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Remembering Dads on that most dreaded of holidays, Mother’s Day

Where or where is all the love for fathers on Mother’s Day?

I can’t help but be struck by the disproportionate amount of praise and love being heaped on moms this Mother’s Day.

Frankly, it wears on me. Like a steady, high-pitched whine that never stops the whole day through.

I just don’t understand why we, as a society, forget about the contributions dads make to Mother’s Day.

Do you think those kids pick out that card themselves? No! Dad does!

Well, OK, in my case, the kiddos did pick out the card, but guess who drove them to the store?

And had to read a bunch of cards to them since they’re still illiterate?

And had to put up with their crazy antics in public?

And had to buy a card for his mom to boot?

So much work. So unfair.

Especially with my kiddos.

I tell you, I’m so glad I’m at work five days a week and not having to endure the demon spawn running around the house, yelling and screaming.

But hey, don’t think I don’t put in my fair share of parenting time. I do.

On evenings and those parts of the weekend when the kiddos aren’t at their grandparents.

Why, weeknights alone, I spend an hour or two with them, or keeping an eye on them, or an ear on them, before they go to bed.

It’s impossible to get anything else done. Heck, I can’t even watch the TV since the Missus expects me to entertain the little monsters while she makes and serves dinner.

It really stinks. At this rate, I’ll never find out how Lost ended.

(I’m sure it was an awesome series finale.)

And let’s not forget: I’m the one who has to read them a bedtime story.

That’s hard. They are terrible listeners, with the attention span of gnats.

I get so frustrated.

And then Mother’s Day comes along, and moms get all the praise.

Oh sure, moms are the one who get pregnant and carry the babies to term and go through childbirth and then hold, feed, clothe, hug, kiss, love, reassure, praise, cuddle, and whatnot the kiddos throughout childhood.

But it’s hard for us dads, too.

Pregnancy was no cake walk for me.

Awakened in the middle of the night while the Missus dealt with the wet (and dry) heaves of morning sickness?

Disruptive to my sleep patterns.

Napping fitfully next to the Missus’ hospital bed while she’s in labor for two days?

Really rough. And surprisingly uncomfortable. My back ached for days after.

Being awakened from a dead sleep every time the Missus got up to feed the kiddos in the night or change diapers?

Left me exhausted the following day.

Never getting to sleep in because the kiddos wake up at the crack of dawn, making so much noise they rouse the Missus who, upon rolling out of bed, wakes me in the process?

Unbearably inconvenient.

I could go on, but I think by now you’ve got a clear enough picture of men’s contributions to raising kids.

I tell ya, it hurts me. It hurts me right here, in the heart.

So this Mother’s Day, don’t forget the dads. The poor, lonely, sad, left out dads.

Today, make them feel like it’s Father’s Day.

 
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Posted by on 11 May 2014 in Life, Parenting

 

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Stop Treating Me Like An Idiot, Mainstream Television!

Yes, there were beautiful women in it.

Yes, I was mostly naked.

These two lines are extremely handy for starting blog posts that I don’t want friends, family, or, frankly, anyone who has seen me, reading. They see those first two lines, and assuming they don’t fall to the floor gibbering in primal horror while curling up into the fetal position, immediately take a pass on reading further.

Quite handy.

Oh sure, the next line, if I were being honest and they were still reading, would be:

No, I didn’t have any fun.

I’m talking about a dream I once had. I was hosting a bunch of people in my home: ex-girlfriends, beautiful women on twitter who I’ve never physically met before, and female strangers who were also pleasant to look at.

They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about me, even in my own damned dream. And how does this dream that started with so much potential wrap up?

With me. In bed. With a male friend and his male acquaintance.

Platonically, mind you. If I’m not having any of the funny stuff with the ladies in my dream, I sure as all heck am not having any of the funny stuff with the guys in the dream either.

I think the worst part of the dream is that I am so physically inadequate that none of the women in it noticed I wore a wide-open bathrobe and nothing else.

No admiration.

No shock.

Not even horror.

Blake Shelton Naked (not)

"Because remember, underneath our clothes, we're all ... naked!"

Yes, not even horror. Impressive physique or dreadful physique, at least that gets you noted. You register on whatever the female equivalent of the male attractiveness Richter scale is called. The Bradley Cooper Threshold? The Clooney Displacement? The Shelton Naked Scale?

