Friday, March 30, 2012

Speech Therapy

Monday morning I got a "talking to".  One of the teachers that runs the bi-weekly Roots and Shoots program Liam attends gave me the universal "before you go I need to speak to you for a moment, in private" gesture.  I thought "uh-oh.  Is he biting?  Are his poops too awful?  I'm sorry, he loves cheese.  Is he too good-looking and it's making the other kids uneasy?  Is it ME!?  Was it obvious I forgot today was my day to bring the snack until 10 minutes before class??  Was it because I showed up smelling boozy that one time?!  I was working on my home wine that day, it was just my wet pants, I swear!!  WHAT?!!"

"We're a little concerned with his speech," she tells me.


This was four days ago and I get now that Liam's being a little behind the curve is really not a big deal.  I've told a few moms at work about it and have heard enough anecdotes from those whose kids "barely said a word until they were four" to really worry too much.  Plus I was a late talker and had specialists recommending speech therapy for me well into my early teens (I remember my reaction was something like "Inawannagodaspeechthurpee!"), so no big deal, right?  Well for some reason hearing a helpful educator recommend that Liam try "a few exercises that will help him communicate better" sent me spiraling through the classic five stages of mourning.  No really.

Denial:  No, you're confused.  We're pretty sure he's just created his own language that's a hybrid of English and Japanese and you're just not smart enough to understand it.

Anger:  I should have NEVER let him watch TV!  Yo Gabba Gabba has destroyed his brain!  Curse you DJ Lance!!

Bargaining:  He doesn't need any special help, it's me!  I need speech therapy.  He's just copying his parent's garbled speech like Nell did.  I'll start today.  Where are the flash cards!  Watch this 'par-si-mon-i-ous'...SEE!  We're good!!

Depression:  That's it.  I'm done.  I'll never know joy again.  This world is a deep dark chasm of misery and I should have never been born into it (I'm using a little hyperbole here)

And finally Acceptance.  This really is NOT that big of a deal.  Liam's never had the same level of vocabulary as the other kids his age and we inquired about that early on.  All the experts say the same thing, "He's fine.  Kids progress at different rates.  All that matters is that they progress."  So why did I panic?  Why the overreacting?  Why did I suddenly feel like I'd somehow failed him?  Do other parents do this?  This is the first time a qualified professional has pointed out that my child isn't perfect and I kind of lost it.  Pathetic.  What will happen when he has a real problem?  I'll probably have to be institutionalized.

We all want our kids to be happy and healthy and I'm really lucky to have two kids that are both.  My first reaction was pretty lame but now I'm kind of excited about doing a little extra homework with Liam.  He loves talking, so helping him do it better will be pretty cool.  Yeah, for a moment I felt like I must have done something wrong since all I should ever hear is that my kids are the best at everything they do, right?  Maybe I'm the one that needs therapy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Brother Series: Dan

My oldest brother Dan was forced by chronology of birth to take care of the rest of us. To this day he bears a decent amount of resentment at having gone without so much free time and cool stuff, while in his imagination the rest of us frolicked like the Lost Boys around the dirty century-old farmhouse and surrounding gravel pits that were our Neverland.

Yes, that's a goat on our porch. So what?
His chores included getting up early to feed the horses, milk the goats, and gather eggs from the chickens. He then had to make sure all of us were up and dressed, after which he would feed us - more often than not he slopped some greyish oatmeal the consistency of watered-down paste into our bowls and then barked "too bad!" at us when we bitched "this is GROSS!" at him. After breakfast he'd get all five of us, including himself, out the door and onto the school bus for the 20-minute ride to our crummy little school.

Since Dan was the oldest and I was basically the youngest, I didn't feel all that close to him. I know when I was a toddler and pooped in the tub (come on, you know we all did that at some point, shut up), it was Dan that cleaned it up, even though my mom was sitting right there when I told everyone what I'd done. That and the fact that he shared a birthday with my best friend are the two strongest memories I have of him from childhood. Yes - walking past him and mumbling Happy Birthday as I headed out the door to go to Jessica's party for a few years in a row - that's what I filed away.

He was mostly just in my peripheral vision until he joined the Marines to escape all of us when he was 17 and I was 8, at which point he pretty much disappeared for a while. This would set a trend of hope and impatience among my siblings and I; knowing that escape was possible, if we just put in our time. I heard the words "I can't wait to get out of here" muttered or shouted or just read in a desperate expression so many times over the years that I didn't associate turning 18 with voting or college - it meant Finally Moving Out.

We heard from Dan from time to time. I remember he sent me a giant stuffed panda bear from Okinawa, and I may have written him a letter or two, but for the most part he seemed like a distant uncle.

It wasn't until I was in high school that Dan and I started getting to know each other. He started coming around a little bit more, and took an interest in me. He affectionately called me 'Doc (short for my childhood nickname, Boonie - itself an abbreviated version of Boondock), and began telling sentimental stories about how close we'd been when I was a kid. This was news to me, but I went with it. He would chuckle about how it was impossible to keep me in a diaper as a kid, or in clothes for that matter (nothing much has changed there). As I grew older and received perks he'd never had, his big bald head would turn red and he would take it upon himself to educate me on the injustices of favoritism:

"you get a CAR?! Dammit when I was your age I had to work THREE JOBS to get a car!" or "mom lets you use the checkbook to buy the groceries?! When I was your age I had to go to the store with mom and carry everything to the car...with NO CART!"

