When Dad Bloggers Howl At The Moon

 howling at the moon  When Dad Bloggers Howl At The Moon

It sounded like six shots in the night. Six different moments laid one next to the other, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop…pop.

Was that what I heard or was it a car back firing?

Seconds before I finished an episode of Sons of Anarchy, number 11 in season 6. Maybe the violence in the show affected my interpretation of a car backfiring but somehow I doubt it.

Safe neighborhood or not sometimes things happen and six shots if that is what they were is not indicative of danger but still I made a quick loop of the house and checked the place out.

The 22 pounds of sleeping mutt led me to believe no one was close because he loves to bark when anyone approaches but still it made me think, reminded me of the Reaper video that so many have shown on Facebook.

I watched that Reaper chase people and wondered why no one turned upon it. Wondered if I am the crazy one for thinking about standing my ground and not being chased in that manner.

Friday afternoon another boy put my son in a headlock and refused to let go. It took two elbows to the ribs for the kid to release him. The situation was handled and my son pulled himself out of it, but I still wrote the other father.

He apologized for the behavior of his son and I told mine that we would let it go.

“It is not a problem until it is.”

“What does that mean dad?”

“It means we give him the chance to show that it was just a silly misunderstanding because that is what I think it was.”

“What do I do if he does it again?”

“You defend yourself and you make it clear that there are severe consequences for his laying his hands upon you. No one is allowed to do that. You asked him to let go and he didn’t. He is lucky nothing worse happened.”

When Dad Bloggers Howl At The Moon

When I was in 8th grade I would have been horrified if my father had gotten involved the way I did. It would have made things worse for me which is precisely why I hesitated to get involved here.

But the headlock happened on the Friday and the things that led up to it took place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was the culmination of misbehavior.

Thirty-two years after my entry into 8th grade it was ok for me to insert myself. The response I got from the other dad was appropriate and I really do feel comfortable with it but I still needed to make sure my son knew we have his back and that he is to defend himself.

I don’t want it to be with his fists but there are times when it is appropriate.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
― Dr. Seuss

It is too bad the good doctor isn’t here for I would like to speak with him. I would love to sit down and talk to him about creating. I would love to speak with him about his process, his ideas and his thoughts.

I would like to talk to him about writing children’s books and his time as a political cartoonist. I would like to tell him how much that quote above resonates with me because right now life feels complicated.

It feels more challenging than normal and yet it feels easier. It is a contradiction I feel inside, which I suppose fits with complicated questions and simple answers.

These moments that pass in which I wonder and worry are accompanied by a sense of everything working out provided I just let go and have faith. It reminds me of kayaking down a river. I don’t know where or when I am going to put to shore but I know the boat will carry me and as long as I keep my eyes open I should be able to steer around most of the rocks and tree roots.

Maybe I don’t have as much control as I might like but I can be the captain of this ship or conductor of the train and avoid the wreckage.

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
― Stephen King

The Jewish New Year approaches, soon it will be Rosh Hashanah and perhaps this is part of why I feel unsettled. It happens around this time of year, reaches back into my childhood.

I first started exploring it in blogging when I was part of my first group blog. Every year I think about it and the impact of my actions. I suspect if I really dug into what I have written about time of year I would see an evolution in my thought, or so I hope.

It would be good to see growth.

Last year I wrote How Often Do You Really Face Your Fears?

Many of the things I talked about there still reside inside my mind. I still wonder how many people will go to shul because they fear not to go. I wonder how many will go because of community and how many understand what they say.

At some point I’ll have another discussion with friends about Unetaneh Tokef and ask again if they know the words in English.

“On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.”

The purpose isn’t to demean or diminish those who do. I figure if nothing else this is a good time for introspection. Time to shine a light on the darker corners of my mind and see what I find.

Running With The Moon

I am not howling at the moon, now, I am running with it. If there are wolves around I am not worried because they are either part of my pack or smart enough to mind their own business.

Still don’t know what those noises were but I can assure you they aren’t part of one of my stories, there is no fiction here.

A few more days until the chagim, the holidays start and we get to see what the new year rolls out. A few more days until the children and I have another discussion. My guess is they’ll see the video again in Hebrew school and that will be a starting point for another discussion.

I am good with that. It is good for them to think and to be asked why they think as they do.  Thinking is important.

Some of my favorite moments come from these conversations.

It is after midnight here, time for bed. I hope that other boy follows through on his promise.

