Showing posts with label Awkward. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awkward. Show all posts

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Today, we went swimming with old Austin Stay-at-Home Dads group friends that we haven't seen as much since Thumper started school last year, then went to their home to hang out and make s'mores. We saw them at a playground play date yesterday, and as we stood on the bridge over the pond throwing expired baked goods down to the ducks, Thumper told his longtime friend, "I'm so happy to see you again." So we made arrangements to go swimming together today, and he loved seeing those kids again, and meeting their new dog, and I loved chatting with their mom and catching up again.

After that, we went to another ASAHDs family's house for a multi-family pizza party. My kid ran around and around and around their circular layout apartment (that, apparently, LBJ and Ladybird occupied in the '30's), and danced, and played, and I sat around talking, and drank a beer, and everybody ate round after round after round of incredible little pizzas with carmelized onions, rich cheeses, tomatoes, peppers, and a crispy homemade crust. We talked, and laughed, and reminisced, and shared experiences, and enjoyed the kids enjoying themselves.

And it occurred to me that this has been the summer of reaching out for us. We're doing much with many people, and it's been very satisfying for both of us.We've been reconnecting with dads' group friends that we lost contact with over the school year. We've been discovering new friends, for both him and for me, and for Aerie. We've been swimming, and going to birthday parties, and exploring new places. We've been camping, and climbing, and jumping off of high places, and as much as I thought I was fine with my own little world, I've deeply appreciated the degree to which it's expanded this summer. You people, you're all so special. I've loved how much you've made me push my own boundaries and reject my own shy, introverted social awkwardness. Thanks so much for this wonderful summer, and I hope it keeps on keeping on, right through the new school year. Smoochie smoochies!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Living in Suburbia with a Sociable Child

I was interviewed this afternoon for a potential "featurette" or some such thing in a local fitness magazine. They're planning a Fathers' Day theme for their June issue and are focusing on my stay-at-home dads' group. The focus is dads staying fit with their kids. Or something.

With my up-and-down weight loss/gain history, I'm probably not the best guy to interview about staying fit, and I found myself answering her questions about how the group has affected my life with how I've learned to be more sociable and open to strangers. Much of that has to do with Thumper and his love of talking to anyone and everyone more than it has to do with the group, but some of it is related to meeting new people with a common thread to their choices and lifestyles. There is value in relationships developing from the "we are pre-made friends because we belong to the same group, so we might as well talk to each other" aspect of strangers coming together because of similar choices.

Perhaps some of it is living in a neighborhood with a relatively high percentage of resident owners vs. rental properties, where the same people see each other over the years walking, driving, checking the mail, swimming at the neighborhood pool. Perhaps some of it is Thumper entering the school system, and parents seeing each other again and again at school drop off and pick up, volunteering, and other school events.

But honestly, with no disrespect to friends and neighbors: I sometimes miss the complete anonymity of living childless in Boston. For my morning commute, I would put on headphones and sunglasses, put my nose in a book, and have absolutely zero expectation of engaging in small talk with strangers on the subway. I would go to the grocery store and never run into friends of friends or acquaintances. I was invisible, unknown, anonymous, and it felt safe. Secure.

It could be lonely, too.

Now I have friends, neighbors, acquaintances. I have a network of people that I sometimes help and that sometimes help me. We share childcare. Our kids play together in backyards and playgrounds. We get together for potlucks, drink beer, and watch our kids ride bikes and play the didgeridoo.

Well, OK, that didgeridoo thing's only happened once. So far.

Looking back on the play group, and the journey so far with my son who is so much more outgoing and confident than I remember being when I was a child, I've moved quite a distance from the awkward 13-year-old who was sure that everyone else in school was working with a script that he never received. I chat with strangers at the park. I make small talk with friends in the grocery store parking lot. I introduce my wife to the parents of Thumper's classmates that we run into at the pool, and my heart doesn't stop, the world doesn't end, I only want to hide a little bit, and everything is pretty much all right.

Invisible still appeals to me, though.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I AM Motherf***in' Civilized!

A fellow employee at the arena, after hearing me recount my story, told me, "You have to blog that!" Which reminded me that I have a blog and that I haven't touched it in, what, 2 months or more? So I thought this might be my entry back in to blogging. I like blogging. I do. I should do it more.

I worked a basketball game tonight, an exciting game whose result came down to the last minute of play. With about two minutes left in the game, a super fan, with his hair painted in the colors of his favored team, abandoned his seat and stood on the landing. We, as ushers, are required by the Fire Marshal to keep landings clear in case of evacuation, plus he was blocking the view of the dozens of fans behind him, so I dashed out to him, trying to stay low, and said, "Sir, you can't stay on the landing. Would you please return to your seat?"

"Yes," he said, and continued to stand there.

"We're required to keep the landings clear in case of evacuation," I said, "and the Fire Marshal is sitting right over there."

"Yeah, OK," he said, and continued to stand there.

"Seriously," I said, "You can't stand here. You have to go out onto the concourse or go back to your seat."

"Seriously!" he snapped. "Are you going to kick me out in the last two minutes?" But he went back up the stairs to his seat.

A moment later, he came down and sat in an empty seat further down. Then he stood in front of the seat. Then the patron sitting next to him, a man in his sixties or seventies, asked him to sit down so that the fans behind him could see. I couldn't hear what the super fan said, but the older patron quickly came down and exited, saying to me as he went by, "That guy's nuts. Really. He's completely nuts."

Next, with the game clock down now to about a minute left, another patron came down and informed me, "That guy told the guy that left that he'd motherf***in' kill him. I thought you should know. He's kind of out there."

"Oh," I thought. "That's why he left and called the guy nuts."

A few seconds later, the super fan came down, staring hard at me all the way, his brightly colored hair standing straight up. In the last minutes of the game, fans often accumulate in the portals (the doorways between the concourse and the seating area) torn between the urge to beat everyone else out the door to avoid the traffic snafus and the urge to see the end of the game. Two other fans were standing next to me, watching the last minute. The super fan stopped across from me in the portal, still glaring.

I said, "Did you really tell that guy that you were going to kill him?"

"Uh, no." He seemed a little taken aback. "I told him if he had a problem with me, I'd see him outside. He saw my kid slip on the stairs and said, 'Must be in the gene pool.' He's going to say that s*** in front of my kid, I'm going to take him outside! And you! You are so motherf***in' white!"

