Tag Archives: fatherhood

Birthdays and Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father’s Day (NSFW-L)

As it says in the title, this post may be slightly Not Safe For Work due to Language. While the piece I wrote for Mother’s Day may have seemed mean-spirited, it, at least, was fairly straightforward. While my relationship with my mother may have had its ups and downs, that was mainly due to her always being around, whether I wanted her to be or not. Spend enough time with me, and you will either grow to hate me, or I will come to despise you. It’s not intentional, it’s just sort of how it all works out. I never had to worry about that with my dad, as to this day, I have still never actually met the man. Everything I know about him comes from other people, and the only people whom I know that knew him are the family of my mother. I’m not saying that they’ve said only negative things about him, but it wasn’t their job to do so. I mean, they were on team My Mom after all. They did try to be fair, though, as best they could, but even stories of the man who bailed on me weren’t much in the way of knowing him.

I had some role models when I was growing up, men who filled in for my absent father. There was my grandfather, who set aside every Friday to spend time with me (and his leather slippers when I was teething); my best friend (Wart)’s dad, who made me feel welcome, and part of the family practically every other weekend between Kindergarten and the 6th Grade; my uncle, who was into nerdy stuff like computers, and who seemed to understand some of the stuff I was going through as I was growing up. They weren’t the same as having a dad, obviously, but they accepted the role that they must have obviously seen that I so desperately needed, and never made me feel as if there was something better that they could have been doing. And sure, I’ve had arguments with them, as I grew older, pitting the omniscience of youth against the rapidly diminishing patience of experience, but that was bound to happen, no matter who was modeling. I cannot help remembering one time when my girlfriend and I had split up for a while and I’d moved back into my grandparent’s house for about a month. My grandfather tried to offer me some advice which wasn’t really applicable at that time, and fired back that, despite all appearances to the contrary, I knew what I was doing, and would appreciate it if he got off my fucking back about it. I have since apologized, but I was right.

None, of this of course, has anything to do with my biological father. In thirty-five years, I’ve only ever almost met him precisely once. I suppose, considering that it is the earliest thing which I can remember, it’s no wonder that I’m so hung up on this.

I can’t remember what time of day it was, but the lights were on the house, so it was probably overcast. It was probably early afternoon. I was in the living room of the tiny two-bedroom house that my mother was renting from my great-grandmother, doing whatever it is that little kids do. I think my mother told me later that I was two or three years old, which would explain why that place seems so massive in my memory. Someone knocked on the door. and my mother lifted back the curtain and peeked outside to see who had come calling. The next thing I know, she is leading me quickly to my room, telling me that there is a “bad man at the door.” Once in my room, she ordered me to press my body up against the door as hard as I could, reiterating that there was a “bad man at the door.” I remember hearing raised voices, but I can’t recall exactly what was said. And then I heard my mom speaking to someone on the phone. I could tell the difference because everyone has a “phone voice.” I must have gotten bored, because the next thing I remember was that it had gotten dark, and that my grandfather had arrived. I remember hearing that the “bad man” had left, and that the sheriff had been called. And then my mother told me that everything was okay now. About a decade and a half later, I found out that the “bad man” had been my father, and that she was afraid that he was going to steal me away as a way of hurting her.

I have also heard stories of how my dad decided that he really didn’t want a kid, and there is a story wherein apparently my father tried to either end the pregnancy, my mother’s life, or both. My parents were divorced shortly after I was born.

Shortly before David was born, I looked up my father using the internet, and sent him a letter. I told him that he was going to be a grandfather, and that if he wanted to know his grandson, I would be happy to let him. I told him that I wasn’t looking for compensation for the eighteen years of child support he never paid, or an awkward attempt at some sort of father-son bond, if he wasn’t interested. Maybe, if he was interested, we could go and grab a beer, and introduce ourselves, but that would be the extent of it, if it was too awkward to contemplate more. It was possibly the most neutral, politic thing which I have ever written. And I never heard back from him. The following summer, his  brother, my Uncle Bob, contacted me, and let me know why. Apparently, my father suffers from severe depression, and was recovering from some sort of heart problems. He’d seen the letter, but couldn’t bear to open it (if I was uncertain up to that point that he and I were related, that bit of information forever confirmed our genetic bond), and left it to my uncle to see what was inside. My dad was afraid of me. Of the very notion of me.

