Monday, September 10, 2012

When the World Stopped

 It has taken me a year to write this.  I tried to finish it last year.
I just couldn't put it into words.

With the anniversary of one of the most tragic days in America's history on Tuesday, people are asking the same question.
Where were you on September 11th, 2001?

I am sure not many people forget where they are when bad news comes to them.
Whether it is of personal, or National importance.

I myself know where I was when the Space Shuttle exploded.  I was at school. 6th grade.
I also know where I was when we got the call that my father-in-law had passed. I was about to leave work.
I got the call from my wife, and ran out. Then drove like mad to be home with her.
But this is about a different day.

Here is my story.
It was a normal day just like every other.  Well, almost like any other.
My wife was seven months along with our first child.
We were excited, and scared.  And I had a list to do a mile long.
I had gotten up early that day to get my driver's license renewed.
It was my birthday. I turned 28 on that day.

I mistakenly thought the DMV opened earlier than it did.  So I had to wait for them to open to get the license.
I found a payphone and called work to tell them I would be a little late.
It didn't take long.  I was one of the first in line.
After getting my license, I decided I would stop by home and take care of nature's business.
While driving home, I heard on the radio that a plane had hit a building.  I turned up the volume and listened.
After getting home, I turned on the tv and watched.
Smoke was pouring out of the tower.  Going up into the blue sky.
The newscasters were still trying to come to grips with the reports pouring in.

Then the second plane hit.
Debris was falling.  You could see smoke and fire pouring out of the hole in the building.
People were running for cover.  Emergency vehicles were all headed towards the twin towers.
I had to get to work.
I listened to the radio all the way there.

After arriving at work, I was called into the supervisor's office.
Given a scolding for getting my license before work and not on my lunch hour.
Because I was using her time to get it and not mine.
I didn't even try to explain that it would have taken me a half hour to drive to the DMV.
An hour to wait with everyone else for my turn.
And then another half hour to drive back.  Which would have taken more time than just doing it in the morning.
I was then sent back to my desk.
Didn't we have bigger concerns that day?

I worked in a call center then.  We called current customers to get their orders for that week.
Not many people I talked to were very happy that day.
I could hear a television in the background of many of the calls.
We even had one at the end of our hall that day.
When we could, we would walk down and watch for a few minutes if we had time.

I saw the towers fall.
I saw the clouds of dust and rubble roll down the streets.
The cameras captured the horror and screams as buildings and people came crashing to the ground.
They captured the last glimpse of heroes as they rushed into hell.
And the sorrow of their brothers when they didn't come out.
The rest of the day is a blur.

In the days that followed, there were stories.
Of the people who fought back against their oppressors to save more lives.  Even knowing they may not survive.
The ones who got out last.  The ones who would never get out.
Messages left on machines that will never be erased.
A "goodbye.  I will miss you.  I love you".  From loved ones never to be seen again.

People who saw friends fall.  As they stepped out windows that were never made to open.
And the saviors.  Who carried others who couldn't carry themselves.
Rescue workers, looking for any sign of life.  Any sign of hope, that anyone could be there.

And the flag.  Hoisted from the rubble to pull our country together.
The symbol of the very thing that people tried to destroy that day.

It is a day of tragedy and a day of life.
September 11th.   Remember everyone this day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Last Day

This was it.  My last day as a "Full-Time" Stay-at-Home Dad.
I relaxed in bed for awhile after waking up.

Then realized that I had a neighbor child on her way to spend the day with us.
I had to get up.  Feed the cat and kids.

Then I retreated to the bedroom with my laptop, a cold soda, a bowl of cereal, and my head phones.
It's my time.
As I kept an ear out for the usual sounds of the kids playing, I surfed the net.
Then watched a movie. "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"
A good "retro" film to watch on a slightly rainy day.

The kids got lunch and then wanted candy.
I came out and got my own lunch.  A sandwich made of the brisket I baked last week.
Went back to my room and munched.
Came out and gave everyone some candy.  Then again retreated to my room for some quiet.

After awhile, I realized that it was time to load them up for an adventure.
Not much.  Just a haircut for me and Monkey.
We went to the same place I have been going for the last 35 years.  An actual barber shop.
Pole outside and everything.
The carpet has been redone, but that's about it.
Still the same penny-operated gumball machine in the corner.

Got home before the wife and finished the movie.
Then loaded everyone up and went to the "Back to School Night" at, well, school.
Talked to our kid's teachers and dropped the ton of supplies off in the rooms.
Decided to eat at McDonald's after.  Much easier than cooking.

