(It) Feels So Good

When was the last time you felt angry? Sad? Hurt? Embarrassed? These images and emotions are easy to conjure. With very little effort, we can bring them back in our minds. Like cacti, they require minimal nourishment and still thrive. Also like cacti, they can be dangerous when handled. These feelings pierce us and cause us pain.

Now ask yourself another question: When was the last time you felt true joy?

On my way to work the other day, I pulled up to a stop light. The woman in the car next to me didn’t immediately register my presence. She was switching through the radio stations and, for just a moment as I pulled up and glanced over, I saw her face light up and her mouth drop open in unbridled happiness. I have no idea what she had stumbled upon. A favorite song maybe. A stand-up comic on a comedy station perhaps. Hearing her name being said in a news story possibly. Regardless of the cause, it was a second of pure joy. It emitted out of her like a lighthouse beacon. That light shone right into my own car. It actually made me feel better. And then it was gone just as quickly. Her eyes snapped slightly to her right and “reality” set in. She was not alone. Her face deadened and she started bobbing her head with only a hint of a smirk set on her lips. Nope. Flag on the play. Ten yards for exhibiting joy. No public displays of true happiness allowed.

I felt as though I had walked into a bathroom as a strange woman climbed out of the shower, unaware of someone else there. Her instantaneous withdrawal back into herself was like the yanking of a towel to cover her naked soul. It was surreal. And heartbreaking.

I’m left wondering at what point we stop allowing happiness to be all-consuming. Have you ever taken a two-year-old outside to blow bubbles or play in a sprinkler? Elation. Ever made a raspberry-fart on a baby’s belly? Jubilation. Look at the face of a seven-year-old on a bike, flying down the road at break-neck speeds with the wind tossing his hair. Revelry.

We are born with the capacity to experience joy in the simplest things. To be human is to be joyful. It’s only through our own shortcomings that we allow the world around us to take that away. Do bad things happen? Certainly. Is the world a stressful place? Absolutely. Does any of that matter? Only if we let it.

I’m working on opening myself to more unbridled joy. Last night, I made a taco salad that I’d anticipated for two days. I experienced what could only be described as ecstasy while eating it (the fact that I’d had a few cocktails prior should have no bearing). Saturday at work, I laughed with coworkers until I had tears in my eyes. I can’t even remember what we were laughing about, but I’m holding that feeling with me still today. While I drive to my daughter’s softball game tonight, I’m going to put the windows down and sing at the top of my lungs to whatever catches my fancy. Maybe I’ll inspire other car singers to put on their own concerts. Maybe they’ll do the same to even more. And that’s how it should be. When it comes to rapture, may it always be expansive.

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Seasons

While I sit here typing this, my daughter is in her room, listening to music. Although our generations have very different ideas on what constitutes “good” music, I forgive her because I recall vividly my own parents looking at me with a somber disappointment when wandering into my room while I had my own tunes cranked. Music is music. If it moves your soul somehow, it’s doing its job. I’m left wondering if any of the songs playing in her room will make it to her own life soundtrack. If the one I’m hearing this moment makes it, my daughter must have a future in rave clubs or Hindu prayer. I’m baffled. And kind of wish I had a glow stick right now.

Having said that, I introduce you to my Life Soundtrack, Volume 2:

Track 1: Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong by The Spin Doctors—Before you can drive, finding yourself in your older sibling’s car as a passenger is exciting. Factor in that sibling’s friends, and you aren’t simply riding to the store or another errand. You are taking a journey. You are peeking into the wonderful world of what will be. Taking a short trip out of town in the back of my sister’s white Ford Tempo, observing the interactions between her and her friends Chris (a drummer in a band) and Brian (the singer and a guitar player in the band…and the man who would become my brother in law many years later), I was overwhelmed. What that overwhelming sense was exactly, I couldn’t have told you at the time. As a grown man now, I realize that it was my first glimpse into the magnificence of those friendships we develop in our late teens and early twenties. Those friendships that incorporate our views on how the world affects us through the art around us. The Spin Doctors were thrown into the stereo and Chris went on a rant about how they were completely underrated when it came to their percussion. He slapped out the drum beat on the dash with reverence. Brian tossed out his own air drums while singing along in harmony with my sister. I had not known friendship of that kind yet. Nor was I sure that I would. That would come later. But for those three minutes and fifty seconds, I was involved in something special.

Track 2: Black by Pearl Jam—Most regular karaoke singers can tell you the first song they sang. Mine was included in Volume 1. Karaoke can be a blast when you’re out with friends. Drunken renditions of anything by mediocre or poor singers are the staple of karaoke. Having worked in karaoke bars for a little over a decade, I saw more than my share. I have advocated many times for the possession of special licenses being necessary to sing Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Adele, Whitney, and Journey. Many, many have tried. Most have failed. Horribly. But at least it gets the crowd smiling, even if it’s from overpowering uncomfortableness. On the other end of the spectrum are those singers who take part in competitions. I’ve competed myself. Karaoke competitions can be brutal. They are far from The Voice, but within the community of karaoke singers, there is a feeling of honor to be included on stage with other, incredible vocalists. And the Midwest is filled with those. Thus, when stepping into competition, it can be daunting. I never felt like one of the strongest singers in the group. Judges felt I was good enough to make it to the finals quite a few times, so I believe I’m decent at it. However, competing isn’t my strong suit. My stage presence is awkward, to put it very mildly. I never know where to look—At the judges? The crowd? Over their heads? The stage occasionally so I don’t fall off and die? The screen with words occasionally so I don’t forget where I was and then die? So, I cope with it by drinking a lot of the free beer in the green room prior to going on stage. Obviously, this is the best course of action. It has resulted in me usually making some inappropriate, sexually-connotated joke toward one of the male judges. Once, it resulted in me dropping to my knees for dramatic effect at the end of the song…only to realize there was another run of the chorus through which to make it…now on my knees. In short, I feel like I often fail miserably at the competitions. However, back in 2008, I performed Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett (which involved a lot of pacing back and forth drunkenly across the stage) followed by Pearl Jam’s Black (which many people told me not to do for competition) for round two. For whatever reason, a certain calm came over me as soon as I started singing and I stopped worrying about the judges, the crowd, stage presence, and even my vocals. I just sang. I let a song that I loved take over. I sang it for me. And I won first place. I’ve performed it more times than I can count since then. But I think of that song any time I feel I don’t belong, or I’m in over my head. My own little grunge rock version of “I’ma do me.” Even typing that out made me cringe.

