May 18, 2002

The Ride

If you want any context for my adventures today, you'll have to read the last two posts. If you don't, then dig in. There are no rules here. I'm making this up as I go.

What I set out to do today, in getting "out," was to go to the store, observe the world, hit some sales, get the big deal. As I mentioned, the soon-to-be-defunct K-Mart near my house is down to the bare bones, 70 percent off everything left, if you can find anything left.

It was enough to get me out the door. I was feeling pretty good. Daughter off my hip, free to flow with the wind for a whole 3 hours. Nothing but possibilities.

So there I am, cruising down I-75, windows down, hair down, blowing just right, nice cool day here, the kind of Atlanta day you just don't get in mid-May. I'm feeling like maybe I am all that, an apparition of RageBoy, with a new ride of my own, no responsibilities, not for now, just me, cruisin. Uh-huh. This mama's got her groove back.

Except for a few things, not the least of which is that I'm driving a blue minivan, a 2002 Chevy Venture Value Van no less, bought for the sole purpose of getting out from under our Ford Explorer, which was about to bite the dust. Requirements: Cheap, Must hold upright bass, Must hold three people and upright bass in a pinch.

The van is a vehicle of necessity, not of choice. I hate fucking minivans. I feel like my life is over when I drive it. And the "Value" in Value Van doen't mean you feel anymore valuable than a bag of fertilizer behind the curise-controless wheel. No cassette. No CD player. No power windows. Mama said there'd be days like this.

I'm at a pivotal point here. Risk going tuneless or turn on FM Radio. Oh, the humanity.

I decide to try the oldies station, 40th birthday just three weeks away. Feeling nostalgic for I don't know what. But I haven't programmed the four buttons that run this power sound system, so I press the plain black "seek" buttons up and down til I find it, 97.1. Oh they're in commercial. That's okay. I got all the time in the world. Until my ears perk up and I hear this really disarming message from the station manager, saying that advertisers are taking their marketing money to younger audiences, and their programming may not survive, so write your friends, phone your neighbors, fly your flags extra high--God save the queen.

Not really, but the marketing money thing is true, followed by the advertorial poster lady named Lila, who said she raised three kids listening to this station, don't take it away. And then the tagline: "Save our Oldies."

By now I'm thinking, if I steer this beer can on wheels just right, I could hit the embankment doing 85 and be out of my misery. Instead I vow to be rocked back to life, one way or the other, and I push "seek" again.

I don't care how much money I got to spend
I won't find my way home again
Oh the lonely days are gone
I'm a goin home
My baby, she wrote me a letter.


So take a good look at my face
You see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

I need you, need you.

And there I learn my first lesson being back in the world. The radio is fucking depressing. But I'm at K-Mart now, and that's good. I steer the blue potato into a parking space and decide to sit and people watch for a minute or two. Catch my breath after my exhilarating ride. This place of concrete, a hundred plazas just like it in this suburb, is unremarkable. That's what I decide. And when you get to that place, you know with certainty, at least in Atlanta, it's time to buy something. Fill the void. Scissors cut paper, Plastic melts cement. Charge!

Not a shopping cart in sight. It takes me five minutes of waiting just to get my hands on one.

This better be worth it. It's my three hours of freedom, after all.

blue light special

You already know, and now you do if you didn’t, that I decided to leave the house today. To be by myself, by myself. Some romantic notion of watching people happen. Get a little sunshine. Clear my head, which is a storehouse for confusion just now.

The K-Mart near my house is getting ready to close. I’m no fan of K-Mart, wasn’t even when I worked there, back in Rochester, during summer breaks. But a sale is a sale. And 70 percent off is a *sale*.

K-Mart and I go way back. I started working there at 17, on the register, five days a week for minimum wage, a nickel over if you stuck with it a month.

I probably would have stayed on the register for four summers, earning money for school in a job that to me was beyond boring, except for management’s realization that I had an uncanny eye for shoplifters. Takes one to know one I guess. I mean, I don’t shoplift now, and I didn’t then. But I had in the past. And a lot.

