Thursday, March 25, 2010

Breakfast in America

Last weekend I took the boy Judah up to the mountains for his first skiing lesson. Because he is a direct descendant of mine, of course he picked it up naturally and schussed past many a fallen skier. One of my many proud moments in fatherhood.

And because I wanted him to get a double dose of ski lessons, I made a plan for us to stay at the nearby cabin owned by our neighbor, so we wouldn't have to make the drive from LA twice. We had a fun time watching "The Jungle Book 2", making a fire in the fireplace, and generally chilling out after a long day on the slopes.

The next morning we lounged around in pajamas, but Judah was getting antsy to explore the outside of the cabin. The sliding glass door leading to the balcony was calling his name, and he was calling back by pounding on the glass. Not wanting to contain the lad any longer, or have him break the glass, I clicked the door lock and attempted to slide open the door. No go. It was being held shut by a security pin at the bottom of the door. I slid the pin up, slid the door open, and we walked out to the deck. I closed the door behind us to keep the heat where it belonged - inside.

Judah had a good time taking fallen branches and scraping chunks from the pile of snow on the balcony, then throwing said snow at his dad. It was sunny and probably 45 degrees, so it was bearable in our jammies. But I was running out of coffee and starting to get chilly, so I told Judah we better head back inside. I grabbed the sliding door and pulled on it, but it didn't budge. I pulled again. The door only moved a few centimeters and stopped. The pin. The pin at the bottom of the door fell into the hole when I closed it. Brilliant.

When I informed Judah of our situation, he basically ordered me to open the door. At least he appeared to think the situation wasn't as dire as I thought. I looked at him in his little Paul Frank pajamas and wondered how long it would be before he was crying because it was too cold. I tried a few times to pull the door open that few centimeters and poke a stick in the gap in hopes that I could lift the pin. But there was no way I could even see the pin.

I rocked the door back and forth a few times to see if the pin would lift up. I guess my brute strength got away from me, my attempts intensifying until finally the door made a pop sound and slid open. I grabbed Judah by the hand and went inside and closed the door. I looked down at the pin area and saw that the sheath holding the pin in place was bent all to hell. But lucky for me I'd brought my Leatherman along for the trip and I was able to bend it back into place. Good as new. Sorta. I put the cabin keys into one pocket and my phone into the other. Another one of my many proud moments in fatherhood.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

It was a St. Patrick's Day party, one with adults drinking Guinness and kids drinking juice boxes. My kid ran over to me saying "Dada, dada! Let's play baseball!" He had a gray plastic kid-sized bat in one hand and a fluorescent green tennis ball in the other. I put down my bottle of beer and grabbed the ball from Judah. I threw a slow, underhand pitch to him and he hit it fairly well, knocking it to the tree on my left.

I threw it to Judah again and again, and his batting average was starting to blow my mind. Probably somewhere around .400. Not bad for a four-year-old who doesn't visit the batting cages very often, or at all. I thought it was time to stop when he hit the ball toward the windows of the garage and knocked over some decorative bamboo poles. But some of the other kids saw how much fun he was having, so they started to congregate next to him.

I told Judah we'd better put the baseball bat down so we don't break anything, but he wanted one more swing of the bat before handing it over to the others. I threw it to him and he hit the ball solidly and it nailed me right in the crotch. One other kid ran over yelling "My turn! my turn!" Yeah, right. Like I was gonna allow that to happen again. I was taking my ball and going home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wait a Minute, Mister Postman

A few weeks ago on a Saturday I was out running errands with the boy Judah. Most of the time that involves either going to the bank or going to the post office. Sometimes it's both.

I've got a stack of envelopes and I pull up to the drive-up mail deposit box and throw a bunch of envelopes into the slot. Easy enough. Then I run some other errands like buying coffee beans, and so on. Exciting stuff.

Then we drive to the bank and get out and walk over to the area where you fill out the deposit slips. I've got a few checks, so I start filling out the deposit slip, and then I notice that one of the larger checks is missing. And then it hits me: The check went into the mail slot with the rest of the envelopes.

By this time, it was getting close to Judah's soccer practice, and he loves his soccer practice. And after soccer practice the post office would surely be closing early for the weekend. So I called Lily to tell her that I dropped the check in the mailbox, and hopefully she'd be able to pick it up.

Out of the goodness of her heart, she went to the post office as soon as she could, with the baby girl in tow, and the nice people at the post office were so kind as to open the box up and find the check for us. Hooray!

