Tag Archives: family


We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve been trying to give up smoking this weekend. Quitter! Beginning on Friday, I made a whole pack last until last night, which, for those of you keeping score at home, means that I tripled the length of that pack’s life. And thanks to my electronic cigarette, I haven’t really been going through withdrawal. And considering that “smoking” one of those is one of the more unsatisfying experiences I have had to endure. It’s similar to chewing nicotine gum, with the tingly, pepper sensation, but with the added benefit of never knowing how much vapor and nicotine I will be inhaling on any given draw. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that it’s helping with the chemical addiction, but is nothing I look forward to. It is my hope that by going through this, I may finally be able to give my lungs a small chance to recuperate. I will say that I am going to miss stepping outside on a perfect day, and enjoying a quick visit to Flavor Country. I will probably miss it less on the days when the sun is in full force, or the wind and rain are running horizontally like packs of wolves with bared and bloody teeth.

I’ve been smoking for close to nineteen years, and it’s finally gotten to the point that I’m tired of the annual visits from bronchitis fairy. Honestly, if it weren’t for the month or so every year that I spend feeling horrible and unable to breathe properly, I’d probably keep smoking. I like to use cigarettes to punctuate the moments of my life. It’s hard to do that with a metal tube. That, and I’m really never certain when it is that I am finished “smoking.” With a cigarette, you’re done when the cherry hits the filter; it has a built-in expiration. With an electronic nicotine delivery device, you just keep going until you feel like it’s time to puke. Also, the flavor isn’t terribly compelling. My son-in-law bought one of those fancy, expensive robot penises that he refills with various bottles of flavored nicotine solution. He was debating picking up a bottle flavored like Banana Runts, and I told him that he was the reason that we couldn’t have nice things. I don’t know, maybe I’m turning into Denis Leary.

I think that cigarettes should be “cigarette” flavored. Now we have nicotine liquids for every taste imaginable, and it just makes me think, Why? If you’re already smoking, and looking for an alternative to combusted tobacco, then be a damned grown-up, and deal with the flavor. It’s bad enough that some folks need their smokes to taste minty fresh. I mean, sure, I miss cocktail cigarettes (Izmir Stingers were delicious!), but I could understand the reasoning behind the ban on child-friendly flavorings. It’s not like nicotine itself is all that great for you, and I myself don’t see the need to entice new customers into a lifelong and health-damaging addiction. The science is only just beginning to trickle in for e-cigarettes, but I think we can all agree that they are a safer alternative to smoking, not a safe alternative. What a world of difference that little “r” will make.

When I was growing up, almost all the adults around me were usually smoking. I remember back when restaurants had smoking sections that were separated from the non-smoking section by a curtain of air conditioning (if it was a fancy place). Once I got to school, I recall harassing my mother and grandparents about the myriad dangers of tobacco use, and I also remember when my mother decided to give up smoking, and how much I hated her for years after. My grandmother quit a few years later, prompted by a heart attack and helicopter view of the Puget Sound. In the years that followed, everyone else began to quit, leaving me the only one who’d step outside into the rain to light up and “get some air.” While typing this, I have been dutifully puffing away on my e-cigarette, topping off the nicotine pulsing through my bloodstream, and yet the only thing that I can think of is how badly I want a real cigarette. It seems that March is the month to give up vices. I can’t imagine how I will endure it, but I imagine that I will not have any other choice.

There are no compelling reasons to take up smoking in the 21st century. Tobacco is on its way out, and no one looks cool fellating an android. I’m not one of those obnoxious idiots who think that we should expunge all instances of smoking from the entertainment from the past, nor do I believe that we should ban all future examples of smoking from the entertainment of the future. I think that may have been why I took up smoking in the first place. Even though I knew that it was horrible for me, I took a certain pleasure in defying the calls for outlawing this common weed. The more we try to demonize tobacco, the cooler we will make it seem to the children of tomorrow. It’s hard to rebel against the cold logic of scientific fact (despite what House Republicans so fervently believe), but a teenage mind can find the merest hint of traction and grab hold for all that it is worth if adults stray from factual representations and head down the path toward specious moralization. And contrary to my shouts regarding liberty for my lawn, teenagers are merely hampered by lack of experience, not stupidity. Remind me to hide this from David William in about six to ten years.

