April 18 – Day 11 – Goodbye Mr. Clean

 

When my Ivy League wife got pregnant, she began researching everything related to her condition.  We have charts and graphs if you want to see them.  The one that really popped for me was her research into toxins and how pregnant women are advised to generally stay away from them.  With that logic extended a bit further, she postulated that these same things might also be bad for non-pregnant people and the race was on.

Like many of you, I have fond memories of coming home from school after my mother had cleaned the house.  I associated the smell of Clorox Bleach, Mr. Clean Ammonia, Formula 409, Ty-D-Bowl Toilet Bowl cleaner, Lysol and Windex as the eye blistering smell of clean.  It may have given us watery eyes, nose bleeds and headaches, but we knew the house was clean (and most importantly) GERM FREE.  We never questioned that these things were necessary and a sign of the advantages of a clean, modern society in middle America.  So I was completely thrown when my wife first brought this up.

“A list of things to do?” I asked picking up a piece of paper resting prominently where I normally eat.

“Things to throw away,” she replied.

“Um, Sweetie?  Is this another morning sickness thing?”  I asked this question very, very carefully.  Mishandled, it could sound exactly like the death query, “Is it that time of month?”

“No, well sort of.  Everything makes me nauseous—thank you, by the way, for having a house next to a Mesquite Chicken Restaurant–but this is different.  All of these things are seriously toxic and are quietly poisoning us.”

I loved that Chicken restaurant, but the smoke of roasted dead chickens was pretty unbearable for my pregnant wife.

“Aw sweetie, I’m sorry about The Flaming Chicken, but it never seemed to bother you prior to getting pregnant.”

She sighed, and then took one of those slow, I’m feeling-really-nauseous deep breaths before she continued with, “This is not about The Flaming Chicken.”  She paused for another deep, measured breath.  “This is about all of the cleaning supplies we have that are creating indoor air pollution.”

“Indoor air pollution?”

“It’s called off-gassing.  All of these bottles, closed or otherwise, are leaking poison gas into the air we breathe.”

Since meeting my wife, I’m definitely more of an adult than I used to be, but when she said indoor air pollution and off gassing, all I could think of were fart jokes.  However, because I’m more mature now, I have learned to suppress the juvenile and ask interested questions like, “What would you like me to do about it?”

“Get rid of them.”

“All of them?”

“Yes, all of them.  I’m working on getting replacements, but they need to get out of our house NOW,” she said.

“Can’t we just use them all up in one big cleaning orgy?”

‘Orgy’ was a fantastically poor choice of words around a nauseous pregnant woman.

“We’re not having them in our home another second,” she said while grimacing.

“And so we should throw away a couple hundred dollars worth of cleaning supplies?  What about our whites?”

“Poison gas is leaking into our home from under every sink and all throughout the garage.  Are you seriously worried about a few hundred dollars and how white our whites can be?

“No, I guess not.”  But inwardly I felt like we were part of some bizarre TV commercial for an alternative product.

“There is no reason at all to have bleach in the home. It’s a myth that you are a better person because your whites are whiter and chlorine gas is quite toxic.  Did you know that even in cities with air pollution, the indoor quality of air is usually 3-4 times worse?”

“Wow, really?  Is all of that caused by my favorite cleaning products?”

“A lot of it.  And that’s the easiest polluted part to fix with instant results.  That and our water.”

“Our water is toxic too?”

“You know they put low levels of bleach in it to kill germs, right?

I pretended to know and nodded wisely.

“Well, as soon as you get into a hot shower, you’re breathing chlorine gas and extremely toxic gas.  So we’re getting filters for those too,” she announced.

“Shower filters?

“And a filters for our drinking water too.  I think I’m going to be sick.”

Okay, okay, whatever you say.  If it’s that bad, we’ll do it,” I said not realizing she had already left to throw up in the bathroom.

And that was about 10 years ago.  We’ve never looked back.  I still remember the first time the house was cleaned without all of the toxic stuff and it actually smelled nice.  Kind of like a magical forest or something.  For a year or two, we got caught up in a company called Melaluca and we bought masses of their tea tree oil based products for our home.  Great products, and we still buy them, but the whole MLM thing got a little old.

Goodbye, Mr. Clean.  ;-)

April 17 – Day 10 – Amusing?

 

“But what if I don’t feel like being amusing?”

I was having coffee with a “writer” friend of mine and talking about this blog.

“You don’t have to be MickAmusing every time you type.  Just be yourself.  Be real.  And stop putting “writer” in quotes all the time,” he said making the rabbit ears gesture.

