Monday, April 28, 2008

Increments of 12

Another realization that I need to get my ass in gear ...

Today, I recalled a walk I took in Madison 12 years ago. It was our first spring in Madison, I was working extreme mornings while Wife (then, Girlfriend, maybe not yet Fiancee) worked a normal shift, so I had afternoons pretty much to myself. Besides a big park nearby, there was plenty of residential neighborhoods to saunter through. Once it got warmer, I started venturing farther out, and one warm day, I was listening to a particular tape in my Walkman that struck a chord (no pun intended).

During the 1980s, I was fanatical about taping songs off the radio, and in no year was I more fanatical than 1984. That summer, I probably went through about 10 tapes of songs off the radio. On this walk, I was listening to one I hadn't heard in maybe a decade, and the memories were flooding back. Not just from the songs, but the commercials and DJs that I might have accidentally taped, too. I couldn't believe it had already been 12 years since that tape, made when I was 13 and about to enter high school, now in my Walkman as a 25-year-old with a full-time newspaper job. I was inspired -- I wanted to write all about that childhood, as I had wanted to since college. This tape seemed to be the firing point to get me to do that.

This is what occurred to me today -- that moment where I listened to that generic Kmart 90-minute tape on my Walkman through the subdivisions of Madison's far southwest side, was 12 years ago. The same span of time has gone by between the making of the tape and the nostalgic enjoyment of the tape and the nostalgia and today.

I was good about writing, for about two years, but not as proficient as someone with afternoons all to himself should have been. I've been better about writing lately, but not as good as someone staring 40 down and wondering why all those words swirling in my head for years haven't hit paper or Microsoft Word should be.

I'm tempted to pull those old tapes out, but they are so old I'm almost afraid to put them into a Walkman (especially since many weren't brand name tapes, but generic Kmart and Walgreens cassettes). I need to figure out how to convert them into MP3 format so I don't lose them. And I need to figure out how to stay inspired.

Working for the weekend

Today was a perfect Sunday. And yes, it was a Sunday I had to work.

I usually get one weekend day off, but lately, due to staffing shortages and it just being the time of year, I've been working the whole weekend. My mood sours when I don't get a weekend day off; I know it's easier for Wife if her two days off could coincide with at least one of mine. Usually I worked late the night before, thus tiring me out the next day, and knowing that work shift is coming, my mood doesn't lighten much.

But I vowed to not get so down and unproductive on weekends where I work through. Today, for once, it worked.

Wife took Eldest to CCD, and instead of me turning a show on for Littlest while I went back to sleep, I put him in the stroller and we walked, about 3 1/2 miles. We got home and all of us went to Costco. After some shopping, we returned home and worked in the yard for an hour. Then we went to the zoo for an hour, and though we didn't see many animals (Littlest doesn't stay still at the zoo to observe, but he needed to run around today), we were out as a family. We came home, I managed a 15-minute nap to overcome the wave of tired that seems to hit every day, and I went to work.

I suppose it would have been a perfect day if I hadn't departed for work, if we could have ate dinner as a family, if I could have relaxed that night. But this is what we had to work with, and instead of giving in to some self-pity, we made the best of a gorgeous Sunday.

That said, I don't have to work tomorrow. Hurray!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

April, 26 years ago

At work tonight, I was listening to Live 365, which broadcasts users' own Internet radio stations. The particular channel I "dialed" to featured the Top 40 from this week in 1982, sans Casey Kasem. It's no secret if you read this blog how nostalgic I can get, particularly from music. In a short span of hits, a wave of memories flooded back:

-- "That Girl" by Stevie Wonder took me back to playing baseball at Oriole Park that year, and the old-fashioned candies we were selling as a fund-raiser instead of raffle tickets. I can still taste those candies.

-- "I've Never Been to Me" by Charlene reminds me of a barbecue in my Grandma Elsie's backyard that Memorial Day. I have no idea why, maybe we had the radio on back there and it came on.

