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

Affecting Change

I was all of 20 years old when a promotion put me in the leadership category. Major Payne has military leadership boiled down properly: “If they win … it’ll be because you had led them to a victory. If they lose, it’ll be because you failed them.”

On one hand, that kind of ownership for outcome is the kind of thing that makes a leader. On the other hand, when you’re in charge of a team that doesn’t care about the objective, it just causes a lot of grief.

My partner and I are coming up to 4 years together, and I have to say it’s been damn difficult to lead the family to any kind of victory. My frustration comes about because I’ve had the pleasure of leading some fine warriors to victory and I’ve had the pleasure of leading amazingly brilliant students to high grades. This family has only been sinking slowly for the last 3 years. So, why keep on?

Well, I guess it’s ultimately because my family is focused on staying a family. I suspect that my partner’s little girl is not on board and rather wishes she could drive the wedge between her mother and I, but I can’t just change her heart. Strangely enough though, that little powder keg is a central character in this whole play.

First off, my son suffers from living a split life where his mother’s main squeeze has an older son who is not terribly interested in him. Despite that girl’s challenging attitude to adults, my son and her do get along very well. Not to say there aren’t spats, just that they are few and pretty mild these days. Her whole week she sits in her room and struggles to entertain herself until he gets to join us. From there, it’s almost impossible to separate them. I value my parenting time, but I also know my son values having a sibling with his dad’s time.

In a few deep and meaningful discussions with my partner, I have brought to light that some of the struggles we have raising her little girl are reminiscent of the things that made me divorce my son’s mother. To accuse your partner’s child of exhibiting the same behaviors that made you dissolve your marriage is a big deal. Not surprisingly, she took it very offensively. (We all want open, honest communication up to the point that we don’t like what’s being said, right?) In any case, my blunt force honesty came through as it inevitably does. Now, not only am I still frustrated that I have two explosively emotional and controlling people in my life, both of those girls’ mothers seem to think I’m out of line for calling it a problem. It’s challenging having a spirited child that is simply not dissuaded by consequences and picky about incentives. It’s even more so when those people who are most influential in these girls’ lives do not hold them to a higher standard of behavior. Ultimately, I find myself to be the one throwing the flag and calling misconduct the most. Sometimes I’m overruled, sometimes I’m seconded, sometimes I have to be the one to tangle in with the offender and handle the situation myself. It’s tough. Nobody ever taught me how to have a good relationship with the opposite sex, much less how to deal with really strong willed ones!

I’ve mentioned before that I always have my camera rolling when I exchange my son. It’s not for if shit goes down, it’s for when shit goes down. I won’t lie, it’s been a whole year since the last altercation and I sort of get tired of having to point a camera at baby’s momma for every peaceful exchange. Then, this week it happened. She sent me an email the night before that sounded tense and pushy. Believe it or not, I’ve been busy, so potentially sparking an email argument was not at the top of my list. I started to respond so as to hopefully cool the situation, but it never made it past a draft before we were rolling up to her car. She brought my son out, gave me a series of, “You stop talking” and “You listen here. ” I was listening and trying to tell her that everything she was upset about hadn’t at all happened. She kept being pushy and got louder after I told her again that nothing she was upset about had happened, that she was getting upset over literally nothing at all. She went from pushy to yelling. Our son ran to the car to get away from the conflict. I pointed out that I wasn’t yelling and there was no need for it. Predictably, she yelled back even more. I held my phone up to her face and pursed my lips to express my disengaging from the fight. She continued and my partner announced that she was calling 911. (We have found the police in our area are on the scene in less than a minute! 💪) At that point, the situation started to calm down. The call wasn’t placed, the yelling subsided, and she handed over my son with a goodbye hug.

At the end of it, my partner said, “God! That was just like my child’s fucking temper tantrums!” Well, no kidding!

The thing is, it’s been a tough year of changing for all of us. I have had to put pressure on my partner and both children to break some of the cycles we were stuck in. I’m not used to gently pushing people in the right direction, nor am I used to talking down an emotional explosion. The fact that I was able to de-escalate my ex in a few minutes is something I never expected I would be able to do. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have come to that ability if not for that spirited little girl. I guess we have all given each other a motive force to change over the years.

