Life Adventures

Life adventures happen everyday. They are the things that inspire us, teach us, motivate us and mold us into the people that we will be in the future.

Happy Sunday

After a 19 hour day yesterday and a 6 hour night of sleep I feel refreshed, inspired and ready to go.  Here’s my words of wisdom for today…

“It’s better to be on the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than halfway up a ladder you don’t.”

I finally made that switch in one of the most uncertain times of life and it feels like I am learning to fly.  In a couple of days I will be the only one in our family to have a full time job.  I went from engineering to becoming a technical writer which created a gap between our income and our cost of living.  However, gigs for playing guitar, dancing, DJing and MCing have been pouring in!  It feels like the shift I want is about to happen.  It definitely feels like I’m going in the right direction.

I was dancing at Third Saturday Swing last night.  I looked at my watch and it was 10pm.  The surprising thing was that I still wanted to stay and dance, hang out and chat with my friends, and make new friends.  This was the moment that I knew my life was changing.  Normally, after a long day, I would have felt exhausted and would have been whining about what’s coming up next.  Whining about what I had to do, about maybe not getting enough sleep, whining about not having gotten enough sleep the night before.  But as I looked at the time and looked back up at Shelly’s face, I felt happy. The underlying tone of whining was gone.

I am still not at my destination.  Very far from it, I tell you but I am definitely on the way there.  Daddy IS finally chasing his dreams.  I feel like Elfaba from Wicked…. I feel like now I’m beginning to defy gravity.

I Miss Shelly

Shelly as Jessie

One week with the shingles and I’ve still been getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night.  I am supposed to be relieving stress, resting and recovering.  But I find myself with so much energy when I place my head on my pillow at night, or when I wake up to pee at 4 or 5 in the morning; at least I know I’m well hydrated.  I needed to do some kind of exercise to burn off my excess energy.  I went from a fast daddy lifestyle trying to do all the daily grind while trying to get fit and chasing my dream, to becoming a couch bum.

I am not supposed to expose my shingles to the sun, so Alan and I took a walk to get some exercise just when the sun had hidden low enough in the sky.  I expected to be bed/couch ridden through my whole quarantine so I didn’t bring any exercise clothes.  I just wore some surf shorts that I packed in case it got warm.  We ran through South Pasadena, which is partly wooded; I considered myself running, Alan looked like he was jogging.  The jog actually reminded me of where we used to live in Beverly Hills just after Trystan was born.  We were house sitting for Shelly’s boss while she was overseas shooting The Life of Pi.  The house was a beautiful rustic cottage in the middle of Beverly Glen Blvd surrounded by foliage.  This area of South Pasadena is kind of like that, except less expensive and less of a canyon road.  There were a lot of old houses and a jogging trail that went by the golf course, under the highway and through some greenery.

It wasn’t even a mile before my lungs started hurting, and I remembered how my nurse friend, Jenn had mentioned I could have lesions in my lungs and since it was a wet environment, I wouldn’t be able to feel them.  Stride, stride, inhale, stride, stride exhale… my lungs were opening up and filling with air, and I don’t know what that pain is but I have to take this exercise a notch down.  I’ve been athletic my whole life, from extra curricular activities in high school, to crew (rowing) in college, to competitive dancing which did into my 30’s when my body started complaining.  I saw dancing as fun, and never saw it as a sport until I got injured and I showed my physical therapist what I was doing.  She said I was pounding my body more than some of the athletes that she was maintaining, but by then I didn’t see myself as an athlete so I never stretched or warmed up.  We just hit the dance floor full bore.  So here I am now, almost 38 with plantar fasciitis, tight muscles, shingles and burning lungs trying to keep up with Alan who is older, heavier and healthier than me.

Our 2 mile jog turned into a 4 mile walk.  My mind was full trying to think of something spiritual or inspiring to blog for a Sunday.  Alan and I walked up the steps to his second story apartment.  “That was a pretty good walk,” said Alan, “almost four miles.”

