Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blathering Pansy

I confess. Despite my hardened exterior, puffed up chest, and big talk…I am a softy. Really I always have been but I got pretty darn good at hiding it and pretending to be tough for a while. And I needed that time in my life because I learned many lessons about manhood and the proper place for emotion. But the older I get the more I seem to return to my wuss-roots. For heaven sake, it was all I could do to get through one episode of Extreme Home Makeover without a huge lump in my throat and a saline droplet threatening to plunge over the rim of my eye.

Like most guys, I know when I’m caught and quickly blame allergies or try to explain how this dust bunny was just running along and jumped into my eyes, causing severe irritation. My wife knows better but usually does not make too much fun at my expense. Having these episodes become more frequent is starting to concern me but this confession is hopefully going to have the masses kicking me in the pants and straightening me out.

Here are a few recent examples of total wussery:

Hallmark Movie – So I’m in a hotel room over the weekend as my wife is a bridesmaid in her good friends wedding. It is 11PM and we are still wired from the days events. I begin flipping through the various channels and stop when I see this familiar face dressed in western gear. After driving myself crazy for ten minutes trying to figure out who she is, I did it. “It Izzy from Grey’s Anatomy,” I declare proudly to my wife. If that statement alone was not homosexual enough, I began getting interested in the plot line. Granted I did not realize until the first commercial break that this was indeed a HALLMARK MOVIE but by then it was too late. They had their claws in me and I had to know: Does she stay with this lonely man and his daughter who so desperately needs a mother figure OR does she go home and start over now that her husband is dead? Thankfully I never let those bastards make me cry damnit but they sure as hell kept me watching till the very end.

My Son’s Appointment – I have been dreading the inevitability of my son getting this corrective helmet for some time now. In an earlier post I have even invited those of you that want to support LB to don helmets of your own and send me a picture for a future post. Whether any of you do it or not, I am determined to wear my bicycle helmet around him fairly often to show daddy is just like Little Boy. I am officially declaring August 7th Helmet Day for those of you that want to participate…so send your entries soon. The 7th is the day his apparatus gets positioned for its 3 month nesting on my sons head. All that being said yesterday was The Casting Appointment. Ever break your arm or leg and get a cast? If so, you know that the doctor covers the area with a netting, then puts very hot strips of wet cheese-cloth material over the nettings containing plaster. In this hot form it is very moldable and claylike but uncomfortable to a certain degree. Now imagine getting a cast over your entire head AND then imagine being a 7 month old baby. The only hole left open for my poor child to remain in touch with the outside world was one cut for his nose and mouth. Fifteen minutes is a freaking long time when your baby is screaming bloody murder and desperately wants you to rescue him. Instead, mom and dad hold him down so that the doctor can keep applying this crap, making his head heavier, hotter, and more uncomfortable. Finally after non-stop bawling and screams of terror, they released him from the plaster dungeon and he lunged into our arms not wanting to let go at all. He had white plaster in his hair, in his eyes, in his ears, and all around his neck. I was a good father…stayed calm for his sake…held his little hand and spoke softly to him during the whole ordeal. Inside, I was dieing. It was all I could do to keep from plastering this lady to the wall, chisel my son free, and head for the hills. The wave of emotions finally hit me as I loaded my son into the car. He looked up at me with those innocent, trusting, but still red eyes with a look of “I love you daddy” on his face and the battle began. The impossible to swallow lump formed in my throat and the saline substance began to materialize. For the better part of the next twenty minutes I wrestled with my attacker and the outcome was a draw. I kept him from turning me into a mush pile of writhing sissyness and he kept me from speaking or doing anything whatsoever that might send me over the edge. I cannot explain the hold a child has over your heart. I am sure both of my babies will cause my heart to break multiple times and if this is any indicator, I am in for it.

