Tag Archives: birthday

Wandering In The Desert

The words are hovering about me this morning, whispering promises of eloquence into my ears. I rather tend to disbelieve them, however, as it’s taken me twenty minutes to get this far, and it only looks to go downward from here. This is what I get for only sitting down to write every few months or so, waiting on a free moment, or a special occasion, such as my birthday. I didn’t even manage to write a Second Annual Thanksgiving post, so now, should I have time in future years to remedy that, I am uncertain of the numbering system which I will be forced to devise. I guess I could pound one out after this, and preface it by saying that it took extra consideration to prepare, as this was a completely shit year, and I wanted to include at least some levity. That is, of course, if I ever manage to finish writing this one.

I always get a bit melancholy on my birthday. My wife thinks that it’s because I have convinced myself that everything will be terrible, while I know it’s because there is a fifty-fifty chance that this day will bring some sort of misery or disappointment. I wound up in the hospital on my birthday once, and, on another occasion, was giving the gift of compulsory freedom from my newly ex-girlfriend. It’s not that I believe that things will be horrible, and so endeavor, subconsciously, to make them so, but rather that I have been paying attention, and would prefer not to be blindsided by misfortune. Then again, this could be a really awesome year for celebrating another successful campaign against mortality, and it’s only the early waking hours of the day which are tinged with sadness and physical discomfort. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Since leaving Blondie’s two years ago, I have had four jobs, not including the time I spent writing (and grossing a grand total of $19 (net was -$60, as I had to purchase TurboTax Business for that year)). All, aside from my current gig were somewhat disappointing. Big Lots (insert ridiculous exclamation points wherever) reminded me that the hardest jobs are done for the least amount of respect and pay, and that even after years and years in management, I still believed in unions. Bear’s Lair introduced me to several cool people while reinforcing the notion that large corporations frequently lack a delicate touch. Jupiter was where I saw the sausage being made, and very nearly became a vegetarian (metaphorically speaking, obviously, as I cannot abide by vegetables in real life). It’s like I am forcing myself to remember what I swore that I would stand for, and begging myself to get started on changing the world already.

All of that, of course, led me to Canyon Market. A friend of mine from back in the Blondie’s days had been working there for nearly a year, and had only great things to say about it. I took a chance (and an hour-long BART ride) and applied for a job making sandwiches in the Deli. Now, I’ve worked in several restaurants (most of them in the Quick Service Arena), but I’d never actually gotten a chance to be paid for making sandwiches. As it turns out, I kind of love it. I mean, I’ve been rocking the amateur scene for decades now, but the chance to go pro has fundamentally fulfilled me. Sure, it’s not a desk job involving the pitter-patter of tiny keystrokes, but it’s strangely satisfying, all the same. And, of course, I was just recently made Acting Supervisor of the Deli, which came not so much as a shock to me, but as an inevitable consequence of my work history.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So where do I go from here? Obviously, I need to be writing more, especially since it’s almost time to renew my WordPress hosting, and this year has essentially been a gym membership for me (not to mention last year after May. I need to find a balance between work and home (and a balance at home between family, writing, play, and sleep). It looks like I may need to invest in a slightly less awkward laptop (of the non-Chromebook variety) so that I can use the 3+ hours I spend commuting everyday on something more productive than naptime. I need the person who I am to become to step the hell up and give me a hand. But, as we all know, Future Batmart is kind of an asshole. I don’t blame him too much, though, as Present Batmart (with the aid of Past Batmart) is constantly screwing Future Batmart over.

I’m not going to make a resolution, as those seem only to exist for the express purpose of breaking into tiny, bite-sized shards of shame. Nor shall I make a covert plan of action, for those also seem to good for tracking just how quickly things go off the rails, and by how far they’ve missed their destination. What, then? Perhaps just one step at a time. Every day from now until, oh, I don’t know… success… I will try to find the willingness to do something positive with my time. One day that might mean being a little more romantic with my wife, while another might include a little less paternal judgement toward my son.

