Don’t You Know Me Kansas City, I’m the New Berlin Wall, Try and Tear me Down

Oh Thursday night. Why did Friday have to hurt so bad? 

So Thursday my wife had a relatively long day at work, meaning I stayed home with my daughter, alone, for a long stretch. My daughter had decided to punish me for Wednesday, when my sister and I took our kids to the aquarium, and I forgot to bring a nipple for my daughter’s bottle (a problem I solved by running over to a drugstore and purchasing a bottle). By punishing me for this mistake, my daughter decided that she didn’t want to eat Thursday.  

My side of the family has a condition where if we don’t eat we become insufferable assholes. I think this is a trait passed down another generation. My daughter, in her refusal to eat, decided it would be much more fun to scream in my face for much of the day. I tried all of my bag of tricks to get her to calm down. I tried bouncing her, carrying her, not carrying her, carrying her outside, putting her in AC, letting her watch the fan, putting her in each one of her 17 sleeping apparatuses, playing the kick game (I act out different types of kicks with her feet. Soccer kick, ninja kick, kangaroo hop, etc), playing muppets (we wave our hands in the air like Kermit), giving her a pacifier, etc etc. She would not stay calm. I was getting worried but luckily in the late afternoon she eventually took a bottle and then fell asleep, and rested like a perfect little angel.

My wife made it home from work a little while later. She was instantly put on baby duty while I went in the bedroom and sat on the bed by myself for awhile. Then I made dinner for us.

Now this is where the story gets weird: 

So my bar, and one of our regulars, decided that we were going to raise money for the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund by throwing a drag show where the bartenders and regulars dressed in drag. All the tips we collected went to the charity. So I, of course, participated.

I bought a dress online, picked out a song (Party and Bullshit in the USA the Notorious BIG and Miley Cyrus mashup), and when it was time to go, I grabbed a bottle of bourbon and headed out the door. The fact that my kid screamed in my face all day made me want to have a drink. The fact that I was going to dance in drag for money made me want to have more than one. We managed to polish off the bottle, and we ran quite the bar tab. My “performance” was near the end it pretty much was just a shit show. I tackled an older woman trying to shove money into my cleavage at one point. 

Needless to say, Friday morning was rough. Thankfully my daughter decided that she wanted to eat, and spared me. Hangovers and kids are a terrible combination. But as one of my fellow bartenders pointed out, we raised a ton of money for a good cause and may have legalized gay marriage in the process. With the amount of bourbon we drank, it’s entirely possible.

And party, and bullshit.
   
 

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I’ve been first and last, Look at how the time goes past: Father’s Day

This Father’s Day I woke up early to attend Church with my wife and daughter. It was my child’s first time attending church, and my second time attending my wife’s church. Normally, as an atheist, I wouldn’t go. I have nothing against going to church or Mass (I will go with my parents to Mass because it makes them happy), it is just not something I have any interest in. The reason I had an interest today was because I learned that at 10am, the downtown church’s would all be ringing their bells in support of Mother Emanuel, the parishioners there, and the 9 people who lost their lives.  

  

Growing up in the Catholic Church, and going to Catholic schools, I was taught from a young age to be socially active. Part of our education was to do community and church volunteer work. I became an alter boy as soon as I could. I also would go on mission trips with our church’s Monsignor (Father Allen) where we would bring clothes, food, school supplies, baby products, etc to the poor. The Catholic Church that I belonged to was also unique in the fact that it had a priest who was married. Father Kuhn was one of the few priests in the world that was married with the blessing of Pope John Paul II. These two priests were hugely influential on my upbringing, advocating for various social issues (promoting racial equality, advocating on the part of prisoners, helping the poor, being church leaders that were vocal in their support of Gays and Lesbians, etc). And while I may be an atheist today, I feel like Fathers Allen and Kuhn would be comfortable knowing that I took away these lessons.

So today when I attended church with my wife I was pleasantly surprised to see my wife’s pastor speak on topics of social importance. He called for a ban on guns, the removal of hateful symbols, and an openness to dialogue about race. And while I disagree with him about some things (I would’ve called for the removal of the flag of the army of Northern Virginia from statehouse grounds and told my parishioners that to vote for someone that supports it is morally wrong), it was nice to see leaders in our community take a stance.

Father’s Day was a fairly somber day this year, but sometimes the best days, the days where you feel like you and your community have moved forward, are. Don’t forget the people that were shot in a church because of the color of their skin. Pass meaningful legislation, now, and remove that flag. And promise to not vote for politicians who continue to support it and call to remove state employees who support symbols of hate.  I’m talking about you Glen McConnell and Nikki Haley.

*update:  Nikki Haley finally does what a rational person would’ve done decades ago.

  

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Race, Religion, Guns

Yesterday was a terrible day in Charleston. 9 people were killed while at church. The church was Emanuel AME Church. This is the oldest AME church in the United States. Denmark Vesey, leader of a slave uprising, was a founding member. It was burned to the ground shortly afterwards by white supremacists. The congregation had to meet in secret as black churches were banned, until after the civil war. The church has a long history of influential politicians who have been active in the congregation. Many black leaders have spoken at the church, including Dr King. The church supported the hospital workers right to unionize, even during threats of violence.  

