Sharks Inside Volcanos

Sharks can live inside volcanos.  It's true.  I read the paper online.  Everything posted online is true.  Scientists have found a shark living inside an underwater volcano.  This is it.  This is how the world ends.  Good.  

3 am and I can't sleep.  Too much is on my mind.  Fatherly stuff, stuff that makes you lay awake and plot revenge.  Justice.  The world needs more justice.  My wife, daughter and two sons are asleep.  The dog is heavy on my feet.  My eyes are closed but I can't get there, to dreamland.  Dad's got heavy dad things on his mind.  I'm not all jokes and good times.  Sometimes, when the kids are asleep and my wife is snoring, I'm wide awake.  

My daughter is a reader.  If she doesn't have a book in her hand, even for a two-minute drive to the grocery store, I wonder if she is sick.  She reads way above her grade level.  It's freaky and I have to read a lot of things with her so that we can talk about what she is seeing.  YA novels.  So many YA novels.  I could use them as stepping stones in the backyard, we have so many.  

Do you know what YA novels have in them?  Jackass love interests.  Jerks and peckerheads that treat the main female character like shit.  Oh, she's so mad at that boy.  He's so rude!  But ya know what, she loves him.  Yup, there it fucking is.  The main character will eventually love him.  Every fucking single time.  It's ok though, the main character can change him!  He's not really a bad guy, no really.  He just needs someone who can understand him.  If she is determined enough, her attention will teach him that being shitty to her is a bad thing.  Then he will love her.  What the Jesus fuck.  Seriously.  I have to give her a lecture every day to let her know that if a boy is a dick, he will always be a dick.  The real world doesn't work that way.  If the demon vampire goes to your school, he's not going to be all shiny and love you oh so much Bella!  No, he's going to want to suck your blood.  I've lectured my niece on this as well.  

I talked to my wife tonight.  The "me too" conversation that is going around twitter and the internet.  I've been with my wife since she was 18.  22 years of being by her side.  When I asked her, she said "Well, nothing physical, but in college...."  Jesus fucking Christ.  How did I not know about this, about what she has to go through?  The demeaning comments.  The "because you're a girl," bosses have said to her over the years.  

I demanded names.  I want to make a list.  How many fists of justice can I dole out throughout the day?  Can I track someone down from 20 years ago?  I bet I can.  Who fucking catcalls?  Seriously?  I don't even need a name.  I can just follow behind my wife when she walks downtown.  I'll take notes.  Give her a kiss on the cheek when I hear it, then go do the justice thing.  I tell my wife this.  

"You know you can tell me anything, right?" I say. 
"Of course," she says and rolls her eyes.  
"Look, I'm a big guy.  And it's all yours.  Every stitch of it.  Yours.  Just say the word and things can happen.  That's all I'm saying."  
She snorts at my bravado but it's all I got.  It's the only thing I know how to do.  

I'm an ex-football player.  Sure, not in shape anymore but a lot of that strength remains.  It's all right here.  And, not to be humble here, I can take a punch.  Never, not once in my life, have I felt attacked or demeaned like my wife has felt.  I have never felt belittled.  It's rare that I was even challenged.  I suppose as kids but then my brother and I would go and have us a good old-fashioned fistfight.  Good times.  I miss my brother.  He's got a wife and daughter, we should talk more often.  

And as I lie here, wide fucking awake, thinking about my wife and daughter, I can't forget about my sons.  Two of them.  10 and 4.  Little guys.  And what makes me worry, what puts that ball of tension in my chest, is that I know exactly what they will have to go through.  

Competition.  Day in and day out competition.  Can't be helped, it will always be there.  Subtle things, peer pressure things.  Things that will be in their own heads.  Little boys are constantly one-upping each other.  I can go faster, I can hit harder, I can jump further.  I dare you  I double dog dare you.  I'm tougher than you are.  It doesn't stop when you become an adult.  For a while there, in your twenties, it gets worse.  I have no idea why.  Then your own thoughts come in.  Am I good enough, am I tough enough? 

Don't cry.  Only the weak cry.  Stay level-headed in a crisis.  Don't panic.  Sissies panic.  Are you a sissy?  Control your emotions, can't let them get out of control.  Don't disappoint dad.  Be like dad.  But what if I'm not as tough as dad?  What if dad is cross with me, have I failed dad?  That's the rub, that's the one that is the hardest to deal with.  Dad always loves you, without fail or condition.  You are always tough enough for dad.  But in your own head, as a young boy, you never think so.  I didn't.  I think being 10 is exhausting.  

