Dad of All Trades, Master of None

Domesticated, Not Demasculinized

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Welcome.

Posted by doatmon on July 20, 2009

Thank you for stumbling your way through the interwebs and landing on my little corner of it.

Let’s take a little time to get acquainted, shall we?

You can learn a little more about who I am here.

You can find previous bits of my writing here.

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Posted in Being a Daddy | Leave a Comment »

Down with socks…yes, I really wrote about socks

Posted by doatmon on October 1, 2009

Oye Vay this is hard.

No, not the parenting thing.  As was said by Al Bundy on Modern Family last night, 95% of it is just showing up. 

The blogging thing. 

Contrary to what I like to think, I do write this blog for more than myself.  My lovely wife diligently reads every post and I think about her response.  Some REALLY lonely and bored facebook friends read most of the blogs.  Even my parents have realized the Apple IIc wasn’t coming back in vogue and got a computer that can handle the internets.

 

And I don’t write without pondering whether what I’m writing is worth reading.  I like to think people are interested in my point of view, my experiences and perhaps my shaved head.  Okay, probably not the latter.  My wife told me to take my own picture off my facebook profile and put one of her and my daughters up.  But at least I guess people want to read about my experiences and subsequent point of view.

 What they really don’t like to read is my bitching.  I do enough of that at home.  And in my head.  To write an entire blog bitching about my life and people IN my life just seems ridiculous.  As a result, unlike many blogs I wander across, I actually abhor writing when I’m cranky.  It doesn’t turn out well for anyone. 

The flip side of that… a SAHD on depression medication in the midst of a fortnight of gray days isn’t exactly chipper.   But something happened this past week that just forced me to write.  I imagine this is one of the experiences people visit my blog to read about.

Last week…I had to wear socks.

You have no idea how hard that was for me.  Seriously.  Since I started staying home with the kids, one of the unexpected perks was wearing absolutely anything and nobody caring. The girls don’t care.  They of the “wear whatever you want to wear to bed” nights.  If they can sleep in tutus and ski pants, why can’t daddy spend 24 hours sporting the same cargo shorts and brown shirt with a mushroom opining that he’s a “fun guy.” 

Ah….bliss.

With outfits like that, who needs socks?  Or shoes even.  Sandals “for the win” as gaming geeks say.  Right, Ryan?

But last week, I was leaving the house…without the kids.  And it was under 65 degrees.  And I was wearing pants.  I just couldn’t wear sandals.  I think the shirt may have even had a collar for God’s sake. 

So I wore socks.  For the first time in months.  

I imagine this to be what a caterpillar experiences when unfurling his wings for the first time.  Except in reverse.  He is beautifully transformed and free to roam and enjoy his surroundings.  I am suffocated and inextricably restrained by a polyester-blend of Indian Ocean origin. 

Unacceptable.

As a result, I am on fashion strike.  Granted, I have never exactly read GQ to keep up on the latest fashions.  I wore Zubaz on a regular basis for God’s sake.  And defended the practice.  But since marrying Coke, she has at least shepherded me away from jean shorts and a closet full of Nirvana-induced flannel shirts. 

No longer.  I am currently wearing white, athletic socks with camo pants and tennis shoes.  And guess what?  I love it.  The people at Caribou keep asking if they can call the shelter to come pick me up, but I care not.  My role is as a father now.  Not a businessman.  Not a pillar of the community.  No stakeholder here.  More like a placeholder. 

And damnit, that job should come with perks too.  So I’m going to my HR department of one and demanding casual Mondays. And Tuesdays.  And so on.  I’m going to leave those dress shirts at the dry cleaners for another three months.  Just cause I can.  I’ll get them right before they’re donated to Goodwill.  But not a minute before.  Who even needs buttons?  Not sweat shirts.  Not drawstrings. 

Not me.

I may start wearing a bra, just so I can burn it in protest.  That and to give me a little extra support.  My moobs are a bit droopy these days. 

Three weeks without a blog and this is the best I can do.  Socks, moobs and Zubaz.

Maybe I need to rethink my self-imposed moratorium on writing pissed off.  Clearly writing “empowered” isn’t becoming.  Or interesting.

Posted in Being a Writer | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

An ode to my iPod…

Posted by doatmon on September 16, 2009

The old cliché is to write about what you know.  While writing what you know is easy, writing about what you love can be difficult.  When your feelings are so deep and the passion so unrestrained, words simply become inadequate.

It is with this at the forefront of my mind that I try to espouse my true feelings for my iPod.

First things first.  It’s iPod.  It’s not I-Pod or IPOD or MP3 player.  It’s iPod.  How would you like it if I called your mom by the wrong name or a generic name like, well, mom.  Bad example.  Still.  Get it right, please.

That out of the way, allow me to simply state that outside of my wife and children, nothing has changed my life as much as my iPod.  It has changed road trips.  It has changed how I fall asleep.  It has changed how I get my news and opinion (yes, Virginia, there is a difference).  It has even changed my trips to the bathroom.  Who needs the Sunday Dispatch when you can listen to a podcast on Salmon fishing in Lake Michigan?

Several years into my relationship with my gorgeous, sleek 30GB video iPod, she still looks and sounds as beautiful as she did the morning I unwrapped her.  How many things can you really say that about? I’m looking at you TMobile Dash.  Lousy tramp.

