Tag Archives: family

Blue Lantern

Sitting down to write this particular post has proven difficult for me. I think there is a possibility that I may anger some folks and lose a few readers after this, though I’d prefer if that isn’t the case. But I’ve also made a promise that I would do my best to be open on this platform. So let’s do this.

Lots of things have been happening in this country since the election. I think I echo the sentiment of many when I say the 2016 Presidential Election was a nightmare process. For many people, the nightmare is continuing. Donald Trump hasn’t even been president-elect for a month and things aren’t looking good. Hate crime is increasing (some fake instances, but mostly not) and that is wrong. Violence has occurred from some of his more fanatical supporters and detractors. The latter only seems to be helping orange narcissist. He has stated he hopes to be a president for all Americans, but this seems to be another lie from one of the country’s biggest cyber bullies. He’s looking at Washington insiders (the people he claimed to be against) for cabinet positions. He campaigned on a platform of fascism, racism, misogyny, and fear. Trump offered snake oil to people who are financially hurting and they bought it. Now he’s planning to put known white supremacist Stephen Bannon into a key power role. Another guy on his team has called the Japanese internment camps a precedent for how they should treat Muslims. Then you have the nightmare that is Mike Pence and his belief that gay people should be jailed for wanting to get married. The damn KKK is glad Trump won!

I now have a huge number of people in my life who are upset and terrified. I know barely any people who voted for Trump, with those that did claiming it was because of economics or a belief that Hillary Clinton is a criminal. They fact that this other stuff wasn’t a deal-breaker for them is disappointing. Most of the people in my life either voted Clinton or went the third-party route. The point is there are a lot of very scared people, wondering if they will be attacked for just being themselves. I’m scared, though not for myself. I’m a straight white guy. But I’m worried about my wife and daughters. I’m worried about the other women of my family and many of my friends. But worrying isn’t the only thing I’ve been doing. I’ve been thinking about the people who aren’t worried because the things the Trump campaign promised didn’t threaten them. I’m thinking about the people on both sides who are taking the attitude of just giving up and moving on. The election is over and we can’t do anything for the next four years.

I don’t agree with that. So I’ve decided I am embracing the Blue Lantern Corps. This will be a symbol and attitude for me going forth.

There are probably some of you who have no idea what I’m getting at. Permit me to get my geek on and briefly delve into comic books. If you need more detail, get thee to a search engine! The Blue Lanterns are from the DC multiverse and are allies of the more famous Green Lanterns. There are multiple Lanterns, most emerging just before or within the “Blackest Night” crossover story. Each gains power from a specific emotion tied to the color spectrum. Green Lanterns have willpower. Sinestro’s Yellow Lanterns have fear, and so forth. For Blue Lanterns, their power comes from hope.

Hope. One of the most powerful, yet easy to forget, forces in existence. I have forgotten about it myself. Being prone to depression, it’s any easy thing to do. Then one of my Twitter friends made mention of the Blue Lanterns in a tweet. It was a slap to the back of my head that I desperately needed. So I am going to embody that symbol as best I can. I need to be hope.

What exactly does this entail for me? It means doing what I can to show everyone who is scared that I’m still with them. It means I’m donating whatever money or time I realistically can. I’m signing the petitions against the hate-monger appointees. It means making the phone calls to senators and representatives. It means wearing the Safety Pin and doing my best to be an ally. We are quickly seeing that this is an administration that will not unify people. Those that think it will are choosing to remain ignorant. And in case I haven’t been clear, this doesn’t have anything to do with who didn’t win the election. I have yet to see a candidate who I didn’t have doubts about in any election I’ve voted in, and that includes the often deified Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump is the first person I’ve been absolutely adamant against. Frankly, I could have lived with most of the other options. But I am hoping that those who did vote for Trump are realizing it was a mistake. I’m hopeful that most of those people will not stand by and ignore the harassment or the hate crimes. I hope, like me, they plan to call it out and hold those embracing the white nationalist poison accountable for it. We are in for a very long four years. This is not the time to pretend we can do nothing or blame everyone who isn’t ourselves.

