Showing posts with label Things I'm Working On. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Things I'm Working On. Show all posts

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"If it's not your butt, don't touch it"

Everyone just ignore my obvious face cancer, doc says it's an overactive parotid gland. 

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “I’m going to shred some chicken for tacos.” 

“That’s fine,” Tye replied. “Throw some in a box and mail it to me.” 

I laughed and muted my gaming headset, mostly because of the ridiculous stuff that gets said in this house, and because Alicia won’t let me have a private gaming room where that stuff won’t get heard. 

I shredded the chicken and came back to a chuckling clan mate. 

“I just heard the best advice,” he said, barely able to speak through his laughter. “Your wife said, ‘If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.’” 

“Kids,” was my succinct and exasperated reply. 

I’ve really got to make sure I start hitting the mute button better. 

•••

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and we’re not in church because I had photography plans today that were canceled by the rain. Somewhere, Brian Sloat is upset about that. 

Isaac woke up at 5:45 this morning, ready to start his day, and quite offended that the rest of us weren’t ready to start ours. He made this known through noises that, thankfully, I’m too deaf to hear, but I got up with Alicia anyway and headed to the living room. 

She fed him, then he griped until she stood him up and let him watch me play Destiny. I looked over at him, and he smiled. He smiled so wide he almost lost his pacifier, but he didn’t. He grinned at me every single time I glanced over for a solid ten minutes. It was inspiration an to me. 

“I will write,” I said to myself, “about baby smiles this morning. I will compare them to something also wonderful, and make the kind of allusions that will undoubtedly go viral on the social media.” 

My Muse was smiling at me, happiness personified, a very fat cherub with more chins than wings. It was a moment. 

I didn’t get up and write immediately, of course. I was in a game, trying to level up a character. I couldn’t quit then. 

The thought of the blog stayed with me for an hour or so, and from time to time I would formulate little ideas of how I would word things — powerful adjectives; not too heavy on the adverbs; and all of the other little things writers like to do when they’re putting something off. 

Then it happened. The 8 a.m. fight between Alicia and one of the boys, this time Aven. My Muse vanished, not a tangible thing after all, definitely not a smiling infant with drool running down his chins. 

•••

For the last couple of months, Drake has been a complete nightmare. We’re talking a “there’s a new hole in his bedroom wall because he chucked his bed frame (he’s five) into the sheetrock during a fit” nightmare. It was bad. After speaking with his doctor, the conclusion was drawn that part of his brain is underdeveloped due to drugs consumed in utero. 

He prescribed some ADHD medication that worked well with Aven. It did not work well for Drake. After a couple of weeks of tantrums and biting, a second doctor’s appointment was scheduled and a new medication prescribed. It’s working wonders. 

•••

I’m going to stop right there and talk a out something that is going to piss a lot of people off. I’m also going to use some language that might piss some folks off. I’m not here to apologize, and if you happen to be one of the pissed off folks, then I want you to do me a favor. Shut the browser down, and take ten minutes to think about it. Process it. I can promise you it took me longer than that to write and edit it. 

The kids’ bio family reads these blogs. They follow me on Facebook, and more than likely they are reading these words right now. They had to read that little bit up there about the drugs. 

I’m going to restate that: Drake’s biological mother just had to read that decisions she made as a nineteen-year-old have affected her child’s brain. 

Darlin’, if you’re reading this, I didn’t type it to make you feel bad. In fact, I want to tell you a story. 

The other day, Alicia texted me about the whole thing while she was at the doctor with Drake. She ended without blaming anyone. She told me about the medication he’d be taking and that was it. I was angry, and in anger I banged out a reply. 

“Fuck her,” I wrote. “Fuck her and her stupid ass decisions.” 

Drake caught this and then was scared to death to touch it. It's a lot like my wedding night.
My thumb hovered over the “send” button, but I didn’t press it. I still don’t know why. An incremental move to the left, a double tap, “select all,” and “cut” were pressed instead. I never sent that message. I’m done blaming you. You were young and dumb, and I’ve done plenty of dumb shit. I have had an affair. I did irreparable damage to my marriage and my relationship with my wife. I should have been divorced. However, I was shown grace. That grace led to us adopting three children. Those three children came to us swimming in the dumb shit that both you and I did. 

