The ‘Beauty’ Of Anonymity

This won’t be the last post I write about the beauty of anonymity and how sometimes it is nice to be able to put thoughts on paper without having to have big discussions with people that are referenced in them.

Been dancing around it in the other place because I don’t want to upset family members but soon the time will come where I’ll be able to write more freely there.

Not because of good things but because the docs will spell things out in greater detail and we’ll be allowed to discuss.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying the word is that the Big C has decided to make a new home in the body of the man who helped give me life.

And unless there are surprises, miracles or some combination of the two I am going to join a club whose membership I wish to reject.

But that is not my decision to make or an option that we are given.

Will It Help

One day you may find me next to the wolf, howling at the moon.

It might sound silly, but something about it under a starlit night sounds inviting and even soothing.

Will it help?

I don’t know.

It might be dumb, but it is better than going off the rails crazy.

Of course I haven’t tried the off the rails bit yet, so maybe inexperience will prove me wrong.

That is all for now.

The Wrong Reason To Blog

Got Dylan playing Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door flowing through my headphones and a healthy feeling of regret for having blown up at Steiner the Minor last night.

That kid of mine pushed all of my buttons and a few he didn’t know existed and saw a minor explosion.

It was a combination of fury, frustration and rage and I think he got his first real insight into why I have long said there is a line you never want to cross with me.

Since I promised to use the blog as a place to chronicle the moments of our lives and not just thoughts I’ll share a fragment of the event.

Someone might have stomped on a sandwich and thrown it. Someone might have said in a whisper that he wanted to destroy things and smiled while he said it would feel good to just let loose.

****

I apologized later on and told him he had been given many genetic gifts but the famous Steiner temper wasn’t one of them.

“I wasn’t afraid of you, but if I was still a little kid I might have been.”

I nodded my head and say I know. “I know myself and you couldn’t have pushed me like that when you were little. That doesn’t mean I am not responsible for my actions because I am, but relationships evolve.

You didn’t fight with me about some things then the way you do now.”

He nodded his head and we talked more.

anger

I know I sound like a grumpy old man when I wave my finger at other bloggers and suggest they are doing this for the wrong reason.

I know some people will push back and tell me it is not my place to say who or who shouldn’t blog. They’ll tell me it is wrong and obnoxious to say what others should or shouldn’t do and I am cool with that.

It gets old to hear/see/read the same old comments/complaints about how to build your readership to get a book deal or invited to be a brand ambassador/speaker.

I don’t say it out of blog envy or any sort of jealousy.

I could do more to market and promote my blog. I could spend more time trying to hang with the cooler kids and get myself invited to more events and participate in more opportunities.

But I don’t.

Twelve years into this I am on a different part of the blogging journey than I once was and my place isn’t as well marked as it once was, if it ever was.

Parent Bloggers & Young Kids

Sometimes I’ll apply for the sponsored posts because I figure if you want to pay me a couple of bucks to write about a product/service I am happy to do so.

I’ll check it out and give you my honest opinion and in exchange the fee will help cover some of the costs of running this joint.

A short while ago I got turned down for one and was told that the reason I wasn’t chosen is because I am not a traditional dad blogger.

I didn’t respond to their email or rant about how unfair they are online because there are bigger issues in my life.

The funny thing was I got pitched three more times that day to review products that are really geared towards parents of younger children than mine.

*****

If you ask me about potty training, strollers, infants and toys for young children I can tell you stories and share advice.

I have been there and done that…more than once.

But the truth is I haven’t changed a diaper on one of my kids in close to a decade. It is not something I think about except on the rare occasion.

My garage has an extensive collection of Thomas The Tank Engine and other cool toys for young kids but my kids don’t touch or look at those things anymore.

My sleepless nights aren’t caused by infants who can’t sleep but because I have a kid who is going to be driving soon, college tuition in the future and a Bat Mitzvah around the corner.

I started blogging when my son was 3, he’ll turn 16 this year.

Rolling Along With The Changes

Flip back through the pages and posts and you’ll find my thoughts about leaving my thirties and entering my forties.

You’ll see me write about saying goodbye to four grandparents too.

What is surreal to me is how much of my life has been covered here and how many big changes have come about.

What is surreal is how the boys and I are starting to talk about what we want to do for our fiftieth birthdays and how that went from being really old to something I can imagine turning.

Sometimes I flip back and see some of the posts where I griped about not being able to run like I wanted to and I laugh, because I was 35 then.

I could still play four days of basketball a week and be ok.

It might sound funny, but I remember that guy but I am not him anymore.

So much has happened, so many experiences have come and gone.

Life.

It changed me.

Or maybe I changed it.

Tastelife

I do my best to take advantage of my time in the driver’s seat.