-- " '65 Love Affair" by Paul Davis reminds me of going to one of my Dad's softball games, a tournament at some park I'd never been to. I was listening to the countdown on a transistor radio.

-- "Do You Believe in Love" by Huey Lewis and "Did It in a Minute" by Hall and Oates brings back a softball practice my dad had at Schurz Field, with myself listening to the same radio.

-- "867-5309" by Tommy Tutone reminds me of a trip to the Harlem-Irving Plaza (The HIP) with my friends on a cloudy day.

I have playlists from so many seasons and years from the '80s, I should try recreating the countdowns, again sans Casey Kasem. I've done that with the year-end countdowns, why not with some key weekly lists. The danger there is I start buying tracks off iTunes of songs I don't remember. It might be worth the expense.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Little slugger

Eldest is playing 4-year-old T-ball this fall. No outs, no runs, everybody bats, everybody runs the bases, all the fielders chase the ball no matter where it's hit. I'm coaching this team, which, because parents are encouraged to help in the field, doesn't involve too much more than helping the players at the plate and being careful not to get hit with the bat. Actually, it's been a lot of fun, and Eldest has been having a ball.

And today, I saw his potential. First at-bat, he fouled the ball off twice and hit the tee twice. Second at-bat, he swung down into the tee. After repositioning him and telling him to swing straight instead of down, he lined the ball over the infielders' heads. In three games, it was the highest, hardest hit ball I had seen. A few other parents couldn't believe how good he hit it. Since no one really plays outfield, the whole other team chased the ball while he ran to first.

I hate to be one of those parents that overestimates their child's athletic ability, but damn, for that one moment, I was thinking he could be good at this sport. I shouldn't get my hopes up too much, though, because next week he could forget to swing straight and instead put that bat into my groin.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Snail's pace

Went a week without posting -- egad! At least I'm typing something up tonight, on Eldest's unfortunate encounter with a snail.

The new preschool has been working out great for Eldest, but it seems the times when it seems to not be going so well has been after school is over, when we're still lingering on the playground and parents are filtering out their kids. Either I can't get him to go, or he gets so overstimulated that he takes things to personally or becomes uncharacteristically mean, or something else goes wrong. On Monday, something else went wrong.

There are two 4-year-old classes conducted at the same time at this preschool, and a girl from the other class -- a girl whose mom is going to be Littlest's 2-year-old preschool teacher next fall -- had a snail someone had found for her (that's important because it wasn't like a show snail or anything). She put it on the ground to see if it would move, and Eldest then stomped on it.

We don't think he was being purposely mean, though I did initially. He said he didn't want her to have it, but I think it wasn't because he was jealous, but because it was a slimy snail. Wife hates snails -- we've had some in our garden -- and I'm sure he would have stepped on it at home. You start to fear the worst when your son does something like this, but he is a boy, and boys squash bugs. I did make him apologize, and we did skip rock climbing that day, so hopefully he got the point that it still wasn't a nice thing to do.

The girl was crying, a lot. I didn't see it happen, but I heard her screaming "You killed it!" At first, I was really worried -- the preschool has had chicks in the classroom but had them outside in a cage in a dry kiddie pool that day, and a few minutes before the teacher had them out, and I thought Eldest had stepped on a baby chicken. But it was just the snail.

On Eldest's next day of school, we let him pick one of our flowers to give to the girl and say he was sorry again. She loved it and was still holding the flower after school when all the kids were playing, until, another kid slammed into her on a tricycle. This poor 5-year-old -- the flower came off the stem, but she was crying more from the scrape the accident inflicted. I was just relieved at the missed irony that could have been if Eldest had run into her.

I hope Eldest learned a couple of valuable lessons, especially this one: Giving lowers always will get a girl all mushy inside!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What are you going to do about it?

I experienced a smidgen of an epiphany today that I'm going to share.

