Monday, May 29, 2006

If you build it....

he will have a place to store all his toys when he comes. This weekend, I finally finished Corey's room.

When we first moved in, we installed central air conditioning into the house. The contractors went through the eaves and we've lived with the mess and torn up walls for 14 years. Now that Corey has officially into the top floor, we knew it was time to cover up the pipes and rafters.

A few weeks ago, I had the disastrous time of building shelves on one side of the room. Today I finally finished the the other side. It was so much easier since I had been through it once before. Larry was a huge help as well and it only too…gulp…six hours.

Time well spent if you ask me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Selling the Drama

American Idol is done for the season. You can find all my recaps here.

While I'm not happy with Taylor winning, I was overwhelmed to see the hot Idol and the even hotter lead singer of LIVE sing together. Man, to be a cordless michrophone.

Long live male pattern baldness!

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Playlists and Random Shuffle

Order, Design, Tension, Composition, Balance, Light, Harmony
—Stephen Sondheim

Technically the words to the closing number of Act I in Sunday in the Park with George, but more likely a metaphor for my life. I like order. I like to plan. I need to plan.

This weekend, I had my iPod playing in the car and the above song played in my 'Favorite Musicals' playlist. As I listened, I realized just how orchestrated my life can be. The same songs over and over. Life examined at a stop light often yields amazing results. I leaned over and hit the shuffle button.

♪ Night Moves – Bob Seger ♪

Routines make me who I am and keep me at peace. I have Christmas cards done in November. There are file cabinets with printed tabs on the hanging folders and nothing gets misplaced. White boards are mounted on our basement staircasae and list every item we need from the store. I put the 'oh-I-could-do-this-now' in OCD.

♪ Rock You Like a Hurricane – The Scorpions ♪

My partner is not. He's totally not a planner. Nothing is thought out, it just sorta happens. He likes spontaneity. I always say, "Spontaneity has its time and place." The one time we traveled internationally, I actually had the entire trip mapped out in a two page excel spreadsheet. It was almost as brilliant as the 15-page PowerPoint presentation I had created for our dog sitter.

♪ Appalachian Spring – Aaron Copeland ♪

We make a good couple because of our differences in timeliness... most times. It’s hard to balance our many activities and not find ourselves a little too orchestrated. On weekends when we have Corey, it seems like there is a complete agenda even before we pick him up. But the good thing with a kid is that sometimes, schedules need to alter due to them.

♪ Independence Day – Martina McBride ♪

So maybe it’s time my life was more 'shuffle' than 'playlist'. It takes work to slow things down and wing it. I hate winging it. But again, this is about stepping outside the comfort zone and trying something new.

♪ Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Points of Grace ♪

I’ve taken to not wearing a watch on weekends. Too many times, I look down and realize that tasks aren’t synchronized with my imaginary timeline. I let hunger (and a slight bitchiness in my tone) be my notification that it’s time to eat. Projects end when I’m tired or just want to rest. And they’ll resume when I’m ready.

♪ Rocky Mountain High – John Denver

I’ve tried to make sure that shopping, laundry and bill paying are done on weeknights. TV shows have been cut in half and replaced with walks around the neighborhood. And we’ve actually eaten dinner in the dining room.

♪ The Other Woman – Ray Parker Jr.

Living life on the edge can sometimes just mean sitting there looking at the view. Not everything needs to be fast. Things come and go too quickly in this world. It doesn't mean you can't listen to your favorite songs. On contrary, you must listen to them.

But think how much better they'd sound if you heard a little something different in between.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

For Those About To Rock

How many times do we impulsively buy something at the store? The display looks great and we know that we totally don’t need it. But it ends up in the cart and we take it home only to lament hours later that the money could have been better spent on something else.

I had the reverse happen this weekend. Every Saturday we somehow end up at Target. It’s an easy store to do one-stop shopping, plus the boy can run around and not get too far away. Target is one of those stores that does a lot of wallet-damage for us. We never leave without dropping $50 or more on things we really don’t need. This time however, the item I most desired, escaped me.

Our son inherits a ton of clothes from his cousin who is about nine months older than him. Most are in great condition, so rarely do we need more outfits. That doesn’t seem to stop these two dads every time we pass through the kid’s clothing section. We just believe it never hurts to get a new shirt or pair of slacks.

Dad #2 was over in the swimwear section salivating over this ’shark attack’ theme shirt & trunks combo. The kid has three swim trunks already, but I had to admit, this was a cute set. Into the cart it went. When all of sudden my eyes caught hold something on the other side the boys section.

You know those moments when your mind grabs hold of something before your brain can process it? Almost like a sixth sense, you instantly react and then marvel at your near-superhuman powers of response. I saw the shirt my boy must own.
You could have mistaken me for Jackie Joyner Kersee (except for being a gay white male, about 5’9, and missing the dreads and long finger nails.) as I ran near double speed to grab the only XXS shirt they had left. In my mind, it was a foot race between me and… Actually no one else was near, but AC/DC totally seemed like a reason to knock over the display of ½ price pajamas.

