Monday, December 14, 2009
To be honest, Christmas and the holiday break can't come soon enough for me. I am ready for three weeks off. Now!
The last few weeks of dealing with the loss of a dear friend and having my second surgery in two months for skin cancer has left me yearning for days of sitting on the couch with nothing to do but write. I need to get back into it. I am suffering some serious withdrawals.
It isn't this blog that I need to get back to writing on. Don't get me wrong... I love my blog. But, I need to find my muse again on something that I have always wanted to finish.
And, up until a month ago, I was enjoying the fact that I had actually been making progress on it. Each day, I would spend an hour or two writing and everything was flowing. Most importantly, I was beginning to really like what I saw on the screen in front of me.
Then, life came at me and everything came to an abrupt stop. It doesn't look as if it is going to settle down any time soon to allow me to focus completely on my little project.
On Friday, my dermatologist took 20 stitches out of my forehead and informed me that in January he would like to start me on chemotherapy treatment. Fortunately, the therapy is simply applying an ointment cream on my face. It doesn't sound nearly as bad as the typical chemotherapy that goes along with most cancers.
I can't help but laugh at the irony of me having to deal with any type of cancer while working on my novel. Cancer is at the center of my book. In fact, it is the reason behind everything that is the book.
It was in the summer of 2006 when the motivation of the book came to fruition. I didn't know it at the time that it would be the motivation for a future novel, it was me simply dealing with real life again.
Laying on hospital bed and awaiting to undergo a colonoscopy, I began to daydream about what I would do if the results of my test proved that I had colon cancer. The dream continued while I was under anestesia and it was so real, so beautiful, and so tangible.
When I was fully awake from the procedure and received the news that all was well, I couldn't stop thinking about the dream. I was glad the whole cancer scare ordeal was over, but I didn't want to lose what I saw and felt in the dream. I eventually stopped thinking about it and the thoughts of the dream were gone forever... Or, so I thought.
While struggling to come up with a post earlier this year, I stopped trying so hard and just started writing. Twenty minutes later, I had the start of my novel. I continued to work on it and I loved how everything I dreamed about came back to me so easily.
Wanting to get some feedback on what I wrote, I started a new blog and posted the first five days of a man heading out to live what he was told would be his last year of life. I have gotten some favorable and some not so favorable feedback on the early stuff.
But, what I have really found is that I like it. Most importantly, I love writing it. The whole process has been so enjoyable for me and I can't wait to get back into it once I get back into it. Does that make sense?
I don't know what will ever happen from it, and at this time, I don't really care what comes from it. I just want to continue to enjoy the process en route to finishing it.
I equate this journey to when I set out to finish my first marathon in 2002. I didn't care how fast I ran or what my time was when I completed the Los Angeles Marathons' 26.2-mile course. I just wanted to finish it. And, I did.
That's all I want to do now. Finish it.
(In his book Stephen King On Writing, King said the worst thing to do when trying to write a book is to have people read it while it is being written. The writer gets too caught up on what the reader thinks and stops staying true to his/her story. I figured King probably knows what he is talking about, so I stopped posting entries on the other blog after five days. If you would like to read the first five days, head over to www.365todeath.blogspot.com. Start with Day 1 and work back up to Day 5.)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
When it comes to my blog, my life is an open book. I write about anything from my alcoholism to the discomfort my balls have given me at times.
There really has been no limits to what I will write about on here. It is my opinion that if you can't open yourself up in your writing, then what's the point of doing it?
However, I do have my limits. And, my limits have always centered around writing about the people I am close to. I try and stay away from writing about anybody who might not want their personal life on a blog for anyone to read.
That rule is especially true when it comes to who I am dating. Until now.
Meet Jen. She is the hot chick in the picture. But more than being hot, she is my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my rock.
From picking me up in Los Angeles after I spent a night in jail to roaming the sidelines during football games, she is always there for me. And, I am there for her.
We had been close friends for four years before we started dating and it has been so natural for us to be together. There is nothing we can't say to each other and nothing we wouldn't do for each other.
I am truly blessed to have her in my life. It is so great for me to be able say that she feels just as blessed to have me.
So, there you go. You have met Jen.
I probably won't write much about her again. My rule hasn't changed. But, I am pretty confident that as long as I am on here writing, she won't be too far away.
For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Despite coaching at different schools and never working together, Coach and I developed a strong friendship that really blossomed over the last year. He retired two years ago from football, having coached his last game against my team. We won that game 42-20 and it was the only time that I actually felt a little bad about winning.
Coach and I spent many nights sitting next to each other on bar stools, having a few beers while talking football. He was a wealth of knowledge and was never apprehensive of sharing what he knew with an opposing coach.
We were two of three coaches who are at the bar often together. We were like court jesters, making others at the bar laugh with our friendly banter that never seemed to stop. It was great fun among three single men who leaned on each other during rough times on and off the field.
There was no tougher time than when one of the three - Coach Bill - passed away in March at 47. Coach Bill worked for me in the late '90s and then went and worked for Coach Jim before he retired in 2007. After Jim's retirement, Bill worked for me in 2008.
Coach Jim and I were devistated with the loss of our friend. However, we were forced to go into survival mode as we - along with the owner of the bar - had to plan a memorial service for Bill. It was beatifully done and had more than 100 coaches from the area attend.
Ironically, it was just last Wednesday that Coach Jim and I were at the bar and briefly talked about it being the first Thanksgiving without Bill. Two days later, Coach Jim was gone as well.
I can only hope that the two of them are up there together now, looking down at me and cracking jokes at my expense. I wouldn't want it any other way.
(Here is a news report on his loss in a Los Angeles area newspaper last Saturday.)
Forever Coach Jim's spot at the bar
Monday, November 23, 2009
About the biggest decsion I am going to have to make during my week off is whether or not I should shave my beard off. I stopped shaving midway through the football season after losing a bet with the team.
The season is thankfully over. So, should the beard stay or go? That is the question. Think it over and get back to me.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Not this time, though. This isn't your typical post from me. Don't you feel lucky? Well, don't.
I want and need to write about my balls.
Those two little fuckers have given me so much grief over the last three years. And, this time I am not even talking about the four girls that they helped produce.
Seems my testicles don't like when another man starts touching them. I can't blame them. I wasn't all that fond of a 74-year-old man playing with my balls either.
However, if 30 minutes of his pulling, prodding, and cutting into my sack meant that I would be free of the worries of fathering another child, then have at it Doc. Do whatever you want with them, just buy me lunch the next time we see each other on the golf course.
The procedure wasn't all that bad. It was a little uncomfortable, but certainly not painful. Walking out of his office, I felt free to drop my seed anywhere without the worries if it developing into anything other than another relationship that would go wrong.
After three days of limping around, I was back to normal and ready to take them out for a test drive. Satisfied literally and figuratively, I was content with my decision and proud of what I thought was one of the first times that I actually acted like a responsible adult.
Fast-forward six months with me if you will.
It was Christmas morning in 2006 and I woke up to four little girls crawling all over me in my bed. I got up and started walking into the living room to watch them open their gifts when a sharp pain started shooting up the right side of my abdomen. From there, the pain turned into a dull, pounding sensation that never went away, only to be interrupted by more shots of pain.
Two hours later and after dropping the girls off at their Mom's house, I drove to the hospital and began to wait in a overcrowded emergency waiting room. After 45 minutes, I was led into triage and was told that I wasn't suffering from a appendicitis attack and that I should go back to the waiting room and wait to undergo some tests.
Sitting for 15 minutes and knowing that I had much to do before heading to my then fiance's house for Christmas dinner, I left the hospital confident that I wasn't going to die in the next 24 hours.
I didn't die that day, but I fucking wanted to after I found the source of my pain in a bathroom at the fiance's house. Unzippping my pants to piss, I saw what is and will always be the scariest thing I have ever looked at.
My right testicle didn't look like a testicle. It was three times it's normal size and decorated in a deep red and purple color. How the hell did I not see this plum-looking thing earlier?
I hobbled out of her house, drove back to the hospital, sat in the waiting room, went back into triage, underwent an ultrasound on my boys (which I actually enjoyed), and then finally got an answer from a young female doctor who looked like she just got out of medical school.
"You have a condition called Epididymitis," she said.
"Ok. How did I get it and what can I do to get rid of it?"
"It's an infection that is associated with syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. We can't test you for those here, so you need to go see your family doctor. You are free to go home now."
What? Merry Fucking Chritmas to you, too. Syphilis, gonorrhea, or HIV? Are you kidding me? Can't wait to call the fiance and tell her the great news.
I didn't tell her that that night, instead I went straight to Dr. Fuck-Your-Balls-Up the next morning with my medical report from the prior night. As soon as he glanced at the report, he looked at me and laughed.
"Relax, Brett. She was correct on her diagnosis, but not how you got it. Read this pamphlet while I go and get you some antibiotics."
It was a pamphlet that dealt with vesictomies and complications that could result from the procedure. The first one listed was epididymitis and it said:
"One of the more common of the vasectomy complications, epididymitis is a condition which occurs when the larger tube behind the testicle, connected to the vas, becomes inflamed and swollen. The application of heat and the use of anti-inflammatory medication with or without antibiotics usually clear this up within a week."
What the pamphlet didn't say is that it can come back every six months or so. Twice a year I am reminded of having my balls played with by an elderly man.
If you ever see a 35- to 40-year-old man in Southern California in obvious pain and hobbling quickly after his girls in a mall, or a park, or anywhere... take solace in the fact that he will never have more than the kids he has with him.
And, I will glady take that trade.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I remember being a kid and seeing a commercial with a woman having a rough day with her children. Her only escape was running to her bathroom, drawing a hot bath, and slipping deep inside with a smile spread across her face.
I never got that commercial. What could be so hard about spending the day with your children? You wanted them, didn't you?
Some 30 years and four daughters later, I get it. I get every fucking bit of it.
Kids are nuts and aren't satisfied until you are, too. Do they ever slow down and shut up for two seconds? If I wasn't the one who fed them every meal and snack, I'd wonder what the hell they ate to give them all that energy.
The energizer bunny has got nothing on my kids.
For those who want to offer me advise on how to control my kids or what activities would keep them better occupied without my constant attention, kiss off. I have tried them and they don't work.
Not with these girls. No, they can't seem to do anything without including me or allowing me to do anything without including them. What the hell do they do when I am work? Walk around the house all day calling, "Dad? Dad? Dad?"
They really are pathetic little things. In the four years of being a single father who has his kids fifty percent of the time, I think I can count four or five times that I have gone to the bathroom without one of them walking in and sitting down to have a conversation with me.
It really is a big joke to them. They seem to get so much pleasure out of watching me get so flustered by their actions.
"Dad, your funny. You always make me laugh," said to me today as I threw my hands up in disgust after the four-year spilled her cup of milk for the fourth time at one sitting.
"Yea, Dad," the oldest one piped in. "My teacher always says don't cry over spilled milk."
Alright, that was funny. We all laughed for a few minutes as I wiped up the mess. Again.
But, it was short-lived. They were right back to causing havoc within minutes.
Like I said, I now know what that old commercial was all about. I totally get it.
So, to the Calgon people and their commercials of women jumping into bath tubs, I challenge you to make a commercial for me. Something that includes a keg of beer, endless amount of pizza, big breasted women that don't talk, and a television that doesn't play Disney movies.
Oh, and no kids.
(For those who haven't read my blog, I love my kids more than anything, so forget about leaving me a comment about how lucky I am to have four beautiful girls. I know how lucky I am, so shut the hell up!)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
After a few minutes of deciding what we are going to do the rest of the day, I walked into my room and took a glance at the mirror on my closet door. I couldn't believe how old I looked with wrinkles every where and grey hair mixed in a beard that needs cutting.
Still looking in the mirror, I wondered how I could of possibly played a role in my daughters' beauty.
How did these beautiful girls come from this????
For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.
Monday, November 2, 2009
He stopped a foot away from me to my right, unzipped his pants, and began to pee in a urinal. I could have reached over and touched the dirtiest toilet I had ever seen from the only available place to sit when I was led into the cell in the Los Angeles-area jail.
Never moving my head while he was there, I closed my eyes and began to wonder what brought me to what was no doubt the lowest point in my life. I am lucky enough to be a father of four beautiful girls, have the job that I wanted ever since I was in grade school, and I am generally pretty happy in life.
Yet, here I sit with nine other men, at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, in a 10x10 cell, knowing that five hours later my girls would wake up and ask my roommates why their Dad was not home. That thought made me realize that there was really only one thing that could make me jeopardize everything that I had in my life.
It was alcohol. Like my mother had been all my childhood and my older brother who developed into one as a young adult, I knew then that I had become an alcoholic.
Seven hours earlier, I fought through Los Angeles traffic en route to my 20th high school reunion. Truthfully, I didn't want to go and see my former teammates on what was one of the best football teams our school ever had.
However, I was repeatedly told that I had no choice.
"Brett, you have to go," Jenny said, who I had known since junior high and was the reunion organizer. "You are the football coach of the school we graduated from. How can you not go? Everyone will want to see you!"
That was exactly the reason why I didn't want go. While seeing old friends and sharing stories from the past was intriguing, having to answer questions on why our football team is now struggling was worth avoiding.
"Don't worry about all that..." Jenny continued. "You will have a blast and everyone won't care about what the team is doing now."
She was right. I did have a blast and everyone was more interested in seeing pictures of my girls than how the team was doing.
For five hours, I laughed, shared parenting stories, and reconnected with people I had grown up with and hadn't seen since graduation. And, I drank.
Every time another former teammate or friend walked up to me to talk, they brought with them a drink for me. I didn't buy a drink during the night. But, that didn't stop me from not knowing how many I drank.
Despite going with the intention of not drinking, I never turned down a drink and was enjoying downing beers with my former drinking buddies.
I was funny, loud, and felt pretty damn good about myself. The shy, insecure kid from high school was now the head football coach at the school we all went to and was also the fun guy to be around.
Shortly after 11 p.m., I began to say goodbyes and started to head to my car when I was stopped by one of my oldest friends.
"Hey, are you OK to drive?" he asked while puffing on a cigarette.
"Yea, I am good. But, let me bum a few cigarettes for the drive home. It will keep me busy and awake."
He handed me three cigarettes and I got in my car and jumped on the freeway. I drove for 30 minutes and thought I was driving just as I would if I was sober.
Driving in the fast lane, I finished the first cigarette and flicked it out the window to avoid the smell lingering in my car. Rolling my window back up, I checked the rear view mirror. My heart began to race as I saw the flashing lights of a California Highway Patrol car behind me.
I couldn't believe it. I had no idea how drunk I was, but was pretty sure I was over the legal limit of .08. Moving my car off the freeway and onto an off ramp, I told myself to calm down and act relaxed when the CHP approached my car.
Stopped on the side of the road, I waited as two officers approached both sides of my car.
"License and registration please," said the younger of the two CHPs.
"Here you go, Sir. Everything alright?"
"Well, everything was alright until you threw a cigarette out your window. Have you been drinking?"
I was speechless and didn't know what to say. Stupidly, I lied.
"Well, you were driving fine and we pulled you over because of the cigarette. But, I can smell alcohol on you. If you would have told me you had two beers, we would probably have let you go. You need to get out of your car for a sobriety test. Are you willing do that?"
"Yes, Sir. Whatever you want."
I got out and went through test after test. I touched my nose with my eyes closed, counted backwards, and walked foot over foot down an imaginary line. After I was done, the CHPs talked to one another quietly for a moment before asking me to blow into a breathalyzer.
I agreed and waited patiently after blowing the first time. The younger CHP then asked me to blow again. It was after the second time that I began to understand the situation I was in.
"How fucked am I?" I asked as he waited for the results. "Am I fucked? I am so fucked. Damn... I can't believe this. I am so fucked."
He then looked up from the breathalyzer and told me what I didn't want to hear.
"Sir, you blew .0823. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?"
After two slip-ups on consecutive weekends after my arrest, I am proud to say that I have not had a drink in 115 days. It hasn't always been easy, but it also hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be either.
Instead of drinking after football games with other coaches, I drink iced tea or have a non-alcoholic drink. No one harasses me about not drinking, and I can't believe how much easier it is on Saturdays or Sundays at football meetings or practices without suffering from a hangover.
The definition of an alcoholic is different for every alcoholic. I believe I am an alcoholic because I couldn't stop once I got started. Enough said.
I am thankful that my night in jail didn't involve me hurting anyone with my car, didn't cause me to lose my family, my job, or end the relatively new relationship I am in with a wonderful woman. It could have been a lot worse for me and my family.
But, that still doesn't change that fact I am... "Brett, and I am an alcoholic."
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Just wondering, where have you been? Everything alright? Been too long since we have heard from you on your blog. Hope all is well. Can we get anything from you soon?
That's right. I got an email from one of my best friends from high school asking me where I have been. I have a question for him now... Why not call me and ask? My blog is the only place where we can connect?
Where I have been? How about trying to endure a football season where we have lost eight straight games to start the season?
Or, how about going to a doctor appointment in October for a rash and being told a I need a number of biopsies done on different spots on my face? Doesn't matter what kind of cancer it is, being told that you have cancer can scare you a little.
Or, how about trying to move from one side of the town to the other with little help from guys like you? There is only so much four little girls under 11 can carry from the house to the moving van.
Or, how about having to hire a lawyer for the first time in my life for something other than a divorce? After having never been in any sort of trouble with the law in 38 years, I spent the night in a jail cell with nine other guys who actually looked like they belonged there. Good times.
Or, how about rushing out after my last class to get my girls from their school, bringing them back with me to football practice for three hours, heading home to make dinner, help them with homework, and then finally putting them to bed on a daily basis?
Is that enough? Or, should I go on? Even if I did write a real post, I wouldn't know where to start.
With two weeks left in the football season, I hope to get back to writing on regular basis. But again, where do I start when I start?
How about this... you tell me what you want to know more about from what I told you. Do you want to know more about my football season, my battle with skin cancer that currently has me with 32 stitches in my head, my time as a jailbird, the move that never seemed to end, or the comings and goings with my girls?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
"Brett, Grandma is in the hospital," he said of his 92-year-old mother. "It doesn't appear to be life-threatening, but you might want to call her. I know she would like that."
My Grandma has always been very special to me and I to her. I can't imagine not having her in my life even though she lives 1,200 miles away.
After getting the phone number of the hospital from my step-mother, I called my Grandma and we talked for several minutes. Not surprisingly, the call centered around me and my girls. She had no interest talking about her health.
"How are the girls, Bretty?" she said. Grandma is the only person that I would allow to call me "Bretty".
"They probably don't remember me. I loved when you guys would come over and have lunch with me. Be sure you tell them about me and that I love them."
"I do, Grandma. All the time."
She moved out of the Los Angeles area a few years ago and I have only seen her once since at her 90th birthday party. I don't call or write her as much as I should, but she is always not far from my thoughts.
I wrote her a letter on my blog in January and I am posting it again for her. She deserves to hear how much she means to me as much as possible.
It has been almost two years since I saw you and I can't tell you how much I miss you and our visits. I know I should call more often. I can tell you how busy I am teaching and coaching, or I can tell you how much time it takes to try and to do my best raising my little girls...but there really is no excuse. After all, a phone call takes just a few minutes to make.
I guess what I want you to know is how much you mean to me and how much I loved spending time with you and Grandpa. Over the years I have periodically been asked who my heroes are... with no reservation I have answered it has been and always will be you two. I can't imagine a greater pair of role models. You are everything I want to be in life, and everything I want to have in life.
Having been married and divorced twice, I can't tell you how much I envy you two and the relationship you had. I can't imagine being married for 60-plus years like you two were. I am not naive to think it was always easy, which only makes me respect this great accomplishment even more.
But more than just being able to make a marriage work for so long, your greatest accomplishment is in the kids you raised. A registered nurse, an aeronautical engineer, and a President of a bank. All have been incredibly successful in their careers, no doubt because of the pride in their work and desire to do everything to the best of their ability that you and Grandpa instilled in them.
Aside from what they have accomplished professionally, they have all remained close with each other and would do anything for you. What more can a parent ask for than that? You have truly been rewarded for your great work as a parent.
I often look back at the times we spent together. Spending the summer in Chicago and the summers you flew out here to Southern California were truly some of the greatest times of my life. Watching you walk off the plane every time you flew out here was a moment that I looked so forward to and one that I still relive today.
There are times when one of my daughters wants to climb into my lap when I am having a long day or just want a moment to myself. As soon as I start to push her away, I think of you and how you were always there for me to climb into your arms or rest my head in your lap as you ran your fingers through my hair. How can I turn down my daughters after remembering how you never turned me away?
I can't imagine how lonely you have been since Grandpa has passed. Please know that you have a grandson who thinks of you often and tells his children what a wonderful Grandma I have in you.
I promise you this year that I will do a better job of calling you on a regular basis. But even if I don't, I wrote this today because I wanted you to have this with you whenever you may be thinking, "How come my Brett hasn't called me in awhile?" I want you to read it so you can know that there is no one who can admire you more, respect you more, and simply love you more than I do. I also want you to know that I will always be YOUR Brett.
Your loving Grandson,
Grandma and her grandchildren
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I am dead tired from another day of teaching, football practice and normal Dad duties at the house. However, Savannah said she wouldn't talk to me again until I posted some pics of our last trip to our little getaway place on Lake Isabella.
While the thought of no mindless chatter from my biggest talker was tempting, I promised her she would see some pictures on my blog when she wakes up in the morning. So, here are some taken by a lifelong friend who brought his family up for the day.
That's all I got, though. I never promised to write anything about the trip and I need some sleep. Fast.
Two old friends enjoying a day at the lake with the kids.
Only catch of the day... rather pathetic!
Two of our girls having fun in the water together.
Shelby eying the camera!
Savannah making her move to jump in the lake.
So, there you go Savannah. The pics are up and I am ready to hear your same stories from school over and over again!
For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I couldn't be happier than thinking about my Dad finally doing something he always talked about doing.
As fathers go, I couldn't ask for a better one. He has been there for me in every capacity that anyone can hope for in a father. It has only been the last 10 years that I have realized that.
I always looked at my father as a provider and someone that I could depend on for shelter, food, and security. He was an aeronautical engineer and was one of the most respected men in his field.
It was his work ethic and desire for perfection in his own work that led me to believe that he was unapproachable for fear of disappointing him. Little did I know that was as far from the truth as could possibly be.
It took me a couple of divorces, a few dumb decisions on my part, and a custody battle over my oldest daughter for me to finally reach out to him for what I have always wanted from him: emotional support. Needless to say, he didn't disappoint when I succumbed and turned to him.
"Brett, your my son, and I will always love you no matter what you do. So, you made a mistake or a bad decision. You might not believe this, but I made a few in my time, too. And, I will probably make some more and so will you. You'll get through this."
From that moment on, I have never been intimidated by him or fearful of what he thought of me. A few more mistakes by me over the last year has only reinforced my trust in him as a father who will give me his ear no matter what time I call.
I called my step-mom tonight in hopes of getting a report of how his dream trip was going. She didn't disappoint with news that he caught his limit of salmon by 9:30 a.m. and was going to spend the rest of the day fishing for trout.
He used to always take my brothers and I trout fishing when were kids. The only selfish act my Dad did during those trips was force us to listen to Neil Diamond during the four-hour drive to the High Sierras.
He was so patient with us all. We had to drive him nuts with all the tangles we created with the fishing line, all the trees behind us we would hook into, and all the fighting between us boys over who was the better fishermen.
Looking back now, my brothers and I were wrong over who was the best fisherman. It was, and always will be my Dad.
Finally, he gets to enjoy it without worrying about what his boys are doing.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
My girls and I started school this week. I started my fifteenth year as a high school teacher, Kern started sixth grade, Savannah is now in third, Shelby moved into first, and Alani is officially in school with Kindergarten.
We are now represented in the high school, middle school, and elementary schools in our town. All of us were both excited about the start of school and sad to see our summer of lounging around the pool come to an end.
On Tuesday, I skipped my first period of class to take the three youngest to their first day of the new year. With four daughters, I am often baffled by the differences in personalities that they all posses. One might assume that growing up with the same parents and same environment, there would be more similarities in my children.
Savannah was a veteran of the whole process, Shelby was terrified and crying the whole time, and Alani was... Alani.
She could not be more different than the other three. She is fearless, independent, incredibly intelligent, possesses a sense of humor way beyond her years, and has battled and overcome an addiction of using a foul tongue she inherited from her father. Basically, Alani has no idea she is 5-years-old.
When her mother and I walked her into the Kindergarten class on Tuesday, we were surrounded by other munchkins clinging to their father or mother's leg. Alani simply looked around the room, took a few steps away from me, and quickly turned back and looked up.
"You OK, baby?" I said.
"Yep. You guys can go now. I'll see you after school. OK, Dad?"
What? She didn't want us to stick around until class actually started like all the parents? She might have been ready for us to leave, but I wasn't ready to go.
"Well babe, I think your Mom wants to wait here with you for awhile. It is your first day of real school and all."
"OK Dad, but I am going to walk around and check it out."
After 20 minutes of waiting to meet her teacher, I left Alani and she didn't seem all that concerned with my exit. She sat down at her desk, opened a book, and started to thumb through the pages.
With that, my youngest and last daughter to enter school was ready to get started. It didn't seem to matter to her that I wasn't all that ready for her to move on to the next stage in her life.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I had hoped it would never happen. But, at 7 p.m., my oldest daughter's mother called me and broke the news.
"Brett, I took Kern out and we spent all the money you gave her on school clothes. . . $250 on school uniforms, socks, underwear, and a couple bras."
I often have to ask Kern's mother "What?". I was never very good at listening when words came out of her mouth. That's probably one of the reasons why we didn't work out.
But, this time, I heard exactly what she said. It didn't stop me from asking her my favorite question.
"What was that last thing you said?", hoping I heard her wrong.
"Yea, we got her a few bras. We have looked at them before because she liked the patterns on some of them. Now, she actually needs them."
I was speechless. I couldn't believe what she was saying to me.
My little girl needing a bra. The same girl I spent three years staying at home with when she was a toddler watching Blues Clues, Sesame Street, and Little Bear. From a bottle-carrying blue-eyed girl whose life revolved around when she would get to go in our pool in the front yard, to a young lady who now sends me text messages and needs a bra.
How did this happen? I know days, months, and years going by is how. But, how did it happen so fast?
You are not supposed to have a favorite child. You are supposed to love them all the same and do your best to treat them equally.
But, Kern will always be special and different to me. She was the first one. The one that taught me how to be a father, how to truly love, and how to put someones' needs, wants and desires in front of my own.
Seems she isn't done teaching me things. Now, I get to learn about buying and washing bras. Took me three years when I was in high school to learn how to take a bra off my girlfriend.
I don't think I will get that same amount time to learn how to be OK with my daughter growing up.
Friday, July 31, 2009
I met Danny Evans of Dad Gone Mad during my first Journalism class at Fresno State in 1991. We were two Southern California sports fans in a sea of NorCal dweebs who thought the sporting world centered around the Golden State Bridge in San Francisco.
We quickly developed a friendship and I found Danny to be funny, quick-witted, and rather confident in his ability. Spending just a few minutes around Danny, I realized I was no longer the big fish in a little pond. I came from a small Southern California community college and thought I was a big deal having spent two years as the school newspaper's sports editor and also worked part-time at the local paper.
Along with others in that first class, Danny had far more experience in the writing field and seemed much more at ease about being surrounded by people who thought they were good enough with the keyboard to make some serious dough in the future at big market newspapers and magazines.
During our three years at college together, we played on the same intramural basketball team, played golf, drank beer, snuck into the dorm's cafeteria for lunch and dinners, shared the campus radio airwaves as sports talk show hosts and annalists for school's softball teams, and covered the football games as sportswriters for the school's newspaper. In all the time we were at Fresno State, I don't remember ever studying together. Yet, on a Saturday morning in May of 1994, we both walked onto Bulldog Stadium as college graduates.
After graduation, I left Fresno to become a football coach at the high school I graduated from in Southern California. In need of employment, Danny accepted my offer of helping him land a job at my hometown newspaper that I worked at three years earlier.
He spent my first season as a varsity assistant covering the team for the newspaper in one of our school's greatest seasons. A few months later, Danny left for Orange County and we have had little contact since his departure.
Thirteen years later while surfing the web, I googled Danny Evans in hopes of finding out where his writing skills have taken him. I found his blog Dad Gone Mad and quickly became hooked.
Reading his stuff was no different than sitting in his dorm room back in college. With humor, sensitivity, and brutal honesty, it was no wonder that his site was so popular among reader and advertisers.
I loved everything that I read and after eating up every post, I decided in January to give this blogging thing a try. Not because I thought I could be as good or better than him, but because it became obvious to me that his writing was a form a therapy for him and also provided an outlet for him to get anything and everything off his chest.
While I may have not been able to be as committed to blogging as he has been, I have found it to be rather therapeutic. I have also found that while I love my career choice in education and coaching, I have missed writing more than I would ever admit.
As a follower of Dad Gone Mad, I have waited as patiently as I could for the last year for Danny's first book to be published on August 4th. Deciding last weekend that I could wait no longer, I emailed Danny hoping that our onetime friendship and the the promise to post a review of Rage Against the Meshugenah would get me a copy earlier than the public.
I got home late last night and found his book in my mailbox. Immediately, I opened the package, planted myself on the couch, and dove in head first.
I finished this morning and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Friend or not, Danny Evans has produced something that I was lucky to read. Something that I needed to read.
Still sitting on the couch eight hours after finishing it, I am unable to do it justice and write the review just yet. I need to finish digesting it.
I will say that it is better than I could ever imagined. It is something that anyone who has suffered from depression, loved someone who has suffered from it, or known anyone diagnosed as clinically depressed, has to get their hands on it.
Danny has written something brilliant and I am glad to say that my first impression of him being funny, honest, and an incredible writer was right on.
(For more information about Danny Evans, his blog, and his book, visit Dad Gone Mad.)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
OK. So, I suck. I haven't submitted a post in quite some time. Seems life sometimes gets in the way of doing the things that you love doing like writing.
My girls, summer school, and trying to get ready for the upcoming football season has made it next to impossible to blog on a daily or even a weekly basis.
I have received a number of emails asking me what has happened to me as of late. The fact is not much has happened.
My girls have spent the summer with me at football practice. When we are not on the field, we have been spending the weekends two hours away at our mobile home in Lake Isabella.
It is a small town community in the Western Sierra Mountains that has some of the best fishing in California. Already this summer, my girls have caught their first fish and have spent many hours swimming in the lake.
They love it and I love reconnecting with a spot that my parents and I went to nearly every summer when I was a kid. I frequented it during my 20s a number of times and even stayed in the same mobile home that I took over from my former head football coach two months ago.
I wrote about this spot in a prior post and shared the story of how I was mistaken in a local bar as the kid from "A Christmas Story." Good times for sure.
However, not as fun as spending time with my girls there. They have already decided that we would be spending the next holiday season up there.
Looks like another version of "A Christmas Story" will be in the making.
For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Twice. I am not in any hurry to do that again.
I think I have done rather well as a single father. In fact, I have no doubt that I am a much better father as a single parent than I ever was when I was married.
As a single father, I never walk on egg shells worried that I will upset or disappoint their mother, never worry about someone correcting my parental skills, never have my children see me argue with their mother like we did all too often when we were together, nor have they asked what I said or did to their mom when they see me in the morning sleeping on the couch.
I am certainly not a perfect parent. I have and will again get upset with my girls. When I do get upset, I tend to yell and there is no confusion that Dad is mad. However, after a few minutes, my girls and I are right back to our normal routine of being goofy together and having a good time.
They adore me and I them. I can’t even begin to describe how thankful and fortunate I am to have them in my life. I also can’t imagine that any of us could be any happier than we are now.
However, this afternoon while grabbing some groceries with my girls in tow, I saw something that made me wonder if my girls are being cheated by their mother and I no longer together.
Walking down an aisle in the store, a family of four crossed our path and I stopped and watched them interact with each other.
The father was pushing a cart with a toddler girl facing him firmly fastened in the seat. The two were cooing and cawing with each other with big grins on their faces. Nothing could distract the two of them as they were obviously having fun making funny noises and faces.
A few feet in front of the two, the mother was pointing out canned vegetables to her son who looked to be the same age as my kindergarten-age daughter. She was telling him the importance of eating healthy and he was asking questions about various kinds of vegetables.
After he picked out a couples cans, the mother grabbed them, turned around, and walked back to her husband and younger daughter at the cart. She placed them inside and then kissed both husband and daughter. She then gave them the sweetest, kindest smile as she walked back to the front with her son.
Seeing this, I could not help but wonder if my girls would ever know what a normal, healthy, loving relationship between two adults is about. I grew up with divorced parents and never saw either of them in a good relationship in the eight years that I went back and forth between the two.
I have to believe that has had a big effect on my own inability to make a marriage work. The last thing I want is my girls later in life to struggle over and over again in relationships like their parents.
Continuing to watch them, Savannah brought me back to my own family.
“Dad? What are you doing?”
“Why are you just standing there looking at them?”
“Sorry babe. I was just watching them. They look happy together.”
“Yep. But, not as happy we will be when get home and get in the pool. We are always happy when you go swimming with us.”
She grabbed my hand and we headed back to Shelby, Alani and our own cart of food that we would be cooking later with their older sister Kern. May not be the ideal family, but it is our family.
Savannah was right. When we do things like swim together, we are happy.
And, I don’t need to be married to their mother to do that.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
School is over in a week. The more years I pile on in my career, the quicker they seem to fly by.
With each year, I have become more and more thankful for the career path that I have chosen. I love my job and 14 years doing it has shown me that there is no better career for me.
What fuels my love for the job isn't the satisfaction I get from teaching kids about the positives of being physically fit for a lifetime. Rather, it is the joy of building relationships with the high school kids.
I love them. Each and everyone of them. Sure, there are times when they piss me off or disappoint me. But, there is no greater satisfaction than watching them come in as freshman and seeing them grow, mature and turn into young adults who appreciate the hard work that myself and the rest of the faculty, administration and other school employees do for the kids.
My favorite event at the end of each year is the Luau. Having graduated from the school that I have been employed at since 1994, I have missed this event only six times since 1985.
Yearbooks are passed out, carnival-like games are played, great food is eaten, and memories from the last year are reminisced. Since I spend so much time at the school as both a teacher and the school's head football coach, my daughters go with me so they can say goodbye to so many students who have watched my kids during football practices and games.
My girls love it. They dance with the students and eat more crap than any 4- to 7-year-old should ever eat. The students love to see them and take them from me for much of the night and teach them dance moves like the "Jerk". It is a move that has been a craze on our campus all year and is one that I could never duplicate.
While my girls are off having fun with cheerleaders and watergirls from my football team, I am able to walk around and talk to kids that I have spent so much time with over the last fours.
During this time, I run into a kid who was my quarterback during my first two years as the head coach. A kid that I would gladly and proudly call my own son.
With no reservations or doubts, I tell him that I will never coach a kid again who has his tireless work ethic in the classroom and football field. He was and is everything a coach could want from a player.
As easy as it was for me to Coach my quarterback, my Most Valubale Player from last season was without a doubt the most challenging athlete I had when I took over the program two years ago. I saw a kid who had more potential than any other player on the field who didn't work as hard as I would like, and he saw a 5-7, 150-pounder who looked like he never played the game.
We yelled at eachother, cursed at eachother, and sometimes went a week or two without saying a word to one another. He drove me mad as I tried everything to get him to see that all I ever wanted was for him to become to best player and person he could be.
I don't know when it happened, or how it happened, but, sometime during the last year the tension between us went away and we quickly became eachother's greatest ally. When I saw him at the Luau, we took a picture together and had a few words that I will never forget.
"Who would thought that you and I would actually like eachother after the start we had together?"
"I know Coach. I hated you when you got the job. But, I would do anything for you now. I can't thank you enough for everything you did for me. I owe you so much."
Little do his he know, that I owe him.
It has been kids like him over the last 14 years that has made a career, my passion.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Nothing worse to have to be on the phone for 10 minutes with someone when all you need is a one- to two-word response from the person. Text a simple question and wait a few minutes for the answer.
"Hey, what time is the meeting tonight?"
Perfect. Didn't have to hear about his or her day and got the information I was looking to get. Impersonal as hell, however, gets straight to the point.
But... text messaging does have its' drawbacks. Like when you text something personal as hell to the wrong person.
Oh, the problems that can cause. I have been guilty of it many times.
The first time was three years ago when my ex-wife picked up my kids from me on a night I was to entertain the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. As soon as she was gone, I quickly typed up the following text:
"Hey... I am finally alone. Hurry up! I want you now!"
Instead of sending it to the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, I sent it to the last person I texted. My ex-wife.
Needless to say, my night didn't go as planned. Instead, I ended up driving to the exes house to pick up my kids because the ex threatened to leave town for good with my girls if I didn't come get them.
You would think I learned my lesson after that. Nope. Yesterday, I did it again.
This time a new coach I just hired was on the receiving of one of my personal texts that went to an innocent receiver.
I spent last weekend with two women co-workers in Las Vegas to help put an end to a recent but lingering funk I have been in. We had a blast going from club to club watching each other hitting on and being hit on by other patrons.
It was great fun. The highlight of the night was listening to one of my friends having to endure one of the worst lines I have ever heard.
"Excuse me. . . can I be blunt?", said an obviously drunk man in his late 50s from New York.
"Absolutely,", said my friend.
I sat in excitement with what he was about to say to my very attractive friend. After hearing what he said, I knew I would never make the same mistake.
"You have real nice boobies."
My friend laughed and said thank you for stating the obvious and kindly asked him to leave.
We laughed all weekend about it and I thought I would have a little fun with her by sending that line to her yesterday afternoon in a text message. But, instead, I sent it to my newly hired coach that I have only known briefly for a month.
While he is a big guy, I would never say he has man boobs. Even if he did, I would never tell him, "You have real nice boobies."
I realized my mistake when I got a text from the coach.
"Hey Coach... While I am flattered, I really think we should keep our relationship strictly to football. But, again, thanks for the compliment."
Damn, I did it again. And, I did it to a guy who I am so thankful that I was able to steal from a rival school. While I was kicking myself for the fuck up, I got another text from him.
"You know Coach, if you take me to Vegas, I will show you my boobies."
Well... at least this time the recipient of my wrong text had a sense of humor about it.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
One of my favorite sporting events to watch with my girls is the Kentucky Derby. I love the pageantry and the history of the event. They love the horses and the women in the stands with their fancy clothes and hats.
We have started the first Saturday in May off the same way for the last six years. Waking up, grabbing the newspaper, and then all sitting down in the living room choosing our own horse to root on later that day.
The person who picks the winning horse gets to decide what family activity we will do Sunday. Not a bad way to spend a day with your daughters.
This year's race will have even more meaning to my girls and I.
I Want Revenge is the early favorite and a friend of mine happens to own one percent of the horse. He will be at my house Saturday enjoying the race with my girls and I in what should be an exciting day.
All week I have been reading articles on how I Want Revenge has been training and all indications are that he is primed for a big race. The anticipation of watching has been building and my girls are almost as excited as I am.
"How many more days until the horses race, Daddy?" Alani asked Monday morning during breakfast.
"Five more, baby."
"And your friend's horse is going to win, right?"
"I hope so."
"Good, then that's the horse I am picking."
For one year, my girls and I will all be picking the same horse.
For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.
Monday, April 27, 2009
In fact, she will always be the one to me. That will never change. I truly believe that there is one person who comes along in your life who is meant to be with you. She was the one.
I have no ill feelings toward her or no animosity. When you truly love someone, unconditionally love them, you don't start hating them just because the relationship didn't work out. At least, I don't. And, I never will.
I believe people come into your life for a reason. She entered my life during a time when I never thought I could love again. Not just another person, but myself.
She was beautiful (still is), intelligent, magnetic, had a way about her that I knew I could open myself up to her, loved books as much as I did, had a work ethic that I envied and long to have, was the most attractive woman I have ever laid my eyes upon, and possessed an incredible sense of humor. She was someone who I never imagined could possibly be interested in me.
However, for some reason, I couldn't stop pursuing her. She was perfect. Still is. And to me, always will be.
Why we are no longer together really isn't important to me. What is important, is that for more than three years, I had what so many people long to have. I am grateful for that and will always cherish the time we had together.
So, now, I find myself single again in my life. But, for the first time in my life, it doesn't seem to bother me that I am alone. I have my kids, a job that I love, and a memory of the greatest love for another person that I have ever had.
For right now, that is enough.
To the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, thank you for showing me what love truly is for someone other than your child. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for everything.
Just know that I will always be there for you. For whatever you may need, whenever you may need it.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
My next door neighbor has not mowed his lawn in 2009. I decided yesterday in a round about way to bring attention to the eye sore that has been bothering me for weeks.
"Hey, Bob. How are you doing?"
I didn't allow him to answer. Instead, I tried to use humor to get him to see what I have to see every time I am in my front yard.
"Your grass grows so much faster than mine. You could film an episode of "Man vs. Wild" in your front yard. Want me to call the Discovery Channel and get them out here for you? Could be a nice money maker for you."
Without hesitation, Bob turned around and walked back in his house without saying a word. Guess he doesn't get my sense of humor.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I don't know why I have this look on my face, nor do I remember making this face. Further evidence that drinks other than iced tea, diet coke, and/or milk may not be best for me to have when cameras are around.
For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.
Monday, April 20, 2009
And, my girls will never let me forget it.
In the movie Vacation, Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, a family man who plans a cross country trip with his family to visit the fictional amusement park Wally World. After mishap after mishap, the family finally arrives to Wally World only to find it closed for a week due to repairs.
A great watch for the audience, however, in real life with four daughters in a car on a five-hour round trip drive, it's nothing short of hell.
I came up with a plan Sunday morning to take my girls to one of my favorite destinations as a child. Nestled under in the Eastern Sierra mountains, the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery is one of the oldest in the state and one of the most visited.
I told my girls all about the hatchery during breakfast and tried to convince them that it was worth the long drive. They were skeptical to say the least, but agreed that it beat staying home on a beautiful Spring day.
We took off shortly after breakfast and it didn't take long for the 4-year-old to start doing what 4-year-olds do on long trips.
"Are we there yet?"
That was quickly followed by, "Can we stop? I have to go to the bathroom?"
When she wasn't asking one of those questions, the other three were in the back fighting over what road trip game we should play next. Twenty questions, I Spy, and Name that Tune were being played over and over again.
"Dad, I don't want to play that again,'' said Shelby. "They always win and get to pick what they want to play because they are older."
After hearing this, I morphed into my Dad when we used to go on long trips when I was a child. I couldn't believe it was happening, but there was no stopping it.
"Hey girls, why don't you play the Quiet game?"
"What's that?" asked Vanna.
"Let's see who can be the quietest the longest. The winner gets to pick the next CD we play. OK?"
For one minute, it worked. They were quiet and were doing nothing but looking at each other waiting for the other to crack. Then, it was over.
"Dad, this game sucks," said Kern, the oldest and less apt to fall for the trick. "All the CDs are yours any ways, so we don't want to listen to them any way."
With that, we were back to the, "Are we there yets?", "I am hungry,", and "How much longers?". I was about to scream when I finally saw what I was looking for:
Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, 2 miles
The girls began to scream as I turned on the dirt road that led to the hatchery. After driving for a mile, we reached the entrance only to find the gate closed and locked.
"Dad, what does the sign say?"
"Alani, it says its closed because it is damaged from a flood,'' said Kern. "Well, Dad, that was worth the drive."
I couldn't respond to that the way I wanted to, so instead I unloaded the girls and we had lunch outside the gate while sitting on the dirt road. They asked a few questions about the surrounding mountains and it appeared as if I was forgiven.
Then, Vanna asked a question that she didn't like the answer to.
"Can we go to the mall here?"
"Babe, this is a little town. They don't have a mall here."
"Why did we come here?"
"I don't know, babe. I don't know."
Saturday, April 18, 2009
It took six months in Kindergarten for my second youngest to do something I never did as a student. She made sure I knew about it as soon as I got home from work Friday afternoon.
"Were you ever the Student of the Month when you were in school?"
"No, I don't think I ever was Shelby."
"Ha Ha. I was just name Student of the Month, Daddy! What do you think about that?"
"That's awesome, baby!"
After saying that, I scooped her up and gave her the biggest hug. While she was in my arms, she whispered something in my ear that I will never forget.
"Don't be mad at me, Dad. But, I am already better than you. And, I am six!"
Little turd. But, I couldn't argue with her.
Friday, April 17, 2009
The other people who have to endure it while I am enjoying myself is a different story. For them, the three to five minutes must seem like an eternity. However, I could really care less.
I am just living the dream. Me, a microphone and a willing or even an unwilling audience is all I need.
Well, maybe one beer. When your as bad as I am, a little liquid courage never hurts. Who would have thought that partaking in Karaoke would be so much fun?
They say those who can do, and those who can't teach. Well, I am already a teacher. So, when it comes to singing, I pick songs that I have no business singing. If you can't do it, try and screw it up as much as possible is my philosophy.
Why take yourself seriously when you know you aren't any good? It's all about having fun and letting loose.
So, my song of choice? Clarence Carter's Strokin'. That's right. This 5-foot-7, 150-pounder sings a song sung by a big black man with a strong voice.
That's like Barry White singing Barry Manilow's Mandy. It doesn't work.
But, me impersonating Carter giving sexual tips? It doesn't get any better. The irony of it all... sex is something I vaguely remember.
But, I can sing about it.
"Let me ask you something...
How long has it been since you made love, huh?
Did you make love yesterday
Did you make love last week
Did you make love last year
Or maybe it might be that you plannin' on makin' love tonight"
It doesn't matter that I would have to answer no to all those questions. Well, last year... that would be yes.
No. What matters is that for the few minutes I am up there, I am making love with the microphone. And, it's good. Real good.
For me, at least. When your a single dad, sometimes that's as good as it gets.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Maybe not long enough for some of you. But, here I am.
It has been quite a month to say the least. Had a birthday, buried a friend, celebrated Easter with my girls, spent too many nights singing Kareoke in a local bar, got a new roommate, and had the best conversation with my Mom in the last 20 years.
To say the least, the conversation with my Mom was the highlight.
Ironically, it didn't start off all that great. In fact, after hearing the first thing she said, I thought our relationship was doomed.
"Brett, I read your entire blog."
After that, there was silence. I was speechless and she was waiting for me to say something.
There have been a few times where I referred to my Mother in posts where I talked about her drinking problems, wrote about her driving our family car into a Winchell's Donuts, and even mentioned her failed relationships with men since the divorce with my father. The purpose of doing this was not to hurt her, rather, I did it because her struggles were a part of me.
I have said in the past that my blog is essentially me looking in a mirror. What I see is what I write.
However, when I write something that puts a loved ones business out for anyone to read, I should have considered how they would feel about it. That's what was going through my mind while thinking of what to say to her.
"Are you OK? I mean, I know I wrote some things you probably didn't like reading."
"No, it wasn't easy reading some of the things on there. But, that was me. I am just sorry, Brett."
Hearing my Mom tell me she was sorry was hard to take. I have never looked for an appolgy from her. She's my Mom. The only Mom I had and the only Mom I will ever have.
More importantly, the only Mom I could ever want.
While she had her faults, there were things about her that I absolutely loved and adored.
Whenever I had a problem or was in some sort of trouble, she was always the one I ran to. She was human and had gone through shit and I knew she would listen and not judge or ridicule me.
She was the one I told when I got drunk for the first time, when I lost my virginity, and ran to after all my failed relationships. I couldn't have asked for anyone better to go to.
I could always count on her for that. If my girls feel that way about me in 20 years, I'll be a happy father.
It was finally time to tell her.
"Mom, listen. Whatever problems or mistakes I have had or made, are all me. I'd like to be able blame you, but it would be a lie. You need to let go of the past, and know that I love you and am so grateful for you."
"Thank you, Brett."
"No, thank you Mom."
We talked for another 20 minutes and we agreed to find a way to get her out to California to spend a week with my girls and I. It's finally time for my daughters to meet the great Mother I have.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Even if it something that I don't see myself using. Ever.
I received an email today from someone asking me to promote a "Save our Saturday" Program from the Krylon company. If I write about it, Krylon will send me a can of its' Wood Stain Spray. Huh? The only wood I work with is my own and I am not willing to spray anything on my "wood".
I am not the kind of guy who does "Tool Time Tim" type of work. If the there is anything that is needed to be done around my house I grab the local newspaper, find a handyman, call him, and then sit back and let him fix whatever needs to be fixed.
I know my limitations and I am OK with it. As Popeye said so eloquently, "I am who I am, and that's all that I am."
Nevertheless, promoting a program that helps guys getting their Saturday's back and limit the amount of time they are doing chores around the house is something that I have no problem doing. Men should have more time to drink beer and watch mind-killing TV on a Saturday.
Here is a detailed description about the program straight from the email:
"Krylon is launching a “Save Our Saturday” Program, which will have a sports trivia contest for free tickets to the World Series and a free HDTV on its site. The site will be promoting Krylon’s new Exterior Wood Stain Spray for refinishing old wood furniture, floors, fences, etc. The product is not so much for handymen or woodworkers, as much as it is for dads who want to SAVE TIME on their weekends (the spray takes about ¼ the amount of time that conventional wood stain takes)."
The email also stated that they hope their program will help men with the "dreaded" honey-do list. I must say, this is another thing that I can't relate to like other men can.
I have been on my own for so long now, I don't even know what having a honey-do list is like. What I have is a shit-to-do list. May not seem like there is big difference between the two, but the difference is huge.
A honey-do list is something you better get done on a Saturday or you will be spending the night on the couch. A shit-to-do list is the shit you are thinking about doing while you are sleeping on the couch all day long.
See the difference? I'd much rather have my shit-to-do list.
To the Krylon Company, I hope I did a good enough job promoting your new program. I want my can of Wood Stain Spray.
I can't wait to see the damage my daughters will do with it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Four days after spending an hour in urgent care watching Shelby having her chin stitched up after a fall, Savannah fell down the stairs and suffered a mild concussion and a cut that turned her hair bright red. Stitches were not needed, but I did have to spend another hour in urgent care.
I am quickly becoming a favorite of the nurses and doctors and they are looking forward to me coming back later this week with Shelby to get her stitches removed. I just hope an injury to Alani or Kern doesn't bring me back sooner.
While I don't have any Laker tickets to take Savannah to a game like I did after Shelby's injury, I did set up a date with her at a local restaurant. She constantly watches cooking shows and talks of one day being a chef.
I know the owner of the restaurant and she has agreed to let Savannah make her own dinner with the chef. Savannah is already counting down the days until she gets to cook with a real "Chef"...
I started a new blog right before my computer crashed where I intended to write about a fictional character who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was going to write daily chronically his last year of life. I only was able to do two posts before losing my computer.
Having dealt with cancer on two separate occasions, I often wondered how I would deal with being told that I only had a short time to live. The character's reaction to his diagnosis and what he does is the way I would have wanted to deal with the news.
I write about this now because yesterday at church our Pastor started a month long series called "One Month to Live." The purpose of the series is to get people to stop living for someday and start living life with purpose, passion, and fulfillment beginning today.
I look forward to the series and hope that it can give me more direction in my own life, while also providing material for my other blog when I able to continue it...
Several of you inquired about my computer problems and asked if that my recent posts meant I was back online again for good. Unfortunately, I am still without a computer and it is hit and miss when I can post.
One of my roommates is out of town and I have been able to use her laptop while she is gone. My new computer is on back order and is still two to three weeks from being in my hands...
While losing my coaching friend was extremely hard on me, I did have the pleasure of meeting his two brothers and his parents. Both brothers are football coaches and we really enjoyed talking x's and o's during the week they were in town.
One of the brothers texted me over the weekend and asked me to come up to Oregon in May for his son's high school graduation. I accepted and can't wait to spend the weekend with him and his family.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
There was a concussion after running into a pole while in a kindergarten, a broken rib suffered in a baseball game as a 12-year-old, a deep cut to my right knee from a bike spoke, and I almost cut a pinkie finger off while working as a slicer at an Italian restaurant as a teenager. Throw in four surgeries for various health issues, and it shouldn't surprise that many of the hospital staff knew me on a first name basis.
After each trip, my parents always had some gift waiting for me at home. It always made me feel loved when I walked into my room and found some present waiting for me on my bed.
On Thursday afternoon, I was able to do the same thing for one my own daughters. I received a call during my last class from her mother that Shelby split her chin open after falling on a toy box. I left work in a hurry and spent the afternoon with my six-year-old in a local urgent care.
The result was a night that neither of us will ever forget.
She received six stitches to close up a cut that the doctor said was one of the worst she had seen. My daughter was a trooper during the ordeal and I knew I had to come up with something to give her like my parents had for me after my hospital visits.
I had two tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers' game later that night and had troubles finding someone to go with me. While waiting to be seen, I had received a number of text messages from friends saying that for some reason or other they would not be able to join me to watch one of the best teams in the NBA.
Shelby kept telling me different friends I should try and invite to the game, but never came up with person I knew I should take.
"Hey, I know someone I can take to the game," I said.
She smiled so big at my response that the doctor warned her about possibly reopening her cut. We both laughed at that and walked hand in hand out the door.
She talked endlessly during the two-hour drive and never stopped asking questions about what she was going to see. I have never seen her so excited, however, it would have been nice for a few quiet moments while trying to navigate through LA traffic.
As soon as we walked into Staples Center, she had to have a Lakers' t-shirt, a foam finger in the shape of the No. 1 sign, an ice cream cone, and a large bottle of water. She was quickly becoming an expensive date.
While waiting for the game to start, she asked me what I thought was an innocent question. It ended up being a dig at her old man.
"Dad, who do you think will win the game?"
"The Lakers are going to win for sure, baby."
"Well, that will be nice. Your basketball and football teams never win."
She is definitely my daughter.
Despite that comment, we had a great night and the Lakers did win. She stood up the entire game cheering and yelling "MVP" every time the Kobe Bryant got the ball.
As we walked out, she said thanks and that she had a great time. Shelby even said that she was glad that she got hurt and was able to spend the night all on her own with me.
I couldn't have agreed with her more.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Last week that changed when I spent three nights in a row in the same establishment while planning the memorial services for my coach who recently passed away. In doing so, I found peace in knowing that my friend was not as alone as I thought he was in the last year.
I found a place that people from all walks of life would go and find family that I never knew existed. I must say, it was a beautiful discovery.
These people don't go to the bar to simply drink. They go because it is the one place that they know that they can be with people who won't judge and will allow them to be the real person that they are.
Is there really anything more that people want in life?
Alcohol has been something that I have always feared. Growing up with a mother who is alcoholic and used it as a vehicle to deal with my father can do that to a child. However, I found that spending time with a diverse crowd in a bar doesn't have to center around drinking.
My coaching friend was a man that I have no problem saying that I loved. He had no family in our area and I often worried about him when he left work and headed home.
Make no mistake, he had his vices. In our own way, we all do. How else can we deal with the daily strife's without having some outlet?
For Bill, his outlet was leaving work and having a few drinks while hanging out with friends. I used to give him shit for spending so much time in a bar and tried to convince him to stop going in there so much.
However, after spending so much time in there last week, I am so grateful to the bar employees and its' patrons for the love they gave Bill. They really did care for him and grieved for his loss as much as I have over the last two weeks.
My friend might have lived in a trailer, had no car, and had no one waiting at home for him. But, he did have people who loved him, cared for him, and who looked out for him. Lots of people. More people that I could have ever imagined.
This was a real eye-opener for me. It showed me that it really doesn't matter what you have in life, what you do in life, or where you might want to go in life. What matters is the people you have in your life.
In its simplest terms, life is about the relationships you have built with people. If you can leave this world having touched and been touched by as many people that my friend Bill did, than you have had a successful life.
What more can you ask for?
Friday, March 6, 2009
King just knows that when he is there, magic will likely occur and he writes as fast and as much as he can. Those are the times when King knows he is at his best as a writer.
While I would never compare myself to King, I can relate to him as far as not knowing when my creative muse will come or go. I do know that it hasn't been with me since Wednesday and I don't see it coming back anytime soon.
Instead, I find myself trying to write with my heart. It's a heart that was broken with the news that my colleague, top assistant coach, and more importantly, my dear friend was found dead in his house Wednesday afternoon.
Two days later, I am still in shock and can't believe that he really is gone.
He has been with me through two divorces, a cancer scare, the birth of my four daughters, and some ups and downs on the football field. Through it all, it has been his incredible wit and big heart that I will remember most.
We started coaching together in 1997 and despite the fact I was his head coach, I realized that he knew more about football than I would likely ever know. Any question I might pose about how to defend an opponents' offense or how to attack a defense, Bill always had the answers.
After he had spent four years at another school, I was able to talk him into returning to my staff this past year as my defensive coordinator. He had just finished a season where his team went 0-10 and the coach he worked for had announced his retirement.
It seemed like a good move for him as one of his losses he suffered a year ago came against my coached-team. However, this year we struggled with numbers in our program and finished with just one win.
Our lack of success had nothing to do with Bill as he was as good of a coach as any I have ever worked with before. He was also the same 'ole Bill as far as humor goes.
During our last game and facing the team he coached a year ago, we were losing by three touchdowns midway through the third quarter. After another failed offensive possession, Bill could tell that frustration was getting the best of me and put his arm around me. He then said the only thing that could have got a laugh out of me at that moment.
"You think this is bad for you?" he asked.
"What do you mean, Bill?"
"I could be over on the other side of the field right now kicking your ass. But, I chose to come and work for you. I feel worse than you could ever feel."
He then flashed me a little smile and walked away. While watching him head down the sidelines, I laughed and was thankful that he had come back to work with me again.
I just wished it lasted longer than one season. I am going to miss the hell out of him.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I am sorry about cussing... but I am pretty fired up. I am around high school kids all the time and I really have to control the language. Right now, though, there's no controlling it.
Before I get into what I did, let me give some background information that pertains to what happened.
Three years ago, I started dating the most beautiful woman in the world. I really don't know how it happened or what she was thinking at the time. Really... I mean if you saw a picture of her and me, you'd be wondering the same thing. Pretty fucking cool, huh?
Before we started dating, we talked about books and what we each like to read. I was a classical book fan, meaning I was reading the Hemingway's, Harper Lee's, Steinbeck's and anyone else that I heard won an award or two. I thought it broadened my mind and made me cool if I read them.
She, on the other hand, was into fantasy, sci-fi, vampire and a whole bunch of other shit that I never even fathomed of reading. I couldn't even imagine why someone would want to read that stuff. I mean, we did grow up, didn't we?
We traded books from our own collection and promised each other we would actually read them. She gave me Marta Randall's A Sword for Winter and I gave her Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.
I actually read it. I really liked this woman and anything to help in my pursuit of getting her to bed... I was going to do it.
A funny and unexpected thing happened while reading this book... I fell in love with fantasy writing. The only other fantasy writing stuff I read before was the letters in Penthouse, and there was no cleanup needed after reading this genre.
It was incredible. It brought me into whole new world that I never knew existed. I wanted and needed more.
She then proclaimed me ready to move up a notch and tackle a series, not just one book. She gave me George RR Martin's series Fire and Ice and I dug in and started reading.
And I read and I read and I read. I finished four books of more than 1,000 pages each in four weeks. I couldn't help myself. It was the most beautiful, and yet, kick ass story you can imagine. I still get goosebumps down the back of my neck thinking about it.
But after the fourth book, I asked her for the fifth book. That's when she broke the news to me that he has yet to finish his next installment in the series. I was crushed beyond belief. And pissed off to boot.
What the hell was I going to do now? I had jumped into this series face first and it taken over all my thoughts throughout the day. Now, I had to wait for him to finish the next book?
Three years later and I am still waiting.
I routinely go onto his website looking for updates on the book only to find that he has been working on other projects, blogging about the NFL season, and traveling with his wife. He even writes a blog entry about HBO turning the series into weekly TV show.
How the fuck are they going to do that? He hasn't finished it!
Well, when it comes to books, I am not one to sit back and not do anything. After reading the book Friday Night Lights which a sports writer follows a high school football team from Texas, I called Boobie Miles to find out how he was recovering from a knee injury he suffered during the season featured in the book.
I don't remembered how I got the number, but I did and called him. We talked and he told me his football days are over and that he was still trying to figure out what he was going to do with his life. I wished him luck and thanked him for taking my call and we hung up.
Today, I thought I'd try calling Mr. Martin so we can discuss his lack of writing these days. His site told me he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and I began calling information.
Damn it if I didn't find a George R. Martin and I now had a number.
This is where the "I fucked up yesterday" comes in. I was pretty nervous about calling and may not get exactly what I said right, but this should give you a good idea of what happened and what was going through my head as I called over and over again...
Ring, ring, ring, ring...answer machine.
"Thank you for calling the Martins. We are not available right now. Please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Beeeeeeeep."
Yea, George, uhhhhhmmm... I am a huge fan... I can't believe I am talking to you, well not you, your answering machine. Shit, this awesome. Hey, how come you don't have something cool on your machine? Like, I am up on the Wall right now on lookout... Winter Is Coming. I'll call you back when I can. Now, that would be cool as shit. But, anyways, I am calling about your fifth book, when is it...Beeeeeeep.
Shit, I didn't even get to ask about the book. Relax this time. He is just a person... you can talk to him. Ok, calling again...
Ring, ring, ring, ring...answer machine.
"Thank you for calling the Martins. We are not available right now. Please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Beeeeeeeep."
Hey George, it's me again. But, what I was going to ask is, uhhhhm, this is fucking awesome. But anyways, when is your next book coming out? I and I am sure many others are waiting. Your shit is soooo fucking good, but I can't wait much longer. I mean, your picture on your website looks like your old and shit. What the hell am I going to do if you.... beeeeeeeep.Oh shit, that didn't go well. I don't want him to think I am stalker or a fucking nut. I have to call back...
Ring, ring, ring, ring...answer machine.
"Thank you for calling the Martins. We are not available right now. Please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Beeeeeeeep."
Yea, uhhhhmm, what I was going to say is what if you die? How will I know what happens then? So, please finish this series. I am real big fan. Thanks and have a good day.
And that was it. What an idiot. I came off as a total dumbass. I can't believe I fucking did that. He'll never finish the book just to spite me.
I was ready to forget about the whole calling Mr. Martin thing when my phone rang. It was him. He was calling me back?? I hate caller ID...should have blocked my calls.
"Hi. This is George Martin. But not the author George Martin. The plumber George Martin. Please don't ever call here again, and I recommend you never try getting a hold of the author. Do you understand, asshole???" Click!
Damn. Who would have guessed there was more than one George Martin in New Mexico?
At least the real George Martin doesn't think I am an asshole.