Archives for August 2015

How Many Times Can You Break A Heart?

It is the question you knew or know is/was coming from your kid or your nieces/nephews but knowing is far different from answering.

That is because the experience is different for different people and the depth is rarely if ever the same. People like to say that your first heartbreak is the hardest but it is not always true because the way you love and are loved by that other person isn’t always the same.

People like to say that your first heartbreak is the hardest but it is not always true because the way you love and are loved by that other person isn’t always the same.



Sometimes you get lucky and find someone who truly completes you and sometimes it is qualified by words like mostly or almost.

The mostly and almost loves are just as real as the truly but the parts and pieces that prevent them from being the same also tend to keep the heartbreak from hitting that same depth of ache and loneliness.

How Many Times Can You Break A Heart?

The question caught me off guard because I didn’t expect it to come from the girl who used to sit on my lap and ask me to read her stories, at least not yet.

I didn’t expect her to ask because she had asked how many girlfriends I had besides mom and I said 10,000. She had rolled her eyes and told me to give her a serious answer and I said maybe six or seven.

She had a couple of follow-up questions but none were particularly detailed and most were in regard to how old I was when I started dating or first kissed a girl.

The big follow-up came days later and since I was lost in thought about other things it took a moment to register.

I said I thought it was maybe five times and she asked if that meant it was five different girls and I told her it didn’t.

“Dad, did someone break your heart more than once?”

I just smiled and shook my head yes.

“Why did they do that?”

“I don’t think they meant to, it just sort of happened that way. Sometimes good intentions go bad.”

She scrunched up her face and I could tell she was thinking about it.

“Someday I might have to punch a few boys in the nose.”

She shook her head and said no.

“I might be the one who breaks their heart and even if I am not. I’ll be able to take care of it on my own.”

I might be the one who breaks their heart and even if I am not. I'll be able to take care of it on my own.Click To Tweet

I smiled and told her I was certain she would be able to take care of whatever she encountered and reminded her that sometimes it is not just ok, but important to ask for help.

“You don’t always have to carry the load on your own.”

“Dad, you never ask for help, why should I?”

I smiled again and told her that just because she had never heard me ask for help didn’t mean that there weren’t times I had.

Maybe I ought to blame middle school or Disney TV for this line or maybe I ought to just accept that some questions come no matter what we do.

The part that bothers me more than anything else is the question is proof that time is moving faster than I want it to, the kids are getting bigger at breakneck speed.

What Advice Should I Give?

The interpersonal issues that are cropping up now are far more challenging than the ones they used to lob at me. There is less talk about how to share and more about what not to share and with whom it is ok.

That is the influence of social media and the conversation that has to take place because kids don’t always recognize what could happen if they post certain things online.

But it is also trying to deal with and explain who is being friendly and genuine and who is a snake. Some kids at school smile while they stab you in the back, same as adults can and do.

People can be great and they can be awful.

It is hard sometimes helping the kids navigate these things because you have to let them figure it out on their own. You have to give them the chance to learn so they can do it without you and you do so knowing that means that some people are going to be awful to them.

It is not easy and it sucks, but it is necessary.

The heart wants what it wants and I know one day the kids will learn firsthand what it means from this angle too, but you’ll forgive me if I say I hope it takes a while for them to learn that particular lesson.

Saturday Night Laundry Service

Ever wonder who invented the Spork or why?

It is not quite a spoon and not a fork but much, much more than that, at least in concept. Sometimes I wonder if my blog is like a Spork, an attempt to be all things to all people.

This place isn’t your niche blog about parenting, blogging or social media, it is a multipurpose resource that anyone can benefit from.

Pretty nifty, but if the talking heads are to be believed that lack of laser focus is hurting my ability to retain readers or so they say.

I am not so sure it is the lack of focus but the focus on cutlery that might be hurting me, but who knows. I write as I write and follow my curiosity where it will take me.

That is because I am the guy who looks at pictures like the one above and wonders who developed the fork and what sort of research they did to lead towards the design above.

How much of it is based upon aesthetics and how much upon engineering? Why aren’t the tines sharper? Are they worried about people stabbing themselves?

