Category Archives: deep thoughts

ringing in the new…

We're just not there yet...

Sadly, we’re just not THERE yet…

Wednesday night was New Year’s Eve and for some reason, I was in no mood to party whatsoever.  I wasn’t angry or anything; I was just a little tired and didn’t feel like I was going to miss anything by not celebrating. I’m sure this feeling in part was due to the fact that The Auteur has been sick off and on over the last several days.  As it turns out,  1B had some friends over for the night, so The Auteur and I still ended up ringing in 2015 with the kids after all.

Those feelings serve to me as one of those reminders that I really am getting old.  Not in any negative sense, mind you; it’s just that partying doesn’t seem as important to me as it once did.  Of course, given the fact that The Auteur and I are having a baby, it’s not like she could have gotten festive – i.e. drunk – even if she really wanted to.  Partying just really wasn’t that important to me this year.  I was much more content just spending a quiet night with The Auteur.

Perhaps that’s not a sign of getting old as much as it is a sign of maturing.

Chasing the Big C

on the seaThe Old Man has cancer.  And it ain’t looking real good.

He has been in the hospital now for 22 days.  Last night, my brother had him sign some paper work that explicitly expresses his wishes for medical treatment, should be become really sick.  A couple weeks ago, The Auteur and I were asked to be witnesses when a patient across the hall had to fill out the same paperwork.

What goes around comes round, I guess.

“the son becomes the father and the father becomes the son”

the son becomes the father...

the son becomes the father…

Coming to the hospital, it hit me – hard.

I’m going to lose my father.  Probably sooner rather than later.

It’s been all but confirmed:  he has cancer in his liver, his lung, his pancreas and on his bones.  I’m assuming we’ll get an official confirmation in about 8 1/2 hours when we meet with his doctors.

I’m not ready to lose him, but I can’t stand seeing him in this kind of pain.  The drugs he’s on are making him speak in non-sense;  see things that aren’t there.  Now, he’s talking about things from when he was a kid.  If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that it had spread to his brain; or that maybe he has Alzheimer’s.

The son becomes that father and the father becomes the son.

In the last two weeks, I have watched him transform in sickly, old man.  It’s a pretty surreal transformation to witness when there’s still the spirit of a five-year-old within you who is convinced that your Dad is the strongest person in the world.

I’m spending the night in the hospital room with him.  The overnight nurse suggested that someone stay – partially because of the way the drugs affect him; and partially because of his overall condition.  As eerie as this vigil feels, I have the feeling I may be very glad I agreed to stay with him tonight.

Mom, Mom; Dad, Dad

Last week, the Auteur and I threw a birthday party for 1B.  Aside from the aforementioned birthday, this day marked a special occasion in that it was the first time that mine and The Auteur’s parents met each other. It went great, probably better than we should have expected.  I don’t necessarily see them hanging out together or anything, but they were more than cordial and more than polite with each other:  They were friendly with each other.

It’s strange because I wasn’t nearly nervous or excited about it as I expected to be.  A lot of that was due to the fact that the Auteur and I were both running around like proverbial chickens with our heads cut off – trying to get everything ready in the 36 plus  hours leading up to the party and we were tired.  I also think a lot of it is due to the fact that –  let’s face it, were not 20 anymore – our parents simply aren’t as big of a factor in our lives as they were when we were younger.

Something is happening to me.  Lately, I feel like I’m not nearly as sentimental about some thing as I once was.  I’ve always been a softie, but that’s definitely changing in some aspects of my life.  Am I getting old?  Cynical?

Hell, even with this blog. There was a time when I would have been writing about the party/our parents meeting that night or the next day.  I just don’t do that anymore.

In other news, I got a call Thursday from the assistant principal at a high school in Georgia.  This is the same district that I met with at a job fair back in April.  I’ve been trying real hard not to put all my eggs into that proverbial basket.  In fact, I pretty much gave up hope on them when they started school earlier this month.  But that’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years:  When I stop obsessing over something, it usually ends up falling into my lap.  More on that as it develops.

Rob Reviews: Heaven is For Real

DVD art.  Not to be confuse with the book or the true story.

