In spite of being separated for over 2.5 years, being divorced all summer, and the on-spot observation that both my ex-wife and I are better human beings when not in each other’s presence, my daughter wanted to have dinner with both of us. She is 11. I get it. When she took a long time on her birthday wish before blowing out the candles, I could only guess at what she was thinking. She has not held back for a moment on letting us know at every moment what she is thinking and feeling (including reconstructing the former version of the family). She does not wear her heart on her sleeve, but displays it on a large dirigible that is constantly circling overhead.

When she is angry, it’s not much fun, but at other times, when she is feeling generous, compassionate, kind and loving–which is quite often, actually–she is a contagious source of happiness.

So, in a way, even though she can be volatile, doesn’t worry me. I know what she is thinking. I know what she is feeling. And because I know these things, I can (usually) work with what I have with some sort of solid footing. She wants her mom and me–and her brother–together with her on her birthday. I can do that. I can behave, be sociable, and suppress the gunpowder when the ex either intentionally or unintentionally goes to light the fuse, which is easily ignited around here.

My son, on the other hand, is a cipher. In these past 2.5 years of separation and wrangling, he has only said one sentence about the divorce, in an aside to his sister. I have no idea what he is thinking. I do not whether he is angry, sad, OK with it, or–using his most commonly used adjective these days–annoyed.

I made it through the dinner. The ex-little woman made it through dinner (didn’t bat 1.000, but was close). I’m not in the unbiased position to judge my own behavior.

from extension.missouri.edu

from extension.missouri.edu

It’s only food, you nitwits!

However, the new Maple Walnut Blondies at Trader Joe’s might be a new addiction.




What did you do?


A Tale of the Search for a Formula of Youth

or that part of life which Grant’s character refers to as a period of

“maladjustment, near-idiocy, and a series of low-comedy disasters.”


OK, we all know that Netflix sucks raw eggs, even while we let it suck up half of the nation’s bandwith every evening. Given that most of the offerings are movies you’d never want to see, or bad cable fodder (which my 10 year-old daughter can’t seem to get enough of–she’s been through all of Cake Boss and Toddlers and Tiaras), imagine how surprised I was when the movie I wanted to see was actually available for streaming:


Monkey Business (1952), a Howard Hawks comedy with Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and Marilyn Monroe. Thar she was!

Really, dahlinks, you must watch this. It is a brilliant comedy, at least for the first half, and a good one for the second.


–more or less–that my life sounds horrific.

But it isn’t.

She said she was going to worry  (which I don’t believe) and she wanted me to tell her something good.

So for all of my Rufus-loving, Meta-Bug reading empathizers out there, I send this link.

This was the old post.

¡starring María Antonia García Vidal de Santo Silas! ¡Cachimba!

¡Starring María Antonia García Vidal de Santo Silas!

And I am scared.

None of these things ever turns out like we imagine. Did we think that a bad OS that gave as its initial prompt as “C:\” would lead to a computer geek having the greatest power in the world in public health, a subject in which he has no expertise?

Did we think that the expensive world of books would turn into the Amazon 1 cent book? That books would be worth more as fuel than as reading material, while textbooks remained the obscene rapist of student bank accounts?

Do we want to send more money to a country that would be happy to bury us economically–as well as swallow up their neighbor–while they make no advances towards human rights?

And if we don’t want these things, is there anything we can do to stop the juggernauts? (Rhetorical question, amigos)

More on this later. I’m moving tomorrow (finally), and I gots me some stuff to do.

Meanwhile, recycle this!

How much information is in this hard drive?

How much information is in this hard drive?

It’s too easy to press the “print” button. All sorts of scientific articles–as well as other stuff–in here. I wonder if there is more information in my trash than was present in the library of Constantinople (before the Venetians pillaged the entire town in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost. Amen.)



So now my daughter is in fifth grade, and her birthday is coming almost upon us, but she has been worrying for at least a month about what we are going to do.


nixon birthday

This is tough. No dad wants to disappoint his children, even if when disappointment is inevitable, and even when the disappointment is good for them to boot. (No dear, we are not renting 2 stretch limos for you and your friends, and taking all of you on a whirlwind trip to Disney). Life lessons, you know. (Not that my daughter asked for that, but ya know, expectations higher than reality. Thank goodness we don’t live in Westchester County.)

Moreover, even though I’m divorced and have been living apart from my ex for over 2.5 years, this is yet another occasion where my ex’s and I  embarrassingly pitiful ineptitude  at co-parenting  will become obvious in exquisite detail to not only my children, but (alas) to anyone who ventures within shouting distance (the normal range of her communication) of my ex. Regrettably, she does not have a whispering distance,or even a discreet distance (example: my great embarrassment, with her screaming at me from across the lobby at the Middlesex County Courthouse, not to chastise me for one of my many defects, but just to relay her latest counteroffer; me, walking over,  trying to explain how the other hapless souls there were probably not all that interested in our divorce–except for the parts about Scarlett Johannson being an excellent step-mom–and that even if the others present were  somehow so bored with their own lives as to be interested in our very mundane fights, I did not feel like updating the small percentage of MA who had, impossibly, not heard my ex’s opinion of me, our marriage, our divorce, and my afore-alluded-to shortcomings as a parent, human being, etc. Meanwhile, the lawyers charge while we wait for the judge who is downstairs at, of all things,  a party, welcoming some other very average human being to the bench. So while they eat sheet cake–wait, do judges eat sheet cake, or do they get something nicer, the least he could have done was brought us up a slice, seeing as while he stuffs his cake-hole, we pay the lawyers, his little rush party costing us collectively over $1o a minute,  all the more annoying because nobody really seems to give a shit, the whole idea of containing cost is foreign to these right honourable  gentlefolk. . .)

And like most things, this party discussion will in all likelihood come down to a manner of money. My ex does not let a conversation go by without finding a way to dun me for some expense, from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous, from the petty to the vengeful (Yes, I did get the house in the divorce, but you should pay for the diseased tree removal because the tree was here while you lived here and if I amortize the benefit you received from its shade, and besides that I would really like to not have to spend all the money if I can get you to shell out something).

Anyway, we weren’t going to spend a  (relative) ton of money on the birthday party this year, most of our disposable income having gone to supporting our legal system (like our health system, the best in the world!). In the end, the ex caves to the kid, and I am left with a few bad choices, the least evil of which is contributing to a birthday party I cannot afford and which even has my daughter a bit nervous due to the social complications.


Indoor water park, here we come. Or rather, there they go. After last year’s birthday fiasco, I will send my money, but not myself. I will celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her in a less populated venue, with fewer guests and fewer complications, the week before.

Stay tuned for Part 3!