Archive for October, 2012

Read and watch a man, who has no earthly idea how to raise a child, raise a child.

I have been a father for about twelve days. This means that I possess the experience and all the prerequisites necessary to be deemed an expert in parenting by whomever deems people such things. As such, I can and will offer you unsolicited advice on the subject for the next, well, forever. For those of you who are not parents and have no interest in the matter, have no fear! Continue reading. I vow that my rants, advice, and rumblings will have value on a general life level. You just have to trust me, and help me–help you…

I want to talk to you about what nobody will. But I have to first write this disclaimer: I love being a father, and I am looking forward to every second of fatherhood. My wife loves being a mother and is also looking forward to every second of motherhood. It’s just not all rainbows and unicorns. Babies these days are just not as self sufficient as I was at two weeks old.

I am a bit concerned. All of this crying every time my daughter is hungry isn’t going to get my daughter married and out of the house anytime soon?

It’s two weeks into this raising a child thing, and every time my wife and I see a couple enjoying their life, or who looks like they may have slept more than three consecutive hours, we are quick to point out that they must not have kids.

My child is like an unhappy, non-contributing citizen of a communist government. My wife is the branch of the government that provides food. I am the part of the government that polices its citizens and enforces governmental regulations. As such, I have found my daughter guilty of a heinous crime–leeching off of all facets of government without contributing to its greater good. There you have it, I have illustrated the inefficiencies of communism by paralleling it to the state of my household. She is thankless in her leeching. This is not a trait I would have passed to her, I grow more and more concerned my wife has passed communist tendencies to my daughter.

I am not sure about a lot of things, but of these I am convinced:

1. My daughter seems unequivocally disappointed in my fathering abilities, but is willing to deal with it if I am holding a bottle.

2. My daughter is hellbent on killing her parents by systematically depriving them of all pleasures they once held dear. Mostly sleep, but followed by all other things I once derived joy from such as, but not limited to: beer consumption, eating a warm meal, smiling, not changing diapers, not being peed on, not being yelled at by a baby who refuses to use her words to specify what she is frustrated about, and finally, being able to touch my wife’s breasts without a look of horrific pain shooting through Whitney’s face.

3. She spawned from the womb well versed in Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War motivated and ready to utilize all aspects of warfare to annihilate her foes, and it seems we, her mother and I, are her mortal enemies.

I have developed a few Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that help me in my struggle against this skilled, thinking, and adapting foe. They are as follows:

1. In a sweet and nurturing voice I say what I really feel to my baby. Just like I would say, “look at my beautiful baby girl, is she a happy baby, yes she is…..” You know the voice, I say, “look at this little terrorist who steals my sleep and consistently tries to make me fall asleep while driving to work….” I feel like saying exactly what I feel helps me get through the process. We both win in this scenario.

2. I have also become the most wicked swaddler of babies, I want to call it what it is; I don’t swaddle I straight-jacket, and it is amazing. I was reaffirmed in this process by a movie I watched about making your baby the happiest baby on the block, so, now it’s a free for all.

3. I have began conducting reconnaissance patrols of my child’s living areas when she believed no one was paying attention. Imagery from this patrol has confirmed my worst fears–I may be fighting a much more formidable foe than I first thought. This snapshot was taken just before my daughter snapped her eyes open. Of note, the recon team that took this picture has not been seen or heard of since this transmission. We are convinced that this picture is evidence of some form of telepathy; yes, my daughter is a Jedi, who may be leaning towards the dark side.


In the early hours of Tuesday morning I was awake holding the most beautiful terrorist imaginable. I felt what I can only describe as resignation. This darling girl, my nemesis, was already beginning what my mother warned me about years ago: That being; I would one day pay for my transgressions against my parents in the form of my own child–this is my reckoning.

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years…..


This is the second edition of a two part blog that documents my wild ride to meeting my daughter. If you did not read my blog yesterday entitled, From the Womb to the Cold, Cold World, you are reading from the middle of the story. I encourage you to go back and read it. I also encourage you to pimp this blog to everyone you know at the expense of your friendship. Think of it like your friends that sell AMWAY, Tupperware, or some other pyramid scheme that you avoid, because they are always trying to sell you something, except in this case, you are doing it to them and you don’t benefit from it at all—to tell the truth, nobody really benefits from it.

