Saturday, November 15, 2003

My mother ran off to San Francisco!

I'm pretty sure it's just for the weekend, but we'll see.

The only instructions she left me were to take care of Luis. She told me this on a voice mail so I was unable to protest. I returned home from work, where Luis was quick to remind me that I had to take care of him. I guess he had overheard my mother on the phone when she was leaving the message, as is he wont to do. Nosy little bugger.

Luis wanted to go out and rent a movie. I had a better idea.

"Come with me," I instructed Luis. I went over to my piles of boxes and opened one up. "These are all my movies. Mom's not here, so go ahead and pick whatever you want."

He didn't even wait to look through what I had. "Edward Scissorhands!" he demanded. Hearing that nearly brought a tear to my eye, as that movie is wont to do. But then I couldn't find it at all. I was a bit upset about it. Not only is my copy of Lord of the Rings missing, but Edward too?

We ended up watching Finding Nemo. We didn't make it all the way through, because at 10:00 pm, Luis cried, "The Simpsons!" and jumped up to stop the movie.

So we watched The Simpsons until 11 pm. My niece was also running around, and she was taking great pleasure in sharing my waffles and climbing onto and off of the couch. I had to scold her a few times for deviously taking the pieces that had soaked up the most syrup. She's a clever girl, that Anya.

After The Simpsons, Luis went off to bed, completely without me telling him to. He normally goes to bed around 8 or 9, so I chalked it up to more to actual weariness than self-discipline or any kind of respect for my authority.

I went into his room to put away an overcoat and a sleeping bag that had been stacked on the box that held the movies.

"Why can't I sleep in the sleeping bag?" Luis asked me.

I thought about it for a moment. "I don't see any reason why you can't sleep in the sleeping bag!" So we unrolled it and set it up on his bed, since he didn't want to sleep on the floor. He got inside and pulled the bag up over his head so that he was completely hidden.

He listens to this AM Disney radio station at night, and at that exact moment, Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" started playing on the radio. Luis popped his head out, grinned, and yelled, "I guess I'm Miss Independent now!" and then he disappeared back into the bag.

I hadn't laughed that hard the entire day. And I could hear Luis' muffled laughter coming from the sleeping bag. We laughed so hard that my older brother, Miguel, came in to see what the hell we were doing. He was a bit upset because he didn't want us to wake up Anya, who had just gone to sleep.

Which is completely understandable. But, (as I remarked to him), it's a shame she didn't inherit her father's ability to sleep through absolutely anything.

But I guess, if I have to, I will teach her that, along with how to climb onto the very top of the couch, how to open the cabinets with the "child-proof" latches, and which pots and pans to bang together to get the best sounds.

There is so much to learn!

But I don't worry about her much, though, she's a little bad-ass. The other day she toddles up to me with a very proud look on her face and holds out a clenched fist. I hold out my hand, and she hands me one one of the plastic guards that my mom had put over all of the electrical sockets in the house.

"You are right to be proud," I told her. "but in case you aren't as successful the next time, just remember that I know how to treat electrical burns." She grinned, and I grinned back.

So much to learn.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Aesop, one of the greatest fabulists of all time/sixth century B.C.E Greek slave, is accredited with over 650 fables.

Many are well known, but I can't say I know even a hundred.

I did a bit of searching around, and I discovered why some of these aren't always told to kids. His fables are passed off as children's tales of warning, but they weren't intended to be. Try getting your little one to sleep soundly after hearing this tale:

The One-Eyed Doe

A Doe had the misfortune to lose one of her eyes, and
could not see any one approaching her on that side. So to avoid
any danger she always used to feed on a high cliff near the sea,
with her sound eye looking towards the land. By this means she
could see whenever the hunters approached her on land, and often
escaped by this means. But the hunters found out that she was
blind of one eye, and hiring a boat rowed under the cliff where
she used to feed and shot her from the sea. "Ah," cried she with
her dying voice,

"You cannot escape your fate!"

Now sleep tight!

But then there are more thought-provoking ones, like this one:

The Lark Burying Her Father

THE LARK (according to an ancient legend) was created before the
earth itself, and when her father died, as there was no earth,
she could find no place of burial for him. She let him lie
uninterred for five days, and on the sixth day, not knowing what
else to do, she buried him in her own head. Hence she obtained
her crest, which is popularly said to be her father's

Youth's first duty is reverence to parents.

