Category Archives: Family

Back To Normal (Once Again)

It was nice to have a little day off yesterday, even if I didn’t really get much of a chance to relax. I got to host a compulsory playdate for my son and his friend while all the other grownups were at work. Mostly they just hit each other, and then tattled on one another. This happened off and on for a few hours until I had had enough, and then I decided that what everyone needed was some sunlight and fresh air. If we were living on the Island, I would have just sent them off to play down on The Walk, but we live near Richmond, California, and there are times when even I don’t feel comfortable going out alone. Poverty and poor decisions (from a limited set to begin with) have a tendency to fold back upon themselves and hone a violent sort of survival instinct, and while I do not blame the victim, I’m also aware of my surroundings. And when it comes to kids under ten years of age, attention is not a quality they possess in any quantity, except for when commercials are blaring and they see a toy that they absolutely have to have.

I decided that it seemed slow enough of a Thursday that I might be able to drop off my son’s prescription without having to wait half an hour in a frighteningly static line, so we all got ready, and walked the half mile to Walgreen’s. And when I say that we all got ready, I mean that my son threw a temper tantrum for the better part of an hour, declaring through rage, streaming boogers, and tears that he didn’t want to go, and that we should just leave him here all alone. Surprisingly, it was his sister who wound up saving the day, finding a way to get him settled down and out the door. It was surprising, not because she lacks maternal instinct (which she does not), but because, in any given moment, the two of them are usually locked into some sort of screaming match. There is a certain jealousy, I think, which exists between siblings separated by over a decade and a half, although that animosity is usually felt most strongly by the older sibling. The younger one will usually shoot back with, “You’re not the boss of me!” or “You’re not my Mom (or Dad)!”, while the older sibling spends the quiet hours wondering what they might have done, and why they weren’t enough. It’s hard to go from the center of attention to taken for granted, and this dynamic can frustrating for everyone involved. It is nice to have some help, though.

See? They're so adorable!
See? They’re so adorable!

I don’t really talk a lot about my daughter. Usually, we spend our time sniping at one another, and jockeying for control of every little situation. Biologically, I am not her real dad, but in every conceivable way, she is my little girl. It is actually because of her that I am convinced that I will someday unlock the secrets of time travel, if only so that I can go back and date her mother in the fading light of the 1980’s, thereby tying up loose ends, and explaining why she’s so much like me. We’ll argue for weeks on end, passive aggressively engaging in a type of warfare reminiscent of Sherman’s March. I almost feel bad for my wife and son-in-law, as they are, for the most part, fairly normal people who don’t deserve this type of well-oiled insanity. But we are the lights which burn so brightly that we cannot help but singe the soaring wings of moths drawn to our flames. Also, and I have this on good authority, it turns out that crazy people are just fantastic lovers. Unfortunately, we also tend to be utter crap when it comes to the simple stuff that all you normals never give a second thought. But that tends to be the way of things.

I don’t think that I could make it through the nonsense of any given day without the grounded support of my wife, and I know for a fact that, despite their occasional squabbling, my son-in-law and daughter are good for one another. Life isn’t easy, and it’s important to find someone with whom you can just be yourself. My wife is my rock, my solid foundation upon which I may set down the burden of my crazy, if only for a little while, and I am the spice which adds extra depth to her days. But, like most spicy things, I tend to inspire gastrointestinal distress and I’m not nearly as much fun the next morning. I think that if I hadn’t found a way to draw out laughter from amidst the tears, we would have finished years ago. As it is, there are times that I can see something stirring just behind my wife’s Market Spice eyes that gives me pause, and makes me wonder if today is the day that the world will fall down around me. And then she’ll blink, and that shadow upon her soul will disappear, and life will return back to the baseline normal we’ve established over these past nine years.

