Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Go Texas!

Oh, and I almost forgot, since Texas won game two of the series and is now one game away from the National Championship:

Dust Brothers? Chemical Brothers? No, Biscuit Brothers

Are the Biscuit Brothers televised nationally, or just locally? I know they're filmed locally at Pioneer Farms. Hey, let's go ask Wikipedia!

Oh, apparently they air on some texas PBS stations, but not nationwide. Too bad; it's a good show that Thumper likes to watch on Saturday mornings. So when I heard they were playing Symphony Square at 9:30 in the morning for $0.50 per kid, I thought we couldn't pass it up. Symphony Square is the home of Austin Symphony Orchestra. It's a small venue with tiered outdoor seating on one side of Waller Creek and the stage on the other.

Then I heard from a few people that you had to be "brave" to go to this event, that it's "crazy" and you have to get there "wicked early," and that it's "not a good event for toddlers."

Well, phooey on them, I say! That's right; I said phooey! It was a lot of fun. We got there about 9 o'clock, and there was plenty of seating. We parked at a meter about a block away. There were balloons and bubbles, clowns and musicians roaming through the crowd while we waited for the show to start. I also heard that there was a "petting zoo" of musical instruments that kids could touch and explore, face painting, and crafts, but we didn't make it to any of that. We just sat and snacked and people-watched.

Thumper had a great time. We watched the band set up the stage, and he waved and yelled "Hi!" at them. They must not have heard him. I wouldn't say he was exactly scared of the clowns,
Not Scared

more like he was a little baffled.
Just Baffled

When the show started, he was also a little taken aback by the volume, I think.

He doesn't know their music quite as well as he does Justin Roberts', but he did recognize them when they came out. He waved and yelled, "Hi, Biscuit Brothers!" They must not have heard him, though.
The Stage Across the Creek

It was a fun and energetic show, with lots of audience participation, and by the end, Thumper was clapping and stomping along with everyone else.
The Brothers

Though we were both drenched in sweat by the end (yes, at 10:30 in the morning; this is Austin in the summer after all), we both had a great time. Maybe we'll check out Joe McDermott July 8! We're just that crazy and brave!

Years from now, when Thumper is trying to impress the ladies by telling them that his first concert was some hardcore and edgy act named Caustic Bullet or some such, I'll say, "Well, actually, it was the Biscuit Brothers, son. Remember? I've got those pictures around here somewhere..." And he'll roll his eyes and do his best to pretend I'm not talking. It'll be great.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In My Life

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

I've been thinking about high school lately, and I'm vaguely disturbed that I just don't really remember it. Part of the signup process for Facebook is putting in your high school and your graduating year. Then it gives you a long list of people from your graduating class who've already signed up so you can "friend" them. I scrolled through pages and pages of that list and only recognized two names. And I only vaguely recall the person attached to just one of those names.

Of course, Aerie joined Facebook, too, and went through the same process. Her list perusal was punctuated with frequent, "Oh, wow"s and "I know him!"s. Now she gets a dozen emails a day notifying her of Facebook messages from the friends she had in high school and college. Good thing it's not a competition, because she's way more popular than I am.

I just don't remember it. I don't have a high school year book to flip through. I didn't go to my graduation. I don't remember teacher names. Even my creative writing teacher, who actually meant something to me at the time, I can only really remember her name, and only that because I was reminded of it by that one Facebook friend.

So anyway, I was wondering if that's normal. Do most people remember high school? I mean, I know that repetition improves the transfer from short-term memory to long-term memory. We remember the things that we come back to in our thoughts again and again. And I've thought about those days and those people, with a few exceptions, almost not at all in nearly twenty years. Then a couple of weeks ago, I worked a marathon session of high school graduations. I worked several different positions over the two days, so I got to see things from multiple directions. At the doors, I watched the families, the parents and grandparents, come in. On the floor, I watched the students and faculty.

I never really regretted skipping my graduation, and I still don't. At least one speechmaker at every ceremony describes this class as unique and the best the school has ever seen. Every valedictorian touches on the same elements of ending and especially beginning, of responsibility to the future. Some with more humor; some with more pathos. The bands and choirs all performed with pomp, and with circumstance, and with much dignity. By far, the best arrangement I heard was an a cappella version of the Beatles' "In My Life." I almost welled up for a minute there.

