Friday, December 31, 2010

Random Thoughts While Waiting For My Bus

-There sure are a lot of ugly people in this neighborhood

-Why do people in wheelchairs have to have a bus pass? Just let them on!

-This is a bus stop, not your living room..

-...or your bathroom, you pig

-Pull your damn pants up, you scrawny gangsta wannabe

-Ok, THAT guy is *really* ugly!

-What IS that smell, anyway?

-*sniff* Is it me? *sniff*

-No, THAT guy is damned ugly!

-My bus is he- Nope, wrong one

-Wait, am I one of the ugly people in this neighborhood?

-There's my bus! Yay!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's My Age Again?

I turned 40 earlier this month.  This frightens me beyond belief, especially considering I couldn't see past 30 before becoming a dad.  Although I try to ignore it, this scary fact keeps coming back to smack me in the chops.

I feel like 40 came charging at me with a vengeance after being so docile for the last few years.  My late thirties weren't so bad; I may not have had the energy and stamina of my youth, but I still retained my good health and good humor.  I was a SAHD of two wonderful boys.  Perhaps my fourth decade wouldn't be as bad as expected.

Riiiiiight!  (Cue ominous music)

Now I'm dealing with Diabetes, arthritis in my lower back and both hips, high blood pressure and low cholesterol (the good kind).  Add to this a son just entering his teens and a ten-year-old who already stands 5'3" and wears a size 10 1/2 men's shoe.

In short: I am afraid.

Also, there's the writer thing.  I took the moniker Mr. Write both as an inside joke and an inspiration (if that makes sense to you, you're as disturbed as I am).  Since the age of 15, I have seriously considered writing as a profession.  Oh, I'd written before that, plenty of short stories, poems, letters, and, especially, AD&D adventures.  But, until tenth grade, I lacked confidence in my ability.  Then I took a Creative Writing course in high school, and was praised for my words for the first time.  Mr. Edney was a great teacher, and I still think of him whenever sitting down in front of an open notebook or keyboard.

The problem is this: as much as I love writing and desire publication beyond any other pursuit, it still hasn't happened.  No, I'm not going to regale you with anecdotes about a stack of rejection letters.  The problem is still confidence.  I've never sent a single thing out to a publisher, beyond a poem I wrote in third grade for a school project, and the newspaper published EVERYBODY'S poems.

So, here I sit, 40 years old, with a dozen short stories and one unedited novel at my fingertips, and nothing really to show for it.  Hell, most times I sit down to write, I end up on Twitter or Cracked, wasting the day away.  What with homeschooling both boys, working part time and taking care of my share of housework, little time is left for creative pursuits.

What does all this have to do with hitting 40? It just goes to show how my mind wanders so easily at my age, off on weird and only-slightly-related tangents.  Listening to me talk is like trying to guess which way a football is going to bounce next.  Anywho, I've stumbled upon a new group of friends lately, people who share my and My Beloved's interests in books, games and movies.  What troubles me is their age.  All of them are in their 20's to, at the oldest, 30.  How do I relate to them?  Am I that creepy older guy at the movies with all the young people, looked at slantwise and whispered about?  Shit, I hope not!

More than anything, getting older has been pointed out to me by the internet.  Not just because I don't understand half of the memes or pop culture references anymore, or that my ten-year-old can figure out how to fix the computer when I'm left staring at it, slack-jawed.  After blogging and Twittering (I still refuse to use the term "Tweet" in any way not related to little yellow birds) about being a SAHD, I've noticed that most other SAHD either have babies, toddlers or pre-teens.  As I said before, mine are 10 and 13, reminding just how old I am.  Granted, that sometimes makes me cool, like when watching the Star Wars Trilogy (you know, the good one) and knowing all the words by heart, thereby impressing the boys.  OR explaining a cultural reference to something from the 70's or 80's that went over their heads.

Maybe hitting 40 isn't all bad.  It sure beats being a little kid and not being allowed to do anything, or being a teenager with more hormones than self-control and being watched disdainfully by every adult in range.  Even the insecurity and adjustment period of adulthood we all suffer through in our 20's is long a memory.  At least I have My Beloved, Felix and Oscar to cheer up my days.  And all you other hooligans on Twitter and Facebook to give me a grin once in a while.

Yeah, life is good.  As long as I can find the ibuprofen, that is...

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Kind of World?

I think the Fates are trying to tell my wife and I something.

