Hold On Daddy's Coming!

Stories, rants and reflections by a clueless father of three

Archive for the tag “humor”

It’s Official: I’m Becoming a Grumpy Old Man

When I was about 10 years old, I went to an Atlanta Braves baseball game with my late grandfather, Ray Howland.  And while I don’t remember a thing about the actual game, I do remember a group of guys about two sections over trying desperately to get a “wave” going  (you know, the kind where everyone stands up and shouts when it comes your way…). Naturally, this was far more worthy of my attention than the game.  And to their credit, these guys eventually got a wave going all the way around the stadium.  A resounding win for the drunks in Section 314. 

Because I watched this wave develop, I felt unusually invested.  I was especially proud to stand up and shout each time it went by.  But my grandfather just sat there unfazed.  “Why aren’t you standing up?”  I asked with an accusatory tone.  His response, uttered on a day which will forever live in infamy, was as follows:  “I hate the wave. It’s obnoxious.”

If you’re wondering how I took this, well, here’s a clue: he might as well have told Tinkerbell he didn’t believe in fairies.  I mean seriously, who doesnt love the wave? 

Well, this whole interaction became even more impactful to me about four years ago at a baseball game I went to with my own father.  Wouldn’t you know it, another wave got started.  And wouldn’t you know it, my dad echoed the very sentiments of his father before him:  the wave is “distracting” to those “actually watching the game.”  I couldn’t believe it.  Et tu? 

Whatever my grandfather had, my dad now had as well.  And I knew it was only a matter of time before I got it as well.  Or, as a famous king once declared: “Simba, you must take your place in the Circle of Life.”

 Well, this weekend marked my 10 year high school reunion.  The event itself was incredible.  Indeed, I went to an awesome high school and graduated with a group of people that I hope to stay in touch with for the rest of my life.  Mandatory “Go Warhawks!”    

But the occasion provided me with an opportunity to contrast “High School Me” with “Current Me”.  And upon reflection, I feel I am heading in the direction of my forefathers a bit faster than I originally hoped.  Which is why I now present to you several observations about how I’ve changed since high school, and why I fear my love for the “wave” may expire in the coming years.  Here goes nothing.  

— I drink diet soda now – something I promised myself I would never do.  But, diet soda has fewer calories (true) and the same great taste (false).  So there. 

— I am truly bothered when lights are left on unnecessarily in the house, or when the heat is going and the door is left open.  My wife recently caught me asking her (in an annoyed voice) why it was necessary that we have “every single light in the house on at once.”  Coming soon: “this is why we can’t have nice things,” and “if you keep it up I’m turning this car around.”   

— A lot of popular music just doesn’t make sense to me.  I was in the car recently flipping through radio stations and stumbled upon a catchy song in which I could have promised you the guy was saying “Open Condom Style.”  How inappropriate!  (Google assures me it’s actually: “Oppan Gagnam Style”).   And “party rock is in the house tonight?”   What does that even mean?

— Speaking of music, I kind of actually like the song “Call Me Maybe.”  This is something I would never have admitted in high school.  And since I’m making confessions:  I always secretly enjoyed listening to the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and 98 Degrees.  Oh yea, and I shed a tear at the end of “Titanic.” Conscience cleared. 

— I was baptized and became a follower of Jesus Christ.  This is something that I won’t joke about because it’s a pretty big deal.  The changes in my life this has sparked are too numerous to list on this blog, but here’s a subtle one:  I’ve noticed that substituting the word “blessed” for the word “lucky” gives me instant Christianity street cred (something I’m always looking for). 

       Ex1: “I am so lucky blessed to have finally found my keys.” 

       Ex2: “I am so lucky blessed that the Redskins covered the spread against the Giants.”*** 

***Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t gamble.  Oh wait dang it, I forgot about my fantasy football leagues.  So I guess I do kind of gamble…

— I watch shows that would embarrass the high school version me.  Food Network,  HGTV, you name it.  “Is this woman gonna finish icing those cupcakes before time runs out? The suspense is killing me!”  In fairness, getting my wife to watch college basketball with me is something I have had to earn.  I do this by banking hours of TLC, Army Wives, and Christmas movies, and then cashing them in when my Indiana Hoosiers are on.  That’s my story and I’m stickin to it. 

— When it rains, I almost instinctively declare that “the grass could really use it.”  Enough said. 

— I have hit the point in my life where the cost of going to the movies is a deal-breaker – something that never mattered in high school.  “12.50 for a movie?!?!” When I was a kid, we walked to school uphill both ways in the snow.  And movies were only $6.   

