The 5 Minute Video You Don't Want To Watch

Here is the skinny. This is a 5 minute video in which I share some thoughts about blogging and why I do it. I am not sure whether I am going to make Vlogging a regular feature of this blog, but sometimes you have to try things so that you can figure out if you like them or not.

Watch or don't watch, it is your call.

Disturbed, Distraught and Disappointed

"If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
If I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes"
Behind blue eyes-The Who

There are moments in my life where I have considered this to be a personal anthem, a theme song that describes me. Days when I woke up and described myself to be disturbed, distraught and disappointed. I count some very dark days among those moments. Times in which I felt like I was living my life alone and apart.

When I think about it those moments have been relatively few and far between. While immersed in them they felt interminably long and I sometimes wondered what was wrong with me. Sometimes I'd sit in silence and look at the people around me and wonder how they could all be so happy while I seemed to be trapped in misery or two steps removed from it.

What I eventually learned was that I wasn't alone in this. I wasn't the only person who felt like he was standing on the outside looking in. For some people that would be enough. That would be enough to make them smile and keep on moving.

I am not them. I am not one of those people. Read through the posts and you'll see that I understand that others have a situation that is more challenging and more difficult. Their lives are harder than mine. I appreciate that and am happy that I don't have to face some of those challenges. But their troubles don't change mine.

"'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Trying to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet yeah

No change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mind
I am here in my mind
But I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mind
No, no, no, no, no, no, no,no,no,no,no,no(fading away)
Bittersweet Symphony- The Verve

I don't want to give the wrong impression.  I have a good life and much to be thankful for. I smile far more than I frown, but I live with a certain intensity level. When I feel something, I really feel it. And I am ok with that. Took a little bit of time to get here, but I am here.

And I should add that the painful episodes of my life have provided me with some gifts. When I write about some things I go back in time and revisit those moments. The memories lend themselves to better descriptions, they add color and depth.

More importantly these experiences that have helped shape me have helped to give me the strength to get through those that followed. They helped provide an outline and a framework that I can call or draw upon any time they are needed. I am grateful for that.

I frequently write about teaching children coping skills. Well, if you don't have any of your own then it becomes harder to teach. I don't have that issue. I know that I am a survivor because I have done it. I know how to get through it and because of that I can be a better father and that makes me happy.

The Ghosts of Our Past

The ghosts of our past haunt us to our dying days. It is a common misconception among people to assume that this is a negative thing, that this is a something that hurt us. It can be, but only if you let it. We have the power to control our destiny. That is what I had told her, a promise of our future.

We were so very much in love. She was intoxicating, addictive, my favorite drug. I couldn’t get enough of her. Even now I can still smell her, the scent that never leaves me. Ok, it is not completely true, now it is more of a memory, but in my dreams she still visits me. In the dark of night she comes to stay with me and in the morning I wake up to the bittersweet realization that she has left me again.

Sometimes I’ll close my eyes and try to fall back asleep, hoping, praying that I can reconnect with the dream. In my mind there is no pain, no sorrow, no loss and no heartbreak. We’re still driving a convertible, her hair blowing in the wind, body pressed close to mine.

“Young hearts gotta run free, be free, live free
Time is on, time is on your side
Time, time, time, time is on your side
is on your side
is on your side
is on your side
Young heart be free tonight
tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, yeah”
Young Turks- Rod Stewart

It was one of our songs, we loved the idea of just running away together. It was a plan of ours, to steal away in to the night and to find somewhere that we could live together for the rest of eternity.

You know what is like, the first love of your life. You have nothing to compare those feelings to, nothing makes your heart soar like they do. As a teenage boy you have to fight to not act like an idiot. You’d pick a fight with some guy just so that you could try and prove how brave you were. You’d do a million other stupid things like that, just because you felt like you had to show her how much she meant to you. There was a fire inside you that you swore could not be quenched, a burning that felt so good it ached.

Sometimes that passion you felt could get you into trouble. Sometimes you found yourself getting involved in things that were best left to others. Sometimes you got lost, got stuck with the wrong crowd and the wrong people. Sometimes you found out that your parents were not that stupid, that they knew something more about living and life than you did. Sometimes the lack of life experience could save you because you didn’t realize the amount of danger you were in and sometimes it was that very lack of experience that condemned you.

It was my fault that I lost her. It really was. Because I was an idiot who fumbled the best thing I had. Because my fragile male ego wouldn’t allow me to ask for help and by the time I was ready to the only people who would help me were the very people that I should have run away from.

When she left me it was because I was already gone. I had already left the relationship, the boy she fell in love with fell down the rabbit hole but there wasn’t a friendly rabbit waiting for me.

There was a creature with a smile like the Cheshire cat, a creature who was only too happy to take me on as their apprentice. She called him an asshole and a loser. She called him a leech, a thug and more.

I called him Georgie.

The People You Love Most

(I thought that this was worth sharing again.)

In the quiet of the night my son asked me to try and explain why boys fall in love with girls. He admitted that there are some girls that he likes playing with, but that is only because they play more like boys do.

I told him that love wasn't something that you could study or understand. It is not something to be analyzed. It is meant to be felt, to be experienced, to be lived. I wasn't surprised to see a look of confusion on his face. It is a bit more sophisticated than talking about superheroes.

And then he surprised me by asking if love could die. So I told him that a parent's love never dies and that he shouldn't be worried. He told me that wasn't it, he wanted to know if loved died because Jason's mom and dad had split up and so had Michael's.

I asked him what he thought and he said that he thought it could. I told him that I thought that he was right. And then he went back to asking me questions about boys and girls and how you know that you are in love with someone.

We talked about it for a bit and he whispered that love makes you act stupid. I whispered back, "you're right." And then we laughed.

I told him that you always need to let the people you love most know that you love them. I told him that when he was older we'd talk more about why boys and girls fall in love. He said ok, and then told me that he didn't think that girls could understand it because their brains are mushy.

I laughed pretty hard and told him that he'd find out that girls brains operate a little bit differently than ours do. Of course he asked me to give him an example. So I told him that one day a girl would ask him what he meant when he said something. I told him that she would spend time trying to understand the hows and whys of what we do.

He looked at me and said "really?" and I said "yes." And when he asked me to tell him more I elaborated a bit. I tried to explain to him that sometimes love did make you do silly things. And that sometimes when you really, really, really love someone you get nervous when you don't talk to them. And that sometimes when you are nervous it makes you angry because you are afraid.

And wouldn't you know it, that smart boy of mine totally got it. I was pretty impressed.

The conversation meandered a bit and then he told me again that he never wants to get married. I told him not to worry about it and he said ok. Then he told me that he might want to be a father so that I could be a grandpa.

I teased him and said that if he wanted to become a father he might have to kiss a girl. He said yuck and wanted to know if there was a way to just stick the baby stuff inside her without having to talk to her.

Since I heard his mother standing at the door I said that it was always better to do it that way and that talking to girls was a big waste of time. Ok, I almost got through that little speech without laughing, but I couldn't. He looked up at me and said "I know that you were only teasing."

There was a short pause and just as I thought he was going to ask another question I realized that he was asleep. Oy, I can only imagine what other conversations we have ahead of ourselves.

The Father I Want To Be

Superman- REM

The rules of the blog are simple: be open and be honest. Tell your story as you see it, not as others wish to. So simple in concept yet far more difficult in practice. Difficult because it means unloading a closetful of chaos upon the screen and I am not sure that I am ready to look at some of these things during the day light.

It is a funny thing, this concern of mine because the person who I am most afraid of already knows these things. The person whose opinion will bother me most won't be fooled by simple parlor tricks or fancy smoke and mirrors.