That little lesson was short-lived because I did it again yesterday. At least this time I realized I dropped the check in the mailbox as soon as I drove off. I did a u-turn and pulled back into the green-strip 30 minute street parking area in front of the Culver City post office, after being yelled at by an elderly man getting out of his SUV that had a handicapped placard hanging from the rearview mirror.

Luckily the standard 20-person line wasn't happening, so I only had to wait through two people before it was my turn. I went up to the counter and told the dreadlocked postal worker that I accidentally dropped my check in the box outside. His already deadpan face went more deadpan as he swiveled his chair around without saying a word. He disappeared from sight for a bit and I wondered if he just decided to leave. I probably would if I were him. But he reappeared with the key and made his way from behind the counter to go outside.

As he walked by, the smell of pachouli invaded my nostrils. "Which one?" he asked. "The middle one" I replied. He opened the bottom of the box and pulled out a white bin that the mail falls into. I always imagined those mailboxes crammed full of mail, but this one wasn't even half full. Or was it half empty? Anyway, he started flipping through envelopes and I reached out to flip through some too. He stopped, looked me in the eye and said "You CAN'T touch the mail" in a very serious, commanding tone. I folded my hands behind my back, as if to show him I understood the seriousness.

It appeared that hunching over for 10 seconds and flipping through envelopes was hurting his back, because he muttered "I can't do this" and stormed back inside the post office. I followed, keeping my hands folded behind my back. He put the bin onto a table and started flipping through again. He muttered "gah, another bin" and went behind the counter to get another bin.

When he returned, he started tossing groups of envelopes into the 2nd bin. "Did the check have a stamp on it?" he asked. "No" I replied, thinking he meant "did you intend to mail this check?" He dumped more envelopes into the 2nd bin. "I'm only gonna look for envelopes without a stamp" he stated as I wondered how the hell he was going to see anything through the blur of envelopes descending before us.

I told him "Okay, it's around here, cuz those are my wife's stamps." And next to those was my check, which was stamped from the employer mailing it to me. I pointed at it, so's not to touch any mail. His face went even more deadpan. "So it DID have a stamp on it" he said as he handed me the check. He dumped the rest of the mail into the 2nd bin. "Thanks" I said while hurrying out of there in what was probably one notch below actual running.

If there's one lesson learned, a rule of thumb, that would be: Go to the bank first, then the mailbox.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Talk Talk

A while back I was editing a music video for a new director. He wanted me to edit at his studio, so I'd go there at night after my day job. On a nightly basis I'd meet some random new person I hadn't met before, all of them young fashionable kids who seemed fresh out of art school. 25 years old, maybe 27 tops, but nobody appeared to be anywhere close to my age.

Then one night I went in and saw one guy sitting at a computer who looked like he could have been 60 years old. More telling than his age, he seemed out of place with his level of cleanliness. He was disheveled in a way that looked like he might not have showered in a week, and his clothes probably hadn't seen a washer in a while either. Luckily he didn't stink.

Being the polite and friendly guy I am, I went over and introduced myself. Mainly to find out what his role at the studio was, because my noodle was having a hard time making sense of his presence in the studio. He turned around and shook my hand (which I kept away from everything until I could get to some sanitizing gel) and he told me his deal.

He launched into stories about how he used to be into computers and how he had a real estate business, and that's when I noticed at least 3 of his front teeth were missing. I couldn't get a word in edgewise as he told me about his furniture making companies and how his wife left him and finally we got to the place I knew we were heading: He was homeless.

Apparently the director had just met him on the street that night, and the director hired him to make silkscreens and tatoo logos all over Venice. I figured I had enough info to make sense of the situation and to get back on track with trying to get work done. But the guy never took a pause long enough to escape politely. It's then that I put two and two together and figured the guy was probably a lot younger than he looked because he was a meth burnout.

Finally I was rescued by the director, who had been giving instructions to one of the art school graduates. He turned around and said "Hey could you guys keep the conversation down? I can't even hear what I'm saying here." Yeah. You guys. Plural. I don't think I'd voiced a single word since "Hi, I'm Lee". It was all meth beast from that point on.

I said "Excuse me, I think I better get to work" and I went upstairs. While I was editing, all I could hear was the homeless guy rattling on about this and that, and when somebody played a new wave tune from the 80s he said "Right on man, is that Pink Floyd or somethin?" The director shouted downstairs to the guy that he was going to have to stop talking or he'd be kicked out of the studio. He was booted shortly thereafter. Surprise surprise.