Archive for August, 2010
After last night’s epic (and no doubt pulitizer-worthy) post detailing the preferred wardrobe of the technically-inclined individual, I have a confession to make: I got way sidetracked. It happens a lot more than you might think. I’ll sit down at my keyboard, prepared to spit out an insightful 500 words about whatever topic I’ve been contemplating all day, like how facebook has become free therapy, why felines don’t like baths, or how my children break my heart by growing up in tiny ways each day.
You know, because those are all pretty similar themes, right? I may not be consistent, but at least I’m consistently random.
So, anyway, I have a weakness; I can’t just launch full-steam into my topic du jour. For whatever reason, if I want to complain about gel-based toothpaste or explain my dislike of creamed corn in agonizing detail, I usually have to begin with something like my breakfast cereal or the joy of extra-large first grade pencils and then transition into my main point.
See? I just did it again.
The question, then, is what was supposed to come of yesterday’s blue denim-based introduction? Obviously, the answer could only be lip balm.
Wait. Lip balm? Yes. Hold your horses, we’ll get there.
First, another shameful confession: I’m a multi-day pants wearer.
Undoubtedly, many of you wrinkled your noses as you read that, thinking how utterly disgusting it is that I would debase myself by wearing the same pair of pants to work…twice. Never consecutively, of course, lest my secret be noticed. By my coworkers. Who read Puddintopia. D’oh!
I guess that cat’s out of the bag now.
In that case, let’s be completely honest; I write software for a living. I don’t know how many of you have ever seen a software engineer plying his trade, but allow me to offer you quick example of a typical day:
Man, software engineer, enters office and unpacks laptop. He sits. He begins typing in incomprehensible codes. Hours pass. Powerfully caffeinated beverages are consumed. Man stands to use the restroom, consumes food largely lacking any nutritional value, resumes typing incomprehensible code (while sitting). Late in the afternoon when no one is watching, Man checks his MMORPG’s guild forums for player updates (still seated). Man stands, packs his laptop, and leaves.
Ok, so maybe that’s slightly embellished. Still, there’s a lot of truth in all that. In other words, while I’m at work, I sit around. A lot. Frankly, not too much dirty happens while you sit in an office chair. I’m sure the pants can take it.
I said previously, my work-attire changed around the first of the year. It used to be Dockers, but now it’s Levi’s. As a result, my business casual pants have been hanging in the closet, alone and forgotten, for most of the year, except for when I visit customers. And that’s how it came to be that two weeks ago, when I pulled down the navy-colored pair for a quick, one-day road trip, I found that they were second stagers.
I knew because I found my missing tube of Carmex.
For those of you unaware, Carmex is the crack of lip balm. And when I say that I mean it; the stuff is hardcore and habit-forming. A kid usually starts with a gateway balm, an original Chap-Stick first, and then maybe a cherry-flavored before long. Sooner or later, often in the cold, dry months of winter, they take their first hit of Medicate Blistex. After that, it’s a fast ride down a slick spiral.
Countless times I found myself wandering a dark alley at night with a faded, empty, yellow and red tube clenched in my quivering hand, looking for a dude name AR-rex to get me a quick fix. ‘Cause when your lips go all dry and start to chap, they sting and burn, and that’s when you start licking them for a little moisture. But that little bit is just a tease that evaporates in the harsh summer night and they get dryer and more chapped, but you keep licking and licking because you can’t help yourself. Sooner or later, they finally crack and you end up looking like Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Except without the poncho, and nowhere near as cool. But dried out, cactus-like. Eventually everything ends up spinning while you stagger around, begging passers-by for a waxing, medicinal hit.
Hi, my name is Puddin, and I’m a lip balm abuser.
Along the way, though, I got lucky and my tube ended up forgotten in a pair of pants in the closet. Sure, I noticed it was missing, but I was too busy to stop at Walgreen’s for a fix, and one Carmex-clean day led to the next. Somehow, I strung together two days, then three, then four, a week, and then a month. Enough days in a row that I finally managed to break that menthol strangle hold.
Until I found the stash in those pants, a full tube, begging to be used. Come on, Puddin, you’re gettin’ a little chapped there, just take the one hit. You’ll be in control.
