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The Poop Car

"When I fart it's like a little dinosaur rawr. When dad farts it's like RAWWWWR." -Quin, age 3

The other day we pulled up to the house and I did my Sherpa duties of emptying the car and tracking down the children. When we got inside, I settled into some surfing before realizing I had no idea where Otto was. I asked Quin and he shrugged. I started to panic a little bit because my imagination is horrible. Had I left him alone to suffer on some street corner? Is he still at Target? Did I leave him on the roof like I did the bagels and then later the boys' hot chocolates? Why in the hell would I have put him on the roof of the car? All of these questions pounded my conscience as I burst out of the house and ran towards our white 1999 Subaru Forester. Muttering to myself about being an idiot, I orbited the outside of the boxy wagon to find my middle child perched in the doorway of the car. He wasn't entirely in and he wasn't entirely out. He leaned against the open door as if he were about to make a parachute jump.

A little thing about our 1999 Subaru Forester. To our boys it's better known as the white car, yet to me it's affectionately titled the poop car. You see, the Forester is the one place where the boys can use potty talk. In the poop car they can flex they're foulness and giggle like demented comic book villains over flatulence, diapers and other excretory appreciations. It was our last ditch effort to curb their emissions, and we think it's worked.

The impetus for the poop car came when, like a time-lapse flower, our boys blossomed from mostly innocent vessels of adorability, to biological waste dumps. It happened fast and our parental ordinance was but a baby sneeze amongst their fecal mushroom cloud.

We got our poop car for about two grand off of Craigslist.We offered all of our gentle admonishment; finger snapping, distractions and occasional all-out shut-your-mouth shouting, but it seemed like aside from going Adrian Peterson on our beloved boys, we needed to conjure something creative.

So, we compromised. We offered them a place to get it all out, and sometimes that means we get a quiet reprieve as they go out and sit in a parked car. A little Israel for the literal shit talkers in our life.

That's where I found Otto. He was set silently on the edge of the car's exit, gazing up, down and around like he was trying to remember what he'd forgotten. And then it came to him; just the right youthful expletive before giving up his raunch rights for dook-talk downtime. "Poopy!" he shouted, before jumping to the ground and running inside. I was left to close the door on the poop car, but happy to leave their inanities outside in the driveway.


Coming up for air | A Recollection of an Election (and death)

On an election’s eve about 12 years ago, I was sitting on the floor in a worker’s union building. I can’t remember which union it was, but they’d lent their space to the 2002 Democratic Coordinated Campaign. 

There were many reasons why I was on the floor. I hadn’t slept in two days. I was working three jobs. My wife and I had quit our careers, gotten married, moved to a different city and bought a house. That all took place in a month. 

And our guy for US Senate was down in the polls. He’s what they call in the biz “a good candidate.” He’s tall, handsome in an 80s Magnum PI sort of way, and he belongs to a major law firm. But the week prior he’d talked himself into a hole on national TV. I remember watching and believing he could pull it off, but every word that spilled out of him fell deeper into a well of confusion. It was as if he’d lost control of his mouth. He was stuck trying to explain the three legs of America’s financial stability. He’d gotten out two, but struggled to convey the third. With is hands he gestured what looked to be the shape of a leg, maybe one that belonged to a short stool. Accompanying the pantomime was a smattering of adjectives, none of them really wanting to be together. It was hard to watch.

A few days later I would be talking to voters and one guy would say, “You’ve got balls. Didn’t you see him on2002 was bad year to not want to attack Iraq. Meet the Press?” I tried to focus on the compliment part of it. 

It was tough. Aside from the 80-hour-a-week campaign, I was writing radio copy for four stations and deejaying weekend evenings for another. My working hours sometimes reached into the 120-hour range. My new wife spent a lot of evenings at home, alone, and revisiting that “or worse” part of the wedding conversation. 

But I wasn’t sitting on the floor of the union building because of my little mortgage problem. I was on the floor because I could no longer physically stand. It would have been the best time in my life to be drunk, but I didn’t have time for it. I was high on something else, if you can call it that. What I didn’t know was that I was being killed by carbon monoxide. 

You always hear how people go to sleep and simply slip away. They have a headache but it’s been a stressful day so they do what anyone would want to do: they crash. I had the benefit of being a “Volunteer Coordinator” for hundreds of people who in a few hours were going to fill the very hall in which I sat alone. This meant there was no sleeping until all the preparations were done. Elections don’t leave time for dying.

And let me just say this about working for a campaign. It starts as just a job, or as something you’ll just dabble in a bit. But soon you’ve forsaken sex and food for knocking on a stranger’s door. You start to believe the rhetoric and, despite two hundred-plus years proving the opposite, believe that one person can feed the poor and make your nipples shoot Slim Jims. You really have no choice. If for one second you doubt the momentum, you’ll fall off the treadmill and get trampled by five hundred people with Blackberries. Every third day or so, just when you think you can’t tolerate another drop of coffee, someone you barely know tells you if you stick it out there will “be a spot on his staff.” Rarely is that positive, but in politics staff spots are offered in lieu of money, and reality. Because he has to be elected first, and that’s why you must work harder. And you’re off again, swilling caffeine and surrounded by doers and shakers and suspicious, fat men who buy you beers and swear one day you’ll go somewhere. Plus there’s media involved, and a spitting, blowing maelstrom of rumors and mud. When you’re in the middle, in the huddle of camaraderie and like-minded hugs, you don’t want to get out. So on some Saturday, when a boatload of hot, wealthy yoga moms are taking three hours to help you litter the town with your candidate’s picture, and you’re the frontman for a bevy of beautiful college kids all fresh faced and ready to devour your carcass, you soldier on. 

On this day, my college kids weren’t so hungry anymore. Four young go-getters helped stuff fliers into bags and call potential voters. We were a good team until I found two of the three females lying on the floor. 

“What’s the matter?” I growled in a funny bear voice, trying to make my disappointment sound more like friendly sarcasm. 

They had headaches. They were dizzy. 

I told them to eat something and drink some water. They said they had. I was about to implore the third woman to motivate her friends, until I found her slumped over a desk. 

“Are you sick?” I delivered with ice. 

She nodded and got up. She and her friends were going to go home she said. I couldn’t believe it. They helped each other up and walked out. I turned and rolled my eyes at Brian, the one other guy. He tried to match my incredulity, but was busy crying. 

To be fair, he wasn’t Steel Magnolias weeping, but his eyes were watery and red. He worked a little bit longer, but things weren’t going his way. He’d roll up an informational piece and, while reaching for a rubber band, would let it unroll. Then he’d drop the rubber band while trying to roll up the sheet again. Finally, he gave up and approached me. He kept walking until all the personal space was gone. A few inches from my face he blinked some tears and talked in slow motion about needing to leave. 

And here's an image of our brains shutting down.

I kind of took on a martyr role. I told him it was fine. I’d manage to get everything done. I stormed around the office, drinking bottle after bottle of water. I’m usually a thirsty guy, but now I was going to wash away my pain. And then, at some point, I sat down and started thinking about everybody going home. The two girls who were the first to get sick were petite. And the third was just as thin but taller. Brian was bigger, but at least eighty pounds lighter than me. I wondered if we all had the same thing, but because I was the thickest of the group, it was taking me longer to succumb. At some point my being dense would be an advantage. And then I crawled outside. 

In kind of an industrial rainbow, the bright florescent of the union hall streaked into the dim yellow of the street. I would have a hard time dialing 911. I got to my knees and took a deep breath of outside air. I closed one eye, and focused on the numbers. I wobbled. If I were to die, my final act would be drunk dialing emergency services. 

Other than growing up in a wood-heated home where breathing smoke at least meant you were warm, I had never had any experience with carbon monoxide poisoning. It wasn’t until the firefighters hoisted me into the truck that I realized how lucky I was to be alive. It helped that one of them actually said, “You’re lucky to be alive.” 

One of the guys walked around the room with a CO2 detector. It beeped rapidly and he agreed. It was off the charts. I spent the rest of the early morning leading an ambulance around the Denver metro area to find the other four. Turns out they all were OK, but Brian and I had to spend a few hours in the hospital for oxygenating. 

