Tag Archives: fatherhood


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

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

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

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

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

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


After Dark: A Blast From The Past, Part Four

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

Updates from the Fatherland

August 23rd, 2007

3:23 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing prepares you

August 26th, 2007

2:44 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 4th, 2007

2:57 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful evening!

A Big Light Blur

I think my lungs have finally given notice. It looks like they are tired of the pressures that come with looking thirty percent cooler, and would like a shot at easy mode for at least a little while. This year may actually be the year in which Tex Batmart gives up cigarettes, but let’s wait and see how I feel once I am feeling better. I no longer feel edgy or cool when I am smoking, just isolated, mostly, as I can’t smoke indoors, and hardly anybody that I know still smokes anymore. I mean, the last bastion of companionship I had, my son-in-law, just bought himself one of those ridiculous $100 vaporizers and a little bottle of nicotine solution, and now no longer feels the need to keep me company as I brave the elements to bow to my addiction. It seems a little unfair. I remember when a pack of smokes cost less than $4, and almost everybody who I knew was at least a social smoker. But now I remain alone, outside, sucking toxins into my lungs, and I cannot for the life of me remember what it was like to have a nicotine buzz.

At least I gave up drinking before I could discover what level of inebriation would bring me back to “normal.” And on the rare occasions when I do imbibe these days, I have to remind myself that I am no longer in my twenties, pounding back a fifth a day, and that maybe just a drink or two might suffice for the entire evening. When I was beginning to completely let go of booze, I found out that I had a little warning whisper in the back of my brain who advised me when I absolutely had to stop if I wanted to make it through the evening without a tribute to the Porcelain God. And one time, I actually listened. Sure, I felt delicate the following morning, but I didn’t owe a single person a sincere, hungover apology. It’s helped me with this vice, that my tastes have run towards the ridiculously expensive, and that the whisky I prefer costs $200 per bottle. That means that I’ve only ever bought two bottles in my life, and that they lasted me a little over a month each time. Hey, if I’m going to wash away the day, a sip or two fine Scotch Whisky is the way I’m going to do it.

I was certain that I wasn’t going to outlive my twenties, so I never really gave a crap about any sort of long-term planning. What’s the point in routine maintenance if you’re just going to chuck the whole thing in the bin next week? I am now eight years older than I ever hoped to live, and, not surprisingly, my son will celebrate his eighth birthday at the end of June. As a rational human being (on occasion), I know that there is very little deeper meaning to the coincidence that someone suffering from Manic Depression didn’t buy the farm exactly when he wanted to. But as a writer who enjoys assigning narratives to seemingly mundane events to try and weave them into something larger and attempt to find some moral meaning from the random whirl of happenstance, I prefer to believe that somehow my Highlander-esque inability to expire is somehow tied to my only son, and that I’m supposed to stick around long enough to, I don’t know, teach him something, like how to not become a serial killer. Either that, or I’m not allowed to bite it until I’ve written what I’m supposed to.

That last thought amuses me. Here I am (Rock You Like A Hurricane), allowing the notion of nonexistence to wash backwards through potentiality to sooth away the pain of being, looking forward to the day in which I am no more, and yet I cannot find the words within me which would release me from my suffering and transmute the frailty of a man into the eccentricities of Legend. Could it be that I have some secret, dark desire to keep on living? For shame, Sad Batmart! Could it be that I have simply found something that I feel is finally worth living for? Have all the decades of neglect now put that secret dream just slightly out of reach? I always wanted to leave a legacy, some sort of lasting impression of who I was, stamped into the very fabric of reality. Before my son was born, I always knew that legacy would have to be my words (or, at the very least, a revival in the popularity of Ranger Bob), but now I wonder if might not be my son. I think I have a better shot of being more warmly recollected as a wordsmith.

It’s not that I am a poor father. I mean, I wouldn’t give myself a passing grade, but that isn’t quite the point. I never had a dad myself, though I was spoiled for good and decent substitutes. But that meant that while I witnessed the grand gestures, the public moments, I never got to see the more intimate father-son relationship that built the decent men that I now call my friends. I have no idea what I’m doing with David William. He and I are so far apart, and it’s impossibly easy to ignore the fact that he’s still just a little boy. I haven’t felt that young in practically forever, and therefore we share almost no common frame of reference. He’s all about playing, and jumping, and learning through doing, whereas I prefer to sit and read, or recline and simply observe while I’m figuring out just how to do something. And yes, he’s far more extroverted than I will ever be, but it’s like he’s his own little person, and not just some diluted copy of how I used to be.

I used to live my life in a big dark blur, but now the blur is made of blinding light. With so much to see, and the clock ticking steadily down toward its final moments, I’m finally starting worry that instead of too much time left for me to have to endure, that there might not actually be enough left for me to actually enjoy. I’d like to say that I’ll start living better, take care of myself and eat right, but the reality is that I’m far too lost in stubborn habit to even begin considering that fundamental of a change. But maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I was to stick around just a little while longer, see my son grow up into the man that he will eventually become. Maybe get to know my grandson and impending granddaughter just a wee bit more, give them some memories of me that don’t involve a graveyard. I don’t know. Some days are easier than others, and I always get a little introspective when I’m not feeling well. Hell, this time next week, I’ll probably be back to smoking a pack a day and going on (at length) about politics and religion. I’d like to think that maybe I can make a change, but I know myself too well for that.


