Things I Don’t Give a Crap About… On Sammiches & Psych Meds Today!

Hello dear readers!

It’s always so exciting when I get the chance to be published on Sammiches & Psych Meds! Today I’m over there with a list of things I truly could care less about now that my life and priorities have been rearranged by parenthood.child-1141497_1280 Please head over and give it a look and have a laugh!

All the best,

Developing Dad


The Dumb Dad’s Guide to Holiday Travel


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yep, it’s ‘The Holiday’s’ once again…

This season will be our fourth traveling with small children. This year we’d classify them as a toddler and a pre-schooler. but the parameters are fuzzy. In any case there are a few mistakes we consistently make as evidenced by our recent holiday travels. Be smart and don’t do the doo-doo that we do so well!

  1. Start Early – Get those motors running early. We like to start talking about Christmas and all it’s excitement as we are eating Halloween candy. That way they can perseverate on it’s arrival for nearly 2 full months. It is a sure fire way to induce at least one if not several moments of disappointment a day for nearly 60 days! Talk about efficiency!
  2. Make Promises – Especially if they depend on several things working out a particular way. Like cousins who are also toddlers being receptive to playing with them and sharing their toys. Or hotels being ready for you to swim in pools. Promise these things even before checking if they have a pool or if it will be open Christmas eve. I mean, I’m sure everything, including health, will break in your favor.
  3. Pack a Weeks Worth for Every Day of Travel-This will ensure that you can’t find anything you need when you need it. But it’ll be there. Somewhere. Unless you forgot.
  4. Separate but Equal – Sure, it hasn’t worked historically, but you know, I’m sure your tired, overstimulated, constantly competing for attention toddlers will understand that you’re doing your best. If you have one of anything make sure you give it to one child in view of the others. A bag of M&M’s, one bag of Pirate Booty, any toy that beeps and flashes lights.
  5. Be a Sweetie – That is to say replace all calories with candy and treats. This is the most effective tool for compliance known to man for exactly one usage. Once spent, usually getting them into the car to leave your home, you are now contractually obligated yourself to provide junk for any and all compliance. Pack sweets generously.
  6. Get The Most Out of Every Minute – For us this means be sure to arrive at the end of your long journey right at the times when your children who nap might naturally go to sleep. This will ensure that they do so upon arrival. Or it will ensure that they don’t nap and are sure to have epic, sugar-crash-fueled melt downs in front of the entire family.
  7. Cat Naps are Just as Good – Catch some Z’s on that trip to the store to grab some milk (and more M&M’s, who’s kidding who) to make sure they are overtired come bedtime. Surely this 20 minutes rest will allow their bodies to calm naturally for an early bedtime. That or they will miraculously turn this 20 minutes of rest into 4-6 hours of fuel that will kick in right at the moment you begin the treacherous march to sleep in a new place.

I hope these hints are helpful and that you and yours have a truly wonderful trip!


The Misplaced Confidence of the Formerly Beautiful

Have you ever had a secret that was just too painful to share? I just know there’s someone out there who could understand me if I could just get over myself. Just stop stopping every time I start to address it directly. Fear is cruel that way. It gets in and feigns ultimate power and you believe it. But its all a charade. Any power fear has is usurped and misappropriated from its host. That power you feel being exerted on you, to apply the old horror movie trope, is coming from inside the house. Your house. You. The power is all yours and you have to claim it. As soon as you do fear will flee like the coward it is.

Here is my proclamation.

I am afflicted with the misplaced confidence of the formerly beautiful.

High SchoolIt may not be recognized in the DSM and their is likely not a ton of literature about this dreadful disorder, but for those few of us suffering from it none of that makes it any less real. It doesn’t make it any less painful.

It’s a pitiable reality I live day to day. One I don’t wish on my most attractive enemies. Every night I’m tortured by my reflection, reminding me that those looks I’ve gotten, those looks I’ve come to rely on for my sense of self, from attractive young women, those looks are no longer intended the way I still, sadly, receive them in the moment. All day I’ve stolen glances of others checking me out. Now, when I see what greets there eye in the world of funhouse mirrors I now live in I am left little room for doubt that one of two things has happened. One, they are looking on me as an oddity here in these places of the young and beautiful I somehow still think I’m rightly placed in. Or, two, horrifyingly, they are not in fact looking at me, but rather ‘keeping an eye on me’ the old, thick, greying gentlemen who clearly doesn’t belong.

