Hoist The Flag Corporal, It’s Time to Surrender.

Image source: http://www.aagrapevine.org via google images.

In spite of a mildly productive day that can’t have been described as all that bad….things spiraled out of control as soon as I came home.

First, as I pulled into the driveway, I notice a sizable pile of old baby accoutrements piled in the front lawn. My spidey sense started to tingle immediately. My wife had slipped into a “I’ve had it up to here with all this crap” mode. As a result:

sources: southerngirlramblings.com via google images.

She had gone into The Narrator’s closet and hauled everything out. Things were being separated into piles.
“Throw away” “Give away” and a smaller, third one that was “Keep.”

Usually when she gets going like this, it is best to stay right out of her way. If you stand still, you risk being clubbed and dumped in the “Throw away” pile. I went inside and inquired about the baby things on the lawn.

“They need to go down into the garage.”

“There’s no room in the garage” says I. – (The main part of the garage has things that belong to our landlord, and we have a small corner room where I have all kinds of crap wadded in there.)

“Well, there’s no room for it up here anymore either.”

(Here is where I make a mistake)

“Well”, says I….”It all came OUT of somewhere didn’t it?”

….And that is how spring cleaning can be responsible for drastically lowering the temperature around here. Needless to say, I moved it all to the garage. STAT.

_____________________________

Then, she needs to run into town for a quick errand. She takes The Narrator with her.
Upon her return, this happens.

“Um, is the car a bit more growly than usual?”

“No, I didn’t notice anything all day today, and I took it damn near 200 miles.”

“The brakes are weird too.”

“No they aren’t, they’re fine. Again. All day. No problem. PLUS the guy took it to inspect it today, and he didn’t notice any problems either.”

“I’m telling you, somethings off.”

“Humph.” – (This is my “you have no idea what you’re talking about” sound.)

Twenty minutes later, I go move the car out of the driveway so our landlord can bring his truck in to move some things out of the garage. I put it in reverse and hit the accelerator.

“SCCCRRRRUUUNNGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH… SKKKKRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAGGGGLLLLLLLEEEEEEBFJUFDSFJDEKL”

….and the brake pedal sinks low to the floor.

…..just like she said it did.

Somewhere between my getting home at 4:30 and her taking the car back out at 5:00, the brake pads on one of the wheels said “Take this job and shove it.” Don’t ask me how that happens, but I swear it made no noise at all when I came home. Or all day. But it conspired with my wife somewhere along the lines to make me look like a jerk and help the day end on a note of flatulence rather than peace.

Couple all of this with my exhaustion from the last few days, and The Narrator’s fun little game of pretending he’s afraid of his dinner, and crying about having to eat in much the same manner as a condemned man might beg for clemency in an old west movie as he’s being dragged to the gallows by a man in a black hood. Now you have an accurate picture of the headache that is my evening.

It certainly could be worse. No doubt about it. But today just turned into one of those days where several little things go wrong all at once.
As I write this, a smell invades my nostrils. A bad smell. An unmistakable smell. Across the room stands 19 month old Mini-Me with a grin on his face that says:

“Daddy…on the awful cake that is your evening, I have supplied the icing.”

 

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Targeting Sportsmen

This morning I ran across an instagram photo from literally my oldest friend on the planet. She had taken a photo depicting a car with the same decal on it as below:

Image source

Her associated hashtags were #guncontrolnow and #idiots, with the title of “America, Stop It.”

Now, before we go further, this is not a sticker I have on my car, I would never put it there. It is about as silly as “Truck Nuts” as far as I’m concerned.

However, I had several problems with her post. And since she’s an old friend, and I didn’t feel like being the jerk who drops a comment on her photo comment thread that starts off with “…..Actually….” I came here instead.

