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Is Clint Edwards an Alien? And an Amazing One At That?

Years ago, Clint Edwards reached out to me on social media about doing a collaboration together. Clint is an affable person, and it showed through the work of his page and blog No Idea What I’m Doing. At the time, I had begun gaining some traction with my writing. Sites were publishing my work as long as I remained disciplined enough to sit and write it. It was a pretty cool time in my life.

I’d love to say the collaboration resulted in this everlasting friendship I love and cherish to this day. Unfortunately, it never happened. I am a little hazy on the details, but I believe I somehow blew it off. If I remember correctly, I was supposed to do a follow-up or something which never occurred. We never got to write together. At the time, it felt totally out of my comfort zone to collaborate with someone on writing. I remember trying to riff guitars with a guy in my dorm room freshman year of college. Afterwards, the guy said I was a terrible guitar player. To his point, I was, but still. Incidents like that always stick with you. When Clint reached out, the idea of that happening again was way too much for my self-esteem. I didn’t want to sit and collaborate on a piece only for Clint to realize how truly terrible of a writer I really was.

I missed out on this amazing opportunity to work with a great person. Over the years, I have gotten to enjoy watching Clint grow from his blog, to a part of a writing staff on a prominent site, to a now THRICE-published author. His journey has been truly incredible.

The past is the past for a reason, or whatever Rafiki says in Lion King. Have you guys seen the live motion picture forty billion times, too? Oh man, we have some catching up to do.

I’m basically saying I am ready for that collaboration, Clint. I need to cash in on those coattails!

Clint AGAIN reached out to me a couple months ago about his new book, Silence Is a Scary Sound, which is available NOW! I got the opportunity of a lifetime to get in on the ground-level. Of course I accepted. The book is out today, and it is worth the read.

That’s it! I am done.

“It’s worth the read.” Briton “Punk Rock Papa” Underwood. 

Slap that on the back of the next book!

I could dive into the sincere stories* telling you of Clint’s ability to bring that heartwarming feeling and a smile to your face.

*Sometimes Getting Up In The Night Was The Only Chance I Had To Feel Like a Dad is a mouthful and a beautiful story. It’s like a fine wine; warming you up on a crisp November Night (BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW).

Or we could talk about the joys of bringing a potty training to Disneyland (Clint did, so we don’t have to.)**

**Seriously good story from The Threenager section. No spoilers, but Aspen could probably out-pee a race horse. It’s basically Seabiscuit if Seabiscuit peed at Disney…A lot! I haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t know many race horses by name. (BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW).

Now, I’ve had the pleasure to watch Clint grow. Our friendship song is Every Breathe You Take. I’ve read his book, I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband. I OWN IT (BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW). This guy seems too good to be true. Not like a phony-bologna type of thing. I don’t think he is making this stuff up. We don’t have to do a whole Oprah-Million Little Pieces takedown.

I just think Clint might be too good to be an actual person. I have this conspiracy that aliens exist and Clint Edward’s is probably their ambassador to the parenting world.

If Clint is not an alien- I apologize in advance to Mel for assuming you were alien by association.- he is just that amazing and genuine of a person.

I can’t say enough good things about Clint, or the words he has written. His new book is fantastic. If you haven’t checked out his other books, or his popular blog, consider this an opportunity to do so.

If you’d like to join my book club, Clint Edwards is an Alien, this month we will be going over how Dad’s Never The Favorite is actually an allegory for how much Clint misses his home planet.  

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We will find the truth. Thanks for letting me do this, Clint!

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Punk Grew U

Trigger Warning

“We need to talk tomorrow”
“About what?”
“You know what we need to talk about. What happened at school earlier.”

My son lowers his head to shoulder-length, pulling his favorite green and blue blanket up over his head. His eyes raise to the video chat, wide, filled with a mixture of uncomfortable sadness and embarrassment.

*****

I try to remain composed as my ex-wife explains the phone call from the school. My son, at six-years old, is saying he wants to kill himself. I try to focus on my breathing, fake smiling to the people passing by. I grit my teeth, asking what we do. She doesn’t has a clue. She’s ‘tapped out’, as she puts it.

What the fuck do you do?

She lets me know I can expect a call in an hour or so. I hang up before I lose composure. The next hour, the motions of work seem to drain by in slow motion. I’m here, but my heart is seeking out the murmurs of my son; trying to divine a connection from the many miles between us. Maybe if he somehow feels the thumping, through some cosmic miracle, he can unload whatever hurts; allowing me to carry his pain with my own.

******

My ringer goes off an hour and five minutes later. The social worker has a pleasant, calming, voice as she asks me if I am busy. She outlines what happened. My son had become fixated on a toy at school. The little magnetic ’T’, he, for some reason, had no interest sharing when the time came. As the teacher took the toy, he quietly said to himself, “I want to kill myself”

I try to wrap my head around it. I hear the social worker talk about risk management, this and that, I don’t know- I am not in this conversation. I’m thinking about my mother telling me how my sister is dead, via self-inflicted gunshot wound. I’m years removed, in the tufts of morning light with a bunch of pills and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I try to bring myself back to this point. To my child with the infectious grin. The clever boy, who daily outmaneuvered his siblings using tact beyond his years. My gifted little artist.

The voice on the phone tells me she doesn’t believe he understands the concept of suicide. How he can be attention-seeking at school. I bring up his goodnight phone call a few nights ago to his mom where he mentioned being called a ‘loser’ by one of his peers.

She tells me of her extensive time in his well-supervised classroom setting. How she’s ‘NEVER’ heard the children behave that way towards one another.

I wonder if it’s my heart miles away, or my mind years into the past, but through the fog of not being here; all I hear is blame.

And I am angry as fuck.
My six-year old said he wanted to kill himself and you want to tell me he has attention-seeking tendencies? You want to talk about how he doesn’t understand what he was saying- he was just saying it to get a reaction. Didn’t you just tell me he said it to himself?

Rage fills me.

“I’m trying to tell you my son stated he was bullied. In today’s society, with how serious the repercussions of that are- you’re going to chalk it up to him being disruptive, minimilazing my concern because of how well-supervised he is?”

Minimalizing. I’m so angry, I know the word is wrong but I don’t fucking care. I’m aching sixty miles away. I need to hold my son. I need to protect him.

“I’m worried about my child’s mental health right now, you know, since he is six and saying he wants to kill himself.”

She backpedals, and I can hear that pleasant, calming voice, become exasperated.

I’m breaking. Rambling angrily at this lady through the phone. She tries to course correct, apologizing and promising there is no minimizing of my concerns.

twenty-seven minutes later, I’ve spent an hour and forty minutes torn between the here and now, and everything in between.

******

Bedtime rolls around, and I make my nightly call to say goodnight. Before I talk to my kids, their mother and I talk about what’s next. We don’t know.

Who the fuck knows?

My son is his usual cheery self. I tell him how much I love him and miss him. I place emphasis on loving him so goddamn much. I let him know I know and we will talk about it.

******

The drive home from work is about an hour of talking to myself and sad music. Forming what I will say to a six year old with the rest of his life ahead of him who said he wanted to kill himself.

I get home, grabbing a beer to decompress.

The crying begins

*****

My six-year-old son sits on my bed, and I tell him a story he’s never heard about an aunt he never knew.

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My Parenting Foible

It’s hard out there for a newborn. And youngest child. And being one of three boys. And having twins as older brothers. And those twins being crazy toddlers. When mom and dad have to chase toddlers around, sometimes the baby gets lost in the mix. Sometimes the only person looking out is the dog, who slowly drags her disgusting tongue across baby face in a caring, yet gross, way. Another day in the life of Ezra, who is known as Emu. Another day of dad forgetting I’m in the  cart momentarily.  Continue reading

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Green skinny jeans and spaghetti stains

It’s always fun to take the circus i affectionately call a family out into public. Behold! The tattooed punk and his freakish family! The identical boy twin wonders! The wife two inches too short; it is quite possible she is a dwarf! A grumpy new born; he oddly reminds us of Benjamin Button! And a ferociously adorable pitbull, the ferocity of her kisses! How can that mohawked man be a good father in those green pants?

I guess we don’t exactly have that nuclear family look.

That’s fine.

Fuck normality.

Continue reading

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Drowning Inside

I must preface this with a warning. This is about the loss of my mother. It’s honest and raw emotions. I lost my mother on January 28th to a heart attack. Her death was so unexpected and caught my family completely off guard. Writing about it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Below is me, laid bare, looking for solace in getting out what I have kept inside. Thank you for taking the time to read about this time in my life.

It’s interesting the waves of emotion attached to the death of a loved one. You’re suddenly no longer in control of yourself, as a tsunami of suffering wages on inside of you. It feels as if you are drowning in whatever emotion grips you in that moment. Once the water is finally less choppy, another wave crashes in and pulls you under.

That’s how I’ve felt these past few weeks. It’s hard to look in a mirror without the freckles I inherited from my mother jumping out at me. Dotted reminders of a woman I will never see again.

When I was eight I moved across the country to live with my brother. I saw my mother a couple of times for a few years after that. The visits became infrequent, as did the letters and phone calls. I was sixteen the last time I saw my mother. For most of my life, I was away from her.

I would often think about her possible death while growing up without her around. How tortured is that, a boy playing out his reactions to his mother’s death on a loop in his head; unable to shut it off.

How would I react? Would it be like hearing about the death of a stranger? Would it even move me to tears or any sort of emotion? How fucked up am I for playing out the scenario of her passing in my head almost weekly since I was eight?

