Unexpected Gift

Fresh Start

Shifting Gears

My work-life balance in the past few months has tilted heavy on the work side. I haven’t had the time or the motivation to put words to screen, but I am writing again. Work is now entering our slow period for the year which means I am merely going to be the normal type of busy and not the pulling my hair out, praying for a quick death, going crazy because I can’t keep up, kind of busy.

A little backstory, I support sales at a large company that specializes in providing software solutions to a specific industry. Our fiscal year ends in June and the salespeople always push hard to finish the year strong. I lucked out a week ago and walked into work and found a FedEx envelope on my desk filled with Amazon gift cards. This unexpected gift, that was provided by one of the sales teams, that I support was as a thank you for resolving a difficult situation where they closed a major deal. I was surprised and grateful for the token of appreciation.

As I pondered on what to spend my unexpected windfall on I wanted to find something to write on that was compact and had a decent battery life. I considered getting a small portable laptop, or maybe some sort of tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard. I did some research and read some blog posts and reviews. After considering my options; I decided to order a Chromebook.


Unboxing the Chromebook

This device has made it convenient to write and edit on the go and the battery is great. When I first unboxed it, the little kid in me was disappointed that it wasn’t charged, setup, and ready to go; the adult in me was expecting to have wait for the device to update and set itself up after several system updates. The kid side of me did not have to wait long. The build of the Chromebook gave a sturdy impression, and the brushed aluminum exterior gives the device an expensive look and feel.

I plugged the device in and powered it up. The 1080p display popped and was immensely impressive. I signed into my google account and it updated to most current version of the ChromeOS in a little over a minute. It charged fully in a little over an hour and while it was charged I found several extensions and sites to add.

One of the neater features is that this Chromebook supports integration with the Google Play Store and allows you to install Andriod apps directly to the laptop. for those of you interested here is a link Acer Chromebook 14 to the exact model that I bought. There are some different models that are more expensive but on a cost to feature to reliability ratio this was the right model for me.

Using the Chromebook for Writing.

I am getting the feel of which are the best apps or extensions to use for writing. Honestly, Google docs seem great so far. Every keystroke is backed up to the cloud and any offline edits automatically sync on reconnect. I user the Grammarly plug-in to help me notice any mistakes. Here is an article that I found that lists several tools that I use, Writing Tools

Family · Kids · Personal thoughts · Writing

I Too Have Yelled at My Kids in the Grocery Store.

I assume that anyone reading this is a parent. I am also going to assume that you love your kids. I am finally going to assume that a large investment of your time and resources are allotted to providing for your family. The above statements are also true for my wife and me.

How do you keep from losing yourself?

My sense of humor is not child-friendly. My interests and hobbies take a back seat to the needs of the offspring. A lot of my words and feelings have to go through a filter and be distilled into something that is appropriate and digestible to a young mind. I no longer choose my friends. I have to sort through the parents of my kid’s peers from school or other activities and find people that my wife and I find tolerable, who in turn will tolerate us, in order to have some semblance of social interaction beyond my place of employment.

I want to have the time and resources to date my wife again.

I want to remember who I am.

I want to be able to choose how my free time is spent.

The chances of these things happening are about as likely as the email that I received from the Nigerian prince wanting to give me money being legit.

I can hear the prior generations of parents’ thoughts now. That’s your job as a Father/Mother to be there for your kids and to provide. You should place the children first and sacrifice everything for them. These are also the generations that would kick their kids out of the house at first light and not see them again till the streetlights came on. If I tried this then I would go to prison.

I love my family. I am there for them always and forever.

However being there, always, forever, can be a source of great frustration. Feeling this frustration also makes you feel like some kind of child-hating monster who shouldn’t be a dad. I blame unrealistic media portrayals of perfect families whose parents have an infinite amount of patience and wisdom. Here in the real world, we have to be out the door at a certain time in the morning and if the kids move any slower they will cause time itself to reverse flow. If they miss the bus to school then someone will have to drive them there and be late for work. Being excessively late for work can cause disciplinary action up to and including the termination of employment according to everyone’s employee handbook. Not having a job causes finical issues which are the leading cause of relationship troubles. Having relationship troubles can lead to divorce.

