Archives for October 2016

Halloween Killed Blogging

My son told me he is really irritated by how my daughter does her homework.

“Dad, you know she has Netflix going the entire time”

I ask him to tell me what I am supposed to do about it.

“You are our father, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You just need to tell her to stop.”

I ask him if he knows she has straight A’s and if he remembers she is taking all honors.

“Yeah, but you could still tell her to quit.”

I laugh and tell him he is better off minding his own business. When he asks why I let him go through it all I tell him I wanted to see if he had a clear understanding.

“Your sister works hard and she has figured out how to work the angles. Maybe you ought to think about working the angles too.

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Halloween Killed Blogging

I talk to the kids about working smarter and not harder but want to make sure they understand you can’t always work the angles.

But if you can do so without compromising quality or developing bad habits it is worth thinking about.

That is part of why I used chose the headline I did.

Any time you include blogging in the headline you will see a jump in traffic and it is multiplied by saying blogging is dead or dying.

I don’t know who started that particular rumor but it wasn’t true then and it is still not true now.

The closest I have seen it come is when my kids were little and I had to take them out trick or treating because sometimes it used all of my free time which meant I had none left for blogging.

Speaking of Halloween tomorrow marks the first Halloween I haven’t spent with my kids.

Part of me is ambivalent because they are too old to go trick-or-treating and part of me is kind of sad because I remember how cute they were and how excited they got each Halloween.

My Favorite Ages

When people ask me if I have a favorite age I usually say whatever ages my kids are at that particular time.

That is not an exaggeration or me avoiding the question, it is the truth. I really do like those ages best, but as I said earlier there are some things I miss.

Right now I miss the lack of sleep I got because of babies who hadn’t learned how to sleep through the night because some of the teenage stuff is really challenging.

I never doubted that I would eventually have kids who could sleep and that I would get a solid 6 or 7 hours.

Now I find myself pacing the floor trying to figure out answers to questions that make me want to bang my head against the wall.

It is not a nightly thing, but it happens enough for me to wonder if it would be easier to have a colonoscopy with no anesthesia.

And in the midst of it all I remind myself about how cute they used  to be and figure if my parents didn’t kill me when I was a teen anything is possible.

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Once Upon A Maybe

Something about this particular moment in time has me thinking about walking through Jerusalem as a teenage boy.

Maybe it is because I am trying to send myself back in time to better remember what it was a like to be a 16-year-old kid so that I can better understand my oldest.

That is not to say I am totally lost because I am not but there are a few things where I can’t follow the logic or see the train-of-thought.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work and instead of gaining clarity I remember thinking about how cool I thought it was was to stand in a pub and watch Live Aid with my friends.

Beers in hand we did our best to impress the girls and tried hard to convince them to go back to the dorm with us or to take us back to theirs.

That I remember as do I remember dancing in the clubs and talking about what we would do when we joined the army.

These are all fine memories and part of good stories, but none of them help me figure out what angle to work here.

So maybe it means there is no angle and we are just going to have to bear down and knuckle our way through it.

That brings us back to the present and the hard truth that I won’t get to charge my children “Dad’s tax” also known as the candy I get to eat for having taken them out trick or treating.

Nor will I have to help eat any left over candy we didn’t give out to trick-or-treaters, unless I go buy some.

I might provided I am honest enough to say I’ll probably eat most of it.

Better make sure it is Three Musketeers, Milky Way or Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. If you are going to do it, well you might as well do it right.

Don’t Tell My Kids

Don’t tell my kids I am eating Halloween candy for breakfast today or that I had some yesterday.

You probably shouldn’t tell them my apartment is a mess and there is more beer in my refrigerator than food either.

And definitely don’t tell them that half the room watched me leave a building yesterday because I forgot I don’t know how to whisper very well.

Well, it is not that I don’t know how to whisper it is that sometimes there is a rumble to my voice that makes it carry a little further than others.

There aren’t many days where I realize hours after an event that I blew it, but it happened yesterday.

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A Different Kind Of Childhood

Sometimes I compare the life my kids have to the one I had when I was their age and shake my head because I am not sure how I feel about it.

In some ways they have had more experiences and opportunities than Ma & Pa Steiner gave my sisters and I.

But they have had to adjust to many more changes than we did. They have moved and changed schools more than a couple of times now.

Sometimes that makes me feel like I haven’t done right by them and sometimes I think it has helped them learn some valuable lessons.

I don’t spend much time thinking about any of it because so much of it was outside of my control and there is no value in giving energy to that kind of thought.

