February 29

Nesting

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Don’t forget where you came from but never lose sight of where you are going. 

A kitschy print adorns a shelf. Around it, a gerber multi tool, given to me over a decade ago by my mother. A pair of brass knuckles I picked up  a few years back. Three different shot glasses, all emblazoned with the Jaegermeister logo. A shelf below holds the ashes of my mother accompanied by the little card they handed out at her wake. Next to her tiny memorial are two pictures and a card. The pictures, one of each twin, are from their birth when the NICU nurse put my wife’s build-a-bear’s glasses on the twin’s tiny little faces and bought us prints we still laugh at whenever we look at three years later. A card is tucked in next to the photos. With Ezra a healthy in and out of the hospital baby, he never got to meet the wonderful nurses who work the NICU of the local hospital. His spot on the shelf holds his information card, the one emblazoned with the words, ‘It’s a boy!’ across the top, followed by all his birth information.

The final shelf holds a few odds and ends. A picture of my wife and I from a trip to Boston Aquarium right after the boys were born. An empty shooter in the shape of a sugar skull. A Deadpool figurine I got recently and a Harry Potter tribute 9 3/4’s luggage tag. Oh, and a metallic box I used to hold every little important piece of myself in.

Of everything on the shelving next to my newly acquired Wri-ter’s nook, only the Deadpool figurine and kitschy print are under a year old. Every other item on the shelf has tethered itself to my soul at some point beyond a year, some beyond a decade.

Some of the stuff on the shelves usually never sees the light of day. The metallic box is new to being so out in the open after so long a life under beds, in bags, or buried away from the light of the world. Sure, rust has taken it’s toll on ol’ Henry P., but it still shines, occasionally catching light in the same way it did that Christmas a lifetime ago.

I keep going back to the print though. The quote, which I started this with, encompasses a creed I have tried to follow in recent years. I bought the print the morning after moving into this new place. It being one of six prints I bought that morning. As I carefully placed it on the shelf, I looked around at other places to hang prints.

I joke to Diana. ‘I am nesting!’ I tell her, as I fly room to room slightly moving furniture, asking her opinion on what decor to adorn the walls with.

“Can we hang the words PUNK GREW UP in the living room right here? I would really like that.” I ask her, bracing for my idea to be shot down.

“Yeah, that will look awesome.” She says, as she smiles back at me. She’s never seen me this excited about a place. After three kids, a dog, and three other dwellings I find myself finally ‘nesting’. I have never seen me like this either.

Long have I felt homesick. Too long I yearned for something I’ve never even been sure of having.

After three kids, a dog, and three other dwellings, I finally get home decor. As I hang print after kitschy print, I remember the walls of our previous living spaces. The walls so bare save for a few odds and ends Diana hung up. Never anything new. Never items bought specifically for those walls. Paintings and pictures removed from walls of her previous home, hung in a desperate attempt to make a place to lay your head into a bonafide home.

I never even put that much of an effort in. I never went out to buy prints or clocks or mirrors to hang on walls that felt foreign to me.

The first night here, running on a few hours of sleep and a lot of hours moving, I zipped around pointing to blank walls we, no- I needed to prettify with a touch of our family. At work that night, on my three hours of sleep, I pictured the house, decorating it in my mind. After my eight hour shift, there I was, up and down the Home aisles of Walmart at six in the morning, energized and filling the cart with things to fully complete our new house’s conversion to home.

Shelves, a nook, and gimmicky prints are only the surface of this residence. My connection with this place runs much deeper than the things I excitedly furbish it with. I am nesting, cozying in for what will hopefully be many happy years making memories in my family’s… in my own first true home.

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February 25

Lump in my Throat

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I got to say this. Don’t you ever ever let anyone make you feel like a joke.

-Misfit

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The lump sat in my throat. You now the kind, that no matter how many swallows it actually seems to grow? The tears you can feel just underneath your eyelids, you clench your eyes closed repeatedly hoping strength will come before the dams break.

I felt stupid, with my hands clenching into tight balls over and over again. I felt the need to punch something. To displace my emotions and turn the hurt into physical pain.

