Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clearing His Head...in Argentina


For this Fatherhood Friday I choose to swing a little political. I'd like to bring up the unfortunate events surrounding Governor Mark Sanford. I have a different view than what's been expressed. It occurs to me that we should be staying out of his personal affairs. Since I defended Bubba Clinton in this manner, I felt it would be contradictory if I jumped on the bandwagon against Gov. Sanford simply because I don't share his political views. As long as he's responsible at his job...

What's that? He disappeared for five days misleading his handlers as to his whereabouts. He said he was meandering up and down the Appalachian Trail when in really he jetted down to South America? Well, you're right, that doesn't seem very responsible. I would imagine if some gubernatorial emergency were to arise it would be necessary to have the Chief Executive Officer of South Carolina on speed dial, even if he did need some personal days to "clear his head."

But can't we be forgiving? If we were French, we'd all applaud the affair and pop open a bottle of Dom Perignon. Truly, this is none of our business. Perhaps Governor Sanford and his wife aren't the stuffed shirts we think they are. They very well might let their hair down every once and a while, partake of the herb, and baum-chicka-baum-baum. No one said he was some sort of moral barometer who defines marriage by stringent standards...

Wait. Say that again. He insists marriage should only be between a man and a woman? In fact he's patently against gay marriage or any gay union for that matter because of that old 'sanctity of marriage' chestnut? Well, it seems to me he may want to broaden his definition of marriage to include a man and a woman and his international chew toy.

Even still, I'm sure he's a responsible father, like so many of us. I've seen a picture of his four sons and they seem to idolize him. I am sure he was greeted by some wonderful surprises this last Father's Day...

Say what? On Father's Day he was in Buenos Aires with his mistress? And where was he for his kid's piano recital? A fucking Chinese opium den!

Okay, Governor, I've tried to be cordial. I have even given you some nifty excuses, but no more. The chinchilla lined lambskin gloves come off...

Let's start with a civil rights lesson. Gays and lesbians want the right to legally marry. It has nothing to to with the sanctity of marriage, which really you should never be allowed to bring into your argument. Sanctity comes from the Latin sanctus which means holy. Don't look now but Church and State seem to be intermingling, doggone it!

I'd be wary, Governor. It seems that those in the political arena who speak loudest against homosexual issues end up with a gay relative. (Dick's daughter. Newt's sister.) Now, you have four sons. The chance of one of them becoming a fabulous queen is...well, let's face it, it's tremendous. If you're like most parents who want your kids to be happy, you should really rethink your gay marriage stance just in case. And while you're at it, I'm sure you want grandchildren, so how bout supporting gay adoption as well.

Gays will destroy the sanctity of marriage? I don't think we can take that honor.

Be sure to take the time and enjoy the other great post at Dad Blogs!

Dad Blogs

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June is Bustin' OUT


He believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He then openly opposed Proposition 8. He has made June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. And yet he doesn't seem to be any further along repealing the Defense of Marriage Act nor Don't Ask Don't Tell. I can't imagine the juggling our president is currently doing. To say he has a lot heaped on his plate is an understatement. However at some point, he's going to have be a leader in these issues, otherwise his mixed messages will be as confusing as this picture.

Great piece over at John and Steve are Having a Baby. It's gay pride. It's gay fathers and mothers. It's a lot of gay fun and yours truly wrote about some personal gay moments.

Happy Belated Gay Pride!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cosmo the Killer


Last Thursday was Maxie's birthday. I derive a sense of security from the day of my daughter's birth. Not only was she born on Father's Day, which becomes all the more significant when two fathers are involved, but she was also born on the same day as Isabella Rossellini, Carol Kane, Roger Ebert, Paul McCartney, E. G. Marshall, Jeanette MacDonald, William Randolph Hearst III, John D. Rockefeller IV and in the center square, Mr. Uday Hussein. You see, all these folks, along with my darling three year old were born on the Day of Financial Security. (Not that that helped Uday.)

My sister, a while back, gave me one of those birthday coffee table books that has never lived on my coffee table. It's called The Secret Language of Birthdays, and in it the reader is given insightful information about "personology profiles" for each day of our calender year. Now, I couldn't tell you the special name for the day on which I was born. Nor could I tell you anything about Michael's day, nor Sebastian's. But Maxie, lucky minx, was born on the Day of Financial Security. And not that I'm a staunch believer of this tome, but I think that's just swell.

