And we want to become adults because?

It would have been nice had someone explained to me when I was young how difficult it is to be an adult. It’s not a cakewalk. Nor is every day a day at the beach. I probably wouldn’t have listened, or cared, but it still would have been nice. All those milestones we dream of as children, 16, 18, and 21, blow by. Then we become adults and can do anything we want, including wishing we were 16 again, but smarter.

Okay, moaning over. It’s just one of those days. Let me explain.

So many questions, so little time. © kbuntu – Fotolia.com

I spent two days writing a post about what happened over Memorial Day weekend with a neighbor. I would love to publish it, but I don’t know if I can make it plain enough to avoid all legal scrutiny and not get in hot water. In a nutshell, a neighbor who has caused the neighborhood and my family great stress went to jail this weekend. I and another neighbor followed the instructions of the police the last time they were here: call if she shows up again. We just wanted her out of the neighborhood. The going to jail part was a surprise and not intended. Now I know why some people don’t get involved. It’s easier and requires less effort and stress.

And if you do get involved, it’s easy to muck it up and experience more stress (I know this firsthand).

I’ve been on the phone with a lawyer about my options to sue since then, and I’ve spoken to a police officer about everything happening in the neighborhood for the past year. My wife and I have had stressful conversations about the situation. Unfortunately, there’s no manual on how to protect your family from people with drug habits.

But there should be.

I went to clinic today and my PFTs haven’t gone back to baseline. Not looking good. So, maybe it’s time for IVs to see if we can nudge them back.

When the nurse was reviewing my records, the conversation went like this: Have you made an appointment with the sinus doctor? No. Have you scheduled a sleep study? No. Have you scheduled a bone scan? No. An oral glucose test? No. And so on.

Working 50 hours a week makes it difficult to spend my weeks enduring medical tests.

A new doctor untrained in the mysteries of CF walked in and surprised me. I’m picky about my doctors and my time. I knew in the initial 30 seconds based on the way she entered, spoke, her mannerisms, and plopping herself on the first chair she could find that I had nothing to say to her. And I told her that, then asked for the regular doc. Nothing personal, I said, as she left. One of the regular doctors I like entered the room and it rained happiness and Skittles. I only had to use a third of the words and effort with her compared to the doctor I booted.

A similar situation happened with a temporary member of the staff. I answered her questions as quickly as I could and got her out of the room as fast as possible. But the visit wore me out, as the longer I’m there, the more the work feels like it’s piling up.

So, all of this and more have added up to remind me why some must turn to drugs in life. The future overwhelms. How much of what we worry about will or won’t happen? I wish I knew.

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My new pet peeve: really long receipts

I guess this has been going on for a while, but really long receipts drive me nuts.

I wonder how many trees take a fall each year to make them. Did someone from the logging community suggest this to companies? “Hey, email is killing us. How about making receipts excessively long to make up for it?”

In the picture below is one receipt that deserved to be 17.5-inches long, as it includes the groceries we purchased for the week (and getting through that week wouldn’t be possible without two boxes of chocolate-covered gummi bears).

37 items in the shorter receipt. 9 items in the long receipt, if you count the 4 sprays of balloon juice. Oh, and the 4 identical balloons. So, really, three different items.

My favorite item on the short receipt is “battered halibut.” I love this name. Someone has a sense of humor at Sprouts. This is the fish half of “fish and chips,” not something hit repeatedly with heavy blows, though who knows what the fishermen did to it when it was caught. It’s possible it was netted by really angry fisherman and spouted off in its fish-way with some attitude, “Kiss my fish tail, ugly humans, for ripping me out of my cozy, cold Atlantic home.” Fishermen to rude halibut: “Batter that fish until it shuts up, men.”

The second receipt, Party City, was for balloons for my wife for Mother’s Day, because nothing says “love” like helium-filled rubber. Not only did Party City give me this super-long 21.5-inch receipt for purchasing five balloons and four sprays of a chemical to keep the rubber ones healthy for more than a day,  they delivered what I would call “less-than-friendly” customer service. Yes, the employees who worked at this location appeared to be “less than enthused” about working Sunday morning after a fun Saturday night of beer pong, Xbox, and borrowing the Party City helium tank to speak in mouse-like voices.

