Sunday, January 30, 2011

Don't hate me because I shot your kid. Again and again and again.

The Middle of It.
It is 8 o'clock at night and the fire pit is starting to slowly die out as is most of the conversation at the party except for one asshole who just won't stop beating a dead horse.  The only things keeping the fire in my belly tamped is the Macanudo cigar in one hand, red keg cup of Molson Canadian in the other and the fact that everyone else is sticking up for me. 

The Beginning of It. 
One of Mo's friends on his football and basketball team had a birthday party. As most of the kids and by extension parents have all moved through this sports world as one big group we have all become close friends and have fairly awesome team parties. This last party, a birthday edition, enjoyed many highlights not the least of which was eight kids and eight adults playing airsoft, a more military clad version of Lazer Tag and Paintball.

After three years of weekend games and twice a week practices, you get a feeling for the other parents lives and hobbies. So it is pretty well known that I have a long colorful background in the infantry, that for a while I was a competitive paintball player and I shoot at the range more often than I eat fast food. Oh, yeah I am an endurance athlete too. It was mentioned more than once leading up to the party, by kids and adults alike, that I was going to be a prize target at airsoft and people couldn't wait to shoot me. I'll admit I was equal parts flattered and nervous. But read the tittle of this post again real quick. 

Quickly recapping the event and setting up the third act of this story, I pretty much dominated every game and  everyone knew it, except one guy. Not a team parent but birthday boy's uncle, whom I'd never met, but knew of my reputation.  Of the eight or nine games we played I was shot three times total, as opposed to everyone else that was shot two or more times, per game. After each game there was more than one story of how I shot them this way or that way or chased them down. Some mothers watching from the control tower inside the course called me an assassin and crazy-scary out there the way I cleared room to room. And they backed up that I was playing fair. 

The End of It. 
It started innocently enough after a couple of games when the uncle loudly opened a post game dialog across a crowded room:
Adult: "I hit you like two times in a row and you just kept playing."
Me: "Oh wow, I'm sorry man. I swear I didn't feel anything or see you shoot me."
Multiple kids: "I didn't shot you. You shot me right in the leg/chest/helmet. That game was awesome!"

After another game:
Adult:: "That shirt must be really heavy because I shot you in the back and you just kept playing."
Me: "Oh, I'll take it off and play in my UnderArmor. I don't want anyone to think I'm cheating."
Mother:  "No you will not. You're not going to take off your protection just because he say's your not playing fair. Keep your shirt on."

Adult: "I got you right in the arm in that room with all the barrels."
Me: "I swear man, you didn't hit me. A bunch of my teammates were right next to me and none of us got hit. I did get shot by a big group of kids in a hallway...
Adult: "Yeah and you just kept playing."
Me: "No, I went to the time out area for ten seconds, and came back in."
Adult 2: "Yeah I got shot at the same time, we went together."

This played out constantly after each game so you get the point and carried over into the post party.

The Party.
I suppose my current state of mind is trying to find a saner place to live because at the post party, I seriously did not want to argue with this guy if I got shot or not and how many times that may or may not have happened. I had over a dozen people who all told stories about how great I played, how I moved, how I cleared rooms, how I stopped to help kids with their rifles in the game, none singing my praise louder than my dear Mighty Mo.

Maybe it was the adults, both playing and not, coming to my defense that allowed me to keep silent. They validated that in reality I lived up to the hype and some flat out said he did not shoot me.  But it was annoying to have my abilities chipped away like that. Rewritten so that one dad could, I don't know, feel better about how he did, for some reason thinking that a long remembered outing for his nephew would not be remembered for how well everyone did but for the fun it was to watch me play. I suppose he follows the adage, "When no one is special, everyone is special." I never met the man before or said a cross word to him. I know we traded shots a few times but I don't think I ever hit him. Nor, honestly do I (or anyone else) think he ever hit me.

Why this somewhat gratuitous story?  Because I am the 'man' at war games with people who have never fired a real gun in their life?  No. Hardly. Because this translates into a lot of different areas in our lives. When you're in the zone at work, one person is always trying to bring you down a notch, saying your fed leads or the boss likes you. In life, how many people have told you that you can't do something, not because you can't, because they can't.

It is rare in life for people to stick up for you. It is unique to be respected for dominance in a sport or event, it being far easier for someone to accuse or diminish your results so eyes and ears are on their ego and not your accomplishment.  I am just lucky that so many people disagreed with his position of me, so much so that I didn't need to be engaged with him and give him more of the power he wanted.

I mean, we could just go back there and see who really hits who?  Right?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Review of Therm-a-Rest Tech Blanket - Regular

Originally submitted at REI

Part of the Therm-a-Rest Comfort System, this blanket offers bedlike comfort on the go.