So kids when I beg, plead, and yell for you to hurry up and finish your damn oatmeal and get your shoes on, I am trying to, in a roundabout way, save my marriage.

It’s hard to keep your composure all the time. I will be honest, I lose my temper at times. I am not proud of it.

Before I had kids, I would see some Mom or Dad lose their shit in public. I would be aghast and think, those poor children. How could you be so mean to someone so young? Now, I see the parent at the grocery store, by themselves, with two toddlers and a ten-year-old, and the poor Mom or Dad ends up yelling at the older child over a Lunchable while trying to keep the younger kids from climbing out of the cart. I think, you poor bastard, you must have been under pressure all day. I understand. I am not saying it is right, I am just saying I get it. I have been there.

Family · Kids · Personal thoughts · Writing

Children are Horrible Roommates

Being a parent is like being head over heels in love with your inconsiderate, self-centered, idiot of a roommate. You cook things and they refuse to eat. You chauffeur them around wherever they need to go. They never pitch in with chores or help with the bills; in fact, they are the biggest expense in your household, but you love them and would do anything for them. I have written a few mock interactions. See if these sound familiar…
Parent: I made a delicious, healthy dinner.
Child: I don’t like delicious or healthy food. I won’t eat this and if you try to make me I will ruin your night.
Parent: You did not have to put an ounce of effort into this meal. You neither had to pay or prepare the food. You didn’t even have to put the food on your own plate. Please eat.
Child: Warning, meltdown imitate! Self-destruct sequence initiated.
Parent: Damn it, I give up. Here are some breaded, prepackaged, bland meat nuggets with a side of Styrofoam like corn puffs covered in radioactive orange dust.
Child: Meltdown averted; resuming normal function.
Parent: I have been sent a notice from the EPA and your room has been declared a hazard to humanity and the Earth itself, you need to clean it.
Child: Buuuuttttt I want to do something non-constructive. I have only watched YouTube for 17 hours in a row.
Parent: I will change the Wi-Fi password and destroy your Minecraft village.
Child: Fine, but I will make this difficult.
Parent: I expect nothing less.
Less than 1 second later…
Child: I am finished. My room is clean.
Parent: (Rolls eyes) …I am going to check. (Walks into room) You have done nothing; In fact, it is worse than before.
Child: No look, I cleaned under my bed.
Parent: You pulled all the trash from under your bed and left it on the floor that is not cleaning that is filth relocation. (Roots through pile) Why is there a piece of mummified food under your bed that I don’t even remember buying in the last several years?
Child: I don’t know… I need help.
Parent: I don’t have time. I have to clean the other 9/10ths of the house so you can destroy it in 30 seconds when you return home from school tomorrow.
Child: Fair enough. I will clean my room to the lowest of your standards, but it will take hours, and you will have to yell at least 217 times and you will probably break down into tears at least once.
Parent: Business as usual then.
Parent: You need to take a shower.
Child: Can I do it tomorrow?
Parent: No, you smell like a dumpster fire that someone extinguished with urine.
Child: Again, this will not be easy.
Parent: I know child, I know.
Child: (Stalks off to bathroom)
One eye-blink later
Child: I am now clean.
Parent: Forgive me but I don’t believe you. Only half of your body is wet and there is still shampoo in your hair. I even still see the Kool-Aid stains around your lips. Go back to the shower.
Child: You’re mean and an obvious sadist.
Parent: (Sets down wine glass) Fine, come along I will wash you.
Child: I am not a baby.
Parent: …

If these conversations are familiar and made you laugh then follow my blog and share this post.

Family · Personal thoughts · Writing

A Parade of Bad Luck and Traffic Tickets.

