A “word” on house guests.

 As I have made mention here previously, I’m not a native Southerner.

With that being said, my family and I had our first group of official houseguests this year. Sadly, one set right after the other.

The first set was my brother and his significant other. He came down first and palled around with me for a few days and then she came down on the following weekend. It was a good time.

The biggest takeaway from that first visit was that my family, as well as our home, isn’t set up to receive houseguests. Initially, my brother slept on an air mattress in the living room. Eventually, the fact that his schedule didn’t jive with that of my families’ necessitated in him getting a room. No biggie as I’m sure that he and his girl wanted to knock boots without the added pressure of perhaps traumatizing one of my children. Still a good time was had by all. 

The following week, my wife’s mother finally made good on her threat of driving down to visit us. 

It would have been fine if it weren’t for the fact that she waited until getting to Tenne-fucking-see to tell us that she brought her mother (that is, my wife’s grandmother, of whom she never, ever got along with) with her and that the two of them would be kicking my two girls out of their beds regardless of the fact that their visit coincided with the kids school days. 

Total dick move on the mother-in-law’s part. 

We all suffered it well, myself especially. My wife got off easy because she “had to work” 3 out of the 4 days that they were down here to visit.

(While it would be easy to say that my wife should have handled it, I would like to point out that I have absolved her from any wrong doings with respect to her involvement with her mother. My wife and I have had similar upbringings and I understand how hard it is to suffer a parent’s bullshit like that).

Suffice it to say, should her mother threaten us with a repeat visit like that, I will undoubtedly unleash a salvo of “OH FUCK NAW!” and blog about it here, subsequently. 

What dawned on me during my mother-in-law’s bullshit visit was the fact that I let the skinny little shit steal my joy at first.

Throughout the course of any given person’s life, they are only allowed a daily amount of joy. Said joy is taken, extinguished, pissed and/or shat on, and ultimately ruined. What’s often disregarded is the fact that to let someone do that to you, is a choice.

You choose to let the person ruin your day, or you choose to give them the proverbial finger. 

Go ahead: argue all you want. You know that I’m right.

After the aforementioned epiphany, I proceeded to fuck with my guests on a rather artistic level.

I never go in for being an obvious dick. I work up to it. Make them more than aware that I’m not serving them food, offhanded comments about how the girls didn’t sleep that well, the occasionally incendiary comment thrown at them letting them know that their welcome was worn out before they breached the state line, that type of stuff.

On their final full day, I had the wonderful idea to clean the entire garage. At this point it was completely fucked and I knew that it would eat up my entire day while the kids and the wife were away.

Not to be stingy with my joy, I pulled my wife into my web of fun. What follows is a text conversation I had with her throughout the course of that day.

************

Thought you’d like to know, CURRENTLY, “the guests” are on the back patio. The “skinny one” is doing a Leslie Sansome Walking Workout on a portable digital video disc player. The “fat one” is watching Leslie with rapt attention.

THE HORROR!

As I have been keeping my distance and maintaining minimal contact, I have noticed that the “skinny one” has migrated to the trampoline area. She’s not using the trampoline, merely using the edge of it to keep her digital video disc player off of the ground. I can only presume that there was a disagreement with the “large one”.

As I pretend not to watch, I can’t help but wonder if Security Forces will pick her up for vagrancy.
The “skinny one” has finished her “walk” and has made contact. I didn’t hear what she said as I had ear buds in.

I did however reply in Spanish. She seemed pleased.

wife:
I would check to see what she said unless you like surprises.

me:
This is true with the “fat one”, the “skinny one” seems quite benign.

wife:
You are awful!

me:
This is the highlight of your day: DONT DENY IT!

wife:
Yes it is.

me:
😎 glad I can be “too kewl fer skool” for ya!

IMG_3152

The “skinny one” seems confused as to the operation of the trampoline. Prior to her mounting it, she tried the “lick/sniff test” common to her people.

At this point, urination became a serious matter to my overall well being. Knowing full well where “the skinny one” was as she had now gone on to the tactile portion of her learning about something new (eg touching the previously mentioned foreign object and grunting her findings) common to her culture, I decided to throw caution to the wind and use one of the toilets inside.

Damn my cursed luck! The “fat one” was emerging from the toilet in the “commoners bathroom”. While it was rather thrilling for her to try and engage me in conversation (not breaking my stride for fear of pissing myself, she commented on the fact that I was lucky that I didn’t have to curl my hair. Out of fear I replied “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? MAH HUR IS NATURALLY STRAIGHT!) it is not something that I would like to repeat for the rest of my days.

**********

They left the following day. See?

THERE THEY GO!

THERE THEY GO!

