Wednesday: 19.April.2006

Life's Best Moments

Played Rad dad today. Had the little guy. I call him the Bug. [Most babies are cute as a bug's ear. He's cute as the whole bug. =) ] Wish I could post some photos .. cuz he pretty dang adorable .. but I can't.

Took him for a walk at Main Beach, here in Laguna, early this morning. We didn't even make it to the shore before he buried his head in my chest, which means it's time to nap. Didn't expect that so early.

The sound of the ocean has always lulled him to sleep (even when the surf is loud and thunderous). Maybe that's cuz the first place we took him after we brought him home from the hospital was to the beach (at Crystal Cove) when he was 5 days old. Or maybe it's cuz I used to walk him on the beach at sunset most nights for the first few months of his life.

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So anyway, I'm strolling along the shore this morning, early, slowly, carrying the bug, who's fast asleep. Tide is low. There's lots of beach to walk on. Picture-perfect day. Not too hot, not too cold.

And I pass a big guy who's walking the other way (with his dog). We make eye contact. "Best moments of your life, right there," he says to me before passing by.

A minute later, I pass another guy, much older, who says, "Feels great, doesn't it?" I returned a silent smile (not wanting to wake the little guy).

Yet another minute later, a girl passes by, saying, "Wish I had my camera. You guys make a great picture."

I always get lots of smiles (when he's asleep), but rarely so many comments like today. Maybe it cuz it was so nice today, which made people so friendly.

These comments reminded me to feel grateful. I mean, yes it *does* feel great when I'm carrying him and his little head is asleep on my chest. And yes, it's obviously gonna be one of life's more cherished moments .. but sometimes you forget .. cuz life ain't always easy.

But today I remembered .. thanks to three strangers, who I've never seen before (and might never see again). Feeling particularly thankful today .. for one of life's best moments.

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 19April2006

Saturday: 15.April.2006

Met Babalu Sobral: UFC fighter

While soaking in the jacuzzi this afternoon at the 24 Hour Fitness club in Costa Mesa (the big one on 19th street), I noticed two heavily tattooed guys walk into the pool area.

One of them looked *exactly* like the Brazilian UFC fighter Babalu Sobral. (Here's a photo of Babalu in action. He's the guy on the top. He doesn't lose very often.)

Both guys spent time soaking in the giant jacuzzi before heading over to the pool, where they swam laps.

I wasn't sure it was Babalu, and couldn't imagine what he would be doing in Costa Mesa, since he fights out of Rio de Janeiro, but would have regretted not approaching him .. if it were indeed him.

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I thought it might be him cuz all the other swimmers wore equipment, such as caps, hand-paddles, fins, while these two guys didn't even wear goggles. That's kinda how Babalu fights: gets right down to business. No fancy fluff.

So, while they took a break from swimming laps, I walked up and said, "Excuse me. You look *just* like the UFC fighter Babalu". He grinned like a cat that ate the canary and said, "I know that guy."

"Is that you?" I asked. He nodded, looking almost shy, then reached out his (tattooed) arm to shake. I introduced myself. His grip was gentle, but you could still feel the power in his hands. It felt as if he ever grabbed hold of you, you wouldn't get away.

I told him how I saw his last fight, where his eye was badly swollen. (It looked downright grotesque.) But Babalu came back and won the match. Most impressive. Obviously he has a lot of heart. And never says die.

I asked his buddy, "Did you see that fight?" His buddy said, "I was there!"

Later, on the way home, I stopped at La Fogata (which is where I met Kobe, incidentally), and noticed in the sports page there that there is a UFC fight scheduled at the Anaheim Pond tonight. So maybe Babalu is in town to watch the fights.

This fight sold out in record time, faster than any other UFC fight in the organization's 13 year history. The sport is growing rapidly, cuz it's real. These type of fights used to be outlawed here, until Arnold signed a bill legalizing them. In many states, they are *still* illegal.