Goodbye Dear Friend – So if the above experience was not enough for me in one day, I return to my mother’s house (to retrieve my daughter) and have a very good friend of mine call and ask if he can meet me. He agrees to hook up at my parent’s house since he is in the area. His goal in this interaction? To tell me goodbye…possibly forever. I have had friends come and go throughout the years but few of his caliber. The only sissy foul I committed during this painful interaction was a hug. And I made sure that it was as manly of a hug as possible with the obligatory ‘slap, slap’ of my hands on his back. So rest easy, there was no BrokeBack moment but that does not make his departure any less bearable. I suppose we’ll see him now and then during the holidays. And I guess that responsibilities to our respective wives, children, and jobs already had properly strained any efforts to constantly stay in touch. But you always take for granted that a good friend just lives down the road…available anytime, for any reason. And with guys you can always just pick up where you left off even if years have passed by. Well after at least 10 years of friendship, countless trips to Mexico & Colorado, running a Pizza Shop together, college partying, multiple workouts (see now…something manly, right?), chasing girls, standing up for each other at our weddings, and holding each others infants…the chapter closes. I remain hopeful of a comeback tour but realize that life deals different cards sometimes. So until next time Ryan…much love.

So as you can see, I need help. I need to have a day to sit idle in my underwear, scratching what I may, drinking a beer, belching, and watching the UFC. Either that or a good sock in the jaw. Feel free to set me straight in your commentary!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hezbollah-Crap


Alright. So another story from the Middle East snuck up on me and had me confused. Being the ever constant news Ostrich with my head in the sand, I had to do some brief research to see why every news outlet is talking about Isreal and Hezbollah. Here is what I found from MSN:

Formed in 1982 after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah (Arabic for “Party of God”) is considered by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization. Consisting almost entirely of Shiite Muslims, it has received support from Iran and Syria and is a recognized political party in Lebanon. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in June 2006, which triggered an Israeli attack on targets inside Lebanon. Hezbollah expresses sympathy for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another radical group.

Despite its 24 years of existence, this is the first time I am hearing anything about them. And I really don’t care if you are Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, or ComOnIwanaLaya…I am sick of the bombings and hatred. I have never seen a religious group and nation of people so angry all of the time. Whether they are pissed off at a cartoon drawing of Muhammad or unable to wash the sand out of their butt cracks, they always have a reason to terrorize another race, nation, or opposing group. If this was not the year 2006, I would be convinced that these are Barbarians fighting over Brontosaurus meat and Hagred the Hot from cave tribe 7.

What is really strange to me about all of this is the knowledge of the original problem. And I blame Abraham, though he is a very important figure to my Christian roots. All of this modern day conflict stems from one of the oldest stories of family dysfunction. Abraham (you know the song…Father Abraham had many sons and many sons had Father Abraham…) was unable to have children with his wife Sara. So (as was tradition during a time when medical science for fertility options was non-existent) Sara gave Abraham permission to plant his seed in the womb of their slave-girl, Hagar (not to be confused with Hagred the Hot). Well let’s let Wikipedia explain it in better detail:

As Sarai was infertile, God’s promise that Abram’s seed would inherit the land seemed incapable of fulfillment. His sole heir was his servant, who was over his household, a certain Eliezer of Damascus (15:2). Abraham is now promise as heir one of his own flesh. The passage recording the ratification of the promise is remarkably solemn (see Genesis 15). Sarai, in accordance with custom, gave to Abram her Egyptian handmaid Hagar, who, when she found she was with child, presumed upon her position to the extent that Sarai, unable to endure the reproach of barrenness dealt harshly with her and forced her to flee. Hagar is promised that her descendants will be too numerous to count, and she returns. Her son Ishmael thus was Abram’s firstborn, but was not the promised child, as God made his covenant with Abram after Ishmael’s birth (chapter 16-17). Hagar and Ishmael were eventually driven permanently away from Abram by Sarah (chapter 21).

The name Abraham was given to Abram (and the Sarah to Sarai) at the same time as the covenant of circumcision (chapter 17), which is practiced in Judaism and Islam and by many Christians to this day. At this time Abraham was promised not only many descendants, but descendants through Sarah specifically, as well as the land where he was living, which was to belong to his descendants. The covenant was to be fulfilled through Isaac, though God promised that Ishmael would become a great nation as well. The covenant of circumcision (unlike the earlier promise) was two-sided and conditional: if Abraham and his descendants fulfilled their part of the covenant, Yahweh would be their God and give them the land.

