Saturday, April 30, 2005

Seven Months

It’s easy to get frustrated sometimes. He’s demanding and cranky and needy and helpless. He is permanent. It’s hard to remember life without him, which is a little strange because that was only seven months ago. A time when our naivete still wandered around our skulls like a court jester, bouncing and laughing. We didn’t realize that we were the objects of the joke, that everyone was laughing at us.

I think that’s one of the fatal flaws of humanity though. We are so aware of the path that leads to our unhappiness when all we have to do is look down to realize that the streets are paved with gold. One day after Lucas turned seven (months) both Xtina and I found ourselves telling a close friend about our recent travails as parents. There was resignation in our voice and a distant look in our eyes. Were we pining for our lost selves, wishing for the unthinkable? I don’t know, but afterward Xtina tells me, “That’s it, I’m not complaining about him anymore.” Sure he’s difficult and a burden and there are times when his presence reminds you that being selfish is a curse because it brings out the worse in others, as well as yourself. Time is a precious commodity that none of us can get enough of, but how we interact with those around us will always take precedent. Because no matter how hard we try to fill every moment with the mad ramblings of importance that have invaded our souls, it’s always the simple deeds that revitalize us and make us feel better.

I want to appreciate him. I don’t want to take him for granted. He’s not something that I can so easily discard when I don’t feel like being responsible. I want to make sure that the interaction I share with my child doesn’t turn into a constant barrage of “No!” I want to love him for the beauty that exists in new life, a life that sprung from within us. It’s so incredibly amazing to witness the very vivid cycle of birth-growth-death as it pertains directly to you. To see him push and strain so that he might move six inches. To watch him slowly gain control of his balance and muscles and use them diligently for a purpose. To hear him talk and chant and sing with us even though our language isn’t quite as sophisticated as his. I want to love him deeply so that all of the growth that is going to occur so quickly will fill my eyes with wonder and fall upon my cheeks with joy.

I hope that as he grows that I will grow with him. I want to remember what it was like being a child, when everything filled me with awe and the vast complexities of the world hadn’t become so overbearing. I want to grasp at the sun flickering on the wall and cackle at the sound of the wind. I want to love the precious simple way my voice rings out and affects the world round me. I want to recognize the beauty and happiness that exists right here, right now, all the time.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

My Caffeine Fix

I’ve been a mountain dew big gulp junkie for around fifteen years now and it wasn’t until recently that I started to wean myself from this evil affliction. I always told myself that I wasn’t affected by caffeine. I would drink a cup of coffee and it wouldn’t keep me awake or anything like that, but it wasn’t until I read an analysis of caffeine’s affect on the body that I realized why. According to a survey I read, 64 ounces of mountain dew is basically the same thing as doing a line of crystal meth. It takes six 20-ounce cups of coffee to equal that measure. Now I never got caught up in the whole double gulp phenomenon that has swept the nation, but there was a period of maybe five years where I drank at least one super big gulp a day, possibly two if I craved it. That’s 44 ounces of mountain dew caffeine squirming through my body on a daily basis! No wonder a lousy cup of coffee didn’t phase me!

The cool thing is that the past couple of months I’ve managed to reduce my big gulp intake to about one a week. I have to say that now I feel it when I drink the poison. I feel the jittery veins of my heart kick into gear, my mind races and I jump around like a beetle on crack for an hour. I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. I don’t like the taste and afterward my mouth spews traces of a foul odor that turns my stomach threatening to spill the dreaded contents back to where they came from. When we go to the coffee shop I’ll often order a white hot chocolate and sink into its warm and gentle sweetness. Mmmmmm! The other day I ordered one and the woman put a shot of espresso in it, which I didn’t ask for it. I decided to just drink it anyway. Keep in mind that it had been ten days since my last mountain dew. This medium cup of coffee hit me like a freight train. I could not believe how wired I got.

This all made me think about the way we look at drugs in our culture. Why is it illegal for us to partake of one substance, while another one that has basically the same effect on the body is legal to acquire as long as you have a dollar-fifty in your pocket? Why are cigarettes legal when they are more lethal than heroin and just as addictive? I mean, I understand why. Someone with a lot of money decided that it would benefit them so they created policy to that affect. I guess the real question I have for everyone is when are we going to crawl out from under their thumb?

This brings me to the main reason I started to write about big gulps in the first place. I don’t know if it’s because I am a father now and more thoughtful about the future, but I came across an article in the nation that has me firmly cemented in a boycott of all Coca-Cola and Pepsi products. I’ve never really believed that boycotting companies truly has a major effect, but I now know that isn’t the point. It all started with this article. Please read Alexander Cockburn’s personal account of the way the Pepsi and Coke corporations treat human beings. They stole water from people who only had one thing in their lives: clean drinking water and replaced it with toxic sludge. It’s truly disgusting and it makes you realize that they’re the ones breaking the law. They are an affront to all humanity and the true cause of hatred toward Amerika. Now, when I have the desire to buy a big gulp, I simply imagine that I’m going to drink water that doesn’t belong to me. I think about the causes we make by ignoring the injustices that are perpetrated in our name, by turning a blind eye and pretending that none of it affects us. There are people far off in other countries who are dying of thirst because Pepsi and Coke need to make a profit and if I buy their products here in a Amerika then I am saying that is perfectly acceptable. I am just as responsible because I am complicit in helping those corporations to continue to exist. I just can’t do it anymore and from this moment forward I am boycotting their products. I’m asking anyone who reads this to do the same.


Monday, April 18, 2005


Often times, when he’s grumpy or really tired and having trouble falling asleep, Xtina will say to me, “Do the dad-walk.” I put him on my shoulder, turn out all the lights, set the volume on the stereo to barely audible and just walk around the room with him. Actually we sort of sway in a delicate dance of tenderness. It is an incredibly beautiful moment for me, and when I perform the dad-walk I really understand the fortune that being a father has brought into my life. I get to stand in my living room, listen to music and hold my son until he falls asleep. Very little compares.

Some of the revelations that I have while I’m sharing this moment with him:
--Every song is amazing! Even songs that I never truly appreciated before sound extraordinarily good when you are in that zone.
--I don’t worry about the future at all. I literally connect to living in that moment.
--Appreciating the vision of the night. Sometimes our need for light seems to drown out that special kinship that we share with the nocturne.
--Learning about the importance of family. I hope I can be a tremendous father and the most positive role model in his life.

The best part of the dad-walk is when he begins to fall asleep. His cheek sinks heavily into my shoulder and the arms around my neck go slack. I feel so close to him that it feels like my heart is going to reach out and consume him whole. It’s amazing how the body of sleep descends into a soft breathing dialogue that exists beyond time and feels deeper than a dream, that’s so wonderfully real it makes you feel like the world was meant for you to be happy.

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