They'll see through it all in a heartbeat. Because I am him. He is me. I am my own worst critic. You won't anyone who is harder on me than me. The fact is that I can't hide or ignore these things. So I am shrugging my shoulders and admitting to myself that sometimes I can't get it done. Sometimes I fall short. Sometimes I feel like I live on my own island because I put myself there.

And the reason for my frustration is complicated. No matter how badly I wish to beat myself up for my shortcomings there are not the sole reason for finding myself here. You can only fight the tide for so long and then you are stuck.

The father I want to be will be more accepting of these things. He'll take the same advice he provides his children but this time he won't ignore it. The father I want to be will rediscover patience and its twin tolerance.

He'll stop berating himself for that which he can't control and accept that some times there legitimate excuses. And when he does this he'll be a happier man because he won't walk around carrying the weight of the world.

For Your Reading Review

A snapshot of recent posts:

Ain't Got You- Or A Different Sort of Muse
Cookie Monster Cures Writer's Block
Two Kids & A Dog- Part Three
We Live In A Bubble
Why Do They Want To Kill Us?
Dad's Not Your Friend
Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #8

 And your blast from the past:

How Do Fighter Pilots Go To The Bathroom
Time Is My Enemy & My Ally

Ain't Got You- Or A Different Sort of Muse

"I got a house full of Rembrandt and priceless art
And all the little girls they wanna tear me apart
When I walk down the street people stop and stare
Well you'd think I might be thrilled but baby I don't care
'Cause I got more good luck honey than old King Farouk
But the only thing I ain't got baby I ain't got you

I got a big diamond watch sittin' on my wrist
I try to tempt you baby but you just resist
I made a deal with the devil babe I won't deny
Until I got you in my arms I can't be satisfied"

Ain't Got You- Bruce Springsteen

"I know somebody and they cry for you.
They lie awake at night and dream of you.
I bet you never even know they do, but somebody's crying.
I know somebody and they called your name.
A million times and still you never came.
They go on loving you just the same, I know that somebody's trying.

So please, return the love you took from me.
Or please, let me know if it can't be me, I know when,
Somebody's lying, I know when somebody's lying."

Somebody's Crying- Chris Isaak

Nights in white satin, never reaching the end,
Letters I've written, never meaning to send.
Beauty I've always missed, with these eyes before.
Just what the truth is, I can't say anymore.
Nights In White Satin- The Moody Blues

The song of my heart forever resides in a place inside me that never changes. The contradiction of fragments of the past and echoes of the future stand alongside her, the muse that no one but I know. Together forever and temporarily removed we are inextricably linked in a way that no one but us can understand.

She is out there now, my girl, in a place just beyond my reach, but not so far that I can't feel her presence. My girl, my baby is traveling without me now on her way to places I can't see and people I can't meet. It is not always easy to accept that my air is elsewhere, but for the time being it is necessary.

At least these are the things that I tell myself. These are the things that I use to serve as salve for a heart that has again been ripped wide open. These are the words that I use to try and help understand how I fell so fast, so far and so hard when I swore that it would never happen again.

These are the tools that I use to try and recover that which was lost because no matter what happens, I cannot ignore the howling of my heart. I cannot ignore the screams of anger and frustration. Cannot contain the fire which refuses to be extinguished.

I feel as if I am standing on the verge of something great and magnificent. It feels like that which I have been searching for is almost within reach. All I have to do is maintain the effort, keep pushing, fight on to take one last step. All I need to do is sustain this effort for just a moment longer and I will cross over.

But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't troubled by your absence. I'd be lying if I said that I don't care whether you are there to witness my success, that triumph without you isn't quite the same. I so dearly wish you to see me in that place in which I am not in crisis.

So dearly wish for you to experience it all with me, to share with me that which I have worked so hard for. If for no other reason than for so long you were the one who pushed and helped to inspire me to keep on moving.

Success without you isn't the same, it is not as sweet. That is not to say that life without you is impossible. That is not to say that happiness cannot be found, because none of that would be true. But you know what drives me and you know that I don't believe that you really have moved on. You know that this won't let me move on, chains me to this place.

You know that your actions, your words give life to this belief and provide hope that the effort isn't for naught. So I continue to dance in the fire, continue to wear my cloak of flames and endure. I do it for you. I do it for me and I do it for us.

I do it for the sake of the dreams and promises that we once shared.I do it because my gut says that I must.

"Come let me love you, let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you
Come let me love you, come love me again."

Annie's Song- John Denver

Cookie Monster Cures Writer's Block

I rarely suffer from the dread disease known as Writer's Block, at least not in the conventional sense. The world is filled with blog fodder so it is not at all difficult to locate a topic. The issues I have aside from having a sick and twisted sense of humor are a bit different than not being able to find the words to put down. It is easy to apply pen to paper.

No what bothers me with more frequency than I care to think about is my distaste and disgust with the words that I write. The moments where I look at the screen and silently read something that is stilted, awkward and ineloquent. Moments where I scrunch up my face and shake my head because I know that I am capable of producing something far better.

Moments of utter hypocrisy. Why? Because I teach my children that as long as you tried hard it is ok to have a bad day. I teach them that sometimes they don't have to hit it out of the park, that a lay up is worth as much as a dunk. But I don't always follow my own rules, my advice is best served to others because I don't listen to anyone let alone myself.

So what does this have to do with my pal Cookie Monster? It is simple really. When I get frustrated and feel like I am slamming my head against the wall I look for distractions. Simple things that take the edge off and make me smile.

Cookie Monster is a hero. He is a stud. Dude can walk into any bar/party/event and be guaranteed that half the women there will fight for his attention.Not bad for someone with big googly eyes, a scratchy voice and a body who will only know a six pack by virtue of standing next to a refrigerator.

Cookie Monster isn't complicated. He knows what he likes and isn't bashful about trying to obtain. I support that sort of confidence. I am a fan of those that are willing to chase their dreams. Doesn't hurt that I consider Cookie to be a contemporary of mine, after all we burst onto the scene at the same time.

If you think about it, it is kind of inspiring. Forty one years of eating cookies and whatever else he can shove down his gaping maw and not one single health issue. Hell, I admit to being jealous. I can't eat like that anymore, not without paying for it.

But I digress. The whole point of this post is that when you are frustrated because you can't find the words or don't like the ones that are you are using all you need is a brief distraction. This was mine and now if you'll excuse me I have to return to the work that actually pays the bills.

Thanks again Cookie for being a good friend, you have helped me more than you know.

Two Kids & A Dog- Part Three

It is hard to believe that we are almost three weeks into the new adventure of owning a dog. Three weeks ago I could wander about the house without fear of stepping in warm piles of puppy love. Three weeks ago I didn't worry about making sure that my schedule allowed for time to play with seven pounds of black furry love.

Seven pounds of black furry love has his moments. The silent ninja who preys upon the weak and unprotected baby dolls that lie helpless. He pounces upon them and savages their bodies with reckless abandon. And if you catch him in the midst of his murderous act he looks up at you with sad puppy dog eyes that suggest that you are the one who are at fault. You knew that he is a baby. You knew that he searches for objects to make his sore gums feel better even though you have purchased toys that are his.

Seven pounds of black furry love is slowly learning that there are places for relieving himself that do not resemble tile or hardwood floors. He already recognizes that his crate is best used as his private resort and as such cannot be sullied by such things.

Slowly but surely he is training you to recognize the signs. He runs to the door and looks outside, sometimes he indicates his need and desire with a soft whimper, sometimes silence. Sometimes all you can do is open the door and wait to see if he goes bounding outside and down the stairs.

