thisworldofhurt

Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Quirks, Ticks, and other Oddities

In children, Communication, Dads, daughters, Humor, husbands, life, love, Men, Moms, Parents, wives, Women on December 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I’m not sure how we measure up against the rest of the inhabitants of this fast spinning ball of rock we call Earth, but I am certain when I say: Human beings are an unusual lot. Along with opposable thumbs and larger brain area, we also have unusual personality traits and bizarre eccentricities. And through creating mechanisms in order to adapt our surroundings to fit our personalities, we develop rituals and traditions to cope with the world around us.

I am fascinated by how uniquely different on some of the simplest things we all are. For instance I have one child who is terrified of clowns—no circuses, no rodeos—while another child is equally afraid of moths. That’s right, moths. Those little, nocturnal, mostly blind, butterfly-like insects, that in my daughter’s world, bring infant amounts of painful agony and death at the slightest touch of its teenie tiny, itty bitty, dust covered wings.

I have a friend that is completely freaked out by cross-eyed people, while another refuses to eat red M&Ms, insisting the red dye is still a leading cause of cancer. I have a number of personal oddities, such as I eat my meals one item at a time, deciding where to start by which food item holds in heat the longest. The things that cool down fast get eaten first. I am also not a fan of speaking the word “Tripod”. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s a weird word to say.

The rituals we develop within our world is no less strange. They become more complex as we grow and gain experience into adulthood. When we get married there is a whole new set of rituals we create to either work with or work around our spouse, and to adapt to changing surroundings.

For instance, when my wife and I moved to a new bedroom, one side of the bed was against the wall. I am an extremely heavy sleeper, therefore I wanted the side closest to the door. My reasoning was because if there was a fire in the house, and my wife woke to the smell of smoke and fire, she could panic, get up and run out of the room, leaving me to sleep through my own demise. However, if I slept between her and the door, no matter how heavy of a sleeper I am, a panic-crazed woman scrambling across you in the middle of the night will wake you up. No doubt about it.

When the baby came along, that all changed. Mom needed to be close to the baby, and now I sleep in the fire danger zone next to the wall.

Now at the end of the day my wife will take any measures necessary in order to make sure that she gets into the bed first. This way I am forced to go through the house turning off all the lights she has left on. Most nights she turns in before me as I tend to stay up writing or reading for a bit before bed. However, if for any reason that we choose to hit the sack at the same time, she kicks her nighttime rituals into overdrive. I have no proof of this of course, but I’m certain she is thinking something like, “My hair has been in a clip all day. How dirty can it be? I’ll get a shower in the morning and get to bed sooner.” Or maybe something like, “I’m sure that just one night a week, I can gain an efficient amount of oral hygiene from 25 seconds of brushing instead of the full 2 minutes.”

And as a result of her preparation and planning, I am stumbling around attempting echolocation to avoid the countless obstacles in the now dark house.

My wife has a few quirks of her own you understand, one of which is she does not like the closet doors to be left open. She claims it is because an open closet door jacks with her feng shui. I think it’s because she still believes in the closet monster, but either way, she would prefer doors to be closed.

So, after stubbed toes, banged shins, and a few colorful metaphors, I fling the closet door open and crawl into my side of the bed next to the wall, sniffing the air for smoke until I drift off to the unconscious nether regions of This World of Hurt.

 

Shop Like a Man

In Baggage, children, Communication, Dads, daughters, Humor, husbands, life, love, Men, Moms, shopping, wives, Women on December 15, 2015 at 10:41 am

One would think in a house full of women, to have a wife that hates shopping would be a good thing, and for the most part, it is indeed. I however, unlike most men, enjoy shopping quite a bit. But, I shop like a man.

Many people have a misunderstanding when it comes to the shopping man. Psychology majors the world over would have us believe the modern shopping man is nothing more than a descendent of the hunter gatherer from the stone age. The truth has been lost to over analysis and decades of honey-do-lists. It has been the invention of shopping list that over time has skewed reality. The cave man didn’t have a specified list to follow. He didn’t head out into the wild and say, “I shall bring home no less that 3 medium size, Grade-A pterodactyl eggs.” No. He woke up and said, “Me go kill something. … Ugh.”

The point is: Even when not tied down to a list of items, men shop differently than women. Men may not know exactly what we’re looking for, but we do have an idea, criteria, a shadowy outline of what it is were after. Women on the other hand, have indecision. The red one? Black? Maybe the green one? No, definitely the red one. The yellow one’s nice.

Men walk in and say, “Great, they have the thing I’m looking for. But no blue one. … Next.” And off we go until we find a blue one. Then if the price is right, we buy the blue one, and leave.

On a shopping trip with my in-laws, my nephew said to me, “Stores always have plenty of stuff for women and almost nothing for men.”

I told him this was not true. Every store has a cash register.

