Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I want my four dollars!

Storytime last night. I tell a story. Ember tells a story. Ember turns to Liz and says:

"Mommy, you tell a story!"

Liz: "Well, Once Upon a Time, there was a Mommy, a Daddy, and an Ember... then they all got sleepy and went to bed. The End."

Ember: "That was a good story, Mommy. It was a free story."

Me: "Well, I certainly wouldn't have paid anything for it."

Ember: "I would pay you for it, Mommy. I would pay you four dollars!"

Liz: "Thank you, Ember."

Ember: (turning to me) "Daddy, can you give me four dollars?"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I awake this morning to the sounds of Ember still playing in her room as she was when I went to sleep the night before. She must have heard my alarm, because she comes into my room to investigate.

"Good morning," I say.

She looks puzzled. "Is it getting dark outside?" she asks.

"No, it's getting light outside," I answer, "The sun is coming up."

A look of shock passes over her face. "But I didn't go to sleep!"

"Nope," I say, cheerfully, "you stayed up all night."

She looks concerned. "I think I'm gonna go in my room and rest a little."

"No, it's time to get up and have breakfast. You've got a big day ahead of you."

And with that, the circle of life turned once again, and my daughter learned what sort of sympathy one can expect from a well-rested parent when you've decided the night before that bedtimes are for chumps.

To her credit, she gave it a valiant effort, collapsing only about 30 seconds short of getting any breakfast.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Those silly Sidhe

I had to high-step it to make the 6:20 ferry home last night, and, by the time I was making my way up that last hill homeward, my shins were screaming in protest. You’d think it would be your thighs or calves that hurt from ascending and descending hills, but, at least in my case, it was the shins.

Still, it was a pleasant enough walk. The sun was just setting, the island easing into that cool, shadowless gloom just before nightfall. The other travelers had all disappeared off down their respective lanes or away into busses or cars, and I found myself walking alone through the silent, sleeping town. It was then that I heard the wail.

It carried on the evening breeze, a woman’s voice, a beautiful, wordless song. The way it echoed through the trees, between the empty shops, imparted a sad, wavering keen to the melody. I paused for a moment to listen, unable to guess from whence it came. Some evening music class in one of the dark buildings just beyond the trees perhaps? No telling… The pain in my shins made itself noticed again, now that I had stopped.

“Well,” I thought to myself, “you’ve really done it this time. You’ve exercised too much, and now the banshee’s come for you.” Running was out of the question. My only hope was to lure her in close and try a sucker punch. Then again, she’d probably just call the Cóiste Bodhar to come pick me up, and, by that point, had some lambent-headed undead fairy rolled up in a black coach and offered me a ride… I’da considered it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who watches the alarm clock?

Liz and Ember were bad last night and stayed up all night long. Ember was courteous enough to come into my bedroom once every hour throughout the night to wake me up and tell me what she had been doing since her previous report, oh, and she needed a drink. Granted the wisdom that comes with age, I had a drink handy on the bedside table, so my interruptions were brief. In between, I had all sorts of random, violent, exciting dreams, of which I only remember a snippet.

It seems that I was waiting to get in to see the evil head villain, but had first to deal with his receptionist, sort of a sub-boss, played, I think, by Eddy Izzard. His villainous soliloquy was in full swing, climaxing in some sort of rant on treachery, when he flung the top from his reception desk with a dramatic flourish, revealing… a badly organized pile of old fashion magazines within the body of the desk. Eddy looked dismayed. Apparently there should have been some lethal array of weaponry or such hidden within the desk, rather than this mess. Rummaging through it a bit, he angrily shouted , “Now who’s got purple ink all over my magazines? Damn you, Rorshach!”

Suddenly, Eddy’s hand goes to his throat. A small dart there. Unconsciousness overtakes him, and he tumbles to the floor. Hopping lightly through an open window, a tall, dapper, Rorshach appears, his trench coat clean and crisp. “Ah ha!” Rorshach says, his voice full of heroic swagger, “Did you really think you could get away with it?”

“Wha-what?” I stammer, staring dumbly at this masked superhero who seems most out of character.

Rorshach stares at me for a moment, his mask unreadable, then slumps a bit, shrinking a little, the shine gone out of him. He clears his throat apologetically and speaks again, in a voice like old razorblades rolled in gravel, “Did you really think I wouldn’t…”

Staring down at Eddy’s unconscious form, Rorshach shrugs his shoulders with a resigned, “Hurm…”

“Daddy, daddy, Wake up. I need a drink.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunny Days

The gray skies of Seattle have finally shown themselves to be more than myth, but I’m tapping my foot to the latest Jonathan Coulton song, a cheerful little tune indeed!

It seems that I’ve contracted some sort of northern malady, previously unknown to this son of the lower latitudes. All of my fingernails are cracking and splintering, often lengthwise, much to my displeasure. I shall call this new disease “Fisherman’s Flake” or perhaps “Crabulon’s Revenge” would be more appropriate. The sea, she is a cruel mistress.

Urban living comes naturally, it seems, to Ember. She wandered into our bedroom the other night, singing in her best Snoop Dogg voice, “Laid baaaack… got my chicken nuggets and my money on my mind.” She’s already begun rewriting “twinkle twinkle, little star” as a more up-beat pop tune in her spare time.

