I looked up from the kitchen island to check on the Dynamic Duo. My son sat enthralled on the floor, accenting his finger-pointing at the television screen with “Oohs” and “Aahs,” while my daughter reclined on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and cradling her stuffed Piglet.
Lately they’ve become completely obsessed with ocean life: ocean puzzles, ocean books, cheap-ass toy fishing poles with magnetic fish to “catch,” and anything involving Finding Nemo or The Little Mermaid. On this particular morning they’d begged me to put on one of their new favorite DVDs–the “Shallow Seas” episode of the Planet Earth series, which is now known in our house simply as “The Fishies.”
While they were caught up in the sheer awesomeness that is “The Fishies,” I had seized the opportunity to crack open my laptop and attend to PhD shenanigans.
Two brand new sets of lunch bags and Thermoses (Thermi?) on the far counter caught my eye as I penned a particularly riveting email. We recently registered the Twins to start “school” in July and my wife–ever the planner–has ALREADY secured rad new Hello Kitty and Spider-Man lunchtime gear in anticipation. No, this isn’t the parent-child class I’ve previously mentioned. Our children will soon be attending a new “big-kid” all-day school program a few days a week–one they’ll be attending without Daddy waiting in the wings (which works out well because Daddy’s about to start on his dissertation).
We’re also mere days from launching PottyTrainingFest 2013, an event we know the Twins are ready for, as my daughter now literally approaches me with a clean diaper in hand, saying, “Daddy, I pee-peed.” (Why couldn’t THAT have caught on sooner?) Although their new school helps with potty training and even does diapers, the idea is for us to do the bulk of the work at the Pseudonymous World Headquarters and send them out into the field with a License to Potty.
Repeated viewing of any movie allows you to catch things you didn’t notice the first time, and so when one has seen a film enough times to recite it ad nauseum, one is bound to look beyond the suspension of disbelief most viewers enjoy, dissect its every nuance, and discover gaping holes in the story’s logic. If there’s any movie that fits this description for me, it’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Not only do the Twins request it at least three times a week, it was also a VHS my two younger sisters would loop at least three times a day when we were growing up. (Fun fact: When the Twins are at my mom’s house, they watch that very same VHS. It still plays perfectly.) It has recently occurred to me that–by my half-assed calculations–this incessant exposure to The Little Mermaid places it comfortably at the top of my all-time most-viewed movies list. While I’d prefer my chart-topper to be something badass like The Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future, I guess it could be worse, right? (I’m looking at you, The Chronicles of Riddick.) Anyway, apparently watching The Little Mermaid has become my life’s work, so I feel it is my duty as an expert in this field to share the following observations I’ve made over the years, to further enhance your own Mermaid-viewing experience:
1. We still haven’t seen the second Hobbit movie. Peter Jackson has worked way too hard for it to go unseen.
2. I would not finish the Ph. D. I’ve been toiling over for years and would have no choice but to throw a hissy fit in the afterlife, surely banning me from all future John Lennon concerts–all because the Mayans couldn’t find anymore paper.
3. It would prevent us from seeing whether Science will fulfill the prophecies of hoverboards, self-drying jackets, and flying cars in 2015, as set forth by Back to the Future 2.
4. It would really be a bummer to not watch the Twins grow up–to never see Little League games and dance recitals, Christmas pageants and graduations, to never walk my daughter down the aisle, to never spoil my grandchildren rotten. Seriously, Mayans, what’s your frickin’ problem?
5. Despite the divisiveness the election caused, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and the atrocity in Connecticut, there is still just too much good in the world for us to throw in the towel just yet.
Don’t stop believin’, society!
When working on a dissertation, one of the most crucial components is its research question. It is the argument’s overall purpose–essentially the question the author aims to answer with his or her kajillion-page opus. Having waded through an obscene amount of academic literature on possible topics for the better part of this summer, I recently sat down to take my first stab at my own research question, and thought I’d share some of the questions that didn’t quite make the cut:
1. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, who gives a crap?
2. What are the longitudinal physiological and psychological effects of allowing an old man to knick knack on various parts of one’s body prior to rolling home?
