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PHOTO (permalink) 08.31.2007
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
august 2007

QUOTES (permalink) 08.30.2007
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

PERSONAL (permalink) 08.29.2007
it's good they waited until the us news rankings were released
there's a special chalkboard in my mind. what makes it special is in the upper right hand corner in neat print, neater than my own, are written the words SAVE THIS. there's a balloon-like bubble drawn around these words using the side of a piece of chalk, so the border is thicker than the print. the things noted on this full-size board i consider special in life and have hope, however meager, to one day achieve them. an example of one is 'bike coast to coast'. another is 'live it italy'. like i said, meager.

if you asked me about one of the special chalkboard items two years ago, i would have easily placed it ten years out. if you asked me about the same item one year ago, i would have put it five years out. if you asked me about it yesterday, i would have said it was less than twenty-four hours away. that line item is 'teach at a university'.

given this wasn't realistically on my radar a year ago, its development has been quite sudden. and since the moment it firmed up, i've been in a wake of emotion. my current mood is quiet confidence. i'm quiet, which is not entirely like me, because of the uncertainty of it all. i'm confident because of the months of obsessive planning i've done.

so that i may stay quiet and so that i may keep a tentative grip on this delicate confidence, i'm not going to go on further. if you're sitting around at 2:30 CST with nothing to do, send me some karmic love and good thoughts. only if you got some you're not doing anything with that is. now sit up straight. and eyes forward.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.28.2007
i know plenty of men who would appreciate such a cake.

as mentioned last week, anthony turned one. for each of her children on their birthday marty bakes and decorates a cake of their choosing for them. so far this year marty has produced spiderman and superman cakes for alex and bella respectively. for marty, these kitchen sessions usually run late into the night and if you listen very closely you may hear a naughty word or two ring through the dark and quiet house before the work is done. but this celebration, anthony's one year, would possibly be a swear-free event because being just one he couldn't request some exotic and complex animated character. additionally, our thirteen year old niece, emma, was spending the week with us so marta actually had kitchen staff.

when i arrived home from work the day before the party there was a pan cake cooling on the counter. it wasn't one of marty's typical molds. this cake was made of two simple round cakes. a larger one for the base and a smaller one, about half the size in diameter, for the top.

what is that?

it's anthony's birthday cake.

why'd you make him a giant nipple?

it's not a nipple.

then what is it?

just ignore him emma. that's what everyone else around here does.

this is not a criticism. i think a gigantic nipple for a nursing one-year old is quite thoughtful.

by the time the cake was presented the next night, the nipple-part of the nipple-cake had been lopped off and was being fobbed off as a second, sister cake. it was a worthy attempt, but insiders knew.



for all their efforts of deception, anthony still seemed keenly attuned to what was what.


and then there is the ritual i most dislike where the birthday child is allowed to eat their personal cake using nothing but their hands.


... and then even worse, feed their party guests, with those same sticky and soiled hands.


lastly, we finish the one-year birthday with a big-ole group shower. this detail usually gets left off the party invites because hallmark seems to be too fancy and proper to produce the one-year-old birthday slash group bathing party cards. hallmark, get over yourself already. it's 2007, the year of the nipple-cake.

KIDS, WIFE (permalink) 08.24.2007
a father's last stand is breached. it will never be the same again.
walking towards my office i hear a hushed voice say desperately, "he's coming! he's coming!!! Hurry!!!!" as i round the corner i see alex standing on top of the futon back with his hand deep into the front pocket of my computer bag and the neighbor boy, the one urging him to be quick, standing below him. both boys look to me, eyes wide and cheeks packed. earlier in the week alex saw me put a jumbo pack of juicy fruit in my bag. by visual estimation, i'd wager each child already had between four and six sticks of partially masticated gum crammed in their stretched mouths. this next stick would have surely been the difference between the 'fully struggling' and 'completely drooling' stages on the gum-chewing-effort scale. i shooed them away telling them it was rude to dig through other people's stuff and to stay out of my office. they ran off tittering like embarrassed school girls.

as i type this note to myself i can hear them on the other side of the wall already conspiring for their next run at my stash of gum. on the good side, i guess i should be thankful they weren't stealing peeks at marty's porn collection.






