martes, enero 24, 2006

Apocalypse Now

Not only did the Seattle Seahawks actually make it to the Super Bowl, but I managed to file my taxes 83 days early. Yes, even in this year where you've got two extra days to file, I, the Prince of Procrastination (I've been putting off becoming king for some time now), have already sent mine in. There’s still a week left in January, for goodness sake!

Best re-read Revelations, folks. There are just too many signs …

lunes, enero 16, 2006

I am an inadvertent asshole.

I’ve come to that conclusion recently after a painful bit of self-analysis. I never intend to be an asshole. Quite the opposite, in fact -- I specifically try to not be an asshole. Yet in too many cases my reluctance to push too far has led me to stop pushing at all. Naturally this has led to me being pushed around a little (read: a lot). That consequence I’ve been willing to accept. The problem is that my unwillingness to assert myself has cost the people around me. Long story short, I’ve put people around me in compromised situations. Understandably, this has led these people to believe that I am an asshole.

The specific things I do to avoid being an asshole are the things that make me an asshole. Irony?

So now I’ve been thinking about the root causes of my wayward sphincteric tendencies and how they impact the world around me. Why is it that I am so unwilling to assert myself? How many of the things I’ve done because they’re “the right thing to do” have I really done because they’re the easiest thing to do? How would things be different if I were to assert myself?

I have a lot of responsibilities. I am a divorced dad with two kids that live with me in a small apartment. I’ve been a father since I could buy alcohol using my own ID; my daughter was nine when I finally graduated college. I have spent more money than I’ve made, leaving me in a lot of debt. Now I am not trying to set up a “woe is me” mood here by any means. While I’ve had my fair share of willing accomplices, these are all situations I’ve created through my various actions and inactions. I’m just trying to set up where things are right now.

Sometimes (frequently) I feel overwhelmed by my responsibilities. This in turn leads me to feel scatterbrained, and I get into a mental state where I really don’t want to make any choices. A recent discussion along this vein has led me to look into adult ADD. With this simple and clear mission in mind, I hopped on the internet, looked up some ADD sites, and in the process proceeded to look up sports scores, my bank account, a some news articles, ten other mental health links, and a few blogs. Yeah, I’ll consider ADD as a possibility.

I’m also willing to consider obsessive-compulsive disorder. “But wait,” one who knows me might ask, “how can you possibly have OCD? You’re a slob!” Ah, very true. But few people who haven’t seen me prepare an Excel worksheet really know my secret perfectionist tendencies. Remember my scatterbrained / overwhelmed feelings from the last paragraph? (If not, have you considered looking into ADD yourself?) I have very specific ways that I want things done. If I don’t feel I have the time to do things the way I want them done (often the case when I’m feeling overwhelmed and scatterbrained), I will simply push off doing those things until I have the time. I have lots of projects ready to be started throughout my house and office. I am a perfectionist; I’m just not very good at it.

I am also a man of principles. Perhaps not morals or standards, but principles. When the X left I readily took over the bulk of the responsibility for the kids without fighting to ensure that she’d take on her “fair share.” My ultimate concern was not with her or me, it was with my kids. I knew that if I were force her to do very much at that point, she would push back at me in a way that would hurt them. I wanted them to get the most they could. In order to get the most from her for them, I had to cede a lot for myself. Besides, I firmly believe that I provided the better example for them and back then I had the better relationship with them. I knew she’d make a better part-time mom than full-time mom. Furthermore, I simply could not imagine giving my kids up. Prior musings notwithstanding, I have no regrets for letting her off the hook. In keeping the kids and taking on the extra responsibilities that come with being a single dad, I didn’t back down at all. That was perhaps the one time where I truly stood up.

Unfortunately, I think over time I’ve applied this same argument to too many potential conflicts. I finally did something right, and now I am trying to milk that as much as possible by sweeping everything into the same category. Considering what has happened to people I know who came from broken homes, I feel like I’ve spared my kids a lot of pain, concern, and all the problems that go along with watching parents fight by making sure that no fights happened when they were around. Donning my retrospectacles, however, I realize now that they really only didn’t see me fight.

That crashing sound you hear is shattering principles. Referring to Gandhi, I’ve often said that not fighting for the sake of not fighting is just as wrong as fighting just to fight. Yet there I was, getting beaten (verbally) to a pulp and not fighting back. I say I want the most for my kids, but I know I have not been able to be there for them like they need me to be because I am constantly feeling beaten down. I’ve said before I was willing to accept the consequence of getting pushed around a bit in my attempt to not be an asshole. By contrast, I am unwilling to accept others having to suffer for my sake.

I guess I’ve lived up to that last one. Unfortunately, I’ve chosen the “acknowledge” definition of accept, rather than the more appropriate “tolerate” definition. Donning the retrospectacles once again, I see that I’ve put my friends, my family, my kids, Ms N, and others through a lot of suffering. As for why I’ve accepted the circumstances I’ve gotten myself into – often times I’ve simply been too scared of what could go wrong that I’ve forfeited what could go right. I’ve been outright afraid. Ironically, I haven’t been willing to admit this before because – you got it – I’ve been afraid to. I’m too chickenshit to admit that I’m chickenshit.

I finally chose to be an asshole tonight. I made X accept a situation that she really did not want to accept. It scared the shit out of me (and all that was left was a pair of sneakers). I had to call my brother before calling her to get a confidence boost. “You don’t think you can be an asshole, so you’re calling me for advice?” he asked. “Thanks, Kevin.”

He’s told me before that he’s been truly impressed at my ability to persevere through some really crappy situations – my divorce, my marriage, etc. I’m more impressed by his ability to get keep himself out of those situations. I think I’ve achieved mediocrity simply because I’m too afraid to fail. In order to succeed, you need to risk failure. I know that, but I’ve been unwilling to accept that risk, and now I’m reaping the rewards of hesitance. Good things may come to those who wait, but better things are taken by those who don’t.

I’ve been commended for my ability to go with the flow even when times have been tough. Overall I think I have done a good job of keeping setbacks in perspective and I’m proud of my ability to keep on keeping on. But right now I am neither where I want to be nor where I should be. What I’ve been doing thus far is not getting me where I need to go.

I have to change, and that’s truly scary. I have to accept that sometimes it takes being an asshole to avoid being an asshole. (Especially with certain people. The X had the nerve to say I've screwed up her life!) Shudder.

And while it’s sometimes good to go with the flow, if you’re floating down Shit Creek you’ve got to paddle.

domingo, enero 15, 2006

If shit were gold, I'd have the Midas touch

lunes, enero 09, 2006


I was watching VH1 Classic yesterday (since now the 80’s are “classic”), and a Whitesnake video came on. Remember Whitesnake? Remember the chick who did the car hood dance in “Here I Go Again”? That was Tawny Kitaen, Tom Hank’s bride-to-be in Bachelor Party and the only reason to watch Witchboard. Oh, man, was she ever aesthetically pleasing. She even made it worth listening to Whitesnake songs!

It was painful to watch their videos, though, because they kept alternating between sexy shots of her dancing on the car and long-haired crater-face David Coverdale singing the song. She would stare seductively into your eyes, pulling you into the TV with her come-and-make-yours-and-my-dreams-come-true eyes. Her lips beckoned you closer, then she’d twirl slightly so her hair would partially cover her face dance-of-the-seven-veils fashion. The camera would pan back giving you time to soak in her amazingly sexy body. You’d study every inch of her as if she was going to be on the test. You’d just about be at the point of confirming that her legs do indeed go all the way up when WHAM! – she’s no longer on the screen and you’re now staring straight at pachyderm ass. It was traumatic. She was outright Tawnylicious; he looked like Manuel Noreiga in the witness protection program.

So naturally, after seeing this video, I went to the internets to see what kind of tawdry Tawny information I can find. After successfully finding out what her name was (that’s the one part of the test I never studied for), I did a quick Google image search. Twenty years ago she made me want to be a hood ornament in my next life; eleven years ago, as Kevin Sorbo’s wife in the Hercules series, she looked like this. Her 33 years apparently hadn’t been too hard on her thus far. I certainly wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers.

Now I remember hearing about the Cleveland Indians pitcher who was beat up by his wife a few years back. What I didn’t realize is that it was her! Tawny kicked his ass, he pressed charges, and she wound up in jail. Granted, press shots and mug shots are two different things altogether, but could it be this bad? Oh, the humanity.


Being a fan of the classics as I am, I’ve had VH1C on more often lately. Those were the days. Remember Nelson? Apparently Google doesn’t. A search for pictures of that band brought up Nelson from the Simpsons, Nelson Mandella, Willie Nelson, and Nelson & Napoleon. It took a bit longer to find this gem. How about Twisted Sister? (My former co-worker went to high school with Dee Snyder; she said he was kind of a dork.)