  1. Blatantly calling someone an idiot because you don’t see eye to eye with them on a political hot-button issue is not constructive and is openly contributing to the political rift we have existing in the nation today. Believe me. I used to do it. I would move my attacks from the issue and pick at the person discussing the issue. It didn’t take long to realize that I was being a fool however. If you don’t like a statue in the park, cursing out the sculptor is fairly pointless.
  2. Gun control advocates in the country are by and large- not targeting the hunting community. Some are (See next point) but for the most part you’re seeing a push to regulate the sales and ownership of firearms that one would never dream of hunting with, as well as handguns which are easily concealable, and yes- in some places, far too easy to come by…and I say that as a firearms owner. Even the gun control measures put into place by NY Governor Cuomo which are highly lauded by his supporters- does absolutely nothing to address, curb, curttail, or ban firearms which are legitimately used for hunting.
  3. My main problem is this- lumping the hunting and sportsmen community into the same group of people that are causing trouble for the rest of the nation is unfair. The culture of hunters rather proudly promotes safe and active ownership of all sporting equipment up to and including bows and rifles. While there are exceptions to the rules I’m sure- the people that commit the crimes against humanity that are prompting the cries for tighter and more restrictive control of firearms are generally NOT hunters or people that have been raised in the sporting community. There’s another old bumper sticker that comes to mind:

    Image source

    Not only is it reckless and irresponsible to throw the sporting community into the mix with the people who do their damndest to purchase AK-47s on the sly, or hoard handguns and ammunition with ill intent, but it really is unfair. My old friend is openly attacking a group of people who would- on the surface- agree with some of her points on firearms ownership. Why? Because we also don’t believe that people with certain criminal histories or mental health issues should be permitted to own a dangerous firearms. We agree with you, yet are being targeted in your rage anyway.

As the gun control debate rages on and on in this country, I’m seeing more and more instance where people are throwing up their hands and vilifying anyone owns and uses a firearm for any purpose whatsoever.

  • I can see having concern towards people who acquire firearms illegally.
  • I can see having concern towards people whose backgrounds are checkered or questionable.
  • I can even see having concern towards people who acquire them for ‘home and self defense’ without proper training and education.

But when you stop and consider than most if not all states have safety courses as prerequisites for the acquisition of hunting licenses- which DO include trigger time in front of instructors, you simply cannot consider hunters and sportsmen on the same threat level as the guy who buys a Glock from the trunk of a car in a dimly lit parking lot.

Hunters and sportsmen are not your problem. We do not contribute to the ‘culture of violence’ that you like to champion claims against. We actively and openly support safe and responsible ownership and use of firearms.

There are the ecological benefits of hunting as well, which are another argument for another day.

– Largely though, to my lifelong, dear friend- I am offended that you would see fit to include me and people like me as a problem in your crusade to stop gun violence- which IS a noble cause. It truly is. I would love to see an end to it myself. Everyone does. But after all the years we’ve known each other, and with the respect and admiration I have for you and what you do, most of all- I am hurt to think that in your eyes I may be no better than a mass shooter, or that by wanting to raise my sons as responsible sportsmen, I am doing nothing but raising killers.

I won’t stop being friends with you. No, I’d never do that. Severing a lifelong friendship because of a difference in political ideology is foolish for a thousand reasons. But I can’t help but think you might be side-eyeing me as a threat to your safety because of what I do in my spare time, and that….that stings badly.

-Although it really and truly is an idiotic sticker for a car.

Roasted? Toasted? The Great Marshmallow Debate.

Shutterstock Image.

This weekend was a fairly good one. Errands were run, tasks accomplished, and the weather was awesome. The Narrator and I even managed to have one of our most successful fishing days to date- he out-fished me 2-1 and caught our only bass while I struggled to keep the sun fish from taking all my worms. I hate those things- either the hook was too big and they ate the worms, or the hook was too small and they swallowed the whole damn thing. Plus, you can’t eat them, so while I struggled with them, my son kept hooking impressive catches and laughing at my misfortune the whole time.

Yesterday we did very little, but ended the day around the fire pit cooking hot dogs and making s’mores. Between my attending to the fire and keeping The Narrator from kicking his “Thomas The Tank Engine” ball into the flames, and my wife doing everything she could to keep Mini-Me in his stroller to keep him from actively learning about fire- we mulled over one of the greatest questions of our time.

