Monday, August 31, 2009

36 Hours of Needed Torture

From about 9 AM Friday morning as we were trying to leave for the Hospice groundbreaking until 9 PM Saturday night as I just finished up going through all of Hope's things I experienced what had to be the toughest 36 hours straight since Hope passed away and even comparable to any other period of the same except maybe that fateful Thanksgiving weekend in the ER. Let's start from the beginning, Friday morning at 10 AM was the hospice groundbreaking they asked me to speak and tell our story about our hospice experience. I was trying to slam out a project and then 9 AM came around and I realized not only did I need to leave in a few minutes but I hadn't prepared at all for what I would say. I was the same way for Hope's celebration, I had no idea what I was going to say until I jotted down a few notes over about a 15 minute period before we left back on January 11th and on Friday I only had the time during the 20 minute drive on the way up along with fielding phone calls. I was supposed to drive myself because I had a meeting immediately following but since I could not drive and write down any notes Erin was kind enough to do so so I had a few minutes to put thoughts together.

While I was thinking about our hospice experience I also was thinking about all of the groundbreakings I normally go to for projects. This one was different, it meant so much more. I had to get that point across along with our story. When we got there it was about 95 degrees with no breeze so everyone was warm. The turnout was incredible, easily a couple hundred people. They put me last on the list of 5 speakers which I thought was good, gave me a few more minutes to think about what I might say. Back to the the typical groundbreakings, I wear my company logo shirt, shake hands, fake smile, kiss babies, and say our company name as much as possible. I help people that recognize me but can't remember the name feel comfortable by telling them first, the typical politcal feel good drill. (By the way, my job is about 50% politics, 30% arguing/defending the project, and down to about 20% technical ability. You have to have the technical ability but after that it's 80 to 90% everything you do not learn in school. If I had one bit of advice for prospective civil engineers going private sector, it's make sure you can speak in front of others with spontaneity, make sure you can defend every decision, be practible about what's worth fighting for and what's not (if you can give on something small you can hopefully win on the big stuff most important to your client or budget or timeframe), use humor as much as you can to lighten the situation, and don't take it personal. I've been called a liar more times then I can remember, had the public yell at me, been threatened to the point that I was afraid to walk to my car, I have been accused of twice killing a neighbor to one of our projects by their spouse, and my favorite was that I was going to hell by a pastor/minister.) --- I'm telling you I'm getting much worse with long sidenotes.

Back to the speech, all the others were long drawn out thank you's. Right before I went up Ann-Marie who was sitting next to me told me not to mention penises and vaginas like I did at the church for Hope's celebration so then I really had nothing to say. I went up to the makeshift stage/podium and said I was the civil engineer of record for the project, recently had a hospice experience with the same group so much of the crowd was definitely friendly towards me before I even spoke, and then talked about how this groundbreaking was different, not wearing a logo shirt, not mentioning my company name (CEG), but was willing to kiss any babies available. I then mentioned our company name about 10 times during the presentation which always got a laugh, but only mentioned my wife and never her name. I talked about how my kids called hospice the potato chip place because they were always hopped up on chips on soda while there, gave intimate details about hopsice's first introduction to me, decorating Hope's room, making her comfortable, coming home, going back on Christmas eve, etc. In the end I said I never mentioned my wife's name, and it was HOPE. I hoped everyone could donate to the non-profit hospice, could hope to help others, and in case you missed it my company's name was CEG. I had so many people come up to me afterwards with kind words including one gentleman I worked with over 15 years ago that told me he was going to donate $1000 in Hope's name.

All in all it went well but it really took a toll on me mentally. Erin who had driven me there could see it at the end and started to make up a story about how late we were for the next meeting just to get me out of there. We went to the next meeting, and then on the way back to the office I met two of my partners that had been feuding for a 2.5 hour painful lunch discussion that was beneficial but produced less then I had hoped. Then it was back to the office and before I knew it I was sucked backed into another hour long discussion between the partners. I had absolutely nothing left in me mentally. That night I was looking forward to getting the band back together, Glen and Shannon, Jen, Roo, and Ann-Marie (a couple of others were supposed to come but never showed).

Roo and Man-Marie were with me every day at hospice and when Hope was home, and they started telling stories about her back then. Well Hope became angry and mean towards the end which is only to be expected, and of course it was nothing anyone took personally. However she did things that were just not her personality at all so they were telling story after story. I was laughing along with everyone but then the weight of the earlier part of the day and this discussion really started to bring me down. I felt so isolated, lonely, at times overwhelmed, and even felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack at one point. I went to the bathroom and by the time I got back the subject had changed so I started to feel better. It was one of the first times Roo and Ann-Marie had got together so it was only natural with a couple of other of Hope’s best friends they would talk about it. I wasn’t mad at all, just disappointed in myself. Ann-Marie confided in me that they changed the subject when I got up thinking it might be too much. You just have to love friends that know you so well. I've said it so many times, I'm one lucky dude no matter what I have been through and continue to experience.

That was nothing compared to Saturday. We did our normal play date at our neighborhood park first thing in the morning, had everyone back to our house for swimming and lunch until early afternoon. Then the boys were off to a friend’s house and Ann-Marie came over. We spent the next 6 hours going through everything of Hope’s from the shampoos in the shower, all of her jewelry, make-up, juices, creams, and then her entire closet. Both of us cried a lot, at times I was so overwhelmed I had to walk away and sobbed so hard I fell to the floor. Little things that reminded me of her just took me down like a pair of pajamas, unpacking her hospice bag which I had never done, unwrapped gifts, little memories that would not mean a thing to anyone else. I could not even see through my contacts anymore as everything became foggy. It was kind of like how Wayne saw Tina Carrere in the first Wayne’s World while Dream Weaver was playing over her hard rock music in his head. Except for me it wasn’t Dream Weaver, I was trying to let Hope go more in one major step.