— I am genuinely excited for my friends when they post things on Facebook like “(insert baby name) just went pee-pee in the potty!” And while most people think Daylight Savings Time is awesome cuz it gives them an extra hour in the fall, I know that it throws everything off with the kid’s sleeping schedule.  Basically, it’s evil! 

— Per family tradition, I leave early from concerts and sporting events to ensure that I won’t get stuck in traffic.  This is a classic old man operation.  So while you’re enjoying the second song of Tim McGraw’s encore, don’t be surprised if you see me whispering “we’re gonna be stuck here for hours” to myself while I frantically scan the parking lot.  Yup. 

— In 2002, my precious little sister (10 years younger) watched Barney.  Now she’s in a sorority.  Plus, I recently talked to a college student who had never seen a single episode of “Saved By The Bell.”  So yea, I’m getting old. 

— Lastly: I’m a Republican now.  If anyone by chance has the ability to time-travel back to 2002, please do not tell this to the high school version of me.  It would devastate a big-time Al Gore fan.

There are many more examples of my old-manhood.  But there’s hope for me, isn’t there?  I mean, I still rock out to Michael Jackson.  I still love wearing awesomely tacky American Flag clothes.  AND I STILL LOVE THE “WAVE”! 

Well, one thing’s for sure: I am going to cling on to 29 years old with all my might.  Because 30 brings a whole new level of “you’re getting old” that I’m not sure I’m ready for.  Heck before I know it, I’ll be RSVP’ing to my 30 year high school reunion, and by then my case of “Grumpy Old Manhood” will be fully incurable. 

One of the symptoms?  Explaining to my grandchildren that the “wave” is quite distracting to people trying to watch the game.  Can’t wait.

GUYS, IM TRYING TO WATCH THE GAME HERE!

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Chronicle of a Conservative Beatdown

“I don’t normally post about politics, but…”  Whoa there.  Dangerous first words.  Typically when I see this on Facebook, its followed by some irrational, vomit-inducing political rant that I wish I had never seen.  Well, I’m about to make the same mistake.  But its election night, darn it.  And my team is about to get their butts kicked.  Again.  How can that be???

I had an early indication that Romney would lose when I showed up at Greenbrier West Elementary School at 6am to help pass out those annoying sample ballots they shove in your face before you go in to vote.  Yea, that was me. 

Anyway, I show up at the polling place and I note a stark contrast in campaign swag: the Republicans are giving out left-over Halloween candy, and the Dems are giving out Starbucks and donuts.  Early evidence of a strong Democratic ground game. 

Before I go any further, I note that I consider myself a fairly reasonable conservative Republican with occasional moderate tendencies.  For instance, I can’t stand where this country is headed, but at the same time I don’t think it’s anyone’s business that the President plays golf on the weekends (in fact I think its cool).  And I could not care less what President Obama’s law school transcript looks like.  Seriously people. 

And then there’s my wife.  Her political views range from extreme Republican to borderline fascism.  Like, when I say I think global warming is legit, I’m dismissed as a “FREAKING LIBERAL!” and the conversation abruptly ends.  So yea, as much as I love her, we don’t talk politics very often.

Anyway.  I’m volunteering at the polls and some clown walks up and starts planting Obama yard signs all over the place.  Part of me wants to tell him how ridiculous he looks thinking this will make any difference whatsoever in the outcome of the election, but then I realize that I am here handing out flyers that will also probably have no impact whatsoever on the outcome of this election.  So it’s fair game. 

Then he looks at me and says “DOES GOP STAND FOR GREED OVER THE PEOPLE?!?!”  Note: this is how political nerds trash-talk.  In a moment of vulnerability, I smiled and said nothing.  Sweet comeback.  This exchange is yet another indication of a strong Obama ground game. 

As I continue to hand out sample ballots, I am gently reminded by the election official that I am standing closer than 40 feet to the door of the polling place – a big time no-no. If I were a Black Panther, Fox News would be all up in my grill right now.  But fortunately the networks took it easy on me.  Phew.

After my shift (6am – 8:30am), I vote and head to work.  And with all the Facebook posts about the election, my productivity levels reached March Madness status. Yep, I was glued to my smartphone. 

And here’s a statistical breakdown of what I saw:

–          % of people who told me I need to exercise my right to vote: like, 100. 

–          # of sappy posts about democracy: like, 80. 

–          # of “the world is gonna end no matter who gets elected” posts: 19.

–          # of “this is why I voted for my candidate” rants: too many to count. 

