Archives for January 2010

Midweek Monstrosity- Recent Posts

A quick round up of recent posts:

Adventures in Driving- Children’s Edition
More than Heaven Will Allow
These Pictures of You
The Northridge Earthquake- I forgot
Is Hell Endothermic or Exothermic?
Happy Birthday Dr. King-
Stuff I think About…Sometimes
Haveil Havalim-The Year of Jack Edition

Adventures in Driving: Children’s Edition

A thousand years ago when I was but a wee lad my father told me that he wouldn’t let me play high school football because I was young, dumb and stupid. Although I used all of the prodigious debating skills a 15-year-old could muster, I was unable to change his mind.

Furious with his heavy-handed manner I took my bike out and rode like a mad man around the neighborhood and through the city. More than one driver honked at me and received a sharply worded reply that consisted of four letter words and a gesture. It was the beginning of my adventures in driving.

1967 Chevy Camaro, Joe Ross

1967 Chevy Camaro, Joe Ross

Now I could recite many tales of valor and bravery that I earned while driving as well as a few that should be classified as utter stupidity. Such are the stories of the men that survive the young and dumb years when we curse and scream at others. It is one of the blessings the dear lord grants us- extra testosterone with a heaping dose of bravado.

But this is not the time nor place to regale you with such stories. I’d make my male readers green with envy and cause the females to swoon with lust. No, I’ll save those stories for a later date. For now I wish to speak of what has happened to me since I became a father. The days of cursing and creative lane changes are long gone- most of the time.

Age has brought more patience and a dose of wisdom. I don’t want any more aggravations in my life. I have too many responsibilities and too much to do. Consequently I am a more cautious and patient driver than I used to be.

Not to mention that I am very aware of the presence of my children. Whenever they are in the car I make an extra effort to be good. Better to be a good role model, or at least try. Sometimes we are less successful in that area than I’d like.

Such as the time my three year old son asked me what “fuck” meant.  I told him that I said “truck” and he told me not to lie to him. In one fell swoop he fed my own line right back to me and caught me in a fib. Damn if I didn’t think he had been asleep, not to mention that I really had been cut off by a truck.

Six years later the dear lad has a much better understanding of how to use these words appropriately. For example a car ran a stop sign and we were forced to slam on the brakes. He asked me if it was ok to call the other driver a “stupid asshole.”

I looked in the rear view mirror and found him staring back at me. The smile I had expected wasn’t there. Instead I was greeted by a quizzical look. So I told him that while it was probably an accurate description it wasn’t something that we should say.

In return he told me it was ok because it was only the two of us in the car. During the next few minutes he grilled me on what words and expressions we could use. I have to admit that it too some restraint not to share some of the more colorful terms as I know that he would have been positively giddy to share that with me.

But he is only 9 and it is a bit early for him to start swearing like that. I told him that I want him to have command of the language before he used words like that. Of course moments later he told me about an “intangible wall.”

It floored me to hear him use “intangible”. Now I am biased, but that little man has a better vocabulary than many of the adults I know.

Anyway we went back and forth for a bit about language and what is appropriate. I kept trying to come up with a “Father Know’s Best” line. Kept searching for that piece of fatherly wisdom that I could share, something that would make me seem wise and all knowing.

Instead I opted for the parental default of, “because I said so.” It didn’t have provide the satisfaction that I was looking for, but it did a good job of explaining why I called a driver in the parking lot at Trader Joes, a “stupid asshole.”

I love that store, but I hate their parking lots. I think that they intentionally build a lot that isn’t big enough for all of their customers, but that my friends is a different post altogether.

More than Heaven Will Allow

“It ought to be easy ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above
if you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love.”
Tunnel of Love- Bruce Springsteen

“Time in New England
Took me away
To long rocky beaches
–and you, by the bay
We started a story
Whose end must now wait

And, tell me
When will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again?”
Weekend in New England- Barry Manilow

“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion –
I have shudder’d at it.
I shudder no more.
I could be martyr’d for my religion
Love is my religion
And I could die for that.
I could die for you.”
~ by John Keats ~

The problem with opening that box of memories is that once I do I am compelled to relive it. I stand on the riverbanks and stare at a sky full of images. It is a tapestry of hope and fear and loss and love. The pictures go scrolling by and I do my best to absorb every detail. I look for answers to questions I dare not ask aloud and I wonder.

Thus is the life of a dreamer whose feet are still rooted upon the ground. My flights of fancy are not simple in nature. Oh sure, I have them. Simple desires that help to make me smile are mixed in among the lot. One does not preclude the other. The dreams I have are often no different than that of mythology.

Do you remember when I told you that I would be your Orpheus? Remember, the story, the woman he loved died from the bite of a snake and was taken to the underworld.Orpheus was heartbroken by her loss and refused to accept it.

It is an incredible story. He made his way into the underworld and convinced Hades to set her free. A love so strong that not even death could keep them apart. Since it is a Greek tragedy there is another piece to it. Orpheus overcomes death to bring his girl back and then loses her again.

But, we won’t talk about that. If you are going to dream big you don’t settle for a moment in time. You don’t fight your way into death’s domain and then lose her. Not me, no way. If I faced death to bring you home I would find a way to make sure it stuck.

I’d use force of will, my wits and a size 12 boot. I’d bring you home, I would.

Maybe the tragic ending is why I also told you about the Tolkien story of Luthien Tinuviel and Beren. Luthien was the most beautiful elf to ever live. She fell in love with Beren, a human. I promised to read the story with you. A chance to read about another great love that wasn’t supposed to be, but succeeded against all odds.

