Archives for April 2016

The 10 Minute Blog Post

I don’t write solely because I want to, but because I have to. It is an  involuntary exercise like breathing to me except

It is an  involuntary exercise like breathing to me and though I won’t physically die if I don’t do it I will see my heart and soul shrink a size or two.

For a long time I forgot about the importance of writing but twelve years ago I started blogging and in some ways I was reborn.

If that sounds like hyperbole to you I am guessing you are not a writer and that’s ok. Or maybe you are a writer and it still sounds like hyperbole, that is ok too,

The world would be dull if we were all the same.

A Blogging Experiment

I decided I wanted to link to some old posts but that this time around I would experiment a little bit with how I do it.

We’re going to create a list with pictures and links and see what happens.

The Birthday Party Dilemma

The Shackled Writer

The Cure For A Bad Day

The Great Dad Blogger War Of ’06

The People In Your Life

It Happened One Yom Kippur

Time Is Almost Up

My ten minutes is almost up so I have to decide if I should talk about the value of comments, whether Twitter is still a valuable platform or children and social media.

Chances are I will focus on the children and social media angle in a post later today. Got a situation here that is unfolding that reminds me about how happy I am that this sort of cyber world didn’t exist when I was a kid.

It is not easy helping my children navigate it either and sometimes I find it disheartening to see how cruelty can be extended throughout the night and day.

But there have been positives that are tied into it all too, but we’ll save that talk for later.

For now I will leave you with this thought which applies to writing as well as to photography.

aboutphotos

The Great Dad Blogger War Of ’06

Some people write about the great struggles of ’06 and the hard times that came before and after but few of them really know it.

That is because their information comes from second-hand news and faded newspaper accounts but some of us weren’t that lucky.

Some of us were there. Some of us know because we saw, we lived and we loved.

Most days I don’t spend any time thinking about how it changed us but sometimes it is impossible not to look at life as having a huge black line dividing who we were and who we are.

rageintothenight

Three Things Every Story Has

Every story has a beginning, middle and end.

I figure my own story is heading towards the middle but is a hell of a long way off from the end.

Ask me to tell a bit about how I became who I am and I may opt to share a few things but only if I feel like you really want to know.

Small talk doesn’t interest me much any more, probably because there is a constant conversation streaming through my head.

You can blame that upon the curse blessing of being a writer.

I have been raging into and against the night for so long it is fair game to question whether I just like to rage.

Maybe it is why I relate so well to the lyrics in Social Distortion‘s song I Was Wrong.

*****

Steiner the minor and I are seated at the food court, each of enjoying a fresh Cinnabon pastry.

We probably should be eating the small one but the conversation is serious and I choose not to fight his teenage hunger on this point.

I need him to do more than listen, I need for him to hear me.

Inside my head I hear Steely Dan start playing Reelin’ In The Years and I start speaking.

“I want you to be smarter than me. I want you to stop pushing the river. I want you to recognize and understand the water just flow between your fingers, through your legs and around you. I want you to leverage the strength of the river and not fight it.”

He tells me I don’t understand him and I tell him no teenager has ever been understood by his parents.

The echoes of the past have found me in the present and I remember the conversations with my own father

*****

I am using a fork and knife to eat my Cinnabon. Got clients to see and work to do, can’t afford to stain my work clothes, not now, not today.

He is the reason I am playing hooky. He is the reason I am pushing against the river, hoping that since it is smaller and I am wiser I can bend it to my will.

Toby Keith has joined the concert inside my head and he is leading off with As Good As I Once Was.

What Happens Now

I am driving now, flying down the freeway towards the next meeting wondering if that cinnamon smell has permanently attached itself to me.

Steiner the minor refuses to concede most of his points but has given in on the ones I think are most important.

Later that night I’ll find him half awake and tell him he ought to go to bed and he’ll prove that sometimes teenagers are just bigger versions of the toddlers they used to be.

He’ll tell me that I must have cheated when we wrestled because I won far too easily and I’ll tell him that sometimes I am as good I once was.

But what he won’t hear is in the inner dialogue in my head that is cheering because this time I really did feel like I was only 20.

The weightlifting is working. I can feel my strength returning. I just need to focus on my diet and see about dropping a belt size or four.

That is worth working on, especially because my focus is on the present, it is on what happens now.

It is on figuring out the best and smartest moves to make now. It is focused on acknowledging this sense of a major shake-up on the horizon and the need to protect myself and us.

you mustexperience

The Great Dad Blogger War Of ’06

The veterans of the great war and all of the little ones that came before and after float aren’t as plentiful as we once were.