So what it comes down to is a family divided. Isaac was the promised one and chosen son to lead great nations and fulfill destiny. Rightly so, to some degree, the first born son, Ishmael (also promised to have many descendants that became great nations BUT not the chosen one) was a bit pissed off. Isaac’s descendants became the nation of Israel (Jews) and Ishmael’s descendants became the many nations of Islam (Muslims). I suppose this brotherly tension was passed down from generation to generation because here we sit thousands of years later watching these two nations continue to fight and war with one another.

The U.S. being majority Christian or at least originally founded that way have always sided with the Biblical choice…that being Isaac or the Jewish nation. Thusly we protect Israel and often fight Muslims due to our alliance. This is also why so many Islamic terror groups hate us. It is quite conceivable that they could overtake Israel if not for our constant protection. There is even a prophetic verse in the Bible that a great Eagle from the West will spread its wings in protection of The Holy Land (Israel). The day that we remove our alliance or protection is the day I get really scared and start hiding under a rock. I am pretty sure that modern day America resembles Sodom and Gomorrah moreso than we would like to think. I could be wrong but part of me believes that our alliance and protection of God’s chosen ones is what keeps Him from throwing a flaming ball of extinction at us.

All serious discussion aside, I have multiple ideas that might bring resolution to this long standing family feud:

  • Offer free enemas to the terror groups – Once they rid themselves of the corn cobs stuck in their posteriors, real change can begin to happen.
  • Follow up with suppositories – Now that the corn cobs are absent we must quickly replace them with caffeine laced suppositories. This will keep the area blocked from further corn cobs and deliver the much needed relaxing dose of caffeine rendering a calm never seen before in the Middle East.
  • Hook up the Cable – The real reason these nations are so angry and always fighting is that they have nothing else to do. Give them cable television and watch them slowly turn into the cattle-like, doughy-eyed nation that we are. Who has time for suicide bombing when Grey’s Anatomy is on?
  • Initiate the UFC – For those that cannot be calmed and must have their day of fighting they must face their opponents in the octogon. No weapons, bombs, burning flags, or gun toting protests. Just a no-holds-bar match with Joe Rogan providing the commentary. The first one to tap out or get knocked out loses.
  • Common Enemy – Perhaps the most brilliant idea would be to use the conflicts to our advantage and distract these groups by uniting them against one common enemy. Tell them that the North Koreans are always drawing cartoons of Mohammed and making jokes about the Jews. Before you know it Israel and the Islamic Nations will unite and take down North Korea and we won’t have had to lift a finger. To ensure the missiles are destroyed we need to paint a cartoon of Muhammad on the side of the missile silo.
  • Build Disneyland – This is another form of distraction but I think it will work. If we put a huge theme park right in the middle of all this conflict, people will put down their weapons and start riding roller coasters. Who can be mad when Mickey Mouse is skipping around with Goofy?
  • Let them have Bush – Since Georgie cannot serve a 3rd term for us (what a shame) he should go lead and unite the Middle East. We all know how good he is as a leader in general and look what he has done to create bi-partisan unity in our country. It would be a complete shame to let those talents go to waste in retirement at his Texas ranch.

Well this list is just a rough draft. I am sure that each one can be tweaked a bit for optimum results. I’d love to hear your ideas as well. Later today I have a meeting with Dubya and he is counting on me to have some solutions.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ball & Chain

So I’ve been married now for 4 years going on 5. It has been quite the adventure and events of this past weekend have me and My Wife reminiscing as my brother popped the question to his girlfriend and now fiancé. Though my marriage is wonderful and though I would not change any of the journey, MW and I came to the same conclusion…we would not want to start over. In fact, as much as we both felt a sense of sentiment about our collaborative memories, we also felt a sense of relief to have made it through to present day. And more challenges will come, I am sure but it is nice to only have to go through it once. In the short amount of time we’ve been married we have endured:

A 13 Month Engagement – plenty of time to plan but plenty of time to witness MW and her mom argue about said plans.

Job Change #1 – I took this fragile time in my life to not only change jobs but work for a “start-up/ground-floor” company. Women love it when you do that…especially just before marriage.

