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Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Short Story....By Yours Truly

He was wearing the same shoes that day as he had for many of the other major occasions in his life. They were rugged and tattered and yet still bore a certain luster that set them apart from any others that you might find in the window of any shop that might still be left uptown. 

They had carried him through the birth of his first son and the death of his college roommate. He was wearing them when he was promoted to vice-president of the sales division. He was re-lacing them when the phone rang to inform him that his mother had a tumor. He had just brought them home from the cobbler when he also stopped to pick up the stack of mail that contained the statement that his MasterCard was now going to be cancelled unless he made a payment.

It is hard to find a good pair of shoes. They just don't seem to make them like they used to. His had the stamp of integrity, literally, there was a stamp on the bottom of them that said "Made With Integrity." They would only laugh at the suggestion that they were made somewhere else, like China, by kids in a sweat shop who were only working for $.10/hour on the midnight shift. No, these were hand crafted by his great grandfather in a garage in Poland.

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Happy Birthday

These days just go by so quickly. Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of my daughter's birth. 5 years ago we had been in the hospital welcoming her into the world. Now, 5 years later I start a new tradition- taking the day off of work to spend with the birthday child. So the day went like so:

We started out by taking her to the last day of Vacation Bible School at church. I thought that it might make some kind of difference to her having me there but it didn't really. I should have taken my laptop along and worked more on my book. [The Unauthorized & Incomplete Autobiography Of Rage Perry, set to be finished sometime in the future]. 

When VBS was over then it was time for the birthday girl to pick the destination for our noonly feeding. I figured that the choice would be Culvers. She surprised us by picking McDonalds. Bear in mind that we pretty much gave her the choice of anywhere in town. So off to McDonalds we went to stuff our faces.

After we were done eating it was then time for my wife and son to go sleep in the van while I continued to sit in the booth fighting the Sandman and watching the girl run around in the play area and periodically call out my name and wave to me. It was kind of nice to feel like she still needed me for something, but when she was done playing I was only good for carrying our drinks  back out to the van. I sooooo wanted a nap, but that's the story of my life. 

From Mickey D's we proceeded to the theatre where we all nustled our bums into the chairs and prepared to be amazed by Kung Fu Panda. Both of my kids really liked it and so did I. You can take the guy out of martial arts but you just can't ever fully take the martial arts out of him. I have always also been a fan of some of the Confusian thought that comes from the far east. The whole "less is more and more is less" kind of thought. 

Shortly after we got back home my wife's mom, aunt and uncle came over for dinner before they had to head on to some school reunion activity. It is always good to see that clan. They brought with them gifts for my daughter and food. 

My daughter was excited for many of her presents. Barbies, movies, clothes. She actually asked for some Caroll Burnett videos....and she got them.

Food, cake, movies and more movies, company, a miriad of phone made for a busy day.

It is hard to imagine life without kids. I spent more of my life not having kids but now it is hard to be where I am and imagine not having any. They add another dimension to life. Like today....

Today my daughter successfully did a pretty long bike ride....without the training wheels. She was peddling and riding all by herself, stopping when she should, avoiding parked cars, she was a pro. I need to go ride with her a little later today so that she can get a little more practice.

Right now she has a friend over to the house who lives a block away. The girl is polite and they have been playing well together but I can't help but wonder what her home life is like. Do her parents ever wonder where she is? Do they feed her often? How concerned are they for her overall well being? It is just hard to know any more the parental involvement out there. Many parents are just in it because they forgot to use contraception. I hate that for the kids and I hate to assume the role of neighborhood babysitter; but if the only safe place is my place then I guess I feel a certain moral obligation. All I know is that they seem to be getting along well and my daughter has needed some other kids to be able to play with. 

I am happy because she is happy. That's all a daddy ultimately wants for his little girl. 

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A short rant

I just wanted to take a quick moment to share with the world one of my deepest pet peeves: non-graduating graduations.

