Thursday, July 19, 2007

howlee nugget

A friend who put in about 10 years as an expatriate once shared with me that 3 "M"s can be used to describe the personalities of those who choose that lifestyle. He spelled them out -

Missionary: you do it because your heart's in the cause, because you truly believe in it.

Mercenary: the money's great, so you make a killing plus stipend in some foreign place.

Misfit: you are an outcast at home anyway, so a remote spot is just as good.

Another friend who I have mentioned before, JT, recently took a job in Hilo, Hawaii. "Howlee" bombs will be thrown at the new CEO of the local mental facility in Hilo. Apparently that's a racial slur thrown at Caucasians from the continental states there. It doesn't phase him.

He 's leaving Mansfield, OH -- a town where you might stop to get gas on a road trip, and never look back as you jump back onto the I-70 entrance ramp. His flight is tomorrow morning. On the eve of his departure I find myself wondering which of these "m"s applies to him. Maybe he's 33.3% of each.

Bon voyage, my howlee friend! Please stay in touch early and often so that we can talk shit on people.

Friday, July 13, 2007

pushing (toilet)paper

The coffee was not cutting it today, so I just gave myself a nice jolt of adrenaline to jump start. I can't really understand why I am worth less than a warm cup of piss since I only had two glasses of wine last night. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for some unknown sap, I found an impulse to act upon, and as a result, I am born again. It's a good thing too because this Friday reeks of a Monday, as clients are coming at me from all angles with various blunt objects.

Here's how it all went down...

When I shuffled into the men's room, a funk kicked me in the nuts and singed my throat. I seriously had to fight passing out, like some late night trucker nodding off on the road to nowhere. Under normal circumstances, had I not bloated myself with coffee to the point where my bladder pressed against my eyeballs, I would have u-turned immediately and waited for the air to clear. Instead I pulled my shirt over my nose, a completely futile approach, and took care of business at the urinal. The impulse hit me as I washed my hands, and since it made my heart race, I went with it.

I must have unreeled half a roll of toilet paper. It barely fit into the sink, but it melded together very nicely once I soaked it with water. Over my shoulder I heard the crinkle of newspaper pages, as I shaped the mess into a soggy orb. Then, with silent 1-2-3 count, I threw a strike that splattered with a tremendous echo on the tile above the stall and bolted out of there. In my wake I heard the guy yell something like, "Mike - you prick! I'm gonna get you."

I have no clue who Mike is, but that's his problem, whoever he is. All I know is I that little incident gave me mad game, and I will finish this day (and this week) with some electricity in my veins, even if it's on an immature note.

Now back to the salt mines.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

here we go again

My wife has experienced a number of ailments the past 3 months, none of which are necessarily rooted in the fact that she's carrying our second bambino. She happens to be a little over 3 months pregnant, but the ailments are sort of coincidental. Bronchitis hit her for the first month of pregnancy. A pinched nerve is the latest plague on her existence. Needless to say, she has had a rough go at it this time around, though we are both thankful that morning sickness didn't make an appearance.

Our suspicions of a bun in the oven were born on a trip to Chicago. She was about a week late but wrote it off to the onset of what turned out to be bronchitis, saying illness has induced tardiness before. She knows her cycles, so I was not about to question it. On our last day there, we checked out of the hotel and killed some time meandering around downtown. On a quick Jewel/Osco fly-by for a bottle of water, we found ourselves in the pregnancy test aisle and decided to set the table for the moment of truth. Back on the streets, near a construction site I noticed a row of portable restrooms and urged her to administer the test in one of them. Sure it was a tongue-in-cheek request, but it would have made a good story. Naturally she brushed me off and administered the test when we returned home.

The announcement was not akin to any major event. I was chasing the Jackal around the house and almost ran her over when I turned the corner into the kitchen. The Jackal giggled and tore out of there, leaving the two of us alone.

"You okay?"

"Yeah and pregnant."

Naturally we hugged, kissed, smiled -- all the motions you go through when some wonderful news hits. Truth be told, the news was a shock, and we were not prepared for it. Still, hugging it out felt right, regardless of our initial feelings.

