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Morning-Shower Phobia

Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, xenophobia. There are phobias for just about everything. I, thankfully, suffer from none of them. Well I’m not big on heights and you don’t want to see me around ketchup and iced tea. But other than that, I am just short of normal.

I took a self-imposed break from blogging though I continued commenting on other people’s blogs. Anyway, the break from blogging coincided with my break at school. Movies, Chuck E. Cheese, a visit to mom, editing of my novella, a staycation with my wife only, and sleeping in till 8:00 (yes, that is a big thing in my house) were just some of the highlights from my break. Of course, I found some time for self-loathing and questioning of my direction. However, the best part was not setting the alarm and moving at a different pace.
On Tuesday night, I had my clothes out, lunch made, lesson plans prepared, etc. I had psyched myself up and was ready to return to work. Then, I made a terrible mistake. I checked weather.com. The site said it would feel like 9 degrees at 6 a.m. That is the time at which I am standing on a street corner praying for the bus to come. My heart sank as my resolve froze. Uggh. I added a pair of long johns to my pile of clothes.
Wednesday morning came, and I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom for my shower. You see, there are two types of people in this world: “shower-before-bed” people and “shower-in-the-morning” people. I happen to be the latter. Thus my shower serves a dual purpose: a clean start and a wake-up call.
I looked at the shower and had reservations. Let me tell you about our shower, and you will understand. It takes a couple of minutes for the water to warm up. Once it does warm up, it can be scalding. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, why don’t you just balance the hot and cold knobs so the water will come out at a temperature you are happy with. Sounds logical. However, my shower is not logical. The knobs are inconsistent, so I never know where to turn them to in order to get a comfortable temperature.
As I have mentioned many times, I often lack patience. So, sometimes in my rush to warm up the water, I turn the hot up too far. It will be a comfortable temperature when I get in and suddenly the water will be scalding. Then, I will turn the hot water down and pump up the cold water and a minute later, the water is freezing.

I have little tolerance for extreme temperatures. So, I spend half the shower jumping away from the water. I jump so often in the shower that it could be a new kind of exercise. You have zumba, pilates, and shower dance (sounds like it should be way more erotic than it actually is). This drastic change in temperature makes washing my private parts an act of faith. So, one minute, I’m burnt like a beach bum and the next minute, I’m frozen ala Walt Disney.

Then, you have water pressure. Well, you may have water pressure, but my shower sure doesn’t. Give my two cups of water and an hour, and I can generate more pressure than my shower.

So now, I have made a change. I am no longer a daytime shower person. It is too scary in that shower on cold winter mornings. In fact, you could say that I have a fear or phobia of my shower. There’s got to be a name for morning-shower phobia.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fishing with Lou

Calm waters, bonding time, thrill of the pull. Yeah, I have no interest in fishing. Seriously.
My Uncle Lou passed away when I was 10. Unfortunately, I only have vague memories of him. My uncle fought in World War II, marched in the Mummers Parade, and was a September call up for the Philadelphia A’s.
Uncle Lou was the type of uncle that would buy you ice cream even though you were about to go home and eat dinner. He was the uncle who would come to your baseball games. He was the uncle who would make every trip seem interesting.
And he was the fisherman of the family. My father could get sea sick during a long bath. So, if my brothers or I were to go fishing, it would be because Uncle Lou took us. However, the majority of the fishing trips were for my two oldest brothers. I was too young or at least that is what I was told.
One day my next older brother, NG (by two years) and I were playing with our new fishing rods that Uncle Lou bought for us. It was a particularly slow summer day. NG and I stood next to each other in front of our house. We were in competition as brothers always are. The goal was to see who could cast their line further. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember it made me want to go fishing.
Eventually, Uncle Lou decided that NG & I were old enough to go fishing. And I caught a fish. Well, sort of. I had a bite on my line and pulled it in under Uncle Lou’s tutelage. I was excited and dreamed of telling my older brothers about my big catch. So after a moment, the fish became visible – barely. The fish was no more than six ounces and three inches and bloodied from the fight with my line. The pathetic thing eventually fell off my line – becoming lunch for some other sea animal.
Shortly, thereafter Uncle Lou called it a day. The fish weren’t biting, and the weather was ominous. We stopped at a diner on the way home. Uncle Lou congratulated me on my near catch and told NG he would do better next time.
Unfortunately, there was no next time with Uncle Lou. He died rather suddenly leaving everyone sad. He was one of the good ones.
Anyway my next and last fishing trip was just an excuse to drink beer with a couple of friends. Oh well.