“How could you possibly know that I put ‘writer’ in quotes?!”

“Because you always do.  It’s time for you to let go and simply say, ‘I’m a writer,’ no rabbit ears.  Can you do that?”

“Sounds pretty scary,” I replied.

“It is.  But it’s also fun and you’ll feel differently once you do.”

“Don’t you have to have a publishing deal and a least a book in print before you can call yourself a–”

“Don’t do it!”, he said jumping from his chair as if to pull the gun out of my hand.

“…writer,” I said looking at him square in the eyes without blinking and without the quotation marks.  It did feel different.  He was right.  Weird.

He sat down, smiled as if he knew, and then continued.

“No, you don’t have to have a publishing deal.  By the time that happens, hopefully you’ve been calling yourself a writer, sans quotation marks, for some time.”

“Hmm…  Do you really think I can write whatever’s on my mind, funny or not?”

“It’s your blog, right?”

“Yeah, but I now have almost 7 readers.  What if they leave because they only want me to bring the funny.  It’s hard to bring the funny all the time, but I don’t want to lose my almost 7 fans.”

“So you’ll have to find almost 7 more who appreciate more than just a laugh,” he said.

“My worst fear is that I’ll be boring!  I’m terrified of boring people almost as much as I’m terrified of boring people. Today I wrote a long diatribe on FaceBook about not using bleach and other toxic cleaners in the home and using natural products instead.”

“And?”

“Well, boring or not?”

“You’re an odd enough writer that I’m going to say ‘not.’”

“Should I put that on my blog?”

“If so moved, why not?”

“Because I titled my blog MickAmusing.com and talking about bleach is not terribly amusing?”

He laughed and then said, “Mick, if anyone can make bleach amusing, it’s going to be you.  But it’s also fine if you don’t.  Your fans might enjoy getting to know you better underneath the humor facade.”

“It’s not a facade,” I protest.

“I’m just joking.  Evidently I’m not as clever at it as you are.”

He writes biographies.

“People would enjoy knowing what you’re passionate about. Besides, most readers don’t really pay attention to the blog name.”

“If my readers disappear, I’m blaming you,” I said waving my finger dramatically across the table.

“Hey, I’ve got to go.  Publisher needs another draft of Chapter 7.”

“You just say that stuff to make me feel small,” I said with a poorly acted melodramatic tone.

“I say it to INSPIRE you, my friend.  Now get your face out of that Cappuccino and go home and WRITE!  Damn, you bloggers are a sensitive, neurotic lot!”

He laughed, he left and I quickly googled whether MickNeurotic.com was still available.

 

 

April 16 – Day 9 – Girl “friends”

Today, as the smoke clears from the Boston Marathon bomb blasts, I still find myself at a loss for words on the tragedy itself.  It’s hard to ignore, but it also hard to address.  How long after 9-11 did we start to laugh again?  Humor is a release for so much, but when a tragedy is so fresh in our minds, it feels inappropriate.

So it is with that thought that I’d like to share a dialogue I had with my 8 year old boy last Fall on the subject of girls, friends, and girlfriends.  There’s a certain honesty, certainty(!) and innocence to his queries and statements on the matter.  My wife and I try to protect his innocence which is just so refreshingly pure.  This is a little guy who will come home with 10 straws he lifted from a restaurant and spend hours playing with whatever device he can make out of it.  One day, only expensive electronic devices will hold his attention like that, but for now, there is still a little time left to enjoy the simplicity of his young mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My wife’s been out of town for work the past couple of days and I’ve been a single parent to my 8 year old son (a 3rd Grader) who crawled into bed this morning to wake me and immediately ask how old I was when I had my first girlfriend.  Loud breaking sounds are only slightly less ideal as the first thing I hear upon waking.

I’m not one of those people who wakes up quickly in the mornings like he and his mother do, so my voice is pretty gravelly and my brain in a fog as I try to answer.

“Um, what?,” I muster.

“How old were you when you had a girlfriend?”

“Um, well it wasn’t really a girlfriend because–

“Yeah, I know, right?  It’s confusing because you have girls that are friends, but not ‘girlfriends,’” and he makes the rabbit ears gesture with his fingers lying down in bed with me starting at the ceiling.  He caught us doing that once and now loves making the rabbit ears whenever possible.  Of course we made the terrible mistake of teaching him sarcasm as a form of humor, so both the gesture and form are sorely overused these days.

