Tag Archives: family

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is always a strange time of year for me. I have not had the best relationship with mine, and I always feel a little weird when refer to my wife as a mother. It’s not that she isn’t, it’s just that it’s weird to think of her only as someone else’s mother. I don’t even think of her as just my wife. I mean, she is so much more than can be fit into just one single box. She is my wife, her children’s mother, sister to her siblings, daughter to her parents, and someone else who exists just for herself. I was drawn to her because she was one of the first women who I’d met that seemed complete within themselves, and yet still wanted something romantic with me. Normally, I’m drawn to damaged people, pulled in by the vacuum of their negativity, as they were drawn to mine. But with my Wildflower it was something else entirely. She saw the best in me, despite the fact I warned her otherwise, and took a leap of faith into love with me. One of these days, I should probably apologize to her for not running in the opposite direction, and sparing her the pain of dealing with me all of this time, but I’d like to wait until I am successful, as a thank-you mansion helps ease the pain more swiftly than pretty words.

With my own mother, things get a little bit more complicated. I’ve had countless people tell me that I just need to put the past behind me and move on, but I cannot help but wonder how my life might have diverged were it not for her interference. Throughout my final years as a teenager, and into my early twenties, I heard nothing but venom from her regarding my life choices. Interesting then, that had she chosen not to interfere with plans of compromise forged between myself and the school district, none of the events which she felt obligated to speak down to me about, would have ever come to pass. As a minor, I required her permission to attend Seattle Central as part of the Running Start program. Had she not revoked it at the final hour, I would never have met one of my “friends” that year. I would not have been there when she was kicked out of school. I would not have been there when she was kicked out of her home. I would not have stood firm in my promise to be there for my friends and given her a place to stay. When things finally fell apart between my mother and I, I would not have been able to call upon this friend to return the favor of sanctuary, and would, in turn, never have met her mother.

I wouldn’t have been staying at that house when my friend and her little brother went off to Eastern Washington to stay with their grandmother. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to fall in love with… her. We wouldn’t have started dating, and I wouldn’t have been there when she fell back into a pattern of drug abuse. And if I hadn’t been there, who knows if my friends would have been there either. We wouldn’t have gotten caught up in all of that. The hardest substance which I’m likely to have tried would have remained some LSD. From there I cannot even think how much my life might have diverged from the one which I wound up living. Maybe I would have been writing sooner. Maybe I might have published something which reeked of youth and inexperience and the arrogance of knowing everything. Maybe I might have sunk to the bottom of a bottle and never come up for air again. But I wouldn’t have met Flor. And I wouldn’t have helped create the Minkey. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try to get right what my father never could.

Are there things that I would change in my life right now if I could? I’d like to be living a little bit more comfortably. Other than that, I don’t know. Pull one string, and the whole damn thing unravels. What frustrates me is that I didn’t get to make that one decision. Everything I’ve built, everything I’ve done, has been built upon a foundation of reaction, of me trying desperately to shore up the what-might-have-beens and try to figure out how to go from there.

When I was nineteen, I wasn’t speaking to my mother. She’d shared her judgement of my girlfriend (nineteen years my senior) with me, and done nothing to hide her vitriolic disapproval from the woman with whom I was in love. So I severed ties between us. I told my mother that until she could get over herself, that I refused to be a part of her life any longer. That from the moment when she kicked me out (though, believe me, I was more than ready to have gone), she had renounce all claim to motherhood. If she wanted to still have me in her life, she’d have to ditch her failed attempts at mothering, and come to interact with me on an adult basis. It took her about a year to realize I wasn’t bluffing, and then she relented, and things were tolerable again. But I don’t think that she could ever see past the age difference, and when the woman and I finally parted ways (after a couple of trips to the hospital on part for nervous breakdowns), she could not conceal her joy. To this day, I still hear nothing but venom though her clenched teeth if that time in my life happens to be discussed.

But all of it, down to the tiniest little detail, could have been completely avoided were it not for her decision in early August of 1996. She’s told me that I’ll feel differently when David blames for screwing up his life. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll accept that I failed him, and try to minimize the damage. I’ve been through all of this before, hopefully I’ll still be able to recognize some of the landmarks along the way.

I cannot forgive. I cannot forget. I am the Center of All Bitterness. It is this rage which drives me forward, still attempting to prove all my critics wrong. Maybe I have my mother to thank for that. Actually, I know that I do. But I don’t think that I can do that today. Maybe next year. Maybe never.

The Comfort Of Bitter Laughter

Someday I will be capable of looking back at all of this and laughing. Normally, this isn’t an impediment to getting an early start, but I’m not sure exactly what the punchline is this time. I’ve always said that failure is a better teacher than success, but I have no idea what’s going on right now, and I can’t think of anything in particular that I am doing right. Sure, I’m inflicting my words on literally tens of people on any given day, and my beard had regrown to a respectable Ewok-Wookie hybrid length, but I’m also much more massive than I was before, and I seem determined to push the limits of just how far mopiness can take me. If I were forced to commit to a metaphor to describe my life, I would have to say it feels like a fairly unfunny sitcom before the laugh track has been added. Everybody is just waiting for the laughter which they hope will come, and praying that they don’t fall flat in the moment of truth, yet knowing that script just isn’t all that funny. It would be okay if this was just a pilot, but we’ve just begun our tenth season, and it really feels like we should have worked all of this out by now.

Batmart judging Batmart. This should be amusing.
Batmart judging Batmart. This should be amusing.

Have you ever woken up and felt like you might have slid one dimension down while you were sleeping? It’s hardly noticeable, but there’s just that sense that something just isn’t quite right. On the good days, if you can call them that, the differences are more pronounced, and it’s easier to believe that you might be a pilgrim on his voyage through the looking-glass. But on mornings such as this, with only five hours separating the moment of slipping into slumber and final surrender to the alarm which rings out to shatter the wall of sleep around you, there’s nothing at which you can definitively point to make your case that this is not your world, beyond a nagging sensation just behind the bags beneath your eyes. It’s either that, or I read entirely too much Speculative Fiction, and have lost the ability to view the world as anything but a metaphor for my internal struggles to find my place among the stars.

