Archives for January 2016

Lessons Of The Blog Fathers

Those of us who pay attention to the lessons of the blog fathers start posts with strong headlines and a lead that hooks the reader from the start.

They’ll tell you to talk about the birth of a murderer, write posts asking people how they became who they are and or talk about coming Full Circle.

It makes sense to me. I understand why they push us to follow their advice.

Waves of content and communication are constantly slamming into us and that makes it harder to get people to click, read and comment.

But if you know me well, you know I tell you to do as I say and not as I do because I take the road less traveled.

I stopped asking why I have a knack for doing things the hard way or how if I pick a card I almost always find the Joker in the deck because the reasons don’t matter.

When you march to the beat of a different drummer who has no rhythm you learn to operate using a different skill set.

educationandschooling

Steiner the minor asked me today if there is any way I could buy my parent’s house because he doesn’t want them to move and thinks the house should remain in the family.

I told him I understood his concern and we spoke a bit about the Echoes Of The People We Miss and then I reminded him that the reason ordinary things become extraordinary is because of the memories we attach to them.

My father overheard our conversation and spent a few minutes talking as a grandfather to his grandson and then he and I moved off into a corner and had a real talk. 

That’s not to say he was dishonest with his grandson because he wasn’t, but he is 15 and I am not.

Dad doesn’t sugar coat his thoughts or hide his feelings with me. I know exactly what he thinks and feels,

I don’t hold back with him either.

So we stood in the middle of the new home my mother and he are moving into and jumped right into it.

“What do you think of the new place?”

“I think it is great, but I don’t think you understand how many times you are going to walk up and down these stairs. Won’t hurt to get more exercise and if it doesn’t work, you can move again.”

“I don’t plan on moving again for another five or ten years. This probably won’t be the last place we live, but it will be fun. Mom & I have never lived in a place like this.”

“People plan and G-d laughs. I didn’t expect to lose my house, move to Texas or engage in any of the other shit of the last however long it’s been. That’s probably part of why I am so detached to so many things. I can walk away from almost all of it.”

“School doesn’t prepare you for life, it just helps you obtain some of the tools and skills you need to help you manage what comes along.”

I nodded at my father and smiled.

“Use it in good health Abba, I love the mountains and this area. You know I have thought about living out here many times.”

Questions With No Answers

Times like now make me miss my grandparents because I am curious to see if any of them relate to some of the things I am feeling now.

The place I am living in now isn’t home.

Doesn’t matter that I have been here for a couple of years now because I know this is a temporary rest stop, a place to hang my hat and get some occasional shut eye but nothing more than that.

My parents moved multiple times when they were kids which is why they worked hard to make sure that never happened to my sisters and I.

I hadn’t intended to provide anything different for my children than my experience, but you already know that doesn’t matter.

So in my state of perpetual transition I have managed to keep them feeling pretty grounded and am confident they are well adjusted.

But that doesn’t mean I am not interested in being able to say we have found a place where we’ll be for a long while, if not the long haul because I am.

I am pretty sure I know how my grandfathers would answer my questions. I know if I told them how having been burnt a few times has made me more guarded they would be concerned and maybe even disappointed.

But I’d remind them I am built for doing what needs to be done and for dancing in the fire.

I’d tell them I haven’t any doubt there will be a time when I am willing to be open in the manner they hope and that the right person will help with it.

And maybe I’d point them to some of the posts linked here and some others that I haven’t.

Not just to illustrate my point but because it fits with the lessons of our blog fathers.

Readers Discover & Writers Enlighten

I’d do these things because when readers discover they look for more to read and when writers enlighten readers tend to keep reading.

That is not just theory but proven fact.

I discovered it long before life stopped cooperating with blogging not to mention before I encountered The Dumbest Mother You Ever Met.

If all goes as the blog fathers say at least a few of you will click through to read some of those old posts and a few more will decide to leave a comment or two and or become regular readers here.

Remind me to tell you about how I found out an old high school friend lives in Texas and apparently was living not to far from me when I lived there.

And when you do I’ll ask you to share your thoughts about whether life is filled with coincidence or destiny.

Remind me and maybe I’ll tell you why I know there is something more than coincidence and about why you shouldn’t believe that either.

“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Love Between The Lines

The great loves of our lives change us.

