Archives for May 2016

Blacklisted Secrets Bloggers Refuse To Share

The world is an uproar about parents, gorillas and children…today.

Today being the operative word because in a time of instant gratification and short memories you know they’ll forget about Harambe and move back to talking about the Kardashians or whatever the latest reality television scandal is.

But in the interim thousands of people know the name of the gorilla who was killed but can’t tell you the name of the child whose life was endangered, but they can tell you about how they are better parents than his.

Yeah, I am cranky, grumpy and disturbed by all this, as well as a million other things.

It is not because There Are No Coincidences either.

I am asking and trying to answer important questions like What Kind Of Person/Father Are You?

Maybe they aren’t important, significant or meaningful to others, but they are in my house and I figure if I focus on cleaning my side of the street I am doing something worthwhile for everyone.

Sometimes the biggest changes come from the smallest moments, minutes and actions.

I teach my kids that small victories lead to big ones and I follow that through thick and thin.

Blacklisted Secrets Bloggers Refuse To Share

I expect to get the usual complaints and comments about the headline because some will see it as linkbait.

Some of those who cry about it will be the same people who see nothing wrong in gaming the system as long as they are the ones who benefit and some will cry because they won’t spend enough time reading to find tips about blogging.

Now you have got to understand that under normal circumstances I don’t care what most people think and that at the moment the circumstances I am dealing with aren’t normal.

There are big changes taking place in my life and I am working on making some even bigger ones and none of this is happening on schedule.

It is like most things in life, coming at me when life decides and not when it is convenient.

I don’t view most of these things as being bad, they should be good but the nature of how they are coming is creating chaos.

And since I worked hard to try and prevent, avoid and or minimize chaos I am pissed off. Pissed off because I tried to plan and it didn’t work.

So I deal with what I have and not what I want, but it doesn’t mean I am not going to let my inner Taurus run free.

No Ferdinand the bull today, instead I give you my horns and a promise to stomp and trample.

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Told the kids to remember the measure of a person isn’t found during peace and calm. It is discovered during chaos and confusion.

It is created and molded by the moment.

Drama is a ship you can sail and if you are a master sailor you will avoid the rocks, reefs and Krakens of the deep.

Unless you are me in which case you look at the Kraken and figure, “Fuck, that sucker would make one hell of a story and so you break out your rod and reel ‘cuz you are going to catch the giant.”

Who is afraid of Leviathan?

Not me.

Connect The Dots

You do recognize that I see all of this tied up in what Voltaire said, don’t you?

It is about asking questions of all sorts and figuring out as you go what the right question to ask is.

Reminds me of the parable about the guy who comes across evidence of what must be the greatest archer in the world.

The short version goes something like this:

a man is walking through the woods and comes across multiple arrows that are in the exact center of the bullseye.

After having come across forty or fifty he is convinced he has found evidence of  the world’s greatest archer and is determined to meet him.

He searches high and low and eventually runs into a boy who is holding a bow and arrow. After a short discussion he discovers the boy is the master archer.

“You must tell me, what is your secret. How did you get to be so good?

The boy responds by saying he shoots his arrows and then draws the bullseye around wherever the arrow has landed.

That is how I try to live and how I teach my children to do so as well. Draw the bullseye around wherever we have landed.

Unfortunately that hasn’t changed some things for me, including the certainty that I am not living the life I am meant to be living.

This man I am now, well he is not a bad guy but he is not who I want to be so I am actively working on changing him.

That is why the crap that is going on now is irksome because I am pushing to make some things happen and this stuff interferes with my plan.

But we can’t control everything, can we.

Midlife Crisis

This is not a midlife crisis now and it wasn’t then either.

It is an identity crisis and the only reason crisis is being used is because of my impatience and concern about not losing time.

We have such limited control over what happens, where it happens and who it happens with that I don’t want to wait to change it.

But rushing through things isn’t always the smart way to go either so I try to be purposeful and intentional.

Much as I kid around about moving through life like a ninja it is not true for me. I clear large amounts of space around and through wherever I lumber.

It is just how it goes and how it has been but the question isn’t about those things at all.

The question is very different and the way we answer and approach it is too.

What Kind Of Person/Father Are You?

I am lost somewhere between the place in the photo above and wherever this version of Purple Rain is taking me.

