Archives for June 2014

Who Do We Thank For All This?

Breakfast Buffet

Sometimes I listen to conversations people have including those I am participating in and I think about how easy it is for us to forget to be grateful for what we have.

It is one of those lessons that I have learned from parenting. It is something that comes from reminding my children about the importance of gratitude and appreciating the virtual cornucopia of gifts we take for granted.

You could look at the photo of the breakfast buffet above and make it a simple comment about being grateful that we have the ability to go eat at something like that every so often or you could extend it further and be grateful for living in a place where we have the opportunity to do that.

We aren’t at war here. There is no one shooting at us or trying to blow up the restaurants we occasionally go to. We are healthy and we aren’t homeless.

Those aren’t just little things, they are big things.

Who Do We Thank For All This?

My daughter recently asked me if I started blogging and I had to laugh. I told her I wished that I had because it would mean that I had given the world something special and because it might mean that I could retire now.

She told me she couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t blogging and I smiled because I started before she was born. Granted it was only a few months but either way it is true.

Ten years.

It has been ten years now that I have been chronicling the lives of the family, writing stories and just enjoying myself in the blogosphere.

I have been around long enough to who have been there at the start of the brand ambassadorships for parent bloggers and to have seen multiple evolutions within blogging.

It is kind of funny to think about how the more things change the more they stay the same. We still have the same conversations about comments, growing readership and monetizing our blogs that we have always had.

There are still concerns and complaints about this and that but I can see some things have come around. There was a bunch of effort to try to build community among the dad bloggers.

It was why I spent a lot of time writing posts like 2010 Is Still the Year Of The Daddy Blogger because I figured eventually it might sink in and maybe something would come from it.

I remember trying to link to a bunch of the guys with a weekly post called The Festival Of The Fathers because I hoped that might generate something but I never got as much traction as I hoped to.

The funny thing about blogging is that sometimes it can feel like we are doing this all alone, in some sort of vacuum but if you look at things you sometimes realize you aren’t alone and never were.

That truth was reiterated for me when I took another look at comments in The Daddy Blogger Community post on the old blog.

Familiar names and faces help to remind me that there were lots of us out here doing our thing and many are still around.

I don’t want to be a mommy blogger because I love being part of that dad blogger community. It has grown exponentially and you can see ample evidence that it is going to continue.

Who Do We Thank For All This?

I am lucky for many reasons one of them is I am not one of those people who talks about bad fathers. My father and grandfathers were good men and good fathers.

None of them deserve special praise for being good fathers because they did what fathers are supposed to do. As my role models I saw firsthand what is required of being a father and like them I don’t ask for any praise for being a parent.

This is not the humblebrag or a request for anyone to thank me for looking out for my family. It is like the whole babysitting commentary- fathers don’t do that and I don’t want to be thanked for doing what every dad should do.

But at the same time I have to thank my dad and grandfathers for making sure I didn’t have to be told what to do and that I knew to do it.

Circling back around what I am saying is I understand I didn’t get all I have solely through my own efforts. Yeah, I got a lot because I worked for it but I didn’t build my house or create the Internet. I didn’t grow my own food, sew my own clothes or build my car.

Nor did I create this blogosphere that has given so much to me.

I am grateful to those who came before and those who came after. I am grateful to those who walked the road with me and those who might have gone alongside me.

I know it can sound hokey, but it really does take a village.

Sometimes The Past Meets The Present

Storm

More than twenty years later I am lying in the dark holding the phone in my hand listening to your voice- wondering how you found my number and why you called.

My heart is pounding and my mouth is dry.

“I am in trouble and I need your help. They’re back.”

Most nights I wouldn’t have heard the phone ring and if I did I would have ignored it but not this night because sometimes the past you walked away from visits you in the present.

“I don’t have much time. You promised you would drop everything and come running. I need you…now.”

The past doesn’t extend its reach into technology so when the line goes dead there is no busy signal or white noise to let me know the call is over.

It is just dead but the silence provides no answer or reasons why. The battery could have gone dead or the party on the other side could have disconnected it.

For a moment I lie on my back and stare at the ceiling not thinking about anything. Maybe this was a dream…

*****

And then the other memories hit me like a torrent of water and I remember why I had to walk away from the woman I planned to marry.

Twenty-five years ago the boys and I graduated from college and decided to travel around the world.

We started in London and gradually made our way through Europe and hop scotched around a couple of continents flipping between Asia and Africa.

The plan was to follow our hearts and go wherever they took us, regardless of whether it made sense. Logic was for school and since we were out of school we ignored it. Took a freighter one direction and then hopped on a plane in the reverse two days later.

