July 31, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 10)

Nearly ten years ago, I posted the first haiku. It wasn't particularly brilliant or insightful but it was the first of many (459, to be exact, not counting the hundreds written during various haiku smackdowns). While lots of things have changed around here, they've been a pretty constant, ever-present thing. Here's that first one:

A HAIKU FOR MONDAY #1
August 11, 2003

The weekend is gone
And now I'm trying to work
Crap crap crap crap crap

Posted by Chris at 8:33 AM | Comments (2)

July 30, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 9)

I'm something of a freak magnet. This shouldn't be news to anyone. While recapping ten years of blogging, I'd be remiss if I didn't revisit at least one good bathroom incident. I give you my Bathroom Commandments from 2009. Enjoy me in reliving the glory.


THE BATHROOM COMMANDMENTS
August 20, 2009

I was in the bathroom (because all good stories start with those five words) standing there at the urinal (I was at work - my bathroom at home isn't quite that well appointed) just beginning to do my thing (that thing being peeing, draining the lizard, seeing a man about a horse). It was early and I was alone. In fact, before I walked into the bathroom, before the motion-activated lights flipped on it was really and truly dark and silent.

Halfway through, zoning out staring straight ahead at the white subway tile, thinking about the day unfolding ahead of me while trying to hit the little pink urinal cake it became immediately clear that I was not alone. The scream tipped me off.

NO!! NO NAZI DRAGONFLIES!! MOMMY!!

This exclamation quite literally scared the piss out of me. First, I made my default exclamation - FUCK! - then I peed all over the wall.

Given a couple moments to think about it, I started to piece together what had happened. Whoever it was down in stall #3 had fallen asleep, the lights had turned off and he'd entered dreamland, though a fairly fucked up dreamland, so fucked up in fact that I wanted to get the hell out of Dodge before he decided to make me his next victim.

Now, due to all my strange bathroom encounters, I have an extensive set of personal rules governing bathroom behavior, Bathroom Commandments, if you will. I follow them and I expect others to as well. Because they make sense.

  • Thou shalt not under any circumstances regardless of the intensity of hunger pains eat or drink while relieving one's self.
  • Thou shalt undertake no other grooming activities - for instance tooth brushing - while relieving one's self.
  • Thou shalt not fully remove any articles of clothing during one's tenure in the restroom. This includes shirts but it is especially critical that pants remain on.
  • Thou shalt not sing, dance, or stage any kind of musical or variety show in the restroom. This is distracting and weird.
  • Thou shalt not talk on the phone while performing standard bathroom operations. Thou dost not need to communicate that badly.
  • Thou shalt not sleep in the bathroom.
Do you have any commandments to add?
Posted by Chris at 7:59 AM

July 29, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 8)

When I was a kid, there was no more important road than Beach Mill. It was windy, twisty, and turny and when I turned 16, I would drive it with my friends, lit cigarette in one hand, volume dial with Iron Maiden on the other end in the other. The constant was my friend Scott. Scott and I were best friends in high school and, despite the fact that his family moved away in 1990, we remain great friends to this day.

BEACH MILL
January 15, 2004

Scott and I spent some quality time growing up together. And despite the fact that times have changed, careers and families have dragged us to different parts of the country, we still keep in touch and have almost every day since he moved in 1990. He came to my wedding, where I married my beautiful wife and he met his future bride. We attended his wedding a few years back and had the opportunity to meet their gorgeous daughter not long ago. I'm still astonished that one of us has one of those.

There was this road not far from where we lived. It was buried in woods, complete with twists and turns, bridges and streams. We'd cruise back and forth on cool spring and summer evenings with the stereo in my Jeep cranked as loud as it could go. We listened to everything but I especially remember The Police, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Ozzy Osbourne. Sure, we might not have always had great taste back then but remember, these were 'formative years.'

Time invariably passes. I drove down that road not long ago and it seemed much smaller and less mysterious. But the fact that the friendship is still there more than makes up for the loss of youth. Although I will admit that I still listen to the occasional Iron Maiden song.