"Wow," I thought. "He, in his late twenties or early thirties, is going to call out a man in his sixties or seventies to have a fistfight in the parking lot?" But of course I didn't say that.

Instead, thinking of him blocking the sight lines of the other fans, I said, "Sir, I was just asking you to act like a civilized human being."

He exploded. "I am motherf***in' civilized! I am so f***in' civilized! My f***in' girlfriend has all of it on video! She has you on video! She has that other guy on video!"

After a few moments of uncomfortable eye contact between us, he thankfully stormed off onto the concourse. The two fans standing next to me both looked at me shaking their heads. One of them said, "The stuff you guys have to put up with."

So yes, I repeated this story a few times to co-workers tonight. "I knew I was white. I just didn't know that I was mother***in' white!" But my favorite facts were:

1) My fellow arena employee, on hearing the tale, wrote "I AM mother***in' civilized!" on a post-it note and declared it would be her new catch phrase.

2) The nut who accused me of being "so motherf***in' white!" was also white, and the two patrons who commiserated with me about "the stuff you guys have to put up with" were both black.

Some might take this as a tale of how awful the general public is. I instead choose to take it as an example of one end of the bell curve, evidence of how many people who come through our doors, and there are thousands after thousands after thousands, who do not behave like people who are biologically incapable of living successfully among other human beings. Wheee! This is why I love working the arena!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Like Norm at Cheers

I've often thought this over the past few years, but I'm feeling it more acutely since school started: Thumper is infinitely more confident and social than I was as a child. I did, and still sometimes do, my best to disappear, to fade away into invisibility, into obscurity. I wanted not to be noticed.

Thumper, however, walks into most rooms like he owns the joint. This morning a teacher, who was not his teacher, gave him an enthusiastic high-five and said, "Hi, [Thumper]! Did you have a good night?" A moment later, a little girl ran up to him and said, "Hi, [Thumper]!" He nonchalantly explained to her dad that she was in his class, and she excitedly told her dad that "this is [Thumper]! He's the funny one!"

I'm not sure where my own social awkwardness came from. Maybe from being the chubby, unathletic little brother of the tough, cool, athletic big brother, though certainly that wasn't his fault and he probably would argue the point, but such are the perceptions of children. I'm doing much better at not hiding these days, but it's still my default reaction. It fills my heart with joy, and hope, and pride, though, to see him make friends, both child and adult, seemingly effortlessly. The eternal hope of parents that their children will achieve more than they did seems almost inevitable with this kid.

Monday, July 16, 2012


At this moment, I'm in an expensive hotel in Miami Beach. I'm here because I'm attending DevCon, which is perhaps not as silly but perhaps just as nerdy as Comic-Con. I don't have much to tell you about this conference, except that I'm almost giddy with the opportunity. I never thought, when I asked, that my employer would actually pay for me to attend. I'm apparently consuming almost the entirety of my department's training budget to be here. The pressure is keeping me in attendance at all of the sessions and off the beach, which rumor has it is easily accessible out the back door of this hotel.

Because I must seek reimbursement for my travel expenses, and because I am less than 100% clear on the rules, limitations, and requirements for travel reimbursement, I am hesitant to spend any actual money here. This is a resort hotel, which translates in my mind to "expensive as hell," and I do not think "expensive as hell" translates well to expense reports when seeking reimbursement. So I'm trying my best to live on the cheap here. I took the "shared ride" option from the airport rather than the "private car" or "taxi" option.

And aside from the expense, which I suspect would not be fully reimbursed, on the few occasions that I get to travel outside of my own little white bread suburban world, why would I want to keep myself sequestered in the resort world, where a dinner not only costs me $40 or $50 but also keeps me well removed from the world I came here to visit?

So I considered, and I concluded that asking the working folk where they eat might be a good strategy. I asked the parking valets last night where I could find a cheap dive with good food. They hemmed and hawed, put their foreheads together, and suggested I walk down the road, across the bridge, and that way a few blocks. I took their advice and wandered off the resort hotel strip a ways. I've wandered that direction both days so far.

Last night, I was the only man at Asi's Grill and Sushi Bar that wasn't wearing a yarmulke. The shawarma laffa was delicious, and  stunningly huge. I ate the other half for breakfast this morning. Tonight, I was the only non-Spanish-speaking person at Latin Cafe. I love these moments when I suddenly become acutely aware that I am the minority. As a white man in the South, they don't happen often, but that awkward, frightening, exquisite realization is  delicious. Remind me to tell you about walking to Roxbury from my Emerson College dorm in 1991 to buy an audio cassette of a Malcolm X speech. With my freshly shaved head. Ah, brings a smile to my face just thinking of it.

Anyway: traveling. Childless. Good chance of getting fully reimbursed. I'm delirious with the thrill of where I am, what I'm doing, what I'm learning, and having the opportunity to miss my family. I can't wait to see Thumper and his Mama again when I get home, but I am relishing this chance to be me, by myself, for just a little while.

Oh, and I shouldn't tell you this, but I'm also naked. I'm spending almost all of my time in the hotel room naked. Apparently I like to shed my clothes when I'm completely alone. This goes back at least to (again) 1991, when I stayed in my ex-girlfriend's dorm room at Brandeis while she went home for the extended Thanksgiving weekend, when my Emerson College dorm closed and I couldn't afford to fly home. Why she let her ex stay in her room, I couldn't tell you. I suppose she was a kind and generous person, despite the fact that she dumped me. Yes, I spent most of that time in her room naked. She, being my ex-girlfriend, probably wouldn't appreciate knowing that, any more than you do now. You're welcome. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good Ol' Suburban Fun

Thumper and I have recently encountered a few times a mom and her two kids at our local. It cracks me up to think of our local playground as "our local," rather than our local pub. I don't know if we have a local pub. I don't even know if "the local" typically means the pub. I may have made that up. Or maybe I picked it up watching British comedy shows on PBS with my dad on Sunday nights when I was a kid. I don't know. Anyway. What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah. We've several times run into a very nice mom and her almost-three-year-old daughter and her just-turned-five-year-old son. Thumper adores the boy, declaring whenever we're going to the local that "I hope [that kid] is there. I think he goes to the park every day!" Well, he doesn't go to the park every day, but sometimes we succeed in running in to them.

