Sunday, April 30, 2006


“He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm” – U2

We just returned from Chicago and the celebration of my parents 40th anniversary. Can you imagine; forty years living with the same person? I’ve been partnered for 15 years and sometimes that seems like forever.

Forty is a huge number. Wikipedia gave a list of things associated with forty:

    *Life begins at forty
    *The expression "Forty winks"
    *The international phone code for Romania
    *It’s half the name of the lubricant WD-40
    *The 40 ounce size used for liquor, typically fairly cheap malt beer
    *Ali Bab had 40 thieves the number of hours in a regular work week
    *The classic Russian vodka is alcohol content 40 percent by volume
    *Forty days and forty nights describes Noah's time on the ark

I give my parents credit; they’ve lived through good times and lived through tough times. There have been deaths and births, sicknesses and celebrations, job losses and promotions (and I’m not just including my Olive Garden years there).

The thought of going through life together with the same persona for 40 years is both scary and exhilarating. It’s hard to imagine that you get a chance to decide your best friend and stick by them. Sure, you don’t always get it right. But many times, it just works. They made their decision before they owned a piece of property; before they knew what they wanted to do with their lives. They just sort of winged it and did the best they could.

And 40 years later, they can turn around and smile.

So this weekend we celebrated them. 40 years ago today, two nervous kids got up and said in front of 128 people that they wanted to spend their lives together, for better or worse.

And if you really want to continue the celebration, 40 years this evening we can commemorate my conception.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fathers of Fathers

There are days I miss my dad. Don’t let that statement mislead you; he’s not passed on, he just lives over 600 miles away. Last year, he retired and spends most of his days just puttering around the house. He’s got amazing skills and I had hoped that the neighborhood hardware store might have scooped him up, but no such luck. My mom has turned him into one of those eastern Europeans servants who think they are working towards their freedom and instead become a domestic serf for the rest of their lives until 60 Minutes does a story on them and sets everyone free.

It wasn’t until I became a homeowner that I really appreciated my dad’s skills. He can fix anything. When I was younger, I’d often help him around the house as he took on plumbing or electrical tasks. Nothing fazed him. If he didn’t know how to fix it, he’d grab his books and learn.

One time he walked me through the process of installing a toilet in my basement…all over the phone!

He has patience, which turns out to be a trait that was not passed down to me. I prefer things to work the first time. If they don’t, I easily give up and walk away… only to return about 30 minutes later because I’ve already put money and time into the task. Plus I hate not being able to accomplish something.

This weekend, I continued the project of building cabinets and shelves in Corey’s room. Last weekend, I began with the cabinets, which turned out to be harder than I anticipated. Corey’s room has eaves that were all opened to accommodate the air-conditioning ducts that went in years ago. The eaves, like the rest of the room, have been a dumping ground for junk. But in realizing that each kid needs a place of their own, the room was converted into the toddler’s dream.

However, with the eaves still uncovered, I knew something would have to be built so the room looked more complete. Last weekend, I went to Home Depot and bought some prefab cabinets. With a lot of jury-rigging and inverting the cabinets, I was able to get two of them placed in 6 hours. Yeah, 6 hours! Hardest thing I’d have ever done… until this weekend.

The shelves sucked. This time, I didn’t have a pre-fab kit to work with. Instead, there was a lot of guessing with measurements since the opening hadn’t been carved out to scale. Nothing was uniform. My top board might measure 30” but the bottom would be 29.5”. Each board was cut and then cut again, probably as many as 6 times. Twice I threw boards into the garbage because I was so angry. And each time I would fish them out again because I had no desire to drive all the way to Home Depot again.

About mid-way through the project, I nearly burst into tears as I realized there was no way to hook on the back panels of the shelves. Again, the entire project nearly ended up for the junk man to retrieve.

But instead, I sat down and calmly reevaluated the situation. (No seriously… I was calm.) Instead of panicking, I wondered to myself what my dad would do. And about 10 minutes later, I got up and just did it.

