I wasn’t sure that I would make it this time; another nine days with my son always at my side is quite a stretch of time. It’s not that I don’t love him, just that we need a little break from one another before things go too far. His sense of humor is a little twisted, and his idea of comic timing involves repeating himself over and over until I make a token acknowledgment of what he’s said, never pausing to take even a single breath. It’s not so bad in the afternoon, when I’ve had a chance to raise my shields, but as a wake-up call at seven in the morning, it’s something I can live without. During his time off, I never seem to manage to get myself to sleep before two o’clock in the morning, and, as long as he doesn’t have to go to school, he’s up in time to greet the dawn. At least we’ll be getting back to something of a more normalized arrangement this evening. And tomorrow, I have no doubt that I’ll be up with a cold shiver of dread at being late, and he will slumber like the dead. Maybe I should give him a taste of his own comedy, just to see how funny he thinks it is when it’s aimed at him. The problem is that I would most likely punch myself, as I just don’t have that kind of nonsense in me anymore, despite what he says about my jokes.
Today, he had the nerve to tell me that my jokes were “lame”, and that I, myself, was a “Lame-o”. I have no idea what he’s talking about; I gave him comedy gold. For all of you who are wondering about just how lame my jokes are, here’s exactly how it all went down:
Me: Why did the veterinarian give a lozenge to the pony?
David: I don’t know. What’s a lozenge?
Me: It’s like a cough drop.
David: Oh, okay. What’s a cough drop?
Me: Something you take when you have a sore throat… and a cough.
David: Okay. I don’t know.
Me: Fine. He gave the pony a lozenge because he was a little horse.
David: (erupts in laughter) What’s a veterinarian?
Me: (facepalm) Okay… A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?”
David: Why are you telling me jokes about horses?
Me: Get it? (mimes extension of face) A long face…
David: Are you done?
Me: One more. Ready?
David: (groans) Whatever, Dad.
Me: Okay. Three men walk into a bar. The fourth man ducks.
David: I don’t get it.
Me: You know, three men walk into something, and then the next guys doesn’t.
David: What’s a bar?
Me: Well, in this case, it seems like I’m talking about a tavern, but the joke is that it’s really like a pipe, or tube.
David: I still don’t get it. Your jokes are lame, Dad. You’re a Lame-o.
Me: Okay, tell me one then.
David: Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Me: Orange who?
David: Orange you glad I didn’t- Wait! Wait! Knock knock.
Me: (groans) Who’s there?
Me: Doctor Who?
David: (erupts in laughter)
While I appreciate his ability to recover, and approve of his nerdy references, I am not a Lame-o. I mean, whose go-to joke for comedic superiority is of the knock-knock variety? Although, to be fair, at least he can nail those. Most of the time. I will give him credit for trying. I just wish he was a little funnier. I don’t know. Once in a while he manages to make me chuckle, usually when he’s in trouble with his mother. And then we both manage to get in trouble for his shenanigans. And I know that he’s just trying to make me laugh as a way to win my approval. I just wish that he didn’t try so hard. I find him funniest when he’s not overdoing it. Then again, I myself have been known to beat a punchline to its death. It’s probably just something that he’ll eventually grow out of. And hey- maybe he will be able to pick up on social clues someday, and know when to bail out on a joke when it’s obviously bombing. Then again, he is my son, so probably not. I guess I’ll just have to give him a master class in sarcasm and dry, British wit when he comes of age.
I don’t know what I’ll do with all the time that I’ll be left with when I’ve dropped him off at school. Probably laundry, come to think of it. And then a rousing game of “make the apartment presentable for company.” Our nephew is flying in from Mexico this Thursday, and my wife wants to make sure that he doesn’t see what two full families living in a two-bedroom apartment actually looks like. And it is Spring, so I guess it’s time for a good cleaning. I just hope he doesn’t wonder why the throw rug is so lumpy. And at eye level. It shouldn’t be too bad, though. I’m going to meet him out at SFO, and then take him on a tour of the city. That means that between now and then, I actually have to look up where the Irish Bank is located, and build up the courage to face Pier 39 again. At least lunch is not issue. One of the benefits of knowing people who work in restaurants is that I can usually get a decent deal on food.
And this weekend, I think that the whole merry lot of us are going to be super touristy and hit up Alcatraz. I’ve already been, but Wildflower and David have not. We’ll have to see how it all goes, but I think we’re going to have a fair amount of fun this week. I just hope that David doesn’t try telling any jokes.
“Sometimes I just like to express myself in tears.”
-David William, 4/10/15
There are times when I am amazed by just how mature my son can be, on the rare occasions when it doesn’t interfere with his childishness. He has such a way with words sometimes that I find myself wondering just how he’s managed it in such a short amount of time. He’s almost eight years old, and yet he casually tosses out profundity without a second thought. I suppose it could be something in his genes, as I tend to do the same, or it could be that I’ve never spoken to him as though he were anything less than an adult. There are times when that hasn’t worked out so well, and I have to be reminded that he’s still a little boy, but his vocabulary is fantastic and he’s capable of reasoning which I’ve been told is significantly above his age group. Most of the time, he’s just this little kid, obsessed with playing Xbox, and vegging out in front of his cartoons. And yet… Like I said, there are times when he just lays some truth down on me, and I cannot help but think that maybe I am doing something right, and that I might be pretty lucky to have been able to be part of his life.
I’m just hoping that I manage not to screw him up too badly by the time I’m done with him. I’ve got just one decade left to try to help him to discover who he is, and what it means to be that man. And really, considering how close his teen years are, I’ve probably got less than that. I don’t want to turn him into a carbon copy of myself, as I’ve learned the hard way, living with my daughter, but I’d like to pass along some of the lessons which I’ve managed to learn over these past three and a half decades. It’s too early to get into comparative philosophies, but I’ve been focusing for the past couple of years on teaching him how to think. I figure that he’ll be flipping through beliefs like the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue soon enough, and at that point, the only influence which I’ll have on upon him will be to present a target to which he can focus his rebellion. Knowing that those days are coming make me preemptively weepy, but I’m hoping that by laying some groundwork now, I can minimize the damage in the years to come.
I’m glad he’s not reading over my shoulder right now, as I don’t want him to know just how impressed I am with him. I know that sounds a little weird, but please, hear me out. I tell him every day just how much I love him, and every time he knocks it out of the park, I make sure to let him know just how good of job he’s doing. But I don’t want him to get too full of himself, and think that can do no wrong. The best lessons I ever had were those which I managed to salvage from the burning wreckage of my failures. I never learned anything by getting it right the first time. That’s not to say that I’m not capable of doing it right the first time, just that it’s not really a learning experience. And now, whenever I learn something new, I’m more interested in the Whys than Hows. The only downside to that is that no one really wants to teach me anymore, on account of the unending stream of questions pouring out from between my beard. I guess that I just want David to have to always think that he could do a little better, because that will always be the truth.
Now, I’m not saying that I want to be the type of dad who never gives his son approval. I just don’t want him to get so hung up doing a victory dance that loses sight of the bigger picture. There is always more to learn, more to see, more experiences under the sun (and moon) than can be checked off of any list in a single afternoon. Of course, if I’m not careful, I’ll drive him to try to touch the sun, and water wings are even less effective than those crafted lovingly from wax.