“No,..I mean yes, that’s true, but they weren’t just friends,” I corrected.  He rarely forgets a tale we tell, and I think I may have mentioned last year about having a girlfriend for a very short time in 4th grade.

“They?  You mean ‘she’, right?”  More rabbit ears around “she.”

“Well, yes, but no.  I, um…”  

I feel like I need to interject something here.

If my wife were having this conversation with him, she would be carefully considering each word down to the articles and conjunctions she would use.  Her side of the family grew up with this odd tradition of actually thinking prior to speaking.  I know, right?  I mean, how weird is that?  They grew up in Europe, so maybe that had something to do with it.  My side of the family is more like the majority of the citizens in our fair country and we do our thinking long after the words have fallen from our lips and clattered onto the floor.  Otherwise, you forget what you’re going to say, right?  Exactly.  So at this moment I was occupied more with the fog in my brain and the frog in my throat than actually considering carefully what I was going to say next.

“…there were two.  I didn’t really understand the whole girlfriend thing and somehow, on the same day, after being completely ignored by all of the girls in 4th grade, TWO of them wanted to go steady.  That’s what they called it, ‘going steady.’  So I said yes to both, borrowed some jewelry from my Mom, and gave one pin to each of them the next day at school.”

“Pops, even I know you can’t have 2 girlfriends at the same time.”

“Well, like I said, I was really unclear on the concept.  So after a whole day of having 2 girlfriends, I went home and talked to my Mom about.  She asked me how I’d feel if one of them had another boyfriend and suddenly, I got it.  It made sense.  I knew what I had to do.”

“Were you pretty slow as a kid?,” he asked.

“Regarding girls, yes.  So the next day, I went back to school and asked the second girl I’d asked (Delilah) for the pin back.  It was awkward, because I had only given it to her the day before, and she was conspicuously wearing it over her heart on her sweater when I found her in the library.”

“Awk-ward,” he said in this sing-song way that all 3rd graders in his school are currently stuck on

“Yes, to say the least.  I think I made it worse by trying to explain it all logically and expounding on the fact that I didn’t really understand the concept of going steady and what it meant.”

“Awk-ward.”

“Yes, we covered that.  Know what happened next?”

“What?”

“I went to find girlfriend number one (Mary Alice) and tell her what an awful mistake I’d made and apologize.  I thought she’d be really happy that I’d ended things with Delilah the moment I’d realized the error of my ways.”

“Was she?”

“When I found her, she had TWO pins on!”

“Why two?”

“Bubba Sterling.  She was now going steady with Bubba Sterling as well.  Apparently, my polygamous ways were all over the school and everyone had advised her to get a second boyfriend as well.”  

My boy started laughing while I just sighed.

“I know, right?  It seems really funny now, but I remember feeling even more confused than ever.  I didn’t know what to do, so I just asked for my pin back and walked away.  The day before, I was a boy with 2 girlfriends and today I had none.  I’m not sure if it was because of that confusing experience, but I didn’t have another girlfriend until my Jr. year in High School, when I was 16.”

“Wow, that’s a long time, Pops!  I think I’ll pass on the whole girlfriend thing and just have friends that are girls.”

“You’re a wiser 3rd Grader than I was.”

“Yes, I am, but seriously, Pops.  TWO girlfriends at the same time?  Everybody knows you don’t do that.”

And then he kissed me and slid out of bed towards a bowl of granola and yoghurt that awaited him downstairs.

“Well, that went ‘well,’” I said aloud to myself while using the rabbit ears gesture…

 

 

 

 

April 15 – Day 8 – My Birthday

It was my actual birthday today.

My 9 year old boy had apparently spent 2-3 days constructing a beautiful card out of popsicle sticks and colored card stock.  It was fairly complex and had “a frame,” as he called it.  I was given it in bed before my eyes could focus.  This is what it said:

“Dear Pops,

It’s your birthday isn’t it your turning…..40?  No 35  right?  Whatever, anyway I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday!”

And then lots of colored, wooden, red hearts filled the bottom of the page.

Not to be outdone, my sensational wife made me fresh coffee and promised to whisk me away in the afternoon on a secret journey of some kind.  With our son at his grandmother’s for the rest of the day, we completely unplugged and took off to spend the day together.  Our secret journey involved some investigative shopping, an amazing pamper package at a day spa here in town with a massage and pedicure, an Indian dinner, and then the Jackie Robinson movie called “42.”  It was one of the sweetest birthdays I’ve ever had.  We returned home with just a couple hours left in the day and I was hoping to post something before the midnight deadline.

