Friday, May 31, 2019

May 31: Ound, Whale Questions, Ray

And now, something about the death of a whale (no, we're not going back to Moby-Dick) . . .

Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all possibility a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.

And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whole before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.

This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.

Ah . . .!  What's happening? it thought.

Er, excuse me, who am I?


Why am I here?  What's my purpose in life?

What do I mean by who am I?

Calm down, get a grip now . . .oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it?  It's a sort of . . . yawning, tingling sensation in my . . . my . . . well, I suppose I'd better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let's call it my stomach.

Good.  Ooooh, it's getting quite strong.  And hey, what about this whistling roaring sound going past what I'm suddenly going to call my head?  Perhaps I can call that . . . wind!  Is that a good name?  It'll do . . . perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I've found out what it's for.  It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it.  Hey!  What's this thing?  This . . . let's call it a tail--yeah, tail.  Hey!  I can really thrash it about pretty good, can't I?  Wow!  Wow!  That feels great!  Doesn't seem to achieve very much but I'll probably find out what it's for later on.  Now, have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?


Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to.  I'm quite dizzy with anticipation.

Or is it the wind?

There really is a lot of that now, isn't there?

And wow!  Hey!  What's this thing suddenly coming toward me very fast?  Very, very fast.  So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide-sounding name like . . .ow . . ound . . . round . . . ground!  That's it!  That's a good name--ground!

I wonder if it will be friends with me?

And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.

There are many things that make a person reevaluate their lives, ask the whale-big questions like "Who am I?" and "Why am I here" and "What is my purpose?"  Being born is one of those things, I suppose.  Babies coming to terms with no longer being in utero, having to begin the messy work of breathing and crying and being hungry.  Then there's starting kindergarten and all the separation anxiety that goes along with that.  Of course there's the whole falling in love and getting married, which makes a person re-prioritize goals and ambitions.  Then becoming a parent, which again forces an examination of goals and ambitions.  And, of course, there's high school graduation.

I am writing this post one day after I sat in a gymnasium and watched my daughter matriculate from her high school.  I will say this about the experience:  it was wonderful and awful at the same time.  I loved celebrating the success of my little girl, everything that she has accomplished in the first twelve years of her schooling.  That was the wonderful part.  Then there was sitting in the bleachers, feeling like I was attending the wake of my daughter's childhood.  That was the awful part.

Now, if you are one of the faithful readers of this blog, you are probably rolling your eyes, thinking, "Oh my God, he's going to write about his daughter again!  He needs to get over himself and move on!"  I understand that reaction.  After all, the whole month of May, I have been preoccupied with all of these last-days-of-high-school moments.  On the other hand, if I was writing a Christmas blog, would you tell me, "All you talk about is Christmas trees and Christmas presents and Christmas movies!!  Why can't you say something about Halloween or Kwanzaa???!!!"  This blog is about my life, and my life (and heart) has been full of my daughter.  So, yes, this is going to be another post about my first born receiving her diploma.

It's also going to be about the passing of a person I knew and admired.  When I was in high school, I had the good fortune of knowing a man named Ray.  Ray was a grade ahead of me, and he was one of the funniest, warmest, most talented people that I have ever known.  Ray's main passion was drama club.  He was a highlight in almost every school play and musical.  When he graduated high school, he carried that passion with him into college, and he became a mainstay in the local university's productions.  He went on to be a theater professor, passing on his love of the stage to another generation of young people.  I'm going to steal a phrase here, but it really is true--everybody loved Raymond.

It has been many years since I have seen Ray.  Probably over a decade.  Yet, I always thought that the world was a better place because he was in it.  Simply put, he was a really good guy.  Yesterday, I found out that Ray had died.  That has made me even more reflective about the passage of time and the importance of always living the best life possible.  Taking advantage of every possible minute.

My daughter just walked out the door with her boyfriend to attend a classmate's graduation party.  She was a little exhausted from yesterday's events, but she was also really happy.  Her whole life is stretching out before her, full of all kinds of possibilities.  I want to tell her that, whether she's a anesthesiologist or a kindergarten teacher or a short order cook, she needs to understand what's really important.  It's not money or travel or fame or prestige.

No, it's about living life like Ray did.  Pursuing your passion,  Being kind to everyone.  Leaving each person you encounter a little happier.  Making the world a better place because you existed.

That's the best way to answer those big questions.

Who am I?  I am Saint Marty.

Why am I here?  Saint Marty is here to be a poet, teacher, husband, and father.

What is my purpose?  Saint Marty's purpose is somehow to be a light in the window on a dark night.

Rest in peace, Ray.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

May 30: Saved Our Lives, Graduation Day, Life Lessons

How improbability can save lives . . .

"Well, I was just saying," said Arthur, lounging by a small fish pond, "there's this Improbability Drive switch over here . . ." he waved at where it had been.  There was a potted plant there now.

"But where are we?" said Ford, who was sitting on the spiral staircase, a nicely chilled Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in his hand.

"Exactly where we were, I think . . ." said Trillian, as all about them the mirrors suddenly showed them an image of the blighted landscape of Magrathea, which still scooted along beneath them.

Zaphod leaped out of his seat.

"Then what's happened to the missiles?" he said.

A new and astounding image appeared in the mirrors.

"They would appear," said Ford doubtfully, "to have turned into a bowl of petunias and a very surprised-looking whale . . ."

"At an improbability factor," cut in Eddie,who hadn't changed a bit, "of eight million, seven hundred and sixty-seven thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight to one against . . ."

Zaphod stared at Arthur.

"Did you think of that, Earthman?" he demanded.

"Well," said Arthur, "all I did was . . ."

"That's very good thinking, you know.  Turn on the Improbability Drive for a second without first activating the proofing screens.  Hey, kid, you just saved our lives, you know that?"

"Oh," said Arthur, "well, it was nothing really . . ."

"Was it?" said Zaphod.  "Oh, well, forget it then.  Okay, computer, take us in to land."

"But . . ."

"I said forget it."

Yes, Arthur did save their lives, even if his actions were completely naive.  He saw a switch, thought there was nothing to lose, and flipped it.  The missiles are gone, transformed into flowers and a whale, and imminent death has been banished, for the time being.

Today is the day.  The day my daughter has been working toward for twelve years.  (More like fifteen, if you count Head Start.)  The last few weeks have all been building up to this coming evening.

