Archives for December 2010

I Can’t Play The Guitar

Pretty guitars

There is a long list of things that I can’t do. I can’t play the guitar nor can I sing. I can’t play the piano or use a paintbrush to cover a canvas in colors that you can relate to. And apparently I can’t reach your heart. Can’t get you to take my call or tell me what it is that you really feel.

I see you talking to people. See you interacting with people you say you don’t respect. See you act in ways that can only be described as illogical and irrational. It used to make me really angry to see it. I’d wonder when you had taken leave of your senses or if perhaps you had done nothing but lie to me. Sometimes it was hard not to listen the whispers of insecurity and wonder who had taken you from me. It was hard not to wonder if some junky had gotten your attention or if that was just the foolish mumblings of a broken heart.

A thousand years ago you pulled me out of the hole that I had been living in and reminded me what it meant to love and be loved. You reminded me that the life I want to live is filled with hope, fire and passion. And when I climbed out and saw what had become of me I was ashamed of myself. When you looked in my eyes you saw what no one else could see and I remembered who I was and who I could be.

It was hard to be naked in front of you. I am not talking about physical nakedness but emotional. It was hard to let someone see who I really am. It scared me so very much because it felt so right. It frightened me because it felt so natural that I questioned myself.

Gradually I came to realize that it was ok and I grew comfortable with allowing you to wander unaccompanied and unencumbered through the halls of my heart. There was so much joy and love it did nothing but warm my soul. In spite of it all the echoes of the past were still close enough for me to hear their passing. I remembered what had once been and periodically looked backwards, fearing to be caught unaware.

It wasn’t a matter of not being strong enough to face my demons. They could set upon me at any time and I would deal with it. I would handle them and whatever else. I wasn’t built to be like Baryshnikov, though I might try to. These big hands that you used to stare at can do more than caress. They are capable of pulling things or people apart. The mind that sits behind the brooding eyes is always active, probably far too active for my own good. But it is always working, thinking about things. That intensity never goes away. At best I can turn it off for short times, but only when I am completely relaxed and you are one of the few who have seen that.

You once called me needy and to an extent I suppose that it is true. But when you have walked under blue skies and felt the warmth of the sun upon your back you are going to reticent to give that up. More importantly, you said that I was the love of your life. Who else should I be needy for or with.

Sometimes I feel like a fool. Sometimes I feel like a chump who knew from the start that it would end badly. Sometimes I think that it was better to be hard and to push you away. That is what is so funny about this. Damn, if I don’t remember a thousand times when you begged me not to go. Damn if I don’t remember telling you to go find your smile and then come find me.

But it didn’t work out like that. Didn’t because when I gave you my heart I promised to be your hero and swore that I would take the lumps. Swore that I would save you first because you are my air and my heart. Did you see that? Years later how do I refer to you, but in the present. So I ask myself this very simple question.

Does the heart know things that the brain does not? It is always followed by its evil twin who asks if the heart can fool the brain into following the heart. Do I hear and see what I want to see and not what is real. I know which way I fall on that. I know what answer I give. I know what I will do and how I will do it.

There are no guarantees or promises. I find that hard to swallow, so very galling. It chaps my hide in so many ways. But dammit, I cannot be anyone other than who I am. So I continue to dance in the fire. I continue to live inside this burning house. The fire burns so brightly. The flames embrace but do not consume me. Damn you woman, will you not take my hand or must I continue to ache. Will you allow the flames to continue to have their way with me.

What will it take? What must I do to prove myself? If you haven’t figured it out you stubborn broad, I don’t break easily. When you ripped my heart out I did not die. I may have screamed once or twice. I might have shed a silent tear, but I didn’t give up. I mastered the pain and found a way to stand again.

Perhaps I do nothing but play the fool but I do so with purpose. I stand my ground because I remember what was and know that it didn’t end because there was nothing left. I will not allow circumstances to be the sole arbiter of what is to be. I hear the echoes of the future and I stand here waiting their arrival. Time will tell whether I stand alone or not.

Remember what we were told. We can heal each other. Take my hand and we’ll set the night on fire. Please don’t leave me hanging. Long ago you said that it would be tragic for two people not to be together. You were right, but it would be more tragic for two people not to try.

Come dance with me ballerina girl.

“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.”

Building The Blog- What’s In A Name Edition

Excuse me while I wax rhapsodic and chase my tail around this cyberspace cage I find myself sitting in. Old Jack wishes to break free of the fetters that currently bind him. The man can’t stand being shackled, just can’t take being trapped in a cage. He was born free, cue guitar and deeply moving song as he stares soulfully into the distance.