It turns out that my father still didn’t want to meet me. An offhand comment from my mother which was misunderstood, apparently led him to believe that we were not related. To even consider speaking to me, he wanted a paternity test. I cannot blame him for feeling overwhelmed by everything, or not having had an amicable relationship with my mother. I get it. But here’s the thing, I don’t care. Not anymore. I know that he will never read this, and that the only time I will ever see him will be at his funeral, unless he’s already dead (though I would imagine that his brother might have informed me). So I’m going to just let it all out, everything that I need to tell him. If you don’t approve of offensive language, or aren’t interested in eavesdropping on so personal a message, feel free to stop reading here.

Dad,

I’ve given up ever trying to get to know you, even just man to man. I get why you left, and why the thought of children apparently terrified you. Trust me, I had to face that myself eight years ago. But here’s the thing: Fuck you for not being there! If you thought that your wife was so fucking terrible, why would you leave me there to suffer? Did you know that I had the chance to bail? While Flor was pregnant, and we were arguing the merits of bringing a child into the world on the amount of money we could generate, she gave me an out: she told me that if I wanted to run, if I didn’t want to be dad (or couldn’t be one), she would take the baby, and never contact me again. No child support, no obligation. Nothing. I had the fucking out, man, and I couldn’t take it. Because of you. I didn’t know how good of a father I would be, having never fucking had one in the first place, but I sure as shit knew what it was like to grow up without a dad. I weighed everything that was wrong with me: my trust issues, my fear of abandonment, my bi-polar disorder, the fact that every relationship that I had ever had up until that point had ended in hostilities. I had no reason to stay, other than the fact that I knew that I had to. Fuck you for not even trying.

This is the last time that I will worry about you on Father’s Day. You weren’t ever my father, hell- you weren’t even a dad. You were just a goddamned sperm donor! So, instead of paying tribute to the sprawling mythology which I’ve built up around you, I’m going a different route. I’ll celebrate this day a little differently from now on. You see, not being a dad, that just makes you a Mother Fucker. And that means that it’s only Motherfucker’s Day, which is the best that you’re ever going to get from me. I’m done with you. You had your fucking chance, and you blew it! I’m not the coolest person, or even the best son (see my post for Mother’s Day), but I am something worth knowing.

I hope you continue rotting away in misery, that every waking moment is consumed with regrets for things you never got around to. I hope that you are alone. That you die knowing that no one loves you, that no one even likes you all that much. Not that we ever shared anything more than a fucking surname, but you and I are fucking through! 

Happy Motherfucker’s Day!

Lack of Sleep

So I’ve managed to pick up two additional days this week, one of them being almost a complete shift. Not too shabby for my first full week at my current job. I guess that I don’t completely suck, after all. Well, either that, or we’re seriously understaffed, and I’m simply a warm body. But I’ve been through this all before, at almost all of my jobs over the past dozen years or so, and as long as I can keep my current schedule (well, the start time, anyway), I think that it will be okay. I’m an early morning person, who has very little contact with our customers, and able to get out of work with plenty of day to spare. The only downside is that David absolutely refuses to go to bed on time, and that means that I’ve gotten very little sleep these past five days. It’s not so bad when Flor is here to run interference with David William, but on the nights when she is working, it means that I have to remain awake until my son has finally gone to sleep. I’m sure that I will find a way to make it work, sooner or later, but for right now, I’ve been ashamedly grateful for the part-time scheduling, as if I’m only going to get four or five hours of sleep, it’s nice that I don’t have to work much longer than a four or five-hour shift.

Unfortunately, Flor is going back to work at the billiard hall tonight, which means that I am doubly hosed. As you may remember, she would like me to accompany her on her walk home, as she’s off of work very late at night, and would prefer not to walk home alone. I’m on tomorrow at 5:30 in the morning, which means that I was already looking at a bad night’s sleep since I have to start waking up around 3:30 in the morning. Flor gets off at 2 o’clock this evening, which takes away another hour and a half of what little sleep I might have been able to manage. Considering that David isn’t likely to fall asleep until 10 o’clock or so (despite being fully aware that his bedtime is to be no later than 8:30 every night), that means that, if I’m really lucky, I might get three and a half hours of sleep tonight before I have to go get Flor. At that point, there won’t be much hope of me getting back to sleep, which means that I will work my first full shift at my new job on less than half the amount of sleep which I require. Still, I suppose that it could be worse. I mean, I could still be unemployed. And there’s nothing worse than that, apparently.

