Fame was like a drug. But what was even more like a drug was the drugs

After my thoughts on family life this morning, I came across a few quotes from someone who could possibly be the extreme opposite of model parenting, Ozzy Osbourne. The Osbourne’s son Jack recently checked himself into a drug rehab center, which has caused Ozzy to reconsider a few things.

“I used to think they should legalize pot, but you know what? They should ban the lot,” he told MTV. “I’m 55 years old, and I didn’t get off scot-free. I have to take medication for the rest of my life because I’ve done so much neurological damage to my body.” Of course we knew that, but it’s good to hear Ozzy admit it.

“The mistake that Sharon and I both made, and we both agree on this, is we never set any boundaries,” Osbourne told MTV in another interview. “We never said, ‘You must be in the house by a certain time.’ We just let them have the freedom. Sharon and I are still learning. We’re not the parents that say, ‘We’re always right,’ because we’re not.”

“One thing I noticed is that he never cried,” Osbourne said. “He never showed. He just locked it in, you know. I think what families should do more often is have family meetings and talk: get around the table and say, ‘What’s up? How you doing?’ Every day I say to my family, ‘I love you,’ you know. And I do love my family. People forget to say ‘I love you. I care for you. Are you OK? Is there anything you need?'”

Family therapy? You said we were going out for frosty chocolate milkshakes.

Family can be an amazing thing. A bunch of people who stick it out together, whether they like it or not, for the simple reason that they’re family. Well, that’s the basic idea anyway. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Seems like more often lately it doesn’t work. I wonder how much of that is simply our selfish, individualistic attitude at work. Half of all marriages fail because we don’t really understand the commitment required. We’re more concerned about our own happiness than our spouses, which is really the goal of a marriage. Relationships rip and pull as selfishness rears its head, and the family comes tumbling down. Children learn by example, and when they seek their own gain, you shouldn’t have to look too far for the cause.

Family is just hard work. Which is another thing we’re bad at. Not only do we look after ourselves, but we don’t want to do a lot of work. We want the easy way out. The easy way is my way. The easy way doesn’t include putting up with the irritating little foibles we all have. The easy way doesn’t want to have the hard conversations that come before a shouting match. The easy way would rather hold a grudge than talk it over and let it go.

I’ve seen families fall apart, I’ve seen families stubbornly stick together — no matter how painful it may be — and I’ve even seen families come back together. With all the possibilities and with failure so prevalent, it makes me wonder about the future of my own family. There’s so many stupid things that can get in the way: tiredness, bitterness, laziness. A simple clashing of schedules or interests can make things impossible. Washing the dishes or doing the laundry can so easily sow discord, and while a kind word can do so much, the slipped word can do so much worse.

I’m not looking to be a TV family where the kids do cute things and the grandparents stop by for special holiday guest appearances. I want a family where we love each other enough to do things for one another. A family that isn’t selfish. A family that isn’t bound by intergenerational barriers and can actually communicate. Maybe that’s not possible. Maybe it requires more sacrifice than I give. Maybe that’s exactly what I find so difficult.

And sometimes I wonder why I’m even thinking about my future family. It’s a strange, not-quite-real concept, like recordable DVDs or hybrid vehicles. I know they can exist, but I haven’t seen them for myself, and it doesn’t seem quite true.

There’s nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman

The stray cat visited again tonight, and she’s a beast. We were sitting on the deck with Speak and there she was in the middle of the yard. While hunched down her back end looked twice as wide as her front end. But it wasn’t fat. As she approached we could tell she was lean, just enormous. She had the build of a bobcat, and I wonder if that’s just coincidence, or if this is really a hardened stray cat. She wasn’t afraid of us, and definitely wasn’t afraid of Speak. Speak was going nuts.

The cat wandered around the yard for a while, climbed under the deck and explored the garage. We didn’t exactly shoo the cat away, but we didn’t really encourage her either. At one point I tried to pet the cat, and she arched her back, trying to push herself into my hand. Then she stood up on her back legs, half jumping into the air, trying to get me to pet her. I’ve never seen a cat do that.

After some more wandering, the cat left the way she came.

Wanton destruction of precious antique cans

“Mercy,” my mother comments while walking into an antique store ahead of me.

