Featured

Perfect Timing

Well, hello friends new and established! I’ve been off the radar for a minute, so my apologies to everyone who has been wondering what ever became of me.

I would like to kick off my blog with something awesome and profound. Matt Banner @ On Blast Blog suggests polishing the opening post and starting strong. Somewhere in his 40 tips for blogging is a quote about it never being the perfect time for anything.

However, there’s something to be said for mission accomplishment. I have been trying to find 30 min just to sign up but between driving for Uber, launching a business with my girlfriend, and chasing after two 6 year old terrors, it has evaded me. One key to getting shit done is being opportunistic with time, and right now is the perfect time to stare at my phone since life just gave me a great big slap on the sciatic nerve! Ugh, what incredible pain to suffer. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, but the last 7 hours has been relentlessly awful. Really, though, I don’t know which is worse-the actual pain or the frustration of being so incapacitated that I have to be dragged to the bathroom!

Well, considering the pen is mightier than the sword and I can’t even lift my head without agonizing pain, it is indeed the perfect time to get blogs up and other screen time efforts underway. I have a project I hope to post on IndieGoGo and events to line out for vending. I will be posting updates on all of my efforts here as well as my own ramblings. 

So, pretty as my first blog may or may not be, here it is!

post

I have a lot of good stuff to fill my blog posts with, so I can roll with the ocean scene for a first. I was 18 years old on a cross country road trip when I first saw the Atlantic. Since then, I could hardly imagine living more than a couple hours from an ocean. Feeling small, so miniscule while gazing at the vastness is curiously enlightening. Few things in this world can ground you in the moment like that. Except a child’s love 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

One Magical Day

…when I have money again

Sara in LaLa Land posted a bucket list and I thought I’d give mine a revamp!

Money doesn’t buy happiness, they say. Whoever they are, they apparently have too much of it if they can’t find happiness. I would frankly be stoked simply to pay all of my bills one month. However, one day when money and kids are not a hindrance, here’s a few things for my bucket list.

Snowboard the Alps. I grew up in Colorado near a legendary ski area. The powder was deep, some years the slopes would be open before Halloween, and some years would stay open past spring vacation. The west coast states, though I love living in the PNW, just don’t get that high altitude fluffy powder. I would also be happy getting some action in Alaska, though it just doesn’t have the same exotic appeal to it.

Fiji getaway. Simple enough. I just want to spend a week or two lazing around half naked and go diving in the reef. I started diving in Okinawa as an alternative to getting shit faced every weekend. Since then, I’ve enjoyed only a handful of dives in my adventures. I lost all my underwater photos in the course of life. I had a huge collection of ‘sea slugs’ photos. Sad, but it only means that one day I will have to go take more photos!

Take family to 6 Flags. Another one of those odd growing up things was being just close enough to Denver to feasibly make a day trip to Elitch Gardens. For most families, that is. I still to this day haven’t made it there. I did go to the one in LA a couple times while stationed at Pendleton. I mean, the fair rolls in with all the usual rides: the zipper, tilt a whirl, some version of centrifugal force ride where everyone is pasted to the wall, the swings… Okay, yay and stuff, but some of us have leaped off bridges and out of aircraft for fun. The Batman ride, now there’s some fun! I can’t wait until the kids are old enough that I can take them to enjoy all those things!

Speaking of thrills, man would I love to do what Dane Cook did on one comedy tour and fly a plane in a dogfight! Does that company still exist? It wasn’t exorbitantly expensive when I checked it out, and I would be stoked to have such an opportunity! I would probably still have a hard time finding someone to go with me. Not everyone has the stomach for that kind of physical upheaval!

Hot Air Balloon Ride. Simple as that. Just a peaceful, gentle excursion with lots of time to take in the sights. Skydiving is epic for the sight, but admittedly a scant few minutes is hardly worth the cost. The southwest is famous for ‘habbing’ and I always thought it would be just about the best excursion for a birthday or anniversary.

