Things Emmy Says, Part 6

As she was putting on her Easter dress: "The Easter Bunny is gonna see me and say, "Look at that fancy girl!""


Singing on the toilet: "Pooooop is coooooming. Poooooop is coooooooming."

Me: "Emmy, don't sing about your poop."

Emmy: "OK. Your pooooop is coming. Your pooooop is coooooming."

Me: "Em, don't sing about poop at all."

Emmy: "Peeeeee is cooooooming. Peeeeee is coooooooming."


When I grab her and hang her upside down over my back she likes to yell, "NOBODY WANTS TO BE NEAR YOUR BUTT!"


When watching coverage of the Royal Wedding Emmy saw when Kate Middleton drove by in the car and waved toward the camera. Zoe told her to wave back and she got really excited and waved to the TV. Then she said, "I didn't think people on the TV could wave to people not on the TV but they can!"


We were picking up sticks in the yard and I found a chunk of a ball that the dog must have chewed up. I threw it up onto the porch and a minute or so later Emmy walked up to Zoe holding it and said, "This came from the sky."


Em: "A long time ago I was a baby rat and I was in Mommy's stomach then I came out."

Me: "Um, yeah you were in Mommy's stomach, but you weren't a rat."

I didn't realize until days later that she was talking about several days before when we went to eat chinese and I told her she was a rat because she was born in the year of the rat.


She was eating a handful of Cheerios and it looked like she was trying to hide them. Zoe told her she knew she had them and it was fine so she said, "I know I was just covering my mouth so they didn't fall out on the floor, the couch, and all over you, and the chairs, and the cats, and the dogs."


Em: "I've never been to the ocean."

Zoe: "I have."

Em: "You have?! Did you ride a shark?!"

Fourth Anniversary

Today marks my 4th year of being married to my lovely wife, and my 9th year of being with her in general.

I've gotten comfortable in our relationship, but when I stop to think back on the kind of person I was when I met her I realize how much I owe her. If she hadn't taken a chance on me I would probably be a wreck of a human being living with my parents and crying myself to sleep every night.

I was immensely lucky that such a perfect woman went to the same high school as me and saw through all of my stupidity back then to even give me the time of day. She started everything good in my life, ushering forward a much more stable mental state, as well as convincing me that having a child was something I wanted.

I was young and immature and never really imagined having kids, but I knew that I wanted to spend my life with Zoe, and she didn't want to wait until we were pushing 30 to have kids so we got started right away. Now imagining my life without Emerson in it is almost impossible.

I've struggled with what I want to be in life for a long time. I stopped going to college because I had no idea what direction I wanted to take. If it wasn't for Zoe I would probably still have no idea that all I really want to be in life is a parent. Everything else is inconsequential. Jobs are ways to support my wife and kid, not a way of life. Zoe and Emmy are my life, and I'm the luckiest guy in the world that they came along and gave my life meaning.

I love you, Zoe! Happy Anniversary! Thanks for giving me everything.

Overboard on Easter

Emmy was born on February 1st, so Easter was the first kid-oriented holiday to come along. After you have your first child you tend to get a little bit excited when those sorts of things come around for the first time, so we went pretty overboard.

As a parent it's fun to try to make holidays as magical as possible for your child. We still try to stick to a budget, and we usually do fairly well. But even if we don't, I think it's worth it to see the excitement on her face.

Look, we're poor. We don't get many chances to spoil our kid. When we do, it's with pretty small and inexpensive things. Sometimes the little things add up and we find we went too far, but I don't really mind. We live with my in-laws and we have no way to afford any sort of costly gifts for Emmy. A majority of her clothes come from mom-2-mom sales (like a garage sale but on a grand scale and with all moms), and a lot of her toys have been purchased at yard sales, so it's not like we're spoiling her too much.

Sometimes I start to feel a little bit guilty that she'll probably always grow up somewhat poor. Sure, that's not whats important, but it's still a factor. A happy childhood is dependent on having good parents that encourage you to be glad you have whatever you do. If a kid has everything in the world they'll likely just want more. Still, I'd want to give my kid everything in the world if it didn't cause any negative effects and I had the means to do it. Right now, what we can afford is everything in the world to her, and that makes me smile. When she's older and understands that she can't have that expensive toy she wants because we can't afford it, it won't be as fun. But if I raise her right she'll still be happy with whatever it is she has.

A Shit List, for the Future

I don't often get days off of work. In fact, I usually never do unless I pay someone else to fill in for me. Every once in awhile though, my father-in-law has some time off of his own work and covers for me. Usually he has to really push it because I'd rather just do it myself, but that's besides the point. Today he had the day off and he told me he'd do one of my routes for me.

So, I relaxed a little bit instead of rushing to start work right away. I spent some more time in the morning with my wife and kid, and got a little bit of writing done. When I headed out to start up the route I was about and hour and a half later than I normally am. No big deal at all because I usually finish the route three hours before I have to be done -- time I use to go and do the second route which my father-in-law had covered.

Of course, people get accustomed to having things a certain way, and they don't really like change. Multiple people were standing around waiting for their papers as I pulled up, and I even fielded a call from someone I hadn't yet gotten to saying they didn't get a paper, most likely because they tried calling my employer first and were told they can't complain about not getting a paper until after 5 o'clock. But the real kicker was the guy that had the nerve to inform me I was late as I pulled up to hand him his paper.

I first responded in a friendly manner, informing him that my father-in-law was covering my second route so I didn't have to rush off right away today. He seemed annoyed by that, as if my entire life was only to deliver his paper. He told me that I was normally there at 2:30 (it was quarter to 4 at that time). I said yes, because I normally had to be so I could do my second route, but I wasn't late because it wasn't after 5. This didn't exactly satisfy him, but he grumbled and walked off.

You know, some people are so privileged that they seem to think the world plans itself around them. If the paper carrier is late, it must be because he's lazy. He should be delivering the paper at the exact same time every day, because surely he doesn't have a life outside of this one minuscule task which directly involves me!

I should start keeping a list of everyone that has shown behavior that proves they think like that. However long it is that I am stuck still delivering newspapers, I'll keep a file of their names and addresses. The day that I finally find a new job, I could then go and knock on every one of their doors and tell them exactly why they are awful people who can think of nobody but themselves.

Of course, I won't do that, but it'd be supremely satisfying if I did. I've said this before and I'll say this again: tip your paper carrier, mail carrier, pizza delivery boy, or whatever other person you have providing you with a service. You might not treat them like shit, but chances are there are a bunch of people that do.

Denied Again

Turns out I failed pretty hard at not getting my hopes up for that job. And of course it fell through, like they always do.

After weeks of waiting for a call back after my interview, I started to call them. Every day for over a week I'd just be told that someone would call back in a few hours and they never did. Finally I got through to one of the hiring managers who told me very matter-of-factly that they had decided that I wasn't right for the job.

I'm not entirely sure how you can't be right for filling boxes and loading them onto a truck. Obviously I'd screwed up the interview, though, it probably didn't help that the guy who interviewed me was a royal douchebag. If the woman who was actually scheduled me for the interview had been around when I showed up things might have turned out differently, but I guess I'll never know for sure.

This whole job hunt thing is getting frustrating. The hardest part is working up the motivation to try again after your hopes are crushed.

A Bygone Era

It's a little odd that my daughter's first obsession with a show was Thomas the Tank Engine. I've never ridden on a train in my entire life. Considering I see them tearing up old tracks constantly it's extra likely that she won't ever ride in a train as well, unless it is older-looking one for attractions and such.

They've been tearing up the tracks on one of my paper routes out in the country. Early this morning when I came through I stopped and grabbed one of the railroad spikes from the pile they'd left. I'm not entirely sure why, but I thought Emmy might like to see it. A souvenir I guess.

When she was talking about it with me she said she would never be able to ride on a train and I had to explain to her that trains still exist but she will likely ride on a very different kind of train. They won't use metal spikes pounded into huge blocks of wood, but all metal tracks.