Our numbers are shrinking and those that replace us aren’t made of the same stuff as we were. They don’t want to be and even if they did it wouldn’t matter because we are all products of the environments we come from.

But some things never change. Most of us long for more readers, more comments and more acknowledgment that our words are read and appreciated.

*****

I once told someone that I was all in and that we should forgive each other and move on.

I think I might have to say it again.

If they were near I would say I am all in and that we should forgive each other and move on.

I’d probably say something else about being in the middle of the story and how that provides us with the outline of what could be the next great adventure of our lives.

Won’t always be easy. Won’t always be hard.

But it will be fun and it will be worth the effort.

Do You See Me?

I might ask them to tell me if they really see me.

Might ask them if they really hear me.

Because I can no longer remember a time where I felt like I couldn’t do it with them, at least when we were both paying attention.

Tom Petty is singing American Girl and the parade of pictures shifts to us in my car and the adventures we had and have yet to experience.

Sometimes I stop the internal film and ask if what I see really is or was and wonder if the universe chooses to share snippets of a future that has yet to come.

That is the beauty of being in the middle of the story, there is plenty of time to get the answers to these questions.

Plenty of time to be all in and if need be to shift, pivot and adjust because if you don’t like how your story is being told you can always move.

You’re not a tree.

I Double Space After Periods

There are some noises that grate on your nerves in a way that makes me imagine a hot poker up my ass might be less painful.

You might call that hyperbole and I might even agree with you but the truth is for some reason those few noises that bother me do more than touch a single nerve.

They hit all of them and a few I didn’t know exist in a way that makes it almost impossible to ignore them.

I can’t provide specific details about how they do this which frustrates me to no end because if I understood it I might be able to fix it.

You do know that is what we men do, we fix things or at least make an attempt to take what is broken and make it whole again.

Sometimes it works and we declare that victory is ours and sometimes it doesn’t and we are forced to bow our heads and say we have failed.

Father Doesn’t Always Know Best

My teenager has figured out that father doesn’t always know best and has chosen to use that knowledge as a cudgel he can swing at my head.

It is part anger and part fear and I am more than partly bothered by it.

Some of it is because I feel his anger and frustration and recognize how unsettling it is to recognize that you can always expect your parents to solve the problems you face.

But in the midst of my understanding and disappointment there is joy and happiness because I see him working out solutions.

I see him standing on his own and figuring life out and that makes me want to shake my fist in approval.

Why?

Because the purpose of being his dad isn’t to encase him in bubble wrap and handle his affairs. It is to teach him how to manage his life and to understand that I am available for consultation.

Sometimes that means he has to come to me and sometimes it means I’ll come to him and hope he has the good sense to listen to me.

I do know a few things. I have lived a little bit and figured out that Time Is a Bitch.

Sometimes people are too. Sometimes they disappoint you. Sometimes they unfriend you.

Sometimes they do both.

I Double Space After Periods

I double space after periods and ask questions like Why Are Clowns Sexier Than Mimes?

Sometimes those questions sound ridiculous but they often are tied into something serious and deeper. They are often tied into things that touch my heart and play upon my soul.

That is a central part of why I blog.

about the truth

It is a constant search for truth, my truth and it is part of why you see so many pictures and quotes here.

The life of a writer isn’t always as simple as others. There are a million people living inside my head and they all want a chance to speak and to be heard.

To be heard.

That is a big one.

An important one.

It is a big part of why so many of us blog.

We want to be heard.

We want to be noticed.

We want to be appreciated.

Awards Are Nice

Been a long time since I won any awards for my writing and though I write regardless of acknowledgement or notice it would be nice to be seen and heard.

It would be nice for someone to say you have mastered your craft as well as any other and we are pleased to let you know we noticed.

My daughter noticed our house is smaller than many of the homes her friends live in and asked me how I chose my profession.

“Dad, I know doctors and lawyers make a lot more money than writers do. What made you decide to become a writer?”

I asked her if she was frustrated that our house isn’t as nice as some of the ones her friends live in.

“Not really, but it would be nice to travel like they do.”

Her words made me smile and I told her I appreciated her desire to see more places and do more things.

“Possessions can be taken, but experiences and education are forever.”

“Abba, you still haven’t answered my question.”

“Jerusalem stole my heart and touched my soul. Had things gone a little bit differently I would have made aliyah and you’d be soldier’s daughter.”

“I thought Texas took your heart too.”