It wasn’t all hard, we found things that made us laugh. At the end I have 6 huge black trash bags of clothes ranging in size from 10 to 2, and the 2’s toward the end were hanging off her like on Spongebob when the evil plankton shrinks every into being a baby. I am taking them today to a woman’s shelter. I imagine that is wear women go when they have no place else for retraining because they failed as a wife by not having dinner hot and ready when her man came home or to relearn how to vacuum, cook, fetch us slippers and another beer, and change the baby while we men get our much needed downtime by boozing and catching up on sports. Seriously it feels really good that we will be able to help so many women that have been through tough times at the shelter and I know Hope would be proud to do it. Now people need help more then ever. We put together one large tupperware tub of the things that reminded us the most of Hope. That way in the future I could go through it with the boys. We saved her other favorite clothes to make 2 quilts and 2 teddy bears, one each for the boys.

We have a few other things to take to Goodwill and back to the American Cancer Society, but those will have to be another day as we are out of room in her Durango. Then came the toughest part of the entire weekend. I had picked up the boys, got them to bed, and was by myself in the house. After over 12 years of never taking it off, rubbing it incessantly through some of my hardest hours when Hope was dying, fidgeting with it all the time when I was bored or nervous about something, I finally took my wedding ring off. It feels so strange, I imagine what a dog feels like after they’re neutered. You’re sniffing around and running aimlessly as you know something is missing that was such a huge part of your life for so long, but yet it’s something relatively minor to everyone else in the world. That night was one of the hardest ever, just walking towards her closet and seeing the stark white walls I would start to cry. Hope’s mom came over the next day to get some things I thought she’d want and she could not even go near the closet. My mom came over later and just sobbed too when she saw it. It’s something that had to happen some time and has been hanging over my head for 7 months, but it was much harder to do then I ever imagined. I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about it and I’m crying just trying to type this blog, but I know it’s a major step in my progress. I don’t love or miss her any less, but I am one major step closer to being whole again without her here physically which is something we talked about over and over again as she was passing away.

So the next morning like a moron I decided to go through the entire kitchen too. I put together another huge bag of good for Goodwill as I spent 4 hours or so doing that. I’m still not sure how I feel about all of this, except that I am relieved that I did it. I will never be able to thank Man-Marie enough for being here to do it. My finger feels weird, I feel like I’m parading through town without pants on. Some people I saw on Sunday noticed right away, others either didn’t notice or didn’t say anything. I still feel foggy on Monday after so much emotion over the weekend but especially that first 36 hours Friday and Saturday. I talked it all through with the boys and they’re good with it, but we had a really tough on me conversation over breakfast Sunday morning about why I took the ring off, about how much I’ll always love Mommy, that some day they could have a stepmom as Nathan asked me that directly, even though we talked about it before. I walked them both through her closet, showed them the stuff we kept and what we’re giving away to help others that need it like giving kids with no toys our old toys. We do that every Christmas and they love to get thank you’s and sometimes pictures depending if we pick a certain family or just give to a charity.

I think they get it, I’m still working on it, but I know the fog will clear, my finger will tan or probably burn the first time it sees the sun, that sick feeling will leave my stomach, and I can slowly start looking for Ms. Right or Ms. Rightnow according to Robin Williams (the first time I typed that I put in Mrs. instead of Ms. and luckily not Mr. so just to be clear I’m not looking for married women or men, at least not right now --- okay just to be clear not married or single men, no men at all but not that there’s anything wrong with that). My 36 hours of torture is over, now the hard part really begins…

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hairy Penis?

I came home from work the other day after spending half the day at construction job sites sweating with water pouring off me as badly as Rambo in First Blood when Brian Denehy was spraying him down naked with a fire hose (by the way is anyone suprised he was roiding up looking back at these movies? --- maybe it affects your speech too except that Hulk Hogan never stops talking so I'll have to rethink that theory, "Bottom line brotha'...") so I could not wait to change clothes and jump in the pool. The boys always come running out to the garage when they hear me open the door and attach themselves to me like Scooby Doo in Shaggy's arms (Zoik's and Barnacles are my two favorite cartoon expressions for those of you wondering and I'm sure it's been eating at you to know) normally as I have to start walking around like Frankenstein just to balance myself. Anyway on this day Reese followed me into my bathroom where I changed clothes to get my bathing suit on and he asked, "Daddy why do you have a hairy penis?" As I promised Hope I would do I was completely honest and explained to him puberty, showed him hair under my arms, my chest, goatee, my ears and nose unfortunately.

That reminded me of two stories I told at Hope's celebration. One was when I told the kids they could no longer use potty language unless they were in the bathroom (I remember in my head at the time thinking I'm the greatest parent ever and this is really easy to do) so Reese promptly went over the to bathroom, stuck just his foot in it, and said "Daddy is a poopyhead." To this day that's still our rule because I love that he outsmarted me. The second was a time when Natedog asked what sex was. This was when Hope was alive but she could not really talk because of her tongue surgery. So I went on to explain in front of her about penises, vaginas, when two people really love each other or have too much to drink (maybe that wasn't word for word) and covered the other basics. When I was done with the uncomfortable discussion he said to me, "I thought it was just if you were a boy or a girl." Hope laughed as I just blushed before she feverishly wrote down on her note pad to always ask what they think it is first. She was the best mom ever right up to the end, and I'm now withdrawing my name for consideration in the parenting hall of fame.

I went to the kids two open houses back to back this week and while I love all 3 of their teachers (Nathan has 2 because he's in a combined first and second grade class) the open houses are so uncomfortable. They're informative but when you're as tall as me and sit for 120 minutes in those tiny chairs with tiny tables you cannot tuck your legs under you feel like a fat guy in a little coat (classic Tommy Boy line that my boys now quote since they've seen the movie (thank you Maria for the prompting) --- Nathan all the time now points to his cheek and says ..."not here, not here, but right here."). In their classrooms I felt like the tiny hand guy in the Burger King commercials holding the double cheeseburger. By the way, don't we all have a friend we remember with tiny hands or feet? It was Rambling Randy when we were growing up, he could trade shoes with any girl in our class. Hope had the longest fingers and Jennifer (I'll leave the last name out to protect the innocent) had the shortest. Why do I remember such useless information???

