On Diet Coke

There was a point in my life when I would have placed people who drank Diet Coke into one of two categories; one would have been incompetent calorie counters and the other would have been old people. It was the concept of Diet Coke that offended me, its selling point was great taste AND fewer calories, and at that point in time the saccharine sweetness was beyond my understanding. As far as the fewer calories were concerned, I didn’t see how that mattered when everyone I knew who drank Diet Coke consumed it in liter quantities daily.

However, I’ve grown to appreciate things I used to ridicule as a child; things like, quiet evenings, jazz music, foreign film, a nice salad, light beer, and Diet Cokes.

Without any pretense, Sold Out flashed when I pushed the button for Coke on the vending machine. The machine belched out my consolation prize, a watered down version of The Real Thing masquerading as something more in a silver can. But the taste didn’t offend me like it used to, something like a fully carbonated flat soda, Diet Coke was speaking a language my more mature, greying palate understood. Not really sure what was being said, but I liked it.

My Right Thumb

My right thumb smells like poop, which is odd because I took a shower less than 45 minutes earlier and I haven’t changed a diaper since the shower. I only noticed it while sitting at a red light, I bit my thumb (yes, the right one) out of the anxiety that comes with morning traffic and noticed a familiar scent of stale poop.

I was a confused a bit, because how does one complete a shower with their hands still smelling like poop? Don’t your hands automatically become clean through direct contact with the soap? If you use shower gel, (which I do btw, Dove for Men holla at me for some sponsorship) doesn’t the lather from the loofah clean your hands by proxy? Even still, I’m pretty certain I wash my hands in the shower. Matters not that I can’t recall specifically doing so this morning, I’d like to give myself the benefit of the doubt in this instance.

Personal hygiene aside, I recalled a possible source for the poop smell on my fingers. Before I walked out of the door this morning, I gathered up the latest batch of dirty diapers yet to be thrown out, and threw them in the garbage can outside. Questions possibly running through your mind right now: How old are the triplets right now? Shouldn’t they be potty trained by now? What is your current system of disposing of dirty diapers? All valid questions, and I’ll address only two of them just to spare you the dirty details of diaper disposal in my house.

Right now, the triplets are three years old, and yes they should be potty trained by now. I could say that we’ve actively begun potty training them, but that would only apply if we expanded the definition of potty training to mean putting them in diapers and changing them business as usual. As one half of the parenting unit, I will defer from blaming the other half (which is a useful and favorite tactic of mine) and shoulder the blame for their lack of development in this crucial milestone.

It’s a slight source of shame for me, as I can not tell anyone that my children were potty trained at a young age. Those of you who have kids, or are familiar with the milestone checklist game parents like to play, know that bragging on how early your kids can crawl, walk, talk, feed themselves, run a boston in spades is all a part of making the other parent and their poor child they’ve birthed, wear the proper amount of inferiority when addressing you. I have no status in this arena, my youngest set of children are not yet potty trained.

One of my lovely aunts recently visited our house to drop off some items for Easter. We chatted a bit, discussed several different things, and then she asked whether or not the triplets were potty trained yet. I said no, and made efforts to indicate that poor parenting prevented the kids from this milestone as opposed to the lack of understanding by the trips. This served both as an admission and a move to disarm the possible lecture on why I wasn’t doing more to make the triplets handle their business on the toilet. We laughed about it, and she offered some helpful suggestions: try one at a time, show them potty training videos, some other stuff that I’m sure was great advice but have since forgotten.

Still, spring is here, and the babies were born in August, this ‘just turned three’ business wasn’t a good excuse when it was true. Now, it’s just an unfortunate manifestation of the unique kind of laziness the wife and I have developed over the years, a sorry excuse for a sorry excuse if you can figure out what that means. If this post were a poorly executed metaphor, it would be an emo teenaged suicide attempt, complete with excessive eyeliner and The Cure playing in the background. A cry for help if you will; one of those if you know me (or my wife), and you see me in the streets, ask me how the potty training is going. They say it takes a village…plus, this shit, has got to stop.

Place Holder

I’m only posting this to make sure my blog has at least one post for the month of March. It’s cheating, but whatever; this is another snippet of the essay I wrote in a workshop. Maybe next month.

It was in the literal haze of one cool crisp morning that I found myself touching down at some archipelago of soccer fields right before dawn one Saturday. My oldest daughter and I, were the first ones from our soccer team to arrive. The fluorescent flood lights gave the morning fog a pleasant, but eery effect. There’s something about driving almost an hour to some hick suburb, at the crack of dawn, to watch your daughter play soccer all day with people who were nice enough, but I can barely tolerate, had me questioning all of my life choices.

Untitled. (I Didn’t Feel Like Thinking of One)

After years of waiting, no one came – Thom Yorke

Way back when, when the best years of my life were still thought to be in the not so distant future, anything seemed possible. The Rolling Stones were some old jokers even back then, and hearing them sing about how time was on their side, I thought time was going to be a friend to me too, well, at least be on my side or something. Little Orphan Annie was in on the time is your friend thing too. She sang about tomorrow, with all of this expectation and energy, and how she loved it, and it was only a day away. Things seemed possible, never mind the fact that I didn’t have any solid plan or any hint of one. Great songs do that, communicate an idea so effectively that you almost forget that, that beautiful and sunny tomorrow that Annie so deeply loved, will most likely be as shitty as today.

Today, tomorrow, the next day, they start to look and feel the same after a while. I wasn’t unlike most people who thought they could grab the world by the tail and do what I wanted. I did things my own way and I did them at my own pace. My pace, despite a relatively consistent punctuality, could be characterized, as one job performance review put it, lacking urgency. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans right? The plans, ideas, and dreams that I once held so closely, and thought so much about, sat in Father Time’s waiting room, hoping to get cleared to participate in the big dance.

