Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago, today, I asked my wife to “go out with me.”

Today is also my birthday (thanks for remembering).

Here’s the thing. When I was younger and birthdays still kind of mattered, it always irritated me that our “anniversary” fell on my birthday. I am not proud of having felt this way and I regret the years that I didn’t mention it or buy something for my girlfriend.

Now, the “anniversary” is less important, so to speak, since our wedding anniversary falls on a completely different day. But, as I have grown up and we have continued our life together, my birthday has gained significance for me again.

This year seems especially important since we now have an amazing child together.

I don’t think that my fifteen-year-old self could have ever imagined what life would be like seventeen years later. In fact, I am pretty sure my fifteen-year-old self never thought about much more than 5 minutes in the future. But, I sure would like to travel back in time and give him a hug for having the courage to whisper, “will you go out with me?” in my wife’s ear.

We all have moments in our life that we look back on with regret. I know I have lots of them and, lately, they seem to be clouding my brain in a fog of negativity. Humans tend to focus on the negatives and the missed shots in their life.

Today, I get to celebrate the best shot that I took and made.

Nothing but net.

Little did I know standing in the hallway of Franklin Junior High that I was making the best choice of my entire life. Which is obvious by my countless attempts to mess it up over the years that would follow.

For some reason, my wife stuck with me through the bad times and now I am able to reflect on the woman that my wife has become. It has been nothing short of amazing.

It has been nothing short of amazing.

See, I have remained relatively the same. Aside from some disgusting weight fluctuations, I remain the remarkably average guy that I have always been. There isn’t all that much that is impressive about me. I have the same sense of humor that I did when I was fifteen. I remain relatively average in most other facets of my life.

Except for my wife and son.

Over the past seventeen years, my wife has turned into a woman. Dare I say, a sexy woman.

When I look at it now, in hindsight, it is awe inspiring and beautiful.

Professionally, she is a force. A strong, confident woman that gets things done. Everyone that works for her loves her. I am astounded by her drive daily.

As a mother, she is nothing short of incredible. She is attentive, patient, and loving every minute of the day. Even when she is covered with spit up at five in the morning, she seems to appreciate the moment and enjoy it. Even when she is exhausted and her nerves are fried due to a lack of sleep, you wouldn’t know it when she is interacting with our son.

Finally, as a wife. Well, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe what she means to me. Day in and day out, she loves me despite my many flaws. She is the reason I am the man that I am today. She is the reason that I smile when things seem to be going bad. She is the reason that I am able to get out of bed every day.

So, if you have made it this far, what’s the point?

First, I just feel like everyone should know that I have an amazing wife.

But, more importantly, I know that I am not alone in having a moment in my life that I can look on and point at as a time where my life changed for the better.

Rather than focusing on the things that did not go as planned. Focus on the time they went perfect and be grateful for that moment.

I know that today when I look at my wonderful wife and son, I will be.

Cheers.

Unsolicited Advice

When I was engaged my least favorite part was the unsolicited advice and terrible jokes.

“Your life will be over the minute you get married.”

“You will never have freedom again.”

“Just remember… happy wife, happy life.”

“Happiest day of my life is when I got divorced.”

On and on it went with these bits of wisdom from people I wouldn’t consult with on what type of toilet paper to use.

These people think they are being funny and creative.

Wrong.

They think they are dropping golden pieces of wisdom that will help make a happy relationship.

Nope.

If you are one of these people, stop. Don’t do it. If people want relationship advice from you, they will ask. And, if they don’t ask? Well, there is probably a reason that they aren’t asking you…

I get it, it is a bit of hazing as you enter a new club that so many before have joined. But, it is akin to pulling up next to someone at a stop light and saying, “I see you’ve got a car there. Let me tell ya, if you want it to keep running, you should be sure to put gas in it.”

After getting married, all that stopped, it was such a relief. The reprieve was short-lived as a new group of personal life invaders appeared.

“Soooo, when are you going to have children?!”

Guess what? Whether a couple is going to have children is none of your business.

If you do this, stop. Don’t do it.

This is as inappropriate as asking someone, “what do you and your spouse like sexually? Please, be as descriptive and specific as possible.”

Maybe they aren’t ready. We are in the 21st century and people do not always procreate immediately.

