Monday, April 29, 2013


Just a little over 15 years ago I convinced a girl to like me. A really cute girl, way out of my league. Not just as a friend, like we'd been for the previous year, but like me like me. It was huge.

In the years that followed, this amazing girl taught me about wine which became my career, brought me to Healdsburg which became my home, and then married me and had two sons which became my family. She introduced me to everything in life that I cherish and hold dear. God only knows where I'd be without her.

We were kids when we first met, just 21 and 22 years-old. In a way, we grew up together, but we didn't exactly grow in the same direction. We were like two roads running parallel for a little while then, at some point, diverging just a bit. Not a lot, just at a gentle angle. The problem is, when two people travel down diverging roads long enough, you eventually find yourselves really far apart.

We tried to find one another again, we really did. Therapy wasn't the answer for us. For my part I'd recognized that I was spending my life with a brilliant, funny, gorgeous woman with an incredible sense of humor and a heart of gold, so the idea of breaking up wasn't on the radar...until it was.

I read this article and I shared it with Erin. We both agreed we felt like it was written for us. It resonated. If you really want to know why we're breaking up (Don't make that face! Tuck your bottom lip back in and unwrinkle your forehead!!) you should read the article.  Here is the link.

So that's us. We're doing fine and accentuating the positive. It's a rare break-up in that it's sincerely amicable and mutual. We're just getting through the tough parts now and are devoted to making ourselves, and our beautiful sons happy. I'm inexpressibly grateful for those boys for so many reasons, not least of which is the fact that because of them, I'm guaranteed to always have a relationship with Erin. I still don't know what I'd do without her.

Neither of us is likely to talk too much about our split, but it's good to note (before the rumor mill starts turning) that there was no big "blow-out". No one is leaving the other. In fact, no one is even leaving town. We're both on the same page: Just a little heartbroken, but very hopeful.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Muscles, Meet Amanda

Recently I went to Healdsburg's Trivia night at The Wurst, having been invited to join the team of some friends. I try not to go to Trivia because, well, I'm not terribly good at things like "retaining information" or "knowing the answers to questions," but I decided that a night out with my fellow community members would be better than sitting alone in my apartment getting papercuts from the dirty Erica Jong novel I'm reading.

I like a Healdsburg night out. I always run into at least a half-dozen friendly faces, which is perfectly distracting. Unfortunately on this night, everyone I ran into had read my most recent blog post, and decided they wanted to hug me and tell me they were sorry to hear about my breakup. It was a little like being stabbed over and over and over.

Nevertheless I kept my chin up and powered my way through the night without a hitch, and managed to have a pretty decent time.

Turning down some offers to continue the night with karaoke or bar-hopping, I said my goodbyes and headed toward my car. About a block away I heard a "hey" and turned to see a muscle-bound, chiseled-chinned man jogging toward me. I'd met him earlier, he was a friend of a friend of a girlfriend of a friend, or something. I said "oh, hey," and then looked back to see how far he'd come, and wondered how it was possible that he didn't seem even a little bit winded. Then I looked at his muscles. So many muscles!

He said "hey, how's it goin'?"

"Oh, uh. Fine.  Things are fine. Thanks."

"Good. Good... So, listen. I was thinking. What if...okay, so wait, this can go one of two ways."

"It can? Wait. What?"

"Yeah. One of two things can happen here. You can either, you know, give me your phone number - that's the easiest option--"

"--uh wha--"

"--or I can just track you down. You know, ask your friends about you, find out how to get ahold of you, where you live, where you work, stalk you a little," he smiled and shrugged. "It'll get creepy."


"So it's up to you, really. And hey, I overheard that you and your boyfriend just broke up, so I don't wanna, you know..."

"Um, yeah."

"I thought maybe you could use a little self esteem boost, you know, otherwise I wouldn't have chased you down. I'd have just gone with option B."

"Wow." Self esteem boost? "I don't even...."

"Yeah. But you have to choose one. It's up to you. No pressure!"

At this point I realized I should probably let this guy in on a few things. I could see that he'd mistaken me for the type of lady he might want to date, and I needed to straighten out the facts.