In case you guys were wondering, we didn’t wind up making it to Walgreen’s. Their phone lines and registers were down, and their manager posted outside to turn everyone away. The worst part, however, was that I had a code for a free rental at Redbox, and the next closest kiosk was farther than I really cared to walk. There’s a limit to how much something free is worth, and honestly, $1.64 is not an amount for which I would do a whole hell of a lot. So we wound up meeting my wife at the Grocery Outlet on the other side of town (about half the distance to the nearest Redbox), and picking up some snacks to make a little picnic in the new park they just put in. It gave us grownups the chance to plant our butts on benches, and let the kids run wild in a moderately contained area. On the way over, of course, David and his friend practically jumped out in front of a car in the parking lot of a Mexican supermarket, and I don’t know who more freaked out: the driver or myself. I really wish that kids would pay even the slightest bit of attention, as is seems that they have no instinct for self-preservation whatsoever. They do seem to have a seemingly unlimited supply of dumb luck, however.

We managed to make it through the rest of the afternoon without incident, either traffic or temper related. Our friend picked her son up, and my wife, daughter, and grandson took off for Berkeley to check out some Dollar Store deals. I was left hanging out with David, so I cooked us up some burgers, and we hung together and watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? until it was time for bed. At this point, I’m just going to lie, and say that everything went smoothly on the slumber front, as I really don’t want to get into it (and my son is reading this over my shoulder). I guess I’ll just say goodbye for now, and that I’ll see you all tomorrow.


Spring Break!

Somehow my son gets yet another week away from school, which for him is the ultimate adventure, but for me is more akin to a contest of endurance. Today has been everything which I had imagined that it would be, from the temper tantrums to the unreasonable demands and a lack of desire to put anything in one’s mouth that wasn’t primarily sugar. And that’s just me. David managed to top my insolence, and transform it from the flailings of a well-practiced amateur to the finely-honed craftsmanship of a true master. My only hope is that some day my curse will fall upon his shoulders, and he will sire a son who tests his patience with a dedication that feels not entirely unlike “enhanced interrogation.” I realize that I have brought this upon myself, in so many ways, but it just seems so… unfair that I am forced to relive the highlights of my youth, but in the third person. I guess the main difference between David and myself is that, while we both wholeheartedly believe that we are always right, reality has shown that it is I who holds mastery over the never-ending bag of I told you so‘s.

I get another week of this, which means that I will probably need some sort of therapy by nightfall this coming Sunday. When dealing with almost anybody else with whom I don’t agree, I can simply cut them out completely from the fabric of my life. This has even worked on several occasions when dealing with my mother. But I cannot do this with my son, no matter how tempting it may seem at times. Even if I didn’t know exactly how it felt to grow up without a father, I would feel obligated to remain. It is my job to teach him how to harness his tendencies toward assholery, that he might at least superficially function somewhere deep within society. And if I am not here to face the whirlwind of his madness and help it to dissipate, then there is the chance that it never will, and he will be a hurricane of madness sweeping through all the lives thereafter which he touches, never really knowing why it is that no one has ever invited him to stay. I would say that there is a chance for self-containment upon his realization that girls (or boys, for I judge not) exist, but then I think back to how calmly I was able to navigate the streams of life whilst hopped up on a steady stream of hormones, and I suddenly feel pity for that spinning ball of energy: all alone and horny, with nary a couch to rest upon.

Of course, it’s my job to see the worst, while constantly keeping watch for signs of commendable behavior. I may call him out on bullshit with a whiplash’d frequency, but I also make sure to point out all the times he gets it right, so that he has third-party verification of his success. Inside that head of his, adorned by ketchup and so thick I wonder why his neck has not yet broken, is a mind that constantly amazes me, both in its agility and camouflaged ability. Fed has said of him that he is either “a genius or completely retarded.” My wife, and most people who don’t think we should go around referring to children as “retards” are offended by the comment. But I can see the truth of it. Like his father, David is in negative possession of an overwhelming quantity of common sense. He can grasp the most complicated concepts, far beyond his age, but cannot remember to flush the toilet or turn off the bathroom light once he has finished. Like me, he cannot seem to understand the most basic human concepts. The stupid things he does are not a product of any deficiency other than their own: if something is too simple, he will discount the obvious answer, and wind up overthinking everything until he breaks down in tears. Or I do.

"Well, you NEVER share with me SOMETIMES!" -David, right now.
“Well, you NEVER share with me SOMETIMES!” -David, right now.