That’s when we learned about the bombs going off at the Boston Marathon today.

It’s beyond impossible to know what to say about a thing like that.  There was a boy about my son’s age who was killed, and many more lost limbs and life.  In an instant, the world for everyone on that street was changed forever.  My heart is heavy on this day.

Life is so fragile, every day so precious.  We have to live as if each day is our last, while still courageously making plans for the future.

Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the families and friends of all who were affected by this horrific tragedy.

April 14 – Day 7 – The Hangover

April 14- Day 7

 

[Note:  We are forced to interrupt the spellbinding and heroic tales of the incredibly brave and daunting Little Missy while our pathetic resident blogger takes the day off today after zealously over-celebrating his birthday last night among the company of friends, wine and food.  Indisputably, a good time was had by him, but a few of the guests left feeling mildly uncomfortable as the writer in residence repeatedly expressed how much he loved each of his 12 guests approximately 8 or 9 times, followed by hugs, kisses, and tears.   Apparently, the best part of the writer’s day today was the 4 hour nap he recently awoke from to find daylight gone and his face pressed permanently into sleep wrinkles.  In the absence of a partially functioning cerebral cortex (on a good day), and this being somehow less than that, we are re-running a previous piece written for one of his recent newsletters as an Apple Computer Support guy.  He deeply regrets not consulting Little Missy more on it, as she is his light and inspiration and has taught him everything he knows.  Thank you for your understanding and we hope to return to his regularly scheduled pointless blogging soon.  Sincerely, Little Missy  The Editors]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About Face (Book)

Fall 2012.

Okay, after years of feeling smug and self satisfied because I was not on FaceBook, now I can’t seem to go more than 17 minutes without checking it.

Being a Techie guy, you’d think I’d be more open to all things digital, but this wasn’t technology.  This was some “social” app.  And the way I pronounced “social,” most people would empathy flinch as if I’d said, “stomach flu.”  Yeah, I brimmed with unapologetic hubris, as I laughingly tossed around phrases like, “get a life!” to those who spent any time on FaceBook.  I had been on the internet for decades.  I had participated in the earliest online communities dedicated to solving technical problems.  We didn’t have time to post funny cat videos or take a picture of the meal we were about to eat.   We were too busy doing serious work solving serious Apple computer problems usually related to our video game addictions.  So there was no shortage of paternalistic pooh-poohing of my loved ones who were checking their FaceBook accounts each day.  The superior, far sighted, progressive ME would never succumb to that silly shallow dalliance.

Humble pie is best eaten with a glass of whine.

“How come you have 1789 friends and I only have 12?,” I complained.

“Because I’ve been on FaceBook for 5 years and you just signed up,”  my wife replied.

“I signed up 7 weeks and 4 days ago.  Does it really take that long for people to befriend you? I uploaded my entire Address Book.”

“When you’ve insulted them for years about their FaceBook participation, perhaps.  Oh, and it’s called ‘friend.’”

“Go ahead, rub it in, friend.  I deserve it.  I know what a friend is and apparently you have one thousand, seven hundred and seventy something more than me…,” I moped.  Self pity is a well worn corner of the room for me.

“No, it’s the verb.  I’m talking about the verb used on FaceBook.  Friend.  It’s called ‘friending” someone,” she said.

“Friend is a verb now?”

“On FaceBook, yes.  When you friend someone, you have sent them a request to be added to your circle of FaceBook friends.  Once they accept, you’re friends.”

“And then you have ‘friended’ them.”

“Exactly.”

“And this is called ‘friending?’”

“As well as anyone knows, yes.”

“Is there a verb shortage I’m not aware of?  Do we really need to keep chopping up nouns to make new verbs?”

“You look at me as if I have the answers.  You’re the one who’s always bragging about being there at the birth of the internet.  Google it, dear husband.”

“And what’s up with this thing I keep seeing on FaceBook, ‘epic FAIL?’ What the heck is a ‘FAIL’ and how did I miss its arrival?

“That’s the new word for ‘failure,’” she replied with Herculean signs of patience.

“More noun chopping.  Are shorter words cheaper?  Have we gotten to the point where we don’t have time for 2 syllables now?!”

I was starting to sound like an old, riled up geezer, but all day long I sit on the cutting edge of technology.  When you’re over 50, the wounds don’t heal like they used to.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t used to complain this much in my younger years…

“Vowels are on their way out too,” she said with some hesitation 

“Vowels?!?  VOWELS?!  Next you’ll be telling me we’ll be buying them like bottled water from Vanna White?  Why don’t we just give up the entire written and spoken language and just communicate with pictures that our phones take?!  Vowels?!  Really?”