Next week won’t be so bad, though. I’ve got Jury Duty on Wednesday, which might wind up eating up my near future if I get chosen (though, if I am honest, I won’t be. I have opinions about things.), and David’s birthday on the weekend. His grandmother and great-grandmother chipped in and got him LEGO Jurassic World, which arrived today, and will be a constant temptation on my mind until the Monkey Man can open it. Times like these make we wish that school was year-round, although the fact that he’ll be here all day means that I have better odds at not opening it up and playing it before his birthday comes. Honestly, it would make a pretty awesome Father’s Day gift for Mr. Batmart. I’m not saying that I would open it on Sunday, thank David for his generosity, and figure out something of equal value to give to him next weekend, but I’m not denying it either. I mean, either way he’ll get to play, and it would mean that we could have that much more fun that much sooner. I mean, that sounds reasonable, right?

Okay, perhaps not. I wish that I could blame this all on a lack of sleep, but I’ve actually gotten a full night’s rest for the past two days. Maybe that’s my problem. I mean, obviously, four hours of sleep is not enough, but more than six just seems to wipe me out. I love how merely thinking about all the sleep I won’t be getting is exhausting me. But it’s now less than an hour until Flor has to go to work, and the odds of me nipping off for quick nap are about as good as me winning the lottery tonight, and since I haven’t even purchased a ticket, I’m not very hopeful. But at least I’m getting more work. If everything keeps going as it is, I’ll still be on track for a promotion along the same timetable as I seem to follow at every job I’ve had since I’ve moved to California. I don’t know that I really want the responsibility, but the extra money would be nice, not to mention the benefits. The key will be to maintain my open availability until I am too vital to store operations that I’m in a position to start making some demands.

I guess I’ll have to watch the ST: TNG marathon on BBC America, and try to remain moderately functional until the Minkey drops off to sleep. I’m hoping that he gets bored with the slightly dated special effects, and passes out as an act of defiance. I wish that he was more into reading. It doesn’t make me sleepy, but it keeps me quiet, and it could do the same for him. But the only things that he likes doing seem to involve him jumping around and making his own sound effects. Maybe tonight I will be lucky, and he will actually want to go to bed, but judging by his energy levels at the moment, that doesn’t seem too likely. Whatever. At the very least, maybe he will fall in love with Star Trek. He’s just a little too interested in Star Wars for my liking.

The Eyes Have It

No pun intended (this time), but I should have seen this coming. From the time when he was just seven and a half months old and stabbed me in the eye with his very first Valentine’s Day card, David William has had a… unique relationship with vision. We thought that after his spastic attack upon my cornea, that he would be done with eyeball-related crises, especially considering that I started wearing glasses, and for a few years we were right. But he’s always rubbing at them, and half the time we’re convinced that he needs to see an optometrist. Actually, I’m not entirely sure why we haven’t taken him. I should probably ask Flor about that. Regardless, however, it was only a matter of time until karma repaid him for his Valentine’s Day massacre of my right eyeball. It would have been more appreciated if he had been spending time with his grandmother or mother, as opposed to his former victim, but apparently that’s not how karma works. And so it came to pass that after I had gotten not nearly enough sleep so that I could wake up early so that I could get to work by four a.m., and then work four and a half of the most physically demanding hours in recent memory, walked home exhausted, and collapsed onto the bed to watch a little Netflix, he jammed his grubby little finger in his eye and deprived me of my chance to unwind a little. Come to think of it, I’m almost positive that he might have done it on purpose.

Shortly after I got back home this morning, he decided that it would be okay to run around the house and drag his knuckles on the kitchen floor while hiding beneath the kitchen table. And when I say drag his knuckles, I mean crawl around on all fours because I told him that he couldn’t drink his sister’s juice (which his mother wound up giving to him anyway). About ten minutes later, back in the room, after kicking up some dust, he ground his filthy little fingers in his eye to relieve the itching, and immediately exclaimed that his eye was hurting. We rinsed it out, and I took a look to see if it was an eyelash or other foreign body, but the only thing which I could see was a strange affectation of the eye which he had contaminated. The best I can describe it as is if he had a blister on his cornea. It was yellowish and translucent, and seemed to have collected toward the bottom of his eye. I’m not ashamed to admit that I may have freaked out a little. If he had hurt himself almost anywhere else, I would have felt comfortable enough to triage him to determine how much I could take care of here, or if we truly had to pay a visit to the clinic. Eyes, though, are not my bailiwick. Give me a fever, a cut, a sprain, and I am gorram Doctor House. Present me with damaged optic organs, and I am running to the nearest doctor’s house (not really their place of residence, I just liked the symmetry- bite me!).