Music Break

  • Pour Some Sugar On Me– Def Leppard
  • Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’– Journey
  • Separate Ways– Journey
  • Ain’t Back Yet- Kenny Chesney
  • Close My Eyes Forever- Lita Ford & Ozzy Osborne
  • I Need You Now– Lady Antebellum
  • Reminiscing- Little River Band

Saturday Night Laundry Service

Midnight isn’t all that far away and I am thinking back upon a week in which my day started before 6 AM and ended somewhere around midnight.

Busy days, business meetings and heavy efforts to learn, lead and move things in a direction that will yield bigger rewards and create a better foundation for the future.

Every night consists of entertainment and more alcohol than I have had in many years. Never allowed myself to reach a point where I wasn’t in control but there are moments where a large glass filled with Jagermeister and Red Bull remind me of the fraternity life I once led.

The suitcase is  almost empty and I wish for a Saturday night laundry service to take care of the giant pile that lies upon my floor, but I won’t pay for such a thing and the genie left my bottle long ago so there are no wishes to be used upon it.

My phone buzzes and I see an email chain about the week that was and am reminded of a conversation with a younger colleague. He asks for some advice and I tell him that the open bar is a trap that he should avoid and ask him if he really was born in 1985.

I am not old, not even close to it but when guys like him talk about being 30 I have to concede that I might be closer to middle age than I like to think about.

Still, I am not yet 47 and everyone knows that 47 is pretty damn old. 🙂

Too Busy To Write As I Like To Write

Whenever people ask me for advice on writing I tell them to follow the standard read a lot, write a lot mix. Writing is a skill and skills are things that you can improve upon with practice.

Don’t believe me? Ask my kids and they’ll tell you I talk about this with great frequency.

This last week placed me the sort of bind in which I felt like I wasn’t living up to my side of the bargain. I can’t remember the last time I went this long between updating the mighty JackB but that doesn’t mean I didn’t write.

I was just too busy to write as I like and instead I had to pivot and adjust. I still wrote, but not as I like to write.

Did He Steal My Story?Click To Tweet

Old man Steiner gave me a book to read that he thought was quite good. I started it today and immediately wondered if the author has read any of my fiction because it sounded quite familiar.

None of it was exactly what I have written but it felt close enough for me to wonder and reminded me that while we wait for the right time to take action someone else already has.

I can’t say for certain this man took any of this book from me or that I haven’t been inspired by words written by others too.

Can’t say that someone might not read my words and wonder if they waited to long to write their story because I already wrote it.

All I can say is that I don’t want to live like Nike and Just Do It.

I want to just have done it, especially my laundry.

I Used To Like Flying


Headphones cover my ears so that John, Paul, George and Ringo can sing about places they remember and memories that lose their meanings but I am trying not to pay attention.

It is one of those songs that sometimes catches me off guard and sends me on journeys to places best left undisturbed because it is neither the time nor place to think of them.

Besides I have to deal with the sort of mile-long to-do list that I hate because it is too big to be completed and filled with too many things to just ignore.

That is the problem with the moments that lead up to a trip, there is always crap that needs to be done so that you can leave with a clear conscience and complete focus on where you are going and what you intend to do when you get there.

It is funny to me to think this way because for the longest time I was really good at just letting go of the crap and going with the flow, but somewhere in the recent past something changed.

I Used To Like Flying

I used to love to fly. It was always an adventure and I took enormous pleasure in traveling by plane.

I never took it for granted, it was magical and every time I went up I wished I had my own wings or at least my own airplane.

But some of that changed, can’t say precisely when but I’ll wager it was after 9-11 when  flying turned into a task.

Yeah, that is probably when it happened, not precisely upon that date but somewhere in the days that followed. Somewhere during fewer flights, more crowded planes and waiting in long lines at security checks.

To my kids this is how it has always been, they have no memories of the joy of surprising someone or being surprised by someone at the gate.

They don’t share my memories of business trips where I showed up 30 minutes before the flight, waltzed through the airport and walked onto a plane with a hanging bag and some food for the flight.


I suppose it is worth noting I have had a few flights during the past few years in which the turbulence moved from kind of fun to “oh fuck, please stop flinging us around like the pieces in a Cracker Jack box.”

