Tag Archives: Journal

Life this Week and 8 More Possessions

14 Feb

Here are some of the “goings on” this week.

Last night Sammie somehow squeezed into a small cardboard box full of clean socks and two of my jackets (looks like a pair of underwear too). She’s famous for occasionally finding hilarious spots to nap.

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We have a Blendtec “Total” Blender, a superhero kitchen appliance with a price that will make you sick to your stomach, which is kind of happening to me right now. I don’t remember paying $500 for ours. I think it was more like $400. Anyway, we use it almost daily. The digital screen keeps track of how many times it’s been used. We’re over 1,500. This month I added a Twister Jar, and I produced the almond and peanut butter pictured below. I added cocoa powder to the peanut butter on the right.

I went from a cup of almonds to creamy almond butter in 40 seconds thanks to the twister lid. While blending you twist the lid and it keeps your ingredients scraped from the sides of the blender.

Seriously, if you want to change your nutritional life, buy a Blendtec or a Vita-Mix.
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On Tuesday I turned on the wrong burner, so instead of heating pasta sauce I melted a container of chickpeas and filled the house with toxic fumes. The beans you see below are stewing in a puddle of melted plastic. Luckily, when it cooled, it peeled off cleanly.

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The next photo I added to show “the world” how amazing we are that we have a fridge full of healthy fruits and vegetables. Are you impressed? I would love to see what’s in your refrigerator. Ten years ago a photo of my fridge would have been much different, containing very little except cow milk, soda, ketchup, pickles and maybe leftover SpaghettiOs (Ick!). The only thing I see that isn’t healthy is a package of cheese tortellini that the kids demand once every couple of weeks and two small pizza crusts under the head of cabbage.

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After taking pics of Sammie in the box, Ainsley took some self-portraits.

AinsleyMonday before school I shoved some poly stuffing into Trouble’s collar. As you can see, Ainsley wasn’t impressed. I, however, found it hilarious.

TroubleTheGrayCat

I’m still counting my stuff. See here and here. This is next to where I sleep. See photo below.

11. Alarm clock that looks like a phone.

12. Charger cord – Fits our four phones, four tablets, and three Kindles.

13. Ikea lamp

14. Marpac Dohm Sound Conditioner – I don’t think I can sleep without it.

15. Bedroom eyeglasses – You can barely see them in the pic.

16. Kindle Paperwhite e-reader – Maybe my favorite possession.

17. Google Nexus 7 tablet – Not far behind.

18. Table.

I’m not counting the cases because they nest. The way I look at it, if I were moving my stuff from one residence to another, it would be one bundled item. Consumables like facial tissues don’t count.

Bedside

A Dive into Dysthymia and the State of my Earlobes

18 Sep

dys·thy·mi·a

noun /disˈTHīmēə/

  1. Persistent mild depression

Last week suuucked. It was a no-good rotten bad week. Most of it anyway.

Not tragedy bad. No cancer diagnoses. No pet deaths. I didn’t crush my head on the corner of an open kitchen cabinet door after knocking around underneath for some obscure, dusty baking pan. (Jennifer and I are keeping score on how many times this happens to us. Lately, she’s winning, cracking her noggin at least two times since the last time I have.) Yeah, last week I just felt icky and tired and worthless.

I often lose my grasp on what life’s all about. Should I be something more? Something better? I often forget that raising two girls is a tremendous feat in itself. I’m there for them when they climb onto the school bus and I’m there for them when they climb off. That counts for a lot, but I usually shrug that off and ask myself why I’m not a doctor or a lawyer. I have an easy, non-stressful, part-time, online business that inexplicably brings me no pride or sense of accomplishment. I look at my bachelor’s degree and wonder why I don’t have a master’s. (But then when I consider grad school, I tell myself I shouldn’t be spending money on my education when Chloe will be a college freshman in six years.) More than half of Americans are overweight. Yet, I look at my own slender body and wonder why my abs aren’t more defined. I jog three miles and curse at how long it took me.

Forgive the incongruity, but I also noticed this week how much my earlobes have aged. If the rest of my body looked like my earlobes you’d think I was ready for the grave. My left earlobe , pierced 21 years ago, is especially sad. I’m touching it now. Here in Starbucks, I’ll probably look at it later in the restroom. Just call me “sad ears.” Just kidding, please don’t. Seriously, I’ll punch you.

Look at your own place in life and be thankful if you’re consistently comfortable with what you find. It’s all too common in this ultra-competitive, individualistic country to feel like you’re falling behind.

The simple act of writing it down helps. It helps me see how I ignore the positive and dwell on perceived negatives. It’s helpful to notice my mind at work destroying myself. When I’m not aware of this self-destruction I believe what I’m thinking. Don’t believe everything you think! So I draw wide-open eyeballs on my left hand with words like “watch,” “notice” or “breathe.”