I imagine if I were a stellar parent, I would have preferred the Day of Happy Life, the Day of Good Health or the Day of Finding Deep Everlasting Meaningful Love. Even the Day of Decent Looks and Moderately High IQ should probably rate above. But in these fiscally difficult times it provides me with some solace that my girl will not be selling thimbles on the street corner. Now if I can only get her to sharpen her sharing capabilities.

Anyway, on this last Day of Financial Security, as I was glazing the chocolate croissants with a beaten egg, I looked out the window and noticed something dead on the lawn. This is not unusual in our back yard. You see, our dog is a cold blooded killer. We got Cosmo at the Pasadena Humane Society. They told us he was half red husky, half chow. With his curled tail and face mask, the husky part makes sense. However they were way off base thinking our mutt could be part chow. As Cosmo (named after the libation) grew and grew and then grew some more, we ticked other breeds off the list as well. German Shepherd, no. Malamute, no. Great Dane, no. It was only after talking to another owner walking his very Cosmo-looking dog that we found out the truth. I asked him what breed his dog was. He looked down his pointed nose and with scathing contempt spat out, "This is not a dog. This specimen of supreme pulchritude is a wolf."

A wolf!

That explains the four or five dead rats, the three dead squirrels, two dead birds, one dead skunk, one dead house cat (which belonged to our neighbor, amazingly still a friend) and too many to count dead opossums. And that's what I saw on this Day of Financial Security, a dead opossum. I grab two plastic shopping bags and do what I do. There is no way Michael will bag cosmokill, so it's up to me to butch up.

Sebastian insisted on helping me and that made me ask myself, at what age are we supposed to teach our kids about death? I wished I could have remembered the name of the day on which he was born. For instance, if he was born on the Day of Takes it All in Stride, then helping me bag a rigor critter wouldn't have been an issue. However, if he was born on the Day of Even the Smallest Thing Can Set Him Off, I might want to create a diversion.

I've since decided that Sebastian must have been born on the Day of the Grosser the Better. He couldn't stop asking questions. Why is the opossum dead? Why did Cosmo kill the opossum? Why is the opossum covered with bugs? When will I turn into a girl? Choosing to deal with his transvestism later, I tried to sum up the back yard violence by matter of factly bringing up The Lion King, circle of life and all that. He barely listened to my partially thought out response. Instead he wanted to poke the dead opossum with a stick.

I heard the garbage truck on our block, and I figured if I sprint I can get the beast in our black bin and he'll be whisked away by Los Angeles's finest in waste removal. But something stopped me. I must have missed it before. Outside the door leading to our back yard, a dead baby opossum was laid out for us. As a cat offers it's kill to his master, so did Cosmo. Once again, this was not hidden from my six year old, who thought the dead baby was a neato keen bonus. I figured if I didn't get too sentimental, I could throw baby opossum in the Vons shopping bag with the dead adult opossum and still make it to the trash man. As I placed it's skim milk colored body into the bag, I saw its sibling trying to wriggle out of the bigger opossum. ALIVE.

Oh, my God, it's a dead mommy opossum and she's giving birth!!

The garbage truck was getting nearer but the only thought going through my head... Abort mission. (Perhaps an unfortunate choice of words.) I may have no problem throwing cosmokill into our trash bins, although I highly suspect it may be against the law, but I draw the line at throwing out the living, no matter how disgusting they become when they reach puberty. But beyond keeping this creature from getting compacted by a garbage truck and serving chocolate croissants piping hot, I wasn't sure what my next move should be.

As the day progressed, I found out some stuff. Opossums are marsupials. The little one was three to four months old, not a newborn. (Newborn opossums are about the size of your thumb nail. Our guy was three inches.) It was wriggling out of Mama Opossum's pouch, not birth canal, as I first suspected. And there is a Crazy Opossum Lady in the environs of Los Angeles who collects stray and orphaned opossums.

I've blogged about Maxie's preschool before, little did I know that the Managing Director knew all about marsupials. She's from Australia for dingo's sake. So, I brought Lucky to her wrapped in an old baby blanket. (Yes, we named it Lucky.) And she was to give it to Crazy Opossum Lady, who has had up to one hundred opossums at once! She only has thirty at present and was eager to expand her tribe.

Now that Lucky has been delivered, I can focus on my daughter's birthday party. No sooner had that thought knocked into my head when the phone rang. It was the school. Crazy Opossum Lady informed them that mama opossums usually have seven or eight bambinos, and she ordered me to go back to the corpse and inspect the pouch for more sibs. I mustered up all my butch for this one. Once again, plastic bag in both hands, I found the pouch with its many teats, but no babies.