Grace hosed them off. 

It’s a hose I have to get under every day. There’s a long way to go before I forgive you completely, but anytime you want to use that hose…I invite you to it. 

•••

Drake has gotten better. However, Aven has stepped back up to the plate, doing his best to make everyone around him as angry as he is. He’s hateful, he’s sneaky, and he’s deceitful. We’ve basically taken our foot off of the brake and pushed on the gas, only to find out that some horrible mechanic has swapped our gas pedal for another brake. 

Things are not okay at the Sloat house. We’re covered in brake fluid and ADHD medication, pumping brake pedals like they belong to a vehicle in a Carrie Underwood song. The resulting collisions leave us covered in the viscous lifeblood of relationships with our children, our friends, and the people we work with. 

Grace keeps hosing us off. 

Photographer is Mandy Lundy, and she's incredible. Go check her out. 
I started this blog eight years ago with a simple purpose: I wanted to make you laugh. If I could go back in time and read all of these blogs before I posted them, I’m not sure my purpose would still have been the same. One thing is for sure, I never would have believed any of them actually would come true. Yet here I am; here we are; and this is reality: 

“If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.” 

“You’ve been acting like a dickhead for the last two weeks.” 

“If I was Jesus I’d hide in the dark.” 

“I’ll have sex with you if you fix dinner and clean some stuff tomorrow.” 

“Those sweats make him look like he’s smuggling grapes.” 

“Maybe one day we’ll all die and then you can be happy.” 

“Yep, thank God. I’m gonna go get Taco Bell.” 

“I’m getting the kids McDonald’s because of their shots.” 

“Our children are stupid.” 

Maybe you’re laughing at us. Maybe you’re crying for us. Maybe you’re angry at us. It doesn’t matter. 

When you’re ready, just motion for us to scooch over, and we’ll make room for you under the hose. Until then, if it's not your butt, don't touch it. 

“Why do You even love me? 
Why do You even care? 
Why should You think of me? 
Oh my God, I’ll never know. 
Fire emoji times a million. 
It’s unconditional love,
The Grace Flood.” 

        - "Grace Flood" The OC Supertones

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Chips or: What I'm Working on in 2014.

Note to the reader: This may be a tl;dr post for you, and I don't want that to happen. If you want to get to the meat and potatoes of things, skip to "So here's what I've done." If you want a cute story about how my wife loves me, scroll down to the bit about chips. It may just make you interested enough to read the whole thing. 

I'm traditionally terrible at the New Year's Resolutions. For example, last year I decided I was going to lose a bunch of weight, read twenty-four new books, and try to become famous.

  • I lost about thirty pounds from January to April, then gained it back. 
  • I read 16 new books, and most of those were because of the Young Adult Lit. course I took. 
  • I became somewhat Internet famous after posting a certain picture online. 

Terrible.

So this year I didn't really have many resolutions. I kind of thought that I should eat healthier, but I probably won't. I mean, it's 2014, shouldn't we have calorie-free nachos by now? We're all looking at you scientists.

I just want to mention here that I am absolutely terrified about this Velveeta shortage happening right now. I know, I know, it's not real cheese, but that's neither here nor there. MY NACHOS WON'T BE MADE WITH CHEDDAR AND RO-TEL GUYS. I've called for President Obama to look into the situation, but I just about bet he's too busy with his "healthcare" to worry about it. 

I'd really like to get to those twenty-four new books, but I highly doubt that's going to happen, mostly because of my insane school schedule this year. I'd really like to have audio books widely accepted by literary circles as actual reading, but I honestly think that would be tougher than calorie-free nachos.

As for fame, I've kind of realized it won't happen for me because I'm not ready for it. I know that because the following thought has actually gone through my head:

"What if some famous Internet site actually offers me money for an interview because of the turtle picture? Would that be selling out?" 

I'm not even kidding about that. It's something I've spent at least an hour thinking about. An hour. A legit hour. So I don't think fame is right for me. I'll probably need to sort out a few priorities before the good Lord actually blesses me with real fame, and not just fame acquired by taking my shirt off on the Internet, a picture which, God help them, my children will probably find one day.

