Lefty Parent

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Circle of equals

Clubius Incarnate Part 6 – Attic

April 15th, 2018

Back from our tricycle adventure, we went in the front door of Molly’s house. I loved the inside of her house. It had lots of furniture unlike mine. But what I really liked the most was that it had many more choices and places to go than mine, and every room was up or down from the other rooms, with stairs everywhere. Where our house was simple, Molly’s was “complicated”, a word I heard my parents use. I thought it was like the pirate ship in the Treasure Island book my dad had read me. The book had pictures of the deck and inside the ship.

Just inside the front door of Molly’s house was the first choice. You had to choose whether to go straight and up the stairs, or go right into the living room. I could remember right from left because my mom had told me to pretend I was throwing a ball, that was left, and the other side was right. Unlike our living room which was pretty empty, Molly’s had this big thing called a “couch”, which was like a giant chair for more than one person. It was soft and puffy, and great for climbing on, sitting on, and playing around on. There were also two big chairs across from it that were soft and puffy like the couch. Then there was a fence in the middle of the living room on the edge of this top part of the room that kept you from falling into the bottom part of the room. You had to walk down six stairs from the top part to get to that bottom part, which had a big shiny wood table and shiny wood chairs around it where you ate food and did other stuff. Or you could look down into it from the fence. It was like the back part of the ship in Treasure Island.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 5 – Tricycle

April 7th, 2018

I quickly learned to ride my tricycle a long way. My dad would take me out on what he called “adventures”. I liked it because he let me pick which way we would go and I could go as far as I wanted. But if I went a long way, it would be a long way back too. I also liked it because he would hang behind me or walk in the street, so I felt on my own and could pretend what I wanted to. He did come closer to make sure I looked both ways for cars before I crossed the street. On this day there were clouds, but the sun was out between them, and the air was cool and full of plant smells and energy that got inside me. I was ready for a big “adventure”.

I told my dad I wanted to see if Molly could play, since she had gotten a tricycle too. She and I got a lot of the same toys. While my dad waited out on the sidewalk by the street I walked up and knocked on the front door of her house. I was expecting her mom or dad to open the door, and I was all ready to not be shy and ask one of them if Molly could play. But it was Molly who opened the door. She said she saw me coming through the window. Her mom said it would be “perfect” if she came along, that Molly was “restless” anyway and needed to get out. I kind of knew what that word “restless” meant, and that was a good way to say how everything inside and outside of me felt too.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 4 – Third Birthday

March 18th, 2018

I awoke knowing today was my third birthday. My whole body shivered with excitement. I heard my mom and dad in the kitchen talking about my birthday party. Rather than join them there, I stood in the back hallway by the door to the living room where they couldn’t see me and listened. It was always good to know what adults were really doing, and they generally said more about that when they did not know I was listening.

“Liz”, my dad’s voice was almost always soft and steady, except sometimes when he got mad, “If it rains we can have the party in the living room. The kids can play down in the basement.”

“Eric”, my Mom’s voice was generally louder with more command and feelings in it, “I’m not comfortable entertaining our friends in this house when we don’t have any furniture.”

“Oh it will be fine!” My dad was always saying that to my mom, though when he said it she usually did not agree. “We’ve got the kitchen chairs, we can bring the lawn chairs in from the outside, plus the chairs from the basement and the rocking chair from Cloob’s room.”

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Coopster Created Part 5 – The Basement

February 25th, 2018

It was Thursday morning December 13, as I came to consciousness in my bed in what had been my bedroom and was now my mom’s office slash guest room. I woke up from a dream where I was still traveling except I had lost my plane ticket home and did not have the money to buy another one. I was grateful it was only a dream and that I was in fact home. The light through the casement window was more subdued this morning. Yesterday’s sunshine had given way to a more typical gray winter day. My stuffed full backpack was still there leaning against the side of the Herman Miller chest of drawers, like I was still backpacking and just spending a few nights in my host du jour’s guest room. My head was kind of stuffy and achy too, from smoking all that weed yesterday. But I was still glad I had, and looking forward to firing up the joint Clark had “lent” me, at least at some appropriate point on this day. My clock radio indicated it was 10:25, so getting to bed after 2 AM last night it was still a good night’s sleep. I noted that my clock radio had the same sort of electromechanical mechanism of flipping metal slats displaying the appropriate series of numbers – on mine, one to twelve on the hour slats and double zero to fifty-nine on the minutes – as the big boards in the European train stations that I loved to watch and listen to them clickity clack.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 3 – Basement

February 2nd, 2018

I could hear the rain continue to fall outside, enjoying the quiet sanctuary of the basement. It was a while before my dad came down the basement stairs and returned to his work at his desk. He was in the the opposite quarter of the basement from where I sat on the concrete floor looking at my box of plastic toy soldiers and a second box with trucks, cars and boats in it. I wanted to explore further that scenario I was playing out last night in the bathtub. The pirate ship in the hidden cove shooting at the ships out in the bay, whose captains were trying to figure out what to do to stop the pirates from killing their sailors and sinking their ships.