I had already changed into my pajamas (because reasons!), and he hadn’t actually changed out of his, so it was a hectic dash to get us both properly dressed and out the door in timely fashion. Someone has been letting him leave the house in his pajamas because they don’t want to have an argument with him, and now he thinks that that’s okay. Which it isn’t. Because if I have to put on pants, he has to put on pants. I managed to get us both dressed fairly quickly, all things considered, and we were almost ready to run out the door, when David informed that he couldn’t find his other shoe, and that his eye really hurt. This, of course, was all that was needed to summon Lecture Dad (TM pending), who shimmered into being right where I’d been standing and informed David that if he left his shoes in the same spot every time he took them off (we have one of those hanging things of pouches for footwear adorning the inside of our bedroom door), he would always know where to find them, and that if he would wash his hands occasionally and quit picking at his eyes, he wouldn’t have gotten himself into his current predicament.

“This is the worst day ever!” he informed me. “Today is not going in my diary!”

“Be that as it may,” Lecture Dad (TM pending) replied, tired of his son’s shenanigans, “We’re going to the doctor, and they’re going to check out what’s going on in your eye.”

“But I want to play Xbox!” he began to whinge.

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have jabbed your bacteria-laden digits in your eyes!

“But I don’t want to go to the doctor!”

Lecture Dad (TM pending) was having none of his son’s excuses, “Neither do I, but since your eye looks freaky, and you did it to yourself, we’re going.” I tossed the missing footwear in David’s direction, and said, “Here. Here’s your shoe. Put it on your foot, and let’s get going!”

“Okay, Dad.” David wiggled his foot into the remaining shoe, pulled on a jacket, and we finally managed to leave the apartment.

As I may have already mentioned these past few weeks, money is kind of tight. I mean, let’s face it: I didn’t get a job doing what I’m doing (for no hours at minimum wage) because the writing has been unbelievably profitable (actually, it has been unbelievably profitable, in that I’ve made $17 in royalties, and I frankly cannot believe that all my friends who said that they would by my stuff when it came out have somehow managed not to do so). So when David started in about not wanting to walk to the clinic (a sentiment with which I could relate, having done more exercise today than in all the six months in which I wasn’t working), I may have snapped at him a little. I was tired, my muscles ached, and I was fairly well and truly chapped in a couple of very tender areas, due to my superhuman ability to sweat normally for three average people, but only in my crotch. So we gimped along the twenty-minute walk up to the doctor’s office. The wind was blowing fiercely (as it always does in the wind tunnel which I’ve come to know as Not Quite Richmond, California), so I offered David my glasses to keep the random bits of debris from striking his already sensitive eyes. This, however, was not apparently enough, as halfway into our walk, he pulled his jacket over his head, and had me lead him the rest of the way as if he could not see (which he couldn’t).

We finally arrived at the clinic, which was filled with kids with stuffy noses and the like. I told the nurse that I needed someone to take a look at David, and, to her credit, she bumped us up to the head of the line. Like every visit, they checked his height and weight (it seems he’s not growing all that much), his blood pressure (perfect, according to the nurse), and temperature (within human norms), and then led us to a room. Normally, when the waiting room is filled like it was today, they make us go back out until it is our turn, but apparently my description of his eye was enough to make them want to keep him away from the other children. Not that it made the doctor see us any sooner. If there is anything I dislike more than having to take David to the doctor, it’s having to sit with him while we’re waiting for the doctor to see him. Look, I get it: no one likes to wait. What doesn’t help, however, is flipping out every fifteen seconds because it seems to be taking a little while for the doctor to arrive. Lecture Dad (TM pending) reminded David that if he had put his Kindle Fire to charge last night instead of leaving it upon the kitchen table, he would have had it ready to bring along with him when we went to see the doctor. Whinging Boy (TM also pending) did not seem to believe that point was relevant, but in an extremely high-pitched and aggravating manner.