"They didn't have grocery carts back in the olden days of 9 years ago?"

"Well, of course they did! But...I wasn't allowed to use one! I had to...I had to just...CARRY everything!"

Despite his apparent dissatisfaction at having suffered in his role of Oldest Child and therefore Caretaker of All, he has eight kids of his own. I'm not kidding. Eight! They live super far away so I'm not in a position to spy, but it doesn't seem like those kids are too grumbly, either. In fact they look...happy. I see lots of pictures taken from soccer, gymnastics, football, baton twirling and other random team-ish sports. They're always wearing clothes - matching clothes - and their hair always looks nice. Like, brushed and styled nice. I honestly need an ibuprofen and a nap just thinking about how busy their mom must be! But she gets major applause from me because its obvious that she's actually involved with them all, and that's pretty goddam amazing right there.

Dan and I text or talk to each other approximately once per year. Some years, twice. During our last conversation we did the usual commiserate bitching about how people (aka our family) give us a hard time for not visiting more, when how in the hell are we supposed to, with kids and no money...for me it would be $1,000 in plane fare alone, and I only have two kids, I don't know how in the heck he ever manages to travel!  This conversation, as you can see, always turns in to a mutually-understood and appreciated rant on both of our parts.

We also took about 45 seconds to discuss my love life. He said he hadn't known I was getting divorced, that he'd heard a little bit from our mom and his wife, but he 'never knows what to believe'. I suggested that he could just, you know, ask me. This made us laugh for some reason. We are not exactly a family of communicators.

At the end of the day, I love this big bald martyr, and I know he loves me too. Sometimes it's nice having siblings that you know very little about, because the alternative is knowing too much, and not liking what you find in each other. Because we grew up in the same house, we love each other. That's just the way it goes. Also because of this, I know that if I ever really, really, really needed him, he's absolutely got my back. If only from afar.

Monday, March 26, 2012


This past Friday I was at work combating another sleepless night coupled with a head cold by drinking near-lethal doses of coffee and for some reason I started imagining myself with a big green helium balloon for a head and got so freaked out I had to go sit alone in the bathroom for ten minutes.  That's when I got to thinking that there really has to be a better way to deal with my parental workload.  I've been pretty smug til now about the ease with which I've taken on this "daddy" gig.  I've scoffed at these people who bemoan the agony of parenthood thinking "quit your BITCHING people, this is 100 percent full-time awesomeness!!"  But now I have to concede it's more like 85 to 90 percent awesomeness some days.  Still a B+ totally, but no gold star.

I kind of saw this coming.  Having one kid is kind of a piece of cake.  It's a lot of work to be sure but completely manageable.  Having two has been logarithmically more challenging.  I couldn't have anticipated exactly how challenging it was going to be but the words "a toddler and a newborn" didn't sound like your proverbial picnic.  It hasn't been, but of course I still love* it.  I've skated by so far because Finn's needs have been pretty basic (boobs and sleep) but now my cabroncito is coming up on six months and he's moving beyond what a friend of mine described as the "pillow with eyes" phase.  He's getting himself some proper needs.

For example this weekend Finn's teething didn't have him crying all night, just every two and a half hours.  At one point (I think it was Saturday evening, but it might have been just 7 hours ago) Erin had gone quietly insane with frustration after coming back to bed to find that the cold I'd earned as a result of not sleeping enough on these cold rainy days, had me snoring.  Loud.  She calmly asked if she should sleep somewhere else (subtext: to keep from smothering you in your sleep) to which I responded by gathering up my pillow and heading to the guest bed.  The guest bed of course is located in Liam's room which works out if your guest is a ninja.  I am, so I made my way across the room and under the covers in perfect silence and avoided announcing my arrival.  Unfortunately the broccoli, cauliflower, and cheese soup Erin had made for dinner did the announcing for me.  Liam was THRILLED to find that his favourite playmate was going to be spending the night in his room since he'd really not played enough that day due to the cold rainy weather.  Mind you, this was the weekEND.

I swear they look like they're plotting
During the weekDAYS I can squeeze in work, commuting, three square meals, the gym, some rudimentary personal hygiene, and 5.7 hours of sleep when all goes well.  If I run into any obstacles during the day then the list gets trimmed back a bit.  Now I know what you're thinking, "The gym? Wow. Despite an arduous schedule of feeding, clothing, bathing, and entertaining a baby and a toddler, on top of the regular challenges of modern life, you're so committed to personal fitness you still go to the gym?  Go you!"  No.  I go because they have daycare and T.V.  Period.  Because you need little breaks like that.  You need to talk to friends, have a drink, watch a movie, and god willing maybe even have a little "adult cuddle time" for mommy and daddy.  NEED!

