the smooth licks of carlos

You think gold bars leave a mark?
Hot-damn people. What’s happening with this week? I haven’t been this distracted from writing since my last year of college, trying to worm my way through those last classes so I could escape from academia. I need to write, I gotsta write… here I go! Hold me back!

In the seventh grade I met Kyle. We were best friends in no time, my bond with him eclipsing those of my other friends almost immediately. He became the closest of my friends in the middle school crew. Not long after I started hanging out with Kyle, I developed a huge crush on his little sister. I mean, it was only natural. She was awesome, fun, cute, and ultimately accessible. I had “liked” girls before, but this was different. You know that first girl you were ever completely infatuated with? That was Kyle’s sister. My first “love.”

At first, I think it was a one-sided thing. I would flirt as best I could without making a big deal about it so Kyle could notice. However, as the years passed – it became something more serious. Eventually, we were sneaking around – sitting on either side of Kyle while we played Leisure Suit Larry on his mom’s computer, all the while holding hands right behind his back. It became the most exhilarating thing in the world.

Sometime in 8th grade, Kyle moved across town. I would still spend the night at his house often, and I would use those times equally to hang with my best friend – and flirt with his sister. Around this time, she and I had started passing notes in school. I don’t know how it happened, but we had to be super-secretive about it. The whole note-writing phase of our courtship was right around the time that the boys and I had cracked the Astro code, and having taught the code to Kyle’s sister – we added an extra layer of security to our clandestine missives by encoding them.

I’ll never forget trying to pass these secret notes to each other between classes, slipping them in locker slits, dropping them on the ground in view of each other, and plain being sly while exchanging them with Kyle right there. I would read each note with such attention, savoring each and every word. If there was ever a boy so painfully in love, it was me. We kept writing notes, and I kept spending the night, and things started getting worse. Kyle was starting to notice things.

One night, we had gone over to Kyle’s grandmother’s house – which was walking-close to his place. I was spending the night that night, and Kyle, his sister, and I were all walking back from his grandmother’s. At some point in the walk, she managed to slip me a note she’d written sometime that day. I remember barely being able to contain myself, I wanted to read it right then and there. As soon as we got back to the house, I went to the bathroom and took the note with me. I could read code like it was plain english by this point – and what I read made my heart race and head swim.

“I can tell you this now, I love you.”

She loved me? Holy crap! My heart must have been going a mile a minute. I can remember hurriedly writing a note in response the very next morning. Kyle had left me alone in his room while he mowed the lawn, and I broke out paper and pencil to confess my reciprocal pining to his sister. Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti” was on the stereo, the window was open, and I wrote a love letter to my best friend’s little sister to the hum of a lawnmower and the smooth licks of Carlos. After we had confessed our undying love for each other, we just had to keep our “relationship” a secret from the world.

What a great year or so. I remember holding hands on the couch in the dark, watching the “Lost Boys” while Kyle busied himself flirting with a friend of his sister’s who was also spending the night. In honesty, we had the best arrangement ever. Kyle got all his sister’s friends, and I got to keep busy with his sister. This hormone-filled middle school boy’s utopia was short lived though, and it was all do to one fateful double-sleepover night. The castle came tumbling down the morning Kyle’s mom walked into his room to find her daughter and I sharing a blanket on the floor while her son lay in bed under the covers with her daughter’s sleepover guest. What an awkward over-pancake discussion that breakfast was. In the end, we nearly lost simultaneous sleepover privileges – but it was worth it.

Not long after, Kyle asked me point-blank if I liked his sister. He said it was no big deal, and that every friend he ever had always ended up liking her. I wanted to be different, so I lied to him. I didn’t want to be “using” him for her, and I wasn’t. Anyway, before I knew it – his sister was “dating” some dude. I never got so much as a breakup note or a “goodbye.” Just found out one day that she was dating this dude in her grade. Crushed, I eventually grew out of my gradeschool puppy-love – but not without some amazing memories of hidden car-ride hand-holding, the smell of her wet hair in the morning, and my first-ever head-over-heels love.

