Saturday, June 30, 2007

Therapy - Session Four

'Enjoy your weekend?' She asks without any trace of condescension or 'Told-ya-so' attitude. Simply a form of hello.

'It was fine,' I lie.

'Wasn't sure you I would see you again.' I purposely arrived five minutes late to make her sweat it out a bit. Call me petty. Call me childish. I prefer passive aggressive, thank you very much.

'I figured I would give you another chance.'

She smiles. 'I'm glad you came back. I think I can help you if you really want me to.'

'You got your hair done.'

Instinctively, she reaches up to touch the ends that now end at her shoulders. 'Yeah, on Saturday. I needed a change. Like it shorter for the summer.'

'Where do you go?' Her hair actually flatters her face now. Frames it in a more complimentary way. I'm impressed.

'Place on Newbury Street.'

'Salon capital of Boston!'

'Salon capital of Boston,' she agrees.

There is a moment of uncomfortable silence. Both of us waiting for the other to pick up the strand of unraveling conversation.

Being the professional, she yanks it away before I can grab at it. 'I need to ask you a few things. They relate in a way to that day, but only indirectly.'

'How so?'

'They're more like fill in the blank type questions. I need to make sense of how you did the things you did.'

You and me both, I think. 'Give it your best shot, but can we stop if I get too weirded out?'

'Of course.' She reaches over and picks up that yellow legal pad that I have come to despise. All sorts of shit written about me on that thing. She must have written down questions on the pad because she reads off it and I see her make a check mark as she goes down the list.

'You ever shoot a gun before?'

This takes me a bit off guard. Despite all the attention and all the hoopla surrounding that day, nobody ever thought to ask me this. Shooting a gun isn't something that comes naturally. It's not simply a matter of point and shoot, especially when under duress and on the move.

'A friend of mine back in college had a collection of guns. He used to take us out to the shooting range and let us use them.'

'You became comfortable with guns?'

'Not comfortable exactly. They still make me nervous, but after a while I could hit the target more often than not. The only guns I had trouble with were the bigger ones. He had a Magnum - you know the kind Dirty Harry used? - that I could never handle right. It would kick back on me all the time. Gave me a blood blister on the palm of my hand once that hurt like hell for days.'

'If you were nervous around guns, why did you go to the shooting range?'

'Facing my fears, I guess. I figure to get past my anxiety about them, I would learn how to safely use them. My friend was a good teacher. Made sure I knew the steps to make sure things were loaded and the safety was off, how to hold it so the aim was better, goggles and earplugs on, stuff like that. Was kind of fun, once I got used to things.'

As soon as the words are out, I realize how they might be interpreted and quickly add 'That doesn't mean I had fun....'

She interrupts me by putting up her writing hand in a stop gesture, pen still woven through her fingers, 'It's okay, I didn't take it that way. You have any more of those episodes?'

Assuming she's referring to my flashbacks of that day, 'Actually, yeah, but it was an odd one this time. I smelled the gun one day.'


'Yeah, well not the gun, but the smell after a gun shoots, that gunpowder smell, but that's not it, exactly. Whatever it is, that sharp, stinging smell. Smelled it like I had just shot a gun. Weird.'

'Where were you?'

'Was making dinner. Just shucking some corn when it hit me.'

'How long did it last?'

'Maybe a minute. Less? Hard to tell the timing. It's just there, then gone. It might have only been a few seconds.'

'How are things at home?'

I take a few seconds with this one. The sudden change in direction throws me and I'm not sure what business it is of hers, anyway. Deep breath, while I decide. In the end it's just easier to tell the truth. I'm too tired to fight anymore. I've done enough of that lately to carry me a lifetime.

'Actually, David's the reason I came back. Or one of the reasons. The main reason.'

'David's your husband?'

'Yeah, he said I was becoming difficult to live with and if I didn't get help he couldn't promise me he could stick around.'

'You think he would leave you?'

I shrug, 'Maybe. I dunno. I wonder if he is bothered by what I did. Like he's been out machoed by his own wife. Things were fine for a couple of weeks. Just happy I survived, I guess. But...'


'You said I had a lot of anger in me. I think I've been taking that out on him. I don't mean to, he's just there and little, stupid stuff bothers me. And I know it's not really him or what he's doing, but that doesn't make it any easier to stop. You know?'

'I do know. You are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. Understandably so, if you want my personal opinion. Those flashback senses, the lack of sleep, your quick temper. It's all related.'

' do I stop it? Is admitting it the first step?'

'You're not an alcoholic....'

'Yet,' I interrupt. This stops her and she gives me a hard, questioning look. 'Sorry. I was just kidding,' trailing off to a whisper, like a scolded kindergarten child.

'Right. There are medications you can go on, depending on how your body reacts.....'

'I really don't want to go on drugs. Isn't there something else? Can't I do like mental exercises or Yoga?'

'Clearing your mind would certainly be a benefit for you. I would like you to try the group therapy sessions.'

'I'm not ready to go back there. I can't see those people.'

'Why not?'

'I still remember the way they were looking at me when everything was over. Just.....I don't know...'

'A lot of people may have been in shock in some form or another.'

'I know. I think I was one of them. I remember being extremely upset that my shoes were ruined.'


'The blood.'


'I was more upset about that then anything else. Those were nice shoes.'

'Are you going to look for another job?'

'I have to. Something outside of Boston. I can't even go into the city now.'

'Plenty of jobs around. Waltham might be a choice. Plenty of jobs out that way.'

'Yeah, we'll see. I'll deal with that when the time comes. Right now we're okay financially, so it isn't urgent I get back. I just want to be normal again.'

'You consider yourself abnormal?'

'Well, yeah. I can't walk down the street without someone recognizing me. We get calls at the house constantly. We've even changed our number, but a reporter called last night. How did they get it so fast? And why is it when you kill people you immediately become famous?'

'I don't know if famous is the word.'

'It is, though. Think of all the mass killings that have taken place. You always remember the killer's name, not the victims. Unless you're close to someone who was killed, of course. Recently it's the places. Columbine, Virginia Tech, think of these places and mass murder is the first thing that pops into your head. Death and mayhem are what people associate with all of these places now. Doesn't matter what they were known for before. I mean, the term Columbine is now a verb.'

'It's just human nature. We remember traumatic events more than the mundane.'

'It's more than that. I never thought so before, but I don't think we've ever out grown our Wild West culture. Shoot 'em ups in the streets, vigilante justice. We've always glorified violence. It's why men feel suddenly comfortable coming up to me in the street. A few have asked me to marry them,' the memory makes me laugh a bit.

'It may have more to do with the way you look, then what you've done.'

'But what I've done make me more dangerous or....not sure what the word is....manly in their eyes. Suddenly I'm an equal, instead of a possible trophy wife.'

Therapist takes a quick look at the clock, 'Our time is almost up and I'd like to ask you the question.'

Great. 'Okay, let's get it over with.'

'This one won't be so bad. I want to know why you came back? Besides David.'

Not so bad, she says. If she only knew how hard it was for me to walk in that door. 'Not sure how to put this into words, but part of me wants to get past this. I can't stand the way I'm feeling and I'm scared I'll be like this for the rest of my life.'

'I can't promise you won't,' which doesn't give me comfort, although I appreciate the honesty.

'Aren't you supposed to say 'Time heals all wounds' or something.'

'Time is just distance. Healing comes from within.'

'What a therapeutic thing to say.'

'Sorry, I try to avoid the cliches whenever possible. But in this case it's the truth.'


'So you came back because you want help. That's seems like a positive step.'

'Well, I do tend to face my fears.'

'You're scared of therapy?'


'You're scared of ME?' incredulous.

'No, I'm scared of me.'


'More like what I might find out about myself.'

'Such as?'

I take half a minute to get my thoughts together; what to tell, what to omit, whether she can actually handle what I've, in some way, accepted about myself.

'Such as....I don't feel guilty. I don't feel guilty about what I did.'

Again, I've left my therapist speechless. The one person who is supposed to have answers for me, supposed to know exactly what to say, make me feel better, give me 'tools', is left staring at me.

'Don't you think I should feel a little bit bad?'

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Foreign Soil

French commented on my last entry that Kaz Matsui was a 'small market player'. Someone on Baseball Tonight (not sure who) made the generic and somewhat vague argument that Kaz couldn't handle the pressure cooker that tends to come with playing in New York or Boston. That it takes a special mentality to live and play in such an environment.

One can even point to Edgar Renteria's one year stop with the Sox or the current struggles of Julio Lugo as a prime example. Certain players can't handle the intense criticism and scrutiny, both from the media and fans.

Couple that with the cultural transition the Japanese players must go through and you would think that they would be even more susceptible to the stress of playing major league ball than most.

Only I argue they aren't. In fact, I would make the case that players coming from the Japanese Leagues are more ready for the MLB spotlight, including New York and Boston, then any other players. The attention paid to the top Japanese players pales in comparison to what they deal with here. Just look at the media circus following Dice-K. The Sox had to build a separate pen just to hold them all.

Now, let's consider the language barrier for a minute. While I can't say for sure, I'm betting the U.S. media are much more critical of the players then the papers in Asian countries and their fans much more forgiving. While they obviously know what boos are, they are also somewhat protected from the criticisms of the local media than are English speaking players. Mainly because they can't read it. Plus, you can figure the translators (if they're any good) will protect them from that as much as they can. Reporters have to ask them the questions they want answered by their player. If it's inflammatory at all (as if!), the translator most likely will dilute the phrasing to make it more friendly. Don't ya think?

Let's take a look. Below are the main MLB players that are from Japan.

