Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Comer en Espana

Last night was quite amazing. Last minute, I decided to take my oldest son to the Lemony Snicket’s event at Olympus High. Lemony did not disappoint—it was the liveliest book reading I’ve every been to as he ran up down the aisles, played the accordion and piano, sang, shrieked, pulled jaws out of a bag, and interacted in multiple ways with the audience (e.g. warning kids not to not expose their armpits by raising their hands as a bite from the “jaws” is what had delayed the real Lemony Snickets from attending).

After, in an amazing moment of insight for me, I took my son to CafĂ© Madrid which serendipitously was just down the street from Olympus high. Of course this set me back about 40 more dollars than if I’d just taken him out for a hamburger, but now he has officially “dined,” something I did not do until I found myself in NY by myself as a teenager in front of a lobster, a lobster and assortment of glasses and silverware I could not decipher. You know how sometimes you set out to have a great experience with your kids and it doesn’t workout—they end up hating it or feel you are preaching or they don’t appreciate it. But this little “experience” actually worked. It was pure delight.

We order a Spanish styled salad with Spanish olives and what I call cold asparagus (it’s lighter and has strange texture), then had entremeses (a platter of cured meats—jamon Serrano, some type of pork, and chorizo), next was gambas con bacon, and lastly an amazingly creamy flan. Our waitress was quite understanding, allowing us to eat piecemeal, sharing each tapa in this upscale restaurant surrounded by real adults dining out. And the owner/chef (who I think I overheard is also an artist or maybe his spouse is—still not clear on this) talked with us and even gave us a free bowl of his special chicken soup. I hadn’t remembered (from my missionary days in Spain) any particular Spanish style of chicken soup so he set out to show me what I’d missed. Turns out the minute I tasted the soup, I recognized the flavors and was sent back to 10-years ago (I mean 16 years ago) to a little old woman’s house dressed in black (still mourning for her husband) who served us chicken soup.

I just have to say that my son was not only a good sport but into it. He’s not a sheep when comes to food—he generally hates to eat out and regularly refuses to eat fastfood. At first he was a bit nervous as the restaurant is fancy and I think a bit disorienting for him, but he settled in and enjoyed each part of the experience. During our meal he said, “I love how each little piece of food tastes different; it’s like when we usually eat we just mix everything together.” Oh son, if you only knew how important those words are to me. A true budding food connoisseur—a wonderful gift, one which will bring you much joy (and probably some harassment and disappointment in Layton) and passion.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A quickie-post on my worst moment as soccer-dad

My oldest son finished his last soccer game of the fall (they pick up the season after the winter) and I had my worst day as a soccer dad. He's in U-12 which is quite a bit more serious than U-10 from last year--full field, all the positions, and they actually call offsides which is a penalty I still do not clearly understand. During the 3rd quarter the game was going well though a bit chilly since all of his games this year have started at 8am. Youngest son got a bit antsy and wanted to kick a soccer ball around so we went into enemy parent territory where there was a flat spot. We were just about to retreat to "our" end of the field, when my son's coach (who was referring) called an offsides on the opposing team. The parents around me went crazy: "What was that? What are you talking about?" and then amongst themselves, "He doesn't know what he's talking about; he wouldn't know soccer from ..." That was enough to put me over the edge: "HE doesn't know what he's talking about? He's played four years of college soccer and works his butt off as a coach... " (I babbled some more stuff but it was mostly full of grunts and generally incomprehensible). Mark it: this was my first time getting upset at my kids' sporting events. It's not that I really understood the the offsides call that was made and I wouldn't have minded if they contested the call but not the coach's integrity. Coach Degraw has been my son's best coach yet--works them hard with running and drills, pushes them to be their best, but always makes game-times decisions based on what's best for the team rather than just winning. It didn't turn into anything too big (the parents, or maybe they were grandparents which would make me feel worse, kind of gave me a mocking apology saying they didn't know he'd played in college and then, thinking I couldn't hear, "that's probably only a rule in college soccer") but still I felt kind of stupid. And, mostly, I was afraid that as my son gets older and I get less able to compete myself, I might find out I'm one of those dad's who yell at refs and players and then punch it out with some parent.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Gross extraction

My wife has an amazing ability to wipe up, pick out, or otherwise take care of the gross bodily fluids of our children. I just witnessed a snot extraction from our 4-year old via fingernail (no tissue needed). Gross! I mean I wouldn’t touch that bare-handed if it were oozing all over his face. While I didn’t appreciate the bare-skin extraction, I’m quite thankful for this motherly ability. On several late night barf clean-ups, I’ve gagged and recoiled briefly before my wife swooped in, pushing my weakling self aside, pooling and scraping up chunky yellow bile before I could even get back to sleep. For this I owe her my life. If I’d had to do it myself, I would have suffered unbearable and irreparable mental and emotional damage. You might doubt this assertion, thinking I’m just another wimpy male but I do so solemnly swear that there is something deep, something genetic, some tough mother-earth, archetypal energy which allows these magical abilities. Let us now praise everyday mothers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Left to right or right to left

After having read Unhip's and Mega's blog entries, I realized, yet again, that I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about planning and being organized and still, amazingly, I'm neither a great planner, nor very organized.

Prime example: my clothes. I used to simply wear everything once and then throw it into the laundry but now I don't feel it's ethical. For one, we now continually have a mountain of laundry (three kids) which is mostly taken care of by my wife and I feel guilty about adding to that mountain. So, when it seems prudent (no stains, not too wrinkly), I rehang and wear again. But this causes a huge problem because I can't remember what I wore the last time I taught my T-TH class or even the day before. Recently, as I realized I was spending 5-10 minutes each morning trying to make sure I didn't wear the same shirt twice in a row, I created an organizational system. And there-in began my problems.

I confidently said to myself, "From here-to-the-future, I will place my worn shirts to the left end of my row of hanging shirts and my problems will be solved." Unfortunately this organizational strategy is similar to my counterintuitive tent erecting problems (see earlier blog): I tend to forget if I'm supposed to put my worn shirts to the left or to the right. Putting them to the right would make more sense because they would then be closer to the hamper which would then symbolically represent their slow descent to uncleanliness. But that's a problem too because after I place a shirt on the right (next to the hamper) it will slowly move to the left, away from the hamper, as I wear and place other shirts on the left. Damn, now the worn shirt is moving away from the hamper which doesn't make sense. On the other hand, I might decide it makes more sense to place them on the left, thus creating a mneumonic device albeit a fairly complex one: hanging my shirts on the left is counter-intuitive because the left side is the furthest away from the hamper and from the symbolic sense of dirtiness. But on further consideration, placing a worn shirt on the left is completely accurate in that now the worn shirt will slowly proceed towards the hamper (on the right) as I wear more shirts and place them on the left. Did you follow that? I'm not sure I did and it's my closet.

Adding another wrinkle, pun intended, my system still isn't completely rational because, while I usually wear a shirt twice and then wash it, I am sometimes, if I get real lucky and have a light day, willing to wear a shirt three times. But this third wearing causes problems because now I have a twice-worn shirt sitting next to (assuming I'm placing them on the left end of the row) a once-warn shirt which are both, now, slowly moving towards the hamper. And this is the story of my life: how will I keep track of which shirt is once or twice-worn and how will I make sure a shirt is never worn a fourth time? At some point, my nose will announce the need to wash but then this might be at 6:30am when I'm rushing to get out to work and trying not to wake-up my wife. At this point, I will SUMB F-it, this ain't working. The next day I will just dump the whole damn lot of 'em in the dirty clothes. I'm slowly losing faith that there is any holy grail of organizing principles out there. I'm cursed to live in chaos.