Thinking about what I imagined it would be like to walk through the twilight spaces between life and death and remembering days when I looked for death himself.

The great search and adventure to ask that bony dude to grant me a favor. Memories of figuring that if he wouldn’t give it out of good will and grace than he might do so because he needed a respite from the beating I would give him.

That is part of the story you didn’t get to read in A Flickering Candle. There was only so much time and just enough space to try and show you the thoughts of a man, father and big brother.

You might ask if I feel like I got it done, if I did what I said I would do and I would say maybe.

That is the problem with looking backwards, you forget about everything that was going on during that moment in time and look at it with the knowledge and experience you have since gained.

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Lover You Should Have Come Over is playing, the Natalie Maines version that is, and I am thinking that a man like me should have been given the gift of song too.

I have some ability for writing, some talent that I work at developing and nurturing so that it becomes greater than it is.

But I can’t sing worth a lick and if you were to turn the pages here you’d find the post or two where I wrote about how I learned that song and I are not natural friends.

You’d see how I got the lead in a school play and how I remember the audience laughing hysterically every time I tested out these pipes.

Most days I don’t care about something that happened decades ago, but sometimes there are moments where it touches a nerve and I wonder why I care…now.

Moments where I ask myself if my face has turned red and think about how that moment in time impacted me. Did I learn from it?

Did I take it and do something meaningful and important with it or did it have a negative influence upon who I would become.

Should I wonder and or worry about whether my children might have such a moment and be concerned about its impact.

Do I spend too much time lost in thought, thinking about what was or is that ok because I also think about what is and what will be?

If I could sing I’d want that kind of powerful voice that would make people feel something. I’d want you to be happy, sad or angry.

I’d want you to feel the force of my words hit you like a verbal hurricane, one that leaves you amazed and or exhausted.

What Kind Of Person/Father Are You?

I ask myself to answer the question because it is important to me to be able to know I am the one  I want to be.

You can call it pride, arrogance or ego and I won’t care because the answer to the question is part of the core truth of a person. It helps us stand tall and walk through the days.

And when the storms comes and they will come, it provides the foundation that helps you keep going.

*****

The music is still playing and Sheryl Crow is singing something about not being able to look at some guy while she lies next to another one.

I am nodding my head thinking about all the people I know that have split up and found new partners.

Thinking about how we didn’t talk about divorces, parents dying, lay offs, foreclosures and all of the other stuff that life has laid at our feet.

Some of us had all of it but only a few have had none of it, at least thus far because when we grew up we knew life would be different.

Knew that it would be different because we were different, we were Generation X. We were children of the seventies who played outside unsupervised until it got dark.

We were the kids who managed ourselves far more than people realized. Some of us still had moms who stayed home with us and some of us didn’t.

Hell, some of the best times I had were hanging out at Tommy’s house. His folks were divorced and his mom worked so we always knew that when school ended we had a safe place to hang out.

Fridge had food, he had an Atari and no mom or dad to tell us what to do.

I still remember the time his mom showed up early and chased the girls out of the apartment but she didn’t let me leave.

Took Tommy and I aside and laid into us about treating women with respect and said then lectured us about being smart enough not to get girls pregnant before we were ready to be dads.

We were 14 and I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I had kissed a couple of girls but sex wasn’t something that had crossed my mind.

Hell, if a girl had offered to have sex with me I would probably have run away in embarrassment, the same way I wanted to run from Tommy’s mom.

“To die will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I am not afraid to die, provided it is not death by fire, being eaten alive, dropped in a vat of acid or slowly pulled apart by horses.

Death will be an adventure and though I am really not sure if anything comes afterwards I am not sure that nothing does either.

I guess part of me figures ‘D’ and my grandathers will be waiting for me to hang out with them, or something like that.

When I was a kid I used to wonder if you really could fight the Grim Reaper and thought I would beat him.

I still do, so maybe I am only partially grown up.

Partially because I figure that the bony dude doesn’t get tired and recognize I don’t have the same energy levels I used to.

I still have more than many but it is not all day, every day anymore.

So one day he’ll probably catch me, but he better hope I don’t manage to catch with my right because no matter how old I am that right hand will be devastating.

But the main reason I want to hang around is I have a ton of things to do and I want to be here to help the kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great-great grandkids with their lives.

