Leaving Home

“We gathered up our worldly goods, stole off in the dark, quickly as we could”

So I left Charleston. The world hasn’t collapsed. In fact, I think it’s gotten better. My wife accepted a job in Tennessee. We bought a house and moved here on the first of July. 6 weeks later and I’m feeling pretty solid about the move. My kid now has room to run around a yard and play. I’m not coming in late at night. I’m waking up early and making my kid breakfast every day. I putter around the house. I clean. I do yard work. I watch a sprinkler. And I’m calm. There’s no stress. Nothing to bother me. I get together with one of my best friends and his 3 boys and have play dates. I see my Inlaws (who live up the street) and have dinner with them. I sort of think that boring might just be good. I bought a lawn mower. I looked at bedroom sets. I watched the stars. I signed up for classes at the University of Tennessee. I’m happy. Thank you.

“And I apologize but I don’t know what I love more, you next to me there or the receding shore”

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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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Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight: Infidels of love and religion in Memphis

This month has once again brought lots of travel. The rental car guy and I are on a first name basis at this point in the year. I’m currently writing this blog post while stuck in Greenville as my wife spends her weekend working a moonlighting position. The weekend before we were in Memphis attending the wedding of friends of ours.  

 
 

the rental car

 

My friends Laura and Evan decided to get hitched a couple of months ago. I’ve known them both for a number of years. Laura and I went to college together and Evan and I worked together. Evan is the person I refer to as my little brother, despite our lack of blood relatives and the fact that he’s a pretty big dude. So while on my last trip to Memphis, Evan and Laura asked me to officiate their ceremony. I am an ordained minister, which is not a fact that I readily tell most people. It usually involves quite a lot of questions because I’m also an atheist. But I have performed a wedding ceremony in the past, a ceremony which Evan also attended and got the idea that I should speak in front of his new family.

So the wife and I began to prepare for this weekend. Tracy started pumping and freezing extra breast milk as my Inlaws said that they would watch our child. She bought herself a sensible dress that she could also wear to work and I got a couple of my suits dry cleaned. And then I had to write what I was going to not only tell the couple on their wedding day, but what I was going to tell their families.

Laura and Evan both have family members that are Deep South religion. They are conservative, right wing, bible thumpers. I’m pretty sure the preacher father from Footloose would be somewhere in attendance for this wedding.  

So I asked some friends for advice. One of my greatest friends and influences in life is ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. He has a masters degree in theology (among his multiple masters degrees) and I turned to him for answers I had regarding the ceremony. I also was able to turn to my sister, a practicing Catholic, for advice. And finally, from the wedding I performed before for two other (atheist) friends, I just copied their vows. In the end I (we all) came up with a pretty good speech.  

So I packed up the car. I managed to pack my entire closet I’m pretty sure. I normally pride myself in my ability to pack light. This was not the case. We had also rented a Ford Escape, which turned out to have (much) less interior room than our Toyota sedan we normally drive. We had this sucker packed between me, the wife, and the kid. We got on the road and headed to Knoxville. There we spent the night and dropped the kid off with her grandparents.   

Grandpa and Baby

They were excited to watch her a weekend, we were pretty excited about sleeping through the night and having some alone time. This was the first time my wife would leave our kid overnight. So then we went to Memphis to meet up with the wedding party.

The first night we were there we stayed at the groom’s house. We had the rehearsal and then the dinner. Afterwards the bride had taxed us with keeping Evan on the straight and narrow.  

Bride, Groom, Officiant

 
I learned the day of the rehearsal that the wedding procedure was going to be left to me. Which temporarily caused an “oh shit” moment. But, with years of bartending lessons to have learned from, I faked it and everyone seemed to think I knew what I was talking about.

After the rehearsal, the dinner was at Andrew Michael’s Italian Kitchen. The wife and I made an agreement that I would drive Friday night and she would drive Saturday, after the wedding. The food there was fantastic, once again (I wrote about a dining experience there in another blog post). It was a 5 course meal that they pulled off for 53 people.  

The next day Evan and I were up at 7am for haircuts and breakfast. Well, he was up for a haircut. Because of the medicine I’m on I can’t shave (see the other blog posts about this). Because I can’t shave I also have kept my hair long. I currently look like the cover of Bob Dylan’s album “Infidels”.  

We get to the salon where one of my old regulars from Memphis, and one of Evan’s current is cutting hair. Rob is a throw back barber. He gives fantastic cuts and shaves, and does so while telling (in)appropriate barber shop joke.  

Rob might also be the inspiration for a character from “The Simpsons”

  The groomsmen broke out the beer at this point (8:30am) and started drinking, laughing, and generally doing a great job of releasing any pre wedding anxiety Evan might have. Around 9:30 or 10 two 12 year old boys came in with their dad. I’m pretty sure they were going back to school on Monday with a new vocabulary.  

