Entries from February 1, 2010 - February 28, 2010

Friday
Feb262010

6

When we take long trips in the car, your brother - almost immediately - falls asleep. This approach to long trips is not without merit. But you just stare out your window, the whole time, looking with subtle urgency, seeing what you can see.

In parking lots, I scoop you up and you protest because, you’re right, you’re getting too big. You’re 6 today. But sometimes you let me and I, because your Daddy is consumed by last things, always wonder “Will this be the last time I ever pick you up?” I’m never sure, so I act like it is. To let you, when you are this little girl, burn into the memory of my hands. To feel the sweetness that can only exist in the midst of somber things. Endings. Last times. Never agains.

Heed this. The only way to truly hold someone is like you never will again.

I used to remind myself of this when you were a baby and your Mom worked nights. After rocking you to sleep – you were just a tiny flake of stardust – I would pause, let all my concerns settle like so many autumn leaves, and trace all your impressions into memories: the weight of you on my chest, the sound of your breath, the movement beneath your eyelids as you explored the country of your dreams. “Remember… this.” I whispered. And I do. I bet you do too. Hidden in the back of some dark closet in the basement of your mind.

The morning after you were born, a Saturday, I left to pick up my paycheck. I was in such a hurry to get back to you, I got a speeding ticket. The cop saw my hospital bracelet, asked about it, and my eyes misted over. I hadn’t fully digested what I was trying to explain: “I have a daughter. Born yesterday. I’m on my way back to the hospital right now. To see. Um. My daughter.” He wrote the ticket anyway. Said the speed limit applied to new Dads too.

Honey. Promise me you’ll never marry a cop. You’re definitely more of a jewel thief kind of girl. You deserve a man who will take great risks for you, who will wear black gloves, and shatter glass cases under the cover of night and dismantled security alarms. Only to sneak back to your loving arms with pockets full of rare stones and precious gems. Your husband will cover your ground with emeralds and throw sapphires in your sky. Please be careful. Take it slow, little girl. Wear the world like sparkling jewelry.

I want to teach you. I am so filled with wanting to teach you. I want you to read the hardest books by the most brilliant minds and not discuss them with others. People have the curious need to simplify your complexity, to tarnish the mysterious places where you shine the most. I want to warn you against discussing religion and politics. Avoid saving the world. John Cage said you’d only make matters worse. But here I am. I know. Embroiled in contradiction. Trying to save you.

So, sweet girl. You are 6. If anything then, just this: Keep staring out the window . Keep seeing what you can see. It’s a long, long trip. But we’ll be there soon enough.

Happy Birthday Elle Bee.

Monday
Feb222010

Fuck You I Won't Do What You Tell Me

When Killing In The Name came on, me & Jack were just kicking back in the Saturn Vue (a collector’s item), waiting for Lucy to get out of kindergarten. Waiting in the car with Jack always makes for the weird silence. You know? The weird silence. I mean. At home, we can at least look busy while we ignore each other. But waiting in the car, when the only thing to do is talk, the silence is something of which we’re both acutely aware. We hover around speech like birds of prey.

Jackson is a vibrating knot of shit constantly going on but none of it makes it to the surface of language. You can actually hear the gears ticking and his wheels are all grinding and his brain is this boiling stew of bubbling insecurity. And, if you can believe it, that’s the quiet part. The loudest part of my silent son is the fight to the death between innocence and sex. There’s blood in his face. The kid is always blushing.

But if you ask him how he is, he’ll tell you just fine. All his doors are locked. I was a boy once. Now I’m a man. But I lost my keys to the in-between. He can’t even hear my knocks.

So, like I was saying, Killing In The Name came on and, for whatever reason, I hesitated and didn’t advance right through it. As it played, I wondered about the spastic ending and 11-year-old boys and whether or not I should jump to the next song in the shuffle. I also couldn’t believe the song was 18-years-old. 18. Jack would be 18 in seven years. How could I possibly unleash a kid on the path to adulthood without letting him hear Killing In The Name?

I spied on him, in the rearview, when Zack de la Rocha began to mumble repetitively near the end of the song. His eyes squinted into slits to hone in on what he was hearing. Did he just say…? Yes. I think he just said… And by the time de la Rocha escalated his mantra to a full on wail, my son was mesmerized. I love him so much.