Bad Leon is slightly more understanding, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because he’s trying to instigate a full-scale revolution with The Minkey at the head. Bad Leon is a great uncle for David to have around, as everyone should know someone who can easily add context to their parents’ delusions of control, and help a younger generation come to understand that grownups are full of shit. It’s a shame that Mr. Suave had to go and get himself stuck in the middle of Montana, as I think that it would be nice to have him around on various occasions. I would totally be willing to forgive a certain level of subversion if it meant that I could actually embark upon an uninterrupted date night with my wife slightly more often than every other anniversary (and a half). Well that, and I could finally unearth the Rock Band paraphernalia. Sadly, I am referring to the plastic guitars that wirelessly connect to my Xbox 360, and not anything slightly more befitting of a washed-up poet and the bass player from… I don’t know… some band or something in the middle of Montana.

What I’d like to know is when, exactly, do I get my Spring Break? I mean, besides the small vacation which I take between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Monday through Friday when school is in session. And the time I’ve taken off since Thanksgiving so that I could knock off all the dust and rust and try my hand at wordsmithing. But apart from all of that, when do I get mine? I need a vacation from my “vacation.”

Oh, what to do! At least my son-in-law, Nerdenn Events, is off tomorrow. Maybe he can take The Minkey and Cream Soda on a little expedition, and I can sleep in for a little, and then work on a couple of things. And if that fails, at least I have a show to go to on Wednesday night. I think that I’ve exhausted all my complaining for the day. I’m sure that I will have a whole new set of irritations to share with everyone tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone!


Rising From The Dead

I suppose that it’s not so terrible a thing to take a couple of days off from time to time. I’ve had a lot going on recently, and it was nice to be able to catch up on a little sleep. I just wish that I didn’t keep waking up in the Twilight Zone. It used to happen with more frequency about a decade and a half ago, but from time to time it appears that I am still vulnerable to a shift between dimensions. Before I fall asleep, everything is normal. but upon opening my eyes, I find that I’ve been transported to a realm which appears in almost every way identical to the one with which I have been living, aside from one minor detail: In this new reality, my wife and I apparently do not get along. It probably has something to with the fact that I’m a massive pain in the ass, but what really kills me is that tonal shift never occurs until after I have fallen asleep. At least I’m fairly well-rested when we get into the thick of it, although I would much rather wake to find that I have been transported to a universe where everyone agrees with me and defers to my authority. Of course, I would then face the problem of never truly believing that I’d woken up.

It could be that I’ve just gotten used to a certain baseline of misery, but I seem to always be able to find just the thing to say or do to make everybody angry. It could also be that, after having ridden atop a wave of brightly burning mania, I am now crashing back to earth, wings melted and streaking down my back. I just hate it when I argue with my wife. I love her more than I ever thought possible, and have come to rely upon her in those moments when mere apathy and anger are simply not enough to get me through the day. I just wish that I could convince her that I actually know what I’m doing, instead of having to wait half a year for everybody to catch up to me. For me, it’s enough to know that she is there, standing by my side, a pillar of perfection in the jumbled chaos of my life. But I can see how sometimes it can be hard to keep your head held high when you’re just trying to keep it above water.

I’ve always landed on my feet. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen some dark days, just that I’ve always managed to escape them more or less intact. But it has been a little harder to navigate the streams of uncertainty with a wife and child. It’s not like the three of us (and all our stuff) can fit comfortably on someone’s couch until we get our feet beneath us once again. I’ve learned to keep it at a distance, all this uncertainty and self-doubt. I know just how fragile everything can be, but I also know that all that worry will only tie me into knots. That’s not to say that I don’t know how to really sink myself into a pit of things I cannot change, just that I also keep in mind that things have a tendency to work out for the best. My wife, however, is not familiar with this crippling level of worry. She is an amazingly capable human being who consistently puts me to shame on any number of issues, but when it comes to surviving stress-wound muscles, erupting heartburn, and the sinking feeling that the world is falling down around you, I totally have her beat.

