Tag Archives: confession

Assessment Week: Freaky Friday

So here it is.

My first post in days upon days. No doodle to go with it.

What is this world (or at least my corner of it) coming to?

I suppose six months is something like a decade in blog years, but in reality, I’m still figuring out this whole life-work-blog balance. And I’m not doing very well, apparently.

See, with one wife, two jobs, and three kids, I keep pushing blogging off in favor of work that pays and actual human interaction with my immediate family members. I mean, I guess I could technically stop sleeping (which is kind of what I’m doing now, typing, as I am, at 12:39 a.m.), but I’ve been dieting lately too, and I don’t want to give up everything.

I realize that daily postings shifting to roughly weekly postings is a bit jarring to my hundreds of loyal readers, but as I said before, I’m still figuring this out. The Shallows are still very much important to me, and I’m working out some kinks that will allow me (or encourage me) to post here more often. In talking with my wife tonight, I realized that my posts don’t have to be perfect. My life isn’t, after all, and this blog is a fairly accurate depiction of that.

I aim to start posting more snippets. More quotes. More small stuff.

For instance, I could have posted something short yesterday, in honor of my wife’s birthday, when our 4-year-old burst into our room at 6:30 a.m. singing at the top of her lungs: “It’s Mommy’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! It’s her birthday! I’m not going to hit her!”

It’s not like the secondborn hits my wife often—or at all—on other days of the year. I think the lyric was just a statement of fact.

And boom: That’s a post.

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Food Week: Lego My Order

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First of all, my Admiral Akbar Lego mini-figure arrived today. So that’s cool. Though I’m a Trekkie at my nougaty heart, that heart has a chocolaty Star Wars shell sprinkled with sweet goodness from about a dozen other fandoms.

As I took the toy from its package and mentally pondered how best to set it up on my desk, I was reminded not of my Lego-filled childhood, but of a trip I took to a fast-food restaurant when I was a freshman in college. Join me in reliving a carefree evening in the late ’90s (insert wavy visual distortions and a shimmering sound effect here) …

I was hanging out with some friends—some older friends, because I was cool like that—at an off-campus house where we were watching Beauty and the Beast. This was the Disney movie, not the Linda Hamilton TV series—because (have I mentioned?) I was cool like that. Then someone voiced a hankering for a double-double, that twice-mystical hamburger creation available only at In-N-Out burger, the nearest of which was only half an hour’s drive away. So a good number of us crammed into a few available vehicles and drove.

Most fast-food eateries take your order, assign you a number, and then call out said number when your order is ready. Indeed, that’s how this In-N-Out burger does it today, but back then, the cashiers actually took down customers’ names and used them to call guests to pick up their food. As we waited in line, one member of our party decided we should all give names from Star Wars, to which I readily agreed—because, etc., etc.

I, of course, chose Admiral Akbar, the Mon Calamari Rebel military commander known most famously—to geeks, anyway—for shouting, “It’s a trap!” in Return of the Jedi. Who wouldn’t?

The In-N-Out employees clearly weren’t impressed with our idea. As our orders began arriving from the fryers and assembly lines, the guy at the pick-up counter flatly monotoned into the microphone: “Han. Darth. Your orders are ready.” We thought it was marvelous.

“Yoda. Luke. Your orders are ready.”

My friends picked up their bags of burgers and fries, their shakes and sodas. Then, when my turn came, I grabbed my order as the worker called out, “Jawarhalol. Your order is ready.”

I pride myself on knowing some pretty obscure facts and characters from Star Wars, but this name was new to me.

“Jawarhalol?” I said loudly, turning to the crowded restaurant. “Who’s named Jawarhalol?”

A man who’d come in after us—a man I’d never seen before—glared at me as he picked up his dinner. I looked back at him, realization striking me like a rare well-aimed blast from an Imperial stormtrooper. I was unsure of how to explain why I seemed to be mocking him in front of my friends and all of the other good people trying to enjoy In-N-Out, so I just stood there.

He didn’t say anything either, but I’m sure he was thinking, “You’re one to talk, Akbar.”

I don’t know when that restaurant made the shift from names to numbers, but I’d like to think that my friends and I prompted the change. In-N-Out Burger apparently couldn’t repel cleverness of that magnitude.

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The Party You Are Trying to Reach is Unavailable

locked out

The text from my wife read, “We’re at the movie. I had 2 shots of honey bourbon before we left (yay for not driving)! Feeling very luxurious. I love you!”

I didn’t encourage my wife to go out with a friend this evening to earn any special treatment from her, but the thought of her buzzed and happy and feeling thankful when she got home certainly made me optimistic for, well, the sort of evening that unfolds when my wife is buzzed and happy and thankful.

I put away dinner and got all three kids into their pajamas at the closest to bedtime we’ve been all week. The thirdborn, at 19 months old, has a strict routine he wants to follow every night. It involves a particular book about a puppy (which I couldn’t find tonight), and humming a hymn, and holding hands to pray, and turning a white noise generator to “ocean waves,” and hugging three stuffed animals before pushing them away, and then flopping around forever. My wife usually goes through most of this routine with him in our room while I read three stories to the girls in their room.

