Month: August 2007

Frighteningly Validating

Posted on


I’m not sure how I found it, but there is a series of Web sites where one can anonymously post “confessions” about things. There’s one for moms (http://www.truemomconfessions.com/), one for dads (http://www.truedadconfessions.com/), one for people who toil in an office environment (http://www.trueofficeconfessions.com/) and for whatever reason, there’s one for tree huggers (http://www.truegreenconfessions.com/).

Now before you jump over and check them out, let me warn you: THEY ARE ADDICTIVE.

One might immediately read about these sites and think to oneself, “Well, that’s nothing but a way for mental voyeurs to get off,” but in reality, the idea is genius, and of course as a reader, it’s interesting to see if other people are thinking the same things you are thinking.

But there is a dark side to confessing one’s secrets…sometimes your worst fear is realized–that you are alone in your situation. Sometimes when you post, such as the guy who wrote, “Dear Daughter, I’m sorry I ever hurt you,” other people are either too ashamed to publicly empathize (by clicking the “me too” button) or they want to distance themselves from such an obvious confession that they pretend not to see it at all.

Overall, the dad’s confessions are pretty obvious–not enough sex, tired of paying child support, I want to have non-missionary style sex, etc.–so for me, the mom’s confessions are the real cream of the crop.

Primarily, you have SAHM (stay-at-home-moms) complaining about how much their kids drive them nuts or how much they hate their husbands. Some days the vitriole is really almost too much. I don’t know how far reaching this site is (I have seen posts with decidedly British language used), but a college student looking for thesis fodder would be in hog’s heaven as you get women from all walks of life socially, physically and mentally. Among the daily confessions, one can find women with eating disorders and (lots of) women having affairs. There are also lots of women who have had it up to here with being home all the time and years of jealousy and anger towards their families has built to extreme levels.

But while most of the confessions would tend to leave this writer saying something like, “Put down the prozac or bottle of wine; get off your ass and get a job,” every now and then a true gem of honesty comes out…

I miss the passion in my marriage.

In such a simple, yet touching confession, so much is expressed. It is these confessions that I admit may have changed my life. We are all guilty of “the rut.” You know what the rut is right? It’s doing the same thing over and over and over until it’s ingrained in your day-to-day to the point that you don’t see anything else. You don’t see that while you’re very helpful around the house, maybe you could hug your family more. You don’t see that even though your job sucks the life from you every day, your spouse is going through the same thing and needs someone to talk to about it. And perhaps…just perhaps you see that maybe you should spend a little more quality time with someone in your family even if it means not going to bed at a decent hour.

For these things I would like to thank all of the miserable women who have posted on TrueConfessions.com. Whether their husbands ever read their fantasies, dreams and desires; this one did and I am eternally grateful.

"Oh pointy bird, Oh pointy, pointy bird" and other memorable quotes

Posted on

I’m not sure what I miss most about the pre-children days. Is it the financial freedom that comes from not paying $1,600 per month for childcare? Is it the independence to just get up at random times throughout the day and go do something without having to pack for an entire flotilla of people and possible potty scenarios? Perhaps it’s the sleeping in on the weekend rather than the “up at 5:30 a.m.” scene we have going on every morning now with the baby (I’m trying to train him to go back to sleep, but when you walk in his room, he looks over at you and cracks up, it’s hard to just walk away). There are so many things that I miss that I’m just not sure.

But you know when you’re in the middle of something, that thing right there is always the worst “thing” or the most exciting “moment?” Well, that’s how it is with me and movies right now.

Before our second child, I had joined NetFlix. If you’re not familiar, it’s an online movie ordering system and for various price levels, you can rent a certain number of movies each month. The differentiator used to be that you kept them as long as you want…but of course you’re still paying a monthly fee (I pay around $15 p/month and I can have out 3 movies at a time) so it behooves you to return them for your next batch. I say that used to be the differentiator only because BlockBuster and others now offer similar programs, but I’m avidly anti-Blockbuster and Hollywood video because both of them employ low-paid teeanagers who apparently cannot scan in a movie correctly and for some strange reason, their corporate execs tend to believe their highly churned, low-paid workers over a long-time customer when it comes to figuring out what the hell happened to “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Like I’d want to keep that movie???