Romantic cruise ship getaway. Another one of those simple things. I suppose I could enjoy a Caribbean tour, as it would flow nicely with the minimal clothes theme for the ship bound part of the trip! However, I really don’t care for the heat, so Alaska has always sounded more appealing. Glaciers and northern lights are definitely more my flavor.

Yep, one day

Breakfast Hero

“W” is for WIN (and Waffles)

I just washed the iron from the last delicious batch of waffles and thought I’d share this with the parenting community.

I got my waffle iron one very difficult Christmas from a dear mentor at school. She’s a seasoned mom and has that magical mom way of doing just the right little thing to make all the difference in the world. A crock pot was also gifted at that time, also quite treasured, but I feel like the crock gets all the praise and media attention.

Ask the kids what they want for breakfast…

“Can we have waffles!?” Comes the excited request. The recipe is so simple, the kids can even measure and mix it themselves with guidance. They can be frozen and thrown in the toaster (if it fits). They can be flavored with extracts other than vanilla. Really, they are quite flexible. You can go all the way outside the box and serve with chicken nuggets! Why not?

Saturday morning family breakfast is our semi religious gathering, so that certainly fuels the desire for these geometrically delightful breakfast icon. However, they are also quite packable and portable. After they cool, they soften and are no longer a major crumb threat to the back seat! Load them with berries and you remove the burning need to slather them in artificially flavored high fructose corn syrup for ingestion!

Anything you can imagine putting on a crepe is fair game for waffle amendments. PB&J to yogurt to Nutella, to even more berries! You could even put the actual distilled sap of the Acer Saccharum on them, if you are so inclined. Or agave…

Parents, if you don’t have a waffle iron, do yourself the favor of the year and go get one! You will be amazed at the hangry taming power of this highly understated tool! I sure have been.

Moving Forward

Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves?

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my girl was lied to and hosed over by corporate ass fuckery once again. January is getting to be the month of unexpected unemployment for us. In any case, after stressing out of our minds for the last 3 or 4 weeks, she has finally found gainful employment again. I might be getting my hopes up, but the benefits are above and beyond and her initial impression of her new coworkers as ‘bubbly’ makes me think she might just have found a good long term fit. 

As for myself, money problems, not seeing the sun for weeks on end, being socked in with the cold rain, and the holiday season overall was enough damper to make me not want to get out of bed most days. My 30’s have had me down, but after a while I guess you come to the conclusion that you may as well, “get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’. ” (Shawshank Redemption)  Before you get concerned, rest assured that my boy’s bright, happy face and great big hugs  (like his dad’s) keep me grounded through everything. So, I’ve been chewing on this question all month and then some: what now?   

Without reliving too many miserable details, I have to say that I would pin this ‘midlife crisis‘ thing, if that’s what you want to call it, down to having to learn how to let go of your past hopes and dreams that didn’t work out, and find a new meaningful future starting from where you are. I suppose we are sort of guided as teenagers on our course of self-discovery and identity. You have to write all these thoughtful essays on how you understand and feel about the world, and coming out of high school you sort of have some idea about what your life should look like. Your roaring twenties roll around, and you’re full of piss-n-vinegar! You experience your first real world achievements, often your first really meaningful intimate relationship, and you start to set life goals. Then, struggle. Then, getting tripped up. Then failure followed by more failure. Next thing you know, everything you worked so hard to achieve is a damn mess and you start wondering how long it will be before you find yourself pitching a tent under Burnside Bridge! 

Without wanting to, my search for the answer to, “what the hell do I do now?”, led me to wondering just what I’m all about. Maybe I attached my identity to a dream future that didn’t come true. Maybe I lost myself along the way. Maybe I was distracted by the wrong glittery, shining things in life. Maybe that streak of success fooled me into forgetting the simple,  ubiquitous fact that life’s a bitch! 