I examined the two boats in the box amongst the cars and trucks. They weren’t sailing ships but were big enough to put some soldiers on them. But only the two of them were not enough, I needed the boats that I had in the tub upstairs. It hit me that if I went upstairs again my dad might wonder what I was doing up there. This was where talking would be very useful.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 2 – Interiors

January 7th, 2018

Our house on 1202 Prescott in Ann Arbor

The next morning I awoke to the windows rattling. The light coming through the windows of my bedroom was different, subdued. I heard many little taps on the window by the head of my bed. It was raining. I loved the rain.

I sprung out of bed and ran to the doorway of my parent’s bedroom. The empty bed, all nicely made, was bigger than mine but the room was the same size. There was just barely room for a little night stand at each side of the bed, and a dresser on the other side of the room. There was no room for a chair like in my room. The rain tap tap tapped on their window looking out into the backyard where the spruce trees on either side of the yard were glittering dark green and swaying in the wind.

I ran into the kitchen to find my mom wearing an apron and sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, looking up at me with pretend surprise.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 1 – Dubious

December 15th, 2017

My parents when I was three

I didn’t start talking until I was three years old. Prior to that I responded to words and sentences from my mom and dad, as well as others, but rarely uttered more than a word myself. My smiles and frowns, head nods and shakes, plus following verbal instructions, and other nonverbal indicators reassured my parents that developmentally I was on track. My dad said I was just “dubious” about the world. He sensed my shyness and introversion, which he shared. My mom was the opposite, gregarious and an extrovert, and worried more about things, including her mostly silent son. Perhaps to tease her, or to ease her worries, or both, my dad made up a story that I was a noble Roman philosopher reincarnate, skeptical about this modern world I had been born into. “Clubius” he called me, since it rhymed with “dubious” while sounding classically Roman.

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Coopster Created Part 4 – Billy & Alice

December 3rd, 2017

It was still Wednesday December 12, but no one really cared. The four of us were in line outside Crisler Arena, my three comrades listening to my stories as I continued to recount my European journey. Though we were already pretty high, Clark produced one of the “jays” from his pocket and we joined many of the other people in line who were engaged in the same concert preparation.

The oval indoor basketball arena, which seated over 12,000 was situated just east of the “Big House” (UofM’s biggest in the county college football stadium). The arena had been built in the mid 1960s, based on a growing interest in the University’s men’s basketball team after Cazzie Russell led that team to three straight Big Ten championships from 1964 to 1966. Several years later the arena was renamed after Herbert “Fritz” Crisler, the retiring Michigan athletic director, who had played a key role in championing the place being built. As my mom and dad explained it to me, he had been a famous and innovative Michigan football coach during the 1940s, whose greatest legacy to the game of football was to invent the concept of having a different set of players play defense and offense, transforming the game into its modern incarnation.

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Coopster Created Part 3 – Eberwhite Woods

November 17th, 2017

The churchyard from Eberwhite Woods in winter

It was still Wednesday December 12 and I walked through the familiar streets of my home town. There were patches of dirty snow on the ground, in spots shaded from the sun, remnants from a snowfall probably more than a week ago. But the sky was clear and the temperature was above freezing, which was quite a nice day in Ann Arbor terms for this time of year. From Bicycle Jim’s I was walking west on South University through campus with the UGLI and graduate library on my right and the law school across the street on my left. Though this was my home town, I felt like an outsider of sorts on this street in the midst of campus, just a “townee” and not at this point a college student, at least until next fall when I planned to go back to Western in Kalamazoo.

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Coopster Created Part 2 – The Blue Front & Bicycle Jim’s

October 22nd, 2017

The Blue Front

It was still Wednesday December 12, a mild winter day in Ann Arbor with the sun shining and the temperature above freezing. I walked along the sidewalk on the north side of Wells street headed west, looking out onto Burns Park and my old elementary school to my left across the street. School was in session for the rest of this week before the two-week winter holiday, and kids were out at recess running and playing with their youthful energy and a hint of that manic intensity that went with being temporarily unleashed from the classroom.

While I was phasing in and out of consciousness in bed this morning, before officially waking up and starting my first day back in the States, I had heard the vocalizing of a large scrum of kids about fifty yards from my window. I knew they must still be playing their large unsupervised soccer game before school. Probably my fondest memory of my school days in fifth and sixth grade at Burns Park Elementary School were those big, pretty much every morning and lunchtime, loosely organized games. They were “anarchic” in the best, informal governance, sense of that word. Run by the assembled group of kids, with no adults in sight, and only a few simple rules. Sixth graders on one team versus fourth and fifth graders on the other. All soccer balls in play at the same time. No official score kept. Between morning and lunchtime games, it was a good forty to sixty minutes of aerobic exercise each school day, and I remember us playing pretty much in any weather conditions.

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