I have to admit it's affecting my work.  I catch myself doing things like staring blankly at door knobs and saying smart things like, "I'm sorry, I thought today was yesterday".  Most of my co-workers are parents so they empathize, but then again most of them are Latino so they're thinking "dos niƱos? psh!"  I know there are books that teach you how to be a good parent and manage your time effectively, but when am I going to read those?  I haven't even read The Hunger Games yet!  I think for now I'll just rearrange my "gym" time to coincide with reruns of The Cosby Show.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Paddy's Day

Along with my application for "Father of the Year" I'm going to submit this photo of my two boys at 6:00 a.m. St. Paddy's Day morning just minutes before their daddy packed them up in the car and headed out to a bar...

Liam doesn't say much but with a look like that he really doesn't have to.  I should have tucked them both right back in bed but I didn't.  Instead I hauled them down to the annual Healdsburg St. Paddy's Day Parade put on by our local pub, The B&B Lounge.

I have to confess, an event like this parade is my cup of whiskey-spiked tea.  It's just the right balance of Mayberry meets Mardi Gras.  It's very cute and very small town, while at the same time kind of wrong in a good way.  My excitement coupled with a few warming shots of Jameson had me too filled with bravado to appreciate that Liam wasn't really digging the scene.  Finn was okay, having fallen asleep on the drive over, but Liam had the misfortune of being stuck with a daddy whose train of thought was "What two-year-old wouldn't want to ride around town on his daddy's shoulders this freezing March morning surrounded by 400 drunk and screaming strangers?!"  By the end of it poor little Liam had a death-grip on my ear and a look on his face of abject misery.

I held him as tight as I could and we headed straight home.  I felt like an asshole, but there's a lesson in this, albeit one I really should have learned by now...

Family First!  ALWAYS!!

I might have to get that tattooed.

There were other kids at the parade sure, but the ones Liam's age were tucked safely away in decorated strollers (duh!) and the older kids were all dressed-up in green costumes they'd made themselves with the help of their "good" parents.  Oh well, it's not too late to make it up to him.  Thankfully Easter is only three weeks away.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Viral Golden Egg Post

I've been watching the numbers on our blog lately, and something has become sadly apparent to me: Mike whores out his posts. He's like a name-dropping word pimp, and when he's feeling like no one is paying attention to him, he buys himself a new blingy medallion by talking about his famous friends. And then his posts go apeshit! Hundreds of people read them -  HUNDREDS! That's many people used to read our blog when we first started it...compared to the couple of dozen now. So you know what? I'm not above admitting jealousy, or snaking ideas from those obviously smarter and more skilled than me.

Mike: Aw dang! I want that one on the left!
I'd better write about Scott Keneally, fast!
I started thinking about who I could use to achieve my own fame. The obvious choices would of course be Scott Keneally or Tod Brilliant, because everything they touch turns to gold.

Unfortunately, Scott doesn't know who I am, despite the fact that we've met and have had face-to-face interactions no less than four times, each of which starts with a re-introduction and reminder of who I am and how he knows me. Well, one time he caught me off-guard by giving me a nice hug. He was all "hey!!" and seemed genuinely pleased to see me - until he realized I wasn't the person he thought I was, and then he was all "oh. nevermind." So, he's not really an option.

Tod is actually a pretty cool guy - he humored me last year by letting me be part of one of his photo shoots, and he seems to know who I am when we bump into each other in public. I still make sure if I'm sending him an email or text to say who I am and how he knows me, just in case he's like "who the fuck?" when he reads it. "Hey Tod, is there any way I could get a pic from that photo shoot for my blog? Thanks - Amanda (Sprout)" But I don't know him quite well enough to use him to try to sell my blog to people.

The other night I ran into Steve Pile while Paulie and I were talking to John Courage at the KWTF event at the Arlene Francis Center. I'd been invited there by my friend, the totally famous, brilliant and beautiful writer Dani Burlison. I introduced Steve to Paulie, then hesitated and said " you know who I am?" He laughed and said, "yeah, of course, Taco Truck!" Hey, if Steve Pile claims to know me and thinks my name is Taco Truck, I'm cool with that. But I still can't really use him to gain readers, I don't know him well enough, either! (Side Note: he's building a music school in Africa, you should check out how to help).

I've gotten some halfway decent results when I've posted about my adventures with Scott Loveland, because that guy turns any boring Tuesday night into a Holy Mother of God What Just Happened night. And while he is legitimately an actual friend (the kind that calls at odd hours of the night, leaves long rambling messages, then doesn't remember doing so the next day), and I know him well enough to name drop, he's not all that famous. Except among the ladies, but that's not always a good thing....

My very good friend Chris Bryers is kind of famous...I'm friends with Brent and Amy from The Imaginists. My sweet friend Josie Gay seems to know everyone in the world, maybe I should use her?

I'm reaching here, but maybe Henry Nagle might let me use his name? I know the current Mr. Healdsburg, Chris Herrod...?

Fuck it. I guess I'll just have to come up with some other genius plan to get hundreds of people to read my posts. Like maybe start writing better. I could get involved in politics, I hear there's some stuff going on in that arena. I know kittens are super popular right now, and the last time I threatened to write about them, I think I remember someone really wanting me to do so. I just don't like cats all that much.


