1/21/2019

Baby still isn’t here. Just got back from a check-up and some grocery shopping. Shar’s about to partake in some reality TV, so I’m contemplating other things.

Yesterday was a really good day. We started out with breakfast from Black Bear Diner. Much better than driving into Portland, waiting forever for a seat, having so-so food, and then paying out the ass.

Shar surprised me by taking me for my first ever full-service pedicure. It was…incredible. Of course I didn’t get any color done, but they pull out all the stops. Massage chair, foot soak, foot scrub, foot and leg massage, hot wax, toe nail clean up. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I just might have to do it a couple times a year for relaxation.

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We rented a movie (Venom) and then went out to Breakside Brewing in Northeast for our friend Laura’s 30th birthday. Back home and in bed by 9:30.

Today’s MLK day, so us government workers get the day off and Shar just happened to have the day off as well. I took the day to give the office a thorough cleaning. The office is also my music room and also our spare room now that the spare room has become the nursery. Things are tight in here already, but I rearranged my guitar pedal board last week and all the cut up velcro and patch cables really put things in rough shape. Much better now. Still have to get these cords in order, however.

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I squeezed in an hour or so of playing this afternoon as I got lucky and had the sun coming in the front window. I soaked it up.

All in all, a real nice self-care weekend and much needed at that.

Song:

Japanese Breakfast - Till Death

1/19/2019

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I’m not 100% sure how or when it all got started, but for the longest time I just wanted to be seen as one of the “cool kids.” I wanted to be accepted by the “cool kids.”

I can speculate that it probably began late in elementary school. My brothers and I grew up poor but adjacent to wealthier people. We didn't go without, but I was consistently surrounded by kids who had everything they wanted and more. 

For the first part of my childhood, I also grew up without a father around. I think this contributed to my lack of confidence and knowledge about masculine things. I grew up knowing almost nothing about sports or cars or other things many men use to connect. 

To top it off, I have always been really quiet. This made me a target for bullying from the loud and more confident kids. My quietness and lack of confidence in myself made me not cool in the eyes of the ones I thought I wanted to be like. 

Sadly, I think I internalized this feeling of being an outsider and channeled in negative ways. Some positive things too, like introspective hobbies like music and writing, but also negative habits like consistently comparing myself, what I have, what I have accomplished, and my tastes, to others. And although I’m aware of it and want to change it, I haven’t yet. I’m beginning to, but I haven’t gotten over the hump. 

I find myself ever striving for more and focusing on material things. Not luxury cars, but quality things around the house. I get down on myself about the way my house looks and want to spend money to improve it (I bought it as a fixer up in the white hot Portland market back in 2016). I compare my neighborhood to others’. The list goes on. 

But I think I‘m starting to feel more of a letting go of these feelings and fake needs as I get older. I find myself not interested in a lot fo the things I used to be interested in even a few years ago, favoring time spent in at night enjoying quiet introverted things like playing music or reading articles on the internet on random topics I’m interested in. 

I’m accepting myself more for who I am and what my strengths are versus a superficial quality of coolness or acceptance by others. And it’s pretty freeing. I am actually growing less and less interested in people in general, with the exception of those closest to me, and it feels great. Strange, perhaps. But I don’t feel anything unhealthy about it. I feel like my season of life is changing and that I’m actually ok with things slowing down to more of an internal focus. I’m focusing less on accomplishments and ownership and more on an internal exploration of my purpose in life. 

I may not know who the cool bands are anymore and I still might not be able to chat up the boss about sports. I might be looked over for that promotion. But I’m becoming perfectly content with my quiet little life and worrying less and less about measuring it against those of others.  

January 15, 2019

Today I’m typing from a 15-year-old, wired, white manual keyboard. I just couldn’t type for any length of time on the pancake bluetooth keyboard without some discomfort. Plus, it always sucks when the thing’s batteries would die. Really kills the flow.

Ah, the Apple A1048. Seems a bit stickier than I remember, but hopefully it breaks up a bit after awhile:

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At any rate, I’ve had a lot of thoughts lately that I’ve wanted to write about, but whenever I try to figure out a way to put them into words, I have a lot of trouble. So maybe I’ve been over thinking them and I should just keep them simple.

We are now less than 2 weeks out from our baby’s due date. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had two sets of friends have their babies and that has helped to make things more real.

I mean, it’s really just a construct for us guys until the little person is out anyway, right? We’re not the ones going through all of it. We’re not feeling it inside ourselves.

And I guess the thing that is smacking me in the face is that this little human will be half of me. That is so banal that I almost passed out from boredom typing it. But that is really what I am gobsmacked about. That a person whom I love very much who is sitting in the other room is carrying a living being that is half me and half her.

This probably happens to everybody, but maybe I’m feeling it amplified because it’s been so difficult in seeing my own father in me given that he wasn’t in my life. It’s as though I’ve viewed myself as the child of my mother via asexual reproduction. Any lack of resemblance was merely a mutation or due to some environmental factor.

So today when I got home from work I found Shar lying on the bed in our room, exhausted from the day. She’s been a real trouper, working up until her due date and taking barre classes and such. So I crawl into bed with her and start rubbing her belly and I can feel this child’s outline. I can feel its bottom and along the side of its leg. I mean, it’s not too distinct, but you can sort of tell that this isn’t just a belly with a weird notch in it. And I’m just sitting in the relative quiet that is my life, the relative lack of responsibility for anything more than our dog, and realize. I just realize the reality. It’s slowly been creeping up on me, but it’s gonna hit me so hard when the little he or she is actually here.

I know, it’s dumb. But that’s how I feel right now. Dumb.

The other thing that has been sitting in the back of my mind is the hope that I’m not a failure. Throughout this pregnancy, everybody offers unsolicited advice. I know most mean well, but it can really shake you up if you let it. And it got me thinking about what if I’m not a great parent? All my life I’ve thought about how my father wasn’t there for me and that I’d be this wonderful father in spite of that. But what if I’m NOT? I know my shortcomings in life and I know the dreams I have in my head that I sometimes accomplish and sometimes don’t. I think of the goals I have and the ones I’ve gone after and the ones that collect dust. I guess I just hope I can provide the type of environment that my child or children can thrive. And that they not only love me but they like me and are proud of me someday.

I’m also thinking about my own life and my own risks in different ways. I’m thinking about safety and security and looking both ways when I cross through a busy intersection. I peed at the urinal today and thought about saving for the future and life insurance and college. There’s been a lot of thoughts in this head.

The past few weekends, Shar and I have been sort of go-go-go. I felt a bit of panic that the house wasn’t looking that great and that we don’t have as much as so-and-so or that our house isn’t as nice as this-and-that. And in my way of anxiety, I took it out on Shar. I tend to compare and I really am trying to work on that, but there was no excuse to act mean to her especially at this time. We got through it, but I need to recognize that I need to recognize my feelings for what they are, accept them, and either do something to change it myself or express them and ask for help.

And it was so silly. About making our house a home and just wanting more help in making it look like a home. In the same ways Shar needs help around the house with logistical things. I guess I focus more on the art of it while she’s more practical in a lot of ways. I think we’ll rub off on each other through time.

Finally, I know my time is about to be eaten up to a great degree. I’m taking a month off when the baby is born and I’m so grateful I get to do that, but I know once they’re here that some things will be put on pause. Perhaps this writing, perhaps my playing music almost every night. Maybe our lazy nights on the couch. I guess I can’t really fathom how it’s going to be at the moment. Hell, the next time I write, I could very well have a baby and 2019 is halfway done. But I hope I can retain a bit of myself along the way.

This feels like it’s been one big ramble, but I’m just so filled with a deep well of love and gratitude that I’m here right now and able to experience this. At least until I’m running on no sleep and elbow deep in shitty diapers. Until next time.

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January 10, 2019

So the new year came without much fanfare. 2019, here we are.