The children, those that walk upright are learning that it is not all fun and games to have a dog.They have seen his handiwork and have learned that taking care of him is a family responsibility. I intentionally don't take him out when they are home. It is good for them to take care of this, to see first hand what it takes.

It is good for all of them. Together they are learning. Together they are learning about life, about love and what it means to care for someone who isn't quite capable of doing it on their own.

It is a beautiful thing to watch.

A Dad Blogger Complains Sometimes It Feels Like a Conspiracy

Can't Find My Way Home- Blind Faith

This post has next to nothing to do with being a daddy blogger. Really, I decided to include daddy blogger in the headline and body of the post for the sole purpose of S.E.O. Don't really care much if it actually helps drive more traffic here or not. Don't care whether some people think that mommy bloggers get more respect than daddy bloggers. Don't care if some columnist writes a story that denigrates mommy bloggers as being less important than some think they should be.

I don't care because my self esteem isn't based upon having the most popular blog. I won't cry if I am not asked to be a speaker or shout because Disney doesn't provide me with free trips and Ford doesn't supply me with cars to review. Those things are nice and I won't complain if they come about, but they aren't why I blog.

I blog because of moments like now. Moments where I can scream that some days it feels like every little thing I do is three times harder than it needs to be. Days where I am overloaded with work and deadlines are move up so that I am busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

That is so last year. Don't ask me why, but 2009 didn't like me. That jackass spent 365 days looking for ways to fuck with me. But it is not 2009 anymore, it is 2010 and I own this year. I will not tolerate nor accept these attempts to sabotage my efforts to make 2010 the year I want.

So it doesn't really matter that I feel like my instrument panel has died and that I am on the verge of crashing into a snow covered mountain in the Andes. Fine, take the damn plane down. I'd prefer to crash on the island. It'd be better for my Hurley to end up there because in the freaking snow I just might have to eat him to survive. And if need be, I will.

Stupid computer issues, stupid Dharma group and stupid people are irritating the hell out of me. And now that I have that out of the way I am going to take my cleansing breath and r

We Live In A Bubble

Call me The Boy In The Bubble. For god only knows how long I have been ensconced in my own world. I am not talking about the dream world I escape to when I am writing Fragments of Fiction but the real world. The real world in which I occupy a thousand different roles as father, son, husband, friend, cousin and wannabe maverick.  (Thank you Sarah Palin for helping to make that word a little less fun  to use.)

Anyway, in my world the responsibilities rotate throughout the day. About ten minutes ago I was called upon to play dad and was forced to let the dark haired beauty do my hair and makeup. Her brother was none too happy watching me become beautiful so when it was done I grabbed him in a bear hug and rolled around the floor with him.

And then I retreated to the bedroom. Alone, I sit on my bed and type this post. A set of earphones are plugged in so that I can listen to the music of my choice. It helps me to concentrate and focus upon my work and tonight I have a substantial amount. I am not quite ready to begin, so this serves as a way to decompress and clear my head.

A short while ago I read Jessica Gottlieb's This Is Mommy Blogging and shook my head. It is a sad story about the death of a homeless man. A man who bled to death on a public sidewalk and died alone and uncared for. Just one more senseless death that came about because we all live in a bubble.

We live busy and important lives. I don't say that sarcastically or with any sort of snark. Everyday we scurry about and work hard to take care of the things that are important in our worlds. Parents know all about this. How many hours do mothers and fathers spend on things that are related to our childrens' welfare.

And sadly if you live in a big city it is highly likely that you have grown accustomed to the presence of homeless people all around you. You pass them on the road, outside the supermarket and all around the places you go. Sometimes you acknowledge them and grant them the gift of a friendly smile or food/money. Other times you shun them, you fear that they are mentally imbalanced and potentially dangerous so you try to stay away.

Either way it doesn't matter because the reality is that most of us have learned to walk around, step over or pass by with complete indifference. We are living in the bubble.

I like to think that I do a good job of popping the bubble for myself and for the kids. I like to think that I do a good job of opening their eyes and teaching them to value what they have. I like to think that they appreciate their good fortune and understand that we give back because it is the right thing to do.

But sometimes I wonder. Yesterday I realized that if I let my son play his DS in the car he misses the world outside the window. Sights of magic, mystery and the mundane pass by without any sort of cognition. He is already secure in the bubble that we call a Honda Odyssey, the DS just takes him further away. Am I doing him a favor by letting him play or am I helping him to tune out faster and sooner.

I wonder.

And is it fair for me to ask these questions when I am just a larger version of him. Stick me on a plane or any sort of public transportation and I take out the iPod or a newspaper. As an avowed people watcher I won't hide in the bubble the whole time, but...

Why Do They Want To Kill Us?

We were standing in line at the Israel Independence Day Festival when he asked me "why do they want to kill us?" I looked down and smiled at him and took a deep breath. It is a good question, a valid question and one that I hate having to answer.

Because he is 9 years-old and I hate shredding pieces of his childhood. He still remembers when they stole his mother's purse and wants to know if I still look for them. I answer him truthfully and say that sometimes I do. We haven't discussed it in a while, but the last time we did he said that he wished he was older so that he could have helped me stop them.

I am still Superman in his eyes. He tells me that he is sure that I could have taken the guy. I don't tell him that I am confident that I could have too, but never want him to see that side of me. It is one thing to see me get angry and another to watch me become violent. He has never seen that and short of having to protect the family  I don't expect that he ever will.

He looks at me and asks me why I am smiling. I don't tell him that it is meant to reassure him, to soften things somewhat. Because he is old enough to understand that people die. Old enough to be happy that his grandfather didn't die in Vietnam and curious as to why I didn't go into the army.

My smart boy is sharp, inquisitive and interested. But he is still young enough that nuance sometimes escapes him. He doesn't need a ton of details, just enough to whet his whistle. So I smile and consider the best approach to his question. Before I can answer he begins to tell me how stupid it is to go to war and that people who do must be idiots.

I try to explain to him that he is right, but that not everyone feels that way. Some people are nice and others are not nice. And sometimes the not nice people do things that require a response. As I start talking I realize that the bullying episode from last summer is lingering in my head. I want him to be soft and cuddly but also to recognize when it is time to stand his ground.

I want him to know that if he needs to defend himself he has my support. I don't want him to have a physical altercation, but if need be he needs to know to swing hard. He needs to know that I have his back. I won't accept bullying, but that is a different topic and I don't want to muddy the waters.

So I ask him to tell me why he thinks that they do it. He gives me an answer and I smile again. We're about to go through a metal detector. This is a happy occasion and we are about to go through a metal detector. I am sure that if you saw my face you would have seen a flash of anger pass over it. There is something wrong about that.

We walk inside and I take a knee and look in his eyes. I tell him that there is no good reason for it. Logic doesn't always apply and some people are unwilling to use their words. I tell him that it makes me sad, but that sometimes you have to be willing to use force to bring about peace.

The conversation just got much deeper than I wanted it to. I pull him into my arms and give him a big hug. This time he smiles at me and tells me not to worry. "I won't fight unless I have to dad." It is a combination of innocence and knowing, the look he gives me. We're silent as we walk towards the booths. I know my son and I recognize that for the moment he is comfortable.

I am grateful for that, but still part of me seethes with the knowledge that some more pieces of innocence have been shorn.

Dad's Not Your Friend

I don't teach my children to behave for fear that to do otherwise will reflect poorly upon me. I don't care, ok that is not entirely true. I care, but only in specific situations. The reality is that my children are well behaved because they have been taught to be so.