There is not much joy in listening to people cry from fear and to start wondering if the pilots think of these moment as an ordinary day at the office or something serious and troubling.

Don’t misunderstand my gratitude for the calm demeanor the captain always assumes when he explains why he is not turning off the “seat belt” sign.

In situations that are outside of my control I usually prefer to enjoy blissful ignorance. Though if you gave me the choice of trying to fly/land the plane instead of crash I would take the damn controls and make like Ted Striker.

Though if you gave me the choice of trying to fly/land the plane instead of crash I would take the damn controls and make like Ted Striker.Click To Tweet

I suppose some people say that makes it sound like I have a control issue but I prefer to see it as a willingness to make hard decisions and do what needs to be done.

That is part of why I still get on planes because even though I am nervous and my sometimes overactive imagination prepares multiple scenarios for the crazy shit that can happen I won’t let it control my ability to live my life.

Don’t know if this sounds ridiculous to you, kind of does to me but we all live with our own narishkeit. I am the guy whose nervous stomach and dysfunctional digestive system sometimes worries about having access to a restroom and the one who would fight a hijacker.

Point-of-information, I don’t want to experience problems with either. Got no need to find out what I would really do or not do.

Flying Tin Cans

Ask me to tell you my biggest issue with flying and more than anything else it comes down to the horrible seats and uncomfortable seating arrangements.

I am just tall and broad enough for my legs to hit the seat in front and my shoulder to hang off the edge of the chair. Every flight I take I know there is a good chance that a cart will smack into me and that my fellow passengers will use my shoulder to support their walk to and fro.

This time around I am especially lucky because I got stuck with a middle seat and won’t know if I can change it until I get to the airport.

Ok, that is not entirely true. I can give the airline most of a C-Note to provide for my comfort, but I hate the idea of doing that on anything that is not an international flight.

But in spite of it all, there is a part of me that is excited again to leave the earth and fly through the blue above. Some magic will never be completely exhausted.

The Joy Of A Broken Blog

Stories that are never written might as well be dead.

Stories that are never written might as well be dead.

The most frustrating moments as a writer aren’t limited to feeling the pain of not being to tell the story you want to tell because the words won’t work with you.

Sometimes they come because the tools you use to tell your tales decide to bend you over from behind and violate you in the most intimate way possible.

That won’t make sense to some of you because you don’t understand that writing is like breathing to some of us and what could be more intimate than breathing.

The Joy Of A Broken Blog

You might wonder if I am being sarcastic or snarky but I am not because there is joy in a broken blog but you rarely experience it until you figure out how to fix what is broken.

The blog is like a lover and when you fix what was broken sometimes it almost feels like great makeup sex and you can’t help but float on air.

Ok, makeup sex might not be the right comparison, but the point is there is real pleasure in figuring out how to make it work again or at least I always think so.

But the pain of trying to figure it out can be substantial because the blog is often the epitome of the angry partner who refuses to speak.

It won’t always tell you what is wrong. You won’t always know if plugins don’t work or if your database has decided to flip you the bird so you have to start hunting around, digging in the dirt, begging it to share something with you.

and what could be more intimate than breathing.Click To Tweet

I thought that 69 Shades Of Grey was the kind of post that would generate some comments. I thought it was pretty good and that it was representative of a form of writing I don’t get to do much anymore.

When your kids reach a certain age the boundaries of blogging kick in and you have to be more careful about the stories you share but that one, well I felt ok about it.

Felt like it needed to be memorialized because that is part of what the blog is about, it is supposed to be a chronicle of our lives.

But I didn’t see many comments and then I received some emails from people who said they had trouble commenting and so I made time to visit it and determined that particular post loaded properly but wouldn’t accept comments.

I don’t know why there was a mutiny, just that there was and that it didn’t affect the other posts I checked.

Spent some time trying to sort and suss it out so that it would work again but I just don’t have the time to get it going the way I want to.

Got one day left before the Traveling Jack show takes off and I have to pack and prepare. Don’t know if I am going to be able to update from the road or if I am going to just leave it be for a while or not.

In the interim I am just praying to the gods of blogging to be good to me and asking my blog to forgive whatever I have done wrong.