Nothing says “torture” for kids in their early 20s quite like filling up and tying 100s of balloons before the clock strikes noon (the latter action would be enough to make me go mad if I worked there for more than a day, as tying balloons is an action I’ll have to repeat for eternity when I’m working 24-hour days in Hell).

So there you have it, a tale of two receipts. And, yes, I’m quite mad.

The parenting gods deliver another lesson to moi

I should know better.

My wife and I like to have a “clown night” once a month. It makes us laugh and keeps the relationship fresh. (This photo may or may not make more sense later in the post.) © pirotehnik – Fotolia.com 

Fresh off the letter I wrote to my daughter the other day, and thinking about the person she became this year, I decided to surprise her with American Idol tour tickets. We hadn’t planned to go this year, but then I thought, what the heck, she deserves it (and how many concerts can you take a 10-year-old to these days?). So, I bought tickets. Three bills, including parking and ticket insurance.

When my daughter came home from school, I let her know we had a surprise for her and would reveal it during dinner. She asked for two guesses. Clothing? No. My little pony? No.

Off she went to guitar and singing lessons where she told both instructors about the coming surprise of surprises. I don’t think I made it out to be that big. But once again I underestimated the mind of a 10-year-old and the things she can dream up in a section of her brain called, “Cave of Super Cool Surprises.” Evidently it’s quite a spectacular place. No adults allowed.

“All she talked about in the car was the surprise,” my wife said.

Still optimistic, delusional, and blind, I sat down at dinner and started telling my only daughter how we thought she really grew this year. My wife added some nice words and we both realized none of it was sinking in. We were the adults in the Charlie Brown holiday special, “wa wa wa, wa, wa wa,” speaking unintelligible words to a child.

I handed her the piece of paper with the concert information on it.

Then the parenting gods sent in The Clown. And he delivered a large pie to my face. Smash. Cream filling up my nose. “You should have seen that coming,” the Gods said.

My favorite pie to be hit in the face with. © xmasbaby – Fotolia.com

Disappointment on my daughter’s face. I never learn.

She was polite, but we could tell she had something else in mind.

“What were you hoping for?” we asked.

After 30 seconds of not wanting to say it: “an iPhone.”

Send in another clown. Smack, brick to the face. Is that my blood dripping in my pasta?

An iPhone? Hello, left field, are you kidding me with that one?

Oh, yeah, she’s 10. It came from the “surprise” cave in her mind.

And then we had the painful “gee, we sound like parents” conversation about how she didn’t need an iPhone.

“Who would you call?” Silence. “You can use your mother’s iPhone.” Silence. Clearly, she’s a government agent and needs her privacy. Can the government not afford the cost of iPhones for their agents?

I ate my dinner and we talked about the upcoming concert. Once again, I felt like a chump. And my wife salted the wound by reminding me of the bike at Christmas (see post in Dec 2011) and the pain of that unwanted gift.

Lesson learned: Never surprise a child with anything other than the exact gift they want. (In other words, don’t surprise them.) Otherwise, the parenting gods will serve up a harsh lesson delivered by an imaginary clown.

But it will feel like the real thing.

Letter to my daughter – 05/09/12

Dearest Munchkin,

I’m not sure why I chose this image. Well, I do know, I think. But I’m not telling. © INFINITY – Fotolia.com

10 years have blown by, a heavy gust of wind, and when I rubbed the sand from my eyes there you were tall, funny, and with feet almost as big as your mother’s.

In a few years the two of you are going to see eye to eye, literally, which may be the only time the two of you do during your teen years. But in case I’m not around, remember what I’ve told you since you were a baby: No one will ever love you more than your mother does. So, treat her love with respect – as if it’s the most precious, fragile object in the world and it’s your job to carry it from point A to point B without dropping it. Godspeed.

I’m writing to your future self tonight to tell you how proud I am of the way you handled this entire soccer season. If you remember, the previous season ended with a hard talk about your effort and not being a top player, which didn’t match up with your self-assessment. But you found some inner fortitude and proved you had it in you. I hope you never forget what you did and who you became. And I don’t mean the goals or assists or defense or transforming into a better soccer player. It was about more than that.

I’m talking about the effort you put into it and the results you earned and the person you became. Yes, that is what had me in awe the whole season. And I’m hoping it’s a lesson you’ll take away and remember forever, or by reading this letter you’ll be reminded of the spring you grew in more than height.