Time was meaningless and so was money.

That was because of my friend The Duke. His real name was Chadwick, but he preferred to be called Chad.

It is a tossup as to whether he hated being called The Duke more than he disliked being called Chadwick.

The Duke came from old money. He grew up on a monstrous estate and lived a life out of a movie. His graduation gift was control of a trust worth in excess of $100 million.

So money wasn’t a problem and neither was time. The only real problem we had was that we were young dumb and stupid,

Took a trip to city in Thailand called Phuket only because it looked to us like it was pronounced “Fuck It.”

Our time in “Fuck It” was punctuated with lots of moments that should have gotten us arrested. Somehow the members of the great fraternity of young, dumb and stupid managed to avoid those particular problems.

Things didn’t get crazy until we were in Paris. It had to be Paris. I didn’t like the city, didn’t want to be there and would have happily skipped it.

But Young, Dumb and Stupid was overruled by the power of the penis. Yep, young horny men met girls and got dumber, or maybe I should spell it dumberer because it was really bad.

I still have the letter that started it all. A handwritten note with flowing cursive letters and heart dotted ‘I’s sent by the girl who Chadwick swore would be his.

If the jerk hadn’t been thinking with his dick he might still be here to help me figure out what to do now.

This letter is a stain that I want to wash away, but I can’t. I had just begun to believe that maybe it was over but now I see I was wrong.

Old friends and old money combined with the invincibility of youth discovered there is no statute of limitations on the judgment that comes from those the gods despise.

I never believed in karma but I believe in memory and understand those who believe we have committed sins don’t forgive and forget but god only knows I wish it were otherwise.

Promises were made on both sides but none of us really believed they would be kept so we took measures to ensure they understood we were serious. Maybe we had read too many books and seen too many movies because we had no business being in the position we were in but then again we never should have had to worry about any of this.

Chad swore to me that if I followed his lead he’d get us out of there and that they would leave us alone. Until that moment I had never wondered  about what kind of friend he was or worried that he would betray me.

Never thought twice about the guy because we had been through the wars together or at least we thought we had. Hindsight is a wonderful thing because you can visit the past but it is a bittersweet moment because right when you reach the best part you get to see what a fool you were.

Even though you know it won’t matter your body tenses up because you can see the blow coming but you can’t stop it.

*****

We’re sitting in the car at the airport and you are telling me that you want me to write you once a week to fill you in about our adventures.

“I want to hear about everything. I am so jealous. You are so lucky that Chad is being so cool with you.”

There is sarcasm in your voice. You don’t like Chad much but I have known him my whole life and since he preceded you the friction lies just beneath the surface.

You aren’t going to tell me to lose him but I know something about him grinds on your nerves. I get it, he can be an acquired taste but so can I.

But I can’t say no to the trip. He is a trust fund baby whose parents have said we can use the family jet and pilot to take us around.

That is just ridiculous. I told Chad and his folks I couldn’t accept a dozen times but they insisted. His mother assured me that Chad would take the trip with or without me so the cost is essentially the same.

I smile back at you and promise to write and maybe even call. You punch me in the shoulder and when you tell me to kiss you like it is the last time I do never expecting your words to be like a prophesy.

Do People Think You Are Weird?

medieval fool

The look of horror and shock on his face almost made me stop talking but I didn’t. That was because it was more important for him to hear what I had to say than to let his version of reality remain untainted.

“Dad, why would they do it and how could they say you are weird. Everyone is weird.”

I think my son was around eight or maybe he was ten when we had this conversation but the truth is I don’t remember. The real date might already have been immortalized in a blog post here but since I can’t remember it doesn’t really help.

That is the challenge of having written almost 10,000 posts, all the important stuff is mixed up with the narishkeit you have already posted.

I don’t remember what prompted the conversation but I remember telling him that I had been fired more than once and that some people thought I was weird.

It bothered him because he thought I was superman and among the coolest men anywhere. I appreciated that and part of me liked having him think of me that way but I thought circumstances called for reality.

Circumstances Called For Reality

One of the hardest things in my life has been my proclivity to compare my professional life with my father’s. The man worked for one company his entire life.

He started at the bottom and then worked his way up the ladder. I remember celebrating some of the promotions with our family and the pride I felt in my father.

Dad didn’t brag about these things. If I knew about them it was generally because someone else mentioned them. All he said was that if you worked hard and did a good job we could do it too.

I believed that…for years and then experience made me question it.

Because after I had some real life work experience I saw the rules weren’t always applied evenly and that some people got away with crap that others couldn’t. It felt like some people could do whatever they wanted and there were no consequences.

I could tell you the stories about why I was let go and I can promise that many of you will nod your heads in sympathy because I was collateral damage in a pissing contest between partners.

Another time I was replaced by someone who made 30 percent less than I did.

Two other situations were created by mergers and acquisitions in which my job was moved or absorbed by someone else.

Technically I could have offered explanations to my son about these moments because they weren’t really my fault but I didn’t want to teach him how to make a clock when all he needed to know was what time it was.

But the biggest part was my not wanting him to feel like he was trying to match a standard that always seemed out of reach.

An Ordinary Man

I didn’t realize my father was an ordinary man until he had a major heart attack and I hopped on a plane not knowing whether he would be dead or alive when I landed.

It sounds kind of silly to say that, especially since I was 35 but it is true. It is also true that his words about hard work and being accountable for our actions have stayed with me.

Because any time something happened to my position I heard his voice inside my head and wondered what I did or didn’t do to contribute to being in this position.

It was hard not to look back and wonder what I could have done better to make myself invaluable. It was only after deep thought and time that I was able to accept sometimes things happen and we aren’t responsible.

I didn’t cause the merger or make the company close my office to move it to a different state. It wasn’t always me.

That realization did wonders for me but I felt an obligation to try to help my son avoid walking the same path I had.

Do People Think You Are Weird?

I told him that some people think I am weird and that I have been called many other names too. Heard these things my entire life in large part because I have never been afraid to stand out.

If I had something to say I usually said it and as I have grown older I have become far more bolder about it all.

He asked me if I worried about it and I said only sometimes. That is because there is a very small group of people whose opinions matter to me.

But I explained there have been moments where I have wondered if some of my social media activity could bite me in the ass because it might not always be understood or interpreted as I want it to be.

Sometimes I tweet things or write stuff on Facebook that I think is funny but people might not agree.

When he asked me if that meant I would be more careful about what I posted I said I think I might be and sometimes it makes me sad.

Because I am happiest when I just write with reckless abandon. Let those who like me do so for all of me and not just the self censored stuff because that is not me.

I told him I wanted my children to be themselves and to remember that being different than others doesn’t always mean you are weird it just means you are different.

And that is ok.

What about you? Do people think you are weird?

Life In Transition

EBRP police car 1 8-22-09

5 Songs

Texas Flood- Stevie Ray Vaughan
Don’t Stop Believin’-Journey
Knock The Cover Off The Ball- The Natural Soundtrack
Levon- Elton John
Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth-Primitive Radio Gods

Sitting under the California sun poolside listening to music and all of a sudden I hear Stevie singing this song and the internal video player starts flashes all sorts of wacky images.

Memories of things that I have been a part of and movie clips that I haven’t flow by and I can see John Candy dancing in the car to Ray Charles’ Mess Around.

It is hard not to laugh thinking about that scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles but in some ways it is a bittersweet moment because it hits me that life is in transition again.

Life In Transition

Some might argue that life In transition is a silly phrase because things are always changing and that this river we call life never stops moving.

That might be true but there are moments where it slows down long enough for you to take a deep breath and enjoy the moments. Slows down long enough for your children to grow roots in one place and than tell you that they will not allow you to turn the world upside down on them again.

Part of you smiles at this because you said the same thing as a kid and you know from experience that kids are often better at rolling with changes than adults but that doesn’t set your mind at ease because part of you feels guilty you haven’t been able to provide the same sort of childhood you had.

It is hard to say yours was better because your children haven’t really suffered. They have gone through some bigger changes than you did but they have also had and done more than you did at their age.

How do you measure whether that is better or worse? You can’t.

And the truth is they are well adjusted children who do well in school and have lots of friends so something must be working.

Questions Fathers Hate To Answer

Sometimes I think about questions fathers hate to answer and wonder if I should sit down and make a real list of those things. It is the sort of post that could be fun to write and something that has potential to be picked up and shared but part of me rolls my eyes at it all.

But mostly it is because there really aren’t questions I hate to answer. There are some that I don’t like very much but very few really throw me.

Granted when my almost ten year-old asked me if I knew about periods and tampons I sort of twisted in my seat for a moment. Blame that on my being caught off guard but I dealt with it.

I asked her what made her wonder about it and she told me that she heard some counselors at camp talking about who had a tampon and that made her wonder how they are shared.

That little dark eyed imp of mine smiled at me when I told her that I didn’t think you really share them and told me that even though she doesn’t need one now she probably knows more about it because she is a girl and I am not.