Whatever the case, I’m starting to regroup and make a plan for moving forward. I’ve had to settle into myself like an expertly made cheesecake (for the love of desserts, don’t fuck with it for at least twelve hours! Why is this so hard?) or since I’m more of a savory foodie who more often than not gets the trial by fire treatment, maybe more like a homemade salsa made with flame roasted peppers. Either way, I’ve had to examine my past to accomplish this, and that’s been half the battle. 

The other half of the battle has been to find affirmation in the way I’ve dealt with my circumstances. See my previous post if you care to hear me rant and split hairs on choice, consequence, and circumstance. My early followers probably know that I have severed connections with my father and though I haven’t refused contact with my mother, still haven’t spoke to her in years. I won’t have alcoholism in my life, and I have neither the desire nor constitution to drag someone into reality that has chosen to be checked out of it. These are my choices, and I made them for a reason. 

Somehow, conversation with my girl last night triggered a chain of difficult memories, and I purged myself of some emotional indigestion over this fact. Sometimes, you just gotta let all that poison out of you to be mentally healthy again. This morning, with the ‘taste of it’ still lingering in my mind, I have this song in my head. I’ve given it a few listens and let it wash over me. There’s a lot behind this song for me. (Graphic content advisory: mild violence in YouTube clip, lyrics at the bottom if you’d rather not or the link doesn’t work) In fact, the movie it’s from, Kelly’s Heroes, is pretty damn classic, too. Even if war flicks aren’t your flavor, (though it’s minimal gore) I would say the all star cast from young Clint Eastwood to Don Rickles makes it worth seeing at least once. It has a lot of clean, old fashioned humor with a gold heist theme. The song resonated with my mother, and it took me until my adult years to understand why. Moreover, the movie stuck with me thanks to Donald Sutherland enlightening me to what it means to be a hippie out of his natural habitat. Come to think of it, I lived out quite a bit of that character’s role in my own service! Ha ha! I’m not even embarrassed about it! Woof, woof! 

Well, there you have it. Accepting who I am, accepting everything that’s happened, and getting the hell on with it. I will leave you with these lyrics and promise to be back soon to share my itchy green thumbs and projects.

“Burning Bridges” sung by The Mike Curb Congregation 

Friends all tried to warn me but held my head up high. All the time they warned me but I only passed them by.

They all tried to tell me but I guess I didn’t care. I turned my back and left them standing there. 

All the burning bridges that have fallen after me. All the lonely feelings and the burning memories. 

Everyone I left behind each time I closed the door. Burning Bridges lost forevermore. 

Joey tried to help me find a job a while ago. When I finally got it I didn’t want to go. 

The party Mary gave for me when I just walked away. Now there’s nothing left for me to say. 

All the burning bridges that have fallen after me. All the lonely feelings and the burning memories. 

Everyone I left behind each time I closed the door. Burning Bridges lost forevermore. 

Years have passed and I keep thinking what a fool I’ve been. I look back into the past and think of way back then. 

I know that I lost everything I thought that I could win. I guess I should have listened to my friends. 

All the burning bridges that have fallen after me. All the lonely feelings and the burning memories. 

Everyone I left behind each time I closed the door. Burning Bridges lost forevermore. Burning bridges lost forevermore. 

Choice and Circumstance

Same shit…different year. 

I was about to post another “It’s Always Something” rant. However, this week I also did some housecleaning on my blog, reading through my thoughts at various moments through last year and judiciously deleting the unnecessary. Man, I’ve sure done more bitching than I care to display!

So….what now? Somehow, I don’t feel like my ‘digital penmanship’ is entertaining enough for everyone (anyone) to want to keep reading that crap. Besides, when I started this blog, I really had hoped I could use it as a medium to display my work. Truth be told, I really relish the presentation of a product. Despite my flurry of emotions when my product is less than impressive, I still enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and (am I vain for saying so?) I really love the empowerment of people recognizing my work. The most casual compliment makes me feel valuable and, I don’t know, true. Like I’m not just some schmuck with big ideas and a bigger mouth, like I actually go forth with my claims. 

