I Wanna Publish Zines… And how you can help! [update]

Hey everyone,

There are 41 days left to go! Still plenty of time!

I hope you have been enjoying reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I just wanted to let you all know that I have a project live on Hatch Fund right now. I am in the process of launching the blog to its next stage. The hatch fund is to launch it into a zine in collaboration with other punk-leaning artists and alternative parents. I’m also accepting article submissions for future issues, if you are interested. Please help me out by making a donation and spreading the word. Thanks!



Letting off some steam…

This month has been rough. Very rough. We have a family member in the hospital. Things are getting better, but it’s been very scary at times. I’m also struggling with the confrontation of the fragility of life. It’s something that I struggle with a lot, but when it’s another dad that you’re super close to, it strikes a little harder. Honestly, there is a part of me that feels super alone and like the pressure is on to be a father figure for the whole team. Like I said, things are slowly getting better, and we are all being very strong for each other, but there are times when I want to curl into a ball and hide. I’m sure that feeling has hit every member of family recently.

Speaking of family, we have recently hit a hard patch with Existentialisa. She has always had a hard time with transitions. Since birth. She wants to do everything and wants it’s done of her own timetable. AND she wants to know a detailed list of our schedule. It’s always “what are we doing now? And after that? And after that? And after…” Yet somehow when it comes time to transition between those things it ends up in meltdown. Bedtimes have been especially rough lately. The other nite turned from a super relaxed family movie nite (ironically we were watching Nanny McPhee) to a disaster of Fukushima proportions. We took an intermission for pajamas and she said that she has to go potty. I encouraged her to go potty first and then get jammies on after. Boom! Full on hulk smash.

From there on out things just fell apart. We couldn’t finish the movie because of the meltdown which involved her hitting us and saying horrible things, like “you’re not my parents!” (Keep in mind that she’s 4, not 15). The best was when she tried to screw with the time line and say that she was mad at us as a result of the movie getting turned off, forgetting that the movie got turned off in reaction to the fit. Good times. Eventually she calmed down and fell asleep, but we’re starting to think we should look into some sort of behavioral therapy.

Then, a few hours later, she threw up. We took it as a bodily response from the episode. Kids throw up from getting angry and screaming. It happens. The next day she had a play date with one of her old friends from babyhood. Then she threw up again. And then every hour or so for the rest of the nite. It was epic.

Also in the world of stresses we are now looking for a new place to live. The kid unfriendly building that we live in has decided to not renew our lease. I’ve never had this happen before and it really hurts. So here’s hoping we find the perfect place, or at least one with a washer and dryer in the next month.

Add to that the general stress that midterm has come and gone with this semester of graduate school. There is so much left to do in my classes and an ever decreasing amount of time to do it. Thank the gods that I’m mostly working on my own projects, like this blog and launching the zine and designing merch as my projects for the semester. Art school can have its moments.

When stuff like this happens, I really try to stay positive, but sometimes it’s really a lot harder than it sounds. I think the key at times like this is that we should all try to take it easier on each other, you know, try to bend with the punches. I’m sorry for the all-overness of this entry, welcome to my brain recently. The semester will be over soon and I’m looking to for a chance to simplify things for a bit and reconnecting with my family in this hard time. But there is a lot left to do and get through before then. Including… Dramatic music…. The holidays…

Recommended track list:
Fugazi, Waiting Room
Alkaline Trio, My Standard Break from Life
Pennywise, Homeless
Thursday, How Long is the Night?

Raising your Kids Green or Finding the Jello at Walgreens….

A couple of days ago my son started singing along to “Kill the Poor” by the Dead Kennedys. Two things dawned on me. First off, I was so proud of my boy for singing along to good music. Second, was the realization of my influence in him. Here he is, two years old, singing along to a song that is about class warfare. This is my kid. Mine. Every time I turn my music on in the van (hey if I’m in the captain’s seat and there are no other people of equal rank, ie my wife Katie, I control the music. End of discussion. And no that is not fascist.) these kids are soaking it in, learning, absorbing my politics.

The first and only time I saw former front man to the Dead Kennedys, Jello Biafra, in person was at a Green Party Rally at the Congress theater in 2001. It was the birthplace of me thinking politically. Fresh out of high school and in my first year at community college. It all started the day that George W. Bush held a campaign event at College of DuPage in the Art building’s courtyard. I wasn’t able to get to my classes since the building went on lockdown as soon as he showed up. There were snipers in the roof. I had nothing better to do, so I joined up with the Campus Greens group that was setting up a priest march around campus. Who did I bump into but my future wife who I hadn’t really seen since graduating. She was there to observe and cause a little hell. She joined in with our “BUSH AND GORE MAKE ME WANT TO RALPH!!” chants, got in people’s faces and vehemently argued for women’s right to choice. She doesn’t know it, but I was in love with her right then and there.

