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Dying as a Life Lesson

I think about  my dad a lot.  I can’t believe it’s been almost 4-years since he passed away – 4 years – and there’s not really a day that goes by that I don’t think about him in some manner, shape, or form.

He wasn’t “taken” from me, although I do think he left us before his time.   I know people who have had their loved ones taken from them, and I cannot imagine the pain of all that unfinished business.

He slowly grew older, and weaker, and time and his body just caught up.  Most likely his most important lesson to me was his last.  While we’re growing up, a parents’ role is to give you the tools you need to be an adult.  Some of us do better imparting that knowledge, and those skills better than others, but by and large that’s a parent’s job.  The very last thing he did was show me how to grow older and how to die.

Seems a morbid thing, but truly, that too is an important job of a parent.  He faced his illness, made the decisions he felt he had to make regarding his treatment and he knew when enough was enough.  When blood transfusions could not replace the blood cells his body was losing , and it was clear that treatment was really just prolonging the inevitable, he decided it was time to stop fighting.  He had spent a lifetime arranging his affairs, and it was time.

He was a remarkable man and I hope that I have the strength and the force of character to face my own mortality as he did.  He was a role model to me in so many ways and looking back, it really didn’t surprise me that he handled his situation as he did.  He accepted his fate long before I did, and he showed me the way.  It takes a very special person to do that, and I thank him for giving me that example.

I don’t get to his grave nearly enough, but I do speak to him every day even if it is just in passing.  How many times could I have used his advice and guidance over the last 3+ years?  Almost every day, but I have also applied lessons he gave me almost every day too.  He gave me the tools, sometimes I have to reach back an apply them, but he gave them to me. Oftentimes, I would be much better off if I more actively practiced his lessons, but because of him there has never been a situation I have been unable to handle.

I love you, Dad, and yeah, I still miss you like crazy.  I wish there was some way I could let you know somehow how truly special and important a person you were.  I hope I can do so in giving your grandchildren the example you gave me.

Googling.

In 2006, the verb “To Google” entered the Oxford English Dictionary.  I know this because I googled the definition.  One wonders if “Google” has entered the realm of “Xerox,” “Kleenex,” “Kool-Aid” and “Scotch Tape.”  Its funny how language develops.

“Google” is a thoroughly made up word, a malaprop of “googol” - 10,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000 -  chosen ultimately because the .com domain was available.   It gained its meaning because of the power of the Google algorithms in finding information on the web – their approach was so different from other search engines, it allowed for differentiating names from other entries.  The difficulty of differentiating a product or service to such a degree the best way to describe it is to use its own name in a self-referential cycle.

One might think this would be an exceptional thing for a company – to have its name become so familiar that it becomes part of our everyday lexicon – but to the corporate types it represents a threat to the control of the name.  Quite the conundrum that.

Advertisers spend so much time and money to differentiate their product.  Google spent almost no money and wound up with the same result.

I know, this is old news, but it got me thinking.

Introverts and Writing

I spend a lot of time in my own head.  Its a trait of the introverted.  It gives me time to regroup, think things over, gain a little understanding.  Sometimes, though, the net effect is that people around me think I’m checked out, or that I’m distant or don’t care.  I really do like parties, but I prefer to spend time with people one-on-one.  I’m not anti-social – far from it – however the energy it takes to handle interacting with large groups of people takes me a lot of time to rejuvenate.

I also struggle a lot with self-confidence.  I had a hard time speaking up for fear of looking foolish – even when I have specific, well founded ideas.  I worry about finding the right word to get my point across, and because I’m spending time searching for those words it frustrates people while they wait for me to get that word.  Most people are satisfied with the word that’s “close enough,” but that’s not me…I’ve learned that if I’m not specific, I spend more time explaining nuance.  Nuance which is then lost on most people.