A Parade of Bad Luck and Traffic Tickets.
To anyone who was at the parade I offer my apologies.
As much as I am blessed with a beautiful, healthy, family whom I love and cherish; I am cursed with the most horrible luck in small matters. I often wonder if there is some being that is playing a game akin to the sims and if (s)he-they-it gets bored and puts me in adverse situations for their own sick twisted pleasure.
A common scenario that happens in my life is as follows:
Wife: Go acquire the most common item in the universe from the common item store. Our day and marriage will be ruined if item is not purchased and in our possession by 5 pm
Me: I accept this mission.
Wife: Thank you, spouse.
Me: (Arrive at common item store.) One most common item, please.
Clerk: We are out.
Me: Shit
(Dials phone)
Wife: Hello, was the acquisition of common item successful?
Me: No, they are out.
Wife: That is impossible item is the most common thing in world. I will call them to make sure. (hangs up)
Me: …
(Waiting….waiting…waiting…phone rings)
Wife: Hello, they are out of common item but a store across town has item and you have to be there in 10 minutes.
Me: That location is an hour away.
Wife… Fix it.
Me: Ok.
This situation is not an exaggeration. I now video call my wife to show her empty shelves and vindicate myself as a non-idiot husband. Other examples include: always getting caught in traffic on the days when I absolutely cannot be late, if I have an important meeting or engagement then something will stain my shirt, if I am running late in the morning I will become delayed even further with fun times like the dog getting loose and running to China or the baby deciding to hide my keys in another dimension.
The most current unlucky event was of a particular humorous note.
A couple of weeks ago I got a traffic ticket. I have had bad experiences with important payments getting lost in the mail (bad luck, remember). I didn’t want to mail it; I could either drive to downtown Cincinnati, which is out of my way and parking is a pain to find, or I could go to court.
I decided to go to court and pay it there.
The court date was scheduled on Thursday, September 7th in Cheviot Ohio at 7 P.M at the Municipal Building. The location was convenient, on my way home from work, the time was convenient, after work with enough time to get there. I thought it was going to work out fineI was wrong.
I try to mitigate my luck by preparing for the outlandish situations I find myself getting into. I know how the cards usually play out with the mysterious hex over my head so I had left about 15 minutes earlier than any other person would have done. From my work place to Cheviot, without traffic would take 15 minutes, if traffic was heavy maybe 30 minutes. Traffic was heavy, but since I had left early I had plenty of time to make it there. I thought I was gold.
I thought wrong.
The first sign of my impending misfortune was that I noticed a lot of people walking in groups, moms pushing strollers, dads giving piggy-back-rides, the second sign was a literal sign. It said road closed. The particular road that was closed was the street where the Cheviot Municipal Building happens to reside. I was a little over a mile away. I had thirty minutes to make it there. I found a parking spot on a side street and resigned myself to walking.
I had half an hour to walk a mile.
I wasn’t worried, I walk fast. My wife complains all the time telling me to slow down and wait. I put my gym shoes in gear and I get to stepping. On a side note, by this time, I also really have to pee. I don’t piss my pants or anything in this story but if you have ever been walking and have an urgent need to urinate, it makes you more aggressive to get where you are going.
I hear sirens of fire trucks, the drums of marching bands, the general noise of a large crowd of people. I realized why all the people were walking, and why the roads were blocked off, it was the kick off for The Harvest Home Festival. This is a huge to-do for the Westside of Cincinnati and the first event for the festival is the Parade.
The sidewalks were lined with people sitting in camp chairs and loitering around, but more importantly, they were between me, Johnny Law, and a bathroom. I start walking and much like a salmon returning upstream, I wade through the tide of people.
My walk was not a pleasant meandering stroll, it was brisk and purposeful. I jostled people, I cut people off, I had to cross through the middle of the parade at two points. I was short on patience and time.
Finally, after making an asshole out of myself I see my destination and I have ten minutes to spare. I feel the tension leak from my shoulders. I quickly enter the building and avail myself of the facilities, relieving the pressure from my bladder. I then proceed to the 2nd floor as instructed by a note in the lobby for those lucky enough to have traffic court and find no one there and the doors locked.
I go back outside and find a local police officer doing crowd control for the parade. I ask him if court was canceled and he said yes that it had been due to the city holiday and to call the clerk’s office in the morning.
I call them and they said that everyone on the docket had been rescheduled to next Thursday. I know my luck and asked them to look me up specifically. The conversation went as follows:
Clerk: Huh, they actually scheduled you for the day before.
Me: Why would they do that? I wasn’t notified.
Clerk: I don’t know, nor do I care. Please get off the phone so I can resume drooling on my shirt.
Me: Wait, can you reschedule me?
Clerk: Not over the phone because there was a warrant issued for failure to appear. You have to come downtown and go to room 115.
Me: A warrant that is absurd. What time do they close?
Clerk: 3:30 in the afternoon because that is the most inconvenient time for the public.
Me: I can’t do that I am at work. Is there any other way?
Clerk: (Big sigh) I guess you could find a police officer and have them recite you.
Me: … (hangs up phone)
I work right across from a police station. I call them and they were happy to help. I walk over on a break and show them the ticket and explain what happened. The officer that helped me did not even give me any grief. He happened to be in the parade. I have a new court date and the warrant has been rescinded.
Family · Personal thoughts · Writing

