First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I saw a feature on Good Morning America a couple weeks ago about a mom who parents only through praise. She has completely stopped criticizing her children and I thought to myself, "What a wonderful liar."

That's parent blogging/marketing in a nutshell though. It's a horrible place, generally. Everyone is nice to each other all the time. Except when they're not and then usually it's just a big, flabby, ivory tower slap fight.

We often write about our triumphs and when we write about our failures, there's often something missing. We smooth out the pain. You rarely get that bloody fingernails holding on by a claw feeling. We revel in the beauty and wonder of our children. Then we revel in the beauty and the wonder of all the beautiful and wonderful parents out there blogging beautifully and wonderfully about their beautiful and wonderful children. Collegiality and support are great. I will go on record as saying I support being supportive. The all the time part though . . . Sometimes that'll cause a body to miss a thing or two.

There's this very popular parenting website and on one occasion one of these guys wrote a post about how their toddler didn't recognize a person's race and how it was so "beautiful" because their three year old was "colorblind. Colorblind to race." And when I read that I thought, "That is sooo racist. So white, liberal, racist. Jesus CheeRIST that is bad. Haven't they seen Stephen Colbert do his bit on whites using the term colorblind to describe themselves?"

A white person using the term colorblind is a denial of a human's unique beauty, culture, and personal experience. If a white person is referring to themselves as colorblind and it's not because they can't tell the difference between red and green, they're definitely racist. I thought this was a well-established truth.*

So, I commented on the post. I said, "Wow. Your kid sounds really racist."

There was some hullabaloo and how dare you(s) and don't come backs and is nots and so forth. I replied, "Hey. It's no big deal. He's still young. You can help him with that shit. Just, you know, tell him to stop being a racist. Try telling him that he needs to see and appreciate people for who they are."

Hullaballoo and anger and go away and so forth.

The problem with that story is that it never actually happened. They posted that post, but I never said anything at the time. Remember what I said about everyone being nice to each other all the time? It sucks. And I suck for playing along. Who has one and a half thumbs and a long history of mistakes? This guy.

I really did call a blogger's kid racist once but that kid was like five and he said something to his mom to the effect of "I don't like people with brown skin." That shit is racist. I had to say something in that case. The blogger was upset. Lots of people said things in her defense about how it was natural as kids come in contact with new people to on occasion react at first with some negative feelings. Which is true. It's also racist.


Calling your white self or your white kid colorblind is kind of a passive racism, but it's still racist. See, you've got your passive racism--self aggrandizing white liberals, people who don't speak up when they should (present company included), any time a person is complicit in the crime of institutionalized racism, etc.--and aggressive racism--burning crosses, violence, use of the n-word, for example. Occasionally you get your passive aggressive racism ("That color doesn't work for me but on you it's great") too.

I don't get the big deal white people have with being called out as racist. We react so horribly. And it is a horrible thing to be. But it's not purely a moral issue, which is I think where people get caught up.

You're white. You've never been black. You had white parents. You were raised in a white neighborhood. You can't understand the experience. Especially if you're male. So when you find yourself being racist, instead of saying "Oh my god. Me? No. No no No never! I'm a good white person!" You should maybe try going, "Ok. What did I do there that was racist? Can I fix it? How do I do that?" And then you figure it out and you move on and do better on the next blog post.

I mean no harm. Everyone makes a mistake now and again. I'm sure the above mentioned bloggers walk relatively unracistly through most of their lives. They're talented and generous guys and everyone seems to like them. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

In this country at this time, remaining quiet is not an option. So while I'm sorry to the blogger(s) I'm calling out in this space, I'm even more sorry that I didn't do it sooner.


*If a person of color tells me that they have no problem with the term colorblind being used to describe a given white person's lack of racism, then in that case I am wrong about the term's racist connotations. That's the way that works.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dead at 25

From the moment you're born, you start dying. That's what people say. From the moment you're born, you start dying. Blech. Depressing. And untrue. When you're born, you are alive. Your synapses and cells are growing at astronomical rates. Every molecule of you is burning and crackling with energy and potential and life. You glow with fresh skin cells, lustrous hair. Your fast twitch muscles react as fast as the electrical impulses  that command them. Things smell good and taste strong. You do crazy shit not to feel more alive, but because you feel so alive. Then you turn 25 and that--give or take--is when you start dying. That's when your metabolism begins to slow down. 25 years old. The end of the road. Bilabial fricative.