But I knew better. I have friends who’ve gotten off it. Some, like me, by good fortune, and others by using a substitute. I hear Burt’s Bee’s can help you out of the hole. But I knew enough to know that if I spun that scarlet cap off the tube, it’d be climbing back in for good. Thank God that cap is red, the color of failure.
It’s sitting on my nightstand still, unopened. But I can’t throw it away. I need it, as a reminder never to let that monkey back on.
Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself.
I used to wear Docker-style casual pants to work on a daily basis, and I hated it. I hated it because being a software engineer, I’ve always preferred to adorn myself in what my family has, for years, mockingly referred to as “programmer-wear”. Programmer-wear is, of course, based on a foundation of basic denim blue jeans. None of that fancy stuff mind you, no funky washes, name brands, or stuff with pre-made rips and/or tatters.
If I’m going to wear holey pants, by gum, you can bet I’ll be bringing my own holey.
Honestly, I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would pay extra for jeans that already faded or torn. They’re paying more for pants they’re going to get less use out of and I can’t see any way that that’s not just plain silly. Real jeans aren’t “broke-in” for about a year, in my estimation. At that point they’re soft and probably showing a little well-earned fray. Earn that fray on your own, dammit, don’t let a faceless machine in some factory in China earn it for you!
I’m sorry, is that my cheap showing?
So, anyway, we technical types wear jeans. It’s a rule; I’m sure it’s in the bylaws somewhere. Occasionally, you might see a pair of cargo pants or something else exceedingly casual, but denim is unquestionably king.
What else does programmer-wear entail? Casual shirts, of course. T-shirts and, when necessary, polo-type collars are the name of the game. Typically, you’re going to see a lot of wrinkle-free, low-maintenance type of stuff too. Technical people are, as rule, not often given to concerns about whether one’s shirt looks like it spent the night being slept on by a spasmodic cat. In fact, most of my people don’t own irons unless it came with a wife or girlfriend. Before I met the Puddinette, I had access to one only through my roommate and brother, who, as a school teacher, apparently was expected to wear respectable-looking attire.
That said, the t-shirt is the natural preference for programmer-wear, and the most widely accepted will fall into one of three categories: the faded concert tee, the promotional product tee, and the technical-mocking tee.
The technical-mocking tee is the favorite, of course, although the promotional tee is a close second. It’s usually given away as swag from some technical conference or by a vendor unaware that we’re largely too oblivious to be bought by something as subtle as a free shirt. The promo tee is huge, regardless of whether it comes with a penguin, apple or multicolored flag, because it means that someone somewhere thought we were important enough to give us gifts! Sadly, most of us never realize that it’s not so much our importance as it is our ability to dependably act as a walking billboard that makes the techie a good target for free stuff.
Everyone loves a good technical-mocking tee because they usually offer a form of clever derision, an inside joke, or some common piece of techie information largely unknown by people with actual social skills. My tribe delights in mocking people without their knowledge; passive aggressiveness is key to the survival of the species. Fine examples include shirts like this one, that one, or those with messages like, “There’s no place like 127.0.0.1″.
Odds are good, though, that if you participated in any physical contact with a member of the opposite sex at some point in high school, you don’t have any of these in your wardrobe.
Thankfully, I was granted a reprieve from the business casual dress code around the beginning of this year. It’s denim daily for me now, baby. Sadly, I’m not sporting t-shirts that publicly declare my stance on the contentious Han Solo Issue. But I’m ok with the collared polo, as long as it doesn’t develop the “flying nun”.
So why have I taken all this time to so clearly define exactly what “programmer-wear” means?
Christmas is coming, duh. And XXL is the universal size for nerds.
I work at a pretty cool place. As with anything else, of course, it’s not without the occasional challenge, but that’s beside the point. Today’s point is that it’s cool because everyone in my department gets a Blackberry, paid for by the company. In general, I like stuff I don’t have to pay for; gadgets that I don’t have to pay for are some of my favorite things on the planet.
A few of my coworkers, though, have, for various reasons, chosen to carry an additional, personal phone. At least three of them have iPhones. Now, no matter what Crackberry people try to tell you, the device simply does not compare with an iPhone in the areas of design and ease of use. The Blackberry is an incredibly useful tool; the iPhone, however, is a piece of technological art.
