Friday, December 24, 2010

Finding perspective just in time

It's time to start writing again. It has been too long.

A lot has happened since I last posted with any regularity. Life changing events that I may or may not get into at a later date. What I will say is that I am glad to be back.

It has been too long.

Christmas is tomorrow and I couldn't be happier. All four of my daughters, my brother and sister-in-law, two of Jen's kids, and her sister and mother will all be at my house for dinner tonight. Jen and I no doubt will be going nuts with all the company, yet, neither of us would have it any other way.

The fact that Jen and her kids will be over is a huge victory for me. I almost lost her two months ago. Seems she could no longer handle my inability to handle coaching football in the no-win situation I was in.

I got so bad during this last football season that I alienated every one I worked for, with, and those who worked under me. And, in the process, I forgot those who were most important, my girls and Jen.

My girls never really complained. They continued to go to practice day after day with me and put up with my yelling at them for not leaving me alone while I coached. They did it in weather that ranged from hotter than hell in the late summer, to colder than shit in the early winter.

And, they have done it their whole lives while never complaining that my career has kept them from playing youth sports, taking piano lessons, or cheer leading for their schools with their friends. To them, me coaching football was what WE did as a family. But, it shouldn't be that way.

I should be the one in the stands watching them.

It took looking over at my girls during a practice in late October that it was time for a change. They were bundled up and huddled together while trying to do their homework. And, that change meant that Coachdad was about to be just Dad.

Ironically, a week after I made my decision to walk away from the only job I have ever wanted, Jen informed me that she would be moving out in November. I was told I allowed the job to affect me to the point that she can no longer handle being around me and that for her own sanity, she had to leave.

Thankfully, she didn't leave. I was able to convince her that the Brett that she fell in love would be back. The Brett that had perspective, that was able to put family and loved ones ahead of everything else, and the Brett that was able to make her laugh endlessly.

That Brett is still here and isn't going anywhere. And, like I said earlier, I am glad to be back.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers' Day, Dad!

My father with my girls and !

Thank you for everything, Dad! I love you and can't thank you enough for teaching me how to be a single father. You truly are my hero!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentines' Day

(My post from 2009... I am poet, and didn't know it. Glad to say that I am one of the ones with love.)

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Help us all

(I have been super busy with work and working on another project to write lately. So, here is an older post that relates to the weather we are currntly experiencing in Southern California.)

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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Girls will be boys?

There are times as a single father that I think God is looking down at me and laughing his butt off. In so many ways, he really did play a cruel joke on me.

Four girls. Four of them. Not one little boy in the whole litter.

When I found out that I was going to be a father for the first time in 1997, I continually daydreamed of playing catch with "little Brett". Day after day, me and the little guy outside laughing it up while throwing around the pigskin.

Then, after nine months of playing out this fantasy, came Kern. A beautiful, healthy, blue-eyed girl. Disappointment was non-existent as I was thrilled to be a father. Besides, I had plenty of time to have a boy.

Then, came Savannah. Followed by Shelby, And, finally, Alani. Four girls for the football coach. There would be no more trying for the elusive boy. I was done after four.

I'd like to think that I have done a pretty good job of raising girls on my own. I do as much as any man can be expected to do to allow girls to be girls. The last thing I have wanted to do was to try and raise my girls as boys by only introducing them to what would typically be classified as "boy" stuff.

I have let them apply make-up to my face, have played Barbies with them, and have watched endless amounts of fashion shows. I have even participated in a conversation with them over who would be a better a boyfriend, Troy from the High School Musical trilogy or Jackson from the Hannah Montana television show.

I picked Troy because he was the better athlete, while they picked him because he was "cuter". Whatever.

So... Sunday morning I stood in the hallway watching my girls pretty themselves up on their own while getting ready for Church. They were facing a full-length mirror on the closet door, admiring their outfits and hairdo. It was one of the cutest things I have seen as a father.

With a great sense of pride, I continued to watch while thinking that I was actually playing a role in raising girls who would one day grow into beautiful women. I finally turned around and began to walk back to my room when Alani said something that made me stop.

"Hey Vannah," she said.


"Fart on my face, then I will fart on yours. OK?"


Damn. Looks like there is more work to be done.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just keep swimming

Sitting in a bar last weekend with some of the top high school football coaches in the country, a coach with more than 100 career wins came to my table and asked me if he could sit down and talk for a few minutes. He was one of the presenters at the clinic and said he wanted to ask me a few questions.

What the hell would he want to ask me? I have won one game in the last two years. Does he want to know how to keep a head coaching job despite not winning?

"Yea Coach, ask me anything," I said.

"First, can I buy you a beer or anything?"

"No, thank you. I am good."

"Well, I overheard you last night talking to some other coaches about how you lucked out that your kids were with your ex-wive this weekend, allowing you to come to the clinic. My wife just left me and took my three kids. She told me she is going to fight for full custody because she doesn't think I can be a single Dad with all the responsibilities that come along with coaching.

