Happy New Eyebrows Day!

1Yes, the redness about Lynnette’s new eyebrows is blood, likely commingled with sweat from the anxiety of undergoing her first micro-blading, permanent makeup procedure. The tears? Mine. Of joy.

From what I can gather, it’s not quite a tattoo, as the artist uses blades rather than needles, but the results should last for 3 years. I am sorry I cannot tell you more about it because every time I ask Lynnette about it, my eyes glaze over and my brain shuts off about 6 seconds into her explanation. I am not responsible for my inattentiveness, however. I mean, how am I supposed to concentrate without being drawn – nay, rapt! – by these pretty brown eyes and brave new brows.

2Lynnette loves her new brows but I suspect she may not love them as much as I do. “I went the whole day without makeup,” she said. My eyes widened thinking about the possibilities of gaining 20 minutes before leaving the house to go anywhere.

She text messaged me a selfie of her new brows in the middle of the day and my heart skipped a beat. It’s a stranger! It’s my new wife. The next time I kiss her, it will be like kissing someone I don’t know. It’s so exciting! She will sound and smell like my old wife, but if I open my eyes while our lips are locked, I will see eyebrows! Who belongs to these eyebrows? Not so fast, eye brows, I don’t want my wife to find out about us! No, eyebrows, we can’t! I will struggle to pull away, but I will look into those new brows and be hypnotized by the novelty and resulting adrenaline. I will be tugged back. I will fall and fumble against my will, and then my will will be crushed. Except I don’t know when the next time we’ll kiss is if she reads this.

On the Eve of New Eyebrows

2I know this goal chart is not on fleek, but damn it, we made it! Thanks for all your love and support! As of yesterday afternoon, Lynnette has raised enough money to pay for her eyebrow micro-blading! Lynnette received a mileage reimbursement check in the mail and it will cover the remainder of her eyebrow procedure. “But Phil,” you say, flexing your logic. “Isn’t that just a check that covers money you guys have already spent?” Yes. Yes, it is. BUT NEW EYEBROWS, THO.

1Honestly, I don’t think I could handle having to DIY my eyebrows everyday. There’s no chance they’d even resemble each other. Whenever we get ready to leave the house, Lynnette spends 20 minutes applying her makeup.She leans over the sink and uses both hands to draw in her eyebrows.

CONFESSION: when Lynnette is vulnerable like this, I sneak up behind her. Before I can even do anything, she shouts “GET OUT!” But I can’t blame her because she knows what’s in my heart. I will completely ignore her command because she needs her focus and attention for making symmetrical eyebrows. So I get up behind her real close, then start dancing behind her like we’re at World Cafe circa 1997. Depending on my mood, I also sing while doing this. My favorites include Next’s “Too Close”,  2 Live Crew’s “Big Booty Hoes”, Quad City DJ’s “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)”, and if I’m feeling romantic, Color Me Badd’s “Forever Love”. The first song is a personal favorite. The middle two are a callback and homage to Lynnette’s high school days when she tore up the high school dance circuit in her trademarked outfit of daisy dukes and a bandana for a top, and the last song is a mutual favorite of ours.

’90s Song of the Week: Candlebox’s “It’s Alright

“I can see things so clearly through tear-stained eyes – the side effects of time in all our goodbyes – and it’s alright.” –Kevin Martin, “It’s Alright”


I spent countless college classes drawing eyes just like this.

“It’s Alright” is the lead single off Happy Pills, Candlebox’s third studio album. Candlebox is was one my all-time favorite bands, but I don’t know that “It’s Alright” even falls in my top ten of Candlebox songs. I suppose that’s another entry for another time. The record was released in June of 1998, that magical summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Consequently, though the eponymous Candlebox (featuring the band’s 1993 breakout hit “Far Behind”) and 1995’s follow up Lucy sold better, Happy Pills is far and away a more personally significant marker in my life. It and Dishwalla’s And You Think You Know What Life’s About (released in August of the same summer) were are the soundtrack of my first year at Loyola Marymount University.

If we consider Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is”, Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye”, and pretty much anything Journey and Chicago recorded in the ’80s as rock ballads, and if we accept that Aerosmith evolved the form in the ’90s with the songs “Crazy” and “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, then “It’s Alright” is the logical iteration of the form for a kind of post-grunge genre that had an even shorter lifespan than grunge itself. Which is a long way of saying it’s a song about a love lost then found layered over muted then soaring vocals and guitars.


I shudder to think what kind of incriminating nonsense might exist on the internet had the smartphone been invented before my time in college.

Next year, I will have been out of high school for 20 years. There are any number of expletives I would like to shout as I think on this fact, but while they might feel good for a few moments, none of them will change the fact that it’s true. I am old.