Well I have news for you. Many of you will be me someday. Laugh. Go ahead, young beauties, but mark my words, beauty fades. Even on us, the most beautiful. You can only outrun it for a decade or two. Your number will come up some day. And when it does I hope you remember the way you look at me and judge me. I’m you, my friends. I’m you.

I too was able to claim a total and truthful lack of ‘game’ when it came to meeting the people I was attracted to. I was afforded all the free space on the high road. My best move was letting slip to a friend that I thought someone was cute. This actually led to nearly every relationship I initiated in my dating days. The other 90% were someone telling me that some other, similarly afflicted gorgeous person was interested in me. I never questioned. Of course they were. Then I’d decide if I was. If I was we’d date. For as long as I was into it. I assumed it was like this for everyone.

I was raised by humble and handsome people who didn’t burden me with the knowledge of the appeal of my strong jaw line, piercing blue eyes, broad shoulders, alabaster skin and buttery smooth baritone. I was 6’2″ and athletic on top of it. Lacking arrogance, I emerged in the world upon reaching majority a fully formed, devilishly handsome man free from the awareness of my native advantages over the average person. I assumed all people had yet to feel the bitter sting of rejection. Thinking it not at all unusual that someone might greet anyone with a sharp intake of breath followed by spitting out a phrase like, ‘Wow. You’re really good looking!’ Didn’t matter where I was. Interviews and church and other formal settings. I just assumed this was a common courtesy between strangers raised with manners and good hearts. I assumed everyone would have to hold their bosses at arms length. Out of respect for their dignity. I mean how silly would they have looked being rejected by subordinates. I always assumed my promotions were the same promotions anyone else would have received having dutifully arrived to work on time, answered most messages and was always available to smile and make small talk. These are the essential duties of handsome/good looking people after all.

imageBut now, now I’m a fool. I still assume the never ending upward trajectory to continue despite having long ago settled into the middle. Thank god I met my gorgeous wife before my looks were so diminished. I managed to convince her, a fellow and currently gorgeous human, to marry me and quick. Before the fall of Rome as it were.

After a lifetime of the world and its inhabitants falling at my feet to help me over any and all challenges I didn’t even realize that I am completely lacking the skills needed for someone in my current, hideous form. Thank god I managed to attend and graduate college while I still was on the path of least resistance, which is every path for the beautiful among us. At least I have a degree to fall back on.

But today, today is my day to take back my life, to swallow my humiliation and face the world. I’m thicker then I was and my profile in particular is to be avoided. My once prominent jawline is doughy. My broad shoulders have slumped and my skin is, well, problematic. But that is not going to stop me from being proud of myself. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m going to eat better and care for myself more attentively. I’m going to run and use the elliptical and I’m going to do all the things everyone else has had to do forever just to keep up with me.

I may never be beautiful again. Lord knows I’ll never be as stunning as I once was. But who knows. I’m to understand that men like myself can still get quite a bit from life if we can make it to ‘distinguished’, so there’s still hope.

We’ve Broken The Little One

Teddy isn’t Charlie. Not by a long shot.

Firstly, he’s second. Secondly, he’s last. Which is to say, he’s the baby. Charlie is a training model. We love him fiercely, but there’s no denying that his very station means he’s the one we make all the mistakes with. He is then tasked with training us on how it all should look. He teaches us that all these transitions, the ones he’s made at least, are not to be so fretted over. We stress with him because he is at the tip of the spear for us. His firsts are our firsts. While we are going through them we can see all the ways we’ve made it hard on ourselves and even hard on Charlie. Fortunately we also see how resilient Charlie is and we learn that our screw ups didn’t actually screw him up. Just screwed us up, really.

imageTeddy’s the baby. It’s different. We can feel wistfulness because we now know how fast it all goes. With the first you learn how long a day is, with the last you learn how short the years are. How much it’s all slipping away. How much we aren’t ready even if he is. I would never say we sabotage, but more often with Teddy our screw ups are acts of commission. We don’t ever sabotage, but we deliberately do some real real stupid s#it.

