Monthly Archives: February 2015

Harlequin Romance Novels For Parents

“Together, they peeled the urine soaked sheet from the child’s bed. He glanced at her in the 3 am moonlight and felt a familiar stirring. Perhaps… perhaps there were still some Frosted Mini Wheats in the kitchen cupboard?”

“She knelt to switch on the portable wet vac, which began sucking up the cat puke. ‘Should I pick up more bread on my way home tonight?’ he asked, barely audible over the spot cleaner’s rhythmic hum.”

“How about I pick him up from daycare today, hit the grocery store, and pick something up for dinner?” he asked, the cel phone cradled against his ear as he left the office. The reply was swift and urgent, exuding a raw, passionate, primal heat he hadn’t heard in years- “Thank you.”

He quickly brushed and flossed his teeth and popped an Advil to quell the dull ache in his lower back sustained from carrying the wailing child several blocks home from the neighborhood park. He entered the bedroom, pausing for a moment to gaze at the impossibly graceful arc of her neck and shoulder in the flickering light of the television. The low rumbling snore indicated that he was too late, so he decided to watch a rerun of Brooklyn 99 and call it a night.

Warmed by the crackling blaze fed by 10 years worth of old tax documents and employment contracts, they worked their through the last bottles of the cheap wine and languidly scrolled through

“How long do you think we have?” he whispered, glancing into the living room. “He’s on the iPad, playing that Lego game,” she replied, “We have at least twenty minutes.” They moved quickly, fervently to the shadowy recesses of the walk-in pantry. With animalistic grunting, they tore the wrapping from the last of the Oreos and stuffed them into their mouths. Their eyes locked, wide and dark and wet with satisfaction, and they knew they would need to brush their teeth so their son would never uncover their secret.

“Her trembling fingers quickly unbuttoned the tiny mother of pearl buttons of her crisp white blouse, her bosom heaving as she gasped. She took the garment in her hand and threw it into the washing machine, setting it on Delicate. She had a faint glimmer of hope that perhaps the peanut butter stain would not set in, but in her heart of hearts, she knew better.” – Harlequin Romance For Parents.

“Don’t stop now! You’re so close, you’ve almost got it!” she whispered hoarsely. Beads of warm sweat dripped down his brow and back as he strained with the effort. “I’m sorry, sorry, I just need a break,” he grunted. Her leg spasmed, sending a cascade of tiny wooden pegs skittering across the well worn living room floor. They swore, lying only to themselves, that this would be the last time they bought a bookcase from IKEA.

“What’s that smell? Cookies?” she asked, dropping her purse on the table. “Yeah, I just remembered the school bake sale tomorrow. I found your mother’s recipe and made a few dozen. I also touched up the paint on the hallway trim, that spot that you said was bothering you,” he replied, walking out of the kitchen and placing a freshly made vodka gimlet in her hand. “Hold on, let me get the sheets out of the dryer.” He smiled, and she knew that tonight she would do something she didn’t quite enjoy doing, but knew that he wanted… tonight she would be hemming those new jeans of his.

They stumbled home, senses still reeling from the perfect wine, the exquisite dinner, the soft, hushed, flirting conversation illuminated by warm, enveloping candlelight. Breathing in the cool night air, they smiled at each other and felt, for a moment, like they had that first night many years ago. “Could you..?” he whispered, motioning downward. She reached deep into his pocket, grabbing the keys. Opening the door, they were immediately greeted by the haggard face of the sitter glaring at them as the decidedly awake children ran screaming around her, wielding lightsabers. Handing his wife the doggy bags, he realized, with sinking horror, that he had totally forgotten to stop and get cash.

She slid into the warm, candlelit bath, the aroma of lavender bubbles filling her senses with pure pleasure. The house was, at last, devoid of the sounds of protesting voices and plastic toy cacophony, replaced with the soothing melody from a favorite album murmuring to her from the next room. Sinking even deeper into the dark ocean of the old porcelain tub, she reached a slick, dripping arm out to grasp the washcloth, wipe her face, and slowly realize that someone had definitely blown their nose on it the day before and not put it into the goddam hamper.

Rinsing the steaming, sudsy water from her long, slick hair, she ran the rough sponge across his back. Their bodies were intertwined in the tiled shower, and she remembered why she had been so insistent that they chose such a large, luxuriant showerhead. Arching her back away from him, she lathered her left leg and attempted a complicated yoga position to run the razor up her calf. She emitted a muffled gasp of shock as the curtain was ripped aside to reveal the small child perched on the potty, demanding to be wiped. Hand clamped to the now bleeding leg, she watched as he leapt  from the shower, toothbrush still clenched in his teeth, and wondered if it really was their carpool driving day.

