When September Ends

Picking up where I left off. Last weekend we took an overnight trip to Memphis for food, fun, and music. Memphis has all three of these so the trip was a success. We avoided other things that Memphis has such as aggravated assault and armed robbery. I count that as success also. Thank you, Memphis, for leaving my radio in my car and my driver side window intact.

Here are a few photos from the concert, The Pyramid, and a breakfast pancake worth stabbing a family member over. All you tourists hit places like Beale Street and the Rendezvous but I would encourage you to work in brunch at Automatic Slim. Oh, and dinner at Flight. It was amazeballs. Totes delish. I think I saw an actress from Bridesdmaids too. The one who played the new best friend of the bride (Maya Rudolph).

Bridesmaid

She wasn’t having as good a time because our table was next to hers and we were pretty loud. Or she was having a terrible time with her date. He looked concerned that she was unhappy and she looked unimpressed with life. Maybe she was unimpressed with out discussions about kid vomit and poop? Maybe it wasn’t her but this lady was a reasonable facsimile and I never see famous people so I’m claiming it. Don’t steal my joy. Yeah, the more I look at the photo, it was definitely her.

Concert

We did get to see the Avett Brothers up close. Seth made a run through the crowd and came within fifteen feet of us. He had a thing with Jennifer Carpenter from the TV show Dexter which, by default, makes him one of my favorite members of the band. I don’t know if they worked out or not because he seems a little wholesome and she has a bad-girl streak. Wait, wait… I Googled it. They are married and had a baby boy named Isaac. Congrats!

Slim_Pancake

Here is the aforementioned pancake. I wouldn’t stab anyone over this one actually, it was lemon meringue. But the peanut butter one is another story. After brunch we went to the Bass Pro Shop built inside The Pyramid. For all of the non-southern people and non-Tennessee people, The Pyramid was the product of Memphis embracing the fact that it is located on a major river similar to the Nile and named after a city in Egypt. This effect can also be witnessed at the Memphis Zoo whose entrance looks like something from the Valley of the Kings. The Pyramid is a giant hollow, metal skinned building which once housed a venue for sporting events and concerts but now is host to an outdoor store on steroids. Think if Outdoor Man had a love child with Celebrity Station. Does anyone remember Celebrity Station? That place with arcades and putt-putt and go-carts? Never mind.

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Giant Ode to Commerce

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PETA Disclaimer: Only real animals harvested with projectile weapons were used in this exhibit.

I would also like to include some photos of things my children leave in their wake as they move through the river of life. There are on-going disasters, curious relics, and little nuggets of beauty that make it all okay-ish.

Toothbrushing

Total war zone. I don’t think it counts as hygiene at this point. Four days time. How did the green spot even happen?

CreepyAnimal

This was scribbled on a notepad left on my bedside table. It feels like something at the beginning of a horror film.

DEATHY

This happy little note was left in magnets on the pee-pee board we used to incentivise the youngest not to pee in the floor.  

Love_You

If I write a book I think this would be the cover. Maybe the title too. 

Disney is coming soon…. I can only imagine the blog fodder that is coming my way. If anyone among the twelve to fifteen people that read this are associated with Disney please know that I would be more than willing to trade a bang-up review of the Beast Castle dinner for actually getting reservations to eat at the Beast Castle dinner. You don’t even have to make it that special. I will straight up lie if I have to. I know I won’t have to because it is magical and life changing in its breadth and depth. But on the off-chance that the night is less than magical, no one will ever know. Just think about it and let me know. I will be one of a group of eight people who all have the same T-shirt and squinty look of confusion.

If you love trips and kids and any combination thereof, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Man Handled

I got my first massage this weekend.

I have spent most of my life self-assured of the fact that I am not a massage person. Strangers rubbing all around your body with oils while east Asian string music plays in the background. There were just so many unanswered questions for me and the only filmmakers who would tackle the issue usually used their creative license to take the story in a “pornish” direction. Is “porn-ish” right or “porny”. I don’t know, anyhow, my entire frame of reference was limited and skewed.