Part of me wants to find the oldest train still running and get my family onto it before they break it up for scrap metal. It's not even nostalgia, just a weird sense of regret over the passing of an era in transportation. Things get old and lose their usefulness, man. It's kinda sad.

Um, uh, you know, like

Earlier when the power went out for three and a half hours, I used the time to edit a podcast I'd recorded with a friend more than a month ago and had been sitting on. Most of the time when I record a podcast it is only me. I sit down, talk about five different bands, and then stop. After I cut out the large gaps of silence where was thinking about what to say about the next song the entire thing is maybe five minutes. I do a little bit of editing to cut out any egregious moments of awkwardness or long pauses, but for the most part I just make sure it sounds good and start to edit in the music.

This time, though, it had been so long since we'd recorded and we were a good six minutes over the normal length of my podcast, so I decided to go through the entire thing and cut unnecessary stuff as I went. I've gotta tell you, I was not expecting to discover just how stinking much I say, "Um." It's a lot. Like, a lot a lot. If it isn't um there is also a healthy peppering of "Uh," "you know," and the occasional "like." It's pretty awful.

I knew I filled in gaps with those annoying words, but going through a half an hour's worth of my speech over the course of several hours just threw a magnifying glass on exactly why I do it. When I talk my mind wanders ahead of my mouth and I get side-tracked. The "Um" fills the gap between the time I realize my brain has gotten off course and when I get it back on the path. That's pretty clear because the other annoying habit I have that makes for more editing work is leaving significant gaps in between words.

If I'm going to be recording and editing more talk-centric episodes of my podcast I really should learn to stop trying to fill in these gaps. My first idea was shock collar based but I'm not sure if that would help keep my brain on the right track. I'd likely just be thinking about getting shocked the whole time.

Anxiety of Speech

From a young age I was conditioned to be wary of putting myself out there. I never had very high self-esteem and when I stuck my neck out there to say something or make a joke I was either cut down by my father or mocked by my brother.

In my mind everything is magnified a thousand times. When I jump out there and make a joke about something on TV, and it is met with people joking back that I'm being anal about something or that I am in someway wrong, I suddenly feel like I'm in line on a firing squad. I feel singled out and under attack, and I hate that feeling more than anything.

That's why I've learned to just not speak. I rarely mutter responses to people and generally just ignore others unless I'm one on one with someone and feel a bit safer. Most of the time just yelling goodbye as I head out the door, or goodnight as I head upstairs for bed seems like a huge hurdle that I just can't get over. So I don't try.

This practice causes friction some times, like from my mother-in-law who assumes it's something I only do to her. This morning I blew a reaction from my wife out of proportion and got really upset. It's always the worst for her because I feel the safest saying anything to her, so if she reacts at all like I'm being annoying I take it pretty hard.

I'm not entirely sure how to fix something like this, other than never talk. I guess I just need to stop taking things so personally, but that's easier said than done.

Names Aren't Logical

We're being raised in a time when people are trying their best to make their children's names as unique as possible. No one seems to want to name their kids something boring and common, I get that. But when someone has free reign to ignore all that has come before them, it gets a bit out of hand.

You could technically name your child a random stream of symbols and tell everyone it's pronounced Bob and that's perfectly legal. I think. The point is, no one has to pay attention to any logic in the way a name should be spelled in order to be pronounced the way they want it pronounced. This has led to plenty of people completely ignoring logic and question every name they come across.

Emerson is a name. Quite an old name. We didn't make it up. It might not be very common for a girl until more recently, but it's certainly a name and that is most definitely the way it should be spelled. Mostly, we call our daughter Emmy, but I couldn't even tell you how many times people misspelled that nickname or asked about how to spell it. For awhile my sister kept spelling it "Emi" and I had to hold myself back from telling her that was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen. Emi wouldn't be pronounced as Emmy, it would be pronounced like Eli.

That doesn't really matter though, because if we wanted to say her nickname was spelled Emi, we easily could. With a name, the only thing that matters is how the parent says it's spelled or pronounced, and that is borderline crazy talk. You need to add a second 'm' to Emerson when turning it into Emmy, or else it just wouldn't make any sense. Somehow this rule of grammar proves me right, I just can't get my head around explaining it right now:

Rule #4: “Doubling Final Consonants”

When adding an ending to a word that ends in a consonant, we double that consonant in many situations. First, we have to determine the number of syllables in the word.

Double the final consonant before adding an ending that begins with a vowel when the last syllable of the word is accented and that syllable ends in a single vowel followed by a single consonant.

- submit is accented on the last syllable and the final consonant is preceded by a vowel, so we double the t before adding, for instance, an -ing or -ed: submitting, submitted.
- flap contains only one syllable which means that it is always accented. Again, the last consonant is preceded by a vowel, so we double it before adding, for instance, an -ing or -ed: flapping, flapped. This rule does not apply to verbs that end with "x," "w," "v," and "y," consonants that cannot be doubled (such as "box" [boxing] and "snow" [snowing]).
- open contains two syllables and the last syllable is preceded by a single vowel, but the accent falls on the first syllable, not the last syllable, so we don't double the n before adding an ending: opening, opened.
- refer contains two syllables and the accent falls on the last syllable and a single vowel precedes the final consonant, so we will double the r before adding an ending, as in referring, referral. The same would apply to begin, as in beginner, beginning.
- relent contains two syllables, but the final consonant is preceded by another consonant, not a vowel, so we do not double the t before adding an ending: relented, relenting.
- deal looks like flap (above), but the syllable ends in a consonant preceded not by a single vowel, but by two vowels, so we do not double the final l as in dealer and dealing. The same would apply, then, to despair: despairing, despaired.

Thanks to Alex Martin, Jonathan Cole, and Jay Henningsen for the grammar help on this post.

The Night Fight: Rounds 2 & 3

So, I'm not entirely sure what to do at this point.

The night before last I had an awful time getting Emmy to sleep in her own bed. You might recall that this was one of her first nights with the stuffed owl we let her make to help her feel safe sleeping in her bed. Well, it didn't really work.

I spent an hour and a half trying and failing. First I tried to convince her to stay over there but despite several books being read, me lying in the bed with her, and promises being thrown around, she'd still immediately get out of her bed once it came to going to sleep.

I asked her all about why she wouldn't sleep in her own bed and she had all manner of excuses that hardly seemed to be the truth. She pointed to things in the closet and said she was scared of them so I pulled each of them out to show her what they were. Confronted with this knowledge she'd just move onto another one. I got the sense that she wasn't actually scared of any of these things as she seemed to just casually say that she was.

I decided it was time to be hard about it and refused to even let her get up on our bed, so she started lying on the floor. After awhile I got up, picked her up, and put her in her bed. She started crying and got back out. Remembering all of those nanny shows that solved this issue by just continuously putting the kid back in their bed until they gave up trying, I did just that. She was screaming bloody murder after six or seven times, so I just picked her up and held her in front of her bed until she calmed down.

Once she'd stopped crying completely I laid her back down in her bed. She got a little fussy about not wanting the blanket but then she rolled over and went to sleep. That victory lasted until five or so in the morning when she woke up and climbed into our bed. Zoe was sick and I was un-wakeable so she was still there when I woke up at eight.

Round 3 was barely a fight at all. Last night I'd all but given up the war and chose to get plenty of snuggles instead of losing sleep.

I guess I'll be re-entering the battlefield tonight. Wish me luck.

Scaredy Cat

I'm not exactly the bravest person in the world. There are very few rides that I can go on at the fair each year without getting more than a little freaked out and panicking a bit inside my head. Apparently I passed some of that onto Emerson.

This weekend we met up with all of Emmy's cousins of the same age at some place called Play World. It was basically just a big building filled with McDonald's playplace-like structures, inflatable bouncy houses, and other child-sized amusements.