It’s not that I am suddenly overwhelmed by a desire to see what the year 2030 will look like, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me to see my son become a man, or my grandson and granddaughter grow up as well. I got the chance to be a grandpa in my early to mid-thirties, and that gives me a realistic opportunity to watch all the little babies become people in their own right. Maybe I’m just becoming overly sentimental in my deepening age, but I think I’d like to spend a just a tad longer enjoying their company. I hate finding reasons to keep on living. It just feels so… normal. Is this what regular people do? And all of this because last night, when I should really have been sleeping, I went out into the living room and spent some time with my toddler grandson. He had me pick him up, while he played with a butterfly shaped squeeze toy, and then, for some reason, we both broke down into a case of uncontrollable giggles, laughing without reason or self-awareness of a good seven minutes. It was a moment which reminded me of all the fun I used to have with David, and all the fun I’ll soon be having with little Jennivee. Maybe sticking around for a little while longer isn’t the worst thing, after all.


After Dark: A Blast From The Past, Part Four

When I last left you, I had just become a father. Let’s look in and see how that was working out for me:

Updates from the Fatherland

August 23rd, 2007

3:23 a.m.

So, he’s 8 weeks old today, but will be two months old on monday.

Stop and think about that: WTF? I think we need a new system of time measurement. Says the guy who thinks the metric system will destroy the universe.

Sorry I haven’t written anything for, like, 2 months, but, well, I’ve been kinda busy. Turns out that babies don’t much care if you’re working 10+ hour days, and would like to try to sleep a little before doing it again. But his mother has been more than fantastic, and honestly, I haven’t had to wake up more than a few times. Also, I’ve only changed half a diaper. I got it started, and was replaced by a professional before I could screw it all up.

For awhile, I was pretty sure he hated me. He always seemed to cry whenever I got near him. I came to realize this was less because he hated me, and more because I have inactive mammary glands. But now as he gets older, I am able to amuse him. He still cries on whim, but I’m trying to help him learn to communicate. To date he has actually spoken these words: “Okay”, “Hi”, “Chin”, and “Fuck You”. I may have to begin editing what I say while at home. Some people have said that he’s too young to actually be able to speak, but I would like to point out that he was in the womb for an extended stay, and nothing speeds up development like unlimited resources. I just wrote a sentence explaining that he was incapable of real usage, and he was only repeating recent sounds, which in and of itself is still fairly remarkable, but then I realized that he is making those  “noises” in context. Whether or not he understands what they mean is beyond the scope of my experience. But the fact that he has identified these sounds, and is trying to make them as seems appropriate, is something I do find fascinating.

He also makes an assortment of guttural sounds, indicative of some kind of attempt at speech. Unfortunately, his mouth is still to unsuitable to most forms of speech. At this stage, his cute giganto-cheeks are huge muscles used, in conjunction with his tongue and gum stubs to extract sustenance. My point being that his tongue gets in the way.

He also drools a lot. Both his mother and my mother say it’s indicative of pre-teething. God, he’s not even a season old, and he’s trying to grow teeth. I haven’t taken a tape measure to him yet, but he’s gotta be over 2 feet now. And we weighed him a week ago, and he was already at 21 lbs.

To be fair, I am still fascinated by the things he does, but they are usually not “Stop the presses! I have to tell the world!” interesting anymore. It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of babies, but by the time they’re doing all the things you couldn’t wait for them to be able to start doing, you’re more concerned with getting them to actually do them on a semi-regular basis. Not really the accolades that they were expecting, just a higher standard to live up to.

Nothing prepares you

August 26th, 2007

2:44 a.m.