Of course, I've been quite . . . reflective lately.  Thinking back on all the milestones of the last twelve years.  First day of kindergarten.  First dance recital.  First school dance.  First day of middle school.  First band concert.  First choral concert.  First day of high school.  First part in a musical.

In a lot of ways, even though she doesn't know it, my daughter has saved my life, over and over and over.  She taught me how to be a better person.  When I've expressed misgivings about mistakes I've made as a parent, she's looked at me and said, "You've been a great dad."  She's forgiven all my mistakes, and she reminds me daily that I'm worth being loved.

Here are a few of the life lessons I've learned from my daughter:

  • An infant girl can pee in your face during diaper changes.
  • It doesn't really matter what you get your daughter for Christmas or her birthday.  As long as she can see love in your eyes, she will think that gift is a rainbow-colored unicorn that can fly.
  • Let your daughter be angry in her bedroom.  Being angry is okay, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.  Ditto sadness.  All feelings are okay and shouldn't be ignored.
  • In the morning, don't speak to your daughter until she speaks to you.
  • Sometimes, you have to let your daughter pick her school outfit, even if she looks like she's just raided Goodwill and the Halloween store when she gets on the bus.
  • It's okay to let your daughter eat spaghetti for breakfast.
  • Your daughter won't care if it's bedtime, as long as you have a good book to read to her.  (I highly recommend Charlotte's Web.)
  • Your daughter wants you to believe in Santa Claus as long as possible, even when she has her doubts.
  • Tell your daughter she's beautiful, every day of her life.
  • Make sure your have the best gift bags for your daughter's friends at her birthday parties.  Also make sure to include chocolate and something that makes noise--whistles, harmonicas, and horns are acceptable.
  • Remind your daughter every once in a while that boys are stupid.  This will make both her and you feel better.
  • On hot summer days, let your daughter throw buckets of water on herself and run through lawn sprinklers, even if she's fully clothed. 
  • When your daughter says she wants to be a ballerina, enroll her in dance lessons.  If she wants to play piano, find a piano teacher.  If she declares that she's an artist, go out and buy her paints and drawing pencils and a lot of paper.  Never discourage her dreams.
  • Let your daughter eat as much turkey loaf as she wants, even if it means that you have to have Rice Krispies for dinner.
  • Set curfews, even if they upset your daughter.  It will remind her that you love her.
  • Watch Harry Potter movie marathons with your daughter.  (You may substitute Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or The Hunger Games--the series doesn't matter as much as the time you spend together and the quality of the snacks.)
  • Love and respect your daughter's mother--it teaches your daughter what to expect from a life partner.
  • Try to pretend you REALLY like your daughter's boyfriend that you, in actuality, hate.  It will end their relationship much sooner (I have failed on this one a couple of times.)
  • Hang your daughter's graduation gown on a hangar.  Steam it a few times.  You don't want her looking like an unmade bed at her graduation ceremony.
  • Put lots of Kleenex in your pockets before you go to dance recitals, award ceremonies, choral concerts, band concerts, school plays and musicals, and graduations.
Those are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom I have collected over the past 18 years.

My daughter has seen me at my very worst, when I was struggling so much that I could barely see sunlight.  Love is too small a word to apply to her.  It doesn't begin to capture all that she's given me.  And now I have to learn the hardest life lesson . . .

Saint Marty has to open his fingers and let go.

May 30: Beginnings, Daddy/Daughter Date, "In the Beginning"

On this day of my daughter's graduation, I've been thinking a lot about her beginnings.

I'm taking my daughter out to lunch in a few minutes.  Some place local where she loves to eat.  It will be just her and me.  A daddy/daughter date.  She will probably order breakfast, just like me, even though it will be past noon. 

Saint Marty isn't quite at the graduation party yet.

In the Beginning

by:  Martin Achatz

Celeste rolls on the carpet
like dice that won't pause
on green felt, won't give
me the satisfaction
of 3 or 6, 1 or 5.
There is too much in her
knee-and-wall world to touch, too
many snakes with cardboard wings,
neon troikas plastered with words--
apple, cow, star.  When I speak to her,
she studies me, tries to unravel
my dictionary of sound.
Can I teach her to love language
the way lightning loves redwoods?
What will her first word be?
Will she shock me
with hamster, fridge, triangle?  Will
she point out the window, say
wind?  Will she sing the world,
the way Christ sang when He slid
from Mary's iron-taut uterus,
tasted her blood, saw Joseph radiant
with sweat?  Will Celeste's mouth open,
flood waters pour out, 40 days
and nights, preparing the world
for the rainbow of her tongue?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 29: What the Hell Happened, How It Began, Lasts

Things are about to get improbable again . . .

And the next thing that happened after that was that the Heart of Gold continued on its way perfectly normally with a rather fetchingly redesigned interior.  It was somewhat larger, and done out in delicate pastel shades of green and blue.  In the center a spiral staircase, leading nowhere in particular, stood in a spray of ferns and yellow flowers and next to it a stone sundial pedestal housed the main computer terminal.  Cunningly deployed lighting and mirrors created the illusion of standing in a conservatory overlooking a wide stretch of exquisitely manicured garden.  Around the periphery of the conservatory area stood marble-topped tables on intricately beautiful wrought-iron legs.  As you gazed into the polished surface of the marble the vague form of instruments became visible, and as you touched them the instruments materialized instantly under your hands.  Looked at from the correct angles the mirrors appeared to reflect all the required data read-outs, thought it was far from clear where they were reflected from.  It was in fact sensationally beautiful.

Relaxing in a wickerwork sun chair, Zaphod Beeblebrox said, "What the hell happened?"

And so, instead of being blown into radioactive dust, the Heart of Gold spaceship and its motley crew (not the rock group) are in some kind of improbably alternative reality.  Plus, their lives have been saved, and their surroundings have been given a stunning face lift.  You couldn't ask for a better outcome when faced with the threat of nuclear oblivion.

My focus, though, is on Zaphod's last comment--"What the hell happened?"  Here I sit on my living room couch, typing this post.  Tomorrow night, I will be sitting in a gymnasium, watching my daughter receive her high school diploma, thinking to myself, "What the hell happened?"

