The Teenagers’ Guide to Pitching Plans to Your Parents

Published December 7, 2016 by April Fox

I love technology.

I mean most of the time, except when it eats my articles and I’m going OMIGOD I’M ON A DEADLINE YOU PIECE OF MECHANICAL GARBAGE HOW COULD YOU EAT MY WORK I HAVE BILLS TO PAY but yeah, most of the time it’s cool, especially when it comes to texting.

I get that I’m old and I’m supposed to hate these newfangled phones that have everyone preoccupied 23.5 hours a day, but if there’s something that can keep me from having to have actual talking conversations with people, I’m all about it. It also streamlines communication, even with people I enjoy talking to, such as my kids.

Texting would be the ideal method for things like making plans while I’m at work and the kids are at school, or for asking quick questions… if it was used to actually share information, which is something my kid seems to have problems with.

Before I go any further, let me say that I have awesome kids. The best, really. Baby girl is in high school now, and she goes where she’s supposed to when she’s supposed to, does reasonably well in school (freshman year sucks), and as far as I know, hasn’t done any of the things I did at that age, that should have gotten me arrested or killed. But. This texting thing. Oy.

Now I am not complaining about how much she talks, because I love our conversations and I love that she shares her life with me, but this is what she sounds like when she comes home from school (with names changed to protect the innocent):

“Oh my god mom. Petunia is so stupid. We were in class and she said that Jim Bob liked Louise but everyone knows he likes Francine and Louise is gay so it doesn’t even matter, but Petunia just likes to start drama with everyone, and so then she was talking and Mr. B was like, “Baby girl, sit down and do your work,” and I was like, “fool, I wasn’t even talking,” I mean I didn’t really say that, but why is he telling me to be quiet and not even saying anything to Petunia? So then I went to English and Mrs. K was like, “Did you do your homework,” and I was like, “Yessssss,” which is stupid because I read that book in like fourth grade and oh my god, it’s so dumb, like why do I have to read it again? And then at lunch Braden took my apple and gave it to Stephanie, and she gave it back, but it was right before we had to go back to class so I didn’t even get to eat it, so now I’m starving. Do we have any pudding? When did you buy Cheetos? What are we having for dinner? I’m going to make some chocolate milk. When are we getting a Christmas tree?”

My point is, she is not afraid of sharing details.

So today she texts me from school, and it’s a very typical exchange, and it always starts like this:

“Can I go to this place with this person?”

Usually I know the place and the person, and it would probably be fine to iron out the details later, but there are two things about that:

One, I am not always available to drive her places and pick her up, and once in a while we actually do things as a family, and I like to make sure our plans don’t conflict.

And two, I know she’s not me but she’s a kid, and as soon as you say yes without knowing the details, you’re in for a world of trouble. For example, had I asked my mom when I was a teenager, “Can I go to the Motley Crue concert next month?” and she said yes without any further information, I would have been halfway to LA in a van with 15 dudes with tattoos and fake leather pants bought out of the back of Metal Edge magazine, on a pay phone going, “But Mommmmmm you said I could go!” So yeah. I need details.

So here’s how it goes:

Can I go to the mall with Louise?

When, and how are you getting there?

Tuesday. Her mom can maybe take us.

Tuesday what time? How would you get home?

Around 4. Could you pick me up?

Maybe. Would you ride the bus home with Louise after school, or what?

No. You need to drive me to Louise’s house.

What time?

Three.

You get out of school at three.

Oh. Three-thirty.

Would I need to pick you up from the mall or from Louise’s house?

I don’t know. 

Can you find out? Louise’s house is 10 minutes away. The mall is 45. 

OK. So can I go?

I don’t even know where or when to pick you up.

Oh. Seven. 

Where?

I don’t know. Could you get me at Petunia’s?

See what I mean? Here’s how the conversation should start:

Can you please take me to Louise’s house around 330 on Tuesday so we can go to the mall, and then pick me up at her house at 7?

That’s an effective pitch. It gives me all the pertinent information up front, and it gives me a lot less time to think about the fact that she hasn’t cleaned her room in six months, and the last time she went to the mall with Louise she got mad because Louise hid in the photo booth with Braden for half an hour while baby girl was stuck in Spencer’s looking at plastic vomit by herself, until she ran into Francine and they went to eat at the food court, where they stayed until she texted me to be picked up… and you can imagine how that went.

 

 

Vultures

Published November 30, 2016 by April Fox

Plastic vultures,

pale and fat

shiny beaks spitting out

the phrases that they’ve learned

from television,

Cool Kid Slang

the mating call

of the

desperate-

circling, waiting

for the chance to pluck the eyes out

of the children

they were never meant to have.

 

Spot Light.

Published November 27, 2016 by April Fox

In the hallways, we shared stories

of the darkness, passed folded

slips of paper

palm to palm, like contraband

secret payment for the ticket

to get in

We hid in corners, trading

tales and malcontent,

pound for pound, tracing scars and

licking salt

away from skin

The cracks behind the wall

bled our secrets through.

We drowned our boundaries in coffee, sat up until

our eyes bled red and the words

we spoke were smooth

against our tongues

The moon outside the window

was a spotlight

shining in.

Dust.

Published November 9, 2016 by April Fox

For the first time in my life,

I feel old.

I am old

but I never felt that way before, never felt

beat down

even when I was

beat down.

Never felt this ache, this deep

this tired fear that’s crept into my bones, my joints my blood

my brain.