The first Blue Lantern is an alien called Saint Walker, who repeats the phrase “all will be well” as a mantra. If we do what we can to protect each other, all WILL be well. But the effort must be made.Doing nothing is only going to guarantee our problems will get worse.

It occurs to me that in the Lantern breakdown, orange is the color connected to avarice. Has Trump has actually been Agent Orange this whole time? Are the lines between fiction and reality blurring that much? Talk about scary!

Enough now. I’ve made my mind known. Time to focus. Stand against the hate. Speak against the fear. Be a safe space. People need you.

All will be well.

 

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More Dad Haikus

MYSTERIES

There must be answers.

Yet, daughter, I can’t explain

why you won’t eat lunch.

 

BATH

The screams of pure rage.

You thrash as if set aflame.

It’s only shampoo.

 

CAT

The toddler hugs you.

Feline eyes call out to me,

“What fresh hell is this?”

 

SILENCE

The talking has stopped.

Perhaps the kids are asleep.

No. They plot my doom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Vacation: What I learned

We recently got back from a trip to Florida. The purpose was to give my dad a sort of birthday present (he turns 70 this month) of having all 4 of the grandchildren on a trip together. So my wife and I went with the girls and Pam, my sister, went with our niece & nephew. My brother-in-law was unable to make it due to work. The third sibling, my brother, was also not there but he likely didn’t want to go. So we had a total of 5 adults with my parents, sister, Lisa and myself. The 4 kids are between the ages of 3 and 7. So obviously, they had the advantage over the adults.

Did we have fun? Sure, there was fun. The kids seemed to enjoy playing together, though there was a large amount of whining. I’m also sure I speak for many when I say putting extended family together for a long time is not without stress. But this whole thing was a learning experience, so I will now share the knowledge that has been bestowed upon my squishy brain matter.

FLYING WITH KIDS IS A PAIN- We had a 2 hour delay for our flight to Florida. This pretty much killed the excitement of 5-year-old Phoebe, who now panicked that the trip was ruined. By the time we got on the plane and took off, she hadn’t fully recovered. Zoe, the cranky pants toddler, was tired but did not manage to fall asleep until about 20 minutes before landing. However, we also had a yappy dog on the plane that barked the whole time. The flight home was very early and Phoebe spent most of it being difficult. Zoe was pretty good, only fussing once which was cancelled by the presence of apple juice. This was the opposite of what we expected, having thought Phoebe would be excited by the plane and entertained and Zoe would get cranky. So maybe next time, which may very well be in a few years, we’ll just drive.

LET THE GRANDPARENTS TAKE THE KIDS- If my mom or dad wanted to go somewhere with the kids, they pretty much got it. Lisa and I were able to get a few moments of quiet and even got to go out after the kids went to bed. Once just the two of us and once with Pam, who by that point needed the break as well. Plus, we all got to take a nap at least once! How awesome is that? How sad is it that I get excited about naps?

BE BETTER AT PLANNING OUTINGS- Somehow we ended up going to the Naples Zoo on one of the hottest days of the week. Needless to say, everyone was cranky about halfway into the time there. Also, the animals as a whole were smarter than us and mostly laid around in whatever shade was present. Good for you, striped hyena and honey badger. Bad for the tourists, us included. Zoe also clarified that every big cat she saw apparently goes “meow, meow”. I’m sure the 3-year-old has conducted scientific research so pass this on to the tigers and leopards. No roaring for you. It’s “meow, meow” or nothing. So sayeth the toddler.

We’ve taken short little weekend trips with the kids in the past, but this was our first big family trip. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for vacations with Phoebe and Zoe. People keep asking us if we’ll do a Disney trip with them, which I think is possible but certainly not until they are old enough to remember it better. This is the question about the trip we just took. Will they remember much of it? A little, I think, but it will probably be more along the lines of how they had fun with their grandparents and cousins. So I think vacations like trips to Disney World and things like that can wait until Lisa and I don’t have to change diapers at the airport.