Still wasn't sure it was really Babalu until I got home and checked the Internet, and examined his tattoos online, especially those on his right arm. Yep, that was him alright. No doubt about it. Tattoos were exactly he same.

The 24 Hour Fitness club in Costa Mesa (the one on 19th street) is the biggest health club I have ever been in. It's huge: has two floors crammed full of equipment. I go there on days when the sauna at the club in Newport Beach isn't working, and when I'm in the area.

For more on this topic, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: renato babalu sobral ufc

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 15April2006

Friday: 14.April.2006

Meeting the Family

Rode up to Bakersfield yesterday (co-pilot), north of Los Angeles (3 hour drive), with Miss Julie & her family .. to help celebrate little Frances' 5th birthday (niece). Different family members live in different parts of the state, so Bakersfield is a central location where all can meet.

Finally met Julie's dad yesterday. Been looking forward to that (as you might imagine). Also met her dad's wife, which represents the last of her immediate family.

They were all gracious and welcoming. I want everyone to like me, of course, and Julie assures me they do.

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Julie was looking so pretty yesterday that I had trouble concentrating. It was the first time I've seen her wearing a dress (colorful skirt, fringed with black lace).

Anyway, we had dinner at the tallest building in Bakersfield, on the very top floor, which offered an impressive view of the city. Gorgeous sunset.

Private dinner club, related to the oil industry there. Julie's mom found the place by calling the Bakersfield chamber of commerce. They had a dress code, so everyone had to dress up. (Normally, I only dress up to see the judge.)

It has been a while since I felt part of a family like this. Both my parents have long since passed. Mom died more than 20 years ago, dad over 10 .. so I've been orphaned for a long time.

The rest of my family resides on the East coast. I'm the black sheep who moved to California (wanted a state of my own to live in). And that's okay, but it does get lonely sometimes.

Regarding relationships, I've learned not to force anything. Things need to develop naturally, at their own pace. But so far, things seem to be proceeding well, healthy.

Tonight we're going to Julie's girlfriend's house, who lives in Huntington Beach, for a barbeque there. I'm just going with the flow .. being myself .. nothing more, nothing less. It's like like riding a wave .. and what a nice wave it is.

Posted by Rad at Friday: 14April2006

Wednesday: 12.April.2006

Post-traumatic psychological re-integration (PTPR)

When we encounter tough times (like I did this past year) I think we survive by disconnecting somewhat, psychically .. cuz, at the time, the bad stuff is too much to handle.

Later, as life returns to normal, we begin to re-integrate the pieces of our traumatized psyche. That's when we begin to deal with the yucky emotions stored from those tough times. At least that's how it works for me.

When the sh!t hits the fan of life, we can't afford to lose it. So we shunt negative emotions, in order to focus on the crisis at hand .. undebilitated by the intensifying distortion that accompanies emotional upheaval.

That's kinda where I am now. Feeling emotionally whacked today. The war is over. Time to pick up the pieces of my post-nuclear life and move on. I can actually feel myself re-integrating.

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Whew. You don't realize how far away you've been until you head for home. Here is where a special friend can help .. (I'm not sure it can be done solo) .. processing all those toxic emotions. (I have a lake full.)

My special friend has an antidote, which she dispenses at regular intervals. Her anti-venom neutralizes toxins, makes the bad stuff go away, one vat at a time. Whoosh, like a power flush. A little love neutralizes a lot of hate.

I've been sharing experiences regarding the new relationship, but privately, I've been scrutinizing things .. taking an emotionally cautious approach .. (the Dog calls it the whipped-pup syndrome) .. probably cuz the previous relationship turned so nasty.

But I can now see, months later, she's the real deal. It's like finding a species you thought was extinct. Seems surreal.

Just thought I'd share some of that. My life feels like it has turned a corner. Feels good to have somebody there to wipe away your tears. I've cried so many of them alone.

