3 Years Later

Well, Mom – it’s been three years and we still miss you. For some reason, Lucy decided to pull out the book with your recorded voice reading “Twinkle Twinkle”, and well, shit — it was tough, but nice to hear your voice. I recently called the home number where your voice still graces the voice mail informing people that no one from the Fox family is available to take their call. Unfortunately, dad hasn’t figured out how to delete messages, and so your words have been replaced with an automated message stating “The voice mail box number you have tried to reach is full.” Bummer. I think you still exist in the technological ether, but due to our general incompetence, and a lack of interest in receiving messages, we might not reclaim your regrets in missing a call anytime soon.

At any rate, it was nice to hear you again. Kaya doesn’t quite get the cemetery yet. She knows it’s where we take dead people, but due to some inclement weather, and a mild case of windburn, she might not be too inclined to visit in the winter months moving forward. All this is to say, enjoy the flowers, and we’ll bring champagne in June.

The girls are all incredible reminders of your legacy. I recently took them to see a movie about the Day of the Dead. In this movie, every lost soul parties in the afterlife. In this film, all of the deceased remain in this world so long as there is someone on Earth who still remembers and honors their soul. In the unlikely scenario that this is actually the case, I’d like you to know, that your extended stay in this world is in no jeopardy – so live it up (pun intended.)

Lucy was born a few months before we you received your diagnosis, and while you were alive, I was able to measure exactly how long you’d been involved in this cancer brouhaha. You’d been given an 18 month expiration date, and I thought it was totally kick ass how you exceeded those expectations. Then Kaya was born, and you died. Now I am able to measure exactly how long you’ve been gone by Kaya’s age. There’s something poetic about that – not sure what – I guess, because I’m not a poet – but the phrase felt right, so I’ll let it stand.

In your absence, Lucy has become a full fledged big girl. She cares for her sisters (yes, plural, I’ll get to that), she has a keen fashion sense -she’s in to long dresses and Amish-like bonnets – daddy’s little mennonite- and posses a steel trap of a memory — she hasn’t forgotten you, nor a single promise I have ever made in utter desperation for peace and tranquility.

Kaya talks, and cries and picks her nose, and does lots of big kid stuff too. Her language skills are, well, developing. She can’t say the sounds of “K” or “C” – and replaces them with “T’s”. For instance, “School” is “Stool” as in – I like stool. And “Kitty Cat” is “Titty Tat.” She also likes titties. We laugh at her a lot. I’m haven’t matured much.

And on to some more big news – we have another baby – Grace Percy Fox. She’s worth looking at. Full head of hair, big smiles, quite flirty and real cute. She doesn’t sleep anymore. She did at first – which I really appreciated, but now… let’s just say I may or may not know where the local fire department, and “safe drop zone” are located. You’d have liked her. Other people do – including dad, and he has good taste.

Speaking of dad – he misses you a lot. We all do. I remember when you got sick, Vegas posted some bets about who would live longer – you, dad or the dog. Dad was the initial under-dog. Not sure if you are aware of this – but you lost, and dad is in a tight battle with the dog. Just kidding – they both seem pretty good. Just got back from Christmas in Milwaukee, and they are both alive. The dog is a little fat. Dad, not so much, but somehow he finds a viable amount of sustenance in coffee and raisin bread. He’s been a great parent and taken on the responsibility of filling the love quota previously demanded of two parents. You groomed him well, and should be commended.

Your other son, now known as Doctor Fox is a good guy. Happy, healthy, a best friend, husband and father. His kid Chappie is so flippin’ cute. He’s taken to mobility much like his old man, and from what I gather, likes to smash things and ooze adorability. Good genes in that one, and yes, you get a lot of that credit as well.

Now on to more important things, me. I’m pretty good too. Life is busy, sometimes I get caught up in the rigors of fatherhood, and forget to sit back and fully appreciate everything you gave me, my good looks, sense of humor and so on. Every now and then a memory or our time together crops up and brings me closer to you. Remember the time we went to Florida to pick up that old Cadillac. Man, I’m not sure who was cooler, me for wanting an 88 Caddy, or you for agreeing to get it with me. I remember driving home listening to a book on tape. I didn’t even really like the story, some slow developing southern murder mystery – but I loved just being with you; just the two of us. As we pulled into the motel parking lot, we reached a critical moment in the story, and you sat there in the parking lot with me, just listening for probably 30 minutes. You fell asleep, started snoring even, and I distinctly remember thinking – man, my mom is the best.