After getting home and doing the dishes from the previous two nights.  Ha ha.  Think I'm kidding?
I took this opportunity to leave and see the new "Total Recall" movie.
A nice movie and great effects in it.

Now after lounging around and watching about 3 hours of "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel, I am going to bed.  Not even close to being ready for the first day of school.
I will have to console my wife.
Her "baby" is starting school.

I have the kleenex

Thursday, June 28, 2012


My daughter has a guardian at night.
This thing goes into her room and watches.  Stays by her side and protects her.

You don't dare go into the room.  You don't know what it will do.
It's eyes glow in the dark.  My daughter sleeps. Unaware that right next to her is a monster.
Watching over her.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Etiquette at the Drive-In

What is Etiquette?  This is how you behave in certain situations.
Your table manners are etiquette.  Speaking with people requires etiquette.
How you behave in a group or social setting is.... say it with me...Etiquette.

This is an example of how etiquette was not observed.

Our group of SAHDs went to a drive-in movie.
The new Pixar movie BRAVE had just come out.
And the double feature movie was The Avengers!
We brought the whole family.  Moms also.

The Warden, kids and I arrived just after 8pm.
Which means we had an hour until sunset and the movie was to start.
We pulled in line next to Hossman and family, and a few KCDADs.
Then more of the KCDADS joined us.
Our group took up almost half a row!

We watched BRAVE and the little short that Pixar put before the movie.
We all loved it.  The characters and scenery were awesome.
Yes.  I know it's animated.  Doesn't mean I have to like it any less.

After the first movie, a lot of the kids were tired.  And well they should be.
After all, it was 10:30pm!  A few of the parents were tired too.  With getting up early to take care of the kids, anyone would be.
Hossman and family followed almost all of our little group out.
The only ones to stay moved their car closer to us.  It was a better view anyway.

Then just before the next movie started, a car pulled up on the other side of us.
No big deal.  I waited for them to turn off their engine and wait for the movie to start.
They didn't.
I figured they were just pausing to hit the restroom before leaving.
Nobody got out.

I don't know about you.  But I go to a drive-in to hear the movie.  Not the car next to us.
So I walked up to the driver's side window (tinted) and tapped on the glass.
A young lady rolled it down and I politely asked her to turn her engine off.
The man in the passenger seat leaned over and looked at me.
knowing they had both heard me, I walked back to my van.

I stood outside the back hatch of the van and listened.  I listened for the music over the speakers.
I listened for the cars racing by on the highway just beyond the trees.
I listened to just how much I could hear the car in the stall next to us.
While I stood there, I noticed that the breeze from the south, would blow the heat from the engine over to us.  I could smell the exhaust from the car.

The Warden had taken our daughter to the restroom.
The dad that stayed had taken his son.
So there I am with Monkey and someone else's wife and child.
I decided to try one more time.  I walked over to the car and again, knocked politely on the window.
I saw the light go on inside and watched the man get out his door and shut it.
I asked again for them to turn off the car.  I told him about the heat off the engine.  The exhaust blowing our way.

He said the car was quiet.  I told him I could still hear it.  I wanted to hear the movie.  Not their car.
He told me to go the F*&# back to my van.  I asked him to be polite and turn the car off.
He said he was polite.  I informed him that being polite does not involve cussing.
He told me to leave if I knew what was good for me.
I said there were other spots to park, we were here first. If you wanted Air-conditioning, go to a theater, not a drive-in.
I walked back to my van.

After The Warden and Princess got back from the restroom, I went inside the concession stand to get a soda.  I asked a person who worked there if they had a policy about turning the engine off during a movie.
He said he didn't know and walked over to one of the older workers.
After I bought my soda, I looked at the worker.  All I needed was a "Yes we can do something", or a "No, not unless they are really disruptive".
The worker walked with me to the exit.  He said he would "Look into it."
He followed me out to my car.  I told him I was in the silver van and the car next to us was the one running.
He walked out to the car, which was still running and asked me, "Is it this car?" (a real genius here)

He walked over to the driver's window and talked to them.  I heard laughing.  Not a good sign for me.
He walked back over to me and said that the couple wasn't being disruptive and there was nothing he could do.
We stayed for about an hour.  Then The Warden said her asthma was acting up and we would have to leave.  The Princess was done too.  Monkey wanted to stay and watch.  So did I.
So we packed up the chairs and food.  Climbed in the car.  And listened to the movie for the first mile down the road.
After we got home, The Warden said she wished I wouldn't do things like that.  I might get shot.
I figure if I get shot over something like that, the other guy is an idiot.

So tell me.  Am I being unreasonable?  Should I have not asked the people in the car to turn their engine off?
They can run the A/C without the engine, right?
I am sure I left out parts to this story.  But the point is the same.

