The other day we (we being my wife and I) went shopping. It was date night. So the kids were being corralled by someone else and we were left to our own devices for fair bit of time. I know you're thinking it... did we? No. We didn't nap. BUT we did have a lovely meal of food and did a bit of shopping.
It is this shopping stuff that has me entertained. I am very much into advertising, who these stores are targeting, and how they are targeting them. It is fascinating to watch folks be driven to a decision they had no intentions of making and purchasing something when they just came to 'browse'.
One of the most effective stores I've seen was Victoria's Secret. They know who they want in their store. They broadcast images designed to catch your attention in colors that educate you immediately who this product is for. One might argue that they don't market to men. I would argue they market relentlessly to men. For who gets the benefits of the newest latest and greatest lace/spandex blend?
When I was in my formative, pubescent years Victoria's Secret was an attractive mystery to me. Beautiful women, beautiful design, smells great, and they sold----underwear. Not just any underwear. Underwear designed to be seen. A statement piece of clothing typically not shown. A large amount of my teenage years were blessed by Victoria's Secret as my focus became isolated on a chance instance where I got to intentionally encounter said undergarments. We used to call this getting to second base. Or third if you were a heavy hitter (which, I was not). A young man's life changes for the positive the first time his hand contacts the lacy, padded greatness of a Victoria's Secret Bra. Pupils dilate. Heart rate increases significantly and you realize you aren't in Kansas anymore. In no uncertain way you have stepped from the minors into the big leagues. The proverbial crowd is roaring and you feel ten feet tall. A tip of the hat and you acknowledge it: Yes, I did just touch a fancy bra. Yes, it was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. Yes I will not, and cannot, ever possibly view women's undergarments as a routine anymore but rather as an intentional act of attracting a possible mate. Yes, I am a changed man. I promise you if you ask any man they can tell you who this first happened to them with.
From that moment on you realize that a woman chooses things to wear intentionally. Particularly undergarments. And VS has made this dream much more attainable and NORMAL. Thank you. From all of us. Side note: A young man's life changes again when the time comes to be the one to take the bra off and you have no clue how to do it- but that's for another blog ( I see workshop opportunity for Victoria's Secret and a potential niche market).
Anyway, back to shopping. We stepped into VS- the mecca as I like to call it. A large amount of women were carefully and decisively picking through panties. No purchase was made on a whim. Each and every item down to the counter check out fragrance is calculated. There were women of all ages, sizes, and ethnicity all proudly purchasing the next great item. For me, I felt right at home. This was the birthplace of my puberty, the reason I showed up to class frequently, and most likely the reason I have kids.
But something perplexed me.
What confused me were the other men in the store. They seemed put out by the fact their wife had brought them in. They were making odd, uncomfortable jokes about the mannequins, about the underwear, and playfully looking freaked out by them. Loud sighs, irritated glances, and frustrated phone checking or merely standing in the corner were the behavior of these men. How? Why? Make no mistake, anything their wife picked out would be a bug zapper light to the bug in them. So why the feigned ignorance?
You are standing in the holiest of holies and you're putting up a front like you don't care? In what world do we pretend we don't like something when we like it the most? Oh wait....
Seems like Dating in Middle School all over again, waiting for that chance to be at bat. But sadly, our wives are giving us the opportunity to get on base by intentionally walking us. They are literally asking us to simply step up to the plate to play the game, and let her do the rest. You'll likely score. And, yet these men wouldn't even step up to the plate!!
PS- Was surprised by how much this took a turn toward baseball. Maybe spring training is affecting me more than I thought.
I love dining out. I take my children with me most often (ok, pretty much all the time). So silence and peace during a meal for me is foreign. Very foreign. In fact, if I get out of the restaurant without some sore of mini disaster (spill, toys on the floor, seat getting taken by sibling) it's a win all the way around. If I eat my food, even better. It doesn't sound like it, but I love that. I love taking the kiddos on adventures. Breakfast, lunch or dinner adventures with the promise of something new and exciting, the chance to order your own food, and just spend time with Dad. Typically this daddy date occurs every Friday night. Sometimes on Saturdays.
