Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sunday School, my iPod and Dad's Cologne

Sunday was one of ‘those’ mornings.  It fell in one of those weekends where most minutes are accounted for.  Plans upon plans upon plans.

I woke up around six o’clock to get a run in before my day really hit its stride.  Things started to intrude the way things tend to.  It is important to note that I am not such an accomplished runner that things can go wrong and my morning run not be a train wreck, someday perhaps, but not this day. 

It started with little things.  I was greeted with yesterday’s dishes, having opted to ‘do them in the morning’.  Now that morning was here, it seemed inopportune at best, but they needed done.  

Today’s iteration of me decided that starting the coffee maker before doing the dishes wasn’t something that need be remembered.  ‘Morning me’ just cost ‘runner me’ another twenty minutes.  After starting the java machine and cursing myself, I laced up my shoes and set to get my equipment together.  Again, if I were a better runner, equipment for a run might not be critical to my ability to accomplish said run, but alas, here we are.  Long story short, I was first unable to find my running water bottle for a while and when it was eventually located, I found my iPod out of juice. 

Thanks Macy. 

The iPod proved to be the death nail in my running plans more because of the time than the device.  The dishes, the water bottle, the iPod combined set me too late to get a run in.  No bother, I run not for the love of it but for the benefit of being able to go up a flight of stairs without sweating.  I decided to enjoy the fresh coffee I had made and then get the girls up for Sunday school an event they generally enjoy.  But today wasn’t generally, today was one of ‘those’ mornings. 

Both Macy and Darby woke up on the way east side of the bed.  They felt it important to complain about breakfast, about their clothes, about going to Sunday school, then about not going, and then about going again.  By the time the waffles hit the table, it was eight o’clock and I was already through with my day.  I went upstairs, got myself ready and was wanting to be left alone. 

We got in the car and made our way to St. Luke’s.  Apparently, Sunday was the first day Christmas music started its assault on the radio waves.  The girls asked that the music be turned up, (because Burl Ives can never be played loud enough) and I sank deeper into my morning.  Things haven’t been going great of late and this morning felt like the kick to the undercarriage that I didn’t need. 

Now would be a good time for a couple of confessions.  As church goers go, I am often as interested in a quiet place to sit as I am the ceremony.  I am much more interested in strengthening the girl’s moral compass than salvaging mine.  Second, I am not someone who believes in fate, karma, kismet, or things that are meant to be.  This is important to the story. 

I was thinking about my morning as I walked in the door of St. Luke’s and I thought to myself, “Faith is an easier thing if there’s a little less faith in it.  Some people feel like they’ve had a ‘sign’.  That’d be something I’d like.  It’d make things easier.”

We walked in as the service started and I pulled a move that I haven’t pulled since I was twelve.  As everyone got sat I excused myself to the restroom.  This afforded me the time to go for a bit of a walk, get a drink of water, whatever floats my boat.  I was trotting around and made my way to the restroom.  A man held the door for me as he was walking out and I was walking in.  Then it struck me.

There was a smell, a familiar one.  Not the kind you generally associate with my locale. It was my dad’s cologne.  If you had asked me before that moment if I could have identified that smell, I would have thought there would be zero chance.  But there it was.  I went into the restroom and felt a weird calm.  Yes, and it was as awkward typing it as it was reading it.  I had an overwhelming sense of calm standing in a church bathroom.  There are things that I have wrestled with for years revolving around church, my dad, my family and my role in the world, but for one afternoon, I was at ease. 

The lesson this week, ladies, well, I’m still not a person who thinks about ‘meant to be’ but I won’t claim that I understand everything either.  I can say this, the cologne I smelled was absolutely your grandfather’s brand and I can say that I have absolutely not smelled it since he passed.  I remember my mom saying the same thing about her father and if I remember correctly; it was in one of her own moments of need.  I guess the lesson is this, don’t assume that if you can’t see it, it isn’t there.  Who knows, there may be nothing after we shed this coil, but there may be something great, too.  I don’t know, honestly, but I’m not ready to write it off just yet. Also, Macy, if you’re going to play with someone’s iPod, plug it back in! Apparently I needed a miracle to turn my mood around to get over you not plugging mine in.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Make Good Ceilings, Don’t We?