This just in, this entry wins 1st place for use of hyphenated compound-words. Seriously, what’s up with that? Dave out.

gold bars fell on my head

So OK I stumbled, but I swear I only tripped over one...
Listening to the new Blonde Redhead, and it’s got a “nostalgic” air about it for some reason. The songs kind of hang out in my ears and make me feel far away from something, or? maybe it’s not the songs at all. Anyway, it’s a good album and you should check it out because I said so. What you need to wait until you hear it on the OC or see it in Best Buy on the “With a Bullet” rack? Stupid collective musical consciousness finally starting to recognize talent? you’re taking away my elitism. Bah.

While I was looking through my old junk trying to find the Satanic Flier from the other day, I found all the notes I’d saved from my courting years with Sharaun in high school. Holy crap, I have reams of paper filled with what must be seas of ink – and none of it says a damn thing more than “I love you I love you I love you.” Oh sure, there’s other words in there – but there’s absolutely no substance. We used to exchange notes after every period in high school, and it was always a contest to see who could write the longer of the two. I mostly won, because I can write about nothing with the best of ’em (I’m even doing it right now). But man those notes meant something then. Why am I talking about this again?

Gold bars fell on my head and I didn’t even stoop down to pick them up. Dave out.

april fools, fools

It's a joke on your face!
For the first month in the history of, I have a new top page. Up until now, my lame old Question Mark & the Mysterians page has been #1 in the server stats. As of March though, my Pac Man pages took the long-held crown. Winning by just under 1000 hits, Pac Man chomped up the competition. I wondered why I was getting so many e-mails about it, seems its made its move. Wonder how long it can stay on top? Jeez, who cares right? Sorry guys? I get proud of nerdy things like web stats? it’s just in my blood. I blame my dad for buying me that electronics kit from Radio Shack back in the 5th grade. When you’re 11 and spending weekends inside learning about current through coiled wire from a talking cartoon capacitor? you’re pretty much destined for geekdom.

In the spirit of April Fool’s Day, Kristi and I spent some time crafting up a joke to play on Sharaun and her man Erik.

The background: Kristi’s job, and mine, find us frequently away from home on business travel. Lately, it seems like we’re both away on business around the same time – sometimes day for day. Last time I came home from Washington, she was also getting in within the hour – so we were both picked up together from the airport. This unplanned travel coordination has led Sharaun and Erik to give Kristi and I a hard time about really not being away on business, but having a secret affair. So we have this running joke between the four of us about Kristi and I going away for “business” to continue our affair.

The setup: Accidentally “out” the affair to Sharaun and Erik. We concocted a joke where we would use photos taken on our respective business trips, and manipulate them to seemingly show us together on the trips. For added reality, we setup a meeting at Kristi’s apartment to take some pictures of us together which I would then Photoshop into the shots from our actually business trips. So, Tuesday night Anthony I and dropped by Kristi’s place with camera in hand. Kristi and I had each combed through our respective trip photos and chosen the best candidates to be Photoshopped into. In going through my pictures, I found a (really crappy looking) picture that I took in my hotel room one morning on my last trip to Taipei. Noticing that there was an unmade bed in the image, I got the idea of adding a still-sleeping Kristi to it. We took some standard “tourists in love” shots, and one of Kristi in bed (fully clothed y’allz… no need to get that authentic) for the hotel shot.

The delivery: I went home and worked some magic with the pictures. And yes, I used the totally awesome (and completely free) GIMP for Windows to do all the Photoshopping. Yeah, I still call it “Photoshopping,” it’s a verb to me now. Anyway I took the doctored photos and added them to a very simple webpage. Then Kristi and I each pretended to “accidentally” send an e-mail to our significant other – when it was really meant for each other. Kristi’s mail to Erik went like this. She immediately followed it up with this. Yeah, I know – that last image (dubbed “the bed one” by Kristi and I) turned out awesome. If you want to see the magic happen, check here.

The payoff: I’m happy (and still married) to say that both Erik and Sharaun got a kick out of our little joke. Although I am a little nervous about paybacks next year.