Money doesn’t fix everything, but it sure helps to mitigate the worries. I understand why she is worried, as I’m bound to fall on my face one of these days. Most people would love to see me on that day, as the deflating of an ego so large is something of a spectacle. But should it ever come to pass that my luck actually runs out, my wife will wind up being punished for the crime of having believed in me. I know that everything is going to be okay, and apparently the universe is on my side (although, who knows how it will work in this parallel reality?). I don’t want to get into a lot of details, but every time I think that time has just run out, I’m granted an extension at the perfect time, like a second chance unfolding through infinity until I’m ready to get it all just right. Yeah, okay, I can see how that could look a little crazy. I suppose that if someone else unloaded all of that on me, at the very least, I’d be a little skeptical. It’s a good thing to be in the driver’s seat of your own insanity.

I just wish that she would relax. She runs around, putting out the fires, all the while getting singed around the edges. At the end of the day, the fire’s still burning strong, but it helps her to feel that something’s been accomplished. Meanwhile,my focus has been on how my jeans have been shrinking. We don’t have a scale in the apartment, but I’m certain that I haven’t packed away enough to outgrown all of my pants. I know that I could handle losing a couple dozen of them (pounds, not pants), but to have grown so… large… that I cannot even wear the jeans that I don’t care for… What is this world coming to?

That right there is a perfect comparison of the two of us: She’s focused on the all the things we need to do to keep from going under, and I’m shedding internet tears regarding my descent into flabbery. I just wish that she would accept my assurances that everything is going to work out fine, but she’s too much of a perfectionist to take me at my word, and I’m too tired to argue anymore with her. I feel like something dead, barely registering above room temperature.

A shadow of my former self, from deep within the Twilight Zone.
A shadow of my former self, from deep within the Twilight Zone.


I just want everyone to realize that this is the first time since January that I have written something on the first day of the month. If you don’t believe me, you can check it out for yourselves. I didn’t really want to break the streak I’d had going since February 1st, but I felt that I should probably write something in honor of April Fool’s Day. I’m not going to try to convince you that I’m getting a divorce, or that my wife is pregnant again, or some combination of the two. Nor am I going to think up all the strange, yet strangely believable nonsense with which I might otherwise have fooled you. So no, I haven’t finished a book, and it hasn’t gotten picked up by a publisher. I haven’t settled on where I want to work in the real world yet, but soon I will have to choose. This week, probably. Sadly, the thing about the man boobs from the other day is still factually correct. No, instead of trying to think up funny tricks to play upon you, I’m going to take some time and actually share what has me kind of pumped.

Next week, one week from today, Flor and I will be going out to celebrate our sixth anniversary. It’s a little late, but there’s finally something happening that I convinced her she might like to do. And what is that thing? We’re going to catch Apocalyptica at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Wait, I can hear you asking, isn’t your wife a Mexican woman in her late forties? Why would you take her to see Finnish Cello Metal? And those are both questions, though neither one of them is all that good. The answer, however, is that we caught Apocalyptica when they came here on their 7th Symphony tour back… How long ago was that? It feels like it was… maybe four years ago? Five? Anyway, I convinced her to come with me for a night out on the town, and we went to a show together, and wound up with matching hoodies. I just looked it up, by the way. It’s been four and a half years. And the last time we actually did something fun for an anniversary was when we got tickets to the Whiskies Of The World Expo for out third anniversary. Sorry, got off track.

The fact is that I have been trying to figure out how to convince her to go out with me (just like high school- will it never end?!) for quite some time, and when I saw that tickets were still available, I cashed in my points from my Amex card, and snagged us an evening of diversion. Now, the last time that we went to see them, we were both a little younger, and didn’t mind getting back on the last bus of the evening. But this time, Apocalyptica is just a Special Guest, and not the headlining act (Sixx:A.M.), which I really have no desire to stick around to see. That means that we can go out, catch some tunes, and get back in time for bed. I know that’s not really all that metal, but I’m in my mid-thirties now, and I get a little cranky if I don’t get any sleep. That, and my wife will most likely have to start work around, coincidentally enough, 6 o’clock the following morning. None of that matters, though! We’re actually going to go out and have a good time! We’ll have the opportunity to reconnect, and maybe feel the butterflies again. I know that we both became a little weak in the knees when they were holding their cellos above their heads with one hand and bowing stuff of Kill ‘Em All with the other. I mean, I’m not into dudes, but that was kind of sexy. Just sayin’.