Were we roasting marshmallows? Or toasting them? My wife, who is far smarter than I in many forms, suggested that the difference lay not in the method of heat application, but in the intent with which the treats are cooked- she says, for example, that if you set out to do nothing but heat and eat marshmallows, you are roasting them. If, however, you decide you are going to do something else- such as use them on a s’more, or alongside something else, then you are toasting them.

Me? I can’t wrap my head around something that complex, and figured that there has to be some official cooking definitions which would clarify the difference one and for all. I also wonder if the differences aren’t so subtle that the interchangability of the two terms is, in fact- socially acceptable. That being said, I will not be guilty of a faux pas in terminology, and shall continue to approach the subject in a public setting in such the same manner that I approach a pregnant female- ignore it completely until someone else brings it up. I could resort to the politically correct dance-around and simply refer to the process as ‘cooking’ marshmallows, but that smacks of laziness and an unwillingness to become educated in the matter once and for all.

Perchance someone can help me out.

Inevitably, the matter was not settled, although for lack of a better explanation I did accept my wife’s theory that the difference is strictly semantics.

What WILL remain hotly (haha) contested, is the matter on just how…. ‘well done’ a marshmallow should be when you are considering consumption.
I am a firm believer that a properly roastedtoasted….. dammit- COOKED- marshmallow should take some time, and end up with a slightly browned exterior which gently holds in a soft center which could still be scientifically classified as a solid.

My lovely wife, however- insists that a marshmallow needs to be heated to the point where it becomes fully involved, charring the outside to the point where it resembles either a charcoal briquette or something launched from a trireme under the label of “Greek Fire.” The center? Molten. We’re talking scalding liquid that could be used to pour into the faces of invaders trying to scale a castle wall sort of molten. (Man, I’m on with the history references today.)

So- Where do you stand?

  • Do you roast marshmallows? Or, do you toast marshmallows? Perhaps you are like me and avoid the delicate conundrum altogether until someone resolves it for you in a social setting. Or, are you the bold and adventurous type who continues to interchange the term, never once caring who you might offend with your cavalier attitude on the matter?
  • As far as preparation goes- do you prefer your marshmallows cooked properly so that they still resemble a foodstuff? Or, would you rather it end up resembling something that a distraught villager might carry on his way to storm Frankenstein’s castle?

These are questions which begged to be answered, and a simple husband-wife team cannot conclude such matters on our own. Much research is warranted. Studies must be conducted, polls polled, and and data compiled.

The very existence of civility around summer campfires rests in your hands.

 

A Day At The Zoo.

Yesterday, The Narrator’s Pre-School class took a trip to the Adirondack Animal Land zoo. A 1.5 hour drive that had it all.

– The cliche old “Are we there yet?”
– Mommy and daddy desperately searching for coffee on the way.
– Daddy driving like a madman to get there by our 9:30 arrival time.

We survived the drive, although I wasn’t really very keen on the trip to be honest. The place’s web site made it sound like a low end collection of various deer and sheep, with a few llamas and a giraffe as their centerpiece.

Turns out the site undersold it, and I was very impressed. The safari ride you go on is a short tractor loop in an open wagon where the ostriches and llamas have free reign. So free in fact that they have a fondness for the loose hair and hats of the riders on the outsides. This is made worse by the fact that the tour guide keeps a bucket of feed, so they’ve been trained to follow along in anticipation of a snack. Hilariously, the guide will dump some of the feed on an unsuspecting rider, prompting a giant, liver-lipped camel to all but slobber the daylights out of the poor kid. Thankfully, I sat in the middle, with Mini-Me strapped to my chest. The trepidations Narrator sat next to me in the middle, not about to make himself a ready snack for the beasts.

We spent most of the day doing zoo-things. Checking out various animals, feeding them treats from the little vending machines near each pen, and snapping photographs. Well, the wife snapped photos. I only managed this one:

I called him Frank. He looked like a Frank.

