Wednesday, May 28, 2003


My children all come from the same genetic pool. I’m pretty sure of that—they all look like me, god help them, and there is absolutely no question about who their mother is. I saw ‘em all come out. Despite this, it is incredible how different Anna and PJ are becoming. I like to relate them to fictional characters. Blame it on me for watching too much television.

PJ is a ninja. If you ask him not to do something, he will look at you with the sweetest, most innocent face and say “okay, daddy.” Then, moments later, when you go to pick up the telephone or go to the toilet, when your guard is down for the smallest moment, he strikes. He runs to the kitchen table and grabs a chair, dragging it across the kitchen (this makes a fairly loud noise, so I wouldn’t say he is as silent as a ninja yet) and over to the cookie jar. He has a handful of cookies and is back in his chair by the time you look around. And if you ask him about it, he will look at you with that same sweet smile and lie, saying “No, I did not take dose cookies.” He carefully punches out each word carefully, and he seems so earnest that I really want to believe him. Maybe I ate the cookies? Ah, I’ll just put the chair back.

He won’t stay in his room either, when he goes to bed. But we can’t catch him. We will just here footsteps, and when I go up the stairs, the footsteps become more rapid and I hear the door slamming shut. When I peek in on him in his room he is lying in bed and making fake snoring noises. What can I do?

Anna, however, has none of this subtlety. Instead, she has a force of will that can be measured using the Richter scale. Recently, she found an old boat bag lying around and decided to fill it up with newspapers. Then, she reasoned, it was no fun to keep all of these old newspapers to herself, she wanted to distribute them to the entire neighborhood. “No, Anna,” I said, taking a deep breath. (Whenever I have any of these conversations I usually end up sighing a lot.) “The people in our neighborhood don’t want our old newspapers.”

“But daddy,” she said, her voice elevating towards a shrill wine, “I have to. It is my life”

Her life? Where did she get that from? Suddenly I had this image. I could picture her now in my head, on the bridge of the US Starship Enterprise, somehow morphed into a Klingon officer. “Captain, we must send these newspapers to the people of Kraal, or it will be a dishonor to myself and my family. If you cannot allow me to do this then I will have no choice but to resign from my commission here and retreat to my quarters where I will slowly and painfully kill myself with an Utusani blade, as is the custom of my people.”

My little daydream faded. Anna was still there and the siren was getting wound up. “Daaaaaahhhhhhhddyyy!” she was sniffling too, with those soap opera tears she gets. “I really really want to give people these newspapers.”

I didn’t have time to answer her though. PJ had gottten out some yogurt from the fridge and was proceeding to pour it down his shirt, and on the table, and on the floor, the dog, etc…

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

KEY RING – 5.27.2003

My key ring is shrinking. I am down to two keys – the house key and the subaru key. The ford Windstar is at the AAMCO in Sterling getting some very expensive transmission pieces fixed on it, so they have my key and we have been making due with the Subaru, which is a squeeze for the 5 of us to say the least.

I had 2 more keys, and a fob device when I worked for my previous employer. One key was for my office door, the fob was to get in the building. There was another key, but I couldn’t remember what it was for, and ended up throwing it out. I don't have a fob at the new job. Instead I have to pass a metal detector and two beefy guys with guns.

The key ring itself is bent up, from getting run over at the parking lot of the 7-11 just down the road from our house. Little piece of detective work involved in figuring that one out. My brother had visited during the weekend. He had just left, and I could not find my car keys anywhere. In looking, though, I found my wife’s cell phone, which had been left on top of the car, the Subaru. It had been there for some time. She had, in fact, been looking for her cell phone since Saturday morning, when I had left it (and my car keys) on top of the car. She remembered driving to the 7-11 to get milk for coffee. The phone had stayed on the car the whole time.

I went to the 7-11, and they had the keys hanging on a big rusty nail on a post behind the counter. Three of the keys were bent, the key ring was all mangled. It was humbling, to have some guy working at the 7-11 hand you this twisted mess of keys. While he was being very nice about it, you know, you just know, that he is snickering to himself and thinking "what a dumb ass!" I'm sure it makes for a good story to tell all the your 7-11 cronies about over coffee.

Another interesting thing about all this is that over the past six or seven years I have become something of an expert on leaving my phone on top of the car. One time, in Falls Church, I left the cordless on top of my car and drove off running errands all day, only to find it there the next day. That wasn’t the only time either. Evidently, if you don’t brake too hard or hit any really tight turns, phones have a way of just staying put. Either that or I am just plain lucky, but how can you every tell with these things?

So now I am down to two keys on a little piece of twisty metal. I forgot about the little card thing. I have a Food Lion MVP card, the small kind that attaches to your keys. It still works even though there aere some faintly detectable tire tracks on them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

THIS AND THAT 5-20-2003

Been a while since my last entry. Blame the new job on that. I am with great effort restraining myself from speaking about my former employer, whom I have left as of May 9th. Well, its not that hard. Lets just say I have never been as happy about taking a job with a 75 minute comute before in my life. There is a secret about that though. I'll get to that later. But first here is this.

This is when I was mowing my lawn yesterday, after what seemed like 10 days of rain. My grass was green and thick, which of itself, is the sort of thing that might make it into the local newspaper. "LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOLS GOING BANKRUPT, saee page six, but here on page one, PETE SHAW'S FRONT YARD NOT NASTY! (Many attribute this agrcultural miracle to the work of aliens.)" So I've got the old gener-0-mower out there struggling through the 12 inch high sea of grass and sounding like chitty chitty bang bang, and suddenly I see PJ running along side me.

I was on the side of the house over by Locust Knoll, and PJ was just inside the fence. I caught a flash of his bright orange shirt, strobing through the pickets as his his stubby little legs fought to keep up with me. His arms waved in little circles and his head was always lookign at the ground, but he kept up with me for a little while. It was cool.

Later that day we were in the hot tub. And Pj and Anna are in there with me. PJ comes over and looks at me, and says in a very serious voice. "Daddy, can I pee on you?" He was standing up on the bench seat, and naked you see, and I was sitting there next to him. I had to be careful. If I rose my voice too loud, it might startle him, and well, the flood gates would let loose. It all worked out all right though.

This is when I was taking Anna to her room for the third time yesterday. She never ate her lunch at school that day because she refused to wash her hands. Yes, I can just see the conversation. Stubborn little Anna just going hungry on the principle of the matter. Ok, maybe the "I don't want to wash my hands" isn't much of a principle, but still, her stubborness will serve her well in the future. That is of course, if the wolves that find her in the depths of the forest and raise her as their own, have more patience than us.

I do of course love all three of my children, and do not recommend the leaving to the wolves thing as anything other than a struggling effort at humor.

Oh, and I forgot about that. The secret. About the commute. Its on a bus. I can read on it. In peace and quiet. I can study. Sleep a little. No children, no job stress. Just the bus. Its a beautiful thing. But don't tell anyone. Shhhhhhhhh.