20 floors up, and every so often I will feel a faint swaying beneath me as I sit at my desk. I postulate therefore that 1) this is common to highrise buildings, 2) I’m imagining it, or 3) Mt. Rainier is getting ready to blow up. Sometimes I’m glad that my life isn’t narrated by an ominous Orson Welles voiceover, quoting random bits of Nostradamus. Though, come to think of it, that would be pretty cool.

“At the ninth year of the new century, in the grey city, shall rise the half-legged monarch. His claw un-matched, shall draw the life of many.”

The words of a madman, or a chilling prophecy of things to come?

Friday, March 13, 2009

I ate sushi today for the first time. That’s not entirely true, I suppose. I mean I’ve had California rolls and boiled shrimp sushi, but never the raw fish variety that people are usually referring to when they talk about sushi. The new head of my department took me out for lunch to a neat little Asian place near the new office. It was kind of an upscale buffet with a pretty good variety of food. I had rice and vegetables, dumplings and grilled fish, and sushi. I only got one piece of the raw fish variety. I think it was tilapia. The meat was buttery and soft, and rather spicy, so I suspect they slipped something wasabi-esque into the mix. Still, it was quite good, and not at all what I expected raw fish to taste like.

The new office is nice. I have a view of the city out my window. Everyone laughs at my desk, as I apparently have the highest monitor to person ratio in the office at the moment. I’ve never worked downtown anywhere before, and I think I like it. The streets are relatively clean, and the stench common to most cities just doesn’t seem to stick here. The dockside markets smell like fish, of course, but fresh fish. The people seem nice as well. They keep to themselves on the street, I suppose it is a faux pas to make eye contact. Yet, whenever I’ve had occasion to deal with a stranger here, they’ve always been open and kind. The rudeness I’ve encountered in other cities seems conspicuously absent.

I’m walking… a lot… but, so far I haven’t had a problem with it. The ferry is a nice change of pace from sitting in traffic. My new commute takes longer, but I don’t feel like I’m wasting gas and life sitting in a traffic jam.

I bought a new hat, one of those trendy two-tone stocking caps, to replace the thin little black one that I got out of the bargain bin at the Burlington in Austin. It seems odd to be able to walk to a store on your lunch break and buy something to wear back to the office. I had a dream once that I was in a vast, multi-leveled city of the future, sort of like the grimy, dystopian things you see in sci-fi movies, but this one was clean and safe and wonderful. The architecture valued artistry in its functionality and the lights were warm and colorful… inviting. Being here is sort of like being in that dream, and I like it.

Monday, February 16, 2009


We’ve recently returned from our trip to Seattle whereto I will shortly be displaced. Displaced perhaps being too harsh a term, we’ll say re-portated. In short, we are moving there, and Liz and I spent a week finding a place to live. After the last trip, we’d come to the conclusion that we’d try for a place on Bainbridge Island so that I might walk to the ferry boat each morning for a short jaunt across an icy inlet of the Pacific to the new office downtown. The ferry boat is nice. It’s like a floating high school cafeteria but without a “band table” which is where I usually sat in real high school because most of my friends were in band, and I was made an honorary band member. Sadly, this did not impart any particular musical skill. In any case, the ferry is better than high school because, when lunch is over, I get to either go to my office or my new apartment rather than to algebra or something.

The whole process of finding a new settlement proved rather draining, not so much physically as mentally. The trick of it was constantly having to re-imagine myself and family in each potential situation, ranging from hardy pioneers scratching out a living in a ramshackle house, nestled deep in the evergreen forest, to swaggering land barons astride a hardwood deck larger than the house which we presently inhabit. We’d return from each day’s hunt, brain-weary and damp, for it is eternally damp there. Lying in the hotel room, we’d watch cable television (a rare treat for us), learning how chocolate is made and what part of the taran-tula is edible. In the end, we decided on the apartment, for it seemed the most familiar and pleasant to us in a land of unfamiliarity.

It is strange to stand on one stone that is tilting swiftly beneath your feet, seeing and knowing the exact stone to which you will leap. You marvel at the strange inevitability of it all, grateful for the certainty of choice, yet childishly resentful that you must leap when the stone turns. I feel as if I were once better suited for this sort of adventure, and have slept too long, forgetting the dreamer and losing myself in the dream. I need to shake off the sleep of thoughts and spring lightly to this new stone as I would have done before. This was just such a nice stone. I hate to see it turn and sink beneath me. But then that’s the trick to walking on water, isn’t it? You can’t stop moving, and you can’t look down.

I did get to eat a king crab… well some of his legs anyway. I’ve always thought about ordering king crab but never worked up the nerve. Following my policy of “gots to know” I did this time. It started out well, being the best crab I’d ever eaten, but, by the last two legs, I began to stare in horror and revulsion at the table before me. I sat and plucked quivering scraps of pallid flesh from the cracked carapace of this Lovecraftian creature, gnawing languidly at the larger chunks, and discarding others. The most awful thought just now occurs to me… that not all the beast was accounted for. Certainly, he’s short a few legs and a claw, but the majority of the thing may yet be out there. I did not see it die. Could such a thing truly die? Might it not lie still, slumbering beneath dark waves, and dreaming of man-flesh and revenge?

I’ll be waiting, Crabulon… I’ll be waiting.