Writing is always a good means to get thoughts out of my head – I can take the time to be reasonably specific, take the time to sort through my thoughts, and reach out to the outside world.  The problem is, sometimes, no matter how much I’ve thought about something, I just can’t come up with something to write.  Imagine that – spending so much time in my own head, and I don’t have anything to say.

I can be a text book case study of an introvert.  I’m told I have a unique point of view, that I process information differently than others.  I make connections that others don’t.

With Introverted Intuition dominating their personality, INTJs focus their energy on observing the world, and generating ideas and possibilities. Their mind constantly gathers information and makes associations about it. They are tremendously insightful and usually are very quick to understand new ideas. (http://www.personalitypage.com/INTJ.html)

That’s pretty much me.

So, with all of that as introduction, I’ve got nothing.  No interesting connections, no funny observations, and no ideas.  Just a lot of nothing…I guess I’ll just have to think about that.

The Intuition of Batting Average

One of the most intuitive aspects of the game of baseball is the concept of ‘Batting Average.’ It’s as simple and intuitive as the game itself: Number of Hits divided by the number of At-Bats. It’s a serviceable construct of measuring a batters’ hitting prowess.

One of the curious things about “batting average” is that while it’s quite possibly the most intuitive measurement in the game of baseball, and hence it was one of the first measurements of the game, it wasn’t created until baseball had been organized for almost two decades.

Harry Chadwick, a Britton who found himself enamored by early baseball in the 1850′s while he was covering cricket as a journalist.# Chadwick came to develop the first baseball box score and edited theThe Beadle Baseball Player the first baseball guide for public consumption.# He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938 by the veteran’s committee.

Growing up in the late 20th Century, batting average has always been that hits/at-bats ratio and has always been reported to the thousandths decimal place. It feels so completely intuitive and so perfect for the game. However, as intuitive as it may be, it relies on two other statistics which had to be developed first – “hits” and “at-bats.” The elemental nature of these statistics reveal how far the game has come, and how non-intuitive the measurements of the game are.

When the Batting Average was formally adopted in 1876, it took the form of the statistic we know today, however prior to being formally adopted, it was actually a measurement of the number of hits per game. Of course the definition of these elemental statistics have changed and have therefore influenced the measurement of a batting average: for instance, for a year in the late 1800′s, bases-on-balls were counted as hits and plate appearances, which had the effect of driving up batting averages for that year – many up near .500 – and it was discontinued for the following season.# Increase the number of hits to plate appearances using a 1:1 ratio and you’re going to increase batting average, even though it does not reflect the batter’s skill at hitting. The idea, however, was to measure what was going on at plate appearances. Of course, at the time, it took 5-balls to receive a base-on-balls and 4-strikes to strike out.#

Consider the work involved in building the game we know today, a game that is ever more statistically oriented – particularly with the advent of ever faster computers – and it just doesn’t seem as intuitive. The builders of baseball didn’t know what they should be measuring, but they knew the game could be quantified. That’s the intuitive part of the game – it can be quantified, but figuring out how or what to measure is the difficult part.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Chadwick_(writer) retrieved on 10/10/2010

http://www.ulib.niu.edu/badndp/chadwick_henry.html retrieved on 10/10/2010

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batting_average retrieved 10/10/2010

http://everything2.com/title/Evolution+of+pitching+rules retrieved 10/10/2010

http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/bstats17.html retrieved 10/10/2010

Power of Symbols

The day after Superbowl XLII, a game lost by the New England Patriots in the last 90 seconds after an 18-0 season, I wore a winter jacket emblazoned with the “Flying Elvis” logo of the team. I would have worn it if they won, and I hated the thought of being a hypocrite – for me supporting my team isn’t about associating myself with winning. For the love of God, I’m a middle-aged Red Sox fan – I know for a fact it’s a lot more fun to associate yourself with winning than with losing, but for the majority of my life associating myself with the Red Sox was more about humilation. In fact, Massachusetts released Red Sox license plates in 2003. I got mine just before the whole Grady Little/Pedro Martinez blunder in Game 7 of the ALCS. There I was driving around wearing shame on my car for an entire year.