It is against this historical, social, and political background that an armed, young, white man came into the church and murdered 9 people. This was a hate crime, just days after another hate crime (the murder of Walter Scott) was committed in North Charleston.
I don’t understand why a man would want to shoot another person or people but can we, as a collective group, stop doing it. Whatever your problem with someone else is, it’s not worth you or them being killed over. And then to kill, in order to make a whole community fear for themselves, is the most cowardly act a man can commit. Black lives matter is not just a hashtag to be taken lightly, but something we all need to wake up and listen to, we need to take in our hearts, and love our fellow people. White people, like myself, need to realize that we do have a privilege, through no merit of our own, but through the color of our skin, and that is wrong.

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When I go to get my Shoes Shined, I Gotta Take Their Word:  Sympathy Weight

I came to college at 17 years old. At the time I had bad acne, braces, a terrible haircut, and weighed about 150lbs. Now I now what you’re saying. “150lbs is nothing to sneeze at”. Well I am also 6’6. I didn’t gain the “freshman 15” while not exercising like I had in high school. I played some intramural sports but never ran or hit the gym besides one semester where I swam about a mile a day.  

I didn’t gain weight until the summer after my sophomore year when I moved to Detroit and worked construction. There a steady diet of job site food, Gatorade, and physical activity at work coupled with working out at home finally put some weight on me. I bulked up to a respectable 215.

After college (the first round), I bounced around doing a variety of jobs. Some sedentary (selling health and life insurance in Detroit), some active (working in a warehouse in Mount Pleasant, giving pirate themed tours of the Charleston harbor, working carrying tourists luggage downtown). Some a combination (bartending and working the door at bars). My weight slowly crept up.  

Then it happened. I moved to Memphis. I loved my time in Memphis. The people are great, only NOLA has a equal music scene, I love the Memphis Grizzlies, etc etc. I would move back to Memphis. It is an incredible city. But… and here it is… Memphis does not have the walk ability of Charleston, nor Charleston’s access to more healthy food options. (I’m sorry Memphis friends and family, I love you). Eating healthy in Charleston, at least the majority of meals a week, is not a difficult task for someone with my socioeconomic status. In Memphis, it was. That and I stopped walking most places and had to drive. I got fat. Like pie faced fat. Like yo momma is so fat she looks like Mike. Like…that fat is going to lead to heart disease, have another French fry and pork sandwich you piggy. Piggy piggy piggy.

285lbs.  

Memphis weight gain

 
Meanwhile while all this had happened to me, my wife started running. Like running further than I like to drive. When I met my wife she couldn’t run a mile and now she was running the type of race self important people put stickers on the back of their Toyota 4Runner for.

Moving back to Charleston I looked around and saw all the good looking people and realized that I needed to get back into shape. I started doing crossfit at a local place (Crossfit Discovery on Society St). It was expensive but I was going about 4 times a week. I was getting into pretty good shape again and was having fun doing it. I dropped 50lbs and I was feeling great. Mentally I was doing fantastic, I felt like my prowess in the bedroom was on point, and I had the energy that I had when I was 22.   

Doing Crossfit

 And then it happened. I didn’t listen to the instructors and blew my back out. I went to the hospital where they told me that I needed to rest for at least a month and gave me pain medication for my back.

I’ve never been good at drugs. I’ve tried a couple different ones in my time, but the one I’ve been around most in my life is pot. If you want to see a large man curl up in a corner and not move for hours just give me one hit of weed. I am terrible at drugs. The prescription ones as well. The pain medication they prescribed, while effective at easing my pain, made me depressed. When my month of rest was over I tried to go back to Crossfit but at this point my friend had stopped doing it, I was depressed, and the cost of a membership was no longer viable. And the fear of blowing my back out also scared me.

All of that and I didn’t put on much weight. I was still walking many places and I was eating fairly healthy. I didn’t put on the weight until my wife got pregnant. It’s not like she started craving bacon wrapped moon pies all of a sudden (for one she’s a vegetarian). She started wanting biscuits and French fries all the time.  

And now I’m back up to around 255lbs again. But I’ve got a plan this time. I’ve started doing water aerobics occasionally with a friend (which is really funny to watch. My friend is a small lady and I’m a giant. I imagine it looks like a mastiff and a purse dog slashing around in a pool together). Eventually my back will get stronger and I’ll start swimming again to ease the pressure on my joints and trim some of this fat. 

My wife and I. She’s 8 months pregnant, I’m fat

 Meanwhile my wife, who gave birth 2 months ago, looks like a model. I don’t know what I did for my smart, accomplished, fearless, and beautiful wife to pick me but I’m sure glad she did.
  

