In case you missed my spring column in Austin Monthly Home, on shelves now!!!
by JB Hager,posted Mar 21 2009 2:54PM
I was once on over the top, organized, anal-retentive freak. You know, to the point where it was quite annoying. I was pressed, waxed and sporting a handheld label maker with pride. My apartment was always ready for guests on a moments notice. I could have it visitor ready during their elevator ride up to my place. I recall a time when April 15th would roll around and I could pull my files out of my desk, run a report on quicken and my taxes where done. If I needed a receipt for the purchase of a battery from three years ago, I could find it in a heartbeat. My wife remembers that guy and wonders where he went. I don’t know where the old JB is, but I can tell you when he left. He departed on November 26th, 2001. This was the day that I became a father and my mind warped and my priorities changed. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. Those of you who have not yet had children or are expecting, I am about to give you a glimpse into your future.
Let me take you on a little visual tour of my house. Just to be clear and avoid us coming across as slobs, my house is always clean. You could eat off the floor. It just has the distinct markings that a child lives there. Next to our front door you’ll always find my daughters backpack, jacket and shoes. Our daughter can slip them off in one fluid motion when she walks in the door. Our living room is filled with extreme toys. Next to our lounge chair is an electric scooter that is charging. Next to the sofa is an electric car that is also charging. On the kitchen table is an remote control helicopter this is, you guessed it, charging. It seems every outlet is filled with a charger of some sort for portable dvd, ipods, DS Nitinendo or something. Whenever we sit on the sofa something needs to be moved, a pogo stick, hulk gloves or possibly and critter from outdoors, being held against it’s will.
I always envisioned a quite office where I could find solitude. It’s become the most chaotic room in the house. My office has become the office/playroom/family room/exercise room. The shelves meant to organize my work, taxes, books are filled with dinosaurs, board games, and puzzles. It’s not uncommon to be working in the wee hours of the morning, the only time I am alone, only to have Squeeky the hamster cruise across my keyboard. The exercise equipment that “folds for easy storage” has lost its motivation to fold and store. At least it’s being used. On our tour, I can take you quickly from the family room to the bathroom because we have our choice of transportation available anywhere you look; skateboards, bikes, stilts. The bathroom is filled with gimmicks to entertain. When you pull back the shower curtain you literally can’t see the bottom of the tub. It’s a porcelain toy box of squirt guns, dolphins, mermaids and animal shaped bath gels. When I was growing up I don’t recall needing scuba gear.
Outside our home isn’t much different. We have a small yard filled with nerfs, balls, bats, kites and inflatable’s. Not being much of a judge of size while ordering online, I apparently purchased the largest trampoline known to mankind. You open the door, walk to the end of the deck and all you see is my Ringling Brothers approved larger than life trampoline, leaving no yard whatsoever. Oh well, less mowing. I’m not sure if our garage is organized or not. It’s more of a magical David Copperfield sort of trick. It’s really a mess but it’s all on the ceiling. Using every imaginable hook, shelf and pulley known available at Home Depot, I’ve managed to hang upside down every outdoor sports mechanism you can imagine; a Canoe, tent, surfboard, or fishing gear. What I basically have is an upside down REI. If you can find the right rope you are welcome to borrow anything you like. If you grab the wrong rope, they all come tumbling down.
As crazy and chaotic as this all sounds, it’s also comforting. To walk into our home and find everything perfectly stowed away wouldn’t feel right. I fully expect to walk up to the front door with the dog scratching at the glass, as if I hadn’t been home in years, even though I just went to the mailbox. I expect the place to look as if a seven year old is loving every minute of being seven in this home, just as they did at six, five, and so on. Dinner wouldn’t be the same if there weren’t rubber frogs in the chair and fake poo on the table. I wouldn’t know what to think if a dvd was actually in the correct case, or in a case at all.
Priorities change when kids start taking those first steps. It’s almost sad when we box up a years worth of her favorite toys and take it to our storage building, something I said I would NEVER have. We pull out a jumbo marker and write “Raleigh age one” and so on accordingly each year. She only gets to be a kid once and I hope she remembers how fun this house was. We always wanted it to be a creative, inspiring place to learn even if it meant mommy and daddy would have army men and jacks permanently embedded in their feet. There will always be plenty of time later in life to return to the old JB, but I don’t miss him for now.
I would like to make one last stop on our tour. I would like to show you my car but unfortunately melted crayons have jammed the doorlocks. But if you look inside and to the left you’ll see a lovely design made of crushed goldfish…
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