Not that he’s ever used water wings, however. No, he’s not a natural swimmer, we just can’t get him anywhere near a pool. He’s terrified of water, except for little puddles that splash safely around in. Hell, when we give him a bath, we have to debate just how important it actually is to get the shampoo out of his hair. I don’t know why he’s so worried all the time about the smallest things. That’s probably genetic, too. I don’t suppose that I’m really in all that great of a position to be mocking someone for their anxieties. I mean, despite my intelligence and unbearable awesomeness, it is still a major battle to pick up a phone and call someone I don’t know. To be completely honest, even phone calls to people with whom I share D.N.A. or, at the very least, a deep friendship, aren’t all that much easier. I mean, I only really call the man who I once considered my best friend if I happen to be in the same area code, on the way to meet up with him- and we live hundreds of miles apart. Even our text messages are few and far between, as I’m even nervous about simply wasting his time.
I hope that David William won’t ever have to deal with that. It’s one thing to be afraid of dogs, and cats, and water deeper than a couple of inches, but it’s another monster entirely to be afraid of other people. So far, he’s just like his mother, in that regard. He has no problem walking up to someone and demanding that they be his friend, although his rate of success is nothing to write home about. I guess what I like it is that it never occurs to him that he might fail. Now, when he does homework, or tries something new, I’ve seen him paralyzed by all of the What If’s regarding failure, but when it comes to other people, there’s no thought in his mind other than wanting to share a moment with another human being. Maybe I’ll wind up learning something from him, after all. I mean, the odds are that at least one of us has got to be a decent teacher.
It was nice to have a little day off yesterday, even if I didn’t really get much of a chance to relax. I got to host a compulsory playdate for my son and his friend while all the other grownups were at work. Mostly they just hit each other, and then tattled on one another. This happened off and on for a few hours until I had had enough, and then I decided that what everyone needed was some sunlight and fresh air. If we were living on the Island, I would have just sent them off to play down on The Walk, but we live near Richmond, California, and there are times when even I don’t feel comfortable going out alone. Poverty and poor decisions (from a limited set to begin with) have a tendency to fold back upon themselves and hone a violent sort of survival instinct, and while I do not blame the victim, I’m also aware of my surroundings. And when it comes to kids under ten years of age, attention is not a quality they possess in any quantity, except for when commercials are blaring and they see a toy that they absolutely have to have.
I decided that it seemed slow enough of a Thursday that I might be able to drop off my son’s prescription without having to wait half an hour in a frighteningly static line, so we all got ready, and walked the half mile to Walgreen’s. And when I say that we all got ready, I mean that my son threw a temper tantrum for the better part of an hour, declaring through rage, streaming boogers, and tears that he didn’t want to go, and that we should just leave him here all alone. Surprisingly, it was his sister who wound up saving the day, finding a way to get him settled down and out the door. It was surprising, not because she lacks maternal instinct (which she does not), but because, in any given moment, the two of them are usually locked into some sort of screaming match. There is a certain jealousy, I think, which exists between siblings separated by over a decade and a half, although that animosity is usually felt most strongly by the older sibling. The younger one will usually shoot back with, “You’re not the boss of me!” or “You’re not my Mom (or Dad)!”, while the older sibling spends the quiet hours wondering what they might have done, and why they weren’t enough. It’s hard to go from the center of attention to taken for granted, and this dynamic can frustrating for everyone involved. It is nice to have some help, though.
I don’t really talk a lot about my daughter. Usually, we spend our time sniping at one another, and jockeying for control of every little situation. Biologically, I am not her real dad, but in every conceivable way, she is my little girl. It is actually because of her that I am convinced that I will someday unlock the secrets of time travel, if only so that I can go back and date her mother in the fading light of the 1980’s, thereby tying up loose ends, and explaining why she’s so much like me. We’ll argue for weeks on end, passive aggressively engaging in a type of warfare reminiscent of Sherman’s March. I almost feel bad for my wife and son-in-law, as they are, for the most part, fairly normal people who don’t deserve this type of well-oiled insanity. But we are the lights which burn so brightly that we cannot help but singe the soaring wings of moths drawn to our flames. Also, and I have this on good authority, it turns out that crazy people are just fantastic lovers. Unfortunately, we also tend to be utter crap when it comes to the simple stuff that all you normals never give a second thought. But that tends to be the way of things.
I don’t think that I could make it through the nonsense of any given day without the grounded support of my wife, and I know for a fact that, despite their occasional squabbling, my son-in-law and daughter are good for one another. Life isn’t easy, and it’s important to find someone with whom you can just be yourself. My wife is my rock, my solid foundation upon which I may set down the burden of my crazy, if only for a little while, and I am the spice which adds extra depth to her days. But, like most spicy things, I tend to inspire gastrointestinal distress and I’m not nearly as much fun the next morning. I think that if I hadn’t found a way to draw out laughter from amidst the tears, we would have finished years ago. As it is, there are times that I can see something stirring just behind my wife’s Market Spice eyes that gives me pause, and makes me wonder if today is the day that the world will fall down around me. And then she’ll blink, and that shadow upon her soul will disappear, and life will return back to the baseline normal we’ve established over these past nine years.
In case you guys were wondering, we didn’t wind up making it to Walgreen’s. Their phone lines and registers were down, and their manager posted outside to turn everyone away. The worst part, however, was that I had a code for a free rental at Redbox, and the next closest kiosk was farther than I really cared to walk. There’s a limit to how much something free is worth, and honestly, $1.64 is not an amount for which I would do a whole hell of a lot. So we wound up meeting my wife at the Grocery Outlet on the other side of town (about half the distance to the nearest Redbox), and picking up some snacks to make a little picnic in the new park they just put in. It gave us grownups the chance to plant our butts on benches, and let the kids run wild in a moderately contained area. On the way over, of course, David and his friend practically jumped out in front of a car in the parking lot of a Mexican supermarket, and I don’t know who more freaked out: the driver or myself. I really wish that kids would pay even the slightest bit of attention, as is seems that they have no instinct for self-preservation whatsoever. They do seem to have a seemingly unlimited supply of dumb luck, however.
We managed to make it through the rest of the afternoon without incident, either traffic or temper related. Our friend picked her son up, and my wife, daughter, and grandson took off for Berkeley to check out some Dollar Store deals. I was left hanging out with David, so I cooked us up some burgers, and we hung together and watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? until it was time for bed. At this point, I’m just going to lie, and say that everything went smoothly on the slumber front, as I really don’t want to get into it (and my son is reading this over my shoulder). I guess I’ll just say goodbye for now, and that I’ll see you all tomorrow.
There’s just something about a storm that brings out the spark of life in me. When the wind picks up, and the clouds race in to mass just above me, and the tiny drops of rain come flying in on a slant, followed by a rolling thrum of thunder and cascading shower of lightning bolts illuminating the darkened, purple night about me, I cannot help but feel so amazingly alive, like an abrasion of consciousness wrapped around my mortal frame of flesh and bone. I’ve always loved a good storm. They’re not so terribly impressive, here in the Bay Area, at least not anymore. I remember a few years ago when we could count on a couple of baby monsoons or so, but since then, the weather has been painfully uncomfortable for an Emerald City boy like myself. What rain we do get is primarily for show, and on the off-chance that it’s anything substantial, it just floods the streets and drains back out into the Bay. I have to say that I miss the weather on the Island where I used to live, and that growing up on a little rock in the Puget Sound raised the bar on miserable squalls.
I remember a ferry ride during a particularly brutal tempest, out on the Seattle-Bainbridge run. The boat was rocking side to side, just out of rhythm with blasts of lightning and kettle drums. And of course, this was shortly after Titanic had splashed into the cinemas, and the local papers had been making note of our ferry service’s similar deficiency in life-saving apparatus. I myself enjoyed the ride, and almost fell asleep. This was before the nanny-state surveillance which followed in the wake of 9/11, when the worst thing that would happen to you was winding up back where you started. And then there were the summer storms, when the drops dripping downward had been gently warmed by the rising waves of heat, and fell upon you like a silken shower to wash all of your worries down the dipping hills to drain into the rocky beach. It seemed that every August, I would find a way to re-enact that scene from Shawshank, albeit without the obligatory crawl through five football fields of shit smelling foulness I also could not imagine. The best that I can get in California is the occasional wafting fragrance of all those crawls that I managed to avoid.