Ok, I can’t go that route because the dear Shmata Queen who probably won’t read this hates when the womenfolk pretend I am Tom Jones and start throwing cyber panties at me. You hear that, crazy Texan who used to live in cleveland. Yes, I am talking bout you and there is not a damn thing that you can do about it.

Those last two paragraphs my friends are the perfect example of your gracious host using an old trick to stave off Writer’s Block.Yes, it is true even I sometimes suffer from that dread disease but when it happens I make a point of distracting myself. More often than not I open my eyes and discover that my muse has returned.

So I am working steadily on building the new blog and have developed a long list of wants, needs and desires. At the top of the list is a question, should the new blog be given a new name? It is a good question because the truth is that Random Thoughts- Do They Have Meaning is a lousy name.

If you are one of the 17 long time readers you know that I didn’t intend to be a blogger. I just threw this place together and started writing on a whim. It wasn’t something that I put any thought into. Surely I have enough creativity to come up with something better than Random Thoughts- Do They Have Meaning.

Ideally the blog name would correspond with a kick ass logo and be integrated into a great design with amazing content. At the moment I’d love to use Grumpy from the seven dwarves, but I have no need to fight with Disney about licensing because I am not going to waste any time trying to license his likeness.

But I have to acknowledge that I have turned the Random Thoughts blog into something. There is brand awareness that has been built around that and good old me, Mr. Jack. It wouldn’t be completely ridiculous to keep the name and just move the shop. That kind of thing happens all the time. Businesses grow and they are forced to move to a bigger and or better location.

So dear reader there you have one of the many questions that I ask myself daily. Is it earth shattering, life threatening or anything that will change the world? Probably not. But then again, maybe it is. Maybe this will be like the butterfly effect. Maybe moving this blog to WordPress will lead to something amazing, incredible and rewarding. And boy doesn’t that amazing, incredible and rewarding thing sound good. So good that I would settle for one out of three. But just in case anyone asks I prefer not to settle.

Anyhoo, I must get some sleep so that I can prepare my incredible, amazing, rewarding and powerful end of the year review. You know, it is that annual post where I talk about how good/bad the year was and tell you that you should read every post I wrote because they are like my children and I don’t play favorites.

And on the off chance that you happen to be a crazy Texan from cleveland- there are things to be said, words to be shared and sooner or later I will pepper your pike.;)

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small,  large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good  sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming  might of the enemy.” Winston Churchill

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”
George Bernard Shaw

This is the kind of post that I normally would write at night. There is something about the midnight hour that lends itself to quiet introspection, but given the circumstances I am writing it now. Writing it now because I can’t keep living on three hours of sleep. Writing it now because for far too long I have been driving myself into the ground. Writing it now because even the mightiest warrior requires rest.

Yes, it is another post where I talk about my unwillingness to give up or give in. There are a host of reasons why I am who I am. Blame it on genetics, socialization and choice. Yes, choice is listed there because much of my life is based upon the choices I have made.

This is a frequent conversation with my children, choice that is. We talk about taking responsibility for our actions and how we have a tremendous amount of influence on our lives. It is something that I fervently believe in. Yet it is also fair to say that I have come to acknowledge that there are many things that are outside of our control. Life happens and all you can do is roll with the punches.

People do not make decision based upon logic or rational thought. They say that they do, but more frequently than not they make their choices arbitrarily. How many times have you glanced at someone and made a decision about who they are based upon their clothes or shape. It is not profound nor insightful to say that we give a break to someone we find attractive versus someone we do not.

In my life I know that I have made choices in that manner. I know that having watched Rocky and similar movies has helped to fuel my never give up, never surrender attitude. If he can find a way to will himself to victory, when then so can I. And I have. On more than one occasion success came because I didn’t quit.

And I love the silent, brooding characters too. Casablanca speaks to me. There are so many scenes that stick out, but for the purpose of this post I’ll grab quotes and clips for two. When Ilsa and Rick see each other again: that look they exchange speaks volumes.

Not to mention the end of the movie, talk about powerful.

I can’t tell you how many times I have watched that or  wondered about this exchange.

Was he truly strong enough to just let her go or was it just him trying to be noble. Did they go on to lead happy and fulfilled lives or in the silence of the night did they pine away for that one special person. So many questions and so few answers.