When we last talked, I left you as my wife had invented the Two Pushes and a Gag method of pushing a baby from the womb into the cold, cold world. Without sounding like the beginning of a television show that recaps last week’s adventure, Whitney was doing well and was pushing like it mattered.

True to herself, Whitney did not change anything about her demeanor through the entire process. During the Active Labor portion of the entire show, the woman tends to get tired and needs pushing, or at least I thought that she did. I also thought the best way I could support her was to treat her like I would a Marine who worked for me and was showing the initial signs of fatigue. Marines have a horrible tendency to pontificate that everything can be overcome purely by being mentally tough and exhibiting stick-to-itiveness. Compounding this issue, Marines don’t coax one another, we belittle one another—it is our way.

So, as Whitney pushed and pushed and grew tired, I thought I should step in and motivate her. Raising my right hand exactly two feet in front of my body, while simultaneously forming a “knife hand,” and subsequently thrusting it on every other syllable towards Whitney’s tired face, I said the following: “Whitney, you need to rise above this pain and start pushing for real.” The problems with that statement exist on at least two levels.

The Most Obvious Level: Using the collection of words, “start pushing for real” to motivate somebody relies on the hope that the person you are motivating doesn’t read into the statement and search for what it actually means. To start pushing for real negates every facet of pushing that occurred until that point in time. I could have worded my motivational phrase as follows and received the same look from Whitney, “Whitney, here’s what I am seeing. I am seeing a lot of work and no progress….I need you to start pretending this means something and get your head in the game.” I do not know what I was thinking, but again, you don’t need to worry your little head, because the Whitney that we all know and love doesn’t take shit from anyone particularly when she is in labor.

The entire labor stopped.

Doctors, nurses, janitors, and other patients faded into the surround like ethereal spirits. The air grew so cold that I could see my breath misting as it rose towards the ceiling. Whitney’s head spun 360 degrees and stopped as she centered her wicked gaze upon my trembling soul. Reaching forward and parrying my knife hand to the side like a child’s toy, she spoke. She spoke in three different languages all at once, and to this moment, I do not know what she said, but I do know that what she summoned in that moment is following me. Its every shadow creeping and crawling across my floor, and it is a constant reminder that I need to shut my mouth when I am talking to Whitney.

The temperature returned to normal, doctors and nurses went about their business of delivering a baby, and the world was normal. Whitney smiled and continued. I decided that would be the last time I would use the, “Whitney Needs My Words of Motivation” technique, and all was as it should be.

Whitney pushed for an eternity. Before we entered into the process of labor, we understood that there was a distinct possibility that Whitney would not be able to deliver this child naturally. Without getting into the science of it all, Whitney has the perfect body for bearing a child, minus the minute detail of a pelvic bone structure to let the baby out. The perfect incubator with a bum trap door, but we wanted to try as hard as possible before making the final decision.

Enter the Surgeon.

I would not be exaggerating if I said to you now that George Patton reincarnated would be the doctor who delivered our baby. I could not pick a more emotionless surgeon to conduct the cesarean section. He walked through the doorway and stood there just long enough to appear only silhouetted in its frame. Making his way into the light, George Patton matter-of-factly marched towards Whitney. To shed even more light on the man, this surgeon is honored every year as the oldest practicing doctor in the Army….AWESOME.

He was, by nature of his title, allowed to scour my wife’s nether regions and as such smacked on a rubber glove and began the magic show. While doing so, he made random statements like, uh-huh, yep, okay, there it is, hmmmmmhh, and other sounds of discovery. At the conclusion of the show, he retracted from his scouring and looked at Whitney. This was the doctor’s entire pre-op and informative session with Whitney prior to surgery and it consisted of three sentences:

We can do this for four more hours and you won’t get any farther along, let’s cut this baby out of there, any questions? Good. Let’s do this.

I half expected George Patton to slap Whitney in the face and walk off, but he refrained and we geared ourselves up for the upcoming surgery.

I do not want to make light of the surgery, because it is a major event and it was an exceptionally surreal process. They dressed me up in a big bunny suit and let me record the event as long as I didn’t look past the curtain. As one would expect, Whitney rose to the occasion and was pretty amazing. Britney Spears scrubbed in for the surgery and aided General Patton as he began cutting.

I have never been more nervous in my life as I watched Whitney laying there. She was talking to the doctor about what was being cut and when and she did so with just a tinge of drug induced hilarity, but damn, I was impressed by my little warrior wife during the process.

