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Archive for February, 2010

I was slammed last week and didn’t have any time to write. So today I’m posting a slightly modified version of my first post ever. I had zero readers at the time, so you probably haven’t seen it. Hope you enjoy.

*  *  *

I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. I won’t bore you with the details, but it boils down to having way too much on my plate. The last time I felt this amount of pressure was back in July. Whenever I get stressed, my body reacts in strange ways. So when I noticed a series of small red bumps near my right armpit during that trying time, I didn’t think too much of it. I should have, though. Within a week, the bumps had spread to both sides of my body, covering a significant area of my torso. They had also begun to itch. Badly.

Lovie begged me to see a dermatologist, but I was so slammed at work, I refused to take the time, choosing, instead, to throw every type of over-the-counter ointment imaginable at my red enemy. Sadly, the only thing these various salves seemed to do was make the damn thing spread. My regular inspections revealed drastic growth that conjured up images of kudzu.

Eventually, the itching reached the point to where I could no longer tolerate the sensation of anything brushing against any portion of the sensitive areas, which by then was virtually every area—the tops of my feet, my ankles, my calves, behind my knees, the inside of my thighs, my waistband, up and down both sides of my torso, under each of my arms, on the backs of my triceps, in the folds of my elbows, and even on the tops of my fingers.

So at night I resorted to sleeping completely nude and on top of the covers. During the day I turned to baggy clothes, like loose-fitting shorts and knit shirts that were a size too big. But such garb still brushed against my rash, so I turned up the legs of my shorts to minimize the contact, which exposed most of my thighs and gave me the appearance of a grape smuggler. I also rolled up the sleeves of my shirt, ala Schneider from “One Day at a Time,” only it wasn’t because I needed a place to park my smokes. It was because if I didn’t, I’d scratch my arms until they bled.

I think it's getting better. (and no, this is NOT actually me!)

Once discomfort (and humiliating fashion statements) became my twenty-four-hour-a-day companion, there was no sense in denying it any longer—I was a man with a full-body rash who was in desperate need of medical attention. If I had just gone to the dermatologist when the rash first appeared, it wouldn’t have turned into such a big deal. But it had turned into a big deal, and in so doing, it had also turned me into a walking raspberry–one who finally broke down and called the dermatologist.

“I’m embarrassed,” I said to Lovie on the morning of my appointment.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because these jeans make me look fat. Oh, and this five-and-a-half foot skin lesion I’ve been rocking for the past fortnight isn’t helping either. It’s so disgusting that I don’t even want the doctor to see it.”

“Honey, it’s not that bad.”

“Please, Lovie. You said yourself that you’ve never seen anything so nasty.”

A quick glance in my bathroom mirror that reflected the image of colossal red bumps covering the better part of my entire upper body provided confirmation of Lovie’s original assertation. Soiled Depends thought that thing was gross.

“Honey, relax. I guarantee this guy has seen worse things than that.”

That may have been true, but later that day I still fidgeted nervously as I described the situation to the dermatologist.

“Let’s have a look,” he said with a reassuring smile.

“It’s pretty disgusting,” I warned.

“You don’t have anything to worry about. Trust me—I’ve seen it all.”

“Okay,” I said as I began to peel off my shirt. “I just wanted to give you a heads up because…”

“Good God, that’s horrible!” he interrupted while recoiling in shock. “I’ll be right back,” he said as he abruptly left the room. I fully expected him to return with a photographer to conduct an impromptu, rash-inspired photo shoot that would forever immortalize me as the subject of one of those disturbing, skin-condition brochures that were shamelessly displayed on the shelf to my left. Instead he returned with a two-inch needle which he used to inject me with a double dose of steroids before handing me a prescription for an ointment originally concocted for the Elephant Man.

“By the way, John, the shot I gave you has been known to cause some minor side effects.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Acne, but it’s extremely rare. Less than a one-percent chance. I’m sure you’ll be just fine.”

