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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Am A Rockstar Dad or How Bohemian Rhapsody Makes My Daughter Vomit

The last few days, every time our daughter says "Mama", my wife and I both say, "Oh oh oh oh". We're hoping to have her know all the words to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by the time she is two. We're sick like that.

Anyway, my wife was indisposed, and the baby had a poopy diaper. It was my turn to change the nasty diaper, so I picked up the baby and laid her down on her changing table to be changed. As I am changing her, I start singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. I'm doing the voices and everything. She's loving it.

I get to the "Galileo" part, and I'm zooming in and out in front of her face. She's cracking up. Her eyes are bigger than I have ever seen them. Her mouth is open wide and going back and forth between a smile and a big "O" shape.

By the time I'm singing "Let him go!", I've forgotten about putting the new diaper back on. She's hysterical. She has the hiccups and is clapping. I feel like I'm opening up for Robin Williams at the Improv.

Then comes the greatest line of one of the most legendary rock songs ever written: "Beelzebub has a devil put a side for me...for meeee.....FOR MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" Just as I hit the high note, my daughter's face goes from a look of pure joy to "I'm not so sure about this".

Suddenly, thick chunky dark green sludge launched about eight inches out of my daughter's mouth. It covers my arms, my hands, her stomach, shirt, face and hair. My first thought: "HOLY FUCK!". Second thought: "Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix". My daughter was still on her back and she was choking on her own vomit. I turned her over on her stomach, gave her a couple of good thwacks on the back until she started breathing OK, and stood her up.

I was as cool and as calm as could be, like I had done this a hundred times. Any other time, I would have been blowing chunks all over the bedroom, but I grabbed a handful of baby wipes, and started cleaning the little squirt down. This was the first time she had puked and was old enough to be aware of what was going on. I was cleaning her off. She looked at me, slowly looked down at herself, and yelled "Mama". And into the shower she went.

I was so proud of myself. I handled it like a pro. Almost more like a roadie than a dad. Let's put it this way...if I would have been on Janis Joplin's detail, she'd probably still be alive.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chilean PS3 Ad Creates Controversy

Two new print ads for the Playstation 3 in Chile are causing quite a stir. From what I can tell, most of the noise has come from stateside sites and publications. One ad depicts a gamer giving his still-beating heart to Joan of Arc.

The other "more sinister" ad, depicts a gamer giving a blood transfusion to...are you ready....a Nazi(GASP). The Nazi in question is supposed to be Erwin Rommel, a German field marshal whose humane treatment of captive soldiers and refusal to kill Jewish civilians made him a fairly respected military figure. Still, people will see a swastika and freak out.

The ads, I admit, are a little confusing. From what I can tell, it seems like they're trying to sell the "You're giving life to the game" type of tag line. I get it, and it's some badass artwork. But in an instant information age, companies must realize that just because an advertisement is safe to print in one country, that it won't be controversial in another country that it also does business.

Sony has a history of publishing questionable ads in areas outside the U.S. They were very successful, but in the the states they were considered distasteful, lewd, and borderline racist.

These campaigns may have worked 15 or 20 years ago, but in an internet age, when an ad is printed in a magazine or shown on TV, it's on Flickr or Youtube within a half hour. The world will see it and make their opinions, and sales will rise or suffer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

PBS Donations

I was flipping through the channels tonight and came across the local PBS station. It said the following program was "made possible by viewers like you".

Viewers like ME? Oh nay nay.....I think not Channel Ei8ht(yes, they strategically place the 8 in there to be clever). If the channel's programs were completely funded by viewers like ME, it would be 24 hours of shows on tattoos (world culture), dogs taking a shit (nature) and let's face it, that shit's just fuckin' funny. I mean, have you ever really seen a dog take a shit? It's fucking hilarious! And, of course, I would keep 'Live From Lincoln Center' and 'Great Performances'. Over the last 20 or 30 years, I have seen some of the most brilliant works of art on those programs.

Point is, maybe there is a reason I don't watch public television all that much. My daughter watches an occasional cartoon in the morning. I occasionally watch the 'The Antique Roadshow' or 'Austin City Limits', but I realized today that because I'm an NPR person, I don't have to be a PBS person. And that's OK.....