So, I was fairly nervous about being a dad before David was actually born. There had been two women before in my life with whom I’d wanted to have children: The first was already a mother, and didn’t want to have another baby, and the other was a psychotic Panamanian whose great aspiration was to become a stripper. She actually was pregnant, but terminated the pregnancy right after she’d convinced me that being a father wouldn’t be so terrible. Of course, I’ve always said that if I had a son, his name would be David, whereas she’d always dreamt of calling him Amir. Somewhere on a Playstation 2 memory card, I have a create-a-character in MVP 2004 called Amir Baxter. Of course, I no longer have either a Playstation 2 or MVP 2004, so I haven’t had much of a chance to resist that.

I haven’t really mentioned it, but the loss of my son kinda messed me up. I’d had another close call, where an ex had told me she thought she might be pregnant, and flippantly, I quoted “The Doors” and gave my support for her single motherhood or choice to abort. I sort of go back and forth on it. Or, at least, I did. It’s a little late now.

I mean, I suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder, and there is a chance that it can be passed on. I’m not sure I know how to be a dad. I never knew mine, and, I’m sort a creature of self-interest. So when she told me she was pregnant, I naturally freaked the hell out. I wasn’t even sure I really liked this chick. I mean, she was totally into me, but in a scary way, and, really, aside from the convenience, I wasn’t terribly motivated to stay with her. A short while later, her “visitor” arrived, and I began to seriously think about cashing in while I was still ahead. But her love of me was too overwhelming, and I began to fall a little for her.

And then the night came when I did. Drunkenly, and without caution, I pollinated the Flower, and promptly passed the hell out. A short while afterwards, she informed me that this time it was not a drill. I don’t believe that I have ever uttered the words, “Are you sure?” so many times in so short a time.

Suddenly seeing my life coming to an ignoble close, I proffered the thought that perhaps we might just take care of this small medical issue, remove the parasite, and call it a do-over. For a month I tried everything to persuade her to come around to my way of thinking. I’d stressed the dangers of my bi-polar and perhaps exaggerated the probability of its hereditary transference. I beat out her Latina Catholic arguments.I won every argument on a rational level. Have you seen the pictures of my son?

I learned a valuable lesson that month: Nothing can withstand the beating of the biological clock. It was like a Poe story, only more frightening. I was seriously thinking about cutting and running, hoping that, if her arguments for love were true, she would solve my problem if I just left. But then I realized it would leave me with a child in Mexico that I would never get to know (For anyone thinking, “Wait! If you wanted to find him enough, you’d have been able.”: You don’t actually know me very well, do you? Or my Superhuman powers of apathy.). And I thought of the father that I have never known. I took a deep breath, cursed God for his amazingly similar sense of humor, and plunged wholeheartedly into the world of denial.

I managed to avoid most of her prenatal checkups, one of the few benefits of slowly working yourself to death. I also tried to keep her family at bay. I already hate meeting new people in general, and more than them, I hate new people to whom I must be nice and about whom I must pretend I give a shit.

Shortly after the beginning of the new year, we discovered that, according to something on the ultrasounds, he was at risk for Down Syndrome. Here was my way out! I argued that knowingly bringing into this world a child with such a disadvantage is not only irresponsible, but morally reprehensible, a sadistic act. I was told that he would be loved no matter what, and I agreed, but asked if it was fair to knowingly subject someone, especially someone we supposedly were to love to the taunts and mockery and general humiliation he would undoubtedly receive. There was a surefire way to know: an amniocentesis. But this was a somewhat risky procedure, and as we would not be hitting the reset button on her womb, moderately irrelevant.

I would like to point out that when pregnant, apparently most woman can become insatiably horny, and if you are unconcerned about disease, this provides an opportunity to dispense with the raincoat. Of course, from the moment she began showing, even slightly, I became unable to think of her as a sexual creature, and even though she has a daughter in Mexico, she was now somebody’s mother.