Some people, they say "no." They say that you don't start living until later. Kids, grandkids, travel, pictures of birds. "I'm living!" they declare. "

They're not of course.They're dying. They're just doing a really good job at it. And that is awesome. Enjoy your death. Make it last. If not now, when?

Here's what wisdom is: Your brain rewires itself and while losing the abilities of great retention and quick recall you're brain develops the ability to say, "Whoa. I'm dying here. I'd better be careful." If you have kids the statement is amended to, "You better be careful. And you better careful around me."

As late as 1900, the average age of mortality was 45 years old. Not so long ago. Now it's like 160 or something. I didn't bother to look it up, but it's pretty high, relatively speaking.

That's why we have the mid-life crisis. Becaue it's not a mid-life crisis. It's a "why aren't I dead?" conundrum.  The answer to "Why am I here?" is "Because medical science keeps you alive in defiance of the natural world."

I will say that having kids is great because they make you feel alive and awake again except for the days when they make you wish you were dead.

So maybe that's a good reason for being nice to each other, is my point. Maybe if every time we meet someone or greet someone we stop to remember, "Jesus. This guy is fucking dying," we'll be more inclined to treat that person with the compassion a dying person deserves.

Then again, they won't be here all that much longer  anyway.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to My Wife in the Terms she Deserves

I just got back from a late night trip to the drugstore. Not for an ointment or the like but for a Mother's Day card for my wife. It was the last chance I had to get one. The last place I looked. I came away empty.

I am very good at picking cards. For any occasion, for anyone I know reasonably well, I find a way to pick a card that people really like, and it usually doesn't take me all that long. It's an odd, useful in a very specific way kind of talent. But not tonight. I don't blame myself. I blame the cards. They sucked.

The cards were all filled with empty mom things. Things one might say to any mom. In fact, there was actually a category of card called, "Any Mother."  How about that for horrible? Just any old mom. "They're all the same, for Christ's sake. Just take your pot of flowers we bought on a street corner four blocks from your house and enjoy."

Here's the thing. My wife is not that faceless "Any Mom." My wife is not, "the kind soft presence that smoothes my rough edges." She's not the "gentle, sweet woman who is always there," or who, "we know we don't always appreciate enough." She's not some one, "we don't always remember to tell I love you," or someone "we forget is there until it's time to eat." 

(I might of made that last quote up.)

She's not even necessarily the "heart of our home." Not alone. 

She's the soul and the brains. 

My wife is a woman who works her ass off to keep us fed and warm and secure and even vacationing.

My wife is hard when I'm soft (which is not to imply she's not quite soft in some delightful ways), smart when I'm stupid, and organized when I'm chaotic. 

My wife fights for her children and our home.

My wife balances me when I'm frustrated, relieves me when I've had enough, and gives me a boogeyman to scare the kids with. 

My wife can make the kids understand when I can't.

My wife respects who I am, what I do, and what I provide for her and our children. She allows us to show our kids there are many ways to live, and many definitions to the words, "father"and "mother."

My wife makes excellent chicken soup. 

My wife is a role model who displays virtues like passion, hard work, compassion, strength, and an ability to approach the world on her own terms.

My wife loves her children deeply, fiercely. Mama Bear.

My wife is my partner in parenting. We fight and love and soothe and punish together. 

My wife is the only person I would ever pick to show my daughter what it means to be a woman, and my son what women really are. Humans. Adults. Parents. Just like Dads.

Happy Mother's Day, my love. Our kids are lucky as hell. And so am I.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Circle of Life

I have to wake up the pman every night around 10-10:30 so that he can go pee. I take him downstairs and into the dining room and he still somehow manages to hit the back of the toilet, the floor, everywhere except the bowl. The astonishing power of the little boy pee stream. It comes out like a laser and hits the porcelain with a high pitched whine like a skill saw.