Have some manners.  Use etiquette.

And don't be an ass.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Now we all know what texture is.  We learned about it in school.
But just to refresh, texture is the way something feels.  Rough, smooth, coarse, slimy, etc...

Now, the other day I made a Cheesecake.  This is something I do about once a year.  The reason only once?  Because I would eat it all myself and then couldn't roll out my door.
That night I had my Dad over for dinner.  Burgers and chips.  Not a big deal.

Now my Dad has had the Cheesecake before.  My Mom used to make it on her birthday.
But since my parents divorced when I was about 6, I was not sure when the last time he had a piece of this Cheesecake.  So I offered him a slice.

Now for those who bake cheesecake know, you have to let it cool for about 6 hours after baking for everything to stiffen up. Go back to acting like a cheesecake.  Not the batter that made it.
If it gets too warm, it gets mushy like Cream Cheese you leave out too long.

I cut a few pieces because Monkey decided he wanted some.
The middle was a little mushy.  Not bad.  Just mushy.
I apologized for it since the cheesecake had only been resting in the fridge for about 4 hours.
My Dad made the comment "That's okay.  I like the texture."

At this point Monkey said: "Yes, I like the texture a lot.  It's a very good texture."
I could not stop laughing.  Here is a 5yr old commenting on the texture of food.
My Dad laughed.  And asked Monkey about the texture again.
This became a running joke all night.

Kids are great.  They love to be part of what's going on around them.
Even if they don't understand the texture of things.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Long?

I have been blogging for 3 years now!
Can you believe it?

Of course nobody cares what I have to say.
Nobody reads this anyway.

I go about my day without something to say.
And when I type, I try not to play.

I have some fun before I sleep.
I try and not get too deep.

Here's a poem that slightly rhymes.
Not sure I can do this too many times.

I'm getting tired, should head to bed.
I must make sure the cats are fed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Purpose of Things.

What is the purpose of things?
Why so we do some things and not others?
Why do some things cost a lot and others not cost much at all?

Average cost of things in my city. (some guessing is involved)
Gas: $3.60
Loaf of bread: $2.80
20oz bottle of soda: $1.35
2 liter bottle of same soda: 4/$3.00

Some items use a special ingredient that cost a lot to make.
Some items are popular, therefore companies raise prices to make more money.
Some groups take money for those less fortunate.  How much do they actually give to those people?
Ok. I will stop right there before I start to get into a different argument.

To start off, I am a member of the PTA Board at my daughter's school.
I have been in charge of the fund raisers we hold every year.
We have done Skating parties.  A night at Chuck E. Cheese's.  Cookie dough sales. Coupon books. And the most popular one by far has been a school carnival.  We had to kick the kids off the inflatable slide so we could turn it off!
Even a Holiday Shop where the kids can come in and buy inexpensive presents for their families in early December.  Some of these things bring in a lot of money.(Carnival)
But some just bring in a little bit. (Chuck E. Cheese)
They are more fun for the kids than a real Fundraiser.

Since I have been in charge of a lot of the events, I have gone to all of the classrooms to hand out fliers.  Most of the kids know who my daughter is.  And since My youngest is home with me, they know him too.
I know many of the kid's faces if not names. And all of the teachers know who I am.
I enjoy being a role model for the kids there.  I go and help out when they need me to.
I have done everything from popping popcorn during events, to being Mickey Mouse in a school production.  These things are all just fine.  I have no problem with any of them.

Here is my issue.
If we have a function at the school where we are going to sell food, how much do you charge?
I go to any fast food restaurant, a combo meal is about $6 for a Grande Mic with cheese, side of fries and a large soda.
And this is much simpler than that.
This is a hot dog, small bag of chips, and a generic soda. Maybe a cookie on the side.
I would say maybe $2 for everything.
Others would say $4.
Which one is right?

I guess the question is how much do you want to make?
Just enough to cover cost?  Charge a little.
Big event that you need to pay for?  Charge more.

There is a cost that can cover everything.  Decide which one is best.
Just know this.  People remember.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Am I Doing This Right?

As with everything you do in life.  Whether it be a new job, a new relationship, buying a car, buying a house, etc...  The thought runs through your head.  "Am I doing this right?"

Your first job. You want to do well, so that you don't have to go home and tell your parents that you got fired.
A girl.  Do you really want to go back to your friends and tell them you got dumped because you did something stupid?
A car.  Make sure it's cool enough to drive and won't break down all the time.
A house.  Do you really want to move back in with your parents?  With your kids?