Next week I’ll probably be dancing in front of the mirror singing “I’m sexy and I know it.” I’ll notice the tiny strength gains and the fifteen seconds shaved from my 5k time. I’ll realize my current education is adequate and that I can still go back to school at any age if I want. That’s how I roll, like a roller coaster: up one week, down the next.

And my earlobes–not so bad, really. I can’t expect to look at my reflection and see the earlobes of a 12-year-old. Right? I have 40-year-old earlobes. They’ve done a lot of hanging around there on the sides of my face, doing nothing at all. How many people put sunscreen on their earlobes? Actually, I do now. Maybe when I’m 75, I’ll have sexy, young-looking earlobes. “Oh my God, did you see that old man’s sexy earlobes?”

* * *

Update: I wrote all of the above over the weekend, Saturday or Sunday. Monday morning I thought I was prepared for an awesome week, but as soon as the second child walked into her school and I was left alone, I felt empty and overwhelmed. I had so much to do, but couldn’t do anything. It all seemed meaningless anyway. Why work on the business? Money doesn’t make me happy. Why write? It doesn’t contribute to the bank account. Why exercise? It’s hard, boring and probably fruitless. Why clean? Everything gets filthy again. Why read the newspaper? Will knowledge of current events improve my life? Who knows. So I took a nap. For an hour and a half I didn’t have to face these questions.

I know the solution though. It’s to face the questions and do the work anyway. Push through it. Usually everything magically feels better once I get started on … anything. So that’s what I’m going to do today–push through it. Good luck to me.

My Sister Went to Vegas and All I Got Was a PooPen

20 Jul

Ah, but her gift was more than the physical item; she presented on a platter an excuse to write about two of my passions: poop and pens. One I seem to unknowingly collect and stash in my various backpacks and messenger bags, the other shows up unexpected and unwanted in various places about the house from the ass of one of our two dogs. (Hint on which is which: I don’t stash turds in my bags.) Well, until now. And don’t ask to borrow my crappy pen. Get Your Own!

Of course I gave my PooPen a good sniff when we rescued it from it’s plastic and cardboard prison. From looking at the packaging, I expected the PooPen to smell like shit, but it smells like rubber. It feels like rubber too and doesn’t stick to my fingers like real poop. So … that’s good.

I guess the cartoon dude hates the smell of rubber because he’s crying and holding onto his gargantuan nose. Or maybe he’s crying because his cartoon hair looks like french fries.

I had barely lowered the PooPen from my average-sized snozzle when my daughter discovered real shit on the dining room floor. Daddy, someone pooped in here!

So I did what I always do when someone poops on the floor: I grabbed a camera and got all Ansel Adams on that shit.

Now it’s time for a game. With prizes! Look at the above photo. One of the three turds is actually a PooPen. (Hint: It’s not the turd that’s trying to be something it’s not, like some cool newly discovered animal that looks a little like a horse.)

(Last hint: It’s not the turd that wants to be a seahorse.)

Time’s up! Nope. Stop it. Too late. You lost. No prizes. Damn I thought it was an easy game. Here’s the one you should have picked:

Whoa, did this post just get all political? Am I insinuating that Mitt Romney’s head would make a good PooPen topper? Not at all. In fact, this is pretty much my view of our political system:

The Republicans and Democrats are just opposite ends of the same turd. But here’s where it gets really weird. I did a little Googling (“drone-prone world leaders writing with cool romney turd pens”) and found a single image: dolly-pawed President Obama penning a new diary entry.

7/20/12

Dear Diary,

Well, shit. Day 3 and still no Liquid Ass. Ordered it on freakin Wednesday. Out of stock? Would hope hahaprank would let me know. What a stupid name, hahaprank. Romney pen cool though. Smooth. Little smudgy. Smells like rubber. Why does rubber smell like rubber? Will have to look up. Need to work Batman shooting into campaign speech. Sensitive. Can’t stop thinking about liquid ass delay. No good rotten morning in Florida. Humid. Balls sweating like sob.

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

9 Jun

I love bags. Last night, my wife laughed at my new one. She said it was a girl’s purse. I called it a wristlet. Then she laughed because I knew it was called a wristlet. I said “What would you call it if it was shoved up your ass?”

I have two primary bags, a large Swiss Army backpack and a medium Timbuk2 messenger back. Lately, I’ve been using the backpack because it’s large enough to carry an 11.6 inch laptop. When I’m not leaving home seven mornings a week seeking out coffee and Wi-Fi, I switch to the smaller bag.