Dave out.

please don’t add me to the axis

With a brother in the Army, I think sometimes about those guys. I got curious about how much the government pays its dogs of war, and come to find out that’s all public information. You can find out what any military employee makes as long as you know their rank and years of service. Turns out that the low-man on the totem pole doesn’t make that much. This page says an E3 with less than two years time only grosses about $1500/mo, with a variable housing allowance depending on where you’re stationed. Of course, if you’re fighting overseas or away from family you get a little more for hazard and hardship – but I bet it’s still slim. I figure the majority of the “soldiers” actually stalking around the desert and shooting people would be Ex ranks. Only the brass make the bucks it seems. While it’s not my job of choice, I’m damn glad there are people willing to do it. Just like I’m glad there are people that want to fix cars for a living, or teach mentally handicapped kids or unplug toilets. All things I could not, or would rather not, do – but all necessary. Army – I’m not trying to compare you auto mechanics or the mentally handicapped, just using a bit o’ parallelism to make a point. Please don’t add me to the Axis of Evil.

Sharaun’s been so stressed lately with her class. It’s apparently school-wide knowledge that she’s got the absolute worst bunch of kids. She said she’ll take her kids to another room for Spanish or computers, and when she comes to pick them up the resource teacher just hugs her and whispers, “You’ve only got three more months.” A couple of her bad apples are constantly getting suspended, and not just for cutesy elementary school things. They’ve got fistfights, sexual harassment, public urination, grand theft, and a laundry list of other offenses.

She’s got good kids, but I can see how it would only take a few kids to make the whole situation a complete nightmare. What’s worse is the parents who actually complain when their kids are sent to the principal. It’s never the child’s fault. It’s either racism, singling out or harassing a child for no reason, or not giving them enough focused instruction. Anyone’s fault but the kids, or God forbid – the parents. In the same day, parents will come to the school to bitch at the administrators for “depriving” their child of classroom time by sending them to the principal for peeing on the playground, and won’t show up for meeting scheduled months in advance to discuss that child’s possible learning disability and behavioral problems.

Being a teacher must be extremely hard. I would imagine that in some ways it might be like being a nurse or doctor, where you have to learn to not take things personally. In those kind of jobs, you’re the catalyst that defines another person’s outcome. Nurses and doctors are in the driver’s seat with peoples’ health and lives, and teachers are responsible for the academic development of young minds. I realize that neither the nurse, doctor, nor teacher is really 100% accountable for the outcomes of others – but that must be a hard thing to keep in mind when you’re actually working those jobs. At least, I know Sharaun has a hard time with it. No matter how much you try, it must be hard to not question yourself when your class performs poorly on something.

These last few weeks for her have been hard, with open house, report cards, and her formal evaluation – all in the same week. A formal evaluation is when the principal comes in and watches you do a lesson plan with the kids. They take notes on all sorts of criteria and schedule a review meeting a few days later to discuss the results. I’m writing this, these past three paragraphs, and I’m realizing I really only wanted to say one thing: Sharaun’s review meeting for her evaluation went great. For the third quarter in a row, the administration had nothing in the way of negative feedback for her. Her review lasted a mere 10min compared to others which lasted over an hour. She gets nothing but positive feedback, which is like a shot in the arm to her. I love to see it when she’s been reinforced like that, her whole perspective changes a little and you can tell that some of that “burden of accountability” for her dumbass kids is lifted.

I’m glad I’m not a teacher. I’d have a hard time not simply discounting (or throttling) the flotsam and jetsam kids of the educational ocean. Props to teachers. And car mechanics and soldiers and plumbers. Thanks.

I dunno guys, I think that’s enough for today. Dave out.

ghostwriting about ghosts

The only thing I'd ever need on that desert island I always talk about.
Sharaun ghost writes today’s blog without even knowing it. From some document called “SUMMER93.doc” I found while cleaning out my “My Documents” folder. The date says it was written a few years ago. I liked it.

Praise the Lord! Tenth grade was over and the summer was here. Those were my thoughts walking out of Rockledge High School. My sophomore year had been a difficult one, especially with geometry, but that was all behind me now. I would spend my summer with friends on the beach, just letting the sun melt the geometry from my brain. I vowed to never speak the word again. That is until three days later when my parents received my final report card in the mail. I spent about an hour trying to justify the “D” I received in my geometry class. I could have sworn I had a solid “C” in there. Anyway, my father concluded our conversation by letting me know I would be on restriction……the entire summer. I stormed off to my room where I sobbed for two consecutive hours. How could my father be so irrational? At least I didn’t fail.

Fortunately, after having been restricted for only two weeks, my father decided that a whole summers restriction was a somewhat extreme. He told me that I could start going out again. Those words were music to my ears. I immediately called my friend Natalie to make plans for the night. I was excited about what the summer had in store.

