August 19, 2011

I Have These, and I Am Lucky

There’s an intentionally idiotic contest I have with a colleague of mine who works in my office. It began when I started to amass decorative items on my desktop. Some of them are from my kids, such as a retractable keyboard brush that says “#1 Dad,” or a cell phone holder which I use to hold my business cards with “Dad” printed on it also, and a vinyl, stuffed “Yankees” baseball, among other things.

One day, as I was digging through reams of data, I took note of the stuff I am hoarding on my workspace. I picked up and scented candle given to me as a Christmas present years ago and I said:

“Richard, I have this, and you do not.”

He took note of my offering, searched his messy surroundings and picked up one of his items, I think it was a can of Pepsi, and replied: “Michael, I have this, and you do not.”

And so, our juvenile game was born.

Yet, that is not why I have these trinkets and souvenirs in the first place.  In the past week, I added two wooden shot glasses with “Haiti” carved on one of them which I bought while on a cruise with my family this summer. Our ship stopped in Labadee, Haiti, and I bargained for them with the shop owner.  He started the bidding at twenty-five dollars each. After I told him that only in Fantasy Land he can get someone to pay that kind of money for his junk, I whittled him down to three dollars apiece. When I look at them positioned beneath my monitor, I think about wading through the waters under the Haitian sky with my son riding on my back. My wife and daughter are on the beach trying to get tan, and for a day, we are in paradise.

August 18, 2011

Have Phone, Will Shoot -- Pictures

The cell phone is so ubiquitous, that no one questions the fact that these devices have become more like Swiss Army knives than merely telephones. I remember when I made my first cell phone call. It was in my friend Jeff's car and we were coming back from the Hamptons. It was around 1992. I remember this because my wife and I were married the year before and we were no longer newlyweds by then.

Jeff bought this gray, wedge of plastic with large punch buttons, and a narrow LCD screen for around three hundred dollars. Though cell phones had been around for a few years by then, they were for people with money who also liked to flaunt the fact that they were able to make phone calls from train platforms and restaurants. I joked with my friend telling that if he waited a year, phone companies would be giving them away. Wow, was I right on that one. 

August 14, 2011

A Ghost in the Dunes

In the second tier at the Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach, I settled into my seat for the big concert. My wife and I took our kids to see My Chemical Romance and Blink 182 for the Tenth Anniversary Honda Civic Tour. Though it was quite a while since I attended a show at this arena, I have a long history at Jones Beach State Park.

My father was a World War II veteran who worked for the Brooklyn Navy Yard for twenty years. Upon his retirement, he got a job with the now-defunct Long Island State Park Commission. He spent his time traveling back and forth between Robert Moses State Park, Captree, and Jones Beach. During summer, he’d take my brothers and sisters and I to any one of the fields at Robert Moses and leave us while he went about his duties. I was the fifth child out of six, and my older sister was well-equipped to keep a careful eye on us younger ones while we splashed around in the waves.