Saturday, May 23, 2015

My 5th Prom

Last night I went to Prom for the fifth time. Before you assume I'm a creep, understand that my wife is a teacher ends up as a chaperone. Also, this year a bunch or seniors that she's taught for a few years are graduating. It was important to her to give them a proper sendoff, and so, I got dragged along again.

Before I talk about prom, I have to mention that my son is being a huge dick today. He got to spend time with his Aunt Rachel, Grandma Carole, and Aunt Bekah and Uncle Jonboy. It was a long day for everyone, and so now he's wearing his 'Cranky Pants', as I refer to them.

My first prom was my senior year of high school. I wasn't dating anyone at the time so I went with a good friend. She was a year younger than I. Amusingly, when I went back to HS to see a play the next year, I'd dated almost the entire female cast.

Side note, my prom date's grandmother was a huge racist. She almost disowned my date for going to prom with a black guy. So that was fun.

My second prom was also at my high school, Willowbrook High School. I was dating a girl three years younger than I, and I was 21. Apparently, I like younger women. I wish you could see the look on our waiter's face at dinner. Having spent many years serving and bartending, it's not usual for someone to order alcohol at a prom dinner. I think he spent a whole five minutes examining my ID. I also had to get interviewed by a dean at my old school for permission to go to prom at my current age. That was weird because the dean was the same one that suspended me my sophomore year.

Third prom was with a friend from church. We went on a few dates but it was never serious. She was, and still is gorgeous. She's married to a good guy, made babies, and we and both of our families are still good friends 15 years later.

Actually, now that I think about it, third prom wasn't a prom. I think it was a homecoming. I'll have to message Laura or go through old pictures to be sure.

Fourth and fifth proms were both with my wife. The fourth was pretty fun. We sat at a table of all teachers and their significant others. We danced a little bit. We had fun. And we looked absolutely smashing. As we always do.

Prom number five was interesting, and that's not me saying I didn't have a decent time last night.

It was at the Marriott by Midway airport. In my mind, that meant if I needed a quick escape there would be a hotel bar to go hide.

Some punk tried to sneak gin in a cheap, plastic champagne glass.

One dude tried to hide from his teachers because he was so stoned. When he gave up and walked in, he reeked of weed so badly we all had to take a step back.

Another kid tried to smoke pot in the parking lot. As we were leaving one of Kate's teacher friends said, "I'm gonna go bust these kids." That's a paraphrase, but it was hilarious.

I thought I saw a couple of teenage lesbians walk in. They were actually twin sisters.

When I got bored of the lady teachers talking I left. I went to the hotel bar, had the bartender put on the White Sox game, and drank a couple of Sam Adams.

So it was fun. I would have liked to have slow danced with my girl. We had another place to be, and we were both missing our baby boy. We left after just over an hour.

We picked up Isaiah from my bro and sister-in-law's house around eleven. My brother was drunk as shit, and from the pictures we saw on Facebook, fell asleep on in the front yard, sitting by the fire. Thank God my sister-in-law is more responsible.

So those are my stories about prom. My wife promises it won't be my last one. That'll be my blog post this same time 2016.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pepper Potts and Rosie

I gotta make this a shorter than usual post. To do otherwise would just depress me. It was a crappy weekend, and The Smith Family has had a tough time of it.

This past weekend Kat and I agreed to dog-sit for my nieces' and nephew's "New" dog, Rosie. "New" is in quotation marks because she was new to our family, but she was actually 3 years old. Rosie and my dog, Pepper Potts weren't from the same litter, but they were the same age, from the same breeder, and I thought and referred to them as cousins. My parents also have a dog from the same litter that we know was Pepper Potts brother, Buddy. So this isn't a post about dogs, it's about family.

Rosie grew up on a farm and was used to being around other dogs and children. The sounds of the city of Chicago were totally unfamiliar to her, staying with us. Someone on the block set off a firecracker just as I was going out for a smoke. I feel guilty. Had I just nudged her away from the back door she'd still be with us. But I didn't, and she took off through the yard, into the back alley, down the street, and down a bunch of more streets.

Katie and I were out until after two o'clock in the morning searching for to no avail. I had Pepper Potts off of her leash because I thought she might she might be able to smell her way to her cousin. That didn't work. Rosie got hit by a car almost two miles, and some major Chicago streets away. We only found her body because some nice lady saw that her tags were still on and called the owner, my brother.

Needless to say, we spent most of Saturday in tears. Katie lost her childhood dog in the same way when she was young, and I can only assume it was probably worse for her.

We miss you, Rosie. We barely got to know you, but we loved you.

Saturday night we ran into some more bullshit.

I gave Pepper Potts a bath, and dried her off. After I put her down I saw that she wouldn't put any weight on her left  hind paw. With Rosie's death still on our brains, Kate agreed to go straight to UIC's animal hospital. They gave us a prescription for doggie morphine and other drugs. But it didn't help. By Sunday morning she couldn't move both hind paws. She couldn't wag her tail. She wasn't eating or drinking, and she couldn't even go potty.

Sunday we were able to take her to our regular vet, Banfield Pet Hospital via Petsmart. We upgraded our pet plan to include x-rays and MRIs. The results were No Bueno. Pepper Potts slipped a disc and had a bone spur that crippled her. Apparently, that's not unusual for long, skinny, hotdog-shaped dogs. Especially for the Cockapoo, variety.

According to the doc, (almost an hour late), our only option was surgery. Surgery prices started at 6k. After the initial care we'd still have had to pay for aftercare, physical therapy, pain meds, and who knows what else. That is way out of our price range. Kat and I want to buy a house. We want another kid. We wanted to get another dog. None of that could happen if we were to drop that much money on surgery.

So we had to have her put to sleep. One of the hardest things I've ever done in life, was giving her hugs and kisses, knowing that she was getting a lethal injection an hour away.

Fucking hard. She was my best friend.

I've been trying to figure out my favorite moment with #PepperPotts. I can't do it. She was too much apart of my daily routine. Every moment, of every day she was by my side. Every walk that we took. Every ball that my son hands me. Every piece of food that my boy throws on the floor. Every time the child points at a picture, or a dog on tv. It's fucking hard.

I guess if I had to pick, it'd be the mornings. Pepper always slept on the couch, or in bed with Katie while I watched The Tonight Show. Kate leaves for work around 7am. I get up around 930am when I hear the child screaming through the baby monitor. When Isaiah starts screaming, Pepper Potts would run straight to his bedroom door. After I open the door, she ran straight to the crib. Then these two goofballs would make out, lick paws and hands, smell each other butts, and pretty much act the fool. Isaiah Jedi still tries to find the dog when he wakes up.

We can't get another dog until August. We're going to Dallas, and it wouldn't be fair to make a pup fly, or stay with friends or family. No matter what kind of dog we get, Pepper Potts will be my favorite.

Isaiah is my blood, my love, namesake, and my heart. But I can't wait to get a new dog. I want a beagle.

Alright, that was much longer of a post than I planned. I guess I got emotional thinking about my dog. Thanks as always for reading. I'll see you next week.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day

I have a bunch of notes in my journals about my next couple of blogs. TV shows that I watch, dreams I've had lately, and some of the ridiculous conversations I've had with friends or family. But, it's Mother's Day, and I'd rather run off a few stories/experiences about the best Moms I have ever known. If you'd rather read about tv or movies, go ahead and read an old blog post.

My Abuela (That's Spanish for Grandma), is old, and I don't think she quite knows what's going on anymore. When I was little, her couch was always covered in plastic, and I hated being there. When we stayed over our (me, my sister, and brother) asses stuck to the couch. When she stayed with us, I remember her walking around the house saying, "Que frio, que frio, que frio." [How cold!] I also remember, around eight years old, how cool it was that Abuela and Abuelo (Grandpa) married each other when their names where so similar. I thought that was their actual names.

My Papi and Nana live and in Texas, and we're going to visit this summer so they can see their great-grand-son.

I played varsity tennis in high school, and it's probably because of my Nana. I was around ten years old, and we lived close to a park. We had rackets around and she wanted to go play with her grandson. My arrogant ass had no idea how badly she would beat me. She killed me, but it made me want to play more. I can beat her now, but she's almost 90, so that says nothing about my skills.

I am an extremely lucky person to have 3 living grandparents. I'm even luckier to have such awesome grandparents. My grandparents are better than yours.

My mother-in-law is an amazing person. Don't tell my father-in-law, but she runs our family, and keeps us all sane. I think we'd all kill each other if nature ruled. Don't get me wrong, Kate's father is a great man, too, but he's more of an enforcer type of personality. Shortly after we married, I asked Carole, "Do you mind if I call you Mom?" She responded with, "None of my kids' spouses call me 'Mom', and I would love if you did." That's a paraphrase, but it was perfect. It made me immediately feel part of the family.