Doesn’t mean I don’t ever question decisions and choices or ask if I could be a better father because sometimes I do.

Most days I feel pretty good about it all because I handle whatever comes my way and that is a good trait to pass along.

A Different World

Last Thanksgiving I went to an annual event the fraternity puts on to see the guys.

Been going since I pledged in ’87 and have rarely missed it. It is fun to catch up with some of the guys I am not in regular contact with and to see some of other guys in person.

We made the usual cracks about each other and asked the same ridiculous questions we always do about how old we are getting.

When you are an active you don’t realize the majority of your time is going to be spent as an alum nor do you appreciate that the guys who were 7-10 years older than you would eventually become you friends.

Because when you are 18-20 and see guys who are almost 30 you think they are really old and then you get out of school and time passes.

Doesn’t take too long for you to begin to have enough in common with them to have some really good conversations.

Anyway, I remember standing with a group of guys ranging in age from about 43 to 57 and how we all felt like there was a generation gap.

We weren’t all white and weren’t all Jewish or all Christian, but we were all sort of confused by some of the things that some of the thirty-somethings and below were pushing/talking about.

It wasn’t that we couldn’t relate or couldn’t talk to them because we could, but some things just felt different.

And we realized in many ways they grew up in a different world too.

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Differences & Similarities

When the kids and I talk about issues with people I always tell them that people are people.

I believe it to be true and quotes like the one above from Lao Tzu prove to me that some things about us never change.

But sometimes when I listen to my friends who are single talk I wonder a bit.

The guys who are close to age in me tell stories about the women they are dating and  I can follow it all.

Might not have been out there in a good long while, but I can see it.

It is the guys who are ten or more years younger that sometimes tell stories that make me feel like I might be some kind of dinosaur.

Don’t know that any of this really matters, it is just stuff that crosses my mind from time to time.

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Age Is Relative

Don’t tell my kids that I prefer being an adult to being a kid and don’t tell them that I had an amazing childhood.

Don’t tell them if I could relive being 19 and have the same experiences I would step into the time machine now.

Don’t tell them I know everything and don’t tell them I know nothing.

Don’t tell them that sometimes I love the freedom that comes with having my own place and that I know I’ll miss it when we living together again.

Don’t tell them I have stayed out all night or how much it hurt the next day.

Just tell them dad loves them and he is just an ordinary Joe trying to provide for his family.

Tell them I miss them and that I look forward to seeing them soon and ask them again if they can stop growing so damn quickly.

Is my oldest really going to turn 16 and is my baby really halfway through middle school.

No wonder I feel like time is moving at warp speed.

Have You Been Defenestrated Lately?

Come closer and I’ll confess something and share a piece of me that is less than flattering.

Sometimes I can be a snob.

That side doesn’t come out often and when it does it is generally attached to one thing, vocabulary.

I get a little crazy when people try to populate a discussion with big words that they clearly do not understand.

It is not my finest trait but it is mine and I own it.

I try to make a point not to let it serve as my sole judge of who a person is, but sometimes it is almost all I have got.

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Have You Been Defenestrated Lately?

That quote above is awesome and a significant part of why I write and will always do so and it ties in nicely with our topic.

Defenestrate is one of my favorite words and it is not uncommon for me to work it into conversation.

de·fen·es·trate
dēˈfenəˌstrāt/
verb
1.
rare
throw (someone) out of a window.
“she had made up her mind that the woman had been defenestrated, although the official verdict had been suicide”
2.
informal
remove or dismiss (someone) from a position of power or authority.
“the overwhelming view is that he should be defenestrated before the next election”

You might wonder if I have actually defenestrated anyone and the answer is why yes, I have.

Way back in days of yore when I was a silly college lad we engaged in all sorts of crazy antics, some of them included defenestrating people but only from a first floor window.

They even managed to defenestrate me but being someone with foresight I had already placed a mattress under the window.

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Given the current election cycle, I have probably talked about defenestrating people more than 1,983,322 times.

Hell, I used it today when my computer overheated, but I didn’t actually defenestrate my computer or people.

But let’s circle back to my confession and my snobby attitude towards how some people misuse words.

You might ask if I am some kind of grammar nazi let me assure you I am not.

I am a rule breaker and a color outside the lines kind of man.

Sometimes I double space after periods and laugh about doing so, but I won’t populate my external dialogue with a series of words I read in a dictionary because I am trying to impress people.

