Print Story CheeseburgerBrown Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris
By CheeseburgerBrown (Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:39:27 AM EST) rolloffle (all tags)
Sleep is ambrosia.

I thought I was losing my shit last week, but then I got a solid night of sleep and by contrast was able to better gauge the depth of my exhaustion: total. My ability to think frays and my patience crumbles. I lose appetite. I awake with the taste of yesterday still in my mouth.

That night of sleep restored me but also teased me. It was cruel to know the spring in my step would melt unless my rest were reinforced, which remains unlikely most nights. I become hungry for unconsciousness. I see pictures of sleeping people and I want to kiss them.

I am willing to pay good money for sleep; to commit foul deeds for sleep; to pray for magic intervention to grant me sleep.

Alas, alas -- it is not to be.

Zombie Museologists & Dogs Who Eat Eyewear

On the weekend we hosted a small barbecue at the Old Schoolhouse. We supplied condiments and bread and propane and a place to sit and our guests brought meat and beer.

My daughter Popsicle has a new best friend, a twelve-year-old boy named Alex who has Asperger's Syndrome and who is infinitely patient and sweet with her, the son of celebrated yarn-blogger and teenhood friend of Littlestar's, Maggie. The only unfortunate part of the afternoon's play-date took place when Popsicle let our two-hundred-pound English Mastiff, Persephone, out of her kennel to frolic. Persephone frolicked right over to Alex and then somehow misinterpreted his anxiety as an invitation to wrestle and commenced rolling him over in the grass with great force.

"Um, I think your dog is mauling Alex," said Mistress Bengal, craning her head to get a better view through the warped glass of the schoolhouse windows.

I stepped out on the porch. "Are you having fun or are you upset?" I called. Alex began to scream and to thrash frantically. Upset, I decided.

His step-father Jeremy was faster off the mark, sprinting past me down the steps and crossing the yard in a couple of strides. Popsicle was yelling at Persephone to lay off, but the dog didn't listen until I applied my low-register high-volume command-voice. She didn't understand why the fun had stopped. "Kennel, idiot!" I told her, pointing the way. Persephone trotted off.

I recovered Alex's destroyed spectacles from the long grass while he was comforted back to coherence by his parents.

"Know what?" said Maggie; "you just earned yourself a morning off school so we can get new glasses."

"What about his spares?" asked Jeremy.

"These are his spares."

"Yeah," agreed Alex, wiping away his tears. "Remember the basketball?"


After dinner we were entertained by a tale from the Scotch Museologist in which he was mistaken by a contingent of his co-workers for a corpse. It happened like this: when the Scotch Museologist first came on board at the Textile Museum of Canada he was responsible for developing on-line exhibits and thus was easily confused in the minds of some people for the museum's IT guy. Later, the IT guy was dumped by his girlfriend and the cleft in his heart was sufficiently deep that he felt the only way to escape his misery was death, so he took his own life. A sensitive e-mail of news and condolences was circulated at the museum. Then, when the Scotch Museologist showed up for work the next week he caused several members of the staff to risk cardiac arrest as they became convinced they were experiencing a supernatural event. "Didn't you -- uh, didn't you commit suicide last week?"

"No," said the Scotch Museologist.

Playing Belgium to the Cancer Nazis

The Art Department at work has two $CORPORATE_COLOUR doors, one facing the cubicle farm and the other providing alternative passage to the rear parking lot for those who don't feel like running the glass-walled gauntlet of Sales Alley while on their way to smoke cigarettes out back.

None of us in Art has a problem with this, at least in part because nine tenths of the people employed here are of the feminine persuasion and we are not averse to chatting them up on their way to and fro. Art is the "cool" department in the building -- loud music, off-colour humour, fun work -- so it seems only natural that there should be a certain confluence with the club of cool smokers. We enjoy the parade of slightly stale smelling girls with their gossip and envy and low-dosage whining.

However, we were recently visited by a wraith known as the Vice President of Very Important Things who personally commanded us to erect a sign denying access to the parking lot through Art. "It should say No Thoroughfare," she said. "In any font you like," she added, to demonstrate her sense of enlightened flexibility.

In high school I took a mandatory Canadian History course which busied itself with familiarizing us with the various ways our boys had died in the Great Wars of the Twentieth, not so much to add context to our historical understanding but more likely as an effort to supply us with nationalistic rejoinders when snobs from more important countries suggest Canada contributes jack-shit to the World At Large.

