June 29

Scar Tissue

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I unfolded the washcloth and placed it on my head. Turning towards my son, I handed him a clean washcloth. He took it and then placed it on his head before smiling a huge smile. 

Let’s face it, kids are impressionable. They are taught to emulate us from birth. There is no level up where kids suddenly discover communication or walking. They learn these things, over time, from watching their parents.

Now, I use a moment between my son and a washcloth to explain in the most stripped down way classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is a psychology term I learned in my brief stint as a college student. Basically, actions and behaviors are learned reactions.

It is getting a little mumble jumbled in here and my head hurts. What I am saying is the overused cliché “Do as I say not as I do” is crap.

When child rearing we have to be not just cautious, but overly cautious of what traits and behaviors we are passing on to our children. This moves past physical actions into the realm of ideas, thoughts and beliefs we might inadvertently impress upon our children.

What? What I do in my day-to-day my child is watching and may try to emulate?

Yes. Exactly. Children are perceptive little fuckers, aren’t they? Just when you think they weren’t listening to you, they repeat the time you said, “Auntie is a bitch!” at a brunch with said bitch aunt.

In the moment it is mortifying and we kick ourselves. Later, after retelling the tale to friends and family we can laugh, right?

Well, I suppose.

The problem isn’t with the washcloth on the head or embarrassing mom and dad by calling Auntie a bitch to her face. The problem is what else our kids are learning from us. It is them learning our insecurities, our flaws, our reactions to adversity, our opinions on others; that is the scary part.

Hatred and bigotry are instilled. No one is born hating someone simply because of different skin color or lifestyles. The first place these judgements are learned? Within the home.

The other day, after being called homophobic, I did what anyone would do. I blasted Elton John and called every gay friend I could think of to make sure we were cool and to let them know that their same-sex lifestyle was totally cool in the eyes of this heterosexual.

That is a joke, obviously I don’t have gay friends. Another joke, relax!

What it did was cause me to reflect on my actions and the way I go about saying things or doing things, on the off-chance that my kids might perceive something said or done jokingly as serious.

Just as walking and talking are taught, so are hatred and bigotry. We have to, as responsible and reasonable adults, raise our children to be understanding and loving.

So many people feel accomplished not swearing around their children. They should feel accomplished, but at the same time, that’s not where we should stop.

Do you have to accept things like same-sex marriage? Yeah, sorry, but you do. You don’t have to agree with it. Agreeing and accepting are two TOTALLY different things. I accept the rules I have at work, I don’t agree with them (we should be able to wear headphones, just saying). You have to accept though.

Before going on, I was called homophobic BEFORE same-sex marriage became nationwide. I personally fully support it and think it is long overdue. I have a sexy Latina wife, while I am not Latino. Did you know there was a time when the bible was used as basis against interracial relationships?

When beliefs are rooted in hatred or, worse, bigotry then we have to take a step back and see if it is something we want to pass on to our offspring. My wife said something wonderful the other day:

“The past few days events remind me a lot of the desegregation of our country. Many people opposed and spread hate. The legalization of same-sex marriage appalls many, [and is] accepted by some. Our children will see this as normal one day, our grandchildren will study this moment in history, shake their (sic) heads, and will wonder what the big deal was.”

It is clear we live in an ever progressive age, which should be praised by all. If we can create a world where everyone loves and accepts one another than have we not succeeded as parents? I don’t want my children to live in fear or judgement, do you want yours to?

It comes down to us and what we are teaching our children. Purposely or accidentally.

So I sit here with washcloth still on my head, asking my fellow parents not to agree with everything they see, but to accept the things that are for the better of the world. The spread of love is always a victory. Spread love and acceptance. Teach understanding.*

*If the world bursts into a fiery inferno filled with homosexual orgies, then disregard my advice. I think we will be safe though.

Now, before I even publish this I know there will just be that one fucking person out there that tries to spin some sort of way to make it seem like being a homosexual is learned too. Dude or Lady Dude, I didn’t learn to like women it just fucking happened. Same thing goes for homosexuality, it just fucking happens. 

 

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June 17

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

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Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

For a time in my life I wore a WWJD bracelet on my wrist. For those not in the know, it stands for what would Jesus do. I wholly believed all actions should be put through the what would Jesus do rigors before being set in motion.