We went out of town this past weekend with some friends to catch the Avett Brothers concert and enjoy a few other relaxing activities. The first of these activities, was a massage. I remember discussing getting massages on a hypothetical level a few weeks ago. I had reluctantly agreed and suddenly had to face the music. The day was upon me. I was more worried than I thought I would be. Like teenage level insecurity. I worried that I hadn’t showered well enough or I should have used a loofa more so my skin didn’t flake off like it does after a day in the sun. We had a long drive to get there and it was just after lunch. I had a large Coke and some French fries.

What if I had to pee?

What if I had to fart?

Do they rub your stomach region? That would be weird.

What if my feet stink?

Is it harder to massage fat people or skinny people?

Do massage therapists have a desire to bite people like Phoebe did on Friends?

What if this is a ruse to strap me down and steal my kidneys for sale on the black market? I booked an hour so that would be plenty of time to steal my innards and make a getaway.

We arrived for our appointments about ten minutes early which was good because we had to sign disclaimers or release forms or something. I don’t know, I didn’t read it. I probably gave them permission to take my kidneys. I finished my release form and went to the restroom to eliminate my fear of having to pee. I stepped out and was greeted by a lady who informed me, “He is ready for you now.”

He?

I hadn’t really considered who would be administering the massage. Not that it matters but I had made the sexist assumption that most practitioners were female. I suddenly understood, to a small degree, how women feel self-conscious at times. When my wife puts lots of effort into getting ready to go out to places like Walmart or the gas station she often tells me that it isn’t for my benefit or being attractive for other men but for deflecting the judgement of other women. As I walked towards the second door on the right and stared into the blackness beyond I understood. I felt my physical flaws with each step. I was certain that I would encounter Zeus and he would strike me with a lightning bolt for my untoned core. I could hear Hans and Frans from Saturday Night Live talking about “flabby muscles”. Why did I agree to this shit?

I stepped into the room.

“Hello, my name is Nick.” Nick was not Zeus. He was an unassuming man in his late forties. I felt better already.

“Hi Nick.”

“Have you had a massage before?” He was eating a peppermint and started coughing. “Sorry, the juices went down the wrong pipe”, he creaked.

“No problem. This is my first one.” I thought that perhaps he has Ebola and I am about to be infected by patient zero.

He cleared his throat. “Oh good. Well, undress to your comfort level and climb under the sheet there and we will get started.” He left the room.

I got down to the boxers and hopped onto the massage bed, covering myself with a low thread count sheet that didn’t quite deflect the AC from the vent above me. Nick returned to the room and walked around the table until he was standing above my head. He pounded on what sounded like a soap dispenser to get a handful of some kind of oil. I was nervous for a full thirty seconds until he started working on the muscles in my neck. Nick was an acupuncture hand pressure ninja. I gave exactly zero flips what or how he was working his magic. I almost fell asleep twice. I don’t think he had Ebola either. It was just the peppermint.

It was nice having attention paid to every little tension and knot in my shoulders, back, and legs. He rubbed the muscles in between my toes. Glorious toe rub. I left the room relaxed enough to fall asleep sleep standing up.

If you have ever gotten the rub down from a man, this post is for you. You’re welcome. I know you are out there, afraid to admit that it was a good massage. Well, on the off-chance Nick ever happens across this blog, good job!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Hurricane Season

Hurricane Harvey jacked up Texas. Irma pummeled Florida. Jose might smash New York. Yellowstone has earthquake swarms rolling around getting people all worried about a super volcano. Montana is burning to the ground. The sun just launched some solar flares and a G3 magnetic storm. A ship just passed through the Arctic without the help of an ice breaking vessel. HBO still hasn’t offered to bring back Dexter. I got served pulling into my driveway. My kid crop dusted me in Walmart. Plus kids in school are expensive, how do private school families make it work? Selling organs?

Let’s start with Walmart. We had a normal bi-annual lapse in judgement and took all four kids shopping. They reminded us why anxiety medications exist. The highlight was when Prima farted in the snack aisle and I thought she crapped her pants. The smell crept up and slapped me in the face. I was tired and annoyed by that point in our trip and I exclaimed out loud, with very little forethought, “Jesus, who just shit their pants?” I caught side-eye from a passing family and an arm punch from my wife. They were judging me but they didn’t have to bear the smell. I was there. It was straight toxic fumes off a hot turd nugget. Poo particles lingered in my nose. Offensive. I can’t believe the kids were still picking snacks off the shelf and talking about which ones tasted better. I was trying to maintain my balance and avoid vomiting. Those kids should work in the medical field or the sanitation industry.

Whats next? Oh yeah.

I realized that we need to move. I’m driving home the other day and there are several kids playing basketball in the street in front of my house. Not unusually because we live on a cove. As my car approached this one kid turns to face me and starts making weird symbols with his hands. I had the benefit of a high class public education so I know some gang signs when I see them. I believe the term when I was in school was “stacking”. I also remember that kids who learned about throwing gang signs would play around with it and try to act cool in front of their friends. I am certain that this kid was doing the same thing – just trying to be cool for his friends. The sad part is that he was maybe ten years old. After I pulled into my driveway I asked him if he was making gang signs with his hands. He told me he just felt like holding them that way. His friends giggled and didn’t make eye contact. Maybe I was wrong and he really did have awkward hand positions. I hate assuming the worst but being a parent makes me a cautious cynic.

A couple of days after my encounter with unconventional sign language we decided to go out and ride bikes as a family. Prima, who has no sense of how she is perceived, was racing in circles on her pink bike while wearing a bright unicorn helmet. Two of the neighborhood boys were playing basketball and she kept riding through the middle of their game. Each pass she would try to strike up a conversation. Only it didn’t sound like that was her goal. She never meets a stranger and says exactly what she is thinking. She doesn’t adjust her tone for anyone and often sounds like an asshole. One of the boys had removed his sandals and left them laying in the road.

She told the boys, “Whose shoes are in the road? You better move them before they get run over.” She stared directly at them with wide eyes and an emotionless face. She might as well have been Pennywise the Clown asking if they wanted to play a game. It sounded like, “Move your shoes asshole before I move them for you.” Playful in that aggressive kind of style. I would say that she will catch a punch one day but she is so much taller than kids her age that I bet she gets away with it for a while. Until middle school anyway.

Speaking of school, I don’t know if she will make it to middle school in the public system. We may have to home school. The totally free public school is expensive. I have tried to make a mental note of all the things we buy or assist with or fund-raise for. I understand the causes on an individual level but collectively, with four children, it all gets to be a lot. Below are the extra-curricular things and my notes on them:

 

T-Shirts – Raising money for the playground. Always the playground.

Jackets – I like the jackets. No negativity with this one. They have monogrammed names on the back.

Smart Cards -I always pay and never remember to use the damn thing. Mine is an idiot card.

Uniform Charity Extortion – This one is interesting. If the students donate to a specific charity then they are allowed to deviate from system-wide uniform standards on Fridays. Lesson => Money creates different rules. I’m not sure how I feel because it is a real-life lesson that holds true. I bribe them with money all the time. And soda. I’m the worst.

Charity Snacks – Carrying snacks to a nearby school that is also public but somehow has a high ratio of lower income bracket students?

Book Club – Fully support this one. They need a book writing club. Story club.

Book Fair – On the fence about this one. It is a sale of books inside of the library. They are selling books in a huge room dedicated to free books. Anyone? No one? Carry on.

Shoe Box Dioramas – We always get reminded of these projects the night before and spend fifty dollars at Walmart for them to make something that looks like we spent fifty cents. I refuse to do projects because I have enough projects of my own.

Ice Cream Money – Why not? We can’t send cupcakes or sugary snacks for birthday celebrations. Damn healthy rules. Thanks Mrs. Obama.

Math-A-Thons – Money for solving math problems. Again, this mirrors life so probably is fine.

Dance-A-Thons – Money for physical exertion. I need someone to pay me to move around more.

Yearbooks – They don’t even make them hardbacked anymore. The last set that came home looked like the recipe books that church ladies put together to sell at the bazaar. And do kids even sign each other’s yearbooks anymore? I remember all the fun things that I used to write. Stay cool.   I signed your crack.    I’ve waited all year to disclose my undying love and here we are at the edge of summer so maybe we will be in the same class next year and I can continue to choke down these feelings.)