Many years ago, when My Love and I were first married and living in the big city (okay, Pittsburgh), our apartment was robbed while we were at work.  They got the Nintendo, small TV, my GameBoy (this is way, waaayyy back) and our jewelry.  In the jewelry box were not only my wife's engagement ring, but both of our wedding bands.  We both avoided wearing jewelry to our jobs for various reasons, in case anyone was wondering.  Mine would get scratched up on carpet backing, and My Love's hands were constantly dipping into either hot water or food.  Ah, the Good Olde Days.

To make a long story short: we lost the symbols of our marriage.  I know, they were only symbols, but it still hurt.  And, the first couple years of matrimony are the most fragile and unstable, as any married couple will tell you.  It was frightening and a little ominous.  Eventually, we replaced the bands, and the engagement ring (I have yet to find one as beautiful as the original, though).  Life went on.  The trials and tribulations passed us by, clad in the symbolic metal rings of our loving bond.

Fast forward to today.  After hitting the bank (making a withdrawal, not robbing it,) I headed over to the pawn shop.  A couple months ago we hit a financial tough spot and took out a loan against some of our jewelry.  Normally, that's not something I would do, but the guy who runs this place was a real gentleman: friendly, polite, honest, and willing to make allowances and give you a break if you were in a tight spot.  Name another pawn shop that does that.  Hell, name another business that does that.  I've dealt with him on and off for the past few years, and it's always gone well.

The place is Fast Cash Pawn here in Columbus.  I never knew the owner/operator's name.  Due to his thick accent, we always called him The Russian, but privately.  Every time i called or entered his shop, I was greeted with "Hillo, MIS-tear Cuffmin!".  I liked the hell out of this guy, is what I'm getting at.  He had a big safe in the back room, bars on the front wall and door, all the security measures.  And, he had our jewelry.

It was under $100, but most of our "good" stuff was there: including both of our wedding bands and her engagement ring, plus a couple of charms I bought her when each of the boys were born.  Nothing we haven't done before.  Whenever money got tight, I "took a trip to The Russian,", as if it were some desperate act of espionage as opposed to a low-interest loan for a few weeks.  Today, i stopped by to pick up our stuff.  And saw the sign:

"Closed for Business"

Oh, crap.

The Russian was gone?  I'd just been there a month earlier.  Closed?  As I was copying down the phone number on the sign, for those looking r\to retrieve their items, I heard a loud buzz.  Looking up, I saw The Russian and his assistant (also with the same accent) waving me in as they deactivated the lock.  Inside, i got the whole story.

He'd been robbed.  Nine days earlier, someone had broken in through the back door and simply taken the safe away, as well as pocketing a bunch of small electronics.  In a few short minutes, some bastards had wrecked this man's business, his livelihood.  And taken the symbols of My Love and my eternal love.  Again.  At first I was devastated for our loss.  Our wedding bands.  The replacement engagement ring.  The cute little gold charms.  They'd only been out of our sight for a few short weeks.  Now they were gone.

Then it hit me.  Our minor loss was nothing compared to this man's.  AS he explained what happened, this meek, kindly immigrant shop owner expressed a grief I've rarely seen.  Apologizing again and again for our loss, he nearly broke down, wondering aloud what he was going to do now that his livelihood, and much of his retirement, was destroyed.  With all the lost merchandise, he couldn't afford to stay open.  A hardworking man, I'd never been in the shop without seeing him there, working 10-12 hour days.  At 57 years old, the man was starting over.

Someone, some heartless, lazy bastard, had taken the time to plan this, to bust open an honest businessman's livelihood and take an entire SAFE in a matter of minutes.  I work for a living; part-time granted, as I am a full-time SAHD.  My Love works her gorgeous buns off pretty much every day.  Our boys do their share, taking care of chores and the like to make things run more smoothly.  So where did this prick get off taking what wasn't his?  From hardworking people, like us.  Like The Russian.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of world I'm raising my boys in.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Cake is a Lie

I apologize to any readers for the long delay between posts (about two months... a new record!).  Between more hours at work -everybody went on vacation except me- and final exams coming up with the kids' homeschool, I've been occupied.  Besides, those Farmville crops aren't going to harvest themselves, damnit!

Anywho, I mentioned previously my bout with diabetes.  It has now been over three months since I was diagnosed, and things are going very well.  My blood-sugar level went from 250 when I was diagnosed, to under 120 for the past two weeks.  For those not in the know, the average B/S level is 80-120.  And yes, that pun was intended.  Despite the good numbers, the massive weight loss (down at least 35lbs.) and generally feeling pretty damned good, it's still rough.