Most of the time, I had Mini-Me on my back, and I spent the day twisting around so he could see everything, and the only camera I had was on my phone, and I didn’t feel like being ‘Cell-phone guy’ again. Momma got a whole lot of pictures.

The place even had two wolves which were very awesome to see.

The high point of the trip for me though, was the deer pen. For $2 you could get a packet of crackers and hand-feed the deer There were no fences, just a little trail that wound through the woods where the animals lived. In the right conditions, they would walk right up to you and eat what you offered them.

I say “Right conditions” because the entire point was to walk quietly in and follow the signs that said “Please stay on the path” – this would prevent scaring the animals, and they would come up to you. Yesterday, however, there were three little boys bout The Narrator’s age who were tear-assing through the woods chasing the herd of deer all over the place while their parents stayed ON THE PATH and yelled through the woods at their kids.

“Connor! Get back here or I’ll be mad!”
“BILLY! STOP RUNNING OR I’LL YELL AT YOU!”

….mostly empty threats that were completely ignored and the deer got their workout as they ran around the enclosure at a panic.

In the typical “Monkey-see, monkey-do” fashion, several other kids, seeing the crazy little ringleaders get away with ignoring their parents, either broke ranks and joined them in the woods, or devolved into a simpering whine when they realized they weren’t allowed to wreak havoc on the wildlife.

The Narrator though- did something that damn near made me want to weep with pride. I told him to remember how we walked in the woods when we hiked or hunted. Slowly and quietly. He understood it immediately, and amazingly, stayed on the path the whole time, holding his crackers out for the animals that escaped the panic to see.

His patience was rewarded. At one point, amid all the chaos, a small deer realized there was an opportunity to eat, and came over to him. Of the 8 or so kids in the enclosure, he was the only one feeding a deer. A few exasperated parents saw this and called to their kids to “Look at that little boy, do what he’s doing.”

Eventually, the two little monsters were dragged away and things settled down. As we got ready to leave, The Narrator even gave a few of his remaining crackers to a little girl who didn’t have any. Despite the insanity of the pen, he never got excited or went crazy, and it paid off.

To me, as cool as the animals all were to watch, the few minutes in the deer pen when he was able to calm himself down, listen completely, and be patient was so much better than any of that- including the joey hanging out in the mother kangaroo’s pouch, head out, almost cartoonishly. And those few moments were absolutely worth spending three hours in the car.

….Of course, as I write this, he and Min-Me are running in circles around the living room, wearing my sunglasses and their pajamas, and screaming about something happening on Jungle Junction, So don’t make the false assumption that he is always so composed and quiet.

 

Some People Have No Sense of Humor.

No source on photo. It’s mine. I took it.

Yesterday morning presented itself as a wonderful opportunity for a few hours of ‘me time’ – sandwiched between running The Narrator to school, and working 3-11 on the road. Just a few short miles from the school is a lake. Rather than make the drive home after dropoff, then come back and pick him up a few hours later, I decided to spend some time fishing (read: drowning worms) in said lake. The weather was beautiful, and I had the gear in the car. My only need was bait. And coffee.

Gas stations aren’t noted for having the best of either of these two things, but beggars can’t be choosers. So I pulled into a local station, filled my styrofoam cup to the brim with piping hot liquid life, and rooted through the smelly refrigerator they kept in the back with a faded “Live Bait” sticker on it. I found a small container of worms and happily made my way to the busy counter.

The cashier was slightly younger than me, sported a number of facial piercings that I never fathomed possible, and a face that did very little to mask the fact that she would probably would have rather been water boarded than work another minute behind the counter. The man in front of me paid out and left.

Mr. Chipper (me) was next, so I plunked down the coffee and container of worms.
“Is this all?” She asked- robotically, there was no indication at all in her voice that she gave a whit if I had gotten everything I needed or not.
“Yes,” Says I, with a moronic grin on my face…. “Just the coffee and the breakfast.” I guess I thought a small joke would do something to lighten the misery that was clearly her morning.