My first fight I think I cried harder than the kid I punched in the face. He never hit me back, just sat there on his ass with a bloody nose and a look of complete shock. I was a mess of fear. Jesus wouldn’t punch someone in the face. He would continue to turn the other cheek, even after the strawberries he had spent so many months cultivating were destroyed. He would turn another cheek even after being put in a cardboard box that was then flipped and kicked. Jesus would pray for the boy in the hopes he realized the torment and pain he was causing.

I never understood why that boy hated me. It is usually really easy to hate those that don’t have much of anything in the world. I was the boy who lived in a dilapidated apartment, even by project housing standards. I lived in the apartment where a utility cord ran from our neighbors to us because it had been God knows how long since we had electricity. I was the kid who went smiling and singing the gospel of the good lord to anyone willing to listen, even though clearly the lord hadn’t visited this part of town. The part of town where your kids could play in parking lots covered with broken glass.

“But that’s not what Jesus would do!”

My first response when I was told to hit the kid who hated me for no reason other than I existed. Jesus wouldn’t hit him and neither will I. I could make him my friend, I just knew it!

I don’t know what happened that day. The day I decided to step away from what Jesus would do. A reckoning was upon us on the day I decided to step from the path of turning the other cheek and deal out sweet righteousness.

I swung. I connected. I cried.

It felt great.

That moment when my right hand connected with his face will go down as a moment in time that still sends an excited chill up my spine. I took control out of the hands of Our Father and handed out sweet, sweet, justice. It was my deliverance.

After crying my way home eventually I calmed down enough to feel it. The adrenaline that pulsed through my veins. I couldn’t even feel my swollen hand. As we marched over to the boys apartment so white trash parents could sort out white trash problems the adrenaline had me walking on sunshine. 

His mom and my mom squabbled back and forth before settling things however grownups settle things. I stared down my once oppressor. I stared and smiled as he shrunk in the corner with his wide eyes and toilet paper stuffed nose. He no longer wanted to kick the shit out of me as I sat naively in a box. He wanted to run, be anywhere but the room he was in. And why? Because I had punched him in his mouth and taken control. His eyes were wide with fear. Of me.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

That wasn’t the last thrill of violence in my life. I didn’t hang up the gloves and walk away. I didn’t feel guilt when in the third grade I hit Evan in the face with a rock. The thrill existed when I slammed Mike’s head against the floor.

All justified. All justice.

I can’t lie, I look back and revel sometimes. A past of fights and brawls where I came out roughed up but not the roughest. There will always be a part of me that holds and yearns for the thrill of settling a dispute with pure savage violence.

That part, the beast that controlled me for most of my life lies in dormant chains. My broken hands, hurt everyday, They hurt from punching people or walls or whatever was in front of me when I was angry. I run my tongue over my lips to feel the scars from split lips. The Popcorn Brawl. Split both my upper and lower lip open that night. Scars and stories are what remains of the past.

These hands have inflicted so much fucking pain on the world.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

“No, we don’t hit son”

I repeat these words to my two-year old. If he only knew how addicting hitting is.

If he only knew the family motto, “When in doubt, knock em out”

I sit there and hold my six month old, marveling at how quickly he has grown. I worry he has the beast in him that is only sated with violence.

I sit there with my family, hoping that each day I control the blood lust and erase a little bit of the old family motto.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

I repeat them, over and over, to my kids.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another.

I take these words and say them to my sons, in hopes that over time I begin to believe them too.


“Our hands are for good things. Our hands are for kindness. Our hands should never hurt another. “

Originally found these words and inspiration in this beautiful essay here. Thank you, Misfit, for inspiring this post. 

 

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June 13

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

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I looked excitedly in the mirror. Any moment now. I thought to myself. As the clock struck midnight I watched in amazement as- nothing fucking happened!

 

Yeah, turning 24 doesn’t have the same excitement as say 18 or the beloved 21. I didn’t spend the last week excited for all the cool things I would be able to do at 24. When I turn 24, things will be different! This excited thought didn’t run through my head. I even checked my chest to see if puberty would finally finish its fucking job and put some hair on my sweet dad bod. Nope, nothing.