Anyway, I suspended my NetFlix account after our second baby was born because I rightfully figured I wouldn’t have time for movies. But then I started it back up a month ago because I suddenly had this hour of time from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. –the time between when we normally have all the kids in bed and the time I know I have to turn the lights off so I can mentally and physically be prepared to wake up multiple times in the night AND still function like a normal person at work the next day.

Finally, I got a movie in that I’d really been wanting to see, “Smokin’ Aces.” It’s a 100% shoot-em-up guy movie and figuring I’d be able to get in a good bit of it last night, I threw on the headphones and kicked back. Unfortunately, my wife decided to hold off on her shower tonight (cuz going to the gym in the a.m.) and was sending out “the vibe.” You know what I’m talking about–the vibe–don’t pretend like you don’t. So, I dutifully turned off the movie and gave my relationship the attention it deserves. Of course, by the time we were both ready for bed, it was 9:54 p.m. and I have to assume I’ll be getting up at least once in the night AND again at 5:30 a.m. so I turned the lights off and went to bed.

On the upside, I was right and I did have to get up at 5:30, so at least I made the right decision in that regard.

But that got me to thinking…movies. Man, what I wouldn’t give for a full day of doing nothing but catching up on movies that I’ve missed. Spider Man 3, Transformers, Smokin’ Aces even. This 1-hour I sometimes have can’t be counted on and there are few entertainment annoyances worse than having to stop and start a good movie. Especially when you think there’s a twist in the movie that you’ve somehow missed.

I don’t know…this too will pass I suppose. Maybe I’ll have to take a vacation day and force myself not to do work around the house and instead, load up on good movies I’ve missed–sans family! It’s sounding better by the moment!

I Shoot em up, I Shoot em down, I Shoot the Lost, I Shoot the Foooound

Posted on

Santa Claus: How about a nice football?
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Football? Football? What’s a football? With unconscious will my voice squeaked out ‘football’.
Santa Claus: Okay, get him out of here.
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] A football? Oh no, what was I doing? Wake up, Stupid! Wake up!
Ralphie: [Ralphie is shoved down the slide, but he stops himself and climbs back up] No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
Santa Claus: You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.(A Christmas Story)

…sigh.

My adopted parents divorced when I was about 5 years old and for years afterwards, my brother and I spent the occasional weekend with my adopted mom at her place. Usually it was a dinky house on Dauphin Island, but every once in a while it was wherever her boyfriend (now husband) was working a contract job—New York, California—wherever.

One of the ways she would ensure that we wanted to come was by taking us to the toy store and telling us we could get one thing we wanted (within a spending limit of course). Being a young boy, there were tons of things I wanted, but one particular year, I wanted a BB gun. Thinking back, I can’t remember if I’d asked for one at home or not, so I don’t know if my dad had already put the kebosh on the idea, but by golly, she said I could have whatever I wanted, and that’s what I wanted.

As it turns out, my dad was none too happy, but not for the reason you might think. It wasn’t that he was against guns. No, in fact, he’d shown me how to shoot a .22 rifle and single barrel 12-gauge shotgun by the time I was ten. The reason he was so mad at my “mom” was because he felt that giving a young boy his first gun was a dad’s job and he was mad at her for usurping what he felt was a rite of passage. Even at such a young age, that made sense to me, but you know what? I didn’t care. I had my BB gun and frankly, I didn’t care who gave it to me. With two boys of my own, I understand his disappointment now and I feel bad that he was deprived of that responsibility.