One night last week, disaster struck. One of the iPhoneys*lost the use of her favorite Apple device. I won’t go into details of exactly what happened beyond simply stating that there may have been a ker-splash. Since then, the poor girl has moped, whined, and complained daily about how horrible her life is without her precious lifeline to the greater online world.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of listening to it.
Every day, she tells me how she’s suddenly deaf, blind, and mute without her iPhone. No mobile facebook (gasp!). No email (egad!). No instant access to the internet (oh, the humanity!). I’ve tried and tried to tell her that the Blackberry she keeps on her desk, alone and forgotten, can do 90% of everything that her iPhone could do. Apparently, though, it’s not Apple. Worse than that, there’s no touchscreen, which means struggling with a trackball and physical keyboard like it’s some form of medieval torture device.
“What will it be for the prisoners today sir, The Rack, or Iron Maiden?”
“No, no, Igor, get me (ominous music) …the Blackberry!”
Yesterday, after complaining again that she was losing touch with all her friends because she couldn’t check facebook, I pulled off the proverbial padded gloves and told her to quit whining and just use the Blackberry’s Facebook app. You know, like the rest of the poor, iPhone-less schmucks do it.
She replied that I was dead to her.
Ok, so, I’m willing to admit that maybe I could be a tad more sympathetic. After all, I’ve lived in the modern world all my life. I barely remember what it was like without word processing software; I wouldn’t want someone telling me to wheel out the 1972 Smith Corona and get typing just because my Windows PC showed me the Blue Screen of Death.
Here’s the thing: there’s one
very personal reason that I’ve have no sympathetic capacity for someone living briefly without an iPhone.
I’m 17 shades of envious green over the office iPhoneys.
There, I said it. I want to be an Apple-ite. I want to worship at the altar of Steve Jobs. My car should sport some cool apple decals! I want an iPhone and an iPad and an iMac so badly I’ve considered offering one of the kids in trade at The Apple Store. I mean, I can make more of them and the Puddinette’s always wondering what it’d be like to have another baby anyway.**
I want to be able to sync with iTunes and get the App for that. Yes, sure, the Blackberry has apps. But not the really, really cool ones. And I want my mobile facebook experience to be cool, just like using it on a PC. The Blackberry app for facebook is clearly a red-headed step-child.
I want to be able to send text messages too. I can’t text, and it’s shameful. The company doesn’t pay for it. And no, I can’t pay for my own texting; I’ve asked. So while all the rest of the civilized world sends texts flying back and forth like tennis balls, I have to sit in the dark and wait for someone to shoot me an email…how quaint. Kids walking past me at the park ask their parents why that old-fashioned man is sending lame emails from his phone. Parents wisely shush them politely and hurry them past me, to get them away from the creepy man.
The Puddinette can text, and she refuses to learn how our remote control works.
My DAD can text.
So. There, I’ve come clean. I used to be the guy that would cheerfully drop unspecified wads of theoretical money for the newest, cool piece of technology. Along the way, I’ve somehow become a luddite who refuses to carry more than one gadget in my pocket and is too chea…chea…frugal to pay for the phone service I really want because there’s a perfectly good (free!) phone given to me by my gracious employer.
I think there must be some kind of mathematical formula where one’s willingness to spend foolishly declines as the number of his or her dependents rises. I bet there’s even a graph available to show me exactly how that proportion works out.
In fact, I bet there’s an app for that, too. Too bad that can’t help me out.
*I just decided this is a word. I will be using it frequently.
**just kidding. Mostly.
If you’ve seen Mundane Haiku #8, then you should have a pretty good idea of what I was doing last night instead of writing.
As a result, today was full of the (capital T) Tiredness. Yes, that’s me, with the being tired. All tuckered out. Sleepy even. I’m not talking the usual bone-deep fatigue that I get after playing an 11 PM hockey game, which hinders falling asleep until about 2 in the morning because I’m all jacked with the sports-related adrenaline. Instead, this is the kind of concentration sapping tired where you find yourself staring, all slack-jawed and drooly, at an illustration of Cookie Monster from one of your toddler’s board books. The kind of thing where you snap back to the real world, but can’t recall how long you’ve semi-catatonic and think the fuzzy blue guy might have been telling you to bake a batch of chocolate chips.