In the past few weeks, there have been a lot of lasts in my daughter's life, and I've written about each and every one of them in great detail, from her Senior Awards night to her last choral/band concert.  They've been wonderful and horrible at the same time.  The finality of it all kind of takes my breath away.  After tomorrow night, everything changes for my daughter.  No turning back. 

What the hell happened?

I remember the day that we found out that my wife was pregnant with Celeste.  We had just returned from a weekend trip to New York City where we'd traipsed all over Manhattan and taken in a couple of Broadway shows.  (Cabaret and The Lion King, in case you were wondering.)  That Monday morning, my wife found a lump in her breast, and that threw us into a rushed frenzy of doctor's appointments and tests.

When my wife was asked by the radiology tech if there was a chance that she was pregnant, she said, "I don't know."  That led us down to the lab for a blood test, and then back to the radiology office to wait for the results.  After about a half hour, Beth was called into a consultation room.  A few minutes later, she came back into the waiting room smiling and crying at the same time.

That's how we found out.  We also found out that the lump in my wife's breast was an infected gland.  Nothing to worry about.  A day that began in panic and worry ended in joy and celebration.  It was one of the best days of my life.

That's what the hell happened.  On that morning, over 18 years ago, I signed on for this job--raising a little girl, reading to her, spoiling her, attending her school programs, braiding her hair after baths, planning birthday parties, bandaging skinned knees and broken hearts, watching her grow into this beautiful creature who lives in my attic now. 

I am not a huge fan of last anythings.  Last day of school.  Of my father's life.  Of my sister's life.  Of my job at the surgery center.  Of Christmas vacation.  Of summer vacation.

Of my daughter's childhood.

Saint Marty needs a glass of wine.

Monday, May 27, 2019

May 27: Memorial Day, My Father's Service, "In Memoriam"

Greetings all!

I hope you have had a relaxing Memorial Day with your friends and family.  I am not going to be talking about all the things that this day represents in the United States.  Others can do that.  Instead, I will tell you what I have done today.

This morning, I attended a short parade this morning and then a ceremony at the local cemetery.  Then, I went to leave a flag and flowers at my father's grave.  You see, he served in the Army during the Korean War.  Never saw action, but he always said it was the proudest time of his life.  There's supposed to be a plaque by his grave, honoring his service, but my brother, in his wisdom, took that plaque out to our family camp.  So my father never gets a flag on Memorial Day, except for the one I place.

Saint Marty honors his father's service this evening.

In Memoriam

by:  Martin Achatz

I take my two-year-old son
To the cemetery this Memorial Day,
Walk him around gravestones
As local war veterans conduct
A service solemn as evening rain,
As a high school band plays
Stars and Stripes Forever,
As the local Methodist pastor
Talks of ultimate sacrifice.
I remain a respectful distance away
So my son's screams won't
Disrupt the placing of wreaths,
The recognition of the Gold Star mother,
A woman whose son bled
To death in a jungle over 40 years ago.
On this day, in this place,
Her grief is fresh, delicate
As the white rose pinned
To the lapel of her jacket.
I lift my son into my arms
When I see the honor guards
Shoulder their rifles and aim.
I whisper in my son's ear,
Warn him of the noise to follow.
He still flinches, jumps
When the guns crack.
Seven of them.  Three times.
I hold my son close, as if I need
To protect him from some unseen
Enemy.  The trumpet begins
To play for the dead.  My son squirms,
Wants down, wants to run,
Collect fistfuls of dandelions.
I struggle to keep him still
Until the music ends,
Until the horn's last notes fade
In the gray morning.  My son
Kicks, pushes, yells until even
The Gold Star mother turns, looks
At us.  I surrender, put my son down.
I watch him race away from me,
Laughing among the stones,
The rows of waving flags.
Happy.  Free.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

May 26: When You Walk Through the Storm, Graduation Sunday, Incredible Hulk

How to escape a nuclear missile strike . . .

It was of course more of less at this moment the one of the crew sustained a nasty bruise to the upper arm.  This should be emphasized because, as has already been revealed, they escape otherwise completely unharmed and the deadly nuclear missiles do not eventually hit the ship.  The safety of the crew is absolutely assured.

"Impact minus twenty seconds, guys . . ." said the computer.

"Then turn the bloody engines back on!" bawled Zaphod.

"Oh, sure thing, guys," said the computer.  With a subtle roar the engines cut back in, the ship smoothly flattened out of its dive and headed back toward the missiles again.

The computer started to sing.

"'. . . When you walk through the storm . . . '" it whined nasally, "'hold you head up high . . .'"

Zaphod screamed at it to shut up, but his voice was lost in the din of what they quite naturally assumed was approaching destruction.  

"'And don't . . . be afraid . . . of the dark!'" Eddie wailed.

The ship, in flattening out, had in fact flattened out upside down and lying on the ceiling as they were it was now totally impossible for any of the crew to reach the guidance systems.

"'At the end of the storm . . .'" crooned Eddie.

The two missiles loomed massively on the screens as they thundered toward the ship.

"'. . . is a golden sky . . .'"

But by an extraordinarily lucky chance they had not yet fully corrected their flight paths to that of the erratically weaving ship, and they passed right under it.

"'And the sweet silver song of the lark.'  Revised impact time fifteen seconds, fellas . . . 'Walk on through the wind . . ."

The missiles banked round in a screeching arc and plunged back in pursuit.

"This is it," said Arthur, watching them.  "We are now quite definitely going to die, aren't we?"

"I wish you'd stop saying that," shouted Ford.

"Well, we are, aren't we?"


"'Walk on through the rain . . .'" sang Eddie.

A thought struck Arthur.  He struggled to his feet.

"Why doesn't anyone turn on this Improbability Drive thing?" he said.  "We could probably reach that."

"What are you, crazy?" said Zaphod.  "Without proper programming anything could happen."

"Does that matter at this stage?" shouted Arthur.

"'Though your dreams be tossed and blown . . ." sang Eddie.

Arthur scrambled up on to one of the excitingly chunky pieces of molded contouring where the curve of the wall met the ceiling.

"'Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart . . . '"

"Does anyone know why Arthur can't turn on the Improbability Drive?" shouted Trillian.

"'And you'll never walk alone.' . . .  Impact minus five seconds, it's been great knowing you guys.  God  bless . . .'You'll ne . . .ver . . . walk . . . alone!'"