Sunday. Day of Maxie's party. Before I take a shower, I go out to clean up dog poop. Two more shopping bags, my carbon footprint getting deeper and deeper as I preserve dead marsupials and excrement in plastic. And that's when I found him. Another dead baby. Eyes closed, the color of skim milk. Sebastian came outside, his death fascination hardly waning, and he found one as well. One by one we called out, "Here's another" in a bizarro Easter egg hunt kind of way. We found six dead baby opossums on Sunday. Add to that the other dead baby and Lucky and that makes eight total. Crazy Opossum Lady was right.

Don't judge me children, but after reliving the grizzly story of my daughter's birthday, it most definitely is cosmo time. (Killer cocktail, not killer canine.)

PS. I was curious. I went back to the book. Sebastian was born on the Day of Earthy Chemistry.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mum's the Word


So, I've been dithering. I've started three blog entries, none of which have come to fruition. They lie dormant, in a state of stasis, waiting for me to polish them up and place the final period. But lately when I'm not performing in benefits, pouring over almost incomprehensible legal documents, carpooling the kiddies, battling dragons and putting out their fires, I'm too tired to blog. Instead, I find myself watching Humphrey Bogart movies on TCM.

***

This last weekend, I was part of a benefit performance for my dear friend Mari, who needs help with her medical expenses. She was diagnosed with cancer in April and has been going through hell to get healthy. Her situation is certainly part of the argument we are now facing regarding health care reform. She has insurance, however with the chemo and the hospital visits and the various medications getting pumped into her, her bills remain astronomical. There's this one shot she's taking that has an eighty dollar co-pay. She's supposed to take this for six months daily. Do the math, it's rent for a year. She's temporarily moved from her home in LA and is an out patient at a hospital in Houston. Her husband of one year went with her. Of course, she's not working. Her husband is doing what he can, but if he stays by her side he isn't working either. It's a horrible, horrible situation.

We raised around $2,100 this weekend, which is a start. Mari is a warrior who needs our help. All her energies should be focused on getting well, not worrying about medical expenses. This is an instance of it takes a village. I invite you all to check out the web site dedicated to Mari's health and recovery. Please make a donation. No amount is too small. I guarantee it will be greatly appreciated.

***

We're settling out of court. I'm about to sign the papers and after I do a confidentially agreement will keep me from ever talking/writing about this again. Mum's the word...

Which makes Mommy wonder... Where the hell does 'mum's the word' come from? One source cites the phrase "as silent as the mummy." However, I much prefer the literary reference. In Henry V, Part II, Sir John Hume espouses,"Seal up your lips and give no words but mum." Shakespeare's way of saying "Shut the fuck up!"

Anyway...

...We've found Sebastian's school for next year!

To quickly recap: Bash will finish kindergarten on Friday and will need special ed services next year. He has both auditory and visual processing issues. Thus it's difficult for him to retain things. We've shelled out a wad of cash for him to get tutoring at Sylvan Learning Center. He's been going for about three months and still he only knows seven or eight letters, and maybe about five numbers. He can write his name but can't tell you all the letters in his name.

After his last IEP (Individualized Educational Program) Michael and I were told Sebastian could not return to our dream elementary school just down the street, because they do not have the programming my son needs. It was a tremendous blow and I'm still recovering. The Board of Ed gave us only one option, a school of concrete and razor wire with over 700 kids. I had this horrible image of him on his first day, having to become either a Jet or a Shark. (How telling is it that my only gang reference comes from a musical?) Sondheim aside, this establishment of learning was not for my little one.

We felt as if we were backed into a corner and had no recourse but to hire a special ed attorney. This turned out to be the smartest thing we did. She has been a godsend. And I write this for parents out there who think getting a lawyer is too drastic, or too much of a bother, or too expensive (her services are paid for by the school district!!!) Pick up the phone right now and make the call. And I'll tell you why...

Originally I posted specifics in the next paragraph. However, our lawyer thought that an unwise move. So, the following is the edited version of what was originally written.

...The minute we got our lawyer, the district started working in our son's best interest. It was almost as if they realized we weren't parents who would roll over to maintain status quo. You'll just have to take my word, Sebastian would not have received many needed services had we not gone the legal eagle route.