Update On The Craziness

Mom was nice enough to take the baby on Friday night. The break helped. Got some time alone with my wife. Got a couple of hours of 'RockBand' therapy. That helps a lot. Seems to let a lot of the demons out.

Since then, "the screaming" has gone away. Things are not great, but they are much better. I would say that I am at 40%. Thursday and Friday, I was in negative territory.

I'm feeling a little better. The tics are starting to come under control for the most part. I have a series of tics here and there. Then again, I haven't been putting myself in situations where the tics can be triggered.

I hate what I am going through. I wake up every morning pissed off that I'm going to have to deal with this another day. But I go to bed realizing that I've made it through another day and there are thousands of people that have given up. I can't give up. I can't give up. I cannot give up.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Songs That Get Under Your Skin, Part I

My wife and I were talking a few days ago about how there are some songs that instantly get under your skin. One for example would be 'Mad World', by Gary Jules, a cover of an old Tears for Fears song featured in the movie 'Donnie Darko'. We both instantly agreed on this one.

In 2003, Placebo covered the 1985 Kate Bush song, 'Running Up That Hill'. From the first time I heard it, I have never been able what to make of it. I think it was Blender magazine that said that Kate's version sounded like she was trying to make a deal with God. Placebo's cover sounded more like they were trying to make a pact with the Devil. It's haunting, touching, deeply moving and personal...and easily, one of my favorite songs. Enjoy.

Placebo - Running up that hill

This Song Almost Says It All...

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home From The Psychiatrist

Jesus, sounds like a Mel Brooks movie. So...we were driving home and our gas light came on. As usual lately, we're low on gas, so we decided to stop by the QT on the way home and just put $10 in the tank to get us by the next three or four days.

My doctor had just given me two scripts to refill the medications for my PTSD and about three weeks worth of samples of a new drug to hopefully stop the "screaming" that had been going on in my head for the last few days. He was nice enough to place everything in a nice paper bag.

When we get to the gas station, I start feeling ambitious. I notice the front of our Scion is a mess. Burger King bags, empty fry containers, empty soda cups, straw's disgusting. So, before I start pumping the gas, I collect all of the trash and throw it away in the bin next to the pump.

About 10 hours later...a little after midnight, I am looking everywhere for my new pills. Finally, I ask my wife, "Jess, have you seen those samples? Last time I saw them, they were in SHIT, I THREW THE MEDS AWAY!"

"What meds"?

"The fucking samples he gave me this afternoon".

"You're kidding me".

"Uh...Nope" this point, I have an interesting conversation ahead of me on Monday morning. I can imagine it now. "Before I tell you, I need you to promise me that you won't laugh........

Cleaning Tips For Crazy People

If your cat pukes in the hallway, put it on you to do list. By the time you get to it:

Wake up
Roll out of bed
Kill imaginary squirrel
Get mail
Put on underwear
Feed Fish
Watch 'Price is Right'
Play Backgammon with Hitler
Take Shower
Put on dry underwear
Post blog
Eat Crunch Berries
Read email
Clean up cat puke

Cat will have already eaten dried cat puke....problem solved.

NO!!! No Psych For You!!!

I was in the waiting room of my psychiatrist's office yesterday, dealing with my crisis, and there was another guy on the other side of the room I couldn't help but notice.

Him: Clean shaven, khakis, button up shirt, mid 40s, nice shoes

Me: Haven't shaved this week, same shorts and T-shirt I wore the day before, flip flops

Him: Doing Crossword in PEN. IN FUCKING PEN!!!!!

Me: Blankly staring at a picture of Matt Damon on a random page of Esquire Magazine.

He goes in before me. I walk over to his seat and notice that his crossword is absolutely correct. No mistakes, nothing crossed out. ASSHOLE. I'm so fucked up in the head my wife had to drive me here and HE'S DOING HIS CROSSWORD WITH A FUCKING PEN?!?!?

