“Buttercup took the dirt nap.”
Today I turn 46, which means I’m now officially on the countdown to 50. I really don’t care about the number, because I believe it’s about how old you feel. Unfortunately I have days where I feel like I’m 90 and others where I feel 17 and that I’m old enough to know better, but the reality is that I know jack shit. The only problem is that I don’t know that I know jack shit. I think I know more than I really know. Ya know what I mean? Probably not. Moving on…
I’m not gonna blow sunshine up your ass (or anywhere else) and say that my life has been awesome, because it hasn’t. On the plus side, I’ve never been on Cops and I’ve never lived in a trailer park or in a state in which the Confederate Flag flies from every liquor store, bait shack and gun shop. So I’ve got that going for me.
My daughter (A.K.A. Drama Queen) has turned out much better than she should have and I’m constantly amazed by that. She has a mom who has been mostly non-existent in her life and is stuck with a part-time douche bag for a dad. When Her Majesty was five, she had a rough six month period. Her “Papa” (my dad) died of colon cancer, her mom moved out and her hamster died.
The hamster was named Buttercup, not because it’s the type of name a five-year-old girl chooses. It’s not that easy with my daughter. “Why did you name her Buttercup?” I asked on the day we bought her. “Because,” she said with hands on her hips and an eye roll. “Buttercup is my favorite Power Puff Girl because she has a bad attitude.” That’s my angel. I vividly remember the day Buttercup left this world.
After I broke the news that her furry friend was taking what’s called, “The dirt nap”, D.Q. asked if we could bury Buttercup next to Papa. My dad was cremated and his ashes are buried in a family burial plot. There were some flowers in the plot and I said we could bury Buttercup with my dad. “Buttercup is family,” my angel told me. An hour later I walked down the hall and I heard my daughter crying and talking.
Walking into her room, I noted that she wasn’t there, so I listened closer. It was coming from my bedroom and I crept down the hall as quietly as I could and peeked in the door. What I witnessed made me retreat to my office and cry. My daughter was sitting at the sliding glass door and had it cracked open just enough to get the dog’s nose in the door. “Lucy?” Drama Queen cried to the pet she received as a birthday gift seven months before. “Papa left me, mommy left me and now Buttercup left me. Please don’t leave me Lucy.” I cried like a baby at that one.
I’ve been thinking about my daughter a lot lately and I’m proud of the way she’s turned out. In her younger days I dated a couple of women who weren’t the nicest to her and I stayed in those relationships longer than I should have. It was never abusive, but wasn’t cool. Like any parent, I make mistakes, but I tend to keep revisiting mine and breaking them down in intricate detail. That drives me up the wall.
From the time she was three until we moved to Toronto when she was 11, Drama Queen lived in the same house and had stability. On February 13 ’09 she left Long Beach, CA for Canada, then on August 30 of that same year, we moved to Buffalo. Then this past June we came back to Long Beach and she started high school in September. It’s weird to think I have a high schooler.
There’s a rad chick in my life who listens to me whine and then helps me chill da fuck out. I keep telling her she can do way better than me, but apparently she’s under the delusion that I’m the shiz. I keep telling her she’s wrong, but she won’t listen. I think it’s the three time zone difference. “What the hell does she see?” I ask myself. I’ve got no clue, but I’ll hang around as long as she lets me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing and my life as a writer. When I was in high school I was on the school paper staff, but had an adviser who was less than nurturing. She thought my writing wasn’t any good and I barely got in the paper. To be honest, that criticism knocked my self confidence as a writer down to zero. It was almost 20 years later that I had the balls to pursue writing again and when I did, it was pretty good.
I started contributing stuff to some local papers and got a gig covering the Long Beach Ice Dogs (a now defunct minor league hockey team). That gig with a bi-weekly paper got my foot in the door and I started contacting the newspaper of the visiting teams to see if I could write their game stories. Over the next four seasons I wrote for the San Diego Union Tribune, Fresno Bee, Anchorage Daily News, Idaho Statesman, Cincinnati Post, Long Beach Press Telegram and Orange County Register.