I think I was about 12 when I went pro, which lasted a couple of years. Those were easier days, no scanners or detectors. You had two way mirrors, and you had store detectives. Neither a match for me. Innocent brown eyes and a too-sweet smile, I had the perfect cover. It was never very hard for me to slip one shirt under another in a fitting room, books down the back of my pants, candy up the sleeve, or makeup in zippered pockets. A mood ring here, a magazine there.

Shoplifting is the art of distraction. Left hand reaches for a bottle of shampoo, lean a little closer, read the label, right hand slips the eyeliner up the coat sleeve. (This was upstate New York. You always had a coat on.)

But don’t think badly of me. This was just a phase. You had phases too, right? Looking for attention was what I always heard from adults who talked about kids who shoplifted, often in front of me, while I blinked in dismay. I said, “Wow, kids do that?” but I thought, “I’m not looking for attention. I’m looking for a really cool shirt.”

My regular hoist was cigarettes. A pack a day for me and my friends in the summer time. We’d split them with our gang behind the school. I was always the go-getter. The one they trusted to get the job done. And I always did.

We used to call it “getting.” Did you “get” anything today? That was the code word, our clever little way of saying we didn’t buy it. We gonna go “get” some?

My favorite hoist was Betty Crocker frosting. Heather and I would hit Star Market mid afternoon, wind our way through the aisles to the boxed mixes and frostings, almost drooling. Vanilla was our favorite.

“Oh look, they have those aluminum foil baking pans my mom told us to get.” (Can up the sleeve. quick as lightning.)

“No, remember? She told us to get the other kind. I don’t see them here.”

Stay for a while. Not in any hurry. Not like we’re doing anything wrong here. Then we’d wander over across the parking lot, behind the big department store, slip out the goods, sit on the slab by the doors no one used, pop the top, and dig in, one finger full at a time.

The crux of the problem with pre-teen me and shoplifting was that I never got caught. Ever. Not by the stores. Not by my mother. I was very, very good at it. So good, that when I got my job at K-Mart years later, working summers, fully reformed by then, I could spot a thief a mile away.

Management discovered my particular talent during one of my first shifts as door greeter, a job I took seriously because it was so much better than working the register. On this particular day, early in my K-Mart career, I called a code 7 ½ three times. That’s the code for shoplifting. Calling a 7 ½ meant that an army of shoe clerks and auto shop goons would come running, chase down the poor son of a bitch who was just trying to hoist some extra batteries, well, in this case a TV, and wrestle him to the ground. Vigilante justice at it’s finest. Once they hauled the guy to his feet, they’d take the poor sap to the back room and badger him for a bit before calling the cops.

They didn't treat the old ladies that way, and yes, old ladies steal too. They'd just make them cry.

So this particular day--the day I was discovered--I caught three thieves and saved the store $320. A TV, an old lady with some sewing stuff, and a high school kid with a penchant for clothes. Witness, the birth of a K-Mart legend.

The job had its perks. Not only was I off the register, but I got passes for the snack bar whenever I caught someone—eat free on K-Mart for every shoplifter you stop. It was all the incentive I needed, given that I was broke.

With my initial success, the head of security asked me would I like to spend some more time as door greeter. I thought about it. It beat working the register. They stared at me, waiting for my answer. Probably wondered if I was psychic or something. What could I say? I spent 4 years on the job—I know what to look for?

So I said, sure.

By the end of two weeks I’d caught 8 shoplifters. The head of security took me aside.

“We usually don’t do this, but if you want to stay on the door instead of the register, you can. You got a knack for it.”

I think I can admit this. I was flattered.

I had my good days and my bad days. But most days I caught someone trying to take something they shouldn’t. The one I remember best was the guy who strolled toward the door with a bag in his hand—receipt visible—he’d obviously just bought some stuff. But there was something off about him. I did my usual scan. Something stuck. His motorcycle helmet in his hand, about three yards from the door, he looked over my way. He put the bag inside his helmet, and I knew.

