Friday, August 29, 2008

Changed Directions?

So this morning at about 7:00AM, a very groggy and disoriented Tyler ambled into my room.

"Dad?" he said, leaning over the side of my bed.

"What's up, buddy?" I answered, yawning and blinking awake (sort of).

"The house..." he began, trying hard to form the complete concept in his sleepy mind. "The house... has shifted."

"I'm sorry? What was that?" I blinked again.

"The house..." (another pause) "...has changed directions."

Aha, I thought to myself. On Friday, all the industrial waste trucks come to collect the dumpster garbage around, which starts about 7AM. Combined with Tyler's occasional somnambulism (and vivid dreaming), I could see what might give him a sense of movement beyond his own body.

"The house hasn't moved, buddy."

"It hasn't?"

"No, it hasn't. Why don't you go back to sleep..."


Then he leaned over further, gave me a hug, and shuffled back to his room.

This is my world of parenthood.

Today's Horoscope


You're far too humble to start bragging left and right about your recent accomplishments, but in your quest to not be pompous, are you depriving yourself of some positive press that you really deserve? You should softly toot your own horn, today. Let a few blabbermouths in on what you've done or won and let them do the gossip spreading for you. People need to know how awesome you are, so don't hide your gifts away. Share them with pride and confidence.

Um. 'Kay.

Go, me!

Made It.

I didn't relate the results of our meeting with Jim Demonakos on Wednesday night. Sorry. Jim's been a friend for almost a decade, and has signed onto the Duo production as an associate producer, in an effort to help secure interest, resources and perhaps investment in the film. He gave us some excellent suggestions, and Dan & I both felt like meeting with Jim and bringing him on-board was a great step in the right direction.

Yesterday was a roller coaster, for sure. For whatever reason, Matt's absence was felt more acutely this year. For me, I think it was because I want to be able to share these amazing new changes in my life, and can't. He's been gone 36 years and I still miss him. Funny how that works. Maybe I miss the potential that was Matt, or the memory of our brief time together, and the dynamic personality and intelligence that was already manifesting when he made his exit.

I mean, how can you really miss someone you only knew for a couple years, right?

Wrong. If he was your brother, or your son, you miss him. Time is not a factor.

I was propped up by contact with friends and family, and had the distraction of watching history being made last night.

It's been a really profound and emotionally exhausting week, and I'm looking forward to hosting my second football party of the year tonight, with good food, good friends and maybe* some alcohol. And some girlfriend time for the long weekend.

* No "maybe" about it. We're seeing out summer with margaritas and daiquiris.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For Raechelle

(She who cheers me up with lovely emails throughout the morning...)

Happy Birthday Matt

My brother Matthew would be turning 38 today.

Since the passing of my dad, my mom and I are now the only members of his immediate family unit remaining who were here when he was.

Big hugs, Mom. I love you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Busy Day

I've got to run to a school meeting for Tyler today, so a more lengthy post will have to wait. But do not despair, for there are great things happening at I Can Has Cheezburger.

Like this...

Which reminds me. I promise to make a doctor appointment this afternoon, Rae. So there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Small Victories (A Bullet List for Tuesday)

  • Raechelle took me to lunch - yay!
  • Had a good discussion (looking forward to holidays, etc)
  • Tyler is still #3 on the WSHS waiting list, and the nice lady at the enrollment center said his chances were "extremely good" for getting in
  • Did the grocery shopping for the week (and may have accidentally bought a few lotto numbers - MegaMillions is up to $114mil, and there's no way I can ignore that, even when the odds are so high - what are the odds of losing your wife to cancer, your father to cancer, and then having your house flood and burn down, all in one calendar year??)
  • The cleaners came, so my house is neat - and it took them less time (and less time = less money)
  • Got the Cali vacation pics uploaded to Facebook (and even tagged)
  • Gonna get a nap

See? Already many degrees of better. Plus, if you'll look to your right, you'll see I've added to my blogroll. For happy sensual of the enjoyment time.


I can identify with that.

Now don't get all worried, dear readers. I've talked about my diagnosed "mild bipolar" condition in the past, and all will be well in a few days. There's just a lot going on for me right now, including (but not limited to):
  1. Back to school approaching, and a lot of parental/school interface (especially dealing with Tyler's situation)
  2. Duo funding being stalled
  3. Relationship switching gears from 24/7 vacation to "see ya on the weekend"
  4. Dealing with PTSD from recent and past trauma alike (I can do it, it's just complicated)
  5. ...which feeds into: a) not eating; b) not sleeping; c) not doing home maintenance; d) not doing self maintenance
  6. Switching gears from really productive on the OA series pilot script to total writer's block, and I have a production meeting on Thursday
  7. Matt's birthday is in 2 days, and I'm missing him... yes, still
  8. The Seahawks lost last night's game by one friggin' point
In short, I'm not running on all cylinders, and I don't feel like I can talk about it with anyone - so you, the anonymous (and not-so-anonymous) reader gets to read my griping. Sorry. Like I said, all will be peachy in a few days, and I hope to post happier stuff (like the sand castle kid below).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fun for Tuesday, in Advance!

From Mark Bruno's Signal vs. Noise...


  • Tried to stay off the leg today. Didn't really work too well. I'm a bad patient, especially when I'm also the doctor.
  • I was supposed to get a doctor's appointment and a dentist appointment today. I did neither, completely distracted by my stupid leg. I suck.
  • Supposed to go to a meet-n-greet for our realtor (my mom and stepdad are coming down for it) but between the thunderstorm and the leg, I think I may just hole up on the sofa and watch the Hawks/Chargers game. In any case, it's a literal pain to drive my car right now because of the multiple muscle strains in my clutch leg. I thought it was just a twisted ankle initially, but driving to get coffee this morning told me otherwise.
  • Watched The Audience Strikes Back, and fielded a couple phone calls from Dan, apologizing. It's a good premise that is unfortunately haphazardly directed and goes off the rails halfway through. It was really fun watching Dan, and surreal seeing OA's Brittany Quist as a blonde bombshell.
  • Did I mention thunderstorm?
  • Feeling really "bleh" and I need to see to some food for the kids if we're not going to the meet-n-greet.
  • Big stuff coming up this week, like an OA series dev meeting, a school meeting regarding Tyler, and a big football party.
  • Did I mention "bleh"?

(Only) Three Months? Really?

[extreme mushy alert!]

So, yeah. Yesterday marked three months of Raechelle and me actually officially exclusively dating (although we'd been nurturing something for a month prior to that). And, like her, I feel like it's been years. There's a familiarity there, an inherent trust and comfort I've never had before.

We had a swanky, intimate dinner at Salty's, looking out over Elliott Bay and the Seattle skyline. We had some great laughs and conversations, and she informed me about her mushy post, which I hadn't seen. She spent the night, and I sent her off to work with a latte and croissant (I have a rep to uphold, ya know). TBBE - that's me.

So now I'm sitting at my desk with coffee in hand, having read my girl's blog post and feeling all warm and fuzzy (despite nursing a bunch of strained muscles in my left leg due to an encounter with my suitcase in the dark last night - time for Ibuprofen and an ice pack). I know I said the new blog was not going to be therapy like the old one, but I feel compelled to add my own experience of the relationship.

I love the picture she paints of the kids and me, standing at the end of the path, waiting for her to join us. But that's not entirely the case from my vantage point. The kids are totally there, but I'm not with them.

When Samantha died, I experienced the ultimate betrayal. The loss of my closest confidant and best friend. And while I can see my relationship with Raechelle beginning to take flight on wings of its own, I'm still wary and guarded. She knows this.

I also find myself dealing with trauma long past... again... triggered from having to build a new relationship and new trust from the ground up. We both have baggage, and that's frustrating, but you don't get to 40 and 33 respectively without baggage. It's just a fact of life. We both acknowledge this, and as she says, we're doing a great job getting it all squared away.

It's big, this Relationship thing (notice the capital R). Bigger than either of us individually. I know it's good, and solid, and right. Even so, I'm still poking along my own path, sorting through my own triggers and baggage, looking for the crossroads where she and I can meet, and proceed along a new path together. And where I have admittedly far more long-term relationship experience, I certainly don't feel as though I own the path. This is just as new for me as it is for her. It's a big step to invite a woman into my life, to share my home and my children and my social life, to give up a modicum of the control I maintain as a solo parent. I'm very willing to do it, but it takes time to become comfortable with the notion, even as much as I dislike solo parenting and being without a 24/7 partner. I hate that dichotomy, and tend to beat myself up for dragging my feet. My "gatekeepers" are cheering me on as much as they are cheering Raechelle.

So I think it's accurate to say we're both a bit gun-shy. I'm not tapping my foot or checking the time, and I'm certainly not pressuring Raechelle (or myself) to move any more quickly than is comfortable for either of us. And the less pressure, the faster we end up moving. It's weird, but very cool. It's a strange dynamic that will give us much to laugh about in the coming years.

That said, I too am 100% in love with the girl, and committed to whatever the future holds for us. She did a great job in the "parent pool" and with my gatekeepers, and the kids were really great the whole time - not one major meltdown all week!

I am confident that we have many more anniversaries ahead, and the next few months will speed by before we know it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

We're Back!

Man, what a week, and I'm still on vacation, damnit!

Thursday afternoon, we went to the Winchester Mystery House. We had a guide who was a cross between Charles Nelson Reilly and Peter Cook from The Princess Bride (you know, "Mawwage"). It was cool to look at all of the changes that have been done since I was there last (which I think was before the 1989 Loma Prieta quake).

We headed back briefly to Chez Creth, then drove out to Woodside, to the home of Mark and Liz, and their twin boys Alec and Max. It was good to chill with Mark & Liz again, and the boys are getting huge.

Friday we made a plan to not make any plans. We slept late, slobbed around in our jammies until Noon, went swimming at the Chez Creth pool, then Raechelle and I drove around Palo Alto a bit. I felt strangely detached, and was actually very happy to have her there to show her the places that had once meant something to me, but no longer hold any magic. We went back, had pizza and watched The Lost Boys. It's good to know my girlfriend can quote the entire screenplay. I knew there was a geek in there somewhere.

We woke by 9AM this morning, got packed up and back to the airport. Upgraded again (so worth it!), and had a calm, uneventful flight. Caught a taxi home and found that some of the basics had been neglected by the house sitter, but at least the pets were alive and happy to see us. Raechelle saw my darkened mood and cleaned my kitchen before heading home for the night. Kayleigh and I went to Elliott Bay for dinner (vacation, remember?), grabbed some pet supplies and breakfast stuff for tomorrow, and headed home.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have coffee with Ron, and then dinner reservations at Salty's that evening. Raechelle and I are celebrating 3 months and still going strong.

I'll let her talk about her experience traveling with me and two children, but I can say from my observations it was generally positive for both of us. She got a taste of parenthood (with the authority to go with it), and got to meet my "gatekeepers" (and she was welcomed heartily by all). We both got a taste of close quarters 24/7 living, and we not only survived 7 days together, I daresay we liked it. As long as we can take off together as a couple once in awhile, put the parent identity aside for a breather every now and then, I think we're both in a good space and continuing forward with a positive attitude.

Chris and Beth were simply phenomenal hosts, and I will miss hanging out with them (thank you so much, you guys!), but just the same, it's good to be home.

