More Complicated?

Was Christmas less complicated when we were kids?  I mean pretty much all you did was agonizingly count down the days before Christmas Break, watch the Bob Hope Christmas Special and wait for Santa to deliver the loot.  Now it seems we either get overwhelmed or it sneaks up on us.  Although to be honest, if Christmas sneaks up on you there is really no one to blame but yourself.  C’mon the decorations are up in October.  It’s not like Christmas arrives all stealthy.  The songs have been on the radio since before Thanksgiving and the decorations are up in all the stores minutes after Halloween is over.

I think what really happens is we let it overwhelm us.  Every year we vow to shop earlier, get the Christmas cards done over Thanksgiving and to help Mom wrap the presents.  Well, that last part is a complete falsehood.  I’ve never done that.  I stick the labels on the gifts.  That is extent to which Mom trusts my wrapping skills.  I’m a strong proponent of the widespread use of gift bags.

Now I’m must spitballin’ here but I’m pretty sure my appreciation for gift bag usage is based in the Christmas story.  And I’m not talking about the 1983 movie in which Ralphie told us, “”Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”  No, I’m talking about the traditional telling of the actual Christmas story…updated for levity during this busy time of year.

Feel free to let me know if you remember it a bit differently.

According to yuletide folklore, Mary and Joseph traveled a long way to Bethlehem, inadvertently obligating couples from thenceforth to the customary holiday journey to visit family and friends while dealing with delayed flights, snowy roads and impatient whining children.  Or, depending on your current parental situation, know-it-all, eye-rolling teenagers.  Nary a mention of wrapping gifts.  Also no condemnation of the rampant use of gift bags in place of traditional wrapping.  Go back and look.  Pretty sure the Biblical scholars are going to back me up on this.   Mary made a list of what they needed and Joseph stupidly viewed the list as suggestions and instead only brought egg nog, chips and a list of where all the rest areas were located.  Thankfully he was smart enough to observe a star in the sky which guided them to the Inn where they were told their reservations had somehow been lost and had been “upgraded” to the stable.

Anyway, Mary and Joseph, settled in next to the manger in which they placed the baby Jesus.  Next to the manager was a small conifer.  In this case, a fir.  Possibly a spruce.  Biblical arborists disagree.  Regardless, Joseph, having driven the cart all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, suggested that they just put all Christmas gifts for family and friends in gift bags.  After all it would be quicker and the important thing is the gift not the wrapping paper.

Thankfully, the three Wise Men also saw the star and began their trek to see the baby Jesus.  Lesser known is the story of the Wise Men.  They saw a star and began a trek to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.  This, of course, began the age-old practice of dudes everywhere driving aimlessly through mall parking lots searching for open spots whilst their wives and girlfriends incessantly sent them pics asking which gifts they should buy.  Unbeknownst to them at the time, the three Wise Men doomed husbands and boyfriends throughout the ages to consistent criticism for the gift decisions because of their weird gifts choice of gold, frankincense and myrrh .  Maybe some 0-6 month onesies or some diapers?  Or even a gift card to Rock Bottom for Mary and Joseph would’ve been nice.  I mean they are going to want to get out of the stable for a few hours here and there.

Anyway, key thing to remember is the story does not include anything about:  1) wrapping gifts, and 2) saving Christmas cookies for some unnamed post-holiday reason.

So, feel free to use gifts bags for any type of gift and don’t worry about saving any Christmas cookies for later.  Nobody makes New Year’s cookies…unless they help with hangovers…

 

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So I have a question…

When is it appropriate to call a meeting with a high school teacher and how is it done as to avoid any negative blowback on the student in question?

High school is different than junior high.  Junior high is different than grade school.  In grade school it was easy.  Junior high also pretty straight forward.  If there is a problem, whatever that problem may be, you send an email and set up a meeting.  Situation is addressed and everybody moves on.  Teachers expect, and sometimes even welcome, parents to be involved and keep track of their kids’ academic and social progress.

I don’t want to offend any teachers out there who might think it is belittling or maybe flat out preposterous to suggest a teacher would be so unprofessional as to retaliate against a student whose parents choose to disagree with the teacher on a particular matter.

Columbus Day for example.  Or Thanksgiving since I’m sure we’ll be engaged in that annual battle with the PC illuminati.

We’re sitting in church last month and I mention that Monday is Columbus Day and that the girls don’t have school so they can sleep in.  Bails responds with, “Columbus Day?  Gross.”

“Gross?  Why?  No school!”

She responds, “After Columbus got here millions of native Americans died because of disease and other bad things.”

Bails’ social studies is a Bernie supporter.  Good teacher and otherwise good dude.  But he’s a gullibly idealistic millennial.  Last fall her social studies teacher, different guy but also a naive lefty millennial, barely could teach the class the day after the election.  Still makes me smile.  Anyway, her teacher this year has evidently “taught” the class – and by “taught” I mean deconstructing American history through a PC disinfectant – that Columbus’ intent upon sailing from Spain was to enslave and infect any indigenous peoples he might need to overrun while he was stealing land for the rich oppressive elites in the super white European aristocracy.  And that any of the current flaws America currently suffers from are, in fact, the fault of Columbus.