At twenty four the feeling of not fitting in, of being made out as a laughing stock, stung as much as it did every other time growing up. It brought me back to my childhood, to being in the Mexican neighborhood in Desert Hot Springs, where the neighborhood kids laughed as they called my mother a white whore.

From there, my mind traveled across the country, from California to a yellow bus in Connecticut, where kids asked me questions about why I didn’t live with my real parents. Where was my mom? Where was my dad? Why did I say things like I said them?

You would think, a lifetime of feeling like you don’t belong, you could get a better grip on your reaction to being painfully out of place. At least, you would hope the lump, tears and clenched fists would go away by the time you have kids of your own. There I was, tips of my ears burning red as I focused on not crying.

The thing is though, I felt small. I wanted to feel even smaller. The mixture of feeling like a stupid joke to people I didn’t even know made me want to just disappear. Not commit suicide. Worse. It made me wish I never existed.

That’s the problem isn’t it? That we throw our words around carelessly and freely, forming opinions on people’s odd mannerisms for cheap laughs while not giving second thought to how little we might be making someone we don’t know feel.

It’s just joking and people should have thicker skin, right? Never mind the fact we might have just contributed to someone’s lifetime struggle with feeling out of place. 

I want my children to grow up comfortable in their own presence. I tell them to shine on like little crazy diamonds and march to the beat of their own drum. A part of me wants to warn them of the countless times others will grab their drumstick and beat their drum until it hurts, for the sake of personal entertainment. Or of times they will take black soot and cover their shiny beautiful personality in the name of fitting in with the coal around them.

I don’t want to tell my kids one of the side effects of being different is long nights thinking the world would be a better place if you didn’t try to shine so brightly in it.

I felt stupid, and it reminded me of every other time in my life I felt like I didn’t belong. It reminded me sometimes just joking at the expense of someone else comes with the possibility of that person spending hours awake feeling insignificant, or worse, like the world might be a better place if their stupid out of place self didn’t exist.

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February 22

Into The Wild

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*Trigger Warning*

This post contains exercise, outdoor activity and children. 

I laid in bed. Melatonin kicked in, forcing my tired eyes to close. Gibbs would have to solve the rest of this murder without his go to Junior Netflix Agent’s assistance. My eyes closed for what would be a nice restful period of sleep, off to dream of beer and tacos.

An hour passed before the high-pitched screech of Satan awoke me. Although, it was not Beelzebub who woke me from my slumber. It turned out to be a bright-eyed little spawn of me, shrieking in delight at seeing daddy after a night of being away at grandma’s. Hands and knees found their way to sensitive areas on my body as he clambered up me and simultaneously crushed any chances of a future brother.

I tried to mask the get away from me look on my face with a giant smile and hello for my littlest. He found me. Once baby finds me, he attaches himself securely to my hip for the rest of the day. In the distance, screams of toddlers fighting over the rights to play with a toy reverberated off the walls before finding their way to my brain in the form of a headache.

Sleep was not going to happen today.

“Everybody get dressed!” I hollered from the bed. As jackets found their way on wiggly arms and shoes on even wigglier feet, we set off for an adventure. The first stop, Target, held all the necessary items to head out into the wild.

A fine woven wrap thingy I always saw a friend talking about. I wanted to wrap the baby securely to my persons, not that I needed to. Little man was born with little thighs of steel he pinched into my side fat and secured himself with. But, to be safe, I decided to wrap him to me also.

A family of five also makes getting a picture together somewhat difficult. With three small children and their grabbing hands, we hadn’t take a family photo in forever because, well, we couldn’t fit everyone in the frame. Here is my guilty admission. We are now the proud owners of a selfie stick.

With baby wrap and selfie stick in possession, we grabbed a few other things, because you can’t go to Target and not get stuff you didn’t go there for. A few DVDs made their way to the cart. A book I saw on the morning news that I swore up and down I needed and would get started on immediately. Some candy. You know, important stuff.

Packed up and prepared, we made our way out to the wild wilderness, located conveniently next to a giant casino.

The Underwood Family Hiking Experience. 

As I tore the woven baby wrap from box, I decided instructions weren’t needed. Turns out it is, as I did it from the instructions I made up in my mind, a lot like saran-wrap. So there I saran-wrapped a flailing and confused baby to my body, hoping this stretchy wrap worked like a trap making his thrashing only secure him tighter to my body.