Butterbraids — Fund raiser where parents have to figure out the logistics of delivering frozen treats.

Picture Day – Two to three times in a year; Uniforms, Casual Clothes, Class Photos. I enjoy seeing how the children will find new ways to ruin the world’s easiest photo shoot.

Bake Sales – I love cake. These are easy because you can buy some cookies at Walmart, throw them on a paper plate, and wrap them with Saran Wrap. Boom. Good to go.

Spirit Night – I felt misled. This was not about whiskey as I had hoped.

Baseball Nights – Joining the great American pastime. If only my kids cared about Baseball. They have dollar beer sometimes which could be problematic.

Ads for the Yearbook – Show how much you love your child by buying a second picture with a personalized message. If the printing is sponsored by ad sales, can we at least have hardback editions? This plastic spiral bound this is bothering me.

Christmas Toy Boxes – One year we shipped these toy boxes over seas. I had real distress over what would be appropriate to put in the box. I didn’t want to make assumptions. Do they need batteries and flashlights or hand sanitizer? Or candy? Or C vitamins to prevent blindness like that Sally Struthers commercial? It is a lot or pressure trying to be the light of the free world. Do you put too much stuff and then another kid with a shitty box feels cheated by the inconsistencies of America?


We have parent-teacher conference tomorrow and those are always fun. They give us unrealistic suggestions like setting aside quiet study areas and practicing spelling words. That is some only-child advice. Reality at our house is different. There are six of us trying to watch Henry Danger in the living room over a plate of spaghetti in our laps while we keep the dog away from our garlic bread. Quiet isn’t going to happen. We do practice spelling words though -when they actually bring the list home. Children are terrible students sometimes.

I don’t know if any of this was coherent or worth reading but I feel better. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

The Cant Opener

The loneliest place in the world… when you start to make a fresh batch of five can soup and the can opener breaks. Mother of all things righteous, why have you left me defenseless against fate? Have you ever stabbed open a large can of diced tomatoes with a Calphalon steak knife?

I have.

I can tell you that there are prettier situations. While stabbing is good for dealing with unresolved aggression it is not handy for keeping metal shards out of your soup. Or blood. Probably a conspiracy by the “Big Bandage” industry.

Can3

What has our world come to? In this age of improving things with science and technology and materials engineering, how do we still have such shitty hand tools? A can opener should last longer than five months. I bought the most expensive one at Wal-Mart. I counted the additional cost as a wise investment, something that would pay back over time. Instead I bought a goodtime Charlie that abandoned me at the first sign of a struggle.

Can2

My great grandmother had a can opener that I am pretty sure was made during the great depression. Forged from carbon steel and tears of sadness. That can opener was made to beat the Nazi’s and spread freedom. It could peel through a Panzer tank. It might actually be how the Russians got into Hitler’s bunker.

They made things that would last because their lives depended on it. Imagine trying to survive the apocalypse on canned goods with a can opener that won’t grip the side of the can. Spoiler alert… you would die from exhaustion while trying to smash open your cans with a rock. Granny’s can opener might have required three hands to operate but it would cut through steel ball bearings if it had to. Not like this lifeless wad of steel that can barely push its way into some whole kernel corn. I’m disappointed in humanity.

 

If you have ever had a cheap utensil break mid-use, this post is for you. There is a thin line between civilization living with the brutality of a cave-man life. That line is long term food preservation. All you need to cross it is a damned can opener. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Totally Got Mooned

Hair Cut

I always enjoy my midday texts. This one was funny.

Ec3

Not to Supermom. She cried. Lady Bug has long flowy hair. She wanted to have a haircut like her sisters and she was obviously not happy that her hair stylist left things so long. She did a decent job.

We like random funny things. We have a collection of cat-butt magnets on the refrigerator. Supermom and I marveled at the accuracy for a little while today.

Ec2

Who is tasked with modelling cat butts out of clay and thinks, “This is pretty good but it is missing something… I know! A really detailed butthole!”