I feel like my life is getting chopped up into increasingly tinier pieces, which are harder and harder to fill constructively. The older I get, the faster that time seems to pass. I have postulated that this occurs because each second is an increasingly smaller unit of measure compared to the total amount of time which I have lived. Think back in your own life: when you were a kid, five minutes took forever to finally pass, whereas five minutes now are gone before you realize that you’d been counting. As a child of five, one year was twenty percent of your existence. At 37, it’s (let me pull out my calculator) it’s just under 3% (and diminishing). Much as a quarter was a magical unit of currency when I was small (you could mail a letter, make a phone call from a pay phone, or buy a can of soda from a vending machine (wow, I just realized how truly old I am)), now it seems only good for 15 minutes in a laundromat’s dryer. Hell, I won’t even (can’t even) sell a smoke to someone for a quarter anymore.

So what’s the answer?

No, seriously. What’s the answer? Because I haven’t got the slightest clue.

Three Dozen

In less than twenty hours, I will reach another milestone: three dozen years upon this world. That’s about a dozen more than I intended, but I’ve at least managed to have some times worth living in this enforced surplus I’ve been given. After this, there’s really not another one to celebrate until I hit the big 4-0 (unless you count the Clerks milestone next year, which, sadly, I kind of do). But that’s okay, because this year is special enough to last awhile. You see, I am now She was when I was only seventeen. I traveled into the future (albeit the long way ’round), and found myself… diminished. There may have been a million reasons to hold on to a little bit of anger, but at least I could now tell myself to lay off on some of the little jokes, like mocking her for smoking Ultra Lights, or… Okay, I guess that’s basically it. Nineteen years (well, and six more months away), since I began the Adventures of Tex Batmart. Of all the possible outcomes I could foresee, this was never one of them, at least not exactly. Here I am, a husband, father, stepfather, and grandpa, some dude who works a Regular Joe job, having mostly abandoned his calling in order to pay the bills. I’ve redeemed some part of that last self-recrimination, but it’s still a work in progress, to be sure.

As of 1:44 p.m. tomorrow, I will have been around for 1,136,073,600 seconds (margin of error +/- 59 seconds), and I swear I’ve felt the weight of nearly all of them. Although, and maybe this is just the romantic stirring somewhere deep within me, there were a few that lasted for quite a bit longer than the clock recorded (yet weighing almost nothing in my gravitic reckoning), as I tapped into the wellspring of true happiness and rode the tidal waves of love. Sometimes I feel that I’m just too old to feel that kind of teenage ardor, the hopeless throes of passion that only the young can truly feel (or at least bother themselves to act upon). With every year that passes, I keep hearing that some future demographic is now the “new” (different, younger) demographic. Why are the goalposts continually being moved? Why is it that 36 has to force me back into my twenties? Why can’t the 30’s be the new 40’s? I feel like I’m stumbling up an escalator which is rolling slightly faster downward. By the time that I am dead, I will have only been the “New 21”. Forget that! I want to be all old and crotchety, if I am to live that long. I want to be decrepit and scream for teenaged hooligans to vacate my lawn. I don’t mind the trade-off of truly free and uncensored speech, if the only thing it means is that people disregard me. They’ve been doing so for nearly four decades, so I’d rather just go off on random people, if it’s all the same to you.

So what have I accomplished in these past three dozen years? I suppose that it depends upon what you feel merits the title of an accomplishment. I learned to sit up without being held, and to walk unaided. I mastered the use of indoor plumbing before I ever went to school. I made my career choice before arriving at double digits, and the first time that I ever fell in love, I was the same age as my son is now (my first kiss as well. I am grateful that my son has exponentially less game than I did, which is kind of depressing, from an evolutionary standpoint). I learned how to write by devouring the masters, and very nearly managed to almost learn guitar. I fell in love so many tens of times, that I should probably be nominated for some kind of unrequited award. I owned my own business when I was seventeen, and also… you know, became an adult, in the biblical sense (and I’m not referencing a Bar Mitzvah). I started at the bottom of the lowest rung of the restaurant industry to work my way up toward the top by the time my twenties were half over. I finally got married, and became a dad for real (having practiced on another youngster ten years before that), though not in that strict order. I’ve never gotten fired, having always chosen instead to quit (though once I learned about the ins and outs of unemployment, I began to reconsider the pride that I had taken in it).