There was a point at which I was heavy into flags. I acquired all kinds of flags to display outside – countries I’d visited, sports championships, historical flags. One of my favorite ones was the yellowGadsden flag. I had begun displaying it in support of the US armed forces and as a message of defiance to those who would do harm to this country.

Funny thing about symbols and flags, though. A symbol replaces words. It holds meaning to those who display it and who observe it, but those meanings may not be the same and what we take from those can be very different. For me, when I fly an American flag, I’m proud of my country and for what it stands. I am proud of our system of law, I am proud a country of this size and power can transition political power will a ballot cast by the people and not at the mouth of a rifle. In many countries, vacuums of power typically follow transitions of leadership wherein despots and others will take the opportunity to seize it. This is a message I am proud to make.

However, for people in other parts of the world, it can be a symbol of oppression and of violence – whether that is right or wrong. When you choose to accept a symbol, you choose all connotations of that symbol. I fly the American flag because I accept all connotations, can and will argue with those who express a negative association with it.

Sadly, there are those who choose to appropriate symbols to increase the credibility of their own cause and to create the perception of a cohesive message in lieu of actually having a cohesive message.

I no longer fly that Gadsden flag. It is a message several centuries old and for me the meaning of which is rooted in the earliest history of the United States. However, the political opportunists associated with the Tea Party have appropriated the meaning of the flag – at least for now, after all the flag itself is a couple hundred years old. The Tea Party is a movement with no true cohesion, no formal set of guiding principals, and no structure of which to speak. The Gadsden flag gives meaning to a structure without meaning on its own. Since I don’t know what meanings and associations I’m taking on when I associate myself with it, I choose not to make any statement with the flag.

You cannot pick and choose what meaning you’re advocating when displaying a symbol – you accept them all, which is what makes a symbol so powerful, but interestingly not displaying a symbol can be just as powerful.

Earlier this month, we were asked to wear the color purple to memorialize and support several students who had committed suicide after prolonged bullying. Imagine feeling so hopeless and so helpless that you feel the only way to escape the daily torment is to kill yourself. I was never the popular kid, but I never – not once – felt so out of control that I felt I had to take drastic measure to escape. There are few things I support in life more than the equality of all people and their right to be themselves – indeed, see my thoughts above regarding my flag. No child should be emotionally tortured because their sexual orientation may not be “traditional.”

However, I chose not to participate. By choosing not to participate, I was not rejecting the premise and not rejecting the support of those who may need it. I was rejecting the notion that this was the only way in which we acknowledge our caring. The color purple means nothing to me – I have no basis on which to draw an association between purple and anti-bullying. If I do not understand the associations behind the symbol, I’m not sure I’m willing to display the symbol. It doesn’t I don’t support those being bullied. It means that I’m not bought into the symbol and it’s meaning. Much like those who associate meaning for the Tea Party with the Gadsden Flag – they don’t know what they’re buying when they display the flag in general or with the Tea Party in specific, they just know they’re pissed off.

I’m pissed off that a child feels the only way out of a bad situation is to kill him or herself. I’m pissed off that the adults in these kids’ lives are either so oblivious or don’t care enough to find out what is going on in their lives, that those adults haven’t created a situation where that child feels safe telling them about their trouble. I’m pissed that the adults in these kids lives have allowed these children’s peers to gain social power in a culture of violence. I’m pissed that bullies have been empowered to do their deed unchecked.

I feel sad for these kids. I don’t know that I need to display purple to express this. I’m not even sure you could get a consistent definition of “bullying” from those who did participate. We do more to support the victims of bullying by not tolerating bad behavior, by confronting bullying behavior when we see it, and by building a trusting relationship through our own behavior and by taking responsibility to exercise control in a situation. Wearing the purple symbol is fine, but it means nothing if you don’t modify your own behavior.

