... you live, you learn. My Dad may not have always understood me, but he loved me and supported me anyway, which I think is even more of a testimony to his character. He didn't need to "get it" to be there for me. He stood up for my right to be wierd.

And wherever I have been, when I've had a need, he's been there. When I got sick he moved the world to get what I needed to make me better, when I needed help moved (several times, actually) he dropped everything, usually after having worked a 10-hour shift at the plant, to load of the trailer and haul all my stuff (most of which were really heavy boxes of books and comics, actually, now that I think about it) across the county. When things have broken in my house, he's there to help fix them, include 2 recent removals and replacements of toilets. He an Mom are there to watch the kids almost every weekend, and in 1996, when I knew I needed to leave Indiana and go somewhere else to live, he was sad, but he understood.

and then, in a time in his life when he should have been able to think about retiring comfortably from the factory and living out the rest of his life on the property he'd purchased in the 80's and had just paid off, he instead quit his job, and moved across the country, hoping for the best, so he could be there for me and for his grandchildren. And to, you know, help me fix things.

So now, my father works long hours as the head of maintenance at a nursing home, watched my kids on the weekend, and of course, takes care of the rest of the family. He gave up a lot to make this move, and I never really thanks him properly. So, thanks Dad ...

like he's ever going to read this ...

Friday, June 16, 2006

itunes ... you tunes

copied from phil's blog. Kim, I challenge you ...

Open iTunes to answer the following. Go to your library. Answer, no matter how embarrasing it is.

How many songs?: 863

Sort by song title:
First Song: 1000 miles away by Jewel

Last Song: "Zero's and ones by Derek Webb. hmm. numerical references both

Sort by time:

Shortest Song: Lion Wilson by Reliant K

Longest Song: Those final feet by Cowboy Junkes. Probably because the bonus track is attached.

Sort by album:

First Album: 6.1 by Out of the Grey

Last Album: You were Here by Sarah Harmer

Top Five Most Played Songs:
1. "A New Law" by Derek Webb
2. "I Hate Everything but You" by Derek Webb
3. "Try" by Nelly Furtado
4. "Don't Dream it's Over" by Sixpence None the Richer
5. "A Sorta Fairytale" by Tori Amos

many songs come up when you search for "sex"?8 ... because i have the Mary Chapin Caprenter album Time/Sex/Love. honest.
How many songs come up when you search for "death"?1
How many songs come up when you search for "love"?49
How many songs come up when you search for "you"?121

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rock/Suck June 2006 : I'm doing this again ... why?

I promise, no saved by the bell references this time. That meme seems to have spent itself, thank God.

Three Things that ROCK! (god, that sounds lame.)

Over the Hedge/Cars I'm lumping these two things together because I don't want to make it seem like all I do is watch movies and/or TV. Even though I do. I loved these movies, as everyone probably does. I found the most personal connection in Over the Hedge, however, and anyone who knows me will understand that I am now a member of the Brotherhood of Hammy the Squirrel. This weekend, when I was without my meds, It was like Hammy at the end of this movie, after he has sipped the caffeinated soda. I won't spoil it, just ... get the to a theater. I will probably see Cars again this week sometime, because my son, bless his little puddin' heart, fell asleep in the middle of the movie, and the got really upset when he woke up and realized it was over. That's ok. I'll take that one for the team.

Season Finales. This one really belongs to May, but I'll write about it here. I love television. Probably a little too much. I actually prefer TV to movies, and this year several of my shows did not disappoint. Veronica Mars, easily the best show on TV right now, nailed its season finale. I actually had figured out who the murderer was, but it made it no less satisfying. And the season-ending cliffhanger, with Roni being stood at the airport because of whatever Charisma had in the briefcase....sniff. And what can I say about Lost? Yikes! More was revealed in one episode than the X-files ever explained in 9 seasons. The only part I didn't like was how certain characters just wander through the plot at the writer's contrivance....and Charlie....not that I don't understand being glad you're alive and taking some time to mack on Claire, but couldn't you go look for Locke and Eko, you know, just a little bit?

The End of the school year. It's over. We survived. Most of us, anyway. Enough said.

Three things that Suck!

This conversation I had recently with an auto mechanic.
"Mr. Grayson?"
"Well, I'll start with the good news."
"The brakes? We had a look at them, and they're fine. You still have 85% of the pads left."
"Yeah, but why do they squeak so bad?"
"They just squeal. Some brakes do that?"
"Is there anything we can do about that?"
"No. They'll stop eventually, and we checked out that cooling fan thing you told us about."
"Problem have a coolant leak, which is causing the fan not to go on, and we found the leak, and we can fix it, so your engine won't overheat and explode."
"Well, it's not a cheap leak though. We have to replace the manifold gaskets, and that's about $748 for the part and it'll be $968 for that and the labor altogether."
"But, you know, if we don't fix it, the engine will overheat, and you could lose the whole thing."
"But we can have it done by the end of the day."
"Mr. Grayson?"
Sound of siren in the distance.

The check I wrote later that day. Once, you know, the paramedics had revived me.

The sound our brakes are still making. I've just accepted the fact that a pack of dogs is going to rush us every time we stop at a stop sign.

Monday, June 12, 2006

oh look, a chicken ...

Well, it's over. The school year. Our time in purgatory. Our school has been through a lot in the last couple of years, because we are the last school students attend in a highly disfunctional district. In two years, we're supposed to fix them. Doesn't happen, usually, and the state's noticed and then the federal government, and so we've spent the last two years trying to fix everything in sight without a clear plan and with administration that has bailed on us. But, you know, if we had better teachers...

whatever. change is good, and it feels like we're in a good place now, I actually find myself looking forward to going back to school in the Fall already. There's nothing like a new beginning.

Of course, I always manage to screw those up, don't I?

Anyway...this is a little disjointed because I've been two days off the meds and no part of my brain is currently functioning. What was this supposed to be about? Oh, right. Summer.

I need this break but I have the feeling it's not going to be much of a break. I need to write. A lot. I've been working on the novel since november, and just finished chapter 8. I wish I could spend every day in my friend's copy shop, sipping nonfat mochas and typing on my laptop, which is NOT connected to the internet, which enables me to focus on the task at hand.

I also want to spend time with my family. With my wife, especially, since during the school year --and because of my brain-- we tend to lose track of each other because we get busy and when that happens i go dark. It's like being in the bottom of the Lost Hatch AFTER the idiots went and blew up the ladder. I've yet to find the side door.

see what i mean .... must...stay...on...topic....

anyway...just two more really annoying organizational events this week, and that will be done for a while. And after november it will be done for good, and I cannot wait.

wish we could sell the house and move, but that's not happening yet.

I plan to blog more. At least once or twice a week. In between bouts of noveling and obsessively searching the NANO board ( ... the website for national novel writing month)

cutting this off now ... hopefully will be more on topic and entertaining later ....