Winning the Lottery, Butlers, and Memories

My wife and I decided to buy a Powerball ticket; we know the odds of us winning the grand prize are slight, but it buys us the conversation of what to do with the money.  We daydream and ask each other what we would want. We both agreed we would travel and get swanky new cars.  I said I want a butler; I would still be a bit trashy, but I bet Diet Mountain Dew and beef jerky would taste better served off of a silver tray by a man wearing a black tuxedo speaking with a posh accent.  My wife surprised me and said she would want to buy our current house. This shocked me out of my own daydream of paying someone to always get in the grocery check-out line in front of people I don’t like and pay with pennies.

“Really?” I said to her. This was my initial reaction. I was confused and wondered why she didn’t want to upgrade from our humble home.

She said, “Why not, with 700 million why get rid of it?”   I conceded the point and we continued our wool-gathering; I didn’t give her statement a second thought till later.

When I did think about what she said, I realized that our home is a treasure trove of memories. The kitchen where we have cooked so many meals together, the dining room table where both our daughters learned to read, the living room still echoes with the sounds of our son’s first steps, and a million other fragments of moments that hold together the jigsaw puzzle of our lives. My wife wanted to keep it and disrupt our lives as little as possible.

With the unimaginable money of the Powerball jackpot, you could afford to live in a pristine, perfect house. You wouldn’t have a single stain on the carpets or a nick on the walls. You could afford to hire an expensive interior designer to decorate your home with impeccable style, and you could foot the bill to live on an isolated compound away from all your family, friends and neighbors. Would you want to live like that though? It would seem so sterile to set yourself apart. Nothing would be precious anymore and you would always wonder if people were trying to get close to you because of the money.  Every situation comes with its own set of problems.

My wife is probably right; simple would be better.



I’m still getting a butler though.


Family · Personal thoughts · Writing

Marriage, The Eclipse, and Parking Garages.

Marriage, The Eclipse, and Parking Garages.

Thank you to the ragged gentleman that sold the eclipse viewing glasses to my wife an hour before the main event. Due to your timely capitalism, she was able to rush to my work; showing up in the nick of time in order for us to enjoy the solar show together.
Thank you to my wife who was able to make the drive across town, in near record time, only to turn around and rush back across town to pick up our son and then make it home before the girls get off the school bus. The timing is as impressive as the aligning of the sun and moon today.
I love that she came all that way and put that much effort into getting here so we could be together for a few minutes to see something amazing. I was able to view the literal blotting out of the sun with the light of my life. It felt special. On top of the parking garage, we held hands and gazed into the heavens with matching pairs of paper glasses. If it would have been a scene out of a movie some sappy song would have played while the camera panned out.
You might think that I am exaggerating the situation and its significance. I am not. Parking lots and garages are an anchor point for our relationship. We met in a parking garage. We fell in love talking all night, multiple nights, after our first few dates in a parking lot. As you can see multiple milestones in our relationship have been experienced in areas painted with striped lines.

Parking areas are one of the main factors in the success of our relationship.  Without them, my entire family might not exist.

Personal thoughts · Writing

Get Out of the Groove

I remember the day my oldest daughter became mobile; I had laid her down on a tummy-time mat while I was doing something on the computer. I felt something touch my leg and voila, baby at my feet. I set her back on her mat and she crawled over to me again. I was a proud papa and called my wife, who was at work, to tell her. We were both excited, but it made my wife upset that she missed that milestone. I can understand I have missed my fair share of things.

I hate missing moments.