Scott's one of the few people who stops by the site who knows me in 'real life.' I think he'd tell you that what you see here is pretty much what you get, urinal cake photography and all.

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM

July 26, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 7)

Believe it or not, there was a time when Beth and I existed before kids.

PLAY ALONG, IT'S WORTH IT
January 18, 2005

Beth and Chris: Guess what?
Internet: What?
Beth and Chris: No, guess.
Internet: Ok. You're both following your childhood dreams and abandoning your seemingly normal life to join the circus. We've always thought you were 'circus people.'
Beth and Chris: Um, no. Try again. It's a secret.
Internet: You're not actually two people. All this time you've been stringing us along you're really one talented yet highly disturbed person. Right?
Beth and Chris: Come on. Get real. I'm, uh, we're two real people. Give it another shot.
Internet: This seems to be a one-sided relationship. Its all give, no get from us.
Beth and Chris: Hey, play along or we are taking our blogs and going home. We're getting something. Now, what could it be?
Internet: Fine. A puppy?
Beth and Chris: Yes! One of those little ones you can carry around in your purse!
Internet: Really?
Beth and Chris: Are you on crack? No.
Internet: Fine.
Beth and Chris: Try again.
Internet: A new car?
Beth and Chris: Yes!
Internet: That was totally not worth playing this stupid game.
Beth and Chris: Well, we are getting a new car, but that's not what we want you to guess.
Internet: This is getting old.
Beth and Chris: Come on.
Internet: A new house?
Beth and Chris: No.
Internet: Rickets?
Beth and Chris: Ha-ha. No.
Internet: Annoying?
Beth and Chris: Fine, we'll give you another clue. It's something we're getting in August.
Internet: Why should we care now, then? Post about it in August!
Beth and Chris: It involves new clothes.
Internet: Someone gave you a cruise?
Beth and Chris: No. It involves new furniture.
Internet: A new house?
Beth and Chris: No, you guessed that already. It involves screaming.
Internet: Um, unless someone's passing a kidney stone at a costume party, I don't think I get it. I give up.
Beth and Chris: Fine, one more clue, but this really gives it away...

Internet: You're on X!!
Beth and Chris: Of course not! Why would we be doing drugs when we're knocked up?
Posted by Chris at 8:14 AM | Comments (7)

July 25, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 6)

Blogging's changed a lot over the last ten years. A real community grew around ideas and lives and humor. That community still exists but on Facebook or Twitter instead of home-grown websites. That's kind of sad to me but, hey, life goes on and things change. A perfect example of this was Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007 when so many of you participated in my somewhat odd idea of, well, sticking stuff on your heads.

STICK STUFF ON YOUR HEAD DAY 2007
February 2, 2007

We here in the Cactus-Fish abode like putting stuff on our heads. The tradition is rich and strong. Why? Well, let me see if I can explain. Stick with me here, okay?

When I was a kid growing up, my parents, and therefore I, had some great friends - two couples (Vivian and Steve, Hugh and Sara) who, with their kids, we hung out with every chance we got. We went out to dinner almost every weekend - I distinctly recall one night smashing plates while dancing through a parking lot around a Greek restaurant. We headed to Vivian and Steve's lake house for long stretches at a time most summers. We spent five days and nights rafting down the Rio Grande through the deserts and canyons of west Texas.

Vivian and Steve had two sons, one of whom was learning disabled, the other autistic. Hugh and Sara had two daughters. Hot daughters. They were a couple of years older than I which turned out to be a really pleasant surprise when I hit 12 (Sexual awakening, party of one? Your table is ready.) Oh, where was I?

One December day, Vivian and Steve's autistic son, Stephen, decided, for some unknown reason, that it was time to depart this world. He ended his life. The rest of ours lurched to a screeching halt.

