Check, and Mate.

I took some constructive criticism at work tonight. Nothing critical or even that bad, since everything was a valid point aimed not at cutting me down, but to help me polish myself professionally.   I was told though, that I have a tendency to be argumentative. 
…telling someone that just seems unfair doesn’t it? I mean, how is one supposed to respond to that? Attempting to defend yourself only strengthens the accusations, and agreeing cements them.

Of course, this is nonwithstanding,  because it is actually true. I do have a propensity to debate constantly. To some this could seem to be argumentative, and I understand that. But what if it weren’t true? What would the proper defense be for such an accusation?

Ive been pondering this all night and haven’t been able to come up with an answer, and this frustrates me more than being fed a list of my shortcomings.

Celery. Or- “Make Up Your Mind Kid.”

I rummaged through the fridge before getting ready for work, and found a small bag of celery sticks. While I am still unsure how celery counts as food, I figured if I didn’t eat them, nobody would and they’d just get thrown out. My wife hates the stuff, and The Narrator would rather chew off his own foot than eat it. So I grabbed the bag and started in. As I left the kitchen, I ran into two-year-old Mini-Me.

“Daddy? Some?”
“You want celery?”
“Uh huh.”

I give him a bite. He chews it for a second and seems to like it. He asks for more, so I give him own stick.

A moment later, he toddles up to me as I sit on the couch.

“Daddy? Yuck. Ceh-yee yuck.”
“You’re done?”
“Uh huh.”

I take the stick from him and finish it off. He cries.

“What’s wrong?”
“Ceh-yee.”
“I ate your celery?”
“Yeah.”
“I thought you were done?”
“Noooo Daddy. Ceh-yee.”
“Okay, fine. Here’s another one.”

I move to the bedroom to start pulling my kit together for work. He again toddles up to me with a half-eaten celery stick in his hand.

“Daddy. I uh-want ceh-yee.”
“Are you sure?”
“Uh-huh.”
“You’re sure you’re all done this time?”
“Yeah.”
“Fine. Gimme.”

He starts to bawl as soon as I take it, and runs out to my wife.
“Daddy took my ceh-yee!”

I plunked the stick down on the desk and went to take a shower, trying to figure out exactly what the nature of this game is that I appear to be losing against a two-year-old.

Candy Canes

Christmas is over. The refrigerator bulges with leftover food which will probably go bad before we have a chance to eat it all. The floor is littered with toys which will need to have places found for them in bedrooms, shelves, and closets. There is also a giant mixing bowl full of candy. Too much candy actually. Long ago, my wife and I knew to stop buying candy for the boys on holidays, since their grandparents usually end up doing exactly that. The worse offender by far is my own mother, ironically a diabetic. When we were kids, every Christmas morning we would find a sandwich baggie crammed full of red and green M&Ms, kisses, and various festively wrapped peanut butter cups and chocolate Santas. Where she was generous with GIVING these treats, we were always tightly regulated as to when and how much we could have, so that baggie would last some time….at least until we got older and started to sneak some on our own.

Now that I have sons of my own, that baggie still exists, but now its given to the boys.

I don’t mind that all so much as I do the candy canes.

As mildly irking as my mother plying the boys with chocolate is, my mother-in-law’s offense is worse. Every year, for reasons I cannot fathom, she sees fit to supply us with an entire box of a dozen or so candy canes.

Candy canes, in my opinion, are the worst excuse for candy that the world has ever seen. Consider the fact that people often would rather decorate with them than actually eat them.

Giving someone a candy cane says “I thought about you long enough to give you some garbage.”
Giving someone a box of candy canes says “I hate you.”

Tasty though they may be for a moment or two, the stickiness, the  constant “don’t lick that down to a sharp point” pleas, the need to immediately brush your teeth, the cling-film wrapper that sticks to you better than it does the candy itself….none of it is worth the effort.

Our cabinet still holds a box from last year, that has never been opened. This year’s mixing bowl holds twelve new ones, from under which the good candy will be picked at until nothing remains but the red and white striped garbage wrapped in cellophane. They’ll then be put in a cabinet and forgotten about until next year, when they’ll be joined by a dozen new ones. By the time we move from this house or die, the cabinet will probably have been designated “Garbage can #2” and hold nothing but these nuisance ‘treats.’

