Monday, June 25, 2007

The Retreat

So we had a strategic planning retreat on Sunday to plan for my nonprofit's next twelve months. Two interesting things happened. First, I proposed that we'd raise more money than we ever have in the past, and we'd do it by getting our (lethargic, complacent, skittish to get involved) board active - attending house parties, asking for money, recruiting their friends, etc. The interesting part of this is that no one argued, complained, protested, or even challenged the numbers. They all smiled and nodded and patted me on the back.

This, of course, fills me with dread. I hope they realize what they were agreeing to when they agreed to it. I guess I'll find out once I start making the follow-up phone calls.

The second thing that happened is that one of our staff asked to have her position converted to full-time. She currently works less than 30 hours a week. Her argument: I have too many responsibilities and I can't get everything done with my current hours, I've put in years of loyal service, my qualifications and skills are blah blah blah...

Oh, and when she goes full-time, she wants to take on new duties. She wants to work on fundraising (which is ... ahem ... my job.) She wants to do public speaking, which would be a disaster on ice.

The back story here is that this person has some mistaken ideas about her talents. For example, she thinks she would be a brilliant fundraiser. She actually wanted to be considered for the job for which I was hired. (Which creates a certain amount of resentment toward me.) She thinks outside the box, which is good, but not in a way that's practical or realistic or reasonable. She's often outside the box and out somewhere in the back corners of the warehouse.

Now, none of this is necessarily a bad thing. The real issue is that she's disorganized, does sloppy work, and can never get anything done on time. Never. Ne-ver. She's an artist by nature - and a good one - but she just works in a scattered, haphazard, right-brain way. Good if you're an artist - not so good if you're the heart of a small non-profit. And my simple feeling, which I told to my boss, is that if someone's failing as a part-time employee, you don't reward that by making them a full-time employee.

So we talked about this request with the board yesterday, and my boss was remarkably candid. Long story short: we love the employee, but she's not going to stay here. She's already looking for another job, and - brace yourself - she has requested a six-month leave of absence. She only wants the leave if she doesn't get the promotion. Why does she need the leave? To "get some projects done." I think she really wants the time off so she can polish her resume and get another job so she doesn't have to come back here.

So the following awkward resolution was reached: we would convert the position to full-time. My boss would inform the employee that she wouldn't have her job converted to full-time. Boss will furthermore tell the employee that he doesn't think she will be happy here, whatever hours she's working, and that it's probably time she look for another position where she'll feel more satisfied. Once she leaves - which she will do - we'll start looking for someone to work full-time in her position.

(Interestingly, my boss doesn't think that this will constitute "firing" the employee. I disagree, but whatever.)

So you can imagine that the conversation between boss and employee, when it happens, will probably be pretty awkward and uncomfortable. There may be anger, or resentment, or slammed doors, or curse words shouted across the office.

Why am I telling you all this? Because my boss took the day off today. Which means that our disgruntled employee and I are going to be the only ones in the office, all day. All the livelong damned day. And she will inevitably ask me the following question:

"So ... did you guys talk about my job yesterday?"

And I will either have to give some oblique hint about the discussion - which I don't want to do - or I will have to refuse to say anything at all. Which will make the whole day a series of awkward silences and guessing games as to what happened, during which I will undoubtedly - by a nod or a momentary facial expression or the tone of a response - indicate to the employee what decision was reached.

I'm not happy.

On the other hand, I'm sipping a caramel latte that's damn near perfect. So it's not all bad.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Things He Says

Eight! Nine! Fourteen! He is learning numbers, in his own peculiar way. He knows the numbers eight, nine, and fourteen, which he will shout out, countdown-style, at random moments throughout the day. "Eight! Nine! Fow-teen!"

Once, I was putting him to sleep and his eyes had closed tight. Suddenly, he lifted up his head and said softly, "eight, nine." Went right back to sleep after that. I'm guessing he was counting in his sleep.

"Over here! Right there!" These are his versions of "near" and "far." It's hilarious to hear, because he pronounces them with something like a New Yawk accent. "Over heah! Right dere!" I'll be playing with his Legos - by "playing," I mean that I'm putting his Legos together and he's directing me as to where each piece goes. "Right dere!" he shouts excitedly. Next piece? "Right dere," he smiles. "Right dere."