So I can't sleep.  I can't sleep because I know that there is not a whole lot I can do.  It's a thought that is defeating.  My one job, my one real job, is to shield them all from the shit in the world.  To right the wrongs, to protect them from those things out in the shitty world.  To confront those thoughts that they might have.  To get into their heads to make sure that it doesn't lead them down the wrong path, make them jaded and lie awake at night.  My job is to take on the world.  

And I can't. As big as I am, as strong as I am, as tough as I am--it's not enough.   

I can teach.  I can read the YA books with my daughter.  I can reassure my sons that dad always has their back.  I can teach all of them that confidence is your shield and that Dad is never disappointed in you.  And I can hug my wife, keep things away.  Sometimes.  Not all the time.  Because the bottom line truth is that Dad can't fight all their battles for them.  My wife knows this.  She's the beacon of strength that I hope my children see.  I want to fight all their battles for them.  I can't.  They have to.  I can be in their corner, I can cheer them on.  But I can't fight them.  Now I feel powerless, and perhaps for the first time, I can really feel like they all do sometimes.  

That's why you find yourself in the middle of the night worried about all of them.  A father's worry, deep and gnawing.  

This is how you find yourself rooting for the sharks in the volcanos.   


Not As Important

"It's ok.  I know that I'm not as important," my daughter tells me. 

And right there, that exact moment, is where I know that I have failed as a father.  I mean, fuck.  Where the hell did I go wrong?  I almost slam on the breaks when I hear her say it.  Someone slamming into the back of my car seems a lot less important than my daughter not thinking that she is important to me. 

"Woah!  Woah!  Woah!" I tell her.  No one should ever give you earth shattering info when you are driving.  It's a bad idea.  "What do you mean that you are not as important?" 

"I know that you can't make all my practices.  It's ok.  I know that you have the two boys that need you," she says. 

"You need me too.  Hell, I need you!"  I say.  I'm in panic mode.  If I get pulled over while driving, I"m going to explain to the police officer that my daughter's confidence in her father is shot.  I'm sure they will understand.

"There are some practices I can't make, sure," I say.  "Your mom works late and the boys don't do well sitting in the stands watching you.  I love it, though."

"You do?" my 11-year-old asks me.

"Fuck yeah I do."  I know I'm cussing here.  But I feel that it is necessary so that my daughter can fully see my commitment to the conversation.  I want her to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is the sun in my universe.  I revolve around her and she is more important than the very light of the day. 

"But it's just practice," she says.  "Isn't it boring?"

"Hell no, it's not boring.  I watch you all the time at practice.  I see your overhand serves.  I see when you dig the volleyball.  I know when run into the net.  I love practice.  It's, hands down, my favorite thing to do during the week."

"What about soccer practice with the boys?"

"I like those too, sure.  But that doesn't mean I don't like your volleyball practices."


"Really.  I mean, come on, you are my firstborn.  How can you think anyone is more important to me than you?"

"But it's just practice,"  she says. 

"No, it isn't.  It's me watching my daughter doing something that she loves.  And on the very rare occasion that I have to miss one, I feel like shit about it.  I miss you, little girl.  Don't you know that?"

"I suppose."

"Suppose nothing.  And never think that anyone is more important to me than you.  I quit my job just to spend time home with you."

"I know."

"And how many years ago was that?"

"I don't know."

"Nine.  Nine years.  That's how long ago I quit my job to stay home with you.  I gave it all up because it was nothing without my daughter."


"Yeah.  And I wouldn't go back, even now, if it meant that I couldn't come to your volleyball games and practices.  Jesus, honey.  You're my girl."

"I like being your girl," she says. 

"Good.  Now how about tonight after practice we go get a pony."



"Honey?" I say as I walk in the door to our house.  "Honey?"

"Yeah.  I'm right here," my wife says.  She's on the couch reading a book.  It's Harry Potter, I think the third one judging by the cover.  I know that other husbands may walk into the house and expect to see the wife reading Cosmo or perhaps Good Housekeeping.  That's not my wife.  That's not her at all.

"So what's going on?" I ask her.

"Just reading," she says.