This was a semi-elaborate way of saying I am taking a break from blogging. You know like they say – I’m gone fishing. I don’t where that term comes from. I’m sure I cold Google it, and I just might eventually. Anyway, I won’t be posting for the next week to 10 days. I need a break. I just might pop on WordPress and make some comments, and I might not. The lack of commitment. I am a guy you know.
Lastly, I want to wish Happy Holidays to all of you who will be celebrating Christmas next week. May it be a wonderful, peaceful, and joyous holiday.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Saving the Moon

What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) It’s a Wonderful Life

I was driving home from an errand last night, Wednesday. It was around 5:15 when I looked up in the sky. I was struck, nearly dumbfounded with what I saw – the biggest whitest moon I ever saw. For a moment, I convinced myself that I could reach up and touch it or at least drive to the horizon and be enveloped in it.

As I drove home, I had to continually remind myself to look at the road and be aware of the traffic. Driving 101 – right? Well, yesterday, this basic driving necessity was truly a struggle. Instead of giving the road my full concentration, I followed the moon which seemed to be moving as I moved. I imagined G-d was playing volleyball.  I remained mesmerized and marveled over nature the whole ride home, “It’s so huge, isn’t it especially bright, is it following me home?”

I had to share this beautiful moon with my family.

I walked in, and my wife was sitting at the kitchen table working.

“Come outside. I have to show you something.”

“What? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. Just come. You have to see this.”

“It’s cold.”

“Just put on your jacket and come with me. Trust me.”

She got on her jacket and followed me outside. I brought her to a spot where you could the moon was visible. I put my hands on her shoulders and said, “Look at the moon. Isn’t it amazing?’

She was quiet for a moment, taking in the amazing sight. She smiled, “thanks for giving me the moon.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Now, let’s go back in the house. It’s cold.” We walked back together.

Later I brought SJ outside. It was after his shower. He wore his winter coat. He was shoeless so I carried him on my shoulders.  When we got outside, I said, “Look at the moon. Isn’t it awesome?”

“Wow, it’s so big!”

“Doesn’t it look like you could touch it?”

“Hmm. I don’t know. I’m cold. Let’s go inside.”

“Don’t you want to look at the moon some more?”

“No, I just want to go inside.” He wasn’t impressed.

Later on, I took BR out who was dressed similarly to SJ. BR decided to walk. When we got outside, I said “Check out that moon. Look how big it is.”

“That’s it? You brought me out here to see the moon. I’m going back in.”

“Don’t you think it looks huge?”

“I’m going back inside.”

I guess the children aren’t ready for the moon. Well, my version of Mary liked it, and so did I.  Next time, I’ll save the moon for my wife and me.

 

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Please Come Back

It’s enough.

But it’s still on my mind.

Don’t bore your readers.  They’re tired of hearing you talk about this.

But aren’t you supposed to write what is on your mind? Isn’t that how the best blog posts get written?

I guess so. But consider your audience.

I do consider them, but I need one more entry, and I think it will be out of my system.

I’m sorry. Did you hear that? It was a conversation I was having with my writer self. I recently read about someone else conversing with their muse over at a blog – authenticlifejourneys.com I follow (and recommend by the way).

Anyway, the storm and its affects are still on my mind. You see my family and I are still without power. I know, I know – so many people are really suffering while we are just inconvenienced.  I understand and feel bad for complaining.  However, last night the temperature got below 50 in my house while the darkness descended by 5. It was a long cold night and I am sick of this! I want my life back.

This weekend was a tease. We spent the weekend at my mother’s condominium. Heat, light – ahh the comforts of modern life.  It was beautiful and so appreciated.  It was hard to leave. I prayed that when we got home, and the electric would be back on.

No such luck. The electric company (PSEG) said we would be back by Sunday at midnight, then Monday at midnight, and then Tuesday at midnight. The have a PDF with each county and when the power will come on at each place. If they can predict it with such accuracy, why can’t they just make it faster? I’m sure they are doing their best but that does not take away the frustration.

I have been moving slowly since the storm has hit. This is not like me – I’m a doer. I make lists. I accomplish.  And now Sandy has struck, and everything has changed. Life has taken on a Ms. Havisham like pace.

I woke up last night somewhere in the early a.m. after dreaming of warmth.  I popped my head out from under my covers hoping that the heat had come on. The chill that hit my nose put reality in my face. I readjusted my hat and snuggled against the flannel sheets.

In the meantime, I am back at work and the children are back at school. We will return home as if it was a normal day. Then the darkness will descend, and we will be left sitting and hoping that tonight will be the night when normality truly returns.  I am tired of this!