I’ve been reading for years about how California is running out of water, and seen myself that we’ve managed to completely fail to make up years of falling reservoirs due to obnoxiously clement weather all year round. I’ve joked around with some of my friends still living in the Great Northwest about the possibility that I might return, but the Evergreen State itself isn’t in the best of shape. It terrifies me to think about a world in which my son and grandchildren will have to go to war over something as basic as H20. Once-prime real estate will be deserted as no one can live without access to water. Well, almost deserted. I can easily imagine gangs in stillsuits roaming the ostentatious paradise we once called San Diego. The Magic Kingdom will begin to crumble, and the animatronic army will secretly start its fortifications of the theme park empire of the West Coast. They will have some success, but by the time that they are able to communicate with Orlando, that capitalistically sacred land will have sunk beneath the sea. And we will observe a moment of silence for America’s wang.
What would be so hard about ensuring a world which future generations might enjoy? I know that it seems un-American to suggest something other than the Almighty Dollar has any intrinsic value, but I am now a father, and I’d like my offspring to have a chance at some sort of life that they actually might enjoy. I know that luxury is not a basic right of life, as any of the animals who died so that I might have something upon which to nibble could attest, but I believe that they possess the chance to find unhappiness as cogs within a giant, uncaring machine, as long as it allows them to buy all the newest, coolest gadgets. All joking aside, every time we go back up north, I make sure to walk around with David William, down the beaches, and up the wooded hills, through the forests and the fields. He’s been a city boy for his entire life, and I like to see him take in nature, cherish it, and fall in love with the sheer beauty of it all. He’s seen the urban jungle, and the clouds of smog between us and the view, so I know that when he gets the chance to breathe in air that doesn’t taste of car exhaust and the bitterness of broken dreams, he can appreciate just how wonderfully special those moments truly are.
The storm has finally come now, with gusting bursts of wind and rain drizzling down without conviction, rather like an afterthought. It rained last night as well, moistening the asphalt in the wee hours before the dawn, but once the sun had risen, all traces of the rains had fled, as the clouds flew toward the corners of the heavens, to reveal a pale blue elegy of sky. Sitting by the window, as I type these very words, I can hear the dripping on the roofs and cars throughout the neighborhood, like a hundred sinks with leaky faucets displayed just feet from where I’m sitting. Maybe I’m just getting all sentimental because I’m not used to being conscious at 2:30 in the morning, or maybe it’s because I simply miss the beauty of the land where I grew up. I came down here because of palm trees, and because I missed my best friend terribly. Of course, he’s back living in Seattle, and I’m stuck here with the palm trees and the loneliness.
All the years that I’ve been here in California, I haven’t really made the time to make new friends to replenish all the people whom I’ve lost. I know a couple of people who’ve been kind of close throughout the years, but like all family, I only see them once or twice a year. I could count Nerdenn Events, but he’s now my son-in-law, and my roommate, to boot. I don’t have anyone like Fed and Bad Leon, and they are both hundreds of miles away. The problem is that I was always working, and only had time to hang out with people on my way home from work, but once I got promoted, and ran the whole damn show, I’d found I’d lost the time I had allotted to get to know the revolving door of tolerable acquaintances. There are a couple of folks whom I still chat with, who know me well enough that I hope I never piss them off, but I don’t know that I would feel too comfortable calling them in the dead of night to whinge on regarding my recurring bouts of melancholy.
When I moved down here, I was young and full of hope. It’s been a dozen years now, and let’s just say that things haven’t quite turned out like I had been expecting. Restaurants were never my idea for a lifelong career choice, and I’d figured that by now I would have become a world-famous author. I have a wife and son, a daughter and a grandson, and a son-in-law who isn’t all that bad; for someone who always wanted a family of his own, that’s like hitting a home run. But with the lot of us squeezed into a two-bedroom apartment, bouncing off one another and always getting in the way, that sense of closeness feels, at times, like a pillow gently laid upon the mouth of a quadruple amputee. And despite being so smothered by attention that I feel sure that I’ve expired, there is a creeping sense of isolation which has overtaken me and made me miss my friends. It could just be that I’d like to have a conversation in my native tongue that didn’t involve children’s shows or bedtime. Or maybe it’s just that I am completely exhausted, and I tend toward thoughts of sorrow when I’m up so late and all alone. I’d say that I’ll feel better in the morning, but I have a sinking feeling that my son will want to wake me up and make me play with him.
And speaking of my one and only, I know that I am hard on him, and that I spend column yards on pointing out his foibles. But I love him so much that there are times that I am certain he has trampled through my heart. What a mind, that kid of mine does have, and the irritating qualities so prominently on display are due, in no small part, to a combination of genetics and my training him in rhetoric and the joy of The Debate. His confrontational attitude is a constant source of muscle spasms (mostly centered in my neck), but I would rather teach him how to think rather than just forcing him to parrot what I think. Years ago, I told him that if he could lay out a case before me, using logic and what reason he could muster, I would hear him out, and if he did his job right, there was a chance that I would change my mind. I also warned him that there would be times when he would perform magnificently and yet still fall just short of swaying me. But do you know, in the almost eight years that he’s been alive, he’s managed to argue me into overturning two of my prior edicts. That may not seem like all that much, but when I consider that we still use rubber sheets when he sleeps with us in bed, I’m even more impressed. Yessir, that child of mine is something else.
I think that I have rambled long enough. Thank you for indulging me as I shifted between weather and disappointment, nostalgia and parental pride. I’ll be back again this evening with another report from Spring Break ’15.
Somehow my son gets yet another week away from school, which for him is the ultimate adventure, but for me is more akin to a contest of endurance. Today has been everything which I had imagined that it would be, from the temper tantrums to the unreasonable demands and a lack of desire to put anything in one’s mouth that wasn’t primarily sugar. And that’s just me. David managed to top my insolence, and transform it from the flailings of a well-practiced amateur to the finely-honed craftsmanship of a true master. My only hope is that some day my curse will fall upon his shoulders, and he will sire a son who tests his patience with a dedication that feels not entirely unlike “enhanced interrogation.” I realize that I have brought this upon myself, in so many ways, but it just seems so… unfair that I am forced to relive the highlights of my youth, but in the third person. I guess the main difference between David and myself is that, while we both wholeheartedly believe that we are always right, reality has shown that it is I who holds mastery over the never-ending bag of I told you so‘s.
I get another week of this, which means that I will probably need some sort of therapy by nightfall this coming Sunday. When dealing with almost anybody else with whom I don’t agree, I can simply cut them out completely from the fabric of my life. This has even worked on several occasions when dealing with my mother. But I cannot do this with my son, no matter how tempting it may seem at times. Even if I didn’t know exactly how it felt to grow up without a father, I would feel obligated to remain. It is my job to teach him how to harness his tendencies toward assholery, that he might at least superficially function somewhere deep within society. And if I am not here to face the whirlwind of his madness and help it to dissipate, then there is the chance that it never will, and he will be a hurricane of madness sweeping through all the lives thereafter which he touches, never really knowing why it is that no one has ever invited him to stay. I would say that there is a chance for self-containment upon his realization that girls (or boys, for I judge not) exist, but then I think back to how calmly I was able to navigate the streams of life whilst hopped up on a steady stream of hormones, and I suddenly feel pity for that spinning ball of energy: all alone and horny, with nary a couch to rest upon.