The aforementioned bronchitis made that first month a real challenge for her and left me wondering about my ability to be a long term caregiver. Whether we want to admit this or not (and it's not like I focus on it), as husbands and wives, a time is likely to come when one of us will have to play the residential nurse role for our spouse. It's one of those vows you make, one of those things you say in your wedding ceremony that you really don't grasp at the time. During her bout with bronchitis, my wife was a full scale symphony of coughs and gasps. I'm embarrassed to admit that after a couple weeks of this, there were times, at the onset of a coughing fit, when I would look the other way and bite my lip, cringe, or roll my eyes. Or for example, if she needed me to fetch a bottle of water from downstairs, I wouldn't always tackle the task with a jump in my step, a sparkle in my eye.

What does that say about me? I struggled with this question constantly that month. On one hand it says I'm an ass. On the other, maybe it says I'm human? I mean, I don't recall the vows instructing how to carry myself when confronted with the "sickness/health" deal. Don't get me wrong -- it's not like I loathed taking care of her by any stretch or that I was enslaved by the cause. I am really just saying that after a long stretch it was a drag. The fact that she didn't ask for this illness was not lost on me either. I think much frustration is born out of wanting your wife to get better so you can feel like a normal couple again.

Here's the thing -- this was just a case of bronchitis. If it were a longer haul, I wring my hands over how I would handle it.

Sadly, I have known a handful of people who have some first hand experience with this. In one particular case, the wife, for all intents and purposes, bailed on the husband when he got his eviction notice, and he didn't have her hand to hold as he skidded out of this world. Naturally all family and friends viewed this as completely objectionable, and it was. In another instance, a husband stuck with his perpetually ill wife for close to 15 years and became an alcoholic prick in the process. This is speculation, but I think he stewed and grew resentful over the sacrifices he made until he alienated other family and friends with his hateful actions and words.

Which of these is worse? One spouse bailed; the other became a monster. From the cheap seats it's easy to judge and cast sometimes self-righteous opinions. When you're living it, paying with your grit and tears, it's a different story.

At the end of the day, we can define ourselves or let others define us. The list of adjectives that we use to describe each other can be endless. Generally speaking I guess they all add up to one inescapable description: human. Being human is both objectionable and forgivable. What a raw deal! Sometimes it makes me wish I was a dog.

In closing, I can't help noting that this might be the most morbid vessel for announcing a new baby in the cards for us. Truthfully, I am excited and so in love with my glowing wife. It's true what they say about that glow. After watching her go through 15 hours of labor, without the aid of pain medication, to bring Jack into our lives, she became my hero. It absoultely squashed any questions I might have ever had about how much sense it would make for a woman to be POTUS. Face it, guys, women are way more advanced, and we're just arm candy.

acting my shoe size

Friday night I experienced an epiphany of sorts and it's been nagging me ever since.

It was around dusk when we returned from dinner in Chevy Chase at Indique Heights -- the less hip sibling of Cleveland Park's Indique. As I pulled up to the house I saw two kids, probably 14 years old, in our front yard looking guilty as hell. When I parked they had darted across the street, up a ridiculously steep hill, into Lafayette Park. Impulsively I gave immediate chase and surprisingly scaled the hill with ease. By the time I reached the field, however, they were at least 50 yards away, and at that point I should have bailed on my pursuit. I didn't.

Instead I sprinted, in dress shoes and jeans, until the Indian food in my gut turned to fire works and my leg muscles cramped up. What was I thinking? There was no way I would ever catch them. Even if I did catch them, then what? It's not like I'm going to lay hands on them.

The truth is I admired these kids and wished I could be on their side of this chase, where I had spent so many years of my life in the wake of trouble. It occurred to me as I leaned over with my hands on my knees, gasping for air, that when I dashed into that park I crossed a threshold. I was an old man chasing his youth and failing to reel it in.

Collecting myself, I took one last look at them -- two atomic specs on the horizon, arms and legs flinging wildly -- and nodded in acceptance.