Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape

So my favorite Superman comic is the one where billionaire villain, Lex Luthor, decides to run for President of the United States. He is able to spawn a lot of money on slick propaganda pieces in the media and attracts a lot of attention to his anti alien (immigration) platform. He campaigns on people’s fears, and is able to gain support this way. Many also point to his reputation as a business man for why they want to vote for him. Luckily, there are members of the media, like Lois Lane, who question him but when they do, they are attacked.  

At the end of the day, the people realize who the real hero is, Superman! Superman is someone who looks out for the marginalized among society. He uses his super powers for truth, justice, and the American way. People see that, like Superman, they are able to help their fellow persons by offering each other respect, kindness, and a helping hand when needed.  

And while South Carolina just took a step on Saturday in electing our real life Luthor (Trump), next Saturday we have the chance to send someone to combat him, Superman (Bernie Sanders). Please remember to vote Saturday. And while you’re at it, bring a friend with you.

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Mr. Sandman, Bring me a Dream

Sleep monitors and sound machines

So after all of these months the kid is finally beginning to sleep for the majority of the night in her crib. The problem I’ve now found is the fact that I can’t sleep.   

I wish I got sleep these days. Unfortunately we have electronics running our lives. We have a baby monitor with sound and a sound machine in the babies room. My wife is convinced that the sound machine helps the baby sleep. I hate the fucking thing. It’s “beach” sounds that just sound terrible. I think it’s driving me insane.  

Added into the mix we have Hugo the cat. Hugo the cat has decided that whenever I was going to fall asleep he’ll do one of three things. 1) Yell in my face. My 5lbs cat rivals any mythological Irish banshees for pure volume. He is a Jucifer concert, devil orange cat. 2) Decide he wasn’t to sleep on my face, then under the covers, then not under the covers, where he will decide that my balls seem like a comfortable resting spot. And finally 3) He’s also elderly and sometimes will just decide to not wash himself so he’ll stink to high heaven. It’s a good thing I love the little fucker.  
  
  
 

Usually by this point in the night now my kid has decided to move into bed with us. So either my wife and I try and rock her and feed her back to sleep or she comes in with us. Where she notices the cat and now is really no longer ever interested in sleeping but now trying to play with the cat (who is nervously making circles on my balls).  

Maybe we got lucky. And the kid didn’t see the cat. And it’s 2am and I’m about to fall asleep. Ah, tonight’s going to be a good night. Nope, psyche, now some asshole is driving his or her car down the street hammered drunk. The high revving engine has woken us all up and I look out the window to see them dragging a bumper down the street. Or maybe it’s the hipster asshole on the Honda motorcycle driving it home with crimped pipes and no muffler. Or maybe it’s the drunk college kids coming to my door wondering if there’s a party going on here (GPS coordinates often give my address as the address for a different house, in a different part of town) despite the lack of noise or lights coming from my house. Thanks frat bro.

Someone get me some sleep….

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“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

Introspective thoughts late at night after too much coffee.

I was recently speaking with a friend about our fathers. Like most conversations worth a damn, it was early in the morning and fueled by a couple pints of beer. My friend brought up a really solid point about my father that I’ve been thinking about ever since.

During the course of our conversation I mentioned how when growing up we had a lot of books in our house. We had multiple built in book shelves, and the room I slept in we had 3 more large free standing bookshelves. My parents also took us quite often to the library and let us check out stacks of books. I’m pretty sure my parents were aware that I was sneaking in extra reading under my covers at night growing up. I also mentioned that my parents had saved a few of their college text books which came in handy for school projects growing up. I always thought that was a great resource and had saved quite a number of my books from college for the same reason. My friend then asked me what my father read.

It took me a minute to think about the question. I have very vivid memories of reading as a child with him. One of my most clear memories from growing up is reading “The Swiss Family Robinson” with him. But reading for himself? The only publications I could remember him reading were ENR (Engineering News Record, a trade magazine that my sisters and I had zero interest in), the newspaper, and college textbooks. I went on to tell my friend that both of my parents took classes at the local community college throughout my years growing up. I can to this day remember my mother bringing me into her computer labs while she learned auto cad and my father studying Spanish at the dining room table.

 

my father, my little sister, and me around 1986

 
My friend was quiet for a moment and then said something I had never thought of. He said “wow that’s really cool. I’m sure you and your sisters watching your parents continue their education as adults really instilled a sense of the importance of education into you at an early age”. 

