Lordy, Lordy – Thoughts on turning 40

As I have said before, I am not generally one to get stuck on milestone birthdays. I have always been fortunate enough and that makes me feel pretty good about birthdays (or maybe it’s just because I lost my hair so very, very long ago, so I’ve had no choice but to get over it). This year, for starters, I have a wonderful, healthy family, a nice house, a good job (with a surprise promotion just yesterday!), and I’m the healthiest physically I’ve been probably since high school. So I don’t exactly look back on my 30s with a lot of regrets.

All that being said, there is something about the big 4-0, and I have found myself dwelling on it a lot more than I thought I would as it approached. Not specifically the birthday itself, but just getting older in general. It seems like in the past 6 months or so, I have felt a million new aches and pains. Maybe just because it has been on my mind, I don’t know.

But it really does feel like, for the first time, I’m starting to feel “old”.

For whatever reason, when I think of “parents” or “the previous generation” I always imagine the people who would sit in the stands at like middle and high school sporting events. I don’t know why, but in any case, I can’t help but acknowledge that that’s me now, you know? (Side note: we had kids relatively young, and thank god! Parenting is so exhausting, that I seriously cannot imagine doing it any older. How could I accomplish this with any less energy?!)

I suppose the cliche is to say I feel younger than I am, and that is both true and not true. I just went over all the reasons it’s not true, but I think it’s also fair to say that I still spend time making memes and reading comic books and playing dungeons and dragons and I fall asleep nearly every night thinking about programing robots to fight other robots, which….I don’t know exactly what a 40 year old is supposed to be doing, but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was that stuff.

Even with all that, there is something about the number 40, though. Yesterday, if I were talking to someone who was, let’s say 24, I would have (optimistically) thought, “Well, they’re in their 20s and I’m in my 30s, so we’re not SO different in age!” But suddenly today I have to instead think, “They’re in their 20s and I’m in my 40s. That’s a 20 year difference!”

That is a lot of aging to experience all at once.

So, you know, here I am. Middle aged. Bald, with a kid in middle school, but also probably living a better life than I had imagined I would. Struggling sometimes with parenting, but also super fulfilled by my career and hobbies, and learning new things every day. Wishing I had more time, but also happy with the way I spend my time and money.

Now just wait until I hit 50…

 

The Case of the @#$%^& Stove

Since we moved into this house, two burners on the stove have been kind of problematic. One of them won’t spark, which means it works fine…as long as you light it with a lighter. The other one sparks continuously, which means it works fine…as long as you don’t mind a constant, crazy-making *tick tick tick tick* the entire time you’re using it.

For me, these things are mostly an annoyance, but I have taken a couple of runs at them over the years and been unable to solve them after varying amounts of work. However, they drive Sara kind of crazy.

So “getting someone to fix the stove” has been in the back of my mind as a backup Christmas gift for years, but I’ve never actually arranged it. Then, a couple of months ago, I got a message from Sara’s friend Jackie:

“For an early Christmas present for Sara, please hire someone to fix the stove burners before Christmas.”

Now, I was a bit suspicious of this, because why would this person even know about the stove burners, much less decide to send me this message out of nowhere? SUPPOSEDLY, Sara had mentioned how badly she wanted them fixed when she visited back in April, and Jackie had CREATED A CALENDAR APPOINTMENT to remind herself to tell me!! I wasn’t 100% sure whether Sara had just texted Jackie and said, “Tell Shane to fix the stove”, or whether Jackie really had the foresight to hear this, note it down, and follow up 6 months later (knowing Jackie, this was totally in the realm of possibility), but either way, seemed like I should just go ahead and get the stove fixed.

On the day of, I took the kids to school as normal and didn’t mention it to anyone, with my plan to sneak back home after without anybody knowing and wait for the repairman. I thought ahead enough to turn off the security cameras, but I realized the smart garage door would notify to Sara’s phone. “Oh well,” I thought, “she’ll probably never notice, and even if she does, that thing glitches all the time.” Except LITERALLY THE SECOND THE GARAGE DOOR OPENED Sara texted me, “The garage door just opened.”

“Huh, that’s weird,” I texted back, “Oh well, looks like it’s closed now…” All day long she kept texting me things like, “Oh, make sure you bring that package home from work,” and I’d say something non-committal like, “Oh, you know, I’ll bring it home someday this week!” To which she’d reply something like, “No, you need to bring it home today.” At some point I thought to myself, “CLEARLY she knows that I’m not at work and this is some kind of TEST to see how far I’ll go before I break and admit it AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Proving that I should never ever try to get away with anything, because I am not equipped to handle it, and am the worst, weirdest liar on the planet.

No problem, I thought, I only need to make it through the day. By the time she comes home tonight, this will all be fixed up and I can explain what happened and we can all have a laugh! Oh we will laugh and laugh!

Finally the repairman arrived and I explained the situation with the burners, what I had tried so far, and finally saying that I think the sparker things needed to be replaced on both burners. “Did you clean them?” he asked.