Cute, manipulative, baby! Who knew that love could get you through your darkest days?



After Dark: A Blast From The Past, Part Three

Welcome to the third chapter in this sprawling saga. When we last parted, I had officially discovered that I was going to be a father, and decided to cope with it the best way that I knew how: Poetry. Now we’ll fast forward a couple of months, and welcome in 2007, wherein the fetus has a name for either gender, and I get a little philosophical:

General Mayhem and Confusion

January 23rd, 2007

7:33 p.m.

Sorry it’s been so long since the last installment in the continuing adventures of The Batmart. This one isn’t going to be fantastic… Just need to start getting myself in the habit of writing again. It’s been too long… I think it’s getting to be time to put down some things… you know… for posterity.

I’ll be 30 in less than three years, assuming I don’t bite it before December. I don’t think I’m prepared to cope with that. Maybe even less than I was able to cope with 25.

I need to make time to start writing again. That’s my only hope out of where I’m at now. I have no other skills, save maybe photography. I gambled everything years ago on that talent, and as the years go by, I see I may have been shortsighted in my approach. Not about my gift, but rather about the time it would take to come to fruition, and about how long I’d have to stick around (not entirely the same point), and all of the other things that have popped up along the way. It never mattered to me that I was fucking myself over financially, putting myself in ill social standing, or at odds with the law. I was supposed to be dead by now. And the Bi-Polar Bears haven’t helped. It’s not that I see things in Black and White, but rather all of the extreme shades in between.

Now I have the feeling like I’ll be around for fucking ever, and like my great grandfather, outlive my savings and my ability to contribute anything to anybody. Of course, he had to live into his golden years, whereas the previous statement is self-applicable even today, aside from the “for fucking ever” part, obviously.

Now that I’m arriving at a point in my life where my word would be a useful thing to have in the financial world, I find I’ve no ability to use it- they all took their chances years ago, and even when I tried my best amidst my second chance, I still managed to fuck it all up again.

And so my only hope is to do what I do best- do what I was born for, stop sitting on my ass, and molding away in job for which I am ill-suited. And even then, might I not become like so many of greats- impoverished until my poor health and chronic misery consume me, only to have my redemption come years after my passing, when all the world might shudder at loss of one they would have never known, but for the volumes of sad and lonely photographs and stories, songs and poetry discovered by someone cleaning out wherever I had lain them.

And I wonder, would David William or Jennivee Isabel even care?

Or would they think of me forever as the failure that condemned them?

I forgot just how cheery a gentleman I used to be. The reason I included the whole post was to show that I’ve been saying I needed to be writing for almost half the time that I have actually wanted to be a writer. Also, how sad is it that I haven’t uploaded any new photographs in years? And now that I’ve got so much backlog, I don’t know that I’ll ever get it done. Suddenly, the amount of things I should be doing with my days of leisure are drastically increasing.

Out Here We Is Stoned… Immaculate

January 27th, 2007

2:50 a.m.

…I’m feeling pretty good right now. I still can’t feel the demon monkey dancing, but maybe my hands are trying to keep me from freaking the hell out.


“I’ll always be a Word Man. Better than a Bird Man.” [-Jim Morrison]

Biiiiiiiiiird! Maaaaaaaaaan!………… [-Birdman]

Oh, having to keep the knowledge of my love child a secret from the world (or at least, my co-workers at McDonald’s). It took the longest time for me to actually feel my son moving around inside of my girlfriend. When I finally did, I can’t say that it made things better. There are certain things that Sea Monkeys should never be able to do. Just saying.

Greeting Card I’d Like To See

February 2nd, 2007

10:14 p.m.

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I knocked up your daughter…

That’s it. I’m really sorry.

By February, it appears that my usual sense of humor had returned. I had been trying to figure out what I would say if I ever met my girlfriend’s father (who totally looks like a Mexican Sean Connery!).

The refund from dispute went to card #5973,

March 2nd, 2007

10:28 p.m.

…It reminded me of a walk Dave and I took one night stumbling drunkenly back in Emeryville after leaving [Fuddrucker’s].

Although, to be fair, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen blood gushing like that. It took months for the drops to wash out of the sidewalk.

I’m not going to give any other context.

Shut The Hell Up

March 27th, 2007

11:44 a.m.

Like some of my other friends, I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series in anticipation of the release of the final book. I am on the 5th, now, at the part when Harry receives the “badly wrapped package roughly the size of a paperback book” from Sirius.