She held up a piece of paper that read, “ FWIW, R U 4 real?

“Ha. Ha.  Okay, I have to get back to my friendly ways and see if I can’t get a few more FaceBook friends.  Just saw that the Dalai Lama is on FaceBook.  He’ll accept me, right?”

“Word is, he’s pretty accepting,” she said with a wink.

And that’s the story of how our Mick’s Macs FaceBook page was born.  The Dalai Lama has yet to accept my friending attempts, but I’m convinced I used too many vowels in the request.  As soon as I figure out the proper way to text him, I’m sure we’ll connect.

In the meantime, if you friend us on FaceBook we’ll give you free vowels to use as you see fit.

Wlcm  2  R  Brv  Nw  Wrld….

Mck

 

Little_Missy's_Hangover

Little Missy, The Morning After…

 

 

April 13 – Day 6 – Little Missy Speaks

part 3

 

“So how do you want to play this, Blooger man?  Are you going to finish my valiant tale of triumph over the skunks, or are we going to talk about finding you a message?”,  Little Missy barks at me.

“Blogger.  We’re called ‘bloggers,’” I reply.

“Blogger, Blooger, whatever.  Still sounds like something you’d want to remove from your nose.”

“Little Missy!  That’s nasty!  Bad dog!

“Hey, you’re the one who wanted to talk to a dog about finding your message.  Did you really expect me to have manners?”, she yaps.

“Not necessarily, but no potty talk, okay?”

“Dude, I’m a DOG.  Our planet is Scatological Prime.  You know how we meet and greet each other, right?”, she snaps.

“Enough!  I get it.  So are you going to help me or not and can you please stop licking yourself for 2 minutes?!”

My wife sticks her head in the room and asks, “What’s going on in here?  Why’s Little Missy barking?  Want me to put her outside?”

“No, we’re good here sweetie.  She’s just a little excited cause I tricked her into thinking there’s a cat outside.”

“That’s cruel.  I’d like to appreciate you both in advance for keeping it down in here?  I’ve got a conference call in 5.”  She pats both of our heads and leaves.

“Whew!  That was close,” I say.

Little Missy just bursts out laughing. “Like you could trick me with that ‘Where’s the kitty?!’ game!”

“Hey, keep it down!  The last thing in the world we need is someone else knowing that you talk,” I say.

“Like that’s ever gonna happen,” Little Missy mutters.

“Hey!  It COULD, okay?!  We have to be careful.”

“No we don’t.”

“Okay, Ms. Smarty haunches, and why is that?”, I ask.

“BECAUSE YOU’RE A LOONEY TUNE, A NUTCASE, A FRUITCAKE!”, she screams.

My wife yells from the other room, “Would you PLEASE put the dog OUTSIDE if she’s going to bark like that!”

“YES, dear!  In a second!”, I yell back.  And then under my breath to Missy I say,Keep it down!”

This was not going well.  I’d completely forgotten how useless it often is to try and have a conversation with Little Missy.

“Okay, here’s my deal.”  Little Missy stares at me for a moment and then says.  “As long as I have pre-publishing editorial rights on the skunk tale, I’m in.”

“Hey, you can write the piece for all I care.  Now what am I supposed to do about finding a message for my blog?”

“Maybe your message is that you don’t have a message.  Have you ever thought of that, Einstein?”

“But that would make my blog pointless.”

“Your words, not mine.”

“Then why would people want to read it?”

“Because of all the pretty pictures, music and video you’ve got up on it?”

“I don’t have any of that,” I reply.

“Exactly.  So we’re back to a pointless blog, that doesn’t even have pretty pictures, audio or video.”

“I need to get some of that.”

“Excellent idea, Mr. Holmes.  Start with a photo of me fiercely enforcing Missy’s Law.”

“Hey, how’d you know I wrote that?”

“You’d do well to put a password on that laptop of yours.”

“Bad dog, Little Missy.  No laptop, Little Missy.”

“Hey, I gotta go outside now.  Can you put me outside?  Someone is making noise out there in violation of Missy’s Law.  Put. me. out. now!  Put. me. out. now!”, she keeps chanting, while leaping like a crazy dog who will show no mercy.