That post, which I may or may not just delete, sort of followed my rambling thoughts to the heart of it all: Choices and circumstances.  

We all understand choice, at least we think we do. Maybe industrialization has numbed our minds with the constant need to make decisions, such that we are either complacent or exhausted by time the big ones come around. Either way, our minds do their best to process the inputs of our senses across the record of known outcomes with each option. 

I admit I’m not a fucking people person. Yet, in many instances, I’m embraced and cheered on. Pushed into leadership, even. It’s all well and good when I get to enjoy leading people who are naturally dedicated to the objective. When it comes to those difficult type people, however, all the worst sides of me come out. What really blows my mind is when those difficult people present their emotional plea and label me a bully.  

Well, before I chase that rabbit too far, let’s crack this choice nut. I suppose we don’t have a lot of choice in waking up or falling asleep. Everything between that, though,  requires a conscious decision. I have to choose to even so much as get out of bed after waking. Even though water, food, shelter, etc. are all necessities to survive, taking them in is a choice. I know that’s getting morose, but I have to bring this to attention: survival –sustaining your life– is a choice! 

So, that’s the long and short of it. Just like every last theorem in mathematics is rooted in addition and subtraction, every last choice we make is ultimately for the sake of survival. Can I live with charcoal gray, or do I absolutely have to have black? Can we shoot a rocket to the moon by lots and lots of addition or are we isolated to this terra-firma from which we came? It’s the same question, with different content. 

Choice. We can choose charcoal gray or black, and I think there’s a realization to face that the consequences of either are miniscule in comparison to the consequences of making the purchase at all. The choice to shoot a manned craft to the moon? There are a plethora of known risks and consequences, but ultimately it does boil down to survival. Most humans are prone to want to continue living and surviving as comfortably as possible.

Choosing can be overwhelming. I get that. Consequences of our choices is more to the point of this lengthy post. What do we do when our decision has been made and it’s not in line with expectations? I have to put that in bold, and maybe even repeat it. What do we do, how do we react, what  subsequent decisions do we make, when the effects of our initial decision are undesirable, distasteful, or unpopular? 

Consequences. Are you wondering if I lost track and rambled onto this instead of circumstance? I didn’t, and here’s the punchline: people, especially those fucking difficult people, love to confuscate consequence with circumstance.

Let me make this perfectly clear, and I will even quote it just to be sure, consequence is a result of choice. Oxford and Webster pretty much say the same thing, but I love vocabulary.com for their bold and direct definition. 

A consequence comes after, or as a result of something you do. 

…Something you do. Rather, a choice you make. Doing implies action, but inaction clearly brings consequence, as well. It’s an effect of reactions set into motion by you, that you later find to be undesirable. 

I guess that about draws the line between circumstance and consequence, but I’m not hopping off my soapbox yet! Circumstances are what they are. They describe our environment, implying a one-way relationship to those in it. As before, I turn to the authorities on meaning, and I easily spot my supporting documentation at dictionary.com . 

A condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner,agent, etc., that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event; a modifying or influencing factor:

 Fact is the root word here. Another source said it exactly as something environmental, inherent, and outside your control. Absolutely no choice you make will negate the outcome that circumstances induce. Sure, there’s a spectrum here. You can certainly do the best you can in every situation. 

If I was handy with memes, I’d insert one of Bert from Tremors 2. Stupid movie, classic scene, I’m only sort of surprised I had to look so hard for it. 

However, as I’m backing myself up, I stumble on the real issue. Those same authorities I called on also define circumstance as:

One’s state of financial or material welfare. 

Disclaimer: I hate politics and I entirely disapprove of America’s current disgrace of a president. However, I have to really challenge this definition following the lines of a quite unpopular statement made by him. 

Is poverty really a circumstance, or is it a consequence of choice?? 