 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Let me Help

It was a beautiful late summer day. The streets were crowded with people milling around. Aimlessly.

“I think we should go down there,” I said.

“Why” my fiancé asked?

“I want to do something. Maybe, we could help somehow.”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what we could do there.”

“Yeah, dude,” my roommate added. “I don’t even know how we could get there. The subways are not running below 14th.”

“We could walk from 14th. It’s not so far. I want to help out. What good are we doing sitting here?”

The three of us stood outside of the temporary Red Cross building. By the time we had gotten there, they were no longer even taking blood.  All we could offer was dried goods – soap, power bars, etc.

“I think it’s nice that you want to help, but there is nothing we can do,” my fiancé said.

I scoffed in frustration and replied, “I want to see what those bastards did. I want to see with my own eyes.  I want to help. We’re just sitting here. Sucks. I’m going a little crazy here.”

On September 12th, 2001, there were probably many such conversations going on around the city.

It’s natural to want to help others in times of trouble.  When we hear that a friend, neighbor, or family member is ill, one of the first questions we ask is, “How can I help? What can I do?” It is the normal reaction and one that binds us together. People want to help and feel useful. Being productive allows one to feel pride, accomplished and useful.

Since before the storm began, I have felt compelled to organize my home. I have been going through drawers, closets, and desks. Throwing out, straightening up, and sorting through. There is chaos outside my door. Everyday life has been thrown into tumult. However, in my home, I will keep order. I suppose you could call it a coping method. I’d like to think it is a good method – cleaning the house while not driving my family too crazy.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went into my backyard and gathered up the largest limbs that lay strewn about and placed them on the curb. Today, Thursday, I called the Office of Emergency Management a couple of times. I wanted to offer my services – a healthy, relatively strong body. No answer. I spent over an hour and a half raking leaves and gathering sticks. The trashcans are no longer in the garage, the basketball net is no longer on its side, and the outdoor furniture is back on the lawn. Our house looks like it would normally on a fall day.

We remain without power. School is closed for the children and me. My wife’s work place is closed. So, things for us are far from normal.  Yet, many have it much worse and their normal will never be the same. I wish I could help.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Sandy – From My Perspective

*** Please note this was written yesterday. Unfortunately,I was unable to post. Today, I am at family member’s house who has electricity. Therefore, I can post this and recharge all the electronics.

Like many, my family and I have been dealing with the storm that has ravaged the Eastern Seaboard. Thankfully, we are fine – inconvenienced but just fine. Rather than give you a play by play of occurrences I wanted to share a few snapshots.

-I did not pay any attention to the storm whatsoever until Friday. In fact, one of my students joked and asked when will the homework be due if school is canceled. I smiled, “We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

-Shop Rite was packed Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. when I arrived. They were already out of D batteries and had run out of flashlights. For all the difficulties this storm has caused, it was good for retail – at least it was prior to the storm.

– “You must not be afraid of heights,” my neighbor called out to me as I sat on my roof pushing leaves onto the grass. In fact, I spent nearly two hours cleaning out my gutters praying the predicted gusts were truly hours away as predicted. Actually, I am afraid of heights!

– Monday morning was eerie. With each drop and gust, I waited for it to get ‘serious.’  Along the way, my wife and I periodically watched the news. We both find it funny to watch the weather people who get stuck with the beach reporting job. Tell me, when they say everyone should evacuate, why is there always some poor person who gets stuck with that gig? You know what he/she is thinking – I better get that anchor position before next season.

– At 2:45 Monday afternoon, we lost power. Nothing dramatic occurred. One second the power was on and the next second it was off. There probably was a gust that preceded the loss in power, but I did not notice it.

-By 6:00 that evening, dinner, which consisted of left overs, was eaten and the black of dark had descended. The boys were fighting over our various lighting instruments. No surprise there. They both sleep with a light on.

-After watching a movie (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – my wife wisely had charged the portable DVD player), the boys were ready for bed. We slept in the playroom, which is mostly underground. As we do not live especially close to water, Sandy was more about wind here than rain. Anyway, our campout – the euphemism we used for our children – was a bit rough.  After the children finally fell asleep, things were calm. At least they were inside the house.

– Walking up the stairs was scary.  The sounds of the wind howling, the sight of the shades blowing, and the trees swaying was rattling. I hurried back to the safety of the playroom.

– Before I went to bed, I looked out and watched the trees swaying. The trees were battered and looked as if they were a fighter who has taken too many hits. The tree scene in the 2nd Lord of the Rings movie went through my mind. I turned away in fear and concern.