While covering the Ice Dogs I met Josh Brewster. Josh had a new hockey website (Hockeytalk) and he was writing for various publications. We became friends and he and his wife Kat (an award winning playwright) have become great friends and I respect the hell out of their abilities. Josh and I both went on to cover the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and occasionally the L.A. Kings. Josh eventually got the gig doing the Ducks post game radio show and in 2007 added Stanley Cup Winning Broadcaster to his resume. Josh is cool enough to have me on as a guest from time to time and I always have a blast.
From there I started approaching magazines and over the course of the next several years I had articles appear in 36 different magazines including Spirit (Southwest Airlines in flight mag), Chile Pepper, Smoke, Baseball America, Speedway Illustrated, Trump World (the premier issue) and assorted wanna be Maxim types. I pulled in regular gigs with Face-Off (a European hockey magazine) and with OC Metro, which brought steady income.
It was with OC Metro that I worked with an editor named Steven Thomas. He has no clue how much he helped me as a writer and I consider him a mentor, even though we trade two or three sentence e-mails once or twice a year. Steven has written two great crime books, Criminal Paradise and Criminal Karma. If you’re into that sort of thing, I highly recommend checking them out.
All in all, my work has appeared in 36 different print publications as well as websites like THN.com (the Hockey News). I’ve had the great fortune to sit down one on one with Wayne Gretzky, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Penn & Teller and spent a summer with World Series MVP Steve Yeager and the Long Beach Armada. I interviewed Jimmie Johnson the afternoon before his first Winston Cup victory and that story became my first ever cover story. The cover is the picture at the top of this post.
For years I had an idea for a novel I wanted to write, but I had no courage in my creative writing. I knew I loved to do it, but didn’t think it was my strength. The same with blogging. My brother and a few friends kept encouraging me to start blogging, but again I had no confidence in that type of writing.
I had an idea of what I wanted the book to be, but it took eight years to gain the confidence to get serious about it and now I’m a chapter away from finishing. Plus I have an agent and a large publishing company who is interested in it. I have no pipe dream of huge success with my writing, but if the book can go nine months without hitting the dollar stores, I’ll be happy. It’s kind of funny to think that the two things I fought against (blogging and writing a novel) will probably be the most successful writing I’ve done.
I know this was long and probably hard to follow, but I appreciate that you made it this far. My birthday breakfast is chorizo and eggs and my birthday wish is that the Raiders win and the Broncos lose. If Tim Tebow could have another two completion day, that would be rad.
I honestly believe that I’ve gotten better with age. I’m way cooler than I was in my teens-mid 30’s and even though I’m having a momentary self-esteem crisis, I kn0w I feel better about myself than I probably ever did. I’m fairly certain I can get this tumor out of my ear in the next few months, which will hopefully restore a lot of the hearing and vision I’m losing. I also have a feeling the book thing is going to be successful, though I’m not anticipating anything. That way I’m not disappointed when it sells 1,000 copies.
Basically, my birthday will consist of football, writing and shitting my pants as I finish this last chapter and get it off to my agent on Monday. I’m also going to go out and fire up a New York steak, some Pacifico and red velvet cupcakes courtesy of my Muse. See. More cool shit I don’t deserve. Speaking of more cool shit, as I was ready to post this, I received an e-mail from Urban Dictionary saying I had a word being published. Boo yah. CHECK IT OUT.
P.S. I put Butercup in foil and Ziploc bag before shoving her into the bottom of the freezer. That would preserve the body so we could bury the damn hamster the next afternoon. My daughter wanted to go back a few days later to pay her respects and I eventually gave in. We got there and the spot I buried the rodent had been dug up and my daughter asked what happened. “When hamsters go to heaven,” I said. “This is what happens. Buttercup went to be with Papa.” For some reason she actually bought it. Apparently the cemetery has cats. And I’m probably going to hell for telling my daughter that.
P.S.S. The day after this happened, the kindergarten teacher wanted to talk with me after school. Apparently she didn’t appreciate that my daughter shared with the class that, “Buttercup took the dirt nap.” I don’t know why not…
If you want to read a very funny (and sadly true) birthday blog post, check out last years, The Birthday Chick