Thursday, July 1, 2010

51 days to Bar Mitzvah: less productive than the average bear

The golf gods have not been kind for the past two weeks. I curse them. Today they let me suffer an extended string of topspin-heavy shanks, skittering off to the right, witnessed by my child. You have to wonder how this is all going to work out the first time I actually step onto an actual golf course.

The campless week of summer is almost over. It's put a serious crimp in my productivity as a freelance writer, but as long as the Jawa is happy, I am happy. And I can tell he is happy because he's not rolling his eyes at me. All week I've been pretending that I can sit at the kitchen table and crank out newspaper stories while the Jawa entertains himself, sans computer and iPod(s), thanks to the edict that followed his most recent meltdown.

What a fool I was. I'm not exaggerating when I say that over the past 48 hours, I have not experienced a sustained period of longer than 15 minutes without hearing, "Dad?" San Francisco Examiner, I apologize for the quality of my work this week. Ah, who am I kidding. It was brilliant, anyway. There are things, a very few things, that I can do well, even when my concentration is broken because I have to pause every 90 seconds and say, "Please stop singing/humming/making that weird drum noise with your mouth."

Today, finally, I just gave up. Any work I was going to do would have to happen after Sandra Bullock came home. Instead of sitting at the table, I would force the Jawa to engage in out-of-the-house activities. We would go to the driving range, come home, eat lunch and then trundle off to see "The A Team" at the UA 20 in Daly City. We live in one of the world's favorite cities, but there are parking structures in Daly City.

My timing couldn't have been worse. Nobody had told me today would be the day I spend going back-and-forth with the production/design team about photos and captions to accompany my stories. Like everyone else, I saw the PSA about not talking on your phone or texting during the movie. I was the only guy to ignore it, though. In my defense, you can't walk out of "The A Team" for respond to an email, return five minutes later and expect to have any idea what's going on.

It's been several months since I last saw a movie I wanted to see. "The A Team," "The Karate Kid," "Avatar," are the last three movies I've seen. It's been even longer since I saw a movie I liked and it was night time and I wasn't alone. The good thing about all of these popcorn movies is that even at their worst -- and believe me, I could give you scathing reviews of all of them, including and perhaps especially "Avatar," is that unless you consider yourself too sophisticated to fall for that cheap stuff, it's really easy to get caught up in them, making the climactic scenes very satisfying. By the time the updated Daniel-San triumphed over the Asian Billy Zabka, to the great delight of Jackie Chan's Pat Morita impression, my heart was doing double-time.

Today, my morning began at 8 a.m. The Jawa stormed into my bedroom and announced, "We've got two options today. We can either go to Raging Waters or to the Alameda County Fair."

As obnoxious as that was, as badly as I wanted to deliver an improvised monologue on the dangers of entitlement, I still spent an hour this morning checking out the cost and feasibility of going to the fair. He wasn't getting me to Raging Waters, though. In the end, it simply wasn't going to work out. It would have involved a 45-minute drive and approximately $100 I didn't want to spend. On top of that, the Jawa would have spent the day riding rickety midway rides alone. No way are you getting me on The Zipper. I already did my time.

On Saturday, we leave for our week-long central coast vacation. In anticipation of the long car ride, Shack has been banished to his new collapsible dog crate for portions of the evening. He walks in, we zip it up, he stares at us through the mesh window, wondering what he did to wind up in jail. Everyone is hoping this preliminary walk-through will help him not freak out when he finds himself locked up in a hotel room in Capitola on Sunday, homemade fireworks bursting in the air all around him.

Tomorrow, the last day of camp no camp week, I will not buckle. I will sit at this table and get my work done in spite of interruptions. Is it easy to say something creative about Woodside, California, when you've already written about it three times and every five minutes a kid comes up to you, thrusts a small, gray hamster in your face and says, "Dad, look. It's Butters!"

No, it is not. Nor am I looking forward to my fourth consecutive day of laundry. How do three people generate so much laundry? Each time I pull out the lint trap I think of my former high school classmate Eleanor Mejia, now married and living in Utah with a staggering number of kids, eight, I think, or maybe ten. How many loads of laundry does the former Eleanor Mejia do in a normal week? If my family of three is producing approximately 1.7 loads per day, how much is made by a family of 12? I can't even imagine.

I was hoping to get downtown this week, maybe try on some suits and sportcoats for the Bar Mitzvah. Last week at Nordstom's, Sandra Bullock didn't blink when I tried on a slick, pin-striped Hugo Boss number. Maybe now is when I graduate from the ill-fitting one we bought at Nordstrom's Rack last summer. It's 2010. Nobody should have to show up in pleats.

Yes, this life of mine, it's a glamorous life. Sheila E. didn't know it, but she was singing about me all those years ago.

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