"Where are the kids?" I ask her.  I know that this is a setup question.  I know exactly where the kids are.  All three of them.  I just want to see if she does.

"Little Hoss and Bacon are playing out on the front porch.  Wyatt is right behind you," she says while pointing at my 10-year-old son.  She rolls her eyes, like how could I ask such a stupid question?

"Are you sure?" I say.  I'm building up to something here and I want it to be good.

"What do you mean 'are you sure',"  She says.  "He's right there, right behind you.  You took him to soccer practice an hour ago.  You coach soccer.  Your brain is going to mush, honey."

"Hmm.  Maybe you are right.  I'm getting forgetful in my old age.  Like I probably forgot that Bacon Hoss always takes a piss out on the front porch."

That catches her attention.  Now she puts the book down.

"What?" she says.

"Yup.  Taking a wiz right off the front porch.  Just now.  Pants all the way down to his ankles, junk and butt out so that all the neighbors can see."

"Where's Little Hoss?"  They were out there playing!"  Now she gets up off the couch and heads to the front door.

The front door is open.  The glass screen door remains shut.  It gives a perfect view of the front porch.  On that porch, there are roughly three million stuffed animals, a bottle of bubbles, and a toddler who is pulling up his pants.  My daughter is nowhere to be found.  My wife heads outside.

"What are you doing!" she asks the toddler.

"Peeing," he says.


"Had to go pee."

There you go.  A perfectly reasonable answer.  Little dude had to pee.

"Where's your sister?" Hossmom asks.

"Getting toys," the boy says.

And as if on cue, my daughter shows up.

"Why did you leave your brother outside, you were playing!"  my wife says.  She's getting pretty hot now and I'm just sitting back enjoying the show.  I'm not saying that I'm better at the home stuff than my wife is, wait, that is exactly what I'm saying.

My wife sucks at anything "domestic."  She doesn't like it when I say this, but sadly, it is true.  And why shouldn't it be?  I've stayed home with the kids for nine years.  If I don't cook dinner, there is a pretty good chance everyone is getting Chinese takeout.  But she does an excellent job of making money.  

"What..." my wife says but can't finish the sentence before my daughter starts to defend herself.

"I was getting more toys for Bacon!  I was gone for, like, 3 seconds."

"He peed off the porch!" my wife says.

"In his pants?" my daughter asks.

"No, he peed OFF the porch.  He pulled his pants down. "

This goes on for a while.  It gets pretty heated for a second.  In the end, everyone agrees that the toddler should not be allowed to pee off the front porch.  I want to point out though that I was only gone for an hour.  Just an hour.

We head back inside.

"Did you make dinner?" I ask my wife as we head to the kitchen.

"Yes!  I'm not incompetent when you are not here, you know that don't you?" she asks with a touch of sarcasm in her voice.

"Sure," I say.


"Did you put a pizza in the oven for me?" I ask her.

"Of course, I did.  I put it in as soon as you texted you were on your way home 20 minutes ago."

I open the oven, the very cold oven.  I grab the frozen pizza with my hand.  Not surprisingly, I don't get burned.

"You didn't turn the oven on."


Where Am I?

I’m not really sure where I am going.  Am I going to the soccer fields?  No, I’m not going there because I clearly have food in my hand.  If I was on my way to the soccer fields I would probably eat there.  A dry sausage biscuit thing wrapped in re-used tinfoil.  I’m eating a burrito so I’m clearly not on my way to the soccer complex.

This is the way it is with older kids.  Well, not so much older.  I have a toddler but he is now in “after-school” activities.  It’s his first year of soccer.  At four-years-old, this basically means that they run around and trip over each other.  During games, one of the little guys will get themselves tangled in a net like a codfish.  There’s lots of crying.  

I drive from one practice to another, from one field or facility.  I used to think that when the kids got older, I would have more time.  This, as it turns out, was bullshit.  What it means is that my nights and weekends are more packed than ever.  When the kids were younger everything could be accomplished during the day.  Now that has been switched to night.  And I am rarely home during the night.  

So here I am, trying to remember where I am going by what I am eating.  

On Mondays, when my daughter has volleyball practice, I usually have some sort of pork loin slice sitting on my lap as I make the turns.  Her practice is a little bit later so I can actually cook some meat.  Oh, I don’t have time to actually eat it at the table though.  Practice isn’t that late.  And it’s a two-hour practice too.  But what I can do is take a couple of slices of that pork loin and eat them like a nugget.  So in a way, it’s a lot like when the kids were younger- eating nuggets in the car.  Currently, I am not eating pork loin.  