This was my first thought that rushed to my head; how do I make sure that I instill this value into my child? How do I make sure to show her that education is really important and one of the keys to a better life?  

I examined myself. I know I can do better to learn more. I have been coasting for a couple of years now outside of the classroom. I still read a decent amount but not as much as I’d like. But I do have many interests that I could go to the local community college and explore more (auto mechanics, graphic design, computer programming, culinary arts, etc). I’ve also thought about going back to school and getting a certificate or masters in therapy. So these are now my 5 year goals. To make sure that I’ve spent some time learning new skills over this time. My wife, who works full time, and still takes time to help me out a ton with parenting and housework can make time to read both for pleasure and continuing education. If she can do it so can I. And hopefully our child sees that with education, the world is there for you to explore.  

  

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Fight the Horde, Sing and Cry, Valhalla, I am Coming

A couple years ago one of my closest friends died over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. It was quite the shock to me and his death still brings me to tears as I write this, I miss him so.

Just a month or so before his death I had made the trip with my new wife to the Washington DC area. We had seen our friend at our wedding but it had been quite some time since we were able to sit down and hang out with him. My parents also were living there at the time and we were excited to see them, the museums, my sister, and some of the local culture and history of the area.

As much as I loved doing all of those other activities it was really my time with my friend that stood out. My friend was one of those people that everyone liked. He was smart, funny, and kind. I had met him while working at the King’s Courtyard Inn here in Charleston. He was a senior in college, finishing up a degree in Marine Biology. We instantly hit it off. My other best friend also worked with us and there was never a dull moment around the two of them. We would take turns saying the absolute grossest things we could think of to one another, laugh about it, and promise to get a beer after work together.

After I moved to Memphis, my friend got a job working for the EPA. He was from Annapolis and he was excited to be working in DC and living back in his hometown in a job he loved. He was doing really well for himself and we’d stay in touch over email.

My other best friend, the guy mentioned earlier, called me up one morning. I was really excited to get the call as his wife was pregnant. Mike had some really great news for me, and two bits of terrible news. First off, his wife had had the baby. But it was very early at this point in the pregnancy, and on top of that they were visiting her family in Pennsylvania at the time. It was going to be a rough couple of weeks for them while the first born was in the ICU, in a different state.

The second part of the bad news is that our other best friend had been found dead that morning.

Every Martin Luther King Day weekend I try to remember my friend in some special way. I also try to be around my friends and loved ones. This year I went with a group to the mountains in North Carolina. There my friend’s parents let us use their cabin. We went on hikes, played in the snow, cooked a mess of food, played board and card games, and took shots in remembrance of my friend. The man, that while I cry because I miss him, I cry with a smile on my face because I knew him.

I love you, Pat.

  

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In My Mind I’m Going To Carolina

Jump Around: I’m Excited About Basketball

So far this has been a really exciting year for many reasons. One of them for me is the fact that UNC has been playing basketball at a high rate.

I’ve mentioned in posts past that I’m a big UNC fan. The fact that we’re ranked as highly as we are is really exciting. I try to watch all of their games, but sometimes life and work can get in the middle of that. The TV personalities all think that UNC has a good shot at making a deep run in the NCAA tournament. I’m always a little skeptical of that as I’ve seen it happen before and have placed too much faith in the talking heads. Still, the team seems to be more balanced than teams recently have for UNC.
  

I’m also a huge NBA fan. And while my allegiance to UNC has been unwavering through the years, I’ve cheered for multiple NBA teams. Growing up my mom got me Michael Jordan’s autograph at a fund raiser she helped work on. I was instantly hooked on the Chicago Bulls, as Michael Jordan was not only the most exciting player I had ever seen (and still is), but also had played for my beloved Tar Heels. I was living in Charlotte at the time but the Hornets had yet to form. My father would go on to work for a company that helped build the Charlotte Coliseum and would eventually get free tickets to UNCC and Hornet games through his job later and he’d take me to watch them. Still, I was through and through a Bulls fan (even going as far as writing an Op-Ed to the Charlotte Observer when I was in about the sixth grade about how much better the Bulls were than the Hornets that somehow got published). Over time my allegiances would shift on the basketball front however. I moved out of Charlotte, MJ retired, came back, retired, and came back as a Wizard.  