I was paying some bills earlier tonight and I always think it's funny that because Hope was so ultra organized last year she ordered holiday stamps and sticker return addresses from the Wise Family with pictures of all 4 of us with santa hats on in order to get a head start on Christmas cards. Of course we never got to those last year but now every bill I pay I put the Christmas return address sticker on the envelope along with a Christmas stamp. Does anyone write real letters anymore or is it just twitters, FB messages, and if you're really old school e-mails and blogs? I have to admit I'm a texting addict and I've been told by the ladies I give good text. Then they tell me how they "just want to be friends." Oh my God it's just like junior high and high school all over again. "It's not you, it's me." "I value our friendship too much to risk losing it over a relationship." "You're ugly and will never amount to anything." The last one was from Mom when I was feeling down. I'm sure you meant that to motivate me Mom, right? Right!?!

I took the boys with some friends to a minor league baseball game last night. They loved it. They each caught a foul ball (I still never have despite going to dozens of games in my lifetime --- the closest I ever got was on dollar Corona night when I was in the beer line and one landed in front of me, I saw it, focused in on it, looked closer, looked around, thought about my bible studies I had spent most of my day focusing on earlier, and then proceeded to slowly bend over to pick it up when I put my hand on top of another man's. It felt like one of those uncomfortable Bromance moments from the movie I Love You Man and somehow I missed the ball. The other second closest time was when I was getting a beer and food (notice a theme) at a Red Sox Spring training game and upon my return the older gentlemen we had made friends with told us Tony Pena hit a foul ball that bounced off my seat. I'm sneaking into their rooms tonight and stealing their balls to call them my own the lucky little punks. Of course now they'll expect to get balls every game and probably be upset if they don't get one. Oh well, for one night they both ran around like they just beat Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

That reminds me of when Hope recovered after her second battle with cancer I had missed a lot of work and my office really stepped up to help out. As a thank you I bought a suite for a game and took the entire office. While I made the reservation they asked me why and I explained Hope's situation. I then asked if there was any way she might be able to throw out the first pitch. They agreed. As always I was running late so I was hurrying Hope to the field and down to third base where they told me to be for her throw it out. I knew she would never do it if I told her ahead of time so I didn't. Nathan was scurrying behind us at only 3 years old and as she's asking me why we're going down here instead of up to the suite she hears over the PA system, "and throwing out the first pitch tonight Hope and Nathan Wise." She grabs my hand with the meanest look she could ever muster (it was still somewhere between Mary Poppins and Mrs. Doubtfire because Hope just couldn't be mean) and says sternly with a squeeze so hard I swear her fingernails touched through the middle of my arm, "What did you do?!?" She's then hurried out to the mound and proceeds to throw out the first pitch. Nathan was so scared he refused to throw a ball. The catcher then came up, gave them both a ball, and then pulls out an autographed jersey by the entire team. Someone else in my office had called ahead, told them Hope's story, and they decided to do the jersey on their own.

The second movie I have rented since Hope passed was a horror movie which Hope and I love to watch together. Give her a Saw movie, Exorcist, or I Know What You Did Last Summer and she's good to go. By the way who doesn't love a Jennifer Love movie (Hope was a junkie when it came to watching Party of Five and Jennifer Love Hewitt used to be on my list so I only call her Jennifer Lovvvvve to this day) when she's running around in the rain in a white wife beater tank top? Now that's script writing! Anywho, I rented my first horror movie since she passed and I found myself in Blockbuster talking to Hope like I used to on my cellular while she sat in the car with the kids telling her we were going to watch the movie together tonight, just the two of us. I even made my old school popcorn instead of microwave popcorn with real kernels on the stove top like we used to every night in college. It felt like just the two of us that night and I had no regrets that I stayed in even though both boys were spending the night elsewhere. I previously blogged about all of the tough qualities someone would have to overcome to fall in love with me, and this just adds to the list. I know I'm a work in progress at best but I truly feel great and better every day right now.

Today is the hospice groundbreaking for the new building. They asked me to be the last speaker and I haven't even thought about what I'm going to say. I feel so good helping families in need like we were last November and December. I will always be indebted to the Wuesthoff Hospice staff as most of your probably read before in my fundraising letter I wrote to help them out. I just Hope I keep it together like I somehow did for Hope's celebration, I know she'll be there giving me strength. Hope's Mom, my mom, and Hope's best friend Man-Marie will all be there. I've probably donated close to $10k in company time to this project and could not feel better about despite the fact we're hurting so much for work right now. I even offered to purchase 12 flat screen TV's for the 12 individual rooms so the families can have more room and not need large TV cabinets. They did so much for us there is no dollar amount you can put on it. Think of me and send me strength at 10 AM this morning.

In my last blog I talked about how I'm going back much closer to the old me. We've been doing just that. In fact since last Friday I went out with a great friend and my neighbors to listen to live music on the river and then struggled to find real food late before finally settling in on some BBQ; Sat morning we did the sports neighborhood ball playing then had everyone back to our house for a huge pool party and lunch until late afternoon; then we went to Melbourne Beach because the waves were huge due to Hurricane Bill with some friends staying over there as Natedog spent the night, Reese went to Gran's, and I rented the horror movie; Sunday morning I cleaned out and reorganized the garage as it rained; Sunday early afternoon Reese and I borrowed John's truck and added a new 8-foot tall member to our family you just have to come by and see to believe; then late Sunday afternoon back to the beach for the rest of the night for a birthday party for one of Natedog's friends. Monday after work was hairy penis night as we swam in the pool, Tuesday was the two open houses, Wed was the baseball game, Thursday I grilled chicken and made the fancy mac and cheese before we went to Home Depot and Marble Slab for way too much ice cream, tonight we're getting the band back together (who doesn't love the first and only in my opinion Blue's Brothers movie?) with about a dozen high school friends as Glen is visiting from Alabama, Saturday morning we're doing the sports again, Saturday mid-day until late Ann-Marie and I are going through Hope's things for the first time (thanks to Tracy at the kids' school I'm back on track to get that done and do a quilt or two of her clothes), and Sunday we're going back to the beach.