"Oh, that's really...nice. But, listen, I don't usually shave my legs like this. Or wear skirts and cute tank tops. I just went to a girly thing right before this so I dressed up for that. Usually I wear jeans and old t-shirts. Oh! And my hair is not usually styled all...pretty like this. I just got it cut earlier and she put some stuff in it and then blew it dry using a fancy brush. It will literally never look like this again."

"Oh yeah? Well I've gotta say, this look suits you!" I'm not really sure if that was supposed to make me feel good, since I'd just explained that I almost never look that way.

"Yeah, also, you're all, you know..." I waved my arm in a circle to indicate his upper body, "you're all muscly and, I don't know, handsome, and guys like you don't date girls like me." Then I went on, "I mean, I date handsome guys, that's not what I mean. Just not..." I waved my hand around his muscles again. "You know."

"Why, thank you."

"Yeah and I have this new goal in life? It's um, to get kinda fat. I'm trying to get a little fat so that the next guy I date won't care that I'm fat, because I started out that way, and I won't  have to worry about whether or not to eat fried cheese all the time, because he's not dating me for my hot body. I mean, not that I have a hot body now, but at least I'll be sure that he likes me for me. It's because I'm lazy, mostly. And I love cheese."

"Well, ha, huh," this one made him pause."Well I was watching you a little in there, and you've got a really great personality. That's why I'm standing here." (Great Personality? I'm no fool. I know what that means).

"I mean, my boyfriend thought I looked fine. Don't get me wrong. We didn't break up because he thought I was getting fat or anything." (Or DID we?!) "Oh, and, yeah, and I also have two kids."

"Oh, you do?"

"Yeah. And they're young." I thought for sure this would be the clincher.

"Is that all? Only two? I usually date women with a lot more than that." *chuckle*

I could see that I wasn't going to get rid of him as easily as I'd thought. So I did the only thing I could think of: I put his number into my phone so that he would go away and I could go home where I could eat some cheese enchiladas in peace.

sometimes you just have to humor people

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Best Day

Every once in a while, Jonah and I get to hang out sans little sister. Usually we only get a few hours - I pick him up after work, we have dinner, then bed, then up and back to his dad's before I go to work the next day. But a week ago we got a whole day. And it was the Best Day Ever.

Jonah requested a bike ride, so I used my amazing Tetris skills to get my bike out of the storage closet it lives in, and away we went!

A few seconds in, I heard Jonah giggling a little behind me. Then sighing. Then he called "I'm so happy right now!" to which I replied, "me toooooo!"

We rode around downtown, zig zagging through the quieter streets, until Jonah saw a sign that caught his attention and shouted "Mom! There's a book sale!" I didn't register this at first because I was trying to veer around an asshole who'd pulled into my lane and appeared to be camping there for a while. "BOOK SAAAAALLLE!!!" Jonah shouted again, and this time he got my attention. We doubled back, parked our bikes, and went inside. I immediately began piling books into my arms while Jonah perused on the other side of the room. I've always been a sucker for a book sale, so I was relieved to only  have space for a few or eight in my bike basket. The added weight made me nervous because my bike has old crumbling tires that are ready to explode at any moment, but whatever. All those books would have made exploding tires completely worth it. I paid and then off we went - book-rich and hungry.

We had lunch outside in the glorious sun, watching pollen rain through the air and cover everything in sight. Jonah scooched his chair as close as possible to mine and kept rubbing my arm, saying *sigh* "I love you mom." He is the absolute sweetest kid, ever. I'm so glad I made him.

After lunch we played in Courthouse Square until Jonah asked if we could go to Treehorn Books, where they have Tin Tin comics he likes to check out sometimes. He also asked if Paulie and Finn were free to hang out with us, so they rode over and met us for some book browsing and then, of course, some Gelato.

We rounded out the day by forming a super cool bicycle gang and heading to Paulie's, where we played Settlers of Catan (which I amazingly lost! Jeez. First time ever), and Jonah was thrilled to squeeze in some Minecraft time, which he generally never gets from me. He was pretty pleased, to say the least.

