A perfect day with my daughter (with an assist from a reader of this blog)

When you’re living in overtime, or extra time, bonus time – whatever you’d like to call the point at which every moment you have left matters (a lot) – you fall in love with the days when everything comes together and the Universe hands you a gift.

Toss in a little luck with an email from a reader of this blog and it becomes the “perfect” day.

With my wife fighting a cold, my 11 year-old daughter and I visited the Renegade Craft Fair,  located between Chinatown and Downtown LA. It was our holiday gift-finding adventure on a Saturday morning. And, as a bonus, the weather gods delivered the optimal temperature: 75 degrees, light breeze and crystal clear sky with minimal pollution that we could see.

Now just a bit of back story.

Usually I drag my daughter to early morning flea markets and swap meets in search of reclaimed wood and metal pieces and other unique items I can refinish for the house. Like the time we drove all the way to the Long Beach Flea Market and I told my daughter it might be chilly out and to dress warmly, only to get an 80-degree day. This led to “angry tweener syndrome,” which is a lot like walking the booths with the Tasmanian Devil at your side. It bites. So keep your eyes forward and ignore the snarling noises.

This image is from the Renegade Craft Fair site. It's located in other cites too. Check it out.

This image is from the Renegade Craft Fair site. It’s located in other cites too. Check it out.

What I’ve learned is my daughter at 11 has a very narrow range in her comfort zone. Tired, hot, and hungry all lead to beating up daddy with “grumpitude.”

But the Renegade Fair, with its jewelry and clothing, was more her style. And though she overdressed a bit, losing the wool scarf upon arrival, she took to the hip, LA cool of the place right away, especially when it’s almost Christmas and I’m footing the bill.

90 minutes later, we left with bags and more bags of soaps, caramel popcorn (peppermint was my favorite, curry, hers), seed bombs, fruit preserves, lip balms, and a hanging terrarium for her mom. We also rejoiced in helping small businesses and scoring great Christmas gifts. Double Bonus.

(Now the story shifts sideways for a moment.)

The best part of writing this blog is the people I’ve met online, from Van Nuys CA, not too far away, to Australia and England, and down south to Georgia. And Texas. And Boston. And Valencia CA. And Minnesota. I fear mentioning just these locations because they don’t cover all of my blog friends. But they’re far and wide.

I email back and forth with many of these wonderful and caring people and they prevent me from being completely hopeless and negative about humanity.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Larry emailed me and mentioned he saw a place TV show with a restaurant in LA called Homegirl Cafe and asked if I’ve ever been there. I haven’t. And it’s in Downtown LA, so I doubt I ever will, I tell him. But I research it, finding out Homeboy/Homegirl helps transform gang members with “Jobs, not Jail,” an excellent cause here in LA. I’m intrigued and put in on my mental bucket list.

Heaven, cucumber, lime and pineapple in a plastic glass. (Is that correct? Plastic glass? Hmm.)

Heaven, cucumber, lime and pineapple in a plastic glass. (Is that correct? Plastic glass? Hmm.)

So, as my daughter and I drive away from the craft fair, what restaurant do I pass?

If you guessed Homegirl, you are correct. (Larry, my friend, you are a Prince.)

The Universe said: Luck is your responsibility. 

U-Turn made.

Daddy, was that legal? 

We skip driving home and park at Homegirl.

Luck had found us thanks to a simple question in a simple email. And my daughter and I enjoy a great memory and brunch – a bacon omelette, in which she removes the bacon strip and tries to eat it all at once. “You eat like a barbarian,” I say. She smiled a big bacon smile.

The Universe rewarded me with an amazing Cucumber, pineapple and lime drink and I enter “foodie heaven” – and feel good about supporting a wonderful enterprise like Homegirl.

I read a theory on time once that stated it feels slow for us when we’re young because we fill it constantly with new experiences and memories. As we grow older, we create fewer new memories and time feels like it goes faster.

I’m not sure if the theory is correct or not, but I can say this: 4.5 hours of airway clearance a day, and three to four hospitalizations a year, are worth the price of admission to a life with days like this one.

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I’ve been cheating on my blog

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry I haven’t been here for you. Yes, you probably suspected something was wrong. You were right. I’m writing somewhere else now.

In fact, I started a web site with a friend. And on that web site is, yes, a blog. I’ve written six or seven posts and other pieces so far. I can’t tell you what it’s about yet, but I will soon.

I feel terrible that I cheated on you. But it’s for the best. Or best for me. And really, let’s be frank, that’s what I care about the most.

I’ll be back soon. I promise. Don’t be angry.

UC

Holland saves my blog

I gave some deep thought to quitting this blog after my last post. Then the comments started rolling in – 4 of them.

I have four readers?

Holy cow. How did I get that many readers? That’s four times as many as I thought I had.

