Saturday, February 28, 2004

Well, we left Older Son at his new school yesterday, and I feel like crap today. He threw a couple of massive tantrums, one at the doctor's office and another when I wouldn't let him get into the school fountain butt-naked. The sister who serves as school administrator walked up in mid-tantrum and said she knew I was occupied but that she wanted to give me and Older Son a hug. I thought, "here, let me give you a hit in the head," but I didn't say so. DW said her good byes while I went out to unload the car; I didn't insist that Older Son come back for me to say good-bye. By then, he was walking around the campus with a very large man who had been called in during tantrum time. He reportedly was doing much better by the time we left yesterday, but this morning I called and was told that he hadn't slept last night. However, he perked up some after breakfast. Knowing that Older Son is having such a hard time hurts me deeply.

I like the residential side of this place. It's very nice. The day school, which is public, is a joke compared to our own public school system. However, I think Older Son's preacademic skills and his self-motivation are sufficient to overcome that. What he gets in the residential side should be sufficient to allow us to bring him home in 18 months or so.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I had a very moving spiritual experience last night. Older Son was already lying in our bed, when Younger Son wanted me to take him in and put him to bed. We spoil our kids rotten, and putting them to sleep is part of the spoilation. Anyhow, Older Son was still awake when we went back to the bedroom. Younger son got into bed right up against Older Son and nuzzled his head against Older Son's chest. We listened to a CD of soothing music and I stroked both of their heads until they fell asleep. I was misty-eyed, but not out of sadness about Older Son's upcoming boarding school placement. I felt real joy for the first time in a while. These moments are rare and I savor them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Tomorrow and Friday are big days for my family. Tomorrow we drive to Alexandria, Louisiana, with Oldest Son, and Friday we enroll him at his new school. It's not something I really want to do, but it's the best I can do for now under the circumstances.

So now the President is jumping on the Constitutional amendment bandwagon, knowing full well that the thing won't even get out of Congress until after the November election. Pretty cynical, but it may backfire. A lot of conservatives are uncomfortable with constitutional amendments of any kind, particularly ones that give more power to the Federal Government. Also, while Middle America might not be all that comfortable with gay marriage, I don't know whether Middle America is so outraged by it to tinker with the Constitution over it. IMHO, this is a matter for the states to decide, without interference from the Federal Courts on the one hand or those who would amend the Constitution on the other.

Monday, February 23, 2004

This morning I woke up and it was raining hard. I had looked at the paper a couple of days ago and saw a great extended forecast. This is New Orleans, however, and the paper always lies about the possibility of rain during Mardi Gras.

This month has been surreal. DW and I reversed ourselves regarding placement of our oldest son in a residential school for mentally retarded and autistic children. We agreed on a temporary placement, which will give us time to get our youngest son's autistic behaviors under control while the school does the same for our oldest boy. I'm uneasy about the whole thing, but it seems like the best we can do under the circumstances. Oldest son looked terrific in the suit we purchased for him to attend Sunday mass. He didn't care much for the Yankees and Hornets caps I bought for him.

I've been browsing on the Internet for statues of the Buddha to use in my nascent meditation practice, but I can't quite bring myself to purchase one. I'm fascinated by the Buddhist philosophical approach to life and the meditative techniques, to the extent I understand them, but there's something about using a little statue, as opossed to a picture, that seems so ritualistic somehow. Nevertheless, I purchased a Buddhism-in-a-box deal today to help with meditation.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

DW rode in a local Mardi Gras parade last night. I didn't go, and was in bed by 10:30. Two of the members of the kids' classroom staffs came by to babysit last night, so I went out for a bite to eat and a trip to the coffeehouse with a book. Yeah, I'm really boring. Anyhow, DW rolled in around midnight, totally sore from standing and throwing beads for several hours. She didn't drink anything along the way, contrary to the tradition in which riders get rip roaring drunk.

I used to attend most of the New Orleans parades when I was single. I lived right along the Uptown parade route, which is where the most famous parades roll. I lived on the edge of an overwhelmingly African-American neighborhood, so I usually watched parades with black people. I used to gripe about the Rex parade throwing one set of beads every block, then I watched that parade from a predominantly white area one year. Hmm, I thought, they throw more stuff here. Enough negativity, though.

My favorite Mardi Gras was in 1989, when I flew down from law school with my friend Maurice. We got a bit rowdy, though neither of us got laid in the street (or anywhere else, for that matter). Maurice did grab ahold of an attractive woman at one point and plant a huge kiss on her lips. I got a great picture of hundreds of men looking up at us, hooting and hollering, when we stood on a balcony next to a woman who was baring her breasts (showing her tits, in the Mardi Gras vernacular). At the time, I had an extremely homophobic roommate named Bob. As Maurice and I walked past a place called the Club My O My, I chortled, "wouldn't Bob love it if we went in here." Maurice was behind me at the time, and I turned to see him going inside the club. I followed, and we were seated. After several minutes, Maurice commented to me that if he didn't know better, he would think that the dancers and waitresses were men. I had to break the news to him. We had fun watching the act, but were a little skittish when the waitress, Seth, asked me to put a dollar in his garter. I handed him the money instead, then told him that my name was "Jim." Or maybe I stuck it in his garter, I don't remember. We discovered that the best place to watch the parades was right at the end, when they unloaded all their junk. There we were, scrambling for plastic trinkets with preteens.

