“The Shortest Distance Between Two Points is Often Unbearable”

Milestones 

I looked at the temperature gauge quizzically. How was smoke pouring out of the smoker but not able to get to that 185-190 degree Fahrenheit temperature that I like to smoke at? A couple of troubleshoot activities I ran through. It wasn’t my smoker and I had only used it once before. So I rechecked all my connections. The smoker box wasn’t totally attached to the cabinet. So I made sure to reattach it and waited. For a moment it seemed my problem had resolved itself. The smoker temperature was climbing. Yet I was only able to get it to around 115 degrees. This would be a problem because I was smoking Boston Butts and needed them to reach 175 to 180 degrees. I knew I was going to have to enlist my back up plan and throw them on the grill and smoke them that way. So I pulled out the grill, quickly washed the grates, replaced them, opened the hood, cut on the gas and went to fire this sucker up. Click. Click. Click. Great. Some asshole (me) forgot to replace the gas when he used it up last. 18 hours until my daughter’s first birthday and birthday party and things weren’t going well.


My wife and I had decided that we should throw a party for my daughter’s first birthday. We had kicked around a couple of ideas and finally settled on having it at the Oyster Catcher Community Center on Seabrook. The rate to rent it was fairly low, and I figured I’d make all the food for the event so we wouldn’t have to pay to have it catered. On top of that, if the weather was nice there was a swimming pool and the beach was a boardwalk away. So we made a guest list and it got a little out of hand and so I made the trip to Costco to get supplies.

Luckily I had a backup gas canister. I mean, letting one go empty is not the end of the world when you’ve got yourself a backup. Click. Click. Shit. Some asshole (me) had also used up that canister without getting it refilled. So I jumped into my truck, gassed it out the driveway, and probably scared my neighbors in the process. I run to the closest filling station and trade out my empties. No problem. I’ve scheduled some time into food preparation for these types of crises, I just have to be diligent about my time use from now on. I take the wood pellets I was going to use in the smoker and stack them up in a foil packet and place them on one of the burners and get them going. I trick the grill into holding a little over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a little hotter than I’d like but it will do. I walk in the house to prepare the sides. We’ve decided to have potato salad with the Barbeque (Barbeque is a proper noun) sandwiches I’m currently smoking the meat for. I course cut a large bowl of red potatoes and throw them in a large bowl. I fill a pot with water, put it on my stove top and…. Click. Click. Click. Oh come the fuck on. How did the large tank in front of the house run out of gas? This time it was not my fault, rather the company that services our house’s tank. Luckily, the stove was electric. It looks like it’s going to be a roasted potato salad.

Despite everything going wrong that could go wrong, the wife and I were able to jointly get a meal out for the 60 expected people that had RSVP’d “Yes” to our daughter’s birthday party. The party would go off without any major incidents or meltdowns. My Inlaws, my parents, my wife, and my 3 sisters along with myself all seemed to enjoy ourselves and didn’t even bicker at our normal level. It probably helped that there was a lot of children, ages 5 and under, at the party. By the time it was over I was sending plates and containers full of Barbeque with folks. Only about half of those who RSVP’d “Yes” actually attended.  


It was a very nice day and I was full of pork but I had to come to the realization that my baby was now a year old. She had spoken her first word a few days earlier (despite my best efforts to get her to say “Tar Heels” it came out “dad”) and would be walking in the week following the party. And I get it, as a parent you want your child to develop, learn, and share with you, but selfishly part of you wishes that they would always fit on one arm or snuggle up under your chin when they sleep. And while I would hardly call the process “unbearable” as my Bukowski inspired title would suggest to you, I do write this with tears in my eyes. Both happy and sad for my little baby.

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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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Clap for the Wolfman

So being on blood thinners the doctor told me to be really careful shaving. Which I’ve taken to mean, don’t shave. Not shaving I’ve also decided that there’s no reason to cut my hair. I’m increasingly resembling one of Geico’s Cavemen.  
    

  
The best part about not shaving is that I don’t have to scrape my face with a razor every day. The best part of having a beard is that my daughter just loves grabbing it and loves it when I blow raspberries on her stomach.  

  
I also love monsters. The Munster’s was one of my favorite shows growing up, I rock out to the Misfits, I grew up watching monster movies, I still look for the Lizard Man when I go camping. I also make monster noises to my kid a lot. I figure there’s enough things in this world that are actually scary that are real. Maybe growing up with the Wolfman will help her always maintain a sense of perspective.  