“Nice! So let’s eat dinner then, I’ll show you how to use Microsoft Project.” I got in the shower and started the water, “It’s really easy to use because you input information the way that you would…” I realized that I was alone in the bathroom talking to myself.  That may sound weird to any normal person, sure, and that was the moment that I realized how beautiful my normal was.  I realized that on a normal late workday, Shelly would get home from work just when I am finishing my normal day and we would spend our last hours of the day getting ready for bed together.  I’d finish cooking dinner when she’d get home and then we’d eat together.  Normally I’d eat with the kids beforehand and just sit with her and chat.  We’d talk about our day and about everything else while washing dishes, wiping the table down, gathering bedclothes, using the toilet, brushing our teeth, and yes, taking a shower.  At that moment I missed Shelly. At this moment, I miss her even more.

I have been making the most out of my time away from Shelly: working on my prioritization skills, and doing some behavioral modification so that when we’re together she will get a better man than when I left.

***

It had been a week since Andy left Woody at the toy shop for the old man to fix his torn arm.  “Andy’s getting in the car to pick up Woody!!!” Buzz yelled from the window sill.  All the other toys cheered, “Woody’s coming back!!!  Woody’s coming back.”  They waited patiently.  They had all missed Woody so much since he had been away on the mend.  But as much as they missed him, little did they know that he missed them one hundred times more and can’t wait to go back home.

Happy Daddy

Captain Roy Episode 3

Pirate ship battle

Pirate ship battle

The appearance of the new ships had changed the game.  My crew, my treasure and my life needed to be protected.   The Pirate Ship Accentus’ aft had a unique design.  The captain’s cabin was below the main deck, protruding beyond the rudder.  Under the cabin hung two brass balls for any pursuing ship to see.  It’s entrance was where you would expect it, aft the main deck, however, after the door is a stair case going down to the cabin.  Captain Roy designed it himself.  

As the armada drew nearer with oars in the water, the Accentus began to creak and groan.  The captain’s cabin had separated from the main hull of the ship and descended toward the water, suspended by 4 chains.  At the center of the chains was a hose, attached to the bottom of the officer’s deck which was where the captain’s deck was usually found on other ships.  The clunking of the chain rings accelerated as the cabin drew closer to the glassy surface, then a splash.  None of the queens’ navy were privy to this disappearing act because all they could see was the front of the Accentus, her siren’s figure hanging over the hull, her sails limp against the sky.

Now the captan’s deck was what we call a diving pod.  We use it to bury treasure, and recover the treasure we had buried.  The hose was connected to a bellows in the pod and it pumped air into the cabin.  The brass balls hanging under the cabin act as ballast against the buoyancy of the air filled chamber, to prevent it from flipping over and floating back to the top.  Everything was perfectly calculated, from the weight of the brass to the volume of the diving pod to the length of the chains.  We even took what treasure we had in the holds and gathered them in nets tied to the brass spheres.  However today we were not diving to hide our treasure.  We were diving for survival.

We released the chains from the officers’ deck and the end of the hose was attached to a buoy that floated amongst the debris from our fight the night before.  The bellows was pumped once every 60 seconds so as not to draw attention to the buoy.  The crew stayed as silent as possible, waiting for this to pass.

***

I went to see the dermatologist today and what I found out was game changing indeed.  The urgency of no skin-to-skin contact was stressed (no pun intended), to the point that he asked if I could stay with someone else for a week until I was no longer contagious.  I explained that I am the primary care taker of the children, so what precautions would I have to take knowing that?  Cover up exposed skin, use gloves and a mask to prevent bodily fluid exchange from talking, sneezing, breathing.  Thankfully, our friends Marlene and Alan offered to quarantine me at their house while they took care of the kids at ours.  Alan is Trystan’s godfather and his family has been such a blessing for us especially in times of sickness when neither Shelly nor I could take any days off.   So for now, a blessing and a curse, I have to leave my house for a week until I am better, but I take my treasures out of harms’ way.  I pack my bags today and wait for this to pass.

***

The Leftenant of the H.M.S. Itch searched the Accentus with his boarding party.  They found no treasure, no crew, and no Captain Roy.