I can’t quit my blog. There are four people out there crazier than I am and depend on my mad rants to make their day. I can’t let them down.

Or can I? Four readers? I’m sure they could find another blog. But I like those Four readers. Hmm, what to do? Stay or run?

And then I read the fourth and final comment and this quote: “if it helps… your blog is WORLD FAMOUS! Seriously, in holland, basically every single person reads it.”

Every person in Holland reads my blog?

If only I could fly, I'd visit my pals in the summer. © Lsantilli - Fotolia.com

If only I could fly, I’d visit my pals in the summer. © Lsantilli – Fotolia.com

Well, that’s a lot more people than four. What’s the population of Holland? (Let’s see, I have to multiply the number of tulips by the number of wooden shoes, then add the number of bicycles and windmills and divide by 1,000, which equals a population of 6,065,459. Or around that. Math isn’t an exact science after all.)

How could I possibly let down over 6 million hard working people from Holland? What kind of person would I be if I did that?

After all, I’m the David Hasselhoff of Holland! But without the singing.

So, thanks to my four readers and the region of Holland, I will continue to blog. My friends for life: Larry, Karyn, Tara, Djun and the best and smartest people in all of the Netherlands – those pals of mine in wonderful Holland.

Party like it’s your last, and always take the time to smell the tulips.

I heart Holland.

My wife discovers my blog

Everything is temporary. Especially secrets.

After 3 years, 4 months, 383 posts, 2,733 comments, and rarely publicizing my blog, my wife discovered it. The gig is up, done, over. Goodbye to my secret. It’s kaput. ARGGGHHHH!

So, how did this happen and who is to blame?

Congratulations to my wife for her discovery. Well done. (I love you a ton, honey. Now find the next one. :-) ) © iQoncept - Fotolia.com

Congratulations to my wife for her discovery. Well done. (I love you a ton, hot mama. Now find the next one. 🙂 )
© iQoncept – Fotolia.com

Google. Yes, Google.

Bang. Done. Over with.

But did the little detective tell me right away when she found it? No. She read a bunch of the posts first.

However, unlike me, she’s the worst when it comes to keeping secrets and couldn’t help but confess, though I give her style points for her method of choice: she wrote a comment for a post, used her silly Disney alias, Dakota, and sent it with an email address I’d recognize.

I walked the 50 feet to her home office. And that was it. I got the low down on how she found it.

One of my blogging friends emailed me a CF question about marriage and I copied and pasted the text to my wife to get her opinion. She Googled my friend’s name and it came up attached to my blog, which she clicked on. It didn’t take her long to put 7 and 10 together (Denver Broncos, Fox, McGriddles) and realize it was me. (BTW, Josh, she really likes the header you created. Thank you.)

Somehow, my wife finding it feels like an ending. 

So, what do I do now? Do I continue to write this blog? Do I quit it and start another, bury it deeper in the internet?

Or, do I hand it over to her and let her write it for a while? (You found it, it’s your responsibility now, Honey.)

I don’t know. We’ll see. To be continued. Or not.

All work and no play, or blogging

This is fun with hypertonic saline at a hotel. The sun was coming in the window and I thought it was cool looking to blow into the light. Yes, I have problems, like having to get up early on business trips to do treatments.

This is fun with hypertonic saline at a hotel. The sun was coming in the window and I thought it was cool looking to blow into the light. Yes, I have problems, like having to get up early on business trips to do treatments.

I just finished two back-to-back work trips. Drove for both of them as I haven’t been on a plane in . . . a long time. So long I don’t remember.

Bad things happen to me on planes. But I do miss going places on business and with my family. We do, however, seem to find plenty of local places to drive to and still have a boatload of fun.

I do miss going to Hawaii. And I’d like to go to England to see a soccer game with a couple of friends, then get arrested and spend the night in an English jail. How cool would that be? Would I get “the rack”?

When I saw the date of my last post, I couldn’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written anything. I know why blogs die off. It takes a lot of energy to keep them going. I’m in year four. Yay.

So, what’s new to report on. Looks like a good chunk of my lung function isn’t coming back. I’m hovering around 50%. It seems like I went from 70 to 50 overnight, but that’s not true. It took some years to do it. I fought every step of the way. However, whereas my PFT chart use to contain flowing, smooth hills and valleys, it now looks like an earthquake graph. Up and down, up and down, but mostly down.

I had to work during my daughter’s spring break. Not much choice, but I felt bad. It’s always a balance between keeping the job that pays well and gives great benefits and spending time with my wife and daughter.

I’ve also been building a linen closet door. It’s the door from hell and has schooled me, and beat me, and perplexed me throughout the process.  I almost gave up. But I’ve learned a lot of lessons, and that has value. I added my ninth coat of Tung oil tonight and will never use the stuff again. Back to shellac. I’ll post some pictures next week.

That’s it. I’m here, breathing. I woke up today, which is always a huge win. The rest is a bonus.