On our second interaction, the mom wandered off with the daughter, keeping a close eye on her and leaving the son digging holes and making piles in the volleyball pit with Thumper and me. Soon, as is wont to happen with preschoolers, things degenerated, and her son was throwing sand two-fisted at Thumper and a younger boy. I said, "Hey! Stop throwing sand!" The kid paused, looking right at me and carefully considering whether or not he was legally or morally obligated to listen to me. I pointed right at him and said, "Yes, I'm talking to you!" And the battle was won, and the kid dropped the sand, and no corneas were scratched.

Being who I am, I of course had my moment of anxiety, wondering if she would come running, pointing a finger in my face and yelling, "Who do you think you are, telling my kid what to do?" But as is true of almost all of my social anxiety fantasies, I was way off base.

Instead, she left her son to my supervision. I ended up pushing him and Thumper in the swings while they talked about which specific superheroes they were as they flew into space on the swings. The mom wandered by and thanked me, and later, she invited Thumper to her son's birthday party. Her family had recently moved here, and while her son was on a baseball (and I think surely she must have meant T-ball) team, she didn't want to invite some of the teammates lest she offend someone, and she didn't want to invite all of the teammates because that would be too many kids. So she invited us because she liked Thumper, and she liked the "intellectual" conversations Thumper and her son had.

So, anyway, we went to the birthday party today. It was a new experience for me, because really, I almost never feel awkward or embarrassed about my Stay-at-Home Dad job. I can count on one hand the times that the "So what do you do?" conversation has come up, let alone turned awkward. And today it was almost two hours before that sentence was uttered. Still, the gender roles were clearly split, and I didn't feel comfortable in either place.

The moms were inside, sipping dark red wine and picking at hors d'oeuvres while the kids ran around like nutjobs. I sat down with them and introduced myself, and barely a half-dozen words were exchanged in the next 15 minutes.

The dad came in then, warmly introducing himself and saying, "You must be the guy from the park!" Yes, that's me. The guy from the park. He quickly put a beer in my hand and got me out to the backyard with the other men, where he was working on firing up the grill to cook sausages, chicken, roasted jalapenos, and hamburgers. I shook hands with several guys who were all perfectly nice to me.

And that's the thing. They were all more than hospitable, but they all knew each other, and none of them knew me. I didn't belong among the moms, and I didn't belong among the dads. I really belonged best amongst the kids, chatting more comfortably with the almost-three-year-old girl than I did with her dad. I suppose it's my own prejudice showing, but the country music, the golf shirts, and the conversations about the alcohol content of the beer, all left me feeling disconnected as much in the man zone as in the woman zone.

So when finally, one of the dads asked the dreaded question in an attempt to include me in the work-related conversation they were all having around me, I lied. Well, I didn't lie exactly, but I gave the answer that was most true to what I thought they expected to hear and least true to what my actual daily life is: "I do database work for [the major University Athletics department in town]." I didn't say "part-time." I didn't say, "I stay home with my son full-time." I let them believe I had a computer-related full-time job with a large and respected local employer.

Why? I don't know. I suppose I stereotyped them as badly as I thought they might stereotype me. Maybe they would have said, "That's great! I wish I could do that!" But I thought not. The host, though he declared that he loves a kid-friendly house, was spending more time in the backyard with dads than he was in the house with his kids. I was pretty sure that "I'm a SAHD!" would've been met with an uncomfortable silence, and I felt uncomfortable enough already. They were all nothing but nice, and still, I felt like this wasn't my place.

But Thumper, God love him, was perfectly in his element. There was food. There were kids. There were toys, and instruments, and stairs. He loves stairs. He would've stayed another week, I'm sure, if I'd let him.

Oh, yeah: thanks for inviting us to your birthday party! We had a great time! Your kids are awesome!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No One Expects the Feminist Inquisition!

Thumper and I are feeding the ducks at the pond near the playground. He notices a mom sitting on a park bench giving a baby wipe bath to a boy about his own age. He wanders over to chat while I keep throwing bread.

I glance over, and the mom is speaking animatedly. Thumper comes back over to me, wearing his angry face.

RODIUS: What's the matter, buddy?

THUMPER: She said I was "appropriate."

R: What did you say that was inappropriate?

T: I said maybe that boy didn't want to sit down.

R: Maybe you should let her worry about that boy and mind your own business.

T: OK. I think she's mean.

R: If she's mean, just stay away from her.

T: OK. I think she's mean. Maybe she's evil.

R: She's not evil, buddy.

We walk further along to the bridge and throw the rest of bread to the ducks. He's still mopey. When the bread's gone, he lays down and says he wants to go home. I pick him up, put him on my shoulders, and head towards the parking lot. The path takes us past the bench, where the woman is still wiping down her kid. Maybe he fell in the pond or something, I don't know. I decide to ask her what happened.

RODIUS: Excuse me. Did something happen? With my son?

NUTJOB: He just started smart-mouthing me. When I told him that was inappropriate, he said his dad was over there, so I told him maybe he should go back over there before I tell his dad what he said.

R: What did he say?

N: He was smart-mouthing me and exhibiting male chauvinist behavior.

R: Well, what did he say, so I can correct him?

N: He was being a chauvinist.

R: He's three.

T: He's showing off the behavior you've shown him.

R: Lady, I'm a stay-at-home dad. I'm showing him non-traditional gender roles. I don't think I'm a chauvinist.

THUMPER: Hey, Dad! Is she mean? Dad? Dad? Is she evil and mean? Dad? Is she?

N: Well he's calling me names right now, and you're not correcting him.

R: Thinking to myself, "I'm not entirely sure he's wrong..." I say nothing.

N: Asshole!

I decide this is a fruitless endeavor and walk on. We go to the bathroom. When we're walking out, she's walking past.

NUTJOB: Asshole! Have a nice day, asshole!

RODIUS: You're the only one using words like that. You realize that don't you?

N: flips me the bird and walks away.

THUMPER: What did she say, Daddy?

R: She called me a name that's not very nice.

T: I think she's mean. I think if she's going to call you a "werdernerder," she should call herself a "werdernerder."

R: You're right.

T: She's mean.

R: Yes, she is.

I swear that I did not exaggerate, embellish, or omit in order to make myself look blameless. I really have no idea what I could have done differently.

Some days it's not worth leaving the house.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I say that I live in Austin, but I'm actually in the suburbs outside of Austin. Austin is a unique, liberal oasis in the center of the conservative desert of Texas, if you're inclined to think of conservatism as a barren wasteland. I'm not; I was once conservative, though I have more liberal leanings now. But one way in which I never meshed with conservatism was in my religious beliefs.

