Tag Archives: Freaky Friday

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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Memory Week: Freaky Friday

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I didn’t intend for this week to become a doodle gallery, but cleaning my desk(s) for the New Year yielded so many examples of what happens when I get a pen in my hand.

I’ve showcased some of the random faces I’ve found over the last couple of days, but I saved a few for Freaky Friday. For hopefully obvious reasons.

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I’ve recently learned that there are some people—my firstborn among them—who seem to have to be doing some sort of physical activity while they listen in order to process the information they’re receiving. Fiddling with a pencil, for example, lights up part of the brain that in turn helps to hear and comprehend words coming in. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

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While learning about this phenomenon, I realized—somewhat belatedly, I suppose, since I’m 35—that I have to be one of these people, too. I can’t keep still. I’m always either chewing on a pen, sticking one behind my ear, flipping it around my fingers, or—obviously—doodling.

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Sometimes the doodles are repetitive. I found half a dozen variations on a rabbit done in orange highlighter.

But sometimes the doodles make me wonder what dark corners the lit-up parts of my brain were illuminating, and what else is hiding there in the shadows.

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Carol Week: Freaky Friday

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Kids singing in unison can be sweet. It can also be creepy. It depends on the time of day they’re singing. And the listeners’ frame of mind. And how in-key they are.

It’s not just singing, either. My girls can be very sweet in their general interactions, but they can also freak me out.

Two or three nights ago, my 6-year-old was being mildly rude to my 4-year-old as they got ready for bed, so I dropped some fatherly (though admittedly made up, as I’m an only child) wisdom:

Me: Treat her well. You’ll be sisters your whole lives.

Firstborn: I hope we die together. Like if someone shoots me with an arrow, it goes through me and hits her, too.

Second: Maybe she can be standing in line, and I’m right behind her, and the arrow would go through us and make a big hole.

Me: Uh … that’s … a nice … thought?

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Waiting Week: Freaky Friday

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This has been a busy week!

Well, they’re all busy, aren’t they? I’ve never liked using “being busy” as an excuse for falling behind in something, but that doesn’t stop me from doing so.

Still, it has been a busy week.

At this point, I’m just waiting for the week to end, as we’ve got a marathon of holiday activities planned for the weekend, including attending a holiday parade, a craft fair, a ballet, and a live performance of Mary Poppins, for which we’re skipping a potluck.

So it’s going to be a busy weekend, too.

I beg your pardon for not going too introspective or “themey” with today’s post. As happened with my spider/Internet post from yesterday, today’s image and the text weren’t planned to marry together—but unlike yesterday’s post, I’m not having a last-minute realization of a connection, no matter how slim or subtle.

My doodle today came from a conversation I had with my firstborn, when she was about 4 years old. I walked in to hear her declare to me: “Mom’s evil.”

I froze.

“Oh,” I said. “Tell me more about that.”

“I’m evil, too,” she said.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to this one. While I fumbled for the best way to continue this conversation, she added: “So, we’re the stepsisters. You can be the prince.”

Aha. Cinderella. This shows why it’s generally a good idea to wait after a kid says something startling, as opposed to knee-jerk reacting with something crafted from an adult’s logical and often cynical/world-weary frame of mind.

On a side note, I’ve traditionally heard those stepsisters described as “ugly”—which may not be fair, but it is tradition—but I suppose “evil” applies, too.

My girls have showed an increased interest in classic fairy tales lately, which delights me. My 4-year-old specifically requested “The Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” for bedtime stories last night, and I’m so glad. These stories are some of the foundational building blocks for, well, storytelling, which is a subject very near and dear to my heart.

I’m a professional journalist, pretty much because it’s one of the best way to frequently and regularly get stories out to the masses. It’s why I fell in love with this line from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: “The story tellers, gathering attention into their tales, spoke in great rhythms, spoke in great words because the tales were great, and the listeners became great through them.”

I could just sigh at that line all day.

But I don’t have time for that. Sorry. In fact, I don’t really have time for this post any more!

What are some of your favorite stories? Or—to get meta on you—your favorite thoughts/words/quotes/ideas/stories about stories?

