They remodeled the gym. All the machines for spinning flywheels and driving up your heart rate – the rowing machines, the stair machines, the cross trainer machines and the stationary bicycles – are way upstairs now (and no elevator!). The good part is they have two televisions, one on the left side, one on the right. So now I can watch TV when I get my cardio workout.

Or I could, if I could figure out the remote control mechanism.

Late Sunday night my wife and I were at the gym. My wife was a floor lower down in an odd-looking contraption she swears works. I went upstairs. The room was empty but for a hot blonde in cutting edge workout wear pedaling away in front of the left-hand television. There was a movie on. You have a TV, you know which one I’m talking about. That black guy from Wild Wild West was dragging an alien across the desert and encountered a bunch of Winnebagos.

I stared at my dark television set for a while as I did the cross trainer thing. Then I got up enough courage to try to turn on my set. I figured I’d watch the same thing, so the soundtracks didn’t clash. But no remote control.

“It’s over here,” she said. “There’s only one for both TVs.”

I thanked her, pointed it at my set and promptly turned hers off.

“Sorry,” I said. Did I say it was dark in the room? She hadn’t turned the lights on. Without the television, I couldn’t even read the buttons on the remote control.

The view out the window was interesting – the local cemetery. Most fitness clubs I’ve worked out in had views of cemeteries for some reason. One was next door to a mortuary.

I finally surrendered the device to her. She was kind enough to turn on my set for me just in time to see an alien vivisection.

Boy was it pissed off!

Dress code

“Aren’t you hot in a suit?”
“Why do you wear a suit if it’s hot?”
“It’s required. I have to wear a suit at my job.”
“You should go to daycare. We can wear whatever we want!”
“I’ll think about it.”

Do not adjust your mind set

She doesn’t have a TV at the moment.

Neither do we. No special reason. We just never got one when we moved into our house ten years ago. Our older daughter feels superior, or at least part of a small elite. Our younger daughter throws tantrums every time we walk past an appliance store without finally buying one.

[Via eeksy-peeksy]

Pest and cholera

She got to pick out her own clothes this morning, so she’s wearing a party dress. It’s diaphanous and a little short on her because she’s finally growing and the wind whips it around her knees. She wants to feed ducks. She knows we have two old rolls no one will eat.

So we walk to the bridge. It’s the wrong time of day; I’m still disoriented from lunch and the light makes everything look dangerous and I have to squint and the streets are empty. The wind whips her dress around her knees and her long hair is ratty-looking from the wind, with several large clumps of glitter from a cosmetic set someone gave her sometime. Barely six and already I can’t keep track of her cosmetics.

No ducks are in the water. It’s too hot. Wind blows green summer scum upstream. She looks for a space in the railing without any spiderwebs, but between each pair of bars there is another web dotted with mosquitos and gnats and small lacy-winged things. “Why are there so many spiders here?” she asks. I tell her I guess it’s a good place to catch little bugs on account of the prevailing wind.

She leans her scooter against the railing, it falls down. I mess with it for a while getting it into a position where it will lean there without falling over, until finally leaving it lying there on the sidewalk. She didn’t want to come by bike. She’s postponing that decision. Actually, it’s like this. This morning she decided not to try to learn. I understand her perfectly. It’s not a choice between riding a bike and not riding. Like any real choice, it’s a choice between two anxiety-producing alternatives. In German this is called a choice between “Pest und Cholera” – between the plague and cholera.

In this case, the alternatives are not being able to ride a bike, and learning to ride one, one humiliating, the other scary and painful.

Like her dad, she usually opts for the status quo, no matter how absurd in the long run, although she can surprise you.

We find some clunky black ducks with white heads and red on them in the shade on the bank under the bridge and throw them bits of stale roll. She has to stand on her tiptoes to toss them over the railing.

After this we spend some time at the playground. I get her going good on the merry-go-round and sit in the shade to look at the Sunday paper. She wants to go on the seesaw, so I stop the merry-go-round and do the seesaw with her, with her at the end of her side and me up near the fulcrum on my side. After this she swings for a while, then I somehow talk her into going home.

PS to the naked guy who lives between my house and the gym: Get some curtains, man

So I painted the upstairs hallway today and part of the stairwell going down. Taking a break out on the patio with my wife and my eldest daughter, who has been ill and a little odd lately, prone to saying things like “your head doesn’t go with the rest of your body. I don’t know exactly why, it just doesn’t, somehow,” I had a drink of water and tried out my painting joke on them.

“When I was a boy dreaming of living in Europe and painting, I somehow imagined it differently,” I said.

They looked at me kindly.

“I have it!” my daughter said. “It’s not as hairy as the rest of your body!”


Whereas Degas painted the dancing girls, I get to paint a hallway yellow this weekend; a hallway and a stairwell and I can’t say I expect to feel any less satisfaction than he probably did. I enjoy painting.

My daughter who is sick woke me up at about three this morning because mosquitos bit her 20 times the previous night and I told her to wake me up next time she heard them and I’d swat them for her. I couldn’t find the mosquito, though, although I heard it once as it flew past my head, laughing a mosquito’s high-pitched laugh. So I swatted a fly sleeping on the ceiling. It may have had ties to *l-Qua*da. It may have sought to acquire uranium in Africa.

You never know about flies.

Then I went back to bed, glad I didn’t have to hunt burglars.

Cause I hunted burglars the night before last. It was the typical scenario – middle of the night, windy. You hear a burglar noise and walk through the house doing kung fu moves as you round corners and pass through doorways, all the while telling yourself, “It’s only the wind” and recalling simultaneously that’s what people tell each other in horror movies just before the monster/guy in the hockey mask/Texan with the chainsaw gets them. You find nothing, then go back to bed.

Except I found the front door unlocked. I probably forgot to lock it, which is out of character for me, a compulsive door-locker (thanks mom).

I went back to bed and had a bad dream about getting stuck in a car outside an inn that was also a church and a cemetary, throwing the car into reverse although visibility was bad and knocking over a stone structure that had some religious and/or historical significance, and got caught by the innkeeper before I could get away.

Then I woke up, made coffee and realized the thing I had knocked over had the same emotional charge, for me, as our old coffee maker, which leaked. My wife replaced it the same day, although I didn’t tell her anything about that.

Talk about mental telepathy.