Archives for August 2011

Just Shut Up Already

layersoflifeI just deleted 650 words from the finest post that many of you will ever read. It was a masterpiece in which I shredded several bloggers and I don’t mean that in a good way.  Rather I used my bully pulpit to point out their stupidity and the general inanity of their posts in such a way that it couldn’t be misunderstood.

But because I am always thorough I made sure to type slowly so that they could keep up. It really wouldn’t do to have Heckle and Jeckle miss out on being told that they make vapid sound like a compliment.

And then in a fit of insanity I deleted those words. I thought that it might be better to simply rerun Why Your Post Sucks and Everyone Hates Your Blog. Now there is a post that garnered great attention, notoriety and awards that no other blogger has ever heard of.

Come to think of it, most of the awards in the blogosphere are things that no other blogger has heard of. Maybe it is because we have a habit of making up awards to give out to other bloggers. You know what I am talking about, the ones that come with a pretty badge and a URL that links back to the blog of the blogger that gave it to you.

Pretty slick. I call you cool, stroke you and then in return you help give me some good loving, er link action.  Hot links from other bloggers are nice, but they still aren’t as tasty as those you find on a barbecue. Yum, just thinking about some good barbecue makes my mouth water.

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But then I make the mistake of remembering the 650 words I deleted and I lose my appetite. I lose it because I am grumpy, in desperate need of sleep and sick of stumbling onto 1,983,387 posts about how to become a better blogger. I wish that most of you would just shut up already.

You are not adding anything new to the conversation or providing any sort of benefit. And to add insult to injury your 5 month old blog has 238 comments showering you with accolades that you don’t deserve and haven’t earned. You haven’t been blogging long enough to have your own voice and your grammar is atrocious.

Not to mention that you are giving out misinformation about how easy it is to make money online. If it was as easy as you make it sound everyone would be doing it.   I don’t doubt that some people are making money online. I know some of them and none of them made anything significant in less than two years of hard work. Color me confused by how you claim that if people would only pay $47.98 for your foolproof plan they would suddenly be internet millionaires too.

It is not true and we have a better chance of getting rich from the Nigerian prince who has decided that you are the person that he wants to share his fortune with. Just shut up already.

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I have a separate message to those who write me asking about why their comments never appear on my blog. It is because I find your comments to be offensive, obnoxious and unnecessary. I don’t care if people disagree with me. I am happy that others have differing opinions and look forward to learning from others.

But there is a polite and adult way to voice that difference of opinion and some of you just don’t seem to get that. If you leave comments in which you say that I am an idiot and then fill the box up with two or three links to posts you wrote they better be good and they better add to the discussion.

If they don’t I won’t post them and I won’t acknowledge you or that you wrote them. I don’t have to publish them nor do I have to post a commenting policy. There are lots of other places to hang out on the net and more than a few of them are probably filled with people who unlike me think that you are Hemingway reincarnated.  Just shut up already.

Some Things I’ll Teach My Children (Updated Again)


I have a long list of items to teach my children but here is an incomplete list of things that I want to teach them.

  1. Laugh, love and learn always and forever.
  2. Never forget to hold your friends and family close to you.
  3. A good hug can change your day. Everyone needs a hug. We all need to touch, to be held and to feel loved.
  4. The majority opinion is not always right nor the most moral/ethical.
  5. Some things are worth fighting for and some are not. The hard part is discerning which is which.
  6. You can never read too many books but you must always supplement your reading/education by doing.
  7. Travel and interact with the world around you.
  8. Learn to speak more than one language.
  9. Play a team sport and learn how to be a team player.
  10. Understand that life is a journey and that half the fun is indeed getting there.
  11. Life is filled with moments, some good and some bad. Just remember this too shall pass.
  12. If saying goodbye doesn’t hurt than whatever it was probably wasn’t worth much.
  13. Take pictures of friends, places and loved ones. They’ll help preserve some great memories.
  14. Try not to grow up too quickly. Childhood is but a short time.
  15. Look for magic.
  16. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Experiment, love and learn.
  17. Sometimes you need to repeat and redo to learn the lesson. Be open.
  18. Don’t put a healthy head in a sick bed.
  19. Take care of your body now so that it is easier to take care of later.
  20. There is a difference between rebelling just to rebel and standing up for what is right.
  21. Dad repeats himself…often. There is always a purpose and a reason for this.
  22. Be present and live today. That doesn’t mean ignore the future or the past- but remember now is what is happening and tomorrow may never come. Find the balance.
  23. Remember that you may not always agree with your parents but they also are looking out for your best interests.

