If one were to notice someone’s absence it would be safe to assume that they haven’t been up to much. Much worth writing about, anyway. The opposite is true for me. It’s not that I have nothing to write about, it would be safe to say that I have too much. Where do I begin?
For a guy with nothing to do I’m pretty dang busy.
My detailing gig is taking off. Lots of word of mouth referrals from happy customers. I do a very meticulous job for a reasonable price and people appreciate it. It has supplemented my income a bit and I expect it to grow further. I actually say no to work now.
Dialysis is a drag and I have been feeling pretty crappy lately. I’m not worried about it, it happens every few months. I am really anemic right now and they don’t know why. I suppose I should be worried about that but I’m sure it will work out. It always does. My teflon coating is still intact. For now I just have to push through the moments of pain and weakness.
I was elected Master of my Masonic Lodge this past month. My term begins this month and I’m terrified. The amount of work involved in running a lodge is surprising but the motivating factor is that my brothers have entrusted me with leading them for the next year and I can’t let them down.
The family is great. The kids are thriving, the ex got a new job (for a person with Borderline Personality Disorder change is devastating so this is good news) and is doing better financially. Everyone is happy and crushing this thing we call life. Being a proud Dad has never been easier.
Well, I think I’m caught up now. Now that I’ve touched on the broad strokes, I’ll start to dig down on the small but beautiful details.
I sat down yesterday morning to begin a post in continuation of the one I had previously published and I just couldn’t find my groove so I saved it as a draft and turned the computer off. I’m glad I did because today I got a phone call from a dear friend and in the course of it not only did I figure out what I wanted to say but I found myself with a renewed interest in my blog.
I suppose it would be beneficial to first state that she is a fellow blogger. In every sense, she is the perfect person to having spoken to today. On so many levels. To begin with, I love the sound of her voice. In addition, she always makes me laugh. When I’m done laughing I then find myself with something to think about. Lastly, she always revives my faith in people.
You see, when I first started my blog I had very few readers and I really didn’t care. I was in a real bad place, I felt alone and at the very bottom. The blog was akin to the cliched Shrink’s Couch where I unburdened myself in relative obscurity and anonymity with the end result feeling as I’ve talked to someone. Then people started reading. They were drawn to my story. Not that I told it particularly well but because I was so unflinching and honest. In a world of fluff and bullshit I bared my ass to the internet and it resonated with some people. Soon enough I became actual friends with 3 of them and we got together for a day of conversation and dinner. I am proud to say that I am still communicating with all of them.
Today’s conversation was with a woman that I like to joke with about being the female version of me. Or I’m the male version of her. Whatever. Point is, she gets me. She knows me well and has a history of knowing when I am in need of a pick me up and she always reaches out. On this day, it wasn’t that I was not doing well but yea, something was bugging me and we got to the bottom of it. That is what a real friend does. Over the miles or right next door, a friend knows when you need them. Thank you.
How did she inspire me to get back up and blogging again, you ask? She reminded me that in the beginning, before followers and stats were even a concern, I told my story. It was a story that enough people enjoyed or at least felt compelled to hear the rest of it. I thought I had told my story and I have been struggling for things to write about. Until today. This is my journal, my outlet, my place to tell my story that is still evolving, twisting and turning, and changing before my eyes. It is a journal.
As long as there are days in my life, my story still needs to be told. Hold on, shit’s gonna get bumpy around here.
Friends. A dumb show from the 90’s about a bunch of New Yorker’s whose lives I couldn’t give a shit about? No. The often meaningless connections you make on social media so that you can have the opportunity to view every stupid meal they post for your viewing displeasure? No. Those few people in your life that are always there for you and remind you in your darkest hour that you’re not alone? YES. A triumphant and resounding YES.
If valued and meaningful connections were currency I would be up there on Forbes’s list of wealthiest people. I am so fortunate to be at the age, or level of maturity if you will, that I recognize the value of quality over quantity in life.
