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.
Monday, June 1, 2009
We've been married seven years today.
Seven years ago we stood up at West End Collegiate Church in New York City and pledged our love for each other in front of everyone. And we didn't mention Jesus because I didn't want to and you said that was OK. And then we walked/floated out of the church to the theme from Star Wars on the pipe organ. That ruled.
Seven years has gone so fast. People talk about the seven-year itch, but we cleared that hurdle by living together seven years before the wedding. When we got the seven year itch, we got married.
We've flown by the seat of our pants much of the time. We've trusted the Force, Luke. We weren't sure we wanted kids. Then we decided we did. Owen was the most amazing thing that could ever be. He was incredible and we were happy and we weren't sure we wanted to have more. Then we decided we did. And Nicholas was also the most amazing thing that could ever be. And it shouldn't be possible for two things to be the most amazing anything, but they both are.
Now we look ahead. There will be new adventures. Uncharted territory. Not sure what, exactly, but things will change. They have, they do, and they will. And we'll do it together.
I'm so lucky.
You are my best friend. You're beautiful. You're fiercely loyal. You like almost all the stuff I like (except Twitter.)
You're a great listener. You're an amazing lay (sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Kable). You're an awesome mother to our kids.
We share things. We work together. I take the cans down to the street and you bring them back up. And it works.
I love you so much.
Happy anniversary, my love.