Originally posted here and here.

Ok readers, what is missing? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Naked Truth

 

Life doesn’t come with a GPS and if it did mine would constantly say “recalculating.” Some people take the high road and some people take the low road. Me? I don’t take a road, I just follow my nose through thick and thin. During the good times I deem it part of my roguish nature and tell those who ask that I am 240 pounds of 5-year-old boy. During the bad times I attribute it to my disdain for authority and desire to march to the beat of my own drummer. Did I mention that my drummer is always off beat.

Six or seven weeks ago I took my son and grandfather to the tux shop so that we could be fitted for the wedding. When it came time for me the guy behind the counter asked me if I knew my size and I asked him for a yardstick. Grandpa got a good laugh from that one and then my mother told me that it wasn’t very funny. I hadn’t a clue that she was anywhere close to me which proves that my mother has never stopped training with the ninjas who taught her how to appear and disappear when I was a child.

The Naked Truth

A short time later I stood inside the dressing room prepared to try on another tuxedo that wouldn’t fit me properly. I looked at my son and engaged in a running commentary about how hard when I was in my twenties I had to have my jackets tapered. He asked what that meant and I explained that years of swimming and weightlifting had given me very broad shoulders, a bigger neck and a thin waist. But what I forgot was that the thin waist was jealous of the broad shoulders so in the time that has passed since my twenties it too has worked hard at growing larger.

Had I not been required to try on the jacket and slacks I might have accused them of using a fun house mirror and scary lighting in the dressing room. Sadly the mirror and lighting were just fine and I was forced to confront the naked truth.

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Remember When-Alan Jackson

Change is hard and I am not always good at accepting it. It comes from being a fighter and a scrapper of the first order. There are things, people and places that I remember. There are moments in time that are seared upon my soul and try as I might they don’t just disappear and I don’t just let go. There aren’t very many of them, but the very few that make the cut are deep. They burn and they ache and I am too stubborn not to wade into the deeper waters. I seek out the places where the fire burns brightest and I jam my hand inside the flame.

I stand there with  my jaw clenched, sweat pouring down my brow and refuse to utter a sound. But the echoes of silence inside my head continue to reverberate and there is no place to hide. Inside I stand in front of my accuser and nod my head as the charges are read.  I am, I said and I did. I went. I was and I would…again.

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I tell my son that it is time to make more than a few changes. He asks me what they are and I say…many. He says that I don’t make sense and I say that he doesn’t make money. It is a dumb joke but we laugh anyway. We like spending time together and I never forget that he is watching me. I look at him and tell him that it is time for me to get more serious about exercising and he asks if that means that I am going to play more basketball. I say no, I am going to be more conscious of my diet and going to lift weights more frequently.

I tell him that I don’t want to talk about how things used to fit me better or how life was like this or that. He nods his head and asks me to explain myself. I tell him that it is simple, “life is happening now and I don’t have time to wait.” I tell him that I feel like I haven’t been serious enough about making some changes. It is a very heavy subject and there is a lot that lies behind my words but I am not talking about that nor do I need to.

Really the lesson that I want him to learn now is to make the most of his time. I don’t want him to waste it. I don’t want him to feel ridiculous amounts of pressure either. But I feel the need to make sure that he understands how much control we have over our lives and our destiny. I want him do more than seize the day- I want him to take it by the throat and throttle it. I want him to go to bed with a huge smile and sense of satisfaction. I want him to be grateful for what he has got and thankful for what he is not.

And when the time comes to talk about these times I want to know that I did all that I could. I want to stare at the naked truth and know that I did my best. And if I have and G-d smiles upon me I’ll have that sense of peace and satisfaction I seek.