And off we went up the slope, led by two toddlers with cabin fever, a dad running on an hour of sleep with a baby awkwardly tied to him and a Momma bringing up the rear rolling her eyes like a teenager being forced to hang with her family instead of going to the mall with Kristine.

As we found our way on the trail, there were two distinct markers, a red one and a blue one. In my mind red means danger. Perfect!

“We’re going this way honey!” I said enthusiastically, setting off on the red marked trail. Twenty minutes later we were navigating the side of a steep cliff with three-year old guides who found a ton of enjoyment in randomly tossing rocks off the side of the beaten path, I can only assume in hopes of starting a massive landslide. But, we made our way up the hill with smiles on our faces and fresh air in our lungs. The great outdoors, on a beautiful day I might add. The kids were loving it, as we got to difficult parts of the trail, little hands would find their way up to be held as the tiny three-year old guides encouraged us that we were doing a good job and reminding us, “We’re okay. It’s ALL good.”

The baby had grabbed a leaf and twig from a random branch and clung to my chest, content to eat nature’s wild bounty.

As we hit the summit, the view became worth the trip up. Bright faces stared out from the elevation at the beautiful sites. Off in the distance trees interspersed with what looked like a quarry, the giant casino and other random buildings. The wild outdoors. Look, son, a fuck! At Target I had picked up some granola for our outdoor adventure. We happily munched the snack and rehydrated from our juice bottles. It was a gorgeous day and the hike turned out to be really fun. Even Momma, who had been all eye rolls at the beginning, enjoyed herself on the way up and at the top.

As we made our way down, the trail split again. While climbing up the side of a cliff with toddlers determined to have us plummet to our deaths was fun, I figured the blue trail would bring us down a less steep side of the hill, making it easier for us to relax and leisurely stroll.

I giggled to myself, thinking of The Matrix. Hee-hee, took both the red and blue, Morpheus. I choose to take both! HAH!

This is when hiking really fucking went south and I don’t mean that logistically. An hour of zig zagging through the woods, up and down steep trails, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. In my mind, I wondered what actors would play my family after they found our bodies. Would we die of starvation, surviving a few days on Gatorade and granola or would wild animals eat us? Would there be a scene where one of us was sacrificed to feed the stronger of the group or would we die at the hands of deranged wilder-folk? I wasn’t sure, but hoped they cast someone dashingly handsome and fearless in my role.

Unbeknownst to me, the blue trail was not, in fact, the easier trail. It turned out the blue trail actually belonged to a longer trail than the red one called The Narragansett Trail. Online it specifically warns you to avoid the blue trail, lest you get lost in the middle of nowhere.

Our guides seemed content to be left for dead. As Momma and I mushed them along, the tired troopers continued to ask to be picked up. When their requests were denied, they simply laid down on the trail, glaring at me with a your move, old man look in their eyes. The only child wanting to navigate the trails happened to be the baby, whose abilities include crawling and eating things found on the ground.

With toddler tactical gear strapped to my body we began to backtrack to the red trail.  An hour down the blue trail meant another hour of zig zagging the hill to get back. I recalled the time before the baby, when dad had the bright idea to take two boys who just learned to walk through a corn maze. That experience ended with me carrying children through the maze and vowing to burn down the next corn maze I saw. I now understood why my wife began the excursion rolling her eyes. She most likely was on her phone getting search parties on call so we wouldn’t die in the middle of nowhere and become a box office smash.

As we made our way back I wanted to shout, “Who had this great idea?” but remembered it was my idea. Occasionally I would mumble to my exhausted family, “Before we took the blue trail it was such a lovely hike, right? Now we know for next time. The wilderness is beautiful!”

I could feel their glares and eye rolls like daggers. It was really nice before the blue trail though.

I don’t think there will be a next time. 

We found our way back to the red trail and to other hikers who seemed to know better than to ever touch the blue trail. As we descended towards our parked car, the toddler tactical gear guides became alive. An hour and a half of being carried had really perked them up. Racing to the car, they raised their hands like Rocky shouting, “We did it, yay!”

With it being only the beginning of spring, I am impressed my family got all our wilderness activity out-of-the-way in one day. Three hours of thinking you will be the plot to the next Blair Witch movie can really unite a family in their hatred of whoever had the great idea to take random trails in the middle of the woods.