And that's Mardi Gras.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

One of my kids got me up at 3:30 a.m., so I had some time for some goofball ideas this morning. Here are some ideas for episodes of some favorite TV shows:

Six Feet Under -- David and Keith are married on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, with Father Phil Intitola presiding (or is that Ryan Chapelle from "24"?) Meanwhile, Nate begins psychotherapy with a former supermodel turned psychiatrist who has a thing about showing her legs during sessions. As this is SFU, Nate makes a move on the shrink, who says she has a patient who is a paisano and can squash Nate like a bug. When Nate's therapy fails, Brenda calls in the Fab Five for a lifestyle makeover. Brenda uses her ketchup-and-pickle fortune to fly the five to L.A. Nate emerges with his shirt tucked in, his hair combed, and all that body hair waxed off. He does well for a while, then falls apart again. The episode ends with Nate selling his body for money in airport supply closets.

24 -- Who cares? They make it up as they go along anyway.

Sopranos -- The omniscicent ghost of Ralphie Cifaretto haunts bowling alleys all over North Jersey and, for some strange reason, a certain funeral home in Pasadena. People begin taking Raphie's friendly, ghostly advice. Ralphie is still Ralphie, and his advice results in everybody getting whacked.

My wife just said "imagine what you could come up with no sleep at all."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

It's interesting to note the banner ads at the top of these blogspot blogs. Mine started with commercial garbage equipment, only to transform into anti-anxiety treatments. I suppose I should determine what types of ads I want up there, then repeat certain keywords ad nauseum. My kids would want me to advertise Krispy Kreme, Krispy Kreme, Krispy Kreme, Krispy Kreme, or Target, Target, Target, Target.

Monday, February 16, 2004

I was waxing philosophical over the weekend for some reason, and I thought about the question, "what is the highest truth?" Of course, the answer depends in part on how one defines "truth." Moreover, the answer is -- or should be -- entirely subjective depending on who is providing the answer.

For me, the highest truth is found in my love for others, especially my wife and children. I like to think that everything I do is somehow rooted in my love for them. Paul's poetic description of love ("charity") in the New Testament is a great definition of the love I feel for my family.

Spirituality also is important to me. However, for me spirituality is subjective, experiential, and experimental. I find more spiritual meaning in nature, music, art, and meditation than I do in more formal settings. I have total respect for people who find spirituality in other ways. I'm grateful that DW's parents, who are devout, by-the-book Mormons, appear to respect my less formal path to spirituality. I hope it stays that way.

Honesty and integrity are important to me as well. I love a good debate, and I'm a big free-speech advocate. I'd rather have someone disagree with me honestly than agree with me dishonestly. I realize that people make mistakes -- I know I do -- and the best policy is to own up to those mistakes and move on. I also realize that part of my nature wants to put a positive spin on my actions; I assume that we all have that tendency. That's not necessarily dishonest. As for integrity, to me that means acting consistent with one's values and being honest in one's dealings.

Maybe I'll come back to this broad philosophical topic later. Now I've got to finish taking down the Christmas tree. It's only February 16!

Saturday, February 14, 2004

My anxiety level has been pretty high the past couple of weeks with the boarding school thing coming up all of the sudden, and it seemed that a blog would be a good way to deal with the anxiety.

I'm worried about how and when to tell my mother and sister that we are placing their favorite grandson/nephew into an out-of-town institutional environment. They freaked out when we first went to look at the place. My mother has visions of gross abuse and mistreatment of children. I doubt that even the nun who runs the place could convince her otherwise. We might even wait until after we get older son up there to break the news. I worry that 1) they'll try something to stop us from taking O.S. there (they would fail, but still); 2) they'll attack DW's mothering abilities; and/or 3) they'll never talk to me again. I'm probably more worked up about this than I ought to be.

Friday, February 13, 2004

I watched an episode from the first season of "The Sopranos" over my lunch hour today. Geez, it was funny. That show has mophed over four seasons from a brilliant dark comedy with dramatic aspects to a brilliant drama with comedic aspects. I love that show because it is amazingly intelligent but not the least bit condescending. For instance, the most grusome ep. of the whole series interspersed lyrics from the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," but you didn't feel like you missed out if you didn't get it. I can't wait for Season Five to begin in March. DW and I have spread the gospel according to Tony and Carmela via DVDs to Mapleton, Utah, where SIL and her husband have become addicted to the show. It's been therapeutic for them as they deal with a family trauma. HBO as therapy -- now there's an idea!

I feel better today than I have in a while. My natural optimism is showing through, I suppose. DW and I can focus like laser beams on our younger son's violent and self-injurious behaviors while our older son is helped by the boarding school. They've got a good program there. We'll reintegrate our older son into the home once we're on top of our younger son. Ah, the joys of parenting!

I'm conflicted about the upcoming presidential election. I really shouldn't be --my state will vote for Bush, unless Kerry wins in a landslide. I really wanted Lieberman, but that wasn't meant to be.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Wow, I've arrived. I've got a BLOG of my own. I feel special.