God I hope Scott Keneally says he likes this. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pub Trivia

They say you learn something new everyday and it's TRUE.  Why just this week I learned that making homemade refried beans requires the cancellation of all plans 8 hours before and after the 3 hour cooking time, I learned that Finn's absolutely most favorite thing in the world is my acapella rendition of "White Lines", and I learned that if I mounted some kind of switch on my nightstand that would allow me to turn off the kitchen light from bed, I'd save thousands of dollars a year in marriage counseling.  Unfortunately none of this new knowledge came in handy during last night's Pub Trivia at The Wurst.

God knows I think Healdsburg is truly paradise on Earth, but its always had a few things missing.  Mainly a place to eat that is not fine-dining or fast-food, a pub trivia night, and black people.  We can cross two out of three off that list thanks to The Wurst.  The Wurst is a Sausage Grill & Beer Garden that opened up just last year and while I'm not necessarily a huge fan of butt-cancer cuisine, it's clear that the owner Charles Bell went way out of his way to make sure that every single ingredient he uses, down to the pickles, is shockingly delicious.  If you can allow yourself the indulgence, I recommend the "Smash Burger" and a shake.  Even Jeff Cox says so.  I'm getting emotional just thinking about it.

As of last night they added pub trivia to their menu and listen to how cool my wife is.  She insisted we go even though I had to miss class, pay for a sitter, spend the kids' allowance on beer, and still get up this morning at 4 a.m.  I was going to run with the whole "grown up, responsible, good-work-ethic, NOT drinking heavily on a Thursday" thing I've been trying out ever since we had kids, but she knows trivia and beer is my peanut butter and chocolate and could tell I'd have been heartbroken to miss it.

We did NOT win, which is okay.  I'm surprised my strategy of narrowing my eyes at the competition wasn't more effective.  Erin says we would have done a lot better if I'd "listened to her" but I'm not about to start doing that now.  Besides the real issue was that the questions were definitely biased against people who didn't know the correct answers.  Erin had a blast but, with a few audio issues and the fact that the place was so packed people were spilling out the front door, she called it a good "First Pancake".  Tod Brilliant organized the whole thing and did a tip-top job but said he's looking for a new host to take the reins.  I threw my name in that hat of course, but we'll see. I've still got a few more months of school left and 4 a.m. came a little too early this morning.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Pop Quiz:  What causes sleeplessness, bleeding from the mouth, a mild fever, loss of appetite, and diarrhea? Viral Hemorrhagic Fever?  No, teething.  TEETHING?!!  

They don't tell you this in parent school.  Sure there's a chapter on the baby fussing at night so you give him that cute little water-filled plastic pretzel "cyyyyuuuuuutte! It's like he's eating a big pretzel, hahahaha" NO!  It's NOT CUTE!  It's three in the morning and poor little Finn is looking at me in desperation wondering "Why so much pain daddy? Don't you love me?", and all I can do is shoot back a look that says, "life is pain pal, you might as well get used to it."

So I haven't been sleeping much.  Poor me, right?  I've tried the all natural remedies, special wooden rings, a clean damp cloth, etc., but when things get really bad and little baby Finn is exhausted and desperate, out comes the Orajel and Baby Tylenol one-two punch.  Pa-POW!!  Night-night.  

When Finn isn't hurting it's not so bad.  The only thing we're faced with then is the drooling.  My god the drooling.  He looks like he's been doing Bikram Yoga.  When the humidity is high enough the sea of drool will travel the entire length of his onesie and start soaking into his diaper.  His kisses are extra refreshing.

I'd forgotten about this phase of Liam's life even though it was only two years ago.  He would suffer for about two nights for each tooth until, mercifully, they all came in.  Now he has a lovely little mouth full of the goofiest toofers ever.  He's definitely got his daddy's bite issues which is a relief since I can stop worrying about him growing up to be too much of a sexy bastard.  He'll likely be getting braces some day even though I was too much of a pussy to get them.  I toyed with the idea of us both getting braces when he's in his teens and I'm in my late 40's.  I thought getting them at the same time would show my solidarity, prove my love for him, and make for an interesting blog post but I'm pretty sure I can't blog about my teenage kids unless I want them filing for emancipation.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Brother Series: Jason

Jason - twin of Jarrod - raised guinea pigs in his bedroom. Like, dozens and dozens of them. They stank and squealed like dying lobsters and he adored them. Kind of strange because sweetness was not really in his nature.

I have absolutely no idea what made Jason the kind of kid he was, but mother of holy shit, that guy was an asshole. He was violent, he was angry; and I was the only girl in the house that he could take it out on. He constantly threatened to hit me, leaving me with a fairly well-tuned flinch when I was around a suddenly-raised arm, for years. He would do things like punch me in the stomach, flick me in the head, grab my arm and give me nasty indian burns. He yanked my hair. If I layed down on the couch I ran the risk of him sitting on my face and farting. When we'd go swimming he would without fail wrestle my head under the water and hold it there until I was convinced I was dead. In fact, I learned to play dead from a very young age.

I fucking hated that guy.