"Daddy, come!" He commands us to join him for very important missions. Like, say, climbing into his kid-sized tent. "Daddy, come!" Or reading stories with him. "Mommy, come!" Or just walking around the house at his whim. "Daddy? Mommy? Daddy? Mommy? Daddy? Mommy? Come! Daddy, mommy, come!"
He says this, too, in the funniest way - long on the vowel, and resonant. It sounds like he's summoning us, in the most anachronistic, 19th century way imaginable. We are his servants, and he our benevolent dictator.

He's tried this command with Chloe and is shocked that she can refuse him. "Chloe, come!" he demands of her, trying to entice her off the couch or coax her out of his tent. She has not once obeyed him. I tried to explain to him that obeying is not a cat's strong suit, but he doesn't quite get it yet.

Repeating everything. And I mean everything. I've said five-syllable words before and heard him try to repeat them. He repeats back the oddest phrases, and picks up on the strangest concepts. One morning, he brought all of his stuffed animals from the playroom into the living room and onto the couch. Mrs. B asked if he was bringing out his buddies, and he absorbed the word immediately. "More buddies," he'd say, carrying an armful of stuffed bears and cats.

Shortly thereafter, he got the idea to put all of his "buddies" back into the playroom. All the while, saying to himself, "put buddies away." An armload at the time, he hauled all of his "buddies" back into the playroom.

Another example - today I was playing the killer new album by Los Straitjackets, and he was rocking out to it - dancing, wiggling around, wild-eyed. So I asked him if he was rocking out, and he repeated, "rock out." Then he started wiggling around in front of our cat Chloe.

"Oliver, are you trying to get kitty to rock out?"

"Chloe. Rock out," he commanded in all seriousness, while still wiggling around. Chloe, alas, refused to rock out in any discernible way.

The Magic Word. We have tried to teach him that the magic word is "please." So when he's demanding something from one of us - say, if he asks me fifteen times to move across the couch - I'll ask him to use the magic word. "Move, pease," he says finally, and I scoot over on the couch to make room for him.

But the real magic word for him is another word. It's the one word that can coax him to getting his diaper changed, and the only word that can instantly bring a smile to his face, whatever the situation.

That word is "naked."

Our baby is a flasher. He loves running naked around the house (well, he's usually got on a diaper), shouting "naked! Naked!" And he loves it when other people get naked, too. When Mrs. B or I need to change our clothes, he asks with a glint in his eye, "naked?" When he sees one of us without clothes, he giggles with mad delight.

I don't know what this portends for his future, but it's fun for now. If he's seventeen years old and still loves to run around naked, giggling like a schoolgirl, it'll be a whole different story.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Father's Day

He was making macaroni and cheese for his kids. He was the good dad, out to dazzle his children with his cooking prowess. He was going to introduce them to real mac-and-cheese, not that powdered boxed crapola. They liked that boxed crap, but he was going to teach them the difference. He knew what was best for them, after all. He was their father.

They hated it. They didn't like the crunchy noodles on top. They thought the bread crumbs on top made it look burnt. They wanted the orange stuff that came in the box, not this. This wasn't macaroni and cheese.

First he argued with them. Then, when their mother tried to explain that it was unfamiliar food, that they'd never seen bread crumbs on top of a dish before, he pouted. He got upset.

He stomped away from the dinner table. He shut himself in his bedroom, a petulant teenager, an overemotional dad in all the wrong ways. One of his children actually went up to apologize, attempting to coax him back to the dinner table.

This was the story I read in a national parents magazine. It's their current issue, on the newsstands just in time for Father's Day. It was part of their section for fathers. No, scratch that. This one-page anecdote was the entirety of their section for dads. That's it. One story about a dad who screwed up dinner. One more story about a dad who doesn't understand what his kids want, doesn't react well to his kids' natural reactions, and doesn't realize that his kids are watching everything he does for signs on how to act like a grown-up.

One more story about one more incompetent dad.

I don't understand how a magazine with a name like Parenting (parents are both mothers and fathers, right?) has only a single page dedicated to fathers. And I don't get how, month after month, the fathers who visit their pages are dunderheads. They make mistakes. They put diapers on wrong. They make atrocious choices about their children's clothes, their food, their safety. They are embarrassments to fatherhood.

I hate to brag, people. But let's get some things straight. I'm a father. I'm a damn good dad. I spent nearly a year at home with my son, changing his diapers, warming his bottles, holding him until my shoulders fell asleep during his naps. So I know a few things about being a father.

I've been his dad since the day he was born. Not a stand-in, not a weekend daddy, not an absentee, not a detached parental unit. I am his dad, and I take my work seriously.