My focus is upon doing the best I can to be the captain of my destiny and to take advantage of the opportunities that come along the road.

Blogging has been a huge, enormous and important part of it. It has helped me identify what is most important and critical to me.

Driving that Ferrari was exceptional and I only got to do it because of blogging.

But what I remember most is the combination of driving that car and the mile long smiles on my children’s’ faces after their time drifting in the Corvette.

Possessions can be taken, but memories and experiences are ours for a lifetime.

You Can’t Fear Failure

I told Jericho that if I knew how to sing the way I know how to write I would sing a song for her and that it was guaranteed to tear down all of the walls.

Maybe one or two of you will read the words I wrote in that link so very long ago, maybe you’ll understand what I mean what I say we met in a place that no longer exists as people we no longer or maybe not.

It is always nice to know that you are not alone and that people understand you.  Not always necessary, but reassuring.

Funny to look back upon those days and to hear the echoes of the past and to see how they connect to the echoes of the future knowing that who we once were isn’t indicative of who we are going to be or is it.

If you are the kind of person who believes there is something more than just random circumstance and that there might be something more to the interactions and engagement between people you might nod your head when I say the energy feels different now.

What Speaks To You

Someone spent a chunk of time reading Are You Hanging Out With Arnold Schwarzenegger?

I don’t know who or why they did, but I am grateful that I saw it in my stats and chose to revisit that post.

Why?

Because the video inside that post speaks to me, it resonates and moves me.

I relate to it and find it to be motivational and I need some extra motivation right now. I need a little kick-in-the-ass to push myself a little bit harder and go a little bit farther.

Life has been challenging and difficult as of late and I needed this reminder. I needed to take a moment to close my eyes and review my mental list of success and gratitude.

It is something I try to do on a regular basis.

Why?

Because I am impatient and I sometimes forget how far I have come. When the floor gave out in 2014 I hit every rock and shrub on the way down.

It felt like death by a thousand paper cuts and I was more than a little angry about it all. I didn’t expect to ever go through anything like that once, let alone twice.

Part of what drove me to dig my ass out of the rubble was fear of failing as a father and part of it was rage.

It was fury at being placed in that situation for a second time, both through no fault of my own. It was molten anger and frustration that stemmed from being told I wasn’t just good at what I did, I was excellent.

What is the point of being told you are excellent if you are going to get kicked to the curb.

There was a time when I wouldn’t write about these things in anything but the vaguest sort of terms because I wasn’t just dejected, I was embarrassed.

But I am not embarrassed anymore.

Got my head screwed on straight, in large part because of that gratitude and success list I mentioned before.

Stumblefail

When the kids ask me how I got through the hard times I’ll tell them it was a combination of being stubborn, lucky and determined.

Or one-third bullshit, two-thirds common sense, three-fifths horse sense and a lot of nonsense.

In other words it wasn’t any one thing, it was a lot of things but more than anything else it was my unwillingness to let failure beat me.

The Search For Perfect Lips

David Bowie is playing on iTunes. Life on Mars morphs into Lazarus and moves onto an Elvis singing If I Can Dream.

Somewhere in between listening to the tail end of Lazarus and the King’s song about hope I remember to provide a link to the post where I mentioned the search for perfect lips.

Some of you have encouraged me to keep posting links to old posts because you want me to point out my best stuff.

When I get those notes I always write back and thank you for your support. I always write back and ask you to tell me what you like to read and try to share something based upon what you have told me.

There are more than ten thousand posts here, a ridiculous number of words dedicated to a crazy assortment of tales.

Every time you inquire and ask for more detail I try to tell you about the crazy rabbit hole you are about to go down and explain I dislike most of what has appeared here because it doesn’t meet my standards.

I expect better from me and get irritated because I fall short of my expectations and grow more irritated when I see people I consider to have less talent get more from writing than I.

Ego is the double edged sword that cuts and pushes for more than just average work.

Why Blog

It is not just because I love to write and am compelled to keep posting but because I come across memories.

I find things like And Then There Were Three- Grandparents and remember times that were but are no longer.

For 42 years there was always one or more grandparents in my life and now five years have passed since there was at least one.

I come here and the echoes speak to me.

“Jack, do you know how your grandmother and I were married for 76 years? We compromised and I knew when to be deaf. It doesn’t hurt that your grandmother has a great ass for a 90 something year-old woman.”

My grandfathers were characters.

I remember how one cousin told me how my crazy grandfather must have been a challenge to live with.

I told him he never saw how grandma and grandpa used to look at each other or how they would fall asleep holding hands.

Nor did he see what would happen if grandma glared at grandpa. It rarely happened, but no one could cut him short like she could.

Seventy-six years of marriage and had grandma not died who knows how much longer…

This is why I blog.

It keeps the memories fresh and close.