Track 3: Heaven by Warrant—Yes, this dates me a bit. Shut up. In fairness, this song was released when I was ten. It didn’t come into my life significantly until I was thirteen, at which point it would go on to represent the loss of childhood as I knew it. Small town life meant that all the kids in school knew one another and options for romantic relationships were limited. Add a kid being overweight and obnoxious into the equation, and you have a boy who focuses most of his attention on his step-father’s stolen Playboy magazines and practicing how to kiss on My Pet Monster. I’m not proud. But those shared affairs with that furry, plastic-nosed, stuffed son of a bitch prepared me for my shining moment with Emily Corn. Granted, Sarah Dixon was my first kiss (and resulted in a mixed tape), but with Emily, I shared the dance. You know the one. That junior high dance at a home off school grounds. Young hormones were racing. I didn’t have much of a clue as to what to do with those racing hormones, but she didn’t seem to mind the slight poking against her thigh and I certainly didn’t mind that she didn’t mind. All I knew was that I could smell her perfume and her giant hair tickled my neck. And that there was no way I was going to pull away for a second in case she came to her senses. It was with Heaven playing in the background during my most-assuredly stellar slow dance moves that I had that real kiss. Emily, if you read this, I apologize. Your lack of giant, warty nose or elongated plastic teeth probably threw me for a curve. I can only hope you were cheating on your pillow or a random poster on your bedroom wall.

Track 4: Seasons by Chris Cornell—If you haven’t seen the film Singles, do yourself a favor and find it immediately. The storyline is incredible. The actors are brilliant. It’s a fun and heartfelt watch, especially for those in their twenties who are trying to “discover” themselves. The best part about the movie, though, is the phenomenal soundtrack. It encapsulates rock music of that time, especially the Seattle Sound. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam have cameos. Throughout the film, Cornell’s Seasons plays periodically. I was in high school when it was released. I didn’t find it until a couple years later. Despite not being in my twenties yet, it spoke volumes to me. Now in my thirties, that hasn’t changed. And Cornell’s brilliant chord structure and amazing vocals still punch me in the heart every time. The song is so well-written that it doesn’t take me back to a specific time or place in my mind. It takes me inside myself. This piece itself represents those seasons of change.

Track 5: Break on Through by The Doors—The 1960s marked a change in the climate of music. Even the Beatles took a turn. In 1967, The Doors attacked the music scene. Jim Morrison saw himself as a poet and the music was background to that poetry. Being well before my time, I didn’t discover The Doors until high school, when I read that a lot of my favorite current bands at the time had been influenced by them. The first song I found was Break on Through. It embraced the angst in me and gave validity to the questions I was asking about “what it all means.” Even the keyboard had the desperate urgency I felt about things I didn’t yet fully understand. It was listening to The Doors that I experimented a lot with hallucinogens in an effort to see the world differently. Whether it worked or not is up for debate. And I’ve chosen to avoid angst as much as possible now. But the music still reminds me to never stop trying to see the world through different eyes.

Track 6: While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles—Todd Griffin was the biggest Beatles fan I’d ever met, and my best friend in high school. While I was listening to both modern and classic rock, The Beatles had just been something I’d disregarded. I knew their stuff. She Loves You and Hold Your Hand just weren’t my bag. They were a little too pop for my taste. They were cute. And they didn’t have that poetry that I wanted. And, so, while riding in Todd’s car (his car, his music, was the rule), he put a cassette in (yes, a cassette) and I found myself listening to a beautiful tune. He’d thrown in The White Album by The Beatles. While My Guitar Gently Weeps blew me away. I’d been duped into enjoying a band I told him I wouldn’t ever like. That summer was spent with us cruising around after work, jamming out to The Beatles from their album Rubber Soul up to Abbey Road. Once, while sitting at a stop light, a couple in their forties pulled up next to us and told us that we were listening to some awesome music. Then we all sang along at the top of our lungs until the light turned green. It’s not often that teenagers blasting stereos at intersections have positive interactions with adults. The Beatles made the world a better place that day.

Track 7: The theme song from Wow, Wow, Wubzy—If you’re a parent, you have at least one of these awful song types stuck in your life soundtrack. This was a cartoon my daughter watched non-stop until the Care Bears snatched her attention during age two. In case you don’t know about Wubzy, he’s yellow with a high-pitched voice and a jagged tail on which he bounces from time to time. Think of a canary-colored rectangular Tigger on crystal meth who has not had the decency to go through puberty. Then give the little bastard a catchy theme song that still sneaks into your brain after a decade. I give you Wubzy. The unfortunate thing is that this annoying song, regardless of its ability to make me consider breaking my television years ago, makes me smile when it attacks my mind like an unwanted musical ninja. It conjures up images of my daughter in her pajamas squeezing up next to me on the couch after an afternoon of chasing bubbles and riding her tricycle outside. In the realm of songs that move your soul, this one is up at the top.

Track 8: Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin—I credit my love for Zeppelin to my step-father. When I was young, my relationship with The Step-Dad was typical. He wasn’t my father. He would never be my father. I would make it very clear to him that he was not wanted. This naturally led to us not being BFFs. I thought he was an asshole. He rightfully felt I was the same. Our interactions in my early youth consisted primarily of me being a prick and him punishing me for it. Every year for my birthday, he would buy me one of those small paddles with the elastic band coming out of the middle that attached to a rubber ball. A toy that no normal human being could figure out how to work properly without some contractual aid from Satan. Within a week or two, the elastic band would break. And now he had a new paddle with which to spank me when I was yet again doing something stupid. One day, while in the middle of a spanking I’m sure I deserved much more from, the flimsy paddle broke on my ample butt cheek. Like the moron I was, I laughed. He spent the next two hours in the garage carving The Mother of All Paddles. This thing was a beast. Taped handle. Holes drilled into the center for better aerodynamics. And I’m fairly sure it was partially forged from the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor. That was our relationship. I misbehaved and said horrible things to he and my mother. He responded by swatting me on the ass with Sauron’s Wrath. We had an understanding.

