Friday, March 30, 2007

Ska Face

You haven't lived until you've had your four-year-old daughter singing along to Ska favorite "On My Radio" by The Selecter as you drive through the suburbs in the sunshine, in a minivan, with the windows down.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


The sun makes everything better. Right now, I'm exhausted after my fourth or fifth night of restless sleep (and the kids aren't doing any better than I which might be part of the reason I'm doing as badly as I am.) I have about $3 and a pocket full of change to my name. I have no school or dance class or playdate to dump the kids off at today. While I spent yesterday prepping a piece to write, I have yet to start it (and had to use a stand-by piece to make my self-imposed deadline). I haven't heard a whisper from any of the interested TWIMCT parties in weeks, and the newspaper I depend on for pocket money hasn't come up with anything for me in days.

But, the sun is out, so I'm smiling like an Andorran goalkeeper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nostalgia... now that takes me back

It's funny - not living in the country I grew up in, I find very little in my daily routine that reminds me of when I was a kid. No kids in school uniform, no chip shops, and none of the TV shows I grew up on (except, of course, the ones that were made here like the A-Team which I remember as a prime time Friday night show, not a 3pm semi-comedy.)

At times, it's like my memory has been erased. I have lived in the US for nearly 10 years and never been back to England. Not so long ago, my parents sent a photo of the family home - a place I lived in for 23 years or so. It looked different, of course. The trees around it were bigger - stuff like that. 10 years of nature will do that.

Then, every so often whether I'm looking for it or not, I find something that takes me back. A name or a song or a feeling. In the 1980s, Johnny Hates Jazz sang a song called "Turn Back The Clock" where they sang about being an adult and reflecting on being a kid. Clark Datchler sang about being: "The boy he still resembled, but could no longer understand." But the most poignant line was where he said: "If I could have it over, live my life again, I wouldn't change a single thing." My childhood was happy enough, but there were some pretty sad and monumental events that shaped me. That's true of everyone I suppose.

I wonder if my kids will feel the same way as Clark, because I wonder if I would change anything myself for better or worse if I were given the chance.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More news is no news

I have another agent who is interested in me, but it's hard to get more than just a little excited. I'm meeting him at a literary festival in Queens next month, which means three more weeks of not knowing if I should be excited or not.

Most of the foul, lethargic mood I'm in is down to the weather. The snow is all gone and yesterday, for whatever reason it was 70 degrees and sunny enough for no coats (and having seen An Inconvenient Truth last week, it was slightly petrifying, especially with the huge thunderstorm that followed overnight.) This morning it's a day that reminds me of growing up in North London - wet, but not raining. The roller coaster of weather-based emotion, along with "I might be interested in representing you - let's talk about it in a month" and so many toys all over the floor due to hours stuck inside... well, that will do it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sick again (and more)

Unbelievably, we had the rearranged birthday party for my daughter on Saturday - the first one being cancelled because she was sick.

So of course, she got sick again.

With two hours to go until the party, she was lethargic on the couch, hot to the touch, and miserable as sin despite the upcoming gift/cake fest. The party went well, thanks to modern medicine at its maximum recommended dose for 4-year-olds, but by the end she was crying and that kind of took the edge off the fun that had gone beforehand.

One of the things not talked about in the whole life-changing that comes with parenthood is that you get sick more. One of the others is, unlike when you were a kid, as a parent you are now expected to make it all better for someone else. Since December we as a family have been sick once a month with some kind of bug. My daughter's class hasn't had a full attendance since the start of 2007, and a class of 13 has been reduced to less than half at times because of coughs and colds or worse.

In other news, I repeated my life-list achievement of five goals last Sunday morning. Still no news from Big Agent man, and because of my condition of late (assisted by spending the last two nights next to a four-year-old coughing and/or whining that she wants water and/or mommy) I haven't written enough to cover the back of a postage stamp in the last few days. I even ditched my writer's group meeting last night because I felt so unpredictable.