I let her outside just as my wife yells again and watch Little Missy tear after something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 12 – Day 5 – Little Missy

[Note:  This is part 2 of the continuing travails of a message-less writer in search of a point.  If you’re just stumbling onto this blog, it will probably make more sense to go back and read yesterday’s post.  Of course, that’s assuming that any of it will make any sense at all, which is admittedly a grand assumption on any of our parts...]

[Another Note: To be fully appreciated, this next paragraph should probably be read in a fakey narrator’s voice.  Think Don Pardo of Saturday Night Live, or way back to the early 1960’s to Fractured Fairy Tales and the quintessential voice of Edward Everett Horton.] 

“When we last left our clueless, pointless writer of blogs, he was deep in anguish with the realization that the rules of blogging required him to have a message that he, glaringly, did not.  In fact, he had never had a message most of his life.  The sole exception being his impassioned warning to the world about Y2k and the Ice Age that would soon follow.  Much to his disappointment and disillusionment, neither happened.  So it is with great trepidation that he approaches finding a new truth to tell.”

[End of overly dramatic Narrator Voice]

So I decided to talk to my dog and figure out what to do.

I should tell you a bit about her first.  She’s a rescue dog that is part chihuahua and part dachshund.  [And if you think spelling either of those words is easy, you should be on Jeopardy!]  We think of her as a chi-wachshund.  While she eventually wiggled her way into my heart, I have to say, I have never been a small dog person.

I’m a Lab guy, a German Shepard dude, a Dober-man.  I like dogs that I can wrestle with, that slobber on my family, friends and neighbors, but scare away strangers that have no business coming up to the house.  I’ve always loved big dogs.  They have big dogs barks, can carry large loads, they indiscriminately knock kids and senior citizens down, and sleep a good part of the day when there is nothing else to do.

Little Missy is wholly unaware that she’s barely larger than a loaf of bread.  The only thing big about her is her attitude.  She’s got this strut that reminds me of a tiny, speeded up version of how football players used to walk through the hallways in High School with their pecs sticking out.  She chases birds, cats and other dogs many times her size.  Her legs are crazy loaded springs that allow her to jump comically high and somehow see over our 5 foot wooden gate.  It used to be a 4 foot wooden gate until we realized she was escaping to attack “illegal pedestrians” on the sidewalk in front of our house.  In her world, they are all in violation of Missy’s Law.  No animal or human is allowed to walk past our house without a permit.  She issues no permits.  She is absolutely fearless as if her parents forgot to shame her and make her aware of all the things in life she should never attempt.

We had a skunk problem in our neighborhood we’d just learned to live with.  Other than the odious smell, they were actually kind of cute, mostly nocturnal creatures.  It was especially endearing when we realized one of them was a Mama and began to take her 6 tiny babies through our back yard on their nightly rounds.  If you’ve never seen baby skunks, they’re just as sickeningly cute as you might imagine.  Minuscule versions of the full sized models that look like black and white bunnies.  All you can do is say “Aw” with your voice an octave higher than normal.  When we saw the entire family caravanning across the yard, we made our peace with the skunks.

Our chi-wachshund did not.

Everything I know about dogs is that if they get sprayed by a skunk once, that’s usually it for them.  They’re basically annoyed that they cannot bite the thing that sprayed them.  Dogs like to bite things that annoy them, but the smell is so loathsome that they usually give skunks a wide berth after just one encounter.

Not our Little Missy.

A few nights later, just after dark, all hell broke loose outside.

 

[To be continued, tomorrow...]

April 11 – Day 4 – A Message?…

 

Everything was going smoothly until it hit me while reading a comment on this blog.

I need a message?  Yikes!  A message?

The comments have been so supportive, so inspiring, so uplifting to read.  Especially for an acutely green, uncommonly insecure “writer” guy like me who still puts the word “writer” in quotes.  Man, it’s been a praise parade around the house with no rain in sight.  It might be starting to go to my head.  My family appears to be getting progressively annoyed with my new found ego and is burning incense at the altar of my old, self-doubting, insecure, humble self

But that was all before I learned about this “message” thing.

I’d never done a blog before. I didn’t know there were rules.  But apparently, you’re supposed to have a message and once you know that, you just keep typing at it every time you post.  Nobody told me I needed a message!   Ahhhhhhhh!

But now I see it.  This commenter was right.  As I read other people’s blogs, they all seem to have a purpose, a point, a MESSAGE.

[Note:  I really have to thank my wife for help with all of this research.  When she heard of my message distress, she immediately sent me links to random blogs that had clear messages.  She’s super helpful that way.]