It's interesting to see the dividing line of folks at the diners: Those with kids, and those without.
Those without kids do not understand those with kids. They simply cannot fathom how the chaos and constant motion could be fun. They often get irritated with said children being children and snapping the perfect Instagram food selfie becomes increasingly difficult when you're getting lapped by a 3 year old. Kids are bothersome, yucky, and failures of parenting when out of line.
The other faction, those with kids (or those who have once had kids) are much more understanding. Smiling and laughing - they ask questions; "How old are they? Are they twins? Is it pajama day?". They also make observations: "Looks like you've got your hands full there.... ". It's nice - they understand, they care, and they appreciate how difficult it is to take kids anywhere and how freaking cool my kids are. Because I have cool kids. Because they ARE wearing their pajamas and cowboy boots to dinner, because they can speak to you on the lineage of Disney's Princesses, evolution of Pokemon and the life cycle of the frog in the same conversation.
But.... A strange thing happened to me the other day - I discovered a new faction of diner out there. The silent ones. Picture this: A couple was seated by the hostess. Elderly and shuffling they sat as if they has assigned seats. There was no question about what they were going to order. They would have the meatloaf. Because they always had the meatloaf. It is as regular as the sunrise. They took their jackets off and faced each other. Silence. Pure silence. Not a finger lifted, not a word said. A nod and a brief word to the waitress was it. Silence. 5, 10, now 15 minutes had gone by without a single word (or even a glance) being said. It was fascinating. By this time my children had just finished discussing the finer points of tone inflection through the songs of Disney's Moana and had moved on to their Christmas list for next year. "Dad- I still want a YoYo."....
But the couple, not one peep out of them. Not one. Magical. Almost by default the food came and they commenced their eating experience. Like clockwork in a factory they exchanged salt and pepper shakers, spread their napkins on their lap and continued their silent meal. It was almost as if they knew the other's move before they moved. LIke the prefrontal cortex of the brain prepping movement and muscles, these folks had this down to a science. They finished, paid (in exact change) and shuffled out, nary a word said for nearly 45 minutes.
Were they communicating via telepathy? Was there something I was missing? Or were they in fact, simply that in touch with each other words were not necessary? I like to think the latter. I dream of a time in a relationship when you level up to a point where you are so in tune with each other you feel everything rather than say it. Transcending the communication barrier - like time travel. Your entire relationship becomes a give and take of habit and feelings and tradition rather than anything else. It's romance at the highest level. You've earned the silence.
So, the next time you're out and about keep your eyes peeled for the Silent Ones. They're out there, and they're in rare form.
Music is a funny thing. In a moment it can take you back to a person, a situation, a memory of exactly where you were when this tune starting infecting your brain. It can tie events together and memories together in a way that nothing else can (not even smell! Take that you freshly baked sugar cookies that remind me of Grandma's house!).
Music can flood you with emotions and inspire you. It makes you pull out that old music medium (or simply do a YouTube Search) and pause your life, for just a moment to allow the past to become the present. In my house, my kids get forced to listen to what Daddy likes because Daddy is the boss. Yes, I realize this isn't a hit Trolls Soundtrack song. Yes, I realize this isn't in Moana. No, I won't stop the music because, damnit, you're gonna love it like I love it.
Music is funny in that way too. BECAUSE it is tied to so many X-Factors in your memory and because it links things in ways nothing else can - it means certain things to people that means nothing to others. You love it because you had the experience with it. No-one else will ever understand how that makes you feel. Music is, an entirely independent, yet co-dependent experience. Eternally meaningful to only the listener, but eternally affected by those around at the time as well. Wow. Deep. Way deeper than I needed on a Saturday morning.
SMASH MOUTH. You can still find them HERE.