Part of that comes from understanding that they have parents, siblings and friends. One day those may not be mutually exclusive but not while they are young. While they are young there is a clear division between parent and child. My children may try to negotiate for better terms on things that are important to them, but ultimately it doesn't matter because the final decision lies with mom and dad.

Some people claim that such an approach is backwards and that it is only established for the edification of the parents. They seem to think that such a thing strokes our egos. That is not the case. My ego is stroked when they say things like, "I want to be just like you" or other adults compliment me on their behavior. I love that.

But that is still not why the division exists. It exists for their benefit. It exists because there are moments in which a command decision has to be made. Privates don't tell the general what to do. Children don't run this house and they never will.

That is not the case with some of their friends. Some of them live in homes in which mom and dad fight to maintain some semblance of control. They fight because they were foolish and tried to be their friend. Kids need structure and boundaries. It is not hard to provide these things in a way that doesn't hurt the child. You can do it without crushing their self esteem.

If I tell the kids to knock it off they will. I might have to say it a couple of times, but they listen. I don't see that with all kids. Like I said earlier, some of them run the show. That is a mistake that will cost them later. My kids are still pretty young. In a few years though they'll be big and we'll be debating with children who can look us in the eye.

Form good habits early. It is really important.

Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #8

2010 is the year of the daddy blogger and as such it is time again for the Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience. This is the 8th edition of our weekly series. A collection of posts from the unsung heroes of the parenting gang. Take a moment to read the posts the men have written and let them know that they are appreciated.

Special note, check out the M3 Modern Media Man Summit, a convention for men and dad bloggers. It sounds interesting to me.

Ed@Home Dad: Saturday Story Time (The Three Little Pigs, as told by Elle.)
Jack: I Don't Want To Be A Mommy Blogger
Cute Monster: Sesame Street Elmo’s Alphabet...
Real Dads Hangout: Fatherhood: A Complete Review of Fatherhood
Tessa's Dad: #Fatherhood Friday – My little toddler
The Daddy Files: What Kind of Dad Am I?
Always Jacked:Why I Took A One-Year-Old To Work
Mr. Storage's Closet: C25K Beginnings
Juggling Eric: A Prestigious Award
Luke, I Am Your Father:Hammering Man
Undad:On Dogs and Babies

Rebel Dad: 600,000 At-Home Dads in the UK
Sex and The Single Dad: Back in the game
Daddy Claxton:Week One Wrap Up of Announcing Modern Media Man Summit
Dad Is In The House:Friday Field Trip: Container Store
Dadwagon:A Week on the Wagon: Paparazzi Edition 
Almighty Dad: TV is a Waste of Time
Book Dads:Book Review – Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka
Big Daddy Paul: Q& A Week 3
NY Dad: Rub-a-dub-dub, Mom, Dad and the Tub
The Fall of James:The Postman Rings Twice
Bruce Sallan: Faith -- It's Everywhere If You Look
And Triplets Make Six: Weasel Momma Book Club
Always Home and Uncool: Yes, I Know 'No' and Yes, That's Not 'No'
The Cheek Of God: Yes, I Know 'No' and Yes, That's Not 'No'
Canadad: Of jungles, dinosaurs and adventure
Dadvocate: Fatherhood Revolutions
Dad Revolution: Fathers Should Have A Voice in Today’s Society
Homemaker Man :A report from the Front: It's littered with kitties
Suburban Daddy: Take Your Child To No Work Day
Busy Dad Blog: To Rock
Back To Work Dad: Happy Earthday from Little Dude!
Dad-O-Matic :Where is my Hug?
Writer Dad: The Reality of Parenthood
Jack :Children and Playdates- Then and Now
The Good Men Project:Man-to-Man with Randy Strauss aka PRIMAL RAND
Modern Day Dad: "Is That $50,000-a-Year College Worth It?" Uh, maybe.
SAHDPDX: We need a clean up on the table Saw, Stat

That's it for now. This shouldn't be considered a complete list of the many fine daddy bloggers, but it does provide a small glimpse into our world.

If you like what you see here then please consider becoming a fan of the blog. Have additional questions/comments? Send me an email at talktojacknow-at-gmail-dot-com.

Prior Editions:

Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience
Festival of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 2
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part III
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 4
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 5
Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #6
Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #7

A Lesson In Time Management

A good parent teaches their children how to be productive members of society. You provide the skills and education that they need to stand on their own. And with that you have The Jack B's philosophy on parenting, the abridged version that is.

This past week my son demonstrated that he has learned many of the lessons that he has been taught, but not all of them. Time management as it relates to homework was not one of those. This is not a new thing or something that is surprising. When he finishes the school day he has no interest in coming home so that he can do more school work. So we have had more than a few occasions in which he has been forced to stay up a bit later to finish it.

This is not acceptable.

I can relate to his distaste. I didn't find homework to be particularly stimulating either, but you have to do it. We all have our lists of things that we dislike but that we do anyway, or so I have told him. Of course I made a point to omit that I think that homework is sometimes useless. Just busy work that is assigned because the teachers are required to or wish to look good.

The reason why it is being assigned doesn't matter. What matters is that it be taken care of in a timely fashion and not at all hours of the night. As a third grader he receives a healthy amount, but not insurmountable provided that he manages his time appropriately.

This past week war finally broke out over this. He went on two playdates with the understanding that they wouldn't prevent him from finishing his work. Each time he provided a rundown of what was due and assured us that there wouldn't be a problem. And each time he managed to accidentally forget to list all that he had to do.

I told him that I appreciated his honest mistake but that playdates were on hold until his memory improved. As you might imagine he was distressed about this turn of events and asked the court for leniency. Unfortunately for him clemency was denied.

Things cannot continue this way. It is for his own benefit. If he develops the discipline now he will be much happier down the road. The rascal is a very smart boy and when he sets his mind to getting something done it happens very quickly.

From a selfish perspective it is annoying to have to play policeman not to mention that it cuts down on my free time. Free time that can be spent not only working on my stuff, but fun things with him. I made a point of expressing that to him. I like spending time with the kids, but not like this.

Just prior to ending the conversation I told him that I wanted him to remember three things:

1) I was a kid and I know all of his tricks.
2) All of his school assignments are placed on the web so I can check it at any time.
3) I do it all out of love and to quote something I heard throughout my childhood, "I am your father, not your friend."

And with that I bid you adieu, my break is over and it is time for me to get back to work.

Jack's Video Debut- My First Vlog

Back in the day I was among the first to engage in audio blogging. It was cutting edge and least until video came along. For a long time I have played around with the idea of Vlogging, but have always been too shy.

Today I decided that enough is enough. So here is my very first attempt at Vlogging. It has a few issues and I am not sure if I am going to keep this post or not, but then again, maybe I will.

Children and Playdates- Then and Now

"Our house it has a crowd
There's always something happening
And it's usually quite loud
Our mum, she's so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed"
Our House- Madness

This past Monday afternoon my son finished school and then went over to his best friend's house for a playdate. On a side note I seriously dislike that term, playdate. There is something about it that just rubs me the wrong way. I am not quite sure what it is, but I suspect that has something to do with the organized nature of play.

It is not how we did it when we were kids. Our parents didn't organize playdates for us. After school we'd play outside all afternoon long with the neighborhood kids. Or sometimes we'd walk over to their house, knock on the door and ask them if they could play.

Did I mention that we walked unaccompanied. We didn't live in fear and our parents didn't either. Times are different now for a variety of reasons.