Finally, the doctor tapped upon the door, and it was time to get down to business. Before I go any further, however, I need to share a minor point: I’m not sure how horrible a person that the following revelation makes me, but I tend to get a little skittish around doctors with a German accent. I know that there are medical schools in Germany (well, I don’t know, but I assume), and that to practice medicine in the United States, he has to have been able to prove that he knows what he is doing (in theory), but there is something deeply unsettling about an older man with blond hair and blue eyes, thick German accent, lab coat, and a stethoscope talking about medicine. He seemed to know what he was doing, however, as he agreed with my assessment of the situation entirely, and prescribed antibiotic drops for the affected eye. While he was preparing to send over the prescription to our nearest Walgreens, he took a page from the playbook of Lecture Dad (TM still pending), and told David William to make sure to wash his grubby hands with more frequency than he seems to be able to manage now, and to stop jabbing his filthy fingers into his eyes. I thanked Herr Doktor, and we were on our way.

As it turns out, those words of gratitude may have been uttered a tad prematurely, as by the time we’d made our way back to the pharmacy (narrowly escaping the Crazy Dude who’s been roaming around the city for the past several days, screaming at passersby, and trying to instigate a bout of fisticuffs), nearly twenty minutes later, the prescription still hadn’t been sent. Almost an hour later, with both David and I pushed to the limits of our patience, we finally picked up his bloody eye drops, and made our way back home. While we were waiting, I also picked up some more Children’s Claritin, in the hopes that maybe it was just a case of allergies which had inspired my son to endanger his vision, and therefore, I could protect his eyes from further damage with five millilitres of liquid loratadine a day. We got home to an empty apartment, and I informed my son that it was time for me to administer his medicine, the same medicine that I had previously advised him that he would have to have, and which he agreed to receive without throwing his standard-issue tantrum.

There are few things more damaging to the well-being of a parent’s psyche than the child who refuses to take his (incredibly important) medicine. It’s not one of those cases where you can just give into his fears, and not give him what he needs. I tried for nearly fifteen minutes to get him calm enough to sit still for the one drop of medicine which I had to put into his eye. I tried explaining it. I tried showing him what it would be like by squirting a dose into my eye. I attempted bribery and threats. He still refused to tilt his head back so that I could do what I had to. Finally, I had to hold him down and launch several drops down toward his eye (in the hope that at least some of the medicine would actually reach its target), all the while fighting off his flailing limbs and screaming in my ear. It reminded me of when he was just a little baby, and we took him for his vaccinations. The look of absolute betrayal frozen on his face as I had to hold him still while the doctor pierced his skin is still burned into my mind. He broke my heart today, just as I’m sure that I broke his, but at least his eye is now feeling better, and I’ve even seen him wash his hands a few times since we’ve gotten back. Presidenting may be hard, but it’s nothing compared to parenting.

I think I need a nap.

Mental Health: Nervous Breakdancing

Mental Health Week is upon us, and I figured that I should check in with everyone. In the years since I was first diagnosed with Manic Depression, back when it was still called Manic Depression, I have seen a general decrease in the stigma surrounding mental illness. At least, until the issue of gun control becomes involved, or the police decide that they just don’t feel like putting up with it that day. But at least it’s not something which must be swept under the rug, and hidden deep within the family histories. I’m cynical enough to think that maybe this drive toward understanding was not brought about by the goodness of mankind, but rather that pharmaceutical companies finally had a way to make a fortune off of those of us who had to battle the demons in our mind. And they couldn’t run all those massive ad campaigns if depression was something that nobody could talk about. And now I’ve got a bitter taste in my mouth, forced to admit to myself that maybe The Free Market might have been good for something. Well, I suppose that even evil can wind up doing some measure of good from time to time, if only by sheer accident.

I’ve never gotten a chance to meet my dad, and it looks like I probably never will. I’ve had to piece together the family history of mental illness from anecdotes from people who knew that side of my family, and the reaction from my father when I tried to contact him. My father’s brother, who lives and teaches in Japan, comes back to Idaho every year to check up on his brother and take care of other family things. He was the one who found and read my letter, and got in touch with me. He told me that my father was wrapped up in depression, and suffering from a heart condition. And damn it, if my dad didn’t see that letter exactly as I would have seen it. He kept off to the side, terrified to open it, and then indignant when it was read to him. He blames my mother for a comment she made in passing, and it would take a paternity test, which I would have to pay for, to convince him that I am his son. Part of me wants to just do it, so that I can throw the results in his face, and sit down and talk to him. That’s the part of me that needs to know absolutely everything so that I can try to prepare for when my son displays the signs of what I’m beginning to believe is direct line heredity of mental instability.