Have a horrible house guest story you feel like sharing? Hit it in the comments at the top of this post!!!

On Sleeplessness and Getting ‘Quality Sleep’.

I have had issues with sleep since the 4th grade. 

At that time, I was a child of two worlds. This is also known as living with mom during the week and living with dad during the weekend.

During the week, I was inundated with the strict Catholicism that my mother tried to use as a tool to enforce my obedience. On the weekend, my newly sober father was multi-tasking: he was learning how to be a father again (as he was drunk when he was supposed to be doing those duties when my siblings were my age) by basically letting me do whatever and spoiling the shit out of me (a common tactic divorced dads usually resort to in an effort to curry favor with their children). Occasionally, he’d alternate spoiling me with letting me know how he really felt about my mother.

One time he dropped me off from school and laid this one on me: “I would be getting out of prison right about now if I had killed your mother.” I was still in the 4th grade at the time.

Freshly divorced parents are too self absorbed to realize that if there is a kid in the picture, that the familial schism that their hubris has caused is going to fuck up the kid more than it ever will them. 

So, from the 4th to the 8th grade getting quality sleep was a pain in the ass for me. If I couldn’t shut my brain off at night, I was getting to bed on time only to wake up an hour later unable to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. By the weekend, I was completely fucked because my father wanted to be ‘the cool dad’ so it became normal for him to let me sleep until the afternoons.

Bear this in mind: I harbor no ill-intent towards either of my parents. I’m just illustrating how sleep was a hard won ally for me. 

From high school until the present day, I didn’t fare much better. Sure, I got better at understanding people and how they worked. And sure, gainful weekend employment coupled with social activities made going to sleep at the end of the night a breeze thanks to sheer exhaustion. But getting enough quality sleep has always been a pain.

In recent years, if it hasn’t been anxieties about employment, or the future, it’s been about someone else: a new baby, a sick child, or a light sleeper sleeping next to me.

Since I have become the resident Resident of my family and since I have accepted the fact that I can’t burn the candle at both ends (like I did in my youth now that I’m in my mid-30’s) sleep is my favorite hobby.

Unfortunately, there are still some incidences where I can’t turn my brain off.

What to do in the Event of a Sleep Malfunction.

Before I go further, I should re-iterate that I’m not a sleep expert, nor am I a medical professional. 

I’m just another asshole who has an opinion and can kind of write good.

If you’re having trouble sleeping for a prolonged period of time (longer than a week), quit dicking around and make a doctor’s appointment. I  personally hate hospitals and I have a general disdain for doctors. However if there’s something keeping me from sleeping that may be “internal” you better damn well believe I’m making the appointment.

If you can’t bring yourself to do that, here is a short list of things that have worked for me in the past. (Maybe something herein will work for you too).

  1. Ear plugs and an eye covering of some sort. Yes, it’s a very thin line that separates you from a bird in a bird cage when you use these tools but sensory deprivation fucking works. I don’t use ear plugs often because they get irritating after a while, but I do make it a habit to cover my head. No light = better sleep.
  2. Daily physical activity (a.k.a keep yourself so busy through the course of the day that you have no choice but to go to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow). Think of it this way: you’re earning your right to sleep at the end of the night.
  3. Writing and meditation. Both are very effective means of helping you shut your brain off. I use the writing because I live with four different and dynamic people. Sometimes they do shit and behave in a way that makes me want to squeeze their heads so hard that their brains shoot out of their assholes. Instead of doing that, I write about the stupid shit they do that pisses me off. In doing so, I’m able to strike an understanding of said behavior and come to a middle ground without entertaining the idea of exactly how much Comet I would need in order to clean up feces and grey matter. The meditation has helped in the past because sometimes you just need to sit down and breathe. The only problem with that is that you need to make yourself do it consistently so it becomes a habit. Here are the apps that I use: Stop, Think, and Breathe, Meditation Studio by Gaiam.
  4. Alternate methods and drugs. As far as the ‘alternative methods’ are concerned, they’re pretty simple. The first one that I started using was to have a cup of ‘sleepy’ tea. Lame sounding, but it works. Lately I have been partial to Sleepytime Celestial Seasonings with Echinacea. It’s fucking delicious and is just as good as a traditional ‘night cap’. Sure, I have to get up in the middle of the night to take a piss, but it’s a small price to pay for quality sleep. My recent addition to my sleep regimen has been leaving one of my feet uncovered. I read an article on Mental Floss that explains the science behind it and guess what? It fucking works. I get to sleep faster. My last method I don’t do as often as I should: it’s taking a cold shower before bed. Doing this is the real life equivalent of getting hit over the head with a sledge hammer. I first came across this when Tim Ferriss included it in his book, The 4 Hour Body and came across it again when AOM did a post on it as well. It works. And yes, you get used to the blast of cold water on your bits rather quickly. With respect to taking pills to go to sleep, I haven’t taken any that require a prescription (yet). When it comes to over the counter drugs like Benadryl and Melatonin, I highly suggest that you tread lightly and do your own research. Speaking for myself, both drugs have consistently left me sleep drunk (I need to take a nap shortly after getting up in order for the fog of drugs to dissipate). This may not be the case with you. Again, tread lightly.