0 When Dad Bloggers Howl At The Moon
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Writing, Music & Breakfast Sandwiches

emerson courage Writing, Music & Breakfast Sandwiches
Paul Simon is singing about him and Julio doing their thing at the school yard but I am day dreaming about the Hamilton Beach 25475A Breakfast Sandwich Maker.

No, that is not an affiliate link but maybe it should be.

Doesn’t really matter because unless all 9,982 of you decide to buy one I won’t earn enough to take my dear Shmata Queen out for more than a beer.

But I can’t think about that because I am too busy thinking about how if I had one of those sandwich makers I’d be in the kitchen now making a midnight snack. My headphones would be on and I’d be taking advantage of Amazon prime music (listening to Jim Croce now) while I cooked up something special.

Man, oh man, I shouldn’t be able to smell something so tasty when I can’t make it but then again I have the sort of imagination that makes it easy for me to picture almost anything.

To quote the boss in Tunnel of Love:

“There’s a crazy mirror showing us both in 5-D
I’m laughing at you you’re laughing at me
There’s a room of shadows that gets so dark brother
It’s easy for two people to lose each other in this tunnel of love”

Don’t bother trying to make sense of the free form ramblings of a middle aged man after midnight because if you do you might fall down that rabbit hole that Alice got lost in.

Speaking of lost, I lost it today with the kids.

The Angry Father

I rarely yell at the kids, in large part because they are good and it is not needed. But there are moments where my eyes narrow and I find myself losing patience.

It is the usual sort of thing, kids being kids and add that to my having less tolerance for the normal shenanigans it isn’t hard to see their pressing my buttons might lead me to make the windows shake.

Actually I haven’t ever made the windows shake by yelling but a truck passed by tonight while I was reading them the riot act and I took credit for making the windows shake.

Told the kids I was tired of being ignored, tired of feeling like they don’t care about clutter and unwilling to let them live like sloths.

Daughter rolled her eyes at me and I took the book she was reading out of her hands and threw it on the floor. Not my finest moment but I won’t have the eye rolling nor is she allowed to show that kind of disrespect in general.

The kids know if we are talking I better see eyes looking at me and not at phones or iPods.

It is important to me they learn proper manners. I do my best not to talk to them while staring at my phone, the courtesy should flow both directions.

Blogging And Game Playing

Been a part of multiple conversations with various people about how to increase traffic, what sort of metrics are meaningful and exchanging ideas about blogging in general.

Lately these conversations want to make me tear my hair out because an old curmudgeon like me likes blogging because I enjoy writing/storytelling.

While I have done things to monetize the blog, reviews, giveaways and sponsored posts among others I have never played the game as hard as I could.

I haven’t devoted the energy I could to hitting the conferences, reaching out to sponsors and making friends with the right people. I just don’t want to play the game. I like doing this on my terms and when opportunities come my way I am happy to take advantage of them if they make sense but I don’t have the desire to engage in the nonsense I see elsewhere.

Not saying those who do are bad  people. Many of them are very good people and I like them because they are the same person on and off blog. But there are others who just aren’t.

Transition time is taking a lot of energy and focus and forcing me to spend it elsewhere and I am ok with that.

The Courage to Change

If I had known about the sandwich maker when I was in Texas I probably would have bought it. I would have made myself breakfast sandwiches for lunch and dinner too.

Course I did it sometimes without the sandwich maker so you might argue I don’t really need it but I might suggest I want it as a time saver. Our time is limited and I can hear that tick tocking so I pay attention to finding ways to maximize my ability to focus on the key areas.

I love to eat, probably more than I should but right now I could use the few extra minutes it takes to cook those sandwiches by hand. Course if it is healthier to cook by hand it might be worth not spending the money on it.

Then again I don’t have any cash to devote to it so it doesn’t matter.

It is an interesting time because in some ways I am as a poor as I have ever been, cash reserves are rapidly fading but remember the two things I said here:

I am not a fucking tree and I don’t have to stay rooted to things that don’t help me live the kind of life that makes my heart full and my soul sing.

and

in some ways I am more me than ever before.

That means in a short time if I really want to buy that sandwich maker it won’t be a question because this moment in time is like the period where the caterpillar snoozes in his cocoon.

Won’t be long before I’ll break free, spread my wings and take flight.

Listen carefully and tell me if you hear that Yawp.

That’s me.

Dad Blogging With Bob Dylan

forest 1024x682 Dad Blogging With Bob Dylan

Not so long ago I asked What Happens When Nothing In Your Life Goes As You Planned It To but I never thought that so much could have changed and yet stay the same.

Midnight is moments away and Bob Dylan is singing “Lay Lady Lay” and I am lost in the lyrics.

“Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he’s standing in front of you.”

For a moment I hear the echoes of Dylan singing about having your cake and eating it too and I wonder if it is possible or a pipe dream to have such a thing.

If my children asked about it would I tell them it is possible but improbable? Would I push them to rope the moon and reach for the stars or to stay grounded?

Maybe I would speak with them about Dad’s Barbaric Yawp. Maybe I would tell them about what once was, what never was and what could be.

Perhaps would tell them about when I decided time was a bitch and when I realized I wasn’t going to accept that I didn’t like how life had turned out.

Sooner or later we’ll have that conversation and if my gut proves true I will say to them I am not a fucking tree and I don’t have to stay rooted to things that don’t help me live the kind of life that makes my heart full and my soul sing.

It is an important life lesson. They need to understand the difference between being capable of holding still during a storm and the ability to move. Because when we talk about the ability to do what is required it doesn’t mean taking a beating to prove you are tougher than the next person.

I want them to be smarter than I am. I don’t want my thick head and stubborn nature to keep them from seeing the value in rolling with the punches and making changes.

Dad Blogging With Bob Dylan

“May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.”

It has been almost 11 years since I stood next to Bob Dylan at that birthday party and thought about how odd it was to find myself standing next to a little man in a knit sailor’s cap who was and is considered to be a legendary writer and musician.

I hadn’t moved along far enough on my own journey to have thought to ask him about writing. I don’t know that I would have and not because I was intimidated because I wasn’t but because it wasn’t an appropriate setting for him.

But looking back I doubt I would have asked the kind of questions I would want answers to now. I hadn’t accepted that I had made some mistakes and needed to engage in some significant course correction.

I didn’t call myself a writer then. I didn’t think of myself as a storyteller or creative spirit. I was a father with young children who was focused on trying to earn as much as I could so that I could take care of my family.

Life hadn’t taught me yet how finite time is and the importance of focusing on building a career that would fill my heart and make my soul sing. Some of you will read these words and roll your eyes at, back then I would have.

But not anymore.

Now my eyes are wide open and I see things I couldn’t. I know things I didn’t and I am a million miles away from who I was and yet in some ways I am more me than ever before.

Bob Dylan’s music morphs into Johnny Cash’s cover of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and I am stunned by the beauty of the lyrics while simultaneously thinking about how to write such a song.

This is what I am supposed to do. I am supposed to write. I am supposed to tell stories. I am supposed to create.

It is not a revelation any more but every time I have this feeling I smile and I think about my children and my ole as their father.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

My job isn’t to just raise them and teach them right from wrong. It is to give them the confidence, the courage and the strength to experiment.

It is to help them stand tall when they feel weak and to put a hand on their shoulder when they are worried and say that what matters in life are the moments.

To remind them of the importance to do their best to spend those moments with people they care and love about but to also remember that sometimes you can find these moments on your own too.

There is beauty and joy in solitude as well as with a companion.

Joy and s0rrow are two faces of the same coin but only a fool doesn’t look for joy in the journey.

The beauty of having lived a little bit is that you begin to understand and appreciate the world in a way you can’t when you are younger. After you have loved and lost and then loved again you see the world with different eyes.

If you haven’t done these things. If you haven’t lived a bit you might see this as being a commentary about relationships but if you have you might understand it differently.

You might also see it as thoughts about inventing and reinventing yourself.

Maybe both are true or maybe neither. The joy of life is finding meaning for yourself and not for others.

What Happens If You Die Tomorrow?

the iss with dragon and the center of the milky way galaxy What Happens If You Die Tomorrow?

“I dare you to look at yourself through my eyes and see what who I see when I look at you.”

What Happens If You Die Tomorrow?

I have no reason to believe I am going to die tomorrow or any time soon. Based upon genetics, desire and force of will I expect to be around for another 90 years or so.

If you know me well you know I am not kidding when I say that if Death showed up I would kick his bony ass or die trying. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering about life or asking hard questions because the goal is to be able to say I lived a full life. The goal is to do whatever I can to ensure that when I die people don’t spend time talking about all that I could have done if only I had more time.

Unless something incredible happens there will never be enough time to do all that I want to do. There will never be enough time to do all that I am capable of doing.

Some of you might think it sounds like hyperbole, arrogance or some combination thereof but I don’t think it is either.

It is recognition that much of what we accomplish in life comes from making the effort to make that happen. It doesn’t mean there aren’t limitations because there are but most of the limits we live with are things we apply to our own lives.

What Could I Do?

