Tag Archives: love

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.

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A very nerdy “Thank You”

I love to read. I think I’ve made that pretty clear by now. Whether you know me personally or simply from these posts, I make no secret about loving stories and books. They are an important part of life in general, but particularly important to mine. I don’t care how much of a nerd it makes me, and I’m actually proud if it increases my nerdiness. It’s brain fuel and rejuvenates the spirit. I also believe that the characters we meet in books impact lives as much as any non-fictional person. Some of them stay with you forever.

It never stops unless you stop.  I will soon hit my 37th year on this planet. That makes for a good amount of reading. Some of it has been wonderful. I’ve also read some crap I’d never pick up again, even with a set of tongs. I’ve read some books that in the big scheme of things are glorified love letters to a genre, but still succeeded in creating a character or two I’ll never forget. And there are “classics” that I’ve read that left me with nothing. So much of it is a variable factor, different for each person who turns the page.

Characters that I’ve been impacted by have, in a good number of cases, found their way into TV and movies. You know the old phrase “the book was better” that gets tossed around? There is a lot of truth behind it. This is nothing against the adaptations. Yes, some are awful. That’s going to happen just as frequently with original work. I’ve made some attempts at original work that was probably the written equivalent of my cat launching out a hairball. There are also great adaptations from comic books, classics, modern novels and short stories. And yes, comics qualify as far as I’m concerned. Deal with it.

This is not going to be a particularly long post, but it does have a purpose other than me talking about my raging book boner. It is a simple thank you. To authors but also to characters. You mold us. You teach us how to think. You show us how to jump the hurdles and take the punches. For me, you gave me the chance to live different lives while I built my own. So thank you. Thank you for shaping some of the better aspects of who I am.

I will leave you with a short list of characters and the places to find them. I could make it very long, but consider this a suggestion if you need a place to get started or restarted with books.

Carrot Ironfoundersson: The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett

Shadow: American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Gandalf: The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

Fiver: Watership Down – Richard Adams

the Creature: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

the Cowardly Lion: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum

Rorschach: Watchmen – Alan Moore

Death: The Discworld Series  – Terry Pratchett

Harry Dresden: The Dresden Files Series – Jim Butcher

Bilbo Baggins: The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

Rubeus Hagrid: The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

Grendel: Grendel – John Gardner

What We Are: or, this is when I lose readers

If you know me on any kind of personal level, you know I hate talking about politics. I have a few reasons. I think that most of us have a tough time doing it without getting defensive. Mainly, it’s because I’ve become far too cynical where this kind of thing is concerned. We seem to get little done and the whole system is such a mess. No matter what people say, the ones who actually have any pull don’t seem to listen.

But over the last few weeks, particularly the last few days, I’ve gotten to the point where if I don’t say something I will make myself sick. And while I try to keep my sense of humor when I write, I just don’t feel like laughing at the moment.

I will never be one of those people who shouts their patriotism for all to hear. I’ve had moments when I’ve felt proud of my country and its people, and moments where I’m disappointed. But regardless of if I have pride or not, this is my home. I see it as something that just is, much like parts of my body just are. Whether I’m proud of my right arm or not, it is my right arm. I see no reason to change that. Still, I have to ask some questions.

When did we become so scared? When did we become so greedy?

I just find myself becoming confused these days. I understand being afraid. There are a lot of things that keep me up at night. I also understand wanting money. Not having it causes an insane amount of stress. But I thought that the point was to acknowledge these things and not let them run your life. Yet every time I go on Facebook or turn on the TV or read a news article, the opposite seems to be true. Is it baseless? No. There are scary things going on in the world. The economy, while a little better than it was, is still a mess. Now, do I think this excuses the behavior I’m seeing? Again, and emphatically, no!

What happened? Yes, I know that 9/11 happened. I know war has happened. I know people have been elected and blamed and defended and all that other stuff. Recently, I know that people in this country have been assaulted and shot and killed. I know that other places like Beirut and Paris have been victims of disgusting terrorist attacks. But rather than becoming stronger, we just seem to fall apart more each year. We could be trying to be better, which I understand is really hard to do. Trust me, I’m stubborn. I get how hard it can be to change anything! That’s why I try to make little changes, one at a time. But at least I’m trying. I’m sure a lot of people are trying just as hard, if not harder. But as a whole, I’ve been having a rough time with what we appear to have become. And what is that? What are we now?

What we are is a contradictory, confused mess. I see people who are terrified of refugees and want stricter background checks or to just make them go away. But suggest stronger checks for people buying guns and you hate freedom. You are trying to take their rights away. We lose our minds when people do crazy shit in the name of one religion, but turn away when it gets done in the name of another. People are throwing around hashtags and phrases like “pro-life” and “All Lives Matter” but couldn’t be bothered to do anything for the homeless, some of which are veterans. And yes, I can despise war and fighting and still support veterans. If you get to be complicated, so do I.

