What to Do about Middle School

The mysterious they who proclaim themselves to be expert on all things related to child rearing say that middle school is a critical time in a child's life. Those mysterious pundits whose expertise comes from fortune cookies, guest posts and gumption would have me believe that the wrong choice in middle schools will set off a chain reaction of misfortune that will culminate with me curled up on the floor in a fetal position begging my child for forgiveness.

I wish that I could say that I was making this up, but I can't. Whenever I hear or read something so silly I find myself engaging Jack's patented look of disbelief and irritation. It is so effective that even the Shmata Queen recoils from it, but I digress.

Join me for a moment as I walk you through an upcoming parenting dilemma known as what school do I send my child to. For the moment let's pretend that years of private school tuition haven't kicked my butt and I am flush with cash, so tuition is not an issue. The issue in a nutshell resembles the following scenario.

During the Jurassic age when I was a student the breakdown for schools essentially looked like this:

Elementary school: K-6
Junior high 7-9
High School 10-12.

Things have changed a bit. Now junior high has been replaced by something they call middle school and it starts in 6th grade. So the breakdown at many schools resembles something that looks like this

Elementary school: K-5
Junior high 6-8
High School 9-12

This creates an issue for me as my son is a 4th grader at a grammar school that goes through 6th grade.  However the classes tend to be quite small as many parents pull their children after 5th grade. They aren't being pulled because they dislike the education but because many parents think that it is easier to start middle school in the 6th grade and not midstream in 7th.

My son does not want to leave the school. He hopes to be able to graduate from 6th grade. I can appreciate this. He has never gone anywhere else and is very comfortable there. The 6th graders at the school have the usual assortment of privileges bequeathed upon them by age and he wishes to partake of them.

The question that I ask is what is best for him. I of course love that kid like nobody's business which is why the decision about where to go to school is not going to be made by him. There is a chunk of time before we really have to worry about this, but I must admit that it makes my head spin to realize just how close we are to the next phase.

It is beginning to feel like time is moving at warp speed. A couple of months from now we'll pick a Bar Mitzvah date. And I just know that I am going to blink and see the boy morph into a teenager. Wonder if there is a way to stop the world from turning for a few minutes, I think I need to catch my breath.

Stuff That is Worth Reading

The posts are fast and furious around here. Got some new material coming shortly, topics include middle school, dad blogs and why a beach requires salt water.

In the interim take a moments to check out some of the recent material here. There are more than a few nuggets to read this week.

2010 Is Still the Year Of The Daddy Blogger

My six year-old has been running around asking everyone she knows if they know the meaning behind "Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears."  Since she is a clearly a child prodigy I asked her to tell me why 2010 is NOT the year of the daddy blogger. And then my beautiful, witty and extremely bright girl said, "what is a blogger."

Apparently, I a self proclaimed daddy blogger have failed to educate her in the ways of social media. She doesn't know what a blog is, doesn't have a Twitter account or a Facebook page. The girl hasn't the foggiest idea what it means to be LinkedIn, StumbledUpon, or Reddit.

But say Inigo Montoya and she'll join you in saying "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to Die!" And I have got to tell you that I appreciate knowing that she is serious so be smart and don't kill me or you will face her terrible wrath and I'll probably haunt you.

So my friend the blogger with the Superman fetish wrote a post in which he regaled us with his recollection of what happened at the Type A Mom Conference and why 2010 is not the year of the daddy blogger. Over at DadLabs more fuel was tossed on the mighty fire a post called Do DadBloggers Suck?

And just when I began to gag on it all Backpacking Dad produced the piece Why don’t dads read dad blogs? And so I find myself shaking my head at my colleagues wondering what the hell they are thinking. In between large puffs of my cigar and copious amounts a brandy that you can't afford I decided that I must respond.

Gentlemen in the old country we would have called this conversation, narishkeit or nonsense. But that is ok because part of the joy of being a blogger is getting to engage in all sorts of nonsense and oodles of mischief. You see we are taking ourselves far too seriously and we are missing the point. So if the three people who are still reading this will bear with me I'll transition into a more serious post.

What is the goal of blogging? If the goal is to become professional bloggers who earn an income from blogging the question is how to do so. The answer is relatively simple. Provide brands with access to their target demographic ideally during a time and place when they are making purchasing decisions. That is all you have to do, show those prospective sponsors that you can help them reach prospective customers.

In a professional setting anyone selling sponsorships has a media kit that they provide to prospective advertisers. The standard kit usually contains an editorial calendar and demographic information regarding the readers.Sometimes that comes from an audit conducted by an impartial third party and other times it is based upon user surveys or registrations conducted by the publication.

If you want to make your dad blog into a professional venture you can do so. You can build your blog into something that has a media kit that you can present to potential sponsors. But before you get there you need to remember that no business is built overnight. You need to remember that building a blog requires time and energy.

Last year I wrote a post about Why Some Blogs Fail in which I cited a survey which said that 95% of all blogs are abandoned. You can look at that statistic from a negative perspective or you can see it as opportunity.

I see it as opportunity. This past Sunday I tweeted about the influx of "dad blogs" this year and made a prediction regarding how many would still be around in 2010.

I stand by my tweet. If I have learned one thing in 6.5 years of blogging it is that most bloggers don't last. That Technorati survey just proves my point, but that doesn't really matter. The real point here is that I think that it is premature and silly to say that dad bloggers can't share the success of the mom bloggers.

It is not a competition and even if it was smart brands/bloggers recognize that the genders are different and how you market to them is sometimes going to be different. But that is neither here nor there. In fact, at 1:30 AM I wonder what I am rambling on about.

Oh yes, dad blogs, brands and bucks. I don't care if the CNN guy was supportive, a jerk or something else. He doesn't define me. Frankly I don't care if television and movies portray dads as bumbling fools because they don't define me either. I do that.

And if I want to make this corner of cyberspace into something that generates more than coffee money I will do that because the tools and resources exist. I'll take those tools and use them to differentiate and distinguish myself as a valuable content provider who can put you Mr. Advertiser in front of your target audience in a unique and cost effective way.

Related links

The Daddy Blogger Community
The Rules of Blogging- How To Make Money Part 1
I Don't Want To Be A Mommy Blogger
Dear Angry Mommy Blogger


(For Fragments of Fiction- new dad blog post coming later this evening)

I met Jericho in a time and place that no longer exist. The people we were are long since gone. Now they drift through time and space in a place that I call memory or perhaps it is just my imagination. If you ask Jericho she'd probably push for imagination. She'd want to say that what I remember has been obscured by my own desire for the future. She'd tell you that it was never as good as I remember it.

But if you took her aside and caught her in one of those moments she'd admit that it was exactly the way I remember. She'd admit that as the queen of low expectations it is easier to think of things that way. She'd tell you that to really remember is too painful, too tragic. So old Jericho set up those walls, long and tall, deep and wide.

She lies in wait behind those walls waiting for the future to come. She lies behind those walls and watches the days pass in front of her. There are some really happy times, some good moments that make her think that she can do this for a while. Good things come and she smiles and thinks that life might not be exactly what she wants it to be, but for now this will work.

And me, well I stand outside and stare at the wall. I stand and look and wonder how they grew to be so tall. Too stubborn or too dumb to give up I continue my assault upon them. Every day I look for a way to breach them. Every day I search for a nook or cranny that I can use to start weakening more sections.

Sometimes I see Jericho looking out at me. Sometimes I see her staring at me, a wistful smile on her face. Sometimes I catch her shaking her head. She wonders if I am going to continue to live in denial about the circumstances that placed us here. But I think that she knows that I am not the sort to give up. I...keep....moving...forward....

I have a mental diary of the tactics I have used to try and breach Jericho's walls. There was a frontal assault that was used to try and gauge the strength of the defenses. Some progress was made by eventually the defense asserted itself and we withdrew. There were flanking movements that had minor success, but still didn't amount to much. An attempt to climb over failed as did the tunnel beneath.