Occasionally, The Narrator will eat one. Or I’ll get clever and throw one into hot chocolate, but by and large, they’ll never get eaten and I’ll never understand the point of them at all.

My Late Christmas Present

We just got home from a “Polar Express” train ride with the boys, and I stopped to grab the mail out of the box. Thumbing through the contents, I found the something I’ve been dreaming about since I decided to get into Law Enforcement. A canvass letter. For exactly the job I want, in exactly the location I want. I’m being given a chance at what has literally become my dream job.
I am nowhere near landing said job yet, but I am on deck and being given a chance at the plate. You bet I’m swinging for the fences on this one. I cannot help but feel like all of the failed interviews, the positions I’ve been passed over for….all of that has been in preparation for this.

2015 could see AD take the last step in the long and bumpy road of job hunting and career changes, and finally settle the family into a sense of stability. Or, it could begin with a crippling defeat that sets the tone for another year of grinding out a living as I have been, but dammit, I won’t waste my time on worrying about that. Think positive AD. Think positive.

HO! HO!…..HUH?!?!

We left my parent’s place on Christmas Eve around 6pm and headed home. I’ll set the scene here a little bit, so you can get a feel for what happened.

We live in a very small, rural community. Outside of one actually. The road we live on is a dead end, and we’re the only full time residents out of about half a dozen houses. There are nights when you can go outside and see a bajillion stars, and the first night we stayed in the house, it was so dark that at one point I couldn’t honestly tell the difference between having my eyes open and my eyes closed.

So, you get the idea. There’s nothing around. Quiet, peaceful…and sometimes weird.

We made the turn off the main road and headed up the hill towards home. My headlights played over a mailbox, pale trees, a melting snowdrift…then, in the middle of the road…Santa Claus.

No shit, in the middle of the road, in the pitch dark, was a man in a full Santa suit. There are no bars for him to have come stumbling out of, no parties that I knew of that he could have been going to or from…like I said, there’s nothing here.

It creeped me and the wife out just a little, and confused the living hell out of the two boys in the back seat because…well…where the heck were the reindeer, and…Daddy, didn’t you just say he doesn’t come around until we’re all asleep?

We ushered the boys quickly inside and to bed shortly after. Partially because we had all of the wrapping of gifts to do, and partially because I didn’t feel like explaining to an inquisitive five-year-old why daddy was dead-bolting the front door and guarding it with a firearm against the very man we were expecting to come visit in the first place.

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

Since the half day I’m at work today promises to be the last instance of quiet time until 2015 for me, I shall now seize the opportunity to wish those of you who have kept me in your reader all this time a Safe, healthy, happy, and merry Christmas.
I know a lot of you are like me, stress-ridden and busy over the holiday season, but here’s hoping that no matter what else you’ve got on your plate, you get a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays for what they are.

As for me? I’ve got two little boys who are clock-watching like an office rat. The Narrator’s enthusiasm for Christmas has been picked up by Mini-Me, who still hasn’t got any idea what’s happening, but can sense something exciting in the air. The two of them are doing me a world of good, and they’ll never know it.

When I was a kid, every Christmas Eve, the families would rally to my grandmother’s house. There would be food, presents, and family, and always a lot of fun.

Now that my grandmother has moved to live with my aunt, my parents have taken up that mantle, and we’re gathering at their place tonight for a short while, until it is time to take the kids home and put them to bed. Then will follow a flurry of wrapping gifts and trying to get a handful of hours of sleep before The Narrator inevitably wakes up at some ghastly hour of the morning.

Tomorrow will be filled with family dropping in to visit. My parents, whom we’ll see tonight, will stop in in the morning, and my in-laws, who we’ll go visit in two days, will be there immediately after. We stagger their visits, mostly because the house is too small to accommodate what would be twelve people all at once, and also because my mother and my mother-in-law get along like a house on fire. They’re always pleasant to each other, but the temperature when they’re both around is always much, much colder than is comfortable.

….’tis the season- right?

I’m also on ambulance call starting around 6, so I could be celebrating part of my Christmas Day with some interesting illness or injury. It’s probably bad form to drive the rig wearing a Santa hat….right? And I’d probably get fired for wheeling a patient into an emergency room shouting “Ho Ho Ho!” as if I’m delivering some sort of squirming, barfing, or bleeding gift?

Anyway.

