There is a word for it

Definition: the emotion a parent feels when their 16-year old daughter returns home from a weekend at a boy-laden rock festival in a city three hours away, happy, thorn-scratched, sunburnt, exhausted, hungry, filthy, robbed of sleeping bag and backpack (including contents) but not purse(+more important contents such as phone, ID, money, etc), long hair wild and glamorous and full of twigs, a goofy smile on her face and glad to be home.

Relief might be the word.

Or gratitude. Thanks for watching out for my kid, universe! And for the dozens of stories you gave her!

As others have said, this is the deal. If you do a good job, they leave. If you do a really good job, they come back. Now and then, at least.

Her sister’s still in the States. She’ll come back too, eventually. I hope.

We have her cat.

Her early-rising cat.

It’s fence-painting season. It’s Gamma’s summer job this year. I keep forgetting to tell her the Tom Sawyer story, but it’s just as well, I can’t imagine any other kids doing as good a job as she does.

Meanwhile, I found myself in a cloud of mosquitos yesterday evening trying to get the pool set up, because my wife wants her pool set up, and also it would be nice if Gamma could jump in when she gets hot out painting the fence.

Definition: the period of time in which a person forgets how the hoses connecting the pool to the filter and pump are connected; equivalent to the time from the end of pool season one year to the beginning of the next pool season the following year.

Imagine me standing there in a tie-dyed T-shirt and old running shorts, slapping mosquitos, staring at the pump, then the pool, then the hose in my hand, trying to grok the nature of this set-up. Eventually I do, of course, I am actually not bad at this sort of stuff, but this is where the fun part begins.

The pool is almost full, just a few more inches to the inlet/outlet holes. I turn on the hose, do stuff around the house, write myself a postit note to turn off the hose before I leave, and go to work. At lunchtime I call Gamma and tell her to turn off the hose and ask her if anything is flooding or leaking.

Flooding no, leaking yes, she says.

When I get home in the evening, I change back into my pool assembly clothes and reality morphs into a version of the cake factory episode of I Love Lucy only instead of cakes moving ever faster down a conveyor belt, I find ever more new leaks. I replace a leaking hose with a new one. I tape up another hose, but I can’t find duct tape and the packing tape I use does not stop the leak and looks decidedly white trashy so I cut more fresh hose but before I can take off the old hose I have to drain the pool below the outlet, so I get a pump  into the pool and water the garden.

All of this is done, by the way, with Beta’s cat walking in a figure eight around and between my feet.

I also tighten every screw on the pump and filter that can be tightened, and that stops a lot of the leaks too. Ditto the screws on the leaking skimmer thing on the pool.

Yes, then the water is down and the new hose goes on and the pool gets filled back up and I’m done.

Kind of wet, and covered in mosquito bites, but done. As happy and relieved as a girl arriving home from a pop music festival.

Take the stairs to the shrimp box

Shrimp box is in a much better mood now that the kid is home from Hungary. The rains have started, cold rains that make the doorbell hum until it catches fire, so he took it apart preemptively, feeling a little like a bomb squad guy; and the gray cat has disappeared, and his wife (Shrimp box’s wife) is still in Japan, and his other daughter is in Vienna living her life, but the kid is home. He makes fruit salad for breakfast, honey dew melon and peach, and the kid eats some cereal too because she had missed cereal in Hungary, where her family stuffed her with everything else but cereal.

Shrimp box is glad to have meaning in his life again.

He wonders about the tortoise, and will it have to come inside now that it is getting colder and wetter.

Shrimp box listens to a video on Vimeo while taking a shower. He wanted drone music, but it turns out to be more metallic, and only by a band called Drone. Oh well. It sounds as if the vocalist is hollering ‘take the stairs to the shrimp box’ and Shrimp box decides to change his name to Shrimp box and to write a song with absurd lyrics, since he never understands song lyrics anyway.

The kid is so happy to have access to coffee again. Apparently Hungarian children do not drink it. She talks a lot in the car on the way to town.

‘I was reading old blog posts,’ Shrimp box says. ‘When I came home from America after going to my father’s funeral, you said, Boy am I glad you’re home, I forgot what you looked like. I only remembered that you had white hair, and that you’re nice.’

‘I said that?’ the kid is bemused.

The rain gradually peters out and stops entirely during their drive into town.

Hello, green grasshopper

We had a big green grasshopper in the living room a couple nights ago. Naturally it kept jumping on Gamma, who currently has what I imagine is a temporary case of acridophobia, the fear of having big green grasshoppers jumping on you. I caught him with a dish and a  newspaper (directions: while grasshopper is distracted reading the paper, put the dish over him) and put him into the hanging basket outside.

The following day, I was going to the kids’ apartment in Vienna after work to pick up Gamma to give her a ride home when I noticed a green grasshopper on the dashboard. It was a different one, I think. It looked smaller.

Hello, green grasshopper, I said.

I hoped it wouldn’t jump into my face while I drove and cause an accident.

I decided I would catch it when I got to the apartment and put it in a plant.

But it was so quiet I forgot it was there. Also I distracted myself thinking about how, in the 1980s, my first decade of adulthood, I thought everyone was crazy who bought the idea that deregulating anything was a good idea and how the past 30 years have proven me right and regulations were put in place for a reason and why not just take mean dogs off their leashes and take off their muzzles and say, go for it, dogs? Time to put a little more trickle in the trickle down.