One of the firefighters said that the building’s exhaust had been blocked with a mound of old clothes. It was intentional, but I never heard any followup as to an investigation. However, I thought of our candidate baffling Tim Russert and the world by trying to finger draw furniture in the air, and I wondered if someone had done the same thing to his house.

That night, at the big election party, I got a little recognition. It was Tuesday and I hadn’t slept since Sunday. My wife was getting to spend some quality time with a sleepless prick at a depressing event for a losing candidate. On his way to his concession speech, our Senatorial hope stopped and pointed at me. He leaned my way and shouted against the noise, “I lost but you’re still alive.”

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t spite. Like “oh god, not both!” I didn’t want to ask him to try and explain. It was simple, it was true, and it was as right as any politician had ever been.


Jared Ewy's 2014 Midterm Voter Guide

I'll just dive right in because if you live in a swing state like Colorado you've heard enough. Now to be as succinct as possible in trying to make you think and act like I do.

Senator - Udall.

Yes, Udall. Gardner has been part of the most pointless Congress in history. Yes, the Congress that voted over 50 times to get rid of Obamacare and spent billions of taxpayer dollars shutting down the government. Yes, that Congress. Udall, while part of a weakass one-issue campaign, has demonstrated to me that he's still focused on getting things done and not on your typical sociopathic quest to keep oneself elected. Gardner's one big advantage? He hasn't made many gaffes. But you wouldn't have either if you hadn't done anything.

Representative - (this will vary on your district but for D1) DegetteI will crush you with my brain.

You know #heforshe? Degette should sponsor #sheforhe to show the men in DC how to get things done. (pictured at right)

Governor - Hick.

This guy has pissed off as many liberals as he has conservatives. Now that's balance. Beauprez is about as seasoned as a bologna sandwich.

Secretary of State - Neguse

Here's a guy who actually cares about people being able to vote. Unfortunately, that hasn't been a huge priority of the many ethically challenged SOS of late. I didn't say Scott Gessler by name.

Treasurer - Markey

The current treasurer, Walker Stapleton, has about 1/4 of the experience of Markey, but he is a member of the Bush family and once got a DUI. So, yes, one day he'll be president. (And Markey, a Democrat, should be a Republican dream: she's been a successful small business owner, torched expectations as an executive AND saved the GOP from having Marilyn Musgrave tromping around their ranks.)

Attorney General - ??

I don't know much about any of the three candidates. The Denver Post said they like Don Quick, but after they Just not a fan of this facial hair.endorsed Gardner for Senate it's hard to know if they're sober. Cynthia Coffman is married to Colo Congressional Rep Mike Coffman, and he's a bit of a turd, imo. David K. Williams, a Libertarian, has a pretty terrible goatee.



 State Rep, District 3 - Kagan

Kagan hasn't done much to light up the night sky, but he's been practical in tightening up marijuana laws andBenge. encouraging police training, for example. Candice Benge has very little experience and seems to be a shill for the construction industry and/or vying for a job on Fox News. But she looks cool and I'd love to be her friend.


Amendment 67 (personhood) - NO. God no.

These soulless twerps know this won't win, but seem to only have it on the ballot (for what...the 3rd time?) to get the pro-choice lobby to spend a ton of money. And it's working. I'll just add that that if you're against abortion, then don't have one. But beyond the bumper sticker politics, how about you pack up your creepy fetus death sign, stop yelling at teenagers outside the clinic and do what really should be done: support alternatives to abortion and put forth whatever's left of your heart to educate and encourage the kids who are already here. Then maybe one day your guidance will keep them from getting knocked up at 12.

Amendment 68 - Nope.

This really has boiled down to a casino that wants to be here versus those that are already here. They're battling it out with ads of teachers pleading for new revenue and that raspy voiced lady saying dire things about creepy out-of-state casinos. Personally, I'm not a fan of horse racing and casino buffets are always overrated. Also, I'd like it much better if schools were funded because people wanted to avoid the terrible cost of ignorance (something that could lead to poor gambling decisions.)

Prop 104 - No.

Lately anytime you open a meeting to the public you get idiots dressed like Hitler shouting dumb comparisons to Nazi Germany.