I was watching ESPN tonight. One of their anchors, Stewart Scott died today – cancer. They played a speech of his, from just 10 days ago, and I was sitting there fighting back tears. I got a sore throat just trying to keep it contained. He talked about how dying from cancer doesn’t mean you lost. You beat cancer by how you lived. And I just wanted to congratulate you on beating cancer, 3 years and running. You are my hero, and I will always love you.

And for everyone reading this – enjoy your day, your life, and everyone who fills it with happiness. In the immortal words of my great uncle Chappie Fox – “You Can’t Beat Fun” So go out and have some.

Love,

The Big Avocado

PS – The Packers have a big game next Sunday. Put in a good word with the Big Man if you have a sec. Thanks.

PPS – A couple pictures of your loved ones:

That one time she slept... briefly

That one time she slept… briefly

Kaya - has her granny's happiness

Kaya – has her granny’s happiness

They love him a ton

They love him a ton

Lucy- growing up fast

Lucy- growing up fast

At your new digs

At your new digs

Christmas 14

Christmas 14

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While You Were Gone… (An Apology of Sorts)

 

photo-7

See? She’s fine.

Dearest Marie (my wife),

Let me start by saying, you know I love you, right? Cause I do- like more than most people love most everything, even the stuff they love the most. You mean that much to me. So, basically, I just wanted to start with that, and then catch you up on the going-ons of the Fox household since you dipped across the pond (That means – went to England, right? I’m all types of cultured.)

About Kaya. Where to start? Ok, how bout here – uh, she has a dread lock. Maybe two – I don’t know; the rat’s nest behind her head is kind of intense. I’m starting to realize the whole, brushing her hair at night thing served a purpose beyond beauty, so…my bad. Maybe I’ll cut it out. JUST KIDDING! HA! See? I’m still funny, right? I’ll have the nanny help me. She has dreads too, probably knows what to do…

What else… (thinking)… OK, so there’s this, I haven’t really said the “no” word yet. Call it the path of least resistance. Look, I just didn’t want to upset her – and she seemed to get so worked up every time I gave any inclination that a negative response was coming her way. She’s becoming a great negotiator, much like her sister. I’m starting to realize the error of my ways. Allow me to explain with another story, wrapped inside another admission of guilt.

As you remember, it was my birthday on the day you left. I had a lot of Diet Cokes that night, and it kept me up very late. And when Kaya woke up at 6:45, without a caffeine hangover, I didn’t know what else to do. I gave her my phone and asked if she knew “Whinny the Pooh.” She was quite eager to meet him, and she had about a 45 minute hangout sesh with him while I continued to get beautiful (by sleeping). Around 7:30, this happened again. And at 8:15, I jumped out of bed – did 100 push ups, and 100 sit ups, shaved and sang a song!

Next morning:

(6:40 AM, just a little earlier than the previous morning (she’s very clever))

Kaya: I aunt bideo.

Me: (No response)

Kaya: Dada, I aunt bideo.

Me: (No Response)

Kaya then began to pet my eyebrows. Then she started to tap my eye lid. I don’t know what I thought would happen, I was just so tired, so I kept ignoring her. Then she took her game next level and stuck a finger up my nose. I woke up.

Me: KAYA! What the <unintelligible curse> do you want?

Kaya: I aunt poo.

Me: You need to poo?

Kaya: I aunt watch Poo.

Me: Oh, Winnie – that’s better. Didn’t feel like changing a diaper right about now. Here’s the video.

And thus, I set off a terrible reaction. Waking up has a new step in the routine. We should brainstorm some solutions.

I wish this post ended here, but…

We’re out of pancakes, waffles, cookies, mac n’ cheese, syrup and ice cream. On the bright side, all of the vegetables are still in the veggie bin, although they look a little soggy. I think the fridge might be having some problems.

We’re also out of diapers. I rationed them as best I could (1, maybe 2 a day – max) but still, we need to go shopping.

Kaya is really into repeating things. She’s getting so smart. I might, MIGHT, have heard her say – “you’re really pissing me off.” I think I said it to the dog once. Not her. If she tells you otherwise, she’s a total liar. True(ish) story.

I did a lot of laundry, so that’s cool, right? It’s in the laundry baskets. You’re better at folding, and you like it so much… just wanted you to feel important. I’m that kind of guy (a good one.)

If you’re wondering where that thing is that used to be in that place, it’s probably somewhere else. This doesn’t refer to anything specifically, but rather all of her books, toys, and anything else that used to be organized. Rest assured – it’s somewhere.

Also, I’m not sure where she got that Barbie. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the body type that doll promotes? Totally unrealistic. We should really talk to her about that.

What else, what else… oh yeah, the browsing history on the computer has been deleted. I think the power went out in the computer room, so if you notice that — totally normal.