He was 6 foot 3 at least, and about the toughest looking biker I had ever seen. But I had a job to do. This was K-Mart. I was on the door. Duty called.

I walked up to him and did my thing.

“Can I see inside your helmet, please?”

He smiled. Eye to eye, I knew I had him. He was the most gentle and polite thief I would ever catch in all my time on that job. He stepped aside with me. Lifted the bag. And there was the stash. A watch, a cassette, and something else I don’t remember. He stood so close to me we were almost touching as I called the 7 ½ to the front of the store. The guys came running, ready to rumble, K-mart vests flapping in the wind. Pulled up short. Stared at me and my new friend.

“He had this,” I showed them.

The head of security stared at him. Stared at me. Thinking to himself, how did she have the balls to walk up to this one?

“Okay, come with us,” he said. And the gentle thief did. No fuss, no muss.

He was the only guy I ever saw them let go without calling the cops. Turns out he’d gotten out of Attica two weeks prior. They decided to give him a break. If they had called on him, he would have been back in for some extra long time.

“Thanks," I said. "He was the nicest one I ever caught.”

By the end of my second summer there, they offered me a full-time job as door greeter, a position they were creating just for me.

“But I’m in college,” I said.

“Well, that’s something you need to think about. I’m just sayin, we never offered the job to anyone before. If you want it, it’s yours.”

I didn’t take it. I think you maybe guessed that by now. But I did have a stellar career there, maybe making up for all the shit I stole as a kid. We do our penance our own way. That job was mine. My own little way of giving back to the retail industry, so to speak.

But this post wasn’t supposed to be about my job at K-Mart; it was supposed to be about my trip to K-Mart today. And it seems about as good a time as any to stop this post and start a Part 2. Later. Once I do my motherly duties for the night.

goin out

I'm venturing out for a while today to be by myself. Huh? Ya. Sister has the kid. A worldwide corporate newsletter waiting for me to write it. Do I need any better reason to go?

For me, working from home is an amazing arrangement. The best of both worlds. The pay and benefits of corporate life sans the politics and distractions. But it has ripple effects too. Sometimes, three or four days go by before I notice that I haven't gone anywhere. There's the obligitory drive to my daughter's school and back. I'm only half-conscious then, being it's 8 in the morning and I haven't inhaled enough coffee to make me feel undead. So I'm not sure that counts. Maybe I get 1/2 point for that. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

I mean, I go outside and everything. Don't start getting worried about me. I just forget to leave. Or maybe I'm not sure it's worth going.

For those who already have me diagnosed, it's not agoraphobia that keeps me inside my self-enforced perimeter. Ya, I could adopt that little DSM code in a minute, without trying even hard, just add it on to my others, but that's not what this is. I'm not afraid to leave. I'm more unwilling to.

My simple reality is, I don't miss the world when I'm not in it.

When webvan (god rest their souls) started working the Atlanta territory, I thought the net had made a present just for me. I'd order our groceries, pick my delivery day and time, and do the happy dance when the truck pulled up. Anyone else still get sad when they see a blue bin? Webvan brought the world to me. And it was the world I picked by hand.

Those were days, for me at least, before blogging, but they were also the days when I surrendered a big part of my life to the Internet. My work life began taking place exclusively over the net in 1997. And a lot of the rest of my life went with it. Now with blogging, many of my friends and extended family live in Blogaria, where cab fare's always free; it's a two second ride--boot up, browser open. World awaits me.

So there's not much reason to go. Out, I mean.

But today I'm going anyway. Because the world's still here, and there are people with flesh, bones, and smiles out there. Maybe wanting to talk. Maybe they even blog. Or maybe they'll be like most Atlantans, out because they have to be. Buying something or eating something. That's what people do when they go out here. And it's mandatory here that you buy everything you possibly can, and even what you can't. I think they deport you to Alabama if you fail to live up to your quota in that regard.