Maybe I’m on my way to boy scouts?  Nope, that’s out.  Boy scout night I usually have a slice of pizza wrapped in a paper towel.  Sometimes I have a soda with me but most of the time it’s a water bottle that needs to be cleaned out.  Boy scouts is pretty fun though.  Sometimes they have events where they sell hot dogs.  That would be good.  But on this trip, I’m not eating pizza.  I have a burrito.  

When do I have burritos?  Is it on girl scout night?  No, my wife handles most of that.  Except when she works late.   Turns out, my wife has to work late a lot.  But girl scout night is on the same night is volleyball and my pork loin nuggets.  

Wednesday night is my writer’s group night.  Then I don’t eat anything because we go to a bar afterward.  But when I do that, I usually don’t have kids in the car with me.  I’ve got all three.  I drag them from one practice to another.  I could let my daughter stay home, she has a phone.  But I usually need her help with the toddler while I participate in whatever we are doing.  

I coach my ten-year-olds soccer team.  The ride to that practice is short though so if I can scarf down a pop tart on the way, it’s a win. I suppose we could start eating earlier, but dinner at 4 pm makes me feel too elderly.  I defiantly don’t eat burritos on the way to coaching soccer.  I would puke.  

Am I going to a volleyball game maybe?  Hmm, nope.  I don’t think so.  First off, those are usually at 9 in the morning.  Right after a soccer game.  So I run from a soccer game to a volleyball game while other people sleep in on the weekend.  This is not a breakfast burrito, that’s for sure.  It’s got tomatoes and meat, a little bit of cilantro.  Nope, this is a dinner burrito.  

The toddler’s soccer practice!  That’s where I am going.  That’s when I get the burritos.  We have taco night on Tuesdays, right before we leave.  The two older kids eat at 5, which is so much better than eating at 4.  And while they eat I get the toddler dressed.  Cleats, shin guards, and a whole bunch of crying.  I don’t know why, he loves soccer but hates getting ready for soccer.  

After I’m done with him I usually have time to make a burrito and eat it in the car on the way over.  So that’s it.  It’s Tuesday and I’m eating a burrito on the way to my toddler’s soccer practice.  

I pull into the gym parking lot, realizing that it is not a soccer field.  Crap, we are going to be late.  


Sent To The Publishers

This one is for me...

Little Hoss pushes her brother out of the way, a hard shove and his socks slide away on the hardwood floor in the kitchen.  He responds with a fury that only a 10-year-old little brother can.

"Hey!  I want to push the button!"  Then he pushes her back.  She leans to her left but holds her ground.  To give up now, to succumb to the shove, would admit that her little brother might not be so little anymore.

"No!  I'm doing it!  Go away!" Little Hoss says.  It's direct and to the point.  It's what older siblings say to younger ones so that there is never any doubt who is in charge.

However, with kids that are still not teens, tactical thinking is not their strong suit.  They have forgotten about the toddler.  It's easy to forget about him if he decides to let you.  He's small, doesn't even come to my waist yet.

"Me! Me! Me!  I want to do it!"  Then he throws himself into a tangle of shoved legs like they are an 8/10 split and he's a 14-pound ball.  He crashes into someone's knee and falls on his butt.  Gets himself up, seems to throw a dirty look at everyone at once, and then starts pushing lower halves.

The dog comes crashing in because he's the dog and something is going on.  Screaming, yelling, wrestling:  all things that the dog wants to be a part of.  The dog jumps up on my daughter who pushes him down, charges the 10-year-old who dodges him,  and then licks the toddler because licking is awesome.

The problem is not that there is a battle royal in front of my computer sitting on the kitchen counter.  The problem here is that they are collectively pushing me.  Dad is getting smacked around like I'm a pinata.  And you know what, I want to push the button.  Screw-off.  I wrote the book.  I want to be the one that sends it off to the publisher.

All this is a bit surreal a the moment and it's a memory that I don't want to forget.  A quick twitter pitch, a hopefully funny query letter, a partial request--all that leads to a full manuscript request from someone that isn't my wife.  Someone is going to read the book.  After they read it, then they will decide if they want to publish it.

