Valentine's Day Parallelism

In all things February 14, the media gravitate to my family.  I do not understand why this has happened, but me, my wife, and my son have now all appeared in a local news package for Valentine's Day.  It is an odd coincidence, bordering on disturbing.

For my wife and I, our first appearance on the local news broadcast on the Day of Cupid was well before Evan's first appearance on Earth. 

We were excited lovebirds applying for our marriage license many years ago at the Clark County courthouse at 10pm (open 24 hours for your convenience), and we were featured on the local Nevada TV news program as we stood in line filling out the paperwork with hundreds of others silly enough to wait until the last minute to complete the application.

Why the cameraman singled the two of us out of the horde to feature in the brief video clip, sandwiched between the weather and local high school sports segment, is still a mystery to us, as frankly neither of us were very photogenic that night, especially after several adult beverages that preceded our visit downtown to apply for the license.  Maybe it was the looming deadline and he was in a hurry to capture something - anything - for the 11 o'clock broadcast.  Maybe he needed something humorous to air as a segue into 'Letterman'.

...What happens in 'Vegas doesn't necessarily stay in 'Vegas, though.  Sometimes it repeats itself hundreds of miles away...

We returned home after our nuptials.  The honeymoon would have to wait, as my new bride of two days was very excited to begin her new job - at the local county recorder's office, where she was assigned the task of assisting procrastinating lovestruck couples filling out - wait for it - marriage license applications, complete with the local TV news crew in the office, video cameras upon shoulders, satellite link on the peacock-imbued truck out in the parking lot.  So in the span of 3 days, she'd managed to be featured on TV news broadcasts in 2 different states for basically the same thing - being at the county courthouse at the wrong time - or - more precisely perhaps, being at the county courthouse on the over-commercialized day of roses and chocolates.

Fast-forward to today, when a school activity caught the attention of the local broadcast news station, featuring my spokesperson-son, pictured above, dressed in red tie-dyed shirt, red hoodie and lapel mic, to show unity and celebrate diversity with his classmates, to add meaning to Valentine's Day and form a giant red heart on the school campus, complete with aerial photography from a helicopter above, courtesy of the California Highway Patrol.

Leave it to my son to kick it up a notch or three.  His mom and dad were just in a courthouse filling out papers and we were on the news.  He was with his classmates trying to add meaning to an otherwise 'greeting-card' holiday.

Well done, Squid.  Well done.


An Afternoon Under The Big Top

Circus Vargas - Touring with their Big Blue Tent

It truly is a magical thing to see a century-old tradition of a real traveling circus kept alive by this troupe of entertainers - some 6th and 7th generation circus performers - who are all working together, some performing in the ring, some performing outside it working the rigging or making scene changes, but all focused on delivering a show to be enjoyed by everyone, without CGI or bad language or stuff so obnoxious you have to cover your kids eyes.

My wife and I attended last year when the big tent came to town, and this year attended again, bringing our son to his first circus.  The material was fresh, the tent was warm but not uncomfortable considering we're in the midst of a horrible heat wave, and the slushees were huge and turned everything they touched a bright clown-nose red.  Popcorn was flowing and flying, caught by the giant fans under the blue canopy, a perfect ambiance for what was to follow.  No spoilers - just some serious thrills and chills, belly laughs and beautiful choreography.

The performers are all warm-hearted and real people, and it was a kick when we realized the guy who sold us a toy outside the ring was their star trapeze man, pulling off a triple somersault.

The performers took the time and made themselves available after the show to sign autographs, pose for photos and talk about the show, and they did 3 shows that day!  Honestly I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon than under the big top with my family and this traveling band of gifted and giving performers.  I think we'll go again tonight!


Its Official: I'm Raising a Geek

From the moment I first saw my son, approximately 30 seconds after being surgically separated from his mom in a very traumatic 'Welcome To The World' filled with beeping machines, bright lights, hoses, wires, needles, masks, Betadine and Baroque Classics playing on a CD player in the background, I wondered as I sat surrounded by modern medical technology, in a dazed, deer-in-the-headlights sort of way, what the future would hold for him in the 21st Century.  I snapped photos on a newfangled digital camera and uploaded them to my weblog, with snippets of HTML running through my sleep-deprived synapses.  My dad has Kodachrome slides of my first moments in a carousel in the closet, rendered useless without the clicker.  I hoped that my beloved CompuServe would not be so prone to obsolescence.

That was in the summer of the new century, the year 2000, the year of the reluctant father and his new charge.  Through his first night as an independent being, he endured test after test, MRI scans, C-T scans, ultra-violet lights wrapped around his abdomen like he was a tiny pink-orange piggy in an eerie blue glowing blanket.  He had just experienced some of the most advanced medical technology available, his still-developing innards mathematically dissected slice by slice, for physicians to review and evaluate.  He wasn't 24 hours old and there were already digital images of him inside and out.

But I'm especially fond of the shots I took when he peed on the nurse for giving him a low APGAR score.