"Bullshit! Two Nova Scotians choked on their own vomit at Ypres!"

Since we weren't a particularly sharp bunch our teacher spent a lot of time trying to educate us with political cartoons from the eras we were studying, and I recall with particular clarity one cartoon in which a fleet of threatening Panzers were piling onto one another, stopped in their tracks by a large sign barring the way to Belgium. The sign said: NO THOROUGHFARE. This prompted the insightful and scholarly class-wide question, "What the hell is thoroughfare?"

Our teacher explained that at the time Belgium had declared itself Swiss in the war against Nazi Germany and we were supposed to admire their courage in barring military access to France. Thoroughfare meant passing through and the Belgians were having none of it.

"My God," I said after the Vice President of Very Important Things had left, "we've been drafted as Belgians."

"So what happened when Belgium tried to stop the Nazis?" asked Unit B.

I shrugged. "I think they drove tanks over their houses and put the prisoners in Death Camps."


The word on the street is that the Vice President of Very Important Things was more positively inclined toward the smokers in the past, but then she quit smoking herself and her tolerance for the smokers' French-like penchant for incessant break-takery waned to a barely perceptible sliver. I do not know whether this is true. I'm new.

Unit B took it upon himself to create the sign. He filled a page with 8-point type covering various subjects (from "Ask us about our motion graphics specials!" to a repetition of "Kill Flanders!") to serve as a halo of camouflage for the tiny words "No Thoroughfare," effectively reducing the prescribed commandment to a Where's Waldo? puzzle.

"There," he said, affixing it to the cubicle-facing door with a lick of Scotch tape. "That ought to keep the chicks flowing."

A moment later one of the chief smokers stuck her head in to ask, "Who the hell is Flanders?"

(For the record, this is Flanders.)

"He's a guy I want to kill," replied Unit B.

My favourite smoking chick is the shy, babyfaced blonde whose office is situated next to the IT guy. She is always frowning and never talks to anyone, so I have made it my mission to make eye contact and say "goodmorning!" to her to make her smile (fleetingly) as she passes through Art. Yesterday she even managed to whisper "hello" back to me, which I consider to be a major breakthrough.

(What can I say? I have a soft spot for blondes who remind me of my wife.)

The Broken Members of my Family

My parents-in-law live on the first floor of our three storey schoolhouse, in what used to be the storm cellar. In Old World fashion, Littlestar and I have pledged to house them free of charge until they expire (at which point they may be replaced down there by a set of my own aging parents -- turn, turn, turn).

My father-in-law is bipolar, suffers from chronic depression, and operates with a serious brain injury incurred years ago when an irate colleague on a construction site clocked him with a metal girder in the course of a debate.

This means that every six months or so my father-in-law finds a way to believe that I (or my wife or her brother or anyone else) am working covertly behind his back in order to destroy his life. These fits of paranoia come like clockwork and I have begun to jot them into my calendar for the purposes of prediction.

However, knowing a storm is coming is no guarantee that you won't get wet. The most comfort prediction can provide is the calm that comes from knowing that walking through the rain will get me just as wet as running, so there's little point in getting into a tizzy.

Nevertheless, I sometimes weary of being wet, and just wish he would die.

My son's condition offers more hope. With the agonizing gradualness of nonlinear biologic works, his colic is in retreat. Less often now is Littlestar punished by a complete day of pacing around with a screaming infant strapped to her, and less often now my evenings are comprised of endless laps around the livingroom while singing and humming and patting his wee back.

He looks like me. He touches his face like me. When I was a baby, I cried like he does.

Yesterday Popsicle tumbled from a kitchen chair at her Nana's while attempting to share her lunch with a stuffed dolphin, and split her chin open. Nana took her to the hospital and comforted her while they stitched the wound. "I cried a lot a lot," Popsicle reported to us. "But now I feel better, even though I still have my big ouchie."

I have trouble looking at the wound. It is not particularly gory, but the hard whiskers of black stitching poking through the crusted blood makes me feel cold in my breast in a sick, falling way. She should never have to be hurt. I cannot abide the thought, much less the sight.