 

I actually rang in my birthday at work, how awesome (read: LAME) is that?

 

24 just isn’t one of the exciting ones. How many of those do I have left anyways? The big 3-0, where I need to buy a motorcycle and go through a crisis? The 6-5, where everywhere gives me you’re going to die soon discounts?

You want to hear about my exciting birthday plans? I get to share my birthday party with an event that will completely overshadow this moment in my life. Tomorrow my son gets baptized, and we will spend the day honoring and celebrating that.

 

I am fine with it though. I am actually excited to celebrate his little religious rite of passage. Did it have to be scheduled my birthday weekend? I don’t know, ask the wife.

 

My Facebook will be a mess today of people I don’t talk to, ever, wishing me a Happy Birthday. Some will go far enough to say things like “miss you” or “let’s get together soon!” Come on, we both know there is no missing and there will be no future get together- keep it simple with a happy birthday over-achiever.

 

I will say this, I am sort of excited for this upcoming year and it doesn’t have to do with my age. I have three handsome sons, A gorgeous wife, A burgeoning website, and some of the best friends I feel I have ever had in my life. My blessings far outweigh my woes this year. My biggest complaint is the shared celebration this weekend and even that brings a smile to my now 24 year old face.

 

Oh yeah, life’s been good to me too Mr. Walsh.

What is the point of this post? Maybe to say I am happy, maybe to say that this past year has brought me so much happiness and personal growth that I can’t wait to experience 24. Maybe it is my chance to raise a glass to everyone I feel I have become so close with over the past year, to everyone I have held near and dear to my heart, to those, like my mother, who aren’t able to see this one but I know would be here reading and celebrating. Cheers to my family, my Bunker Punks and my Punk Rock Peeps- You have transformed the boring 24 into something special for me. 24 years down and many more to follow, hopefully with all of you there to raise a glass to year after year.

 

 

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June 10

In Defense of Ground Pizza

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Yes, I have no intention stopping my kid from eating that piece of pizza currently laying facedown in this parking lot turned festival area. I understand the looks, the ground looks rather disgusting to me too. I don’t WANT my kids to it ground food, but it happens…a lot. How far should we go back to find when my kids broke me of the conditioned reflex to stop them from eating off the ground?

I really did use to care, believe me. Tons of floor food has made its way to the trash instead of my kid’s mouths. From popsicles to cheerios, no dirty food would be consumed. So what changed? How did I go from caring about whether my kids ate food that fell on the floor or ground to this point where I simply have given up on it. It isn’t a money issue, my family is well enough off to replace the food. Sorta. Except for when its the fourth slice of mostly uneaten pizza being thrown to the ground much to the glee of my kid, that hurts the piggy bank.

The only thing I really stop my kids from eating is peanut butter, is that bad? Seriously, anything else is fair game. Before you saw me pick that piece of pizza up and give it a quick germs-be-gone shake I watched my kids try to eat wood chips. Yes, wood chips. The ones they lay down around trees. The ones laid down over there, yes those wood chips that look like someone kicked through them. That’s not even the first time I think I have watched my kids eat wood chips.

I once watched my kid shovel sand in his mouth at the beach, only to make a disgruntled face and start spitting. This was after telling him not to eat sand four hundred times. After cleaning his mouth out with my bottle of water, risking personal health (what if I had gotten dehydrated?) my son proceeded to sit down, shovel sand in his mouth and look disgruntled.

Let’s get down to it. Once you have a child you notice they will stick ANYTHING in their mouth. From a bottle in the recycling can to sand at the beach, kids wonder if they can eat everything. I see a cellphone a toddler sees a technological sandwich. It really can’t be stopped. Unless you plan to bubble wrap your child or place a protective cover over your child, they are going to stick some disgusting stuff in their mouth. The ground pizza, while disgusting, has about as much germs on it as the equipment at the park my kids always seem to need to lick before going down the slide. Except that pizza has cheesy goodness and I can pass it off as lunch.

Kids are disgusting little creatures who explore textures and tastes. There will come a point in my kids life where they will have a little brain blast and realize that pizza tastes a lot better without gravel toppings. At least I really hope so. My kids are over beach sand for the most part. We are working on not eating dirt and clearly wood chips are still a dietary supplement to them.