But all of those are just things, you know? What have I done to change the world (for either good or evil)? I’ve never saved a whale, nor clubbed a baby seal. I have planted trees, but I also eat a lot of burgers. I have done my part to save the Amazon by selling my soul to the Seattle-based usurper, but it’s a hometown business, so I guess I’m still shopping locally? It used to be enough for me that I would be remembered, and now that I’ve passed along my D.N.A., my legend is almost guaranteed (though I should probably make sure that I can get a grandchild out of the Minkey at some point before patting myself upon the back). But now I seem to be hung up on having managed to accomplish something of worth. It’s like I feel that I must justify my existence, though I never really wanted it to start with. I want to write something of such beauty that it will resist the vagaries of time and pass down through the centuries without ever having been misquoted, I want to do something that will save someone else’s life. I want to reach out into the mists of the unknown with the pain which I have felt, and take someone suffering all alone, and pull them to their feet. I want to find out, once and for all, who it is I really am.


The Soft Parade

The week leading up to my birthday has always been a trying time, a constant reminder of the ultimate futility of my entire life. I mean, sure, I’ve managed to not drive my wife away in the nearly ten years we’ve been together, and somehow I ended up with a kid who’s pretty cool. I’ve got skills and perhaps a decent opportunity awaiting me, and yet, I’m not doing what I wanted to when I first began imagining how my life would go. I blame it on my continuing quest for balance. It seems well and good, but every time that something halfway decent comes along, I hold my breath, and start the countdown until the bottom drops out from beneath me. At this point, I’ve almost given up on the prospect of being genuinely happy, as I’m terrified to contemplate what sort of vengeance that joy might bring. And despite the regularity with which this sort of thing befalls me, more often than not, it manages to catch me completely by surprise. People wonder why I hate surprises: the fact is that the number of unexpected “gifts” which haven’t completely bitten me fiercely upon my posterior can be counted one hand, trembling in fear.

But, because I cannot help but succumb to the instinct which inspires me to crawl up to the sleeping bear and poke it in the eye (never mind the tripping on the rock a moment later as I scramble to get away), I’ve decided to try to think of all the things which bring me joy (and therefore tempt the retribution soon to follow). I’m not really in an altogether upbeat mood, but maybe this might actually be good for me. Well, either that, or it will drive me deeper into depression, but as I’m not sure that’s possible (famous last words), I’ll give it a shot.

I actually managed to write nearly every day for six straight months. Before this past year, I hadn’t done that since I was nineteen or twenty.

I’ve met people who have reminded me what youth feels like, and though the searing burn of age follows immediately in the wake of their departure, I find it reassuring to remind myself what unbridled life was like.

For all the struggles I have had adjusting to fatherhood, it’s nice to know that I’m still better at it than my dad. And the Minkey seems to be turning out alright, though I suppose it’s still to early to tell if that is because of or in spite of me.

My wife is an amazing woman (someone whom I do not truly believe that I deserve), and I just wish that we made each other happier. I know that I am a constant disappointment to her, as I am who I am, but I do not blame her for my lack of joy, as that would be akin to holding the ocean responsible for drowning me. I think I’ve said that wrong. I meant that I am naturally inclined towards discontentment, and that there is nothing which she could do to either drive me toward or save me from the black clouds which hang above me.

I’ve got some friends who are somehow still there for me, despite the fact that I’m rarely there for them. Perhaps my absences diminish what a needy drain I am, and leave behind only the impression that I am kind of funny and profound.

Crap. I tried to think of more, but I think that those five are it.

In case we are wondering why I seem to be so hung up on this, I guess I can share with you the news: apparently, it will be a miracle if my grandparents survive another year. I suppose that I could be grateful for this possible year I have to make the time to see them and to say goodbye. Or perhaps I could be grateful for my childhood spent with them, or the several years when my mother and I lived with them. Or the roadtrips which we took, or the every single special moment that I had to spend with them, most of them under or unappreciated at the time. Part of me is angry, because I already said goodbye when we traveled to The Island last December, and I don’t know if I can do it all again. As I’ve said so many times, it’s not death I fear. In this case, it’s the slowly dying. My heart is breaking, and it’s coloring everything else within my life. Combine that with The Soft Parade, and it’s more than I can take. I just want everything to go the way I want it to, for once. I would just like one untainted, uncompromised, untarnished victory which I could unequivocally call my own.