This shallow misunderstanding of basic American history conveniently forgets that Columbus himself was an Italian Catholic.  Italian Catholics, if you recall, weren’t exactly popular with the Anglo-Saxon nativists during their emigration to America in the late 1800’s.  Columbus was a source of pride for this persecuted minority.  And, in an ironic and confusing twist to modern PC stormtroopers, an article in The Atlantic pointed out that Columbus Day parades in the early 20th century were a way to advance the goal of assimilating immigrants into a single American identity.  Local newspapers even “celebrated it as an important step in combating prejudice and bigotry, but it was much more. It served as a formal acknowledgment that immigrants could preserve their own ethnic identities and simultaneously embrace their new nation.”

Weird how a lack of historical perspective leads to a lack of, well, perspective.

Of course my on-going frustrations with millennial PC snowflakery aren’t the only source of consternation in relation to contacting high school teachers.  What about a biology teacher who only teaches biology in a way which makes it literally, not virtually, impossible for anyone to get better than a C.

How is that teaching?  I mean, and I’m just spitballin’ here, I thought the point of teaching was to impart knowledge.  Knowledge that the pupil will be able to recall and use.  Knowledge that helps them become a functioning and contributing part of American society.  Knowledge which makes them a well rounded citizen while also helping the pupil slowly but surely narrow down their academic interests in such a way that it allows them to decide which way to take their future education thereby determining the direction of the professional lives.

Nowhere do I remember in either the formal or informal definitions of teaching making the pupil hate the subject in question with same intensity Jack Lambert hated quarterbacks in the 70’s.  Nowhere do I remember the teacher purposely putting things on tests that were deliberately glossed over in the class in order to give the teacher the pleasure of abundant red pen usage.

But that’s is what is happening.  So we’re put in a position of having to challenge the teacher.  Gotta admit I kinda resent it.  So instead of going all Beverly Goldberg on the teachers, I’m writing about it here.

And yes I realize this blog post solves nothing.  Whatever…

Well Played 47, Well Played…

Birthdays mean things.  At 16 you get your driver’s license.  And for awhile, and also for the only time in your life – you think its cool to drive a ’81 Volkswagen Rabbit.  A beige one with a stick shift that only takes diesel.  Bad ass, I know.  At 21 you get to over pay for beers at the bar. And nothing says adulthood like paying more for something you could have done on your own with a little patience and planning.  Nothing really special happened on my 30th. I was already married and had a kid so turning 30 just seemed like a day.  On my 40th Mom and I had a party since we both turned 40 within a month of each other. We had a local place make us a couple big trays of barbecue while one of our friends brought over burnt ends.  And listen, after several beers, that stuff is quite possibly the greatest food you’ve ever tasted.

Anyway, I recently turned 47.  Which really isn’t anything special.  Doesn’t feel any different from any of my other recent birthdays. Aside from Mel Blount wearing #47 and being responsible for the NFL rules changes that allow the modern passing game, it isn’t an especially great number.  I was, however, pretty damned determined to kick 47’s ass.

So we made some plans with some good friends.  They picked us up and we drove back to their house.  Why? The key advantage of the location of their house is that you can walk to the bar.  A place called Taco Hangover.  At 3:00 in the afternoon.  On a Friday.  So, two things:

1-I’d like a little appreciation for our mature decision to not drive.  To not even have a vehicle at the bar.

2-Taco Hangover puts a laxative in its tacos.

Not sure how that makes for repeat customers but somewhere in their business model is a flow chart on how to make tacos and it includes a laxative.  Soft flour tortilla, chicken, stool softener/bowel stimulant, shredded cheese, etc.  The catch is that their tacos are awesome.  Seriously.  Bacon, egg and cheese tacos.  Kansas City burnt ends tacos. Chorizo and crispy potato tacos.  They even have sloppy joe tacos.  And listen, the tacos need to be awesome because you can’t get Miller Lite Tall Boys on the patio.  I know, I’m sitting there wondering if we’re in communist Russia or a bar in red, white and blue middle America…that sells laxative laden tacos.  Regardless, you did read that correctly.  No Miller Lite tall boys.  How the hell does that happen?  Friday afternoon ice cold tall boys on the patio is about as midwest American as you can get.  The really infuriating thing was that if I wanted to – although I can’t imagine a scenario in which this would happen unless it gave me the power of invisibility – I could get Pabst Blue Ribbon in a tall boy. I’m just spit ballin’ here but nobody really wants extra PBR.  Nobody.  And that’s what you get in a PBR tall boy.  Because of the outright and inexcusable lack of proper fridge stocking, I was forced to consume Coors Light.  In a tall boy.  And by forced I mean I wasn’t.  I could have had a normal regulation size draw of Miller Lite in the typical plastic cup required on patios.  But everybody else, including Mom at one point, is drinking tall boys and I’m not sure if you realize this, but tall boys have more beer in them.  Again, just spit ballin’ here but you know who likes more beer?  Everybody.

So as the day wears on and we have various conversations, including my agreeing to go a Flo Rida concert with Mom, we order tacos.  And a continuing flow of beers.  And, I’m not necessarily proud – or ashamed – of this but we put those away faster than Billy Idol was pumping fists in the Flesh for Fantasy video.