Let me present my credentials:

I can always find his ticklish spots, and I know a few secret ones that his mother might not even know.

I can change his diaper with my eyes closed. Seriously.

I can feed him animal crackers, one by one, while driving down the highway. Without taking my eyes off the road.

If there are ten kids at the park running around, and my kid cries, I hear it. I know the frequency of his cries, the shape and size of the vowels, the pattern, the pitch. I will hear my son cry, because he is my son and I am his dad.

I know how my son talks, and I know the words and almost-words and semi-words that come out of his mouth. Sometimes I can interpret things he says that his mother can't.

I know what he eats and what he doesn't. I stopped getting him veggie burgers a long time ago, because as much as I thought they were a perfect food for him, he never liked them. So I stopped, because I realized I was wasting my time. A real dad knows when he's wasting his time on unimportant things. I feed him what he likes, and when I experiment with new foods on him, I always have a cheese stick or a bowl of peas as a backup.

I don't fear time alone with him. I took a job with a four-day work week so that I could spend an entire day with him. These days are the joys of my week.

I know what he likes to wear. I know which hand he uses to pick up a form. I know that he loves slapstick humor, and running squirrels, and music with a good solid beat. I know that he doesn't like to wear socks when he sleeps. I know how to make his cowlicks stay down.

If I close my eyes, right now, I can remember his sleeping face from the first few weeks of his life.

I know what meconium looks like. I know how to cut his fingernails. I know how to make him laugh. I know exactly where the mole is on his chest.

And I love this boy, this child, my son. I love the smell of his hair when it's been warmed by sunlight. I love the sound of his laughter. I love the way he scolds me when I'm doing something he doesn't like ("no, daddy!") I love watching his face while he sleeps. I love the way he wakes me up ( he says "daddy, come!" and grabs one of my fingers to pull me out of bed). I love every inch of his being.

I'm a good dad. I pay attention. I watch out for him. I keep him safe. I feed him, clothe him, change his diapers, read him stories, put him down for naps, kiss his boo-boos, wipe the snot and drool off his face, let him put half-eaten noodles in my mouth.

I've been his dad since he was born.

I'm not the only dad who gets it. There are millions of us. We are competent. We take pride in our skills (or skillz, as it were) in fathering. We are the new fathers, and there are a hell of a lot of us.

Watch for us on Father's Day. We're all around. We're in the parking lots, holding our kids' hands. We're in the parks, running around with our kids, chasing them as they laugh and scream. We're in the restaurants, offering our kid a bite of our breakfast. We're at home, making our own Father's Day breakfasts. We're good dads, and there's more and more of us all the time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Morning

Wedding Day
Originally uploaded by Sky Bluesky
It's Sunday morning, and I'm making blueberry pancakes for my wife and our son. And I'm thinking about my mother.

Longtime readers know about my mother. For the rest of you, my mother died when I was ten years old. Without saying too much, she was manic depressive and took her own life. (This is what I wrote about it a couple of years ago, if you want to know more.)

Mom was the kind of person who would make us blueberry pancakes in the morning, when she could. She had a disease. There was a lot of time when she couldn't - when she was in the hospital, or when we were in another house (away from the potential danger of our sick mother). Or just in bed, unable to get up.

But she made us pancakes, and she read us stories, and she tucked us into bed at night. When she could, she was the best mother she could be. And that's where I reconcile this. She did the best she could, but her disease made it hard for her to be there - and ultimately, to be anywhere at all. To be here.

I mourn the loss of that woman who raised me, and I mourn the void. I have lived for twenty-seven years without her. My mother never saw me graduate high school or college. I am thirty-eight years old. My mother married when she was 21, had three children by the time she was 25, and died before her thirty-fifth birthday.

She never met my wife. She never saw Oliver. But Oliver has seen her, and I tell him that she's his grandma Anne. He will never meet her in this world, but she is his grandmother, and there is some of her in him, and there's a lot of her in me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Accidental Tourist - Part Four

He had forgotten, after three months, the pure satisfaction of a hot shower. All those days of bathing in streams, on the beach, of not bathing at all, and even those occasional showers in the hatch (which was a pretty shitty rig, all things considered - too cramped and too dark to enjoy). He turned the water up as hot as he could stand it, and his skin tingled from the sensation. He immersed his face in the stream, let it run through his hair, down his back, over and over. It was very nearly bliss.