Meanwhile in my dazed bewilderment I learned about Bilirubin, making infant formula and changing diapers.  I discovered that you really DO squirt your wrist with the baby bottle, just like in the cartoons.  I learned that the discharge paperwork took more time than the whole lesson I got on taking care of this little infant put into my solitary care.  You see, his mom would stay in Intensive Care for another week, but the baby had to leave with me.  She still had to regain consciousness from her Morphine-induced coma before she would gaze at our new son for the first time.

As I walked to the car, holding this new little person in a battery-operated glowing blue blanket, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never held a baby before this.  Ever.

I strapped him in the car seat, routed the cables powering his ultraviolet personal tanning blanket and secured his tiny goggles to protect him from the 'Bili-light'.  I replayed the prior 20 hours again in my head, started the car and popped the 'Return to Pooh Corner' CD in the dash.  I cried.  I told myself it was just an allergic reaction to baby powder and shook it off.  I hadn't planned for this.  I hadn't planned on being a father for that matter.  I was too old for kids, and I didn't really like being around them.  I really needed my life partner with me right now.

I forced my thoughts back to my earlier quandry about the new millennium and what was in store for this 5 pound 14 ounce sleepy, glowing purple blob in the back seat, facing rearwards to avoid any projectile vomiting hitting the driver.  I needed to think about HIS future, a mental exercise to divert my remaining energies away from the thought of arriving home with no freaking idea of what to do next.

I knew he would grow up in a world that had already moved on from 8-track, 45 RPM, cassette 'mix tapes', VHS and Space Invaders.  He would not know life without a cell phone, a laptop computer, 300 channels of commercial-skipping TV, digital everything, cars that know where they are, how to get there and how far to the destination.  He won't chant "are we there yet" from the back seat - he'll simply glance at the monitor in center of the dashboard.

Technologically, his world would be far more advanced than mine was at his age, which upon reflection I realized is probably true for any child born at any time in history.  So - really his future and my postulating about it wasn't about what new gadgets the new century would bring, but rather what would my son find compelling, what would pique his interest.  What would be his 'wow' and his 'meh' - and would we find common ground?

I was terrified.  After all, he's a total stranger, and I'm quite shy by nature.  Would we get along?  Would we find the same activities entertaining, amusing?  Would he be 'mini-me' or 'mini-mom'?

Today, a decade plus two laps around the sun later, I know he'll be himself, with a bit of mom, and a bit of me, and a bit of his own spin on things.  But I have learned that I relish those times when I'm with him as he discovers an activity that I once enjoyed at his age, an endeavor that has him in its geeky grasp; playing with electrons, molten metal, dielectric constants and breakdown voltages, building something with knowledge and his hands that actually works!

All the memories of my confusion, apprehension and outright fear of fatherhood and its future came back to assault me as if triggered by a familiar but unpleasant odor, but yet dissipated in an instant, like smoke from a soldering iron.


Mom Arrested for Kids Playing, Sues Neighbor

In La Porte, Texas, it appears that a false claim of child endangerment is strong enough to trump obvious facts and has landed a suburban mom in jail for 'Felony Child Endangerment' and 'Felony Child Abandonment'.

A neighbor claimed to responding police that she had hit one of Tammy Cooper's 2 kids in the suburban cul-de-sac where they were playing on their scooters.  Despite no injuries reported or seen by the 'unnamed' police officer, and despite the fact that Mrs. Cooper was present and clearly supervising her children at play, 'unnamed officer' took Mrs. Cooper into custody and then the kids REALLY were abandoned, as she was locked up for 18 hours, and wound up paying over $7,000.00 in legal fees to get out.  She also had her children interrogated by Child Protective Services in Houston.  Charges were dropped, since there was no shred of truth that any endangerment or abandonment happened.  There is no word on any charges being brought against the neighbor for filing a false police report.

Mrs. Cooper is suing the La Porte, TX Police Department and her obnoxious neighbor, Shelley Fuller.  She also claims that the handcuffs aggravated previous injuries and she will now require back surgery.

The father was in Austin, TX on military duty.  I wouldn't want to be 'unnamed officer' when dad gets home!  Read the full article HERE.


Pomp and Circumstance and Junior High

Use #101 - Wiping Away The Tears of Joy and Pride

There were no caps or gowns.

There were some smiles, a few frowns.

There were lots of people staring.

The sun was hot, and glaring.

It was the last day of school, promotion.

From Sixth Grade to Seventh, The notion

of which had you scared, confused,

Bewildered, bemused.

You don't know what to do now.

Its summer, time to play now.

For in the fall you start

On a new adventure far apart

from the one that led you more than halfway there.

Dad is very proud of you, Evan.

You're more than halfway to being an adult.  You have a mind of your own that loves to learn, a passion for building things, and a heart that would give away everything he had if someone else would benefit.  Your mom and I are blessed that you are our son.

There are no more baby wipes left in the hall closet.  There are no more left in the cabinet under the sink.  You haven't needed them in years.  This blog was started to share stories of raising you, and now you're old enough to read them and understand their true meaning.  My work here is finished.