Bedtime was a bummer,  because it meant our day was over, but the hugs and kisses and his request for me to sing Twinkle Twinkle may have been the most heartwarming thing, ever. How much longer will I get this unabashed adoration from him? I'm going to enjoy every minute.

It was a good day.

(Also, I can't figure out how to get my bike back into the storage closet).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

25 Things About Me (Amended)

Facebook just changed their 'timeline' again. I like the look of it and was scrolling through my own profile
page when I came across a note that said "25 Things About Me". I'd completely forgotten about the days when Facebook was just a social networking tool that helped you get to know people better. I'd been "tagged" by a friend to create the list and thought I'd give it a shot. I posted my list on February 6, 2009 at 1:28 a.m., an hour that I rarely see anymore, but when I do it's for very different reasons than it was just four years ago.

A lot has changed in four years. Erin was pregnant with Liam then, but as they say, women become parents when they get pregnant, men don't until the baby is born. On top of that, men like me regress back to their early twenties for that 9 month period, much to the chagrin of their pregnant wives. I was drinking way too much, going out too often, and acting like a complete idiot (I'm sorry Erin). That's changed, along with a host of other things. In fact, so much has changed since then that I thought I'd give that list a quick update, so here you go...

1. I prefer Guinness over wine. (Still true)

2. When I first achieved my current height of 6’8” I weighed 80 pounds less than I do now. (Now it's only 55 pounds less)

3. The two greatest moments of my life were my wedding day, and the night Michael Davis pulled me up on stage at Teatro Zinzanni to juggle a raw chicken, a loaf of wonder bread, and a wad of margarine. (No. The greatest moment of my life was delivering Finn in the front seat of my car)

4. My alcohol tolerance is epic. (Not as true as it was then)

5. I’m proficient at knitting. (I just finished a baby's hat last week)

6. I’d rather kiss Brad than Angelina. (I love full-lipped billy goats)

7. I believe that George Washington Carver was the greatest George Washington of all time. (He invented peanut butter so that's more true now than ever)

8. I hate, HATE, the word “milk” (True, but not when Liam says it. Then I LOVE it..."meh-oak")

9. I hold a degree in English Literature from a major university and my undisputed favorite novel of all time is Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Still true. Best book ever)

10. I’ve had to perform CPR on four different occasions and it’s never worked. (I've also used another one of my EMT skills to help bring a life into this world so that cancels out one of the four)

11. I have never been in a fight. (With an adult)

12. I’m 34 and I still haven’t outgrown my childlike, late-night, “boogey man” anxieties, and probably never will. This means that when my kids insist on sharing the bed with me because they’re scared, I’ll most likely be just as relieved as they are. (Not true, I'm 38 and I don't really have this issue so much. Now that I have kids my fears are real)

13. I was 22 when my wife and I got together (And 22 again when she got pregnant)

14. In 1993 I was one of only three incoming freshmen at UC Davis who had declared “fermentation sciences” (wine making) as a major. The only reason I chose it was because it was the least “impacted” and I’d heard declaring an unpopular major would improve my chances of gaining admission. I switched to English Literature after my first quarter. (That happened, but now I have a wine making degree, even if it is only an A.S.)

15. I believe that the deep dish spinach and mushroom pizza from Zachary’s on Solano Avenue in Berkeley is proof that God exists and wants us to be happy. (God yes)

16. All told there’s probably a good three to six months that I can’t account for. (More like eight)

17. My greatest ambition as a new father is to embarrass the shit out of my kids. (No. It's up there, but now my greatest ambition is for them to be happy *sniff*)

18. My freshman year in high school I was in a slightly advanced math class, which meant that I was in the same class as a bunch of Juniors and Seniors, and this one time I was holding back a massive fart and this other guy in my class who was also a Freshman chose that exact moment to punch me in the stomach. The fart was so loud that I actually, not exaggerating, blacked out from humiliation. (Whattayagonnado?)