Guess who went on to get acne on his back, or “bacne” as Lovie insisted on calling it?

It turned out that my rash was an extreme case of eczema, which had likely spread so quickly due to stress. The weird thing is, I am prone to eczema, but I had never once gotten it during the summer–only during the winter when my skin gets dry. As a matter of fact, I have it right now. It’s a little worse than normal, but I’m not too concerned. You see, I’ve had a really tough stretch, and whenever I get stressed, my body reacts in strange ways.

Wait a minute. You don’t suppose… Oh no. I better go see if I have any of that Elephant Man ointment left. On second thought, maybe I’ll just call my dermatologist. I think I’ve got him on speed dial.

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A special happy anniversary to Fatherhood Friday, a wonderful weekly event brought to you by the talented folks over at dad-blogs. For those of you who don’t know, dad-blogs is a wonderful community of clever people (and me). I strongly encourage you to take a visit by clicking here.

Lovie and I constantly ask ourselves one simple question. How can three kids who shared the same womb for thirty-six weeks (and one day) turn out to be so different?

A’s a daring, wiry little monkey who’s been known to climb out of his crib, literally disassemble the child-proof handle of his bedroom door, open said door, and (after successfully negotiating the child-proof gate) waltz downstairs in the pitch-black night. Once on the main floor, he’ll nonchalantly tip-toe into the kitchen, startling Lovie and me, while cleverly concealing his mischievous grin with the thumb he’s temporarily parked in his mouth.

C’s the vocal one, continuously muttering to herself, often singing along to songs with nonsensical words she’s made up on the spot. She effortlessly parlays her good looks (which she inherited from Lovie) with her precocious command of the English language to further whatever cause happens to be hers at the moment.

Which brings me to B. He’s the sensitive, inquisitive one, content to simply watch events as they unfold, his mouth slightly agape, his almond-shaped brown eyes wide with wonder. Whether he’s on the playroom floor witnessing A and C fight for control over Elmo, or at the living room window watching the UPS man become Briggs’s slobber-covered bitch, B absorbs it all with the same stoic expression.

If A is not afraid to push the boundaries, and if C is not afraid to express herself, then it’s safe to say that B is not afraid to be his own guy. Not only is he a voyeur of all things mundane, he’s also extremely content to play by himself. This, we’ve discovered, is both good and bad. It’s good because he’s easily entertained. It’s bad because he’s a little young to be playing with himself. (Sorry.) Actually, it’s bad because since B is perfectly content to play by himself, he’s decided that no one else should have access to the toys that entertain him so.

As a result, he’s taken to a mild manifestation of hoarding, cramming whichever toy(s) he currently covets into any one of several secret hiding places. Recently he raided Lovie’s bathroom drawer and pulled out a bunch of pony tail holders. Dismayed that A and C wanted in on the action, he found just the right spot to safeguard his loot.

I bet they'll be safe in here.

Yes, there was urine in there. You can’t see it, though, because it got soaked up by his elastic buddies. Thank goodness he hadn’t laid one down, right?

Of all the toys, it’s the matchbox cars he fancies most. Seriously, we must have fifty such cars, and B could be happily playing with forty-nine of them, but as soon as A or C so much as even looks at the lone remaining vehicle that’s somehow managed to escape B’s grasp, he loses it.

His remedy? Stashing them in other, larger toy vehicles and parading around endlessly with them–a mobile, matchbox car monopoly, if you will.

I know. I'll throw 'em in here.

Am I crazy? Or am I light on Ford Mustang?

In B’s mind, he’s protecting his metal pals from the clutches of A and C. As he makes his rounds, he’s continuously on the lookout for new and improved hiding places, places where the rolling objects of his desire will go undetected until he’s able to swing back by and pick them up again.

They'll never think to look under the ice machine.

Honestly? His preoccupation is starting to make Lovie and me feel like we’re one of his coveted cars. Why you ask?

Because he’s driving us up the wall!