He would break my stuff. He would steal from our mom. He sometimes spray-painted misspelled obscenities on my bedroom wall, like "Bitch Cunt Hore!!!!" On his own wall he'd write "Mom is a Bitch!" When he and our mom got into it, he'd end up throwing things at her. Like telephones, butter knives, winter boots. When he and our step-dad got into it, whoa - watch out. That guy weighs like 300 pounds but when Jason called him a fat fucker, he moved like a cheetah! Well, a really slow, overweight cheetah, but still. If he managed to catch Jason before he'd jumped out of the attic window and headed out to the gravel pits behind our house to hide for a few days, he would pin Jason down with his knee and the full force of his weight. Those were the only times I felt sorry for my brother. I'd scream for them to stop and be told to shut up and go downstairs!

Jason also suffered from delusions of grandeur. He genuinely believed that he was an actual ninja, and a professional mechanic. He was always doing back flips off of car hoods onto mattresses on the lawn, or perfecting the art of kicking or punching within a half-inch of my face. He took apart and then re-built dirt bikes so that they were louder, and faster. The police were regular visitors to our house in those days.

I can thank Jason for the fact that I never got into drugs or drinking, which is a pretty big accomplishment when you grow up in a redneck small town like I did with absolutely nothing to do to occupy yourself. Watching him chug canned beer before sniffing gas and then walking through a campfire while smoking a joint kind of turned me off of the idea of drug experimentation. It somehow didn't seem all that glamorous to me.

This was as close as you could get us for a picture
I'm happy to report that I like him now.

Several years ago, I started thinking about Jason in a different light. That dude had so much going through his head, so much pent-up anger (at everything, let me count the ways...), and had no outlet whatsoever for getting it out positively. We were a family of Denial Champions. Not so into the whole "communication" thing. At some point my mom started laughing at Jason whenever he'd get angry, and encouraged the rest of us to follow suit. So, he'd throw a fit, or yell, or slam a cupboard door, or throw a plate - we'd laugh. Right in his face.

That really couldn't have felt very good. I don't know what prompted me to suddenly and very intensely realize what that must have been like for him, but I felt like shit for my part in it. I was an adult by that point, better at talking and swallowing my pride and, heaven help me, apologizing. I wrote him a letter and did just that. I'm not sure exactly what the letter said, but in a nutshell, it conveyed my love for him, despite it all.

We've never spoken about the letter. The next time I saw him, however, he hugged me and engaged me in conversation - something we'd never done before. I felt that we understood each other, for the first time in our lives. I've extended an open-invitation to him and his family to visit me in California, and every time we see each other or talk (about once every 2 or 3 years) he brings it up and says he might try to come out sometime soon.

I honestly hope he does. I owe that guy a huge noogie.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I was spending my Monday off with the boys in my usual fashion, clad in my finest laundry day attire and watching Dr. Who, when my phone rang.  I'd recently lost all my contacts because I'm really smart with phones so the number was a strange one, but since it had a San Francisco area code and I was expecting a call from my sister I answered "well hello my dear!" in my best Ed Wynn voice.  ".........Um......hi?" said a voice that was not my sister's.  It's too bad too, she's the only one who likes my Ed Wynn.

It turns out it a was girl named Amy.  Amy was doing a 'casting' for a Healdsburg based photo shoot that Outside magazine was planning to do and explained that she had gotten my number from my good pal Scott Keneally who apparently still says nice things about me even though I made fun of him here.  "You want ME?!" I beamed.  "Well, I'm just getting a little info and taking some pictures, Outside will decide who they want" is what she said but all I heard was "you are going to be famous".  I immediately started worrying about all the temptation that goes along with travelling the world as a famous model.

This wouldn't be my first foray into high fashion.  In high school I was in a show to promote local mom and pop retailers where I sang 'Give My Regards to Broadway' while wearing a Cosby sweater.  Beyond that though I hadn't had any formal training.  At least nothing like the training received by Amanda Janik at the Bloomfield Hills Barbizon School of Modeling, circa 1991 (I swear to god that's true)

Amy sent me an email to give me an idea what the Outside article was going to look like.  Here's the link.  It was while I was checking out the photos of these rugged, good-looking, outdoorsy types that I realized I had peanut butter on my face, my thumb in my nose, and about a half a cup of spit-up seeping through my "Ghostbusters" t-shirt.

I was so excited!  I immediately sent an email back letting her know I was "definitely interested".  As soon as I hit 'send' I realized that we both had gmail accounts which meant that I could check out her Google+ page and see what she looks like so I could recognize her when we met.  Then I realized that she probably checked out my page too to see what I looked like.  I hadn't checked my Google+ page since I'd created it (who has?) so I thought I'd better take a look at what picture I'd posted, hoping that it was one of me looking exceptionally rugged and outdoorsy.

Incredibly Amy still emailed me back and we met two days later at Spoonbar.  She was really sweet and handed me a form asking for some of my basic information including my measurements.  I made sure to subtract the three pounds from my weight that I was planning to lose the week before the shoot and I took extra care in drawing the "8" in "6 foot 8 inches" so they could be sure they weren't reading it wrong.  After that she stood in front of me and snapped a few pictures while I stood against a wall and re-defined the word "awkward".

