Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Milk, Cigarettes, and Wedding Rings

Once in awhile, I'll cruise the local pawn shops at lunchtime with my buddy Boggs. He's always in search of music gear, and I'm always in search of life's meaning.

A couple days ago, we stopped into Axel's Pawn Shop on Sprague Avenue. A couple walked in the same time as we did, the guy holding a motorcycle helmet. They approached the man behind the counter.

"Any chance we can sell this helmet? We need to get milk. And cigarettes."

"Sorry," the man replied, "We're loaded up on helmets right now." The couple gave each other a frantic look, and then the woman said, "How about my wedding ring?"

"Sure, let's take a look," the man said as he leaned over the counter. "Yeah, I'll give you (whatever) for it."

"Great!" the husband exclaimed. "That's perfect! Now I can still ride my motorcycle!"

Boggs and I left... neither of us finding what we were looking for.

Friday, May 14, 2010

To Scream or Ask Not to Scream

At my son's Little League game yesterday, I witnessed a scenario that I found somewhat interesting.

Another kid on our team got out. He immediately started to throw a fit, and was escorted out of the dugout to an area adjacent to another field. Once there, he proceeded to spend... oh, about 10 minutes or so... wailing. He kept ranting "I ALWAYS get out!" accompanied with a "Give me attention!" cry, which was working. At one point, a woman at the adjacent field had had enough. She came over and politely said, "Honey, if you want to cry, maybe you should move away from the fields. It's distracting to the other players." Mom #1 exploded with, "You don't talk to my son like that!", and the other woman responded by going back to the other field. Mom #1 starting pacing around and ranting herself, saying things like "If she thinks THAT'S bad, I should make him REALLY cry!" Eventually, the howling kid received a stern talk from his coach about being a "big boy", and he was escorted to the parking lot. Situation... settled? Not quite.

The other woman apparently felt guilty about saying anything in the first place. Later, she walked by, and made a point of apologizing to Mom #1. Mom #1 wouldn't take it, as she was just "too offended". The other woman gave up, and started walking towards the parking lot... at which point Mom #1 belted, "It's a baseball game, not the library!" Well, that's true... but part of playing baseball is being a good sport, of which her son was definitely not.

All of this makes me think about how I handle my own kids, and what I hope to see from other people's kids.

First of all, I've never allowed my kids to misbehave in a public place. If we're in a restaurant, I take them outside. I know I don't like listening to other kids cry when I'm enjoying a meal out, so I don't expect anyone else to have to listen to mine. In the grocery store? Take them outside until they calm down. And if they don't? Go home, and come back for your stuff later. I also struggle with wailing kids in churches, movies, or other sit-down public events. The parents are spending so much time fussing with them, they're not even aware of what's going on. So why go? It never really seemed that big of a deal to me to just remove them from the situation.

Now, back to the game scenario... I could never do what the other woman did. I would never have the gumption to actually say something. I just grin and bear it, and hope that they eventually stop. I also think it was quite admirable on her part to go apologize, feeling full well (I'm sure) that she was right. Still, I don't blame her for saying something. Quite frankly, I was tired of listening to him wail myself.

I guess my question is... who was out of line? What's more obnoxious, letting your kid scream, or telling someone else's screaming kid to stop? I'm a bit biased, as I'm fairly militant about disciplining my kids. I'm curious what the common consensus would be.

And one disclaimer: I'm not claiming my kids are always perfect angels; as they also have their moments. This thought is more about what you allow them to get away with in public.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saga of a Broken Leg

When I was younger, I told myself that I'd skateboard forever. It stemmed from a fear of growing up; as if stepping off that skateboard would mean I was suddenly old. I made a pact with myself that I would continue doing it as long as I was physically capable. One day, I found myself in my mid 30's. My skateboarding days were long gone, and I actually felt a little guilty, like I had cheaped out.

Last November, I decided to go see my buddy Brent in Nashville, Tennessee. He'd ventured to North Idaho many times; one visit even lasted a few years. But, nobody had returned the favor by going down there, so I figured it was time. It turned out to be a great trip, complete with civil war battlefield visits, a night in downtown Nashville, and even a leisurely drive across the beautiful Tennessee countryside. The night before I was due to fly back home, Brent asked if I'd like to check out the Nashville skatepark.

It was time to revisit that childhood promise I had made with myself.

I wasn't any good anymore, but hell... I could do it, and I was having a great time. We skated until the park was due to close in a few minutes. I was determined to stick that 50-50 grind... a trick that was so easy when I was younger. I went for that infamous "last try"...