So, anyhow, I'm going. I'll let you know what I find out there.

May 17, 2002

And now, for an important news bulletin

If you're worried about the latest wave of news that says the current administration knew the terror attacks on America were coming, don't be. There are far more important matters of national security to deal with. Kent, you have lost your mind. Bless you.

sweet world

Look inside your mind
See the darkness creeping out
I can see the softness there
Where the sunshine is gliding in
Fill your mind with love
Find the world of future glory

-genesis, where the sour turns to sweet

New morning, windows open, sunlight filtering in, and I think about a place I’d like to build for us. A real place, a magical place that nurtures the ebb and flow of bloggers, our dreams, a place of potions and remedies, a healing place, a place we could all come, give, take, then go—or maybe never leave.

And who would come there? We would start it off, me, George and Jenna, because we have always been expecting a better world, and Diva and Bando would come too. They are sweet dogs, unselfish and loyal, and amazing to observe, old matriarch Diva, crabby yet patient with her slobbering, unrelated son. And I’ll bathe them before we go to this place. Because, as Jenna says, “they smell so stinky.”

And we’ll set up house in a huge compound on the edge of the woods, near the pond thick with life, where you can watch the fish jumping for flies at night. Once we clean out the cobwebs, and set up an expanse of space for families and friends, others will come.

There will be no walls, your space is your own, and invisible, flexible boundaries are disarmed by creativity and a knowing so big it overcomes every problem, worry, heartache; there is no such thing as loss in this place.

Halley and her family will come, and her son will be my son, and my daughter, hers. And Chris will come, but not the neighborhood cat that sneaks into his apartment. He can bring others, in heart and in hand, and he will bring RageBoy, and in this place, RageBoy will have the space he needs, the comfort he needs, and the Italian restaurant won’t be so far away; Everywhere there are people with hearts open.

Doc will come with his lot, and he will bring us balance, and we him. And AKMA and his brood will come, and his fellow Blog U colleages too, and Golby, and Gary, and theirs. And Anita will come, and Andrea, and Esta. Other Blog Sisters will visit, some will stay.

Shelley will come for a time, and burn so brightly, then leave us with that light until she returns.

David will stay behind, and visit sometimes, and he will be our liaison to the rest of the world, knowing, without being there, just what this place is for. Telling the others, “It can be so.”

Small pieces now joined.

And Elaine will come, she can bring her mom, we’ll have a special place for her, comfortable enough, close, yet far enough, and a caregiver for her so Elaine can rest her soul some. And Tom Shugart and his, and Frank Paynter, Tom Matrullo, Steve MacLaughlin, and, my god, of course Marek.

In this place, there is all the bandwidth we ever need, and all of the books of human kind, notes from other bloggers in the margins. And we learn and absorb from one another, as we engage, we grow. Your mind is mine, and mine yours, spiraling further out.

Denise has a law library all to herself, protects us and enriches us with wisdom and wit.

Technology supports us, without overwhelming us, because we have the woods.

We have Macs and PCs and color printers and faxes, and a powerful network, a spot for convergence of ideas, where they germinate and grow organically, without interference, because left on their own for a while, good ideas do this. And here, day is night, and night is day, one sky, thought is unending.

We have all of the notebooks and pencils and pens, and paper and paints we need. We paint the walls with murals, the children help, they mix colors no one has ever seen, and everywhere you look, something is blooming.

There is music, coming to and from George and Tom and Eric and others, but there is no music business, and art is allowed to happen, and for once matter most. The music chases us and become us, playing mates with blogging, sound marries voice, beautiful babies everywhere.

The children are playing now, by the big rocks just up over the hill. We can see them from every window, and we know they are safe. There is no danger here.