Daisuke Matsuzaka - Red Sox - 8-5, 4.18 ERA (and dropping!) 92.2 IP, 93 SO

Hideki Okajima - Red Sox - 2-0, 1.01 ERA, 35.2 IP, 31 SO, 4 Saves

Kei Igawa - Yankees - 2-1, 7.62 ERA, 30.2 IP, 21 SO

Akinori Otsuka - Rangers - 1-1, 2.03 ERA, 26.2 IP, 22 SO, 4 Saves

Masumi Kawata - Pirates - 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 3.1 IP, 0 SO

Tomo Ohka - Cardinals - 2-5, 5.79 ERA, 56 IP, 21 SO

Takashi Saito - Dodgers - 1-0, 1.61 ERA, 28 IP, 35 SO, 19 Saves

Position Players
Hideki Matsui - Yankees - .296, 7 HR, 42 RBI

Akinori Iwamura - Devil Rays - .317, 2 HR, 10 RBI

Tadahito Iguchi - White Sox - .253, 3 HR, 17 RBI

Ichiro Suzuki - Mariners - .358, 5 HR, 36 RBI

Kenji Johjima - Mariners - .308, 7 HR, 27 RBI

So Taguchi - Cardinals - .310, 2 HR, 13 RBI

Kaz Matsui - Rockies - .318, 2 HR, 16 RBI

Everyone handles change and stress differently, of course, but this is baseball we're talking about. Once the players take the field their instincts and training and lifelong practicing take over. Right? Guess not. Just look at A-Rod's first two years in New York or Randy Johnson's first two minutes.

I can imagine the off field distractions, especially in major cities like Chicago and New York must be enormous. Christ, they distract me when I'm there for work and I don't have smoking hot groupies trying to sleep with me. Stupid groupies. Don't know what they're missing. Or maybe they do.

Anyway, let's get back to the Japanese players. They come from a society where honor, discipline and hard work are not only expected of men, but nearly encoded into their DNA from birth. They practice harder and expect more of themselves than most of their MLB counterparts. That's no slight on the rest of the league, it's just not possible to out work them.

Add to that the absolute mania in Japan fans display towards their teams and the players, then who would be better prepared for the grindhouse of Boston, New York, Chicago and other major cities who live and die by their teams? I say nobody.

Which brings us back to Kaz. He keeps being referred to as a bust for the Mets, but is that really the case? Check out this line:

Games 114, AB 460, 125 hits, 7 homers, 44 RBIs, .272 Avg, .331 OBP, .727 OPS

These are his complete batting stats for his rookie year in New York. Is that a bust? I wouldn't say so. But the media and fans in the city are so relentless and he was playing in the shadow of Hideki Matsui (appropriately nicknamed Godzilla) across town that perhaps expectations were a bit high. Especially considering he's basically a lead off hitter. More in the Ichiro mold than the other Matsui.

He dropped off significantly in 2005 and was even sent to Triple A to work out his issues. Then he hurt his knee, got traded and here he is, on the verge of making the All Start team.

So the question is, if he could handle the New York pressure (and I would argue he could based on his first year stats), then what was the problem? May I suggest coaching? Or maybe how he was being handled in New York. It was no secret that the team was in flux, going through some major turmoil and was looking for a new 'face' for the team. Who better then the new Japanese guy? Managers and front office guys are always taking credit for turning a player around. Maybe they should receive some blame for screwing a player up. He seemed just fine his first year.

Maybe we should figure out what the Rockie coaching staff has done right with him (and what the Met staff did wrong for him) before we blame it on the environment. He's certainly succeeded in crazier arenas then Shea.

Today's distraction: Kaz Matsui's official website. Make sure you check out his stats here. Look remarkably similar to this year's stats, no?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Surprise, surprise

Since we're nearly halfway through the baseball season and things have solidified themselves from being 'hot starts' or 'Yeah but it's only May' to actual trends for the season, I figured I would comment on some of the surprises so far this season.

NOTE: All stats are as of Monday afternoon.

In no particular order.

Colorado Rockies: At the end of April I wrote 'when your best starting pitcher is Jason Hirsch, your closer is Brian Fuentes, and your pitching staff includes Byung-Hyun Kim I don't have much hope for you'. Kim is now gone and Fuentes is fourth in the NL with 20 saves. But the biggest shock is the blossoming of Kaz Matsui. Remember that Mets bust second baseman? Him. His hitting .308, with an OPS over .800. Where did this come from? Guy looked totally lost in New York. At 38-37, they aren't a juggernaut, but they are in a weak division and kicked the Sox asses in Fenway. Lot to like about this team.

Chicago White Sox: An offensive force the last two years, this team ranks dead last in nearly every offensive category in the AL. What the hell is going on? They're currently 29-42, 14.5 out of first, and on the verge of being broken up so they can start over. Never saw an entire team slump all at once before and it isn't pretty.

Pop quiz, Hot Shot. When you think of the worst team in the AL East, what's the first team that comes to mind? You all just thought Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but it's actually....

Baltimore Orioles: First team to fire their manager, too. This team went south in a hurry and they looked atrocious doing it. Still have some raw pitching gems with Cabrera and Bedard, but they don't seem to be improving.

Sammy Sosa: Be honest, who saw this coming? I thought Texas signing him was more of a publicity stunt than anything else. Two years ago he was given up for dead. After spending a year out of the game, he's come back to hit 13 homer with 59 RBIs and it isn't even the end of June. Try not to fall out of your chairs, but he may even represent the Rangers in the All Star game.

Seattle Mariners: I gave up on these guys in May. They looked horrible and King Felix went down with an bizzare injury and nobody knew when, or if, he would be back. So I ignored them for a bit and next thing I know they're 39-33 and keeping their heads above water in the AL West race against a smoking hot Angels team. Honestly, I have no idea how their doing it. At one point they won 5 - count 'em 5 - straight games in their last at bat.

Washington Nationals: I considered putting them here and joking that they're not as horrible as I thought they would be, but then I looked at the standings. Did you know they're only ten games out? TEN! And the Mets, Phillies and Braves are in the same division. I'm filing them and the Mariners under the 'What the fuck?' section.

Chris Young: Besides throwing an impressive looking punch at Derek Lee's head last week, check out these numbers: 90.2 innings - 2.08 ERA - 81 strikeouts - 35 walks. Did I mention he's a 6 foot 10 lefty and pitches behind Jake Peavy?

San Fransico Giants: If I were a Giants fan and held season tickets, I would be suing for my money back. What a joke. They basically sold their soul to the devil (in this case Bonds) in order to put asses in the seats. They suck in so many different ways, I don't even know where to begin. Bond only hits home runs or walks now. Nobody can hit behind him so more and more teams are just putting him on first and taking their chances with everyone else. Zito is the first pitcher in history to have his ERA go UP in the National League. Their one bright spot is Linecum who's been shelled his last three starts and has his ERA balloon to 5.88, worst on the team.

Joe Torre: I was giving him the benefit of the doubt until I saw him use Roger Clemens in relief against the Giants. Normally, this would have been understandable IF IT WAS THE WORLD SERIES!! This is a meaningless game in the middle of June and he's using his most expensive starting pitcher in relief? Has he completely lost it? Was he trying to show everyone what a team player Clemens really is? I'm still trying to figure out what is more amazing - that Torre called on Clemens or that Clemens was actually with the team at the time. My secret theory is that Torre hates Cashman and is trying to get him fired by pulling these boneheaded moves. I'd also like to see if Clemens develops some sort of injury the next week or so.

Today's distraction: Check out the Padre's pitching stats. Amazing team ERA of 3.02. Yeah, they play in that huge park, but that only explains half of it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Therapy - Session Three

‘Have a seat,’ she says, swooping me into the office with her left hand. An instinctive, graceful movement that gives me the impression she used to be a ballet dancer. ‘Just have to finish up some details and I’ll be right with you.’ She heads off to her business office, while I head into our talk zone.

The office is standard shrink. Subdued, rich, dark green carpeting with a simple checkered design. The walls are three shades lighter, reminding me of lime sherbet and are littered with various college degrees. BA from Boston University, Graduate degree from Holy Cross, PhD from Tufts.

Two floor to ceiling windows are on the opposite wall and look out over a side alley so narrow I need to press my face to the glass just to see concrete. The main view is the beige brick siding of the building next door. David would be betting me he could make that jump, claiming it can’t be more than ten feet. I smile at the thought.

The window treatments are functional, simple, yet somehow elegant. Hanging slats that can be spread apart pulling one chain, swivel to block the sun pulling another. I experiment to figure out which chain does what and notice they barely make a sound when I move them.

Flowerless plants are placed by each of the windows on solid, cylindrical end tables that have no legs and no character. They are yet another shade of green.

Everything soothing. Non threatening. Boring.

Hanging between the two windows is a picture of Therapist about fifteen years younger. She’s accepting some sort of plaque while shaking hands with Bill Clinton. Clinton barely has any grey in his hair; his Presidential twinkle turned up to full wattage. Wonder if he tried to grab her ass at some point during their meeting. What I assume is the plaque Clinton is presenting to her in the picture is hanging just below, perfectly aligned. 'Presidential Achievement' of something or other. Blah blah.

She's taking her sweet time.

I'm about to stroll over to my usual seat when I notice a small, unframed picture stuck to the wall with a thumbtack. The corners are just starting to curl, testifying to it's longevity in the location. There are two tack holes on each side of the picture, as if she had to try twice to get the photo just where she wanted it.

The picture is of Therapist with her husband and daughter (I'm guessing) on either side. All are sitting on deck chairs on a dock. Hubby and daughter have scooted to the edge of their chairs so they all fit in the picture. Behind them are those dozens of those little sailboats, all pointing in the same direction. Must be a race. What's it called? Ricotta? No, idiot! That's a cheese. Regatta!! That's it.

Daughter is a beauty. All the sharply defined features of her mother without the harshness. Could be a model if she chose. Husband, while smiling, seems distracted and confused. He's looking past the camera, like something behind the person taking the picture has caught his eye, but he can't figure out what.

'Lake Ossippee,' she says behind me. 'Bought that cabin nearly 20 years ago. Makes me feel old just thinking about it.'

'Worth it?' still looking at the picture.

'Every penny. We have spent a lot of time up there. We've made some improvements over the years, so it hardly classifies as a cabin anymore. Nice to get away from the city and unwind.'

I consider the possibility that I may never be able to unwind again. It's a depressing thought that clamps me in place for a few seconds. I pretend to study the picture while I struggle to get back in control.


Looking back, she has taken her seat, legs crossed, legal pad on her lap, pen poised and ready to note my ramblings.

'What are we talking about today?' She smiles while asking, but it's calculated. She has a plan.

'You tell me,' I offer. Might as well get to it.