I'm sure I have already written about the perception and the passing of time, when it seems to go more quickly, when it seems to slow down, etc. I am almost 20 years removed from graduating high school and starting college. Wife and I are coming up on 15 since we started dating. In some ways, it seems like a long time, and in other ways, it has sped by so fast that I can't believe that here I am, age 37, 20 years out of high school, 15 years as a couple.

Then something else occurred to me, though it's been nagging for a couple days after hearing a Buddy Holly song and thinking about how cool it would have been to be a teenager in the late 1950s as rock 'n' roll was emerging. Those teenagers are coming up on 70 in a couple years. Going back to my 20-year reality, in 20 years I'll be 58. Aside from hoping that in 20 years 58 will be the new 45, it hit me that these next 20 might go slow or fast, or a mix of both. And then rather than dwelling upon that, another thought popped into my head, a challenge to myself:

"What are you going to do about it?"

Looking at the last 20 years, there's much I've accomplished of which I've been proud, and much I wish I would have accomplished. So what's in store for the next 20? Accomplishing more new things of course, being the best husband and father possible, but also achieving the things that I missed/procrastinated/blown off/not even attempted in the last 20. "What are you going to do about it?" implies learning from the past experiences and applying it to the future. It's a call to action. No past regrets, no future excuses. Nothing left on the table.

So what am I going to do about it today? I just did do something, I wrote this out, hopefully making my new mini-mantra all the more potent.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The slapper

Littlest is in the midst of his first official phase: He's slapping everyone. Slapping me and laughing about it. Slapping Wife. Slapping Eldest, and he's got him good a few times. I'm afraid when I take him to his Little Gym class tomorrow, other toddlers are going to be target.

We've been trying to timeout Littlest when the hands are flying, but it gets tricky when you are holding him in line at Petsmart. Eldest went through a little phase similar to this at the same age, and it passed in a few weeks. In the meantime, no more watching Dynasty for Littlest!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Still waiting ...

Astronomically, it may be spring, but we're still waiting for it here in Utah.

It hasn't been that sunny. It snowed a little yesterday morning. The temperature hasn't climbed too far over 50. I haven't been able to do any yardwork -- which I'm gung ho about every April -- because of uncooperative weather.

Maybe we've been spoiled by some simply gorgeous springs the last few years. Maybe it's just a bad year. But I'm ready for spring to spring. If I wanted a cloudy, miserable April, we would have stayed in Wisconsin.

On the bright (or not-so-bright side), I haven't had to worry about using sunblock yet. Hopefully soon.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Breakdown dead ahead

After a long day filled with grocery shopping and children playing, I got a call from Wife I didn't want to hear: "I think our washing machine is broken." I paraphrased that, but the washing machine does appear to be leaking some water. I'm going to run it again tomorrow and see what happens, but I am not overly optimistic we won't have to call a repairman and/or buy a new washing machine.

Then I had to go to work. Wife commented these types of emergencies always happen on nights I work. Bad luck, I guess.

Alas, our washing machine is not a Maytag. Gordon Jump won't be showing up at our house.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Walking the walk

Today I did something I had been talking about for a few weeks now -- walking to get Eldest from his new preschool. It's a little more than 3 miles there, and Littlest and I unfortunately got a late start, so the walk turned into a mild walk/run. But it was a nice day and we were only a few minutes late -- Eldest was busy playing and didn't even notice. The walk back was tougher, as right away I hit a 400-yard uphill. Not a sever uphill, but enough to be tiring, especially since I just added 45 pounds to the stroller. The whole walk-plus turned out to be a good workout which I'll do again. I just need to start sooner next time, I'm not ready for a 3-mile desperate run just yet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Back in the saddle, maybe

Yikes, I've been absent from this blog. Though some of it was extra work, most of it was simply not being in the mood to blog. Well, I have a lofty goal for April -- 30 posts in 30 days. We'll see how it goes -- unfortunately, I had this idea yesterday and didn't blog about ...