The shelves turned out beautiful.

But I still miss my dad.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Making the Moist out of Easter

Another holiday come and gone. This seems to be the year that Corey is totally engaged in the traditions that come along with each of these major events.

Halloween was great because he felt comfortable enough to go up to people doors and ring the bell. Now, he didn’t quite get the candy part, because he’d wait long enough to scream “trick or treat” and then he’d want to run to the next house and do it again. We kept saying, “Dude, they’ll pay you in candy if you stand there long enough.” He didn’t care.

Christmas was about presents and Santa Claus, however, the two didn’t seem to intersect in his little mind. To him, Santa didn’t bring the gifts; he was more a mall rat that seemed to have his own living space and helpers. It was actually the tree that brought presents. After all, one day the tree skirt was empty. The next day, it had all these gifts under it. Much the same as a bird’s nest… only more interactive and you don’t have to clean shit off your front porch.

So this holiday was all about the eggs. And the marshmallow bunnies. Corey’s moms put 50 plastic eggs around the yard and stuffed about half of them with marshmallows. He had a ball, but in the end, it just produced a sugar high celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

When they got to our house, we decided to do another egg hunt. Other friends brought over their eggs, which were NOT plastic. They put them around the back yard, and each time he’d show up with an egg, the friends would take it and hide it again after he left to search for more. With only 10 eggs in rotation, he collectively found over 65.

Near the end of the egg hunt, we let the dogs out to join the fun. Not the smartest idea. All of sudden, Corey shows up with an egg and says, “Daddy, this egg is wet.” Ten feet away is a beagle that I swear was smiling.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Tag Team

I got tagged with a meme from Tony at Cheeky’s Hidaway. After reading a ton of these, I finally get to do one myself.

Six Strange Things/Facts/Habits About Me:

  1. I’ve read about 90% of the Bobbsey Twin books. (Only the ones published before 1976.)

  2. I have dated and had sex with women. That probably isn’t weird for most guys, but people seem to randomly feel comfortalbe in asking me that, so I figured it would be a good thing to add.

  3. I won the “Hospitaliano Employee of the Month” at the Olive Garden in July of 1990. Not exactly the resume builder one might think, but obviously a harbinger of many great things to come.

  4. I actually loved the short-lived TV show “Cop Rock.” Seriously, two of my favorite things— men in uniform and musicals—combined into one easy-to-use format. And to think that Charles in Charge lasted years longer than singing cops.

  5. Thundercats Ho! Only the best TV show ever! I watched this every day in college (which probably explains a lot about that Hospitaliano award). My grandmother was so happy because she bought my 4 year old cousin and me the same action figures that Christmas.

  6. When I was in high school, I went to a Halloween party as a punk rocker. I couldn’t afford the actual leather pants, so I made them out Hefty Garbage bags. Two problems with that; first, plastic looks nothing like leather and second, if you rip yourself a fly, there’s no way of zipping it back up.

In turn, I’m tagging:

Adventure Dad
Kristy at Kevin & Kristy’s First Home
Brian at The Story of Turtle
Steven at Green Dads
Mother Reader
Shotgun Daddy

Friday, April 14, 2006

Title Insurance

There’s something very therapeutic about dissing on a company. I may be bold some times, but I’m also smart enough never to rip a place that still pays me. So let’s talk some trash about the last place.

To add onto the last blog entry regarding business books, the last company where I Enjoyed Myself Immensely, loved to celebrate how imaginative it was. It did make the Washingtonian Magazine’s Great Places to Work but the forms were greatly exaggerated on the bonding activities that took place.

The company published 6 value-statements that hung on lucite boards as well as were stamped along the crown molding throughout the building. The key word of that sentence was ‘published’; notice I didn’t say ‘upheld.’

One of my favorite things about Imagine (not the real name of the company, but ironically, a pretty self-fulfilling synonym for their real name), was that everyone made up their titles. Well, everyone who made a crap load of money at the expense of the mission.

