Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Six Months

We finally decided to get some “professional” photos taken of Lucas for the family…and for us. By professional I mean the local kiddie photo corral at the nearest Babies-R-Us. We’d meant to get some real professional photos done much earlier but it’s kind of difficult when you have two parents who love to procrastinate. This led to Xtina finally demanding that we get the photos right this minute, which was two days before his six-month birthday. The only unfortunate detail we failed to foresee was the fact that two days before Lucas’ six-month birthday was also two days before Easter, meaning that the kiddie photo corral was busting at the seams.

Easter is a time of joy and appreciation. It’s a time for family to come together and celebrate sacrifices made and love given for the prosperity of all humankind. It’s a time to celebrate the growing human family and our ever-increasing interconnectedness. It’s a time to cherish the loved ones that have recently been added as well as those who may be witnessing the blossom of spring for the final time. It’s a time to sweat under hot lamps hoping that half-smile doesn’t turn quickly into a frown because the only photos captured so far don’t even come close to expressing what it means to treasure a half-a-year spent raising a child. It means driving all over town trying to get everything done before you have to go back and wait patiently for the teen-age technicians to finish with the brat who came after thirty-five other brats while pretending that none of them are really brats, all the while hoping that your child won’t also be a brat.

It was very interesting standing around with the other parents and watching the mad conglomerate. I actually saw a child punch his mother in the face. I saw a child almost push a child half his age down so that she wouldn’t get the ball that he wanted. I saw an obsessive father comb his daughter’s hair fifty times when it was already perfect in the first place. I saw his other daughter push her bangs out of the way as soon as his back was turned obliterating hours of precise determination. I saw scary-ugly children getting their picture taken while secretly thanking the divine intervention that allowed me to connect with a beautiful partner so that we didn’t end up with a scary-ugly child. I saw beautifully composed children who are truly the apple of their parent’s eye. I saw weary faces all around and imagined that we must have all looked incredibly alike. The one thing I really got out of it all is that looking from the outside in is an incredibly different view than when you’re actually inside the bubble. Hours are spent watching others, gauging whether or not they’re living their lives correctly. With reality teevee this has evolved into the new spectator sport except very few of us are actually competing. We’re just trying to live our lives.

On this eventful photo-shoot day I saw many different approaches to raising a child. Before I had a son I had no idea how I was going to be a father. It seemed terribly difficult and I rarely connected with the few children around me already. Before I had Lucas I immediately judged and condemned and praised and thanked. I never wanted to be in anyone’s shoes and I didn’t long to have children. Now that I have Lucas I feel like I was missing something so important in life. I’ve noticed that now that I’m amongst the child rearing I have so much more compassion for those who decide to take on the momentous task. One thing that the public eye rarely acknowledges is that we are all trying our best, even when we’re failing. I don’t think anyone really wants to raise a monster. Some people just fail to recognize the important responsibility that has been bestowed upon them. I thought that I was one of those people. I now realize that I drastically underestimated myself. Being a father is the greatest gift I have given myself.

One other thing, Lucas can now roll across the room in about a minute flat. When he goes from back to belly he does this little shoulder hitch move that frees up his pinned arm in seconds. Everyday is another new miracle and I have a feeling that sometimes the bear hugs might be getting to him. Breathe Lucas, just keep breathing.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

We found this on the wall of a cafe one day before Lucas turned six months old.

"If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have to struggle, we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering."
--Mohandas Gandhi 11/19/31

Happy Birthday Lucas!


Saturday, March 19, 2005


The United States of Leland

Our culture is schizophrenic.

I watched the superbowl this year and unfortunately was bombarded with paid advertising of the worst kind (enormous amounts of money for a few paltry seconds). There was a commercial by Godaddy.com that mocked the talk of censorship by fanatical reactionaries that has filled the media landscape since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction from the year before. In the spot, a well-endowed young woman is trying to persuade a government hearing on indecency that her commercial is suitable for viewing, but while she shows them what she’s going to do in the commercial a shoulder strap breaks and she almost spills out of her halter top. Meanwhile the grumpy old men hem and haw as they desperately scramble for their oxygen masks. It was quite amusing and worked as a lighthearted attempt to show the absurd idea that a few decrepit souls are deciding what decency means for the rest of us. Well, apparently that commercial was supposed to run later in the game, but a worn-out old guy with power (who was obviously offended, I don’t know why?) decided that it wasn’t appropriate viewing for the innocent families out there watching the most violent sport in Amerika (besides boxing, but can you really call two guys beating the crap out of each other truly a sport?). I guess he failed to understand the important message hidden deep within the content, perhaps he was only able to focus on the more obvious aspects of this 30-second spot. The crazy thing about it is that there was at least one other commercial that had a woman revealing even more of her indecency, but since it was the type of advertising that we find on our television, our billboards, our magazines, our newspapers, our computers, everywhere everyday then no one bothered to get hot under the collar.

My cousin recently got back from Kiribati. She realized that many of the aspects of our culture are very twisted seen through the eyes of others. It took immersing herself completely within another society for her to understand that things she completely accepted before were actually quite destructive. One of the great flaws of the Amerikan mentality is that “our way is best”. Our government is trying to spread the idea of democracy to all corners of the globe, just as long as it’s our version of democracy. Missionaries push their version of the truth on natives everywhere, without opening their hearts to the value that already exists within these various cultures. This is something she experienced first hand when she was forced to wear a dual-skirt-short outfit so as not to reveal any part of her crotch area, which was deemed unsuitable by the Mormon missionaries that settled there. Why do we get to decide for the rest of the world what is good or bad, right or wrong, decent or indecent? What is it about our way of life that makes it superior to all others? Why are we so goddamn arrogant?

