Archive for July, 2014

Assault during the Bewitching Hour, or Decapod Bladder

The arrangement of these entries is somewhat backwards, as I have told you an excerpt of our first night in Indonesia, but nothing of our travel and first day in the country, which I intend to do here. That’s not an apology, just a statement of fact.

Our journey began early in the morning in Portland. About 30 minutes before our departure, the lovely airline canceled our flight and, within another 30 minutes, managed to squeeze us on to a delayed plane without any notice other than, “Your plane is leaving now.” We rushed on to the tarmac holding as many carry-ons as would fit on our various appendages, while Langston slowly dragged a wheelie bag in front of us, obstructing our movement and repeatedly yelling, “Hurry up, Dad!” Memories of “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” flickered in my mind. The flight attendant laughed as I lugged six bags, carried my son, and pushed his bag up the flippy-door-stairs. “Yeah. Hurry up, Dad,” she repeated several times during the flight, in that manner of serious-speak that people do, yet try to soften it with a laugh. Synaptic firing dredged up images of “Fight Club.”

The boys slept the majority of the first two legs. In between sleeping and eating, Langston had his face smashed to the rear of the seat in front of him so that his eyes would not miss a single pixel from complimentary electronic entertainment. You would have believed him Amish, and all of this his first exposure to modern technologies.

Landing in Tokyo at 12 a.m. local time, we had little to wait between flights, and just time enough for me to attempt using a squatty-potty. Hilarity and giggling mostly ensued. Minutes before boarding, an airline representative approached to inform me that our six bags (Bethany’s hairdryer, etc.) and two car seats failed to accompany the previous flight. This is now our forth trip with a luggage mishap. I recalled “Groundhog Day” (R.I.P., Egon). The representative apologized profusely and, despite my assuring her that it was not a problem— especially since I would not have to try and wrangle all of that baggage, kids, and the wife— she continued to apologize. Then, it dawned on me: airline workers are accustomed to all manner of abuse and vitriol from customers. My response does not register. Therefore, I quickly issued a roundhouse kick to her lower left mastoid. She thanked me, asked me if I was a Premium Diamond Plus Platinum Mileage Bonus Valor Supreme Holy Roman Emperor Member, reminded me that the miles from this flight would be counted toward the airline’s credit card if I signed up on the flight (plus 20,000 bonus miles), apologized again, and allowed me to board.

Little of note on the flight. My son has the bladder of a mole crab (i.e. emerita).

In Jakarta we were quickly shuttled to our new home, but we had entered that crazy jacked-up-with-psychotic-energy-from-erratic-plane-sleep stage and found no rest. The house is lovely.

An international office representative met us a few hours later and took us to the mall (Indonesia has a significant mall culture; see wife’s blog). After supping, we decided to grab some essentials. But finding ourselves in an entirely new place without any of our luggage and with the rest of our belongings in a port in Seattle, everything struck us as essential— bed sheets, dish racks, cookies, kerchiefs, ratchet sets, play dough, chip clips, spare nails, anti-poodle spray, things for holding stuff, and things for holding holders. The boys crossed from mildly-pleasant delirium to insanity as our shopping cart crept over the 57th linoleum tile of that store, and they brought us with them. Shrieking and incoherent speech spilled from their face-holes. Insanity quickly lapsed into unconsciousness for them, while I oscillated between the former two stages. Something of a cross between “Adventure Time” and “Labyrinth” played in my mind and, at times, before my eyes, with extended scenes in the Bog of Eternal Stench.

The journey through the mall and the wait for the car is unbearable to recount. Lives were lost.

We arrived home at around 4 p.m., we put the boys in bed, but remained awake ourselves. In the hope of acclimating them to our new time zone, we attempted to rouse them at 6pm and feed them some dinner. We even went so far as to tempt them with a show of some sort on the computer in the hopes that this would wake them. This happened:

Attempting Awake

Attempting Awake

Angus rallied briefly, but Langston was lost. I realized this only too late. Somehow, he ended up naked downstairs— probably the wife’s doing— I moved him from the sofa to the dining room table and encouraged him to eat. He looked at me with those sleepwalker’s eyes that some of you may know only all too well. I believed my voice had registered and that he understood, convincing myself I even saw him nod. Yet, when he turned his head from me, he looked down between his legs proceeded to urinate a Niagara-esque volume all over our university-lent, cloth-covered dining chairs. I decided it was bedtime for Langston.

