I Fall to Pieces

One of the many boxes of legos.

Bear had done right by me when he cleared out his room. Per instructions, he left the books for me to pick through. And the Legos.

There were four or five plastic containers full of the red and yellow and blue and green and gray blocks. There were some block blocks–squares and rectangles. There were some windows that opened and closed. There were also a few doodads that could turn around like a faucet or maybe could be a flower. There were bodied and disembodied yellow heads to pick through. And an amazing number of little gray connectors that must have been from the many Star Wars and knights kits that were under Christmas trees and gifted for birthdays.

I found Legos to be a wonderful mindless manipulative. It wasn’t mindful for me, as I didn’t focus or concentrate on my creations. I’d sometimes make a color pattern, but, for me, it was always indeterminate.

The Bear and the Big Guy spent many hours assembling and disassembling roads, houses, towns and worlds. It was the journey of a Creator, trying different combinations, making evolution happen and then reshaping a next one.

There were kits that were constructed following the guidance on the box. But only once. After it was made, it was rejoiced and then deconstructed and the spoils added to the pile. There were no Lego trophies that were saved for posterity. Legos made fluid sculptures.

On Saturday, I returned to my boxing duties, back to the Bear’s room. I cleaned out the craziness in the closet. I don’t believe that the back of that closet was cleared out in fifteen years. Frankly, it was scarier in thought than in fact.

For some reason, there was a big pile of coins on the dresser. Next to the pile, there was a box full of even more coins, as well as with a bunch of little rocks. Why don’t people (in my family) recognize that nickels and dimes and quarters and, yes, even pennies, are money to be spent rather than items to pile. There was once a day when I ordered a pizza only to realize that I had no cash (before delivery took credit cards). I paid for the pizza with coin I conjured from pockets, under the pillows on the couch and from the bottom of my bags–even going to the closet to rummage through every bag I owned. The Pizza Hut guy wasn’t particularly jazzed, but at least I found enough silver to include a decent tip.

I picked through the rocks (why rocks in that box, too??)  and tossed them as well as a number of wires and quite a pile of empty wrappers that made me both relieved and a little shocked.

I parsed through the books, fondly putting some in boxes and others in the to-go pile. I soon found myself sitting on the floor picking through those Lego boxes.

I started tossing out the tiny green army men I found in one box. There was some nerf bullets in another and a fuselage of a plastic airplane. The dust in the uncovered bins was charring my fingers and making me sneeze. I started combing through one of the bins to shake out the chaff, the unique Lego plastic-on-plastic sound whistling as I shook through the box.


Seriously. What. The. Hell. Was. I. Doing.

I was spending fifteen, soon to be thirty and likely sixty minutes going through old toys. That had more than a decade of dust on them. I said I wasn’t sentimental and here I was. On the floor. Picking through junk.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Done. Said my sane self.

I took a photo of the boxes of little colorful blocks and posted them under FREE on my neighborhood listserve. I identified them as dusty and recommended running them through the dishwasher. In less than ten minutes I had a a taker. In five more minutes I took the two trips downstairs and to the front porch to await pickup. I had two more pings for them before I took the listing down.

I went for a beer and a sandwich and when I stepped on to the porch I looked down. They were gone.

And I’m good with that.


Connecting Rooms

I was committed to staying within the current footprint and floorplan. I was okay, and, in fact always planned, taking out the pantry wall. The pantry was a rabbit hole with a bottom that we never could actually get to. Stuff piled up. I’m sure this is a problem that could have been organized out of, but opening the kitchen and gaining those fifty-four inches would add a third more space to cook in. And a better cooking experience is a major rehab goal.

The rest of the house would keep the historical layout. Center hall. Three rooms on the right. Living-dining-kitchen on the left. The bathroom at the end of the hall needed an internal reconfiguration, but there was enough space. I always loved how the rooms interconnect and how the house flows.

Over the years, the front room went from “toy room” to TV/game room and den. We still call it the toy room, to the dismay of our adult children. Old habits.