If a society is the best wouldn’t the people of that society reflect the wonder and greatness for the entire world to see? If a culture is so fabulous then why would they have to do so much to convince others how wonderful it is? Shouldn’t the example be enough? None of it makes sense when you look around and see so much sadness. It’s infused in our society. We constantly take drugs to counteract the problem but more and more people are getting depressed every year. We put on masks of happiness while our eyes show what’s really going on inside. We go around acting civil but then listen when the devil on our shoulder convinces us to destroy that civility. Suddenly were in compromising situations that require even more dishonest activity, anything to avoid responsibility. Many people who support the Anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment have been married more than once. Many of the people who oppose abortion support the death penalty or the war agenda. Most of the people who are against providing a reasonable wage to the working class are the biggest supporters of corporate welfare. Many of those who are against the separation of church and state only think that it should pertain to their religion. Many of the leading advocates for “family values” would prefer that public education be abolished. We are told to believe in freedom but can’t make decisions on our own about what is indecent. We are constantly being bombarded by hypocrisy and we are constantly struggling to fight against the apathy that it creates within us. If we are going to succeed we have to fight against the message of confusion that haunts our culture. We must struggle to live the ideals that this country was founded on so that one-day others may see the wonders of our civilization with their own eyes. We won’t have to convince them of anything.

Or we can do what Leland does. We can kill someone who represents the complete frustration that we feel in ourselves. We can murder someone retarded.

(C-) --maybe...if you don't have to pay for it

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Sunday, March 13, 2005


8 Mile

There’s a place where guys wear ski-caps even when there ain’t no snow and two-bit academy award winning actresses save their lives by winning at bingo.
It ain’t perfect and everyone wants to leave, somehow-someway, hoping they won’t be stuck there for eternity.
But you got friends you can count on and a boss that you hate, and you rhyme and you rap instead of debate and if you’re good enough you just might clear the slate.

There’s this guy, his name’s rabbit, and he learned long ago to remain empty and blank and just let the insults flow.
To keep his face quiet and still just like a ghost until it’s his time to be an ungracious host
And shut you up, slap you down using words as a weapon 'til you look like a clown with a frown that don’t know what happened.
Then your ears fill with ridicule, taunts and laughter, and all you can do is slink off, tail between your legs, into the hereafter.
And why is this guy with the ghost-stare so fucking together, raised by a rundown brainless deadbeat mother no matter the weather?
She’s jobless, phoneless, makes mistakes, is being evicted. Shit, she can even get her young stud to lick it.
Meanwhile her daughter hides under the table without a father 'til Rabbit comes home and acts the noble brother,
Being the dad she never had, or wait, maybe he’s the dad and that’s why he’s always beating mom’s boys and doesn’t want his friends over at his pad.

I suppose I should be grateful that my life ain’t like his, but let me sum it up real quick, it’s like this.
A constant struggle to keep your anger in check, and falling in love with a girl who looks like a wreck,
A cadaverous whore searching for the best guy to pork who might get her the fastest ticket to New York.
Until a final revelation reminds you that you’re all alone, and can only count on yourself if you want to atone
And move forward in life until you finally get enough respect to get a movie made about you that the masses won’t reject.

(D+) --don't waste your time

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Five Months

I feel like a father. It’s beginning to feel natural. I have completely changed from the person I was at this time last year when I was trying to imagine what being a father was going to be like. Even then I was completely different than the person I was the year before that when all I worried about was what Christina and I were going to do that night and whether or not we had enough weed to help pass the time. The two-year journey that has taken place has been a wondrous eyes wide open affair. Sometimes it seems like the days have whizzed by, but when I think about all that has happened it seems impossible that we did so much in only a couple of years. It’s very easy to take our time here for granted. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense to just let our life disappear when it is all we have. Why is it so hard to appreciate ourselves?

Anyway, back to the beautiful joy of being a father. This experience is one where you definitely have the ability to see some beauty in the world. If you look closely enough it isn’t that hard to see through the muck and discover the lotus flower glowing in all its glory. It’s right there when he grabs his feet and chews on his toes. It’s in the way his ears stick out like mine do in the fading photos from a psychedelic age. It’s hidden inside the clarity that grows within his eyes each day (I swear that he’s smarter today!). There’s beauty bursting forth from his tiny little eighteen-pound frame and flowing beneath the goosebumps on my skin as I feel his warm heartbeat beneath the palm of my hand. It’s there so soft in the morning before I leave for work and take a moment to look at two sleeping angels, identical visions who float through the day with me. It’s there when I can’t help but smile when the edges of his mouth reach for his ears. Even the struggle, the heartache, the frustration that comes with raising a newborn. None of it has gotten to me yet.

The only part of my life that has really suffered is my relationship with Christina. Although we were warned about the toll that having a child would take on us, which was probably the main reason that we waited so long in the first place, I wasn’t really concerned about it. All those anecdotes that we heard wouldn’t possibly apply to us. And the first few months it seemed okay because you’re so focused on the daily requirement of taking care of Lucas (yes, it’s a full time job!), but I thought that eventually we’d slide right back into the special connection that we shared. But now that we are beginning to feel natural about being parents it’s taking a lot more effort to create the type of environment that got us here in the first place. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to simply be a husband. I know that we put so much energy toward Lucas and it’s so very easy to love him, but Christina is my best friend and I cherish her more than anything. I hope that this is just something that we will eventually overcome and that time will strengthen the bond that we share, that the growth we’ve felt these past two years will continue to provide inspiration. Because I miss her. I see her every day and still...I miss her so much.

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