“It took pieces of it as did some other places and people. One day I’ll visit and or move and the parts I left will sing their song again with the rest of me.”

reasonable men 

I try not to spend much time thinking about whether we are winners or losers because I already know how I view the world.

Children of the seventies played in the mud and rain without fear of injury. We slid down metal slides during the height of summer and didn’t cry if the slide was hot enough to cook an egg on.

We did what was required and managed our lives same as I teach my children to do.

Ask me if I am a reasonable man and I’ll say “it depends” and then go double space after periods and work on murdering the Oxford comma.

Change happens whether we want it to or not but it doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to manage our reactions and responses to it.

Midnight has come and gone and it is time for me to try to sleep. Hopefully the noises that grate upon my nerves so vibrantly have ceased and sleep will come sooner than later.

Lailah Tov from Los Angeles, I am out of here.

It’s About How You Love

He looks at me and asks me to tell him what I know about life and I don’t hesitate,

“It’s About How You Love.”

I don’t have to ask what he thinks or look at his face to know he doesn’t agree with what I say but that is ok, teenagers are natural skeptics.

He shakes his head and I smile and ask if he wants to me to explain what I mean.

“Sure dad, tell me what you mean.”

I smile and tell him about a conversation with three rabbis about sex and love.

“Why would you talk to a rabbi about sex and love?”

“Because I knew them before they became rabbis and were just ordinary Joes like me. You know I thought about becoming a rabbi, that there have been moments where I was very serious about it.”

“Yeah, I know. I know how you spent all that time in Israel and all that other stuff you have told me.”

I smile and tell him to find me when he wants to have a conversation.

“Your old man isn’t here to bullshit with you today. Find me when you’re open to speaking and I’ll be ready.”

how you love

Who Are You Blogging For?

Another month and I’ll hit my 12-year blogiversary but I don’t know if I’ll write the usual reflective piece about the blog and why I do it.

I probably won’t know until the time comes and then I’ll just go for it or I won’t.

Depends on a bunch of things like whether I think there is more to say than was shared in Who Are You Blogging For.

****

I told my teen that sometimes when life gets challenging it is worth making a mental list of things we should be grateful for.

That is one of the things the blog helps me do. It provides a living chronicle of the moments of the past and makes it easy to look back and see where we have been.

Five years ago we were on the verge of making major changes in our lives and I asked that teen to Trust Me.

He was 10.5 then and was very unhappy about having to sell his house.

What I didn’t and couldn’t tell him then was how unhappy I was about having been forced to do it. Didn’t matter that I had always planned on moving because it wasn’t happening on my terms.

I couldn’t tell him that I felt like I had failed. I was another casualty of the economic devastation of the time and one of many who was forced to make hard choices.

But I also knew I would find a way to get back on my feet and that we would fix things. So I did the best I could to keep everyone calm and tried to have fun where and when I could.

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

That day is one of my favorite memories and if it weren’t for the blog I wouldn’t remember it in as much detail as I do.

Not that I could forget that August, grandpa died, my sister got married and then we moved.

Hell the months that followed were pretty crazy too, one of my brother-in-laws ended up on life support and one of my sisters spent a couple of weeks in the hospital.

Things could easily have gone a different way and they could have died, but they didn’t.

That provides ample room for gratitude now doesn’t it.

secretformulaforlife

Have you ever wondered if there is a secret formula for life?

I sure have and I suppose that is sort of what my son was asking when we had our conversation about life.

After almost 16 years of fatherhood and almost 47 years of life “it is about how you love” is probably the closest I have come to feeling I have figured it out and even then I can’t be certain.

What I know is that the longer I walk around this world the more reason I see to love and live hard.

Doesn’t mean there aren’t hard times or that I haven’t wondered how many times I would feel like Charlie Brown must feel after Lucy jerks that football away.

In many ways the strangest feeling I have had is the realization I understand what Max was saying when he said I Wish I Could Start Over.

Twenty years later I wonder what became of him and whether he found his own yellow brick road.

If we were to talk I’d tell him I won’t let myself be caught in the trap of feeling like I have no choices because I do and so do most of us.

We may not like where we are in life and what our situations are but we have choices.

about the truth

I am using my soul as a guide to help me make those choices.

I don’t have enough money to just quit my job and retire. I don’t have enough money to just pick up and take a chance on a different sort of life without taking on serious risk.

But I also know that everything is fluid and we cannot guarantee that the guarantees we think we have secured in life will remain guaranteed.

In many ways my life is nothing like I expected it to be and in many ways it is richer than I ever could have imagined.