Actually, the only thing that has me a little bummed is that they have a full-time singer now, and it’s not the dude they had with them on their last tour: Tipe Johnson, former singer of the Leningrad Cowboys. That Robert Plant-looking dude could really wail, and I just hope that their new guy can handle all the styles of their previous guest vocalists with as much ease as Mr. Johnson. Actually, I hope that they play mostly instrumentals, but that’s just me. Actually, I hope they play a handful of their hits, and then they just throw down Metallica covers for the rest of the show. I would kill to hear what they would do with Orion. They’ve never done a studio cover of it, and I think if anyone could do it justice, it would be those guys.

All this means, of course, that I will be listening to their discography all week, immersing myself the best of their stuff, and trying to will away the aches and pains so that I might be ready for a mosh pit, should one suddenly appear around me. I doubt it will, though. Last time the vibe was more of a show I remember being put on at my middle school, when the administration was constantly admonishing that there was to be “no moshing” and “no headbanging.” Come to think about it, I think that was the first night that I ever checked out the Teen Center. Weird. Somehow I’ve managed to tie up all the themes I ran with in March over the course of a couple of paragraphs. And just to be clear, Apocalyptica did not play at the Old Commode. And there was decent audience reaction when the Finns took the stage. But after a particularly awful set by Dir En Grey (who should have immediately fired their sound guy for gross negligence, and then hauled him away to face multiple criminal charges of assault by way of godawful mixing- I mean, it was like we were getting stabbed in the ear by rabid, shrieking monkeys), we were all still trying to recover. But I still managed to make a Metal Face. And what a face it was.

That's my Metal Face!
That’s my Metal Face!

Anyway, I’m stoked that we are going, and next Thursday, I’ll have a write-up of the show!

Enjoy your April!



Today I was reminded of just how old I truly am. A little boy who I once helped to raise has just turned 28. And another little boy whom I have known since the day of his birth just asked me if there were cars when I was younger. It seems that I cannot escape the march of time, or the inevitable karmic payback of things which I once said when I thought that I was being clever. My youth keeps coming back to poke me in the eye, and I can only sit and watch it happen with a little smile across my face. It’s times like these that make me think that maybe my time has come and gone, and that perhaps the moment has arrived for me to shelve my old ambitions and look forward to the future. And then I think that The Boy isn’t really all that much younger than myself, only David’s age difference between us, and he’s too busy being an amazing person to want to change the world. He is the type of person who will lead by example, which is the change for which I’ve advocated, but I don’t think that he’d like all the attention that comes with starting a cultural revolution. And David can barely make it the length of a commercial break without losing all focus entirely. But enough about my failed dreams and lack of accomplishments.

When I first met The Boy, I was coming over to hang out with his sister. This was just before I wound up calling in a favor, and changing my permanent address to that location. Here came this little kid, though I suppose not so little as I saw him at the time, running up the driveway and demanding that I pick him up and swing him around. I’ve never understood what it is, exactly, that makes kids love that particular type of play. I myself shrink back in terror at the very notion of someone grabbing me and swinging me around, robbing me of control over myself, and the gentle tug of gravity. And yet The Boy could never get enough, nor David, nor my grandson, for that matter. They all kept demanding that I play until the moment that I physically couldn’t anymore. That time is coming for my grandson far sooner than I’d care to admit, but at least for a little while longer I can still scoop him up and spin him wildly until we both feel just a little green.

History replays its finest moments.
History replays its finest moments.

