Tag Archives: youth

Center

17213468443_369c567e5a_kWhat a fun week it’s been! I haven’t disliked a rollercoaster ride that much since early 2004, when, to avoid what would have been a relationship-ending fight, I got onto The Medusa at Six Flags, which turned out to have been something which is known as a Supercoaster, which seemed more like a suicide machine to me, but without the inherent fun of taking your own life. But unlike that experience, it seems that I cannot exit this ride, and steadfastly refuse to get onto another for the rest of my time here. Also, I’m not sure what kind of metaphor I can make from Dippin’ Dots, but I want to go on record as saying that they were an abomination which managed to lessen my love for frozen treats and tiny snacks of all types. That was a truly horrible day for me. Actually, to be fair, that entire time was one which I would almost rather forget entirely. It summed up everything that I disliked about my life during my twenties, and were it not for the lessons which were hammered into me, I would block out that time entirely from my mind. I haven’t really shared a lot of my relationship with La Diabla with all of you, and I guess that it’s probably the time.

You're seriously not going to get on another ride? Seriously?!
You’re seriously not going to get on another ride? Seriously?!

First, a little backstory: I left Seattle in January of 2003, leaving behind my family on the invitation of my friend to come and live in California and see palm trees. It was a twenty-two hour train ride, and when I arrived in Emeryville, California, I was ready to put my past behind me. It took me about a month to find a job, but I wound up getting in at the new Fuddrucker’s in the local open-air mall. It was only six months between my hire date and my first promotion. I’d poured myself into the job, sacrificing a social life in search of the almighty dollar, pausing only to blow of steam with Fed by drowning our sorrows in a frightening quantity of booze (which I could now buy in almost any store, including the Pack N’ Save next door). But two guys, no matter how good of friends they may be, cannot share a one-bedroom apartment for six months without discovering that they hold within them the secret desire to destroy the other. That, and Fed’s mom was coming to visit, and she’d made it clear how much she disapproved of me.

So, faced with more money, but nowhere to live, I paid for a couple of weeks at the Extended Stay America down the road, and invited my new baker to share place when I wasn’t there. She also needed somewhere to hang her hat, and worked mornings, while I was the closing manager. I should have known better. I’d been working with her for a little while, and had seen that everyone in the restaurant was falling over themselves to try and get with her. I took one look at her, and then back down at my expanding waistline, and suddenly felt peace wash over me, as I realized that she was so far out of my league, that it wasn’t even worth my time to dream. Ironically, it is probably my lack of interest which put me on her radar. I was the only one who was truly able to play it cool, because I knew that we would never be together. Honestly, I didn’t even have an ulterior motive for offering to share a hotel room with her for a fortnight. I was just trying to help someone out, and lessen the financial impact upon myself. And so it might have been, had we not celebrated her “birthday” toward the end of our stay with one another.

We invited all of our coworkers with whom we were friendly over to our room, and drank a few bottles of some type of liquor or another, until it was time for everybody else to go home. Nami and I hadn’t really had a chance to speak with each other during our stay there, but we’d grown… accustomed to each other, and begun to feel comfortable together. The booze played a part, as did the meddling of our friends, but that night, after everyone else had gone, we sat down and spoke about our feelings. One thing led to another, and we decided that we’d stick it out together as a couple, which turned out to be a good thing, at least at first, as our time was up at the Extended Stay, and the only way that we could scrounge up the necessary cash to move into an apartment was to join forces and move in together. It also helped that I had a nasty habit of falling in love at the drop of a hat, and once hooked, that was it. For the first (and possibly only) time in my life, my apathy seemed to have scored results.

We were both young, and better at drinking and fighting than at common sense (much like a couple of kids I know quite well), and before long, we discovered that we were going to be parents. I took the news with all the composure of someone who has suddenly discovered that nothing he knew was what he had imagined it to be. By the time I got back from my walk to the liquor store, she had begun freaking out, and I was forced to do my best to put on a face of resigned serenity. I was going to be a dad. I began experiencing an existential crisis. It wasn’t that I was afraid of fatherhood, in the traditional sense. Rather, I was suddenly faced with impossibility of bowing out early. I looked into the future, a future where I still existed, and it terrified me. No matter where I tried to find my center, it seemed always just out of reach. So I did the one thing that I could think of, the one thing which I thought would fix the growing problems in our relationship, and calm the terror just beneath my skin: I proposed to her.

When I mentioned Nami’s “birthday” earlier, it was in presented as such because that summer date was not actually her date of birth. In reality, it was just a few days after mine. With hardly any cash, I went to The Diamond Exchange, and put the down payment on a set of wedding bands. On her birthday, I dropped down to one knee and proposed. She said yes, and I (stupidly) thought that I’d managed to solve our problems once and for all. That spring, we went up to Seattle so that she could meet my family. It was then that we discovered that we just couldn’t make it work. We’d been to Six Flags, where she’d tried to surprise me with a fun day out doing something which I’d never wanted to do, and since then we’d been walking on eggshells around one another. By the time we started fighting on The Island, I think that we were both out of ideas on how to fix the negativity between us.

Not impressed.
Not impressed.

When we got back to California, she made the decision to abort the baby. She insisted that we tell everyone it had been a miscarriage. True to my word, I never said otherwise until we finally broke up. The final straw in the drama which had become our lives, was when she brought her line cook over to our apartment and… Well, I think you get the idea. By this time, she was also physically violent with me, and in trying to restrain her arms so that she could not strike me (because I still thought that if I could just love her enough, I could fix everything), it left bruises on her arms. Her best friend, who didn’t care for me, was actually the one to stand up to her and tell her to quit saying that I was beating her. She’d been working in the San Francisco store for the past few months (where she found that line cook), and her boss over there decided that he was going to come and “beat my ass.” Due to mismanagement, the owners had to close that store, and I wound up having to incorporate their staff in with my own. Except Nami. She was where I drew the line.

I’m sorry this has been so rambling. I guess the wounds aren’t all as closed as I had believed. The point which I have so spectacularly failed to make is that my twenties, much like my late teens, were defined by my inability to accept the fact that I hadn’t died, and that I believed that unconditionally loving someone would fix everything. For almost the entire time that Nami and I were together, I’d been trying to figure out how I’d managed to snag someone so far out of my league. It wasn’t until I took into account the person who she was inside, that everything began to come together. I understood why her “friend” would kick her to the curb. And I began to understand that I was unquestionably attracted to women who were absolutely wrong for me. I lost a son who never drew a breath (though it was probably for the best that he was never born). I faced the failures of myself and things in which I so fervently believed. And, for the first time in my life, I looked at the repetitions in my life, and tried to learn something from them.

