Friday, February 27, 2009

Let it be

"When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be."

The Beatles, Let it Be

For two days now this song has been playing in my head. Two days to fully ingest the lyrics, regurgitate them, and reingest them once again.

I am finding myself completely full of them. With every bite I take, my own problems seem to swirl in my head. The dizziness is driving me mad.

How come when I find myself in times of trouble, the only people I hear are the people that I am having the trouble with? Never questioning or challenging the problem, just smoothing it over and covering it up, only to surface later.

Oh, if I would only listen to my own mother Mary. The one person who has the answers and yet I can't find myself to fully hear them.

It's time to start listening to her as much as I have been listening to the Beatles.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The secret is out

I have been found, caught, and outed. Quite simply, my secret is no longer a secret.

Ronda for Ronda's Rants warned me about it happening some day. I just didn't think it would happen this quick.

A friend of mine who I had not told about my blog, told me yesterday that he is a regular reader. How the hell did this happen?

One of the best things about starting my own blog in January is that it gave me a forum to express myself without the worry of friends or loved ones being offended. Everyone needs to vent at times, and this was to be my outlet.

This blogging thing also allowed me to write about any insecurities I may have... like admitting that being a single father to four girls isn't all that easy. It is the kind of information you just don't throw out there for just anyone to digest and judge.

Especially people you work with or coach against on a daily basis.

It was brought to my attention last night while attending a meeting with all the high school football coaches in my area.

"Hey, Brett, you got a minute?" said an assistant coach at one of my rival schools.

"Yea, what's up Coach?", I answered. The best thing about my profession is that I never have to worry about forgetting someone's name. We are all Coach.

"I read your blog every day in second period. It's cool, man. I like it."

I couldn't believe it. What the hell is a football coach doing reading blogs? Humor me and forget about the fact that I am a football coach for a minute. But, aren't these guys supposed to be only interested in looking at or the latest blog site dedicated to high school football?

I thanked him for the compliment and we talked about it for a few more minutes before we headed home. It really is surreal for me to think that I am now being read by people who I will encounter on a daily basis.

Makes me wonder if I will worry about what I write about now. I don't think so, though.

In fact, to you readers that know me in the real world: You might want to be afraid of how you treat me in the future. I just might reveal information about you on here.

And, to my surprise, people actually read this shit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Realizing a dream

Remember when you were a kid and someone would ask what you wanted to be when you grew up? I do. And, I lied every time.

I would answer with the customary pilot, fireman, teacher, or policeman response. Sometimes, to get a laugh, I would poke fun of my small stature and say that I wanted to be horse jockey.

All were bullshit responses, of course. I, unlike my classmates, knew what I wanted to be since I was a 5-year-old.

I wanted to be the head football coach at our local high school. My Dad took me to a game when I was in first grade and that night was all I thought about for days.

I kept bugging my Dad to take me again and he finally did. Over and over again. All I could think about while watching the games was one day playing on that field and then later coaching on it.

Ten years later, I did play on that field and would for four years. Unfortunately, God dealt me a cruel blow by stopping my growth in seventh grade. I played as a 5-6, 120-pound wide receiver who offered the team very little in my playing ability.

What I did offer was someone who gave it his all at every practice and game and one who became a spiritual leader. While my teammates were doing everything on the field to get us a win, I was on the sidelines rooting and waving a towel to get the crowd involved.

I loved every minute of it, but often was embarrassed about being nothing more than a cheerleader in pads. What I really wanted was the chance to make a difference on the field.

That never happened in high school. However, two years ago I realized my dream of becoming the school's head football coach. With the same enthusiasm that I had as a player, it is now my responsibility to bring the winning tradition back to the proud school.

It's the opportunity I always wanted.

For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Calgon for men

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 as much if not more than their mother, 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!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Surviving the weekend

Single father's survivor guide to a weekend with four girls. A weekend with the satellite TV down and my car out of commission.

Planning is in order to ensure that all five of us will be breathing at the end of the weekend.

1. Stay home on a Friday night and get much needed sleep before the crew comes home at 12 p.m. May be the only sleep you get all weekend. Check.

2. Find website to make packets for each child of coloring pages, ABCs and math worksheets, and word searches. The busier they are the quieter they will be. Check.

3. Find perfect DVD that can be on a continuous loop and keep them entertained while I try and cook meals without eight hands getting in the way. Pick up High School Musical 3 Senior Year on the way home from work. Check.

4. Pray for weekend with no rain. Giving the girls an opportunity to run around outside will tire them and hopefully and have them nicely tucked in bed at 8 p.m. and ready for sleep. Check.