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Toy Week: Freaky Friday: Not a Toy

Toy Week: Freaky Friday: Not a Toy

We’ve had a lot of fruit flies in our house this autumn, and a few weeks back, I wrote about my wife discovering the apparent source: a peach that had been overlooked for a week in my 6-year-old’s thought-to-have-been-empty snack bag.

We’ve nonetheless continued to battle the pests, and we’ve been swatting at regular houseflies, too, in numbers we’ve never previously seen. It’s not biblical plague proportions, but the bugs are certainly annoying. My 1-year-old son has started suddenly flinging one arm out like he’s snatching something out of the air—a move I thought was a random baby exercise until my wife pointed out: “Honey, he’s imitating you.” I do tend to grab angrily at passing insects.

A few days ago, my daughters were playing under our dining room table—a large, solid, wooden circle that’s at least 100, maybe 150 years old.

It’s got wooden wheels and a system for expanding, leaf by leaf by leaf by leaf, into a massive dining platform. There are nooks and crevices underneath to hide pegs and latches and all sorts of hand-carved and -forged details.

The girls were chatting and laughing and then went silent. Mostly silent. They started whispering and giggling in about an 80 percent attempt at being secretive / 20 percent attempt at catching my attention that they had a private joke.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

They erupted in guffaws.

“Girls? Girls … .”

I was sure they were up to no good, so I approached the table. One of them said, faux-guiltily, “We hid this.” A hand popped out from under the tablecloth, between two chairs, holding something oblong and black and—oh no.

“Is that a banana?”

More laughter. Harder laughter.

“How long has it been there?”

The reply was vague, which isn’t unexpected from kids who still occasionally mix up yesterday and tomorrow. I got the impression that the fruit had been there for more than several weeks. Months, maybe. My oldest daughter theorized that she had stuffed it there around when we first moved in—about three years ago. I know that’s impossible.

I took the thing—shriveled, hard, grotesque, like the body of some lost wanderer dredged up from a bog. A mummy.

“We don’t hide food,” I said, which was a false statement. We, as a family, hide food all the time. My son stores bread crusts, tortilla pieces, and cereal—pretty much anything on the grain tier of the food pyramid—between our futon and a recliner. Which puzzles me. We feed our kids well. We feed them often. But still I shove the vacuum attachment into the gap between the seats and listen as the diverse array of baked goods rattles up the hose and into the canister.

They can’t be storing away food for the leaner months. We don’t have leaner months.

My best guess is that it’s a game, with the food serving as just another toy. A perishable, fly-incubating toy. There were obvious signs that the hidden banana had been a popular spot, like a Make-Out Point for insects.

Some days, the dolls and blocks and games don’t cut it. That’s when the pots and pans come out. Or one girl slips her feet into my sandals and starts talking with as deep a voice as she can: “Hey, I’m Daddy.” Or, apparently, a lunch item is secreted away, like some disgusting parody of an Easter egg hunt.

I’m thankful for their ingenuity and imagination. But I prefer it when they choose to apply that creativity to stuff that doesn’t rot.

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Fight Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Health Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Well, my post about Man Cards went up on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page this morning, and there are now a lot of new people wading around in the Shallows.

A note to new visitors: Please keep your hands where we can’t see them.

I forewent the usual creepy quote from my kids (OK, the scary stuff all comes from my firstborn) today because the freakiest thing about this Friday is that there’s a whole mess of people reading about and commenting on an opinion of mine regarding the nature of masculinity.

And then, in theory, these same people are perhaps browsing around and learning my daily underwear selection process.

One of the weirdest things about writing is that it’s such a personal, solitary pursuit, but it’s frequently—not always—intended for a wider audience of readers. The idea is to make a connection and maybe spur someone to action, whether that’s prompting them to reconsider gender-based stereotypes, help fight prostate and testicular cancer (I know you’ve seen my moustache, but have you seen my Movember page?), or choose Batman-themed boxer-briefs over plain, white jockey shorts.

Words, to me, are about connections, and my hope is that this blog would be a conversation, not a monologue. To all who’ve been reading since I started and to the folks who’ve just dropped in for a quick look, thanks for sharing this freaky Friday—and your words—with me.

P.S.—I’m also taking weekly theme suggestions.