 

 

More years to come

My eldest daughter, Phoebe, will turn 5 in less than a week. In July, her sister Zoe will turn 3. I’m of mixed feelings about this whole growing up thing my kids are doing. It’s also really weird to think that it has been about 5 years since I’ve become someone’s parent.

How did that happen? Well, of course I know how it happened. I was there. Also, I’ve been to the zoo.

It’s just bizarre to me. I have these two little girls that call me “daddy” who I love more than I thought possible. There are also days they make me want to dig a hole in the yard and hide for the rest of my life. My wife and I constantly talk about which one is going to give us more trouble in the years ahead. They are both so different, yet both so stubborn! And they are both so cute and they make me laugh and smile. I look at them and get so scared thinking about the horrible shit they may go through. I constantly worry about how the world will treat them because they are girls, and how they will treat them when they are women. When it comes to them, I question almost everything I do for fear that I will screw them up. That being said, I think all parents screw up at some point. So chances are I probably have and will do so again, no matter how hard I try.

Phoebe is a talker and silly. She wants to say hello to everyone and is easily distracted. Zoe is sweet and sensitive. She gets so excited by animals and has a little temper.

My kids are getting older. I am getting older. Nothing is going to stop this and, unless something horrible occurs, I am in for many more years of this stuff. I will be tired and grumpy. I will be heartbroken. I will be proud and amused and terrified. And in the future, I will almost certainly embarrass some teenagers.

Cool.

Back on the couch

I am going to say something that should shock no one, particularly anyone that knows me or has followed me on this site. I am not perfect. I am extremely imperfect. I more or less accept that. There. We can all move on.

Now, awhile back I wrote a piece about my experience with clinical depression. I’ve mentioned it a bit more in other posts. What I wanted to talk about now is a specific part of my, for lack of a better term, treatment. That would be therapy. Yay! One of the last things people ever want to admit they need!

Before I got the official diagnosis, I had actually already started seeing a therapist after a discussion with my regular doctor. Admitting you need help sucks. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but we get conditioned to think it should be. Much like having any kind of mental illness. So, basically we get kind of screwed. You can’t admit something is wrong and, if you do, then you can’t get help because it’s shameful. Fucked up, right? And of course my attempt was a little late in the game. I still had a breakdown, still ended up in an outpatient program, and had to admit a few things to myself. And one of those was that I needed to be in therapy AND needed to be medicated. Not one or the other. They go together. Much like the comedy stylings of Bert and Ernie.

I’ve been pretty fortunate in that I have had good experiences with therapy. I’ve been able to find people whom I can click with fairly quickly. Some people have to go through a few therapists before they find one that works for them. I’ve only had to change because of moving from one state to another. I have, however, had to stop therapy do to conflicts with jobs or a loss of insurance that would cover it. It was never something I wanted but it had to happen. And each time, I’ve noticed that things just get a little harder to manage. There have been points when I’ve needed to have weekly sessions. Then there have been times when I have been able to go weeks in between seeing my therapist. I stay on the medication and use the things I’ve learned to help myself in my day-to-day. Is it an exact process? No, and it probably never will be.

Let me say that I don’t think I’ve met a single person, mentally ill or not, who couldn’t benefit from some form of therapy. Talking does help and sometimes it isn’t an option to go to your friends or family. They are likely just too attached to the issue you’re dealing with. I’m not saying that you should never go to these people, but sometimes therapy turns in to a venting session. Friends and family have this idea of who you are and are not always ready to accept something different. A trained professional can. They can also help you find better ways to talk to the people close to you that probably never even crossed your mind. Am I making sense? Probably not, but then I am not a trained therapist. What I am is someone who very much advocates how important treating mental illness is. What I am is a guy who is happy to have a great family and might not have made it here without getting help. If anything I say removes the stigma someone has in their head when it comes to therapy or mental illness in general, then that is awesome. But if this has merely bored you, fear not. I’ll get back to talking about things like cat barf the next time a post. Everyone wins.

No place to hide

Let me make something clear, in case there is any doubt. I absolutely love my kids. To paraphrase Christopher Moore, I love them more than pie. They are my babies and I will do everything in my power to make sure they are happy, healthy, and good people.

