Posts Tagged ‘me’

The Porosity to Hate

15 November 2011

Dear J-

I think it must take a special kind of asshole to make a four year-old cry. And I spy him in the mirror. There are no doubt valid reasons to be angry with the kid as she keeps pushing boundaries and testing patience but once you’ve made the point you need to back off and calm down instead of continuing to wield the hammer of discipline. Last night I asked figgy to turn down the volume on the computer and she looked straight at me and turned it up. I turned it back down and she turned it up again so I turned the whole computer off in the middle of a YouTube video about cakes. Point made.

Then I continued to browbeat her (and in retrospect probably shouldn’t have turned it back on given that she’s learning that a few tears and a tantrum grease the skids to having her own way) to get the point across. Unnecessary. The kid I end up dealing with at the end of the night is cranky from being tired and cranky from some possible illness that she might still have and cranky from not having me around to plonk down on. And I hate that, I hate the situation that keeps me out of the house this much but lately it feels like I’ve been misdirecting that righteous anger against the wrong people.

In Internet parlance getting dooced is being fired for blogging about work (inappropriately should be the qualifier but with the way the economy has been and employment contracts written up as at-will, even that distinction seems to be going by the wayside). More than anything else lately it’s fear that drives me, fear that keeps me headed off to work and smiles and nods all around, yessir, what can I do for you today and I can, I will, I’ll get to it. But being trapped in the endless cycle of work and satisfaction and approval that we all crave from authority figures doesn’t mean that I have to let it seep through. The only thing Reagan’s trickle-down economy has given me is porosity to hate and discontent: I pass it down because there’s people smaller than me. And that’s not acceptable.

Mike

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Doomed to History

3 November 2011

Dear J-

In a peculiar display that can only be called a first-world problem, our TiVo gave up the ghost earlier this week and so we’ve been without TV for a while. Which honestly has been fine for the evenings as we usually spend the time consuming content, but lately figgy has been very much into YouTube and what she calls cake videos — which at this point have grown to include pretty much anything people make in the kitchen. Certain characters have therefore become huge heroes of hers and I hear her pottering away in the bedroom, arranging the pretend-cakes just so on a plate and signing off on her broadcasts by saying who she is and who she works for (“I’m Liv Hansen for the Betty Crocker Kitchens.”)

When I was six I discovered my parents old tape recorder and armed with a blank tape I was encouraged to go ahead and record myself broadcasting the news as I’d hear on the kitchen radio every morning: this is CBS News, with Dan Rather or Bob Schiefffer. I cleverly concealed their parody identities by reordering the names: Rather Dan or Schieffer Bob, of course. I don’t recall what happened to the tape (let’s just say that if someone didn’t already throw it away, it could be decent fodder for the Star Wars Kid of 1981), but I do remember there were follow-up tapes and that we listened to it in the car maybe a few times before I only got interested in making the VU Meter jump in a crazy fashion until that tape recorder gave up as well.

I see tendencies from both of us in the kids, good and bad. There’s frustration when the world doesn’t bow down before us and just work right (I spent a day or two weighing the purchase of something like a Boxee Box versus another TiVo given how little we actually watch TV lately, and how all we seem to need is a YouTube connection to the TV … or, y’know, an XBox would do just as well, wouldn’t it?). There’s the dead-on imitation of adult life and habits, at turns both funny and uncomfortable. I wonder if they’ll make the same mistakes and struggle through to the other side stronger for it or if I should find a way to teach those lessons more gently and realize that it’s quickly becoming not my life to lead for them. And I wonder if we shouldn’t move someplace smaller, or if the ego of big fish little pond is at work again. Do we escape the appeal of the past or are we doomed to history?

Mike

Ripple Mirror

1 January 2011

Dear J-

We broke one of our semi-traditional traditions today and didn’t go to Coronado as we had the past couple of years; the beach is a nice place to seek out renewal and peace on a winter’s day, waves bringing and removing sand indifferently to our efforts.  Although we did get some more sleep than we typically do, it was bought at the expense of figgy’s illness — one of these winter colds has laid her low and so today was unusually quiet.

Calcifer is, theVet claims, smiling at her occasionally.  Thus far all I’ve drawn is a scowl or, more often, a howl depending on how close I am to disrupting his routine of eating and pooping.  His routines, in fact, have dictated our radius of action, and thus we go only as far as the nearest feed-friendly area is (often home, so we’ve gotten to know the neighborhood a lot better lately).  It’s another strike against going to Coronado, though.

The real fun to be had is in looking into the half-size and thirty-years-earlier mirror that is figgy; as crabby as I get, she matches the depths and heights and is generally unafraid of roaring as needed to get her point across.  I suppose that these may not be the most socially-relevant things to be teaching her, but I should probably call my parents to figure out how they dealt with me.  It’s a fine line between crushing the spirit and toeing the line.

Mike

Day 10: Rage Machine

2 April 2010

Dear J-

I’ll come right out and say it: why this Conflict Management isn’t either a longer class nor mandatory doesn’t make a ton of sense to me; today felt rushed to accomodate a schedule, but there was still so much more to be learned — this is life, after all. Now all I need is lessons in how to convince your three year old that bedtime isn’t punishment. The class was eye-opening in terms of philosophy and how they should inform your actions. It all stems from a fundamental belief that we need to know ourselves — and therefore what we can control; from there we work to control our reactions into measured response and quiet resolve.

I can help others better by understanding what they want and trying to figure out a mutually beneficial solution. To paraphrase a story, two girls who want the same orange split it in half. One, disgusted with the other, eats the fruit and discards the peel but stays hungry — the full orange would have been sufficient; the other, disgusted with the one, zests the peel and discards the fruit angrily, without enough for her recipe, the dish won’t turn out right. They both wanted the orange, but wouldn’t there have been a happier scene if they had talked out why?

It seems like common sense, doesn’t it? For the most part, too, it is; you need to realize that there’s nothing magical about conflict management. And that’s the beauty of it; there are no secrets, only real tools anyone can use. I look at my life with new eyes tonight, how easily I’ve allowed myself to slip into rage without realizing what or how I react. If it’s as simple as knowing who I turn into when I’m angry, and being disgusted by that face in the mirror, then everyone should take the course. We’ve ended each week so far on high notes; future weeks have high standards to uphold.

Mike

My World

22 August 2008

Dear J-

Short entry tonight; I’m sick and a little sorry for myself as I’m going back to work on Sunday.  With any luck I can wangle a day off or two out of it, but it’s hard to see the upside of working four weekends out of five.

When did the US Olympic Committee become such whiners?  As if leading the medal count isn’t enough, they have to go and issue challenges and request disqualifications when the results don’t go our way.  I understand the persecution complex, but isn’t it more impressive to suck it up and let the court of public opinion try the case?

Mike