But what strikes me most, is are memories of a conversation that I once had with The Boy regarding his homework, and how he wasn’t doing it. I’ve been having the same conversation with my son lately, and, like The Boy, he also has been diagnosed with ADHD. It seemed odd to me that I was the one, of all people, to have to lecture another human being about the necessity of bowing to the pressures of the busywork. I was the kid who would blow off weeks of homework and then stroll into the classroom to ace the test. I knew the material, but I never had even the slightest inclination toward wasting my time on repetition. Time has taught me that me that there was more important lesson hidden somewhere in the rows of nonsense, and I would have been better served to learn just how to ignore the boredom and get the homework done. I hadn’t figured that out the first time that I had to sit somebody down and try to convince them to do what I could not, but I know it in my bones this time.

The Monkey and The Boy
The Monkey and The Boy

All in all, though,  The Boy didn’t turn out too bad. He’s living life more beautifully than I ever had the courage to even truly begin considering. Sure, I’ve moved hundreds of miles away from where I once ran free, but I fell into the trap of doing all the things which I was supposed to do, and setting aside what mattered in favor of another dream. I had the chance to have the family which I never could when I was just a boy, and I took it because I’d finally found out what it was that I was after. I don’t think that the couple of years that I spent with The Boy when I was learning how to be a man, and practicing to be a Dad, could have influenced him all that deeply, but it is my hope that a little of the dream which I once dreamed might have inspired him just a little to seek out the man he would become, and never sacrifice himself to for anything that wasn’t worth it. I’m not saying that my sacrifices weren’t of value, just that I never seemed to have made a bargain which had unexpected consequences.

Am I happy? In so many ways, I must admit that I am indeed. But there is a part of me that misses the freedom that I once had to go and see the world, not that I ever really did. I have what I have always dreamed that I might have: a family. I grew up in a home torn apart by the statistics of divorce, and I swore that if I ever married, it would last forever. That means, however, that I cannot run off on wild flights of fancy whenever the mood may strike me. I am needed here at home, and, more than that, have no desire to disrespect the bonds my wife and I have forged together. So instead, I settle for a little thrill in hearing of The Boy’s adventures as he travels across the country in search of what it means to be alive. I don’t believe that there is just one answer to the questions life is asking. I’ve found several, both as a father, and as a husband. And these past few months, I’ve rediscovered what my writing has always sought to tell me.

On this day, the twenty-eighth anniversary of my good friend’s birth, I wish him nothing but the best, and hope that his travels might lead him back here once more, as I’ve found that I kind of miss him. Like a blur, the memories are overwhelming, but of him, they are all pleasant. As I look toward the man my own son may become, I have no better example of a good and decent human being to show him than The Man which The Boy has become. Happy Birthday, Homunculus! Be well, and try to do something fun.

Memories in motion.
Memories in motion.


What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

I came up to Bainbridge Island to spend Christmas with my family, as it could very well be my final opportunity. I don’t regret moving out of state, falling in love, and starting a family of my own, but each time I’ve come home to visit, I cannot help but notice how unkind that time has been. When you spend an extended period in the company of another, the changes which remold them are so gradual you really cannot see them. But when I left home, my grandparents were both active senior citizens. They couldn’t do all of the things which they once they had been able, but they were still the same people I had always known, and I figured that they could stick around indefinitely. I never felt the need to worry, safe in the knowledge that they were still years away from the age my great grandmother had been when she passed away. My first couple of trips back, I really didn’t notice any significant changes, maybe just an extra wrinkle here or there, but essentially they were unchanged.

Then the reports came in from my mother that the both of them had truly begun deteriorating, and I started to believe that I was running out of chances to come and see them. And before I knew it, they had somehow joined the ranks of the terribly and officially ancient. They have become, in the time I’ve been away, just paper dolls shaped like people that I used to know. I’ve seen the bite marks that the jaws of time have left upon them as it tore out ragged chunks of organ functionality and even their sense of self. I look at pictures taken back before I moved, and marvel at how young each and every one of appeared. My passage through the stream of time has come upon the rapids, and the landmarks have begun to blur. The years are gone before I know it, leaving only brief impressions, and I long to hold on to everything just a little longer, pause this moment for forever and never have to let them go.

