I’ve recently gotten back into writing after quite a bit of time off and more than a few false starts. Let me tell ya, managing a store and raising a son does not leave a ton of time for activities.Read More
...is that you can wake up physically tired, mentally exhausted and with a headache and then in the five minutes it takes to convince yourself today is actually going to be a good day your adorable son lets out a massive poop that smells of last night’s pizza and existential dread.
For Father’s Day, I was thinking about two of my favorite movie going experiences I had with my dad: The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) and The Pink Panther (2006). Both movies are comedies and my main memory is just my dad laughing uproariously during each of them.
Since it was 1997, I would have only been seven when we saw The Man Who Knew Too Little in the theater. I remember going with my dad and my dad's friend for sure. And I think my brother Jonathan went with us as well. The important thing is that it was not the full family. It instantly gave us inside jokes that the rest of the family didn't get. When you're the youngest of four that's always really cool. There are a lot of memorable lines we quoted and this scene is one we quoted the most (for those who don't know, Bill Murray's character thinks he's acting in a murder mystery type play but he is caught up in a for real spy plot):
The Pink Panther came out in 2006 so I would have been sixteen. At the time, I was beginning to really get into movies as “art”. I was spending a lot of time online looking up the movies I was “supposed” to watch and developing a lot of strong but ultimately uninformed opinions about film. I remember going to the theater with my dad and brother Jonathan thinking "I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to like this". But once the movie started and we were all sitting there together it didn't matter. All three of us laughed until our stomachs hurt and we had tears in our eyes. For months we would say "hamburger" with a terrible accent because of this scene:
I find it interesting that these are both minor blips in the filmography of two comedy icons. If you ask anyone what their favorite Bill Murray or Steve Martin movie is they would probably not say either of these two movies. But for me, they are up there because of the experience I had with my dad.
These two movies, especially The Pink Panther, taught me an important lesson even though it took a lot of years for me to fully internalize it: Don't Be Stingy With Your Laughter. It doesn't matter what other people find funny, it only matters what you find funny. I see so many people with the attitude of "I dare you to make me laugh" as if they are too cool to laugh. As if being an easy laugh is a bad thing. But here's the thing: there is no "cool" way to laugh. Everyone looks like an idiot, drunk horse when they laugh. So if you're waiting to laugh at only the things that make you look cool and hip, well, you're going to be waiting forever. You may as well embrace your laughter and bring some joy into this world. The world desperately needs it.
I am a workaholic.
Those words seem ridiculous coming from me, especially if you’ve known me at any time in my life prior to the last two or three years. After all, I’m only about five years removed from waking up and driving to Taco Bell while wearing gym shorts and a hoodie with no shirt underneath in order to get a beefy five layer burrito for breakfast at three in the afternoon. (Yes, that really happened and there was a group of high school kids in the lobby that desperately made me want to yell, “THIS IS YOUR FUTURE!” at as I left).
For most of my life, I couldn’t even have been mistaken for a workaholic on accident. Throughout middle school and high school I carefully cultivated my image as a Lazy Smart Guy who was content to coast by on test taking ability and wordiness rather than wasting my time on silly things like “effort” and “studying”. I would tell anyone who would listen that my highest academic achievement was the semester in my senior year where I got straight 90s. That’s right, a 4.0 with literally the least amount of work possible. Quite an achievement to be proud of.
Luckily, in college I met the right group of people to help me shed the Lazy Smart Guy persona and settle comfortably into being just a garden variety underachiever. It’s a good thing I was able to move on from the Lazy Smart Guy persona because everyone knows that Lazy Smart Guy is just one Pokemon evolution away from Fedora Wearing MRA Guy. So I’m incredibly thankful for the friends I made in college who helped me to avoid that trap.
Even though I was content to be lazy in most aspects of my life, I was always different when it came to my job. I understood that if I was getting paid I needed to show up and give my best work. So I always had a good work ethic when it came to getting paid, I was just never able to translate it to school no matter how much my mom tried to convince me I was getting paid for my school work in future opportunity rather than monetary compensation. (I mean, I understood the argument but it’s hard to buy Shocktarts with future opportunity, ya know?) Through high school and college I kept a healthy work ethic in that I worked hard at my job but I never took the work home with me. I always had other areas to occupy my time when I left work. School, books, video games, writing, comedy. Those were my focus and work was the thing I did to get paid.
That changed when I moved to Albuquerque and started getting promoted at Starbucks. First it was Shift Supervisor because I needed the raise to afford rent. Then it was Assistant Manager because I wanted enough of an income that Amanda’s dad wouldn’t laugh at me when I asked to marry her. Then finally Store Manager because I needed to provide for my new family. With each step along the way I started taking work home with me more and more. Keep in mind this is with Starbucks so it is not a physical thing. I wasn’t bringing home a little espresso machine in a brief case each night and serving up lattes in my kitchen. No, it’s an emotional and mental thing.