I suppose that if I had gotten into Westerns, I would be prattling on about cattle rustlers and a Frontier Spirit, and if I’d somehow been caught up in Romance novels, I would be able to describe this crisis as the irreconcilable difference between the billionaire who wanted me to be his trophy wife (thereby providing for my ailing, widower father, and the son I’d had with my the love of my life who had been claimed too early by some exotic disease he’d caught from treating underprivileged patients in the third world), or my secret, burning desire for the rough, lower class day laborer who loved with a burning passion which I never could resist, but couldn’t hardly provide for himself, let alone my son and father. And if that seems mean, please keep in mind that I have been subjected to telenovelas, on a near-daily basis. I used to be able to ignore the soapy melodrama altogether, but as my Spanish has improved, my ability to just tune it out has plummeted. That doesn’t mean that I am mocking those who indulge in romantic fantasy (any man who has that many Star Trek novels is in no position to judge another’s tastes in literature), just that I find that particular genre unappealing. Now if you’ll excuse me while I reverse the polarity, adjust the Heisenberg Compensator, and make the jump to Hyperspace.

Maybe I should get to work on a telenovela; it’s not like I don’t know the formula by now. I’m just afraid that this hopeless romantic poet will fall in love with the characters he’s written (especially the villainess), and be unable to return to the real world. Leave it to me to be worried about creating not the perfect woman (who exists fully within herself and yet compliments the best things about me, so that when we join together, there is no power in the world which might stop us), but the perfect nemesis: someone perfectly crafted to dig deep within me and destroy the best parts of me. I’m sure that it speaks volumes about me, but there is nothing more alluring than woman who wants nothing more than to destroy you. Yeah, I’m guessing that I’m not nearly as well-adjusted as I thought I was, and I wasn’t really confident in even that.

Truth be told, I’d love, one day, to be the hero. Not somewhere buried in the written word, but in the life I live. I’d settle for being remembered as fair and just man, but I would love to stroll into a situation where hope had long ago been forcibly extinguished, and discover that the key to fixing everything had been forged in the crucible of my suffering, and filed down by bitterness and blindness to hope itself. My ultimate dream, of course, would be to do all of that, but somehow die in the process, thereby elevating the mundane muddling of my existence to a burning light which would withstand the bitter winds of time. Hey, to each his own.

Sadly, I have an amazing wife (who I’m fairly certain I do not deserve), a son capable of moments of sheer brilliance, a daughter so much like myself that I find it difficult to believe that we share no D.N.A., and a grandson who is so full of love that sometimes I think that I may just break down in joyful tears the next time he embraces me. And I’m about to have another grandchild. This time it’s going to be a little girl. I don’t stand a chance. I’m going to wind up beaten down by all the love around me, and, if I’m not very, very careful, wind up a happy person. Who then, I implore you, will make sure the neighbor kids know the rules regarding my lawn? A sad day, indeed. I’ve spent my life carefully cultivating misery, only to have it tossed to the wind every time I see the love in the eyes of those around me. And then I remember just how lucky I truly am, and how far I’ve come, and the anger builds again because they’ve stolen my bitter tears from swollen cheeks, and left me with laughter in their place. How am I supposed to be complete if I’m not completely inconsolable and an utter killjoy?

The Swirling Mists Of Fortune

Looks like my legs may be getting a workout once again. My wife and I have not won the lottery, so it looks like I’ll get to see just how good I’ve gotten at writing no matter what. I’ve submitted several applications and hope to hear back from at least somebody within a day or two. I may not have done everything by the book in my younger years, but a decade and a half of experience in the same field has made me somewhat of a commodity. Ideally, I’d like to just go into restaurants and tell them how to fix the things that they are doing wrong, but there’s already someone doing that, and he has got a camera crew. I suppose that if I had started this whole process a few months earlier, I might have been able to coast by as a cashier, but since I’ve left it until the last moment, I’ll have to jump right back in where I left off, at least in terms of responsibility (and pay). And I know that once I’ve gotten hired and get used to where I’m working, all of this anxiety will dissipate, as I throw myself completely into the task at hand. In addition, depending on my salary, I may be able to give my wife the same opportunity for joblessness that she has given me.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Actually, I suppose that it is. Whereas I have been writing nearly every day that I have been away from Blondie’s Pizza (discounting a reasonable number of days off and time spend on vacation in December), I’m sure that she will launch into an all-out assault on the apartment, and have it organized exactly how she wants it. She’ll have all the time she’s said she’s wanted to devote to her home and to her children. I give her about a month, tops, before she’s ready to get back to work. I am the type who needs to mull things over, chew on thoughts, and then explode in prose while seated before my laptop. Wildflower, on the other hand, just sort of rages at the various tasks before her until they disappear or submit before her mastery. It would be nice to have some money again. That’s what I’d have to say I miss the most since leaving my last job. It’s hard going from having enough to pay the bills and maybe have a little fun (time permitting) to trying to figure out how to make the magic work.

It used to be so much simpler, before I had people who were counting on me. One person bouncing from couch to couch isn’t all that much, but trying drag along your entire family just makes it that much harder. But I’m going to be positive today. I’m going to believe that it’s all going to work out like it should. I’ve been far more productive than I was the last time I renounced a gainful state of employment, and I think that it was necessary to get me writing again. I wish that the cost wouldn’t have been so high, but I’m doing something that I feel that I was meant to do. The last time, I got to spend six months bonding with my son. This time, I’ve been bonding with myself.

In retrospect, I probably could have phrased that better.

But I’ve rebuilt my writing muscles, and the only thing that I need now is a little inspiration. It’s easy to get trapped inside your own feedback of madness, and I may have mined most of what’s been hiding in my head. I’m impressed that it took so long. I figured that I would have run out of nonsense to spout weeks ago. Then again, I have written this same column probably five or six times, so I don’t think that I should be so terribly impressed. Yeah, I need some outside influence on my reality. Fortune favors the bold. That used to mean being the guy who threw away a career to jump toward his destiny, but apparently that now means making enough money so that I can feed my family. And I feel about the same way with the change in definition as I did when “literally” became “figuratively”.

My fingers are crossed.

In other news, yesterday I managed to rack up my 2,000th page view since December 7th. As a gesture of thanks, I reprinted an old tale of mine, and then promised to start working on a version that more closely showcases what I’ve been able to pick up since I first wrote it, which I will debut here in when I hit 2,000 views for 2015. That’s only 83 views away, so I had better get started on it, if I want it to be ready on time.

Great. Now, in addition to finding someone to pay me for doing something, I have to rewrite one of my favorite stories for all of you. It’s only 900 words or so now, and I’d like to make it a little longer. I think it’s time that I learn how to make a meal instead of just a snack-sized story. I guess this means that I will have to put myself back into the mindset of who I was when I wrote the damned thing, and from there, try to remember everything about the story. I guess the biggest thing which worries me right now (about Terracrats, not life in general) is that I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain that youthful tone, or if I should even try.