Tech blanket = Travel perfect

By comm from Mesa, Az on 1/15/2011


4out of 5

Pros: Soft, Easy To Clean, Comfortable

Cons: Price

Best Uses: Summer, Indoor sleeping

Describe Yourself: High-end Shopper

I am 5'10", 180 lbs and found the Regular size to be too small for my liking. Width was fine as a throw quilt but too short in length. For an adult male I would only recommend the Large size.

I would say that the Tech Blanket is very compatible to the GI poncho liner, the venerated 'Woobie'. A little thicker but it will pack smaller.

It can be used as part of a back country sleep system but the range is at best a windless 50 degrees without adding layers. My primary use is indoors.

It will keep you warm when its cold and keep you comfortable when its hot. Pack-ability is a strong point for its temp rating and takes the guessing out of how comfortable you will be when staying overnight at the relatives. When driving to destinations its fought over by everyone as a blanket or pillow (when packed).

Coupled with the fitted sheet and the neoair mattress (both therm-a-rest), you can sleep anywhere, anytime in comfort with very little space used in your luggage.

My only con is price. At this time a Large tech blanket is approx. $60. A Woobie is half the cost. If the price was $40 I think the price point open up their demographic.


Friday, January 14, 2011

A Mighty Mo Update

It seems this blog has become a book recounting the life of my son. As it is as much a part of the fabric of my life and my own, it must be included. Plus, hundreds of people have become invested in my son over the last eight years and this is sometimes important stuff. 

Next week Wednesday, Mo goes in for a procedure. The procedure is actually multiple invasives that will allow his doctors to look at his system from his teeth to his rectum. Nothing will be left unobserved. This kind of has to be done from both sides. By my reckoning this will be around the seventh time he has been put under. 

The work will not be done there. While he is under the doctors will put a transmitter in his esophagus which will measure acid levels from his stomach, which they believe are contributing to the spasms, nausea, vomiting and ulcers.  For 48 hours it will transmit readings every 5 minutes to a receiver he will wear on his waist. 

To prepare for these procedures he had to go off of all his meds on Thursday. On Friday, the next day, Mistress received a call from the school nurse, Mo was rolling around on the bed in pain. He said it felt like a shark was eating his stomach. We decided to give him one of his emergency med's kept at the school and it worked. These med's were for last resorts and yet he has had one each Friday for the last few weeks. While I personally do not believe in coincidence, no one believes he is using his condition as an excuse.

Already expecting that being off his med's would be a hardship on all of us, we have prepared for issues that will certainly arise. Luckily, Monday is a school vacation day and both of us will be home to help after he is home from the hospital. 

I will try to put in a blog post that is me centered between now and then.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A (re)telling of a Mo tale

The summer of 2010 was time of great emotional stress for my family. I thought I had written about it but perhaps I needed some distance from living it to it becoming a historical narrative before I could process everything. There was a lot of ups and downs but one story has become Mighty Mo lore at our family table and worth a mention here.

I suppose there was some point in our lives where Mistress and I thought telling these stories were self-serving.  We long ago removed our ego or thought of personal praise or reward in telling these simply because what we witness as daily living is to others if not a childlike miracle than a deep well of empathy and emotional intelligence and understanding that is wholly disproportionate to a child who has lived less than eight years. My only term to describe it is a gravity that draws people to him in a way unlike any overt convention of charisma or charm.

As I said the early summer of 2010 was rough on the family. Mo was having some really horrible side effects from his advancing auto-immune disease. He has been on drugs since the day he was born and this current panel had started to become ineffective. For a few weeks we sat and discussed with doctors true quality of life issues and quantity of life. Discussing the removal of large portions of his liver and intestines and wearing a colostomy bag at 7 years old as the best case scenario and maybe not making it to 12 years old at all, it becomes overwhelming.

Luckily by mid summer we were able to try some experimental drugs for his age and cleanse out his system so that his liver no longer resembled that of a 40 year of alcoholics and his body could handle his daily meds once again. This meant a move to more powerful drugs for his daily requirements as well.

Now earlier in 2010, my grandfather (mom’s dad) moved in with my parents.  We had never really interacted but was a welcome addition to our dynamic. Mo would spend not hours, but significant time nevertheless, sitting with his great grandfather and talking about all sorts of topics that people separated by 80 years of life could.

In the middle of summer, he started to enter his final stages of life and my parents were forced to put him into assisted living. Over the two weeks he was there before passing he was more comfortable but sleeping more and interacting less with the world. My mom and Mistress would go there almost daily to sit and talk hoping that he would hear the words.  Mo did not ask, he demanded, insisted on going.

After on sitting he and Mistress were walking out of the room and Mo asks if there were people like great grandfather in the other rooms like other kids in the other rooms when he is at the hospital.  Mistress said yes. Mo asks if their mommy’s and daddy’s come to see these people like at the kids hospital.  Mistress had to explain that these people here are old and all their mommy’s and daddy’s died a long time ago.

Mo asks who then comes to see these people, if their mommy’s and daddy’s don’t and Mistress explains that if they are lucky a relative will come to see them like he does with his great grandpa. Mo looked up at his mom and says, “I think I am going to talk to some of them when I come back tomorrow since their family can’t.”