They now seem to take these forms-
  • Kindergarten
  • 5th Grade
  • 8th Grade
  • High School

Let's take a look at what it means to graduate. Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This grad·u·ate Audio Help [n., adj. graj-oo-it, -eyt; v. graj-oo-eyt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, adjective, verb, -at·ed, -at·ing. –noun
1.a person who has received a degree or diploma on completing a course of study, as in a university, college, or school.
2.a student who holds the bachelor's or the first professional degree and is studying for an advanced degree.
3.a cylindrical or tapering graduated container, used for measuring.
4.of, pertaining to, or involved in academic study beyond the first or bachelor's degree: graduate courses in business; a graduate student.
5.having an academic degree or diploma: a graduate engineer.
–verb (used without object) receive a degree or diploma on completing a course of study (often fol. by from): She graduated from college in 1985. pass by degrees; change gradually.
–verb (used with object) confer a degree upon, or to grant a diploma to, at the close of a course of study, as in a university, college, or school: Cornell graduated eighty students with honors.
9.Informal. to receive a degree or diploma from: She graduated college in 1950. arrange in grades or gradations; establish gradation in. divide into or mark with degrees or other divisions, as the scale of a thermometer.

I can see no reason for Kindergarteners, 5th or 8th graders to have such a ceremony. It seems like it just kind of takes the meaning out of the High School one...the legitimate one.

I remember my 5th grade graduation. We had to make and hold up signs signifying what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most of the other kids had signs that said:

Marine Biologist

Mine said "Professional Skateboarder." The only place that I now live that dream is in my head because somewhere between my heart and feet is this stomach that prohibits me from enjoying much of the former pleasures that I extracted from sporty activity.

It is only kindergarten people. Don't do it.

Just say no.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Father Knows Best

Another Father's Day has come and gone and the verdict is in- I am still a dad. What a day it was.

8:30AM- Wife's alarm goes off and the kids start to make their way to our bedroom to climb into bed with us. The Mrs. and I had just climbed into bed about 6 hours before. She was busy doing some of her Internet stuff and I was taking on my first painting job. That's right, I have gotten my first painting job; I'll hit on that a bit later.

8:30 to 9:45AM- We all ran around doing our various things that we did that passed 1 hour and 15 minutes. The kids gave me their cards that they made for me and gave me some gifts. The two gifts were pretty funny: A refrigerator magnet that says "Dad's are someone to look up to no matter how big you are." [Funny to me because my 5 year old is more than 1/5 my size] The other gift was a nylon tattoo sleeve with a pirate theme.

9:45 to 9:50AM- Climb up on a ladder and go into the attic to retrieve a big attic fan to take to my dad on our way to a family rebellion.

9:50 to 10:45AM- Shower, shave, gussy up and get ready to leave the house.

10:45AM- Hit the road and head for family rebellion.

11:30ishAM- Stop and drop the fan off to my dad.

12:30ishPM- Finally arrive at the family reunion to find only about 5 families that have shown up.

2:00PM- Folks are staring to bounce from the family reunion.

2:30PM- We bounce from the reunion

2:50ishPM- Arrive at my mom's house and start going through boxes of my crap in her basement so that I could take it home and let it sit around.

5:00PM- Start thinking about heading back home.

6:15PM or so- We finally left mom's and headed to the nearest Wendy's for some crappy fast food.

7:15PM- We roll back into our hometown and stopped for a home break before heading up to my job site to assess my paint job.

7:20 to 8:40PM- Stood around on Main Street talking to folks about all kinds of stuff.

8:50 to 10:00PM- Bathe and retire the kids.

10:00 to 10:55PM- Whatever it is we did.

11:00 to 12:15AM- Back up to job site to paint and prep some more.

12:30ishAM- Put my butt to bed.

I am sure that you, the readers, didn't necessarily need to know my complete schedule for yesterday but my aim is to give you more that what you pay for....

Some thoughts that I had yesterday:

Being a dad- I often feel that I am not a very good dad, but I have great kids who are supportive of me and make me feel better about myself through the things that they do and the way I can be there for them.

In many ways I have no idea what to do as a dad. My dad did his "best" when I was younger but it was primarily my mom that did most of our raising. And now that I am older, and at this particular junction in my life, I don't really feel that I can look to my dad for anything right now other than how to do wiring or install an air conditioner or replace my alternator. I can't really look to him for moral guidance and he's never been much of a spiritual leader either. So I do what I can, understanding that it probably isn't right, but knowing that I still need to be active in the pursuit of just trying to do it "better."

