Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Lonestar One Word Or Two?

Dear Blog,

I was just looking through you for some evidence that I've been working on a television show that I sold last August, wrote last fall, and shot a pilot for this spring. But it doesn't look like I told you any of this. Probably because at each step I was sure it wasn't going any further and so it seemed less important than telling you about what my kids had thrown up that day.

Anyway, I did all those things and now you will be able to enjoy/hate the fruits of our labor this fall. Knowing me as many of you do you probably find it distressing that a large corporation like Fox would devote airtime to something that had fallen out of my head and dried on pieces of paper. You probably want to rush out and sell your Newscorp stock. That's fair. I'll wait. Now that your retirement portfolio is safe, let me just say that, well, I think the show's actually going to be pretty good. Maybe not Seinfeld good, but at least Rhoda good. If Rhoda was a drama about bigamy.

The downside is that we'll have to write all the episodes in LA which means that for the foreseeable future I'll be spending weekdays there and weekends at home. Amy is excitset about this, which is a new emotion she created that's equal parts excited and upset. Excited that there will finally be a show about bigamy on a major network. Upset that she will be alone with three children when it airs on Monday nights.

My absences have also taken a toll on the house. All the little things that used to get fixed when I was here and we were both just oozing free time seem to be permanently backburnered. I may have mentioned that our microwave started to beep randomly and turn itself on and off at will, just spreading noise and radiation around the house. But it's screwed into the cabinets which really makes taking it in a bigger task than Amy's up for or I have time for so it just continues to beep and cook air. There's also a window about halfway down our stairs that you can't actually reach, the sill of which snagged a piece of clothing we threw over the balcony to be washed. Since then we've just been throwing more clothes at the original stuck item to try to dislodge it. The result is a heap of clothing that runs about halfway up the window which grows each day. Again, a few minutes to dig out the ladder would probably fix it, but when you're just here two days a week you tend to hope that you're just one more piece of clothing away from starting the avalanche that will liberate everything.

Anyway, I'm excited. I'm sure we'll be canceled in short order once someone realizes their mistake, and then I'll have all the time in the world to fix microwaves and get clothes out of windows. Until then, I'm going to be paid to surround myself with brilliant people and make stuff up. Given that five years ago I was working in construction and crawling around in laundromat ceilings, I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'll See You In Hell, Vacation

Yesterday as I was walking through the airport with two screaming children in my arms, another screaming child strapped to my chest, and large amounts of luggage trailing behind me I felt like I should get Trojan to sponsor all of our family activities. For small fee I would gladly wear sign that read: Don't Want To End Up Like This Asshole? Wear A Condom! I predict sales would skyrocket in my wake. Forget condoms, I could convince people to join the priesthood.

The following is an account of what I hope will remain THE WORST VACATION EVER. If anything else rises up and claims the title, I hope it kills me. The plan was simple: take the whole gang to Mexico for what may be one of the last weeks I have off for some time to come. We did not get far before the problems began.

At the airport it turned out that Stacey had not gotten the proper paperwork to leave the country although we discussed the need to do so at length over the course of the months leading up to the day. So instead of taking along an extra pair of hands, we were already down a man and out hundreds of dollars in non refundable air and hotel fees. AWESOME!

Those of us who remained were on the plane for about ten minutes before Ripples began to throw up. Only then did I understand the phrase Projectile Vomiting. As Amy struggled to clean everything out of her lap I had to point out that it was also all over the back of the seat in front of us. Blowing Chunks also suddenly made sense.

We repeated the vomiting while eating in the airport during our plane change, then again on our next flight where the flight attendant berated Amy, an er doctor, about the importance of hydrating Ripples. By the time we got to Mexico everything we owned was covered in vomit.

Then we got to customs. Let's not even talk about the line. The line is child's play. The line is the sort of thing you complain about when you have nothing else to really complain about. The only important thing about the line is the fact that we were literally the last people in it. And when we got to counter it turned out that Amy, doctor Amy, planning super mom Amy, had neglected to actually look at her own passport, which was EXPIRED. This led to our vomit covered family being pulled into some sort of interview room at midnight in Mexico where it turned out that the price of trying to get into Mexico with an expired passport is a 'tip' for 47$ and ten Euros. Let me just say that if you haven't bribed a mexican official while wearing a four month old you really haven't lived.

The next day, mother's day, we were at least there, on vacation, at the beach, ready to HAVE FUN. Except it wasn't. Ever. At all. Ripples began to break out in some sort of rash to accompany her fever and vomiting. Mars got in on the fever thing and cried and cried, and then cried more. The whole day is just a blur of crying and screaming and sludge like strawberry daiquiris. All I know is that it ended at dinner with our friends and their children. Six adults v. six children. I cannot describe to you the horror of that evening except to say that if cyanide pills had been on the menu I would have ordered them as an appetizer. If I had been another patron in the restaurant I would have murdered us all with my butter knife. Also, let me just say now, once and for all, I hate asian food. Fuck asian food.

That night we laid in various beds with various children and did not sleep, but listened to them scream. When they screamed for Mommy even when mommy was holding them I knew that we were not going to make it. In the morning Amy changed our flight and began to pack. Suddenly the amount of money wasted on Stacey's paperwork aborted trip looked minuscule, and the amount we were wasting to get out of ours looked worth it. Had I known what was coming, I would have rethought my bribe to get into the country. When the official said, "what should we do about this situation?" I would have just asked if they had separate prisons for adults and children.