In between the attempts I have continued to pepper Jericho with reminders of what could be and paintings of the dream. It has been slow going, but I am ultimately a patient man. Those walls will come down, of that I am certain. What I had to remind myself was that Jericho erected those walls for a reason. I may disagree with the reason, but the smart move is to bide my time.

A well planned siege can work. There is no need to plan my own D-Day.

So I remind myself that the current situation is just a moment in time. A moment in time that can become nothing more than a memory or it can become reality. With this in mind I have made a point of mixing up my tactics. Sometimes I withdraw all of my forces and take some R&R. Inevitably Jericho's natural curiosity drives her out of the tower and she engages in her own reconnaisance. She always finds me.

Life may be a series of random acts but some things seem to be more than coincidence. It is a discussion that Jericho and I have had more than once. One day I suppose I'll have the chance to look back upon this life and determine whether I was right or wrong about that belief.

In the meantime you can find me at my post watching and waiting. One day, one way or another those walls are going to come tumbling down.

A Word To The Wives

Here is some friendly advice that I like to call a word to the wives, specifically those of you who enjoy blogging. A blog is a wonderful tool that you can use to build relationships with others, express your thoughts and learn about yourself. When you are upset it is useful to use your blog as a place to vent and certainly if you have friends in the blogosphere it is a good place to find support.

However, I recommend that you not use it as a place to write stories about how your husband pisses you off. You may think that it is funny to paint him as a buffoon or moron. You may find that it feels good to have a good laugh at his expense. You may find that sharing your stories is cathartic and that you resent him less for whatever it is that he is doing to irritate you.

If you choose to do this you should bear in mind that it might not serve you as well as you would like. He might find your stories to be less than cute. He might decide that it makes him angry for you to share these stories and as a result your venting creates a brand new issue to deal with. It is the sort of trouble that you can easily avoid.

We're not perfect. Men find all sorts of way to create problems and issues for ourselves. I know this because I happen to be an expert at wreaking havoc. Still, we try to teach our children not to get involved in this kind of nonsense and that is what it is...nonsense.

It is your relationship so do what you want, but don't be surprised if he surprises you with more behavior that you don't like or his own set of posts documenting all of the stupid crap that you do. It may seem like we are oblivious to a lot of things but our silence isn't always indicative of lack of awareness. Like you we sometimes hold back because we don't want to fight. Like you we sometimes choose to be quiet because we don't think that the outcome is worth it.

But don't think that we don't notice or that we don't sometimes talk to the fellows about what happens. I have been part of conversations where the guys share stories or ask questions. There is a reason why some topics never appear on this blog. It is not because I am so smart- but I just don't need the additional chaos in my life.

So the next time you share a story about how incapable your husband is remember he might be telling his pal stories that would piss you off too. That old phrase, "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy" goes both directions.

Cosby- Children are Brain Damaged

If you are not of a certain age you may not be aware that Bill Cosby was a comic. As a father I appreciate a number of his bits:

Brain damage


Chocolate cake for breakfast

The Sweaty Suit

They tell me that yesterday was the hottest day in recorded history and that today will be cooler. Yesterday was so hot that when it hit 113 the thermometer broke, at least that is what they say. I have a different opinion, I think that sucker was jumped off the wall and headed out to the beach.

Unlike many of my friends, family and neighbors I like the heat. The heat is filled with all sorts of fond memories and whispers of the future. It reminds me of a time many years ago when I was a kid working for Pitney Bowes. That kid spent part of his time cold calling businesses around the City of Angels. Dressed in a black suit he would walk from office building to office building with a dream of making a buck.

There were more than a few days where I'd find myself frantically trying to mop up the sweat off of my brow so that I could try to get the receptionist in these offices to connect me to the person who purchased office equipment. Those ladies were the gatekeepers to the people who could help me make my fortune, so I'd do my best to be friendly and charming.

Unfortunately when spend time walking beneath the blazing sun you find that you look like someone just dumped a bucket of Gatorade over your head. It is a great look for people who just won the Superbowl, not so much for those who wish to look like a professional.

Sometimes I would go out on these calls with my colleague Keith. I loved going out with Keith for a variety of reasons. He was from Barbados and had this delightful accent that people loved to hear. It didn't hurt that he had a certain amount of charm to go along with it. The combination was effective as if he wanted to he could insult you and you'd smile. There was something about that musical accent that just made it sound funny, but not a way that made you laugh at him.

As a natural troublemaker I couldn't help but tell Keith that the beaches in Barbados were not as pretty as those in Jamaica. In variably he would shake his head at me and tell me that I was a crazy fool- because according to Keith there is no where more beautiful than Barbados. I'd try to keep a straight face and would continue to press him until he'd threaten to take me out to the parking lot.

That was his go to line, "I am going to take you out to the parking lot." It may sound silly but with his accent and charm it was magical. It didn't matter whether the receptionist was young or old these women would always smile and or giggle.

Sometimes I would tell him that I was sorry that he couldn't speak English and he'd break out into these great bursts of laughter. Sometimes I miss that guy. I haven't seen Keith since 1996, not since I left the company. We didn't exchange phone numbers and that is ok.

But one day I will visit Barbados and on that day I will buy a drink and toast to the good health of my friend Keith who never did take me out to the Parking Lot.

Tuesday Morning News of Note

Ok, it is not really Tuesday morning yet. It is almost a quarter to 1 A.M. and I am awake. In a few short hours I will wake up and start two projects that I dread- but I can't put them off any longer. Resolution, I seek resolution and I shall find it.

Don't know why, but when I think about one of them I hear the sounds of a battlefield- cannons to be precise. Just this booming noise that repeats itself over and over.

Confession time: Sometimes when I find myself feeling a little bit stressed I think of the theme to Rocky and I feel better. Goofy trick, but it works.

More Midnight Music Madness

La Tortura-Shakira feat. Alejandro Sanz
Wake Me Up When September Ends- Green Day
What Hurts The Most- Rascal Flatts
Your Wildest Dreams- The Moody Blues
Isn't Life Strange- The Moody Blues
No Time- The Guess Who
Time Of The Season- The Zombies
Zombie- The Cranberries
Should I Stay or Should I Go- The Clash
In the End- Linkin Park
Insomnia- Faithless
A Country Boy Can Survive- Hank Williams Jr.
I Will Find You- Clannad
Faithfully- Glee Version
The Bad Touch- The Bloodhound Gang

Your Blog is Your Online Resume

Ten thousand years ago the editor of a college newspaper sat back and listened to a professor lecture a room full of students about how to market themselves to publications that were searching for writers. Since it was the ice age she didn't talk about Photoshop, PowerPoint or any of the myriad tools that we now have access to.

Back then the tale she told was to be diligent in cutting our your clips so that they could be displayed in a professional manner. You wanted your portfolio to look beautiful because sometimes your potential employer would spend more time looking at it then reading the articles contained within.

I always thought that was ridiculous and stupid. Because if I was the one doing the hiring I would be more interested in the quality of their writing then how well they could package it. I was young, dumb and naive. At that time I really believed that the working world was filled with people who would go to work and do their jobs because that is what they got paid for.

It never occurred to me that all the political crap we went through during our school year would be there. It never occurred to me that group projects would still be difficult because the load wasn't shared fairly across the board. But you live and learn and if you want to prosper here in cyberspace than maybe of those same lessons are applicable.

We could argue that your blog is your online resume, especially if you are someone who wants to earn a living as a writer and or use their blog to generate additional income. And if experience has taught me anything it is that though content may be king, you better have a user friendly blog.

User friendly meaning that it is not filled with crap that causes pages to freeze or is hard to read. User friendly meaning that it is easy to find your contact information, an "about you page" and a friendly commenting system.

There is nothing wrong with a commenting system that requires approval of all comments before they go live. However I would argue against using a registration system as those few extra steps often lead to the reader pointing and clicking their way to greener pastures.

