Archives for July 2011

Lesson Learned

When someone punches you in the head you don’t expect to hear “You can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.”  Yet the first two or three times he hit me that is exactly what I heard my father say. Dad wasn’t there for the fight, but I had heard him say it so many times it wasn’t hard to imagine him saying it again. It sort of surprised me to hear that. I don’t know what I expected but it was different than that.

I don’t know, maybe I thought that it would be similar to the Batman show from the 1960s. You know the one with Adam West where every blow was accompanied by an animated “pow” or “oomph.” It is kind of silly to read those words because that wasn’t the first time that I had been hit. Well, that is not entirely true. It was the first time that I had been hit with boxing gloves every other time had been with a fist or foot.

This time was different. I was twenty years-old and standing in the center of a boxing ring. Young, dumb and stupid Jack had agreed to spar with a guy who was my height but no where close to my weight. At the time it had seemed like a good idea. I had been spending hours in the gym each day and my body showed it. I had taken the swimmers body I had in high school and carved it up in ways that would have made Michelangelo jealous.

So when the guy at school asked me if I was interested in checking out his boxing regimen I said sure. I had heard that boxers had a decent training routine and figured that it might be fun to try it out.

Just before I stepped in the ring one of the guys there asked me if I was certain of what I was doing. I nodded my head and smiled. He looked at me and suggested that I wipe the smile off of my face before the other guy saw it. I told him that maybe he should tell the skinny guy to watch out because I really was much bigger.

In between rounds I leaned against the ropes and tried to figure out how to catch him in a corner. I knew that if I landed one solid shot I would be good. Moments later he danced around and sent a glancing blow off of my body and I thought, “Lesson Learned.”

This post was based upon a prompt from The Red Dress Club.

If you are interested in reading past submissions you can find a list of them below:

 

Listen Twice As Much As You Talk

Twenty-six years ago I sat on a hillside overlooking Jerusalem and listened to a man chant about the destruction of Jerusalem. It was Tisha B’Av and while my friends and I listened to him chant from Eicha I made a silent promise to myself that when I returned to the states it wouldn’t be for long. I felt as if destiny was calling out to me and all I had to do was answer.

Twenty-six years later I find myself in a very different position than the one that the sixteen year-old boy I once was expected me to be in.

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It is not really a surprise to me to write those words because as a 42 year-old father I have the benefit of having lived and loved a little bit more than that boy. That boy wandered the streets of Jerusalem with his friends and swam in the Mediterranean with his first real girlfriend. He saw things and experienced pieces of a life that he wanted to live. That boy wasn’t sure how he would make it happen but he never doubted that one day he would live that life. Part of the benefit of being sixteen was that he wasn’t burdened by realistic expectations or concerns about things that could hold him back.

Life was there for him to live- provided that he was willing to go take it.

It feels a bit funny to write about myself like that but it is hard to put myself back in those shoes. It is not that I don’t remember because in many ways I do. There are pictures and letters that help to shore up the memories that lie between my ears and a thousand stories that have been told a million times. But so much has happened it is hard to really remember what I wanted beyond a few serious things and the superficial.

That 16 year-old would have been offended by this. He would have asked how I could forget being evacuated from a forest fire the day before we left the states and then talked about how the airline lost our luggage. He would have told that story about the six hour layover at Degaulle and the cab drivers who didn’t speak English. And even though he hated the Yankees he would have talked about meeting George Steinbrenner at JFK.

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And then I would have told him that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason- listen twice as much as you talk.

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The best part of moving is the way you discover lost treasures. Last week I found a six page essay that I wrote my freshman year of college. It was for English 101 and was titled “Why I Write.” My professor gave me an ‘A’ and left a comment on it that said that she thought that it was the best thing that I had written all year long.

I read it and remembered the 18 year-old who wrote it. Pieces of it sounded eerily similar to my life as it is now. It was a bit disconcerting to read those words and feel that sense of disappointment that maybe I haven’t done what I set out to do. I thought about it for a while and tried to figure out if I really thought that I had fallen short or if maybe destiny had come calling upon my door again.

There was a part of me that kind of liked the idea that maybe the carousel had finally completed the circle and it was time for me to try getting off of it again. It sounded a lot better than the idea that I had been taking a nap when opportunity knocked.  Or I thought that alternatively it might have been a case of me having to learn some sort of lesson before I could move on.