Prop 105 - Yes.

I don't want to say that anytime Monsanto, Pepsi and Kraft Foods doesn't want me to vote for something I will, but yes. They make so much money off our well-fed heinies that the least they should do is let us know what we're eating. I know, it's only in Colorado and bla bla bla but I'll defer you to Bill Nye the Science Guy for a more convincing argument.



The bell ring run

My guy Otto is in the black coat and starts in the way back before running through to the left. I took these in approx 5 seconds. It's amazing how much happens in such a short time. Heartbeats, hilarity, excitment, anticipation, fear, kindergarten and all of it running right by...


One simple trick to improve your marriage, life

Just a note in male misunderstanding. All caps for a moment: WE SHOULD NOT TRY TO FIX THINGS. For me this goes across the board from inanimate to organic, but this post is specifically about the loved ones in our lives who share with us their most intimate issues. This is going to blow your effing mind: they don't want us to fix a damn thing. Granted, there are some exceptions, like when they ask directly, "can you fix this?" And they're holding an actual physical possession you actually physically broke during a Bronco game. Other than that, and most often when it's a female, FIXING IS NOT IN ORDER.

The incident that brings me here this evening is with my wife, a perennial victim of my fixes, who was airing her grievances about her job search. All the lady wants is something part time to stoke the coffers and keep her from going nuts. In no surprise to the professional world, the woman has garnered much interest. Apparently, however, asking a company for part time is equivalent to begging for a fiscal screwing. It's amazing how little anyone wants to pay someone who can't go full time (ignore that if you're reading this during work hours.)

Yesterday I came home to a person who needed to share and vent. It's one of the main reasons we enter holy matrimony: to have partner with whom you can talk smack about anything or anyone (although you probably should limit it to everyone except that person. That's a different post I hope you don't require.) Sarah was giving me all the details of a call between her and a company's HR, when she said that, along with her references, they wanted all of her W2s from 2006 to 2011. First of all, if you need someone's tax dossier to get them in the door, you have trust issues and probably shouldn't be dealing with personnel. Secondly, if you're the husband/lover/whatever listening to this vital emotional release, don't interrupt and say, "I totally have all your W2s. They're in the filing cabinet downstairs."

It's somewhere in there where Sarah closed her eyes and shook her head. She was done talking. I wasn't (unfortunately) and rolled on like a brakeless semi about how I could get all the paperwork. And then I stopped. And Sarah looked at me. That look. You know, as if I were her 7 year old who'd just done a thing that people do when their frontal lobe hasn't fully developed. Because SHE ONLY WANTED SOMEONE TO LISTEN.

Now I know I've provided my wife with many opportunities to flash back to "for better or worse" and wonder if she's reached the lower extreme, and even though this is but one minor offense, it builds up. Especially when she knows that I know better. Listen. Don't get out your emotional tool belt and start going to work while she's talking. Listen. And it's amazing--and this could be the problem--it's amazing how simple life can be.

Not broken


Otto and Soccer | A Tribute to Awesome

So if it's possible--and I shouldn't doubt myself as that, I think, will be part of the message here--I'd like to capture one of the most magnificent things I've ever seen in my life. I know, you're preparing yourself to hear another parent piling on superlatives about one of their children's achievements, but I promise you that this is the stuff Rocky is made of. It's the shared DNA that has every human stepping out of their own meager expectations and rocking the mantle to its core. I don't have video of the event, and I have only a few eye witnesses who will vouch for the action I will describe. All of them, however, will most likely lack the conviction with which I'm about Halelujeuh into the heavens.

He's got this.
I coached Otto's soccer team. I've never played soccer or even watched much on TV. I even grew up with a distrust for soccer-centered suburban communities. Who did they think they were kidding? That's not football. Also, I assumed they were rich, which in itself is not a bad thing, but you bundle it with my background of small town suspicions and you get ungrateful elitists playing a mystery sport in the swank comfort of carpeted homes and anti-lock brakes. I had to overcome a lot to accept my coaching position. Mostly, though, it was to watch a lot of YouTube videos to figure out the rules of the game. Sarah gave me a quick tutorial (herself being a Baltimore County All Star) and, with her help, took a battery of YMCA coaching tests to become official. I was nervous, but ready. And then on the first day I spent an hour watching a clump of children chase a ball. Other coaching detail included getting them to stop picking flowers and focus on the game, as well as making sure they got to the bathroom on time.

It was cute and fun until our first game. We played a team that started two six year olds with pituitary problems. They brutalized us. Some people complain that nowadays we don't keep score anymore. I'm no longer one of them. Our rival was mostly boys, competitive little retches, as compared to mine, all girls and Otto, who are some of the sweetest people I've ever met. But maybe they could have held off on hugging one another until they actually scored a goal. And maybe don't braid each other's hair in the middle of the game. On the field in the middle of the game. With the undying lovefest, I thought Otto would be a standout. I figured he was going to run out there and crush some spirits with his buzz-cut intensity and little brother angst. He didn't. He ran and hustled, but fell down a lot. Often he fell down just to fall down. Sometimes he'd stare into space and, in what I have to admit were disappointing moments for his father, my middle-boy beast with the six-chambered heart would ask to sit on the sidelines. I let it go. I wasn't about to be the Great Santini to a five year old in a game I barely understood.

The Ewy boys, Otto (l) and Quin (in his rec center basketball jersey), worked well together against the wall of blue.
The season wore on, painfully. The parents asked if we could switch kids from the other team. Every game we played the same opponent, and every game we were crushed. So I recruited. I got Otto's big brother Quin to play a couple of quarters before he left for his 1st/2nd grade contest. Other kids had their six-year-old siblings show up. We  got more competitive, but every game I wanted to make sure our original six got to play together. I was bent on seeing them improve--I was bent on them actually scoring a goal.

It would happen, and it would come in the storm of confidence and childhood awakenings that would have the trash-talking spawn on the other team (the Cheetahs) complain that the game was unfair. For once we were competing. The score we didn't keep was tied. The Silver Surfers were on the verge of victory.

Here's the thing, I had seen Otto improve throughout the summer season. Games one and two he fell down a lot; by game four he was starting to show some interest in competing. This was game seven; our final game of weary parents and waning hope. One father wondered if the experience would discourage his daughter from the game for life (he could thank me later for gas and equipment savings.) With the help of Quin and two other six year olds, we were on the verge of dominating, but when one of the better Cheetahs went down with an injury, I pulled the big kids and let my original team have a shot. I wanted the unit--the flower pickers and the sky gazers, the potty breakers and the junior entomologist doting on a ladybug midfield, mid action--to prove that they could play. I'm happy to report what I'm about to report.

I've not seen the heart that I saw on these kids. One was so small that she could barely get enough leverage to move a soccer ball. We're talking hip height here. But they all lined up for the final quarter kickoff. My three six-year-old stars watched from the sideline. My Surfers were back in their accustomed position of having the much larger Cheetahs swarm towards their goal. I'd see this first hand not just as a coach, but as a referee. I did both, and I didn't mind it, as my team could use all the help they could get...and you know how hometown refs work. So it was from the center field where I saw it go down. Where I saw the reason my youngest son would bust out dance moves I didn't even know he knew. Dance moves that would paralyze an older soul.

The Cheetahs kicked off. Their big kid, the one with the mohawk (there's always one,) blasted the ball right into Otto. He kept his feet, gathered the ball and kicked it back. It what was really more of a retribution kick instead of well-planned pass to a teammate. The ball launched right back at the mohawk. But this is where Otto woke up. This is that moment you remember as a kid; that time you realized that your aunt was your mom's sister. It's the first time you snap your fingers, or whistle or, as I remember so clearly, discover that yesterday wasn't an actual day of the week, but a generic term for the day before today.