The funeral was terrible. They were Catholic and we were essentially told during the service that hey, he was a nice guy and what happened really sucked but he's going to hell anyway. The reception afterward was the exact opposite. It was hysterical. After the excess hams, official food for funerals everywhere, had been packed into every conceivable space in the refrigerator, someone had the bright idea to head to the closest bookstore and find the filthiest joke books ever written. Then they were read aloud. The gut-busting laughter filled by such base crassness lasted, literally, all night long. It was cathartic. It was perfect. You see, Stephen reached out through his autism to tell jokes. It was the only way he communicated. Just jokes. What we were doing that night was celebrating his life but, perhaps more importantly, we were shooting our collective middle finger at Life, capital F. The life that goes on in spite of the good or the bad that happens, often with little or no sense of humor.


I've never forgotten that and to me sticking stuff on your head is the easiest, silliest way to thumb your nose at Life, to put it in it's place when you've had a shitty day. So I urge all of you to take a minute today and stick something - anything - on your heads. Let life know you're not its bitch. And if you've got a camera or cameraphone handy, snap a shot and sent it to me at rudecactus@gmail.com. Or post them on your own site and send me the link. If I get enough, I'll work a little Photoshop magic and see what we all, collectively, come up with. Come on...you know you wanna! Make February 7th Stick Stuff On Your Head Day!

...and you did...

On a different night, and lest you think I forgot, I give you the participants of Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007. You all rock. Hard.


Posted by Chris at 8:13 AM | Comments (1)

July 24, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 5)

I'm not sure I ever adequately captured Owen's birth story in the days that immediately followed his entry into the world. Subsequent birthday posts did a pretty good job but here's the first Owen post complete with first Owen pictures. Beth's still horrified by the fact that he came into the world to Phil Collins' cover of You Can't Hurry Love, hence the title. Me, well, I thought it was just perfect.

TRUST IN THE GOOD TIMES
February 12, 2008

Apologies to all for the infrequent updates. If you've had a kid, well, you completely understand. If not, just you wait.


Owen and Beth are resting comfortably in the hospital. I think they're getting sprung tomorrow. It won't be a moment soon. The grandparents have been amazing keeping track of Mia as best they can. But I know Mia's patience is wearing out and she wants her mom, dad and baby brother home. I've been sleeping on the bizarre couch-bed hybrid they've got in the hospital room and trying to let Beth get as much rest as she can.

Right now, I'm home for a shower and a little food. When Mia wakes up from her nap, we're heading to the hospital to visit the baby. She visited yesterday and couldn't stop kissing Owen.

This has been an overwhelming experience. When I have the time later this week, I'll share the story. It's a good one. In the mean time, thank you all. I can't believe how much email Beth and I have gotten. There's no way we're getting through all the comments any time soon but we'll try. Suffice it to say, thank you all so very, very much. You guys sincerely rock and I can't tell you how much I appreciate you.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM

July 23, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 4)

My kids never cease to amaze me. They're smart. Damn smart. And occasionally they'll lay some wisdom down that seems so fundamentally obvious and awesome I'm shocked no one's put it on a t-shirt. Today's look back doesn't actually require binoculars. It happened only a few months ago but it's awesomeness will stick with me for the rest of my life.

BUSINESS IDEAS (OR, WHY KIDS SHOULD RUN THE PLANET)
January 31, 2013

Beth and the kids visited me in the office yesterday. We had lunch in our building's cafeteria (which the kids thought was the most awesome restaurant on the face of this good earth) and then spent some time in my actual office. While the trinkets I've collected for eleven years were a draw, nothing was more exciting than my white board. Mia and Owen immediately found my stash of dry-erase markers and went to town.

Mia took her job pretty seriously and got into the spirit of being in the workplace. As you can see, she came up with several "business ideas."

Untitled

For those of you who don't want to squint, said business ideas are:

- Work with courage
- Act normal
- Be awesome
- Be yourself
- Earn money
- Be fantastic

Look, like any parent I'm going to tell you that my kids are awesome and remarkable and smart and incredibly insightful. Because that's my job as their dad. But I dare you to come up with any better rules to live by in the business world.