This is the way childhood ends. Not with a whimper but rage.

Wednesday
Feb172010

Juicy Blog Whore Gossip Where Names Are Named

Hi. Sorry. I’ve been away. I’m currently addicted to formspring, but it won’t last. I was recently addicted to iPhone Words With Friends for 20 minutes. That didn’t last either.

So anyway, formspring. People ask you questions and you answer them. In other words, anonymous people give you writing prompts. It’s a lot easier than starting cold. But I just got asked a juicy blogging question that I’m going to answer here. Because this is a blog. And what better place for juicy blog stuff than on a blog? But I also understand there’s a segment of the blog reading population that is repulsed to the bone by blogging about blogging. So to you, I’m sorry. Run along now.

Here’s the question:

“Would you concede that you ‘used’ certain bloggers you don’t respect and never did in order to get more attention early on?”

Okay. Here’s the deal. When I decided to start blogging, I read a million blogs. And I commented on a million blogs. Not all of the blogs I commented on were written by people I respected. So, if using a blog’s comment section to get attention translates into using a blogger, yes, I used bloggers. I know. I can hardly live with myself. Thank God I don’t own a gun.

If you want to spread your name around, here’s what you do. Read highly trafficked blogs and leave witty, interesting comments. If you’re good at it, you’ll attract a lot of the blog’s readers to your blog and if you’re really good at it, you’ll snag the blogger him or herself, which makes you feel awesome for a couple minutes.

(For instance, I just had Liz Mom101 comment on my last post and she’s like this huge deal. I saw her in a magazine and said “Jenna. See this parenting icon? Totally reads my blog.” But I wonder if Liz was using me? Do you think she respects me? Does being respected make being used better? Or did she only come here because I used her first? I bet Liz feels used and manipulated and dirty. She’s probably crying in the shower right now.)

But still. If you’re going to attract people to your blog with witty, interesting comments, you better write some cool shit or they won’t come back. I know there’s a ton of you who don’t want attention or traffic or readers because you write for yourself and art and Jesus. Because your soul commands you to write and shit like that. Good for you. You’re pretty awesome. I hope you impress you.

I wish you were more specific about who I might have used so I could answer you directly. The people who generated the most attention for me are Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, Metrodad, Jenny The Bloggess, and Panic Room Ryan. I would call all of those people friends who I respect. I also get a lot of attention for yelling about Dooce & Dad Gone Mad, which is lame when you think about it, but strangely addicting.

Blogging is weird. You make friends fast and they fade away quickly. But beyond using comment sections for my own promotion and asking bloggers direct questions (using them for answers), I don’t concede.

Should I? Concede? I mean. Was it you? Did I use you? If I did, I’ll fess up. Apologize. I’m always the last one to know when I use people I don’t respect.

Wednesday
Feb102010

My Truth Is A Duplicitous Urethra

My blog - friends, enemies, critics from various schools of pop psychology - is my personal space wherein my truthiest truth shines forth in its most truthfullest truthhood. It’s like a virtual organ, you know? Sometimes it’s my brain. Sometimes it’s my heart. Sometimes it’s my urethra (a complicated organ that emits both waste material and the seed of life). But the truth – my truth (I’m looking at the man in the mirror) – is complicated. It depends.

Indeed, friends. Truth itself is a urethra. Piss. And semen! All from the same fucking tube! It’s enough to melt your brain. Philosophy is dangerous. Poetry is lethal. The truth is a toothless trailer park whore who tells you she loves you while she bangs your pal Kenny on the side. She tells Kenny she loves him too. Does she love you both? Yes. And no. She digs through both your pockets while you sleep. Oh truth! You meth addled whore! I love you. I hate you. Who could count your faces?

This morning, Jack slammed my Gatorade on the counter and yelled “When are you gonna drink this Gatorade?!? And make some room for other people in the house who use the fridge too?!?” and I, of course, thought about smacking his mouth. I also wondered who the fuck he thought he was talking to. I am a monster. But, there, you see? This moment of fantasy 11-year-old beating, when dwelled upon in isolation, tells a true story that isn’t altogether true.