Look, we had a great time. I learned a lot. Consistency works, especially when you consistently give her EVERYTHING she wants. She’s a really happy kid in said circumstances. Apparently, ice cream and pizza are her favorite things to eat. She told me every morning. Did I mention we are out of ice cream? Pizza too. Let’s add that to the shopping list. Also, “No” means “NO”. I now know that. And I think every boy she ever meets will as well. She’s so strong; our little girl is growing up so fast.

OK, that’s about it. Can’t wait to see you. We’ve missed you.

Love,

Papa Avocado.

PS – hope you brought me some cool stuff from England – I totally earned it.

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Happy Birthday, to Me!

34 (?) years later.

34 (?) years later.

“Well, well, well… what do we have here?” you ask yourself, as your face lights up by the news of a Big Avocado Blog in your inbox/ Facebook feed. “This lazy shit finally wrote something.” Isn’t it just like Steve to make a comeback on his own birthday? Guy probably wants some birthday love.”

You, sir (or madame) are correct! It is my birthday today – 35! It’s been a fun ride thus far, and in anticipation of all your heartfelt, “likes” on my Facebook page, I thought I’d start you off with a “thank you,” and a gift – this post. Among the skills and attributes my aging persona has lost over time, vanity is not among them. So without further ado – the birthday post.

I’m a fortunate person. Life has given me much, and now I’d like to return the favor. I formally announce – #3 is on the way. Yeah, that’s right. Sex happened again. And another baby is half-brewed – due late August. I’m not rooting for a boy or a girl, nor do I “know,” but… IT’S A BOY!!! I’ve been wrong on the last 2, so I’m kind of playing the odds here, but I’m pretty sure this one will have a penis and two balls. Even have a name picked out – William Percy Fox – who will be known as “Percy”. William is my dad’s name (much respect due) and Percy is my mother’s maiden name. We’ll call him “Percy” in honor of my mom, cause she’s dead. Dad – we would have called him “William”, maybe even “Bill”, but you’re really dragging your feet on that whole dying thing, so, your loss.

In the rare case that I’m wrong, we’ve run some girl names through the public opinion poll, and have some options. Only problem is, most girl names that end in Fox (my sur-name) end up sound a little hookerish (exceptions being all living Fox women. Your names sound very classy.)

Feel free to weigh in on this decision — but here are the front runners.

<Conversation with my wife>

Me: How about Diamond?

Wife: (silence)

Me: What about Silk?

Wife: That’s a man’s name.

Me: Get the shit out of here – you know a dude named “Silk?”

Wife: I wish. Cool name for a man. REALLY cool name for a woman.

Me: So, Silk it is?

Wife: (Silence)

Me: Oh yeah, sarcasm. How about Beatrice?

Wife: I’ve always dreamed of birthing a 90 year old woman.

Me: “B”  -it’s cute/cool. I’d be all like, “Sup, B?” And my daughter would be like, “Sup, pops?!” We’d have a really great relationship.

Wife: Next.

Me: Valerie?

Wife: Valerie- cute. Valerie Fox? Ho.

Me: You’re kind of yucking my yum, dude. I suppose you have some ideas?

Wife: I like Anna-Lee.

Me: 2 names? Is that what your secret hill-billy lover is pushing? I bet it is, you tramp.

Wife: I’m 4 months pregnant. Not that calling me a tramp is ever legit, but dude…

Me: Tramp blast- recinded. Still, veto privilege evoked.

Me: How about June?

Wife: Wow – I kind of like that. Classic, cute. How’d you come up with it?

Me: JKL! Alphabet soup! (J)une, (K)aya, (L)ucy.

Wife: You kind of ruined it.

Me: Psssht, I should TOTALLY be in marketing.

Wife: (Silence).

Me: I’ll take that as a yes.

So, I am formally introducing Percy/June Fox to the world. Y’all great ready. More blonds, more minivans, more awesome is right around the corner.

OK, back to my birthday – time to thank everyone for the gifts they’ve already delivered.

To my wife, thank you for leaving the country and stranding me, on my birthday, with the psychopath 2-year old Kaya for the next week as you travel over seas. I’d like to preemptively blame the burned down house on her, and promise our new digs are going to be even more awesome.  Thanks for facilitating that.

(On a side note – she feels hella guilty, so this really is just a joke – have fun flying with Lucy for 15 hours tomorrow. Sounds awesome!)

To our nanny – thanks for moving in for the next 9 days. I know you are currently committed to only daytime hours while I’m at work, but I’m assuming you’ll come to your senses/my aid and just move in, change all the diapers, make all the food, walk the dog, and generally insure our health and relative well-being in my wife’s absence. I’m helpless. You know this. Do it for my wife. She likes me (usually), you like her, whaddaya say?.