I’d find myself thinking about work all the time. What could I be doing better? What do I need to adjust so my store can hit the goals it’s supposed to? Initially, I didn’t take this as a bad thing. In fact, I was proud. I mean, it was good that I cared so much right? I saw this as me finally stepping into the world of adult responsibility. I honestly assumed the amount of stress and anxiety I felt was what normal, non-lazy people felt all the time and I was a wuss for not being able to handle it. For two years as a Store Manager I carried the burden of that anxiety around with me, lying to myself and to others that I was doing fine.
Then my son was born.
Suddenly, all the space in my head that I had reserved for caring about work was emptied and replaced with caring for this wonderful new life. I no longer found myself thinking about work in the shower or sitting in the couch. I was thinking about Simon.
The more I focused on Simon, the less I focused on work. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about work anymore. It just means when I’m at my store I give 100% to work and when I leave I stop thinking about it. With that little change I suddenly began to feel lighter. The cloud of anxiety, which I had lived with for so long I had forgotten it was even there, disappeared. The love and responsibility I felt toward Simon completely overwhelmed the responsibility I had toward work. However this was something new—a healthy love and responsibility. Now I wake up every morning excited to see his chubby little face rather than resigned to another day at work.
As this shift took place, a funny thing happened. Because my mental and emotional state were no longer tied up in my store, I actually had the energy for all the things I’d never had time for when I was focused on work (reading, writing, drawing, playing guitar, working out). I used to wake up twenty to thirty minutes before work—enough time to shower and get there on time. Now I wake up an hour before work. I have time to shower, make a French press, and read or write for 30 minutes. At night, I’m making time to write. I’m back up to being able to write about 1,000 words in an hour and I’m working on a novel I have left unfinished since I got promoted to assistant manager in 2015. It’s crazy but I have actually had more time for my creative pursuits since having a baby.
Caring for Simon has made me realize that I was spread thin before because I gave too much of myself to work. I assumed that if I worked harder, worked longer hours, it would ultimately be better for the store and for me. I see now that there are diminishing returns. If I am not taking care of myself outside of work then I am not able to give my best while at work. It seems counterintuitive but working less has not only made me happier it has actually made me better at my job.
I am now a little over five months into being a father and I have made peace with the fact that I am a workaholic. I still have days where I try to take too much of work home with me but they are far fewer than they were before. Luckily, whenever I do start to feel that familiar anxiety creep back into my psyche I have a good method for getting rid of it—his name is Simon.
The title is a reference to this Facebook post by W. Kamau Bell.
Today I had a lovely experience at my store.
An enraged white guy started yelling at one of my employees, calling her retarded and “Social Justice”. When I asked him to leave, he pointed to a (admittedly nice) car in the parking lot and loudly proclaimed “that’s a ninety-five thousand dollar car and I paid cash for it”. I told him that’s nice but I still need you to leave because you can’t talk to my people like that. He responded that he is a millionaire and would never have to work another day in his life. He told me that because I was not a millionaire like him that I was shit. I told him I love my life and my job and he still needed to leave my store. Finally, he left, loudly yelling at me that I was “Social Justice”, retarded, and a libtard. He kind of paused before he said the libtard part as if he was gearing up to throw down an insult that would reeeaaallly hurt me.
I made some jokes about it afterward, saying that I’ve never seen Twitter in real life before and referring to him as a member of the Intellectual Dark Web, but honestly I was shaking with anger for a good fifteen minutes afterward and I am still angry.
What’s crazy though is that I was only shocked because this was a real life person saying those things to my face. If I had read those things online or heard a media personality say them or heard an elected politician say them I would not have been surprised. Because I’ve been reading those things and hearing those things for the last three years. They have been legitimized and embraced by people in positions of power and cultural influence.
This rich, white man yelling in a cafe was not an anomaly. There are so many more like him and they will only get louder unless we stop indulging their “the world is getting too PC” fantasies.
The world is not getting too PC. There was no golden age where people didn’t get offended. The difference is that now the internet has given a voice to the people who have always been offended but also been ignored.
I know I’m rambling so I’m going to wind this down. I just want to say to the people in my life who pride themselves on being Anti-PC and who vote for politicians because “I don’t agree with everything they say but at least they’re honest” that this is what you’re advocating for.
The ideology you embrace and give credence to is not about “freedom of thought” and “freedom of speech”. It’s about rich, white dudes being able to yell right-wing catchphrases at 20-year-olds in coffee shops.
Every so often you have those moments that certify yes, you and your partner are perfect for each other. Sometimes these moments are joyous, sometimes they’re serious, other times they’re silly, and unfortunately sometimes they’re sad.
Today, Amanda and I shared a silly moment and it’s one of my favorite silly moments we’ve had in a while.
I was changing Simon’s diaper and Amanda was getting some laundry ready to be washed. As she often does, Amanda was singing to Simon as she walked around the room picking up stray pieces of laundry I had left behind when I hastily took the hamper to the laundry room. It’s always a random song from her extensive music teacher repertoire and today the song of choice was Old MacDonald Had A Farm. In the middle of her song, she stopped to ask if I had intentionally left behind a trail of socks. I responded with something flippant and started singing “Old MacDonald had a sock...”
