Personal thoughts

Going With the Flow

My wife and I had arranged a rare night out this past Friday. We decided to go a Cincinnati Red’s game and enjoy each others company while engaging in a session of people watching. The weather wasn’t cooperating. The humidity was around 99.9 percent and showers were moving into the area. Being the troopers we are, we would not let Mother Nature deter us in our quest for a kid-free, date night.

We started our journey behind schedule. This is not unusual for us, we are typically at least a few minutes late to about everything.  We packed a cooler, stopped to pick up food, and made our way downtown. Anyone that goes downtown, for an event, knows that finding a place to park is one of the prime concerns. Neither my wife nor I know the ins-and-outs of downtown driving, and finding a parking spot involves a lot of meandering around looking for parking garages close to the stadium.

The navigation went awry. We took a right onto a street and it ended up being the on-ramp to the bridge going to Newport. Once you take that right-hand turn there is no way not to cross the river to Kentucky.  (For those people reading this that are not familiar with Cincinnati, downtown and the stadiums are adjacent to the Ohio River. The bordering towns on the Kentucky side of the river are Newport and Covington.)   Due to construction and ever changing traffic patterns,  it is extremely inconvenient to cross the river going from state to state even if it isn’t rush hour.

We intended to bust a u-turn, cross the same bridge, and resume our quest to go to the Red’s game. This plan deflated before it even got off the ground. Orange barrels and construction signs blocked the path of the lane heading Northbound back across the bridge. We had reached a decision point.

Do we drive back to the interstate and have a second go at downtown driving, or do we abandon mission?

The humidity. the on-again-off-again rain-showers,  the fact we were coming up on being an hour late for the game, all played a part in our decision.  We gave up on the Reds game.

We went to the movies instead.

A wonderful time was had. Marriage Batteries recharged. I am glad we didn’t let a small detour ruin our night.

Flexibility is important in a relationship. This was a minor instance, but it illustrates a broader point. Plans and situations change, and you can either let them affect your attitude, or you can roll with the punches.

 

 

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Personal thoughts

Hard Questions

 Where do babies come from or what happens when we die?

 
These type of questions are the ones that many parents dread.  Once your kids are old enough to put some thought into how the world works their curiosity will cause them to ask deep philosophical questionsThe times that I make an answer up is rare. I don’t mind trying to explain these things on an age appropriate level to my kids. I enjoy the opportunity as a way to glimpse how their little minds work.  This is the chance to teach them to be thoughtful people.
 
I prefer giving them a simplified version of the truth as opposed to a well-meaning falsehood. 
 
I don’t like to lie to my kids. We, my wife and I, tell the standard lies: Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. The big questions that they ask are important to them, and I want to be honest as possible without introducing any biases. I don’t want them carrying around my baggage. I want them to make up their own minds and think for themselves.  I have met people that have had all their thinking done for them. They are shallow and severely co-dependent.
 
I encourage free-thinking. 
 
My 7-year-old is quite the little thinker. She will hold onto a thought and mull it over for days. Then, out-of -the-blue, she will ask a question, and it will make you stop and think before you can deliver an answer.  The subject matter can be heavy, but I try not to shy away from responding. Last summer when she was only 6  she asks me where does your mind go when you die.  That’s a whopper. I don’t want to traumatize my kids, but I also want to be open with them. After chewing on my words for a few moments I told her the truth as I see it.
 
I told her that I don’t know. That no one has proved anything one way or another. No one knows what happens when we are gone.  She asked me what I thought, and I said that it’s like a TV turning off. You just aren’t there anymore.  
 
The next day she asked me why earthquakes happen.  I was much better prepared to answer that question. 
 
The questions I hate the most are the hurtful ones.
 
Why is one of my classmates mean to me? Why do other kids make fun of me I get made fun o?
 
These are harder to explain. I remember those feelings and the self-blame that goes along with them.  I usually ask for more information. If my kids tell me what happened, and they were somehow in the wrong I use this as a teaching moment. The worst is when they don’t know why someone is being mean to them. I want my kids to be better than me with emotion and dealing with others.  I try to convey to them that sometimes when someone is nasty to other people they may not like themselves very much. Then they project their negative feelings onto others.  I try to make it clear to my kids that if they didn’t do anything to that person, then it isn’t their fault. 
Personal thoughts

I am most definitely not a robot…

I am most definitely not a robot…

I have a hard time with feelings and emotions, its not like I don’t experience them, I just feel like they happen deep under the surface if that makes sense. I have been told I am hard to read and a lot of the time I don’t really feel like I connect with people right away.