There’s a black-and-white photograph of Tom Waits hung up in the pantry

a beer bottle sitting on the table

blood stains on my sneakers and life should be

alright

I should be ready

to continue, to set myself on fire, but today

I just feel old

and I can only watch things smolder

turn to dust.

Election 2016.

Published November 5, 2016 by April Fox

It’s almost over.

This election season has been hell. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and when he lost the primary, I was hit hard. I’m not a political expert by any means; I don’t know a lot about public policy or the ins and outs of political wrangling. I don’t know enough, I guess, to look past the human being that each candidate represents and understand the political machinery inside their heads.

I know that there was a guy who wanted to help people, and that wasn’t what the majority wanted. That’s putting things in the most simplistic terms possible, but that’s the bottom line. He wanted to help, and people said no.

And then it got ugly, uglier than any campaign I’ve seen in my, what, 24 years? of voting.

Every time Donald Trump opened his mouth, I thought, “No. This is where people say, ‘enough’.” That “enough” never happened, and we are looking at the reality of him becoming president. Frankly, after seeing the lack of response to the horrific way the Sioux tribe is being treated over DAPL, I don’t feel good about anyone in the running. The teenage son of a woman with whom I’m acquainted was beaten and jailed, just for being there. He had gone there with his family to help feed those trying to defend their water supply. A cousin of a writer I know suffered the same, having his possessions stolen on top of everything else. These are real people being hurt, not characters on a TV show, but we watch as if they are, less angry about their fate than we are about Glenn’s poor scrambled brains leaking onto the set of The Walking Dead.

I’m a cranky, apathetic, cynical little shit, but this lack of caring on such a massive scale is crushing me. Lack of concern for Native Americans, for LGBT folks, for people of color, for children, for women, the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, veterans… Lack of concern, it seems, for anyone who isn’t involved in the exclusive financial circlejerk that is our federal government.

So I went and I voted, not for anything in particular, but against the worst of it. I voted against Trump, and against the disgusting governor of my state, Pat McCrory, who has worked incredibly hard to destroy the lives of as many of his constituents as he possibly can. I voted, and I felt just as bad walking out as I did going in.

Election season is like Christmas when you’re a kid. You get all riled up in the weeks before, deal with the inevitable elation or disappointment when the gifts are all unwrapped, and then a week later, the new clothes are in the washer with all your old stuff, the new toys are on their sides with dead batteries, and you’re back in school having the same old conversations about the same old shit and learning the same pointless garbage they’ve been feeding you since you were toilet trained.

It’s not going to get better unless we keep being angry past election day. We have to keep fighting everything that’s wrong, every day. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s not fun, and there’s something cool on Netflix, and we have money for Taco Bell, so tonight let’s not think about it, right? And tomorrow it’s something else, and the next day, another thing, and then it’s election day again and we’re irate again, for just a minute, and then it’s done.

And then it’s done.

And trans people keep getting beaten up in bathrooms. And gay people keep getting their houses painted with ugly graffiti. And the mentally ill keep floundering, with nowhere to go for help, and children keep going hungry, and veterans keep dying on the streets for lack of care, and women die of cancer while they try to raise the funds for mammograms. Black men keep getting murdered for the crime of being Black. Native Americans choose between bullets or giving in to slow poisoning, and the politicians keep getting richer with every shot that’s fired. But every four years, we give a shit, so it’s okay.

I’m going to take a nap.

Skeletons 

Published November 4, 2016 by April Fox

It used to be we kept them

locked up tight, bound and 

gagged, jaw bones chained

to the floor and filthy rags taped

over the holes

where the eyes once waited,

watching. 

Now we buy them brand new

Pick them out of catalogs, customized

with all the latest

diagnoses, all the fancy

damage upgrades

Shabby chic

for the narcissist soul

And we dress them up in

costume pieces, gaudy beads and trendy things that scream 

I have my shit together 

but for these bones, here-

See my bones?

We walk them on parade, 

let them strut out before us

slapping all the other people

in the way-

There is no room for your bones here

Look at all my splintered parts 

cast from latex

and gummy resin. 

Mine are the only ones. 

And in the back room

in the closet, padlocked

tight

The skeletons who know the truth

are chewing through their bonds,

prepared to speak. 

Dean Ween Interview for Songfacts 

Published October 5, 2016 by April Fox

“If you’ve kept up with the man over the years, you know that he’s a skilled musician and a clever lyricist, and those traits shine on The Deaner Album. “Tammy” written by anyone else could have been just another mullet-rock scorned-man-on-the-road revenge song, but Dean Ween spins the story with a lyrical prowess that rivals the likes of Elvis Costello and Tom Waits, but with that touch of crude, not-quite humor that leaves no doubt as to who wrote it. “Charlie Brown” is a beautifully grungy one-man show, with Dean playing all the instruments on a song that no doubt strikes a chord with anyone who has ever been at the end of their figurative rope; it’s the universal lament, with a mature stroke of hope at the very end. “Exercise Man” is straight up Dean Ween all the way, fast-paced and snarling, backed by the Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood on guitar and full of the kind of pure snark we’ve come to expect from the man himself.”

Read my interview with Dean Ween here, wherein he talks about his new album with The Dean Ween Group, and a bunch of other stuff including his mom’s killer profiteroles. 

http://www.songfacts.com/blog/interviews/dean_ween/

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