My happy place doesn’t involve little people, grammas or blondes in lingerie

image I envy people with good children like I envy the obscenely rich and their crack-addict washboard abs. That is to say that, I would probably smoke crack (do you smoke it?) if it meant I could have abs like the stars. Which means, there’s little I probably wouldn’t do to have kids that minded me, that didn’t throw fits if they couldn’t watch Scooby Doo at 6 a.m.; that didn’t scream and wail in the car seat after an hour, and who didn’t sulk like I just tanned their hides with daddy’s narrow leather belt each time we tried to get them to go to church where we hope to both introduce them to other “Godlike” children and perhaps get a little Jesus in the process. I dunno, lofty goals perhaps.

It’s no secret that I feel that raising children is something best left for the likes of Mother Teresa, or perhaps even Gandhi (that is, if Gandhi hadn’t lived in abject poverty), who seem capable of meeting even the most vile of situations with an outward calm that–I personally believe–likely hid an inner desire to pick up a stick and beat the crap out of the other person. But they LOOKED calm and that’s what matters.

Anyway, CareerMom and I, until this past year, have been the only ones of her six other brothers and sisters who have reared boys. Everyone else–girls. And while yes, there was drama, there was never any of the problems we’ve lived through. For instance, remember the Infamous beach vacation of ’07 (Part 1 and Part 2), well, while everyone else was upstairs with their darling little girls having a grand old time, we were downstairs with two exhausted boys, including one baby who wouldn’t stay asleep for more than 15 minutes at a time–each time waking up and screaming at the top of his lungs.

The other siblings, and to a large part even both CareerMom and my parents, have never understood our reluctance to travel. They don’t live through the sleepless nights, the miserable car trips, etc., that we go through each time just to make someone else happy. (On a sidenote, I have since learned to not give a rat’s butt what anyone else wants. If I don’t want to go, I don’t go. CareerMom is optional. Life is too short to be miserable.)

This all changed with the birth of a boy to CareerMom’s  next oldest sister. She had a boy. And not just any boy..a HOSS of a boy. In the past year CareerMom and I have sat back and grinned as her sister has regaled the family with his latest exploits and most recently, when her family took a trip to South Carolina, I couldn’t wait to copy CareerMom on her sister’s FaceBook update that said,

“…just stopped at a random park in NC to give the kids a break from the car…we got to take a miniature train ride!”

This may seem minute to you, but I also happen to know that he’d been cranky in the car a good bit of the trip, so for them to stop…well, that’s just a little bit of Gold in my book!

Shall I apologize for finding solace in another’s misery? Should I feel bad that someone else is finally understanding–even if just a wee bit–what CareerMom and I have been trying to explain to others for five years? Maybe so, but I won’t!

And here in just two short months, we’ll have a little girl around the house and I PRAY, OH Dear Lord, I PRAY, that we get one of those darling little sleepers and not another personality like the last two. I’m not sure I can take another six months of colic!

It’s feelin’ just a little bit like Office Space around here these days

When I was eight and playing pine-cone wars with my buds back in Lower Alabama (LA), I never would have dreamed that one day, I’d be doing what I do, or that I’d do some of the things that I’ve done in my life; like working in the DoD and…yeah, that’s pretty much it for the cool stuff.

But also, growing up, I never would have thought I’d end up married to a woman who works full time and we’d be putting our kids in a daycare to be raised by perfect strangers.

I’m not sure where I thought my life would take me, but I’m sure it wasn’t a house in the burbs of Atlanta and exotic family vacations to…the beach.

Looking back, it’s amazing how far off I’ve drifted from “The Plan.” Granted, I didn’t have much of a plan, but I had dreams man! I was gonna do things! I’m not sure what, but THINGS!

I had ambition too. Money…oh! I always wanted to make lots of money, but that was just Alex P. Keaton talking and truthfully, I never completely got that out of my system.

But it’s funny how time changes you isn’t it? The things that you thought were important to you then, are now just footnotes at the bottom of the page, “***Chris was going to do so and so, but then kids came along…”

For the most part, I don’t have regrets. I mean, I did things. Sure, maybe I didn’t travel the world, but knowing what I know now about hygiene and bathrooms in other countries, I’m not so sure it was a loss. But, there is one thing that has changed about me though and perhaps it’s the most surprising since it’s really the one thing that I could still have–the one thing that my life hasn’t thrown up a bar against–ambition!

Do you remember when you started your first REAL job? Do you remember being on the bottom of the totem pole and just grinding your teeth every day and thinking to yourself, “Just wait, one day I’ll be the boss, you just wait and see.” I had that once. I still do–sorta–but now it comes with conditions, such as:but it now comes with conditions. Such as:

  • I want to be the boss, AND still be able to walk away from work at the end of the day without having to spend hours upon hours checking e-mail in the wee hours of the night while my family sleeps
  • I want the money, but I don’t want to spend all my time in useless meetings talking about “high level overviews” and “program guidance.”
  • I want the vacation house and all the perks, but I don’t want to have to have an “office” at my vacation house so I can stay in touch with work

Basically, I want my cake, and of course I want to eat it. What else would you do with cake?

