The Fourth (The Inbetweener)

Eventually I’ll start coming up with creative names for these things. It used to be, on a previous blog, that I’d come up with this fascinating title for a post and then spend most of my time looking for the perfect picture to express that title. I’m not doing that right now. Focusing more on content? But, even then, not really. Just typing, typing, typing away.

This is kind of an anonymous blog. I setup a separate email for writing which is kind of cathartic because it’s so clean. I checked it yesterday and realized that since I’m posting publicly here people can see my blog. And people are reading it.

So … hi?

I feel like this weird in-betweener as far as my generation goes. I grew up pre-internet. I went out to play, was called in for dinner, had adventures. I sat in the garage with the long phone cord to talk to a girl. When I was in high school the kids with more money had pagers, not cell phones. I had a flip phone in college and didn’t get my first smartphone until I was about 30.

I don’t understand televisions anymore. When I was in my mid-twenties my family and I went in together on a gift for my dad, a nice flat screen television. It’s been about 10 years now, but that’s still a nice television. And I can barely work it. He’s got 3 remotes for it and if you want to watch something on Netflix you have to use each one of them.

I’m also lost in video games. I’m a classic Nintendo guy because Mario I can understand. I played Final Fantasy III on the Super Nintendo as a kid and loved it. I got that game and sat down to play it and 6 hours went by in a snap. I watched a friend play Final Fantasy 27 in college and there was so much … Dials and paths and 16 buttons on the controller and what the hell. I’m a button-masher, that’s my thing. If I can’t remember to take my pills every morning, don’t expect me to remember how to throw a thunder upper cut with a Swahili twist.

The only other thing I get in my writing email is Redbox offers. I’m actually signed up with three different email addresses so when the deals roll around, I can get three movies for one night for about $.50 each rather than just one. That’s the smarts.

My grandma grew up during the depression. I guess my other grandparents did, too, but she’s the only one that’s been specifically pointed out to me as thrifty because of it. When Toys R Us announced they were closing and my local store started marking things down, the one thing I was supremely interested in was the Legos. But they weren’t dropping quickly enough for me and my meager earnings, so I grabbed about 6 things and hid them under one of the fixtures. I was hesitant to tell anyone I did this, but I admitted it to my mother and she said my grandmother would be proud of me for it. And that made me feel better about it.

I was fine with doing it, I just felt like it wasn’t fair. But it wasn’t for me, it was for my son and it was worth it. That’s one nice thing about having a kid. (There’s millions of nice things about having a kid; I love my son.) It’s a license to break rules that you wouldn’t normally because: him. I killed a spider the other day because that’s one less venomous creature that could bite him and make him sick. I’ll cut in line, cheat in a contest, murder a hobo. Whatever it takes.

On the flip side of this, I have to do things outside of my comfort zone, too. Recently my son was in t-ball and I’m not a sports guy, but I signed up to be a team parent and kind of became an assistant coach. I knew all the kids names, I was clapping and encouraging and high-fiving. Yet, still, when the ball would come near me I instinctively flinched because when I went through baseball as a kid I was scared of the ball. I sweated buckets, got tired and worn out and dirt on my feet through my shoes and socks, but I did it, for him. And enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong. But I wouldn’t have done that without him.

Everything’s easier when it’s for someone else. It’s not easier, no – that’s wrong. It’s easier to commit to things you wouldn’t normally commit to when it’s for someone else. But not everything, because life’s not that simple.

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The Loveseat

The loveseat came from a storage unit. I met a guy there who opened up the garage style door and showed it to me. Simple, tan. Comfortable enough. Cheap, and it fit in my car at the time. I paid, maybe, $40 and hauled it off. It complemented the chocolate brown of my couch and easy chair, two other Craigslist finds, and worked well with the college-worn coffee table and doctor’s office rug. And the throw pillows of varying origins.

It seemed like something out of a dorm room. The cushioning was fake, it was not comfortable, and the angle was funny. I ended up removing the back legs so it would angle backward, which for it was a normal level.

Joseph liked to sit on it. Being a kid he didn’t suffer from the complete absence of any back support. It was something closer to his size, but still large. He could sit on it, crawl on it, curl up on it. Watching cartoons, eating snacks, petting the pug we had briefly.

I remember one Saturday when he was 2 or 3 we drove down to Jefferson City. Our first stop was the Barnes & Noble for story hour and to hang out a little bit. We went into the children’s section and he wasn’t interested in the story, but he was interested in the Thomas the Train table they had. He went and played, making sure to share and be nice to the other kids, while I looked around. After a bit we went out into the main part and were looking at things on the clearance tables when he because sluggish and hot and his behavior drastically changed. I thought he was just overheated because of the temperature and that I’d let him wear his polyester pajamas.

We raced home and things didn’t improve. He definitely had a temperature, but no other symptoms. I stripped him down to just his diaper and he laid on that loveseat, sprawled out, sleeping. I kept an eye on him. At times he would shake which was scary, but I checked and this wasn’t an unusual occurrence with a fever. My mind turned with other options for what I could do to take care of him, but he got better quickly. And I vowed not to take him back to the children’s section of Barnes & Noble.