Mom tapped out first.  Got ride home from a friend.  About an hour later, I was done. Was about ready to get in the same friend’s car as she had recently arrived back at the patio after dropping Mom off and the taco effect suddenly become apparent to me.

So I did what anybody else would have done.  I bombed the bathroom.

Then I went home.  Upon my arrival I ask Mom how she’s doing – and just for reference sake it was still light out – and Mom informs me that she bombed our bathroom.

While we both felt pretty damn good afterwards, the effect of the beers hadn’t been evicted from our systems.  It was about this time that Kinz comes into our room and asks if her friend – a boy – could come over for a few hours.  My answer?  “Sure.”

Her response?  “Ok, but you’re going to have to talk to his Dad when he drops him off.”

My response to that?  “Ummm…you should ask Mom to do that.”

From the bedroom we hear, “No she shouldn’t!”

So it’s up to me to somehow behave like a responsible parent so this kid isn’t banned from our house because I wanted to kick 47’s ass.

Short while later – and after another visit or two to the bathroom – the kid and his Dad are at our door.  We introduce ourselves.  And then…

“Hey so I need to go through my whole deal here since we haven’t been to your house before.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Any alcohol in the house?”

I sorta tilted my head slightly and said, “Yeah…but they’re not going to drink any of it.”

“Any firearms in the house?”

I’m thinking, sure okay, this is a legit question.  I guess I could be Bob Lee Swagger.  I might be slamming beers while I make my own ammo out back.

“Nope, no firearms.”

“Any explosives in the house?”

“You’ll have to be more specific.  Do you mean military, commercial or recreational?”

No I didn’t really say that.  But I’d never been asked – ever – if there were any explosives in my house.  Do people stock explosives?  I’m not counting fireworks.  Where do you even purchase them if you were to stock them?  Because if this is a thing, I kinda would like to know that too.

And listen I get the first question.  I’m not going to ask it because I’m assuming it to be true in nearly every house in America.  I also understand the second question.  And maybe I should be asking that too.  Maybe we all should.  Or maybe we shouldn’t. Alcohol and firearms aren’t illegal.  Often dangerous when used in concert but not illegal.

But even weirder than the questions was I’m answering them after spending the last 5 hours at the bar drinking Coors Light tall boys while eating laxative tacos talking about going to the Flo Rida concert.

So well played 47, well played…

After Prom

High School Prom.  You remember it.  I liked Prom.  Had a great time both times I went. Junior year 1987 theme was Bon Jovi’s I’ll Be There For You.  Top Gun had recently hit VHS and the Atomic Shakespeare episode of Moonlighting was the funniest thing anybody had ever seen.  Senior year, if you can believe it, was even more awesome.  The series finale of Magnum aired the same weekend as Prom.  Poison had just released Nothing But a Good Time and we had access to multiple 30 packs of Stroh’s and Stroh Light.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…how does any self-respecting high school senior pick Stroh’s over Milwaukee’s Best?  Well, it came in a 30 pack.  Just saying. Also next time you have the chance to crack a Stroh’s or an MB you’ll swear to the sweet baby Jesus that it smells exactly like high school.  And Prom…if you went to high school in the late 80’s with me.  Seriously, just for a second, you’ll feel like you’re wearing shredded jeans, listening to Just Like Paradise on your way to see Coming to America.

Now sure as as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti some of you are judging me right now.  How in the hell can I hold any high moral ground while talking to my oldest daughter about Prom while I’m writing about the venerable and sorely missed Stroh’s 30 pack?

Well, thStrohs30pack1988e truth is parenting teenagers is f’ing hard.  I’m not perfect and I certainly don’t have all the right answers.  I mean example #1, I miss the taste of Stroh’s.  Sure its mostly nostalgic but I still do.  Example #2, I have no freaking clue where the point of balance is between letting your teenage daughter do things and protecting her from things actually is.  Example #3, I really don’t have any idea how these kids can enjoy Prom without hair metal.  These morons are listening to Chance the Rapper and DJ Khaled.  But here’s the thing, I remember being a teenager.  So do you.  I remember my two proms.  I thought about two things my last couple years of high school – girls and beer. That’s it. Sometimes, during basketball practice, I thought about basketball.  But that was kinda hit and miss.  As was my playing time as a result.  So while I was pretty unhappy about Mom volunteering for the After Prom party at the high school, it did put me in a position to at least be in proximity to my 17 year-old daughter during a key high milestone.  Plus, we did have access to a truckload of free food.

First, if your high school doesn’t do an After Prom party, here’s the low down.  The school opens itself up, parents volunteer to staff various activities and other crap to occupy the Prom-goers from the end of Prom to the middle of the freaking night.  Ostensibly to keep them in a relatively safe environment instead of driving around slamming beers.   Which, as we all know, may or may not have happened to a few of us Gen Xers during our high school years.  Afterwards, since these kids do everything in groups, the groups assemble at somebody’s house and they all sleep there.  Then your kid shows up at home sometime Sunday morning.

Our adventure begins with us meeting some of the other parents downtown to take some Prom pics.  Here’s one of the group.

Prom 88 Matt Ladd Jeff Nick

Oh, wait that’s a pic of me and some of my friends at Senior Prom back in ’88.  Here’s Rye and her group.