Symbols are powerful in their capacity to express a meaning. When displaying a symbol one must be sure of the meaning being expressed. Be conscious of the symbols you choose to display, but when you do choose to display them, display them proudly and live to the meaning – even if it’s just supporting your football team.

Why History Matters in Sport

In an age where “epic” has come to mean something quite clearly less than its formal definition – it now means a fantastic night out as opposed to a civilization defining moment – indicating a societal disconnect with the past, our professional sports constantly remind us of their respective histories and where the current day matches up. We look to ritual and history to compare our place in the world and to provide reassurance of lasting importance.

Lord Stanley’s Cup is the oldest trophy in North American sport, dating back to 1892, predating even the current National Hockey League (NHL) the league which awards it to its champion. The NHL markets it’s “Original Six” as the foundation of the league that today numbers 30 teams, in such far flung locations as Anaheim, California and Charlotte, North Carolina. The National Football League ensures we know just how many Super Bowls have been played by adding Roman numeral nomenclature to each game. The crests of MLB’s National League prominently displays the year “1876″ as a reminder of its founding.

It becomes a means by which each game reassures us that they have a foundation and creates an expectation of its continued existence. The period of time to which the “Original Six” refers was a time of stability in the NHL, the longest period of stability in the league’s existence. No team folded, relocated, changed its name. With the expansion of the league in 1967, the landscape of the game changed ‘” the league doubled in size ‘” and by the early 1970s, some of those expansion teams began to move and financially struggle. There was a need to reassure the fan base that these transitions did not threaten the game. Note the NHL does not promote the actual age of the Stanley Cup ‘” far older than any of the “Original Six” teams – but promotes the league and the game through referencing the history of the franchises.

The Super Bowl did not begin to bear nomenclature until the third game, with the previous games retroactively numbered. The game itself was a championship between two rival leagues and it was not until a merger was planned that the number of these games would be significant – this was a game that would remain, so become invested in it. To this day, the Super Bowl represents the National Football League, a league with a history of team movement, bankruptcy, and failed franchises with little by way of stability. The “big game” is the history upon which the NFL predominantly relies although it protects its history where that history is important: When the Cleveland Browns pulled up stakes to move to Baltimore, the city kept the name “Browns” for a future incarnation of the team; Thanksgiving Day games are still played in Detroit and Dallas every year because that is where they have always been played, regardless of how good or bad either the Lions or Cowboys are. The Detroit Thanksgiving Day game reaches back to the founding of the league, demonstrating the importance of ritual and history.

Professional baseball in the United States needs little overt reference to history ‘” until the league expanded in the 1960′s, the two leagues remained stable over 60 years. There was no question the time honored game would remain. There is no overt reference to the number of World Series that have been played ‘” it’s always been a part of the American landscape. Almost to the point where the games history and ritual becomes a hindrance to modernization ‘” when the league announced a plan to include advertising for a Spider-Man movie on the bases in 2004, a controversy erupted. Nothing had ever been displayed on the bases themselves. The game itself is steeped in history.

We compare records, review historic trends, and measure our current players and teams against those which have come before. It doesn’t matter that two of the “Original Six” have won the Stanley Cup only once since 1993. What matters is that the framework and context is set such that we can refer to that history and to hold onto it. It matters that we can look back at the New England Patriots chasing a “perfect season” and compare their run to that of the 1972 Miami Dolphins. It matters that when we hunker down in mid-winter to watch the “Big Game” that there have been some 40-odd contests which have come before, because we know we’ll be right back here next year at about the same time.

My Three Best Cars

I’ve had my share of automobiles. Some very good. Some very bad. In some ways, the bad cars are the ones I remember more fondly – like the yellow Volkswagen Super Beetle that had no brakes, no muffler, and was more primer and rust than factory yellow and sheet metal. It eventually came to be outfitted with an air horn and a chrome shift handle, just to add a touch of panache.

I blew the starter on that car several times because the battery was located under the back seat, which had lost all padding between the support springs and said battery. When anyone would sit in the back on that side, the springs would be lowered onto the battery terminals and create a wonderful little short circuit. Most of the time this wasn’t an issue, because not many people would ride in a car with no apparent means of stopping, but when it was, the car was easily started with a screw-driver and a little bending under the rear bumper.

The best cars have been those that just went. Not flashy, not anything much more than utilitarian (although any additional extras have always been welcome), but would not require a lot of attention and would always do what was asked of them reliably. “Best” as used here is a subjective term, but is broadly defined as having logged the miles, required little more than routine maintenance, and generally provided me value for that which I had invested.

1989 Ford Escort LX. By the time I had sold this car, it had 138,000 miles on it. I bought it the summer before I started graduate school and it took me on more than a few 1100-mile weekend round trips, brought me to my first professional job, and my second, and my third. It saw me become a father, and made it through several apartments and a house, even came close to outlasting a marriage. It was an uber-dorkmobile, but it was reliable and I had a strong loyalty to it.

It also has the distinction of having survived quite possibly the oddest car accident in which I’ve ever been a participant. While on a secondary road on a rainy day where I was travelling toward a split where my side of the road expanded, I watched as an oncoming driver ‘” traveling toward the corresponding narrowing of the road on that side ‘” jockeyed for position with another to get in front, lost control of the rear of her car. As she overcorrected for the fish tail and as her side of the road narrowed, the swerving of the car became ever more erratic eventually turning into a complete 180 and hitting the front of my car with the rear of hers. The fellow entirely too close behind me, made the executive decision to avoid hitting me by swerving to the left, but in so doing hit her, thus allowing my beloved Escort the opportunity to serve me another couple of years.

1999 Volvo V70. By the time I traded this car in, and yes, someone actually took it, it had exactly 198,700 miles on it ‘” by far the most longevity of any automobile I’ve owned and by that metric really should be number one on my list of “best cars.” It served me well, but had long since outlived its usefulness; I guess I make the mistake of holding that longevity and my unwillingness to invest any further money into the car against it. By the end, the heat was not working and I was carting around jugs of anti-freeze to make sure I wouldn’t get caught short.

It was a sad demise, if for no other reason than I just couldn’t get the additional 1300 miles out of it for a nice round 200,000 miles. It was a sharp car ‘” white, with mag wheels and let’s face it, if you’re going to drive a station wagon, it should at least be sharp. I could deal with accoutrements that began to fail ‘” the little headlight wipers never really did work right. Other than that, this car required nothing of me, only an opportunity to go places. It was as utilitarian as they come with the added benefit of not being an uber-dork mobile ‘” unless you consider a station wagon (even with mag wheels) a dork-mobile by definition and in which case I’m not going to be able to convince you it wasn’t.

2000 Mazda 626. When I say this car was one of the best cars I’ve ever owned, it’s not to say I liked it. I actually actively hated this car. It was stupid looking, it did nothing particularly well and it was nothing if not stodgy. The marketing people called the color “Chestnut.” I called it “Diarrhea Brown.”

We took possession of it while it had a total of 18 miles on it and drove it relentlessly for 146,000 miles. I eventually traded it in, not because stuff was falling off of it or because stuff wasn’t working on it, but because I just hated it that much. It probably went to trade looking as good inside and out, as it was the day I took delivery. I include it on the list of best cars because while I genuinely had affection for my little blue Escort and I actually liked the Volvo which could influence their rankings, I hated this car and yet without much attention, without much maintenance at all it just did its job. It could turn on a dime ‘” it had probably the tightest turning radius of any car I’ve ever owned ‘” but other than that, it did one thing and one thing only. That one thing was log miles.