So while I want to say that people shouldn't judge your work on anything but substance the reality is that like it or not, presentation plays a role. It is part of why my blog irritates me- I don't like the presentation. It is not the clean professional look I prefer, but I am working on it.

What do you think?

Children and Changes

The first weekend of the Fall is coming to a close. In a few hours the kids will be showered, shaved and shipped off to sleep. Ok, there will not be any shaving but that won't last forever. I know this because yesterday my son was an infant who slept upon my shoulder and now he is a fourth grader who will be a teen tomorrow.

He and his sister are playing together now. They are just across the room playing some kind of board game and for the moment they couldn't be happier. But like the weather in Seattle this change in a moment. One gesture, one word or the dog can set off a series of screams. These two have a love/hate relationship that isn't that different from the one I had with my own sisters.

It makes me proud to see them grow like this. They have a bond that will not be broken and I rest comfortably that they will always look out for each other. Doesn't mean that I won't continue to stress the importance of family and why they need to look out for each other.

There are changes looming just around the bend. I don't have to look hard to see storm clouds on the horizon. No psychic is needed to recognize the signs, although I wouldn't complain if I had a crystal ball to use to see the future. But the storm clouds I see obscure my vision and the fog that already surrounds me presents more immediate challenges.

Some of the challenges that have been presented to me have gotten old and I have reached a point where I require resolution. There are Rules For Life that I am working on. Steps to be taken and things to be done because Happiness Requires Action. These are not empty words or promises to me. I said what I mean and I mean what I said.

Being a child means that sometimes you are forced to accept changes that you might not always like. In that respect it isn't much different from being an adult, except you don't have the life experience to carry you through. Although one could argue that might be a good thing.

As their father I am frustrated that I cannot do more to prepare them for some of these things. But that is one of the challenges of having your vision obscured by the unknown. It is possible that some of these things will not cause the sort of uproar I am concerned about. Things could go far more smoothly, but they might not. Fear of the unknown plays a role here, that is for sure.

So I am working hard on trying to do what I can to protect them from these things. And part of that means not saying anything until the moment is at hand. They don't need a ton of details- just enough to get through those moments. The most important thing is to give them a feeling of strength and security.

Time will tell...

Dad Blogs, Happiness And Blog Templates

A preview of posts about dad blogs, template and happiness. Click on the link and check it out.

Happiness Requires Action

The secret to happiness is contained within this post. That is not hyperbole or a marketing trick. With this one post I am going to put Tony Robbins and his cohorts out of business. With one post I am going to destroy the mental health industry because I am going to provide you with the secret to being happy.

Happiness requires action

That is it. Boil it down and that is the root of being happy- action. Ok, that is not going to be enough to kill Sir Tony and company. His business isn't going to be impacted by this nor do I have to worry about a group of angry social workers/therapists putting out a contract on me.

So what does that statement mean. Is it a silly slogan that will one day sell millions of t-shirts. Is it an off the cuff remark that I am trying to make sound powerful and significant? Well, it could be all or none of those things, but I like to believe that it is meaningful and something that works. I can even tie it into blogging.

I blog because I like to record thoughts, memories, ideas and experiences about my life. This place is a repository of stories about my kids. It is a warehouse and living chronicle of their lives and mine. It is where I air out my head and ask hard questions of myself, like what makes me happy.

Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever asked yourself what makes you happy, ever thought about what brings you joy? I don't think a lot of people do it, but I could be wrong. But it is something that I think about with regularity. It started about 7 or 8 years or so ago.

I woke up and realized that I wasn't living the life that I wanted to live. Woke up and started asking why I wasn't and what it was that I wanted to do. And I have spent a good part of the time since then trying to make the changes that will provide me with the life that I want.

You might wonder why it has taken so long. You might ask yourself if I have just been spinning my wheels or wondering if I haven't taken action. It is fair to say that I don't like change and am slow to adopt it. Fair to say that it has been an evolutionary process and that I haven't figured it all out overnight. And also fair to say that I have taken major steps in making some of these changes.

So, I may not be where I want but I have a plan and I am working steadily upon it. Happiness requires action and I am taking it.

"Far better it is 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 the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt

Dad As A Role Model

Someone taught my son how to curse. Rumor has it that the same person taught his little sister how to do it too. I'd like to blame Charles Barkley for it but he is not a role model. That mysterious person who taught these children to use four letter words looks a bit like me. He even sounds like me, but I know that he can't possibly be me because he isn't as handsome.

Not only isn't he as handsome, he is not as smart, funny, witty or wise. He is just some dumbass that occasionally walks around the house in a pair of shorts, t-shirt and a backwards baseball cap. I know that he can't be me because that dude is missing some hair, has a bit more belly than he should and lines on his forehead. So clearly he cannot be me.

The other day I heard my son belt out a few lines of colorful language and thought it is time for a reminder not to speak like that. So I wandered over and asked him where he learned those words. He looked up at me and said that I taught him. I shook my head and he told me that he was working on saying it with as much feeling as I do.

I tried not to laugh and said that he shouldn't imitate me, not with those words. And then he looked me at asked why not. It is not our first conversation about cursing. In fact there are probably a few posts about this, but this time I figured I would take a different angle. So I asked him if he knew what the words meant and he said no.

So we ventured into dark territory to discuss what "goddamn asshole means." As I stepped off the cliff I realized that my son would probably ask me to define other words that he had heard. And knowing him, it could get interesting quickly because the dear lad would look at a term like "motherfucker" and want a literal definition and explanation. In fact, if I let it go that way he might even suggest that it really wasn't a bad thing.

But I really didn't want to have that discussion with him- not yet. Or maybe my reticence came from not having had the opportunity to think out what I was going to say. So as I stood there looking down at the little mister and his Lego set I found myself making a series of mental notes.

Mostly reminders to myself that the children are always watching what we do and how we do it. They may look preoccupied with other things, but they watch and they listen. It is not a secret or a surprise. These are all things that I know and are aware of.

But with all that has been going on lately I too have been preoccupied and to an extent living in my own world. So it was a good reminder to be aware of things. I don't worry about being a bad parent. I am a good dad, could be better, but overall not bad. I work hard for the kids and do my best to try to give them what they need.

And a good education is part of our responsibility as a parent, right. So really my teaching them these colorful terms is a good thing. I am just helping them to learn new and improved ways to express themselves. Ok, maybe not. Was kind of hoping that someone would buy into it, but I am not so why should you.

The thing about being a parent is that it never ends. There are moments when that is frustrating. Times when it is really hard because it doesn't matter if you are undergoing some personal challenge. You could be heartbroken or ecstatic and they see you. Depressed and disappointed and they see you.

The whole thing kind of reminds me of that line from Superchicken where they say "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it." Yep, I did and I accept it now as I did then. It is part of the reason that I am a daddy blogger. One day the kids will come read these posts and gain some insight as to who I am and why I do what I do.

And maybe it will help them see that parents are people. We are subject to the same rules that they are- except when that no one can send them to my room for saying "motherfucker."

A Daily Stop

I don't know how, who, when or what made me aware of Letters of Note. What I do know is that I get a lot of pleasure from the site. It is a collection of correspondence that I find to be quite interesting. Some of them are letters from celebrities and some of them are from people that are interesting for other reasons- such as the one the Kamikaze pilot wrote during WWII.

It has become a daily stop for me. Check it out.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Official trailer

I am a fan for a whole variety of reasons, but one of them is because I find JK Rowling intriguing. Her story is kind of cool, the whole rags to riches bit. As a writer I appreciate how she improved with each book.

Posted via email from thejackb's posterous

Some Recent Posts

Johnny Calls a Psychic

Sometimes the best way to deal with the challenges in life was to let go and laugh. Just laugh at the absurdity of all. Just laugh at the surreal, the bizarre and the incomprehensible moments and events of the day. It is not always easy to do, often it is quite hard. When you look at your world and wonder why the wheels haven't fallen off of the bus you have to ask why laugh.

Really, if things are serious and you feel that the situation is grim it can be hard to find your smile. But life is about perspective and sometimes when things get to be that crazy the first thing you lose is...perspective. You can become so close to the situation that you can't see the start or the end.

There were more than a few occasions where Johnny described feeling like he was sailing around the world, except the motor and mast were broken. He'd stand on the deck and slowly turn in a circle. There was no land to be seen, just endless miles of ocean.

It wasn't hard to imagine what it was he saw- nor was it hard to point out that endless miles of ocean meant calm seas. And calm seas provided an opportunity to try and work on whatever was broken to see if it was damaged beyond repair or salvageable.

Johnny was never particularly enamored with psychics. He expected that some of them might have some ability- stranger things could happen. But he also expected that the ranks were filled with frauds. It was too easy to prey upon people. Because the people that called, emailed or visited the psychics had relationship and or money issues. You didn't have to listen to the shows or visit to know this, it was just common sense.

Nonetheless when Johnny found out that there were free readings he decided to give it a go.  He already felt like he had lost perspective so it made sense to do something to shake it up. So he decided that he would try it, but just for the heck of it he would call two or three. It would be interesting to see if they said the same thing.

There was a big smile on his face as he dialed the first number. If she didn't tell him that she was expecting his call he would laugh, because as a psychic wasn't she supposed to know that he was going to visit/communicate with her. A moment later he was connected with the show and told that he should hold on as she would eventually get to him. It took some restraint not to ask the screener if the hold music was Love Potion #9.

For a while he sat on hold and listened the callers ask their questions. He was curious to see if they got excited or upset at the responses they received. Many of them were very appreciative and grateful for the advice they received. It was hard to tell if they were truly satisfied or just being polite- but none of that mattered all that much to Johnny. He was mostly curious to see if what he heard made sense or was just gibberish.

Eventually the woman got to him and asked him what he wanted to know about. So he gave her a general question about soul mates and asked if he had one. She told him that he did and that he already knew her. He tried to ask for some specifics and was told that this particular relationship took work and that she didn't know what would happen.

Johnny rolled his eyes and a small smirk came across his face. This was the sort of fence straddling that he had expected. There was a lot of truth in it and at the same time it was vague enough it could be applied to anyone.

So he went back to work and for a long while was completely immersed in it. After a while he was ready to take a break and he called in to a different show. This time the host used Tarot cards, but Johnny didn't care. He didn't really take it seriously so what difference did it make. When it came time to ask a question he made a point to phrase it the same was as he had before.

For a moment there was silence and then came the response. The card reader let him know that he knew his soul mate and that he shouldn't worry because within the next six months they would have their opportunity. In the interim the sole thing that he needed to do was work on his career and finances.

Another vague answer that could be applied to anyone, but he liked it. It didn't cost him a dime to talk to either of these people so there was nothing lost. He wasn't sure what would happen with June. He knew what he wanted, what he felt and what he thought but that didn't mean that it would work the way he wanted. But he agreed with being focused on himself. There wasn't anything to be lost by doing that.

"Everybody tells me I'm wrong
To want you so badly
(Badly, badly, badly)
But there's a force driving me on
I follow it gladly
(Gladly, gladly, gladly)
So let them laugh I don't care
'Cause I got nothing to hide
All that I want is you by my side"
Bend Me, Shape Me- The American Breed

A Musical Interlude

El Dorado- Iron Maiden
It is A Livin Thing- ELO
Beth- KISS
You're My Best Friend- Queen
Fooled Around and Fell In Love- Elvin Bishop
Strange Magic- ELO
W*O*L*D*- Harry Chapin
I'd Love To Change The World- Ten Years After
Call Me- Blondie
Highway To Hell- AC/DC
Shoot To Thrill- AC/DC
Junebug- B52s

I got my ass kicked at Dancing With The Stars

I had no idea that a trip to see Dancing With The Stars could make life so interesting. No idea that a few hours that were supposed to be devoted to Foxtrots and Waltzes and Paso Dobles would lead to being handcuffed next to a beautiful woman. Yes, I said handcuffed next to- not handcuffed to a beautiful woman.

And to be clear in different circumstances it would have been great to have been handcuffed to a beautiful woman.  Like in a private room where it was just the two of us with some wine, a fine meal and maybe some soft music. Let's be honest Mighty Jack has some game, but it is severely hampered by sitting in the back of a squad car because for some odd reason women don't find the idea of getting it on in the same place as the crackheads, rapists and murderers. Why that is I'll never know. I just classify it as one of life's mysteries.

But I digress. I suppose that some background is necessary. My friend Michael called and invited us to go with him and a few people to watch an episode of  Dancing With The Stars be taped. Truth is that I really didn't want to go but I haven't had time to hang out with Mikey in a while so I figured why not.

Thanks to LA traffic and DWTS policies we had to leave several hours ahead of the time the show was supposed to start taping. I sometimes wonder if the universe speaks to me, you know, if there are signs that are given to us to read. I can't say for certain whether there are or not- but I can tell you that traffic was so nasty I almost turned around. So maybe that was a sign. Maybe my guardian angel tried to warn me. Maybe he/she/it thought that turning a 25 minute commute into 90 minutes would be enough to dissuade me.

They were wrong. Maybe they thought that making parking a mighty pain I would have gotten fed up and turned around. They were wrong.  For future reference I ask that any messages that are sent are done so in a fashion that is easily understood, like smoke signals, Western Union or the beating of war drums.

Though it took a while we made it to the taping and joined the line of people waiting to get in. Did I mention the joy that I felt knowing that two hours after leaving my house I would be given the pleasure of standing in the 90 degree weather for god only knows how long. No, well then let me assure you that the smile on my face resembled The Joker.

It wasn't an ideal situation, but we were finally there and since we had time on our hands I figured it would be a good time to try and catch up with Mike. But people plan and G-d laughs and if you didn't know, he laughs harder at me than most.

We hadn't been there for much more than 15 minutes when a group of six or seven people came up and tried to cut in line just ahead of me. It seems that the contestant from the Jersey Shore has an entourage. Don't know if they were fans, friends or cousins and I don't care. You can't walk up and cut in line and expect no one to say anything. I have been around this town long enough to know that VIPs are given real VIP treatment. They don't leave you standing in line. So when the kid looked at me and said that they were VIPs I laughed and told him that the VIP line started just behind me.

He ignored me and turned around to face his friends. And this is where things took a turn....for the worst. I don't really care about this stupid show and have no interest in fighting about who gets to see Bristol Palin trip close up and personal. But I guess that when he turned his back on me I glared or shook my head. It doesn't really matter what I did, it was enough to catch the attention of one of the other boys in the group ahead of me.

He stared back and started talking, told me that there would be consequences if I didn't turn around. Actually he used far more colorful terms than that, but this is a family blog so I can't include them here. Being a shy and demure fellow I responded by explaining that if he engaged me he would lose the ability to use his right arm and probably be forced into eating baby food for several months.

Well it turns out that the Jersey Shore crowd has spent too much time watching The Sopranos because seconds later two of them were bumping chests with me. Had common sense prevailed this probably would have been the time to just walk away and find security. Although with the luck I had that day I probably would have found the guys from the Jerry Springer show so maybe there was no way to avoid what came next.

The guy standing in front of me pushed me. It wasn't a hard push. It was the kind you give when you are trying to either intimidate  or work up the nerve to actually hit the other guy. But I wasn't having it. You can't intimidate me and I am not going to wait for you to feel tough enough to take a swing. I stepped forward and headbutted the guy who pushed me. As he crumpled I jumped on top of the guy next to him.

There were too many guys. I never believed that I could take all of them, but I figured that if I moved quickly I could handle the situation long enough for security to arrive. At least that was the plan, but like I said earlier god laughs hard at me so things don't always work out the way we want.