We spent the evening in bed, and dare I say it was probably one of the best NYE’s I’ve ever had? I’m not sure Shar can say the same, but I’ve almost always disappointed by NYE parties.

For starters, I get too nostalgic. Second, I hate crowds. And third, they’re just sad to me for some reason. Here we are! It’s another year! Let’s pretend we’re gonna change on purpose on this arbitrary moment in space but not really do it! That’s why I start my new habits regularly. I keep a running tally of how long I’ve been doing each to motivate me and to not break the habit.

So, we spent our NYE joyously in our luxurious double pillow top/memory foam king size bed reading, without any real intentions for the new year other than to continue to try and be our best. We leaned over and kissed each other at midnight, turned off the light, and fell asleep.

I also woke up sober and feeling alive. My skin had color to it and I smiled a lot, perhaps for the first since legally able to drink.

I ran 3 day this week. Yesterday I did 3 miles and ran a personal record at age 37, which is still a depressingly slow 10 minute something split. However, I’m trending in the right direction. I took today off because I sort of hurt my leg yesterday and wanted to give it a day to rest. Plus, I really don’t think the running 5 days a week thing is good for our joints.

I have still not lost any weight despite burning about 500 extra calories per day and giving up a lot of not-so-great foods. Not sure what is up there but I can only think it’s at least partially attributed to the vegetarian diet. I see folks doing keto losing tons of weight and it’s sort of frustrating given what I thought I was doing when I began this journey. At least I’m still not gaining. But I might have to rethink this thing. I’m working on 11 months without a piece of animal flesh in my digestive system and I’m rather enjoying it, but I’d really love to lose about 30 pounds.

My last update was about wearing the holter monitor after 3 months of trying to get one from Kaiser Permanente. They shaved my chest and glued the thing on. I dropped it off on New Year’s Day. Still no word. I’m coming to expect this.

The baby’s due two weeks from Saturday. I keep thinking I’m gonna get an excited call from Shar telling me things are happening. I don’t think she’s ever been more ready to be a mother in her life. Me, I’m a little nervous but also very excited.

Two nights ago it moved a lot in her belly and I caught a little bit of it on video. Kind of alien-like! Can’t wait to meet him or her!

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December 29, 2018

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I finally complained to Kaiser Permanente that I was going to switch insurance providers if they didn’t get me in for a holter moniter. It had been three months since my doctor requested one for me and I was getting pretty upset.

Thursday KP called me to setup an appointment for the next day to get fitted for one. The lady was apologetic, and I kept my cool, but I really wanted to be an asshole. Even if this turns out to be nothing, no one should have to wait 3 months for something so simple when you have a family history of heart problems.

Anyway, my heart has only done its flutter twice since I’ve been wearing this thing, so hopefully they can get a read on it and tell me what’s going on. I’m wearing it it until 4:00 today.

My grandfather, whom I met only once, had a condition called an bicuspid aortic valve and died in his 60s. I learned this from my half uncle, whom also has the condition and had heart surgery in his 40s. I may not have it. My recent EKG came back normal, but they only monitored for about a minute. This bicuspid aortic valve is like a an occasional hard push in the heart. I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is the same thing. But the combo had me scared and wanting to know.

Prior to figuring out my family history, I thought maybe it had something to do with my smoking or eating too much shit food. But I just hit the two year mark since I last had a cigarette and I’m working on a year since I’ve had meat. My cholesterol was way down 6 months after quitting the stuff. And I kept having the heart flutter.

Maybe this isn’t a big deal. But I guess I know my body and it’s not something I’m used to experiencing. Things happen as we age, but it still seems strange.

In other news, Melissa started having contractions for her baby yesterday and she’s in the hospital. I guess after hours she is still being induced. I’m not sure of the details, but I hope all is well with her and her son. I’m sure we’ll learn more soon enough from her and Natasha.

I drove to work yesterday for the first time in a couple of months since I needed to go to the hospital yesterday. I went to Ross and got some new underwear, which I’m strangely excited about. I also think driving sucks now. Traffic was super frustrating on lunch and after work and I can tell it has a major impact on my mental attitude. Even though I got my car fixed, I’m still taking the train to work (I did every day but Friday this week).