Ask me to give you a list of things I could do and I’ll tell you I could be a doctor, researcher, teacher, writer, scientist, politician, athlete or philosopher.

Ask me to elaborate and I’ll tell you that is an incomplete list and that it is not set up in order of preference or likelihood. It is just what came to mind first.

I haven’t any doubt about my ability to go to school and obtain the education that would allow me to take coursework that would lead to my receiving a piece of paper that established my expertise in any or all of those fields. My experience with obtaining my college education proved to me much of it is contingent upon my willingness to work and study hard enough to pass the exams.

Give a person who is willing time to do what is required and they’ll find a way to figure it out and get that degree. That is part of why I am not impressed with degrees and titles. I know a lot of people who obtained multiple degrees but only a few of them strike me as being truly outstanding but that is a different topic altogether.

The point here isn’t to diminish or demean nor is it to prop up or praise.

It is about recognition that our time is finite and that if we want to fill our lives with activities and people that mean something to us we have to work at it.

Effort is required.

What Scares Me

I wonder if what scares me scares you too. I wonder if some of you wake up and wonder why you are spending time with certain people. I wonder if you wake up and wonder why you do what you do because it doesn’t make your heart full and your soul sing.

I wonder if you’d tell me that I am talking about a good game but not making the changes in my own life that are required. I wonder if you would tell me that this is woo woo, new age crap and that it is not practical to talk or act like this in real life.

You might be right.

Maybe I am full of shit. Maybe I am a 45 year-old man who is stuck between youth and older age and is wondering where his place is. Some of that might be accurate.

Hell, it might all be accurate but experience has taught me to believe that money isn’t everything. Maybe having more and losing it has made me more cavalier than I sh0uld be.

Or maybe I have figured out more clearly what I need and what I want.

What scares me more than anything is reaching the end of my life and seeing a ton of regrets because I didn’t let myself live the way I want and need to.

I am just as frightened by the idea of saying I wasn’t selfish enough as reaching that point and saying I was too selfish.

Dad Is a Soccer Coach

We lost our second consecutive game today.

It is my second time coaching my daughter’s team but not my second time coaching. I have been down this path multiple times before. Walked this road enough times to have a clear vision for how to teach the girls to play the game and to know what sorts of tools and resources we need to be successful.

Watching them play today I made mental notes of the good things they did as well as the errors and I thought about how we just don’t have enough time to practice.

If we had more time to work on things they wouldn’t make the mistakes they made with spacing and the defensive breakdowns wouldn’t occur. They wouldn’t tell me that it is hard to play when it is 103 because they would be better conditioned and we would have prepared for this.

Staring out the window at a starry night it is hard not to think about how much better I could be at coaching if I had more time. It is hard not to wonder where I failed the girls.

There are a few who irritate me to no end. They are mouthy little know it alls who don’t want to listen and work hard because they have bought into the hype their parents have sold them about how working harder during the games compensates for lack of practice time.

I understand that some of them have lots of other activities. Piano, ballet, homework, softball and soccer make it impossible for them to focus their attention on any one thing so it is spread out.

They don’t know that I get it. They don’t know that I have thought about what would happen if I had the time to focus solely on certain activities and how I believe it would make a significant difference in skill and ability to execute.

But our time is limited.

My daughter runs herself into exhaustion. She chases after the ball and players with single minded purpose and I smile. I smile because I love her effort. I smile because watching her proves that there must be some sort of genetic thing going on. I have never told her to play this way yet she plays as I do.

It offends us to stand around. It irritates us when exhaustion takes away our ability to perform as we think we should.

Our time is limited.

What Happens If You Die Tomorrow?

I don’t know how not to worry or think about this and I am not sure that it really matters. I only know that I am the guy who is driven to live a certain way.

If I should die tomorrow I won’t have done all that I could or accomplished all that I want to. It will never be enough. There will always be challenges to overcome, things to see and moments to share and experience with those I love.

All I can do is try my best to make peace with that and accept that I have done my best.

And maybe that will be enough.

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The Piper Is Calling You To Join Him

0 The Piper Is Calling You To Join Him

“Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,
The piper’s calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?” Stairway To Heaven

The music is playing and the tune I am hearing grows louder and stronger. I sense the need to include bits and pieces from other posts and that if I do a proper job there might be one hell of a story to tell and or share here.

So consider this me running with the moon and the words that follow my attempt to weave together a tapestry that tells the tale I want to tale and perhaps the one you want to read.

******

Won’t be long before the Traveling Jack takes to the skies again. I feel it in my bones. Got so much to do and see and the changes keep on rolling. I keep working hard to take care of a million different tasks and am interrupted a million different times.