'Have you gone back to work, yet?'

Ah! 'I don't know if I can go back there.'

'That's understandable. Do you think you will at some point?'

I shake my head.

'Are you still being paid?'

'Everyone has been given 3 months off with pay. They're offering grief counseling and..' I motion towards her.

'Right. You attend any of the grief sessions?'

'They're group sessions. I'm not ready to see anyone from work.'

'Often those can be helpful. Sharing your thoughts and problems with people that went through the same thing you....'

'None of them went through what I did!' She flinches a bit at the anger.

'You were all there from the beginning. You all...'

'Are you telling me those people could tell me what it's like to do what I did? That they would understand what it is I'm going through?'

Her silence answers for her.

A random thought pops up. I look at her, making sure we have solid eye contact. 'Are you afraid of me?'

Defiance flashes in her eyes. 'I'm concerned for you. You are very angry. Understandably so, but if you don't find ways to deal with it....Look, I've seen this many times before. Anger...rage is very destructive. The ones that did this to you and the others aren't here anymore. They can't....'

'Is that who you think I'm angry with?' I nearly laugh.

She stops, momentarily confused, 'Who are you angry with?'

'Why can't I just be angry at the injustice of it all? Why does it have to be directed at a specific someone?'

'You don't strike me as someone who 'Rages Against the Machine', so to speak.'

'I don't even know what that means'

'Exactly,' she answers, confusing me more.

Before I can ask for clarification, she continues 'I want to try something today.'

Fantastic. 'What?'

'A simple exercise, then I'll ask my question for today.'

'Is your definition of simple the same as mine?'

'I hope so, for your sake.' A smile. Did she just make a joke?

'I reserve the right to back out if I don't like where it's going, ok?'

'Agreed. Ready?'

'Fire away'

'I want you take a particular memory from that day. You don't have to tell me what it is, but I want you to get it in your head.'

Before I can stop it, Angela's face appears. Her tear streaked face turning back as they lead her out the door. Our eyes meet for a split second and I read the undiluted terror and despair; the pleading for someone to do something, before she turns the corner and is gone forever.

'Thanks,' I say angrily.

'Sorry,' but she doesn't mean it. 'But that moment you just had? Even though I don't know what it is, I'm betting that's the turning point for you. That was the switch that made you do what you did.

I say nothing, still recovering and afraid my voice will betray me.

'I'm right?'

Nod. Tears now, despite myself. I fucking hate this woman!

She reaches out and almost touches me, but I retreat. 'I'm sorry,' she says again, but this one has more feeling. Or maybe I'm just more emotional and hear it that way.

'Last week you mentioned feeling like a zombie,' she says, handing me a flowery box of tissues.

'Do you remember?'

I nod again, but don't look.

'Whether you were aware of it or not, that was a perfect description of how you might be feeling. Someone who is the living dead. Or was dead and brought back to life. At some point during that ordeal, you may have given up on yourself. On everyone that was with you. Accepted death. But you are still here. You're still alive. It's time to start putting it back together.'

The entire time she's talking I'm staring at the green carpeting with it's little squares etched out in gold. Her voice has a gentle rhythm and cadence to it that calms me down. Manages to get me back to a normal breathing rate.

'I need you to look at me,' she says.

'I'm not sure I can,' but I do. Lift my head and look her in the eye. For some reason I expected to find a scornful, motherly look, but instead I see compassion and a touch of fear. Maybe she is scared of me.

'You are not dead. You managed to survive that day.'

I say and do nothing. Just look at her for a beat, then away.

'You ready for your question?'

This makes me laugh. It's an unsteady, soggy laugh. 'You haven't tortured me enough?'

'It's a simple one and I don't want you to answer me today.'

Intrigued, 'Why not today?'

'Because this answer won't be verbal. Your answer will be whether you show up next week or not.'

She's giving me an out. 'Go ahead.'

'Do you wish you died that day? If you do, then don't bother coming back. You can pretend things didn't happen the way they did. You can try and fake the rest of your life, but you will never be the same from this. I think you already know that. Or maybe you want to just walk out the front door and into the path of the next bus? Take the coward's way out.'

She leans forward a bit, 'But if you didn't want to die, if you wanted - and want - to keep living, despite everything you went through, then I expect to see you next time. You have the weekend to think it over.'

With that she stood, picked up her stupid yellow pad, turned her bony, ugly ass to me and walked out the door, leaving me sitting there. Face stiff with dried tears. Wet tissues balled in my hand. Feeling abandoned, naked and raw.

I fucking hate that woman.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Vacation Station

I'm taking the week off from work next week and, if I do say so myself, it is well earned. I've been working my ass off lately and need the recharge time. Plus the following week will be July 4th week. Since it falls on a Wednesday this year, that entire week is going to be dead. Half our office won't be showing up.

I'll try to post during my week off, but don't count on it. I have a shit load of projects to catch up on. Let's see.....

Paint the bedroom

Patch the front stairs

Plug holes in the foundation so those cute, little mice can't find their way into our house. Those adorable rodents. I love having them and would never do anything to hurt their tiny heads, but I can't have them going through our food. I just can't.

You buy any of that, DA?

Where was I? Oh, right. Things to do this coming week.

Fix the side lawn the tree removal guys ruined when they decided to park their enormous truck on the grass. The boys keep tripping on the divots and it makes mowing the lawn miserable.

Completely clean out my truck. Inside and out. When the sun shines through all I see are little fingerprints all over the windows.

Put together the multitude of birthday presents my seven year old received. This includes a basketball hoop that I will get great use out of.

So it looks like this is going to be a 'working vacation' for me. Of course.

Some random thoughts before I head out.

- Reading about the LA woman who spent so long in the emergency room of a hospital that her husband and another woman actually called 911. Now, I'm no medical expert, but I fairly certain that when someone is puking up blood all over the hospital floor as this woman was you might want to consider moving her to the top of the list. The hospital's response? To have her arrested. She died as they were taking her out of the hospital. She left behind three children and one bewildered husband who will now no doubt own that same hospital. I hope he fires every doctor, nurse, security guard and administrator on duty that night.

- My new buddy Koit and I were talking about the above incident and he related an LA County Hospital story to me. He was practicing some new trick, wound up landing wrong and knew he did something fairly serious to himself. He couldn't stand up straight and was in more pain than he had ever been in before or since. Since he didn't have health insurance, he went to County and sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. He waited so long that the doctor that admitted him was coming back ON DUTY, saw him sitting there and asked, astounded, 'Nobody has seen you yet??!!! Get in here with me right now!' So Koit waited in an emergency room so long that a doctor actually had time to go home, shower, eat, sleep for 6-8 hours, get up, eat again, and come back into work. Turned out he had a bruised spleen. Ouch.

- Watched the Sox - Padres game Friday night and they inexplicably decided to wear 1980's throwback uniforms. Holy shit were those things ugly. Who thought that was a good idea? Who? Besides the godawful colors of the Padres, the Red Sox roadies weren't even symmetrical. They had BOS on one side of the buttons with TON on the other. But the TON was so far to the right, it was uneven. So it looked like BOS : TON.

- Finally get back home after my week away and everyone is asleep by 9 PM. What the hell is that all about? I know my kids should be asleep by then, but the wife? What a lame Friday night. Certainly no way to kick off my vacation.

- After hearing about the teen who lost her feet on a Six Flag ride, I have officially sworn off all amusement park rides for the rest of my life. Too bad. I used to like going on them. They were fun. Now you might not come back with parts of yourself.

- Flight back from Baltimore was bumpy, to say the least. We landed so hard on the Logan runway it rattled my teeth and several women (and one man) actually cried out in alarm. Not exactly a smooth landing.

- A few news programs are calling Suni Williams, who just came back from the space station 'the endurance champion' for women astronauts. Um, excuse me, but she may have taken the longest space walk for a woman, but did she drive 18 hours straight wearing a diaper? Did she?? Endurance my ass. Try sitting in your own shit and piss while plotting a murder then we can talk.

- Finally, my son's little league team offered Bobbleheads with his picture on it. I, of course, ordered two - one for me and one for him. Well they came in and it is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I love this thing. When I get back to work it's going on my bookshelf in the most prominent spot I can find.

Enjoy your week everyone!

Today's distraction: Dodge the Dot! Much harder than it first appears. Warning: can become very addictive.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Odds and Ends

- In case you haven't heard (and if you haven't, shame on you. FOR SHAME!!), the new iPhone makes it big ass premiere on June 29th. It's all touch screen and colorful and fancy-like. Go to the link to take a quick tour. Some unsolicited advice: Don't ever buy a brand new tech gizmo when it's first released. Always wait a few months so they get the bugs worked out of it (and there will be bugs!) and the prices come down. Looks like AT&T will have the rights to distribute it, but it's not clear if that's just at the start or forever. I can't imagine Apple limiting the usage of this to one carrier. Then again, I can't imagine Apple doing a lot of the things they've done.

- Was a bit ambivalent about Schilling's shoulder checking out fine. One one hand, it means there is nothing physically wrong with him and he can keep pitching. On the other hand it means he just sucks and can keep pitching.

- There's a brand new PF Chang's in Baltimore! Had lunch there yesterday and on the way out made a crack to the women I went with that it was official - Baltimore is Boston Junior. She started laughing, stopped, decided that she should be offended and gave me a dirty look. I asked, 'You've never been to Boston, have you?'. 'No, but it can't be better than here.' Defending her city. How sweet.

- Not even two minutes later we walked by an entire park of homeless people. At least 8 all sitting on benches, hands out asking for money. One even bummed a cigarette from my companion. She says 'Are there this many homeless people in Boston?' 'No,' I answer, 'that's the one thing Baltimore does better than us.' Score one for the Bostonian!!

- Like we needed another verification that Bush is the biggest Presidential buffoon in history, he does this. Is it any wonder all the biggest medical discoveries are all occurring in other countries. For someone that claims to be 'pro-life' he sure likes to prolong the life of fatal diseases we could find cures for using stem cells. Nice work, Mr. President.

- If you haven't seen it, yet, check out Roger Clemens trying to sign with the Yankees yet again. A bit long, but they cast it perfectly. 'I'm the Rocket!'