In high school, my mom found my weed and hitter in my pants pocket because delinquents are idiots who forget they also expect their mothers to wash their laundry. My step-father volunteered to drive me back to my dad’s house that evening. I slumped in the car, waiting for the lecture that I was going to dismiss. Instead, he broke the silence by telling me that he used to smoke a lot of pot back in his day and he just wanted me to be very careful about the weed I got. “People put all kinds of crap in it these days. Make sure you know what you’re smoking so you don’t end up with something dangerous.” He then went on to regale me with tales of pot-smoking from his early days. We laughed. We bonded. It was on that car ride that he became a person to me. This was parenting that you won’t find in any how-to books. But for me, it was real. Not long after that, I started pouring through some of his music. One of the first songs I found was Over the Hills and Far Away. I can’t listen to a Zeppelin song without thinking about the man who provided tough love and eventual openness to a kid who went out of his way to make it hard. Thank you, Gary.

 

What songs are part of your life soundtrack? Why? I’d love to hear them.

What A Girl Wants

If you have access to social media, you know that it’s a wonderful world full of opinions and memes. Granted, “you’re” is usually used incorrectly in the majority of the memes and the opinions are often regurgitated false-truths that haven’t been fact-checked. Welcome to the Internet. I allow my “grammar police” self a lot of leeway to turn away in this forum. Likewise, opinions…well we all know that old adage.

However, in the spirit of posteriors, orifices, and ownership rights, I’m going to give an opinion of my own. Straight women: Stop.

In the process of waiting on a table this week, one woman had shown up before the rest of her party. This should have been a simple process. I greet her. I take her drink order. I make the drink. I deliver the drink. Just as she ordered her beverage, though, I looked her in the face and thought, “Wow, she has beautiful eyes.” They were striking. So striking, in fact, that as soon as I got to the drink station, I realized I had no idea what she had ordered. Feeling like the idiot that I sometimes am, I laughingly told my coworkers around me about my predicament. What came next was unexpected. One coworker said, “You didn’t say that to her, did you?!” The other coworkers seemed equally concerned. As though telling a stranger that she had pretty eyes would be on the same level of asking if I could sniff her neck. I had not said anything and, after witnessing the horror on the faces of my fellow employees, decided I should probably never interact with a woman again.

I did what any server does in the forgotten-drink-order situation. I went back with a tray of the three basics: iced tea, water with lemon, and Diet Coke. I apologized for being an idiot, told her I couldn’t remember what she had ordered, and then jokingly played it off that I might or might not be drunk. I did all of this while avoiding eye contact as adamantly as one would avert the gaze of Medusa. Apparently, I don’t comprehend language when confronted with pretty eyes.

What bothered me more than looking like a fool was the reaction of my coworkers. No, I did not compliment a woman I did not know. But why would that be such a terrible thing? In my fascination, I asked coworker #1. She explained that it’s “creepy.” That the woman would already know that she had pretty eyes and didn’t “need” to hear it from me. That every “creep” out there probably compliments her all the time on those eyes. I then asked if I it was better for a guy to be an asshole and insult her. She told me no. That attractive women “just want to be left alone.” Maybe my coworkers are in the minority.

Here’s the problem: My social media feeds are filled with memes and famous quotes posted by attractive, straight women. The running theme consists of “queens” deserving to be treated as such by their “kings.” They say there are no good men out there. They complain about “f***boys” and idiots. And women are creating more and more of those “f***boys” every day.

I completely understand that hearing compliments on your attributes by slobs with neck tattoos and straight-billed caps turned sideways must get old. It must make you jaded. So focus on genuine compliments. Those delivered without the man licking his lips. Those not telling you how “fine” your ass or “tits” are. If men aren’t allowed to voice genuine compliments, they are forced to focus on apathy. Men who neither share nor care are deemed to be the very assholes women are supposedly trying to avoid. Enter the douchebags.

My friends Jordan and Rebekah are a happily married gay couple. I involved them in the Pretty Eyes debacle. They both seemed baffled. Who wouldn’t like hearing they have pretty eyes? They admitted that being a straight woman inundated with constant compliments by guys must be tough. But then they hit me with the real problem: Women know exactly what they don’t want, and no clue as to what they do want.

As a man with three sisters, and who has worked in the service industry for years, and who has social media, I have listened to countless women complain about their love lives or lack thereof. All those attributes about men that they can’t stand. Let’s break down the popular negatives:

  1. He’s an idiot
  2. He’s unemployed
  3. He’s too negative
  4. He lives with his parents
  5. He flirts with other women
  6. He’s unattractive or too short or too tall
  7. He has no sense of humor
  8. He’s too clingy
  9. He wouldn’t make a good parent
  10. He does drugs

These are all valid arguments against grown men when looking for a relationship. These items are on my own “red flag” list when considering women. But, if there is a negative list, turning it around would be a positive one, correct? Thus, you should know what you want.

  1. Intelligence
  2. Steady employment
  3. Positive outlook
  4. Supports himself
  5. Loyal
  6. Attractive
  7. Funny
  8. Confident
  9. Solid father
  10. Does not do drugs

That would seem to be a list of things straight women want from a man in a relationship. Certainly, some of the items might have stipulations. Steady employment at minimum wage makes it difficult to support oneself. Attractiveness is subject to interpretation. Confidence can spill over into outright conceit. There’s always a middle ground.

The point is that there are numerous men out there who fit these criteria. Where are they? They’re the guys to whom you bitch about other guys. So stop. Stop looking for “likes” on your female empowerment memes from women who perpetuate the cycle. Stop treating every man who wants to treat you well as though there is something wrong with him. Stop falling “more in love than you’ve ever been” every two months. Stop allowing men to ask you to “hang out” instead of taking you on a date. Stop telling men not to compliment the things about you they find captivating. Stop turning the good guys into the apathetic pricks you can’t stand.

And then start. Start realizing that having a door opened for you or a chair pulled out doesn’t mean he’s fake, but that he was raised a certain way. Start to understand that some men really are interested in how your day was. Start accepting that he might be mesmerized by your smile or your odd laugh. Start loving yourself enough to allow a good man into your life. Start being the woman who deserves better.

Secret Garden

I Was Hoping For A Pyramid.”

An epitaph inscribed on a tombstone in New York State. No name. No dates. Simply a single statement obviously decided upon by the witty individual buried in the ground beneath it.

I like this cat’s spirit. This is humor at its finest. Humor in the face of death. There are a lot of funny or biting epitaphs out there. Look them up. Some will make you smile. Some will make you cringe. This one happens to be my favorite. It is a clever acceptance of the triviality of our lives, even in how we leave them.

