My daughter at age 10

She’s funny and makes us laugh. Not in the way she did for the first nine years. This is different. She is more aware of her ability to make us laugh, and she goes for the funny remark or action with a purpose. And if she scores laughs, she’s prone to repeat the joke over and over until we tell that was one too many times and it’s not funny anymore. But she likes pushing to see how many times she can make us laugh and where that line of funny and unfunny is.

She’s a good student and hardworking and bright. And though it feels like she only listens to 10% of what I say, which may not be a bad idea at all and why she’s so smart, she did listen to the part about hard work resulting in good things, like good grades. And she does her homework now without prompting and is proud of her success.

She’s a moody at times. One day it’s, “I love you, Daddy.” The next, she comes home from school and doesn’t say a word to me. I’m wondering if this is a female thing? I don’t understand it.

She still likes My Little Pony and watches the cartoon on Saturday mornings. But she doesn’t want anyone to know. Oops, I just let that pony out of the bag. Yes, she’s caught in the fragile strip of time between childhood and being a tweener, or whatever it’s called.

She’s competitive. My wife blames me for this. Okay, guilty. My genes, no doubt. We recently played a 3-day game of Monopoly. First, she and I bankrupted my wife. Yes, we’re awesome. However, my daughter was more compassionate than I about this (her mother’s genes). Then, after my wife was knocked out, I thought about letting my daughter win, but then she was so . . . I don’t know . . . boisterous, overconfident, that something kicked in with me and I couldn’t do it. And I won, of course. She was pretty upset about it. Oh, well, she has her entire life ahead of her to get over it. (Get over it, honey, it was a long time ago.)

She is confident, but hasn’t always been. It’s a fragile confidence we don’t want to break, especially since we feel we’ve played a role in getting her to this point. But it’s not a confidence built on a foundation of “everything you do is great, dear.” We’ve tried to be balanced in our praise and use it when its earned. But something clicked this year with her and she’s a new “her.” Example: she wanted one of the lead roles in her class play and got it. We were amazed she wanted it. She’s also taking singing lessons and we have to ask her not to sing over the American Idol and Voice performances so we can hear the actual performers.

She plays soccer and runs track.

She is imperfect like the two of us, her parents, but maybe not as much. And that fills me with hope that she will grow up and be happy, something I haven’t mastered.

But I’m working on it, always.

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One more item checked off my bucket list: Acupuncture

I did it. I finally did it. Say hello to the human pin cushion. I let a doctor stab needles in me from head to ankle. One between the eyes, a few on the side of my face, and more down my arms and legs.

The DIY acupuncture kit from Home Depot is cheaper and equally effective.

And the experience wasn’t free of pain either. The needles in one ankle and one elbow smarted. But it was nothing compared to the pain of an IV started by a nurse fresh from nursing school.

The needles were easy. Having to lie flat on the exam table for 30 minutes  – not so easy or fun. I don’t like being horizontal and unable to move around, and 30 minutes of not being productive was torture – until the table started spinning and I had this strange floating feeling. That was a bonus.

But I can’t say I really felt any different during the procedure or immediately after it. I was a little disappointed and didn’t think I would return for another session.

And then I got home.

Yes. Home. And I started feeling . . . strange. My wife’s green eyes seemed greener and her hair darker, with more texture, richer. She looked amazing.

Luckily, my daughter was busy Skyping with a friend and too busy to notice her parents sneaking off to another room. I grabbed my measuring tape as my alibi, just in case, as we may redo the bedrooms when we remodel the kitchen.

[CUT TO: black and white movie from the 50s and image of train going through a tunnel, followed by fireworks and rockets blasting off.]

I have my moments. I don’t have many of them, but I do have them.

Then the rest of the day I felt high. And if someone had offered me another session of acupuncture, I would have jumped at the chance. In fact, I felt like a junky needing a fix.

Euphoric? Is that the correct word?

I’ll be returning for another treatment. I can’t really explain what happened during the first one, but something did. And it’s worth exploring to see if there’s more magic in those needles – or if the doctor is dipping them in a solution made of something very unique and illegal in most countries.

Either way, one more item off my list – with a bonus experience. It doesn’t get better than that. I heart acupuncture.

Mini-rant: 30-second internet commericals

“Patient” is not a word my wife would use to describe me. I’m allergic to standing in line, and waiting more than 10 minutes to see a doctor makes me want to go “rock-star in a hotel room” with the chairs and old magazines. And if scientific studies on impatient “want it all now” individuals are correct, then it’s one of the primary reasons I’m such a huge failure.

This is what I see when I see a line of any size. © Mike Kiev - Fotolia.com

But self-flogging aside, there’s a new villain when it comes to making me feel like a big chump: the 30-second internet commercial.

I go out of my mind when I have to wait 30-seconds while an Internet commercial plays. It feels like 30-minutes. I think it’s all about the “ratio” of the commercial time to the video clip length.

If I watch a 60-minute show, then a 30-second commercial doesn’t push me over the edge. But if I’m waiting to watch 15 seconds of “Labrador puppies playing poker,” the ratio of commercial to clip is too much to bear and I shut down the page.

