Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

May 12, 2009

“The Look” Was Received Loud And Clear Or Should I Say Silent And Glaring

Filed under: Anger, Cynical Side — 30tocure30 @ 12:48 am

canstockphoto0512675You reach a certain point in marriage where words aren’t needed to express to your spouse how you are feeling or what you are thinking about. All that is required is a simple look. This trick comes in handy, especially in social settings, with many couples using this non-verbal awareness to their advantage.

Take for instance when one gets caught in a dull conversation with a close talker that has no clue they are about as engaging as watching paint dry. A quick glance over to their significant other and they can be assured that relief is on the way. As soon as their eyes lock, their spouse knows instantly that the time has come to switch into superhero mode by rescuing them with the classic “the babysitter just called” line.  Or take that same party where a wife suddenly gets a whiff of a not so pleasant smell. The smirk and wink coming from her husband lets the wife know that in this case the one who smelt it did not actually dealt it.

Women, much more then men, have learn to harness the glance to its’ fullest potential. With a single ‘look’ your wife can deliver a message loud and clear that not only sends chills down your spine, but also makes you ponder what important event occurred on this date, what chore you forgot to do or whether you put the toilet seat down in the middle of the night.

Then you experience moments where with a simple glance you are capable of looking into each other’s soul. Today was one of those days. There was no need to explain the tension we were both feeling. I could see the worry in Jenn’s eyes. We were taking our daughter Madison to meet with specialists at Duke Medical Center in hopes of finding answers to issues that have plagued her for far too long.

It’s a weird dynamic you are working through as a parent when your child is in pain and no doctor can seem to explain why. You certainly don’t want anything serious to be wrong with your child, yet the hope for a diagnosis, any diagnosis, means you finally know what you are up against and can start battling it. Hope for some clarity finds itself mixed with worry over what the doctors might say.

The CR-V was all gassed up. Strawberry Shortcake was queued on the DVD player. Baby Emma and silk blankie occupied their normal spot next to the car seat, snacks were stocked in the cooler and the coloring books and crayons where ready to go. All that was left was tying up a few loose ends at the office.

autres-villes-toronto-canada-7670099140-188744In the midst of my mental haze of obsessing over all the possible outcomes, I failed to notice another dark haze that suddenly appeared in the sky.  I paid no attention to the raindrops that began appearing on my windshield. A loud rumble of thunder that made me clench the wheel in fear finally interrupted my thoughts. A storm was not brewing. It was already percolating. Dodging traffic I raced home in hopes the girls would be ready to go and we would stay ahead of the storm.

Silly me, I should of known better by now. My glance was directed upwards, but not to see the path of the storm. While staring at the clouds, I shook my head and let out a frustrated chuckle: “Are you kidding me, Lord? Seriously? Of course this is going to happen…” We could be heading to my parent’s house in Maryland, picking someone up at the airport or going on vacation. The destination was irrelevant.

All that mattered was when the wheels of our vehicle touched the interstate marking the beginning of an important trip.  At that very moment is when God’s sense of humor kicks in and he sends a storm of epic proportions our way. As you can tell, I don’t find the Creator of the Universe all that funny.

001553_49These storms are not of the annoying rain cloud variety. I’m speaking of a flood where you regret putting money into your 401K and not towards a down payment on an ark. Not only was it raining cats and dogs, but also lions, tigers and bears oh my! Growing up my folks use to tell me that the angels were bowling when you heard thunder. If this is the case, then the angelic bowling league had matches taking place with Gabriel rolling a perfect 300. The only thing that would make me want to reconsider our trip more than listening to the actual thunder roll would be the CD player going haywire and having Garth Brook’s “Thunder Rolls” playing on repeat for the entire 3 hours we are in the car. You get the picture. It wasn’t a pretty sight on the open road. If it were, I wouldn’t of known anyway because I couldn’t see two feet in front of me.

Understanding the fear and apprehension their girls were experiencing, the average husband would be calm, cool and collective by not allowing their frustration to show. Unfortunately, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I am far from average. The anger I wrestled with internally over the storm manifested itself outwardly in frantic worry when I entered the house. Everything that didn’t go according to plan put me on edge with the storm to end all storms currently occupying the number one spot on the list. In my mind, these storms always had a way of setting a bad tone for the trip. However, the glare I received from Jenn while in the kitchen made me realize that was not the case. My demeanor sets the tone, not only for the trip, but my home as well. Message received loud and clear or should I say silent and glaring.