I watched the faces of the graduates as they queued up right in front of me, waiting their chance to cross the stage. I looked for something in those faces; a sign that they were no longer children, perhaps, or that they felt the weight of the occasion and the new maturity and responsibility it heralded. I didn't really see anything there. Some were nervous. Some excited. Some thoughtful. Some bored. Faculty and administrators worked the lines, checking in on the particularly nervous-looking, perhaps to nip any vomiting or fainting incidents in the bud. They shook hands with some students as they passed; they hugged and laughed and reminisced with others. And others got only a polite smile. I thought that would have been me, the one who got only a polite smile.

Strangest of all, though, was the uniform handling of "special needs" students. In every school that I saw, they were segregated. For one school, they were seated separately, off to the side, with a cadre of faculty handlers flanking them, while the rest of the population sat en masse in the center of the floor. For another school, they were seated among the other students, but still segregated, grouped together and again flanked by faculty like bodyguards. In each case, they were carefully inserted into the alphabetical listing when their turn to cross the stage came, but after they were photographed on the far side, they were removed from the alphabetical listing and returned to their corrals.

One of the faculty serving as a special needs bodyguard caught my eye. He was young, white, conspicuously sunburned in the face, and sporting corn rows. For some reason. He struck me as trying to be more like one of the students than one of the teachers, and I wondered what subject he taught and how many of his students he's slept with. Then I felt ashamed of myself and wondered if that was a recurring burden for him in his professional life, having to deal with that same prejudice from parents, administrators, and colleagues. I thought of the guy in my dad's group whose children were approached by a mom on the playground and interrogated about whether that man was their father or not. I should've had more male solidarity with that teacher. But in the end, he still seemed kind of creepy.

And there was singing of school songs and playing of sentimental photo montages over touching music and much talk in the speeches of school pride and remembering these days for the rest of their lives. I thought of the University commencements that had taken place the week before, and how high school spirit and songs and traditions will for many of these kids be quite soon replaced with those of their colleges, and new friends made and new connections forged. But what occurred to me in a way that never had before was that the day was more for the parents than for the students. They jockeyed for seats, sometimes even devolving into pushing and shouting matches. They crowded the aisles for pictures. Their arms were loaded with balloons and flowers.

So while it wasn't an event that was important to me, my graduation may have meant something to my parents. If it did, then I stole that experience from them. I'm sorry, Mom and Dad.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'd Write More If I Had Time

Two Firsts this week: Thumper got both feet off the ground when jumping at the splashpad. Twice! Usually he thinks he's jumping really high but never actually leaves the earth. Also, he didn't cry when I dropped him off at child care at the gym this morning. Maybe we're moving towards not hating the place!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Daddy's Working

Aerie tells me that, over the 25 hours I worked ushering high school graduation ceremonies (8 of them) this weekend, she had this exchange with Thumper more times than she could count:


"Daddy's working."

"What's he doing?"

"He's working."

Yes, I was working. And my feet hurt, though maybe not quite as much since I was Gellin' like Magellan and all. That's a lot of graduations. That and Facebook have me thinking about high school a lot.

Oh, wait! I was going to tell you my EMS story first. Or my first EMS story. Or something.

Saturday, I worked a door most of the day, checking bags, handing out programs, directing people to restrooms and to the door from which the graduates would exit after the ceremonies. Two ladies, as they were leaving after the fourth of five ceremonies that day, approached me, and one of them said, "I don't know if we should mention this or not..."

They told me there was a woman sitting near them who was unconscious through the entire ceremony. They had tried to wake her, but she wouldn't respond. They shook her. Apparently they tried to offer her gum. Perhaps they thought a good chew would restore her, I don't know. So I found out where their seats were located, thanked them, and they went on their merry way.

The battery on my radio was dead, so I ran down to the next door to try their radio. It was also dead. I went to the next door. What can I say, it had been a long day, and those things only hold a charge for so long. But the radio at that second door was working! Hurrah! I radioed for the arena seating supervisor to meet me there, then ran to the seat location the patrons had specified. Lo and behold, there she was, dead to the world.