But I also managed to prove to myself that my ethics were more than just convenient lies I told myself to feel better while looking in the mirror. It should be obvious by now that she was here without permission (why she had both a work and personal birthday). My friends wanted to call in the big guns and have her forcibly removed from this country. I said no. The only person who her presence had hurt was me, and that wasn’t enough for me to criminalize her. I pushed aside my dreams of vengeance, and threw myself into a pattern of comfortably self-destructive behavior instead. But were it not for La Diabla, I doubt that I would have been aware enough to understand how much of a wonderful chance which my Wildflower would represent. I’d vowed to make my life everything that it hadn’t been when I had been with Nami. And really, that choice describes how I now look back upon my early twenties. I lost a decade before I found my wife, and I’m only now beginning to realize that it is not too late to try and give that loss some meaning.

Thought Experiment

It’s way too late at night, and I cannot get to sleep. I don’t mind going ’round the bend if I’m creatively insane, but this wandering around in apathetic madness is for the birds. It just feels so blah. So I’ve decided to perform a little experiment to measure the effects of sadness on the insomniac psyche. I would much rather be fine-tuning my short story, but unless something changes in my head before I go to sleep, the best I can do is pound out some abstract nonsense and say that it was done on purpose. It used to be a matter of just altering perception, but I’m a father and grandfather now, so how would that kind of narcissistic, hedonistic behavior look? I miss going on adventures, both in time and space and within my mind. I miss staying awake until the wee hours and making candles dance, chasing off the Beasties with a magick word or two. I guess what I’m trying to get across is that the world just seems so two-dimensional now that I’ve grown older, the colors are all muted, and vibrancy is something which I barely can remember. It’s too bad they changed the formula for NyQuil, or I could relive my glory days once more while stumbling through the streets of Not Quite Richmond, California.

I guess what I really miss is feeling like I am tapping into something larger than myself. I remember wandering around the Island late at night with Fed beneath the purple skies of clouds sailing o’er the Witching Hour. We used to walk miles, with no thought of aching muscles, or tired feet, and just talk for hours until we finally passed out. We drank shitty beer in graveyards with my girlfriend, and wrote songs which I was convinced would be my ticket out of obscurity, but which don’t even exist outside my mind anymore. We gave a demo tape to one of our friends, but she lost it soon after. Not that we would have made it as a live band. Fed was good, but I could barely find a steady rhythm, let alone keep it, and the two and a half chords which I could play still required thought before I could change between them. I did love recording with him, though. I remember when we were working on one of his songs, Compass Rose, and he made me take a walk outside because he felt self-conscious about his voice. I never recorded with Bad Leon, though we’ve talked about instrumental backing to my angry love poetry.

What am I doing here? I’ve managed to accomplish exactly nothing in my time since I left work, at least nothing which will make me any money. It wasn’t so bad being destitute when I was living on my own, but as I said just a few days ago, that’s not really going to cut it with my wife and son. I just hate the dichotomy of being me. I shut off this artistic part of me for so long that I don’t know if he is ever coming back. I suppose that until November of last year, I could have described my artistic self as Schrödinger’s Wordsmith: both extant and extinct. But now Pandora’s Box is open, and I’ve had the misfortune to peek inside. What terrifies me most is the thought that it’s not just institutionalized apathy; that it’s simply a matter of me not having what it takes to do this for a living. That my lifelong dream is never destined to be more than just a hobby. I think of all the stories which are running around inside my head, and I am screaming silently at myself for not doing a damned thing about them. Every time I try to write, I go in with the notion that I’ll only screw everything up, and then manage to stay true to my word.

I can feel the fires burning just beneath my eyes, and the anxiety throbbing beneath my skin. And yet it’s all held down snugly beneath a blanket of exhaustion. I want to touch the energy of youth once more, even if it’s only for a day. To have the knowledge that the world is mine, and there’s nothing that can stop me. I used to know that I would change the world, but somewhere in my twenties, I managed to lose sight of that. And now, because I cannot even encourage myself to do what I love most because I lack the discipline required to work for myself, I’m going to have to shove myself back into that tiny box without even the reassurance that I’ll unpack myself again. This was my shot. This was the last batch of courage I could muster, and I couldn’t get it done. I was so excited when it dawned on me to rewrite that bloody story. I thought that if it was good enough, if was good enough, I could use the momentum I had built and hop tracks to something of a slightly longer format. If I cannot even get excited about the crap that I am writing, what makes me think that someone will pay money for it?

Welcome to the Pity Party. If I ran for office, I would have to run with them. We’re not much to look at, but we’re sort of attached… to us. Is it like this for everyone? Do other writers get halfway into something which they’re pouring themselves into (enjoying it along the way), and then just throw their notebook down, and scream, “Bullshit!” at the walls? Not that it really matters. Reality, it seems, has finally caught up with me. Who thought that this could last forever? What is it going to take for me to get this figured out? I wish there was a desert I could visit, or rolling hills which I could roam at night while screaming at the wind, and howling at the moon or clouded sky. More than anything, I want to have a little garden where I can grow tomatoes and chili peppers. I want to find excuses not to write so that I can just hang out in the garden and dig my fingers into soil and pretend that I’m alive. Which, to be honest, is a little weird, because I’m not that into vegetables. I guess I just like to see things grow.

I’m looking at the word count and realizing that if I could have just gotten in the flow while I was working on that stupid story, I might almost be close to done by now. I don’t know what the holdup is, to be completely honest. I know the story, almost like I was actually there. Almost. And even if it wasn’t burned into my brain, I have the story which I wrote half my life ago, which kind of lays the whole thing out for me. I even managed to solve the roadblock in the text which had been bothering me since I started to rewrite it. It was an elegant solution, altering the exposition slightly to turn it into dialogue. Maybe what’s killing it is that I’m trying to do too much. I remembered that I’d also written a story called Nic Buzz around the same time, though not a single copy of the original remains, and that since that revelation, I’ve been trying to figure out how to squeeze it into what I’m already trying to do. I would just jump right back into where I’ve left off, setting aside that notion for a little while, but every time I try to get myself back into it, I find that story which I have no idea how it went has left a giant hole just beyond the words which I have written. Like always, my cardinal sin appears to be overthinking everything.

So what’s a boy to do? I’m beating back exhaustion with silken bat wings thrumming in the dark of night, and only my tenacity is driving these words from within the whispers in my head through my fingers, and onto the screen before me. I want to just curl up into a little ball of safety, and sleep until the necessity of the real world has expired. There has never been a problem too large, in my opinion, that it cannot be slept away. But I know that this time I cannot simply ignore the demands of my responsibilities. This time I have got to make it work somehow. Both Bad Leon and my wife think that the answer is in brain-dead work, like a cashiering job or line cook, which I can leave at the door when my shift is over, and then come home with enough energy to write. But I have been in management too long to think that that’s an option anymore. If I’m going to work for someone who isn’t me, then I need to be in control of at least some of the variables in my working life. I despise working for people less qualified than me, and if I’m going to climb the ladder, I’d prefer to start somewhere closer to the top. It’s not that I haven’t worked my way up before, just that there’s a limit to just how much crap that I can deal with while I’m trying to get ahead.