“My darling, my angel, my everything, you look so wonderful tonight, PUT THAT DOWN, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you in my life, CUT IT OUT. You are my sun, my moon, DO NOT SPIT THAT OUT SO HELP ME, my stars, my everything. I want to kiss your eyelids, your neck, EAT SOME CARROTS OR NO DESSERT, your shoulders, NO I AM NOT KIDDING JUST TRY ME, your lips. I cannot imagine my life without, OK THAT’S IT, THREE MINUTES TIME OUT NOW, you.”

Their eyes met across the grassy field. A shy smile, a subtle wave. They approached the other couple near the fountain, hearts racing with anticipation. “Do you think they’d be into it?” she whispered to her spouse, trying to appear not overly eager. It had been months since the last time, and they both craved that feeling of connection again. Just as she was about to pose the question to the strangers, however, she heard a loud wail behind her. Turning to look, she saw her child whacking their child on the head with the sand pail. She knew, in that moment, that there would be no playdate.


“So, like this?” he murmured, his hands fumbling with the soft silky red ribbon. “Almost, just, wait, just let me do it. Did you get the batteries?” she replied, brushing the hair from her eyes. “What? No, I thought you did.” he whispered back. “I don’t think it’s going to fit in there. Try a different one. Hurry up!” With a frustrated groan, he stacked his poorly wrapped present atop the pile beneath the tree and decided that next year, the kid was just getting cash.


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Parenting Tips From A Parent

Parenting Tip #472- When daycare sends home a bag of clothes and a note that your child has pooped his pants, make sure said poop has actually been removed from said pants before washing and drying.

Parenting tip #157- having a stern and frank talk with your toddler at 2 am about what constitutes an acceptable wake up time will not go quite the way you hope.

Parenting Tip #734- You survived the weeklong vacation with the kid? Don’t get too cocky, champ. Brace yourself for the batshit crazy psycho they will turn into the morning after you return.

Parenting Tip #983- Did you know that a happy, calm child will suddenly fly into a frothy berserker rage over the simple selection of underpants? It’s true!

Parenting Tip #1063- If you thought your kid must have at least 2 weeks between colds, you’d be wrong, dummy.

Parenting Tip #3127- The child will regularly burst into the bathroom unannounced, yet will lock and barricade themselves in with every method available because monsters.

Parenting Tip #4181- Today, the child likes bananas. Tomorrow, they will not. Next day, they will. Repeat. Each time, preferring various degrees of ripeness. Plan accordingly.

Parenting Tip 7451- You may not subscribe to any religion, but you will offer up this fervent prayer: “please don’t let us all get sick at the same time.”

Parenting Tip 2162- Don’t enjoy constantly apologizing for being late? That’s ok, you’ll get used to it.

Parenting Tip #3798- You will drive home alone, windows open, without noticing your stereo is blasting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song. Do not panic.

Parenting Tip 9741- It might just be allergies…? (It’s not)

Parenting Tip 9784– make sure your spouse’s camera/phone is all charged up to capture all the Christmas memories while you’re huddled on the floor assembling those Lego sets.

Parenting Tip #2785- When your child says “I want to play Monster (Anything)” it really means “I would very much like to punch you in the groin”

Parenting Tip #2174- When asked by your departing spouse, “Want anything from the store?” it is ill advised, no matter how funny you’re trying to be, to respond “2 hours to myself.” Just trust me on this.

Parenting Tip #4751- Try not to interrupt the long, elaborate lie that your 4 year old is telling. Just enjoy the ride.

Parenting Tip #5891- You will, at some point, call your spouse in to marvel at the impressive enormity of your child’s poop. Only history may judge you.

Parenting Tip 8117- Onerous Ones. Terrible Twos. Troublesome Threes. Fucking Hell Fours.

 Parenting Tip 1023- Convincing the 4 yr old that he has shrunk due to lack of eating dinner is amusing for the parent. Not so much for the child.

Parenting Tip #967- The thing your child wants will not be the thing they want by the time you get the thing they said they wanted.

 Parenting Tip 2585- if you somehow infer to your child that a magical friendly werewolf has hidden a treasure somewhere for him to find, you better have a goddam treasure hunt ready.

Parenting Tip # 7100- That voice in your head at the end of the day that whispers “Go on, eat that whole pizza. And maybe finish off the birthday cake, too.” That voice just wants you to be happy, baby.

Parenting Tip 8767- Trust me, you will never build those goddam Legos fast enough.

Parenting Tip #5261- You will see much, much, much more taint than you might expect.

Parenting Tip 8211- When the kid skips a nap, you sure as shit better just let them win at Candyland.

Parenting Tipe #2782- Waking up at 4 am is a great time to carefully evaluate your career path/watch cartoons with your preternaturally awake child.

