Alright today was supposed to be a good day.
The last few days (months) have been extremely depressing. Out of curiosity yesterday I figured out that I’m bringing in at the sub-poverty level for the last two months. I need to rally quick. While I laid in bed Dixon woke me up early today at 5:30am. He must figure I need to put in more hours. He and I snuggled for about an hour. If you have high blood pressure, stress, or thoughts of jumping off the top of your contemporary farm-house, get a cat. I even used him as a pillow and rested my head gently on him, just listening to him purr. He couldn’t have come into my life at a better time. While we laid there I came up with a couple new ideas to help focus my work. My plan today was to revamp the website and then reach out to a couple of entities that are part of my latest master plan. By 6:30am I was on the freeway to manic-ville. If all went as planned I’d be done revamping by lunchtime and on the phone or sending emails by one o’clock.
I printed out all the pages and started marking them up. I even went in the dining room to be with the family; after all I spend enough time in my 4×8 micro-office. I looked out at the softly falling snow. It danced in unseen air currents. Up and down. I love the snow out here. I told the wife I wanted to somehow live out here forever. It was nice.
Well the problem with working from home though is there is a steady stream of interruptions. If I have actual projects to work on it doesn’t seem to be a bother, but on ambiguous “try to get new work days” it’s impossible for me to concentrate. Today spiraled out of control quickly. Our little guy (the older of the two little guys) was making paper airplanes, which was pretty nice. Folded triangular-shaped sheets of paper with orange marker lines on ’em. Then we remembered we had a book that taught you about airplanes and has like twenty planes you can make yourself from their die cut templates in the back. So of course he wanted to make one of those. I wanted to say “no“, that I was working, but visions of society frowning down upon me made me think otherwise. Plus my own guilt. Here’s the truth, when you work a normal 8-5 you get to ignore your family during that time 5 days a week. You come home, feel guilty so you play with your kids, acknowledge your wife, blah, blah, blah. You get to leave work at that place. You get to leave your boss, co-workers, all the insanity behind and focus on family. Well, I live in this primordial goo of work-life balance. Technically I need to think about / do work 24/7. We’re at the point where I need to turn something around quick or we’re putting a for sale sign in the yard, packing cats, bees and everything in between. The last thing I need to do is build a paper airplane with my kid. So what did I do?
I built a paper airplane with my kid. And mentally it gut-shot my entire day.
It wouldn’t have been bad if the stupid paper airplane book was designed by anyone with half a brain [Ed. note: way too harsh and unfair assessment but I was fired up]. These things (the paper airplanes in the book) are super cool and detailed, but everything has to be glued together with Elmer’s glue and the glue tabs are like microscopic. Obviously designed by someone who NEVER had to put one together on the fly while your kid watches. You need to be an old retired guy with all day to make one of these. And of course our little guy picked out the most difficult s you can imagine, a P-38 Lightning. About five minutes in, with a little blond kid breathing down my neck I recruited the wife to help with glue drying duty.
Suffice to say, that by time I made it to the last few steps everyone quietly watched as I poured Elmer’s over the entire thing and jabbed strips of tape on it to go together. I’m surprised I didn’t bite through my tongue. I’ve mastered the art of the angry look, as have my kids – it really cuts down on the amount of yelling we all have to do. Fortunately my angry look carries the day; second only to when the wife has to deploy here angry look, in which case we’re all screwed. Anyway, after seeing my angry look, my son took to whispering requests to his mom out of fear that I’d hear him and flip out. Oh I was going to finish the damn plane if it was the last thing I did. The wife gets a gold star for her patience as my maturity went right on down past five years old and out the window.
That was it. Enough was enough. Mentally and emotionally I was shot. Making a paper airplane for your kid shouldn’t end with you mad at the world. I took the rest of the morning off and ran to get some art glue for the wife, along with lunch and gas for the car. I did burn outs in a RAV4, which isn’t even technically possible. I needed…need to get out of the house one way or another. Or barricade my studio door. I’m contemplating getting an office or storefront somewhere just so I have a place to go for work. Maybe I’ll erect an office separate from the main house….”honey, where’s joe’s number?”. I’ll be the only mental patient with a therapist and an architect.