(At last! A legitimate reason to use ‘Blake Shelton naked’ as a tag on this blog! Suck it, Blake Shelton fans!)

And I, in my own freakin’ dream, don’t register at all with these women. Not so much as a blip.

Humiliations galore.

Well, one of them did come to me and ask that I fix a leaky faucet.

I have leaky faucets at home, and this fact has managed to creep into every single dream I have. My sleeping life is like my waking life – an unmitigated horror of bad plumbing.

Naturally, when I wake up from this recurring dream, I am depressed.

Morose.

Adrift.

And like many unnoticed, alienated men, I turn to the one thing that might just cheer me up.

No, not the wife and kiddos. I said cheer me up!

No, not killing hookers. That’s even more depressing.

And a little creepy.

Not to mention, not something easy to do when one is feeling lethargic. At least, not if you don’t want to get caught.

Just a bad idea all around.

So yes, I turn to the only other alternative.

Television.

Oh, what a disappointment that turns out to be. Every time.

Which is why I think we need a television viewers Bill of Rights.

Plane passengers get one, right?

Consumers get one, yes?

Public utility rate payers are afforded this protection in some locales, correct?

Grover Norquist foisted one upon all the Republicans, didn’t he?

So why not TV viewers?

Therefore, without further ado, I present to you, dear readers, my TV Viewers Bill of Rights:

1) When you start a show, finish it. Don’t do a half-ass job of promoting it, then cancel it just as the fan base becomes rabid. You’ll piss off a lot of people and get a ton of hate mail.

2) If you broadcast a show on your network, and then do cancel it before all story arcs are resolved, you will make the resolution of those story lines known, either with a press release or a spin-off graphic novel or by going on The Ellen Show and announcing them.

Just don’t do it on Oprah. I don’t get OWN.

Unless it turns out the mark on the amnesic main character is an angelic glyph and his amazing intelligence came about because he was dead and in Heaven before coming back. That’s just lame and I’d prefer you keep it to yourself.

3) On a related note, if you start a sub-plot, and your show doesn’t get canceled, finish the damned sub-plot. Don’t have one of your main characters take his girlfriend into the future and then leave her there while he goes back to actually prevent that future from happening. Or if you do, at least explain why he couldn’t be bothered to go get her. Or even mention her again.

4) You will monitor twitter while your show is airing. Across time zones. Your lawyers will use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and any other douchey legal tools at hand to force all live-tweeters to Cease and Desist. The DMCA is a crap law, but we ought to get some good out of it.

5) Never, ever, EVER have something really bad and shocking happen, something cataclysmic that guarantees astronomical season finale ratings and has people talking at the water cooler for the duration of the rerun period, only to have it end up being a freakin’ dream. You do something bad ass, own it. If you don’t have the writing cojones (or ovaries) to write yourself out of it after the fact, don’t freakin’ do it to begin with.

6) Don’t swear up and down for the first four years of your show that the characters are not in Purgatory, are in fact alive, and all the events they are experiencing are real, only to actually kill them off and have them in Purgatory for the last season. That is beyond stupid, moron, and if you do end up doing it, please get lost.

7) For the love of all that is good, so-so, average, neutral, ambiguous, and even evil, do not have characters who fight end said fight with a passionate kiss and a tumble in bed/on the kitchen table/under the desk at work/in the Men’s Room stall at Grand Central Station.

That crap is totally cliché.

8) Don’t replace a character with another actor. If you have to, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Samantha really should have been wondering why her husband was suddenly slightly less effeminate, and, oh yeah, A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON!

And ya know what? My kids are still curled up underneath their cribs, blubbering on and on about what happened to Marina. God dammit, Nick Jr., you’re supposed to be all about the kids!

Jesus Christ, How Many Actors????

How do you plan to top eleven actors? Hire a TWELFTH?

Don’t even get me started about Doctor Who. They’re on their ELEVENTH actor playing the title role. Hello, the British pound is worth more than the dollar! You can afford to give your star a raise to keep him!

Come on! It’s not like you spent the money on special effects! At least, not for the first twenty-five years!

9) Finally, and most important, don’t insult the viewer’s intelligence. Some of us actually are smart, and can figure stuff out without being hit over the head with it. Try challenging us, make us work for the entertainment. We’ll be more vested in the show if you do. And if you’re worried about the stupid people, don’t. Just keep hiring sexy men and women in tight clothes to hold their attention.

But please, choose sexy men and women in tight clothes who can also act.