I slowly came around to the notion of parenthood and began trying to interact with David. By the time I could feel him moving, he was kicking fairly strongly, and seemingly enjoyed heavy metal by headphones. I spoke to him from time to time. He began kicking and punching me in the face, and although every one of the “experts” said he was just trying to interact with the point of contact he kind of remembered, I knew what the deal was.

So finally, after months of trying, she quit working. It amazed me how much faster my money was disappearing. I’d kind of been hoping that she’d given birth at work so that we could have gotten more money up until the end. Also it would have been an almost 100% chance that I could attend the birth.

42 weeks. He took after his daddy in that fashion. It got to the point where, on Tuesday the 26th, we’d set up an appointment to induce labor on the 28th, pretty much ensuring that he’d be born on June 29th. It seemed that God was trying to be funny again. But, despite my best efforts to do him in, it turns out that my son loved me. Wednesday morning, about 10:30am, her contractions began. It was a couple of hours later when they were serious enough to merit the mad dash to the hospital. Her water broke at 2:00pm, during the 1st examination to determine how far dilated she was. Mixed in with the amniotic fluid was his meconium (think baby’s 1st poo). Apparently when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, even if you haven’t started breathing yet.

And then it happened. At 8:03pm, Wednesday, June 27th, 2007, I witnessed the scariest thing I have ever seen: My son’s squished head being forced out of an area that, at least the last time I had seen it, was really far to small to accommodate it. I realize I will take some flak for this, but I found the entire process profoundly unsettling, extremely disturbing, and not in the least bit natural. It was finished at 8:10.

Everyone kept saying how big he was, but, well, he was still significantly smaller than me, so I was not impressed. 11 lbs, 14 oz., 22 inches long. They had him under the heat lamps, and were having difficulty getting him to breathe on his own, as he had most likely over-developed himself while procrastinating in utero, and begun trying to breathe. I watched his head slowly begin to reflate as I accompanied the nurse up to the NICU.

He seemed so weak, So helpless. I tried my best to stay out of the way and ask intelligent questions, but then they needed to do something which they thought might freak me out (intubate him, I believe), and suggested I go back down and take care of Mom. And so began the night of the gigantic pace.

It was a couple of days before I got the chance to hold him. I was debilitatingly nervous. I felt that if I was going to drop him or something, I’d rather that it not be in a hospital where they could see how terrible of a father I’d turned out to be.

A few days later, we got to take him home.

He cries a lot now, and generally, pretty much his current M.O. was described in the previous blog.

But I have made a real connection with my son. I’ve been able to sing him to sleep. I mean, most of the time, he prefers Mom over Dad, but I’m okay with that. When we’re playing the “chin” game, or I’m reading him chapters from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and he’s hanging off my every word…

I have begun to live my life again, finally breaking free of the continuous holding pattern I’ve been in for a decade. I still think God’s got a juvenile sense of humor, but as it’s mine as well, I cannot fault Him for it, merely feel disappointed that the Creator thinks this is all funny.

For true and for real, though, I have never felt more alive, as when I am gazing into his eyes, and he into mine, and it’s like we’ve known each other all his life, and neither of us can remember a life that was before him.

Wow. Sorry that went on for so long, but it was nice, at least for me, to take that stroll down amnesia lane. I’ve just got one more reflection on fatherhood that I’d like to leave you with this evening:

B.P.D.- Bi-Polar Disorder or Battle Point Drive?

September 4th, 2007

2:57 a.m.

This is not a new revelation. It is, however, I believe, worth mentioning.

When I was 15, I’d planned on coming to California the summer after my freshman year. Life came up, and I put off my plans. Events coalesced, I met people, did favors, and set myself up for the summer of ’97. I met someone, fell in love, dropped out of school, and started working for myself. I had a, for lack of a better term, wife, and children (though not my own, I was actually received, as I’d still had fears of passing on my madness). It was the happiest time of my life. And then the Drug came in. Call it my penance, my learning curve, my pre-paid purgatory or damnation, it really doesn’t matter. It all amounted to the same. My life took a marked detour, and I began learning… something else.

