The Franks

Sunday, July 23 at 2:29pm. So far nothing. No ideas at all. I'm considering burying my head in an upturned hat with a rock in it to generate a new entry. Perhaps an entry written on high with tales of the Celestial Kingdom. We'll see what I resort to.

Sunday, July 23 at 2:37pm. I just spent eight minutes thinking (without the rock in the hat trick) and I finally thought of something. It's by no means invigorating, but it's a thing. It's this: typing my journal has become something of a challenge (much like Adam with the seatbelt) because Timmy (Fred and Jacqui's other son) recently used his minuscule fingers to cleave the h key from my computer. Now I have to compress a tiny, hollow rubber nub very delicately and frequently (twenty-three times so far this entry). Thus, while reading (twenty-six), understand my discomfort in writing. I'll work through this discomfort in writing however, so that you, my absent reader can work through your discomfort in reading (thirty-three).

And while we're reading/writing, I feel now is probably an appropriate time to introduce the rest of the Frank family, as I'm sure they'll all be major cast members in the entries to come.

You already know Fred, my hero. But all I really wrote about him was that he was my hero. I didn't say much beyond that. So here: Fred's a New York raised Jew, educated at Horace Mann and then Princeton. That's where he did his undergrad in history. Then he got into Oxford for grad school. He didn't go. Days before he was supposed to start, he packed nothing and flew to the Middle East. From there, he spent several years hitch hiking around the world, alternating between homeless and homeful lives. He would occasionally catch a flight to another continent, explaining to the airline representatives that he was a writer doing a piece on their airline (before the days of the internet, where such lies became easily verifiable). This allowed him free travel. And this traveling eventually landed him in Hong Kong. Part of him loved living there and the rest of him just got stuck, and thus he stayed for something like five years. And this is where he met Jacqui (whom he eventually married).

After they got married, they went to London (fertile thinking ground to answer the question: "what are we going to do for jobs?"). Fred decided he would become a doctor, Jacqui said something like "okay", and then they moved to California, where Fred got his MD from Stanford. Then they moved to Virginia for residency, then to Oregon for work. When they got to Oregon, I became Jacqui's personal trainer. And then I moved into their house, which may be weirder than anything Adam has ever done.

And that's Fred's life in the proverbial nutshell.

Jacqui British. God, I can't write. I'm on page eight and I've already become a caveman. Jacqui is British. That's what I meant to say. She comes from fairly refined London stock (as opposed to the Paleolithic author of this journal). Her father was an Oxford man who thinks he was selected to lead such a life by God himself. And his wife (Jacqui's mom) was apparently really attractive when she was younger. That led to their procreation, which resulted in two daughters. I think Jacqui is the younger of the two. Actually, I think she might be the older of the two. It doesn't matter. What matters is that she spent her earliest years in London and the next batch of years in boarding schools in Hong Kong. She left Hong Kong for college (University of London), graduated, and then moved back immediately after, where she became a ferocious partier. That and a graphic artist (to finance her indulgences).

When she and Fred moved to California, these graphic art skills are what paid for their cost of living. Partially. Fred helped pay the bills with a Jeopardy appearance, where he did quite well in a five-episode streak. But Palo Alto, where they were living, is expensive. And MD programs take a long time. And Jeopardy can really only cover one of those years. Maybe two if they're thrifty. But the Franks aren't thrifty. So Jacqui got serious as a graphic artist, and ended up being hired for some pretty big projects, like the logos for the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins. But once they got to Oregon, she became a quitter; throwing in her graphic-artisan-towel to the hamper of motherhood (i.e. she stopped working and became a full time mom... that and a personal training client to a future housemate).

Their oldest daughter (which naturally means they also have a youngest daughter) is Zoe. Zoe's twelve. She was born during the fertile London period, right before they moved to California. Her younger sister, born in Oregon roughly five years ago, is Phoebe.

The best description I can give you of Zoe is that she's a young Fred Frank; outrageously smart, destined for a depressingly cerebral life. Phoebe, on the other hand, is a little Jacqui Frank; concerned mostly with the carousing and - at the moment - is seemingly destined for teen pregnancy (though hopefully that course will change, as she has a lot of years yet to go before entering her teens... she's still in the phase where her voice sounds like a tea kettle).

The oldest son, Adam, has already had his fair share of the spotlight in this journal. So I'm going to move onto his younger brother, Timmy.

When Jacqui was pregnant with Timmy, Adam stole Zoe's only Barbie doll, cut off all its hair, and started calling it Oscar. Adam became so obsessed with Oscar that he began pointing at Jacqui's pregnant stomach and calling it Oscar. Oscar thus became Timmy's middle name.

And Timmy Oscar Frank is the type of kid who will undoubtedly lose half his thumb in an electrical socket at age eleven. And then he'll wrap his entire torso around his thumb, make loud breathing noises and, should someone ask to take a look at it, grunt out "it's not that bad" followed by more labored breathing.

He's seven right now, so he's got a few years left to capitalize on opposable thumbs. And in the mean time, he says something ridiculous at least twice daily. Today's first was this: "my dad delivered me. I bet my dad also delivered my mom." His next ridiculous line will probably happen at 8:00pm, give or take.

And now you're somewhat familiar with the spirit of Timmy, who shows immense promise in academia, irritation, and comedy. Can I further illustrate Timmy's triad of promise with a short story? I'm going to.

This was last summer. Timmy spent the day swimming at Salem Swim and Tennis, a seasonal membership-only pool that's a hundred times more crowded than it should be. Fred had a full day of appeasiotomies, Jacqui was all over the place, and thus an unwavering Courtney was to be Timmy's ride.

I arrive, Timmy gets out of the pool, dries off a tiny bit, and saddles up in the back of my Jeep (the same one that ran over the computer).

We begin driving.

Timmy spends the first five minutes of this drive silently looking at the palms of his hands. He looks focused. I interrupt anyway: "Timmy, tell me a story."

"Okay..." That was Timmy, sounding very serious. He takes a deep breath as if preparing to do something bold. He exhales slowly, swallows, and then continues: "Once upon a time there was NOTHING!"

He screamed the word 'nothing' at the full capacity of his tiny larynx and then went back to looking at his hands in silence.

I sat there almost as silent as Timmy (I breathe a little more loudly than he does). The dual-silence lasted maybe ten seconds. Fifteen tops. And then I decided I had no idea what had just happened and looked back at him in curiosity.

"Please watch the road."


"Keep your eyes on the road."


That was me not responding. Mostly because I didn't know what the appropriate response was; whether to take offense or thank him for looking out for our safety. So I just smiled a medium-sized smile and resumed my role as the driver.

Maybe thirty seconds later, Timmy's commentary continued, this time in almost a whisper: "you just focus on being the driver."

Fair enough. Or rather, in the words of Bill O'Reilly, "nuff said."