I’ve complained that on my visits, I never get to go and have any of the fun that I’ve been putting off since the last time when I put it off from earlier. The truth is that, yes, I have neglected several friends that live on the other side of the water (and even some that live here on the Island), but it isn’t like some unbearable punishment, like it might have been when I was just a kid. Normally, I’m just up here for a week or so, and by the end of that vacationary stretch, I’m eager to be on my way. It’s easy to remember all the reasons why I left, petty arguments and the notions of being bound by rules merely by residing under someone else’s roof. But this has been a true vacation, both from work, and life itself. There’s nothing that I left behind this time that can’t live without me just a little longer. Except…

To not knowing how to smile for a school photo.
To not knowing how to smile for a school photo…
Leading the revolution at just a couple of weeks old.
Leading the revolution at just a couple of weeks old.

On the other side of the divide of time, there stand two little boys, as ravaged and consumed by aging as those I came to see. Of course, no one really sees the process at the other side of that same coin, we just call it “growing up,” but it’s just as fundamental of a change.

Between the moments captured in these photos, lay seven and a half years of my little boy’s life. In that time he has become an entirely different person at least a dozen times over, and yet the thread of his existence connects these two to make the same sweet person that I’ve come to know. But the truth remains that in blink, my baby boy was gone, replaced by someone new that I’d had a hand in shaping, and yet needed to get to know once more.

And then there is my grandson, who celebrated his second birthday just before we left. Each day he seems to learn something that he couldn’t fathom just the day before, and I’ve been lucky enough to see it happen right before my eyes. Even on the days when I only missed out on his company for the duration of my work day, I would invariably miss out on some new, adorable achievement. I cannot begin to fathom what I may have missed over the course of these past couple weeks. He’s probably begun speak in near-complete sentences, and learned to climb up and down the bookcases when his parents aren’t looking.


I’m not nearly ready to face what is inevitable: I know the sand is running down, and I haven’t much time left. I’m steeling myself against the day when I get that call I absolutely cannot bear to take. It was bad enough to lose someone that I loved, but never spent much time with. On the day I get that fateful call, I know that I’ll feel something breaking. I think that I might rather remain entirely oblivious, were it not for the certainty that I would tear myself apart in the days which followed, for not having done enough to prevent that which can never be avoided. So I wait, curled up into a little ball within myself, and hope that if I worry just enough, my fears might never come to pass.

My wife has been getting on my case for not engaging in more quality time with those I came to see, but I know that sooner than I’d care for, everything will suffer from a permanent rearrangement. So I’ve done my best to sink back into the role I played when I was younger, trying to make it all seem effortless, just like I had never left. It’s not that I am not aware of everything that’s changed, but I wanted my final memories spent in this place to resemble something close to normal, not the extended last goodbye that it could easily become. I want to be able to remember all the happiness to shield against the despair which I know will come.

This guy was so happy to have moved the hell out, and gotten started with his life,
This guy was so happy to have moved the hell out, and gotten started with his life.


El Que No Podia Aguantar

Spending another day at home in the company of my family has made me appreciate just how much I miss going anywhere else for work. Nothing says “Interrupt Me” like a desk in the corner of your bedroom with the T.V. set upon it. Well, that and football.

Growing up as an only child living with a single mother, I was ill prepared to cope with the sheer density of the family my marriage has assembled about me. There are six of us squeezed into a two bedroom apartment (my wife, our school aged son, and myself in one room; my adult stepdaughter, son in law, and toddler grandson in the other), and when we happen to all be home together I realize just how much I miss living alone. And that, of course, is when we’re all getting along. The rest of the time, I’m convinced we’re on some sort of reality show version of a telenovela, despite finding no evidence of cameras (hidden or otherwise). There’s screaming, accusations of infidelity, calling into question of various manhoods (menhood?), pregnancy, dishes flung against the walls and floors, and children running wild like Pablo Escobar’s decapitated chickens. My fantasies since marriage have been of a secret studio apartment where I can hide in perfect solitude and silence, free of the obligation to wear pants. Curse you, denim leggings!