And lastly, thank you to everyone willing to participate in the following experiment: Give me a call and say happy birthday with your voice box. The older I’ve gotten, the more removed I’ve become. Full disclosure – I’m the guy who writes, “Go Shortie” on all of your birthday updates. I call nearly no one. Technology has limited me to photo documentation of life, random Facebook posts, and similar passive outreach to most of my friends – even the best of ones. I don’t even really like to talk to people on the phone anymore – so this year, (or at least today) I’m going to take this shit old school and let you know with audio that I’m alive and would love to hear from you.

You don’t need to know me well, or even at all. I have a few Facebook friends who exist only in a virtual sense. YOU, yes, all of you are invited to say, “hi” today. I’m taking my daughter to see Rio 2 around 10 – PST, so out of courtesy to my fellow film connoisseurs, I won’t answer during that time, but most of the day is fair game after that. My brain function is, at best, average – so please start your conversation with- Hey, I know you from this (enter relevant information) part of life and I want to say, happy birthday, or hi, or whatever. I promise to hangup on you within 30 seconds because it would be so awkward otherwise. And this way – totally natural. Don’t be shy. Everyone’s invited. I’m hoping for at least one stranger. Let’s make dreams come true people. My dreams.

###.###.####

* I just had my wife read this- and she discouraged me putting my phone number on the Internet, message me should you need it.

So with that being said – Happy birthday, to me!

The Big Avocado.

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Me, Myself and I

I know this crazy scientist. He thinks I’m pretty cool and asked if I’d like to try out his time traveling device. I said, “Doc – I have absolutely nothing to do. No job. No need for a nap (just took one.) Kids are basically raising themselves. I’ve got lots of original ideas – I’m your Huckleberry.

<I jump into a convertible Chrysler – this baby owns the space/time continuum.>

Doc: Where to, chief?

Me: Wherever. Let’s do this thing.

<Dramatic entrance! Smoke! Fire! Cool science-y sounds! And some lightning. End up face to face with myself circa 2009. (Shittier plot lines exist – don’t judge me)>

Future Steve: Oh. Hey. Don’t be alarmed. It’s me. I mean you. From the future. Thought I was going to change the world. Guess I’ll talk to you (me) instead.

Young Steve: I’ve never felt so important. This seems really logical. Good to meet you/ me? I’m not alarmed at all.

FS: Good. Since I’m here, how’s about I chat you up you about stuff, and whatever. Especially as it might relate to kids, since I (we?) have a couple of them.

YS: A couple, eh? I’ve got some sex coming my way. Sweet!

FS: Yeah, you wind up with a clone of Lucy. Except she likes to sleep.

YS: Word. Does Lucy ever start sleeping?

FS: When she’s 4.

YS: 4? I give that a fart noise and two thumbs down. So, what’s the deal here? I can ask you anything?

FS: Might as well. Shoot.

YS: What happens to mom?

FS: Jesus dude. For real? That’s how you want to kick this thing off?

YS: Fine, you got some winning lotto numbers or something? Who wins the Super bowl?

FS: I think we both saw Back to the Future 2, and neither one of us would feel comfortable sharing or knowing that information.

YS: We are hella smart.

FS: Ya heard?

YS: Ya feel me?!

FS: Mom dies.

YS: Whoa dude! Sucker punch to the dick. Keep those gloves up champ.

FS: My bad. I’ll work on my bedside manner.

YS: Jesus. How’s it go down? When’s this shit taking place?

FS: Don’t spend your time worrying about it. Just have fun until then.

YS: Fair enough. I figure I’ve got up to 10 years left?

FS: What do you mean?

YS: You’ve gotta be like 40, or something. And I’m only 30. So, you know … math.

FS: 40!? Fuck dude. Try 34.

YS: Say what?! What’s with the grey beard and hair?

FS: I just told you—Lucy doesn’t sleep until she’s 4 and mom dies. Enjoy your rapidly fading beauty.

YS: I am beautiful.

FS: No matter what they say.

YS: Whoa. Did you just quote Christina Aguilera?

FS: I might have just done that. I did, in fact. Yes.

YS: Is that what I listen to in the future? Very cool. That statement brought to you by sarcasm.

FS: You got jokes.

YS: Plus good looks, and athleticism too. Maybe a mild case of future depression.

FS: Guess what dick head. You’re about to blow your knee out.

YS: Biff. For reals?

FS: Yeah–sorry dude. It sucks.

YS: Give me some good news.

FS: Ok, here’s some helpful shit: The popular dances you should learn are called, the Dougie, the Bernie, and the Stanky Leg.