I have an amazing circle, I call it my support network. Between my Masonic brothers, many of whom are as close to me as actual brothers, to my many friends dating back to High School, some amazing connections from jobs past and social groups like mountain bikers that despite my inability to ride remain my friends, to others that have just fortunately come into my life, I always have the luxury of being supported and propped up when too tired to stand. It’s not a huge circle, but it’s a good one.
It is not a one way street, I am a loyal and dedicated friend in return.
If you find yourself devoid of joy, wallowing in the negativity of today’s climate and feeling overwhelmed with the increasing darkness, there is a cure. Grab your phone and scroll through your contacts. Find a name that brings a smile to your face and call them. In the process of making their day brighter I can almost guarantee that they will make yours as well.
But don’t just use the phone, be available in person to those around you. Cell phones make us closer to those far away, but more distant to those next to us.
Just a thought, enjoy your Sunday and may you make a new friend or reconnect with a old one today. It just may make your day.
People say things. Stupid things. All the time. If I wasn’t careful my eye rolling would cause a permanent medical condition. Fortunately I’m getting better at tuning them out. With the exception of one phrase…I hate it. “People suck.” No. They. Don’t. Please stop.
I’ve posted about this before. But I need to again.
99% of people are good. It’s the 1% that make the news and if all we watch is the news, and not Main St. America then we are not going to know the truth. The truth is found in the local tavern, told over the back fence with neighbors, the local coffee shop, at the water cooler at work. People are for the most part good at heart, they are just easily manipulated because they are, at their very heart, Human. Humans make mistakes, we’re not perfect.
I have had a person donate a vital organ to me. I have seen people with only ten dollars in their pocket donate 5 of it to a charity dear to them. I’ve known people who have toiled in a soup kitchen or food pantry every single weekend of the year without looking for so much as a thank you. I could go on. But I won’t. You get the point.
One of the most amazing thing about the internet is the connections that we make. I have made actual friendships, with the exception of the blessed few that I have met in person, that are real and meaningful. I am occasionally surprised and honored when a virtual friend or blogger notices my absence, which of late has been the rule, not the exception. It is an honor none the less when someone notices when you are not around. I have to come clean as to why my posting on social media and the blogosphere has been so infrequent.
As Bruce Banner, AKA the Incredible Hulk, famously said…”You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
I’ve been in a bad place.
I have friends that share very different politics. One in particular is a polar opposite of me politically but I read him just the same.(You know who you are). He is a beacon of reason and open-mindedness despite his world view being maddening to me. He doesn’t judge me for mine, he allows me to be me.
The problem is, being me has been difficult lately. The social and political climate is infuriating to me and I hate how people are turning on one another. The anger and resentment at watching my friends, family and country embroiled in partisan and identity politics has been consuming me. I, like my beloved community, was drifting in the wrong direction. It made me angry and hostile and I found myself caught up in it. I didn’t like the way I felt. I was tired.
Tired of politics. Tired of the arguing. Tired of people digging in. Tired of open mouths and closed minds Tired of blind hatred and senseless bigotry. Tired of senseless destruction. Tired of disinformation and agendas. Tired of all of it. Tired of being angry.
Then one day I caught myself.
I knelt down at the water’s edge and I prayed for tolerance and an abundance of reason to guide me. I further asked for the strength to be a beacon of light that others may follow before it all, everything that I love vanished before my eyes. Please God, take this anger from me. The weight is more than I can handle. Let me be the small stone that makes a ripple that slowly but persistently spreads over the turbulent waters.
I am but one person. But sometimes that is all that is required to start a revolution. Please people, let’s start a movement of restoring the basic values of dialogue, courtesy, tolerance and respect.
Believe what you believe but don’t cram it down another’s throat. When someone is speaking, listen to learn not wait your turn to speak. Converse with facts and educated opinion, not sound bites and increased volume. React with a deep breath and carefully considered words. Apply Respect as a value and a virtue, not as an option. Talk over the backyard fence instead of making the fence taller. Love each other.
