Shaken, Not Stirred
Well, that's it for Poetry Week. I don't what the hell else to say about the stuff. Except that if you're writing it, you should probably try to stop and get help.
If we're friends on Facebook (and if we're not, really, don't you think we should be?) then you know my boy, Holden, has pneumonia, which has been about as stressful for his parents as you'd think. It's been a rotten three or four days of screaming and trips to the doctor, including a 2 a.m. ER visit when the little guy's fever spiked at 102.6 Saturday night. There's that scene in The Departed where Leo is explaining to his doctor how he's great in high pressure situations, and he shows her by holding out his hand. "It doesn't shake," he says. "My hand never shakes." Yeah, I'm like that, except the exact opposite.
My ex-wife (the one I loved) used to tell this story about the night I kicked over the candle in our apartment on 23rd Street, the way we'd woken up to flames moving up the chair and across the rug, about to envelope the whole apartment, and how I just stood there flapping my arms, turning in a circle, useless (before eventually gathering my bearings enough to fill some bowls with water and put the damn thing out).
That was pretty much what happened this past Saturday when Holden woke in the middle of the night, coughing and crying, face hot and pink, with a fever well over a bill. And in a moment where I could've risen to the occasion, been the man, I, again, melted and let my family down. It's pretty humiliating to be undone so easily.
Talking to my shrink on Monday, I told the doc how it isn't that I necessarily always create my own drama or make up my own tragedies--having a one-year-old with pneumonia is serious shit--I simply have a lower threshold than most (I am often my own worst enemy, imagining junkie diseases and throat cancer, just not this time). Most people who wake in the middle of the night to a screaming child, even one who has to go to the Emergency Room, are able to think rationally, make a plan of action, function. For whatever reason, the slightest bit of pressure causes me to crack. You put $5 on a 2-foot putt, and I'll miss that shit every time.
When I give readings, I will memorize my piece beforehand, however long that piece may be. Because I cannot actually read live. I get too nervous, stumble over words, start to sweat (and, yes, smell like salad dressing), and will fuck it up. Instead, I pretend to read. I'll stand there like a regular person, mic in front of me, making eye contact at the start of every paragraph (thanks for the tip, Justine), and I'll look down at the paper I hold in my hand, even move my head with each line. But I am not actually reading. It's a gimmick, a ruse, a parlor trick.
I've spoken of my need for routine before (http://tinyurl.com/3bpwvg5). And since I like to use visual aids, and since this post is woefully devoid of the Funny:
And this is what the kid really changes, what's proving to be the biggest challenge for me. Yeah, Holden sucks up my time, and, no, I can't go out and see bands or hang out with friends, but I never really liked doing that much in the first place. I've had to rearrange, not overhaul. But being a father has forced me to address perhaps my biggest shortcoming. Because I've done with my life what I do when I'm giving readings: I give the illusion of reaction in an effort to appear normal; but really I am merely carrying out a memorized, repeated action. Or to use a baseball analogy (and thus further endear myself to my dwindling female readership), I don't have a 90 mph fastball, a 12-to-6 curve, no movement. I have to be...crafty. Hit the corners, change speeds. I am Freddy Garcia.
I don't know why I included this picture. Honestly, I think I am still delirious, having caught whatever virus or cold from Holden that precipitated his pneumonia; I've been sleeping on and off for the last 24 hours, medicine making me all loosey goosey. But Freddy Garcia is carving out a nice season for himself with a fastball that tops out at a robust 72 mph, and I feel a kinship with the Big Chief. We are both Native American (yes, really), and, well, I guess that's it. That and the crafty part, the need to fool the opposition. But that isn't good enough anymore. Because now that I am dad, there are moments when I am going to need to react, think on my feet, handle adversity and be a man for my family.
Long story short, the doc is prescribing me new meds. I'll let you know how it works out.
And in closing...
Justine had bought me tickets for my 41st birthday to see Kids in the Hall at Cobbs Comedy Club this past Friday (actually, two of the Kids). But we couldn't go because Holden was sick. So if you'll allow me, I'd like to leave you with a couple father-related KITH clips...
Also, for Jimmy...