YS: On it. Will I be invited to any Bar Mitzvahs in order to show off these new moves sometime in the near future?

FS: No. Maybe make some adolescent Jewish friends. Actually—that’s some good advice. Thank you for helping me help you.

YS: Teamwork!

FS: All days, all ways.

YS: I like your style.

FS: I like how you handle your business, boss.

YS: Ok, young Jewish friends. What else?

FS: You should work on your language management around the kids.

YS: Yeah? They have some foul mouths?

FS: I blame their mother, but I did hear Lucy call her sister a “silly little bitch” yesterday.

YS: What? Are we allowed to say “bitch” in the future? I thought Marie wouldn’t let us?

FS: Still can’t say bitch. Or the P-word. But Lucy heard it from somewhere.

YS: What did you say to her?

FS: I told her not to say that word, and she responded by calling her sister a funny little bitch. Couldn’t tell if she was fucking with me. I’m guessing yes. Get used to that.

YS: How’s Dad?

FS: You’re not gonna believe this. He’s totally still alive. He doesn’t eat much. I’d say he survives through some form of photosynthesis, but I can’t be sure.

YS: Well, that’s cool, I guess. And Michael?

FS: Great. He’s gonna be a doctor. Married Lindsay. They just had a kid. Named him Chappie!

YS: I can dig it. So he’s a doctor? Baller. What are you?

FS: A writer.

YS: Get the F out. What are we writing?

FS: A blog.

YS: Oh. You mean a “writer.”

FS: Yeah. Actually, we’re unemployed. Maybe consider not quitting your job.

YS: Noted. What else are we up to?

FS: We play on a gay hockey team?

YS: I’m … gay?

FS: No, but most of the guys on the team are. They think you’re gay though. Probably has something to do with the pink shorts and polka-dot shoes I wore to the first game.

YS: Love to keep ’em guessing!

FS: Maybe consider getting in better shape. I’m not the player I used to be.

YS: Done. How ’bout I start running?

FS: Risky. Just drink lots of water.

YS: ?

FS: Trust me.

YS: So, let me get this straight. Don’t say the word “bitch” around Lucy. I’m going to blow my knee out. I’m sort of fat, have grey hair and a grey beard. I no longer have a job. Mom is dead, and Dad has turned into a plant. I catch everything?

FS: Yeah. And you’re really happy. Sounds a little crazy, but I want you to know that despite some shit coming your way, you’re still going to be really happy. The next kid totally helps. Marie is fantastic. No earthquakes, so that’s good. And, the Packers win a super bowl.

YS: YESSSSS!!!!!!

FS: Ok, don’t bet on it. Butterfly effect and all.

YS: All right, player. Thanks for the heads up. Be seeing you boss.

FS: Later young buck.

<End>

Please contact the Big Avocado for filming rights. Address can be found in the “About the Avocado” section. I think. If not, just leave a comment. I check every couple minutes.

– The Big Avocado(s)

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Mom?

Fuzzy sleep lines cloud my vision. Sound muffles out. I’m about to sleep. And then-

00000061

Mom: STEPHEN!

Me: Holy shit, MOM?!

Mom: Oh, my sweet favoritest little angel, I’ve missed you so much. How are you?

Me: Hold on. I’ve had this dream before. Are you dying?

Mom: No. I’m dead.

Me: Kind of anti-climatic, wouldn’t ya say?

Mom: Well, I’m dead, so I don’t really care.  Anyway – It’s mother’s day, and I thought I’d celebrate motherhood by swinging by to say hello.

Me: I’m sort of tripping. It’s not easy getting used to you being gone, ya know? Remember when you died?

Mom: Not really, I was pretty high. Not even sure on what. Next thing I know – pplbbbtt – dead.

Me: And then you took the form of a screech owl and hooted at me the next morning? I heard you! It gave me goose bumps – made me realize you would always be there for me, whether or not I knew it.

Mom: Wasn’t me.

Me: What?

Mom: Yeah, I don’t know what to say – just an owl, I guess.

Me: Well, where the F were you?

Mom: What is this, a psychology blog? Stick to the funny, dummy. I was dead, and now I’m here. Don’t over think it.

Me: Have you been watching over me?

Mom: You make me sound like a stalker…
Yes. I have. We need to talk.

Me: For real? Moooooom.

Mom: (cackling laugh) Oh Stephen – don’t you know how much I love you? I died thinking your were a man without flaw. A loving, caring and compassionate, handsome little version of myself. Do you really think I’m going to ruin all that by watching you when you think no one is watching?

Me: No, I guess. Thanks?