So now, for the past month, and for as long as I can see into the future, we’re going to pay the penance for our misdeeds. My penance takes place on the floor of the boys bedroom between roughly 8 o’clock each night and 11. We’ve broken our boy.

It started innocently enough. I’d hold him in the glider each night, he’d slowly drift off in my arms. It was really quite beautiful. Last words always the same.

‘Open your butt.’

I know. Seemed needlessly assaultive to me as well. Turned out it wasn’t what he meant. I don’t really know how he came to this phrasing. I mean he seems to know what a butt is. But he was really just asking me to arch my back for a second so he could slide his inside arm around me as he snuggled in.

But now it’s been weeks since I’ve heard those three, magic, disturbing words that always meant rest was just around the corner for everyone. Not anymore. The little monster, and this does coincide with him discovering his voice (which in many cases could be classified as a hate crime if toddlers were prosecutable and adults were an oppressed class) just lays there, eyes wide staring at the ceiling. For hours. I frankly don’t know how he does it. I mean, he’s exhausted. At least he should be

This is not going to happen tear free. Nope. I’ve begun to redraw lines and enforce borders to try to break him. Which in this case means I draw the line at holding him in the stupid hope that he’ll relearn to fall asleep in my arms for no more than an hour. Hour and a half tops. But that’s it! Then, off to bed for you mister!

Will I lie next to you and hold your hand? Of course, buddy. I’m not a monster. What? That keeps you awake too. Sheesh. Well, let me just get a pillow and puffy blanky and make it comfy. We both know I”m gonna be down here for a while. But last night it was 10:12! 10:12 and he was asleep. I could leave! Until I stood up to do so. Then he whimpered. Then he whined. Before I knew it he was standing, crying and through tears and heavy breath he said, ‘hug me up, daddy!’

So of course I hugged him up. I mean seriously, he was sitting there, all cheeks, tears, crankiness and lovely. What was I to do? Say no? That’s some first kid nonsense. Charlie could confirm this if he weren’t feet away sleeping through the whole thing. Besides upon ‘hugging him up’ he fell asleep almost instantly. And we get to add, ‘Hug me up’, to the book of standard toddler phrases! But still, 3 hours nightly is a lot.

IMG_0076If you’d given me infinite monkeys on infinite keyboards they would never have banged out the phrase. One I never could have conceived of. One once conceived I would never have thought I’d so long to hear. But for all that is right and decent, Teddy, will you please go back to falling gently to sleep in my arms and uttering with eyes half shut.. ‘Daddy. Open your butt.’

Hell Found Me at the County Fair

County FairSaturday we found ourselves, all of us, lost amidst the deep weeds of toddlerhood.

We were leaving the county fair. It was hot, crowded, noisy and uncomfortable. This was the setting as I did my own performance piece re-enacting every episode of cops ever. The big one was melting while the little one was overdone and riding his big brother’s coat tails. All the mistakes that can be made were. We were unprepared for the crowds, the food, the animals and the heat. Naps were skipped and bad behavior was mollified with treats. In hindsight any parent of any ability could have predicted the outcome. We could have predicted it. But we chose instead to barrel through because that is what you do with toddlers. If you waited for optimal conditions you’d be frozen in place, TV blaring, hiding from your kids. Forever.

Instead we took them to the fair where hell found us. It’s not the fault of the fair. Its not the fault of the heat and it’s not the fault of the various vendors and tricksters hanging their sweet booty, in the form of plush Spiderman dolls or blow up Spongebob’s to attract the hearts and minds of the worlds most brutal and successful class of negotiators, toddlers. Actually it’s totally the vendors fault. And of course the toddler’s fault. Everything is their fault. It isn’t their responsibility to do anything other then what they do, but lets not kid ourselves, we’re all grown ups here, it’s ALWAYS the toddlers fault. That’s okay, they can hardly be blamed for it.

