July 30, 2009

Grand-numm-ah had it coming

We are on the telephone, speakerphone turned on, so Grandmother can speak to Swee’Pea and TheMonk in one of her weekly attempts to sway the kids into providing for her in her old age.

Swee’Pea, who makes you earn her love, has run off to paint but TheMonk stays to play dress-up with a Barbie doll while talking to Grandmother, whom he affectionately calls, “Grand-numm-ah”

This particular conversation is soon after Grand-numm-ah had spent some time visiting our house. Soon after, she learned that privacy in the bathroom doesn’t exist in our house and locks are put on doors for a reason. TheMonk, perhaps honing his skills at an early age, will bust in on your shower any time he damn well pleases. And he’s observant.

The conversation begins to wane as TheMonk struggles to put a sparkly “Barbies a whore” blouse on the doll. He pauses to take in Barbie’s curves and asks, pointing at her incredible rack, “What are those called?”

I so want to tell him something that will mess his life up for a good long while. I want to tell him they’re “Chi-Chis” or “Bazookas” or “Tom and Jerry.” But my mother IS on the phone and that kind of stuff isn’t nearly as fun when your own mother is there to pass judgment so I tell the truth, “They’re breasts.”

“Oh.” says TheMonk. “Do I have breasts?”

“No,” I say. “You don’t have breasts. Only women get breasts like that.”

“Oh. Does Grand-numm-ah have breasts?”

“Um, yeah.” I say, trying to clear my mind of any visual that will cause me horrendous nightmares later.

And then, TheMonk, with all the enthusiasm a four-year-old can muster, shouts out…

“Yeah! And they’re HUGE!!!”

July 29, 2009

Last night I had the strangest dream

I jerk my head up suddenly and let out a loud gasp as if surfacing from the depths of the ocean.  I inhale deeply as my heart races and I look around wildly at my surroundings.  It is dark out and as I squint into the night, my eyes adjust and I see the familiar surroundings of my bedroom.  The chaise lounge in the corner, covered in clothing.  The exercise bicycle against the wall, covered with dry cleaning.  My wife, sleeping soundly at my side, just covered.

My heart begins to slow and my breathing becomes more regular as I struggle to think of what it was that so violently awakened me from my slumber.  I close my eyes and it all comes back to me…

I am at Midway Airport, the walls appear Dali-esque as I am joining the death march of travelers wandering towards the baggage claim area.  I am on my phone trying to text a kind, virtual friend to come and pick me up.  We arrange to meet outside and as I am standing on the curb waiting for the chariot to arrive, it begins to rain.  The acidity of the rain burns upon my skin and I am left to find cover.  Before I melt into the concrete, however, a large pumpkin driven by eight, white stallions, appears and I am offered a ride by a pixiemom and her three little pixies.  I am introduced to Amy, Noelle and AnaBanana.  One likes to talk, one likes to sing and the other goes good with yogurt…

Before I know it, a loud, piercing sound penetrates my skull.  This sound is repeated hundreds of times as I grab my head with my hands and try in vain to overcome the pain of the sound… “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” I look around to see if anyone else is being traumatized by the sounds but smiles are in abundance and most of the faces I focus on are jumping up and down and I start to feel seasick… “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!”

The scene shifts again and I am suddenly being herded into a room with music blaring.  There is a mad dash towards one part of the room and I am left to wonder what could possibly be over there that is causing such a commotion.  I can’t quite make it out as women are throwing elbows and those caught on the fringes of the group try to battle their way to the front.  As the crowd begins to disperse I strain to see what could have been so important but all I am left to see are empty cardboard boxes as women, clutching red totes to their bosom scatter in different directions…

Suddenly I find myself in a room with hundreds of people with their faces buried in their phones, typing away furiously about God-knows-what.  There are blow-up dolls, bottles of lube and a naked woman walking proudly through the middle.  I see the Wild Rumpus from Where The Wild Things Are and I even get accosted by a wild woman with a southern twang…