Pierre was known the Creator, a title normally reserved for God, but in this case, it wasn’t far from what this person thought of himself. A sense of arrogance, combined with orange pants and green shirts (or as he would say, “They are tangerine and emerald.”), this ranked as the epitome of self-importance. His assistant was referred to as “The Wingman.” Nothing keeps a company engaged in the present, than pulling titles from 20-year old movies.

Pierre’s partner in crime was Endora, the Visionary. Eerily enough, she looked a lot like one of those crazy fortuneteller freaks who would appear on a Dionne Warwick special. Endora would show up to work about 2-3 days a month. When she was there, most people avoided her because if she cornered you in the hallways, you’d lose a good 30 minutes listening to how wonderful our mission was, you know, the mission she created. The conversations would flow much like watching a Julia Child cooking show. You knew there’d be an ending soon, but you'd have no idea what the hell she was discussing throughout.

One of their counter-parts was the Instigator. This person spent his entire life coming up with cockamamie marketing schemes to test in the direct mail packages Imagine sent out to gullible individuals. The best part was that if the Instigator didn’t think an idea up first, he’d say it wasn’t worthy of testing. Then 3 months later, a remarkably similar idea would appear and it was revolutionize the world of marketing.

Another annoying gentleman was the Preacher, a nebbishy man who had never worked anywhere in his entire life. He was the ringleader in disseminating messages to the naïve, post-college workers that had overtones of “Come on Enron workers; we’re making the world a better place.” He was famous for creating committees of nothing and then engaging them in repeated brainstorming sessions, only to learn the same conclusions that were generated from previous committees.

My favorite title of all — Master Alchemist of Desire. This person ran the Inventive Department. In duty, he was responsible for writing the letter copy that would bring the masses to buy the products. But the 'package' came across as fabricated; literally and figuratively. Most communication pieces had to be rewritten since they included run-on sentences or double negatives. With whatever marching orders he’d be given, he run around lecturing anyone who would listen about how important this next product was going to be. He just couldn’t not know how to write it.
Perhaps it was the ambition to become a Top 50 Company that made them get lost in all the reasons to be in business in the first place. Sometimes trying to make work seem more fun than it is; just sucks the little fun right out of it.

As for me, I just prefer a simple title like Director of Blogging.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Baseball?

Hot Damn, our season begins tonight. That’s right, we’re back in the Nationals box seats bleachers again with thousands of other fans who are there to root on our home team eat crap loads of shitty food.

I really am geared up for another season of baseball. Larry thinks that I only go for the food, to talk to the poor souls who sit near us and for the hotties. That’s mostly true, but I do love watching the game since it’s one of the few sports I understand. (Seriously, I really tried with football this past season, but geez are there a lot of rules… and a lot of commercials.)

However, I’m bound to be one of the dads who can take their kid to a game and when a really great play happens, I look over and say, “Son, I have no idea what the player just did, but how about we get another plate of chicken tenders?

That’s what family memories are made of.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Living like the Puritans

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you take your animals to the vet, you find something else wrong and then it costs you more? Well, slap me in the butt and call it foreplay, but I’ll be damned if our dog didn’t develop some hideous growth on his leg the day before his annual check-up. I definitely got my money worth on Saturday.

Any of you who have met me, personally or intimately, know I’m a softy for animals. I hate to see them in pain. One time, Larry came home to find me crying in our family room. He looked over and saw that I watching Emergency Vets! during the segment about puppies with cancer. “Why the hell are you watching this? You know it makes you cry,” he said.

I wailed even harder. “I know but there was this incredibly hot vet on the show.” He grabbed the remote and turned it off.

On Friday, when I noticed that our daschund was licking his leg worse than a dancer at Wet! (gay link, handle with care), I discovered a nasty looking growth. It looked like a mushroom about the size of a quarter. We pay pretty close attention to our dogs’ health, so I knew it hadn’t been there a few days ago.

