Archives for January 2010

Quality of Life

Whenever it is that I may die there are certain things that I want to be able to say, need to be able to say.

1) I did my best to help my children gain the skills and character to fulfill their potential and become the people that we all see that they can become.
2) I did my best to live a life that was filled with passion, joy and fulfillment.
3) That I didn’t give into fear or convention. That I didn’t allow doubt and uncertainty to prevent me from achieving and obtaining those things that I desire on all levels. That includes spiritual, emotional, mental and material.

And it is my hope that I am able to do these things while giving more to the world than I take and while causing a minimal amount of damage and destruction. I take seriously the idea of planting seeds so that fruit trees will grow for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

The path is rockier and stormier than I’d like it to be, but I don’t know any other way. I can only be who I am. But I suspect that if I do these things I will have enjoyed a high quality of life. More to come on quality of life in a later post.

Never take your health or those of families and friends for granted.

Minnie The Moocher Meet My 9 Year Old Son

I am feeling a bit spent and fighting hard to publish a post that doesn’t make me grit my teeth in disgust. If you follow me on Twitter you know that I survived 1,276 hour slumber party. A gaggle of nine year-olds roamed the hallowed halls of Casa De Jack and did their best to wreck the place.

Ok, that is not fair, they didn’t try to wreck anything, well maybe each other. More than once WWF matches broke out in the bedroom. The grandmothers were none too excited about this and tried to break them up. You would think that since they raised boys they would have understood that wrestling is one of the ways that little boys show affection for each other.

Since they seemed to have forgotten this I made a point of instructing them that “in my house they must follow my rules.” Have to admit that I took great pleasure in telling them this, payback is sweet.

I know all about boys, I am one, albeit far bigger than these guys.

Anyhoo, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to let them burn off some steam and besides I monitored it pretty closely. Those little lion cubs didn’t do much more than growl and nip at each other a few times. Far more time was spent discussing the finer points of game play on various game systems.

Video games were a big topic. My son had requested that each of his friends bring one of their portable game systems with them.

Initially I was reluctant to agree to the handhelds but it occurred to me that they might be useful in helping to keep the kids occupied, especially if people had trouble going to sleep.

So I told my son that it was cool for the other boys to bring them along provided that we had some other activities for everyone to do.

We ended up with a handful of Sony PSPs and a bunch of Nintendo DS handsets generating all sorts of beeps, whistles and music. While they were playing it was remarkably quiet. Aside from beeps, whistles and the accompanying music there was silence.

Of course when they weren’t playing the games the noise level here made the Superdome in New Orleans look like a monastery. These boys made jet engines sound quiet.

After they had played their games, eaten dinner, built Legos and engaged in all sorts of other nonsense they pulled a move that made my jaw drop. They all changed into their pajamas and laid out their sleeping bags. It was around ten.

For a moment I thought that they were really going to sleep. I suspect that I might have even teared up a bit at the joyous thought of their going to bed at a decent hour. But something happened.

Those boys suckered me. They took a ten minute break from the madness and then let loose with a cavalcade of new games and nonsense.We had planned for this and turned on Empire Strikes Back. I figured that a movie would help calm them down.

I was only partially right. It quieted them down until it ended at which point the jet engine roar resumed. I let it go for a moment or two and then made it clear that it was bed time. Well that lasted for as long as I could stand in the room.

As soon as I left the tittering and giggles would resume. I didn’t want to be the mean father and split them up. Slumber parties are known for this kind of nonsense. I did what I could to help those who wanted to get to sleep do so. Some did, but several did not.

Eventually I found myself sitting on the couch. Somewhere around 1 most of them drifted off and  I made my way to bed. They of course woke up at some ungodly hour and left me groaning and coffeeless.

After they ate me out of house and home the parents picked the little buggers up and I sat on the couch in a daze. Now hours later I know that I must look like some overtired slackjawed fool. Really I had intended to go to sleep hours ago.

I figured that I’d watch Big Love and hit the sack, but I found myself unable to sleep, but exhausted. Would it be wrong of me to call the parents of all of the guests and thank them for sending their boys over. It is only a quarter to one, really, they might be excited to hear from me.

Probably not.

Well, overall it was a success but I think next year I might push for something more tame. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

(P.S. I forgot to include the Minnie the Moocher story, will have to do so at a later date.)