3. To what extent does a random sample of people report whether or not they let the dogs out?
4. Where’s Waldo? (A Case Study)
5. In the event of seeing a little silhouette-o of a man, will a sample population do the fandango? And furthermore, in the presence of very, very frightening thunderbolts and lightning, will they let him go? (The researchers hypothesize that bismilah, no, they will not let him go, even despite numerous protests.)
In addition to my groundbreaking research on closet zombies and whatever sustainability is, my Ph. D. program has also provided the opportunity to learn computer programming–something I’ve wanted to do for years but never had the time or resources.
This has had to happen fairly quickly, as on the first day of the semester, one of my professors had my classmates and me each introduce ourselves along with our programming experience, since it would be a foundational element of the class. Having been awake since 3:15 am with my sick son, I’d just chugged two Venti coffees in order to be a functional human being, so as you can probably imagine I was already feeling incredibly chipper and eager to learn.
I grimaced as I listened to my colleagues’ alien technobabble:
“Most of my experience is in Java Frappuccino Monty Python Venom Script with Pirate Eyepatch Death Star Optimization Support.”
“I’ve dabbled in C-Minus-Plus-Ampersand Continuum Transfunctioners, but I’m most comfortable with Skynet Flux Capacitors.”
“I created the Allspark.”
Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless: So are you still being Mr. Mom?
Me: You know, the term “Dad” works just fine.
Sure, I could have just let it go. I could have replied, “Yes, I am still being Mr. Mom.” thus avoiding the awkward pause that ensued. Don’t take it personally, I used to tell myself. It’s just a (tired, lame, unfunny) joke. But this terminology is pinned on me often and I have recently decided I am done with just letting it go.
It’s not that I feel emasculated wrangling the Twins all week. I challenge any “man’s man” who thinks stay-at-home parenting is for sissies to actually try it for one day. (In fact, I imagine it could make for a thoroughly entertaining reality show, with each episode culminating in a grown man sobbing.) It’s definitely not easy, but at the same time it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Many fathers would jump at the opportunity to spend as much time with their children as I do, especially at this age. I blinked when they were eight months old and was suddenly thrown into a DeLorean which promptly accelerated to 88 miles per hour, traversing space and time to today, as I open my eyes and find them eleven months old. Until I can get the Flux Capacitor to flux again, I make an effort each day to take it all in (and document it in HD) because I know how fleeting babyhood is.
I was just about to fall asleep after an exhausting day of twin-wrangling.
They’re both crawling now–not full-on, up-on-their-knees crawling, but they are definitely proficient army-style creepers, swift enough to entangle themselves in dangerous twinanigans if I look away for even a few seconds.
Beside me in the bed laid my wife, whose mind was still apparently very much at work, contemplating important career decisions.
As I approached the threshold of sleep, it occurred to me that upon entering the dreamscape, my arch-nemesis Skeletor would undoubtedly be up to his usual antics, necessitating a DeLorean trip back in time during which I would need to orchestrate my then-teenage father decking that skull-faced a-hole outside the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance in the Castle Grayskull Gymnasium to create just enough of a diversion for me to hurl the Ring of Power into the Goblet of Fire, so that it could be displayed in a museum where it belongs. But just as I was unsheathing my Light Saber, a voice broke the silence, pulling me out of the Gumdrop Forest and back to reality.
The voice was my wife’s.
If I were Willy Wonka, I would have made a cheese factory instead of a candy factory.
If you had found me just then, I would have been dumb. Because I was dumbfounded. “Huh?” Those of you who are Loyal Readers are aware of my wife’s fascinating pillow talk contributions to our marriage.
“Think about it. There would be all kinds of cheese everywhere–a forest of cheese, a cheese river, cheese wallpaper, Everlasting Cheese-Gobstoppers that never go bad. It would be amazing.”
I weighed my wife’s idea carefully, critically, honestly, and came to a crucial decision. “That. Is. Phenomenal.”
“Yeah. Wonka really dropped the ball on that one.”
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If not, the answer may be cheese.