I hate having to remind myself about my condition on a daily basis.  If checking my b/s every morning and meticulously watching what I eat doesn't do it, I have what I call my "Three Nutritionists" to remind me.  In other words, my wife and kids are my constant watchdogs, barking if I even LOOK at a candy bar.  My youngest, Oscar, turned 10 in March.  My wife made him a cool cake (Pac-Man chasing cupcake ghosts).  Now, I've never been a big fan of cake.  I'd rather, if having sweets at all, gobble down some ice cream or a candy bar.  I think I just mentioned candy bars twice in the same paragraph, haven't I?  Anyway, I hadn't planned on ingesting any of the cake, instead sitting down at the table and having a nice sandwich (on whole grain bread, mind you).  As soon as I sat down with plate in hand, Oscar piped up: "No cake for YOU, Diabetes Boy!"

On one hand, I was shocked and appalled.  On the other, he's rarely made me so proud with his use of biting wit and absurd humor.  I laughed it of and resisted the urge to lick his piece of cake in revenge.

Now, I actually know a lot about nutrition and exercise.  Living from the ages of seven to seventeen morbidly obese, I declared "Enough!".  My senior year of high school saw me going on a very strict diet of my own devising, eating nothing I considered "junk food": sweets, potato chips, pretzels, candy bars (damn you Snickers!  Stop invading my thoughts!), etc.  I worked out with weights and cardio six nights a week.

Then i met my wife.

Dear lord, the woman can cook.  After marrying the love of my life, I started enjoying sweets and chips again, and slacked off the exercising.  Again, the weight piled on.  People often offered advice -mistakenly assuming they were being helpful- about diet and exercise.  I already knew, I just didn't care at the time.  My standard response: "If a priest can be a marriage counselor, a fat guy can know about nutrition,".

Fast forward a few years, and I'm back on the diet again.  I don't miss the sweets or soda, really.  But the crunchies: chips, pretzels, french fries...  *Homer drool*  But, I have my wife and kids to think about.  Diabetes can be a killer, so i have to fight it.  No scrumptious concoction is worth my life.  Now, I'VE become the advice guy, turning the tables on my three nutritionists, pointing out the sugar and fat in the foods they eat in front of me.

Sorry, guys.  But the cake is a lie.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

So Mrs. Write took the kids for haircuts while I was at work last Saturday.  Seeing as they are ages 12 and 9-soon-to-be-10, respectively, this shouldn't be a big deal.  But it was, to them and to me, because Dad didn't cut their hair this time...

For the past few years, I've clipped the boys' locks at home using a trimmer.  Granted, it left them looking like Marines, which is funny considering my hair hangs halfway down my back.  It worked for us, though.  Or so I thought.  Apparently, there has been a Haircut Mutiny going on behind my back.

Oddly enough, it wasn't Felix, my oldest, who complained.  It was Oscar, my nine-year-old, who was quietly asking his Mom if he could go to "the haircut place" next time.  This struck me as weird because Oscar is usually unconcerned about his appearance.  This is the kid who went to Occupational Therapy sans socks a couple weeks ago; you know, the place where he has to TAKE HIS SHOES OFF to work out on the mat.  This is the boy who would go shirtless everywhere if he could.  The boy who walks around with his buttcrack popping out of the top of his pants constantly.

Suddenly, he's concerned about his appearance.  Well, his hair, anyway.  He's still sockless, shirtless and pro-buttcrack most of the time.  But, this seemed important to him.  Felix, ever the follower type, wanted to go along with his little brother.  So, I acquiesced.  Mrs. Write pointed out that it would be less work for me, that I wouldn't have to put up with a squirming Oscar or sweep up the mound of hair left over.

Then why am I so disappointed?  Why do I miss what was basically an unpleasant chore?  Do I have to turn in my Man Card for wanting to trim my kids' hair so bad I ache a little watching them go to someone else?

Oh well.  I have to admit, the stylist did a good job.  Of course, I'll bet she didn't give them a super hug afterwards.  Loser.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Well, there goes Ice Cream Saturdays...

Usually, my blog posts (few and far between as they are) focus on my family life, kids, Mrs. Write, or the trials and joys of being a Stay-at-Home-Dad/homeschool coach/amateur author/Interdimensional Assassin/etc. They tend to be tongue-in-cheek and mirthful, with the occasional angry rant. Today, I'm going to be serious.

