Saturday, September 20, 2003

Friday was "Take Your Parent To School Day" at Fees Middle school.

No, I do not attend the school myself.

I had promised my youngest brother Luis that I would accompany him on the mystical journey that is a half-day in the sixth grade. I do not have my one o'clock Italian class on Fridays. Thus, I had no excuse for not going. My mother works as a teacher herself, and from what I understand it is frowned upon for a teacher to leave a group of thirty first-graders alone for even a day.

My older brother I know wouldn't go, my sister is in Mexico, and my younger brother is in the Army. But what kind of excuse is that, really? "Lousy brother, running of to fight in Iraq, sticking me with Luis, make me get up all early on my day off," I grumbled.

But I was curious. The rest of my siblings and I had all gone to school pretty much together, so I always caught wind of their antics. But for the littlest Lopez, Middle School and indeed, school in general, was a solitary struggle. I remember Middle School as being a critical time for me in developing my personality. It was a time when I learned to defend myself with my keen mind rather than my fists. (Although, had my mind been a bit keener I might have realized that if I just kept my mouth shut and stopped insulting the larger kids who already didn't like me I wouldn't have had to worry so much about defending myself.) But I digress...

The Plain-Waffle Blues

I arrived at my parent's house to pick the boy up. He was already dressed and waiting for me. We both partook of waffles. Luis ate his plain. Mine were garnished appropriately with butter and syrup. We finished eating and were on our way.

We arrived to his first class 10 minutes late.

"Heh heh, it's all coming back," I thought.

Luis was sent to the office to report in for being tardy. While he was doing that, I sat in the classroom and acted like I had had nothing to do with it (another skill I learned in Middle School.)

When he returned, it was time for "Writing."

The Blue Chalk Blues

Luis is in several adapted classes so that he can receive more attention from his teachers. I too, knew this pain. I was in an very low math class that I lovingly referred to as "Adapted Math." It wasn't that bad though. I made the best boxes and "learning wheels" in that entire class. Of course, that was in High School, not Middle School... but I digress yet again.

The boy was working on alphabetizing words. He was doing okay, but then he hit the words that begin with the same sets of letters, in this case, "snare," "snort," and "sneer." His teacher spent some time trying to make him understand. Then I took over and spent some time trying to get him to understand. But he wasn't grasping it at all, it seemed. I was getting a bit frustrated, and so was Luis.

"Insanity," said Albert Einstein (not the florist, the physicist) "is performing the same action over and over and expecting different results." (I'm probably slightly misquoting that, but I have never been very good at translating German. (The quote I read was in English, but the latter is still true.))

I spied a chalkboard that someone had deviously tried to hide by hanging on the wall. Fortunately, I have read "The Purloined Letter," and ever since I have been excellent at finding objects hidden in plain sight.

"May I use the chalkboard?" I asked the teacher.

"Of course you may," Teacher replied.

After choosing the blue piece of colored chalk, I furiously began to write the group of words down on the board. As I had begun to suspect, the problem Luis had been having was not with the words per se, but it lay in that he was confusing the order of the beginning sets of letters. After getting him to cross out the letters that were the same, he could then focus on the "a," the "o," and the "e." He arranged them with little difficulty.

We completed the rest of the assignment like that. He got a 100% on the paper, and you know, I like to think that it was my 100% too.

The Blue Shirt Blues

The next class we went to after that was P.E. (Physical Education, which always sounded kind of dirty to me.) While the kids were changing, I waited patiently with a few other parents. One of them was a really odd guy who kept making jokes about computer tech at his work who was also the boss' son. From what I understood he fried a couple of very expensive computers and the guy assured me that it was all really very funny.

It's strange to meet people that are over forty that you are pretty sure nobody likes.