This was perfect because it meant that my very first and only photo shoot would live on indefinitely, not because the pictures would ever be published obviously, but rather because the people at Outside would likely retain them for training purposes.  Or maybe I'd even become part of the common parlance in the fashion magazine world when describing other models, as in "well sure the model looks fantastic but how would you describe his comfort level in front of the camera on a scale from Mike Bairdsmith to Gisele Bundchen?"

Afterward I told her I was curious who else she was meeting and she listed off about half a dozen names or so, all of whom I knew, all of them rugged, really good-looking, and outdoorsy.  So yeah, I won't be hearing back, but that's fine.  My career as an international model had already gone farther than I ever dreamed it could.  Probably farther than it should have.  It's just as well too, my boys have enough of a legacy to live up to already and they don't need their daddy gallivanting around the globe.  One must always think of the children.

UPDATE:  The Outside Magazine article came out.  Here's the link if you want to see me not in it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I've Been Bedded

About two weeks into our relationship, my boyfriend confessed to me that he hated my bed.

Okay, to be fair, he said something more like "it's really cozy and comfortable, but it hurts my back to sleep on it for more than one night..." and he asked if I would be offended if he bought me a new one. I laughed, a lot. I'm not accustomed to people just up and buying me household furnishings, so I thought he was being a bit presumptuous. I said "what if we break up, and then you'll be thinking 'I can't believe I bought that bitch a bed!'" His reply - "no, I wouldn't. A bed is just a 'thing' anyway." Given my total and complete lack of success at dating up until the moment I met him, I suggested we just make a point to sleep at his place.

Over the next several months we spent the majority of our overnights at his house, with one at my place from time to time.  I thought the subject had been forgotten.

I was wrong.

Last week I got a text from him confirming the size of my mattress. I quickly realized what was happening, but it was too late to stop him. Apparently he really enjoys spending time at my place and wants to do so more, but can't deal with the bed. Last time he stayed over he brought some memory foam and we slept on the floor. The Floor! Because I like a bed when it's available and didn't want to sleep on the floor of my apartment soaking up fumes from the carport below unless I was passed-out cold for some reason, I let him buy the damn bed.

Before the new mattress arrived, I started to get sad. I loved my bed! It's cushy and cozy and is exactly the kind of bed I always wanted to sleep on but never had the opportunity before. I spent my entire childhood sleeping on beanbags or retired hospital beds or double papasan chairs. Or the floor. This bed was given to me as a hand-me-down and was used as a spare bed in my old house - it's fair to say it had been around the block, more than once. I can see how it would be uncomfortable for anyone that weighs any more than 120 (ish) pounds and doesn't enjoy the 'hammock' effect in the middle.

I realize that relationships are about compromise. Paulie has spent the last four months either cleaning his house way more than he normally would because he knows we have to sleep at his place (and for some reason thinks I care if it's clean or not); or spending extra money on his chiropractor because we ended up sleeping at mine.

So I quieted my protests. I spent the nights leading up to the delivery making a point to stay under the covers watching hulu or reading. On the morning of, I spent some time laying and rolling around on my sweet, sad mattress. I got under the covers with my tea and book and did some more reading. I let Evie jump on it a for an extra long time. I took a picture of if once the new one came and I put my old covers on it would somehow look different.

Watching my mattress leave was a surprisingly melancholic experience for me. Maybe because it symbolized independence and sexual awakening and change; long nights and nights that were far too short; love in all of its many-changing forms: Kid, Self, Man - in that order.

But whatever.

My kids tested the new one out and they say it's more fun to jump on, so it stays.

**Update: Paulie doesn't sleep any better on the new bed, because while he loves it, now he's worried that it's too firm for me, and that I might not be sleeping well. It's a process.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Sleeplessness.  It's probably the most common complaint you hear from new parents like myself.  Overall it really isn't as bad as we claim it is.  If I had to bet money I'd guess that I probably average about 5.7 hours a night which isn't so rough.  I remember in college I'd set my alarm for 5 a.m. crew practice and wake up mentally screaming in agony, but for some reason it's different now.  I guess as a parent you just get used to it.

Some nights the average number of hours gets bumped up a bit, like tonight when I get home and leave a trail of clothes from the front door to the bed.  Nights like last night though brought the average down.  Way down.  In addition to the usual stuff that goes along with having kids and a job, Finn is teething and wants to make sure we know it.  As a result I can't speak effectively.  When a co-worker asked what I did over the weekend my answer was something like "I went to the house of the woman where I worked, who was the owner of the winery, where I worked before here...and there was a kind of dinner thing where I brought my hooch and people liked it."  Huh?  I'm also having trouble with basic math.  I had to sit down after trying to divide 300 by 6 in my head.  Plus I can't tell you how many times today I've walked into a room and stood there with absolutely no hope of remembering why I was there.


I just stared unfocused at the screen for twenty minutes.