There came a time, amidst the hell, when, faced with utter failure, I decided it was now the time to go to California. I’d written a poem just a short while before when I’d thought that both my “brothers” were leaving to different parts of the world beyond. One to Central Washington, and the other to California. One went, one did not. I got to Central, with all that I could carry, and planned to hitchhike down to Cali. But I was struck down with a fevered illness, and forced to return, to face the ruins of what I’d tried to leave behind. And events played out. And the fairy-tale gone horribly awry ended.

I took a few preparatory steps toward my new life, but was still held back by chains of pain I’d tried to leave behind. New loves came and went, people that I loved passed away. And then I got a phone call from the other brother. He was finally moving down to California, and thought I should come along. Whether he was uncertain of this new life, and wanted some token of “home”, or guided by my fates is unimportant. I finally came to Cali.

I met a girl, under certain circumstances, some familiar (at work), some new (residential status), and tried to get my life back to the family ideal. I’d like to think that we were in love, but it’s easier to think she was just using me for something I was born with. She got pregnant. I lost my son. Events played out that I had seen during the darker days. My world collapsed and I reverted.

I began again, following the friend asylum pattern, established after the nightmare. Got a job at the same company (more or less) as before, and fell in love again, and again, and once more, and then a few more times for good measure. Nothing worked out how I’d planned it, and it felt like High School once again. It’s like my life was rewinding, queuing up events to the moment where they’d once diverged.

I met someone who was madly in love with me. We didn’t even speak the same language (I had been prepared for this by a month-long practice course at the beginning of my job). It was like my life was mixing and matching people and events to hurriedly reposition me. Within 9 months of starting my new job, I was back to the position I had held at the last. Hmm… okay that part is a new revelation.

Then, 2 months shy of 9 years from the DAY, I began dating her. We dated for a while, and then, due to a rather bizarre set of events leaving me without a home, we began cohabitating. All the while I was fighting it. And then she became pregnant. I was still devastated at the loss of my son the year before, and did all I could to hold back destiny. But one should never underestimate the curmudgeonocity of God. The child was born two days shy of 10 years from the DAY.

I am now where I left off 9 long years ago. I have completed the journey I’d known that I must undertake since I was 15 years old. I have a wife, a son. And my life is hiccoughing out the last of the repetitions. I suppose it will be down to: A) Dealing with my BPD to avoid destroying everything positive I have built, and/or B) Beginning to write the story that I was, apparently put through Hell to as preparation for. Like the Divine Comedy only not nearly as rad.

And you want to know something? None of this really matters any more. When he grabs my finger and squeezes, smiles at me with all his face, and speaks to me in his unique mixture of language and monkey-grunts, I am lost within the moment, living in the present, and realize that, as far my day-to-day OCD goes, there’s never been anything else so perfect.

Thanks for sharing in these memories with me. I know these were a little philosophical, so if you’d like something to cleanse your palate, and inspire a chuckle or two, why don’t you check out these bonus Blasts From The Past: I hate Comcast!, If you are not where I say you are, and Superman: Doomsday: WTF?!!.

Have a wonderful evening!

After Dark: A Blast From The Past Presents: “If you’re not where I say you are…”

My mother and aunt came to visit shortly after my son was born in 2007. I knew that I would be unable to get out of work to meet them, so I had to send instructions on how to get to me. Of course, now that we’re in 2015, this is a little outdated, as the AirBART has been replaced, and the prices have increased. All commentary remains valid, however.

If you are not where I say you are, then you have FUBAR’d the situation and are on your own.

July 2nd, 2007

1:42 a.m.

There are AirBART stops outside of both Terminal One and Two. It costs $3.00/person. Exact Change! (What did he mean, ‘Exact Change?’)
Take it to the One Place It Goes (unless you get on at Terminal One, at which point, take it to the Other Place It Goes- The Oakland Coliseum/ Oakland Airport Station).

When you get there, disembark the AirBART (which is, in case you do not remember, actually a bus), and thank the driver. They love this. Especially if you decide to personalize your gratitude in epic poetry. With everyone else behind you waiting to get off. Seriously.