I'm only telling you this because I'm back baby, just like Paul Newman at the end of Color of Money (by the way I don't think Tom Cruise gets enough credit for being such a good actor --- I know it was a stretch for him to play a cocky young guy in that movie which was so different then Top Gun, Risky Business, Jerry Maguire, Mission Impossible, A Few Good Men, Days of Thunder, Cocktail, and even the old school movies like The Outsiders and the football movie when he grew up in the mining town (it was like Varsity Blues only different in so many ways --- don't you love when people describe something like that?) Okay, maybe it's not always a stretch the roles he's played but I still think almost all of his movies are great to outstanding and even though Eyes Wide Shut was horrible thank you Nicole Kidman). Wow, my wandering thoughts are getting worse. I have to go wake up the kids for school, my hairy penis and I are going to suck the life out of every moment today and over the weekend once again. I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch with the greatest family of five here at the house (you can't forget Mocha Polka and of course our newest edition next time you visit which by the way is named Uncle Mert and when you come by I'll tell you why).

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Time is such a simple concept, kids get it when they're young, we all rely on it everyday in almost every aspect of our life, and even though it's our single most valuable resource we don't seem to appreciate it enough and so many of us take it for granted. "I'll have time later," "Not now I don't have time," "It's time for bed so stop having fun," and my favorite "time out" like you're stopping time in it's place. The boys normally do that when I'm about to slam them, throw them across the pool, or during an MMA event when Icarly is fighting Shelby Marks she just calls time out and nobody knows if that is against the rules or not. I love blogging, love spending time with the boys, love playing and watching sports, love just hanging with friends in almost any social situation, love seeing and talking to family via phone or even better during visits, and love potato chips, popcorn, movies, the female body, being outside, exercising my brain and what's left of this body, parts of my work, landscaping at home, playing, and most importantly as I tell the boys all the time I love loving. I love when they give me some sugar as Hope always put it.

So this weekend I decided while sitting at a picnic bench with some friends in my neighborhood (more on that later) that I'm not quite going all the way back to the old me but getting pretty close again. I'm done with the staying quiet at home and trying not to do too much shit because it's just not me. Being boring is boring and I'm not boring. I spent all day today working on the pool deck and in the yard while I wasn't playing with the kids and then decided to have an impromptu cookout. I called 5 sets of friends and 4 came over within a few hours (actually a couple had called me earlier in the day and I wanted to call a couple more but just ran out of time), I told them 4:30 to 5 and did not get back from the grocery store until 4:50 PM. Luckily they all know me well enough to not show up on time. We had 17 for dinner on the spur of the moment, and all I had to buy was buns, steak, and green beans. The rest we already had, my recycle bin is full of beer bottles, we ate like kings steak, brats, dogs, mac and cheese, pilaf, and thanks to my neighbors yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Everyone seemed to have a great time and that's just what I love to do. The boys enjoyed, and that's how I want to spend my time.

I have said many times on this blog that 2009 sucks and I just want it over. Hope passed, the economy sucks, I felt overwhelmed at times keeping up with everything, so I just wanted time to pass faster to get to the point that I knew I would feel better and be doing better. Rach was the first to tell me to enjoy the journey more, not concentrate on the finish line. She's right, I don't want 2009 to end, I want it to slow down, and let me catch up with everything I've missed. I want my boys to enjoy themselves and their friends more and most importantly spend more time with me. I rented a movie for the first time since before Hope passed when I was sitting at hospice for days on end and it was I Love You Man, a real bromance as I remember the previews said. It was okay, nothing compared to the Hangover, Fletch, Tommy Boy, the first Naked Gun, A Fish Called Wanda, Wedding Crashers, or any of the other classic comedies. However I could relate to the guy, trying to make new friends, fitting in with a new set of personal circumstances, etc. except for the part when the guy tongue kissed him after dinner. That part I don't relate to yet, but if my lack of success with women continues I might just try switch hitting.

A friend Judy had an awesome idea since my fam and some others are not playing any sports this fall we should just get together and play with our own kids. This last Sat morning was the first ever playground get together and it was great. We played soccer mostly, but brought footballs, frisbees, dodge balls (who doesn't love this sport from my generation, any chance to whiz a ball as hard as you can just for the chance to nail someone in the family jewels --- I remember Mr. Beeker at Audubon Elementary School when I first moved to Florida whizzing the ball as hard as he could at us kids. I remember nailing him at least once as he tried to leap over the ball but it rose because I threw side arm sometimes and I'm not sure if he was able to have kids after that experience.) We played rents against the kids and the kids of course dominated with the exception of a kick from Tom the entire length of the field. Afterwards all of the kids piled into Todd's truck to go about 500 feet to the playground.

Which of course got us onto the subject of when we were kids we all rode everywhere in the back of trucks. My brother even fell out of a truck once on the way to a canoeing trip. He seemed fine, we certainly didn't want that to hold us up from getting up there, and now that I think of it the fall actually explains a lot about his behavior and decision making over the last two decades. Now all you see in the back of trucks is the occasional dog and rent-a-bum day workers on their way to a job. Otherwise, and I'm not sure if it's against the law or not, it just doesn't happen anymore. Hell, you even have to wear a helmet bike riding, skateboarding, scootering (I think I just made up that word), and even horseback riding. Do they wear them sledding, snow boarding, and skiing now too? Pretty soon we'll have to wear them driving, diving in the pool, or playing on the playground. Not in my day, it was I hope you didn't get that shirt dirty when you fell out of the tree.