There is something alluring about cemeteries. They hold a certain power. As a child growing up in a small town, I spent more than a handful of nights walking the cemetery with friends. We weren’t vandalizing anything. We were there to play games like Flashlight Tag or Hide and Seek in the presence of fear and curiosity. We knew in our secret hearts that the place hinted at something we couldn’t quite grasp. For most of us, it was our first true exposure to mortality. And playing and laughing while surrounded by frightening and vague concepts gave a sense of immortality. Eventually, someone would hear a branch snap or the wind move something and the terror would kick in. Certainly, the dead were rising and taking us with them. Whoever had the misfortune of panicking first would be ridiculed by the other kids. We would team up to make more noises, hoping for a complete meltdown. What none of us ever acknowledged was that we were all just as scared as the first kid, but had each other and nervous laughter to give us courage. A million dollars says none of us would have ever stepped foot in that cemetery if we were alone.

Now that I’m a grown man (a term I use loosely), cemeteries hold a different reverence for me. I urge you to visit one sometime. I don’t mean on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day. Some random spring day in the middle of the week. A day where you might be the only one on the grounds. Take a walk. I recently visited two cemeteries in town. At the first, my grandparents are buried. But I pass both on the way to my daughter’s school. The second seems a little older and has exquisitely carved tombstones I’ve always admired. So, I figured I’d drop by. Take a walk. In both places, there is a lovely, solemn peace.

In the ground, just below my feet, were people. In those graves were individuals from every race, religion, creed, gender, political party affiliation, and social and economic background. Every one of them had a single common thread: They died. As will I. As will you. In the end, none of their differences mattered. In the end, nor will any of ours. Standing in the middle of a cemetery can provide an elegant understanding of connection. Our pasts lie around us. So do our futures. Ancestors have been there for generations. Someday (hopefully no time soon), I will join them. The same goes for my daughter’s grandchildren. The only thing that separates any of us is what we will bring to the world while we’re here, and what we will leave behind.

I still haven’t figured out what to contribute to the world while I’m here. Although, jokes involving foul language and genitalia are a strong front-runner. I like to think that distilleries making mediocre vodka are thankful for me. I do my part to keep them afloat.

Hopefully, this blog is my way of leaving something behind. In the realm of leaving a virtual footprint on the Internet, this is certainly a much better way of leaving an online trail than my other methods. When my daughter sees this someday, hopefully she’ll be proud. If she sees my other activity, hopefully she’s rich and can afford the therapy and surgical eye removal necessary. Seriously. I disgust myself sometimes.

As far as gravestones go, I ran across a couple that made me openly smile. Attached to one was a stone-carved seat, complete with a stone cowboy hat resting on the back. Family and friends can sit next to the deceased and look off to the west to watch the sun set together. Another gravestone was simply a bench with the last name across the top. It looked like it hadn’t been used in a long time. I almost sat down, but the workers mowing the lawn were already glancing more frequently at the guy moving from grave to grave who seemed entirely too comfortable to be in that place. My favorite gravestone, though, was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t a grand stone carving that towered above the others. In fact, it sat lower than most. The writing on the front of the white rock was small and difficult to read. However, the rest was easily visible. The stones formed a box. In that box were colorful flowers. The tombstone was a flower bed. In a place associated with death, someone used his or her grave to promote life.

I don’t know exactly what I hope to leave behind in this world. But the answer is in that gravestone somewhere.

Forever Young

If you insist on absolute organization, or have obsessive compulsions, I suggest you skip reading this. What I’m about to say will “trigger” you, as my daughter would say.

Depending on the day, if you’re in my home and walk from the bathroom to the living room, you can gain up to fifteen minutes of your life back. This is assuming you actually have no plans involving other people who happen to wear watches that work properly. Those people would simply tell you that you’re late. Fascists. What is the secret to time travel, you ask? It’s very simple. Step 1: Purchase battery-operated clocks on sale. Step 2: Keep those same clocks well past their primes.

You see, the clock in my bathroom, despite being set to the proper time, will eventually speed up over months. When I compare it to the time on my phone, it will often be five minutes fast. On the other hand, the clock in my living room likes to slow down. After a few months, it will be up to ten minutes behind. Thus, the hallway in my home is like my very own time machine.

A rational person might conclude that the timing mechanisms within those clocks are off. They might tell me that I should invest in new ones. The truth is, my clocks just get me. When I’m getting ready for work (rushing through the process of all the hygiene matters designed to eliminate stench for the sake of the general public), there is almost always a moment in which I look at the clock in my bathroom and realize I actually have five more minutes. What an incredible sense of relief. Likewise, when winding down before bed, I can conveniently forget that the clock in the living room is ten minutes slow. It buys me just a few more moments with the characters in whatever show I’m bingeing. Hope is not an abstract concept. It is very real and exists in my hallway.

Much like my clocks, we all perceive time differently on occasion. I recently replaced the registration sticker on my license plate. For that, I got to stand in line at the DMV. For two hours I listened to two women discuss with each other the times they were “locked up” while the young child of another woman kept spinning around the posts that were guiding the line and bumping into my legs. After acquiring my sticker and stepping outside, I realized I’d only been in there for twenty minutes. If you have or have had children, you’ve been to school programs. You know the ones. You sit on hard, metal chairs or bleachers with no backs. The elementary school band begins to play their seemingly seventeen-hour set in which the wind section squeaks and the percussionists play their drums to the beat of a different song. How many times do you look at your program sheet thinking, “We’re almost halfway there,” while ignoring the children to concentrate on your ass that fell asleep two songs ago? I’ve never left a school program and told myself that it went by surprisingly fast.

Of course, time is perceived in both directions. I don’t go out with my friends often. The whole “adulting” thing gets in the way. Work, my daughter, and this blog are where I spend most of my hours. When I do go out to have a few cocktails and enjoy the company of my friends, those hours turn into minutes. (One might blame this on the alcohol consumed, but I enjoy subgrade vodka at home as well and it does not speed up time when I’m on hold with internet tech support, although it does make me giggle out loud at the Tech with the Hindi accent named “Steve.”) Timehop on Facebook is another great way for me to realize that time is a fluid thing. Six years will have passed from when I posted a picture of my daughter that I remember taking as though it were yesterday.