- Absolutely gorgeous night on the Baltimore waterfront last night. Got a taste of the local scene when I spent a better part of the night at J Paul's outdoor bar. One thing I noted right off the bat, was the extraordinary number of crazy people around. These aren't the same as the homeless, but people that just seem 'off' in a mostly harmless way. Like the long haired stoner dude who thought it was his job to pretend to play drums while the acoustic guitarist sang his songs. He even went off twice to find sticks so he could really get into it.

- I should probably mention the odd response I got from the bar staff and people immediately surrounding me. A lot of double takes. Turns out some obnoxious drunk guy had been sitting in my seat and had asked him to leave. They thought I was him and were ignoring me until they realized I was not that guy. After that they were very friendly.

- By the way, obnoxious guy came back and they turned him away, telling him he was too drunk. He tried to give the bartender a hug, but he stepped back VERY quickly and said, 'Whoa, I have a strict 12 inch personal space rule, man.' Drunk guy then just staggered away, but would stop now and then to look back and point at the bartender.

- Met a 'rad' dude named Koit (no really, I asked him to spell it and everything) who rides bikes for a living. You know, like one of those X-Game bikers? He doesn't do the ramps, only flat surfaces. As he put it, 'It's like ballet on a bike'. Nice work if you can get it. He's been touring the country and has been on ESPN and MTV. He's also 27, but looks 15. Very nice guy who grew up in Iowa, but couldn't handle the boredom. I guessing there are a lot of Iowans in that same boat.

- Great crabcakes at J Paul's.

- In every city I visit I like to try a local beer. Last night it was Yuengling Traditional Lager and it was great. Technically it's from the Pittsburgh area, but I still wound up having quite a few of these and feeling good.

- Cute girl bartender (who was just happy I wasn't drunk guy) originates from the area and told me about a church that they turned into a brewery. As I said when I first heard this, 'Now there's a religion I can get behind!'. They have a huge brewery where the altar should be and in the confessionals are the hard liquor. I did a quick search for you so you can see for yourself. I've just added this to my list of places to visit before I die.

- Just putting the rest of the baseball world on notice that Manny, Papi, JD, and Coco are all warming up at once for the first time all season. We could be looking at a good run if this keeps up.

Today's distraction: Take a tour of Baltimore's Inner Harbor area. I'm liking this area quite a bit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

FlashBack in Black

I finally managed to pick up one of the most influential albums of my life last week. It had been re-released in one of those 'remastered' CD versions and I downloaded it off iTunes and got it queued up as soon as I could.

I am referring, of course, to one of the greatest rock albums of all time: AC/DC's 'Back in Black'.

Some history first. 'Back in Black' came out in 1980 and was their first release with new lead singer Brian Johnson. Bon Scott, their former singer, died by....well....the coroner described it best: 'He drunk himself to death'. There have been varying reports about the details, ranging from being found in his own empty pool to being found slumped over his toilet. Either way, he was gone and needed to be replaced.

Enter Brian Johnson, who, one could argue, is one of the lousiest lead singers in rock history. His voice more like a straining screech than actual singing. It always sounded like he was on the verge of bursting a vocal chord or having his head explode. Needless to say he was a perfect match.

As for me, I was in junior high in 1980 (yeah, I'm an old man. Some of you probably weren't even born. Bite me!) and just couldn't find my musical bearings. Everyone was listening to Bob Seger, Queen, and Led Zeppelin which were fine, but they were a little over the top for me. I enjoyed them enough, but I grew tired of them quickly. Not enough...I don't know...something. Something was missing. I just didn't know what it was.

Until I put 'Back in Black' on for the first time. Everyone has one of those life altering albums they will always look back fondly on; listen to for the rest of their lives. For me it was this one. From the opening bell tolls to the crunching chords of the title song I knew this was what I was looking for. Not just that it was bullshit free or ignored the orchestral flourishes that all the bands were using back then (I blame Queen and Bowie for that trend), but because it was what I always thought true Rock and Roll (yes, with capital Rs) was supposed to be - gritty, straightforward, angry and a bit dangerous.

But more importantly, it was something I hadn't even realized music could be. Fun. Considering the far too serious nature of other music out at the time, these guys were a refreshing blast of hot air. No pretentiousness with them. They liked their women, booze, booze and women, women in their booze and booze in their women.

Yeah, they were misogynistic pigs, famously epitomized by their tribute to a groupie blow job in 'Giving The Dog A Bone' ('She's using her head again'), but they were so good natured and affable, it was hard to hold it against them. Besides, being in 7th grade, it was fun to listen to these songs while my parents tried to figure out if the lyrics were appropriate or not. My father despised the music so much he could only listen for a few seconds before leaving in disgust. 'Just a bunch of noise', he would grumble.

Only it wasn't. Listening to them now, they display much more melody than I remember. It was just buried under Johnson's horrid vocal chords and angry, thrashing guitars. Angus showing the flash, while Malcolm blasting power chords that literally would shake the floor. Whether you like them or not, you must admit they get the blood flowing.

Listen to the following songs when you have time (or download them if you've never heard them before, you won't be disappointed):

'Have a Drink on Me'
'Shoot to Thrill'
'Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution'
'Shake a Leg'

Those last two in particular kicked off a Blues trend for me. Something about the way 'Shake a Leg' starts off like a clone of 'TNT' before launching into some down and dirty, blues inflected, hard rock just sucked me in. I loved it and wanted more. So, off I went reading up on what influenced them and wound up listening to old blues artists and some early Rolling Stones.

Even today a lot of what I listen to is heavily influenced by AC/DC. Akaline Trio, Green Day, Rage Against the Machine (and some of the better AudioSlave songs), LostProphets, Cave In, The Hold Steady. They all have the same power driving their songs. Pounding you into submission while seducing you with their melody - ok, not Rage, but the others.

My buddies and I wound up going to many, many AC/DC concerts over the years. So many, in fact, I had to stop going to concerts altogether as my ears wouldn't stop ringing for days afterwards. We followed them through the years, buying up 'For Those About to Rock....', the vastly underrated 'Fly on the Wall', and even went to the horrid movie 'Maximum Overdrive' with Emilio Estevez because AC/DC did the soundtrack for it. Totally worth it.

What surprises me, too, is how well this particular album holds up. It still sounds great today. Hasn't aged a bit. Of course, that just may be my personal memories holding it up, but I don't think so. It's just timeless, like all great music.

I'll let Malcolm Young have the last word, since he did help shape my attitudes and tastes. When asked about the critics that claim AC/DC just puts out the same album over and over again, that they have released 12 records that sound exactly the same, Malcolm scoffed and said 'Those fuckers are completely wrong. We've put out 13 albums that sound exactly the same.'

Today's distraction: Take VH1's Back in Black AC/DC quiz. You have to click on the link to launch it. I got 8 right and gave away one of the answers in this post. So you should all get at least one right.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kobe or Not Kobe

In the never ending battle for who can be the biggest, active douchebag in sports, Kobe Bryant has vaulted himself into a huge lead; leaving Barry Bonds - who has been curiously quiet and well mannered as he approaches 756 - in his dust.

Bryant is unhappy with the current state of his Laker team and the lack of moves or lack of not making non-moves they have made or not made the last few years. Confused? So are Laker fans, who remember vividly the Colorado rape case, Kobe throwing Shaq under the multiple buses during a police interrogation and the subsequent friction between his enormous ego and Phil Jackson that caused Jackson (winner of nine, that's right, NINE titles) to walk away in disgust.

They remember it, in fact, as vividly as if it happened about three years ago. Just after they got swept by the Pistons in the Finals and Kobe whored himself around the league to up the Laker's paycheck for his services. Wait, it was just three years ago? How time flies.

A couple of weeks back Bryant was interviewed by the soft spoken Stephen A. Smith and admitted he wanted a trade, since he wanted to win more than anything and he was frustrated by the lack of activity by the Lakers to get them to the top. You know like paying out the nose for a me first guard at the expense of being able to afford any other star players. Those kind of moves.

But, wait. Kobe didn't mean that at all. After having an 'emotional' conversation with Phil Jackson (who somehow decided to come back and coach this dickwad), he recanted his trade demand and announced that it was just 'hard' for him to see his beloved Laker team having so much trouble. I mean, what the hell, if they would just do what he said, they'd be better off and be winning again.

But, wait again. Turns out Guru Jackson only convinced Kobe for so long, because Kobe just posted on his website that he really does want to be traded. Yes, he still loves the Lakers and their fans, but the one thing he 'won't sacrifice is WINNING'. The caps are all his.

Earth to Kobe, earth to Kobe, you in fact did sacrifice winning three years ago. Remember that big guy you used to play with? The one that went to Miami and won another title with Dwayne Wade? 'Member him? If I remember correctly (and I do), he was traded out of town per your request. I know, I know you and Buss say that wasn't the case, but we all know the truth. You wanted to have your own team and that could never happen with Shaq and his charismatic shadow blocking your sun at every turn. He had to go.

Remember going to the Clippers and making a big show of how they were courting you around town? Remember how it was right in the Laker's own back yard and you used the idea of watching you play in the same building in another uniform their worst nightmare? Remember how it scared the Laker's into opening up the vault for you? That was fun. And nice work, by the way. Any other, less media savvy player wouldn't have thought of that. But you know which buttons to push.

Just like the buttons you're pushing now. You want out of the huge mess you created in LakerLand and you want out now. The problem is you also want to be loved and adored by all the fans you're about to fuck over for your own personal gratification. It's not enough you get what you want, you want your adoring public to want that for you, too.

Well, guess want, Kobe. Fans aren't as stupid as you think. They see through your 'I love the Lakers' charade. They know you're just spinning your demands into something noble and pure; playing the 'I just want to win' card on every hand.

Problem is if you really did 'just want to win' then you never would have sent Shaq packing. You would have realized you needed him. You would have never made the Lakers pay you that much money knowing it would limit what movement they could make over the next few years. You want to just win? Fine. Have the Lakers rip up your current contract and renegotiate a new one that pays you less and gives the team more flexibility. You want Jason Kidd on your team? You want Kevin Garnett on your team? Then it's time to put your money where your mouth is.