We slept in the same bed last night, she and I, while Littlestar and Baby Yam took the couch downstairs to afford us an extra measure of peace. We talked for a long time, letting our conversation range wherever she cared to take it. We discussed the habits of bears and how the way people look can change as they age; we talked about the eggs in her abdomen that might one day become children of her own; we touched on the meterological differences between living near the poles of Earth versus living near the equator; we covered the subject of needles and doctors and nurses and blood.

I kept falling asleep. She kept waking me back up. I respond to her voice instantly. If someone were to create the perfect alarm clock for me, upon reaching the appointed hour it would chime "Papa, I need somefing!" in my daughter's voice. No power could keep me unconscious.

She needed more water, and then when I got her more water she needed help finding her cup in the dark. Just past midnight she woke me up to ask if we could watch cartoons. At three o'clock she had nightmares, and I soothed her while she slept on. At four o'clock she commenced kicking me in the kidneys at ten minute intervals. At six o'clock she said she wanted breakfast, and by twenty past six she could no longer be stalled.

The sun is orange and it smells like moist summer outside. My limbs are made of iron and I feel like I've been punched in each eye two or three times by somebody very angry. Making oatmeal and tea is a Herculean task.

Littlestar and Baby Yam are asleep on the couch, their faces pressed together. Popsicle is curled on an easychair, playing with a cat's tail. "I love you, Papa," she says carelessly.

"I love you, too."

"I love you too also, Papa."

I smile and find the strength I need to start my day. Who could complain?

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CheeseburgerBrown Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
i dont sleep either by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:05:15 AM EST
and my kidneys get kneed, and my eyeballs elbowed.

also, you didnt answer my email, you non-emailing fucker.
Send me to Austria!

I'm Sorry. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:28:45 AM EST
I'm functioning at Busy Level 9, and it slipped through the cracks. Do you still need help, or was somebody else able to pick up the slack?

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
i got it by LilFlightTest (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:37:28 AM EST
if it makes you feel better, you were at the top of my "i wonder who can help me" list, and the rest of husi is just a cheap substitute. that's right, i just called 'em a cheap hussy.

if you do feel like emailing back, though, i need phone numbers and such if we're gonna come over and play during our visit to barrie in a few weeks.
Send me to Austria!

[ Parent ]
You're going to Barrie? by Driusan (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:53:44 AM EST
Why, for the love of god and all that is holy, would you visit Barrie?

Vive le Montréal libre.
[ Parent ]
Proximity to the Old Schoolhouse... by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:48:01 PM EST
See, that's what I figured. by Driusan (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed May 10, 2006 at 04:14:15 PM EST
Till I realized that the schoolhouse is more proximous to the schoolhouse than Barrie is.

Vive le Montréal libre.
[ Parent ]
nick by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #11 Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:51:02 PM EST
Colour me confused by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:21:09 AM EST
Is it a Museum on Scotch, or a Museum on Textiles? The Scots of this board are busy sitting down to a dish of piping hot haggis, and asked me to clarify.

That colic is amazing when it goes away. I still have a wav of nine year old in her colickly glory, I shall find it.

He Is Of Scottish Extraction. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:30:21 AM EST
And he deals in textiles, but the textiles are not of a Scottish nature.

About colic and relativity: when the kid goes to bed before eleven PM I feel like I am a walking orgasm. Whee!

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
you know by 606 (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed May 10, 2006 at 12:55:30 PM EST
One way to obtain sleep would be to not use your time writing 2000-word missives like these... but I thank you for writing, as always, and I understand the impetus. I have a TV I never watch...

imagine dancing banana here
that doesn't take as much time as you think. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:10:00 PM EST
The Writing Situation: by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 3) #9 Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:45:43 PM EST
Very early in my very dense day of work today I ran out of storage space on my machine, even after all non-active or semi-active projects had been burned to DVD or archived to a shelf-drive.

I walked into the office of the Vice President of Getting Shit Done and said, "I am at a complete standstill on all projects until I get another internal hard-drive. I need it today, do or die."

The Vice President of Getting Shit Done said, "Let's go talk to the President of the United States of Paycheques."

So we walked over to his office and I repeated my succinct spiel. He left a quick voicemail over speakerphone to the Vice President of Very Important Things informing her that we'd be making a hardware purchase, and then told us to get big-assed internal drive couriered over ASAP.

The Office Manager told me the courier was being paid for three hour service, and I would have my drive by 1400h.