SOCIETY (permalink) 08.23.2007
i'm gettin' mine
my family recently visited with some friends of ours. at the outing, the parents of one of our friends were in attendance. when we left and were saying our goodbyes marty leaned in to hug the father of her girlfriend. when she tried to offer the man her cheek he just shot in and kissed her full on the mouth.

i've added this to my currently short list of good things about getting old; kissing younger women i don't really know on the mouth.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.22.2007
pout for me daddy.
i'm leaning in the corner of my morning shower and am extra foggy because of a long night with a sick anthony. i notice someone enter the room which in a single bathroom home is not all that uncommon. moments later a young falsetto voice behind me says, "hey dad, say cheese so i can take your picture." this part would not be so common.

i did say cheese. i did not smile. then i offered a little lecture about how taking pictures of naked people when they shower is considered, by some in society, to be an inconsiderate and rude gesture. they left and i figured i would throw the disposable camera away, never having it developed. later that day, my thirteen-year old niece who was staying the week with us came to me and said, "uncle troy. have you seen my camera? it's one of those green disposables."


QUOTES, KIDS (permalink) 08.21.2007
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
flavored and scented

KIDS (permalink) 08.17.2007
365 days in, or rather out.

anthony turns one today. this makes it just about four days shy one year ago that marty and i walked into our home, labored to put three children to bed and collapsed glassy-eyed in our own room numbly staring at one another. one of us said, "what have we done?", the other didn't answer. over the years marty has told countless new mothers "it gets easier, don't worry."over the same period, i have told countless new fathers "it's temporary, totally temporary". we both slept that night with these missives playing, on repeat, in our heads.

and here we are already, with another one year old. what can i say about him? most notably, it's remarkable how completely different three biologically-connected humans can be. you'll get occasional glimpses that they belong together but much of the time it feels like i just run around yelling "where did you come from?" or "hey! you! are you supposed to be here?" in the end, you could slice many of these anthony-related moments into the following buckets:

the obvious things
the anthony scoot dazzles and tickles onlookers without fail. you ever hear the phrase 'money in the bank'? well setting anthony down in a public forum is just that, money in the bank. one unknown detail about his mode of transportation: the outside of his diaper is typically way dirtier than the inside, especially when what's on the inside starts finding its way to the outside, an unfortunate phenomenon that has recently come to pass.

the unexpected things
anthony is our first white child. while this was unexpected, it nicely rounds out our set. we now have one dark, one light and one white. i have friends who have joked about the uncertainty of my race saying that one day marty and i would have a child and the delivering doctor would catch a fully black infant in his hands, subtlety look at the nurse and say "we may be about to have a problem here." they would then hold the baby up so i could see and i would arms-open yell "heeeeyyy! my son, ohhh he's so beautiful." to which the doctors and nurses would retire to the corner of the room and whisper among themselves trying to figure out how i did not notice this child was black and i was not.

the inevitable things
when bella was little, if her pacifier touched anything other than her open mouth it went straight into the washer. with anthony, i've picked a paci up off the ground, saw something on it, brushed it off on my pants, looked again and still saw it, shrugged my shoulders and popped it into his waiting mouth. if we have a fourth kid i reckon we'll not even bother with store-bought soothers but instead just stick clods of dirt and other random small objects into the kid's mouth.

the problematic things
i'm an only child so watching two siblings interact has been quite academic. when things are good, it's spectacular. when things are bad, it's terrorizing. dumping a third child into this already heady equation complicates the math to collegiate levels. anthony often serves as a pawn to exacerbate, calm, excuse and manipulate situations between his older siblings. obviously the lion-share of his participation is not of his choosing and consequently causes him angst. it is not uncommon to hear a parent yell "bella/alex put him down. he's not a doll! he's a person who gets to decide where he wants to go ... now give him here, i need to change his diaper." it's also not uncommon for a parent to yell stuff like "stop standing on your brother, you're going to make him puke!" only to have them say "but, he likes it" and when you go to investigate, the little nut is laughing maniacally under the weight of his sibling to which you don't have much to say other than "well, just don't do it too long."

the satisfying things
not only does anthony not look like anyone else in the family, his demeanor is also quite unique. with bella, she looked like me and acted like her mother. with alex, he looked like a walter but acted like me. with anthony, well, he doesn't really look or act like anyone already living here. when left to his own, he's perpetually happy. lots of smiles. lots of giggles. our house was already jovial-rich but now we got a one foot high billboard scooting all about wearing a slobbery, indelible grin. it's warming. it also tempers a home otherwise rife with an ever-changing and frenetic energy.

happy birthday sir anthony. thanks for being something we totally didn't expect.

TRAVEL, HYGIENE, KIDS (permalink) 08.16.2007
i was having the weirdest dream

what follows are the first four things i heard coming out of my first night's sleep after my weekend away:
  1. oh anthony! you wiped poop on your dad.
  2. troy don't move. there's poop on your back.
  3. hold still or you're going to get it everywhere.
  4. oh crap anthony! you got it on the sheets too!
am i the only one to find it mildly interesting that marty expresses more dismay by discovering feces on her linens than on her husband. i mean she has at least two sets of sheets. sheesh.

if there is a good part to this story it is i wasn't actually awake through this and the commentary was only hazily registering with me. it wasn't until marty brought it up later that night that i turned to her asking, "you mean that really happened. shit." quite succinct on multiple levels.

TRAVEL, FRIENDS (permalink) 08.15.2007
you can skip the couch, this will be quick.
driving a non-air-conditioned sixteen-year old bmw by yourself, cross-country in august heat, windows down, sunroof open, shirt off, music distortedly loud, and shoeless on a day you'd typically be in the office is the closest glimpse of the fountain of youth i've ever spied. this was my day yesterday and it was exquisite. very, very exquisite.

it was two years ago to the weekend that i last made this pilgrimage south to visit my two best friends. this makes it also two years ago to the weekend that my colleague and friend, joe, died suddenly during a routine mountain-biking outing. joe floats in and out of my thoughts with whimsical unpredictability and did so with heightened frequency yesterday. sample: one day joe asked me to do lunch. when we sat down at a mediterranean eatery he expressed dissatisfaction with his work situation. actually, it was the very first thing he said which made the first thing i said this ...

you're a whore joe. a slut. a simple and replaceable piece of meat. every day you come to work there's a hundred dollar bill sitting on the corner of your desk and every day you sit down you're putting that hundred dollars in your pocket and the moment your ass hits that cushion you belong to them. what do you expect them to do? send you some frilly and giggly coed? ain't how it works. they're going to send you the most vile and abject human you can imagine and that person is going to walk up, climb on and do some really nasty and unforgettable things to you. when they're done, they're going to get up and they're going to walk away without as much as a word. as long as you keep picking up that money joe this is your life. accept it or stop picking up the f'ing money. now can we eat? being a whore makes a man hungry.

through my monologue, joe wordlessly stared at me like a university student taking in an advanced physics problem. when i finished he burst out laughing. after calming down he shook his still smiling head thoughtfully, picked up the menu in front of him and said, 'yes, we can eat'. he seemed better through the rest of lunch and work matters didn't come up again. after that initial session joe would appear at my desk once or twice a year saying "i need a pep talk' (what we came to call my dissertation) or sometimes it would be 'i really need a pep talk today troy' to which i'd say "you driving?".

i may not be the most conventional life coach out there, but unlike some, i don't get paid by the hour. things are what they are. if you like them, fight to keep them. if you hate them, fight to change them. life isn't forever, feel free to be picky.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.14.2007
why i drive
i'm holidaying in north carolina this weekend. this is my third cross-country trip of the year and it has been as issue-filled as my previous two outings. because of this consistency, i will not be crossing the saint louis city limit again until year 2008. for sure the only smile to cross my face during this ill-fated twelve-hour drive to NC came when i pulled up behind this car from texas at a construction slow down.


KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 08.10.2007
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
try again

KIDS (permalink) 08.09.2007
on saturdays i try to take bella and alex out on adventures. this is my attempt to reward marty at the end of her week. mainly it allows her to run something other than a zone-defense in her home, if even for a few hours. on the most recent outing bella and alex were in a bit of a competitive place. let me try to give you a sense of what two antagonistic sub-seven year olds sound like over a four-hour period:

37 x I won
38 x no, I won
10 x everything is not a race alex
8 x i'm not racing della
6 x how about you're the second winner alex
5 x dad, della is touching my shoe
4 x dad, alex is making faces at me
1 x dad, i have to go pee ... and poop
1 x me too.

and this is what the father of two sporting kids sounds like over the same four-hour window:

16 x bella, stop teasing your brother
15 x alex, stop provoking your sister
10 x do you two want to go home?
3 x i need everyone to be silent and still for five minutes
3 x the toilet paper goes in the bowl, not on the ground
2 x leave it on the floor, don't touch it!
2 x ahhh! i said don't touch it!
1 x i'm done. they're all yours. i'll be in the shower...

KIDS, HYGIENE (permalink) 08.08.2007
it's a good argument for male bikini region grooming as well
the first compelling argument i've heard against sleeping naked:

there is a man. he is sleeping naked. his three year old daughter, having stirred from her slumber, foggily walks into his room in the middle of the night. she moves to his side of the bed. to hoist herself up, she reaches up grabbing a fistful of sheet in one hand and a fistful of her father's pubic hair in the other. she pulls mightily.

most anti-nude arguments deal with the scaring or scarring of children. they lack merit. a handful, even a three year old handful, of short-hairs viciously ripped from their root is merit, big ole wail-in-the-night merit.

editorial clarification: this man was not me.

KIDS, TELEVISION (permalink) 08.07.2007
tivo ain't so impressive without a remote
we are on our third tivo remote. the first one just wore out. bella broke the second one. and the current one began flaking out after two weeks of use. as it is, if the new remote sits idle for more than five minutes you have to take the batteries out and put them back in before any of the buttons will work. this is slightly aided by the fact that the battery compartment door went missing in the first week thus granting easier and quicker access to this routine.

miffed at how soon the replacement had been compromised and in a fit of 'why won't this damn thing stop fast forwarding' furor, i chastised the children telling them i wasn't buying another remote and if this one broke we were done and would live without tv. three days later bella in a wordless rage because the remote wasn't working ricocheted it off the corner of a coffee table. all the rubbery push buttons mysteriously disappeared somewhere inside the plastic case leaving hollow holes where they had been.

with football season around the corner and wanting to stay true to my word, two nights after the fall of the remote i disassembled the device on my desk and painstakingly put it back together. when done, i popped the batteries in and tried it. it worked. it worked better than before because bella's outburst seemed to have fixed the battery issue as well. small gifts.

for the next few days the rest of the family secretly used the remote when bella wasn't around, wanting her to think the days of television were in fact over. but alex got caught when bella came in from outside to use the restroom. later that same day bella approached me:

can i watch my show since i didn't really break the remote and it is working?

well bella, you did in fact break the remote and it is only working because your father is a great, great man.

so ... does that mean i can watch now?

do you think you should be able to watch now?

well, i haven't watched for three days and that's kind of a long time.

well, since when we thought you did break the remote you wouldn't be watching for infinity days, three days isn't so much.

BELLA (sadly)
yeah ... i guess so.

and for the sake of easier math let's say infinity days equals 1,000 days of which you are three days in. now what do you think is fair?

BELLA (contemplatively with finger on chin)
uhhm ... three weeks.


since i was expecting her to say four days, i was pleased with her self-imposed twenty-one. and, if you're ever at our house and want to watch tv, the remote is stashed in marty's underwear drawer. we originally hid it in my desk but bella woke me up one morning with it in her hand asking if her days were over yet so we had to relocate it while she slept.

and, in fairness i must add in regard to how our kids treat electronics i got some insight from alex after he and i sat down to watch a show. when i turned the tv on, a horrible screeching sound came out of the speakers. without a moment of thought alex got up from the couch, walked to the tv and struck it hard on the side with his little fist. in a snit i asked him what he thought he was doing. walking back to the couch he simply said, "that's what mom does" and sat down next to me. to his and his mother's credit, the shrill screeching did stop.

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