We were all herded down to one of the smaller gymnasiums by two whistle-wielding gym teachers. Once inside, all the children ran around like mad for a minute and then settled into a pretty tight formation of columns and rows. I was impressed. (My Middle School had little numbers painted on the ground for us to stand on, and even then we would have trouble.) The gym teachers led them in a series of stretches. The class was co-ed, and standing there awkwardly while a bunch of 13 year-old boys and girls did jumping-jacks without fail conjured up the image of a very envious Phill. I immediately lost it, and had turn away so that the kids wouldn't think I was laughing at them.

After stretching, they played a game called "Pac-Man" in which a few kids in blue shirts were the ghosts and the rest of them were the Pac-Men. Luis was given a blue shirt and thus was a ghost. An incredibly slow ghost. If the arcade game had had ghosts as slow as that, I could have beaten it with one quarter. The Pac-Men kids could only move along the lines painted on the gym floor, though, so my snail-paced pal managed to tag out a few, and you know, I like to think I managed to tag out a few, too.

The Spelling Bloos.

Luis had another class which was basically English. He had a spelling test, a journal that he had to write in, writing exercises to do, stuff like that. I guess that first class he had was more to reinforce some of the skills he was learning in other classes.

The boy cracked me up in that class. They were all reading The Pinballs by Betsy Byers. I saw it on their desk. "Oh yeah, The Pinballs! They're called that because they get bounced around from place to place, right?" Luis was surprised that I knew. He was even more surprised when the tests were handed out and the first question on it was "Why are they called the Pinballs?" When I told him I wasn't going to help him with his test, he wasn't so much surprised as he was pissed.

I passed the time by re-reading The Pinballs, which I hadn't read in at least nine years. The book was old even the first time I had read it, having been written in 1977. But I enjoyed it then and I was enjoying it now. The book is about three previously-unfamiliar kids who are all placed in the same foster home. A couple things jumped out at me while I was reading in that class. At one point, the sassy, street-smart, rebel girl states that she read that "Someday everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes."

Was this pint-sized punk foretelling the arrival of reality television and it's strangle-hold on prime-time television? This name-calling Nostradamus?

Maybe it was one of those self-fulfilling prophecies.

But what struck me the most was that throughout the majority of the story the kids are just waiting. Hoping and waiting that their respective parents will appear and all their troubles will melt away.

It reminded me of that time in life when all you can really do is wait. Wait and hope. I know I wasn't conscious of it, but 90% of the time when I was a kid I always felt that I was just waiting for things to happen to me. Now that I am older, I realize, it should be just the opposite. I should be out making things happen. But I don't, of course. I've just gotten so good at waiting.

And it's nice to be good at something.

When the tests were all finished, I was not surprised to see that Luis had just made up answers to the reading test. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had done pretty well on his spelling test. Indeed, throughout the day I had been continuously impressed by what he was capable of. Which is either bad of me, or good of him, depending on how one might choose to look at it.

The Boozeless Blues

The final bell rang, signaling the end of our truncated school day. I drove Luis back home and dropped him off. On my way back to my own house, I stopped to fill up on gas only to discover that my driver's license was missing. I had taken it into the school with me, along with my bank card. The bank card I still had, which was a relief, but I could not find my ID. Perhaps it had slipped out of my pocket when I had been sitting in those little chairs. "Oh well," I sighed, "Maybe it's for the best."

I try to be optimistic. If by some freak chance there is a kid somewhere in that school who looks like me and finds that ID, he's probably going to have a pretty wild weekend.

The End Blues

Thursday, September 18, 2003

There is a vile illness upon me. I know not it's nature, but I feel it coursing through my veins with intent unmistakably malicious.

The only symptom as yet apparent is a mild languish. An extra hour of sleep, once caught, brings with it not vigor, but an ever-growing grog. The only reward the night hours bring is a respite from the memory of ever having awakened refreshed.

I wonder at its cause.

Is it poison, perhaps? A dread, unknown toxin unleashed upon me by some villain's odious design? And if so, to what end?

With that very thought comes a great rage. Show thyself, insidious fiend! Do not be content with mere sneaking and wheedling! Face me as an opponent worthy of my wrath and attempt to earn your victory with honor!