I try.

Fake it till you make it as the old saying goes.  I think about the proper reactions in situations and wonder if I am feeling a proper level of the expected emotion for the current situation.  This is something I have always considered.  Do we all feel emotions the same? Does my happiness feel the same as yours?  Of course, these are impossible questions to answer, but it does make one wonder.

I see other people traversing the battleground of social interaction and it boggles my mind how easy it seems for them. I get nervous and a bit anxious when I am interacting with a new group of people. I am not sure of how the social contract works when meeting new folks.  It takes sometime for me to acclimate to the a new person. I almost never hit it off with someone right off the bat.

My emotional retardation doesn’t mean I don’t care about people, quite the opposite, I care deeply for others, but  I don’t let them past my guard. I put up the Great-Wall-of-Robby and let a very select few inside. I am not sure why I am like this.

I still put myself out there, even if I am introverted, because I still like to talk and laugh with people, its just so much harder for me than for others, it seems. I wonder what it actually is?  What genetic jumble or childhood situation has caused me to have a difficult time with interaction. I just rarely feel completely comfortable with people. Its ok though. I am good with myself that is what matters.

I spend a lot of my time in my own head.

I don’t mean to seem cold and I am not ignoring you.  I promise, I did look for the thing that was right in front of me, I just didn’t see it. I laugh at the wrong places. I am quiet. I don’t like the obvious and I hate to feel put out.  My nature is to listen, observe, and take the time to process before I have a reaction. These traits seem to be off putting for some people.

Confession time.

I do silly little things to avoid awkward small talk. I will provide a small list to provide an example of how weird I am:

  • I will slow down or speed my walking pace to avoid notice by people that I think are going to interact with me.
  • I will wear my headphones with no music or anything playing to deter small-talk.
  • I will act like I am walking past an occupied elevator so the person won’t hold the door that way I can push the button and have a new, fresh elevator to myself.
  • At work I purposely will let my phone go to voicemail and have a message left that way I can reply with an email and avoid the phone conversation.
  •  Sometime I will just nope the hell out of a conversation by walking away.

 

These are just a few examples of the many things I notice about my behavior. My wife probably has a few dozen she could list off the top of her head.

Speaking of my wife…

My wife always will say that I hate people. Not exactly true. Chances are if you aren’t a level 10 horrible person then I am quite fond of you. Even with the fondness I most likely feel awkward around you.  I have never been the most adapt at navigating the social waters.

She is one of the rare people that I had no problem connecting with from the very first time I met her. She is outgoing and has no problem talking to people. Opposites really do attract. She pulls me out of my shell and  I am able to be a little less awkward socially. I will never be mister charisma but she makes me better.

 

 

Book Reviews

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas By John Scalzi


Meta and clever is the best way to describe this book. It pokes fun at itself while poking fun at the Star Trek universe. The first two thirds of the book reads like a mystery sci-fi thriller and after the big reveal a whole other story opens up. The last third of the book, where the story within a story gets told, gets ultra meta but in the context of the narrative the author did not lose me.

If you aren’t at least causally familiar with “Star Trek the Original Series” then you might want to skip this one as some of the tropes that are being lambasted are quite specific to the Trek Universe.

For example the basic premise of the book without spoilers is:

A young officer is off to a new assignment and from the the very first moment he notices small details that do not make sense. low level crew members keep dying at an alarming rate while the senior crew like the Captain, and science officer, among others, defy impossible odds on a regular basis.

This sounds like a description of a generic Captain Kirk adventure and that is what RedShirts is, but flip-flopped where the main focus is on the minor characters and they are fed up with the status quo. John Scalzi tells this story while at the same time he weaves an overarching plot that makes the book so much more.

I consumed this media via audiobook and the narration of Wil Wheaton was spot on.

Chocked full of wickedly funny scenes and situations that lampoon cheesy science fiction RedShirts is a fun read that does not disappoint.