I recall being in my teens and thinking of my twenties as some distant event. Now, at thirty-seven, I have come to the conclusion that teenage me was a presumptuous little jerk. Time is a fickle bitch. It has taken the hair from my head and tried to move it to my ears. It kidnapped my baby with that unbelievable natural smell at the top of her head and replaced her with a training-bra-wearing young lady who rolls her eyes in embarrassment whenever I dance (In fairness, my Cabbage Patch isn’t the strongest). It assassinated my metabolism. And when I attempt to combat the lowered metabolism with a vigorous workout, Time reminds me that I am not a spry young man who need not worry about pulling muscles in his butt cheeks.

So, I keep my cheap clocks and find myself walking up and down my hallway sometimes with a drink in my hand and a smile on my face. In that hallway, Time is mine to control. My own fifteen minutes of fame. Little victories.

In My Life

“Sometimes, you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” –Dr. Seuss

It’s fascinating to me how relevant a children’s author can be. This is a hand-written quote that I keep on the door of my fridge. My daughter brought it home from school during Dr. Seuss week. Like so many things she has brought home from school, I treat it like a treasure. Sure, I keep the graded papers for spelling tests on which she got above perfect scores with the additional bonus words. But the best treasures are those little pieces of art that make it back. Dried, creepy macaroni faces and collages. Paintings done entirely with her finger- or handprints. Beauty, creation, and miniscule parts of her weaving them together.

I’ve been looking at this Dr. Seuss quote a lot recently. In two days, my young daughter turns eleven. She will no longer be a little girl. She will have graduated to a pre-teen. I already see the changes happening with her taste in music and personality. Where I used to be the person to whom she felt most connected, her life is beginning to revolve around her friends and those things outside my house. I can accept it. But I want to write this so she might have a treasure of her own upon which she can look when she’s older. My memories. My valuable moments.

Dear Madison,

   About a year ago I found the pair of underwear you hid in your closet. You’d obviously sharted just a little in them. Out of embarrassment, you must have tucked them in the corner so I wouldn’t find them in the garbage. That was not my favorite surprise gift. However, like a gentleman, I simply washed them and put them back in your drawer. You learned a true life lesson. You once drew a picture that said, “Everyone poops.” Way to keep it one hundred. There’s a whole book dedicated to that idea. The book that you won’t find is “Everyone sharts.” Never be ashamed. I have a much more intimate relationship with your fecal matter than you’ll ever understand. You were a shaker and mover back in your day. More than once, during diaper changes, you kicked poo into my mouth. Every time, I thought, “I can’t wait until she is potty-trained.” Those few-minute increments we had, though, are sometimes missed. You don’t need me like that anymore.

When you were a baby, I’d get home from work late at night and your mother would hand you to me immediately. You’d often been up crying for hours. To say your mother looked good would be a horribly untrue statement. Beetlejuice was before your time, but google it one day. Your mother had that hair style down pat. She would go to lie down for sleep and it was my responsibility to calm you. At the time, coming home to a shrieking infant was less than ideal. I had to pace with you for a bit, your head by my shoulder, causing partial deafness in my ear. I’d thump your diaper firmly while bouncing you and whispering, “Shhhhh…,” over and again. Eventually, you’d stop wailing and we would curl up in the recliner and I’d sing to you while we rocked. Looking back, those were magical moments. You’d stare at me while we swayed in the chair and then you’d fall into a deep sleep. Completely content in my arms. I couldn’t tell you the last time you fell asleep on me. Now I watch you have that with the cats. You understand the power of those moments without even realizing it yet. You’re a great mom.

This morning, while I drove you to school, I interrupted Taylor Swift to bust out a few bars of The Muffin Man and Little Bunny Foo Foo. You looked at me with that face. While thinking about valuable moments, those two songs came to mind. We used to crank those bad boys in the car. The girl working the Dairy Queen drive-thru window got to witness a live concert years ago. You and I were in the moment. We were feeling some Muffin Man more than usual and we weren’t about to let that jam get away from us. Full voice. Heads bopping. We never even broke the poor girl’s gaze. You went with that glorious abandon right beside me. I hope we made her day. I know you made mine.

I can recognize the difference between Mozart and Beethoven only after countless hours of watching puppets move to their music on your Baby Einstein videos. I begged for the day that you would graduate to something different. Unfortunately, that graduation led to Thomas, Percy, Hiro, and all the other trains. Like any parent, I wondered how a child could be so enraptured by watching the same movie for the seven-millionth time. I didn’t fully grasp how incredible it was that you were loving something that much. Maybe it was jealousy. Now, when I pass Thomas and his friends in the toy aisle, I give a little nod. We might not be your first choice for entertainment anymore, but we know what it is to be loved unconditionally by you.

You still haven’t figured out the concept of closing your door when you’re changing. I have to make a conscious effort to not look anywhere in the direction of your room if I walk down the hallway to use the restroom. God forbid I see you in your underwear. You’re becoming a young lady who wears training bras now. I accept your aversion to letting boys see you in any state of undress. I expect you to remember this in high school and college as well. But there was a time when I had to dress you. I had it down to an art and there wasn’t a onesie out there that I couldn’t conquer. But what I wouldn’t give to go back for just one day and have those few minutes of dressing time. I might take my time instead of timing myself. During those instants, you would stare at my face and study me while I rambled on about what we were going to do that day. You might not have understood me, but you were an excellent listener.

You don’t ask if you can stay in my bed anymore. It was a battle when you were young. You used to sneak in early in the morning. Sometimes I’d make you go back to your room. Sometimes I’d pretend I didn’t notice so I could smile while fake-snoring. Now you have a full-size bed and prefer to sleep with the cats since they aren’t allowed in my bed. I get it. They’re cooler than me. But I still get to tuck you in for now. Occasionally, you won’t walk to your bed on your own and you make me pick you up and carry you. You’re not light anymore, but it’s worth it to get to carry you while you laugh. And I appreciate you fighting me when I try to kiss your ears. That little girl who giggles at my scruff still makes me smile. I’m happy she’s in there, if only for a very short time.

The point is that you’ve given me so many valuable moments. I wish I would have recognized some of them before they became memories. I look forward to making so many more with you as you become this amazing young lady.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!!

Between A Laugh And A Tear

My grandmother once took me to one of the Naked Gun movies for my birthday. We sat next to each other in the theater, eating popcorn and sharing a little bonding time. About halfway through, something glorious happened. My grandma laughed so hard that she peed her pants. Through guffaws and tears, she struggled to explain the situation. And then she started laughing even harder. It is the first real memory I have of finding another person’s misfortune so absolutely hilarious. In short, I blame my grandmother for my sick sense of humor.