As I wrestled with the guy beneath me I felt teeth in my shoulder. Yes, teeth. I didn't find out until later that the "beautiful woman" who I was sitting next to me had been the person who bit me. The guys had a field day with that one- can't count the number of times they said I was lucky it was my shoulder that she bit.

Anyway, in between, before or right after someone kicked me in the ass. Yep, took a fight in butt, or perhaps the more appropriate description is that I got my ass kicked at Dancing With The Stars. Maybe I should have paid more attention to those Buns of Steel videos I used to see around the house.

At some point two sets of arms pulled me off of the guy on the ground. I stood up and spun around to face the new threat. I am told that the tape shows that as I did I hit three different people. I didn't look like Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali- but they all took home some unexpected memories.

Had they been part of the studio audience on the Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune they would have received the home version of the game. Instead they got a broken nose, serious contusion on the side of their head and one hell of a bruise on their back. Would have been great if they had actually been a part of the fight, but they weren't.

One of them was a security guard and the other two were just bystanders who got far too close to the action. As I sat their in the back of the cop car I couldn't help but think of Charles Dickens- "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

And the worst part of it all was that I didn't even get to see the show. It was an elimination episode and I don't know who got sent home. And that my friends is a tragedy.

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

"Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This has become one of my favorite quotes. I have turned it into a bit of a mantra. It is a reminder that the man in the mirror is responsible my success or lack thereof. It is a reminder that I must always hold myself accountable for my actions.

Accountable and responsible for what I have or don't have. Accountable and responsible to placing stumbling blocks before myself and determining how to remove them. It is not always easy to do. Not always easy to look in the mirror and accept my role in how things play- but necessary.

Necessary because my acceptance of playing a part in things gone wrong also necessitates my accepting credit for good things. It is not always easy. I am very hard on myself and have always been so. If you read through the ramblings here you will see what I have said about being good enough.

I don't like it. I am good enough to get by in a million different areas. Smart enough, strong enough, athletic enough etc. That is fine and good- but it doesn't provide the sort of satisfaction that I want. I don't want to become complacent and simply accept whatever it is I have because I can do more and have more.

When I refer to having more it is not material possessions that I am discussing. I want more than I have but I don't necessarily need more. What I need is more peace of mind. What I need is more satisfaction and happiness in specific areas.

I am on a quest for those things. I have a mental checklist that I run through. I know where I am on that list and where it is I am heading. It is important to me so I stay on top of it.

As a father I work on all of these areas so that I can be a better parent. I work on teaching the kids to be accountable because the only people we can control are me, myself and I. If we take care of ourselves many of the little details fall into place.

It is not always easy to take on the burden of accepting responsibility for our actions. Sometimes there are things that are out of control. People aren't logical. They do stupid things and sometimes we react to them. Sometimes we are screwed by others. Sometimes we are mistreated and we take a hit. Life isn't fair. It never was and it never will be.

But if you worry about yourself you can do things to help prevent falling into the holes, traps and pitfalls that are otherwise presented.

Somewhere out there in the universe is a person that I'd like to talk to about this. Somewhere out there they walk and wonder as do I. Maybe they claim otherwise. Maybe they say that they don't wonder but I don't buy it and I don't really think that they do either.

If life were fair I wouldn't be writing about it. If life were fair this wouldn't be a topic- but it is not fair and I am writing. And I am making it clear to the universe that I am open and asking for help for this cause because it is worth doing.

At the end of the day all you can do is try hard. All you can do is go out and be responsible for yourself. And though I have sometimes found myself to be the victim of my own sabotage I think that ultimately I will get what I am looking because I am willing to do the work to make it happen.

In the interim I am working on doing what I can not to stand in my own sunshine.

Jack The Fireman

She called it Grief Revisited and it made me think about a bunch of things such as saying goodbye to my grandmother earlier this year. A few years ago I still had three grandparents and now I only have one. Grandma's voice is saved on my voicemail. It is a short message with her and grandpa singing happy birthday to me.

Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.- That is Yiddish for Man plans and God Laughs. And if ever there was a time where I understood that to be true it is now. I called this post Jack The Fireman because that is what I am doing-putting out fires.

Got a million things going on that all require my attention and it feels like half of them are things that have to be dealt with yesterday.

If this was an action movie I'd be the hero that is driving the car on the freeway. We're doing well over a 100 MPH except we are going the wrong way. Horns honk and fists are being shaken at me. The other drivers think I am crazy and maybe I am. But that is immaterial now because for better or for worse I am stuck.

Because this is the chase scene and my task is to get away from or capture the bad guys. I am moving with purpose. I didn't choose to do it this way, but this is how it is. Part of me feels alive. Part of me loves the challenge of dancing in the flames trying not to get burned. It is a test and I don't fail tests.

But I don't really want to just barely pass either. A satisfactory grade isn't going to make me smile. So I do what I need to do. I hit the radio and turn on some driving music and tune out the distractions. The horns and fists of the other drivers are seen but not acknowledged. I am focused on what lies immediately ahead of me but keeping an eye out for the exit that must lay just a little bit ahead.

The plans I made so that none of this would happen didn't exactly pan out. Some of them worked and others...well they just didn't happen. My grandfather, the self proclaimed atheist has had a very difficult time with the holidays. The first set without grandma. He leans on me for support and talks to me about life. He starts to cry and tries to hide the tears from me.

Looks at me and tells me that when you love someone as deeply as he loved grandma life feels empty without them. Asks me what I would do if I spent 85 years living with the most beautiful woman ever. Tells me that at 96 it is too hard to start over and that he won't. I nod and smile and tell him that we'll have to talk about it when I am 96. I'll let him know if he is right.

He laughs and says that he is working on making it to 100. The kids run by and he laughs watching them play. Tells me that my six year-old nephew asked him what he does now that grandma is dead. Oy, sometimes the kids are a bit less empathetic than we would like.

I listen to his stories and do my best to file them away. As he talks about grandma I think about how she would have appreciated my telling her that I am a fireman. Grandma didn't complain- she did. She just took on whatever came and handled it.

There is a checklist of things to do sitting next to me. I am running down the list and crossing them off as I go. The plan wasn't to have all of this come down at once. The plan was to deal with all of these things in bite size pieces- not chunks that threaten to choke me.

I can hear my other grandfather speaking to me. Can hear him tell me that all you can do is try your best. Can hear him tell me that you can only play the cards that you are dealt. It is 4.5 years since we lost him but I carry him with me. Can still see the twinkle in those blue eyes. I remember the firetruck that he gave me when I was little.

Wonder if he would be surprised to see me playing fireman now. Doesn't matter because the one thing that I know for certain is that whatever I did/do grandpa had my back. And with that it is time to stop reminiscing- got to focus on the highway and do what I can to avoid that tractor trailer that is dead ahead of me....

Fragments of Fiction Update

If you are one of the 17 long time readers you know that when I am not pretending to be a daddy blogger I am working on one of my 39 unpublished novels. Here in cyberspace you get to pull up a cyber seat and read the mutterings, utterings and musings of a half crazy mad man named Jack.

Consider for a moment that one day I could be a published author of 39 books who managed to sell a grand total of 8-31-68-5-9-69 books.  What, you say that I didn't include a real number there. Well brother if you hang around long enough you might get the chance to read a story called The Return of The Shmata Queen or how one man tamed the crazy clevelander turned Texan. Also known as "I told you that LeBron would never stay with the Cavs"

It is tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury- signifying nothing. Oops, just plagiarized Shakespeare.

So here is the real purpose of this post. I am trying to collect all of the inserts for Fragments of Fiction. The goal is to eventually take them and turn them into the book and or movie I keep talking about. If you are interested in reading them you can find quite a few of them over here and here.

Dad The Hero

"Dad, I need to write about my hero, so I am going to write about you." Those are the words that my son shared with me yesterday morning. Words that thrilled and terrified me. He looked up at me with a sparkle in his eyes and a huge smile on his face.

