Where’s my suspenders? You Punks!

Was that a duck?

I’m officially an old man now. Time to face the facts.

Sadly, it has nothing to do with slowly failing health, a need to complain about medical insurance, or even those pesky teenagers who, quite frankly, need to get off my lawn.

The topic today is “gas.”

And not even the funny, “pull my finger” variety. That would make for comedy gold, that.

No, I came home from a day at work that Shall Remain Undiscussed, whipped up a little food for the family (hot dogs, anyone? They’re Hebrew National!), and halfway through the meal felt like someone had stabbed me in the gut.

And for the next 45 minutes, they proceeded to not only twist the knife, but bring in a family of trained mice to use it as a diving board to launch themselves into my drink. Metaphorically speaking.

At about the one hour mark, when the wife should be getting ready to go to a meeting, I should be getting ready to go to therapy, and the sitter should be on her way from her Real Job to our house, it was clear there was something going on in there that wasn’t normal.

The last time I felt anything like this, we ended up at the ER where I puked up a gallon or so of blood on the triage nurse and woke up two days later in ICU. Good times.

So the wife was getting ready to call the doctor and preparing for a night in the hospital.

And then I burped.

It didn’t help, really. But then, it didn’t NOT help. Which is when the topic of conversation went from “bleeding all over the floor pretty soon, and do it over on THAT carpet so we can justify replacing it with hardwood flooring” to “do we have any Tums?”

And I started a campaign of forced belches that has lasted, oh, about three hours now. I still feel pain. I still feel like crap. But I fell enough LESS like crap that I think we can skip the ER tonight.

I wonder if they have Wi Fi at the local hospital. Not that it matters. I’m apparently too old to use it. Hmph.

To the Spoiled Go the Victors

We’ve made it through the first week of 2nd grade for the Bacon. As usual, he’s great at school, and then gets home and conjures up some sort of evil that encompasses him and his younger brother.

By the time I get home from work, one or more of the boys is paying some sort of consequence, my wife is holding her head in headachy pain (that’s SO a real word), and I get to come in like the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse (I forget if that’s Larry or Curly). And honestly, I’d rather ride in like King Arthur (“The loyalty of my subjects pleases me. You may return to your business, kind people”).

And at the start of school, I’m always beset with the trouble of How Much is This Our Son’s Miswired Brain, and How Much is It Just Him? And if it’s the latter, then we’re failing as parents to change this behavior.

Look, we’ve just “graduated” from a Parenting/Therapy Program this summer that has done wonders in this arena. It’s showed us a lot about how the boys react to their world, and what our choices are in helping with that. A big part is setting boundaries, following through on consequences, and being clear about these things. You know, what they used to call “parenting.”

And we’re both college graduates (each just a few credits shy of Masters’ Degrees). Both credentialed teachers. She with experience (and college learnin’) in Special Education. She and her mother give lectures about this stuff. So we’re not all THAT stupid.

But then that seven year old mentality permeates the situation and our brains leak out of our heads.

And after all the screaming, crying, and finally getting to the REAL problem (or not, sometimes), I’m still left with wanting to make things better. I know what the boys like, and what they respond positively to. And I want to go to that more often than not.

And there’s where I dance with the Spoiled Child Syndrome. And no, that’s not classified in the DSM-IV. At least, not that I’m aware of.

Where do I find the middle ground between being that hard-assed old school dad who cuts everyone off from everything, drops the hammer, and leaves everything in a miserable mess, and the new-age “Let’s let them explore with total freedom and also GIFTS! So you love me!” dad.

Because on either extreme, no one wins. And I like to win.

But so do the boys. And so does my wife.

And the dance continues.

Hitting the Reset Button

As anyone with a basic knowledge of how a calendar work will note, it’s been…um, a LONG time since I’ve posted here. March? Can that be true? Oy.

And in that time I’ve missed writing about the end of the school year, the fun of summer, and the start of another school year. And all the wonderfulness and joy these events brought to our household.

Just ignore that noise in the background, please. Those of you with children will recognize that as the sound of two adults bashing their heads against walls, doors, floors, and other handy solid surfaces. That is, if you can hear that over the din of two boys using sheer volume and angst to drive the house off its foundation. You know, the usual.

I mentioned to friend in an email recently that the whole story would involve insane children, and out of control (but ultimately good) summer, and misplaced priorities.

And while most people wait until the new year to make their resolutions, I decided that September 1st would be my New Year. Or, as the title above suggests, take a moment to hit the reset button.

Click.

Postlude: in an unsolicited wave of approval and devotion, I credit at least a small part of this change to Buster at healthmonth. This site is one part healthy living, one part social, one part goal-setting, one part task tracking, and all parts of fun. If, of course, you’re a rules-following obsessive compulsive tech geek (RFOCTG). Wait, that’s me!

This is his second site of his that I’ve signed onto, the first being 750words. This is as simple as it sounds: sign up, write 750 words a day, and be happy. Unless you’re not happy. Or not an RFOCTG.

Feel free to check either one at your leisure. And bring your RFOCTG glasses.