I will leave my house without my keys before I leave without my iPod.  I am truly lost without it.  I have about four different ways to charge it so I am never left with a lifeless shell of a partner.  I sync it multiple times a day.  Just in case the new PTI podcast has been uploaded.  Or maybe the Instance.  Yes, I listen to a Warcraft podcast.  Don’t you dare judge me.

But it’s not all about podcasts.  Literally, my taste in music prior to my iPod consisted of anything done by Journey and the occasional impulse buy of a CD after hearing a track on Sunny 95’s love songs.  Seriously.  Ask Coke.  I routinely embarrassed her with my musical library.

Here’s an actual conversation that took place:

[radio playing]

ME: Who’s this?

Coke:  My God, man.

ME:  Seriously, who is this?  Is it new?

Coke: This is the Steve Miller Band…”The Joker”

ME: Awesome…I’ll keep an eye out for them on Regis and Kelly

Coke: You’re an idiot.

Since my iPod and my near obsession with iTunes and its “suggestion machine,” it is I who am introducing HER to artists.  I have actually been to several concerts post iPod.  Pre-iPod, my concert experience consisted of a James Taylor excursion with Coke early in our relationship and a trip with my parents to see Chicago.  I was in high school.  Really.  It was that bad.

Now, artists like Amos Lee, Marc Broussard, Ben Harper, Ansley Lister, Tom Waits, Brendan James, Tyrone Wells, Stephen Kellogg, Joshua Radin and Stephen Ashbrook are consistently on my playlists.  Can you tell I’ve also developed a music “type?”

As the years have gone by, my relationship with my iPod has only gotten stronger.  I rely on it more now than ever.  What’s better at the park…being left alone with your own thoughts of your daughter’s imminent death by monkey bar or allowing those thoughts to be drowned out by the latest by Taylor Swift…er…I mean [thinking of something manly] Bruce Springsteen.  I think you know.

I bring all this up because I am sick and tired of my relationship with my iPod being scrutinized and demonized.  Yes, I love it.  I am never without it.  But I am very courteous.  If someone is talking to me, sure, I’ll turn it off.  I won’t take out my earbuds, let’s not be ridiculous, but I’ll turn it off.  If my daughters are talking to me, I’ll turn down the volume so I can respond to Chicken Nugget’s question about flushing Diego down the toilet.  I’m not rude.

All kidding aside, there have been several instances where I have been scolded for my iPod use.  Most recently, fresh from my decision to be a SAHD, I took French Fry to see a morning screening of The Tale of Despereaux.  This certainly wasn’t the first time we had seen this movie.  Nor was it the first time the 50,000 children and 15 adults that were in the theater had seen it.  It was a Wednesday morning screening.  For $1.

There was a particularly rowdy group sitting next to us and bleeding over into the row behind us.  It was clear there were several moms using the darkness and the distraction to pop a few Xanax and take turns catching up on sleep.  Prior to the movie, I heard one say that they would save the three seats directly to my right for “Judgie McJudgerson.”

The movie begins, the rat does something…there’s soup involved…Matthew Broderick is pretending he’s a mouse so he doesn’t have to think about being married to Sarah Jessica Parker and not Carrie Bradshaw.  So I lift the armrest, grab French Fry to cuddle, pop in my earbuds and turn on the latest “Left, Right and Center” political podcast from NPR.

Eventually “Judgie McJudgerson” stumbles into the theater, well after the movie started, with her miniature minions trailing behind her fighting over what was undoubtedly a box of Sour Patch Kids.  They clamor over to the seats that had been reserved for them and make a big production of [very loudly] explaining their tardiness, the appreciation of the reserved seats and something else that was drowned out by Dustin Hoffman’s droning.

They finally settle in and my focus goes back to the completely ridiculous rants of Bob Scheer.  A few minutes later, there’s a tap on my shoulder.  I look over and it’s Judgie McJudgerson.  I’m figuring she wants to run out for a ”five-hour energy” fix and wants me to keep an eye on her kids.  Nope.  She tells me that my iPod is bothering her and I either needed to move or turn it off. It was detracting from her enjoyment of the movie.

Seriously.

I was absolutely incredulous.  There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t have enough bandwidth to list them.  But let me get you started.  There were literally hundreds of kids under 8 in that theater.  It wasn’t exactly the audience of Julie and Julia.  Her own kids were adding their share to the decibel level in the theater.  It was a $1 showing of the Tales of freaking Despereaux.  She showed up late and bothered everyone with her prattling on about the reasons for her problem with promptness.  And perhaps most importantly, IT WAS THE TALES OF FREAKING DESPEREAUX.

Now, understand, if I was truly bothering her, I would be happy to do this.  There’s nothing I hate more than someone else’s actions disrupting my movie-going experience.  But if my iPod had been loud enough to bother her that much, the first person to yell at me would have been French Fry.  She takes her animated rodent movies very seriously and she was a lot closer to my earbuds than Judgie.  Thankfully.

I was too flabbergasted to say anything so I just complied.  Begrudgingly.  I spent the rest of the movie reassuring my iPod that it wasn’t her fault and I still loved her.

Was this out and out anti-iPod hatred?  Was it SAHD prejudice?  Was it simply a woman who was miserable and wanted everyone else to be living in her hell?  Or was I generally inappropriate for consummating (again) my relationship with my beloved Apple product in that venue?  Hurry.  I’m in Starbucks and this Teva-wearing, soy milk-drinking librarian-type looks like she’s about to say something.