Sometimes they make us into bigger and better people than we once were because their faith in our abilities is so unshakable we don’t question whether we can reach that next rung.

And sometimes they break our hearts and leave us wondering if there was really a time when we could feel the warmth of the sun upon our backs and laugh wholeheartedly.

The common mythology makes some of us long for love at first sight because it makes for a great story.

“The moment I saw her I knew I would never want to be with another man/woman.”

But not me, I never cared or needed that.

Maybe it is because the few great loves of my life were unsought and unexpected.

They caught me off guard and unaware and blew me away. They taught me things about life and myself I never could have otherwise learned.

you mustexperience

The most important things I know about sex, love and true intimacy came from those experiences.

The knowledge that if you truly gave your heart to someone they could level you and make you feel like the lowliest worm was eye opening.

I never believed such a thing was possible. It had sounded like the hyperbolic claims of writers of cheap romance novels and weak people.

And then I was one of those…weak people.

Heartbroken, confused and lonely, unsure of what had happened but aware that something had.

Time passed and I figured out how to put my heart back together and learned to enjoy the sunlight and laughter.

I figured that I would take some time off from the whole love thing, I’d have fun and it wouldn’t be a big deal because I wasn’t in any rush.

Love would come again…one day, long from then and I’d deal with it when it happened.

But then it happened faster and sooner than expected, can’t say how much sooner ‘cuz I hadn’t mapped it out.

Hadn’t tried to really plan it out, just figured it would be a while.

Unsought and unexpected I was ensnared again.

“We were together. I forget the rest.”
― Walt Whitman

If you haven’t been there you might not understand it. You might not realize that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it together.

You might not understand the ache that comes from separation and how silly you both feel because you are old enough to know better because you have loved and been in love before.

Sometimes in the quiet moments you look at each other and ask in a soft voice if it sounds stupid to say it feels as magical as the first time, but better because you appreciate it more.

And this time, this even more surprising and more unexpected time you decide you are going to go for it, you are going to lay your soul completely bare and give them the chance to really wreck you.

Because you know from experience how magical it is and figure that you don’t get that many turns at bat so you need to live and love hard.

But it has to be now, not later, but now because life is fickle and shit happens so you don’t know, cannot know what might happen.

You share more poetry, that of those who are considered masters.

“Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you/ That you may be my poem/ I whisper with my lips close to your ear/ I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.” ― Walt Whitman

As well as a few words by someone who never says aloud but secretly hopes that maybe one day he’ll be considered such as well.

So he’ll whisper the words and hope that a soft warm wind will send them into the ears of those who will best appreciate them and say he dared to fly higher than Icarus.

Dared to rise to the places where the sun might melt his wings because the hope and promise of past moments might be enough to make the fall that would come less painful.

And when that fall came, it took a while to dust himself off.

When he decided to stand again he figured it was best to remember the lessons and smile at the memories.

No reason to do more than that.
The Lonely Blogger

And though he was ready to just walk away his heart refused to accept what was fed to his ears.

Heart and head battled for a while until he came across an old story and remembered.

Reasoned

“I never should have kissed her. The memory of her damn lips and that electric spark….”

He walked off into the sunshine not knowing what he was going to do but knowing exactly what he wouldn’t.

He wouldn’t just forget and wouldn’t just pretend that nothing had happened.

You may not know when love starts but you always know when it is really over and when it is not.

Editor’s Note: A short while ago I decided to start a blog on Medium because I heard it can be an effective tool not just for writing, but for promoting our work.

Since I am an advocate of learning by doing I have tested it  by putting out some original content there, that is how Love Between The Lines was created. I took 15 minutes and wrote this story, but used a different headline.

I am also using Medium as a place to test out headlines and small changes in my content so if you were to read posts over there you might recognize them from their time here but with the small changes I mentioned.

Not to mention that since I don’t want to be a digital sharecropper I make a point to include posts I have written elsewhere here.

Can You Hear Destiny Calling You?

You’ll never mistake 230 some odd pounds of man slamming into you at full speed for anything other than what is.

A significant collision of bone and muscle against your body and whatever clothing you might have chosen to wear that day.

Nor will you need Einstein or Neil deGrasse Tyson’s help to understand the physics behind why the 100 pounds or more difference in size means you lost that particular matchup.

That is because you never saw him coming and weren’t prepared for what happened, but even if you had been simple physics explains why you were sent ass-over-teakettle into a crowd of people and still managed to hit the wall.

If They Were Easy Choices Anyone Could Make Them

Your fearless writer wrote a post last April about The Art of Making Hard Choices that he sometimes thinks about.

That is, when he isn’t referring to himself in the third person or sitting at the keyboard banging out a quick post because he doesn’t want to have to deal with the kind of nonsense that makes what’s left of his hair fall out in large clumps.

Maybe if he didn’t have a bit of a cold he would feel differently. Maybe if he felt like he was functioning at top capacity he would charge into the situation and handle it.

Hell, it is not really a question. I hate having things linger around and hang over me so I tend to just go deal with them.

Better to find resolution and move on than to wonder what if.

Well, that is how I handle most things. There are one or two that didn’t work out that way, sometimes because I couldn’t make them work that way and sometimes because I was nervous about making the wrong choice.

decisions

A while back my teenager and I had a conversation about some school situations he was dealing with and I advised him not to do anything unless he was face-to-face.

When he asked me why I told him it was easier to read people in person and to recognize whether they were being honest with him.

“Dad, people can and do lie to our faces.”

“Yeah, they do but if you know them it is easier to figure out what is happening when you can see their eyes than when you can’t.”

That led to the usual dance about how written communication can be challenging because humor and sarcasm don’t always translate and the benefit of facial cues.

And then the gender issue came up and we spent more time talking about how sometimes there is a significant differences between how men and women communicate.

One of these days he and I’ll really dig into that and we’ll have the whole “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” discussion in a whole different way.

Did I mention one of my oldest friends told me she advised her boys not to start dating until they are at least 17 or in college so they could avoid female drama?

I asked her why and she told me that girls play with boys and that women play with men but that she thought there would be less of it if the girls were older and more mature.

When I pressed her on it she told me that she and several of her girlfriends who also had boys were in agreement.

Does that mean it is accurate or just their experience? Hell, maybe yes and maybe no.

I am a guy, I don’t claim to understand how women think, well maybe a little…

What is The Best Advice?

The thing about having a kid in high school is that our conversations about what you want to be when you grow up are far different than before.

They are more structured and detailed and in some ways more agonizing for me than before.

That is because I wrestle with what advice I should give him. Do I tell him that he has lots of time to figure out what it is he wants to do and let him find his way?

Do I tell him that he has lots of time to figure out what it is he wants to do and let him find his way?

Or do I give him a gentle nudge towards a career/profession that is likely to always be needed, probably won’t be outsourced and might offer decent pay?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer because in some ways it just doesn’t matter.

If I told him to find something in the medical field and talked about how people will always get sick and need help he might say yes and enter it.

Could be a doctor, a nurse or physical therapist and it could be that he decides he hates it and goes off to find something else.

If I give him less direct guidance and sort of suggest he find his own way he might take forever to finish college, drift through multiple jobs or do any number of other similar things.

Or maybe he’ll be somewhere in the middle.

The point is he has his own mind and will eventually build his own life. All I can do is try and provide some guidance and support, everything else will come from him.

Can You Hear Destiny Calling You?

I spent a few minutes trying to decide what quote(s) if any I should use for this post.  Feeling a bit slow because this cold is trying to kick my ass so I picked the Gladwell figuring it made sense and fits with how I do things.

But then I came across another and decided I had to include it.

“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.”
― E.E. Cummings

That is me too.

That is how I do it.

I don’t know if I can hear destiny calling me. Sometimes I am certain and sometimes I am just not.

It is like when I put my ear against a seashell and listen for the roar of the ocean. Do I hear it because I expect to or because it is really there?

Well, I figure that good old destiny is smart enough to push opportunities in front of my face so that I can decide if I choose to chase or ignore them.

I have seen and experienced enough to know that I can’t explain everything but am rooted enough in science to not accept everything.

See you later, life calls.

The Brazen Blogger That Made Cleveland Cry

The Brazen Blogger That Made Cleveland Cry isn’t about a city or a person.

I know, the 17 long time readers remember the days in which I would tease The Shmata Queen about that place she comes from, the city with a fake beach and teams that can’t ever win a championship.

Some may even remember that I said LeBron would leave because he couldn’t win and that I said when he came back they still wouldn’t.

But this isn’t about her, the city or him.