So I find myself at war with…myself…over work. As it is with most companies, at my job, I’m expected to constantly grow in my career. I’m supposed to WANT to get out and get involved in new things, which inevitably means adding more work onto my existing work load, which screws with my aforementioned “wants.” It’s expected that I want to climb the corporate ladder and I do; no really I do. I just don’t want all that other crap that comes with it.

To put it plainly, I’ve lost my ambition. Maybe that’s not quite right, I still have my ambition, but I don’t want all the strings that seem to come attached with it. Does that make sense?

Sometimes I look at my mom up in rural PA and think, “Dang, that’s the life. It’s simple and it’s beautiful up there, and she doesn’t have a care in the world (as she snorts loudly while reading this).”  But then, I realize that it too has its problems. Everyone’s life has its problems…we all just hide it behind happy faces and platitudes. Man, what a crappy way to go through life. I’m really working on this whole acceptance thing. Hey, don’t sugar coat it–I’m not getting any younger and the things that I dreamt of as a young man, are by and large never gonna happen if they haven’t happened yet, so I just need to suck it up and “accept” that things are the way they are and try to make the best of it.

(This sounds like a mid-life crisis I know.)

It can’t be just me right? Did you have a Plan? Have you accomplished it? If not, why? I’m curious how many people’s lives actually worked out the way they thought it would.

Let them eat Cake!

image It’s June in Alabama–about 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. It’s already pretty hot. School is out for the summer and my mom has told me to get out of the house and not come back till lunch, which will probably be something disgusting like tomatoes and rice, with hot dogs cut up inside. Ugh! Liver is worse though, so I won’t complain.

I turned eight this year. Our neighborhood is big, but it’s quiet. Plus, I know every nook and cranny of every street and drainage ditch within a square mile, so nobody really worries about me being outside on my own. I’m riding my reconditioned BMX knock-off bike with the yellow knobby tires around the neighborhood in hopes that one of my friends, or even one of the kids that I don’t really consider my friend, will notice me and come out and play.

Dangling from my right handlebar is my portable transistor radio. The sound is crap, but it’s small and it’ll run forever on a 9V battery. I have the “American Top 40” on with Casey Casem, and Kim Carnes is scratching out “Betty Davis Eyes,” which is number two on the charts right now. Truth be told, I kinda have the hots for Kim, even though I don’t know what she looks like. Later, I’d also have a crush on Kathleen Turner, which probably means that I have a thing for women who smoke, but I don’t really think like that yet. Course…my best friend’s sister is pretty hot and she doesn’t smoke. Her name is Shea. She smells really good. My mom won’t let me go in their house when I’m playing with her brother Chad, but I do anyway and just don’t tell her. Sometimes I get to see Shea and she says Hi to me. I don’t really know what to say around her though. She makes me nervous. Yet another recurring theme throughout my life.

It’s quiet around the house these days. My brother is gone. He’s done some pretty terrible things and though I’m not completely clear on either his motives, or where he’s gone as a result, I know it’s not good. Mom and dad won’t talk about it and if anyone else brings it up, any future conversation is quickly squelched with an almost insignificant shake of the head. They don’t think I notice, but I do. Mom especially thinks I don’t notice a lot of things. For instance, I know money is really tight right now. A month ago, for my birthday, all I got was a baseball bat and a coloring book. A COLORING book. How old do I look? But, I know money is tight with dad having to work contract jobs so I didn’t say anything. I pretended like it was a great birthday. But it wasn’t. It sucked.

I kind of miss Robert–or Bobby as some in the family call him. He likes “Robert” so that’s what I call him. He’s an OK brother I guess. I mean, he’s kinda mean to me and stuff, but he’s also pretty cool. Like, when we play boxing with the yellow and orange inflatable gloves, he lets me really wail on him. He always beats me at games though and I think he cheats but I can never prove it. I also think he steals all my Halloween candy no matter how well I hide it. This year, I pulled the top off my drum and hid the candy in there, but it’s still disappearing–just like my wallet and all my money. I really gotta get better at not losing things.

But even if he were here, he’d probably be off doing something else, so I’d probably still be riding my bike around. Today is his birthday. I wonder if he’ll get any presents wherever he is? I doubt it. Do you get presents at those camps for bad teenagers? Maybe he’ll get some ice cream or something.

What? “Endless Love” is number one? That’s such a crap-song! Mom likes it, but I don’t get it.

Hey look! There’s Michael and Steven. They aren’t my favorite kids to play with. One time, one of them pooped in his pants and then reached in and threw some at me. He missed. But they do have some really cool Star Wars toys. I guess they’ll do. Later!

Oh, Happy Birthday Robert–wherever you are.