As I wrote earlier, “It’s Alright” isn’t one of my favorite Candlebox songs, but it’s fitting for what I’ve been feeling for a few weeks. Every  year I teach seniors who are on the cusp of their own college journeys. Naturally, I can’t help but think of mine. Only it’s gotten increasingly more difficult to conjure those memories. I can’t be alone in this, and I am sure I have written this before, but college feels like it happened to someone else. Sometimes in my memories, I appear in the third person, as if that’s the kind of distance that’s been built up over time. I’ve been reduced to an NPC in my own life story. Nothing will ever be as new and illogical but therefore amazing as my freshman year of college. None of my experiences since then have mirrored it and as such, time has made that era seem like a dream or an anomaly.

When I sat and thought about what the lyrics at the top of the page might mean, I was struck by the paradox to open. How could he see clearly through tears? Well, because he’s not really seeing anything. The memories are so vivid that he’s not talking about literal sight. And maybe that side effect he’s talking about is that all he has to do is think about, imagine those tender moments and goodbyes to get those tears going. But it’s alright. Because really, what can he do about it? The only thing any of us can do: try our best to keep them alive in our memories. If I hear “It’s Alright” or any of the other songs off Happy Pills and And You Think You Know What Life’s About, I am triggered. They help me get back to an incredible place I have trouble finding on my own.

But I know now. This is how it works. Time removes the tracks behind me as I stand at the front of the train laying down sections of new track.

Redemption for Plastic Toy Giraffe

This is Rupert. He is a plastic toy giraffe. Yes, he is that plastic toy giraffe.

5Lynnette rediscovered Rupert (whom I named literally just seconds ago) while going through belongs to sell at the swap meet. “Look who it is!” she shouted while I lay on the couch. I looked up to  see Rupert staring at me. Much guilt ensued.

For those of you firmly entrenched in the tl;dr group who did not and will not click on the link above, Rupert was Madison’s toy. Once during our first summer together, Madison gave herself a black eye by tugging on the PS3 controller cord. When the controller at the other end ran out of shelf, gravity guided it square into Mad’s face. I heard the crying from another room and saw the mark it would leave immediately. At the time, I could not cop to my own negligence. I would not bear the brunt of Lynnette’ swift anger and illogical sermons. I told that Madison held Rupert by the front legs, then shook it vigorously. At some point, I said, she whacked herself in the face with the giraffe’s head.

6I eventually told Lynnette the truth (as described in the link above), but I had never seen Rupert since those early days of fatherhood. It was an awkward reunion. Madison spoke accusingly of a situation she was involved in but could not remember; Lynnette tried to make me feel bad; and I felt a little bad. But, to make it up to Rupert, Lynnette has already bestowed upon him the highest honor an inanimate object can receive from out family: placement in the glass display case section of the entertainment unit. Rupert’s enshrinement means he can never again be used as a scapegoat for my carelessness and resulting injuries to my children. He will join -among other things – Rutherford Jameson’s trophy, all of Madison’s ceramic Christmas gifts to us, pieces of soap Madison refuses to let dissolve, my nano-block Farfetch’d, Disney pins, the twins’ first ultrasound, and something made out of pipecleaners that I can’t make out from my seat.

Rupert took one for the team and was banished to a box for 8 years. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Rupert. You’ve earned it.

First Time Vendors at the Swap Meet

A few years ago I was cleaning out my closet and drawers with the intention of throwing out the clothes that were worn or didn’t fit. Lynnette told me to save them. She wanted to sell them at a steep discount at the swap meet. I filled three trashbags with stuff, and stored them in the tub we didn’t use. They sat there for months. When Lynnette got pregnant with the twins, she finally told me that I could throw them away because she (finally) admitted she wasn’t really going to make a trip to sell those things at the swap meet.

1So when I cleaned out a few items from my closet and drawers earlier this year (because the twins’ possessions have spilled out into every inch of our home), I planned on tossing the items again. “I want to sell some things at the swap meet,” she said. “Can I please just throw this stuff away now instead of 8 months from now?” I asked. “No, for real this time,” she said. And then she began the process of cleaning out the clothes that no longer fit Cole, Avery, or Madison. More impressive, however, is the fact that she actually tried to get rid of some of her own clothing. Lynnette is a hoarder. She doesn’t like to admit it, but she is. These were my thoughts as I sat in the van at 5:30 this morning. In a two-stall space in the parking lot of Aloha Stadium. We were actually going to do it.

32This is Lynnette at her boutique. We sold some toys, books, adult clothing, and kids clothing. The books and unopened toys were sold almost immediately – to re-sellers, we suspect – and the kids clothing moved pretty steadily throughout the morning. We were able to get some money for small appliances we never use because our family is no longer small.

