Day 4 of the 30 day challenge. A letter to the person who influenced me the most

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To my biggest influence:

It is difficult to limit to one page how profoundly you have influenced me in so many ways.

You were hard on me. You expected me to always present my best. You told me that how I look, act, dress, smell you name it mattered. That I had no second chance for a first impression.

You were the guy who defined work ethic. I felt guilty not helping you out. But I didn’t know how hard it was for you to work all day and slam down a quick dinner and then go work on the house until late at night. I would someday. When I had a family of my own and I wanted things for them.

To say that you came from humble beginnings is an understatement. Dirt floors and plastic on the windows is more than humble, it’s poor. Most of your family still live like that, but not you. You wanted better and you worked for it. It didn’t require a job on Wall Street, you drove a truck and never said no to overtime. They called you the “rich guy” because you accomplished something they never could by doing what they weren’t willing. You taught me not to dislike them for their contempt, but forgive them for they don’t know better. They were family and you can’t choose family.

You defined optimism. I always heard you say “things will always work out”. You never knew that I laughed you off inside as I nodded in agreement with you. When a co-worker stepped up and donated me a kidney, saving my life, I had to wonder how you knew. What, after the hardscrabble life that you had endured gave you such optimism and faith in people? When I came around to this mindset my life improved, or I just became more open to positive thought and making the most of it.

You were a great friend. Everyone could count on you, some even took advantage. It didn’t matter, if helping someone was the right thing to do then you did it. I take friendship very seriously thanks to you.

You invested in people and advertised for them. If you used a company, especially a local guy, then you advertised them. You told everyone you knew to go there. Of course, if they pissed you off then you could do some serious damage. I find myself doing this as well when I like someone I want to help them. I promote them.

You were a real nice guy. That was good enough for you. And that was the highest compliment you could give someone, to call them a nice or a good guy. They may not have appreciated that distinction but to me, if I die and someone remembers me as a “good guy” I will smile down.

You left me before I could tell you how many times you were right. How many times the situation played out exactly as you said it would if I didn’t take your advice. It was your job to be right, it was mine to listen to you. It would have been nice to sit down when you were old and grey and tell you to your face.

I didn’t think you would die before I could.

That sense of optimism about life, that you taught me, didn’t allow for the possibility that the retirement you worked so hard for and deserved so badly, would be snatched from you.

So I am telling this to your stone. You were the best. Part of me died with you. You are my father and I miss you more than you could ever imagine.

Your son

30 day challenge day 3…letter to my best friend

download (12)Dear Friend:

You are on the very exclusive 3 AM friend list. The guy that I could call at 3 AM and you would come and do anything to help me. Your friendship knows no bounds, not that I am likely to test that statement.

Miles now separate us but I think of you often. Of course, you are always reachable by phone or by text. You will always answer no matter how busy you are because that’s the kind of guy you are. You have an uncanny ability to know when I am struggling and calling me. I don’t know how you do it. When we see each other your first reaction is often “are you ok?” Sometimes I am not ok, you are correct. Sometimes I need to hear the voice of reason and reality. I can always count on you for the truth. And I need that. Because you’re also really smart, way smarter than me, but you would never rub that in my face.

I miss coming over for Scotch and Cigars. I feel like I’m pulling you away from your wife and kids. But you need the “me time”.  I have such high regard for you as a family man but I also know that you have the kids dumped in your lap the second you walk through the door and you need to have an hour and a half distraction. I’m happy to provide it, no need to thank me for it. It sometimes bothers me how she treats you and yet you never say a bad word about her. You tell me what bothers you over a cigar but you never stoop to insult her, I admire you for that. You’re a good man who continues to put everyone else first and you don’t have a mean bone in your giant body.

We are unlikely friends. We both joined “the club” at the same time and went through the courses at the same pace and emerged best friends. It’s probable that we would like each other, but not be like brothers in 3 months. The one thing we had in common was that we were both very open people that appreciated lack of pretense and honesty. I needed a friend like you and the timing was perfect.

Since then you have supported me, visited me when I was sick, invited me to your beautiful home and listened to me, in particular, last year as my life completely fell apart. You have never judged me and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Please know that your friendship has sustained me during those times when I thought I had no one in my life to turn to and I hope that we continue on this path. I only hope that someday there will be something that I can do for you, Please know that I will so with the entirety of my resources If I am able.

I hope you share my attitude that good friends pick up where they left off, no matter how much time has passed. I am working some shit out right now and I’m doing the best I can with it and I may not be the friend I want to be for a while. But when I am, you will be the first person I call. Until then, the phone is all that I have I hope it is good enough.