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (2)

July 22, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 3)

Mia came into this world exactly eight years ago today. Which makes it only appropriate that I include the announcement of her arrival in my look back at ten years of blogging history. Happy Birthday, Mia.

THE BEAN HAS LANDED
July 22, 2005

I'd like to introduce you to the latest member of the family. At 9:52 Friday morning, Amelia (Mia) Morgan Cactus-Fish was brought into the world. She weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and measured 20 1/4 inches long.




Mom coasted through surgery with style and grace and I didn't pass out, so that's something. It was a long day and a very long night but its only now hitting me that I'm a dad. To a lovely, beautiful girl. And husband to a wonderful, stong woman. Both of whom I love.

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (6)

July 19, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 2)

It's hard to believe I've been doing this for ten years. It's even harder to believe that I've had something meaningful to say nearly every day for ten years. Okay, they haven't all been thought provoking genius. Remember the time I whipped my caulk out?


SOMETIMES THE JOKES WRITE THEMSELVES
August 15, 2006

When I mentioned yesterday that I'd caulked the kitchen, surely I wasn't the only one who recognized how dirty that sounded, right? You didn't just assume I'd let that go, did you? Because that would be so unlike me.



Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (3)

July 18, 2013

Ten 'Til Ten (Part 1)

On August 1st, Rude Cactus will turn ten. Yes. I know. I've been doing this for ten years. For the record, that's 11,883 posts, 88,260 comments, a few million visitors and a dozen or so terrifyingly awkward bathroom encounters. This tenth anniversary's gotten me thinking about all the stuff I've written about here over the years. I went looking back and found some highlights. Today? That time I was nearly killed in my kitchen by a crazed gardener.


MY BRUSH WITH CRAZY
OR, HOW I SURVIVED THE GREEN THUMB KILLER
May 25th, 2004

I have seen crazy, for he is a gardener. We've got a front yard that's not in such great shape. Because of that, we decided we'd hire a professional to come out and take a look, let us know what could be done. Draw up a plan. He came today. It was a surreal experience. Look away if you're easily scared.

First off, let me describe this guy who we'll call Mr. Perch. Mr. Perch is about six feet tall and has longish brown hair that's longish because he just hasn't gotten a haircut since, well, 2002. He's got a sparse mustache, bad teeth and wears thick glasses which went out of style much earlier than he last cut aforementioned hair. He was outfitted in a button down Hawaiian shirt, corduroy shorts, dress socks and loafers. Around his waist, he carried a tool belt, a cell phone and various writing and measuring implements. Mr. Perch doesn't make eye contact or if he does its completely by accident. Instead he stares in the opposite direction of the person to whom he's addressing. He's got a laugh that, despite the fact I've never met one, I bet rivals even the craziest of serial killers. He stinks of sweat, has terrible breath and makes this constant choking sound that's very uncomfortable to listen to.

Mr. Perch arrived at 4:30. He just left. For the record, its 7:30. To say that Mr. Perch works slowly is a slight understatement. The onset of the Ice Age would truly test Mr. Perch's speed and endurance, as a matter of fact. And the conversation, what there was of it, was truly frightening. I give you the following example.

What I heard (and keep in mind I'm no gardener so I may have made up some of the plant names):


We plant these here, these here because they like the sun, the sun. I think it measured five by seven by seven by seven by seven by eight, eight, five, eight, five and eight, five by seven. Yes it measured five by seven which makes it okay to plant the Stella D'Oro Breadsticks right here because they like sun. They're so pretty. Yes they're so so pretty. Hi kitty cat! Oh your phone is ringing. You're not going to answer it? Who is it that you don't want to answer it? One of those 'out of area' calls then, is it. If we plant these Sub-periodontal Geraniums you'll be happy, so happy with the flowers because they bloom from now, well, not exactly now because I haven't planted them yet have I? But if they were in the ground now then they'd be blooming all these pretty, oh so pretty, purple and white and pink flowers until, oh, around Labor Day. Then the Urethra Majora would start to bloom with its chocolate colored leaves against the white of the bloom. Oh my. I think I'd use nine, nine, nine, ten, nine, nine, uh, three in this space here, do you see? When does your wife get home? Or is she one of those people who works all kinds of crazy hours and your name is short for Christopher, right? I can spell that. Let's see. C-H-R-I-S-T-O-P-H-E-R. Correct? Right. If I had slave labor in China I'd sure make me some of them plastic trees because people with yards that are so small always want these really tall trees that aren't at all wide. Yes sir, if I could get some slave labor and get those puppies on the production line, I'd find myself a wealthy man.