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Health Week: Freaky Friday

Health Week: Freaky Friday

I chose today’s Freaky Friday doodle with one of Movember’s three main causes in mind: mental health.

While my oldest daughter said today’s quote in relation to a show she was watching—I don’t remember which one now—out of context it looks more like a line from a kids’ version of Milgram’s Obedience Study.

I’m keeping this morning’s post short because I have more to post later. Thanks for reading with me throughout the week, and for the support I’ve been receiving in my Movember campaign.

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Fright Week: Freaky Friday: A Close Shave

Fright Week: Freaky Friday: A Close Shave

I don’t like to be clean shaven.

I also don’t like to walk around with just one style of facial hair for too long.

So I’ll cycle through a full beard, then a goatee, then a moustache, then all-over stubble, then whatever. My facial hair grows pretty quickly, so I don’t have to wait long for a new look.

But even a short wait with a bare face makes me uncomfortable—and not just because I need something there to define my jawline. Fluctuating facial hair is a big part of who I am. I deliberate over what to do with my razor almost as much as I do in choosing my underwear.

I’m rarely ever without sideburns or a soul patch at the very least. (I’m rarely ever without underwear, either. Rarely.)

So to be clean shaven on Nov. 1 is no small deal. I’ve watched other guys participate in Movember before, and I’ve always wanted to join in, mostly for the unspoken camaraderie, the connection built by a commonality: in this case, moustaches.

If you don’t know, Movember is a means of raising awareness of—and money for—men’s health, primarily when it comes to prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental issues. The organized effort encourages men to grow a moustache (there are rules for the parts of the face to which it can and can’t spread) throughout November, making for an increasingly obvious facial statement that will hopefully prompt questions of the “Why would you ever willfully decide to wear a moustache?” variety. Then we can answer, “Well, I’m glad you asked.” And then we can talk about prostates, and why they’re awesome, and why everybody who wants a functioning and healthy one should have a functioning and healthy one.

Participants can also garner pledges, like my kids recently did (in theory) for a jog-a-thon at their school. Oops.

Despite the fact that I recently sold a car of ours that we no longer needed, I am not a salesperson. Money makes me uncomfortable, mostly because I don’t understand it. So I’m not going to do a huge pitch to get you to put up cash in exchange for me doing something I frequently do anyway. If you want to, though, that’s great. You can check out my Movember page, where you’ll find plenty of details.

Since I’m new to this dad blogging thing—though I don’t really feel like a dad blogger, per se—I also recently joined a dad bloggers group called “Dad Bloggers.” They’ve got a Movember team going (called “Dads/Bloggers”), and I just sort of invited myself to join. Actually, they put out a call for participants, but I still fell like I sort of snuck in.

My surreptitious decision hasn’t been great for my face, however, since I just shaved everything off less than a week ago for the sake of my Halloween costume: the magic mirror from Disney’s Snow White. I’ve got a healthy layer of stubble going now as I write this at 11:15 on Halloween night, but I’m anticipating pain tomorrow morning (this morning, as this post goes live—like time-travel magic!) when I scrape it all off my face again, just six days later.

There will be blood, I’m sure, which is the tangential reference to today’s Freaky Friday doodle. My 6-year-old likes blood. If I remember correctly, she said this while drawing someone bleeding, and apparently needed to focus intently as she eroded her red crayon down to nothing.

I’ll be posting about my moustache progress throughout the month, and next week’s theme will likely be devoted to Movember and/or facial hair and/or men’s health on the whole, but to get an early jump-start on that, allow me to ask: What do you think of facial hair? How about moustaches in particular?

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Identity Week: Freaky Friday

Identity Week: Freaky Friday

My kids are storytellers.

They’re obviously wired to be storytellers, what with my genetics and all, but they’ve also been raised on a steady diet of dramatic narratives, from their minimum of three nightly bedtime stories to the repeated tales I tell about past family happenings at every chance I get.

My firstborn will recount, in great detail, the time she found a black widow that had fallen into our house from the mail slot near the front door. Likely stunned at being shoved from its home by a sheaf of letters, it had curled up into a ball like an obsidian marble in our entryway. An unexpectedly large obsidian marble.