Maybe I’ll stop writing this, and work on something more productive, like a love letter to Death. Courting the Grim Reaper has always been my secret ambition. Well, I don’t know if it’s still a secret if you tell everyone you meet, but I haven’t, until now, broadcasted my desire to the entire world. Some thought experiment that this turned out to be. More like a convoluted pep talk for someone who isn’t listening. But at least that I know that words are flowing once again, and though it’s true that the narrative voice between the story and the blog are slightly different, tonally, it’s still me who’s rambling on, and that should count for something. Maybe I could pop in the part about Applesauce and Abby, or that time when Crys and I almost died because she was way too drunk to drive. Or how her daughter stole those beers from us, which we had stolen first (or so the story goes, if I’m to retain plausible deniability), just so that she could share them with her stupid friends that weren’t us. Of course, if I get in too deep, I’ll just have to go ahead and write the book that I know that I’m not ready to tackle yet. I should probably get started before too long, before all my memories have dissipated, but there’s something which I want to do stylistically, which I know that I’m not quite good enough to actually pull off. At least, not yet.

I can’t believe I’ve written almost two thousand words in just an hour and a half. Turns out that when I’m typing at almost the speed of thought, I can get something accomplished. And now the thought has bubbled up which I want nothing more than to ignore, which is that I should really sit down and read this for the podcast version. Except that the calm and collected voice which is narrating this between my ears won’t sound nearly as impressive if it has to pass my vocal cords. I guess the audio version of this will just have to wait until I get around to it, which, knowing me, is probably somewhere close to never. And here I thought that I would wind up arguing the point with a little bit more passion. I suppose that the time has come for me to get back to work on that thing which I really wanted to be doing. Now if only I could manage saying that with even a modicum of sincerity, I’d be set. Just one more thing before I go: In the comments for this post (or on Facebook or Twitter), please let me know which of these photos you prefer for the cover image.

17298941736_3747acfde2_k
This one, which is both primal AND artistic…
or this one, which holds a slightly different perspective.
or this one, which holds a slightly different perspective.

 

Practical Ennui

The other night, I finally sat down to start working on the story which I promised you all last week. And you want to know something? It was kind of fun. I’ve been doing these columns almost daily for the past six months, and, though I like writing with such frequency, it’s not quite the same as focusing all my energy on a piece of fiction. With this blog, I can ramble on about whatever strikes my fancy, with no regard to what I wrote even the day before. But coming back to the same story day after day, worrying about continuity in events and tone, well, I’m more out of practice with all of that than I was with writing back when I reopened the Vaults in December. In truth, I’ve never really had to sit down and try to figure out how to keep a story going. Most everything I wrote before could most generously be defined as “Short Fiction”, apart from that poetry kick I was on for the better part of a decade. In all honesty, the last thing I wrote which was longer than a page or two was the novel I started when I was in the Eighth Grade (which I only did so that I wouldn’t have to be bothered with doing actual schoolwork). I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that my intransigence that year helped inspire an “alternative” track, and that there may somewhere be a copy of the babble which I penned so long ago. I don’t know whether I’d rather read it for nostalgia, or have it expunged from the physical world.

Then again, I still peruse the book my class made in the Third Grade, so I’d probably want to see it at least once more before I die. It was horrible, to be sure. I’d finished rereading the Dragonlance Chronicles, and thought that I was good enough to try my hand at fantasy. I drew some maps, and came up with a backstory which was, charitably, an homage of every tired and recycled trope of fantastic fiction that had ever come before. I was fairly proud of myself. But it’s hard to write with any sort of authority when you’ve only read about the things your characters are doing, and have not the slightest clue why coffee follows a night of drinking, or what drinking is even like, not to mention a complete lack of understanding of what hangovers are. I mean, I didn’t even start sneaking sips of my grandparents’ booze until my Freshman year of High School, and I didn’t get my first hangover until the first time that I drank Gin, nearly two and a half years later. I hadn’t gone out camping, or even built a fire. Hell, I wasn’t even allowed to play with knives, so the sum total of my experience with the swords which I was describing came from repeated viewings of Highlander. But I kept working on that book. Even after the school year ended, I kept plugging away at that story. My Grandfather took me on a trip that summer (mainly, I believe, to get me the hell out of the house, and give my Mom a vacation from me), and I packed my notebooks with me, and was writing every day.

I don’t remember when I stopped working on it, but I think it was at least a week or two before the school year started up again. By then, I was worried about taking Honors English, and hoping that maybe I’d have the chance (finally) to stop worrying about assholes and get down to learning. I should have known that High School would be just like Middle School, except all the jerks were far more practiced. And there was the distraction of the girls. By the time January had arrived, I’d all but given up. I was disillusioned with the entire experience of education, and my bi-polar disorder (still undiagnosed) was just beginning to come into its own. Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that I never actually tried to get that piece of garbage published, but I’m still a little saddened by how easily I managed to give it all up. Looks like that’s not really a new development in the life of Mr. Batmart. Hell, the name Tex Batmart didn’t even come into existence until I had turned eighteen.

All of this cute, and, I’m sure, terribly informative, but if I can just take the tiniest of breaks from this ennui in which I’m bathing, I’d like to get back to my original point (hold on while I scroll up and try to figure out exactly what it was):

Yeah, I’m not sure that I actually had one. Writing is Hard, maybe? Or, I’m Wasted on Cross-Country? No, that was dwarves. Interesting digression: I think it was my Junior year in High School when the track coach approached me through a friend of my to see if I’d be interested in joining the cross-country team. He’d seen me (literally) running circles around one of his athletes as he’d been making his way around the track. I’d only been doing it because he was dating this girl who my friend was desperately in love with, and it was fun to show off and harass him. I politely declined the offer, as the Athletic Department was a bit more serious about their Anti-Drug Pledge than the Theatre Department or Debate Team, and I wanted to leave my options open. That, and I really didn’t relish the thought of intentional exercise. I rode my bike to school every day, and rode it home again (and due to the geographic peculiarities of the Island, I did indeed ride uphill both ways), not to mention walking almost everywhere else when I didn’t want to take my bike. But running for fun? What was the point in that? Plus, I would have probably had to give up smoking, and I’d only just started doing that for real (ah, back when every cigarette rewarded me with a Nic Buzz (and now I have another idea for a thing. Maybe I really will just go with Batmart Begins (not its real title), and just tie in all my old stories together like they were all on purpose), and I actually enjoyed smoking (not to mention that I looked 30% cooler) with my friends).

Photo by David Banuelos
If it wasn’t for that cigarette, I’d look like a total dork!