I grew up poor. I worked. At the tender age of 10, I held my first 40 hour per week job. I didn’t have a lot of choice, but I did have one. If I were another child, I would have chosen to fuck around all day at best, or be a screaming, fussing nightmare for all involved at worst. I didn’t want to not have things, and I sure as hell didn’t want to be homeless, so I chose to be a good lad and work diligently. But, as my boss and parents were aligned in this scheme to provide some sort of slush fund, I still grew up in poverty. Emancipation was kept a secret from me until it was too late, else I damn sure would have just paid my own fucking rent, thank you very much!

I signed a dotted line in the middle of a war. Not a single faculty member could understand why a perennial honor roll student would willingly step into harm’s way. Probably because not a soul was aware that my parents put a roadblock in my future by lying on their taxes. Every university I applied for wanted me, but without filing a FAFSA, my options were this: get shot at and maybe dead for a chance at a future or continue to pay for my parents’ livelihood at the cost of my own life… I mean, I had a fucking choice, didn’t I? My options were absolute shit, but I did what I could with what I had. The career counselor looked down on me, and my service commitment wasn’t even announced upon graduation, unlike my fellow reserve-ees. They said I couldn’t get an education in the Corps, and I came out with an Associates. Doing what I can with what I got. 

I made my choice. I could hardly be happier about any choice in my life, because from that point on, I no longer suffered in poverty. 

Until the last few years. The state is beating me up for overdue child support. My car got repossessed. I have a stack of 72-hour notices and an eviction on record to boot. I haven’t paid student loans, credit card, vehicle insurance, or even daycare for almost half a year. Rent is coming up hard and fast, and I expect to have all of $400 to throw at it. 

Circumstances, right? 

NO!!    

I have made choices. All these years, I have been making choices. These choices have led me here, and now what? I’m suffering the consequences, and my child, along with another’s, are suffering the circumstances. This woman and I are stressed with the consequences of our choices, and our children are living with the circumstances.  

Coming into the new year, I cannot just continue to do the same damn thing, hoping for a different result. I’m not incarcerated or confined. I’m not living out in the boonies, and I’m not without a means to communicate. I have options, which means I have choices. I guess the ultimate point of this is that I have some foresight as to the consequences of my choices, and the range of outcomes possible in my circumstances

Stupid is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Defiant is making the same detrimental choices and blaming everything but your own choices for the consequences. Circumstances are nothing more than conditions actually outside your control that you should be considering when making a choice. 

Now, about that rabbit. If I’m relied on to make positive outcome decisions for the benefit of all parties, and I am met with defiance or inaction, does my frustration really make me a bully? If things are going really bad for everyone, and it’s another’s choices driving it, am I really a bully for trying to set them on the right path? For fuck’s sake, I stress so much over how to approach every situation with courtesy and finesse, I really can’t make the connection between my efforts and bullying. But, isn’t it just fucking peculiar that every last person who places that label on me is absolutely devastated when I leave them? Hmm, I thought a bully was a person you don’t want around because of the conflict they bring? I’m not being a bully, I’m just making the tough choices nobody else wants to face. Sometimes, that choice is walking away from the fucking difficult people in my life. Don’t hate me for having to live with the consequence of my absence after choosing to be difficult!

Courting the Dressing

“Ugh, I’m sick of ranch, can we get something different?” my girlfriend asks as we walk along the condiments. I give an affirmative grunt. Great, now we have to stand here and debate back and forth for ten minutes what flavor might appease all parties concerned. The conundrum of choice. We look. I notice the raspberry vinaigrette.

“Whatever you do, don’t waste your money on that one” I point out. My mind wanders off to a time I was on a late night kitchen rampage attempting half a dozen combinations and concoctions before admitting that raspberry is just never going to combine well with vinegar, no matter how intoxicated the consumer is. 

