Friday, February 20, 2015

now and then.

In thinking about the things that I love, meaning interests or hobby-type things, nothing has changed for me in over 35 years.

I'm basically the same person that I was when I was five.  I'm a little grayer now, and obviously a bit wiser, but the foundation was properly set at an early age and there's no reason to fix it.

At five years-old, I could be found traipsing the banks of Montauk or Roaring River searching for trout.  Arriving at the river before dawn with my grandparents and staying out 'til dusk, figuring out ways to net as many rainbows as possible.  I believe by age 11 or 12, I had a personal best of 36 in one day--just ten short of my personal White Castle intake record.

To this day, my favorite activity on earth is exploring a river or lake, catching fish all day long.  Always will be.

When I was five, like most kids at that time, I liked superheroes and therefore "collected" comic books.  "Collected" is definitely a loose term.  I looked at the pictures, cut them up for homemade art projects, spilled Black Cherry Kool-Aid on them, and lost them in a ditch in front of my buddy's house.  Not necessarily in that order.

I donned my Superman cape that mom sewed me and jumped off of our well house on a weekly basis.  I flew for about 1.5 seconds.  I ripped up my pajama bottoms to look like the Hulk's, and busted through the screen door.  Turned out not to be a great idea.  I would put on my Spider-Man Underoos and scale the door frame between the kitchen and living room.

I don't do any cosplay these days, but I'm still a giant superhero nerd.  My comic book collection is impressive, if I do say so myself.  I love the colors, the art, the pop culture history, and the feeling of being a 5 year-old with a vibrant imagination.  Some folks think I'm incredibly immature because I geek out on these books the way I do.  That's okay, I actually like it.  It reminds me that things don't have to be so serious all the time.  It keeps me young, imaginative, and creative.  And although I am a 41 year-old comic book collector and you're not, I'm still cooler than you are.

I mention this quite a bit, and it's been a topic of my ramblings lately.  Mainly because the first Spring Training game happens in exactly two weeks.  Yes, Cardinals Baseball.

I don't need to explain again how deep Cardinals Baseball runs in my family.  Just know that it does, and it will continue to for decades.  Now go trade for Hamels, ya dinguses.

Me and my Granny, circa 1979 at Montauk State Park.  Trout fishing, Spider-Man shirt-wearing, and Cards Baseball on the radio.  Only difference now...Granny's there in spirit and I drink Scotch. 

Sure, I've expanded my horizons over the past 35 years or so.  I enjoy trying new things, going new places, and the like.  My minor interests tend to fluctuate a bit, just like anyone's.  But I'm happy that I've gotten to enjoy so many constants in my life that I have.  

I hope my daughter, Ruby, is able to find things she loves early in life.  Be it swimming, drawing, singing, or whatnot.  Right now her main hobby is shitting herself.  She gets that from me.

My lovely wife accepts my obsession.  The obsession of the Cardinals and crooked aviators.
Rick taught me how to fly fish.  I am now better than he is.

Nerd family Halloween, 2014.  As close to cosplay as I've gotten since 1979.

If it ain't broke...


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday Morning.

What's on my mind, you ask?  Thanks for inquiring.

I think about food, probably more so than your typical joe.  I really like the "idea" of knowing where my food has come from.  I put idea in "quotes" because who really knows, unless you grow it yourself, kill it yourself, or know someone down the street who does the dirty work for you.  I don't necessarily trust Safeway or McDonalds--I believe their marketing departments are paid to make us feel like we're eating consciously or healthy.  They tip-toe around the ripening chemicals and hormones.  Not to mention whatever goo fast food guys use to supplement their actual food.  I'm not going to preach, because frankly I don't know enough about what's going on with my food other than what I've read or watched.  Haven't seen anything firsthand.

With that said, I am sincerely attracted to the practice of knowing where my food comes from.  Not necessarily religiously reading labels and tracing it back, but rather growing vegetables and butchering meat.  But here's the sad part: I don't care for the types of people that are associated with that practice.  I don't care for the uppity, rich, granola, Boulder trust funding housewife that constantly judges everyone else about their eating and food purchasing habits.  Not everyone can spend four hours and $400 a week at Whole Foods.  I'm also not a fan of hippies that are so adamant about "grass fed", "free range", "hormone free", "gluten free", and everything else they claim to be healthy...but then they refuse to wash their bodies.  Then you have the hipsters.  Doing everything "olde timey" because it's fashionable.  I think it's funny that being a man is fashionable.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to eat real food.  The mafia, or whoever has the monopoly on America's food industry, has to make a lot of food, fast.  And I'm afraid it's turned into more of a science experiment than just growing food and selling it.  Small farms that do things the right way are pretty few and far between.  I believe it to be a noble profession to be a butcher or a farmer, and do things the way they used to be done.  Just don't do it for fashion's sake.

Right now, my job is to raise my daughter.  I'm incredibly proud to say that.

The company I was working for up until right before Christmas went belly up, so I am currently a stay at home dad.  I still feel weird about saying that.  It's like I'm admitting to being happy that I'm unemployed, which I'm really not.  The writing was on the wall at my old employer--April and I knew that I (along with the dozens of other employees) was going to be jobless at a certain point this winter.  So we were prepared to prepare.  April was on maternity leave, and just recently went back to work right around the time the shit hit the fan at my work.  So with my mom helping out watching the baby for a couple weeks between the transitioning time, the timing has worked out well.  April and I basically just switched spots.  Now she's working and I'm on paternity leave.