In response- I got an eye roll and a head shake that very plainly told me that my sense of humor was not appreciated at this particular time. Or perhaps ever.

I cringed much the way a stage comedian in the middle of a flop set might do when the audience starts looking around for things to hurl at him, and sauntered out of there.

Oh well.

I tried.

 

 

 

“Call Me Back.”

I’m a man who has two children, works in emergency services on various levels, has suffered through layoffs and firings in the professional world, and- if I’m honest, dealt with creditors and debt collectors.

– Basically, its really easy to put me on heightened alert via telecommunications.

If I happen to have a voicemail come through my phone without a missed call alert so I know who it is, Part of me jumps to panic mode and wonders “Uh oh…now what?” I immediately scroll through any number of negative possibilities until I check the messages.

Because of this paranoia if you will, any and all attempts to reach me where the messages are simply “Call me back.” or “I need to talk to you” sends me into a rage.

I CRAVE information. I like to know what is going on around me, I like to know what I’m up against when I return a call or a message. With my constant fear of wandering into a bear-trap from an unexpected message and my desire for constant intel, these messages incense me to no end.

I have a very dear friend who was one of my groomsmen at my wedding, and I’m set to be one at his- who is the single worst offender at this. Whenever he tries to call me or messages me there is never any content in his communications. They’re always simply “Call me back. I need to talk to you.” In fact, it was a recent communication from him that prompted this post in the first place.

I’ve gone into a meeting that started simply with “The Walrus wants to see you” (The Walrus was my nickname for an old boss, of whom I was not overly fond) – and ended up finding out that my position was being eliminated.
Or the voicemails saying “Give me a call when you can.” – to find out that someone has died.
The worst was the meeting I was called to with the message that said only “When can you get here?” – to find out that I didn’t get a job I was looking for.

If you’re blindsided enough, you start to expect it at every turn and messages without any content or warning immediately make me defensive.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that whenever you need to leave a message for someone, GIVE THEM INFORMATION. – Especially if there is no bad news attached to your business. Even if there is bad news, some cushion to soften the blow would be nice. As far as I’m concerned, it is basic human decency to give a ‘heads up’ when you need to reach out to someone who has to return a message.

Leaving a secret message for someone and baiting them into returning the call just so you can A-bomb them with bad news is just mean, and there may be a special place in an extra-warm climate awaiting you when you pass on simply for this.

Leaving a secret message for someone that might lead them to believe you’re going to A-bomb them with bad news is worse, especially if you have GOOD news, or no news at all.

“Hey, AD, This is your old buddy jerkface. Call me when you get this, I need to talk to you.”

-Jerkface? I haven’t talked to jerkface in two years. Oh man…what happened? {Panic sets in}

“Hey jerkface, this is AD returning your call, what’s up?”

“Oh, hey AD, nothing, I just had a question for you- what was the name of that restaurant you went to that gave you food poisoning when we visited West Nowhere twelve years ago? I’m bringing my family out that way next week and we don’t want to spend the whole trip on the can like you did.”*

{Rage replaces panic as I direct him and his unwitting family directly to the place he seeks to avoid as punishment for his sins}

(* The above is not a real conversation, although is a slightly embellished one to make my point.)

How much longer would it have taken him to to leave a message that said exactly what he wanted to avoid lighting my fear that he was going to tell me some bad news?

Information is key. It doesn’t matter what you want, either couch it a bit if its bad news, so you’re not hamstringing some poor soul, or lay it all on the table if you’re NOT going to ruin someone’s day when they call you back.

Human decency dictates thusly.

Season Finales

I’ve decided that for kicks, I’m going to start watching season or series finales of television shows that I have never seen, or of those that I never, ever plan on watching.

Shows that I either deliberately ignored because the premise sucks and watching them should make you ashamed to be human, or ones that completely escaped my notice for one reason or another.

