On Getting Old…er

I was having a discussion with my kids tonight as I drove them back from their mother’s house to mine. You see, today my boys turned 16 years old. And while this is an inevitable outcome of raising children, feeding them and foregoing the desire to scream and run when they do the sometimes stupid things they do, it doesn’t make it any easier as a parent to look at yourself in the mirror and realize how viciously Old Man Time has beaten you up so far. This can be especially fun when you have baldness.

But as the discussion carried on, one of my sons quickly headed off the lament that I’m apparently offering out loud a bit too frequently — Dad’s getting old.¬†Well, I felt the need to clarify my feelings on the matter. Continue reading “On Getting Old…er”

Netflixing

As I’ve grown older and gotten involved in a myriad of activities, I’ve found that I no longer have the time or inclination to watch a lot of television. At least that’s what I tell myself. The truth is that I don’t watch TV like I did ten years ago. I suppose becoming attached to programs only to have them cancelled¬† when I’ve becoming thoroughly hooked has led to a certain sense of distancing in an activity that would otherwise envelop my life quite easily. It certainly did when I was a kid and I maintain that most of my useless knowledge comes from years of pandering from the idiot box. For example, I know that Iran was once called Persia thanks to Scooby Doo. Take that, public schools.

But over the years I’ve found myself fairly blessed without having to cordon off pieces of my schedule so that I can tune in to the latest episode of the seemingly never-ending slurry of reality shows. But it wasn’t until The Ex moved out that I found myself almost totally detached from the television. This suited my kids, and more importantly their PS3 addictions, just fine. And I was quite proud of the fact that I didn’t adhere to some sadistic schedule where I’d have to carve out an hour of my Thursday evening. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was almost arrogant about it.

The truth was that I had discovered something that started as a small subscription to see movies and turned into my daily ritual — Netflix. What started as an effort to see how many movies I could watch for $15 a month eventually turned into their $8 streaming service that pipes right in to the PS3, and more importantly my PC. Because what started off as a fledgling way to watch movies without having to wait has become such a phenomena in my house that the word Netflix is actually become a verb in my house.

“I’m gonna Netflix up a movie.”

“Sorry, but I’m Netflixing tonight.”

“Yeah, I Netflixed that series last month!”

While I’m sure that someone else has come up with that, I claim full creative rights to the term. I say this because I said it before hearing anyone else say it, and thereby any claims to the contrary are fallacious and/or some form of cow excrement. I don’t expect any financial compensation for it, but take full credit. Egos need love, too.

Netflixing isn’t without its downside, I’ve however noticed. Because I never went out of my way to get involved in what became incredibly popular shows, which everyone seems to have references they use, I’m very much behind in the pop culture race. Nothing pointed this out to me more clearly than when I became aware that I had never really watched much of The Office. (Not the original UK version, brits — the US version.) So, because I didn’t wish to be left behind on the plethora of “That’s What She Said” humor any longer, I Netflixed the series up. And over the course of the past few weeks I’ve learned an important lesson:

Never watch only one show for extended periods of time. The phrase “all things in moderation” does include your pop culture intake.

I became a laboratory example of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me in visual media exposure. While I did enjoy the hijinks of Steve, Jim, Pam and Dwight, I had never before been so acutely aware of how many people in the world looked like Steve, Jim, Pam and Dwight. Not to mention catching myself looking off in the direction of invisible cameras to catch my expression.

But the worst part of all of this was when I finished season 7, the last available season on Netflix streaming, I found that I had nothing to watch. There was a giant hole in my life now. What was my nightly ritual was gone. And after two or three days of withdrawal, it’s only then that you come to recognize that you were hideously addicted to fictional characters. Now while that doesn’t sound all that bad, let me put it another way…

Think for a moment about the legions of fans who tune in to the final episodes of shows like Seinfeld or Cheers. They’ve watched and loved a show for 30 minutes a week over the course of years. Tears of loss are shed and they run entertainment columns for weeks after the final episode was aired. Now condense all those shows into dozens of marathons over the course a few weeks. You are suffering the emotional equivalent of drinking 6-packs concentrated Monster Energy drinks while eating handfuls of chocolate-covered espresso beans. The emotional caffeine crash is not pretty.

To top all of it off, now that I’ve finally gotten over my addiction to The Office, here I am like some tormented heroin addict scanning the available TV series on Netflix looking for my next fix. God grant me the serenity…

So Let’s Just Get This Out Of The Way

The past two years have been pretty life-altering. After 15 years of marriage, the wife and I decided to end it. I won’t go into the grisly details, but if 18 months of divorce proceedings is any indication, it wasn’t exactly fun times in happy land. Thought it says on the final paperwork that we have joint custody of our kids, they’re with me most of the time, which is what they wanted.

Hmm…it occurs to me that I should have a name for the ex. Nothing cute readily springs to mind, at least nothing that would be very kind, but I’ll let you know when something comes up. For now, “The Ex” should pretty much sum it up.

The Ex moved an hour away about a year ago. She wanted to live near her parents. To say it’s put a strain on the whole joint custody thing is a bit of a understatement. But as the months go by things get easier as routine so delicately sets in. And if you’re keeping up on the timeline, that means that we were together under the same roof for over a year after we decided to split. Yeah. Good times had by all.

Now while it would be far too easy to have this as the dumping ground for all my post-marital angst, I’m going to do my best not to do so. For one thing, no one wants to read that shit. Well, I’m sure there are some, but they need a hobby. Secondly, I have a written journal for that shit. Venting is all well and good, but some things do not need to see the internet. At least that’s my opinion. Countless others obviously disagree by posting absolutely godawful videos, images and words that would make Satan toss his cookies. Thirdly, there’s a good chance my now-teenage children would read it. And they really don’t need to see it. Besides, if I put that much effort into biting my tongue when they’re within earshot, why would I possibly subject them to a format that can be re-read ad nauseum.

For the time being, I’m devoting my energies into learning how to be single again. Married life, which as part of the divorce statistics I can really claim no expertise, translates to compromise. And when you’ve been married for a decade and a half and suddenly find yourself single, it means having the freedom to no longer compromise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful. But it can also be downright terrifying. I’m guessing the feeling is very similar to how inmates feel after being released. But at least they have a parole officer who can guide them in the right direction.

Good lord — how long did it take for me to equate marriage to imprisonment? Like, two minutes?

Oh, and before I forget: If you should ever find yourself looking down the barrel of divorce, do yourself a huge favor and thoroughly check out the background of any potential attorneys you want to hire. I thought I’d covered my bases pretty well. Unfortunately, my choice ended up getting disbarred for embezzling money from his clients. Had I looked a bit closer, I may have chosen a different lawyer. Live and learn.