A conventional hour of TV contains approximately 1/3 of the time devoted to advertising – or more for a popular show (American Idol feels like 50/50 while I’m skipping through the commercials on our DVR).

And, to watch a 15 or 30-second clip on the web, I’m forced to watch all of the commercial time up front. Can you imagine being forced to watch 20 minutes of commercials before watching 40-minutes of a TV show? You’d run screaming from the house by minute 8.

That’s what watching 30-second commercials is like for me. I can’t do it. Even if I click on another browser tab while it plays, it still feels like a huge waste of my time.

Companies need to get off their rear-ends, buy some imagination, and create 5-second commercials for the web. Until then I’m boycotting the companies who are too cheap to create ads that don’t make me feel like an idiot, which isn’t hard to do, as I’m really good at feeling that way every day of my life.

That’s it. I’m done ranting here. I tried to capture my frustration with this topic in a tweet or two, but I couldn’t do it. I’m glad it’s finally off my chest.

I’ll try to be more patient in life. [the Universe laughs]

I’m looking through you, where did you go?

Thanks to the Beatles for the title of this post. I can’t say for sure if I’ll finish writing it, though if you’re reading it now it’s a good sign I did.

You see, I’ve written – or started to write – many posts over the past month, only to let them live out their lives with the scarlet D on them for “draft.” Yes, I’m having trouble getting motivated to write posts and anything else requiring effort in my life. I caught a bad case of “disconnection.” And maybe that’s a fancy way of saying I’ve been a lazy sod.

So, I’ve started a lot of posts. And each of them sounded great in my head before the act of typing away at the keyboard. But my fingers touch the keys and I lose the inertia to continue. A pin pops my motivation balloon and that usually leads to saving the draft and escaping to an episode of Mad Men.

But I’ve run out of episodes, having caught up to the current season. This means I have lost the perfect distraction when posts go south. Though I’m not sure dreaming I’m Don Draper is a healthy thing either when I’m feeling dissatisfied with life, which to some degree I am these days.

Looking forward to living in the sand this summer. © Dmytro Smaglov - Fotolia.com

There is, however, some good news: We escaped to Ventura for a couple of days last week and found a beach house to rent for a month this summer (deposit given). If I had a bucket list, this would be in the top five things to do in my life. The three of us are pretty excited about the thought of beach life for a month and living a couple hundred feet from the sand and ocean. No loading the car up with food, dogs, towels, and a cooler, then driving 35 minutes. Nope. This summer will be opening a door with two dogs on leashes in tow and arriving at the beach in less than a minute. Yes, this may define “heaven” for me.

And I must say that having things to look forward to makes a big difference in my life. And our upcoming time at the beach is just enough to help me wade through the muck of mundane days, doctor appointments, and the uncertainty of life. I think of the beach air and my life feels a little bit better and easier to manage.

[p.s. I owe my friends who’ve left comments a huge apology for not replying. I’ve been consuming more than creating for the past month. Thank you for leaving them. I have read all of them, and appreciate your words and thoughts.]

Odds and ends the week after Easter 2012

I won a two-week stay of execution last week when the Cipro worked and bumped up my lung function. Not back to normal, but moving in the right direction – up. At least now I get to enjoy spring break with my daughter and wife. We didn’t make big vacation plans because it’s hard to make them when you’re not sure if you’re hospital bound or not.

We do, however, have something to look forward to this summer: We’re going to rent a beach house in Oxnard or Ventura for a month. We want to remodel the kitchen and bedrooms and it will be better  if we move out during the dust storm of construction. So I thought, where would I want to move out to? The beach. Yes, number one answer. And I thought why not, life is short and we don’t take many vacations. So, my wife and I will work part of the time and take vacation part of the time. It feels like something the rich and famous do during the summers.

A month of this will be very nice indeed. © Yahya Idiz - Fotolia.com

I return to the cancer hospital next week for round two of too many people looking at my ass. I feel like I should be doing lunges every day to pump up for the big reveal. I am, however, working on my jokes for the doctor. What do you call a colorectal surgeon with a scope up your ass? Three martinis and one llama short of a good time. I’m still working on the punch line. I can only imagine how well that joke will go over. Though, it wouldn’t be any worse than the ones I told last time.

I wish they had a medical procedure to make me look like Don Draper (Jon Hamm). It would be nice to be a genetic wonder, not a genetic failure.

I watched the first two seasons of Mad Men. Thanks, OCD. Great show, though it makes me feel like I’m having an asthma attack when I see all of the cigarette smoke. And it reminds me of my smoking parents, their fondue parties, and my father’s drinking. Even now I have to laugh when I think of my mother smoking in the Pinto station wagon as we drove places. She did her best to blow the smoke out the window so I wouldn’t inhale it. I know some think the 60s were a glamorous time, but I’m not sure I see it that way. I’m not sure it was our brightest generation. I’m probably wrong. My memories have the feel and look of faded Polaroids. There is something cool about the photo, but the memory when thought about deeply, well, not so cool.

Until next time.