I’ll Just Go Find Another

And in a confession or PSA I’ll suggest that when you have a fight with your spouse/partner/lover that you not tell them that since they are being so damn difficult you’ll just go find another because it rarely serves you well.

Not that I really know anything about this…

Good things that blogs aren’t thinking, feeling creatures.

69 Shades Of Grey

There is a teenager down the hall who told me today that he intends to win our bet.

It is a friendly wager between father and son, “$40 bucks says he’ll kiss a girl by the time he is 20.”

Part of me wonders if sharing this online will lead to a wave of criticism from people who take issue with it.

Ask me why and I’ll tell you it is because Facebook often feels like a seething pool of people who are anxiously searching for things to be outraged about.

But People Don’t Have To Approve Of You and I don’t care if they like it or not because the real purpose of sharing it here is because the blog is supposed to help chronicle the moments and minutes in the lives of my children.

That bet came from a couple of conversations in which my son asked me about my dating history and time with girls prior to his mother.

It was really a tongue-in-cheek response to his saying that girls are a pain-in-the-ass and he would never want to have a girlfriend.

Hormones Change Everything

When I made the bet I told him that nature has a way of influencing our behavior and that if you looked at things from a scientific method it made sense that there would be tools and resources nature could and would use to ensure the propagation of the species.

But the most important part of the bet is the conversation because what I want is for him to feel comfortable to speak with me about anything.

Hormones and puberty change things.

There was a time when I couldn’t go anywhere without him wanting to be my shadow but that doesn’t happen the way it used to.

It is not because I have tried to stop it but because the teenage boy isn’t interested in hanging out with dad the same way he used to be.

He spends large chunks of time alone in his room and I am cool with that because I remember being the same way.

I remember feeling torn about talking to my father about things that were really important to me because I thought I was supposed to handle some of that stuff on my own.

It wasn’t because dad pushed me away but because I wanted to prove I was old enough to take care of myself. It was because I created the space and wasn’t always sure how to bridge the gap.

The kid doesn’t believe I was really a teenage boy anymore than I believed that my dad was. Sure we both knew that it must have happened but it was easier to believe that things/are so different now dad just won’t understand.

It is a learning and growing experience for both of us. I know him well, but even so I can’t always predict what will make him smile and what will make him groan.

69 Shades Of Grey

I can’t tell you when he found out the 50 shades series wasn’t about colors but I know he cringed when he discovered it was on his mother’s kindle.

Hell, I sort of cringed when I found out my own mother had read those books. I know damn well she had her experiences before and after I was born but I prefer not to think about it.

Anyway, one day that big boy of mine overhears a conversation in which I shared the year of my birth. I don’t remember why it came up but I remember how he said, “dad you were born in ’69” and then blanched a little bit.

For a moment I was irritated about the loss of innocence and then I thought about it and realized that by the time I was 13 I knew what ’69 referred to and he is almost 15.

It is not a horrible thing for him to know and if you compare it to some of the stories in the news I’d rather he be aware of ’69 than child molesters and terrorists who behead, crucify and burn people to death.

I can't tell you when he found out the 50 shades series wasn't about colorsClick To Tweet

My oldest nephew isn’t all that much older than my son. He has already had a couple of girlfriends and I have a good laugh listening to my little sister complain that some stupid girl has got her son twisted up.

I get it, we never want to see our children get hurt.

Truth is I don’t care when my son has his first kiss. There is no particular rush here I just hope it is a good experience.

Part of me is excited because some of the experiences he has in front of him are simply awesome. Some of them can be amazing and even life changing.

But some of them can be very hard and painful too.

There is no good without bad and no bad without good.

My job is to help him navigate them and grow into a man who is a capable and productive member of society.

Flip through the pages and posts here and you’ll see my philosophy hasn’t changed. Can’t wrap the kids in bubble wrap or stop them from getting hurt, but we can give them the tools to manage their lives.

One More Comment

Sometimes the strangest part of it all is realizing that I am old enough to have a kid his age and that the bulk of “child rearing” has taken place already.

There is a still a healthy chunk of road to go, but hell he is closer to college than to kindergarten which means I am that much closer to not being able to say that middle age is a few years off.

Thanks for aging me kid. 😉