Parenting for the upcoming zombie wars

As my daughter approaches her teen years, my level of stress and worry increases: drugs, alcohol, guns, driving, high school drama, school shootings, men and boys that may want to hurt her, ineffective antibiotics, the bird flu, and who knows what else my mind can conjure up.

Wait, I do know: the end of the world and the complete breakdown of society as we know it.

I've been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood - Fotolia.com

I’ve been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood – Fotolia.com

There I said it. Throw me in an underground holding tank with a deck of Uno cards and the rest of the doomsday nuts.

However, before you do, I wonder if I and others haven’t been approaching parenting the wrong way. I mean we’re the protective generation of parents, aren’t we? We do everything we can to keep our children safe, which is a good thing. But I  wonder if we should have been looking at the “big picture” instead of worrying about our kids falling off a swing at the park, or riding a skateboard without knee pads.

Like doing more to make sure they inherit a habitable Earth.

I know other generations of parents have worried about their children and the future. However, are we the first parents to ever have the concern of our planet being so screwed up it won’t be able to sustain life?

And, as life heads to a possible end with food and water shortages, overpopulation, a larger percentage of poor, rising sea levels and global warming, what will those last years of life on the planet be like?

Yes, I worry too much. I know. I just wonder while the majority of us are working our asses off, and paying bills, and putting food on the table, and figuring out how to pay medical bills, and stressing about our jobs, who is keeping the planet safe from harm?

Was that up to us too?

I think it was.

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The video on stress that helped me a great deal

Based on the number of stress-caused visits I’ve made to the emergency room in my lifetime, I’m the last person to give advice on dealing with stress.

To the rescue: ted.com.

I share this video in the interest of helping others deal with something I’ve done a really lousy job of overcoming. And, thanks to the the content of this video, I think about stress in a different way now.

Who knew it was so simple?

What keeps me up at night

I believe we make our own luck, but that doesn't mean it's not fragile and fleeting.

I believe we make our own luck, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fragile and fleeting.

For a long time it was stress and the fear of not waking up. Now, it’s something else. When I finally figured it out, it surprised me – a lot.

It’s luck.

Yes, luck, and thinking how lucky I am to have everything I have. A great and caring wife, a perfectly imperfect daughter, 1,850 sq. ft of house, with equity, black and yellow labradors, good friends, a job.

Life hasn’t always been this way for me. But it has been lately.

I am grateful for having so much in a world growing hotter every year, filled with too many people living in poverty, and too many people who believe they never have enough, though I can’t exclude myself from that last category many days. I’m surrounded by daily reminders of great wealth in Los Angeles: McMansions, 100K+ cars, and an environment where my daughter counted how many kids in her class brought MacBook Pros to school, making her inexpensive ASUS seem inferior, though I will be speaking to her that it’s not the computer that matters, it’s what you do with it.

But what keeps me up nights is thinking about how lucky I am and how I could have it so much worse than I do. And wondering when I will.

The 87-hour work week (Yes, there is a hell)

I wake up between 7 and 8 in the morning. The red light on my Blackberry flashes and I check my email while I’m still in bed. Then it’s a short walk to my laptop.

The workday begins. And it’s intense. Not a leisurely day. Juggling to-do items, and nervous people who have never done a multi-city event before, and email – loads of email, which makes me remember I used to be creative in this job. Now I write email.

Chisel this on my tombstone: He wrote a shitload of email, and some were well written. My legacy.

As the day goes on, I eat breakfast and lunch at my desk. I take a couple of short breaks during the day, and I eat dinner with my family before going back to work until between 11 and midnight.

My dreams are made of these. © Tryfonov - Fotolia.com

When I work at Home Depot, I plan and saying clever things, such as, “ex-screws me, do you need help?”  © Tryfonov – Fotolia.com

Repeat.

Tomorrow will be my 24th work day in a row. At least my schedule is easing to 11 and 12 hour days, but I am tired. And I think a lot about doing something else with the remaining hours of my life. I should be able to do better than this.

I dream of working at The Home Depot in the screws and bolts aisle, and telling customers the unique qualities of flatheads, phillips and square-drive heads – when to use galvanized, stainless steel, or deck screws – and when to give up and call a contractor.

I dream of simplicity and meaning.

My work-cation comes to an end and my top five vacation moments

The good news: Monday’s return to work won’t be quite the shock it normally is after a vacation because I worked most of the time I was on vacation. (This is my “glass is half full” attitude, which is kind of working for me right now.)

The bad news: I have to go back to work on Monday and I won’t be in Ventura CA doing it. And the next few weeks of work will be brutal.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching my daughter learn to boogie board. When my advice failed, she got angry. When it worked, she caught a wave and yelled, "Did you see that one, Daddy?" Yes, yes, I did. And it was great.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching my daughter learn to boogie board. When my advice failed, she got angry. When it worked, she caught a wave and yelled, “Did you see that one, Daddy?” Yes, yes, I did. And it was great.

I heart Ventura CA. And if it weren’t for our friends and my daughter’s school, I’d move the family. My wife, however, says my love affair with Ventura and the ocean is vacation-related and living there would be something different. And though my wife is right more times than I care to admit in writing, she’s wrong on this one (I think). I could live there in a heartbeat, even if we were miles from the ocean, which might be warmer and a better choice.

The house we stayed in was around 900 sq. ft. So, coming home to over 1,800 sq. ft makes our house feel almost McMansion-like. In fact, it makes me feel better that we didn’t do two things:

  1. Add on to our house during the real estate boom, which we thought about and would be still be paying for right now if we had.
  2. We didn’t move into a larger house, as it would mean more to clean, to heat, to cool.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t like more space around the outside of the house and a workshop for my tools, but the physical space we need to live in might not be as much as I thought. I just need to be more clever with the space we have.

