Archives for November 2015

The Walking Dead Of Blogging

It has been more than a dozen years since I spent Thanksgiving with my grandparents not because they weren’t invited or failed to show but because they are all gone now.

Every one of them has moved onto wherever it is we go when we slip the bonds that lock us to this place we call earth.

The last of them to move on was my maternal grandfather.

“Grandpa, I have to leave,” I said. I bent over and told him again that I loved him and that if he wanted to let go it was ok with me. This time I just couldn’t say goodbye, so instead I said “so long” and walked out of the room. Six hours later he was gone, but in my eyes he died a hero.

Grandpa didn’t die of old age, but of a broken heart.

He and grandma were married for more than 75 years and once grandma died we wondered how long he would choose to stick around.

Eighteen months was enough for him. Eighteen months after grandma died he let go too and with that all of the generations moved up a notch.

I’m tempted to say suddenly my folks and their cousins were the old guys and the keepers of family lore but it is not true.

It wasn’t sudden nor were they entrusted as the sole arbiters of truth about our family but it felt like it.

Not really sure why, maybe because I was lucky to enter into my forties with multiple grandparents or maybe it was just because I was very close with them.

And because I became a blogger I have been able to record my own thoughts and feelings about my grandparents and the family in general.

Hell, sometimes I even write them letters here.

I am not who I was when you died. Too much has happened but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Changes come and we do our best to roll with them. Just know that you are missed and loved. And when I punch out a boy or two for trying to date your great granddaughter I’ll tell them that you helped teach me how to throw a punch. Something tells me that would make you smile. I love you grandpa, got to run now and play dad for a while.

The Walking Dead Of Blogging

A while back my kids and I had a long talk about death and dying.  We covered the obvious questions about what happens during and after and then talked about memories.

I told them that memories are what keep people from dying a complete death, meaning that as long as we had some memories to keep in our hearts no one was ever completely gone.

And in the time that has passed since the first conversation we have had reason to revisit and discussed it in more detail.

They told me they weren’t sure if they believed in any sort of afterlife and I told them they would make those choices themselves and that what they believed now might not be what they believe later.

When they asked for my thoughts I told them they have evolved and that I wouldn’t be surprised if they did again.

Experiences impact and change us, who we are today may not be who we are tomorrow.
Useful painI am not sure if I was familiar with the expression above before I saw/heard it on The Walking Dead, but that doesn’t change how much I like it.

There is something reassuring in looking at the harder experiences of our lives as having some sort of positive benefit.

Can’t say that it is applicable to all of the bad moments but I know that I would rather look for a positive spin.

Why give more power to negative energy if we don’t have to.

My daughter wants to know if I ever blogged about daddy/daughter day so that she can confirm that it meets with her approval.

I tell her that I have blogged about almost everything at some point or another and ask if she really wants to try to rewrite history.

When she asks me what that means I tell her sometimes people want to edit what we did or said in the past but that we don’t get to go back to do it.

“Dad, do you have to turn everything into a teaching moment?”

I smile and ask her if she really believes that to be true and she laughs and says no.

Our conversation is interrupted by a ringtone and she waves goodbye at me, “Kim wants to Facetime, I have to go now.”

I watch her walk back into her bedroom, the sound of the door closing reminding me of the days when I was a teenager who wanted privacy.

It feels like yesterday but the mirror and my kids prove it wasn’t.

One Door Closes & Another Opens

Mere moments later her door opens again, “Dad, why are you standing outside my door. I want to have a private conversation.”

This time I am responsible for the eye rolling. I don’t tell her I was lost in thought about my life and wasn’t paying attention to her conversation.

As I wander back towards the computer I wonder if her request for privacy should concern me or not. Chances are it is innocuous and nothing I need to be worried about, but I stop to think about it all again.

Where should I draw the lines and how involved should I be with my kids’ and their electronics.

If my grandparents were still around we probably would have talked about it at Thanksgiving, hell we would have talked about everything that is going on now and at least one of them would have called it mishegoss.