Here's what I was thinking:

I'm going to die in my kitchen. Christ! He can see the knife block. I'm a dead man. I'm going to be killed by a gardener turned serial killer. A smelly gardener turned serial killer at that. If Beth comes home now, I'm just going to tell her to run. We should have worked out some sort of covert signal for times like this. Well, not exactly like this. I mean, how often is this going to happen? Hopefully, not often. And what, precisely, is that smell? My god, its him. He is a landscape guy after all. I mean, he's probably been outside all day. But if he spends so damn much time outside, what's he been doing in my kitchen for, oh, two hours? He's a three name guy too. Like John Wayne Gacy, Henry Lee Lucas, Charles Nelson Reiley...oh, wait. Dammit. I'm going to die in my kitchen.

For the record, I did not die in my kitchen. I was not slain. But I'm not making any of this shit up. Ask my wife. She got to witness the last few painful minutes of this experience. She's got my back. This does not mean we're safe, however. I'm positive that one day, I'm going to open the Washington Post and find a headline that sends ripples down my spine. I'm thinking, 'Green Thumb Killer Nabbed.' Investigation Blossoms. And I do have some sort of proof. I snapped this while he wasn't looking.

Posted by Chris at 8:14 AM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2013

26 Seconds

Some days I'm reminded that there's very little distance between the fruit and the tree.

Mia: I peed for 26 seconds.
Me: What did you do, count?
Mia: Yeah, I did.
Me: Why?
Mia: I don't know.
Me: I do that sometimes too.
Mia: Why?
Me: 'Cos it's fun.

Posted by Chris at 7:41 AM | Comments (1)

July 15, 2013

Verdict

On Saturday night, Beth and I watched the Zimmerman verdict and the press conferences that followed. It took me a while to sort out my thoughts and put them in some sort of order. I eventually posted something to Facebook. I've cleaned it up a little, added some things I forgot, but it went a little something like this:

Is it wrong for a vigilante, cop wannabe to pack heat and kill a kid? Absolutely. But we can't convict the jury - or indict the system - for the verdict unless it was loaded with white, male, hood-wearing NRA members*. Which it wasn't. If you want to be angry, make sure the anger is directed in the right places.

Let's forget about the second amendment for a minute and look at how black kids are treated in this country. Let's look at the expectations - and experiences - they have about the justice systems. Let's look at the strength of the gun lobby and the NRA. Let's look at the education system. Let's look at hundreds of years of unequal rights.

Let's look in the mirror. Lots of us Americans are fond of saying that we're the best country on earth. When you say you're the best at something, it can, objectively, be true. But when we say we're the best country in the world, it makes it sound like we've got everything figured out and, worse, nothing upon which to improve. And that sends the wrong message to the high school graduates who've gotten high school diplomas while remaining illiterate, the kids who go to bed hungry every night, the people who work three jobs and remain below the poverty line and, yes, the kids who get shot for no reason whatsoever. Yes, we're fucking awesome, don't get me wrong. But that doesn't mean we don't have work to do.

One of the 67,983,299 reasons I love my kids is that when they see other kids, race doesn't enter their thought process. It's simply not a factor that influences any of their perceptions. I hope the majority of their generation fails to see race, religion and sexual orientation as qualities that make one different and, instead, sees them as admirable qualities that contribute to who they are, not who they aren't.

Be outraged. Be pissed. Light torches. March on city hall. But do it for the right reasons. And try to do it with the understanding that we, as a country, aren't perfect. As Trayvon Martin reminds us, we have work to do.