And yet I couldn’t get enough of this stuff.  I had spent a whole year “unfriending” hyper-chatty liberals and “ignoring” people who insist on debating abortion and gay marriage on Facebook for this very day.  I take a moment to thank God and Mark Zuckerberg for the “unfollow” feature right about now. 

Note:  I know conservatives are quite vocal on Facebook too.  This is a double-standard I’m strangely ok with.

Anyway, here’s how my work day went:  Check CNN, check Fox News, check Facebook, work for a few minutes, check MSNBC, check Facebook.  And then repeat a million times.  

Heading home, I get the same sick feeling in my stomach that I got the day ObamaCare was passed.  Oh man.  This is really happening. 

Knowing I was in for a crazy night (and that Jackie would be at Bible study for a few hours), I invited my mother-in-law to come watch the coverage with me.  Noone wants to die alone. 

So it’s me, the kids (obligatory mention of the fact that they are super cute), and my mother-in-law watching the coverage on CNN and drinking heavily – adults, wine; babies, milk.  CNN’s John King is indicating that it’s not looking good for Romney.  I hate hearing it, so I flip to Fox News, where I know they will be telling me what I really want to hear: Romney still has a chance.  Phew.  I’m safe here. 

Let me take this opportunity to say I’m glad I have a few years before I have to explain the Electoral College to my kids.***

*** That, and the offside penalty in soccer. 

But for now, I know how the Electoral College works, and I see that it’s working against Romney.  So even though it means absolutely nothing, I take irrational solace in the fact that Romney just won the state of Alabama.  I’m getting desperate here.

At this point it’s about 9pm, and small communities in CO, VA, FL and OH are getting some serious face time.  A friend points out that FoxNews has called Indiana for Romney, but CNN has not.  This is why conservatives like me keep coming back to Fox.  In their suspicious “Fair and Balanced” way, they comfort us.

Back to CNN, where John King is furiously pressing buttons on his fancy electronic map.  He wants to tell us Obama won Florida, but he won’t quite do it.  He wants to tell me Obama is gonna win Ohio, but he won’t quite do it.  I feel like I’m playing Mortal Combat and have reached that point where the fight is lost, and all that’s left to do is brace for my opponent’s awesome finishing move. Now just FINISH HIM!

Back to Facebook, where my liberal friends are launching their gitty posts, and my fellow conservatives are strangely silent.  Kick me.  I need to avert my eyes from my Newsfeed before I start a Facebook genocide of all my liberal friends. ***

*** Note: perhaps this is what it felt like for my liberal fraternity brothers when I woke them up chanting “GOP!” after the 2004 election was called at about 3am.  Come to think of it, yea, I probably deserve this. 

So after consuming several hours of election coverage (and several glasses of wine), I call it a night.  If this were a Monday Night Football game and my Fantasy outcome were still undecided, I would not be heading upstairs.  But this election stings the nostrils, and I can’t take it anymore.  The networks hadnt called yet, so I did: you win, Obama.  You apparently always do. 

Like it or not, the race for 2016 starts now.  And I hope the next Election Day doesn’t hurt as much as this one did. 

But if it does, rest assured I’ll be sticking with Fox News… where the coverage is Fair, Balanced, and Comforting to a wounded conservative.   

 

I feel you bro

THE POLITICAL VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE MINE AND MINE ONLY, AND NOT THOSE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. I ALSO NOTE THAT I AM NOT ON ACTIVE DUTY, WHICH MEANS THE WORK I DID AT THE POLLS WAS PERFECTLY LAWFUL.  See “2012 DoD Public Affairs Guidance for Political Campaigns and Elections” Section 9.4.2.  And yes, I am definitely a lawyer now.

My First Five Weeks In The Military…

GET ON YOUR FACE RIGHT NOW!

Apparently this means get ready to do pushups.  It’s “zero four thirty” and I have lots to learn today in sunny Newport, RI.  Indeed, we’re just getting started…

UP! DOWN! UP! DOWN…

A few questions go through my mind: am I getting yelled at by a woman or a man?  How the heck did I get here?  And most importantly: am I wearing underwear? 

Back to reality: now we’re doing something called 6-90s.  It’s where you lie on your back with your feet 6 inches above the ground, and raise them to a 90 degree angle.  And repeat.  Wait, is this a p90x move?!?! 

It was Day Three.  I think.  Allow me to walk you through the remainder of our average day:

After the abrupt wake-ups, we would go outside to “PT” (which means physical training) for an hour.  This involved running or calisthenics, or some combination of the two.  We also did an insane amount of stretching.  Like, for every minute we worked out, we probably spent two minutes stretching.  This was weird.  I mean, who actually stretches these days? 