As I’ve stated in previous pieces on this blog, I’m a crier. But almost equally, I am a laugher. You have video of a father getting hit in the genitalia by his child with any object at all? Why are we not watching that right now? You heard a filthy bar joke ten minutes ago? Why have ten minutes passed without you telling me this joke? You just saw a woman with toilet paper hanging out the back of her skirt? Point her out to me this instant. YouTube clips of cats lunging four feet in the air after being scared by cucumbers? Let’s do this.

I’m aware that most of these examples involve the stress or suffering of others (thanks, Grandma). But I am no sadist. I laugh at myself more than anyone else. Years ago, I was in my bathroom at home with my girlfriend at the time. The thought occurred to me that I should let out a massive fart in this wonderfully small space as a surprise for her. I looked coyly at her and said, “Hey, babe, I want to give you something.” With that prompt, I lifted one leg and pumped one fisted arm down like a semi-truck driver pulling the air horn. And I shit my pants. Not a little. It wasn’t a moment of, “Oh, I think a bit of moisture escaped.” I filled my sweat pants. It was like Pompeii. My face likely matched that of those poor villagers’ seconds after the eruption. My girlfriend’s eyes grew massive. Her mouth dropped open in the kind of smile only a toddler can make when being told he or she is going to Disneyworld. “Did you just shit your pants?!” There was a lot of gesturing and commanding on my part to get her out of the bathroom immediately. Through insane laughter, she kept telling me to turn around so she could see. Terror, tragedy, and the suffering of others. These make incredible comedy. And what do we do with comedy? We share it with others. Which is obviously why she was outside the bathroom door moments later on the phone with her mother, squealing delightfully about how her grown, idiot boyfriend had just defecated himself mid-prank. After I finished wiping my legs and taking a shower, I also joined in on the joviality.

What I love about laughter is that it is universal. It’s encoded into our DNA. It isn’t a learned behavior. Before babies can speak, they will laugh. Those individuals born blind and deaf? They also laugh. Regardless of race, religion, sex, or creed, every human being has the capacity for laughter. Better still, it’s unconscious. Genuine laughter can’t be replicated artificially. Try it. Ask someone to laugh for you. Anyone who has worked in the service industry will tell you how hard it is to laugh on cue. “Here’s your tip: Don’t eat yellow snow.” “I don’t need sweetener for my tea. I’m sweet enough as it is.” Or, as they finish the last bite of their food, “That was terrible. I guess you better bring me another meal.” Wink, wink. If you are guilty of any phrase resembling these, please stop. Just stop. We hate you.

I’ve done research on laughter. Disturbingly, a plethora of the research discusses tickling. I’m not sure what kind of creepy uncles are writing this research, but they do seem to be fairly well-educated. Research talks about the physiological aspects of laughing. How primates also laugh by way of panting or grunting.

The most intriguing thing I found about laughter, though, is that it’s contagious. This is why sitcoms have laugh tracks. When others laugh, we usually laugh ourselves. We do so because laughter, being universal, is a way for us to communicate as a social group. It puts everyone at ease and on the same page. That is part of the reason that some people find themselves laughing at funerals or other stressful events. They are making an unconscious attempt to settle a palpable situation.

I’m no politician and, despite how smashing I look in a two-piece bikini, I’ll never be Miss America. However, if anyone were to ever ask me about world peace, my answer would be “laughter.” It is the only language that all human beings speak and understand. Better yet, like a brilliant virus, it’s contagious. So, I make this promise here and now. Whenever the world calls on me, I vow to ruin any pair of pants I own. I’ll fill my diet with granola and Indian food if necessary. Like Gandhi, I’ll attempt to spread peace and harmony, but with more genitalia jokes and far less class. You’re welcome, world.

Ripple

There’s a founding concept of chaos theory that has been coined the “butterfly effect.” The term was coined by a Meteorology professor named Edward Lorenz who claimed that the simple flutter of a butterfly’s wings could ultimately cause a tornado. He came about this idea by plugging information into a computer program that was designed to predict weather patterns months in advance. The program took into account a number of variables such as wind speed and temperature. While repeating a simulation he’d run earlier, he decided to round off a variable to one one-thousandth of its actual number. This miniscule change in only one of a dozen variables altered the findings of the simulation drastically. Basically, it is impossible to predict the future because the tiniest event could alter the fabric of that future in ways we can’t even imagine.

Chaos theory fascinates me. The butterfly effect is a daunting prospect. Every individual action we take resonates across existence. No pressure. There are stories of people who were supposed to be on the planes or in the buildings on 9/11. Random, seemingly innocent events changed that. One woman stepped out of the World Trade Center tower for an unscheduled cigarette break only to look up and watch a plane destroy the floor she’d just left. One flight attendant made an error on her keyboard and was not able to be on flight 175 as she’d requested. That flight attendant is now a cardiac nurse. How many lives has she saved? How many of those lives will go on to create new lives? How many of those lives will be involved in curing cancer, feeding the hungry, or saving the lives of even more people?

I’ve had my own experiences with chaos theory. I once ate a cheeseburger from a certain fast food establishment that specializes in Hot Eats and Cool Treats. The pickles tasted funny, but I was hungover and hungry. What if I hadn’t had drinks the night before? What if I took two seconds to remove the pickles from the burger? What if I’d driven three minutes the other direction to eat Arby’s? The chaos that ensued a few hours later would not have happened. I was previously unaware that a person could evacuate all bodily fluids from both ends simultaneously. I was also unaware that I was religious enough pray for a quick death. If you tell yourself that my experience was not as life-changing as those survivors from 9/11, you’ve never had food poisoning.

I’m friends with a woman whose mother got pregnant with her at a young age. The grandmother insisted on an abortion. The mother backed out at the last minute and my friend is now a member of this world. She has children of her own. What will her children go on to do? How will her children’s children go on to affect the lives of thousands of others? In what ways will those thousands of others go on to shape existence because of their interactions with a few? I am by no means trying to (nor will I) get into a pro-life/pro-choice debate. I have no business as a human being telling anyone else what to do with his or her body. I only know for myself that I have laughed and had incredible conversations with a woman who was never supposed to exist.

Chaos theory is something with which I can really get on board. I embrace that nothing is set in stone. It suggests that every second is full of possibility. And I don’t have to go big to make an impact. I can hold a door. I can smile at a stranger. I can listen and ask questions to my daughter as she explains how hilarious the latest YouTube video from LDShadowlady was. I guess I had to be there. The point is that the smallest gestures can ripple through eternity.

