Naptime Chronicles: How to Start Writing Again

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I’ve got nearly a year of parenting under my belt. The kid is ten months old. I thought I’d write about this life experience all of the time, but writing took a back seat. Part of it has been the anti-anxiety meds I got on after my mom died. I enjoy the silence more than I would like. The silence has been a gift. I don’t hear the crazy thoughts, but I also struggle to hear anything at all. The words don’t come to me as easily. They don’t string into sentences which string into paragraphs as effortlessly. I don’t have that constant narrator going off in my head. And like I said, I enjoy the silence more than I would like.

That’s the part that also sucks.

I’d also spent some time trying to get my work out there, trying to get an agent for a manuscript I have. I got a couple really encouraging bites, and then after several months of waiting, I got turned down by each of them. After a bad break-up and rejection, it’s hard to get back into dating again.

I may not be ready to start dating again, but perhaps I’m ready to fill out my online profile. I like walks on the beach and puppies and staring directly into sun until my cornea bleeds. I have, in fact, used that line in an actual dating profile. No one ever responded. I wonder why. I’m so good-looking.

Ah, I also lived through the most transformative and exhilarating year of my life in having a son. I’ve been a bit busy.

That part rules.

Not writing is a dull and constant ache. That I can still feel the ache is a good thing. So here I am. I’ve been contemplating just opening the flood gates and writing about the year all at once. Today is a good place to start. Now is a good time to start.

Why now? Because the kid is napping and I’m just gonna see how much I can pound out in whatever precious minutes of alone time the Gods decide to grant me.

I’ve learned a lot about life in the past year. I’ve always thought you could learn about the world by either traveling or reading. Since I hate leaving too far from my little hole in the earth, I’ve always been an avid reader to make up for it. Let’s add parenting to the third way of learning about the world.

Traveler, reader, parent. They have a lot in common. They enlighten us and tire us in the same ways. Getting home from a long trip, finishing the last page of a book, or FINALLY getting the baby down for a nap finally exhausts us and pleases us in just the same way.

Whenever life begins to feel small, it’s good to take a car ride somewhere on an open road. Or to the library to grab a good book. And I guess that’s why the wife and I had decided to have a kid. Our lives had begun to feel small in a way that an ocean trip couldn’t fix that one summer. It had rained every day on that trip, and outwardly we chalked our glumness up to that.

Six months later the wife found out she was pregnant. Two days after that, my mom died.

Death also has a way of opening up the world for you, except in a wholly cosmic, core-of-the-earth-splitting, gravity-fucking sort of way. Life will become so overwhelmingly large that you find yourself staring into the white hot center of it. Stare long enough and you’ll go blind. Stare even longer and you’ll see life is nothing of importance, never was, never is, forever and ever, amen.

And maybe that’s true.

Deep down inside, it is true.

You’ve got to come back down from all that though. You’ve got to ground yourself from all that. I did six months of grief therapy. Lady told me when I was feeling like that to go stand outside barefoot in the grass. The ground. I don’t what else to say except that the ground is a very important place to be.

I’m thinking maybe I’ll just stay. Besides, there’s nothing else better and the weather is nice most days than not.

I’ll stay here and I’ll raise my son, I’ll love my wife, and we’ll all take the dog on family walks. It’s easy get stoned on this blissfulness. And it’s hard to write while being so stoned on happiness and peace. There isn’t much exciting happening. Yesterday, the baby ate blueberries. The dog ate a foam ball. We don’t think either ingested very much however. Both spit the little pieces out everywhere, and it was an annoying mess to clean up.

But if I’m going to properly chronicle the year, I should start at the beginning, which was roughly four-o-clock in the morning, last July, when the wife sat up in bed and announced her water broke. Except I’ve got to end here for now. The Gods have deemed my time is up, nap-wise.

The Wife Almost Divorced Me For Buying This

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The wife almost divorced me for buying this, and by that you know I mean it’s yard sale season once again.