Prom17

Two things become obvious – 1) the guys are more excited about the pics than the girls. 2) My own douchiness as a high school junior and senior became painfully clear to myself.   These guys were posing their asses off.  But I did get to meet Rye’s date for the first time. But it was a day late.  While I was at work Friday night, Rye brought him over to meet us. We’d made a pretty big deal out of the fact that he hadn’t been to the house and we hadn’t met him.  Rye and him spent a little time talking to Mom about Prom and what their plans were.  Mom was pleased.  I was not.  Mostly because I was stuck at work during that 23.5 hour marathon.  I explained to  a couple coworkers what was happening while lamenting the fact that none of my questions for him could be answered.

So I improvised and started texting Mom the aforementioned questions.  Here’s the list:

  • What is his parent’s debt to asset ratio?
  • Any history of felonies or involvement with organized crime?
  • Trump or Hillary?
  • Steelers or Ravens?
  • Who was the better president: Woodrow Wilson or Calvin Coolidge?
  • What kind of car does he drive?
  • Grunge or Hair Metal?
  • Skinny jeans or normal jeans?

Mom was no help.  All she told us was that he drives a white car.  Which is useless. Provides me with absolutely no actionable intel.  Might as well have told me Tom Cruise is coming out with an action movie this summer.  Or that Eric Dickerson had a pretty good rookie year in ’83.  Useless.

PromdonutsAnyway, we head home after the pics for a hour or so then head over to Jersey Mike’s to pick up 8 boxes of subs.  Local businesses were donating food or giving us a deal. Our job to pick up Jersey Mike’s.  We arrived and there was Subway, Jimmy John’s, Krispy Kremes, Scratch Cupcakes, mini blizzards from Dairy Queen, a truckload of Papa John’s pizza, and not nearly enough wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.  After getting everything set up, I volunteered to be in charge of ice.  It required me to get ice and dump it into the big coolers to keep the pop, water and Gatorade cold.  I spent most of my time sitting while marveling at the amount of food these kids can consume.  These kids just wasted the donuts.  They looked like the Terminator walking into the West Highland Police Station looking for Sarah Connor.

One kid took 6 donuts and built them into a small pyramid on top of his pizza.  6 donuts. Who eats 6 donuts at midnight before they eat half a pizza?

PromjerseymikesI ended up with some leftover Gatorade, a box of Jersey Mike’s and two cases of Diet Pepsi.  We got home about 3:15 am…and were up at 6 am for more softball.  But as luck would have it, Bails’ team lost their first two games of the day and we were home by 11:30 and I immediately went to sleep.  5 and a-half hours later, the girls woke me up so I could mow the lawn.  Because this is what Dads do.  We go to softball on a couple hours sleep for two days in a row, we volunteer at After Prom parties and then we come home and mow the lawn.

Go Dads.

Next blog…An Awesome Time Machine.

 

Sleep and Other Stuff

I’ve never run a marathon.  Never been through Navy Seal training.  Never had to listen to a full speech from Elizabeth Warren.  All these things require endurance.  And in the case of the last example the ability to suppress audible laughter.  Staying awake also requires endurance.  Because staying awake can be hard.  It doesn’t matter if you’re watching golf, listening to Ed Sheeran, or staying at work for nearly 24 consecutive hours.

Stop me if this also happened to you a couple weeks ago.  You show up at work at 8 a.m. Friday morning.  With me so far?  Then you leave work at 7:15…a.m. Saturday morning. Sound fun?  How about this – starting Monday morning April 17 and ending Saturday morning April 22, I put in exactly 80 hours at work.  Which made me curious as to how many hours actually passed between the time I arrived that Monday morning and when I made it home alive the following Saturday.  There are only 119.25 hours in that time frame.  80 hours at work, 39ish hours for everything else.  That includes about 25 hours for sleep.

You may be asking yourself how dumb my job is.  Fair question.  April is normally my busiest month.  By the time we finish up the busy season I usually reset my personal bests for caffeine consumption use of the “f” word.  But lots of people have busy jobs, busy lives with kids’ activities and other assorted bullsh*t.  Mine all just happened on the same freaking day.

On my drive home I was trying to do some rudimentary math because I suck at it and because I had a pretty busy Saturday about to commence.  I’ll get home about 7:20, Bails softball schedule for Saturday is 8, 9:30, 2, 3:30.  Also happened to be Prom weekend for Rye.  Pics downtown at 5:30.  Then Mom stupidly volunteered for the After Prom Committee so we have to pick up subs from Jersey Mike’s at 8:45 and be at the high school at 9.  Then work the After Prom party until…wait for it…3 a.m.  Then be up at 6 a.m. Sunday to get to the softball fields by 7 a.m. for another set of games at 8 and 9:30. Once that’s done I needed to mow the lawn because it looked like Vietnam out there.

I walk into the house and two things are of the utmost importance.  1) I’m hungry.  2) I have never wanted out of a jacket and tie this much in my life. Not even when I went through first communion back in ’78 and I had one of those clip-on ties and those little blue sport coats that make every other Mom comment on your cuteness.  No boy wants comments on his cute mini-me grown up clothes.  Its uncomfortable.  Anyway, after eating what was easily the best two pieces of toast I’ve ever tasted in my life and shedding my work clothes I got in bed.