Parenting Tip 632- Sure, we like that you only leave us the butt ends of the bread in the bag. It’s the best part of the bread. So there.


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After 12 years at PDI/Dreamworks Animation, I’m suddenly unemployed as the entire northern California studio location was nuked from orbit. At first I was in shock, and felt a void in my life where my office and coworkers once were. Luckily, I was was accepted (with no interview!) at my new office, The Coffeeshop:

Day 3- I select a coffee shop in which to settle in and search for employment. Noticing the haphazardly strewn about books, empty cups, acrylic paintings of sailboats, and occasional band flyer, I am aghast at the obvious screen tangents and visual discordance. I take a sip of my latte and loudly announce, “YES. THIS WILL DO NICELY.”

Day 5- I have begun re-dressing the layout of the coffee shop. Pulling chairs and tables in an orderly (but not too sterile) pattern, I start to OOP some of the unapproved paintings and photos from the wall. The rest of the department seems disturbed/annoyed at my choices. This may reflect poorly on their performance reviews.

Day 6- For the third day in a row I must have missed the free tater tots and eggs available at the coffee shop counter. As I reached for a suspicious looking donut, the barista asked me for some sort of “money” in exchange. Confused, I went back to my makeshift desk, filed a P1 Jira on a napkin, and slid it under the restroom door.

Day 9- So excited for my kid’s first Take Your Kid to Work Day! We arrived bright and early at The Coffeeshop (what a cool name for a studio, right?) wearing our matching shirts. We checked in with the barista, who did a good job at pretending he didn’t know what was happening. There was no set activity schedule, so I told Emmett to just spend 30 minutes with each person and make sure to ask lots of questions! Except for Nancy there in the corner. Stay away from Nancy. Just trust me.

Day 10- While waiting for the production designer to arrive and review my shot (DJ! late as usual, you rascal), the door opened and in walked 3 men in formal business attire. “Suits,” I whispered to the team, “Look out, guys, corporate is on the floor.” “Illuminatiiiiiii”, hissed Stabby Frank, stuffing sugar packets into his beard. I watched closely as the suits took their cappuccinos and left. Maybe Stabby Frank was on to something.

Day 11- Hoping to do a bit of team building, I decided to bring in my own cd’s to play over the Coffeeshop speakers. Sensing some resistance from the barista/manager, I utilized my invaluable Change Management training in an effort to get her to change the music from what I’m guessing is a concept album about a junkyard on fire to Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. Unfortunately, I must have failed to inspire the active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organization, because I still do not hear the soothing sounds of Paul Simon.

Day 12- While searching through a job hunting website, I am intrigued by a listing for what appears to be a creative ad writing position for the nation of Micronesia. One of the fields on the application states: “In 150 characters or less, tell us something interesting about yourself! Say something that will catch our eye!” My response: “I am afraid of heights, snakes, and clowns. My ultimate fear is a clown throwing snakes at me while I’m on a ladder.” Your move, Micronesia.

Day 12 Supplemental- Hell is trying to find nice plain white printer paper at an understocked Kinkos.

Day 13- I think the barista/PM is eyeing me for a promotion! She seems pretty impressed that I pointed all those visitors to the stir sticks and 2%.

Day 14- I’m wondering if I made a mistake in putting “All offers must be submitted to me in form of an Edible Arrangement bouquet” on my job applications…

Day 17- Please don’t tell my bosses at The Coffeeshop that I’m attending an offsite job fair. I wouldn’t want things to get awkward.

Day 18-  My coworkers at The Coffeeshop are really enjoying my fun side project of writing a smash hit Silicon Valley country song, “Angel, Investor, Won’t You Invest A Little In My Heart?”

Day 19- Using up another one of my 10 allotted sick days from The Coffeeshop, I decided to go on a nice hike in the woods with my wife. Utilizing the muscles gained from sitting motionless at a desk for 12 years, I ascend the hill overlooking the Bay Area and marvel at the view. While retching up a nutritious LÄRABAR® (Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie flavor, perfect for a hike!), I pause and think, “What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing it is to be outdoors.”

Day 20- After a couple weeks sitting at my desk here at The Coffeeshop, I’ve started developing some slight lower back and arm aches. Admittedly, building my cubicle out of a threadbare (what appears to have once been velveteen) couch, a wooden bench, and several stacks of 6 month old Real Estate News magazines may not have been the wisest choice. I decide to request a full ergonomic evaluation from the office manager/barista. I take her somewhat surly response as her way of saying that I’m free to take a standing desk option, preferably outside.