Paging Dr Quack

Prescribe me another dose of your sage advice

It was after 5pm that I ate a clementine and realized I only put two coffees in my belly the whole day. Everything else having been a tornado, we took advantage of the kids’ eyeballs glued to a screen and went to the store for some burger meat and buns. My partner has been wary of greasy food, so we chose a delicious looking pack of extra lean ground beef. We were both starving, but the kids came first. Then we made two big burgers for ourselves. We were so hungry, we hovered over the pan asking each other if we thought they were cooked enough yet. Finally, we called it good and threw them on the buns. I took a couple of big bites and studied the redness as I tried to spend enough time chewing to taste it. Admittedly, my brain said, “umm ” but my tongue said, “om nom!” All of my close friends have at least one account of seeing me eat something absolutely expired, so I try to remember to get an okay from someone before wolfing something down. This time, though, my girl looked at me after one bite and said, “I don’t care, I’m eating it!” As we ate, I told her that completely raw ground beef is a culinary specialty in some parts of the world, being served with raw egg and garnished with chives. She reminded me that her brother swore by two raw eggs a day to benefit his workout routine. Her dad walked up to us in the middle of chowing down and was horrified by the scene. He gave her a fairly fired up lecture on how we were going to get sick and blamed us for being bad parents for putting our children at such risk. I looked at her after he walked away and said, “raw eggs, right?” We gave each other the look and finished our raw ass red meat sandwiches.

I guess the first thing to clear up about the bug bombs was explaining to my son that the place was not getting blown to smithereens!

The second thing was to ascertain for absolute certain what substances were being blown into and onto our living quarters. The directions boast that it kills on contact and keeps working for weeks afterward, but it’s perfectly safe to stroll back into your gas chamber home after 2 brief hours. Oh, and they just happen to forget to tell you that the propellant is not the only volatile gas being released.

My partner visited the neighbor lady, a sweet old, free spirited hippie with a yard full of exotic trees, berries, and apothecary herbs. Well, she had all kinds of things to say about the bug bombing. That we should protest them using it, that we should make them pay for a motel room, that it’s just going to be the end of our health forever. She kept my partner and kids late into the evening telling her about how intolerable the notion was. Given another complex tenant’s stories, I’m just glad they took any action at all! And, honestly, I know they transmit diseases, but I’ll take cockroaches over brown recluse, black widow, or redback spiders any day! Same for those several dozen species of scorpions that will kill you because no treatment exists to neutralize the toxins.

Anyway, as the saying goes, the only things that can survive a nuclear holocaust are Volkswagens and cockroaches. It’s been thoroughly tested and proven that they can even develop a resistance to bug bombs after repeated applications. I even spotted a cranefly flitting around the window as I opened up the place to air out, so…yeah.

Nonetheless, the lady sent them home with a jar of Borax and a jar of diatomaceous earth. She adamantly defended the use of such as being perfectly safe for people. Why? Because her father (this lady is older than most of the trees in Tillamook Forest, we found out) used to flush his eyeballs with borax to neutralize the irritating smoke after fighting fires. As for the diatom’ earth, in case you don’t keep up on the hippie shit trends, people swear by drinking it to treat, like, everything that’s possibly wrong with you. It is also used against insects with the belief they will die from microscopic lacerations. Yet, I have never seen the stuff even deter ants or have any measurable effect against soft bodied larvae.

For fuck’s sake, people!! Never in human history has such a mass of collected knowledge been so freely available and accessible.

Labels are made to sell, not warn you against using the product!

Read the MSDS!

Read the peer reviewed studies!

Read all 537 pages of the prescription drug disclosures!

Then, when you can break out the molecule set with me (yes, I actually have one) and split hairs on the difference between Borax and boric acid, when you can explain specifically how plankton skeletons benefit your digestive tract, and when restaurants stop cooking your beef to your preferred temperature, I will consider your advice on what to put in and on my body!

And Now For Something Completely Disruptive

My partner woke me up with a kiss, followed by a meltdown. She saw a cockroach in the bathroom.

We first spotted them a couple months ago and caught one while Terminex was poking around to give a quote. German cockroach we were told, the kind that emits a musty smelling pheromone. I don’t know why it suddenly got escalated to Category IV Major Fucking Problem, but the manager got an earful and wasted no time in responding.