Now I’m sure there are some super Dads out there who in the name of proper parenting would’ve thrown on jeans and a sweatshirt and headed right out to the 8:00 softball game because nothing is more important than showing your kids that they are your #1 priority and you’d do anything for them.

Turns out I’m not that guy.  Adversity struck and I hit the sack faster than the donations to the Clinton Foundation dried up the day after the election.

Two things though  – 1) once you’ve missed your sleep window, its not that easy to force yourself into a peaceful slumber, and 2) the brightness of the morning sun spikes your aggravation levels to unhealthy heights.

So I, and I’m not exaggerating, totally buried myself under blankets and pillows in order to simulate darkness.  Worked for a couple hours until Mom, Bails and Kinz got home after the first two games with Chinese food for lunch.

eggrolldust

I made my way downstairs and without warning attacked the egg rolls.  I looked like a wood chipper clearing a street after a tornado.  Instead of sawdust it was remnants of egg rolls and fried rice.

Then it was out to the softball fields for the last two games of the day.  Its weird how Saturday feels when you really didn’t have a normal Friday.  My Fridays in the spring normally consist of me getting home, drinking more than one can of the variety of summer seasonal beers I like to populate my basement fridge with, watching Youtube videos of classic NFL games from the 70’s and 80’s and then waiting for Mom to get home.  Its a tried and true system that has consistently served me well.  So not only was I knocked off my routine but I was working on 2 hours of sleep fueled only by grocery store Chinese food.  I surprised myself with my coherence.  Didn’t have too much trouble speaking in complete sentences.  But eliminating the “f” word from your normal parlance is difficult after it becomes so culturally accepted in nearly every setting when you’re at work for 23.5 consecutive hours.  Normally walking into a room at work and asking, “Who is the asshat who called this f*&$ing meeting?” isn’t a thing that is heard without eliciting some kind of response.  But that’s what happens.  Unfortunately that doesn’t translate to a 14U softball game.  You can’t sit there behind home plate and comment in a conversational volume that, “this f*&$ing ump couldn’t find his ass with both hands, no chance he finds the strike zone.  He’s missed a f*&$load of calls already.”

So I decided to be silent with my feedback.  And I was able to stay awake…but the 5 or 6 Diet Pepsi’s probably had something to do with that.

Last game ends and we head for home for about 30 minutes to be there in time for Rye’s date to pick her up before we head downtown for Prom pics…

Next blog…After Prom…

 

Hello Christmas My Old Friend

I like Santa.  He’s a jolly old fat man with a snowy white beard.  He’s about giving, hope and faith.  He represents the best in all of us and asks nothing in return.  He shows up regardless of the weather, regardless of how you voted in November and regardless of whether you believe in him or not.

Christmas is the season, to paraphrase Frank Cross, when we’re all a little nicer.

Theoretically anyway.

Mom was in Omaha and Lincoln for most of last week. And her side of the family came to the house over the weekend to celebrate an early Christmas.  Plus Rogue One came out Friday.  Yeah, so Friday morning was pretty much shot when it came to cleaning up the house and making food along with all the other related holiday preparedness chores necessary to accomplish when family is about to arrive.

So that means it fell upon me to get the place ready.  I unilaterally modified that task to mostly ready.  Why?  Because I’m a simple dude.  And a lot of stuff that some people think are necessary, I don’t.  But listen, we kicked Christmas’ ass decorating this place.  It looks freaking awesome.  Our family room looks like HG-freaking-TV was here.  Chip and Joanna, when they’re not fighting off the leftwing twitter lynch mob, would be proud.  The house smells like a yuletide log filled with mistletoe and sugarplums, delivered to the house by a one-horse open sleigh driven by eleven lords-a-leaping, exploded leaving an exquisite ensemble of poinsettias, silver bells and a sea of swirly twirly gum drops.   It’s like Santa himself detailed the Seal Team 6 of elves to come get the place ready for the holidays.  So I figured as long as the house is clean, the beer is cold and there is enough food to prevent starvation, we’d be set.

Yes, there were a few things left to clean up after we got home from watching Rogue One.  But it was Rogue One.  What the hell were we supposed to do?  Wait until next weekend to see it?  Here’s a pic of me getting ready to watch.

theaterrogueone

First one in the theater baby!

Regardless, I was on top of making sure the house was ready.  Thursday night, whilst cleaning up the basement, I thought I’d get all the laundry done too.  Seemed reasonable.  However, there are three teenage girls in the house.  Things which are of deathly importance to them do not always rise to that same level with me.

So, I’m doing the laundry and various clean up related tasks.  I’m about done and getting ready to call the evening’s prep work a win and just go to bed when Rye comes into the bedroom.

“Dad, when you were doing laundry did you go into my room and take anything?”

“Are you asking did I pick up any of the clothes that were strewn about your floor?  No, I didn’t.  I asked if you had any laundry you wanted done and you specifically said no.  I chose to believe you.”

“Ok, well it was Kinsey then.”

“Wait, what was Kinsey?”

“Well, my Lulu Lemon tights got washed in the washer and they are only supposed to be hand washed.”