I finished school and moved to Detroit (in with the parents) who had since moved there. This was in the middle of those early 2000’s Larry Brown Pistons. They were very entertaining to watch. They had everything I loved in a team. They were tough, they had players with big personalities, and they always seemed like the underdogs, even when they won a championship (playing against a Lakers team full of future Hall of Fame players).  

Later, I’d move back to Charleston from Detroit. The insurance business I had tried to start didn’t really pan out. I was pretty lonely living with my parents (even though they were great). Coming back to Charleston I watched a lot less NBA games in that time. I didn’t have cable and was working sometimes 3 or 4 different jobs to make ends meet. I still watched my beloved Heels though. I would end up meeting a lady who took me to Memphis TN.

In Memphis I was able to find a job managing a Blockbuster Video. It was the worst job I think I’ve ever had. The pay was terrible and the customers were difficult. The job itself wasn’t physically demanding, as previous jobs had been, but it was in no way intellectually stimulating. Still, it did give me one thing, a chance to talk basketball with one of my coworkers. So when I drew his name in our “Secret Santa” drawing I picked us up a couple of tickets to see the Grizzlies in action. And then the fire burned brightly again. The Grizzlies always seemed like the franchise that was going to be mired in mediocrity. And this season was no different. But once the season ended a couple of things happened. I decided that I should go back to school and I got a new job.  

Going back to school at the University of Memphis allowed me to attend their sporting events. I used that to watch a lot of their basketball games (although I’d sit in the stands looking on disapprovingly at their head coach, John Calipari). The new job paid much better than the previous one and I was able to afford tickets to the occasional Grizzlies game as well. But now the Grizzlies had made some trades and really seemed to be coming along. By the time I left Memphis they had earned a playoff spot but as an 8 seed. In the first round they would go up against a Spurs team that was really tough. I was able to get tickets to all the home games in Memphis, and saw a really exciting series that the Grizzlies would go on to win. My friends and I would sit in the nose bleed section and yell as loud as we could. We were all hooked.

Today I still cheer for the Grizzlies despite only being able to watch a handful of games. A mid market team doesn’t have the national appeal of the Knicks, Bulls, or Lakers and watching them on TV is a treat. My friends who I went to those playoff games with still text almost daily about them. My wife gave birth to my daughter just after we spent our time watching the Grizzlies win a playoff game last year in the hospital.  

I really enjoy basketball. I try not to expose my kid to tv but I do have a soft spot for letting her watch games with me. I hope she’ll find something in life that is so meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but that makes her as happy as basketball makes me. I hope she finds her own NBA team(s). I hope she cheers for the Tar Heels.  

  

Remember to please vote for my blog at Best of 2016 for my chance to win something.

  

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Into My Arms

“I don’t believe in an interventionist God / But I know, darling, that you do / But if I did I would kneel down and ask him / Not to intervene when it came to you.”



Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my wife and my first date.  

My friends Cullen and Molly were getting married.  I was tentatively supposed to bring the maid of honor as my date but she and I weren’t speaking to each other very much.  My wife was, at the time, coming around to all the shifts I was working at the bar.  She would come and talk to me about music or books, as I would either pass my time working the door reading or listening to my iPod.  She liked the fact that I listened to Cat Power and would introduce her to other artists that I like.  I was impressed when she asked me what my favorite book was and when I answered “The Autobiorgraphy of Malcom X” that she seemed genuinely interested in reading it.  

 

When we were young

 
So about a week before the wedding I asked her to come to the wedding with me.  She said yes.  I also had planned a bit of a cookout at my house before the wedding.  I lived a block or two from the venue at the time and had just come into possession of a large grill.  I know how much booze that me and my friends would be consuming that night and thought that having a good base of food in our stomachs was a good idea.  So I had invited her to that also.  

In the meantime my friend Cullen had asked me to pick up his mother’s mini van and deliver it to the rehearsal site so the caterers would have it.  The cookout wasn’t the success I had planned and mostly everyone had left by the time I was to leave and get the van.  Also she hadn’t shown up and I figured she wasn’t coming at this point.  

Meanwhile she was nervously getting ready for the wedding.  Even having three sisters I hadn’t anticipated that someone would take a little more time than my shower, shave, and throw on my suit that it takes me to get ready.  She finally was ready to leave and got a ride over to my house to find it empty, minus my roommate playing video games on the couch.  I had told him what I was doing but apparently didn’t listen as he was involved in his game.  

 

Typical wedding dress

 
I was returning from dropping off the liquor when I saw her on the front porch, with her best friend.  She looked like she was about to be in tears.  I felt like the biggest idiot for not leaving a note or something.  But she was just happy that I had returned and we made our way over to the ceremony.  

We proceeded to laugh, dance, drink, and eat.  It was a good time.  She got to meet many of my friends for the first time.  We headed to Vickeries after the reception with a group of people.  She had a cell phone and we called her parents to say congratulations about Tennesse’s basketball victory over Kentucky earlier that day (luckily they were still out).  

10 years later the lessons from that day still stand.  Clear communication with each other makes the relationship work so much better.  We’ve had our good times and bad times over the years.  There have been times when I thought my life would be better without her as part of it.  I’m glad there was always something that made me just want to give it a little more, talk things out a little better, and maybe just wait to see what came next.  I’m glad she’s been kind enough to keep me around after all this time as well.  Here’s to another decade together, and in the words of that wedding reception, Mazel Tov!

 
(PS – feel free to vote for my blog in the “Best of Charleston” competition at Charleston City Paper). Thanks y’all!

  
 

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Santa Claus is Coming To Town: Baby’s First Christmas

So last I left you fearless readers, I had made it to my Inlaws to see my wife and daughter for Christmas. The next few days would be a whirlwind.  

So one of the nice things about heading to my Inlaws house is, they are head over heals for my child and love to babysit. That meant the wife and I got to have a date night! Another couple that was in town to visit family (who are good friends of ours), my wife’s sister and her husband, and the two of us had decided to go to dinner together. We decided to check out one of the local spots, checking out online reviews and menus and eventually settling on “The Texas Roadhouse”. In my head I thought that this was going to be the greatest dining experience of my life.  Also, I was hoping to see Dalton (shorter than I expected).  The menus online looked ridiculous. The drink menu more than anything else. The other guys were in the same mindset as me going into this experience and our wives pretty much just thought (correctly) that we are a bunch of idiots. So I got ready for our date night by putting on my cleanest t-shirt. Unfortunately my leg was still hurting like hell and so my wife said that she’d drive instead of us taking an Uber. So I climbed in the back seat and away we went. We were meeting our friends there at 5:30, because apparently we were going to eat at the same time as most 80 year olds. I didn’t think anything of it, the Texas Roadhouse being a chain and having roughly 200 tables I assumed we would have no trouble getting one. Thankfully, one of the other guys had called ahead and made a reservation because the Texas Roadhouse was packed to the gills. At 5:30. On a Tuesday.  

My friends had already been seated and we met them at the booth. I was limping along quite nicely at this point as I climbed into the booth. My friend Pat looks at me and says “hey man, the service is a little slow, if you want a drink you might as well order two at a time”. So after looking over the drink menu I decided that the only sensible thing to drink was the specialty craft cocktail, “The Jamaican Cowboy” which was a margarita mixed with Malibu rum. My brother in law, Matt, ordered the Hurricane Margarita, which was a margarita mixed with rum (I’m just saying their craft cocktail menu was so on point). The ladies ordered beers, like a bunch of fools. The drinks came, after several mistakes, about 30 minutes later. It was no big deal, we were sitting and talking and having a good time, but now I was wondering if I should’ve listened to Pat about double ordering. 

  
 
Luckily I didn’t, and was making my way very slowly through my goblet of frozen delectable drink when we placed our food order. My leg was still really smarting. I ordered a steak with the fresh vegetables and applesauce sides. It took a bit for all of our food to come out and by the time it did, I really wasn’t hungry. The pain in my leg overtook how hungry I was. I was feeling downright miserable. I took like 2 bites of my steak, ate all my applesauce (like a big boy), and didn’t touch my “fresh vegetables” which came to the table covered in plastic, to which the wait staff apologized over and over for and insisted that they were “fresh” (despite the fact that I wasn’t complaining or anything). My wife is a vegetarian and got a couple of sides and had noticed me not eating, drinking, and looking miserable. She saved me. She gave her credit card to her sister and told her that we had to go. I apologized to everyone and we left the restaurant (don’t worry, her sister got my food in a to go box and I ate the steak in the morning with eggs). I felt terrible for having to end date night early, especially with friends who we get to see so rarely.  

why does this place have a mascot?