I hate the fact that it is never just her shopping or me shopping. To me, getting groceries is some kind of Ninja Warrior type event, where the goal is to get all the shit on the list as fast as possible without wrecking the produce, eggs, or bread. Yep, I’m the midlife, long haired shit that never grew up, riding the cart and kicking skater style through the store. Newman’s Own ranch, there! Scrrrr, snatch, kick and gone. To her, it’s a lengthy exercise in having to make critical decisions over and over. The critical decision of the moment being just which one out of half an aisle full of options will win her heart, eyes and tastebuds? Clearly, the ranch is not doing it for her these days. 

I see this raspberry vinaigrette isn’t a one brand show, and I start to ponder the deeper implications of the market given the immense selection and drastic price differences. Anything from 99 cent mostly made of corn products ranch to a small $6 glass bottle of goddess, and that horrid sweet-sour combination only appearing in the mid range to expensive. 

I reach the end of the aisle and turn around trying not to look annoyed, but there’s a reason I don’t play cards, you know? She finally reaches into the shelf and pulls out the Newman’s Own fucking ranch. I’m not the least bit surprised. Before stepping away with it, she saw the Chipotle ranch and avocado ranch. If my deceitful <ahem> poker face wasn’t telling her it was time to go, my grabbing the cart did.  

Later on in the shopping experience, we come to the toilet paper. This being near the end of the journey, I offer up my unsolicited advice, “let’s just get this brand this time.” That being said, her first consideration is to wonder what the price difference is between this brand and Charmin. I’m the only one who prefers Charmin extra strength, because I don’t appreciate the treatment of John Wayne tp but kinda need it at the same time on occasion. So, if I’m okay with the cheaper stuff this time, why ask? Well, then there’s roll count to consider. Twelve? Eighteen? Twenty four pack? Regular or jumbo roll? Ply count?? Fuck’s sake!

I stare at the Brauny guy for a minute, chuckling to myself at the thought of how sex sells and it’s not just men’s eyes being seduced. A whole aisle of paper, behind each roll some graphic designer’s attempt to woo emotionally driven and indecisive shoppers. 

I don’t get it, but then again I’ve always shopped by price tag. If most people thought the way I did, the grocery store would feature about 10 feet of aisle with plain cardboard boxes encasing each option. The limited printing would show the bare minimum of carton information, along with a hazmat style 3 point chart to indicate comfort, strength, and ability to remove shit. But I suppose by this point, I would rather have built the whole store into a pick-n-place warehouse conveniently networked with my fridge and pantry so I don’t even have to remember we need tomato sauce, ranch dressing, or toilet paper in the first place! 

The Year in Summary

Seeking an answer to “what now?”

I got nothing. 

I have been emotionally worn out for, well, the entire year. Shit sure is a mess. There have been some highs with the lows, but little of this year has come without suffering. I have been ready for this year to be over longer than that lump of shit has been in office. I guess the hardest part of it has been just rationalizing it all. What the hell happened? What happened this year? For that matter, what happened this last 3..5..something years? What happened since I was a super senior about to go make waves in the world with my double major? 

The debts have accumulated to a ridiculous level. “Sir, do you realize what this is going to do to your credit?” I can only reply, “Nothing that hasn’t already been done.” Seriously, the damage is more than done. You can take it to Uncle Sam or to a collector, but get in line either way because no amount of consequence is going to allow me to conjure up money faster than I am right now. 

I clung to school for dear life to save my sanity through divorce. Now that it’s all over and the dust is settled, I feel like I have lost my anchoring. I’m adrift in the world and every failure comes with a switch to the back side. Left to do little more than navigate over each swell of misfortune, I can’t say that I have any bearing at all on the course of my life. I have been so pulled into the moment that I haven’t really taken time to look back and haven’t possessed the faith to look forward.