“I reached out an stroked it, once, with my finger,” she says, demonstrating the hesitant gesture. “Slowly, it began to stick out its legs … .”

The telling—complete with hand motions—is a near-verbatim recitation of my own telling of the event to friends and family. And I wasn’t even there to see what had happened firsthand. My wife was the only adult in the house at the time, so my account comes from her descriptions.

My daughter was about 18 months old when it happened, so there’s a chance she doesn’t actually remember it at all and has just adopted my version of the story as her memory without realizing it.

Either way, shortly after my wife realized what her child was petting, she clamped a cup down over it (I don’t know why she didn’t just smash it then and there) and called me at work to say that there was a large black widow trapped near the front door, that she was leaving the house and taking our kid with her, and that she’d come home after I’d taken care of the (contained) threat.

Reality Week throwback: I was next prepared to write some sort of profound musing on the nature of stories and how they define us, weaving together disparate thoughts on the Bible, J.R.R. Tolkien’s idea of a “eucatastrophe” (“the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears”), Neil Gaiman (my favorite author, besides Ray Bradbury), comic books, and more. And then my 1-year-old decided that flopping around, screaming and crying, and accepting anything offered to him (sippy cup, apple sauce, blanket) only so he could throw it angrily away was preferable to sleeping for several hours last night. So I got up early this morning to finish it off to find that both my daughters chose to wake up, too, to catalog, trade, and bicker over candy they got from a piñata at a birthday party last week.

Then, after my wife came downstairs with the baby (asking, “Why are you kids up so early?), my firstborn declared: “We’ll make a surprise breakfast for mom. The baby will distract her by running away from her. Dad, you’ll cook it.”

To which my next daughter replied: “Yeah, I’ll tell Mommy! ‘Mom, were making you a surprise breakfast! But I won’t tell you what it is.'”

Firstborn: “Actually, Mom, we’re just having eggs. It’s a bummer. Don’t look at the nonsense in the kitchen.”

So apparently I have to go make eggs.

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Reality Week: Freaky Friday

Reality Week: Freaky Friday

My kids say a lot of stuff. Relevant, irrelevant, insightful, nonsense—it comes pouring out of their little mouths in a near-constant stream.

They sing. They make up poems. They fight. They bully. They plead for just one more show. They tell me they love me, and when I say the same to them, they say, “We know. We know. You tell us all the time!” They ask for chocolate before I’ve even finished telling them they can’t have any ice cream, and then they ask for ice cream again while I’m starting to address the chocolate issue.

And they terrify.

We used to live near a cemetery. We still do, actually, but we used to live closer, within easy walking distance of this 9-acre stretch of grass studded with headstones. We treated it a bit like a park, because—hey—it’s a 9-acre stretch of grass. Sure, there are no slides, but there’s plenty of room to run.

One day, when my firstborn was about 3 years old, we’d just finished walking around the manicured lawns and were on our way out of the gate when she stopped, turned around, waved, and shouted a cheery, “Bye!”

We were alone in the cemetery that afternoon.

“Who are you talking to?” my wife asked.

“Those kids,” my daughter said, pointing at not any kids.

Out of curiosity, I jogged over to the empty air she had apparently befriended to see what the ground beneath it had to say. The little plaques set into the dirt were all for children. I was standing on the site of either a supernatural playdate or the creepiest place ever to coincidentally conjure up some imaginary friends.

My daughter couldn’t read yet. She didn’t understand the short spans indicated by the two dates on the slabs. But she associated that section with children anyway. And she waved.

I’m reserving Fridays in the Shallows for the freaky stuff of parenting. Or at least the freaky stuff I encounter in my parenting. Many times, quotes taken out of context sound like lines from some non-dome-related Stephen King tale, but—as with today’s cartoon—I’m almost just as likely to hear something isolated that makes me laugh at first, and then lie awake at night.

I’m joking. Mostly.

My oldest daughter, in particular, seems to have a knack for peppering her personal monologues with the macabre. She’s fascinated by predators and bones, scary stories and mounting tension. I can tell that she already has a tendency toward the grisly. And the spooky. Because why was she thinking about her skin peeling off? And why would her boots matter at that point?

She’s probably just messing with me.

Are your kids inordinately interested in death and destruction? How about you?

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