Back to our story…

As I sit on the vacuum packed, stifling, Twinkie-shaped, sardine can of a school bus with with all manner of humanity, waiting on the edge of my seat to see if one of us will crack, scream and dive out the window as the bus tries to weave it’s way through the throngs of fair goers oblivious to those of us on the bus and our plight, toward the traffic that it will have to navigate before getting us to our abandoned vehicles in a vast empty field 3 miles away, I felt relief that at least we were nearly done with this trial. I believe that life tests you and it looked like we were going to make it out of this one having passed this test and learned a lesson.

The bus eventually picked up speed as we traveled away from the fairgrounds. A breeze moved the still hot air and we all let our shoulders down a bit. Even the enjoyable parts of such a day, for parents, are challenging. An example? The Butterfly’s. Going into the netted area, filled with flowers and butterfly’s was something like magic. Until you try to control a 4 year old and a 2 year old that don’t really get it. We were given small, foam style paint brushes upon entering and were told they were dipped in nectar to attract the butterflies, which the 4 year old could eventually do. I turned for a second to look and marvel at how he had managed to procure a butterfly for his very own enjoyment. Being four and having the attention span of a gnat and needing the validation of constant achievement at video-game speed he was bored nearly immediately, which was fine, I still had to look after the 2 year old. Where the hell did he go! Ah. There he.. wait. Teddy, no! He had started brandishing his brush like a weapon and was trying to in fact ‘squish’ the butterflies. Thankfully he is not as coordinated as he thinks he is and no butterflies were harmed in the making of this disaster. In the future, even later that day, this was the memory we isolated and highlighted as the ‘magic’ part of our trip to the fair.

As I slowly drove the air conditioned car I had a few moments of serenity on my way back to the fairground to pick up my wife and kids. A thought snick into my mind. I could probably get away with sneaking off for a bit. Have a beer, catch an inning or two of the Mets game. Why not. What would they care if they got to stay at the fair for a few more minutes? Kids love fairs!

Having arranged with Karen to have the boys across the street from the gate through which we entered the fair I knew it was not to be. They were waiting and I had what they needed. A car, some screens (I don’t care what you think about this, keep it to yourself, talk behind my back, just don’t think I care about your data and research) and a ride back to the grandparents house.

I’m afraid that my abilities as a writer will fail me as I try to describe what it was I returned to. The fairgrounds are in a rural area and the lawns of the residents of the modest homes in surrounding the grounds are  filled to bursting with cars that paid a bit extra for the convenience. These folks who paid $10 to be able to leave immediately, when free parking was right down the street, people I called suckers not 3 hours ago, are the smartest people. Ever. As we crowded our car onto the edge of one such lawn, across from the parked police car, lights aglow for apparently no reason other then to be prepared, my family came into sight. The full blast of a Volvo AC unit with the windows up can completely cancel out the sounds of what was perhaps the busiest moment of the busiest day of the county fair, megaphones ablaze, kids screaming from death defying rides and all manner of annoying, ice cream truck style circus music blasting from the concourse that is perhaps as much as 25 feet to my left. What it can’t obscure is the wailing and screaming of my four year old son, retreating to the maze of automobiles behind him, blood curdling screams that would cause me, you and any other decent person to stop and watch to be sure that he is not in mortal danger.

He is not, but it’s not so evident. You see, I’m angry now. Again, it’s unfair, not his responsibility and still entirely his fault that I’m now on a warpath. He’s a big four year old and his brother is squirmy. Being outnumbered and overburdened by the necessary and unnecessary items that accompany a mom of toddlers from a fair, my wife was not able to fully gather him in his state and it was a full blown disaster unfolding. I kid you not, everyone stopped, as if this were a real episode of cops, and watched as I stormed, cheeks ablaze in frustration and fed-uppedness as I marched directly at the boy and restrained him physically. This was a situation in which diplomatic methods could not be employed, not yet at least. We were in the midst of a full blown rebellion. What was needed was a police state, removal by force and I was the brute squad.