At least that’s how it is when we to through the checkout line. And this isn’t because of some chivalrous gesture on my part, nor is it because of some traditional concept of “the man is the head of the household”. And it isn’t because I’m the one with the money. I’m not her sugar daddy. I’m her husband. In fact, technically I’m her employee. She just doesn’t want to hear how much we stuff into that cash register, so she goes to start the car before she hears the total.

Not that it matters, we don’t have money. We have children instead.

Therefore let me pass on a few shopping tips to my fellow men as you prepare yourselves for this upcoming holiday shopping season. As whether you like to shop or not, you’re shopping.

First of all—and most important: If you have a place to ditch the kids. Do it.

I’m not suggesting you leave your kids wandering around the clothing depart while you head over to the auto parts store. I just mean find some friend or relative to stash the munchkins with for the day. Taking kids to a store is like taking them on a road trip. … if the inside of the car was the size of a football field. You have a task you must complete and it requires your concentration. After all shopping isn’t easy. The kids sense the distraction and exploit it.

Best if you leave them with Aunt Suzie.

Next, if possible, all of your wife’s purchase decisions should be based on weight. Think about it. You are not only the wielder of the wallet. You double as a pack mule.

And lastly, every chance you have to offer your wife food or cocktails, do so. I promise you, another slice of pizza or a vodka-sour can shave hours off your scheduled shopping spree.

So, ditch the kids, buy the red one—it looks less heavy than the green one—finish up those fries, and have one more round, because everything’s half off in This World of Hurt.

 

Who needs a GPS?

In Baggage, children, daughters, GPS, Humor, husbands, life, love, Parents, Travel, Uncategorized, wives, Women on November 25, 2015 at 9:10 pm

There will be many families hitting the highways during the upcoming holiday seasons, and mine will be among them. I consider myself to be an adequate driver, somewhere around average, but I have, unquestionably, one of the worst senses of direction of any person alive. My internal compass malfunctioned shortly after childbirth, and has yet to be repaired. So, don’t follow me, I only drive around in expanding circles until I recognize a place I’ve been lost in before.

However, I understand directions, and have developed good skills with a map and a compass, and I will admit that I often rely on GPS, and frequently use Onstar. My wife on the other hand, is the only person I know who will tell the computer generated Onstar voice that they are wrong. Her problem has never been knowing the way to get to where we’re going. Her problem is deciding on where we’re going.

For instance: Like most men, I really don’t care where we eat. So, the old Abbot and Costello routine plays out every time we face hunger.

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know. Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know. What do you feel like eating?”

” I don’t know. What do you feel like eating?”

That is, of course, unless I’m really hungry, and then I will make a quick decision. And then, of course, my wife tries to talk me out of that decision by asking me if I want to eat at just about every restaurant that we pass along the way.

And it goes like this:

“Where do you want to eat?”

“Taco Bell. Quick. Tasty. Cheap.”

“It’s the other way. You’ll have to turn around.”

I turn around.

“There’s Wendy’s… How about KFC?… We could go to that sandwich shop.”

So, basically our road trips consist of: a pilot with no sense of direction and a navigator with issues in decision making. Now, take them, and lock them in a car for 10 hours with 5 girls.

It goes like this:

“Sounds like our exit’s coming up.”

“Onstar is wrong. It’s the next one, I’m pretty sure.”

“Dad, tell her to stop using me as a pillow.”

“Mom, she took my thing.”

“That’s because she took my thing.”

“Her feet stink.”

“She’s touching me.”

“She’s breathing my air.”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

Now couple all of that with the fact that, although my wife knows exactly how to get there, she has a total inability to tell me how to get there, at least not with any consistency.

She chooses a different method of direction giving every time. Sometimes she will give me cardinal directions, which are excellent, if the sun is up—It’s not like I carry a compass in my pocket. But she tends to reserve this one for nighttime driving, usually when she is giving me directions via telephone. So, there I am driving around in circles with the phone to my ear and my head out the window looking for the North Star.

Other times she will call out the directions in simple commands: Right. Left. Straight. This is my preferred method, provided of course she is paying attention to where I’m going. Otherwise, she will look up from a recently sent text message and say, “You should have turned left back there.”

She often incorporates the point method. I don’t like this one because I never see it coming, and even once I have been made aware of the method chosen, the finger pointing system requires a level of observation and multitasking I do not possess.

She now has a newly developed and implemented verbal system I am calling IVANS (Indistinct Verbal Ambiguous Navigation System). Until this new system came online, I had no idea that-a-way was an official direction.