Still if I do this parenting thing right I’ll get a chance to focus on me and what I want, what I need.

I’ll get to go back and focus on doing what I haven’t done and cross a few more things off of the bucket list.

At least that is the idea and if I picture everything right it fits with what I saw many years ago. It answers the question of How I grew up to be the one I am now…

Or maybe it doesn’t.

Do You Need A Reason To Blog?

A woman once looked me in the eye and asked me to explain myself to her.

“I am not that great, I don’t understand why you have a thing for me.”

I told her she was acting like an idiot and to shut up which if you know me says something because “shut up” is one of those expressions that sets me off.

Don’t know why, but if you tell me to “shut up” there is a good chance you are going to find a less than friendly Taurus looking to catch you on his horns, but only after he has thoroughly trampled you.

I am not prude and I swear like a sailor but that is just one thing that makes me see red.

So when I used it, well that was me trying to tell her that I found the question beyond ridiculous. I didn’t spend my time looking at her flaws and faults and believe me I knew what they were.

They didn’t matter because I accepted her, all of her for who she was and what she meant to me.

That is not always easy for people to do. We don’t just lie to others, we lie to ourselves.

Don’t misunderstand that to mean that I think everyone is a liar or that we never tell the truth because that is not it at all.

But I do think we spend a fair amount of time glossing over some things because it is polite and or easier.

So ask me do you need a reason to blog and I just might quote Dostoyevsky.

 “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I Need To Write More

Don’t know about you, but I need to write more.

Some of it is because writing is where I clear my mind and clear the mess between my ears.

Writing is always where I figure out what I think and believe or at least where I come to accept it. Something about reading what I think crystallizes and clarifies it all for me.

Been reading more than I have in a long time and am grateful for that because it is part of becoming a better writer and better storyteller but it is not enough.

Writing is required, more than I am doing.

Twenty-five years or so ago when I was responsible for myself and no one else I spent hours in the gym.

I loved it and when I didn’t make time for lifting I missed it, made me grumpy.

Part of what I loved was feeling myself get stronger and knowing that if I pushed a bit I’d get past whatever plateau I had reached.

That is how it feels now.

Haunting Photos

It is Memorial Day weekend and I have come across the usual posts about giving thanks to our servicemen, especially the families of those who fell.

I do and I appreciate all that they have done.

But sometimes I think we need to look at some of these photos and be reminded in starker detail about who bears the cost.

My share is limited to however my tax contribution breaks down but it is not the same as the parents, siblings, children and spouses who lost a loved one.

Somewhere in the archives here is a shot I took of a moment at Newark.

In the midst of walking through the airport I noticed everything had stopped and it only took a moment to see why.

I looked out the window and saw the coffins being offloaded from a plane, men in uniform saluting, tears falling down faces of some of the people around me.

Can’t say if they were family or friends of the deceased or just moved by what they saw, just know they were there.

Couldn’t help but think about how awful that must feel and stared at my then 11 year-old son and prayed he’d never have to go off to fight.

All these years later I realize he is just a few years away from signing up for Selective Service and though there is no draft, it is impossible not to think about it just a little bit.

Not going to worry about what isn’t relevant now, but it doesn’t mean it won’t cross my mind from time to time.

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I was one of those children who wanted to be an astronaut. Don’t remember being interested in being a cop or fireman but it wasn’t because I thought poorly of them.

I just liked the idea of being in outer space or a professional baseball player better.

I still want to go into space, still want to explore the final frontier and find out what lies out in the deep and the dark.

Still curious to see what it feels like to be weightless and to enjoy the benefits that come with it all.

Do You Need A Reason To Blog?

If you are asking me if I need a reason it should be evident I don’t.

If anything I need more reasons not to spend time pounding upon this keyboard, but I think I have found a good balance of online and offline so I feel pretty good about it.

What about you? Why are you writing and if you aren’t, well why aren’t you?

Do you have any interest in doing so or are you here for other reasons?

There aren’t right or wrong answers, just my own curiosity.

Can Blogging Help Us See The Future?

This post will be shared in a number of places but relatively few people will read it because we are all too busy trying to get others to read what we just wrote.

On a different day, in a different place and in a different mood I’d say it is a question of engagement, or a lack thereof that distinguishes what will or won’t be shared.

It is not the only reason things may or may not be presented to others, but it is a factor.

Still this is not that day or that time and I am not here to discuss it because I am behind the eight ball and running to try and catch up so that I can finish other work.

If You Are Late Why Are You Writing?

Because you don’t become a better writer if you don’t work at it and push yourself to do it under any condition.

I push myself to write under any condition so that when I call upon the words they know to answer, that is why this post is being shared with you today.

Can Blogging Help Us See The Future?

Maybe, sometimes by looking into the past we can get a glimpse of what the future might look like. Sometimes we can see something we missed and use that as a tool to help us in the future we are heading into

Sometimes we can see something we missed and use that as a tool to help us in the future we are heading into.

Looking backward isn’t always done for nostalgic purposes, sometimes there are other reasons.

Join me as I go back ten years to a time when my kids were still quite little and I was a blogger who had no idea about how dramatically social media would impact my life.

My Son’s First Day of School

The grand adventure begins tomorrow, or perhaps I should say that it continues. My eldest is heading off to kindergarten. After much stress and debate we decided to send him to day school. I don’t know who is more excited, him or me.

We spent a big chunk of the day at my folk’s house where we enjoyed a fabulous Labor Day barbecue and talked about what it is going to be like to be in kindergarten. I told him a little bit about my experience and related how it was way back in kindergarten that I met G.

In a corner of the living room my father, grandfather and I shared stories about what school was like for us. The kindergarten classes of 1919, 1948 and 1974 recounted tales that in some ways will not be so different from the class of 2006.

In some ways it was rather surreal how some things never change. I began school a relatively short time before the end of the Vietnam War. My father was a few short years after WWII and my grandfather started during WWI. Not a very impressive comment about people, is it.

Anyhoo……….

We spent a little time getting his school supplies together. There were new kippot to buy, a new backpack, some pants, shirts, a couple of books and some assorted odds and ends. And throughout all of this there was this little smile on his face and a look in his eyes that made it clear that he is aware that this is a big event.

I suspect that tomorrow is going to be hard for me. He is so very big now. I used to carry this little boy tucked into the nook of my arm. I could hold him and pretend to be the Heisman Trophy. But not anymore.

From time to time he still falls asleep in the car and I still get the chance to carry him in to bed. Only now when I hold him I feel his feet dangling against the middle of my legs and at 45 pounds he has metamorphed from a light package to something more challenging. Now on the odd occasions that I have more than a five minute walk from the car to the bed I begin to notice the extra weight.

The baby talk disappeared ages ago. He still makes the occasional mistake. The other day he said that he wanted to be the betterest but the big guy doesn’t ever call me da da anymore. He doesn’t always want to crawl into my lap to play with his toys. Oh, he’ll still do it from time to time but I see the impact of the older brothers and sisters of his friends and I see him weighing things.

He is more cautious about doing things that mark him as being a baby.

Tonight as he lay down to go to sleep he asked me if Grandpa S. knew that he was going to start school. I said that I thought so and he told me that he missed him and I said that I did too. And then he told me that he loved me and asked if I thought that my daddy missed his daddy.

He is really starting to understand it all. He gets that grandpa is not coming back. He told me that he wished that Grandpa was still here because when he learns how to read he wants to read him a story.

I was happy that it was dark because that caught me off guard. My grandfather would have so very much loved to have heard that.

Well, I have rambled and muttered enough. Hold onto your loved ones and hug them tight because time has a way of moving all too quickly.

In a few short hours my little man will walk into class and I’ll head off to work. If I pass you in the parking lot you’ll forgive me if I don’t look up or say goodbye because I think that even though it is a happy day it is going to be a hard moment.

We’re a couple of weeks away from the end of school and the boy who was starting kindergarten in the story above is talking about driving.

Got a few months before I have to worry about that and all that comes with it.

The kid will start 10th grade in the Fall and I’ll look at him again and wonder if we can slow time down for just a moment longer.

I’ll silently ask to be given a moment to catch my breath but it won’t come and we’ll all run towards something.

We’ll hope it is the future we want and that it is filled with the things we need. Time will tell.

“New” Parents Are Obnoxious

There might have been a moment where my then 7-year-old son misunderstood my explanation about how babies come into the world.

And that moment might have led to him announcing to his grandparents and everyone else at Chilis that I had peed on mom twice.