Have a sleep ritual or trick you’d like to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

 

Save me a spot at the table.

I’ve been a member of the ‘dead-dad’ club for nearly 15 years. To be more precise, it’s been 13 years. Saying that it’s been 15 sounds better. At any rate, what I had failed to realize until the last week that my father was alive, was that I was his caregiver.

It was the year 2000 and I was 20 years old.

For about a month, Dad was having a strange problem. His days would start like they always would but an hour or so after he left his home, he would have to come back and take a nap.

He wasn’t doing anything strenuous. He was not a fitness enthusiast. He was into photography, baking, and various forms of lecherous behavior.

It wasn’t long before a doctor’s appointment needed to be made. I remember talking to him on the day that he was supposed to have his appointment. He said he was going to call me after to let me know how it went. It was a mid-afternoon appointment that shouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of hours.

The entire day went by and I hadn’t heard a peep from him. I called his apartment, no answer. He didn’t have a cell phone so in my mind, he was missing.

My only other option was the phone book. After 15 minutes of calling every phone number listed under his HMO that I thought was relevant I managed to track him down. He told me that they were still running tests on him, and getting everything processed was taking a lot longer than usual.

He assured me that he would let me know what the verdict was when he knew.

A couple of days later I get the call from him telling me that it was colon cancer.

It wasn’t so bad at first. Physically speaking he was fine. He didn’t have trouble getting around until the last two weeks.

What was hard about the entire situation was the mental and emotional toll that it took on the both of us. Him, with his impending mortality and me, with my youthful ignorance.

My father was never a social person. It just wasn’t a part of his personality. He’d occasionally meet with someone he used to work with. But his retirement propelled him further into anti-social behavior. Prior to his diagnosis he had become slightly estranged from our family so really, he just had me.

It made it hard not to feel guilty when I’d need some time for myself.

The week before he passed away things were at their absolute worst. He was having trouble getting in and out of the shower. He had a loss of appetite as well as a complete dip in energy level. It got to the point where he needed to have a nurse visit him everyday.

The nurse was the first person who first referred to me as a caregiver. The term kind of threw me off because it was the first time that I had heard it used, let alone applied to me. She gave me a packet on what my role was and what was expected to happen. I remember thinking that everything that I read in the packet was really odd because it was all stuff that had happened, was happening, or it was something that I could see happening in the future. Talk about ‘a day late, and a dollar short’.

What a lot of people don’t realize is, is that regardless of the care giving situation, every one needs a break. The person who is ailing needs to lean on someone else for a while so that the ‘main’ care giver can recharge their batteries and feel like a normal human being. That way, everyone can take a deep breath before they get back to the task at hand.

I don’t regret anything that happened, anything that I did or anything that I did not do. I think that had I had been a little bit older, I would have had the common sense to ask for help.

Getting a break every now and again wasn’t a real problem, finding the courage to open up and talk to someone was.

On a closing note, one of the things that I remember was his morbid fascination with his predicament.

One day, we went for a drive and he starts telling me about this thing that he found on-line. It was a list of things people said to each other upon the death-bed of their loved one, or should one lover die before the other, etc.

Naturally, he posed the question to me: If I croaked next week, what would you say to me on my death-bed?

I took half a second to think about it and I said ‘Save me a spot at the table’.

 

Whitney Houston’s Ghost!

Families get weird after a key family member shuffles off of this mortal coil. I’m not the type of person to piss on the bones of a dead person but with the fact that Whitney Houston’s Hologram is in the news, I’ll be making an exception.

Yes, she’s dead. Was it a tragic death? It depends on how you look at it.

According to ABC News, she died in a bathtub in a hotel room in Beverly Hills. Near her corpse were various prescription medications as well as bottles of beer and champagne. If her daughter was an eight-year-old then yes, I would say that that is a tragic death. However her daughter was 18. Last I checked, once you make it to this age society deems you capable of taking care of yourself.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but it sounds like Whitney couldn’t handle life anymore. Honestly, I’m not surprised. Why is the rest of the world? The last I heard of Ms. Houston she had made a gigantic ass of her self to the entire world with a feeble attempt at making a comeback.