So, then I went back to Art and wrote this post and watched the Season 2 finale of Battlestar Galactica while I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

My drive came at 1630h. I installed it and then called it a day. Now I'm making laps in my livingroom, writing one or two sentences at time, with a baby tied to my bosom. Okay, he's letting me write a whole paragraph now -- cool.

Popsicle is dancing around the room after me singing about crocodiles.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
out of hard drive space already? by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #12 Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:26:03 PM EST
that's incredible.

here's a toast to the hope that you will find more writing time soon. :)

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Internal Drive Was Only 160 GB by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #13 Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:32:30 PM EST
I've been writing DVDs every two or three days in order to continuously shuttle stuff off of the machine to make room.

I routinely output 10 or 20 GB of material per day.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
wow. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #14 Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:43:37 PM EST
as both a coder and a writer i can't comprehend those numbers. 20 GB of code and/or 20 GB of writing every day would likely kill me.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
6.5 MB per Frame, 29.97 Frames per Second by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #15 Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:46:09 PM EST
Question: by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 1) #16 Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:23:04 PM EST
With that sort of description of your domestic bliss, the walking around the livingroom part, why hasn't somebody offered to film your life and turn into a television show?

I know I'd watch.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
baby 2's still rockin' the colic, i see by 606 (2.00 / 0) #25 Thu May 11, 2006 at 06:15:28 AM EST
Poor little guy. It's like his duodenum is lacking suction and you've got to shake the food down like it's going down a funnel. Either that or he's just being distracted from his guts. Is he too young for one of those automatic shakers? Jumpers I think they're called. Or did they outlaw those for being unsafe?

And hey, does baby2 have a defined Internet name yet?

imagine dancing banana here

[ Parent ]
Singing about crocodiles by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #29 Fri May 12, 2006 at 12:28:57 AM EST
Every time I read about Popsicle I realise how badly I need a daughter...

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Which reminds me: by johnny (4.00 / 1) #18 Wed May 10, 2006 at 04:35:00 PM EST
I should have the next few chapters -- 2 or 3 or 4 of them -- up by the end of the weekend.  Please God. 

It has been a busy time for me also.

Good on you for writing all that down, especially what the young ones say.  There is nothing more precious in God's creation, and you'll be glad you did.   Assuming you don't croak first from exhaustion.

On which last point, don't do that before our book is back from printer, OK?

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

Is this the cartoon? by aye (4.00 / 2) #19 Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:16:18 PM EST

(from )

I Remembered Tanks... by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu May 11, 2006 at 01:34:59 AM EST
...But I must be mis-remembering. I'm pretty sure that's it! Nice!

(I triedly briefly to find it myself, but failed.)

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
It's very apt by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #30 Fri May 12, 2006 at 12:30:05 AM EST
That it looks as if that kid is going to get the beating of his life

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Good Diary by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #20 Thu May 11, 2006 at 01:02:03 AM EST

"In any font you like,"

I was going to suggest 'Kanji'.

Also: Mastiff's rock. 'Tis all.

Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
Wingdings is a font /nt by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #28 Thu May 11, 2006 at 02:52:39 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Littlestar is shy and always frowning? by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #22 Thu May 11, 2006 at 02:21:24 AM EST
Since when?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

No, She Doesn't Those Characteristics. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #24 Thu May 11, 2006 at 04:30:29 AM EST
nice by tps12 (4.00 / 2) #23 Thu May 11, 2006 at 03:53:40 AM EST
I have made it my mission to make eye contact and say "goodmorning!" to her to make her smile
"What's a pretty girl like you looking so sad about?" is always a winner. A light slap on the ass would also be appreciated.

He's married remember? by littlestar (4.00 / 1) #26 Thu May 11, 2006 at 06:53:15 AM EST
Let's not get out of hand.

[ Parent ]
Indeed! Why Order Take-Out? by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #27 Thu May 11, 2006 at 08:51:54 AM EST
Always makes me smile by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #31 Fri May 12, 2006 at 12:33:03 AM EST
Reading about Popsicle. And when she grows up and gets all moody I'll have Sebastian's antics to read about!

It's political correctness gone mad!

Adorable Diary by duxup (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue May 16, 2006 at 08:40:37 AM EST
Not adorable:

In any font you like

I like to think that I can maintain my composure in most situations but I’m not sure I would have with a line like that.  Hilarious.

CheeseburgerBrown Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback