Friday, May 16, 2014

Sometimes A Show Finds You

I don’t know why I tend to get reflective on Fridays but I find myself typing away on my computer a lot on the last “work” day of the week. I’m not working currently obviously, but maybe I’m sitting here today because I’ve run out of chores on my “list of things to do”.

My current state of unemployment, or paid freedom as I’ve come to call it, has given me the opportunity to drop the stress piano that I had been carrying around on my back. The relief has rolled me back to activities that I missed a great deal.

In a return to glory, I’m getting to play golf with my father-in-law in a quantity that is borderline criminal. I haven’t played this much since I lived in Huntsville, AL and I banged around The Canebrake Club three times a week by myself as I tried to fill up the hours waiting for my “big break”.

While I used to drive an hour each way to get my teeth kicked in at work, I’m now either on the course or at the range hitting balls a disgusting amount. The hours spent with a club in my hand has caused me to reflect a lot on my youth when I first learned the game. I think a lot about the time I spent as a 12 year-old, sneaking onto the Andover Country Club to practice at dusk. The trips down memory lane on the golf course have been some of the best parts of this bad career situation and reminded me a lot about the importance of doing things that I enjoy.  

I’m also back in the gym … the other place I would go to burn away the lonely minutes while I lived in Omaha and Des Moines. Working out is also another way to improve my golf game, so there is a symbiotic relationship there. My wife hates me for it because she is 7 months preggo and she says I’m supposed to gain weight during her pregnancy like a good husband (something I profoundly disagree with).

While my personal life used be something I rushed through until I went back to work, it’s been the main thing that has kept me going these past few weeks. I’m not lonely anymore and I’m not waiting for anything to come along and pull me out of a self-imposed geographical exile. I’m married to amazing woman who is about to become the mother of my daughter and my life, outside of work, is exactly where I want it.

When I’m not sweating on the golf course or underneath a barbell, there are many minutes to fill between the moments my wife leaves from work to when she returns. I’m in sort of a weird state because time is moving slowly and incredibly fast at the same time. Each day, there is an instant where I feel like I can hear the each individual piece of sand dropping through the hourglass. On the other hand, it’s been 8 weeks since I was handed my walking papers, yet it seems like it happened only a second ago.

After the shock of the change wore off and I realized that I was actually put in a really cool position by the buy-out (who gets a paid vacation at 37?), I made sure my resume was sparkling and re-mastered my demo reel. Each morning, I try to do something positive like apply for a job, send a resume out, send an email to someone in the biz, or place a phone call to colleague … something that might lead to my next gig.

I’ve been here before but I could stay on the sidelines until 2015 if I wanted to but I don’t
think that is the right move. I suspect I will be employed by the July 4th so I’m trying to enjoy this
unique situation of liberty.

You know the line “books find you, you don’t find books”? Well, I’m that way for television shows. Now, I’m a male, so I’m attracted to certain types of shows over the others but I’ve had Californication on my list of “must find time to watch” for several years now. My current situation finally gave me the hours to burn binge-viewing the Showtime series and while I'm only half-way into season 3, I'm hooked. (Please don't give away thing that might make me hate the show in the future)

While it might surprise you given the show’s context, the characters have me thinking a lot about what it means to be an adult and a parent. 

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s based around an over sexualized, day drinking, narcissistic, author named Hank Moody played by David Duchovny of X-Files fame. The main character is not married but has a love interest that is the mother of his teenage daughter. The three form a dysfunctional family unit that is the center of gravity for the show’s plot.      

While some might watch Californication for the naked breasts (nearly every show) or the witty dialogue, the show has caused me to think a lot about what it means to be a father to a daughter in today’s world. No matter how fucked up his life gets and the damage he does to the people around him, Hank Moody wants to be the best dad he can be. His world is his daughter. He has made mistakes but his daughter is everything to him. Their relationship is the healthiest of the show and I often catch myself thinking what it is going to be like when my daughter is a 12, 14, 16 years old. I wonder how my daughter will see me and what type of father will I be to her?  

This line of thinking has also caused me to realize that for the first time in my life, I’m about to be outnumbered in my own home by the opposite sex. I’m the oldest of 4 boys and 1 girl. When I was born, it was my dad and my mom. Then my brother Ben was born two years later. When I was a teenager, my two other brothers were born with my stepfather in the house.

It is astonishing to think about the fact that I’ve never been in the gender minority in my own home in 37 years and to be honest, I’m not really sure how to handle that. There is a lot I don’t know about living with girls.

My sister was born right after I graduated college. I left when she was 2 months old to move to Virginia. I was gone for the next 12 years of her life. I never saw her first steps, or her first words and basically jumped back into her life as a young adult.

What I’m getting at is that I never was around for the daily changes that a baby female accomplishes. I don’t have the same naïveté to boys though. How do you handle those subtle changes that happen to kids when they are female? What is a father’s role in major and minor moments of a girl? It’s all Greek to me at the moment.  

My mother had me at 18 and has dedicated herself to the birth of babies. Not just her own 5 kids, my mother is a lactation consultant who taught me more about breast milk than about dating girls. I know all about how the baby gets here … but what happens after, for the next say 20 years?  

My father would tell me, after getting my mom pregnant after knowing her for just 6 weeks, that if I knocked up a girl early in life that he would tie my dick into a knot. He didn’t share my mother’s love of young humans but I watched my brother grow up. I don’t need to be taught about being a boy … I am one. But a daughter? Yikes.     

Californication is based around the womanizing of the main character but it’s the father-daughter relationship that has drawn me to the show. It’s beautiful to watch a self-indulgent older adult try to change for his child, his only child and I feel like that is going to happen to me as well. I’m changing even before she gets here.  

Watching Hank’s relationship to adult women versus his relationship to his daughter is also a wild juxtaposition of images. As men, we see women one way most of the time … and since I know that … how am I going to handle that line of thought towards my own flesh and blood? How do I handle make-up and outfits?

I guess I’ve got 13 years before I have to worry about bras and boys right?

In the end, I think that is what the show is trying to say … that no matter how fucked up the Hank Moody’s character is; his family is what really matters. The rest is just bullshit and not really important.

You try your best to raise your daughter as dad. You won’t be perfect. You will make mistakes but you do everything you can to make them happy. At least that’s what I hope to do.

Actress Madeleine Martin plays hank Moody’s daughter. My daughter Madeline will be born in late July.

Like I said, sometimes, shows just find you.

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