If I die tomorrow, you will go down as one of the very few people who really knew me. Many think they do but they don’t. You made the effort.

Peace and love man,

your bud

talking to strangers

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While walking by I say “how are you”

Your look tells me you don’t know what to do

I don’t blame you, I’m scared too

I’m on the lookout for the drop of the next shoe

But consider this, my skeptical stranger

I may be the good guy who poses no danger

I wish I had a badge, some kind of label

That says “I wouldn’t hurt you, I’m simply not able”

But a simple greeting knocks you way off track

Once I’m past you there’s no getting it back

“Your loss”, I will say, under my breath

I will continue to do this until the day of my death

 

Someone has to start a chain of good will

It takes little effort and no special skill

Let’s offset the anger, the hatred and division

With kindness and empathy embark on a mission

Effective immediately, as early as today

Let’s change our thinking and find a new way

To talk and discuss, with respect to each other

Not yell, argue and fight with our brother

This challenge is doable, but not for the weak

Can you halt and taste your words before you speak?

We need to do something, the situation is dire

If cooler heads don’t prevail…well here comes the fire

It’s really quite simple, the words easy to say

Ready, here we go…”have a nice day!”

Day 2 of the 30 day challenge. A letter to myself as a child

Open letter to my younger self

Dear younger me:

Your life will probably not turn out as you expect. Nothing ever does. I am not saying it will be better or worse, just different. Don’t force it. A lot will depend on the decisions you make. Please spend time on your decision making, it will pay dividends.

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.  You can only get experience by living your own life so I can’t make it easy for you. You are going to make mistakes. You will learn from all of them. Cuts and bruises are going to happen if you live your life. A good scar is the beginning of a great story. Try to keep your mistakes to a minimum. Know a bad idea when you see it. Bad judgment comes from your gut, so listen to it. If your gut tells you something is a bad idea it probably is. You have it, I know you do. When you were a Junior in High School Billy and Rick tried to make you get in the car after we had been drinking all night. You said no, they called you a pussy. But two mothers had to identify headless bodies at the morgue that night, not three. Please remember that night it will serve you well.

Listen to your father. He knows. There are going to be times that you think he has no idea what you are going through, you will be wrong. When you are impulsive, he will want to slow you down. Hear him out. Ask him about his childhood, it will make you understand why he is like he is. He doesn’t always show it, but you’re the best thing that ever happened to him. Don’t wait until all you have is a gravestone to tell him how much you loved him. Tell him now.

Don’t be ashamed of where you came from. There are some uncles and cousins that are white trash embarrassment’s but they are family and a reminder of what you could have been if your father didn’t work so hard to escape it. They are where you started, not where you will end up. When they call you the rich kid because your father worked hard, joined a union and bought a house it’s their journey. Not yours.

Don’t pick your friends. Just be yourself and it will happen. The best people in high school are the ones that talked to everybody. Don’t wait until after high school to learn this. There will be a time when Nerds are cool.

Don’t shy away from hard work. Someday someone will ask you where you learned to work like you do. You will thank your Dad. And you will know that they are impressed by you. You will have friends whose Daddy’s will buy them shiny new cars. You will work for yours, and because of that, it will be nicer than theirs. Hard work will give you something you will always savor and desire, the feeling of accomplishing something. Hopefully, you will never lose that feeling.

You will love the ladies. When looking for “the one” look for cute and nice. You will find that Hot often means bitch. The hot ones always look for the next, better deal. The cute and nice one, if you treat her properly will be looking at you and she will be yours to lose. After the looks are gone, you will still love her for the nice. And you will suffer a broken heart, maybe more than once, I can’t tell you how many. It’s ok to marry the 2nd runner-up.

  • Be a good friend. It’s a rare and valuable commodity.
  • Be kind to others. It’s free.
  • Talk to old people. You will love them and they will love you.
  • Listen more than you talk. It will serve you well and people will wonder what you are thinking about and it will piss them off.
  • Don’t argue with stupid people. You lose IQ Points and they don’t absorb them.
  • Wherever you are, that’s the place to be. Don’t look around when you’re with someone. They hate that.
  • Always tell people how you feel about them. They need to know. It might make someone’s day.  It might save their life. And it might be someone’s last day. You don’t know and that’s the bitch of it.

The rest you are going to have to figure out for yourself. Be a good person and life will be good. Your legacy is how you are remembered by others. Work towards building that legacy starting…now.