Products are designed to meet consumer needs. Some of those needs are economy, or prestige, or utilitarian travel. My Escort was about as economical as they come – between what I actually paid for the car, how much it cost to maintain, and to run, it owed me nothing. My Volvo met any prestige needs for an acceptable period of time, and while not inexpensive, it provided value ‘” any automobile that can accept 198,700 miles is worth whatever paid. This Mazda though, it met only the need for reliable transportation. It didn’t gratify any emotional needs, it just did its job and did so economically. Truly, at the end of the day, as much as I hated that car because there was nothing distinctive about it, sometimes just doing your job is enough. If given the chance, that car would probably still be carting my carcass around.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:
GF Platform Mazda 626: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_626#1998
First Generation Volvo V70:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_V70#First_generation_.281997.E2.80.932000.29

First Generation Ford Escort:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Escort_(North_America)#First_generation_.281981.E2.80.931990.29

Three Products Which Must Be Brought Back

Every now and again, mostly when I go to my kitchen cabinet and find stuff like “trail mix’ or some other un-salted, and otherwise un-appetizing bird food, I think about some of the good old fashioned junk food that used to be available. Before anyone knew what “trans-fats” were, when “Big Macs” actually tasted like something and you could buy Coca-Cola made with real sugar in glass bottles, we had access to some fantastic junk food.

Sadly, these things have gone by the way-side. Now, you can still buy horehound candy - a grotesque abomination of the word ‘candy’ if there ever was one – and every now and again some marketing genius will spit out some crap like the “McRib,” but you cannot put your hands on the wonderful treats of yore that you really want.

When you think about it, the junk food we have today just isn’t worth the calories. A “modern” Twinkie is not the same cake I used to eat – it’s smaller and the filling has the consistency of vegetable shortening. Blech. I remember the grainy feel of sugar as I’d bite into one of those bad boys. The last time I had fried chicken of any real value was close to 20 years ago, I was in Mexico and these guys were frying this stuff up in 100% lard. Now THAT is fried chicken. Colonel, I don’t care if you have 15 chefs in each restaurant “perfecting” the recipe; if you’re not frying that stuff up in good old fashioned animal fat, it’s just not worth it to me. Here are three items I wonder where they went and why I can’t put my hands on them now.

Ah, the good old days when no one really tried to pretend that a donut might actually be a reasonable choice and when no one had ever heard of “high fructose corn syrup.” Please bring these beautiful, wonderful treats back to me before I have to eat one more cashew nut or rice cake.

Three products that should immediately be brought back:

O’Grady’s Au Gratin Potato Chips. Man, these cheesy, extra-thick cut potato chips were the absolute bomb back in the day. I’ve found some links that suggest there were several different styles of these beauties, but all I really care about is the Au Gratin ones. These things were probably way too salty, and insanely loaded with all of those things someone designing the food pyramid (or whatever that’s been changed to) would have a stoke over, but nothing – and I mean NOTHING – would satisfy a salty cheese jones like these things would. Dear Frito-Lay marketing/production/R&D/advertising person, if you read this, please please please reiterate the imperative nature of returning this potato-starch crack to the marketplace.

Some recent comments on the “O’Grady’s Au Gratin Chips… BRING THEM BACK!!!!” Facebook fan page: “I’d do 100 hours of community service for a bag of O’Grady’s right now!!!” and “They are beyond imagination – it takes the experience itself for you to understand our passion.” I, for one, have never seen similar words uttered about “Ruffles” or “Cheez Waffies.”

Dunkin Donuts “Bismark.” This was not a donut. This was not a pastry. This was a solid, unadulterated clump of carbohydrates and fat. Sadly, what I can find about this amazing donut online is not what I’m talking about – it was not chocolate iced and it most certainly did not have anywhere near 340 calories. No, this thing was a vanilla cream and jelly (yes, that’s right, all mixed together) filled raised cruller-type donut, with vanilla cream on top of it and sometimes with a glop of jelly on top of that AND sometimes it would be rolled in sugar for good measure. If this thing wasn’t worth 900-calories, we’re not talking about the same donut. For years Dunkin Donuts has trotted out information such as “our donuts have no cholesterol**” with the asterisks excluding the French cruller – which is quite possibly one of the finest pieces of work on their menu, if I do say so myself. Here’s a newsflash: I’m at a freaking donut shop, I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE FREAKING CARBOHYDRATES. Give me the biggest freaking bag of grease, fat, and sugar you can give me. Give me the Bismark donut I’m describing here, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to go back to “Fred the Baker,” and make the freaking donuts.