Trust Me

It is pushing 12:30…AM and I am back at the computer again. An empty mug with the remnants of the coffee that I drank earlier stands to my right while a bottle of whiskey guards my left. I took it out with the intention of spiking the coffee but never did get around to it. Headphones cover my ears while I listen to Shlomo Artzi sing Enter My Life and My Longings.

The music reminds me of where I once was and forces me to remember where I am. Later on I’ll listen to Bob Dylan sing Knockin on Heaven’s Door and Lay Lady Lay.

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There is a 10.5 year-old boy sleeping in the other room. He is still nervous about this move, uncertain about what it means and suspicious of what I have said. I have spent time trying to comfort and reassure him but he senses that there are things that I don’t say and he is right. There are things happening behind the scenes and he wants to know what is happening. He longs for me to pull back the curtain so that he can see that the wizard is more than a man but doesn’t quite know how to ask so he doesn’t.

But I am his father and I know things so I don’t wait for him to figure it out. I need for him to understand that I have done the best that I can and that he has no reason to fear the future. So I take him aside and ask him to speak with me about the wedding. I remind him that he hated that tie and that he asked me if there was a way to get around wearing it. I told him that there wasn’t but that if he would trust me I could make it more comfortable for him.

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One of the joys of moving is the opportunity it presents to rid yourself of things that just aren’t important or necessary. It is the declutterization of life and something that I should do more frequently. We have had two garage sales and made 1,987,874 trips to Goodwill. It feels good to get rid of the extra baggage and I decide that in many ways this is an opportunity to start over. More things are given away, thrown out or sold- I can’t carry them any farther or longer than I have. Sometime soon I will find a way to declutter my mind. It is time to say goodbye to old ghosts and demons.

Walking through the house is like the proverbial trip down memory lane. I keep finding remnants and relics of a past that no longer exists. There are pictures, videos and memories of people who are no longer part of my life. Some of them are gone because they or I chose to go a different direction and some are enjoying the aptly named dirt nap.

Two of my boxes are filled with old clothes that I have chosen not to part with. I haven’t seen most of these things in years. I stare at an old pair of jeans that certainly don’t fit me now and I smile. These pants could tell more than a few stories. I fold them up and put them back in the box- those stories can wait to be told again at a different time. I am a writer and a dreamer. I am sentimental and nostalgic but today I am focused upon the future so there is no time to listen to the particular echoes of these pants.

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That bottle of whiskey is staring at me and I find myself tempted to grab it in both hands. There is something inviting about it but what I really want is the Glenmorangie that sits in a cabinet not all that far away from me. There is a piece and a part of me that wants to go get liquored up. There is a place that is hollering for help and alcohol sounds like it might help take the edge off. It is not something that I do with any regularity…booze it up that is. But part of me is playing around with the idea. I have intentionally built time into my schedule so that I can pack. I don’t have to be up at 6 AM which is exactly why I won’t take that drink.

All I Ask of You has just come on iTunes and I find my thoughts heading in a different direction. Someone I know is thinking of Emily Rossum singing and places to build a coventreeeeeeeeee.  Not me, I can’t help but think of Mick singing Visions of Paradise. I can’t help but remember and think of….something else. A different time, a different place and a moment that left me transfixed and transformed.

I look up and around the room feeling a bit crazed because I have checked out of this place. It was home but it isn’t any longer. It is just some place that holds my stuff and many good memories but it is a place and that is how I choose to view it. Ok, that is not entirely true because it is more than just a place but it is not mine any longer.

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He looks up at me and says, “daddy, I need your help now.” I smile and tell him to trust me. I bend over and unbutton the top button and instruct him not to pull on the tie. He looks at me quizzically and I explain that if he doesn’t pull on it no one will notice that the button has come undone. He smiles and I point to my feet- I have changed from the tux shoes to my own wingtips. “This is where we pretend we are ninjas and make people see what we want them to see.”

Later on when he tells me that he is not sure about moving I ask him to remember the wedding and he says “you were like a genius” and I laugh. “I wasn’t a genius, but I know a trick or two.” He nods his head and I tell him that if it will all work out just fine. He looks up at me and says, “are you sure?” I nod my head again, “trust me.”