I hate the fact that my and other parents’ working years coincide with all of a child’s developmental period. We miss so much. From birth and beyond, they spend large pieces of their lives with other people. Daycare providers, teachers, grandparents, and many others take your place when you are not there. Even when a baby is first born we only are allowed a few weeks away from our jobs.

You can’t go back and see firsts. You can’t make kids unsay their first word, or take back their first steps. They insist on growing up in a blink of an eye and making you wonder where the time went.

I know where the time has gone.

We are all time-travelers. Unfortunately, we can only move forward and we never get to go back. We are allotted a limited amount of time in our life.  It is a finite resource, with which we are frivolous. We waste so much of our time, and you cannot reclaim what you have lost. You can, however, slow time down.  You have to break your routines and not get into a groove.

We try to squeeze in as much time as we can during the work week. We try to do something special on the weekends. Something seems to come up, or you are tired. Plans get canceled and you fall into the groove. All the days blend together.

Once you start having days that are almost exactly the same then those days fade in your mind. String enough of those days together and whole chunks of your life turn into mist and you only remember the times when something was different. Remember the time three weeks from last Thursday when you had an uneventful commute to work?  No, of course, you don’t.  But I would wager that you remember the wreck you were involved in two decades ago.

Last week, I took some time off from work. The girls’ summer break is now over, and I wanted some time to decompress and time to spend with the kids before they went back to school.  The week was nice, we had fun, ate too much ice cream, and it was over all too soon. Monday comes and with a heavy heart, I resume the routine: Commute to the workplace, do work, commute home and dream of more time off.

That Monday morning was hard, I sat on the couch and dreaded going to work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about having to work. I am grateful that I am employed and able to provide for my family, but my family is the reason I do what I have to do. I would much rather stay at home instead of going to a building where they expect me to do tasks that I would rather not do and spend at least 40 hours a week with people I can barely tolerate.

This is why I want to start making more memories. I don’t want to look up and find that all of a sudden my kids are moving out of the house to go to college. I want to slow the ticking of the clock. I want my kids to look back and remember moments with my wife and me. I don’t want to stay in the groove. I want to start taking more moments to enjoy life.

Personal thoughts · Writing

Why I Write…

I have always been an avid reader. I love the way words affect me and how they put the pieces of the world in an order I can understand. It is magical the way a simple phrase or story can bring people to laughter, tears, or any emotion between. Words are powerful and full of meaning.

I am saddened when someone tells me that they do not like to read. I pity the person that discards reading as frivolous or as a waste of time.  I cannot even fathom that kind of thinking. I lose myself in books and the worlds they create. I travel across an infinite Omniverse to different worlds, and the only vehicle that is necessary are the words on a page.

I am tired of always being the passenger on the literary journey. It’s my turn at the wheel. I want to steer the reader’s ship in the uncharted territory of my imagination. I am not as proficient at painting a picture with words as I would like to be, but I am improving. I am reading writing blogs and listening to writing podcast. I have started sharing my thoughts and experiences with you, my readers.  I hope to find my own voice. I want a life less ordinary.

Staring at a blank page I know what I want to say but the words come out wrong. It feels like the mechanics and structure of turning the words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs get in the way of the raw information I want to share.

Grammar is a concern. It makes me wish I had paid more attention in 8th Grade English.

I can not tell you how many commas I stare at and wonder if it belongs or not. I check to make sure I am writing in the active voice and not the passive. I try to use forceful verbs instead of adverbs. I write and revise, rewrite and re-revise, and beat my words to death until they make a semblance of sense.

I believe that most of the rules for the English language were drawn out of a hat at random and change every leap year to keep us on our toes. If you see any of the mistakes I have made, be kind, I am getting better.

I hope people enjoy reading what I write. It’s harder than I thought opening up to let my words out. Most of you reading this blog are strangers and have no vested interest in sparing my ego with critical judgments. That being said, most people are kind and provide positive feedback.

I feel like a fraud at times. When I read my words on the page they seem so sub par. I can only try to improve. A part of me thinks the uplifting comments are coming from people that are being nice. I try to dismiss these thoughts that come from the negative aspect of my personality. The one that tells me that I am wasting my effort and that I am not good enough. I can’t listen to that side of me.


I won’t stop