Now, I understand that this is the appliance repairman version of, “Did you try turning it off and turning it back on?” which means, not only are they required to ask, but they are also required to not believe me when I say, “Yes. Multiple times.” So he proceeds to get out his wire brushes and clean them again. For about 30 minutes. After which he stands back, wipes his brow, and goes, “Man, they’re still not working.”
“Yeah, I already tried that. So, um, anyways, as I said, I think that the sparker things need to be replaced on both burners…”
“Wow,” he said, shaking his head incredulously. “You’d have to take the whole thing apart to do that.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s…that’s why I wanted to hire someone to do it.”
“Well, I don’t have time to do that today. You’ll have to call and make another appointment.”

NOT TO BE DETERRED, I spent some time looking at it after he left, and I quickly realized the reason the constantly sparking burner was constantly sparking was because there was a gas flow problem (and a poor burner design problem) that was causing the flame not to light in the little area next to the sparker. So, simply by adjusting a little screw, I could let a little more gas in and, voila! Flame stays lit, clicky clicky goes away.

THANKS FOR NOTHING APPLIANCE REPAIR PROFESSIONAL!

However, that didn’t change the fact that the other burner still didn’t spark, and replacing the sparky thing would require taking the whole thing apart, something which I had already explicitly decided I didn’t want to do myself, but I certainly wasn’t going to hire THAT company again.

So, one day when I was home with the kids, I dove back in, committed to finally getting to the bottom of this. If that guy could call himself an appliance repair professional (not sure he actually calls himself an ‘appliance repair professional’), surely I could do as well as he could.

And when I say the whole thing had to be taken apart, I mean THE. WHOLE. THING. Front, sides, back, a part on the bottom for some reason???

So after about 3 hours, I ran into a little problem in that, in order to complete the final step and disconnect the burners from the top, I was going to need to buy a tool that I didn’t have. As I kind of sat there in despair, I happened to notice that inside the front panel, on the burner that wasn’t working, there was some sort of little switchy thing that was cracked. Sure enough, I swapped it for the one of the other ones that was functional and it worked! Which was great, because, 1) hooray! I knew what the problem was and how to fix it, and it didn’t require leaving the stove lying in pieces all over the kitchen! And, 2) the three hours of work I had spent disassembling the stove was all for naught! And that kind of troubleshooting is they kind of expertise that you might get by HIRING AN APPLIANCE. REPAIR. PROFESSIONAL.

That’s not to say we didn’t have our fun when we were taking the stove apart. Like the time when Ollie came running over and accidentally kicked a pile of screws under the stove. Would have hated to miss out on that part!

Okay, but, don’t get distracted by the little things, I knew what I need to do. A quick trip to Ace Hardware followed by a longer, more frustrating trip to the appliance parts store, followed by a quick trip to Amazon.com and soon our replacement part (a microwave door switch? Why a microwave door switch??) was winging its way to us across untold miles. And when it got to us, just days before Christmas, it was just a simple five forty-five minute job to get it replaced and fully functional again!

And that is the story of the most effort for the least impact of any Christmas present I ever got for anybody, but I didn’t murder or yell at anybody, not even that time Ollie kicked the screws under the stove, which is a goll dang Christmas miracle.

~fin~

I cry all the damn time

I was reading an article recently about toxic masculinity, and I was thinking about how it does us, as men, no good to pretend like we don’t cry, and probably quite a bit of harm. As I have already cried multiple times this morning for various reasons, I would like to go publically, on the record, and say I cry all the damn time.

I just cried watching a video of Drew Brees throwing his 540th touchdown pass.

Over the weekend I cried when the graduating seniors danced their final Nutcracker performance, and I don’t even have a graduating senior.

I cried the first TWO times I saw Hamilton.

I cry in movies when I see daughters achieving their dreams.

I cry when I think about things that will be hard on the kids when they get older.

I cry when I see school shootings on the news.

I literally got a tear when I typed that previous line, because holy crap.

This morning I got choked up during the Lobby sing when we were singing Jingle Bells and pretended like I was coughing and I don’t even know why, other than the fact that childhood is fleeting?

ALL.

THE DAMN.

TIME.

And I think, for my sons’ sake, it’s time to stop pretending like I don’t, or trying to cover it up when it happens like it’s something to be ashamed of.

In which I win the lottery

By which I mean the Hamilton lottery, of course. The only one that counts!

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The musical has a lottery system by which you enter for a chance to win Hamilton tickets for a “Hamilton” (Hamilton is on the $10 bill). I have dutifully entered this lottery for every performance for about THREE YEARS. You can imagine my surprise when I actually won!

Not only are the tickets super cheap, but they are very good tickets. I vaguely knew they were very good, but I didn’t realize they were FRONT ROW good until we got there!

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Now, I know what you’re saying: haven’t you seen Hamilton before? Yes. *ahem* Three times before. BUT I ASK YOU, who would appreciate these seats more than me?

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Okay, maybe one person, but I brought her with me!