Here I was, a stranger in a strange land, looking to all the world like the type of father I was, but not the type I reported to be. I prefer to be the benevolent dictator, allowing my boys to think they have choices. ‘do you want to brush first or read a story first?’ that kind of thing. But when the moment is upon us, when hell is staring me down at the county fair all artifice is lost. This is a regime that must occasionally use the full force of it’s bestowed powers and put down all threats. Today that threat came from within and I’m terrified to think what the surrounding masses thought of our little performance. Surely they saw my anger, his frustration, our failures and must have come to the same conclusions I’ve often come to when seeing others in this or other, similar situations.

Within five minutes, a seemingly short time until you’ve spent it confined in a station wagon with two screaming, not shouting, SCREAMING toddlers, we were able to diffuse the situation using the wisdom of our elders who always have spoils ready for their grandkids visits.

‘Okay, Charlie. I guess I should call Grandma and tell her to put away the cupcakes and ice cream. Cancel the pancake dinner. Charlie doesn’t want it.’ I said in my best toddler-whistle falsetto.

Deep breaths. Wiped tears.

‘No. I want cupcakes.’

‘You do?’ I asked.


‘Okay, I’ll tell Grandma, as long as your a good boy and say you’re sorry to mommy.’ Still falsetto.

‘I’m sorry, mommy. Yeah!’ he shouted, and got the attention of the other.

‘Cupcakes!’ They yelled in unison.

5 Common Courtesies to Ditch with Toddlers

Ever notice how animalistic we become as parents. Right from the start. In fact we tend to mirror the journey of our children from completely helpless disasters through all the necessary stages of socialization and refinement. Well, in the process we must teach our children the expectations of society, the rules of the road and how to be a decent and kind person. All of those things it turns out are the finishing touches. Now, for us, with two toddlers, many of the rules we’ve always lived by are less then useless.

See my post on the topic at Sammiches & Psych Meds, where I’m now officially part of the team. Tanks so much, everyone!

Karma Crapped in the Tub: How My Wife Became a Poop Doula

Like riding a bike, I always presumed that pooping was one of those things that once you learned how to do it you pretty much had it down for the rest of your life. Turns out that journey is not so simple. Our four year old has apparently hit some bumps in the road. There are small, almost imperceptible changes occurring within me over time that might suggest there is the potential that this could be an issue for me as well, albeit in the distant future.

Anyway, there I was, sitting all smug up on the toilet catching up with my selected family and friends on my phone. This was my me time. I didn’t have to use the toilet, but it’s a place a parent can sit on occasion, as long as one’s spouse is there to occupy the kids, where they are given a moments reprieve. I think of it as a panic room of sorts in the hour after dinner, before bedtime. A place to go to forget about life for upwards of 3 minutes. A spa. It was here that I came across and amusing post by my younger sister. I’m paraphrasing here, but it said something like, ‘I’ll NEVER get used to cleaning poop out of the tub!’. I responded the only way I knew how. ‘Oh my god. That’s so gross!’

After a minute or two, and after a few, more kindhearted friends and family expressed empathy and understanding in the comments, it occurred to me that I might be tempting fate. In an attempt at something of a reverse jinx I went back in to the comment thread and expressed something closer to thoughtfulness. Something like, ‘Oh that so sucks. I’m so sorry. We’ve been lucky so far.’ But I was totally faking it. That sh*t doesn’t happen if your careful and stay attenti…

‘Joe! Oh no.. Joe!’ My wife shouted from upstairs.

I was on the couch enjoying my own end of night screen time alongside the big boy, the four year old, the one in the clear from the possibility of such an accident when my life took a dark turn.

‘T had an accident. In the tub!’

Oh crap.

2015-02-28 22.31.44I’m guessing that having made it this far through without this happening there are some parents that have made it all the way without dealing with this dark day. With the extracting by hand a turd that floats in parts and sinks in others like dynamited fish in a filthy pond. I remained calm on the outside because you need your children to know that although life is forever changed and we’ll never be able to truly look each other in the eye again, that they are okay and that one must be strong in the face of fear. I am a role model.