Sarcasm and joking aside, Tomorrow will be great. Exhausting, but great. We have family that we love visiting, and we’re going to have some honest-to-god quality time with the boys in the morning. Just us, them, and coffee.

I really and truly hope that every last one of you manages to have a great holiday, and if I don’t happen to get back here between now and then, I will see you all in 2015. Thanks for making adequatedad part of your 2014 experience.

The Wrong Outlook on the Holiday Season

I found myself looking at the calendar this morning and saying “Its almost over” with a sense of anticipation. As the first wonderful sensations of my morning coffee kicked in, I realized that I am doing the holidays all wrong. Especially this year. I’ve caught myself looking at the holidays as ‘just another something to get through.’

I’ve honestly been looking at the next week of what should be joy and family, as little different than the few days where my car was laid up at the shop, or when I have to work a few 16 hour days back to back. “Gotta get through this” is not the way to be viewing the season. I’ve missed the point entirely.

However, between today and January 1st, I’ve got two 4-12 PD shifts, three 8 hour days at the day job, two 12 hour ambulance shifts, A visit to my parent’s house Christmas Eve, Both families visiting on Christmas Day, a “Polar Express” train ride with the boys on the 26th, a 4 day trip to the in-laws for New Years…even though they had visited us less than 72 hours before we’re due to arrive, and a large grocery shopping to get done. So where some of us are slamming high-octane eggnog and donning hideous sweaters and felt reindeer antlers, I’m tearing from one obligation to another until 2015 comes rolling in. (Hopefully with some good news, more on that later, I don’t want to jinx myself!)

So you’ll pardon me if I seem a tad stressed out about the week upcoming.

I KNOW I’m looking at it all wrong, and I’m trying like hell not to let my grinch-like feelings bleed through to sully the boys’ excitement, and I’m doing something right, because the little one stood in the middle of the living room floor this morning chanting “Kheee-mas!” -while the big one counted how many sleeps were left until Christmas…so even if I’m a bit grouchy, I haven’t blackened anything for them.

The tree is up, decorations complete, Christmas shopping done, there’s snow on the ground, and as an added bonus, there’s actually a pay day coming up at the end of the week, so things aren’t really all that bad. I’m just having a tough time adjusting my brain to get into ‘celebration mode’ as opposed to ‘survival mode.’

Perhaps some Creme de Minthe will help.

The Darkest Night Shift I’ve Ever Worked

It is nine pm. The streets are oddly empty for a peak season weekend. It isn’t just here either. The whole county seems a bit more silent than usual. The radio only periodically cracks to life. It’s silent enough that I have twice checked it to make sure I haven’t accidentally changed channels again, or left the volume down low.
I am riding alone. In my little department we don’t ride with partners unless for training or special detail. The night shifts can often leave one alone with nothing but solitaire on the computer, or your own thoughts.

Tonight, it is the latter. A few hours ago I got a text from a friend working an agency to the south. “Two NYPD officers killed execution style while sitting in their patrol car.” A quick trip to the internet confirmed the tragic story. Apparently motivated to ‘avenge’ Michael Brown and Eric Garner, an individual walked up to a parked police car, and shot the two officers inside, killing them both. He then went to a subway platform and shot himself to death.

I cannot wrap my head around this. How is targeting someone for the uniform they wear or the job they do creating any sort of justice? How do these miscreants who wish and do ill towards the police not realize that they are making things WORSE I stead of better? Every cop working a C line tonight is going to be a little more wary, perhaps a little more nervous, potentially a lot more dangerous. Every cop in the nation that takes to the street tomorrow will be doing so with the thoughts fresh in their minds that there are some who would kill them where they stand or sit, with no provocation or warning.
…exactly how does this serve to lessen tensions? How does it make it safer for the masses when their police force is wired to the point of exhaustion?

That moron in NYC didnt just kill two of my brothers today, but he possibly killed some of his OWN as well, and perhaps created an indellible link in a terrible circle of pain, mistrust, and tragedy.

Just some thoughts from the road tonight

Groggy Return to the Day Job

I spent the last two weeks in additional training for the job I hope to make a full time career one day soon. I worked alongside old friends from my academy class, new friends from neighboring agencies, old drill instructors, fellow officers from my agency, and instructors who were treating me as an equal rather than a potential academy flunkie. It is amazing what happens when you graduate, start working, and become a member of ‘the club.’