For all my years, and all the weariness which far exceeds them, there are times when I am self-aware enough to know when I am behaving like a child. To that, of course, I say, “So what?!” Am I not allowed, from time to time, to free myself from the bonds of self-imposed adulthood and just feel again?

I’m sorry for the gloom of these past couple of posts. I’ve no right to inflict my pain upon you, and it’s not as though sharing it with you will actually ease my burden. There is nothing that you can do for me, and there is no reason for you to know the pain I carry in my heart. And while I feel I’m drowning in quagmire of my own design, I know (at least intellectually) that I will probably be okay, at least statistically.

Thank you all for being in my life, from those who only briefly touched it, to those for whom it’s been a significantly longer commitment. I’ve needed each and every one you, for exactly the amount of time you had to give. And no, this is not goodbye.

Think of it instead as good night.

Sleep tight.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Do Not Read This

Do not read this if you love me.

Do not read this if you have believed in me.

Do not read this if you feel that I’m worth saving from whatever malady from which you think I’m suffering.

Do not read this if you’d prefer a happy ending.

Do not read this if you think that everything will be alright.

Do not read this if you have ever cared for me.

Do not read this if… you know that I am right.


It hurts inside, like a constant tearing at my soul, a barrage of suicidal butterflies exploding deep within me. Who knows if this is actually a thing, or just something that happened frequently enough to make me notice, and expect it, therefore causing it to come to pass. The last week in November, and the first day of December are always a trial for me. Nowhere else within the boundaries of the calendar do I feel more helpless before the vagaries of my Disorder. You know, I wanted to try to use the pain to write something heartfelt and beautiful, something which could justify my suffering, at least in my own eyes, and force some sort of validation upon this seemingly failed existence which I have been assured on frequent occasions is my life. I am not afraid of death. I do not fear the nothingness which will devour me whole. And after my failures as an author, so starkly driven home this past year, I do not even fear fading into the realms of the forgotten. Better that I end this damned experiment, and let the world move on without me. Better to be forgotten, and allow the wounds which my passing have caused than to stick around just to witness everybody suffer (most especially when gazing into the mirror).

It might sound like I am angry, though nothing could be further from the truth: if I could only feel the boiling passion of the roiling rage, I might feel human enough to stick around, if only out of spite. I guess that I am merely resigned to the fact that I have failed in almost every single endeavor in which I’ve applied myself, and tired (so very, very tired) of getting everything completely wrong. No, that’s not entirely true. It’s just that I am out on sync with everything else around me. I keep meeting people out of order, at precisely the wrong time, and knowing that some other me should have met them later (or sooner, as the case may be). I used to think that I was collecting people who would help me change the world, but it now seems that I am only bumping into strangers to remind myself of how far I have allowed myself to fall. I used to be better than this, I’m sure of that. I used to believe in things. I used to want to make a difference. I guess that I have been a grownup for too long. Too many years of compromising both my ethics and my soul. Too many decades of putting off the things which matter until tomorrow. Too many decades, period.

This isn’t anyone’s fault, beyond my own. I keep forgetting that when I dare to spread my wings and fly toward the heavens, that, despite the darkness of the hour, my wings will melt, not by the heat beating downward from the sun, but by the friction of an exponentially increasing velocity as I try to put infinity between myself and the prison which I’ve built to keep me whole. And safe. My life of the mundane is nothing more than life support as I struggle to wrap myself into a vegetative state. But it’s not as though I didn’t want it in the first place. There have always been the two of me (and I’m not referring to schizophrenia): the regular dude who’d like to know what it’s like to have a “normal” family, and the Phoenix, who burns himself so brightly that he is reduced to ashes, only to climb out of them once more once he remembers how to light the flame. Maybe it’s just this week, or maybe, like some sort of vestigial attachment left to atrophy, some remnant of that egotistic being of purest wrath and judgement remains.

I am not afraid of death. I am not afraid to close my eyes, knowing that they’ll never open again. I am afraid to continue living. I’m terrified of learning just how much further I can diverge within myself before I completely and irrevocably shatter into a million pieces, leaving the both of me in a fine dusting upon the floor. I’m tired of surviving; I’m tired of always landing on my feet. Just for once, I’d like everything to just fall apart, with no way for me to fix it. Sometimes I just want to drive everyone away, so that when I am done destroying the things which keep me afloat, there will be no one to turn to when I lose my nerve, and whimper that I’d rather not face a change.