We then met up again at the Campus Greens organized rally at the Congress. Listened to Jello Biafra, cornel West, Ani Difranco, and Ralph Nader speak to an audience of young people that hadn’t even learned why they were pissed off yet. I was now a third party supporting, young leftist and the music I had been listening to for years suddenly made more sense than ever.

Flash forward a dozen years later and I’m sitting in the parking lot of the walgreens in my home town listening to my 2yo son sing “Kill the Poor”. If we can get this next generation thinking critically about the system at 2, then we might actually be changing the world in ways we could have only dreamed about when we were standing in that crowd at the Congress theater all those years ago.

Recommended track list:
Dead Kennedys: Kill the Poor
NOFX: Murder the Government
Strike Anywhere: Riot of Words

Confusion and Delay on the L or the Worst Episode of Thomas EVER

Earlier today we decided to go into the city to attend a Labor Day birth rally in front of the headquarters for the AMA. Our daughter has been really wanting to go for a train ride so we figured two birds with one stone; take the L to get to the rally.

Getting there was great. We got the nice handicap seat with room for the stroller. Our daughter had a window to look out the whole time. We got to our atop, walked the couple of blocks to the rally where our daughter immediately made new friends to run around with while we networked and lent our support.

The craziness happened on the way home. We couldn’t get seats for the first couple of stops so of course that led to a massive meltdown. Then we got seats, but they didn’t have enough windows… meltdown. Now keep in mind that its essentially nap time, so I’m just letting the arched back wailing roll right off me. A window seat opens up across the aisle so Katie and our now perfect angel move there.

Meanwhile… Crazy wannabe thug, Shitty Rapper is making the rounds irritating the fuck out of everyone on the train. He’s aggressively “rapping” in people’s faces about how tough he is and how to survive you gotta shoot people and yadda yadda… Not at all derivative. He eventually makes his way over to our family and this other guy decides he’s had enough of Shitty Rapper and is aggravated by the language he’s spouting off in front of the kiddos. He tells him to cool it and be respectful to the children. SR backs off a little and sarcastically “agrees”. Other dude reiterates that he needs to back down before he calls the “Po”. SR flips his shit. The protector of the virgin ears then moves to shield the kids in case shit gets real.

Shit. Gets. Real.

In a flurry of chest beating and screaming in each others faces that is now a blur of motion and noise as i try to remember it, Shitty Rapper lifts his shirt and says he’s got a 50, though I didn’t see a gun. Not like we stuck around to see if he was going to back that up. We grabbed the kids and hopped off at the stop that we were luckily at and waited for the next train to come. It came and we weren’t delayed, so I assume everything worked out in the end, but yeah…

Go figure that the first time a fight breaks out in front of me on the L we would have the kids with us. That was probably the worst thing I have ever experienced on the train. Much worse than your average crazy person L story. You know like the mutterers, the old guy with the prostitute, the girl who talks too loudly on her cell phone about every detail of her life. Regular crazy. They don’t bother you and you don’t bother them. Now I’m still a little shaken up, Katie is refusing to let the kids ride the L for a long time, and I’m using this to vent enough to be able to get myself to hopefully sleep. I can’t wait to ride it again tomorrow to got to class. Yay.

Recommended Track list:

Alkaline Trio: Trucks and Trains
Saves the Day: Third Engine
Matt Skiba: the City That Day
Johnny Cash: City of New Orleans

Education system anxiety…

Of all the things that are stressful about parenthood, choosing a school for your kids is up there. The other day we visited a Montessori school down the street from our home and absolutely fell in love with it. Being a kid that grew up in the public school system, I can see the pluses and minuses. Yes, socially there is an advantage to how public schools operate, a large number of kids are grouped into a setting where they are encouraged to make friendships and be exposed to a large variety of people. There’s of course the financial side too. The fact that public schools are covered in your taxes is nice.

Here’s my guff though… Public schools are the first to lose funding. The child to teacher ratio is getting out of hand due to spending cuts. You know, because it makes sense to cut teachers before you cut anything else. What else is underfunded in public schools? Yeah, that’s the arts, obviously something near and dear to me.