Of course, it’s my job to see the worst, while constantly keeping watch for signs of commendable behavior. I may call him out on bullshit with a whiplash’d frequency, but I also make sure to point out all the times he gets it right, so that he has third-party verification of his success. Inside that head of his, adorned by ketchup and so thick I wonder why his neck has not yet broken, is a mind that constantly amazes me, both in its agility and camouflaged ability. Fed has said of him that he is either “a genius or completely retarded.” My wife, and most people who don’t think we should go around referring to children as “retards” are offended by the comment. But I can see the truth of it. Like his father, David is in negative possession of an overwhelming quantity of common sense. He can grasp the most complicated concepts, far beyond his age, but cannot remember to flush the toilet or turn off the bathroom light once he has finished. Like me, he cannot seem to understand the most basic human concepts. The stupid things he does are not a product of any deficiency other than their own: if something is too simple, he will discount the obvious answer, and wind up overthinking everything until he breaks down in tears. Or I do.
Bad Leon is slightly more understanding, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because he’s trying to instigate a full-scale revolution with The Minkey at the head. Bad Leon is a great uncle for David to have around, as everyone should know someone who can easily add context to their parents’ delusions of control, and help a younger generation come to understand that grownups are full of shit. It’s a shame that Mr. Suave had to go and get himself stuck in the middle of Montana, as I think that it would be nice to have him around on various occasions. I would totally be willing to forgive a certain level of subversion if it meant that I could actually embark upon an uninterrupted date night with my wife slightly more often than every other anniversary (and a half). Well that, and I could finally unearth the Rock Band paraphernalia. Sadly, I am referring to the plastic guitars that wirelessly connect to my Xbox 360, and not anything slightly more befitting of a washed-up poet and the bass player from… I don’t know… some band or something in the middle of Montana.
What I’d like to know is when, exactly, do I get my Spring Break? I mean, besides the small vacation which I take between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Monday through Friday when school is in session. And the time I’ve taken off since Thanksgiving so that I could knock off all the dust and rust and try my hand at wordsmithing. But apart from all of that, when do I get mine? I need a vacation from my “vacation.”
Oh, what to do! At least my son-in-law, Nerdenn Events, is off tomorrow. Maybe he can take The Minkey and Cream Soda on a little expedition, and I can sleep in for a little, and then work on a couple of things. And if that fails, at least I have a show to go to on Wednesday night. I think that I’ve exhausted all my complaining for the day. I’m sure that I will have a whole new set of irritations to share with everyone tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone!
Last night, the three of us went to the birthday party of the daughter of my wife’s co-worker. Normally, I pass on these types of events, as most of the time, I am the only one who speaks English, and my wife and son are the only people who I actually know. But when I saw that Flor had gotten all dressed up (with makeup and everything!), I decided that I should probably tag along, at least for the sake of appearances. I threw on a suit, and was ready to go when our ride arrived. Years ago, when I started working mornings, I had the perfect excuse of needing to get up early, and normally Mexican birthday parties keep rocking until well after midnight. Actually, based on my experiences, they don’t even really get going until the sun’s gone down. I’m not implying that Latinos are some sort of vampiric entities, but I’ve never seen a birthday party happen in direct sunlight. Putting aside all of my misgivings, I hopped up into the car which came for us, ready for the evening, and knowing that I had a decent chance of getting enough sleep. There are always bouncy houses at these parties, and I knew that if David played hard enough, he might be so exhausted upon our arrival back at home, that he’d sleep a proper number of hours, and perhaps not wake up at the crack of dawn. Sadly, he did, but that is nothing new.
For those of you not intimately familiar with children’s birthday parties in Latino culture, let me run them down for you:
First, the mother spends an ungodly amount of money on the rental of the bouncy house, chairs and tables, and a DJ (This is not because the fathers do not care, or feel that it is women’s work, but rather, they have made the argument (and lost) that there is no need to spend upwards of $200 just to set the stage for a party for a toddler).
The mother then spends most of the day of the event preparing enough food to feed upwards of fifty people, and calling on her friends to make and brings several other dishes as well.
She will begin to grow agitated when no one shows up at the time she has announced, fretting about social standing until her guests begin to trickle in, in what I can only assume is an attempt to arrive fashionably late… to a children’s party.
The mother will then proceed to not sit down for the remainder of the evening, flitting here and there, always rotating through the crowd in an attempt to make sure that everyone is having a good time. Just like small child to whom the party is ostensibly dedicated, she will not remember anything about it.
There will always be too much food left over at the party’s conclusion, so everyone will have a doggy bag thrust upon them.
There is a disturbing trend toward alcoholism at these events. The budget for beverages is usually around $10 for sodas, and $40 for beer, and there’s always that one dude who drinks an entire box of Corona all by himself. The first time I ever came to one of these, I was shocked at how much alcohol was being consumed. At a party for a kid.
No matter how exhausted the hosts have become, they are honor bound to keep the party going until the final guest has finally found a clue, and decided to depart.
The mother will then look out upon the chaos that once was her backyard, and suffer a moment of paralysis at the sheer magnitude of work facing her when she wakes up in the morning.
You may have noticed that I was only writing about the mothers. This is because most of the fathers I have spoken to, would rather spend the money on gifts for their children, instead of competing to win the title of Event of the Season. I’ve had this argument with my wife, every year that my son has been alive. Every year, she almost kills herself making everything absolutely perfect, just to see an underwhelming turnout, an overwhelming mess, and a checkbook that is reduced to whimpering for mercy. And every year she tells me that she finally sees what I was going on about, and how next year, she’s going to do something smaller, for just the family. But I know that her convictions will begin to fade by April of the next year, as the weather warms, and she begins to feel that she needs to show the other moms just how much better of a mother she is. I’ve learned my lesson, after all these years, and now just shut my mouth, and offer what help I may provide. There is nothing that I can say which could possibly change her mind, so I’ve decided that I’d rather not get into a fight with her when passions are running that high.
For me, I’d rather just buy a cake and a goodly amount of toys, and tell my son that I loved him, and then hit the sack at a reasonable hour. I’m trying to learn all the ins and outs of the culture which I’ve married into, but there are so many levels to everything they do, that I feel like watching telenovelas is a form of basic training. I am not cut out for all of this political posturing, as anyone who’s ever worked with me will readily attest. I have neither the time nor patience to play politics, especially when dealing with the nebulous dance of social status. I appreciate the family aspect to the Latin culture, but I also like small, non-mandatory events which end on the same day in which they began. I like getting dressed up and going out with my wife, but not if it’s only to hang out in someone’s backyard to be bitten by mosquitoes.
I don’t know if I will ever truly understand where my wife is coming from. As she is so fond of saying, we are from completely different worlds. But I love her, and every time we do something, it’s an opportunity to learn something new. I moved two states away from my family, and enjoy the distance, but Flor is an entire country distant, and I can see that these little get-togethers are her way of beating back despair. And showing all her friends just how a party should be done. Oh, and if you will be in the Bay Area this summer, please drop me a line. I have a feeling that the Event of the Season may be happening toward the end of June, at least that what my instincts tell me.
Today I was reminded of just how old I truly am. A little boy who I once helped to raise has just turned 28. And another little boy whom I have known since the day of his birth just asked me if there were cars when I was younger. It seems that I cannot escape the march of time, or the inevitable karmic payback of things which I once said when I thought that I was being clever. My youth keeps coming back to poke me in the eye, and I can only sit and watch it happen with a little smile across my face. It’s times like these that make me think that maybe my time has come and gone, and that perhaps the moment has arrived for me to shelve my old ambitions and look forward to the future. And then I think that The Boy isn’t really all that much younger than myself, only David’s age difference between us, and he’s too busy being an amazing person to want to change the world. He is the type of person who will lead by example, which is the change for which I’ve advocated, but I don’t think that he’d like all the attention that comes with starting a cultural revolution. And David can barely make it the length of a commercial break without losing all focus entirely. But enough about my failed dreams and lack of accomplishments.