Posted in Being a Daddy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

I watched a man shave his balls …

Posted by doatmon on September 14, 2009

Okay, not really.  But made for a fun subject didn’t it?

That’s from a Patton Oswalt stand-up bit…hilarious stuff.  Can’t be written.  All about timing.

So there was no manscaping voyeurism going on, but there was some shaving.

I shaved my head.

It’s a move I have been contemplating ever since I realized that it wasn’t that I was dipping my neck a different way every morning.  It wasn’t the angle.  My forehead really was getting bigger.

I’m not a real vain person..it’s hard to be vain when you look like a cross between Doogie Howser, MD and a large bowl of flesh-colored jell-o.  But seeing pictures time-lapse my hair loss has been getting harder and harder.

Giving my girls a bath at night, I would consistently push what was left of my “bangs” up and envision myself with the proverbial chrome dome.  And I kind of liked it.

But I couldn’t really do it, could I?

Apparently.

Honestly, it was the pictures of myself at our vow renewal this summer that finally pushed me over the edge.  I literally had hair on only half my head.  I looked ridiculous.  Can you imagine a hairless cat with hair on his back half?  Yeah.  It looked that ridiculous.

So I began growing a beard.  That was step one.  Facial hair.  I went a little crazy.  It grew and grew.  It was approaching Chia proportions when I finally went in to get my head shaved.  Why I scheduled it the morning of the OSU-USC game, I have no idea.  Maybe somewhere in the deep recesses of my muddled brain I felt like if I took a desperate step, the Buckeyes might take one too.  You know.  Like beating a top-10 team.

Whatever the reason, I abandoned the barber-follicle relationship I have been fostering for well over half of my life and booked an appointment at “Modern Male.” No.  Really.  I did.  The place appears to be everything I’m not.  Hip.  Trendy.  Effeminate.  The triumverate of male salons.  But if I was going to shave my head and artistically manicure my facial hair, I wanted an expert.  And in the absence of an expert, I’ll just over-pay for someone as IF they were an expert.

And so I did.

They were actually great with me and they even had ESPN on.  I don’t know what I expected.  Project Runway perhaps.  Stereotypical, I know, but get over it.

In 1.5 hours, I walked out with a goatee and, well, that’s about it.

On the ridiculously long drive back to home-base, I have to admit I hit all the cliches.  I looked at myself routinely in the rearview mirror.  I rolled down the window to feel the smog-ridden wind on my shorn scalp.  I shed a tear for the wispy, straw-like hairs that had tried unsuccessfully to creep down my forehead.  Larry and Steve…I will miss you.

I was actually kind of a wreck over the whole thing.

At least my family was supportive.  My wife turned whiter than my “new” scalp.  French Fry actually screamed and begged Coke not to leave me alone with her while getting the mail.  And Chicken Nugget woke up from her nap long enough to laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh herself back to sleep.

So I had their support going for me which was nice.

My parents, grandmother and Starbucks barista were equally “supportive.”  As was my mother-in-law who expressed her feelings on my decision in conjunction with her feelings on my decision to stay home with the kids.  “Well, I suppose men who are in stressful and strange situations do radical things.”

But guess what.  I actually like it.  I really do.  I like that I don’t have to worry about hair product.  Or bedhead.  Or a receding hairline.  Or ANY hairline for that matter.  I like the goatee.  I like the thought of opening the door to my daughter’s dates and have them do a double-take.

And I have to say.  It’s not really all that radical, people.  Everywhere I look, the bald mafia is representing.  So there.  It’s the new me.

I’m not going to, as Chicken Nugget requested, put my hair back on.

Then again, I probably won’t be finding myself in a Patton Oswalt skit like the subject line.  That might require a return trip to Modern Male.  Or the emergency room.  Either one would render me a eunach once and for all.

Posted in Being a Husband | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

In homage to the great Chris Farley…

Posted by doatmon on September 10, 2009

“Let me tell you why I suck as a blogger…let’s say I go into someone’s web browser and he’s even remotely interested in reading my blog … ”

Oh lord.  Where to start?

Have I mentioned I suck at this blogging thing?

Let me give you a glimpse into what it’s like to be me.  I am a man of tradition.  Whether that’s in regards to a horse race I haven’t missed since I started going in 1992 or my string of sleeping in odd places following or preceding weddings…I am a man of tradition.  This holds for my psychological state as well.  One of my “traditions” is that I will start something.  I will jump in with both feet.  I will be moderately successful.  I will get frightened like the chubby kid before gym.  I will either give-up that endeavor or simply make every excuse I can think of to put off participation until I simply can’t ignore it any more.

Yup, that’s me.  And lord are there some PsyD’s and some drug manufacturers that are thrilled I have made it to 32.

Thankfully, the one thing in my life that seems immune to this self-destructive pattern is being a father.  And perhaps that’s why this arrangement feels so right.  And why I’m happier than I’ve been in a LONG time, despite giving up everything I had developed over 10 years in the working world.

While being a father seems to be immune, blogging is not.  Many still reading this have most likely read another blog of mine.  Or two.   Or, well, you get the picture.  I almost allowed it to happen to this one.  I had gone about a week without a post and longer without a post that didn’t involve Snuggie Sex.

But damnit, I want this.  I need this.  And I hope you’ll forgive me.  I ask of you, my readers, the same thing I ask of my children.  Give me 18 years and I swear I’ll get this right.  And if not, you can head off to college.  Well, not you, the kids…oh, nevermind.

I promise a fast and furious update on a few things that have happened over the past week.

But for now, yes Hank Williams, Jr. … I am MORE than ready for some football.  Go Steelers.

Posted in Being a Daddy, Being a Writer | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

My first sex post…

Posted by doatmon on September 2, 2009

Did that get you reading?  Then you’re going to be disappointed.

I give you what is undoubtedly going to become the new tantric sex for old, married parents…Snuggie Sutra.

http://thesnuggiesutra.com/

Posted in Being a Husband | 2 Comments »

Yes, I’ve been hiding…

Posted by doatmon on September 1, 2009

I apologize for my mini-absence, but I have been coordinating TV appearances and autograph signings following my big appearance in The Other Paper last week.  Sadly, I’ve also been dodging some toilet paper and eggs.

One quick note about the story.  I think Lyndsey did a good job with it and I was happy she included some comments by Joe Schatz over at dad-blogs.  That said, I think I came across a little harsh in the early portion of the story.  I have not tried to access any ad revenue as of yet, nor is that my intention.  Which is good.  Considering most of my readers share my last name.

And contrary to some water cooler discussions, I am not jealous of any success “mommy bloggers” might be having.  I am in fact, in awe of much of what has been accomplished in the parenting blog space.   I was simply expressing my desire for the offerings to be a little more “equal.”  And since, I have been informed of MANY fantastic daddy blogs that I have started to read.

The flipside of my exposure to some of these daddy blogs is the reason for my post today.  Other daddy bloggers have also come to my site, messaged me on FB, left comments on the blog and generally made me feel quite welcome in their growing community.  And as a result, I have stopped writing, crawled into my shell and started simply reading blogs of fishing reports for places I’ve never been and fish I’ll never catch.

Wait, what?

In the words of the immortal Cuba Gooding, Jr.: “Those are the ABC’s of me, baby.”

Few in my real life would understand this, well, fear.  I am not exactly a wallflower or concerned about how I am received.  I am the guy who eats multiple sugar packets for money.  The guy who once earned a nickname in high school for sitting down with a group of very attractive girls from a rival high school and eating a bowl of whipped cream without utensils.  The guy who runs through his fraternity house wearing nothing but a silk Three Musketeers Halloween costume and screaming, “It is I…Don Fernando.”

Allegedly.

But that is real life.  I am finding my online persona to be the exact opposite.  Maybe it’s the sheer size of these interconnected tubes or the anonymity of never knowing who is reading your blog.  Or perhaps the feeling of utter inadequacy when faced with the multitude of writers infinitely more talented than myself who have displayed a discipline to write that has always eluded me.

Whatever the reason, I have stopped writing and even stopped reading blogs out of a fear of this community that I am on record as seeking out.

If your head hurts, imagine being my wife.  I am a mess.  And not even a hot mess.  Just a mess.

I will get over this eventually.  I will return the blog love I have been receiving and will become an active part of this community which has been so friendly and so accepting of me in a VERY short time.  But as of right now, I am frightened, anti-social and immersed in stories of peacock bass.

Love me or hate me.  It Is I…Don Fernando.

Posted in Being a Writer | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Happy Birthday, French Fry.

Posted by doatmon on August 27, 2009

Today is the fifth anniversary of what I consider to be my greatest accomplishment.

French Fry.

My greatest TRICK might be the miraculous hypnosis that has forced Coke to remain in my presence for over 12 years.

But my greatest accomplishment is French Fry.

And today is her fifth birthday.

Half a decade ago, my life was just a bit different.  I lived in a ramshackle Clintonville abode which devoured half of my wife’s childhood and half of our wardrobes in intermittent flooding that plagued the basement.  My biggest concern each week was what days (yes, plural) I was going to Crosswords to work diligently on what were then my TWO greatest accomplishments: my Golden Tee game and my reputation as an “active” member of the Winking Lizard Beer Tour.

Mmmm…Chimay.

I was married and I had been for seven years.  But I don’t think I was yet a husband.  Check that.  I know I wasn’t a husband.  Fantasy football consumed my weekends.  In June.   I don’t think I had cleaned a toilet or dusted an end-table since puberty.  And the only thing I wrote those days was e-mail re-caps of various weekend shenanigans involving digging large holes in my backyard, exploits at high-end establishments in town (i.e. Ruckmoor) and consuming copious amounts of meat in a given time-period.

Now, those days are gone.  And I couldn’t be happier.

It is weird when I look back on that time in my life and realize that I was 26/27 and essentially still a collegiate bachelor who happened to be employed and married.  I was embattled in a Sisyphusian struggle for “happiness” and yet I had no clue what I was aiming for.  At the time, all I knew what I was struggling AGAINST.

With increasing frequency, Coke and I were entering into arguments about the next phase of our lives.  She wanted children.  I did too, but I mean, good lord, not then.  Life was FUN.  Car trips that had once been among the centerpieces of our relationship, were now miserable.  They had turned into rolling battlegrounds with opposing forces holding ground on opposite sides of the parking brake.

As is so often the case, the ongoing argument was taken out of our hands.

Following a particularly raucous December 23rd outing together, Coke informed me that there was an OFF chance that she might be eating for two.  We didn’t yet know for SURE, but as I sat in a bland Methodist Church last night where I didn’t know a soul that didn’t share my last name, each hymn began to embody the internal struggle I was feeling.  Good lord did the annual cheese soup taste odd that Christmas Eve.

The next day, Coke’s entire family was coming to Clintonville for Christmas dinner.  A dinner I was cooking.  Turkey and all.  My plan was to inject eggnog with enough Holiday Spirits to make them ignore the trichinosis.  First I had to drive from one end of Columbus to the other looking for an open drug store.  I can think of better days to try to find a pregnancy test.

I remember the confirmation.  I remember being huddled in my closet talking to my mom on the phone about an un-done turkey and her un-done son.  I remember telling my in-laws.  And driving to tell my family.  But I wasn’t as excited as I was frightened and completely overwhelmed.

And I don’t care about the clichéd nature of this next statement, but I genuinely remember very little of the next nine months that weren’t related to the birth of my child.  Without looking at my now irrelevant resume, I couldn’t even tell you where I was working.  I went through the motions of OB/GYN appointments (hers, not mine), registering at the formerly foreign Babies R Us and even of selecting and moving into a new house for the new baby.  One without a basement.

On August 27th, following a Fujiyama feast, French Fry was born.   And so was the man I am today.

We grew together.  I wasn’t immediately a man and she wasn’t immediately a brilliant princess.  We had our ups and downs.  I was a better sleeper than she was.  We were both solid eaters.  I cried more than she did.  We both relied on Coke for our very existence.  But we grew.

She graduated pre-school and at the same time, I feel as if I graduated life.  I had gone through job after job.  I was sometimes successful.  Sometimes not.  I now had a Chicken Nugget as well as a French Fry and life logistics were more complicated than ever.  And yet, after years of searching and despite a life with more moving parts than I had ever experienced, my search for happiness became simple.

My happiness was inextricably linked with my family’s happiness.  It sounds so simple.  I assure you, it was not.  It was a painful and arduous process and yet as I type, I have never been more confident of anything.  This decision to stay home with my children has provided peace that has long eluded me.

Today, on this fifth birthday of a present I first learned of on Christmas and received in August, I celebrate the life of my French Fry. And I celebrate the life she has given me.

Happy birthday, stinky butt.

If interested, here are a few other blogs focused on my French Fry.

Wishes for French Fry via Marc Broussard lyrics.

Her first buffet.

Her trip to see the Wiggles.

Posted in Being a Daddy, Being a Husband | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

I’m not a very good blogger …

Posted by doatmon on August 25, 2009

So apparently I am a horrible blogger.

I like to think of myself as a decent writer and at least somewhat humorous.

But I am apparently a horrible blogger.

And you know what?  Now that I think about it…I am.

I opened myself up to critique by commenting on the “mommy blog” phenomenon in yesterday’s post and as a result started getting critiqued in return.

My posts are too long.  I don’t include any pictures.  My layout is unreadable.  I don’t “blog-work” … my new term for networking my blog.  I don’t write anything that anyone other than my friends and family would care about.

I think those are ALL valid criticisms.

That said, I’m not about to change some of them.

1)      My Posts Are Too Long – I am long-winded.  I just am.  It’s partly an off-shoot of my former career and partly just my nature.  But the beauty of this blog is that it’s free and I’m doing it for myself and for anyone interested in life as a Stay-At-Home-Dad and as a “daddy blogger.”  I will try to keep them shorter (Kayak story aside), but don’t expect any monologue jokes or Reader’s Digest entries.

2)      I Don’t Include Any Pictures – I have done this somewhat intentionally, but I can see I’ve taken it too far.  This blog isn’t about my daughter’s dance recitals or family vacations in and of themselves.  If you want those pictures, add me on Facebook.  This blog is about my feelings toward the dance recitals and the vacations.  I express that in words.  That said, my page is drab and one long body of text.  Variety is the spice of life.  That’s why I developed the gold course theory of relationships in the seventh grade.  I didn’t get my first girlfriend until high school.  Not a coincidence.  I need to recall the basis of that brilliant theory so to whet your appetite, here is a picture of Chicken Nugget (NSFW).

Chicken Nugget During Last Year's SB

3)      My Layout is Unreadable – Perhaps.  I am Red-Green colorblind and as a result don’t see colors like most people.  As a result, I tend to go with what I think the colors represent rather than how they look.  Maybe the red was a poor choice.  But hey, it looks black to me.  Also, I know my page is busy, but I have always been a “substance over form” kind of guy.  But I am working to alter the lay-out.  I hope you’ll be patient with me.

4)      I don’t “Blog-work” – I’m trying!!!  I really am.  I recently discovered the dad-blog community and it is one in which I feel comfortable and which I respect.  I hope to develop a more consistent relationship with members of that community.  After all, community development is the real reason I have considered expanding this blog beyond friends and family and the reason I get so sensitive when all of these “Mommy blogger” stories come out.  I want to find a community of dads…a community of SAHDs…one in which I can both give and receive information, encouragement and insults.  One in which the parenting thoughts of dads is on par with moms and recognition is given to dads participating in the blogosphere.

5)      I Don’t Write Anything That Anyone Cares About – I shortened that one.  See, I’m taking the criticism to heart.  You know what? I may not.  But at this time, this blog is for me.  It’s for the select few, the silent minority that is like me or cares what someone likes me thinks.  Those people will read.  If anyone else reads, I am honored and humbled.  But at this point in my blogging life, they are not my target audience.