The Astro Lounge Disc. Wow. Talk about a flood of memories. Somehow, this resonated with my 1999 self. First thing that comes to my are my friends Tony and Ben. We listened to this record like some folks listen to their preacher. This was our church. We knew every song, every key, every small variation in vocal inflection that Steve Harwell would give us. We knew that the odd numbered tracks were more of our favorites than the even numbered tracks. We played that until my CD broke. Literally it disintegrated.
It was that summer we would go to Lake Powell. I think I spent two to three weeks there. Listening to Smash Mouth. The 4 hour drive was filled with this CD on repeat (on a personal discman with exernal speakers because the car didn't have a CD player mind you). One image permanently fixed into my brain: Riding in the back of the truck towing the boat cruising over the slow rollers of the San Rafael swell in Utah - nothing but sandstone and dirt for miles. With Smash Mouth singing "Road Man". I remember sitting on the shore of the lake, baking in the sun. With Tony and Ben. And Astro Lounge. To pass the time when we weren't in the water or doing crazy hikes or jumping off rocks into the water we read. We read the Anthologies of Calvin and Hobbes. Front to back. Back to front. Until these were in tatters. With Smash Mouth providing the soundtrack. Good lord I love me some Calvin and Hobbes. And Smash Mouth. And I still do-maybe even more than before because so many good things are tied to these tunes now. There is so much comfort in music and the memories you make and relate you.
So, in my universe Smash Mouth, Lake Powell and Calvin and Hobbes come colliding together for some of my fondest memories. I can still feel the heat of that summer on the rocks when that record comes on.
What records do you have that bring you back?
6 years ago I finally got to lock up this beautiful woman. We had met a fair bit before this, in arguably the toughest period of our lives. We were in school, under pressure, and only had each other.
I distinctly recall it was the weekend of Halloween (at that age, Halloween is an event for weeks, not for a day).
She was a rough cat (meaning she had cat ears on, maybe some whiskers) and I was attempting to be a tough guy as one of the main characters from The Boondock Saints.
We knew we liked each other but we didn't really know where this was going. So, a few drinks later, I managed to profess my love for her.
"I Love you."
Even slightly tipsy it took me by surprise. I tried to backpedal, I was scared, I was freaking out, and I wanted to go away. Was it too soon? She probably doesn't feel the same way, she probably won't ever talk to me again etc etc.
But she did. She did more than just talk to me again.
She said it back.
Cue the fireworks and high fives.
That was 11 years ago. 6 years ago she decided she would marry me.
From there we've been on an adventure of epic proportions. Through good, bad, indifferent, a pair of kids, and a business, moving to a new city, and just life in general. She has stuck be my side through thick and thin.
She does it effortlessly. It takes me a lot more work.
I am so grateful for you Ashley. You are my rock and I strive to be more like you every day. Happy Anniversary.
I loved Calvin and Hobbes as a child. I still do as an adult. But let's face it, Moe, the bully, was a jerk. Maybe he was misunderstood, but he certainly never changed his M.O.. Calvin just managed to smile his way through it somehow, but bullying isn't cool and it seems to be getting worse.
So many kids think, just let me get through high school and then I'll be rid of these bullies, as if somehow, the promise of adulthood gets rid of bullying and all the problems that go with it. The thought is that now, with a high school diploma, I can finally handle my problems with decent rapport and an open mind and others will do the same.
Adults can be bullies too. In fact, there are a lot of adult bullies maybe even more than in high school. They are just sneakier about it. Because legally, as an adult, shoving someone into a trashcan or punching them in the face has ramifications that are much more magnified and has been termed, 'uncouth', These adult bullies go about it in a much more subtle way. They impress upon you their OPINION.
In the 'real world' bullies stop impressing physical force and start leveraging mental force.
It is no consequence where, when or what it's about, these opinions come out. For some it is pointed, direct, and a no bones approach. For others, it is a under the breath comment to a friend just loud enough to be heard. It is full of disdain and the assumption that their opinion is correct and that yours is, in fact wrong. Dead wrong. And they aren't afraid to make that known.
That school you're choosing for your kid? "It's not a good school- I know because I looked at it. Just make sure you do your research...I mean, it's your choice and all but, ...."