If we don’t, everything we love is going to vanish before our eyes.
As I am prone to do, I triggered myself with yesterday’s post in which I spoke of my longing for the past and embracing my silly, if not immature side as a defense mechanism against the corrosive environment of today. I found that this is a subject that cannot be handled in one post.
In a famous intro to Pink Floyd’s haunting Goodbye blue sky, off their magnificent album, 1979’s The Wall, we hear the voice of a child, in all its innocence and wonder exclaim, “Look mommy, there’s an airplane up in the sky”.
The voice inevitably and necessarily throws me back to the day when the world was a place of beauty and every day was a chance to experience new things. If you were lucky enough to have your mother at your side, she would join you in marveling at the sight of the airplane, as a bonus she would help you identify clouds shaped as animals and before you knew it the sky was cluttered with joyous shapes and future memories. Ah, precious childhood. Today, the mother probably would be glued to her phone and mutter,’Ummhmmm, that’s nice honey” without even looking up.
The release of Pink Floyd’s album in 1979 is a powerful memory to me and may explain why that song, and that clip of the child, is so significant to me. It is around the time that I lost my youthful outlook and began to look at each day with dread and fear, not optimism and delight.
I was a notoriously happy child. I was an only child with a mother that worked part time with plenty of time to be home with me and a father that worked his ass off but denied himself sleep to make sure that he did all that he could for me. I played sports. I rode bikes with the neighborhood kids. We went camping in the summer, I went to ball games and went to the park. I loved hanging with my grandparents at their house. We had a big yard. When my parents were unable to occupy and amuse me (something parents feel obligated to do these days) I was able to amuse myself by playing with Matchbox cars in the dirt or voraciously reading books under my favorite tree. Sometimes I would just lie on my back looking at the clouds. I could do it for hours. As the years of my childhood passed, the toys changed but my attitude didn’t. I remained a happy kid,
The cheerful child in me went away around the time that I entered 7th grade. In my town grades K-6 were in Elementary and 7-9 were called Junior high (now known as middle school). I left 6th grade and the low-ceilinged and safe feeling Elementary school as a small statured but eager student and entered the high ceilings and almost anarchist hallways of the Junior High School as a terrified newbie. My fears were soon justified as the most formidable period of my life began, the age of being bullied.
It was horrifying. I was immediately attacked by the bigger and meaner kids. I didn’t fight back as I was slammed into lockers and sheepishly retrieved the books that were knocked out of my hands as I was walking down the halls. I became an easy target and other kids took a shot at me. I didn’t tell anyone, instead I retreated into myself. The gregarious kid eager for friends, the student eager for knowledge soon became a quiet, nonparticipating C student who sat in the back of the class doodling in his notebook. It was a horrible time of my life and I never recovered academically, socially or emotionally. I hated school, I constantly tried to call in sick and I became a sullen and mostly joyless teenager.
At the age of 55 I look back and know without dwelling on specifics how different my life would have been if I had not retreated into a turtle shell. But many years ago I learned to stop placing blame and acknowledged that there are no do-overs in life and time travel in Delorean’s is not a real option yet. I have shed the resentment for those characters that caused such heartache. I had to. It was weighing me down. I have largely forgiven them and myself. Happily, I have found and embraced the much younger version of me as a way of dealing with the current realities of my life.
The other day I was detailing a car and I was overcome by the heat. I stopped to take a break and sat on my steps with a cold glass of water, catching my breath. Exhausted, I laid on my back. I took a moment to look at the beautiful sky above me. The wispy clouds gently danced before me as they slowly made a pass over me. I reveled in their beauty. I embraced how small and ordinary the world must look from up there. I felt like a kid again, a kid without a care in the world. A kid who saw bunnies and teddy bears in the beautiful blue oasis above. Look Mommy, I see a airplane up in the sky…
One of the benefits of living in your childhood home is the memories, the connections, the triggers that bring back the memories of your youth. Both good and bad I suppose, but since I have grabbed my psyche by the metaphorical balls of late, so to speak, I have been able to focus more on the good things.
A tough realization of late is that I am a big kid at heart. I love playing with small children. I enjoy dumb comedies. I say goofy things and I like to be silly and I still think nothing is more satisfying and fun than lying on the floor playing with my dog. Charlie Brown nailed it when he said, “happiness is a warm puppy.” It sure is, not much makes me happier. Charlie Brown is my hero.
I think it has affected my social life. A funny instance occurred a few weeks ago when I was out on the boat with a female companion. We were moored in a popular spot where the water is shallow for a hundred yards or so from shore. People moor there and hang out, drink or eat and swim in the shallow water. Ducks in that locale are famously used to people and are not shy about swimming up to boats. A family of ducks approached my boat and I instantly exclaimed “look, duckies!” My companion looked at me like I had three heads. “Duckies?” I realized that she thought I was out of my mind or grossly immature. Oh well. “Yes, Duckies.” I said. “Sorry if it seems weird but I’m just a big kid at heart.” I leaned over the bow and made quacking noises at my visitors. I still don’t know if that’s why I haven’t heard from her since.
I’m tired of fighting it. With all the battles I have fought with my health and other matters, my youthful, a nice way of saying emotionally stunted I suppose, outlook has kept me going and I won’t apologize for it. It’s my way of not letting my disgust with the world I currently live in from tainting my desire to move forward.
I actually think it is what my small but loyal circle likes about me and what the core of people who look to me for inspiration (not being cocky, I actually do have some patients and readers who look to me for a lift) see in me.
It’s really quite simple. Before life kicked the everloving shit out of me I was a happy, eager and optimistic kid. Without his spirit, his happy memories and almost Pollyanna’ish approach to life, older current me would be lost.
I don’t just like to be silly and goofy. I need to be. I do not,will not and cannot allow others to bring me down if I allow that inner child to exist within me. I’m the biggest kid in the room.
“You will always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I love this quote. It transcends sports and applies to all walks of life. Life is a numbers game and the more attempts you make the better your odds of success. As it applies to my dating life, I am batting 0.0%. Admittedly, I haven’t taken many shots or swings but I have whiffed like Charlie Freakin’ Brown so far. 2 crazy chicks and one quiet one with a boyfriend. I give up. Single is fine. Single is good. Single is easy. It’s the lifestyle that best suits me. Funny, now matter how many ways I say it, it’s a lie. I hate being single.
I thought about renewing my Match profile but that was a miserable experience the first time around and I was glad to cancel it when it expired. If I liked them they didn’t like me and vice versa. The few that did like me…well I hate to be superficial but the pictures really didn’t do it for me. I’ll leave it at that. The rest, the ones that swiped and kept going, I know why they did that. The words “financially secure” were missing.
I get it, money is important. Being “secure” is important. Having your own place is a must and living with your mother is a serious turn off. Even if I got past that, my brutally honest Match profile doesn’t include the terms “dialysis patient”, which I’m sure would be a real “deal-sealer” over a first date cocktail. “Why be so honest?” one friend asked me. It’s easier. I like to get it out of the way.
Goddamn, Bella. Why did you have to fuck me up so? You made me feel things that I had forgotten how to feel. Yearning, heartache, desire, intimacy, a fire in my loins and a fire in my belly. All of those things that my loveless marriage stomped out like the remnants of a campfire. I had done so well without feeling those things for so long, I had convinced myself that I didn’t need them. Only to be awakened and painfully unrequited. As Meatloaf once lamented, I was all revved up and no place to go. Now I want those things again. Alas, I fear it is not to be.
I need to focus on my health. I need to just get a hobby. I need to spend my money on my motorcycle. I need to spend time with friends. They’re safe, I don’t feel the pain of rejection when a friend doesn’t call me for a few days, weeks or months. I need to get the idea of a relationship out of my head, it’s just not going to happen. If I keep telling myself this, eventually I’ll believe it.
