Forgery; Another thing they probably don’t teach in the boy scouts.

I always hated parent/teacher nights, and though I have few memories of my first two years at Our Lady of Fatima, my memories of the next six at Blessed Sacrament are still pretty clear. While moving to a new neighborhood and moving on to a new school was a welcome change. It did come with some unique pressures and expectations. You see, due to my parents working conflicting hours and the fact that their marriage was over by the time I was halfway through the first grade, my grandmother, who was a member of the church and lived just a short four blocks away. Always seemed to get the call when there was trouble.

Fast forward a few years, and I went from being told to sit in the corner and face the wall to being getting selected to join the smart kids in what was called ‘Group 1″. While this was a step up academically, there also added responsibilities and expectations to get better grades while performing at a higher level. While I could hold my own in social studies (aka History) and Language Arts (aka English) Science and Math would create challenges that would plague me throughout the years. While my grandmother, a mathematical genius in her own right, Her tutoring and reassuring did little to conquer anxieties that were manifested in the classroom by a towering and mean Sister Michael Marie. While none of the priests, sisters, or brothers of the Catholic Diocese were what you would consider kind, Sister Michael Marie seemed to have an unusually large bug up her ass. One that made her particularly venomous and quick-tempered. Looking back, she had to be about six feet seven with the build of an NFL linebacker. Rumor has it that she only joined the sisterhood she had tried out for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets before being turned down due to the vast quantities of male hormone supplements in her nether regions.

Somehow though, going from class to class, teacher to teacher had a better than expected outcome. Most teachers noted that I was a good student who could benefit from working harder and being a little less of a wise ass. There were a couple who indicated that my impulsive nature and self-control issues were my most significant obstacles; nothing my mother didn’t have prior knowledge to. Forgery (1 of 1)

I would have probably gotten an extra scoop of ice cream or even sprinkles that night if it were not for that last visit to my Math teacher Sister Michael Marie. When my mom explained that the kids were scared of her, Sister Michael Marie growled back, “No, they aren’t.” Luckily, they always kept fire extinguishers within reach, considering I saw her breath fire that night. It was then, when I looked at my mother as if to say “She’s all yours.” before deciding to wait in the hallway,

As tempers quelled and the meeting progressed, my mother and Sister Michael Marie discussed my case whee my teacher ultimately agreed to send me home with a weekly report card detailing the weeks’ tests, quizzes, and my shortcomings. My mother would read, sign, and trust me with its return before deciding on any form of punishment or torture. After two weeks of scorn from Sister Michael Marie and scolding from my mother, I knew I had to take things into my own hands. Though I had no training or prior experience with forgery, I began to study my mother’s handwriting and signature carefully. Within a week, I had it down to a science, from the loops and swoops to the artful curve in the “M’. I still recall the detail I put into signing that first report and the entranceway of the building I would pass before entering the schoolyard. Luckily, that Math wench never caught on. When my mom asked why she wasn’t getting any more weekly reports, I would innocently shrug it off and say, “I guess she forgot.” Though there was some mention of her calling the school to reinstate the reports that had magically ceased to show up, that call would never take place. With the help and angelic patience of my grandmothers’ tutoring, I managed to raise my disgraceful F to a somewhat acceptable D. For years to come. I would use the skills I learned in the fifth grade to offset the punishment and explaining that I would surely follow a letter sent from school reporting falling grades, behavioral issues, or flat out suspension. At the same time, I was never proud of the more deviant behavior I displayed during my adolescence. I like to think of some of my misdoings as survival techniques.

 

What’s that Smell?

As the dusk began to fall over the warm, sunny Tacoma sky and we continued to explore the industrial area just across the Tacoma Bridge. My wife kept asking “Do you smell that?” “It smells like shit.” TB-1After checking the bottom of my shoes and my tighty whities. I confidently replied “That’s horse shit.” Quickly and visibly puzzled, she cocked her head before asking “How do you know the difference between the smell of dog shit and horse shit?” Knowing an answer was required. I quickly replied “I grew up in New York City.” Despite that lingering smell and the questions of it’s origins. I really enjoyed my time under and around Tacoma Bridge.

 

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Day 10; (Asakusa) Tokyo

As we headed to Tokyo. I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious. The combination of an empty  stomach. My Sister-in-Laws taste in music and the fact that I had accidentally walked in on her as she was finishing up her shower were all in clear focus. Somehow those factors would stay with me for what seemed to be a long ride. Fortunately, for me and my wife. A really good meal washed any and all anxiety I may have carried in to the city that day. After an excellent meal at Tiger Gyoza Hall. We headed towards the Asakusa Shrines.  A small, yet highly populated area I fell in love with during my first trip to Japan in 2001.

This was my third trip to Tokyo since we arrived and I promised myself to be a little more open minded about the city than I had been in my two prior posts on the big city. Aa we inched closer to our destination the crowds thickened and I went from dodging passing bicyclists to avoiding collisions with pedestrians. Overall, it was a great day. The shrines were packed and I was both visually and spiritually stimulated. Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to Tokyo to have lunch with one of Kayuri’s closest friends Junko. (June-Ko) She was the head of my wife’s bridal party at our wedding. So it only seems fit that she will be taking us out for lunch and to see Star Wars “The Force Awakens”. Things are getting interesting around here… and elsewhere.