The room shifts again and I find myself in another room full of chocolate.  I am wearing a tiara and I suddenly realize it’s my birthday.  My brother suddenly appears dressed like Big Bird and this makes sense because he is from The Street.  I am acutely aware that he shouldn’t be there but glad he is but I get worried when I am told I have to go to another party that has lots of glitter and a mean bouncer at the door.  I stuff Big Bird in my shirt and we sneak him into the party that, for some reason, makes me think of my Mom and Dad…

I am on the dance floor and shouting out Beastie Boys songs at the top of my lungs.  Someone walks by looking like my girlfriend from 1989 – full of neon and lace.  A unicorn winks at me from across the floor.  A man gives me whiskey that tastes like raspberries.  A dirt-eating man suddenly accosts me and I find my face being pushed into the floor and I wonder, for a brief moment, if this how it feels to die. And I wonder if I’m wearing underwear with holes in it…

I am standing in front of dozens of women. I think I might be naked but I’m too scared to look.  Am I before a firing squad? Why are there two other guys next to me? And what is that woman going to do with that microphone? I am forced to answer questions about my undergarments and I am fighting back tears.  There’s a really good looking guy standing in the back of the room flexing his muscles but all the women seem to love him for his mind.  Accusations are tossed about and women look both angry and confused.  Soon all the women are squeezing pink balls…

I am in another crowded room, with trays of cheese burgers being served by beautiful women.  I am given a bag to wear upon my head and no one thinks this is strange.  Other men, who clearly don’t belong because they are NOT wearing bags on their head try to crash the party.  I am introduced to Ms. Lori and I wonder where Hooper is.  I also wonder if Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers are somewhere in the room.  I think I see Mr. Green Jean hitting on a Cheese burger girl in the corner.  Men in suits arrive at the door and tell us we must leave. A woman with a camera pleads for the man to look “MORE PISSED OFF” as I head out the door…

A very Bossy woman tells me I have to go dancing and suddenly someone who tells me she is stalking me, along with my brother and other people with really weird names and accents force me into a cab and we are on our way.  Once there my shoes become scrutinized and pass muster.  I can’t hear anything but the stalker as we make our way inside.  I chat with the stalker until the Bossy lady determines it is time for us to go.  We arrive back where we started and I try to run but I’m pulled back to sit and talk with others…

I am talking and talking and listening and listening and my mind wants to sleep but my tortured soul loves every minute of this.  A muskrat runs through the lobby and no one seems to mind.  A mister-lady shows me her tattoo and I think I should understand what it means but I don’t.  I smile politely anyway because you do that when you’re dreaming about really absurd things.  I glance at my watch and it says 5:00 a.m.  I announce I am leaving and I make a run for it…

I am running and running and running… and going nowhere and I suddenly wake up with a loud gasp and I suck in oxygen while drenched in sweat.  I look around and see my beautiful wife sleeping next to me.  I lay back down, close my eyes, and try to have that dream one more time.

July 26, 2009

Funny Names But Good Times at BlogHer

He arrives outside of the hotel, dressed in a newly purchased outfit – part Banana Republic Outlet, part Target-chic – accessorized with one of five pairs of shoes he strategically fit into his crowded suitcase the previous evening.  He is acutely aware that beyond those revolving doors lies uncertainty and the potential for feeling ostracized and feeling he doesn’t belong.  But the excitement of the moment, characterized by butterflies mingling with the incredibly strong airport margarita he had at his layover in Minneapolis, overtakes any trepidation he feels and, taking a deep breath of false bravado, he swings through the doors and into the lobby to meet people with funny names.

Names that are personal and synonymous with humor, love, and passionate brilliance. Names that although would be absurd to the uninitiated, roll off the tongue and sound as normal as any real name you would hear being shouted across a crowded park on a warm Sunday afternoon.  These names begin to run through his mind from years of stalking following these incredibly talented writers.  Who would he meet?  Where was Bossy and how bossy would she be? Would BusyMom show herself, offering me a tray of champagne? How red is Redneck Mommy‘s neck? Would he recognize Chicky Baby if he saw her in real life?  Would Cheaper than Therapy really fit snugly into his coat pocket?  Is WeirdGirl really that weird?  Is Issa really that crazy? Were Karen’s pants REALLY made of sugar? Would Back To Me sound like she’s from Chicaaaago? And is Backpacking Dad, really that hot?