Click.

THE DOG ATE MY BLOG

You know how they say, “It’s just like riding a bicycle!”? Meaning that once you’ve done something, you can walk away from it it, come back at a later time, and it’s just like you’ve been doing it all the time.

The people who say that are stupid. That never happens.

Take, for instance, Blogging.

I like to write. I like to share. And, in the case of this blog, I like music. So I write and share about music. Not my music, mind you (because that would require WRITING and RECORDING, and really, who has time for all that? Leave that to the kids.).

Except that I’m so sporadic (and my brain has turned to swiss cheese) that I just today realized that somehow a bunch of album reviews I’d written in my own smarmy manner seem to have disappeared.

Hm. Isn’t that weird? I know how to write. And I know how to post. And I know all about back ups and data and backing up data and all.

And yet there it ain’t.

I guess I need to go out tomorrow and buy a bicycle. In the meantime, listen to this.

The Ideal Life for Dad

Is there an Ideal Life? Funny you should ask. Funnier still is that I will tell you.

"Ward, I need you to deal with the Beaver NOW."

In the 40s and 50s (you know, when the world was still black and white), Dad would get up in the morning (and presumably shower), go to the kitchen, eat a freshly-cooked hot breakfast while he read his morning paper, wave at the kids as they left for school, kiss the little woman, put on his hat, and head off to some unnamed work place. Eight hours later, he’d return home, hang the hat on the hat rack, change into slippers and a robe or sweater, have dinner with the family, and retire to the den to read a book and dispense fatherly advice on an as-needed basis. And every once in awhile, when the children had to “wait for your father to get home,” he would get the disciplining out of the way.

The 40s and 50s dad would spend his weekends mowing the lawn, doing manly chores around the house, and maybe play a little golf or man the family barbeque on a Sunday afternoon. You know, after church.

And that was life. I’m convinced of it. My ideal life.

Continue reading

Just Do it

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” -Pablo Picasso

What a simple thing this life is. Figure out how to do something, and then do it repeatedly, and hope to make a living at it.

What’s that, you say? You don’t want to spend the rest of your life doing just one thing, over and over? Interesting. Yet that’s the pattern that most of us fall into. Once we figure out one way of doing something, that becomes the “right way” to do it. That becomes what is “inside our box,” and woe to anyone who says otherwise.

I’m the first person to convince myself that I can’t do something. I’m not good at cold calls. I’m not vocal at parties. I can’t make a deal on a car purchase to save my life. But I wish I could do all those things.

How do we learn new things, then? Is the best way to buy a book from an expert in the field? Chances are that person is just relating what’s “inside their box,” which may or may not have any relevance to how you approach the world. They will market themselves as having the answers, but they generally just have their answers. Their view might be interesting, and maybe even instructional on some level. But will it rock your world? Probably not.

Should you hit the internet for the answers? After all, as Craig Ferguson points out, if it’s on the internet it must be true. Riiiiiight.

No, Pablo Picasso got this one right a century ago. He recognized that there were things he didn’t know how to do at the moment. And chances are either he or those around him told him he couldn’t do it. His response? Do it anyway, if for no other reason than to learn how to do it.

And don’t overlook the work “always.” For him, this was not just an exercise to try when he found the time, or when he felt like it. In his life, he was always doing that which he could not do. Always.

Are you open to trying new things, sometimes just for the sake of knowing how to do it? Or are you happy with things just as they are today?

50 Great Redesigns

I was turned onto this blog post by another prolific writer I follow, Chris Brogan. He’s just recently had his personal logo redesigned (and that’s a complete story in itself), but in researching that he came across a page of 50 Great Product and Logo redesigns.

Granted, it’s all one guy’s opinion, and I think some are better than others, but having a collection like this is a good place to start for those of us who appreciate good design and want to see it get better.

Full Story is Here.

Awakened from a lengthy slumber

Has it really been over 10 months since I’ve written here? How sad for me.

Highlights: started student teaching in a high school art class. Applied for federal disability (SSDI). Finished student teaching at a high school art class. Received my Preliminary California Teaching Credential. Got called in for a liver transplant. Liver transplant didn’t happen. Looked for teaching jobs for the fall. Found none. Got approved for SSDI (after almost 8 months of waiting). Discovered families in California can’t live on SSDI. Discovered that my family makes too much money (unemployed, but on SSDI) to qualify for any other public assistance. Started looking for a job that will support my family. The economy collapsed. No one’s hiring, but the mortgage companies have slowed down the foreclosure process. So we have a place to live, for now.

The boys are now five and two. The financial burdens of raising a family are stressful, but the joys of parenting more than make up for it. And as long as I’m out of work, I can at least take comfort in the time I can spend with them. They drive me nuts and sometimes I’m convinced they’re conspiring to kill me, but I sure do love them anyhow.

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Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, and I should spend some time reflecting on that. Dad’s a veteran, after all, and being an Army brat I appreciate the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on our behalf.