A Facebook friend of mine posted a video a couple days ago that encapsulates the potential of these small gestures. This is the link to that video: https://youtu.be/jVyPq82Z1z0

I have no idea what my mark will be on this world. I have no idea if I’ll even leave one beyond the moment I stop breathing. What I do know is that I have infinite opportunities to do so. Bring on the chaos.

Do You Believe In Magic?

This piece was written originally two Christmases ago. I apologize to the handful of readers who have read this before. But I did say in my first piece on Of Vice And Zen that some of my old work would make its way onto this blog. Now it has a real title and a fun picture! As I sat down to write this week’s publication, I realized that I didn’t  have everything just the way I wanted it. Unlike my underwear and socks that will be put away days after I finished doing laundry, I want my writing to be completed wholly. In addition, I took my daughter to the doctor today (nothing serious), and experienced a moment that reminded me of this piece. She took control of the appointment, talking to the doctor in her own words. A helpless child was not standing in the room with me. I was in the company of a growing woman. It was a breath-taking and humbling moment. So, without further ado (I’ve always wanted to have a reason to say that)…

“How does that train not wake up his parents?”

This is heavy stuff. A question posed to me by my nine year old daughter while we decorate the Christmas tree and watch The Polar Express. This question inevitably leads to awkward answers we parents have to carefully supply to maintain the illusion of magic. Answers that often only lead to more questions and more awkward answers. Which then lead to more questions. I think I handled it like a pro. Vague, calculated responses that made me think a future in politics could be lucrative, assuming I actually knew anything about current events outside of my newsfeed. Don’t get me wrong; I would unfortunately rock any discussion concerning the status of the Kardashians or wildly inappropriate memes, but I’m not sure that knowledge would effectively run a country.

Regardless, I digress. What this random question triggered in me was a line of thought that brought a sadness. I came to the realization that this might be the last year this beautiful young lady believes in Santa. The rumors have already begun in her class. They revolve around rational thoughts leading to suspicions that their parents might very well be horrible liars who have manipulated them into being good (at least for the last couple months) by threatening the disappointment and passive aggressive wrath of a bearded fat man who spends an absorbent amount of time playing with toys and tiny slave workers.

Sadly, once the myth of Santa falters, soon follows the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the understanding that spinach can make one strong like Popeye, and the acceptance that Dad really did make that quarter disappear behind the ear. There goes the magic. I thought about this with immense disappointment. The passing from being a child of wonder to a person of skepticism.  But is that really the case? Not necessarily.

I smiled while I watched her put the last few ornaments on the tree. She has so many more moments of magic ahead of her. Are these moments about mythical people or creatures? No. But they will be no less powerful. They require an amazing recipe of hope, faith, joy, and unbridled belief in something bigger and far more mysterious in the world. I’ll touch on some of them. Feel free to add to the list your own magical moments post-fairy tale apocalypse.

  1. Although she’s already begun on a beginner level, she will discover her ability to cook, I mean really cook, her own dinner. Just a first step in becoming her own person who does not need to rely on Dad or Mom to provide sustenance. Small step? Perhaps, but there will come a moment when that kitchen will cease to be a bunch of cabinets and instead will have evolved into a playground of self-importance. How the magic will shine when I first taste one of the worst breakfasts I’ve ever had while smiling and nodding. Maybe I’ll go all out and do the whole circular belly rub to really drill the point home.
  2. As a father, I try to avoid thoughts of boys being in her life. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I suspect that she is beginning to realize that boys do not, in fact, have cooties. And someday, far before I’m ready, she’s going to find her first crush. The boy she draws hearts for. She’ll put his name inside that heart along with her own and a mathematical symbol. I would prefer the symbol be subtraction, but I don’t believe I’ve attended enough church in my life for that particular prayer to come true. That time, that first crush, is nothing short of magical. You and I, we each had one. Who was yours?
  3. The first real friends-date with no parents. Often, this is a time for a movie. She and her girlfriends will go to whatever awful movie is all the hype in the theater at the time. I like to think I raised her better and that she’d force them to appreciate Star Wars: Episode Nine, but those little teens are persuasive. However, the movie itself is pointless. This date is not about watching a movie. It is about freedom from those pesky parents. She will feel like a trusted and independent member of society. She need not know that Dad will probably be a block away with binoculars.
  4. If she’s anything like her father, she will explore the boundaries of the English language. I’m not referring to those words with multiple syllables. No. Those four letter words that often require random asterisks in written form so my grandmother doesn’t have a stroke while simultaneously shaking her head and planning an extra visit to church to pray for her grandson’s eternal soul. Those words have power. Using those words for the first time is to control the universe. Friends may ogle in surprise. Strangers who overhear them will look away in disgust (especially if they’re wonderful ladies like my grandmother). Parents will immediately become war-time torturers and interrogators at their mention. “I’ll take the soap out of your mouth as soon as you tell me who taught you that word!” Certainly, she won’t have learned it from Dad. Those words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and even entire sentences if used properly. Make me proud, baby girl, as soon you turn eighty and I’m gone.
  5. I will hold her arm as she walks stoically down an aisle surrounded by friends and family. She will look up and see the man she loves take a breath and wipe away a tear while he gazes at her. They will both say some things before he hugs her tightly. There will be no kissing at my daughter’s wedding. That day, that moment will make her believe in fairy tales again.
  6. A doctor or nurse will someday place a child on her chest. This child will have been conceived in a way that my church-going grandmother will understand better than me, as my daughter will have never so much as kissed her husband. But that child, that new life, will be a greater present than any given by ole Kris Kringle. Faith, joy, fear, hope, love. These are the center of magic.
  7. My daughter will decorate a tree with that child, much older now. She will talk about Santa and write his name on gift tags after the child goes to sleep. She will bake cookies and put them out on the coffee table to be eaten by herself (throwing them away would be both a waste and a dangerous breach of security should the child check the garbage in the morning). Diet be damned. Most importantly, she will again know the wonder of the mythical man who brought her so much joy in her youth, this time from a different viewpoint.

Yes, I left certain moments out. I did this for two reasons. First, as I said, you should fill in your own. Secondly, some moments are not meant for a father to recognize due to his daughter’s lack of anything resembling romance, and the fact that all men in her life will be eunuchs.