We Will Always Party Hard

Sometimes I just need to psyche myself up before attending a baby shower. Like I’ve been saying, they’re not really in my wheelhouse. I mean, I have helped bring life into this world, but I’ve never been a human incubator, so I guess I’ve never felt like I really needed to be thrown a party. As a matter of fact, I’m not terribly all that into parties in the first place. I think that the only party which I’ve truly wanted to attend was one that never actually happened: For my thirty-fifth birthday, I wanted to rent a limo, and go out for a night on the town to celebrate my “Very Good Year”, but it all sort of just fell apart, and I wound up doing absolutely nothing, which to be fair, had been my backup all along. When in doubt, I always say, mope about the house.

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. I moved out of my mom’s place and struck out on my own. I fell in love, and lost my virginity. I got to practice being a dad, write some tunes and my best short stories, start a business, and generally play at being an adult. It was one of the few times in my life when I can remember being so wholeheartedly happy. That, of course, would all begin to crumble within the next couple of years, but I didn’t know that then, and I honestly thought that it would last forever. Also that summer was soft, and we frequently hid from lights on the village green. And the Island was still kind of a small town…

When I was twenty-one, it wasn’t that great. I had a massive nervous breakdown, and spent a week in the hospital. I broke up with my girlfriend of the past few years. I moved from place to place, dating ladies so that I could have a couch to sleep upon. Eventually I wound up crashing in the woods behind the local Safeway. I did move to the city that year, however. My friends called me up at work, and rescued me at the end of summer. But really, the only thing that resembles the song is that, when I was twenty-one, “it came undone.”

So when my thirty-fifth birthday was approaching, I wanted to do better. I was happily married (as happily as a married man can be), so there was very little chance of hooking up with blue blooded girls of independent means, unless you could interpret it to mean that my wife had her own source of income and one slightly varicose vein. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had to work with. The only thing that was missing was the limousine. Plus, it would have been an excuse to get dressed up fancy and have a night out on the town, and I’d had to buy a suit when I’d attended my friend’s wedding just a couple of weeks before. Sadly, it was not meant to be. I guess there are still a little over seven months to make it happen, but as I’m broke, and my wife doesn’t go for that sort of tomfoolery. Maybe I’ll just put on the least crappy pair of jeans I own, and we’ll have a date night down at Weinerschnitzel. Yeah, that’ll go over well.

In just a little while, everyone else will begin waking up. I had the fortune to be woken by my son, who rose before the dawn. That’s like the third or fourth night in a row that I’ve managed to wrangle less than six hours of sleep. At least I’ll have a fog about me (mental- I’ll be hopping in the shower as soon as I feel up to it) to protect my fragile psyche from the abuses of the dreaded Party Games. If I was going to be smart about it, I’d take a shower now, while everyone else is sleeping. No pounding upon doors, no waiting for my turn. Ten minutes in the bathroom is all I really need (there are benefits to being bald), and then the only thing which I would have to concern myself regarding, would be herding the Minkey toward his fancy party clothing after using a moist towelette to scrub his face and neck. But that would mean admitting that it was time to finally start doing productive things today, and I don’t know if I am ready to face that.

What I would like to do, more than anything, is to just curl back up in bed, and take a nap until the adrenaline of being late launches me forward like a juggernaut. This plan has some obvious merit. First and foremost, it means that I get to go back to sleep again. And secondly, by the time I’ve fully woken up again, I’ll have already arrived at the party, and been taking pictures for at least an hour. By then, the alcohol will have been flowing freely, and I can drown down my self-awareness with the help of my old my old friend, Tecate. That’s something that I always love about these get togethers: no matter what the occasion, there always seems to be almost enough beer to make it all a little more bearable.

So I’ll go and snap some photos, and drink a brew or five, and then before I know it, we can all go home. If I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll praise the mattress gods. I remember that this lack of sleep was one of the reasons why I quit my job. Of course, my commute is much shorter now, and it costs me significantly less.

Okay, it’s time to start getting it together. Just a few hours left before the festivities begin. If I time it just right, I can be in the shower or getting dressed when the rolling meltdowns begin.

Here’s to babies! And here’s to the people who incubate them, sacrificing form and figure to feed their unborn child!

Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why...
Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why…

Memories of Minkey

He wanted to do this show... Solo!
He wanted to do this show… Solo!

 

I was going through some of my recordings as I transferred them to my external hard drive, and I came upon this one. I’d completely forgotten that I’d made it. It amazes me to hear him then, and just how little he sounded. To hear him now, you’d think he was practically grown up. We all sounded so happy then. I think I was still working in the Berkeley store, and this would have been right toward the beginning of Flor’s move to working overnight. Time has flown so quickly, and I don’t know where it’s gone. Memories are like that, I suppose…

Included are his observations about Kindergarten, and our attempt to do a decent rendition of “Mortal Kombat.”

This has given me the idea to do a weekly show with the Minkey. It might be kind of fun, and a way to keep up on the page during the weekends, although we should probably look for an endorsement deal from LEGO, as he will most likely only want to talk about whichever LEGO video game he’s currently playing.

I’ll do a test run and we’ll see how it goes. Depending on the results, we might do one Friday night or Sunday afternoon.

Transcript:

Me: So, David, how old are you?

David: Uh…. 5!

Me: And what do you do during the day?

David: Uhhhhh…… play with my LEGOs.

Me: Do you go anywhere?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: Where do you go?

David: Uh, to Grandma’s house.

Me: You go to Grandma’s house? But Grandma lives in Washington.

David: Uh, yeah…

Me: Do you go to school?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: What grade are you in?

David: Uhhhhh………………. (trails off)

Me: What class are you in?

David: Uhhhhh………………. (trails off) I don’t know.

Flor: Kindergarten, come on man!

Me: Are you in Kindergarten?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: What do you learn there?

David: Uh…. I learn Morning Stretches, uh… Calendar, aaaand Workshop, aaand ABC’s, and Recess, and….. E.L.D….

Me: What’s E.L.D.?

David: Uhh… It’s E and L and D.

Me: Yeah, but what does that mean?

David: E! L! D!

Me: Thanks for that-

Flor: (garbled) ABCD…

Me: Thanks- Thanks for that gripping explanation, David. Can you sing the ABC song?

David: ABCD / EFG / HIJK /  LMN / OPQ / RST / UVW / XYZ / Now I never will forget / how to sing the alphabet.

Me: Very good.

(assorted sniffings and groanings)

Me: So what’s your favorite thing about school?

David: Uh… well… (sniffs) well… well… d- well, I think that my class did, was playing with cl- playing with Play-Doh, ’cause that’s what we did today.

Me: Today? But today was Sunday…

David: (sniff, snort) Yeah. I played with it. And I made a statue of Batman.

Me: You made a statue of Batman?

David: Yeah. (squirty booger sound). Like this Batman. Yep. He’s totally dead.

Me: Mmmm….

David: Hey will you stop burning me?!!

Me: How much do you love Mommy?

David: Uhhh….

Flor: Little!

David: This much and this much and one hundredy ninety nine! (snorts, sniffs)

Me: (laughs) Are you- Are you King Mocoso?