One had a clear message about how much women appreciate it when their men fix things around the house without having to call a professional.  Every post on this blog talked about how to fix things quickly and I marveled at how the writer stayed on point. Another blog had the bone chilling thrust of how to lose weight by eating tons of celery and carrots, avoiding carbs and completely giving up alcohol.  Scary, but again:  a message!  Still another hammered away that we should keep learning and growing by going to various workshops to improve communication with our spouses.  This one had links to all kinds of workshops, therapists and such.  When I thanked my wife for the helpful links, she asked what I thought of the blogs.

“They were interesting.  They didn’t really speak to me, but they sure stayed on point.  I’m starting to understand what this message thing is,” I replied.  ”With these sample blogs you sent me, it’s just staring you in the face!”

Oddly, she just sighed, gave me a frustrated look (with one eyebrow raised, of course) and didn’t say another word.  Huh.  She’s pretty inscrutable sometimes.

So what is my message?

I’ll never be considered a serious blogger without one.  I get it now.  I have to find my message FAST!

So I did what I often do when I’m stumped.

I had a conversation with our dog

[To be continued tomorrow...]

 

April 10 – Day 3 – Blackmail

Day 10 (Well, “Day 3,” actually…)

“Hey Pops.  Whatcha doin’?”

My 9 year old son has found me holed up in his room, ironically, the only place in the house undisturbed enough to write.  Because we are uncommonly conscious parents (well, she is) “we” planned, in advance, what we wanted to be called when he was old enough to utter his first words.  We wanted names different than we used for our parents because we knew we’d be better at it, more aware, more thoughtful, more enlightened.  We decided to go with the universal “Mama” and “Papa.”  Nine years later, Mama is still “Mama,” but somehow I have evolved into “Pops.”  I like it because it reminds me of a 1950’s Soda Shop owner, and that calls to mind malts and burgers.

“I’m writing my blog,” I reply.

“Where?”

“Um, here, sweet boy.  I’m writing it here, in your room?” I say with an overly dramatic sweep of my arm across the bumpy landscape of his unkempt room.

“Pops, I hate to tell you this, but the page is blank.”

“Yes, I know the page is blank,” I try to say without annoyance.  “That’s why I came in here alone to work on it.”

“Mama said that you’ve been in here all afternoon and your work phone has been ringing off the hook.”

“Great art takes time.”

“And food!  Whoa!  Did you really eat this whole Family Size bag of Cheetos by yourself?!” he says holding up the carcass.  “OMG, you are so busted, Pops!  Mama’s gonna kill you when she finds out!”  He says this with more delight than I’m comfortable with.

“Dear son of mine, would you please be so kind as to leave me in solitude so I can write.  Writing is a solitary burden that–”

“…every writer must bear.  Got it, Pops.  You’ve been saying that every day and Mama says it’s annoying.  She also says that we should not eat anywhere but the kitchen table.

“Okay, I confess.  I did a bad thing.  I should not have brought food in here, you’re right.  Even parents make mistakes.  Now I’m going to ask forgiveness of you.  It’s a very important thing to learn to ask for, but even more so to give.”

“I forgive you, but Mama won’t.  I’m still going to tell.  Unless, of course, you want to work something out.”

“Are you seriously trying to blackmail me?!”

“If the shirt fits.”

“Shoe, the shoe must fit.”

“Whatever.  Now what are you going to give me to keep quiet?”

“I will not be blackmailed by a 9-year old!”

“Hey, it’s your funeral,”  he says and turns to leave the room.

“Wait, wait, wait a minute, little mister.  Come back here.”  He turns around and I swear one eyebrow starts to raise.  [Great.  It genetic.]  I set aside my laptop.  “Sit down and let’s talk.  In our family, we don’t treat each other that way.  Blackmail is something for super wealthy TV families.  In our family, we treat each other with respect, love and kindness.”

I have to say, I was feeling decidedly proud of myself for turning this into a life lesson.  I love being such a wise father.  I think my son really appreciates the pearls of wisdom that come out of me.  I will turn this into a great moment for teaching values and help mold this young citizen into a wise, compassionate adult.  I may sound a little cocky here, but it’s important now and then to pat ourselves on the back for good parenting.  Just call me “Super Wise Pops.”  Inwardly, I just can’t help but chuckle at bit at how lucky my boy is to have me to guide him.

“Pops?”

“Yes, dear boy?”