Truth, in order to remain true to it, needs larger contexts to endure its contradictions. She loves you. She loves Kenny too. But use a condom! Truth is a disease. If you’re not a hypocrite, you’re doing it wrong. The trouble with writing anything at all is that it immediately implies its opposite. Indeed, it’s upheld by its opposite. I want to beat my son cradled in the arms of loving him.

I used to love this girl, Kerri, and she didn’t love me back in the right way, so I wanted to kill her. The severity of these feelings produced a high pitched need inside me. I just wanted her to understand me. You know? Don’t you ever feel like that? Like, fucking understand me, God, please! My best writing is motivated by misunderstood love.

I still hate being misunderstood. Writing should open things up and make you wonder. That’s all. Writing should tip toe. You know? It shouldn’t know what it is until it is what it is. And then it should move on. But the more I write on the internet, the more I keep bumping up against people who don’t want to wonder and move. They want to stand still in the simplicity of knowing it all.

The truth is a mess of lies and broken bones. First it’s this. Then it’s that. And then it’s gone. Is that bleak and negative and hopeless and ugly? What’s the alternative? If I bring up Haiti (or Auschwitz), it’s not like I’m TRYING to be hopeless and ugly. It just fucking is hopeless and ugly. That’s what it is, man, when people fly planes into buildings and the earth swallows 200,000 people. No one gets out alive. That makes ME a bummer?

If you think I’m a bummer, then I feel misunderstood. Because I still kiss my wife on the mouth. Nothing I’ve ever written is an argument against making out. I love making out. The earth is made of death. It’s filled with corpses. You’re made of death. You’re filled with corpses. We’re all floating on a life raft made of bones on an ocean of blood and, yeah, maybe that’s bleak but it’s the only life we’ve got and plus there’s kissing.

Think of all the screams heard throughout Haiti. Find someone to love and make out like crazy. Be torn to pieces.

Monday
Feb082010

Sometimes, Blog Commenters Are Smarter Than Me And, Because They're Not Jerks, I Don't Ridicule Them

I got so bent out of shape by Amy’s positive thinking inspirational hope crap (see last post), I completely overlooked a great comment by Lucy. Not my daughter Lucy. Blog Commenter Lucy. But what if Blog Commenter Lucy, like, really IS my daughter Lucy, but only from the future? That would make my blog the coolest blog in the world – way better than Dooce’s and Dad Gone Mad’s combined. It’s not like their blogs are wormholes where the future communicates with the present. Their narrative structures are rigidly sequential. Pshaw.

Anyway, Lucy was concerned about The 365 Day BHJ Fitness Regime (see 2 posts ago) and compared me to Frank and April from Revolutionary Road. I didn’t light her up like Amy because, basically, I’m not sure what the fuck she’s talking about. Also, if she gets too mouthy, I can use the blog to go back in time and remind Jenna to TAKE HER FUCKING PILL - negating Lucy’s existence and all her blog comments from the future.

Anyway (again), Lucy said that “Frank and April couldn’t catch satisfaction because they wouldn’t admit that the things that interested them were unsophisticated, sloppy, boring. [They] were tragic because their ambitions didn’t complement their tastes.” Like I said, not sure I get this because my tastes are awesome. And pretty fucking sophisticated too. I read books. Huge ones that would blow your mind.

Frank and April were obviously trapped in a tragic mire of negative thinking.

Lucy continues “There is a dishonesty in too strictly disciplining yourself because you aren’t admitting to your emotions, your real-time mood, observations and the subtle ways those things interact with your environment.” Just tell me this. Is there a way for me to use the above statement to cram a peanut butter cup in my mouth? I don’t have to get it. Just yes or no?

LUCY: “What if you’re running to a place where routine and formula are more important than an honest analysis of yourself, your environment and the present? What if this is too simple? What if there is more choice, more contingency and more responsibility involved in changing your body in 2010? … I hope our choices aren’t limited between indulgence and a promise. Instead, I think the choice you are coming closer to is more like this: either remain in an iron, rewarding routine, or subject yourself to a complicated, vague and painful negotiation between your body, your personality, your surroundings, your self image, your wife.”

I think, and again I’m not sure I sincerely “get” her, the divergence here is between routine and negotiation. I am usually a big proponent of flexibility and remaining negotiable. However, I know myself pretty well insofar as I make no sense to myself.