5. Have mental health disorder hotline number on speed dial. Things may get crazy and I want to make sure I am not the one who is going nuts. Check.

6. Establish countdown on desktop that tracks time until bedtime Sunday evening. Being able to see the light at the end tunnel will help get me to the finish line. Check.

7. Create secret hiding spot that I can go to when we play hide and go seek over and over again. Finding the perfect spot may lead to not being found for hours and able to catch a quick nap. Check.

8. Make all important phone calls before girls get here. Nothing worse than starting a conversation with another adult only to be interrupted by having to scream at the girls to stop jumping from the top of the stairs, pulling each others hair out, digging for treasure in the fireplace, or anything that will lead to a trip to the ER or hours of cleanup. Don't want a friend or loved one thinking that I don't have control of my kids. Check.

9. Hide female roommates make-up products, scissors, and permanent markers. There will be no daddy makeovers, uninvited hair cuts, or art work on walls, tables, or hardwood floor. Check.

10. Offer incentive program to roommates to leave the house for the weekend. One took the bait of free utilities for the month by heading to San Diego, while the other will most certainly leave after a few minutes of seeing the chaos the weekend will offer. Can't afford to lose a roommate because they can't handle my kids. Check.

11. Have access to extra-strength Tylenol on hand at all times. Headaches are sure to come early and often. Check.

12. Continue to remind myself that my girls are the most important thing in my life. Their happiness depends on my behavior. Won't always be easy to remember, but I am counting on those moments when one of them says or does something that is so damn cute and perfect that I will have to scoop them and up and hold them as tightly as possible. Check.

Wish me luck as I proclaim myself ready for the weekend. Who knows what will happen, but I am sure there will be something to write about Sunday after they are in bed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Answering mail

A recent email I received about one of my posts. Guess there was some explaining to do.

Dear Coach,
I am an avid reader of your blog and loved reading your 25 things about you. I do have a question about one of your facts, though. Did you really say you were the kid from A Christmas Story? Did you feel guilty about having everyone buying drinks for you? I am not judging, I am just asking.
A single Mom loving your blog

Here's my attempt to explain what really happened that night.

There were times in my life where I just didn't want to be me. Times where I wasn't a father and didn't always know what my purpose was for being here.

This was one of those times.

One week after coming to an agreement with my first wife that it would be best if we ended our marriage, I left for a quaint little town in the Western Sierras. I wanted to try and escape everything for the weekend. I went by myself in the hopes that I would not have to talk about my pending divorce.

It was to be a weekend of me just figuring out where I was going to go in my life. I had felt like a complete failure for not being able to make a marriage work, following the same path that my parents' marriage took.

The only solace that I took from the breakup was that my wife and I did not have kids. There was great comfort in that fact as I vividly remember the day my parents told my brothers and I that they were separating for good. It was not a good day for us boys.

My first day up there was exactly what I wanted.

I walked up and down the Kern River fishing for rainbow trout on a beautiful fall day. I caught a number of keepers and also caught something that I didn't expect.

I caught a glimpse of what my life would be like when alone. I liked what I caught.

I realized that some things are just not to be, and that I would be OK when it was over. I also found that I could find happiness in me. Ultimately, I am responsible for my happiness and it was time that I stopped looking for others to make me happy.

When I was to be with someone else again, I wanted this woman to add to the happiness that I already had in my life. They would be the cherry sitting on top of the nice big Sundae that I would make of my life.

Feeling content and satisfied with my day, I headed to the town's only bar to grab a beer and a bite to eat. Already crowded and with few seating options, I placed myself at the bar next to a man with his head buried in his hands.

I ordered my beer and waited quietly in the hopes of not being noticed. While I may have felt a lot better than before the day started, I still wasn't ready to share anything with anyone.

To no surprise, he saw me and started talking:

"Hey, your not a local. How are you enjoying it up here?"

"Yea, it was a great day of fishing. Thanks for asking. But, if you don't mind, I don't feel like talking. Is that cool?"

"No problem. I understand," as he said this, he began to look at me more intently. Then he popped the question.

"Wait, are you that kid from A Christmas Story? You look just like him. It's you, huh? That's why you don't want to talk. You don't want anyone to know who you are."

All I could think of was, what? Are you kidding me? Just because I was blond with blue eyes doesn't mean I am that kid. How was I going to respond to this to get him to leave me alone?

"Yep, that's me. So, please just let be left alone."

From there, it snowballed. He didn't let me be and began to proclaim to the bar who I said I was. It got out of control in a hurry.