The other day I had city council meeting so Reese went from babysitter in the morning, to nanny in the afternoon, to Gran in the evening and when Gran was tucking Reese into bed he said the sweetest thing. "Dad did not get to play with me all day" in the most sympathetic voice for me possible. He was worried about me because I did not get to enjoy playing with him. That's exactly how I feel on those types of days as I'm sure all parents do but he actually gets it and put it into words. Amazing! He also said the other day out of the blue that he wants to see mommy when she comes back alive. Now we taught him growing up and I still believe that you leave your body but your soul continues to live and someday you are reborn into a new body but with your same soul. I believe this because I believe we've all had past lives. Now I don't think we were all famous people as so many like to talk about. That got me thinking though, how do I know this will happen, how long does it take if it does happen, does that mean Hope won't possibly be there for me when I eventually pass away, or do we all make up this shit just to make ourselves feel better about the unknown. I can tell you this with all certainty (and if you read my hospice letter or blogs after Hope passed you know it's true) that Hope left this Earth for a much better place the way she looked at me one last time, smiled, and then simply left her body. That moment was unforgettable as she had not opened her eyes in many days, smiled in weeks, and the peacefulness of the moment gave me peace in my heart.

Back to the boys as I wipe away my tears because the monitor is getting foggy, they had a stuffed animal party the other day. They gathered up every stuffed animal in the entire house and put them on the family room couch. They then began collecting my underwear, dirty or clean, from the entire house and started wrapping up the animals in them. They kept laughing and saying the animals like my underwear. So next time you come over and want to help out picking up a stuffed animal you may want to reconsider unless you want to touch my underwear. Now if that is the case please come on over ladies.

Speaking of underwear, the other night Reese was in the bathroom before bed and had pooped but did not ask me to wipe his bum. I asked him about it and he said I didn't need to. So we went back in the bathroom and sure enough he tried a bit to do it himself. Their was toilet paper and poop everywhere, on the toilet, on the floor, in the waste basket, on the rug, etc. I was furious and spent at least 30 minutes cleaning up poop on everything. He just said he did not think he needed to wipe. So I then quizzed him mercilessly about asking for Daddy or whatever safeside adult is with him to help, did you ever do this before ("No daddy, no" repeatedly), what do you do when you start school on Monday (his answer for the record at first was "not tell anybody.") So we went through why it's so important to get help even at school and that when he gets older he'll learn to do it himself and most importantly was to verify once again this was definitely the only time he had done it before ("yes daddy.")

At this point he's 30 minutes late to bed so I take him upstairs and make him pee one last time as we do every night and what do I find in the upstairs bathroom? That's right, but this time it's dried up poop and toilet paper all over the place. Do you have any idea how hard it is to clean up day old dried up poop? Well let me tell you it's that's some hard shit. I'm not sure if I was more mad at the rock hard stick to whatever surface you find poop or the fact that he lied to me about never doing this before. I just lost it, cleaned it all up, tucked him in, and then proceeded to call my neighbor and tell her the entire story. She laughed so hard that I could not help but to calm down. The next day the nanny was changing his bed and found a wadded up pair of underwear under his bed that had dried up poop in it. The nanny deserves a raise already and since I was not drinking anymore I think I pulled enough hair out to look like Ed O'Neill (Al Bundy from Married with Children). By the way I saw a preview for a new show where he plays an old man married to a young hot chick. That's what I'm hoping for, a 25 year-old millionaire temptress with bad eyes and no taste that will sweep me off my feet.

What else? Oh thank you Whitney after my last blog she brought me flipside crackers and triscuits as a thank you for watching her daughter a few different days as she set up her new classroom. One night I didn't feel like cooking so I took her two kids and mine to a restaurant by myself. The five of us had the coolest conversations and one uncomfortable trip to the bathroom because I could not leave any behind and she has one daughter. So there's five of us in the bathroom together, with only one urinal and one handicap stall. Needless to say that's just one more reason I'm glad I don't have a daughter.

If Lynn in Tampa reads this blog, please send me your e-mail address. I intentionally did not respond to your first comment on the blog because you were newly diagnosed and had only read enough of the blog to see when Hope was doing well. You had not read at that point that she did eventually pass away. I cannot respond to comments on the blog and I'd like to talk to you via e-mail or more to see if I can help you or your family in any way. Our situation was very unique, and we learned so much we just want to help others. Please contact me again so maybe we can help you. Hope and I are both in much better places now, and hopefully your family can do much better then us.

Time, I'm out of it for tonight. I really do feel good, like I'm back more then ever, and I'm going to spend my time the way I want to as much as I can. I've followed the path of craziness, boringness, and now I'm seeking out one level below craziness. I'm looking for love in all the wrong places (that should be a country song and probably already is) so I'm going to search inward and play outward with the boys. Time to go, my time is up, timeout, and it's time for me to move on. Hope like I tell you every night, I love you like water, I miss you, I must move on, and I am ready to do that hopefully when time gives me the chance. I'm holding onto the rest of 2009, it's going to be a hell of a fun ride.

Tina freaking call me, Anna/Will get your asses down here and I'm thinking about your neighbor too, Ann-Marie I love you and I need you next weekend to go through Hope's stuff if you're ready, Rochelle it was great to see you even though I know you don't read this, Mom I love you and don't say it enough, Andrea I know you don't read this anymore for your own reasons but I will always be grateful, Gran and Grandmama the boys love you so much and we hope to make a trip up this year to see Grandmama, Rach keep Sister Hazel rocking, Jess and Joe you are about to initiate the most amazing experience of your life and none of us could be happier for the most deserving Mom I've ever known at the same time Pat and Danielle are close to doing the same, Gram and Gramp I still think of you every day and miss you at times as much as Hope, Sarah I think about you all the time too but don't make the connection like I should and there is nothing in this world I regret more, Dad I miss you even though you are still around, Dennis even though I never say it thank you for making Mom happy and giving us security in insecure times, Kurt I love you and you have helped me more then you will ever know, Luke you better get me Adam's e-mail address soon, Domingo and Marianne I'm sorry and I hope you are both in better places now, Shelby and Lauren I think of you guys all the time and wish I could do something to make it easier, Kari I hope you find your happiness in whatever your next adventure brings you, Kris thank you for calling, Maria I'm worried about you and want to help but I'm not sure what I can do (just know I think about you all the time), Christy your visit was inspiring and incredible, Scott and Amy we have to find a way to do it more often (and I have no idea if you guys read this), Whitney thank you for the lists and so much more, and to Natedog and Pieces I love you more than life itself and know that everything I do, I do it for you (I think I stole that line from Bryan Adams or was it Meatloaf --- by the way Hope and my song was Paradise by the Dashboard Lights by Meatloaf, if you don't know it download it and if you haven't heard it in a while play it again). That reminds me of the old BJ (bungee jumping according to Anna) 105 radio station call-outs, which is where I called to play "You're the Inspiration" by Chicago to Karen when we were dating in 5th grade. I still know every lyric to that song. Finally getting back to time, I wish I had more of it with Hope but also everyone else referenced in this e-mail tonight. I love you all and it's time I appreciate that more.