Take drinking for instance. If I try to have a couple drinks and not get in fist fights, I inevitably fail. I get mouthy as all hell and don’t stop drinking until I pass out. So there came a time where I had to become inflexible about drinking. I just can’t do it. No more negotiating. And I think that’s where I’ve arrived in terms of my health and fitness. If I give myself the wiggle room to not run on a particular day, that will inevitably turn into two days, a week, 6 months. Those are facts borne out by the last 5 years.

So I’ve merely decided to run every day – like I decided to not drink. There will absolutely be a future me who wants to drink. A future me will definitely want to take the day off running. What’s the value of resisting those futures? What’s the value of honoring them? Good questions, Lucy. I’m not sure I know.

Honestly, I thought the mile minimum was sort of a nod to flexibility. If, on any particular day, I only have time to run a mile, I can rip that off in 7 minutes, not a huge time commitment. But I’m still hesitant to wholly disagree with you. I might be using fitness to avoid honest analysis. It’s extremely possible. There are huge gobs of stuff roiling around all of us that wants to be avoided. I’m no truth hero. I’ve told you all along that I’m a liar.

However, I love the idea that all systems, especially “air tight” ones, conceal a flaw. The harsher the rule, the more severely it calls to be broken. So I’m going to knock a day off for Lucy. On The 364 Day BHJ Fitness Regime, you get one day off. One blemish in the name of flexibility. And regarding the no meat rule, I get to eat unagi. I mean. Who really cares about unagi? They’re fucking eels. Eels are terrifying water creatures. Eating eels creates a less hostile and frightening ocean environment.

How’s that? Does that work for you, Lucy? You could always just go to your room.

Wednesday
Feb032010

Sometimes, Comments From Amy Are So Stupid, You Have To Write Whole Posts About Them

Covering the distance from Lucy’s bed in the morning to school feels like climbing Everest. She’s a total pain in the ass. There’s wardrobe issues, breakfast problems, and the double whammy of brushing hassles: hair and teeth. I should interject here, for the small minded people who can’t hear a story without constructing a whole worldview to condemn, that I love Lucy. I fucking love Lucy, okay? The wind whispers Lucy. She’s the future. Etc.

Anyway, Lucy abhors the emergence of morning consciousness. Loving her does not exclude the fact that she’s a terrible person.

But the benefit of having a blog is getting tons of unsolicited advice from, like, life coaches or whatever – people who read blogs to tell strangers how to fix their lives. In the comments for my last post, this Amy idiot announced “Energy follows thought. What you focus on becomes your reality.” So what the fuck? Why not try it with Lucy?

“Lucy honey. You should focus on your pretty dress – see the flowers? - and your yummy breakfast. Mmm. Yummy.” And then she did! We both did! We focused super really hard with our most positivest energy on all of life’s excruciating goodness and I’ll be damned if a rainbow didn’t erupt in the kitchen. There were happy dwarves and unicorns. Lucy’s breakfast transformed into chocolate cake, red licorice, and a 2-liter of Sprite. Flowers bloomed. The sun sang. I came in my pants.

Jack came downstairs, kinda groggy, and asked what the hell was going on. What’s with the rainbow and the flood of boundless joy? “It’s Amy!” I cried. “Wise Amy from my blog says ‘The condition of your life is your choice’ so, for today, me and Lucy choose freewheeling gaiety and lighthearted mirth. Unleash the power, Jack. Free your mind from its prison of negativity. Create your own reality… with the POWER… of your…” I stretched my arms out wide, opened my palms to the sky, and made this kick ass mystical face - “FOCUS!” Thunder clapped. It was so fucking cool. You should’ve been there. You would’ve grooved on my positive vibe.

Jackson grimaced. He’s totally caught in that thinky pre-teen angsty phase where most all stuff sucks. “Your choice?” he scoffed. “200,000 people were just buried alive in Haiti. Was that an earthquake or flawed thinking?” I squinted, telling him to shut up with the gesture of my irritated face. “They chose that how, Dad? What’s your dumb ass new age Secret DVD say about shit like Haiti?”