I'm not sure who needed who more.
Luckily, Otto's awakening was more exciting. His was a hammer. A reckoning. A kid realizing on the run that he had as much right to that ball as the cocky mohawk. Otto pursued the ball. He followed up. Something that you don't hear referees shouting at players, "follow the ball...follow the ball!" And he did. He followed pert near through the bigger kid, pushing him aside and kicking the ball out ahead. It was here where we all realized what could happen. I stopped to get clear visual. Sarah stood up. Chloe's parents perked up as did Hallie's and Kiana's. Otto had a one-on-one break to the goal. We rarely had the ball on their side of the field. We rarely had the ball, period. With Mohawk stunned still, his teammate was left to defend alone. Typically, even this was more formidable than my Surfers could contend with. But not today. The defender stepped in and Otto kicked the ball round him. And then...sweet god I wish I had a camera. I wish I could loop this moment over and over--pull it down on the big screen whenever Otto is feeling down or reeling from a beating by his big brother. The whole field stopped in a modern movie special effect. It was the Matrix and my son had dodged bullets. It's weird when you see your kid do something so cool. I'm a doubting jerk for feeling surprised, but this is a kid I thought had given up. I thought he'd rather be in the shade playing with his baby sister. That, however, was before he knew how good he could be.

With all of the parents, both those of the Surfers and the Cheetahs rapt and wrapped in the silence of a vacuum venue, we paused. We weren't so much watching a kid with a ball but all of us as giant kids with our own proverbial scoring opportunity. With an unlikely juke glancing the bigger boy to the side, Otto was free to the goal. In a flash I reminded myself not to get cocky. Kindergartners are liabilities with dull scissors. Could this really happen, I asked myself. And it did. With his left foot he kicked it in. Otto scored a goal. The underdogs pulled the tarp off their talents. The little guys, the nice kids, those who got to appreciate bugs and flowers for much of the season and still go out on top. The crowd went wild. I mean somewhere around twenty parents shrieked life into the suburbs. Otto went nuts. It was weird and awesome. He flexed and walked like a tiny Hulk. His dark eyes some other place. And then he danced something like an Irish folk dance and an end zone celebration before wriggling into the skip walk of a happy deer. He finished with some wild agreeing with no one in particular. "YES!" he shouted. If yesterday's Otto had fallen down, today's Otto was standing over him and giving a glimpse of his alpha future. The crowd continued to cheer and his teammates relished a valid reason to hug.

Sarah and I can't stop talking about it. Otto is proud but understated. Maybe it is because I was the ref and had to suppress my excitement that I find you here in this space trying to bring my son's achievement to life on paper. On this website of tiny pixels swallowed by the whale of the web. Maybe it's because kids hear enough about how great they are but it's us who need a reminder. The writer in me wants to capture it in words because the parent in me didn't get it on camera. Or maybe it's that it was awesome. It was so damn awesome.

And now kindergarten should be a breeze.


wrote a subtle thing for the boys while I'm out of town...

Let me tell you about two boys, Bartle-O and Bartle-Q,
they look so much alike
it’s hard to tell who is who.

They have the same hair, eyes and nose,
and it’s even said
they have very similar looking toes.

They both are funny, handsome and always polite,
like at the table,
where they make meals a delight.

Many times even their parents get it wrong,
calling out Bartle-O
when it’s Bartle-Q they needed all along.

Or when they’re looking for Bartle-O,
yet find Bartle-Q,
it gets crazy and no one knows what to do.

But there are subtle things that can be found:
like Bartle-Q is taller,
and weighs more by one ounce and a pound.

Bartle-O is the junior of about two years,
and cuts his hair real close
(having overcome his barbershop fears.)

Bartle-Q and Bartle-O are always keen to compete,
and often when they do,
it starts a battle of who’s the one to beat.

Bartle-O will run and catch Bartle-Q,
and then the brothers
bicker until they’re blue.

And it makes their parents crazy (as you might agree,)
that these two wonderful boys
can’t get through the day quarrel free!

But one day it dawned on Bartle-Q: 
is the best friend he ever knew.

And it jarred him with tingles to his brain,
that racing Bartle-O
would make him faster than a train!

And Bartle-O got giddy in a flash,
that an older brother
just might teach him reading and math!

Each brother, it turns out, could make the other bigger, 
and together they could help out their sister, 
(who’s still but a nipper.)

So now the boys share their space with great glee,
and it’s said…
they’re more alike than you and I can see.

Because while Bartle-Q and Bartle-O look so much the same,
it’s something else,
like their brains, that’s their real claim to fame.