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9 Things I Learned in 2009

It's 2010 now, and has been for the last month. Alas, I have recently moved and was disconnected from the Internet during most of that time. This is why my blog has been missing for several weeks now, and why I haven't yet done my traditional end-of-the-year blogs. I'm back now, however, and ready to get started once again. So, with a simple apology for tardiness and without any further ado, I present to you the nine things I learned in 2009.


1.
Your dignity is the first thing to go
NOT ME!
This is not me!


It would take several dozen blog entries to truly recount everything I've learned as a new parent, but I wouldn't want to bore you with these things. If you really want to know what it's like, either have one or go out and get one (I'm pretty sure they're on sale at Wal-Mart at three for fifty bucks). But one thing I will share with you is how quickly and unceremoniously you volunteer your dignity away.

For example, this morning I caught myself loudly singing a song about poop set to the music of Tchiakovsky's 1812 Overture. My infant son was upstairs at the time. When I realized what I was doing, I kept right on singing.

It surprises me because, even though I was always good with kids, before I had one of my own, I used to be pretty reserved about singing stupid songs or making baby noises. Now, I talk in baby mode almost as much as I talk normally (if not more). Occasionally, I'll stub my toe or something and actually swear in that tone of voice, making for a truly unusual moment, as if the Muppets just started using the f word without warning.

And it goes beyond just being at home, too. I have no qualms about being in public and discussing the baby's excrement habits or wearing a shirt that has recently been stained with vomit. I never thought I'd be that guy, but there it is.


2.
There really is hope for America
Tea Party 4/15/09
Vindication that our founding fathers were right to have faith in the people


As a Libertarian, I've been intensely frustrated for the last decade or so that the two main political parties in this country have taken the system over so completely. I was even more frustrated at people who insist that they must be either Republican or Democrat, with no real grey areas inbetween. Sure, you can find Republicans who are pro-choice or Democrats who believe in strong national defense, but regardless of how far they depart from the dogma of their party, they still align themselves with that party and refuse to consider a third option.

President Bush--despite his campaign promises of change--was not a great president, as evidenced by his out of control spending, animosity towards science, and extreme ties to the religious right. However, President Obama--despite his campaign promises of change--is not the cure, as evidenced by his out of control spending, desire to have the government take over everything from industry to health care, and his extreme ties to the progressive left. Given this back-and-forth between political parties that are both fatally flawed, my faith in the American people was a little shaky as 2009 dawned.

Then a funny thing happened when people started organizing against the government, and they did it in a truly non-partisan way. It was a genuine populist movement--the first in a generation or two--and even though the Tea Parties were ignored, derided, or villified when they first came on the scene, by the end of the year, they were having a huge impact on the political stage. Here's hoping that they stay independent from the two major political parties and continue to make waves in Washington. If it means starting another political party (some are already calling it the Tea Party), then so much the better. May it not be hijacked by corrupt zealots.


3.
Going back home isn't so bad
Home Sweet Home
...or at least it could always be worse.


For the better part of a year, Amelia and I were dreading the possibility that we'd have to move in with my parents if our money problems didn't get solved. Early this year, that's exactly what happened and we had to pack up and move back to Florida. We were not happy about the development, and feared the worst.

I love and get along with my family. However, loving people and being able to live with them do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. This was especially a concern for Amelia, who was moving in with people she'd never lived with before--her inlaws--and I was certain it would eventually go bad.

Luckily, the experience wasn't nearly as bad as we were expecting, and it all worked out in the end. I would classify it as a notch or two above bearable, occasionally even enjoyable, and now that I've moved away again, I find myself missing it. Still, it's good to be on our own feet again.


4.
Cancer is sudden and frightening, but not unbeatable
Colon Cancer
This was the only Google image result that didn't look like a David Cronenberg movie prop


Another reason going home turned out to be a good thing was that I was able to be there for my father when he was diagnosed with colon cancer a few months ago. I'm not going to lie to you; it scared the living crap out of me and everybody else. Just the word "cancer" is enough to change everything or darken the mood of a room, and when it touches somebody close to you, there's no way to be prepared for it. For a few days, it seemed possible that my father was going to die, and that hit me pretty damn hard.

Luckily, those worst fears weren't realized, and everything has turned out fine for my father. He had to undergo surgery and six months of chemotherapy (which is still ongoing), but in the end, he's doing great. Thank God for modern medicine and competitive healthcare; without them, my father would not be here to read this.

So while cancer lives up to its reputation--and for many out there is still an unforgiving bastard--it is not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination. This is an important lesson that I may not have wanted to learn, but I am glad to have learned it.


5.
If you take your baby to the movies, don't tell anyone
Baby with tattoo
Also, people tend to freak out when you show them your baby's new tatt; you just can't please some people!


I write about controversial subjects all the time. I made a few of my friends angry at me when I wrote about how the Iraq War was a necessary one, and I've suffered my fair share of flame wars over things I've written about global warming. I've also written about other contentious subjects like universal healthcare, skepticism, the anti-vaccination movement, and Star Trek. But of all the apparently unbelievable things I've ever written on the Internet, nothing has gotten me in more trouble than innocently pondering whether or not it was a good idea to take my six-month-old son to a Harry Potter flick.

Seriously, I could call the Pope a cocksucker and talk about how I pissed on the baby Jesus (note: I have never urinated on the baby Jesus, and have no intentions of doing so) and I probably wouldn't get as much negative feedback as I did when I tried to explain that my baby really was well-behaved at the movie theater. It's strange, but of all the things we claim to hold dear to us--politics, religion, and whatnot--I think we take our entertainment even more seriously.

I am also surprised at this because I can't remember the last time I went to the movie theater and wasn't disturbed by some texting asshole or group of jerks who decide to hold a conversation during the movie or talk to the movie screen. On the grand scheme of problems at the movie theater, babies seem pretty low on the list to me, and they did before I was ever a parent. Teenagers are a much bigger problem, and I might consider refusing to take my son to the movies when he's that age.

So yeah, if you decide to take your baby to the movies, don't tell anyone about it. Just call the Pope a cocksucker instead; people will be far more likely to forgive you for that.


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-e. magill 2/6/2010








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