When I was a boy, I was always embarrassed by that sound. I always wanted the deep bass tones created by the heavy pee streams of my father or the grown ups in the public bathroom. Gravitas, that sound said to me. Little did I know it was because they were dying. Now I'm the one who's dying and my son is the one who could pee a hole through a vault door. And that's the circle of life.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Unrequited Love, Dead Birds, and Tacos

They careened up the hill. Did you know you can careen up a hill? If you're a little kid, it's pretty easy. They careened up the hill like a reverse avalanche . . . well, some did. Some stopped and complained, "my legs hurt, will you carry me?" and their oh so ridiculous request received the loud laughter it so richly deserved.

They reached the top, a screaming mongol horde, the tiny one standing on a granite slab and declaring, "I'm first!"

They reached the top first and attacked the trees, a swarm of sweaty, sandy locusts, the trees shuddering at their approach.

Once the hill was conquered, and I mean conquered, rolled on, jumped on, stick swords swung and clacked and poked, down the hill they careened. This careening seemed much easier, and so all the more frightening.

We, the two dads responsible for inflicting such trauma upon this pristine hill who had moments before thought itself so fortunate--it has a great view of the city, followed our respective broods down, down, down.

Across the street, back into the park on the other side, the stream was their next victim. Never saw them coming. An impossible amount of fish were caught, eaten, or thrown back that day. An unbelievable amount really, considering the tackle consisted of nothing but long thin sticks with leaves stuck on the ends.

Only one wet shoe was worn by one wet foot after our encounter with the stream. Out of ten feet (50 toes!), only one. Remarkable when you consider the odds.

Our walk continued and love was in the air. Thick. One young five year-old declared his love for a seven year old girl and he could not be dissuaded. She was not into it. He did not care.

"Your brother is a moron. Your brother is an idiot." Harsh words said the subject of the boy's love to the boy's older sister while they were out of earshot of the boy. "My brother is NOT an idiot!" said the boy's older sister, also seven. "Mine is," shrugged the girl. Fair enough.

We came to a great pine where the lower branches spread wide and underneath was the perfect dark playhouse for a group of little Huns. They swept in and up the branches and claimed the darkness for their own.

While we stood in the sunlight and chatted about things the pirates in that tree would not find at all important, a rustling occurred and a seven year-old girl, the pragmatist from earlier, emerged from the darkness swinging an entire bird wing in her hand and crowing, "We found a bird daddy and see how pretty it's feather is it left the whole thing!"

"No no girl put that down, " said her father. I agreed. I looked inside the shelter and saw a burst pile of feathers at the bottom of the tree.

I interrogated, "Who else touched the bird? Did you touch the bird?" Each answered no except for the five year-old boy who loved the seven year-old girl. He had touched it. Of course.

There were many repeated requests to not, "touch your face," which the boy only ignored twice.

We returned to our cars and made our way toward tacos. "Tacos!" demanded the hungry marauders.

Tacos were eaten with gusto, nachos with guacamole. The boy turned to me and took my hand and began yanking at my fingers. He wanted my wedding ring so that he might present it to his nonreciprocal beloved. I declined.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Pumpkin Man Gets Glasses.

And just like that, The Pumpkin Man wears glasses. Bespectacled wunderkind of pre-k 4. He needed them. A lot, it turns out. He's been a very good boy about wearing them. And all I can think is how now that probably means that when he grows up he is probably going to be a stripper .

Here's what happened:

The latest Scandinavian dance offering "What Does the Fox Say?"was on the Ipad and as began to replay again the boy shucked his clothes and started dancing hard and fast.  And the kid has rhythm and he kept shouting, "Mommy. look at me! Daddy, look at me! Look at me, daddy!" and he's wiggling and wriggling and shaking his tiny pale ass and my wife says, "You spent all this time worrying about keeping your daughter off the pole and it's the boy you should be worried about." And she was right.

And I see him all grown up--still with the glasses, and down at the Chippendale's they call him "The Professor"and that's his whole stripping persona.