Frank Paynter has fashioned a wooden swing for them, it hangs from a willow by the picnic table. I see them now—Chris and Doc are having coffee at the table, writing notes, looking up long enough to see the children laughing as they play King of the Hill on the tallest boulder. There are no band-aids here, because there is no hurt.

Kent is happiest sitting at the edge of the pond, wondering how the fish move so quickly, blogging wirelessly as they feed on the grass at the bank.

Our world is unbroken. The union of mind/soul/spirit/sky/earth/fire inside this place can fix the world, and we set out to do just that. No politics, no leader, only a singularity of heart. The world looks in on us, every once in a while, when David lets them know what we’re doing. He’s careful to let on just enough.

As we invent and create and blog, the power of this one human mind, one human kind, begins to trickle into the world, and everything it touches shines. Outsiders succumb to the sharp glare of our ideas, they stop resisting and let us in. Let us deep within. And we transform them.

We transform them.

As news of our power to heal grows, even corporations take notice, and in exchange for our ideas, converged knowledge, they fund and help sustain our community. They aren’t allowed to visit us. They cannot send anything inward, they are only allowed to capture what we send out.
David is there, to make sure they do right by us. And if they don’t, we cut their circuit. We appreciate their sustenance, but don’t need their gifts.

It is the end of the day, my first day in this world, and I am at peace, a peace I never knew.

My soul and heart are rested, mended, my mind on fire.

This is the place where I feel most alive.

May 16, 2002

Locke Locks In On Blogging

There's a wonderful interview with Chris Locke on Marketplace Morning Report that hit the airwaves this morning, tickling the ears and brains of some 2,000,000 listeners (yup, I said two million).

You can listen to the RealAudio stream here or go to the homepage and click on "The Best of Today's Morning Report."

Chris may not tell you, but I will, that Tess Vigeland was so jazzed about the blogging topic that she got the segment extended from something like two minutes to a full six or seven minutes.

The best thing about this is that Chris Locke is one of our own. Tireless champion of the net and weblogs. If you're tired of non-bloggers talking about what we do, go take a listen to Chris and drink up the good news. While you're at it, blog the hell out of this.

May 15, 2002

stop trying (and get real)

RageBoy takes Mike Sanders to task about his latest generalizations and misobservations. I'm glad to see those I respect popping a vein over this guy. What Mike's doing is destructive, for all the reasons I mentioned here and then some. Not least of all is his binary (thank you AKMA) notion of "Truth." Thank you RageBoy for that much deserved ass whippin'.

May 14, 2002

it's all about the phonalogue

I mentioned in this post that I’d started talking realtime, over the phone, to some of my blogger friends. Haven’t gotten to everyone yet; the list is long. The calls unfolded in assorted ways, but each one has been rich in meaning and a familiarity that has me a little shaken. Buzzed. Flying high even. Six cups of coffee buzzed-high. Words to ideas back to Words again, the spoken takes wing from the written, and back again.

I’ve said it this way before:

“Our talks are conversation on the fast track. Formalities gone, veils dropped, history already shared, why not dig right into the present moment? Why not get real, and real quick? Let's tell it like it is. I already have, and you like me so far.”

I think there’s a story in this, that some of us are compelled to take blogging off the screen and back around to one-on-one conversation, hypercharging an old medium with a new context for interaction.

How many others have back circuited their blogging relationships to the telephone? Have you called another blogger? Feel like sharing your story? Let me know if I can use your name, blog, and experiences for something I'm writing – for publication here or elsewhere. And I'll keep you posted on any progress. Deal? Leave comments or send to

On the horizon, a blogger con-call? Why not. It ain't blogcon, but it has promise. Takin’ the party to the party line.

so fucking timely

One of the beautiful things about blogs is their timeliness--especially compared to traditional media. No editors to run things through. No fact checking to be done. No interviews needed, because bloggers are living and blogging in the moment, on the scene. Everywhere someone is blogging. Evidence, Shelley Powers was the first to report on the San Fran earthquake yesterday, because, well, it shook her apartment. Congrats to Shelley for scooping major news outlets.

