Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If Not Now, Then When??

It feels like such a different day. As if the world will stop just because I want it to. The boss won't be an ass  the coffee will taste better, and the people won't drain me. But the truth of the matter is, that feeling doesn't last.
The coffee is burnt and old, like something I'd expect to get at an all night truck stop, and immediately I feel like I'm in the movie Office Space.  Corporate Accounts Payable, Nina Speaking; Just a moment.

During my break I catch up on a few blogs. Jack over at the Jackb makes me think about life. I enjoy reading posts that speak to me. That make me think. At the same time I hate them for that very same reason. They make me think. I don't realize today is already Wednesday. Its an ordinary day. Nothing different than the day before. Or the day before that. Jacks' blog makes me realize this. He talks about what matters, or what matters now. Again, it makes me think. What matters to me? Right now. At this time in my life. I take away a thought: If not now then when?
Maybe it's silly, but really. If not now then when? When do we stop dreaming and start doing? What are we waiting for? What am I waiting for? The highlight of my day is deciding what candy bar to buy from the machine. After humming the jingle I decide on Almond Joy. Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't. The jingle helps me remember.

Just a thought. If not now, then when?


Just Write

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Play Ball...

I stood there listening to the words of the song. Standing in a crowd next to my five year old. His arms dangling at his sides, his eyes focused. He stands motionless. I stand motionless.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light.

He has no idea of the words or their meanings. I wonder how many young people around me truly do.

What so proudly we hailled at the twiligth's last gleamning.

Next to us an old couple sings along. They know the words. They know the meanings. I see it in the way the sing. As if auditioning for American Idol. Two young boys in front of us watch them in amazement. Maybe they're amazed that the couple knows the words. Maybe they're amazed that old people actually sing.

What so proudly we hailled at the twilight's last gleaming.

He has no idea why we stand, or why we put our hands over our heart. His idea of freedom is sitting around in his underoos watching t.v all day. After all he's five.

My thoughts take me to being a parent. I wonder if I'm teaching them what really matters. You know the things that will mold them into being successful decent adults that people will be proud of. I want them to be better than I was, than I am. I want to teach them the things nobody taught me. I don't want them to have to learn the hard way. Life's to hard as it is.

And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.

Hearing this song always makes me want to cry. Not because I'm a sap, but because it represents us. It represents my dad. My family. My friends. I want to sing at the top of my lungs but I refrain. Mostly because I can't carry a tune. But also because I don't want to embarass us. Maybe I am a sap.

And the home of the brave....

The calm is broken.

Play Ball...


Just Write

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Promotion Test Saturday

It's test day for my three ninjas. So many emotions. You'd think I'd be better prepared. I'm so proud of them. So nervous for them. Does it ever get easier? Watching them, knowing I can't help. Knowing I can't fix it or make it easier. I wish I could answer for them. Wish I could just do it for 'em.

The class is full. Every parent, and some grandparents come to watch their family member earn a new belt. The taekwondo Grand Master makes me think of Yoda as he speaks to the students in his broken English. He says things like, much appreciation you must give parents. Study hard you must. I feel like any minute he's gonna break out a light saber, or stop and claim he feels a disturbance in the force. He never does.

He asks each of them questions. Questions we've studied the last twenty-four hours. Questions I know they know. Each one of them answer correctly. The youngest struggles just a bit. The Grand Master let's it slide because the boy is five, and also because he's already cashed my check.

Soon they break boards. The boy is nervous that he won't pass. The girls are strong. They look like they could be the next Power Rangers. They break boards with their feet that should be used to build houses. I am proud. The boy tries to break the same type of board. After several failed attempts he moves to a smaller board. Finally success. I can see in his eyes he's disappointed. I'm saddened. I wanted it for him.I wanted to see him break the big board.

After class we talk. We talk about how its still very impressive for his age that he's breaking boards with his feet. We talk about next time. We talk about how proud I am of all of them. My words of encouragement fall on deaf ears. He claims he'll never be able to do it. I start to feel sad. I don't know what else to say. I don't know how to make him understand that he's five, and that with more practice he'll be able to do soon. With each explanation he gets more discouraged. I get discouraged. Then out of nowhere, he finally gets it as he says:

What's for lunch?

And with that, we move on.


Just Write

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Me and My Girl

We buckle up and turn the radio on. It's just her and I in the car. She's the one I spend the most one on one time with out of the three. Maybe because she's the oldest. We can actually talk. Have like interests. Music seems to be a common thread for us.