Captain Roy Episode 2

The firefight continued and the wind was with us.  We had sunk one mercenary ship earlier in the evening, now her majesty’s sailing ship Lesion had caught up.  Pass after pass we let the cannons loose until driftwood, debris and life rafts scattered on the surface where her majesty’s navy ship stood.  The only light was from the burning oil and grease that floated on top of the water.   

I woke up this morning a groggy pirate, with a stink in my breath and an itch under my eyepatch.  I was tired and hoping that the two lesions on my eyelid had started crusting over which meant that they were no longer contagious and I would be on the downhill side of these damn shingles.  I walked up to the mirror and lifted my eyepatch to see two scarred over spots on my eyelid.  Yes!  My immune system had won the battle last night.

As the dawn began to rise over the horizon, we saw clearly the devastation that we had caused.  Floating bodies, lines, sails and shattered wooden planks around our ship.  The wind had died down and we did not move.  T’was for none the better since my men and I were tired from our long night of fighting.  “Ahoy Cap’n!!!!”  Walsh points over the gunwale toward the rising sun and I see the silhouette of not one ship, but her majesty’s armada.

I took the gauze off completely to wash my face in the shower, happy that this ordeal is almost over.  I got my clothes ready and turned to the mirror for another look.  My forehead was covered in red blotches, there were three small red spots forming at the upper left corner of my hairline, and under my left eyebrow was a rosebush with no leaves, just clusters of red.  The lesions hadn’t blistered yet but I definitely felt defeated.

***

Today was the first day I had the kids all to myself after getting shingles and as the day went on, the rash got bigger, and so did my swollen glands.  I took all the necessary precautions not to spread the virus to my children.  I did more research and got more tips from friends.  I scheduled a dermatologist appointment for tomorrow morning for myself and a pediatric appointment for Zoey to possibly get the chickenpox vaccine and to check on her cough.

These are the things I found out.  If anyone out there ever gets shingles and you have kids, remember these pointers.  This is my body and if this virus wants to take over, well it’s going to have a hell of a time because I’m going to put up a fight.

  1. Keep an alkaline PH level in your body.  Apparently viruses don’t survive well in alkaline environments.     CLICK HERE FOR A LIST of alkaline forming foods.   My beautiful wife went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of veggies and teas from this list and I ordered a water ionizer from Amazon.com.
  2. The lesions are contagious only while it’s blistering.  Therefore, it’s NOT contagious before the blisters form and after they have crusted over.
  3. Tylenol is your best friend.  If it is really bad, then see your doctor to get stronger pain killers.  Or switch off between acetaminophen and ibuprofen.  One has an 8 hour cycle, the other has a 6 hour cycle.  One hits the liver and the other hits the kidneys.  With that said, drink TONS of water to flush out your liver and kidneys and the rest of your system.
  4. Cold packs can ease the itch.  Heat increases itch.
  5. Oatmeal bath soothes the itching and is also supposed to suck the toxins out of your skin.  I don’t know if the second part is only a wives tale, or if it is true, but the payoff from soothing the itch is reason enough for me.  Except since mine is on my face, then I’ll probably not take a bath in the tub (not enough time), I’ll just do a mask type treatment.
  6. Wash the affected area with soap and water often to prevent bacteria and infection.

Regarding handling children who have not had chickenpox (If you have no choice like me):

  1. Keep the lesions covered.  Phantom of the Opera half-face patch, check.
  2. Wash your hands after touching the affected area before touching your kids.  I basically have been washing my hands after adjusting my eyepatch and before I touch them or anything of theirs.
  3. If you have lesions in your mouth, throat or lungs, the virus can be airborne for a 2 foot distance.  Note that lesions in wet parts of the body may not experience pain (and lesions under the shower don’t either).  I’m pretty sure I don’t have any in these areas but still, I avoid talking directly to Trystan and Zoey’s faces, especially if I’m within 2 feet (putting them down to sleep or in comforting a crying Zoey).
  4. Feed your children healthy foods that will boost their immune system.  This should be the same stuff you’re eating to boost your own immune system anyways.  No sugars, no dairy.
  5. Since touch is limited, exercise the other love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gift giving.  Today, I made sure to give extra words of affirmation and really spend quality time with the kids.  It was short lived as I got tired pretty fast but hey, you can only give what you’ve got.