With my BB gun I did the usual things a boy does with a gun, some cruel, but mostly I just shot at stuff. The aim on those guns is so poor anyway that most animals had a pretty fair chance at avoiding a “sting” from one of my little copper spheres of death. But the point is, that as an adult, I don’t own a gun now (but not because I fear them). I’m not scarred for life by having held a weapon as a child, nor do I suffer from nightmares stemming from hours upon hours of playing shoot-em-up in the dirt field across the way from our house. Upon that field, I’ve died a thousand childhood deaths as an indian, a cowboy, a good/bad guy from Star Wars, you name it.

So it is with great inner turmoil that I address this idea of playing guns with my 3-year old. There’s a little boy in my son’s daycare class whose dad is a soldier. As with most parents, their lives reflect their livelihood and so it is with this young boy. Right or wrong, this child has learned all kinds of war-like behavior and consequently all the other sponges in his class have picked it up too. And it’s not just a matter of going around “shooting” anything that moves and making those “pcuuuushh” noise that simulates gun firing; no, the boy apparently has a firm grasp on what it means to “kill” something. It is this, more than anything that strikes fear into my wife (moreso than me).

Just as I don’t understand how playing with dolls is a normal part of growing up for girls, my wife doesn’t understand about guns. For her, playing cops and robbers, or shooting the dogs with his pretend gun-hand is akin to sneaking into their room at night and slitting their throats. For her, there is no line between playing and reality and so she has put her foot down about playing guns.

You can see my dilemma right? I get it…this world today isn’t the same world it was 25 years ago when we were kids. Even taking a toy gun to school these days will land a kid in juvey and heaven forbid he says—even jokingly—to another boy, “I’m going to kill you.”

Just as I don’t think my son would understand a frank talk about guns and their dangers to society, I also don’t think that what he’s doing now is going to have any long-lasting effect. And where do you draw the line? Do you just tell your child that playing guns or knives is bad, or do you say, “No Timmy, you can’t play wrestling, boxing, good-guy/bad-guy…nothing.”

Violence is part of a boy’s growing up. It’s how pecking orders are established and by golly, my son will grow up knowing how to take care of himself, whether that be teaching him a few karate moves or showing him how to shoot a gun when he’s older in case the world is hit by a meteorite and we revert back to the iron-age and he must protect his family.

But for now, I’ll hold my tongue, or at least try and moderate his behavior. But deep down, I really don’t see the problem. He’s three…let him play.

There goes Santa Claus, there goes Santa Claus…

Posted on

I took last Friday off to stay at home and pull old yucky wallpaper off as many rooms as I could get done in one day. I managed to remove the wallpaper in our main master bathroom common area and one of the sink/commode areas in the boys’ jack-n-jill bathroom setup. I also got a skimcoat on both to fix those massive gouges I put with my scraper and to replace any sheetrock paper that came off with the wallpaper.

An interesting note: where the steam from years and years of showering has reached the wallpaper, the wallpaper is much more resistant to removal efforts. It took me nearly as long to do the boys’ bathroom tiny area as it did to do the master bathroom area which is 5 times as large. Darn steam!

Anyway, now instead of mind-numbingly unnatractive wallpaper in our bathroom area, we have mind-numbingly stark white walls with no paint on them. And the real question is, how long is it going to take me to finish it all?
Which brings me to my blog topic for today. We’re not talking about just schlepping some paint up on the wall and calling it a day. Nossir! We’re talking about a full-scale, all-out assault on redecorating, which means:

  • new light fixtures (2)
  • new fan
  • new towel rack (beause OMG what was she thinking buying that crappy silver towel rack at Target that shows the four honking screws in the front and doesn’t match our gold fixtures? I swear sometimes that I should have been a homosexual since I have much better decorating taste (and sense) compared to many of the women I know)
  • new paint for wall
  • new trim paint
    and of course…
  • new linens and such

All this adds up to mucho $$$ and even more time that I don’t generally have. And with fall coming up (anyday now…hello?) I’ll want to be outside, not cooped up inside.

But what’s really bringing me down is my wife’s idea to pay for all this; “Seriously honey, this can be my Christmas present; I don’t really need anything.” And before I knew what I was saying, I responded with, “Mine too!”