Anyway, my plan once I got here was to walk around the winery all day with a clipboard in one hand, a bucket in the other, and a very serious expression on my face.  I reasoned that this would get me through the day without anyone asking me to do anything, but unfortunately those plans were crushed once I learned that a guy in my department called in sick.  I realized I might actually have to 'perform'.  So I'm halfway through the day, I've had enough coffee to keep me just a hair south of a panic attack, and I've got to just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Farmers Black Market

Tonight Liam and I went to a local mixer at Roshambo Farms.  Roshambo Farms is the new undertaking of miss Naomi Brilliant, formerly president and owner of Roshambo Winery where I had served as Assistant Winemaker until the place went tits up.  You'd think I'd bitterly avoid any place associated with the winery that had promised to be my winemaking home for the remainder of my career, particularly when its demise came about just after I'd bought a house and impregnated my wife, but you'd be wrong.  I adore Naomi more than ever and have nothing but fond memories of my time at Roshambo, particularly after a night like tonight.

The event was a 'Farmers Black Market' dinner where the local home food growers get together and impress the hell out of each other with the stuff they're creating.  There were a lot of pies.  Not just your traditional pies though, there were stone fruit pies, key lime pies, and kidney pies, all created by people intimately familiar with their ingredients.  It's a hell of a thing to know what the name was of the animal you're eating don't you think?

While it was kind of an amazing social gathering on its own, what really killed me tonight was my time with Liam.  If I can set the stage a bit, basically Liam and I bailed on Erin and Finn tonight and headed out to my alma mater on one of the most beautiful nights I've seen in a long time.  It's unseasonably warm in Healdsburg these days and tonight was one of those nights when the air is heady with scents of the impending Spring.  Liam and I pulled into the farm around 4:30 just as things were really getting going.  There were some great local friends of mine there (Amanda included of course) along with goats, chickens, and even turkeys running around the place.  There were also tons of kids.  Liam is usually a social butterfly but for some reason tonight he grabbed hold of my hand and lead me out away from the crowds.  He was interested in just milling around in the beauty that is the bucolic Healdsburg farm country more than anything else.  He wanted to find sticks for digging in the dirt, walk through tall grass, try and feed a cookie to a chicken, and climb on old tractors.  I don't know what exactly it was about seeing him like this but I felt like I was getting the chance to see myself as a child again.  I was just like he is, more fascinated by the beauty of the world around me than the people around me.  It was an incredible thing to be a part of and got me a little choked up more than once.

Plus my hooch was well received.  While everyone brought amazing foods to this event, my contribution was the booze.  I got to showcase my 2010 Syrah (made from Naomi's vineyards) which everyone seemed to sincerely love and I even got the stamp of approval for my homemade spirits from the celebrity bartender himself Scott Beattie.  All in all a fantastic night.  Here are a couple of pics.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Brother Series: Jarrod

Jarrod is three years older than me and is one-half of a set of very fraternal twins. He and the other one, Jason, couldn't be less alike in appearance, personality, and temperament. Jarrod was pretty sweet and patient with me, and as a kid I considered him my best friend. I also wanted to marry  him. He was very tolerant of my adoration and let me tag along to the mall, football games and to movies with him. I was a very weird kid with a dark sense of humor that I didn't really know how to channel. Jarrod did his best to play along, and in general mirrored my goofball antics.

A lot of our time was spent laughing until we got into trouble.

I'm the shirtless one. Not much has changed there.
Dumb things were funny to us. Like pulling the strings of our hoodies so tightly around our faces that only our scrunched noses were showing, and then pushing these noses against the windows of the backseat to 'scare' passing drivers. Granted, we couldn't see their reactions, what with our eyes being covered in cheap fleecy cotton and polyester, but our imaginations told us that our plan was a success. Which made us laugh uncontrollably until we got shushed, shushed again, growled at, and then threatened with a menacing bark from the driver's seat.

Once our mom took us to Ponderosa for some buffet-style steak and mashed potatoes. We'd started laughing in the car about something, and just...didn't stop. We laughed in line. We laughed at the table. We laughed when the people next to us laughed. We laughed when mom's patient smile waned. We laughed when she forced us to leave the restaurant before our steaks had arrived. We laughed all the way home. How I didn't pee my pants that day, I'll never know.

Things went south for Jarrod and I when I was a sophomore in high school. My boyfriend Scott and I had been dating since just before my freshman year, and we felt bad that Jarrod was alone and didn't have a love like ours - eternal and true. Scott had a friend from school that we decided would work. We set it up. Then all hell broke loose.

Jarrod fell in love with that girl, and vice versa. Which was great and all, but she was - and is - a Mormon. Jarrod took to that religion like a duck to water, and he never looked back. His once carefree, accepting personality began judging people - like me. And the gays. We started having heated debates. I felt angry and depressed and like I had lost him forever. He had always been the one brother that would stand up for me when the others decided to gang up on me all at the same time, which was often. And now I was on my own. Sure, I was old enough to fight my own battles at that point, but still.

Jarrod and his wife tried to make it up to me by introducing me to a guy from their church. He was cute so I dated him the summer after my graduation, which was kind of fun at the time. All I really remember is that we played a lot of volleyball and chewed a lot of gum. I know they had high hopes that I'd fall in love and convert in order to be with this nice sweet upstanding Mormon boy. But their plan backfired when he constantly tried to get into my pants. When my morals are stronger than a freaking MORMON'S morals, you know something is wrong. He even took a sip of my coffee once! Blasphemer! (You can see that I have no roots in religion - I'm pretty sure I used that word incorrectly. Don't care.)