The back bedroom had been our guest room (except when I was recovering from various surgeries). We referred to it by the name of my sister-in-law, on account of her living with us for her first semester of law school until she divined that the benefit of free rent (to be fair, she insisted on paying us) and family meal was poorly balanced against a precocious four-year-old who wandered in asking a cross-ex worth of questions during reading for torts or contracts. We understood her escape. She was honored with the room name for a decade, until the former four-year-old-now-fourteen decided that he didn’t want to share a room with his brother and slowly assumed that space as his own.

That middle room was long the office of The Spouse. Computer towers, two phone lines and the screech of a 2400 baud modem electronically defined a space full of contract negotiations and a highly complex hiring hall. The Spouse had to be very efficient–more contracts meant more jobs to fill. More jobs meant more itinerant members with their schedules and last minute trips as well as the occasional times in rehab or jail. A merger and some technical changes unchained him from the desk and landline. And the room accreted into a huge closet.

I moved boxes from my last office in there. He piled up old briefcases that were never quite emptied. There were boxes of photos that I didn’t trust to the dank basement. The board games we maybe might play, boxes of computer discs, laser discs and record albums that got moved there when we got rid of the old wall unit and turntable. A collection of serving pieces and table cloths. A bunch of unidentifiables stacked haphazardly on the long buffet server that didn’t fit in the dining room. Random pieces of furniture. A ladder that didn’t get put back downstairs. A set of crutches and the recording rig that the Big Guy used to record and produce music.

When the proposed design relocated the bathroom to take a hunk out of that room, a bit of a shudder shot across my shoulders and down my spine. But I was gaining five more kitchen feet and opening light to the back of the house. We weren’t doing anything in that room, anyway. We didn’t need it as a bedroom in any future configuration. But we were losing that room. My pulse stepped up and my tongue was too dry to lick my lips.

The architect swapped the master suite idea for a narrow office configuration. We could definitely use that–I had carved out a corner in the toy room. Then she drew in two pocket doors, reestablishing a direct connection between the three rooms. The linking of space that first drew me to into the spell of this house. And my heart slowed to a regular pace, the moisture returned to my mouth. Deep breath. Okay. Let’s do it.

Behind the Mask

Filters of the Doc's 2016 pumpkin.

There was a welcome dearth of that cartoon princess with the icy blue dress and the long blond braid this year. I think we only had one. And she was a zombie version.

Not surprisingly, there was a new group of Harry Potters. What did surprise me was the number of girls dressed as Harry. The only Hermione I saw was a girl who said she was a “grown up Hermione,” since she was regular Hermione last year. Holtzman from Ghostbusters did show up, though.

There were plenty of superheroes–at least four Captain Americas. One had a shield I was very ready to poach. Just one Iron Man. I guess we know whose Civil War side was favored. [Full disclosure: Doc was Team Cap, too.]

I misidentified a trick-or-treater as Batman. He was wearing one of those costumes with the built in pillow pecs, and I was working my line about how he must lift. It always cracks me up. And I called him Batman. He very politely–almost apologetically–corrected me. While his mask had the same ears of the hordes of costumed Batmen trick or treating my porch, this guy was actually Black Panther. In recognition of his boss-dom and my error, I noted that he was much stronger than Batman and much more wealthy than Tony Stark. His dad, who was hanging a bit back, piped in, “See? They know!” The Dad was also dressed as a Black Panther. I recognized his black beret sporting a panther patch. I tossed a candy his way. He totally caught it, despite the dark.

The push and pull of family relations are told through some costumes. The parents who apologize for YAP (yet another princess), the kids who turn to their folks to ask “who am I, again?” and the occasional fusion when the child wanted to be a banana and the mom totally nailed the outfit. You can tell because that team is full of some wicked pride.

Personally, I like giving away candy and watching the show. I do not miss the costume scramble. Not at all.

The Big Guy dressed as The Joker for his Halloween haunting. To work the Joker makeup, he needed to be clean shaven. I saw his boy’s face that had been hidden for years under his beard. I asked him if the bar asked for his proof of age. He said his former co-worker didn’t recognize him.

When I looked at him, though, I knew exactly who he was. And, I felt like I was ten years younger. Definitely trick.

Body Arts

A crazy M. C. Escher print. Wow. The art is amazing!