What better way to set up my young child to become respected among his peers? To be the envy of his friends. And for me to be known as the ultimate bitchin’ dad who lets his son wear this outfit to … well … room 4 of Creative Playland. Trust me, there will be envy there. Angus Young, totally kicking my Pretty Pony’s hindquarters.

I held up the shirt high to show my partner like a beer bong at a fraternity party. The ultimate sign of manhood dangling from a plastic hanger. My other hand shot up in the air with the index finger and pinky extended as I shouted across menswear, “Rock ON, my little man.

And he laughed; my partner just laughed. Years of heavy metal pride seeped from my pours in anguish. After all, I camped out for two days to get Telsa/Poison tickets in Cincinnati. What better way to pass on a legacy to my son then with 80’s metal?

I pleaded for the shirt. “Please, let me, I mean him get it. He really wants it. He looks good in black. He looks good in … ‘Back in Black’.” Instinctively, I reached for my air guitar and hit the most amazing C chord. You should have heard it. MAGIC!

And that was when I lost my case. Dad #2 looked over and said, “No way am I having two little boys in my house singing Skid Road.

(UGH. Skid Row you lame duck.)

So we went home. My (ARGH), I mean his AC/DC shirt left hanging there for some undeserving child to pick up and wear while finger painting. No art of the Brian Young screeches being passed down from generation to generation. Instead, we have ‘shark attack’ swim trunks. Yippee!

We checked in with his moms this morning and I forewarned them of the sad state they might encounter with our son. His depression would most likely have to be monitored for the next few weeks. I told them I would begin putting money away for future therapy.

And Mom #1’s response to all of this. “We have three AC/DC CD’s at home and play Dirty Deeds all the time.



Friday, May 19, 2006

"Bitter....Party of 1"

Some people have grande cojones.

I know I'm beginning to sound as though there is some bitterness from me towards my last employer. See, that's why I allow you to read my blog; you pick up on those ambiguous references so quickly. Honestly, I don’t hate them. Hate is such a bad word. We don’t use that word at our house. We don’t use the word stupid either. (However, 'bitchslap' totally hasn’t hit the radar screen yet, so that is acceptable for the time being.)

But hate…no. Massively dislike and feel like vomiting? Yeah, that probably works.

So how can I still be complaining about Imagine, the place where I Enjoyed Myself Immensely? Well truthfully, I could probably bitch about them for years until I’m forced to eat each meal at the Old Country Buffet because my teeth will have fallen out and at that point, I’d need to only consume foods that end in the words “au gratin.”

But this week, I have a legitimate rite to put them up as today’s sacrificial lamb. In fact… they engaged me. Get this, the Preacher sent all former employees an email inviting them to become part of an alumni network to help recruit new workers. Seriously, I shit you not.

“Greetings! Though you've only been away from Imagine a brief time, you have not been forgotten! Welcome to our newly created Imagine alumni network. It is through this network that I hope to keep you aware of Imagine's growth and connect you with other Imagine alumni.”

Huh, did they not get that I chose to leave? Why would I want to stay connected? I have my friends from there; I don’t need them to help me stay in touch. Truth be told, most everyone I was friends with left or was fired allowed to seek other employment since they cut into bonus checks for the 11Y team.

(The 11Y team is a group of folks who single-handedly make all decisions for the company. With their breadth of experience of having worked at … well nowhere since college or the RNC, their knowledge about how the outside world operates is slightly realistic.)

“First, I was exploring tools to connect our extended Imagine family together. I've settled on "LinkedIn" to achieve this goal. As you may be familiar, LinkedIn is a professional network online that is used by literally millions of professionals worldwide. We've set up an Imagine alumni only section that you are invited to join at no cost. It's a pretty neat tool in that it will allow all of us to remain connected while also giving each other access to our non-Imagine contacts (with permission). I invite you to join immediately using this link:”

“allow all of us to remain connected?”
Huh, like the many times they’ve called or emailed to see how I’m doing at my new job? I didn’t realize we weren’t connected. I still talk to all of my friends from Imagine. Oh yeah, you mean I haven’t called you guys? Funny, I remember my last week there and not one of you could come to say good-bye or wish me well. But then again, I was just a Director and had only been there 5 years.

“Second, you may recall the Imagine referral bonus program that we put in place for Imagine staff who recommend potential new team members that we ultimately hire. This program has now been extended to everyone and anyone.”

Seriously, who would I refer to your company? It was all I could do to manipulate my Imagine experiences in my interviews to make it sound positive. Privilege, status and elitism — that was your motto. Consumers were told that they would gain incredible experiences with our expensive products.