Or, maybe that was the kids asking for cookies.
I just realized that minus the part about the kids, the description of today’s brain-numbness is also a pretty accurate depiction of a hazy college dorm room a few hours before daylight on a Saturday morning.
See? I told you: randomness.
Being tired seems to completely rob my brain of the ability to process information analytically, while triggering weird, creative stuff. So, problem solving? Not so much. But the odds are good that after seeing a soccer mom in the mini-van beside me in traffic, I’ll instantly concoct some ludicrous back story about her being a lethal spy for the Egyptian government that goes by the codename “Granny Smith” and has a glass eye that’s a multi-purpose weapon and antibacterial gel dispenser.
Yes. Well. Ahem.
Like I said, though, the problem solving is hard when I can’t think clearly. So, tiredness is so good for creativity, not so good for doing other important things, like accomplishing stuff at work.
Luckily, I stuck with it and managed to figure a few things out today anyway. Coffee, it turns out, is exceptional at cutting through brain-fog. It’s an indispensable assistant when logic is required. That’s especially true of what I drink, an iced concoction that’s four shots of espresso and a few meager tablespoons water. It’ll clear out the cobwebs and put hair on your chest all at the same time.
All things considered, I don’t mind the occasional fuzzy-brain too much, except of course, what I said about work. Still, it’s good to have days where one’s imagination rules the roost. It’s something that, starting with puberty, most of us tend to shy away from and rarely return to later. That’s why I’m ecstatic to have written so much this year. I’m letting my mind wander about untethered and feeling very much like a kid again.
Which brings me to tonight’s assignment. It occurred to me that I’ve written no fiction for Puddintopia since I stopped posting updates for Thom (who’s become Tom, by the way, but that’s another post). This needs to be remedied! Therefore, I’d like to do something fiction-y this weekend. I want help, though. Since I’ve managed somehow to build a group of regular readers, I’d like to give you a chance to mess with me.
I want ten words. Nouns or verbs only, please, no adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, etc. Give me ten words, and I’ll try to weave them into something hopefully not craptastic. So be one of the first 10 people to post a single noun or verb in a comment below (and yes, anonymously is fine if you fear the Government Watchers) and I’ll use your word in the piece, as long as it has a common, accepted definition. Sorry, no Seuss words, this time.
The comments are open. Get your words in now!
I’m must be exhausted to try something this foolish.
Wait, was I saying something?
2 AM; working
project must be done by lunch
no rest for puddin
Sometimes, life conspires against you. Sometimes you’re looking for the simple route, but the only decent road you’ve got takes the long way. Sometimes, no matter how much you want to do the right thing, you get nothing but a kick in the face.
Obviously, I’m talking about lunch.
I had a bunch of work to do today and, as is common when that’s the case, I decided to work through lunch. Yes, I’m sure there’s a bunch of reasons that’s a bad idea: mental fatigue and burnout and all that. But when the rubber meets the road and you’re staring a project deadline in the face, you have to decide if you really want to tell your five year-old that you can’t read to her at bedtime because you have work to do. Do you want to carry that guilt around because you pissed an hour away at midday while reading the latest Kardashian gossip online* while stuffing your face at your desk?
And no, quickly recounting the E! Online headlines to you daughter framed as a bad princess story does not make it okay. Quit thinking that you can just tell her the cautionary tale of the Spoiled, Wicked Step-Sisters Famous for…um…Being Famous or Goldilocks and the Enchanted Ankle Sensor. How about we take the high road for once?
Indeed, my decision was an easy one; I would be working while I noshed. The problem then was that The Voice really wanted a sandwich. It often wants sandwiches, because sandwich makers are usually enabling enough to offer a plainly ridiculously size loaf of bread jammed with meat. As I said, it’s not often that I order a reasonably-sized sub.
Size considerations were irrelevant, though, because while I do have sandwich options for lunch, they all involve at least a fifteen minute drive. The idea was to spend the hour working, remember? Sadly, in the immediate vicinity of the office, the food options are limited. Truth is, I kind of work next to the ghetto. Not smack dab in the ghetto, thankfully, but near enough that I probably have better access to a variety of high-quality controlled substances than I do high-quality take-out.