Day 21- I’m having a slightly more difficult time than usual submitting my timesheet to DW Passport…

Day 23 -A couple young people entered The Coffeeshop this morning, looking a bit nervous. Seeing as how I’ve been unable to locate the Outreach department so far, I took it upon myself to greet the new interns warmly, giving them a brief but informative tour of the first/only floor. I then handed them a stack of sequence bid reports and asked them to make me 18 copies. While I understand the jitters that come with the exciting first day of an internship, I was a little surprised by the way they quickly excused themselves and went back outside. “Kids these days, huh?”, I muttered to Stabby Frank. “The government!”, he replied. Stabby Frank always understands.

Day 24- Receiving some valuable interdepartmental cross training at The Carwash. My resume can now be updated to reflect such skills as “vacuuming up one million Goldfish crackers” and “Lego policeman recovery 101”.

Day 25- While I’m overjoyed at the news that so many of my friends are finding employment at other studios so quickly, I am a bit saddened to know that they won’t be joining me here at The Coffeeshop. Donuts are half off today! PS- don’t eat the donuts. They are not a bargain at any price, and the fitness program here is severely lacking.

Day 27- While conducting dailies in the screening room/lids and sugar area of the Coffeeshop, I witnessed Sketchbook Sandy and Scary Nancy looking at a picture of a striped dress and engaging in a lengthy discussion about the color they perceived. That was the last straw. I’m going have to let Sandy go. These distractions have become too much, and honestly, she’s the worst TD we have. (also, the dress is clearly white and gold.)

Day 31- I may need to notify HR to have a little chat with Steve. We have very clear guidelines about the difference between “at home pajamas” and “at The Coffeeshop pajamas.”

Day 32- Nobody at The Coffeeshop seems to want to take me up on my “Let’s have lunch out!” offer. I mean, come on. Staying here and eating the not-free scones is just The Man’s way of keeping us here working on… whatever we work on, right through lunchtime.

Day 35- I like to tell people I’m not unemployed, I’m just doing my best to remain carbon neutral.

Day 36- “I’ll show them. I’ll show them all! Someday they’ll be sorry that they let go of ol’ Newlin,” the pajamaed man muttered as he ate a freezer burned It’s-It and rewrote his resume for the 17th time.

Day 37- While looking through various job hunting websites, the position I seem most qualified for is “intern”. In a completely non-related question, does anyone have some sort of mystical body-swapping amulet/crystal skull or forbidden scientific device? Asking for a friend.

Day 38 – After attending the final farewell party at PDI and seeing the people I called my coworkers, friends, and mentors for what probably will be the last time, I wondered if the people at The Coffeeshop could ever truly replace them. “Why can’t you be more like Dave Murphy!?” I yelled at Bluetooth Earpiece Bob. “Yeah! Why can’t you be more like Dave Smurfy?” repeated Stabby Frank, sliding newspapers down his pants. You’re always there for me, Stabby Frank.

Day 39- I guess I’ve been here at The Coffeeshop long enough to take on the responsibility of mentoring a new employee. A fresh faced young man came in today with laptop in hand and that sort of hopeful gleam in his eye that I, myself, had way back about 8 weeks ago. I immediately decided that I would take him under my wing and show him the ropes. “Don’t sit there. Scary Nancy does not like when people sit in her chair,” I whispered “That’s enough for today, kid.”

Day 43- I had assumed that the jar full of money on the Coffeeshop counter that I kept contributing to was part of the 401K plan here. Apparently, according to the barista/manager and this nice police officer, I was mistaken.

Day 44- Took a trip to one of the fancier field offices to do some cross site training. While I do appreciate the superior coffee and selection of (not free!) snacks, I sort of miss the constant threat of catching bedbugs from the “vintage” sofas.

Day 80- Receiving a rejection email from a company you applied to months ago is like getting a birthday card from a girl who dumped you right before the prom. NOT THAT IT HAPPENED TO ME OR ANYTHING SHUT UP DON’T LOOK AT ME.

Day 127- Checked out a new Coffeeshop branch office to try and decide where I was going to spend my days from now on. Upon entering, I noted the stark, minimalist approach to decor this particular branch used as a design aesthetic. Stark white walls, pristine and hygienic tables, and, most oddly, every single customer/employee was basically an identical willowy young woman wearing thick black rimmed eyeglasses, typing silently away at identical Macbook laptops. Disheartened, I left and started walking back to my truck. It just didn’t feel like home. “Home is where your pants is, aaaack ptoooey,” a voice whispered softly. “Stabby Frank?” I wondered. It’s like I could almost hear him in my mind, in my heart, reassuring me. “Yesh?” he replied, rising up from behind the dumpster. Hurrying to my truck and quickly rolling up the windows before Stabby Frank lived up to his nickname, I smiled. Everything was going to be just fine.


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