A few days before Thumper was born, I wrote about how I was pondering his religious education. I have, in the intervening years, come to the conclusion that our conversations about religion will develop independently of my constant over-thinking. But I've noticed lately that here, in my suburban landscape, there are a lot of upper middle-class white folk who are surprisingly (to me) religious. They also make lots of babies. I suppose it's not surprising, ultimately, that there are good Christian breeders here in suburban Texas, but I've been feeling more and more in disguise lately.

"Vacation Bible School" (familiarly referred to as VBS) has repeatedly been suggested to me as a summer alternative for the boy, and church daycare and/or preschool is also a highly recommended solution, even from my south and central Austin friends who are not particularly religious. Apparently it's not uncommon for the agnostic or atheist parents to send their kids to church child care, and hey, they don't indoctrinate THAT much, anyway. The more time we spend at our suburban YMCA (which, Lord God, is a lot of time, because of the gymnastics, the swim lessons, the soccer, the child care while I work out, the cool pool with the splash pad, the free babysitting one Friday a month, the cheap babysitting two Saturdays a month... Well, it adds up to a lot of time, is what I'm saying...) the more I seem to find myself listening to conversations between mothers of four and five kids talking about the dilemma of either home schooling or sending their kids to private school, of church, and bible school, and bible studies, and backyard bible clubs. Forgive me if any or all of that should have been capitalized.

I was even invited to attend a backyard bible club, or Backyard Bible Club, or backyard Bible club, today. I didn't exactly or directly respond to the invitation and immediately felt the degree to which I am undercover out here in the suburbs. Religion is a dominant part of the lives of most of the moms that I've met through the couple of moms' playgroups to which I belong, and I do my best to fly under the God radar. I try not to talk about religion, because as far as I can tell, nothing good can come of such a discussion. At best, I will be stuck trying to explain myself, and at worst, Thumper will no longer be able to play with some of the friends he has made over the past year or two. Making friends has turned out to be one of Thumper's best skills, but still, I don't need to be burning any of his bridges.

So it turns out that, despite all my agonizing over the religious education of my child, I'm an anti-religion snob whose first reaction to the word "bible" is distaste, and there's no chance of me inculcating my child in Christ, though I recognize that growing up without faith is a disadvantage and that without early indoctrination, faith is virtually impossible.

Still, there's going to be bounce houses and ice cream at the Backyard Bible Club.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It Begins at Home, But It's Where It Ends That Worries Me

I've spent much of my life as a misanthropic intellectual, but since the arrival of Thumper, I've tried to reinforce the idea, for him and for me, that service to our fellow human beings has value for ourselves and our world. I don't do a lot, but I regularly give blood, and our family donates money where we can. I'm not above clicking on a "sign this petition" or a "send your Senator or Representative a letter" link, even if it does mean I'll start getting smug reply letters from John Cornyn, but one of the things we do that makes me feel best about myself is driving a Meals on Wheels route. It's easy, taking up about an hour-and-a-half of my life each week, but it makes me happy. And since we pick up the meals at a Senior Center, it means that Thumper gets the loving attention of several more grandmas in his life.

Some people have no interest in us, just opening the door to accept delivery and then closing it again, and that's fine with me. Some people on our route are very open and friendly, especially with Thumper, and invite us in to sit and chat and pet their dogs, which is also just fine with me. I've met a couple of very interesting and likeable people, and dogs, this way. We've been doing it since Thumper was 18 months old, and our Senior Center friends and our Meals on Wheels clients have known him for more than half his life.

I'm not particularly proud of how one of our clients makes me feel about myself, though. She's in her 80's, is disabled, and lives alone. She wants most of all to have someone to talk to, and there are days that we spend 20 minutes or more standing on her porch. There are some days when I just want to finish, to move on, so that we can have lunch. Sometimes I dread stopping at her house, and that dread makes me feel guilty.

Recently, though, she's begun to ask more of me. Perhaps because I've been willing to let her talk and tell the same stories over and over, and perhaps because Thumper is an adorable charmer, she's said how much she feels like she can trust me and what a wonderful job she thinks I'm doing with my son. So she's asked if I can help her out here and there. I've changed light bulbs for her. I've shopped for a portable DVD player for her so that she can watch Armageddon prophecy videos. She has talked about maids and landscapers and pest control techs who've treated her badly and stolen from her. She's asked me if I know anyone who can mow her yard and pick up the beer bottles her inconsiderate neighbors have thrown over her fence, help her around the house, and help her sort through and sell or donate her 80 years of accumulated belongings. I connected her with a couple that I thought would make a perfect match for her, but it ended badly, with them declaring her "impossible to please" and angrily extricating themselves from her life.

My former work history has demonstrated that I have a remarkable capacity for monotony and repetition, and I have a remarkable patience for dealing with difficult people with whom others have been incapable of dealing. I could be her lawn mower, and her sink de-clogger, and her Craigslist and eBay expert, and her confidante and companion. She's made it clear that she has money and wants very much to pay someone to be her man Friday. But at this point in my life, I really don't want to. The more I do for her, the more I am sure that she will ask, and I just don't want to be drawn in any more than I already have been.

Does that make me uncharitable?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stuff and Things

Wow, it's been a month since I posted, and I left a vague reference to a curse word up as my lead title all this time. For shame.

Things are tough over here, but not absolutely horrible. I've not been to the gym, until today, for nearly a month. I've also been eating crap and drinking excessively. Coincidentally, I've gained 10 pounds. Yay!

Speaking of going to the gym today, it was almost an hour and a half excursion. I began to feel like Odysseus attempting to return home. The surprising rainfall amounts from (I think; I'm too lazy to look it up and confirm) Tropical Storm Hermine as she moved up from the Gulf of Mexico and across Central Texas flooded several roads, leaving our local YMCA completely inaccessible. We approached from one direction; the road was blocked. We took the long way 'round to approach it from the other direction; the road was blocked. So we chucked it in and went to the other not-so-local Y. I hope the building didn't get flooded; the boy starts a gymnastics class there next week.

A month off, and by the way, I could barely run for 10 minutes, let alone a full hour. I best get my act together if I'm going to run in Warrior Dash in November.