During lunch my son was still avoiding eye contact and would whisper any requests by way of his mom. He was having a hell of a fun time flying his now dry, and improved by way of a motor and wires, airplane though. By time I got back to work and the wife got back to her work upstairs there was finally some peace and quiet. I was able to work on my business’ Pinterest board, which need populating. Tonight I can rework the website, as well as send out my inquiries that are sure to make me uber rich. Top secret 😉
As I worked this afternoon my son came and stood outside my office in the hallway. I could see him out of the corner of my eye. “Yes?” I would ask, with only a slightly angry look. He’d whisper something that I couldn’t hear. As an aside, It sounds awful if you’re not a parent, but I had instilled a certain degree of fear / respect in a kid that otherwise orders us around like we’re his servants on an hourly basis. No worries, he’d be back to typical 5-year-old state soon enough but for now he was asking politely. Oh, also, notice that the interruptions never stop. I don’t have the answer to unlocking that gem just yet; short of the aforementioned moving out bit. But I digress.
So I helped out on a couple occasions, responding to his whispering inquiries. Once to put ‘Tigger’ back on the DVD player and once to get put Gatorade in a glass. After all you can’t watch ‘Tigger’ without a drink in your hand, right?
I was pleased with my work progress on my Pinterest boards when I saw my wife and son in the hallway. She was off to go spray mount her artwork. As she went to the basement he came over and of course…
…whispering, he says: “I’m going to help mom. I’m going to make art for PBS Kids.”
“What?” I didnt understand at first then I got it.
“So she’ll have some art when PBS Kids comes.”
“Ahh, got it.” I said with a smile.
Well if that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, and make you want to off yourself at the same time. See, my wife is working hard to get some of her art done, both for a client and because PBS is coming later this week to tape here doing her art for one of their programs.
I just had to write about my day after that little gem of a moment. Yes, I know, today is pissed away, but I can (will) work late tonight. I just wanted to capture it before I forgot the details I suppose. As I write I can hear him upstairs in her studio, coloring and cutting; making god knows what. He says she can hang it on the magnet rail up there in his mom’s studio so the cameras can see it: so “she’ll have some art to show them” in his words. I’m not sure where he got PBS ‘Kids‘ from but I suppose in his world, that what ‘PBS’ is (PBS Kids are basically the only television programs the boys are allowed to watch in our house other than the crap the wife and I watch). I’m not sure he realizes she’s showing them her art, which there is plenty of all over the place here.
The wife got a big smile and tear out of the story, as did I, when I told her.
Look guys, here’s the deal: life isn’t always fair. You work hard, you work smart and things don’t always work out the way they should, and on schedule. No amount of pleasantries or cliches make any of it better. I think those just make the person saying them feel better. Unless you’ve gone through it yourself you don’t really know. I didn’t know. And if you think I, and my scenario, are an anomaly you’d be mistaken. I do know that I will figure it out. As for this place it’s nice out here but it’s not the end of the world either way. Maybe it’s like dating a super-model: you always figure it’s way out of your league and it’ll end at some point. For the record, I’ve never even met a super-model.
Life is an extremely dynamic environment, changing constantly, often with little notice. I guess you’re supposed to keep everything to yourself; fake it til you make it. God forbid anyone get uncomfortable because you share feelings, emotions and experiences that aren’t scripted. Well I’m not a robot and I’m certainly too old to play “pretend“. I’ve never been one to play to the masses or adhere to the norms, (as hard as that may be to believe based on the nerfy life I’ve trailed behind me to date). I don’t think a life that is all “ups” makes us very well rounded and experienced. I’m being fairly realistic, and I can say the stresses are profound.
Writing is an awesome way to think things through, release them, and rework them all over again. It’s not for everyone. I’m wired too tightly, differently to dwell on it in person. I’d rather go for a walk on the nature trail with you, looking at trees in the snow, than be a bore. In a way the last year has been a pretty cool experience.