Emmy mostly stayed in the area with those plastic houses you can buy your kid to put in the yard, and the Flintstones type cars. Every time she ventured toward something bigger an obstacle would scare her away. She'd follow one of her cousins until it came to climbing through a tube and then she'd back away. A couple times I coaxed her into climbing up onto the second level of one of the structures via the nets but every time she would panic and slowly climb back down the way she came, close to tears.

The first time she got onto the giant blow-up slide she climbed up to the top because of the other kids getting on behind her. She actually went down but I could see the fear on her face as she did. Every other time she was pulled onto the slide she only climbed about halfway up and then held up the line of kids as she made her way back down.

It's probably safe to say Emmy won't lead a very exciting life, but I've found that doesn't really matter. I've gotten by just fine without feeling left out by not taking risks like a lot of others. We might be a little boring, but I'm happy with that.

Bunny and Her Magic Powers

Our state tax return check came in the mail the other day and it was a glorious time of celebration. On top of using it to pay off all of our bills for this month, we had a little extra to use on something a bit more frivolous. Upon weighing the options, there was only one real choice.

As I've written about before, Emmy is having a little bit of trouble adjusting to the next step of growth: her own bed. She has yet to make it through an entire night in her bed, and hasn't once fallen asleep in it of her own free will (we usually just transfer her after she's conked out). She's told me she isn't big enough for her own bed and refuses to believe me when I say a lot of babies have sleep by themselves. She is convinced that there are monsters, or scarecrows, or that the wall is scary over there, and it doesn't matter even if I check for all of those things and curl up in the tiny bed next to her. Nothing has worked.

So, we told her we were going to take her to a special store. We drove over to the nearest Build-A-Bear Workshop and had her pick out her own animal. We recorded us saying, "I love you" with each of our special nicknames for her onto a sound button to put into the foot of the owl she'd picked out. If you're unfamiliar with the store, the next step is for the kid to help pump the stuffing into the animal. They pick out a heart and go through a series of spins, jumps, nose touches, and a final kiss before it goes into the back of their new friend and is sewn shut.

After we picked a name for her new owl -- which she decided should be Bunny -- and got her an outfit to wear, we left the mall and headed for home. On the drive back I told Emmy all about Bunny. I told her that when she spun in circles, touched her nose, jumped up and down, and then kissed Bunny's heart, she gave her magic powers. I told her how she could use those powers to make a shield around her bed to protect her at night. Then I told her that Bunny's magic was weak right now and she could only protect her in her bed, but if she gets a lot of practice protecting her in her bed that she could keep her safe other places as well. Incentive for the future, I guess.

I'm not sure how much it will help, but even if it doesn't it was worth a shot. I can't think of any better way to have spent our rare bit of extra money.

Calm, Peaceful Nights

It's easy for me to complain about my job -- and I've done it plenty of times -- but there are several things I love about it as well. I wrote about being trusted and left to do my job without being micromanaged already, which is something I love about it, but there's more. Particularly the weekend night-time deliveries.

Saturday and Sunday papers are both in the morning. The way my schedule works out there isn't very much magic in dragging myself out of bed on Saturday morning and going to work, but something else comes along later. I go to bed at about 5pm and wake up again at 11pm. While every other day of the week takes about four to five hours, a Sunday paper takes me at least seven, if not eight. Meaning the entirety of my night is spent out delivering.

This might sound like a negative, but it's become one of my favorite times of the week. Imagine setting aside eight straight hours of your day away from the computer or TV screen. No contact with other human beings, save for a stop at a depot to load the second route. It's calm, quiet, and amazingly enjoyable.

After I finish my first route I sometimes stop at the grocery store to get some food. Even there I see maybe one employee the entire time. I grab some of the prepared food or something out of the freezer aisle, warm it up with the microwave over in the cafe area, and pay for it in the self-checkout lane without ever taking my headphones out to make small talk with a cashier.

The entire night is just me, music, podcasts, and my thoughts. On winter nights the cold air sets adds to the ambiance; On summer nights it's a cool escape from the daytime heat. I'm willing to bet you haven't had a block of time to yourself that sizable and that quiet for a very long time. Some people might complain about having to work all night long, but I cherish that time. It would be one of the biggest things I'd miss if I ever got a new job. So much time to just relax and enjoy life without being distracted by the thought that you should be doing something else. It's magical.

Modding Aspirations

As if I needed anything else to occupy my time, I've decided I want to start making modded game gadgets. Now, I know what you're going to say. I constantly set goals for myself that I never follow-through on, but maybe if I actually write these aspirations out this time I'll make good on them.

I've thought a lot about a possible career path for my life, and one of the front runners has always been an electrician. I don't have a lot of electrical experience apart from a college prep class I took in high school, but I think I'd take to it pretty well. Making a hobby out of tinkering with that kind of thing would surely help me out when I started to take new classes to brush up on it before pursuing it as a career.

So, here are some projects I hope to get started on soon, provided I can find all the necessary parts and figure out a way to afford a soldering iron and dremel.

Portable NES with games on chip:

Awhile back I found this site, which details how they built a portable NES with 50 or so built-in games using one of those Mega Joy/Power Player/Play Joy/Whatever plug-and-play things you find at booths in the center of the mall during Christmas time. Mine would be a little bit different, given that the screen and plug-and-play unit she used are impossible to find now, plus I'd use one of my old GameBoys and take a dremel to a crappy game to fit in the cartridge slot and keep it plugged up without taking up real estate inside. But provided I can find a plug-and-play unit with sufficient games on it I think this would be a fun and easy enough project to tackle.

Portable SNES

This project will require a little bit more tweaking but I think it's fairly simple enough for me to figure out. This walkthrough is for building a handheld NES, but I might change it up and do an SNES instead so I can play some awesome RPGs from that era while taking poops. Of course, I don't own an SNES with which to hack apart, so I might just go at one of the multiple NESs I have so I've got a portable version to play all my cartridge games on. I'd also probably find a cooler case to cut up and craft to my needs then what that guy used.

Something with my PSP?

My PSP-1000 is pretty much boned at this point -- just freezing about 10 seconds after turning it on. There has to be something awesome I can make out of that. At the very least I could take that awesome screen and use it for another project, but there's gotta be some way I can turn it into an emulation machine. That may be a bit over my head at this point, but it's on the table.

MAME Cabinet

I've got a refurbished Captain America arcade cabinet wasting space in my parent's basement. I'd love put it to use as a MAME machine. The monitor works great already, so that and the cabinet are two huge expenses saved. I'd probably see if I could take my really old computer, wipe the hard-drive, get a slightly better video card and slightly more memory and storage, then see it I could hook it up. The person who adapted the cabinet to Captain America put in two joysticks but only four buttons, so I'd probably add more as well as a trackball. Then I'd make a slide out underneath the controls for the keyboard and mouse. This is, of course, the ultimate culmination of my fantasy modding hobby, but I think I could handle it.

So there you go, those are the goals and aspirations that I've created for myself after a couple of days of thinking. Feel free to hold my feet to the fire on this stuff, because I could probably use the help.

Expendable Incomes

In this struggling economy I really can't complain much about my job, because I actually have one. Still, there's something that I kind of miss having: an expendable income.

We get by. Sometimes it's a little tight, but we get our bills paid on time and have enough to buy birthday and Christmas gifts when the time comes. But there isn't anything left over afterwards and it's getting a little tiring.

I'm still wearing most of the clothes I had in high school that have started to get holes, and Zoe still wears all of her maternity clothes as well as my t-shirts. We don't spend any money on ourselves, really. To the point that $30 for a year of hosting for my podcast is way too much. Most people my age don't think twice about picking up at least a couple new $60 games each year, but I can't even fathom being able to do that. 60 bucks is a lot of money!

This is one of the biggest reasons I want a new job. It sure would be nice to be able to buy a small indulgence every once in awhile without making sure we had enough.