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A Christmas Story

I woke up from my best sleep yet at about 8:00 am.           Three hours later than my previous days here. After a short breakfast, headed downstairs to soak in the hot springs.       After a thorough soak and a refreshing shower. I headed to the adjacent room to dry off and get dressed before heading upstairs. Suddenly, I realized I had forgotten to bring a towel and the only thing there in the room to help me dry off was a box of tissues by the sink. Sopping wet with no phone or buttons to push for help.     I took the shirt I wore downstairs and wrapped it around my waist hoping to slink back to the apartment unnoticed. Unfortunately for me and anyone else who might run into me in the halls or elevator. My entire back side was left exposed. With no other choice I began my journey back to where I started. First, the hallway, check. Elevator, check. Front entrance, check. I was home free. That was until one of the staff curiously peeked out from his office. Noticeably soaked and ¾ naked.

I did my best to back track my way up the stairs.                 Bowing respectfully, repeating Japanese pleasantries as I attempted to slink my way towards the apartment. While his view of my back side may have been limited to just a few seconds. I’m sure the memory will haunt him to his grave and beyond.

As I got back to the apartment I called down the long narrow hall for Kayuri. Instead, her Mom was the first to respond erupting in laughter as she looked on. Next in line was Kayuri’s Dad who immediately reached for the camera bag to document the holiday cheer. The laughter throughout the apartment could not be contained. We were all holding our belly’s, attempting  to recover, long after I got hold of a towel. I’m glad I chose such wonderful people to expose myself to. A less humorous group might not take it so lightly. This little exchange far outweighs the first time her parents saw my tattoos, thinking I was in a gang. Or the time then entire family tried to coax a scorpion out the bathroom. Merry Christmas.

Memories Remain

Strangely enough, I have little to no memories of my parents time together. Being that their marriage was long over by the time I was six and legally documented by  divorce papers before I ever entered the second grade at the age of seven. It’s hard to recall or visualize much at all. The two or three events that have stuck with me all these years are not, by any means worth revisiting.

HorshackIIAs I do grow older, many of the memories of my very early life have been kept alive and unexplainably visual through story telling and writing about people and events that took place so many years ago. Some of my stronger memories from that time revolve around the toys and for the most part, action figures I collected throughout my childhood. Graduating to puberty and eventually adulthood. Much of the collections from my childhood were sold, donated or given to anyone willing to take them. In some very rare cases. I’ve come to reacquire some of the rarer or more unique items through flea markets and ebay searches.

For years I somehow held on to the the memory of one of my Mom’s eccentric friends giving me a Horshack figure from the then popular show “Welcome Back Kotter”. No, not Vinnie Barbarino, Freddie (Boom Boom) Washington, Epstein of even Mr. Kotter. The one and often lonely only Horshack. In limited searches over the years I’ve seen the boxed figure going upwards of sixty bucks on Ebay. I’ve even come across a buck naked, broken legged one at a Connecticut Flea Market priced at a dirty thirty. Finding this excellent condition nerd DeJour on Ebay for the price of a happy meal gave me an enduring nerdgasm I won’t soon forget. After years of searching. I finally hit gold. The only thing left to do was share. Enjoy.

Like Riding a Bike

One morning last week there came an authoritative knock on my door. On the other side of the door was a Viking helmet adorned neighbor blowing a horn declaring a day of action. Knowing the call of a Viking and the failure to properly follow Viking code full well. I followed him down to where the bikes, horses and Viking ships are docked. It had been a couple of years since I’d been on a a bike. (My last one, as well as every bike I’ve ever know has been stolen at one point or another.)IMG_3517 Knowing full well my history as well as my recent battles with gravity. Said friend let me take a spin around the safely enclosed garage to help me get familiar. After a few twists, turns, crashes and fall downs. I was granted my own Viking helmet and we were off. And while our buildings surroundings aren’t very bike or hike friendly. A sturdy mountain bike and a seasoned leader more than get the job done.

After a short ride down the hill and a slight turn to the right.IMG_3514    It seemed that we hit pay dirt. For that road led to all the things I love and enjoy both exploring and photographing.           Trains, factories, train yards… You name it.         The only thing missing was a junk yard with featuring an unchained rabid guard dog. I felt like a kid again. We hadn’t even made it half way to the end and I was already making reservations to return. After a few stops to take in the sites atop the railroad cars We took the road all the way to Secaucas before hitting what seemed to be the river of deceit.

After a break and a survey of the land we had discovered, conquered and thoroughly photographed. We headed back on the rocky path that brought us there. As time had passed I had become more and more comfortable with the slightly oversized bike. So much so that my buddy gave me his official thumbs up. Half way back, the days heat, coupled with my lack of balance began to take their toll. Like a good soldier, I kept the pace.IMG_3536 Assuring myself that, once we get passed this rocky strip of road and onto solid pavement, I’m home free.     Then, as soon as I hit solid ground. Every ounce of strength I had left gave out and I hit the pavement like a hundred and forty pound sack of wet bricks. Aside from a few bumps, bruises and damaged ego. I was fine. Though I ended up walking the bike the rest of the way home. The trip and the overall experience, as well as the opportunity to earn my very own Viking helmet, were more than worth the spilt blood. That weekend I returned, on foot of course, and did some more exploring as a solo act.   I really love that the area we chose to live in offers such a diverse and colorful landscape.

What’s Goes Up…

HoedownWe were driving through Connecticut this afternoon  when my wife, a native of Japan saw this big sign alongside the road.            She asked, like any foreigner to our darker, more seedy rituals      “What’s a Hoedown?” Seizing the moment like a tried and true wise ass.        I replied.  “It’s when a hooker (Hoe) fails to bring back the expected amount of money to her pimp.”       I replied. “When a hoe don’t show.” “That hoe goes down.” And I would have convinced her if I had managed to keep a straight face.             A few minutes later we came across this scene and my bad joke was forgotten.

Hoedown!!