Feel free to print this out, sign it, get your kids and neighbors and pets to sign it, and then send it to:

Wil Wheaton
c/o NBC Universal
Quality Assurance Division
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Because NBC, through Wil Wheaton, is responsible for all TV shows. The illusion of other networks and foreign programming? All a vast conspiracy. But that’s the subject of a future blog post.

Now don’t any of you suggest a Blog Readers Bill of Rights. I can’t live up to those sorts of standards.

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Posted by on 20 March 2012 in Life, Other Blogs, Story

 

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Humiliations galore!

For years, I thought I had set an unbreakable record for personal humiliation, one I would never top.

There was a, for simplicity’s sake we’ll say contractor, at the company where I worked. I was still a (relatively) young man at the time, and I decided that I liked this contractor and I wanted to impress her.

This was a bad idea. My friends know that when I decide to impress someone, the fact that the effort is conscious means I’m doomed to a horrible failure.

To convince her that I was an all-around nice guy, I offered to guide her to another employee’s desk when she mentioned she had an appointment with that employee.

I got lost.

I got lost in my own building.

I got lost in my own building with the woman I was trying to impress in tow.

I still wince when I think about this moment.

You’d think getting laid off would be just as humiliating, but given the economic situation that surrounded my loss of employment, it wasn’t. I didn’t lose my job because of anything I did or didn’t do. I lost that job because the company failed.

(And I readily lay the blame for that failure on incompetent upper management.)

Not surprisingly, it required a state government agency to top my personal humiliation ‘best’.

When I was laid off from the aforementioned job, my wife was pregnant. So in addition to unemployment, we also qualified for something called WIC, or Women with Infants and Children. This is basically a food stamps program for families in need.

Using this program is also the most shame-inducing experience I have ever endured.

Here’s how it works: every month you are issued a stack of checks that list items you can buy with them. Each check is for a specific type of item or items. You cannot deviate from this in even the slightest way. If the check is for the orange box of steel milled oatmeal, God help you if you accidentally pick up the orange box of steel double milled oatmeal.

That’s confusing, but not the most humiliating part.

The most humiliating part is using the checks at the cash register.

Every check has to be rung up separately. If you are buying 20 items, and each check gives you three, were talking six or seven ring ups.

The cashiers don’t like this. A significant percentage of the cashiers make that clear to you, giving you “How dare you lose your job and have to rely on government assistance to feed you family when it is such an inconvenience to me?”

The people in line behind you don’t like this. A nonzero but certainly less significant percentage of these people make that clear to you too.

The system is designed to shame the user into not using the program. That’s the only conclusion I can come to. Other states have debit cards where you scan everything, swipe your debit card, and the items covered are automatically deducted from the bill.

One simple transaction. People behind you wouldn’t even know you were using government aid to buy your groceries.

For fuck’s sake, I live in California. In Silicon Valley. You know, High Tech central. But those checks were printed out on dot matrix printers. Yes, dot matrix.

I dreaded using these checks. I dreaded the dirty looks from the cashiers who, incidentally, also got in a lot of trouble if they miss processed any of these transactions, as several cashiers were happy to point out. One major store chain in has a policy to fire cashiers who screw up three times.

I also dreaded the impatient glares from the people behind me as well as the dawning realization in some of them that I was on government assistance.

I tried to go during non-peak hours, to minimize the likelihood of inconveniencing other shoppers. But the ring up process was so slow I always ended up having people queue up behind me. I warned people as they got in line, “No, you don’t want this line. I have WIC checks, and they take forever to ring up.”

I died a little each time that happened.

I not only felt like an abject failure in my personal and professional life, as a father-to-be and a breadwinner, but I also perceive myself to be getting in other people’s way. Which I most definitely was when I used those damn checks.

I’m lucky. I found work. I don’t need any government help now. But I do find it particularly painful to hear about all the cuts in these programs, and having to listen to some people call the unemployed ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’. I know from personal experience just how badly needed these programs are, and I know a huge number of unemployed people who are anything but lazy or unmotivated.

The worst part of it? Beyond the shame, using those checks destroyed my sense of worth and pride. But if I suddenly found myself in the same situation again, I would not hesitate to use that program again.

Why? Why would I put myself through that?

Same reason I endured it the first time:

Because my wife and children needed those checks. And for them, I will endure anything.

 
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Posted by on 11 August 2011 in Angst, Life

 

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