I'm still not sure why, but my board flipped out from under me. When I hit the transition, I felt something slide in my knee. As I lay there assessing the situation, Brent asked what I thought was wrong. At that point, all I knew was that it felt really weird... and my foot was pointing in the wrong direction.

"I think my knee came out of joint. Maybe I can twist it back."

"Dude... if you can get yourself out of this pool, then I could get you to the hospital... and you won't have to pay for an ambulance."

I was immediately feeling the weight of hospital bills. Skipping the ambulance sounded good, so I did probably the worst possible thing - and tried twisting my leg back into joint. After feeling a couple snap crackle pops, I decided that probably wasn't a good idea.

"I'm not going to make it out. Call 911."

After what seemed like an eternity, Nashville's finest was on the scene. I was immediately given some morphine (not nearly enough), and strapped to a gurney. It took some effort getting me out, since I was in the bottom of a pool. They even enlisted the help of some straggler skateboarders to help push me out. They slid me into an ambulance, gave me some more morphine, and headed for Summit Medical Center. On the way, all I could think about was how much morphine I'd had, how much my leg still hurt, and hoped that all those shot-up Vietnam vets back in the day had received a way bigger dose than I had.

"Isn't this stuff supposed to make the pain go away?" I asked the emergency tech.

"No," he replied. "It just makes you not care that it hurts."

We made it to the hospital. They immediately took some x-rays, and stuck a needle in my leg to drain all the fluid that was accumulating. I didn't care at this point, as the drugs had finally kicked in. The resulting x-ray didn't look good.

Before saying anything to me, the ER doctor high-fived some other dude, and said, "I knew it! A tibial plateau fracture!" which really meant nothing to me at the time. Apparently, my femur (thigh bone) had pile-drived into my tibia (shin bone) and completely blown my knee apart. Even worse, it had split the tibia like firewood... from my knee to about halfway down my shin. The dark space in the x-ray (outlined by the dashed line) isn't supposed to be there. By this time, it was around midnight. They called a surgeon, and he said that he'd be there in the morning. I was carted to a room, where I immediately called Mavis.


"Hi. What's up?"

"Well... I blew it, Mavis."

"Oh. What's going on?"

"I broke my leg tonight. Skateboarding."

"Oh. Well, I just got back from a debate tournament."


"I guess I'm having surgery in the morning. I gotta go."

"Okay. I love you!"

Suddenly, it was morning, and the surgeon had come in. His name was Dr. Cook, and he had a very calming, pleasant demeanor. Honestly, I really have no idea what he said to me, other than I was going in for surgery. All I knew is that I trusted him. They put me out, and after a day-long surgery I woke up back in the room to find Mavis sitting there looking at me. It was almost like she had teleported down there. Dr. Cook came in, and said the surgery went well. I asked for some pictures (kinda hoping for some gory shots of my leg cut open), but instead he brought in the x-ray of my new leg.

It took 2 plates and 15 screws to put me back together again. I immediately felt a little strange, knowing I had a pile of foreign metal objects in my leg. Soon after, the bandages came off and I got my first look at Frankenleg.

I had two huge incisions, around 50 staples, and a gigantic swollen foot that looked a bit like a haggis sausage. I knew I was in for some good times. To make an already long story shorter, I'll sum up my week stay in the hospital:

Having to use a walker instantly makes you feel about 80 years old.

I really don't understand why people steal Oxycontin. I woke up feeling like I had bugs crawling all over me, and saw creepy apparitions all over the place.

Percocet, on the other hand, was a little too wonderful. Mavis did a great job intervening, and I felt like I'd been to rehab about 27 times.

I had one physical therapist who was really pushy about me getting out of bed, and I couldn't do it. I got another one who made me feel like I could do it, and I got right up. Big difference.

I'm not sure how anyone could survive in a hospital room without a loved one. Mavis made all the difference, and guided me through figuring out how to get around (and... uh... do other things!) all over again.

After my extra week of... vacation?... it was time to figure out how to get me home. Remember that movie "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"? Imagine John Candy's character... only with a broken leg, and that's kinda how it went. We crammed my broken self into a rental car, airport shuttle bus, taxi, train station, and finally into an Amtrak sleeper car. A couple days and several pain pills later, we finally made it home.

A few days after that, I was back at work, lucky to have a desk job.

Around 2 months later, I was down to using a cane.

At 3 months, I started walking on my own, and was able to go to the gym again.

At 5 months, I walked and finished a 3 mile fun run.