So, wherever you may be traveling to this season, when you see the Suburban with the Texas plates, the one full of girls, with a lone man at the helm and the good looking blond in the seat next to him, looking at her phone and pointing in no particular direction, slip in behind us. We will be diving in expanding circles until I find the North Star. Then we will be taking a right, a left, and a sharp turn that-a-way before pulling into the driveway of This World of Hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

Take me to the Mountain

In Babies, baby, Baggage, children, Dads, Humor, husbands, life, Travel on November 9, 2015 at 12:05 am

Over this last weekend, The Middles packed their bags, traveling with the Rotan Yellowhammer Marching Band to the State Marching Contest in San Antonio. In his traveling-by-bus wisdom, the band director restricted the bag limit of the band members. I was amazed at how much the girls were able to cram into the few bags they took, which got me thinking about how much I wish I had the authority to enforce such protocols in my family’s travels.

As one can imagine, with 9 people in the family, we do not travel light. Even the baby has more than one bag, although one of those is a diaper bag. And just on a side note here: my wife made fun of me when I came home with a diaper bag I was quite proud of. Not some dainty thing with minimal cargo room, no. I brought home the type of bag a swat team member might carry for necessary tactical gear.

Right now there are moms laughing out loud, or rolling their eyes and shaking their heads saying, “Men.” Conversely, there men reading this, also laughing, but saying, this guy is a genius.

Laugh if you want, but I’m telling you: You will not find a better container to transport the essential items necessary for infant field operations than a SOG tactical bag. Baby wipes, diapers, Sippy-cup or bottle, blanket, extra clothes, burp rags, toys, pacifier, snacks, ointment, powder, lotion, all within its own zippered compartment. And with the removable, un-foldable, padded pistol pouch, we have a nice comfortable place to lay the baby while we change them. After all: even barbarians understand a baby needs a comfy place to lay their naked bum.

It is easy to draw the conclusion, even a simple trip to town can be daunting for the luggage-packing department, i.e. me. We live some 15 miles outside of town; therefore, we like to make sure we have everything we need when we head into town for work and school. It was just such a return from work trip I was reflecting upon when I had the wish to establish a bag limit.

We pulled to a stop under the carport. Everyone hopped out and grabbed their stuff. I ducked into the backseat and extract the baby, and then swung around the back of the car to retrieve work items and baby gear from the rear hatch. We all moved around one another in some kind of chaotic ballet. I ran down the list of items of my responsibility: Satchel? Check. Backpack? Check. Laptop case? Check. Incredibly efficient and totally functional diaper bag? Check. Baby’s push toy? Check. Baby? Check.

I closed the hatch and was plotting a course for the front door, when I heard the laughter. I look up to see my wife on the porch, a single purse nestled in the crook of her elbow, cell phone in one hand, and the index finger of the other poised ominously over the phone’s screen. Maybe she was texting, maybe she was Facebooking, Instagraming, Twittering, or otherwise preparing to post the picture she was undoubtedly about to take.

And why not capture the moment. While she stood there comfortably on the porch, I looked like a Himalayan Sherpa. Bring it on Everest. My bags are packed.

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Which is true in a sense. My life with my girls is very similar to my life as a firefighter. The briefing is always vague, and I never know when I’m going to get toned out. I just need to be prepared, and have my gear in a state of readiness, as I rarely know what’s going on.

My wife says this is because I don’t listen, and she’s probably right, but I like to hold fast to a different theory. I think during certain times of the day the isotope content in the air builds up, momentarily disrupting the frequency of the female voice, rendering it inaudible to the male ear. During times of sun spots, solar flares, and some phases of the moon, the effects of this anomaly can be increased, sometimes spanning several hours or days. Groups of men can also create a bubble of frequency disturbance, especially if said frequency is received via telephone. I call this the T-effect, or testosterone effect, due to the heightened levels of testosterone men experience when performing macho acts with other guys, especially close friends. That’s the theory I’m going with anyway.

But I know this, that group of guys can pack all they will need for a weekend trip in a Ziploc freezer bag. 2 pair of socks, 1 pair of underwear (optional), toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and a brush for those who still have hair: packing complete.

We are men and require very little space. Which is a good thing, because cargo room is a limited commodity when traveling across This World of Hurt.

Conversations on a One-way Street

In children, Codes, Communication, Dads, daughters, husbands, life, Men, Moms on October 14, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Let me give you a quick explanation of the structural breakdown regarding my children, how they are grouped, and the corresponding nicknames that accompany those groups. Together there are 7 of them, and their groups are as: “The Oldest”—because she’s the oldest, “The Boy”—because he’s the only boy, “The Middles”—because they are in the middle, “The Littles”—you guessed it, because they’re younger than the Middles, and “The Baby”—this should be evident.

The other night I was part of a conversation, which took place between my wife, the Middles, and myself. The conversation was a fairly typical one that takes place between teenage girls and their parents all across the nation at the end of a long hard day: part personally informative, part gossip and conjecture, and part motivational and inspirational.

Admittedly, I was doing a bit of writing during this conversation, but I was keeping up with the exchanged dialogue, and I even chimed in when I had something worthwhile to contribute. In fact, I had just raised a question, posing it to my wife while she opened the door to the refrigerator. Then, all the sudden, something happened: a long pause occurred, and then it got weird.