These past few weeks I have learned the answers to such questions.

Growing up away from my mother I had developed this resentment for her. She had always made me feel like it was us against the world. Sending me to Connecticut felt like abandonment. My sadness over being away from my mother turned into a hatred for her.

When I was sixteen I flew out to Colorado to spend time with my mom. Before going, I spent time mentally prepping myself to be tough; to shield myself from potential hurt or disappointment.

I did the same thing a few weeks ago when I had to go to her funeral.

Visiting with her at sixteen, I told her how I felt. How she hurt me, abandoned me, didn’t love me and fucked up my life by not being a part of it.

The pain of a child who truly felt alone in this world.

“It was us against the world, and then, you were gone.”

I remember the understanding, weighted in sadness, those eyes I stared into held. Those eyes, that matched my own. In color and pain.

“I love you son. I’m sorry, but I want you to know I love you.”

Letters and infrequent phone calls did nothing to convey the feelings I longed for. I didn’t know that she loved me, I needed to see her and hear her say it. In that moment I realized it wasn’t hate I harbored. It was longing. I wanted my mother. I wanted to be her son. I wanted to feel like, even with miles between us, she still loved me.

I forgave my mother. Largely because it was exhausting carrying on a façade of toughness. I wanted to be loved by the person I spent my youth feeling inseparable from.

It was us against the world all over again.

How will you react to her death? What will you do when the ball drops?

Questions that constantly ran through my mind, since I was eight.

“Get the fuck off of me”

Twenty minutes staring at a wall, followed by those words.

My wife lay on me, sobbing, after waking me to tell the news.

“Your mother passed away, I’m so sorry”

I wanted to be alone. To scream and cry and die inside.

“Get the fuck off of me.” All I could muster in my state of complete and utter shock.

It now truly was me against the world. Paralyzed, unable to move, unable to register the news I had just heard.

My mother was gone. Forever.

The emotions overloaded and short circuited my insides. A numbness crept in as subconsciously I began trying to protect myself from the news. I stared at the wall, pondering whether to punch it until feeling returned to my body. I was too numb to even do that. My phone beeped and buzzed with missed calls and texts. My aunt, my brother. Trying to get a hold of me and let me know what had happened.

My mother was dead. Only two weeks removed of outlining a plan to visit and meet the kids. To visit me, her son, who she hadn’t seen in seven years.

I couldn’t sleep well for a few days. Over and over I tried to rationalize her death in my head. Friends told me to write about it. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I always try to write in a positive fashion. Nothing about this made me feel positive. I hardly could leave bed. When I left bed, seeing my kids would make me want to cry, so I retreated back to my bed.

People around me worried for me. It made me feel bad.

So I began to pretend to be okay. To hold up appearances, I smiled. I acted like I had grips on the situation.

All the while I was drowning inside.

The outpouring of support only made me feel more of a need to put on a smile. I couldn’t disappoint those who took the time to care. I couldn’t wallow in sorrow, although it had swallowed me inside.

So I began a new façade of toughness.

The return to Colorado, I steeled myself. Mentally readying against hurt and disappointment, all over again.

A nightmare trip out there only made me grit my teeth more. We landed in Colorado after a missed flight, lost debit card and two hours of sleep, the day of the viewing.

I didn’t want a viewing. Seeing her lay there, lifeless, I hated it. I wanted to reach out and touch her hand, but was afraid of how cold it would feel. My kids said goodbye to her, not nearly grasping how much it shattered my heart having to say the words, “Say bye bye to grandma, we love you mom”.

My mother got to meet her grandkids. And my heart broke under the circumstance.

Reconnecting with family because of death is commonplace. You bury the hatchet, if only for the fact that you don’t want to bury a loved one without saying I love you one last time. The trip to Colorado was more of a reunion than a funeral. Family and friends with longstanding feuds laid past grievances to rest alongside my mother.

“It’s what she would have wanted.”

The whole process only made me more numb. Picking out urns. A beautiful green one, my mother’s favorite color.

Four overwhelming days of reconnection and reconciliation. All I wanted was to cry and scream and die inside. My façade of toughness, mixed with deflection, held.

The return home went smooth. As I moved everything inside, first thing I did was delicately place her green urn on a shelf, careful to make sure it had space around it. I haven’t come to look at it since.

Life went back to normal. The world continues to move rather quickly after loss.

“What you been doing, bitch?”

“Your mom, shit, I’m sorry”

A coworker cracks a joke, only realizing too late how insensitive and too soon it is.

“It’s okay, it was an accident”

I drank and sobbed in the shower for a half hour the next day. I knew it wasn’t on purpose, but the memories it brought back broke my shield. I began to drown. Again.

I hate the eggshells those around me walk on. I hate having to pretend I’m okay when I’m nothing more than a sixteen year old, trapped, who needs to look in his mother’s eyes and hear her say “I love you” one more time.