The Night Fight

Emmy has slept in between my wife and I since she was born. A habit that has been reinforced for three years is pretty hard to break.

Last night the kid and I went up to bed at about 11:30. We got in our bed and I read her a few books, then I told her she needed to go get in her bed. After some coaxing she gave in and I turned out the light. She immediately started crying and got out of her bed, but we agreed if I read her one more book she'd try again. I was expecting to read it in my bed but she went and got back in hers and I read it to her across the room. Then I turned off the light and we talked about animals for awhile until there were long pauses in the conversation and I fell asleep.

I awoke with her crying at the edge of the bed again. Half asleep I just pulled her up onto the bed, she snuggled up and we both dozed off. I woke again a little while later and moved her over to her bed but she awoke when I set her down, so, I awkwardly curled up in her bed with her for about 10 minutes until she was asleep again and then climbed out. That was at one in the morning.

That hour and a half struggle to get her to sleep in her own bed was successful until 5:30 when she woke up again. Zoe took her to the bathroom and let her get back in our bed instead of going through the fight again. It was a pretty good run I suppose. Four and a half hours on her own isn't  bad, but I get the feeling getting through the whole night is going to take awhile.

Bratty Behavior

Despite our best efforts to be the best parents we can be, I feel like Emerson has started to turn into a royal terror as of late. Most of the time she just completely ignores us we tell her to stop doing something or to come here or pick something up.

You know, I used to watch those nanny shows and scoff at how obvious solutions were. I'm beginning to think I'm actually an awful parent and my kid is going walk all over me. There's good evidence of that in the fact that my wife seems to believe that everything I do it too far.

When threatening to punish my Emmy she'll actually smile back at me. She doesn't give a shit and it's apparent, yet everything I do gets a response back from Zoe about it being too much. She complains to me in text messages all day about Emmy's horrid behavior but I try to escalate a punishment to make it end I am immediately undermined right in front of the kid.

I'm sick of parenting. Someone pay for one of those nannies for me because I can't handle it right now.

Growing up with Music, From the Parent's Perspective

This morning when Emmy came downstairs I pulled out the headphones on the World/Inferno Friendship Society I was listening to, scooped her up, and started dancing like a fool around the room. She thought it was fun for one song but then she wanted me to hurry up and take a shower so we could go shopping for her Easter dress.

While I was just sitting here trying to think of what to write about Emmy came up and asked to hear what was on my headphones. I was listening to Beach House, which is pretty much safe unless she really analyzes the depressing relationship lyrics, so I handed them over. She listened for at least 15 minutes before somebody left the room and she decided to go see what they were doing.

You know, I've always felt a little bit robbed of a childhood full of music. My dad has pretty good taste in music. I mean, kind of. He really likes The Beatles and The Who, but then he also enjoys, like, Foreigner and shit. Either way he never played any of it out loud in the house. Actually, probably the only time he listened to music was during the one mile drive to work and back each day. I guess he just didn't have as much of a connection with music as I did.

Life would be awful if it wasn't for music. When I'm in the dumps it helps pick me up. When I'm feeling nostalgic it helps me remember. When I need to stay awake, it gives me something to belt out at the top of my lungs. I've just been wondering lately, will Emmy share that same love of music?

I've been trying to make a conscious effort to play more music out loud for Emmy to grow up hearing. That might get a little bit easier once we have our own house and I have a working CD player and auxiliary cable hookup in my car. She seems to have taken an interest to my blatant attempts, so I guess I'll keep at it.

Just a Little Respect

Alright, I'll try to start off this blog without seeming in the least bit full of myself. If you've read any of my other posts then you'll know I'm hardly my own biggest fan, but I can say with absolute certainty that I when a job is put in front of me I work my ass off to do it the very best I can.

I take pride in the fact that I always complete my job no matter how many hurdles I have to overcome. I work 365 days a year right now delivering papers and when my father-in-law offers to cover my routes for me for a couple of days I'm still hesitant. I usually have to be forced because I'd rather do the job myself so that I know it's done. I can't divorce myself from it long enough to not worry about it even though he's more than capable of doing it.

When I arrived to find an entire subdivision being repaved, I parked my car and walked down to the very end of it for just one paper. When the biggest snowstorm in 40 years hit I was out there doing it thanks to my parents and their 4-wheel truck. Apartment parking lots were completely unplowed so I trudged through snow up to my knees to get inside for one or two papers.

Like I said, I'm a hard worker. It might not be in a job that those with college degrees would see as meaningful but I'm not too concerned with my lot in life, just that I can pay the bills. All I really ask for is a little respect from my employers. That's one of the reasons I really like doing papers: the manager at the depot where I pick up my second route has complete trust in me. He knows I do my job well and I'll get it done. It's his job to hang out in that depot and make sure everyone picks up their routes within a certain time, but if I'm running later than normal he sets my papers just outside the door. If he was concerned that I wasn't going to be there he'd want to call me and make sure, but he knows full well that I've finished my job every day for eight years and he trusts that I'll do it again.

I quit my first job at 16 because they hovered over my shoulder constantly to make sure I was always doing my job. I worked at an Arbys for awhile and they quickly learned that I was a good worker and if they left me alone I'd keep myself busy. They gave me the morning maintenance shift, I'd put on my headphones and spend the next several hours scrubbing floors, cleaning drains, unloading trucks, or whatever else needed to be done. They didn't have to bother me every five minutes, which I liked and I'm sure they liked as well.

I've never been one of those employees that asks about everything and is constantly unsure of how they should do their job. You know those types of people. I'm not sure if it's because they always want their boss to know what they're working on or if they just have no confidence in themselves to make their own decisions, but every tiny little thing they ask about. I don't do that, I just see what needs to be done and make what I feel is the right decision. If I'm unsure of the situation than I'll ask, sure, but people shouldn't ever be hired to be micromanaged like Lemmings.

So here's the rub of this whole thing: I hate not having that respect between an employer and employee, and when you start a new job it takes awhile to build that up. There was a harsh realization of that for me a couple weeks ago when I made what should have been a very small decision in my online work and was completely undermined by my superior. I hate that, because that is never an effective way to manage someone. If you hired me you should have some amount of respect for my ability to do the job without hovering over my shoulder, so just let me do it.

Of course, this is my big hurdle with the job hunt. Not having a college education means I'm applying for manual labor positions. The employers I'm interviewing with have likely found that a majority of their employees need to be micromanaged, so they treat me with little respect even in an interview situation. I've assumed it's probably best to just stay silent and let that respect build up over time should I get the job, but I'd really love to just tell them that acting like a dick to me won't go over well but if they trust me I'll work my ass off for them.

Well, if they do Google searches on their potential hires I guess they'll read it right here.

I'm Sick of People Being Sick of [...] Shit

I am sick of people being sick of my shit.
If you are not into the wacky hi-jinks then why the hell are you into this?
Information wants to be free
charged particles expand through space
then bleed through greedy fingers
and explode in your face
I can't wait.

Alright, so World/Inferno Friendship Society were singing about their own things, but I think the sentiment fits for what I'm going to be writing about. Here, enjoy the song while you're reading:

You know what? You're entitled to your own opinion, sure, but that does not mean you're expected to voice it. People seem to think that the Internet demands of them to voice their like or dislike for every goddamn thing that comes along, and I'm sick of it.

Every time anyone is having any fun with anything there will always be someone there to pop up and kill the joy by announcing their hatred for whatever is causing that joy. An Internet meme that everyone is having a good time making jokes about? Well, surely you're going to hear about how much it is bothering someone else. Look, I'm over that whole Rebecca Black thing too, but for awhile it was really funny to me, and whenever someone popped up saying something about wanting everyone to shutup about her it killed the amusement just a little bit. It's been a few weeks now and she's still around. Every once in awhile someone still makes a joke about her on Twitter and I roll my eyes. What's the difference? I DON'T FUCKING @ REPLY THE PERSON AND TELL THEM HOW OLD AND UNFUNNY THAT THING THEY ARE CURRENTLY ENJOYING IS! (No one did that to me, just saying.)