Why? Mainly because of the after-effects. How much fun would it be to sitting in a loop of fans of a particular show and have the finale come up in conversation. Then, surgically, you drop in with something like “I thought it was an awesome episode, but who the hell was that guy who…” {ends up being the main character, but seriously, how the hell would you know that}

Then, when someone looks at you like you’re insane, and asks you why you didn’t know main plot lines or characters, you shrug and say “Oh, this was the only episode of the show that I’ve seen.”

You could literally melt the brains of the people around you by revealing that the only episode of a show you’ve seen was the giant twist-filled, nail-biting season-ender.

If I could just parlay this into a TV show of my own somehow and make a few million bucks off the idea….

Kindergarten Orientation.

Yesterday we took The Narrator in to Kindergarten Orientation. It was a short little program prior to the registration process, which happens later.

It was basically a handful of wide-eyed five year olds being shown the kindergarten classrooms, meeting the teachers, and taking a short ride on a school bus. It was also an opportunity for misty-eyed moms to meet with some of the school officials and be graciously handed a giant stack of paperwork. There were a few veteran parents there, who had already packed off a kid or two to school, but you could tell there were some first-timers, us among them. The stoic vets stood back and let the newbies fuss over their child’s clothing or hair or something before leaving them with the teachers, then the parents were led away for a quick tour of the school and the ceremonial bureaucratic obligations- A.K.A – paperwork.

My wife and I had both spent time working in this particular school, and I had even graduated from there after thirteen years there. Some of the teachers and support staff that are there were there when I was, and it was very strange to see them in a new capacity. They had gone from teachers to coworkers, and now they’re my kid’s teachers.

It was mind-blowing.

The Narrator handled it very well. He could hardly conceal his excitement when he discovered that his classroom would have LEGOS.

Since I have a long history with the school, which is small- K-12 grade all in one building, and knew many of the professionals there, I had made a joke with my wife before we got there that I was going to count all the instances of
“Oh, my, I can’t believe your son is coming to school already!” that I heard throughout the course of the orientation.

I really and truly should have counted, because everyone we ran into in the hallway said it to us…well, those that weren’t immediately distracted by Mini-Me, whose adorable little face was scrunched up in frustration since I had decided to sling him to my chest rather than carry him or, as he would have preferred- to let him roam unfettered about the building, free to cause mayhem however he so pleased.

I didn’t have a problem with the repeated “I can’t believe he’s coming to school already!” lines- people are genuinely incredulous when you realize that one of your new students is the child of one of your old students. I don’t know if I could ever get over seeing that myself. It amused me more than anything, and for some of the ones that had been excruciating experiences to deal with as one of MY teachers, or even the ones who caused me endless agony when I worked there as the computer technician, the chance to see the flicker of “My god, I’m old” in their eyes as they saw us leading a bewildered five-year old down the hallway was rather satisfying.

I know that sounds rather evil of me, but let me have this one, I’m working really hard at trying to be nice to people lately.

The Narrator had a great time, my wife welled up only for a minute or two, and Mini-Me behaved himself after he realized his prison (me) could be kicked like a horse to make it move.

The worse part of the whole thing was that at one point, I was “Cell Phone Guy.” – The jerk-whistle who gets and answers a phone call in the middle of a meeting or event. Thankfully, I had had the intelligence before hand to silence the ringer, I don’t think the school assistant superintendent would have appreciated the Doctor Who theme being blasted across the library as she gave her speech about how wonderful the kindergarten program was. Unless she is another Whovian, but who can take that chance right?

If it hadn’t been from the police chief, I wouldn’t have taken it. But it was, and I had to, so I tried to unobtrusively sneak out of the room while whispering to my boss and taking Mini-me’s sneakered shoe to my thigh as he kicked about, figuring that if I was distracted he could finally make his escape.

In the “negatives” column of the day, the embarrassment of that managed to beat out the traumatic realization that we’d be packing The Narrator off to Kindergarten in a few short months.

For the most part, I’m trying not to focus yet on the fact that my little boy is going to be entering school just yet. You might say I’m in denial. I’m planning on packing the summer months with as much as I can with him. He and I are already planning a ‘camp out’ – tenting in the back yard… plenty of fishing, a small hike, and he still helps me mow the lawn, even though he’s so big now that there isn’t enough room on the tractor seat for the both of us anymore.