Quick point of context – Lulu Lemon is the brand that sells tights/leggings that are about $700.  I’m kidding but Rye did save up a bunch of money this summer specifically to buy leggings that were about $100.  Yes, $100 American dollars.  They are so precious but also evidently constructed so poorly that they can’t cannot survive a routine cycle in a washing machine and instead can only endure 19th century clothes washing technology.

“Sorry about that kiddo but I just put whatever whatever was in the darks pile into the washing machine.  I didn’t look to see what was in the pile because I figure if you guys made the rare decision to put your own dirty laundry in the laundry room I was just going to go ahead assume you were serious about that stuff getting washed.  I just unloaded the washer and hung up 3 or 4 pairs of black tights or leggings or whatever.  Nothing like that got put in the dryer.”

“Okay, well, Kinsey must have put them in the laundry on purpose.  I hate her.”

Then she went into Kinsey’s room, blamed her, and then went back into her room and started crying.

So much for there being a feeling of Christmas in the air.  But that is how the mind of 17 year-old upset about her ridiculously expensive black leggings being washed glitches when upset.  She doesn’t think that she may have inadvertently put them in the wrong pile, or absent mindedly picked them up with something else off her floor, instead she tried to pin the blame on me.  When it was obvious that wouldn’t work, she seamlessly transitioned to blaming her sister, for no other reason than malice, for trying to purposely ruin them.

I mean what was Kinsey’s motive?  What did she have to gain by going into Rye’s room, searching for the Lulu Lemon leggings and then sneakily placing them in the pile of dirty laundry in the laundry room.  Where’s the payoff?

After getting blamed, Kinsey comes into my room looking like the media on election night.  She confusedly asks me if I knew what Rye was talking about.  We went through a quick recap and Kinz says, “Why would I do that? That literally makes no sense.”  Aside from acknowledging her use of “literally” in a relatively appropriate way, I just told her to ignore Rye and go to bed.

Which, if I’m being honest, is my go to strategy when dealing with the three teenage girls in my house…

Surprises

I don’t like surprises.  It’s against my nature.

So I walk into the gas station down the street from our new house to get my 44 oz. Diet Pepsi which I get nearly every morning on the way to work.  If you’re a pop nazi and feel a burning need to start lecturing me about all the horribly destructive stuff pop does to my teeth and esophagus, well, suck it.  I’m drinking it.  If Hillary is elected she’ll outlaw it anyway.  My beloved 44 ouncer costs $1.06.  I go in with exact change every morning.  What?  I have too much change in my truck and I’m trying to get rid of it.  Seriously.  I bet my gas mileage improves with every 44 ouncer I buy.  Not to mention the fact that I like to pay with cash (or coins when applicable).  Why?  Because it’s nobody’s business what, when or how often I buy stuff.  Corporate America and the government ain’t tracking my consumer purchases!

Anyway, the pop costs $1.06.  Until today.  I reach over to hand the guy behind the counter my $1.06 and he  says “$1.58.”

Upon recognition of my look of both dismay and resigned realization of the inevitability of a cost increase, he – not surprisingly – says, “Price went up today.”

No sh*t.

I give him a $1.60, which isn’t exact change, and I leave.  I mean, they got me.  I’m going to this gas station to get pop.  I’m not changing my morning routine.  I like routines.  They eliminate decisions.  And right now, at work, I’m making decisions all freaking day.  So in the morning I don’t want to have to add unneeded and unnecessary decisions to an already decisiony  day.  So the question is, “who decided that 52 cent increase was justified for my 44 oz pop?”

I’m blaming Obamacare.  It has raised the cost of everything.  And Hillary.  Any day now there will be an email released detailing her role in the price increase.  Probably Kurt Cobain and all those assholes in Seattle who killed hair metal had something to do with it too.  The idiot who brought Emerald Ash Borer to the Midwest and killed all the ash trees is guilty too.  And while I’m at it…George Atkinson for prematurely ending Lynn Swann’s career due to concussions.  The mid-90’s for the general suckitude of the music.  Francisco Cabrera.  Smartphones.  The creators of MTV’s The Real World for coming up the genre of reality TV.  Millennials.  Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney.  And whoever is responsible for the death of Saturday morning cartoons.

Done.

Some Things Don’t Change

Seven weeks in the new house. I know everybody tells you moving is a huge hassle, and the truth is…its worse. Unless, of course, you’re old neighbors were Keith Olbermann, Bill Belichick and Elizabeth Warren. Then moving is glorious. But outside of that, moving just sucks. Not along the lines of working in a coal mine in the early 1900’s, watching golf or being a Bengals fan but still pretty crappy. I’m still somewhat, but not totally, amazed that we actually pulled it off.

The main reason we moved was sheer square footage. In the new house, each girl has her own room and now they have two bathrooms to fight over instead of one. But, and this is key, there are three sinks. In case you’re having trouble with the math, that means each kid can be in front of a sink at the SAME FREAKING TIME. Literally, not figuratively, life changing. The garage is bigger so now we don’t have to play musical chairs with the cars every morning to get out of the garage/driveway and lastly, the basement is now big enough that the girls can invite more than one friend over at a time.

But some things simply don’t change.

Millenials suck. Skynet will eventually become self-aware. And the girls still steal each other’s clothes and shoes and deny it happened.