You know, I could do crossword too. With a pen. Example:

4 Across: Leo's Role in 'Titanic' 4 Letters = FUCK
7 Down: Stamos of 'Full House' 4 Letters = FUCK
19 Across: Willis of 'Die Hard' 5 Letters = FUUCK
23 Down: 16th President of US Abe 7 Letters = FUUUUCK

Get the point?

So...guy comes out from his visit. He goes to the receptionist to schedule his next appointment. He says, "I need to schedule an appointment for six months out."

"Is May 25th OK? It's a Thursday"

"Yeah. That sounds good".

"Two O'clock"?


"Do you need a reminder card"?

"Oh no. I'll remember it".


I Am Jack's Diseased Brain

When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no intention of falling asleep in my own bed. Things had progressed to a point with my PTSD, that I was determined to check myself into a mental hospital before the day was done.

Things had gotten bad. Over the course of the previous week, I was rapidly deteriorating on a daily basis. I had always had what I had called "the monkeys" in my head: my description of the ADD type symptoms I had experienced most of my life. I had always likened it to walking into the TV room at Best Buy with every TV turned onto a different channel and each one with the volume at full blast. My brain had always expected me to try to keep up with every TV. My mind was racing at 100 mph, all the time.

This week....the TVs were gone. My mind wasn't racing. It was far worse. Instead of the TVs, it was screaming. Hundreds of people screaming. Not the blood-curdling screams from teenage girls that you hear in horror movies. These were screams you would imagine coming from Hell. From men....women....and children..from the time I opened my eyes in the morning, until I was able to finally fall asleep at night.

I have developed a very bad stuttering problem. Like "Porky Pig" bad. It has been getting to the point where most of my conversations with my wife involve charades to get my point across. She is so unbelievably supportive, but even she is reaching her limit.

I drove to Target a few nights ago. It was the first night I have driven myself in probably two months. First, while at the store, I kept telling myself, "Don't ask me if I am finding everything ok"....over and over and that point, any contact with a person would result in a complete screaming meltdown. A couple nights earlier, we were in a store and my daughter shrieked. I immediately crouched down to the ground and grabbed the store shelf. As I went to the register, I was so flustered, I forgot my PIN number. This was the same PIN I have had since I was 18. And then, to top the evening off, I forgot my way home. I got lost.

I had gotten to the point where my only reaction, the only way I felt like I knew how to respond to people was to scream. It wasn't a violent thing. It was reactionary. Where my daughter had come and grabbed my leg before, my reaction was, "Don't touch me. Don't touch me". I was at the point this week where it gone way beyond that. Looking at me, touching me, talking to me, getting in my personal space came with a reactionary scream.

The worst happened Thursday with my daughter. I went to pick her up and she didn't want to be picked up. She grabbed my neck real hard with her fingernails. My reaction, involuntarily, was to grab her shoulders and squeeze inward. I realized within a second what I was doing, and set her down before I hurt her, but it scared the shit out of both my wife and I. It's hard to explain to someone that there's a difference between WANTING to hurt someone, and having a REACTION. That is when we started talking about hospitalization.

I called my therapist yesterday, and also got in to see my psychiatrist. My therapist thought it was a good idea but my psych thought I may have a hard time getting in. I called my insurance company. I was on the phone with them for an hour and seven minutes answering way too many questions. They gave me a number of options but said that it would be very unlikely that I would be accepted for "inpatient psychiatric treatment". Three reasons: I am not ACTIVELY suicidal. I am not ACTIVELY homicidal. And I am not CURRENTLY high on any narcotics. Considering I have never so much as taken a toke of pot in my life, the third one may be an issue. So....unless I decide to shoot up some heroin, start cutting, and chase my wife around the house with a cordless Black and Decker power drill, I think I'll be sleeping in my bed tonight.

I'll keep you posted........