Have you ever been following directions to some destination in an unfamiliar city? And let’s say the final part of these instructions was to make a right turn onto a one-way street—how about we use Washington Ave? Cities love to name streets for presidents. So, you make a right turn onto Washington Ave, and you don’t stray from this one-way street. You think you’re getting pretty close to your destination, and you look up at the street sign to discover that you are now traveling down Kennedy PKWY. It is a terribly disturbing recollection, correct? This is what had just taken place in our conversation.

I had asked a question, yet we were no longer engaged in the same conversation we were just microseconds before. My wife’s response had absolutely nothing to do with the question I had asked. To make me even more confused, the Middles seemed to move right along without missing a beat.

I immediately brought this to the attention of the group, because I am a man after all. I’m not afraid of anything. … apart from arithmetic that is. “Wait a minute,” I said. “That didn’t have anything to do with what I asked.”

“Yes it did,” my wife said. “Don’t you remember the conversation we were having in the car on Saturday?”

A conversation from the car on Saturday had just completed itself in the kitchen on Monday. Fortunately, I did in fact remember the conversation from Saturday; however, I have no idea how the current night’s preceding discussion tied into it whatsoever. So, naturally, I said so. Because I am a man, and we just don’t give a lot of thought about things like this before we say them. “That conversation doesn’t have anything to do with the question I asked,” I said.

“Yes it does,” my wife said, and then proceeded to explain to me why.

Then it got bad for me. My manly memory could indeed recall there was a conversation on Saturday, and I could recall what it was about—mostly. My wife on the other hand, was able to remember each detail of the conversation. She pointed out that in subsection 9, paragraph 14, 3rd bullet point down in the conversation, such and such did this thing, and that led to so and so needing to do this other thing, and what happened next tied my question into the night’s conversation perfectly.

As she explained, I watched the Middles nodding their heads in sequential affirmation, and I knew I had no dog in this hunt.

You would think after all these years surrounded by my little ladies, I would have a better operational understanding. I do not.

All I can say is I will do my best to take better notes on the conversations I am allowed to be a part of. And next time I will hopefully have a better conversational map. For now, I will just have to try to do my best at navigating through This World of Hurt.

The Human Walkie Talkie

In Babies, baby, children, Codes, Communication, Dads, daughters, Humor, husbands, life, love, Moms, Parents on October 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm

A bit more than a year ago my wife and I celebrated the birth of our 6th daughter. Surrounded by so many women, one can imagine that I am pulled in a number of different directions. Or another—and probably more accurate—way to say it is: I get bossed around a lot. However, after a few months with the new baby, I realized something: My wife was no longer giving me any directions at all. Or at least not when the baby was around.

Nowadays my wife provides me with suggestions of what I need to do in soft, gentle tones, imbedded within conversations between herself and the baby. The baby’s’ name is Everleigh by the way. We call her “E”. She is going to grow up thinking her name is Missy, since she seems to hear, “What are you doing Miss E?” so often, especially since she is now walking. But I digress.

The point is: Now I have to listen closely to what my wife is saying to E in order to discern what instructions my wife is laying out for me. For instance, before the baby was born, and the family was preparing to head out to some destination, my wife might say to me, “why don’t you start loading the car so we can get out of here and hit the road?”. However, now those instructions are beautifully woven into the peaceful inflections my wife uses to speak, not to me, but to the child. She will look at the baby and softly speak, “We will be able to go, just as soon as daddy gets the car ready.”

And there you go. I am expected to “overhear” this conversation, and immediately jump into action, loading the car with no further instruction. And this is not limited to vehicular preparations; virtually any job duty imaginable may be delegated to me in this fashion. “Would you like daddy to feed you dinner so mommy can do a little work?” “Daddy is going to give you a bath in just a little bit.” This one is tricky because she uses the phrase “a little bit”. She says, “a little bit”, but she means, “Right now”. “Why don’t you see if daddy will change your diaper?” This last one also conveys a sense of urgency. This sentence could be boiled down to just two nouns: Daddy & Diaper.

My child has become a human walkie talkie. A covert message delivery system designed to trip up the male of the species in order to prove the much debated saying that men do not listen? Well of course we men understand that it’s simply rude to eavesdrop on other peoples conversations, yet once the babies come along we must learn this skill. We must become more than husbands, more than fathers, we must become international super spies, able to decode the encrypted messages exchanged from spouse to offspring so that we may maintain a state of readiness.

And to answer the question that is on the mind of so many first time fathers out there: No, this does not work in the opposite direction. This will be a one-way form of communication. If you soothingly tell your child, “I bet mommy is going to dress you in the cutest outfit,” she will move about her day as if you had said nothing at all. It is quite impossible to speak in a soft voice and be heard over the commotion of thoughts taking place in the mind of your wife. The female brain multitasks, every second of every day, while men have a difficult enough time feeding ourselves while watching the game.

