Stretch. Yawn. Type.

It has been 36 days since I have posted anything on Artsy Schmartsy.

(Insert knuckle crack here.)

I've been preoccupied with life's little struggles and triumphs. Raging narcissist that I am, I imagine you all have just stopped reading completely, realizing that without my compilation of words and wit there is no point whatsoever in scanning a collection of words that appear to be a story or news.

You may thank me later for the eyeball and brain rest. For now, here's what happened in the 36 day lapse we can all agree was a dark time for literature. (Can you feel how massively my ego has grown since I wrote something about Michael Kaiser on August 25th?)

On a Thursday morning several weeks ago, I had my teeth cleaned. I also took my two daughters to the dentist, one for her own cleaning, one simply because she loves the dentist (she's the one we worry about).

I took the car with the two car seats, and my wife Paula planned on meeting us at the dentist's office post appointment so we could swap cars and she could take the girls while I ventured off to my day job. I had organized myself well that day, putting my backpack filled with my work supplies, two laptops and a collection of moderately priced audio equipment in the car Paula would be using to meet us that I left in my very own driveway so safe and sound that I felt no need to lock the doors (Can you feel the shoe just about to drop?).

As I ran my tongue over my very clean teeth waiting for Paula to pick up my children who were also basking in the afterglow of a great dentist visit, my cell phone rang. I answered, and Paula said, "Did you open your glove compartment this morning when you were loading the car." I told her I didn't, sensing she was gingerly preparing to tell me some really shitty thing had happened to my car. She then asked, "Did you have anything in your car?" I mentioned the backpack containing what amounted to my life's work and some really treasured pencils, and she gave me that answer that anyone who has an imperfect system of computer backups never wants to hear.

"It's not there," my loving, long suffering, not-quite-able-to-bring-herself-to-admonishing-me-for-not-locking-my-car-door wife explained.

The rest of that day was spent recalling the contents of my bag, informing the insurance company about the theft, and trying to convince myself that I had not lost the great American novel in the bits and pieces of started and stalled writing projects I had stored in my computer hard drive. The day of reveling in my cleaner than clean teeth was lost. Totally lost.

That was Thursday. On Friday, the thieves came back for the car.

I won't bore you with the string of swear words I uttered that day. I got a nice rental car, and started searching for a brand new vehicle recognizing that a man is nothing without his metrosexual set of fuel efficient wheels.

Then about a week later at 4am the police called me and told me they had found my car. A mile from my house. With a flat tire.

Hooray?

The police waited for me to retrieve the car so they could release it. When I asked what releasing the car meant one of the officers who had found the car said, "Taking it out of the system so when you start driving it again and you go by any police they aren't allowed to stop you and point a gun at your head." (I'm not overstating that, believe me.)

I was intrigued to find the following items in my car:

Couple of fresh Trojans and a sweet cigarette lighter

Bitchin' hoodie and sexy plaid boxers

Comfy shorts and tennie ensemble

Pit bull Cap (I kept this for my macho times, yes I did)

What was not found in my car was a collection of "fancy" (okay, massively gay) musical theatre mix tapes I treasured beyond belief in a somewhat unholy way.

The interior of the car smelled like the inside of a crack whore. I have been asked how I know that the inside of my car smelled like the inside of a crack whore. The only answer I can give is, "Sometimes you just know."

On the driver's side seat of my newly crack whored car, I found a job application. Not to get all economic on you all, but that one kind of made me forgive all the crack smoking, blow jobbing going on in my little family guy car. I want to believe that whoever stole my car really, really needed it a lot more than I did. Sorry they didn't get the opportunity to apply wherever they were hoping to apply. If my own special car thief is reading this now, I'll happily give him or her a lift to the interview. (I'm wearing the Pit Bull cap, though, because it's a nifty lid and totally inappropriate for any job interview.)

After the whole car thing I realized that I was a pretty lucky guy to get my car back, get insurance money enough to replace the computer stuff and get to help stimulate the economy by spending a gross amount of money of getting my home locks changed so the thieves would not return and steal my stash of farm raised beef and pork (the meat falls in the "invaluable" classification, if you ask me).