When I stopped yesterday to give the attic fan to my dad I felt really strange. I knew that he was my biological father but in many ways it felt like I was dropping something off with one of his friends. His face was now shaven. He had shaved off his goatee that morning and he looked like he had been gaining a significant amount of weight. He gave my kids each a bag of animal crackers. I could only hope that this wasn't the beginning of replacing meaningful interaction with just giving them stuff.

I want to continue to have some kind of relationship with him but right now I just don't know how.

Family Reunion- Each year they just keep getting a little bit smaller and a little bit shorter. I felt even worse that I didn't really talk to as many people as I should have; namely my very special cousin Connie. Connie is now in her 50's, possibly even 60's and she has some mental disability. She is such a sweet woman who lives in a home for handicap people. She doesn't really have any family that is very close by. She doesn't say much but when she laughs, which is often, it is contagious.

She had a brother who was also mentally handicap, Bill. Bill was a portly guy who usually wore overalls and a t-shirt of some kind. He seemed like he was a little higher functioning than Connie. He was my family reunion buddy. I would show up and he would run over and give me a big hug and we'd sit and talk and tell jokes and have a great time. Bill passed away about 10 or 12 years ago.

The thing that I always loved about Connie was that no matter what I looked like or what hair style I was sporting she could always recognize me. I would walk up and say "Hi Connie!" and she would just quietly look up and say "Hi Chris." This year was a little bit different. When I walked up to her it was from behind while she was sitting at the picnic table. I put my hands on her shoulders and leaned up over her and said "Hello young lady" and she looked up at me through my hair and looked a little confused. I then said "Hi Connie, it's Chris." She then took hold of my hands on her shoulders for a moment and said, "Hi Chris. It's good to see you."

Before I knew it she was getting ready to leave, so I went over to her and we talked for a few minutes. The last thing we did before we parted ways was hugged. Across her walker she gave me a big bear hug that was full of meaning and she said in her voice, without being propted, "I love you." "I love you too Connie" I said back. "I am very glad you came today."

My family needs to plan some trips to go spend some time with Connie. My kids could learn so much from her. We all have so much we could learn.

Moving the boxes- I had more boxes to take home from my mom's than I thought I would, but still not so many that I was overwhelmed. While looking through the boxes, mostly of books, I stumbled upon my 2nd grade year book. WOW! I used to be a 2nd grader. It was funny to look at some of the pictures and realize that I was also looking at so many people that I ended up going to high school with. I think that I could use the pictures for some good blackmail at some point in the future.

So many of those times in my life now feel like they never really existed. I don't know what happened but I kind of wish that I could have them back for a moment or two.

Painting moves me- When I returned from painting on Saturday my wife asks me how the painting went. My answer was "absolutely invigorating." It really was. It felt great to be behind the pole and running that roller again. Hopefully sometime soon I'll be throwing in the towel on the corporate job and colouring other worlds around me.

I think that's all for now.

Happy Father's Day

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hey Monkey

I'm back for another session; I'm really pretty bummed about the reality that every time I post a new entry that it isn't really "topical" as much as it is an overdue mental vomit that contains a little bit of everything that I've been chewing on in my mind. Sorry for that, but time and energy just don't permit my blog to be all that she wants...."and all that she wants is another baby....and she's gone tomorrow."

Monkey in the picture used for this entry represents several things to me right now. The first thing that it represents was the most enjoyable thing that I recently observed at the Henry Doorly Zoo. The Spider Monkeys were incredible creatures to watch. They moved with such grace and agility and I just wanted to take one home. They were really getting jiggy with hamburger buns, graham crackers, pretzels and whatever the people were throwing into them. They sat out on logs holding themselves in place with their hands and tails while gracefully swooping down to steal the offerings from the tops of the Japaneese Carp that were too slow to retrieve them. One of them even raised his hand when he was ready for more. A sign to the crowd that "I'm the one that you should be looking at."

The zoo was a great time. In my two years living in Omaha I had ridden my bike there on several occasions, but just never when they were open. It lived up to what I expected of it.