“Lastly, I'm sure if I were to ask you what you most miss about Imagine your answer would be…I-bulletin (well, at least it would be in your top 20 wouldn't it?). Starting in May, you'll receive from me a monthly alumni I-bulletin that will keep you updated on the latest happenings at Imagine.”

People... are you not reading my blog?

“I have heard countless times that relationships forged by working at Imagine last a lifetime. My hope is that these tools help facilitate the maintenance and nourishment of those relationships.”

Maintenance and nourishment... yeah relationships do require those. But words require actions and a simple email offering me money to serve as your reference won’t work. Anyone who knows me, can vouch I’ll prostitute myself for just about anything. However you folks couldn't pay me a dime to further your cause.

I stewed for a minute after receiving the email, much like uncovering the picture of an ex you find tucked away in your bottom drawer. It can be paralyzing as you just stare at it, uncertain of what action to take.

So I emailed him back and told him where to stick it politely asked to be removed from his list. And then, I decided to blog about it.

God love this online therapy.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mommies Dearest

One of the best things about Mother’s Day is that without it, I wouldn’t have a Father’s Day. Literally...and in a way, I guess you could say that holds true twice.

My mom gave birth to me by walking five miles, uphill, both to the hospital and back. Ok, not really but she did have me during one of Chicago’s biggest snowstorms. She had to be pulled over a mile on sled by my grandparents just to make to their car since there weren’t any nearby parking spaces. And after a bazillion hours a labor, her pride and joy was born.

She taught me many things over these 40 years:

  • You can’t lie about brushing your teeth if you were stupid enough not to wet your toothbrush.
  • Don’t slide your brother down the laundry chute like they do in the movies.
  • If you’re going to have her read your blog, don’t talk about having sex with women.

But she also taught us that it’s nice to have family that lives close. Taking 100 pictures at every family event makes for nice memories years later. And having animals always seems like a good idea until you get them home.

Fast forward 36 years and you’ll find two more amazing mothers. These two are whom my son calls mommy and mama. For a man who loves and thinks he understands kids, they have taught me the true meaning of being a parent. Sacrifice, patience, love and strength (did I mention patience?) anchor their roles as moms. I know everyone thinks the moms they know are the best, but these top my list.

So to all moms out there today, Happy Mother’s Day. But to mommy and mama, thank you for choosing me to be a partner in your parenting dreams. You two are the best!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The End of an Era

So it’s finally over. After 20 years, the relationship is coming to an end. It saddens me a lot since so much time was invested into it, but we probably both know this is best.

Sometimes you grow dependent on the few things that stay constant in your life. They become so familiar and in ways, define who you are because they’ve stood by your side this many years. But only when they go away are you reminded that things can change; sometimes for the good and sometimes not.

You were always there waiting when I came home, greeting me when I first walked through the door. You’d make me laugh, provide me insight and sometimes even make me cry. I’d grown dependent on you in some ways; perhaps that was too much in the end.

I can remember our vacations together; you lying right next to me at the beach. Me, always being worried about you being in the elements too long. Geez we had good times.

After all this, it’s time to go our separate ways. I will miss you in some ways, but we need to move on. Only when you leave will your heart be free to find something else to fill that space.

May 22, 2006, marks the last day of my Entertainment Weekly subscription. Twenty years of readership, followed by twenty years of selling those fuckers on eBay and having a feedback score of 697 (with a positive rating of 99.4%).

EW was my source for everything; movies, what music to illegally (and then legally) download, winning the Oscar pool at Kim’s house. I read it everyday on the Metro.

Then my job moved to Tysons Corner and I had to begin driving to work. Man, I resented that. (OK, and many other things about that greedy, money-whore-loving insane asylum.) But I stayed true to you, EW. I piled those magazines up in my closet so that someday, when I returned to Metro riding, I could catch up.

And what did you do? Did you stay faithful to me? Nope, you couldn’t wait. You had to change and serve a new master. A younger one. One with better…vision.

The fucking magazine went and changed from 12pt font to 10pt and now I can barely read it…even with my glasses. It’s challenging to concentrate on stories because if I lift my eyes from the page, it takes two minutes to find my place again. I was now reading the subscription equivalent of Beowulf.

So it was time to rip the band-aid off and realize that this unhealthy relationship must end. It was bittersweet, but we both knew it was right. We said our good-byes and moved on.

And now, you will find me on the corner seat of Metro, reading my Garden Gate magazine. My hip-hop, urban, turntablism, aerosol art, beatboxing days are far behind me.

Ice, Ice Baby
Peace Out

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yes Virginia, there is a Genuine

We’ll, I’m back from Denver and now more determined to get a laptop. Seriously, what a pain in the ass to have to pay $3.50 every fifteen minutes just to check who left comments on your blog your work email.