I’m hoping for the best although the election didn’t go the way I wanted.  There isn’t a part of me that wants to watch it all burn to prove a point.  I truly hope the President elect does a great job and a bunch of us are proven wrong. 

But there is something else.

I won’t speculate as to what he will and won’t do and who he will or won’t do it to.  I want to talk about my morning.  I went to bed between midnight and 1:00 this morning and woke up at the crack of 3:30.  My wife, mother and sister all went to bed in tears and I knew that my girls wouldn’t be taking this well either.  I sat on my couch for a few hours considering the conversations I would be having with the girls as they woke. 

Avery woke up on her own around 6:45.  She smiled and asked “did she win?”

“No sweetheart, she didn’t.”  She sat on my lap and put her arm around my neck.  We sat for a minute and I said “Everything will be all right.  Why don’t you go upstairs, mommy could use a hug.”

I sat for a minute longer not proud of myself.  I should have said more.  I felt like I had lied to her on some level.  I don’t think I believe that everything will be okay.  Things are still a little raw, but I think that something is broken in me that can’t be easily mended.  I don’t mean that with any hyperbole, as it was something that had been fraying for a while.  My faith in people in general has been diminished.

Upstairs, Macy had woken up and was in tears.  I knew this would be the case as she knew something was wrong last night.  Despite being 7 years old, she saw real value in a woman breaking the glass ceiling in this circumstance.  She didn’t understand how we could have 44 men and zero women.  It makes the Cubs futility streak look amateur.  When she first heard this 44 – 0 streak she didn’t believe it.  Ah, the optimism of youth. 

“Did she lose because she was a girl?”

NOTE: Those who want to chime in anything about emails, or private servers, get your own blog.  This one is for me and my girls. Now back to my morning.

I wanted to say ‘no’ but I didn’t.  I wanted to say that the country tried it differently last time around but just felt more comfortable with super rich, out of touch, old white guys, but I didn’t say that either.  The fact is that I didn’t have an answer and I didn’t want to lie again.  I believed that she was the better qualified, more experienced, more level headed candidate and that her fault, may in fact be related to what she pees from.  I didn’t say anything.  I hugged her for a minute, Avery too and sent them to get dressed. 

I woke up Darby, and true to her personality, she wanted to play immediately upon waking up.  We play a wake up game where a stuffed fish tries to eat her toes and fingers thinking that they are worms and her penguin tries to eat the fish.  Sounds stupid, sure, but it was exactly what I needed.  She asked if she could have some Lucky Charms, a breakfast generally reserved for an occasional Saturday morning, but I acquiesced.  Opportunistic little poop. 

My wife and oldest two girls ate quietly and Darby told us about the naughty fish. 

We went to go out the door and I hugged my wife goodbye.  To say she burst into tears would be an understatement.  I had sensed even last night that something much bigger was broken in her.  I hated leaving but endeavor to persevere, right?  I feel as though I hadn't handled anything right yet.

When we got into the car, Avery asked, “What can we do now?”

I asked her what she meant. 

“To help, what do we do now?”

I asked her what concerned her the most.  She said pollution and global warming.  Where she came up with that I have no idea, but I told her that we have to think about it.  I looked in the rear view and Macy was staring out the window, listless.  I turned on a song she loves and she smiled a little.  We pulled up to the school and she hugged me hard.  I kissed her and sent them on their way.  I didn’t make it out of the parking lot before I broke down. 