Since returning mid-day yesterday, Saturday, I haven’t done much at all. I returned to my Treadmill Desk (over 8 miles walked) and escaped into a novel (The Cuckoo’s Calling) while doing it. I have a dozen projects around the house to complete, but haven’t worked up the energy to tackle one of them, owing my laziness to having a lot on my mind, like how to get rich and buy a vacation house in Ventura. Simple thoughts like that.

My top five Ventura moments:

  1. Standing deep in the water and watching my daughter boogie board and catch a huge wave. Her eyes got really big and I could tell she wasn’t too sure about it (a fear/excitement cocktail). But she held on and I was there to see it. I am lucky.
  2. My wife’s crazy lip-sync dance to a reggae song, and the fact I videotaped it for embarrassing her at a party one day. Priceless. Gold.
  3. Dinner with our good friends, outdoors, at the Sushi House on a perfect night. Great food, laughs, and excellent sushi a block from the beach. What more is there to want in life?
  4. Go-kart racing with my 12-year-old nephew and literally driving him into the rail/wall when he tried to pass me. Gotta teach the young ones to respect their elders now, don’t we?
  5. Dinner at Rice Thai with my wife, daughter and 10-year-old niece, who stayed with us for three days and came up with the idea she wanted to own the sun and sell sunlight to everyone. It’s good to think big before the reality of life crushes your dreams (hey, what happened to my “glass is half-full” spirit? That didn’t last long).

That’s it for now. Back to the chain gain and breaking rocks.

Some days, it’s hard being a husband

Message from Fox: Unknown, you big pussy. Get off your lazy ass and make the magic happen. You're the king of excuses.

Message from Fox: Unknown, you big pussy. Get off your lazy ass and make the magic happen. You’re the king of excuses.

I should have paid more attention in school when I was younger.

If only my parents had given me a modicum of guidance how to be successful in life, though they weren’t exactly models of it.

It probably would have been better had I not spent years 18 – 25 watching TV, going to movies, reading comic books, thinking I wouldn’t live to see 25, and not doing anything to build for my future.

Oops. Slight miscalculation on my part.

Would have, should have, could have. Famous last words of most f**k-ups.

And though I feel like I turned my life around by finishing college and getting a good job, I am paying a price for my stupidity and laziness that reveals itself – painfully – in my role as husband.

The short of it: My wife hates her job, but it affords her a very good salary for part-time work, though she works full-time a lot, which is sort of the American way, isn’t it? We all work more hours than we have to for fear we’ll lose our jobs to one of the many unemployed.

But aren’t there so many unemployed out there because we’re working extra hours and companies don’t have to hire more employees?

I digress with a topic for another post.

If I were a successful husband, my wife would not have to work, would be happier, and we would have everything we need based on the results of my labor.

We do all right and aren’t living paycheck to paycheck like we were many years ago. And I know some of the responsibility lies with the fact this country demands both parents work to get by – it’s not the 1950s anymore. But I live in a city full of million-dollar homes and 75K cars and its difficult not to notice and want.

It’s hard not to feel like a failure when my wife comes to me each day with stories about her stressful job, and I see the toll it takes on her. And no amount of my advice, suggestions, or feedback can save her from it. And there’s no way to rescue her with the income from the company I don’t own, or the invention I never invented, or the stand-up career I never had because I was afraid.

I have yet to crack the code of big success, despite what some say about it being so easy in a country of opportunity. It’s beyond me. I’m still trying, but time is running out.

8 days of work, football, videos, crappy food, and IV antibiotics

I’m home after one of the least eventful hospital stays in a long time. Other than having to ask for a different nurse after the first one tanked a port-needle change, my prison days rolled by with minimal pain and little to talk to the doctors about, other than why my lung function has dropped and is not improving.

I know most people have one time, short stays in the hospital, but after dozens of visits, I can't take the food anymore.

I know most people have one-time, short stays in the hospital, but after dozens of visits, I can’t take the food anymore.

That is the worrisome part. Or, the part I don’t want to talk about right now.

I pounded out a decent amount of work while in captivity. Sometimes even I wonder why I do it, but I’m just programmed that way.

And perhaps that was the most stressful part of the jail time – work.

Our 8-person group is coming under fire from new management for reasons unknown. It’s a little like elementary school when the entire class loses their recess because of the actions of a few. I just saved anyone reading this the details, but it created a lot of stress for me not just in the way work stress does. Instead it made me realize I can’t put up with some of this bullshit anymore as my life comes to an end. It’s not worth it and my time is too valuable.

I will say this: If it weren’t for my wife and daughter, I might give up. Yes, I know I’m the luckiest man in the world, but even with that in mind, getting painted into a corner in life, or feeling trapped, can make one feel hopeless.

It’s always the total load, trying to work, make money, avoid jail time, keep my lung function up, and float on top of the cloud of trivial bullshit some people live in.

Some days it feels overwhelming and I wish I were pushing a basket around downtown Los Angeles with my black lab and IV machine in tow, which may be happening soon the way work is going these days.

So, with a heavy mind, I spent a lot of time escaping into videoland at night, watching movies or runs of TV episodes, like House of Games (awesome), and Justified (pretty good; I wish I was either the actor that plays Raylan Givens, or Givens himself. There is something to be said for being cool in life).

So, life goes on as I complete the IVs at home, Inipenem every six hours with a 3-hour drip, and Tobra once a day for 60 minutes.

I’ll have plenty of time to think about my next move before others make it for me.