It will probably be the victim of a gritty reboot.

Batmart Begins:

I glared down at the cherry of my lit cigarette, furtively glancing about in the fading light of this spring day. Anyone happening to glance this way would wind up seeing us for sure. I dropped the cigarette to the saltwater-soaked concrete and ground it beneath my boot, much as my ex-girlfriend had done to me not months before in lieu of a birthday present.

Damn. I was going for mockery, but I kind of like that.

Spring- Baby Showers

I may have mentioned it in passing once or twice before, but I’m not the biggest fan of baby showers. They are nothing but an excuse to get stressed out, spend ridiculous sums of money, and wind up hanging out with people who you shouldn’t really have to impress. We went through this all when Cream Soda was about to be born, but it seems that two-and-a-half years have erased the pain from our first attempt. The morning of the shower, I swore that I would stick to my guns and not participate in any way. My wife had learned her lesson from the parties which had come before, and had wanted to avoid the pitfalls of yet another get-together. But when I woke up, she was in the kitchen with our daughter, scrambling to help get a day’s worth of work done in just a handful of hours. I insisted that I wanted nothing to do with any of it, and took a shower, put on my suit, and then tried to blend into the background. I must not have looked busy enough, though, as I was soon dragooned into service. A ten-dollar bill was shoved into my hand, and I was sent off in search of two-liter sodas and six packages of tostadadas. Sure, it meant going to the grocery store in my one good suit, but on the other hand, it got me out of the apartment.

The whirlwind pace of food preparation continued with only minor breaks for bathing, and both my daughter and wife were still going strong well after the party was set to have begun. Our rides arrived a short while later, and it took all of us to load up everything which we were taking over. We had ribs, a pasta salad, a fancy regular salad with oranges and walnuts, a fettuccine alfredo with the one thing I fear more than whole milk: shrimp. There were also party favors and balloons, and a homemade lemonade. The six of us piled into our in-laws’ cars as nothing more than an afterthought. We were running at least an hour behind schedule, and we still had to set up everything at Lupe’s house. Fortunately, the drive was short. We started unloading the vehicles, and once everything had been brought inside, the ladies began the final touches on the party decorations. Nerdenn Events and I wanted to just stay out of the way, and help by not screwing anything up. To help us in our cause, Guillermo, brother-in-law to my sister-in-law, offered both me and my son-in-law a beer.

Pictured: Helping.
Pictured: Helping.

The place was still pretty empty, so Nerdenn and I managed to stay out of harm’s way while the women were running around, engaged in quality control. They were like a force of nature, and within a handful of minutes, the whole place looked ready to withstand an all-out assault of party-goers suffering from Baby Fever. The food was ready. The decorations were arranged. There was a nice little spot for the presents to begin piling up. The only thing we needed now was for the tide of people we’d been expecting to arrive.

You can see the fear of failing to host the perfect party in their eyes.
You can see the fear of failing to host the perfect party in their eyes.

Soon, the usual suspects began arriving (more family, and a friend not acquainted with the guest of honor/party girl), and it was decided that we’d eat if no one showed up in a little while. I was grateful for this, because I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day. I’d been saving myself for the ribs, which were, after a brief respite for transportation, back in the oven once again. In the meantime, we sat around in little groups and made small talk with one another, while drinking what appeared to be a never-ending supply of beer. Finally, we decided that we should just sit down to eat, so we grabbed our trays and served ourselves. I grabbed a little of the fettuccine, daring a shrimp or two, and was just about to resign myself to a life without my one true love (ribs), when a worthy opponent stepped up upon the stage. It turns out that Lupe had prepared some baked barbecue chicken, which I must admit, despite being against chicken in general, was juicy and delicious. I polished off two drumsticks (and my fettuccine), priding myself on the fact that I hadn’t spilled a single thing on my fancy white dress shirt. And then I was told the next batch was ready, and this batch was also made with habanero in the sauce. I whispered a silent apology to my shirt, and snagged a couple drumsticks more.

My reaction when told about the second batch of drumsticks, debating whether I was too stuffed to try them.
My reaction when told about the second batch of drumsticks, debating whether I was too stuffed to try them. I totally did.

That was the most delicious chicken I have ever eaten. I just want to make that clear. Spicy in all the right ways, with a salve of sweetness. It almost got rid of the flavor of the Tecate.

When it become obvious that no one else was coming, we got ready for the party games. I had assumed that the photographer would not be required to participate, but I would soon discover just how wrong I’d been. We started out with the “Diaper Game,” which involved smelling, and tasting, various substances which resembled newborn poop while blindfolded, and then guessing what it was that had been “sampled.”

This was mustard, as I recall.
This was mustard, as I recall.

The ladies took their turns first, while the room erupted in laughter at their discomfiture. Then it was time for the men. As a group, we were more daring, actually getting around to tasting these vile substances. When I was forced into playing, I wound up with the Mustard diaper, which I guessed immediately, and then went back to snapping pictures.

The moment of truth.
The moment of truth.

With that done, I thought I would be free, but there was yet another game involving blindfolds which we were “volunteered” to play. Mr. Events and I were sat down and blindfolded, as were our significant others, and we were spoon fed something which we were told to identify based only upon its rancid flavor. Wildflower shoved the spoon- upside down- into my mouth, spilling its noxious contents upon my beard and fancy white dress shirt, the same shirt I’d managed to keep clean in the face of barbecue. I described the flavor as peas and Satan, and screamed at my wife to quit jamming the spoon into my face. It turns out that I was close: the role of Satan was played by liquefied turkey. I haven’t eaten baby food for well over three decades, and after this experience, I’m not looking forward to my senior years. I now know why babies spit back out the majority of food spooned into their trusting mouths. Not to mention that even in their most perfect state, I cannot stand peas or turkey.

Then came the moment in the evening which I had been anxiously awaiting. The balloons were re-purposed, and shoved up under blouses, and the competition of the Baby Bump began. This time, it all appeared to be done in good spirit, and the ladies, with their inflated bellies, fell upon the guest of honor in giggles and camaraderie.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we men were just about finishing up with our sixth or seventh round of beer.

We still had some time to kill before my daughter was allowed to tear into her newly-acquired loot, so Guillermo put on some… type… of music, and the dancing officially began.