When I first met The Boy, I was coming over to hang out with his sister. This was just before I wound up calling in a favor, and changing my permanent address to that location. Here came this little kid, though I suppose not so little as I saw him at the time, running up the driveway and demanding that I pick him up and swing him around. I’ve never understood what it is, exactly, that makes kids love that particular type of play. I myself shrink back in terror at the very notion of someone grabbing me and swinging me around, robbing me of control over myself, and the gentle tug of gravity. And yet The Boy could never get enough, nor David, nor my grandson, for that matter. They all kept demanding that I play until the moment that I physically couldn’t anymore. That time is coming for my grandson far sooner than I’d care to admit, but at least for a little while longer I can still scoop him up and spin him wildly until we both feel just a little green.
But what strikes me most, is are memories of a conversation that I once had with The Boy regarding his homework, and how he wasn’t doing it. I’ve been having the same conversation with my son lately, and, like The Boy, he also has been diagnosed with ADHD. It seemed odd to me that I was the one, of all people, to have to lecture another human being about the necessity of bowing to the pressures of the busywork. I was the kid who would blow off weeks of homework and then stroll into the classroom to ace the test. I knew the material, but I never had even the slightest inclination toward wasting my time on repetition. Time has taught me that me that there was more important lesson hidden somewhere in the rows of nonsense, and I would have been better served to learn just how to ignore the boredom and get the homework done. I hadn’t figured that out the first time that I had to sit somebody down and try to convince them to do what I could not, but I know it in my bones this time.
All in all, though, The Boy didn’t turn out too bad. He’s living life more beautifully than I ever had the courage to even truly begin considering. Sure, I’ve moved hundreds of miles away from where I once ran free, but I fell into the trap of doing all the things which I was supposed to do, and setting aside what mattered in favor of another dream. I had the chance to have the family which I never could when I was just a boy, and I took it because I’d finally found out what it was that I was after. I don’t think that the couple of years that I spent with The Boy when I was learning how to be a man, and practicing to be a Dad, could have influenced him all that deeply, but it is my hope that a little of the dream which I once dreamed might have inspired him just a little to seek out the man he would become, and never sacrifice himself to for anything that wasn’t worth it. I’m not saying that my sacrifices weren’t of value, just that I never seemed to have made a bargain which had unexpected consequences.
Am I happy? In so many ways, I must admit that I am indeed. But there is a part of me that misses the freedom that I once had to go and see the world, not that I ever really did. I have what I have always dreamed that I might have: a family. I grew up in a home torn apart by the statistics of divorce, and I swore that if I ever married, it would last forever. That means, however, that I cannot run off on wild flights of fancy whenever the mood may strike me. I am needed here at home, and, more than that, have no desire to disrespect the bonds my wife and I have forged together. So instead, I settle for a little thrill in hearing of The Boy’s adventures as he travels across the country in search of what it means to be alive. I don’t believe that there is just one answer to the questions life is asking. I’ve found several, both as a father, and as a husband. And these past few months, I’ve rediscovered what my writing has always sought to tell me.
On this day, the twenty-eighth anniversary of my good friend’s birth, I wish him nothing but the best, and hope that his travels might lead him back here once more, as I’ve found that I kind of miss him. Like a blur, the memories are overwhelming, but of him, they are all pleasant. As I look toward the man my own son may become, I have no better example of a good and decent human being to show him than The Man which The Boy has become. Happy Birthday, Homunculus! Be well, and try to do something fun.
I am enjoying a surge in readership, which has led me to believe that an hour’s worth of writing cannot possibly justify twelve hours of obsessing over the site stats. I figured that I would be more at ease seeing that I was reaching a wider audience, but it turns out that I only fall deeper down the rabbit hole. Suddenly, what would have been inconceivable just a couple of weeks ago, has become commonplace, and as I breeze past milestone after milestone, it becomes not about the people whom I have just reached, but rather, how much further I can watch the numbers climb. I’d like to say that the game is over now, and that I’m back to writing as if no one else was listening, but somewhere there is a Site Stats page open which I am constantly refreshing. It’s really been fun, these past couple of days, reaching people all across the world, but now the time has come for me to sit back down and work on something different. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read what I have written, and I hope that you continue to come back on your future journeys through the interwebs.
Now back to real life and reality (for once, not mutually exclusive!). Today my new stove is coming (I’m assuming that means the entire oven, but you never know), and I’m excited that I will once again be able to cook with ease. We’ve been dealing with the limitations of cooking with only one functional burner, and it has forced me to a level of efficiency that feels entirely unwholesome and unnatural. I’m the type of cook who likes to time everything just right, and use up several pots and pans, as each recipe demands. With only one working burner, I’ve had to plan things out so that I can run it like a timeshare and, to my credit, it hasn’t been a complete disaster. But now I get to play with a full set for the time in months, and it disturbs me just how much I want to whip something up just so that I can be the first to break in each and every element. That probably speaks volumes about me, but I don’t care. I get to be lazy as a cook again!
Now if only parenting were easier. My son’s counselor thinks that it is great that I am reflecting on my past, using my prior points of view to come up with strategies on how to be a better parent. I keep trying to tell her that I’m not sure, exactly, what good it’s supposed to do, as no one figured out how to be an effective parent once I became the embodiment of rebellion. The only thing that I have going for me is that I am at least as stubborn as my precious child, and I’ve had decades more experience to guide me. I knew that teaching David to question everything would come back to bite me, but I never imagined that I’d see the gapped teeth marks (as he’s been losing baby teeth) so soon. I swear, the only things he’s really lacking are discipline and time. He’s got a raw intelligence that makes me nervous on my best days, and a matching lack of anything resembling even the barest hint of common sense. It looks like my mother is getting her revenge, after all. I think that when the time comes, I’ll send myself off to boarding school, and let him stay at home. Sometimes it’s just easier to move house than it is to face cleaning up your messes.
Shannon Buxton, a friend and mentor, said recently, in response to what I wrote about the Teen Center, “I stand by my belief that teens are not broken and therefore do not need to be fixed.” I know that this is true, but it takes an amazing amount of patience to guide them through their formative years, and I look forward to sending the Minkey up to spend a summer (or several) with his Auntie Shannon who has so graciously volunteered to not fix him. That was a bit tongue-in-cheek, obviously, but I do hope that I can have him spend a little time with her when he is older, as she is able to interact with kids as if they were actually people, and I think that sometimes parents get so caught up in trying to make sure that their kids don’t wind up serial killers that we forget that (eventually) our kids might have something they can teach us, if we’re only willing to stop and listen. That’s easier said than done, of course. There’s only so many times that I can listen to stories about a video game that I was watching my son play before I starting twitching uncontrollably.
I feel like my son and I will wind up like Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and not just because I am bald (and the first impression I ever did was of Mr. Connery), and David is afraid of snakes. Maybe it’s something that all fathers and sons go through which I missed out on because I didn’t get to know my dad. I just feel like by the time he grows into his own skin, and is capable of thought which isn’t directly influenced by raging hormones (or, as they are currently: sugar), it will be time for him to go out into the world, and I will find that I miss him more than I had thought possible. I think I’ll have to look back at this in a decade or so, and see if knowing what would happen made it any easier to live through. If his childhood is any indication, I do not think it will.