“Well,” I stumbled around a little. The little fucker had me. “Well, Amy would tell us to shift our thoughts so our lives would shift and then we’d have what she called a ‘better existence’. So… shift your thoughts, smarty pants. Think about happy shit. You know? Focus on it. Like, check out all our cushy American comforts. Let’s partake in some.” But the rainbow? It was gone. The flowers wilted and my dick went limp. Lucy scowled. She said her breakfast was cold, she wanted her Mom, and she hated me.

Life is a mess.

Some people, and they are idiots, think messes get cleaned up by ignoring them. Others, and I applaud their nobility, perform the real work of cleaning them up. Still others, believing that life’s very essence lies in its messiness, find sublime joy in the dirt.

To master the art of playing in the mess. For me that’s the best. Eventually, little girls get off to school. They smile. They hug you. They make the earth quake.

Monday
Feb012010

The 365 Day BHJ Fitness Regime

WARNING: This is not a Fitness Blog. It’s not a Daddy Blog either. I’m gunning for a kind of definitional defiance that plays in the shadows of evading its own appearance, like life. But the kids are cool. They say hello.

So, hey, guess what?!? I ran every day in January, all 31 of them - more than 120 miles - stopped eating junk, and lost 17 pounds. This makes me an expert on exactly nothing but, fuck it, I write a blog. Accountability is for all those other jerks.

Here’s the plan. Run at least a mile a day for a year and stop eating meat & candy. Then, see what happens. You missed January, but it’s not too late. February is young. Most people who know anything about fitness say that you absolutely NEED a rest day or you’re going to get hurt but just laugh at them. Tell them “Shut up, school boy.” Or girl, depending on the situation.

The 365 Day BHJ Fitness Regime is not for the meek. You have to be a dignified human being who’s capable of making and keeping A Promise. The ground of Being finds its constitutional essence in the swell and sway of ceaseless flux. So what the fuck? Are you just another fragmented hunk of goofy morphing wishy washy energy? Or can you declare something today and see it through? Into the future. Even when you don’t want to. Unchanging. Defiant. Can you, today, right now, absolutely discount the future possibility of changing your mind? For a year?

Go find a mirror. I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and say something along these lines (if they apply). “You are disgusting. People starve to death all over the world and you have the nerve to be made out of fat. Look at you. Even your cheeks are fat. What the fuck is your problem? Is it psychological? Biological? Or do you merely lack the fortitude to make a promise and see it through? What distinguishes you from a lowly stray dog with matted grey fur, ruthlessly bound by the whim of his instincts? I hate you. Sometimes, I wish you were never born.”

The crux of the First Step in The 365 Day BHJ Fitness Regime is intense self loathing: “We admitted that we are disgusting excuses for people and we hate ourselves.”

The Second Step is “We revolutionized our relationships to comfort and hunger.” Seriosuly. Life is not made out of milk chocolate and feather pillows. It’s all knives and danger and blood. If the sole end of your life is achieving comfort, you’re completely misguided and fat and probably super boring to talk to at cocktail parties. I mean come on. There’s plenty of time to be comfortable when you’re dead. For now, we need a radical new commitment to suffering.

If you’re jogging and it’s comfortable, expect to remain fat and boring. You need to push past what feels good so your body is thrown out of whack, requiring it to change and adapt to handle the confrontation of new challenges. Again, people will warn you about injury. But that’s exactly what we’re looking for. We want to injure our fat selves. When you want to quit, that’s when you should smile perversely. You just found the border between stasis and change.

What is necessary is a quirky new desire for pain. Let the dead people rest in peace. Life is for strife. Today we burn!

Lastly, and this is a completely new discovery of mine, consider the possibility that you’re supposed to be hungry. After just a month, that topped off full feeling – the feeling I used to achieve at every meal – actually feels disgusting now. Try eating half of what you want and converting your lingering hunger into a poem, a musical composition, or some unconventional hot sex with your spouse on the kitchen table.

To summarize, dwell on your self-loathing until you either want to kill yourself or make a promise that sticks. Then, run, or if you don’t want to run, do something – move – every day. Learn to want the opposite of what you want. When you want to take a day off, get off your ass. When you want to quit, keep going. And, lastly, learn to appreciate the sensation of being hungry. The yearning for satiation is a craving for death. Step away from the fork and go fuck your spouse. On the kitchen table. That’s what’s for dinner on The 356 Day BHJ Fitness Regime.