Learn to listen my friends, to whomever your wife may be saying it to, especially the human walkie talkie. Breaker Breaker 1-9, listen up good buddy. James Bond only succeeded with the ladies, because he was wearing his secrete decoder ring. At least that’s how I see it, living in This World of Hurt.

It Cost How Much?

In children, Dads, daughters, Humor, husbands, Investigations, life, Makeup, Men, Moms, Uncategorized, wives, Women on July 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm

My wife’s grandmother loves to host family gatherings. Periodically she will prepare large meals, and family members come from all over to simply partake of good food and great company. This is great for my family in that we happen to live just a short walk from all of the festivities. Despite this fact, my wife and I are almost always late to these events. It was during the preparation to attend one of these events that I made a most alarming discovery.

People who know me on a personal level would attest to the fact that I have more than one obsessive compulsive tendency. I like labels to face the same direction, I prefer things arranged in categories and in order from greatest to smallest, I hate for my food to touch, I eat one thing at a time and I’m not an overt fan of odd numbers just to name of few of these little eccentricities. On the other side of the coin, my office space is a train wreck of paperwork to any one other than myself, and I often appear to be a little more than scatter-brained in more than one aspect of my life. For that matter, if it wasn’t for doing certain things in a repetitive fashion, I would constantly loose most of my personal items. I am aware of this flaw, and as a result I have developed myself into a creature of habit to cope with my forgetfulness. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be able to keep up with the contents of my pockets once the pockets are emptied. My wife has developed similar routines for things like her make-up bag.

Mascara, eye liner, base, blush, lipstick, eyebrow pencil, deodorant, toothbrush all have a specific place. They are each used in the same way and in the same order everyday. I am unclear as to what the order is—and truthfully I don’t really care—but I am aware that there seems to be a level of efficiency within this order. I also know that when it comes to this beautification ritual, my wife has a few dashes of Asperger Syndrome mixed in. Do NOT mess with the order of things.

So, the family begins preparing to head over to the Grandmother’s house—we call her Ree by the way—and join the rest of my wife’s family for food and socializing. About 10 minutes after my wife told everyone to get ready, I was ready. My son was ready about 4 minutes after that. It took him a little longer; he has hair. Around 6 minutes later, during the final sequence of my wife’s procedures she realizes: the next item is missing… Dun, Dun, Duuunnn!

There is a sudden explosion of vocal prowess as my wife assumes the persona of the Great and Powerful Oz. And when I say this I don’t mean the “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” feverishly pulling levers and turning cranks. I am talking about the full on bellowing voiced, floating apparition beset by spurting jets of flame. “Who took my deodorant?!” came the voice of OZ. And the usual stream of accusations ensued.

The eldest daughter is always the first to be blamed when something of mom’s goes missing, and more often than not, she is the culprit. The scene unfolded as usual. The eldest is blamed. She denies it. She almost always denies it. Especially when she can’t remember where she put the item she has taken. But she also says she never eats or drinks in her room or takes items from the house, yet we seem to find all the missing cups and bowls lined up along her dresser, and she drives around in a car full of spoons. Nevertheless, she denies the deodorant theft. Others get blamed. They deny.

“She took it!”

“No I didn’t, it was her!”

“Nuh uh, it was probably, so and so. She always takes other people’s things.”

“It wasn’t me! Mom probably just lost it, and she’s blaming us!”

The boy looks at me. I look at him. We both shrug.

“It doesn’t matter who took it,” proclaims OZ, “No one gets to eat until my deodorant is found!”

This is where I begin to question the accuracy of my character parallels. We have to head up an investigation, or we don’t get any food. What’s next? Fire balls at my straw-filled friend? Threatening my miniature K-9? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m hungry.

Where do I begin? The oldest daughter’s dresser? In one of the youngest’s many bags or purses. Perhaps one of the two middle girl’s beds. Both of them seem to actually sleep in the bed with all of their most prized possessions. But then I think: hold the phone. Someone has taken the deodorant, and that someone knows that they have taken it. I can wait this out. I look over at the boy, and I can see that he is thinking the same thing. We stand up, and move quietly to our respective rooms.

I can’t say what he was doing in his room, as I was not present, but I can tell you how I had handled the situation. I was laying prone on the edge of the bed attempting to remain aware of the progress of the ensuing investigation while focusing on the interior functions of my body. I was willing my heart to slow its beat, keeping my breathing deep and steady, clearing my mind of thought, hoping to coax my body into some sort of deep, zen-like state of consciousness in order to stave off the inevitable hunger pains.