What we are is a society in which we demand people pay for what they want, which is fine. Not everything can be free. But not let them earn enough money to do so because some jobs are “more important than others” is ridiculous. We tell kids to get an education, then try to make it impossible to do so. And if they do, we only hire them for jobs they didn’t need an education to perform. And then we don’t have to pay them more because, again, some jobs are apparently more important than others. Besides, education can lead to science and that seems to be a bad thing now. Seriously, when did science and learning and just THINKING become bad?

What we are is a country where the type of person you are matters less than your gender, your religion, your income, your love life, your damn skin color. We are a society with a political system that has basically made the office of President pointless, because the rest of the government just wants to argue and BE right instead of DO right. We have politicians and people running for office who think that internment camps and making people wear religion-based ID is a good idea! And we still have individuals out there who think the so-called American Dream exists? I’m sorry, but the only “American Dream” that I’ve ever been aware of was a wrestler named Dusty Rhodes and he’s no longer with us.

I’m not looking to pick a fight. I’m just tired. And I make a lot of mistakes. But we have to do better and it won’t happen if we stay the way we are. But I don’t know what the answer is. I look at my daughters and as much as I love them, I get sad. I feel like they are doomed to live in a society that will always look down on them for something. Maybe their bodies, or their personalities, or their passions. I have to keep telling myself that there is still a lot of good in this world, but it gets harder the uglier I see people become. We don’t want to help each other anymore. I sometimes wonder if we ever really did.

This won’t break me. I will keep going. I just had to let it out. I don’t know what the answer is. I just know I have enough stomach issues without letting all this stuff turn into an ulcer. So I guess stop following me if I offend you. Stop talking to me if I disgust you. I won’t take it personally. I’m just done. If you stick around I’ll try to make the next post more fun. But right now I need a ginger ale.

The Negotiator and the Manipulator

Let me be honest. I love my daughters more than I can ever fully express. However, I fear we are raising a team of diabolical master planners. Beware world, lest you fall to the powers of Phoebe and Zoe.

For the prophets said, unto you shall come a tenacious negotiator and a mighty manipulator. They will appear cute, yet will unleash an age of parental oppression.

THE NEGOTIATOR: Phoebe loves to haggle. She’s four and, I repeat, she loves to haggle. I pity the poor future salesperson who will deal with her. If my mother-in-law offers her some pieces of chocolate (let’s say two pieces), Phoebe will ask for ten.

P-“How bout ten, Nonni?”

N-“How about two?”

P-“How bout eight?”

N-“How about four, Phoebe?”

P-“Okay, Nonni.”

Granted, I am of the opinion that if a grandparent wants to spoil their grandchild, they’re allowed. But Phoebe will try this with everyone on just about everything. Maybe she can watch “Sofia the First” AND have a story? Can she take a toy in the tub with her? How about TWO toys? And in the case of her parents, if it doesn’t work with one she will try the other.

“Mommy, can we go to the cat food store? Maybe Daddy can take me.”

“Daddy, can we have a treat? Maybe Mommy can get me a treat.”

She’s determined, I’ll give her that. And she knows how to be cute about it.

THE MANIPULATOR: Sweet little Zoe. Full of great big feelings and perfectly content to play with your emotions to get her way. She just turned two last month and she is becoming more and more of a troublemaker. And she is queen of the big “boo boo” face. Did you just do something she doesn’t like? Here comes the little pout and the teary eyes.

“Poor little Zozo. Here we’ll give you snuggles.”

Just like that, myself, her mom, or a grandparent scoops her up for a snug. She has poked at our squishy spots and struck gold. Oh, and forget about it if her sister gets a treat a Zoe doesn’t. Here come the big feelings! Quick, someone fetch blueberries or some crackers!

Now,Lisa and I genuinely love that Zoe is a sensitive little thing. But I’ll be damned if she doesn’t now how cute we think she is. As much as we may not want to admit it, she can play both of us just as well as her sister. Diabolical, I tell you.

Do I really think this is all that different from what other parents deal with? Not really. Do they always get their way? Definitely not. Which then leads to little meltdowns, time outs, taking toys away, and an early bedtime. It’s a pre-schooler and a toddler. This is all to be expected. And at the end of the day, these girls have their good days and bad days like anyone else. And there will be more as they continue to grow.

I realize I have a bias as a parent, but I think that Phoebe and Zoe are both pretty good girls. And I will do my best to make sure they grow into good people and amazing women. Hopefully, they won’t drive me totally nuts in the process.

The people funk

It has been a few weeks since I’ve even attempted to write anything. Some of it has to do with poor time management on my part. The bulk of it, however, is that I haven’t been in the happiest place over the last few weeks. My stress level has been up and my overall mood has been pretty low. The littlest thing will turn into a psychotic monkey flinging poo all over my day. I think that this funk I’ve been in has to do with a personal realization I’ve had.