My son, the Minkey. The school believes that he’s got ADHD, and so does his doctor. Well, his last doctor did, his current doctor isn’t entirely convinced. The type of pills he takes have also had the same effect on me when I… sampled them a couple of decades ago, and I do not suffer from ADHD. Maybe I’m just looking for something that isn’t there; I wouldn’t put it past me. But from the stories which I’ve been told, both of my father as an adult, and myself at my son’s age, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before my son will face the same challenges which I was forced to face. The only advantage which my son possesses is that his father has been through it all before. I wish I thought that it would matter, though. I’ve never really found a good answer to the melancholia. But at least I will be able to know what’s going on with him, and I can try to help him cope in a less self-destructive manner than I chose for myself. Maybe that will help him feel slightly less alone. That is, if I make it long enough.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. It’s hard to tell what’s a product of the swirling ups and downs, and what’s a normal reaction to the situation that I’m in. All I know for sure, is that I don’t know what to do. No one is calling back about the résumés I’ve left. I’ve been questioning my choice to jump back into writing, foregoing a steady paycheck (or any paycheck). But then I look at what I’ve managed to accomplish, and I know that I made the right decision. I’ve written more over the past five months than at any other point during the past twenty-eight years. I’m better than I ever was, though after rewriting Terracrats, I’m not sure how impressive that statement might be. Last night, when I couldn’t get to sleep, I finally figured out how to structure the novel which I’ve been working out inside my head for the past couple of years. But it’s all come too late. I’ve run out of time, and I don’t know what to do.

Normally, when backed into this type of corner, my instinct is to curl into a little ball and try to build up the courage to finally end it all. I’ll be honest with all of you: Last night, after I’d had my revelation about the book, and then realized that I’d figured it out too late, I locked myself in my bathroom, and… considered certain things. I don’t know what it was that stopped me. I don’t know what’s keeping me from sinking into the soothing madness of a nervous breakdown. I’d like to think that I’ve discovered some secret source of strength within myself, but I think it’s just that I’m a coward. I’m afraid to leave the things I feel I need to do undone. I don’t want all of this to have been for nothing. I just don’t know if I’ve still got the strength to see things through until the very end. What’s worse is when I open up to Flor, trying to find some comfort in her love for me, and she tells me that I cannot go because of David, Cream Soda, and the granddaughter who’ll be born any day now. As she hurls those words against me, I feel the weight of all those years upon me, and I feel that I cannot stand it anymore.

Why do they need me? Why did I give into the loneliness, and drag someone down with me? Why did I bring a life into this world who will most likely face the same things to which I still have never found an answer? What gives me the right to make them suffer with me? Why even bother dragging everything out like this? I’m nervous breakdancing all around inside my head, and I’m trying to find my equilibrium. I know that if I can just stick it out a little longer, that everything will soon seem better. I know that all of this is only in my head. Also, why does it feel like August?

Thanks for bearing with me.

No News Isn’t News At All (With Lunch At Jupiter)

My faith in the universe is usually always tested right before everything works out. Either that, or I’m really good at making lemonade from lemons, but only at the last possible instant. I’d been hoping to hear back from a couple of people by now, regarding the gainful employment of yours truly. I mean, it’s not that I’m not proud of what I’ve accomplished with The Vaults of Uncle Walt since it began early December, but no one has come up to me with wads of cash, demanding that I must be paid, either. I suppose I could have ads, but I hate sites with ads, especially if those sites are blogs. I feel that the advertisements demean the flow of thought and distract from the enjoyment of the author’s written word. That being said, it is a source of income that does not necessitate my leaving my apartment. Something is going to happen within a couple of days; I can feel it. Just like the aches and pains flare up in my knees before there is a storm, I can usually sense something coming which will challenge a status quo, and in this case, that almost certainly means a source of income. Have I set myself a challenge? Sure. Is it impossible? Don’t know until I’ve tried. Any regrets? The damnable speed at which I operate, perhaps.

Even now, as I’m calming writing out these words to all of you, my mind is racing, coming alive with possibilities. I find it better not to interrupt myself when I’m travelling at top speed, so I’m going to keep focusing on the task at hand: distracting myself while I try to work out some solution. Tomorrow looks like it will be a busy day for me, with lots of walking and supplication. If I’m lucky, I can find something to pass my waking hours within walking distance of my home. If I’m luckier, it will pay me enough to actually do more that just keep my head above water. The longer I’ve waited to jump back into the fray, the worse my anxiety has gotten. In addition to not knowing which mindless task I might hate the least, I now have to deal with the prospect of acquainting myself with not only new coworkers, but new customers as well. There’s a pizzeria nearby that could seriously use some help. They’re not advertising it, but I’ve tasted what they have to offer. They need someone to overhaul their dough, and their sauce could use some work as well. Maybe I worked my last job for more than just the opportunity to find my future son-in-law.