I have an exercise for all parents. Watch what your kid touches and puts in their mouth. Watch what they touch and then how they don’t wash their hands before inserting them into their mouths. Is facedown ground pizza really the worst thing a kid can eat? What ever happened to the five-second rule anyways?

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June 8

Fatherhood Woke Me Up

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Feeling my way through the darkness

Guided by a beating heart

The transition to fatherhood has not been one that was necessarily easy. It has been filled with nothing but trial and error. I have learned there are rights and wrongs that only pertain to parenting my kids. I have found what I hope to be the successful and proper way to get my sons through the toddler years.

I can’t tell where the journey will end

But I know where to start

Even before the kids were born I was so dead set on how they would be raised and how I would breeze through parenting like it was a P.E. Class where I just show up and get credit. That isn’t the case at all. Parenting is amazing and fulfilling and fun. It is also the most difficult thing there is to do. You could raise thirty kids the exact same way with no idea what results you may yield.

They tell me I’m too young to understand

 I guess my age is a bit off-putting to people. On the cusp of becoming a whole 24 years-old yet I try and think before I speak. I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself an old-soul or mature but rather thoughtful. I have to be thoughtful, I have three kids to raise. I have to be comfortable in my own beliefs and morals or else how can I raise my kids right?

So wake me up when it’s all over; When I’m wiser and I’m older

Every day passes in a blur-like quickness. Only yesterday it seems they were rolling dangerously to the edge of the bed. Now they run and scamper as I watch their little brother go side to side, working his way towards the same edge of the bed that kept me nervous for months a year and a half ago.

All this time I was finding myself 

I never realized how much I needed fatherhood until I held my first borns. I needed the love, the compassion, the fulfillment this part of my life has brought me. I needed to learn that pure unequivocal love existed. The bond between parent and child. This role has made me complete, it has given my life something it lacked for years. I gained meaning.

I didn’t know I was lost

Twenty-one years of my life I spent lost. Then my children came into my life. Not every day is easy, but every day of knowing this is what I was meant to be, a father, is worth it.

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June 4

Survivorman: Seven days in submission hell

As with most writers, I have had to put myself out there at the mercy of sites in hopes that my writing gets picked up and my name gets spread. It is a nerve-wracking process that we go through; being put to the wolves and shark tanks of submission sites. From paid sites to the non-paid, there is always a little bit of a cycle during that wait period where a writer can go a little stir-crazy waiting for a response. Typically a site tells you there is a seven day window for them to accept your piece before the chances of them running it expire along with your sanity. 


 

Day 1- A feeling of extreme over-confidence. This is the greatest piece ever submitted. Not only will this site be paying you, but they are going to tip you for your genius writing. This is the post that will go viral and get you noticed! After showing your writing to three supportive friends you have finally graced the submission site with your Mona Lisa. You are actually surprised that they didn’t respond in five minutes and accept your post; they are probably in shock and awe of you, it happens.

Day 2– Okay, it is pretty early in the morning for a response. It isn’t surprising, the site you submitted to must have an inbox inundated with submissions. Maybe after a morning cup of coffee and some food you will check again and find the acceptance email. Hmmm, while the coffee is brewing maybe I should double-check if their response got stuck in my junk section. Nigerian Prince, Nigerian Prince, libido pills, Long lost relative, Nigerian Prince- no response to my submission, odd. Oh well, I really only sent it 11 hours 24 minutes ago, but who is keeping track of the time. Refresh.

Day 3- Refresh, refresh, refresh. Maybe my Wifi is down? Reboot the router, call the internet company. Vaguebook about constant email checks. Refresh. Check from both phone and computer. Okay, how long ago did I send this? Maybe I should casually bring it up to every friend I have ever seen published on their site to find out how long they waited before being accepted. Twenty-four hours? Are you kidding me?  Well, fuck you brown-noser. I know, I will go into the submission sites Facebook group and passive aggressively like every post by their editor, maybe that will remind them to accept my piece already!