Oh yeah, don’t let bitterness drag you down. It’s like an anchor and it will sink you. Let some things go, you’ll thank me for it.

Fondly,

Your future self

Goodbye to the “Work Friend”

The wake was early, viewing 8:30-10:00 and funeral immediately after. I had a doctor’s appointment at 11:30 so I couldn’t go to the funeral. I was there at 9. I had to leave at 7 AM to do it but I made it.

I was pleased to see the turnout. For a guy that we thought was a bit of a loner, he had a lot of people come out for him today. Even though I have known since Tuesday of his passing, and memorialized him in a post yesterday, it didn’t fully sink in that he was really gone. As I stood over his open casket it became very real.

We said goodbye to a very good man today.

I wouldn’t call John a friend, more like a work friend. I don’t know what he did on the weekends but I always suspected it was boring. But Monday through Friday we had a great work relationship that started a little rocky, we had very different personalities but grew into one of mutual respect and personal familiarity. He was there when I started and we walked out the door together when the company shut its doors. It saddens me now that he didn’t cross my mind much after we said goodbye that day. Like a said, more of a work friend.

Of course, I didn’t know he would be dead in 18 months.

John was a nice guy. We all know the “dead mystique”, everyone is nice when they’re gone. I’m sure there are people who thought that Jeffrey Dahmer was a nice guy. There’s no accounting for taste (see what I did there?). But John really was. He never spoke badly of anyone. He turned and left if people began to gossip. He was always willing to help. He cared for his mother tirelessly for years. He called his brother every night at 8pm. He took care of himself. And the aneurysm that shot to his brain on Monday night didn’t give a shit about any of that.

I’m glad that I tell people how I feel about them, of course, it can go the other way also. I have lost too many people in my life and I am sick of talking to tombstones. It’s too late when you’re saying it to a piece of marble. I know that on more than one occasion I told John how much I appreciate him, and he scoffed it off in his self-deflecting manner. But I take solace knowing that I did.

Death is so random. It doesn’t care who you are, what you did or how you did it. Good people die young and bad people die old. It makes belief in God difficult if you are one to try to make sense of things. I am so comfortable in my not knowing how it works that I will continue to tell people how much I appreciate them. Because tomorrow may be too late.

The guy in the corner cubicle

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you were the quiet guy in the corner cubicle. The guy who nodded shyly as I was introduced around the office the day I started.

you were the guy with the tedious job that you were good at, or so you were told because no one else wanted to do it.

You wore the same outfit on the same day each week.

We jokingly called you “Rain Man”, not for your astounding intellect but for how flustered you got when you had too much on your plate. I felt bad for calling you that sometimes.

you would end up being someone I dealt with extensively every day.

You were the guy that took a while to make small talk.

you were the guy that I made a real effort to understand in order to better work with you. It was worth the effort.

you were the guy that when I spent time with him you loosened up a little.

you were the guy that started poking his head in my office to just talk politics. You were a news junkie like me.

you were the guy who gave me a box of newspapers from the 60’s because you knew I loved history.

you were the guy who I definitely noticed when you were not at work, which was rare.

you were the guy who lived with his mother and I suspect was a virgin.

You were the guy that asked me to keep him in mind when the company closed and we parted ways after 8 years.

you were the guy that got a new job finally after almost a year on unemployment.

you were the guy that didn’t show up for his first day.

you were the guy that was found dead in his house that night.

a guy that I am glad that I knew.

a guy that I am going to miss.

you were the quiet guy in the corner cubicle. Your name was John

Open letter to my significant other …day 1 of the 30 day challenge

Day one…an open letter to my significant other

 

To my wife:

I hate to bring this up but I have to ask you a question.

Do you see us as a couple? We are married, legally, but that seems to be where it ends. We are far apart, figuratively and literally. I now live 100 miles away so we are actually apart, and when we are together we are not really together.

When we separated 10 months ago it was a “financial separation”. We couldn’t afford to live together anymore. It was a horrible moment in my life. The family got along pretty good in that house. Which is good because the bank took the other one.

We had always struggled financially but for 6 years we had kept the waterline just below our noses. Our home, while only a rental, was warm and accommodating. For the first time all of our children had their own rooms. We had a table to eat dinner as a family, 3 times a year. I had my own room because we haven’t shared a bed in 15 years. I slept on a sofa of course but it was still in my own room. We kept the fighting to a minimum. My favorite part was that every night I would listen for the front door and I would know that all of my kids, whether I got the opportunity to talk to them before they went to bed or not, were home safe. I loved that feeling and I miss it more than anything.