Then we ate: 15 minutes, no talking.  And no “skylarking” (looking around) either!  Ahh, you gotta love military words.   Here’s a few more: bulkhead (wall), ladder well (stairs), and Roger that (which according to Urban Dictionary means “I understand”).  Roger that?

Then came an hour of marching.  This was pure comedy. 

At a philosophical level, marching in the Navy makes absolutely no sense.  I mean, sailors work on ships – a place with very little marching room.  Add to that the fact that I am in a class of “staff corps” officers (doctors, lawyers, nurses, nuclear reactors, etc).  What you get is some sloppy marching. 

“Right face!”  “About face!”  “Center face!”  All this means something to those who have marched before.  I was new to all of it.  And I sucked at it…

Then came a period of time known as “hygiene.” As in, “you have three-five minutes for hygiene.”  Here was where we would make our beds (a brutal chore for someone who hates making the bed), shower, get the uniform on, and be ready to go.  The men’s bathroom was like a scene out of Top Gun… only with far fewer 6 pack abs, and no time to air dry. 

Then we sat through PowerPoint presentations.  All. Day. Long. No caffeine, and very few breaks.  I wasn’t ready for this.  Sleeping was not allowed (and strictly enforced), and we would be tested on all of this.  I missed law school!

We also had a drill instructor.  He was then one who whipped us into shape and taught us what we needed to know.  Importantly, he was the one who determined how long we would have to stand at attention.  In case you’ve never done it, standing at attention is really uncomfortable after a while. 

Note: If you are a Marine or Navy Seal or something like that, please don’t judge me.

In the evenings we would eat again.  Same rules: no skylarking, no talking, and 15 minutes to eat – I was usually done in 5.  I would spend the next 10 minutes trying to avoid eye contact with my friends – something that would always cause me to start laughing.  Oh, and another mealtime rule I forgot to mention: no laughing. 

Then we would march for another hour.  I’ve said my peace about Navy marching.  So anyway…

Then we would head into our “House” (think dorms) and clean, do laundry, study, or workout.  Don’t tell my wife this, but I actually got good at handling my own laundry.  Now shh!!!

Then, our company (54 officers) sang songs together before bed.  We recited the classics: Sailor’s Creed, Anchors Aweigh, and the Marine’s Hymn.  We sounded terrible, but we would improve as time went on. 

And that about wraps up the average day for five weeks.  Not boot camp, not summer camp, but somewhere right in between.  Before I move on, allow me once more to emphasize how BRUTAL the PowerPoints were – and I work for a consulting firm!  Ok, now I’m done… 

Some of the highlights included:

–          Going aboard the USS Michael Murphy – the newest destroyer in the Navy.  That ship alone could take out most countries.  One word comes to mind: ‘Merica!

–          Learning how to make a flotation device out of navy trousers.  Look out Bear Grylls!

–          Going out on the town in my summer white uniform and being thanked for my service – of three weeks!

–          Pushup contests.

–          Letters from home.

–          Helping save a fake ship (the USS Buttercup – a very manly vessel) from sinking

–          Singing “Tearin Up My Heart” to a crowd of locals on Karaoke night

–          Raising the flag in uniform

–          Spending close to $2,000 on my uniform (no discount double-check!)

–          Getting the shortest haircut of probably my entire life

–          Being required to say things like “Kill!” all the time. **

**  To demonstrate how much fun I had saying “kill,” I will be using the word as often as possible throughout the remainder of this post.   Get ready…

Of course, I had it easy compared to Jackie, who was at home with the babies – two born, one unborn.  Closing out the first trimester of her pregnancy with two stubborn 16-month olds was undoubtedly exhausting.  Bottom line: my wife is amazing (cheap brownie points I know, but I will take them).  Kill!

Fortunately, Jackie, her mom, and the kids came up for my graduation.  I went to see the babies at the hotel room and my worst fear came true: they didn’t recognize me.  In fact, they were scared of me.  Perhaps this was because my hair was short, my boots made me stand about 2 inches taller, and I was wearing my Navy fatigues.  Still, it was a punch in the gut. 

It took them a few minutes to recognize me, and then all became right with the world…

I needed this

 It was so awesome to see them.  It was also an ice cold glass of water to the face: welcome back to being dad!  Indeed, at the graduation reception while most of my friends were drinking and socializing, Jackie and I chased the babies around the ballroom.  The entire time.  “Nice to meet you – oh, Riley, no, no, no, come back!” I must have had this conversation six times. 

Kill!

Even better: Jimmy ran up to the Commanding Officer of Naval Training Command, Captain Kemper, and hit him in the back of the leg.  Yep, that’s my son scarfing down meatballs and hitting the Commanding Officer. 