In regard to my kids much of it has to do with their attending a private school. It is not particularly far from home by car but too far to walk or bike to. Since this is LA there is no good public transportation to rely upon. The RTD, (sorry, showing my age)er MetroLink doesn't pass their school so they can't take that either.

The end result is that we drive them to and from. I suspect that this is what happens with most of the students there. It is a great school and we all love it. But sometimes I am sorry that they miss out on some of the things that we had.

Did I mention that I grew up in a home that usually had six thousand kids running through it. My sisters and I always had friends over. It was organized chaos. That place was loud and fun.

It is hard to do here not only because of the transportation issue but because I have a home office that is not sound proof. Sometimes I feel badly about it. I don't want ten thousand children roaming through her during the day. That is not to say that we never have playdates here, but I have to be more circumspect.

During busy times it is really hard. But life is about compromise. My father worked downtown. He didn't come to soccer or baseball practices. Didn't drive my sisters to ballet or do a lot of things that I do. Not because he was uninterested but because it wasn't possible to do that and work.

He was always at the important things, never missed those, but you rarely saw him at other times. The kids teachers know me. The other parents recognize me. I am a fixture.

Push and pull, balance- I constantly am adjusting as I seek it.

Another change I have noticed is that it is not unusual for parents to hang out during playdates. That is not a terrible thing. If you are lucky you like the parents of your childrens' friends. So sometimes their playdate is one for you too. A chance to have adult conversation.

Although I should add that as the children have gotten older I have seen this happen less and less.

Who knows, maybe I am wrong about a lot of this. I sometimes wonder if the memories of the child that live insides me is true to that which really happened. Hard to say, a child's perception isn't always going to be the same as an adult's.

I wonder.

Teach Your Children- Crosby Stills and Nash

There Are Places I Remember

"There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain" 
In My Life- The Beatles

I think that I was around six or seven when I met June. I don't quite remember any more. She was the girl down the street with long dark hair. The middle child, sandwiched between a younger and an older sister, she was a full year ahead of me in school.

Me? Well, I was one of five kids and a committed bachelor. At least I thought I was, but what did I know at seven. Back then girls were at best tolerated, an unpleasant experience that had to be dealt with. As you can imagine my attitude wasn't appreciated by any of my sisters and especially not by my mother. She would look at my father and ask him to speak with me.

I remember those conversations. Dad would sit down and split a can of Ginger Ale with me and tell me that one day I would appreciate girls. I loved my father dearly and tried not to tell him that I thought he was nuts. They didn't play the games that I liked to play and had an uncanny knack for getting me in trouble. As far as I was concerned girls were the enemy.

Being a very stubborn boy I vowed that if my feelings about girls ever changed I would not tell my father. I loved him, but not enough to let him know that he was right about such a serious issue. In my eyes this misguided belief that I would like girls was his biggest shortcoming and the only thing that made me question his status as the all powerful superman.

Still he maintained that at some point in the future I would find girls to be so interesting that I would have to be careful not to get into trouble. I still remember the look my mother gave my father for saying this. At the time I had no clue as to what he was hinting at.

The days came and went and the school years passed by. Elementary school came and went and on we went to junior high. I can't say that I have many memories of June from then. I know that sometimes I'd see her walking to or from school but I never said anything. Most of the time she was with one of her sisters and their friends and though I was older, girls were still not on my radar.

One day that changed. I can't tell you how, when or why. All that I know is that one day I started to notice things about girls that were different. Things that made me tingle a bit and wonder. I suppose that you can blame June for some of this. I had to walk by her house to get to school and so I had plenty of occasions to see her. Plenty of occasions to notice that her butt swayed when she walked and that I liked her long hair.

I think that we were around 12 or 13 when things really changed, or should I say when we started talking. To this day I can't tell you who initiated the conversation or how. All I can tell you is that the boy who hated girls got the surprise of his life, a best friend who was a girl.

I suppose that I blame June for this. She has always been smarter and more clever than I am. It wouldn't surprise me if she manipulated the whole thing. I know that sounds bad, but I don't mean it in a bad sense. It is easier to believe than blaming fate. And in truth given some of the things that would happen later on it makes sense in a different way.

June always figured things out before I did.  I suspect that she knew that she would have to overcome the stubborn, bull headed part of me and so did things to help me think that I had figured it out.

"All these places had their moments"

If you want examples I could tell you about other boys she dated. She'd tell you that they came before I did and I suppose that there is some truth to that. The same truth can be said about the anger I developed over the influence and influx of interlopers. My best friend's attention was being taken from me and I didn't like it. Perhaps it is better called jealousy, because I was jealous. I just didn't recognize it for what it was at the time.

To me it was anger and that anger led to more than a few fights with June. It was one of those fights that caused us to stop talking. By this point we were in high school and June being a year ahead of me was getting ready to go to college. The thought of her going away bothered me tremendously, but I didn't tell her. Still acting as the stubborn lout I refused to let her know how upset I was by it.

And with the convenient excuse of being angry I just stopped talking to her. Didn't return her telephone calls, attend her graduation or the party her parents threw for her. And let's not forget her senior prom. Since she lived down the street from me I watched as some stupid jerk pulled walked her from the house into a limousine. I saw his hand trail down her side and brush her below the belt. This made me so angry that I ran out of the house and down the street.

My plan was to try to kill him for his transgression. Instead I got a mouthful of exhaust and watched them drive down the street while I screamed. It was quite the show for the neighbors.

Anyway, time passed but my anger and frustration didn't. If I had a better head on my shoulders I would have realized that I was in love with my best friend and that was why I was so angry. But I didn't or at least couldn't acknowledge it and so she went off to college without a goodbye from me.

I didn't see June again until sometime around mid December. She was home on break with her new boyfriend. I can't tell you how excited I was to see her or how much my heart sank when I saw him. It is fair to say that I contemplated breaking his arms and legs for no other reason than he was with June.

More time passed and my own graduation came and went. By the time I left for school it had been more than a year since I had spoken with June. The more time that passed without speaking the harder it became to even think about picking up the phone.

I had a great time in college. Really, in many ways it was the time of my life. I made great friends and finally admitted to my father that he was right. I never did tell him just how right he was and how happy I was that girls liked me too. Side note. I only brought home two girlfriends. My parents liked them both and made a point of telling me that they looked a lot like June,

"With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all" 

I remember the apartment I had when I first got out of school. It wasn't much, but I loved it. Just a simple one bedroom that was all mine. My first true bachelor pad and one that I immensely enjoyed breaking in. I remember the first time I had a woman over. There was something very cool about not having to worry about a roommate showing up. No secret signs were needed. No sock on the door or special request to go out for an evening.

It was just the two of us...all night long. She was followed by several others, but none of them lasted particularly long. One of us always had a reason for why it wouldn't work and that was ok with me. I was a twenty something guy who was enjoying life.

It had been around five years since June and I had last spoken. We had passed by each other once or twice in the neighborhood, but we didn't say anything. It was a little bit like elementary school, except this time I liked girls, especially June.

"But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you"

My sweet incomparable June whom I had lost touch with. What I didn't know then was that I had found the love of my life when I was just a boy and had been too young to recognize it. What I didn't realize then was that June had been giving me everything short of a direct order to be her boyfriend. What I didn't realize then was how badly it would hurt when I found out that she was wearing the ring of some other guy.

What I didn't know then was that in spite of all that I desperately wanted her to be my girl. It was a very bitter lesson about missed opportunities. A heart wrenching experience that rocked my world. All that time my other half had been right in front of me and I never recognized it. How stupid and blind could I be.