Halley Suitt Interviews David Weinberger

Great post on Halley's blog today in which she interviews David about SPLJ. One excerpt from David:

"Business is anal-perfective. It's incapable of admitting that its products aren't perfect even though we all know that. Marketing just naturally assumes we want to see idealized images, and we have learned not to trust those images. But slickness on the Web feels out of place."

He took the words right outta my mouth. Again.

this morning I...

Dropped off my darling at her school. Went to the post office to mail some important bills (late), slipped them in the mail box, then remembered they had no stamps. Asked inside what to do. they said to wait; they'll come back to your house soon. Launched an investigation into the package I spent $32 to mail to china two weeks ago, which has disappeared in chinese customs or somewhere along the way. Felt glad I hadn't put anything even more personal in the box. Wrote a survey results document for work; filled out billing and project forms for work; started a byline article for work; noodled on old writing projects that are late and stale. Called orkin to make sure the termite bond on our house was paid. Read weblogs--akma, joho, matrullo, my own. Wrote emails. Started writing this. Ate a turkey sandwhich. Wondered why the squirrels keep eating my house. Ate a salad. Turned on TV and turned it off again. Did more work for work. Wished i had better food in the house.

Does it get any duller than this?

May 13, 2002

he's at it again

Tom Matrullo posts a wonderful response to Sanders' latest name-calling escapade, in which he tries to oversimplify the elegant insight of AKMA on the complexity of the problems in the middle east. Tom's friendly and direct response to Mike's latest attack (and they are, in my opinion, attacks) was a thing of beauty. Me? I chose on 4/21 (post-blogskining, that link isn't working) to put it another way, asking Mike to remove me from his blogroll. Because I think what he is doing is wrong. I'm not sure why Mike blogs--most of what he does is twist the meaning of what others say and respond to that "new" meaning in a way furthers his personal blogging agenda, generating links, whether it's through Tiger Woods' girlfriend or the Arab-Israeli conflict. Not to say he doesn't care deeply about Israel. I would not question his personal dedication to his cause. It's just the way he's going about it that's preverse.

I've stated what I think is wrong with that blog before, but will state it again:

-Labeling another blogger as "pro" or "anti" anything--especially anything that strikes at the core of their personal belief system--without giving backup is wrong.

-Picking apart bloggers who are brave enough to get personal on their own blogs without daring to get personal yourself is wrong.

-Posting inflamatory comments on your blog without a comment mechanism for others to contribute to the conversation or defend themselves is wrong. [oooh, but it does get you linked.--ed.]

-Using your blog to deliberately inflict pain on others is wrong.

-Using a global medium to state your views without acknowledging the global context and ramifications of what you say is wrong.

-Accusing others of being unfair and insulting when you practice the same regularly is wrong.



CNN - Upsell? Like Hell!

I don't know about you, but when I've had something online for a long time, I really don't like to be told I have to pay for it. New features? Yeh, I usually ante up. But not for something you used to give me--something that doesn't really cost you anything extra. Especially news. Haven't we learned our little lessons there?

Well, morbid curiosity led me to click on the Lion bites the zookeeper's arm off story at just now.

Not too much information there. The zookeeper had been showing her family around. Big lion with big teeth severed her arm at the elbow. She's in serious condition. The lion's future is uncertain. Very sad. Indeed.

So sad that I really wanted to see the video of it. So, like I've done a hundred times before, I click the video link. And I get this little beauty. Huh? I can't see the video unless I pay? Hello? No free trial for me either. I know what free trials mean--mean's it's gonna cost me once I get used to it.

But the best part is, go to properties and see what the web smarties at CNN named the file - "cnn_upsell.html". Isn't that precious? And all this time I thought they were doing it to provide "more video at a higher quality than ever before."

Transparent. Bullshit. Keep your video, CNN.

I'll read it on the blogs next time.