Note: one day, he’ll wonder why he didn’t get into the Naval Academy…

The night before graduation we were allowed to sleep off base so long as we were back at 0430.  I slept with Jackie, my mother in law, and the babies in the hotel room and got a full 45 minutes of sleep.  But it was worth it to see them again.  At least that’s what I kept telling myself…

The next night I was home, sleeping in my very own “rack” (where hospital corners aren’t required).  From here, I wait to get my bar exam results, at which time I will begin fulfilling my four year commitment to the Navy JAG Corps.  I’m thankful to God for getting me where I am today; excited about the adventures in store; and honored to begin my military career.  As they say: Anchors Aweigh!  

And oh yea… KILL!!!

 

Jimmy’s doing a little “PT” of his own!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Survived the Virginia Bar Exam

“Your time begins now.” 

And it began.  The test I had anticipated taking since high school. The test I had been studying for day and night for two agonizing months.   The anticipation was now over, and the most important test of my life had begun.  

I suppose some background about the exam will help:

First, the cost of the VA bar exam seriously makes you feel like youre paying off the mob.  I mean, they make you pay $400 to take the test, another $500 for a “character evaluation” (where they basically just harass you about every speeding ticket you have ever gotten), and then another $150 to take the test on the laptop.  But wait, there’s more:  $3,200 for bar prep classes, and a solid month off of work.  It’s robbery. 

A few other things about the test: its two days long, you have to wear a suit and tie, and it’s in Roanoke, VA.  So…yea. 

Anyway, the doors to the test opened at 8:00am, and when I got there just before 8, the place was packed.  Law students are so predictable.  They file us into the building like cattle and next thing I know I’m in a room the size of a huge airplane hangar with about 1,200 other students.  I set up my computer, went to the bathroom, sat in my seat waiting for the test to begin, and then headed back to the bathroom.  I probably went to the bathroom a solid 8 times. 

Finally, some guy stands up at the podium and tells us to take our seats.  And he certainly doesn’t lighten the mood… 

“If you leave the testing room, you will be disqualified.  If you don’t fill in the bubbles to your identification sheet correctly, you will be disqualified….”  One rule they are particularly sensitive about: cell phones.  They make it very clear that they are bad, bad, bad.  If you have one, youre dead. 

I started praying, but at this point I’m feeling very nervous.  Like, Tom Hanks in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan nervous.***

*** Only, I’m taking the bar exam and he was storming the beach at Normandy.  But other than that…

You get three hours to answer five essays.  A break for lunch, then the process repeats in the afternoon.  That’s Day One.  There is very little downtime.  And so when the proctor tells us that our time has begun, I get right to it. 

About an hour and a half into the exam, something happens.  Some dude is making sounds.  Weird sounds.  He’s a row away.  His hands lock up, and the sounds get louder.  I’m no doctor, but my diagnosis was immediate: THIS DUDE IS HAVING A FREAKING SEIZURE!   

Slowly, he leans over in his chair and falls face first into the ground.  Blood splatters all over the place, and his face turns blue.  Then his eyes shut.  I’m preparing myself for the reality that I might watch this guy die right in front of me.  Right in the middle of the bar exam. 

I screamed out: “SOMEONE CALL 911!”  It then dawned on me that I just asked 1,200 people WITHOUT cell phones to make a phone call.  How heroic of me. 

Shortly thereafter, some guy runs up.  He’s a fellow test-taker, but he’s also apparently a doctor.  He takes control of the situation.   I look around and see over a thousand people continuing to work on their exam, and I’m standing here helplessly watching this guy and trying to think of ways to be helpful. 

About 10 minutes later, paramedics arrived.  Realizing there was nothing I could do at this point, and knowing that the clock was ticking, I sat back down. 

I had never figured I would have to mentally shift from watching someone have a terrible seizure to diving into personal jurisdiction under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  But there I was, plugging away and trying my best to tune out the medics while they do their thing.  I knew he was going to be ok when I heard…

Paramedic: “do you know where you are?”

Guy Who Just Had A Seizure: “THE TEST!”

Anyway, I scrambled through the remaining hour or so.  I was short on time, but I derived some serious Bar Exam skills from one of my favorite shows: Chopped. 

See, on Chopped, the biggest mistake contestants make is that they try to make the perfect dish, and end up not getting mandatory ingredients on the plate – a total dagger.  Rather, to win Chopped, often you just need to get something on the plate, even if it’s terrible.  So when I was typing total nonsense into my keyboard, I had to just keep telling myself to “get it on the plate.”  And heck yea I did. 