After that, it was just cake and presents, and the inevitable call for cleanup. I tried to argue that I was staying out of it, but my wife can be quite… persuasive… when she puts her mind to it. We got everything cleaned and packed away, thanked our hosts for the wonderful evening, and were driven back home. Both Wildflower and I were dead on our feet, and began to fade as soon as we crossed the threshold of our residence. The kids weren’t much further behind. We had survived another party, and maybe the stress of today would ensure that we wouldn’t have to face another for quite some time to come. We’ll see about that, though. Birthdays are coming up, and my granddaughter has yet to be born. I’d like to say that we had settled on small gatherings for family, as even the grandest of events wind up being just that, but mothers like to provide only the best for their children, so we’re not out of the woods quite yet.

We Will Always Party Hard

Sometimes I just need to psyche myself up before attending a baby shower. Like I’ve been saying, they’re not really in my wheelhouse. I mean, I have helped bring life into this world, but I’ve never been a human incubator, so I guess I’ve never felt like I really needed to be thrown a party. As a matter of fact, I’m not terribly all that into parties in the first place. I think that the only party which I’ve truly wanted to attend was one that never actually happened: For my thirty-fifth birthday, I wanted to rent a limo, and go out for a night on the town to celebrate my “Very Good Year”, but it all sort of just fell apart, and I wound up doing absolutely nothing, which to be fair, had been my backup all along. When in doubt, I always say, mope about the house.

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. I moved out of my mom’s place and struck out on my own. I fell in love, and lost my virginity. I got to practice being a dad, write some tunes and my best short stories, start a business, and generally play at being an adult. It was one of the few times in my life when I can remember being so wholeheartedly happy. That, of course, would all begin to crumble within the next couple of years, but I didn’t know that then, and I honestly thought that it would last forever. Also that summer was soft, and we frequently hid from lights on the village green. And the Island was still kind of a small town…

When I was twenty-one, it wasn’t that great. I had a massive nervous breakdown, and spent a week in the hospital. I broke up with my girlfriend of the past few years. I moved from place to place, dating ladies so that I could have a couch to sleep upon. Eventually I wound up crashing in the woods behind the local Safeway. I did move to the city that year, however. My friends called me up at work, and rescued me at the end of summer. But really, the only thing that resembles the song is that, when I was twenty-one, “it came undone.”

So when my thirty-fifth birthday was approaching, I wanted to do better. I was happily married (as happily as a married man can be), so there was very little chance of hooking up with blue blooded girls of independent means, unless you could interpret it to mean that my wife had her own source of income and one slightly varicose vein. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had to work with. The only thing that was missing was the limousine. Plus, it would have been an excuse to get dressed up fancy and have a night out on the town, and I’d had to buy a suit when I’d attended my friend’s wedding just a couple of weeks before. Sadly, it was not meant to be. I guess there are still a little over seven months to make it happen, but as I’m broke, and my wife doesn’t go for that sort of tomfoolery. Maybe I’ll just put on the least crappy pair of jeans I own, and we’ll have a date night down at Weinerschnitzel. Yeah, that’ll go over well.

In just a little while, everyone else will begin waking up. I had the fortune to be woken by my son, who rose before the dawn. That’s like the third or fourth night in a row that I’ve managed to wrangle less than six hours of sleep. At least I’ll have a fog about me (mental- I’ll be hopping in the shower as soon as I feel up to it) to protect my fragile psyche from the abuses of the dreaded Party Games. If I was going to be smart about it, I’d take a shower now, while everyone else is sleeping. No pounding upon doors, no waiting for my turn. Ten minutes in the bathroom is all I really need (there are benefits to being bald), and then the only thing which I would have to concern myself regarding, would be herding the Minkey toward his fancy party clothing after using a moist towelette to scrub his face and neck. But that would mean admitting that it was time to finally start doing productive things today, and I don’t know if I am ready to face that.

What I would like to do, more than anything, is to just curl back up in bed, and take a nap until the adrenaline of being late launches me forward like a juggernaut. This plan has some obvious merit. First and foremost, it means that I get to go back to sleep again. And secondly, by the time I’ve fully woken up again, I’ll have already arrived at the party, and been taking pictures for at least an hour. By then, the alcohol will have been flowing freely, and I can drown down my self-awareness with the help of my old my old friend, Tecate. That’s something that I always love about these get togethers: no matter what the occasion, there always seems to be almost enough beer to make it all a little more bearable.

So I’ll go and snap some photos, and drink a brew or five, and then before I know it, we can all go home. If I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll praise the mattress gods. I remember that this lack of sleep was one of the reasons why I quit my job. Of course, my commute is much shorter now, and it costs me significantly less.

Okay, it’s time to start getting it together. Just a few hours left before the festivities begin. If I time it just right, I can be in the shower or getting dressed when the rolling meltdowns begin.

Here’s to babies! And here’s to the people who incubate them, sacrificing form and figure to feed their unborn child!

Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why...
Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why…

Memories of Minkey

He wanted to do this show... Solo!
He wanted to do this show… Solo!


I was going through some of my recordings as I transferred them to my external hard drive, and I came upon this one. I’d completely forgotten that I’d made it. It amazes me to hear him then, and just how little he sounded. To hear him now, you’d think he was practically grown up. We all sounded so happy then. I think I was still working in the Berkeley store, and this would have been right toward the beginning of Flor’s move to working overnight. Time has flown so quickly, and I don’t know where it’s gone. Memories are like that, I suppose…

Included are his observations about Kindergarten, and our attempt to do a decent rendition of “Mortal Kombat.”

This has given me the idea to do a weekly show with the Minkey. It might be kind of fun, and a way to keep up on the page during the weekends, although we should probably look for an endorsement deal from LEGO, as he will most likely only want to talk about whichever LEGO video game he’s currently playing.

I’ll do a test run and we’ll see how it goes. Depending on the results, we might do one Friday night or Sunday afternoon.


Me: So, David, how old are you?

David: Uh…. 5!

Me: And what do you do during the day?

David: Uhhhhh…… play with my LEGOs.

Me: Do you go anywhere?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: Where do you go?

David: Uh, to Grandma’s house.

Me: You go to Grandma’s house? But Grandma lives in Washington.

David: Uh, yeah…

Me: Do you go to school?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: What grade are you in?

David: Uhhhhh………………. (trails off)

Me: What class are you in?

David: Uhhhhh………………. (trails off) I don’t know.

Flor: Kindergarten, come on man!

Me: Are you in Kindergarten?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: What do you learn there?

David: Uh…. I learn Morning Stretches, uh… Calendar, aaaand Workshop, aaand ABC’s, and Recess, and….. E.L.D….