This is another protest against short attention spans, people who misunderstand metrics and give too much weight to the number of shares and or comments.

It is about my trying to figure out what kind of post I feel like constructing, not every day, week or month, but now.

art truth

What Kind Of Post Should We Write?

Technically there is only one person writing this and that is me, but the truth is every time I write I feel the presence of one or more people with me.

Every time I write I feel I like I am telling someone a story and that informs and influences how I approach it.

I go through cycles where I feel like writing the standard story that consists of a beginning, middle and end.

It might be talking about what it was like to find out my uncle(s) were gay or how it went when I discovered one of them was HIV positive and the things that happened after.

Or it might be about my kids, something they did that was memorable and or other tales of parenting.

It doesn’t happen as often as it once did because they are older and I make a conscious effort to try and protect their digital identities and to not create issues for them.

When they were really little I didn’t worry about them or their friends Googling them and finding stories that they might consider to be embarrassing.

Let’s not forget there are more than a few fragments of fiction floating around here. More than a few stories I created on the fly.

I almost did that tonight, almost  took The Brazen Blogger That Made Cleveland Cry and made it a story about a guy named Cleveland who had a fight with a blogger who decided that the best way to settle it was to destroy poor Cleveland’s online reputation.

But I didn’t.

Who Are We Writing For?

Most days I write first for me and then for you. Most days I pump out these posts because I am compelled to write and I have to scratch that particular itch the same way you have to breathe.

But there are moments where I wonder about what happened to the readers that used to hang out here on a regular basis.

Moments where I wonder if they grew bored and tired of what they read and moved on to new pastures.

Moments where I wonder if they feel overwhelmed by the amount of content heading their way and decided they had to cut something out..

It wouldn’t surprise me because I know how both of these things happen and go because I have been the reader and not the writer.

I also know it is possible they are still here and that they don’t comment because that is how things have moved for lots of us.

There are blogs I have been reading for quite some time but I just don’t comment very often anymore.

Sometimes I wonder if that is a mistake, the not commenting because it has a direct influence on how much traffic I get here.

Sometimes I think I ought to focus on writing posts that are more likely to be well read, passed around and shared.

Because if I do that I’ll shore up the foundation here, I’ll generate more exposure and potentially more opportunities.

But that is not really who I am or what I am about.

I’d rather unload and unleash my weird and continue the journey to become a better storyteller.

“Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.”
― Pablo Picasso

I don’t want or need to be like everyone else nor do I want or need to be different just for the sake of being different.

I need to remember the advice my doppleganger gives,

The biggest mistake writers make is allowing the whispers they hear inside their head take control of the work they do. Instead of telling the story they hear inside their head they twist and manipulate it so that it becomes prettier and more eloquent because they think it will be better liked.

Instead of just writing they worry about trying to create a masterpiece that will be adored and beloved and the net result is they create a piece of crap that should be swirling around a white porcelain bowl or used to wrap the day old fish their favorite fishmonger gives away for free.

The short-term goal is to be more like Picasso and focus on freeing my creativity and less like every other blogger.

A Man In Transition

I used to own a shirt that said “In a perpetual state of transition.”

It made my friends laugh because it was an apt description, I was always in motion, always in transition.

For a long while I wasn’t, but for a long while I have been…again.

There is a song inside my head that only I can hear and a mental image of a place I haven’t ever been and don’t quite know how to get to.

But I am working on it, working it out as I go along.

So if that means I am the only one who knows how to dance to music no one else can here and is moving towards somewhere no one else can see, well I am ok with it.

Don’t have a choice anyway, I have to follow it, have to see it to the end.

The blog and the writing is part of it. Don’t know how long it will take, what things will look like or who might be with me when it is said and done, but I’ll find out.

Did Bloggers Invent Kissing?

Somewhere in the distance I hear voices singing Amazing Grace, but I am not really sure if it is coming from my headphones or inside my head.

I have learned that sometimes it is best not to ask questions and to roll with the tide of words coming from my fingertips.

Discovered new quotes that confirm my approach, not worrying, caring or knowing if they happened along my path by accident or intent.

The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. — Raymond Chandler

So I let the words pull me along and see where they take me, trusting that the journey will always have a point and a purpose regardless of whether I can see it or not.

Did Bloggers Invent Kissing?