I have pictures from that day, of my sweet little angle laying, sleeping. The loveseat is gone now, but it’s memory lives on. And it’s just barely gone.

The aforementioned pug, Doggy Auggie, was only with us briefly. He got sick very quickly and died while I was at work. Before that, though, he’d gotten sick on the loveseat and although I did my best to clean it, it still left a large spot on the cushion. I put a blanket down, but, well, we’re about to get a new dog and I wanted to rearrange the living room and there’s really never enough people in my place to necessitate seating for between 4 and 6 people.

I don’t have the same car anymore. I went down from a Hyundai Santa Fe to a Ford Focus SE Hatchback, to save money. So transporting the loveseat was not an option. I thought about posting it as free on Craigslist, but I didn’t feel like anyone would take it. Trashing it became the best option, but my trash day is on Monday. Which means I have to remember to schedule the pickup the previous Friday. And I never do. So I was left with one option.

I got it out onto the deck and after Joseph had gone to sleep, I set to work dismantling it. Cutting, hammering, pulling, dripping with sweat; it was hard work. And it was late. So after doing about half of it, my degree of caring shot way down. I bagged up the pieces I had and took them to the dumpster. It wasn’t too full, so I went back for the rest of the loveseat.

It was more of a chaise lounge at this point. The back and one arm were gone, the bottom had been gutted. Ragged pieces of tan fabric and dark netting, wood pieces pinching and spreading, nails jutting, and that stain, big and black on the surface. I dragged it over there and at first put it in the opening, but it didn’t fit well at all, still too wide, so I took it out and set it beside. I’ve seen mattresses over there and other large pieces of furniture; surely this would be just as acceptable.

I was too tired to care then, though, and I still don’t care now. What will be will be. Loveseats, come and go. And that one was really a piece of crap.

The Third

Went to see my doctor, former doctor I should say, this morning and she could not care less about how I’m feeling or what I want. I tried to explain to her what’s happened, these are my symptoms, but she really very interested in my not talking and just listening. And then agreeing that the medicine that’s not even for what I have is what I should take. Because if things are pretty much okay, why try to make that better.

So, I’m going to use her for medicine until I find someone else that’s going to work with me to make things better. I’ll do my own research and try to find someone having a similar experience to me and see what they did.

Today at work has been really frustrated. It’s not just in my head that this stuff is pointless. Why bother? Who cares? I just can’t keep doing this. And I don’t want to be in charge of it. It would be worse to be in a position of power and not able to do anything. So I guess I’ll take the weekend to think about that and work on it Monday.

Broached the subject of the holidays with Joseph’s mother, with no response. I said I’d like to have him for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve/Morning, both of which she has had him for the last two years. This year is special because of my dad. That was yesterday afternoon, that I sent the text. No response probably means she’s thinking about how things will work – I don’t know. She doesn’t always respond the way I expect/fear, so I’ll just see what she says.

Ready to go, ready to put on shorts, ready to run.

Book – Zombie Tales

The other night Joseph was upset about me telling him to go brush his teeth, wanting me to go with him because he was afraid there would be a Zombie in there. This wasn’t a real fear; he just wanted me to go with him.

I told him that if he finds a zombie in the bathroom, he should make friends with it, because zombies are people, too. And then I was thinking that if this were a children’s book, he could befriend the zombie and then teach it how to brush it’s teeth.

So we start with the kid being told to do something that’s like the beginning of his bedtime ritual. And the kid doesn’t want to go, so dad tells him to go, and the kid says he’s scared of a zombie, and dad tells him that if he meets a zombie he should make friends with it.

So the kid goes, meets the zombie, he’s scared at first, notices their differences, then their similarities. He shows him how to do the different things he’s doing. They end up in bed together at story time to dad’s surprise.

So that’s like a bedtime book. There could be a morning book that ends with the teacher being surprised. Then one about transitioning between homes and the mom is surprised. Going to the dentist. Making friends, like it happens at recess.

***

The setting is like a dressed stage, as in a play, with everything not stage as the night sky. Or maybe outside. Something like that.

I want narration interspersed with dialogue, all rhyming. I love reading things that rhyme.

We start on the kitchen. Dad is doing the dishes, kid is finishing dinner. He tells dad that he’s done and dad tells him to go wash his hands. Kid goes, but he’s nervous about going in. Comes back to dad and says something like I’m afraid there’s a zombie. Dad tells him that if he meets a zombie he should say “hi”. Zombies are people, too.

Kid goes and nervously looks around. In the cabinet below the sink, in the medicine cabinet, behind the door, in the toilet tank. Then, peeling back the shower curtain – there it is! A kid-sized zombie.

He runs out and goes to his dad. “Dad! There was a zombie!” And dad asks if he said “hi”, and the kid goes no. So he sends him back.

Kid goes back and the zombie is in the exact same spot. So he says hi, nervously. The zombie groans in response. *He only ever groans. It breaks the rhyme every time. Kid introduces himself. Zombie groans. “It’s nice to meet you, Omar.” We just named our zombie. “Do you want to wash your hands, too?”