People began to come up to me with questions and to shake the hand of the person they thought starred in the classic Christmas movie. They bought me drinks and I did play along with it for the two hours I was there.

I finally left and had a laugh as I drove back to the trailer I was staying in for the weekend. It was time to go back to facing the real me and continue working on what I had started earlier in the day.

I survived that divorce and another one since. The second was much harder for me than the first because this time I did have kids. However, after a few months, I was able to go back to what I now refer to as my "Christmas Story Trip."

Not, so I could go back to being someone else like I did in the bar. Rather, so I could once again return to being the person who was happy in being himself.

Like I was while fishing that afternoon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My love for Al

Al Pacino. My hero. The only man that I would say I have a crush on. A man's man.

The style, confidence, bravado, and all-knowing Al Pacino. There hasn't been a role he has played that I haven't taken a piece of and tried to incorporate in my own personality.

Whether it be the leadership qualities he possessed in the Godfather series, the combination of his self-deprecating and confident manners in A Scent of a Woman, or the fearlessness and determined Tony Montana in Scarface, Pacino has the it that I want. He is just one bitching dude.

I can recite line after line that he has uttered in his movies. I often do in my own life. A few examples:

"Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in.", said in Godfather III. I used it when I returned to coaching football after a three-year stint as a golf coach.

"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.", said in Scarface. My favorite response whenever asked if I am bullshitting or not.

"There are two kinds of people in this world. The first group is the people who face the music; the second group are those who run for cover.", as Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman. I have used this with students who have found trouble.

One line that I have always wanted to use, but haven't found the right opportunity to is the famous, "Say hello to my little friend!" That scene from Scarface gets me every time.

The only appropriate time I have thought of saying it would be before sex. I have not in fear of ruining the mood.

Even as a parent, Al Pacino is in me. As a young child, I remember watching Author! Author! with my parents and thinking that he played a great father. He was a single parent who showed vividly how to handle all the challenges of raising kids on his own.

My favorite scene from the movie is one that I often play out with my own girls. After a long day at work, Pacino enters his house and begins to talk about everything he did during his day to his kids. He ends it by screaming "I forgot to beat my kids!", and runs around the house chasing his kids.

Ever so often when I come home, I calmly walk into the kitchen and begin to spew off details of my own day. Then I yell, "I forgot to tickle my kids!"

As soon as the words leave my mouth, my girls take off running all over the house with me close behind. They want to be caught. They need to be caught. And, sooner rather than later, they are caught.

I dive into them, tickle them to near tears, then leave them in a hump on the ground breathless. Each of them possessing a smile on their face that can't be beat.

It is the closest to being Al Pacino I can get.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Me and Hannah Montana

I still remember the day I realized that my Dad was no longer cool. It was heartbreaking, shocking, embarrassing, and funny all at the same time.

I was a sophomore in high school and was enjoying a Saturday morning of laying on the couch watching a college football game. My viewing pleasure was interrupted when I received a phone call from a classmate.

The first sentenced that came from him changed the whole perception I had of my father.

"Brett, your Dad is in your front yard washing his truck in speedos."


"No lie, man. My Mom and I just drove by and saw him out there. She was laughing her ass off. Just thought you should know."

As I hung up the phone, I hoped that my friend was messing with me and my Dad was not wearing speedos. I knew he owned a pair, however, to actually where them out in public? He couldn't, could he?

When I get to the front window and peered out, I saw that he could. We lived in a neighborhood where so many of my friends lived and he was out there in something that looked like a bottom to a woman's bikini.

Just thinking about that visual causes my stomach to knot up. It is a memory that I hope doesn't come back to me again.

However, that moment made me make a vow to myself that I would always try to remain cool in the eyes of my future children. It is a mantra that remains with me today as the father of four beautiful girls.

In an effort to further my coolhood with my children, I fixed my head on the body of Billy Ray Cyrus in a picture with his daughter Miley over the weekend. I then placed the picture of Hannah Montana and I on the desktop of my computer and waited for my girls to notice.

Their reaction was perfect.

"Dad, Dad, Dad..." yelled Shelby. "When were you with Hannah Montana? Savannah, Alani, come here and check this out!"

As the three marveled at the picture, I played coy in the kitchen while making their lunch.

"Dad, this isn't real,'' said Vannah, the oldest of the three. "Can you do this with us and put us with her? This is cool!"

It worked. I am still cool in the eyes of my girls.

As far as my Dad? He lives 12 hours away now. He can wear speedos whenever he wants and still be cool to me.