But come on March! Help me out here! The sun is out, which is a start, but I need something you stupid month!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Boy Of Summer

Last summer I took a much-needed vacation alone. I drove from New Jersey to Philly, booked into a hotel, and saw the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves (baseball for you English types) that night. I then slept alone in a king-sized bed. That was almost as good as the game.

Next morning, I woke up and got back in the car to drive the few hours to Washington D.C. where I saw the Washington Nationals play the Chicago Cubs before getting back on the NJ Turnpike and heading home, arriving back on Saturday night.

The relevence? I just booked this year's baseball double-header. I leave for Pittsburgh on a June Saturday morning to see the Pirates play the Los Angeles Dodgers before staying the night, then moving on to Cleveland to see the Indians play the Detroit Tigers.

Booking this trip became a necessity after the last couple of days. The kids have been anxious and stir-crazy. The only outings we get are still in-nings in that we are indoors. Couple that with the wife getting home late from work, and the destruction of a batch of highly-sugared peanut butter cookies, and it doesn't bode well for yours truly. And it didn't bode well at all.

Then this morning, the straw that broke my back and that of my metaphorical camel? Snow. Not a lot, but it's been coming down constantly since 5am and it's gathering. The two minute drive to school this morning took 20 minutes because other people can't drive.

So I had to get myself thinking about something fun that I would do alone. And after I did that, I booked the trip *.

*(c) Les Dawson, 1977

Monday, March 05, 2007

February By The Numbers - and more

First, a numerical recap of Feb:

1 - the number of goals I scored during my Sunday morning soccer games.

1 - the number of games I played in because of the bastard snow and ice.

4 - the number of days my daughter attending pre-school during February due to above-mentioned snow and ice, winter break week, and illness. In other words, about she went to school about half of the time she could have done.

20 - the number of pages written for my newest project

1 - the number of famous people targetted to write the forward for aforementioned new project. If I can't get him to do it, I have no plan B as yet.

Having written off my digital camera as a bust, I discovered that some batteries are not strong enough to power a digital camera, even for one second. I put in some premium batteries, and the darn thing came back to life, with all the pics still intact. So, what are these low-power batteries good for? My camera is tiny, and low maintenance - like a shy, skinny college girl. And yet these name-brand batteries couldn't provide enough juice for it to even open its shutter. Next time I find myself in possession of an appliance that I want to work, but not for long and not to its maximum capacity, I will happily invest in the low-power battery again. Until then, it's the copper-colored top thankyewverymuch.

March is a tough month. Now I am on the board for two volunteer organisations I have two meetings a month. Then there's the rearranged party for my daughter, my writing group meeting, my wife's birthday - all needing significant work before the event. Then there's the usual host of doctor's appointments, birthday parties, and the start of the Easter carnival that lasts about two weeks. If I can manage to get any writing done inbetween, it will be a feat indeed. That said, today should be a good opportunity. I dreamed long and deep last night, thus getting my first R.E.M sleep in more than a month.

One more thing - watching the highlights of the weekend's English Premiership soccer games in England, the reaction of Charlton manager Alan Pardew to his team's equalizer at Watford was very funny if you speak London:

"You beauty!" he yelled, jumping off the bench. "****ing hell - 'ave that!"

My wife suggested the following alternative if you speak New York:

"Yeahhhhhhhhhh! Holy ****! You succccckkkkk!"

Oh, and here's that photo I talked about with the candle about to go out:

Friday, March 02, 2007

"Digital cameras are so great, I... oh shat!"

Yes, it was inevitable.

I've heard all the horror stories about entire weddings/births/parties wiped from a digital camera at the simple accidental press of the 'format' button, but that would never happen to me.

So I'm snapping pics at a surprise re-arranged birthday party for my youngest and it looks like the batteries are about the fail, so I snap one last pic and put the camera away. And now, it's dead. New batteries don't make a difference, the card is reading as 'invalid.' It could have been much, much worse, but lost forever is this one spectacular picture a split-second before my son blew out his birthday candle with the flame bent 90 degrees about to disappear.

Sigh! Bastards!