So, this is where I’m at in closing out the year. I don’t have the words yet to describe what happened. I don’t have a lot of avenues for chewing much of it over, as my friends are so busy and my partner doesn’t find many parts of my life tasteful to share. I gave a thought last month to doing a NaNoWriMo memoir of my life in the last 15 years. A few thousand words into it, children and work and housework and crisis management and vehicles breaking down and…filed in the “it was a nice thought” folder. Still, now that I considered the notion, I do feel sort of an urge to follow through on it.

Perhaps a short list is best for now. I might sound dismal for saying so, but pulling ourselves into 2018 seems less crossing the finish line celebratory and more thank fuck we get to move past 2017. 

In any case, here’s what I can say for the last 12 months. 

Worst:

  • Starting the year off with sciatica. I didn’t just lose income, I lost an ongoing opportunity that paid very generously and a valuable connection. My girl lost at least 2 weeks of income taking care of me and all the things I would usually take care of. The pain, the embarrassment, and the palpable disrespect from people I never expected it from just kicked off the whole year on a bad note. 
  • Eviction. Though we were able to settle up and avoid being preemptively removed, the motion made it to the record. After that black eye, you can imagine the kind of living conditions we had to settle for. Well, at least there weren’t roaches crawling everywhere when we moved in like another apartment I experienced. Still, there is no chance for an upgrade in housing in the near future, and it’s just a bit of a bummer. 
  • Repossession. I loved my car. The family loved my car. Now it’s gone and we are left to juggle the kids and two adults with one vehicle that uncomfortably seats 3. It just had to happen- ripping the band aid off and getting on with life. The finance company could have been more helpful, but they didn’t want to help me keep it. They simply wanted all the money I owed right away. Because surely I have a few thousand laying around that I’m just being stingy with, right? 

I mean, am I right in calling this a shit year? What can I say? Let’s just get on with it.

The best of the year:

  • Feeling normal. It was just one day, and it was nothing of a normal situation. In a desperate escape from life one lucky child-free weekend, we went to the coast to visit my best friend. We slept in the car at the bay, because what the hell else is a hatchback good for? We woke up at low tide with the cool, foggy morning air, and ventured out to explore. Without a care for time or a thought of anything or anyone else in the world, we chased crabs and poked at anemones. It was just the two of us on the beach for a while, and for just a little while I felt completely at peace with life. I felt normal, like just another person in the world connecting with the earth. 
  • Time with my kids. This last summer was next to impossible. Having a child without affordable daycare pretty much tanks one adult’s ability to earn income. It was tough having to make do with the park and library all summer, but at least we all had that time together. This next year, things are changing. Our kids are taking care of their own hair, which is the last bathroom assistance we had left to provide. They are using the table knives and learning to do basic cooking things. If we up the wage for doing chores, they might do those, too! But, last summer was it. This next summer, they will have daycare and it won’t be frantic days of pass-the-kids and trying to squeeze in just two hours of work in a day. But, I also won’t have those several other hours of the day spent with them. 
  • Building a network. I suppose this is really the key to working for yourself. Rideshare driving is a nice way to ease into self employment since it negates the whole need of a client base. To really take a skill and venture forth under your own gumption requires more of yourself. Honestly, I can’t say that I had a network to start with. All of my friends are off having high paying engineering jobs, which means I had a large supply of character references but not a lot in the way of casual work. I took a cabinet job over the summer that sprouted into more work with the company and more work from employees of the company. I finally have a contractor to vouch for me and throw me an occasional bone. I still need more work to pull myself completely back on my feet, but having a bunch of people backing me is all the difference. 

    Se la vie 2017. Happy new year and best of luck for 2018!

    I have a family

    What that actually means for me

    I have a family, so eh…

    I state this, but in almost the same manner as someone sending radio signals to distant stars hoping for a response from another life form. Especially during the holidays when people across the globe are embracing their loved ones and basking in the community of their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. Most people conjure up warm, blanketing feelings of embrace and security. I suppose they are not wrong to do so, but at the same time I fail to convey the message with this simple phrase. 