While the girlfriend went to work, I put the kids to work having a good, old fashioned, Marine Corps field day. Anything that looked even marginally like garbage got snatched with a stern look of “don’t you even open your mouth!” Everything came out of the closets, most of it got the wipe down, the bed was moved, two dressers just got tossed altogether, and every inch of floor got swept and mopped.

The place was scheduled to be bombed in the afternoon. Now, the package label says that we could reenter after 2 hours, but I’m just not that quick to jump into any kind of area of chemical exposure. A friend had offered his place for camping, having a field, stream, and a large tent already set up. After a bit of struggle and debate, we nixed that plan and decided to take the kids, guinea pigs, and gecko to Nana and Papa’s.

Tomorrow will be another major cleaning as we wash dishes, wipe down surfaces, and throw the toys in the bathtub for washing. We packed up most of the laundry, so thankfully we don’t have to fight that battle again. Everyone is tired and grumpy over the chaos, and I’m mostly just ready to be done with the summer. Two more weeks to go, just two more weeks…

More Changes

Just as sure as the earlier sunsets signal the upcoming season, writing the first day of school on the calendar has signaled the need to get ready.

Attitudes flared in the heat, and it was decided that we give the kids two full weeks to acclimate to the school schedule. Complaints aside, there is a distinct comfort to knowing what happens at 8pm, even if it isn’t what they want to be doing.

My partner had the idea of making the morning routine a checklist over just a posted schedule. The simple act of a checkmark somehow made all the difference in whether the kids achieved all 4 objectives. I printed the checklists out and just need to laminate them to be school year ready.

The other major change was to settle my son into his own space. A stupid ugly situation developed around an unrelated claim as the local sheriff deputy insisted the children could not be allowed to sleep in their bunk bed anymore. With only two bedrooms, the question arose of who would be relegated to the living room. The band-aid solution was to pitch his pup tent in the living room. This worked for a weekend until the other child got jealous. We then spent the rest of the school year and the summer up to now switching out who sleeps in the living room each night. Every night, pitching the tent, hauling pillows and blankets and sleeping bag and a dozen stuffed animals around, just to do the reverse every morning.

I see all the Murphey furniture on the IG, so I had been developing a sensible plan to build something like it ever since. Over the summer, after busting tail to push a big order out, I dug into a pile of pallet lumber that I’ve been lugging around and tripping over for way too long. I got as far as gluing them into panels and planing to thickness, but then the project stalled. I had slightly more than two weeks without my son to knock out the project, and I wanted so much to do so. Days into the break, I scaled down my expectations to just the bed. Halfway through, I started to just accept that nothing was going to happen on it at all.

I picked up my son last Wednesday to begin my summer block, and it was the tent as usual. Finally, with implementation of schedules came the fact that we had to do something for him. I scavenged a steel bed frame (and disinfected it!) to help deal with the situation when it came up, and the time came. A few pieces of furniture got nixed and we attempted to use the ez-up to wall out a room, but no avail. So, like the hippies we are, hung bed sheets on the ceiling! But, at least he has a proper bed.

Meanwhile, I’m stressed out by the difficulty in just getting productive hours clocked in. My son’s bed is just the latest project to stall and get me down. Finally, leaning on the schedule and just insisting on getting my hours in has allowed a bit of a breakthrough.

I made decent progress yesterday and made it home to put the family to bed, not on schedule, but maybe 15 minutes earlier than usual. This is why we called for two whole weeks of working on it! As I put my son to bed, I let out my plan of making him a bed that folds up against the wall and some kind of solid walls. WHAT!?!? A BED THAT SOMETHING INTO THE WALL!?!? …ugh, wrong thing to say at bedtime! A million burning questions later, I get him to calm down by telling him he’s just going to have to wait to see it.