I watch her as she sits next to me. She's not a little girl anymore. Maybe I'm hardest on her. I expect more because she's the oldest. Or maybe because she's the easiest, I'm not sure which. She does her own thing. She knows better. I know it's not fair. In the car she's mesmerized by the snow flakes that have begun to fall from the night sky. On the windshield we look for two that are alike. Eventually she gets lost in the radio and begins to sing.

I think back about the last few hours we just spent with my father in-law and his two daughters. I hate Chinese food. I don't complain. At least not with any real seriousness. I go along because its not for me. I know this. No this is a birthday celebration for him. A time for him to spend with his girls and their families.

 The place was busy. Friday night. We sat in the back room. It's a room that gives the impression that it was designed for families with rowdy clowns. My family. We spend our time talking and eating. Talking about the future, and reminiscing about yesterday. I enjoyed the time. It gives perspective. Meaning. Purpose. I think about how my clown will one day have a family of her own. I think about the song the cats in the cradle, and it makes me appreciate our ride home together. Just the two of us.

We get home and again it's just the two of us. At one point I say how proud I am of her, just in general. Nothing specific. She's a good kid, and I think it's an important thing to say. She blows it off, as if I'm obligated to say it. She's funny like that. She doesn't want the same affection the middle clown wants, and doesn't need the same affection the youngest clown needs.

Soon our time is interrupted as the others come home. It was fun while it lasted.


Just Write

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Morning

Mornings are the worst. I didn't sleep well. This particular morning I awake with Pearl Jam rocking in my head. I'm not sure where it came from, but I'm not terribly disappointed that it's there. As I lay there half awake, I try to clear my head. I've purposely set the alarm clock wrong in an effort to trick myself into getting up early. It never works. I've become too smart to trick myself.

I lay motionless. I say a prayer, asking my God to give me strength for the day ahead. I'm not sure if he hears me, but I like to think He does, plus it gives me a sense of security. A feeling of having my own personal body guard for the day.

In the shower thoughts of my daily tasks creep up. Things that need done today. People I need to speak with, meetings I have. Things I've no doubt put off doing that have now reached crunch time. I tell myself that one day I'm gonna be pro active and not wait till the last minute to do things. I know it's a lie but somehow it reassures me that things will be better. That I'll change.

Brushing my teeth and fixing my hair I try not to focus on the body I've clearly let go over the last year. Bending over brushing ones teeth really does accentuate the need to lose weight. I know this yet everyday I choose to ignore it. I'm sure she sees too, along with the increasing amount of grey hair that's beginning to cover my body. She never mentions it.

I get dressed in a dimly lit room. I'm considerate enough to keep quiet as she sleeps, even though I'm jealous. Jealous that she sleeps while I get dressed before the sun comes up. Jealous that I physically cannot stay up as late as she can. Jealous that I have to leave in general. My jealousy is not rage, its just pure innocent jealousy. As pure and innocent as jealousy can be I suppose. I find socks in the laundry basket that has managed to become a permanent fixture on our hope chest. I search for two that are colored. I've come to grips with the fact that having matching socks has no overall bearing on my life. I no longer try to match 'em, as long as they're both dark, I'm satisfied.

As the coffer maker warms up I feed the animals who have begun to stir. They both act as if they haven't eaten in days. Around here I'm not so sure that isn't the case. I let Maggie outside. She's a good dog that I sometimes think got in with the wrong family. We rescued her from the pound years ago, before the clowns came, so I guess our rescuing her was better than her alternative. But since then she's become more like the old in-law that moves in with you. You hate that she's there but you can't throw her out.The cat follows me through the house puring. He follows and willingly shows affection with every step. It's the only time of the day in which he shows any type of appreciation. Usually he's running for his life. Running to stay away from the boy.

Before I leave I check on each of my clowns. They sleep. Safe. Sound. I already miss them. My entire routine takes me half an hour, twenty minutes if needed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Today's Thoughts...

On our way to karate class. The van's a mess. I'm disgusted with the appearance, but I know its a fight I can't win. I get a call, she tells me the car is acting up again. Its been on the fritz lately. I want to get rid of the piece of crap so badly but I don't. I can't pull the trigger. Mostly out of fear. Fear of shopping  for and purchasing a new car. And frankly to me at this point, the hassle of it giving us fits does not yet out weigh the hassle of new car buying. I tell her it sucks, and move my thoughts elsewhere.