So yeah, I'm a fat lazy bastard. I'm way behind on a copywriting project. Like waaaayyyyyy behind. My wife is working most of the time and still under coal-to-diamond pressure to solve unsolvable problems for her family, with the people she's trying to help not always being so nice to her. I'm hosting play dates here tomorrow and Friday, and I haven't finished cleaning my house.

Hmm. What else? Oh yeah, I got peed on by one cat shoving him into a cat carrier this morning and scratched by the other. One has a chronic UTI problem that's getting beyond old and more than expensive. The other is apparently allergic to his own teeth and has a rare viral infection that gives him the permanent runs. I spent $375 to maybe, or maybe not, find solutions to these problems. I think I'll do the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance.

Oh yeah, and then, what with my wife working 14-hour days and burning out her brain cells and feeling guilty about it, and then burning out her brain cells again the next day and feeling guilty about it, we decided to just go ahead and close the door on the second child thing and cut out the stress of the whole "Now? Later? How much later, 'cause we ain't getting younger? Can we afford it? How much bodily damage will a second pregnancy do?" conundrum. Hasn't seemed to reduce the stress much, but it has managed to make me pretty sad. Maybe adoption? Probably not. Doesn't feel like the right thing to me. But little babies sure is cute...

And so then bitching about it makes me feel like I should say: I know we're blessed. The boy is a marvel, a wonder, a joy. He held court at the vet's office today, cracking up staff and customers alike. But also: even that, I mean, Lord, he just. Never. Stops. Talking. I can't think straight talking to the vet about this med for that cat, and that med for that cat, and how often and how much because he's chattering non-stop and asking questions peppered with "Why?" every 10 or so words and climbing on the stool when I told him not to because he'll tip it over and hurt himself and then he almost tips it over and I can just see the chipped teeth and split chin and I snap at him and the vet looks all uncomfortable and I'm feeling guilty again.

Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah. Blessed. Wonderful. Lucky. And we are. But man. So much for not complaining.

Friday, July 9, 2010

More Awkwardness

I'm not sure how to write about this now. I think I've been looking at things from the wrong direction. I've thought of play groups as something good for Thumper, something that helps him learn how to interact with other people, and maybe get some potty training motivation from seeing other kids pause the action while they go pee. I have also thought of it as something good for me, as ideas for destinations and activities when I run out, as pleasant conversation. I had several expectations for the dads' group when I first joined, with almost none of them actually approaching reality. I thought I would find ideas for ways to supplement Aerie's income; I did not. I thought I would find conversations and message board posts about approaches to solving difficulties I was having. But dads don't talk much. They sit in companionable silence. They talk about possible solutions to inexplicable noises coming from rear brake drums. And fishing. And sports. And they tell dirty jokes.

Don't get me wrong; there are a few great guys in the dads group whose company I enjoy and whose parenting I admire. I've had pleasant times and even great times over the past few years. But I haven't made fast friends, and I haven't found the regular, core group of kids that Thumper can play with again and again, learning how to navigate personality conflicts when everyone's not on their best behavior because they've just met. One obstacle is the large size of the group and the large size of the geographical area over which they're spread. The bigger obstacle is the apathy the dads have towards getting their kids together to play.

So I joined the couple of moms' groups thinking I'd have better luck finding friends for Thumper, but not really expecting to find friends for me. I have never minded being the only man on the playground. Moms have always been surprisingly friendly and accepting of me, especially with Thumper's outgoing nature. But I didn't anticipate, when I joined the moms' groups, the frequency of the in-home play date versus the playground/pool/sprinkler park play date. I tried twice to host in-home play dates for the dads' group. When Thumper was almost 6 months old, I hosted. I was apparently a little nervous. It went well, but it didn't turn into a relationship, either for me or for Thumper, and it would be another 2 years before I hosted another. Again, it attracted only one dad and one kid. The kids had fun; I had fun. But I haven't seen the dad, or the kid, since, at playgrounds or elsewhere.

Since joining the two moms' groups, though, we've been to 3 in-home play dates, a birthday party, and a baby shower, on top of many playground, pool, and sprinkler park dates. That's five times in a couple of months that we've gone to other people's homes, along with sometimes large and sometimes small groups of other kids and parents. Thumper loves these play date so much that he has not yet managed to leave one without having a screaming, hysterical fit. It is a cruel injustice that so much fun ever has to end.

For me, though, the in-home play dates add another layer of social awkwardness. Not just with the unselfconscious breastfeeding, but with all sorts of aspects that don't generally come up at the playground. I want to make sure my kid doesn't make a mess and shares and has good manners and covers when he coughs and doesn't club any babies or big-screen TVs with a baseball bat, lest my male parenting style be judged inferior. I want to make sure I participate in food prep or cleanup to the degree that's appropriate, not too much to be overbearing or annoying but not too little, either.

And conversation, especially at the baby shower, just takes turns that seem to leave me behind. When one mom asks the showeree how much weight she's gained, and the showeree says, "Oh sure, bring that up in front of everybody..." I feel like maybe I'm overhearing something I shouldn't, or that I'm the particular everybody it shouldn't have been brought up in front of. When birth stories were shared, with so many hours spent to reach so many centimeters dilation, I just never felt the natural opening in the conversation to talk about Thumper's birth, and transverse breach and c-section. It felt like I'd be intruding.

And then Bingo was played, and I was invited, and I played. I misheard the prize, though, thinking that the winner would watch the showeree's 3 1/2-year-old some day soon so that she could go out and watch the latest Twilight movie in peace by herself before the baby comes. I won at Bingo, tying with another of the moms, and it was explained that the prize was two other moms watching the showeree's and the winners' kids so that we could all go enjoy Edward and Jacob together. It suddenly seemed too much like a date to me, and I mumbled something about what I thought the prize was and wandered away. At the end of the shower, one of the moms who'd offered to do the kid watching reminded the other winner of Bingo that she was obligated to go see the movie whenever the showeree wanted, but she never looked my way, and I felt kind of stupid. And kind of relieved.

And when people began to leave, and the showeree was hugged, I filled one arm with my big bowl of fruit salad and the other with my big toddler so that I wouldn't wonder if I was supposed to hug too, or not. But still, it seemed like the hug could've happened, if I'd tried, but I didn't, and I wondered if she felt snubbed, or felt like I was oddly reserved, or if the hug, if I'd attempted it, would've been even more awkward, especially since I'd filled my arms with cargo.