Now I could have been a really good dad and taken him to the emergency clinic to have it looked at, but that would cost us a mortgage payment. So if it didn’t bother him, I could live with it another 24 hours.

So yesterday, this not-so-hottie vet decided that the growth was a wart, which would fall off in about 5 days. The only requirement was to prevent him from licking it. So you dog owners know exactly what that means...the cone head.

Yep, we now have Hester Prynne from the Scarlett Letter patrolling our floors and scooping up dirt as he shuffles through the rooms. The poor dog can barely reach into his water bowl without tipping it over. So now for a week, he must live with his Elizabethan collar.

Hey, you think this is bad, try watching him pee in a snowstorm.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Pinch Between the Cheek and Gums

I hate the dentist. It’s not that I’m afraid of him or that it’s painful. On the contrary, it’s kind of relaxing for me just to lie there and do nothing. Anyone who knows me can vouch that I can’t really sit still.

But I hate the fluoride treatment. It’s repulsive. It’s like swishing chlorine around your mouth for two minutes. I also hate that intensive teeth brushing they do. Why not stick a miniature shoe polisher in my mouth that spits up pieces of toothpaste all over you. When I pointed this out to the hygienist, she said, “That’s why I put the bib on you.

Oh, so this 12-inch paper towel is supposed to protect my shirt from all that shit that you're spraying? They practically put a rubber snow suit to protect the nads when they take an X-ray, but for 15 minutes of teeth cleaning, I get Bounty, the quicker picker upper.

Worst of all is the same news they deliver each and every time. “Steve, you brush really well and your teeth are great, but you don’t floss.

No secret there. I fucking hate to floss. I have no problem telling anyone that. Even in my interviews, when that person asks you what is your weakest skill, I say flossing. (BTW, it really does break the ice, plus they never re-ask the question… “No, really. What do you suck at? ”)

I think flossing is disgusting. Mostly, I hate what the mirror looks like after you keep flicking pieces of food out of your gums. Where do you think it all lands? Like some oral slingshot, the food get flung across to the mirror, which then looks like the floor did when my son was in a high chair.

So I took the high road. If I had a bumper sticker, it would read, “Keeping mirrors clean by not flossing. ” People would find that funny. Well, all people except Dr. Marx. However, I just figured… what’s he going to do about it, huh?

You need to come in every 4 months so we can get those gums under control, ” he says.

I was stunned. “WHAT!?! You can do that?”

He smiles with his perfect teeth, “I have more power than you think.

But my insurance only pays for a dentist twice a year,.” I reply.

Then don’t come and we’ll do oral surgery on you before your 45.” (Fuck, I hate getting old.)

I instantly turn into some 16-year old asking for car privileges. “Please! Give me one more chance. I can do it. I don’t wanna come back and see that crazy fluoride bitch any more than I already do.

I now have the messiest mirrors this side of 16th street. Damn, I hate the dentist.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

OK, I think I’m in trouble with Corey’s moms. You know when your kids begin picking up words and you jokingly tell your friends that you will teach them something stupid just so they repeat it.

Yeah well, the kiddie-instruction manual never tells you how to turn that button off.

Corey likes wearing his shirts outside of his pants. No tucking-in for this kid. He is also fascinated with lifting his shirt up. Of course, we laughed the first time, so that just encouraged him. So what do I do? I take it to the next level.

One day, he was inquiring about his nipples. Not being a huge nipple guy myself (go figure), I decided to have some fun with him and called them his ‘man dots.’ I know, totally stupid, but this is like the .08% of parenting where it can be about you and not them.

WRONG. We got our hair cut this weekend (which I’m sure you’ll read about in one of the next entries). As he walked up to Susie, our stylist, he lifted his shirt above his head and said loud enough for the entire salon to hear, “Hi Susie. Luuuke at mine man dots.” (Yeah, he has an issue with possessives, but now, I seem to have bigger problems.

I guess that seemed so much funnier in the privacy of our living room.