Tired. raw, nerves exposed, ready-set-hurt-me, take me down, don't take me down. Vulnerable, aching, wondering, open spaces, expansive, engulf me. Take my soul, don't take my soul, Leave me, keep me, caught in the current, sinking, fingertips break the surface, one last grasp at nothing, hopeless, helpless, the freedom of loss, the agony, my own loss, loss of self. If I go and come back, who will I find? she, me, empty still? Truth, lies, blindsided, rewind the movie, slowly, watch again, still don't see. Flying now, soaring, exploring, unending sky rolled in clouds, taste, sweet cream, not my dream. Until.

May 12, 2002

those who can do AND teach

A mini blogtank so to speak has sprung up to take care of AKMA's blog. This is the most beautiful thing I've seen out here in a while. Not only is Dorothea Salo taking care of business at AKMA's place, but she's TEACHING how to do it by blogging her remake. Others have started pitching in--Jonathon Delacour and Mark Pilgrim among them--and it's turned into a U Blog University deal. Wow. Crap. Consider the implications. Our kids attending AKMA's university located on a blog that Dorothea built. Ya baby!

Um, in case you guys haven't noticed, I tried to skin this thing, and it could use a little help--especially the archives page, which looks exactly like it did before, because I have no idea what to do. But that's okay. I can wait. Someone mentioned spare change. I can come up with spare change. Keep it in mind. There's other functionality I'd like, but have no idea how to make work.

In the mean time, I'll read along and try to learn something.

the reign of estrogen

Women going it alone. They now amaze me. I'm in my second month of single-motherhood-for-the-moment, with George in Hong Kong, and I have a new appreciation for women who are thrust into the single-mother game. Especially women who are mothers of daughters. For really scientific reasons (so says me).

Look, the absence of testosterone in a household, combined with an overabundance of estrogen, is just not a good thing. I've seen it in companies I've worked for. Those places where the first meeting in the morning means two or three women crying, or at least one of them walking out in a fit of rage, punctuating their departure with a slammed door.

Women-dominated companies, like women dominated households, have some special challenges, and you can call me crazy all you want, but the truth of the matter is the truth of the matter. Ying to yang, man to woman, father to daughter, mother to son, these are incredibly important relationships. And when one part of the equation is out of balance, everyone in the vacinity of a hurling Barbie Doll pays the price.

I'm convinced that estrogen needs testosterone to bounce against. Without it, the power of estrogen takes over, turns you into someone you really don't recognize. Mirror mirror, where did my man-half go? The changes in my daugther--and her relationship with me--over the last month are nothing short of scary. Since when did I live with a teenager? I thought she was four. And yesterday, when she tried to take a chunk out of my arm with her teeth, I realized, yes, she still is four. She's just part of this estrogen storm that has taken over our house.

Is it that she wouldn't dare with her father home? Maybe. But to me, it feels very physical, a real imbalance, a gush of energy with nothing to soak it up, spilling everywhere, until she storms upstairs, yells, "FINE THEN!" and slams her door. Always making sure to open it and add, "I'm NEVER speaking to you AGAIN."

So single mothers, you get my personal "How in the hell do you do it" award. No trophy or anything. Just amazement.

Come home soon, Papa.

the belch heard round the world

More convergence of realworld and online ties today. My family--daughter, husband, and me--spoke for the first time over the net, him in Hong Kong, us here in Georgia, thanks to Yahoo IM's Talk feature. He finally found a cybercafe barely quiet enough to hear us, and my laptop finally cooperated.

The result was an amazing (to me) family dialogue taking place on opposite sides of the world as we lived our lives in our normal abnormal way. Different from the phone? Yeh, it felt different. Some twisted kind of speaker phone is the best analogy. Maybe because I realized that, out of a PC on an Island in Asia, my daugher's belch rang out loud and clear, for all to hear.

"Daddy, did ya hear my burp? Did ya daddy?"

"Yes, sweetie. I heard your burp."

What's not to love about that?