The next day my wife’s family all gets together at my Inlaws home for a large holiday meal. Many of her aunts and uncles live in the area and they all come for it, a total of about 30 people. My mother in law had asked me to make the turkey for dinner but after hearing of my condition (not really being able to walk) she switched duties with me and put me in charge of making some appetizers. Going back to my time in Memphis, I decided that a smoked meat and cheese plate would be a hit along with a olive and pickle plate (along with about the easiest thing in the world to make).  

Everyone came over and we ate all the food we could and talked and had a good time. One of my wife’s cousins has a little girl who’s about 3 and she and I hung out quite a bit and had some interesting conversations. She also ran around the house while I tried to keep up (while looking like Lurch). I hadn’t taken any Tylenol or anything the day before and I think that contributed to me feeling so awful, although I still wasn’t feeling great by any means. It was still really great to see everyone, and everyone was excited to see and hold my child.  

  She was grinning ear to ear as she was passed around between all the relatives. Since it didn’t get cold in the south over Christmas, she ended up out of her Christmas dress and just crawling around in her green draws. It was super cute.

  

So the next day I woke up really late in the day. There was a bunch of stuff that I really wanted to do at the last minute (buying little stocking stuffers) but now my leg was back to being really painful. My wife is a doctor (although she specializes in something much different) so I called her in to look at my leg. It was pretty red at this point. She and I were pretty sure that I had developed cellulitis. One of my best friends is an ER doctor in the area and I called her and asked her opinion as well. She said that I should go into the ER and that she’d call ahead and get a room set up for me. So, Christmas Eve, we headed to the ER. It wasn’t the first holiday where someone in my family has been to the ER, but hopefully it’s the last one.
 

Where’s Clooney?

 
So I get to the ER and get checked out by the doctor. We get my doc in Charleston on the line because she’s on call and she explains to the ER Doctor what procedure I was done on me. The ER Doctor looks at my leg and says “well it’s either cellulitis or a blood clot” and orders some blood work and some imaging of my leg. About 45 minutes later the tech comes and does the imaging on my leg. The results come back. It’s a new clot.  

This clot is bigger, deeper, and more deadly than my last clot. So, yeah, Merry Fuckin’ Christmas to me. Still, it could be worse, I could have to stay in the hospital and miss my daughters first Christmas, but they give me a prescription for blood thinners and put me on pain medication (non opiate thankfully. That stuff makes everything worse I feel like). I take the pain medication and feel better pretty soon thereafter.  

So we return home and my wife being the Saint that she is runs out on Christmas Eve to the local Walgreens and get my prescriptions filled. The stockings get stuffed and the presents wrapped and we all go to bed so Santa can come. My wife and kid are sleeping in her childhood room, while I’m in her parents office on the pull out couch. Her childhood bed isn’t made for two people, especially when one of those people is 6’6 and weighs 225lbs. Christmas Eve is hot. And stormy. It is thundering and lightning out. I open a window because I’m burning up. The combination of the storm and the medication gives me crazy dreams and I toss and turn all night. In the morning, I get up and I’m excited. I didn’t sleep well, I was in the ER the day before, I didn’t get to eat my steak, but none of that matters. It’s Christmas with my daughter. It’s her very first Christmas. And Santa has brought her all sorts of gifts because there has been no one better.
  
My daughter ended up getting all sorts of stuff at my Inlaws house. It was a good thing that we had brought two vehicles and both had to get packed up by noon. Now the wife and I were going to do something we’ve never done as a couple together on Christmas, go to my parents house.  

My parents recently moved (back) to Charlotte after moving away in 1999. It is nice because my Inlaws are only about 4 hours away so we were able to go to my parents for dinner on Christmas. I got to my parents house first. Two of my sisters, their husbands, and one of my nephews were already there (along with everyone’s puppies). My wife and daughter arrived soon afterwards and we all sat down to a great meal that my mother had cooked. After dinner, in a break from tradition in our house, we opened the presents here. Virginia got even more gifts and it was a lot of fun to watch her and my nephew get really excited about their new toys and books. And Santa brought even more stocking stuff which was really nice, and my father gave me a gift which I plan on using a bunch over the next few weeks, my grandfathers cane.
  
So despite the large amount of pain I’m in, the fact that I have to meet with my vascular doc again in Charleston, I have to say, this was the greatest Christmas I’ve ever had. I hope you good reader had a really nice one as well, and I’ll see you in 2016.

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