A momentary bit of frustration occurred when I recalled that a year's worth of hand written notes for a book project I had been contemplating were still missing with the continuing disappearance of my bag. Then Dale called.

Dale would eventually call me numerous times finally connecting with me to tell me he had the very notes I so longed for in his possession. I invited Dale to my house, and my smarter wife sequestered herself in our upstairs with our children and called our friend Matty to take a break from watching "Bridge Over The River Kwai" to come over and stand strong with me as some kind of middle-aged, white guy street team.

Dale and his "baby mama" showed up at our house with notes in hand. I was somewhat surprised that the notes that Dale claimed to have been found in a trash can were glistening clean, and seemed to have been free of bruises and blemishes. Matty and I enjoyed Dale's ribald tales of incarceration and past history of physical abuse, all the while realizing that Dale was really hoping for some kind of finder's fee. I'll never really know if Dale was the guy who took my bag and/or car, but somehow it doesn't matter. He returned my notes, got a reward and offered me the chance to reconnect with a book idea and confront my challenges in processing any words into something bearable as a writer. Nice work, Dale. Well played.

After all that excitement, I decided to watch my wife do Ironman Wisconsin. It took her a mere 16 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds that day to totally emasculate me. It also took her about three seconds to make me the single proudest man in the world that he has such a motivated, strong, and, dare I say it, sexy wife who can actually smile while doing an Ironman. See?

I have driven a car shorter distances than my wife had traveled at the point this picture was taken and looked like I was beaten with an ugly stick. I believe fervently that Ironman equals crazy times (to be documented in my forthcoming stunning book currently titled "TRI-ing TIMES"--get it, get it?), but I also believe my wife is the coolest most inspiring lady out there. I'm also proud that she didn't poop on her bike seat, which she tells me is a rather common thing for Ironmen to do. Oh, the glamour of Ironman. Intoxicating.

I also worked. But that's boring. I like my job, and no one really cares about someone who likes their job, right? If so, what would the point be of watching "The Office", I ask you?

Oh, yeah, Skylight. Seems I should mention something about that since I spent my summer fighting alongside others for better handling of artistic integrity instead of golfing.

I helped emcee a benefit for The Skylight which raised a load of cash. I also bought tickets to the season opener "Barber of Seville" and was impressed with a supremely talented cast who created a lovely production in The Cabot Theatre that left me totally unmoved. It was a gloriously executed opera laid before me like a daintily prepared meal and I realized I was looking for finger food and Schlitz. That just sealed the deal for me: I'm a hopeless lover of things that are a little messy. I'm glad that The Skylight seems to be chugging forward nicely, but I'm secretly hoping there's a little more mess on the stage and not as much off stage.

I know, I know, the party line really needs to be that The Skylight is great! It is great, but I just didn't groove to clean, really well done opera. This is a problem more with my not-so-secret-desires for artistic risk-taking and certainly not any type of judgement on the work at The Skylight. It is unbelievably great work, in fact. It's just work that I really don't care much about. This doesn't mean I don't care about the company. I care about the place it plays in the greater cultural landscape in our community in ways I will lay on the line (I'll buy tickets, I'll give money, I'll contribute time.) Give me something with a little attitude and I'm right there drooling at the mouth. Give me something just really well done but somehow too perfect for my less than perfect life, and I'm just not completely satisfied. The notion of a wacko, right? Come on, did you really believe a guy who once produced a play that featured a 12-foot long golden penis would really rally around more traditional, well done productions of opera? I'm not a critic folks, just some slob who figured out how to sign up on Blogger so he could share his opinions with the ether and not just the voices in his head. So do not consider that my review of "The Barber of Seville". It was great, you should go, but don't expect the world's most unique production.

Oh, I also got to spend a few hours in a room with

Janet Zweig

(she of public art controversy), Kurt Hartwig, my smart (and smart ass) wife Paula Suozzi, and the cunning and supremely charming playwright Alice Austin talking about ideas for Janet's public art project. That was messy, believe me. And that pleased me greatly.

Enough already. Nice to be back. Hope you feel the same, or at least have the urge to tell me what's been going on with you or punch me in the nose.