Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Embracing his corpulence ...

So ...

I was in the second-hand store today, looking for a pair of grey wool pants to replace the ones that I ripped on the sharp corner of a file cabinet. I was approached by a gentleman who looked a good deal more like this photo than I do (though, to be honest, I have to admit that I ain't but a few cheeseburgers and chicken wings away from bearing a remarkably similar appearance).

"Excuse me, sir," the porcine little fellow said to me, "would you let me know if you come across any larger sizes that you don't like? I'm having a hard time finding something that will fit."

I said, "Okay. Sure." But I thought ... dude, seriously? Do I really look as fat as you? Couldn't you fit two of me (okay, one and a half) in your pants?

After getting over being offended, I was self-conscious and wondering how fat I must be for this fellow to think of approaching me with such a request. Then, sometime later, after I got over being insecure, I thought about how this guy had no shame about how he looked. There was no insecurity or shame in him. He knew he was fat and he was okay with it.

So ... three conclusions ...

  1. Feel good about yourself (who else will if you don't).

  2. Shop thrift stores (I got a brand new pair of $60 pants for less than $10).

  3. #1 and #2 are not good excuses ... I still need to get my fat butt to the gym!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground ...

I'm going to put my religious thoughts under this heading ... just because that's the way I feel about my faith these days. I haven't given up on trying to put the thing back together but it is a far sight from reassembled!

The title is from the James Taylor song Fire and Rain which has a better spiritual lyric than a lot of spiritual music I've heard. Well, maybe not better but certainly very indicative of my current state of mind ... and it sets a tone for these postings:

Won't you look down upon me, Jesus,
You gotta help me make a stand.
You just got to see me through another day.
My body's achin' and my time is at hand --
I won't make it any other way.

It communicates so well the kind of poverty of spirit I think is so essential {and sadly so lacking} in the religious parlance of the day. I know it's been lacking in mine. I used to think that believers and non-believers stood on the same ground ... that we were all spiritual beggars and the only difference was that I, as a believer, knew where the bread was. Wouldn't even go that far now ... I'm searching -- frequently hopeful, occasionally ardent, open-minded most of the time and jaded at others-- but, still, searching.

So ... after twenty-four years of church-attending, Bible-reading Christianity I am still a beggar. And the bread ain't where I thought it was so the search continues.

{So, can a brother get a few crumbs, Lord?}

Monday, September 22, 2008

First day of fall ...

...and the weather is damp and drizzly. The Patriots lost to Miami yesterday and half the office is out sick. There's an unmistakable something in the air{not really a chill, but something} that says winter is coming. I love the autumn --that famous briskness that allows you to wear your wool and your tweed and your sunglasses -- but would really rather do without winter.

Shemetra says she wants to take a trip somewhere warm this winter, to a place ...

where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain,
...where the weather suits my clothes,
....banking off of the northeast wind
.....sailing on summer breeze
......skipping over the ocean like a stone ...

Yeah ... I think I might have to take her up on that one!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Brother Man: On the MOVE, Yo ...

Gotta give both bambinos equal time and Brother Man is down two entries to none ...

I am so proud of Jared and the way he has really come on academically ... He is really embracing the challenges I gave him as school started this year and I honestly believe he is doing his best. He is a remarkable boy ... quiet, deep-thinking and very intelligent (takes after his mother in that way). I am sometimes too hard on him but evne then his attitude seems to be, "C'mon ... bring it ... need more of this."

Dude is getting big too -- but he is a gentle giant. Once I was teasing him in his room, trying to start a play-fight with him ... you know, popping him in his head a stuff. "C'mon, chump. Whatcha got, whatcha got?" "I can't hit you, Dad -- you're old."

Well, I shoulda listened but didn't and persisted in my teasing. "I give you permission to do your best. C'mon chump, whatcha got, whatcha ---"

Thus released from any liability, Brother Man pushed his old dad ... not as hard as he could but hard enough to send me hurtling shoulder first against the hallway wall. Hurt so bad I wanted to cry. "Good one, Homes," I said holding my shoulder. "Now ... uh, clean up this room." Whereupon I retreated to the bathroom to wince and cry and find the Ibuprofen and the Ben Gay.

Strong Boy. Smart Boy. My Boy!!!

The US Government’s Economic Bail-Out Plan – Stooge Lending Practices …

Curly, Larry and Moe are walking down the street and Curly finds a brand new, crisp five dollar bill.

Curly [Holding up the bill]: Hey, must be my lucky day! Five smackeroos!

Moe [to Curly]: And what about that ten bucks you owe me?