That moment followed times when he was about three where he told two different cashiers at the grocery store that his dad has a big penis.

One of them laughed and asked if he told the truth and I said size is relative and sort of shrugged my shoulders.

The other looked at me as if I had dropped my pants and urinated all over her register.

Sometimes I miss the good old days when blog fodder like this flowed fast and furious because the kids did all sorts of fun, memorable stuff.

I couldn’t even keep up with all that I had to write about, it just shot out of me like lava.

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Hell, if I wanted to I could go back and share ten thousand stories that never made it here because I was too tired or too busy to put it in.

I could weave those posts in between the cool stuff like love stories that sound antiquated because writing about Instant Messenger no longer sounds like advanced technology.

Now it is just dated, like talking about how excited we got when we moved from modems that were 14.4 to 56k.

Or we could refer to our feature photo and talk yet again about walking through Jerusalem and the choices I made that kept me in the states or moving between LA and Texas.

But then again, it might be useful to remind some of you new parents that you are obnoxious.

Yeah, let me write that two or three times because you are so damn tired you’ll pretend you didn’t catch it.

“New” Parents Are Obnoxious

I wasn’t going to waste words and breath on some of you because I’d rather focus on posts like How A Writer Writes or put together something about how we are killing Twitter.

Hell, I almost wrote something tongue-in-cheek about how I am going to single-handedly kill dad blogging by writing a post saying it is dead but a couple of incidents pushed me the other way.

I don’t know, maybe it is more accurate to say there were a collection of moments that included some posts I read.

Self-congratulatory pieces that went off on how much better parents are today because they are better informed, better educated and more progressive than older parents.

Did I mention that one of them said that anyone that has kids that are older than 12 comes from a generation that is unlikely to get it. 

I don’t know if getting it means a double dose of stupidity and a shot of ignorance but I don’t want or need it.

And dear neighbor, I am sorry you thought my stereo was preventing your baby from taking a nap but you are an idiot.

Not because I wasn’t the one who was blasting the music but because if you don’t teach your child how to sleep with some noise you are creating a horrible situation for yourself.

Kids and adults can learn how to sleep with some noise around but if you teach them they can only sleep when in a tomb-like environment you’ll hamstring them and you.

I am not just the dad with the whose kid told a checker he has a big penis. I am a father that is teaching his children how to go along and get along in the world.

That includes standing up for what is right and protecting our principles but also recognizing that sometimes the smart response to being offended is to change the channel or shop elsewhere.

We don’t have to be tolerant or everything but we don’t have to be so intolerant we demand anything that bothers us be fixed.

There is nuance and sophistication that comes with those discussions and they have been some of the best I have ever had with my kids.

Little Kids, Little Problems– Big Kids, Big Problems

I used to hate when older parents would tell me that little kids had little problems and big kids had big problems because it sounded so damn condescending.

And then my kids moved into middle and high school.

That doesn’t count some of the crap that happened in between like the second great Depression (how I refer to 2008) and the shit that went down when I lost my job and couldn’t get hired.

Doesn’t count having to tell the kids that we were going to sell the house because dad couldn’t find a way to provide for his family, yeah, it still irks me a little bit.

I was a high flyer for a long while, was the sole provider for 8 years but that is a whole different post.

The real focus is that when you get to middle and high school and your kids really start to spend chunks of time in the real world without you things get interesting.

Flotsam and Jetsam

My oldest was in middle school when the Newtown shooting occurred. He and the other kids found out about it pretty quickly thanks to the Internet.

Steiner the minor told me not to worry about him because he sat near the door and if someone came in with a gun he could run away pretty quickly.

That is the kind of thing that warms the cockles of your heart.

And then there was the kid who tried to bully him and caused issues. We found out that his father was beating him up and had yet another interesting conversation with the kids about child abuse and bullying.

These days things have progressed further because old Steiner the minor is in high school and will begin driving soon.

So we have talked about drugs, alcohol, sex, driving and all sorts of other stuff.

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New parents, man I feel for you. I remember those days and sometimes I miss them.

There was joy and innocence just as there is now, but it is different than it once was.

My kids have figured out that the wizard is just a man and that sometimes the flying monkeys win.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you know all that much more or have access to that much more information than those who came before you did.

There is not manual and we all stumble through some of this blindly and do 0ur best to make things work with the resources and opportunities we have.