It’s a twenty-five-year-old cat food container that was filthy and covered in dust and soot when I picked it up off the ground at the yard sale we were at. So yeah, I admit it looked like a dirty piece of trash, since, well, that’s exactly it was. But it was only a quarter.

The wife was just like:
No.

But my mind was made up. I am totally buying this twenty-five-year old cat food container because it rules and will make an awesome coin bank. I’ve going to save all my coins in it and get rich and have a million dollars probably.

So if you’ve read this blog for a while, you pretty much know that my wife is the chillest person ever. She lets me do my thing and doesn’t mind all the things I collect. But things covered in dirt is where she draws the line. The wife couldn’t see past the dirt and grime on the thing, so she had a little meltdown about me buying and collecting trash and acting like the baby was going to be somehow traumatized by having a dirty cat food container lying around the house.

I still came home with it, cleaned it up, pointed out that this thing goes for $20 on eBay, and said I would write a blog post about it just to show her how everyone will agree with me that it rules.

This isn’t a blog post. This is an argument settler.

The Worst Ninja Turtles Things I Am Hoarding

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I have an awesome Ninja Turtles collection. But sometimes it is not awesome. Because some of these things are trash.

Like this. This dirty half-Santa Claus Raphael.

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What is this? Is it a half Santa, half Turtle? Where is the rest of it? Where is the beard, the hat? I do not have the answers to this, and yet I BOUGHT THIS.

The eye mask doesn’t even fit right. One eye is severely yellowed. The whole stuffed animal is severely yellowed. And somewhat brown. The tag looks like it was chewed off by a feral child.

Side note: The first time I ever used the word “feral” in a sentence, I didn’t quite understand what it meant, and so I used it to describe a squirrel. As in, the tag looks like it was chewed off by a feral squirrel.

The response I got was, “aren’t all squirrels feral?”

Whatever. I’m sure there are some out there who live in civilized colonies.

Then there’s this. This doesn’t even belong to me.

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It’s 12″ inch single of Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme, from the movie soundtrack. No one should own this for the following reasons:

1. No one knows this is even a real song in the movie.
2. No one knows this is even a real group with other real songs.

And also, like I said, this isn’t even mine. I’m just hoarding it. It belongs to my friend, and I was like dude, I need that. So he lent it to me for display in my collection, like it’s the on-loan Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian, only downgrade that by about six million.

Then I just have like, actual trash, too.

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I consumed all of these products and when I was finished I did not throw them away. I put them in my basement on the shelf. The wife doesn’t even know I did this. Until she reads this sentence. Hi honey.

I didn’t even buy that soda. The guy at the flooring store offered us sodas when we were looking at laminate, and I took one, drank it, left the the store with the empty can and saved it. That minor detail somehow makes it even worse.

No hoard is complete without a rotting pile of crappy VHS tapes.

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….Or the random box of Band-Aids.

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…Or the stash of Valentines.

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…or the four sealed boxes of mac & cheese.

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Here’s another thing no one should own:

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An actual toy from the Turtles III movie. The movie is so half-assed that it doesn’t even have a proper name. You can see the box art sort of struggles with this concept by calling it both Movie III and Turtle III Movie. For the DVD release, they gave it a subtitle of Turtles in Time, but that’s neither here nor there.

I found this at the flea market:

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Oh look, a decomposing partially melted candle of Raphael, which I originally mistook for a hardened gob of Play-Doh at the bottom of a box next to a dustbunny and hairpin. Sure, I’ll give you fifty cents for this.

Finally, how about this:

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Yay, a flash gun with a visibly corroding thirty-year-old battery leaking acid. Yay, lead poisoning.

Yay, hoarding.

Yay.

Just Sayin.

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Me and my kid have matching guinea pig shirts and cheeseburger hats.

I Took My Kid to See the Easter Bunny.

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I took my kid to see the Easter Bunny.

By which I mean I was conned out of thirty bucks by a slick, manipulative hustle, smoothly operated by blank-faced teenagers.