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I can’t say whether it was any of those things or none of them and it doesn’t really matter. What matters to me is how I feel about my life now and the future that lies before me. There is much to say about that but since I am writing this late Sunday night I think that I’ll save those thoughts for later.

5 Favorites

 

 

The Ties That Bind

Confession time: It makes me crazy when people ask me to list a specific number of “favorites.” It doesn’t matter whether it is books, movies, music or foods the constraints of being limited to listing a set number of items rubs me the wrong way. So you might wonder why I used a headline like 5 Favorites instead of something that didn’t use the limits I hate. Well, read this post on improving readability and you will see that Marianne makes some excellent points about how numbers are visually pleasing to people.

Since I want you to participate in this it made sense to me to try to pull you in. Just to be clear, I still think that headlines are overrated. BTW, I reserve the right to list more than 5 or less than 5 entries as the case may be.

5 Favorite Movies

  1. Casablanca
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. Star Wars
  4. Unforgiven
  5. On The Waterfront

5 Favorite Musical Artists/Bands

  1. Ray Charles
  2. Johnny Cash
  3. Bruce Springsteen
  4. U2
  5. The Beatles

5 Favorite Authors

  1. Mark Twain
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. George R.R. Martin
  4. Nelson Demille
  5. Stephen Donaldson

Now it is your turn. Who do you like to read/watch/listen to?

Weekend Reading

Do You Still Beat Your Wife

The original headline to this post was going to be something like “Gini D Broke The Blogosphere. It was tied into a post that she wrote that turned into a stunning example of why people need to read carefully and think before they speak. I think that I found Gini, Lisa and Spin Sucks around January or so of this year. It has quickly become one of my favorite haunts on the net and I was grateful for the opportunity to guest post for them.  One of these days I’ll give it a more thorough endorsement than that, but for now suffice it to say that I read it daily.

Anyhoo, the reason I mentioned that stunning example of the need to read carefully is because some of the commenters did a superb job of proving that they are in need of the reminder. I know, it is not nice for me to call them morons, buffoons or idiots who suffer from illusions of grandeur. But I am not here to be nice and I do so love being able to address them as mutton heads who argue without logic or reason.

Fact is that some of them remind me of the people who try to win debates by making comments like, “do you still beat your wife.” If the goal is to try and anger someone so that they cannot argue effectively this might be one way of doing so, but it is not necessarily something that I would recommend. Nor would I deny using that very technique upon occasion. Call me a hypocrite and I’ll ask if child protective services ruled for or against you.

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Last night my pal G and his wife came over and hung out for a bit. We met each other on the first day of kindergarten and have been friends ever since. It was good to see the old man and I appreciated having the opportunity for the kids to see him and his wife. The kids don’t remember that G met them both at the hospital the day that they were born or that he used to be at their birthday parties. If he hadn’t moved over to the right side of the country he’d still be hanging out with us, but the old bastard done hitched up his wagon and moved.

It was good to see him for a host of reasons not the least of which is how happy he is. Not that he wasn’t before, but he and his wife are a great match and it is good to see how comfortable they are together. And it was good to show the kids that old friendships don’t have to die because people move either. Hell, it couldn’t be easier to stay in touch now. When we were kids it was pen and paper- long distance telephone calls cost far too much.

Thirty-seven years later and here we are. Told him last night that since it is summer we ought to grab our bikes and go ride somewhere. Way back during the dawn of time that is what we did. We’d meet at his house or mine, grab our bikes and just go. If we had enough pocket change we’d grab a slurpee at 7-11 and maybe a comic book and then go hit the bike path to find adventure.

It is a little bit different than the lives my kids live now. They get shuttled and chauffeured around more than we did. They don’t get in trouble for showing up after dark or being late for dinner the way we did because life is different now and society suffers from an overactive imagination and a bad case of fear.

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I really enjoy Spotify and Google +. I am short on time so I won’t give you the full review of either but for now I’ll say that they are great. Google+ has been especially good and I am really enjoying the hangouts. If you are on Spotify here is a playlist I threw together when I was just messing around.

The picture below is my Twitter avatar. It is from a spot in the Los Padres National Forest. I have been roaming around there for close to 30 years now- it is simply beautiful. Been meaning to scan some more photos in. For now you have the shot below or alternatively click here and gain some insight into places I consider to be among my favorite refuges.

padre