I appreciate all of the feed-back and I genuinely mean it when I say I welcome it.  I have reached out to some bloggers asking for their advice on how to be a better blogger.  I am trying.  I am.

And that goes for my blogging, my parenting, my marriage and certainly my kayaking.

Posted in Being a Daddy, Being a Writer | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Kayak Story: The War and Peace version.

Posted by doatmon on August 25, 2009

I am going to break my own rule of no more than one post per day while I’m beginning this blog.  I am first going to post the kayak story for those who have asked.  I don’t think the story is worth its own post, but I have been asked.  So I’ll bury it as the first of two posts today.  The second will follow-up on yesterday’s response-generating diatribe.

The kayak story.

So a few weeks ago, I was in the Outer Banks with my entire family.  Part of the reason was for my Coke and I to renew our vows and part was pure vacation.  As you may have guessed by now, physical activity isn’t exactly part of my daily routine.  So any time I show any interest whatsoever in something cardio in nature, my wife and her physically-conscious family jump on my attempt (no matter how brief) to reduce my, um, bulky frame.

Lately, my obsession interest has been kayak fishing.  I think the concept is brilliant and something I desperately want to explore.  I consider the out of doors to be the closest I will ever get to any sort of deity and as so many have acknowledged, when it comes to boating and fishing, there’s nothing that gets you closer than kayaking.  You’re sitting inches above the water, not leaving any carbon footprint whatsoever and can glide silently across any body of water so as to not disturb the heron, otter or topless sunbather you may be trying to observe.

Sounds perfect, eh?

Well, I have neither a kayak nor access to a kayak and before I spent any money I wanted to test my prowess at both paddling and multi-tasking with a fishing rod in my possession.  Now, the real kayak fishers (really? Fishers?  Is that the best we can do? I shy away from fisherman for obvious reasons, but refuse to use fisherpersons for equally obvious albeit different reasons) use long kayaks with rod holders, GPS, depth finders, refrigerators and bidets all loaded on.  But for purposes of my test run, I would just have a rented kayak and a paddle and a PFD that was unlikely to be used.  My chest is bulky enough thank you.  The rest would just be myself and my trusty, 5.5 foot ultralight rod.

My brother-in-law who is an avid kayaker brought his down to the beach and went with me to select my mode of transportation for the week.  Upon walking into the store, I immediately gravitated to a certain brand for which I had read many positive reviews.  It was the sit-on-top version of a kayak as opposed to the sit-in version that my B-I-L both had and recommended.  But I had read reviews.  On the internet.  That had to be better than familial experience, right?

We wasted no time getting wet and drove immediately over to Currituck Sound.  This body of water lies between the mainland of North Carolina and the barrier islands known as the Outer Banks.  It rarely, if ever, gets above six feet and is for my money among the most beautiful bodies of water I have ever seen.  What a perfect place to kayak, eh?  We set off, sexy water shoes and all, at a brisk pace.  Well, my B-I-L was at a brisk pace.  I was too, it just wasn’t straight.  With a bottle of water and small tackle box strapped to the back with the PFD, my pole resting in my lap and the paddle flailing about in my already weakening arms I was proceeding in a zig-zag pattern that could be at best described as a tacking maneuver and at worst the line an intoxicated Canada Goose might take to a stray piece of bread.

I eventually straightened myself out and slowly but surely made my way north along the shoreline.  We approached a duck blind set out in the water and it was silently screaming at me to throw a lure in its direction.  So I did.  The kayak wobbled a bit, but I was pleased at my distance and my accuracy.  And if my B-I-L hadn’t paddled up there to see that I had casted in about 4 inches of water, I’m sure I would have caught a fish.

But I was 1-1 in casts without tipping my plastic steed and I was puffing my PFD-free chest.   We paddled out a little further in an attempt to locate deeper water and water devoid of the thick vegetation we found all over our paddles after each stroke.

About 10-15 minutes later we were quite a distance out in the sound and came upon another duck blind.  This one was clearly in deeper water and was veggie-free.  I steadied myself and tossed my shallow-running crank at the structure.  As I did so, the wind kicked up and knocked my cast offline.  I reeled back in quickly, determined to impress my B-I-L with my internet-honed kayak fishing skills.  I launched what was sure to be a brilliant cast…and I’m sure it would have been had I not found myself under water.

The wind had kicked up a little, baby wave and knocked me right over.  Now, this in itself isn’t a HUGE deal.  It happens to the best of us and given the relatively small kayak upon which I had been precariously perched, it’s somewhat surprising it hadn’t happened previously.  But as my butt hit bottom and I launched myself back toward daylight I realized that I wasn’t alone in the kayak and began flailing for my fishing pole.  To no avail.  It was gone.  I tried to feel around with my feet, but the silt and sediment bottom wouldn’t give it up.

My B-I-L paddled over and helped me right my kayak.  I checked my tackle box, bottle of water and rented PFD.  All were fine.  In a stroke of brilliance, I handed my B-I-L my tackle box for safe keeping just in case something freaky like that happened again.  The chances were remote, but without a pole, I certainly didn’t need a tackle box.  I set about the difficult task of mounting a piece of plastic in chest-high water with aquasocks buried in muck.

It took some maneuvering and some upper-body strength I didn’t know I had, but I shimmied myself back aboard, grabbed my paddle from my B-I-L and took two stroke toward shore.  I felt a little wobble but I didn’t give it another thought as I had felt many of those previously.  I gave it a little more thought as I was resurfacing, however.  One wave and I was back in the water.  Odd.  Infuriating.  But not debilitating.  My ego was bruised, but thankfully that was all.  I grabbed my paddle and hefted my considerable girth back on the culprit.