Karma was not through with us.

Believing that we’d learned all we needed to learn in order to avoid this issue in the future, we let down our guard. Somehow a few days passed without our big boy making a poop family in the potty. That’s what he calls it when it happens in phases. It’s amazing what you find cute when your kids say it. When we pointed it out to him and asked him to try he was resistent in a way that only a four year old could be. He had become afraid to poop. We coaxed. We bribed. It worked a couple of times, but it hurt and came with tears. Then he just stopped. Refused. He would have intermittent bouts of pain due to his being backed up. We couldn’t convince him with logic. We tried everything. What happens next is amongst the dumbest things I’ve ever done. I can’t believe it occurred even as I sit here and write it. It’s so dumb I’m embarrassed to say it. I decided that a good warm bath would do the trick. It did.

Our 4 year old is huge, like the size of a 7 year old. This is not an anecdote. He is the average size of a seven year old. I’ll just say that it’s possible for a backed up 4 year old, who is the size of a 7 year old to poop like a 41 year old who had a steak burrito and coffee for lunch. Through tears and the splashing of fecal infested dirty bath water we learned the power of karma and at that moment I knew it was done. Karma had made sure that I learned my lesson.

We are a modern family and my duties as a man are far more involved then men of previous generations. I am a competent and caring nurturer. Still, there are certain tasks that only a mother can perform. One of those tasks is exercised now when we note it’s been a couple of days. Our elaborate system of rewards for willing poops (chocolate, funnily enough) is pretty good. But if we let it slide the fear returns. When it does my wife becomes the guide for our boy that he needs at that moment. They will retreat to the bathroom where she will allay his fears, stick with him through his vicious rebukes and tearful apologies, always reassuring him that this is how it has worked since the dawn of time. That despite his fears, he will live through this and be so happy with the results that he’ll choose willingly to do it again! Eventually he believes her and they are one, holding hands as she provides him with the spiritual and emotional support allow his body to do what it’s made to do.

Without intending to and being motivated only by deep deep love, my wife is now a poop doula.

5 Ways To Prep Your Kid To Be Hysterical In Therapy Someday!

Charlie Builds UmiCityEveryone of us wants to set our children up for success. Cruelly, there’s literally no chance of us not messing up our kids at least a little. In fact, without messing them up a little we won’t give them what they properly need to successfully launch from the comfort of our respective bosoms. So I propose some simple steps a parent can take to assure that your child has the right level and style of dysfunction to be a compelling listen for even the most disinterested therapist.

The feeling of satisfaction you receive from making your therapist giggle or smirk or simply stay awake for the entirety of countless 45 minute sets of your best material is indescribable. I have never been cheered by throngs of devoted fans living just to be in my presence, but I have to imagine it feels exactly the same as getting a guffaw from your therapist. I owe it to my kids to provide them with enough hangups and dysfunctions to experience this tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

By my reckoning there are an infinite number of ways even good parents, even the best parents, can go about messing with up their kids without truly impinging upon their chances for success. Let’s start from the start.

  1. Hold On Desperately – How else will they know you love them without the smothering attention of desperate people unwilling to let go of anything? Example: Force feed pacifiers for months after they naturally want to let them go. Pro Tip: Sneak it in while they sleep. They’ll appreciate it comes from a place of love. By starting early you won’t have to change directions later when they want to start dating or drinking coffee. It’s a precedent setter.
  2. Potty Train When You KNOW They’re Ready – Like, 4 or 5 years old. Sure. It’ll be a pain, but just think of the material they’ll be able to give that shrink when they have actual memories of lying in the back seat on warm summer days having their diaper changed. I should note, we have not employed this method. Don’t ask me how I know about this.
  3. Stare At Your Phone While They Yell – We live in magical times. This strategy is one our parents couldn’t employ without the help of company or a truly, grippingly inappropriate program on the television. I do this one on a daily basis. And I don’t ignore them forever, I just let the volume rise until I have to shout at them that I hear them, despite the obvious fact that I’ve been ignoring the escalating screams to read Facebook updates for as much as 3 minutes. It’s this kind of unfair overreaction that will garner them the empathy of their future therapist. This empathy is the foundational building block of transference, which is the real goal of every therapeutic relationship, right?
  4. Throw Out Every 10th Art Project – This one’s pretty obvious. Let’s face it, they’re not all keepers. This will be hard to do the first time around but will become remarkably easy. You don’t even have to draw attention to it. Your casual dismissal will be even more effective in making them crave your approval in a way that you can never fully satisfy. That’s a job for future shrink. Be on the lookout for pattern recognition. Switch up the interval of your dismissal when you change your clocks.
  5. Express Unconditional Love at Unexpected Times – At the threshold of every life transition (Graduation from Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade… Etc. through college) remind them that its okay to fail. That they can choose to stay right where they are, not evolve or challenge themselves and you’ll love them just the same. This is just the kind of confusing response to success that will both reinforce that they are loved and that their are no expectations on them, running counter to every message you and anyone else ever sends!