They’re like Soviet diplomats in the 80’s. Did you take Rye’s shirt and wear it to school? I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. But if I did accurately understand it, I have no knowledge of any shirt, let alone the shirt in question. Furthermore you have provided nothing that demonstrates my involvement and I am forced to conclude that this is yet another attempt by a corrupt and greedy western system to undermine the proletariat.

Also, they refuse to put their shoes in their rooms. Refuse! Now, see if you can follow me here – they get ticked off at each other when one of them absconds with a pair of shoes that is not their own. They complain – loudly – and insist on the involvement of Mom and I to officiate the annoyance and then keep score regarding the number of times their shoes have been pilfered. Keeping their own shoes in their own rooms provides a degree of security that the small area in front of the door to garage does not. Yet that is where the shoes end up.  It’s as if their wi-fi connectivity depends on their shoes not being in their rooms. Their actions can only be construed as an outright repudiation of the principals of The Drop Zone. As I’ve previously mentioned, our new house has this sweet drop zone as you walk in from the garage. It has three hooks, a bench and plenty of space beneath the bench to TEMPORARILY locate 4 pairs of shoes. Maybe 5 if they’re small. Plus right next to the drop zone, and I mean literally right next to it, is a coat closet. So shoes, jackets, backpacks all have a place in which they can be put. None of those places can, in any reasonable way, be misinterpreted as piling them on top of each other in such a manner than they resemble the county dump. I have to use the door to the garage as a snow plow to push the shoes out of my way when I get home. Bails has more shoes in the drop zone than she does in her closet. Not kidding. I asked her why all her shoes on in the drop zone instead of in her closet. Her answer?

“How am I supposed to know what shoes I’m going to want to wear everyday? It’s easier if they’re all just downstairs.”

So, in case you’re not following along, her convenience is the primary directive on which we’re operating.

I think Missing Persons pretty much nailed my conclusions in their 1982 new wave hit Words.

“Do you hear me, Do you care…I might as well go up and talk to a wall ’cause all the words are having no effect at all…What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talkin at all…My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out, The words are audible but I have my doubts.”

You know I’m saying…

Unforeseen Issues

Okay, so make a quick list of things you expect to be issues and/or problems with your new house.  This may be easy for you.  Maybe even second nature if you watch HGTV as much as Mom does.  But that last time I moved How Bizarre by OMC and Fly by Sugar Ray were racing up the charts, John Elway was still a quarterback, and college interns were still interested in Slick Willie.

Anyway, make a list…take your time.  I’m just spitballin’ here but I’m gonna say cracks in the drywall, maybe some grading and/or drainage issues in the yard, and probably some minor leaking issues on the roof or in the bathroom are on your list.  Of course there are other issues with which to deal.  Maybe your neighbors to the west are Ravens fans.  Maybe the couple on the corner really likes garden gnomes.  Maybe the people across the street are freaking millennials who drive a Prius and are offended by everything.  Just speculating.  I don’t really know what kind of neighborhood you moved into.

But one thing that we failed to include on our list was rabidly aggressive robins.  At any point while you ran through the things to double check with the builder and/or house inspector did two crazy-ass belligerent robins show up?  Upon taking possession of your new house whilst at the bank during your closing did it dawn on you to mention that one thing that might derail the whole deal was two avian kamikaze terrorists?

Yeah so we have two robins that have built a nest in one of the pine trees along our back property line.  Normally I wouldn’t think twice about it.  In fact, it is a better spot than where the robins used to try and build a nest every spring in the old house.  I used to have a yearly battle with these two winged morons who insisted on building a nest on the house light right next to the front door.  Every morning I’d knock down the beginnings of a nest and those two idiots would just keep building.  They were like the Terminators of robins – they just absolutely would not stop!  But these two robins at the new house have evidently become somewhat accustomed to having complete dominion over the backyard.  A part of this misguided dominance is an exceptionally hardline stance against other robins.  Particularly robins which look exactly like them and have the annoying tendency to mimic their every move.  Every.  Damn.  Move.

But reflections in windows do that.

The brain of a bird is roughly the same size as the list of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments as Secretary of State.  And the birds behave accordingly.  The day we moved in I’m down in the basement doing the things you do when you move into a new house.  Unpacking boxes, moving furniture, wondering what all the bird crap and accompanying bird like markings were doing all over the patio and sliding glass door.  It looked a velociraptor was trying to get through the door.  Bird shaped feet marks all over the glass.  So much that it obstructed your view.  They’d been evidently attacking these “other” two intransigent robins repeatedly for months with no success.  I’m sure it was frustrating.  It was probably like attacking Donald Trump in the GOP primary.  Doesn’t matter what you do, he just keeps showing up same as before.

The obvious solution to this problem is deforestation of the backyard.  In gleeful disdain I dubbed this the Al Gore option.  There are only five pines and a maple back there.  Having some activity in the house and the installation of window blinds has helped keep these two supremely dense robins away from nearly all the windows.  But not the basement slider.  In fact, I met out new next door neighbor while I was out cleaning the outside of the door.  Neighbor walks over, introduces himself and then starts marveling at the robins’ persistence when smashing themselves into the glass.  Trading blows with the reflection over and over like Bird and Dominique in Game 7 of the ’88 Eastern Conference Semis.  Then, when they aren’t hurling themselves at the glass, they sit right up against it and crap all over the patio. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is what Bernie Sanders supporters plan to do at the Democratic National Convention.