That car you're thinking of buying? "Oh honey, you'll never be able to get DVD players in the back seat. And I doubt they can upgrade the seats. My car, on the other hand, has custom fit seats- have you seen it? "
The way you parent your screaming child."Why are you so patient with them? If it were me, I'd whup their butt and put them in their room - you're too nice to your kids, you're too patient."
No matter where you go, and what you do, you're going to be dealing with bullies. It doesn't get better after high school. It just gets more petty. The cool thing? My drive to give a shit about it is nearly nil. The true benefit of getting out the circle of crap is that once you're out on your own, you gain perspective. You grow. And you find yourself. And you then can start to recognize that these bullies, both pre-pubescent and adults, never climbed out of the pool. They're still there. Lounging. Lacking perspective. To them, they are the epitome of awesome because they never have been proven different. So they impose themselves, like they always do, because it is what they always do.
I guess my rant it to encourage you to get perspective. To get out of the pool. To grow yourself. Because only then will you find what's right for you. You'll learn to stand on your own to feet without worry of acceptance. You'll wear house slippers to the store because it's been a hard damn day and they are comfortable and the only pair you could find. Back off made up moms and dads with their fancy shoes and high heels and looks of shame. I'm happy, I'm comfortable, and I'm me. Who are you?
Diversity. What is it? Certainly not an old wooden ship as Ron Burgundy once thought. Something more profound, something intangible. Something like a terrior (tair-wah) of a wine. What is a terrior of a wine you ask?
That, my friend, is the effect of environment, growing conditions, and soil among other things that bring the wine to its specific flavor. I think literally translated it means earth or soil in french, but it's suggestion of uniqueness is what makes it cool. Besides being cool to say as well. I remember the first time I really experienced this was in Italy for my honeymoon. We were at a wine tasting (go figure!) and the purveyor of these fine wines was sampling some from a specific vineyard. He showed us pictures or the exact plot where each wine came from: one was east facing and one was south facing. They were the exact same grapes. Same vineyard. Literally only a hundred or so yards separated these two plots.
THEY TASTED ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. Their terrior was totally altered simply because of the slight adjustment in direction, distance, and soil. It was mind bottling (Get it, cause we are talking about wine?).
Years later and a few kids into this parenting world I had been experimenting with tasting the terrior of a few different wines to a glass too many (in my wife's eyes- don't tell her I said that). Well this extra glass got me waxing poetic on just about everything; in life, on the difference in people, on weather. On the terrior of PEOPLE. Soylent green was people. But I suspect there was little to no terrior in Soylent Green.
But the movie Soylent green is a perfect example. There is a certain person who has seen it, who will understand it, and further appreciate the reference. That person has some terrior.
I was a weird kid. Some may argue I am a weird adult. But that doesn't bother me at all. Because deep down, I know I have terrior. I grew up on a pig farm with 13 acres of land to my disposal. I spent most of my days communing with nature, likely without shoes on (not by choice, I just couldn't focus long enough to find them) and exploring the world around me. One of my first forts was a run down old school outhouse (That's Terrior). I journeyed near and far with my brother, more than once injuring ourselves with a dull pocket knife as we tried our best to whittle our way to some creation we saw in the "American Boy's Handy Book". Shit. I even went through a phase where I fancied myself in a dress for my after school outfit (Terrior. And damn comfortable). Years later I don't know where that thing went but I appreciated it for the time being. Caitlin I was not.
Let's move on to 6th grade. I was enrolled in the theater course in an elective. When went to vote for which play we should put on, My vote? Jesus Christ Superstar. In 6th grade. I mean, really? Who does that? I ultimately ended up playing Lancelot in a spoof of the round table story where we did manage to convince the instructor that it was absolutely necessary to gallop and bang coconuts together to simulate riding a horse, just like Monty Python. That's Terrior.