Personal thoughts

Kids are Assholes

Kids are Assholes…

and it is wonderful. The pure honesty of what they say is innocent and blunt at the same time. Their statements embarrasses us, makes us laugh, makes us take a second look at ourselves.  A child’s comments can make your heart melt or cut you to the bone.

The raw honesty of kids that are first grade age and below is refreshing. In most situations they wear their hearts on their sleeve and speak their mind. If they want something they will tell you. If you make them laugh then you know they aren’t appeasing you to be polite, it is a true laugh. You don’t need to worry about the motivations of young kids they tell it like they see it from their perspective of the world.

It can be awkward sometimes.

I would like to read a collection of quotes that teachers and daycare providers hear from the kids that are in their care. I bet the other adults that interact with your kids have been told a tale or two that you wouldn’t want spread around.

The questions  and statements, especially in public.

Why does that man smell?

Daddy is this your dumb boss you talk about?

That person is ugly.

The reason that we cringe when our little one’s shoot off at the mouth is because they are being honest. Honesty is at times contrary to the unspoken social contract that most of us abide by.

If you are walking down the aisle of the grocery and you hear a little voice say “Mommy why is that person so fat.” I have bad news, you are fat. At least to the child’s point of view. Calm down, you are not being ridiculed and this isn’t because the child is being disrespectful. They just lack the social awareness that comes with age. In other words they have no filter and speak what is on their mind.

As kids grow they lose this because they start to understand the unseen agreements that we have in this culture. If some one is dumb, don’t point it out, if someone is overweight, don’t body shame them. Be polite and be courteous. Don’t highlight weakness.  This is a good thing overall. This social evolution allows us to interact with each other with less conflict, but it also gives rise to miscommunication, gossip, and overall less genuine people.

I wish that adults retained more of that blunt honesty than they do. I have trouble interacting with people who are two-faced or fake. I would rather know where I stand with someone instead of wondering if this person has an agenda.

Personal thoughts

Laughs and Looks

One of my most favorite sounds in this whole, wide world is my wife’s laugh. She, like most people, has many different types of laughs: Her polite laugh, her laugh when she is making small talk, her triumphant “HA!” when she does some difficult task, and many other varied laughs depending on mood, and situation.

All her laughs ,I love, but the one where the laugh comes out as a high pitch giggle/squeal is the one I know she can not hold back. That is the laugh I am 100% sure she means.

In contrast one of my least favorite things is the “look”.  I am sure you know the one I mean. Its the look that says that there is hell to pay and the bill is due. The one that says you are a stupid jackass and I don’t know why they allow you to keep breathing. If your partner is giving you the “look” too often then it becomes an almost  permanent expression and the laughter starts to die.  This will poison a relationship.

This would kill me.

 

I would hate if I never heard my wife’s genuine laugh again. I have been in relationships where the laughter has died and instead you get looks. I would rather have a marriage  full of laughs and embraces instead of disdainful glares and cold shoulders.  I have an awesome relationship and couldn’t as for anything better.

We aren’t perfect but where I have cracks she has edges and we just fit together.

With us being in a good place that means I don’t get the “look” often, but I know its there, just waiting, for the time when I hurt her or when I am too stubborn to admit I am wrong. I try my best not to bring the “look” out because I know her anger is a reaction from bruised emotions or disappointment that I caused.

I get sick to my stomach and I get anxious when I disappoint her or have hurt her somehow.   I loath that feeling of not knowing what to do to make something right. That is why I give my best effort to consider her feelings and make our marriage a team effort. A lot of it is small things. I ask her how her day was and kiss her first thing when I get home. I will pick up the groceries or do the dishes if she needs me too. If she has had a rough day with the kids then I don’t complain when she wants to leave for a couple hours when I get home from work.  I am not perfect and  I still fall short sometimes but she knows that my intentions are good.

Bring home wine that helps too…

Uncategorized

Cafeteria Politics

Those who know me, know that I’m a fairly even keel, middle of the road kind of guy. I am like that with my political views as well. I’m not a Republican nor am I a Democrat. I hate that America is pigeonholed into a two party system. I like ideas from both sides of the aisle. 

I wish, instead of a rightwing bag lunch or the liberal combo, I could order my politics à la carte. I just don’t understand why you have to choose sides and swallow your particular political party’s ideology hook, line, and sinker. 