I am not a Dodger or a Laker and I am not living in Jerusalem.

But one day I may and when I do I may be a published author who has homes around the world and has the wherewithal to spend time in those places writing the stories he has yet to tell.

There is no manual for raising teenage boys and even if there was it wouldn’t matter, there is no one way to do it.

“Live and love hard Steiner the minor” and remember that your dad wants to live by certain words.

I am, I said and I did. I went. I was and I would…again.

Why Are Clowns Sexier Than Mimes?

Got that restless feeling again, the one that comes before big changes are about to hit but unlike the past I am not trying to control anything.

Going to let this one play out on its own, going to roll with the tide be it in or out and see where it leads.

Kind of like I do with this blog, just going to write about whatever comes to mind and not worry about whether anyone reads or comments because I write first for me and then for you.

It is not a blog for everyone. It is not something you will all understand, appreciate, laugh, smile or cry with.

Got a lot of people who supposedly subscribe or follow it but I am not convinced that most pay attention.

That is not supposed to be snarky or judgmental, it is just an acknowledgment that many of us sign up for things we think will be interesting and never find the time to read what is being sent.

Or at least it describes me and though I know I do things differently than many I just don’t think I am that different in this case.

Lots of things interest me and there is never enough time to read and do them all.

about the truth

Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow are singing Picture and I am thinking about how I should already be in bed.

Got an early morning meeting and a lot of important stuff to do tomorrow but my mind isn’t ready to be shut off.

Maybe it is because the water heater blew up today and I don’t know if I am going to be able to get it replaced tomorrow or the next day.

Or maybe it is because I have to schedule two root canals and three crowns and haven’t done a damn thing to make any of it happen.

Been pushing Steiner the minor to take control of his schedule and his life and yet here I am doing as I say he should not do.

Take a note Steiner the minor, do as I say and not as I do. Your old man doesn’t always practice what he preaches but he pushes you to do and be better.

“Life doesn’t come with a GPS and if it did mine would constantly say “recalculating.”

The Naked Truth

Yeah, crazy Jack Steiner who sometimes calls himself the Godfather of Dad blogging and talks about himself in the third person quoted himself.

It is an old blogging trick that sometimes helps increase pageviews because it pushes people to read some of the old posts.

Speaking of old posts when I look at the stats here I am consistently amazed by how many different types of posts bring in the readers.

It is not just the parenting stuff but the posts about writing and a bunch of the fiction.

That reminds me to make my quarterly comment about how strange it is not to see some of the old readers/commenters here anymore.

There have been many regulars and I am/have been grateful for their time here and understand people move on but I still wonder where they go.

Still wonder if they grew tired of what they read, got bored or if something else pulled them in a different direction.

Why Are Clowns Sexier Than Mimes?

I know that is a silly headline, maybe even sort of ridiculous but I once had the conversation with some people.

It was one of those late night, talk about stuff you might not bring up during the middle of the day.

And it was serious, yeah it was real serious no snark or sarcasm involved.

One of those moments where you and the people around talked about how interesting people are and how you can’t always say how or why you are attracted to them.

Can’t always identify what makes people interesting or charismatic but you know from experience that some people just pull you in like they have some kind of magical tractor beam.

Anyhoo, midway into this conversation someone talks about how they were attracted to a clown and the conversation spins into a discussion about why this wasn’t a fetish but a normal attraction.

Seconds or maybe hours later we roll into whether the shoes, makeup and manner affect our feelings and how they do that.

And that my friends is how we moved into would a mime who pretends to be trapped in a box be sexier than a man/woman who throws a pie at your face.

Tie It Into Blogging

Ask me how this relates to blogging and I’ll tell you it is demonstrative of how you never know what people will find to be of interest.

Sure you can post about some topics and know that you will always have readers but go afield a bit and you can’t say what will happen.

I am consistently amazed at how some of my favorite posts bomb and some of the silly ones excel.

That Whitman quote is applicable to all this too.

A Final Comment

My teenager told me again I don’t know him as well as I think I do and explained that life is very different now than when I was his age.

Made me smile, made me laugh and made me a bit sad.

Kid feels like he is on the outside looking in and I get that. Felt like that for a good part of my life, but even if I hadn’t I would say that being a teenager is prime time for not feeling like you are part of a group or things.

And furthermore his comments which echo my own at the same age confirm for me that teens have been saying the same stuff since 200 BC.

It is just part of growing up.

Got to run now kids, this old man needs to grab at least four hours of shut eye. See you in the comments.