You had it all planned out, almost too well. When I lost my job and my income went from just enough to nothing you knew just what to do, as if you had thought about it for a while. The oldest 2 would go to your mother’s while still in college (not a bad deal for them) and you would move in with your best friend in NH with our 2 youngest. The same best friend that you basically admitted that you had chosen over me about 10 years ago. As far as where I would live, I really appreciate how you unceremoniously told me to “find someplace to live”. But I did. I sucked it up and moved in with my friend and his family. I fucking hated how you handled it but hey that’s life.

After my last hospital stay my anger subsided a little. You were very diligent in visiting me, pestering the doctors for information and I felt supported. But when I was released, moved in with my mother 100 miles away and applied for SSDI we were reduced to a schedule of seeing each other twice a month and speaking once a week, if at all.

When I visit, I drive 2 hours to see you and our youngest two. I usually catch you as you’re heading out the door to work. That’s not a coincidence. I try to see our youngest boy, the popular and hard-working high-school senior who is busy with his life and almost never available when I am. He and I used to talk for hours at home about music, food, and anything that came up. Now I never see him. I get a couple of hours with our youngest, the beautiful 15-year-old who has not adjusted to life in her new “home” and sits in her room alone for hours playing on her phone when you’re not home. I spent so many hours hanging with her, we miss each other like crazy. She tells me all the time. I can only spend a couple of hours there because I have to drive another 45 minutes south to see our oldest 2. I can usually coordinate a dinner or a coffee with our wonderful oldest daughter who I have the most complex relationship with. I am proud that I salvaged our relationship, for a while I thought I had lost her. And I have to find a way to meet with our oldest son who I so lovingly refer to as “mini-me”. He’s like my best friend. But between school and work, he’s never around so getting time with him can also be a long shot. Then I have a 2-hour drive home. It’s a long day and it is very unfulfilling.

I recall my now defunct career as a series of really hard jobs, some that I hated, some not so much. I worked really hard and I put in a lot of hours. I put up with a tremendous amount of shit and held back a lot of punches and urges to walk out because my family needed me. I always believed that someday I would break through and make some real money. And you, for your part raised our 4 children and did a very good job. I will always respect you for it. We both spent too much money, you needed to eat at restaurants with your friend (you can only have one person in your life at a time and it was always her not me) 5 days a week for your “mental health”. And I suppose I hit the pub a few times too many as a reward for my thankless work at companies that never gave a fuck about me despite the blood and guts that I gave them. But your best use of our money was when you went to college. And did nothing with it. You spent a buttload of money on a degree that you never intended to use because you wanted to spend more time with your little friend. Don’t you think that medical coding degree could have come in handy as our family’s finances collapsed? To your credit, you did give me the satisfaction of admitting this last week on the phone but a lot of good it is doing us now. I hope all of those fun days in class were worth it.

You always accused me of having affairs. You couldn’t imagine how a man could go so long without sex. Yet you were the one who shut it off. Do you realize that it has been over 7 years since we touched each other? And I have never cheated on you, despite multiple opportunities. Is there a man alive that would go that long without straying? But I didn’t because I’m honest. A man doesn’t cheat. And I know what would have happened if I did, I would lose the only thing I have left, the respect of my children.

Do you remember about 6 years ago when I told you I wanted to move in with my friend because I was tired of the fighting? We had just had a terrible argument in front of our kids and I decided that I couldn’t continue like this. Your first reaction was to tell me “good luck seeing the kids.” I knew then that you were the despicable type that would play the kids against me. And I then knew if I ever cheated on you, justified or not, you would tear me apart to my kids. And for that, I will never forgive you. But I stayed.

Yet I feel sorry for you. I worry about you. I might stop short at saying I love you but I don’t hate you. You did a lot for me when we were younger and I am truly grateful. But we are two different people now. We grew in very different directions.

If we were to come into some money tomorrow would you want to move back in with me? Do I want to go back to sleeping on the sofa? Would the fighting start, would the kids again be forced to take your side and gang up on me in any argument for fear of your retribution? Yes, that’s right, they know that I’m the one that they can shit on knowing that I’ll forgive them. Yes, you’re that parent.

You once told me that your worst fear is to be alone. As your husband and a man of his word, I feel obligated to care for you regardless of how well we get along. And I will. But I have to ask, at what point does my happiness matter? I have spent very little time on my own happiness and I may not bring it up again. But what are we doing here? I don’t have any plans that hang on your answer, I just wonder if you think about this like I do.

Are we a couple?

Your husband