Shortly before 9/11 I left my hometown and moved into the city (not the city proper, mind you, but still…). Every time I spoke to my mother or grandmother, they told me to make sure I called my great grandmother. And on the rare occasions I would come over for a visit, would, they would ask if I had gone to see her. I did. A couple times.
Here’s the thing: She was born in 1912. By the time I was born, she was already a senior citizen. But I never really saw her like that. She always had so much energy, so much life, that we all sort of seemed to take her existence for granted. Or at least I did. But by the time I had moved away, her age had begun to creep up upon her, or rather, overtake her exponentially for all those timeless years. She had begun to look and act old.
Maybe it was due to my youth, even as obsessed with death as it had been, but I became unable to be near her. Here I was, caught up firmly in the prime of my youth, and there she was, quickly fading into twilight. It offended my very nature to be near her- not for lack of love, no, she was someone I will always hold most dear, but something physical, as if my body was unable to face its own demise by fading- and so I did my best to avoid her, never really believing she’d be gone.
And so it was that in the summer of ’02, she finally sickened beyond cure and passed away. The day it happed, I was off [redacted, because this is a family blog]
Every year as far back as I could remember, we had had a family Fish Fry. All the cousins in the area getting together and eating and drinking an generally being a kind-of redneck-close-knit family.
That year it was a wake. Most of my Gram’s kids had quit smoking, but the smell from my own, enticed them to come over, and breathe in the 2nd hand comfort.

    I remember at the funeral, looking at her face. It was the exact same except for the utter lack of resemblance to her at all.

And even knowing all of this, how much I wish I could have taken the time to just stop by and say hello- what tears me up inside is that I still don’t know of what we might have spoken.

Once in a while, the loss of my great-grandmother still hits me like the day I lost her, and I am reduced to blubbering while my wife and son look on in concern. I touched on this is the days leading up to my trip to Washington in December, but I’d forgotten a few things that I had remembered when the event was still closer to me.


Welcome to the Batmart (we’ve got fun and games)

April 7th, 2007

11:03 p.m.

It’s funny how “content” sneaks up on you. Not, complacent- content. Like knowing you’re doing the right thing, even though it makes absolutely no sense at the time.

I wasn’t quite happy yet, but a feeling of serenity had descended upon me, like succumbing to the inevitable. I was still about two and a half months out from fatherhood, and it looks like I was handling it with a modicum of grace.

A turning point

June 22nd, 2007

9:08 p.m.

So that moment has arrived once again where the feast has been laid before me and I must but choose a course upon which to dine. Each with its own flavor and temptation, and yet some, [much] easier to digest when I was younger and less ulcer-ridden. That’s not actually a sentence. At least not a good one. I hate double entendres.
I am faced with a career in hospitality, which, for those of you who know me and must realize, as do I, is not compatible with my curmudgeoncy. I have more responsibilities arriving soon, though, to his credit, he seems reluctant to join my company. And I know in my heart that my dreams are reaching out to me in some kind of death grasp, shouting “…Now or never!” Or maybe it’s just Dave.
More now than ever, I am confident in my ability, but as equally unsure as to how I will display it. No one …reads poetry anymore. Did they ever? I mean, by choice? I have a book within me that I know that I must write, if I am to ever write anything original again, and yet I know to write it I must throw myself into the past and relive the [things] I barely made it through the first time. And to do this I have to take the time to… I don’t know… 

How am I supposed to throw away a career I hate which right now is paying ALL the bills, and gives me health insurance, to launch myself, sink or swim onto a path which all odds tell me I cannot follow to the Happily Ever After? I can’t f*** up anymore. I passed by my chance for one last Do-Over, and now it’s forever.
The cost of following my passions is also a monetary concern, beyond the bills. I need a camera. Time. I need time. A pause button. All of this…  makes me miss the days when [redacted because this is a family blog] was my daily goal, when I could just allow my depression to consume me and treat with disregard the machinations of my life.


Wow, have I really been that broken of a record? It’s kind of sad that it took me seven and a half years to do anything about it. As you can all see, that was dated five days before the birth of my son. I wonder what happens next?
She’s Having Contractions
June 27th, 2007
11:43 a.m.
She’s having contractions. More News as available.


The Monkey Has Arrived
June 29th, 2007
9:15 p.m.
He was born Wednesday night at 8:10, weighing in at 11lbs, 14oz, 22 inches.

I’ll have pictures later.

For now, I must sleep.

I wasn’t being overly dramatic: I hadn’t actually gotten more than a few hours of sleep since the morning of the 27th, and I was running on fumes. Flor wasn’t really doing that much better. So we have gone through the (hidden) courtship of my wife, and her subsequent pregnancy, and come out the other side. Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’ll end us now on a message to myself from November, 2006:
The End Of Days
November 13, 2006
8:39 p.m.
As the sun goes down upon one moment in my life, the cold winter begins within the next. The leaves are falling from the tree of my youth, and things are growing in the darkness which I have long feared would come. “She’s a in John Hurt way.”

“Oh Jeffrey….”

What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


El Que No Podia Aguantar

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“I dunno… So why not hours?”

I sighed, “Because it would burn.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again!