Traditional Yule

Onesies were Brigid’s idea.  The rest of the siblings had their newborns, new spouses, new houses, new raises, and other welcome topics of the successful adult.  For the singles — Brigid, Kevin, Shannon, and of course myself — still living at home, working as either students or teachers, there were no new achievements or traditional rites of passage to announce over double helpings of pumpkin pie.  For myself, the arrival of yearly milestones — first college degree, first internship, first car, first job, first paycheck, first roadtrip, first love, first heartbreak . . . first hangover — had come to a halt sometime during the last five years.  It was as if while running a marathon, you discovered someone had replaced the road with a treadmill.

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Surf and Turf

The-BeachSomething kissed the surface of the water off to my left.  Reflexively, I began pulling my feet onto the board.  Rodney was on shore, wrestling with his ankle-strap; his surfboard drifted in the tide pulling at the strap like an impatient child.  The rental guy had mentioned how to attach the strap to the board, but excitement and eagerness to start had smothered any useful advice.

“We’ll figure it out,” Shannon had said.  It’s practically a family motto.

We had searching half of the morning for a ideal surfing spot and the remaining half for surfboard rentals near Kapulua.  The beach was located on the western side of Maui, just south of Lahaina.  Large black stones like giant pebbles scattered across the sand.  Smoke billowing from townhouses past the park promised barbecues; a few families ate box lunches at picnic benches; a man strummed his guitar while his wife stared into the tide.  Otherwise the beach was empty.

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Stuck

Hooked-up“I just need an hour of your time,” Dad muttered as my foot hovered over the basement stairs.  Inwardly, my gut tightened with a sickening amalgam of anxiety and dread.  It was almost 9 am and already I felt drained.

My father’s sense of time is generally exaggerated to the point that I had already given up my Saturday as a loss.  After a week of teaching gas laws and grading fifty ten-page labs on molarity (I loathe repetitious activity.  It is the water torture of the soul.), a Saturday morning without immediate plans provides an opportunity for refueling my mental, physical and emotional energies.  For Dad, it’s a chance to simultaneously plan and execute a Honey-do list while enlisting the aid of his inactive children.

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Snow Promises

I wrote this particular post, just hours before the Blizzapocalypse hit the East Coast.  Weeks later, a small storm has covered the area in about 1-3 inches of snow and freezing rain reminding me of this following unfinished editorial, which I’m sending to you all now.  

The world is changing.  I feel it in the water. I smell it in the air.  I see it in the crowds outside the grocery stores.    

I love the promise of change snow brings with it.  Minute by minute, as each layer of ice and flake cake the ground, trees and roadways, snow promises to change the world.  Tomorrow, we will have gone back in time, 65 million years into the past when man would hunt mammoths with long pointed sticks.  No other season grants us this clean slate upon which we can rewrite the world.  Even spring, with its promises of renewal, resuscitates the world of last year, of 2015.  Moreover, the change is gradual: day by day we are given an extra bud, a new leaf or two, one or three extra berries on the vine.  Winter is the contractor with no budget:  “Give us twelve hours and we’ll remodel your entire landscape.”  

The goal and curse of science etches itself in the belief that the universe follows a constant and unerring pattern.  That with inquiry, experimentation and discovery we may predict the outcome to any phenomenon.  To, in short, map the whole of time and space to one solitary pattern and drive chaos from their borders.  This desire grants us control through the sacrifice of spontaneity.  Imagine if you could predict the most minute cellular spasm or broadcast the results of every war, election, and Oscar race.  You would have power, knowledge, and control . . . And it would be boring as hell.    

Winter reminds me to embrace the chaos of change and to wonder at the unexpected.  Like seasoned salt on the surface of a bland meal, this incoming blizzard promises to season the next few days with a healthy mix of excitement and beauty.  Tomorrow outside the world will be a new place: white, silent and sparkling, ready to be either shaped into snowmen or crushed into snow angels.  Long live the unexpected joys.  

Water Strikes

  “Alright everyone, I’m only going to explain this to you once so pay attention.  The motion you make with the oars requires minimal effort.  It doesn’t take much to move these vessels, but you have to follow instructions.  If you do not, I will give you three chances to fix whatever you’re doing wrong and then . . . the coach comes out.  The coach is six-foot two and a nasty SOB.  He will get in your face, and trust me, you do not want that.  I am strict and demanding, but you will learn the correct way to paddle today ladies and gentlemen.  I will not hesitate to send you back to shore if you slow us down by not following directions.  Do not force me to let the coach out, gentlemen.”

Dan, our kayak instructor, finished his tirade with a long hard stare at Rodney and me.  Instinctively, I turned around.  Not seeing any spider, snake or shark, I considered that Dan had already singled me out as the ‘problem child’ of our little excursion.

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Adventure Hilton Head

Attempting to pull me away from my ps4 and the latest Batman game, my siblings have kidnapped me this morning.  We are currently heading south to Hilton Head Island, SC to enjoy the next ten days biking, golfing, and avoiding the occasional shark attack.

Compared with our Orlando vacations, Hilton Head decided is a welcome change of pace.  Biking, golfing, swimming and eating encompass much of the island’s entertainment.  And while fishing and kyaking are available by reservation — I’ll discuss these in a future post — the point of Hilton Head is to imagine a vacation without schedules, roller coasters, or hour-long queues outside of Space Mountain.  I’ll post pictures of the resort and the island over the next few days with a proper write-up of our adventure after we return.  See you later!

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TTWA: Plath on Xanex

TTWA Assignment:  Write a poem by Sylvia Plath on antidepressants.  

Ha, okay.  So, this one’s a bit of a challenge for me, as I’ve never read much of Plath’s poetry.  In fact, that which I do know stems from her feminist roots, daddy issues and depression-induced suicide — which I might be able to glean from the assignment anyway.  Providing antidepressants to tortured artists has always intrigued me every since I saw that Dr. Who episode with Van Gogh (Watch it, yourself.  It’s excellent.).  Imagine Van Gogh happy and successful, but the world without Sunflowers or Starry Nights.  Which is more important: human life or immortality?  

Anyway, I based this poem after Plath’s ‘Daddy,’ which after reading it seems poor taste considering it’s Father’s Day here in the States.  Then, I thought . . . well, if a young troubled Sylvia received treatment at a young age, then she might think more kindly of her father.  We might turn this poem into a Hallmark card . . . 

Dear Daddy

You do not buy, you do not buy
Any more, black shoes, dad.
They do not fit, the wrong size
For thirty years, you buy my clothes,
In this dress, I can barely breathe.
This fabric makes me sneeze
Achoo. 

Daddy, I’m gonna kill you,
if you keep buying sweets.
Chocolate, cakes, Thin Mints.
I feel heavy, a bloated bag, God.
Oh, this diet ruins my life.
Feelin’ big as a circus seal. 

Did you hear, Daddy?
There’s a big dance in the town
In a flat, that got me thinkin’
Of boys, boys, boys.
Even though we have so little in common.
I hope he calls soon, my Polack friend. 

The black telephone rang near the root
of my bed, just as I thought, ‘Screw it.’
He asked. And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through waiting.
You warn me to be careful and sober.
But your voice just can’t worm through. 

Post-dance, Twilight movie.
Monster killed one man, then killed two——
Ew, the sparkle vampire watched Bella sleep.
I’d let Edward drink my blood for a year.
Seven after ten and home, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back in Lazyboy now. 

There’s only one man in my big red heart
And if the whole village hates you.
If the world dances and stamps on you.
I will always be there for you.
Daddy, daddy, with this poem, I’m through.