I was one of those smart kids that slipped through the cracks. I wasn’t properly challenged until middle school where I was suddenly thrown into the advanced English and math classes. I always felt like the dumbest smart kid since everyone else had been supported and encouraged in these subjects for the years before. I was the outcast of the outcasts. That being said, I also had a huge problem with authority. Yeah had. S what did I do? I stopped caring and coasted by. I managed to do so in a way that i was able to get out of high school a full year early because I didn’t care for the system and I knew how to make it work for me.

I don’t want that to happen to my kids. I Want them to be challenged and encouraged to do their best in school. I don’t want them to be the outcast of the outcasts, not knowing where they belonged. Sure that contributed to my becoming the person I am today, introduced me to the punk scene way back when. Solidified my political all beliefs. BUT, my kids have something I didn’t have that can make up for that… An awesome punk dad. They’ll still be super unique and exposed to so much of that.

The school we visited had everything we were looking for and want for our kids.there is a low student to teacher ratio, it’s a large school (it’s actually housed inside a giant old church and has a very Hogwarts-y feel to it), it’s double Montessori certified, close to home, mixed age groups, individualized learning, and a huge bonus, there’s financial aid for your second year onwards. Oh and it goes all the way through middle school, so they’ll have the continuity that I never had as a kid.

That’s why.

Recommended track list:
Operation Ivy: Gonna Find You
The Sex Pistols: Seventeen
The Minutemen: God Bows to Math

Babies, Locks, Firemen, and how the System saved my Son

Pretty quickly, things in this family go from hectic, to fun, to nitemarish. This is one of those instances and is pretty much the story of my life…

The nite before last, my wife was attending a birth as a doula. That is after getting off of work at her full time job.. The kids and I spent most of the day driving around doing errands. While she was finishing up at job number one her client went into full labor and we had to drive straight out to Dekalb so she could get there in time. The kids and I dropped her off and then drove all the way back home where we had a sleep over in the living room waiting for the call that the baby was here and we could get Mom. This was the best part of my day.

When we got that call is where it gets a little more crazy. Once we picked her up the next morning we had to book it straight back to her other job. We dropped her off, had lunch at McDonald’s and then, since I was sick of driving, we decided to spend the day at Woodfield Mall. We had a blast browsing at the Disney store and mostly they played on the giant foam Looney Tunes playground. By the way, i have apparently neglected to include Looney Tunes in their learning experience and had to give my daughter a crash course on who’s who. Oops. We rounded out the day by picking up my wife and getting hot dogs at the local hot dog joint down the street from home. It was a pretty great day…

It was, that is, until the kids went to wash up after dinner while Katie and I tried to talk and catch up with each other. My 4yo daughter went to go wash her hands after eating and her almost 2yo brother decided to trot in after her. Pushing happened over who got to use the sink and then we here the door slam shut. And click. Our daughter is standing outside the bathroom, our son inside. He had just locked himself into the bathroom. Shit just got real.

Little side note: We live in a pretty old building and the doors aren’t those (now in my opinion) awesome new doors where you can take a screw driver and unlock it from the outside. No this is a serious deadbolt, only locks from the inside, honest to gods nitemare.

We took turns trying to coax him into unlocking it, which at first he was laughing about. At one point our daughter even shoved us out of he way because, “he only listens to me and does everything I tell him to do”. Not this time. Then after twenty minutes of that not working, panic set in for all parties. He was sobbing because Mom and Dad couldn’t save him. Our daughter was freaking out, and frankly so were we. We tried taking off the door knob to see if we could somehow reach the lock. Nope, now we just had a locked door with no knob. We tried kicking it in like in the movies. Nope. Stupid old solid door… Eventually I threw in the towel and called 911. The dispatcher tried her best to calm me down and told me the fire department was on the way. Fire truck and all.

They got there and tried a few things until they ended up using this ratchet bar thing that stretched the door frame enough to pry the door open. He was finally out. Soaked from head to toe in sweat and tears. The lieutenant fireman told our son that he should come outside where he got to see their truck and was awarded a junior firefighter hat and badge. And that’s the story of my life.

Recommended track list:

Social Distortion: Story of my life
Operation Ivy: Room Without a Window
Minor Threat: Screaming at a Wall
The Replacements: Kick Your Door Down
Stiff Little Fingers: State of Emergency

When an Anniversary date becomes a family nite and why that’s ok.

My wife and I just celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. Well, at least we were creative in how we celebrated it. She just started a new job and we haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together since. Last Thursday we decided to do something crazy. Some fun family activity to make the Summer feel extra summer-y. We went to the drive-in.
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