Friday, March 25, 2011

St Chris

Authentic portrait of St PatrickImage via WikipediaI've pretty much always hated violence.  There was a lot of it about when and where I grew up.  Skin heads. Punks.  Sectarian troubles. Gangs. Neds.

When we lived in London violence was definitely there, but with luck and experience you could pretty much avoid it.  When I first moved there, I thought it'd be too dangerous and frustrating to ride my motorcycle to work.  Then on the crowded London Underground one day, I watched two guys start to fight because one wanted off the train and the other didn't want to lose his spot on the carriage.  From then on I rode my bike whenever I felt able.  I figured that on the Underground you took a low probability risk of a random stranger trying to kill you, either by knife or bomb.  On my bike I took the view that there was a greater honesty and predictability, as pretty much every car, truck, bus and taxi driver would kill you if gave them the chance.

Being here in Los Angeles you don't really see the violence so much, actually you don't people much as we are always in our cars.  I even sign up to the local police email system, nixle, and although sometimes there are a few ongoing events, it doesn't seem like there's the concentration of 'minor' violence here - certainly not in the valley.

If you've managed to come to see any of the theatre that we've produced here in Hollywood, then chances are you might of spotted Chris.  He's a big guy, quiet, gentle and distinctly cheeky - there's more than one of our female friends whose asked his status - but he had a long term girlfriend at that point.  He helped set up and run the sound, lights and even operated a camera when we were live streaming.

On St Patrick's Day night Chris was leaving a bar in Hollywood and spotted 4 guys beating someone up.  I'd like to say that he should have just called the cops, but I wasn't there so I don't feel I have the right to such an opinion.  The outcome was that Chris was stabbed and now has staples and 280 stitches in his side.  He's leaving for Florida now for a long recuperation with his parents.

With incidents of violence there is usually nothing interesting or unique to be said.  It all seems so pointless and horrific. 

I wish Chris a simple, speedy recovery and hope he returns soon.
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Monday, March 21, 2011

It's not just me.

You could be forgiven for thinking it's just me, but it's not.  I know there's probably quite a few stay at home dads out there in the world.  There's probably quite a few that have partners bringing home the bacon, so to speak.  There's probably quite a few living in Los Angeles.  I guess there's some whose partner is a performer / comedienne.  But have they also come here from the UK?  Did they have a 'proper' job back there? Did they come here in the last couple of years?  Do they have 2 kids?

Well apparently yes.  I met Dan a couple of weeks ago, when we met up at his house.  We know his wife, Julia Morris, through our visits to the Edinburgh Festival and, er, "happy nonsense" in the bars of comedy venues.  So it was a new experience to be meeting again after quite a few years, the smell of stale beer replaced with... Acht, yes we had those conversations about diapers and sleeping and tantrums and those comedy moments that only a toddler can provide. 

Back to the point.  Dan.  He suffers the same visa issues as I.  The ladies have their visas to work due the Department of Homeland Security agreeing to their 'extraordinary ability.'  Dan and I both have MBAs - I forgot to mention that in the similarities!   Despite the qualifications and career experience we've not yet been recognized for our abilities by the folks at the Department of Homeland Security.  So we arrived here with the same rights as our children, mere dependents, draining the resources of our wives of extraordinary ability...

We had a lot to talk about and, both being from the UK, we could understand each other a full speed chat.  He also has suffered the stunned looks and completely made up coffee orders - and he doesn't even have a strong an accent.  So cutting to the chase, Lynn and Julia are accusing us of having a bro'mance.

We met up last week and that's where I started to notice the differences.  I'd say we're both comfortable in our roles and completely unchallenged in our masculinity.  However, Dan has two girls.  He's surrounded by girls all day every day.  So Dan's first suggestion as to where we should meet.... a gun club!  When we discovered it was closed during the day, he followed up suggesting a batting cage.  I wonder if he's a little bored of princesses and make up?  I'd have been happy with a latte and a mani pedi.... ;-)

Dan's bendy bat courtesy of Blackberry Bold

There's nothing quite like wondering what it will be like to have baseballs be fired at you at 50 mph.  The experience was surprisingly fun.  Both of us managed to hit about 80% of the little missiles and I think I may have discovered a new respect for this sport.  Soon I'll be a proper man, able to hold conversations with America men about baseball and bullets - and all thanks to the effect of Julia and Dan's beautiful princesses.
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Friday, March 11, 2011


The guilt trip starts here.
I feel like I achieved nothing last week.

Monday was probably the best day of the week.  My youngest had a trike-athon at his pre-school.  He was the epitome of awesome. (I must be proper a American now just by using the 'awesome' word.)  Initially all the kids were a little confused.  My guy just kept shoving his oversized rollerskate thing into the back of whoever was unfortunate enough to get in the way.  So I told him to go around and overtake his class mates.  Well he liked this and so he immediately turned the procession into a race.  Not a normal race as he was the only one racing, but by the end of it there was no doubt as to who had won.  My boy did 8 laps and his closest rival did 5.

He didn't win because it wasn't a race, however if there ever is a race he will have the mental advantage through his performance that day!

When I picked him up from pre-school later on, he seemed a little warm.  After we'd been home for about 30 minutes he was definitely hot and so I immediately gave him some paracetamol to lower his temperature.  Young kids can be susceptible to febrile convulsions due to fevers and there has been some history in our family, so we never take chances.

And that was the beginning of the end of my week.  He was fine all day Tuesday - and so he should have been, Dad was on hand at a moments notice for his every whim.  He wasn't lethargic and was fever free, so I took him back to pre-school on Wednesday.  By 10:30 he was back home, having had another mild fever.  He had another episode later in the day and so I took him to see the doctor on Thursday morning.  Apparently he had a mild bronchitis, so he has yet more antibiotics and had to stay home on Friday too.

In my mind, throughout the week I failed to give the level of care and attention to my son that I should have.  At the same time, I had tried to continue to progress my existing projects and tasks, but ultimately I had failed to make headway as much as I thought I could have.  I felt that I should have taken him to see the Doctor on Tuesday, not waited till Thursday and that I should have been able to focus my time more effectively to achieve more.

When I talked to Lynn about how rotten I felt about the week, I discovered that this is not an uncommon experience for the stay at home parent.  As ever, she managed to sum the whole thing up in a sentence.  "When you're looking after a sick child, you earn a PhD in Guilt."

So I am trying to cut myself some slack.  No one was hurt.  I juggled one sick kid, one healthy child's school schedule and still managed to progress some of my project commitments.  It's not a race and even if it were, it's not a race that can be won.
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