That hot new game that came out that everyone is talking about? The whole world desperately wants to hear about how you don't like it without any reasoning to back it up! Please! Tell us! We don't want you to take any actual time to formulate your thoughts into a well-reasoned dissenting opinion and write them out somewhere for us to read and get into a spirited debate in the comment field. Fuck that! We just want to read "Ugh, sick of hearing about ShinyNewCoolGame! It's a piece of shit!"

You might be wondering why I'm ranting about this today. Every single year the good-natured fun of April Fool's Day is inevitably soiled by a bunch of uppity jerks that feel like they need to inform everyone how much they dislike the day and how unfunny everything is. I'm not asking you to find it funny, I'm just saying you don't have to tell everyone that you don't. Let people have fun for christs sake! You aren't coming across as the one person too cool for the whole thing, you're coming across as the dick that needs to shove his opinion in the face of everyone's fun. Just calm down and mutter to yourself. (This isn't about anyone really, just something that always bothered me and a few tiny comments from people today reminded me of it.)

Parental Corner Cutting

Three is a magical age when it doesn't matter to a child where their new toy came from, or even if it's new.

This morning as I approached the end of my paper route, I came upon a motorized, kid-sized Gator (those oversized go-karts that people use to drive around fairgrounds and farms and stuff when they want to drive a go-kart but have to act like they're doing work). My curiosity was piqued, but when I saw the "Free" sign on it I was sold.

I set about trying to shove it in my trunk, mostly failed, tried my back seat, really failed, and went back to the trunk. After taking a screwdriver to the plastic windshield I'd jammed most of the front end in. I found a piece of twine I had in my car and used it to tie the hood of the trunk down, though I couldn't reach anything solid with the other end so I just tied it to my heavy post driver. Somehow this shoddy job last all the way to the next town over when I stopped to get some gas and realized I could use my tow strap to better tie everything down. Now confident I wouldn't lose it the rest of the way home I set out.

When I got back I took it out and set it in the yard where I knew Emmy could see it from the window, then went up to grab another hour or two of sleep while the wife and kid were still doing so. Emmy woke me up a little bit later and I told her I had a surprise for her. We went downstairs and I pointed it out to her from inside. From then on the day became about making sure it worked for her to give it a test drive later.

I went out and tore open the back end to make sure the motors were actually turning still. They were, but once the wheels touched the ground it wasn't really going very far. So I found the battery and set to work finding a way to recharge it without any of the plugs and accessories it would have come with brand new. After several hours of stripping an old fan cord and finding electrical connectors that could fit down into the plug, I'd fashioned a make-shift charging cord. I grabbed the car battery charger, set it to the lowest setting, and hooked it up.

After an hour of charging Emmy was ready to go outside and the battery was ready for testing. I shoved it back in and pressed the pedal: It took off. Emmy quickly got adjusted to driving it and was shifting into reverse and drive like a pro.

Some parents can go out and pay the likely 200 or so dollars that one of those things would cost, but I have to cut corners. When those parents set it in their yard with a "Free" sign because they lost the charging cable, I snatch it up and begin work. It still brought a smile to Emmy's face even if it was slightly used. Maybe when she's a teenager something like that won't fly, but for now we had a fun day with a new toy for absolutely no money. It's a win-win for me.

You're the Reason I'm not Religious

Back when that giant earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan, stupid people came out of the woodwork. An alarmingly large amount of them decided they were clever to relate the earthquake as some sort of karmic retribution for Pearl Harbor (as if those bombs weren't enough). I took one of these people to task on Facebook, as he had most uncleverly left his account completely open to any stranger that happened by.

Here was his argument: On the 70th day of 2011, an 8.9 earthquake hit Japan. The Bible has 1189 chapters and 66 books; this earthquake happened 1189 days after the 66th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

It's always been funny to me the ways in which religious people decide to try to convert non-believers, but this one really blew my mind. See, I'm not a staunch atheist. If anything I'd classify myself as agnostic, in that I'm not entirely sure what I believe. The only thing I know for sure is that I will never be a part of an organized religion, and these sorts of situations cement that fact for me daily.

Every time I drive past a group of Baptists screaming at people on a street corner, I wonder why they've decided that acting like crazy homeless people will be a good way to recruit people to their belief system. This is the exact same to me. Why on Earth would you want people to believe that God planned this earthquake as some sort of retribution to the people of Japan? That is not the kind of god I would want to believe in.

Years ago, back when I was struggling even more to find what exactly I chose to have faith in, my sister (someone who has clung to religion for awhile now to help her regain control of her life) brought over her friend to talk this out with me. It wasn't said so upfront, but more or less sprung upon me in the guise of her needing to "interview" someone. I quickly deduced that this "someone" was a person she hoped to convert. I didn't tell her to leave me alone, I just embraced the conversation and started asking questions.

I asked her what would happen to Buddhists, or Hindus. Would they go to hell just because they didn't practice Christianity? "Yes," she said, "because they haven't accepted Jesus." That struck me as a tad ridiculous so I reasoned that they were good people who have likely led honest and respectful lives. If they haven't committed egregious sins, did they still go to hell simply because they didn't believe in Jesus?

"Look," she began. "Ultimately it doesn't matter what kind of life they led, as long as they accept Jesus then their sins will be forgiven and they'll be allowed into Heaven."

So Hitler could have gone to Heaven? More or less the answer was yes. That was my out, and my overall answer to whether or not I should be religious. I told her that if there's a God, I choose to believe that he will judge our lives based on what we did and what type of person we were. If we were good people, then we can get into Heaven no matter what religion we were. I told her it didn't make sense for a god to condemn a group of people from an entirely different country just because they hadn't ever been confronted with "the right religion." I told her if that's how God chose to run things then God didn't make any sense to me and I didn't really want to believe in that type of God.

Christians, Baptists, Catholics, Whatevers: If you are trying to convert people, you're failing. That guy on Facebook tried to convert me numerous times during the course of our argument, despite the fact that he was trying to sell me on a God that would devastate a country just because of a grudge. If you say things like that, or if you believe that good people will end up in Hell just because of their specific religion, or if you yell at me from the street corner, then I'm not going to buy what you're selling. YOU'RE the reason I'm not religious. Stop it. Now!

Ice Storm

We've had some interesting weather on account of Michigan not being able to figure out what season it is. After a few days of a warm 60 degrees and sun, it plummeted back down to the 20s and started raining. For the most part I hate freezing rain and ice storms as they've become common here and are usually awful to drive in, but this one wasn't too bad. It did still bring with it the one thing I like about ice storms: all the beauty of ice-covered nature and objects. Something always struck me with that, so I thought I'd take a bunch of pictures this morning while feeding the horses. Now, I'm not a photographer, and I only used my phone's crappy 3.2 megapixel camera, but maybe you'll enjoy them as well.

The slippery walkway to the barn.

The ice-covered tree in front of the barn.

Out by the horses the rain apparently froze as it bounced off the ground.

The ice had weighed down the electric fence significantly. I had to yank the bottom rung up from the ground and put it back on the plastic holder, which snapped off as I tried.

The water running off the roof made an icy mess of this corner.

A close-up of the tree branches.

And the old truck.

Speed is Relative

Some time back when I was in middle school my family took a vacation up to a campground somewhere in the thumb part of Michigan. We set off in a convoy of rented RVs like some kind of awful Robin Williams movie off for an adventure of some kind. More than halfway through the trip we came behind a truck pulling a camper of it's own. As a car blew past both of us, my dad peeked around him preparing to pass when he stopped and settled back into his spot behind. "I was going to pass him, but I just realized he's going five over the speed limit already. I'm happy with that." my dad said to me.

When we come up behind that hulking camper, semi-truck, or other large vehicle on the highway, we're inclined to believe that we're going sooooooo slooooooooow, when in reality we're probably travelling the speed limit. It's just easy to perceive things as going much slower or faster depending on the situation we're in.