SCENE: The Mall. 5:48 PM. Like kids getting ready for the prom, we were nervous and excited. A little awkward, but full of resolve and playing it cool. Typical, twitchy, new parent stuff. That’s what we’re like, rolling through the mall with all our gear, pushing our baby, yo. Struttin’. Stylin’. We stopped at the Children’s Place and I bought my kid a cheeseburger hat.

SCENE: The Easter Bunny Shakedown. 6:15PM. I immediately note that this isn’t what I had pictured in my head. Not that I even had a clear image of anything in my head. My memories are fuzzy. Like, I’m somewhere back in 1988, in the back corner of a department store, staring down a beige/somewhat yellowed Easter Bunny, sitting on an also beige/somewhat yellowed wicker chair.

I can’t tell if my memories have this yellow tint because of the fading, chemically-smearing photos stored in a bin in my parents’ basement, or because everything in the 1980s kind of WAS that color.

So yeah, wicker chairs. With a massive fake floral arrangement around it, partially strangling the back of the wicker chair like a vine. The flowers aren’t silk. They’re the kind that almost feel like sandpaper to the touch. The flowers are pink and yellow and beige and PUCE. Oh yes, puce. It was a staple color of the 1980s. Everything kind of WAS that color, too.

I don’t remember this for certain — maybe it only looks that way in those fading photographs — but I’m pretty sure the 1980s Easter Bunny’s costume fur is ratty and smells like gym sneakers.

SCENE: We hesitantly approach the female cashier with a neck tattoo. 6:17 PM.

Wait, what?

Yes, a neck tattoo.

Holy shit dude.

This chick is hard. I’m talking Snoop from the Wire-hard, with the straight-up Baltimore-street accent sliding off the tongue as she tells me the full photo package is $29.99.

I’m not an easily intimidated person. I can actually be intimidating myself. Except here’s the thing about me now. I’m soft now. I’m standing there wearing a diaper bag strapped across my chest, gripping the foam handles of my Chicco Liteway Travel System Stroller, while wearing poorly-fitting jeans and dad sneakers and a shirt with a spit-up stain on it.

And my wife’s no help. She’s in full-on mom-mode kneeling down in front of the kid, simultaneously brushing his hair and digging in her purse to find a tissue to clean his cheek with.

You know what we look like?

Suckers.

Still, I manage eek out a teeny, tiny scoff at the $29.99 price. Snoop looks bored, but seems to take pity on me. She offers that I could buy just the one 5×7 for $19.99.

For twenty bucks, you get one stupid picture. For thirty bucks, you get a billion wallet photos that you don’t need, two medium pictures that you don’t need, but you also get the full resolution digital file.

The wife and I deliberate. Meanwhile, I take a moment to fully scope out the Shakedown. Unlike the mall’s Santa Village, which is an ornately-decorated walk-thru event in the center plaza, the Easter Bunny’s surroundings are stark. It’s a few pieces of propped up cardboard and fabric, quick to assemble and even quicker to disassemble, like some sort of sketchy tent revival that pops up overnight to take your money and heal the crippled. It sits in the quiet back corner of the mall, near the going-out-of-business artisan soap store.

In the middle of it all the Easter Bunny sits, completely still. Not a single movement. Is it an animatronic? Is it a serial killer? Is it dead?

Nope, it just moved. Phew.

It’s eerie.

It’s terrifying.

I take a stealthy picture, pretending I’m just looking at phone, somewhat afraid the Easter Bunny’s goons might appear out from behind the mall fountain and drag me off.

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SCENE: The Shakedown. 6:20PM. We decide on the $29.99 package. Suckers. And with that we are whisked through the Shakedown. I give my name, we’re herded like sheepdogs towards the rabbit, the kid get plopped down on the lap, is somewhat manhandled by the costume paws, a picture gets taken, I pass Snoop my credit card, and she passes me the pictures. 6:21PM. The deed is done. Happy Easter.