Saturday, January 8, 2011

the re-emergence of dark children's literature

last year, around this time, my daughter crawled up on to my lap while i was sitting on the couch, and together we composed this story. collectively the creativity flowed, her with crayon, me with pencil. this is the fruit of our labor. a tragic tale of friendship, love, sorrow, betrayal. a coming of age story where sasha must confront death, a sort of crossroads. will her loss cascade her to bitterness? or will redemption be found in the ashes. read, as together, father and daughter we bring you . . .

. . . the day benny the snowman became a puddle.

one cold winter day benny was playing with his very best friend sasha. it was the biggest snowball fight that they had all winter.

but then the sun came out.

and benny melted . . .

and melted . . .

and melted until he was a puddle. sasha was very sad and started crying.

suddenly she had an ideas. she dipped a mug in the puddle that was once benny.

she put the mug in to the microwave . . .

added chocolate and stirred it up with his carrot nose.

and it was the best cup of hot chocolate she ever had.

the end.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

visions of mexcellence danced in his head

slowly the coffee shop is changing before our eyes. new paint, new carpet, but slowly, by piecemeal. every day something is different, moved, stricken, ripped off, glued on, etcetera, whatever.

slowly my hair grows over this break. all the time in the world to shave it back to its proper shortness. since there is always time, there is no need to make time. so it continues to inch ever further into chaos, curling, bending, defying gravity, no preconceived plan or overarching design. go ahead m.i.t. logarithm this.

the baristas begin to apologize for the mess, the unfinished work. not enough time, too much to do, too many people wanting their fix of triple shot half caff ristretto non-fat foam sugar free double cup extra hot two ice cubed with room caramel lattes. adjectives competing with paint strokes.

my chin mirrors my head. not going out of the house much, no need to shave every day, great sandpaper weapon for battles against my son, strike to bare belly. not quite a beard but more than a goatee. sprinkled random over my cheeks. the image of a dirty chai.

there is no need for your apologies, my little baristas, not for me. my people are accustom to this. cinder block by cinder block we have built our houses, rebar sticking, twisting, clumped and bending, walls unending pointing towards the heavens. 'next month grande-mama, we shall have enough pesos for another foot.' 'but what of little alfonso's cough he has had it for so long . . . take the money and the mule, travel to the village and buy some medicines. the house can wait for next month.'

for warmth this season, my wife has bought for me skin tight tank tops that i tuck into my jeans, fasten belt buckle. before the other layers are added, my image confronts me. visions of mexcellence danced in his head. the hair like so much rebar atop my head, the dirty pseudo beard, the tank top, the belt. i stick one hand in my pocket, tilt my head back and slightly to the right, gibbering in spanish sounding words with an accent. i am no longer rocky. i am eliseo che preparing his mule for the trip into the village to buy medicines for little alfonso.

today i'll take my espresso to go.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

magic toy poop and unwanted kisses

i love how easy it is to trick small children. they have so much faith and will believe almost everything. my oldest (seven) is able to see through most of my tricks. my youngest (one) is unable to even understand what i'm doing. but my two middle ones (three and five) still fall prey to my traps nearly every day.

for the five year old . . . last night as we were playing in the living room, i randomly grabbed a small, ball shaped plastic farm animal, a vital piece for the intense game of barnyard uno. i showed him the toy and pretended to stick it in my mouth. next for the swallow. the final stage was to make a pooping sound and pulling the toy from underneath me. he died laughing. i must have done it a dozen time, every time laughing just as hard as the first time. i wish it were this easy to entertain adults. it would make for easier sermon deliveries. an hour later he was still talking about how i ate the toy and pooped it out. i hope he doesn't try this. make for awkward emergency room discussion.

for the three year old . . . lately she has been allowing me less and less kisses. which would be fine except for the fact that her cheeks are still way too chubby to not be kissed. it's her own fault really. holding her hands down only brought screaming. a couple of days ago i formulated a new strategy. i walked up to her during breakfast and said "i'm going to give you a little hug right now. you can give me a hug but don't you dare give me a kiss. i don't like them anymore. i don't want them!!" my seven year old, wise to my tactic, gave me a look, but fortunately remained quiet. i hugged her and placed my cheek as near to her lips as i could. she took the bait. i frowned, screamed, kissed her, and said don't you do that again. she laughed and did it again. this went on for several minutes. still worked last night at bed time and this morning when i left for work.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

but where's my disney princess??

of course my people will never really excel in this culture. which means my kids are destined for less than greatness. they are half japanese which means that they can look to mulan as a source of inspiration. and a quarter white which provides several princess options. and an eighth native american for pocahontas to air spirit whisper encouragements. but what about the remaining eighth, that fiesta-longing, orange-crate selling mexicana, lounging on a homespun hammock. without that part of their heritage able to identify with a disney princess, they will forever be incomplete and furthermore unable to truly realize their potential.

destined for less than greatness.

as any good father, i will now attempt to remedy this problem by writing a script and using minority suffrage as a means to force disney into production.

i give you now the opening scenes of MINA: THE CHIKLET PRINCESS

[start with fog, lots of fog, interspersed with mist. creeping on their bellies, ever so slowly are two shadowed figures, made even shadowy-er by their sombreros and knapsacks. the silence of the night is shattered abruptly with a gun shot and dogs barking. the larger figure stops crawling. the other head turns around. close up shot.]

mina: papa, you stopped moving.

paco: i have been hit, my little mina. it is the border police. they have found us out.

mina: papa, you must come now then.

paco: no, this is the end for me. i cannot go. but you must my little mina.

mina: no [sniffling] i cannot leave y--

paco: you must go [sternly]. you must go now. and quickly. don't let them find you. here take this. [shot to the hands. paco handing mina a small crate] these are the chicklets mina. run to southern california. sell these chicklets and buy some more and then sell those. when you have enough money buy a lawnmower and start a landscaping company.

mina: papa, no, i cannot do it.

[voices are heard coming closer. things like they're over this way, keep coming, we'll find them.]

paco: my little mina. [this might be sung] you must be strong, you must brave, don't let these border police dig you a shallow grave [etc.]

[end of scene is mina running clutching the crate of chicklets]

this is just a start but the basic outline would be that mina becomes a successful entrepreneur and falls in love with the son of the border patrolman that shot her father. the son, who is interested in politics, eventually is elected president and passes legislation to open the southern border.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the real crime is not the poop

today on my run, i strode into a nasty clump of soggy dog poop.

i can sympathize with your lack of desire to pick up what your doggy plops out. in fact, you could strongly argue that the fact that i stepped into it is my own fault. or that other wilder animals treat the whole world as their toilet, without a complaint risen. if i had a dog, i would grudgingly pick up it's feces and quite possibly, at times, would refuse to remove said refuse.

i have come to terms with your ways, dog owners, and i am not seeking reform on this point.

here is my problem and hear it well.

i cannot empathize, sympathize, or in any way pathize your unwillingness to LEASH your dog in public places.

why don't you do this? what is the problem? how many defenseless women and children must they bark, chase, terrorize, nibble at, pee upon, etc. etc. ?

at many times you are even holding the leash. your hand is on it. why do you see such an inconvenience in actually strapping the other end to your pup?

this stupidity transcends gender, race, socio-economics. the flag for global unity should be a person holding a leash screaming at his dog "FIDO, HEEL, HEEL, NOW, NOW" while fido is gnawing on a runner's precious calf.

it is my leg, it's all i have left, you are taking it from me, how can i be expected to run without it??