With all that said, I am thankful that we have really easy children.  Trystan and Zoey interact so well together and can keep themselves entertained, that I didn’t really have to do much.  Trystan can finally dress himself and is completely potty trained, and he helps take care of his little sister by throwing her dirty diapers away after I change her, putting away her toys and consoling her when she cries.  This afternoon, Trystan, Zoey and I had races in the back yard.  And we kicked crocodiles.  Kicking Crocodiles is a game he likes to play with an assortment of little blow up animals.  He stands them on all fours and yells “Let’s get the crocodiles!!!” and we run around the yard kicking them as hard as we can.  Today was the first time Zoey joined us in that game.  Zoey fell asleep within 10 minutes of going to bed.  Trystan had a more difficult time, but after I got too tired I left his room and he fell asleep on his own.

I am also thankful for our friends who called to offer their help this week, whether for advice or for picking up Trystan from daycare or for watching them during the day so I can take a break.  I am most specially thankful for my wife, Shelly, who took care of me with a foot rub and a nice cup of ginger lemon tea, and made sure that I didn’t stay up too late writing this blog.

Finally, here is a video that a friend sent me to cheer me up.  Thanks Brenda, it made me and Shelly laugh, what a nice end to the day.

I’m a Daddy and I Know It – Awesome Parody!

Captain Roy

Today I am Captain Roy!!!  I have a gauze eyepatch to cover the shingles on my eyelid.  All brought about by my stress.  How do you not stress about looking for a job?  Yes, it is about that time.  When I drop Trystan off at daycare, Zoey tries to make a break for it so she can stay and play with everyone.  In my heart, I want to be able to put her in daycare with her brother, and I know that it will happen in God’s time.  I also know that there is a job out there just for me.  Two of my three long term jobs were well above my qualification and experience level, but someone took a chance on me and I was able to learn the ropes and get the job done.

My first job straight out of college was with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics as a Systems Engineer.  I pretty much learned everything I know about the engineering process with them as I was with them for almost 5 years.  I hopped around different departments, following the next big push.  I ended up as the Test Coordinator on the final phases of ground testing before the F-35’s first flight.

The next leap of faith was in Biometric Engineering.  I had no experience in Biometrics and bombed my first two technical interviews.  Yes, I had no clue what my future supervisor was talking about and admitted it.  I had no clue what my future manager was talking about; he just gave me IQ type problem solving questions, I had no answer.  Then Raluca, the second in command for the team interviewed me.  Little did I know that she took the leap of faith and pulled for me to get in.  My experience at Lockheed Martin with process management, change control and project planning helped me see the big picture and work more efficiently in a business that was trying to grow from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

In both of those high pressure and fast paced environments, I haven’t experienced as much stress as I have making sure that the house is clean, the kids are taken care of, the laundry is done, food is ready by dinner, and I at the same time I am staying true to my goal of writing 1000 words a day.  I cut my goal to 500 words a day and luckily, the 30 Days of Hustle assignment for today was to cut our goal in half.  What a relief!  The whole point was to relieve some stress off of you while you’re hustling to achieve your goals.  Thanks Jon Acuff!

Why do I want to write 1000, now 500 words a day?  Well, it’s because I want to be a writer/director.  Yes, oh so far from where I was and what I was trained in.  When I think about the huge gap I have to jump across, it stresses me out.  I started this blog with the hopes of reigniting my writing engine, to exercise my writing muscles.  How am I to find a job in an industry that I have no qualifications for?  Most entry level jobs in the film industry, I am way over qualified for as an engineer with 12 years’ experience.  But I still have to try.  I want to be able to look Trystan and Zoey in the eyes and tell them in all earnest to chase after their dreams.  I want them to look at my life and see that I am doing the same.