These are little things you can do to ensure that your child has the ability to keep their therapist not just awake, but filled with validating, life affirming mirth as the transference they build together eventually fills the wholes that are left in everyone whose made the treacherous journey from child to adult.

They’ll thank you for it in the end!

Endless Winter and the Next Great Generation

‘Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

… Hell no! And it ain’t over now!’

-John Blutarsky, Delta Tau Chi

harsh winter

I realize that the long term models are calling for a thousand year night and infinite coldness. I know there’s no end in sight to this permafrost. Who’s to say when this winter will end. Could be as soon as this spring. That’s just the optimists view though and I know from all your endless thermometers and ceaseless single digit and negative degree temperatures that we may not survive this thing. In fact the only data that speaks to our survival is the endless drumbeat of all history. So let us now talk about how it is we want the survivors to remember us when they come across our tools and remains and ruins. Do we want them to construct a civilization that chose to wave the white flag of surrender at this, our coldest hour, or do we want them to remember a brave if freezing people determined to to live while living and not folks that gave up at a time when we were faced with this, the greatest of challenges.

I am not stone hearted and I too bemoan our fate. But I have children and it is my duty to make sure that the number of days we have left in our lives is forever surpassed by the life we have left in our days.

I have taken to describing to them the feel of grass between their toes. To sharing with them the meaning of the word sunlight and developing simple experiments that can be created out of our household stores which, though dwindling, it remains imperative that we use them to foster their sense of discovery. For if my children are the lucky ones that survive this I want them to have some sense of what normal life was like before the ice age that has robbed them of so much that I took for granted.

The depression and the sense of general unwellness has been well documented. While it is not all defined as a response to the harsh reality we confront, if you look through the content being distributed by your network of friends you’ll notice a theme of darkness and depression. Of general defeatism. And I am here to say, STOP THIS.

I acknowledge that there is no great likelihood of this ending and us once again knowing the joys of warm sunshine on our skin. I shall likely forever long for the sounds, smells and visceral joys of a day at the ballpark and I weep that my children won’t know the same. While the stores of food for humanity will likely deplete rapidly it is now time for us to cultivate sustainable agriculture in this new landscape that is unforgiving and refuses to nurture and foster our historical crops that will become boutique items that can only be grown in green houses. Sure, we’ll develop these resources further, over time, but what will I do to teach my children of the joyous sensual delight of eating an apple off of a tree or picking wild blackberries that were once so prevalent just beneath the snow they will now know as there native landscape.

The reality that we will never again be truly warm and filled with the invigorating sunlight that once lasted late into an evening of  a summers day challenges not only our minds and our bodies, but no less then our very souls. I say stand up and throw off the shackles of our former lives and learn to live anew. Fight the darkness with all you have and curse the night and do not allow it to hold sway over you. For we are the greatest animals to ever live and no threat to our existence has ever defeated us. For we have seen the stars and been so awed as to decide to visit them and have done so in less then a century since converting from whale blubber to oil. Less then a century since learning to light up our nights en masse. The challenges that will face us are not unlike those of many of our forefathers. It is time for us to consciously be aware of the burden we leave our children. If we don’t act to change all that we are doing in order to re-imagine humanity living in a permanent state of winter, we will have only ourselves to blame.