And then, when I got home, I saw a Facebook Status Update that made it clear that one of the breastfeeding moms had found my blog, and I remembered that, though I'd originally intended to keep my blog anonymous and separate from my Facebook, I'd had second thoughts. I couldn't recall if I'd actually added as my webpage in my Facebook info, or if I'd just thought about adding it. Turns out I had actually added it. And my imaginary online life collided with my real life.

It didn't sound like she was offended, though maybe her husband was. Hard to tell. But what struck me from what she said about the whole thing was: I am probably making up all of this awkwardness all by myself. If I feel like I'm standing on the outside, unincluded, it's probably because I'm standing on the outside, not participating. I have been very careful not to offend, not to overstep my bounds, whatever those bounds might be to whoever might be keeping score. And who knows how my own reserve is interpreted by these perfectly nice people who've invited me into their homes.

I wonder how old I'll be when I finally stop acting like that awkward teenage boy who was pretty sure that everyone else was working with a script he never got?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It Doesn't Really Feel Like Emasculation, But It Is Kind of Odd

I'm spending part of my evening tonight making a big bowl of fruit salad to take to the first of two baby showers that I'll be attending over the next three days. I haven't been to a baby shower ever in 38 years, but after joining two moms' play groups, BAM! Two in a row. For the first, the entire play group was invited, and I thought, "Oh, they don't really mean me. That would just be awkward." But then I was explicitly, specifically invited and encouraged to attend.

I even tossed the apple chunks in lemon juice to prevent browning.

I guess the second shower doesn't really count, because it's for BFF and his girlfriend, and it's being billed more as a celebration than a shower, with gifts not necessary, but still. It's a shower. My second in three days.

There are clear differences in how the moms' groups and the dads' groups operate. For instance, the moms show up in numbers, and the dads show up in ones or twos. The moms host play dates in their homes, and the dads stick to the playgrounds. The dads venture all over two counties, and the moms return to the neighborhood playgrounds again and again.

The biggest difference, though, and perhaps the most disconcerting? In a couple of years of dads' group play dates, breastfeeding has never come up. Not once has a bare breast suddenly appeared in the middle of a conversation. With the moms, it's happening with somewhat alarming frequency. I like to think of myself as a hip, modern man with no philosophical objections to breastfeeding in public, and I like to believe that there's nothing erotic about the use of the breast for the sustenance of children, but somehow, when I'm having a pleasant conversation with a woman and she suddenly pulls her top down, it's a little distracting. I think I'm playing it off okay, but it sends my brain into a little bit of a spin. Should I just not look at her, pretend to be fascinated by what Thumper's doing over there on the other side of the room, even though she's still talking, and talking to me? If I don't look, does that make it even more obvious that I'm discombobulated? Can I continue to ignore that one voice in the back of my head that's yelling, "It's a boob! It's bare! Look at it!" and still hold eye contact?

And am I glad, or maybe just a little bummed out, that I'm so non-threatening that these moms seem to give not a second thought to whipping it out in front of me?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Comfortable in my Manhood, Except at a Shower

Now that I'm cheating on my dads' group with a neighborhood playgroup that's comprised almost entirely of moms (excepting one other dad that I haven't yet met because he hasn't showed up to anything), it's becoming apparent that gender is not quite as inconsequential as I might have thought. Being the self-confident and progressive male that I am, and having often been the only dad on the playground these past nearly-three years, I thought joining a moms' group would be no big deal. And mostly it is, but now and again it does make for some awkward moments.

I finally got a reply from the first moms' group I tried to join, one that actually has the word "Moms" in its name. Six weeks or so after I requested membership at the suggestion of a couple of the group's members, one of the administrators of the group replied at last and said, "no, thanks, sorry, but we decided a long time ago that we would be moms-only so that none of our members would be made uncomfortable by the presence of men, but best of luck to you and if you'd like tips on starting your own group, I'm happy to help." By then I'd already joined the small, local playgroup, so I felt only mildly annoyed by this reply and its long time in coming.

The local group is small, with a core of regular attendees whose company and children I quite like. I've had fun chatting with them while forcing Thumper to share and be nice and not hit and not throw playground gravel. For the most part, they are friendly and inclusive. We've been invited to three birthday parties already. But there are two moms that seem particularly reserved around me, despite Thumper's apparently-not-irresistible charms. Maybe they're just slow to warm to new people. Maybe it's not personal. Maybe it's not gender-related. But somehow I get the feeling that it is. I don't know. They seem more formal, more guarded, than they are with the other moms. That is, "with the moms;" not "with the other moms."

Also, I find there are conversational turns that leave me behind. At a birthday party yesterday, a pregnant mom who has been very accepting of me was sitting next to me eating birthday cake. She suddenly said, "Oh!" and put a hand to her side, then awkwardly said, "Sorry," when I smiled at her.

"The baby likes cake, huh?" I said. "Yes," she replied, then turned away from me and started a conversation with the mom next to her on the other side about breach positions and gestating babies' punches and kicks and what foods seem to inspire the most activity. It was a conversation I felt like I could have participated in, having lived with a pregnant woman whose baby was transverse breach and who shared her affinity for coffee-flavored ice cream. But body language seemed to make it clear that this was lady talk, and the door was closed. Ah, well.

This morning, I got an email that this same mom sent to the group, asking for mailing addresses of all the members interested in attending the baby shower her mother is throwing for her. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I am, in thinking that traditionally baby showers are strictly for the females. I was reminded of Aerie's wedding shower. Her family surprised her with it by getting us to come to her aunt's house for I think a cousin's birthday party or something like that. When we got there, and it turned out to be a shower, my future brother-in-law earned my eternal gratitude, rescuing me from having to sit through a parade of housewares, home d├ęcor, and lingerie by taking me out to drink beer and shoot pool, a manly inoculation against such girly pursuits. So receiving an invitation to attend a baby shower at which I presumably would make the other attendees feel as awkward as I would feel myself, I quickly, and I hope politely, declined.

So, yeah, being part of a moms' group is mostly good and sometimes weird. At least they show up to play dates regularly, though.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Physical Therapy

There are at least a couple of reasons I'd love to blog about my evening at the arena, but I won't because I'd rather not be dooced. Things were said that should not be repeated, as much as I'd like to repeat them. So instead, I'll tell you about my physical therapy.

I just finished my third of four weeks of physical therapy for "rotator cuff tendonitis," probably resulting from repeatedly hoisting my giant toddler son onto my shoulders when he doesn't feel like walking in a straight line. It wasn't a tear, but might eventually have torn if I'd kept up the same activity without trying to make a change.