- Just Jake.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts

I sent an e-mail response to a friend today that they had in one long run-on sentence paragraph (a fellow let it all go at once typer) given me about 3 or 4 "holy shit I can't believe that's all going on at once and I'm just hearing about it now" moments. I was in a hurry because the kids were putting shoes on to go outside for a bike ride, to shoot some hoops, and then swim. Anyway I did it in bullet form like I was writing a boring engineering memorandum because everyone loves lists, pictures, tables and graphs and almost everyone hates long paragraphs to read (then why is it again anyone reads my blogs --- I may have to rethink my own logic there). So I thought I'd try it tonight like this:
  • Nathan and Reese had their registration for school today, Natedog is in the same class as last year as they combine 1st and 2nd graders but Reese is at the big boy school this year and he got to meet his new teacher. Natedog starts on Monday, I can't believe summer ends so soon for us nowadays. At least we get out in February for summer break...
  • I had drinks one night with Reese's teacher so I got to know her pretty well after one of the fundraisers we did a few months ago. I know she can handle 4 year olds and her booze, a good combo as long as it's not at the same time.
  • My A/C is fixed as of Monday afternoon. The bill is going to be so large they could not even leave me an estimate. Am I in the wrong business? You work your ass off for about 6 hot months and then you basically have the next 6 off because nobody cares if their A/C goes out for the other half of the year. Sign me up!
  • If you haven't tried Flipside crackers, half pretzel, half cheddar, half amazing (that makes 150% cracker for you math people --- I know Dennis and Kris you don't get that one).
  • When should I start Nathan and Reese on allowances? They want everything now and I make Nathan pay for things with the money he has but I think if he earned it he and Reese would do better with the asking for everything mentality. What chores should he get paid for as he already has a bunch he has to do for nothing? Come on Mom's out there, help a new mom/dad out.
  • The nanny (I feel like a snob saying I have a nanny) started Monday and she's been great. They checked out 16 library books and already read most of them. I haven't read that many books in my life unless cliff notes or subtitles count.
  • Since the A/C went out I bought the kids back to school clothes last weekend (anything with air was great to visit). I had everything washed this morning and they loved wearing them all day, they went through about 3 pairs of shorts, 3 or 4 shirts, and a bathing suit each today. Now I have to do all that damn laundry again but they loved it.
  • No I don't, the nanny does (okay I have to start calling her something else because it reminds me of Fran Drescher which by the way I'm very proud of the fact that I never once watched an episode of her show although I did love her as an interview on the Howard Stern show --- how about paid grandma instead of nanny? Nope sounds like a prostitute fetish.)
  • By the way, I haven't heard Howard since he went to Sirius but nobody can argue he wasn't one of the best interviewers ever except maybe an early, early David Lettermen. He doesn't care if he offends you at all and nothing is off base although sometimes he goes over the top with the sexual stuff.
  • Speaking of which, when is anonymous numbers 1 and 2 going to reveal themselves to me (physically or just your name would be cool)? I've been lonely, but in a good way.
  • Over the last 2 weeks since my brother left I have stayed home or done something with just the boys or a couple of their friends every night but one. I have not drank at all except for over the weekend a couple of times and wine at Carrabba's with my mom. She's a lush so I have to indulge her (actually one glass and she's good, two and then I have one kid on each leg and Nana around my neck as I try to walk out --- a cheap date though, way to go Dennis and that just doesn't sound right about my mom).
  • Speaking of when my brother visited, I introduced him to the world of all female roller derby. Even though my first experience included being forced to drink Bud Lime it was incredible so I had to share. If you've never attended it's something that just has to be added to your bucket list. I've added quite a few items onto my bucket list but many not even I can share with some of the folks that read this blog --- I mean do you know how many midgets and donkeys read this thing?
  • I'm sure you've figured out I don't edit these, use spellcheck and the backspace is almost never touched. Whatever the freak flows out in my mind is typed with the speed of Jacob Ellsbury, Rajon Rondo, or at least everyone knows the Randy Moss reference.
  • By the way Randy Moss went to FSU for about 2 weeks as a freshmen. He was already being compared to Neon Deion Sanders when he had to go back to his high school to serve a weekend jail sentence for a fight. He knew he'd be drug tested but lit up anyway with his old running buddies from high school so they had to cut him and the rest is history.
  • Speaking of lit up, I have the munchies like I was toking. I've moved on from Flipsides to carrots with hummus. I love hummus, and how much do you love now that you can buy pre-cut, pre-peeled carrots. In my day we had to wash the dirt off them, peel the skin off the carrot and your thumb sometimes, cut the top and bottom, and if you had a skinny one you almost didn't get to eat anything. Man kids today don't know how good they've got it!
  • That was a theme in my last blog, and I got some great responses. One friend did their thesis on the subject, another compared Atari to the Wii (remember on Atari you were just a square and you could not win games, it just got harder and faster until you were killed --- kind of like life), we didn't have remotes so channel surfing did not exist (plus we only had about 8 stations unless we would hold the antennas no matter how much aluminum foil we tried), and there was no caller ID or call waiting, you got a busy signal and you had no idea who it was until you picked up the phone.
  • I've thought of a few more, such as we had to actually go to an encyclopedia to look shit up (how many of your kids have even seen one before?) since the internet did not exist, I remember taping on cassettes songs off the radio (I was always slow and missed the very beginning of the song) and HBO comedy concerts instead of just downloading, we used phone books, and and in order to see boobs we went to National Geographic instead of googling Pamela Anderson and all the ones we saw were real.
  • I somehow melted Nathan's new zoo water bottle in the dishwasher, please don't tell him but it went from Bill Russell to Gary Coleman in there.
