Work at Home Discipline

Jonah finished his summer class last Thursday. After some debate, he decided to come back home and get a job, rather than taking another class for the second summer term. On Friday, his best friend, who moved to Michigan last year, came and crashed here for four days. They slept late, played hours of Fortnite, and hung out at other friends’ homes until two.

Now the friend is gone. He had a week break from his studies. And my patience with late nights and Fortnite is done. (Though Jonah showed me how to play yesterday, and it was pretty fun.)

I roused him out of bed at 9:30 this morning with a lecture about appropriate activities during the weekday. They include exercising, job hunting, school work organizing, brother entertaining, reading books, pre-studying for classes, and home choring. World Cup watching is okay, too. I gave him the family as an anthill, working together for the common goal speech. He loves that one.

I have a HUGE project that I have to finish in the next week before we take off for the beach. I can’t work if others around me are being slothful.

It’s super hard to get stuff done outside an office, but I’ve done it for years. It requires lists, tricks of the mind, and lots of rules. I’m trying to teach those rules to a teenage boy. hahahahahaha


Party Planning

We hosted two different kinds of parties in the past couple of weeks. Two Sundays ago, we had a small dinner party with a group that we’ve known for 30 years. We spent six hours around the dining room table eating and drinking. The booze and the conversation flowed. Last Saturday, we invited everybody that we know to a backyard keg party.

The small dinner party was easy. The bigger party was more difficult socially, because we have moved a lot and have friends in very different groups. The professors don’t necessary mix well with bikers, although we have one friend who is a center of that Venn diagram. I get nervous when I’m not sure if people are having a good time, so it was difficult to relax until the crowd thinned out to a small group in front of the fire.

Few people host parties these days. (Here’s a how-to article.) I get it. It’s stressful and expensive. People’s social skills are rusty, which necessitates that I flit from group to group to make sure that people are having fun. But big parties are so important. It’s only through socializing that we improve. And being social animals, we need to fight for our right to party.

Have you hosted a party lately?

I, of course, was too busy to take pictures during our party. Instead, I took pictures of the leftovers and the day-after mess:


What’s Going On Here

Summer’s here. I went out for a jog this morning. It was a lame jog because I’m still recovering from a cold, but I went out and came back dripping with sweat thirty minutes later. Humidity sucks. I signed up for a 5K in two weeks, so I had better get out there every morning.

Typically, I don’t get much work done in the summer, because I usually have a ton of driving duties as I take the kids to camps or work. But this summer, my driving duties are light.

Jonah is driving himself around; my parents gave him their old Toyota. He’s taking a summer class at his college right now. He’s living in his off-campus house four days a week, and then coming home for three days. I send him off on Monday morning with tubs of leftovers and he returns with moldy containers and dirty laundry on Friday morning.

He’s redoing his bio class that gave him some issues last fall. With another year of maturity, he’s doing great now.

Jonah has surprised us all with a sudden passion for agriculture. And not little organic farming stuff. He likes genetically modified, better living through chemicals, sort of agriculture. His teacher recommended that he get an internship with Dow or Dupont next year. Around the dinner table, he gives us hour-long lectures on wheat that can be engineered to feed all of Africa. He’s adorable.

The class ends on Thursday. He still has to decide if he’s going to do one more summer class until mid-August or get a job as a busboy until the fall.

With one foot in special ed and one foot in the regular world, it’s always tricky to find something appropriate for Ian. Last week, we put him in a 9 to 5 computer camp. We were very worried, because he’s never done a full day program aimed at typical kids. Would he be too weird for them? Would he be able to function without an aide keeping him on task?

He did great. Sure, the first day, the teacher had to get used to him, but then there was nothing but smiles at pickup time for the rest of the week. He kicked ass. He learned the computer program, Unreal Script, which is the engine used to program Fortnight. I’ll sign him up for the entire summer next year. It’s a crap-load of money, but it’s worth it.  Computers are Ian’s ticket out of autism.

In fact, he’s doing so well that I’m not sure what our next step will be. Could he do college? I’m not sure.

Now, he’s got two weeks of summer school at the local high school, with an internship in the computer lab. After a couple of weeks off, he’ll have three weeks of social skills camp and then band camp.

I have some driving duties, but it’s so minimal compared to the past. So, I’m working. I’m working on long term projects, book proposals, and reviving old pitches that fell flat.

Restaurant Rights and Race

Last weekend, I met up with Margie and Suze at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square. We’ve been friends since we all started at our first jobs at Simon and Schuster on the 16th floor of the Gulf and Western building, now a Trump building, in Columbus Circle 1987. We still talk several times a week and meet up in the city as often as we can get away from our families.

The routine is always the same. We meet up at a bookstore and then roam through the neighborhood stores talking non-stop and then eventually end up in a restaurant for more non-stop chatter. It’s good to have old friends.

It was a blustery day, so we ended up in restaurant quickly after brief visits to ABC Carpets and Fishes Eddy. As we settled into several plates of dumplings and scallion pancakes at a Chinese restaurant, a commotion broke out around us. A guy who was working outside the building got into a shouting match with the restaurant owner. He wanted to use the bathroom without buying any food. The owner blocked his way to the bathroom and said that the bathroom was only for customers. The worker yelled that he just wanted to use the toilet and leave. After lots of yelling, the worker finally left.

And because race and restaurants are in the news, I have to say that the worker was African American. The owner and the customers were white or Asian.

We got into a debate at the table. One of us thought that the owner should have let the guy use the toilet. He was in a construction outfit. He was clearly not a homeless guy. She felt that the worker’s race was one of the reasons why he was shuffled out of the restaurant.

Another friend said that restaurant owners never let non-customers use the toilet. Anybody who is in New York City knows that you can’t use a toilet in a restaurant without buying anything, and you have to know where the open-use toilets are, like the second floor of that Barnes and Noble.

Who was right?

A New Day

Yesterday, I planned on rebooting my work schedule for the spring. One project needs a new home, and I need to pull together new projects for the various venues places that I publish. But I was defeated by extreme weather in the Age of Global Warming.

The skies opened up, and the streets flooded. After an hour of waiting for Ian’s bus, I gave up and drove him, which is an hour round trip. Then his school’s parking lot flooded, so his school was let out after lunch period. Between shuttling Ian back and forth and prepping for his 16th birthday party — a small family thing at a local Chinese restaurant — not much happened work-wise.

In the old days, work-day washouts were more frequent. There was always some emergency that surrounded the boys, which made a flexible job a necessity. Now, these events are rare, but are still frustrating. I didn’t sleep much last night, because I was writing in my head. I have to purge those words during the day, so I can sleep at night. Sigh, it’s tough being neurotic.

So, it’s Tuesday, but it feels like a Monday. I’m making lists and taking notes. And blogging. More to come.