I’ve narrowed my options down to the following:

  • The aforementioned Al Gore option. Doomed to failure or irrelevancy like most of the things bearing Al Gore’s name.
  • Bob Lee Swagger Option. In a ghille suit I lay in the tall grass in the undeveloped lot behind us, check wind speed, range, target movement, barometric pressure, the number of beers left in my cooler and decide how to eliminate the target – pellet gun, pressure washer or bottle rockets.  Not gonna lie, I really like the bottle rocket idea.
  • Total War. Here’s the plan – first, I grind up Krispy Kreme donuts and infuse the tiny donut particles into the seed in a bird feeder placed near their nest.  After a couple weeks or so the birds become so fat they can’t fly.  Using their sensitivity to sound against them, I play comments from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz over and over until the fat flightless birds are immobilized with liberal guilt.  Pretty soon something higher up the food chain will just take care of business.

So I guess I’ve got some thinking to do…

Leaving Your House

It’s been about three weeks since we moved.  It’s weird.  You live in a house for almost 19 years then one morning you wake up and all your stuff gets moved to a different house.  And listen, it is amazing the stuff you’ve not only accumulated over 19 years but the things you’ve somehow kept.  Like my cassette tape single of Dirty Love by Thunder.  Not only a great song but totally emblematic of the summer of the ’91.  Other things awesome about the summer of ’91?  The T-1000, Andy Van Slyke in centerfield for the Pirates and I went to Game 2 of the NBA Finals and saw this:

jordan1991game2handswitch

I really thought it would be more difficult to leave the house once we fixed all the little things and made it look so nice.  Over the last few years, we’d renovated two bathrooms, replaced all the windows, put a new roof on, re-sided the house, sealed and patched the garage floor, put new carpet in the upstairs and downstairs and I really thought, man, we put a lot of cash, time and effort into this house…and then the bank handed me the check at closing.  Turns out I don’t really miss it as much as I thought.  I miss our old neighbors.  I miss the big trees.  I mean the convenience of the location.  Dude, I could get anywhere – bank, grocery store, gas station, Mexican restaurant, Target, mall, softball fields, three different schools, dry cleaners, hardware store all in 10 minutes or less.  New house?  We’ve been completely sealed off by traffic lights.  Everything takes more time.  Seriously add 15 minutes and lots of swearing to everywhere you go.  By the time you’re home on the couch watching The Goldbergs you’ve become pretty irritated.  Thankfully, I’m figuring out the shortcuts.  There’s exactly one.  As in uno.  Regardless, what I really miss is knowing where the hell everything is located inside the house.

You spend 19 years in a house and you literally, not figuratively, know where everything is.  Forks and knives?  Same drawer they’ve been in for 19 years.  Duct tape?  Utility drawer in in the kitchen.  DePaul Blue Demons pennant you’ve had since the ’83-’84 season?  White bin on the second shelf in the basement.

Now?

I don’t even freaking know which freaking switch turns on the freaking lights in the freaking house.  I came down the stairs early in the morning this week and I’m hitting every freaking light switch I can find to try and turn on the damn light above the kitchen table.  It probably looked like gun shots if you were standing outside watching.

You know what else is a bit unsettling?  Tampa Bay possibly playing San Jose for Lord Stanley’s Cup that’s what.  Also, mowing a different yard.  An entirely different patch of earth.  Yeah, I had the pattern rotation down cold in the old yard.  I had it down so I could mow, trim and edge all under an hour.  Now?  I almost collapsed from exhaustion the first time I mowed the new yard.  Didn’t help that the mower kinda crapped out me  but listen, this new yard…is a BIG DAMN yard.  It’s like push mowing Montana.  I looked like Forrest Gump when he was finally done running.

Plus the first time I did it the internet guys hadn’t buried the cable line yet so I had to constantly pick up and mow under the freaking thing.  Pretty sure this is how involuntary amputations happen.  Oh, and special thanks to the builder who decided it was swell idea to grade the dirt around the southeast corner of house so pushing the mower up that hill is like running up the damn American Ninja Warrior Warped Wall.  That was super enjoyable.  Plus the self-propelled part of the self-propelled drive on the right rear wheel packed it in for the rest of the job which meant that not only was the mower now half self-propelled and half 45 year-old-Dad-propelled, but it was pulling heavily to the left.  So I’m trying to mow a small hill that is, roughly speaking, an 80 degree grade while reaching down and picking up the exposed internet line with a mower running at 50% propulsion that really just wants to turn left.  If I had video I’m pretty sure it would be a good visual representation of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Before I could get the trimmer out I had to go inside and sit down for 20 minutes to prevent a cardiac event.  Pretty much decided at that point that I was going to mulch…or pave…the entire yard.  I’d start looking at lawn tractors…or as some of you may know them – riding mowers – but that really just feels like quitting.  Like giving into my impending 46th birthday.   My solution?  American Ninja Warrior.  I’m just gonna scale that damn hill full speed everyday until its easy.  46 years-old my ass.