They showed the Kiss video “Heaven’s on Fire”, one of the band’s videos sans makeup. Removing the makeup was a good move. It’s hard enough to exude toughness when you’re wearing black leather with silver sequins, but to have a drummer who looks like an S&M kitty-cat … it’s just too much.

But who am I to say? They had millions of dollars and no shortage of hot women who were willing to bend over backwards to spend time with them (bending over backwards, no doubt). I certainly can’t say the same for myself – about the money or the women.

The biggest problem with Kiss is that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley just don’t look right together. Gene genuinely looks tough - just the type of guy you’d rather not run into, especially if you happened to be in a dark alley. Paul looks like an aerobics instructor. The fact that he was wearing hit pink gloves in one of their videos did not help. It’s Gene Simmons and Richard Simmons … with leather & lace Hello Kitty on percussion.

It’s the end of the world as we know it?

2006 brings the next likely day for the world to come to an end. The first Tuesday in June this year is the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year (of this millennium, at least) – 6/6/6 on the Gregorian calendar.

OK, so the end-of-the-world folks missed it with Y2K (although I did find a carton of milk that expired January 1900 six years ago), and then again with Y2K1, which of course is the true start of the second millennium. I seem to recall that the Nostradamusites thought August 19, 2000 was going to be the big day. Three days in a 366-day span in which the ol’ ball was due to topple out of orbit, and here the Earth is still spinning away.

Atheists will scoff at the numerologists and argue that there was nothing unique about January 1, 2000 or January 1, 2001, nor will there be anything unique about June 6. Those dates are more or less arbitrary. Some Gregorian way back when happened to pick the tenth day after the winter solstice as the day on which the new year was to begin and we’ve stuck with it ever since. We’re not all in agreement as to what date it is, anyways. According to the Jews, 2006 ended 3,760 years ago. The Chinese are up in the 5000’s as well. Various religious types have their own views of when the party will be over.

But there is some fun attached to the notion of 6/6/6. Word is that the peninsula town of Hel, Poland, is seeing a flood of bookings from vacationers for that day. And our friend Tom has an interesting story that pertains to that day.

I guess technically the world has to come to an end some day. After all, nothing is truly infinite. So it may be that we have 21 weeks left; if so, at least it happens after the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Or, we may have 21,000 weeks left. Nobody really knows. Barring supernatural intervention, the sun is supposed to explode in a few million years anyways. That will pretty much mark the end of world as we know it.

jueves, enero 05, 2006

I just assumed it was Number 2

I work for a tax preparation company. Every paid preparer of tax returns are required by law to put his/her name and identification number on the return he/she is being paid to prepare. You can either get a PTIN (Preparer’s Taxpayer Identification Number) or you put your social security number directly onto the return (not always a happy option when preparing returns for people you don’t know personally, which happens frequently when you work for a tax preparation company).

Last month, while updating my personnel file, my manager asked me if I had a pooh number. I looked at him like he had two heads. A pooh number? What the hell is a pooh number? My kid has a pooh number – it’s 2 and it means he’ll be in the bathroom longer than just a minute. The manager then restated it as PTIN and we went from there.

I forgot about the pooh number until I got my PTIN from the IRS this week. The first three digits are P – zero - zero.

Ah … POO. That explains it.

Inbox humor

Two Yankee men were driving through Texas when they got pulled over by a State Trooper. The cop walked up and tapped on the window with his nightstick. The driver rolled down the window and WHACK, the cop smacked him in the head with his nightstick.

"What the hell was that for?" the driver asked.

"You're in Texas, son," the trooper answered. "When we pull you over in Texas, you better have your license ready by the time we get to your car."

"I'm sorry, officer," the driver said, "I'm not from around here."

The trooper runs a check on the guy's license--he's clean and gives the guy his license back. The trooper then walks around to the passenger side and taps on the window. The passenger rolls down the window and WHACK, the trooper smacks him on the head with the nightstick.

"What'd you do that for?" the passenger demands.

"Just making your wish come true," replied the trooper.

"Making what wish come true?" the passenger asked.

"Because I know your type," the trooper says, "two miles down the road you're gonna turn to your buddy and say, 'I wish that asshole would've tried that shit with me!' "