Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
When I broke up with my trainer (I hope it's a temporary separation), he kindly gave me a home version of his workout to try and help me stay in some sort of shape. It requires almost no equipment. The problem is it doesn't really have a good exercise for the large muscles of your back. The Iron Gym Xtreme takes care of that. It's a fancy chin-up bar you stick in a doorway. No hardware required to attach it, and it'll hold like 300 lbs. Thankfully I'm a few stones shy of THAT number.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
In July I wrote about fighting the urge to sit on the couch. About getting out and enjoying the outdoors, breathing fresh air, and generally being more active. I think we've done reasonably well these last few months. We haven't been camping, but there's been a lot less video game playing and a lot more time outside — even if only in our own backyard. The kids still watch too much TV, but Rome wasn't built in a day.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Dear Badass Dad,
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Work me: Veneer of professionalism. Moderated sarcasm and snarkyness. Confident. Capable. Reduced use of profanity. Somewhat detached. In the course of my working life, more of my true self has come out, but work me is still several steps removed from who I think I really am.
- Real life me: Who I am with people I know well. More relaxed. Funnier (I think). Laugh easily. Cry sometimes. Say fuck a lot. Give hugs. A bit self conscious. Avoid confrontation. Keep things light.
- Blog me: Not so different from real life me. A bit more thoughtful. Certainly better edited (I think!). Brave enough to say things I might not say elsewhere. Wise enough to hold back some I might regret. I explore things I rarely talk about, and no one gets to interrupt me. I crave
attentioncomments. I like to know you're there, and what you think.
- Twitter me: Almost no filter. Self-assured (mostly). Flirty. Hilariously funny (I'm certain). Brave in my relative anonymity, yet supportive and (mostly) friendly. As long as you can read sarcasm.
"Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world. Even if what is published is not true."
Saturday, August 1, 2009
As a father of boys, I consider myself lucky. When it comes to buying toys for my kids, I know if I get them something I think is cool, they'll be totally happy. Spaceships, super heroes, dinosaurs, pirates — none of this is a stretch for me. But what about all the fathers of girls out there?
I have a friend. A single father of an adorable little 4-year old girl. He loves her, and of course like any father wants her to be happy. He mans up and doesn't balk when she wants unicorns and princesses and frilly dresses and all manner of girly things. So he didn't think twice about buying her a pink princess bubble wand. All hearts and flowers and little stars, it looked perfectly innocent and completely girly. Everything seemed right in her little pink princess world. Then he turned it upside down.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I like saying parenting is like curling. You know, that sport in the Winter Olympics where they push a big heavy polished stone across ice and then frantically sweep in front of it with brooms to try and guide its course and make it go as far and as straight as possible but they can't actually touch it? I think parenting is like that. We can try and clear the way, but mostly kids go the way they're gonna go.
- I got laid off, which means I'm home almost all the time versus being at work 50+ hours a week.
- Lisa has a break from work until October, so she's home, too.
- We let our nanny go. She was here five days a week for about seven months, spent more waking hours with the kids than either of us, and we all loved her. She was amazing and we miss her.
- Owen took three weeks off preschool then went back for summer school (at the same place). But some of his best friends aren't there, and some won't be coming back.
- Michael Jackson died.
- Nicholas turned one, and got serious about walking. He's a walking machine now.
- Owen turned four, and has agreed to wipe his own butt for a whole month in exchange for the most coveted toy of his young life - Ahsoka's Starfighter Lego set.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I see myself in my kids. This can be good and this can be bad. Something I'm seeing now in Owen, who will be four in a couple of weeks (and again, where the hell did four years go?), is my tendency to sit around like a lump. Watching TV, playing video games, generally avoiding physical activity. Like right now, as I sit here, writing at my computer. When it's gorgeous outside. (But, baby Nicholas is napping, and Lisa and Owen are out running errands, so I can't really leave. So gimme a break). Once we actually get him out of the house he's happy to run and climb and jump and play. But ask him what he wants to do? The answer will almost always be Lego Star Wars.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I write a dad blog. It says so right up in the title. (A title which, I realize, is not very imaginative. When I started the blog I called it "The Once and Future Badass Dad." But was both pretentious and totally nonsensical, so now it's just Badass Dad Blog. Which is lame, but tells it like it is.) So I think the fact I write a dad blog means I have to write a Father's Day post. So, here it is.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I learned Monday I no longer have a job.