Here’s what’s in my bag today:

  • computer & mouse
  • Kindle Touch
  • cellphone
  • small baggie holding mixture of sweeteners (XyloSweet, stevia, and coconut palm sugar)
  • plastic spoon
  • coffee mug
  • small notebook
  • medium notebook
  • magazine (The New Yorker)
  • toothbrush + toothbrush holder
  • iPod + earbuds
  • wallet
  • YMCA membership card
  • lip stuff + Germ-ex + lotion
  • six pens, including a black Pilot G2-mini
  • a salad in a large glass lidded bowl
  • large water bottle
  • small plastic cup with lid holding five brazil nuts, two dates, and a small piece of 100% chocolate
  • small bag of carob powder
  • camera
  • keys
  • wristlet (the subject of this post)

When I’m done “working,” and I need to run into a grocery store or Target … anywhere, I don’t need to carry all that crap, but I need some of it: pen, small notebook, phone, keys, and wallet. The medium bag is too big, the big bag is way too big.

So a couple of weeks ago I found myself in Target slinking through the summer hat/floofy scarf/purse department. I tried out a green “cross body” bag. It would almost work. I put it back, walked around the corner and discovered a smaller breed of chick bags.

I found a small, black, non-leather, tasseled bag with a small strap clipped to it. The tag told me it was a wristlet. I stood there studying it wondering what I could do to de-feminize it. Obviously, the tassels. And then I thought I could paint something tough on it, like a skull or gun. I imagined myself carrying it around, wondering if it would cause anxiety, wondering if some ass-hat would whisper to his wife “Hey, it looks like that dude’s been in your closet.”

Of course, I could stick to my pant pockets for such a small number of items, but I don’t like to feel all bulgy and droopy. I feel like the weight is going to leave me standing with exposed boxers.

Yesterday was the big test: a trip to Target with Ainsley to get some almond milk and avocados. In the parking lot I dug the wristlet from the depths of my backpack and transferred the necessities into it. I put the wristlet in the cart. But when it was finally time to swipe the debit card, my hand trembled imperceptibly as I felt the eyes of the checker and the young mother waiting behind us. I fumbled around trying to shove some bills and the receipt into my wallet, and then both my wallet and some coins into my wristlet. Then coins went into a special slot. Somewhere deep down, I was impressed with the functionality, but closer to the surface I was trying to remember where I put the receipt.

But I’m keeping it. One of the keys to a happy life is to not give a shit what other people think.

People Watching (Why You Don’t Want Me Jogging in Your Neighborhood)

22 May

Common question asked while people watching: “Did you see that?”

Have you ever sat in a crowded place and just watched people? Of course you have. I think “people watching” is a common enough activity. I would go so far to call it unavoidable. If you ever go to a department store–a Walmart–you must be doing a little of it. I can do while pushing a cart; I’ll even stop and feign interest in bath mats if I hear something striking coming from an interesting face.

It’s enough time to create a tiny snapshot of people’s lives, no more than prejudices and stereotypes. When I see a mom unabashedly yelling at or spanking her kid, I shudder thinking about how she disciplines at home. I see families that look like they just climbed out of a dumpster and wonder what their house looks like. I see beautiful people and wonder if they live beautiful lives.

An extension of my love for people watching is actually discovering how people spend their time. I would love to grab an interesting-looking person on the street and ask “What are you all about?” Obviously, I don’t mean literally “grab” them–that’s against the law and could get you killed–but just talk to people. Sadly, I’m not one of those people who can approach strange people. Everyone seems so busy. And if I find myself in a conversation started by a stranger, I’m not able to ask such personal questions. Instead of probing, I end up being probed, which is uncomfortable.

Generally, I have to rely on the written word or television for glimpses to the inside. Though I rarely watch them anymore, I’m fascinated with shows about addiction and mental illness. I like Hoarders and Intervention, but the latter scares the crap out of me. A whole section of this addiction show is reserved to remind us that it can happen to anyone. She was such a happy baby. Maybe that’s why reality shows are so popular: our fascination with what’s going on behind the curtains.

When I jog at night by a house with unblocked windows I can’t make myself not look. What’s going on in there? Are these people happy? Miserable? Is there an alcoholic living there? Is someone dying from cancer?

My wife makes sure our shades are drawn at night. I tend to leave them open. What would people see in our house? Maybe me reading or cleaning up after the kids. They would see kids running, jumping, fighting, dancing. In the warm months, they would hear the sounds of kids and dogs–thuds, barking, screams, crying. They might hear music.

That’s boring, common stuff. It’s what you’d expect to see. The juicy stuff isn’t visible from the window. It’s in histories, sad stories untold, hidden feelings, dark thoughts, tense conversations in inner rooms.

I like to think that every house on our block contains a fascinating story, enough to fill a book I’d read. That’s every house on your block too. And your house. And of course mine.

No more forking around!

10 Feb

I’ve been thinking about taking some classes, maybe towards a philosophy degree. Who knows. Like usual, I’m conflicted. I can’t make a decision.

Here’s what happened.