Sure enough, the next day after Mo had sat with his great grandfather, holding his hand, talking about Star Wars and interesting things to a soon to be first grader, he walked out of the room and into the room next door. He walked to the side of the bed of a man he did not know and was not awake. He reached out, held the persons hand and introduced himself.  He then sat and just spoke for several minutes about his day and hoped he was okay.  This repeated two more times.

None of them acknowledged Mo and he seemingly did not care. Hopefully, these people could hear at least something that was being said to bring them some comfort. Maybe thinking that a grandchild had finally come to see them.   

It took all of his mothers ability to not cry, several of the nurses on staff lost their resolve once they realized this little boy was walking from room to room of his own accord.  His great grandfather passed a few days later.  Whatever becomes of Mo, it will always be known he was boy of deep empathy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Mighty Mo Update

I have had this blog now for many years and not been shy describing the affects of the auto immune disease that Mighty Mo has dealt with since the day of his birth. Medically its a version of Colitis but with all cases he has unique affects to his body and medically he is one of the youngest cases doctors have ever seen so some of this is new territory for them to travel as some of the drugs he has been on have never been prescribed to someone so young. 

Since last summers "quality/quantity of life scare" Mo has been on some pretty strong drugs for his age. They had been working but the side affects are pretty strong. However, it now seems like a point of diminishing returns. The doctors are not sure if the body is having a problem with the drugs or if the disease is progressing or morphing.  Regardless, when his stress levels go up, from physical to emotional to personal perception of a situation, he gets really sick and it causes some violent and painful reactions to his body.   

Today, the third Friday in a row, he is having this issue. Unfortunately its the first Friday back to school break., so school called to seek advice. Mo, despite the vomiting, spasms, stabbing pain and whatnot, knows he is not contagious and wants to stay. He figures he is going to feeling bad, might as well stick around. He's a trooper. 

Kind of weird territory for Mistress and I. We are not used to his 'mature' input on what he wants to do. At 7 years old, we usually make the decisions for him in his best interest. Here today, he is deciding to stick it out when we would pull him out.  So he stays for now. 

Everyday he teaches more about dealing with adversity in a positive way than anyone on this planet. 

In the next few weeks he going to have a pretty extensive scope.  All the way from the top to bottom and bottom to top, from mouth to rectum to check the progress of the condition. There is no cure on management and hope it doesn't get any worse. They will also attach a transmitter inside him while he is under and with a receiver he will wear for 48 hours, every 5 minutes it will transmit data that can be used to further aid our information. 

This kid is a super trooper. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another road trip

I've been busier than I ever expected since I got the opportunity to take some time off starting in November. I figured I would be stress free and training hard. It really hasn't gone exactly as that but I am having a really fun time doing whatever it is I am doing. I don't miss the headaches of customer service and employee issues. I have misplaced my phone for a day or two at a time and I don't realize it. I took off my watch and forgot to put it on for a week. I think the best part has been the enjoyment of spending all of Mighty Mo's school vacation with him. 

There was the ten day family road trip to Disneyland, Fishermans Wharf, Alcatraz and Sacramento for a massive 60+ family dinner (with many relatives missing).  I schedule some days to-do lists based on what movie matinĂ©e I want to see. I have done day hikes in the middle of the week, stayed up all night playing video games because I can. It has been at or near freezing here at night so I run when I want after it warms up. Crack a beer at 11am because its 5 o'clock somewhere and theres a Family Guy marathon on tv. Today is, I think, Wednesday and I spent the afternoon at IKEA with my wife helping her buy a tea cup display cabinet. Who knew they had those! 

Tomorrow I leave for a road trip with my dad. I wish it was to some exotic destination for fishing but instead its back to Sacramento to watch my brother receive a  very prestigious award only given to Infantrymen. For you military readers out there, it's not one of the usual Army infantry medals, it's a Something of St. Something and it comes with a wide ass ribbon and garish medal you wear award your neck. I shouldn't be so flippant, its a important award and I am proud of him. 

We are going to waylay at my Godfathers for a day to hang out and eat sushi, then all drive up to the function. Then pick up one of our fishing/hiking buddies and drive to my Godfathers cabin in the Sierra's for a few days to again hang out, watch the BCS bowl game Monday night and I can do some snow training. The cabin is over 7,000 feet and was told today that there is 15' of untouched snow on the ground and about 5' in areas that people try to clear like around houses and driveways. Should be fun.  

I suppose we could be worried about being snowed in, but they are all retired and I guess for right now, I am too. Its not like any of us have to be anywhere next week. Though Mo is having a pretty serious procedure scheduled for sometime within the next two weeks. I shouldn't miss that. More on that situation in my next post in a few days. 

Till then, I really do hope that everyone had a great holiday season and a happy New Year. It's not enough to exist. You got to live.