Most of my physical therapy is about "engaging my core" (man, I hate abdominal exercises) and adding back and upper body exercises to strengthen all of my other muscles so that the annoyed part of my shoulder can get a little help and a little rest. If I'm stronger everywhere else, that one spot in my shoulder won't be left to do all the work while my other muscles relax and have a cappuccino.

As much as my shoulder, though, my physical therapist is intent on fixing my posture. Apparently, I'm well on my way to walking around like a Mystic from the The Dark Crystal. On first meeting me, my physical therapist asked, "Your wife is much shorter than you, isn't she?" Yes, both of the two most important people in my life, with whom I interact most, are shorter than I am, such that I spend a good part of my day looking down. And it shows in my posture. Supposedly my ear is supposed to be directly above my shoulder and not several inches in front. Who knew?

So my posture exercises are: pelvis tilted and abdominals engaged, as if I'm about to be punched in the stomach. Shoulders back, but not raised. Chin down and back, so that my ears are in a straight line over my shoulders. The result is sort of roosterish. While I worked tonight, in a spot that was exceptionally boring where I spent most of the evening sitting and staring at a wall 8 feet in front of me, I practiced my posture exercises. I'm sure I looked ridiculous. There is nothing natural about this posture. Also: chin down and back is not a comfortable position for someone who grew a beard specifically to help de-emphasize his double chin, thank you very much. But my physical therapist, who has called me her "star pupil" and gushed about my progress, would be proud. I'm trying, people; I'm trying.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

So I've been to a few doctors lately, and whatnot. I'd love to tell you more about the conversation Thumper had with one of them, but it would be wrong. You wouldn't respect me in the morning. Seriously, when I recounted it to Aerie that night after the boy had gone to bed, we both laughed out loud in a particularly "we can never tell anyone about this" sort of way. Good times. I'd bet money that doctor told his wife about it when he got home.

But (one part of) the upshot of all is that I'm in physical therapy now for my long-standing shoulder injury, which the physical therapist believes is a result of me hoisting my giant toddler over my head to carry him on my shoulders several times a day. She thinks maybe I should quit doing that for a little bit of a while.

One good thing is that most of the physical therapy is about strengthening all of my other muscles, particularly my back and "core" (read, "abdominal muscles") so that my left shoulder won't have to compensate for all of its brethren throughout the rest of my body every time I pick the two-year-old-that-everyone-mistakes-for-a-four-year-old up.

So, anyway. I'm finally diversifying my workout routine to include a wide range of upper and lower body resistance exercises, as well as sit-ups and crunches and a yoga ball, etc. All stuff I've known about, considered, and put off. So maybe this stabbing pain in my shoulder will help me get over the hump and actually start losing weight again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It Had to Happen Eventually

Last night, after I'd already read him his books, sang him his song, and gave him his kisses, Thumper suddenly appeared in the living room, unannounced. He was a teary, panicked mess, sobbing, "I dropped my cloth!"

When he was a tiny baby, we used old-fashioned organic cloth diapers as spit-up rags; he became very attached to them, and to this day snuggles with them when he is tired or anxious. I don't think his panic was entirely about the cloth, because he had 4 of them in his bed with him, and though he lost one, there was still an armload of them left for him to cuddle with. I suspect he had some kind of bad dream, and when he woke and tried to recover from it, he dropped a cloth out of reach behind his crib, lost his mind, and climbed right out of his crib for help.

So I calmed him, rocked him, and when he was ready, put him back to bed, and he was just fine for the rest of the night. Now, though, it's nap time, and I'm kind of jumpy. I knew that some day he would figure out that he was capable of leaving his bed any time that he wanted, and part of me is surprised that, with his climbing skills, it took him this long. The other part of me thinks it's too soon. Now, every sound I hear makes me stop and listen. Is it him? I just know I'm going to be working away and jump out of my skin when from directly behind me he suddenly says, "I want my milk!"

And it's just my opinion here, but I think 2 1/2 is much too soon for me to have to have the "Mama and Daddy were just wrestling" conversation with him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I Should Not Speak to Strangers

I wonder about names. Do they come in waves, and how? How is it that we thought Tucker and Connor and Noah would be unusual names we might bestow on our baby boy, only now to discover that every time we go to the playground Tucker, Connor, and Noah are all taking turns on the slide or throwing sand at each other in the sandbox? Were the names already prevalent, and that's how we came to become attracted to them, though we didn't notice? Or does a whole generation of parents all simultaneously decide that Noah would be cute? And to what degree is Dr. Carter directly responsible?

Anyway, I've decided I need to shut up already and stop telling parents that "we almost named our son __________________." Why? Because somebody finally asked me, "Really? Why'd you change your mind?" And I couldn't think quickly enough of an answer that wasn't, "Because we thought he might not like the other kids at school calling him Tucker the F**ker."

Friday, October 2, 2009

When She Left

I can still recall that surreal, disconnected, floaty feeling, not unlike the scene when Eddie gets cheated by Hatchet Harry and just sort of wanders out, then pukes in the street. Yeah, kind of like that.

I walked through the neighborhood, and every white car on the horizon was our car returning home, bringing her back home.

I remember my brother, who came when I called him, sitting with me, not talking about it, then sort of talking about it, and telling me, "If it was me, I'd fight." And suddenly realizing that I could fight or not fight, that I could let it be over, or I could try. It was entirely up to me. And I chose to try.

And things were bad, and things got better, and I learned that there is no happily ever after and you never hit the point in a marriage when you can stop working at it.

Now people we love are floating in that same boat, and the Mrs. has gone over while I stay here with the boy. I hope she can be what my brother was for me: a comfort and a sounding board. I wish both parties well, and I hope they can both find what they're looking for. I hope they can fight if they want to fight, and let go if they want to let go.

By the way, Big Brother: I know you don't read this, but your wife does. I hope I told you some time how much it meant to me that you came over. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I WON'T Get Haircut!

Thumper's all about asserting his will these days. Almost anything Aerie or I suggest is met with, "I WON'T _________!" Today, it was, "I WON'T get haircut!" A couple of weeks ago, when we were posing for the SAHD's Group Photo, he would only cover his face and say, "I WON'T take picture! I WON'T take picture!" He won't brush teeth; he won't change diaper; he won't sit on da potty; he won't pick a book; he won't drink milk; he won't cottage cheese. Funny, though; he never says no to popsicles or ice cream.