The point of this isn't to exemplify how weird I was as a kid. The point of this is to highlight and encourage diversity. Make your terrior good. Make it diverse. Make your environment damn interesting. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you. I see too many folks out there cut from the same damn cloth, or made from the same damn vine. Jump ship, cross the vineyard, and wear a dress if you want. Just be interesting. Have some Terrior.
The beauty market. A thing of, well, beauty. Somehow we have entire stores dedicated to looking, smelling, and feeling better. Walk in with despair, a zit, and early wrinkles; walk out with hope, plump cheeks, radiant skin, and broke.
The truth is when you look good, you feel good. And these stores know that. They have the market cornered making young girls clamor for the smoky cat-eye lash extended blast off effect and the stay at home mommies dying for dark circle tired eye wrinkle eradicators. They know people want to feel good. And they deliver.
So for me, these items were indulgent and unnecessary. Why get sucked into dropping half my paycheck on something I could do with a little soap, H2O and sandpaper (if necessary).
Imagine my surprise a while back as I was admiring my gorgeous complexion in the mirror after scraping away what little facial hair I managed to grow and I saw something. A wrinkle.
"What the H-E-Double Hockey Stick is that?!"
A second look confirmed it wasn't just last nights brewskis creeping up on me and playing a trick (they do that from time to time).
I HAD A WRINKLE.
How could this have happened to me? I'm young, vibrant, I sing, I laugh, I dance and I shower on a regular basis. I use soap. I use water. I brush my teeth twice a day. I exercise erratically.
HOW COULD I HAVE A DAMN WRINKLE?!
It's as if someone took that old school sand timer and turned it over and pointed me out - creepy-like and said something like "The clock is running." Or "Your time is running out." Or "Tick Tock." Creepy.
Concurrently Pink Floyd's "Time" would be likely playing in the back ground "Ticking away, the moments that make up the dull day... song song song.... One day closer to DEATH."
I felt punished. And old. I wrestled with this old feeling briefly when I turned 30 and reckoned the best had already happened. But this was different. Visual proof of the aging process eating away at my body.
So I did what I had to do. I raided my wife's products in search of hope.
I found it. After examining multiple products which had nothing to do with correcting my plight (leave in conditioner is amazing; and body butter?!?! Come on now!) I found MY face cream. (Yes, I claimed them).
There were two: day and night. They were cleverly packaged with a deep, dark purple-blue and a bright red for clarity in which was for which.
Deep breath in and I dabbed my finger in, placed gently on my cheeks and rubbed in circular sweeping motions, just like they said.
The room got brighter. The doves cooed louder. Hall and Oates came on in the background. I felt better about myself. My skin lightly tingled. The thoughts of my nearly imminent death vanished. There was HOPE in this bottle of gooey white stuff!
I was sold. Turns out, Dudes probably need some face cream too. And, and I have also found out, regularly using heavy duty lotion makes me feel good too. And, I don't second guess my manhood as much as I thought I would when using a 'Product". In fact, the prettier I feel, the more confident I am in me. Weird. No wonder this gets addicting for folks.
I still wrestle knowing that I will get some major wrinkles before said and done. But I'm feeling better about it. And probably, as life leads us down some crazy paths, I have earned those wrinkles. And I'm okay with that.
I recently had the chance to take a once in a lifetime trip- to Colorado to teach my son to ski. It had to been one of the best experiences of my parenting history thus far. It was amazing to watch my son grow to love something I have loved for a long time. He took to it like a frog to a swamp. He wasn't afraid, in fact he was extremely excited! In the fact is that he is the fourth generation of my family to learn to ski at this a little hometown resort. It was perfect – late 80s brass everywhere and static TVs and extremely friendly people. And snow. Lots of snow.
Not only did this tick a lot of the boxes on my parenting to do list with my son, it made me feel like a bad ass too. He was in shock and awe the entire time we were there. I mean, there was snow! Growing up in the desert doesn't really come with a great deal of snow. The chance to be able to play in snow, build a snowman, ride the sled and more was blowing his developing mind. I don't think you can find a better feeling than watching your son experience sheer joy. I can't wait to do this again. It has me wanting to live vicariously through my children even more now. Bring on the sports!