I don’t know much, but I know this: I will hold onto the childhood magic as long as I can. However, when it goes, I won’t be sad. Look at this life, baby girl. Look closely. Pick a card. Any card.

Love Song For No One

I slept like a baby last night. I mean that in the realistic sense. I tossed and turned. I woke up every couple of hours. I sweat. Random, nonsensical images kept flashing through my mind. And at one point, I thought I was going to shit myself. It turns out, if you want to sleep like a baby, have a late-night meal of Ramen noodles, an apple, and Very Berry Cheerios. It’s the perfect storm.

I often eat late at night. Half the week, I don’t get off work until about 10pm. The other half, I work the lunch shift and can’t eat until I get home. Thus, late night meals hold me over until after work. I know. Eating late is terribly unhealthy. As is smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka. Next thing you know, they’ll be saying that heroin and unprotected sex with prostitutes is dangerous. It was the knowledge that late-night eating is unhealthy that prompted me to throw together this “more healthy” combination. I was proud of myself that my meal didn’t consist of most of an entire pizza. My whole being disagreed.

What I needed at the moment of culinary decision-making was a significant other. A grown woman to tell me that grown men have no business eating like that. My daughter is no help. She’s ten, and would consider the prospect of the Ramen/apple/cereal entrée to be a delicacy. I would explain to her that those things do not make up a real meal and force her to dine on something of substance. Pot. Kettle. May we discuss color schemes?

And so, I’m back to the thought that has plagued me a lot recently. I should start dating again. It seems like a simple enough concept. You go out. You meet people. You take said people out on dates and discover whether or not the two of you connect. You get to have sex that doesn’t involve your laptop or smart phone. You have someone to talk to about your day. You have someone to smack the Cheerios out of your hand at midnight.

The problem is that dating sucks. It wasn’t bad for me in my twenties. I was bartending in a karaoke bar. I dated a lot of women from there. I met my daughter’s mother in that bar. I was in an environment designed for people to meet others my age at that time. Now, I’m 37 years old. Spending time in bars just makes me feel ancient. If you’re in a bar with a shaved head and a goatee, and you aren’t the bouncer, you’re out of place. Hip hop and rap play so loudly that I can’t have a conversation. Despite my claims, I’m not actually much of twerker. My balance, especially after vodka, is not ideal for dry-humping on a dance floor. I’ve heard it said that how a man dances is the equivalent of how he is in bed. If that’s the case, I am so, so sorry to any woman with whom I’ve had sex. That must have been an uncomfortable, awkward experience. Like dancing The Robot, but with a robot that has epilepsy.

The wonderful world of dating has changed a lot over the last decade.  The Internet has taken over. I tried my hand at it. I downloaded dating apps. Those work wonders, from what I understand, if you live in a large city. I do not. Instead, I am forced to read the profiles of women to whom I used to serve drinks regularly. The pictures always look amazing. Their profiles are meticulously written and sound intelligent and interesting. But I’ve seen how they carry themselves after shot number three. And I’ve listened to them carry on conversations at my bar. Sorry, sweetheart, your profile isn’t exactly accurate. How is it that every woman in the world loves sports and is an adrenaline junkie these days? I couldn’t care less if I never see any type of game on TV. And there is no way in hell you will ever find me jumping out of an airplane thousands of feet in the air. I haven’t attended enough church in my life to have that kind of faith. Oh, you’re not looking for a hookup? I should swipe left? Perhaps you should respond to different and interesting questions from a guy who isn’t immediately sending unsolicited pics of his junk. I’m classy. I save that until at least conversation number three.

Online dating doesn’t allow me to gauge a woman the way I need to in order to find out if I actually like her. I need to hear her inflection and tone. I need to listen to her words without autocorrect fixing her grammar. I need to see a genuine smile break out on her face instead of the one from selfie number 27. I need personalization. And here lies the problem: I don’t bring random women around my daughter. Considering that I have her three days a week, we’re down to four. I work evenings three of those four. That leaves Monday. Monday is the one day I neither work nor have my daughter after I drop her at school. I’ve been trying to start a movement in which Monday is the new Friday. It hasn’t caught on.

I briefly considered attending church just to try to meet a nice woman. Considering I’m not religious, I would feel like the guy trolling maternity wards just to find loose women. Just because the probability is high doesn’t mean you should do it. That was a joke. Take it easy, angry new mother. Likewise, approaching a woman with a flirty look on your face in the baby aisle at the grocery store might seem like a good idea. However, if you don’t preface “Those diapers are the best,” with “I have a daughter and I tried numerous brands,” the woman will assume you have digestive issues or a weird fetish. You know what? Just never approach a woman with a flirty look around any baby items of any kind. Scratch that. If you’re me, never approach any woman with a flirty look, period. I can’t pull it off. I look a little rapey.

Then there is the issue of being a 37 year old single father. I would like to have another child someday. Women my age are generally done having kids. Which pushes me toward women in their twenties. Until I try to talk about life with them and realize I could have legally driven them to kindergarten. Nope. So, I’m pushed back to “age appropriate” women. The type of women my friends tell me I should date. Women in their thirties usually have children of their own. If they don’t, they seem to have a problem with my relationship with my daughter’s mom. We get along well. Although a relationship for us wasn’t in the cards, we created a phenomenal young girl that has us connected for the rest of our lives. We both understand that and remain friends. She’s married now to a great guy. I attended their wedding. I love that my daughter can see us talk and laugh together. Girlfriends without kids, on the other hand, see the “baby mama” as an ex-girlfriend instead of the mother of my daughter. The two of us being friends has created issues. My last girlfriend actually ended our relationship because I wished Madison’s mom a Happy Mother’s Day on Facebook. Social media strikes again. Apparently, the problem was that my girlfriend was supposed to be the “woman in my life” and I should have tagged her in a post on Mother’s Day. Of course, my girlfriend had no children. I suppose I could have tagged her in a post about her soon-to-be barren ovaries, but I think the tone would have been wrong. I wish she was the only one. That was the second time a woman in her thirties took issue with Baby Mama.

So, I’m looking at women my age who have children of their own. This involves scheduling around all the children and shifts at work. Those without restraining orders on crazy exes would be ideal, but I’m a realist. In addition, I expect the children to be well-behaved, as that is how I raised my own daughter. I would like this woman to be intelligent, hilarious, attractive, and sane.

Holy shit. I’m going to die alone.