"I said," yelled Trillian, "does anyone know . . ."

The next thing that happened was a mind-mangling explosion of noise and light.

So, that's how to avoid a nuclear warhead strike in outer space.  You have to own an Improbability Drive and a computer that sings Broadway standards.

Today was graduation Sunday at my wife's church.  We sang, dedicated the graduates, raised our hands in prayer over them, and--as my daughter used to say in her Head Start class for absent students--we wished them well.  Of course, it was difficult and emotional.  But I'm sort of getting used to that.

I've spent most of the afternoon preparing my house for the members of my Book Club, who will be showing up in about an hour-and-a-half.  I cleaned off couches and chairs.  Set up tables for snacks.  Put some Swedish meatballs in my crock pot.  Slipped the pop and wine coolers into the refrigerator to chill.  Now, the house is quiet.  My daughter is off to a classmate's graduation party, and my wife is asleep.  (She woke up this morning, thinking she has strep throat.  Went to the walk-in clinic and got some antibiotics. )

So, where are the nuclear missiles in all this busyness?  Well, I have to say that I think I'm the nuclear missile today.  You see, when I have a lot to do in a short period of time (clean the house, visit a sick friend in the hospital, cook, and prepare my mind for a book discussion), I get a little crazy in the overwhelming-ness of it all.  I start swearing and muttering to myself about piled shoes, unmade beds, and the like.  I am the Incredible Hulk of Book Club.  I allow anger to overtake me, and I see green.  Literally.

Now that I'm all prepared and the Swedish meatballs are bubbling away, I'm back to being Bruce Banner, mild-mannered professor of writing. 

It's strange, but, when I'm not directly involved in a crisis, I have an ability to remain calm and objective.  For example, this afternoon, I had to deal with a disagreement between two people whom I love.  I was stuck in the middle of it.  It was a matter of two passive aggressive wills clashing.  It felt very . . . middle schoolish.

I have reached a point in my life where I don't deal well with passive aggression.  It makes my Hulk/nuclear warhead side appear.  I can't stand it when adults don't behave like adults.  I expect this kind of behavior from my ten-year-old, not grown-ass people.  It drives me crazy.

I guess what I'm saying is that I need to engage my Improbability Drive.  Make this crazy afternoon turn out positively.  That is my goal, anyway.  If it doesn't work out, I always have wine coolers and meatballs to feed me after the nuclear holocaust. 

Sing it with Saint Marty:  "When you walk through the storm . . . hold your head up high . . ."

Saturday, May 25, 2019

May 25: Control Consoles, Han Solo, Hyperspace

Zaphod and company are trying to avoid being blasted out of the Galaxy by missiles launched from the planet of Magrathea . . .

Several large desk panels slid open and banks of control consoles sprang up out of them, showering the crew with bits of expanded polystyrene packaging and balls of rolled-up cellophane:  these controls had never been used before.

Zaphod stared at them wildly.

"Okay, Ford," he said, "full retro thrust and ten degrees starboard.  Or something . . ."

"Good luck, guys," chirped the computer, "impact minus thirty seconds . . ."

Ford leaped to the controls--only a few of them made any immediate sense to him so he pulled those.  The ship shook and screamed as its guidance rocket jets tried to push it every which way simultaneously.  He released half of them and the ship spun round in a tight arc and headed back the way it had come, straight toward the oncoming missiles.

Air cushions ballooned out of the walls in an instant as everyone was thrown against them.  For a few seconds the inertial forces held them flattened and squirming for breath, unable to move.  Zaphod struggled and pushed in manic desperation and finally managed a savage kick at a small lever that formed part of the guidance system.

The lever snapped off.  The ship twisted sharply and rocketed upward.  The crew hurled violently back across the cabin.  Ford's copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy smashed into another section of the control console with the combined result that the Guide started to explain to anyone who cared to listen about the best ways of smuggling Antarean parakeet glands out of Antares (an Antarean parakeet gland stuck on a small stick is a revolting but much-sought-after cocktail delicacy and very large sums of money are often paid for them by very rich idiots who want to impress other very rich idiots), and the ship suddenly dropped out of the sky like a stone.

You know, sometimes I get reminders that much of life is completely out of my control, despite all that I do to avoid problems and disasters.  I frequently feel as though I'm trying to steer a spaceship that's warping and twisting frantically as I push buttons and levers.  To quote Han Solo:  "Travelling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!  Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?"

Yes, I'm mixing my science fiction universe metaphors here, but you get what I mean.  Even with precise calculations, you could still end up heading directly into the path of nuclear warheads or through a blazing star.  Control is an illusion.  It's something that makes you feel safe and calm, allows you to sleep at night.  Make no mistake, though.  There's very little in life that you can control.

As a parent, I've tried to control and minimize the nuclear warheads in my children's lives.  Shield them from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  (Yes, I am now throwing in a Shakespeare metaphor, too.  Get over yourself.)  That's the job of being a parent.  Protection.  Yet, life has a way of getting around all the barriers.  I can't be on the school playground with my son when kids start teasing him.  I can't be sitting next to my daughter in a classroom to provide Yoda advice to her.

I try to arm my children with skills to deal with life's detours.  I think that's another parenting job.  My daughter has witnessed the struggles my wife and I have gone through over the years.  She's seen us work through a lot of problems.  So has my son.  My hope is that they have learned how to cope with difficulties in healthy ways.  My son is still learning.  My daughter, on the cusp of high school graduation, is about ready to make the jump to hyperspace with all her careful calculations in place.

One of the things I'm struggling with is the idea that my little girl will soon have to deal with big, real-life adult problems without my help.  She's got a good head on her shoulders.  Knows how to deal with difficult people and situations gracefully and compassionately.  I think I had a little part in teaching her that.  However, my parent-side is freaking out a little.  I still want to make decisions for her.  Still want to use my father deflector shield for her.  But that time is quickly coming to a close.

Instead, I have to step away from the controls of her Millennium Falcon.  Let her sit down in the pilot's seat.  She's Han Solo now.  I'm Chewbacca, sort of co-piloting, but mostly just sitting beside her, grunting, growling, and watching the stars fly past.  In my hairy mind, I'm wondering on what planet she's eventually going to land.

I hope it's a place that's green and warm and full of wonder, inhabited by aliens who treat her with kindness and love.  That's what she deserves, and so much more.