Of course, there are a handful of fast-food options, yes. But I do my best to avoid fast food whenever possible. I’ve done plenty of damage to my body in the past 37 years; the last thing I need to do is feed it fast-food value meals that are the caloric equivalent of all the food consumed in an average third-world country today. Why yes, thank you, I’d love a half pound of high-fat meat on a bun and a trough of fries. Can I get that delivered to Sierra Leon? Sally Struthers asked me to help.
Also, did you not read about The Voice? The last thing I need to do is go into any establishment offering a Super-Size/Royal-It/ Embiggenate option. The Voice never saw an up-size it didn’t like.
So, my choices were thus limited to mediocre Chinese take-out or mediocre Chinese take-out.
Surprisingly, I went with the mediocre Chinese take-out. The hot and sour soup isn’t bad, if you can get past the sensation of injecting sodium directly into your bloodstream.
IF nothing else, the Chinese place is quick, at least; I was there and back at my desk in five minutes. Upon my return, as I began to eat and work, I was struck with two odd thoughts regarding my lunch:
- How is it that tiny little Chinese places have soup heated to nuclear-detonation temperatures? Every time I peel the lid off of one of those foggy plastic containers and slurp up that first spoon of hot and sour, the skin melts away from the roof of my mouth like those dudes in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I couldn’t make something at home that hot if I summoned every BTU available from my stove, oven, fireplace, gas-grill, and outdoor fire-pit and focused them into a single beam of Ultra-Mega-Jedi-Light-Saber Heat. Clearly, they must have a dragon keeping the soups warm in the back.
- Why must the people working in the kitchen at tiny Chinese restaurants scream constantly as if arguing? I used to think they were pissed at each other, permanently. Probably for having to work with a dragon. Nowadays, though, I think it’s just how things work. Kind of like how the waitress at the Waffle House has to be in exactly the right spot relative to the cook to call the hash brown order or the scattered, smothered, and chunked won’t come out right. Likewise, if the General Tsao’s isn’t ordered with a threatening tone, it somehow won’t be spicy.
Unfortunately, my mediocre Chinese take-out was less than outstanding. Shocking, I know. It might have gone a long way towards actually being mediocre, but I ordered the Chicken and Broccoli, extra spicy. It wasn’t spicy. It was just chicken with broccoli.
They must have been having polite day in the kitchen.
But at least I got to read to my kids before bed.
An old friend that I used to work with in the way-back time (before there was a Puddinette or clean laundry on a regular basis) sent me an email today with a brief message. I’m sure he probably would have preferred to send me a text message, but I can’t send or receive texts (and yes, that’s another post).
At any rate, his message was delivered succinctly in just the email’s subject line: “They are leveling the old office.”
The place was one of those connected office condo-complexes where you’d usually find a dentist, a general practitioner, maybe an ambulance chaser, a CPA or two, and a few small, eternally optimistic businesses that no one really understood but continued to struggle on in the face of lost sales and disappointment.
We worked for one of those.
My initial reaction was not that surprising. Fitting was my first thought, which was quickly followed by long overdue.
Unfortunately, the place had been mostly vacant for a long time, and really, it hadn’t been very nice since even before then. The offices inside were a depressing combination of dirty tans, and I’m pretty sure the carpet was original when Nixon was in office. It might have been plush back when I was in elementary school, but by the time I started working there, it was pretty threadbare. Familiar paths of discoloration were worn into it so well that they seemed like runners.
My friend and I referred to the décor as Early Brady Brunch because it was that dated. So, yes, the place was pretty much a dump, and it made no difference whatever you tried to do to spruce it up. It was just unspruceable. The doors squeaked, the screen doors were hopeless, and the toilets were a permanent shade of something I’d rather not describe. And apparently getting the building owners to even change light bulbs in the outside lights was much akin to herding a deaf wildebeest into an active volcano.
So, yes, long overdue.
Except, that wasn’t where my thoughts ended. On the heels of that was a twinge of melancholy, and that took me completely by surprise. The place had become an empty husk of an office complex that probably had more teenagers hanging on the grounds at night than tenants during the day. And, honestly, the last stages of working that job had been one of most unhappy experiences of my professional life. There was truly a sour taste in my mouth at the end, so I couldn’t believe I was feeling nostalgic.