He was still trying to understand what had happened to him. He only barely remembered the beginning of this latest adventure. It was just another attempt at distraction, another joy ride with Jin and Hurley in the party mobile, the VW microbus they had found. Nothing special about that day, until ...

And that was where his memory cut off. He remembered nothing from the moment he stepped into the microbus until the moment he woke up on Main Street in Mayberry. With a new outfit on his back. And with money - several hundred dollars - in his pocket. And a new calfskin wallet, a Connecticut driver's license with his birth name, and a mysterious credit card he had never seen before. Hanso? Who or what was Hanso, and why were they financing this little trip?

Something fishy was going on. But he had had that sensation since he first landed on the island, so this just fit into the same realm of disbelief as everything else. He had been tortured for asthma inhalers, had been held captive in a bear cage, had been spied on in his most private moments, and now he was in an Andy Hardy movie. He rolled with it, the way he always did.

He snapped off the shower and just stood for a moment, steam billowing around him, and let the water run off his body. He was savoring the experience. God knew when he would catch another hot shower, so he wanted to remember what it felt like.

His instincts, which he had relaxed during the shower, kicked in as soon as the water shut off. His ears were wide open, listening for any stray noise, any unfamiliar sound. There was nothing. It was silent - almost too silent. He dried off, wrapped the oversize towel around his waist loosely, and started looking through the sink's drawer for a comb.

And then he heard it. A soft click at the door. Someone was breaking in.

He looked around the bathroom for a weapon. The only thing close was the hair dryer hanging by the mirror. He took it in his hand and looped the cord silently around his hand, then thought better of it and lay it on the floor.

The bathroom door was slightly ajar. He dropped to the ground silently, peered through the crack at the foot of the door and saw - high heels?

The door opened then, bumping him in the forehead.


"Ohh God!" The door started to close, but he caught it with one hand and wrenched it open. He reached out and grabbed a stockinged ankle. The intruder fell to the floor.

He rose to his feet. It was a woman. And that was the understatement of the year.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Hmm, funny. That's what every single person in the whole town wants to know about you!"

"Oh, great. Another screwball. Let me guess - you're working for that skinny little freak, Kirk or Spock or whatever his name is."

The woman stood up modestly and brushed her dress off. "Kirk?" She looked offended. "No, I don't work for Kirk. Don't even tell anyone you thought that. I don't work for anybody."

"You don't."

"No. As a matter of fact, I'm one of the owners of the inn."

"Oh. So you forget to leave the mint on my pillow?"

"Um, no, that's not it," she said, fumbling. She tried to stuff the bug in her pocket, and remembered too late that her dress had no pockets. His hand whipped out and before she could move, he had the bug in his hand. He turned it over and over, and her expression grew more grave as the seconds passed.

"You were going to spy on me."

"It would appear that way, yes."

He put the bug down on the sink gently and stared it, a bitter expression on his face.

"What's going on here?" he said, so quietly that she almost couldn't hear him.

"I ... think a lot of people want to know that."

He turned to look at her, and his face was twisted in rage. He spoke slowly. "I don't know who you think you are. But I am not answering one goddamn question until you tell me why all you goddamn people are spying on me! What the hell are you trying to do to me?! First the island, and now this, and I'm just about bugshit out of my mind from this crap! What's going on?!" His final words were a roar.

"I don't ... what island?"

"Lady, don't lie to me," he growled.

"I'm not lying! What island? I don't know anything about an island."

"You don't."

"No," Lorelai insisted.

Sawyer was taken aback. "You don't?"

She shook her head.

After a long time, he relented. "Well, I'm just gonna have to take your word for that. So let's try something you do know. Tell me about this Kirk character."


"Yep. I want to know everything you know about him." Sawyer described the incident in the diner, the knife, the brochures.

"Well, that's completely bizarre and totally in character for him."

"What the hell you talking about? And I'm warning you, I'm not in the mood for cute answers tonight."

"Look yourself, bub, I'm not trying to be cute or coy or even especially clever. What do you want to know about him? I hardly know anything about him myself."

"Aw, come on. Nobody knows nothing about somebody who lives in their town."

"Seriously, I don't know anything about Kirk! Look, you want the truth, no one knows much about Kirk. He's got unbelievable amounts of money, no one knows why. He's always working, and he has, like, fifteen different jobs that he does one day a month. He's like his own front operation, except instead of a fake store and fifteen guys in green visors in the back, he's just one guy who works ninety hours a week.