Well, that bed is about the coolest thing since sliced bread now, and there’s a recognized need for it to be done. Today, the neighbor upstairs delivered a PBR under the mostly closed bay door and once I stopped running the saw, I told him about my project. I went back to the saw and kept at a big pile of stock all getting 2 1/4″ rabbets. As I was gluing up, the guys decided to call it a night. I called my partner, who was struggling to pull our kids away from the extremely sweet old neighbors, and decided I would stay and put in a few more hours. There’s something I relish about burning the midnight oil. Probably just the time to myself. To be in my thoughts and work through things. To just chew on something, mentally speaking. I lined out the rest of my cuts and did some more gluing up. It’s a long process as I’m tragically short of clamps, but isn’t every maker? Upon closing up tonight, my son’s fold up (into a cabinet) bed is only a few more glue ups, sanding, and spraying finish away from him having it.

Having basically clinched the regional title for #1 Dad, the only thing left to do was run for the light rail home after the tracker app lied to me. I hopped off the bus casually, thinking I had only four blocks to stroll in 2 minutes. To my horror, I saw the unmistakable blue light and ran. Of course, I didn’t make it at my intended stop, but the stop after that was only 2 more blocks down and I stood a chance of getting home by midnight if I ran. So ran I did! I ran until my lungs burned, and in defiant spite my fears that I wouldn’t make it, I sprinted the last two blocks. I stabbed my arm in the closing doors as I more or less crashed through them! A small round of applause was the cherry on my day as I plopped down on the nearest seat.

Small victories, maybe. But I take what I can get these days!

Song Title Challenge

Get to know me

I haven’t had a great deal of time to myself, but I ignored some things (including the kids fighting) to do the song title challenge I saw from floatinggold. Rules are simple: One artist, don’t repeat song titles.

I’m a product of the 90’s. As much as I felt like Tool would be appropriate for the political climate, I chose my all time go to, Trent Reznor. The song titles alone got me slightly head-banging my long hair, so feel free to hit the back button if this is uncomfortable territory! 😈

Chosen artist: Nine Inch Nails

Are you male or female: Mr Self Destruct

Describe yourself: Another Version Of The Truth

How do you feel about yourself: Me, I’m Not

Describe where you currently live: The Downward Spiral

The first thing you think of when you wake up: Every Day Is Exactly The Same

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: 10 Miles High

Your favorite form of transportation: Vessel

Your best friend is: The Becoming

Your favorite color is: Sunspots

What’s the weather like: In This Twilight

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: Survivalism

What is life to you: Right Where It Belongs

What is the best advice you have to give: Love Is Not Enough

If you could change your name, what would it be: Memorabilia

Your favorite food is: Piggy

My soul’s present condition: The Wretched

The faults I can bear: Sin

How would you describe your love life: We’re In This Together

Okay, maybe I’m an angst ridden, nihilistic, raging a$$hole. Maybe I just don’t buy into the facade of life being everything you want as long as you submit to the system. Either way, no single artist’s works speak to me more than NIN.

Don’t Be A Spoon

I swear I’ve been saying it forever. Fine! I will take this as a clear cut case of it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

“Stop being difficult.” It seemed perfectly clear. All those things that make life extra stressful and burdensome? Stop doing them, especially the thing that’s eliciting such statement. I guess that’s not how to say it.

“Stop making problems where there aren’t any.” I thought this was more to the point, more explicitly pointing out that if we are all getting on with it, one of us shouldn’t be stopping progress with a problem. Namely, the kind of problem one is able to solve themselves.

Finally, I had it. “Stop stirring shit!” I would yell, over and over. Just don’t say things that are going to piss everyone off. How do we know if something is going to do so? Well, is it about someone else and doesn’t affect your day in the least? If so, then it’s probably stirring shit!

One day, my son had a joke for me: Why are spoons never invited to parties? Because they’re always stirring things up!

The kids got the joke. They knew what it meant. I reinforced the lesson about not stirring shit, and ever since then all it takes to stop them from is remind them:

Don’t be a spoon!

Seasons of Change

It was cloudy yesterday. Not just cloudy, but also cool. In fact, it was cool enough for a nice, refreshing sprinkle of rain. The girls were wearing light jackets today as the clouds and cool weather stuck around. I sure hope the trend continues! I’m ready for my Pacific Northwest promise of 9 months of rain!

The weather hasn’t been the only change I’m excited about. Once again, I’m anxiously counting down the days until school starts again. These next three weeks will be the last stretch of time that caring for my girl’s daughter will be my m.o. So many arguments led to too many walks around the block and one long night we talked it out. Her daughter is one of those spirited children, and everyone else gets to play hot potato with her. I dare say that nobody could really be expected to take responsibility of her for too many hours in a day or week. I hit the wall, and really, truly, I have to be out from under that assignment. I have my son for the last few weeks of summer anyway, so I’m in it until then.