"Or Mr. Wall Street, "my wife says, and I say or "'The Lawyer because," and it all plays out in my head as I'm talking, "he'll have quit actual law school to strip. He'll have done it on the for some extra cash for a while but then, though he's talented at the Law he doesn't truly love it so, you know, why not full time? And I'll yell and cry and say to him 'Your mother and I watched Magic Mike you know? We know some of those people are unsavory!"

So that's how I've been doing. Growing as a parent and a person. How about you?


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

40 things they never told us about 40

40 has been interesting. We've been through some near disasters. And we've had a lot of fun. As 41 begins to bob gently, faintly over the horizon I feel like I've learned some things. Some things that nobody tells you about 40. Some strange, some wonderful, all true.

1. Nothing fills the hole inside like reliable and affordable furnace maintenance services. 

2. There is no such thing as wisdom, just sweeping generalizations that if you're convincing, pass for it.

3. Muffin tops suck. You want the whole muffin.

4. It's people from your generation's turn to start running the world. Not you but, you know, some other people your age.

5. Sky fudge.

7. Your dreams continue on long after you realize how much your chair cushion smells like beer farts.

8. You eat a lot of Greek yogurt.

9. At the YMCA they have a chart on the wall in the cardio area. It gives  the proper heart rates for each age all the way up to 80. Except for the ages between 40 and 60. That part is blank. Then it tells you to read the formula down at the bottom of the chart and figure it out yourself. No one understands the mysteries of the middle-aged heart.

10. Lumpy

11. Hard work, talent, and good luck aren't always enough. That's why we invented Satan.

12. There will be no more ice cream headaches because the roof of your mouth will become armored with scales.

13. Acoustic guitar rocks so fucking hard.

14. When you shit, hair comes out. A lot of it.

15. TV binge-watching isn't new. Remember those sick days full of cartoons,  I Dream of Genie, Bewitched, and Gilligan's Island? The only differences between now and then are that:  a.) You're binging on episodes of one show for 6 hours and b.) During that binge-watch time is when they update your secret programming through the HD mind control beams.

16. Now, when you're tired or your bones ache, you don't have to worry about it because hey, entropy.

17. The Sword of The Archangel Gabriel will surely help the faithful carry the day, mother fucker.

18. Your demons devour you from the inside out. Most people find the personality change "pretty agreeable."

19. Get yourself a nice set of clean, working gutters. They'll make the pain go away for a while. 

20. Nose hair is edible. Tastes like cotton candy. 

21. You stop giving a shit about how people feel about most things. You just care if they're decent people who are nice to you and your family. Which leads you to join a branch of Mormonism known as "Space Nazis."

22. Whoopie cushions: Still hilarious

23. You realize super powers are real when, during a visit to West Virginia, you drink way too much tap water and find yourself with the power to cause instant vomiting on yourself.

24. The more your tolerance for beer goes up, the more your tolerance for bullshit goes down. YeeeHAWW and a wangdang diddly doo! Go USA. 

25. A nice bowl of soup, ehh?

26. The size of your penis increases by 17 percent. Too bad about the thorns.

27. Every 34 days, an irate orangutan named McCaulay Culkin slaps you in the spleen. 

28. Hover bikes. "Bad traffic" is a myth we perpetrate for the "Youngs." 

29. Crestor makes you trip balls.

28. Stripes: better than you thought. Even if you liked it the first time. 

29. Change is everywhere, inevitable, irresistible. Which explains why it was necessary to remake Robocop.

30. I don't care if you have a religion or not or what your religion is if you have one, just as long as we can all agree that the one true God is the Animal Planet show "Too Cute!". 

31. Froot loops taste all the same. ALL THE SAME.

32. After any sort of exertion, you smell like Bigfoot's taint. 

33.All real: Vampires, fairies, Bigfoot, Fibro Myalgia, Indiana Jones, the Xmen, Donald Trump's hair.

34. All fake: Savannah, Georgia, Clooney's hair line, marscapone cheese, the internet, Florida, Donald Trump.

35. Abs are callow and a leading cause of pulled abs and skin cancer.

36. Respect your gut. It'll be here long after you're gone. 

37. Many men will begin to understand that women should be treated with respect, dignity, and tenderness. Too bad about the thorns. 