Me: What’s E.L.D.?

David: Uhh… It’s E and L and D.

Me: Yeah, but what does that mean?

David: E! L! D!

Me: Thanks for that-

Flor: (garbled) ABCD…

Me: Thanks- Thanks for that gripping explanation, David. Can you sing the ABC song?

David: ABCD / EFG / HIJK /  LMN / OPQ / RST / UVW / XYZ / Now I never will forget / how to sing the alphabet.

Me: Very good.

(assorted sniffings and groanings)

Me: So what’s your favorite thing about school?

David: Uh… well… (sniffs) well… well… d- well, I think that my class did, was playing with cl- playing with Play-Doh, ’cause that’s what we did today.

Me: Today? But today was Sunday…

David: (sniff, snort) Yeah. I played with it. And I made a statue of Batman.

Me: You made a statue of Batman?

David: Yeah. (squirty booger sound). Like this Batman. Yep. He’s totally dead.

Me: Mmmm….

David: Hey will you stop burning me?!!

Me: How much do you love Mommy?

David: Uhhh….

Flor: Little!

David: This much and this much and one hundredy ninety nine! (snorts, sniffs)

Me: (laughs) Are you- Are you King Mocoso?

David: Uh, yeah. (sniffs) I have a stuffy nose.

Me: Oh… what did you stuff it with?

David: Mocos.

Me: (laughs)

David: (assorted mucous noises, laughter) Oh, that’s a (makes sound again) sound in my nose (continues making noise)

Me: Can you do the Mortal Kombat thing?

David: Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat!

Me: Finish him!

Both: (laugh)

David: Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Finish him!

Me: That was close. Just, you should let me do the Finish him.

David: Okay. Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! (voice cracks)

Me: (laughing so hard I can’t follow). Fi- (laughs) Finish him!

Both: (laugh)

Me: So what’s your favorite thing to do?

David: Uh, my favorite thing is playing with Play-Doh.

Me: In general?

David: Yeah. At school.

Me: But what’s your favorite thing to do at home?

David: Well, playing with LEGOs. Playing with LEGOs and Play-Doh sounds fun. Yeah.

Me: Do you- Can you read some stories?

David: Yeah. One day, there was a little boy, out with his father. And they head for a walk.

Me: Then what happened?

David: And then… the little boy named David saw a big footprint!

Me: (gasps)

David: And it was Monster David!

Me: Oh no. What did they do?

David: Well… the monster caught Mommy. And then, there was a knight in shining armor. And then, I gave the dragon a pepperoni pizza!

Me: (laughs)

David: Yeah, ’cause the dragon think Mommy was food!

Me: (gasps)

David: And then, I gave him the pizza. And then he ate it all up and made some big crumbs. And then, David just saved Mommy and then the Knight David catched Mommy. The end!

Me: That was quite a fascinating story.

David: Thank you!

Me: (laughs) Well, is it time to go beddy-bye?

David: Uhhh… not yet. I still have more stuff. (sniffs) So… Um, Daddy?

Me: Yes?

David: Will you do the title?

Me: What?

David: Will you… ta-

Me: What?

David: Uh… would you do the thing?

Me: What thing?

David: That you tell me to do…

Me: What thing?

David: Aww, Daddy!

Me: (laughs)

David: You’re… You’re supposed… David what’d you do today?

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. You want to try it again?

David: (whispers) Yeah.

Me: Okay. David, what did you do today?

David: Well… there were some… dinosaurs at school, a clock at school, even a toy clock at school. Turn the… the hand around, the gears started spinning! And when I turn it really fast, it goes really fast! And then, I slowed it down, and then… it’s slower, and slooower, and slooower, (sniffs) and slooower, and slooower and slooower. And, the end!

Me: Oh- Say goodnight….

David: Goodbye, night!

Reflections On Grandfatherhood

I’m going to be a grandpa once again. All family politics and volkswagening popes aside, I’m pretty stoked about this. For the past two years, I’ve gotten to enjoy the benefits of grandfatherhood without having had to wait for my son to come of age. And I can see what my own grandparents were talking about when they were saying how much better it was, in comparison to parenthood. With David, I am constantly stressed out, as I know that I am responsible for making sure he turns out more or less okay. But with my precious little Cream Soda, all the pressure goes away, and I can just enjoy him for who he is, and sneak him ice pops on the side. I get to interact with him in a way that I never could with David, free of the burden which parenting provides. For my grandson, I’m the guy who spins you around, takes you outside, and listens to your ramblings. And it is because of this that I have begun to try a little harder with my son. It’s hard sometimes, because he is so smart. I find myself forgetting that he’s still a little boy. And it’s been so long since I was one, that I’ve lost my frame of reference.

Cream Soda is also the brother whom David would otherwise never have. After the Minkey was born, both Flor and I decided that we were out. She had a matching set, and a twelve pound baby tends to spook any mother. And then our grandson came into being. For the first time, we could just enjoy a baby. There were no dirty diapers for us to change, no breast pumps and mangled nipples to endure, no trying desperately to sleep around a miniature tyrant’s schedule. We got to have him when he was at his most precious. Needless to say, David was not impressed. He went from being the center of attention (not all of it pleasant), to standing on the sidelines while everyone went endlessly on about his newborn nephew. And from what he could see, there wasn’t anything terribly impressive about the little poop machine. Now the same fate is about to befall my little grandson.

David's expression upon meeting his nephew for the first time. He wasn't all that terribly impressed.
David’s expression upon meeting his nephew for the first time. He wasn’t all that terribly impressed.

Since he’s been mobile, every deference has been made to him. Any time he erupts in tears, it’s always David’s fault, even if he wasn’t anywhere near his nephew. Like a fútbol star, my grandson knows just how to work it for the refs. And while I tend toward the role of disciplinarian in regards to my monkey man, I am usually quick to come to his defense when the aroma of injustice, like a dirty diaper, comes wafting in my way. Sure, there are times when David can be an asshole, but that’s true of everyone. I call him out when he’s done wrong, but at the same time, I will defend my son if he is not at fault. There are also times when toddlers can be absolute little shits, and it’s obvious that they know exactly what they’re doing. Sometimes kids just fall, or get upset, and there’s nobody one can blame. Toddlers are constantly testing out the boundaries of their physical abilities as well as the social tolerances of their parents. But my grandson’s days in the light of guaranteed innocence have come almost to their end.

