#PrayForParis

I’ll make this one as short as possible. I have two basic points:

  1. Please don’t use a tragedy like this to try to advance your personal agendas. It’s totally alright to feel terrible for innocent civilians and their families without tying it into your personal and/or political fucking agenda. Just mourn and assist the affected humans, for Christ’s sake. Not everything is supposed to serve as a platform for why your beliefs were right the whole time. Nobody, not anyone on Facebook/Twitter, not anyone in your real life, not anyone actually affected by this tragedy, is trying to hear that bullshit right now. You’re better off writing whatever political hot take you planned on posting on a sheet of paper, eating it, and shitting it out the next day. It would serve a much better purpose that way.
  2. Please do not use this situation and the inevitable fear/sadness/anger that arises to sell things. Nobody cares about your all new #PrayForParis shirts that’ll sell for $25 a pop. It’s literally the least honorable thing a human being can do at this time. I’m sure that it won’t stop anyone, but just know that the world sees you as a blood-sucking opportunist that Earth is better off without. Don’t try to sell us anything, please. It’s a terrible thing to do.

What I’m trying to say is to just be human about this. Real humans paid the ultimate price because of the actions of a few terrible people, and the families of those humans will likely never be the same because of it. That’s all it is. It’s not a political issue. It’s not a immigrant or refugee issue. It’s a human issue. And we should address it as such. Just be human for once, you guys. You’re better than what I’ve been seeing online. Learn sympathy. Learn empathy. And find ways to help those who have been affected by this. None of the extra bullshit matters, and tragedies like this should hammer that point home. Just be humans, for once. Please.

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Halfway Home

Yup. Almost there. Rachel is over the 20 week mark and is showing enough that she can be classified as “pregnant” instead of “ehhh maybe pregnant…or is she just fat?” Personally, I hit the 6 month mark of my assignment last week, which already seems like a lifetime ago. It’s nice here, but I’m about ready to leave. I get to visit California in about six weeks, and it’ll take a lot for me to actually come back.

NBA League Pass has made our lives so much easier that I don’t know what to do. We just hang out after work and watch games “together” now, and it seems like she’s right there, just how it used to be. Hoops have always been our bond. We wouldn’t have met without it. We wouldn’t even have known of each other’s existence without it. It’s our thing, and being able to share it with her in any capacity is the best slice of home that I can have.

…..and that’s pretty much it. Not much new, as far as Rachel and I are concerned.

But we’re totally obsessed with the baby already. We’re naming him Diego. If I was back home, I’d be staying overnight waiting for doctor’s appointments like the new iPhone was coming out. I want to know everything. How fast he’s growing, how he compares to other babies, how long his limbs are…just everything.

We’ve been going back and forth on whether we should push him towards a particular career or to just introduce him to a wide variety of subjects and let him decide for himself. The latter option seems like the more reasonable, humane thing to do, but there has to be a reason that it doesn’t happen very often in practice. It’s probably something about parents caring about the overall well being of their child and wanting him to fit in and not suffer criticism and bullying or whatever. But what’s the point if the kid isn’t happy? Yeah, pushing Diego to be a doctor or an engineer would ensure that he’ll make a lot of money and be seen as important to strangers, but it’s not worth it if he’s miserable. Do you really want to be seen by a doctor that goes through the motions because he’s really into art or sports but it wasn’t deemed as an “honorable” profession by his parents? Probably not. So fuck that. It might be something that I won’t fully understand until the baby is here and I won’t want anything bad to ever happen to him. And that’s fine. But from where I stand (or lay in bed) now, I’ll just let the boy choose. If that means that I end up with a 6’8, 220 lb. art historian, then so be it. I’ll clown him, but so be it.

But God, am I so excited about this mini-me that kicks my wife’s uterus for fun. I wonder if he has thoughts besides “feed me, feed me, feed me” already. I heard that babies develop taste palates in the womb. What if he only eats organic, gluten-free, hand picked and squashed baby food or whatever? That would suck. I’m sure that stuff is expensive. I especially wonder how smart he’s gonna be. What if he ends up being a genius (possible, since Rachel is one) and he’s outsmarting me logically by age 6 or something? That would suck too, but at least I can still beat him up. I can’t wait to see Rachel so I can feel the baby kick and move around and just exist in general. I’m so happy that he exists. And Rachel is cool too for carrying him around.

November 17th, 2008

I had enough, man. Houston didn’t work out. I gave it my best shot, but after 2+ years, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I worked three jobs at the time: 25-30 hours/week at Jack in the Box, 25 hours/week at the Shell gas station across the street, and 10 hours/week moonlighting as a personal trainer at a small gym. I still couldn’t afford a car, and I had no time or energy to go to school or to even work out at the gym that employed me. I specifically remember daydreaming about a time where I’d be able to make $500/week after taxes, and how I thought that I’d literally have to work myself to death or sell drugs (I was never gonna sell drugs) to get there.

I think the worst part mentally was going to downtown Houston and seeing all of those really nice cars and well dressed people and walking through that majestic Galleria mall and window shopping for clothes I had no chance to afford and gorgeous women that I had no chance to attract. Some people see those kinds of things, being surrounded by seemingly unattainable luxury, as motivation (reminiscent of a young, hungry Scarface), but that scene only helped to emphasize the gulf between my situation and theirs. It didn’t help.