Today Jarrod has a beautiful, sweet, fun-loving family which includes 7 kids. They all show obvious adoration and respect for each other, meanwhile my sister-in-law and Jarrod are still completely smitten with one another. So, I guess that says something. It says Scott and I TOTALLY ROCK at setting people up!!

Over the years Jarrod and I have made our peace and have learned to understand one another a little bit again. At the very least, it's comforting to know he genuinely feels bad that I won't be joining him and his brethren on the Mormon Planet after I die because I'm a sinning non-believer. It's reassuring to know he'll miss me, and he in this life he loves me no matter how much I screw up. I love that goofy Mormon guy.

Friday, March 2, 2012


I think I probably went through my identity crisis a little late in life, which was lucky since I avoided looking like Color Me Badd in high school like all my peers did.  My "exploring the true me" phase came about in college and didn't really manifest itself in the normal ways, which was why I started experimenting with the needle.  Specifically size 10 bamboo.  They just held the worsted weight yarn better.

I was a Junior in college and the local craft store held a knitting class so I signed up.  My frat boy best bud at the time informed me that this was, in fact, "Hella gay dude".  Gay?  What's 'gay' about knitting?!  'Grandma' maybe but why 'gay'?  The implication was that to create fantastic winter wear from scratch was somehow feminine, but this was just another example of the ignorance brought on by subsisting entirely off of a diet of bong water and date rape (fucking frat boys).

Knitting is MANLY.  Who developed it?  Men, that's who!  And not doughy pasty kitten loving men, but FISHERMEN and SHEPHERDS.  Oh yeah!  They were out there with the raw materials and the survival instinct doing what they could to endure the elements so they could provide for their fertile wives and hearty offspring.

Speaking of 'hearty offspring' look how cute Liam is in this fabulous hat.

You should see what I can do with cashmere!

So yeah, way macho.  I took the class and shocked the naysayers who thought I'd never make it.  That was back in 1995 and I've been pretty steady with it since.  I can bust out any pattern of scarf imaginable, I can pick up stitches like bitches, and I can turn the fuck out of a heel.

Unfortunately I've been a little too busy these past couple of years to work on any new projects (that picture of Liam is two years old).  With work, school, parenting, and 'PAIR-RANTING' (get it?) I just haven't had much time on my hands.  But now that winter has finally descended upon northern California (sub sixty degree weather AND precipitation for two days straight!!) I've been feeling the itch to make my kids something itchy.  I may have to slow down on the blogging a bit and speed up on the cable knit.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cranky Bitch

As you can guess from the title, I've been kind of a cranky bitch lately. I'm not sure why either, which makes me even grumpier. I'm not PMSing, I'm not sleep-deprived. I've been working for seven days straight which you would think might be the cause, but actually I'm saving money on payroll, and it's been so damn slow that even after I vacuum and price rompers and organize socks, I still have time to sit down with a cup of tea and read my book. Or, write blog posts.

Mike has been bearing the brunt of my whining like a champ. As always, he's very sensitive to my moods and does what he can to make me feel better when I'm being snarky and taking all of my complaints out on him.

In this case he should have been more sensitive, since it was his fault that I was in a bad mood. He signed us up for this 40 Days of Writing project and committed us to posting on our blog Every Day for 40 Days. What the frack?! I may have gotten slightly annoyed at him, which always makes him act like a defensive schoolgirl with bruised feelings. So then of course, since I somehow always end up being the guy in every opposite-sex relationship I have, I had to apologize and grant his wishes to get him to stop crying like a stupid baby.

So then we were committed to this challenge. I got kind of into it and started brainstorming ideas to write about. Of course I then had to take control of the situation and make sure ADD Mike followed through on the whole process. The process that was his idea in the first place. 

See? He's such a girl sometimes
Since the point of the project is to write every day but he and I are alternating posting here every day, on my days off I've been working on my own website, which is sort of like my kind of homely-looking, intentionally neglected step-child. I don't spend too much time crafting what I post there, and I haven't told anyone about it because I don't like the way it looks yet.

The other night my friend Andrea helped me streamline the site a bit, and added a picture to the home page of me putting on lipstick. She and I found this appropriate and funny, the irony being that I almost never wear lipstick or pay too much attention to what I look like, period. As the site is still a work in progress, I wanted some feedback (read: positive feedback). My boyfriend said "the pic is captivating and somehow also awkward." I thought this was GREAT, because I am awkward, and that was the whole point!

Mike felt differently.

It turns out Paulie actually agreed with Mike, but fortunately we're still at that stage in our relationship where he's careful not to offend me too much. I mean, he'll make jokes about how my ass looks huge in a picture on facebook, but he needed to wait for Mike to fuck up first before he told me that in fact he thought the lipstick picture was cliche and no one would get that I was poking fun at myself because they don't know me. Dammit!

Back to the drawing board. Back to being a bitch. Good thing I've got about 31 more days to perfect all of the above.