David: Uh, yeah. (sniffs) I have a stuffy nose.

Me: Oh… what did you stuff it with?

David: Mocos.

Me: (laughs)

David: (assorted mucous noises, laughter) Oh, that’s a (makes sound again) sound in my nose (continues making noise)

Me: Can you do the Mortal Kombat thing?

David: Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat!

Me: Finish him!

Both: (laugh)

David: Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Finish him!

Me: That was close. Just, you should let me do the Finish him.

David: Okay. Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! (voice cracks)

Me: (laughing so hard I can’t follow). Fi- (laughs) Finish him!

Both: (laugh)

Me: So what’s your favorite thing to do?

David: Uh, my favorite thing is playing with Play-Doh.

Me: In general?

David: Yeah. At school.

Me: But what’s your favorite thing to do at home?

David: Well, playing with LEGOs. Playing with LEGOs and Play-Doh sounds fun. Yeah.

Me: Do you- Can you read some stories?

David: Yeah. One day, there was a little boy, out with his father. And they head for a walk.

Me: Then what happened?

David: And then… the little boy named David saw a big footprint!

Me: (gasps)

David: And it was Monster David!

Me: Oh no. What did they do?

David: Well… the monster caught Mommy. And then, there was a knight in shining armor. And then, I gave the dragon a pepperoni pizza!

Me: (laughs)

David: Yeah, ’cause the dragon think Mommy was food!

Me: (gasps)

David: And then, I gave him the pizza. And then he ate it all up and made some big crumbs. And then, David just saved Mommy and then the Knight David catched Mommy. The end!

Me: That was quite a fascinating story.

David: Thank you!

Me: (laughs) Well, is it time to go beddy-bye?

David: Uhhh… not yet. I still have more stuff. (sniffs) So… Um, Daddy?

Me: Yes?

David: Will you do the title?

Me: What?

David: Will you… ta-

Me: What?

David: Uh… would you do the thing?

Me: What thing?

David: That you tell me to do…

Me: What thing?

David: Aww, Daddy!

Me: (laughs)

David: You’re… You’re supposed… David what’d you do today?

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. You want to try it again?

David: (whispers) Yeah.

Me: Okay. David, what did you do today?

David: Well… there were some… dinosaurs at school, a clock at school, even a toy clock at school. Turn the… the hand around, the gears started spinning! And when I turn it really fast, it goes really fast! And then, I slowed it down, and then… it’s slower, and slooower, and slooower, (sniffs) and slooower, and slooower and slooower. And, the end!

Me: Oh- Say goodnight….

David: Goodbye, night!

Reflections On Grandfatherhood

I’m going to be a grandpa once again. All family politics and volkswagening popes aside, I’m pretty stoked about this. For the past two years, I’ve gotten to enjoy the benefits of grandfatherhood without having had to wait for my son to come of age. And I can see what my own grandparents were talking about when they were saying how much better it was, in comparison to parenthood. With David, I am constantly stressed out, as I know that I am responsible for making sure he turns out more or less okay. But with my precious little Cream Soda, all the pressure goes away, and I can just enjoy him for who he is, and sneak him ice pops on the side. I get to interact with him in a way that I never could with David, free of the burden which parenting provides. For my grandson, I’m the guy who spins you around, takes you outside, and listens to your ramblings. And it is because of this that I have begun to try a little harder with my son. It’s hard sometimes, because he is so smart. I find myself forgetting that he’s still a little boy. And it’s been so long since I was one, that I’ve lost my frame of reference.

Cream Soda is also the brother whom David would otherwise never have. After the Minkey was born, both Flor and I decided that we were out. She had a matching set, and a twelve pound baby tends to spook any mother. And then our grandson came into being. For the first time, we could just enjoy a baby. There were no dirty diapers for us to change, no breast pumps and mangled nipples to endure, no trying desperately to sleep around a miniature tyrant’s schedule. We got to have him when he was at his most precious. Needless to say, David was not impressed. He went from being the center of attention (not all of it pleasant), to standing on the sidelines while everyone went endlessly on about his newborn nephew. And from what he could see, there wasn’t anything terribly impressive about the little poop machine. Now the same fate is about to befall my little grandson.

David's expression upon meeting his nephew for the first time. He wasn't all that terribly impressed.
David’s expression upon meeting his nephew for the first time. He wasn’t all that terribly impressed.

Since he’s been mobile, every deference has been made to him. Any time he erupts in tears, it’s always David’s fault, even if he wasn’t anywhere near his nephew. Like a fútbol star, my grandson knows just how to work it for the refs. And while I tend toward the role of disciplinarian in regards to my monkey man, I am usually quick to come to his defense when the aroma of injustice, like a dirty diaper, comes wafting in my way. Sure, there are times when David can be an asshole, but that’s true of everyone. I call him out when he’s done wrong, but at the same time, I will defend my son if he is not at fault. There are also times when toddlers can be absolute little shits, and it’s obvious that they know exactly what they’re doing. Sometimes kids just fall, or get upset, and there’s nobody one can blame. Toddlers are constantly testing out the boundaries of their physical abilities as well as the social tolerances of their parents. But my grandson’s days in the light of guaranteed innocence have come almost to their end.

Like his uncle before him, Cream Soda will see himself knocked out of his family’s spotlight in favor of a usurper. She will be small, and cry a lot, and demand constant attention. Though his parents have not yet admitted it to themselves, A&W will no longer be an agent with free rein. The first time that he makes his baby sister cry, or throws a temper tantrum over absolutely nothing, he will see a side of his parents that, up until this point, only his uncle has ever seen. He isn’t used to being wrong, and gets away with almost everything. And it’s exactly because of this, that I’m glad he’s got his uncle to fall back on. David has been through all of this, and yet still loves his nephew more than anything or anyone (outside of when his mommy isn’t grumpy). They will keep one another company in the shadows of little Jenny’s radiance, which is good, because we will all be completely transfixed on the new addition to our family.

Actually, I think that this will be good for the three of us: myself, Cream Soda, and the Minkey. My wife and daughter will be fawning over Jenny, like only mother and grandmothers can, and Nerdenn Events will be sucked in as well, doing what he can to help my daughter rustle up a moment or two of sleep. And honestly, I’m really not all that interested in tiny, newborn babies. I mean, sure, I’ll hold them, but they are altogether too fragile to for one to truly enjoy. That, and they don’t really do anything interesting in the first couple of months, at least not that I can really help with. My nipples are for decoration only, and I don’t change diapers anymore. And someone will need to dedicate themselves to being there for our little boys. I suppose that means that I may have to change my grandson’s diaper, but at least that’s easier than dealing with a baby girl. With boys, it’s a fairly simple process: wipe affected areas and re-wrap before being peed upon. With girls there are rules, like front to back, and so many places where it could all just go so terribly, terribly wrong. Better, in my opinion, to leave that sort of thing to the professionals. And hopefully, A&W will be one of the potty-training superstars who gets it right away, and throws off the tyranny of diapers with a shout of independence. One can only hope.