For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Too much about me

This might be more painful for me than a root canal. However, one of my three followers who is a relative asked, so she will receive. With no Novocain on hand, I am calling on a single glass of rum and coke to complete a list of 25 things about me.

Seems it is a pretty big deal these days on Facebook. So, here goes...

1. I can only remember one spanking that I received from my father. It was after I took a dump in the front yard while playing with neighbors. I was 4 and told by my older brother that I couldn't move because we were playing freeze tag.

2. As a 4-foot-3 third-grader, I realized I had little chance of becoming a pro basketball player and changed my aspirations to becoming a horse jockey. I won a speech contest talking about it in front of more than a hundred people. However, I have never ridden a winning horse.

3. I had an awful speech impediment and wicked crossed eye until I was in the fifth grade. Both were corrected when I had eye surgery as an 11-year-old. No one could explain why my lisp left me after the operation.

4. After my mom crashed our station wagon into a Winchell's Donuts, I asked one of the employees for a rainbow sprinkled donut from the back seat. They handed it to me through the car window.

5. In sixth grade, I waited with my brother Jason and my grandparents in a Chicago shoe store for three hours for the first delivery of Air Jordans. We proudly wore our new kicks on the plane ride back to California.

6. At a seventh grade dance, I was named the Best Modern Dancer after copying the moves of a classmate. He didn't talk to me for days after I collected the $10 prize.

7. I participated in a 5K race with my eighth grade PE teacher. He is now the Superintendent in the school district I teach in.

8. As latch key kids, my brothers and I would spend our summers home alone during the day. We killed our boredom by fishing over a wall in our neighbors gold fish pond. She had no fish left at the end of the summers and thought she had a cat problem.

9. My dad started a rather large fire in the kitchen by throwing water on a grease fire while making hamburgers for us boys. It was one of the first signs for me that he was human.

10. During a summer trip to Northern California, 90 percent of my body was taken over by a rash from poison oak. The next two weeks were the most uncomfortable in my life.

11. As a sophomore in high school, four friends and I snuck into a water park at night. We thought it would be cool to go down the water slides on skateboards. It was great fun until we reached the end with it's 8-foot drop into an empty pool. My knee still hurts from that fall.

12. I went to three proms in high school and never reached second-base with my dates. I am not sure what second-base is, but I know I didn't get there.

13. I lost my virginity in the house of one of my high school teachers. Thankfully, not with the teacher.

14. My football career ended by playing on a team that became the school's fourth section champion. The championship had little to do with my playing ability.

15. Trying to look cool, I got my ear pierced in college. One week later and with my ear three times it's normal size, Danny from Dad Gone Mad sat in a chair in the school's hospital laughing his ass off while a nurse carefully removed the ear ring. I never put one back in.

16. Working as a runner for ABC Sports, I walked in front of the camera on live TV during a pro bowling tournament. I was quickly fired and removed from the bowling alley.

17. The day I graduated from college, my high school football coach called me at 6 a.m. and offered me a teaching and coaching job. I was a little hung over but still managed to accept the offer without Coach noticing the state I was in.

18. After leaving teaching for three years to be a stay-at-home dad, I worked at a local newspaper at night as a sportswriter. During one summer on the job, the paper paid me to river raft down the Kern River, climb to the top of Mt. Whitney, hunt for wild boar, fish for Yellowtail off the Channel Islands in California, and jump out of an airplane from 13,000 feet.

19. On a trip I made after my first divorce to a mountain resort, I visited a bar after a day of fishing. While there, one of the other patrons asked if I was Peter Billingsly from the movie "A Christmas Story". I said yes and didn't pay for a drink the whole weekend. I even signed a few napkins, "Have fun and stay single. The You'll Shoot Your Eye out Kid."

20. Kern, Savannah, Shelby and Alani give me the greatest satisfaction and joy each day. They also bring me to a level of frustration that I never experienced before being a father.

21. I ran one LA Marathon in 2002 and walked it in 2003 with my former wife because she thought it looked easy watching me. Hearing her whine, cry and complain made the nine hour day miserable and enjoyable at the same time. It wasn't as easy as she thought.

22. While on my first date with The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, I couldn't remember where I parked my car in the Los Angeles Dodgers' parking lot. It ended up being the best part of the night as we spent over an hour talking as we made our way through a maze of 40,000 cars looking for mine. We still laugh at me telling her, "I feel like an ass for saying this... I have no idea where we parked."

23. I walked away from the coolest job I ever had three years ago to take over as the head football coach at my school. I was a college golf coach and played four days a week at some of the best courses in Southern California. I also got paid a helluva lot more than I do now. No regrets, though.

24. I have been asked by a reader and my daughter to control my language in life and in my posts. I haven't uttered any bad words so far in this and I am doing much better in my home. Pretty fucking good for me.

25. This post has taken me so much more time to complete than any I have written before... two days. At last, it is done.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Those with love
Smile in the joy of having what so many of us desire
Embrace this perfect gift and remember what brought it to you
Every detail and loving gesture that lit the heart's fire
Should be continued through and through by you two

Those without love
The hope of love can be the greatest love of all
Beating inside you with what you seek out
Never compromise youself, never fall
For one day you will find love, there is no doubt

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trying to let go

There are some days that I can't stop thinking about a lost friend. It doesn't matter what I am doing, or where I am, he just keeps coming to me.

To be quite honest, I really don't know how I feel about his constant entrance into my mind.

I know what I want to feel when I think about him... that we had a great friendship and great times together. What I get from thinking about him is a depth of sadness that I can't even describe. It is a feeling that I can only compare to when I realized that my last marriage was truly over.

Feelings of sadness of my last divorce are long gone, and replaced by knowing that it was the best thing for my girls and I. I am a much better person and father as a single parent than I ever was while in that relationship.

Which brings me back to my desire of being able to accept that my friend is gone. Maybe, if I can finally let go, I can move on in my own life.

It is something that I have been dealing with for almost 20 years. I am ready to move on and let go if that is even possible. I want to enjoy his visits and stop looking to run from them.

It isn't that he was so young (20), or that stupidity on his part led to his death that bothers me. There are people all over who die young and for stupid reasons. Shit happens. It may not be fair, but that is life and it happens every day.

What I can't seem to overcome is the feeling of why him, and not me? That's a hard thing for me to write, but it is the bottom line.

He always seemed to get the raw deal every where he turned. I, on the other hand, always seemed to have everything handed to me and I always landed on my feet.

Kelby was the life of the party and seemed to always draw people to him. He could make you laugh at any situation and never had a problem of being the butt of a joke. However, it was a mirage of sorts as Kelby dealt with more crap than any young adult and child should ever go through.

It was his battle with adversity that made me feel so much empathy for him. I would have done almost anything to give him just a sprinkle of normalcy that I had.

So, that's it.

I don't understand why he had to have it so hard for so many years. It never seemed right to me that he couldn't just get one break in his life before he died.

I have certainly had my own share of adversity. I have had not one, but two bouts with an illness that could have taken my life. That very fact makes me question why I have been able to overcome obstacles and he wasn't. I am glad I am here and don't wish that I wasn't, I just wish he was too.

While writing this, I am reminded why I started a blog. It wasn't to get awards, or get followers, or meet new people, or to even have other people read my stuff. All of those has been great and I am so appreciative of it.

I started a blog to help me be a better me. I also hoped to get the inside scoop on why I feel the way I do and think about my life. Writing is my vehicle and it has already helped me renew a relationship with my brother.

Now, I hope it can help me start to enjoy a relationship with my friend. I need to finally let go.

And, I need to stop asking why it wasn't me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An award for you!

I have wanted to do something for awhile, however, the consumption of beer over the years has killed too many brain cells for me to complete the job on my own. It was time to call in reinforcement.

Danny from King Deadbeat was kind enough to lend me a helping hand. And, I got tell you, he did a great job in doing so. My lack of creativity would have never allowed me to pull off what Danny did for me.

After receiving awards from some of my favorite bloggers, I was supposed to ship them off to other bloggers that I thought were worthy enough to receive them. However, after posting them on my site, I have never finished the task.

Oh, I gave credit to the award givers and even posted them with links back to their site. I just haven't finished the post I started that gave the awards to other bloggers. With job and parenting demands, I just have gotten to it.

That's not exactly the entire truth, though. In all honestly, Coachdad wanted his own damn award to give out that would mean something from me to the people I wanted to have it. I also wanted people to have little doubt who it came from when they received it.

The people who I want to have it are quite simply the people that I follow in this blog world and the bloggers who have enough taste to follow me. I have to say, all have blogs that I would be honored to have my award posted on their site.

So, here it is... the "On the Ball" Award from Coachdad!

It is an award that means to me that the holder has a blog that is timely, fresh, pleasing to the literary palate, and combines humor with honesty. Basically, the blog is such a good read that you have to keep coming back for more.

If you are a follower or I follow you, please take it and link it back to me. If you just happened upon my blog and like the award and want it, become a follower and have at it. As for as who to give it out to and how many you can give... you are free to do what you want with it as long as you believe that they are worthy enough to live up to its' meaning that I stated in the previous paragraph.

So, congrats to all who wants it. Take it and do what you want with it. Just link it back to me and leave me a comment telling me you are now "On the Ball!"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wordful Wednesday

I am not typically a sentimental person. I tend to live in the moment and don't hold onto mementos from the past.

That all changed when I saw the picture of my oldest daughter and I together in our football garb. It is a picture that I look at numerous times during the day and one that can bring me out of any funk I may be in.

Kern is the person who taught me what true love is supposed to be. Before she came into my life, love was something that I hoped to receive, and not always something that I looked to give. She changed that the first time I held her in my arms with her blue eyes looking into mine. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life than those blue eyes.

Two days after she was born, I decided to put a hold on my dreams of being a head football coach and became a stay-at-home father. I would have never imagined that walking away from football and teaching would have been such an easy rode for me to take. It was a decision I never regretted and I am so thankful I made considering the relationship with her mother and I did not work out. It gave me two years of nine-hour days to learn how to be a father and how to truly love.

I owe everything I am as a father to Kern.

I went back to teaching after that time with Kern and started a new life with another woman. I had three more daughters with her before that relationship also came to an end. Today, those three daughters spend the majority of their time with me at my home. Kern is blessed to have a very loving mother and she typically spends every other weekend with us. I often worry that Kern is being cheated of having a relationship with her father that her sisters have with me. It is during those times that I look back when she was a toddler and try and rekindle moments of us together with no interuptions from anyone else.

Times like the two of us together with arms around each other on the football field captured in the picture. Just looking at it motivates me to create more moments like that every day.

She deserves that from me.
(For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cometh and Goeth

I solved my roommate problem Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. with one bad case of misjudgement. One man's misfortune really can be another man's gain.

Who would have known that a few too many beers and an unruly tongue would bring my lifelong friend and the person my daughters call Uncle DJ back into my house? This was one night where I was glad that Bud Light got the best of Uncle DJ.

What he did or said is not important, the only thing that mattered was that his beautiful fiance was done with him and he was back in my home. Just thinking about the prospects of us living together and the good times to be had sent waves of excitement through me.

It was to be our own version of Dumb and Dumber or Step Brothers to be lived out on a daily basis. The only difference was our movie would include my four and his two daughters.

It would be perfect. Playmates for the Dads and the girls. Who could ask for anything more?

We had gone down this road before and had a grand time living together. Taking turns entertaining the kids, going to movies as one big happy crew, barbecuing dinner as the girls swam in the pool, and ending the day with ESPN on TV and a beer in hand as our daughters were fast asleep.

It was as much fun as two heterosexual men would want to have with each other.

Ahhhh... what an incredible turn of events for me. If I had found a renters two months ago when the rooms became available, this could never have happened. I couldn't help but think that it was destiny for him to be back.

We played baseball together as kids, went to middle school and high school together, and now teach and coach together at our alma mater. The stories and adventures we could share would fill a best-selling book. A book never to be written as the fear of embarrassing and humiliating loved ones has been too strong for us to put it to print.

After listening to him discuss what happened the night before all afternoon, we resumed our normal routine of kicking back and enjoying UFC Fights Saturday night. The girls played until they were dead-tired and were asleep before 9 p.m.

All was right in my world.

He was gone all day Sunday refereeing basketball games and then attending his daughters' softball team meeting. Afterward, he was to head home and we were going to watch the Lakers' game I recorded earlier in the day.

It was supposed to be a great ending to his first weekend back in the house.

The only problem... he never came home. I continually looked out the window through out the night, only to find an empty spot where he parked his truck.

All I could think was, "She couldn't have taken him back, could she? Not this time. They have to be done for good."

My worst fears were realized Monday morning back at work.

"Dude, were back together,'' DJ said with a huge smile. "I'll get all my shit out of the room tonight from your place. I am not going to fuck it up this time. I love that woman."

"That's awesome,'' I replied. I surprised myself by actually meaning it. "You better not mess it up again. She is a great woman."

She really is a great woman and I am happy they are back together. He always seemed most at peace when he was with her.

However, now I am back to looking for another roommate.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ready for work

I am tired. Dead tired. Tomorrow my girls have the day off from school and I am glad I have to work.

They wore me out this weekend. I have nothing left. I can't believe that I am looking forward to teaching 200 high school kids tomorrow and not staying home with my precious angels.

There are days where the daily chores of being a single father can be more overwhelming than anything I face as a high school PE teacher. Today, was one of those days.

My girls wanted and needed everything. It never ended. At the end of it all, I felt like I was a pinata with my daughters taking turns swinging at me. They never missed.

Not with the typical baseball bat, but with request after request that hit me hard and often. By 7 p.m., I was ready to throw in the towel and cry mercy.

However, it was to no avail. Even a heart-felt plea fell on deaf ears.

"Girls, please, let me just have a break. I am done. I can't do it anymore tonight. Ok?"

My girls adore me and I really thought my little fit would get them to understand I had hit the wall. I was wrong.

Shelby put me in my place with her response.

"Dad, you are our Dad. You have to do it just like we have to clean up after we play. Why are you getting upset? You chose to have us, Dad."

"Shelby, I am glad I have you. But, I am tired. Can I just have a few minutes to sit down?"

"Sure. But, can you make our dessert first? And, don't forget, you promised we could all play Go Fish. And, I get to pick out the book you read to us tonight, remember?"

"Yea, I remember Shelby. Let's go. I'll rest when you guys go to sleep."

I also remember why having to work tomorrow doesn't seem all that bad.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Help us all

If you turn on the local news in Southern California the last couple of days, you would think that we were under attack.

News vans in every suburban city, residents rushing to the local Walmart to grab supplies, conversations in line at the bank yesterday centered on how long the suffering would continue, and cable/satellite and internet services flickering off and on had it's customers wondering how long it would it last.

What's going on in the land of movie stars, surgically-enhanced body parts, and just your every day quacks that reside with me in one of the most populated regions in our country?


That's it. Fucking rain. I am embarrassed to even admit it. Rain is turning Southern California into a scene that resembles one you would find in the movie Independence Day.

It started on Thursday and has continued sporadically ever since. In my desert community, we even had some hail. I even had to pull out a jacket with a hood last night when I went to my basketball game.

Where is Barack Obama and government assistance when you need it?

Already a bitch to drive in and around Los Angeles, the weather has made local drivers even harder to handle. A trip that normally takes five minutes to take, now takes 30 minutes as drivers limp through every intersection at the first sign of rain.

Throw in the want-to-be NASCAR drivers who continue to drive 20 miles over the speed limit and you get a reported 104 accidents in Los Angeles in the first nine hours of the storm. Makes you want to just stay home and watch TV.

The news is what entertains me the most on raining days.

The first 15 minutes of the newscast is dedicated to the weather. The economy and the Senate's impending vote on the recovery plan would have to wait. Forget about getting any real news.

Thanks to TiVO, I couldn't help but continually rewind reporters interviewing residents and how they are dealing with the phenomenon of water falling from the sky. Here is my favorite:

Reporter: "How are you handling all the rain?"

LA resident: "We are trying not to go out in it. I know we need it, but it has just been so much. I am afraid to even go out and drive in it. My husband has been in the garage making sand bags just in case we need it. We just hope we can make it through the weekend."

Reporter: "Well, thank you. Good luck to you and your family."

Make it through the weekend? Are you kidding me? It's rain and according to the Los Angeles Times, LA has had a grand total 1.47 inches in two days. Reports are a new storm is supposed to hit Southern California some time Monday.

Please pray for us as we go through this tough time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wordful Wednesday

I wasn't going to participate in this week's Wordful Wednesday. In fact, after posting one two weeks ago, I pretty much decided I was done with the weekly event.

No offense to Angie at 7 Clown Circus, in fact, I love her site and have been a follower for three of the five weeks I have been blogging. It's just that I am not a photographer and I don't even own a camera.

However, you see the picture above? I got it an email today and had to laugh. Not just because the sight of this on the road would be hysterical, but because this actually happened to the guy I have worked next to for the last 10 years.

What makes his story even better is that Coach Chicken Soup actually did it in a school van. With students in it. Students who made sure that we all heard about it back at school when they returned from a track meet in Las Vegas.

Coach Chicken Soup got a little frustrated on the way home and was eager to get back to Southern California. So eager, he forgot about the whole put the nozzle and hose back on the pump thing and drove off with it attached.

After sending more than $500 of his own money to the Vegas gas station and enduring many laughs from students and co-workers, Coach Chicken Soup thought he had finally put that incident behind him. Then I got the email today.

"Hey, Rob... Come check this out. Look, you are not the only idiot in the world."

"What are you talking about?" he asked, without getting up.

"Get over here. You'll be glad you did."

As he got up and started walking over to me, I slowly began to slide away from my desk. I wanted to be as far away from him when he saw the picture. He tends to get a little touchy when anyone brings up the topic up to him.