Just Another Day

“When I’m tired and thinking cold
I hide in my music, forget the day
And dream of a girl I used to know
I closed my eyes and she slipped away
She slipped away

It’s more than a feeling
(More than a feeling)
When I hear that old song they used to play
(More than a feeling)
I begin dreaming
(More than a feeling)
‘Til I see Marianne walk away ”
More Than a Feeling– Boston

“(There’s life underground)

I feel it all around / I feel it in my bones
My life is on the line / When I’m away from home
When I step out the door / The jungle is alive
I do not trust my ears / I don’t believe my eyes
I will not fall in love / I cannot risk the bet
Cause hearts are fragile toys / so easy to forget ”

Just Another Day– Oingo Boingo

Sometimes I sit down and type these words and am amazed at the simple truths I learn about myself. The words that appear on the screen illuminate and enlighten me. Now I suppose that to some it sounds narcissistic and superficial, but I would argue that it is not really either, at least not in this context. Because here is where we empty out our mental closet and ask if there is a purpose for the contents contained therein.

These simple truths are my reality check. They are where I confirm whether I am being truly honest with myself. It is one thing to engage in acts of deception and duplicity with others but quite another to do so with oneself. For the lies that we tell ourselves are among the most harmful and the most dangerous.

And that is how I came to realize that I have been fooling myself about many things, but primarily about you.

In the beginning I used my anger to shield myself from the pain of our separation. I tried your trick and made a list of your negative traits and actions. It worked for a very brief time. For a short time it convinced me that none of it had been real. Those feelings were a lie that I have conceived because I had been desperate to find someone like you.

The very thought of being desperate filled me with shame and in turn made me even angrier. That anger was my friend. It cloaked the pain of the loss and made me feel like it hadn’t been as terrible as my heart made it seem.

My heart.

My heart was what made me let go of my anger. It was what told me that I was sad and not angry. So I let go of the anger and tried another tack, to forget.

I thought of the heroes of the music and movies I have loved and made a conscious decision to start walking. I’d walk the other direction and you’d never see me turn my head around to look back. Each day would take me one step further away from you. And with each moment I’d find it easier to forget and easier to just live my life.

That was smart. It was sensible, really the wise and mature move. And so I tried it. I envisioned it as being part of a great adventure. I was a hero who was heading off into the unknown. It didn’t matter what, could have been a soldier going to war or a cowboy out on the range.

The only thing that I cared about was finding a way to keep busy until I reached that moment where I  no longer noticed that you weren’t standing by my side.

It was far harder than I expected it to be. A million little things reminded me of you. Songs on the radio, stories people told, movies, books and more made it virtually impossible to do. I told myself that I needed to just buck up, and keep busy. Promised that every day I lasted would make it easier, little victories that I could build on.

Some days were harder than others. I’d sit on the couch and wonder how I could feel so empty and hollow. It wasn’t time that my heart was broken.I told myself that I had been through it before and that was proof that this would be just another story.

But this was harder because it was the worst.

Time passed and the pain eased. Gradually I began to wonder if it was gone. It happened faster than I expected. It made me sad to say goodbye to the pain. Made me wonder if I had fooled myself. But then I figured that it was silly to over analyze it and I just went about my day.

And then I dreamt about you. It was as vivid and real as any dream I have ever had. It brought it all crashing down upon me. All the memories and all the feelings came storming back. The good and the bad, it all showed up for some sort of crazy reunion.

I could tell you about it. If I wanted to I could share so many details you’d ask if I had made it up. But that would be a betrayal of a different sort. It is far too intimate and not because it is sexual. That intimacy is derived from the sort of mature love that can’t really be explained.

All that took place a while back. I decided that I wasn’t going to make myself crazy by over thinking it. Wasn’t going to try to analyze every little thing either. Haven’t reached out because the unofficial rules of this say that it is not time.

Don’t really have a plan, just going to take it day by day and see what happens. I find it all very curious and wonder if this is the road to wreck or ruin. I suppose that we will find out.

(Not sure where I am going to insert this in Fragments of Fiction)

What I Dream About


My mother tells me that my preschool teachers used to tell her that they were certain that I would grow up to be a writer. They said that I had a very active imagination. They were right, I did and still do have a very active imagination.

I dream in bright colors and crystal clear images. I see movies play in my mind and wonder why I can’t turn them into reality. I am not Walter Mitty, although I suppose that we share some traits. I am a dreamer but I am not someone who intentionally misleads other into believing that I am someone other than who I am.

I dream about writing books and becoming a published author. I dream about becoming a columnist and writing screenplays. I dream about becoming a doctor, a scientist and a teacher. I dream about playing left field for the Dodgers and power forward for the Lakers.

I dream about building a castle and manning the walls. I dream about traveling around the world and quiet moments at home. I dream about places and things that make me smile. I dream about MLBF and having a home library. A place with built in shelves and big overstuffed chairs.

I dream about owning a private jet and island getaways. I dream about living out the stories and promises and whispers of the night. I dream about that kiss and the moments in time. I dream about walking those roads in Jerusalem again.

I dream about doing the Ironman and the incredible amount of work it will take to get there. I dream about carving and reshaping my body so that it once again looks as I remember it.

I dream about many years from now when my children are grown and wonder if the visions I see will resemble reality. I dream of long walks on the beach and quiet drives up the coast.

I dream about writing songs and playing music. And sometimes I dream about being granted the talent and ability to perform them.

I have many dreams, far more than I have shared here. There are endless details that I could list but haven’t. Some of these dreams will become reality and others will remain unfilled. The ultimate goal is to see that I don’t look back in regret. I don’t want to have a life that ends in I could have but didn’t.

I want a life that is more than that. It is not to much too ask for. I may dream big, but I am willing to do things to make them into something more.

What Do Fathers Dream About?

The dark haired beauty looks up at me, a mass of long dark curls cascading down the side of her head and orders me to pick her up. “Abba, I am 5.5 now and I want a phone and pierced ears.”

The dark haired beauty looks up at me, a mass of long dark curls cascading down the side of her head and orders me to pick her up. “Abba, I am 5.5 now and I want a phone and pierced ears.”

dream on

As she says this she hugs me, caresses my face and kisses my cheek. This girl of mine has been studying me for her entire life. She thinks that she has me wrapped around her finger. A hug, kiss and a coy look are all tools that she uses to try and disarm me. This little girl has discovered that feminine wiles can be used to try and get her way.

I squeeze her back, kiss her forehead and ask her if she wants to know a secret. She smiles and leans in so that I can whisper in her ear. “I love you! And that is why you aren’t getting a phone.” She snaps her head back and gives me a quizzical look.

I laugh and remind her that I grew up with 1,298,098 sisters. I know all of the tricks and none of them work on me. And then I explain to her that because I love her I set boundaries. She tries one more tactic, tells me that she dreamt that I gave her a phone. I smile again and tell her that dreams are good and that mine are different.

In response she asks, “What do daddies dream about? It is an excellent question. And I swear that for a moment the little girl is gone and a woman is standing in front of me. I suppose that it catches my attention because I think of dreams often. It is a regular topic between the boys and I, dreams that is.

We talk about about them, the boys and I. All of us are in some kind of transitional place in our lives. Some are getting divorced, some are dealing with unemployment/career issues and all are trying to figure out what it means to see our thirties in the rear view mirror.

I take the dark haired beauty by her hand and lead her to the couch. We sit down and she curls up against me. I close my eyes for a moment and savor the moment. She is growing quickly and I see the time when she won’t make this sort of time for me.

I tell her that daddies dream about taking care of their families. I tell her that daddies look at their children and dream about helping them to become good people who have character and are happy. I tell her that it is my job to help her avoid making some of the mistakes that I have made. She scrunches up her face and says that is impossible, I am a boy.

I roll my eyes at her and watch her giggle. She is at that age where it is fun to say that “boys are stinky.” I say that we aren’t stinky and she tells me that she told everyone in school that I can’t drink milk anymore. I smile at her and tell her that she should tell them I am “lactose intolerant.” That should make for fine conversation.

Just when I think that I have redirected the topic she tells me that she doesn’t want to go in the bathroom when I come out of it. Damn if this kid isn’t trying to get the last word on me. I smile at her and tell her that it is time to get ready for bed. She tells me that she isn’t ready.

I nod my head and tell her that I have a solution for that. She asks me what it is and tell her to follow me into the kitchen. I open up the fridge and take out the milk. As I get a cup I tell her that if she doesn’t want to go to bed she can hang out and see what happens if I drink milk.

She scrunches up her nose and screams “no way.” I smile and chuckle. I have to call my sisters and let them know that I have found a new victim for old tricks.

A short time later that little girl is tucked inside her bed. She has just finished reading a story to me. As she drifts off to sleep I smile and think about writing a post about my dreams. Maybe I have grown a bit too accustomed to blogging about life. 😉