The housing market fell apart as we were buying our second house. This was most excellent in that we underbid on the property and there were no other players. The poor owners were moving to Delaware, so they were stuck with our offer. It wasn’t really so bad for them, though. They made money on the house, just not as much as they hoped.

On the other hand, we were unable to get a buyer for our old house. We leveraged everything we had to make the new down payment, and then we became landlords.

The first house had been built in the 1880’s. The realtor on that house said it was a decent rental since nothing had knocked it up in more than a hundred years. Seemed right.

I was a bit busy. We closed on house #2 two weeks before The Big Guy was born. Had about enough time to unpack the dishes, set up the furniture and then have a baby.

We needed a signed the lease to buy the new house. Our first tenants were very nice people. Three young women who were “volunteers” for a Lutheran charity. The charity actually rented the house. The people were so nice, they gave the Big Guy a set of sweet books for his first birthday. They paid the rent on time. I was baby-addled so that was all I required.

When they moved out, our next tenants were a rock and roll band.

If you thought these lovely women were nice, you’d be very impressed with the band. The Spouse would go by the house with the Big Guy who would ask about the dwums and the gutaws. The bass player would take his axe out and let the kid touch it. Even as they were going to a show. They’d be late for the kid.

The band was excited that they had a release on vinyl. They were happy to sell CDs, but pined for the sound of diamond on plastic. I think I bought the LP, but we didn’t have a turntable setup. I wonder whatever happened to that record.

Although I was only six or seven years older than they were, we were the people with the baby that owned the house they rented. That made us old. I guess, relatively, they were right. We were parents. They had parents.

One day they came over to our house for something or another to sign. As always, they were generous with their affection to our boy. He had many questions.

Big Guy: Where are your instwuments? [please substitute the “w” sound for every “r.” Makes for a more realistic and cuter dialog.]

Singer: Awww, we left them at the house. Sorry.

Big Guy: That’s okay. [walking around to the bass player, climbing on his lap and tracing the colorful full sleeve on his right arm] Why you have dwawings on your awm?

Bass Player: These are tattoos. They tell stories. This is about where I’m from, this is a bird that flies to far away lands, and this part symbolizes my sister.

He looked up at me, a bit embarrassed.

Bass Player: Sorry.

I knew that he was worried that the old landlady would disapprove of the tattoos and his sharing of his disreputable marks. He was concerned that I would think he was a bad influence on somebody who could not yet make the “R” sound.

Me: Sorry about the tattoos? They don’t bother me. My dad has them. Down both arms.

The Bass Player was quite surprised and not just a little impressed with my wickedness. The Big Guy slid off his lap, walked around to the other side of the table and sidled up next to the singer.

Big Guy: So, where’s your cawtoon? [translation= cartoon; also, his interpretation of the word tattoo]

Singer: [using his index finger to pull the V on his v-neck tee below his left pec] Right here. See this “V”? It’s my wife, Victoria’s initial. She is tattooed right over my heart.

The Big Guy nodded knowingly and approvingly in his three-year-old way. But actually, it was like he did understand.

The drummer was looking for attention.

Drummer: So, where’s my tattoo?

Big Guy: [emphatically, but kindly] You don’t have one.

The mates quickly exchanged looks. The Drummer especially was bemused. Everyone else was amused.

Drummer: Hmmmm. You’re right. I don’t.

I think that the smart Big Guy then gave everyone a hug and went to brush his teeth.

Baaack (again)

I thought I might blog over on another platform, but it just seemed disconnected from my thinkings. I thought about starting a new blog, but I liked this old one. So, I thought that I would just write here, again.

I wanted to write again because I haven’t written from my own voice on my own things for a really long time.

I really enjoyed being the Doctor of Thinkology and just thinking about things. I stopped writing here when I started up a professional blog. I just couldn’t keep up two blogs. That other blog was a good blog. I liked the analysis and writing, and it helped me out professionally. But then I switched jobs and had a conflict with that blog. So, I pretty much stopped writing.

So, now, to catch you up, the the 16-year-old in this post is now 22.  And the 11-year-old here is now 19. I think I will rename them Big Guy and Little Guy. Which is not reflective of their sizes. Also, this sweet pup has left us but we have brought another into our home. Oh, and one more catch up thing. I got cancer. Guess that really explains why I’m back.