I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder. There were so many things that I wanted to say and yet no words came out of my mouth. I looked at him and understood the feeling and where it comes from. I feel that same way about my father, but he has earned it. Me, I am not sure if I really have. Can't help but wonder what he would think if he really knew all that there was to know about me.

It is sort of a silly thought because at almost ten years-old there is no reason to have that kind of knowledge. He doesn't really need it. No reason for him to worry or be concerned about some of the things that occupy my mind. No reason for him to know about the insomnia, headaches and stomachaches that have helped remove some of the hair on my head.

Some of the challenges are a direct result of my own actions and some of them have nothing to do with me. The deaths and the illnesses are out of my control. I may kid around about being the Angel of Death but I am not him/her/it. It is probably a good thing- at least for the people who cut me off on the freeway.

I want to own the title. I want to wear the crown that he has placed upon my head with comfort, but at the moment I can't. Too much is happening. Too many changes coming at me too quickly. I know exactly what is going on. I am completely aware of every challenge and what is required to overcome them.

And that is part of the problem. Some of them are beyond my control. Some of the challenges are things that for lack of a better example can be compared to forces of nature. Call me a sailor who has to deal with storms and waves. The ship is being battered and tossed around a bit. I can scream at the sky and threaten the universe.

It wouldn't be the first time and it probably won't be the last. But the thing is that it really doesn't matter whether I shout, scream, cry or remain silent. What is coming cannot be avoided. So the best thing to do is hit it head on and figure out the easiest way to navigate our way through.

I am cautiously optimistic. No matter what happens I always land on my feet. The real question is how many blows will I have to take in the process. Can't say that it is all that different from what other parents deal with. Some of you have more difficult challenges and others have less. Either way those are yours and not mine to deal with. I am cool with that.

For now all I want to do is try to earn that title the kid bestowed upon me. If you compare life to a poker game, well- I haven't played my last card yet so there is still a long way to go.

Round Up of Recent Posts

Jewish Humor

A couple of jokes for you.
"A man was walking through the woods to go visit a dear friend. As he was walking he stumbled and his yarmulke fell off of his head. So he bent over to pick it up and upon standing up he noticed a bear standing in front of him.

He froze in fear and began to tremble. As he stood there he watched in amazement as the bear stood up and placed a yarmulke on his own head and began to daven.

He thought to himself, "I am saved, I have found the only Jewish bear in creation!" So he breathed a sigh of relief and began to daven and give thanks to G-d.

He finished just in time to hear the bear utter the last words of the bear's prayer -- hamotzi lekhem min ha-aretz.*"

(*the blessing that is said before meals)
"A Priest and a Rabbi are riding in a plane. After a while, the Priest turns to the Rabbi and asks, "Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?"

The Rabbi responds, "Yes, that is still one of our beliefs."

The Priest then asks, "Have you ever eaten pork?"

To which the Rabbi replies, "Yes, on one occasion I did succumb to temptation and tasted pork."

The Priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading. A while later, the Rabbi spoke up and asked the Priest, "Father, is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?"

The Priest replied, "Yes, that is still very much a part of our faith."

The Rabbi then asked him, "Father, have you ever fallen to the temptations of the flesh?"

The Priest replied, "Yes Rabbi, on one occasion I was weak and broke with my faith."

The Rabbi nodded understandingly for a moment and then said, "A lot better than pork isn't it?"
Last one for now.
"Yeshiva University's new rowing team was the embarrassment of the entire sports department (which wasn't so hot to begin with!) They not only finish dead last in every competitio, but consistently cross the finish line many minutes, even hours, after their opponents. Finally, they send Goldfarb to spy on the top-rated Harvard Crew team, in the hopes of gaining some helpful insight. Lurking in the Cambridge boathouse, he watches the team practice in the Charles River. For an entire week he observes their methods.

Finally, he returns to New York, where his teammates gather anxiously to hear his information.

"I figured out their secret!" he tells them excitedly.

"Nu!? Tell us! Tell us!" demand his teammates, impatiently.

"They have eight guys rowing," he pronounces, authoritatively."and only ONE guy yelling!!"

What I Would Say

A man sits in the corner of a coffee shop and closes his eyes. His cup is half full but not in the philosophical sense of the word.  His life is good, rich and full of love and meaning. Ear buds extend from his computer into his ears and one can only guess what it is that he is listening to. His head bobs back and forth and a soft smile flashes across his face.

It is not clear whether his solitude is self imposed or if he is waiting for someone. At least these are the thoughts and feelings that I have gathered from a brief glance at his corner of the room. As an avid people watcher and story teller I can't help but look and wonder. It is part of my process- that is the fancy term I use for how I develop characters and story lines for my books.

I head out into the world and set up a place to sit and watch. I stare at the people around me and develop the stories of their lives. The woman standing in line in front of me has a story. She is in her early forties and recently divorced. A mother of children who are about the same age as my own she is busy trying to feel her way in the world. She is not who she was and isn't really sure of who she wants to be.

Can't tell you whether any of this is true- but I can make some fairly accurate guesses. I am facing the door so I saw her park a minivan. She is not wearing a wedding ring on her finger and it is early evening. Not to play on stereotypes, but this would be the "right" time for her to be making dinner and or helping with homework. There is no sense of urgency about her so I am guessing that she doesn't have the kids tonight.

I recognize the little key card on her key chain as belonging to one of the local gyms. Happens to be my gym, but I don't recognize her. Although that doesn't mean much as I try to hit the joint during the off hours.  Her back is to me and I wonder if she can feel me staring. I sometimes forget how intense my stare can be but I haven't forgotten about the sort of response such a look can engender. A strange man staring sometimes receives a smile in return but not always.

I am not staring because I find her to be attractive although there is that. But her look reminds me very much of the girl that I lost. That woman from my past who made my heart pound and my soul stir. That is who she reminds me of. It brings a wistful smile across my face and I kind of snort as I picture talking to the lady grabbing coffee.

"Hi, you look like someone I loved very deeply. Would you mind talking to me so I can see if your voice sounds like her? And if it wouldn't be too much trouble, let me stare at you for a moment.I want to figure out if my imagination is playing tricks on me or if you just happen to be her twin."

That ought to go over well, as every woman wants a man to tell her that she reminds him of someone else. Might as well call her the wrong name in bed. If you are going to get in trouble go for broke.

The coffee lady stood there for another moment and then her order was completed and she moved over to fill her cup with cream, sugar or whatever it was that she took her drink with. I watched her for a moment longer and turned away. I had her story or enough of it and it wasn't what I wanted. Or maybe it was that once I associated her with my past I couldn't see a point in continuing.

It is one of those clever lies that we tell ourselves when something is too painful to continue. That lady from the past was one of the great loves of my life, if not the love of my life. And her absence from mine left a giant hole in my heart that hadn't ever been filled. That's not uncommon or unfamiliar to many of us.

We find people that we wish to spend our lives with and for whatever reason it doesn't work and we end up with a smoking crater in the center of our chests. Sometimes that hole is filled by someone or something else and you move on- but not always.

Some people touch us in ways that others can't. Sometimes they light up the entire of our being and fill us with joy. If you haven't had that experience you won't have a clue what I am talking about or why years later it would still be painful to touch upon that loss. To be clear it is not impossible to move on- even if you don't find a way to fill the hole you do find ways to adapt and adjust.

Time doesn't heal all wounds but it does make it possible to move on. The challenge is that sometimes you can't help but find reminders of what was and those moments can set off thoughts and memories that you might not wish to visit.

When I look back on what happened to us I have a very clear understanding. She might tell you otherwise. She might tell you that I am engaged in revision but that is part of the joy of finding the truth because there is yours, hers and reality. And they don't always intersect. But the joy of this tale is that I am the one writing it so I get to tell you what really happened.

And in my version I share the story of two people who loved each other fiercely. There was passion and there was love. But there was also friendship. It was the perfect recipe. Or if you prefer math you could say that the fractions added up to a whole. A third, plus a third, plus a third.