In other news: Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. I decided that it had been awhile since the Minkey and I had done anything fun outside the house, so we got up at a reasonable hour, got dressed, and headed out to Berkeley to see what free stuff we could wrangle. I’d called up a friend of mine a couple of days before, and made plans to meet up with him as well. I hadn’t seen him since Wildflower and I attended his wedding, and had been unable to actually figure out a time to go hang out with him the entire month of April, so I figured that we could, at least, decimate the local population of birds in just one go. Nick was coming from The City, and didn’t want to wait around in line for hours, and I wanted to be cheap and take two buses instead of shelling out for BART (not to mention that I still wanted at least a little bit of sleep), so figured we would see what the line looked like when managed to get to Berkeley, and go from there. I’m glad we didn’t get there any sooner.

David and I got there a little over half an hour before Nick. At first, the line didn’t look that bad. And then, as we walked toward what we assumed to be its terminus, our hearts began to drop: the line was stretched around the building, and down almost the entire block. It we had come out sooner, we would still probably have had to wait in line. There were people in costumes looking weary, like they’d been there for quite some time. David would never have made it. But it actually worked out. We didn’t have all that long to wait before Nick joined up with us, and once he’d joined our party, time moved a little faster. David, of course, began complaining he was hungry. We finally got inside, grabbed our free stuff, and shuffled out with the little one to go find something to fill his little belly. Of course, being Berkeley on a Saturday, the places which we wanted to patronize weren’t quite open yet. So we bummed around to kill some time until Jupiter finally opened. We bought something to drink, and smoked a cigarette, and tried to leave David wedged inside of Modern Art.

He escaped.
He escaped.

It was then time to go have lunch. I won’t go into too great of detail, except to mention that if you’re in Berkeley, and like good beer and pizza (and the most amazing garlic bread I’ve ever tasted), then make sure you stop in at Jupiter before you leave. That wasn’t a paid advertisement, until the fine folks at Jupiter would like to make it one.

Oh, and the Minkey picked up a new nickname: Derpdevil, The Boy Without Sense. My friend, Fed, has said that my son is either a genius, or its polar opposite, and most everyone else agrees. He’ll spout something so profound that you literally have to stop and process what he’s just said, and then he spazzes out and hits the people sitting behind him with branches which he’s scavenged from the street. And whereas Daredevil has heightened senses to compensate for the one he’s lost, David has all of his intact, and they seem to be having the reverse effect, making him less aware of what’s going on around him.

We paid the bill, and Nick said he was heading back to get a comic signed by Gail Simone. I had wanted her to autograph my Kindle Fire, but I saw the line and just knew it wasn’t worth it. So we said goodbye to Nick, and his friend Oliver (who had joined us at Jupiter for lunch), grabbed a shot with a TIE fighter pilot and Stormtrooper, and then headed home.

The high point of his day.
The high point of his day, despite that look on his face.

We could have taken two buses to get back, but David was bouncing around with an overabundance of energy, so I decided to have us walk almost two and a half miles to burn a little bit of that exuberance away. As any parent reading this will guess, that was a mistake.

He made it almost halfway before deciding that what he’d really like to do would be to stop somewhere and use the facilities. And of course we’d been zig-zagging through the residential zone, so there weren’t any shops around (or decent vegetative cover). With about a mile to go, we finally found a little cafe. The waiter was far nicer than he might have been, and allowed David to run inside to use the restroom, despite the foreknowledge that we would not be paying customers. I’m going to end the story here, because what happened next isn’t for the faint of heart. Suffice it to say, however, I’m seriously considering taking him to some sort of specialist…

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.

Transcript:

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.

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.