UPDATE: The new oven is here, but cannot be connected, as the wall outlet is for a dryer, apparently, and this new oven will not plug in correctly. Instead of replacing the outlet, the owner has told me that he’s just going to replace the power cord, thereby voiding the warranty. I don’t know. I’m not an owner, nor am I a licensed electrician, but I feel like it would just be easier to replace the outlet than perform surgery on a perfectly functional appliance. The downside to all of this is that we have been reduced to microwaving everything we wish to eat at temperature warmer than the room in which we’re sitting. Good thing Flor bought a couple more boxes of cereal yesterday!
Welcome back to the fifth and final installment in the After Dark: A Blast From The Past series. Chapter One dealt with the beginnings of my blog on Myspace until around the time that I began to (biologically) be a dad. Chapter Two focused on the news of Flor’s pregnancy (through the end of ’06), and my coming to terms with my own Dad. Chapter Three finished out my son’s gestation and welcomed him into the world. Chapter Four was mostly me whinging on about the fact that I had no idea what it was that I was doing as a father. Each of those chapters focused on just a couple of months or so, and that was alright, as there was a whole lot going on. But for this final installment, we’re going to be covering a lot of ground. This chapter is dealing with events from October, 2007 until the end of my old blog in April of 2009. But before you become discouraged, and bookmark this page to read when you’ve got a free week or two, just know that I wasn’t writing a whole lot back then, and that I only chose a few posts to share with you. Let’s get started…
Life within the Cave of Batmart
October 17th, 2007
So it’s time to give an update on the monkey. I’m sorry if any of you are uninterested or already bored with baby stories, but too bad. It’s either that or work stories, and no one, myself included, feels like hearing those.
Today’s subject is poop. I realize that he is on a liquid diet (one rather unlike those of his irish ancestors), but nothing is quite so daunting as facing a diaper full of a multicolored stew. It’s especially appalling if it’s taken me a while to decipher his grunts and cries, and he’s managed to spread the goo all about himself, his clothes, and everything near him. He is a poop artist and the world is his canvas.
We have been developing a rudimentary form of communication. He cries, and I begin to question him as to why. For example:
David: (Pathetic moaning) Me: What’s wrong sweetheart? David: (Face scrunched up, pathetic moaning upgrades to soft wail) Me: Are you hungry? David: (Hits my eye with his razor sharp claw, continues to moan) Me: David, please don’t hit daddy in the- David: (Puts his fist in my mouth, and stares at me, whimpering) Me: (After removing his hand, with only minimal cuts along my gums) Mucho pee pee? Mucho pee pee? David (Apparently understanding the first time, rolls onto his side and places his butt near my face. Wailing continues) Me: What is that? Old cheese? Oh god… did you? David: (Stops for a moment, tears welling in his eyes) Me: Mucho poo poo? Eres un poposo? Are you my little poop monster? David: (Smiles, punches me in the head, grabs my hair and pulls)
It was a Poo Stain. And colorful. It must have been like a quart of it. And of course, the second I start undoing the diaper, he rams his feet directly toward the primordial ooze, like a deity unsatisfied with his creation. So I grab his legs with one hand, and try to mop up the… okay, I’m running out of colorful metaphors… shit.
The whole ordeal takes just a few minutes, but leaves an irrevocable scar. On me. So gross. I mean, I know that his diet is directly influencing the nature of the… grossness, but, I mean, after thousands of years of human evolution, would it be too much to ask that maybe it come out in sort of pellets… I mean, not like Milk Duds, that might hurt him, but maybe like a warm Tootsie Roll. Something easy.
And another thing: Why is it that he can’t multitask? I mean, I’ll toss a couple pee rags out, and he’s fine. But when I change his poo pants, he waits until he’s cleaned, baby wiped, and powdered and then goes nuts with number one. I mean, what the hell is the deal there? He feels uncomfortable soiling himself while he is himself, already soiled?
Okay, enough of the nappies. I have one more anecdote to share.
So, I’ve been calling him “Monkey” since before he was born. Initially Flor was livid with me, insisting that he was a beautiful baby (and before she’d even seen him, no less). And then he was born, albeit without a tail, and indeed, aside from boobs, he was the most beautiful thing I’d seen. And then I noticed all the hair on his upper back. And lower back. And the back of his ears. And his eyebrows, while still defining themselves, are already threatening to become one.
No son of mine will bear the name of unibrow.
So one day, I was bored, and he was distracted by something shiny and/or noisy. I grabbed him gently by the ears and pulled them forward. Lo and behold I found a balding chimpanzee staring back at me.
I love him. I just wish he’d smell a little less like a broken fridge during a summer heat wave.
I think I was handling the adjustment quite well, thank you very much. At least I could find the humor at the bottom of a dirty diaper. That’s something, anyway. The next post was one of those “Tag” things that we did to all our friends that seems to have not fully made the transition over to Facebook. I’m only going to include some of them, as I find them amusing.
The Random Tag Blogger Strikes Again
October 25th, 2007
1) I hope to be living in Mexico next year and writing my books.
2) My first adult relationship was with a woman 19 years my senior.
Her 1st husband was 19 years her senior.
3) I am more or less happily married (without the married part), but I’m kind of terrified that I’ll wind up a widower and in 11 years time, dating someone half my age.
4) My first encounter with someone very special to me, and very important in shaping the nature of the man I was to become, involved him telling me to pick him up and spin him around.
5) I own both seasons of Thundercats on DVD (all 4 sets). I can now justify this by virtue of being a father.
6) This is my 100th blog post.
7) Sometimes I miss my friends so very much. Both friends from long ago, and friends I’ve just recently slipped through my fingers.
8) I was a father twice. But one of my children I was fated never to meet, as his mother ended both the pregancy and the relationship. (Both happened within weeks of meeting the man she would leave me for).
Side note: She was my employee when we got together, and when she transferred to another restaurant, she left me for her employee.
Addendum: When that location closed, I was forced to absorb their employees into mine, and so her new boyfriend became my line cook. I hate people.
9) Some day I would love to be able to fly out everyone special from every time in my life to meet my wife and son. I still suffer from the Bi-Polar Bears, but any of you who have known me would be able to see that I am, at least on some instinctual level, actually happy now. What a trip.
[Fed] and I were once considering sending out junk mail with the following important notice:
YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON A GOAT!
See? I can do lighthearted! Also, wow. I thought that I’d be living in Mexico by 2008…. And speaking of things that I just cannot let go:
101 Best Ways to Romanticize The Past
November 6th, 2007
Okay, so we are on Blog Number 101. I would like to thank everybody who reads this (all 5 of you) and for doing so often. Just a few numbers:
Out of 100 blogs, I received 82 comments, 41 Kudos, and 2666 views. I almost feel special.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that seems like a ridiculous number of views per post. Maybe it’s just because I’m only up to 700 with this one, and the writing is far more consistent and generally better, but I’m a little jealous of my numbers on MySpace, not that they were good for anything. Also, I want Kudos!
Things I Hate
January 15th, 2008
A Two-Party Political System
Christians who feel persecuted (Try being eaten by lions, then complain to me!), and who are, in fact, the most judgemental, hypocritcal, abhorrent wastes of life, seeking out ways in which we could make the world a better place, and destroying them (See also: Soulless corporations).
People who think that invading Iraq and building a border fence are good moves.
People who still find Reefer Madness to be educational (but not in the obvious, “Goverment Gone Wild” way).
People who say Bill Clinton ruined this country and George Bush is fixing it.
People who use the word “synergy” and mean it.
People who cannot accept that artists need a wife and a mistress.
My dad, for being an asshole and not even responding by post after I mailed him a letter announcing the birth of his grandson, and trying to reassure him I was not after any of the thousands of dollars in back child support that he never paid.