Sometimes I forget there was a time when I was a new parent and a rookie blogger and that I wrote about certain experiences as if I was the first person to discover fire.

I read their words, listen to their tales and wonder if I was as insufferable as they. Ask myself if I came across with such arrogance, such certainty that my way was better because somehow the time I became a parent in gave me magic abilities that no other parent could have had access to because they played mother/father too many years before.

Ask myself if I came across with such arrogance, such certainty that my way was better because somehow the time I became a parent in gave me magic abilities that no other parent could have had access to because they played mother/father too many years before.

The answer is maybe, not probably, but maybe.

As in maybe I was and maybe I am. Or maybe I ought to read through 12-year-old posts to see what I think of the words of a different man than I am now.

I am fairly certain that I never claimed that I invented kissing, but I’ll readily admit that I once told someone I would have liked to have discovered it with them.

Don’t know if she heard the sincerity in my voice and recognized it wasn’t a line. I like to believe she did and that she recognized it came after we had blurred so many other lines I didn’t need another.
I told her that I could be like a runaway freight train and said it scared some people. She laughed and said she understood me and that she would never be scared…of me.


locomotive-616267 

Of Teenagers & iPhones

Sunday afternoon Steiner the minor called me to ask if I had accidentally or intentionally taken his iPhone.

“Dad, I can’t find my phone. If you accidentally took it or did so intentionally to mess with me can you please let me know. I really need my phone.”

“I didn’t accidentally take your phone nor did I move it to mess with you. Do you really want me to comment on the state of your room and how it might be lost under 983 pounds of crap.”

There is a long sigh followed by a “no.”

“You haven’t left the house, it has to be there. You better find it because it is too damn expensive to replace.

I don’t tell him that I think he has done an excellent job of taking care of it and that even though his room makes me wonder if I am raising a slob I don’t worry about some things because he has proven to be responsible.

Truth is I get irritated about his room because he has proven he can keep it clean and organized without help, he is just being a lazy teen.

what it might be

Echoes of people and places float through my head alongside a mix of Ghostriders In The Sky and Danny Boy.

Some of what I see is nothing more than what I hope might one day be and some of it is what once way.

It is both comforting and awkward.

There is a familiar warmth embracing me yet I want to push it away because what is gone won’t ever be again and I need to focus on present and future.

Yet there is a part of me that stands above and smiles, whispering in my ear that all unfolds as it should and that what is for you won’t go past you.

“You are a phoenix and all that has been lost shall be renewed and recovered again, maybe not as it was but as it will be.”

Maybe I should ask the voice to tell me whether unfriending really does mean people hate you or if it is just narishkeit.

Or better yet maybe I’ll ask the bloggers who invented kissing what they think of this.

Sundays and Stuff

Of Teenagers & iPhones Part II

Many hours after the initial call I return home and discover Steiner the minor hasn’t found his phone.

“Maybe you’re lucky you don’t have a girlfriend, she’d be pissed off if you ignored her for hours.”

“I didn’t ignore her, I lost my phone and it is not like I couldn’t find a way to get in touch with her, I have a computer and the house phone. But I don’t have a girlfriend and I won’t. Don’t mess with me dad, it is not cool.”

The guys tell me stories about their sons and daughters and dating. That is really part of why this on my mind more than before.

“Jack, teenage boys are awful. They only want to get laid. I know because I remember how I was and how you were.”

I shake my head and tell him not to include me.

Another one of the guys tells me that things have changed.

“Teenage girls are aggressive, they are chasing my son all the damn time. It is exactly what we wanted but 30 years too late.”

Intermission is interrupted by a thought, “have we tried the find the iPhone function on the computer yet?”

Since it hasn’t been done I turn on my laptop and sign in. The map isn’t precise enough for us to see exactly where the phone is, but it looks like it is here.

We click a button that makes the phone make a noise.

“I think I heard something, everyone be quiet.”

It sounds like it is right outside the window, but it is not clear. We ping the phone a couple more times and now the dog goes crazy. It is too bad he can’t talk because it is clear he hears the phone.

A few minutes later I hear a triumphant scream. Steiner the minor walked the dog and apparently his phone slipped out of his pocket and landed in the bushes in front of the house.

The words want to keep pulling me but midnight has come and gone and sleep must come sooner than later.

Somewhere I hear the bloggers who invented kissing snickering because the old man requires more sleep than he once did.