But most of the time, Lovie and I feel like we are B and that B is one of the cars. Because whenever we see our little introvert staring back at us with those big, brown, curious eyes?

All we wanna do is snatch him up and keep him all to ourselves.

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I Love Lovie

me and my lovely girlfriend, Lovie, 2005.

Many of you may be surprised to learn that Lovie and I have known each other since the Carter administration. We went to school together from 1980 until 1987 when Lovie, a year ahead of me, graduated and went off to college. For the better part of those seven years, I had a crush on her. But I also considered her to be out of my league, so during our school days, I remained nothing more than a distant and respectful admirer.

Me and Lovie on her 40th

In 1988, it was my turn to graduate. I went to college at Vanderbilt, then, after earning my degree, I moved to Seattle to begin a ten-year career in the world of finance. Aside from a wedding we both attended in Telluride, Lovie and I would not spend any significant time together for nearly seventeen years. When our paths finally crossed again, Lovie was a single mom going through the final stages of a divorce, and I was a single moron, carrying on a dysfunctional relationship with someone ten years my junior.

I fell for Lovie almost immediately. Two years later, we were married.

With Valentine’s Day mere hours away, I’m giving Lovie a special shout-out by posting a poem I wrote for her, a poem that I read to her on March 3, 2006–a poem that served as my proposal to her.

Thank God she said yes. Why? Because I love Lovie. And here’s what I read to her on that cold night nearly four years ago to prove it…

*  *  *

this life of mine has taken turns and proved to have its spots
where things got tough and beat me up and left me with some thoughts.
like could i ever hope to find a more fulfilling place?
upon my quest, i prayed for strength, but all i lacked was faith.

but not the faith i have in God–His grace provides me that.
but faith that love like yours exists was something that i lacked.
eventually i told myself to thank my lucky stars
though deep inside, my soul believed no love would fill my heart.

and then you finally crossed my path as pretty as the days
of saddle oxfords, pleaded skirts, and all your high-school ways.
at first i held my guard up high to keep my heart on track.
because you seemed too good to me to ever love me back.

but now it’s finally safe to say my skeptic thoughts were wrong.
your love has come into my heart to sing the sweetest song.
because i thought i’d never find a girl as pure as you,
it’s time for you to hear the things i promise God i’ll do.

i promise God to hold you dear and keep you safe and sound,
to love both you and pookie, too, like nothing else around.
to put you two where you belong, the center of my life.
to make you live inside my heart as daughter and as wife.

to signify this vow i’ll make, i ask you now to have
this special, priceless, brilliant ring  your mom got from your dad.
i’ll love you true, and promise you the pain is all behind.
so marry me, my baby, please, my lovie, caroline.

jco
03.03.06
cfo

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This post is proud to be a part of Fatherhood Friday over at dad-blogs. Check ’em out by clicking here.

I’ve had a tough run lately. It started on Sunday night when my boy, Peyton Manning, threw a crucial pick that pretty much sealed the deal for the Saints. I should have realized that the Who’s impotent halftime display was a harbinger of things to come.

...and we get on our knees and pray...the Who won't play again.

Monday and Tuesday proceeded to be such horrendous days at work that the only way they could have gotten any worse would have been if the Who had actually shown up at my office, set up shop, and proceeded to play a perpetual loop of their Super Bowl medley. (By the way, did you hear that Austin Powers called Roger Daltrey after the performance? Apparently, he wanted his outfit back. And speaking of outfits, what was up with that little Blues Brothers number that Pete Townsend was sporting? Was he supposed to be Jake or Elwood?)

At least Tuesday night went fairly well, that is until Lovie and I heard the dreaded sound of cries from the monitor on the kitchen counter long after bedtime. It was A. “Did you catch that?” asked my beautiful wife.  “He’s calling for you.”

I was skeptical to say the least. It’s always Mommy they want, not me. But once my ear was right up to the monitor, I realized that Lovie was right. Our little guy was screaming “Dad-dy!”