With that said, I'm now going to write a check to Uncle Sam (taxes). Been putting it off for weeks. A few thousand dollars. All this money I been making with the Google ads you see hosted here, is (unfortunately) taxable. Not quite the free money tree I thought it would be.

The idea of writing that check makes me swallow hard. Cuz I have so many legal bills to pay, and I haven't paid any Google taxes all year. Also have to pay matching social security (another way of saying double social security), cuz Uncle Sam considers me self-employed .. (or so my tax lady says).

In other news, I had the little guy today. Started the day by watching surfers from the Newport Beach pier (on the Balboa peninsula). Lots of Asian guys there, fishing at the end of the pier. He said da-da today for the first time. Pretty cool. Wish I could post some pictures, cuz he's really beautiful.

If you came looking for technical insights, the guys in the forums can help. They're not whacked out, like me. (Or maybe it's just the full moon.)

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 12April2006

Monday: 10.April.2006

Finding love in your 40's

Spending lots of time with new friend, developing the new relationship, meeting her family members. We all had dinner Saturday nite at Tutto Mare (Newport Beach) for her folks' wedding anniversary. (I ordered my favorite: pasta puttanesca.)

You recall how fun it can be .. in the early stages of a relationship .. when everything is shiny and new. The days seem brighter, the grass greener, sky bluer. It has been a long time since my sky was this blue.

Over the years, I've accumulated much experience in this area (maybe too much), having learned a thing or two about the dynamics of romantic relationships (most of it, unfortunately, the hard way.)

An observation: I've noticed that the agreeability of women tends to decrease as you get older. Not always. And sometimes you get lucky (like I did)..

.. but as a general rule, I've found that women wax cantankerous as the years pass (particularly if they've never been married).

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Friends speculate this is cuz older women have had more opportunities to engage in relationships where they become embittered & resentful when they don't work out.

It's no secret that the 40-year-old woman is more likely to have been burned (romantically) than the girl who's still in her 20's, particularly if she has never been married.

You might also argue that the good ones get snapped up earlier .. like properties in a seaside community .. or bargains at a garage sale. Again, exceptions abound.

It's also speculated that women sometimes feel obligated to take out their frustrations from past relationships on current ones (read: on you & me), cuz there's often nowhere else for it to go.

This is why the first question I ask any new prospect is, "How was your dad?"

If they respond with something like, "I hope the bastard rots in hell," .. uh, that's usually not a good sign .. cuz there's a good chance they'll eventually transfer some of that anger to you (me), since it can't be directed where it ought. That anger-vent-path is closed.

It's not intentional, of course. But deep-seated anger & resentment has a way of pushing its way to the surface, one way or another. The toxic pressure will keep building until it finds an alternate vent-path.

Maybe you've heard the saying electricity follows the path of least resistance. The same can be said for emotional distress.

By virtue of sheer proximity, you're likely to make a convenient lightning rod for negative emotions. And if you happen to look like hated-dad, or (worse) a krappy old boyfriend, then the projection of anger becomes too easy. Irresistible.

This is precisely the kind of thing that was discussed at last week's co-parenting class. The instructor (PhD) explained how anger and resentment "create an energy". (I've never heard it put that way before.)

He continued to explain that it becomes necessary to process ("siphon off") this negative energy .. thru some safe outlet (therapy, exercise, massage, journaling, etc.) or it will build up, like a volcano .. until it explodes, spewing emotional vomit on whoever happens to be closest (primarily the partner). Seems unfair, no?

I remember the instructor saying, "The ability to identify your emotions, and *express* them .. is HUGE." The statement continued to ring in my ears. Huge. This was never a skill I was encouraged to develop. Rather, the opposite was true.

Speaking of identifying and expressing emotions .. today I feel cared for, I feel appreciated, heard, understood, comforted, welcomed, desired .. things I haven't felt for a long time.