A Day In the Life, November 28th, 2012 (pt. 2)

4:30 p.m. – Arrive home. Greet kids, get a rundown of the day from the oldest boy.

4:34 p.m. – Start a pot of boiling water for spaghetti, and begin to reheat the sauce.

4:55 p.m. – Change three diapers. Curse myself for not having the trips potty trained by now.

5:05 p.m. – Locate and wash, the as of yet, unused potties.

5:10 p.m. – Minor heart droppage as I witness The Rose, power through the last container of Strawberry and Banana Chobani that I bought earlier that morning.

5:12 p.m. – Drop the spaghetti noodles.

5:24 p.m. – Strain and then toss noodles with a little olive oil.

5:33 p.m. – Feed the triplets and The Rose. Call oldest son down to eat, but no formal response was received.

5:35 p.m. – Feed myself. It’s a joyless task at this point, but the sauce is pretty good. Minor sadness regarding the fact that I didn’t get any garlic bread on the way home.

6:15 p.m. – Wife arrives with daughter from basketball practice. We exchange grunts of displeasure regarding our day and keep it moving. The oldest daughter efficiently responds to questions about her day with equal parts displeasure and derision with one word answers.

6:25 p.m. – Call the oldest boy down from his 45 minute grooming process in order to shuttle the lad to night school.

7:05 p.m. – May or may not have cried in the driveway.

7:06 p.m. – Unlocks back door, makes reluctant return to home.

It’s around here that I unofficially, stopped writing everything down. The combination of the day coming to a close, physical and mental fatigue, and the tedium involved in cataloguing the day, had kind of, organically faded away. Not much was missed though. At 8:30 p.m., I leave to retrieve my son, but before that, I witness either The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, or the Charlie Brown Christmas special with the trips. By the time I get back home, I’m putting heads to bed. Putting the babies to bed ends somewhere around 9:45 p.m. and sometimes (depending on how defiant they are) 10:30 p.m. It’s at this point, that I might actually try and complete something that I want to do. Usually, I go for low hanging fruit, like watching some television. Cut to three hours later, being awakened by loud sounds from the television and the lights still being on. It’s at this point, after I’ve checked the clock, that I realize that the next time the alarm goes off will be in 3.5 hours and I wonder, “How did I get to this wash, rinse, repeat phase in my life?”. More importantly, how can I stop it?

Touch of Gray

I turned 40 a little more than six months ago. Save the party that was thrown for me, the actual turning of 40 was a non-event. The emotional hand wringing, increased levels of depression, and other forms of anxiety surrounding the dull act of growing older had inexplicably come and gone at 35.

That aside, my first signs of gray started appearing in my mid thirties. I rationalized this early autumnal change in hair color, with the explanation that I possess an unusually high intelligence and maturity level for a man my age, and obviously I needed to look the part. Never mind the fact that I was coming to a point where I would soon have more birthdays under my belt than I had inches in my waistline, I sometimes lie to myself to keep the self-esteem inappropriately high.

Since I turned 40, it seemed like everybody and their mother had something to say about the changing color scheme on my head. Everywhere I turned, “Man! You’ve got a lot of gray!” or “You’re started look old buddy!”, were being tossed my way with reckless abandon. I began to wonder whether or not I was grayer than I actually was. Maybe the gray got grayer once you’d crossed into your 40’s? Maybe there was an unwritten rule that stated that friends, family and acquaintances could just ‘go in’ on your gray? I started to wonder.

The amount of gray on my head didn’t bother me, but what did bother me was this sudden chatter that I should do something about it. Earnest suggestions, that I dye my hair with Just For Men, were affirmed with head nods from my friends while they gazed with pity at this ash ridden domepiece. I always responded that I would never do it, but, maybe it was time to concede to the will of the people.

My vanity is not to be underestimated. These people with their silly cosmetic suggestions were fools! No self-respecting man dyes his hair! I’m not trying to look younger at all. The only thing I need from my youth is my metabolism and my fast twitch muscle response. Otherwise, sing Fun’s “We Are Young” all you want, I don’t mind aging at all, I think I still look good.

Tough Love (my three sons)

Until recently I had one son.  One son who for better or worse has learned, both directly and indirectly from me what it will mean to be a man.  God bless that boy, because while I don’t consider myself a total bustout, I don’t consider myself a total success either.  Since I was the oldest, my mother and father were not above telling me that they were learning as they went.  I feel like that with my oldest son… and I guess this is both an apology and an explanation.

But that aside, any father with a spine running down his back wants to give his children things to prepare them for this world.  For that matter, any father with a spine running down his back wants to make certain that his son is prepared for this world.  As a father, I want my son(s) to do whatever they want in this world.

I inserted that clip at the top because around the three to four minute mark that father and son have a moment.  It is I guess, the apology and the explanation.

They call it tough love.  If applied properly it can motivate, nurture and teach your child without coddling them.  If applied improperly, it can be hurtful, isolating, and destroy your child’s spirit before you realize the damage you have inflicted.  And knowing that risk, a man will risk the down side of child rearing to separate his own weaknesses from his children.  Recognizing your shortcomings in  your children is frustrating to say the least.  Correcting your shortcomings in your children without damaging them is something like a rebirth of self.  But more importantly it is building your children to be a better whatever it is they want to be.  The family DNA re-engineered and improved upon.  The lesson gets passed on to the next generation, and so on and so on and so on (son).  Money is not what we seek…we just want to be…beautiful and free.