I just want the pain to go away. I just want the ability to freeze a single moment for forever, and breathe in life once more, before the pace of everything sucks me below again.

I want to feel attractive. I want to feel important. I want to feel that there was at least one single reason for me to have ever have existed. I want to know I mattered. And while I’m listing off all of my impossible dreams, why not ask to be a millionaire as well?

I hope you didn’t read this.

I hope that you just glanced at the picture and gave it a “thumb’s up.”

I hope that you don’t think that it was your fault, because it wasn’t. You made me feel alive, and while that fire may have burned me, it also gave me the courage to face my misery without prevarication.

Birthdays and Stories

Eight years ago today, just a little after eight o’clock at night, The Minkey took his first breaths, and I was changed forever (obviously, he was fundamentally changed by the very act of being born, and, having been a twelve-pound natural birth, he rather changed his mother as well, but this is my story, so we’re sticking with my perspective). It was a fitting end to an eventful pregnancy, and I found myself staring into the unending stretch of infinity as I considered what this tiny baby represented, and how he carried me forever forward into the future, yet another step towards genetic immortality, a journey which had begun billions of years before, and would continue until the last of my descendants failed to use their charm to talk a member of the opposite sex into overlooking our obvious physical limitations in favor of our humor and romantic natures. I figured that I would be the final member of my particular genetic line, but it turns out that there is someone for everyone, and several months later, nature having taken care of itself without any regard to my efforts both to help and to hinder, my son was passed that particular torch, and from somewhere deep with a double helix, I felt a sigh of relief. I may have valid reasons for having been hesitant to pass along defective genes, but they didn’t recognize my authority to negotiate on their behalf.

David was born a week late, and would have been induced on the tenth anniversary of a very special night (one that only comes once in a young man’s life), had he not decided to enter the world when he had. I’d been growing concerned about this, feeling that it must be some sort of sign that something was going to happen, and it was bad enough that Flor, despite being a little over nine months pregnant, picked up on it almost immediately. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the sort of thing that a guy can openly discuss with his pregnant girlfriend. I did manage to build up the courage to tell her a number of years later, to about the sort of reception which I had been imagining. The evening of the 26th, we decided to take an evening for ourselves, Flor and I, figuring that, one way or another, it might very well be our last chance for the foreseeable future, and went out to an Italian restaurant in downtown Berkeley which we’d seen before, but at which we’d never eaten. I forgot what Flor ordered, but I had the pasta carbonara. As it tuns out, I should have been paying better attention to Flor’s menu option, as the following morning, the contractions began.

I distinctly remember being calmer than expectant fathers are normally portrayed in film, but Flor reminds every year that I was just as excitable and useless. Her brother (and his children) came to pick us up in the early afternoon, and drive us to the hospital. We took a more direct route than that which I had grown accustomed to, having become a professional rider of buses, and I remember thinking how strange it was that I had never been that way before, and how streets lined on either side with Palm tress seemed both beautiful and stereotypically Californian. Flor had made sure that we’d brought everything important for the next few days, whereas I made sure I’d brought along my Cuban cigar, which had been a gift from Fed. I’d suggested that perhaps a bottle of Absinthe might have been more appropriate, both metaphorically and literally, but he reminded me that a cigar was more traditional, and that the Absinthe in his possession was his. Unwilling to walk away empty-handed, I thanked him for the cigar, and talked him out of a glass of Absinthe, since he already had it out. It was delicious.

Up until we’d gotten to the hospital, Flor seemed under the delusion that she would prefer to have a completely natural experience. I kept reminding her that having a miniature human explode from her nether regions, while traditional and evolutionarily approved, was still about the most unnatural thing that either of us was likely to experience until Holodecks became a thing. As the contractions grew closer, and the shifting mass of life began to thrash about her womb as if it were a mosh pit, she began to reconsider, which was good, because by the time she finally got the epidural, it was almost too late. They’d left her suffering for too long, and when they finally showed up, she practically jammed the needle into her spine on her very own. I would like to take a moment now to mention something which has been riffed upon by comedians for as long as I can remember: I would like to get an epidural at least once before I die. I have been high, in my more youthful days, to such an extent that I could understand both nothingness and infinity (they are the same thing), warp across large spaces in just a couple of steps, and get lost between my driveway and the next, and I have never been as high as Flor was in the hours before my son was born.