I was driving along last summer, content, singing to Bohemian Rhapsody, car dancing, and I came upon a fork in the road, so I pulled over. The road split into four. (How many two-tined forks do you own?) Each road had a sign:

  1. Go back to school
  2. Get a “real” job
  3. Write (seriously)
  4. The road you’ve been traveling for years.

It’s now February and I’m still sitting in the car staring at the signs. My battery’s dead, I’m shivering cold, and I have to pee.

Yeah, that’s about it.

Okay, now I’m out of the car, walking.

Let’s see, to stay on the same path would be the easiest. It’s comfortable. I’m used to it. But it might be time to challenge myself, shake it up, take some risks.

My past attempts to focus on writing were disastrous. It takes mere days to feel myself falling into depression as I struggle with self-doubt. I have thoughts of meeting my end like Edgar Allan Poe. I’d be found in downtown Edwardsville, delirious, before dying in a local hospital. The only difference: he was a writer, and I’m, well, not.

School sounds attractive right now until I think about student loans, homework, and, of course, the whole “social anxiety” issue. I guess it’s the idea of having a master’s degree that’s attractive, but I have doubts I can sustain that kind of commitment. I’m comforted by a plasterer who told me his sister completed–completed!–medical school only to decide medicine wasn’t for her.

Well, how about the road to a full-time job? Not yet. The little one is in first grade. I’d rather wait a few of years before taking on something that would keep me away from home upwards of ten hours a day. When I’m old and gray I’ll look back fondly on being around for the girls after school, greeting them off the bus, asking about their day, etc.

<sigh>

I’m just going to pee on this bush, put on my heavy coat, crouch down under this big tree and think about it a bit longer.

Thinking About my Thoughts About my Shoes (huh?)

17 Jan

I’m writing about shoes today. After I wrote the following and read over it, it dawned on me why I can’t focus. I think too much. Just a glimpse into my head.

*

I love these shoes. I bought them on sale two years ago at Payless, probably as part of a BOGO (buy one, get one half off). They’re kind of dressy, but they’re not dress shoes; I can slip into them without sitting or bending, but they’re not slippers; and they’re comfortable enough to wear all day, but they’re not hideous looking like my beloved Crocs.

If I could snap my fingers to call forth all my adult-life shoes in a pile here in front of me, I could put them in order from best to worst. This pair would be in the top ten, maybe top five.

I’ve noticed some recent wear though: little white threads poking from the seams, a few more creases on top, worn down tread on the bottom. I found myself wondering how much life is left in them and how I’ll eventually set them free; will I toss them in the trash or drop them off to be re-sold in a Goodwill store?

Last week on a rainy morning as I walked from the car to the bookstore, I felt water on the bottom of my left foot. Sure, the parking lot was wet, but it wasn’t like I was skipping through deep puddles. Immediately I stopped and inspected the area between the upper and lower expecting to see a flaw. It looked fine, but my sock was definitely wet. I thought of a painless cut, leaking blood: wet from the inside out.

Later I was sipping coffee and writing, enjoying a productive stretch without distracting thoughts. But then I remembered the earlier shoe problem, so I put my pen down and looked at the bottom of the shoe. And there it was–plain to see with the shoe bent, not so apparent flat–a crack in the rubber under my forefoot, all the way across. Ah, man!

In that second I felt the death of a favorite possession, grieving. And the end of writing.

Well, there’s no use to trim those little white threads now. They’re finished. I can’t overlook this crack.

My brain automatically calculates if a purchase was a success or a failure. If an item is a bargain, gets much use, and is able to be recycled, that a clear-cut victory. If I over-pay for something, ignore it, and then toss it, well, that’s a bad purchase.

As I sat there, I thought of other good purchases: a ’98 Honda Accord, a sherpa-lined gray hooded sweatshirt, a pair of Wal-mart jeans.

I thought of other “winning” footwear, like my current Saucony running shoes and a pair of brown Skecher boots from the late 90s.

Then: Are they too far gone now for Goodwill? I don’t want to just toss them.

I imagined a man pulling my old shoes from the shelf, sticking his feet in them, thinking: well, they’re a little worn, but I can trim these white threads. They’re worth three bucks for sure. Of course, without me there to warn him, he would overlook the crack.

And then one day, in the rain, this guy might walk outside and feel that cold shock.

What the?

He would inspect the shoe like I did, finally noticing the flaw. Ah, man!

What if he’s elderly? What if that cold wetness startles him? What if he’s crossing a busy street and it causes him to stumble? What if, God forbid, he falls into the path of a speeding car? Holy shit!

If he survives the wet sock incident, I can see him sitting at home, looking at that crack, wondering: should I throw these away or would someone else be able to use them? Heck, I could still wear them, just not when it’s wet out.

I was staring at my shoes when I looked up and saw that the barista was looking at me. Why is that guy staring at his feet? He looked away. I looked away.

And then I left.