When we came back for round two, the test proctor started going through his panic-inducing rules again, but this time I was prepared – I stared at a picture of the kids until the test began.   Much better. 

A few hours later, I walked out of that test feeling fairly confident.  A cold beer and some chips did wonders.  The hard part was over, and I slept like a dog that night. 

Day Two is what’s referred to as “The Multistate.”  It’s a 200 question multiple choice test covering some of the basics of the law: evidence, constitutional law, criminal law, property, contracts, and a few more.  By now, the mood is much less tense.  I was cracking bar exam jokes.  They were funny?   

Oh, and good news: apparently the guy with the seizure was out of the hospital. 

I ripped through the first half of the test with no problem.  I guess after you take a test and watch someone have a seizure, then any other subsequent test it bound to seem anticlimactic.  But anticlimactic is good. 

One thing I will say is that on several occasions I found myself using the same letter choice four times in a row.  And nothing drives a test-taker insane quite like filling in the same bubble three or four times consecutively – especially when it’s the letter “D.”  It’s cruel and unusual. 

The second half of the test was tough.  Not only because I was doing some serious guessing, but also because I was counting down the number of questions I would have to answer as a law student.  20, 10, 5, 1.  Done.  Eyoooo!

Overall, the experience was one I will never forget.  I’m not sure if I passed, and won’t know til October.  But the important thing is that I survived – something I wasn’t so sure about for a while there. 

So here’s to hoping that what I put on the plate won’t get me, well, Chopped. Cheers!

Fact: Quitting Coffee Is Pretty Much The Worst Thing Ever

I’m a well-documented coffee addict.  Indeed, it’s my opinion that no baby registry is complete without a year’s worth of caffeine products.  But in the words of one of my favorite 80s jams, “here I go again on my own!” Yep, I’ve gone and quit one of the things I love most.  I must be crazy.    

Why did I quit?  I was hoping you would ask…

I started drinking coffee when I got out of college.  It began with one cup per day.  Then it became two cups.  But I limited myself to two cups a day… until law school began, at which point I began having a third cup before class. 

Note: can you blame me?  I mean, you try sitting through lectures on rules of evidence and corporate takeovers with nothing but your can-do attitude.   

So there I was: three cups a day.  Max!  But… the occasional all-night legal writing project added a fourth cup to the mix.  I’m no dietician, but that’s a lot of caffeine in a day.  To make it worse, coffee became a must…especially in the morning.  My addiction manifested itself at church, where I began bringing a coffee mug and sneaking an occasional sip or two when nobody was looking (I couldn’t wait until after the service when coffee was both provided and socially-acceptable).  Other coffee addicts would occasionally look at me as if to say “don’t be ashamed, I’m doing it too…”  We were the coffee-at-church pioneers. 

And speaking of coffee mugs, let me also note that two “cups” eventually became two mugs.  And I assure you, a mug is about twice as big as a cup.  Fortunately as a general rule, a “cup” of coffee is still a cup regardless of the size of the drinking apparatus used.  In other words, a cup is a cup, and a gallon of coffee is still a cup.  This all makes sense to coffee drinkers…

Note: it also makes sense to soda addicts.  For this reason, a 64 ounce mug from 7/11 is a “soda” the same way a 12 ounce can is a “soda.”  Either way, the addict takes comfort in knowing that they have only consumed one soda that day. How disciplined!   

And when I really needed to get going, I’d buy a venti (which means “large” in French or Spanish or something) coffee from Starbucks.  Ahh Starbucks coffee.  It’s feel-good speed.  Starbucks dumps about twice as much caffeine in their coffee as anyone else and then has the audacity to disperse all kinds of information about how “coffee is actually good for you and contains lots of valuable nutrients.”  We coffee drinkers love thinking that our addiction just happens to be healthy… 

Note: it’s kinda like those studies which show that “chocolate is actually good for your health.”  Who funds these studies?  Probably Hershey’s.  But go ahead and munch away at that 500 calorie chocolate bar…it’s good for your, uhh, heart.         

Anyway.  For years, I assured myself that I wasn’t a coffee “addict” because I “could totally quit if I wanted to…” But in six years, I had not gone a day without coffee.  Not one single day. 

I have absolutely no actual knowledge of whether or not it’s true, but I’m convinced coffee makes your hands tremble at an early age.  And I know it stains your teeth.  It’s also really expensive, and it makes you feel like a total loser when you have to walk out in the cold and grab coffee by yourself because everyone else at work has “already had theirs”.  Oh yea, and it’s addictive. 