"I don't know what to do. She is right in a way... football takes so much time. I don't know how I can do it all and yet still do what it takes to be a coach. But, I can't not be around my kids. I am seriously thinking about quitting football."

I was floored. I never imagined that this is what he wanted to talk about when he sat down next to me.

I have been exactly where he is now. Five years ago and two months after my youngest daughter was born, my ex and I officially separated. At that time, I wasn't coaching football and there was no way I could have coached at that time.

I was too heartbroken, too emotional, and too overwhelmed to do anything than other than survive. In a flash, my whole life was in disarray and I saw no way to overcome the state I was in.

The only thing that got me out of bed at that time was my kids. I had no choice. They needed me to function as mininmally as I was for their own survival.

Honestly, if I was given a choice of staying and raising my kids on my own or running as far away as possible, I might have chosen the latter. I'd like to be able to say that my love for my girls made me stay. But, what really made me stay was that those little girls needed me to.

I remember so many nights leaving work, rushing over to their daycare facility to pick up a four-month-old, two-year-old, and three-year-old, running to my piece of shit two-bedroom apartment (after leaving a beautiful five-bedroom, two-story house), feeding them anything remotely healthy, bathing them all, and then finally getting them to bed. That three-hour process was much harder and exhausting than the nine hours of teaching and coaching high school kids.

The things is, I always hated when I was complimented for being a good Dad. To me, all I was doing is what I had to do. Single mothers do it all the time and never get praise for it.

Instead of throwing kudos out to those men who remain Dads and do their share of parenting after a divorce, people should look down on men who don't do it. That is something I have no empathy for... men who turn their backs on the children when the marriage falls apart.

Reliving all that, I had an answer for the Coach.

"Coach... you have to decide how important football is and how important being a dad is to you. If they both are important and are worth fighting for... then do it. My kids are at football practices, games, and team functions with me. If I am there and it is their week to be with me, then they are with me."

"You can do this Coach. You can do both. It isn't always easy, but it is better than not doing it. And, you know what? My kids love being a part of it all. They feel like they are on the team and take the losses just as hard if not harder than me. But, they wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

"Coach, this is going to sound stupid, but I have watched a million kids' movies over the last few years and one really helped me through this. You ever watch, "Finding Nemo"?

"Yea," the Coach said with a laugh.

"Remember when Dory and Nemo's Dad begin their journey looking for Nemo? Dory kept singing that song, "Just Keep Swimming". Didn't matter how far they had to go, the only way they they would get there was to keep swimming.

"Well, Coach... you may not always want to do it, but you got to keep swimming."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Done with me... Facebook Features

Blah, blah, blah and more blah. That's what I see every time I read something that I wrote about me and my daily goings on.

It's getting old. Like an overplayed song you can't get away from when you turn on the radio.

I am done with it. At least I am done with me or my girls always being what I write about on my blog.

No more of me rambling on about how miserable I have been over the last two weeks while going through chemotherapy, or how I just celebrated my sixth month of sobriety, or what one of my little girls may have done to make me laugh, cry, or scream.

But, I am not done with writing.

Nope. Now, I want to write about people. People that I have known for years or who I have recently met. People with stories.

I have always been a people person. And, I am often moved by what they have gone through, overcome, or simply accomplished in our little world.

During my days as a sportswriter, I was lucky enough to cover the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, the Los Angeles Kings, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a Rose Bowl. Great fun and a dream come true for a someone whose life revolved around the Los Angeles' sports scene.

But, what I loved most about being a sportswriter was when I wrote feature stories about local athletes.

Stories of high school athletes like the star softball player who went to bat every time hearing the same words from her deceased father who taught her eveything about hitting before being murdered. Or, the story I wrote about a football player who set state records as a running back while serving time at the only youth detention center in the country that is allowed to compete in athletics against high schools.

Each person I encountered while writing features about them had an impact on me. In some way or another, they made me want to be a better person while giving me perspective.

So... to prevent myself from reading more of the same blah, blah, blah stuff I always spew, I end by saying that I will post my first Facebook Feature in the next couple of days.

The Facebook Feature came to me while glancing through the many so-called friends I have on Facebook and wanting to know more about these people that I have been in contact with at some point in my life. I look forward to bringing their stories to you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When not to play with yourself

A conversation I had with my doctor Monday afternoon. What your about to read made me realize that there are people more stupid than me.

Doctor: "I really think it is best if we start you on a chemotherapy right away. You have a lot more spots on your face that are cancerous and I don't want to have to keep cutting you up."

Me: "You are the doctor. I will do whatever you think is best."

Doctor: "OK, good. You will apply the ointment every day for 30 days. Your probably going to break out all over your face and it won't be pretty. But, it will kill any cancer cells we can't see."

Me: "OK... let's do it."

Doctor: "Make sure you wash your hands after you put it on your face. I had a patient last year who had a serious problem after not washing his hands."

Me: "What happened? His hands swell up?"

Doctor: "No. He decided to play with himself a little after putting the ointment on and his scrotum swelled up. It was quite embarrassing for him to have to come back in here."

Me: "Good to know, Doc. No using the ointment when I masturbate. Got it."