A child is the same way.  But a hundred times more pressure.  This will be your ambassador to the world.  The way you raise them will reflect on you for many years to come.  If they become an important person, or end up in jail for years.  At some point, the praise, or blame will fall on you.

This happened a few years ago.  Just before Monkey came along.
Princess was only five.
I have been staying home with her since day one.  We had been going out and having little adventures.
We see some sights and window shop.  Everything was going fine.

But as a dad, staying home with a little girl, I always wondered....  Am I doing this right?
Play with her.  Feed her.  Changer her diapers.
Praise her.  Scold her.  Help her. Watch her.
Every little thing that goes into making her what she is, I am helping with.
But....  Am I doing this right?

So one day we went with my Mom, Step-dad, and our little family to Powell Gardens.
It is a nice place.  There are paths to walk.  Flowers and plants to see.  A Nice place to enjoy yourselves and have some fun with the family.

On this summer's day, Powell Gardens had a giant bug exhibit.  Now these are giant statues of bugs.
Ants, praying mantis, ladybugs, and other things. All made out of natural materials.  Sticks, stones, leaves.

As we are heading down a slightly steep hill, I noticed that Princess had slowed down a little to keep her balance.  As I waited for her to catch up, I saw a little girl of about two or three walk down the hill.
This little girl got going too fast and her feet couldn't keep up.  She ended up falling on her bottom a few feet away from Princess.  My little girl stopped.  Walked over to where this little girl was and helped her up.  Then asked her if she was okay.

This has been one of my proudest moments.  I didn't need anyone else to tell me.
In that moment.  I knew that I was Doing This Right.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Needing Direction

I am sitting here at midnight.  Just finished watching the latest NCIS on the DVR.  Had the TV on the SyFy channel and caught the last couple minutes of the movie "9".
Very thought provoking movie set in a post-war future/past.

I was bored. Flipping through the channels to see what else is on, when a thought passed my mind.
I am tired of life.
Now don't get me wrong.  I don't want to die.  Scares the crap out of me.  Just the thought that one day, I will cease to be a part of this body and go.... somewhere else.  It really keeps me up at night and gives me the shakes.

I mulled that thought over in my head.   I am tired of life.  Do I mean living?
Yes, actually.  Part of me means just that.  End it.  Skip the rest and find out what's on the other side.  Read the last page first.  The bad part of that is that I can't go back and read the rest of the story that would have been.

This is not something that I want to do.  And it scares the hell out of me that I thought it.
So this is my therapy.  I am telling you what I can't tell my wife.  Or that I can't seem to get my wife to understand from what I have told her.

I am tired of life.  Is it my life I am tired of?
Now that hit a chord.
I am tired of doing the things I do.  Day in and day out.  Not, that is to say that I do much.  I watch TV.
I play with my son.  I go up to my daughter's school and help out.  I play video games.  I read a book.
But am I doing everything I can?  Everything I could, or should do?

I have projects backing up around the house.  Paint.  Move boxes.  Clean the garage out.  Do something with the yard.
Then there are other things that I have tried to do, but need my wife's input on something.  So I can't decide on anything without consulting her.  And trying to get her to make a decision where spending money is involved takes a lot more time than I have most days.

My Life.  I am tired of the yelling.  My wife yells at me to do something.  She could have just asked.
And I don't mean the yelling where I have let it slide for too long and now it's a mess.
I mean that I didn't even know there was a problem and she is saying that I am an idiot for letting it happen.

Now I am not saying that I don't deserve some of the yelling.  Or maybe even most of it.
But the tone she uses is one she would use for the kids.  Or the dog.
And sometimes I am a big kid.  I can admit it.
I am not saying that me feeling this way is all her fault.

I have thought about running away.  Go to another state.  Find a city where I don't know anyone.
Rent an apartment and get a job.  Hang out with some different people and explore a new life.
But that wouldn't work.  I am not a spy.  I can't create a new life without ties to the old one.
I would worry about the kids.  I would miss my wife.
I would probably last two months before I bounced a check. (Done it before. Not pretty.)
I will have to change the life I have.

But how do I change?  Can I change?  She has been trying to get me to change for 16 years.
And I still leave socks and underwear on the floor.

I need to do some thinking.  I need to look at things that I can work on.

I am tired of things in this life.   Remake a new one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wrong Way

I am doing some realizing.  Should we make getting a drivers license a little harder?

I know that part of the test is looking at pictures and telling what sign it is.
Shouldn't we also know what that sign means?

Yield:  Let other traffic go before you.
School Crossing:  Children crossing the street.  DO NOT HIT THEM!
Stop sign:  Stop Idiot
Detour:  Go around
No Left Turn:  Don't turn left.
No U Turn:  Don't turn around here.
Keep to the Right:  Go around the big concrete thing in the middle of the road.
No Parking:  Do you really want to get towed?