Anxiety Disorder – My wedding gift to MW was to develop a full blown Anxiety Disorder with complimentary and unlimited panic attacks to boot. Aren’t I a sweetheart? This ordeal is over now but lasted the better half of our first year.

Long Work Hours – The dream job I listed above soon had me working the normal 40 hour work week plus most Saturday’s and Sunday’s at Texas Stadium, The Ballpark @ Arlington, Reunion Arena, or The Texas Motor Speedway. So time with my new bride was very limited. Another gift to my wife…I am a giver, what can I say?

House Search – Though exciting to some degree we really had an emotional roller coaster with my credit and the offer process. We missed out on three homes before finally finding our current abode. The entire process of getting pre-approval, finding a nice home, offering and losing a bid multiple times, inspection, contracts, credit repair and explanations, more offers and more losing the bid, final approval, winning an offer, closing, escrow, and moving in was just peachy. All that while working insane hours and trying to keep a new company afloat. It is no wonder I was stressed out enough to have Anxiety.

Infertility – This one takes the cake. I cannot begin to explain to you what infertility does to shake the foundations of a marriage’s emotional core. Through it all we were a team, never blaming one another but it was a burden above all burdens. Women have it worse then men but 2 years of failure after failure, after failure is enough for anyone to deal with. The crazy thing is that the doctors never did find out for sure why we were having so much trouble though indicators pointed in my direction. And at least this struggle has a very happy ending with My Nuggets being the final result.

Job Change #2 – Since the first job decision was such a gift to MW, I felt compelled to keep on giving. And since joining a “start-up” company was not challenging enough on it’s own, I decided to add an extra element of excitement by opening my own company. I tell you…I am a giver. Women cannot get enough of this kind of excitement.

Finances – This is just an issue any couple has to deal with no matter what kind of salary you bring home. There will always be unforeseeable expenses that wear you down. There will always be disagreements of how to allocate savings or lack-thereof. However common this is to other couples, it was very challenging for us because we started our marriage with NO debt. Our goal all along has been to maintain this level and though we dipped a time or two briefly into the debt dungeon, we have been blessed to get back out fairly quickly.

Just to name a few unforeseeable expenses…here is a list:

  • Broken water heater
  • Broken garage door opener
  • Broken garbage disposal
  • Broken sprinkler system
  • At least 2 visits per year to Auto Mechanics – average cost of $300 per visit
  • Medical bills for fertility testing
  • Fence repair - section 1
  • Medical bills for fertility treatment
  • Medical bills to see specialist 1
  • Medical bills for breaking my arm in two places after taking a header off the roof
  • Medical bills for fertility treatment
  • Fence repair - section 2
  • Medical bills for fertility treatment
  • Medical bills for successful treatment
  • Medical bills for ‘at risk’ pregnancy – a common term used for multiples
  • Medical bills for prenatal care
  • Medical bills to see specialist 2
  • Medical bills to see specialist 3
  • Medical bills for birth
  • Fence repair - section 3
  • Medical bills for premie care and weight gain visits
  • Medical bills for well visits
  • Medical bills to check out fake heart murmur
  • Medical bills for helmet

Seeing a trend?
There is so much more that is not medical but you get the point.

These expenses do not even include things we chose to spend money on, like:

  • Remodeling our bathroom
  • Bedroom furniture
  • Office furniture
  • Painting various rooms of our home
  • Tons and tons of baby clothes, toys, cribs, pampers, and provisions
  • Buying a Dodge Durango
  • Purchasing a refrigerator, washer, and dryer
  • Paying for several semesters of my continued education (college)
  • Two vacations – we need more right about now
  • Etc. - my brain blocked out the many other purchases

So what am I saying here? I am saying congratulations to my wonderful brother and his awesome fiancé! I am very proud and excited for you both. I am sure you will make my story pale in comparison as your love takes you on an adventure noteworthy of future literary works. Your engagement will likely be wonderful, the marriage ceremony without a hitch, and sub-sequent shared life truly amazing. I for one am the luckiest guy around to have my soulmate at my side through thick and thin. I suspect that my brother would call himself the same…and I am apt to agree.

Just don’t make me do it all over again!