Enter the Bart Station and approach a vending machine. Place $4.20 in the machine and select the option on the right side of the screen indicating that you wish to purchase multiple tickets. Which you do. You want two (2) $2.10 tickets. I would say that you could simply purchase them separately, but you don’t want to anger people by appearing that you don’t know what you are doing, and taking forever while not doing it. Remember: This is Oakland. And you both are VERY WHITE.

Once you each have your properly priced fare ($2.10) ticket, approach the entrance gates. They look like turnstiles without anything that turns (and, to be honest, not so much with the style). Place your ticket in the slot at the front of the gate (before doing this, please make sure that there is a green arrow signifying that it is being used for entrance and not exit. Again, the WHITE/OUT OF TOWNER THING. The mechanism in the gate will appear to eat your ticket. Do not be alarmed. It will appear momentarily at on the top of the gate. Take it from its new resting place, move through the gate, and off to the side, out of the flow of foot traffic, and put it somewhere safe where you will remember it (A word of caution- you may want to keep it away from anything magnetized, and that black strip along the side may be affected).

Now you may choose to take an escalator or stairs. It really doesn’t matter which you choose. Neither is correct. But if you take the escalator, please keep your luggage in front of you, and ensure that it does not exceed the width of your body. Be aware of which side of the escalator is the passing lane. Please do not aggravate the hoodlums (You may want to lean mostly over the railing to allow those in an extreme hurry to pass you without the indignity of social nicety).

Now you are on the elevated platform. Hooray! There are screens on both sides of the platform that announce which trains are arriving, and when, along with mindless drivel that no one actually pays attention to, except to comment, “I don’t care! When’s my (expletive deleted) train (expletive deleted) coming. (expletive deleted)!” You are looking for the Richmond Line. No, you are not actually going to Richmond, despite what the woman might try to tell you later this week. Richmond is evil. We do not go to Richmond. But there is time for horror stories later. Right now we need to get you to Berkeley.

Okay. Have you identified which side of the platform your train will be loading from? No? Keep looking. Let me know when you find it…

Did you enjoy that? Then come back this evening for A Blast From The Past, Part Four.


Modern Antiquities: My Impending Anniversary

I knew that I should have taken a nap first. I always get a little cranky unless I’ve had a decent night’s sleep. Well, cranky or incoherent, anyway. I was told that today was going to be my day to sleep in, which I was looking forward to because I haven’t been able to get much sleep due to this persistent hacking cough. Unfortunately, my wife mixed up her days off, and I was awoken ungodly early as she was rushing out the door to work. Sure, I promptly returned to sleep, but my alarm woke up sometime thereafter, and now here I am, pretending that I can still function like a human being. It’s comforting to know that I can still get my son up and dressed, fed and medicated, and out the door and off to school while functioning on autopilot. Sometimes I think that I am more efficient when I’m running on empty than when I’ve got a full head of steam. It probably has to do with trying to most effectively manage my dwindling resources, like trying to get the Apollo 13 command module up and running again on only 20 amps (and I can’t draw power from the LEM before cutting it loose). And yes, I did just watch the applicable bits from the movie again to get the numbers right. And yes, I know what I’m going to be doing as soon as I finish writing this.

I think that I almost miss working. And by that, I mean that I am beginning to feel nostalgic for those heady days of long commutes and the mindless tedium which filled my waking hours. Not that crafting moderately amusing rants isn’t work, of a sort, but it isn’t really paying the bills, and I am a master of finding literally anything else to do instead of being productive. I’m ready to start penning something in addition to what I’m doing here, but now that I’ve mastered the art of blogging (I have not), I feel too satisfied with myself, and as soon as I hit “Publish”, it’s like clocking out for the day. What I need to train myself to do now is take a little break, and then come right back and start working on something that people will actually pay me for the privilege of reading. I just wish I wasn’t so easily distracted by all the shiny things. And I wish that my office wasn’t equipped with a high-definition television and Blu-ray player. I suppose that I could move my laptop somewhere else, but then I wouldn’t get such wonderful Wi-Fi reception, and that’s kind of a deal breaker. Because I use the internet for research. And not for finding things to distract me when I should be doing literally anything else. Literally.