So, anyway, the header photo was going to be my before haircut shot, with an after to follow. But he still WON'T take picture! My status update to Facebook this morning, which apparently evaporated into thin air, never to be seen again, was:

"I WON'T get haircut!" We'll see, little man. We'll see.

Well, we did see, and it turns out he was right. He WON'T; he WOULDN'T; he DIDN'T.

We went to Sharkey's Cuts for Kids today, which offers two-year-old boys haircuts for $18.95, I think the lady said when I called, which is $8 more than his last barber shop haircut. But we had a coupon for $5 off, and I thought it'd be nice to give him a fun experience after sticking him in the car all morning for our Meals on Wheels route.

We walked in, and there was no one around. He saw the Barbie Jeep barber seat and went straight for it. It looked to him, I'm sure, just like the coin-op rides at the mall that I never put money in but let him climb all over. He was doing his best to climb up into it when one and then another of the employees appeared from the back. They both descended on him, since we were the only customers in the joint. I tried to tell them to back off a bit and let him ease into it himself, but they were determined to get right in his face and offer him a lollipop and cartoons on the TV and an XBOX controller and show him how all the buttons on the various car-shaped barber seats made their engines rev and their horns honk. They also tried to redirect him from the Barbie Jeep to the Ferrari, which I thought was pretty funny.

And of course, being the kid who's convinced that lifeguards are out to get him, the harder they tried, the more nervous and upset he was. The more nervous and upset he was, the harder they tried. It was a doomed proposition from the beginning and ended with us leaving, sans haircut. Oh well. I guess when he wakes up from his nap, I'll try the clippers. But he probably WON'T stand for that, either.

Monday, May 11, 2009

An Informal Introduction

For those of you keeping score, first I freaked out because my longtime friend discovered and was enthusiastic about Landmark Forums. Then I thought well, hey, maybe he's getting over it. But he didn't really. He periodically calls me as part of finishing another seminar or invites me to attend one. At one point, he told me he didn't want me to do it just for him, only if I wanted to, at which point I said, well, I don't. And I thought that was the end. But it wasn't.

He offered two sessions at his home of an "informal introduction" to Landmark. He offered food. He offered child care. He offered two different dates. So I said, sure, I'll come to one. And I did. I still have no interest in Landmark, but I thought if I finally actually attended a Landmark event, he'd stop asking me. And this one was free, so I'd never have a better opportunity.

I was nervous, because I had no idea what to expect. Would there or would there not be a professional "facilitator?" Would I be the only one to show up?

I went early, for lunch. He grilled squash from his garden and burgers not from his livestock. We chatted. He's added two emus and a beehive to his little farm. The emus are supposed to be protective, driving coyotes and other predators off from the chickens, sheep, and goats. He borrowed a donkey for awhile for that same purpose, but it was noisy and under-appreciated by his neighbors.

Then two guys showed up. They turned out to be the volunteer facilitator and the volunteer assistant to the facilitator, who didn't say much but was there to keep the facilitator "on script" and on time. Hmm. And then, thank God, another of BFF's friends showed up, someone I'd never met before but who turned out to be friendly, outgoing, and talkative. I wouldn't be the only one in the probing glare of the bright Landmark lights!

So how did it go, and what was said? Oh, I don't know. Before I went, I thought I was going to do this whole big blog entry about it, but I don't know if it's worth the energy. I don't feel like it's quite as culty as I originally did. It's certainly big business, though. What's most amazing about it is the fervor it creates in its (members? followers? attendees?). The facilitator and his assistant insisted that they were there on a volunteer basis, receiving no compensation or incentives for being there. The facilitator was passionate, as was BFF. Even the nearly-silent assistant to the facilitator opened up at the end with an extremely impassioned speech about the power of Landmark and how it has changed his life.

So what's the gyst of it?

"In this giant pie chart, this little sliver is what you know you know. This little sliver is what you know you don't know. And THIS giant chunk is what you don't know that you don't know."

"Your past has nothing to do with who you are. Your past has nothing to do with your future.... If your past has nothing to do with your future, then why does your future look exactly like your past? Because you are living your past into your future."

"You are hearing and seeing everything through filters that you have installed over a lifetime of experiences."

"On day three, we teach you a technique for completing your past and taking it out of your future and putting it back into your past."

"Create a possibility for yourself. Become that possibility."

etc., etc. Essentially harmless pop-psych aphorisms that under a three-day intensive pseudo-group-therapy experience that's guided by a strong and doubt-free personality, with lots of shared stories of pain and humiliation, personal epiphanies start popping around the room like flash bulbs and many people begin to believe that they've lived through a powerful experience.

Since my first exposure to Landmark two years ago, I can't helping thinking of Sybok whenever I think of Landmark. Of course, you know who Sybok is, right? Of course you do. He's Spock's half-brother, the one who hijacked the Enterprise in Star Trek V in order to fly it to go meet God. He builds an army of followers by freeing them of their pain. If you're an impatient sort, jump to about 2:10.

Even Dr. McCoy becomes a devotee after being forced to share his memory of being unable to cure his father and subsequently euthanizing him. By sharing his pain with Sybok, he becomes free of it. But Kirk won't give in. He insists that his pain is his own, part of what defines him, and he doesn't want to be free of it.

Or something like that. I'm going on my memory of a movie I saw 20 years ago. Anyway, that's Landmark. I participated in the shortened version of the Forum that was the "informal introduction." I was honest in sharing something personal. I explored it through their worksheets and discussions just as they wanted. And then I didn't register. I told them that Landmark's heavy focus on recruitment made it suspect in my eyes. I told them that to me, that kind of personal exploration and discovery was part of a lifetime's journey and couldn't be achieved over a weekend. I told them I didn't think there was a magic pill for freeing oneself from one's less-pleasant memories. I told them I quit my job and don't have hundreds of dollars to blow on a self-help seminar.

They told me that yes, the recruitment aspect puts a lot of people off. They told me it wasn't a magic pill, it was a set of tools. The assistant facilitator told me, and yes those quotes are intentional, it was "the quickest and easiest path to spiritual evolution." I did not tell him that to me, "quick and easy" and "spiritual evolution" aren't compatible concepts.

So there you go. With this technique, I am completing my experience with Landmark and putting it into my past.
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