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Best Michael Jackson Tribute I Have Seen Yet

Over the last three months, I have seen dozens...possibly hundreds of Michael Jackson tribute videos on Youtube and countless other online sites. A few days ago, I accidentally came across this one. The singer's name is Sam Tsui. In this video, he is singing six, yes six different parts of an acapella medley of Michael Jackson songs. As the songs change, so do the parts that each individual "member" of the group sing. It would be an extremely difficult arrangement to remember if you just had to keep track of your own part. To record your part separately, six different times, and to be in perfect harmony with yourself....utterly amazing. Enjoy:

Makes You Wonder "What If"

Came across a video on Boing Boing that really got me thinking. It actually gave me chills. It is an advertisement for a South African Investment company that asks the question, "What if James Dean had lived?" Interesting question. He made such an impact in a matter of three films. What could he had done if he had his entire life? Take a look and see if you are as moved as I was:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Antiques, Matthew McConaughey, and the Find of the Century's been one hell of a weekend.....let me tell you....

In fact, from this point forward, I'm not using punctuation. It has been that bad. Try to follow.

saturday jessi had a spinning class....spinning as in yarn...not as in we went down to downtown mesa to a yarn and fiber store by ourselves and had mom and dad babysit the little one for the day. that was nice. while she was spinning...i thought i would stroll down main street and check out some of the shops since ive never been down main street before...very impressed.... the had a couple of really nice antique shops. one was was two levels...had to have had 2-300 vendors in there....found some old thomas edison phonograph plates that were a hundred years old or more....they were only selling for $6 a piece....probably since they couldnt be played and were practically useless...found a 45 of john lennons imagine on the capitol record label...vendor had it for sale for $2.99....flawless condition....knew it was rare because not too many were released on that label....they were mostly released on apple...looked it up online and it turns out its worth about $35...not bad

also found a really nice scrapbooking store....had some cool stuff that gave me a lot of good ideas....ive been coming up with some great ideas lately for some projects....some art pieces....jewelery....crafts....and found some things at that store that would work really well into some of the things im working on.....

so jessis class was finished and we decided to head up to bookmans to try to trade some of my xbox stuff.....sick and tired of trying to sell it on craigslist.....thats a story for another blog.....found a HIM lp in pink vinyl for $10....great deal....also found john and yoko double fantasy and the 12" vinyl of princes raspberry beret.....good day for me so far.....but thats when it started to get weird.....

we go around the corner to grab lunch....suddenly....with no provocation.....i start talking like matthew im channeling his voice or something....its strange but i think its sort of funny at first....i start saying things like "alright alright alright" and "i think now might be a good time for me to take my shirt off".....but after about a minute and a starts to get really wife thinks im fucking around....shes getting pissed trying to stop...but i cant......its completely involuntary.....THIS WENT ON FOR MORE THAN TWENTY FUCKING ordering my food as matthew asking for a refill on my mountain dew as MATTHEW FUCKING MCCONAUGHEY.....i stopped only form of communication for the next half hour was charades....i opened my mouth again 30 minutes later and he had left my brain and i was was the most bizarre thing i had ever experienced....

next door to the restaurant we were at was a goodwill store....the sign on the window gave us the impression that it was 50% off that day so we walked in to see what was available....jessi went straight to the mens sweaters to see if there were any that the wool or cotton could be salvaged from....i went directly to the vinyl. i have some art projects in the works that involve old records and im always curious to see what these stores have. the bottom shelf of the rack caught my eye. there was a kiss album in japanese. i thought that was cool...but since i was never a kiss fan i set it aside. underneath the kiss album was led zeppelin of my favorites..since it had stairway to heaven....already have a copy of it but i could always use another for my project so i set it in a pile beside me. beneath that was the beatles....let it be. i nearly pissed myself. finding a vinyl copy of a beatles album in a a goodwill no less....was like getting video of bigfoot. my heart started to race.....i started going through the stack. meet the beatles.....sgt peppers....abby road...let it be.....the beatles second album....the beatles rarities....rubber soul...altogether.....10 beatles albums and 8 led zeppelin albums...all in mint if they had never been played....

i sat down on a couch in the furniture section just to pull each album out from the jacket to make sure the correct album was in there and it wasnt a con or a mistake....i was almost crying with excitement....i had a half dozen people come by to ask me if i had found those records in that was at that time that jessi told me to hell with checking things.....put them in the cart and lets get out of there before someone tries to take them from us....most of the records were $2.99 or $3.99 each....but i paid as little as 99 cents for a couple of them....unbelievable.....

