My Wife Is Almost Due

It’s literally a month away. I don’t know what to do. It’s insane. And I don’t really have much to add to that. I’m not a good enough writer to properly articulate all my feelings about bringing a miniature human into the world. I’d love to meet the writer who is. So instead I’ll go on a tangent about something totally unrelated in the hopes that it’ll help people because 1) It’s my blog and I do what I want on here, and 2) I haven’t written in a long time and I feel like my lone New Year’s resolution (writing consistently) is already slipping away. With that said….

Keep plugging away. Whatever your goals are, whatever you’re aspiring to do, just…keep going. Most breakthroughs are a formula of years of hard, mundane work augmented with just a bit of luck. You never know how or when the luck is going to come, so all you can do is control what you can control (the years of hard, mundane work).

You know what brought this subject to mind? Plies. Of all people. I’m normally against listening to his music, since he’s actually an intelligent human being and his music represents a caricature that is harmful to my race for a ton a reasons and he did it for money and blah blah blah. That last sentence was pretty irrelevant to my point. For all intents and purposes, his career was dead in the water. He spent the last few years floundering around, releasing mixtape after mixtape to little response. He released a song called “Ritz Carlton” three months ago. In the video, he raps, “ran off on the plug twice,” and does a little jogging dance (which was already done by Shawty Lo 8 years ago!). Seven million youtube views, countless memes and common professional and collegiate athlete imitations later, he’s back. People are asking about his music again. He even changed the name of the song to “Ran Off On The Plug Twice” to capitalize on his success (very smart on his part). I found myself looking for more of his recent songs, something that I couldn’t imagine doing even six months ago. All of this came from a three second clip of an otherwise inconsequential line from an otherwise inconsequential song.

In my opinion, there’s no way that this sudden resurgence happens without the hours upon hours of making music and writing and finding new sounds and playing with new production. In short, he grinded and plugged away when it might’ve been easier to concede that his time as a popular rapper had passed him by and it was time to find a new line of work. His breakthrough doesn’t happen without the work that he did on his previous songs and mixtapes that didn’t sell nearly as well. And I never imagined writing this without even a fraction of sarcasm, but we can really learn from Plies. You never know. All you can control is the work that you put into your craft, whatever that may be. It could take months or even years to have your breakthrough (or in Plies’ case, his grand reintroduction). I’m sure there were many times where doubt crept into his mind, but it didn’t stop him from making music and refining his craft. He basically put himself in a position to be a lucky break away, and that’s exactly what happened.

I’m pretty sure if someone asked Plies if his previously unsuccessful releases and seemingly fruitless effort was worth this specific moment, he’d say yes without hesitation. We should all work towards that same moment, even if it seems like it’s miles away. Just…keep going. It’s always worth it. Always.

 

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My Wife is an Easy Preggo…For Now

I have a confession to make: I thought the pregnancy process with Rachel would be an absolute nightmare. Thought I would be looking forward to texts of continued morning sickness, wild hormone swings, and general agony for everyone involved. She gets random cravings (she was ready to kill for salmon the other day) and she already has a maternity clothing wardrobe, but other than that, it’s been pretty normal, run of the mill stuff. Maybe she’s too busy impersonating Superwoman to notice. She’s taking an 18 month Master’s program in 12 months while working full-time and carrying a little human inside her while her husband is hundreds of miles away blogging for total strangers. Not exactly ideal, but she’s handling everything about as well as I could have hoped.

Well, the first couple of weeks were pretty rough. We were both in shock that the stars aligned well enough for me to knock her up in the five day window that we had during our honeymoon. Once that feeling subsided, it was quickly replaced by the realization that this could not possibly have be timed any worse. This is just terrible, hilariously bad timing for us to have a child. It totally changed the trajectory of our plans and turned a regular deployment into logistics hell. As of now, we’ll have to take an 8 hour flight to another continent with a poodle and a two month old, not to mention being shells of ourselves by then. We’ve had to worry about the following issues since Rachel got pregnant:

1)       Find out how early we can get our flight plan since we need to book Spencer (our poodle) on the flight.

2)      How do we get the baby on your orders so he/she is included in travel plans?

3)      Will they provide the baby and your wife with a government passport to PCS or do we need to get a civilian one for baby?

4)      What are German car seat regulations and what car seats can we buy that will fit them?

5)      How much is base child care at Ramstein, how long is the wait, and how early can we get on the waiting list?

6)      How long is base housing list and how early can we get on that list?  Can we put on our application that there will be a child living there before the child is actually born?

7)      Complete visa applications for Shawn, Rachel  (and Baby, if necessary).

8)      Do we need European Tax ID numbers if we work on base?  What if I work off base?  Do we still file taxes in California?

I mean…

Ugh.

We’re not the first humans to travel with a newborn in tow, so we’ll figure it out, but gosh, that’s a ton of etceteras that appeared out of nowhere.