After the barber shop we headed out to the wedding site, but not before stopping to grab a TV from one of the groomsmen’s houses. See, the other big thing going on in Memphis that day was the Old Miss / Memphis football game. Memphis has a pretty decent team this year and it seemed like an upset might occur of a mighty SEC team and the city was a buzz with excitement. Memphis is a city where maybe 20% of the population pulls for the Tigers, 20% for the Volunteers, 20% for Old Miss, 20% for Alabama, and 20% for Arkansas. So for that 1/5 to finally be even in a game with an SEC team was a big deal. The Tigers ended up wining, pulling the upset, and moving into the top 25. 

Evan, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews

 
After watching the game (I mean getting dressed) we went for photos.  

Wedding Party

  Evan saw Laura and the water works flowed. And then came my moment.  Err, Laura and Evan’s moment.

I was able to mix in stories about my dealings with Evan and Laura, with information that they had given me about how they felt around each other. I was able to pull from multiple religious texts (start quoting the Quran at a wedding in rural Tennessee. I dare you. I did it.). I’m an atheist, however, I’m smart enough to know that religious texts do offer some relevant advice on how to be a good and just person. 

The ceremony went over well and I believe everyone was happy with the service. Afterwards at the reception everyone danced to old Stax hits, ate hot chicken, and drank wine (or maybe bourbon from an inside suit pocket).  

That Diet Coke can might have had Bourbon in it…

  Then we wished the couple well, said our goodbyes and went and slept all night long. We got up early, jumped in the car, and were ready to be reunited with our daughter.  We had missed her, being away for 2 days had seemed like 2 weeks.

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Viral matters

At what point does social media make a difference? When I heard about the “ice bucket challenge” I asked the young woman who was explaining it to me, “what is it raising awareness for”. She checked her smart phone and came back with her answer a minute later. She informed me it was to raise awareness for a sick baseball player (in reality it was to raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). When a well meaning friend nominated me as a participant, I figured donating money to local charities was a better use of my time and money.

The “ice bucket challenge” is just one example. We’ve had so many hashtags and social movements on social media they’ve all become so watered down. The latest I’ve seen, #masculinitysofragile, had become watered down from its original intent within a matter of hours it seemed.  

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites are really cool. They allow you to share information so quickly with such a large group of people. But sometimes, just remember to look up the actual studies. Check that meme you saw on a fact checking site. And always remember: #Kony2012

  
 

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Pink and Blue / True Gold / Nine Days Old:

Episode 11
Alright this episode isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m going to give my opinions on some matters which South Carolinians may take offense, and as history teaches us, there’s no one more dangerous than South Carolinians when they feel slighted (just ask Charles Sumner).

Charleston is the greatest city in the Carolinas. North Carolina is the better of the Carolinas. Carolina is better than S. Car (or whatever that school in Columbia is legally allowed to call itself now). Lexington Barbeque is the best Barbeque in the world. And while the state of South Carolina focuses their passion for athletics into football programs that have one National Championship, the state of North Carolina focuses its passion towards highly successful basketball programs. It is this basketball focus that has stuck with me throughout my adult years, always watching football with a passing interest, but often spending more time focusing on my beloved UNC Tar Heel basketball program.  

Regulars coming into my bar have nicknamed me a variety of things, but most of them have come up with the nicknames “Big Mike” or “Carolina Mike” on their own. Both nicknames are easy to come by. I’m a large guy, which explains “Big Mike” and 9 out of 10 shifts you can find me wearing a UNC ball cap.  

Growing up I would sneak my radio under my pillow in bed and listen to all the late night basketball games. My mom, also an avid basketball fan, would let me watch the early games on TV. She’s such a big fan she loaded up all the kids at home (my oldest sister was studying at UNC at the time) and drove us to Chapel Hill to celebrate the ’93 NCAA Championship (I still own the t-shirt I bought from the bookstore). The only time I’ve ever cheered against UNC is when I was at CofC in the nineties and attended the Diet Pepsi Tournament where CofC played UNC (A game the Cougars won).

So it’s with this love of North Carolina that I wear plenty of Carolina Blue clothing. It’s my favorite color. And being much larger than my daughter (remember the whole “Big Mike” thing) I get to pick out what she wears. This means plenty of superhero, punk rock, and UNC onesies. Her wearing these onesies she often gets called a he.  

Working at the Upper Deck, and as a bartender elsewhere, I’ve been around many different types of people in my life. The Upper Deck has always had a policy that anyone who isn’t an asshole is welcome. The bar I worked at in Memphis, The Cove, had the same policy.  

My daughter being called my son doesn’t bother me. I do find it odd that strangers would call a child her size either a boy or girl. Here’s the thing. Don’t assume. While it doesn’t bother me that someone gets my child’s sex wrong, the mentality of having to label gender does bother me. Just don’t be an asshole. Or I won’t give you drinks.

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