Nothing could have prepared me for the summer of 1993. I’ve never had so many memorable experiences in such a short amount of time. During those next two months I made a new friend, started a relationship with the guy who is still my boyfriend, and had the most fun doing the dumbest things.

My first night out was going to be with Natalie. Upon calling her, she informed me that her cousin Heather had flown in from Pennsylvania. She said Heather was our age and that she was “real cool.” Natalie had recently turned sixteen and gotten her license, so Natalie, Heather, and I were set to cruise the thrilling city of Rockledge. Rockledge, for those who don’t know, (which is everyone) is a small town. It is a good 30 minute drive to get to a town that has some sort of entertainment. That night I was introduced to Heather. She was “real cool.” We got along great. Heather was a petite girl, with short, light brown hair which framed her freckled face. She wore wire rimmed oval glasses, and spoke with a slight accent. I don’t know exactly what kind of accent it was. She spoke different from Natalie and I. I suppose it was a Pennsylvanian accent. Anyway, she fit perfectly into our group of friends. It was me, Natalie, Heather,David, Andy, and Kyle. We were inseparable that summer.

The six of us spent countless nights together. We didn’t do much hanging out in the daytime. That was when the girls would go to the beach and the guys would do…well, whatever it was that they did in the daytime. However, once the sun set, it was a given that we would be getting together. We never did anything significant. We usually just found a place where we could talk, whether it was at someone’s house, the beach, the dock, the circle, Wendy’s, or the local elementary school’s playground. We had numerous conversations that led to us all growing very close. I, in particular, grew very close to David.

I had met David the previous year in school. He, like his friends Andy and Kyle, was kind of weird. They were different from the typical tenth grade boys. They were sort of like loners. They weren’t the party boys or the jocks, they were in a class of their own. In fact, at one point, I found David to be a little scary. He always wore satanic looking Led Zeppelin shirts. I learned much more about David during those summer nights (like the fact he didn’t worship the devil). David and I enjoyed talking so much that I began calling him. After returning home from our outings, I would sneak the telephone into my bedroom to call David. Talking to David, on the phone, became a nightly event. We had so much to learn about each other. On many nights we would talk until the sun came up. We would talk on the phone for seven hours and it would feel like only two. David and I became best friends.

Heather and Natalie noticed mine and David’s fondness for one another. They would often tease us about “liking” each other, but I assured them that I would never “like” someone so weird. Pretty soon, Andy and Kyle joined in on the teasing. So one night when we were all at the circle (an empty cul-de-sac in an undeveloped subdivision), David and I hopped into his red Nissan to talk. The others must have thought we were having a make out fest because they began circling the car like buzzards. It was a humid evening, and David turned the air on. This caused the car windows to fog. Kyle, Heather, Andy, and Natalie stood outside the car trying to peer through the frost to catch a glimpse of what was going on. Deciding to give them something to talk about, David jumped on top of me. It was kind of uncomfortable being squashed on top of each other in the front seat, but it was well worth it to see the looks on their faces when we climbed out of the car.

The six of us pulled a lot of pranks that summer, only we pulled them on one another. It seemed to be our way of showing affection. We would take turns toilet papering each other’s houses, along with other unusual displays of liking. I will never forget returning home from a softball tournament to find every inch of my yard covered in toilet and newspaper. It could only be the work of David, Andy and Kyle. My neighbors actually came over to take pictures. My front yard consists of a lot of shrubbery and a huge oak tree. Those three guys must have spent hours, and a fortune, on toilet papering my house. They claimed to have used forty-three rolls. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they used shredded newspaper to coat my lawn. I don’t think a square inch of grass was visible. After four hours of cleanup, which still wasn’t to my parents satisfaction, I was exhausted. I used every ladder, step stool, and lawn tool to remove the toilet paper from the oak tree, but nothing worked. I believe there still may be white remnants in the top branches. It was time for revenge!