Curly [to Moe]: O, right. [Hands the bill to Moe] Here’s five and I’ll owe you five.

Larry [to Moe]: Wait a minute; don’t you owe me ten bucks?

Moe [to Larry]: You’re right. [Hands the bill to Larry] Here’s five and I’ll owe you five.

Curly [to Larry]: Not so fast, pal. Remember that ten buck I lent you?

Larry [to Curly]: Right. [Hands the Bill to Curly] Here’s five and I’ll owe you five.

Curly [to Moe, handing him the bill]: Here’s the five I owe you.

Moe [to Larry, handing him the bill]: And here’s the five I owe you.

Larry [to Curly, handing him the bill]: And here is the five I owe you.

The all proceed on their merry way.

Now, re-read the dialogue above and replace Moe with Bear Stearns, Larry with AIG and Curly with the American Tax Payers and there you have it – the government’s financial bail-out plan!!! Works ... sort of ...right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Original Daddy-O ...

Today was the 34th anniversary of my father’s death … a dubious thing to commemorate. I was ten when he died so I don’t have an abundance of memories of him, and some of the ones I do have are not very positive. But I do have a couple of very pleasant memories so I think I’ll choose those for today.

There was a summer in the early seventies when my mother took us away from Boston to spend the summer in Little Rock, Arkansas with her family … my father never went with us on those trips. We spent a long time there and I remember being very excited about getting back home. When we pulled up in front of the house I was the first one out of the cab and up the front steps, the first to ring the doorbell. Joe (we always called our parents by their first names) looked out of the window in the front door and his face lit up when he saw me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful smile … and it was all for me.

I used to be one of those guys whose inner child was always whining about how his father never told him he loved him. This memory dispels that myth. He didn’t say the words, but he couldn’t have delivered the message any louder or clearer.

Another great memory … I was in the first grade and Joe was walking me to school. It had snowed a day or so before and the trampled down snow had now frozen into a sheet of ice. I had lost my gloves and we were a little bit late so I was trotting along on the ice with my hands shoved in my pockets. “Van, don’t run with your hands in your pockets,” Joe said to me. “Why not?” Almost before I could get the words out I lost my footing and started to fall. With no hands to catch myself, I landed face first on the ice. Joe helped me up. “That’s why.” Object lesson to all you kiddies out there (Brother Man and Sister Baby take note!!!) when Dad says chill you better just chill first and ask questions later.

Anyway, I’m a little sad today. I barely knew the man even in the limited way a boy knows his Dad … sure would be nice if he was still around for me to know man to man. Dude was, after all, the original Daddy-O!

Our House (in the middle of our street)

Here's a recent picture of the Miles Street gang (my beautiful family). There's:

Abigail Alexia Owens -as- Sister Baby

Shemetra Epps-Owens -as- Mammacita

Jared Nathaniel Owens -as- Brother Man


Your's Truly -as- DaddyO {the sunglasses are no mere affectation ... I need 'em for the sun!}

Now you have faces to attach to the names and aliases. Don't we just look so Huxtable-ish!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lyrics (fortunately) MisHeard ...

So ...

Shemetra, Sister-Baby and me are channel surfing and we come across the 2008 VMA Awards and Katy Perry comes one singing Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Well, before we could switch the channel ... and much to Dad's consternation ... Abby picks up the chorus and starts singing along.

Thank goodness she misheard ...

"Like a surgeon --- Woooo! --- Cuts for the very first time. Like a sur-ur-ur-ur geon ..."

So, if one day Chica becomes a world-renown cardiologist and wins the Nobel prize for curing heart-disease, in her acceptance speech she'll have to give a shout-out to MADONNA!

Abby's Letters

That's Abigail Alexia Owens ... my five year old daughter.

When we moved into the condo, one of the very first things we did was put magnetic letters on the refrigerator. We figured that it would help Abby to start recognizing letters and encourage her to start reading ... and it has. But there's also been an unexpected development.

Abby has constructed a whole world for these letters. They have each become (or are in the process of becoming) individual characters, and with them she acts out all kinds of extravagant adventures. They sometimes act out things that go on in her own life -- like the episode where the character Sweetie -- who is portrayed by the lower case "k" -- had to confront her dad about throwing away her important things (earlier that day I had thrown away some old, and I thought, unimportant magazines she had stored in the corner of her bedroom). Sometimes the stories are pretty wild and adventurous ... I've often found on the floor letters who have perished in the pursuit of some wild adventure or another.