My firstborn lost two stories today for behavior issues, which presented a logistical problem akin to getting a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain across the river. The girls would share one story together. The secondborn would get two more stories apart from her older sister. The boy didn’t want to stay in the girls’ room, and I didn’t want to leave the oldest alone while everyone else went into my room and tried to go to sleep.

So I read everybody a story in the girls’ room, then switched rooms and put my firstborn in my bed and equipped her with headphones plugged into an iPad playing Disney Pandora. I hunkered down on a mattress on the floor with the second- and thirdborn. We read two stories—substituting a second-favorite book about ladybugs for the missing book about the puppy—then turned out the lights.

Surprisingly, it all worked.

My son rolled and kicked, and my secondborn curled up on my legs, but everybody nodded off, one by one. When the last kid started breathing in that heavy “now I’m sure he’s asleep” way, I extricated myself from the tangle, congratulated myself on successfully figuring out the bedtime puzzle, and headed out of the room to do a little last-minute cleaning.

Upon descending the stairs I saw—serendipitously!—my wife just arriving at the back door. I went to let her in. And noticed her tear-filled eyes.

“Are you OK?” she asked, somewhere between a frantic gasp and a sob.

Before I explain why she asked that, let me set some more of the scene:

My son has recently figured out how to open our front door. During this past rainy weekend, I heard it slam and looked out our front window to see the guy purposefully limping down toward the street, one foot shoved into a yellow boot, the other bare. Tonight, I made sure I locked it. I’m getting into the habit.

I locked the back door behind me when I came home from work.

I often turn off my work cell phone in the evening, because it’s my work cell phone.

I left my personal cell phone in the girls’ room when I decided to move everybody into ours. I left my laptop in there, too.

The portable phone in our room (yes, we still have a land line) never made it back onto its charging base the last time we got a call (I’m note sure when that was, because only my parents, the blood bank, and telemarketers call the land line). Its battery had died.

We usually keep a window or two cracked in our bedroom for airflow, but we closed them both during the aforementioned recent rains and haven’t reopened them.

Got all that?

Here are the texts my wife sent me later in the evening, about half an hour before I came downstairs:

“I’m home and locked out.”

“Please let me in the house.”

There were also messages on my phone (“Hello? It’s your wife! I’m locked out of the house. Can you let me in please?”) and the house answering machine.

The Facebook message she sent read, “I’m locked out of the house.”

The white noise generator and faint strains of “Hakuna Matata” coming from my daughter’s headphones, coupled with my humming “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for my son, apparently drowned out my wife’s shouts from the driveway. And her pounding on the doors. And the doorbell.

My trip downstairs to find her knocking on the back door was serendipitous only in that her own cell phone battery had just died and she was out of options for trying to reach me.

But she really liked The LEGO Movie.

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A Quick Note

I spaced this weekend. I totally spaced.

Near the end of the day on Friday, I realized I hadn’t yet posted for Freaky Friday. The next time I looked up, it was after midnight. Oops.

On Saturday, I spent the day building forts and going on imaginary treasure hunts with my kids and cleaning up around the house. I assembled a shoe rack. At one point, I had the baby strapped to me in a carrier while I did the dishes. Also, I was in my boxers. Maybe I was trying to turn my wife on.

That evening, after the kids went to bed, we decided to rest, so we started a show we’d heard good things about: Scandal. We binged on that. Then, well, I had done the dishes earlier …

The next time I looked up, it was after midnight. Oops.

I decided to make Sunday a day of rest, and by that I mean a day of working on freelance projects. Plus more Scandal.

And now, here we are.

I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled posting today, but it was nice having a few days off, even if they weren’t planned.

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Imagination Week: Worry Wednesday

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If you can read this, it means I’m still alive somewhere.

No, I’m not holed up while defending my family from the zombie apocalypse. I’ve been trying to make some technical tweaks to my blog—changing the address to a simple standingintheshallows.com, for one—and for a while, nothing seemed to be working.

I was worried because I couldn’t see the Shallows anymore, and I imagine you couldn’t either.

But as I could still get into the admin side of things, I could still write posts. And I knew that said posts would go out to more than 700 readers who’ve subscribed via e-mail (and who now know that I’m not exactly on track to be the next Steve Jobs due to my online fumbling). So I started writing this digital message in a virtual bottle.

Some of the technical jargon I read noted that it can take up to 24 hours for domain name changes to take effect, but the “page not working” message I repeatedly saw had the word “never” in it—as in “don’t wait around for this to start working, because you broke it and it’s never going to get back together again.”

I turned to some fellow dad bloggers for help—thanks Adam Cohen from DaDa Rocks!—and they talked me through the mini-crisis I was having, assuring me that it all looked fine on their end.

I’d like to say that I was sure all along that I didn’t do anything irreversible, but you know how I worry. Not even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could help with Humpty Dumpty, and they had to have been pretty well trained, right?