Maybe they are trying but are having trouble that is putting stress on their relationship that you couldn’t possibly understand.

Maybe they never want to have kids and don’t want to see the stupid, confused look on your face when they tell you this.

Slowly, this tide of people does retreat back to sea (with the marriage advice dopes) as people start to assume that you just won’t have kids for some reason or another. Which they love just as much. Why? Because then they tell other people on your behalf that you are not having children.

Seriously, I thought the personal life invaders had left but, alas, I was sorely mistaken. I have encountered what seems to be the worst yet.

Pregnancy, birth and parenting advice givers.

I get it you have had one child or more and now you are an expert. You have the wisdom to impart that I must hear lest my child peril due to my lack of knowledge. You have come to my aid in the nick of time, Super Douche.

I’ll take my chances but… thanks.

“Has your wife been really moody and eating weird things? Because my wife was a total bitch when she was pregnant.”

Well, what a lovely way to talk about the mother of your child. While she was going through one of the most difficult life experiences that a human can encounter, your thought was “what a bitch?”

What is the endgame here? You want me to tell you that my wife is not in the best of moods and that will somehow make you feel better?

“You don’t understand how expensive children are.”

There is no way you can escape this comment. It is always stated as if it is the biggest revelation in the history of mankind.

It isn’t.

Obviously, children are expensive. Thank you for being the John Madden of my life stating the obvious. Thank you for stating this and not following up with any helpful advice or tips on how to reduce costs. You have either learned none, or, you are a sadist that is looking forward to watching parents fail financially. Which is it?

And, finally, we come full circle back to the moron that was giving imparting wisdom before marriage. He has since had a child and would like you to know…

“Your life will be over the minute your baby is born.”

“Live it up now because once you have a kid, you’ll never have fun again.”

How terrible is your life? These are the same people that long for the days of high school when they felt like the popular kids.

I didn’t make the decision to have a child without considering what life would be like afterward. Of course, I will have less time to go out to bars and do the things I have done for the past decade. I will now have a human life that is depending on me to be responsible and make sound decisions…

Oh dear god, what have I done?

Unlike these people, I am happiest when spending time with my wife and now there will be a child that is joining us. I can’t think of anything that I would want more than that.

So, what’s the point?

The point is: mind your business when you encounter people in any of these stages of their life. What is coming next is exciting and terrifying for them. They do not need your weak attempts at humor and life advice.

Stop telling people horror stories because you are insecure about your perceived failures or shortcomings as a spouse and/or parent.

However, if you must give your unsolicited advice. Talk about the good stuff.

Talk about how amazing it is to start a life with someone that you are crazy about.

Because it is amazing.

Talk about how wonderful the time spent as a couple without kids is.

Because it is wonderful.

Talk about what an unbelievable blessing it is to have a child.

Because it is…. well, I don’t know about this part yet. But, I believe it will be. Even though the personal life invaders have tried to convince me otherwise.

I have decided these people are the same as the people that give a one-star product review on Amazon because they couldn’t figure out how to correctly put the batteries in their new label maker.

I want my own experience with being a parent. It will be nothing like yours. I am going to make a million mistakes that other people will roll their eyes at.

That is my decision. It has nothing to do with you. Soon, you will move on to the next expecting parent within arms reach and “help” them.

I guess we will meet again when you need to fill me in on the proper way to retire and die…

Until then.

Cheers.

 

 

 

No You’re Not

“No you’re not…”

In a flash, my life changed. An entire new list of worries and responsibilities appeared as if out of thin air. The countdown has started. I finally will be forced to become an adult.

My wife is pregnant. Oh my god, my wife is pregnant. 

While it was a surprise, it wasn’t completely a surprise. We had been “trying”. I knew quite well that this would happen sooner than later. But, I thought it would be later.

I just don’t know if I’m ready.

To be clear, it’s not that I didn’t know if I was ready to be a father. I am (well, as much as can be).

As I stood in my kitchen holding my wife moments after she told me the big news, a flood of memories clouded my brain.

The realization hit me like a freight train.

I don’t want to say goodbye to this way of life. Continue reading

Happy New Years?

I am sick of saying “Happy New Year.”