There have been other relationships in my life. Women who have loved me deeply. Women that I loved too, but none of them have felt quite right. And I can't help but wonder if my lot in life is to forever wonder about what could have been. For every time I have tried to let go something has dragged me back. So though I have tried to take the advice of Crosby, Stills and Nash to love the one you are with it has never really taken root.
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

The Midweek Review

For those of you who have been busy, held captive, trapped beneath a heavy object or are stuck living in Cleveland here is a list of recent posts:

I Don't Want To Be A Mommy Blogger
How Long Will You Keep On Blogging?
Dancing In The Fire
Blog Disappointment
Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #7
A Letter To My Children- 2010

And Now Your Blast From The Past:

Don't Die Dad
I Still Dream
Inside the Blogger's Studio- A Dream, Er Nightmare

I Don't Want To Be A Mommy Blogger

The recent brouhaha about daddy bloggers not receiving the same amount of respect as the mommy bloggers irritates me. 

I have a penis and I am proud of it. I stand about 5'10, have a relatively deep voice and can grow a beard in about two weeks. I am man, hear me roar. In short you won't ever mistake me for a woman and if you are smart you won't ever refer to me as Mr. Mom.

If you hang out with my kids you'll hear them refer to me as Dad, Daddy or Abba. Ask them a few questions about their lives and you'll get a mouthful about both mom and dad. You'll hear that both of their parents attend school functions, help with homework, cook meals etc.

In short you won't hear them tell any stories about the "Father Knows Best" dad of the past. They have no knowledge of those days or any idea that once upon a time things were different. If you delve in a little bit deeper you'll learn from them that their parents have the same philosophy about education, discipline and safety. But beyond that you'll see that there are distinct differences that one could argue are based somewhat upon gender.

And that is ok with me. I like being a man called dad. I don't want to be mom. Don't need it, never cared whether people give me credit for the work I do for my children. My children are how I measure myself as a parent. Not based upon their success, but upon their character and ability to be productive members of society.

In regard to the whole daddy blogger not getting any respect issue, well I don't care. I don't blog in the hopes that some company will make me a brand ambassador. I don't blog because I hope to get a bunch of free stuff. I won't lie and say that I'd never do a review, accept a trip or any swag. Won't lie and say that I wouldn't love to make real money off of the blog, but it is not my focus. And the reality is that few bloggers have that kind of success.

Some of you say that the reason we fathers haven't been courted is because of demographics and purchasing power. I am here to tell you that is misguided, inaccurate and patently wrong. The reality is far different and it is not hard to support that. Men and women shop differently and if you don't account for that you are making a mistake. If you ignore the single fathers out there you are making a mistake. If you ignore our involvement in purchasing big ticket items you are making a mistake.

2010 is the Year of the Daddy Blogger not because we expect or want to be courted by the brands but because of the Brotherhood of the Fatherhood. Because we are reaching out to each other and building a community. Because we have different challenges than the moms and it is nice to have a man to talk to and share thoughts with.

And that my friends is the purpose of the Festival of the Fathers, another tool to build a community with.


Anyhoo, if you are curious to hear some of the thoughts and feelings about this topic feel free to take a gander at the posts below. There are some good guys that have spent time outlining their feelings, give them a shot.

Dad Bloggers Deserve Respect
PR, Daddyblogging and the Long Road to Equity
Babble Retreats; Pays Lip Service to Dads Again
Who’s Your Daddy (Blogger)?
Mommybloggers Rule
Dad Bloggers Can Suck It!

How Long Will You Keep On Blogging?

In light of the reaction to this post I though that it made sense to toss out another question.

This is the question of the moment. How long do you expect to keep on blogging? Do you have any sense of how long you can keep on going?

Will you be one of those bloggers who comes on fast and furious and then suddenly disappears or will you be here for the long haul.

What do you think?

(Originally posted here.) 

Dancing In The Fire

"Well, I know it's kind of late
I hope I didn't wake you
But what I got to say can't wait
I know you'd understand
'Cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So I'll have to say I love you in a song"
I'll Have To Say I Love You In  a Song- Jim Croce

"Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant poises,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;"

The Passionate Shepherd To His Love- Christopher Marlowe

Dancing in The Fire seemed to be an appropriate title for that song I said I wanted to write. The idea was to set a tone and then paint a scene. I want to tell a story with both the words and the music. Something that would touch you, remind you of what lies beneath the surface.

Dancing in the Fire is an apt description of how I feel. In your absence I go wandering around the places inside my head and my heart seeking the kind of answers that are more than just words and feelings. They must exist, these answers I seek. At least I tell myself that they must because it is inconceivable to me to believe that they cannot.

Fire is a wonderful tool to use for writing as it is both beautiful and dangerous. There is a reason why so many different artists have used it in their songs. it is hard not think of Johnny and June singing about that Ring of Fire. They say that June wrote the song when she was trying not to fall for Johnny, but sometimes, some things happen. Love isn't always logical or reasonable.

"I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire
The ring of fire"

Really, I have tried to look at it any number of different ways. It is not so different from listening to other artists perform the same song. The words are the same, the tune is different but that meaning still comes through.

I sit there and remember how one day you were someone who was completely unknown to me, a mystery yet to be discovered. Sometimes I think that it was better than because I didn't know what it mean to burn and to ache. I didn't understand what could happen and or the ramifications of those moments. I didn't know that one day I would find myself Dancing In The Fire. I didn't know that the pain of separation could be so exquisite and so awful.

It was inconceivable because I had never had the experience and so when it was described to me by others I nodded and smiled, tried to pretend that I understood. But I didn't. Didn't know what it meant to be so in love that I would lie down before you, leave my neck bared for rending or for succor.

Now a thousand years later I am a man who understands that he once walked with one who was able to open his eyes to something more. And with that understanding comes the realization that the moment is gone and it is unclear if it can ever be recaptured. So I continue to burn and I continue to ache.

Lost beneath a star filled sky I walk and remember. I embrace the fire and bathe in it. Cloak myself in the pain of loss and its twin the hope of tomorrow. I close my eyes and feel your touch. I close my eyes and hear your voice and I remember.

Remember the promise to build you a castle in which to live out our dreams. Walk through the woods under the moonlit sky Dancing in the Fire remembering things that cannot be described and smile at the role reversal. Remembering how you once were the one who feared that I had left, gone on to places far from here.

Those days that seem so distant and yet so recent when I could quote It Ain't Me Babe and pretend that I really wasn't him.

"Go lightly from the ledge, babe
Go lightly on the ground
I'm not the one you want, babe
I'll only let you down
You say you're lookin' for someone
Who'll promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes to you
Someone to close his heart
Someone to die for you and more"

But the truth came out and I had to admit that there was more there. What can I say other than I am Hard to Handle. I was honest when I said that storms follow my feet, but there is a quiet majesty about lightning. Presence that you can sense, thunder that you can hear. And it all comes from Dancing In The Fire.

And in the end all that can be said is that you are loved. You are loved and appreciated, cherished for who you are not just yesterday but today. Loved because that is just how it is. And maybe one day we'll find that quiet moment again and you'll see that I never stopped Dancing In The Fire.

Blog Disappointment

This is something that I suspect the majority of bloggers go through. It is a malady is best described as being upset because you spent time composing a post that you thought would be outstanding.

A post that you were certain was so good that you wouldn't have time to respond to all of the comments because you knew that within an hour of putting it up there would be at least 15 and by the end of the day there would be hundreds.

Only the exact opposite happens. You upload your post and anxiously await your first comment but there is nothing. It is like being back in high school. Your parents went out of town and left you home alone with strict instructions not to throw any parties.