On the plus side, I spent the evening worrying about web stuff as opposed to my kids’ health—though I didn’t like the sort of raspy sound of my son’s cry when he woke up a little while ago. Ah, well. The night is young.

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Memory Week: Uh …

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“Did you bring up my phone?”

My wife asks the question around her toothbrush as I walk into our bedroom after a quick trip downstairs. I reply quickly and easily: “No.”

Her eyebrows furrow, and then I realize that she’s not just asking out of curiosity.

“Was I supposed to bring up your phone?”

The toothbrush stops.

“You told me you were going downstairs,” she says, “and I asked you to bring my phone back up with you.”

I nod.

“I guess I didn’t hear you,” I say. “I mean, did I respond?”

“You said, ‘Sure.'”

My I-think-you-might-have-only-thought-you-asked-me-to-do-that-out-loud defense can only work so many times. Actually, it never has. So I apologize.

“Sorry,” I say—but then I dilute it by adding, “but I have no recollection of you asking me to do anything when I was going downstairs.”

It’s not like this happens every night, but it happens enough for it to register. At 35 years old, I’m not concerned about my memory leaving me, but I do notice that I’ll set something down, walk out of the room, and not be able to find it when I walk back in 30 seconds later.

That has more to do with our house being cluttered, our having three children who whisk things away (I find my frequently worn sandals in places I didn’t take them off), and my general scatter-brainedness than it does with pure memory, I believe. I hope.

One of my favorite movies when I was growing up was The Absent-Minded Professor—the black and white one, from way back before the Robin Williams remake. Being absent minded has always had a charming, eccentric vibe to me, but I realize it’s not so charming to the people who have to put up with the fact that I don’t know exactly where the car keys are or that I don’t have the laundry basket I apparently agreed to bring in from the garage.

I don’t have a huge takeaway from this, either. I’d like to say that I’m going to resolve to pay more deliberate attention in 2014, but I don’t know how realistic that is. Perhaps a genuine apology to my wife will suffice?

I think I’d feel a lot worse about this—am I tuning my wife out and just automatically agreeing with stuff in order to give her some sort of response so she knows her words at least registered with me on some level?—if she didn’t do it too from time to time to me. Not as often. But from time to time.

I think.

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Thanks Week: Happy Hanukkah

Thanks Week: Happy Hanukkah

I aim to post in the Shallows every day. I generally write in the evenings and set the post to automatically go live at 6:30 a.m. the next morning.

Some nights, however, I’m really tired, or I have other work to do, or I spend more time with my children or wife or all four. Daily updates take discipline—something I’m trying to develop—but I also want to be realistic when it comes to my time. I want “dad” to be the most important word in the title “dad blogger.”

That means I’m choosing to go easier on posting during the holidays. I didn’t have this one ready by my morning deadline. It’s not particularly weighty or funny. And tomorrow might be the same.

Also, a confession: As I drew this morning’s doodle, I decided to put a menorah-ish design on my T-shirt, though I own no such article of clothing. I’ve done that a few times, most notably in my gravatar image, which features me wearing a guitar shirt that has no analog in my closet. I’m not sure why. I do have a Big Fish shirt, though.

Despite my lack of a real menorah shirt, however, allow me to wish you a genuine happy Hanukkah. And a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, too—just in case.

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Toy Week: The Truth Hurts

Toy Week: The Truth Hurts

I’ve been a best man several times.

Because of that frequency, I developed a sort of signature bachelor party that involved going to the beach for a bonfire and attacking the groom-to-be with water balloons if he failed to correctly answer questions about his soon-to-be bride.

When I was engaged, my best men (I had two) threw a similar celebration/hazing for me, quizzing me on facts they’d learned via an interview with my fiancee. The emcee equipped the other guys with ammunition, made me stand a certain length away, and then began reading by firelight.

The first question: What was her favorite childhood toy?

I paused for just a moment, then replied: “It was, uh, this stuffed dragon.”

My tongue had hardly left the roof of my mouth to make the final “n” when I heard a rush of air. A water balloon less arced than rocketed into my crotch, where it failed to pop. It was just a solid projectile smacking me in the groin.

There was silence as I doubled over. But still I looked up and maintained eye contact with the emcee. The other guys, all in a line, held their water balloons—the attacker was obvious due to his empty hands. Even the nearby breakers seemed to pause as everyone waited for the judge’s verdict.

A pallet cracked as it was consumed by flames.

“Actually,” the host said, “he’s, uh, he’s right.”

I tried to plead some sort of penalty for the offender—I can’t be bruised and battered like that for the honeymoon, I argued—but nobody cared. They weren’t there to be impressed by my knowledge of my future wife. They were there to pummel me.

Since I have three children, I obviously recovered. And since that was almost a decade ago, I’ll make a confession here: Before my bachelor party began, my fiancee told me—just in case anyone happened to ask—about her favorite childhood toy. So maybe I cheated. A little.

My best friends in the world might not have cared about the condition of my guy parts, but I care about theirs. That’s one of the reasons I’m participating in Movember, which aims to combat testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and negative mental health issues.

You hear that, J.I.? I hope your testicles are doing well.

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