I’m smiling at him with love and this really spiritually tranquil face that I use when I’m in my wise and peaceful place.  Times like these I can feel the Universe using me as a channel for the higher good.  Yes.  Feeling pretty good about my part in the grand scheme of things right now.  Pretty good.

“Would you say that honesty is a value you want to teach too?”

“Yes, absolutely!” I say beaming and exceptionally proud of my parenting.

“Shouldn’t I tell Mama that you honestly ate an entire bag of Cheetos and have not written your blog yet?”

Like Icarus, my decent from the sun is not pretty.

“You are a very naughty boy.  You know that, right?”

“Yogurtland tomorrow when Mama’s at work?”

“Okay, Yogurtland,” I say with a sigh of defeat.  “Now get outta here so I can write!  Scat!

“So what are you going to write about?”

“I’ll think of something.  Now GO!”

He bursts out laughing as he leaves the room imitating my voice as he says, “Writing is a solitary burden that…”

[sigh]  I get no respect, I tell ya.  No respect at all…

 

 

 

Day 9 – The Raised Eyebrow

Day 9.  Supplies are running low, but morale holding.  Mentally fatigued, but still committed to a belief that rescue is possible.  As each passing day ticks off the calendar, it becomes more and more unlikely, but hope is what we live on when there is not enough food.  Plenty of water, but I’m not sure how long I can maintain this without collapsing in a heap of despair.  Physically, I’m “okay,” but without the amenities of home, I’m starting to chap and chafe in ways I never thought possible.   I think about my wife and my son, and know that I must keep believing that this torture will end, but it’s hard to keep convincing myself of that when things look so bleak.  If only—

“How is Mr. Ultimate Blog Man doing this morning?” my wife asks.  Before I can answer or close my laptop she continues, “Day 9?!  Sweetie, this is day TWO for you.  Remember how you procrastinated about this for days 1-7?”

“Um, Sweetie?  I’m kind of busy right now?”  I say that in that way that we can say things like that where we try to make the other person aware that it’s really obvious that they’re bugging you.  [Note to self:  you have broken every record in the books regarding the over usage of the word 'that.' Don't be foolish and faux humble on awards night.  Write that acceptance speech now. ]

I dramatically slap my laptop closed on a couple of fingers from my left hand before she continues.  I pretend that didn’t just happen and gaze at her through the self-inflicted pain.

“Supplies are running low?  Morale holding?  The only reason supplies are running low is because you’ve eaten every crunchy carbohydrate in the house.  As for morale, that’s probably also related to eating every crunchy carbohydrate in the house and blowing your diet.”

“Sweetie, writing is a solitary burden that every writer must bear.”  She stares at me with one eyebrow raised. 

When she does that, I always think of Spock, from Star Trek, but she knows nothing about Star Trek and usually cuts all references to it from my writing.  I practiced that solo eyebrow raise for weeks and couldn’t do it.  Curse her!  She does it without knowing how totally ninja it is.  Why does she always get to be so much cooler than me?  If I could only master that single eyebrow raise, I could rock the non-verbal reply world.  If I could just—

[Must.. not... get... distracted.  In... middle... of conversation... with wife.]

I’m not sure why my brain talks in broken sentences like that.  It reminds me a little of Captain Kirk and how he would talk when he was fighting being under the mind control of some type of ray gun or alien.

“Hello?  Anybody home?…”  my wife is looking at me.

“Oh, what?  Yes.  Um, writing is a solitary burden that—”

“Yeah, yeah.  We got it, we got it.  You were thinking of Star Trek again, right?” she says AGAIN arching a single eyebrow!  How does she do that?!?

“I was not!” I reply, trying not to let my eyebrow inadequacy frustration show.  “I was just trying to remember the thread I was writing about for day 9.  I was working on something and you interrupted.”

“And I suppose I interrupted with THIS, right?!”  And with that, she pumps each eyebrow up and down independent of each other like some vain body builder who has muscle groups the rest of us have allowed to decay.

“HOW DO YOU DO THAT?!  I HAVE to know!  Teach me, teach me, please!  Pretty please!  Please, please please, PLEASE teach me!”

Well, that showed reserve…  [sigh]

“I will not teach you until you prove to me you can blog for 30 days straight, or lose 10 pounds.” she replies with arched brow and a wink.

“THAT’S CRUEL!  You’re so cruel.  That’s just mean.  Okay, okay.  I got it.  So get outta here so I can finish my blog, okay?  But you promised, remember?”  I’m hoping that will get her out of the room before blogging AND weight loss get bundled together.

Writing is a solitary burden that every writer must bear…