Saint Marty leaves the last words of this post to Yoda:  "To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose.  Give off light, or darkness, Padawan.  Be a candle, or the night."

May 25: Middle Schooler, Son, "On My Son's Future"

You know, I've been focusing a lot on my daughter's impending graduation these last few weeks, while my son is also reaching a milestone in his education.  Next year, he will no longer be in elementary school.  He will be a middle schooler.  Sixth grade.  Things are about to get a little realer for him, as well.

My son has struggled a lot in school.  Every teacher he's had has said to us, "You know he's really smart," or some version of that.  He IS really smart.  He's also really stubborn and impulsive, which has gotten him into quite a bit of trouble over the years.  We've spent a lot of time talking to the principal and guidance counselors.

Now, I worry how he is going to do in his new school environment.  I worried with my daughter, too, when she moved to middle school.  However, those worries were not quite as severe.  My son is an individual, with very clear ideas of what he likes and dislikes.  He's sarcastic sometimes.  Likes pointing out absurdities and inconsistencies and perceived injustices.  He's funny as hell and gets bored easily.  

In short, he's me when I was going into middle school.

So, just as much as I worry over my daughter as she moves on to college, I worry about my son, as well.  Hope that he adjusts well.  Finds something that he's passionate about--art, music, geography, science, math, sports.  Anything.

Saint Marty just wants his kids to be happy and successful in life.  All the time.

On My Son's Future

by:  Martin Achatz

I meet with his future
Teachers today, a man, a woman,
To decide how we will
Mold him into something
Acceptable, a straight “A”
Football player valedictorian
Who will speak without
Sibilance or stutter,
Will eat brussel sprouts
Without glottal gag
Or plosive retch,
Will recite the alphabet,
Count to one hundred,
Name the bones of the hand
Before kindergarten,
Memorize Lincoln’s
Gettysburg Address for kicks,
Recite it on the playground
As he lobs the ball
Over the fence, takes
His victory lap around
The bases as the other
Boys glare with envy,
The girls admire
His easy, confident
Gait that will carry
Him through high school,
Into college on scholarship,
Medical school on fellowship,
Johns Hopkins, onto missionary
Work where he’ll discover
The cure for some
As yet unknown disease
Decimating sub-Saharan
Africa, for which he’ll
Win the Nobel Prize
For Medicine, thank me
In his acceptance speech
For the choices I make
Today, for asking
Whether he will get
A nap in the afternoon
Next year.

Friday, May 24, 2019

May 24: Full Manual Control, March Video, Ambition

The crew of the Heart of Gold are facing an impending attack for being too nosy . . .

"Oh," said Trillian.

"Er . . ." said Arthur.

"Well?" said Ford.

"Look," said Zaphod, "will you get it into your heads?  That's just a recorded message.  It's millions of years old.  It doesn't apply to us, get it?"

"What," said Trillian quietly, "about the missiles?"

"Missiles?  Don't make me laugh."

Ford tapped Zaphod on the shoulder and pointed at the rear screen.  Clear in the distance behind them two silver darts were climbing through the atmosphere toward the ship.  A quick change of magnification brought them into close focus--two massively real rockets thundering through the sky.  The suddenness of it was shocking.

"I think they're going to have a very good try at applying to us," said Ford.

Zaphod stared at them in astonishment.

"Hey, this is terrific!" he said.  "Someone down there is trying to kill us!"

"Terrific," said Arthur.

"But don't you see what this means?"

"Yes.  We're going to die."

"Yes, but apart from that."

"Apart from that?"

"It means we must be on to something."

"How soon can we get off it?"

Second by second the image of the missiles on the screen grew larger.  They had swung round now on to a direct homing course so that all that could be seen of them now was the warheads, head-on.

"As a matter of interest," said Trillian, "what are we going to do?"

"Just keep cool," said Zaphod.

"Is that all?" shouted Arthur.

"No, we're also going to . . .er . . . take evasive action!" said Zaphod with a sudden access of panic.  "Computer, what evasive action can we take?"

"Er, none, I'm afraid, guys," said the computer.

"Or something," said Zaphod, " . . .er . . ." he said.  

"There seems to be something jamming my guidance systems," explained the computer brightly, "impact minus forty-five seconds.  Please call me Eddie if it will help you relax."

Zaphod tried to run in several equally decisive directions simultaneously.  "Right!" he said.  "Er . . . we've got to get manual control of this ship."

"Can you fly her?" asked Ford pleasantly.

"No, can you?"


"Trillian, can you?"


"Fine," said Zaphod, relaxing.  "We'll do it together."

"I can't either," said Arthur, who felt it was time he began to assert himself.

""I'd guessed that," said Zaphod.  "Okay, computer, I want full manual control now."

"You go it," said the computer. 

Welcome to the weekend--the time when I take full manual control of my life for a couple days.  From now until Tuesday morning, I decide what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do it.  Nobody looking over my shoulder, telling me what my next job is.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I have nothing to accomplish this weekend.  I have plenty to keep me busy.  I just don't feel like doing anything right now.  It is one of those days where, as soon as I got home after work, I felt exhausted.  Still do.

This exhaustion could have something to do with a video I found on Facebook this afternoon.  It was of my daughter marching with her class through the halls of her elementary and middle schools in her cap and gown while the little kids applauded.  In the background, I could hear "Pomp and Circumstance" playing through the overhead speakers.  I've watched that video about twenty times now, and it has choked me up every time.  Just watched it again.  Choked up again.

So, here is the first thing on my agenda:  a nap.  As soon as I finish this post.  After that, dinner with my family at a local restaurant.  Then, maybe some reading when I get home.  That's it.  I don't plan on being very ambitious tonight.

Saint Marty will leave the ambition for tomorrow.

May 24: Sappy Posts, Time, "Rules of Fatherhood"

Sorry if you're getting tired of sappy posts about my daughter.  All I can tell you is--get used to it.  There are many more to come in the next two or three weeks.

Tonight, I have a poem I wrote on my daughter's tenth birthday.  Seems like an eternity ago and like it was just yesterday.  Time is such a slippery thing.

Saint Marty dreamed of his daughter graduating high school when she was born, and he dreaded it, too.

Rules of Fatherhood

by:  Martin Achatz

When I first heard my daughter's heart
Ten years ago in the doctor's office,
I had no clue how to care for a girl,
Those unwritten rules new fathers
Must learn over time.  

