Stage II: Something Very Bad

Something Very Bad (the codename that I will use from this point forth; SVB for short) is about to commence in our front yard.

Stage I started two weeks ago with the initial spraying orange dashes (and other technical code) of paint on the sidewalks in front of our house and the digging of a coffin-sized hole in our neighbor’s front yard which was later covered.

Apparently AT&T is going to be engaging in some “cable splicing” along our street in the not-to-distant future. AT&T has yet to notify us of this but they have, thus far, done a bang-up job of digging a 3-foot hole to the left of our driveway and have tagged our lawn and sidewalks with dayglow orange paint.

This should be fun. More to follow as the SVB phases continue…

Neck cracking no more

My mother-in-law called me out on cracking my neck. It’s really cool, the way I do it. I just jerk my head to either side and am relieved by the sound a feeling of the “krrrkkk, grrrkk, grkk” in the back of my neck. But she pointed out that a 27-year-old coworker of hers suffered from a fake aneurysm because he damaged his artery by cracking his neck. I would suspect this would be from a build-up of scar tissue.

She sent me this article late this afternoon and I promised her that I would make a conscious effort to cease any and all cracking of my neck. At 11:39 p.m. tonight I subconsciously cracked my neck but immediately caught it. I was too late, but at least I realized that I did it. Now, how do I break myself of habit that I’ve owned for 10+ years?!?!

Revisited emotions from a hotel room in a strange city

Elise, her parents, grandma, Maly and I are in Tulsa for Elise’s cousin’s wedding.  We started the day yesterday three hours late for a road trip that was to take all day.  We had a rehearsal dinner to get to at Elise’s aunt and uncle’s house which is 507 miles from our driveway in Austin.

The day was a little stressful.  I led the two-car caravan well into Oklahoma at as close to 80 mph as I could.  We were only half an hour late for the rehearsal dinner.

The day was stressful because not only did Elise and I have our normal stresses traveling as a family with a 1-year-old, but we also had three other people traveling with us.

As far as I could tell, Elise and I weren’t stressed with one another, as we usually are.  Instead, we were battling our own outside individual stresses.  For lack of a better phrase, we were in the same boat, paddling together instead of on separate ships, firing at each other.

The rehearsal dinner was nice.  I was able to meet a lot of people from Elise’s mom’s side of the family whom I had never met.

We were all exhausted and Elise, Maly and I left the party around 10:30.   Maly was 3 hours past her bedtime.

We stopped at the QT on 71st near the hotel where I bought a 12-pack of beer as I had not yet had my RDA of Moloko Plus.

It wasn’t until we parked the truck when Elise and I had our first falling out.  Elise was carrying Maly and the stroller as we made our way to the hotel entrance.  I was carrying two backpacks, our cooler full of food, 12-pack of beer, my suit, a granite bust of Jack Nicholson, a competition series air hockey table, a kayak, a late model Dodge Neon and four fruit baskets.

I was in a hurry for the elevator because I was about to drop the Jack Nicholson bust on my foot.  Elise got mad at me for not waiting and went so far as to remark on my lack of chivalry.   Ouch.

Half an hour later, Maly is asleep in her travel crib and Elise’s eyes are barely slits as she lies on one of the twin beds in our room.  I’m lying on the other bed with the computer on my lap, a beer in my hand and a Robert Redford movie is playing on the TV.

I finally convince myself to go to bed at 1 a.m.

I was so tired but couldn’t fall to sleep.  My mind was working but I couldn’t tell what it was working on.  I rolled over a few times and finally found myself on my back, staring at the white popcorn texture on the ceiling.  I stared at the ceiling while listening to my daughter breathing in the crib on the floor next to me.

Eight months ago I was in this same place, only in a different hotel in a different city for a different reason.  It was the night that we took my Dad off of life support.  Elise, Maly and I stayed in a hotel room in Odessa.  Our room had two twin beds.  Maly was only 5-months-old and still slept with us a lot of the time.  All three of us couldn’t sleep in the same bed on that night as the bed would have been too small and I would have kept my wife and daughter up with my crying.  Instead, Elise and Maly slept in one of the beds and I in the other, rolling over and over, crying and trying to cope with the sudden death of a part of me.

I would stop crying long enough to stare at the popcorn texture on the ceiling and listen to my daughter breathe.

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Monthly Maly Letter: Month 13

Dear Maly,

You turned 13-months-old today. Your crowning achievement has been that you learned to walk. Your mom and I had very little involvement in this process other than the bewilderment we endured as we witnessed a breathtaking milestone from our little human. Last month you were able to stand for a few moments and now, here you are, completely mobile.

It probably took you all of a couple days to learn to walk. You went from taking a couple steps and falling back onto your butt to a full and confident walk.

I’m really hoping I can get you to start mowing the yard before summer’s gone.

You purposely sit in my lap now. I will sit on the ground with you while you are playing and you will walk over to your toys and pick up a ball or you will walk to the cat a yank a tuft of fur and then walk back to me and do a belly flop onto my lap. You will then pull yourself up, nestle and sit in my lap while waving whatever toy in front of you. We’ll sit there, facing the same direction for a minute or so and you’ll have to awkwardly climb out of my lap only to walk around and then return to belly flop onto my lap and begin the process again.

You think fart noises are really funny. I think that’s funny because I also think fart noises are funny. We’ll both hear a fart noise, real or fabricated, and we’ll both giggle. You really think they’re funny when I’m laughing. And when you laugh, I only laugh harder. And what gets me going is when you laugh at your own farts. I really need to get this on video so I have something to show at your rehearsal dinner.

We bought barrettes for you yesterday. Your hair is getting longer and the barrettes help keep it manageable while also giving a subtle clue to those who think we like to dress our long-haired Dutch boy in pink.

The Saturday before last your mom was out running errands. You and I were sitting in the grass in the front yard and a little beetle-like bug flew over and landed on the back of my hand. I got your attention and pointed to the bug. You stared at it inquisitively and just at the point where I thought you would have reached your finger out to touch the bug, it flew off of my hand and onto your thigh. You noticed that the bug was suddenly gone, but didn’t know where it went. I pointed to the bug on your leg. You looked down, saw the bug on you and immediately stood up and jumped into my arms, throwing your arms around my neck. You were afraid of the bug and you wanted me to save you. My first reaction was a little laugh. Then my instincts and heart lodged themselves in my throat when I then experienced the greatest feeling I have ever known. You wanted and trusted me to save you. To help you. To shield you. To hold you and to make the bad go away. You threw yourself at me because you knew that I would protect you.

I will remember that day for the rest of my life. I will remember the way, without hesitation, you looked at that little bug and then to me, and the lunge you took toward me. You didn’t look back for the bug. You just held on to me until I assured you that it was okay.

The bug encounter couldn’t have lasted more than ten seconds, but those ten seconds changed my life. It’s truly amazing how the smallest things, be it a bug or a fleeting moment, are the things that end up mattering the most.

I will always protect you. And make fart noises as long as they still make you laugh. As long as you’re happy, safe and laughing, I’ll find solace in knowing that I’m here, doing what I’m supposed to do.

I love you, sugar.



Pedernales Falls camping trip

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We had a great time camping at the Pedernales Falls camping grounds last weekend. Photos are here.