The investigation drug on. The verbal finger pointing continued. Deny, deny, deny. My brain was working on some Cliff Note version of Chongg Ran while my stomach was acting like a three year old who’s crayons got taken away. I was growing hungry, and it was jacking up my inner peace. The girls were searching the house like a forensic team and arguing like senators. The house was shaking and banging, and full of indecipherable squawking and sniping. It sounded like a room full of construction workers and seagulls.

I had to do something before I starved to death, and raking the imaginary karesansui wasn’t working anyway. I got up, and went off to see the wizard. “Come on baby, it’s just deodorant. Let’s go eat.”

“Not just any deodorant. It’s clinical strength, and it’s thirteen dollars a stick.”

I had no response. Surely, surely this cannot be correct. She must have simply overlooked the decimal placement. A dollar thirty sounds much more reasonable. After all, I have seen her deodorant stick next to mine on a few occasions. In my mind’s eye I can recall that her stick is perhaps slightly less wide and about half as tall. Mine cost around two fifty. So a buck thirty sounds about right. I asked for clarification. She repeated and confirmed that thirteen dollars was indeed the price.

She applies this deodorant on a daily basis. Not weekly. Thirteen bucks for a half a stick of deodorant. For that price you should swipe it under your arm Monday morning and should be sweat free until Saturday afternoon. I am reeling at this new knowledge.

I try to justify this expense in my head. After all it is “clinical” strength. That seems suggestive of some kind of intense laboratory work, pointy heads in lab coats, grants and special funding, animal testing, things like that. Maybe there is some kind of medical prescription process that has to be met, and if so, perhaps our insurance covers the majority of this additional cost… No, this is a ridiculous thought process. You wipe it under your pits!

I had to leave. I went to find my brother-in-law. I was certain he would agree at the ludicrous price of thirteen dollar under arm wipe. And in fact, he did, but he was able to bring some previous unrecognized logical parallels into the mix. He asked two questions, and two responses later, the world became right again.

“Would you pay 150 bucks for a torque wrench?”

“If it was Snap On, sure.”

“Would it make you mad if somebody borrowed it without bringing it back?”

“Sure it would.”

“Well, there you go.”

Finally, somebody that can bring a little sense and clarity to This World of Hurt.

This Side of the Pen (Installment One)

In children, daughters, life, Parents, Smartassity, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing on June 27, 2014 at 12:14 am

Nurture vs Nature is always an interesting topic to contemplate. There are things like creativity, analytical thinking, deep emotions, or quick temperedness that you could arguably place into the nature category. Inherited traits, passed down through DNA. Perhaps no further than a generation away, from a parent, or perhaps a grandparent. Other traits, such as reason, observation and deduction, wit or rhetoric, can be learned, developed by practice, or through submersion in the culture of others.

A creative, or even just a clever mind could very well be a natural trait passed down through the chromosomes, but a quick wit—or as I label it with my own definition: Smartassity—can be developed over time.
I’ll give you an example of how clever can develop into Smartassity if properly guided.

About three or four years ago one of my daughters had spent a half an hour mixing together her world famous “special sport drink”.  It was a swirling concoction of mashed strawberries, blueberries, orange juice—heavy on the pulp—water and a splash of milk. She handed me the bottle full of the finished product and said, “Here, taste this.”

I accepted the proffered bottle and took a drink.  “What’s in this?” I asked.

She tells me of the contents and says, “You have to pay me 50 cents for that.”

I ask, “Why do I have to pay you 50 cents for a drink?”

She looks at me with complete confidence and replies in total sincerity, “Because, you’re family… it’s half price.”

See, now that’s clever.

Now just the other day—three or four years into the future from the previous dialogue—the same daughter returns from basketball camp. My wife was discussing her experience at camp, and was reading over some of the coach’s recommendations for how our daughter could improve her shooting ability. My wife had said to my daughter, “It says here that you need to put together a repetitive shot workout. You need to get a routine where you perform a series of shots from different points and repeat it over and over again.”

“What do you mean?” my daughter asked.

“Well the coach recommends that you develop a ritual.”

My daughter sighs and says, “Well, okay… but I don’t have any chickens.”

Now that’s Smaratassity.

Brilliant! I laughed for twenty minutes. I still laugh when I recall it in my mind.

I even see some early skills developing in the younger kids. For instance, just this evening one of the younger kids called from her room in the back of the house. The conversation went like this:

Younger kid yelling from the back of the house: Mommy, Daddy, Krystal (the Guinea Pig) is going to have babies.

Older kid yelling in response from the adjacent room: That’s not possible. We don’t have a male guinea pig.

Younger kid: Yes she is.

Older kid: No she…  with frustration Just go ask mom and dad about this process.

Younger kid: I know how babies are made, but she could have met someone at the Pet Smart.

Early onset Smartassity? It is possible. She bears close watching.