I’m probably not alone in this, but I have come to the conclusion that I have a very strong love/hate view of people. This is different from what I though I believed, or from what many of my friends have told me I project. But honestly, I think I’ve been fooling myself.

I want to like people. I have always told myself that I do. But I now think it would be more accurate to say I like the occasional person. In fact, it’s safe to say that there are a few people I adore and will do anything I can for. But the rest of the people out there? At best, I am neutral until given reason to feel otherwise. At worst, be thankful I don’t have the Force and can’t psychically choke you. People quite often, and I include myself here, suck. We treat each other awfully. In my professional life I am constantly reminded of that. Maybe that’s part of the problem. I deal with the general public too much. I need to find a line of work where I just don’t habitually deal with people. I wonder how a person breaks into grave digging?

I guess my real issue comes back to the fact that there are people I know who are quite wonderful. An individual person can be remarkable. And it make me have hope. Then I come to the realization that this is an exception, not the rule.

My girls are growing. I don’t want them to feel this way about the world. So how do I help them become the exceptions? Is it just about putting on a show for them until they’re adults? I want them to be amazing, loving, good people. But I’m sure that has to be a common desire for parents. So do parents just habitually fail? Are my wife and I just doomed to add to the population of assholes? That can’t be the truth. I have to hope I can do better.

There we go. Minor rant over. I will try to write about something silly the cat does next time.

The Up-Hug

Like many toddlers, my Phoebe is an adorable tsunami. She is a cute little girl who leaves destruction in her wake. Zoe, my one-year-old, is much more sensitive but is also showing signs that she’s capable of just as much chaos. So I don’t envision things calming anytime soon. But they more than make up for this by just being themselves. Lately, Phoebe has introduced something into our lives that I really love.

She asks for an Up-Hug.

Basically, this is Phoebe’s way of telling you that she wants to be picked up and held. My wife has told her she can just ask us to hold her. She still asks for an Up-Hug. And I’m more than happy to give it to her. I just love the idea of it. What’s funny is that Zoe, who only knows about 3 words, has also always been clear about when she wants to be picked up. If we walk over to her she raises and flaps her little arms, so excited at the prospect of being  picked up and held.

I love the idea of the Up-Hug. Maybe I just like that this little action has a name now. Maybe it’s because I know at some point Phoebe and Zoe are going to be too big to just pick up and hold. Maybe I’m just happy that out of all the possible phrases Phoebe could have come up with for something, she is using this one. It’s better than Grab-Chomp or Stab-Foot. I’m not even sure what those things would be.

The more I think about it, the need for an Up-Hug is something that doesn’t really leave. I can think of plenty of times when I wished someone could just pick me up and make me feel better. It’s not realistic, I know, but since when have emotions and logic been friends? It’s nice to think that at least for a little while, this is something that helps make my daughters’ little world better. This is something that I can do. I won’t always be able to fix everything for them, but I can give an Up-Hug.

I’m not a big guy. I do, however, like to think I give a pretty good hug. So I’m going to try my best to put the spirit of the Up-Hug into every hug I give to my kids, my wife, and my friends. Yes, with the exception of my kids I will not likely be picking anyone up and holding them. Not if I want to avoid increased back pain. But the warm spirit of the Up-Hug will be there. So again, I thank Phoebe for coining this term. She’s a pretty great little girl.

Now if I can only get her to not smear butter in her hair.

The little guy

It has been brought to my attention numerous times, usually by people who like having a “state the obvious contest,” that I’m not a tall man. This is true. I’m 5′ 7″ on a good day. Not as short as I could be, but in a country where a lot of men seem to be closer to the six feet mark it’s short enough. Even my own three-year-old recently referred to me as a little guy (which was, admittedly, pretty funny) and she is only about hip high.

Honestly, I’m fine with it. My 5’6″ wife didn’t wear heels at our wedding because she didn’t want to tower over me. She was also afraid of tripping, but that happened anyway when we danced. I am constantly compared to a hobbit and a Muppet, which is cool because I like those things.

What can get frustrating is that every so often, you run into someone who looks at it as a character flaw. There are people who obviously think that men who aren’t tall are inferior, weak, or stupid. If you try to be assertive, you get accused of having the dreaded Napoleon complex. It also sucks when someone who is taller than you tries to use this to intimidate you. Because we are apparently all cave people, and being the biggest and strongest is the end of it all. Oh wait, it’s not.

I like not feeling cramped in my car. There have been plenty of times where not being a tall guy has been in my favor. I rarely have an issue finding clothes in my size.  Most importantly, my wife has no issue with it. She loves me as is, hobbit legs and all.

If you are one of those people who think of me as “the little guy,” that’s fine. My daughter followed up her observation by exclaiming that she loved the little guy. That’s the best endorsement I can get.