Mom: You’re welcome. Tell you who I do watch – Kaya and Lucy.

Me: They’re something, aren’t they?

Mom: I wish I’d had some time with Kaya.

Me: Me too. She’s a special little kid. You’d have got a real kick out of her.

Mom: I know. I’m sorry.

Me (misting over): Mom – you never need to apologize.

Mom: I know – I just know how much you like to brag, and I imagine this little Kaya creature would give you ample opportunity. I see she’s learning to talk.

Me: She’s got a handful of words – none of them intelligible. Except for “toot” which she busts me out with on the daily.

Mom: You toot a lot. They smell bad. Always have. I feel bad for Marie.

Me: How much time do we have here? Is this really what you want to talk about?

Mom: No- I just want to make sure you’re ok. It’s mother’s day, and I though we could hang out, talk about the past, present, future, whatever…

Me: Remember that time you gave me that haircut before Katie Sennett’s birthday and I started to cry because it looked like you’d cut a line in my hair, and I was 11 and you told me I was too old to cry about something like that, but you were really sorry anyway?

Mom: That was very embarrassing… for you.

Me: I know – anyway – that look is currently in style, and I just wanted to applaud you for being ahead of your time.

Mom: I tried to tell you.

Me: Remember that time Lexie Hook dumped me on the chairlift while skiing?

Mom: Yeah. Again, very embarrassing.

Me: I used to cry a lot, huh? Well – I remember you lying in the snow with me, talking about life and all the opportunities that lay ahead. It meant a lot to me. We decided she was probably gay, right?

Mom: No. We didn’t. We decided she had bad taste in boys.

Me: Oh yeah. And then I called her a “Ho Bag,” and her parents got all mad at me and asked me what that even meant.

Mom: What did that mean?

Me: No idea – but sounded about right, right?

Mom: Yeah – it was pretty funny. Good one.

Mom: Remember that time in first grade when you told your teacher that you were too tired to be at school because you were up late watching dirty movies and drinking beer?

Me: Sort of. It was awhile ago.

Mom: Well I’m not one to hold grudges, but you should really contact your elementary school principal and reiterate that it was non-alcoholic beer, and you only had a sip, and the movie, well, yes, there were some boobs – but I didn’t know that was coming, and really, it was your father’s fault. And your cousins. Not Mine. Got it?

Me: I’ll see what I can do about that.

Mom: Good. And about that whole slowly dying in front of you thing. I’m sorry. It sucked for me too.

Me: I know. You didn’t appear to be having much fun.

Mom: You shouldn’t have seen that. I was just too much of a bad ass to die respectably. Death came for me and was like, “Fuck lady, let go already.” And I was like,” Bitch – I biked 50 miles 3 weeks ago. I’m the third little piggy – hard to knock down a fortress made of brick – ya know?”

Me: That’s very poetic. What did Death say?

Mom: Death said, “I like your attitude lady. Fine – hang around for a minute, get your goodbyes in order. Watch some season finales.” So I did. By the way – Mad Men sucks. And Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? That almost killed me on the spot. How’s your dad?

Me: Good, I think. He misses you. He spends a lot of time watching old videos of you on his phone.

Mom: What videos? What did he record? Oh Jesus.

Me: Gross, I’m not even sure what you are referring too – but they are all very sweet.

Mom: Oh, good. Of course they are. Why would you think otherwise? Weirdo.

Me: Anyway – he’s good. He’s been out to visit a bunch. We spend most holidays together. He set up this mannequin in a dress in a rocking chair in the attic and goes up there to talk all the time.

Mom: Is it that black leather dress I used to wear with my blue cowboy boots? I hope so.

Me: You make me happy mom.

Mom: So what else is going on?

Me: Michael’s about to have a baby. I’m headed out there to lend a helping hand.

Mom: What about your job?

Me: I quit my job.

Mom: Jesus. Stephen, what are you thinking? I’m rolling my cremated ashes around this urn.

Me: Stop worrying. I’ll get another one. Besides – you’re dead. Is this really how you want to spend your after-life? Worrying about me?

Mom: Yes. And don’t drink too much at Thor’s bachelor party either.

Me: Some things never change, do they?

Mom: You certainly don’t (wink face.)

Me: So what’s going on here? Can we do this again? Are you some figment of my imagination, a ghost, some religious phenomenon?

Mom: It’s hard to explain. I’m a part of you. You can ask me anything; talk to me whenever. Whether or not I respond is kind of up to you. But these dreams are just that. Dreams. If you really want to see me – look at your kids. Squeeze them tight and tell them about their granny KK. And when they smile – that’s me. At least a little part of me. The part that you get to hold onto and cherish, love and appreciate. Those beautiful, slow burning red sunsets – that’s me too. I’m not an owl – because that would be just stupid – but I’m lots of things around you. So remember that. I’m here, and I love you. And I’m watching all the dumb shit you do too, so try to be smarter.

