Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Our epic Family Court filing, years in the making, finally happened! Effects have been immediate and dramatic, both in the boy's experience at the other house--better, though the bar is low--and in the quantity and toxicity of emails to Anna. We've had one close call, which made my pre-filing purchase of pepper spray look wise, but since no one actually used the pepper spray (or dialed 911, though both were minutes away), we'll chalk that up as a win.

J's third parent has dragged him into the middle of the thing, showing him the court filing (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT) and ranting about Mama's sneaky lies and dishonest tricks employed in bringing things to this sorry pass.

And I've learned things about myself!
I have always encouraged your husband Chris to be a partner in J's Parenting,
Wait...that's not true at all...
and I am hurt and a bit frightened by Chris, "grunting" at me and semi lunging across the table at me at J's IEP Meeting at School today, 4/20/16..
I did whutnow? Since when do I have the energy to lunge across a table?
This was unacceptable aggression in an IEP meeting or any other meeting involving J's Education or parenting. This issue really MUST be addressed, or I will feel uncomfortable having Chris attend our IEP, Parenting Planning Meetings or any other meeting or mediation where Chris and I have to sit down face to  face.
Those don't happen too often, but you're welcome to bring bodyguards if the fact that you're bigger than me and surrounded by credible witnesses isn't reassuring enough.
Your husband Chris makes no secret of his years of martial arts training; so I DEMAND THAT HE ACKNOWLEDGE his understanding of the basic rules of conduct in regards to what might be interpreted as physically aggressive behavior.  His has a particularly strict duty in this regard.
Yeaaaaah so it wasn't me they were about to call 911 on...

Also he hasn't bothered to learn what it is I have a black belt in. Aikido isn't that thing where you suddenly go all Bruce Lee on somebody. Chuck Norris? Jet Li? Tony Jaa? Not aikido.

Good thing he wrote in ALL CAPS, though. The Internet assures me that imbues your words with legal force.
At this point I trust you both acknowledge that his recent aggressive behavior was inappropriate.  He is, after all, a guest at these conferences. No loud aggressive growling and aggressive lunging across tables allowed!
Isn't it great that we can all laugh about it? Especially with the passive-aggressive swipe that I'm just "a guest." 
I don't want to suggest anger management because I am loathe to interfere in your domestic relationship with Chris, but You can forward this email along to Chris if you'd like.
Thank god, I just got done being sent to anger-management classes by the last cowardly douchenozzle who couldn't handle it when I stood up to his violence.

There was a follow-up, of course.
As your Petition to Modify Custody is pending, I have to take a formal legal approach to this issue.  Chris has no legal right to confidential meetings involving J, that includes Mediation, IEP, parent-teacher conferences or any other school meeting not open to the public.  I am not comfortable with Chris attending any such meeting.
I hate be the bearer of bad news, but "formal legal approach" does not mean "declaring your unsupported interpretation of the law in email as though it were fact." You know how on Law & Order the attorneys are always communicating using carefully-typeset pieces of paper stapled to blue backing? You might start by Googling that. Also search for terms like "why won't the police just do whatever I tell them" and "why can't you practice law without going to law school."

(I get to come to any meeting Anna invites me to or delegates to me, subject to rules not listed in mean-spirited emails by random guys with no legal training.)
And just in case Chris was planning on attending any such meetings, you should know that the police and the courts would not look favorably on his trying to force entry into any such meetings.
This sounds like a really bad TV show. S.W.A.T.: Parent-Teacher Meeting.

Unless your last name is "Obama," no one is standing guard outside school meetings. Because they're boring. I will simply walk in and sit down, and everyone except the author will be happy to see me.

Because I am not a "guest." I am a parent.

Friday, April 15, 2016

pens pens pens

I'm processing some very deep emotional crap these days, and need a way to express what's going on with me. Visual art is sort of an alien language that doesn't viscerally satisfy, but writing does: just journaling, writing to write and form my thoughts, without much point.

I had a very large Leuchtturm 1917 notebook I'd accidentally bought when I thought A4 paper was close to 8.5"x11" (it's not), and it wasn't worth sending back. So I write in this enormous tome.

Then there's a question of the pen. My 25-year favorite, the Pilot Precise V5, worked okay, but there's a whole world of other pens out there. My friend Frank runs the Tokyo Pen Shop, so I trawled the Internet and found some likely candidates, and briefly switched to the Uniball Vision Elite. (Japan, besides just being Japan, has those highly-detailed writing systems that benefit from better-quality pens with finer tips).

But, I also ordered a Platinum Preppy fountain pen. I'd tried disposable fountain pens in high school, the Pilot Varsity, and I like the way they wrote, but the ink "feathered," meaning it soaked into the paper and made the written line all fat and fuzzy. I realize I was only using shit paper at the time, but right now the Internet said try the Preppy. It was really nice! There's a scratching physicality to writing with a fountain pen, and Leuchtturm uses excellent paper that just holds the ink rather than sponging it.