Now, Universe are you listening? I am putting it out there that I don’t need or want a woman in my life. Now would you please see to it that I find it in the last place that I look at a moment when I least expect it? I think it’s called Serendipity. Yeah, I need that.
That, I think, is the only way it’s going to happen.
It’s been a few years since the 4th fell on a weekend. And if memory serves the last 3 years it rained on the 4th. I remember because I live in the region of vacation homes and every time it rains on Memorial Day, The 4th or Labor Day I always remark that I’d be pissed if I was a weekender and it then rained. One advantage of being here year round I suppose.
Holidays haven’t been huge for me lately. The distance from my fam and friends, the virus, living in an area where I don’t know many people all contributed to a blah attitude about holidays. But not this year. 4th of July 2020 was going to be different. I HAD PLANS.
A couple weeks before, my awesome friends Jeff and Leanne asked if they could spend the 4th with us. I jumped at it. Spending the day at the lake with friends is my idea of Paradise. A few days after that my youngest daughter told me that she and her boyfriend were coming up for the weekend. YAY! Then a few days later I learned that my youngest boy was coming up also. YAY! But his amazing girlfriend wasn’t. BOO! Then 3 days later Abby got the day off. YAY! (these yay’s are a nod to a certain blogger, you know who you are). To top it off the weather report called for a gorgeous day. The planets were aligning nicely. Now if Jeff and Leanne were to cancel I would be fugging pissed off. Not Jeff, he won’t let you down.
The day arrived. My kids got here early Saturday morning. I had already bought a metric shit ton of food and there was some setting up and cleaning to do. The boat was ready, I had reserved a table at the beach, I was scrambling around. A stressor was my mother. I love her dearly but she is a fanatic about her house and every time I opened a bag of Dorito’s she was looking for a container for it. I felt like a dog must when he’s circling to drop a deuce and the owner is following closely with a poop bag. But by the time Jeff and Leanne rolled in with Jeff’s son Johnny and Leanne’s daughter McKenzie we were good to go. Boat here we come.
I gave them a good tour of the lake. Everyone had a blast. We headed back in around 3 because the call of all of that amazing food and drink was irresistible. Jeff had promised an assortment of meats in his legendary marinade and I had a backup batch of sirloin and chicken breasts. Add to the mix Macaroni salad, a ton of snacks and a cooler full of booze…yea moor the fucking boat already.
The men hung by the grill, commenting on the meat and making guttural grunting sounds. The women congregated on the farmer’s porch and occasionally mixed. I went to find my daughter’s boyfriend and told him to come be with the guys, not hang with the Joy Luck Club. He did. He and I have a complicated relationship. He thinks I hate him. I don’t. But there wasthat time that I told him I was going to cut his balls off. Water under the bridge. He’s a nice kid, he’s good to my daughter (all a dad should care about) and he has a lousy home life with no good male role models. So I’m trying to get to know him. He joined us. It was cool, all the guys around the grill. Or maybe it was the bag of weed. Did I mention that? Yeah, I started the day with a half ounce of stinky weed and I rolled a bag of fatties in the morning. My daughter smokes once in a while, usually only with me and I knew a few others there did (no names) and I don’t really drink anymore…I decided to fly the friendly skies with anyone that cared to join me. So yeah, father of the year getting baked with my daughter and her boyfriend. What are you going to do, we all had fun. And the boyfriend loosened up a little.
After the feast was consumed and cleaned up we all ended up on lawn chairs enjoying the late afternoon sun. We talked about movies and current events. Jeff, Ryan and I talked about music, ranking musicians and bands all the while I had my bluetooth speaker on and phone in hand putting on great song after great song. Everyone was having a blast. Unfortunately, all great things come to an end and Jeff and Leanne had to pack it up. It was the end of the day for them but I still had my kids there so I could continue on. And we did.
What a day. What a weekend. I thank God for all of the blessings I have received in family and friends. This one made up for all of the lonely and uneventful holidays that I’ve had in a long long time.