I never made it.

I had barely lifted my feet out of the muck and I was back underwater.  Okay, nothing to do now but laugh.  I mean, this was ridiculous.  I am a little heavy, but come on!  I was more than a little embarrassed, but I will give my B-I-L credit…he never cracked a smile (while I was above water anyway) and dutifully returned my paddle.  Just as he did the next 10-15 times I tried to get in the kayak and ended up in the water after two or fewer strokes of the paddle.

I was no longer amused.

It was at this point that I realized I may never get back into this kayak.  I had lost my bottle of water, but thankfully my PFD was floating, cackling at me after every ill-fated attempt to recover my dignity.  I begged my B-I-L to just go ahead, but he paddled slowly and sometimes in circles waiting for me.  After another few tries, I was simply out of energy and in-able to hide my frustration.  I came to the harsh realization that it wasn’t the paddle that was going to get me back to shore, but my legs.  What else was I to do?

Thankfully my B-I-L took pity on me and left me to wallow in my weight and inability to float.  He became a tiny spec as he paddled for the dock and dry land.

I started walking.

And cursing.

Cursing the kayak, the kayak company and most importantly the store that rented it to me.  How DARE they rent a kayak to a portly person that may or may not be able to get back into said kayak should it tip?  They were going to pay for this.  They were going to give me another kayak, one more sturdily built for today’s American population.  And THEY were going to pay for my post-traumatic stress counseling.

I will readily admit I shouldered some of the blame as I walked.  How could I let myself get so out of shape that I couldn’t even get in a boat that the ESKIMOS invented for God’s sake.  I mean, how many skinny Eskimos have you seen in cartoons?  And those are culturally correct, right?  I convinced myself to diet.  To get my upper body stronger.  It was a turning point in my life.

About halfway back to shore, I looked down to see a blue crab climbing from a plant to my chest.  I did what anyone else would do and screamed like a three-year-old girl and started jumping up and down while he scrambled for a foot-hold on my torso.  I managed to fling the SOB into the kayak as a souvenir.  At least I would have something for my daughters to see.  That was short-lived as the crustacean chuckled and crawled back to the amber abyss.

It was that abandoning that led me to try again to get in the kayak.  The first attempt went relatively well.  I got in the kayak, righted myself and even got an oar in the water before I started to shake.  I dropped a leg over the side to help even out the wiggling and promptly dumped myself backward.  The kayak flipped over my head and smacked me in the forehead for good measure.  This was progress though, right?  I didn’t barrel-roll.  I flipped heels over head.  I’ll get it next time.

Subsequent attempts did not improve.  I went back to my Bhutan Death March over my Trail of Tears.

I put my head down while I walked, not wanting to see the distance I had yet to go and hoping that nobody would be able to make out my face during this shuffle of shame.  I began daydreaming at this point.  Could I really die out here?  I mean, sure, it was like four feet of water, but I was pretty tired.  And if an infant can drown in six inches of water, surely someone resembling a weeble-wobble could roll to its doom in these depths.  Or what about the Osprey?  Nature’s perfect predators could mistake me for the world’s biggest muskrat and decide to try a new delicacy.  That could happen, right?

Whether it was these thoughts of impending doom or delusions of grandeur, I decided to try again.  This time, I removed my shirt and tied it to the PFD.  Then I tied the PFD to the front hand-hold of the kayak.  This would have to balance out the front and back, right?  That’s what Bear Grylls would do, right?  Feeling confident and casting my life story in my head, I lept up only to watch the world continue to leep as I tumbled backward.

Back to walking.  And walking.  Walking back toward the dock from which I came.

I couldn’t see my B-I-L anymore, but I was sure he was there waiting on me.  Perhaps he had driven home, had dinner and come back, but he was there.  At the dock.  The dock where the wedding was taking place.  Oh CRAP!  I had seen a sign that the dock was going to be closed for a wedding.  The only thing I could imagine worse than this ordeal would be stumbling up to the bridal party, dumping out my aquasocks as the Preacher prepared them for a life in holy matrimony.

Nope.  Unacceptable.  I would HAVE To at least retain my dignity if not my masculinity and urge to kayak.  I shifted course and began to head toward the closest shoreline.  As I got closer, I began collecting golf balls that I found on the bottom.  It was mindless, but helped the minutes pass.  That’s how long I walked.

When I was about 100 yards from shore, I decided I was going to paddle in whether this kayak liked it or not.  After all, I was in about six inches of water.  How could I not sit down in the kayak and at least pole myself in?  So I did.  And the kayak laughed and flipped me once again on my back.  In six inches of water.

It was at that moment I realized this might not be my weight or my lack of athletic ability.  It was the kayak.  It was flawed.  It was purely the kayaks fault.  I puffed out my chest a bit more and walked the last football field to shore.  By this point, my B-I-L had unloaded his kayak back from his car and paddled out to find me.  He got to me just as I was beginning to lift the floating bastard onto shore.  But I couldn’t.  My God.  I was dehydrated.  I didn’t have any strength left.  I had one-foot in the grave.  Heat stroke?  Snake bite that went undetected?  Regardless of the cause, I was clearly losing consciousness.