I’ll need to come to grips with it sooner or later, but not yet. I’ll keep my little boy for just a little bit longer before I have to let him turn into my big boy.

My Obsession With The Calendar

If anyone’s been with me for any length of time, you’ll have noticed a pattern.
Hardly a post goes by when I don’t mention my calendar, schedule, or both. When you have so many balls in the air, you live and die by the calendar. We have three paper calendars in the house. Mine, Theirs, and Ours- which is my wife’s master calendar in a big pink binder.

The electronic calendar is shared on my phone, and was tied to my personal and work gmail accounts.

I probably spend as much time pouring over my calendars each day as some people do staring at facebook or twitter. There is a small part of me that loves adding things in bright colors to the schedule.

Yesterday, however, I realized that I may have a problem. My tech job, for some reason- decided to move from gmail hosting to Microsoft Outlook. Of course, my boss needs to have shared access to my calendar so he can schedule my work around PD shifts, The Narrator’s school schedule, and any number of other things which might impact setting up my days at work.

The shift from hosts was a catastrophic and stressful time for me yesterday when I tried for nearly an hour to migrate/merge/sync my android, gmail, and Outlook calendars into one cohesive entity. I needed to be able to add something to any one of the three calendars, and have it appear on the other two.

You’d think I was asking NASA to reinstate the Apollo program.

The three calendars acted like three step-siblings. All somehow related, but in no way willing to cooperate with each other fully.

The anxiety I felt when I saw my android calendar had duplicated every entry for the next two months, and that gmail sat like a petulant child while I tried to talk some sense into Outlook was an indication to me that I perhaps put too much stock into these things.

It isn’t the obsession with devices that plagues the modern world so much as it is an obsession with order. I have never been described by anyone who has known me as ‘OCD’ but I suspect that is because my starting to organize my days like they are now is something new. When a person has a single full time job and a few outside obligations, you can often keep track of your life with a handful of post-it notes on the fridge. That was how I used to live. Then when I shifted careers and entered the world of various part time jobs and personal obligations, it quickly became apparent that they didn’t make enough post-its.

One of the most stressful times of the month for me is when I have to sit down and plot out my availability for each of my three jobs.

The Ambulance already asked me to work nights “A and B” each week, so that means I can’t work PD shifts during those times, I’ll have to sign up for day shifts, but not on days “C and D” because The Narrator has to go to school those days. Maybe I could do nights with the PD on days “C, D, and E, and days on F and G.” So that means that my IT job can have me on days “A, B, C, and E.”

Its enough to ulcerate you, I promise. Especially when you toss in a doctor’s appointment or something fun and unexpected.
However stressful it is though, there is a tiny part of me that actually enjoys it. At the end of it all, I look at a collection of disastrously colored boxes on multiple sheets, then conglomerate them all into one glorious master sheet which then gets copied to my electronic calendars, and I feel like a Time Lord. I was able to condense umpteen thousand obligations, interests, and appointments into thirty days, and still have room to sleep for a few hours here and there.

…so yesterday’s “Charlie Foxtrot”   when it came to the calendar migrations damn near broke me. If anyone had been around me while I worked out this mess, they’d have seen a thirty-one year old father of two, part time cop, firefighter, and ambulance driver as close to tears as a sixteen month old child gets when you tell him something like “Please stop biting the cat” ….complete with quivering lower lip.

So yes. I have a problem. My newfound sense of order and control was slightly disrupted. Much in the same manner that Pompeii was slightly disrupted by Vesuvius.

I think though, that my problem isn’t actually the problem, but the fact that I have such a problem with the problem is the problem. (Got that? Good, because I can’t go through that again. It hurt to write.)

Perhaps I needed this disruption in my sense of order and control to ground me a bit. Yes, being organized is a great thing, but on the other hand, being anal retentive about such things and being so disturbed by a monkey-wrench or two can’t be constructive…or healthy.