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May 8, 2009

Hey Teen Wolf…Grab Marty McFly, Hop In His DeLorean And We Can Go On A Few ‘Adventures Of An Incurable Cynic’

41lnL2+YJIL._SS500_I didn’t have to travel the globe to understand the nature or depths of my cynicism. All I had to do was sit on my couch, flip on the television and watch an hour-long ABC special on how Michael J. Fox, a man crippled with Parkinson’s Disease, looks at life every day with hope and optimism. On the other hand, I feel I am cursed with the dreaded Ripa Luck anytime things don’t go according to plan: sleeping through my alarm clock on the day of an important meeting, running into a co-worker while the girls are in meltdown mode, a flat tire on my “in town” car or missing a connecting flight.

To put things in perspective, I am just waiting for the phone call from Jenn saying, “you’ll never guess what happened” the day after we receive a sizeable tax refund in the mail. In years past, it has been a crack in the bathtub or a busted water heater. This time around our prospective trip to the Happiest Place on Earth got rerouted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center with Jenn having gallbladder surgery.

99.9% of the people who tuned in to see Michael J. Fox interview people from all walks of life about the optimism they possess experienced a renewing of spirits and a sense of hope. I guess you can consider me the outcast 0.1% because I felt a twinge of guilt along with some bitterness towards Fox.

CD2A40A0BDA122F15E4F8D7293B677The bad taste in my mouth has nothing to do with Alex B. Keaton, the former Young Republican, pulling an “Arlen Specter” by flip flopping politically due to his interest in stem cell research.  It hurts me that I felt this way after watching the special because Michael J. Fox has had a special place in my heart ever since Marty McFly hopped into that DeLorean DMC-12.  Fox was a huge part of my childhood and with me when I grew into a man. When special changes began happening to my body, I was able to narrow down the cause to the onslaught of puberty or that I was secretly a werewolf thanks to watching Scott Howard surf on a van in Teen Wolf.

I could pass on Spin City, but when he made a cameo appearance on not only my favorite sitcom (Scrubs), but its’ greatest episode ever (My Porcelain God), the respect grew for Michael J. Fox. The admiration factor reached an all time high level the day I realized he was the voice behind Stuart Little, which is a DVD that allowed me a moment of sanity by occupying the girls’ attention on a busy afternoon.

Teen wolfThe peak of my frustration came when Fox met with doctors and scientists to give us a better understanding on the nature of optimism. According to their research, they stated that some individuals are more predisposed to be optimistic. Lucky ducks. They cannot help but feel optimistic. It’s just the way they are wired. Somewhere in their DNA they have hopeful genes.

If we are to accept these findings as truth, than would one be correct in reasoning that there is a recessive gene that sparks pessimism? Are you telling me people can be cynical by nature? Does that mean I am off the hook when those two special words “just figures” roll out of my mouth. After bad knees, poor vision and high cholesterol, my DNA might finally be paying off. It’s about time. Just figures.

May 5, 2009

The Elusive Internet Connection Has Mr. Tinkle Cranky At The Hampton Inn

Filed under: Anger, Cynical Side — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:25 pm

Another night finds me burning the midnight oil. Wow, that was a horrible way to start a post.  What the heck does that expression even mean? Right off the bat I am unoriginal and far from engaging. Hands down that was the worst opening line ever. I’ll be lucky if a single person continues to read on after that gem of a beginner. Of course, this one avid reader would be my mother so I guess technically that doesn’t count considering everything I do is genius in her eyes.

Sorry for being snippy. I realize this month is all about learning to cure my anger issues, but the ‘joys’ of business traveling can cause anyone to get a little edgy. Just think about it. You start off the trip cramming into a rented mini-van with little to no legroom due to the baggage everyone brought with them. 

For some reason, everyone morphs into one of the three bears because for some the van is too hot, too cool, but never just right. As you go from shivering to sweating you try to occupy your time, but mostly end up talking shop or doing all the work that would be piled up on your desk when you get back.

N1111_mcdonalds _tb006The debate eventually begins on when and where to stop for a bite to eat meaning more than likely you will be visiting your first landmark, The Golden Arches. Throwing all healthy eating habits out the window, you purge the entire trip off of fast food or vending machine munchies.

Let me just tell you this does wonders to your bowels. Having the world’s smallest bladder, I normally have to go number one before we’ve hit the highway on ramp. Not wanting to claim the nickname “Mr. Tinkle,” I hold it in praying someone will budge first and make a request for a potty break. On the other hand, the new all carb and fat diet plugs up my other end like a hairball blocking the shower drain. Painfully, the captives remain held up in jail and cannot be freed.

neon-shanghaiJust around the time your legs go completely numb you end up at the hotel and find out that your roommate is the guy who not only stopped at the ethnic joint for dinner but feasted upon teriyaki beef jerky and trail mix all the way down. As loud and powerful as his constant toots are, they are incapable of drowning out the constant hum of the refrigerator or the air conditioning sounding like a bomb going off every time it kicks on, which just in case you are wondering is every 10 minutes.