* Before anyone gets the wrong idea and thinks I'm crusading against the NRA, I'm not trying to tie NRA membership to racism. I don't really think NRA members are any more likely to be racist though I would point out that, despite never releasing demographic membership data, the NRA is considered to be highly white and highly male and, in my opinion, members of a demographic more likely to harbor some potentially racist ideals. Instead, I think members of the NRA would be predisposed to see this as a second amendment issue, not merely a tragic homicide. Now, do I think white men are the most likely demographic to look at a 17 year old black kid with a hoodie and think the worst? Absolutely. There are a couple hundred years of history that seem to support that.

Posted by Chris at 8:32 AM | Comments (3)

Haiku For Monday #459

Slept in and I'm still
exhausted. This is going to
be a tough Monday.

Posted by Chris at 8:29 AM

July 12, 2013

The Weeklies #260

The Weekly Request. Wish me luck. Don't ask me why.

The Weekly Beer. Flying Fish Extra IPA.

The Weekly Obvious Comment That I Feel The Need To Say Anyway. Justin Bieber is a douchebag.

The Weekly Music. Old school metal fan? There are two new Queensryche albums out, one with the original lead singer (Geoff Tate) and some studio musicians and the other with the original band and a new vocalist. Which is better? By far the album with the original band and new lead singer. Look, I don't know how to say this but Geoff Tate is an asshat who has no new musical ideas and can't quite sing all that well anymore (the four bonus tracks of re-recorded Queensryche hits like Silent Lucidity - on which Geoff can't hit a note - are evidence enough) who went on a tirade last year and alienated his fans and his old band. Zero tolerance for asshats. New band wins. 'Nuff said.

The Weekly Read. The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura was a terrifically boring book. It had promise but that promise died after the first ten pages. It's not that the story was bad. Instead, it was so sparsely written and cold that it was hard to sympathize with or get emotionally involved in. Take a pass.

The Weekly Question. What's the Zimmerman verdict going to be?

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (7)

July 11, 2013

Tasty

Current events are rife with tools and douchebags. Take George Zimmerman. Vigilante douchebag. And Edward Snowden (hi, NSA!), not such a good dude. The entire legislature of my native Texas who's on the cusp of passing sweeping abortion legislation? Bag full of tools. Ron Popeil, the rotisserie guy? Something not right about him either.

But really, the greatest foes we as a society are confronted with are not evil dictators, as-seen-on-TV entrepreneurs or even entire legislative bodies. No, our greatest enemies are the asshats that created Candy Crush.

For those of you not in-the-know, Candy Crush is basically Bejeweled with candy. And, like candy, it is highly addictive. For brilliant people, I'm sure it's fun but for reasonably stupid people like me, getting past level XXXX* is a challenge on par with being able to circumvent gravity or turn plastic shopping bags into beer.

It's not just me. Beth has been impacted too.

Some evenings after the kids are in bed, we'll spend incredibly long stretches of time staring at our phones, me silently (or not) cursing, and Beth secretly buying extra lives (she's on my iTunes account, I see the invoices) only to eventually look at the clock and realize it's midnight and we both need to sleep because, unlike our children who actually value some degree of interaction and have escaped the crack-like lure of Candy Crush, we will be forced to rise in the morning and play yet another round.

Candy Crush is a giant time-suck and I blame you, evil creators. I am sure you are inter-galactic beings that feed on humans' wasted time, growing more powerful until one day you can defeat the earth. At the rate I'm playing, that'll be, oh, next Tuesday.

Well played, alien overlords. Well played.


* Redacted because I really don't want you to know how stupid I am.

Posted by Chris at 7:36 AM | Comments (13)

July 9, 2013

Run. To The Hills.

Owen: Dad?
Me: Yeah?
Owen: If we lived near a hill we could, you know, run to them, right?
Me: Uh-huh.
Owen: And if a bad guy was chasing us we could run for our lives, right?
Me: Yeah. Definitely. Been listening to Iron Maiden again, huh?