So damn your Seasonal Affective Disorder and Curse the devil. Stand upon the shoulders of the greatest generations which have come before us and gird yourself for the fight of a lifetime. For it is nothing less then the fight for life. We are human and there is no force in the universe that can outwit us if we determine we will not fail. We can’t fail.

2014-11-27 08.36.36


On The Road Again


Okay. It was a cruel trick to prompt your interest by using the great Willie Nelson’s song title. I have two children neither of whom can wipe their own butt yet. Both of whom are interested in doing so at the most improper times. We are not ‘on the road’ anytime soon.

You may have noticed a badge on my blog as of late (a picture, to the many people, myself included who wouldn’t have understood it to be a badge) that says ‘Original Bunker Punk’. Or something like that. It’s not here in the section I write in and I can’t be bothered to look.. Anyway, this badge is a welcome addition to my ever dwindling sense of self. A much needed boost to that portion of my brain and my person that has been neglected for the years since the kids turned up. It’s me. A newer and more up to date me. I couldn’t be prouder of that badge. I’m a bunker punk.

Now I have been called a punk precisely never. So what. One things for sure, I’m a weirdo and I’ve recently become not only comfortable with that, but also proud of it. The punks that have picked me were not looking for any credentials and I took them up on their invitation before anyone could look into my bona fide’s. I’ve come to truly love the daily support and ribaldry that membership in this syndicate has afforded me. We are a fairly talented, awfully opinionated, very supportive, hysterically funny and genuinely delusional group of auteurs and authors. So say I.

So when I was told we were going on tour I immediately started getting in tour shape. Beers for breakfast, sleeping in cars and driving from city to city selling bean burritos out of my trunk. When I sobered up in a Walmart parking lot, surrounded by various baby boomers in various recreational vehicles, I decided I should go back and try to figure out what my group leaders really meant by this. Thing is, I don’t really know. What I have determined is that they were, one at a time, posting a ‘tour piece’.  This consisted of answering a standardized set of questions. It was an interview. Well, shit, why didn’t they say so. I mean the whole reason I did this was to get attention, and now you’re asking me questions! Form questions, but still, that’s an honor in my book. I’ll take it!

Without further adieu….

1. What is your most prized possession?

My most prized posessions are all the handmade pieces of art and loveliness my parents have made for me. Any of my dissatisfaction with life that peeks through from time to time is merely temperamental, human condition stuff. My parents, like all parents, are imperfect. But they are imperfect, perfectly so. They are wonderful people who have taught me how to love life and the people that are in mine.

2. How do you unwind after a long day?

I used to drink. A lot. Probably will again someday. But the truth is engaging my brain in activities that differ from what my stress is induced by is the best way to unwind. TV is the norm. Books, particularly novels and baseball books focusing on the sports history before 1901 have been my choice of late. Mostly, when I have a minute, I write. I’m pretty much engaged in the activity all the time, in my head, so the chance to get the ideas out is wonderful.

3. What is one song that has followed you throughout your whole life?

I have not been stalked by a song, but their are a few that stick out I suppose. Blackbird, The Beatles I remember from my youth and love it still. My mother would sing Stevie Wonder, ‘You are the apple of my eye’ to me as a kid. I’ve always loved ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty. I don’t know why, but it was always a song I thought was great, even though many find it mockworthy.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would it be?

Write first with complete honesty and shamelessness then make it artful afterwards. For me writing is a way not only of understanding the world, but of getting to know myself, and unless I feel free to be as honest as I can on the first go round it’s usually not too good. At least on those pieces that are meaningful and connective. Funny can be applied to nearly any sincere piece of writing without harming that sincerity, but without the sincerity you’re just engaging in an intellectual exercise, which has it’s place, but doesn’t resonate as much as the really true stuff.

And finally, a quote from moi….

Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.

And this one from my mom…

Cash rules everything around me, cream get the money, dollar dollar bills, y’all.

Deep stuff. Powerful.

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