I don’t know. What I do know is that while I had planned to wrap this post up with some great philosophical nugget about mankind and our foolish conquest to control time, Mini-Me, who is sitting on my lap, just decided to fill a diaper.

So I’ll leave the conclusions to you.

Do I, and perhaps many, many other people like me spend way too much time trying to compartmentalize our lives by planning and plotting out every single day? Are we in control by doing so, or are we completely delusional and being controlled instead?

One thing for sure that is controlling me at this very second, is the need to do something about that diaper I mentioned a second ago. I guess the lesson I’ve learned in this very instant, is that no matter how I try to schedule things, I’m still at the mercy of the universe, as well as one small child’s butt.

 

Selective Memory.

One of the longest running jokes in the gender war is that men have “selective hearing.” That is to say we have the ability to turn on or off our ability to hear and recognize things that the fairer sex says to us. Things like “Fix the sink” “Take out the garbage” or “My mother is coming to visit” (I literally just used every cliche in the book there) can go totally unnoticed by us, to the point where it looks like we’ve ignored our beautiful wives. However anything referencing naked time, food, or various sporting events (Never mind, here’s three more.) is picked up with speed that would put the Navy’s radar systems to shame.

It is all, of course a gag. Not true. At all. Usually. I think.

However, what IS a real thing is something called “Selective Memory” and it plagues our children. The Narrator, at five years old is dealing with it in its fullest.

Now, I’ve mentioned his uncanny ability to remember things before, but yesterday he did it again on such a level that its a good thing we were sitting in line at the drive through window and not driving, because I was taken so aback that I might have crashed the car.

We took a last-minute trip to Albany yesterday afternoon so I could get fitted for yet another tuxedo for yet another wedding party that I am in. (Counting my own, this will make #4) When we were all finished with my fitting, we decided it was dinner time. With an hour’s drive home there was no way the boys would survive the trip without resorting to cannibalism, or worse….whining. So we picked a place, and my wife and I decided to call one of our college friends who is local and see if he wanted to meet us for a quick dinner.

Now we haven’t seen our friend who we’ll call “Uncle S” because that’s what the Narrator calls him, in many, many months. He agreed to meet us, and we spent about an hour catching up and goofing around at the restaurant. The Narrator loves Uncle S- he was one of the very few people that the kid was not shy around back when he used to hide under tables when family came to visit.

After we left,  we made a quick stop on the road for some drinks and the following exchange happened.

Narrator: “I like Uncle S, and he learned to speak our language.”
Wife: “What? He has always known our language. What do you mean?”
Narrator: “The last time we saw him, he kept saying the wrong words in French.”

– Seeing it in writing doesn’t make the exchange look like much. However, like I said, it has been many months since we have seen Uncle S, and perhaps a YEAR or more since he had come to visit us and had spoken any French. He knows a passing amount of the language, but is not a native speaker. I don’t even remember the conversation we had had where he spoke any french, and by his own admission, he’ll often use the wrong word, or context when speaking it until he remembers and corrects himself.

Somehow or other, The Narrator managed to remember a conversation from well over a year ago where Uncle S. had said something randomly in French, then corrected himself. Not only that, but he remembered WHAT the language was to begin with.

…..I can’t get him to remember what I had said 17 seconds ago about not throwing his toys across the floor, or sitting properly in his chair at dinner, but the little fink can pick out a snippet of a random conversation from a year ago, complete with details.

Every now and then these little instances frighten the hell out of me because I constantly worry that he’s going to recall with vivid detail the instances where I have completely and utterly failed as a parent. I can only hope that if this uncanny ability to recall details remains with him throughout the remainder of his days, that I’ve managed to give him enough POSITIVE instances to remember, such that they outweigh the negatives.

Thus is the entire point of this blog. Detailing not only the struggle to raise children, but raise them in such a manner that when it comes time for them to look back at their childhood and my performance as a father, mathematically I come out on top and I don’t have them blogging somewhere down the line about how I borked up their earliest memories.