Of course as soon as they left you spent a ton of time notifying everyone about the amazing 16 keg Bacchanalian festival that you have planned and no one came. And then the disappointment and depression set in.

Why, oh why are there no comments. You tried so hard to be funny, to be witty and insightful. There is a very cool picture and that clever phrase you were saving for the perfect post. You know the one I am talking about. It is the phrase that you are sure is going to become the new rage. You'll be like that girl, the one who made "Dooced" a part of popular culture. The next Forest Gump movie is definitely going to include some reference to you/it.

But unlike in Field of Dreams, when you built it they didn't come. It is time to take off that special party dress. It is time to put the collar back down on your shirt. It was cool to wear it like that in the 80's and you thought that you'd bring back the trend but now you know you just look sloppy and disheveled.

My friend, you haven't even hit the worst part of this. The worst part is that at some point you are going to stumble onto a blog in which they have produced the same post. It may not be an exact duplicate. It may not be a word for word reproduction but essentially there are only minor differences but one big distinction.

And that distinguishing feature is that those million comments you had hoped to receive are all on this other blog and there is nothing there to show that you had the idea first. Not a link, not a comment, not a simple thank you for the idea.

Maybe Kohellet was right and there is nothing new beneath the sun.

But have no fear little blogging buddy. Life is a journey in which we learn from experiences. The measure of a person is how they respond to adversity, not how many comments they get or how much traffic they receive.

Live long and prosper grasshopper and may the blogger be with you.
(originally posted here.)

Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #7

2010 is the year of the daddy blogger and as such it is time again for the Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience. This is the 7th edition of our weekly series. A collection of posts from the unsung heroes of the parenting gang. Take a moment to read the posts the men have written and let them know that they are appreciated.

A side note/comment. I have seen a number of posts that that incorrectly and inaccurately assert that dad blogs are new. Dad blogs have been a part of the blogosphere since the beginning. We may not have made as big a noise as the moms, but we have always been here.

More on this in a separate post. On to the festival.

Jack:A Letter To My Children- 2010
Dad Gone Mad:My Favorite Vitamin
Dadwagon:A Week on the Wagon: When Dads attack! 
Wrath66:Baby Talk (And Baby Read And Write?)
Rebeldad:PR, Daddyblogging and the Long Road to Equity
Tessa's Dad:#FatherhoodFriday – Follow Friday shout outs
TechyDad:Aloha Friday: Tracing Your Family’s History
Dad Is In The House:Friday Field Trip: IKEA
Mr. Storage's Closet:6 months old!
The Lame Sauce:Guess I should name this…or something…
Clark Kent's Lunchbox:The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Real Men Drive Minivans:Happy second birthday little man
The Devoted Dad:Daddy’s Kids
SAHD PDX: He says cute things, I do not
The Fall of James: That Which Doesn't Kill Us
A Blogger And A Father: 43. Shawn
Jack:Dad's Not Old- Cultural Reference Points
NY Dad: Tower of Babble…

Us And Them:A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far Far From Kosher
BuckDaddy: Tip My Hat Tuesday – Andrew Bennett aka @BenSpark
The Father Life: Taking Risks: When, How, and If
Always Home and Uncool:Mocking The Lame (PR Pitches I Receive)
And Triplets Make Six: Who’s Your Daddy (Blogger)?
Dadvocate Project:Launch Day- Welcome to the DADvocate Project
Makes Me Want To Holler:Bye, Bye Backfat...Hello, Boxing Gloves! Part V: The Week Off
Suburban Daddy:A New One For Me

That's it for now. This shouldn't be considered a complete list of the many fine daddy bloggers, but it does provide a small glimpse into our world.

If you like what you see here then please consider becoming a fan of the blog. Have additional questions/comments? Send me an email at talktojacknow-at-gmail-dot-com.

Prior Editions:

Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience
Festival of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 2
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part III
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 4
Festival Of The Fathers- A Blog Experience Part 5
Festival of Fathers- A Blog Experience #6

A Letter To My Children- 2010

Success in the affairs of life often serves to hide one's abilities, whereas adversity frequently gives one an opportunity to discover them.

When I wrote this letter I though that I would try and update it once a year. If you search through the 2009 archives you want find the updated copy because I...forgot. When I stumbled upon it again I thought that I would take the time to update it, but I decided that it doesn't require much in the way of tweaking. But it still merits repetition so here it is.


Every so often I like to take a moment to write a letter to my children and share a few thoughts about life and the challenges that it presents. Each time I do this I agonize over trying to come up with something insightful and profound.

I don't know if I ever really succeed in doing that, but I do know that these letters will help them better understand their old man. I decided that I'd start today off by sharing some favorite quotes with them.

Some of my favorites can be found in Distilled Wisdom- Quotes that I Enjoy, in fact I like all of them, but for the purpose of this note I'll grab a few to highlight.

I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion -
I have shudder'd at it.
I shudder no more.
I could be martyr'd for my religion
Love is my religion
And I could die for that.
I could die for you.
~ by John Keats ~

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ by Mark Twain ~

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
~ by Ray Bradbury ~

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

~ by Teddy Roosevelt ~
Children I haven't any clue how old you'll be when you read this. You might be teenagers or grandparents, it is truly impossible to say. If I am the father I want to be then you will have heard these sentiments many times and you will know that they are important to me.

Specifically I want you to live a life in which you are unafraid of challenges. That doesn't mean that I advocate being reckless or foolhardy. Use your common sense and take a moment to consider your actions. But don't be afraid to take a chance because sometimes that is what you have to do.

The sentiment that a ship is safe in the harbor but that is not what ships are for is exactly what I am getting at. Life is a risk and it is one worth taking.

I want you to experience love. I want you to know the kind of love that makes your heart pound and your head spin. I want you to know what it means to love so much that it hurts, figuratively speaking of course.

Your old man never wants to see you get hurt, but then again I do believe in taking a chance. Sometimes the hardest thing in life is trying to figure out what the future holds. I have seen many people get it right and many people get it wrong.

There is no doubt that I have done both. It does without saying that I have made some very big mistakes and caused myself grief that I could have avoided. But the opposite is also true. Sometimes walking off the cliff was the smartest thing I could have done. Sometimes I found that I had wings and I could fly.

I realize that this sounds like some sort of tired cliche. It is hokey and it is goofy, but it is true. I have the experiences to back it up. The thing that you will see is that there isn't any one way to live.

There are a lot of people who will try and convince you that they have discovered the secret to happiness. They'll tell you that you are a fool for not doing as they do. Trust me, it is not always true. As you go through life you'll find times where the smart thing to do is follow others and moments where you are better off being on your own. You'll have to figure out the when and where.

That is it for now. All I can say is that I love you very much and that just as you learn from me, I learn from you.

Dad's Not Old- Cultural Reference Points

In the silent of the night I can hear the echoes of the past reaching out to me. Silent ghost like images march before my eyes, begging for my attention. Moments of time when I wasn't anything more than the boy who lived in his parent's home are intermixed with fragments of the future. The boy becomes a man, the son becomes a father.

In the midst of all this I stand in front of the mirror. It is Wednesday night and I am getting ready to play in my basketball game. White high tops, blue shorts, a dark t-shirt and two days growth are about to accompany me to the door. Just before I leave I look in the mirror again and do my best to look menacing. It is part of my pregame routine. Something that I have been doing for about 30 years or so.

As the realization of just how long I have been doing this washes over me I shake my head. Did I really start this during the first Reagan administration, or does it go back a bit farther, to the days when Billy Carter was making headlines for Billy Beer and Jimmy was talking about lust in his heart..