But they aren’t here, so we didn’t. That is ok, it is a natural progression, but sometimes miss having them around.

A Double Dose of Humble Pie

I cannot confirm nor deny that I said something to the effect of “shouldn’t you be fighting 23 people for a Tickle Me Elmo doll at the local Walmart” to another father.

Earlier this year one of his kids made a comment about a player on the other team that horrified me. I was certain this father would say something to his son about why it was wrong but he just smiled and laughed.

And then I realized the man I have known for years now is not the person I thought he was.

In less than five minutes he proved to me that he is nothing like the guy I expected him to be. It is not the first time I have been fooled or misjudged someone, but this one really bothered me

A Sad Teaching Moment

After the kid made this awful comment I looked around to see how many people had heard it and realized only a few had so I held my tongue because I didn’t see the upside in yelling at a teenager who wasn’t mine.

Not because I wanted to brush it off but because I thought it would be taken out of context and that it might lead to a big argument with other parents that would have nothing to do with what the kid had said.

Instead I took my kids aside and repeated the comment this boy made and told them they were not to just smile and laugh at that kind of thing.

They asked me why I was angry when they hadn’t laughed or encouraged this other boy and I told them why I was and explained I was frustrated because I felt like in that situation I had to let it go.

But I also told them  I had told the other father that I thought I heard his kid say something off color that wasn’t cool.

The net result was a sad teaching moment.

awakeningsThere is a post called Something Deep Inside Of You that I came across in my stats.

I wrote it sometime in 2014 during a moment of great change in my life and hadn’t thought twice about it until it showed up in the stats.

Bells went off inside my head when I read it and thought about what I have done, where I have been and where I am trying to go.

It was almost like Robert Frost climbed into my head and screamed “how many times must it happen before you acknowledge it.”

The it doesn’t matter to me as much as the reminder that I can’t always do everything in my own time and my own way.

It reminded me that sometimes shit happens and you need to deal with it on the spot.

That is part of why when I ran into the father from the story above today I made a point to listen very carefully to what he said so that if an opportunity presented itself I could say a few things I felt he needed to hear.

One of those was to let him know if I heard his kid act like a little prick again in front of the others I wouldn’t hesitate to call him out in public.

He told me that was a bad idea and I said it an even worse one would be to challenge me on this account because I am not afraid of him or making a scene and I won’t have my kids see me ignore that kind of crap.

When he stood up and told me he was going to make me reconsider I told him to stay seated and walked away.

Not because I was afraid of him but because I was afraid of really losing my temper.

A Double Dose of Humble Pie

It would have been nice if I could have served him a double dose of humble pie and been confident that it was ingested in a painful yet educational manner, but life isn’t a movie.

I don’t claim to be a paragon of virtue or run around saying I am the arbiter of morality and ethics. If you conducted a study of my background you might find some red in my ledger but we all have our lines and limits.

And the kind of father and person I am and want to be won’t accept the shit that guy is shoveling.

It is why I look at that Robert Frost quote and ask myself how many times certain things can happen before I say that coincidence isn’t an explanation for these events.

In spite of what some salesmen might say, I am open to new ideas and opportunities.

Sometimes it is the only way to catch a breath of fresh air.

What Kind Of Man Runs Away?

As I walked away I heard him make a couple of cracks about me and wondered whether turning around would make it better or worse.

Wondered if walking away sent a message of strength and conviction or weakness.

Ultimately I went with my gut because sometimes you know things and you need to follow what you know.

Still there was a moment where I thought about walking back over and dumping him out of his chair so that I could stick a knee in his chest and ask him if he wanted to reconsider the promises he was making.

I guess it really was Black Friday.

 

Break The Rules Of Blogging & Other Stuff

Someone asked me to share an example of breaking a rule and I told them about the time I had sex with three nuns and the rabbi’s twin daughters.

For a moment they did nothing but gawk and then they asked me how I convinced the rabbi’s twin daughters to share carnal knowledge.