What can I say about my mother. I have so many stories, I'd have to write a book to get them all in. In seventh grade I was pretty sure I was a grown-ass-man. My Dad was out of town, so I figured I was the MAN. I had a late library book that was acquiring fines. My mother told me to return it right after I had showered, and done my homework. My smart-ass didn't agree.

At one point, every boy/child reaches a point in their life when spankings or smacked mouths don't have any effect. "You can't push me around anymore, I'm grown." I wasn't about to back down, since Dad was out of town. The next day I showed up for basketball practice to find out I was benched. "You were defiant to your mother, and now you can't play." Having to explain to your classmates why you're sitting on the bench in a suit was far more humiliating, and educating than any slap in the face would have accomplished. Thanks, Mom. I get it now, as a parent.

I'm struggling with how to describe the best Mom/mother. Her baby knows that she is the problem solver. Her family knows that the house would come crashing down like the worst earthquake without her. Even as I write this, her son is whining in his sleep, and she is probably tossing and turning in bed. Had I a crown, she'd get it. My wife, Katie Ruth Smith, is the best Mother I have ever known.

It's funny, because she feels bad about going to work. She feels like she misses all of the good stuff like, first steps, first words, blah blah blah. But all of the best of Isaiah comes from her. He's smart, like his Mama. He's fierce, like his Mama. He's loving like his Mama.

When Mom comes home everything changes. Toddler and dog run to the door as though I hadn't been sitting with them all day. Feeding schedules are out the window. EVERYTHING changes, because "The Momma" is home.

As a stay-at-home-dad I still rely on Mom. What did he do this morning at 5am? Do I need to take him for more walks? Is that too much greasy food? What books did you read him to bed? What creams should I put on his shitty butt? He feels warm to me, should I call 911?

She worries, but she doesn't need to. Katherine is the best mother I have ever known. I can only stay at home with our kid, because I know that she'll come home. Without Kat, I'd have to teach him guitar so we could play Eric Clapton duets on the red line to make change (though to be honest, we'd be GOOD).

My wife is the best mother I've ever known. Isaiah and I are lucky to have her.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers I didn't mention, but especially to the ones I mentioned. Especially Kate. I love you.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Broken back

I haven't told this story on my silly blog, but it's actually an interesting story, and possibly worth reading. It was a significant event in my formative years. It also says quite a bit about me.

In junior high school I broke my back.

Back at Jefferson Jr. High I ran cross country, track, and played basketball. I'm not sure how I injured myself. I used to high jump with the opposite foot of a normal right-hander. As a result, rolled off the mat after a jump and gave myself a concussion. I ran 100 meter hurdles. And playing basketball was never good for my knees or back.

I'm pretty sure, I didn't break my back running cross country. And as a side note, I hated cross country.

But I did break my back. I fractured the L5 vertebrae, which is located on the lower right back, and I can assure you from experience, it is not a pleasant experience.

The first doctor I saw was my usual pediatrician. He was a moron. His horseshit diagnosis, was that I hurt my back, and I'd have to learn to live with the pain. This was completely unacceptable to my mother. If you don't know my mother, know this about her. She teaches grade school, she loves her family unconditionally, she's Puerto Rican with a Latin temper, and she will not but up with any bullshit. To this day, I'm amazed she didn't smack the taste out of that doctor's mouth.

So we got a second opinion. A family friend from church was also a pediatrician, and she referred us to a specialist. He told us that I had three options. I could learn to live with the pain of a stress fracture, I could undergo surgery to repair it, or I could wear a back brace, do physical therapy, and wait to see if it healed on its own. We opted for therapy and the brace, and saved surgery for a last resort.

Being fourteen years old is hard enough. Having to wear a back brace is the proverbial icing on the cake. I couldn't participate in gym class. I had to medically take leave from the basketball team. When I got to high school, I missed football tryouts. It was hell. I vividly remembering throwing a tantrum on the basketball court, taking the brace off, and literally saying "Fuck it. I'll play through the pain." I was not the most pleasant person to be around.

I remember praying to God that I would heal and be able to go back to being a regular kid. And guess what, for once God said yes. Without having to go to surgery, I healed and got back to normal. I was healthy for the start of basketball tryouts. I ended up playing varsity basketball and tennis. I still have my letter jacket.

I grew a lot from the experience, and it made me who I am today. I guess I wouldn't change a thing, otherwise I wouldn't have my gorgeous wife, the most beautiful baby on earth, or an idiot dog. So I guess it all worked out, but sometimes my back and knees still ache.