So even though we’ll be packed in like Reader Digests in a hoarder’s hallway closet, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I was the Only Child of a Single Mom, and the closest things I had to siblings were my best friend who lived just up the hill, and second cousins who I really couldn’t stand. Eventually the kids will leave, and we’ll have some breathing room, but for now I get to be a live-in Grandpa, and I have to say that it feels pretty swell to me. To be honest, I prefer the company of children, as they are just insane enough to be really kind of fun, much like my friends in times long gone, under the influence of hallucinogens. Summer is coming up, and that means no more school to fret over, and increased opportunities to go playing in the park. Maybe I’ll set aside a day or two to take the boys out for some fun. I’m sure that we could use it, and will need it soon enough.

But now I realize that I’ve written all these words, having been inspired by my granddaughter-to-be, and yet barely mentioned anything about her, except as a comic foil. The fact is that I cannot wait to meet her, and breathe in that new baby smell. I want to tell her how much her Grandpa loves her, and watch her grow up before my eyes. I want to help her throw off gender stereotypes, and be all that she can be, to help teach her to demand the equality which she absolutely deserves. She’ll have other people to teach her how to do the “girly” things, and a father to intimidate her future boyfriends. I want to be the one whom she can count on to always tell it to her like it is, the one to encourage silly dreams if they make her happy. Grandfatherhood isn’t about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, it’s about helping your grandchildren find their voice amidst uncertainty and arbitrary rules. At least, that’s what I always got from the both of mine. Even though I haven’t met her, I already know how much I love her, and I look forward to the day when she first spits up on me to say hello.

Back To Normal (Once Again)

It was nice to have a little day off yesterday, even if I didn’t really get much of a chance to relax. I got to host a compulsory playdate for my son and his friend while all the other grownups were at work. Mostly they just hit each other, and then tattled on one another. This happened off and on for a few hours until I had had enough, and then I decided that what everyone needed was some sunlight and fresh air. If we were living on the Island, I would have just sent them off to play down on The Walk, but we live near Richmond, California, and there are times when even I don’t feel comfortable going out alone. Poverty and poor decisions (from a limited set to begin with) have a tendency to fold back upon themselves and hone a violent sort of survival instinct, and while I do not blame the victim, I’m also aware of my surroundings. And when it comes to kids under ten years of age, attention is not a quality they possess in any quantity, except for when commercials are blaring and they see a toy that they absolutely have to have.

I decided that it seemed slow enough of a Thursday that I might be able to drop off my son’s prescription without having to wait half an hour in a frighteningly static line, so we all got ready, and walked the half mile to Walgreen’s. And when I say that we all got ready, I mean that my son threw a temper tantrum for the better part of an hour, declaring through rage, streaming boogers, and tears that he didn’t want to go, and that we should just leave him here all alone. Surprisingly, it was his sister who wound up saving the day, finding a way to get him settled down and out the door. It was surprising, not because she lacks maternal instinct (which she does not), but because, in any given moment, the two of them are usually locked into some sort of screaming match. There is a certain jealousy, I think, which exists between siblings separated by over a decade and a half, although that animosity is usually felt most strongly by the older sibling. The younger one will usually shoot back with, “You’re not the boss of me!” or “You’re not my Mom (or Dad)!”, while the older sibling spends the quiet hours wondering what they might have done, and why they weren’t enough. It’s hard to go from the center of attention to taken for granted, and this dynamic can frustrating for everyone involved. It is nice to have some help, though.

See? They're so adorable!
See? They’re so adorable!

I don’t really talk a lot about my daughter. Usually, we spend our time sniping at one another, and jockeying for control of every little situation. Biologically, I am not her real dad, but in every conceivable way, she is my little girl. It is actually because of her that I am convinced that I will someday unlock the secrets of time travel, if only so that I can go back and date her mother in the fading light of the 1980’s, thereby tying up loose ends, and explaining why she’s so much like me. We’ll argue for weeks on end, passive aggressively engaging in a type of warfare reminiscent of Sherman’s March. I almost feel bad for my wife and son-in-law, as they are, for the most part, fairly normal people who don’t deserve this type of well-oiled insanity. But we are the lights which burn so brightly that we cannot help but singe the soaring wings of moths drawn to our flames. Also, and I have this on good authority, it turns out that crazy people are just fantastic lovers. Unfortunately, we also tend to be utter crap when it comes to the simple stuff that all you normals never give a second thought. But that tends to be the way of things.

I don’t think that I could make it through the nonsense of any given day without the grounded support of my wife, and I know for a fact that, despite their occasional squabbling, my son-in-law and daughter are good for one another. Life isn’t easy, and it’s important to find someone with whom you can just be yourself. My wife is my rock, my solid foundation upon which I may set down the burden of my crazy, if only for a little while, and I am the spice which adds extra depth to her days. But, like most spicy things, I tend to inspire gastrointestinal distress and I’m not nearly as much fun the next morning. I think that if I hadn’t found a way to draw out laughter from amidst the tears, we would have finished years ago. As it is, there are times that I can see something stirring just behind my wife’s Market Spice eyes that gives me pause, and makes me wonder if today is the day that the world will fall down around me. And then she’ll blink, and that shadow upon her soul will disappear, and life will return back to the baseline normal we’ve established over these past nine years.

In case you guys were wondering, we didn’t wind up making it to Walgreen’s. Their phone lines and registers were down, and their manager posted outside to turn everyone away. The worst part, however, was that I had a code for a free rental at Redbox, and the next closest kiosk was farther than I really cared to walk. There’s a limit to how much something free is worth, and honestly, $1.64 is not an amount for which I would do a whole hell of a lot. So we wound up meeting my wife at the Grocery Outlet on the other side of town (about half the distance to the nearest Redbox), and picking up some snacks to make a little picnic in the new park they just put in. It gave us grownups the chance to plant our butts on benches, and let the kids run wild in a moderately contained area. On the way over, of course, David and his friend practically jumped out in front of a car in the parking lot of a Mexican supermarket, and I don’t know who more freaked out: the driver or myself. I really wish that kids would pay even the slightest bit of attention, as is seems that they have no instinct for self-preservation whatsoever. They do seem to have a seemingly unlimited supply of dumb luck, however.

We managed to make it through the rest of the afternoon without incident, either traffic or temper related. Our friend picked her son up, and my wife, daughter, and grandson took off for Berkeley to check out some Dollar Store deals. I was left hanging out with David, so I cooked us up some burgers, and we hung together and watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? until it was time for bed. At this point, I’m just going to lie, and say that everything went smoothly on the slumber front, as I really don’t want to get into it (and my son is reading this over my shoulder). I guess I’ll just say goodbye for now, and that I’ll see you all tomorrow.