went to a diamondbacks game was fun to take the baby....but very trying on my nerves....way too much tourettes seems to be doing a lot better....still having a few series of ticks a day but not a serious as they once were. my doctor originally had me on 25 mg of topamax twice a im at 125/100/100 a day....and still not tick free.....i am stuttering like porky pig sometimes.....where i just have to use an alternate word to finish the conversations with my wife now involve a lot of im still really fucked up...but im trying

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gay People Can Read The Bible Too

Um...OOPS! How about this? Let's make a compromise. We will give up the push for gay marriage if we are able to compile a list of all registered Republican women that were not virgins at the time of their marriage. If they're willing to make their sacrifice according to "God's Word", so will we. Somehow, I don't see that happening.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Big "Fuck You" From the Gay and Lesbian Community in the U.K.

On February 10, 2009, Lily Allen released her album, 'It's Not Me, It's You'. Track 8 was a lovely little song called 'Fuck You'. It was originally intended as a farewell message to the Bush Administration from not only the American people, but the World in general.

Lately, with the recent fervor across the world in taking away civil rights to gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, as well as the denial of equal rights to people in the LGBT community, the song has taken a new meaning. In a way, it has become a new gay anthem. The following video was taken at the recent Gay Pride Festival in Manchester U.K. Enjoy:

Keep believing in a future. Keep fighting for a change. Fuck them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Baby Brother Turned 30 Today

I have been shying away from a lot of the topics this blog was intended for (PTSD, Tourette's, abuse, family, growing up as a JW, etc.), and putting a lot of funny or "fluff" type postings in instead. Truth is, I am really nervous to bring up a lot of stuff. I know that it's going to feel better to get it out of my head and on paper, so to speak, but there are so many things that, looking back, I can't even believe, I know it will be hard for you to believe them as well.

My little brother turned 30 today. In any normal life, that wouldn't be much of an accomplishment. For Ben, it's one hell of a milestone. As a child there were dozens of times when his body tried to shut down and squeeze the life out of him, and, for one reason or another, he wouldn't give up.

He developed severe asthma as an infant. He was hospitalized and in the ICU for the first time at 4 months of age. He spent most of the next five years in the hospital. Usually 2-3 weeks in, 1 week out. When he was four, his doctor told my parents to move him to a drier climate or he wouldn't see his fifth birthday. Without hesitation, my father quit his job at Sears that he had held for 21 years, loaded up everything we could fit into a 24 foot U-Haul truck, and left Columbus, OH, for Phoenix, AZ.

We arrived in Phoenix on Valentine's Day, 1984...homeless, and with my father unemployed. My dad eventually found a job making $5.25 an hour at a warehouse. My mom was a stay at home mom. Our rent payment was $450 a month. You do the math. We were on welfare, food stamps...even qualified for the government cheese and peanut butter. OK....I'm getting off topic. Sorry.

We got to Phoenix, and things for my brother started to improve, but not by much. By now, he had been on one form of steroid or another since he was six months old. His visits to the hospitals became fewer and farther between....mostly, I think, because we were without insurance. He qualified for State run health care, but it didn't cover much. He received a discount on his inhalers, discounts on the dozen or so pills he had to take throughout the day, but that was about it. By first grade, he had his own nebulizer, or what we called his "breathing machine". His doctors in Phoenix eventually told us that the drier air probably did help his asthma a bit, but the pollution in the city counter balanced what positive effect it would have had. All in all, it really didn't make much of a difference whether we moved or not.

Years passed. My brother had missed so many school days per year between the fourth and the sixth grade, about 40-60 per school year, it was as if he never showed up. It was at this point that my mother decided to take him out of public school and home school him. That sounded like a good idea at first. Two weeks later, "home schooling" amounted to sleeping in and fiddling around on the computer.

It was around this same time that my brother had developed an acute reaction to chemicals, any chemicals. Scented deodorant, perfumes and colognes, candles, hand lotion, floor cleaner....the list went on and on. The slightest scent would instantly close his airways. He couldn't go shopping, or to church, or even have friends over for that matter. Everything in our home, including our laundry detergent and dryer sheets had to be unscented. He became a hermit.