Like his uncle before him, Cream Soda will see himself knocked out of his family’s spotlight in favor of a usurper. She will be small, and cry a lot, and demand constant attention. Though his parents have not yet admitted it to themselves, A&W will no longer be an agent with free rein. The first time that he makes his baby sister cry, or throws a temper tantrum over absolutely nothing, he will see a side of his parents that, up until this point, only his uncle has ever seen. He isn’t used to being wrong, and gets away with almost everything. And it’s exactly because of this, that I’m glad he’s got his uncle to fall back on. David has been through all of this, and yet still loves his nephew more than anything or anyone (outside of when his mommy isn’t grumpy). They will keep one another company in the shadows of little Jenny’s radiance, which is good, because we will all be completely transfixed on the new addition to our family.

Actually, I think that this will be good for the three of us: myself, Cream Soda, and the Minkey. My wife and daughter will be fawning over Jenny, like only mother and grandmothers can, and Nerdenn Events will be sucked in as well, doing what he can to help my daughter rustle up a moment or two of sleep. And honestly, I’m really not all that interested in tiny, newborn babies. I mean, sure, I’ll hold them, but they are altogether too fragile to for one to truly enjoy. That, and they don’t really do anything interesting in the first couple of months, at least not that I can really help with. My nipples are for decoration only, and I don’t change diapers anymore. And someone will need to dedicate themselves to being there for our little boys. I suppose that means that I may have to change my grandson’s diaper, but at least that’s easier than dealing with a baby girl. With boys, it’s a fairly simple process: wipe affected areas and re-wrap before being peed upon. With girls there are rules, like front to back, and so many places where it could all just go so terribly, terribly wrong. Better, in my opinion, to leave that sort of thing to the professionals. And hopefully, A&W will be one of the potty-training superstars who gets it right away, and throws off the tyranny of diapers with a shout of independence. One can only hope.

So even though we’ll be packed in like Reader Digests in a hoarder’s hallway closet, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I was the Only Child of a Single Mom, and the closest things I had to siblings were my best friend who lived just up the hill, and second cousins who I really couldn’t stand. Eventually the kids will leave, and we’ll have some breathing room, but for now I get to be a live-in Grandpa, and I have to say that it feels pretty swell to me. To be honest, I prefer the company of children, as they are just insane enough to be really kind of fun, much like my friends in times long gone, under the influence of hallucinogens. Summer is coming up, and that means no more school to fret over, and increased opportunities to go playing in the park. Maybe I’ll set aside a day or two to take the boys out for some fun. I’m sure that we could use it, and will need it soon enough.

But now I realize that I’ve written all these words, having been inspired by my granddaughter-to-be, and yet barely mentioned anything about her, except as a comic foil. The fact is that I cannot wait to meet her, and breathe in that new baby smell. I want to tell her how much her Grandpa loves her, and watch her grow up before my eyes. I want to help her throw off gender stereotypes, and be all that she can be, to help teach her to demand the equality which she absolutely deserves. She’ll have other people to teach her how to do the “girly” things, and a father to intimidate her future boyfriends. I want to be the one whom she can count on to always tell it to her like it is, the one to encourage silly dreams if they make her happy. Grandfatherhood isn’t about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, it’s about helping your grandchildren find their voice amidst uncertainty and arbitrary rules. At least, that’s what I always got from the both of mine. Even though I haven’t met her, I already know how much I love her, and I look forward to the day when she first spits up on me to say hello.

Force Of Will

I will write something funny today.

will write something funny today.

will write something funny today.

Like I’ve said before, trying to be funny is a lot harder than it looks, especially when all you really want is to just curl back up and go to sleep. But I know that if I don’t try to do something to crack a grin, I’ll wind up being mopey for the rest of the week, and I’m going to need all of chuckle buffer available to me if I’m going to make it through this weekend. Note to self: Chuckle Buffer is a good name for something. Just days from now, we’re having a dual celebration in honor of my daughter’s birthday, and the impending arrival into this world of my granddaughter. Just think, I get to be a grandpa to a little princess! I’m not too worried about the birthday aspect, as the “Quarter Century” joke doesn’t ever seem to lose its luster, but the baby shower will involve lots of in-law relatives and work acquaintances of my wife. I always feel so out-of-place at these types of events, and I’m not just referring to the baby shower. Birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, Thanksgiving… Even when I go to parties with my friends, I’m usually that dude that hangs out on the patio and drinks his drink and smokes cigarettes all night, until it’s finally time to go. I used to get out of it by mixing poisons like a pro, but I don’t think my wife would be too happy if I tossed my cookies in someone else’s living room. To be fair, I don’t think she wants me tossing cookies in anybody’s living room, but at least at home we have the chance to clean it up before anyone else might see. And by “we”, I mean my wife, who seems unnaturally obsessed with not having vomit stains on furniture.

I mean, they all seem like nice enough people, but it can be a little overwhelming when everyone is speaking rapid-fire Spanish, and I have to pay attention to it all in case my name is called. I mean, it’s not like Spanish class, when I knew enough to goof around, and made it clear that I was only there for my own amusement. Here, I have to worry about all the things that everybody else does, when dealing when people not necessarily of their own choosing, but with the added strain of translating everything within my head all night. Normally, my answer to the anxiety brought on by these events is to down a steady stream of beer, but that just makes me slip into my Scottish brogue, and then my Spanish is all garbled. Okay, full disclosure: it’s not actually that bad. The beer is usually the Mexican equivalent of P.B.R., and I’m comfortable enough with my second tongue that even when I’m inebriated, I don’t do all that bad. It’s just that it’s hard enough to pull off “interested” in my native tongue. I’m bad enough with people whom I barely know, that to throw in a cultural divide and foreign language means I spend the evening in state of terror.

And baby showers are the worst (I say, having only attended the shower for my grandson). My wife and daughter know what’s going on, and have it under their control, and though I really don’t want to get involved, sometimes I think that it would beat the hell out of milling around for hours trying to look just busy enough that no one asks me to move furniture or put up decorations.

Pictured: Me not helping.
Pictured: Me not helping.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or a gender thing, or just something about myself, but I’m not really interested in a party for a fetus. Call me pragmatic or spoil sport, or what have you, but I think that it would make more sense to have the party after that child’s been born. That way, everyone knows the size of baby things which are needed and the new mother gets to show off her little bundle of adorable to anyone caught in the blast radius. In the moment that my son was born, he outgrew everything which he’d been given. I know that everyone believes that newborn clothes are unbearably precious, but not every baby is born that itty-bitty. And in this family, they tend towards the massive. I mean, my son was weighed in at just under twelve pounds, when all the goo’d been cleared, and as I recall, my grandson, though not nearly as gigantic, was still born above the average weight. I could be wrong, though. It was a long night, and I had to leave at one point to go and pick up pizza.