I don't agree with the moral of the story, at least, not if the parents are human.

But I like the idea of laying someone to rest in your own head.

I'm not talking about actually tearing open the top of my head and cramming in their corpse. (I know some of you think that way...DoBell!) But to keep their ideas and lessons and memories, and using them to learn.

What more could a parent possibly want?

I guess since I'm responding to things I find online...

"Chess computer program X3D Fritz ruthlessly capitalised on a rare blunder by Garry Kasparov on Thursday, giving the program its first ever victory over the human world number one."

"Game three takes place at 1300 EST on Sunday. Kasparov will receive $200,000 for winning, $175,000 for a draw and $150,000 for a loss."

The terms sound suspiciously like boxing. $150,000 for a loss? I think I'll send those guys an e-mail offering them my services. After all, I can lose for much cheaper, and much faster.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I'm in a mood.

I figure I'll just write through it.

There are cities that do not sleep. Mine is not one of them. This one sleeps soundly under a blanket of light rain.

Wandering through streets that gleam, shiny and slick, brings an ethereal feeling, like you've stumbled into someone else's dream.

These are the cool, pleasant, nights where I don't want the world to wake up. I wonder if this feeling is similar to parents, whose little ones have run and jumped and skipped and sang all day and have finally succumbed to a nap.

The quiet is alien, but slowly returns to being familiar and welcome. A brief respite from distraction. Some time now to whisper thoughts and watch them float hesitantly about. Where words are chosen with more consideration for the silence they might shatter.

Where the sunrise comes like a wailing cry for attention. The whispered thoughts retreat, dart back into your head. They yield to "Oh yeah, there is a world out there, one that I will have to deal with at some point."

And could you banish all the clocks, the sun would still busy itself with the casting of shadows to pass the time.

Time stands still on a moonless night.

An online quiz challenged me to describe myself in one word. "Stubborn?" "Easy-going?" "Lackadaisical?" "Lively?" I forget what I chose, but at some point my mind flap-jacked and I thought of another word that could describe me.


This is not how I would describe myself. I seldom frustrate myself (unless I'm trying to kid myself,) but I think that I cause frustration in others.

Just a thought.

I still haven't unpacked any more boxes. At the moment, that is still are they are.


They are not full of all my belongings. They are full of all my nothing, my empire of dirt.

Contents of a dead man's pockets.

Folds up, for easy storage.

My tattoo is itching madly.

I dreamt that we were being lined up and carted away. Some of you were lined up, watching, shaking your heads, discussing with one another in disapproving tones of how cruelly our captors were treating us. I jumped up and shouted and waved to get your attentions, to say goodbye. I was struck down before any of you saw me. I was not angry. I was glad I had fought, as I surely would have been glad had I not.

I am still in a mood.

I figure I'll just sleep through it.

Monday, November 10, 2003

The City of Wise Men
retold by Guillermo Lopez

Long ago, in a distant land, there was a rather foolish young man. The young man was only rather foolish, since he at least knew that he was not wise. He lived in one of the larger, more bustling, villages, and he was never at a loss for distraction. But he knew that there was much to learn in the world, and when his niggling curiosities grew too niggling for him to stand, he made his decision.

He would go to the city of wise men.

The city did not have a name that anyone knew of. The city did not have much of anything that anyone knew of. The towering, undecorated, gray, walls that surrounded it, cutting off all view of what lay inside, even made it uninteresting to describe.

But the young man was interested. His village had lived in the shadow of the city, and he had seen the wise men come and go through the small gate that was the only entrance.

For it was no secret that whomever was accepted inside would leave with the benefit of all the wisdom of those who came before them.

Only the most promising minds from across the lands would even be allowed to enter the city to study.

The young man put his hand to his head. He did not think his mind felt very promising.

His mind did feel made up, however, and that was almost as good. He was going to get into that city, study, and become wise.

He just didn't know how.

But the young man was not going to let not knowing stand in his way of achieving wisdom. He decided to consult the his own village wise man.

"Oh, wise Master," he asked, "How can I gain entrance into the city of wise men?"

The village wise man thought carefully and replied, "Find the path of wisdom. This path will lead you to the city."

"Oh, wise Master," he implored, "What does that mean?"

