Don’t Cry Over Unfulfilled Potential

Can you see me in Centerfield? Nope, because you can’t see Centerfield.

I am not blogging naked today. Confession, I don’t blog naked…often. Really you could say that I do it…almost never.

Used to have an English teacher who would go ballistic if we used Almost Never in any of our written work. I almost never ignored her rules, except for when I would ask questions. If I had a question I liked to begin by saying, “Mrs. Hackleshmackle, I almost never ask questions…..” She loved me more than most teachers and less than a few others.

Don’t ask me to explain what that means or why I do what I do when I do it because I almost never give you a straight answer. Or is it because I almost never make up an answer. Hell, I can’t remember. The other day I was guilty of messing with a commenter at Scary Mommy’s place. She said that when you speak to children you should make a point to not use the word “because” when you tell why they should or shouldn’t do something.

So I told them they are wrong…”because.”

Yes it was obnoxious and juvenile, but sometimes I am both of those things. Want to know why? Because.

Ok, that is not really true. I am almost never obnoxious and juvenile.

Words With Friends

Lately I have been getting my ass kicked by my friends and their fucking words. It irks me. I am a writer who has a massive vocabulary. That is not bragging, it is fact. I almost never get stumped for what word to use and yet these people and their little tricks are killing me. Double and triple words and all sorts of other crap keep beating my ass.

It bothers me.

Why?

Because.

I Could Have Been A Contender

I am listening to the soundtrack to The Dark Knight now. It is in a word…awesome. I suspect that the edgy feeling it creates is feeding the edge and giving me a bigger attitude. Jason and or Erin said that when I write with rage it is better. I take that to mean that they like the angry Jack better than kinder, softer daddy Jack.

So a thousand years ago I was a kid who loved to play baseball. I was good. Led the league in home runs a couple of times. Could run and field with the best of them. Had one hell of an arm, probably still do.

Was certain that I would grow up to play centerfield for the Dodgers. It didn’t happen or did it. That is the beauty of being a writer. I can pretend that it did. I can write one hell of a story about my career. I almost never talk about my career here.  Want to know why?

Because.

Because, My Kids & Potential

My children are among the most articulate kids you’ll meet. Damn if I didn’t help spawn two natural orators who can talk your ears off. Granted Old Jack the keyword stuffing daddy blogger is a mite biased, but they are smart.

How do I know this? Because I am smarter than most people and they are smarter than I am. Damn Dark Knight music is really making me pour on the snark and sarcasm. Not just here but elsewhere.

I talk to the children about potential. I want them to understand that my goal for them is to help them fulfill their potential. The hard part for me sometimes is trying to find the balance between pushing really hard and not hard enough.  You see one of the challenges of being a parent is not turning your issues into issues for your children and unfulfilled potential is one that chaps my hide.

That is because I think I have fallen short a few times. I think I have made my life harder because I didn’t do a couple of things and I don’t want that for them. I really don’t have many regrets but those I do are massive.

Don’t want to focus on them. Don’t want to get lost chasing ghosts of people and places that are dead. I want to take those experiences and suck the life out of them. I want to live intentionally and purposefully. I want to focus on what I learned and use that to live my dreams. I want to take that experience and use it to help the children live their dreams.

Books and Newsletters

I need to carve out a bit more time to finish writing my books. I need to finish them because I need to finish them. It just has to happen because it bothers me that it hasn’t. But there is a difference between want and will. Want is something that has no deadline whereas will sets a date. There is a date for the books, they will happen.

The newsletter refers to the newsletter I have started here. People are subscribing but I haven’t produced the first edition yet. Haven’t done it because I wanted to reach a certain number of subscribers first.  Since it seems like it is going to take a bit longer to hit 156,983 subscribers I think that I need to adjust my schedule and produce the first edition.

The reason why is simple…because. Truthfully there are other reasons but it is late and I almost never get to bed before 1 AM so tonight we are going to make it happen.

Thank you again to our servicemen and their families. I appreciate your sacrifices and am grateful for them. Happy Memorial Day to all.

Memorial Day- Thank You To Our Service People

The children and I had a long talk about both Veteran’s and Memorial Day and why we observe them. I want them to understand that there is a point and purpose to having  a military. I want them to recognize that when we say that Freedom isn’t Free it is not some foolish statement that people just say. I want them to understand the difference between patriotism and flag waving.  I want them to recognize that even if we don’t agree with the government we respect those who give back for us.

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His name was Mark. He was a 36 year-old army medic who was waiting to head off to Afghanistan. I remember talking to him about it and asking if he was eligible to a longer stay stateside. He had already done two tours in Iraq and it was clear to me that his time over there had hurt him. It wasn’t the physical pain that I worried about. He had been injured in Baghdad but not so severely that he couldn’t play basketball with us.

I suppose that you could call us gym friends. We didn’t hang out together outside of the gym, but inside it wasn’t unusual to find us together. We liked to play on the same team. Even though he was far more talented than I was our skills complemented each other. In a half court game all we needed was one other solid role player and we were tough to beat.

It was sort of a funny match to me because before he became a solider I wanted to smack him silly. He was younger than I was and obnoxious in a way that just set me off. But the service changed him or maybe it is better to say that whatever he saw/experienced changed him. I can’t really tell you what that was because I only know small pieces of it.

What I do know is that prior to 9/11 he was a software engineer who was single and earning a lot of cash. But after the towers fell he felt an obligation to give something back and he chose the military. Off he went to boot camp and to wherever it was Uncle Sam sent him afterwards.  Must have been gone for quite a while because I don’t think that I saw him again until after his first tour of Iraq.

It feels a little foolish describing it like some sort of concert tour because presumably a tour is fun while war is not.

The guy who came back from that first tour was very different than the one I knew before that. He would tell me that he didn’t know what to do with himself and that he couldn’t sleep. I told him that I would listen to whatever stories he felt comfortable sharing and suggested that he find someone to speak with who understood what he had been through. I have seen and experienced some very nasty things but combat isn’t one of them.

At the end of May 2009 I left the gym. Mark hadn’t left for Afghanistan yet. I told him that I was cancelling my membership and asked if I could buy him a beer. Said that we should exchange email addresses and that when he had a moment he could drop me a line and tell me if he had kicked Osama’s ass for me yet.

He never showed up at the bar so I didn’t buy him that beer I wanted to. I didn’t have a cellphone number for him or an email address- nor did I know anyone who did.  The upshot of it all is that I don’t know what happened to Mark. But I hope that he kept his head down and his ass out of the line of fire.

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I am grateful and appreciative to all of our soldiers past and present. Medical advances are saving a lot of them who in wars past wouldn’t have come home. But I wonder and worry about them. We might be doing a better job of saving their lives but what happens to their minds. It can’t be good. I just hope that Uncle Sam does a better job of providing them with resources that can give those who need help the assistance that they require.

On a related note I have been thinking about how Israel celebrates their memorial day, Yom Hazikaron. There are a number of different events but the one I want to highlight is the siren that goes off all over the country so that people can observe a national moment of silence. Take a look at the videos below and you’ll see traffic come to a halt and people standing still.

It is a nice gesture to see everyone stop and recognize the sacrifices that were made. Thank you again to all those who serve, we appreciate it.