This has been thoroughly cemented in my mind because I now deal with it every single day. I'm firmly of the belief that just like a large camper in front of you on the highway will make you think you're going very slow, a 20-something delivering mail or newspapers in your rich neighborhood will make you think they are SPEED DEMONS OMG SLOOOW DOOOWN! That was a long sentence. Oh well.

As a newspaper carrier I've heard this constantly. Funnily enough, only when I drive through one of those little subdivisions with the culdesac at the end. People live on those for the very reason that they can let their children run wild without respecting the road or the cars on it at all. On more than a few occasions I have been stuck barely crawling behind a group of kids walking down the middle of the street without ever noticing me behind them. They don't teach their children to be wary of the road, and then they get pissed off at you for even entering their neighborhood.

The first time they yelled at me to slow down as I passed I was befuddled. I looked down and confirmed that I was going just over 20 mph. Well, I guess that's why they never wave back to me. So I specifically kept my speed to exactly 20 mph from then on, so that if they said anything again I could throw it back in their face. I'd turn in behind one of their neighbors in a big SUV and they would be completely down the street before I even made it halfway, but I kept to 20.

A little while ago as I went to pass the group of snobby broads one of their husbands stepped out into the road and held up his hand. I rolled down my window and he asked me to slow down. I let it all loose. I was going 20 mph and was making sure of it. One of the bitches let out, "The speed limit is 15 through here." from the back. "Alright," I said, "You wanna tell me your neighbors are going 15 when I'm making sure to go 20 and they fly ahead? I stick at 20-25 until I see a child and then I crawl past them, watching to make sure they don't run out."

The husband seemed satisfied. Actually, he seemed upset he'd even been forced into this confrontation in the first place. He was literally backing away with his hands up saying that all sounded fine and he just wanted to make sure. The gabbing bitches behind him seemed completely unconvinced, but unless I get rich, buy an SUV, and move into the neighborhood I think they always will. If I ever come across a large sum of money, the first thing I'm going to do is build a highway through the middle of their neighborhood. Maybe then they'll stop judging people and teach their kids to be careful of the roads.

Developing That Thick Skin

I've never taken well to criticism, and when writing online that's kind of a big issue. The real issue is that I blow things out of proportion and perceive them as an insult when they likely weren't meant that way. This unhelpful character trait would have likely helped to cripple my advancement into adulthood, were it not for Zoe coming along and helping to talk some sense into me.

It really helped having someone I trusted and loved around that could convince me that my perception of the world around me was much worse than what was actually happening. I needed to stop being so offended by things and flying off the handle in response, because it was only hurting myself. Prior to her I'd always sort of known I needed to stop taking things so harshly, I just couldn't bring myself to change. It was much easier to fall into the trap of believing that everyone else in the world hated me.

Though, that little issue likes to pop it's ugly head up from time to time and if I'm not careful I buy into it for long enough that I go off on someone and start a feud. Here's the thing I've noticed about the Internet. For someone like me, it's even easier to misconstrue something as a personal attack even if that's not at all what it was. When my wife and I text each other we have a code for when someone gets mad at something that wasn't meant to be mean. If she asks if tonight is alright for us to go visit my parents, and I respond with, "Fine" because I don't have anything else to say about it, but she reads that as, "Ugh, that doesn't work at all but fiiiiine, whatever!" and texts back that I don't need to be snotty, well, I just respond with MTMT. Misreading Text Message Tone. "MTMT. I actually am fine with that."

That sort of thing is common when text is your only means of communication, and it has led to more than a few situations online that I am now embarrassed by. I've come to realize I am never in the "right" when it comes to arguing online. It is impossible to know every detail about the situation, and I have likely assumed the worst about the person with whom I'm arguing.

Besides, there are two major hurdles to having a writing career in the online world. The first is actually being able to write, and the second is respecting and being friendly to people. You never win an Internet argument. Even if your assumptions of the person were correct, you were the asshole for bringing them up when you don't truly know for sure. And you might be able to make something of yourself if your self esteem is high enough that you can really sell your writing to people, but eventually acting like you're better than other people or flying off the handle and attacking others that you don't even really know will come back to bite you in the ass one day.

Job Interview: Round 2

Tonight I will be returning to the Meijer warehouse where I was supposed to be interviewed last week an attempt once again to actually be interviewed. Hopefully the person who scheduled my interview will actually be there this time to interview me. And if so, I will try my best to make a good impression.

Look, it's not that I'm being pessimistic when I don't expect much from these types of things, I just don't like to get my hopes up. In the last few years while searching for a better job -- one that might actually allow us to get our own house -- I've been disappointed frequently. I've had several job prospects that seemed to be sure-fire, and as soon as I let myself believe that everything was going to work out and our lives were going to improve, it blew up in my face.

So, I take good news with a grain of salt nowadays. Zoe thinks I'm being negative and I need to have a positive attitude. It's not that I'm going into the job interview all mopey and depressed and telling them I don't expect them to hire me, I'm just giving my emotional state a parachute in case I fall on the climb to success.

I do things like this a lot and I've learned that it does pretty well for me. I disassociate with things that might cause me to plummet emotionally, because it's too hard for me to climb back up from that pit of depression. When I have a big fight with someone, I distance myself from them and never again invest myself in them emotionally. Should they say or do something hurtful again, it's cool because I was expecting it and wasn't attached to them anymore anyway.

When I allow myself to get too attached to a relationship or idea and it blows up in my face, I'm a useless lump of flesh for weeks afterwards. I don't want to do anything productive, I just want to lay around, play video games, and snuggle with my kid. When the last "sure thing" jobs fell through, I fell into a pit of not wanting to do anything related to job hunting for a long time. In not letting myself get my hopes up I'm trying to prevent that from happening again.

Unfortunately my wife doesn't really understand that I'm well aware this strategy works for me and will not adversely effect the interview, so she's been running around acting excited about it and buying me new dress shirts and ties to use on the interview. It's been pretty hard to not expect much when she's so excited for it, so if it blows up in our face I will likely not spring back very well. Now I want it, for her. I don't want her to be disappointed. I tried my best to keep my emotional investment in this potential job as far back as possible, but my emotional investment in my wife did a sneak attack.

So, if I seem particularly grumpy and annoyed with things in the next few days, you'll know I didn't get the job and I failed to keep myself from getting too invested in it. I apologize in advance.

Deer are Morons

I don't get deer. I mean, I know they have a much smaller brain than we do, but it seems like they should be able to figure out that a car will kill them. Imagine a gazelle hidden behind some brush when suddenly a lion comes running past. Would that gazelle decide to make a mad dash right in front of the path of that lion, or would they wait for it to pass, or run another way? They would obviously do the latter, because the lion is a predator and they have enough mental capability to understand that it would kill them.

So why don't deer have that same mental capability?

On Saturday morning I was coming up over a hill on a dirt back road. Just as I reached the crest of the hill, two deer came dashing across the road. I hit my brakes, attempting to not slam them down and send myself careening off the road, but still slow enough so I wouldn't hit the deer that decided to run right in front of me. It was within inches, and luckily the second deer took a leisurely path behind my car. Both of them made it across the road, and I began fish-tailing on the loose dirt. I tried twice to steer out of it but it only got worse, so I hit my brakes and let myself spin out, knowing I wasn't going fast enough to roll or anything bad like that.

Surely they must be able to understand that the giant metal beast barreling down the road could crush them if they ran in front. I know they understand this, because when they make a last-minute attempt to get across the road right in front of your car, their ears are back and they are hauling ass as fast as they can with a look of fear in their face. So why can't they get it through their stupid deer heads that they could just wait one more second for me to pass before attempting their cross?