Now, I’m back at the desk at the day job. My absence was filled by one of the other technicians who, in all honesty- is much better at this than I am, but things got ahead of him a bit anyway.

I’m nursing a 24oz cup of black coffee not only to jump start me, but to start easing my way into the Whole30 sentence diet.

The time away in training for the new job has, of course, clouded my return to the field that I’m trying to leave forever.

Also, just to stab me in the butt a little, and make the morning slightly more difficult, I’m also coming off of four hours of sleep after an ambulance call took me away from my nice, warm bed until 2am. This was a high-stress call too, since the person who called was what is called a ‘frequent flier’ and has, in the past, threatened EMS personnel. So, that was an adventure in the middle of the night.

When the alarm went off at 6:16am (I had trouble setting it in the dark) I seriously contemplated not coming in again today, and tried to do math in my head to see if the call-pay from the ambulance was enough to offset the loss from not going to the day job.

Since I am bad at math to begin with, and worse when I’m attempting to murder an alarm clock, I couldn’t add, so I’m here just to be on the safe side.

The upswing to the whole day, is that since it is a Friday before vacation, the general mood of the school is relaxed. The teachers are clock-watching as badly as the students are, so they’re not clamoring to exert themselves, which gives me a chance to catch up with open tickets.

…the plate of cookies left on the desk when I came in also helps.

Happy Friday readers, and thanks for sticking with me while I wandered off.

The Winter Concert

Last night, The Narrator had his K-6th grade winter concert at his school. The kids did an amazing job on all fronts, but the program as a whole felt forced. Now, before I begin, I have NO problem with diversity and social equality. Everyone SHOULD be treated the same, and nobody should be victimized for who they are, or what they believe.

When I was a kid, the school called it the “Christmas Concert.” I remember singing all manner of songs. Everything from the fun “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to the reverent “Silent Night.”

Now, the concert is called the “Winter Concert”…not even “Holiday” anymore. The songs were incredibly watered down tunes that you could tell were written to make sure nobody got offended. Again, the kids did a beautiful job with what they were given to work with, and they all looked so nice dressed up on the risers.

The playlist was short, the whole thing lasted about an hour, and it really was fun, but you could just TELL that the effort was being made to let the kids have their concert, but make sure that nobody got their feelings hurt. A tiny, white-bread town in the mountains of NY had an entirely white 5th and 6th grade sing a song about Kwanzaa. Again- NO problem with Kwanzaa, or those that celebrate it, but the tune just seemed to be thrown in there as if the school was saying “See? See? We included everyone!”

The reason I mention all of this, is to demonstrate a shift since ‘back in my day.’

I remember one year, (Same school by the way) we were set to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” It was going to be the finale I think. The school almost yanked the song from the program because of the line “Imagine there’s no heaven.” People had called the school incredibly enraged about that. I distinctly remember my mother, who raised us Catholic, telling me when I asked why there was such an uproar “I don’t really know. Its just a song. Sing it.” So I did, but I THINK I remember them cutting that line out, just to appease the cranky.

Remove religious references, people are angry. Include religious references, people are angry. The schools, or really any public entity- simply cannot win, so they’re forced into a watered-down concert that felt less like a holiday celebration where the kids’ talents and hard work could be recognized, and more of a “Everyone get in here and see how PC we are” event. Those concerts back in my day were massive affairs, held on a Friday night because it would run late. There were refreshments afterwards, and everyone had a great time, even the kids, nervous though we were when it came time to perform.

Now it’s a 1 hour program in the middle of the week with each group of kids singing two songs, a couple of band performances, the finale, then BAM…outta there, almost as if we were rushed out before someone had a chance to be offended at even the mild content of the music that was showcased.

My BIGGEST complaint though, had nothing to do with the school or the music, but my fellow audience members. Apparently the request to “Please turn off your cell phones and electronic devices” applied only to me, because as soon as the first note was played….out came the phones. And one guy in front of me was merrily taking video with his iPad.

….and we wonder why our kids can’t follow directions? Probably because we as parents refuse to follow them ourselves half the time, and as anyone with children can tell you…Monkey see….Monkey do.

I’ll be back this weekend. Training is nearly over, and I have a job interview tomorrow, so I’ll be back to the regular grind….just in time for the Christmas break.