38. Crow's feet are pleasant reminders that God took the care to fork-crimp your face so the filling doesn't leak out. 

39.  I don't care who you are, you'll have regrets and a good chunk of them will concern that time you ate a Vicodin brownie right before your clinical finals in pharmacy school. 

40. Too old to burn out; too young to fade away. Try lingering.

Friday, January 10, 2014

"How Long Can You Tread Water?"

Here's Something:

2 weeks before Christmas it was decided that we needed to spend $15,000.00 to replace the pipe leading from our house to our city's water main. It was not decided by us. It was decided by the age of our 130 year old house and the bad of our luck.

It seems that pipes of that nature only have to be replaced every 100 years or so in this region. So that's good news.

A more accurate breakdown of the costs would mention the single copper pipe maybe 3 inches in diameter and not more that 12 feet long was $13,000.00. The other $2,000 was chipped in by our water heater. Coincidentally, the water heater decided to shit the bed on the same morning I gave up and decided that pumping 2 inches of water out of the house everyday in the middle of winter (now I have an idea what living in Russia is like, anyway) was probably worth a phone call.

I thought the water pouring in everyday was a leaking pipe under the basement. It wasn't. 2 guys from the plumbing company came down into my basement. Also known as "the only 2 guys to ever escape from my basement,"

"So, you guys are gonna dig a pit in the basement? Can you tell where it's coming from?" I asked.

(The plumbing supervisor paused. Really really pregnant pause. Like, 50 weeks pregnant.)

"No man." Said the plumbing supervisor. "This isn't a leak in your basement, man. This is a main line leak. We're going to have to dig out front and pull the line out."

I paused them right back. My pause was pregnant with sick.

"Really," I eloquented. It's all I could manage. My life was flashing before my eyes. I spent so much of it in a damp basement.

He starts to explain and the words kind of wash over me like a mudslide over a tricycle. The colorful streamers on my handlebars suddenly disappeared from view. We don't have the money. Not even a little bit.

We go outside and he tells me he's "gonna dig here" and "Here's where the cement will come out," and, "I hope we don't have to go under that porch too," and, "If you'd like, when we fill the hole back in we'll just put you right in on the bottom and then boom, no more problems."

When we were talking I guessed $15,000.00 dollars exactly. They said, "No no. Not that much probably something like five to eight." We still didn't have the money, but that is a considerable amount less money to not have.

One half hour later: "So, it looks like it's gonna be more like what you said," he told me while standing in the kitchen where I would soon be servicing many of my "johns."

It looked a shit load like that, by the way. An preternaturally accurate amount like that. I have a special category of precognitive powers known as "bankruptcy ESP."

They then went on to explain to us how if the line didn't pull out in one piece, and it ended up breaking in our foundation or nearer to our house, it would cost another $3000.00. My testicles fell out.

They said they'd be there in less than a week. Then 4 days after that. Then the day before Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve eve.

They finally came the Monday after Christmas. Not all their fault. The city inspector in my city gets a pretty sweet amount of vacation time.

They fixed everything up for the $15,000 quote. The kids got to watch them dig with the back hoe and we had our own cop detail because they had to shut down our little one way street to do the work.

We borrowed and begged and begged and borrowed and borrowed and borrowed til we had the money.

"We finance this stuff because most people don't ever expect something like this,"they said. Considering my chances of seeing Hailey's Comet are better than the chances of me ever having to do this again, I agreed.

The plumbing supervisor was really a pretty nice kid. He fixed our poorly flushing toilet for free because he felt bad about the delay.

It's an interesting thing, having to spend an astronomical amount of money you don't have. I alternated between walking around the house with a kooky little frozen smile which indicated denial and walking around the house shaking my head and making losing my mind type noises. Sounded like Cormac McCarthy's ex-wife. Sans, you know, the vagina holster.

The whole thing has kind of made us stronger, in the end. We're not going bankrupt, and our water pressure is the best it's ever been. There's something about a good shower that brings a family together.

I should probably edit that last sentence.


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