I told her stories about a Princess who came to a strange land to save the day, sacrificing the life she knew for one of constant confusion and struggle. How she was stuck there, even after her quest was done, as if there was something more which she had yet to do. How she met a warbling minstrel, and fell in love with him, though she was of noble birth, and he was as far from nobility as one could ever hope to be. How they had a son, an intelligent and creative son, one who would validate their struggles in this land which was not her own, and redeem them with the beauty which he would both deliver to, and inspire within this sad and barren country. And how, though she had not seen them since she’d had to leave, her parents, the King and Queen forgave her for her absence, and were well pleased by their newborn grandson. By the time I had finished, she had been passed out for a while, though for exactly how long, I couldn’t tell you, as I’d been caught up in the telling of our story in only slightly mangled Spanish. Her dreams did not last for long, however, as when it was go time, the stabs of pain tore raggedly through the blanket haze of the drugs and brought her into focus.

David spent the first week of his life in the NICU, and Flor, though discharged from the hospital, never left his side. When we were finally able to bring him home, it seemed that he’d gotten so much bigger (though, according to his measurements, he’d only barely caught up with his birth weight), and all of the newborn clothes and accessories we’d purchased and were given, were woefully inadequate to cover him. It was a mad dash to get him larger things to wear, both clothing and diapers, and we discovered that they don’t actually make newborn things in giant sizes. He grew so quickly, both physically and mentally, that by the time Valentine’s Day ’08 had rolled around, he’d managed enough motor control to stab me in the eye. Before I knew it, he was walking (and getting into everything), talking (he still hasn’t shut up since), and doing his best to force his will upon everyone he meets.

Average attendance for David's parties (not really).
His first birthday party was a little underwhelming.

Soon it was time for his first birthday party, which, as I mentioned above, was a little underwhelming. We also took him up to celebrate in Washington, but the turnout was more or less the same, especially if you disqualify family attendance. And then, before we knew it, his sister came to live with us, Flor and I got married, and David was celebrating another birthday. His third and fourth birthdays were slightly more festive affairs (with a Star Trek cake and TARDIS cake, respectively), and by his fifth birthday, his mother had decided not to spend a fortune on his party. This year is a far more sober affair, intentionally small and inexpensive, and I’m hoping that it will be his favorite to date, but mainly because he’s getting LEGO Jurassic World, and he hasn’t shut up about wanting it since the first time that he saw that it existed.

I have had the pleasure of knowing him for his entire life, and watching him along the path to the man who he is destined to become, growing and developing before my very eyes. From the first time that I saw him on a sonogram, appearing as some sort of water-based demonic lifeform, to the first time that I saw him in the flesh, covered in goo, with a reflating head, to the moment when I knew that I was a dad, when he was connected up to machines through wires and tubes stuck into the stump of what once had been his most intimate connection to another human being, I have watched him grow. And from the first time he rolled over, to his first steps, to his roaming about and randomly collapsing in the backyard of the apartment which we had in Berkeley, I have been there to see him developing. His first words spoken, his first sentence, and the first words, and then first book he ever read; the pride in me swelled up so much that I could barely maintain a balance. I do not know who he’ll become, but I’ve seen him as he’s doing it. I love him a little more, each and every day, though there are times when I would much rather not have to suffer him. He is my son, my future and my nemesis, and I love him more than I ever though was possible.

From the moments in which I first saw him
From the moments in which I first saw him
My reason for wanting to have a better life. Also pictured: My family.
To the first time that he something which I had wanted him to see
Progress and Equality in the 21st Century? Ha!
To when he began to laugh at me
"Well, you NEVER share with me SOMETIMES!" -David, right now.
To when I stopped feeling bad when I laughed at him
And, other times, he is... less profound.
From the happy moments
To the sad
To the sad
Looking out into the distance
I have always loved him
And I always will
And I always will
From now until my final breath
From now until my final breath
David William, I love you
David William, I love you