"If you truly feel the niggle of wisdom calling you, then follow these instructions: Whenever anyone insults you, you shall pay them five wuzzas."

"Five wuzzas? But as cruel as people are these days, how could I possibly afford to pay each one that insults me five wuzzas? My last job only paid nine wuzzas per hour, and even then I had trouble getting by."

"There is more, young man," the wise man continued, "you shall pay anyone that insults you five wuzzas each and every time they do so. You will do this for the next three years, beginning at this very moment."

"Oh, I get it," the young man exclaimed, "You're trying to kill me!"

"No, you fool!" the wise man snorted, "I'm trying to teach you! This is your path to wisdom. Now go, and return in three years."

"Fine, fine," the young man grumbled. "I'll do it." He turned, and began to walk away.

"Young man, wait!" the wise man called out.

The young man spun around eagerly. "Yes, Oh wise Master?"

"You still owe me five wuzzas."

* * * * *

And so it went. For the next three years, the young man traveled all over the land. For each insult he received, he would grudgingly pay his insulter five wuzzas. Of course, word quickly spread through the village that anyone with an insult could make an easy five wuzzas from him, and he was soon completely out of money.

He would travel from village to village, doing odd jobs, earning what he could, and always having to leave after too many people learned how he responded to their barbs.

Fortunately, he was an excellent dishwasher, and the brunt of his travels occurred during that very profitable, but very brief, period in history where dishwashing machines existed, but dishwashing machine repair men did not.

A busy restaurant with a broken dishwasher would pay top-wuzza for someone who could wash dishes in a pinch.

It was a difficult time for the young man. He had to work very hard just to be able to pay off his insulter, and even harder to live. He bore it well, though, for he was certain that he was on the path to wisdom.

Finaqlly, the last few days of his three years was almost up. He began the journey back to his home village, the village that rested in the shadow of the city of wise men.

On the final day, he approached the wise man's split-level hut. Walking through his home village had been tough, as he had assumed it would be. He had deliberately saved up, since he doubted that he had been completely forgotten.

"Hey, ugly! You look funny!" A kid yelled at him with a hand outstretched. The three-years-older young man silently handed the boy a five-wuzza bill, and the kid scampered off.

"Look who's back!" an old neighbor called, noting the young man's tattered clothing. "Wow, you look a lot wiser now!" The young man nearly slipped on the sarcasm that dripped from that remark, but managed to hand the neighbor her five wuzzas.

He reached the wise man's home, and stooped to enter.

"Oh wise Master, I have followed your instructions. To every man, woman, and child that has insulted me since I last left your sight, I have given five wuzzas. And now I return today, exactly three years from then, to continue down my path to wisdom."

The wise man peered intently at him, then up at the sun dial hanging on the wall. He chose his words carefully, then spoke. "You're five minutes early, jackass."

The young man cursed silently to himself, and handed the wise man his very last five wuzza bill.

The wise man folded it in half and tucked it into a pouch hanging from his belt. "Now, young man, it is time. Go to the gate of the city of wise men, and speak to the gate keeper."

The young man walked steadily along the dirt path towards the city. As he walked, he met several others walking back towards village, away from the city of wise men. In each of their faces was a mixture of horror, disgust, surprise, and shame.

The young man did not speak to them, and they averted their eyes and trembled as they passed him, as if they could not stand to be seen by another human being. The young man did not find any of this encouraging.

As he finally approached the gate, he saw a wizened old man standing in front of it, leaning heavily on his staff. He appeared to be asleep on his feet.

The young man wrestled with his growing nervousness, and did not stop until he stood directly in front of the old man.

"Oh, wise Master," the young man addressed him solemnly, "I seek admittance to the city."

The old man's eyes sprang open with a gleam so fierce the young man took a step back.. He stiffened up, drew in a deep, wheezing breath, and then unleashed a torrent of the most biting, scalding, and downright vile insults the young man had ever heard. Certainly, these insults were terrible enough and delivered with such bile and vehemence that they could easily weaken the knees of even the most steadfast of samurai.

When it seemed that the old man had exhausted every possible profanity in the language, he stopped, wiped some spittle from his mouth, and glared at the young man.

The young man stood in shock for a moment. Then he began to laugh. He laughed until he had to hold his sides. He laughed until tears began to stream down his cheeks. He laughed until he doubled over and fell to his knees.