Day 4- I don’t even care about that stupid site. I mean, who are they not to respond to my writing. All three of my friend’s loved that piece- this website should be grateful I submitted it to them. I am going to refresh my email just one more time then I will be done with it. Did refresh work? I can never tell from my phone, let me try the computer. Wait, maybe I refreshed them too soon together and it messed something up. You know what, I am always accidentally deleting emails, maybe what I am looking for is in the trash.

Day 5- I think today I am going to start a rumor about the editor of this site. I heard they gave blowjobs in exchange for web design work. Oh look whose frickin piece ran, way to go brown-noser! I really hate you, even though I commented how much I love this piece and shared it everywhere. Maybe brown-noser will name drop me to the editor and get my piece in. At this point I will accept a handout. Let me check that junk section again. Maybe with the money from this Nigerian prince I can just make my OWN site and reject brown-noser on it. Yeah, I’ll show them!

Day 6- For God’s sake I am the worst writer in the history of writing. How obvious is it from my writing that I needed hooked on phonics as a kid? I am quitting writing, I never liked it anyways! Writing sucks and those three friends are liars, I am never listening to their advice again. More Vaguebook time. Did that Nigerian prince ever get back to me?  I HATE THAT SITE AND I HATE WRITING AND I AM NEVER GOING ONLINE AGAIN.

Day 7- Last ditch effort to find an accidentally discarded acceptance email. Check all emails by manually clicking through every email ever received in the past six months. Not only has the site not gotten back to me but neither has that fucking Nigerian asshole. Whatever, I don’t need that site or their acceptance. I write for me, let me post this on my personal blog. It is their loss, not mine! I am never submitting to them again, I submit to no one! Oh, that is a great idea- I submit to no one. I know just the site that will love this concept!

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June 3

Punk Rock Pocket Pussy

As a man, it isn’t fair. We can’t even talk sex without flirting with the line of machismo pervert. Could you imagine if men wrote on their blogs about sex toys with the indifference women can?

The time my kid found my pocket pussy is nowhere near as funny sounding as the time my kid used a dildo for a lightsaber.

Let’s pause right there. I don’t have a pocket pussy. That was what you would call an example. It doesn’t matter, you are now convinced of the PP existing.

It doesn’t even sound stimulating! I have experience with talking about toys with the wife.

“Oh baby, you want to use your toy tonight? You want a new toy?”

I feel like it wouldn’t be as sexy or kinky if we introduced a, for lack of a better term, “fuck hole”, into the bedroom. I don’t even know anyone who owns a pocket pussy! I know plenty of woman who write about their dildos and vibrators though, that list seems never-ending.

Do you think if a guy has a sex toy he could or would write about it? It almost makes me want to buy a pocket pussy and leave it out for people to accidentally find.

My pretty pink bedazzled pocket pussy: A love story.

Punk Rock Pocket Pussy

Sexual expression is a tricky subject to tackle, with me being the first to admit that I am completely out of my depths addressing it. I think, as far as sexual expression goes, men have not made it that far in writing. It is a tough line to tiptoe. As I try to walk the wire between crude dick jokes and purveying a point I can understand why there are not many male sex toy stories out there.

I did buy my wife a vibrator once, on a horny alcohol-induced trip to the sex shop.

Maybe I initiated that excursion, I won’t ever tell! I will say my wife has never thought that the kink our bedroom play needed might be a plastic hole. There has been a funny time where after a long night of debauchery, a left out toy became a sword momentarily for a toddler before said toy was snatched and sent back to its dark corner of the drawer.

Does it sit there in shame? Would a pocket pussy sit there in shame?

Hell no! A pocket pussy would be hidden under a DNA coded lock. On top of a retina coded lock. I would have a non-disclosure clause signed by the seller and would buy it in the dead of the night while wearing a disguise.

But, could you imagine the story of how little Timmy stuck thirteen army men in daddies cave toy?

Yeah, doesn’t have the dildo sword pizazz now that I read it out loud to myself.

My son stuck the tv remote in my pocket pussy and told me he found something to hold the remote!

What about a story about overfilling a blow-up doll, causing it to burst like a birthday balloon all over the place? We could call it, “Why You Don’t Use An AirBed Pump on Your Sex Dolls”

Would you read that? I wouldn’t. The person writing that is a pervert and irresponsible about it to say the least.

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