And now I’m trying to remember if we had a shower for the Minkey. I know that we had tons of stuff to give away when we brought him home from the hospital, but… I don’t know. That was almost eight years ago, and I can barely hold on to what’s gone on over the past five minutes. I guess I never really thought of baby showers as all that big of a deal. Maybe it’s just because I never got invited when I was man of fewer years, but these parties seem ridiculous at best, and at their worst, more closely resemble a Royal Rumble of passive aggressive sniping.

The humor of a baby bump without impending pelvic assault.
The humor of a baby bump without the impending pelvic assault.

Then there are the photographs. It’s been almost two and a half years since the last one of these which I attended, and it wasn’t until this month that I finally got around to posting the photos on my Flickr page. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I actually enjoy this job. It allows me roam about and look like I am working while not having to really talk to anybody I don’t want to. The only issue I’ve run into is when it comes time to open presents. I know that people put a lot of thought into what they purchased for the baby (or in the snarky gifts aimed directly at the expecting mom), but they make for lousy photographs. Out of maybe fifty shots, there might be one which I can use. Yet even knowing this, I still have my Nikon shooting rapid-fire, documenting everything just in case we want to see it later. Will I bring along my camera this time? Probably. I’m not the type to pass up the chance to avoid having to talk to people.


The Disenchanted Kingdom

I’ve been working on a couple of other posts, and they don’t seem to be getting anywhere today. One of them seems too frivolous, and the other far too serious. I’m sort of going through a period of apathy. It’s probably a swing to the depressive, if I’m being honest, as my temper has grown shorter, and the laughter has grown quiet. The majority of my conversations are held up my grunts and shrugs, and, while rather noncommittal, have been viewed of late as aggressive and rude. When I express my apathy, I’m not trying to start a fight. Rather, I’m merely trying to inform anyone who might come near me that I’ve run completely out of fucks to give. This is the hardest part of me for my wife to understand. On the outside I seem no different from before, aside from a deeper frown and lack of self-care. But there are no open wounds for her bandage, nor broken bones for her to set; my pain resides within me, and there’s no easy fix. I’m tempted to say that she has given up, and written me off while looking forward to the day when she might rid herself of me and my entourage of nonsense. The fact is that she gets frustrated at her inability to help, or even predict my swirling moods from one moment to the next. I know that I am stubborn, and an impossible man to be around when I get this way, and it is only because of her overly generous nature that we have endured so many years with one another.

These are the days when I want to run away, when the responsibilities seem overwhelming, and I feel that I am drowning beneath the onslaught of my failures. It is during these periods that I think that maybe I’m not cut out to be the man who I once hoped I’d be. That maybe everyone would wind up better off if I just put them out of my misery. If I were to simply fade into the night, leaving an apology for all my sins upon the nightstand where my Wildflower would see it in the morning, I feel that I might spare the ones I love from the monster which lurks inside me. I’m not patient, and my kindness comes and goes. I love my family, but sometimes feel burdened by affection. I always seem to go after the happy things which once sustained me, and if I stay, that only puts them at risk. To clarify: I’m not talking about violence of a physical nature, but the way my psyche twists itself to poison and sharpen the words that I fling out in all directions. It takes so much effort to keep up this facade of sanity, that I fear the day is coming when the wires inside me snap, and I fly apart like a supernova. There is nothing which I want more than to find a way to disappear, find a way to end it all, and rest, at last, in peace. Reign forever in my Disenchanted Kingdom.

2866779705_0357d27d1c_bSo I stay. I stay because I know that if I left I would be dead. I know myself too well to think I’d leave open any avenues by which I might survive. I know that if I can just hold on a little longer, this darkness which has wrapped itself about me will begin to weaken and then fall away. Any time I talk to someone about how I’m feeling, they always tell me that I have to stick around to see my son grow up. Of course, in the moment, this only irritates me more: Just another heap of pressure piled up upon me. But it’s true. The reasons why I’ve stuck around are counted on a couple of fingers. I do want to see my son grow up, and my grandson as well. And now I’m due to meet a granddaughter. I think about the years ahead, stretching out in front of me, pushing me further back with every birth. I want to see them, and to know them, and I want to be remembered, but some days I think it might be better to pass off into legend. I could be the family’s epic cautionary tale. Make sure to see a doctor, so you don’t wind up like Grampa Batmart.

I’m torn.

I grew up without a dad, and I know just how that feels (though I never knew the pain of losing one I knew). But I am so afraid of crushing David beneath my bitterness, that there are times I think the only answer is to rid him of me entirely. It will hurt now, but someday he will understand. He will understand, won’t he? That I sacrificed myself to save him from the pain? Or would he lay the blame upon himself, and spend his life trying to figure out what he did wrong? It’s so confusing right now inside my head. It seems that every part of me is whispering that the safest course of action is one that cannot be undone. But I’ve also learned that these desires are the same I’ve always known. The same parts of me that will not rest until I have permanently done so. I get angry sometimes that I’ve got people around me who love me. They make it so that I cannot simply fade away. They bind me to them with their open hearts and scorching love, and make me feel as if I’m spinning, spinning, spinning.

This is the real battle. Even now, I know how to free myself from all the pain. Words to utter, and in which tone, to drive them all away. Make them leave me so that I can finally get it done. I’m not sure if my hesitation is an act of bravery or cowardice. In these times it’s hard to tell if I’m doing more harm by staying. I’m so used to knowing everything, that it’s almost impossible to push that all aside, and rely on the clearer thinking of my wife. I’ve had so many bad experiences that it’s been hard to trust her, been hurt so many times that it’s difficult to make myself believe that she’s not just out to do the same. But we’ve got nine years together, so something must be working. I chose her in a moment of clarity (though why she chose me is beyond me), someone unlike the women I’d been chasing after. Someone who might want something besides my blood. Even if I can’t trust anyone right now, I guess I’ll have to believe that I once knew what I was doing.

The shadow seems to have passed, at least momentarily. I guess I made the right decision. This is something that I must confront anew every time it falls upon me, and it seems to learn from past defeats, as nothing I’ve done in the past seems to have any effect.

Thank you for bearing with me on this journey through the darkness. I swear that I’ll write something a little funnier next time. Or at least die trying.