As I weakly reminded everyone we had fun before the blue trail, we made our way away from Lantern Hill and towards the comforts of civilization. We learned many important lessons, like don’t throw woven baby gear instructions to the side, don’t trust plans made by dad, and check to see if the blue and red markers are actually a part of the same trail.

It was a lot of fun before that blue trail though.

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February 19

Life Alert

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“He has a fever!”

I said, looking at my dog to go find a pack of sleigh dogs to lead and bring back the vital medicine my sweet child needed. His temperature hovered around 101, clearly close to death’s door.

As I bundled my man up and placed cold cloth to his head, I whispered, “Everything will be okay.” Before loading him into the car and speeding to the emergency room.

***********************

“Meh, he is fine, a little warm.”

The thermometer under my baby’s arm beeped rapidly to alert me of his 102 temperature. I ran a cloth under cold water and placed it on his head before turning on some sing along and going to the medicine cabinet where I grabbed a syringe full of cherry Tylenol.

Laying him on the couch, I moved to the kitchen to make sure the boys hadn’t made their way into the fridge to eat all the cheese.

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With the boys, as they have always been known, we had frequent flyer miles accruing from all our trips to the hospital or to the doctor. Any slight raised temperature or bump seemed to be life threatening. Kid bumped his head? Hopefully Lifestar can make it here in time before he begins to hemorrhage.

Our third child on the other hand, HA! He hasn’t even seen the hospital since birth. Outside of a possible ear infection, the only time he’s made it out to the doctor is for check ups. Even those seem to be vaccine fly throughs. Oh my god, Becky, he vaccinates.

Okay, now I am sure some will stop there and run to the comments to post something about vaccines. I don’t usually answer comments anyways, so don’t hold your breath waiting for me to get into a discussion about vaccines. This isn’t about being for or against them anyways.

When we had the twins, every visit to the doctor included a good half hour session of me turning the check up room into a Law and Order style interrogation.

I sat the doctor down and slammed my hands on his desk, demanding answers to my questions. What was this spot on my child? Would he have the spot forever? Did we need a biopsy? Where is Dr. House and do you think he is always so ornery?

The baby though, as he too has always been known, gets his bumps, scrapes and coughs met with a, “Aw, buddy, bad day? You’re fine. Here is a popsicle.”

And it isn’t out of a lack of love for him. It isn’t because of insurmountable debt after so many healthcare visits with the twins either (I thought ten hospital visits equaled a free ambulance ride? Guess not.). You learn after the first, or in my case firsts, that, holy cow, these little guys are actually somewhat durable.

Children have an enviable ability to dust themselves off after a fall or destroy a kitchen while battling a fever. They are, as cliché as it may sound, ‘little troopers’.

I don’t request emergency evacuation after every fall from the couch now. That’s not because I don’t worry about my son’s safety, I just have learned by kid three, most of these minor injuries are, in fact, minor. We aren’t going swan diving off the couch tempting fate, but we also aren’t putting splints on his arm out of fear it might be broken from a little fall.

You learn and grow with each child, gaining a better grasp on when medical attention is needed versus the old saying, “rub some dirt in it.” I no longer feel as though my children need their own Life Alert buttons.

I lost most of you at vaccines anyways. Have you noticed yourself more relaxed as a parent after your first? Are you still hyper-vigilant and on top of everything? Does the local hospital have a reserved room for your constant visits?

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February 14

Whispers In The Wind

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There is a feeling after hitting send where my whole world crashes. My breathing quickens and my hands reach out for anything to wet my suddenly dry throat. A lump develops, making the rapid breathing hard.

Inside, my mind screams at me.

WHY WOULD YOU SEND THAT PIECE OF GARBAGE.

I don’t consider myself a very talented person. Drop the very, I don’t consider myself a talented person.

Most days, I sit at my computer writing and deleting; over and over again. I look at my friends with a gentle greenness. Proud of their accomplishments but wishing to have a sample size portion of the talents they consistently put on display.

I sit there, writing about my children. Somedays I hit send, spiraling me into panic attack. MESSAGE SENT displays across screen, triggering my mind to start racing down you’re not good enough Boulevard.