The weather has been consistently a little more wet, but not terrible for this time of year. The cloud breaks are still common, we haven’t got any snow, and we only had a couple of days of frost.

Zoey is sitting on the bed behind me and has brought multiple toys to me to get my attention. She really wants to play. I probably should give her some exercise.

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Songs:

Sun Kil Moon - This is Not Possible

Car Seat Headrest - Bodys

December 28, 2018

Making room in my life for the important stuff has never been easy for me. I am probably the most nostalgic person I’ve ever known in real life and letting go of that is pretty tough.

I’ll get lost in old notebooks or saved greeting cards for hours. I often think about people from my past. I think about my successes and my mistakes, of which there are many of both.

But the older I get, the more respect I have for myself, too. I have higher expectations of the company I choose to keep because I ain’t got the time or the energy for anything else.

My Instagram feed will not be filled with photos of me in large groups of people in interesting social situations. No, I have few friends, but the ones I keep around I truly value and I think they value me.

I’ve got a quirky personality, I am often quiet, and I can be awkward. A lot of people don’t know how to work with that or accept that. But the people I keep around work through that and allow me to be me, and that has become center stage in my awareness of good people. They stick out like sore thumbs, the ones who try and listen and smile and ask questions.

I don’t have the time or the space for superficial interactions, for political drama or thinly veiled insecurities on social media, for people who chatter. I’ve found the down-to-earth people, the lovers, the encouragers, the listeners, and I ain’t got no time for the holier-than-thou’s. And damn if it doesn’t feel good to respect myself enough to make space for the real ones.

December 26, 2018

Another Christmas come and gone. Hard to believe.

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It’s been a sort of weird adjusting expectations with a baby on the way and not being “home” for the holidays. Christmases were always such a big deal in our house. Tree, decorations, lots of gifts. My mom still tries to buy us all a bunch of gifts and I’m pushing 40. But with the baby coming next month, budgeting takes precedence.

And to be honest, Shar and I had some disagreements over this. I am definitely less frugal than her, and I got upset. No one ever said marriage was easy, and compromise we sometimes do. I’m working on it.

I grew up living at my grandmother’s house for a number of years. It was a tiny little 3-bedroom place in Saginaw, Michigan. I had 6 aunts and uncles and a lot of them had kids as well and we’d all cram into that house and the presents would be stacked halfway to the ceiling it seemed.

My grandmother, who lived on social security only, would save up for half the year just to make sure each of her dozen or so grandkids would have something from her to open on Christmas morning. She had a budget of $25 or so for each kid. I know that was a lot of money for her, but it was important to her. I think that must have stuck with me because I still view Christmas as a really big deal, even when money is tight. Not in the sense that I think mindless consumerism is important. But just that it’s the time to splurge a little and show the people you love that you’ve been thinking of them.

Here in Oregon, it’s still a little strange adjusting to the moderate temps and general lack of snow in these parts of the world this time of year. At that same grandma’s house, she used to cover her crappy windows in clear plastic to keep the chill out of the rooms. I can still remember her standing on a chair and using a blow dryer to heat and stretch the plastic until it fit snugly. I’d often wake up as a kid and sit over a heater vent on the ground, pulling my shirt over my knees and trapping all the heat into it. But I ain’t complainin’ about the weather in the PNW.

This year, we spent Christmas Eve in La Center with Shar’s mom and step family. Big full house with lots of kids. It was fun.

After opening up gifts for our own wee little Christmas yesterday, Shar and I went up to Hagg Lake and walked a trail. Zoey stomped around in the mud a bit yesterday and we could tell she had a really good time running around and sniffing everything that she could. She snagged a few dozen burs in her Velcro fur and got mud all over. A glob of mud got on her eyelash and basically cemented it shut.

At one point, Zoey jumped a small creek to retrieve a stick (we threw over) and she had a hard time convincing herself that she could get back to us. It was kind of cute as she whined like a puppy, but we eventually got her back.