I'm certainly no expert - far from it - but I have learned a thing or two about what NOT to do. Similar to my dealings with computers, I've learned a lot about what *doesn't* work.

Some of us are slow learners. Takes us a while to catch on, to find our groove. I have more to share on this topic, but we'll save that for another day. Again, my views are based on first-hand experience, from personal observations, gathered over the course of many years.

Anyway, Miss Julie said, "My mom really likes you." And as you know, the mom-hurdle is the biggest one you need to get over in any new relationship (.. cuz girls listen to their moms). This is especially true for me, since I now live with mom. =) What a wild ride it has been.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 10April2006

Sunday: 02.April.2006

Kids First Co-parenting classes

Started attending co-parenting classes. Program is called Kids First. Hand-out reads: KIDS FIRST is an interactive educational program designed to meet the needs of children whose parents are separated or divorced.

Classes are held in Orange, at the Chapman University campus. Beautiful campus, great architecture. I go every Saturday morning. (Not to be confused with my weekly support group meetings.)

Most people are there (I learned) cuz of court orders. Judge says they gotta go. Cost: $150.

Yesterday, the instructor went around the room and asked everybody to share a little of their story, i.e. why they were there .. as much or as little as they felt comfortable with.

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Some shared a lot. Others (like me) shared very little. This part took most of the class, but was cool (cuz misery loves company).

Quickly became obvious that most people there have problems bigger than mine. But I had the youngest child there. (He's only 1 year old.) Most parents there had kids who are 7, 8 or 9. Some were 14 or 15.

Kids go to separate rooms (with other kids of their age group). Four is the minimum age for kids. All stories shared were interesting. Most unfortunate. Some heartbreaking. A few seemed farfetched.

The program lasts 7 weeks. ~20 people in my class. Ex's go to different rooms (wise move). Sure would be interesting to hear each side of the story (both sides).

The one consistent theme I heard is that everybody thinks the *other* partner is the source of all problems in the relationship. The problem is never with them. (I was the only one who said anything positive about my ex.) Interesting how my classroom just happened to get all the GOOD parents. The other classroom must've had all the "bad" ones. =)

It struck me how some of the women there seemed so nice, so agreeable, so eager to work things out, while others seemed bitter, resentful, angry .. ready to 'fight' at the drop of a hat. The differences appeared dramatic.

Yesterday, the instructor talked about how old PATTERNS can influence current behavior. For example, if someone happened to grow up in a home where abuse was prevalent (in one its many forms), experience has shown that they often migrate toward similar relationships .. NOT because that's what they enjoy, but because that's what they find *familiar*.

He also said the ability to identify your feelings and express them is "a BIG thing" .. for both children and parents.

Many participants shared details of judgments handed down by the courts. It became obvious there's no rhyme nor reason to rulings. Every judge sees things differently.

Must admit, when I first approached the registration desk, I felt something of a failure (it was raining) .. like I was here with all these people who can't get figure out how to get along .. who need to have somebody hold their hand and tell them how to do it .. who need remedial training. I've never had a remedial course in my life.

I know it takes two to tango. But I still felt like a failure. And I hate that feeling .. which is why I'm more determined than ever to make this current relationship work.

Anyway, these classes intrude on my Saturdays, but are interesting. Hopefully I'll learn a few tricks I can put to practical use. Can't hurt. Certainly can't make things any worse.

[Off-topic .. BTW - This page is - by far - the *best* article I've read on the physics of nuclear weapons .. the word 'best' here meaning: presenting complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand. Worth the short read.]

Fission is splitting big elements, such as uranium & plutonium. Fusion is putting together small elements, such as hydrogen & helium. Fusion is better, cuz it releases more energy, but is harder to do. The sun uses fusion. Nuclear plants use fission.

The end of the world is likely to come this way. So at least you'll know what's happening when you see it coming. =)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. For more info on Kids First, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: kids first co-parenting classes .. for those of you who (like me) just can't get it together.

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 02April2006