The Afterglow of Insomnia

I still can’t get to sleep. Don’t get me wrong: I slept last night, but only for a little over five hours. I don’t know why it is that I haven’t been able to get to sleep before two o’clock in the morning. I’m going to try to avoid taking a nap today, but I make no promises, for insomnia is a harsh mistress. But at least last night I managed to be moderately productive. After being inspired by a comment about a mistranslation, I sat down and busted out a cheesy grunge-inspired song. Well, the lyrics anyway. I’ve now passed them over to Bad Leon Suave, who will add some music and turn it into a proper tune- I hope. But there is so much left to do to get the apartment into shape before our company arrives. Even I, the bastion of not giving even the slightest crap about home maintenance, have begun to feel a little urge to get stuff cleaned and/or put away. And considering that I will be attending a fast food protest/strike tomorrow with my wife, I guess that means we have a lot to get accomplished by the end of the day. I just wish that I wasn’t so exhausted.

It’s not like this is my first bout of insomnia. I’ve been unable to get to bed at a reasonable hour for most of my adult life. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m naturally a night owl, and part of it has to do with not having time to myself to finally decompress. Yes, Virginia, even unemployed writers occasionally need to blow off steam. I thought that I might be able to fall back into a more normal rhythm (at least for me), switching to full-on nocturnal once I was no longer working. But things kept coming up, and now I’m basically on the same schedule that I had when I was working, give or take an hour. I will say that getting my son ready for school and out the door is a far greater challenge than just getting myself ready and off to work. I have a good autopilot system, and would usually finally begin to feel the hints of consciousness somewhere halfway through the BART ride. Being responsible for another human being in the morning is mind-numbingly difficult, especially if it seems like that person is doing all he can to sabotage the whole endeavor.

Me: Come on, get up and get dressed.

David: Ugghhh…. Why?!

Me: School.

David: (angrier) Ugghhh! Fine! I’m not going!

Me: Dude, come on! Let’s get changed out of your jammies and put on your clothes.

David: I need to go pee.

Me: You don’t need my permission.

David: (goes to bathroom.)

Five minutes later, with no sounds whatsoever resembling the flow of liquid…

Me: You done in there?

David: No….

Me: Come on, let’s get a move on!

David: (opens door unexpectedly, wearing only his tank top) Uggghhh….

Me: Dude! Pants!

David: Do I have to?

Me: No one likes wearing pants, but it’s cold outside, so just do it.

David: Fine! But I won’t like it!

Me: I accept your terms. Let’s go.

David: (gets dressed slowly, attempting to raise my blood pressure, not finishing for another five minutes)

The rest of the morning is just more of the same, and it isn’t until I finally let go of his hand when we’ve arrived outside the school that he seems to remember that he knows how to do things. I’ll try to give him one last smooch, and tell him that I love him, and he’ll wipe his face and look around to see if any of his friends have seen him. He’ll tell me goodbye with the finality of a dismissal, and then walk toward the door to disappear inside so that he can go and play. And then, just as he’s about to pass through the doorway, he runs quickly back and throws his arms around me, and tells me, “Last hug!” without a trace of the self-consciousness which wholly consumed him not a moment before. I hug him back, and tell him that I love him, and that I believe in him. And to have a great day. He then runs back inside, still my little boy, but growing up all the same. I can see from time to time, glimpses of the person he’s becoming, and I think to myself that maybe he’ll turn out okay.

And then I come back to my quiet home (everyone else will be sleeping in ’til noon), power up the laptop, and try to think of what I want to say. Don’t tell my wife, but one of the reasons that I love walking her to work is that it usually gives me a little extra time to mull over things when I’m sipping coffee on my walk back. There’s something beautiful about the world in that hour before dawn, and while I would never set an alarm to see it, I’ve spent many nights awake in eager anticipation of its arrival. There are hardly any cars, and I can wander down the streets and work out the first couple of paragraphs in my head, playing with the narrative while talking to myself. I’m not afraid of what other folks may think, and the best way to protect yourself from those who might seek to harm you is to appear exponentially more batshit crazy than even they can manage. We can smell our own, you see. And after spending a night wrestling with insomnia, it’s really not that much of an act.

This e-cigarette just isn’t cutting it. I need the rich, full flavor of combusted tobacco product. I’ve been really bad about staying away from the real thing (ultra lights, though they be), and now I’m pretty much back to where I was before my lungs went on strike. I want to keep living like I’m still in my twenties, but my body keeps reminding me that’s not really feasible. One of these days I’m going to wake up and suddenly discover that I have a spark of self-preservation in me, but today is not that day.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing something about strikes and unions, and Thursday will be a series of shorter posts which will chronicle my adventures in the city with my newly arrived nephew.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

-Tex