So my mind was not on grasshoppers when I got where I was going.

Also I was thinking about how blogging is dead, personal blogging like this, I mean, now that everyone is on facebook, only you can’t write the way I write here on facebook, at least I can’t.

I got Gamma and we were driving along and something green flew past and Gamma was all, eek! And I was all, what? And she was all, IT’S ON YOU! and I was all, what? And she was all, green! Green grasshopper! And I was all, oh, right.

It was on my shoulder so I rolled down the window and threw it out (we were at a light) and it flew into some trees.

In the direction of the trees, at least. Up, for example.

Little green grasshopper.

Careers in Science: Selenology

What is the air speed of a swallow?

Tired of quoting from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to his teenaged daughter on their commutes into town, the selenologist orders a DVD online. When it comes in the mail, he opens a couple bottles of Radler, which he calls Kinderbier and watches it with her.

He tries to give her some context as she churns through information on her smartphone while watching and talking to him.

“When I was your age, we could do only one thing at a time. We had to get our information from books and our movies in cinemas.”

“Ja, ja.”

Here in Castle Anthrax, we have but one punishment…

“We watched this movie over and over and recited it and watched it until we knew it by heart.”

He looks at the box. “This was made in 1975. Thirty-seven years ago.” He repeats the word thirty-seven several times at different speeds.

“Thirty-seven years ago, the world was a different place. Telephones still had rotary dials, anyone could change a headlight bulb, and I was exactly your age. Okay, roughly. One year older maybe. But without your grace. Anyway we went to movies, mostly. Luis Bunuel, Monty Python, whatever. Different things.”

“Okay.”

None shall pass.

She laughs a few times, this makes him feel better because he didn’t remember the movie being this slow.

“Geeze. Thirty seven years ago, time moved differently. In my memory, the movie doesn’t drag on like this.”

The status update his daughter posted two minutes ago has seven likes and two comments.

Your father smells of elderberries.

“I have to watch Sound of Music someday, too. Being American and Austrian, and living in Austria, I mean.”

“Totally. Like, you’re like a trifecta or something, only without whatever third element would make it a trifecta.”

“Huh?”

“Forget it.”

“Anyway, this movie is engraved on the brains of a generation. I wanted you to see it so you would understand.”

“Okay.”

I’m not dead yet.

Based on a true story

I took a long drag on my Nicorette inhaler and immediately suffered a coughing fit.  The Dalai Lama sat down next to me.

“Could I bum one of those off you?” he said.

Eyes watering, I waved the Nicorette inhaler in front of me. “It’s the only one I got,” I finally said. “You’re welcome to it, though, Your Holiness.”

“Please,” he patted me on the knee. “Call me Dalai.” He showed me his inhaler. “I already got one. I just need the little nicotine fluid thingamajig. Ran out of those.”

I gave him one and we sat there for a while, puffing away.

“You can’t inhale too deeply at first,” he said.

“Yeah, I figured that out,” I said. “My kid gave me these for my birthday.”

“Oh, when’s your birthday?” he asked.

I made a generic waving motion at the day around us. “Today,” I said.

“Happy birthday!”

“Thanks.”

“So how old are you, if you don’t mind my asking?”

I pointed at the sidebar over on the right.

“Wow, you’ve been blogging a long time.”

“I was one of the first,” I said.

“Respect,” said the Dalai Lama.

“By the way,” he said, wiggling his Nicorette inhaler. “You don’t need to tell anyone about this.”

I motioned locking up my mouth and throwing away the key. “Mum’s the word.”

“I mean, I know about you bloggers.”

“Dalai, please,” I said. “Take a chill pill. Quitting making you antsy?”

“Ehn. Looking for a reincarnation.”

“Who is it this time?”

“You wouldn’t know if I told you,” he said.

“True, true,” I said. “So what signs are you looking for?”

“Remembers drowning in a past life. Trips over shoelaces at an ice cream parlor and falls on face without losing ice cream.”

“Okay,” I said. “That’s like ninja-level slapstick.”

“Here’s the kicker – it’s a girl. Who gives her father Nicorettes for his birthday.”

“Aight. Okay. I’ll keep a lookout.”

He was looking at me funny, but I ignored him. I wasn’t going to tell him.

Not until he spilled the beans on whose reincarnation he was looking for.

Extra credit

See, the morning rants on the way to town are not in vain.

In school recently, teacher asks So who can explain the differences between a planned economy and a free market economy?

And Gamma raised her hand and explained, because we had just been talking about it.

And what conclusion can you draw from that? the teacher asked.

After the revolution the rich will be lined up against the wall and pew-pew-pew, is what Gamma did not say, because that’s still a secret she can think for herself. No, she said something achieving an optimal mix of the two.

Of course, if the teacher asks about the benefits of nonsensical, complicated technologies designed to generate a stream of revenue rather than any actual customer benefit, my morning sermons will be less useful.

The perfect way to spend St. Patrick’s Day

Watch the music videos Gamma and I have made:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6D425DBE5B6623E

Maybe don’t watch them all at once. They could, potentially, get a little monotonous. Gamma thinks maybe I ought to try a little structure.