The doctors made a big deal about the moment before they cut through the uterus, and I thought it was an appropriate amount of drama.
I heard General Patton say, “I’ve reached the uterus.”
Britney Spears says, “Whitney, you ready to meet your baby?”
General Patton continues, “Cutting Uterus.”
Silence………and then boom a baby cries. Britney Spears, breaking protocol, grabs the baby and lifts her over the curtain showing Whitney our daughter. I’m crying, Whitney’s crying, children everywhere are crying, midgets show up again and start crying, General Patton does not cry; instead he made angry eyes at Britney for her breach of regulations.

My beautiful wife Whitney was ecstatic about meeting this baby, and I knew that she was overwhelmed with emotion, tired, and ready for this process to be done. As she calmed down and in true to herself, my wife opened her mouth and said her first words regarding her daughter. She asked, “Is it normal for the baby to sound like Yoda when she cries?”

That was her first question, and I think I have it recorded. I cannot wait until this girl is old enough to understand me, so I can tell on Whitney.

I am not emotionally driven. I do not like when emotions are overly advertised and things like this. It’s my father’s fault, but it is a flaw I think helps me as much as it hurts. But in that moment, when my daughter cried and I saw her make her old man face and look so incredibly unhappy to be joining us in this cruel world, I was a broken man. This girl, this little baby girl punched me right in the heart, and in “Whoville, they say-that Heath Phillips’ small heart grew three sizes that day.”

As I was relishing the moment, things started to change in the operating room. Whitney could feel more pain than she was supposed to, and as a result everything went into some weird bizarro world.

This is an exact transcription of the conversation that occurred next.

Whitney: Shouting “I THINK I AM DYING!!!!”

General Patton: Emotionless “Somebody give this woman something.”

Britney Spears: Excitedly “No you are not dying, Whitney, I am holding your uterus in my hand.”

Whitney: Curiously inquisitive, but emotionally charged and shouting “YOU ARE HOLDING MY UTERUS?”

Britney Spears: Honestly and excitedly, “Yes, and look, you are still alive!”

General Patton: Emotionless, but sternly spoken, “Someone give this woman some drugs.”

Whitney: Very inquisitively shouting, “ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE IT BACK?”

Britney Spears: Excitedly, “Yes, I have my own.”

Whitney: Passes out in a drug induced sleep.

Seated in a wooden chair in the corner of the recovery room, I was holding my beautiful daughter. Outside in the hallway, it sounded as if a parade was approaching and we were about to see the front end pass by our door. The first event in the parade was Dr Britney Spears, who I love for being there, behind her was a train of nurses; doctors; random men and women; midgets and orphans; and last but not least, in the most dramatic float of them all, rode Whitney Phillips spouting out drug induced nonsensical phrases. Britney Spears approached me and my mother-in-law. She leaned in and said, “I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but in the post-operating processes, the following words were heard coming out of Whitney’s mouth: Dildos, Mike and Ike Candies, Hot Tamales, and dear God, Don’t Let the baby look like my husband.”…………..

On October 10, 2012, Shakespeare Ian Phillips entered the world. In doing so, she has given me more material to blog about, I’m sure. I cannot wait to shoot her first boyfriend. There have been many people who have questioned the name we have given her. My favorite is when they tell me it is too long, and I point out that it is only two syllables. Another common concern is that Shakespeare is a boy’s name. For instance, the doctor we have been seeing asked me in a very concerned voice, “You do know that William Shakespeare was a male author, right?” I acted completely surprised and embarrassed of our mistake…

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years…

This blog is the first of a two-part blog. I would have posted the blog in its entirety, but I wanted to get you to come back and read more tomorrow to boost my ego. Also, I know that the people who read my blogs don’t have four hours to read all at once. But, rest assured; I will tell the entire story of my daughter’s entrance into the world.

Opening a Red Hook India Pale Ale, I was sitting down to watch the nightly news and enjoy the evening. I have routines, and I do not like them to be interrupted; I get anxiety when I am not doing exactly what I did yesterday at the exact same time today. At my most comfortable moment, it happened—everything that I wanted to be doing became the least important thing going down in the city. We were going to the hospital, and we were going to have a freaking baby! But let me not get ahead of myself here. Let me give you the introduction you deserve.

Having a baby is the exact same thing as a 13 hour road trip to Vegas except your chance of winning any money is less likely. I would argue that you are on the losing end of the money train by introducing children into any venture, but that will most likely be the subject of future blogs. When you first hit the road to the city of lights, you and your gang are ecstatic about the impending journey. You scream out the window into the night air, “Vegas!!!!!” Everything in your life has come to a focal point and that is the trip to Sin City you are embarking upon–things could not be more perfect.

Flash forward six and one half hours and take a glimpse into the car now. The gang of committed friends that were hell bent on ensuring you didn’t drive your car off of the road, or worse accidentally take a wrong turn and end up in Show Low Arizona, in the middle of a snow storm, are all passed out in the back seat. The enthusiastic scream into the night just a few hours earlier is more of an apprehensive question, “Vegas?” And your question is overpowered by snores and fogged up windows from the sleeping duo in the back seat.

As you arrive in Vegas, the Dynamic Duo of friends that accompanied you seems revitalized and ready for the ensuing three day bender. As I said, this is exactly how labor and delivery unfold except the three day bender following the delivery of a child, while just as sleepless and physically exhausting, involves less alcohol (barring the swabs for the belly button), just as much coffee, and as far as I can tell, there is no legal prostitution going on post partum, but we still have a few days left, so this could still go either way (If I ever write a blog entitled, You Won’t Believe It, There Was Legal Prostitution, you will know to come back here and read.)

So, that is the way it started—like a road trip to Vegas, but in this instance, you never know how far Vegas is away. When the journey towards meeting my daughter started I was as excited as I have ever been, but my excitement would clash head on with the demands of sleeplessness, watching a woman deal in pain that I cannot understand, and finally the homestretch towards fatherhood. Before, I go any farther into this, I want you to know that I am going to speak frankly about childbirth, its processes, what I had to witness, and most importantly, I want you to leave this blog with a much deeper appreciation for the woman as a species. Regardless of whether the mama receives an epidural or not, pregnancy and subsequently labor–both natural and through c-section are the most harrowing experiences a human can enter into, and I have a newfound appreciation for the experience.

Leaves hanging from the trees colored our drive a blur of oranges, yellows, browns, and fading greens as we made our way down the winding, country road leading from our front door to the interstate. We were on going to the hospital, and I was about to meet my daughter for the first time. I was nervous. I had done my homework, spent the hours reading about what is going to unfold before me, talked a big game about how I was going to be in the delivery room, and of course, I understood that the process we were beginning would end in a life changing addition to our home. Things were getting real, and if the moment itself didn’t sell this to you, then you need to know that Lieutenant Colonel Britney Spears was to deliver our baby. I was out of my mind not to use Britney lyrics in every piece of dialogue with this woman. I even accidently broke out into Womanizer once when she was in the room, but I guess she was ignoring me, or get this, during labor, I was not the center of attention! I know, it was a difficult role for me to bear, but it was my burden to hold.

At 6:00 pm, 1800 military time, Whitney was in a gown and progressing into labor. Contractions are a bitch, and the bitch was visiting the Whitness often. We knew we were going for the drugs, and it was time to make the decision. It is easy before the moment to say we will get the epidural, but the actual event of getting the epidural is a different beast in itself. Enter the drama. The anesthesiologist had to come brief Whitney on the what’s-it’s and how’s-it’s of the epidural process, and we were anxious to ask the doctor questions. The door swung open and I shit you not, in walked a woman who looked like Bill O’Reilly with a mullet. Bill O’Reilly looked like the last time she slept was during Nam and she had lived through a world of shit since her harsh days in the jungle. Helping complete the “This Is The Craziest Experience Ever” trifecta, she was dressed in a Kermit the Frog green set of scrubs and nestled on top of her head rested a shamrock chef’s hat perfectly accentuating the party end of her mullet—her entire ensemble screamed that what we were getting was a professional put you to sleeper.

Bill O’Reilly is, of course, required to convey to us the risks and such of the process of being “epiduraled,” but let me make sure you understand completely, there was nothing about Mullet Bill O’Reilly that compelled me to let her stab me through my spinal cord and deaden my body from the legs down, much less my wife. In the end of the fiasco, I had to go get Britney Spears to convince Whitney to let Bill O’Reilly plug medicine into her back. Very weird.