Finding it impossible to sleep you head down to the hotel lobby with your laptop figuring you might as well check your email and sports scores. After all, the building has free high speed Internet. Unfortunately, I am quickly learning the hotel I am staying at holds a very loose definition of what exactly constitutes something as high speed. I guess the old adage is true that you get what you paid for.

fix-for-wireless-connection-problems-on-macbook-proAlready tired and constipated, I can add fuming to the list after spending a good part of an hour in the lobby of the hotel trying to find an outlet to recharge my laptop along with a wireless Internet connection that actually works. Doesn’t the Hampton Inn know the fate of the world depends on me updating my fantasy baseball team?

The search for a power source proved to be successful. Sadly, finding that elusive Internet connection seems like a lost caused. All the self-help material I am reading that deals with anger suggests finding humor in the midst of every frustrating situation you face. So, instead of being aggravated that the only available power outlet has me huddled in the corner next to a fake potted plant, I will figure out a way for this to bring a smile to my face.

My opportunity for chuckles presents itself when I see someone coming down the hallway in the mirror. I can see him, but thanks to this glorious potted plant I am out of sight and mind. The poor sap looking for ice has no clue what awaits him around the corner.

The footsteps get louder; my moment is almost here and then…..BOO! He jumps and ice goes flying everywhere. Apparently, unlike myself I helped free that person’s captives. Relief of sorts for him and a humor relief for me. Looks like ‘Mission Smiles, Not Frowns’ accomplished.

May 2, 2009

Shake And Baking Things Up By Picking A Pair Of Step Brothers

93023B-r-r-r-i-n-g!!! Class is back in session. Physically I am here, but mentally I am absent. Exhausted from the domestic duties at home, I decide to take the day off by surprising all of my Issues and Regrets with a pop quiz. Honestly, there is no point to the exam other than it gives me an excuse to zone out in front of the laptop while giving the impression I am doing actual work.  

When I log on to Facebook I am bombarded with updates that include numerous wall posts as well as an abnormal amount of Issues and Regrets commenting on photos. I click one of the links and audible gasp at what pops up on the screen. Someone snuck into my house and snapped a few pictures of me cooking in the kitchen while wearing a frilly apron that had “Cupcake Princess” bedazzled on the front. To make matters worse, the photos just happened to be taken on laundry day so I can be seen only in ratty gym shorts and a pair of Jenn’s pink socks.

boy-who-drank1That’s it. Some Issue or Regret wants to mess with me after I have been cooking and cleaning non-stop for the past four days? They have no clue the war they just started. Time for payback and some cruel and unusual punishment. Until dismissal they’ll be watching Scott Baio’s greatest acting performance, the 1980’s after school special The Boy Who Drank Too Much, on a continuous loop.

Seeing it on par with the controversial technique of water boarding, the Obama administration has begun legal proceedings to have this film outlawed from ever being viewed again. No other flick has the capacity to break a person’s spirit quicker. Forget Charles, I am going to be back in charge of these Issues and Regrets in no time. Most of them are already squirming in their seats. Everyone is glaring at the two Issues currently occupying the back row of the classroom.

 

Body Image Issues: “Would you guys, please just fess up. You know what happens when I get stressed….I eat.” (Opens his desk drawer and pulls out a King Size Snickers bar)

Lack Of Manliness: “No teach don’t turn it off. I am taking notes from the ultimate ladies man, Mr. Scott Baio. How could he be 45 and single? It blows my mind that no lady could tame this beast.”

Impatience: “I can’t take this another minute. Please whoever posted the photo turn yourself in.” (Starts tapping his feet uncontrollably)

Indecisiveness: “I was going back and forth on whether to tattle tale, but if I have to see this guy’s mullet a minute longer I am going to poke my eyes out. It was Anger!” (Points to back row, puts his hand behind his back and then reconsiders and points his finger in that direction again)

step_brothers-posterAnger: “FINE! Yeah, it was ME! Do you know what it’s like to sit here month after month and be ignored? IT’S INFURIATING! Ever since last month I’ve been looking for ways to get your attention. At lunch I was talking to Cynical Side and he brought up a Dateline episode he saw on Internet bullying. This is what put the wheels in motion.”