Not being able to put DVD library onto iTunes and my iPod.
Having to work 11 straight days, even if two of them were only meetings and, combined, lasted less than 4 hours- I had to put on pants: Not a day off.
Not having numbered these so I could tell if this is an appreciably large collection of gripes or merely minor bitchfest.
Customers who think by yelling at me or my employees, I will somehow change my mind (also related, people who bang on the door after close and demand to be granted entrance. Fuck you! We have had these hours for 2 1/2 years. Quit trying to be the last customer before close, because I can almost guarantee you that you won’t be).
Thinking up more things to be angry at.
… And yes, I did speak to my mother today, why?
Now, back to the Minkey!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
February 14th, 2008
So last night my son stabbed me in the eye with a Valentine’s Day card. I went to the ER today (apparently this did not qualify for the $20 Urgent Care visit), and was told I had a Corneal Abrasion. I think I said something like that last night. Missed today at work because the pain is unreal. I still can’t really see. Still love the minkey, though, but please, please please NO CARDS! He’s cut off until he develops motor control.
Now he just leaves them laying around everywhere. Best to just avoid them, honestly.
The next post skips ahead a bit until September of ’08. I’d left my job at McDonald’s a few months earlier and… well, let Young Batmart explain:
Back From The Dead
September 17th, 2008
So it’s been forever since I’ve written anything. Lots of stuff going on. Kind of.
I quit my job at McDonald’s almost 5 months ago, leaving due to a nasty case of ethics. The new owners at of our restaurant had, in the first week alone, fired all but one of our senior citizen lobby attendants, dismissed a developmentally handicapped lobby attendant / prep person, and let the Store Manager go as well.
They then began to terrorize remaining employees and managers (aside from myself), under the theory, we’d rather fire you, but if you quit, we’re not liable for unemployment. This is a disturbingly ubiquitous trend, which does not seem to have abated over these past six and a half years. I only stayed around for the time I did in a futile attempt to try and shield my people from this harassment. But as that didn’t work, and they cut my pay, began charging me for my health insurance, and insisting on transferring me to another location, I said enough was enough and left. No point in staying if I couldn’t do anything to help, and was getting screwed over in the process.
I figured it would be okay, as Flor, Minkey and I would be leaving for Mexico in a couple months, so I didn’t worry about finding a new job, figuring I could finally spend some time with my son. When we found out that we wouldn’t be getting the money Flor’s brother owed us, I began to worry a bit. But we already had tickets to go to Seattle to visit my family in mid June for the Minkey’s 1st Birthday, so I didn’t see a huge point in getting a job, only to start and then be gone for a week.
So we got back, and I slowly began trying to get jobs that I was interested in. They were less interested in me. I wan’t worried. Something would come through. Maybe the money from the brother in law would arrive.
Not so much.
August came, and I updated my resume on Monster, and immediately began receiving calls for phone interviews. For restaurant management jobs. That wanted me to have a car. In the Bay Area. What the hell?
And so we come to September. A little more desperate now. No one calling about my resume on Monster. My best shot is now a sports bar opening in a couple weeks. But to pass the time, I’m housecleaning. For those of you who didn’t know me 8-10 years ago, I used to do that. I vowed “Never Again.” The beauty of that is that now we need to pay for daycare again, and after factoring that in, I’m only bringing in like $10/day.
Also, in Monkey News:
So David can walk now. I left him on the floor in the bedroom and walked out into the backyard. He was about 30 seconds behind me, and when he emerged into the great outdoors, he had a neon green duffle bag around his neck, wearing it like a WWF championship belt (with neck strap) and holding an empty cranberry juice bottle in one hand, its cap in the other. He’s managed to dislodge a sock, and so it was like this that he came into view. I immediately ran inside and grabbed my camera and began taking photos of him that I will use to humiliate him when he’s getting ready to try to breed. It wasn’t until that he fell forward a bit that I noticed something.
Whether it was his carefree smile, or two rosy cheeks staring back at me, I realized that he was missing a key piece of clothing. I ran back inside, retracing his probable steps (and looking under furniture) until I came back to the bedroom, the exact spot where I’d left him. There it was, his diaper, laying on the floor next to the bed, looking as it had when I’d last seen it on him, save for the right side strap, which appeared battered and frayed and otherwise mangled, barely hanging on to the back of the diaper.
You should have heard the screams of protest when I firmly attached it back on him. Maybe he didn’t like the Duct Tape.
For those of you wondering, yes, I did find employment later that year. I went to work at Blondie’s Pizza in Berkeley. I then stayed at that job for nearly six years, until I felt that it was time to move on. And whereas my old blog sort of fell off after I quit my job, this new blog was born from the ashes of my most recent employment.
There are just a couple more snippets to go, mainly introducing things that I am still dealing with today.
Sometimes Life Is Not Enough
February 19th, 2009
Sorry I haven’t written anything here for hella. I kinda got hooked on the Twitter a little bit. Have been enjoying my new job at Blondie’s Pizza.
Oh- getting married on March 13th in a civil ceremony in Oakland, with a nice little gathering at my place on the 15th. Anyone living in the area or willing to pay for their own travel accommodations and lodging is welcome to attend. We are registered at iTunes.
There was no gathering. Fed and his brother were the only two people not related to either Flor or myself that made the effort to attend. Of course, one of the people who did attend our wedding was our beautiful daughter. She seemed thrilled.
And that brings us to our final post. Will you miss A Blast From The Past as much as I will? Actually, to be honest, I’m a little relieved not to have to keep reading through all of the old blogs. You guys are seriously getting the best. Out of 121 posts, I’ve only shared 43, and most of those have been edited to make me look at least somewhat sane. Oh, and then there’s the bonus stuff, I guess. Still, that’s only around a third of what I wrote. And I went through it all, just for you guys.
Hug Me, I’m Goddamn Cuddly!
April 13th, 2009
Tell me if you can figure this out.
She’s 19, lives at home, takes care of her infant brother by using my computer and watching my cable on my tv all goddamn day, eats all the food in the house, quadrupling our grocery budget, has a mother who buys her clothes, prepaid cards so she can call her friends in Mexico (when she’s not using Windows Messenger (which is never)), drinks MY BEER, makes it impossible for me to enjoy my days off, as I can no longer roam about the house without pants, isn’t working, isn’t going to school (in the interests of full disclosure, she’ll be starting an ESL class tomorrow, but that’s it!), refuses to leave the house, is afraid of making friends, even though she can easily overcome the language barrier with a frighteningly large proportion of the populace, as there are plenty of latinos here, and a large chunk of gringos speaking bad Spanish.
And here it comes…
When I was her age, I was busting my ass cleaning houses, helping take care of a kid over half my age (which was one of the only satisfying things to come out of those years). I had to watch the woman I love succumb to drug addiction, and lose everything. Again and agan. I was watching the worst in humanity that doesn’t involve murder. All of this culminated in a nervous breakdown.
And she’s stressed out.
We are getting along much better now. I think that motherhood has mellowed my daughter just a little.
So that’s it! A Blast From The Past has come to an end!
Thank you for spending your Thursdays with me, and I’ll see you all again real soon!
Somehow I’ve finally managed to wake up a little. It was touch and go for a little while, but I seem to be at least somewhat conscious now, so let’s get this thing going. After attempting at least six different posts, most of them about how I really need to sort through the hundreds of digital photographs I’ve got sitting on my hard drive, I managed to finally find a rhythm and get something written. It started out simply enough, a ridiculous sales pitch for a group of mythological creatures, but as I kept writing it, I discovered something soul-crushingly beautiful just beneath the surface. I don’t know what I will eventually do with it, but I think that I might have to fiddle with it a bit and see how much more I can tease out of it before going back to edit. It’s nice to know that I still have some new ideas floating around inside my brain. Most of the time, when I set out to write something, it turns into a tale of heartbreak and unrequited love, and to be honest, I’m kind of done with that. There are so many other types of disappointment which I’ve yet to cover that it seems a little foolish to only focus on that one.