"But is he hiding money for the mob or is his mother some kind of Howard Hughes type with millions of dollars stuffed in her mattress? Nobody knows. No one knows anything! And what's with the jobs? He's the mailman. He installs cable. He delivers pizza, he runs the theatre, he sells jewelry. He takes polls for the town! He's Taylor's right-hand man, although God alone knows what qualifications he has."

Sawyer mused, "maybe he has some black-and-whites of Taylor in flagrante."

"I'm saying, maybe he's got little manila envelopes on all of us. No one knows why he does what he does around here. He's like ... that little kid in the Twilight Zone episode that everyone was scared of, and he secretly runs the town. Little Ronnie Howard."

"It wasn't Ron Howard played that kid."

She glared at him. "Look, buddy. Don't screw with me on television shows. My knowledge is legendary at bar trivia nights all around southwest Connecticut. "

"It was Billy Mumy."

She stopped and stared at him, jaw agape. "You're kidding."

"Will Robinson hisself."

She blinked. "All right, the world just shifted on its axis, but I'm just going to ignore that. Where were we?"

"Your buddy Kirk."

"Yeah. My close personal friend Kirk. Oh, and another thing!" She was shouting now. "He's always got some mysterious project going on that no one knew about before, like he's some kind of closet mad scientist. Some hidden talent. Some weird knack for technology that just shows up, out of nowhere."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean ... once he showed up selling soap that was made out of hay. All kinds of stuff - lotions, shampoos, all this stuff with some active ingredient he synthesized out of hay. He made it all himself in the basement of his" - she used air quotes " - 'mother's' house."

"And ... another time, he just showed up and installed a traffic light in the middle of town. Taylor said it was his idea, but I really thought it was Kirk. Still do. Once, he installed a security system in my house. I didn't know he was even there until I set the stupid thing off!"

Oh, and once..." she shook her fist menacingly. "Once... once, he showed up here. Pretended he was on staff. Sat in on the staff meetings. I turn around, he's working the front desk, and no one said boo!"

"That doesn't sound very high-tech, darlin'."

"No, but that's the other thing he does. It's like mass hypnosis, mass hysteria, mass something. Everyone just goes along with whatever he's doing, like he's been doing it the whole time. What's Kirk's game? Hell, I wish I knew. He's a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a $10 haircut."

Sawyer took all of this in, and he felt less sure of himself than before.

"Okay, so why are you here, then?"

"Our town selectman disappeared. He's ... nobody likes him very much, but he's kinda like the pothole at the end of Main Street. It's a nuisance, but everyone would miss it if it went away. And this morning, our pothole went away, and you showed up, and long story short - okay, not such a long story - anyway, people think that you had something to do with Taylor disappearing."

"They do."

"Well, sure. I mean, this is a small town, not much happens here. Something big just happened, and another something just happened, and it's only natural to think the two somethings are related. Ergo ... something ... propter hoc, or whatever that Latin phrase is."

"Well, yeah, that makes sense. Not the Latin, but the rest of it." He rubbed a hand through his moist hair. "What did you say your name was again?"

"Lorelai. Lorelai Gilmore."

"Ah," he nodded. "Should have known."


"Because your name is all I've heard since I showed up here."

Lorelai, startled, asked, "where have you - who's been - what are you talking about?"

"At the diner. Your boyfriend with the ball cap, when he called you." He made his voice gruff, blunter. "'Lorelai, I'm telling youse, don't touch this guy. He's bad news, toots.'"

She grimaced a little, and said, "he's not my boyfriend."

"Uh huh." He went on. "Someone else said it in the diner. That loud blond chick, Nanette or Ronette or somethin'. And Mrs. Kim, after I left. The door opened and I heard her saying something about you. Some guy was on his cell phone in the town square, and I heard him say he wanted to talk to Lorelai Gilmore, stat. So hell, I figured you were a doctor."

There were more, and he shared the rest with Lorelai as she turned various shades of red.

"I don't know what you really do here besides just run your inn, but from the looks of it, everyone here thinks you're the town selectman. And the police. And the savior come back to free us all. Hope I'm not telling you something you didn't already know."

"Oh, no. No. I guess... Yes, I didn't know all that."

"So really, I'm not the mystery around here. You are. You show up in my room, ready to spy on me. You're talking about this guy Kirk and the hold he has on this town, but way I see it, you're the one that really pulls the strings.