It was also around this same time that I tell people that my brother died every night. We shared a bedroom. At least once a night, sometimes two or three times, my brother would wake up having a massive asthma attack. Most times it would wake me from my sleep. I would scream from across the hallway for my mom to wake up and come help. Sometimes, unfortunately, I was a heavy sleeper and wouldn't wake up until the lights were on in the bedroom and my mother was screaming at me to wake up. Jesus, why she didn't have a baby monitor in our room....why she relied on me...I still to this day do not know. I had a routine. I could run to the kitchen, get a coffee mug from the cabinet, fill it with tap water, put about a teaspoon of cherry Jello powder in the water for flavor, stir it, nuke it in the microwave for 45 seconds and be back in the bedroom in 1:15.

The reason why I say he died every night is because the hot water never worked. His bronchial tubes were so tight that his lips would turn white, his face a cold, ice blue, and he would go unconscious. That would give his lungs a chance to calm down and take a normal breath. My mom would turn his breathing machine on and strap his mask against his head, he would regain consciousness, and within minutes, everything would be fine. THIS HAPPENED EVERY FUCKING NIGHT. For probably two years. I was 15 or 16 years old and I had to deal with the possibility of watching my brother die every night for two years. LOL....anyway.....moving on.

Because of being on steroids continually from the time he was 6 months old until he was in his late teens, his adrenal glands never developed properly. He never developed muscle mass the way that he was supposed to. Long story short...he never hit puberty. It's pretty much the same thing that happened to Gary Colman. I am 6'4" tall. My brother is just under 5'2". As an adult, the asthma seemed to go away, but a multitude of problems took its place.

He has either Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis. It is to such a degree that it cannot be determined. At the moment, he bleeds so much from his colon, stomach and intestines, that they cannot stop the bleeding long enough to complete the testing and get an accurate MRI or CT of his abdomen. He is currently going through chemotherapy to stop the bleeding. If that doesn't work, they are discussing a colectomy.

He also has a myriad of mental issues. My brother is very intelligent. A genius in fact. I don't think I have ever personally known anyone smarter. That is part of the problem. He has delusions of grandeur. He thinks he knows better than anyone else how to do something. He over thinks everything. The last time I shot a game of pool with him it was taking him 10 minutes plus to make his shots to figure out the angles and trajectories.

Due to his years of isolation, he had no social skills. He had no ability to hold a conversation. He met a girl online, another Witness, in Ohio. The corresponded for months via email and instant message. Finally, they met, and my brother was in love. They got married just before his 21st birthday. By then he had already attempted suicide multiple times. Strange how your body will fight to stay alive in one situation, but you choose to end your life in another.

Once, when he was 14, he programmed his computer to call 911 with instructions to remove his body and not to disturb our grandmother down the hall. The rest of the family was at church at the time. He didn't follow through. There was another time when him and his wife first moved into their own apartment, out of my parents house. My then sister in law woke up and noticed he wasn't in bed. She searched the apartment. He wasn't there. She started walking through the property. She found him sitting on the pool deck near the deep end. He was using duct tape and nylon rope to tie weights around his ankles. He was going to jump in. He was maybe less than two minutes from jumping in. Honestly, I could write a book....and probably will with the stories I could tell.

He moved back to the Cleveland area, and had two daughters with his wife. Two amazing little girls. God, I miss them so much. That's when he really went off the deep end. Ben had always been a drinker. I have never seen anyone drink so much in my life. It was impressive by frat boy standards. He would regularly drink sometimes two bottles of Captain Morgan a day. When the girls were born, I think that's when the PTSD set in. He got to the point where he couldn't make a left hand turn if he was driving. He would have to plan his route so that he could drive in a large spiral or corresponding right turns to get to his destination. If someone touches him, he screams and starts climbing the wall. He has since become a heavy pot user and has started using meth.

He got to the point where he thought his wife was trying to kill him. He refused to eat anything in the house. He wouldn't sleep. My mom and dad convinced him to come back to
Arizona to get better. Convinced him to abandon his children. I don't understand it. When he got off the plane, he weighed about 90 pounds, and was an ashy shade of gray. He looked like an AIDS patient close to death or a concentration camp prisoner. He stayed with my folks for almost two years, smoking weed in his bedroom with a vaporizer the whole time. They then decided as a family to return to Cleveland and fight for custody.