Just write. The rest falls into place.

-Briton Underwood

When I started a site, the whispers flew through the wind, finding themselves back to me as insidious confidence ruiners.

‘He just started the site because nowhere would accept his work.’ 

I sat there, shaking, hitting publish after publish on Facebook. Site after site my work has been lucky enough to be graced upon, along with a little “Hey, fuck you” note attached.

Sisterwives, Long Awkward Pause, The Soap Box, Sammiches & Psych Meds, Good Men Project, Scary Mommy, Mom Babble, Mock Mom, guest post here, guest post there.

A spot as a contributor in a book titled Multiples Illuminated.

As my writing became more, what would be the best term? Visible? New murmurs filled the air.

‘He’s changed. ‘

‘He’s different.’

‘He only cares about himself.’

‘These are easy sites to get on to.’

Again I found myself sitting there, shaking. The anger and hurt coagulated in a nice pool of self-doubt, spiraling me away from having fun with writing and towards thoughts of giving up, packing in, shipping out. It would have been well and okay enough. I am the first to admit my glaring commitment issues. I could move on from writing with the ease I moved on from other aspirations. I could leave it in the wind, dangling with whispers and overdue gym memberships. Pin it right up there in the “almosts” section of my life, right next to stand up comedy and guitar playing.

My self doubt and stubborn personality combine together to form a real nice silent agony, leaving me agitated and alone. My fears of inadequacy come together with a worry I might be viewed as having a pity party, pushing me further into self-imposed solitude.

I sit, allowing the hushed slights swirl around me, creating a vortex my confidence disappears into. The compliments don’t break through the nice barrier whispers have wrapped me in.

When I write, I don’t see talent. The whispers have assured me most do not see talent either.

Yet, there I am in my continued mortification. Writing and sending. Sitting and waiting for the whispers to circle and pick me apart. There are days I bow my head before extending my wrists, allowing myself to become their captive. I feel the tightness as they shackle and silence me, submitting myself to the thoughts of inadequacy and accepting them as myself.

I started a site for myself, not my friends. I have changed. I am different. I am not talented and these sites are easy to get on. 

I submit to the loud silence; giving in to whispers on the wind that erode my self worth. Fighting back too exhausting for a tired and weary soul.

But, as much as my stubborn personality enjoys sitting in self-loathing, it also refuses to allow others the satisfaction of winning.

And while I may find contentment in my natural levels of self- doubt, I would never allow the words of others to bind me. For my glaring commitment issues also keep me vested in not being married to the insidious wagging tongues.

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I tried so hard and got so far but because my punctuation lacked I fell so hard and when I appropriated they called my bluff but I’m still standing isn’t that enough because I never learned the grammar to succeed when others paid attention in english class I busied myself with sleep then I made a shit list apparently but oh well this is something I do and I only do for me since if you do it for others it turns out the daggers cut your back and you start to bleed and when you bleed sure people watch but they only applaud and give bravos until the blood constricts its flow for when you begin to heal they disappear like magic rabbits into thin air they apparate from hence they came they go again but that is neither here nor there and I made the list so none will publish me so why would I waste time on a period or comma because once you’re on a shit list if your content doesn’t matter then neither will your punctuation or grammar yet here I stand with a continued fuck you stance this is warrior one from my yoga dance with two middle fingers up and a back straight from being too long against a wall

Oh and maybe there is a place for a period there but I will leave it out because I don’t care this world doesn’t own me if I don’t let it bind and theres no chains to hold me or capitals to bold me I would rather sit in my content laden talent with my witty appropriation of popular pop culture and obscure movies then ever set foot in your halls for free and I would rather do away with the comma the period and fuck even the semi colon if it means it weeds out those people who read for that because they aren’t the readers I want they aren’t the readers I need for that stuff means nothing to me because what I do is I fucking bleed and when I bleed I prefer free speech I prefer no confines to hold on me for what are periods but constructs and ideologies run amuck that take my words and keep them stuck between two points so undeserving that is shit that unnerves me and I would rather have my words in prose then ever stick it in binding holds and I will banter on till cheeks are red and my lungs are out of breath and when I keel over panting there then maybe, just maybe, I will give in to the ideologies and I will lose my battle against the institutions and their constructs.

