No Direction Home

I just watched the first half of Scorsese’s feature-length biography on Bob Dylan. I’ve always been a Dylan fan. From my first hearing of his first album to present day, my admiration for this poet has only increased, and looking at his legacy in retrospect has helped me put him into historical perspective. Being of the same generation, it’s easy for me to agree that he certainly had his finger on the pulse of young Americans in the 1960s. If you missed tonight’s broadcast, at least don’t miss the second half tomorrow night.


Enforced Empty Nest Syndrome

Sometimes you just have to laugh and say “fuck it.” Yesterday I was grumpy and pissy and just generally agoraphobic. Those are the days that I shut myself in the bedroom and keep myself out of everyone else’s misery. Then last night Nettl and Heather (our 15 year-old) had a “disagreement” (to be expected, of course, at that age). Our bedroom door had been open all evening (except when I was watching “No Direction Home” on PBS), so I just got up from my computer and closed it again. When that was over, Nettl came upstairs and we of course discussed the issue and set some rules for the future. The argument was about going to college vs. moving to Vienna with us. Nettl and I agreed, no damned way that’s going to happen.

A little before 1:00 this afternoon, as I sat here working, Nettl called and said she’d be by to pick me up and take us to Taco Bell for lunch. We discussed the issue some more while munching our tacos. Here’s my take on it: I’ve been a parent since I was 18. That’s 35 years, folks. By the time Nathan (our youngest) goes to college I will have been parenting for 40 years. Forty. Freakin’. Years. And I’m not talking about just being a parent, I’m talking about kids living at home. I’m talking about cooking, cleaning, settling disputes, drying tears, catching the blame for a myriad of woes, etc. Hell, I’m talking about 40 years of not getting to go out to dinner, or buying new socks when I need them. When we move to Vienna in 2010 I will be 59 years old. I think I’ve done my time. I used to say, because I became a parent at 18, I was young enough that when the kids were grown I’d still be young enough to enjoy my life as a reasonably young person. That was when I thought I’d be going through Empty Nest Syndrome at the age of 36. Well, life didn’t turn out that way with a special needs child, and later when the kids came to live with us. That’s all good. I have no regrets. But when we go to Vienna, that’s for us. That’s my retirement, kids. Come and visit for the summer. Come for Christmas. Come whenever you want, but move in with us? No damned way.

Anyway, the reason I say that you just have to laugh is that, as I sat down and turned on my webcam, it took a really bad, but hilarious, picture of me as I adjusted the focus. Suddenly, for some reason, all the anger and frustration melted off of me and I busted up. Life is great that way.

I have no pride.


My Third Hurricane

Born and raised in California as I was, I got used to earthquakes at a very young age. I’ve been through a few really scary ones, but most were nothing to stress out over. Still, I don’t like them.

When I moved to Denver in 1992, I watched as a funnel cloud sat spinning directly over my house (or so it seemed to me), willing it to spin the other direction and go away. It did, but I went through about 15 minutes of fear. But that was nothing like the terror I go through every spring and autumn now that I live in “Tornado Alley.”


Travel Tips

Here are a few things I've learned. Maybe they’ll be of some help to you:

~  Space Bags are great for dirty clothes that you have to bring home. If you can’t get access to a vacuum cleaner (to suck out the air), just sit on the bag until most of the air is gone. You can use them going to your destination for keeping your clothes wrinkle-free.

~  Take socks or slippers in your carry-on if you’re flying internationally.

 Invest in some sound-proof earphones. Too many screaming kids and loudmouthed lawyers are flying these days.
~  A wet washcloth in a ziplock bag comes in handy in a multitude of ways.
~  Never trust that your Hushpuppies will be comfortable after six hours of walking. Buy shoes a good six weeks before you leave and wear them all day. If your feet hurt, better go shopping.
~  On an international flight heading west, please leave your damned window shade down for longer than 5 minutes at a time. I promise you can't see anything and people are trying to sleep.
~  If I have my headphones on, it’s a pretty good indication that I don’t feel like hearing about your law practice, Mr. Wonderful.
~  If it doesn't have wheels, leave it home.
~  When standing in a Passport Control line, don’t push. No one’s going anywhere.
~  Never assume that European airports have air-conditioning.
 If you’re traveling with kids, please wipe their noses before they stare at me from over the top of their seats for two hours.
 As a matter of fact, discipline your kids. Eight hours is too long to listen to your precious darlings scream, especially when crossing major time zones.
~  Better yet, leave them with Grandma.
~  Don’t be an Ugly American. If you want hot dogs and fries, it might be better to take your vacation in Chicago, rather than Budapest. Or just find the nearest McDonalds and leave real travelers in peace.
~  Learn a little of the language of the country you’re visiting. “Please” and “Thank you” in that country's language go a long way.
~  Realize that most cab drivers are the same everywhere…unless they’re not.
~  Are you going to eat those peanuts?
~  Being drunk is fun, but not on an international flight. It pisses people off and you’re left with a nasty hangover besides. (No, it wasn’t me, it was a group of Germans behind us.)
~  Never assume that all hotels provide free shampoo and conditioner.
~  A hotel bar of soap just doesn’t last very long.
~  Mini-bars are fun, but expensive. Use them anyway. What the hell.
~  Learn how to handwash your clothes.
~  Cab drivers are nicer to you if you’re anti-Republican.
~  Things you must never leave home: Ibuprofen, Tagamet, and Imodeum.
~  Never make the “OK” hand sign in a Germanic country. There, it means “@$$hole.”

My Top 5 Worst Habits

  1. Toilet lids: I hate when people leave the toilet lids up. I mean, I don’t like when the whole seat is up, so why shouldn’t the lid being up bother me? Who wants to walk by and look down into a receptacle that holds bodily waste?

  2. Redecorating: “That candle doesn’t look at its best there. Let’s try putting it here…”

  3. Fingernails: Bite, grow, bite, grow. I bite them from nervousness and grow them from guilt feelings for having bitten them.

  4. Body noises: And I’m proud of them.

  5. Morning crossword: Gotta have it or my whole day is thrown off.