Of course, I’m really good at starting stories, but notoriously bad at finishing them. I’m trying really hard not to build this one up too much in my head because I don’t want to let myself down too hard when I fail to finish it. I’m not sure if I’m being pessimistic or realistic, or simply looking for a way to get out of something so that I don’t have to do the one thing which I love more than any other. That’s not fair. I love sleeping the best. But right after that is definitely writing. Probably. It’s hard to say, really. I enjoy it more than I think I’m willing to admit to myself, but the reality is that I’m also far too eager to do anything else the moment that it begins to resemble work of any kind. One of the advantages to doing this blog is that, in forcing myself to write nearly every day (managing an average of a little over a thousand words a day, even taking into account the disturbingly high number of days off I seem to shower upon myself), I am able to get a flow going at some point, whereas before I might only get as far as glaring at my laptop in a silent rage for even existing. Now if only I could do the same for physical exercise.
Both my wife and I could stand to shed a couple dozen pounds or so, and it’s probably better to get started on that before our extra mass begins to cause irreparable damage to our frames and organs. And we’ll have to get fit as a team, because I’ve found that if it’s only one spouse getting thin, it’s usually not for their significant other. After a certain amount of time, you get used to one another, and the only reason you want to look good naked is because there is someone you are hoping to impress. And so my hatred of physical activity has come face to face with my fear of losing my wife to someone who has muscles (or who is, at the very least, in possession of a much smaller beer gut). I mean, I know that I will most likely begin to feel better once I’ve gotten rid of the extra poundage, but going to the gym means putting on pants and leaving the house. And that means that not only do I have give up my plans for doing absolutely nothing, but I actually have to follow throughon a completely different set of plans.
And suddenly my day has filled right up, and I feel like every moment has been carefully planned so as to insure that I don’t have even a moment of freedom to enjoy the simple pleasures of sloth. Mind you, I haven’t even started yet, and I’m already feeling this way. I suppose that it is a testament to my fear of change that even considering a different routine can incite a panic between my ears. I feel like maybe I should have been born a mountain, so that the only change is measured in ages, and no one would say anything negative about how big I was. And on the plus side, I am still completely enamored of the snow. It’s just a little embarrassing to realize that my two-year old grandson is more reasonable than me about certain, basic things. Then again, I don’t poop my pants, or randomly shout at shrubbery (at least, not in front of other people), so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad. Of course, the very fact that I’m pleased that I’m more mature than a two-year old under certain circumstances speaks volumes about my level of maturity. Whatever. Qué será, será. Así es la vida.
Okay, my arguments of procrastination may have just been invalidated. I just bent down to pick a toy up off the floor (from a comfortable, seated position in my chair), and had to spend a couple of minutes massaging my ribs until the pain dissipated. That’s kind of pathetic, even for me. I know that I’ve taken pride in being an old man for as long as I can remember (at least the past few minutes or so), but this level of eld is usually reserved for people who once lived through the 1950’s. I hate it when I have to take positive steps; it’s so much easier to just sit here and lob sarcasm at the world. But with a granddaughter on the way, and sixteen years until my grandson becomes a man, I suppose that I should make at least some progress toward the feasibility of my own survival. And my son most likely wouldn’t mind if I stuck around a bit longer.
And there it is, the motivational kick in the butt which I have been searching for: the faces of my son, and grandson, and an artist’s rendition of the little girl who will soon be popping into my life. Though the years before me are pressing down with a weight that I can barely contemplate, I would really like to see my son and grandchildren grow into the adults they are to become. That means that I’m going to have to learn to eat something besides junk food, and get serious about fulling switching away from tobacco, and get up off my fat ass and drag myself down to the gymnasium and break a sweat (and then start exercising). All the while I just want to scream out to the world that it’s not fair, but that seems a little hypocritical, or at least my son would think so. I guess that the time has come for me start acting like an adult, and let the grumpy old man inside me take a nap. But I swear I’m going to snap if those damned kids don’t get off my lawn!
And now, because you’ve all been so patient with me as I hash out the obvious, I’ll share the first couple of paragraphs from:
Flying Monkeys- Are They Right For You?
As I sit here in my evil lair, plotting world domination, I am surrounded by the constant flapping of monkey wings, and, to be honest, it’s just the slightest bit off-putting. Sure, I got a great deal on them, but no one ever warns you of the downsides to controlling an Air Force comprised of mutant primates. First of all, they smell like a cross between cabbage and misery, and it’s no good trying to get them in the bath, as there is nothing more frighteningly fierce and unpredictable than a moistened airborne monkey. Secondly, they never seem to know when to just shut the hell up. I’m almost glad I didn’t splurge on the translation helmets, as chirps and grunts are more than enough. Considering the things which I’ve seen them do, I’m certain that I don’t care to know what’s on their minds. And finally, there is the issue of the little monkey uniforms. I spent weeks designing something both practical and striking, but the effect is quickly negated when they refuse to put on pants. Sure, it adds a new level of terror to the battlefield, and is a subtle shift toward psychological warfare, but the fact is that it is also unprofessional, and I simply cannot tolerate that level of tomfoolery.
Now, don’t get me wrong: these winged fiends are an incredible investment. I have never seen a ceiling so free of cobwebs in my entire life. And the lot of them are just adorable beyond description as they scoot about with little brooms and dustpans cleaning up the lab. Sometimes, when I’m feeling just a little down, or in the rare moments when I am weakened by a longing for companionship, it’s nice to sit down on the couch and curl up with a minion and check out what is on T.V. A note of caution, however: Make sure that monkey knows that it is just a platonic snuggle, or there will be repercussions that neither of you had planned for. Winged monkeys can be a little jealous and possessive, so it’s best to maintain a certain degree of professional distance. That being said, if you can stand the smell, they are wonderful to cuddle, especially in the dead of winter. I know that I have saved hundreds of dollars on my heating bill by turning down the thermostat and grabbing a blanket and a monkey before I go to bed.
My only problem now, however, is that I’ve decided to retire from a life of ill intent, and as a private citizen, I will no longer be in a position to care for such a large cohort of flying monkeys. As I scale down my operations to something more manageable in the coming months, I really won’t have the time or resources to keep them healthy, and that’s where you come in. I’ve been talking to some people from down at the office, and they’ve had nothing but glowing reviews of you. A real up-and-comer, they tell me, diabolical and ruthless to the core. Let me tell you, when I was your age, I figured that I didn’t need anyone but me to make my mark upon the world, but I think I could have truly benefited from the help that only a winged monkey can provide. You don’t want to get so caught up in minor tasks that you never quite get around to bending the human race to your will. Seriously, kid, it’s too easy these days to get sidetracked, and then by the time you have everything up and running, you’ll find that whichever governmental agency you’re up against has already had time to get entrenched, and once that happens, not even a force two dozen monkeys strong can help you reach your objective.
As you can see, I need to go back and smooth over the tone a little, as it changes from infomercial to conversation a little clumsily, but I kind of like where it is heading. I don’t know. We’ll see.
UPDATES FROM YESTERDAY:
I still don’t have any news to report about my grandmother, but I’m hoping that a lack of information is a good thing. As soon as I hear something, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
By popular demand, I’m going to start putting the Featured Images at the end of these posts, as I’ve heard many people complaining that they wanted to see them without having to go to Facebook.