But we both know that will never happen. Because we both know what kind of person, player, man you really are. One that is selfish, condescending and thinks the world should bend to his will.

You, Kobe Bryant, are nothing but a spoiled brat with unlimited ability and cash and severely limited intelligence and common sense.

Still, if it makes you feel better to place the blame on everyone else, that's your prerogative. It's becoming clear you have some sort of personality disorder that prevents you from taking any responsibility for your own actions or having any semblance of reality based logic. Keep telling yourself that you are unique and deserve special treatment. Keep telling yourself that you are just an ultra competetive athlete that craves - no - needs to win. Keep telling yourself that your fans (the same ones you made shell out another $200 for a Kobe jersey when you inexplicably changed numbers, by the way) will understand why you are doing this.

Keep telling yourself all of that. Soon you'll be the only one listening.

Today's distraction: Visit and voice your thoughts on Kobe's website. He does a great job showing what a nice guy he is by visiting the Boys and Girls Clubs. Of course he has cameras everywhere to document his niceness. What a tool.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Idle Thoughts

An absolutely hectic weekend. I'm friggin' exhausted.

- Son's little league season wrapped up Saturday morning with a family day at the park and a parents versus kids kickball game. I made two catches holding an iced vanilla Americano in the field. Impressed the adults more than the kids.

- Part of the day was a raffle that included two tickets to the Sox game that night (Yeah, the Giants and Bonds). I don't have to tell you I didn't win, because if I had I would be writing about my day at Fenway.

- Saturday was also eldest son's birthday. He is now 'seven year old' in this space from now on. The one thing he wanted more than anything was a wooden bat. You know how hard it is to find a wooden bat the proper size for a seven year old? Right, hard. We finally found one at Modell's that unfortunately had Derek Jeter's name and fake signature on it.

- Other things he got that will give you an idea of my son's interests: Star Wars Lego set, SpongeBob Legos that looks like I'll be spending the better part of the day helping him put together, basketball, basketball hoop (which I'm happy about), super soakers, and one of those baseball rope - ball thingys that are supposed to help you practice your swing. It attaches to a pole and you hit the ball, which swings around then back again so you can hit it again. Kind of like tether ball. Guess who's face and name is all over that, too? Yup. Jeter. Guy's pimping his name out to anything.

- Got the boys and myself haircuts on Saturday, as well. Got my youngest his first wiffle and he looks about 2 years older. How does that happen?

- Saturday afternoon the inlaws came over for a Father's Day/Birthday party and I had to sit there listening to my father in law go on and on about how they're going to be dredging the harbor where his condo is because when they first created the harbor that was the agreement and if they don't do that then they'll be forcing the Association....oh shut the fuck up already!!!! As soon as he took a breath, I ran and grabbed a beer. It was 3pm.

- An unexpected, added benefit to our new television - I can sit on the back deck and still watch the Sox game through the back windows. I am very close to nirvana at my house. All I need is to add a fully functional beer tap and subtract one very annoying dog. Oh, and a wife that would let me have friends. That would be nice, too.

- Sunday was another crazy day. Newly minted seven year old had to go to his friend's birthday party at LaserQuest in Danvers. Gotta tell you, shooting at bratty kids is very therapeutic. Enjoyed myself a bit more than I probably should have.

- Sunday afternoon we went to my parents for yet another Father's Day/Birthday party. My mother, who is over 70 now, spent all day making dinner when we all thought it was just going to be a simple cookout. I'm convinced we'll find her dead body slumped over a boiling pot of pasta one day. She needs to chill out and realize she's not as young as she used to be.

- Played wiffle ball in my folks backyard nearly all afternoon. Oldest never wants to quit. I hope his passion for the game keeps up. Seems to love playing and is good. Figure if he's drafted out of high school I can retire early and become his manager.

- I was supposed to do work over the weekend, but it was so nice I blew it off. Yes, I am the model of responsibility and motivation.

- Sox looked good over the weekend. Nice to see Manny finally start his season. Only took two months.

- Yankees finally lost, too. I hope the NY fans aren't too crushed when they come out of their streak. They've been playing the best ball of the season, but there is always a bit of a slide when a winning streak ends. Maybe when they actually go on the road and face a tough team. Yeah, I bet that's when it happens.

- Speaking of which, who the hell puts the schedule together? Sox go out west and play the A's and Diamondbacks, come home for the Giants, then go back out to Atlanta, San Diego, then Seattle, then back to Boston. I hope the players have a frequent flyer program. Holy crap! Meanwhile the Yankees have played about 12 games in a row at home. And are still eight and a half back after the Sox went through their worst stretch (so far). Just pointing it out is all.

- By the way, I still haven't received an answer on why the Pirates had to go play the Yankees in New York, but the Yankees don't have to go to Pittsburgh. And I've been asking around. Nothing. Maybe I should ask Simmons.

- Watched 'Flushed Away' with the kiddies on Father's Day morning and laughed out loud on more than a few occasions. These Aardman guys are funny fucks. They made the 'Wallace and Gromit' movie and 'Chicken Run'. Kids and parents both like their movies which isn't easy to do.

- Finally, this week is going to be sporadic for posts. I head back to Baltimore tomorrow morning and will be there until Friday. Will try to keep on schedule, but that probably won't happen.

Today's distraction: As a tribute to shooting lasers at little eyes on Sunday, here is a fun, challenging laser game. Use the mirrors to deflect the laser to the correct spots.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Therapy - Session Two

‘Welcome back’ she says, as I take my seat.

‘Gee, thanks’. Sarcasm my art; the world my canvass.

‘How are you doing today?’

‘Feel like a zombie’. Not sure why I lie to her. The truth is I’ve felt like glass the last few days. Thin. Fragile. Transparent.

‘Still not sleeping?’ Interesting she brings up my first lie in response to this one.

‘Not really. Did you know night time TV sucks?’

‘So I’ve heard. I usually stay up late doing work, not watching television.’

‘Show off’. When she laughs I realize I said this out loud. Whoops.

‘You have your question of the day ready?’ I ask

‘I do. You want it now?’

‘No, no….wait until the end.’

She gives me a half nod. Head down, then straight at me again. ‘So what did you want to talk about today? Catch anything good on your night owl TV?’

‘No, it’s horrible stuff. Find myself watching west coast baseball games a lot.’

‘You like baseball?’

‘No, fucking hate it! Oh, sorry..’

‘Curse all you want. This is your space.’

I cringe at that. Therapists try to make you feel at home and comfortable in order to get you to open up. I don’t want to be comfortable or open up. I want to get these sessions over with and leave.

Instead of expressing that, I offer a half hearted, quiet ‘Thanks’.

‘So, if you don’t like baseball, why are you watching it?’

I shrug. ‘I’m hoping the boredom will put me to sleep.’

‘Doesn’t work?’

‘Nope. But I have discovered that California has a crap load of baseball teams. Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco. L.A. has two! Why does a city need two teams?’

‘They have two basketball teams, too.’


‘They even play in the same building.’

‘Wait, do they ever play each other?’

‘I would think they must.’

‘So when they play each other, who is the home team?’

‘I’m not sure.’

‘I wonder about New York, too. Does everyone root for the Yankees and Mets? Or do you pick one when you’re growing up?’

‘I think they’re based in different neighborhoods, so the city is usually divided.’

‘So, if the Yankees win the World Series, the Met fans don’t celebrate?’

‘I supposed some would, but I don’t think the fans like each other much.’


Therapist waits half a minute while I mull over the social ramifications. ‘Is there anything you like about baseball?’

‘Some things. It’s such a strange sport. It seems to take a long time to get ready. Each hitter spends time preparing themselves for each and every pitch. It can be so frustrating waiting for them. I notice some take longer than others. They’ll step away and adjust things, then step back in, then the pitcher throws, then the guy steps out again….’


‘But, when things happen they happen quickly and suddenly. You could be watching a deadly boring game and suddenly there are three hits in a row and the crowd is going crazy. Out of nowhere. I can see how people get wrapped up in it. Do you think people actually watch baseball games or do they keep it on in the background and watch when the exciting parts happen?’

‘I’m sure there are some that watch for the game itself and some that only watch the highlights.’ A cop out. She doesn’t know.

‘I can tell when something interesting is happening by the tone of the announcer. They get loud, it means you should pay attention.’

‘What else do you like?’

‘You can always win.’


‘I saw the San Fran team….A’s?’

‘Giants, I think’

‘Giants….score three runs in the last inning to win it a few nights ago. Teams can always come back. Doesn’t matter how far down they are. I like that there is no time limit. The game only ends when it ends. No clock to tell you how much time is left.’

I wait for some nugget of wisdom, but get nothing. Just the sound of Therapist scribbling notes.

So I say, ‘I’m thinking I should get HBO. Maybe I can catch up on the Sopranos or something.’

‘You really want to talk about your cable options?’

‘Actually, I’d rather be sitting on a beach somewhere relaxing. But I’m here and need to fill up 30 minutes of talk time.’

‘Then you’re wasting both of our time.’ She doesn’t say it angrily or mean. Matter of fact-like.

I take offense anyway. My trigger has been lightning quick regarding anything recently and this is no exception.

‘Well then ask your fucking question so we can both get on with better things!’ Staring her down. ‘You want to know if I heard anything? You asked that last week.’

‘What do you want to get out of this?’

‘That your question?’

‘A question. Not THE question. This one doesn’t have anything to do with that day.’

‘Everything about me has to do with that day. It’s the day that’s defined me. Haven’t you heard?’

‘You seem to be having trouble coming to grips with your celebrity.’

‘Celebrity. That’s an odd word to use.’

‘It fits.’ Hard to argue that.

‘So?’ Therapist still expecting an answer. ‘What do you want out of this?’

‘I thought you were supposed to get things out of me.’

‘That’s not how it works. If you can’t get anything out of this, then we really are wasting time.’

‘What can you give me?’

‘I can give you tools to deal with things.’

‘Tools.’ Screwdriver? Hammer? Maybe a drill to bore out the memories.

We’re both quiet for a minute. Something strikes me. ‘I want my routine back.’

Her eyebrows raise, ‘Your routine?’