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Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times

As I get older I realize that truth isn’t real. It’s the basis of what other people want to believe that is true to them, especially when the truth doesn’t fit their narrative

Years ago there was a girl I liked who had a boyfriend. This was something that never stopped me from hitting on someone. We eventually had a relationship, hiding it from people. She broke up with me, broke it off with her boyfriend, and was dating someone else within weeks. I’m no dummy and realized that she was seeing the new boyfriend and me at the same time as she was with me and the ex. I eventually became friends with the ex boyfriend. A night of downing whiskey and a lot of guilt made me come clean to him about the relationship I had with her. I knew I didn’t want to hurt him but I knew that I couldn’t live with myself if I continued to keep it from him. He decided to believe that my truth was a lie.

Sometimes I feel like the truth that I present in social media and on this blog is a lie. My child is, at this point, healthy and wonderful. There are things I complain and bitch about using the platform as therapy. But when someone tells you about their struggles with their child and autism and asthma it gives you a reason to think about how good you have it. This post goes out to all those moms and dads that have had it harder than me. I hope it gets easier and I hope my blog hasn’t offended you.

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Stay Positive: Yeah It’s Mostly Pretty Alright

I spent last week with my Inlaws visiting and helping with our baby. My wife had returned from maternity leave and gone back to work and my mother in law knew that we (I) were going to need help. Plus our baby is possibly the cutest baby to ever grace the earth and I’m sure that helped make her decision.

  

My mother in law is great with children. She works at a preschool, and has as long back as my wife can remember. Having her around to hold the baby while I was able to do things like cook dinner or vacuum was great. Both my wife and I were able to get a good amount of sleep, despite me picking up shifts throughout the week (one of the other bartenders injured his back).  

The problem though now arises in, what do I do Monday morning when my wife goes to work, and I’m with the kid by myself. I’ve spent time alone with her but it hasn’t been more than about two hours. I’ve been able to feed her, I change her diaper, I’ve gone though infant CPR training, etc. On paper, I should be able to do this.  

But why does it make me so nervous? One part of me wants to quit my job so I don’t have to try and do this parenting thing tired. The other part of me realizes that I will go (more) insane if I don’t have people to be around. If you’ve read any of my other posts so far you’ve probably gotten the sense that gender roles aren’t particularly important to me. My wife making more money than me isn’t irksome. We could be financially secure if I didn’t work. (Plus I figure that someone will eventually read this whole blog thing and start sending me checks. Pampers, Huggies, Costco, Ford, etc I’m telling you right now that I’m willing to let you guys get into a bidding war over me). Does this make me a bad parent, the fact that I want to get away, and work (a job I really enjoy), when I could stay at home? This is honestly a question I’ve asked myself. I think the pressure, from all sides, to conform to this ideal (which no one will actually tell you what it is) of parenthood is really rough. I’m no expert. I’m basically going into week one trying it this way. I’ll see you on the other side. Hopefully with some interesting stories with a joke or two thrown in for good measure. And a paycheck from a corporate sponsor.  

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They drew first blood: My sister gets attacked in grocery store

My sister and nephew were recently at a grocery store in Mount Pleasant (I won’t say which one but it’s anti-Union Republicans selling expensive food to hippies. Many people would say “duuude, going there I spend my Whole Paycheck”), where my sister’s parenting style was attacked by a bitter and old woman. This is my retelling of what happened, in hopes that the Wicked Witch of the Ohio South has a bucket of water spilled on her and she melts away.

My nephew is a year and a half old. He’s a darling child. My sister and her husband are fantastic parents. They are involved in his life to the fullest extent. There is nothing either of them wouldn’t do for their child. Like any child a year and a half old, he’s going to, at times, be happy, fussy, giggling, crying, sleepy, or full of awe and wonderment. He is such the child that he often shows his best side, and I attribute that to my sister and brother in law’s careful, knowledgeable, and patient upbringing.

Being a year and a half and stuck in a grocery store that sells organic frozen goods by the airstrip, in a town that is named as a euphemism for a vagina, you can imagine a child of my nephew’s age being bored. I mean seriously, who would you rather see on a cereal box? Captain Crunch or Crunchy Vegan? So when my nephew was in line and spotted a little bag dog that some old bat was carrying around with her he squealed in delight. My nephew loves cats and thought that this small animal was a cat. His dog after all is a Carolina Yella Dog that my sister, the former Federal Park Ranger, rescued while working on one of the sea islands and is a much bigger animal (although this puppy sometimes forgets that she’s not a lap dog).

This aging vixen of Vicodin then snarled at my nephew and sister and says “I don’t know WHAT has changed but over the years but children NEVER used to scream in stores before. What in the WORLD has changed?” The old bag of meat then had the gall to say that she “was sorry that my nephew had my sister as a mother”.

I’ll leave that there for a minute….

This woman had no right to attack my nephew and sister. I hope that she wakes up today and feels so badly that she volunteers her time at a homeless shelter, or with a Cub Scout troop, or helps out at an animal shelter. And if she doesn’t? I hope her little yap dog looks her right in the eye and then runs away for good.

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