-Tex

Memories

Today I was reminded of just how old I truly am. A little boy who I once helped to raise has just turned 28. And another little boy whom I have known since the day of his birth just asked me if there were cars when I was younger. It seems that I cannot escape the march of time, or the inevitable karmic payback of things which I once said when I thought that I was being clever. My youth keeps coming back to poke me in the eye, and I can only sit and watch it happen with a little smile across my face. It’s times like these that make me think that maybe my time has come and gone, and that perhaps the moment has arrived for me to shelve my old ambitions and look forward to the future. And then I think that The Boy isn’t really all that much younger than myself, only David’s age difference between us, and he’s too busy being an amazing person to want to change the world. He is the type of person who will lead by example, which is the change for which I’ve advocated, but I don’t think that he’d like all the attention that comes with starting a cultural revolution. And David can barely make it the length of a commercial break without losing all focus entirely. But enough about my failed dreams and lack of accomplishments.

When I first met The Boy, I was coming over to hang out with his sister. This was just before I wound up calling in a favor, and changing my permanent address to that location. Here came this little kid, though I suppose not so little as I saw him at the time, running up the driveway and demanding that I pick him up and swing him around. I’ve never understood what it is, exactly, that makes kids love that particular type of play. I myself shrink back in terror at the very notion of someone grabbing me and swinging me around, robbing me of control over myself, and the gentle tug of gravity. And yet The Boy could never get enough, nor David, nor my grandson, for that matter. They all kept demanding that I play until the moment that I physically couldn’t anymore. That time is coming for my grandson far sooner than I’d care to admit, but at least for a little while longer I can still scoop him up and spin him wildly until we both feel just a little green.

History replays its finest moments.
History replays its finest moments.

But what strikes me most, is are memories of a conversation that I once had with The Boy regarding his homework, and how he wasn’t doing it. I’ve been having the same conversation with my son lately, and, like The Boy, he also has been diagnosed with ADHD. It seemed odd to me that I was the one, of all people, to have to lecture another human being about the necessity of bowing to the pressures of the busywork. I was the kid who would blow off weeks of homework and then stroll into the classroom to ace the test. I knew the material, but I never had even the slightest inclination toward wasting my time on repetition. Time has taught me that me that there was more important lesson hidden somewhere in the rows of nonsense, and I would have been better served to learn just how to ignore the boredom and get the homework done. I hadn’t figured that out the first time that I had to sit somebody down and try to convince them to do what I could not, but I know it in my bones this time.

The Monkey and The Boy
The Monkey and The Boy

All in all, though,  The Boy didn’t turn out too bad. He’s living life more beautifully than I ever had the courage to even truly begin considering. Sure, I’ve moved hundreds of miles away from where I once ran free, but I fell into the trap of doing all the things which I was supposed to do, and setting aside what mattered in favor of another dream. I had the chance to have the family which I never could when I was just a boy, and I took it because I’d finally found out what it was that I was after. I don’t think that the couple of years that I spent with The Boy when I was learning how to be a man, and practicing to be a Dad, could have influenced him all that deeply, but it is my hope that a little of the dream which I once dreamed might have inspired him just a little to seek out the man he would become, and never sacrifice himself to for anything that wasn’t worth it. I’m not saying that my sacrifices weren’t of value, just that I never seemed to have made a bargain which had unexpected consequences.

Am I happy? In so many ways, I must admit that I am indeed. But there is a part of me that misses the freedom that I once had to go and see the world, not that I ever really did. I have what I have always dreamed that I might have: a family. I grew up in a home torn apart by the statistics of divorce, and I swore that if I ever married, it would last forever. That means, however, that I cannot run off on wild flights of fancy whenever the mood may strike me. I am needed here at home, and, more than that, have no desire to disrespect the bonds my wife and I have forged together. So instead, I settle for a little thrill in hearing of The Boy’s adventures as he travels across the country in search of what it means to be alive. I don’t believe that there is just one answer to the questions life is asking. I’ve found several, both as a father, and as a husband. And these past few months, I’ve rediscovered what my writing has always sought to tell me.

On this day, the twenty-eighth anniversary of my good friend’s birth, I wish him nothing but the best, and hope that his travels might lead him back here once more, as I’ve found that I kind of miss him. Like a blur, the memories are overwhelming, but of him, they are all pleasant. As I look toward the man my own son may become, I have no better example of a good and decent human being to show him than The Man which The Boy has become. Happy Birthday, Homunculus! Be well, and try to do something fun.

Memories in motion.
Memories in motion.

-Tex

Domestic Violence

I am sitting down to knowingly write what will most likely be my most unpopular column, and I’m strangely okay with that. In writing about our failings as a species yesterday, I left out one topic: Domestic Violence. When I was growing up, my mother, grandfather, and almost every adult that I came in contact with, at some point would remind me that is was never okay to hit a girl. This was all fine and well until one time, at a family reunion when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, my cousin (a girl just a little younger than myself) decided to spend all afternoon harassing and striking me, and according to every single adult figure of authority, there was nothing that I was allowed to do to defend myself. After all, it was never okay to hit a girl. As I grew older, and entered high school, I frequently saw my friends’ conversations with their girlfriends punctuated by punches, kicks, and slaps, all which was not only tolerated, but cheered on from the sidelines. Say something stupid? Deadarm. Say something cluelessly hurtful? Slap across the face. Bored? Just kick your boyfriend somewhere and then make that cute face that he seems to really like.

Let me go on record as saying that I am against Domestic Violence. Let me go further by saying that I am generally against violence altogether. My son has been taught that it’s not okay to hit anyone, except in times of self-defense. And then I’ve told him that he is only to use the bare minimum of violence necessary to escape the situation and allow the authorities to sort everything out. I do not say this a snarky rebuttal to feminism or as a counterpoint to undercut calls for equality. I am not allying myself with the Men’s Rights Movement, which only seems interested in saying the foulest things that its members can come up with regarding women. I am teaching my son to defend himself as such because I have been the victim of domestic violence. At the hands of two different women. Four years apart. I am willing to accept that I am easily one of the most infuriating people that it is possible to come to know, but that is no excuse for “violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.” Unless I’m completely off-base, at which point, please excuse me, I’ve got a gritty reboot of Caillou to start working on.

No, I did not report these incidents to the police, nor did I spend time receiving comfort from my friends. Until recently, it seems we were still too “manly” to feel comfortable talking about one of us getting the shit kicked out of us by “a girl.” I stand roughly five and a half feet in height, and my extra weight is most definitely not muscle mass. Hell, the first time that someone I was dating decided to beat the daylights out of me, I had never even heard of some guy calling up the cops on his abusive girlfriend. I mean, to be fair, this was in the late ’90’s, but that still doesn’t feel right to me. By the time I lived was being introduced to the fists of my next (and last) abuser, I had begun to believe, despite the overwhelming evidence against me, that maybe even I did not deserve to be wailed upon by someone whom I cared for and her tiny little bony fists. That relationship ended shortly thereafter, and it was at that point that I decided that I wouldn’t allow myself to be a victim anymore. I realize that I am using humor here and there, but about this, I am deadly serious.

