Friday, October 28, 2011

Rules for trick-or-treat houses

1. Please, give out the good stuff. The following candies are acceptable: Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Snickers, Peanut M&Ms, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Way. Everything else is getting either tossed in the garbage or stuffed to the bottom of a sad months-old halloween sack where it will never see the light of day again. Reduce candy waste; give us candy that will actually get eaten.

2. Turn the light on. Don't make us guess whether you're home or not. There are kids walking up to your porch unsupervised; would you want your kids wandering alone into some stranger's darkened abode? If you want to create a spooky atmosphere, decorate. If you want your house to be skipped, good job.

3. Don't comment on every costume. If you see one that is unique or clever or otherwise deserves mention, go ahead and take a moment to point it out. Otherwise, throw your candy in the bags and move on. It's a busy night.

4. Don't ask me if I'm too old to be trick-or-treating. I take offense to that question. For all you know, I have a rare disease condition like Robin Williams in "Jack" and I age 20 years too fast and I'll be dead and old by the time I'm 11.

5. Remember: you are the greatest hero in America. You are keeping the best holiday tradition that we have alive. Take pride in what you do, and never forget your importance. After all, the little trick-or-treaters of today are the future trick-or-treat givers of tomorrow. You are making the future better for everyone.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts on being a father part 2

(part 1 here)
Having a girl is totally different and I'm not even sure why. With Holden, I feel a
sense of responsibility, that need to step up to the plate as a role model and set a decent example for what it means to be a man. With Nadia, I feel like all I can do is worry about her.

It's not all bad. I feel protective of her on a whole other level than I did with Holden. I guess this means I'll be even more conscientious of how I act and present myself, since after all she's going to form her entire idea of the way men are from me, and the whole "role model" thing is still important, just in a different way. The difference is that with Holden, I know he's going to have his challenges and his hardships, but I trust that he'll be OK one way or the other -- in fact, I'm going to make sure of it. With her, I have no idea whether she'll be OK or not, nor do I feel like there's anything I can really do to affect the outcome.

If this sounds despairing, it's only because I (admittedly) can't put myself in the place of a girl who's growing up and I don't know the first thing about what she would be looking for when she looks to her father. It's my own limited capacity to think beyond my own shallow experience that robs me of the confidence I need to be the right kind of person to raise this girl. One thing I know is that I feel more love for both of my children than I ever imagined I could, and I'm willing to do absolutely everything in my power to give them both the best life possible. And if things still don't turn out totally perfect for either of them, in spite of my best efforts, then I guess they were never going to anyway.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

People who don't know how to quit

I made a post recently about one of my all-time favorite bands breaking up. I was feeling sentimental about it that day, but there is something to be said for sensing when one's time has passed and bowing out gracefully as opposed to dragging it out beyond the point of self-parody.

Surely most of you have read about the drama over the Simpsons contract negotiations. A lot of the commentary I was reading online was from people that were openly hoping that they ended the show over this. There's no reason why anybody needs new episodes of the Simpsons anymore, and yet they just keep coming, for at least the next two years, apparently.

Speaking of beloved cultural institutions that everybody has been totally sick of forever, Paul McCartney just got married again. While I would never say anything bad about Paul, I sincerely hope that this is the one relationship that brings him so much joy and satisfaction that he decides to never play another note of music again for as long as he lives. It's too late for him to go out with any dignity, so the best he could do at this point is pull the plug before he is literally dead.

I hope that whatever great thing I end up doing with my life, I'm able to sense when the time is right for me to stop doing it. It's easy to see why attaining the status of McCartney or the Simpsons would be something that is difficult to let go of, but surely there comes a point where that's more of a crutch than anything else. All I want out of life is to achieve something extraordinary, and then realize that it's OK for me to be ordinary again.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I don't believe in leftovers, and I know exactly why.

My dad grew up in a big family that never had enough money. In his words, if you didn't run to the dinner table right away every evening, all the food would get eaten and you'd starve. To my dad, every scrap of food that makes it to the table is precious. I can clearly recall several instances where he would protest "No-no-no-no-NO" if I ever tried to throw any food away.

I grew up in a big family with more than enough money (most of the time). My father is a compulsive food-hoarder, and my mother is an extremist grocery-shopper. Everything is so cheap at the Comissary, how can you not load 3 full shopping carts full of stuff on every trip, especially with so many mouths to feed. When you cook for 11 other people each night, it's very easy to make too much food. When you make too much food, half of it ends up in the fridge. And the fridge at my parent's house is like purgatory for food. It might make it out one day, it might not.

This leads to a nightmarish situation where almost everything that's in the fridge has gone bad. That's why if I ever end up with too much food for dinner, I just keep cramming it in my face. The refrigerator is for storing food that we haven't eaten yet, not for saving food that we weren't hungry enough to finish. I would rather throw stuff away than to hold on to it for a later date on the off chance that one night I'll be craving something that isn't quite fresh anymore. If this makes me a spoiled first-world person, so be it. Take a look at my parent's fridge one day, you'll understand. Do you have any idea what a potato looks like six months after you buy it? And the smell, that's the worst of it. So please don't feed me any leftovers. All it makes me think about is a green potato with three arms growing out of it.