On the plus side, I finally got to meet Genuine, another blogfather. What a great opportunity to put a face to writings. We met at the hotel bar and just got to chat about families, being dads and blogging. Since I had conference sessions all day, I was only going to chat for about an hour but…<looks around to make sure no one from work is reading the blog>...we ended up yakking for 4 hours and I totally blew off the day. A great person and truly a fitting name for him.

It’s weird to think how the Internet can connect so many like-minded folks. But it’s also refreshing to see that many writers aren’t much different than their words. I speak on behalf of him, but it was an afternoon well spent. We agreed to meet up, individually or with our families, if either was in our respected towns again.

I left Denver one friend richer. It only made me wish the Blog dads had an annual convention.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Mile High Club

Heading out to Denver for a conference this weekend and won't be posting until Wednesday. Yes, that's right... I'm one of the few people in this world who still doesn't have a laptop. I didn't need one for the last job since I read books at my desk and built my web site didn't travel.

But that will be changing with this job so a new laptop is on the way. Sometimes it's easy to become complacent with what you have. Technology has a habit of passing us by at our house. We're still not wireless and we don't have TIVO yet. Our TV's are over 15 years old. And we still have a home phone number, unlike many friends who've gone just to cell phones.

So the next time I travel, you won't be noticing an interruption in the service you've come to expect. And if you're pissed that I won't be posting for the next four days... well then, you should have bought me a laptop.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Becoming Part of the Family

I am officially (albeit temporarily) a Blogfather. This weekend, I was asked to join them as a Capo, a ‘ranking officer’ that reports to the boss, and contribute stories for a three month period. For me, this is the highest compliment since I’ve come to respect these guys as writers and dads.

As I shared my new-found fame with Larry, he said, “Wow, so you’re their Vito Spatafore.

Admittedly, I don’t actively watch the Sopranos so the reference confused me. “What do you mean?” I inquired.

He’s the gay mobster.

No way,” I shouted. “How cool is that?

However, with further explanation, I learned that Vito was caught in a leather bar dancing with a man with nipple rings. Ok, that is so not me since the only leather we own is our living room couch. Vito later runs to New Hampshire and hangs out at the traditional cruising joint for my people, the antique shops.

While happy with the unique gay-mobster reference, I was still confused at the comparison. “I’m not like him at all. I’m more slender, I don’t like the construction business and I’m totally not into nipple rings,” I said.

Larry just looked over. “Yeah, but he’s got the hots for this fireman.

Hmmm… we could be dead on with this one.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Public Display of Direction

So today is Immigrant Day. Immigrants are planning a nationwide boycott to show in mass how important they are to the economy of America.

In DC, we have a protest almost every week. It’s hard to get excited about them anymore when it just means my Metro ride will be twice as long and I most likely won’t get a seat until the last stop. Most DC residents have become immune the different causes and we sometimes lose track of what the demonstration is about.

One year I looked over at Larry and said, “Are all these black men pro-life?

He just shook his head. “No, this is the million man march. The abortion rally was last week. I think next week is drilling is Alaska.

In the city where protests are supposed to be symbolic, we habitually go on with our daily lives. It is almost embarrassing being so apolitical. Even the rallies that have something to do with our lives seem to slip past.

Shit. This was gay pride weekend?” (We’ve missed that two years in a row.)

Immigration is a touchy area and everyone has an opinion. We are usually Switzerland in most of these protest situations. During the World Bank/IMF debates, I understand the fact that third-world countries won’t be able to pay back billion-dollar loans, but it’s tough to believe their countries will be better off by just eliminating them. I respect a woman’s right to choose, but it’s hard not to feel a twinge of anguish when I look into my son’s eyes and not see a life. And I know this country wouldn’t have what it does without immigrants, but I don’t necessarily think the national anthem should be sung in Spanish.

But another Monday morning, another display of solidarity that won’t affect us. Or so I thought.

We came home last night to find a call from our cleaning lady, Bertha. She won’t be coming today. In a mixture of Spanish and English (which is exactly how my Spanish sounds back to her), she explained that she’d be here on Tuesday instead. And right at the end, she said…. “ah, it’s my birthday tomorrow.

I’m not sure if that’s the real reason she’s off, but it made me laugh. It reminded me of senior ditch day in high school. About 1/3 of the senior class decided to ditch on a certain day; our day of solidarity against the Jesuit educational system. Did we raise our flags high? Did we march the grounds carrying signs and banners?

No, we had our moms call in sick.

I smiled as Bertha’s message played on the answering machine. She could have said she was marching for all we cared. She’s an amazing person and adds great value in our life, personally and professionally.

In some ways, I hope she is out there, standing up for something she believes in. We all need to believe in something and how we are treated, ranks high up there.

But on Tuesday, we’ll just say “Feliz Cumpleanos.”