I want to do bong rips at a gay wedding, firing guns in the air while having the peace of mind that comes with sound fiscal policy.

I also dislike that every political debate turns into school yard name calling. Don’t call each other libtards or Nazis, we are all doing our best and different life experiences shape each of our ideas.

If it ever gets tiring come sit in the middle with me I will save you a seat.

Uncategorized

Summer Daze

Have you ever watched monkeys put together a jigsaw puzzle? This is my afternoon. My neighbor is a hairstylist and slightly OCD. She doesn’t trust anyone else with her hair but she is unable to do the back. She calls my wife to come help her mom cut her hair. 

I show up to watch this debacle and the three of them are watching a YouTube video of the style my neighbor wants. Needless to say it is not going well at the moment. 

There has been much bickering and snatching of scissors. Might be the end of friendships or even a slight murder by the end of this hairdo. 

Did I mention that my wife has little to no experience cutting hair?

Myself, I have been enjoying the show. In fact there should be a reality show based on amateurs cutting a stylist hair based on verbal directions. I would binge watch the hell out of that. 

Personal thoughts

Parenting and The Importance of Bedtime.

Bedtime

I know from the title that you might to expect this to be about the importance of children getting enough sleep. —No, those little snots still have the eternal well-spring of energy that comes with youth– This is about how important it is to banish them to their room and for the parents to take the house back.

Be gone Disney, be gone asinine YouTubers,  farewell fidget spinners.  Your Mom and I have had enough squabbles over the remote, enough questions about when we can make slime, enough 4th grade drama, and enough of you.

This post may seem to be coming off mean.  It isn’t; I promise. I love my kids, I really, really do, but I also love doughnuts and as sweet as they both are (doughnuts and my kids both) having them all the time is neither good for your body nor mind.

This is why bedtime was invented. Think about it, if it were logical,  the poor working parents would go to bed before the kids, but no, we stay up later and get up earlier. While we manage our jobs, feeding the family, doing the laundry and etc.  It gets tiresome and I am the husband… My poor wife.   Instead we send the little balls of energy to bed to be well-rested, so they can be full of annoying vim and vigor all day tomorrow, while the slow grind of life wears us down to dust.

There is a reprieve, at the cost of less rest, we get a a magical hour or two of blissful peace. A time to watch shows that are not appropriate for ten-year-olds. A time for wine, beer, couch cuddles, and mutual tablet or phone zombie time.  This is the time of day where the marriage is rebuilt, the time when you are reminded that not only did you procreate with your spouse, but that you actually like spending time with them.

It’s great. You can curse, tell each other bawdy drinking stories, and gossip about the neighbor.  You no longer have to be the paragon of moral virtue and set an example for the part of the future generation that you spawned. The masks come off and the real you comes out like a werewolf on a full moon.

Try an experiment. Tonight or tomorrow, if you are reading this during the magic hours, take note of the tension in your shoulders through out the day. I would wager that as soon as you sent the Mongolian hoard that are your kids to bed, that the stress melts off of you like a toddler’s popsicle on new carpet.

Yet we love them. They are our world. But for Pete’s sake give us a break and go to bed!

 

 

Book Reviews

The Long and Short of It: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book Nine

The Madness of St Mary’s

Buyer beware if you think this is a whole new book.

This is a collection of short stories and all but one has been released before.

As much as I love the novels I think that the short story format is wonderful for this series. It allows the inherent silliness that you have come to expect to shine through with out having to worry about dealing with the consequences of events for a whole novel.

If the novels are the meal then these little tidbits are the desert. Without the supporting universe they would be of little substance, but in the context of the whole they deliver a satisfying experience that gives us a little slice more of the world that we crave.

I also like the insights to events that were previously off stage. and how they affect the crew at St Mary’s. I like seeing Markum shine in the spotlight, I enjoy the Dr Whoish Christmas special, I like that familiar characters show up on the very first jump. This fills in the gaps nicely.  If you haven’t read the whole series then I would steer clear because spoilers abound.

I highly recommend this anthology as a temporary fix while you wait for the next installment. Brew a cup of tea, put your feet up, and enjoy your visit with favorite gang of historians and supporting cast.

Kindle