I sometimes wish they would leave me the fuck alone.

That’s terrible, right? But I swear there are times when I think my head is going to blow up into tiny pieces because I can’t get away from all the noise. Or the being used as a jungle gym. Or the constant need to search me out if I go into another room for just a few minutes. I think I may have mentioned it before, but I can’t even poop in peace!

I know my wife has the same feelings, but she at least has the option of free time after the girls go to bed. I work second shift so when I get home, it is bed time for me. Then they are usually up with the sun and we’re up with them. Sometimes, I get a little cranky after all of this and I start wishing for a break that I know just won’t come.

The real kicker is that I know, one day, I’m probably going to miss this. The day is going to come when my girls just really aren’t going to want daddy around that much. I will have lots of time for quiet and I will spend it thinking of the days when Phoebe and Zoe were small enough to want to use me as a couch. So I try to look for a balance. I want to be there for my girls as much as they need me to be. I also need to be true to my own personality. I am very much an introvert and need to recharge my “interaction program” now and then. I’m no good to them or anyone else if I’m they human equivalent of an alligator snapping turtle. I just have to know that I need to be patient because that time is hard to get right now.

I will drink an extra cup of coffee. I will go to therapy. I will apologize if I lose my mind and start wishing for an invisibility cloak. And I will do my best. I will never be perfect but I will be the best I can for my family.

Still, that invisibility cloak would be pretty awesome.

Another year

2014 is done for. 2015 has arrived. So far, it doesn’t feel any different.

It has been a few weeks since I last posted, primarily due to holiday insanity. This has left my brain in a state which resembles some form of pudding. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure when it will fully recover. Perhaps I should eat more bran?

I am not one of those people who makes New Year’s Resolutions, mainly because I know I will not keep them. So I will not pretend that I’ve miraculously changed just because I have to remember it’s 2015 when I sign my time sheet at work.

What I will do is share a few things that I hope I can accomplish this year. I will call these my New Year’s “I Think I Cans”.

1 – I will actually make an effort to eat better because I’ll be damned if I’m buying bigger pants.

2 – I will make sure that my wife, as “crazypants” as she can be, never questions that I love her.

3 – I will finally convince the cat that the world is not trying to eat her.

4 – I will make sure my girls continue to grow into beautiful people and not smelly jerks.

5 – I will play as many games, both video and table top, as possible.

6 – I will not let work stress me out as much as I can help it. I am, of course, human and prone to bitching.

7 – I will come up  with more interesting blog posts than this one.

Holidays: one day at a time

The turkeys have been sacrificed. The pumpkins have been pied. It is the official start of the holiday season. I like to think of it as Jingle Bell Ragnarök.

I think it is pretty clear that as an adult, I suffer from a little bit of Grinch syndrome when it comes to the holidays. I liked them fine as a kid. Then they just turned into one of those things you don’t look forward to so much as get through. You spend money you don’t have. You have the obligated time with relatives that you don’t speak to the rest of the year. And of course, you get to listen to people all over point out how their holiday is better or their holiday is overlooked or under attack or blah blah fart fart blah.

I don’t like this feeling. I actually really want to enjoy this time of year. So in the past couple of years I have been trying to focus on the things about the holidays that I like or the things I’ve added to make it better. I will share those in hopes that maybe this will help the festively impaired like myself.

1) Holiday Reading: I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. My fellow fans will not be surprised that I have made it a personal tradition to reread Hogfather during this season. This year I plan to follow it up with another read of Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel. Should the mood strike me afterwards I may just reread L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. These are all great books I recommend anytime but particularly now.

2) Little Family: I will clarify that I’m not talking about the big holiday extravaganza with way too many relatives. Or hanging out with the relatives you have little in common with. Oh, I will be doing those things and being an introverted personality, those exhaust me. However, my wife loves Christmas. And I have two little girls who are just starting to experience the holidays. Phoebe is old enough that she gets very excited about it, which I honestly love. This helps me remember that at one point I would look forward to Christmas. So now, I look forward to her being excited. I look forward to Zoe getting excited. Also, I have a few close friends who we try to include in our holiday plans. One is going to be spending Christmas with us and that makes me very happy. When I think on the small-scale and focus on the family I helped build it makes things special again.