I couldn’t decide if I was more surprised by their not having asked me about the nuns or the fact they actually believed such a ridiculous story.

Although if you believe some of the stories the boys who went to Catholic school tell it might not be so crazy to talk about the nuns that way, after all they weren’t always married to G-d.

A while back I made the Shmata Queen see G-d, at least that is how I interpret the screaming. It is possible she sees it differently because there is that whole Men are from Mars and Women are freaking nuts thing going on here.

I should add as a public safety note to men that most women don’t like being called crazy, told to relax or described as being hysterical.

But every now and then you’ll find one who says they are crazy. I can’t decide whether to be scared or turned on.

Anyhoo, let’s dig into the heart of the matter.

Break The Rules Of Blogging & Other Stuff

The experts in blogging say you must be focused when you write and that you should never publish unless you have something to say.

They say every post should have meaning, reason and more. They say every post should either educate, entertain and or inform.

I don’t pay much attention to those people. I don’t spend time worrying about whether my posts are informative, educational and or entertaining because I figure as long as I put some of myself into them they will always resonate with someone.

Someone will read my words and nod their heads because they agree or they’ll shake their fist in rage and wonder what is wrong with me.

Either is fine because it means these words had an impact. Ambivalence is the enemy of a writer.

And the only way you become a better writer is by writing on a regular basis. You don’t improve by sitting on your hands and or fearing to publish your words because people might not like them.

breakrulesJack’s A Rule Breaker

A thousand years ago when I was a wee lad in college I pledged a fraternity. About a week before initiation one of the actives told me that he had seen all of the other guys change but I was the one guy who really hadn’t.

“Jack, you keep doing things your way. I don’t know if that it always a good thing, but you do it the way you do it.”

It is a fair assessment, I am a rule breaker. I am a guy who often does things his way.

It makes some people crazy because I’ll ask for advice and then go do whatever it was I asked about my way anyhow.

When I became a father I thought about that a lot and wondered how it might impact my parenting. I thought about it and wondered if it would make me a better father or a worse one.

And then I went and did things my way, more or less because it is who I am.

But things happened in my life and I decided to take another look at things.

Schwarzenegger, The Dalai Lama & Being a Dad

I don’t think I could have envisioned a time where I would talk about how I could or would quote Ahnold and The Dalai Lama in discussions with my kids.

They have seen the video below a couple of times. My daughter’s first response  was to tell me my arms were big enough and I didn’t need to get that big.

I told her she was missing the point of the video and that I wanted her to listen carefully.

When she started listening more carefully I made sure she understood that what I wanted her to take from this was the willingness not to fear failure, the belief in herself and the understanding that you have to work hard.

I don’t worry about how many readers I have or don’t have. I don’t wonder if I am going to get a book deal because I was discovered.

I just do my thing. It would be nice if I had more readers and if I got that book deal, but it doesn’t happen because you worry or think about it.

It happens because you build a foundation and work hard.

I have had my heart broken more than once. It was never enjoyable but it helped me figure out what I wanted and what I didn’t.

More importantly it helped me understand what I need.

If you don’t know the difference between what you need and what you want life can be much more difficult. Once you know the answers to those questions you can build your roadmap and work like hell to get what you are looking for.

A Final Thought

One last thing courtesy of my good friend Pablo.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
― Pablo Picasso

Some Bloggers Use This Trick

Sometimes the hardest part of blogging is finding time to write. When I get jammed up and grow concerned I won’t be able to produce new content I pull out old content and share it again.

Sometimes I rerun an entire post and sometimes I provide links to old posts like I did below:

It is a cross section of some recent and older posts that I can guarantee not everyone has read. Often when I do this I’ll also encourage people to take a look at the About Jack page.

Why?

Because it provides more links and information about who I am and what this blog is about my stats show it is a popular page for new readers.

It also serves as a reminder to me to check out the page and make sure it is up to date.

And with that I have to run, but I intend to come back later tonight to provide fresh content. See you in 12 hours.