You learned one of the most important lessons in life: great effort equals great reward. And that’s what I want you to remember in this world of instant fame and riches for being an idiot. Most of the time, barring a lotto win or role on an MTV series, it still comes down to elbow grease, passion, and not giving up against great odds.

You displayed a great deal of character this year. It’s been a pleasure watching you evolve into a more complex person, which probably doesn’t describe it well, but that is what you are now. You’re more interesting to watch and listen to not because you’re a kid doing kid things that parents find interesting, but because you’re becoming unpredictable and surprising, with depth. And that feels like a huge compliment in my book of life.

She shoots, she scores. GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL.

The next 10 years may be rough sailing at times. But after seeing you explode into a solar storm of character and confidence this year, I’m certain that no matter how hard things get at times, you will have the inner strength, humor, and craftiness (like a fox), to make it through the darkest moments of doubt and come out stronger and wiser.

Have faith, my daughter. Have faith. But it also doesn’t hurt to have a good plan and an understanding that you’re going to get everything out of life that you put into it.

So remember, no slack for the timid. Or goals.

Love always,

Daddy

Remembering the mistakes, forgetting the successes, and the evolution of one’s character

I can remember every failure or mistake I’ve ever made. I could write out a list right now. Give me some ink, a quill, and a monk’s desk, and I could create a scroll that when opened would roll out for miles and miles.

I often wonder if other people face this or have this negative habit.

Say hello to my little friend, Jingles. He’s a genius. © Amy Walters – Fotolia.com

Every day I’m reminded of a few choice errors. It’s hard to predict which ones, but some bad memory comes flooding back. And I beat myself up about it.

The ones that hurt the most are the ones that hurt our family and have kept us from having more in life. But there are relationship mistakes I’ve made too, and those smart sometimes. And then there are the mistakes that have damaged my health. Ouch, thinking about a few now.

This is like shaking a warm can of Coke and popping the top.

I don’t remember very many of the successes. It’s either because there haven’t been very many or I don’t feel deserving of them? I have no idea, but the ratio is skewed in favor of remembering the idiotic and stupid things I’ve done – most too embarrassing to mention.

I try not to think of my first 25 years at all. They’re a collage of mistakes and bad choices and feeling like the village idiot. I’m lucky I didn’t end up in jail or an urn.

I’ve never claimed to be bright. And if anything, I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten smarter over the years as much as I would say I’m just not as dumb as I once was. So, I guess it comes down to degrees of stupidity. I’m less stupid than I was. Barely.

If there is a bright spot, I feel like I’ve improved as a human being over the years. It just took me a long time to get to this point. And I did have to figure out a lot of it on my own and the evolution took a little bit longer than it does for most people. Not that I have everything figured out now. I don’t.

I tell my daughter that the worse part of lying or doing bad things is not always the action itself, it’s the memories of what you did. They last a lifetime and haunt like ghosts.

Parody of Mad Libs – Cystic Fibrosis Version

It’s time for some big fun, or a bad experience if you choose _______(adjective) words. © kennykiernan – Fotolia.com

[Remember the rules – ask someone else for the missing words. Be careful, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote this, or which direction the experiment will go.]

Having cystic fibrosis requires ________(adjective) treatments and regular visits to the ________ (place). I force myself to cough up  _____(color) ______ (plural noun) every day in order to keep my ______ (plural noun) free of _______(adjective) _________(noun).

If I  catch a _____(noun) or _______(noun), I get very sick and have to _______(verb) to the _______(location) Once there, _______ (adjective) nurses ______(verb) my _________(noun) and make me ________(verb) until I faint.

I _____(verb) the doctor at the _____(adjective) clinic at least once a(n) _______(noun). During every visit, I blow into a _________(noun) to test my  ______(noun) function. My face turns ______(adjective) and I ______(verb) until I catch my _______(noun).

Sometimes, the _______(adjective) technician x-rays my _______(noun) to make sure I don’t have a ________(adjective) infection or ________(noun) in my ________(body part).

My least favorite _________(noun) to inhale is made of _________ (noun) and ________(noun) and tastes like _______(animal) brewed in ________(bad-tasting liquid).

Thanks to _____(adjective) medicines many of us with cystic ________(exclamation) fibrosis will ________(verb) longer and lead ______ (adjective) lives. We also have a ______(adjective) perspective of life and know that every _______(singular noun) counts.

Stay healthy, my wonderful _______(plural noun).