It is how if necessary I travel through time.

You Can’t Fear Failure

Fear is the motor that powers failure. Manage your fear and you’ll manage your failure just fine.

What do you think?

The Walking Dead Of Blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hell, sometimes I even write them letters here.

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

The Walking Dead Of Blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Door Closes & Another Opens

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe You Shouldn’t Blog About Your Broken Penis

flight
She told me to sit down, climbed onto my lap the same way she had done when she was really little and then put her head on my shoulder.

I closed my eyes and listened to her breathe and for a moment she was a toddler again and not 11 going on 30.

She fell asleep in seconds and I wondered what kind of day she had been through. This is the girl who screamed at me that I shouldn’t treat her like a baby because she is almost a teenager.

I waited a few minutes to see if she would wake up and then she exhaled and I felt her whole body relax.

In the old days that was the sign that I could put her in her crib or bed and know she was done for the evening, but that girl didn’t have homework and this one did.

Not to mention that I had things I had to get done, so I did my best to stand up without waking her so that I could carry her to her room.

We made it halfway up the stairs before she woke up and told me to put her down.

“Why are you carrying me?”

“Because you fell asleep and I figured your bed was a better place to take a nap. It is easier for me to beat up the monsters when they come out of your closet or from under your bed.”

She gave me a smile followed by a full eye roll, “I can do that now daddy.”

“I know you can, but I am always here and I know how to listen.”

“I know.”

Maybe You Shouldn’t Blog About Your Broken Penis

In the good old days of the blog I could share stories like She Broke My Penis without any concern because the kids and their friends weren’t nose deep in electronics.

There wasn’t any concern about whether someone would Google someone else and come across material that could be embarrassing or used to embarrass but that was then and this is now.

You never worry about infants or toddlers sharing Too Much Information- The Girl in the Men’s Room because that is not part of the gig.

Back in those days you worried about making sure they didn’t choke on a carrot, run into the street or get lost in a store.

Now I look back on those years and smile because even though the kids required more hands on attention in some ways it was easier because they were always being watched by an adult.

There was always a grown up monitoring things and now there isn’t.

Now there are lots of moments where they are on their own and the concerns about what they are doing and who they are doing it with are different.

I know you can, but I am always here and I know how to listen.Click To Tweet

If you are among the 17 long time readers you know I am not an advocate of wrapping our children in bubble wrap and that I believe they need to learn how to fail.

You know I believe in giving them the tools and resources to do things for themselves and that my children have been taught to advocate for themselves.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about them or that I don’t make it clear that I am available to help them either.

The World Is Great But Sometimes Scary

One of the first things my grandfather said to me after my oldest was born is that you never stop worrying about your children.

You never stop watching and hoping that they continue to make smart choices and that nothing bad happens. He told me that it is not something you think about consciously because if you did you’d never be able to relax or go about your business.

It made sense to me then and it makes even more sense to me now.

I am good at not actively worrying about them or things because I know that statistically the really bad stuff is unlikely to happen.

But then shit happens and I wonder.

Someone I knew was murdered last week. He was shot to death in his apartment.

I don’t know many details and in some ways they don’t matter because the bottom line is his life was cut short because of something stupid.

I have been thinking about him and the stupid crap that comes up in life all week, like how horrified I was to realize that I can tell you about three different people I knew who were murdered.

Those people are separate from the list of people I know who died young from accidents and or terminal illnesses.

Is This Normal?

I often wonder if it is normal for someone like me to be able to list so many people who have died young in circumstances that would crassly be described as “shit happens.”

Maybe.

I am one of those people who has spent his life involved in groups and organizations. I know a lot of people so maybe that provides a large enough sample set to say that this is sad, but normal.

I really don’t know. I don’t have any data I can use to determine which way to roll with this one way or another.

All I am certain of is that it feels like a lot and that I feel badly that so many life stories were cut short.

I suppose all of this in total is part of why this isn’t just a dad blog anymore.

The Evolution Of A Blog

Call it the evolution of a blog and blogger. Everything changes and though there are things I miss about old fashioned blogging I enjoy and appreciate the places these changes have taken.

There is joy  in writing about what happens when the rhythm of life is disturbed just as there is joy in writing about the rhythm of life.

These days I like looking at what my stats show as being my most popular blog posts because I want to figure out why so many of them seem have been written several years ago.

Is it because my writing was better then or because I worked harder to market and promote the blog?

I don’t know.

I think that my writing has improved and that while some of those posts are pretty good I feel confident that there have been equally good or better written since then.

Blogging is a funny thing, you never know what is going to hit or what won’t.

*****

I always say that whatever age my children are is my favorite and I mean that. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t really enjoy listening to my little girl fall asleep on my shoulder again.

Simple times and simple pleasures.