I looked at her and reminded her I am not her brother and that sort of talk isn’t going to work on me. She pretended not to understand what I was saying and I asked her not to try to intentionally aggravate us.

5 More Songs

Folsom Prison- Johnny Cash
Okie From Muskogee- Merle Haggard
Guitars, Cadillacs- Dwight Yoakam
Don’t Fear The Reaper- Blue Oyster Cult (I Need More Cowbell!)
Bat Out Of Hell- Meatloaf

Time is flying but summer is here and it will be another hour at least before sundown leads to the endless summer nights I loved as a youth.

For a moment I think about a girl slipping her hand into mine and walking under a moonlit beach knowing that my future was open and unlimited.

Someone jumps in the pool and a splash of water makes me focus again upon the present.

Life in transition isn’t such a bad thing and things are much better than they have been in a long time but what I recognize about the moment is I still feel like I am carrying the majority of the weight on my shoulders and it is not on my terms.

This might be the oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling moment for me. You can translate that as your flight crew instructs you to put your mask on first before taking care of those around you.

You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

I don’t know exactly where this is leading but I can see a moment when I’ll sit the children down and have another conversation they might like but if it goes as I expect it will be a good thing for everyone.

Part of the joy of life is in the journey and most of the time mine has been a pretty good one.

How about you?

Content Marketers Dance Naked With Feather Boas

Grand Canyon
You can blame Sprint for the headline because if they can get away with these ridiculous ads with hamsters, dancing girl scouts and framilies I can write about content marketers dancing naked with feather boas.

In a writer’s life there are good editors and there are bad editors and then there is this memory from about 25 years ago:

I asked the guy to open his mouth and when he asked why I said it was because I heard an echo coming from his throat and I wanted to confirm that his little friend had his head shoved so far up his ass I would be able to see his eyes looking back at mine.

As a public safety tip you should know the remark above is not supported by Dale Carnegie as a way to win friends and or influence people.

However if you wanted to find out if you can throw a right cross and or take a shot to the gut it might be one way you can get the answers to your questions.

Hell if you are like me and you keep hearing these songs playing in your head you might want to tell people you know things because the best way to prove what you know is to show it.

The FitBit And A Writer

I ordered a Fitbit® Flex™ Wireless Activity & Sleep Wristband today.

Got to tell you I agonized over it a bit because I couldn’t decide if I was buying an expensive pedometer but I figured it is worth trying out.

The guys I normally play basketball with seem to have disappeared and for the moment I don’t belong to a gym so I need to find a way to increase the amount of exercise I am getting and to be more mindful about how much I am eating.

You long time readers know that my 19 year-old metabolism and I had a fight and that bastard left me so I am stuck with this 45 year-old one whose superpower is to enable me to eat 24 hours a day without feeling full.

Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration but the reality is that sitting at the computer all day isn’t healthy and I can’t get a treadmill desk right now.

And I can’t afford to wait or come up with excuses for why I don’t do more so I decided that this little sucker might help me add a bit of structure to my diet and exercise and just maybe that will be the trick.

What I need more than anything else is to see some results because I am always good about responding to that. What I am less good at is starting.

It is that whole inertia thing.

Time to start rocking that boulder back and forth so we can get things moving again.

Content Marketers, Dad Bloggers and Exercise In General

Have I mentioned recently I dislike the term content marketer because it is meaningless marketing jargon?

Or should I talk about trying to stuff some keywords like dad bloggers into this post? Maybe I should mention the importance of exercise because it makes you feel better and when you feel better you are nicer, more productive and less likely to suddenly drop dead.

Yeah, that ending was harsh. Blame it on Sprint’s talking hamster. Stupid rodent.

Ask me about content marketing and I’ll tell you about storytelling because that is really what we are talking about. Storytelling is what humans have used for our entire existence to build relationships and move people.

When you want me to buy something for my teenage son the best way to motivate me is to use a story I can relate to that shows me how your product/service would be good for my son.

If you want to make me cry you’ll show me what tuition costs for camp and college. And then you you’ll understand better why most of my hair has fallen out.

Blogging Isn’t Supposed To Be Complicated

Blogging isn’t as complicated as some people make it out to be. You could fill the Grand Canyon with the excuses and reasons people provide but the reality is that people over think things.

Just ask my dear Shmata Queen and she’ll tell you this game isn’t hard to win at. Tell stories, engage, rinse and repeat.

And now if you will excuse me the kids are home from camp and it is time to go. See you in the comment section.