My anger causes the dust to stir, but brings forth no answers.

Whatever brings this cursed discontent shall suffer greatly at my hands. I shall repay this malaise one-hundred-fold when the culprit stands thus revealed.

My nose is also starting to run a little bit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Some have said:

"Lenina suddenly felt all the sensations normally experienced at the beginning of a Violent Passion Surrogate treatment- a sense of dreadful emptiness, a breathless apprehension, a nausea. Her heart seemed to stop beating."

-Brave New World by Alduous Huxley

"Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet [...]This is a complete record of its thought from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.

[...] And wow! Hey! what's this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very, very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide-sounding name like...ow...ound...round...ground! That's it! That's a good name- ground!

I wonder if it will be friends with me?

And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence."

-The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

"Cobwebs touched my face with the softness of moths. Wrapping my black coat round me like my own sweet shadow, I unscrewed the bottle of pills and started taking them swiftly, between gulps of water, one by one by one."

-The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

"And then he was a shrieking blaze, a jumping, sprawling giberring mannikin, no longer human or known, all writhing flame on the lawn as Montag shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on him. There was a hiss like a great mouthful of spittle banging a red-hot stove, a bubbling and frothing as if salt had been pured over a monstrous black snail to cause a terrible liquefaction and a boiling over of yellow foam."

-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

"So lock the kids up safe tonight
Put the eyes in the cupboard
I've got the smell of a local man
Who's got the loneliest feeling

That either way he turns
I'll be there
Open up your skull
I'll be there

Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls"

-OK Computer, Radiohead

I just say: I'm not feeing well.

* * * * *

Having trouble writing your own bad poetry? Have you been contemplating composing crap as awful as this:

Randomly Generated
by Guillermo Lopez (sort of)

A breathless apprehension,
a whole lot and you. Wish I so
that I, just calling the
parking lot to you,
call hands to the screen...and
not really
knowing you're precious? LOL!

I am getting all stripped down in the Scrivening
Room! Let us scramble
to fully

I realized what reason is
small, down-right diminutive.

And in
all the odd
instance when I had you to
try to fully appreciate, I found me
and at last.

Here is a site that can help you take it to a whole new level...using your own website to do it!
Hey you! Check that little meter in the corner of my blog! Are you the 5,001st person to view this site? If so, Hi! How are ya?

Monday, September 15, 2003

Earlier this evening, in the Royal Scrivening Room:

I: Any mail, today, Snydesdayle?

Snydesdayle: There is, Gurg. A check has arrived from my beloved Island Nation of Dana.

I: A check, you say? Whatever for?

Snydesdayle: The memo says, "For Peace Between Our Nations."

I: Hmm... peace between our...oh, that would be the Jack Daniel's Cranberry Lemonade.

Snydesdayle: I'm afraid I don't understand, sir.

I: It's, um, our newest chief export to the Island Nation of Dana. It should do wonders for our struggling economy.

Snydesdayle: Speaking of our current financial woes, Gurg, how do you fare at your new place of employ?

Bumbly: He could tell ya, but then, he'd have to kill himself!

I: Oh, hullo Quibbles. I was wondering what you were about.

Bumbly: I'm not about a whole lot right now, Gurgy ol' boy. There hasn't been much to do around here since we finished that interview. Even Snydie doesn't hang about anymore. I'm starting to think he doesn't like me!

I: Very well, I will see what I can do putting those devil's workshops you call hands to work. Stand back now, I'll have to use my most regal voice.

Snidesdayle: Regal, sir? But you are not of the royal family.

I: And I never will be without a little support from my Head Scriveners! But perhaps you have a point, Dryly. Instead of merely harnessing my powerful voice and commanding the citizens of the Nation-State of Guillermo, I shall resort to more diplomatic means. Send word to all the citizens that that they shall think up more interview questions for me and present them, forthwith!

Snidesdayle: All the citizens, Gurg?

I: Yes, Dryly, every last one of them.