The whole flickr photo set is here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

California, Mid-Week Update

Color Key:
Red = Todd
Purple = Raechelle

Saturday 8/16

Being the efficient and organized travelers we are, we were up bright and early and waiting for the SUV from the towncar company when it arrived (and already one latte (latte latte latte!) and/or giant iced tea ahead of the game). We got through security without a hitch, grabbed some food from the airport Starbucks (latte #2 for Raechelle (LATTE LATTE LATTE!), giant iced tea #2 for Todd). The kids amused themselves with their Nintendo DS thingies while the adults sat around giggling, hopped up on caffeine (heart=exploding).

Then the Alaska Airlines lady got on the PA and said they were offering $50 upgrades to first class. It took us about 30 seconds to decide to go for it. All four of us. Kids together at the bulkhead, adults together in the last row. Best $200 spent. EVER. How can we ever go back to coach?

I will not hesitate to fly first class whenever possible. As my good friend Ferris Bueller says, "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." Two beers and two glasses of wine later (feelin' groovy, baby.), we landed safely in San Jose, got our luggage and took the transport bus to the rental car place. They were out of our booked mid-size car, so we were upgraded to the GMC version of the Saturn Vue for free. Comfy, leather seats, smooth ride, and an auxiliary jack for Raechelle's iPod. Sweet.

We got to Chris & Beth's place in the afternoon and got settled. Then we all headed over to Andrea's 40th b-day party, where we saw a few old high school friends including Jed, Abi, Becky, Paul & Marte. Raechelle wowed them all. Of course I did. I even wore a pirate bandana to fit in with the cool kids. Did you know I was dating a pirate? Arr.

Sunday 8/17

Went over to the Hyatt for brunch with Sam's parents, which was a bit tense for Raechelle and me, but she managed quite well, and I did gauge their general approval (which is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things, but was nice nonetheless).

Yes, a bit tense, but really not a bad thing. Really.

Then Randy met us back at Chez Creth, and we piled into the rent-a-rig for our trip over the hill to Santa Cruz. And I read a book on the drive. Didn't even throw up. We met up with Dave Beach and his kids downtown at Pacific Garden Mall, grabbed something to eat and chilled for a bit at Atlantis Fantasyworld, the comic shop at which I spent much of my early adolescence. Joe has been running the place for decades. He's a Santa Cruz celebrity, a singer/songwriter, advocate for prostate cancer awareness, and all around cool "uncle". He even remembered me. With Dave and Randy there, it was a mini reunion.

As an aside, for those who know the film The Lost Boys, Atlantis was the comic shop featured in the movie as the hangout of the Frog Brothers. In fact, Joe is in the background (with his bushy black beard, which is now white). In the interest of accuracy, it was the original store and not the current location that was actually used in the film. But still. And Joe gave me a copy of his folk CD, and I gave him a copy of OA.

The Lost Boys is one of my absolute favorite movies, by the way. When Todd asked if I wanted to go to Santa Cruz, my first questions was "Isn't that where Lost Boys was filmed?!" My only request for this trip was to see the Boardwalk. And to see a vampire. That's all. Really.

We drove around Aptos for awhile and then headed down to meet my uncle Russell and his wife Gah neh na, (herein known as "Sally", cause it's easier for me) his son Aaron and his wife, his other son Noah and his girlfriend for dinner at a nice little Mexican place in Seascape (very close to where I used to live). Then we all drove out to Russell's place in the Santa Cruz hills.

It's a gorgeous property with 360-degree privacy, beautiful bird-friendly gardens, a waterfall, a hot tub, outdoor shower, flagstone walkways... an island of serenity with views of Monterey Bay from the back deck.

Holy crap, talk about a retreat. We saw a mama deer with her two babies on the drive up, oodles of birds, and Russell said they've even had a mountain lion wander across their deck. While they were sitting in the hot tub. It's like Wild Kingdom, I tell ya.

Speaking of Russell, the man has got some stories. And you'd swear he's making them up, until you see the pictures. One of him touching a rhino's horn. One of a charging lion (that he almost peed on). One of of him hugging a tiger. My new favorite joke is, when Todd mentions Russell, I say "So, this one time I was on a Mayan temple......" And he was. He has pictures.

Monday 8/18

We awoke to fog and hummingbirds outside the window, and spent a leisurely morning with Russell et al, eating fresh pastries from Gayle's, drinking tea and watching the birds at the feeders. It was well after Noon when we got ourselves organized and down to the Boardwalk. There were no vampires. Crap. We ate some corn dogs and fries, and the kids and Randy rode some rides. I took Raechelle on The Cave Train, which is possibly the lamest, cheesiest ride in amusement park history, but it's one of those things that's so bad it must be experienced. Only for my man.....

We packed up and headed back over the hill to Chez Creth, and Tyler bowed out of dinner. Raechelle, Kayleigh and I joined Randy for dinner at Frankie, Johnny & Luigi's. Then Randy went home to Rocklin.

Tuesday 8/19

We took a well-deserved rest, sleeping late. I slept until 9am! Just like old times! We were on the road to Half Moon Bay by about 2PM. Raechelle got to see some beautiful views to and from, and we had the pleasure of sitting in a traffic jam (from a wild fire being seen to). Once in Half Moon Bay, we (hit a wall of fog. Sunny behind us. Fog in front of us. Bathing suit....and a sweater.) found a pretty empty section of beach, and toodled there awhile among the throngs of pelicans (I don't know what a flock of pelicans actually is, but man were there throngs of them). BIRDS EVERYWHERE. Actually, these weren't so scary. I've never seen a pelican before. Other than on Finding Nemo. Tyler even took his shirt off and body surfed awhile. It was only on the way back to the car that we saw this sign.

Back in Santa Clara, we met up with my buddy Hans (freakin' hysterical) and he and Raechelle and I went to Indian food, followed by a few drinks at the Boardwalk sports bar in Mountain View.