  • Back to my quiet 2 weeks here, it's been good. I'm almost caught up on things I'd been putting off way too long and we've had fun. Tonight the boys rode bikes and scooters while I jogged down to where we saw 4 deer including a fawn. They kept watching us but let us get within about 40 feet of them. I needed to slow down a bit and refocus again. Although Whitney was asking me how it was going a couple of days ago and I asked her, is that what normal people do because it's boring a lot? I don't ever want to become one of those full fledged adults.
  • I still haven't watched any TV except for the end of a couple of sporting events, 6 or 8 Family Guys while folding laundry, and the occasional Spongebob with the boys which I believe is now on 24 hours per day. I thought about canceling cable but football season is coming including FSU/Miami in prime time baby opening Labor Day weekend! And while I'm at it, Tom Brady has something to prove so look out record books.
  • I do get very lonely at night. I called about a half dozen friends/family members last night that I thought would be up late and not one answered. I really want back what I used to have and I am scared I will never find it again. My mom waited 10 years before she found the right guy after my Dad walked out on us when I was 2 and Kurt was 1. I want to fall head over heels in love with just the right person (I actually do mean woman despite my 2 Keys trips this summer) that will get me (good luck with that!), love my children like their own, be spontaneous and funny, enjoy sports and horror movies, not have very high standards for men, always has soft hands and great lips because hand and lips are by the far the most important two physical attributes on any women in my opinion (see I can actually say something serious about body parts and not mention boobs --- dammit I almost made it), and most importantly be filthy rich so I can retire.
  • I am accepting applications, please include pictures, videos, and measurements of your bank account size.
  • Speaking of nighttime, after I tuck the boys in I now sit at the top of the stairs by myself in the dark and talk to Hope. I just feel like I'm closer to her up there and that was always her favorite room in the house (come to think about it that should feel like a blow to my ego since the bedroom was not her favorite).
  • Damn I just finished the box of Flipsides (yes I switched back for the salt) and I don't drink coffee or much other caffeine but I'm still wide awake.
  • That reminds me of one of my favorite comedian lines, "I like my coffee like I like my women, with big boobs." Now that's comedy.
  • I don't have any Triscuits, no house should ever run out of Triscuits. Can somebody come over and watch the kids so I can run to the 24-hour Walmart?
  • By the way, have you ever hit Walmart from about 1 AM until 3 AM? What a freak show! It's surprisingly busy and it's always hilarious watching drunks argue with the checkout lady that they should be able to buy 4 bottles of Riesling at 2:01 AM no matter what Sam Walton says. I love that they have 230 employees across the store stocking and blocking aisles so that it's like a labyrinth to find the freaking milk as you find yourself climbing up stacked pallets of sloppy joe and lima bean cans (who the hell is buying this stuff anyway that they need 8 feet high stacks of them?) just in hopes of finding your way out of the maze. Then you get to the 80 checkout lines after snaking (I hate snakes, I mean meandering like I like my sidewalk designs) and there is one checkout girl (230 employees and one checkout girl, really Sam!?!). I remember one time I was in a hurry and a woman in front of me was short on cash so she was trying to decide what to put back and asking the price of everything. Finally I just gave her the money she needed so I could get home for the 4 AM Sportscenter.
  • It may not sound like it but I do love my life. I've been through hell not only with Hope but also some other tough times. I appreciate so much the kids, family and amazing friends I am lucky enough to have. Despite the tough times we are still hanging in there even though it's still extremely tough at work. Some day I hope I get to share it again with the right person but for now I need to just appreciate more what I have now. One day at a time, no fast forwarding, enjoy the moment because you just never know.
  • The Hangover is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. How did that idea not come out sooner??? It's the only movie I've seen this year I think although we almost made it to Ice Age 2 last weekend.
  • When the hell is Dustin Diamond's tell-all book coming out about Saved by the Bell?
  • Would someone write the same book about Knight Rider? What was Bonnie really like when she didn't have the lone grease swipe across her cheek and how did Devin Knight make his fortune? Was the Hoff just as cool in person and did he actually jump off the dressing room sink to get into those jeans? Is the new series off the air yet, how about the Geico ape men TV show? I really think the english accented talking gecco would have been a better show. I never got to watch either but it's amazing someone gets a paycheck for these ideas.
  • Speaking of ideas, I had one the other day as I took the ferry over to Amelia Island. You could have a James Bondesque chase scene in cars and then they get on the ferry, bumper to bumper, but aren't allowed to get out of the vehicles so they just yell at each other through the windows. Then the ferry ties off and away they go.
  • Finally I had only 2 comments from my last blog and I really enjoy the feedback so please keep them coming. If you can't figure out how to comment as many have told me e-mail me at Send porn, remember I'm lonely.

I really am feeling better, it amazes me how much the human psyche can affect a person. I was much more of a mess then I ever thought I was at the time but I think nature does that on purpose because then you would just freak out and get worse. Now I just can reflect back to what a nut job I was as all of you knew and didn't call me out. Thanks, I think.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sweating to the oldies and everything else

I'm actually listening to Counting Crows, My Friend Steve, Death Cab for Cutie, Bob Marley, Matchbox 20, and Steve Miller Band right now (i.e. not Richard Simmons in his short shorts) but our A/C went out on Saturday AM so we are literally sweating to everything. We have two A/C units for our house and one of the controllers would not work so I messed with the other one trying to figure out what was wrong with the first. Well I fucked up the other one so as of Saturday morning we had no A/C in the house at all and August in FLA is not quite as enjoyable without it as I'm sure you can imagine.