I have a huge amount of respect for opossums. I did a report on them in high school and developed a bit of a fascination. Did you know that opossums lived with the dinosaurs 70 million years ago and have changed very little since then? They have forked penises and a two-channel vagina so it's impossible for them to breed with any other species. How have they survived this long? They've ADAPTED to new surroundings. You might think they're dirty scavengers but what else should they do when we've built up cities all around their homes? They're survivors and they're gonna survive no matter what happens.

Deer? I give them another 200 years, tops. Morons.

Things Emmy Says Part 5

The weather is warmer and some of the snow is melted, and as we were driving down the road she started yelling, "SNOW! GRASS! GRASS! SNOW! SNOW! GRASS! SNOW!"

When I was sitting down at the laptop she picked up a toy whale and stuck it just over the top of the screen and started saying in a low voice, "Giiiiive me baaack my compuuuuuteeeeer."

Just when I was thinking my car sounded kind of loud I started it up with her inside and heard, "Daddy! There's an airplane somewhere!"

For some reason she started singing the the ABC's but added "eep" to the end of everything. "Ayyeep, Beep, C-eep, Deep, E-eep, F-eep," all the way to "Now-eep I-eep knoweep my-eep ABC's-eep. Nexteep time-eep won't-eep you-eep sing-eep with-eep meeeeee-eep."

As I was arriving home from a job interview, feeling stupid for being in a dress shirt and tie, I walked into the house and was told by my niece that she "liked my costume" and by Emmy that "I was wearing a bow."

Me: Did you see anyone on your walk?
Em: Uh huh, there was a man that was walking.
Me: Oh, did he say hi?
Em: No.
Me: So you don't know his name?
Em: No. Do you know his name?
Me: No. Maybe, but I don't know what he looks like.
Em: Um, he has a circle face. His face is like a circle.
Me: Oh good, that narrows it down.
Em: Owa and Brea (Her imaginary friends) have a circle face too.
Me: Oh, do they?
Em: Um, actually, Brea has a triangle face.

American Owned: Stupid People in my Home Town

There is a restaurant in my town with the words "American Owned" on the signboard out front. This, of course, could only mean "White Owned" because you'd have to be an American citizen in order to own a business in the country. It is an obvious response to the fact that there are two Indian families that have each bought a couple of failing gas stations or party stores in town, and the racists think this is some sort of hostile takeover.

The owner of that restaurant is the girlfriend of a well-known racist. His brother owns a towing business on nearby highway and got in some hot water when he showed up to tow a woman and refused when he saw she was black. She was a judge. It did not end well for him. Still, his towing business is around, and he is likely a stupid racist. Just like his mom that co-owns the disgusting strip club next to it, and his brother that has seized control of that stupid signboard of that restaurant.

I've heard so many comments about the Indian people taking over the town. They bought businesses from people who couldn't afford to keep them running, so I don't really understand why they're demonized. Oh yeah, racism. You know, I love my town sometimes. This is not one of those times.

Resisting the Douchebaggery of Parenthood

"Little Timmy just took his first steps!"

"Oooooh, that's so wonderful! He's gonna get in all sorts of trouble now! Better keep an eye out! How old is he now? 15 months? Oh good. Billy took his first steps at 10 months."

This sort of thing is exactly the kind of person I do not want to become now that I'm a parent. It's pretty easy to not say stupid things like that out loud, but thinking them is a different story.

I guess it's not inherently snobbish to compare your child's development to other kids close to them in age, but I still feel a little guilty when I do it. I guess as parents we're just always looking for some kind of point of reference we can use to make sure our kids are growing and learning properly. It sure would suck to have to go to school for the first time and discover they know significantly less than all of their classmates, because at that point you've gotta play catch up.

I've been trying my best for three years now to teach Emmy an assortment of things. Last night I explained the concept of opposites to her, which is actually pretty hard to do if you really think about it. Go ahead, try to think of an explanation of what "opposite" means without actually using the word opposite. Hard, aye? But after a little bit she'd gotten a good idea of it.

Now, the next time I see one of the kids my sister babysits for, or one of Emmy's cousins, I'm not going to start grilling them on opposites, but if the topic comes up I will certainly be listening closely. It's some form of validation that I'm doing a good job as a parent. I really want to give her a jump start on learning so that she'll have an easier time in school, because I'm not sure what areas she'll take to quickly and which she won't. I often had a difficult time learning certain subjects at the pace with which they were taught in school, and I'd love for her to fall behind like I did.

Of course, I still feel like a douchebag for comparing her to the other children she meets. I just like knowing that I'm doing a good job at this whole parenting thing, because it certainly took some getting used to.

The Job Hunt: Disappointment Manifested

I'm not good at searching for jobs. It's too easy for me to get discouraged and stop being productive about it. Searching for openings and filling out applications and calling in to check up on them and going in for interviews, only to never hear back from them really turns me off from the whole process.

I've had several "sure-fire" connections to a new job that eventually fell through anyway. I spent a good amount of money and time jumping through all the necessary hoops needed to drive school buses only to have them tell me I had to come in to take a test at a time that I couldn't do. No negotiations, it could only be that time. So they hired someone else and I was out all that time and money.

As I've said before, my only sell-able trait is the fact that I work really hard once I'm in the job. Getting the job, well, that's a different story. I'm too easily put off by the tiresome and frustrating process. Yet, somehow I have an interview this Friday. Strangely, Zoe had only started filling out an application for me there, so either they liked that portion of the application enough to find it in their system and call me, or her cousin that works there gave me a good word.

My in-laws and wife are excited at the very chance of an interview, but I know better. There's no point in getting my hopes up here. If it happens, great, but until it happens I'll expect to be shot down. That's what I've come to know of the job hunting field. Disappointment.

Things Emmy Says, Part 4

She walked up to me with her motorized Thomas train and said it wasn't working well. I looked and there was hair or a string or something wrapped around the wheel, so I told her I'd warned her about using it on the carpet and I wasn't going to fix it right now. She came back awhile later and told me she had fixed it. She had taped over all of the wheels.

"Now the hair has tape over it! It's fixed!"

She wanted cocoa and Zoe told her she didn't know because her cousins were going to be over soon.

Emmy: "Well hurry, we're wasting time!"

That JG Wentworth commercial came on where people yell "It's my money and I need it now!" about a billion times. Emmy watched it quietly, and after it was over turned to me and said, "It's their money and they want it now." very matter-of-factly.

Zoe and Emmy were getting ready to go to Cosco and she handed her a purple shirt with frog heads all over it.

Emmy: "If I wear my frog shirt, all the people at Cosco will know how very funny I am!"

She has interpreted sounding things out as merely saying the first letter a few times before saying the word. She'll say D-D-Daddy, E-E-Emmy, and more whenever she feels like "sounding things out."

Our cat, Jack, was sitting between a set of plastic bins and the bathroom counter and Em walked in and said "Jack's a g-g-genius!"

Zoe asked her if she wanted to watch Up, she said, "No, I think we should watch Pawn Stars."

Funny Names
Emmy calls things by weird names occasionally. Here are some of them.

She calls her trampoline her jumpolene despite frequent corrections. She's quite aware that it is supposed to be called a trampoline, she just doesn't seem to like that name much.

She calls two of the cats her "Lovey Doveys" and the other two cats her "Boops." I have no idea where she came up with those.

Nope, March Sucks Too

Well, I was hoping things would start getting better now that February was over. I should have known better to believe a month had magical powers over my life. Things just like to go wrong no matter what month it is.

Before I even got to fixing the shocks that I need to replace, the wheel cylinder busted on my rear passenger tire. This is the second time that has happened to me. The wheel cylinder is the thing that takes the brake fluid and uses it to press the brakes out and into the drum, causing you to stop. When it breaks, you suddenly lose all pressure in your brakes because the brake fluid drains out. Meaning your brake pedal goes down to the floor and you can no longer stop effectively.