My Facebook friends might have heard this one already. It was a deep thought. We were driving home the other night from my mother’s house. There was a deer at the edge of the roadway.

Child: Daddy! Look it is a mommy deer.

UD: Oh I see it! How do you know it is a mommy deer?

Child: It isn’t horny.

UD: That is a sure sign…. Good eye.

I am planning on having a discussion on antlers versus horns in the very near future.


Solar Eclipse

After thinking long and hard about the consequences we decided to drive to a nearby state to watch the solar eclipse hit totality. I remember a partial eclipse from my childhood and I also remember holding two note cards and staring at a little shadow circle with a little wedge missing. My deep seated memory of that amazing celestial event could only be described as “boring as hell”. I wanted to see some spark from my own children and when the center of totality is only two hours away what else are you gonna do?

Ec6

I live for this look. I put effort into my insane responses just to get this spunky look laid upon me. 

We packed the van as if some strange virus from “I Am Legend” was sweeping the land and we would have to live on the shoulder of an abandoned highway. Waters. Juice. Peanut Butter. Snacky snacks. Watermelon. Picnic Blanket. Chairs. Small Folding Table. Trash Bags. Frosted Mini-Wheats (To dip in Peanutbutter, Trust me – best thing ever.) Powerade. Energy Drinks. Homemade Trail Mix. Fake International Passports and Stacks of Multi-National Currency. You get the idea. We were ready to survive if some shit went down.

I mentally prepared for gridlock traffic. A grueling ten-hour drive when normal conditions would allow for a two-and-a-half-hour trip. The warnings from media outlets described national emergency levels of chaos. I heard some communities were threatening to use snow plow equipment to keep roads clear.

We loaded the kids in the van and departed town at 7 o’clock am. Zero traffic. We drove straight to our destination with a smooth three hours to spare. We had cell phone service the entire time and live streamed the coverage on the west coast. The kids all wore their masks correctly and enjoyed watching the moon creep up on the sun. It was magical.

Ec5

Hmmm. I’ve seen this before…

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Similar? Did cavemen watch an eclipse?

Then came the solar climax. Our group gathered in an open field and watched through our glasses as the small orange sliver disappeared. Once our solar glasses went dark we took them off and stared at the glowing ring in the sky. It was beautiful. It was like a black hole surrounded by a crown of light. Bugs and birds and frogs created the sounds of nighttime. The wind and traffic calmed. The world around us was still and dark and perfect. No one in our group reached for an iPhone. That was how good the moment was. Everyone knew that it was rare and limited to a precious few moments. No picture could capture totality. None of mine anyway.

Ec8

Lauren Athalia Photography was able to capture it. She got lots of good shots and is selling prints I think. Check her out on FB. 

The term “totality” might be the only good description for the event.

For once, in what seems like a long time, my world was filled with people looking in the same direction at a beautiful moment in life. There weren’t any people offended by the eclipse or threatened by it. Maybe some conspiracy people were concerned but I think they were sort of excited to see if their bat-shit-crazy ideas might somehow come true. Flat-earthers might have been hard at work explaining the event but for two minutes they were looking up in utter confusion. We all watched objects that exceed our concept of size and power. We were reminded that no matter what stands in your way, if even a tiny spec of your light escapes into the world, there can be no darkness. Being exposed to less than 1% of the sun still requires special glasses.

How does a 100% sun not make us burst into flame immediately?

As the light returned I realized that I had been absorbed in the moment. I may have had a small tear resting at the edge of my eye. Probably allergies. We traveled several hours to sit in the front yard of a relative stranger and stare at the sky for almost three minutes. We left with a memory that will last a lifetime. And perhaps a small white dot in the center of our vision. Time will tell.

Ec4

Zero matching socks…

To those who chase memories, this post is for you. You’re welcome. For the people who didn’t make it to the direct path remember that we have another chance in 2024. The difference between 100% and 99% isn’t 1%, it is literally night and day. Make the drive. Skip the classes. Be prepared to pee behind a bush on the side of a rural highway. No one dedicates delicate oil paintings to the shadows made from solar viewers made out of note cards and cereal boxes. #Sorrynotsorry

-Underdaddy to the rescue.