I hate karate class. I don't let on. I never let on that I hate it, but I do. I hate thinking about how much money it costs. I hate the fact that we are contractually obligated to come. I hate knowing that it's mostly my fault that we have that obligation. I'd punch the instructor in the throat if I wasn't afraid she'd kick my ass.

At a stoplight I see a gentleman standing outside holding a piece of cardboard. It reads Out of work. Have family, any spare change is appreciated. Down the road a bit is a Taco Bell with a sign that reads Now Hiring Managers, Apply inside. I wonder what type of man is to embarrassed to work at a Taco Bell, yet not to embarrassed to beg for change? I think of how on the way home, I should stop and give him some money. Or an application.

We pass a mini van with a female driver. She wears a do-rag on her head, Aunt Jamima style. I think, wtf, she's old enough to know better. I'm embarrassed for her. I'm embarrassed for my town.

Inside at karate the smell of stale cigarette lingers on the couple in front of me. They're new here. Their boy forever will be known as Snots at my house. I wonder if other parents have nick names for the kids. I'm sure they do, parents can be cruel. Thirty minutes in and Snots' parents head outside to smoke. The smell is unbearable upon their return. It makes me appreciate the fact that I once had the will power to quit.
I watch my boy go through his moves. I worry about him the most. He's to much like me. I already know his struggles. His fears. His short comings. I pray that I'll be able to help him along the way. I pray that he's not to much like me and he lets me help him.

On the way home I stop at two different places for dinner because I'm a cool dad like that. But mostly because all three of them can never agree on one place, and frankly I'd rather stop twice then listen to them argue. I hear them discussing how the oldest was trying to sell the other two at karate. I'm pissed upon hearing of her plan. Only because I wasn't offered a cut. Before pulling in the driveway I hear her explaining how an ostrich is too big to fly. She's either very smart or very weird. Sometimes Im not sure which.

Once home we change, eat, and sit around the rest of the evening. The clowns find things to keep them occupied since we don't watch t.v on Tuesdays. They've grown accustom to it. One colors, one plays on an ipod. I'm not sure what the third does. She often gets lost in the shuffle. She's the middle child you know.

Soon it's bed time. We'll struggle to get in bed in a timely manner. I'll make idle threats about beating them if they don't get in bed. They'll mock me. Not to my face of course, but inside. Later, I'll tuck them in and tell each one what I expect of them for the following day.Then I'll let them know how much I love and cherish them.


Just Write

Monday, February 6, 2012

Perhaps I was wrong....

Ok so a little while back I wrote this post, Like a Virgin about the Super Bowl. More to the point, about the halftime show at the Super Bowl. If you haven't read it, go check it out.

When the announcement came that Madonna would be the halftime entertainment at this year's Super Bowl, I for one was not shy about voicing my opinion. I thought the NFL made a bad decision. I thought this year would fall right in line with all the other bad performances we've seen since the famous wardrobe malfunction of 2004. I thought this would be no different than The Who, Paul McCartney, or Tom Petty of recent years.

But....Perhaps I was wrong.

I'm not a big Madonna fan. Her music is just not my thing. But I thought last night she put on one of the best halftime shows we've seen in the last seven years, and here's why.

First the sound. Sure she lip synced the entire thing, but isn't the point of the show to sound good? Isn't that what we want, a sound system that lets you hear the words, hear the actual singing? And she did sing it. It was just recorded on the Friday prior to the show. But think about it. She's fifty some years old, you really think she could be dancing around the stage like that and sing a thirty minute show without getting winded? No way. I'm not fifty and I get winded when I'm singing folding laundry. I'll take the lip sync everyday of the week if it makes 'em sound better. Ever heard of Milli Vanilli? 

Next lets take the performance. While all she really did was walk around the stage, let some people pick her up, and thrust her hips a little here and there, she looked great doing it. I thought she actually looked presentable.What we didn't see was an old washed up star who looked more like she belonged in a half way house than at the Super Bowl. Now maybe it's because I've grown accustom to seeing old men like Mic Jagger and McCartney hobble around praying they don't break a hip, but I thought she looked great.

Speaking of the performance, her or maybe better yet, her people, did a good job of mixing in some of today's hottest stars. Nicki Minaj and MIA, LMFAO, as well as Cee Lo Green. At the time, I didn't know any of these stars, except the pudgy guy from the 7up commercials, but my clowns did. In fact I caught the boy singing along at one point.

And despite MIA flipping of the t.v camera off, the show seemed to go off without a hitch. So, ok maybe I was wrong.