Lynnette really got into the whole process. She got advice from co-workers throughout the week and kept updating me with this information. Did you know the gates for vendors open at 5 AM? I do. Did you know that it costs just $15 to purchase a two-stall space to peddle your wares? I do. Did you know that other vendors will walk around before dawn with flashlights looking at what everyone starts laying out before the swap meet even officially opens? I do. Finally, did you know that Lynnette was such an effective saleswoman? I do now.

One of the highlights of the day was watching Lynnette make her first sale. She was so giddy and happy that she struggled to pack the items into a plastic bag. “Why didn’t you put the large ones in first?” I asked. “I don’t…” she started, but didn’t finish. Had this been any kind of medical emergency, however, she would have been barking out commands like an in-his-prime Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage after identifying the opposition’s pass defense. At one point, the rush of people coming to her boutique was so thick that she turned to me, handed me a bunch of stuff, nodded at a man and told me to “ring him up.” My brow furrowed. My eyes narrowed. My head jerked back. I worked retail, OK? You don’t have to tell me what to do. Also, where’s the register, you clown?

The best thing to come out of the day was spending 9 hours together without the kids. Since we got such an early start, I think I started begging Lynnette to leave at 9 AM. It wasn’t miserable, it was just boring. During a lull in visitors, Lynnette and I started a conversation in which we tried to recall the most miserable, anger-filled moments we’ve shared over our 14 years together. We were laughing pretty hard at all those fiascoes. I’ll probably end up writing about the definitive list later this week. We had Agu Ramen for lunch and had more great conversations. The first was trying to remember what occupied the lot (at Pearlridge) Agu Ramen currently does before it was a Cold Stone. Neither of us could remember. We started thinking about other places that no longer existed like Castle Park, Pearl City Tavern, dine-in Pizza Hut restaurants, Penguins (I don’t remember this one), TCBY, the Yum Yum Tree, and others. Lastly, we talked about our own personal hot takes regarding local opinions. I think Zippy’s is one of the most overrated eateries on the island; Lynnette thinks Zippy’s mac salad is junk. It was a pretty fun game.

Anyway, there are two reasons we went to the swap meet today.The first, obviously, was to create a little more space in our rapidly shrinking home. The second, was to raise money for something I hope will dramatically improve Lynnette’s life directly and mine indirectly.

When Lynnette was pregnant with Madison, she lost a lot of her hair. Most of it was from the top of her head, but some of it was off of her eye brows. It never grew back. She has almost no eyebrow hair. If I could magically donate some of mine, I’d do it in a heart beat. The universe knows I have more than enough. But since that trick doesn’t exist, we’re going to do the next best thing. Lynnette’s going to get her eyebrows micro-bladed.

She first mentioned this a couple of years ago. “Just do it,” I said. “Why, you think I’m ugly?” she asked, jumping to conclusions. “No, if you get it, you’ll stop talking about it,” I said. Guys are stupid but also practical. She resisted for all this time until she went down a micro-blading rabbit hole on her phone one night. As I tried to fall asleep, she continued to nudge me. “Ooooohhh, look at these!” she said, over and over, shining her phone’s illuminated screen in my weary eyes. “I don’t…that’s great,” I said, over and over. Well, Lynnette found a place she likes for a price that seems like the going rate. She’s excited to never have to draw in her eyebrows again. I’m excited because that (hypothetically) means her preparation-before-leaving-the-damn-house time should fall dramatically.

4I found this outline of a dazzling eyebrow shape and altered it represent Lynnette’s financial goal. She’s been saving money by avoiding Starbucks and expensive lunches. She made decent money today. “I’m pretty much 3/4 of the way there,” she said gleefully from the couch. Good for you, Lynnette.

Valentine’s Day 2017: Totally Not Bad for a Tuesday and No Planning Whatsoever

Important dates have been able to sneak up on me with alarming frequency ever since the twins were born. I’ve just got too much going on. Valentine’s Day is no exception. I bought Lynnette a new purse last week, but had nothing for the actual date. I realized this at 5 in the afternoon yesterday. It was already too late to do something about it then, so I had to pull out the old Phil tricks of flying by the seat of my pants. I feel like I have gotten better at this method of flying over time, as the surface area on the seat of my pants has increased as well. Coincidence? Who’s to say?

3Lynnette messaged me just as I was about to leave campus. She said she bought lobster tails and that I should get something to pair with it. According to Lynnette, the lobster tails were $7 each. She bought four. She just explained her reasoning: “I wasn’t even there [Foodland] to buy the lobster, but once I saw it, I was like (unintelligible growling noise), then said ‘I will buy four – one for you, one for me, one for Goob, and one for Cole and Avery’.” “But you knew Madison wouldn’t eat it, and that Cole and Avery couldn’t eat a whole one by themselves,” I said. She cocked her head back and shook it vigorously. “I didn’t know that,” she said. “Oh, you didn’t want to assume, right?” I said. “Exactly. It’s Valentine’s Day,” she said. This wasn’t even the best thing she said tonight. “I NEVER get to eat two lobster tails!” she said moments before she inhaled some lobster, which was moments before I took this picture. She’s my lobster, guys.