‘Yeah. I want my daily routine back. Getting up, shower, breakfast, taking the train to work, coffee in the office, work, train home, dinner. My routine. I want to be able to do that again. Hell I'd like to just be able to go to the grocery store like a normal person.’

‘You can’t do that now?’

‘Not without major distractions.’

‘What sort of distractions?’

‘People recognizing me. I've noticed the looks and pointing. Some have even come up to congratulate me. And, the…’

‘The what?’

‘The…I don’t know what they are…sensations. Memories, I think. I can’t explain it.’

‘Please try.’

‘It’s like this. I’m talking to someone or walking down the street and I’m suddenly scared shitless. For no reason. I’m terrified. I can’t move or breath and I feel like…like…I can feel the gun.’

‘Feel it how?’

‘The weight of it. How it felt. Much heavier than I thought. And warm. I always thought a gun would be cold to touch. Metal, you know….but it was warm. I never thought it would be warm. ’

‘What do you do when this happens?’

‘Nothing. I just stop for a minute, hold my breath and then it’s just goes away.’

‘How often does it happen?’

‘Twice so far. Wait, is this part of your question?’

She smiles a bit. ‘I haven’t even asked it yet’

‘Well, go ahead and ask,’ I say, mentally kicking myself. ‘Time’s running down. You want to know if I heard anything, right?’

‘No. My question is this: If you could change one thing about that day, what would it be? It can only be one thing.’

‘Besides calling in sick?’ I attempt to laugh but it comes out a humorless, harsh bark. She doesn’t laugh. Doesn’t blink or move. Just stares at me.

Honesty. Right. Be honest.

‘I would have done it sooner.’

A blink, ‘Sooner?’

‘Yes. Everything I wound up doing, I would have done right at the start.’

She says nothing, but looks stricken. Like I just told her I killed my own baby.

‘How could you possibly think that would have helped?’ she asks.

‘If I started earlier,’ I reply, ‘more people would be alive.’

I wait. Ten seconds. Twenty. Thirty and she still says nothing.

‘Can I go now?’

Friday, June 15, 2007

Kid 'N Play

I walk into the house last night, say hi to the youngest who is sitting at the kitchen table crashing Matchbox cars into each other. He would make a sound like 'Ahhhhhh' then smash the cars together and say, 'Whoa, big crash', laugh to himself and do it again with two different cars.

Say hello to wifey who is sitting at the computer doing who knows what. Probably buying more shit we don't need or tracking my daily activity with the GPS device she covertly implanted in my scrotum.

As I put my bag down, a voice calls from the playroom. 'DAAAAAD??!!'

It's the six year old. 'Yeah?'

'I need you to drop in'. For you novices out there, he's referring to me joining a video game he's already playing. In this case it's the Star Wars Lego game for XBox. He likes me to 'drop in' when he's having trouble beating someone or figuring out how to get out of a level. I am the XBox Master as far as he's concerned. Yes, it's a sheltered life he leads.

I join in, we defeat the Emperor and I then drop out and go get something for dinner. While I'm chewing away on my home made cheeseburger sub (delicious, if I do say so), I flashback to when I was his age. You know, back when they didn't have video games and I had to entertain myself by torturing my younger brothers or using water colors or going outside to play whiffleball. I think, what the fuck? I got screwed! No wonder I spent half my childhood getting into trouble. I was bored stiff.

I know many blame the video games for turning our kids into zombies with social disorders - and that may be true - but how are we to know they aren't also keeping them out of trouble? I need a study done on the levels of vandalism before and after games like Sony Playstation and Nintendo were introduced. Would we see a drastic decline?

It helps that the video games out now are pretty cool. My eldest needs to figure things out on this latest game or he can't get to the next level. Some of them are complicated, too. Make one person stand on one red square so it turns green, then slide a box over do it makes another green, which then opens a hidden door with disguises. When you get the disguise on, you head to the security checkpoint so you can pass through the gate. It's freakin' hard and takes me a while to figure out. I can only imagine what goes on in a 6 year old's head. Wait, no I don't. They go through mine all the time. Just sprinkled with dirty old man thoughts.

So are these games rotting or improving the impressionable, malleable brains of our nation's youth? Like any complicated issue or bad joke involving toilet training the answer is: Depends.

I certainly wouldn't let my 6 year old play Halo or Resident Evil. We limit how much he plays, but on rainy or cold days I would rather he be playing a non violent video game that challenges his problem solving skills then vegging in front of the television watching 'Fairly Oddparent' shows. Say what you want about the ratings on the games, but I find them highly useful. He doesn't play anything above E - 10 rated games. I let him try the Spiderman game (rated T for Teen), but it freaked him out a bit and it wasn't even that bad.

His favorites are Star Wars Lego, Need for Speed, and SpongeBob, where you have to follow set rules and compete in silly obstacle courses in order to move up. He has a blast with these things and I don't see any ill effects as far as his personality or mental capacity.

Would that be the same if I let him play for as long as he wanted to or play whatever game he wanted? Probably not, but I have no idea. Like anything, moderation is the key. Make sure you know what your kids are watching and playing and what their friends are like. Build up their confidence, put them in their place when necessary. Do that and everything will fall into place.

Our rules are simple for XBox

- No playing when it's nice out. That's when you spend the day outside. Exception is when it's 'cool off time' - when it's really hot and we want him out of the sun for a while.

- he can play for 30 minutes before bed time.

- he must stop playing as soon as we tell him it's time to stop. He lost it for a full week when he failed this test. Hasn't done it since or will ask that he finish what he's doing first.

- Only allowed to play approved games. He wanted to play Ghost Recon once and there was no way I was letting play as a guy who creeps around and shoots, stabs, and chokes other people. NO WAY! I can imagine him using those moves on me while I'm sleeping and he's finally had enough of dear old Dad.

- All homework must be completed before he even considers asking. Let me tell you, I've never seen a kid so anxious to do his homework before.

- Always ask first.

To his credit, he does great. He's so proud of himself when he figures something out and wants to tell me all about it. I never drop in right away in the hopes he'll figure it out himself. A majority of time I'll tell him I have to do something first (like open a beer) and I'll hear 'Nevermind! I figured it out!' before 5 minutes is up. That can only improve a kid's self esteem.

Besides, with a father like me we need to give this kid all the fantasy time he can get. Talk about needing an escape from reality!

Today's distraction: One of the things I used to play with as a kid. Well before Intellivision and Atari there was Lite-Brite! Rock on!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Spring Killing

One troublesome aspect of getting a new appliance or piece of furniture is moving the old piece out of the way and discovering you've been living in absolute filth. Dust, crumbs, lost toys all covering the floor under the old sofa or recliner. Doesn't matter how well you clean, there are just some places you can't get.

Example: I got a new receiver for our kick ass flat screen, but in order to hook things up I needed to pull out the TV stand to reach all the old cabling. Wifey and I flip up the rug, slide the stand forward and dust and shit come cascading down, creating a personal coughing and sneezing fit. It did look cool in the sunlight, though.

I get down on my knees to unhook the speakers and notice some black specks of dirt at the base of our heater. This is way behind everything and tucked away in the corner, so we NEVER dust or clean in this spot. Even if we wanted to, there would be no way to reach it. I lean in for a closer examination.

'Huh'. Wifey peers over the set and notices what I'm looking at. 'You've got to be kidding me', she says.

'Yup. We got mice'. I was nose to poop with mouse droppings. Good times! Now, my immediate reaction/hope was that these were old. We had mice before, as we discovered while watching a movie one night and witnessed two of them run across our kitchen floor, into the back hall, right past our stupid, useless dog (who barely moved while they ran by his snout), and down the pipe in the floor to the basement.

A few nights of traps and we seemed to be good. I offer my suggestion to wifey who says, 'maybe, I haven't heard anything in the walls and we usually see them at some point.' I know, she actually agreed with me! The world may have tilted on it's axis for a minute. I forget about them until two mornings later when I reach into the cabinet to get my son his Peanut Butter Crunch cereal, only to discover a huge hole chewed through the box.

That's it!! Not only do we have confirmation, but NOBODY FUCKS WITH THE CAP'N! This is so on!! After work I stop by Home Depot in Somerville, but they only have those crappy Tom & Jerry traps that never work for me. Instead I head to the Home Depot in Everett, which is approximately a 3 minute drive - 2 if you hit the lights right - from the Somerville one and pick up these beige traps that catch the mouse in it's jaw so you can dispose of rodent without actually touching it.

Since they have a thing for peanut butter, I swab some on, set and go to bed. Easy as pie, right?

Next morning I check the trap. It's been tripped, the peanut butter is gone, but no fucking mouse. Who am I dealing with, Speedy Gonzalez? Or maybe a mouse on steroids? Can hold open the trap, eat the peanut butter, then scamper away when he's done. Hey, maybe I can catch Mighty Mouse!!

Fuck it. I toss that trap and set another in the same spot. Next morning I got my first kill. Big mother, too, which means one of two things:

1: He's been making himself at home longer than we thought, which probably means there's an entire family around.

2: He's coming in from outside during the night to raid our cabinets.

Second seems more likely as we haven't heard anything scurrying around at night. When we had them before you could hear the pidder padder of rodent feet even when you couldn't see them. Plus, a quick check around the house revealed holes in the foundation just big enough for some dirty, little mouse to sneak in and out and steal my peanut butter cereal.

I set another trap each of the next two nights and get one more each time. So much for the 'not living in the house' theory. The other two are smaller, so they must have gone out looking for mom or pop mouse and found their way into my elaborate trap. I am master of all mice!! Fear me!!

Anyway, that seemed to be the last of them. I had a trap set out for about 4 days and caught nothing. Figured I would leave it out for another two nights just to be sure and refresh the peanut butter bait. Nothing.

One more night, I think, and leave it out. This is last night and wifey goes to bed early so I can watch the Sox win it in the ninth and watch Papelbon shut down the Rockies on 97 mph fastballs they couldn't touch. Awesome. (Quick sidenote: I would like to welcome Terry Francona to my list of loyal readers. Did you see the lineup Tuesday night? Did you?? I really need a consulting fee).