The Story Of A House- The Final Days

The walls in this place are starting to look rather bare. Most of the kids’ artwork has been taken down as have the pictures. There are stacks of boxes and scraps paper floating around and the mood is a bit grim. Ten years ago I moved us into this place thinking that it would be a starter home. Ten years ago I was flying high with a beautiful ten month old son and a career that was in high gear. I have vivid memories of standing in the backyard staring at the Koi pond and wondering if the fish would survive “Little Jack.”

It never dawned on me that a month later I’d watch people jumping from the towers while that beautiful boy of mine played with blocks. I am a writer a dreamer and an avid Tom Clancy reader but still I never thought about that stuff really happening. A few years later when we started raining bombs down on Baghdad I walked in the house and watched that kid race towards me on tiny legs and wondered what the world would look like when he got to be a little bit older. His great grandparents were born during WWI, grandparents during WWII and parents during Vietnam. Not that it matters.

I wander around the house and remember that first Thanksgiving here. He had five great grandparents who doted on him, four of them were my grandparents. I remember all four of them telling me how proud they were and how exciting it was. I remember my grandfathers talking to me about how I would begin to appreciate some things in a different way. I remember them telling stories and talking about what was and now I try not to think about what isn’t. Or maybe I should clarify that by saying, who isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful. I got to know my grandparents as a man, husband and father. We didn’t just chat, we talked. We shared thoughts, secrets and stories. Even though I carry them in my heart I feel like a piece of me has been removed and I have been crippled. They were are men that I loved and I made sure that they knew it. Though they aren’t here I still feel their presence and they will forever walk with me.

The children begged me tonight to cancel the move. They were both in tears over it and I had to look at them and tell them to accept it. Part of me was furious about having to do it and part was fine. Change is a part of life. There are more changes coming and some of them will very likely be hard.

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The blogosphere is something that I discovered while living here. This blog and the others like it have helped me to chronicle and record our life here. I look through my stats and see that today people clicked onWounded By Words, The Right Words and A Jealous Man. Someone spent an hour reading Help Me.

I sit here at the kitchen table and stare out at the darkness and realize that the days of writing from this vantage point are rapidly coming to an end. I sit here and stare out at the darkness and think about how August 2011 will be the month that I remember for burying my grandfather, my sister’s wedding, moving and one hell of a family vacation.

I sit here at the table and think about what lessons I have learned and what to tell the kids. And all I come up with is more gratitude for what we have. There are changes, big changes facing all of us but I feel optimistic. Change is an opportunity and G-d willing this is the kind of opportunity that leads to something bigger and better.

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The hotel we stayed at is on a hillside that overlooks the ocean. Catch the view at the right moment and it is stunning. Little Jack and I are playing Chess. I love playing with him. Love watching his mind work. His sister comes over and whispers in his ear. He waves her off and I smile. These two have their own club and parents aren’t invited. I love seeing this part of them, love knowing that they have a world that I am not a part of- warms my soul.

I am thirsty and in need of a drink so I decide to play aggressively. I look up and tell him that I am about to devastate his defense and he laughs. “You want a piece of me dad.” I nod and tell him that I don’t want a piece- I want chunks. He laughs again. Three moves later I am fighting for my life.

The kid suckered me. My son has fooled me and used a trick to gain the upper hand. I am so proud that my heart feels like it is going to burst- but I am competitive. I don’t want to lose. I look at him and remind him to always watch the angles. I begin to systematically take him apart. Knights, bishops and a rook are consumed as are a handful of pawns. The victory I sought arrives but not as easily as I had expected.

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Alone in the dark I listen to Fleetwood Mac sing “Don’t Stop” and a wry smile crosses my face. It is time to get some shut eye. Tomorrow is already here and the kids will wake soon. We don’t have a choice about moving- but we can choose how we approach it. It is goofy, it is hokey and it is a cliche. I close my eyes and hear feel my grandfathers standing next to me. The echoes of the future are here and I can’t ignore them any longer.