Why is this something that we feel compelled to say to one another?

It is an empty gesture. We are all saying it to each other because it is the methadone to ween us off of saying Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Nobody says “Happy New Year” after January first.

Why?

Because it is meaningless. When does the year stop being new? January second? So, you are just a prick who is hoping that I make it home with out getting killed by a drunk driver but nothing more? I mean, thanks for not wanting me to die and all but…

While we are at it. Let’s talk about how shitty New Years Eve is.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not want it to be removed as a national holiday (day off) but, all of this Happy New Year stuff makes people think that New Years Eve should be a special and cathartic night of reflection and hope.

I am not saying that it can’t be.

But…

Most of the time it isn’t. Most of the time we are left feeling like we are missing out.

The reason for this is simple.

We spend all day in anticipation. Planning our night. Drinking, dancing, having fun.

All of this alone should make the evening special. But, too often, it doesn’t.

We spend all night watching the clock, asking “how long until midnight?”

We spend all night watching a re-run of something that has already happened, pretending that it is actually live.

We watch celebrities tell us what they are looking forward to in their amazing live’s in the upcoming year which makes us feel shitty about the fact that the next big thing we are looking forward to is the new season of Game of Thrones.

We watch terrible, lip-synced musical performances and flip the channel for this year’s Red Bull stunt (which is always underwhelming because turns out they use professionals that know their physics better than your average redneck with a dirt bike).

We drink way too much, too fast, and realize too late that we need to pace ourselves if we plan to make it to midnight.

“Ten minutes left!”

The anticipation grows. As we stare at the glass of champagne in our hand that could be cheap or expensive because we can’t tell the difference and think anyone who thinks they can is full of shit.

“Five minutes!”

The saliva starts to pool in our mouths as we hope we can make it at least a couple of hours into the new year without throwing up due to intoxication (we are a little old for that aren’t we?).

We gather around as the ball with an absurd number of crystals begins its’ descent to the bottom of the pole on which it sits.

Now is when we take a little time to think about the year and plan what we are going to do different in the year ahead (but won’t). We count our blessings and feel optimistic (for once) about the direction things are heading.

“Ten, nine, eight…”(etcetera, etcetera).

If we are lucky, someone special is along side of us waiting for the strike of midnight for the traditional kiss. Worrying along with us about how long the kiss should be.

How long is everybody else going to kiss for? Is it going to be just a simple kiss or one of the French persuasion? I don’t want to be the first one done kissing because it will be weird watching everyone else kiss… but I don’t want to be last either because it will be weird for everybody else… Oh shit, time to kiss…

“Happy New Year!” is shouted in unison.

Next comes the song that we all recognize but only know the first couple of lines. You know the “auld sang line” one. We don’t know what it means but the tune is so catchy.

For the record, it is Auld Lang Syne and it means: times long past.

Yes, after we toast and wish each other a happy new year, we play a song that is reminiscing about times long past. It’s a big “never mind!” to the fact the calendar just turned over to a new year yet again.

What’s next?

Nothing. Nothing is next. We all just got the payout and it was less than thrilling. New Years Eve is Christmas Eve with no payout. Well, except for when we throw up like a slot machine paying out a jackpot.

We spend the first day of the new year hungover, cursing champagne and wishing that we had the foresight to buy food that would cure said hangover since every store is closed.

We don’t feel good enough to start that new exercise regimen.

We’ll start that tomorrow… we’ve got all year!

Our brains are too foggy to learn that new thing that we always have wanted to do.

If we’re going to learn something new we should at least start out mentally sharp.

We want to spend more time with our family in the new year, but we are way too hungover to head over to our parent’s house.

We wouldn’t be pleasant with this hangover anyways and getting off the couch is not happening.

We want to drink less in the new year.

Off to a great start! We are definitely not drinking today… But, a Bloody Mary may not be such a bad idea…

Ultimately, we know that it is that moment of reflection and hope that keeps us coming back. The feeling, even if it is just for a moment, of unadulterated optimism before we are jarred by the dramatic snap back to reality.

And, in 358 days we will adjust our e-mail valedictions and we will force a smile as we say to every friend, acquaintance and stranger we see…

“Happy New Year”

Cheers.

 

Do You Believe?