Where was I? Oh, the game ends, I watch a bit of Baseball Tonight which went WAY overboard with the Verlander no hitter (seriously - interviewing a newspaper beat reporter over the phone?), shut things down and am taking a leak when I hear some banging around. I yell at the dog to cut the shit, but realize he's laying down in the back hall. It's not him. I hear some more commotion and go hunting, but it stops and I can't find anything. What the fuck? I check the doors to make sure they're locked, look around again. Nothing.

Whatever. Go to sleep. Next morning I open the cabinets where the trap was set and it was like a rumble had taken place. Well, a tiny, cute rumble. Boxes were knocked over, pasta spilled out, and there right in the middle is another mouse in the trap. It must have been trapped, but not killed right away and was thrashing around trying to free itself. Poor bastard.

I heard somewhere, from someone, that for every mouse you actually see there are 5 more that you don't. This does not give me comfort. It does, however, give me a summer project. I'll keep everyone up to date on my kill count.

Current count: 4

New trap set Tuesday night.

Today's distraction: Play with some cuter rodents. It's Flight of the Hamsters. For some reason I think I posted this game before, but I couldn't find it in the past entries. Apologies for the rerun if I messed up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ad Hoc-A-Loogie

I am fascinated by the television advertisements I've seen lately. Morbidly fascinated in most cases as they tend to be atrocious. Here are some of the most memorable.

Verizon V-Cast: Cute girl is walking down the street and hears a song she likes piping over a store's speakers. She holds her phone up to it, the phone IDs the song and she's able to download it to her phone. My reaction: 'Now THAT is cool'. Bonus points for using a Modest Mouse song. I do have questions however: Does the song need to be in Verizon's music library in order to be identified? What about background noise like traffic or honking horns or people talking blocking the song? Will the phone know which music I like and recommend new releases to me? Will this feature be built into the new wireless iPod that is supposedly on it's way?

Sears Catalog: My current favorite. Couple buys a house and as they age it looks like they're turning pages on their walls. So the TV turns into a baby crib or they turn the page to reveal a new fridge or microwave. Simple, effective and visually entertaining.

Mr. Brooks: Let's see if I have this right. Kevin Costner playing a bad guy, Demi Moore looking more plastic than ever, Dane Cook trying to do some serious acting, and William Hurt over acting as an imaginary friend (or something). Plus, it looks like they give away the entire story in the preview. Sounds like a blockbuster.

Degree: This is a series of the most disgusting commercials I've ever seen. They have close ups of guys putting on gel deoderant and the after effects. One fat, hairy guy gets shit all over his newspaper after sticking it under his arm. Another shows fat and hairy guy using a blow dryer so the gel doesn't get all clumpy and nasty. Love that they give you a close up, too. Thanks, Degree. That's just what I want to see.

Vonage: Love the one with the girl on the beach who sees shark fins in the water and excitedly jumps up saying 'Look, Honey! Dolphins!' and goes running out to swim with them. Some things are just funny and ditzy blond bimbos getting torn apart in a shark feeding frenzy is high on that list.

Diet Pepsi: Not sure who they hired for their ad campaign, but fire them. One of the lamest I've seen in a while as it makes no sense, doesn't really show anything, isn't funny, and doesn't tie in at all with their product. I get aggravated every time I see one of these. On the other hand....

Pepsi: If it's the same crew that gives us this one, you might want to keep them. Guy watching baseball game freezes the action, just as Johnny Damon is sliding into home. He walks to get a Pepsi from the fridge and on the TV, still frozen, Damon has a conversation with Justin Morneau. There are two versions of this and I like the latest one better, where Damon offers that he should grow his hair long and beard back because people liked him better when he looked that way. Good stuff.

BP: Please tell me you've seen these animated, wordless ads for BP Gas Stations. Even my two year old likes watching these. Babies are driving around while flowers float through the air and they try to decide which gas station to stop at. Some are near ruins, some are angry and greedy looking, but then BP shows up all sunshine and smiles. Like the Sears ad it's simple and effective and once that song gets in your head it won't come out.

Propel Fitness Water: As suspicious as I am about water being a 'fitness' product (isn't it, by definition, good for you?), I like the ad with the huge robot thing running, then stuff gradually falling off only to reveal a guy running off the stress of his life. Not so fond of the one that has every celebrity (including Derek Jeter and John Stamos) known to mankind in it.

Orbitz: Girlfriend/wife/something is telling her boyfriend how much she'll miss him. They profess their undying love for each other as he's getting ready to get on a plane. Suddenly, this notification appears above his head stating his flight is delayed. 'I guess we have more time' he says. There is an awkward moment before the girl says 'I gotta get going' and he says 'Yeah, I'm gonna hit the duty free shop.' Must admit I laughed the first time I saw this, but now it's just annoying. Maybe because I see it all the time. Either way, let's get a new one out there. Thanks.

Cisco aka 'The Human Network': This one is pretty effective. It shows one guy taping his son doing a silly dance, he posts it on the internet, then it shows people all over the world watching it in different mediums; a handheld, a tv, a laptop, etc. What bothers me is that it taps into the celebrity craze we've all been sucked into. That anyone, anywhere can become famous if we act stupid or silly enough and have the balls to boast our antics on the internet. It would be funny, but the commercial is so straight forward it thinks this is what we all want. To be famous for something, anything. I feel a touch angry after watching this.

That said, I do like the one where the two kids have the staring contest over video conferencing. I think international disputes should be resolved this way. Can you see Bush staring down Osama Bin Laden? Bush blinks first and U.S. must leave Iraq. Bin Laden blinks first and he must turn himself in. I would tune in to watch that.

Dunkin' Donuts: Rachel Ray? 'Delish'? Four ice coffees? If there was one person in the ENTIRE spectrum of quasi-celebrities I thought DD should hire as, she would be near the bottom. Not quite as low as O.J., but probably not above Kirk Cameron. Does half of America even know who she is? The only reason I know is because my wife watches the Food Network 12 hours a day. Hard to believe it was only 3 years ago they were running those inspired Johnny Damon ads. Sad day in Dunkinville.

Wendy's: My one question is what the fuck was being passed around this ad meeting? A bunch of people are standing around kicking trees. One guy, who just happens to be wearing a red wig with pigtails (Wendy's hair? Just guessing) thinks, 'Why should I eat a burger from a frozen patty'. He says it out loud, then shouts 'I deserve a real burger!' or something. One of the most bizarre spots I have ever seen.

Today's distraction: Watch the best ads from this past January. I would particularly like to point out the winner as the beer I drink whenever I go out. Notice that in foreign commercials you can actually show the guy drinking the beer? Can't believe their civilization hasn't come to an end.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

21st Century Life

A few things to share today that defines the times in which we live. Hey, it ain't always pretty, but this is our time. This is our life. This...ah, you get the idea.

First, this past May 21st, twin girls were born less than an hour apart. The first, Lauren (one of the greatest names ever! Well, with one exception), was 7 lbs, 10 ounces and was delivered by C-Section. Father then had to run to the delivery room next door to watch daughter number 2, Hannah (7 lbs, 3 ounces), arrive. That's right, next door. Turns out both girls were delivered by two separate mothers.

The first was biological mother Amy Bernaba and the second was surrogate mother Torry Keay who had Bernaba's eggs implanted in her womb. Bernaba suffers from a troublesome immune system disorder that doctors thought would prevent her from becoming pregnant. So they took her eggs and implanted them into both women at the same time. Must have been their 'Two for Tuesday InVitro' special. Been hearing great things about that.

Anyway, the girls aren't identical twins, since they were born from separate eggs, but chances are they should be able to communicate telepathically and feel each other's pain. Good for them. Here's the complete, fun filled, wholesome story. I have questions about the father filming another woman giving birth to his daughter, but my bet is they'll never be answered properly.

Take a look at this site if you have a second.

Done? Good, let's consider the possibilities together. One phone number for all your phones. You sign up, you get assigned a number and it rings on all your phones at once. Immediately, I have major reservations about my wife picking up a call that was intended for my cell phone (as do plenty of other skeevy married men, I'm sure), but the idea is intriguing. Someone calls your home number and it rings at work. Someone calls work and it rings at home. Wait, I don't like that possibility.

What I do like are the totally awesome features this has. Including call blocking (and the person will never know), checking your voice mail over email (great idea!) and forcing people not in your address book identify themselves to the system before allowing the call through (BRILLIANT!). Plus it takes commonly known telemarketers and blocks them with an authentic sounding 'This Phone Number Has Been Disconnected' message. How great is that?

The best part? It's free!! At least until they officially release and go away from the 'beta' title. One issue would be telling your friends you have a new number. Yes, they give you a brand new one that ties into existing numbers. Second, I already sort of have something like this. It's called 'My Cell Phone'. Nobody I want to talk to calls me on my home phone anymore, they all call my cell. If I could get some of the above features on my cell, I really wouldn't see the point of this at all.

On the other hand, if you change your home or cell number you don't have to tell your friends. They just keep calling the one GrandCentral set up for you and change the number that one directs to. You can keep one number for the rest of your life. Note: as personal experience has shown, this isn't always a good thing. Sometimes changing numbers filters out the....shall we say...undesirables from your life. I guess you could use the fake disconnected message to solve that issue. Still, this is a great idea and hopefully this will spur the other phone companies to offer similar things.

Finally, you have to check out this clip. This is Microsoft's new Surface Video Touchscreen technology and could, quite possibly, be the coolest thing ever. Forget those crappy data tiles I linked to earlier (although I noticed there is some version of them included here), this is the way we're heading. I should note that the military is already using a version of this for satellite imagery and mapping (there's a demo about it near the end of the clip).

What I like is the way you can place objects on the screen and drag files to it. Tell me that isn't idiot proof. Ok, it isn't. Some numbskull will figure a way to fuck things up, I'm sure. But the idea is fantastic and, judging by the demo, it seems to be working much better than their voice recognition software.

Problem number one is the price - at least $5000 and as high as $20,000 for the one with air conditioning and sunroof - but, like all new technology, once they figure a way to mass produce it the prices will come down. Right, Plasma TVs? Right.

One other note, since I seem to be in the minority in my office. I thought the ending to 'The Sopranos' was great. No, nothing happened. Yes, watching the daughter parallel park her car was pushing it. But none of that was the point. The point was the way Tony and his family have to spend the rest of their lives. Constantly on the look out. Expecting something bad to happen. Suspicious of every person that looks sideways at them. On edge constantly.