Enter my first task of the evening. I was to hold Whitney while Bill O’Reilly plugged her with meds. I remember watching a class we attended earlier in the pregnancy. I was a statue and I was unbelievable. Sure, Whitney had a needle in her back, but I had to hold her steady. Who wants that job? It was the scariest moment of my life, and I straight up rose to the occasion. I was better than the silver spray painted statue guys that work the streets in New Orleans. I was locked so stiff and for so long, that I was sweating. I would say things like, “you’re doing so well, Whitney,” but I would do it like the Tin Man asking for oil in The Wizard of Oz. Again, I was amazing, and as such Britney Spears gave me accolades.

As the epidural epiduraled Whitney’s legs and girlie areas, the contractions began coming more and more regularly. We were not pushing yet, and I say “we” because I want some credit in this whole deal. From my count, there were four people who at any given moment were allowed to scour my wife’s birthing canal, I was not one of them. They checked for all kinds of things, and I kept waiting for them to pull out a rabbit, or a long string of multi-colored handkerchiefs that never ended. The four would scour and then discuss, scour and then discuss, and then they would all busily read printouts and type things into computers. I had the distinct feeling that Whitney was glad she neither saw, nor felt the excitement taking place three feet south of her nose.

I wrote in an earlier blog about the types of fathers that exist in a delivery room. As the process unfolded, I never had a choice—I was going to be a part of this thing from the get go, and things were getting ready to go, but not before the doctor showed up and we paused. We paused so that we can discuss important information that needed addressing before we had this kid. For a 15 minutes, I worked feverishly to teach the doctor about the Pumpkin Spice Latte that Starbucks offers. I explained to the doctor that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is a warm glass of the season of Fall. You drink it in and you are magically wisped away to a pastoral environment like in the Viagra commercials (minus two bathtubs) where the trees are changing colors, and you can feel the harvesty goodness going on all around. I pleaded to the doctor that as soon as his shift is over, he needed to go to Starbucks and get the latte. He agreed that he was missing out and made me a promise to try it immediately, or as doctors speak, STAT. After he conceded, we decided we should get back to delivering the baby.

Two Pushes and a Gag

I never attended any breathing classes. I have seen television shows that are all based around the HEE-HEE-WHO method, but we never discussed the breathing to my knowledge. However, all of the classes that I did attend had pregnant ladies and their respective breasts in them and I may have been distracted, because pregnancy is sexy and boobs are, well, boobs. In the end, Whitney breathed like a marathon runner and I was in no place to say something like, “Whitney, you’re not breathing in the proper sounds…” I will tell you this: Whitney came up with a much more productive means to pushing this baby. Her method was simple and involved two incredible pushes followed by a severely destructive dry heave. Britney Spears and her gang of scouring thugs all commented that the dry heaves were actually very productive pushing mechanisms, and so it began that Whitney patented the Two Pushes and a Gag method to birthing. I plan to start conducting a travelling school that visits all major cities and metropolitan areas in 2013 to instruct this method to expecting mothers.

My second task of the evening was to hold her right leg while she pushed. There was no curtain, no stirrups, no separation from me and the vagina. I was right in the mix and it was amazing. I am not sure where the man would stand in the room should he not have wanted to witness this, because I could have caught the baby should she have made a move. I am a man, I wanted to help her, and the only thing I could do was just be there and not say stupid stuff. This was more difficult for me than one might think.

Here’s how it went:

The nurse would say a contraction was imminent and then I would act as a force for her to push against. The problem was that I underestimated my wife’s longing to get what is on the inside of her body out. My wife is strong. I was not ready for the forcefulness with which she pushed and found myself ineffective during her first push and pretty much ruined it. “I am better than this,” I thought to myself. I am a man. I fixed a mailbox with my bare hands and a hammer only two weeks ago. I can punch a hole into dry wall (as long as there is no stud directly behind it). I am a freaking man, and I just nearly got thrown through a wall by my wife during her first official push. I messed up, and Whitney in the midst of the warzone that is labor was still a very efficient identifier of my weakness during the push. She stopped and looked at me and said, “I hope our daughter is stronger than you….” I just wanted to curl into a ball and drink a pumpkin spiced latte…alas; I would have a chance to redeem myself.

Whitney pushed for two and a half hours and she looked like she could’ve done it for five more. I was extremely proud of her, and I was also overjoyed and thankful that I was without a uterus and vagina, because I would have made it to the first dry heave and been cashed.

As I said, I will continue this in the next blog, but as a teaser, I offer you this excerpt:

Seated in a wooden chair in the corner of the recovery room, I was holding my beautiful daughter. Outside in the hallway, it sounded as if a parade was approaching and we were about to see the front end pass by our door. The first event in the parade was Dr Britney Spears, who I love for being there, behind her was a train of nurses; doctors; random men and women; midgets and orphans; and last but not least, in the most dramatic float of them all, rode Whitney Phillips spouting out drug induced nonsensical phrases. Britney Spears approached me and my mother-in-law. She leaned in and said, “I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but in the post-operating processes, the following words were heard coming out of Whitney’s mouth: Dildos, Mike and Ike Candies, Hot Tamales, and dear God, Don’t Let the baby look like my husband.”…………..

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for a week and one day….

As the due date for my Daughter arrives, last night was marked with restless sleeping and odd dreams. Subconsciously, the idea of the due date must have been more profound to me than I initially thought. When the doctor first relayed to me the dates, forever ago, I was certain that the method he came to the date was through voodoo, or a dart board with random dates at which to aim. But, here we are, at the due date of my daughter, and it’s early, I’m awake, and my wife sleeps two rooms away from me. Why the sudden dreamfest? I wish I could tell you my dreams were deep and had these prophetic events that just needed an interpreter to explain, but they were kind of cheesy. The significant thing about them was their seemingly long length and quality of repetition.

Into the Sleeping Mind of Heath Phillips

However, the great news for the reader of this blog is that I will take my seemingly cheesy and superficial dreams and go to great lengths to make myself seem a viable mind in interpretation. The reader will leave certain that they only marginally wasted their time. Or, this will be the last blog you read of mine and decide I am preaching to you. Either way, I want to discuss with you my dream, and what it ended up teaching me.

The Bagels Are Not For Eating

In my first dream, my wife had placed a buffet table up in our bedroom whose contents included only bagels. The conflict in the dream was simple: I was to keep the dogs from eating the bagels while my wife got her rest. My wife didn’t explicitly say, “protect these bagels, or you will die,” but the implication was there. You see, even in my dreams I understand my wife’s intent…that is all from training. Returning to the dream. It was stressful because all three dogs were being exceptionally irritating with their insistence that the bagels be their own. As dream time went by, I was pretty successful at parrying the dogs away from the table, but what I noticed was the dogs maintained the same relentless fervor for the bagels.

I woke up once during this dream, but the second I returned to sleep, the bagels were waiting for me to protect them. With the bagels came the dogs.

On the eve of the due date, I dream of protecting bagels. Its embarrassing…..protecting bagels?….However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was brilliant. The dream is as deep as any book that high school English classes force students to read and bagels are delicious.

Breaking it Down

The Bagels.

My unborn daughter manifests herself as the bagels. Now, why my wife decided to put my daughter in bagel form on a buffet table and sleep is probably another blog in itself, but trust you-me, Whitney and I will be discussing her treatment of the bagels later.

The Dogs.

The dogs are life and life’s funny way of relentlessly attacking you with random problems.

I believe that I am coming into my own as a father-to-be. I am developing the instinct to protect her from the dog that is life. Before bed last night, I had a long conversation with my wife and her mother about raising kids in today’s world. The topic stemmed from the news earlier in the week about a teenager giving himself an alcohol enema. On a quest to find the quickest buzz, the teenager deemed the enema his best option. End result is a teenager who had a blood alcohol limit of .40.

I have been playing over the scenario in my head of what must have gone down in the moments leading up to the alcohol being introduced into the butt. I was as reckless a teenager as there ever was. I loved drinking beer (through my esophagus), and I partied like life was ending the day after tomorrow. For the life of me, however, I cannot figure out the chain of events that would have had to occur to get me to try expediting the drunken endeavors through the use of my rectum, but this is what is happening now.

Teenagers. I have written extensively about the phenomenon that is the teenagers. These individuals have lost sight of what matters. But they have me running scared. Last night, we discussed how you raise your kid to avoid making decisions like the one above. It is not as simple as saying teach them right from wrong and they will go forth and do good things. Think about your life. You were probably taught pretty well about what is right and what is wrong, what is a bad decision making process and what process is better, but you still found yourself up to no good. What decisions come down to as a teenager is really a simple compromise between the values and mores derived from their raising, and the gravity of the decisions the teenager is facing at any given time. More simply stated: We are going to experiment, this is unavoidable, but our raising will, to some extent, dictate how far we are were willing to go with our behavior.