So I found it interesting that while most schools and school districts are closed tomorrow, the one that I went to drop off the final paperwork for a job consideration chose to eschew the traditional Tuesday off for a Monday, making it a three-day weekend for their administration. Not only did it annoy me that I wasted a morning attempting to do things face-to-face (in the probably mistaken belief that it will somehow increase my chances of at least getting an interview), but as a patriotic American it makes me question if I really want to work for this organization. They’ve told me, through their actions, that Veteran’s Day is less about Veterans and more about a convenient day off.

Still, a job’s a job. So we’ll see.

Another Great Day, Just Like the Last

Welcome back to Groundhog Day. I’ll be playing the part of Bill Murray, except for the part where I’m famous and rich and everyone wants to be me. Or at least close to me.

Where were we? Well, I’m taking my meds again. Started back up today. Only felt sick for about 15 or 20 minutes after taking them, and I’m hoping one of the side effects will be sleep, glorious sleep. Of course, it’s now quarter to midnight and I’m still going. So it may take a few days. Or not.

And on a positive note, all four wheels of my Miata held air all day long. I know, that’s a pretty random thought, but it’s a problem that’s plagued me for a few weeks now, and even when I bought new tires last Saturday the problem persisted through the holiday weekend (it being New Years and all). I guess the monkeys at the local tire shop aren’t fully trained. They do fling poo, though.

Getting back to the liver thing (more or less), I hope most of you noticed and took note that there was a float in the Rose Parade this year dedicated to organ donation and transplantation. It was almost as cool as the Honda Ridgeline that turned into a spaceship…kinda. No, come to think of it, that float was pretty lame. The organ donation one was better. If would have been more memorable if it had stopped in front of the judges’ booth and sprayed blood like I did in the E.R. a couple of years ago, but I think the portion of the population not hip to the wacky sense of humor those of us on “the inside” have might have found that in bad taste. I would have laughed until milk came out of my nose. And I don’t drink milk.

And I noticed, in looking at my blog (such that it is) that I had last left you, gentle readers, with a tale of betrayal, disappointment, and bitterness. Odd that I’d revisit this on the day of the Iowa caucus, but the Lord moves in mysterious ways.

ANYWAY, to put a bright pink ribbon on the package of that story, as near as I can tell our first nanny is in the midst of getting her comeuppance, and we hired another person who started in the middle of December. The new gal—I’ll call her ChicaDee for no other reason than it probably would annoy her—is a REAL PERSON. She’s not a caricature or a shell wherein various personalities dwell, but a real flesh and blood young woman who has been nothing but open, honest, and forthcoming about herself. Refreshing!

Of course, she arrived in Los Angeles from the Pacific Northwest-ish (I don’t want to say exactly where she’s from, but it involves tubers) just in time for our family to stop our regular routines for the craziness of the holidays, and she’ll have been here a month before she starts to really see how life is at Casa de Fear. But she has been here long enough to stop talking about when she’s returning home to finish college and to start talking about finishing her degree (or degrees!) here in Southern California. Ha! We’ve trapped another one!

So basically her honeymoon phase may be coming to an end, and as school and work resume (and the boys’ foolishness gets going again) she’ll have plenty of reasons to hate life. Unless she’s really good at what she does…and then she’ll only hate me. Or at least my liver.

Wacky sense of humor!

Happy #@%n New Year

I’m back and I’m pissed. Or maybe just tired. I’ll let you know for sure when I’ve had some sleep.

I’m not tired because of my boys, or because of my liver condition (as far as I know). I’ll admit I’ve been off my medications for several weeks now, as they tend to slow me down and I’ve needed to be at full strength (meaning 75%, of course). To be honest, things are getting back to the point where I can comfortably go back on my meds and believe that everything’s going to be all right, at least in terms of the boys’ safety and upbringing. More on that in upcoming days.

So am I worried about money? No, not any more so than at any other time. We’re in a “float downstream and watch out for rapids” period at the Casa de Fear, and if you have any clue what that metaphor really means you get a gold star and the chance to explain it to the rest of us. I don’t think even I have a clue what I’m talking about.

Mainly I’ve just let life and my household get away from me, and everywhere I turn I’m constantly reminded of all the things I need to get done, or all the things I haven’t done, or all the things that keep slipping between the cracks of the twenty-four hours a day there potentially are available to get them done in.

At the end of the day, or the end of the week, or the end of some vast business that marks my time on this planet, I’d love to just sit. I’ve watched with envy those who have been able to watch the Bowl Games that have been broadcast recently, and I’m not really a football fan. I just can’t currently imagine having two, three, or four hours to just sit and be a spectator. I have to be busy getting things done, because if I don’t, they simply won’t get done, which adds to the problem.

I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Every day I awake with another chance to clear off that counter, move (and empty) those boxes in my office or garage, straighten up that mess. Then I collapse at the end of the day, finally too exhausted to do anything else, and by the next morning (or certainly, by noon) it’s as though the previous day never happened—I’m back to the same place I was, getting one more chance to do it the right way this time.

Oh well. At least my liver hasn’t exploded.