Wednesday 8/20

Another late morning (I love vacation!). Kids didn't even stir until noon. Raechelle and I found some beach towels on sale at Ross, then stopped at Chili's for lunch and a margarita, and some quality mushy adult time. Then Beth, Julia, Tyler, Kayleigh, Raechelle and I walked to the pool. Only Tyler had borrowed and then left my swim trunks at the beach in Half Moon Bay, so I couldn't go in. It was the capper on a crappy day (a bunch of technical and mundane stuff I won't go into). But I got in the pool! In my new bathing suit! Of which there are no pics. Wait. I think Todd actually got a pic of it at the beach. D'oh!

But it was redeemed by our evening jaunt up to Menlo Park to visit Steven Fox and his girlfriend Angela. He took us out to dinner at Jeffrey's (a sort of retro burger joint). There were milkshakes. And they were good. Now we're back at Chez Creth and winding down. Have a full couple of days left to go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We are in California (aka The Republik of Kalifornia).

We are alive and well.

We have many pictures.

We will post a mid-week update tomorrow.

That is all.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ready... Set...

Counting down. In about 24 hours, we'll be in San Jose. I've spent the last 24 hours doing laundry and getting plans squared away, and having a couple panicky moments... Is it too soon? Will it be a bonding experience for us, or will it stress Raechelle (and by extension, me) out? Blah blah blah, etc etc. I don't know. I have hope. I guess we'll see. I suppose if it were a bad idea, we'd have decided against booking the trip (or house hunting together) awhile back.

I'm bringing the laptop, so hopefully there will be updates and pictures from the road.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sushi Picnic

Went to Rae's office. Saw the mood on her dry erase board was happy. I added rosy cheeks, stars and hearts. We walked to the park and ate us some sushi. She, California rolls. Me, cucumber rolls. We chatted. She vented about work. Looking forward to the trip.

Came home and was immediately attacked by a vicious nap. Have much laundry to do. Feeling mushy, but I realize I'll have the whole week with TBGE to be mushy. It's all good. Eventually.


I guess I'm "it". Heather just tagged me (and Raechelle) with a meme, so now you're all in for it.

Here are the directions:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Here are my 6 unspectacular quirks.
  1. I'm a beer snob. Ever since I visited Great Britain in 1990 and had a bitter for the first time, I was hooked on real, flavorful beer. When I moved to Seattle and brewed my own, it only got worse. I've been an official beer snob for over a decade, and wouldn't have it any other way.
  2. I'm allergic to shellfish and MSG. We're talking 48 hours of wobbly vision and a double-ended fountain of stuff you'd just as soon not see or smell. So forget that trip to the Chinese seafood place. I'll just have the chicken.
  3. I still have the remnants of my coastal California accent. Seriously. After 17 years in Seattle. It becomes stronger when I'm excited about something, or when Raechelle slips into her twang (which makes me excited).
  4. I do a passable Sean Connery and a passable James Mason impression. By me a drink sometime and I'll show you. I used to do more impressions, but those two have always been the best.
  5. I'm a good friend. Some might not qualify that as "unremarkable", but it's always come as natural to me as breathing. The number of friends I have who date back 10, 20, 30 years or more are a testament to that.
  6. I need music. Physically need it to survive. And also to be near salt water.
I tag: Beth, Derek, Andrea, Kayleigh, Konrad and Mark.

Another Hurdle Cleared

After sitting in some really weird highway 99 traffic, I managed to take Western Ave. (which is never faster than 99) and arrived at Raechelle's a mere half hour later than expected. But I had wine, so that was nice for everyone. TBGE cooked a delicious chicken with mushroom sauté and green beans, and we looked through her old yearbooks/high school photos. She got me caught up on all of her old prom dates and crushes, fawning and smiling. It was very cute.

Guitar Night went amazingly smoothly. There was no discomfort on my end and it didn't appear to be on anyone else's. In addition to the standard songs in the Guitar Night Binder, I played an original from my recording days with And Tears Fell (which was well received), as well as a coffee house arrangement I've done of Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumours". It was cool meeting Travis Metcalf and Chris Taylor (not the game designer), Sean McParland was a great host and kept the fire pit ablaze, and Shaun Darragh gave me bigger props than I ever would have expected by calling me "brother" upon my exit. When you get that from the girlfriend's "big bro", I think you're officially in the family.

Got home a bit later than expected, but not too bad. Got the pets fed and kids in bed, sent out a thank you email, and I was asleep when my head hit the pillow at 11:30.

And that's when the dreams began. Some really random and partly disturbing dreams, the last of which woke me at 5:30 AM. I drifted in and out of light sleep until 7:30, but my REM sleep was very much done for the night.

Taking a sushi picnic to Raechelle today. Weather should be excellent.

We're at 48 hours and counting 'til California.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Love Missile!

Why we love Dad Gone Mad. You can be sure I left a comment on that one.

Curiouser and Curiouser

With Kayleigh at her camp out birthday party, Tyler freshly showered and hanging in his room playing Gary's Mod and Raechelle hanging with her friend Jamie, I suddenly found myself having a quiet, relaxing evening more or less alone. Since I'm a parent 24/7, a little downtime is nice once in awhile.

Except I would've preferred to be out shooting some pool and/or drinking.

Oh well.

I finished the dinner I hardly touched the previous night and watched Coach Carter. Ashanti was riveting. Yes, I'm kidding. Then I figured I should try and get through my other Netflix and made it through half an hour of the CG animated TMNT before I got totally disinterested and put in the Vietnam morality play knows as Casualties of War. Only made it through half of that before I became disenchanted with the operatic overacting. Surprising, since we're talking Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox, John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo and Ving Rhames. And directed by Brian DePalma. Really??

Fortunately I only had to sit through a few minutes of a South Park rerun before The Girl called. And in the middle of that conversation my other girl called (the ten year old at the camp out), just to say goodnight. Very sweet. Back to the first Girl - we made a plan for tonight. A plan that has gone through several iterations and changes of mind.

For my readers-who-haven't-read-all-of-Raechelle's-blog-'s benefit, in her old group of friends there is/was a tradition of getting together and playing music. Guitar Night. Raechelle's ex was involved, the Sheauns were involved, and a host of others. As happens with any group of friends, some folks move away, some drift away, and when the group imploded last year, Guitar Night sort of went away. That's a grossly oversimplified version of the story, but it must suffice unless Raechelle wants to give you more detail.

So apparently someone from the old group is back in town, and Rae's "big brother" Shaun arranged for a Guitar Night reunion. And we were invited. And while that's a huge nod of approval from Shaun, there was still some ickiness on Rae's side (for reasons I won't go into here), so we had decided not to go, and just have a quiet dinner with the two of us. Then she apparently got over her ickiness (or maybe it was the wine with Jamie), and we're doing dinner AND Guitar Night. Except that we have left ourselves The Out, if needed. I personally think it's a great opportunity to establish us as a couple with people from her old group, most of whom only know of me through her description (and you all know I'm much more impressive in real life). But just the same, I think no more than an hour - 'cause you know I have to get back and pick up my kids.

Tried to go to bed at 11, but was again kept up by Vandals Part 2. This time, I called the cops. Twice. With basic descriptions from an admittedly inferior vantage point. But at least I saw them this time. Two Caucasian males in hoodies on the roof of the new construction next to the State building. throwing bottles and sundry other breakable objects into the parking lot. I hope they got 'em this time.

Just booked our transportation to the airport. Towncar/limo service isn't much more expensive than a shuttle, and is specifically for you and your schedule. I learned that from my girlfriend. She's so smart. S-M-R-T.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Birthdays and Teenagers and Houses, Oh My!

Last night, we took the kids to the house we saw on Sunday. They were thrilled, running around and fighting over bedrooms and playing little possibilities in their heads. Pretty much what adults do in those situations, only less apologetically. By the end of the tour, however, Tyler was starting to develop an attitude.

In the car on the way home, the question of ice cream with the homemade blackberry pie was raised, and I said I would stop and get some on the way home. The kids had been involved in some sort of distracting wrestling match in the back seat, and I had already warned them that if I had to reprimand either of them once more, there would be no ice cream.

Tyler, who had been pointing out fault in the extreme all day long, said that we should have stopped at Husky Deli for the ice cream. I replied that it was too far back to warrant turning around. He then chose to tell me that we had been closer to Husky at one point (in that very accusatory way that says, "not only are you not giving me what I want, you're stupid for not giving it to me.").

Which warranted a reprimand. Which meant no ice cream. Which meant tears from Kayleigh and a stream of verbal abuse from Tyler, which included the shock of my life: being repeatedly called an asshole in front of my daughter and girlfriend (who sat quietly in the passenger seat, looking shocked).

Now, keep in mind that Sam & I were all about attachment parenting and creating as non-corporal an environment as we could. Even so, Tyler has been spanked upon occasion by both Sam and myself (although not for years now), and as a parent who has tried both corporal and non-corporal methods, I can honestly say that corporal methods do not work and have never worked, with me or either of my children. So, when dealing with genius level kids in a non-corporal household, we are maneuvering on a much higher, cerebral plane.

I was very proud of myself. I told Tyler that he needed to shut his mouth immediately for his own good, and that when we got home he was to go immediately to his room pending a very intense discussion of his atrocious behavior and what penalty he would pay. My tone was ominous and authoritative, and I could tell by the way both kids shrunk back in their seats that it was being effective. But I never once lost my cool. No slamming of brakes, no fist flying wildly into the back seat in some half-assed macho disciplinary motion.

We got home and Tyler went to his room, and I consoled Kayleigh, then said goodbye to Raechelle after she assured me that I'd done the right thing and that, contrary to the way I feel sometimes, I am a good father. I informed Tyler of the severity of his transgression, and put him on restriction for the rest of the week, and took away his cell phone for a whole day (Tyler responds to gadget deprivation much more strongly than to physical coercion). After that, he was docile and contrite, and he went to bed shortly thereafter.

Kayleigh has a birthday camping trip to attend this afternoon, but before that can happen, we need to get her cell phone SIM card replaced and get to the store for a gift for her friend.

I got the inspection report from the home we looked at, and there is an action item list that will need to be attended to. A potentially expensive list at that. So I don't know how possible a move will be at this point, unless one of our projects gets a green light and I start drawing a regular paycheck again.

On the upside, four days to California!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mmm. Pie.

Katherine came over this afternoon to poke around in the garden, and she and Kayleigh harvested enough blackberries for a pie.

Which they are now making.

Mmm. Pie.

Wonder Weekend

Holy crap, I'm exhausted.

Friday night, Raechelle and I hosted the football game at my place (good win, guys!). Ron, Dan & Trish came out and we had pizza and beer/wine. Kayleigh and her fanbear partook of the spectacle while Tyler hung out at Uncle Gavin's. After the ballgame, I showed Near Dark, which has been a cult film staple since college. Everybody was kinda "meh" about it for all the reasons I like it - it presents a unique (and uniquely American) take on the vampire movie without ever saying the V-word. We've promised to show Trish The Lost Boys next. Made in the same year, yet a very different vampire film (and shot in Santa Cruz, where we will be hanging out in less than a week).

Saturday, as Raechelle mentioned in her weekend wrap-up, we went to IKEA and were in and out like a surgical strike team made up of greased ninja. Then it was organization to the extreme, which meant Kayleigh's bedroom and my office. And organizing my office meant sorting a lot of papers. A lot of documents. Official documents. Like Sam's death certificates. And Raechelle had the patience of a saint, helping stack the various piles and being quick with a hug when needed.

We went to dinner at Spiro's, then headed over to Crazy For You. First summer show by Twelfth Night I've had absolutely nothing to do with (not even poster, program and/or video) since Bye Bye Birdie. While Raechelle reports only the Twelfth Night gals shouting my name and running up to hug me, what she fails to mention is the sheer number of burly guys doing the same. Guys like Raff, Mark Wissing and Travis Pavey (not so burly, but man can he French kiss... wha-??).

And how is my crowd (formerly Sam's crowd) accepting Todd's New Woman?

My observation was that people were either very outgoing and engaging, or very nonchalant (so as not to make a big deal about it), but nobody has displayed Bitter Beer Face or given any indication of dislike in any way - quite the reverse. They all want to see me happy, and if Raechelle makes me happy, then they LOVE her. Simple, really.

Plus, I found out that the aforementioned Mark Wissing is cooking down at the Swell now, so we will be having lunch there more often. And of course, Travis tends bar at the Corner Pocket - and since Raechelle is no longer going to the Lock-n-Keel, I feel obligated to take her to a happy place where we can play some pool and where I've known the bartender since he was Tyler's age.

We got home and it was straight to bed. Sunday morning was a quick home tour of a place near the Junction with some great views and a lot of great character. For the first time in the process, both Raechelle and I could see ourselves living happily there. It's still early on, and I told our agent that I want to look at more homes like this before making any decisions, but that I was interested enough to bring the kids back for a look.

We got home and had some breakfast. Raechelle and Kayleigh went to take Tyler over to Gavin's to hang out while we continued cleaning. After four hours of looking at the fire-damaged family photos featuring Sam or the kids when they were younger, and the copy of our first mortgage on the house, and a bunch of joint account information, I ran across a newspaper insert that said in big letters "Give Grandma What She Wants!" and I was done. You never know what triggers are going to finally ignite the bullet. The physical sorting is really a great metaphor for the sorting I'm doing emotionally (and I'm doing great!), but sometimes you just have to take a break.

By that time I'd really not eaten much, and 6'4" + not eating + sitting on the floor for long periods + standing up quickly = dizzy. So Raechelle offered to take us to Mexican food for dinner. We piled in Sportacus and headed down to the Guadalajara cafe down by Fauntleroy, then came home (with a brief stop at Target) and watched Blazing Saddles, which Raechelle had never seen. I'm doing a good job getting her all caught up.

And she spent her third night in a row here. I gotta say, it keeps getting easier and feels more natural all the time. And Kayleigh has been bonding with her like crazy. While she was in the shower getting ready for work, I walked down to Westwood and grabbed some coffee. Unfortunately mine took a header in my front yard, so I only got about 1/3 of my latte. Crap.

If and when we do move, I will miss walking a block to almost everything I need. But as I said back at the start of this new blog, it's time for new.

And now we start the countdown to California.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pre-Season Begins!

Blogger has a scheduled outage coming up this afternoon, so I need to get this up real quick...

Yeah, I know it's not the first game of the pre-season, but it's the first pre-season game for our Seattle lads. Like many kids growing up in the Bay Area in the '70s, I was raised on the Raiders and 49ers, and went to my share of games at the Oakland Colosseum and Candlestick Park, followed the winning record of the mid-'70s/early-'80s Raiders, and then continued on with the golden age of Joe Montana's 49ers. I even went out for High School football at Aptos, and briefly became a Li'l Vike mascot for the Palo Alto Vikings.

Then I moved to Seattle, home of the Seahawks, longtime rival of the Raiders. Or as "longtime" as the relatively new Seahawks actually went back (which is, I believe, 1974). I felt like a double agent. It was years before I felt comfortable enough to truly cheer the home team. But a couple things made it easier: 1) the Raiders became a shadow of their former selves; 2) Raiders fans (who I'll grant you have always had a "boisterous" reputation) became out and out hooligans.

And about 10 years ago, I finally got comfortable and avid enough as a Washingtonian and Seattleite to root for the Seahawks with a clear conscience. About 4 years ago when we still had Grant Wistrom, he and his foundation worked with Gilda's Club, and we would often get tickets to Hawks games at Qwest Field. The Hawks are generally engaged with the community and many of the players and staff are involved in a multitude of charities. And in 2005, they proved to be not only the best team in the NFL, but much better sportsmen than the team that was handed the Superbowl.

So while my particular wheelhouse of geekery is not the brand of fanatic who memorizes stats and plays fantasy football, I am a Roman spectator at heart. I love myself a good bloodsport, and American football is among the most violent recreational war simulations still played. It's good, wholesome, uniquely American violence, and I can't say I don't get a visceral thrill from watching. Just like those few NASCAR fans who aren't in denial and admit the reason they watch is for the crashes.

And now, I'm dating a woman who is probably more fanatical than I ever was about football in my teens and twenties. Which is really mind boggling, because Sam was also a pretty avid football fan (49ers all the way), and that's relatively uncommon. How cool is that??

So, with the Hawks about to face off against the Vikes (sorry, Mike Berg, I love ya, but I gotta support my boys), I have my screening room set up to watch the game in 80-inch wide glory, food ready to go, pizza on order, friends jumping in to cheer with us. I have my Hasselbeck jersey and Kayleigh is already in hers (plus, her new Build-a-Bear is wearing a Hawks sweatshirt and will apparently be watching with us). Even the weather was a bit overcast and cooler today - almost a bit autumn-ish.

Time to go finish cleaning up.

Go Hawks!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Crazy For You

Just wanted to give a shout out to my homeys in Twelfth Night Productions, who are opening Crazy For You tonight. It runs for two weeks. If you're in the area, check it out!

West Seattle Blog write-up

Why Being an Artist Rules

Because you can have friggin' brilliant ideas like this. Read the whole exchange between gizmodo and Lucas-in-carbonite. Fans who grew up with the classic Star Wars trilogy are laughing their asses off like a lightsaber through tauntaun spleen.

Why Being an Artist Sucks

Reason #2,457 (you know, after all the ones about not being able to make a living and the public perception of not having a "real" vocation): The Muse.

That bitch. After a great OA series development session with Dan & Trish, I felt like a Whedonesque writing god. The Muse was whispering ideas in my ear and massaging an ego which had been somewhat battered recently. I should have seen it coming - the insomnia that comes with any great artistic stride.

At 2:30AM I finally calmed down enough to let myself fall asleep.

This is a perfect example of what the artistic temperament is like. It's really a case of mild bipolar disorder. The waves of high energy and achievement I surf like a Hawaiian tiki god on a longboard, full of confidence and hubris and a sense of "anything is possible". Then the low energy period when I go quiet and internal - the angst that fuels the need to paddle back out into the surf.

Meh. It's not so bad. I've surfed these waves of creativity all my life, as long as I can remember (and I can go back to 2 years old). At least I'm not hacking off my own body parts and sending them to my girlfriend, unlike SOME people.

Speaking of girlfriends, reason #346 why I love mine:

As I've mentioned previously, there's a person from the painful part of Raechelle's past (which she has alluded to in general terms on her own blog) who continues to monitor both her blog and mine. It's not like he's stalking her physically - he's just quietly lurking, the virtual equivalent of the creepy guy in the bushes peering in the window (whereas the majority of our readers are more like invited houseguests).

Maybe it was the shared wine or the creative high I was on from the production meeting, but for some reason when I logged onto Sitemeter and saw his IP and the referral from Rae's blog, I let myself get pissed. I know I shouldn't - that's a really ugly, jealous aspect of my psyche I'd just as soon keep locked away. But that stuff triggers my alpha male protection instinct, as I don't like the thought of anyone hurting my woman like he did.

So I called her, and she talked me down. We agreed that any energy directed at this guy would be better used in loving each other and creating a wonderful future together. Our best revenge is in our own happiness. And some people are just not worth the bother.

And speaking of happiness, we have seven (count 'em) SEVEN houses to tour tonight. I've had at least a little time with my girl every day this week, and it's been fantastic. And this weekend is slated to be chock full of activity. Starting next weekend, we're in Cali.

* * *

Wow. I just heard a guy on the building construction kitty corner to us get injured. We get all sorts of entertainment out here. Hope he's okay. He's sure vocal about it, which is probably a good sign.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stray Bullets

  • Met Raechelle's sister Wendy last night. Due to some crossed wires on the proposed time and a cell phone left in a car, Kayleigh and I ended up going to The Swell first for happy hour appetizers because by that point we were hungry. And when TD is hungry and blood sugar is low, peasants beware the full fury of the dragon.
  • So with the edge off my hunger and a pint of Manny's in me, I was in a much better mood when Raechelle and Wendy arrived. Wendy & I got along just fine, being a couple of freckled, redheaded Celts with similar opinions on alcohol, sports and sailing. And she and her husband used to live aboard a sailboat at Shilshole Marina briefly at the same dock as Volant! Curiouser and curiouser.
  • Booked our trip to California. Now I just need to arrange for the housesitting.
  • Today, I did the week's grocery shopping. Picked up some fresh sushi and took it to Raechelle's office for some lunch in the park (after adorning the whiteboard in her office with some dark clouds and lightning to compliment the drawing of "Raechelle's Mood Is:"). Sun, sushi and a hot chick by my side. Life is good.
  • Have to replace our land line telephone. It is totally McFuggered. The cordless handset has been dropped so many times the battery cover is gone and the battery pack hangs out the back, and both the cordless and the corded desk handset deliver nothing but static.
  • First OA series production meeting in a long while tonight. I'm looking forward to getting re-inspired. And I've written a few more scenes in the pilot script. It's coming together pretty well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tattoo Time

Since it's been a few years since I actually got the ink, and because Heather brought it up, I thought I'd share again.

I got a winged heart design on my right calf. It's not fancy with a lot of detail, because it was taken from a drawing Samantha made in my 1985 yearbook. She dedicated a whole page to me (and wrote some pretty lovely things - all of which were destroyed with the yearbook in the fire), signing it at the bottom with her icon: the heart taking flight. It's an icon I will always associate with her, and it seemed a good candidate for a tattoo to mark the end of that life.

The original artwork from my high school yearbook...

The finished ink (taken at an awkward angle by my crappy phone cam).

Please Don't Burn the House Down Again

One thing I neglected to mention is that on Saturday when we got back from Bellingham, we found an empty pot sitting on a stove burner set on high, and my 14yo son asleep in his room. He'd started to boil water for pasta, and apparently been distracted by the Sandman, leaving the water to boil off and the pot to roast on the hot burner for over two hours.

When confronted, his first response was to deny having done it, however faced with the fact that he was the only one in the house, he took responsibility and I banned him from any and all stove/oven/range use for a week.

So here we are Tuesday morning. I heard Tyler up and about (most likely having stayed up all night), and went into his room to remind him about our counseling appointment. Then I went upstairs to the kitchen to find... (wait for it)

A pot full of boiling pasta. Completely unattended.

Now, call me paranoid, but I'm just a tad obsessive about fire hazards and situations that could possibly, you know, burn the house down... AGAIN. I could have railed and stormed about, cursing my son's name and making my blood pressure spike. But I didn't. I'm actually pretty proud of myself. I didn't get angry, I didn't raise my voice, I didn't set a bad example by throwing a tantrum. I simply informed him that his punishment was doubled, then made sure he finished his cooking, turned everything off and cleaned up.

We've been having a continuous debate ranging all over the place ever since. He's a fighter, that kid. A master of absolutism and deflection and projection and hyperbole (where he gets that I couldn't tell you). He's also quite adept at standing in a hole of his own making and continuing to dig deeper. And what frosts his shorts most of all is when I'm calm and don't let him get a rise out of me. His kung fu is good, but mine is better.