I love those stories. I always have. Don’t know if I ever believed that they had any basis in reality. Not sure if I ever imagined myself being a part of them. I may be a dreamer, but that is not really the sort of dream that I used to have. The thing is that I can’t remember.

I can’t remember a time when you weren’t a part of me. Intellectually I know that it existed. Intellectually I know that there were years in which I was a boy and then a man who had no idea that a girl/woman like you existed. I think that I might have dreamt about you. I think that I must have, but I am not even sure.

There are moments that stick out, little fragments of time that I think foreshadowed your arrival. I remember nights in Jerusalem where I felt like there was someone waiting for me, felt a presence that I could never identify. I remember a time in Yosemite hiking through the hills where I felt like I was going to find someone.

We didn’t meet in any of those places. It was elsewhere, a secret garden that we built. Our private sanctuary in the world that we created. We laughed and cried together. Sometimes we screamed at each other. We let loose the arrows and slings and unloaded all that lay there.

The trust we had was incredible. No one had ever spoken to us like that. It would have been intolerable and unforgivable. But we were more than that. Incredible and extraordinary. Our fire burned brighter and hotter.

I have heard people suggest that this sort of passion isn’t sustainable and that it is the beauty and burden of the relationship.They say that this is what makes you love another more deeply than ever before and that is the reason you can’t stay together.

But I never paid attention to that. I jumped into the fire and burned but wasn’t hurt. You protected me. Your heart and your soul kept the flames from consuming me. And while you sat in the boat I pushed it through the river of flames.

It was part of my promise to you. When I saw the storm coming I said that I would find a way to get us through. I told you to focus on the things that you had to do. I told you that your love would be enough. You are my air and my heart.

And so here I am engulfed in the flames. I burn and I ache in ways that I cannot describe. The normal lines of communication have been severed. I move ahead on instinct and the belief that my gut will lead me to where it is we need to go. I have paid a severe price, but I would gladly pay it again.

“Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods or steepy mountains yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair-lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.”

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love- Christopher Marlowe

These Pictures of You

“There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
My pictures of you”
Pictures of You- The Cure

“I just called to say I want you to come back home
I just called to say, I love you come back home”
Picture- Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow

“With the calm of the mountains, I will love you
with insanity and balance, I will love you
with the fury of my years
the way you taught me to be
with a powerful raw scream, I will love you
In secrecy and in silence, I will love you
risking (bordering) in what’s forbidden, I will love you
in what’s false and in what’s true with my heart wide open
because you’re something that’s not perfect, I will love you
I will love you, I will love you in a way that’s not allowed
I will love you, I will love you in a way that’s never been known of
Because that’s what I have decided, I will love you”

Te Amare- Miguel Bose & Laura Pausini


I don’t look at your pictures as often as I used to. It got to be too hard. Every time I’d look at them I’d see the great love of my life and wonder what happened. Sometimes I’d find myself caressing the screen and whispering words that I only share with you. I’d stare in silence and wonder why you didn’t answer.

It wasn’t a big secret, pictures don’t speak to us in that sort of manner. They tell stories about a past life and hint at echoes of a future that we might share. Echoes of a future is a phrase that would have caught your eye. It is a contradiction. We expect to hear echoes of the past, but that is not what I think of with us.

Those days in which we talked about our future aren’t that long ago, though sometimes it feels like a different life. Those moments where we lay naked and said that there had never been a time when we weren’t a part of each other. I know that you remember. Outsiders will read naked and think it is a physical reference, something sexual, but you know that it is different.

Naked refers to our hearts and souls, although I am not sure that it is accurate to describe them as being separate. Once they were two different sets. That was before we realized how very empty they were and how we filled the gaps.

Neither of us were prepared for what came afterwards. No one could have predicted it or told us how to act or what to do. When things were right there was no one happier than you or I. The night sky was filled with stars and the forest floor was lit by a huge smiling moon. We held hands and walked for hours through a wonderland.

The days were similar. Endless blue skies called out to us. We played like children and ran through the waves, each taking a turn to chase the other. It was magic.

And then it wasn’t.

Things changed. Those fingers that had been intertwined lost their grip and our hands slipped out of each others grasp. Fear, anger and frustration sowed doubt where there had been none. Little nicks, scrapes and bruises that had never bothered us suddenly took on new meaning.

And then we lost each other. Somewhere on the road we got separated. Those moments of doubt made me wonder if perhaps it had been intentional. Anger came and it seemed pointless to chase something that was a pipe dream.

But somewhere along the way it changed again and I began to hear little whispers. Quiet moments in which I could hear you calling out for me. I wondered if it was just my mind playing tricks on me or if perhaps you really did need me.

I told you that I would be your hero and that if you called for help I would do whatever it took to rescue you. But the truth is that I need you to rescue me as badly as you need me to rescue you. We have always known this.

So I kissed you one last time. One final kiss so that we’d never forget. One kiss so that if we ever lost our way we could use it to find our way back.

For now that kiss is a silent memory that is locked inside my heart. It is a reminder of what once was and a promise of what still might be. One kiss and nothing was ever the same. Who knew that a single kiss could hold so much power.

The Northridge Earthquake- I forgot

It is hard to believe but I completely forgot about the anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake. I wrote about my experience with it here and here.

It is the first year that I didn’t spend part of the day thinking about it. First time that I didn’t spend a moment before drifting off to sleep remembering.

We were lucky. Very few lives were lost, but I knew more than a few people who lost their homes. I knew more than a few who had to start over. When I look at the pictures of destruction in Haiti it brings a lot of memories back.

I am grateful for all that I have, thankful that I didn’t lose more. Those poor people in Haiti deserve better. What happens when more time passes and the spotlight goes elsewhere. What happens then. How many will die because people forget and there is no one there to push for change.

I wonder.