***

As for my half started blog entries with anemic content sitting in bloggers limbo, they will have to wait. This is what's on my plate for the rest of the week... Sebastian's school is ending and we seem to be inundated with end of the year parties (chicken legs on Monday, kickass Greek salad on Saturday.) Maxie is turning three on Thursday (cupcakes at the school), and at our house on Sunday the actual birthday party (princess or fairy or fairy princess...the theme changes as often as Maxie changes her wardrobe...barbecue, fruit salad, chocolate Tinkerbell cake, mimosas.) I get a little acid reflux just thinking about the next few days.

And now, dear ones, I'm off to sign legal papers, never to speak of our settlement again.

Seal up your lips and give no words but mummmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Like a Stradivarius

Last week, I assumed a conscientious, thoughtful wife demeanor. I entered the kitchen with purpose, but not to belittle nor cause defenses to arise. "Michael," I calmly started out, pleased with my nonthreatening tone, "We need to talk." He stopped what he was doing, looked me the eye, no computer screen, no iPhone in sight. All these years of programming have finally begun to pay off. "Yes," he said. His voice was strong, maybe a bit on the defensive, but able to listen. Good. "Look," I continued, "I have a slight suggestion. Now, I don't want you to respond right away. Let me say my piece and walk out of the room, think about it for a while, and we'll talk about it later." I came up with this system because neither one of us is good when cornered with a slight suggestion. And sometimes living with it, even for one day, takes the edge off. "I know how busy you are running the theatre. I am aware that theatre hours demand most of your evenings. However, I think it's important that you be home for one family dinner during the week."

My tone was pleasing even to my ears. I got the information across. I did not accuse. I showed an understanding for the demands of his job, all the while sharing a concern about the family meal. I turned to walk out, but before I was able to leave the kitchen...

"The thing is we're opening a show this week...''

"No. Just think about it. Your kids miss you and would love to see you at dinnertime." Once again, I turned...

"And I'd love to but the sound designer just quit and..."

"I said think about it." My voice pitched higher than I would have liked. I modulated, "I understand this is opening weekend. So, maybe you can find an evening next week to be with your family, which I know is one of your priorities." Okay, I admit, that last bit was un peu bitchy. "Now, let me leave the kitchen for the sake of our marriage."

"But next week we're starting another family series and I need to be..."

"STOP!" exploded from my mouth with the power of Vesuvius back in the day. "I spelled it out for you. Don't say anything and let me get away. And if you had to respond, which is a really bad idea, how bout 'great idea, Hutch' or 'let me think about it, Hutch.' But that's it! For God's sakes, husband, learn to play me."

Two days later, Sebastian was giving me the raspberry. What started out as cute soon became torrential. Droplets of spittle machine gunned out of his mouth at a furious pace. I told him to cease and desist. But caught up in the fun of spraying my visage with saliva, my son was oblivious to my growing anger. There was no help for it, once again I erupted, "STOP! Look at my face. Is this moist face happy?" He answered no. "Of course not. Because this is Papa's mad face. Study it closely. If you see my face beginning to look like this, then it would be smart to stop. Read my behavior, kid. Learn to play me. "

My daughter, Maxie, wanted a graham cracker before dinner. "How do you ask?" I prompted, feeling generous. Pleeeease, she plaintively whined. I didn't like her tone and asked her to try again. She interpreted my request by whining even more earsplittingly than before. Pleeeeeeeeeeeezzzzz! My generosity started to slip. I tried to get her to actually look at me, to use round tones and utter a more appealing please. But she refused with three year old (next week) belligerence and turned to stone. So, I said, "Maybe I'll give you a graham cracker if you say 'You're the best Papa in the whole wide world'" I thought this would break her sullen mood. Besides I love the way she says it. It sounds like You're in bed Papa with da Hawaiian ho. But she refused to play. She started crying and getting hysterical. Generosity gave way to irascibility, so once again... "STOP! You're not quite three, so I'll make this simple. There will never be any graham crackers ever until you make Papa happy. Learn to play me."

I may be setting myself for a future fall. But I realized something. I need to be heard. I need to be respected. Even if my family only pretends to listen to me and mutely nods to my well thought out pearls, I am sure I could derive some sort of solace. But when they start speaking before I've tacked a period to my sentence, when they cut their eyes or ignore me, the same volcanic anger that denied graham crackers and spit games might just take me over the edge. And none of us wants to see where that goes.

So with a little eye contact and a comprehensive ear, play me. Finesse me. Manipulate. Cajole. Fandango. Whatever it takes, pacify my moods with a veneer of understanding.

At some point, I may realize this tactic does not really work. But for now, my dear family. For now...