It ties into the whole never give up, never surrender thing to me. It does so because though I firmly believe in the concept, I don’t think that we can use it for every situation. It is important to stand and fight for what you believe in, but you also need to recognize what battles aren’t worth fighting.

You can take Groucho’s comment and laugh, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” Or you can view it from a different perspective and ask if the principles you are defending merit such a vigorous fight. The beauty of life is that it is not always a yes or no answer. So many of these things are subjective.

The one thing I am certain of is that you have to be comfortable with your decisions and your choices. When the lights go out at night you have to be able to sleep. If you can’t you better hope it is because someone is snoring or a marching band is practicing outside because there is no escape from your self and your conscience.



Back in the days when I was but a wee lad in school I was known for being among the first to finish my exams. It wasn’t something that I tried to do nor is it a skill that I have tried to pass along to my children. There are lots of reasons why this is so, but most stem from  just trying to help them avoid making mistakes. All the old saws, “measure twice, cut once” or “haste makes waste” come to mind. But there is a reason why we still hear about them.

And the reason is that they make sense. So you would think that by now I would have taken them to heart and made them a part of me. But I haven’t because they don’t suit me. I want them to. Really, I’d like them to be more substantive in my life but that is not how I roll. While I can say that I have made my share of mistakes I can also say that I was a good student. I didn’t have to try very hard to get good grades. Most things have come relatively easily to me.

That is not to say that I have never had to work because I certainly have. I have put hours into many of the things that I am good at. My skill and expertise isn’t derived solely from natural ability. Sometimes I forget this. Sometimes I become impatient and the new blog is a perfect example of this. I want it to be done. I want to be an expert who can make it sing, but I am not. I may one day be, but I am not him yet.

So I try to take a deep breath and remember that in time I will get to where I am going. The blog will become what I want it to be. These things will happen because I will work hard, learn what I can and push to make the changes I want. I know these things will happen because I look back upon my life and see the evidence of prior successes in similar endeavors.

Still, I can’t help but wish that I could move time at my pace.

You’re Ten Now

And so it begins. The boy is officially ten now. He has entered double digits and I see more glimmers of the teen to come than the toddler, let alone baby he once was. Seventy some pounds of fury he insisted on staying up until midnight so that he could welcome his birthday in proper fashion.

Don’t ask me to explain what that means because I am not really sure. What I know for certain is that we have a house full of children and that his intention was to have them all participate in this, thing, he had planned. Fortunately they all fell asleep and I found myself having to hug no one but the birthday boy himself. Not that it was a problem, I am very affectionate with all of my children and he is no exception.

Two minutes before midnight he wandered out from his room with a huge smile across his face. I looked at him, my own broad smile mirroring his and asked him if he felt older. He said “sort of” and I said, “you’re ten now.” It really wasn’t for his benefit but my own. It is not like it was a surprise, I was there in the beginning and was in the room when he was born.

His hands and feet are duplicates of my own. I remember staring at him and promising to be the best father that I could be. There are moments when I find myself frustrated, angry and upset about life and I fear that I am not the father that I could be. I am good, but I could be great.

The reasons why I feel there might be a shortcoming there aren’t important. I am very hard on myself and this is just one example. But the real point of this is that I see that he has taken this trait on too. I don’t consider it to be one of my finer qualities and it is my wish that he lose this or at least not be as crazy about it as I am. It is a father’s desire and birthday wish to give this gift to his son. It will make life easier.

But realistically I find it hard to believe that he won’t be as intense as I am. I see it in him. I see the fire burning in his belly and I alternate between smiling and sighing. He is far sweeter than I am and I am grateful for that. Smart and compassionate are good things to be.

He has a very active mind and imagination. If he doesn’t know you he is likely to be quiet but don’t mistake his silence for not paying attention. He has a keen eye and is well aware of the things that are happening around him. Unless he is playing a video game in which case the world might not exist. Actually this is not limited to video games. He is capable of focusing so intently on his task that he is not easily distracted. It is something that his teachers have often remarked upon.

Well liked, he has many friends and could have more if he so desired. But he prefers to be close with just a few people and that is ok with me.

The past decade has been an amazing ride and I have learned as much or more than he has. I am looking forward to the next ten years. It is surreal to think that in ten years I’ll have a 20 year-old son who will likely be my size or bigger.

Time moves so very quickly, I just hope to enjoy as much of it as I can. And now my friends I must grab some shut eye, morning comes quickly and the ten year old will wake up quite early. I suspect that if nothing else that will definitely change in the next decade. We shall see.