Conundrum

It starts with waking up to read my work email in the morning. I don’t look forward to it. There is something about it now that makes me wonder how valuable a lot of what I do really is. I don’t think it was always this way. And I don’t think it has to do with my having less enthusiasm for work email. It’s the email that’s changed. Economy, people worrying about their jobs, tracking everything, measuring and justifying one’s existence, busy work. I don’t know. I just know the quality and quantity of it is painful at times. A distraction from work that matters.

My life will be coming to an end in an unknown amount of minutes, hours, days, weeks, years. If I could find out exactly what day I will die, it would allow me to allocate my resources. 3 months, 6 months? Hmm, perhaps I’m done wasting my time with pointless work. Hello, Las Vegas. Hello, speeding tickets. 5 years to 10 years left? Well then, work is good. Keep on trucking. Benefits, a paycheck – all good. No reason to risk anything.

I’m lucky to have a wife and daughter, two dogs, a job, a house, a car, health insurance. Knock on wood. Life’s checklist is good. I’m lucky. Good too. But what do I do with the rest of my time? It feels like I should be doing more and that I know better than to waste time and worry about trivial stuff. It could all end tomorrow. But one has to survive. Artists and musicians glamorize this situation, as if I should be driving a VW van while lip-syncing to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” I suck at making the most of life. I must have slept through that class in school.

Ah, Ms. Perry, What was Russell thinking?
Photo by Eva Rinaldi – Creative Commons

My garage is full of crap. It’s a warehouse for items I may need once in the next 5 years. It feels like a ball and chain. Stuff weighs a lot. I don’t have the courage to throw it all away. Who knows when I’ll need that spare insulation or scrap of plywood.

I surf the Internet too much. It’s a distraction, has ruined my concentration, and keeps me from doing anything that takes effort, such as writing a blog post. It is escape. I’ve mastered it.

I dislike Yahoo! and its headline stories about nothing. Yahoo! – it’s your brain on cotton candy. “Levi Johnson Poses with Baby Daughter.” At what point is that story worthy of a major headline? Have you ever noticed how many stories are about celebrities’ new hair styles?

Yapoo!

I’m tired of Apple mania. I dig the new Samsung Galaxy commercial poking fun at waiting in line for an iPhone. It’s pitch perfect. I own Apple everything, but now I’m wondering if I joined a cult and they’ll be asking me to drink iKool-Aid soon.

I fear failure, but have nothing to lose, or everything. I’m not sure.

I have ideas. Always have. But I was born without the gene to make shit happen.

This is my conundrum.

I miss the beach and blogging

Readers of this blog know I do a pretty good job of flogging myself for all of the poor decisions I’ve made in my life, and continue to make. I wish I could let them go. But in the interest of balance, I’m going to pat myself on the back for a very good decision, one of the best I’ve ever made: renting a house at the beach for a month.

No one had a better time than our black lab. She loved retrieving the tennis ball and eating sandwiches out of strangers’ hands when they weren’t paying attention. A little bit embarrassing. For us, not her.

Every dog gets lucky once in a blue moon. And man did I have good fortune spending 28 days 108 steps from the sand. And despite my wife and I having to work during part of the stay, it was still awesome. Late afternoon walks with my daughter and the dogs. The awesomeness of the air, wind, and sunlight reflecting off the ocean. The lifestyle and relaxed pace. The calm. Did I mention the air? The ocean air. Let’s add sleeping with the window open at night, sound of waves crashing in the distance, burrowed under a comforter to the list of awesome everyday occurrences.

Yes, while the Valley melted in August with triple-digit temperatures, we chilled in the low to mid 70s everyday. And despite using sunscreen, I need to delay an overdue skin doctor appointment until the color of my skin fades from brown. Lesson learned: reapply often at the beach.

So, I miss the damn place. And since returning home, I’ve been very lazy. I can’t explain it. But I understand now how blogs fade away. Check out my blogroll. So many good writers that don’t post anymore. Blogging again feels a little bit like going to the gym again after being away for a while. Step one: sit in front of the computer and log on to WordPress. Step two: click “posts, new.”

So, simple in theory, so hard in practice.

The irony, if that’s the correct word, is that I have a lot to write about: Beach stories, panic attacks, and the kitchen remodel. Oh, yeah, the kitchen remodel. What a stressful experience that was. And it’s not quite over yet. I am cursed with the vision of spotting imperfections. That’s all I’m saying about it right now lest I have to reach for the Ativan. The remodel story deserves at least one post of its own.

I also want thank the universe for allowing me to make it through the month at the ocean without any hospital stays. It’s not to say I wasn’t tested at times, but I made it and enjoyed the 28 days surf side, not in jail.

More to come later. Today, my goal was to drive to the gym, got on the exercise bike and keep my expectations simple. Check. Done.