All writers have varying levels of Smartassity. It comes with the territory. Now to the individual writer, the transition from one side of the pen to the other seems to happen quite suddenly. It doesn’t actually. It happens slowly over time, but the realization occurs like an epiphany. What occurs is that the writer sits around writing ever chance they can, and reading ever chance they can, and then one day they read something and say to themselves—usually out loud—“Wow, this is crap. I could write better than this. In fact, I am writing better than this… and this junk got published.”

From that moment on you will seem to have this unconscious, yet slightly conscious, brain pattern going on. You will see things, think of things, observe and process things, quite differently than everyone else. For instance:

I was walking through the mall with my wife the other day, and as we were leaving one of the larger department stores we passed a sign. The sign read: Now Hiring, Apply Within. The human brain is truly a magnificent organism, possible of thousands upon thousands of calculations at any given moment. Now I’m sure that there are countless women out there that would agree that a man’s brain does not possess this ability. Admittedly, this would be a correct analysis—at least in part—as men do not multitask well. However, we are not talking multitasking. We are talking pure lineal thought moving at exceptional speed. It is this latter brain function that kicked into overdrive moments after my optic nerves sent the upside down image of the sign that I had passed leaving the store, and my brain began to unscramble the reversed image deciphering the bunched together letters reading the words aloud inside my head: Now Hiring, Apply Within.

These are words that a normal person’s brain would register to mean: this business is short staffed and is currently accepting applications, and should you desire to apply for the job, you may do so somewhere inside this building. But I don’t have the brain of a normal person; I have the brain of a writer. By the time I had walked the twelve feet from the sign to the threshold exiting the store and entering the mall, I had begun to laugh out loud. Partly because I had thought that the sign I had just passed was one of the most philosophical signs I had ever seen, and partly because I had begun to analyze the obscure slant that the brain of a writer has on the environment in which it passes through, and I had found great hilarity in my analysis. Let me explain.

I was thinking, “Well, would you lookie there? That sign is telling me that one who is in search of employment should look deep inside one’s self to inquire as to whether they may be a suitable candidate for work at this particular establishment.” I thought, “wow, that’s a pretty deep sign for a department store. At that same instant, I had a sudden flash of similar situations where I had found humor in some sign I had read, either through the unusual perspective of my own consciousness, or the exceptionally poor grammar of the composer of the sign. Unfortunately, this seems to occur most frequently in bathroom facilities.

Just for the record: a sudden outburst of laughter—no matter how small—in a bathroom, occupied by more than just yourself, always causes a moment of awkwardness. Then you find yourself in a situation where you feel you need to either explain the reason for you laughter, or get out of there as soon as possible. Often enough I will act like a mental patient speaking loudly about how excited I am about to be out in town, and how if I’m good will be rewarded with gummy bears, and that the green ones are my favorite. Then, of course, engage the other person in a line of questions about their feelings on sweet gummy deliciousness until they feel the need to escape as soon as possible. Kinda fun actually.

Every time I notice grammatical errors on printed signs it makes me laugh anyway. I won’t say that grammar isn’t important, because it is important, but often side-stepped by weirdo thinkers like myself. Like that ridiculous test that some English teachers give when they ask students to punctuate: a woman without her man is nothing

.
As soon as my professor assigned this to my class, I knew that it must be some sort of no win situation in which gender bias must be involved. Apparently men will punctuate the phrase: A woman, without her man, is nothing. And women will punctuate the phrase: A woman, without her, man is nothing. All of the sudden I felt like Captain Kirk engaging in the Kobayashi Maru. (I’m not explaining this to the non-Trekies out there… look it up.) And like Kirk I thought outside the box and found a way out. Thank you, weirdo thinking brain. I simply responded to my English professor by punctuating the phrase: A woman without? Her man is nothing!

Not really grammatically correct I know, but I’m pretty sure that E.E. Cummings proved that grammar is more guidelines than actual rules. Just goes to prove that everyone needs a good editor. Like they didn’t’ have a big enough ego as it was. I wish I had an editor for this blog; perhaps I wouldn’t have so many grammatical mistakes. A good editor that will work for free is hard to find in This World of Hurt.

Happy Birthday to… Me!

In Birthdays, children, Dads, life, love, Men, Parents, Uncategorized on June 23, 2014 at 12:06 am

Yesterday was my birthday. Birthdays are interesting days for celebration don’t you think? Where did this tradition come from, and why is it that we feel the need to celebrate our own birth? Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of the birthday haters that are out there in the world. Those types of people are very strange to me. They tend to fall into the same bizarre categories like people who refuse to to allow their children to have chocolate milk, people who believe that St. Patrick’s day is a form of demonic worship, people who dislike honey, and Red Socks fans. They’re all weird, but we all have our moments I suppose. I’m simply curious as to where it all came from.