When I ask Abby to let me in on what transpires in letter world she usually takes exception. Apparently she doesn't know what they're going to do or say until they say it. I've thought about sneaking up on her and recording the whole thing, but it just seemed like an untoward invasion of her privacy (and theirs!). Sweetie and company made an exception to their strict confidentiality policy and allowed me to take this here photograph.

The saga continues even as I type ... and from the sound of things, there will be some dead letters on the kitchen floor this afternoon.
Who knows ... maybe this is how Harper Lee or JK Rowling got started!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

who i am ...

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog! --Emily Dickenson

I thought about creating a section that would be just about me so everybody will know ... what? How awesome I am? How ordinary or cool or smart?

So maybe I won't say that much. Emily didn't leave me much choice did she? I'm either a nobody or a frog ... I think I'll hold out for a third option.

Here's an interesting exercise ... take the last word in the last line of the last verse of the poem and slide an "L" into it. Kinda makes you wonder ...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Old Friends ...

THOUGH you are in your shining days,
Voices among the crowd
And new friends busy with your praise,
Be not unkind or proud,
But think about old friends the most:
Time’s bitter flood will rise,
Your beauty perish and be lost
For all eyes but these eyes.

--WB Yeats

I recently reconnected with a couple of old friends. By "old" I don't mean their ages ... they're the same age as me and I ain't OLD ... (right?). The friendships are old -- and in a time when friendship doesn't seem to have much longevity, it is cool to find an old friend.

We're not near each other, my old friends and I ... one is in Italy and the other in Taiwan. Yet, I've had some very heartening (virtual) chats through e-mail, blogs and the like. I guess it's a pretty sad commentary on modern life that I feel a closer connection to these distant friends than I do to many of the people close by ... a little sad, but comforting nonetheless.

Thanks Seamus and Sue for being Old Friends with me!

The Glory of the Mundane ...

Woke up this morning after having slept a full eight hours (which almost never happens) still feeling tired and unmotivated ... unprepared to dive into the morning routine.

Then I remembered something I once heard a preacher say. Now I had heard this preacher a number of times before and I've heard him a couple of times since and he's hardly ever said anything I thought worth remembering or repeating except this one time. He said that miracles happen all the time ... tiny ones that are virtually imperceptible unless you have tuned your soul to revel in the little things, to recognize that there is glory in the mundane.

That's a good thought for me this morning ... The sun rose as it always does. I get to see my children off to school, my wife off to work. We're all healthy and happy -- sheltered clothed and safe in a world where most people are none of the above.

Miraculous. Glorious. I'm grateful

Read a quote from David Frost this morning ... talking about a particular individual he said:

"He's turned his life around. He used to be miserable and depressed, now he's depressed and miserable."

Well, I know that guy ... shamefully, I often AM that guy. But not today!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


So I've had this novel (or it maybe a screenplay or a collection of short stories or a mere aimless diversion) swimming around in my mind for about 14 years. It has thus far defied all my efforts to put pen to paper so I thought maybe I'd just try putting some thoughts here. Could be the makings of the next great American Novel ... or a highly acclaimed TV mini-series ... but even if it's just a way to pass time and shoot the breeze, it's probably worth a go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Too Much Nickelodeon!

So ...I had two dreams last night/this morning. In the first, I was in my high school caferteria waiting in line with my tray. It was fish sticks day ... I LOVE fishsticks. Only the line was extra long mainly because the caf was staffed by all the characters from my daughter's favorite tv shows -- Dora the Explorer, Blue, Spongebob etc. Just as I got to the front of the line, Dora came in and took the last 9 fishsticks. Now, girfriend probably deserved them ... it's difficult to bus tables in a crowded caferteria when you're two and a half feet tall and one-dimensional ... but I was LIVID. I took a cup of luke warm gravy which had suddenly appeared in my hand and threw it in her face.I woke up horrified at my behavior... but not too horrified to go back to sleep ...Whereupon I had another dream. This time, I was in a hotel, screaming at a housekeeper who was taking to long to make my bed and pick-up my used towels ... and did I mention that she didn't have any HANDS!!!
Now, I don't usually take dreams too seriously, but there seems to be a theme developing here. It might just have been the teaspoon a chocolate cake frosting I snuck out of the fridge at 3:00AM, but I must entertain the distinct possibility that someone we know needs to renew his Chill Pill perscription!

From my ol' pals Paul and Art ...

I am just a poor boy and my story's seldom told
I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.
All lies and jest, still the man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest ...

Not sure exactly what it means, but it feels like ... well ... how I feel. I guess this is as good a place as any to empty my pockets and see if I can make some sense out of it all.
In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of ever glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his pain,
"I am leaving, I am leaving," but the fighter still remains.