Actually, it never occurred to me that she might be dead. I didn't try to find a pulse, or listen for her breathing. She just looked asleep, so I tried to wake her up. I repeated, "Ma'am, can you wake up? I need you to wake up," while I shook her arm and slapped the back of her hand. Her head moved half an inch to the left, but she didn't wake up. The seating supervisor had arrived, so I quickly filled him in and told him to call for EMS. Then I returned to my door, which I had left unsupervised when I started this adventure.

And that was it. I returned to my door. Later, I saw the arena seating supervisor, and he told me that EMS came, and they tried to wake her, too. They pushed her head back. They rolled her eyelids open. She was still out. Then suddenly she woke up. She said she was exhausted because she had driven many hours. EMS didn't transport her to the hospital, even.

So, there you go. That's my EMS story. Not quite as exciting a tale as that told by the ushers who were witness to the fight in the bathroom at a boxing event a couple of years ago, in which a bone was broken and police pepper spray was deployed, but still. I started this post thinking I was going to talk about high school, and offer some observations from the two graduations in which I was on the arena floor amongst the graduates, but now it's too late, and I'm too tired, and the boy will up too early. Another time, then.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Blahsy Blahsy Blue

That's my college roommate's phrase for "blah blah blah." As in, "So we were talking, and blahsy blahsy blue, one thing led to another..." Others of his were, "all that and a bag of chips," and "I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers."

What was I talking about again? Oh yeah. Nothing much. Just this that and the other. You know, blahsy blahsy blue.

1. I hate when I get that phlebotomist. You know the one who sticks the needle in, and nothing happens, so he "makes an adjustment," and still nothing happens, so he makes another adjustment, and you're really starting to wonder why in the hell you give blood in the first place, and then he calls over the other phlebotomist to "take a look," and she gets it going on the first try? Yeah, that one. I hate it when I get that guy.

2. @gmoyle, it's not really my story to tell, I guess, but I suppose I could just mention that my sister, @badkitty812, drove from Florida, and she brought along her "friend" to "help with the driving," and gave us the impression that her friend knew people in the area and was doing her own thing, but mentioned at the family gathering that her friend was really just waiting for her in the hotel room, so we said, "What? You left her in the hotel room?" So she came out to breakfast with all of us the next morning, and some of us wondered, "So are they...?" And yes, it turns out, when they returned to Florida, @badkitty812 tells us that they're a couple, but she didn't want to come out to us because she didn't know how we'd react, and we didn't care, we were just glad she was happy, and so now I have a sister-in-law-if-the-law-were-just. Her name is @Pirate71, and apparently she's not small, she's fun-sized. And she encourages popsicles, squirt guns, and the playing of catch.

3. It is a story as old as... well, as old as someone born in 1992. Wow. Can you believe that someone born in 1992 would be 17 years old now? Wow. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah. It's a story as old as time: a child who loves Barney, much to the horror and disgust of his parents. One of Aerie's co-workers gave us a bag full of books, one of which is a Barney title in which a little boy named Alex prepares for the arrival of his new baby sister, with Barney's loving support, encouragement, and guidance. There's only one illustration in the whole book where not every single character is grinning a face-splitting grin, and that's when Alex has his one moment of weakness after Mom's too busy putting the baby to bed to play with him and he has to be quiet to keep from waking the baby, and he admits to Barney that maybe being a big brother is not the big steaming pile of fun he thought it would be, and Barney tells him to just wait, it's going to be super-dee-duper! I now have to read this horrifying piece of crap to Thumper every naptime and bedtime. It's drawn as poorly as it's written, but I try to read it with enthusiasm and never let on to the boy how much I despise it. If he knew, he'd make me read it twice as much.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Family Baseball

It's been almost two years since we all got together at our house. There were two nieces and a sister-in-law missing this time, but there was also a Thumper and a new sister-in-law-if-the-law-was-just. Actually, come to think of it, she was there last time, too, but we only kind of suspected then that she was family. Now we're sure.

Anyway, it was a great time. Thumper loved the early evening game of catch with his uncles, cousins, aunties, grandparents, and parents. He particularly loved that it was in the middle of the street, and he didn't even have to hold my hand! OK, it was in the middle of a barricaded, stubbed-out, dead-end, no traffic street, but still.

Thanks for coming, everybody! Maybe next time we need to make a road trip to Florida so the boy can learn the joys of running free on a beach instead.
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