It’s not a biblical thing. There wasn’t any reference to the actual day that Jesus was born in the Bible, and if you think about it, birthday celebrations are a bit on the self centered side, which sort of goes against the teachings of Christianity. Ancient Egypt maybe. All those pharaohs were pretty into themselves, could be one of their inventions. I think that most of us are linked to the ancient Egyptians in that respect, as self centeredness seems a fairly common trait among humans… or at least in this country. I know it is one of my larger character flaws—big time. As my friend Pendergast might say, “A very bad habit, but one I find hard to break.”

On that note: let’s get back to me. 40 years ago I was born, and depending on the longevity of my life, today puts me somewhere around the half way point. What have I learned in 40 years of existence? In truth, not much really; however, I can share a little.

What I have learned about children is that regardless of the amount of preparation, you are unprepared. Think back to your days in elementary school. You remember when they told us that we were all unique? That wasn’t just to boost your self esteem. In fact it was some of the best advice that you could have received about parenting. Each child that you have will be completely different from one another. If you have decided that you will treat all of your children equally, then that will prove to be a bad idea. After all, your children will not be equal, no reason to treat them as if they are. Now they will all need to follow the same set of rules—rules and punishment should always be equal. But each of your children will have different strengths, weaknesses, interests, desires, goals, talents, and such. As a result, they will require different modes of encouragement. Observe your children with the wonderment. A parent wears many hats: teacher, mentor, student, disciplinarian, provider, chauffeur, councilor, just to scratch the surface. Notice that friend was not in that list. You are not their friend. Your job is to prepare them for life as an adult. Let their friends give them what they want. Your job is to give them what they need. And watch them close, because sometimes they don’t need a friend. Sometimes what they need is you. And if you have chosen to have only one child. Then you’re just cheating.

What have I learned about life is that there is an unseen connectedness that binds us all together. We exist for one single purpose: to allow the magnificence of God’s complex plan to unfurl. Just like our children, each of us is gifted with certain strengths and weaknesses, talents and ineptitudes. I have found that the only things that separate the average from the extraordinarily successful people is: education and determination. Do not confuse education with that junk that you might pick up in school—whether public, private, or collegiate. What I mean to say is that you must discover your talent. It will probably be the things in your life that you gain the most pleasure from. Ask yourself: what is it that you really love to do? When you have the answer to this question, learn about it, read about it, practice it, in short, educate yourself on every aspect of this talent that you have. More than likely, this talent will be able to bring you great success if you have the determination to work harder than anyone else to become the very best. After all, your talent will most certainly be someone else’s ineptitude. Since you love it, there is a better than average chance that it will not even seem like work at all. And always, always take the time to learn.

What I have learned about love and relationships is… well I have a formula for that. I’ll be happy to share this formula with you. But not today. I’ll be covering this formula in a future post. Think of it as just something to look forward to in This World of Hurt.

For Dad

In children, Dads, life, Men, Parents on June 15, 2014 at 12:01 am

Fatherhood is an fascinating institution. There is nothing in life that compares to the magnitude of not only creating life with the mother of your children, but then spending decades attempting to prepare the tiny person that you created for a life of their own. Children are the only things that one can experience that can both keep you young, and make you grow old at the same time. As for myself, I know that I am not always the greatest parent, but I absolutely love being a dad. I must admit that I have become the man that I am because of the men that came before me, and through their teachings.

My father is a great man, as his father was before him. He taught me more than simply how to grow into an adult, but he also taught me how to be a father when the time came. He showed me how to conduct myself in the world of adulthood, how to properly covey my ideals in a political setting, and helped me to learn how to defuse the volatile situations that may result from conveying those ideals. He instilled in me a love of art and music, and educated me on how to play an instrument of my own, tools that would carry me into a professional realm of music for many years into my adulthood.

My father taught me the importance of history, and how the learning of it will go far to prevent the repeating of it. He showed me the value of economics and the maintaining of a well balanced budget. He was the son of a World War II veteran—a Silver Star nominated Marine for merit under combat—and he passed down the necessity for avoiding conflict. I remember that both men have given the same advice to me: “You should avoid a violent conflict whenever possible, even at the loss of face, but if violence becomes unavoidable, you should meet your opponent with such aggressive brutality that it crushes their resolve.”

My father taught me the importance of loyalty to the ones that you love. He has said to me on more than one occasion that you should hold loyalty above all else but integrity. Fortunately, my father is still alive today, and I will continue to learn from him as long as his magnificent heart beats in his chest. So, I would like to tell him how much I appreciate him never giving up on me in my more impetuous years. I would like to tell him how much that I love him, and how much I appreciate his teachings. I would like to spend the years to come continuing to learn, and spending time together in laughter, retelling the stories that have brought us so much joy no matter how many times that we hear them.

I say to my dad, “Happy Father’s day” and , “Thank you, Pop. Thank you for teaching, for your guidance, for your love and compassion, for your patience and most important, for your inspiration. And of course, thank you for my life. Because of what you have instilled in me, I think I might be able to to make it through This World of Hurt.

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