I ain’t no lexicon peacock.

I am just an average Joe who loves words and feels better when my message is easily understood.

Misuse of words isn’t a criminal offense, but it does lead to misunderstanding and I prefer to avoid those.

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Can I Root For The Cubs?

Sometimes when people hear me speak they say I have a hint of an accent.

Usually depends where I am at and who I am with, but every now and then someone will say something.

“Chicago, you grew up in Chicago right?”

I smile and make some crack about how you can’t find decent pizza or a good steak there.

Sometimes they realize I am messing around and sometimes they push back so I talk about awful weather and make fun of the Cubs or something like that.

If the conversation has any depth or legs to it we usually reach a point where I tell them about how I am technically not from there but in many ways the city made me.

Can I Root For The Cubs?

My paternal grandfather took me to my first baseball game.

It was in the early 70s at Dodger stadium and I couldn’t have been more excited because I am an LA native, born and bred there.

I bleed Dodger blue.

Grandpa was a Dodger fan too, but if you asked him to name his favorite baseball player he always said Hack Wilson.

Hack was a short fireplug of a man who played for a bunch of teams, including the Cubs.

He signed on with them in 1926 when grandpa was 12.

Grandpa used to tell stories about how he and his friends would sneak into games to watch Hack and the boys play.

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Grandpa also used to tell me stories about how his father, my great-grandfather helped start unions in Chicago and about how sometimes he would fight with cops.

“My father was blonde, had blue eyes and was 6 feet tall.

In those days he was big and no one saw Jewish guys that looked like him. People used to think he was a cop.”

I loved hearing those stories and since my great-grandfather died when I was about 7.5 I do remember him.

I remember his eyes because they were like grandpa and my dads, but mostly I remember him smiling when I saw him.

The tales of his temper were legendary as were tales of my grandfather and so many of those tales were about things that happened in Chicago.

Both Sides

My father was born in LA and lived there until grandpa moved the family back to Chicago.

Dad went to kindergarten on the south side and lived in Chicago for about 8 or 9 years, long enough that he learned to love the city.

Mom was born and raised in Chicago and didn’t leave until she went to college.

Both of her parents considered themselves Chicagoans, in spite of technicalities.

The technicality being my maternal grandpa was born in Canada and didn’t move to Chicago until he was five.

But if you asked him where he was from it was always Chicago.

And if you talked to me as a kid and asked me to tell you stories about my family it was always Chicago…mostly.

That is because we were in LA and though we had some relatives who lived elsewhere, everyone I heard about seemed to be in Chicago.

That city became mythical to me, a place I heard about always but never saw.

A place that my parents and grandparents would go for family affairs but not one I got to see, not because they didn’t want to take us but because of financial reasons.

Chicago belonged to my family and we belonged to it or so I was taught.

Business Trip

A dozen or so years ago I flew to Chicago for a business trip.

It wasn’t my first visit but it sticks out for a variety of reasons.

I stayed at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker and walked all over the city.

One of my most vivid memories is calling both sets of grandparents to talk to them while I walked down Michigan Avenue and to get directions to places I should visit.

Memories of family dinners floated back in which I could hear my grandfathers argue about the where the best place to eat was in 1938 and the stories they shared about their neighborhoods.

I was old enough to understand I wasn’t going to find most if any of those things but I felt like if I walked the streets and listened I might grab some hint of whatever they experienced.

Mom and dad didn’t know each other when they were living in Chicago and as far as I know chances are their paths didn’t cross, but there were moments where I wondered.

Moments where I wondered if maybe they stood close together and watched the U-Boat sail up the Chicago river or if maybe they were at the lake at the same time.

Stranger things have happened.

I Wanted The Dodgers To Win

I didn’t want the Cubs to win.

I wanted my boys to get back to the series so that I could share that moment with my kids. I didn’t want another year of telling my son I remember what it was like to lose in 74, 77 and 78 and how sweet it was when we won.

’81 and ’88 live large in memory and I wanted a new one.

But I suppose given my deep Chicago roots I’ll have no problem cheering for the Cubbies.

A hundred some odd years is a long time to wait for another World Series championship.

Maybe We’ll Find Each Other One Day

And it starts like this:

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is the song that I wanted to write for you. It is the song that I should write for you and maybe one day I shall. It is not an exaggeration to say that you are the song of my heart and that when you left it went silent.

I promised to be your knight and your protector. I promised to be your best friend and your lover. I told you that when you were sad I would kiss your tears away and rock you to sleep.