“Oh, mercy,” my grandmother repeats from behind me. That’s what I’d say after two days of antique shopping. Oh mercy.

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone antiquing with my mom, though I certainly have a lot more patience than I used to. Some of that old junk actually fascinates me. Some of the prices also fascinate me. Who would pay $200 for a coat rack?

Aw, we’re going to die and I never tasted cantaloupe.

It’s Sunday night. I’m sitting on the porch being introspective. Tomorrow begins week two of unemployment. I’m in such an odd phase right now.

The post-BGEA landscape is still taking shape. I’m having a hard time being productive with my days. There’s a lot I want to accomplish, but it’s hard to focus, to concentrate, to fit it all in.

And I don’t know what’s ahead. It’s like all of a sudden my life has changed so drastically. I’m no longer a newlywed, I own a house, we have a dog who just interrupted me. Children are next, and if the puppy is a small taste of what parenthood will be like, I’m so afraid things are just going to go faster and faster. I feel barely able to hold on now, barely able to collect my thoughts and know what I’m doing, barely able to breathe.

Is this what life is supposed to be like? Or are late night introspective porch sessions there, you just have to make time for them? Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing, and sometimes I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

It’s Monday night. I’m sitting at the computer being introspective, again. Transcribing last night’s thoughts, and adding some of today’s. I’m sick today, though you really can’t stay home sick from unemployment. You just are sick, and that’s the way it is. A day lost to lazing and feeling bad, wishing you felt up to accomplishing something. Sometimes I think so many days pass by feeling that way without the convenient excuse of being sick. Of course that’s being pessimistic. Life flies by precisely when things are fun and you’re busy enough to not get to the really important things.

I had a dream last night that we had a baby. I should clarify — I had a baby. The fact that as a man I became a mom wasn’t the only bizarre thing, the pregnancy and birth came out of nowhere, happening in a matter of days. And there was really no birth or pregnancy. It just sort of happened. I didn’t go through labor, I didn’t go through morning sickness. One day I was just pregnant, and a few days later we had a baby in the hospital, as if pregnancy were a euphemism for a visit from the stork. It happened so quickly we didn’t even have a name for the baby, and I kept calling him the name a friend of mine gave to their recent child.

If I gained anything from the dream, it was a thankfulness for the nine month period of adjustment that is pregnancy. A seven pound life change isn’t just dropped in your lap without any warning. You have nine months to feel inadequate and prepare yourself for the unpreparable. Unlike buying a house, there is a time and even physical evidence of the radical change that is about to take place.

Change is good, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I’m kicking books at a sixth-grade level

Sometimes I get all reflective about my ponderings, and it’s kind of goofy. This is one of those times, so I hope you’ll bear with me.

I’ve been kicking around this idea of collecting these thoughts into a book-type format. Admittedly, part of the motivation is to make a buck. I just as well come out and say that. My idealistic young self of four years ago would have been appalled at that, but I’ve learned a bit about reality since then. I’m now paying for the education I was receiving then, I’m now paying for my room and board, I’m paying for my own gas and my own car. I can’t rely on mommy and daddy anymore, and I’ve learned that life is hard. There’s a point where an artist has to sell them self if they hope to survive on their art. The only pure art is financially independent.

Of course I’m also realistic enough to know that a collection of my late-night ponderings won’t exactly make a lot of money. Maybe a buck is a good estimate. So knowing that making a profit is a slim prospect, it becomes more of the joy of capturing and appropriately packaging almost five years worth of artist expression. It’s more a project than a business venture, though it’s certainly a mix of both.

I read a few old entries tonight, and it’s bizarre to see how much things have changed. When I started these thoughts I was a sophomore in college. I had been dating a girl for almost three years. I was entering a very idealistic phase. I was beginning to leave some of the opinions of my youth behind and was starting to find my own way. A lot of contradictions exist.

In some ways I’m eager to see a collected volume, to see the inherent contradictions in a person’s life, to let them spill across the years. At some point in the past five years I’d probably be disappointed to see where I am now, paying a mortgage, working a 9 to 5 job (until recently anyway). Yet life goes where it will, and as much as we think we know what we want to do and where we want to go, we’re often dead-wrong.