That friendship is important. They had the love. They had the passion that drove them to constantly want to touch each other. But the friendship was the glue. They became best friends who understood each other in ways that no other ever had. Come to think of it there might be reason to adjust that equation so that friendship plays a bigger part, but that is not really important now.

I could tell you about how she told him that it was tragic that two people who were meant to be together weren't. I could tell you about it made his heart break to hear that and how he felt trapped. About how it made him feel like less of a man. It would be easy to relate the whole sordid tale about how something so good got so messy and convoluted.

Or maybe it would make more sense to share other thoughts. Because a day came when she declared them to be nothing more than friends. The girl who would giggle when she talked about bearing his children said that friendship was all they had.

Well I called bullshit on that. Said that I didn't buy or believe it as it couldn't be true. But she did all that she could to enforce that and there wasn't much that I could to change it. I don't believe that she truly believed it either, but I think that she tried real hard to convince herself of it. If I was an attorney prosecuting this case I could supply evidence that shows how her actions contradicted her words- but again that is not the point.

By then the waters had gotten so muddy that neither one of us could see clearly. If we had been smarter we would have walked away much earlier than we did. Would have split up so that we would have time to gain the perspective that we had lost. But we didn't and we didn't because it hurt to be apart.

So we muddled on and did what we could to keep going. But the wheels on the bus had already broken and the damn thing had become impossible to steer. Little nicks, scrapes and bruises were what really did us in. The little things that we used to ignore pushed our hands right off of the wheel and we crashed into a wall or went off a cliff.

And in my anger I laid down an ultimatum that she ignored. So I decided that it was time to make it clear that though she owned my heart and soul I wouldn't tolerate some things. I left that day. Walked away and did my best not to look back. Didn't rant and rave. Didn't tell her how angry and hurt I was. There were very few words.

I used to think that it was because I was so angry. I used to think that my silence came from simply not knowing what to say. But now I see it differently. I suppose that if you wanted to accuse me of revisionist thinking this would be the time. Because I see my silence now as a last ditch attempt to keep hope alive. I didn't excoriate her the way that I wanted to because those were words that I never wanted to use. Words that couldn't be taken back ever.

That was then and this is now. Years later I sit here in this coffee shop wondering about things left unsaid. Wondering if she has ever read any of my books and whether she ever thinks about me. Curious if sometimes in the quiet of the night she thinks about what we had and wonders where I am. So I sit here and I think about the mistakes I made and how that ache never has gone away.

It is disconcerting to have this go on for so long which is part of why I wonder about her. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am just some crazy idiot- but she did tell me that she couldn't imagine a time where she wouldn't feel like that either so who knows.

Can't help but sit here for a moment and picture her. Can't help but think about what I would say. Because I still believe that she wouldn't see me because if she had she never would have been able to fool herself into believing this fiction. Things would have been tough. It might not have been easy, but when we were together nothing felt more real or more right.

I once told her that if we were separated for a decade or more my soul would always know hers. And that if those years passed all it would take for us to remember is that one kiss. One damn kiss and nothing was ever the same. It might sound silly, but I don't think that I have ever stopped believing that there wouldn't be another.

But that thought will have to wait a while. For now my liquid mistress needs my attention. This mug needs to filled with some liquid gold or I shall find myself lost in slumber.

A Pirate Sails For Parts Unknown

Another year has come and gone. Rosh Hashanah has made its appearance followed by Yom Kippur and here I sit, Jack the pirate king. Or is it more accurate to say on this Talk Like a Pirate Day that Jack the Pirate King no longer runs a kingdom. The man who mastered all that he saw got caught up in this and that and in the process lost his kingdom.

Would that be more truthful and more accurate to say that now he rules over a kingdom of ash and shadows. The man who was the Pirate King could be referred to as he who has mastered memory and nothing more. Or maybe not. Maybe the joy and beauty of being a pirate is that what you lose can always be recovered because a pirate is not limited by rules or convention.

Been a while since I raised my flag and spent time as the scourge of the seas. Been far too long since the thunder of my cannons and the clang of my steel caused men to quiver in fear. Been far too long since that wench brought me some grog and more than a while since I spent time on my private beach.

Time to chase that which lies just around the bend and to roam where the wind and waters send me. Arrrrgh!

Past posts that discussed pirates:

Haveil Havalim- The Once & Future Edition- Contains a Pirate Post.
Do You Have An Accent

Pirate Attacks Down Sharply

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day

The Jewish Pirates of The Caribbean

Talk Like a Pirate Day
Talk Like a Pirate Day

Words And Music

Thoughts, ideas, words and images wrestle for top billing inside my head. Sadness, anger and frustration are involved in a duel with hope, joy and happy memories. I had thought about saying that the former were involved in a death match with the latter but it just doesn't work. Doesn't work because it is a bit more melodramatic than I want and because it simply isn't real.

Thinking, feeling and thoughtful humans will never reach a place where they can hide from darkness and that is ok. It is not that I am a fan of sadness and disappointment but rather because they help us understand joy. They help to bring balance and appreciation to our lives and while I will always wish for more joy than sadness I won't cry if it it doesn't happen.

Woman, if you'd pull your damn head out of the mud and much you might be surprised at what you see and what you hear. I did the best that I could to turn off my mind so that I could float along the sea inside my head. Did it because it long ago became apparent that the smartest thing I could do was be with myself and work on me. Not because I am broken, damaged or angry. I am all of those things and none of them.

What I needed was time to clean the junk out of my head and clear the cobwebs from the corners of my mind and I did a pretty damn good job of it. Had to fix things so that damn internal GPS of mine could do the right thing and start following the right path.
"Be very careful if you make a woman cry because G-d counts her tears. Every tear a woman shed is equivalent of a man’s sacrifices in life. The woman came from a man’s rib — not on his feet to be stepped on; not on his head to be superior, but on his side to be equal; under his arms to... be protected and near his heart to be loved.” 

You know that I believe this. You know that even though I have had moments where I fell short that I lived it. I am guilty of many things. Done more than my share of good and bad. Been smart, been foolish, been lonely and afraid. But have also been brave and daring. Been the hero, not just any hero but your hero. Whenever there was a challenge I rode out to meet it. When you let me help I was always there at your side to fight whatever battles needed to be fought. When you needed hand holding my hand held yours and when you needed a shoulder to cry upon that was there for you too.

I don't need to provide a laundry list of reasons for or against. Don't need to share a resume because you KNOW what I say is true. You KNOW these things for the same goddamn reasons I do. So when it was appropriate I begged and groveled for your forgiveness. I bared my soul and my neck for you as I have done for no other.

So when you see fire in my eyes and feel the heat emanating from me remember the how and why. Remember that when I said I would burn and ache for you I did it without reservation. Might have taken me a little time to get there, but I did.

Been reading those quotes from Walk the Line. They still make me smile because they are more than a little bit familiar to us. Read 'em again woman and tell me that they don't do the same to you. 

We have words and we have music. And it is about time that you admit that we have something more.

6th Week of The Daddy Blog Hop

The rules...

1. You need to be a father. New father, old father, soon to be father, want some day to be a father, father...doesn't matter. You just need to be a dad. (Or a really awesome mom!)

2. You must own and maintain your own blog.

3. If you meet the requirements for rules one and two, look back over your posts from the past week, from Friday to Friday. Re-read them all.

4. Choose the post you feel was your particular BEST for the week. It can be funny, helpful, sad, dramatic, deep, light...whatever. Pick the post that most reflects you and what your awesome blog has to offer.

5. Follow the host. That's me. It's quick and painless and I always follow back. (This part is optional, but oh so appreciated!)

6. Put your blog address and a short description of the post in the Linky link located below. Be short but concise. (You know...like twitter!)

7. After you are on the list, surf the posts of the other dads and follow as many as you can. Read and above all else COMMENT! We all know that comments are to bloggers what a keg of Dear Park water is to a desert nomad.