Because she’s the best, Amanda joined in and sang along with me. I thought, awesome she joined in but I’m going to try extra hard to make her laugh. So when it got to the E-I-E-I-O part, I sang “E-I-E-I...SOCK!”
And she sang THE SAME EXACT THING!
It was amazing. Poor Simon doesn’t know what he’s getting into.
I wanted to create this website/blog/vanity project for a few reasons.
1) It’s an elaborate way of tricking myself into writing more by creating deadlines and a structure. It’s also easier to write if I get to post it somewhere people could potentially read it.
2) I really don’t like Facebook but I want to post longer updates about my daily life (AND BABYYYYY) since most of my family and friends live in other states. I will never recommend my family follows me on twitter so this seemed like a better option.
3) I like playing around with website formatting because it reminds me of my Xanga and MySpace days.
4) I actually am low key vain.
On The Format:
Right now I will be publishing nonfiction pieces every Wednesday and short blog entries daily-ish. My nonfiction pieces will vary in length and subject matter, the only theme being write what I want to read. My blog entries will basically be glorified Facebook posts but with the bonus of letting me feel smug for using Facebook less.
As I get used to my website schedule and increase my writing output, I will begin adding new sections to the site. My next section will be a short fiction section but that won’t be for a month or two because I have a tendency to overdo it on creative projects and I want to ease into this. After that I want to add video and music sections! But that won’t be for a long time.
Anyway, thanks for reading!
This was originally a facebook post I made in 2015 in response to one of the numerous mass shootings our country has endured. Sadly, it's still relevant today and even sadder is the fact there have been so many shootings I honestly can't remember which one prompted this post. I chose to repost this here because a) I'm proud of this post and b) it is kind of the stylistic template for what a lot of the pieces on the nonfiction section of my site will be.
When I was little, say 3-5, I wasn't allowed to play with my older brother's Transformers toys. Looking back, it makes sense. I mean, I had just barely mastered not pooping in my own pants so why would I be trusted with complex actions figures that have tons of tiny, very breakable parts? Just because it makes sense doesn't mean I was happy about it at the time though. I'm sure I cried on more than one occasion after reaching for Optimus Prime and being told "No, you're not old enough for that toy yet".
And it's not like my brothers took a perverse joy in denying me access to their Transformers. I have great brothers. They love the heck out of me, they love Transformers, and I'm sure they couldn't wait to share that love with me. However, they understood it was best for everyone if I waited until I was old enough. Afterall, it was pretty much inevitable that I would break a Transformer which would mean two things 1) I would get in trouble for breaking said Transformer 2) They would no longer be able to play with the broken Transformer.
So, for a long time, my brothers had to keep the Transformers in their room on a shelf that I couldn't reach. I would go into their room and look at that shelf with all the jealousy my little four year old body could muster. Eventually, I was able to play with the Transformers but only if one of my brothers got it for me and taught me how to properly transform it. So I started out with the easy ones, Cliffjumper and Bumblebee, and slowly progressed onto more difficult Transformers. When I finally reached the age where I could play with Transformers unsupervised, I did so very carefully and with a lot of respect, because I understood that playing with Transformers was a privilege.
So, even though I hated that rule when I was little, I'm very glad my parents handled it that way. They could have just said, look, toys are toys and they all have to be shared equally. My three year old self would have been very happy with that, but I would have realized the mistake when I got older and we had a house full of broken Transformers. They also could have said, hey, if Robby can't play with Transformers then no one gets to play with Transformers. But that wouldn't have been fair to my brothers. They were the ones who spent hours watching Transformers. They were the ones who recorded the episodes on VHS for repeat viewings. They were the ones who carefully read the directions every time before transforming an action figure for the first time. They were the ones who knew all the lyrics to "The Touch" by Stan Bush. They were responsible Transformers owners.
Now I won't lie to you and say we had a perfect household, we had our problems. But you better believe that an epidemic of broken Transformers was not one of those problems.
Which brings me to this: I won't say guns need to be banned entirely. I will say, however, that I think guns in America should be regulated to the same extent that Transformers toys were regulated in my house growing up. I don't think that's too much to ask.
Today I hit the special milestone of successfully wearing Simon in our BabyBjorn carrier. It sounds stupid but it's actually a big deal. He has always loved being in the carrier with his mom, but for some reason he has hated being in the carrier with me. However, this morning I decided to give it another try and he liked it! At least that's what I'm assuming falling asleep in the carrier means. Maybe he was just so annoyed with me putting him in the carrier that he went to sleep as a way of avoiding me (If so he definitely learned that trick from me). It was really nice having him in the carrier. I got to rock him gently back and forth while he slept; meanwhile, I got to read a few chapters of my book and sip on a nice cup of coffee. That forty-five minute stretch of time was easily the highlight of my day.