Can you imagine being the parent of the kid who is laying on a bed, near death, in the hospital from an alcohol enema? You have to go back and ask yourself, “What did I do or not do to protect the bagels?” My contention is that those statements are too interwoven to break down as opposing actions. When you choose as a parent to be your child’s friend, often times, you choose not to be an example. With every parenting decision you make, you are choosing to let certain things into your child’s life and keep certain things out. By avoiding harsh realities that good parenting is accomplished through leadership and mentoring, we have decided to leave decision making to adolescents. These adolescents have yet to develop the faculties necessary to function well in complex environments like adulthood where poor decisions they make today are tomorrow’s reality.

When you are a teenager, the idea that tomorrow means something is still very much in its fledgling state. One can argue that today’s teenagers have to be more aware of tomorrow and that this is evident in the school environment where students make decisions about colleges and intellectual tracts at 14 years old. I contend that a child knowing that adulthood is the next logical step does not mean that they understand how every action they undertake affects how adulthood will play out. In other words, understanding that one needs to prepare for the future doesn’t equal an understanding of how to prepare for the future.

It is Leadership 101 and it is what will kill you as a leader as quick as any poor decision you make. The people you lead, in this case, your children, do not need your friendship, they may think they want that, but they do not need that. They need leadership. They need to see a living example, and it needs to be consistent. What you see today is a battlefield. Parents are in a struggle to become authority figures that matter; examples that lead; and a moral compass that directs the behavior of their children against a dark enemy force—The inherent longing to be liked by their kids. In the process, parents essentially throw their bagels to the dogs of life and their ravenous appetites. We have to find a way to stray from our longing to be liked and develop a longing to be respected.

The Crux of My Dream

How long can I keep the dogs away from the bagels? The sad part about the bagels analogy is that eventually the dogs will get a chance to eat the bagels, because I can’t protect them forever, nor should I. It is life, and it is the scary part. Even scarier: if adolescents are facing alcohol enemas now, what decisions will it be in fifteen years.

This is where the dream gets difficult to apply, because life doesn’t have to eat us. It doesn’t have to be a series of traps that are lurking around every corner.

In the end, there at no guarantees that your kid doesn’t choose to self destruct. All you can do is engrain in them the faculties to make quality decisions so that when they face the moment of compromise I alluded to earlier, they do it better than the horror stories we read about today.

Or…….maybe, I was just hungry.

I just want you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.

I am a travelling man, a worldly vagabond journeying this spherical orb in search of cultural realization, and the one thing I have witnessed by watching people with their phones and social networking is that we appear to have ninety percent of the population trying to escape their current reality and wirelessly travel somewhere else. The remaining ten percent are all trying to convince the aforementioned ninety percent that their reality is absolutely worthless, and that the ninety percenters need to wirelessly leave their real world behind and become obsessed with the 10 percenters’ reality. Even if the ten percent are only two blocks away, what they are doing is much more exciting than 90 percentville and deserves constant attention from the 90 percenters. I made a pie chart that simplifes the poor usage of possessive adjectives and pronouns. However, my computer won’t upload the work. So here are two simple statements of logic to explain said poor application of grammar:

1. 90 percent of the people would rather not be in their current physical reality; instead they would like to live in an internet reality.

2. 10 percent of the people are content with their physical reality, but want to pimp it to the other 90 percent who are unhappy as explained in logic statement 1. (see bottom figure for an image of my graphic).

I do not write this to call out people on their lunatic behavior. On the contrary, I am writing because I have seen some of these tendencies in myself. A common example is the two people I see on a date at a local diner or coffee shop, and while they are sitting in the same booth, breathing the same air, and for all intents and purposes “together,” they could not be more separate. They are drawn into an internet affair with everyone but the person at that table. Even if it is just to “check-in” we are still saying that the most important thing at the current moment is to let the world out there know what’s going down here. I have been in a moment of sheer wonder and excitement and actually said, “I need to post this to Facebook, so the world can see this.” This is addiction, and I am admitting it. Initially, this didn’t bother me, but after separating myself from my own self obsessed world and just watching other humans interact, I was kind of sickened. Even as I write this blog, I am anxiously thinking about posting it to Facebook, when I will subsequently pray that there are people willing to like my post. This is a perfect segue into my next topic.