I’ve never really started going for what I wanted until I married Shelly.  My mindset was always to save money, so don’t get what you really want, just get one that is close enough.  Shelly was the first person to tell me, well you want the four door, manual transmission Volkswagen Golf, so don’t settle for the one with automatic transmission.  We started doing the Artists’ Way together.   She was also the one who encourages me to pursue my career in the entertainment industry and not to even look at engineering unless I really have no other choice.  I am so thankful to have her in my life, talk about the wind beneath my wings.

Well, I very seldom take leaps of faith this huge.  Now that I have a family to take care of, my paternal instincts of being a provider are kicking in.  Take a deep breath Capt’n Roy.  Yes, when I look in the mirror, I see a man who is in charge of a ship.  I started feeling achy today, the stress in my muscles catching up to me.  I took a shower and laid back down on the couch where I am quarantined.  Before fully resigning to my fate, I got up and just turned on the stove.  I chopped up some bacon and browned garlic in the oil.  I added some brown sugar to caramelize the bacon and garlic, then added onions.  I continued to make my family a pasta dinner.

The secret, I discovered in doing something is just to do it.  When I think about something I have to do, it stresses me out.  Chores, work, and punishments are things you think about.  Habits are things you don’t have to think about, you just do them.  Here are some habits that I didn’t have one year ago: getting the kids ready every morning, cleaning the table, washing the dishes, cooking meals, cleaning the house and a whole lot of others.  Some I am still working on not thinking about since they get me all aggravated and pissy.  Cooking is a habit, one that I used to get my mind off the aches.  Blogging, is almost a habit.  It took a little bit of effort to sit down and type this.  But then again that’s one of my goals.  To make writing a habit.

I tip my hat to single mothers, single fathers, stay home moms, working parents and those of you out there who handle your habits (good and bad) with grace.  Thanks to all the positive and inspiring bloggers.  Keep writing.  You guys give me inspiration and steam to keep going.

The Importance of a Touch

This will be the most difficult week ever.

Two nights ago I felt a small bump on my eye lid, which last night started tingling.  Oh great! who gets a zit on their eye lid?  When I woke up this morning, I went to the urgent care since the tingling had escalated to a burning sensation.  After a short wait, as I was the first patient to get there after they opened, I saw the doctor and she told me that I had shingles.

Shingles comes from the chickenpox virus and it comes out during times of stress.  Oh yes, have I been under quite a bit of stress.  The kind of stress that tires you out and no amount of sleep can make up for it.  Not that I’ve gotten much sleep anyways.  Another thing about shingles is that I cannot touch anyone who hasn’t had the chickenpox yet, or risk giving it to them.  Now I have a three year old and a one year old who have not had chickenpox.  Ahhh, yes.  I am their primary care taker and I just love hugging, kissing, cuddling and holding them.

A little over a year ago, I woke up in the morning to Trystan crying.  He had been sleeping in his toddler bed and hadn’t really cried much recently.  He usually just wakes up and goes into our room, then climbs into bed with us.  I got up out of bed and walked across the hall into his room.  He was laying in his bed wearing a red onesie with yellow stripes and he smelled of poop.  Oh, poor kid.  I grabbed the wipes and the diapers and proceeded to unzip his onesie only to discover that the poop had gone up his back, down his legs and basically everywhere.  If he slept through the whole ordeal, onesie would have marinated my poor little chicken in peas, corn, grit and sauce.  I quickly carried him to the bathroom like a hot potato.  He continued to cry.  I took his onesie off, carefully keeping the marinade from leaking and put it in the sink.  He cried.  I started the shower and adjusted the temperature.  He cried and started walking towards me with arms outstretched.  I put my hand on his head and arched my body to create the farthest distance between me and him. “No!!! Stay right there!  Ahhh.” I said firmly with the emotion of “ew” (disgust) unconceale-able in my voice.  He cried, and looked me in the eyes.  I saw it in his brown innocent baby eyes and my disgust melted.  “Wait!” I said as I quickly undressed and gave him a hug.  I held my baby for a moment rubbing his slick and gritty back, holding him close to me until his crying settled down a bit.  Then I carried him into the shower to wash him off.

This morning, I saw the same look in Zoey’s eyes when she came to give me a hug as I curled up on the couch.  This is going to be a tough week.