I don't know what it is about Omaha. Every time I cross that bridge that separates Iowa's Council Bluffs and Nebraska's Omaha I just feel like somehow I'm back home. I have so many fond memories of that city and I wish that I could re-live so many of them. I don't seem to be able to get back there much but when I do it is always a treat. So what are my memories? Funny you should ask:

  • Playing guitar with one of my professors in the upper room of his house
  • Being able to be a part of a church that met on a Saturday night that wasn't concerned with how big we were
  • Working down in the Old Market district and being able to meet so many different kinds of people
  • Being able to ride my bike to work in the Old Market district
  • Making runs to the Vinton Street Tobacco shot to pick up cigars for poker night
  • Driving endlessly up and down Dodge and Douglas endlessly wondering if they ever stopped or started anywhere
  • Playing ultimate frisbee in Freedom Park on the occasional Sunday afternoon
  • Ordering Dominos pizza so often that they actually sent us a Christmas card one year
  • Riding my bike through the old neighborhoods
  • Taking trips out to the music shop to pick up guitar strings and oogle over all the other stuff that I couldn't afford
  • Making afternoon runs to all of the thrift shops in search of the best deals
  • Walking through parks while the Mexicans held their monster birthday parties and hearing their music blair
  • Spending hours in the chair at the BioLife plasma donation center so that I could turn around and take that money to Hooper's so I could increase my CD collection
  • Working in a crappy music store in one of the suburbs and driving to work every day wondering which one would be my last due to having to close the place down
  • Late night talks with roomies
  • Getting up at noon on Sundays
  • The crappy campus "diner" food on Sunday nights (chicken strips, fries and a soda)
  • The band, Autumn's Green, that I used to play in

So many things happened there that go into making me who I am today. Some thins I wish were the same. I'm glad some things have changed.

Another monkey is the one on my back about running my own business. Each day that goes by brings with it the feeling that sooner or later I should just bite the bullet and start doing it. I admit that I still feel scared about it.

Another monkey is the other one on my back about my parents' divorce. Divorce sucks. I just can't say that enough. I have never heard of a "good" divorce. Ever. It is hard to be in the place of having to be emotionally supportive of my mom without letting all of her pain become my own. It is hard to be there for my dad when by all appearances we don't even really have much of a relationship. And it sucks even worse to be stuck in the middle and trying to care only enough to be available for both parties, but distant enough to try and remain numb.

Another monkey for today is one of my own, my monkey daughter. Tonight we have our 2nd annual Father-Daughter dance. What happens tonight is that I take her on a date. She picks the place where we go to eat. Last year she chose Perkins and this year she has chosen Culvers. We get all dressed up and then we go out to dinner and just spend time together. We talk about what it means to grow up. We, as dads, try and take an opportunity to show our little girls what they should be treated like as ladies. We open doors for them, slide out their chairs and do whatever other chivalrous things come to mind. We just spend quality time together...somthing that all of us dad's should be doing more often anyways.

Then when dinner is done we return to the chosen location for a dance. All the daddies and daughters have fun for a couple of hours dancing and goofing around. We also have some snacks and punch and play some games. It is a fun time for everyone. I'm looking forward to it. I may not be the best dad in the world but I love my babies.

This week will also mark [in some way, shape or form] the re-shaping of my ass. I have had it [once again] with being the shape that I am. I have to start out slow and work my way up, but I am thinking that between now and my birthday in September that there should be no excuse for me not to have dropped at least 15lbs or at least turned it from fat into muscle.

It is now rainging outside....again....and more threats of flooding are on the horizon for many parts of the state. Just a few weeks ago I was asking when we might actually see summer. Now it is here with all of its humidity and misery. I know that I am dreaming but I just want a year of fall and spring.

Gary N. [If you're reading this], I've decided that I will try to have a song written by the time we come back to Omaha. I'm also looking forward to being able to lay down some vocals for some of the tunes that you were asking me about. I hope we can do that sometime sooner rather than later.

Jason, I look forward to having you up here in a couple of weeks. Our rendezvous is long overdue and it is largely my fault.

Spoon, thanks for the tech referral in Dallas.

Linebarger, if you read this then thanks for taking the referral. I know she appreciates it.

To all mah otha' homiez- peace and luvs to y'all

I had other crap I was going to write about too but I can't remember it right now. Mabye today will be a periodical catch up day.

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