I have a little over a week to plan for my anniversary, and I really don’t know what we’re going to do. I missed the chance for us to repeat our best anniversary experience, as the VIP tickets to the Whiskies Of The World Expo in San Francisco were already sold out when my wife decided that she’d like to go this year. I knew I should have just bought them last autumn when they went on sale. But, at least there is a silver lining: My friend, Nerissa Lopez, is doing one of those pop-up restaurant deals this Sunday, and I’ve been invited (with my plus one) to come and enjoy the evening and review the experience on this very blog. It’s a zero-waste, gluten-free, vegan-style menu, apparently, which, if you haven’t been paying attention these past few months, is not really my thing. However, I can say that Nerissa was a wonderfully talented employee with mad skills in the kitchen, and it probably wouldn’t kill me to eat something healthy. Plus there will be booze, so there’s that. Depending on how both my wife and I are feeling Sunday, we’ll most likely be attending. And it will be an awesome anniversary dinner because it’s in The City, at a trendy (pop-ups are still trendy, right? I mean, I heard the kids on the T.V. talking about them, so they must be…) restaurant, away from the kids and we haven’t been out on a date together in practically forever. I even have a suit! Now if this cough would just go away, I’d be all sunshine and puppies.

I can’t believe that we’ve made it this long without a major stabbing. She and I are both incredibly passionate people, utterly convinced of their own infallibility, and completely unwilling to back down from. Compromise is something that we both believe is reserved for other people. Sure, we have different areas of expertise, spheres of influence, if you will, but we are also both convinced of the primacy of our respective bailiwicks, so it’s never really a fight over how a thing might best be done, but rather which thing would be best done now. It’s Irish temper versus Mexican rage, and more often than not we appear to be small children flailing about because we can’t have our way. But like grown-ups. We’ve been together as a couple for nearly a decade, now, and we’ve gotten really good at fighting. That’s another reason why I want us to go out this Sunday and have an amazing evening: I’d like for us to spend a night just focused on one another, having cast aside trivialities and worry, children and mounting bills, and just have fun together. Something to remind us that we’re more than just a couple of people who happen to live together.

My romantic muscles (not a euphemism) have atrophied a bit over the years, gone to the same place where I imagine that my hair has found its final resting place. I don’t think that it would hurt me all that much to spend a little time and energy on the courtship of my wife. I know that I’ve already won her heart, but it never hurts to give her reasons not to change her mind.


This evening, I’ll be posting the Fourth Chapter of Blast From The Past, my ongoing series exploring my past through snark. You can read the previous installments here, here, and here (I also have a bonus BFTP here. NSFW, language). I look forward to seeing you all back this evening.

And seriously, if you’re going to be in the Bay Area this weekend, come and check out the Tasting Event for Z’hara. Come and eat good food and keep me and my wife company. Please. Save us from the Youth of Today….


I’m still feeling absolutely wiped, despite spending the weekend in a sort of convalescence. I’ve only begun to believe that I am on the mend as my usual level of pain has started to return. That was the wonderful part of the weekend (if one can count feeling horrible and coughing up a lung or two as wonderful): my legs and back were pain-free, and I only had to worry about fever and mucous production. Now I just have a lingering headache, a cough that won’t go quietly into the night, and that familiar stabbing pain that punctuates my every step. Aside from all of that, though, I’m feeling pretty good. Well, good enough to try and put in a day at the Home Office. I’ve told myself that I won’t turn off the cable news until I’ve written my blog entry for the day, and all the nonsense on my television is only making this headache worse, so I had better get to it.