  

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The Car Diaries: Summer Tour 2015 Pt 7: Atlanta GA. The Final Chapter

So I recently went on a tour of the southern United States along with my child and my wife. This is that story. It waited until I got back so I didn’t have my house broken into. The story, or blog, is being broken into several parts.

Leaving my friend in Alpharetta, we head towards Atlanta where we are making our final destination. It’s Atlanta so, traffic.  
  
I’m biased against Atlanta. It is the one city I’ve told my wife I really would not like to live in. It is a city, not built on a waterway, but as a train station essentially. The lack of water still seems to be a problem there today.  

That’s not to say I dislike visiting Atlanta, it’s just not a place I see myself living with my family. I love being by the water, be it lake, ocean, or large river. Two of my favorite bars are there (El Myr and Star Bar) and my favorite diner (Ria’s Bluebird Diner) are all located there. I’ve been to a handful of bachelor parties there. I’ve seen a lot of concerts there. I’ve been to some baseball games (still not a Braves fan). I have friends who live there. And my brother and sister in laws live there. They are just genuine and nice people.
  
My brother in law and sister in law are a couple years younger than me. They are in that time frame of late 20’s early 30’s when all of your friends are getting married it seems like. Because of this, my brother in law was going to be out of town at a bachelor party. He has a job with CNN and it offers fantastic vacation time. Between trips and work he often travels to interesting places and interviews charismatic people. All of my brother in laws (I have 4) are really great guys, but I’m probably closest with this one. My sister in law is equally impressive, working with disadvantaged youth as a speech pathologist. She’s also the sister in law I’m closest with (she’s my only sister in law but she’s cool!). 

My wife and her sister are super close. My wife also has two good friends who are like sisters to her. One of those friends lives in Atlanta and the other just moved from there (and to Memphis). So they all decided to go see Shania Twain on her farewell tour since they had seen her in high school. Also my sister in law really wanted to hang out with the baby, and had volunteered to babysit. And while I really didn’t have a desire to go see Shania Twain, El Myr is right down the street from their house.  
  
 What ended up happening the night of concert was; I picked up food for everyone. We all ate at the house and then the ladies went to the concert. I put the baby to bed and then my sister in law and I watched True Detective all night. I’m pretty sure I had worn myself out traveling by this point. 

We managed to see some of the sites while we we there. We walked the green way. I got to see some friends and family. We went to Ria’s. 
  
Traveling with the baby was challenging at points, but no more than I think traveling with anyone else. She was a champ this whole trip. There were some fussy times but she probably had less of those times than me. And I’m sure traveling with her will evolve and change throughout both of our lives. Let’s see how this camping trip I’ve planned turns out next!

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27 Shots: The 4 month appointment

Going to the doctor can be nerve wracking. Taking your child to the doctor is terrifying. No matter what your rational brain tells you, there’s part of you that fears your kid is going to have to go in for extra testing and something is going to be horribly wrong.  

In the waiting room they play the Frozen movie, not Fugazi

Luckily this didn’t happen today. We got a very positive update. Our little tree frog is doing everything someone her age should be doing. It is a little heart breaking when they’re getting their shots (please don’t remember how I held down your arms while the nurse stuck you). But do you know what is more heartbreaking? Your kid dying from a disease that has long since been cured. Seriously people, vaccinate your kids. Don’t be a fucking idiot. If you think that Jenny McCarthy is a credible source and every scientist in the world is lying to you then you’re a moron. If you think that Jesus is going to protect your kids from disease then you’re a moron.  

Be a grown up. Use your brain. Take your kid to the doctor.

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Terrible Baby Product

Do you know who makes terrible products?  Motorola.  Specifically the MBP18 Watch Them Dream Digital Baby Monitor.  Here’s a photo of the electrical cords they sent me that are used to plug in their monitor.   

   
More like “Watch Them Catch on Fire”.  You know you’ve got a shitty product when white electrical tape is supposed to disguise it as new.  What did you think Motorola?  That new parents would be so tired they wouldn’t see the tape?  Here’s a photo of the screen of the monitor. 

   
It’s dented and scratched right out of the box. Under the “protective” cover no less.

Here’s the thing.  THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME I GOT THIS PRODUCT.  THE LAST ONE I PURCHASED WAS IN WORSE SHAPE.  I bought them from Target.  Cost me around $150.  Thanks Target and Motorola.  And by thanks, I really mean I’m really mad at you guys for selling me such awful equipment and putting my child in harms way.

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