And the kid helps him wash his hands.

They go back to dad, who is folding laundry now. The kid introduces him to Omar. Dad says hi, Omar groans. Dad says it’s time to get ready for bed, kid doesn’t want to go to bed, dad agrees that he can play for 20 minutes, but he has to put on his pajamas first.

Kid takes Omar to his room and lends him some pajamas. They play with lego-like objects.

After 20 minutes, Dad calls that it’s time to pick up, so the kid and Omar pick up the toys.

And now they have to brush their teeth. Omar loses a few. They go back to bed. They want a story, so Omar picks one. Dad comes in and for the first time realizes there’s a zombie! He looks all freaked out during story time.

The kids hug and go to sleep. with the lights off the floor, walls, ceiling disappear (not toys or the bed or anything like that) so that the background is just the night sky now.

 

The Second

It’s all so small. Global warming, the new Supreme Court appointee, the separation of refugee families, rescuing Thai boys, the death of Steve Ditko. Where will Joseph be for the holidays, my dying dad, the new shoes I got. The span of my life is, rounding up, like 100 years, and in the vastness of it all that doesn’t really matter to anything else and if you think of that life as a set of events, they become just as insignificant.

Seems bleak. And now my stomach hurts. Unrelated.

We’ve got a woman in our office who is nasty to customers. That’s the simple explanation, though. What’s really happening is that she’s being put through a vise, doing a job that’s tough for anyone, but is especially tough for her and it comes out in how she talks to people. If you break it down percentage-wise, very little of that pie falls on her.

Part of it falls on me. I wonder what I should do. One of the effects of the situation is that it makes what we do meaningless. Why should anyone try to provide a customer with good service if a roll of the di could ensure them a bad experience? What’s the point of doing this job? And then what’s the point of doing anything if this job is the main thrust of your life? And what if you’re that woman and these questions come into your mind?

I’ve talked to my supervisor about this and he’s explained his plan and talked to me about how, essentially, nothing can be done, which I basically understood already. So what do I do? It’s not true that nothing can be done. Just what do I do?

There’s a hopelessness that comes with the pie if you ask these questions, “what’s the point?”, and wait for an answer. There isn’t one. Is there a god? What happens when you die? What’s the point? No one really knows.

People ardently, feverishly cling to faith, gripping tighter and tighter as they get older, evidence that they don’t really have the answer. It’s all they can do to convince themselves. It’ll be okay. There’s someone there. It’s not just me.

It is, though. You’re all you’ve really got. You can ask as much as you want, but no one’s answering.

I’d like to write. Just write. I don’t want to work in customer service for the rest of my life, but I’ll do it well while I’m here. All of it. I’ll do it honestly, how about that. I want to be a better dad. Fix a few things. Try to make people happy.

It’s all so small. There’s no big answers. Or little ones. And that’s actually comforting.

The First

The title for this blog, “A Kid Thing”, was something rolling around in my head as I posted on my previous blog, “The Me I Never Knew”. One day I felt like starting something new and now, many days later, I have returned to it. We’ll see what happens.

Talking to my therapist in the past year we got onto a thing of thinking about my younger self and how he would react to things or feel, and what choices he would make. That has become “What would little Jimmy do?” in my mind and I still practice it off and on. That, coupled with my fondness for the song “Kid Things” by The Counting Crows, is where I get the title.

My life right now is as follows: I am 38 years old, living in affordable housing, behind on my rent and several other bills, including two car payments (red Ford Focus SE Hatchback, thank you), I am married but separated for several years and have not filed any paperwork, I have my son, Joseph, 5 years old and awesome, half the time with debates and arguments about special occassions (I’m doing much better with that), my last dog died and I’m about to get a new one, I recently had a depressive episode that caused me to miss work for a week and a promotion opportunity, I eat and watch tv and play games on my phone. Oh and my dad has cancer and won’t be around much longer.

I changed my medicine, which I think is the main contributor to the depressive episode. I stopped taking something I’d taken for ten years and the remaining medicines were not kind of me in their resulting side effects. I’m going to my doctor on Friday to work on this. I want to take the right medicine or medicines and get to the best place I can be, rather than fumbling around and settling for whatever seems to be working. I like how the Zoloft has helped my anxiety and frustrations, but I don’t like the apathy I’m feeling, the root cause of my current problems. The question is, does the Bupropion exacerbate this and some adjustment should be made to the levels? Should one be cut out entirely? Is there something different entirely that could help? Maybe I need to replace the Zoloft. Time will tell.

Joseph has been playing t-ball lately. He’s such an awesome kid. He’s been making the wrong choices a lot lately, but he’s still mega-awesome. This weekend is probably the first in a while that we’ll be home instead of at my parents’, which is fine because we need to go to the library, and I could clean, and we need to go to parks and read and a million other things.

I had an idea for a children’s book about how zombies are people, too, and teaching them to do ordinary things.

Okay, I need to get back to work, but I’m going to try and write regularly because that helps. And eat better and read and get some exercise so I don’t die before Joseph gets to ten years old. Peace.