There’s also something about a bound volume. As much as I love the computer, you can’t curl up with it on the couch and do some Sunday afternoon reading. Even with a curvy iBook you’re not going to last long. A book you can get comfortable with. You can write notes in the margins, you can underline favorite passages (the thought of someone underlining bits of my writing is oddly thrilling and intimidating). There’s an intimacy that exists between the printed page and a reader that the computer can’t duplicate. The computer can foster other intimacies, but books have that special something.

I’ll have to keep thinking about this. It’s an odd project to contemplate, especially something of such a non-stable nature. But I still see value in the difficulties, possibilities in the contradictions. We’ll have to see.

Cypress Creek: where dreams come true

I own a house. Somehow that’s taking a long while to sink in. I’m essentially living the American Dream, owning my own home, being shackled to a ridiculous mortgage. This isn’t somewhere I thought I’d be so many years ago, but things change.

I’m finding a new pride in doing things myself. My dad was very big on doing things yourself, and he was also very big on having the right tool for the right job. I’ve been getting many of those right tools as birthday and Christmas presents for years now. It’s nice to be able to actually use them. There’s a certain satisfaction in doing something yourself, with your own two hands. I hung a railing the other day, a short little section with only two support brackets. After it was up, the first several times I came up the stairs I instinctively grabbed the railing, and then marveled that I was the one who put the railing there. I didn’t realize how much we needed the railing, and I was thankful to finally have it. Even more, I realized it was my work that put it there, and it gave me this fatherly pride. All these odd jobs I keep doing around the house are giving me that feeling, and it’s very strange. It’s something I’m not used to.

I think a few years ago the thought of owning a home was so repulsive to me because there’s so many things that go into owning a home that can make it a sour experience. I think the suburban, cookie-cutter home is what I always feared, and that’s definitely not where I live now. My home is 93 years old, and there’s nothing cookie-cutter about it.

I guess I’m realizing that there’s a lot of choice when it comes to your home, and that’s where you make it your own and express your specific ideals. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a certain hatred for lawn care. But owning a house doesn’t mean I have to do what everyone else does. I don’t have to be a lawn-Nazi. I can mow my lawn with my little push mower and I can let my weeds grow if I want. I don’t have to run the air conditioner all the time. I can install environmentally friendly components if I like. I could put a freakin’ solar panel on the roof if I want to. (At one point I remember really wanting to do that, even if it could only power a single light bulb in my house — it seems so natural, the sun’s beating down on my roof all day anyway, why not harness that energy?)

With $10,000, we’d be millionaires!

Cafepress.com now makes books. Why order a basement full of books no one wants to buy anyway when you can self publish your book one at a time? Well, cost is probably the biggest modivator, as is the case with all things Cafepress, but who wants to hassle with shipping, storage, and fulfillment? Can’t someone else do it? And that’s where you pay.

I find the idea pretty intriguing. Anyone interested in forking over $20 for a handsome, bound version of ReAL Thoughts? Complete with photos by yours truly? Complete with a running commentary of why I said or did stupid things? With outdated material and links that don’t transfer to print removed (how convenient!)? I’ll even throw in a layman’s guide to explain what the heck I was talking about on those really convuluted days. Any interest in something like that? Just picking my unemployed brain for ways I can make money by staying home and potty training my dog.

How about a collection of embarrasing things I wrote in high school? Complete with the thrilling dating advice column “Dating Tips for the Truly Romantic Gentlemen” by none other than Joe Gentlemen (he’s a friend of mine)? Complete with my thrilling high school column “The Unnamed Column”? How about I throw in my archive of “Pointless Quotes” from the Table Tent in college? Any takers? Oh nevermind.

I said I don’t want any damn vegetables

Could Big Idea be up for sale? That’s what Christian Retailing is reporting (repeated in CT’s Weblog), after an $11 million court verdict. That big hit combined with recent excessive growth have caused the company to seek outside financing.

In related news, Steve Taylor held a press conference at Cornerstone, and revealed that he attempted to partner with Big Idea in 2001 to buy his Squint record label before it went down the crapper. Big Idea backed out at the last minute due to a lack of funds, and what could have been an amazing deal fell apart and Squint did go down the crapper, bloated with crummy artists Word thinks are hip.