3) Eggnog Ice cream: I like eggnog. I like ice cream. This is a no-brainer.

4) Seasonal Viewing: I have a soft spot for the nostalgic TV specials, like the Rankin-Bass classics and the animated Grinch. I am not particularly religious, but I love “A Charlie Brown Christmas” so very much. I have it on DVD in addition to “Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas” and “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street”. Then there are the holiday movies that will be on constantly. I like “Elf” so I make a point to try to catch that. I also am a firm believer that “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is both a Halloween and Christmas movie. I will accept no argument here!

5) Avoid the Mall Crazy: I think part of my holiday grumbling comes from having spent too much time in the customer service industry, especially retail. Do you want to see some of the worst of humanity? Work in retail during the holidays and it will happen. Now that this is no longer me, I intend to spend as little time in malls as possible. Yes, there is a little shopping left that needs to be done. If I can’t get it online or at a small store, then I will brave the mall. And I will be as nice as I can to everyone working.

6) Thank the Greetings: People can wish me whatever the hell they want. I have no issue with Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, or anything. Wish me a Festive Goat-Wrestling Day if that’s your thing. I appreciate any well wishes that you care to take the time to give me. I will thank you and wish the same to you.

The last thing I want to say is I’m well aware that there are much bigger issues around than my own curmudgeonly leanings. There are people who want to spend this time of year with others and they can’t. There are people who feel completely justified in being a modern Scrooge and will never change, no matter how many ghosts haunt the crap out of them. But if you are like me, and you want to enjoy the holidays but have trouble doing so then maybe this gives you some ideas. So Happy Whatever and may this be the year our hearts grow three sizes. Just not literally. That would be bad.

 

 

The inner badger

Sometimes I hold Zoe and she cuddles up to me with her thumb in her mouth. Sometimes I’m sitting on the couch and Phoebe will climb up next to me and just lean against me. Moments like these, besides prompting my wife to get out the camera, make me think that the girls look at me like I am the safest thing in the world. Daddy will protect them from everything.

Aw, crap! I know the reality.

There are lots of things that I just can’t protect them from. Truthfully, there are things I shouldn’t protect them from even though I want to. They will need to be disappointed, have their feelings hurt, and things that will break my heart to see but I know are just a part of growing up.

This post is mainly about the other stuff. The things or people out there that want to truly injure them, scar them, or take things away from them that they shouldn’t lose. Zoe’s sweetness. Phoebe’s friendliness. The innocence that will leave them eventually but should happen in it’s own time.

To anyone/anything that even thinks about hurting that, I am about to do something that is very un-beta male. I am about to make a threat.

Stay away from my girls. I will hurt you.

I hear the chuckles from the peanut gallery right now and it isn’t unexpected. I’m not a threatening or scary guy. I don’t get mad very easily. No one is really afraid of poking the bear when it comes to me. Which is fine. Honestly, the only bear I probably have anything in common with is Winnie-the-Pooh.

It’s the inner badger you should worry about.

Let me tell you about badgers. They are short and kind of stocky. They are very unassuming. They are kind of cute. They are the symbol of Hufflepuff at Hogwarts. And if anything attacks them or their families they get very, very nasty.

Go on youtube. Look for the videos of badger vs. grizzly bear or badger vs. two coyotes. The badger takes them on and doesn’t back down. That is me. Don’t hurt my kids. Hell, don’t hurt my wife. She doesn’t need me to stick up for her but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Don’t go after my family. I will protect them. I will throw my whole short, chubby little body at you. I will fight dirty. And I will fight to hurt. Not kill. I don’t want to kill. If something tries to hurt my girls, I want it to still be around at the end to realize that this little hobbit of a man took a chunk of it’s skin out with his teeth. Did I mention on Pottermore, I got sorted into Hufflepuff? I’m actually proud of that.

Don’t poke the badger.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play puzzles with Phoebe.