A Three Hour Tour

I woke up Friday morning in time to take my son and his friend to school, and got back in a hurry to wait for my nephew to arrive. We’d made a quick trip the night before to the nearest MetroPCS store to pick up a SIM card so he could have a working phone while he was here, but we’d arrived twelve minutes too late. The plan for the day was to head out there when it was open, get him set up, and then head off to San Francisco to see all the sights. It turns out he’s gotten here before we’d left, but saw the door the closed (and detected no signs of life), so he went ahead and took care of the phone issue himself. When he got back to the apartment, it was almost nine, and I was just finishing up the post for the day, as I didn’t know when I’d get another chance to write, and didn’t want to take off that many days. He waited patiently in the living room for the next twenty minutes, watching whatever channel the kids had left it on before we went to school, while I tried to finish up. And then my Comcast service went out. I’d written a bunch since the last time that I’d saved, so I couldn’t even post my blog from the app on my phone. I told him what the situation was, and he’d said that he’d sort of figured something was up when the television screen went dark. I caught a break when service was restored just a couple of minutes later, allowing me to publish what I’d written and turn the laptop off. I’m glad that I’d been mostly done, as within a couple of minutes of having posted it, everything went out once more. I viewed this as a sign that it was time to go, and packed up my backpack with my camera and tour supplies, and we headed out the door, beginning a journey that would take around six miles (9.66 km) to complete.

We braved the AC Transit once again, surviving a half-full bus ride until we got back to El Cerrito del Norte BART. We checked our tickets, and then entered the station and took the escalator up to wait for the next San Francisco train. Fortunately, it was only a few minutes. We filed into the front car, and found our seats, relieved to be off our feet for this part of the journey. Less than an hour later, we made it to the Powell St. station, my old home away from home. We were both a little hungry, so we dropped in on my old coworkers at Blondie’s Pizza to grab something quick to eat. I would have liked to spend more time catching up with everyone, but they were understaffed, and the lunch crowd was beginning to trickle in. I said my goodbyes, and my nephew and I began in earnest our tour of the city. We walked up to Union Square, where I pointed out the painted hearts and all the photographs and paintings on display. Then we hung out in the shade beneath a palm tree to smoke a cigarette and figure out the game plan for the rest of our tourist-type day.

Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.
Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.

At that point, he realized that his phone was acting up, so we decided to kill a couple of birds, and walked to the Westfield San Francisco Centre. On the way, I got a shot of him with a cable car, just before we scrapped entirely the idea of getting out to Pier 39 that way (the line was far longer than my patience).

Not pictured: The line from Hell.
Not pictured: The line from Hell.

Once inside the mall, we meandered up and down the half-dozen or so stories, glancing in at stores and appreciating the architecture. Well, was doing that. Unai was on the phone with MetroPCS, asking why his telephone suddenly had exactly none of the unlimited data which he had bought that morning. Up and down we walked, soaking in the ambiance and fending off customer service. We got to the street level when the service rep finally figured out what was going on. Just a quick reset, and power off for a little bit, and everything should be back to working order. In the meantime, we hit a couple of stores which he wanted to check out, but came away empty-handed when we discovered that the things which he had wanted weren’t all that popular in San Francisco. Shopping done, we started walking down Market toward Embarcadero. My nephew wanted me to show him all the sights, and I knew just where to go for an introductory experience: Fisherman’s Wharf. We had to make a couple of stops, but we finally arrived at the Embarcadero.

Anyone have the time?
Anyone have the time?

It was getting warmer out, and I didn’t want to spook him with how long a walk still lay in front of us, so I just told him to focus on the numbering of the piers, and that when we hit number 39, we’d be where we were going. Of course, what tourist excursion is complete without some photographs? It also helped us to take a pause and find some shade, so stone some birds we did.

I told him this wasn't the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.
I told him this wasn’t the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.

We walked a little more, when I caught sight of something which I’d wanted to point out to him. As we walked around the side of an all-too-familiar building, I pointed out where his aunt and I had spent our third anniversary:

It's that boat in the back.
It’s that boat in the back.

We were getting closer, and started to look for somewhere to duck in from the afternoon heat, and get something to drink, and maybe sit awhile. Although we passed a handful of serviceable cantinas, we decided to keep going until we hit Pier 39. It took longer than I’d remembered, but the numbers kept on climbing, and soon our destination was in sight. We navigated through the throng of people with nothing better to do than spend a Friday afternoon inside a tourist trap, and made our way back to a place I remembered having gone to with Flor and all the kids: Players. We sat down at the bar, thrilled to finally be off our feet, and ordered the most delicious beer which we could think of. A few minutes later, two of these arrived:

Delicious AND Nutritious!

We also ordered basket of garlic fries and some hot wings, and just spent an hour talking about nothing, and enjoying our time together. After we had eaten and settled the tab, we stepped back out into the afternoon to find that there was now a breeze. Our legs were tired, but the walk back wasn’t nearly as bad the one we’d had coming out. I briefly considered taking us back up to Union Square, but one look at the time told me that would be an ill-advised adventure. It was coming up on Commuter Hour, and if we weren’t careful, we’d wind up as sardines in the Rush Hour crowd back home. We entered the Embarcadero BART station, and made our way to the back part of the platform. Looking at my cell phone, I decided that now was as good a time as any to show Unai another survival tip.

We boarded the Dublin train, which was packed to the point of moderate discomfort, and then exited at Lake Merritt to catch a Richmond train in which we might actually find a seat. With that, my training of my nephew was complete, and he told me that he now felt confident to make his way on his own the next time he came to visit. Having finally cooled off from the morning tour, of course car we entered was the one without air conditioning. We broke another sweat, but at least we sat in comfort, our legs no longer required for anything more taxing than a rest upon the edge of the seat. We talked again about how he was liking his visit here, and what he thought of San Francisco. All time leading up to his visit, I had worried that I would be stuck with someone who just didn’t get me, but in my newly met nephew I had not only found a decent man, but someone who I could call a friend. The train pulled into the del Norte station, and we gave thanks to the breeze which flowed over us upon our exit from the sauna car.

This time, when the bus pulled up, Unai knew just what to do, and despite being close to Pope/Volkswagen hour for the buses, we managed to score a couple of seats on this ride as well. We got off at the bus stop, and walked the half mile home, where my wife was waiting for us with dinner and an Advil. All in all, we walked around six miles that day, and though I felt some pain that evening, it was nothing compared to the agony of the following morning.

I’ve decided that I will miss my nephew when he goes, and I cannot wait until the next time, when I get to meet his son.