When it comes to custody, neither my ex sister in law or my brother are fit parents. My brother has never worked a day in his life. Most days when the girls are visiting, he locks himself in his room and works on his computer. Contrary to what my mother insists, he is not a good father. My ex sister in law is far from a good mother. She sends the girls to school in the winter in shorts and sandals. She lets them eat Oreos for breakfast. The girls are on the verge of going into foster care. If my brother wins custody of his children, my mother will raise them, try to make them model Witnesses. This means they'll either be in therapy the rest of their life or strippers by the time they're 16....or both.

So...he made it to 30. Like I said, it's one hell of a milestone. 20 years ago, I would have said that it was a blessing. Now, it's looking more like a curse. It's a very harsh thing to say about my little brother. But Ben, in all my life, the only thing I have ever wanted was peace for you. I love you.

How To Get Ahead at Olive Garden

I saw this sign posted outside my local Olive Garden at the 202 and Gilbert Rd., in Gilbert, AZ:

....and it left me with a lot of questions:

Is it only Keith?
Is it on a rotational basis?
If not, what makes Keith so special?
Is this like their "internship" type of program?
How long does Keith get to "fuch" the General Manager. The sign was made in stone.
Is Keith the "fucher" or the "fuchee"?
Does he get a pay raise during this time?
What criteria do they use to determine who "fuchs" the General Manager?

I did make an attempt to get my questions answered, but Keith nor the General Manager were available to comment. Depending on what the General Manager looks like, I may soon be working at Olive Garden. I will keep you posted.

If Time Travel Were Possible

Monday, September 14, 2009

Remembering Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze died earlier this afternoon after a nearly two year battle with pancreatic cancer. He will mostly be remembered for his legendary roles in such hits as 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Ghost'. But even in his "lesser known" movie roles, he was an actor that put everything into his characters. Perhaps his most memorable roles to me was as the troubled motivational speaker, Jim Cunningham, in 2001's 'Donnie Darko'. It was quite a haunting performance. There were some of his movies that were, let's be honest, hated by the critics ('Point Break', 'Road House'). He made them cult classics. He had a way of stealing the scene; of bringing the focus on him. Case in point:

Chris Farley - Chippendales

Anyone......ANYONE!!!!....that can go through that six minute plus skit.....ON LIVE TELEVISION...and keep a straight face is a true professional. He may not be with us anymore but he'll live on through DVD, the internet, and all forms of digital media. Rest in peace Patrick.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Life With My In-Laws

Last night, I spent most of the evening with my wife's parents. It was nothing really out of the ordinary....yarn talk...dinner...some Wii bowling. And I started thinking about my mother and father in law.

There is such a stereotype in the world when it comes to how your relationship is supposed to be with your in laws. It's the backbone of nightmares, sitcoms, and countless stand up comedy routines. By the time you say "I do", you're already wincing at the thought of having to deal with them face to face.

To say that I was nervous when I first met Joe and Karen, would be an understatement. I was nervous for probably the first two years of my relationship with my wife. I don't know how many times I asked my wife, "Do your parents like me? Do you think they think you could've done better?"

In October of last year, they moved to Arizona and we all decided to share a house temporarily while they looked for jobs in the state. We all lived together for 9 months, until May of this year. Times got tough from time to time. Four adults and an infant in a three bedroom house can get a little dicey, whether you're related to them or not. The last three months we were there, both of my in laws were out of work, and I was on disability. Needless to say, we got to know each other pretty well.

I come from a very affectionate family. We would all hug each other and tell each other "I love you." multiple times a day. My wife's family isn't like that. I guess we're all brought up differently. Doesn't mean they love each other any less. Let me explain.

My dad told me he loved me every day. He was also virtually absent in my life. He lived in the same house as I did, but the only time he ever communicated with me was to punish me (whip me with a belt). We never played outside. We never played catch. He never showed me how to shave or set the expectations of being a man. It was like growing up in a single parent home.

In my adult life, my relationship with my parents was rocky at best. In more recent times, my relationship with my parents is non-existent. We haven't talked in months, and it looks as if there will never be a repair of the damage that has been been done.