I realized I had become far too addicted one morning when I was late for work.  My mug was cold, and I had barely touched it, but I nonetheless chugged the entire thing right there.  It was gross. But, coffee had become a box I checked off twice each morning just to make it through, and chugging it like an anxious frat boy was what I had come to.  (Insert “Frank-the-Tank” chant). 

So with all that stuff in mind, I had decided it was time to quit.  I had considered quitting coffee before, but then my wife bought me a “Keurig,” which is basically a machine that makes great coffee in a matter of seconds, and leaves no mess.  The Keurig single-handedly delayed my plan to quit drinking coffee by about a year.  But man I love that machine.  (Lustful sigh…)  

I decided I would go cold turkey – not even bothering with the “phase out” approach.  I also decided to quit drinking soda because I figured it would become a crutch, and I honestly believe coffee is much better for me than soda.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think Mountain Dew is the key to staying young.  For those of us approaching 30, Mountain Dew is more like the key to staying awake… and then getting a kidney stone.  (Man-I’m-getting-old sigh…). 

So anyway.  One night I just told myself I wouldn’t have any more coffee.  Of course, Jimmy got sick that next morning and had me up before 5am.  But I stuck to the plan and went in to work sans caffeine.  And it…SUCKED!!!

Yea, quitting coffee is terrible.  I had the worst headache of my life for a solid day.  In fact, I even broke down and “did the Dew” that afternoon.   I also took some Tylenol or Advil (I always get them confused) that night, and drank a TON of water.  The day went by VERY SLOWLY, and that night, class was miserable.  I cannot emphasize this enough: quitting coffee is pretty much the worst thing ever.    

The next morning, things were a little better, but the day dragged on, and when I got home from work, I took a three hour nap.  I pretty much never take naps, but this one was glorious.  I still fought the headaches, but they weren’t nearly as bad. 

Day three and four were on a weekend, and I was able to sleep a little bit more than usual.  Still, I craved the taste of some coffee goodness.  I settled for orange juice, which is nowhere near as satisfying as “the good stuff.”  I also tried decaf coffee, which felt like supplementing cocaine with Pixy Stix. Not that there’s anything wrong with Pixy Stix…

Well, it’s been exactly one month, and I have been coffee and soda-free.  And even though I still very much crave coffee, it genuinely feels good to not to be such a slave to it anymore.  I am sleeping better, and feeling better.  My breath, I’m sure, is much better.  Still, my energy level isn’t quite where it used to be.  That I have not blogged once since I quit coffee is probably no coincidence…

Will I be back?  Well, if we have twins again then the answer is 100% yes.  And given that I’m about to become a lawyer (where coffee flows like scotch), the odds are stacked against me.  But I’m gonna stay strong.  Indeed, I can do all things with coffee in Christ who gives me strength. 

And if I really need my fix? I will be sure to limit myself to just one mug of coffee… I mean, cup.  Cheers. 

Part Two: Beer and a Box of Pregnancy Tests

This is the second installment of a two-part story on how my wife and I lost our first baby, and fought like crazy to have another one.  Read “Part One” of the story here.  

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So there I was, beer in hand.  And there she was, pregnancy test in hand – apparently it was positive. 

We were definitely skeptical.  Even though all three pregnancy tests showed up the exact same way, Jackie and I figured there may have been something wrong with the box.  So, we marched back to the same store, grabbed more of the same pregnancy tests, and paid the exact same cashier.  Umm…awkward!   

It took about five tests to finally convince us that Jackie was pregnant.  I was a giddy school-girl.  But I was also very cautious.  “Oh please God let us keep this one!” was our constant prayer, and we took it seriously.  Please, please, please let us keep this one. 

Meanwhile, we were determined to keep the pregnancy our little secret.  We agreed: absolutely NOBODY can know about this until the second trimester!  Nobody… except some of our close friends.  And some family members.  Aaaaand some people from our church.  When you continually find yourself saying “but you can’t tell anyone…” you know your secret is doomed.  Well, ours was doomed. 

Of course, there are ways of telling people the news without *actually* telling them.  I mean, you can only order so many lemonades at an open bar wedding before people (like my dad) become suspicious.  And as a general rule, if you are a woman near 30 and refuse alcohol in any social setting for any reason, the pregnancy flags start flying.  It’s science. 

Either way, pretty much everyone knew about the pregnancy within two weeks.  Secrecy fail.

From the beginning, I enjoyed following the progress of our baby.  Indeed, I had a “pregnancy calendar” set to Jackie’s due date that I checked daily.  And while I still have no idea what a baby’s “crown to rump length” means, I was sure excited that it was getting bigger.  Our little tadpole was growing up!