I can recognize someone at the end of their rope, why can’t anyone else?

Yes, she was a very talented singer. During her heyday, her musical range was matched by no other. That is, until Mariah Carey came along. Here’s a fun fact: play the next YouTube clip with your eyes closed. Betcha can’t tell the difference between Whitney and Mariah!

I cannot believe how completely bat-shit the entire world has gone over Whitney’s departure. MJ I understood. He was the “King of Pop”. Regardless of his pedigree, he brought a certain amount of musical sophistication to the table regardless of how fucked in the head he was.

Whitney was a has-been who tried in vain to get back in the spot light. Speaking for myself, the fact that the entire world has to stop because said has-been drowned in a bathtub after mixing prescription drugs and alcohol only proves one thing: I will never understand the world outside of my own home.

At the time of Ms. Houston’s demise, a friend put the whole situation rather eloquently:

“The world is a wonderful, terrible place. There are amazing things every day, like Horner’s efforts and successes in turning chickens back into dinosaurs, goats that give spider silk, and scientists just discovered Bexarotene appears to quickly reverse the pathological, cognitive and memory deficits caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Iran has cut off access to the internet because of anti-regime demonstrations. The American Congress has approved unmanned drone surveillance in US airspace. Cuba is drilling for oil, seeking the billions of barrels of oil and the trillions of cubic feet of gas that the US government says lie under Cuba’s offshore waters.

But you want to waste my time with a 48 year-old burn out who wasted a fortune on drugs and self-promotion? Get a life.

On that note, I leave you with this slightly unrelated clip.

You can not be around the same bunch of a-holes 24/7.

Since I have become the parent who stays at home for the children, there has been something impressed upon me over and over again: you can not be around the same bunch of assholes 24/7.

Doubly so if it’s the holidays.

Triple-ly so if it’s your family.

In case you haven’t read anything else here, or you just can’t remember, this holiday for my family and I was different than all of the others (not because I had the kids do the X-Mas shopping) but because it was the first holiday that we were on our own (e.g We have no relations that live in Florida).

As per usual, my wife elected to be on call this past holiday (she’s a nurse FYI) because the likelihood of her having to go into to work is pretty fucking slim. It’s her way of sneaking a little bit of a break into her stress-addled career.

That being said, everything lined up to where there was no need for me to leave the house at all.

The kids were out of school for two weeks.

The girls (who have gymnastics) were off for two weeks because the people who take our money apparently get tired out from doing just that.

(The wife, in total worked all of 8 hours over those two weeks).

Nice little family togetherness time, right?

Fuck. No.

Don’t get me wrong, there were nice moments here and there (the kids opening their presents, me and the missus getting out of the house on a couple of dates…) but they were completely dwarfed by the fact that we were all getting at each other’s throats.

A couple of asides: we don’t live in a “social desert” (e.g there’s no one for our kids to hang out with). There’s plenty of kids the same age as our children. Kids palling around with other like-minded kids gets old after a while if it’s the only thing at your disposal.

What our current area can be described as is a “cultural desert” (e.g. their are no museums, no “Little Italy’s”, etc.). Where we live there’s nothing but Urban Sprawl. If you want cultural, you have to drive at least 30 minutes in any direction or else plan extensively.

Additionally, when you are in an “on-call” situation (regardless of the field you are employed in), you’re basically chained to wherever you live because you have to be at work within a certain time frame.

Suffice it to say, these past holidays were rough.

Two days before everyone went back to their usual routine of work and school, I hearkened back to my days of home-schooling (more on that later) the children: I got out of the house, on my own, as much as possible. Bike rides, visiting family, going to one of a kind book stores, you name it, I tried to fucking do it.

Over the two holiday weeks, I did little things (like working out and playing video games) in an effort to take my mind off the fact that I wanted to sneak into my children’s room at night, give them each a reverse mohawk with a set of rusty nail clippers, and then fart on their heads upon exit.

It wasn’t enough.

I suppose I didn’t get out of the house partially out of guilt: I knew that I could be doing more as far as being a part of my family and I knew that if I left my wife at home with the children, things could sour for everyone rather quickly. Additionally, my wife couldn’t go anywhere that would take her more than 20 minutes away from the house.

Should you ever find yourself in that situation, I cordially invite you to give that noise the finger.

If you need to get out of the house, get out of the fucking house. If there’s something at stake, like the sake of your bond between your significant other (or your mental health), just make sure that you communicate your need to be an individual out in the world on his or her own in a way that doesn’t make said significant other feel like shit.

It is that simple. 

 

Have a horror story you’d like to share? Wanna give me my what-fors? Let’s hear it in the comments at the top of this post!