The Internet's next-step recommendations were the Lamy Safari and the Pilot Metropolitan, and hey, sure, might as well get both. They both feel so much better than the Preppy; the Safari is pure joy, if a bit light in the hand (I've since ordered the metal version, the Al-Star), and the Metropolitan is amazing to write with, but the line is puts down is crappy and feathered, so I've cleaned it out, to try with some sample inks I've ordered from Goulet.

I had always thought of fountain pens as being what are actually dip pens, but it turns out people had been annoyed with dip pens for a long time, and a couple centuries of science and engineering went into the comparatively painless modern fountain pen. Even with a low-end cartridge pen like the Platinum Preppy, there this nice connection with our quill-dipping past.

There is a whole universe of fountain pen nerdery out there, especially for people with disposable income. It's hard to imagine spending $200 on a pen, but that may just be because I haven't tried one yet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

human connections.

We got back last week from a short-notice trip to Richmond, VA, to see some friends who needed us.

Somewhere in there, I lost my driver's license: I tend to keep it in a pocket with my boarding pass, and it must have gotten caught in the boarding pass and fallen out, somewhere from San Francisco security to the rental car counter in Richmond. I passed through a half dozen different lost-and-found bailiwicks, and someone might mail it to me, but it's easier to get a new one.

You can fly without a photo ID, without too much hassle, at least if you're a white male in the South-- to their credit, it looked like there's a very strict process.
  1. They want something with your name on it, preferably also with a photo. They seemed to prefer a prescription medicine label to credit cards.
  2. They type your name into some very limited government computer. I had a scan of my previous driver's license, but they didn't want it.
  3. Your bags go through the X-ray, you go through the body scanner.
  4. You get a regular quick pat-down.
  5. You get a full "check the crevices with the back of the hand" pat-down.
  6. They examine every item in your bags and pockets.
This whole thing only took maybe 20-25 minutes, since there were no passengers in front of us.

It was blessedly dull, except for the conversation I had with the big guy doing the pat-down, starting with my new cargo pants (made by a "tactical" clothing company, because that's who makes quality cargo pants).
"These pants look really comfortable."
"They really are. I thought they were nylon when I bought them, but they're 4% spandex."
"Oh yeah, I thought they were some kind of stretchy material. Great if you're doing a lot of--"
"--sitting. Or moving around. Lots of pockets. The pockets have pockets."
"Are they 5.11?"
"No, they're Propper. Probably half the price of 5.11."
"And they've still got the look."
It's nice to keep these things casual. However, knowing different brands of tactical pants is a signal...
"Oh, is this a small first aid kit?"
"Yeah. Useful."
"Yeah, I keep a bag in my car,"--I know what comes next--"with a knife, water, anything you might need to survive. Called a bug-out bag."

[Clearly he's on the survivalist/anarchy end of the disaster-prep spectrum.]

"Yep. I keep all this stuff in my pockets..."
"My wife says, 'Why do you carry all this stuff around?'"
"And then she asks you if you have it. Mine does too."
"I carry it around so when you need a tool, there it is."
"I know, right?"
So, yannow. Virginia.

Monday, April 11, 2016

all parents, all the time

I'm writing about the kid a lot, because I'm not interested in publicly writing about work or my well-being right now, and the kid is growing up in that way kids do where they suddenly get 3 feet taller and even more interesting to talk to (to the extent they'll talk to you). Because I acquired him partly-grown, after the bodily-fluids phase, I am probably not quite so astonished that he no longer weighs 15 pounds, but he was still 4 years old when we met, so, yannow. We've had some time together.

(I could write about the garage, I guess, and how it's mostly held together by termite vomit, so now we've bumped up the priority of rebuilding it, but zoning laws mean we can't build an apartment over it, only rebuild it exactly as it is, and then the cost estimate also had one more decimal place than we expected. But that's really the whole story in one sentence, and there's nothing funny or insightful about it.)

The boy is endlessly interesting, because we can scarcely imagine his experience of the world, and his brain is just a black box: we feed stuff in, and there is only failure in predicting what comes out, or when. He routinely repeats conversations verbatim from years ago, but then sometimes he'll be in the middle of a conversation and you'll have to repeat half of your second-to-last sentence, because not only did he get distracted by something inside his head, his distraction was so total and so short that he just checked out completely somehow.

At age 11, he is now differentiating from his parents, which (for many reasons) I've been looking forward to for years and years. This is about when the world starts treating kids like human beings with emotions and opinions, and kids get used to responding as such. (I think most kids are not treated like full human beings, and when I try to do that they get confused and it's all awkward because I've deviated from the script.) He's getting the hang of numerous social interactions, and is being duly prepared for the whole new level of academic and behavioral keeping-his-shit-together he faces in middle school.

Despite his concerns about managing some future life without his parents, he has not shown much urge to learn the necessary skills, so more and more we burden him with the parts of his dinner that involve taking stuff out of the fridge. He can take on the aggrieved air of a hedge fund manager who is forced to take a limo to the Hamptons, instead of a helicopter.
"I have to get the turkey and juice myself?"
"Next you'll be making me make the macaroni and cheese!"
"Someday, that's the idea!"
I'm sure he can imagine the table service declining to that point, but chooses not to dwell on it and hopes the issue goes away. And really, can you blame him?