But though I may falter on my journey the steps I take further embolden me to complete this sojourn on my own terms I tried your way and it isn’t working for it takes my originality it thefts my constitution and fuck it just doesn’t feel right

for I was born to write the editors edit but i type type type and what comes out are pieces of me my heart and soul for you to see they ooze from daggers blood fills the street and if thats not enough then FUCK IT for I am here but I remember the journey and I remember my people and remember my learning and I choose to break the rules because the rules don’t check me better yet I don’t believe in the existence of things created before my own existence and better yet I refuse to acknowledge the mere existence of anything other than words being a sentence and if you don’t know when to pause and breathe then I am sorry you don’t know enough about writing to realize the important thing is getting the words to appear on screen and editors will edit and you can proofread add your own grammar you fucking nazi because my meaning is clear enough

my meaning is, I don’t give; a fuck.

Mike Posner – Be As You Are

 

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February 9

It’s Not Even Ten Yet.

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There’s pee on my shirt. I don’t know how it got there. I can guess it is the urine of one of these three boys  I am attempting to raise.

I say attempting, mainly because some days they raise me. Ommmmmmm.

Did you buy that bullshit? Me neither. Today, my son decided to wig out on me because I changed his diaper. It is good though, because this is our Groundhog Day moment.

If the toddler wakes up and starts a tantrum we have six more hours of him being an asshole.

I love my kids. I love my kids. I love my kids.

One kid has a waffle. Well, had a waffle. Now, the dog has a waffle and the kid is asking for another waffle. Not today, little Sarah McLachlan. You want to feed the dog your breakfast then the kitchen is closed till lunch time.

I keep having to come back to the tantrum toddler. His new nickname. Tantrum Toddler Underwood. The boy who, every day of the week ends up sitting criss-cross applesauce (because, Indian-style is totally not PC, bro) naked in front of the tv has suddenly gained modesty and is demanding his clothing not be removed. Especially his diaper. The diaper he wore to bed and has pee in it.

Scratch him off the list of suspects for the pee spot on my shirt.

Did I remind myself I love my kids yet? Because, I do. I swear.

I don’t have to like them though, right? Today is a love your kid, hate their attitude day.

Yesterday, I got my baby to walk. Today, I sat there and threw cheerios in his mouth. I made six in a row before hitting him in the eye. Six. In. A. Row.

His eye is fine by the way.

“This is parenting” I tell myself as I put the coffee back in one gulp. Did I mention one sons first act of the day was to dump the toy box. He didn’t even grab a toy from the clutter. Instead, he went to the Wii U remote and put on Netflix.

It’s Netflix and chill, buddy, not Netflix and fuck up my previously clean dwelling. I want to check the clock and see how much longer I have in the day and HOLY CRAP it’s not even ten yet. Reminder to self, don’t watch the clock, it makes the tantrums last longer.

Because I need to write, I get free passes to put on headphones and ignore the kids. It is probably the only reason I am writing this. See, I am not ignoring the baby, I am wordsmithing. Okay, maybe I ignored him a little.

Six in a row, how freaking awesome is that? I barely hit his eye. He definitely overreacted. Drama child! Maybe, instead of whining, the baby could be more supportive of my accomplishments. Nourishment and accuracy, it is most certainly a feat that deserves applause.

Applause. Applesauce. I need to get more applesauce or there might be another meltdown. The precious fruit sauce is a staple in these toddler’s diet. They love it. That and chocolate milk. Hey, at least I am feeding them! Once, I tried to use a spoon as a catapult and fling applesauce into the baby’s mouth. I didn’t get to six in a row but I did have to bathe the baby.

You know what cute thing they do? Of course you don’t, but I will tell you! They call chocolate milk yummy milk. Which is super accurate. I will pull the gallon of milk out of the fridge and a pitter-patter of feet will run to the kitchen followed always by me being told to wait. Then, a giant grin spreads across a face as little hands grasp the chocolate syrup, bringing it to me.

“Yummy!”

Yes tiny little terror, I will yummy your milk. I will yummy it the F up, because it will keep you quiet for five minutes I love you. Then, I will pour myself more coffee.

I adore my kids. I didn’t write that for you. I mainly wrote that as a reminder that I, in fact, do adore the kid laying on the ground screaming like he got shot. Apparently fifteen seconds of Netflix buffering is unbearable. It snowed here, which means we will go outside. They will play and frolic (frolic is code for try to not fall as they run around in their puff-ball winter wear) as I sit there worried they might find and eat yellow snow.

For any Apache Helicopter parents reading, by sit there I mean I will sit on my porch, near them. I am not sending two toddlers to play Revenant out in the snow alone. Hello, child protective services, yes I did allow my children to get out of hands reach of me. Yes, I know it is awful of me to do because they could have fallen. I barely hit the baby with the cheerio, it was an underhand toss.

 

We still have five hours of tantrums.

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February 4

Pistol Grip Pump

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A fight broke out. This seemed to be a common occurrence at parties. Two people spend the night sizing one another up while feeding heavily on liquid courage before deciding they had watched enough boxing matches to bob and weave. I don’t know why I always decided to play bouncer at parties. Breaking up these drunken brawls, when I wasn’t in them of course.

Pulling the two people off each other, I took my friends cue to get them the fuck out of there. Throwing one towards his friends, “Get the fuck out of here!” I yelled. Everyone yelled. A physical confrontation had ignited everyone to bury hatchets in each other. As people pushed and shoved, some retreated to their cars while others retreated to the comforts of music and beer pong inside.

There I stood, playing bouncer and getting people sorted by welcome and not welcome. As my friend made her way to shout in the face of the people ruining her party and good time, the chaos began to settle.

The porch light was the first to catch black metallic glint. As the kid raised his hand, it became quite clear he came to this party looking for trouble. The pistol gripped firmly in his hand, he pointed it at her. Before the thoughts, why would you bring a gun to a party passed through my head, I moved forward.

Then, I placed myself between the gun and the girl.

“If you are going to pull a weapon on someone, you better make sure you use it, because if they get the chance to pull a weapon on you, they will kill you.” 

My brother iterated to me. He had just finished telling me of the time his father killed a man at a motel. The man brought a gun to a gun battle and didn’t intend on using it. My brother’s father had a very different code he lived by. The story goes the man was on the run after I believe a robbery when he arrived at the wrong motel room. As he demanded entrance, waving a gun around, My brother’s father took his faithful shotgun out and unloaded on the man. The spray of buckshot riddled the mans body. Story continues as his father was such a trusty shot none of the spray could be found in the wall behind the man. Kill shot.

I heard this story a few times in my life. It was important. In eighth grade, when the kid threatened to stab me with a knife and I hit him as hard as I could in the face. He couldn’t pull his knife while unconscious.

I never liked the idea of bringing a weapon to a fight. I had two hammers attached to me in the form of hands. Weapons scared me. If you brought a weapon, it was to be used, not brandished around as a form of intimidation.

At nineteen I stood there, staring down the barrel of a gun in some stranger’s hands at a party in the middle of nowhere.

Putting myself between my friend and the gun was no act of bravery. Fight or flight, mixed with a decent dose of liquid courage, stories of motel rooms and dead bad guys, all had culminated in a moment where my subconscious acted for me.

I remember the dark barrel of the gun and thinking about its remarkable resemblance to the irises of the person holding it. A black hole seemingly going to nowhere.

I stood there, waiting for my life to flash before my eyes. I stood and waited for the flash of muzzle to be my last sight as life went out in the blink of existence. Was I ready to die? No, but I was sure it would happen and came to terms with the fact it was now out of my hands. I would, at the very least, not die pissing my pants or begging for life.

My mouth opened and my mind shut off.

The time between staring down the barrel and red headlights speeding off has been recited to me.

 I began to shout at the man. 

“FUCKING SHOOT ME PUSSY!”

Over and over again. 

As he got into his car, I started advancing towards it before he sped off. At this point, I was screaming at the top of my lungs and three people had to grab me to keep me from chasing after the car.

I began to lift out of my black out, realizing I was shouting at red tail lights as friends grabbed me, trying to calm me down. Standing there, I didn’t remember what had happened after the fight. But, as my mind cleared up a bit, the man reaching in his car, the black glint, the barrel, his barrel irises, standing between, it all came back to me.

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