Me: Can you make the Packers win a Superbowl?

Mom: No – but God is a fan so I’d say Title Town is in good hands.

Me: You know God???

Mom: Just kidding – I totally control the Packers. Get a job and we’ll talk.

Me: Deal. Hey, mom. It’s weird without you. Swing by dad and say hello. He could use the company.

Mom: I will. Be good my love. Say hi to the girls and everyone else. And tell Lucy thank you for all the flowers.

Me: Happy mother’s day mom. I love you.

Mom: Happy Mother’s day to Marie. She’s a good one. Make sure she knows that.

Me: I will.

— And to the rest of you moms, past and present – you’re special every day. Thank you. We love you.

–Mama’s Big Avocado

image0285 (2) Lindsay and Michael - 0352 (2)image0304 (2)IMG_1428

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Running Sucks

Sometimes I try to get clever with my blog titles, but this one is pretty straightforward—running sucks.

A few days ago I boastfully announced to the world that I would be running a half-marathon, and yesterday was the big day. It was about 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky; absolutely beautiful. By 9:15 a.m., all 4,500 runners—including yours truly—were corralled into the starting area. My goal was to finish around 11:30 a.m.

The bell chimed—the race was on! I began weaving around the masses of runners lining the streets, feeling very proud of myself for putting in the training, for the shape of my legs, my strong, muscular calves. I couldn’t believe how slow everyone else was. It felt like a race full of stationary obstacles.

The water stations were placed every mile or two. I can’t really remember, because I zipped by most of them. I didn’t have water on my training runs, and it seemed silly to mix things up on race day. Besides, the stations were so crowded they would have totally messed up my final time. And I had a race to win.

It was kind of hot though. In retrospect, a little water might not have hurt too much. I was running in the race-issued long-sleeved shirt I received at registration. I probably didn’t need long sleeves on such a beautiful day, but I also didn’t want to get a sunburn. Clever me.

Around what I thought to be the sixth mile, I ran past the four-mile marker. “That’s strange,” I thought to myself. I’d have guessed I was closer to half finished. Guess not. So I slowed my roll a little. I started talking to myself, not in a crazy way, but in a motivating way.

Me: “Focus. Keep your head down. Go to autopilot. Knock out a few miles without thinking about it and you’ll be ok.”

Other me: “How bout we walk a little?”

Me: “How ’bout you stop embarrassing me?”

And on and on (and on) it went. I kept running, albeit it a little slower than I’d started. Around mile eight I was really feeling it, and it didn’t feel good. I think I was blubbering a little bit, even letting the occasional primal shout erupt from my quickly deteriorating body. I’m not sure if it hyped up the other runners or freaked them out, but I quickly found a little extra room to operate as the runners distanced themselves from me like I was protected by a circular force field. “That’s cool,” I blurrily remember thinking to myself. I have super powers.

However, my other super power—the ability to run long distances at blazing speed—was beginning to falter. I would keep a steady pace for a minute, then slow to a shuffle for a little bit, then pick it back up. And I started to get mad—in both senses of the word. I was angry that I was still running in what suddenly felt like Sahara heat, and I started to go a little crazy. Even the people cheering me on started pissing me off.

Fans: “Keep going! You’re looking great!”

Me: “YOU ARE EITHER BLIND OR A LIAR!”

I saw a guy drinking a beer out of a cheesehead coolie give me a thumbs-up. I barely managed to keep my middle finger down.

By now, all of the people I passed over the previous 90 minutes started running past me. I think I heard two ladies say, “Get around this guy—he looks like he might puke.”

At this point I knew my finishing time would be nothing to brag about, so I decided to adjust my goal and just try to make it without walking. I could do that. My body begged for reprieve, but my mental toughness is the stuff legends are made of. And so I denied every screaming request from my legs, my head, my feet—even my chafing nipple—to walk, even for just a minute. I would not, could not.

I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, “Way to go Avocado! Way to triumph over the pain and mental anguish! Even if you are a bit of a crazy person, we’re proud of you.”

Well, this is where the story takes a twist.

I was at 11.5 miles—so very close to the end—and then things began to get fuzzy. I swerved maniacally, barely managing to keep my feet. Another runner, seeing my distress, kindly helped me to one of the medical tents.

At least, that’s why I’m told happened. All I remember is that I was running like a champion … and then I was inside a tent with a woman asking me to sit down.