The ringleader of our little group of shrieking wee folk is my seven year old, David. He runs around the house emitting a high pitched whine like a rapidly deflating  balloon, jumping on (and subsequently destroying) furniture, and then running right up to the face of his two year old nephew and shouting, “Boo!” That, of course, elicits a harmonizing gurgle from my grandson, at which point they run off together, tempting fate (and gravity) until it all comes abruptly to a halt when someone begins to cry. When I was a kid, I don’t ever remember anybody having ADHD: you were just a spaz, and needed to sit the hell down and shut the hell up. Now, as class sizes increase, and funds diminish, anyone even moderately more active than a stroke victim is referred to a doctor whose first instinct is to load the poor kid up on speed. God forbid the kid is merely bored, as the curriculum must always be targeted to the lowest common denominator.


My son and I just returned from the kitchen where I showed him (again) how to microwave a corndog. After going over times and basic safety precautions, he turned and asked me, “Why not hours?”

I was just as confused as you are now, and I’d been there for the entire conversation. “What?”

“Why not cook it for hours instead of minutes?”

“You know it only takes like a minute to cook, right? What’s it with you always escalating things?”

“I dunno… So why not hours?”

I sighed, “Because it would burn.”

“But then,” he smiled, “you could be The Statue of Liberty, but holding a….” he paused for effect, “… a corndog!” He then ran off, battered sausage on stick in hand, his laughter uncontrollable in light of his mad comic timing.


Of course, my grandson isn’t a paragon of rationality and calm himself. His big thing now is running full speed toward me and shifting from Extreme Hug formation to a There Can Be Only One! testicle punching attack. But a few minutes later he’ll come up to me, apologize, and give me a hug and kiss to make it all better. Then he’ll give me something of mine he’s scavenged from somewhere, as if I’d lost it, and he’s just completed a quest to return it to me. Like all toddlers, he understands the concept of “mine” as it applies to him, but has no real concept of other people and their possessions as anything other than props in what must be an incredibly psychedelic live action adventure. I’m positive that, were he to possess the ability, he would have quite the narrative to impart. His vocabulary is improving, though. He’s gotten up to two word concepts like “bad guy,” and “oh no.” However, the catchphrase that warms all of our hearts is his impassioned plea for a “coook KEY!”

As difficult as it can be sometimes, the lot of us packed in so tightly, it has opened my eyes to the wisdom of a multi-generational family. Here in the States, at least among us gringos, the dream is to do your time until you’re finally free, then move away to set your own rules applicable to those living beneath your roof. Each successive generation following a centuries’ old pioneer tradition to seek out somewhere new and tame it. Occasionally with blankets. To stifle that urge for primacy has been trying, but I’d like to think it’s taught me something: Unlike my mother, who can only see her grandson twice a year at best, I’ve been given the opportunity to watch my own grow since birth, seen him develop from a tiny defenseless fecal shipment facility to a force of nature in the form of a drunken leprechaun. He’s undergoing a lifelong process of becoming who he is, and I can say I’ve seen it since day one.

And then there’s David William, my one and only child by blood (unless I actually do come into possession of a time machine and become the biological father of my daughter, which I’m not discounting, as she’s too perfectly similar to me to be explained away by coincidence). I was there at the moment of his birth, staring on in blind terror as I got an object lesson in Cause and Effect. I knew I was his father when I felt that terror bubbling up once more inside me  upon the realization that I couldn’t protect him from everything in the world, and that it wasn’t my job to even try. I never knew my dad, so I’m figuring out most of this as we go along, he and I. I reckon that it’s not my job to save him from each and every hurt he may encounter, but rather to teach him how to save himself.

Beneath a gaze of adoration and exasperation, he’s grown up before me through the years (which slip by faster every time I try to hold on to a fleeting moment), become a little boy already seeking incremental independence from his parents. He has so much to say, and far too often I find it easier to dismiss him and his flawed (but well reasoned for his age) worldview than to give him the only thing he truly ever craves: A moment of my undivided attention.

With that, my first actual entry comes to an end. Thanks for reading! I’ll be back tomorrow with more tales from The Continuing Adventures of Tex Batmart.

On a side note: I’m really excited to announce that Dave Banuelos, long time friend and brother from another mother, will be doing a guest column here each week about Sportsball. I’ll fill in more details as they develop.

Thanks again!