It makes me want to rule the world with an iron fist. I’m tired of seeing all the slick, pretested messages and the conscious tomfoolery of those in power who seek out prosperity for themselves and their own, while hanging the rest of us out to dry. I’m tired of watching the parade of the worst of humanity, and listening to the inane judgments of anchors trying to fill a slow news day. I mean, I laid out my plan for the betterment of all mankind several times on this very blog, yet apparently no one has been reading it. Either that, or they simply aren’t paying that much attention. If we could all just sit down with one another and talk, we might discover that we have more in common with our polar opposites than we might have imagined. I know this to be true because I am a bleeding-heart liberal, and my family is made up of war hawks and 1% apologists. And yet, when you put to rest the tired rhetoric and talking points, it turns out that we actually feel quite similarly about several key issues. It’s when each side gets lost in their own political code words that the walls are raised and communication fails.

Current events are bleeding into my brain, and the headache has just put in a Jacuzzi. I said it in 2008, and now that the 2016 Presidential Campaign is apparently underway, I’ll say it again: I do not want a Clinton/Bush rematch. I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I will not vote for Jeb Bush. It’s bad enough that we’re stuck with a two-party system, I cannot even tolerate the notion that we could be stuck in a two-family system. And given enough time, it’s easy enough for two families to become one, and therein lies the road to empire. Worst case scenario? Sure. I mean, it’s not like there are any other parallels in this country to the Roman Empire. I read an opinion piece while I was still on The Island, blaming the fall of the American Empire on our fading values, as in, the secularization of the country. That seems to be the go-to answer these days: everything would be all right if it weren’t for those godless heathens. Maybe I’m just being over-sensitive, as I am not actually in possession of a hearth.

But I’m not going down that rabbit-hole today. It’s easy to fall back into dystopian fantasies when surround by hopelessness of today. But things are bad enough without inventing things to fear. At least, that’s what I scream at Fox News every time it happens to be on my television. But that idea of a Bush/Clinton dynasty keeps percolating in the deepest reaches of my brain, and it makes me worried by its utter plausibility. And that’s just the sideshow meant to distract me: that line of reasoning is turning sharply away from where from where my attention should be, which is the rising oligarchy which seems no longer content to remain hidden in the shadows. When money can buy power, and power controls the frame of the debate, it sometimes seems hopeless to the single voices of the common men and women. Hold on, let me get my tinfoil. Sorry, I had to pop a baked potato in the oven.

I apologize if I seem a little all over the place today. I’m still feeling pretty blah, and I just can’t seem to find a rhythm to sink myself into. My wife just informed me that Spring Cleaning is coming early this year, as we’re going to excavate our bedroom, just to see if there is still, in fact, a floor. The downside to moderate prosperity has been the accumulation of things, and with my wife and I sharing a room with the Minkey, it’s not that surprising that we’ve begun running out of space. Well, actually, we’ve been out of space for quite awhile, but as my wife and I were working opposite shifts, it wasn’t necessarily as apparent. I guess that means the clock is ticking for me to find a source of steady income. When the adult kids and our grandson move out, we’ll have all the space of which we have been dreaming these past few years living as a giant family. I look forward to just how empty this nest of ours will appear, though missing out on my grandson will take some getting used to.

But with a daughter on the way, our grown-up kids are aware that we simply cannot fit the lot of us in the same two-bedroom apartment that can’t even fit those of us who are crammed in here at the moment. I wonder if my grandson will realize just how lucky he has been to see his grandparents every day, to spend time with them and enjoy the benefits of a multi-generational familial experience. I hope that we will be lucky enough to spoil our coming princess, and that she will choose to seek us out, just as her brother has done. Okay, maybe leg room isn’t everything. I know we can’t keep living like we have been, but when I get down to the things which I will miss, I find the face of my precious little toddler in a gigantic grin as he plays and runs around the living room chasing after (and being chased by) his uncle David. I wish I had a few million dollars, so that I could set us up in a nice couple of houses next to one another, where we could live nearby, but no longer beneath the same roof.


What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


El Que No Podia Aguantar

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“I dunno… So why not hours?”

I sighed, “Because it would burn.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again!