And suddenly, as if to answer every question, he is welcomed to the first of many parties.  And as he circulates around the room trying not to feel the long-ago anxiety of a middle school dance, he is approached by person after person offering warm hugs, warm wishes and cold booze.  And just like that, the acrid anxiety of not knowing washes away – leaving only the sweet smelling aroma of friendship.  Old friends and new friends and hundreds of little paper business cards stuffed unceremoniously into pockets.

Before he knows it he is 38 years old, celebrating with incredibly-generous-when-drunk bloggers, eating chocolate pouring from fountains, dining on cake shaped like a unicorn and gyrating wildly on the dance floor as 80′s songs flood the room with nostalgia and lousy singing, lasting so deep into the night that it is way past his birthday by the time he makes it to his bed.

Sleep.  This is the one thing that eludes him.  His brother shows up to surprise him and while the benefits are many, the one drawback is the jack hammer-like quality that does the term “snoring” a deep injustice.  But even this obstacle does not set him back.  Before he knows it he is headed to do a panel presentation at this mostly-women conference.  He, along with his brothers-in-arms, Avitable and BusyDad must have been total whack-jobs to accept this role (and this suspicion would soon prove to be true) as I Am Man – Hear Me Roar is sure to cause a stir.  And while the discussion goes remarkably well he is both overjoiced and simultaneously disappointed that he is NOT, in fact, linked to any of the tawdry rumors flying through the conference like those monkeys doing the bidding of the Wicked Witch of the West flying maniacally from room to room on waves of tears and squeeeeeees.

Time continues to fly and before he knows it, the conference is coming to an end to be culminated by dinner amongst new friends, parties with cheeseburgers and hats made of paper bags proudly perched upon his head.  And then, someone has the great idea to go to a night club and before he could protest he is being whisked off to Chicago’s party-zone and sitting in the dark but loud club trying to have conversations as fellow bloggers dance wildly to the gyrating beat.

After the urge to dance is sated, he finds himself in a hotel lobby, the same lobby he had nervously entered just two days prior, having deep conversations with newly cherished friends and feeling contented that there are such good people in the world – even if they do have the unenviable flaw of being a Red Sox fan.

But even great conversation must give in to slumber.  And as he heads back to his hotel room the sky to the east seems a bit lighter than it should for no other reason than morning beckons.  He has crammed as much fun into this time as he can handle and he snoozes into the full daylight of mid-morning.  After rising, he crams as much swag as he can into his suitcase – not an easy task with five pairs of shoes.  He looks forward to seeing his family once again but leaves knowing how many friendships he made, strengthened or cemented these past few days.

And as he sits in his tightly cramped coach chair 35,000 feet above the ground, having paid the $12.95 for airplane wi-fi, he ponders the past few days and can’t help but smile.  And yawn.

July 22, 2009

Who says you have to behave like an adult?

I might have gotten a little excited

I might have gotten a little excited

From our trip to LegoLand and SeaLife Aquarium.  If you’d like to find out more, see my Uptake post here.

July 21, 2009

Being Vaginally Challenged at BlogHer

I have a story to tell.

One day, after talking to his very successful blogging cousin, a guy decides to start a blog. He starts it. Then starts it again. Wonders why anyone would read his blog and begins once more when he and his wife move away from family and friends. The blog becomes a way to keep family up to date on his life.

Then his wife gets pregnant. With twins. And suddenly, he begins find a voice for what he really enjoys writing about. This parenting thing, it turns out, provides some pretty good material for writing. Then, while writing, he finds he isn’t alone. He finds other guys out there who are having children and writing about how fun being a dad is.

But there those dads were few and far between. Mostly, his blog world consisted of the women of the blogosphere. They would come to his blog, leave encouraging comments and make him feel like he belonged. They’d laugh together. They’d cry together. And over time he felt a real kinship with many of the female bloggers he was fortunate enough to interact with.

Then one year, a female blogging conference was held. It was a complete success and people were talking about it all over the place. He thought that was cool. A central place where he could meet some amazing people who he had only known through their blog names. But there’s no way he’d go. It was for women. And he was certainly not a woman.

But then he heard other male bloggers attended subsequent conferences and survived to tell the tale. But still he decided it wasn’t for him. But he really wanted to go.

And then, this year, events unfolded that showed him that these women (and some guys too) weren’t just blog friends, they were real friends. They were friends who could be counted upon during difficult times and for the first time, he felt a need to meet these kind souls. In person. Without pixels and bits getting in the way. So he bought a ticket. Booked a flight. Reserved a hotel room. But he still couldn’t believe he was going.

But now that day is coming. In two days he will board a plane to meet his friends. He will celebrate his 38th birthday with these friends and that seems fitting since they certainly helped him through a very challenging 37th year.

So, the bags will be packed with newly bought clothes. He’ll even have a small part of a panel discussion at the conference but the most important thing will to look friends in the eye who have been so generous and say, “Thank you.”

BlogHer. BlogHim. BlogUs.

July 16, 2009

101 Words of Wisdom (21-40)

    21. Thank your teachers. They laid the foundation to your future success.
    22. Learn to play a musical instrument. Everyone wishes they knew how to play the piano or the guitar.
    23. Maintain your car. Change the oil, rotate the tires, get scheduled tune-ups. Your car will last much longer.
    24. Don’t let fear stand in the way of your dreams. Fear is a wasted emotion.
    25. Learn to say “I’m sorry.” Apologizing helps make it better.
    26. Find a mentor. If someone is where you want to be, seek that person out and learn.
    27. Learn CPR and First Aid. You never know when you could need it.
    28. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Be confident in that others brilliance shines brightly on you.
    29. There is no such thing as “get rich quick.” Success comes from talent and hard work. Period.
    30. Become an organ donor. Your last gift will save others.
    31. Always make sure you take time for yourself. You can’t give to others when your tank is on empty.
    32. At work, dress for the next position you want. If you look like you belong, superiors will take notice.
    33. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Correct injustices when you encounter them.
    34. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You can count on the fact that 10 years from now you will laugh at your current hairstyle and clothes.
    35. Love with abandon. Holding back when in love doesn’t honor how rare love can be.
    36. Give blood regularly. Every blood donation can help three others.
    37. If someone offers you a breath mint, take it. There might be a reason it’s being offered.
    38. Be humble. Nobody falls harder than the one who thinks he can’t fall.
    39. Admit when you’re wrong. It certainly won’t be the last time so get used to it.
    40. Don’t assume. It only makes an ass out of you and… well, just you.

July 11, 2009

101 Words of Wisdom (1-20)

In a week and a half I’ll be 38 years old. I like this age. I’m old enough to have gained some experience but not too old so that I can’t benefit from that experience. And, as I think of all I’ve learned, I realize that I want to pass some of this wisdom down to my children. So over the next few weeks I plan on completing 101 Words of Wisdom for my children.

  1. Say “Please” and “Thank you.” Being grateful for what comes your way will keep you grounded.
  2. Honor your elders. They paved the way for all that you have today.
  3. Always include time for exercise in your life. In the end, your health is all you have.
  4. Don’t waste time worrying about what others think. A very wise Doctor once said, “Those who mind, don’t matter. And those that matter, don’t mind.” (Dr. Seuss)
  5. Eat sweets in moderation. Short-term pleasure doesn’t out weigh long-term consequences.
  6. Be generous with compliments. They are the real currency of life.
  7. Don’t worry about money. Never spend what you don’t have and you’ll be fine.
  8. Plan for the future. Learn to balance short-term and long-term goals.
  9. Laugh often. Nothing is more therapeutic than laughing out loud.
  10. When meeting someone for the first time, always stand and shake their hand. First impressions count.
  11. Never let anything come between you and your sibling. Family bonds will see you through the toughest of times.
  12. Give to charity. Devoting Time, Treasure or Talent in helping others less fortunate is a great reward.
  13. Never stop learning. When you think you know it all, you don’t.
  14. Take time to play with kids. They keep you young.
  15. Learn to write well. The power of the written word can topple regimes and warm hearts.
  16. Always use your turn signal. It’s like saying “excuse me” when stepping in front of someone.
  17. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your integrity is one of your most important assets.
  18. Eat a piece of fresh fruit once a day. If you’re living in California, you have no excuse.
  19. Call your mother. She worries about you.
  20. Call your father. He misses you when you’re not around

July 10, 2009

The tale of two toothbrushes

When you have twins and watch two children grow up simultaneously it’s inevitable that comparisons will be made. Swee’Pea and TheMonk are no different. While both enjoy a good laugh and both enjoy a good poo poo joke, their differences are often what amaze me the most.

As they have transitioned from baby to toddler to pre-schooler, their interests have diverged in some pretty interesting ways. Swee’Pea for example is a total girl. She loves lipgloss, nail polish, pretty bows, pink dresses and worms. (Okay, maybe not TOTAL girl but she’s pretty far along the girls spectrum.)

TheMonk, on the other hand is all boy. He loves cars, trains, wrestling, playing in the dirt and dressing up Barbie. (What can I say? He likes to put a hot girls clothes ON rather than take them off. Pretty sure that might change in the future.)

Personality-wise they are almost night and day. I like to call TheMonk “The Mayor” because he will work a room faster than Bill Clinton at BlogHer. Swee’Pea, on the other hand, is Ms. Shy. She sits back and takes it all in and will only fully engage when she’s completely comfortable.

When they eat, Swee’Pea always uses a fork or spoon, held correctly, and has even taken to wiping her mouth with a napkin. TheMonk slops food towards his open mouth, many times missing the mark, and eschews silverware almost entirely. The dude has even been known to eat ice cream with his bare hands.

But the biggest difference is the way both look at the world. TheMonk is laid back, interested, asks lots of questions and wants to please others. Swee’Pea, on the other hand, seems to care very little about pleasing others. She is also less inquisitive, struggles for perfection (which can be a hard thing for a four year old) and is very, very, very stubborn.

In fact, if there is one image that I can show you that best captures the personality of both Swee’Pea and TheMonk simultaneously, I give you Exhibit A:

Tale of two toothbrushes

Even if you didn’t go by color, Swee’Pea’s toothbrush, on the left, would be easy to spot. The girl’s a grinder. She wants to get it right and will go to great lengths to make sure she does. TheMonk? Eh. He could care less.

July 6, 2009

Whoever smelt it dealt it is what I always say

Being a parent is hard work. No one tells you that when you tell someone you want to have kids. Personally, I think it’s a conspiracy to encourage people to have kids that are more messed up than our own. You know, to improve our kids’ chances of getting into college.

The hardest part of parenting, for me, is being consistent with rules and consequences. It’s hard but it’s really the only way your kids will not grow up to be whiny little brats on some reality television series. Trust me on this. So if the rule for hitting is a timeout, then they get a timeout. If the rule for whining is they have to watch an hour of baseball, then dammit, follow through.

The second hardest part of parenting is the whole “Tell the truth, don’t tell lies” thing. If there is a grayer area in the code of parenting (nay, life) I don’t know what it is. If someone asks, “How do I look?” kids will tell you exactly how you look. They need to learn a certain decorum that will keep them from getting hit/slapped/sent to sleep on the couch. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

But it’s a fine line, I tell you. For example, this one has literally kept me up at nights with its delicate nature…

When either Swee’Pea or TheMonk farts, do I a) ask them to say “excuse me.” or b) teach them to blame their sibling? Answer A would be the socially acceptable answer. Answer B would be the one that would make me giggle more.

OK, maybe that one’s not so tough after all.


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