The Winter Of A Blogger’s Discontent

Am I a bad man for saying every time I hear Justin Bieber talk I want to shake and slap some sense into him. Maybe it is because he comes across as an entitled prick or maybe it is because I can be a crotchety old man.

Or maybe it is because he is an entitled prick and I am a crotchety old man who feels like the kid hasn’t had any decent parenting so I think I can help with a quick attitude adjustment.

Not so much by kicking his ass but by taking away his money and forcing him to do manual labor in some third world village where he is not a famous man, but some white guy no one has ever heard of.

The primary problem is that it would probably end up becoming a reality television show and I’d get pissed off because someone would make lots of money off of it and it wouldn’t be me.

The Winter Of A Dad Blogger’s Discontent

I surprised myself with some of the content in There’s Gold In Blogging & Other BS… because I opened up in a way I hadn’t expected to. Don’t know if it is evident to anyone but me, but that is ok.

Ok because it showed me that I really have come farther than I realized and that I must be feeling a little less irked about some of the crap I went through. It was hard, really hard and when I look back at some of the things that happened in part of 2013 and ’14 I just shake my head in wonder.

Some people showed their colors leaving me to ask if those were/are true or just related to their own storms, don’t really know and am not particularly worried about it.

That is because there are some things I give to faith and say they will come or they won’t.

Learnfrom pastA colleague recently asked me if I was relentless or exhausting and I told them that in some areas I am exhaustingly relentless but only if the situation requires it.

When they asked me what it meant I smiled and said not to worry about it.

“I think you owe me a real answer.”

I just laughed and told them not to hurt themselves thinking. When they told me they thought I was being uncool I looked him in the eye and said what was uncool was his expectation he could only take and never give.

“Now you are just being a dick.”

“No, I am planting seeds for the future. That is how smart people work, they plant seeds and do their best to be good stewards of the land they are tending to.

Lessons Learned & Lessons Shared

Steiner the minor, the teenage boy who can almost share some of my clothes and I have regular conversations about life.

I have many with his sister too, but they tend to be of a different nature. Some of it is because she says she needs her mom for girl talk and I am just not a girl.

As long as she keeps talking to me about important things I am cool with her bouncing more things off of mom because there are some things I’ll never understand quite the same way.

And that is why the not so little boy anymore comes to me with certain questions. I do my best to share the lessons I have learned along the way but the truly hard stuff is hard because it is usually stuff you have to figure out on your own.

The experiences that break your heart, be they love affairs or business deals gone sour aren’t created in such a way that you can provide step-by-step directions through.

All you can do is listen, be supportive and try to help them understand you know more about it than they realize and that you survived whatever it is/was.

That is part of what I love about these quotes I sometimes share with you here because I can share them with the children too and have discussions we might not otherwise have.

I tell them that so much in life is predicated upon hard work and what you put in intermixed with luck/karma/fate or whatever else it is you want to call it.

Speaking Of Faith

I have been wrestling with it for years, trying to figure out how much is based upon stuff we can control, things we can’t and all that lies in between it.

For the past few weeks I have had something playing around in the back of my mind, some subconscious message or thought that I have tried to flesh out by writing here or here but I haven’t quite worked out what I am supposed to think or take from it.

What I keep hearing is the voice at the end of the Star Wars trailer that say “let it in.”

Intermixed with it is a sense that if I start the right exercise, take the right path or do this one thing I am going to move from where I am at to somewhere else.

When I close my eyes and let my mind loose I see myself at my age but with the body I used to have and some peace of mind I haven’t had for a while.

I figure it is all going to happen because of seeds I planted and the effort I put in to be a good steward of the land.

The big trick here doesn’t lie in figuring out how it happened or why but just allowing for the possibility.

It might be as simple as recognizing I have been in my own way or it might be something else. The point isn’t to push to make it happen it is to just water the flowers and see they get plenty of sunlight and live not just with purpose, but with joy because two is always stronger than one.