These interruptions are irritating and I am growing really impatient.

Some might say that the universe is trying to get my attention. I would answer by saying that I keep telling Joe Universe that I am listening. Got a cellphone, land line, Twitter, FB account and 25 email accounts. It is not hard to find me.

Someone tell the Scarecrow to ring the Tin Woodsman and the Lion because I am ready to start walking again. Can’t keep listening to the tick tocking of the clock- got to move…

******

I feel like I am stuck on that Yellow Brick Road except I know that the wizard is just a man and any flying monkey that is foolish enough to mess me with me will find itself permanently grounded.

Another day in which I stare at the face in the mirror and find myself shocked when he talks back to me. That dude with the thousand mile stare and the bad attitude tells me that I am in control of everything and nothing. He says that it is up to me to make it happen and that I have nothing and no one to blame because no one cares.

He is right you know, no one cares about the excuses we make for why things don’t happen.  We all have our cross to bear and troubles to share. That doesn’t mean that I think that no one cares or that no one can offer a helping hand because that is not what I see or think.

I know from experience that if you ask for help you can find it. It might not always be what you want or even what you need. Part of that is because we don’t always know what that need is. And if you combine that with the way that some people refuse to ask for help you have a recipe for a little bit more chaos and confusion than you might like.

“I believe we have two lives: the one we learn with, and the one we live with after that.” Iris Gaines From The Natural

The headline should be changed to sometimes Bloggers Are Insecure because that is more accurate. It reflects the truth or maybe it reflects my truth.

Sometimes when I don’t receive many shares or comments I suffer from Blog Envy and Tweet Esteem issues. Most of the time I don’t care because I love what I am doing too much not to do it.

This place you are visiting, it is my refuge and my salvation. There is so much joy in the journey I can’t properly express what it means to me.

I can tell you about how I became a writer, stopped and then started again. I can tell you about how blogging has helped put me back on track to what I am supposed to do with my life.

I am a writer.

This is what I am supposed to do. These words you read are magic and are taking me too places I only imagined.

Thirty years ago I wanted nothing more than to be an outfielder for the Dodgers. I was good. I led the league in home runs. No one had a better arm than I did. I threw out a boy at home plate.

I still remember scooping up the ball in center field and firing it home. It was perfect. He slid right into the tag.

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

Ever hear of this band called The Beatles? Once upon a time they were considered to be pretty special. Do you think people criticized them for using that last subhead as the title of a song.

Did people go running Helter-Skelter because they couldn’t find Sgt. Pepper to tell him about the fool on the hill or the guy who said he was the walrus.

Maybe.

Not unlike most people I am on a journey, a spiritual quest of sorts and I feel like I am doing the two steps forwards, one step backwards dance. It is sort of an awkward and ugly shuffle but I am not built for grace.

That is ok with me because I know who I am and what I am about. I have a goal in mind and a general idea for how to get there. That is my way of saying I see the spot on the mountaintop I want to reach but I don’t see the fucking trail.

Not that it makes much difference, I walk, I hike and I climb. Doesn’t much matter whether there is a path or not because while I may not climb like a monkey or mountain goat I get where I am going.

I suppose some of you are going to scratch your heads with this one. Some of you are going to wonder if The Mad Hatter is going to show up. Some of you are going to wonder if you’ll ever see the five minutes you just lost again, but not all of you.

That is because some of you will understand the parts and pieces. Some of will follow what it means to run with the moon and to feel like you are on a quest.

I Stopped Trying To Figure It Out

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it provides a venue for me to just dump out the contents of my head. Think of it as a giant closet that is being emptied so that the contents may be sifted and sorted.

That is sort of what this post is. It is a collection of fragments of old posts and some thoughts. It is me turning over the toy chest and trying to decide which toys are worth keeping and which need to find new homes.

When I stopped to trying to figure it all out and stopped trying to control everything life got much more interesting and more enjoyable. Now I am like Huck and Tom rafting down the Mighty Mississippi.

Or maybe it is more appropriate to say I feel like I am surfing a giant wave and instead of fighting the ocean I am going with it. There is joy in the journey, all you need to do is look for it.

BTW, if you are interested in the posts that were used for this one you can check out:

I don’t have all of the answers I have been looking for, but I have found more than a few. I feel a bit like Indiana Jones and though I am sitting at a keyboard it doesn’t mean I don’t wear the hell out of a fedora or am any less capable of using this bull whip.

Can’t tell you what chapter I am on, but I know there is a lot left in this story and I hope you continue to share it with me.