Run to the hills...run for your life...

I have an overwhelming and abiding love of Iron Maiden. Since the time my friend Scott and I discovered them back in ninth grade, they've been a guilty pleasure. A few months ago I had some Iron Maiden track on in the car when Owen and I were driving somewhere. He fell in love. The lyrics are dark but, when you get right down to it, also quite silly. And the band is actually pretty darn good, fronted by an award-winning fencer, author, pilot and entrepreneur.

And now no one in this family can get Run To The Hills out of their heads.

Mia sings it in the shower. I've learned all the guitar parts. Owen sings it, well, always. Even Beth - who would much rather hear Paul Simon pluck a chicken - breaks into Run To The Hills for no apparent reason. In short, we are all afflicted. It's our heavy metal earworm.

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (4)

July 8, 2013

Chlorine Stung Eyes

Swim team is an important part of the summer. It's fun for the kids, a great way to hang with your neighbors, and a great excuse to eat pizza at 10:00 on a Saturday morning. Mia's been swimming on the team since she was four years old. Owen's been a little more reluctant. But on Saturday, he swam in his very first meet.

Owen's first race.

He did wonderfully. Sure, he swam most of his freestyle on his back and, yes, he spent a lot of backstroke time hanging off the lane line but, hey, he made it across the pool twice so who cares?

There are lots of leagues around us who hold meets for the strongest swimmers, separate meets for the weakest and even more meets for seemingly endless heats of little kids. I like our more laid-back league, where strong and weak swimmers swim side-by-side, ribbons and trophies really don't matter, and regardless of how everyone did, everyone shakes hands at the end.

Owen might never be the fastest swimmer but he'll have raced his races with friends and neighbors cheering him along no matter how well he's doing. That counts for a lot.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (2)

Haiku For Monday #458

I should have gone to
bed way earlier last night.
Like six. I'm eighty.

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM

July 3, 2013

Fourth

I am a big fan of America. Some days I think that I could have been born literally anywhere else and I thank god (or whoever) that I was born where I was. Argentina. Yes, Argentina but to two American citizens with a Certificate of Birth Abroad which is pretty much the same thing as being born in America.

We're not perfect. There are too many guns, our healthcare system sucks, our education system ranks a distant 53rd behind Turkmenistan* and there's that whole Freedom Fries thing, but we're pretty great too. People around the world grow up longing to be Americans. They cross oceans, take tests, learn languages just for the privilege of being a citizen. It is, quite simply, amazing that one country, one idea, one manifestation of freedom hold so much power over so many.

People in various pockets of the world are afraid to open their mouths and speak their minds. Not here. Look at me. I have a blog. I can say our leaders can blow me and Hot Pockets are the keys to salvation and no one besides the NSA gives a shit.

All this is a very longwinded way of saying Happy Fourth Of July.


* I made that up.

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (2)

July 1, 2013

Stupid Old Bum Head

It was early evening. Everyone was done at the pool and had taken their showers. Beth and I were cooking dinner while Owen and Mia were upstairs our our bed each with an iPad. An argument broke out. I don't know what it was about, which Angry Birds is better - Space, Rio, Star Wars or the old-school original - or how easy a particular level of Candy Crush was - but Mia ended up hitting Owen in the face and, in response, he shoved her off the bed. A great deal of whining and accusation fell over the land. After each were checked for bruises and bleeding and everyone's limbs were counted, I sent them both to their rooms. At which point, Owen called me a stupid old bum head. And I laughed directly in his face. Not out of retaliatory insubordination but because it was funny. Offensive, yes, but also hilarious and vaguely British.

Owen's in that maddening place in which he's pushing every button and testing every boundary. It's annoying as hell but, occasionally, very funny.

Posted by Chris at 7:45 AM | Comments (4)

Haiku For Monday #457

Overjoyed is the
word that comes to mind because
it's a three day week!

Posted by Chris at 7:43 AM | Comments (1)


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