Wait! What? Did I just say that out loud? What the F*? No, I don’t want my Christmas to consist of pretty red towels and hours upon hours of electrical work trying to figure out an outdated wiring code. I want clothes and…stuff!

So I’m kinda bummed about that. I mean, we did set ourselves a small gift limit to spend on each other so we will still be getting each other something, but still… What this at least does is free up money in my Christmas savings account to put directly towards the project. Hey, now we can afford the fan! Only 10 more things on the list to go!

Trick or Treat!

Posted on

I read…a lot. I have two 7.5′ tall bookcases filled with books. And on most of those shelves, the books are stacked two rows deep and sometimes rows on top of rows. Mostly I read paperbacks, in large part due to the fact that as much as I read, if I were to purchase hardcovers, I would quickly go broke. As it is, at $7.99 a pop for a paperback, I spend way more than I should.

As such, I’m always looking for a bargain and my local Barnes and Noble offers several islands of “bargain priced” books from which to choose. They have the cooking island and the historical island. They have the do-it-yourself island and the artsy island. But they also have the non-fiction island where a decent bargain can sometimes be found. It is from this pile o’ books that I recently picked up a copy of Paul Auster’s book “Oracle Night.”

I mostly read science fiction and fantasy themed books, so cover art is usually a huge draw in the kinds of books I ultimately pick. But this book by Auster has a simple blue cover, with a very small graphic on the front. Perhaps it was this simplicity that drew me to it:
(the arrow here is an artifact from where I cut it off Amazon.com)

Now, one could logically deduce that if a book is on the bargain-priced chopping block, that it perhaps didn’t sell well. So, I’m naturally suspicious about the quality of the book. I quickly read the inside cover to make sure it would be something I might be interested in–which it was–and then I flipped if over and read the back where there were several glowing reviews. These reviews sounded believable; not just the “…a fabulous tour de force” variety you often get, so I went ahead and purchased it for $4.98. Not a HUGE bargain, but still cheaper than a paperback.

These days I don’t get huge blocks of time to read a book, so I have to catch a page or two where I can: eating breakfast, lying in bed at night, the…um…throneroom. Wherever. Yesterday as I’m fondling the book, I flip it over and look more closely at the back of the book and I notice the following:

A bit confused, I flip the book over to re-familiarize myself with the title and sure enough, the title of this book is “Oracle Night” and notThe Book of Illusions” as illustrated here. Even the reviews listed on the back (which helped influence my purchase) were for “The Book of Illusions.”
I immediately felt outraged, ripped off, sullied! What a nasty trick! I bet the publisher put this new cover on the book after it failed to sell in hopes that cheap sucker-bastards like myself would pick it up and take it home. And it worked!
But ya know what? “Trick me once…shame on me. Trick me twice…shame on you.” (actual quote modified for mine own purposes)
I’ll take the blame for this one, but let this be a lesson for all of my three readers! Bargain-priced books…BUYER BEWARE!

Childhood Innocence

Posted on

Thanks to the heat, we here in the South have been forced indoors in the afternoons. It’s too hot to ride bikes; it’s too hot to play ball; heck, it’s even too hot to go swimming in the pool! What’s a family of four to do?

Luckily, there are still some games around geared towards the young-ones. Interestingly, they are the same games we adults loved as a child–Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho! Cherry-O. All classics and all pretty much the only games on the market for the “under 5” crowd.

Obviously we don’t still have our childhood boardgames lying around so we went off to our friendly neighborhood Target and purchased a few games to while away those long hot summer afternoon. As it turns out, Candyland has become my three year olds favorite game; so much so in fact that while the board itself is still in fine shape, the flimsy cards have become so over-handled that I can’t even put a proper poker shuffle on them anymore.

The funny thing about this game though, is how it’s evolved over the years. Take note:

Notice how in the old version of candyland, the two kids are whitebread, blond crackers and in the new, politically correct version, we have a cross-sample representation of ethnicities and genders.