Possible tweets/status updates during unemployment:
- Ate breakfast. Can't believe how many calories are in cheese. So good though.
- Staring at breakfast dishes. Knife and fork perfectly aligned. Is this plate REALLY dirty?
- Thinking about clearing breakfast dishes. They look so peaceful there, though.
- Can this microwavable container be recycled?
- Have an itch.
- Are those ants? No, crumbs. Sherman!
- Where are my pants?
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
What do you do for a four-year old's birthday?
Every parent faces this, right? Do we have a party or take them someplace special with a friend? If we have a party, who do we invite? How big should it be? Do we have to invite the whole class? Do we have to invite THAT kid? Do we have to invite that kid's PARENTS?
We are facing this now. Owen will be four in July. He's old enough to be fully aware of this. He knows the date and will tell you if you ask. At his age, birthday=party. They are the same, inseparable. It's not your birthday if there is no party. I'm already anticipating psychic chaos when we tell him his birthday PARTY is on a different day than his actual BIRTHDAY. His little mind might crack.
But once we're past that, and assuming he's still functional, what are we going to do? Owen and Nicholas are three years apart. Nicholas will turn one about a month and a half before Owen turns four. We're not going to have a big blowout for the one-year old. I mean, he has zero clue. He'll be stoked about cake and ice cream, as this child lives for food. Other than that, who are all these people, and why is that thing on fire?
But for Owen it's a different thing entirely. He's a birthday party connoisseur now. He's been to so many he could plan the fucking things. He has strong opinions, some of which he has expressed out loud, some simply through his actions. Here are some of Owen's rules, as I understand them, of what makes a proper birthday party:
- Bouncy house? Yes.
- Cool toys and stuff scattered around for everyone to play with? Yes.
- Open presents at the party? Yes (we'll fight him on this).
- Organized party games? No. Absolutely no. Get that parachute away from me, I'll show you where you can pin the tail, and why is that dude wearing makeup?
So at least we have some clear dos and don'ts if we go the party route.
But is a party the best idea? Parties are expensive, and messy, and stressful. Somebody will end up in tears. Probably one of the kids, and quite possibly also me. When it's over we have to clean up and manage our exhausted children who live in our house and don't leave at the end. We could do it at an indoor playground, but we've done this twice before. Owen seems almost old enough to graduate to the next level of pay-to-play fun, but I refuse to take a child to Chucky Cheese who will not eat pizza. We've told him this. He says he'll eat pizza when he's four. We'll see. We could go to a park, but it's mid-July in Los Angeles. If it's 100 degrees, nobody wins.
So that brings us to Plan B - amusement park with one or two friends. I happened to land four free tickets to Legoland through work. I've never been, but folks tell me it's a cool place for young kids - better in some ways than Disneyland (less commercial and more age appropriate, and hopefully less crowded). So we're thinking we might invite a friend or two of Owen's to come along and spend the day there instead of a party. We'd still do cake and presents and stuff with the family, but no big thing. Lisa floated this idea to Owen, and he was into it. But I'm not sure he understands this would be INSTEAD of a big party. We'll see.
Whatever we do, I'm sure he'll have a good time. And the truth is, he's four - is he really even gonna remember this birthday? I sure don't remember my fourth birthday. I don't really want to try and out-party his friend's parties, and ultimately I'm not sure anything can top our day at the LA Department of Sanitation Open House. The day he got to
Wish us luck with the birthday celebration. Whatever we do I expect you'll hear about it here before long.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Details are fuzzy. I'm not sure this happened the way I remember it. Probably not, considering how scattered my memories are. Time does that to memory, and it's worse when the events themselves were surreal, as these surely were.
After a few days, I went back to LA. Back to school. Back to my life. It looked like he was doing better. They'd decided to transfer him to a bigger medical center in Davis. That seemed like a good sign. They were better equipped to help him, and I figured they wouldn't move him if they didn't think he had a good shot at recovering. Before I left I went to Jeff's room and we talked a little. He was sleepy, not saying much. We talked about how I'd see him in a few weeks when I came home for Thanksgiving. We hugged. He held onto me a little longer than I thought was normal. Or maybe I held onto him. Maybe both. I don't know.