I mumbled something to my B-I-L and he got out to complete my feat.  Except he couldn’t either.  It was too heavy.  He began looking around the kayak and found a circular plug in the back.  He unscrewed it and a flow that would make Niagara Falls blush began pouring out of the under-side of my kayak.

Did you know that kayaks had a “ballast” compartment?

Yeah, neither did I.

Apparently the convenient “cup holder” in which I had placed my bottle of water and tackle box was actually the entry point for water into the kayak.  Each time I had dumped myself, I had filled the kayak a little more with water.  Subsequent attempts to get into the kayak served to slosh the water from one part of the kayak to another and quickly dump my fat posterior into the water.  It was not my weight that kept me from kayaking that day.  It was my stupidity.  All I had to do was drain the water.  Or not put a tackle box into the plug.

As I sat on the stoop of an abandoned house waiting on my B-I-L and his Nissan Exterra to extricate me from this miserable and humiliating experience, I thought, “I will have to do everything I can to keep this story from getting out to my friends and family.”

Sure, some were going to find out and my B-I-L was going to have to relay it to some for a few belly laughs.  But it was at that moment that I vowed to make the story so long and so boring that NOBODY would be able to read to the end.

And at least in that, if not in kayaking, I have succeeded.

Myself and French Fry in happier times

Here is myself and French Fry in happier times.

Posted in Being a Daddy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Blogging, married, father of two looking for men for meaningful blogging relationship (Politicians please do not apply)

Posted by doatmon on August 24, 2009

I know, I know…the kayak story.  It is forthcoming, I promise.  And yet, after all this build-up I can’t help but feel that the story is going to “sink” under the pressure.

[Kids, we call that foreshadowing…lame foreshadowing and poor pun usage, but foreshadowing nonetheless]

Part of the beauty and part of the pain of a blogger is having all these things to write about and yet constantly being bombarded by NEW things so the others get pushed to the “parking lot” as my former corporate colleagues were so fond of saying.

In this instance, I am postponing the kayak story yet again to address the recent bombardment of inescapable evidence that “daddy bloggers” are either as rare as unicorns or facing a glass ceiling of epic proportions.  Just ask the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Monthly and every search engine from Google to Dogpile.

My decision to toss away a developing (and well-established) career to stay home with Chicken Nugget and French Fry was sure to raise more than a few eyebrows, but I felt confident that through networking, blogging and various sites ending in XXX I would be able to meet and correspond with other fathers who either made the same decision or find themselves in a similar situation through events not of their choosing.

As of yet, I haven’t met a single one.  And trust me, it’s not for a lack of looking.  Especially on certain sites.  All I can seem to find are women on those bastions of literary and artistic excellence.  I just don’t get it.

Porn jokes aside, all I HAVE found are women.  As an unabashed flirt with mediocre looks and a body built by Skyline, neither the female dominance nor using the faceless internet as a medium are bad things necessarily.  And yet, in the spirit of the ever-eloquent “bro’s before hoes” sometimes a little testosterone is a good thing.

I recently read an article in Columbus Monthly on local parent bloggers written by enjoyable and prominent Ohio blogger Susie J. Not a single mention of daddy bloggers.  I contacted her through her blog and she said she intended to include men in her article, but editors gave “us” the old cutting-room floor treatment.   Today (August 24), the venerable Columbus Dispatch, which has admittedly written checks to several members of my family for various journalistic endeavors, published an article by Amy Saunders on…what else…mommy bloggers.

In both articles, the behemoth known as BlogHer is referenced along with iVillage, Ms Single Mama, dooce.com and other mainstays of female blog-dom.  Sadly, to the best of my ability, in the 7.5 minutes I’ve spent on it, I cannot find a single “male” example of similar networks, sites or people.  The few daddy blogs that are out there are infrequently updated and scattered more than men in a JoAnn Fabric.

The question is “why?” Are there not enough men who consider being a daddy to be blog-worthy?  Are they so focused on the letter “x” or various forms of fantasy football that it’s all they can blog about/add to the blog-readers?  Are men willing and interested in reading blogs written by women, but women can’t see themselves getting anything other than disgusted and angry over a blog written by a daddy?  And what about these companies giving mommy bloggers cars, cameras and ad revenue?  As a former marketing/public relations professional, I am well-aware of the old-adage that women control the purchasing.  But isn’t that changing?  Why is it that we’re so hell-bent on proving some long-held beliefs of gender stereotypes, but others remain so entrenched that nobody even notices their existence anymore?

And more importantly, how many non-sentence questions can you string together before people quit reading?  Am I there yet?  How ‘bout now?

I recently read a piece on Jessica Knows (written by a woman of course) questioning whether 2010 will be the year of the daddy blogger.  I agree with many of her assertions and they mimic those I have relayed to others as I embarked on my OWN journey.  Specifically, I think the allure of a “daddy blog” is that it’s likely both men AND women would read it.  But I follow that up with, would it be so bad if ONLY women read it?  Apparently that’s still the target audience.  And if there were good daddy blogs, I am confident they would read.

In the mean time, I will continue to write in obscurity, waving the flag for men who aren’t ashamed to be fathers and husbands and searching the internet for men in places other than dickssportinggoods.com.  As a public service to both my readers, I will let you know that I started at the simple, five-letter version of that URL and let’s just say I had no trouble finding men there.

While they didn’t seem to have much interest in my blog, even THEY read Ms Single Mama.

Posted in Being a Daddy, Being a Writer | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »