Sunday, March 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Jackson....

Jackson and Parker at Pack Meeting
Nine years ago today my son Jackson was born.  I still remember the day.  It was an early morning c-section and we arrived at the hospital before it was light out.  On top of that I was SICK.  I had a fever, felt like crap, and had to run to the bathroom several times while Kelly was prepped for surgery.  The rest of the morning is a blur of activity, him being born, me not being sick any more and viola it was all over and we had ourselves our first son.  Pretty amazing shit really.  There were no complications and we had the whole family back home in just a few days.

     Jackson has amazed me in the last nine years.  He is compassionate, gentle, and thoughtful.  Everything I’m not.  He has an imagination that rivals my own (which is saying something).  He see’s the world through a set of glasses that I envy.  He see’s everything and he see’s the good in all of it.  He wanted to deconstruct it and understand why it exists, why it does whatever its supposed to do.  My biggest challenge has been to not destroy that with my jaded cynical self.    He’s just an amazing kid.

     In the end it’s this kindness and his imagination that I am most proud of.  Right now, as I type this, I can hear him in the background playing.  He’s running back and forth, through the living room and into his room, yelling and shooting at imaginary beats.  (actually I think right now he’s fighting a pokemon if I understand the phrases he keeps calling out).  He can do this for hours!  Hours I tell you.  It’s pretty amazing really.  He doesn’t need toys, nor does he really use the ones he begs us for, to do this.  It’s just him in his little world have a blast.

     I mentioned earlier that he thoughtful and it shows through every day.  I remember a year or so ago (impressive isn’t it!?) we gave him some money for books at the schools book fair.  He got himself something but he also got his sisters something if I recall right.  That’s just the boy he is.  He loves his grandparents a ton but especially his grandmothers.  I truly hope he stays this way for the rest and I’ll do everything I can to make sure that happens.  He makes me proud to be his father.  Happy Birthday Jackson! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jury Duty Made Me Do It......


     All this week I’ve been on Jury Duty stand-by and today I finally had to go in.  I was prepared for a long haul sitting in the main room reading a book on the iPhone or worse sitting in a court room listening to the same talk by the Judge and the lawyers time after time after time.  This, however, was not to be.  Nope, instead we were released around 9:30am.  To late to make a Supervisors meeting and too late to make the CPR class that followed said meeting I decided I had a day to myself.  I had no responsibilities at all and no obligations.  I just knew I didn’t want to do the ‘usual’.  So I started to drive….and drive….and drive some more until I found myself trundling down the 76 heading towards Oceanside.  Wanting to make it more of an adventure I started taking the odd left or right at streets I recognized the name of.  It’s amazing how little Oceanside of 2016 looks from the Oceanside of my youth.  I managed to find my way to the Oceanside Pier.  It wasn’t particularly crowded but I also didn’t want to pay for parking so I just kept driving south along the Oceanfront.  It was high tide and the waves were breaking on the rocks really close to the road which was pretty cool.  I rolled down the windows and breathed in the sweet ocean smell.  A smell that instantly takes me back to my youth.  I’m not really sure why because we didn’t spend all that much time at the beach as kids.  I think maybe just the hint of the smell of the ocean is in the air even as far inland as Vista and now it means I’m home.  Or not…..maybe I’m just trying to be ‘romantic’ for romantics sake.  It was a lovely drive that led me through Oceanside and into Carlsbad.  
     At this point I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  There was always the stand bye of going into Encinitas to the REI.  Going all the way down to Ocean Beach to the book store Mysterious Galaxies or even all the way down to SeaPort village.  It was almost intoxicating knowing I had all of these choices, endless possibilities in front of me to choose from.  Yet none of these choices really rang true for me.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go all the way down to San Diego, didn’t have any spare money to buy anything at REI or the bookstore, so I just stopped.  Sometimes your best bet when faced with many choices is to stop.  Smell the roses.  Take in the moment.  Be present in the now.  So I pulled over to the side of the road near where many many people were also parked and I got out of the car and joined the throngs of people enjoying the beach.
     I was swept up in the wave of people walking, jogging, rollerskating, dancing, working out, riding their bikes, surfing, and doing yoga on the beach.  There were dogs everywhere you looked and the sweet sounds of the surf pouring over us all.  I let my mind drift and I walked.  I walked to count the steps for the day.  I walked to see how far I wanted to go. I walked to take in the moment, the people, and the beauty of the high tide.  I’m actually not entirely sure you could call what I was doing as walking.  It was more of a slow stroll, stopping every few moments to enjoy the spectacle of the surfers catching the waves or the many high end bikes that whizzed by me.  Usually at this point I’d be looking at the bicyclists and thinking to myself how awesome it would be to be out with them doing the same but this morning it was different.  This morning I was content to stroll, to watch, to breath in the world and settle into the sense of being.  

     In the end I walked a little over seven thousand feet or roughly three miles.  Enjoyed the fresh air and was quite content to end the morning driving off down Pacific Coast Highway and past the old SDG&E power plant before continuing on with my little road trip through roads I’d never seen or heard of.  Eventually I found my way to this moment.  Munching on a late lunch, content that I spent my morning well, refreshed and ready to head back to the rat race.  My little timeout was nice and now I’m ready to dive back into my work week and handling the day to day minutia of raising a family.   

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Once there was a blog....

         I once had a blog.  I don’t think it was a successful blog but my Mom liked it.  I suppose a few friends liked it to but it was mostly family or at least a large portion of a pretty tiny friends list on Facebook.  I’d put up a post and link to it in Facebook and then the views would rack up.  They’d die down soon enough and I’d want to see the numbers soar again so I’d post again.  It was fun…until it wasn’t.  Well it was always fun but I had envisioned something else.  Perhaps something more.  I wanted to be recognized.  I wanted a book deal, strangers to find my blog and go from getting a 100 hits to 1000 hits or more….a hundred thousand hits maybe.  I kept it up for close to a year.  It’s filled with the drivel that oozed from my brains.  Some of it was good, most of it wasn’t.  There is a travel post, a review post, some pictures, and some Flash Fiction.  There are exactly 42 posts on there.  The first being in February of 2013 and the last being on May 4th, 2014 which while super poignant about Star Wars on May 4th is almost 2 years old.  So am I back?  Am I a glutton for punishment?  I’m not really sure how to answer either of those questions although with four kids I’d say it’s probably a yes to the later.  

The first paragraph of this here post seems to be a bit down, somehow denigrating my skills as a writer and perhaps it should be but really it’s just a statement of the facts.  I love my friends and my family and I’m glad they read my posts and enjoyed them but it always felt as if I was the ugly kid in Kindergarten that my mother swore wasn’t.  I wanted recognition outside the circle of friends and I wanted to be a part of the ‘writer’s community’.  That didn’t happen.  I was sad.  Now I’m not.  So maybe I am back.  

I turned 43 the other day.  It was a nice day but it’s also eye opening to know that changes are I have fewer days in front of me than I do behind me.  I realize I’m on the bullet train to the big light in the sky which is ok with me but it’s not okay to have a dream or a goal or whatever you might want to call this and to ignore it.  Some people are naturally gifted, some people have to work at things and some people find no joy in any of it.  I like to write….actually to put it more bluntly I love to write.  I love to put my thoughts down on paper…errrr…screen.  To type away madly as the thoughts pour from my head to my hand to my screen and then to the dear readers eye-holes.  It’s pretty freaking fantastic and I miss it when I’m not doing it.  

So I’m here to tell you I want to try to bring Writesanity back. It’s a killer name for a mediocre blog belonging to a mediocre writer who has yet to actually publish much.  I also want to tell you now, this is what I’ll use as practice as I begin working on a book.  The one thing in my life I have not done that I really want to do.  Publish a Book!!!  TO have a book complete with my name under the title and kick ass cover wrapped around a few hundred pages.  That is the stuff dreams are made of.  Lots of people have had the same dream and lots of people have obviously failed.  There are used books stores dotted all over the US with those failures and even more raving lunatics in funny farms hugging themselves close who didn’t even get the chance to enter the Used Book Store Purgatory.  I want to rise above that.  I want to be better (sorry raving lunatics - you’re a good group of peeps but not for me).  

So as of today March 7th, 2016 I am declaring myself a writer once again.  I will post more regularly and I will be working on a book.  Before anyone asks, no I don’t know what the book will be about.  For the first time in a long time I have no idea what I’m going to write.  I didn’t when I sat down to write this little piece of nonsensical prattling but I will figure it out.  I’ll brainstorm, mind map, and outline my way to a decent collection of pages that you’ll want to keep turning and then like the rest of my imagined fans will demand another and I will write it and there will be ensuing cheering by the masses.  Okay, maybe not but a man can dream.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You...Always.

The comic book that fueled my love of all things Star Wars
          Today is Star Wars day and it’s made look back several times over my thirty-three years or so of loving all things Star Wars.  I was too young to remember A New Hope, I was just four years old after all.  The Empire Strikes Back, though, now that movie I remember.  I know my Aunt took me to the movie but I don’t remember a whole lot of the movie itself.  She says I went to the bathroom a lot but I honestly don’t remember it much.  I have a vague recollection of Hoth but that’s about it from that experience.  What got me hooked, and I mean really hooked was a copy of the second edition of Marvel’s comic book adaptation of the same movie.  It was slightly larger than a normal comic and the colors were very stark but that book is what opened up my mind and my world to all that was Star Wars.  I had some toys before that too, the Death Star play set figures prominently in my memories as does the Falcon playset but that comic was my ‘gateway to geekdom’. (Geekgate?  Gateway Geek?)

                I’m not exactly sure what about the series that hooked me so completely and continues to hook me even now as an adult.  Maybe because it had it all; swords, action, flying ships, guns, and rogues just to name a few things!? My seven year old brain sucked it all up and from then on my world was set.  It was my Errol Flynn, my Three Musketeers, Zorro, and Lone Ranger all wrapped
Oh Yeah!! The Death Star!!
into three movies.  It scared me (that Wompa was not a nice creature) and in the beginning I wasn’t even too sure of Darth Vader.  My view on what a hero should be as an adult is modeled entirely on Han Solo, a bad guy just isn’t really a bad guy unless they can top Vader and Palpatine.  I suppose I was the perfect age for it but whatever it was I was in!! 

                As I’ve aged I’ve always been fearful the movies would age or wouldn’t hold up to my adult scrutiny but they haven’t.  They’ve grown more fun to watch especially as I share them with my sons (my daughters too but they won’t admit it publicly that they like the movies but I know they do...they do I tell you!!).  The prequels had their issues sure and didn’t even come close to matching the majesty of the original three (especially episode V) but they were Star Wars through and through.  They had swords, guns, romance, ships, and awesome bad guys just like the originals.  They stoked the Star Wars flames of my soul.  They made me feel like a kid again and stoked the imagination.  They took me back to hours spent playing with the toys or just imagining I was the one fighting Darth Vader instead of Luke.  They took me back to time spent pouring over fan-fiction before fan-fiction was even a thing.  I spent hours making up distant relatives of Solo and writing about those adventures. 

Fan-Made Episode VII poster
                As we slowly march our way through 2014 and into 2015 there is the promise of more Star Wars goodness.  I’ve seen the original cast is returning and that’s simply awesome.  The fans out there in the internet may not like it and throw down all of their negative fan hate that could only exist in the anonymous world of the internet but I’m pretty sure when those opening credits pop on the screen and the words begin their long scroll up the screen that I’ll be in my seat grinning like a loon, my inner seven year old squealing in absolute joy.  Whatever intangible thing it was that hooked me on this universe all those years ago, I am very grateful it was there.  Star Wars has made me a happy child, a happy boy, and a happy adult repeatedly over the years and I can’t imagine a world without being able to sit down and watch one of the movies, or quote a line at my wife, or have my mom throw out a line from Yoda or discuss the finer points with my wife and best friend. (or...shhh...beating my wife at Star Wars trivial pursuit!!! muhahahah)  Thank you George Lucas for being as influential on my life as much and probably more than any teacher ever was.  Long Live Star Wars, and May the Fourth Be With You!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's a scary scary world we live in!!!

                It has occurred to me recently that not all is right in the world.  No seriously, innocent little things like comic books and geek culture (one I’ve been a member of for nearly 30 years) is not as innocent as I once hoped they were.  This thing that started with my buddy and I running down to the local 7-11 and Newcombs to get our books on a monthly basis (for .65 cents no less but that’s a topic for another blog)  and trading books on the front porch of his parents house has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry (with movies thrown in).  Innocent ‘one and done’ comic books about teen age angst (Spidey) and that taught us to care for all of humanity no matter their race, sex, or power (X-men) or that anger wasn’t always the answer (Hulk) were what the industry was all about.  Comic Cons didn’t exist and if they did they were a world away from our parent’s front porches.  Wolverine was the best there was at what he did but all we really knew about what he did was that it wasn’t pretty.  This was how I came into the world of Geekdom. 

Cover Art by John Byrne
                Then the internet struck and like many many things in the world things got….discombobulated….innocence slowly melted away.  One-and-done’s turned into epic multi-issue arcs that gave way to company spanning events.  Great covers gave way to foil covers and small community center comic conventions where books changed hands for other books turned into mega-cons!!!  We lost our innocence.  Usually this isn’t a big thing to me.  It happens.  Life will always move forward and that’s the way of things so we have to deal with it.  Books will never return to .65 and we’ll be lucky if they stay at the $3.99 mark they’ve been at for the past several years. 

                I grew up and so did my comic books.  I’ve had kids who have been immersed in the culture.  More specifically I’ve had girls who are as much fan-girls as I am a fan-boy.  This has me nervous.  I am alert to all of the dangers that face 13 year old girls.  The internet, boys, bullies, TV, eating issues, image issues, and puberty just to name a few.  I never in a million years thought I’d need to add comic books or anything else from Geekdom.  I have made attempts to keep them from some of the covers (Witchblade probably the most) so that they weren’t exposed to ‘those kinds of images’ and while they’ve not really taken to comic books per se they’ve seen them in the house.  They’ve gotten their toes wet in Geekdom by following Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent, Adventure Time, Minecraft.  On the surface these aren’t too bad but they’ve led them to want to go to cons and one day it may lead them to want to read comic books or continue deeper into their chosen ‘Geek Path’. 
Cover Art By John Byrne

                The question that faces me is, ‘Do I want them to?’ After reading about all of the hate directed at one individual who criticized a cover of a comic book I’m wondering if this culture is really safe to raise 13 year olds in.  Because a woman stood up and spoke her mind the Culture with which I have so proudly claimed to be a part of lashed out in some of the meanest ways imaginable.  Do I want my daughters exposed to this? 

No I do not!!!  Not even a little bit. 

The anonymity of the internet protects these ‘people’ from persecution and emboldens them to say things they’d never say in public but it also means some of these comments were the true feelings of the posters.  These were the first things that popped into their minds!!  For the first time ever I was embarrassed to be a male and specifically to be a male in this culture.  I wanted to defend the males who would never ever think to say these things but I found myself at a loss.  I didn’t know what to say.  Honestly, I still don’t.  I stand with the females who’ve stood up and made the Culture aware of what’s going on, I stand next to the creators who’ve publicly stood up and put these ‘fan-boys’ down.  I’ve favorite posts, and re-tweeted tweets to show some support.  I’ve downloaded Podcasts and visited blogs to show my support but it’s not seemed like enough. 

                Now I look at the world I live in and realize I’m not a ‘cause’ type of guy.  I live a quiet life with my family.  I don’t speak out to often, I don’t donate money to charity’s, I simply live my life the best way I know how and hope that will be enough.  I’m polite, I open doors for people, and I wave and/or smile at strangers.  So how do I help with the ‘problem’?  How do I help ‘change the world’?  The answer is I raise my children right.  I also have two boys and I make sure they grow up knowing it’s not okay, ever to say those things or even think them.  I teach them to stand up for things that are right.  I teach my girls to overcome and to not accept the status quo.  I teach them that this is not the 50’s or 60’s and that they as young women have as much right to protect the image of women and of themselves as anyone else.  I teach them that the faceless masses of anonymous internet are wrong, that they are not humanity.  I teach them to seek the truth no matter what others say, no matter what the ‘common perception’ is.  I teach them to be Women, intelligent-go-after-what-they-want women who will rule the world in the end.  I teach all four of them the wonders of the comic book world, to look deep through the title spanning arcs to see the beautiful truth and lessons that are buried in today’s comics.  I teach them to appreciate the art and in turn to encourage the artists to ‘get it right’ and not accept the stereotype.  I teach them to read deep and feel what the author is trying to express.  This is how I can defeat the anonymous masses.  This will be my commitment to the wonderful world which I’ve enjoyed for so long and which I hope to continue to embrace.  This will be my contribution to the world at large.  Comic books are a beautiful medium and Geekdom is an awesome culture that has come together to achieve some really spectacular things.  I hope it continues, I hope I am able to teach my children to continue with it.  And with that, I will return to my room where I have stacks of books waiting to be read and return once more to the great stories being put to paper by the wonderful authors and artists who month in and month out are producing some of the most awesome story telling available. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

The end of suffering...

Kanji for bitter or suffering

                The person you were yesterday is dead!

                This is an idea I try to keep in the back of my mind on a regular basis.  This is especially true for those of us who hold on to things and worry over them like a dog worries over its bone.  This simple idea has allowed me to, by and large, let go of the things I can’t control or at least the things I’ve done/said in the past that I can’t change now.  It’s a concept I’ve brought up occasionally but with the recent changes in my professional life it’s a concept I’ve had to embrace a little more closely.  We all do things or make mistakes we can’t undo completely.  We’ve all had those ‘if only I had done that’ moments as we’re driving home and some of us worry over the consequences of those words/actions just a little bit.  (or in my case, quite a lot) Those moments are when the idea of who I was being dead comes into play.

                This concept stems from the Buddhist teaching that ‘Life is suffering’.  I always wondered how relatively happy looking Buddhists could walk through life thinking that it sucked due to all of their suffering.  I read some books and looked into it a bit and discovered that it’s not life that suffers but rather it’s our view on life that makes it suffer.  So, as we drive home and worry over what we coulda/shoulda/woulda said to the jerk-off we just dealt with at the office we are in effect suffering.  Suffering sucks.  I hate doing it.  Actually, I hate worrying too.  It’s an energy suck.  It’s a time suck and it is very rarely productive.  I had a supervisor once who used to worry through every little issue we might deal with on a given day/event.  Having a propensity for the same thought process often times we would end up ‘brainstorming’ just how messed up things could get.  We’d get ourselves in a tizzy and become tired and irritated and depressed over how helpless we were.  We were suffering.  The day of the ‘issue’ would arrive and all the things we thought would happen actually wouldn’t and often times the day would turn out ok but our stress levels would be through the roof.  We’d spent days, weeks, and sometimes months worrying. We suffered. 

                But back on track…..

                If who I was yesterday is dead and I can’t change that person then why am I worrying?  We need to continue forward with our lives.  If we don’t like what that dead person did yesterday then don’t do it again today.  If we spend our time trying to correct what he/she did yesterday we are wasting the precious time we’ve been given today.  I’m not necessarily saying we should ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ because that idea supports more of wasting the time we have rather I am advocating caring a little less about what happened and what is to come and concentrate on the here and the now.  I can spend my day beating myself up for not riding, writing, being a better father/husband yesterday or last week…….or…..I can simply accept that those things happened and be Better today.   I think, and have tested it out on myself, if we concentrate on being Better today those ‘If only’ moments become less and less.  The idea leads us to being able to have a moment between stimulus and response.  Living in the here and now with the conscience idea that what we do NOW matters,  makes us slow down and react with less emotion/passion. 

This idea can be even more powerful when you realize who you were when you started reading this doesn’t exist anymore. 

That person is dead as well.  We are constantly moving forward, wasting the time we have worrying about who we were even five minutes ago seems pointless to me.  Acknowledge and move on. 

                Taking it a step further; if the person we were a minute ago is dead….then the person we are to become has not been born yet.  Living fully in the now and being Better now will lead to the birth of a better person every minute.  Expecting the future you to be better but not doing anything to make that happen will lead to suffering as well.  Expectation leads to disappointment.  Expecting the negative to be a positive, expecting a Monday to be a Tuesday will lead one to more disappointment.  So we must let go of the dead person behind us, not worry about the unborn you yet to be fully realized and embrace the moment right now.   I’m writing. This leads to a blog post which leads me to contentment.  Yesterday I rode because I woke up and that’s what I knew I needed to do.  Because I did what was right for me at that moment I look back on that dead me and am content that I did what I wanted to do when I had the opportunity to do it.

Japanese Kanji for Peace which is what we get when we end our suffering
                So, how does one go about avoiding this ‘suffering’?  To a certain extent I’m not sure we fully can, we are after all humans and humans worry.  When I discovered the idea through my reading and research it was a ah-ha moment (also a decent 80’s band) but it also took me a lot more soul searching to keep the idea alive and in play within my life.  At first the idea spent a lot of time on the bench.  It’d raise its hand occasionally trying to get my attention and I’d ignore it.  One day after a particularly frustrating series of events at work and a couple of weeks off to soul search I put it in the game and it’s been playing center field ever since.  I’ll forget about it once in a while and the idea might go through a slump or two and my life de-volves into a lose/lose scenarios but it doesn’t seem to last as long and I am able to put the bad stuff behind me quicker now.  It’s come to the fore front once again recently because of my current job posting which is very new to me and I’m stumbling here and there a bit.  I’m catching myself for the most part but this concept has helped me to get up each time, brush myself off and get back in the batter’s box again.  Hope it helps for you as well.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Is this a mid-life crisis?

    My question today is; when can we stop trying?

                I’m 40 now, is that an appropriate age to stop, relax and smell the flowers?  Or is it 50…60?  Do I need to keep striving to be something better until I retire?  Isn’t that sort of too late?  If we’re pushing hard to be better at work, to podium at every race we enter, and being the best husband/father ever, where do we rest and enjoy the life we have right now?  Are we moving too fast to enjoy the here and the now?  Will the people who are constantly trying to get to that CEO position or Supervisor position end up at 65 looking back on what they’ve missed?  I don’t want that.  Since I graduated High School I’ve been striving to be better.  Better at what I’m still a little unclear about but I know I wanted to be better.  With this new promotion chances are this is as ‘better’ as I’m going to get.  So if being ‘better’ has been my motivator than what is it going to be now?  I’m facing twenty to twenty-five years of work still in front of me.  I’ve promoted for what could, in all honesty, be the last time.  Above me degrees are required, experience is required, and skills….skills I don’t generally possess…are required.  My mother went out and got an education and a career in her 40’s and I applaud her for it but is that still a realistic option.  I looked at signing up for school to take some IT courses and bone up on my limited but ok tech skills.  I couldn’t get in and it would’ve cost me nearly $300 for one class if I did.  (after books)  So is the question one of passion?  Do I simply lack the passion to move forward.
                It dawns on me that it might come off as sounding a bit whiny.  I thought about deleting it and starting over.  It’s been my policy to not post complaints and tirades about life but these questions; this concern is real to me.   Work is good, the four week old promotion has been awesome and yet I’m left wondering if it will be enough.  Yoda accuses Luke of looking, ‘to the future, to the past, never his mind on where he’s at, what he is doing’  (I paraphrased a bit).  Am I un-trainable?  Will I bring balance to the Force?  Ok, Ok I’m probably trainable but I doubt I’ll bring balance to the force.  Seriously though, will this promotion bring enough challenge and enough opportunity to learn and stretch that desire to be ‘better’ will fade over time or to get me into my retirement years?  At what point is a dog old enough to stop learning new tricks?  Is that the point where we retire?  My Dad retired because he was tired of the politics not because he hated the core work he was doing.  I hate the politics of work now (does this mean I get to retire?) but what job doesn’t have them and honestly who actually thrives on them?  I love the core work responsibilities I’m being given (even when the load of it has quadrupled since I was promoted) will that be enough to keep me going or as I age and lose a step will it be too much? 

                It seems this post is one of questions, the unknown and the unknowable.  It’s kind of a cool thing to not have the answers, to not have a clear and concise path laid out in front of you but it’s also a scary place to be.  Walking the knifes edge of sanity is an awesome exhilarating experience yet the danger always exists, the possibility of falling into the warm embrace of insanity is always hovering over you and it’s a long walk I have waiting for me with lots of opportunities to fall.  I have no answers fellow reader, do you?  How do you my fellow forty-something year olds deal with this weird ‘not-quite-mid-life’ place we find ourselves?  Are you happy?  Do you face the same ‘fears’ and uncertainty?  I’d love to hear from you.