That said, the rest of the episode was a waste of time. I knew we were in trouble when they focused a lot of attention on the son - one of the most annoying TV characters in recent memory. He should date Grey from 'Grey's Anatomy'! They'd be the perfect storm of whininess.

Today's distraction: Other new inventions trying to make it our way. Really like the liquid body armor idea, but I can't help but think James Cameron will want a cut. Disaster balloons sound interesting, but if terrorists can knock out our communications towers what's preventing them from chucking darts at our balloons? Exactly. Nothing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This Weekend In Baseball

Some thoughts from the weekend action.

- Was extremely impressed with the Diamonbacks this weekend. Not only their kick ass uniforms (love the 'db' logo on their sleeves), but their lineup is tough, too. They work the counts and seem like they're modeling themselves after the best AL teams.

- Randy Johnson looked steady yesterday. I bet the Yankees try to trade for him before the deadline. They could use a starter like him.

- I always liked Eric Byrnes, but he seems to finally be putting it together at the plate. Was kind of erratic with the A's, but he was a tough out all weekend and is hitting over .300. Color me impressed.

- Nice to see Roger Clemens put in an effective outing against a killer lineup. Glad he didn't waste a start on that lame Chicago White Sox lineup.

- Also nice to see the Yankee fans having something to cheer for. Only 9.5 back. Keep the faith. Long way to go.

- Speaking of the Yankees and Pirates, what the hell were they doing playing each other? I thought the AL East and the NL West were on the interleague schedule. Last I checked (this morning) the Pirates were in the NL Central. Some further digging revealed that not only do the Yankees play the Pirates at home, but they don't play them at Pittsburgh. What kind of scheduling glitch is this and why do the Pirates get screwed? Answers, anyone?

- There was some bad blood and some nasty attitudes during the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves series starting after Soriano hit 3 homers then was beaned in Saturday's game. It even resulted in something I had never seen before. Ted Lilly was the starting pitcher for the Cubs on Sunday. He hits Edgar Renteria in the first inning and gets thrown out! In the first inning!! Even more bizarre was the news that there were no warnings given to either team before the game. So Lilly gets tossed, new pitcher comes in and on his second pitch Rentertia steals second and smashes the second baseman in the face with a forearm. It was completely intentional as the slide was the ugliest thing I had ever seen and his arm was up and ahead of him. So Renteria gets tossed, too, right? Not only does he not get tossed, but nothing is even said to him. On the other hand, it makes for great baseball. I watched the rest to see which pitcher throws at old friend Edgar's head later in the game.

- Unsurprisingly for anyone who watched Edgar in Boston, he took himself out of the game soon after his forearm to the nose. Considering he's a shortstop and had a target on his back, I'm sure he was waiting for retaliation when he was turning a double play. Yeah, I know the Braves are claiming an injury, but I'll put money that it's one of those 'day to day' things.

- Speaking of day to day, it's time for Mr. Julio Lugo to develop some sort of 'injury'. Putrid doesn't even begin to describe his play lately. Just horrible. Time for him to take time off and let Pedroia and his astounding .400 + on base percentage take the lead for a while. Consider him and Youk batting 1 - 2 with Papi and Manny following. Good lord! Let Crisp stay ninth in the order and Cora take short for a while. How can it possibly be worse?

- While I'm against pitchers hitting (I mean, seriously, how lame is an nearly automatic out every nine spots?), I would keep it just to have the opportunity to watch Randy Johnson and Dice-K attempt to hit each other. I laughed out loud at the face Matsuzaka made after striking out. Kind of the way I would look if I were hitting against Johnson.

- Let's finish on a high note and the way Captain Varitek came through for us on Saturday when we needed him most. Just like the good old days. Also, welcome back JD Drew!! Nice of you to join the rest of the team. Here's a theory I have on Drew. Considering his kick ass start, I'm convinced he's been playing hurt for the last month. Nothing major, but definitely something that was effecting his swing. He knows he's been criticized for getting hurt a lot, so rather then incurring the wrath of this new team, decided to keep quiet about it and play through it. While I can respect that, if it starts effecting your team and your play, it's time to come clean and let Wily Mo play for a bit. Anyway, it appears he's feeling better.

Today's distraction: I'm in a beach frame of mind today (you know, just like every other day), so in celebration here are some amazing sand castles for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Therapy - Session One

'You know why you're here?'

I sigh. Loudly. Just how I want to start this off. 'We both know why I'm here. You've read the papers. Let's not start this off talking down to me.'

Therapist is a woman in her mid-40s, reddish brown hair showing the first signs of grey surrounding a sharp, angular face. Looks a bit like a hawk, I think. Maybe an eagle. I stop, trying to figure out if I just said that out loud. Have a hard time telling the difference lately.

She pauses, looks over her notepad at me for two beats. 'Fair enough', writing again. Wonder if she wrote a bad word describing me with three exclamation points next to it. Wouldn't be very professional. If she were professional she would just underline it.

Placing the notepad aside, she leans forward and puts her elbows on her knees; hands together. Looking at me intently, 'For the record, the standard doctor - patient confidentiality exists. Nothing you say in this office will be repeated by me without your consent.'

'Book deal'. Can't help the thought. Everyone is out for something.

I just nod, keeping the cynicism to myself.

'Of course, if I consider you a threat to the public or a crime has been committed, I'm obligated to report things to the proper authorities.'

I ponder the 'threat to the public' comment. After everything that's happened, is it a legitimate concern?

'Each session will last about a half hour, but a lot of that depends on you. Your HMO has already paid for 16 sessions. We may not use all of them. We may need more. We may expand the sessions to an hour if necessary. We'll figure that out as we go along.'

It amuses me how she uses 'we', like I have any say in the matter.

'I'll need you to fill these out before we move on,' handing me a few pieces of paper. I spend the next 15 minutes filling them out. Answering 'No' to a multitude of medical and psychological questions.

'Does heart disease run in your family?'
'Have you or any member of your family ever suffered from depression?'
'Do you have HIV? Do you have Hepatitis C? Do you have any prosthetic limbs?'
'Are you currently on any prescription medication?'

Pages of irrelevancy. Finished, I hand them back.

'You want to talk about that day?', she asks, picking up her yellow legal pad again. Not wasting any time.

'What's to say? Everyone knows all about it.'

'I want to hear what you have to say about it. Newspapers just get the facts right. Often not even that. They rarely get to the heart of the matter.'

This triggers a memory that suddenly makes me want to cry. 'I'm not ready.'

She gives a quick nod. 'Well want do you want to talk about? You married?'

'Just over 5 years now'



'Why not?'

'Why does it matter?'

'Don't know if it does or doesn't. That's why I'm asking. Things ok with the marriage?'

I give her a look. Not sure what she sees, but she recoils just a bit. Subtle, but I notice.

'You've been through a very traumatic ordeal,' she says. 'It's normal that some friction may occur with loved ones. Coping with this sort of thing can be stressful on any relationship. Some may lash out, others shut...'

'We're fine,' I interrupt. Too defensive.

She makes a quick note. 'Alright. How about sleep? You sleeping well?'

'Fine.' I haven't slept more than 3 hours a night in more than a month.

'Any bad dreams?'

What am I? Eight years old? 'I don't remember my dreams'. Honesty, at last. It strikes me that the rapid fire delivery of the questions is meant to disarm me. I don't have time to think of the answers, which will bring out the truth. I'm uncomfortable with it's efficiency.

'You never remember your dreams?'

'I remember one from when I was a kid. My brother was walking in the field behind our house and stepped in a mud puddle. But it wasn't a puddle, it was a huge hole and he just disappeared.'


'And nothing. I woke up, realized I was dreaming and he was fine. That was the last dream I can remember.'

She starts writing extensively in the notes. She's debating something with herself and the writing is a cover. I can tell because she's not looking at the pad, but past it. Through it.

She knows I'm going to be difficult and is getting her battle plan together. Better people have tried and failed, lady.

The writing stops and she puts the pad aside. Leans forward, elbows on knees again. Hands together. Her 'I'm your friend' pose. Practiced and perfect.

'You obviously don't want to talk about what happened.'

Wow, she's good.

'But I think you need to talk about want happened.'

A debatable point.

'How does this idea strike you? We can talk about anything you want for the weekly session. Anything at all. The weather, your day at work, people that annoy you, what you want to be doing in 5 years. Anything. But at the end of our session I get to ask you one question about that day. And you must answer me honestly.'

'How would you know I answer honestly?'

'I can usually tell. You lied to me about your sleep and I'm sure I'll be able to tell when you lie to me again.'

Got me there. 'When I lie to you? You a pessimist?'

'I prefer experienced. Everyone lies to me at some point about something. I just need to figure out which matter and which don't.'

'What if I don't want to answer a question you ask?'

'Your choice, but let's be clear. If you don't there is nothing I can do to help you.'

'Help me help you,' I read. The phrase is hanging on the wall above and behind her head in a basic, black frame. Positioned so perfectly it looks like a square thought bubble in a cartoon.

She looks over her shoulder at the embroidered sign hanging on the wall and softly laughs. 'My daughter made it for me in third grade

‘How old is she now?’

She gives me a skeptical look. ‘You said I could talk about anything I wanted,' I say.

‘If I answer, this means we have a deal?’

I consider, finally nod.

‘She just started high school. And since our time is nearly up, it's time for my question. You ready?'

'Ready as I'll ever be', I answer, wondering if she can tell I'm lying with that answer or that my stomach just turned sour.

'Did you witness any of the killings?'

This angers me immediately. She's no fool. She's read the papers and knows what I've done. The news got those facts right, at least.

She catches the build up and backtracks. Hands up, palms out as an apology; a mock surrender. 'Sorry, sorry, I meant before that. Before everything happened. Did you see any of what happened before....'

That even she can't say it dissipates my rage. The question is clear and I slowly shake my head. 'They would take them out of the room when it was time'.

'Did you hear anything?'

I take an obvious look at the clock.

‘Time’s up,’ getting to my feet. ‘And that was two questions.’