That accidental comment was less than a week ago.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is no amount of faking that will make the loss of my mom any easier. I hope time saps the strength of this constant inner storm that rages.

All I know is the person I need to hear I love you from rests on a shelf in a shiny green urn. A shelf I can’t bring myself to look at. My mother is gone. And it’s me against the world again.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Dear love,

This Valentine’s Day will be one for the books! As soon as I figure out what the date actually is, we will hallmark it up! Roses, you like those right? That’s your favorite flower, right? Awww screw flowers, our love is eternal whereas flowers wilt and fade away! The chocolates, yes I shall buy you a heart box filled with chocolates! Your favorite chocolate is…white chocolate, right? Screw chocolates, you don’t need it! No, no,no! I didn’t call you fat! You still have the damn chocolate from Halloween on top of the fridge! You know, the basket that was YOURS, because you said I would eat all your chocolate!

Ok, ok- what about a card. You like funny and silly. Or was it deep and sentimental. Shit! Dinner? I’ll take you out for Gyros even though you know I despise them, this is YOUR holiday anyways. Oh, now you want nothing! Don’t lie, I’m not falling for this one again! You said that about our anniversary and i slept on the couch for two weeks! Our anniversary, that’s soon too right? Why not do a two-for-one? Oh, now you want something for both days, I see.

Well, I wrote you a poem. Yes honey, a poem. No I didn’t steal it from the Internet! *sigh* ok HALF was stolen from the Internet. Only the roses are red violets are blue part are plagiarism sweetie!

I give up! I give up! Here’s some flowers, chocolate, a card with a poem and some jewelry!

Oh…I love you too, Im glad you like it. No, it wasn’t a big deal- I just wanted you to know I love you. Can’t wait till next year. Is it sex time yet?

Love, Always and forever.

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Two years down, many more to come!

It’s hard to believe we approach the two year anniversary of me being a parent next month! I can’t wait to have a gigantic celebration in my honor for surviving another year raising boys! The road hasn’t been easy, but I’ve made it this far!

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In honor of my children’s fast approaching birthdays, I feel an obligation to impart wisdom on fellow parents. The things I have learned in the first two years of parenting boys who happen to have the same birthday. (twin boys!)

There comes a point, around the first ultrasound, that you begin to lose rights to your Facebook. What used to be party pictures is rapidly replaced by toothless grins and spaghetti messes. Embrace living in the age of the Internet! Like those embarrassing photos from middle school now circulating the Internet waiting to be discovered and made into a meme, your children’s photos will never be lost. Facebook has become a family photo album, which you should be actually quite ok with. It’s nice to catch so many “likes” on a photo that melts your heart. Whenever having a down day, you can swipe through the photos on Facebook and have your heart melt all over with nostalgia.

Accept the fact that each milestone will be filled with equal parts joy and sorrow. You will be happy to watch your child develop, obviously. But, it’s so bittersweet. Often times, I look back longingly at the days before running and talking; when my kids wanted nothing more than to snuggle up with me on the couch and watch sportscenter.

Not every moment needs a picture. I know, I just talked up photos, but hear me out! Most of the time I am too busy enjoying and living a moment to capture it. Some memories are forever etched in your heart. I just spent a week bonding and enjoying my families company in Colorado. I took twenty five photos with my fun and a million memories tattooed forever onto my heart. Catch a smile, cherish a moment.

Tantrums are not personal. Sometimes your kid just has a shit day, they are human. You have bad days, I have bad days, kids have bad days. Being a parent is about being able to assess the situation and redirect it, you’re not the one who should be throwing the temper tantrum. Too many parents get ridiculously frustrated with a screaming kid. Walk away instead of losing patience and dropping to child like mentality. I smoke. If I need fresh air for five minutes I’ll step outside and rip a cigarette. Smoking is better than exploding on my kid, so shove the “smoking is bad” talk. Seriously, just step back. Kids cry, they don’t know what they want sometimes, just like you. Be the cooler head.

Let your children be children. Join them in being children! Kids are blessed with such a pure form of joy, untouched by complexity. There are no gray areas, it’s happy or sad. It’s nice to momentarily fall into the black and white. Kids are a chance to relive the purest form of joy. Bask in it before the world steals their innocence and everything becomes mired in layers.

The zero to two year old phase passes way to fast. Just yesterday we were in NICU. Now they run and play games and it’s too much sometimes. My youth has been slowly siphoned off. But it’s been worth it. Absolutely worth every midnight feeding or stinky diaper. The fulfillment of parenting is unrivaled. Trading in video games for Kipper wasn’t an easy transition, not going to lie. But it’s absolutely worth it. So cheers to two years past, this parenting gig has been my favorite activity to date.

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Oh, and one last final advice. Hide the knife block, far out of toddler reach. For everyone’s safety.

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