One of the things that I have come to appreciate since becoming at least conversationally fluent in Spanish, is just how fascinating the notion of language is, in and of itself. A language is not just a compilation of vocabulary and rules concerning grammar, but the expression of a culture as it attempts to put order to the world. This is what has caused the most problems in translations of ancient texts, aside from degradation of the source material: our lives are so fundamentally different from those our ancestors could have hoped to experience that there is very little common ground upon to which one might hope to base a translation. Not only would ancient peoples not have words for common technological marvels, but they would also be bereft of words to that might describe the very concepts that go behind them. How could I possibly explain to someone living five thousand years ago what it is, exactly, that I am doing now. I mean, if it’s a pain to just explain what a blog is to my grandparents, who have, at least, some experience with these newfangled computing machines, what hope would I have of explaining it to tribal nomads?
I bring this up because I have noticed changes in the way I think, depending on the language which I’m speaking. I think that was harder to wrap my head around than new words and a system of conjugation that actually made sense. Take, for instance, the concept of liking something. In English, I would say, I like to watch movies; whereas in Spanish, I would have to turn it all around, and say, Me gusta ver películas, or: It pleases me to watch movies. And where I might love doing something in English, in Spanish, it enchants me. Just a slight cultural shift, but once you’ve seen it, it’s always going to be there. My journey has been made easier by my decent vocabulary in my native tongue, and there has been more than one occasion when I have understood more than I might otherwise have hoped, simply because I was familiar with an underappreciated cognate. Thank you, Latin roots. In English, I am the master of my destiny. I like things, I love things. No matter what I am saying, what’s important in the sentence is that I am saying it. Spanish, on the other hand, is almost entirely dismissive of the speaker. When I am talking to someone, I rarely use pronouns, except to emphasize a point. It’s no wonder then, that such a culture shock exists for Latinos when they come here.
I’ve had many Latino friends tell me that, sure, they make more money here, but they’re also spending so much more. But the one thing that they cannot seem to get over, at least the ones who’ve come here as adults, is the pace of life itself in the United States. Everybody seems to be stretched to their breaking point, and we’re making money just to spend it, without leaving any time for ourselves to do things which might bring us some enjoyment. We set our jaws and grind through our days, and wear ourselves down to where we cannot take it anymore, and then we get right back up and do it all again. And in this exchange of cultures, it seems that nobody is truly winning. Kids born here cannot hope to compete against a work ethic that was never meant to go for hours, and we’ve managed to export diabetes wholesale down to Mexico.
About the work ethic thing: I am not saying that one group of people is inherently better than another. What might be viewed as sloth when it comes to the citizenry, could easily be interpreted as someone simply trying to pace themselves for a couple of full-time shifts a day. And while someone might give their all, work hard, never complain, and keep going no matter what, that kind of pace is inherently untenable, and I’ve seen it rip away decades of life that someone will never have the chance live. A sprinter is effective because of the distance run, and the time he budgets himself to recuperate. You cannot sprint all throughout a marathon, or you will die before you reach the second marker. Maybe it’s time that we learn how to slow the pace a little. We work so hard during the day (and often the night, as well), that we leave no time for ourselves or for our families. Sure, we have newest, coolest stuff, but we’ve forgotten what it means to be human.
I seem to have drifted a bit from my original intention, rather like how Latin spread throughout the Western world only to become Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian, not to mention coloring my native tongue, as well. I just wanted to bring up how cool language was, not get into a diatribe about socioeconomic policies. Sorry. I guess that’s been happening more frequently this past week. It’s just that I seem to have opinions about right and wrong which have been updated through the process of immersing myself into a group of people with a background which I do not share. And that’s the magic of language, really. If you take the time to learn a second language, or a third, or more, it can not only allow you to communicate with the people you might have otherwise been unable, but the languages themselves can offer up a new way of thinking, a new way of perceiving the world around you. If you study language, you can read back through the story of mankind itself, see where we came from, and how we got to where we are today. The evolution of language is like the evolution of species, and it’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come.
Tomorrow I am going to try to do something a little more lighthearted, as a way of thanking everyone who’s come and considered all the heavy things I’ve recently had to say. Thank you everyone, and have a wonderful weekend!
I looked up at the sky last night to see that it was falling all around me. As has been the case for as long as I remember, the best of days seem always to conclude in a spiraled attempt to be the worst. I’m trying not to read too much into it, but the fact is that, as a writer, I’m constantly on the prowl for subplots and foreshadowing. And it’s hard to pin down the cause, as I can never tell if it’s just me who’s freaking out, or if I have a right to stand my ground on any given issue. Add someone who is also showing signs of emotional fatigue, and it becomes a game of twenty questions (that you should never ask). Yes, there is a part of me that is even angrier for not being allowed to enjoy what had been my best day as a writer in well over a decade, having reached a wider audience in twenty-four hours than I had in any week before, and having been affirmed as a wordsmith of at least some value by people with whom I do not regularly converse. I should be riding high upon the world this morning, and yet the only thing I want to do is curl myself into the fetal position beneath the covers and wait for everything to fail.
For years now, I’ve had to be the voice of reason in this household, clinging desperately to sanity and rationality as a form of self-defense. That’s not to say that my wife is incapable of doing so, but she tends to focus her attention on other areas which would otherwise be neglected. The only problem in my ascendancy to this august throne, is that having to keep it all together is a massive strain, and every day that I put off the breakdown which I know is coming, the worse I know that it will be upon its prophesied arrival. Somewhere deep inside me lies a tectonic plate of sanity which has been grinding up against the neighboring plate of madness, and the pressure feels unworldly, and I know, like everyone living on a fault line must, that the Big One is on its way, and there’s nothing left to do but hope I’ve retrofitted everything sufficiently. I’m still not sure why I haven’t cracked, and it feels so overdue that I’m growing a little terrified of what will happen in the aftermath. I’m getting older now, and I don’t know that I can bounce back as easily as I once did when I was twenty-one. There are too many people who depend on me (yes, Virginia, even when I’m not pulling in a paycheck) for me to just throw in what little will that I have left and wait for Death to claim me. Of course, in putting it off, I’m just making it worse.
I remember when I could believe that love could solve everything. I also recall how that’s worked out for me before, so now the wound is extra salty. Love is hard. There are some days when it would simply be easier to grab a handful of my necessities (my laptop, hard drive, and all the old notebooks I could fit into my backpack), and just run away from home. There are couches in the world which I have not yet surfed, and my writing has always soared when I am broken by despair. And yet I know that I am too old for all of that. I cannot keep running when things get too big for me to face. I’ve run away to fight another day so many times that I think that, just this once, I should turn back around and make my final stand. Getting older has allowed me to discard the judgments of others for the shackles that they are, and the same obstinacy which has allowed me to get this far by refusing to let me fail should give me the courage to face down the end of all things, though I’ve everything to lose, and only the status quo to gain. When all the drama has been stripped away, and the arguments laid to rest, I can so clearly see that it is only our fear which drives us apart. We’re living in a constant state of terror that the world will begin to crumble beneath our feet, and when it comes to fight or flight, you could call us Orville and Wilbur Wright.
I think that I once wrote that it’s not about the grand gestures. Those are easy, and generally only for show. It’s the little things which change the world, one act of consideration at a time. And here is why I know that, despite the odds, the time has come for me to fight: my wife is someone worth fighting for, and though the simple acts of cultured love are most often lost within the daily grind, they are there, waiting patiently for us to notice, and far too humble to draw attention to themselves. I don’t know that I can become the person that my wife deserves. I am who I have always been, and I never lied about that. But for her, for my Wildflower, I am willing to make the effort. She is infuriating and obsessive, selfless and self-destructive, amazing and inscrutable. And I’m a better man for having known her.
So what does this all mean? I have not the slightest clue. I know I love my wife, but I am uncertain if the years of knowing me have robbed her of her love for me. On the outside, I am often caustic and uncaring so as to not reveal the scared and tired child behind the curtain. Someone once said that “Sometimes you can’t fix everything with a hug.” But I will hold her close until the end of days, and we can face the wave of uncertainty together, if she’ll have me. The sky is falling all around me, and I am Chicken Little.
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!
After almost six years of marriage, and nearly nine years into my relationship, I can say that I miss the feeling of the random, razor butterflies that rip me up inside every time that I happen to fall again in love. It hasn’t happened for quite some time, obviously, but the memory is something which I will keep with me forever. It used to be that I could fall in love as easily as the wind might shift, and yet still love each new person just as deeply as all the other loves which came before. But being with someone for the better part of a decade is an entirely different kind of monster. It’s easy to get discouraged when that heady rush of endorphins peters out, but the key to love’s survival is to turn your eyes toward the long game, and stop focusing on the addictive narcotic of infatuation. I love my wife more each and every day, which, to be honest, because we are both imperfect beings, is a little impressive at times. We have our own drives and desires and are constantly forced to balance them against what we need to stay together. My love for Flor is not a rush of illicit substance hitting my veins and causing me to gasp. She is, instead, the warmth of sharing a mint condition copy of Detective Comics #27 with someone whom you trust until the end of days. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that she increases in value with every moment that passes, and I live in constant fear that she will soon realize that she can do much better.
On our first date (excluding that time where people were trying to get us to hook up at a friend’s wedding), I sat her down and warned her of all my character flaws. She thought that I was joking. In a way, I think that there is no more beautiful way to describe who we are and what it is, exactly, that we have. I am serious and brooding, aware of my failings, and obsessed with a certain sense of honor. My wife thinks that I am full of it, and is always looking for the punchline. Obviously, I’m simplifying things just a little bit, but it’s nice to know that even in my darkest hours, there is someone who will speak truth to power and tell me when I’m acting like an ass. That doesn’t mean that I always listen, or even that, in that moment, I appreciate it all that much, but it comforts me to know that I have someone on my side. Someone who is genuinely looking out for my best interests. It’s easy to forget, when we’re in the middle of an argument, that my instincts are not always to be trusted, as I have this nasty tendency to seek out my own destruction. Whereas my life before I met my wife was a whirlwind of impulsive and ultimately disturbingly atrocious choices, that all came to an end (I cough and nudge some errors back beneath the rug) when we decided to take a chance on one another.
I realized that I had been drawn, much like a moth, to women who would only immolate me. There is something soothing in the passions of insanity, and reassurance in the knowledge that the only surprises will not be what, but how. But that kind of love, if one-sided passion built upon a foundation of co-dependence can be acknowledged as such, tears a person down, undercuts his sense of self, and leaves him deep in debt with nowhere to call home. I knew that the time had come for me to make a change. I would be lying if I said I knew that we would be together for this long. When we started dating, it was just something we did to pass the time in which we’d normally just be lonely. And when we moved in together, it wasn’t because we were so madly in love that we couldn’t be apart, but rather, we both had to move out of the places we were living, and decided that splitting the rent and bills in half was a better way to do it. Even through her pregnancy, we fought like cats and dogs, with my Beautiful Flower doing everything she could to make me feel inferior.
It wasn’t done by insults, or even ill intent, but rather, she outclassed me with every step along the way. Whereas I had been to hell and back, fighting the demons which danced within my mind, she exuded a certain quiet fortitude that put all my travails to shame. Here she was, nearly 1,900 miles from everything and everyone she’d ever known, nearly 2,000 miles away from her teenage daughter and elderly parents, and she was comforting me in the face of impending fatherhood. I cannot imagine the amount of courage that sort of selflessness requires. She put her life on pause to sort out someone else’s problems, and then, instead of focusing on her own, turned her attention toward fixing what was wrong with me. Years later, I think that she may have grown a little weary of her game of Whack-A-Mole, but that she could begin to play at all is what continually amazes me. She is the most amazing person whom I have ever had the pleasure of having known, and though I tell her that I love her at least several times throughout the day, I feel like I could find a way to somehow tell her more.
There is a strength is in her that rivals the very fundamental forces inherent in Mother Nature. There is a love in her that crushes all opposition, grinding it down beneath her boot like a discarded cigarette. There is a beauty in her that hides until she finds the time to smile, and then spills out in radiance upon the world like an overturned barrel full of sunshine. And I feel grateful every day that she is on my side, and grateful to just be near her, to know her, to take in everything about her, and have the opportunity to love her for as long as she will have me.
Feliz sexto aniversario, mi amor. Te quiero hasta el fin del mundo, y un poco más. Todavía tú eres la luz de mi vida, y espero que yo merezco tu paciencia conmigo. No tengo nada para ofrecerte, aparte de mi amor, pues, entonces, te doy mi alma misma.
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.
I’ve broken my new cardinal rule, and am typing this to all of you while snugly in pajama pants. Some illness has descended upon my household, and I’m amazed that I got as far as my computer, to be honest. I miss the days back when I had health insurance (not that I could have gone in on a Saturday (well, maybe when I had Kaiser). You may recall that on Wednesday, I had to cut my ramble short to pick my (not sick) son up from school. He had some sniffles which could easily have been attributable to a case of allergies, as most of the rest of us were suffering similarly, to various degrees. But on Thursday, when I got another call not even an hour into class, and went to get the Minkey, he said that he was fine, and he didn’t even have a fever. My wife felt, as did I, that something stupid was transpiring, so I took my son to the clinic to see if someone there could see him.
Mind you, I did give him “syrup” that morning, but it was the kind for allergies, not fever, as his temperature was fine. So we got to the clinic after a twenty-minute walk, and were welcomed by a waiting room full of sick and streaming-boogered children. Offered the chance to get in line behind a couple other patients in case something opened up, or taking an appointment a little over four hours later, I took the guaranteed option. I didn’t want to spend any more time than I actually had to around people who were actually infirm. David and I got some food, and headed home to kill the time before we had to get back to the clinic.
I was still a little tired, as even a couple of months in, having my wife home in the evenings is still taking some getting used to. And David was literally bouncing off the walls, not usually a sign that someone is currently ill (in that sort of way). So we waited. My wife joined us just before the time came that we needed to leave again, and we spent a moment speaking ill of the school which my son has the misfortune to attend. But then our time was up, and we walked back to see David’s Doctor. This time the waiting room was more sparsely populated, but still it looked fairly virulent. Who knows what little bags of disease had decided to gum upon? It seemed that my allergies were getting a bit worse, but anytime I’m stuck in that much heavily processed air, I tend to feel a bit dried out.
His doctor saw us within half an hour, and the first thing out of her mouth was to ask if our son had written that note. She said a sniffle and an occasional cough were nothing much to worry about, and if it was a virus, based on his symptoms, it was likely to have passed. She gave a prescription for a couple of things to treat his symptoms, and wrote a note stating that he was not contagious, and shouldn’t be sent home on that flimsy pretext on the morrow. We thanked the doctor, and then promptly wasted the next two hours in Walgreen’s, trying to fill two simple prescriptions. At that point, all I really wanted to do was go and get some sleep, but I attributed that to all the vegetation we had passed, and that I had not been sleeping well for weeks. That evening I felt horrible, but the Minkey still seemed fine, so I set my alarm for the next morning, and prepared myself for the worst.
When we woke up, I noticed that David, for the first time since last week, was rocking another fever, and I could barely see straight. I looked once more at the Doctor’s Note, then crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. I told David to stop getting dressed, and get curled back up in bed.
And then I watched as the internet exploded in grief for Leonard Nimoy, and despite being the biggest Trekkie that I know, I couldn’t make it the five feet to my laptop to write anything worth reading.
As for David and I this morning, I wouldn’t recommend a visit. I am doubled over in pain, and David’s nose is gurgling. I just hope that he’s better by Monday, because I think another trip to see his Doctor might actually kill us.
Sorry to make this such a short entry, but I desperately need to return to bed. Thank you to everyone who made this my most-read week ever! I may take tomorrow off, depending on how I feel, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, have a great day, and enjoy your weekend!
I sometimes wonder how my younger self might judge me if he could meet the man that I’ve become, usually envisioning a heated discussion between my teenage and current selves. It had never occurred to me to travel further back in time to have a conversation with the boy who fell in love with writing and set his future out before him, until a game my son and I were playing earlier this evening. He was imagining that he was himself, now, in possession of a time machine, and that he’d come back along my timeline to meet me when I was his age. I, of course, played the role of my seven year old self as best I could, substituting obstructionism when my memories could not be accessed. It was a lot of fun, and I have to admit that I might have been on to something with the whole “undivided attention” thing I figured out yesterday.
But having a blast playacting a prior version of myself, and interacting with my time-travelling progeny forced me to come to terms with just how many of my previous temporal incarnations just might take issue with the choices I have made. Explaining to the boy my son met this evening that it would take 28 years until I actually did anything with the ability he’d just discovered and to which he’d already dedicated his life would be a disappointment. At that age, people in their twenties seem so grown up, and anyone over 30 is positively ancient! To tell him that he’d have to live 400% more just to get a shot might have discouraged me from even trying. Or it might have motivated me to get an earlier start. Honestly, it’s really hard to extrapolate my headspace from nearly three decades past. And this is only the first of many highlights as we travel along Tex Batmart through the ages.
Through The Ages
A year later, I would have been crushed to discover that the first girl I ever kissed would not go on to be my wife, and even worse: within a year, she’d be moving out of my life forever! My utopia was coming to an end. No more escorting her to the bus stop in the mornings on the way to school, no more races along the street with her slightly younger brother. No more running off into the woods and teaching one another how to kiss like the grown-ups do. In terms of romance, this would mark the beginning of a particularly long period of loneliness in my life which would go on for another half-dozen years.
I’d met a girl on the way home from school, and asked her parents if she could keep me. Seriously. She was pretty, funny, and she lived down on the beach! For her birthday that year, she invited me to her party at Skateland. I didn’t skate, but was super into her, so went along, and earned some serious Dad Glances from her father on the trip out there. Trying to warn myself any earlier would have been met with boredom and rebellion, so I would need to pull myself aside somewhere near the arcade, strongly urging barely teenage me against accepting the affections of a different girl at the party that night. He would, of course, ask why I cared (not bothering to question the paradox of my appearance, as he would remember from my previous visits six and seven years ago), and proceed to ignore me, as it would be proof he would be kissing a girl again, and even seeing boobs! Never underestimate the power of breasts upon a teenage boy’s mind. He would go on to kiss that girl, and see his first real life boobs since infancy. And then lose that girl, and then another, and then a few more after that. Having seen the uselessness of trying to prevent an adolescent from foolishness in his quest for romantic shenanigans, I would have to wait another couple years until I did something desperately in need of stopping.
Skipping over the most impressively rebellious time in my life (January 1995), a time when only Trent Reznor could have soothed my inner turmoil, I would see my next opportunity for self-redemption in the late Spring of ’96. Again, my present self would be easily disregarded should I attempt to prevent him from doing anything short-sighted. There were things that had to happen (the records of which were expunged upon my 21st birthday), knowledge earned, and the groundwork laid for major events which would transpire six months hence. But I would have told myself that what I was going through: the searing clarity of emotional pain, the bursts of insight and inspiration, the nights of writing when I could almost taste an enduring literary legacy, these were symptoms of something called Bi-Polar Disorder. That although knowing that it was a chemical imbalance in my brain didn’t mean that everything I felt was in my head. And to hang on just a little longer, things were coming that would change it all. I’d give myself a hug, and fade forward to the beginning of June 1997.
If you could go back and change anything in your life, would you? Are you willing to commit suicide, to erase the very person that you are, that you’ve become? This is the moment in my life in which I would be tempted to interfere. It was the beginning of Summer, 1997. Having almost completed my court-mandated punishment, and won over my Probation Officer, things were degenerating at home once more. I was more determined than ever to get out as soon as possible, and was making plans to leave as soon as I wouldn’t be imprisoned for leaving home. Things came to a head, and, through very little fault of my own, I was suddenly free… two weeks early… and in violation of the terms of my probation. I ran the situation by my P.O., and was granted a reprieve, assuming I could find somewhere new to live.
That summer, I fell in love with a woman just one year older than I am now. What began as simple companionship of Mrs. Robinson developed into my first adult relationship. And for a while I had everything I’d wanted. I was free of the tyranny of my Parental Unit, free of The Law, and living a life of domestic tranquility. I even had the good fortune to meet a boy who would grow into a decent young man, who allowed me to practice being a dad. I can honestly say that I didn’t have a lot of success, but I also didn’t manage to screw him up too terribly. I was happy. I was an equal of adults months early. I should have known better.
I’m not going to get into the particulars here: Eventually I’ll write a book about it, and actually do it justice. I will say that no other point in my life has influenced the creation of the man who I became more than the three years which followed. My innocence fell away, and I was forced to reconsider who I was and what kind of man I could and couldn’t tolerate becoming. To spare myself the pain which would define the era, would I give up everything I have now, including the wisdom earned from moments of overcome despair? I doubt I would have listened, for even if I believed myself, I was doing it for true love.
This thought experiment has taken on a rather melancholy aspect, and that was specifically what I was trying to avoid. I figured I’d have a few laughs at the juxtaposition of myselves, and call it a night. Suffice it to say that I would be forced to leave myself alone to face the world and wounds to come. But we’ve got one more stop to make.
It’s now April 2001, and I’ve been out of the mental ward for a couple weeks. My relationship is deteriorating, and even I, Don Quixote, can read the writing on the wall. I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to move out of my apartment and leave the love of my life behind. I’ll only ever see her once more. This is the point where I might actually be able to listen to myself, hear what I would tell myself. More than any other impossible wish, I would sit down with myself over a Big Ass cup of coffee and a cigarette, and tell him this:
“I know you’re hurting right now, and nothing that I tell you will change that. There’s no point in telling you to wait for it to get better. Only time can tell you that with any credibility. But please know that it meant something; that everything you went through was for something. You’ll make plenty of mistakes, and do some things you’d rather not have done, but I can promise you that it does get better. You’re too smart for your own good, and all of your clever attempts at evasion only make the lessons you need to learn come and hit you harder. You will find someone, and barely have the sense to date her. She’ll put up with you for a few years, and then you’ll have to marry her to make her stay. The road ahead is hard, and it will feel like it will never end. But I swear to you, you will be happy! You just haven’t earned it yet. Be true, and step forward into world with your eyes finally open.”
I would watch my future self begin to dissipate, mulling the notion that I’d have to put up with this for who knew how long, when I heard that fat bald bastard say, “Oh, and just watch out for the super-hot Panamanian girl, she’s nothing but trouble!”
And that concludes another trip into The Vaults of Uncle Walt. It was a little darker than I intended, so I’m going to make you all a promise to keep it light tomorrow. Thank you again for joining me on this Great Adventure, and I look forward to seeing you here again!
From all the versions of myself, I wish you a pleasant evening.
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.