Anyway, we were going home! Yay! And we had a little more time to play at the beach and the pool. Yay! So while Amy packed, the girls and I went swimming. Except Ripley didn't like the water so she kept trying to pull a large umbrella down on herself while Nixie swam. Until Nixie wasn't swimming, and I heard people mumbling things and suddenly running toward the pool and looked up to see her floating face down in the middle. I joined the herd of people jumping in, pulled her up, got her out of the pool and found her extremely confused, but after a little coughing and spitting, completely fine. Her swimming companion seemed far more traumatized just for having witnessed the panic of adults flying into a pool. Let me just say a couple things about face down floating children: I cannot imagine a more primal terror than looking into a pool and seeing it, but the look on your wife's face when she sees you having to pull one of the children you were supposed to be watching out of a pool because they are floating face down is a feeling of personal failure on par with little else. In addition to blowing chunks, and projectile vomiting, the phrase 'I just looked away for a second' has new meaning.

But then, but then, we were headed home. At which point the girls began to practice a form of non-violent resistance right out of a civil rights demonstration. Basically, anytime we needed them to go somewhere, they laid on the ground and forced you to drag them like luggage. Which is what we did, along with the actual luggage. Which is what we were doing when I realized I looked like a walking advertisement for castration.

And now it's over. I'm home. We're home. Alive. Safe. All that stuff. But... I don't know. I think we're a lot worse off. At some point in the past I think I thought or wrote or read somewhere (who the hell knows) that having kids was like starting a business. And you take this person you love and you essentially make them a business partner. And at some point all you can talk about is the business. I can't recall a SINGLE SECOND of our trip where Amy and I weren't talking about one of the kids and the various ways in which they were trying to kill us. I was on a beach in Mexico in the general area of the woman I love and I don't think we so much held hands unless it was to exchange a dirty diaper or pawn off a screaming child. Is it heartwarming to see your daughters scream at the waves to 'go away' as they roll in and 'come back' as they roll away? Yes. Is Nixie incredibly sweet and Ripples fiendishly clever and Mars capable of smiling with his whole body? Yes. Is it enough? No. Not for me.

A long time ago a friend told me about all the things he was going to continue to do after he had children. His logic was, they're joining my life, I'm not joining theirs, so they'll just have to do what I do. And while it's true, you can make your children follow you anywhere, they can beat you at your own game. They can make you hate the very things you used to love. That's a scary powerful kind of voodoo.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

12 Hugs

I'm going through a hugging phase.

Last week I was home for 6 WHOLE DAYS and took the girls to a gymnastics class where their teacher explained that children needed 12 hugs per day for 'growth'. This seemed oddly specific. 10 hugs would shrink them? 14 would get them in the WNBA? She wasn't clear what the consequences for missing the mark were, just that 12 was the magic number.

Personally, little rules like this hold a lot of attraction for me. When I was in high school I read that keeping your hands in your pockets made you look weak and shifty. Since I felt like I looked extremely weak and very shifty it was a revelation to think that this might all just be the fault of my POCKETS! So I started pinning them closed to keep me from getting my hands in there. But it turned out that if I couldn't pocket my hands they just tended to flop around so that it looked like I was doing a little dog paddle as I roamed the halls. Weak and shifty or groping at the air like an escaped mental patient. Those were my choices for navigating high school. It was very difficult to find a prom date.

Anyway, I've taken up the challenge of 12 hugs per day to maintain my own 'growth'. This was super easy at home as the girls will hug anything upon request. "Nixie? Can you hug the remote control? Good. Now can you hug it while you walk to dad? Great."

Now that I'm back in LA it's way more difficult. I'm not really a hugger by nature. I'm more of a 'can't I just send you an email?' type. As the end of a day rolls around and I realize I've only bagged 10 hugs I have to start figuring out which of the people left it's going to be least awkward to hug. Will the sound mixer think it's odd if we hug goodbye? Will the security guard report me? Last night I only made it to 11 and I just couldn't find anyone else to hug. Three days ago I'd never heard of this rule, and now I'm laying in bed thinking of calling the front desk for a hug just to put me over the top.

Then this morning I was walking through an underpass (despite the lyrics, some people do walk in LA; the ones who are so cheap they'd rather walk than have to tip the valet to get their car back) and I passed a box with two buttons. One marked ACKNOWLEDGE and the other marked RESET. It was like an existential control panel. ACKNOWLEDGE, RESET. So I pushed the first one and then the second one, and then I felt like I probably shouldn't have pushed either and I ran for several blocks before the authorities could show up.

The point is, life is so complicated and messy that I love the idea you can somehow navigate it by just repeating a series of simple tasks. 8 glasses of water, 12 hugs, pin your pockets closed, mash some buttons under the freeway, and you're all set. Or reset according to the buttons.

As of today, we're done with the pilot. It's been an amazing experience, and no matter which way things go, the next few months are going to get complicated. Amy and I have been worrying about how we'd deal with the various eventualities. Now, I plan to just focus on hugging my way through it. If we see each other it would be great if you could spare one. Or twelve.

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