Can you remember the time when you truly believed in Santa Claus?

When you knew beyond a doubt that the stories were true, that he actually flew from house to house delivering presents?

I know I can.

Growing up, Santa always came on Christmas Eve. There was no sleeping and waiting for Christmas morning. No waking up and running down stairs to see if he came again that year.

Wait. Before you start to judge, or think that I didn’t get to experience the magic…

I will argue that I experienced more magic than most.

Most of my Christmas Eve’s run together, as they do for most of us. But I have one. One night that, to this day, makes me stop and wonder for just a moment if Santa could actually be real.

I must have been about 5 years old. Come to think of it, it’s probably the first Christmas that I remember.

When I look back, there was every reason for me to have the veil lifted on the entire Santa Claus “thing.” Because not only am I the baby in my family… I am also a mistake. Sorry, my mom hates that… I was an unplanned surprise that happened to turn out as the most funny, gifted, handsome, and tallest son in my family.

Anyway, my siblings must have had every opportunity to spoil the magic. But, they didn’t. For that, I am grateful.

(Side note: my siblings are awesome, I have always felt included despite being a decade behind.)

On this particular Christmas Eve, we were at another family’s home overlooking the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York.

I don’t remember the evening or what we had for dinner. I don’t remember what I did to keep myself occupied without another person my age in the house.

What I do remember is it being late. I remember the snow making the night a little brighter. I remember everyone happy and laughing. And,  I remember the sleigh bells.

Out of no where there were sleigh bells. Faint, but there they were. Outside the house (on the roof?), the undeniable sound of sleigh bells.

It’s really him!

Before we know the truth, there is always a piece of us that is skeptical. The story is far fetched, that is obvious even to a five year-old. But, we search for every excuse to believe. We choose to believe in the unbelievable because it is much more exciting than knowing your parents bought, wrapped, and placed your presents under the tree.

Remember, this is before the all of the Santa tracker apps and websites. Sleigh bells outside were my tracker. Sleigh bells outside.

He is here. He is actually here delivering presents!

Of course, everybody at the party took the opportunity to feed into my excitement.

“Do you hear that, Timmy?”

“It sounds like he is headed for your house.”

“If you hurry home, maybe you can catch him.”

We got in the Aerostar van and started our way home. I can’t imagine I was tolerable. The van could not go fast enough.

We finally got home.

I ran to the front door. I ran through the house to the living room.What I found was nothing short of a miracle to my young eyes.

Four neat piles were set up in different areas of the living room. One for my sister, two for each of my brothers and, most importantly, one for me.

I can’t remember any of my presents, except for one. It was a Gonzo timtalksgonzostuffed animal from The Muppets (I must have liked him?). He was sitting on the arm of the black sofa, placed so deliberately… so carefully that I knew it could only have been Santa that placed my toys in that pile.

But, it wasn’t about the presents. Not that night.

Leading away from the fireplace were snowy, wet boot prints.

On the coffee table sat a half drank mug of milk and an empty plate that was previously adorned with cookies.

Proof.

I had proof beyond a reasonable doubt that not only was Santa real, but he had visited my house and delivered my presents.

Obviously, one of my parents had left the party early to put on this ruse but that was lost on me.

I believed.

As I write this, I can feel a part of me that still believes (thanks to this 4th glass of red wine). There is a part of me that still isn’t quite convinced that it wasn’t Santa.

I love that feeling.

We all love that feeling.

With all of the non-sense that clouds up our lives on a day to day basis, I think it is important that we all remember these simple pleasures.

Yes, there are terrorists in the world that want to kill us.

Yes, Donald Trump exists.

Yes, we have issues that we believe in and want to convince the rest of the world that our opinion is the right one.

Yes, we (most of us) go to jobs that drive us crazy and make us want to give up.

But, in sixteen short days it will be Christmas Eve. And, for millions of kids around the world, the magic is starting to build as they wait and hope for Santa’s visit.

Yes, that is amazing.

Yes, we should all do what we can to encourage that belief in magic.

And, no, of course Santa isn’t real.

Of course, he doesn’t have flying reindeer.

And no, it’s not possible for him to visit kids all over the world.

But… Maybe, just maybe…

Cheers to believing.