Being this close was a TOTALLY different experience seeing the show, and really just unlike anything I have ever experienced. The seats are not good for actually seeing the show in the sense that you are almost too close. Anything that happens near the back of the stage is not visible. (Although it was really funny when they were on the rotate-y stage thing because you couldn’t see it and it seemed like they were just floating along by magic!)

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Given that I’ve seen the show a number of times before and know the story and music forwards and back (and can probably “see” it with my eyes closed at this point), that wasn’t really a problem for me personally. And it was vastly, vastly outweighed by the awesomeness of how close people were when they came to the front of the stage. Aaron Burr in particular comes out to the very front often, and when he did, he was an arm’s length from me, at most.

I mean, I was so close I could have reached over and played the piano!

Because I was in the first row, I totally forgot there was anybody else in the theater. It was so intimate, like they were playing just for me. The lights were in my eyes, the bass was in my chest, and I totally forgot there was like 1000 of my closest friends sitting behind me; it was like they didn’t exist.

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Oh hai there, where did you come from?

The thing is, there are so many things you notice when you’re that close. The acting is so much more pronounced when you can see their faces! And there are these moments with the crowd: sometimes they would lock eyes with someone and just give them a look. For example, there was one part where one of the dancers came up from the orchestra pit, and he kind of startled the woman sitting just to my right. After that he kept like winking at her and stuff. It was great! But you totally wouldn’t have even known that was happening if you were even a few rows back.

There are a million little things you can’t see unless you’re that close: little, hilarious quirked eyebrows, or expressions of grief, or tons and tons of sweat and spit. Seriously. We didn’t get spit on, but people on either side of us did.

Okay, but that got me thinking about what consummate professionals these people are. This is just a random Wednesday night, and each and every one of them is giving it their all, selling it with emotion, sweating it out, singing so hard their faces are turning red. FOR THE SECOND TIME THAT DAY! Just absolutely bringing it, nonstop (you see what I did there?)

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LOOK AT HOW MANY COMPLICATED LIGHTS ARE UP THERE!

Another funny thing about being so close is you really just focus on the most random things. Like there is a person dancing two feet in front of you so you’re just staring at them, unable to look away. And then all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh, there is singing on the other side of the stage, what am I doing?!”

Anyway, the whole experience was utterly magical, and easily one of the best nights of my life. When it was over I was extremely reluctant to leave and just kind of lingered by the stage, hoping to prolong the magic. I’ve probably never been that close to ANY musical act, but to have it be the greatest musical of all time…

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Thank you Hamilton lottery for giving us a night we will never forget!!

Hard hitting, investigative journalism

As some of you may recall, we have been feuding with Whole Foods over their multi-grain crust pizza for several years.

So imagine my surprise when I open up the school newspaper and find that, after dipping her toes in with a few puff pieces, an intrepid reporter had made her first foray into the world of investigative journalism. There it is, in black and white: an exposé!

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I, for one, am glad that a journal of the HIGHEST INTEGRITY has finally decided to shine the HARSH LIGHT OF TRUTH on one of the great stories of our day, and I applaud this reporter, whoever she is, for having the gumption to stick up for the little guy!

(Seriously, this daughter of mine. Sometimes I just don’t even know what to do with this girl…)

In Regards to 2018

Because my birthday comes right at the top of the year, it is often a good time to look back on the previous year and reflect. Usually when I write up my birthday / reflection post, I look back at the previous year’s post to see how far I’ve come, but I forgot to do that this year.

I went back and took at look at it now, and…yowza! I guess I was already starting to forget how stressful 2017 was. I said in last year’s post:

At the very least I’m hoping for a calm, uneventful 2018, after which we will look back on 2017 and see it for the aberration it was.

So I guess the good news is that 2018 wasn’t NEARLY as stressful as 2017. Not to say it was all rainbows and unicorns….there was THE GREAT FROZEN PIPES incident of 2018 and that time I got shot, but luckily those were the exceptions, not the rule.

I am physically the healthiest I’ve been in decades, and I am mentally light years ahead of where I was in January of 2018. There are still some big things with the house on the radar, and of course you never know when calamity can strike, but

My 30s: One Last Time

I should probably save some of this angst for next year’s birthday post, but as I enter the last year of my 30s I do find myself reflecting on the impending big 4-0.

I have never been one to put much stock in the “milestone” birthdays, but as I am turning 39 it occurs to me that maybe that’s only because I haven’t really hit any big ones yet! 30 didn’t seem like a big deal because I *felt* like a 30 year old. I owned a house and had a second kid on the way. But I don’t know that I’m ready to be a 40 year old, and I’m suspecting to feel the same about every milestone birthday from now on.

BUT, I am going to see Hamilton (again) tonight (for the 3rd time), so it seems appropriate to say to my 30s:

One last time
Let’s take a break tonight
And then we’ll teach them how to say goodbye
to say goodbye
You and I

One last time, 30s. Let’s make this a good year, shall we?