Thought 1: In Paris
I was in Paris for only two days. This was at the end of my six-week European adventure, the stereotypical college graduate trying to discover himself and the world.
My trip had begun in London and I spent a majority of my time in England, but my flight to return to the states was from Paris. So (possibly because of bad planning) I ended up in the City of Love exhausted and broke.
I didn’t drink little coffees by the apartment of Hemingway, I didn’t travel the same paths of Fitzgerald. I may have visited the Notre Dame and the Louvre, but today I can’t be certain. For my memories might be nothing more than a picture I saw in a magazine or something from a show or movie. Yes, I might have stolen my memory of the city. I can say with certainty I didn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I walked past it, took a picture, and felt that was enough. It was like a box was checked in my head.
Honestly, I should have cared more. There is a lot of family lore connecting me to France. I can’t verify any of this but as the story goes through my family, on my mother’s side, I have French nobility in my blood. We were the ones that were smart enough to figure out that it wasn’t worth it to stick around during the French Revolution, scampering away to Ireland. Those very streets might have been walked by my ancestors! Of course, if they were nobility they were probably driven around in carriages and didn’t peer out of the windows at the riff-raff (which is exactly what I was as I stumbled around those streets poor and alone).
Instead, I spent most of my time sleeping on the bumpy bed (the bumps I remember) of the cheap hotel I had a room in. When I got up, after sleeping for 12 hours, I was starving. I was so financially spent by this point in my trip I was almost dreading my return to the States. My parents might be waiting for me at the airport, but I imagined also the credit card companies there as well with something the opposite of a hug. So when I wandered to the little restaurant under the hotel my choices were very limited.
Of course, everything on the menu was in French. And since France was not the big focus of my trip (England! Shakespeare! Authors! Venice!) I didn’t bring a French dictionary with me. I was, sadly, the typical dumb American tourist. I admit it. I ended up pointing at the one thing on the menu that had a word in it that I could translate: Ham.
The waiter looked at me as if I was silly for wanting it, but he took the order. A few minutes later he returned with this odd dish. Yes, it did include ham but they were hidden away inside a weird green mold of some sort. The mold was disgusting, and I scraped it off to get to the pieces of ham, savoring each bite as best as I could. To this day, I’m not certain what I ate, or if it was a joke the waiter and chef pulled on me. I mean, I could not have had a bigger target on my forehead. So who knows…
There are few things I regret about my trip through Europe, but the big one is not spending enough time in Paris. My wife and I though have an agreement to remedy that. When our youngest child starts college, we are immediately going to jump on an airplane. We will spend two weeks in France celebrating the end of our years parenting. It is our planned escape!
I know this doesn’t really say anything about the horrendous attacks in Paris or the state of the world today. I’ll leave that to better and more poetic writers. In my mind, almost selfishly, I keep returning to me sitting in a little and quiet restaurant wondering exactly what I was about to eat.
Thought 2: Movie Sign!
I was an old school Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan. I was in the midst of high school when I discovered the show and was immediately obsessed. I think it spoke to me at such an intense level because what they did to movies is what I wanted to do in school to teachers and to the authors of bad books I read.
For those living in a cave and don’t know the show, the premise is a man and his two robots are forced to watch bad movies. They make sarcastic comments throughout the show and perform skits every few minutes or so. It was created by Joel Hodgson (who also acted as the first host on the show) and I wanted to be Joel. We were kindred spirits, stuck watching a world that didn’t realize how ridiculous it was.
I used to collect the episodes on VHS tapes, and I remember programming my parents’ VCR to record all 30 hours of the Turkey Day marathons. The only snag is I had to set my alarm for 2 AM so I could switch over the tapes.
When I graduated from high school I convinced my two best friends to travel with me to visit the set and cast of the show. I had written to them earlier asking if it was possible. Before the show entered my life, my dream was to be the next Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, but now I wanted to do nothing but write for two sarcastic robots. I was starstruck as I was given the tour of the small office space they worked in. I have a picture somewhere of the group of us standing on the Satellite of Love, I am (of course) standing in the Joel spot.
Now here is when things get really nerdy- To thank the show for letting us bother them for a day my friends and I made them a present. We went to a local Hallmark store and bought a doctor doll. We dyed the hair and the coat to match Dr. Clayton Forrester. AND you can see that doll on door #3 of the door sequence in the show after Mike took over the show. I circled it in the image there. See-
Joel is trying to bring MST3K back. When I saw the notice come across my Facebook page I immediately contributed on Kickstarter. I think I’m one of the first 100 to contribute. If you loved the show too, you should consider backing it. In our world today, we need the Satellite of Love more than ever. Yes, I turn to two silly robots as voices of sanity.
Contribute here- https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mst3k/bringbackmst3k
Thought 3: Turning Eight
This week my son turns eight and this is mind-blowing to me.
I know all parents complain about how fast time goes, but I think looking at it as time is the wrong way to take it on. This is more an emotional acceptance. I am not emotionally accepting the passing of this.
In our family we like to watch home movies from time to time. I record everything, making a new DVD every year. I can bring up any trip, any birthday with just a click. And I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to see my son as a series of different people. I watch the videos of him at three and wonder where that boy went.
“Look at the video! He is in this room! He should still be here, right?”
That three-year old really couldn’t be this thin eight-year old with missing teeth and the sarcastic sense of humor. That can’t be him, right?
The old version of me, the one with the crying one-year old and dirty diapers to change, would be surprised, but I miss all of the ages. I miss having to hold the baby for over an hour as he falls asleep. For the hard truth is that while it is nice to hold the babies of friends and loved ones, it never ever is the same as holding your own. The weight, the body is all wrong. And I miss that and each year those other versions of him get farther and farther away.
There are wonderful aspects to him being this age. The fact I get to take him to a new Star Wars movie… well… I can’t stop smiling about that. And we play video games together (for my Birthday he gave me my own Han Solo for Disney Infinity). And I could not be more proud as he reads to me.
The problem is I know that if I blink, he will be a teenager. And if I blink again he will be in college and out of the house. So the trick for me is keeping my eyes open. That shouldn’t be too hard.
My latest novel Permanent Spring Showers was just published by 5 Prince Books. You can find out more about my novel as well as my other books (including A Jane Austen Daydream and My Problem With Doors) and grab a copy via my author page on Amazon.com here.