Make your girl
Sit frog-legged in the bathtub
To allow warm water to flow
Into areas of her body where skin
Turns raw, pink or red as grapefruit,
In the privacy of diaper or panty.

When she turns three or four,
Teach her to wipe front-to-back,
Not back-to-front, to avoid kidney,
Bladder infections.  

Comb her hair
As soon as she's done bathing.
Slide the teeth through and through,
To remove all tangles, then braid.
Start simple, one ponytail at the back
Of her head.  Work to French braids,
Beautiful as sweet, curled loaves
In bakeries at Christmas.  

Utter the name of the boy she likes
When she's five or seven or ten.
Just watch them play together.
Notice how he always insists
She climb the steps of the slide
Before him, his neck craned upward,
Cheeks flushed, as she goes higher and higher.

Invite said boy to her tenth birthday
Party, watch him squirm when you sit
Beside him and say, "What are your
Plans for the future, son?"

Even though you don't believe
In guns, buy one to hold
In your lap when she goes
On her first date.  When he arrives,
Stare at him, the way a lion stares
At a wounded water buffalo.

All these rules I've learned
Since that day the doctor waved
Her wand over my wife, pulled
From the top hat of my wife's belly
That sound:  crickets singing
On a summer night, Love me, love me, love me.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

May 23: Guided Missiles, a Friend, Pink Sunrise

A passage about misplaced expectations . . .

"They want to get rid of us," said Trillian nervously.  ""What do we do?"

"It's just a recording," said Zaphod.  "We keep going.  Got that, computer?"

"I got it," said the computer and gave the ship an extra kick of speed.

They waited.

After a second or so came the fanfare once again, and then the voice:

"We would like to assure you that as soon as our business is resumed announcements will be made in all fashionable magazines and color supplements when out clients will once again be able to select from all that's best in contemporary geography."  The menace in the voice took on a sharper edge.  "Meanwhile, we thank our clients for their kind interest and would ask them to leave.  Now."

Arthur looked round the nervous faces of his companions.

"Well, I suppose we'd better be going then, hadn't we?" he suggested.

"Shhh!" said Zaphod.  "There's absolutely nothing to be worried about."

"Then why's everyone so tense?"

"They're just interested!" shouted Zaphod.  "Computer, start a descent into the atmosphere and prepare for landing."

This time the fanfare was quite perfunctory, the voice now distinctly cold.

"It is most gratifying," it said, "that your enthusiasm for our planet continues unabated, and so we would like to assure you that the guided missiles currently converging with your ship are part of a special service we extend to all of our most enthusiastic clients, and the fully armed nuclear warheads are of course merely a courtesy detail.  We look forward to your custom in future lives . . . Thank you."

The voice snapped off.

Sometimes, things just don't turn out the way that you expect.  That's what Zaphod is learning at the moment.  He thought that the rediscovery of the planet Magrathea would be filled with fame and adulation and wealth.  Instead, he's being greeted with the threat of nuclear annihilation.  Life doesn't always hand you roses and candy.  Sometimes, it launches guided missiles at you.

Tonight, I write this post for a friend.  (Really, it IS for a friend.  Do NOT think that I'm composing some veiled message about my life situation.  I'm NOT.)  I'm very close to this person, and she is really struggling at the moment.  Instead of roses, she's got warheads, if you get my meaning. 

I know that she will be reading these words this evening, and I want her to know that I love and care about her.  Life sometimes sucks.  I can vouch for that.  I've had my share of struggles.  Hell, I continue to struggle every day.  What has always gotten me through the darker moments has been humor, family, and friends. 

Let me tell you a little story . . .

Once upon a time, there was a man who thought his life was over.  Everything was going wrong.  His job, marriage, and family.  It seemed as though each day brought some new disaster.  He went to his doctor, explained what was going on.  His doctor, being a good man who cared about his patient, gave him a prescription for pills that would calm his anxiety.

After one particularly stressful day, this man knelt beside his bed.  In his fist, he held about 15 of those pills.  He started to pray.  And he prayed and cried and prayed and cried.  The night seemed darker than any darkness he'd ever experienced before.  Eventually, the man fell asleep, still kneeling, still holding those pills in his fist.

The next morning, he woke up to the sun streaming through his bedroom curtains.  He knees were screaming and stiff.  In his fist, the pills were semi-dissolved from the sweat of his palm.  The man slowly climbed to his feet, pulled the curtain aside, and saw the brightest, most vibrant pink sunrise he'd ever seen.  And it gave him hope.  Reminded him that after night comes morning.  After darkness, light.  After struggle, peace and love and laughter . . .

Remember this, my friend.  Hug yourself tonight.  Know that you are important to me.

Saint Marty is sending you Christmas music, chocolate, poetry, and thoughts of presidential impeachment--all the things that make him happy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May 22: Closed for Business, Final High School Concert, Last Moments

Now, an encounter with an answering machine . . .

At which point a strange and inexplicable sound thrilled suddenly through the bridge--a noise as of a distant fanfare; a hollow, reedy, insubstantial sound.  It preceded a voice that was equally hollow, reedy and insubstantial.  The voice said, "Greetings to you . . ."

Someone from the dead planet was talking to them.

"Computer!" shouted Zaphod.

"Hi there!"

"What the photon is it?"

"Oh, just some five-million-year-old tape that's being broadcast at us."

"A what?  A recording?"

"Shush!" said Ford.  "It's carrying on."

The voice was old, courteous, almost charming, but was underscored with unmistakable menace."

"This is a recorded announcement," it said, "as I'm afraid we're all out at the moment.  The commercial council of Magrathea thanks you for your esteemed visit . . ."

("A voice from ancient Magrathea!" shouted Zaphod.  "Okay, okay," said Ford.)

". . . but regrets," continued the voice, "that the entire planet is temporarily closed for business.  Thank you.  If you would care to leave your name and the address of a planet where you can be contacted, kindly speak when you hear the tone."

A short buzz followed, then silence.

Let me tell you that some days, I would simply like to phone myself in.  Not show up for life, and have a machine that simply says, "Sorry, Saint Marty is closed for business.  Please try again later.  Like tomorrow or next week."  And then all the pesky troublemakers of the world could simply record a message and leave.