One look at the screen and the only reaction I got out of him was, "You're a real ass, you know that? You really think your funny."

Not really, Rob. But, that picture is funny.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stopping the dream

Every couple of weeks, I have a dream that wakes me from the deepest of sleeps. It is a dream that both confirms the deep love that I have for my children, and illustrates just how vulnerable we are as parents.

The dream varies which child is involved and what exactly they are doing, however, the outcome and effect it has on me is always the same. It is an outcome that is so strong emotionally for me that it actually affects me physically.

Knots in my stomach, sweat on my forehead, and a deep hot burning sensation that seems to run from my chest, up through my neck, and down into my arms. It is such an overwhelming feeling that I am unable to fall asleep until it subsides.

On Monday, it was Alani who woke me.

Sweet little Alani who seems to find fun in the little things and who is becoming less dependant on her sisters for attention. She can entertain herself for hours with a single doll, coloring book, or even a basket of clothes she dives in and out of trying on different outfits.

It was Alani's new-found independence that took her away from me in my dream.

In the dream, it was a Sunday afternoon and Kern was spending the weekend with us. Like it has been so often lately, it was a hot Southern California afternoon. All four girls were playing in the front yard, while I was in the garage looking through boxes of books.

My girls were alternating from taking turns on the scooter, to digging in the flower garden, and to drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. The laughter that came from the yard was so pure and innocent.

There are some sounds in life that I just want to be able to hear when I want to hear them. Waves crashing, a stream running over rocks high in the mountains, the roar of the crowd after my football team scores, and my children's laughter.

The moment of serenity was interrupted with, "Dad, can the girls and I go in and get something to drink?" Kern said. "It is hot and we are thirsty."

"Sure. Do you need my help?"

"No, Dad. I am 10, not two."

With that, she ran back into the front yard and headed into the house with her sisters. After a few minutes, I went in and saw them in the kitchen as I carried a handful of books up into the living room.

When I got done putting the books away, I went to the kitchen to see what kind of mess was being made by four girls under 11. Only problem was, there was only three girls in the kitchen.

"Where is Alani?" I asked.

"She said she wasn't thirsty. She is still drawing on the sidewalk."

We live on a street that is like a cul-de-sac, a circle of houses with only one entrance to go in and out. However, I still don't like the idea of a 4-year-old out in front by herself, so I hurried outside.

She was gone... not in the garage, not on the scooter, not coloring the sidewalk, and not in the flower garden. Everywhere I looked, she wasn't there.


This is where dream world meets real world.

I am never able to see the outcome of what happens to my girls in dreams like this one. I don't know if it is because I won't let myself see it, or it's the fight or flight response taking over as I spring up in an upright position on the bed and look around the room for any sign that it was only a dream.

Confirmation never takes long. However, the fear and anxiety of losing one of my daughters stays with me.

On nights that I have my girls, I have to go check on them as they sleep. Just watching them breath and hearing them snore calms me and I able to return to bed. On nights I don't have them; I have to believe they are Ok and will be back with me in a day or two.

Anything to stop the dream.

Monday, February 2, 2009

You asked for it

I have been getting emails and comments asking me for updates on some prior posts, so here goes...

Ending a relationship
Smoking is still something that I can't escape from wanting every waking moment of the day. It is a battle that is made even more difficult with a roommate who is constantly smoking. So... I have had a few days in the last three weeks where I had one. I refuse to give up my efforts to kick the habit and I am going to make an appointment with my doctor to ask for some help.

In another update, I asked What's next??? after Savanna asked me, or told me, to stop cussing around Alani. I have curtailed the foul language around my girls and Alani hasn't said fuck, shit, ass or bitch in more than a week. Pretty fucking cool, huh?

Stay away kids... please?
Some things actually turn out better than you think they will as my girls were absolutely wonderful yesterday during the Superbowl. We all ate a lot and watched the game together. As soon as they got a little out of control, I simply asked them to go into the room and they did without putting up a fight.

They really are great girls 90 percent of the time. My Dad used to tell me that he looked forward to when I had children so I could feel the pain that I caused him as a child. Well, here is more pain for you Dad, my girls are so much better than I was. Ha Ha!

My brother Jason
Ready for this? I woke up Saturday morning and had a message from Jason saying he was glad to hear from me and detailed the comings and goings of his life. We talked a few times over the weekend and basically caught up on what has been going on the last ten years for us both.

We spent the last quarter of the Superbowl chatting about the game through IMs on Facebook. It was great and we agreed to do it again soon. Jason is now a follower of my blog, and he even left a comment on the post I wrote about him.

Thank you Facebook!