Natalie, Heather and I wanted to get them back, in an unusual way. The toilet paper thing was old, so we decided on pork-n-beans. We scrounged up as much money as we could find, and purchased half a shopping cart full of pork-n-beans. This was going to be great! We emptied the cans into as many Tupperware containers they could fill, then hopped into Natalie’s car to complete our mission. We coated David’s front porch with a thick layer of pork-n-beans. Driving home, we laughed until we cried at the thought of having to clean that mess up. David said it didn’t take him long to hose down his porch, however the pork-n-bean juice did leave his porch a beautiful shade of brown! That summer the pranks continued with such items as creamed corn, dirt, dog food and vegetable oil.

It wasn’t long before Heather’s three and a half weeks were up. We all told her good-bye and how much we would miss her. We had shared some wonderful times with Heather. She became a part of the best experiences I ever had. Through letters to Natalie, Heather kept us posted on how she was doing, but after that summer we never saw Heather again.

The summer went on as before. Nothing special, just spending time together and pulling pranks. Well, I suppose there was something special. That would be David. We were closer than ever. Over the summer I contracted a very mild case of mono. Over the two weeks I was sick, David brought me flowers, balloons and food. He really showed me how much he cared by spending time with me while I was ill. I knew everything there was to know about David, just as he knew everything about me. We began to wrap up our nightly phone calls with “I love you.” I can’t explain how I fell in love with David, just as I can’t explain how I grew so close to Heather in a mere three weeks, or what possessed us to pour pork-n-beans on someone’s porch. They all just happened. There was something magical about that summer. Something that made it unforgettable.

No one wanted to see summer end, but before we knew it our junior year had arrived. Although I despised going back to school, at least there would be no geometry. Shortly into eleventh grade, David and I officially started a relationship. We are still together to this day.

I continue to keep in touch with the others from that summer, that is everyone but Heather. About two years ago, Natalie told me Heather was involved in a serious car crash that took her life. I couldn’t believe someone as lively as Heather could be dead. Although I had spent just a few weeks with Heather, she effected me in a big way. She is a part of some of my greatest memories.

It would be impossible for me to put on paper everything the six of us did that summer. It would also be impossible to describe in words the feelings I felt. All I can do is recount some of the highlights and say that they were the best times of my life. I left the summer of ’93 with a new friend, an exciting romance, and stories to tell my children.

Dave… er… Sharaun out.

falling asleep on the couch together

Marianne was waaay hotter than Ginger.
Since I’ll be walking these streets in about a week, I found this article both hilarious and relevant. I hope they get that cleaned up by the time I’m over there. I was just thinking about the amount of human engineering that it must take to get a freakin’ dead whale off the beach and strapped to a flatbed truck. If you’re like me and gave up reading that article before you reached the end, you missed the best part. Seems the Taiwanese, males in particular, are flocking to the dead whale to witness the size of it’s penis. I dunno, that sounds really odd to me. I can’t imagine calling up a buddy and being like, “Hey I’m going downtown to check out this dead whale’s huge dick, you wanna go?” Strange.

Listening the The Dears (disable your popup blocker if you get an empty page), an excellent album that perfectly suits my mood right now. I’ve been bummed this week, don’t really know what for. I feel like I’m stretched a little bit, overcommitted to things. Funny things is, the things I’m overcommitted to aren’t “work,” they’re play. The point is, I haven’t left myself anytime to sit at home and do nothing. Nothing is something which is extremely desirable to me. Usually when I get to feeling weighed down like this, I’ll “escape” to a weekend of camping or a trip to my folks’ place. But for some reason, lately I’ve felt strained.

I honestly just want to run away with my wife and leave everything behind, if only for a few days. I need some time with her. This Taiwan trip looming in the near future doesn’t make me more optimistic about that happening either. We’re both just so busy it’s hard to get any quality time together. I miss just falling asleep on the couch together, with nothing to do. Sometimes a Gilligan’s Island scenario seems awesome to me. I mean, if I had to be stranded on an island I’d sure want it to be one where I can make peddle-power do everything from laundry to mix drinks. Plus, the Globetrotters and cosmonauts would almost balance out the Most Dangerous Game hunters and crazy natives. Face it, Gilligan’s Island was awesome. Yeah, Sharaun and I, Gilligan’s Island style… bring it on.

From my journal, Nov. 13th, 1995: “I wish I had more time to do nothing. If I won the lottery I could retire and spend all my time writing every tiny detail of my incredibly mundane life down in a book or on a computer like this.” Guess I’ve been writing about that for a while now!

Dave out.