There is a lesson in here somewhere we just need to pick it up and hose it off.  To Avery, “What can we do now?” is the right question.  Don’t look back, look forward.  Keep your generous, compassionate heart, it’ll serve you well.  To Macy, yeah, she lost because she is a girl, at least partly.  She also made it farther than any woman ever has.  Mommy and I may take this as an indictment against this country, but you, Sweetheart, take it as a challenge.  You’re smart enough, kind enough, good enough to take the next step if that’s what you choose.  To Darby, keep that innocence as long as you can.  Play and laugh, darling, and make it last forever.  Finally, to my wife, I know it’s bad.  I know it’s easy to draw a straight line from this election to your gender and worth.  It’s bad math.  You’re my much better half although I don’t often admit it.  You’re the glue that keeps our little family unit going…pretty important stuff.  Lick your wounds today but tomorrow we have to dust off and figure out how to make the future better. 

And to my sister, in a bit of a break from my regular blog formula, keep up the fight.  Contrary to what you believe, you aren’t invisible; you’re just playing against a stacked deck.    If you give up, what hope do the rest of us have?  To be honest, the only reason I started giving a shit all those years ago was because of your passion.  Take a Xanax and knock back a beer or twelve but eventually you need to get back in the game. 

Now, I’ll put my soapbox away and go back to the regularly scheduled broadcast. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

From The Mouths of Babes - Putting 108 Years In Perspective Like A Boss

Last night I stayed up to watch game 6 of the World Series.  For those not in the sports “know” the World Series this year puts forward two unlikely advisories as neither of the contestants has won the series since Truman beat Dewey. 

This morning, while taking the girls to school, I discussed with my eldest daughter, Avery, that this game, this wonderful game 7 is far and away the most significant baseball game in my lifetime.  It is my guess, that should the Cubs win, there will be a time in her life that someone will ask where she was when it happened. 

I would have had the conversation with all of my girls but the other two were singing along with the Ghostbusters theme song in the back seat and couldn’t be interrupted. 
 I looked at Avery and tried to put the historical importance of this game into perspective for my little girl. 
“The Cleveland Indians last won the series when Grandma Sue was a little girl, but the last time the Cubs won it Grandma Sue’s mom and dad were little kids, and hadn’t even come to the United States yet.”
I was satisfied that the explanation would galvanize the importance of the game.   Her follow up question would let me know just how wrong I was. 
“You mean ‘cubs’ like baby bears?  I think I’ll cheer for them.”
I don’t know why, exactly, but getting Avery to understand the historical significance of the game became my mission.  I knew full well we would be pulling up to the school in just a few short minutes and time was short.  It was time for the big guns. 
“This is a special time in this country.  Baseball is the national pastime and this game may be the biggest one the game has ever seen.  It’s not like the Super Bowl or anything else.  This is two teams trying to change the history of baseball.  It’s huge!”
We stopped at the last light before turning into the school.  Ghostbusters had given way to Thriller.  I looked at my little girl waiting for a light to come on.  It did.  She turned in her seat and looked me in the eyes.  A smile stretched across her face.  It wasn’t a smile of understanding, it was different.  It sat somewhere between pity and ‘the cat that ate the canary’.
“I get it, but we might get the first woman president next week, right?”
Touché, sweetheart.  The lesson today is mine, maybe a couple of them.  What is important to me may not be as important to you and vice versa.  Tonight, you probably won’t care about the baseball game and most likely, I won’t have a true interest in what is going on with Elsa or Cinderella or Supergirl, but we both care about each other, and that, little girl is more than enough.  The other lesson, I suppose, is the big picture.  There are things more important than sports although it can be tough for daddy to see at times. 
UPDATE:  Alert! The “other lesson” is wrong, don’t take it to heart.  After watching the Cubs win the series and the explosion of emotion that followed, I saw stories about fans sharing the victory with moms and dads and deceased loved ones.  My next door neighbor had a picture of his grandmother by the television so he knew she was with him watching the game from the Pearly Gates.  I thought about my own father, who I lost a few years ago and some of the bad times we had.  There was a time where all we talked about was sports, fantasy football to be exact and how it brought us closer.  Sports, while sometimes silly and overblown, can also be a unifier, perhaps something we need at a time as divisive as today seems!