I believe we have a counseling session today. Not a moment too soon.

Honestly, I love my kids, and that's why I care enough to stand up and challenge the frustrating slob-monster called Adolescence. The battles I choose now are going to be what makes the difference later. I know, because I was 14 once - incoherent, hormonal, dramatic and self-centered. But I was a good kid at the core, and had people around who knew it, and who kept me honest. And that's what I'm doing for my kids.

It's just a bit "grrrrrrrr" sometimes.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Wrap-Up

Friday night found us hunting down the motel where Kenni and Joel were staying, and showing them down to Anthony's on the waterfront. Real nice couple, fun conversation, good food. Raechelle had planned on paying for dinner, but Joel got sneaky and intercepted the check before she could even look at it. Well played, Joel.

By far the highlight of the dinner experience was when I got up to visit the men's room, and not for the simple pleasure of giving back the Pike ale I'd had with my meal. As I was standing at the urinal shaking the dew from the lilly, seeing a man about a horse, or whatever euphemism you'd care to use (and also watching the sports scores - sometimes it's cool to be a guy because in some restaurants you can watch TV while having a tinky), I heard the door open and a brief gasp of shock from over my left shoulder. The janitor who was mopping looked up and notified the non-male interloper, "this is the men's room." There was a pause as the info apparently sunk in, and I heard a familiar voice say in an embarrassed tone, "Oh, men's room!" followed by a nervous laugh and a quick exit. The following conversation then transpired:

Me: "Was that a 5'2" brunette?"

Janitor: "Jean jacket?"

Me: "Yeah."

Janitor: "She with you?"

Me: "Yeah."

Janitor: "That's awesome."

Me: "Yeah." [smile]

Later I found out that Raechelle had remarked (in the correct lavatory) that "the guy at the urinal was cute...", which is hilarious (and ever so sweet) because she didn't really realize it was me until much later.

We dropped Kenni and Joel back at the motel and headed home and straight to Cuddle City, population: 2. It'd been a stressful week and the girl was finally relaxing. Aside from a brief tussle with dinner in the middle of the night, she did okay, and we awoke ready to hit the road for Bellingham.

I'll leave it to Rae to post her own impressions of the trip, but for me it was a bit of a sensory overload. We met my mom, sister and niece at the Bellingham farmer's market, where I bought a sweet hemp long-sleeved T-shirt (or light sweatshirt), which not only looks awesome but apparently I can smoke it later.

Lunch at Boundary Bay, then my sister went to work and the ladies and I went to a women's consignment store. Imagine Raechelle's surprise when, within thirty seconds of entering the shop, I recognized the young, attractive counter clerk. Brittni Thoreson was in our production of Fiddler on the Roof back in 2005, and her dad Mike was the mastermind behind my Deathtrap set (as well as a fantastic Tevye in FotR). Still, it remains a running joke that I can't go anywhere without running into someone I know, especially cute actresses.

As far as being a guy and going shopping with my woman, which most guys bristle at, here's a couple nuggets of wisdom:
  1. Guys who have the patience to go shopping with their women are rare. Doing so makes you look really good.
  2. By going shopping with your woman, you can exert an opinion and tell her what you like her wearing, or conversely what looks frumpy. After all, if you look at her probably more than anyone else, why not point her toward something sexy? Ladies do the same for us all the time.
After a quick drop-in at Sara's work, we headed out to my grandparents' place near Lake Padden for pie and a quick visit. There were stories repeated, embarrassing family photos shared, and spontaneous folksinging. That was where the full weight of the day finally settled on me and I felt like we needed to hit the road before I fell into a coma.

Back at home, Raechelle took off for dinner with Jamie, and I took Tyler to his weekly game session at Gavin's followed by dinner for Kayleigh and me at Charlestown. I was asleep by 9:30.

Then I was up at 3AM when some vandals broke into the new multifamily building behind the licensing office and threw a bunch of computer monitors, microwaves and glass bottles from the roof. Sometimes you pay a price for having that prestigious Seattle address.

Up for coffee with Ron, picked up the latest Futurama movie on DVD, found out The Shield season 6 is out in just a few weeks. Came home to find Kayleigh had arranged an overnight with a friend. Went shopping for dinner stuff. Took K to friend's house. Gonna watch some John Adams before I have to get dinner started. Raechelle is here tonight.

And another action-packed week lies ahead! Including getting to meet Rae's sister Wendy on Tuesday, more house hunting on Thursday, and the first Hawks pre-season game in Minnesota on Friday night. We're having it on the projection screen, and some friends may be joining in.

Stay tuned, loyal readers!

P.S. Raechelle says my head doesn't smell like Thin Mints. So there's that.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Girl Scout Cookie Head

As a forty year-old follicly-challenged male, I have tried to do everything within my power to keep my scalp clean and pores unclogged, if only to give what hair I do have a fighting chance for life. In that vein, I have for the past few years used a variety of tea tree oil shampoos and conditioners, as they really keep the ol' noggin clean. And as anyone who's used tea tree shampoo knows, they often use mint as a complimentary ingredient, as it has a cool, bracing effect on the scalp.

So I rotated out my old tea tree shampoo and conditioner a couple days ago, and rotated in a new brand I found. As expected, mint is the complimenting ingredient. Unfortunately, the recipe they've used ends up making my head smell like Thin Mints. You know, the Girl Scout chocolate mint cookies.

All I can think of is Power Chick from The Specials saying, "I'd be YUMMY then..."

There was a study on olfactory response in women that determined that the smell of pumpkin pie was the most likely to turn a woman on. I think the study may have been funded by Sara Lee. We shall see if the Thin Mint scent is a good thing or a bad thing. I'll let Raechelle be the judge. Who knows? It's chocolate, it's mint, she might think it's hawt.