I've looked back over this blog from the last year.   It's fun to mark how everything has come about.  I spent a lot of time hiking in the woods thinking.  That's where the outline was formed, dodging spiders and accidentally sneaking up on people having sex in their cars.  It's where I explored themes, came up with the first line, decided where I wanted the book to end.  That shit took almost three months.  But somewhere in those woods and besides those ticks, I decided fuck it.  If I'm going to write, then let's get serious about it.

And so I did.  The first class on writing I ever took was taught by my kid's elementary teacher.  No shit, seriously.  Go look up the blog from last year.  I joined communities online, began to research on the business side of things.  I joined a writers group--with my stomach in my throat and a nervousness that made me jittery enough that I could phase through walls.  I have never been as scared as when my first piece was read out loud to 12 strangers that had no idea who I was.  I've had guns pulled on me, not as scary as that first time getting your work read out loud.

It's weird hitting 20K words on the book and not realizing it.  I kept a schedule to write (some of the best advice I ever got).  I wrote in the morning for an hour, entertaining the toddler with juice boxes and cell phone videos.  Then another hour or two at night when I finally put everyone to bed.  On days when the toddler went to preschool I would hit four or five hours straight of keyboard pounding.  I wrote in a castle.  That was awesome.

Then having my wife print off what I had written and bringing it home as I never had a thought to print anything out.  I hadn't even known I had hit 20K words.  Holding that first manuscript in my hand and feeling the weight of it, holy shit this was real.

My daughter made a cover for the book.  I have it still and plan on framing it.  She's awesome.  My whole family came up with a working title:  No Changing Tables In The Men's Room.  My son's told me to get back to work.  Really.  My older son is a beast of a time manager apparently.

All that leads to getting requests for a full manuscript.  Professionals are now reading my book.  Like, more than one.   It makes me want to vomit and dance at the same time.  Maybe they will like it.  Maybe they won't.  I don't know.  But it's ok because this is just the start.  And I want to remember the start, really really badly.  My stories don't ever seem to dry up and there is so much more to tell.

So I want to push the button to send my book out.

The fight is going good and I'm a bit concerned as they are getting closer to whacking the computer.  That would probably put it in the sink.  That wouldn't be good.  Or maybe it would?  Afterall, even though I wrote the book, the truth is that the kids provided the stories.  What happened at the Mormon Jail would have been boring without them.  And who eats grave dirt and licks windows?  My kids do.  A T.V. pilot would have been boring if it was just me going around cleaning things.  And without my wife, none of this would have been possible.  None of it at all.

I realize that it's not my book at all.  It's theirs.  It belongs to the kids who ran like nuts through a state fair.  It's my wife's who always asked me when I was going to write again.  It's the twist ending that I call my toddler.  This book belongs to all those other Dad's that had the adventures with me and kept me humble.  It's to them and their kids who ask me "Where do you want to go again?  Are you sure?  Ok, we are in."    I'm just the guy that got lucky enough to tell the stories.

"Ok, everyone gather up," I tell my kids.  They stop fighting.  I pick up my toddler and put him on my hip.  Umph, he's getting big.  I can actually feel his weight in my arms and wonder how much longer before I can't pick him up anymore.  I gave that up with the older kids years ago.  I miss it.

I tell everyone to put a finger on the return key, the magic black button that sends the book out into the world.

"Push," I tell them.

And it's gone.  It's not our book anymore.  It's everyone else's.


Car Seat Cover

"I hate it," my wife says.  Her nose scrunches up like she smells something bad.  We are in the van so she could actually be smelling the sweaty soccer socks that I'm sure are tucked away somewhere in here.  I wish that were the case.  If it were, then my feelings wouldn't be hurt and I wouldn't be getting all defensive.

"No, you don't.  You love it,"  I tell her.  Primo argument.  Immediately tell your wife how to feel and I'm sure it will work out for you as well as it did for me.  Seriously, don't ever take my advice.  It's pretty terrible.

"Not a chance.  I hate it and I won't sit on it," Hossmom says.

"Yes, you will."  You should also tell your wife exactly what she will do.  I promise that this will work out as well for you as you telling your wife how to feel.


She won't even touch the car seat cover.  She is barely looking at it.  She tries to turn her head because I'm guessing the awesomeness of the white flames is too much to take.  But she can't look away, try as she might.