"No, I ..."

"Now listen to me, Ms. Lorelai Gilmore. I ain't got a gun - only weapon I have is what God gave me - but imagine I'm holding a gun to your head. If you had to answer the question - " His voice slowed, almost to a purr.

"If you had to say the real reason you were standing here, what is it? Why are you standing here in my room?"

She looked toward the mirror, toward the floor. And then looked at him bashfully. "I wanted to be the hero."

"There you go."

"I liked ... that people were depending on me. I don't know why they have faith in me like this, but they do, and I was going to prove to them that I was worthy of it."

Sawyer nodded gently.


"And ..." She twitched her nose and said, "I wanted to see you."

"Uh huh."

"You know, I wanted to ... see how bad this Sawyer person could be. Did he look violent, did he carry a machine gun, did he have tattoos up and down your arms? How bad is this guy?"

"And how bad do I look?"

"There's a lot of ways to answer that question," Lorelai responded.

"Do I really look like a bad guy?" he asked softly.

"Well, no."

"Okay. Now we got that settled. Sounds like we've both got some mysteries to solve, maybe we can help each other out."

"Maybe so."

"And maybe," he purred, "there's more than a few questions that are worth asking."

"Maybe there are," she responded, her heart pounding in her throat.

"So let's hear it, Lorelai. You got any questions you want to ask me? " He took a step toward her, eyes lowered a notch, a little smirk beginning to show.

"What's your real name?" she whispered.

He lifted his hand, reached across to caress her hip. "You can call me James if you wanna call me something."

Lorelai stopped just then. He was a con man. Maybe he was setting her up right now. She didn't know. She didn't trust him. Didn't not trust him, either. But she needed to stop him from running the show. She was getting pulled in.

"There's a nice comfy bed out there, maybe we could ... sit down and interrogate each other..."

"You know what? " She pulled back fiercely. "Shut up. I'll decide what I'm going to call you. And it might be Sawyer, and it might be James, and I might not call you anything at all. You're not the one in control here."


Without meaning to, she added, "say it."

He paused for a very long time and then finally said, "I'm not in control here."

"I own this place," she said quietly.

"Yes, ma'am."

"You're on my turf, 'James.' My property." She reached out unexpectedly, ripped the towel off him, and held it in her hand.

"I make the rules here." She moved toward him then, tossing the towel aside, and Sawyer felt a rush of emotions, fear not the least among them.

"Yes, ma'am," he said again, and then her mouth was on his.

It was quite some time before they made it to the bed.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Accidental Tourist - Part Three

"Hey, mom." Rory juggled her cell phone as she dug in her pockets for cash.

"Hey. What's shaking, kid?"

"Um, well, nothing, thank goodness. No major fault lines run through New Haven, happily."

"Well, you learn something new about seismology every day."

"That was my motto for a month in 8th grade."


"Yeah, but then I moved on to volcanos." She paid for her latte and darted toward her classroom.

"Ah, yes, I remember that. It was your natural disaster phase."

"Yep. What was I after that?"

"Um ... Emily Dickinson."

"Right. Logical."

"Hope is an earthquake with feathers."

"I'm not sure that's accurate, but points for trying. Hey, listen. Where do I get a tiny listening device."



"Still here. I think you have me confused with your other daughter, Veronica Mars."

"Come again?"

"Mom, why would I know anything about bugs?"

"See, you know the right terms for them! Bugs! See, where would I know things like that?"

"Every detective show from the last thirty years?"

"Seriously, you don't know some place I can get a ... whaddaya call it ... a bug in the next two hours?"

A heavy sigh. She was late for class now, and her mother had turned into Inspector Gadget.

"Okay. Lane picked up one this one time to spy on her mom."

"You're kidding!"

"No," Rory continued. "It was just one time. She was convinced it was a defensive move - she thought her mother was secretly eavesdropping on her, and wanted to bug her mother so she could prove it. Still not sure what she would have done with the evidence, it's not like you can bust someone for spying if you're spying on them to find out."

"I think they covered that in the Patriot Act."

"Whatever. Anyway, Lane used it once, heard way too much of her mother singing 'Blessed Assurance" and hid it away. But you know Lane - she never throws anything away if it could be useful somewhere down the line."

"Will she let me borrow it?"

"I'll give her a call," Rory offered.

Lorelai teased,"on your two-way wrist radio!"

"Actually, I'll probably just use the old standby cell phone."