Me: “Get off me! I’m finishing this race! What the F is going on here? I didn’t run all this way to hang out in this stupid F’ing tent! Who the F are you? This is bullshit! I’m leaving! This is so f’ing stupid!

Woman: “I really think you should just sit down for a second.”

Then another voice chimed in—and it was coming from my legs.

Legs: “Yo dog—chill out. We’re going Jello, like, right now, so sit your ass down.”

And so I sat. And then there were needles in my arms. And I was resting my arm on a young woman’s leg.

Me: “Thank you for letting me rest my arm here. I’m not flirting with you.”

Primary nurse: “I hope not. Your wife would be upset.”

Me: “Haha. Wait, you talked to my wife?”

Primary nurse: “Yeah, so did you.”

Me: “I did?”

Primary nurse: “Maybe you should sit for a while longer.”

I drank a gallon of water, a half-gallon of Gatorade and got four liters of IV fluid pumped into my veins. At about 1:15 p.m.—almost two hours past my original finishing goal—I was finally able to stand up again. Yay for me.

The final diagnosis: heat exhaustion and massive dehydration. I apologized profusely for my rampant, delirium-induced swearing, and they assured me it was just a side effect of breaking my brain. They’d all seen it before, they said. Much worse, they said. I kind of doubt it, but they were very kind nonetheless.

And I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned that “mind over matter” only works when you’re fully conscious, and that otherwise, the more fitting phrase is “dehydration over determination.”

Now, I know I promised you race photos, but unfortunately, trying to survive took precedent yesterday. At any rate, here’s one from today. As you can see, I still look like crap. Imagine what I looked like 24 hours ago.

Shirt says it all.

Shirt says it all.

Huge thanks to the medical volunteers who kept me from going to a hospital/graveyard, and thanks to the runner who delivered me to medical volunteers.

Maybe next year I’ll do better.

Then again, maybe not. Because running fucking sucks.

The Beat-ass Avocado

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Running Man

The Running Man in all his glory.

The Running Man in all his glory.

I’m running in a marathon on Sunday. Well, I’m running the second half of a marathon, to be exact. And the coolest part about running a half-marathon is telling everyone that you’re running in a half-marathon.

Me: “Yeah, I’d love to hang out, but I’ve gotta train for this half-marathon I’m running. No biggie.”

Usual response: “I didn’t ask you to hang out.”

I ran the marathon last year too, but that time I only ran the relay part, meaning I ran the final quarter of the race. I took the last leg because it was the flattest and shortest part. It also meant I crossed the finish line, and I’m a bit of a glory hound. Okay, I’m a lot of a glory hound. I even covered my bib number as I finished—that way I could fool people into thinking I had run the whole race. And, oddly enough, I sort of looked like I had. It was supposed to rain and like a genius I decided to run in a raincoat – a hot, steamy, dehydrating and totally unnecessary on this rain-free morning rain coat. I was haggard as hell come the finish line.

And then I got a medal, which was really cool … for all of five seconds. Then I remembered I had really only accomplished one-fourth of an amazing feat. It kind of deflated my victory. Yay me.

But this year, I’m going for the whole half! That’s 13.1 miles of jogging (okay, shuffling) through the flats of Oakland. Honestly, it’s been a grind. I’m not the svelte athlete of my childhood. I have a new ACL, the occasional bout of gout and a rather permanent case of stomach fat. I have excuses. But I’m not going to need them, because I am going to finish—NAY I am going to dominate the field! It’s a race, and I plan on winning. (I also plan to redefine “winning,” thereby enabling me to “win.”)

I’ve put in my training. I stretched a few times. I ate Ibuprofen and iced my limbs. I don’t want it to be too easy, so beer and pizza consumption has remained consistent. I think my wife wants to have sex tonight. I’m going to turn her down for the first time ever. I hear professional boxers don’t do it before fights—and running is basically the exact same thing—so I’m not gonna do it. I’m that committed.

Now that my body is right, it’s time to finalize my mental approach. I’m visualizing success. I will sprint the final 50 feet, and hopefully pass at least one person during that grueling stretch. In my mind, it will be a lean, rugged, cheetah-like human. I will extend my arms behind my body and lean into the finish, energizing and elating the adoring masses gathered in anticipation of my triumph. Chances are better that I’ll crossing the finish line in a heated battle with a geriatric pushing a stroller as the cleanup crew follows closely behind. Nevertheless, I will talk respectful shit to this elderly person, get my medal and promptly begin my post-race vomiting. It’s going to be pretty amazing one way or another. Be there, or miss something truly remarkable.

Thanks in advance for the support.

The Big Prefontaine-Acado

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