Me: “Look I’ve had enough. Do you think it is easy being the center of attention for a month straight? Ask Indecisiveness, Lack Of Manliness and Socially Stunted. They’ll tell you it is not all sunshine and rainbows. But, since you have my full attention I am finally going to give you what you want, but with a little twist. Cynical Side since your Anger’s step brother you’ll be joining him.”

Anger (looking at Cynical Side): “WHAT? You better not close your eyes, because as soon as you do, I’m gonna punch you square in the face!”

Me: “Yeah, looks like I made the right decision after all.”

 

So, needless to say, the next month my focus is going to be:

 30 DAYS TO NOT BLOW A FUSE…. YEAH, LIKE THAT IS POSSIBLE

April 30, 2009

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of Uneventful Endings

Filed under: domesticated — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:43 pm

indiana1It’s hard to describe the pressure you feel as a parent when you are choosing a movie for date night with your spouse. Moments minus the kids are few and far between so a lot is riding on your decision. Pick a cinematic masterpiece then all is right with the world.

On the other hand, if you’re the one who suggests seeing a flick that turns out to be a real stinker than you lose a lot more than the two hours of your life which you can never get back. Let me try to put the cost of a wrong call into perspective: nice dinner ($30), movie tickets ($16), concessions at theater ($12) and the kicker, childcare ($40). While painfully writing out the check to the babysitter, you reason flushing over 100 bucks and watching it swirl down the toilet would be more entertaining then the turd of a film you just watched.

Sadly, my track record recently has been less than stellar. It has reached the point where my movie choosing privileges have been revoked. Power has been peacefully handed over to Jenn, which means I’ll be watching romantic comedies for the rest of my life.

Are you curious as to what finally did me in? It was none other than the film that showed George Lucas might want to consider retirement: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  Yes, I’ll concede it was mindless fun that was semi-entertaining, but what was with the final ten minutes? Seriously, aliens, are you kidding me? That is the best you could come up with? The uneventful ending threw us both off. Jenn and I walked out of the theater disoriented as to what just occurred.

Recently, I’ve been feeling that same disorientation. Everything has been a blur and I am trying to get my bearings back. Let’s just say that April ended in a way I wasn’t expecting. For the past thirty days, I have attempted to hone my domesticated skills by sautéing, scrubbing, sorting and swiffering.

My goal was to finish the month on a high note by preparing an elegant meal from scratch for Jenn. I laid the groundwork early by going into ultra stealth mode in an attempt to find out some of her favorite cuisines. After studying a few cookbooks and sifting through the recipes family and friends sent my way, I created a shopping list and was about to head to the grocery store when Jenn began complaining about severe pain in her side. She tried sleeping it off.

Yet, the pain never went away and a day or so later we found out she had gallstones and a seven millimeter kidney stone. Just typing those words make me cringe. Surgery to remove her gallbladder was scheduled for April 30th, the final opportunity to prove I had morphed into a domesticated dude. Looks like the candlelight dinner would be put on hold.

041000014802Instead the last supper consisted of vanilla wafers, saltines and Lipton’s Cup of Soup. For an extra special touch, I garnished her plate with a few slices of strawberries and pineapples from the Edible Arrangements boutique we received from friends. The meal was topped off with a tall glass of grape Gatorade to quench Jenn’s thirst. A feast completely and utterly uneventful compared to what I wanted to prepare. She ate a few bites, but that was about it.

I had little time to wonder if her lack of interest in eating was due to her nausea or a statement on my cooking ability. Other things were demanding my attention: dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, scrubbing and actually paying attention to the kids. When I went into check on our recovering mommy, Jenn chuckled and then grimaced in pain because laughing doesn’t feel too well due to the stitches. I asked her what exactly was so funny. She said that I had finally achieved the ‘look.’ You know, the one of complete and utter exhaustion. I glance over at a mirror and realize my look is identical to the one Jenn has on her face on occasion when I come home from work.

nmaimg-ci20051301-074-wm-vs1Thanks to seeing that reflection in the mirror I feel like I finally truly understand all that is asked of Jenn as a stay at home mom. Managing a house while taking care of two wild and crazy girls is extremely difficult especially if you are trying to stay sane as well. A woman performing domesticated duties often goes without notice. Yet, when a man steps up to the plate by actually washing it, a parade is thrown in his honor. He is viewed as a hero while doing the same tasks that are expected from a female. Does anyone else find this mindset odd and a little warped?

Knowing how to sort laundry, iron a shirt, cook a meal or sew on a button is one thing. Being willing to help around the house and make a contribution out of love for your wife is where you are being a man. Maybe the uneventful ending to the month had a greater purpose because as the credits for April are rolling I am realizing that Mr. Mom should be the rule, not the exception.

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