So up I went to check on my monster, excited at the sure-to-come, nocturnal, father-son bonding session–almost giddy that A had requested me by name. Upon entering his room, I expected to be hailed as a super-hero, but instead, I wasn’t even acknowledged.

A

“MOMMY! MOMMY!” screamed A at the top of his lungs while pointing to his blanket which lay on the floor. It had fallen from his crib which meant that the earlier screams weren’t made by a kid longing for his “Dad-dy,” but rather by one who was jonesing for his “blank-ie.” I picked it up and handed it to him, thinking that would be that. Until A threw the blanket back down with a disapproving grunt.

“Mommy!” he demanded, none too pleased that I was the one negotiating the blanket debacle.

What I thought would be a bonding moment with my son had suddenly turned into a bad-behavior moment that rendered a punishable offense. I was obviously wrong earlier. My day had gotten worse. And it had nothing to do with the Who.

“You’re in time out for throwing your blankie,” I said sternly as I exited to the hallway. When I re-entered three minutes later, A’s cries had subsided, as had his insistence for his mommy.

“Poo-poo,” he said in a soft voice while grabbing at his bottom as I lifted him from the ground.

“Buddy, we don’t go poo-poo in our pull-up. We go poo poo in the potty like a big boy. Why didn’t you go poo-poo in the potty earlier? Hmmm?”

He answered with a blank stare before putting his tiny arms around my neck and burying his head in my shoulder. My oldest son and I remained frozen in that embrace for five wonderful minutes. When I finally changed him, I was shocked to find that he hadn’t gone to the bathroom at all.

He had told his first lie.

Children normally lie to get away with something bad, but A’s lie amounted to turning himself in for something he hadn’t even done. Why? So I’d talk about going poo-poo in the potty with him? So I’d change him even though he didn’t need changing?

As I kissed him goodnight on the nose, I stared into eyes that looked back at me with equal amounts of sleep and love until it dawned on me. Maybe, just maybe, during his time out, my little monster realized that he wanted a nocturnal, father-son bonding session. But that thanks to his poor behavior, the only thing he would receive was a post-punishment kiss as I laid him down for the night. Unless he acted fast, that is, and figured out a way to extend our time.

Some people tell little white lies, but A had just told me a timid little brown one. All so he could spend a few minutes resting his head on my shoulder. Lying to someone by saying you have a load of shit in your pants in order to draw that person closer would have never occurred to me. But then again, I don’t get stoked beyond belief every time I get to play with a zipper. Nor do I insist that all my bath towels be equipped with a hood. So who am I to judge?

Besides. It worked.

As I turned the corner on my way down the stairs, I looked out the window and was surprised to see heavy snowfall. I hadn’t realized we were expecting any. I love snow.

I smiled and continued down, suspecting that things were starting to turn around for me.

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“Your dumbass dog is at it, again,” announced my pregnant wife one night early on in our marriage. Lovie was referring to my faithful chocolate lab, Briggs.

What, exactly, was Briggs doing, you ask? Slowly, steadily, and silently releasing dense clouds of noxious gas. Pockets of reprehensibility so flagrant as to even be equipped with their own (and noticeably different) barometric pressures. Tiny, malodorous weather fronts of filth which were greatly disgusting my lovely wife. I looked over at my hound only to find him sprawled out on his bed, his mouth eerily agape, snoring like a bear.

Birggs

That’s right. Briggs was sleep-farting.

And he’s got other bad habits, too. Like going certifiably ape-shit each and every time an outsider bursts our domestic bubble. A knock at the back door, the ringing of the front doorbell, or even a barely audible conversation between two women taking a leisurely neighborhood stroll is enough to send Briggs into a frenzy. A full-blown gallop ensues, throw rugs helplessly askew in his wake, Briggs sliding out of control with each and every change of direction his dash requires, eventually culminating in his breathless arrival at wherever the action is, panting with desperate impatience while shamelessly rocking a solid inch-and-a-half of pink lipstick as he awaits our visitor with… um… excitement.