Now, I'm approaching 6 months of recovery time. Last weekend, I went on a whitewater rafting trip I do every year and didn't have any problems. I still can't run (or even jog) at this point, but I do feel like I'm easing back into the things I was able to do before.

So... I guess it's time I accept the fact that somehow along the line, I got a little older. But, at least I can now confidently say...

I've officially retired from skateboarding.

And that's okay. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dirty Dogs and White Lies

I came in through the back slider door, to find Mavis sitting on the couch petting the dog.

"Honey, why is Cleo all wet?" she asked.

I drew a blank. "I don't know."

"Well, it's all over her face...," she retorted as the dog licked hers.

We went upstairs to get ready for bed. She carried up the dog, and said, "Whatever it is, it smells weird and is kinda sticky."

I suddenly realized what it was, and was immediately horrified. It seemed too late to tell the truth, so I replied, "Uhhhh... maybe it's water from the kids' pool behind the shed."

About 10 minutes prior, I had been in the backyard with the dog. There's no easy way to say this... but I have this thing. A guy thing, a freedom thing, a whatever you want to call it "thing."

I like to pee in the backyard.

On this particular occasion, I was in a dark corner of the yard doing my business... hoping the dog was doing hers. I looked down, and realized she was next to me in her pounce position. She had never seen a pee stream before, and was ready to attack it. I shooed her away, and finished up. Afterwards, I went over to the shed to put some tires away. Meanwhile, Mavis had let the dog in. I didn't think anything of it.

By the time I realized what was on her, Mavis had been petting, playing with, and... (gulp)... kissing the dog. I really didn't know how she would react.

"I think I better give her a bath," she said.

While trying to sound nonchalant, I replied, "Ohhh.... yeah! That would probably be a good idea."

She washed her off, and got ready for bed. I slithered in with her, and laid awake for awhile. I really wanted to say something, but by that time it didn't seem to matter anymore. Regardless, I felt very guilty. VERY guilty. I have an insanely guilty conscience.

The next day at work, I told a few people about what had happened. It was a fairly even split over me being a Big Fat Liar (with pants on fire), and it being something that I should NEVER tell her. I was extremely torn.

A few nights later, Mavis and I were driving home from having dinner. As we pulled into our driveway, I blurted out "I THINK I PEED ON THE DOG!"

She stared at me blankly for a moment, and replied, ".....What?"

"The other night, when the dog was all wet... I'm pretty sure it's because she jumped into my pee."

This was possibly going to be a major turning point in our relationship. If she lashed out in anger, I knew I'd forever be perceived as the disguting lying backyard pee-er. If she forgave me, I knew I would be forever grateful and appreciative.

Another milli-second of silent eternity passed, when she suddenly burst out laughing.

I knew immediately I had made the right choice. In many ways.

"Why didn't you just tell me, silly?" she asked. She seemed to find it a little bit cute that I had been so tormented about the whole situation, with an emphasis on "little."

So, we both survived. From now on, I think I'll save the white lies for haircuts, apparel, and ugly babies. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blogfest, 2010!

I haven't posted for several months, which I kept telling myself was because I was dealing with a broken leg. In reality, it was much deeper. I was coming to grips with several big life changes, and more than anything... I just didn't feel all that interesting.

Today, I attended the Huckleberries Online Blogfest. It's something I've gone to previously, but for whatever reason... this time it felt like seeing an old friend. After hearing kind words from several people that I won't mention (IdahoDad, Cindy H, and MamaJD), I'm inspired to get back into the game.

There were several things I needed to bring with me when we left the house. What better way to remember them than making a list on your hand!

I was determined that the kids and I would ride bikes to get there. We were completely unprepared for how cold it was going to be, but my little guys were tough.

Well, they were mostly tough... until they weren't anymore. We showed up at the Fort Ground about a half hour early to warm up. Luckily, the drink menu included hot chocolate.

Mavis was off coaching a debate tournament, but fortunately it ended early enough for her to come join us.

The blogmeister himself, DFO, was of course on hand (along with Sunny's Mini-Me).

Here's Bent suffering through drinking beer that he didn't personally make...

And old friends Sam and Meghann.

This peculiar fellow kept showing up, but nobody knew who he was. He preferred to remain anonymous.

I thought the Fort Ground staff did an incredible job. They were more than hospitable when we showed up early, and it was obvious that they were excited about hosting the event.

We had a great time. After a cold bike ride, the hot wings were perfect. And for some reason, having a cold beer seemed to warm me up as well.

If only my 'ol buddy Brent from Tennessee had made an appearance...

The Otis G Experience is back online.

I think. :)