Back at the house, the dog got a bath and some scissors to the fir. I fiddled with the washing machine that has been giving us problems and Shar whipped up a real nice Christmas dinner (I’m looking forward to the leftovers for lunch today). After dinner, we all snuggled up on the couch and rented a movie before calling it a night.

Today I celebrate 2 years since I had my last cigarette. I remember smoking my last one the day after Christmas in 2016 and hopping a plane back to Portland before we went off to San Diego for New Years’ Eve. I was so tired of the control it had over me. It goes without saying, but this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To say nothing about the health benefits, I’m saving at least $2500 per year. Can’t believe how much went up in smoke over the years, but happy to report I’m still going strong and not looking back.

December 20, 2018

This morning on the train we had to get off at Quatama Station because there was some sort of accident at Orenco. As we all shuffled out of the train and onto shuttles, I was annoyed. I’ve been riding the train for a few months now and I was going to be late for work again because of it.

As we departed by bus, I fired up Twitter for the scoop. It turns out that a train hit a pedestrian and they were avoiding Quatama while police investigated the incident.

Someone lost their life too soon today. And their loved ones are grieving the loss with some immense amount of pain that lacks any meaning. And somewhere a train operator killed someone and is likely dealing with their own pain and grief.

So even though I was 45 minutes late for work, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s not worth it to hold a negative thought. Hug your loved ones and live your life with happiness in your heart.

In some positive news, my mom finished her last round of chemo today after starting a few months ago after her double mastectomy. I know it’s been scary for her, and I’m glad she’ll be on the mend now. It was scary for us all, and we’re all thankful for her catching it early and for the good prognosis.

December 19, 2018

Me

Me

I finally got a good night’s sleep after a few days of short ones and I feel great. Sleep is so important, something our teacher in the birthing class reminded us of last night.

It was our last class, and it was full of useful information. I can’t think about what all this would be like without the knowledge others have passed down. I still feel so ill-prepared, but at this point, I guess that’s probably how a lot of soon-to-be first-time parents feel.

I’ll spare the photos I took of the transition baby shit makes over the course of the first few weeks.

Speaking of shit, today would’ve been my dad’s 60th birthday had he been alive. Hopefully, on whatever plane he’s on, he’s evolved.

December 10, 2018

Yesterday we lounged around Shar’s mom’s house for awhile before getting out the door at 4:00. We stopped into the Grotto to get a peak at the Christmas lights without paying the $5 a head to slosh through the rain and the cold wind.

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All 5 of us piled back into Tim’s Jeep to check out Urban Fondue. Not a place setup for vegetarians and sharing, so I was sort of disappointed, but I got something I could eat, ate some cheese, bread, and a beat salad, and a little bit of dessert.

The night was going well, but the girls and their mom got into a bit of an argument at the end, so things got tense there for a minute. Shar’s sister is in town form San Diego so I don’t think it was her idea of a good use of her time.

They dropped me off at the train at Goode Hollow so I could high-tail it home. They argued more on their way back to the in laws’ house, but I guess they all smoothed it over today. Something about past relationships, too much drink in the system, etc. Something something about our baby-to-be. I don’t really care, just glad it’s all back to normal.

So I had the house to myself and honestly I fell asleep really early (for me, that’s 10:00). I slept on my back wrong at the in laws’ and I needed to just not think about the pain and not move.

Went to the gym today on lunch. Didn’t eat much, so I swung by a Lebanese place at the Orenco stop on the way home. First time there. Not too bad. Saved enough of my falafel wrap for lunch tomorrow.

On my way back to the train, I saw that a new brewery is opening up called Manama Brewing Co. I guess they’re out of Corvallis, and I’m super excited that they’ll be there even though I know nothing about them.

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We don’t have anything of the sort within easy reach of the house, at least not by transit, so this is much needed. Three stops away! Let’s hope it’s good, and that they do growler fills!

Shar’s back tonight, and I’ll have to help her unload all the stuff from the baby shower. We’ll have to organize it some other night because my back is still not tip-top.