19. I am most often likened to Jim Carrey and Michael Keaton (and recently an "Irish Antonio Banderas". I don't know what that means but I'll take it)

20. In college I was voted “Most Valuable Oarsman” for two years in a row. (toot toot)

21. My first concert was “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” (Relax..)

22. I recently purchased a video to teach myself how to breakdance and almost died as a result. (True! I'll never do that again. I want my boys to have a father)

23. I once crashed into a police car. (It was his fault I think)

24. I believe that anyone who chooses to consume a living creature should have to experience what it’s like to take that creature’s life . . . which is why I harvest my own grapes. (Ha! I'm so clever *eye roll*)

25. I cringe when babies are described as “beautiful”. (Fuck no! I love it. They ARE fucking beautiful)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Half a Boyfriend

So things have been kinda shitty lately, I've got to say. I thought it was just the alignment of the planets, but Nope! It's just my life! Weeeeeeee!

I had some unexpected car repairs to deal with. Business has been slow. Mike's being kind of a cranky bitch. Needy, too. The rent in my building is being raised. I had to shell out a shit-ton of money that I didn't have for something that wasn't my fault, so now the trip to Michigan I'd been planning for the kids and I is on the chopping block. The weather has been all "I'm gonna be cold and rainy! Now I'm gonna be hot as hell! Now I'm gonna be super windy! Now I'm gonna be all three in the same day so you can't leave home for a simple walk without sunglasses and a sweater, chapstick and an umbrella just in case, hahahaha!" The weather can be such a dick sometimes! Also, Paulie and I broke up. So, there's that.

No no, it’s okay...I know the blog has suffered in the year and a half that we’d been dating, so really, it’s for the best. Now I can commit myself to just writing about whatever it was I wrote about before I fell madly in love with a man who was perfect for me in almost every way. That gets super boring for you, amiright?! I'm just assuming you all feel this way, as a fan once told me "people don't want to hear about your perfect relationship all the time. And by 'people' I mean me."

"But WHY?!" you ask. To which I say: shut up and mind your own dang business! And then I remember, oh, I've been telling them my business for a couple of years now. I guess I can't stop now. Okay then: we just wanted different things. That's pretty much it. Neither of us did anything terrible - unless you count being so fucking incredible and awesome that no one will ever quite compare to the magic that was created. Because in that case, we're both guilty, heh heh. And we are both aware that we will now likely die miserable and alone wishing we'd never had the stupid idea to let the other go (or, I will - he will until he meets the perfect stripper). But hey, that's life! OPA!

The good news is, he has always given me free reign with my writing. Sure, I generally try to quote him close to verbatim, so there usually isn't any twisting or manipulation for the sake of the story necessary, but when we were dating I would at least filter on his behalf.

That's not happening anymore.

He's totally cool with it, don't worry. 

And wait! Look on the bright side: I finally didn't get dumped for another woman, via email, or over the phone! Does that mean I can knock one of those off of my relationship resumé and replace it with this? Yesssss!!

So, the problem is, we still really love each other as people and friends, and are trying to figure out how to not be a couple. It's surprisingly difficult. In the meantime, we're hanging out doing lame things like talking about our feelings and musing about how this stupid break up has affected us so far; then normal things like going out for burgers and gelato. 

So if you see us out and about, not making physical contact but staring into each other's tear-filled eyes while the bubbles in our champagne start to disappear and our plate of oysters gets warm, pay no mind. We'll be okay. We will. I'm pretty sure. At least, that's what he keeps telling me. We'll be just fine. I mean it.

And if not, well, I've always got my friends:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Frank Darabont's Secret Love Child

Hello Mr. Darabont!

Good news, as far as I know you have no secret love child. The title of this post was just a ruse to lead you here when you were bored one day and decided to Google yourself. Sorry, about that but DON'T CLOSE THIS PAGE JUST YET! Please hear me out.

As creator of the fantastic series 'The Walking Dead' I have to tell you I caught the season finale last night and it was fucking BRILLIANT! Everything you do is art. I mean it.....although (SPOILER ALERT!!!), Andrea's pedicure kind of killed my willful suspension of disbelief. But hey, roses and thorns, right?

What I'm really hoping to share with you by leading you to this blog is 'opportunity' with a capital 'O'.