I grew up begging my parents every day for a pool once we moved to FLA and they never did it. To this day they still come over to my house and swim all the time. In fact, when Hope and I bought our first house the very first thing we did was put in a pool. How anyone lives in FLA without a pool and especially in the summer when your A/C goes out I'll never understand. Thanks mom, I know you read this so here's one more thing you can feel guilty about because that's what mom's do for the most part. I won't bring up the other ones that get you going like when you spanked my bottom until your hand hurt more than my bum or threw a hyper mental spasm as we lovingly refer to it.

When I think about how I grew up and everything went through or worse what my parents went through when they were kids versus now it's amazing the difference. Our children are so freaking spoiled and they have absolutely no clue how easy they have it (I'll bet my mom wrote a journal saying the same thing because there were no blogs or twitters back in the day, I'm not sure she had electricity yet). Every once in a while when the kids are fussing because they don't get to have ice cream at that moment knowing they will have it in a few hours or had it a few hours earlier I just want them to go back to my childhood or even worse my parents' childhood. I have a strong work ethic because I watched my mom and grandparents work so hard and struggle with every penny they earned to get through the month and while my kids watch me work hard I'm not sure it's the same. I worry my own children and their generation won't have the same ethics for hard work and honesty. Anything to get ahead and get money fast seems to be what I hear more then what can I do to work harder and earn more.

Now I seriously did not have it bad at all even though we grew up with basically no money except the bare minimums (on welfare at times --- my mom no matter how tough it got would not let us be on the reduced lunches at school because she did not want other kids to tease us) because I never felt unsafe or unloved as a child thanks to Mom (even though I love busting on her now I owe everything to my mom and her parents, Gram and Gramp). We may have had a tiny apartment, all borrowed furniture, hand-me-down or homemade clothes from our cousins, a black and white TV with rabbit ears, but we were never lacking of love and safety. I know I've told you many times before Mom, but I will never be able to thank you enough no matter how much I bust on you and I hope my children have half the gratitude Kurt and I owe you as you sacrificed everything to take care of us first. I love you mom, even though I don't say it enough.

Enough of the sappy stuff, since we had no A/C I took the boys all day shopping (maybe I'm the problem even though we had not done this since before Hope passed), running errands, we tried the movies but didn't make it, and anything else that had A/C. We played all morning until it started to get really hot, and then all 3 of us jumped in the shower to clean up (it's summer so normally cleaning up relies on chlorine and not actual soap and heated water) because it had been a couple of days for the boys. By the way, at what age should we stop showering together? It's so easy I don't want to ever stop but I'm thinking if Nathan is in junior high school doing it with others maybe it's time to stop with Dad. If it's illegal then I'm just kidding as far as you know.

Since Kurt left I've spent the week with just the 3 of us for the most part, doing nothing but stuff around the house. I did not drink at all most of the nights just to make sure I could (whew, I was starting to worry but it wasn't hard at all just needing to work in new routines) so we just stuck together. I am redoing most of the plants on our pool deck and just about completed that before the neighbors came over last night. I think I'm going to stick to the quiet uneventful last week before school starts next Monday (can you believe Natedog starts on 10 August and Reese on the 17th?) except for the last weekend. I'd like to do one last fun summer thing and now that we've got all their back to school taken care of we're wide open for something. Hope always loved getting the kids new stuff for school and starting a new schedule (she was the master planner) every year. I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to it after going through the worst ever first 7 months of 2009. I can't wait for 2010 but in the meantime will make the best out of what's left for this year.

The nanny starts today in no A/C and will watch the boys two days this week before she takes over after school and maybe a morning or two next week. I did some laundry out of habit this weekend but look forward to not doing that anymore. I know Hope would approve of her and what we're doing now, I think I had her worried for a while there (I started to worry myself too). I was on a conference call for a project last Friday when an engineer that was designing a performance based septic system (this is normally when Hope would start to roll her eyes and talk like the teacher on Charlie Brown --- waa, waa, wawa; waa, waa, wawa) spoke up that I had never met before. He worked at the same company Hope did but only after she left and never met her. He went on for about 2 or 3 minutes about how everyone at that company loved her so much and even though she had been gone for years they still talked about her all the time.

While I really appreciate how much people love and respect Hope it's hard to hear some times, especially when you're not expecting it. Me, I actually had nothing to say to it on a conference call so there was this terribe long awkward pause before I uttered thanks. I wish more people told Hope how they felt when she was alive, so I once again implore you to let people know how you feel about them (especially when it's positive). I love Hope with all my heart but the show and of love and support for her and our family is something that has been indescribable. I know I'm a lucky son-of-a-gun for so many reasons so please no pity for us, love the ones in your life, appreciate that they are even there, try not to take things like your health for granted, and try to find that balance between work and fun. I'm still working on the latter, but in the meantime the boys and I are sweating to everything.

That reminds me that the one thing Hope and I argued about the most was A/C, whether it was in the car or the house. She loved it always on, always making sure there was zero humidity wherever she was at. I always love the fresh air even if it is humid (well not this hot and humid) so we would fight over when to open windows in the house and car. I know I've said this before, but it's the little things you miss the most. Like in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams talks about his deceased wife and how she farted in bed and he would blame the dog (I've actually got away with this one too before with Shadow and now Mocha). Nobody knows the little things like that but a couple and it's the hardest thing you miss. No matter how late I got to bed I would always say the same thing to Hope when I got in and she would always reach over and touch me. I remember a couple of times when I fell asleep on the couch she would come out at 3 AM and say she reached over and I wasn't there. Unlike Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting I am working on moving on for the kids and I. I know we can do it with a little help from Hope and cold air.