I began a period of self-reflection after the last time I was abused, and wondered if maybe it was my fault for being so strongly attracted to women who seemed to want nothing other than to break me. Maybe not at first, but imagine living with Gilbert Gottfried (but imagine that he’s funny). I blamed myself for finding them, and then for learning to provoke them. I felt ashamed that I was beaten by someone whom society deemed “weaker,” and was terrified to call the cops for fear of ridicule, or worse, that they would take me away because I don’t bruise all that easily, and when you’re holding someone’s arms away so that she cannot keep on hitting you, and your girlfriend bruises like bananas… well, you get the idea. I blamed myself for so long, that when I met my wife, I was still jumping at every shadow. And when we talked about taking our relationship to the next level, I could only recall the last two times that I had lived together with a girlfriend, and I have to admit that I was a little terrified.

When my wife and I began to live together, we sat down and spoke, at length, about what types of behavior we found acceptable, and also, what wasn’t necessarily on that list that we were willing to put up with. Despite the stereotype of the drunken Mexican beating his wife, or perhaps because of it, my wife told me that if I ever laid a finger upon her in anger, we were through. I wholeheartedly agreed and told her that I didn’t find it cute for women to attack their boyfriends, and if she tried it, she’d be out on the street before she had the chance to blink. Now, since we’ve laid down that groundwork, we’ve found ways to come right up to the edge of our own prohibitions, her with dishes, and myself with walls, but we’ve never struck each other (intentionally; there have been a handful of occasions on both sides where and elbow doesn’t quite clear the head, or a foot sinks someone’s knee backward into the bed), and I don’t believe we ever will.

Sure, it looks cute now...
Sure, it looks cute now…

This is not satire. I’m not trying to be cute. These are real experiences. Domestic Violence is not a laughing matter. If you are being abused, please try to get some help. Get out of there. I have found that you can only beat the living shit out of someone who you don’t respect, and if he or she doesn’t respect you, then please: Get The Hell Out!

There are resources to help you: http://www.thehotline.org/, or call 1 (800) 799-7233.

-Tex

Real Life: Into The Mouth Of Madness

I am enjoying a surge in readership, which has led me to believe that an hour’s worth of writing cannot possibly justify twelve hours of obsessing over the site stats. I figured that I would be more at ease seeing that I was reaching a wider audience, but it turns out that I only fall deeper down the rabbit hole. Suddenly, what would have been inconceivable just a couple of weeks ago, has become commonplace, and as I breeze past milestone after milestone, it becomes not about the people whom I have just reached, but rather, how much further I can watch the numbers climb. I’d like to say that the game is over now, and that I’m back to writing as if no one else was listening, but somewhere there is a Site Stats page open which I am constantly refreshing. It’s really been fun, these past couple of days, reaching people all across the world, but now the time has come for me to sit back down and work on something different. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read what I have written, and I hope that you continue to come back on your future journeys through the interwebs.

Now back to real life and reality (for once, not mutually exclusive!). Today my new stove is coming (I’m assuming that means the entire oven, but you never know), and I’m excited that I will once again be able to cook with ease. We’ve been dealing with the limitations of cooking with only one functional burner, and it has forced me to a level of efficiency that feels entirely unwholesome and unnatural. I’m the type of cook who likes to time everything just right, and use up several pots and pans, as each recipe demands. With only one working burner, I’ve had to plan things out so that I can run it like a timeshare and, to my credit, it hasn’t been a complete disaster. But now I get to play with a full set for the time in months, and it disturbs me just how much I want to whip something up just so that I can be the first to break in each and every element. That probably speaks volumes about me, but I don’t care. I get to be lazy as a cook again!

Now if only parenting were easier. My son’s counselor thinks that it is great that I am reflecting on my past, using my prior points of view to come up with strategies on how to be a better parent. I keep trying to tell her that I’m not sure, exactly, what good it’s supposed to do, as no one figured out how to be an effective parent once I became the embodiment of rebellion. The only thing that I have going for me is that I am at least as stubborn as my precious child, and I’ve had decades more experience to guide me. I knew that teaching David to question everything would come back to bite me, but I never imagined that I’d see the gapped teeth marks (as he’s been losing baby teeth) so soon. I swear, the only things he’s really lacking are discipline and time. He’s got a raw intelligence that makes me nervous on my best days, and a matching lack of anything resembling even the barest hint of common sense. It looks like my mother is getting her revenge, after all. I think that when the time comes, I’ll send myself off to boarding school, and let him stay at home. Sometimes it’s just easier to move house than it is to face cleaning up your messes.

Shannon Buxton, a friend and mentor, said recently, in response to what I wrote about the Teen Center, “I stand by my belief that teens are not broken and therefore do not need to be fixed.” I know that this is true, but it takes an amazing amount of patience to guide them through their formative years, and I look forward to sending the Minkey up to spend a summer (or several) with his Auntie Shannon who has so graciously volunteered to not fix him. That was a bit tongue-in-cheek, obviously, but I do hope that I can have him spend a little time with her when he is older, as she is able to interact with kids as if they were actually people, and I think that sometimes parents get so caught up in trying to make sure that their kids don’t wind up serial killers that we forget that (eventually) our kids might have something they can teach us, if we’re only willing to stop and listen. That’s easier said than done, of course. There’s only so many times that I can listen to stories about a video game that I was watching my son play before I starting twitching uncontrollably.

I feel like my son and I will wind up like Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and not just because I am bald (and the first impression I ever did was of Mr. Connery), and David is afraid of snakes. Maybe it’s something that all fathers and sons go through which I missed out on because I didn’t get to know my dad. I just feel like by the time he grows into his own skin, and is capable of thought which isn’t directly influenced by raging hormones (or, as they are currently: sugar), it will be time for him to go out into the world, and I will find that I miss him more than I had thought possible. I think I’ll have to look back at this in a decade or so, and see if knowing what would happen made it any easier to live through. If his childhood is any indication, I do not think it will.

UPDATE: The new oven is here, but cannot be connected, as the wall outlet is for a dryer, apparently, and this new oven will not plug in correctly. Instead of replacing the outlet, the owner has told me that he’s just going to replace the power cord, thereby voiding the warranty. I don’t know. I’m not an owner, nor am I a licensed electrician, but I feel like it would just be easier to replace the outlet than perform surgery on a perfectly functional appliance. The downside to all of this is that we have been reduced to microwaving everything we wish to eat at temperature warmer than the room in which we’re sitting. Good thing Flor bought a couple more boxes of cereal yesterday!

-Tex

Oh, and here’s the Photo of the Day:

Doesn't my wife have just the most beautiful eyes?
Doesn’t my wife have just the most beautiful eyes?