Luckily, both of the times this has happened to me I was on a back road with no other cars around. This time I was going down an icy hill, and was promptly spun around 180 degrees before I came to a stop. Unable to effectively stop was an obvious hindrance to finishing my paper route, so I called my mother to see if she could drive over to help me finish and get the car home.

Upon getting in the car to start slowly heading home, I found that it didn't want to move. I'd used the parking brake to see if that was feasible for stopping, and despite the fact that the pedal was un-pressed, the brakes were still engaged. This meant getting at the release wire directly to try to get them to come off. We finally got it and began the sloooooow drive home.

Now I have brakes and a wheel cylinder to change tomorrow morning, on top of the shocks that need to be changed before they wear my tires down to the rim. Unfortunately, March isn't looking good for my wallet either.

Making it Through February

I used to laugh when people said things about certain months being particularly unlucky, but February has come to be a time of great stress in my life. Now sure, three years ago I was lucky enough to see my first child born on the first of February, but that may have come to haunt me later.

After barely making it through Christmas each year, we have to turn around and get ready for a birthday party in just one month's time. This has been made all the more difficult by the fact that we purchased a piece of shit car that has had a transmission fail the last two years in a row; in February.

This year the money has been so tight that we've come down to below $50 left in our bank account each and every week of that accursed month just trying to keep up on the bills. The very last week of the month we finally had a couple hundred dollars left over that we might have been able to use to pay back some of the money we've had to borrow. Of course, I suddenly learned I'd need to spend that on control arms to once again fix my car.

It is now the first day of March, and we're entering the new month with sizable debts to family members who graciously helped us to get through. I'm crossing my fingers that this month goes MUCH better for us, but on the last day of the devil month I found out I'd need to replace the shocks and possibly struts on my car as well if I didn't want my tires worn to nothing.

February just won't let us go. March is going to have to be one hell of a great month in order to make up for all the shit we've got coming into it.

Interview with Emmy #2

I've gotta catch up on my One A Day posts, so I put it to Twitter to ask Emmy some more questions. This time I recorded her responses. Commence with your "Aaaaawwwww"s and such.

Cops Can Be Real Dicks When They Wanna Be

See, I mostly have a very prominent dislike for cops. Not because I'm a criminal, but because it seems like it is a cops job to treat you like a criminal at all times. To me, the sight of a cop should make me (someone who doesn't ever commit crimes) feel safe. How did you feel the last time you saw a cop? Chances are you got a little nervous and started thinking about exactly how you were driving. That is always the way I feel when I see a cop. Did I stay at that stop sign for long enough or was that a "rolling stop?" Am I staying completely in my lane or drifting a little bit out of it? Does that make me look drunk?

Let me be clear, I have never once been drunk in my entire life. This thought process is completely irrational, but with the way cops analyze you for any slight mistakes, it breeds paranoia. I should never have to be paranoid about a cop pulling me over because I don't commit crimes, but they will find something you did wrong. One of the lights above your license plate is out, better check if you're drunk. Why else would you be out driving in the middle of the night? Well, the license plate light seems to be working fine once we got home, so I guess that was just a load of bullshit.

Delivering newspapers has put me up against cops on plenty of occasions. The thing is, it's actually made me kind of like them. I usually pass them when I am driving down the shoulder of the road, the wrong way. Or I'm doing a u-turn right in front of where they are parked so that I can deliver a paper out my window and then continue down the road in the wrong lane. One time when I did that last thing right in front of a cop, he pulled out and drove up next to me at the next box. I rolled down my window and he asked if I was delivering something. I said yes and held up one of the papers, and he replied "Oh, that's fine then. Just making sure." and drove off.

The other day when I slid off the road a bit in front of someone's mailbox and a man in a truck stopped to help pull me back up, a cop who was driving past stopped. He asked how I'd gotten there and I told him I was delivering papers. He took my license, then stopped traffic while we worked on pulling me back onto the road. Afterwards, he told me he was giving me a verbal warning because I needed to rotate my tires and I was improperly using the lane by being on the wrong side of the road. I was a bit confused. I said, "Even with the paper delivering?" He said yes. So, that means that all the cops I've passed while driving down the wrong side of the road could have pulled me over and given me a ticket, they just aren't dicks and they understand I'm just trying to do my job. That cop that drove up next to me and asked if I was delivering just wanted to make sure before he gave me a free pass to bend the rules.

So, really, it's entirely in their hands whether they want to be a dick about it or not. Back when I delivered papers in town, I would drop papers off at stores and in the big metal paper machines around town. This meant I usually double parked in front of the stores when there weren't any available parking spots, because I was only going to be there a minute at the most. Of course, one day a cop pulled up within the minute it took me to reload the box in front of a local coffee house.

I explained to him that I was just filling the paper box, but he didn't really care. "It doesn't matter if you're delivering anything, you need to park in an actual spot." Of course, this was complete bullshit, because several times a week I would have to maneuver around the beer trucks that were double parked in front of the bars downtown for at least a half an hour at a time. I mentioned this to the cop, and he informed me that they delivered to the back of the bars. Funny, every time I've seen them it has been in the street, so I guess he's just never come across that despite the fact they're sitting there for much longer than I ever do. Or maybe it's just that he decided he wanted to be a dick to me right then, and he valued the beer trucks more than the newspaper. His choice I guess.

In a small town the police force is usually full of the dumb jocks from high school that couldn't achieve anything better in their life. Of course, in a big city you come across more serious issues like racial profiling and bribing. Cops should make you feel safe, but when it seems to be completely up to their mood that particular day whether or not you get a ticket -- or worse -- well, it's hard to feel safe, and not just paranoid.

Point Proven

It's no secret I don't have a ton of confidence in my ability to actually achieve things by myself, but I'm usually determined enough to successfully finish anything that I happen to start.

This weekend I set forth to tackle my first car repair (besides brakes) entirely on my own, because I didn't want to bother anyone else with my incessant need for fixing cars. Also partly to prove to some people that I'm perfectly capable as they'd been doubting it. Suddenly, my confidence in repairing a car on my own has skyrocketed.

In the last nine years that I've been delivering papers I've employed the help of my father-in-law quite a bit to save money when things on my car break. Mostly I've just watched and helped him when he needed it, which has given me some amount of knowledge but not really made me fluent. This time I wanted to set out to replace the control arms by myself, to prove that I could and to not waste his time.

The first one took me the whole day, though, I was quite lackadaisical about it. I was nervous to go about each of the steps right away and much more cautious about it since I didn't really know what I was doing. I also made a few mistakes that took awhile to correct. But by the time I had to hit the sack Saturday afternoon so that I could wake up at midnight for papers, I'd finished one side of the car by myself.

That was the confidence boost I needed, and I also knew what I was doing at that point. I started back up after papers on Sunday with renewed vigor. My father came out to the garage to say he was going to pick something up at the store and get breakfast at McDonalds. Before he even got back I'd gotten the old control arm off. I came inside to eat some breakfast and he asked how it was going. He looked amazed when I told him I'd already gotten the old one off. It's not often my father is impressed with something I do.

I headed back out and in another half an hour I'd put the new one in place. I tightened everything up properly and set to cleaning up all the tools. My mother popped her head out to see if I needed anything and was shocked that I'd already finished. Soon my father as well came out to marvel at my handiwork.

Look, I know this sounds like I'm gloating, but I'd grown tired of my father's way of talking down to my abilities. When my car needed it's transmission replaced, and he called upon my future brother-in-law to help fix my wife's car for us, he'd taken to frequently talking up how great he was at fixing cars. Honestly, it got pretty annoying. Yeah, yeah, Sean is brilliant and wonderful and I'm so lucky to have him helping me.

Well, maybe now my dad will think of me a little bit differently. I'm not completely inept, I just don't have the time to try to do it completely by myself when someone else can help me do it faster. It may seem weird to be so proud of successfully achieving that little goal I set for myself, but it feels pretty good anyway, so I'll just pat myself on the back a little bit and allow myself the good feelings for once. Much better than not having confidence in my own abilities.