This trip made me reflect on how lucky we are to share the joy of doing something that we love for the first time with our kids. To teach them, to encourage them, to watch them grow as little people every single day of our lives. No day should be taken for granted because every day is an opportunity to check some boxes off.
Other boxes I want to check off:
-Tent Camping multiple days.
-Digging for worms
-All day movie fests
-And lots more I Can't think of currently.
A new year is upon us once more. It's funny how time can do that, keep moving in light of everything else around it. It's constant. Unlike the rest of life. So here we go, staggering towards this date and recognizing it as a year of starting fresh: new me, new you, new habits. Out with the old, in with the new! We fail to bear in mind that a lot of what our life is about is the same. About constants.
So why make resolutions? Why can't we do this every day instead of once a year? Why must it take a booze filled evening with questionable life choices to force our hands to change?
So I resolve this year to be the same. I want to be a constant like the hands of time. Steady in all I do and not rushing into things blindly. Be a constant for my kids because that is what they need. Be a constant for my wife. I think consistency and constantcy (doubt that is a word, but eff it) are my priorities this year. Don't get me wrong, I want to change things about my life. But more important to me is keeping the good things constant. And focus on that.
That's my resolution this year.
And to set off more Fireworks.
And Maybe drink more coffee and less beer.
And maybe finish a damn book.
And give more high fives and hugs.
And Worry Less.
And eat more fiber.
And Eat more bacon.
Ok. That's it.
Bacon. Honestly one of the reasons I get out of bed on the weekends, hangover or not. This amazing piece of meat, from the belly of a pig makes me happy. But just don't give me crap bacon. You can find amazing bacon for cheap. I still walk by the prepackaged aisle of bacon at the grocery store and shudder- who pays 14$ for less than a pound of bacon?!
Bacon, for me is more than just a major food group (and possibly a source of my Dad Bod). It's about tradition. It's about my kids going to bed Friday night saying they are looking forward to helping me make breakfast tomorrow and (whispering in my ear...) BACON! Knowing that my kids are learning the value of spending time together gathering around something of importance goes way beyond peppered or applewood smoked.
I hope that, in some small part, the consumption of bacon on the weekends leads to my kids one day leading the same charge with their clan. Whether that is sweetrolls, kale smoothies, or drum circles. You have to bring something to the table for which the family can gather round. And that, above all, is why I love me some bacon.
Rough first post. But death is damn hard. Especially with some young kids. My wife and I just had to put down our beloved dog Chip. Chipford Beaumont McGee to be exact. A gentleman in his own right and nothing but full of love for anyone who would offer him some attention. I miss him so much. There is nothing like the hole in the home when that familiar nose and predictable nail-click on the floor is gone.
I still think I see him moving around and there is this weird up/down feeling I get. He will always be here, but damn- this wasn't how I saw this ending.
Cancer got him. Lymphoma. With treatment we got 9 more months. In the last month his front paw went lame (nerve issue, likely due to cancer) and his breathing became shorter. Yesterday it was just too much. We took him in and gave him our last love.
I've had animals die on me. But up until this point, I never had to be there at the moment of expiration. Yesterday was different. As the adult now, I sat there, cradling this poor animal who had given nothing but all of himself slowly slip away, his breathing slowing to a stop and then his heart fading. It was so peaceful. But it was so hard. We knew this was happening eventually, but when the time came down, letting go of your best little buddy who was there before your wife, your kids, and your profession is not easy. I felt guilty-like I gave him the cancer. Like I was the one at fault because he couldn't live forever. The hardest part? Walking away from a lifeless body on the floor- like giving up. How did my parents do this? Why did I have no expectations of how I would handle this.
I know there was nothing I could do. But it doesn't change my feelings.
And that doesn't even start to bring up the fact that I can't explain to the kiddos why Chip-Dog didn't come home with me. Or why my eyes were so red.
This isn't over and seems like it will only get harder before it gets easier. When is the acceptance phase?