And I was and I did.

Some might suggest that it makes me less of a man to ask you to give me your hand again. Some might say that I give you too much power by doing so but I don’t think that is so. Maybe it is because I once tamed your heart and touched your soul. Maybe it is because I know that you remember how we learned together how to love and live more deeply than ever before.

Or maybe it is for none of those reasons. Maybe it is for all of those reasons. I really don’t spend much time thinking about how and why because this is not a math problem or some sort of scientific formula that must be followed or needs to be answered.

If I had to answer the question I would tell you to shut up and kiss me. Stop thinking and do. And when you did you would remember and you would know.

You would know that love is wild and that love is real. You would know that sometimes it is like standing in the eye of the storm. Everywhere you look there is wind, rain and lightning, except for that one place that we are standing together holding hands.

And sometimes you find yourself standing inside the storm and find yourself searching for shelter but if you can hold on long enough you always find it in the same place it was before.

Red dress, blue dress- it doesn’t matter because I don’t just love you. I fucking love you.

So here we are in the places we stand today farther apart than ever before and still as close as we once were. For it wouldn’t take but a moment for us to remember who we are apart and who we are together. It wouldn’t take but one kiss for our souls to soar and our hearts to surrender.

Sooner or later we shall put intellect aside and surrender to the point, purpose and passion that never left us. It may have gone dormant but not dead. Give it some water and sunshine and its petals will open wide and bloom as brightly as they ever have.

Come let me love you again and let’s resume our journey together. There is still much time and more than a few adventures to be had.

More Than A Memory

No one was more surprised at how things turned out.

I couldn’t have ever predicted we would meet or what would happen once we did.

It wasn’t just lust and it wasn’t just love. It was chemical, it was pheromones.

It was magic.

Unexpected and unplanned we turned life upside down and inside out.

Most of the memories are the kind that you can’t share because they are things that can only be appreciated and understood if experienced.

I don’t know how we found and lost each other and it feels foolish to say it happened more than once.

Hell, I can’t believe I found you once and lost you twice. Can’t understand or wrap my brain around how it all happened.

I just know there was life before you and life after you, expect after feels a whole lot emptier.

Sometimes I look outside my window and think about how lightning struck twice and how just when I thought you were gone we found each other again.

Meeting you obviously wasn’t impossible but improbable is an accurate description.

Some people say I overreacted to losing you and that I should just suck it up and move on.

I told the last person who suggested I just forget to try walking with two broken legs.

Doesn’t mean I didn’t want to or that I didn’t try to. It just means I understand what Garth was talking about when he said you’ll know she’ll be there in your dreams.

Seen you there more than once, had conversations that left me wondering why you weren’t there when I woke up.

Those moments haven’t just been limited to mornings because they aren’t limited to the tick-tock of the clock.

They come and go as they will.

Sometimes I hear your voice, smell your perfume or swear I feel your presence.

I know just how crazy it sounds and I look in the mirror and ask the face looking back at me if he wants to wear one of those special jackets with the arms that tie in the back.

He never takes me seriously, just mimics and mocks me.

Dude looks me in the eye and says he remembers how surprised I was when somehow I got you back.

Says any man who can survive a lightning strike ought to have more faith in higher powers and inexplicable moments.

It pulls a wry grin across my face and I nod my head.

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There had to millions of girls out there and of those millions had to be tens of thousands I could fall in love with and who could fall in love with me.

Why was it you.

Why was it us.

There aren’t good answers to these questions so I find myself saying the things I have said before.

Red dress, blue dress- it doesn’t matter because I don’t just love you. I fucking love you.

And the moment we kissed again I felt you melt into me and I knew you had fallen for me again without your having to say so.

Knew from that moment on that if anything happened it would take one kiss to remind you about whose arms you should be in and whose hand you should be holding.

What Comes Next?

I don’t know how we lost each other again or why we let it happen.

Don’t know how we could have been so dumb but my heart swears it still beats with yours and claims our souls have never stopped their eternal embrace.

Can’t say for certain what comes next but there are moments where I think of calling you and asking you to meet for coffee.

Moments where I think about how I’ll look you in the eye and say you have to kiss me.

Moments where I figure if you say no I’ll tell you we have to do it in the name of science to see what sort of chemical reaction it creates.

Would love to see if my theory is proven true.

My hand is empty without yours in it.

You ought to take it, after all it is offered in the name of science.

And if not, well maybe we’ll find each other one day.

(A shorter version ran here.)