The old man continued to glare. "Why are you laughing, boy?"

"Because," the young man gasped, "for the past three years, I've had to pay five wuzzas for each and every one of my insults, and you have just given me all of those for free!"

A grin split the old man's face, and the gate behind him opened. The old man stepped aside, and gestured for the young man enter. "The city is yours. Learn well, my boy, learn well."

And, still laughing, the young man went in.


Brenda had called me last night. It was late, but I guess I'm a good person to call when you think no one else might be awake.

She said she was having trouble sleeping, so I sat outside on my car and talked to her on the phone for a while.

She had jokingly suggested that I tell her a bedtime story. I told her that I'm not very good at telling stories out loud. I have to write them down, or I always lose my place. But I told her the basic version of the above story. Despite the simplicity of the tale, I forgot a lot of it and had to make up the parts I didn't remember. I completely forgot where I heard that story...until now, at this exact moment.

Sweet, I had read it in The Art of Happiness by the Dali Lama that Dan R. had loaned me. I still have to return that to him. Wait, I think I might be holding it for ransom until he returns my copy of The Idiot.

I'll have to go re-read the story; see how badly I butchered it.

Whew, I've been writing for a while now. The sun is up, along with the rest of my family. They all found it odd to find me typing away wearing only a towel.

Heh heh, blog, it's starting to feel just like old times.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Nothing went as planned last night.

Morgan moved into her new apartment. I arrived at her house-warming party bearing my usual tidings of good cheer and the rarer and more welcome six pack of Corona.

So of course, I had to stay and have one with her.

A few of her friends also turned out to be friends of mine from my high school that I hadn't seen in at least a year. They challenged my ability to take shots, and I could not deny them.

We eventually met the downstairs neighbors, the next door neighbors, and the downstairs/nextdoor neighbors. All good people. It was quite a time.

Except that I was supposed to be at a surprise party for my friend at 9:30 pm.

I made it over at about 10:30.


My friends were all involved in a frenzied game of flip-cup, which I lost no time in joining.

It gets a bit fuzzy after that, but apparently I took notes:

"Patience. The word echoes through your head. It shimmers for a bit, then, speck by speck, disintegrates. Pieces flutter off into the night like errant butterflies.

Probably just the product of a religious upbringing, the patience thing, I mean. The arrogant assurance that it will all work out in the end."

It was a bit odd, the party was at the house that, until last week, I lived in. The time I would normally have crashed happily onto my bed (after perhaps a bit of blogging) was spent instead desperately seeking a ride home, since (after reading my notes) I realized I was in no condition to drive.

Sometimes it seems that life is like a big game of chess.

And even though I'm perfectly happy where my pieces are, knights and rooks and pawns all hanging out with the king and queen swapping stories and drinking ale, some other player (or players) keep inching forward, setting themselves up. But for what, I don't know. An attack, most likely. But maybe I'm just trying to be drawn out. Or maybe some pawn just wants to chill with my pawns and have a beer and a smoke.

It's all very confusing.

In conclusion: I distrust happiness and contentment, because it may just be an illusion, something to satiate you to keep you from reaching your goal. Like in Labyrinth, where Jennifer Connelly's character finds her old room, and her old dolls and everything, only to discover that it's all in the middle of a garbage heap.

I finally got my tattoo touched up today. I am very happy with it. I should have done it two years ago. I am very happy with it. I know what you're thinking, "How much can you possibly 'touch up' a tattoo of the Bat Symbol? It's not that complicated!"

But it is. All the points look a lot sharper, meaner, leaner. A brave new tattoo for a brave new world.

I took Luis with me to the tattoo parlor.

He doesn't want a tattoo anymore.

He couldn't even look when I was getting it done. And I'm glad he wasn't looking, because it was damn hard for me to keep a smiling face. I don't know what the tattoo artist was doing, but it was hurting me even more than when I first got it done. It was definitely one of those moments where you ask yourself, "Why, why, why am I doing this?"

But it was worth it.

There is a radio station that plays Christmas music continuously through the holiday season. I'm a sucker for Christmas music. I don't know why, and I probably never will. It seems odd, especially to me, that I would like Christmas music so much, particularly since when "Gremlins"came out, a certain Christmas song would always make me think of a pine tree trying to kill me.

I feel like I've been talking about nothing, but the way I see it, some nothing is better than no nothing.