I flew back to LA. There was this guy from out of town that I barely knew staying with me. Long story why, doesn't matter. My girlfriend (now wife) was at her parents' place in New York. So it was just me and this guy I didn't know. As I said, my memory of the timeline and series of events is fuzzy, but I think I was home for like 12 hours. I got home, said hi to this guy, went to bed.
The phone rang. Woke me up. It was around 3am. It was my dad. Jeff had passed away. He'd died. He was dead. I should come back.
I went back to LA thinking I was going back to school for a few weeks while Jeff recovered, then going home to visit for Thanksgiving. By then we'd know more about what was going on with him and be able to talk about what was next and make plans. And hang out and have turkey.
I fucking left.
Because of school. And because bad things don't happen to us. Bad things happened on TV and to other people, not to us. People got better. People were OK.
So I went home. Except in November 1995 things didn't get better. They got worse. They got worse fast and they tried to save him and there was nothing they could do and he died. And I think maybe he knew when I left, somehow, that things weren't going to get better. I think maybe that's why he held onto me a little longer than usual. Maybe he knew even though we were saying "see you at Thanksgiving" we were really saying goodbye.
Or maybe he didn't know. But that's what we were saying, whether we knew it or not.
Things start spinning. This guy is in our apartment and my brother just died and I have to buy a plane ticket or maybe my friend Chris did that for me because I think he flew home with me though I'm not really sure and I had to leave pretty much right away so I threw some clothes in a bag and told this guy he probably needed to find another place to stay because I didn't know when I'd be back and it was weird for him to stay there alone and I left and my girlfriend still wasn't there and I remember when we came home after what seemed like years after the funeral there was leftover macaroni and cheese in a pot uncovered in the refrigerator and honestly that bothered Lisa way more than seemed logical but what the hell did logic have to do with anything at that point and he'd just left that there in the refrigerator of these people he barely knows and who the fuck does that?
When Jeff died I called Lisa's parents in New York to tell them what happened. I called her dad at work because I wanted to talk to him before I talked to her. She was there for an audition. That day. So we decided not to tell her right away but make arrangements for her to fly to Sacramento after her audition to be with me. But let her do the audition before telling her. I still think that was the right thing to do, though she was pissed about it. She said we should have told her. She didn't get whatever she was auditioning for so maybe it wouldn't have mattered, but we didn't know that then, and we'd only been dating about a year and who knew we'd get married and have two amazing kids and it didn't seem right to disrupt the whole reason for her trip when there wasn't anything she could do except make plans to come home which we were doing for her.
A lot happened in the next few days. A funeral. Many, many people. More than we expected. More than would show up for my funeral. Jeff was an amazing person. He touched a lot of people. He'd been seriously dating a girl for a while and we listed her in the paper as his fiance. What the hell difference does it make now? Clearly they're not getting married. Listing her as "girlfriend" seemed strange, less than the truth. So we rounded her up. I think her parents were bugged by it but who cares. We created a custom headstone with a guitar on it that was supposed to look like his guitar which was all 90s metal. He loved Metallica. I still have that guitar. It's almost unplayable but I won't get rid of it.
I stayed home for a while - I'm not sure how long - before coming back to school in LA and going back to school. Most people at school knew what had happened and they were cool about it but those first few weeks back in LA were the strangest part of this whole thing. Because my world had a huge hole ripped in it but for everybody else it was the same world it had been a month ago. When we were home for the funeral everything was about Jeff and how awesome he was and how crazy and horrible it was that he was gone. And for me everything was still about that but it wasn't about that for anyone else. Except my girlfriend who was incredible and my close friends who were amazing about all of it. And really everyone was pretty great but there's no right way to be at that point. No right thing to say.
And it's been almost 14 years. Jeff was 18 when he died. The way time is speeding up (it is, you know), in a few blinks he will have been gone longer than he was here. That's crazy. I wanted this post to be not just about his death but about his life. But I guess what I needed to write about first was the end. And maybe that means there will be other posts about his life. I think there will be.
Today is his birthday. Jeffrey William Blanchard was born June 2, 1977 in our house on Hughes Road in Grass Valley, CA under a rainbow my father painted on the wall of our little eat-in kitchen. And today he'd have been 32. And I have no idea what he would have done or who he might have become, but it would have been awesome. I wish I could see it.
Happy birthday, little brother.