Why am I not surprised?

But anyway, my son loves this game, but more importantly, he loves to WIN! We’ve been very careful to explain to him that the game is random and anyone can win at any time, to which he responds, “But you can’t win everyday.” The truth is however, that by hook or by crook, he seems to win more than anyone, but it’s never enough. Should you get up from the game to go stir the pot of soup, or to put fallen baby back up in a sitting position, he will sneakily look through the stack of cards for either the “lollipop” or “ice cream” cards, which move one near the end of the game and close to winning. Another of his tactics is to skip a color. So, if he pulls a card with one red square, he’ll move two; if the card says two red squares, he’ll move three. He’s very sneaky.

We’ve tried to explain to him that this is cheating and I’m particularly careful to ensure that he follows the rules, but I will admit to “fixing” it on the rare occasion where we adults have consistently won a game or two just so he gets the satisfaction of winning. And of course he loves it. But he’s coming around to losing with grace. Generally it involves him saying, “Ok, let’s play again and I guess I’m gonna win.”

Now if we can only teach him how to be a graceful winner, rather than cackling like a crow who just found a new shiny object, we’ll be in business.

It’s like a HEAT WAVE…oh yeah!

Posted on

Have I mentioned lately that I’m ready for autumn weather? Well I am. Here’s why:

It’s the middle of August, which according to “averages” should be a wee-bit cooler than July here in Atlanta. Not so though! We are well above average AND in the middle of a drought. I enjoy summer, that is, until it turns perpetually 90 degrees-plus for weeks on end and then I’m just over it and ready to move on. But I love early summer when the plants I planted the year before burst out of the ground and we finally get some color. I love the first few trips to the pool, or the first (and usually only) trip to the beach. All very well and good, but all also very temporary.
About halfway through summer my mood always turns pessimistic. It’s not like I’m not getting enough Vitamin E, because I certainly am. So I started thinking about this mid-summer crisis and I came up with a few possible reasons for why I feel like I do:
  • It’s too hot to get out and DO anything. This means that I’m inevitably stuck inside the house, or other similarly A/C’d place and I can’t work off my energy.
  • Same for the kids. Even though they are at daycare all day, if they don’t get outside and exercise, they are little hurricanes when they come home at night. And this only leads to more “No, stop that!” and “Would you please stop talking for 5 minutes?” Generally things that make you feel like a bad parent later when you stop and think about it.
  • Summer makes you do things you wouldn’t normally have to do, which takes time away from things you want to do. For instance, watering outdoor plants. When I have to do it, it takes me almost an hour and a half to do it. An hour and a half when you have children, is like an eternity of free time just down the tubes. And sure, watering is easy and it’s quiet, but you still sweat just standing there, so it’s not fun.
  • I also enjoy a nice walk after dinner to work off my compulsive eating disorder (it’s all in my head) and you can’t do that when it’s so hot.
  • It’s too hot to play golf or even hit balls…my one hobby
  • I’m tired of my summer wardrobe

And I think the weatherpeople around here are co-conspirators in that they keep tweaking the long range forecast. See, they start off by showing that it’s gonna be really hot for three days, then they show a cooling trend. But then if you look at it the next day, it shows the same thing, just advanced one day. And the same happens the next day and the next day. It’s like they know that people are looking to their long range forecast for just a little ray of hope–something to look forward to–and they don’t want to ruin it by bald-faced admitting, “Yeah it’s gonna be 98 degrees for the forseeable future. Sorry.”

Anyway, I’m taking off this Friday despite it still being 94 degrees, but that just forces me to stay home and start pulling off that wallpaper rather than going and playing golf 😦 But you watch, one of the children will probably end up getting sick and instead of having a productive day off, it’ll be Daddy Daycare with yours truly as the teacher, teacher’s assistant, cleaning crew and chef.

Really…I don’t ask for much…just some cool nights outside on my back porch listening to Audio Visions with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in my hand. Is that too much to ask? Is that so wrong?