Maybe...I started playing t-ball somewhere around '75, but I am fairly certain that it took a bit of time for the pregame ritual to start. So who knows, could have been '78 or '80. Doesn't really matter all that much because I don't feel old.

The mysterious pundits that people refer to as "they" claim that you age is a state of mind. If there is truth to that than my upcoming birthday doesn't matter. So what if the calendar says that I am turning 41, old Jack says he is between twenty and twenty-five.

Out on the basketball court that makes me one of the old guys, but I certainly don't feel it...much. The mind never forgets what the body used to be able to do and the ego never stops trying to do it again. When I am out there doing battle I am just one of the guys having a good time blowing off steam.

Most of the time I don't notice the difference in age between myself and the twenty-somethings that I play against.The operative phrase being "most of the time."

It is only during the in between or after game discussions that I become cognizant of the differences. Cultural reference points have become much sharper and far more distinct.

Off hand remarks about old television shows are sometimes met with looks of confusion. All In The Family, Bonanza, The Brady Bunch and Mash aren't viewed by my young friends with any sort of nostalgia. If I hear the themes to any of those shows I am instantly transported back in time

If we talk about technology few of them know about how you could purchase tubes for your TV at the drug store. They don't know about "rabbit ears" and how you'd fiddle with them to get a clear picture. They don't remember that TV wasn't always available all night long.

It wasn't always like this for me. I used to be the kid everywhere I went. I heard hundreds of stories about where people were when JFK was shot and how that was a life changing moment. Frankly it used to irritate the hell out of me. I wanted to grab them and say to stop living in the past. Funny, when did I become one of them. I mean, I am not really one of them, but in some ways I am.

The Cold War was real. It was a big deal and I remember the conversations. The Iranian hostage crisis isn't something that I learned about in a book, I lived it. Just like I lived through so many other "historical events."

I remember hearing about Watergate and how Nixon got lucky. I remember when Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. And the uproar a few years later when John Lennon was murdered.

My friends and I never worried about social media. No concerns over what happened in chatrooms. But we did talk about going to the record store to buy an album. A few even picked up 8 tracks cassettes.

Let's not forget how excited we were with being able to rent movies. Hopefully you picked up a VCR and not a Betamax.

As our parents shifted over from rotary phones we figured out how to press the buttons so that the beeps would play songs.

We started to come of age alongside video games. Pong, Space Invaders and Asteroids were a big deal.

If you were lucky you had Intellivision and not an Atari 2600. Don't get me wrong that 2600 was a trusted friend that I spent many hours with, but it didn't have the electronic voice that would growl "yer out" during baseball games.

I suppose that every generation goes through a period of introspection in which they complain about the newcomers or the shortcomings of those who came before. We're no different. I look back and remember the freedom we had.

We walked to school, rode our bikes everywhere and stayed out until dinner time. The monsters of the night that we moms and dads fear now were there, but the news cycle wasn't constant so no one payed attention. It was a time when parents could beat the hell out of their children in public and no one said anything. That is not something that I look back up with wistful smile, but the reality.

I saw kids get smacked in department stores, parking lots and grocery stores. You didn't mouth off with reckless abandon.

The social and civil changes of the sixties were still causing waves in the seventies and eighties. My children didn't care what color the presidential candidates were. Race meant nothing to them. I was more than pleased about that. Score one for now.

Back then my parents didn't have to listen to my siblings and I beg for computers and cellphones. I remember as car phones slowly sifted down through the ranks of the very wealthy to the upper middle class. If you had a car phone in high school it meant that you were dealing or your parents were loaded.

Somewhere around my freshman year of college beepers stopped being the sole province of doctors and entered the mainstream. I saw how they could be used as an electronic leash and refused to get one. 

Personal computers hit the scene many years before I started my career as a university student, but they weren't considered to be a requirement for students. The majority of us labored away on our Smith Corona typewriters. By the time I was a senior that had changed somewhat, but not completely.

Ask your children now if they know what liquid paper is or why it was cool to have an Erasermate pen. If  they respond by imitating J.J.Walker and shout "Dynomite" you need to have your eyes checked because you are not dealing with a child. Or if you are your child is a little bit old to be called a child.

There is a long list of other items that can be included in this. I can talk about how I transitioned from being the kid in the office to a seasoned veteran. It was crystallized for me when I tried to build a rapport during a meeting by discussing the affect that 9-11 had on business travel and learned that the other attendees had been students when it took place.

If I say "mom always said don't play ball in the house" my kids take it literally and not as a reference to The Brady Bunch. A friend tried to make a joke about LOST by suggesting that it would be more interesting with Gilligan on the island. It flopped not only because it wasn't funny but because the 23 year-old he said it to had never seen the show.

We really aren't old, but we have lived long enough that some of our cultural reference points are dating us a bit. It is sort of a funny place to be in, but I am ok with that. It is not like I have too many options. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go place my order for my Ginsu Knife and the cool kitchen tool that RONCO is selling. And maybe if I have any money left over I'll buy one of those KTEL music collections, they are pretty cool.

I Still Dream

 I still dream about things that you cannot see, cannot touch but know in your heart. The moments and feelings that cannot be described but only experienced. The quiet times you share with the person that knows you better than any other because only they are allowed to step beyond the gates.

I still dream of hitting a home run to win the game. I stand alone at the plate and wait for the pitch and with one perfect swing I send that ball sailing. Fast ball, waist high and it is gone. Listen to the crack of the bat and start running because I don't dare to jinx it by looking up.

I dream of that touchdown I scored. Broken play, grabbed the ball and take off running right into the heart of the defense. There is no trickery, no fancy moves or spinning to try and make them miss a tackle. It is a combination of dumb luck, brute force and sheer determination. Hands reach in and slap at the ball, bodies slam into me but I keep going. Unlikely and unexpected I keep moving because for that one moment all I know is to keep running. And so I head for the end zone unable to think of looking back for fear of what I might see.

I still dream of that moment in the ring. It was just him against me, two gladiators come to battle to be the last man standing. And you know, you of all people know how hard my heart was pounding and how very frightened I was. The pain of the blows that rained down upon me and the fear of losing was intolerable. Not because it was impossible but because I couldn't stand to lose in front of you. I couldn't take the idea of letting you down, so I stood up and took the shots and gave better than I got. And when it was all said and done I was still standing because I believed in you and I believed in us.

I still dream of that ship we  used to sail in and how it took us from paradise into storms and back to safety. And I still dream of how we fought to keep the elements, how the two of us worked together to make it all happen. I remember how we got lost and how for a while it seemed like we had lost our way and turned into strangers. And just when I thought we had it figured out I was washed overboard. The last thing I saw was you standing there, shouting at me and then the waves took me away.

I still dream about those days in the water and how I fought to keep going. The endless days and nights when it took all that I had to continue but I did. I kept going because I had a dream. I kept going because for a brief time that dream was reality and the tastes, smells and sensations stuck with me.

You can call it what you will. Deem it denial, delusion or delirium but I don't care. Because I battled the demons, the storms and the monsters to find out if the dream could be more than just than that. When my body ached and my heart broke I kept battling because the soul knows something more.

Because when it is separated from its mate it can't ever rest. There is no succor or respite from the drive to reunite. That passion that fuels the fire burns ever so brightly so I search for the star in the sky to guide me back. Instinct, determination and a dream are all I have.

I still dream about the day when we find each other again. My heart it still believes and for now that is enough.

Almost 20 years

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of this spot. Hard to believe, not many have kept going since then. I have barely kept up...