8. Grab the code below, create a new post on your blog, and enter it so you can share the growing list with all your followers. Then just sit back and let it grow!

Don't forget to share the link to this post. Via Twitter, Email, IM, or carrier pigeon. The more moms and dad we can get to link up, the more we can influence our corner of the web with good, positive, humorous parenting.

The Beach

Twenty-five years ago at the height of the John Hughes era a teenage boy and his friends walked down HaYarkon street in Tel Aviv and headed towards the water.

Endless hours running around shirtless had taken his olive skin and turned it a golden brown. Americans would approach him slowly and ask in broken Hebrew for directions to the bathroom or for recommendations for a place to go eat.

He thought it was funny to let them struggle to ask the question and then answer them in flawless English. Sometimes they would look at him and ask how he had learned to speak English and he would say that 16 years in Los Angeles helped. It was the truth, but not everyone believed him. More than a few had told him that they wished that they could speak Hebrew as well as he spoke English.

It made him laugh to hear that. He spoke decent Hebrew, but had a thick American accent that made him self conscious. But he quickly learned how to fool other Americans into thinking that he was Israeli or from somewhere else. There wasn't really a reason for doing so other than it was different. But that was part of being a teenager, exploring life and trying to figure out who he was supposed to be.

As they approached the beach he and his fellows immediately began to search for the best place to set up camp. They wanted to be close to the water and close to girls. In the midst of the summer heat it was a bit of a toss up as to which was more important, girls or the water. They were to use a tired phrase, footloose and fancy free.

Their parents and siblings were all back in the states. Ten thousand miles away they lived in a dorm in a time before email, Skype and many of the other modern luxuries that technology provides today. In their minds mom and dad were out of sight, out of mind. While the reverse might not have been true, it didn't matter. They felt like the kings of the universe.

It lent a certain amount of swagger to their stride- perhaps unearned and undeserved it existed nonetheless. In a matter of hours that extra swagger would give that teenage boy the confidence to ask a girl to spend time alone with him. Under the moonlit sky they would stare out at the Mediterranean and talk about the futures they imagined for themselves.

The main difference between them was that she was there with her family. It would take a while, but eventually he would work up the nerve to kiss her. A soft kiss that spoke of possibilities for something more- or so he remembered it. Not long after she would hug him and then mutter something about getting in trouble for not checking in with her folks. He would try to walk her back but his efforts would be rebuffed.

One moment she was in his arms and the next she was racing across the sand to a hotel. Alone on the sand he stared up at the moon and got lost again in the magic of the moment.

I May Be in Your Vacation Photos

I am a bit puckish in nature. I love silly tricks, slapstick comedy and all sorts of goofy stuff. Some might even say that I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor.

In my younger years I went through a phase in which I thought that it was great fun to surreptitiously place myself in the background of pictures and home videos. It was a game in which my friends and I would try to see who could end up in the most. We had to use the honor system as it was virtually impossible to verify who was the actual winner.

There was one basic rule to this game. We avoided wedding, funeral, Bar-Mitzvah or similar type occasion photos.

The game was a lot of fun and lent itself to some memorable moments. Back in 1988 I was in Georgetown visiting a friend when we decided to go to see the Washington Monument. While we were there I decided that there was no better moment than the present to try out my hand as a tour guide.

So I spent a few minutes searching for a good target and identified a family of four. Dad was busy videotaping the kids and mom at the monument. Having determined that they were a good candidate I took a deep breath and walked right into the middle of the shoot and introduced myself as a member of the Monument Mounties or something like that (my memory is a little rough) and welcomed them to D.C.

I then spent a few minutes providing them with interesting facts about the monument. They played along or maybe they bought into it, who knows.

All I know is that somewhere there is footage of a 19 year-old kid with a flat top haircut, a blue tank top, shorts, sunglasses and fanny pack giving this family a great welcome to our nation's capital. Later on I did the same thing at the Capitol, The Smithsonian and near the White House.

Since then I have managed to travel around most of the US, parts of Mexico, Europe, Canada and the Middle East. One of my silly claims to fame is that having played the game on multiple continents and more than one island.

So the next time you look at photos of your last vacation, business trip or adventure take a look in the background and see if there is a semitic looking man smiling and/or waving at you. You just might have proof of my having won the game, or maybe not.

(yep, it is a recycled post but done so with a purpose)

Who I Am Now Is Not Who I Was- Atonement

Yom Kippur begins tomorrow night and I am at a loss because who I am now is not who I was. That is the sort of cryptic, new agey comment that I hate. I look at it and say what the fuck does that mean. It is gibberish and not the authentic frontier gibberish that they used in Blazing Saddles.

When I asked Scary Mommy if she was interested in a guest post she said yes and asked me to provide a short biography. Here is what I shared there:

The Jack B. is a writer and author of 39 unpublished books and three screenplays. A former athlete and would be superhero he still fights for truth, justice and the American Way. Though he may look like a grown man, don’t fool yourself he is still a boy at heart. When he is not engaged in Walter Mitty like fantasies he is a husband, father and friend and blogs at Random Thoughts.

Some of that is true and some of that is what I want to be true. I am not going to bother providing you with the details of what is what- read it and decide for yourself what is or isn't. And for the last time, my real name is not Jack. Call it a pen name, a pseudonym or whatever the hell you want to it really doesn't matter to me. Way back in the ice age when I launched this beast I called a blog I wanted complete anonymity. It suited my needs and purpose.

Now the need for anonymity is less clear and I have become semi-anonymous and for the moment that suits me too.

If it isn't clear by the tone and tenor of this piece I am angry, incensed, irritated, disconcerted and discombobulated by a few things. The shit has hit the fan and I am busy wiping chunks of it off of my face and the surrounding walls.

Some of it can be attributed to me. I take responsibility for those things. I hold myself accountable and that is part of my anger and frustration because the buck stops with me. But, that doesn't prevent me from seeing the bigger picture. That doesn't prevent me from being aware of what was outside of my control and the role those things played in this particular play.

So on the eve of the day of atonement I find myself wearing what my son used to call my angry face. It is like a freaking Halloween mask that has been glued to my face. As I walked through the mall people who caught my eye moved away from me. They made room and I walked on by as if I was Moses splitting the Red Sea. Walked on by and headed to my vehicle because I needed to hit the gym. Walked on by because I knew that time with the weights, heavy bag and steam room would help.

And it did. The endorphin release brought blessed relief and moments of clarity. In the land of Hollywood it would be great to say that this moment of clarity led to the happy ending- but it didn't. It didn't because the challenges we face in life aren't solved in 90 minutes.

Instead it confirmed for me that the path I have chosen may be rocky and uneven but I am getting closer to the finish line all the time. The solutions that I seek are coming. Some have been implemented and I see the fruits of my labor. Some of it is less clear, but I am doing what I can to make it happen.

Part of my frustration stems from my dreams and expectations. Who I once was never would have expected to see me doing what I do now. Some of that is because he was young and naive and some because he wasn't as worn out.

But he also wasn't as tough. He couldn't have written these posts and admitted how hard it has been. He couldn't have looked in the mirror and accepted what was fed and forced upon him. So while I may say that who I am now is not who I was it is also not who I will be.

This challenge is a moment in time, a blip that may make life more irritating but cannot last. Things will turn and the sunshine will warm both my back and my face again.

So on the eve of the day of atonement I ask myself if I am ready to speak with someone who has been silent for far too long. I ask because I don't know if I am. I ask because I am furious and the fire burns as brightly as it ever has, even if the oxygen seems to have been cut off.

And in truth I wonder about this strictly because of signs. I ask because the universe is playing and I can't figure out if what I see is random happenstance or something else. But something tells me that I am going to find out.

Pallywood Posts

 I think a bunch of the posts about Pallywood that have been written and or linked here have to be updated. Probably a bunch of bad links, k...