    Some days, I want to take photos of my household. I want people to understand the extent of work that goes into ‘I have a family’. Those mornings where I can’t even make coffee because the kitchen sink is full of dishes. So is every square inch of the counter. The range not only adorned with grungy pots and pans, some full of solidified grease or leftover boiling liquid, but often heavily coated in sauce or oil from last night’s dinner. That’s only the beginning. There’s the dishwasher that needs to be emptied loaded or started, the dinner table to clear and wipe down, plants to water and shuffle around to share the precious little sunlight, laundry to pick up and wash, floors to sweep and mop, porcelain to scrub, drains to unclog, trim to re-adhere after the kids pick and peel it off the wall, disgusting smells emanating from sources that require even more cleaning to discover, bodily fluids to clean up after…

    It’s not like there’s a magical dirt fairy that flies in, swishes a little wand and poof! all our soiled undies and burger grease is gone. That’s my time. Three hours every morning of my time. It’s like a fucking part time job just keeping up with the basics, all for a hug and kiss. 

    Then there’s the more extensive things. Grocery shopping, deep cleaning things like heaters, fixing the espresso machine when the frothing nozzle clogs, fixing the kids toys when they break them, fixing the truck when it goes down. Providing solutions to the more challenging aspects of life is always appreciated, yet it’s still not like I’m getting a paycheck for it. 


    I have a family to take care of. As much as I look forward to a day when the kids can do their own laundry and hopefully their dishes, the fact of the matter is that time is neither now nor anytime soon. So much work goes into chasing kids around every day, and that doesn’t even speak to the real life shattering moments. 

    I was not happy to be sitting where I was yesterday morning. Asking for a handout is not my style, but to be reminded once again the need for me to get a legitimate, on the books job just fucking kills me. I just had to retort with the simple question that seems to have no answer: just what the hell are we supposed to do with our kids??  What do I mean? I mean December 18th and the following 3 weeks that there is no daycare available! I mean that, “hey boss, I need three weeks off this month” doesn’t fucking fly after needing 6 days off the month just gone. I mean that there truly is not a job that will give me enough sick days just to cover the times my kids get sick. I mean that I literally cannot have any job that starts before 9am because I have kids to shuttle around. I also cannot have a job that runs later than 5pm because I have to shuttle kids around. One would like to believe such accommodations would be available, but alas, not so much. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to do all of this for my family. I know that at least my girlfriend appreciates what I do. My beef is that society at large doesn’t value or appreciate what I do. I do work, as well, thank you all very much. As much as possible, I have a few folks that keep me busy with little projects. It’s enough to make up at least a part time income, but not nearly enough to pay all my bills. 

    Having pointed out the obvious fact that one school vacation alone far exceeds the stock standard two weeks leave even a decent employer offers, the helpful case worker says under her breath that we should maybe consider leaving the kids at home while we each work. At that point, my poor mind was kidnapped and hauled off in the way-back machine and felt the absolute fear, pain, and frustration of being a 7 year old boy burning eggs on the stove because I was fucking starving while my parents were away at work. 

    God damn it, society! Wake the hell up! Children need parents, period! I am but one middle age man out of a whole generation of men that mostly have no clue whatsoever what it means to be a man. Why? Because our fathers were too busy -presumably being men- to pass on a fucking ounce of constitution of manhood to their progeny. I’m sick of the demand to invest my time into some money mongers’ sadistic little money machine when it means short changing my family of my own time. Is our following generation not worth investing our time in? Is giving the bank/shareholders more money really a priority over nurturing our young children? Are we really trying to figure out how to feed people on Mars while school gardens get turfed over because absolutely nobody in a whole damn neighborhood will take one afternoon out of their year to show kids how to tend them? 

    I have a family. A family that I clean up after, feed, transport, and rescue. A family that I teach, hold, and comfort. A family that absolutely is my first priority before all other endeavors. I just wish that when I explain to someone that I have a family, they would understand the extent and importance of what I do for my family.