Today was one of those days.  I didn't really feel connected with anything I was doing today.  I did what was expected of me, nothing more, nothing less.  In essence, I phoned it in.  I still joked with patients.  Still told jokes and ate lunch and listened to weird music.  (My radio station of choice today--Essential Banjo.)  Yet, I wasn't really there.  I was still thinking about the previous evening.

Last night, I went to my daughter's final high school concert.  She played in the band, sang with the chorale, and sang her solo.  As I sat in the bleachers with my wife, I kept thinking to myself, "I'm never going to do this again for her."  It was a difficult couple of hours, swinging from immense pride and happiness to incredible sadness, bordering on grief.

I think that my daughter felt the same thing last night.  After the concert, when I found her in the hallway, she was hugging one of her best friends and weeping.  It was the first time that I've seen her show any emotion besides happiness and excitement over her impending graduation.  When she came to me and I hugged her, I felt her kind of go limp in my arms.  It was as if a dam was giving way.  She leaned into me and just sobbed.

My heart broke for her.  Everyone was coming up, telling her what a wonderful job she had done--"Oh, my God, I didn't know you could sing like that!" and "You were so good!"  I felt the joy that every parent feels at these moments, me standing next to her, feeling as if I had played a small part in her accomplishment.  But it was also a little funereal, as if the casket had just been wheeled out of the church and everyone was hanging around, unwilling to let the moment pass.

I have a feeling that she will be experiencing many moments like this in the next week, up until graduation night.  Last music class.  Last band class.  Last math and science class.  Last English class.  Last day of school.  Cleaning out the locker.

Me?  I'm going to be phoning things in a lot for the next seven days.  Not feeling really connected to anything but my daughter and my family.  Everything else seems . . . trivial in comparison.  Of course, I can't seem to think of anything else at the moment.

So, if you see me somewhere in the next week, and I look sort of distant and lost, don't be worried.  Understand that I am going through some stages of grief.  Right now, I'm somewhere in between denial and depression, with a strong helping of bargaining on top.

I am enjoying these moments in my daughter's life.  I am.  It's what she's been working so hard for since she was a little girl, and she amazes me every day with her intelligence, grace, and compassion.

Saint Marty is done now.  If you would like to leave a message for him, you may do so after the beep.  Thank you.


May 22: For My Daughter, Growing Up Too Fast, "Between Cross and Snow"

Another poem I wrote for my daughter some years ago, when I was feeling as if she was growing up a little too fast.

Little did Saint Marty know . . . 

Between Cross and Snow

by:  Martin Achatz

after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's “The Cross of Snow”

How does Longfellow contain years
Of grief in fourteen lines, words
Black, unsubstantial as the upward
Lift of ash or reflections in mirrors

Of black swans at midnight?  No tears
Fall with his rhymes.  With alphabetic shards,
He combs the smoke and sear from a beard
White as whale foam.  He still hears,

After all this changeless time, her voice
Echo through sun-defying ravines
In the West, through the shadows

Between cross and snow.  In this holy space,
I find my daughter, running in evergreens,
Climbing.  Away.  Up.  Up.  To where woman grows.

Monday, May 20, 2019

May 20: Barren Grayness, Nostalgia, Abortion Bans

A little bit about dead planets and ghosts . . .

After a fairly shaky start to the day, Arthur's mind was beginning to reassemble itself from the shell-shocked fragments the previous day had left him with.  He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.  The way it functioned was very interesting.  When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject's brain to see what was likely to go down well.  However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.  The Nutri-Matic was designed and manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation whose complaints department now covers all the major landmasses of the first three planets in the Sirius Tau Star system. 

Arthur drank the liquid and found it reviving.  He glanced up at the screens again and watched a few more hundred miles of barren grayness slide past.  It suddenly occurred to him to ask a question that had been bothering him.

"Is it safe?" he said.

"Magrathea's been dead for five million years," said Zaphod; "of course it's safe.  Even the ghosts will have settled down and raised families by now."

Such an interesting passage, full of memory and ghosts.  The ghost of tea for Arthur.  The ghostly barren grayness of the "dead" Magrathea, and the ghosts and their families who live on its surface.  Imagine visiting the Colosseum in Rome and meeting the shades of some gladiators or senators or emperors.  It's all about the past crashing into the present.

As I've said before, I don't believe dwelling on the past is really a healthy practice for most people.  Nostalgia is always tinged with sadness and regret over things we've lost or didn't do.  It doesn't make living in the present easy, and it makes the future seem empty and sad.  Nostalgia hearkens back to a quieter simpler time that, in reality, didn't exist.

I have refrained from talking about the abortion ban laws that have been passed recently, led by the state of Alabama.  I try to stay away from truly divisive subjects in this blog.  My goal, when I sit down to type a post, is to try to be funny, entertaining, and maybe a little profound (a mark I more than frequently miss).  However, this topic has been weighing on my mind a lot.

Like everyone else, I fall victim to nostalgia.  When I reflect on my childhood, I think of it as a kind of golden time--no worries, simple pleasures (nothing was better than The Bionic Woman on TV), and lots of dreams about the future.  Of course, that's the way nostalgia works.  It makes you yearn for the "good ole days," whatever those were.

The "good ole days" when women stayed at home and raised children and cooked and cleaned and made dinner for their husbands didn't really exist.  Back in those good ole days, women were being abused, raped, and treated as property.  And they couldn't do anything about it.  I can't get nostalgic about that.

Connected to that, abortion was kind of a taboo topic when I was a kid.  When Bea Arthur tackled the subject on the sitcom Maude, my parents banned the show from the house.  (Years later, both my mom and dad loved The Golden Girls AND Bea Arthur.  Go figure.)  Coming from a Catholic family, I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life.  All life.

I still hold to that belief.  I believe that when immigrants come knocking on the door because of war or famine or natural disaster or man-made disaster, we should open that door and invite them in.  That's what my church tells me to do.  That's what my conscience tells me to do.  I believe that all human beings (man, woman, child, gay, straight, transgender, African, Asian, Native American, Mexican, Caucasian, mentally ill, imprisoned) deserve love, compassion, and mercy.  That's what my church tells me to do.  That's what my conscience tells me to do.  All lives are sacred.