CW Post Cereal. “What? You go from potato chips and donuts to a freaking granola cereal??” Yeah, that’s right. CW Post was awesome. It wasn’t just granola. It was different. It had these awesome clumps, held together with what I can only presume was some kind of sugar. They used coconut in the cereal, too, and man do I love coconut. You just can’t get granola like this anymore. Other kids were heavy into Trix or Fruity Pebbles. I was heavy into this stuff. I almost never ate it as a cereal – you know, in a bowl with milk. Nope, the milk only messes up the taste. Straight out of the box and leaning against the counter while I did it. According to the Wikipedia article on this stuff, the sugar content was just under 28% which was in the middle range for cereal then! 28%! If sugary food is addictive, this stuff would be something close to crack, and I could stand there and eat an entire box of this stuff if left to my own devices. And note, most granola isn’t 28% sugar….yeah. This is just pure awesome yum.


ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:
O’Grady’s Facebook Fan page - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=83990504066

Doubt and the Boy

His First MLB Game at Fenway Park

We converted "standing room only" tickets into an evening in the Fenway Park press box for his very first major league game. An amazing evening for the two of us.

Doubt.  Self doubt.  It’s so hard to keep everything in order and prioritized – so hard to know if you’re doing the right thing or keeping the right things in focus.  I am proud that I was able to find opportunity out of what could have been a loss of self and identity – to find personal and professional growth, and to have an opportunity of a lifetime to build a relationship with my son at a young time in his life.

I have a job I couldn’t love more, something that speaks to everything I’ve wanted my professional life to be.  I wonder, though, if in pursuing professional excellence, I’m compromising what I have built with my son.

I was away for a couple of days last week.  The night before I was leaving, he was anxious and couldn’t sleep.  I left before he awoke the next morning, I came home after he was asleep and wasn’t awake when he went to school.  I was gone for two days but it must’ve felt like all week to him. I picked him up at school that day and he gave me a huge hug.  We spent the weekend hanging around – haircuts, video games, snuggled on the couch.  But then there are the times he just “wants to be alone.”  I’m exhausted from the traveling, and actually take a midday nap – from which he wakes me up, just wanting to play, but I’m just not up to it.

I’m conflicted because I have more time with him than I ever would with a more traditional job, but not as much as I used to have and sometimes, like this past week, I have big chunks of time when I’m not available to him.  It makes me sad to be so happy with the direction of my professional life while experiencing this readjustment.  He’s used to his Dad being a “stay at home” dad, a student and available to him all the time.

This summer will be my first on this new job, and it will be one of the busy times of the year.  For two summers he and I had all that time for each other, and now it will likely be the polar opposite.  I’m trying to figure out a way to include him in my scheduling plans – hoping to be able to take him to some places he may not have otherwise have seen, but to him it will not be the same summers he’s become used to.  We both have had a gift, he just doesn’t know how much a gift it has been and I worry that I didn’t take full advantage of it or that I will lose what we had.

I’m writing this at 1 in the morning, because I can’t sleep…probably because I took that nap earlier, and as such the cycle will likely repeat itself – he’ll be up when I’m not and I’ll be grumpy when I do get up because I’m tired and then I’ll feel guilty about it.  And then my week will start again with more time away.  So, I’ll now go to bed, and when I get up I’ll make the conscious decision not to be grumpy.  I hope I pull it off, because I don’t want to let this slip – it’s far too important.

Quote

“He’s not perfect.”

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”
― Bob Marley

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