So what does one do then, if resolutions are not to be conceived in the new year? Does one set goals for themselves, which are resolutions cleverly disguised in a shorter word? Or does one proceed willy-nilly into the year, running amuck amongst the freedoms granted one by one not having tethered themselves to the "same old, same old?"


My hat is off to you if you understand that paragraph. If you sort of checked out after the first sentence, basically I'm asking if I should even try to set up some sort of guidelines for improving my life in 2014.

So here's what I've done. I've just decided that I want to work on a couple of things in 2014. I'm not saying I'm going to perfect them, I'm just saying I want to see if I can't improve them just a little bit. And here they are, in no certain order.

  • I want to work on my out of control consumerism. 
  • I want to work on rediscovering why I fell in love with my wife. 

Guys, I want stuff. I want guns. I want the latest Apple product. I want the Beats headphones. I want the brand new television. I want a new truck. I want, I want, I want. I am never satisfied, and I know that's not right.
Actually I want the new Hyperbole and a Half book too. 
It's something that really went out of control in 2013. Something, that if left unchecked, could possibly drive my family into financial collapse. I don't believe that a husband and father should do that to their family. And it's not just stuff. 

It's coming home and eating the food that my wife has cooked because if I make something else I'm essentially wasting food.

It's maybe not getting the brand-name body wash and shampoo, because that's extra money that could go into my gas tank. 

It's maybe not taking that extra trip to hang out with friends because that extra gas money could be used to get me back and forth to work a couple of times. 

It's saying no to people, even when I don't want to, because my family and their comfort are more important than my social life. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying at all that the occasional money wasted on good fun isn't something that can't be done. You should certainly enjoy those things once in a while. But can I cut back on them? Probably. Should I? Yes, it's something I need to work on. 

My absolute nemesis may make a repeat appearance in 2014. 
As for rediscovering why I fell in love with my wife, I'm slowly coming to the realization that I've wasted a lot of time over the past decade ignoring her. It's taking me meeting with a leader in my church to see it, and it's something that I've recently started working on. 

Instead of griping about the messy house, I've realized that God has blessed me with two hands and the ability to figure out the buttons on the dishwasher. 

Instead of demanding things from her, I've started asking "How can I help?" 

Instead of sending her text messages telling her things, I'm trying to talk to her more in person about the important things. 

Instead of staring at the television (even during a Duke game) or my phone, while she tries to talk to me about her day, I'm trying to pause the television or put down my phone and just listen, because she needs someone to talk to, and I'm the guy she picked to talk to.

And here's the kicker. Here's the bee's knees. Here's the wasp's nipples. Here, as Douglas Adams said, is the entire set of erogenous zones of every flying insect of the western world.

She bought me a bag of chips the other night. 

Now I can understand how you might see that as a bit of weird thing to say. "Chips?" you say. "How can a bag of chips help Travis understand the incredibly deep love his wife has for him? Has he gone off the deep end? Has his love for food so completely blocked his ability to think/blog that we're now forced to listen to his rambling about a deep fried potato?" 

And to that I say, just bear with me. And also, she doesn't know I'm blogging about this, so I may be in trouble. 

Here's why the chips were special. 

1. She knows I love chips — She was thinking about me. She saw something in the store and said, "Oh I think Travis would like that." 

2. We didn't really have the extra money to spend on them — We're strapped from Christmas like I'm sure most of you are, and we're trying to recover. But she did it anyway because she knew it would make me happy. 

3. She didn't let the kids touch them and she never asked for one or tried to grab a couple — She was completely selfless in the purchase. She could have easily allowed it to become a treat for the entire family, but she saved them for me. 

I was talking to my buddy during our weekly meeting this morning and I broke down when I told him about the chips. I think it hit me, at that moment, that this was one of the reasons I fell in love with my wife. Not because she buys me chips, but because she's seen me at my absolute worst, and still loves me enough to do the tiny things that she knows will make me happy. 

The thought occurred to me, that, in trying to rediscover why I fell in love with my wife, I may be inadvertently helping her discover why she fell in love with me. 

And that, my friends, is worth me trying to work on. 

I may not have resolutions for 2014, but if working on things helps me get a few more metaphorical bags of chips in this new year, then I'll take work over resolve every year for the rest of my life. 

What are you going to work on this year? 

My word I'm sexy. Also my wife, my wife is sexy too.