As soon as said visitor enters the house, Briggs’ll make a bee-line for the toy bin and deftly snatch whatever’s on top, before galloping back to his new friend with the welcome gift he’s selected, wrapped thoughtfully in his slobber. He’ll then circle our dumbfounded (and slightly frightened) guest with speeds that conjure up images of the Tasmanian Devil until he feels it’s just the right time to engage in a little world-class crotch-sniffing.

And I haven’t even touched upon his legendary dirty-diaper escapades. Briggs makes Marley look like one of Paris Hilton’s lap dogs. So the fact that Lovie was having a hard time adjusting to him early in our marriage wasn’t surprising at all. What was surprising, however, was that not only did she eventually accept Briggs, she also ended up liking him.

Pookie and Briggs during one of his calmer moments.

Briggs’s birthday is in December, and as each holiday season approaches, Lovie and I wonder if enough dog years have passed to notice a decrease in his high energy level. This year was sure to be the one, right? After all, he’d be seven. But, if anything, his energy level was even higher thanks to our broken invisible fence. Without it, we couldn’t even let Briggs go outside to blow off some steam without fearing he’d leave our property, barge into an unsuspecting neighbor’s house, and start dry humping their four-year-old.

So his outside activities were limited to bathroom-related engagements only. At least that was the plan. The actual outcome was that Briggs made countless escapes. No fewer than eight different households came to our assistance with either a phone call alerting us of his whereabouts, or in two cases, front-door delivery.

Everyone was very nice about it, but Lovie and I were all too aware that we had likely become “those neighbors.” In our minds, three two-year olds is pretty much a good enough excuse to let anything slide a little bit. But it’s not like others realize what we’re up against. (except for one family–shout out to the Huneycutts) So I was always embarrassed whenever we got one of the dreaded phone calls and often turned to humor as a way of masking my shame.

Ring-ring.

“Hello.”

“John, it’s Anne. I think I see Briggs across the street in the Baker’s yard. He’s sniffing around their nativity scene. He’s right beside the three wise men.”

“Well, at least it’s comforting to know that he’s keeping good company, right Anne?”

We finally got the fence fixed in January. But our relentless brown hero has grown so enchanted with his neighborhood jaunts that he’s decided such strolls are easily worth the jolt of electricity he’ll endure as he hurdles through our invisible barrier to embark upon one. So we’ve been keeping him inside again, unless, of course, it’s time for him to use the bathroom. But having been burned in the past, we’re often skeptical when he whines as if he needs to go. Ever the clever hound, he’s taken to offering up undeniable proof of his plight via large piles discretely left beside the side door.

And that’s where we are right now. At just two and a half years old, all three of our little guys are going poo poo in the potty while their dog is droppin’ the deuce on the kitchen floor. I wonder if we could somehow teach Briggs how to use the toilet.

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I could invent the cure for cancer, balance the budget, or circum-navigate the globe on a kick-ass tricycle that doubled as a dingy, but to most of you, I’d still be known as “that guy with triplets.” Accordingly, you might be surprised to learn what I looked like just a few short years ago. The picture then was drastically different than the picture now.

So what changed? Tough to say. But whatever it was, it began on a safari in South Africa. I suppose you could call it my “click” moment. That’s certainly what my close friend Leslee Horner would call it.

Today, I’m proud to be a small part of Leslee’s blog, Waiting for the Click. Before I drop the link, there are two things about Leslee you need to know. First–of all the wonderful people I’ve met since I started blogging back in November, none have made an impression on me like she has. Second–in a blogoshpere filled with countless people doing their best Dooce impersonations, Leslee has the beauty, talent, and guts to do her own thing. Her blog is unique, and, like her, it gives thought to thinking. Simply put, it’s excellent, and I highly recommend it.

Click here for my click story. It will tell you how I purposefully set out to change the way I look. Then click on some of Leslee’s other posts and you’ll quickly see why I’m such a fan.

Thanks, Leslee!

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