But although Time can be a thief, it also heals and provides clarity. I see now that things happened the way they needed to and that nothing could have been done to prevent the end when it came. That particular ship had been sinking for so long that we’d all just learned to overlook the water we were up to our necks in.
On top of that, something else occurred to me. I spent years of my life working in that office, and they weren’t all frustrating. There were good times too, plenty of them. We’d play after-hours games of Quake, frequently, and the smack talk would get as thick as molasses. When the weather was nice, we’d grill brats and JTM burgers for lunch on a Coleman camp stove on the little porch outside. Sure, the porch was terrible, but a steaming bratwurst with a dab of horseradish and mustard makes you overlook a lot of faults.
I grew up a lot through all my time in that office. When I started there, I was a wet-behind-the-ears know-it-all in my early twenties. When the end finally came I was nearly thirty and a little wiser, but only wise enough to finally understand all that I didn’t know.
A demolition company leveled that office complex today, and frankly, it needed to be done. The physical structure is probably nothing more tonight than a pile of rubble and rebar, drywall and dust. But the place will always live on in my memories; memories of gladness and pain, success and failure. Mostly, they are the memories of the period in my life when I truly matured out of childish ways and into the first faltering steps of real adulthood beyond.
Some part of that dump of a building will always be with me. And it makes me glad to know it.
Yesterday afternoon, I told my co-workers that the family and I would be checking out another dog today. I promised them that if it worked out, I’d be sure to post a picture of the newest addition to our family.
We’ll get to that in a minute.
On Tuesday last week, the last day before school, the Puddinette took the kids to a local animal shelter to visit a new potential family friend. She always likes to do something fun on the infamous Last Day of Summer before School, and that certainly fit the bill. Who doesn’t enjoy going to meet loveable new doggies?
Somewhat to my surprise, the Puddinette sent me an instant message after the visit saying that the dog seemed great, and that she loved the kids and they seemed to like her. Having been on the lookout for a canine pal for a while and having had one or two seemingly good matches slip through our fingers because someone else got to ‘em first, I was afraid to do nothing. Losing out getting a new dog is only slightly less disappointing than seeing your outlandishly tall McDonald’s swirly ice-cream cone do a header onto the pavement.
But…it was Tuesday afternoon, and since I’m a software engineer that pretends to write rather than an actual writer, I work a normal day like a normal person. For those of you that aren’t aware, Animal Shelters have some extremely flexible, work-friendly hours. Well, they’re work-friendly if you’re a professional welfare recipient or you happen to work nights. I don’t really fall into any of those categories, so getting out there to meet that prospective pooch between 10 AM and 4:30 PM on a weekday just wasn’t feasible.
So I called them to drop a hold on her and said we’d be there Saturday morning so I could check her out. Based on what we’d seen so far, I was optimistic she might be the one but still felt the need to make sure she wasn’t the kind of animal that would rip your hand off if you try to take her bone away.
There’s only room enough from one food Voice in our house.
So we waited out the week, and I spent last night with the usual fantasy visions of a devoted mutt panting happily at my heel while the wind whips through my hair on a bright, warm spring day.
I was even going to promise to eat my broccoli.
So, anyway, I promised a picture. Here it is:
(Thanks to Disney for letting me link a picture of Pluto; I look forward to the cease and desist letter*.)
So what happened? Well, we arrived at the shelter, giddy with the prospect of taking home a new pet. We found our new friend in her cage, and she happily licked my fingers through the metal.
Ah, she’s cute.
I knew she’d show plenty of shine for the kids while inside the shelter, but that’s really only half the equation, especially with a dog purportedly with some beagle mixed-in. So we asked the staff to take her for walk outside since I wanted to see how she would react out there, as well as whether or not the older boys would be able to control her on a leash.
Now, I’d like to tell you that as soon as we got her outside, we spent an hour playing fetch and the kids ran back and forth across the yard with her until eventually everyone fell into a heap of giggling and tummy rubs.