Can I get a Thumbs-up, Or No?

What drives our self concept in today’s world is such a different beast than it was only five years ago. I actually consider myself a failure if the posts I put on FB are not received with a million thumbs-up from my Facebook friends. I have turned into the guy in the high school movies that so desperately tries to seek the approval of the popular group, but now instead of being invited to go to the next big shindig, the popular group throws you a big thumbs-up…I know that I am not alone in this feeling, and I have to venture that there are people reading this blog that have, at moments of brutal honesty and self criticality, thought that this internet, Smartphone reality is not healthy. We are all human beings seeking acceptance from the people we hold dear, but Facebook has increased the amount of people in your life that you are in constant contact with as opposed to ten years ago, where your friend list at any given time was probably five people that you saw two to three times a week. Now, we collect friends, and we want all of them to validate us all of the time. For those of you who read this and think that I am over generalizing, well, good for you, you haven’t succumb to the addiction that is this “networked social reality.” But in the end, the fact remains: One thumbs-up is a thousand accolades.

Facebook Friend Types: You Can’t Unread Something

I have a list of friends that is probably full of ten times the amount of people who actually value anything I say. There are people that read my posts and cringe at the fact that they just read my status. I do the same to others. The politically charged atmosphere we live in today has offered a unique glimpse into people on Facebook—most of which don’t have any business pretending to be educated on politics, but because Facebook is the passive-aggressive individuals place to rule, you can drop explosive tirades and just walk away… In the end, all you have to write is, “just sayin’” and you are absolved of any statement you made anyway.

I am making big moves. I want off of this crazy train, at least at the current level of use in my life. It is no longer an application on my Smartphone, as a matter of fact; I have removed any application from the phone that is related to social media. I first thought about doing this when I witnessed a “real life” friend using an old flip-top phone. This guy smiles all of the time, which led me to believe I, too, could find happiness by actually committing myself to those around me. He looks happy, and the coolest thing that he never does, is reach into his pocket and pull out a phone during conversation and make sure that there is nothing more exciting than the current reality going on somewhere else in the matrix. I am absolutely guilty of doing this to people. You might as well yawn, start singing, or just walk away while the person talking to you speaks, because you have exhibited the longing to already. Try ignoring the person in your life who matters the most so you can connect with the masses instead and see how this works for you. My wife is not someone to trifle with and this exact habit would note bode well for me, but I still have found myself reaching for my phone when she is talking to me.

Of my friends, there are no doubt the Facebook friends that relish in voyeuristically watching the lives of others and constantly comparing successes and failures. There are the friends who made an account five years ago, but don’t even check the thing—these are amazing people who are the most normal of us all. Right now, I am certain there are friends of mine who want nothing more than to delete me, but are just not pulling the trigger. There are lifelong friends that will be close to you forever. There are friends that don’t like a single thing about you, but like not liking you so much, they remain your friend to keep not liking you with more intensity. I talk to the same forty or fifty people on Facebook, and of no surprise, I love them. I love having a chance to interact with people that would have slipped through the tracks because of life and time and distance. I have Facebook friends that I am closer with now than I ever was when I actually had to live among them. These are the things I love about it. People from the hallways of my high school, former duty stations, and family alike, Facebook brings you together and it’s a good thing, but it can be destructive.

I think the thing I hate the most about all of this is that I am absolutely guilty of all of them. I’m watching you people. I am well aware of who deletes me. I know who decided I am not worth their time. I know when I didn’t make the cut during your yearly Facebook purge. And, most of all, I hate that it matters to me. So, I am going to purge the system from my reality. I am going retro. I am going to use my phone for calls. I am still going to use it to look up facts to prove I win arguments with my wife, but other than that, I am serious this time.

I am keeping the account, but it is gone from my travelling life. I am going to keep up with the thing, but I am eliminating it from dominating everything I do. I feel better already. I went out to a movie last night, and like clockwork, I picked up my phone to check it and ensure that I wasn’t missing anything. That moment when I realized that my move to the phone is the same involuntary type of movement that quitting smokers talk about, I knew I was making the right decision. This has been a long time coming. I am going to go somewhere with Whitney, and actually be there with her.

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.