We have been flying by the seat of our pants for a while now. By flying, I really mean losing altitude while trying not to panick and lose our shit altogether. A few days ago, we reached about as bottom as we could go, and girlfriend’s parents came through with emergency funds. It was decided we need a schedule. Man, we have been down this road before: we keep on in chaos, talk about the need to schedule to reduce everyone’s stress, finally make time to do it but not finish, adhere to it for about half a day, then resume the chaos. Jack Handy says stupidity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. We look at the school calendar, and square off with the fact that the little monsters only have an average of 15 school days per 20 workday month. To add to the situation, daycare facilities are all closed the same freaking days that school is! Knowing that we pretty much never make the time to revisit the schedule after it falls to the wayside, I decided we need a different approach to scheduling altogether. My software brain decided it would make sense to treat the schedule like a case statement. That is, knowing there are a finite number of ways the school schedule screws us up, we should be able to identify a finite number of schedules to deal with each one. We have about 8 scenarios penciled out, which should get us through the school year, provided our work schedules remain steady.

That has been another significant change this year. My partner has had the worst time with employment the last couple years. It’s astounding how many job situations just don’t amount to anything a person could live on. On top of that, most large corporations love to play that 90 days temp to hire fire game to weasel out of coughing up benefits. Then, there’s the jerks that hire 15 people for permanent positions, then chop 10 of their hours down to nothing so they are very suddenly without paycheck. When those tactics are too blatant, there’s always, “you just don’t fit our company culture.” I’ve been through it, and I’ve been supporting my girl going through it. When she was looking for work in February, a job she had quit the year before called on her. They offered only the tolerable, daytime part of her previous position with a $2 increase in pay. She gratefully accepted. At the same time, she also went through considerable effort to get on the list for a plumbing apprenticeship. In the middle of July, her name made it to the top and she got the call. I know $40/hour sounds amazing but I know how the construction thing goes. That wage is not what apprentices make, the hours will be overwhelming during peak season and not enough during the winter, and though they teach the basics they are going to expect a certain knowledge base that she simply doesn’t have. Saturdays with the family? Forget those, too. Fortunately, she declined and stuck with her job, which put up with her turning down hours and later gave them back when she realized she needed them. Besides that, her boss is responsive, flexible, and rarely actually on site as she gets to be a one-woman crew. At now 6 months of holding her job, I’m almost comfortable saying that her income has reached a steady state.

There has also been a non-advised cutting in half of a certain prescription, and I’m just saying the difference has been like night and day. If you take any medication, you owe it to yourself to read the miles of information they hand you along with it, then go research some more.

I spent a quality afternoon chipping away at a project that kicked off way back in February. Last week, I had to force myself to make progress on another one that was laying in pieces in a box collecting dust since I pulled the plug on it some four months ago. I meant to make it a light effort, but before I could say it was at a good place to stop I had my soldering iron, screwdrivers, nips, stripper, utility knife, Dremel tool, hacksaw, and multimeter all scattered across the kitchen table with a mat of wires and little insulation pieces rolling around! Today’s effort felt a bit more inspiring. I didn’t get as far as I was hoping, which is the usual case, but I managed to work through some challenging joinery. It was very satisfying to dry fit the pieces together at the end of the day, feeling them click into place with a firm but not tight hold.

I am going to focus on regrouping the last half of August. I still have to prepare for my court cases and really figure out where to start fixing my hot mess of a life. Fifteen years ago, I was hell bent on an education. Five years ago, I thought I had it in the bag despite my losses. I sure have had a crazy detour, and I guess I’ve overcome some of my demons. Starting next month, I have to get back to knocking out projects and turning a respectable income. I started this blog with the thought of posting about my projects, so I hope to turn that direction again in the coming months.

Thanks to everyone dropping by even though I’ve been pretty quiet these last few months. I am alive and have my health. Things have been tense between everyone this summer, but we are still holding together as a family.

One day, one day at a time.

Time is passing by behind you, behind you.