Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not Bad for Everyday Life

I’ve got a song stuck in my head, one that’s unlikely to hit the Top 40 anytime soon: “Not Bad for Having Three Kids,” as sung by the Ta-Tas on Bob’s Burgers. I started watching the show a few weeks ago partly because it seemed to be popular on Hulu, and partly because the lead voice also did Coach McGuirk on Home Movies (*hilarious* show during its first season). One stanza to “Not Bad for Having Three Kids” goes,

            This is down here, but it should be up there.
            This is kind of loose, and I think it might tear.
                        This is lumpy (and it’s dumpy).
This is saggy (and it’s flabby).
            When I bend down I pee a little bit,
            But it’s not bad, not bad for having three kids.
"I still got my sexy parts. Well, I got two out of five..."

Catchy, eh? The point of this entry is that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why a ditty like that sticks in my head today when it would make me cringe when I was younger. Sort of like vegetables: I couldn’t stand the stuff as a kid, and I can’t get enough now. Why?

I think there are two reasons. The first is that I simply appreciate anything musical much more now that I’m older. My failed efforts in recent years to learn to play the piano have reminded me how much time and effort it takes to learn skills like that in the first place, and I appreciate that people have sacrificed their time to help keep my life interesting. The more important reason, though, is the way it gives light to a sensitive topic in the most absurd way possible. You know what I really don’t like about being an adult? How everything seems to be off limits to talk about. Hygiene. Sex. Health. Looks. I told some co-workers that it was ludicrous how large my pregnant wife was getting. They nearly fainted. The net effect, I think, is that nearly everyone thinks they are freaks in some way, that we feel alone with everyday ‘struggles’ that are actually incredibly common.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating that we start an Adam Sandler revolution or anything like that. I do think that we need to be less squeamish about talking about our quirks, though. A lot of people get worked up over nothing. A guy I knew hated his wife because she cut back with the bedroom stuff after they got married. I wonder if he would have had the same feelings if he knew that happened more often than not. I’d bet money that you do something you consider weird when you poop. I’d also bet you read or watch something regularly you wouldn't dream of telling your best friend. I’m here to let you know you’re not alone.

There’s a more important topic here – what it means to be an adult – that I’ll save for another day. Instead, I’ll simply close by thanking the folks at 20th Century Fox for broadcasting how accidental squirting is a common consequence of having kids.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kurt-ronicling For Posterity

2014. A new year. As in the past, I have made the requisite number of doomed resolutions. To lose weight. To send Christmas cards earlier. To finally finish Ulysses. It didn’t take a lot of time: I just copied and pasted most from my last list (not 2013, but 2010). The terrible truth is that I’m not half the pessimist I claim to be. This is the year I’ll keep the promises I made to myself.

A new resolution, though, is to be faithful to my blog. Part of the reason is self-indulgence: I’m very American in my beliefs that I think differently than others, that I’ve had experiences that are hard to appreciate, and that I have important lessons to share with the world. There’s a second motive, too: I’m hoping it will help me clarify my own thinking about the world and how I fit into it. Good writing is concise, and being concise means distilling complex thoughts down to their essence. Too often when I’m talking, I feel like I’ve made the tough stuff sound tough. It’s time to make them sound simple.

And there’s a third motive: to leave a record of my evolution behind for my kids. My dad passed away last year, and one the issues I’ve grappled with is how poorly I understood him. I know the chronology, how he grew up in northern Minnesota, made his way to Minneapolis and Chicago and Santa Monica before returning to Minnesota. I rarely knew what was going on in his head, though. He seemed to hate being a father, yet never missed my soccer games. He ran all the people he loved out of his life while lamenting his loneliness. I remember seeing him weep after my mom passed away, and I still wonder whether he was crying for her or himself.

But I feel like I know him a little better now because I found his journals after cleaning out the house. They chronicle his thoughts starting when he was just about my age now. They aren’t lengthy, but they’ve given me a much deeper appreciation of what he endured in his life (so many moments where all he had was the money in his pocket!). Maybe I can achieve the same for my own kids, once they hit their 30s, and wonder what the hell their old man was thinking when he ____. Here’s to trying!

Hope you're as excited after I go nuts, Emmett!