Unfortunately, as soon as we got her outside, our new friend immediately lost interest in us completely. And I don’t just mean she start doing some sniffing around from the clump of weeds to a tree to the bush to the sidewalk. No, no. I mean we were instantly and totally forgotten; we might as well have been a heap of peas on a toddler’s dinner plate. That dog hit the yard and charged away from me so hard and fast that you’d have thought I was following her with a vet’s coat and a loaded hypodermic. She nearly pulled my arm off. My kids had no hope of controlling this animal.
I’m thinking she might do some fine work strapped to the Anheuser-Busch carriage, though.
At any rate, it took me about 16 seconds to realize that she just wasn’t the dog for us. Which was about 15 seconds longer than she needed to start making a run for the Mexican border. I can only assume she’s wanted in connection to drug trafficking.
Once we knew this wasn’t our girl, it took quite a bit of time to get her back inside without dragging the poor thing. I hope that whoever ends up adopting her has a good fence. A big fence. Tall. And strong. Otherwise they’re likely to find a basset-shaped hole in the side of it soon after they take her home.
So, anyway, today was not the day. Someday, we’ll find the right dog to share in our pandemonium.
For now, the quest continues.
*Just kidding, sweetheart. There’s no need to fear the Disney legal machine.
That post didn’t suck
How to follow it up well?
Haiku! *runs away*
It starts off simply enough; you innocently decide one day to start a family and sometime later you spend a few days in the hospital. When you leave, you have a wrinkled, helpless infant in tow and your life is changed in ways you can’t grasp, describe, or really even fathom.
And that’s just the beginning.
For reasons known only on a primal, conceptual level, you repeat the process until you’ve populated your home with as many rugrats as you can handle without a trip to Happy Acres Psychological Wellness Center.
And then they start to grow up.
You think the growing up is going to take forever. The minimum commitment, eighteen long years, seems a ridiculous amount of time. It’s so long that you don’t even have a frame of reference for it except for your own childhood and maybe an aging car that your grandfather started driving before you could form words.
And then you blink.
You wake up groggily one morning, closer to forty than you were to the drinking age when they handed you a driver’s license; closer to your retirement party than to the day some know-it-all kid with a face you barely remember (or recognize) was handed a Bachelor’s Degree with your name on it. You shower and shave, and go through the morning motions before walking the bulk of your family to the bus stop.
You watch with awe as your oldest steps up onto the bus without even a slight turn back. A seven year-old second-grader, he’s but a year removed from the third grade, which has always been the high-water mark in your head between a young kid and kid starting to find his own way. You suspect that’s because you learned to multiply in the third grade, and that’s officially the start of Serious Shit educationally, but a quiet, conspiratorial voice (you mostly hate) whispers that the kid on that bus is starting to find his own way already. Possibly just to spite you.
Your six-year boards next, asking his older, wiser, brother how far back on the bus he should sit. He’s a first grader now, a bona-fide real student, not like those part-time children whose grade is just a letter and have to sit in the seats with the butterfly-stickers near the front, by the driver. That fact that he gets to eat lunch at school, responsible for himself and his own tray, is the highlight of his day.
And then your five-year old daughter, your little nut-meg, who often forgets to take a breath when telling a story and is never at a loss for words, sneaks out of the bus line to steal one last hug from her Daddy before she takes her new pink backpack and her shiny new butterfly earrings (which match the school bus seat stickers!) out into the greater world without you. You think she’s going to be tearful, or at least somewhat hesitant to take that step without holding your hand.
It turns out that the only one tearful is you, and that you’re much more hesitant about her taking steps.
The bus fades away into the distance, and you shuffle back to the house with a camera full of pictures you aren’t sure you want to see just yet. And the house feels empty because there’s no one in it now but your wife and the only child not yet in school, a 23 month-old firecracker that’s happy to reply “Bear” when you ask him for his name.
You realize that the last time your house was this empty, you had barely taken but a couple of uncertain steps down the path to understanding what all of this would mean to your life. Then there was a blink of an eye, and now you finally see that the path isn’t half as long as you thought, and although you’re not even halfway there, the end is already rushing (much too fast) to meet you.
It’s a lot to process at 8 AM on a pleasant mid-August morning.
And it’s a lot to be proud of too.