It is easy to advocate for the unborn because they don't cost us anything.  We don't have to pay for their medical care.  Don't have to feed them or clothe them or house them.  We don't have to educate them.  All we have to do is let them be born.  Pretty simple.

After that, however, the American system fails.  Once unborn children become a born children, they become burdens on society.  Suddenly, all those people who were advocating for their right to exist start complaining about social programs like Medicaid and food stamps.  They want to take money away from public schools.  And they saddle young people with crushing educational debt.  In short, the job of caring for the unborn stops when the unborn start breathing on their own.

I am a man.  I will never have to make the choice of whether to carry a child or terminate a pregnancy, for whatever reason.  Frankly, I can't imagine having to face a decision like that.  It's incredibly personal,  Incredibly difficult.  And it's none of my business.

I will say that I am pro-life.  To me, that means that I believe in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, welcoming the immigrants, lifting up the poor, comforting the mentally ill, and holding everyone as worthy to be loved, no matter what.  Jesus taught me that last bit in Sunday school a long time ago.  He didn't teach me to judge or condemn people.  It was all about love and compassion and understanding.

What has been happening in Alabama and other states has nothing to do with Christian love or compassion or understanding.  Make no mistake about that.  Jesus Christ had very little respect for the politicians of his day.  In fact, He called those men "vipers," I believe.  And it was those politicians who eventually killed him.

There is no easy way to end this post.  I'm not going to change anyone's mind with my words.  I am just adding my male voice to the discussion, in support of all the women in my life whom I cherish and respect.  These women make difficult decisions every day of their lives.

Saint Marty loves and honors them for those difficult decisions.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

May 19: Stress and Nervous Tension, Time Travel, Elementary to Middle School

A little excerpt about making the Galaxy a less stressful place . . .

"Which it isn't," continued Ford.  "What do you want with it anyway?  There's nothing there."

"Not on the surface," said Zaphod.

"All right, just supposing there's something.  I take it you're not here for the sheer industrial archaeology of it all.  What were you after?"

One of Zaphod's heads looked away.  The other one looked round to see what the first was looking at, but it wasn't looking at anything very much.

"Well," said Zaphod airily, "it's partly the curiosity, partly the sense of adventure, but mostly I think it's the fame and the money . . ."

Ford glanced at him sharply.  He got a very strong impression that Zaphod hadn't the faintest idea why he was there at all.

"You know, I don't like the look of that planet at all," said Trillian, shivering.

"Ah, take no notice," said Zaphod; "with half the wealth of the former Galactic Empire stored on it somewhere it can afford to look frumpy."

Bullshit, thought Ford.  Even supposing this was the home of some ancient civilization now gone to dust, even supposing a number of exceedingly unlikely things, there was no way that vast treasures of wealth were going to be stored there in any form that would still have meaning now.  He shrugged.

"I think it's just a dead planet," he said.

"The suspense is killing me," said Arthur testily.  

Stress and nervous tension are now serious social problems in all parts of the Galaxy, and it is in order that this situation should not be in any way exacerbated that the following facts will now be revealed in advance.

The planet in question is in fact the legendary Magrathea.

The deadly missile attack shortly to be launched by an ancient automatic defense system will result merely in the breakage of three coffee cups and a mouse cage, the bruising of somebody's upper arm, and the untimely creation of sudden demise of a bowl of petunias and an innocent sperm whale.

In order that some sense of mystery should still be preserved, no revelation will yet be made concerning whose upper arm sustains the bruise.  This fact may safely be made the subject of suspense since it is of no significance whatsoever.  

Can I tell you something about the end of this post, so there is no suspense or stress or nervous tension?  Here it is:  my son is graduating this year, too.

There.  Now that I have done my part to make the Galaxy a better, safer place, let's do a little experiment in time travel.  Let's set the Delorean for May 19, 2011 . . .

May 19, 2011:  Telling Lies, Fibs, Transgressions

Don't piss off the Blue Fairy!

I have a new poem for today.  It was inspired by something that happened at the medical office where I work.  A patient told the nurses a lie, and, because of his lie, he ended up spending the entire day waiting for his wife to come pick him up after his surgery.  The man, who was in his fifties, was humiliated and humbled, and his wife, who was working,  had to leave her job and drive two hours to discharge him.  She was not amused.

It got me thinking how even the tiniest of white lies can cause huge problems.  Think about it.  Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives because he didn't come clean about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.  Countries have gone to war because of lies.  Marriages have ended because of lies.  People have woken up on beaches naked because of lies.  (OK, that may just be me, but it happened.)  My son, who is only two, has already started to deny things that are obviously true.  Just last night, I asked him if he'd taken a bath.  He looked up at me, with muddy cheeks and dirty hands, and said, "Yeah."  The impulse to lie is built into all of us at a very young age, I guess.

That's what this poem is about.  Brace yourself.  It's another language poem. 

Saint Marty has had a much better day today.  Honest.


Presidents do it, bear false witness,
Dupe, dissemble, dissimulate
About weapons of mass destruction,
Dresses stained with seminal fluid.
Husbands do it to wives, wives to husbands,
Boyfriends to girlfriends and vice versa,
Repeat disinformation, deceptions, distortions,
Fictions, myths, tales about old/current lovers,
Romeos, Juliets, flames, fuckbuddies.
Guys do it all the time, invent whoppers
Regarding the size of fish, trout, salmon,
The size of penises, manhoods, members.
Women won’t come clean about age or weight,
Density or mass, poundage or size.
My daughter, in the throes of adolescence,
Misleads, misinforms, misspeaks,
Misstates, misrepresents, maligns
In her quest for cell phones and laptops,
Sleepovers, makeup and piercings.
My two-year-old son does it, fibs,
Fudges, fabricates, fakes when I ask him
If he’s soiled his diaper, says “no”
Although the room reeks of bowel,
Methane, manure, shit.  Even a wooden
Puppet does it, cons, concocts,
Beguiles, equivocates, perjures,
Plants, prevaricates, snows, soft-soaps
In his need to be a real boy, not
Realizing, by calumny and subterfuge,
He’s just as human as the rest of us,
Regardless of the length or timber of his nose.

Welcome back, time travelers.

Presidents lying.  Some things change over time.  Some things don't.

Oh, by the way, on top of all of the other changes happening in my life, my son is also graduating this year.  He's moving from elementary to middle school.

Saint Marty can't take it!