"Give it a chance, baby.  Don't hate.  Procreate."

"I hate that as much as your new car seat cover."

But she laughs.  If I can get my wife to laugh then I can get her to sit on the car seat cover.

$2.99 from the thrift shop.  Captain American blue and adorned with white flames like we are riding to our destiny.  Professionally embroidered edges and custom fitted over the arm rest.  It was the best three bucks I've spent in years.  I didn't even know I needed it until I saw it.  China makes the best stuff.

"You need to take this off the driver's seat.  I'm not going to be seen riding to the school picnic with this thing on," Hossmom says.

"Baby, baby, baby.  Don't let other people dictate to you.  We don't care what other people think," I say.

"I need for the other parents to think that we aren't meth dealers," Hossmom says.

"Baby girl, let us shine together.  You, me and the car seat cover.  Let's be the sun and not a black hole."

"You call me baby one more time and I'm going to throat punch you."

"No, you're not.  You are a pacifist.  You don't believe in hitting."

"I'm rethinking that."

I get it.  I know what's going on.  Hossmom is jealous of the tacky beautiful.  The blue is too powerful.  The fabric flames are too hot.  She's afraid that her own beauty will be extinguished next to the car seat cover.  I need to reassure her.

"Honey baby," I say.

"Hoss," Hossmom says.

"I mean Honey girl.  Not baby.  Honey girl."  I think I almost got throat punched there.  "Honey girl, you're prettier than the car seat cover.  You know that.  I know that.  It brings out the brown in your eyes, the curl of your hair.  It does other stuff that I can't describe because sometimes your beauty is too much."

"It brings out CPS is what it does," Hossmom says.  "And it's not safe.  It goes over the seatbelt latch.  It's a death trap.  If the police pull you over, you are going to get arrested for having bad fashion sense."

"I got great fashion sense."

"Little Hoss picks out your shirts every day.  You got nothing."

"I got you and a car seat cover."

"Not for long."

"We are running late,"  I tell my wife.  "We have to go.  Just sit.  Just feel it about your buttocks."

"I'm going to buttocks you," Hossmom says.

"I'm game.  Baby."

Crap.  That was a mistake.

Anyone need a bitchin car seat cover?



What Time is Dinner

"Dad, what's that thing?" my toddler asks.

What thing?

"That thing."

I'm driving.  I can't see what you are pointing at.

"That thing.  Over there."

It's a thing.

"What time is dinner?"

After soccer practice.



"What's that thing?"


"What time is soccer practice?" My nine-year-old asked.

In an hour.

"What time is dinner?"

After soccer practice.

"What time is soccer practice?"


"Can we be called the Red Dragons?"  One the kids on the soccer team asked.


"What about the Orange Macaroni?"

We are already the Dragons.

"What time is soccer practice?"

We are at soccer practice.

"What time is dinner?"

Ask your parent.


"What time is dinner?" My daughter asked.

I'm cooking it right now.

"What time is Bubba Hoss's soccer practice?"

We just got home from soccer practice.

"What are you cooking?"

You can see me cooking.  Just look.

"Is it almost done?  What time is dinner?


"Dad," one of my kids asked.


"I'm hungry."

We just had dinner.

"What did we have for dinner?"


"Mom texted, says to not forget the chairs."

I know.  I'm packing the car as fast as I can.  We can leave for the drive-in when your mother and grandmother get here.  About 5 minutes.

"Will there be time to have dinner before we go?"


"Dad!" one of my other kids asked.


"Don't forget the chairs!"

I know!  Don't ask about dinner or we are not going.


"Hoss," My mother-in-law asked.


"Did you pack the chairs?  Don't forget to pack the chairs."

I know.

"Have you guys eaten dinner yet?"

Yes.  We are good to go as soon as Hossmom gets home.


"Daddy!" my toddler asks.


"Don't forget to bring my chair!"

I got it!

"I'm hungry."

Jesus Christ.


"Honey?' My wife asked.

Right here.  The car is packed and ready to go. How was work?  Wish you didn't have to work late today.  It's been a long one.

"Had to finish up some stuff.  Did you pack the chairs?"


"Are you ok?  Why are you getting so angry?  Calm down."

I am calm.

"Ok.  I'll grab the kids and my mother from the house.  Maybe we can stop on the way to grab a quick dinner."

--And that's the moment I lost it.