All of my original friends from Sumter were long gone at this point, with the most recent fallout bordering on comical. I had let him and his girlfriend stay in my apartment until they were able to save for a place of their own, and the results were disastrous from the beginning. I eventually kicked them out, but not before they created a $550 light bill that led to a bounced rent check, which somehow led to a bounced light bill check, which led to no lights and a 30-day notice.

For six weeks (three paychecks), my routine was working my ungodly schedule, cashing my paychecks, converting said paychecks into money orders, then giving those paychecks to my apartment complex. How did I eat? By stealing food from Jack in the Box nightly. How did I wash? The apartment complex’s pool and some deodorant. How did I sleep or really exist in general without lights or AC in the middle of a Houstonian summer (this happened in July/August)? A modern miracle. I still don’t know. Then my girlfriend left me after she figured that the weed dealer around the corner was a bit more appealing than hanging out in a dark apartment that could double as a furnace, and my life resembled more of a bad country song than a simple case of growing pains.

One day in August, after quitting my job at Jack in the Box, I tried looking for a job as a mail clerk. The older guy who received my application didn’t have a job opening for me, but he did have a message. “You seem way too smart to do whatever bullshit you’re trying to do. Join the military and get yourself outta here. I don’t wanna see you in here again.”

The military was literally the last thing I wanted to join. I thought of military people as unrepentant killers with overcompensation complexes. I didn’t want to march. I didn’t want to follow orders. I definitely didn’t want to hurt strangers. But I didn’t want to starve to death either. Poverty definitely has a way of bending your morals, and they bent mine to the point of showing up at an Air Force recruitment office the next day.

The paperwork and testing process went smoothly until the time came to pick from the available jobs. I opted for an “open mechanic” job, despite never using a tool before, under the premise that it would get me out of my situation quickly and that they’ll teach me everything I needed to know anyway. My recruiter assured me that I would be off to basic training by September, so I terminated the lease on my apartment. Three days after terminating my lease, my recruiter informed me that I wouldn’t be able to go until mid-November.

After 10 weeks of couch (and car) surfing, the day finally arrived. I packed up my worldly possessions (which consisted of one suitcase) and boarded a bus that took us from Houston to San Antonio, which is three hours away. To this day, I don’t know whether it was my own nervous energy, discomfort from the energy of others, or general happiness, but I laughed and joked for those entire three hours. Loudly. You would’ve thought that we were on our way to an amusement park instead of 8 of the most difficult weeks that most people endure. And to me, it was an amusement park. I’d get to eat regularly and not sleep outside, so how hard could it be?

The bus finally arrived at Lackland AFB, and that’s when my, and everyone else’s, laughter subsided. Reality had set in. What had I gotten myself into? The bus, now dead silent, came to a stop at an old brick building. The bus driver made a call on her cell phone. Three minutes later, this massive, angry guy with a weird hat stomped onto the bus…

“I HEARD THAT SOME OF YOU THINK THIS IS SOME TYPE OF GAME! WHO’S THE FUCKING COMEDIAN???? POINT HIM OUT RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!”

Oh great, I’m getting kicked out of the military after 15 whole seconds. This has to be some kind of record.

“POINT HIM OUT, OR YOU’LL ALL HAVE TO PAY!!! WHY IS EVERYONE SO QUIET NOW???? HUH??? MATTER OF FACT, EVERYONE JUST GET OFF THE FUCKING BUS RIGHT NOW!!!”

Well, at least nobody gave me up. I’m safe, at least as “safe” could be with this massive human out for blood, for now.

We quickly lined up facing the door of the brick building that would mark the start of my military career. I was second in line. My absolute worst fear was to get picked for holding the door to let everyone inside. I literally prayed for this specific thing not to happen. Another lady with a weird hat opened the door.

“Everyone get inside as quickly as you can!”

“And you…hold the fucking door!”

Ohhhhhhhh God. This isn’t good. This will end badly. The only thing on my mind at the time was not laughing. Please do not laugh. They may kill me with my bare hands if I laugh. I’ll have the rest of my life to laugh. Just don’t do it now. I’m better off crying or pissing myself than laughing at this very moment.

As the rest of the busload hurried through the door, I tried sneaking right behind the last person, to no avail. The really angry lady with the weird hat stopped me in my tracks…

“Oh you really think this is some kind of game, don’t you? Lock it up!!! Do you even know who you’re fucking with?”

“……hahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…ah shit I’m so sorry dammit hahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahah awwwww fuck hahahhahahahha…”

Yeah. That did it. She pulled me by my shirt sleeve through the door and had me stand off to the side while the rest of the bus processed through, doing God knows what. She dragged two really heavy pieces of luggage towards my direction…

“Look at me. You’re going to hold this luggage at attention until I get tired from watching you do it. If you say a word, if you drop the luggage, if I see you even blink or breathe too hard, I’m sending you back to wherever the fuck you came from.”

I was off to a great start….