My mother and father in law LOVE me. They treat me like their son, and not just the guy that married their daughter. That means more to me than any words that can be written in a thank you card or on an online blog. They love my daughter, and my daughter loves them....sometimes more than she loves my wife and I. Going to "Nana and Buppa's" house is like Disneyland for her.

My wife and I have talked off and on over the last couple of months about moving away from Arizona. Going somewhere cooler, somewhere less Republican. I realized a couple of weeks ago that we can't leave our parents. We have a support system here. It may be two people, but they're two very important people. I've spent more quality time with my father in law in the last year than what I have spent with my birth father my entire life. My daughter will never know her grandparents on my side of the family, her daddy's mommy and daddy. She'll never get to see her cousins, or her aunt or her uncle. I will not deprive her of the opportunity to know the one set of grandparents she has left. She treasures them. Likewise, I would never take her away from her Nana and Buppa. She means the world to them. And if it means putting up with 120 degree days for three months a year.....we'll always be within a 20 minute drive.

There's a line from a Disney movie called 'Lilo and Stitch' that says, "Ohana (Hawaiian word) means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten".'re Ohana. Blood or not, you're family. Thank you for everything you have done, whether you have realized it or not. It hasn't gone unnoticed. I love you Joe and Karen Mom and Dad.

Your Son,


Friday, September 11, 2009

How 9/11 Changed Me

Growing up as a Jehovah's Witness, I was always told that it was wrong to salute the flag. I wasn't allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I had to remain seated for the National Anthem. It's not that I had been intentionally disrespecting or desecrating the flag as a child. My parents never instilled in me the reasons why the symbols of our country, and the flag in particular, should be respected.

You can imagine the uncomfortable situations I had found myself in growing up. In the classroom everyday for years. At school assemblies. At sporting events. Countless dirty looks. People making comments under their breath. Even the occasional thwack to the back of the head with the words, "What's wrong with you? You a Commie or somethin? Stand up boy".

In my younger days, I saw it as an opportunity to "witness". To share my beliefs with others. I would tell them that I wasn't standing because my religion wouldn't permit me to. Usually, that would be as far as I got. The offended spectator would turn a more enraged shade of red and that would be my que to face forward for the rest of the event and not make eye contact with anyone for the next 3 hours.

As I got older, I got wiser. I realized that by being in my seats during the National Anthem, I was only asking for trouble. So, I would generally take that time of the pre-game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink or a souvenir. Most times, I would just intentionally show up late to a game - skip the first 2 minutes of the period or the top half of the first inning altogether.

So how does this tie in to 9/11? I'll get to that in a second. But first: February 13, 1983. The Forum, Irvine, California. It was the NBA All Star Game. For some reason my dad was watching it on TV. I never remember him being much of a basketball fan. I've never been much of one either. But something special happened that night. The time came for the National Anthem. This is what we saw:

It gave me chills. As a 7 year old, I didn't know why. I had a feeling then that I couldn't put into words, that I wouldn't feel again until 18 years later. I left the church in 1996, but, out of habit I guess, continued my "tradition" of not standing for the National Anthem.

Then came September 11th, 2001. It's a day that, 8 years later, I still think about on a daily basis. We all tend to re-live the shots of the people running in the streets, the towers falling, and the planes hitting the towers. Today though, I had a different memory for the first time. I remembered the firefighters going into Ground Zero to tie an American Flag onto a beam of the World Trade Center. This was still while the area was unsafe. There was still a possibility of the surrounding buildings collapsing. It was their way of saying "We're still here. We're still standing".

When I saw that flag amongst the rubble, that feeling I first felt as a 7 year old had returned. It was pride. The flag reminded me of the anthem's lyrics itself: "Gave proof through the night, That our flag was still there, O say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free, And the home of the brave". It waved over many a brave volunteer in the days and weeks following the attacks.

September 10, 2001, was the last day I refused to sit for the National Anthem. Since the events of 9/11, not only do I show my respect to my nation and its flag, but I sing along with the Star Spangled Banner, and get choked up at the end. Every time.