I don't want to call it "leave" though--I don't want it to sound like it's not work.  It's not a vacation.  It's a lot of work...exhausting by the end of the day.  And the term "stay at home mom or dad" should not have the negative attachment to it that I believe it does.  Just because a parent stays at home to raise their child does not make them lazy or does not mean that they don't contribute.  It's a job.  How much do they get paid?  How ever much daycare costs.

I realize a lot of folks don't have much of a choice--they have to send their kid to daycare because they count on two incomes.  We do too, so I'll be going back to work eventually.  But we're trying desperately to figure out a way to avoid shipping our daughter off to daycare.  It has its plusses, I'm sure.  The kids get to socialize more, and might therefore become more independent, or independent faster.  Hell, I don't know.  In my mind, the negatives greatly outweigh the plusses, but I've got to convince myself that they don't in preparation for sending Ruby there every day.  Frankly, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me to pay someone a lot of money to help raise your child on a daily basis.  In certain situations, obviously.

Point is, I have never loved anything or anyone even remotely close to as much as love this baby.  It wasn't easy getting her here, and it saddens me to think about shipping her off to a stranger five days a week when I've wanted dearly to be a parent for the last 10 years.  That's all.

Speaking of children, let's talk about Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  My daughter is enamored with this show.  She has been for as long as she's been able to focus on objects and sounds.  Not much makes her more happy than the beginning song of that show.  It's fun to watch her get so damn excited and kick and squeal.  But the show is kind of creepy.  It's a spin-off of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which was pretty creepy in itself.  But Mr. Rogers wore pants, the animated characters on this show do not.  Actually, the weird part is that some of them do, some don't.  Daniel Tiger's mom wears pants, along with a shirt, and shoes.  Daniel Tiger and his dad wear shirts (or zip-up hoodies with nothing underneath, I should say) and shoes, but no pants.  So at this point it's clearly a decision the males in this family make.  In this make-believe land, Tigers are like humans.  They walk upright, they speak, they go to school and work, they live in a house, they eat vegetables, and they befriend human counterparts instead of stalk them and kill them.  Essentially, Tigers are humans, along with Cats and Owls, and coexist with humans daily.  They have dinner parties, their children play together, they have sleepovers.  Animals and humans are the same.  Except, the human men are fully clothed.  The Tigers are partially clothed, which creates creepiness for me.

The Owls are nude, except for shoes.  I'm cool with that.  The feathers cover up any naughty parts, and I think we're all kind of used to nude birds.  Daffy, Donald, Big Bird.  You want to put shoes on them?  Fine.  The Cats have clothes on.  But get this...Daniel puts pants on when there's inclement weather, so they own pants and utilize them on occasion.  Which solidifies my point even more about it being a choice.  Please, PBS animators...let's make it all or nothing.

Now sports.

February is the worst month in life.  The weather in unpredictable, but if you're so inclined to predict it, you're pretty safe in predicting "shitty".  College ball has been over for a couple weeks now, and the NFL has just played their last game, the Super Bowl.  Yep, that's what it's called.

Have you ever seen Rocky IV, with the Russian?  Remember when Apollo Creed was to fight the Russian at the beginning of the movie?  There was this over-the-top (another marvelous Stallone flick) production with dancing girls, pyrotechnics, elaborate stage sets, and James Brown.  It was a gaudy, ridiculous show of excess, gluttony, and poor sportsmanship.  Then Apollo gets killed.

This is what the NFL is.  It's excess, gluttony, over-the-top, and classless.  Sure, sadly I still watch it, but every season it gets worse and worse.   Let's promote good sportsmanship instead of encouraging morons to dance in the end zone for seven minutes after doing their job.  The NFL now is what the XFL was 15 years ago. And that only lasted a year.

Pitchers and catchers report in 15 days.  The longest, most grueling 15 days of my life.

After a several year hiatus, I am coming back to Busch Stadium for Opening Day, the most wonderful holiday of the year.  It's against the Brewers, who can eat shit.

Going to Opening Day at Busch Stadium is the event of events.  It's hard to explain the feeling.  I guess it comes down to history.  I don't care for any other team, be it baseball, football, curling, or what have you.  I was raised a St. Louis Cardinals fan.  I didn't jump on the bandwagon after Springfield got the Double A affiliate.  I didn't suddenly start rooting for them after they started winning again 15 years ago.  I've been a proud Cardinals fan since before I can remember, and I'm proud that my family is from St. Louis.

Like my wife's love affair with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, it's a family thing.  My entire family roots for the Cards, they have for decades before I was born.  So Opening Day, along with the other 161 games, is what we wait for.

This season will be interesting.  The Brewers are good, the Pirates are good, the Reds are good, and the Cubs....should be good.  Fucking Cubs.  Their team has shaped up to be a pretty good looking one on paper, especially with Maddon at the helm.  I would love to go to the Cubs home opener at the newly refurbished Wrigley.  Cards at Cubs, April 5th at Wrigley.  What a way to start the season.

Ruby's waking up.  Time to go.