I was particularly excited about Jackie’s first sonogram.  I couldn’t be there in person, but I got one heck of a phone call: “there’s two of them!” 

Two tadpoles.

Random side-note:  I see lots of “LOLs”, but am often suspicious that no one on the other end is laughing out loud.  For this reason, I hereby propose we add “ALOL” – or, “actually laughing out loud” to our online vernacular.  And I’m about to be the first person to ever use it in a sentence…

So, I get the news, and all I could do was ALOL.  Twins?  Really? 

Throughout the pregnancy, Jackie was a trooper.  Since she was carrying twins, she was deemed “high risk,” which meant constant doctor appointments, endless contractions, daily monitoring sessions, and bed rest.  I’m no expert on pregnancies, but I have seen the movie “Juno” and thus feel minimally qualified in saying that this was not a normal one by any stretch of the imagination.

That said, Jackie did go through many of the same experiences other pregnant women go through.  For instance, one day I got a frantic phone call from what I thought was a heroin addict.  Turns out it was my wife.  She needed a cheeseburger from Five Guys and she needed it RIGHT NOW!!!

The months flew by for me.  Working full time and going to school at night will do that.  I went to as many doctor visits as I could, and was amazed by how many other fathers went to them as well.  Like most men, seeing them move around for the first time was the coolest experience of them all.  Our little girl, “Baby B,” was already throwing punches.  And our little man, “Baby A,” was already taking them.  It’s been 13 months, and I can tell you nothing has changed.

When we had free time, we watched the TV show “Lost.”  All 121 episodes.  That show was awesome, and Jimmy’s name came close to being “Sawyer.” **

**Actually that’s not true at all.  I totally just made that up.

Speaking of Lost, there I was one morning studying for my upcoming Evidence Law final… totally lost.  Jackie’s due date was over a month away, and I get a call: “it’s happening this afternoon.”  The first thing that popped into my head was that their birthday would be on Cinco de Mayo… LUCKY!  In the meantime, I was told to “keep studying” (a downright laughable order).  I had to do something productive, so I moved the lawn instead.  I also cleaned up a little bit around the house and re-arranged some of our furniture.  I was basically nesting. 

The C-section itself was rather anti-climactic.  I mean, this is supposed to be one of my life’s most beautiful moments and here I am staring into a strange, creepy operating room.  I went in with camera in hand and sat down.  Minutes later, both babies were born.  It was so bizarre.  And instead of saying something meaningful, I just asked questions like “is all that blood normal?” Useless.  Oh, and Jackie was totally high from her epidural.  So to recap, we have a useless dad and a stoned mom.  Great start. 

Picture 9 nurses and 1 doctor all scrambling to care for our babies, and me sitting there wondering what I’m gonna post on Facebook.  That was our delivery room. 

I knew one thing: those babies were tiny.  4 pounds, something ounces.  Out of nowhere, a nurse handed baby Jimmy to me.  As happy as I was to finally meet him, I desperately wanted the nurse to take him back before I dropped him.  Indeed, holding a newborn baby is far more responsibility than a man like myself should bear.  Heck I shouldn’t even be allowed to hold a cell phone!     

And then nurse placed Riley in my other hand.  I’m pretty sure I blacked out for the next 30 seconds… 

Anyway.  Those babies spent a while in the “NICU” (where newborn babies go for intensive care).  Neither of them were breathing well, and Jimmy wasn’t eating.  Seeing my daughter in an incubator and my son with a feeding tube in his mouth was hard – my first experience as a helpless parent.  That was the moment when it *truly* hit: I was a father.  Holy cow.    

Somewhere in there, my sister flew in town and I took my evidence final.  For all I know I could have killed a man, too.  It’s all a blur… 

Eight days later, Jimmy and Riley were healthy enough to come home.  Finally, the page of our lives that was marked by the loss of our first baby had been turned.  What a mountain we climbed. 

Without a doubt, adjusting to lack of sleep, crying babies and diaper disasters has been challenging.  But know this: we count our blessings daily.  We know what a miracle it is just to bring a child into this world, and our hearts melt for those who are trying desperately to experience that miracle as well.     

God doesn’t promise everybody that they will get to have a child of their own, but He does promise us life through Jesus Christ – the child He lost.  God was graceful to give us both.  This is His awesome story of trial and triumph. 

It’s one that ends with Jackie and me holding two healthy, beautiful babies… and one that, oddly enough, began with me holding a case of beer and a box of pregnancy tests.  

His awesome story indeed. 

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