Monthly Archives: October 2013

Third Year Slump

I’m a firm believer in continuing education. I’ve often dreamt that someday when my modeling career really takes off and I have lots of money and lots of time I’ll go back to school and get a couple more degrees: Law, Philosophy, maybe a language or two; whatever will help me confound debt collectors.

Of course, the real fantasy part of this fantasy isn’t my modeling career – seriously, any day now the desperate existential hollowness of enough hipsters will drive the market for sock garters through the roof, and then these calves of mine will be funding my early retirement. Booya.

No the real fantasy is that I’d ever set foot in a classroom again. Sweet Zombie Jesus did I ever hate classes.

And yet, some lessons, like toddlers at 6am, can be neither avoided nor ignored. And so, as a composition assignment I give you: Thirteen Fatherhood Lessons at Year Three.

  1. This will not get less expensive.
  2. Yelling, apparently, makes it true.
  3. Urine may either be the least or the greatest of your problems. Depending upon timing and geography.
  4. Silence is not distraction, or his ignoring you. It takes time to think about things sometimes.
  5. What he’s saying is very important to him.
  6. He gets sick of being around you all the time too.
  7. Everything, and I do mean everything, is negotiable.
  8. Developmentally speaking, right about the time that they become their moodiest and most argumentative is also when they start to be their most affectionate. Funny, the timing on that.
  9. Puppets. But seriously? Puppets.
  10. The things that comfort them now will inform how they comfort themselves for the rest of their lives. This is also true with shame and fear.
  11. As language and vocab explode, and interpersonal interaction develops, a child learns about behaving differently around different people, and in different situations. In other words, they’re playing you.
  12. Before, there were antics, now there are actual jokes.
  13. Don’t mess with the hair. Leave the hair alone.

Submitted for your approval.

I’m pulling for a C+ (“interpersonal interactions?” Them’s some smarty words!)

Happy Halloween.


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It’s All In The Wardrobe, Really.

Why do bad guys have cooler outfits?

I think I heard this on WTF with Marc Maron, he was interviewing somebody and his guest’s kid had asked her that. Kathryn Hahn. That’s the guest.

But it’s a great question, think about it.

Picture, if you will, Yoda. And if you won’t, don’t picture anything, jerk.

But, so Yoda, if you did picture him, now picture Darth Vader. Who’s got the cooler outfit?

GI Joe vs Cobra? I mean, Snake Eyes is working pretty hard to raise the average on the good side, but shit, man, Destro.

Walter White in Season 1, vs Heisenberg Season 4 (that’s as far as I am, no spoilers!)? No contest.

Batman may be the only exception to this rule. But that’s because he’s like a bad guy who does good.

But why? On the podcast they kinda brushed past it, but I found myself doing some dishwashing philosophizing: part of it, I think, is that forbidden allure that evil has. By its nature it’s tempting, the Dark Side, as they say, is more seductive.

I also think it reflects the external/internal dichotomy of morality. Bad Guys are defined by their external goals; satellites made of diamonds, elder wands, domination of various geographic magnitudes. Even the most cerebral and disciplined of villains, when it comes right down to it, are only in it for the money. Good guys follow a more inward path – their goals are more personal, internal. Justice, and Freedom, the unification of a room through a quality, urine-free rug.

It goes without saying that for anybody who’s pursuing such ideals, one’s appearance will be a secondary priority, at best.

Ah, that was fun. Thinking about things.

Let me tell you why I love Breaking Bad. I’m a sucker for a good villain, as well as a good back story. That’s what the whole show is (or seems to be at the end of season 4) – one giant back story showing choice by logical choice how someone gets to be the bad guy. How complicated it all is, how context can gray up what normally would be a black & white sort of deal.

It all comes down to choice in the end. Even when it’s about survival, it’s still a choice.

I think a lot about this, the nuts and bolts of morality. (Radiolab did a great episode on this) At least I used to, these days my cogitizing leans more towards remembering what day it is, and how to afford both preschool and donuts.

It’s a question of default settings, maybe.

It hit home for me the other night – I work nights, so I don’t often get to be part of bedtime. So we lay there, me and mama with a little pajama’d man fidgeting the last of the day’s energy out. It was quiet and calm, we looked at the flashlight on the ceiling, we snuggled, we read. The look of utter peace and contentment on his face touched me way down in the sub-basement of the feels. Only someone sheltered and loved and cared for and cared about could ever get to a place like that. And as right, and as natural as it feels, it only exists because we make it exist. Because of choices we made. As tragic as it is (and it is so, so, tragic) there’s no guarantee for a child to have that. It only happens through planning and effort and will.

But it does exist for my son. And obviously, when my son contemplates cooking meth to save his family, I won’t be there helping him choose the path of the Jedi. But even though he may have no clear memory of it, there was a time, when everything mattered, when reality was being nailed down in his neural pathways, there was a time when he was entirely safe and unconditionally loved. And I hold hope that someone who’s world is built on such a foundation can successfully avoid becoming the biggest meth kingpin in the Southwestern United States.

This would, of course mean that his ensembles would be inferior. But as a guy who shaves once or twice a week, I can live with this.


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If I’d Known This Post Would End the Shutdown, I Would Have Written It Two Weeks Ago

Deprivation is awesome. I highly recommend a little deprivation now and then.

There comes a point when you’re deprived of things that, when you get beyond the whiny resentment and Sherlock withdrawal, you start to accept the way things are and stop thinking about what you don’t have and start thinking about what you do have. And it’s Christmas – you suddenly have so much stuff! You stop taking so much for granted, is really what it is.

Like health, gravity, or scientifically provable reality.

Toddlers, I find, are not burdened so much by scientifically provable reality.

This is borne out when you try to debate them. Which you shouldn’t do. Give it two tries, maybe, after that you’re really just hurting yourself.

When you debate a toddler, everything’s up for grabs: which direction is up, which color blue is, the digestive consequences of raisins you find on the floor of the bus – it’s all unclaimed territory. When the statement “you can’t stand on water” is met with “Yes! Yes I can stand on water,” and neither side will budge, what are you left with? Logic won’t work, demonstrating reality won’t work, bribery might work, but if you set that precedent the fight you’re having now will be but the overture to a symphony of petulance that will be the next 15 years of your life.

Nope, it all shuts down. Irrational demands aren’t withdrawn, nor can they be conceded to without disastrous consequences.

This is where I seem to learn the same lesson again and again: the toddler I’m in a stalemate with? He’s just a toddler. You have no idea why he’s acting this way? Neither does he.

The only thing to do is to hold him, try to talk about why he’s feeling what he’s feeling but not engage the argument. Usually, after a little bit more fussing he calms down, is distracted by the next thing and the day moves on. Usually.

It’s the trick of making him feel loved and listened to, and yet, not listen to him.

If only this worked in legislative bodies.

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Bite My Lip and Close My Eyes – But Mainly Just Close My Eyes.

I love sleeping.

No, I mean, I lurv it. I want to marry sleeping and have little baby sleepings and then grow distant and go to sleeping couples counseling and learn a new appreciation for my life with sleeping. I’d buy financial instruments with sleeping, and go on separate vacations once in a while but always be excited to see sleeping again.

What the hell’s a financial instrument, by the way? A trombone made out of dollar bills? Never trust anybody who dresses that well but still works in a place with more surveillance cameras than bathrooms.

But, so sleep. It’s funny, I realized the other night that I make a lot of noise when I lay down in bed; groaning and stretching and joints popping and fidgeting around. I don’t wake anybody up, but you’d think I was having an orgasm with all that fanfare.

Then it occurred to me – I think about sleep a lot. When I have a little time to myself in a private place, I totally treat myself to a little nap.

I’m always ready to sleep, anywhere, anytime.

I check out beds and couches with desirous eyes.

I always feel like bragging about a really good sleep, but feel vaguely inappropriate doing so.

Sleeping, it seems, is the new getting laid.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to score.





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Let There Be Bacon

It’s been a week of firsts.

Granted, life with a 3-year-old is not lacking in firsts, but this week has been special. Bacon-special.

Little man’s led a very healthy life food-wise. This is the one item that comes close to rent on the budget, the 2n’d biggest expence. Food’s important, every bit of his adorable self is built from what little food avoided the rest of his face to make it into his mouth. So organic everything, fresh fruit (and occasional hard-won vegetables) no sugary stuff, no fatty stuff – we have no illusions this will last, but for now we only hope to save him from our own curse.

But the avalanche has begun. Mama said let there be bacon. And there was. And it was good.

But yeah. First bacon was a hit. I mean, it’s no cantaloupe, but it definitely went over a winner.

Also, had our first tilapia. I think. We may have tried unsuccessfully before, but bacon opened up whole new realms of delicious possibility.

We also watched out first full-length movie. My Neighbor Totoro, if you’re interested, will please everybody in the room.

We also, coincidentally, had our first fight over not watching My Neighbor Totoro outside of designated, established viewing times.

Truly, cinema unites and divides us.

I would consider myself a happy guy. A happy, ruggedly handsome guy. Everybody’s got regrets, but I’ve brought all the scrutiny a liberal arts education, general insecurity and a dash of white guilt can bring to a life lived, and I find the results satisfactory.

But first bacon.

First movie.

How great is that? I’m not one of those bacon fanatics, but I’ve been known to enjoy some cured pork belly in my time. And I heartily support bacon & chocolate, bacon & avocado, bacon & breathing. But to taste that for the first time. Nothing tastes like bacon. Cnan you imagine what that would be to experience that onslaught of tasty?

Then think about what else he has yet to experience. Like bacon…wait, we covered that.

He hasn’t heard a song that told his story, hasn’t read a book that changed the way he saw the world.

He hasn’t fallen in love, he hasn’t heard the family stories you can only hear when you’re drinking with your uncles after a funeral.

He hasn’t yet been able to appreciate how groundbreaking Firefly was, or how Star Trek: Into Darkness wasn’t. He hasn’t yet tasted the sweet irony that the guy who said “I ain’t got time to bleed” was once governor of the great state of Minnesota.

I try to make a practice of appreciate what I have, of being satisfied with my life.

But damned if first bacon doesn’t make me jealous of my son. Just a little.

And then he pees all over his play doh, and the spell is broken.

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