"But I'll tell you it's on my utility belt, if it'll make you feel better."



Lorelai was thinking to herself...

This was so stupid. This was the world-beater of stupid ideas. Lorelai Gilmore, queen of the stupid ideas. Yet here I am, with a bug the size of a bobby pin, preparing to break in on one of her clients so I can plant the stupid thing under his bed.

A client! This was one of her clients. A paying customer that she would be spying on.

No, stop. He wasn't a customer. He was a bad guy. Evil. Eee-ville.

Hey, wait a second.

Cruella DeVille? De-Ville. It's a play on evil! All this time, I thought she was named after a Cadillac.

Okay. Focus. Evil. Bad guy.

Stud bad guy, though.

Who likes to wear his shirts unbuttoned, even in winter. A little eccentric, but with pecs like that, why not show off a little?

So yes, stud bad guy. But still bad. In some vague, undefinable way, he was bad. Like one of those James Bond villains.

What was the name of that one guy? Top Hat. Top Chef? No, that was a cooking show. No, wait, that wasn't a show. That's Iron Chef. But wait, Top Chef is something. What the hell is that? Is that some kind of Hamburger Helper thing?

Let's think. Top Chef.

Top Chef.

Top Cat.

Top Chef.

Odd Job! That was his name!

Top Chef, though. Top Chef. Top Chef.

Top Ramen.

Mmmmm. Love me some Top Ramen.

Do I have any ramen?

I have spaghetti.

Maybe I could take all the spices and sprinkle a little of everything, all together, and it'll be kinda like one of those spice packets. I mean, who the hell knows what goes in those things, it's just all spices, right? If I just throw them all together, that oughta work.

Stop! Focus! Focus, focus, focus.

And ... now I'm thinking about his bed. And I'm thinking about him laying naked on his bed.

What am I, thirteen?!

Come on, Lor, snap out of it. He's just your average bad guy, an evil man who can't keep his shirt buttoned and who growls alluringly, and you're just going to sneak into his bedroom because you're curious about what he's doing here. You're just curious, that's all. Nothing illegal about being curious. Otherwise that stupid monkey would be in jail, not running around with that idiot in the yellow hat.

No! Focus. Focus, focus, focus...

Monkey. Monkey, monkey, monkey. Focus.

Monkey. Monkey pants. Underpants. Monkey.


I bet he wears briefs.


Dammit! Focus!
She swallowed hard and then put her ear to the door. Silence.

"Okay," she thought to herself. "Here goes nothing." She slipped her master key into the lock.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Moment of Silence

Steve Gilliard is dead.

He was 42 years old.

I never met the man, yet I found myself tearing up at my keyboard yesterday when I read the news. I was one of his readers, and I felt like I knew something about him. He wrote prolifically - exhaustively - on his site The News Blog. He blogged about politics and ancient war history. He blogged about spaceship-shaped rice cookers and recipes for everything from chicken to cornbread. He mercilessly attacked the Yankees ("fuck the fucking Yankees" will be his virtual epitaph, immortalized by a foul-mouthed teddy bear given him by his blogging partner, Jen). He praised Manchester United and wrote enthusiastically and intelligently about soccer. He wrote about race better and with more energy than anyone else I've seen.

No, I never met Steve. But I knew him. I thought of him as a friend. He was really more of a virtual mentor. He showed me what was possible with a single blog, a supportive audience, and raw passion. When he fell ill, months ago, his readers literally took over the blog. Jen wrote some posts and heroically kept the blog running, but it fell upon his other online friends - dozens of friends, acquaintances, and fellow bloggers - to submit guest posts and keep the site filled with content.

I was lucky enough to have one of my posts accepted to Steve's blog. It felt silly and trivial, my little smartass post in there amongst all the brilliant political commentary and analysis. I felt like an elf among giants. But I was proud to be there, to be doing my part to keep the site running until Gilly came back.

He's not coming back. And I don't know what's going to happen to the site. It will never be the same. It might become a super blog a la HuffPo, but it'll never be Gilly's blog again. No one could possibly replace him. He was a force of nature.

Raise your glasses, folks. Here's to Gilly.

And here's to Jen, who kept me and everyone else informed on Gilly's health, until his family intervened and asked that the details be kept private. She honored their wishes, rightly so. When the final word came down, Jen shared it with everyone, dimming the virtual lights on the blog in tribute. Thanks for everything, Jen.

And oh yes. Fuck the fucking Yankees.