A week ago today, I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.  It came as a shock.  Granted, I am a rather overweight man pushing 40; but, you know how men are.  I rarely think about my age unless something brings it up: a flare of pain from my bad hip, finding it hard to stand up from crouching due to my knees (from working in a carpet store years ago), my class song playing on the "Classic Rock" station, etc.  Like most men, I still saw myself as young-ish, a vague sense of existing between twenty-five to thirty-five.

A little backstory: I rarely go to the doctor.  S/he never has good news, and it always boils down to "The Talk" about my weight, diet and lack of exercise.  I used to have a strict diet and workout regimen, and was in great shape.  But, like the fuzzy-age thing, I forget that this was about 16 years ago.  Not coincidentally, when I met my wife. (She's a great cook).  I also donated plasma once a week, both for a little extra pocket money and for the good that it can do.  I haven't done so in a couple months, as I was informed there was some sugar in my urine.

Cue to November, when Mrs. Write, upon hearing this news, makes an appointment with her doctor for me.  As if I wouldn't do it myself (I wouldn't).  Influenced by her constant nagging loving concern, I went.  Got to endure "The Talk", scheduled blood tests, the whole nine yards.  Of course, it took renewed nagging threats of violence enduring compassion from my wife to make me actually get the tests done.  Last week, the results came in.  Normal blood sugar levels are 80-120, mine was 250.  I have Diabetes.  Now, I've struggled with depression most of my life.  With a little pharmaceutical help, courtesy of the same doctor, it is under control.  The weekend after I got "The News", I spiraled down.  I doubt my family ever realized how close I came to giving up.  Around them it was all smiles and sunshine, showing an upbeat we-can-beat-this-together attitude.  When Mrs. Write took the kids out Sunday evening so Dad could relax, I finished off a bag of cookies, half a two-liter of Coke, some ice cream, and the rest of the Doritos.  I never pig out like that.  I may need to shed some weight, but it's due more to the sedentary lifestyle of a SAHD than gorging.  This was the closest I ever came to a suicide attempt in ten or more years.

I was angry, at my body, at the doctor, at the world.  At everything.  Understand, I didn't blame anyone else but myself.  But, it all seemed so damned unfair.  I don't drink alcohol, I don't smoke cigarettes, I don't use any drugs of any kind.  Yes, ANY drugs.  Call me uncool, but dope is a drug, not an "herb", it should not be legalized, and I don't smoke it.  The only time I take any drug is with a doctor's prescription, and then hesitantly.  Even painkillers are used sparingly.  If the pain is manageable without chemicals, I manage it.  It took convincing from my wife and my doctor to get my on anti-depressants, and I take the lowest possible dosage.

Yes, I eat junk food, and fast food, and love to fry things.  When my current employer asked me if i would pass a drug test if administered on the spot, I asked "Depends, do they test for cheeseburgers and Doritos?".  But, I am a loyal husband to my wife; never strayed, never will, never considered it.  I don't beat my kids.  They are homeschooled and parented by two adults who care for their welfare.  I pay my taxes, pay my bills, provide for my family financially and emotionally.  Why was this happening to me?  To us? 

What irks the most is how this affects my loved ones.  Mrs. Write must now monitor my diet, watch so I don't show any signs of low or high blood sugar, and fret as only she knows how.  The kids are learning all they can about Diabetes, not in school, but because they worry.

It's not fair to them, and it's not fair to me.

Now, a week later, I'm managing.  The crisis of blues has passed.  While taking four different medications a day (to also control mildly high blood pressure and low hdl cholesterol) is no picnic, I'm managing.  Never one to harbor a sweet tooth, I miss my potato chips, french fries, tortillas and salsa.  I can easily give up candy and chocolate; they were the first things tossed when I started watching my diet lo those many years ago.  But crunchy, salty snacks?  They are my weakness and my bane.  Every time I pass a bag of chips on sale at the grocery store, I have to remind myself of a line from Scrubs: "Doesn't she realize my legs will fall off?".

Most of the credit for my coping goes, of course, to my wonderful wife of 16 year.  After many a late night talk in the last week, I have come to adopt the we-can-handle-this-together. attitude for real.  Daily pinpricks to test my blood sugar (I hurt myself far worse fixing the car) show a steady decline in my blood sugar levels.  I feel better than I have in a year or so, which is surprising as I hadn't realized I felt so lousy in the first place.  I miss sugar.  Although I harbor no weakness for sweet snacks, i miss cane sugar.  A cup of tea or iced tea, a bowl of cereal, just isn't the same without a couple spoonfuls.  And those "sugar alternatives" all taste like chemicals to me.  My motto for years was "There's no such thing as too much sugar,".

I guess I was wrong.