Eventually, I made it to bed myself in the hopes that the sandman or perhaps Angus Og would grant my weary body some rest. But another Angus visited me instead. At twenty minutes passed the midnight hour, some scratching sounds issued from the foot of our bed, but I believed this to be the restless leg syndrome of wife— jimmy legs. What must have been seconds later, I woke abruptly from a dream in which I was struck upon the mouth, seemingly experiencing actual pain on my face. I dismissed the soreness and closed my eyes. Sleeplessness activates a naïveté common to pre-fatherhood (read: “I should have known better”). Within seconds a downward heel kick engaged my exposed trachea, forcing me upright and gasping for air. My one-year-old giggled from the center of our bed. I locked him in his room.

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Periplaneta australasiae: Warfare Strategies of an Unfamiliar Wife

As you may well know by now, our family has traversed the globe and landed in the island nation of Indonesia, thereby finding ourselves on the (very) distant outskirts of Nottingham. Though more shall certainly follow regarding the migration itself, today I limit myself to a singular event of our first evening.

Unable to sleep on that first night, wife found herself downstairs migrating in a sleep-like daze toward the kitchen, most definitely compelled instinctually by her womanly genetics and ontic state to wash some dishes, weave, or some similar lady-task. As a native Oregonian (and perhaps for said female disposition), she was ill-prepared for what would meet when the execrable compact fluorescent bulb eventually flickered to life: a sepia-shaded, prickle-legged, crêpe-paper-winged Australian cockroach— Der Kakerlak.

Why couldn’t the land down under gift us with an infestation of some less repulsive nocturnal pest— like koalas? Imagine the same scenario: you’ve wandered into the kitchen at night, observe the distinct sound of scurrying, and flick on the lights only to find a fuzzy koala mama and baby in the sink snacking on your dinner scraps. You laugh pleasantly out loud, maybe scratch mama’s head, and then go look for a sandal to smash them.

Return to the present and the scenario in which wife has found herself. Despite Leonard Nimoy’s protestations otherwise, logic is not a factor in such a situation. All coherent thought and rationality disappear simultaneously with the encounter. The insect must die, or it will certainly murder you. Accompanied by a series cockatiel-like shrieks (maybe closer to Skeksis), wife, as a trepidatious Xena type, took hold of the nearest object— a small cutting board— and swung for dear life with her tiny, bird bone arms. With the creature out of sight under the implement, wife made a mistake that belied her inexperience. Most Floridians and southeasterners generally follow Zombieland rule #2 when it comes to roaches: the double-tap. Or, more correctly, swing erratically, forcefully, and repeatedly until you see the object of your ire has given up the ghost— and then strike it 17 more times for a good measure and your time. Contact MUST feel solid and level, and you MUST hear and feel that distinctive (satisfying) crunch of a ruptured exoskeleton.

Wife’s post-impact, split-second of satisfaction vanished as her nemesis scurried further along the kitchen counter. A wise kung fu master, wife reached for another weapon, in this case a plastic KFC bucket— a gift from the international office at my university. With a quick shift of plan from death to entrapment, perhaps with an eventual plan to domesticate and house it as a pet (we would name him Sibellius), she brought the open side down over the six-legged fiend. This would have worked (?) had she not underestimated its life-preserving speed and only captured a few of its legs. Husband asleep and roach squirming in desperation, wife returned to violent tactics and suddenly became a surgeon with a wooden spoon. She brought the utensil down with such precision and force that we are still finding roach splatter in various rooms of the house.

Satisfied, yet nerves shattered, wife eventually stumbled out of the main kitchen into our “dirty kitchen.” Light switch on, her peripheral vision told her she was not alone. Her head snapped in the direction of some movement and settled on a single gecko near the ceiling. Already worn out from the previous engagement, Bethany could only involuntarily shout, “Daniel!”— perhaps as some sort of Christian profanity, or as an appeal for aid from the biblical saint— and faint.

Thus I found things when I awoke in the morning: A cockroach in the sink turned on to its back in the telltale sign of its expiration. Wife was unconscious on the floor of the dirty kitchen, surrounded by reptile scat, and mumbling, “Hi-ya!”