One Way:  ONLY Drive in the direction the arrow is pointing.

That last one is the one people seem to be confused on.
In the last two weeks, I have seen people go the wrong way in a school parking lot every day.
There are children crossing here.  The One Way sign is for their safety and yours.  There is not enough room to pass if you are going the wrong way in the middle of the road!
I have also seen this in the city.  Downtown to be exact.
A bright red convertible going down the wrong way down a busy street during lunchtime.
I am actually surprised that the big utility truck in the lane next to me moved.  I wouldn't have.

Try your luck.  Here is a website for the Driver's License street sign test.

Just to let you know.
I only missed one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Don't Want to Grow Up

I don't want to grow up.  That is the crux of what I am.
Then come the comments. "You have a job!" "You have kids!" "You're married!"
House, car, monthly payments! Yes! I agree! I am a Grown UP, an adult, over thirty, whatever you want to call it.

But I don't want to grow up!  I want to play with my kids like I am their age.
I want to have my video games and comic books. I want to watch that stupid movie with my friends.
I like sneaking out and watching TV until 2am.
Then I will see if I can sneak into bed without my wife waking up. (she catches me every time)
I want to laugh like I don't have a care in the world.

I don't want to be the guy, who at the end of his life said, "I wish I had done.....more."
I don't want to be the boring dad that the kids don't want around their friends.
I only want to embarrass the kids when I want to. Not just because I am there.
I want my kid's friends to be happy I am there.

I it a lot to ask?  Probably.  but here I am asking anyway.
I am getting older.  That is just a fact. Nothing I can do about it.
The other option is not one I really want to try right now. Or ever really.
But I am sure I can wait for as long as I need to. (The Reaper can wait)

I want to be a kid when my kids have kids.
I don't want to be the grandpa that the kids have to be careful around.
I want to run and play with them. Or at least not be left too far behind.

But I will always keep in mind the saying, "Young at heart"
But if you live by "You are only as young as you feel", then you can have some very crappy days even if you are 23.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Night Before

Here I am the night before.  Awake.

It's not that I probably can't go to sleep.  I am just not really wanting to.
I can't eat anything.  I can't drink anything.  It's after midnight.  I just really don't want to go to bed.

For those of you who don't know. (And I am sure that most of you don't.)
I am having minor surgery in the morning.
I seem to have damaged a nerve in my left arm.
And before you go jumping to conclusions, it is not "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome".
I looked it up. "CTS" is when the nerve that runs down the Radius bone, through the wrist and palm of your hand gets damaged.
You feel numbness and tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and thumb-side of ring finger.

I have damaged the Ulna nerve.  Otherwise known as the funny-bone. This runs from your shoulder, around the elbow and follows the Ulna bone to the outside of your hand. (Hence the name "Ulna Nerve")
I have numbness and tingling in the pinky finger and that side of the ring finger.
With both, you eventually have loss of movement and muscle in forearm, hand and fingers that are affected.
I have lost dexterity and grip in my left hand.
Just my luck.  That's the hand I write with.

The funny thing is that I damaged the nerve playing games on my computer.
(Wife will never let me live this down.)

So, tomorrow I will wake up with the farmers.  My wife will drive me to the surgical center.
There, I will fill out a bunch of paperwork.  Get blood drawn for the anesthesiologist. And then get knocked out while they cut open my arm and try to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
Then I will wake up.  Get dressed and come home.  Where my wife will give me my medicine and put me to bed. So I can heal up and get back to normal living.

Sounds simple, right?
Then YOU do it. (You're saying no, aren't you.)

Now you may think that I am scared about getting knocked out.
Did it before. Wisdom teeth. Woke up fine.  Almost convinced my Mom to let me drive home.
Scared about the surgery?
I've been through worse at a younger age. (story for another time.)
Scared of the pain?
Not really.  I have a high tolerance. Plus, pain goes away...... I hope.

I have resigned myself that I am getting older.  Thing happen.
I will have to go through a lot in the coming years. (Remember, I do have kids.)
This is just something I have to do and get over with.
And I will have a great scar to show for it. (Chicks dig scars)

My only hope is that I can have the full use of my fingers and hand when this is done.
Because my pinky seems to have a mind of it's own some days.

Now that I have gotten this off my chest, I am going to bed.
I will wake up in the morning and face this challenge head on.
Come out a little poorer, a little wiser, and a little sleepier.

And while I'm going under will think to myself.  "Chicks dig scars"