Bumbly: That shouldn't take too long, there's only the three of us, right?

I: What nonsense are you spewing, Quibbles?

Bumbly: Well, we're the only people mentioned, and Dryly doesn't really count since he's from the Island Nation of Dana. You did mention a royal family, and from what I've seen all the stuff around here is named "The Royal Something-or-Other," so yeah, there may be a king or queen around, but it's not really clear. Oh, I get it! You just royally screwed up, eh? LOL! That'll come back to haunt you when you have to explain what kind of government you have, eh?

I: I...I...

Snidesdayle: That is nothing that need be worried over at the moment, sir. Fear not, for we shall fulfill your request, Official Gurg of the Nation-State of Guillermo. I shall set to work querying the citizens immediately.

I: Er, thank you, Dryly. Quibbles!

Bumbly: I'm still right here, man.

I: Do not just stand there, assist him!

Bumbly: Sure, sure. But isn't this whole thing a bit pointless?

I: Quibbles, I am almost afraid to ask what you mean.

Bumbly: Well, it's just pretty long-winded, is all. Couldn't you have just put up a post that said "Any questions?" and then bothered us with it once you had enough on your little "comments" thing?

I: Quibbles, for someone who I pay to make things so that people can understand them, I swear I have no idea what you're talking about sometimes.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

It is intimidating. A blank white screen staring back at you. That cursor blinking steadily, patiently, waiting for your touch to send it careening across the screen...and hopefully not all the way back as you delete it.

It's interesting, this canvas. You can throw out ideas and watch them stick, or, more often, watch them slide slowly down and disappear into wherever it is that unfed ideas go.

So you sit and you stare and you hope but you know that unless you do something soon, that blank screen is going to just flit away into the blackness of the screensaver that you still haven't put in the necessary 30 seconds or less it would take to change it into something half-way interesting.

And of course, you're waiting for "it."

That one event from your day or week or maybe even years ago that has been turning over and over in your head and is now ripe to come out as an entry into your electronic link to the rest of the world.

"Should I write about going to the club with Kiki, Dana, Amy, and their newest roommate, Marissa?"

Because I could, and I know I would enjoy remembering it. For instance, when we had gotten out of the car and were all walking towards Club Buzz and Marissa said, "Follow the white line," (referring to the painted lines in the parking lot) and I thought she meant Kiki, Dana, and Amy who were walking single-file in front of us.

Then there is the odd instance in which you actually took the time to jot down what was on your mind earlier in the day in the hopes that it would give you some ammunition to attack with later in the evening.

So you check...

And you've scrawled a few lines of dialogue:

"Do you always try to sound intelligent?"

"I am trying to sound different than I usually sound, and yes, that would mean sounding intelligent."

Nothing else, just those two lines. It was probably something someone said to you, and then later (possibly hours later) you came up with a retort and wrote it down because that person was nowhere to be found.

And here, there's something else:

Dream: syringe, roommate. Fear of needles, in them.

And it all comes rushing back...but first:

A dream is a difficult thing to relate. It is a good way to kill someone's interest in what you are talking about, in much the same way it is said that acoustic guitars kill parties. Having said that...

In my dream I woke up and my roommate was standing in my room with an incredibly evil grin and a syringe. She is small, downright diminutive, and so I pluck the syringe out of her hand and throw it away. She then produces more syringes from somewhere and now she is holding two.

I debate snatching them away as well but I am getting a definite Hydra vibe (you know, Herakles cuts off it's head, two grow back, cuts of the two, four grow back, and so on) so I just run off in my underwear down the hallway.

And that's it for the dream.

The rest of the note was just to remind myself to point out that I am not afraid of needles, just of what might be in them.

And partially because there is nothing else I wish to speak of (but mostly because I just went back out to my car to get a Fat Tire out of the cup holder), I present to you a challenge:

If there is anything more perfect than Tempe at 4:00 in the morning, bring it to me and I shall cut off my left hand and trade you for it.

Bring it on.