1Madison got a Harry Potter Book and a box of Merci Chocolates. The book is pretty straightforward: she’s really into Harry Potter right now. She’s in the middle of the third book, has Hermione’s wand, and owns a witch’s cloak. The chocolates, though, have a backstory.

Two Christmases ago (I think), we started seeing ads on tv for Merci Chocolates featuring this really horrible song that went something like “You didn’t have to do what you did, but you did, and I want to thank you,” which basically suggested that Merci Chocolates were the go-to gift if one would like to express the sentiment of thanks. This became an in-joke in our house. Whenever Madison would help us out with something, we’d sing the song – “You didn’t have to clean up your room, but you did and you did, and I want to thank you!” Madison would gamely reply “Yes I did, you made me clean my room. And you’re not going to get me the chocolate.” She was so salty. Her reaction was completely devoid of amusement and thus served as endless amusement for Lynnette and me. Well, today she finally got her Merci Chocolate.

2Lynnette got me two dri-fit polo shirts from Old Navy (my personal sponsor) and I might give them a try, but my first reaction is that they bring me a big step – and therefore much too close – to completely becoming a clone of Al Higa. I don’t know if I can do it.

Still, it was hard to be disappointed in dinner which consisted of steak, lobster, and spicy ahi. It was followed by a dessert of chocolate-covered strawberries and Uber Tarts. I am uncomfortably full right now and the only thing I have on my mind is more chocolate-covered strawberries. Give it a few minutes and I am sure I’ll wander off into the kitchen, find my way into the fridge, and totally ignore Abby staring at me like she is in this picture.

45Neither Cole nor Avery received gifts in the form of toys, but they did get in on the lobster and chocolate-covered strawberries party. It might have been the second best day of their lives (the first, obviously, is when Avery came home from the hospital. Their first time eating ice cream cake is a close third, I think).

Cole and Avery clutched their little scraps of lobster and picked pieces off of it before shoving them into their mouths. I think this made Lynnette both happy and sad – happy that she had one more thing in common, one more thing to share with them, but sad that she will likely have less lobster to eat.

The chocolate-covered strawberries were a no-brainer. They love strawberries and the chocolate put it over the top. To my surprise Cole finished his dessert with only a modest chocolate soul patch while Avery left the table with a full-blown chocolate beard. She was a mess.

Finally, the nightcap. I paired a 2017 Coca-Cola with my meal and made Lynnette 2 midori sours. I posted a picture of Lynnette and me in our Oceans days and it reminded me of the drinks she used to order: midori sours, amaretto sours, liquid cocaines on the rocks, and the cheapest tequila available. She used to be an absolute rock star. It’s fitting. All my favorite bands are basically my old favorite bands and I will never love new music the way I love(d) my old music. It’s just a fact of life. Lynnette is the same. She can play all her greatest hits on a loop forever and I’ll still be here, fanboying out of my mind.

The Re-Return of the Baby Gate

Our old baby gate broke a little over a week ago, and since that time I’ve lived in a bliss of an open stairway completely free of the threat of catching my ass on either side of that harsh, narrow metal gate. That paradise came to an end (no pun intended) today as the replacement gate arrived via Amazon’s speed shipping. This is the first and only time I could have waited a few more days for my order to arrive.

1“Daddy does the shopping and mommy does the installing,” Lynnette said as she worked on the new gate and limitation of my freedoms. She did it in one of her sarcastic tones of voice so I met her with equal sarcasm. “Wow, that sure is quite the inversion of traditional gender roles,” I said. I thought that was pretty good but it garnered no response, so since my wife (possessed of two degrees, I remind you) did not care for my eloquently stated observation, I went a little low brow. “Nice butt crack,” I said. I received this patented Lynnette Death Glare™ in return. It was worth it and I wasn’t lying.

2In sharp contrast to my feelings on the baby gate, the twins behaved like they were welcoming home and old friend. They immediately ran up to the gate, shook it, bit it, and screamed. It should be mentioned that they don’t behave like this when I return home from a long, arduous day at work. That’s right. They love a cold, uncaring metal gate more than they love their father who just fed them two bowls of Jello. I would be upset if I thought they knew at all what they were doing.

They seem so big, but they’re still so young. Just today Avery fake cried while Cole legit cried. It was a kind of sarcastic, whiny cry – like when your friend roasts you and you have no other recourse but to say exactly what they said, but in a higher pitch. And then there’s Cole who paraded around the house naked moments before his bath time clutching onto the remains of his English muffin. Ah, parenthood.