-This morning we were awakened at 6:00 a.m. by SJ’s first bathroom trip. Apparently, we can sleep through a hurricane but not by a 5-year-old who needs to pee. I noted that the winds had nearly subsided.

-When light came up, I surveyed the damage from my living room window. On my block, two arbor majesties had lost the fight. Miraculously, no one was hurt and there was minimal property damage.

-“BR, how about some Cinnamon Toast Crunch and ice cream for breakfast?” What the heck – the ice cream wasn’t going to stay for much longer. We were going to use as much of the food as wisely as we could.

Now, it is after 3 p.m. though it feels much later. I have no idea what is going on as I have barely left my home (well, I am posting at neighbors – not everyone lost power). Each of us has gone through bouts of stir-craziness.  However, we are holding up well, but with another day off tomorrow, I am concerned.

To sum up, we are fine and fortunate. Thank G-d! However, it would be nice if Mr. Potts could lend us his flying car.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Anatomy Lesson

Last week, Nate the Great of insanityofmotherhood.com did a guest post (https://memyselfandkids.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/nate-sees-my-future/) on these pages. She blogged about a conversation she had with her teenage boys about sex education.

While my children are younger than Nate’s, there have already been inquiries down that road. I like to say I handled it smoothly, but I’ll let you be the judge. The article below appeared in 201 Family – a local magazine.

WHAT, NOT YET!

My first grade son asked me the name of a female body part. He was in the bath and doing his usual playing thing – putting water in his mouth and then spitting it out as if he were a refined decorative fish at an upscale establishment. While I find it silly and annoying, he does it quite well and smiles and giggles each time he does it. So, as long as he keeps the water in the bathtub, I grin and bear it and let him have his good time.

I popped my head up from the Wall Street Journal. Egypt could wait. This was important. “What? What did you say?”

He repeated with all seriousness, “What is the female body part called again?  They don’t have a penis – right?

This is the same boy who just that day freaked out because he could not find his SpongeBob video and who the day before screamed as if the house was on fire wanting to know how much four plus six equaled. Striving not to let my face reveal the shock I felt, I replied, “That’s right, girls’ don’t have a penis. Only boys do.”

“All girls have the same thing?”

“Yes,” I answered him,” I paused, not quite knowing how to go on with the conversation. How much did I need to say?  Surely, he was not ready for a detailed anatomy lesson. Was he going to ask me where do babies come from next? Had he heard the word sex? I was definitely not ready. I glanced at my watch – when would my wife be home?  “Why are you asking me this? Where did you ever hear this?” I grew up the youngest of four boys, and at his age, I told people I hated girls.  My grandfather used to tease me and make me repeat “I hate girls.”  It made me feel like I shouldn’t say it, and he seemed to find it amusing.

“I just want to know.”

“Do kids in your class talk about this? The school bus, kids are talking about this on the school bus – right? It’s okay, just tell me.”  I could almost swear this was not on my mind in first grade.  One of my most vivid memories of first grade is my best friend and neighbor, Marc, and I walking around the school yard playing follow the leader with our eyes closed. We would take turns: one day he would lead and I would put my hands on his shoulders and the next day I would lead and his hands would be on my back.

No water spitting now. He was saying some word to himself quietly trying to get it right. “I just want to know.”

I tried to press him again about where he first heard the word but was getting nowhere.  He barely tells me anything. We laugh and play together but rarely does he reveal the bigger stuff to me.  He saves that for his mom. She’s a better interrogator than me. I don’t have the stomach for it. She’s fierce and gets him to talk. It’s a good thing.

I was stuck. Do I tell him? Does this ruin his innocence?  Does it start him down a path that could end in sexual depravity?  Or is it an innocent question?  Is he discovering himself and curious? It could be an intellectual inquiry.  I took a deep breath and quietly answered him, “It’s called a vagina.”

“What,” he said in that abrupt nearly harsh manner he often says the word.

Now, it was my turn to repeat myself though this time I said it in a more regular tone of voice. I said, “It’s called a vagina.”

He looked up at me curious as ever and said, “Every girl has one?”

“Yes, every girl has one.”

He seemed content with this answer. He started repeating the word over again though it did not sound like I had said it. I didn’t bother trying to correct his pronunciation. I was relieved to have the conversation ended. I know he is growing up, is curious, and is exposed to certain things that I might not want him to be. However, I am much more at ease with this being one of those conversations that belongs in the category of we’ll deal with it then sort of thing. Does 21 sound reasonable?

 

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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