I have, under my tutelage, a prodigy by the name of Finley Bairdsmith. This young genius just recently crested the child actor's milestone of one-and-a-half years old and I believe it's time to cash in. As I'm sure you've noticed there is a serious lack of certain demographics on your show. Obviously I don't mean with regard to ethnicity (high-five there by the way), I mean there aren't a lot of baby zombies. Below is an audition video that I think speaks volumes

I know. Your mind is blown out the back of your head with a shotgun. Not only is his vocal work solid, but did you catch that improv when his mother walked by in the background? Totally unscripted. You're welcome.

Feel free to contact me through this blog. I encourage you to do so quickly before that new Brad Pitt zombie movie comes out and the whole genre jumps the shark.

Talk to you soon,

Mike Bairdsmith

P.S. Shotgun Finn (apropos) has been a celebrity since, literally, the day of his birth, so don't worry. He can handle it.

P.P.S. Please kill Carl. Everyone hates him.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Tattooed Belly

Yesterday I was looking for pictures of my tattoo to accompany a story I'm writing about...well, my tattoo. The story isn't for this blog, or my other blog, but for a blog called Pen & Ink. I doubt they'll want it though, because I'm finding that the only people who want to read my stories are forty or so of those who willingly choose to have my words shoved into their faces every few days - YOU, dear readers!

Anyway. They asked for a picture of said tattoo, and in the story I talk about how the guy getting ready to scar me for life asked if I'd like to rethink the location, as I'd chosen my belly, and he wondered if perhaps I'd like to take my future as a pregnant woman into account. I scoffed at him, saying "I'm never going to have babies!" and, away he went. This is what I chose. It seemed like a good idea at the time:
Yep, it's a giant...fairy

As you all know, I did have babies! Ha! Silly, young, trusted-in-the-half-assed-rhythm-method me! But as these things turn out, it's awesome that I did, and I had a lot of fun being pregnant with my son. My belly grew the biggest in the spring and summer, and I refused to go in for all of the maternity clothes propaganda. That's bullshit! I thought. I can totally wear my normal clothes!

And so I did.

Sure I bought a stretchy skirt or two, but for the most part I walked around looking like I was wearing toddler clothing.

But before we get to that, this is the picture I chose for the tattoo story, just in case you never see it. A before and after. Well, a before and during, actually. For a the after you could revisit this old blog post, where the tattoo is hard to see but I can assure you, is completely perfect:

Hi, 19? Meet yourself at 26. Sorry about that. 
So as you can see, I wasn't shy about my belly. I wore it out everywhere, much to the horror of sweet little old grannies and short-shorted tweens everywhere. I think the latter was just offended that I was wearing the same size tank tops as them.

Pregnant girl with pig
One day my friend Josie and I went to the fair and took some funny photos. I won't share them all with you here. You're welcome.

I thought this picture was HiLARious!
Right after this one was taken, we went to the cake auction, where I accidentally bid on a cake shaped like a chicken. Like, 3D, not just a flat cake with a beak on it. And by 'accidentally' I mean I kept raising my hand to bid on it because I really, really wanted that cake. I didn't think I'd outbid everyone else, though. Needless to say, I did. Unfortunately I was the only one working at that time, and I knew we didn't have the TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS I'd just bid. I told the auctioneer I'd been waving away a fly, and let my dream cake go. I'm still very sad about it.

I didn't only whip out the belly during silly occasions. I busted it out for super fancy fundraiser garden parties, too:

RIP to my sweet friend Merede.
This made me miss her so much. xo
I also adorned it while meeting authors that I admired and had helped to shape my entire youth and life. When I got to the front of the autograph line, Tom Robbins was eating a muffin. He looked for a few seconds at my stomach and then said "nice belly," while spitting some crumbs in my direction. I'm still waiting to be featured in one of his books - I know he hasn't forgotten me.

I tried to pull my shirt down a little. But why?!
He loved the belly!
I also thought it was great to buy shirts that were not only too small, but said something on them to indicate that I had a good sense of humor about being pregnant:

I have another one that had a picture of a big fat Buddha on it and said "For Good Luck Rub the Belly." I was particularly fond of that shirt, and as my stomach grew larger I would simply cut the shirt shorter so I could keep wearing it. Maybe I should have also found a shirt that said "Classy."

So the whole point of this search was to show that the tattoo was not obliterated by my getting pregnant. It remains there.