Anyway, after a few days of panicking over how the hell we could possibly survive this pregnancy in one piece, we chalked it up to normal fears that most couples have and regained our composure, which is easy to say in hindsight, but we were not trying to hear that at the time. Don’t tell that to people while they’re going through that, even if it’s absolutely true 95% of the time. It’s their damn child. They’re not going to be rational. Just listen and be there for them and let them cry and get their feelings out and probably cry some more.

Yes, it kills me to not be there, even if there are worse things than not getting woken up at 4am to make trips to Safeway. I don’t even know if she would do that to me. Yes she would. I hate her. The first trimester is supposed to be the most difficult, and she’s about 2/3 through it without any hitches, so hopefully it continues that way. I don’t really hate her. She’s the greatest.

Why I Don’t Really Do Twitter Anymore

One day in late March, I scanned my timeline, logged off for an hour, looked at it again, and said, “I don’t wanna do this anymore. It’s old.” I didn’t tweet for the first  week afterwards, but it was difficult for me to do so. The urge waned over time, but the true test lied in whether I can hold off during the NBA playoffs since I’m terribly obsessed with basketball and Twitter is absolutely the best place to talk basketball and live events in general. What was the result? I sent exactly two tweets for the entire playoffs: one congratulating the Clippers on beating San Antonio (shoot me) and congratulating the Warriors on winning the title. Hardly even logged in. So that was that. I was done.

So how did I get to this point? Well, like breaking most addictions (yes, twitter can indeed be an addiction), the process was months in the making. In my tweeting “prime”, my main attraction was that I was really, really mean to strangers. Creatively mean, comedically mean, but mean to strangers nonetheless. I had a great time doing it at first. I was really good at it too. Whether it was a rapper, pro athlete, or random human on twitter, if I had any excuse to be mean to someone, then I just couldn’t resist. In return, people on twitter weren’t very fond of me. Some followed me just to chastise me or use my tweets as an excuse to go on an extended rant and gain followers and retweets and e-kudos and a whole bunch of other things that mattered way too much to me two years ago. But it didn’t bother me. Not yet, anyway.

I think the turning point between “this is fun” and “what the hell am I really doing here” was a tweet I sent to a former friend. We stopped being friends over tweets (I really took this stuff seriously) and after a series of barbs that I ignored over a few months, I finally caved in and tweeted the following: “If I was in the gym shooting free throws and someone told me that ____ died in a car accident, I would just keep shooting free throws.” It hurt her feelings. Really, really badly. I felt guilty enough to send an email apologizing for it. Didn’t matter. She hasn’t spoken to me since.

Being mean to strangers didn’t quite have the same appeal to me after that. I tried toning down being mean to people and changing my subject matter, and I noticed something disturbing. The bulk of the people that I interacted with over those years were overwhelmingly negative, and the further I got away from tweeting like that, the more I noticed that my timeline was completely enveloped in it. Rachel used to comment on the dickheads making fun of an unattractive girl or something similar, and my responses evolved from, “oh babe, they’re just having fun” to “yeah, that’s kinda messed up” to “these miserable fucks need to find something better to do.” And I was one of those miserable fucks for a very long time, whether that was my intention or not.

Besides that, I’ve been the recipient of a twitter avalanche due to something embarrassing. It’s not fun, and it’s certainly not something you should wish upon strangers. Some people like that stuff. They go by the “any press is good press” mantra and relish in strangers saying terrible things to and about them, since it’ll result in their follower count increasing. I am not one of those people. I finally got numb towards people saying bad things about me, but it’s still not something I enjoy seeing, and it got to the point where I was seeing it on a daily basis.

The other reason I don’t really tweet anymore is because I didn’t feel comfortable saying whatever I wanted anymore. I found myself having to soften my tone or rearranging words or eschewing topics altogether because I didn’t “want these yahoos in my mentions again.” And fuck that. Twitter isn’t fun when you have to censor yourself, and between avoiding angry strangers in my mentions and trying not to have Rachel in anyone’s crosshairs over me (because the worst of me comes out when people say bad things about her), I found that I was censoring myself entirely too much. I was basically a shell of my former twitter self, just going through the motions until I either turned over 85% of my timeline or stopped tweeting completely. I chose the latter, and I think I’m better for it. There’s no way I’d be doing well in school or reading as much as I do or even writing this unless I unplugged from the Twitter matrix.

Mind you, twitter isn’t inherently bad. There are plenty of brilliant people on that site who use it to do really positive, groundbreaking things and connect with other likeminded people to improve society 140 characters at a time. My twitter experience would have been totally different had I started off that way. Your timeline is what you make it, and I was unfortunate enough to fill my timeline with garbage. And you know what? It was because I was garbage. I fit right in. I still have my fair share of flaws, but I’m actively trying to improve upon them, and having garbage all around me isn’t conducive to that happening.

I think I’ll come back to twitter eventually. I kept my username (@shawnintheflesh) active for a reason. I’ll spend half a day purging every single negative human from my feed and making sure that no new garbage invades my timeline. Until then, I’ll be here, starting from nothing, trying to get to 100 followers again.

Everyone is entitled to a fresh start. I like this better already.