DVD art.

Earlier this week, I saw Heaven is For Real.  I didn’t really plan on seeing it – it was The Auteur and 1B’s suggestion- but I think I might have gotten even just as into the movie than either of them did.

The movie and the novel from which it was adapted are based on a true story.  Here’s the story in a nutshell:  Greg Kinnear plays Todd Burpo a minister whose son Colton claims to have visited Heaven after falling ill.  Colton’s experience becomes the talk of the town forcing Burpo and eventually the town folk to examine their own faith. Like any good art, this movie got me thinking; not in the sense that it redefined or reaffirmed my spiritual faith, but it got me thinking about faith and spirituality again.

Let me be absolutely clear:  I am not a terribly religious man, but I do consider myself spiritual at times.  I am not a fan of organized religion.  When you stop and think about the whole concept of organized religion, the entire church hierarchy was established because people were generally illiterate and needed The Bible interpreted for them.

I used to think that I don’t need anyone to explain The Bible to me.  I’m educated, I’m a teacher.  I can interpret The Bible for myself, I thought.  While I was watching this movie, I realized how hypocritical that attitude is for me to have as a teacher.  People defer to me to teach their children because of my training.  People see me as something of an authority when it comes to education.  The least I can do is have the same respect for clergymen and clergywomen.

I think what really got my goat about this movie – and I can’t speak for the book or the true story – was the attitude that the members of Burpo’s church have about young Colton’s experience.  One would expect even the most religious person to have a healthy dose of skepticism upon hearing about a trip to Heaven.  However most of the community had the attitude of  “C’mon Todd, you don’t really believe in all this Heaven stuff do you?”   The film does a good job of demonstrating logical, rational explanations for Colton’s experience; but the churchgoers seem to reject Colton’s experience outright.  A question I think the director should have addressed is when it really comes down to it, how much do you believe in that which you claim to hold so dear?

This entry isn’t a pro-Christian piece, or even a pro religion piece of any sort.  But the fact is humans established religion(s) to explain those things that we can’t really explain.  Why are we here?  What is purpose in this world?  What happens when life ends?  These are all questions that religions are established and the answers require – no pun intended – a leap of faith.  There’s no scientific or rational evidence to back up an religious doctrine but that’s the point.  You trust in something when you don’t have all the answers.  That’s something the film makers should have preached to the audience.

addictions and withdrawals

About 3 weeks ago, I began moonlighting at a major pharmacy/retailer.  Now, I’m sitting home after working a 7 hour shift and I’m restless because it’s the first time I’ve really had a chance to relax.

I think I’m getting addicted to work.

I was pretty lucky this week in that I had three days in which I worked both of my jobs.  I say lucky because the school year is winding down and I know I will have to find another job of some sort relatively soon; so I’m trying to get as many sub gigs as I can before the school year ends.

It’s only been one week that I’ve been really busy and I find myself restless at the prospect of sitting here with nothing to do.  Do work addictions happen this quickly?

I haven’t talked to The Kid much in the last several days.  In part because I’ve been working a lot of nights this week; also in part because he is only returning my calls sporadically.    Last week, I booked airplane tickets to pick him up for a week at the end of the month.  I’m stoked to see him but right now our relationship seems a little rocky.  He and I need this time together, but I fear it will be a little awkward at first.

Who am I kidding?  I’m always afraid of how awkward things are going to be  with him.  Given our recent history, I think I’m pretty well justified in this fear.

roots

The Auteur, 1B and I spent Memorial Day with my family on The Old Man’s side. It was as good as I expected it to be. It was the first time that 1b had met most of them. For the Auteur, while her and I attended my cousin’s grandchild’s (my third cousin??) birthday party, it was probably the first time she really had a chance to talk to most of them one-on-one. Some observations on the day:

  • It’s funny, because I’m probably closer to my Dad’s side of the family than I ever have been in my life. all of my cousins on that side of the family are older than me; but age, I have found has become more or less of a relative thing as we get older.
  • As they have gotten older, I see that my Dad and my uncle are looking more and more alike. I notice they have similar mannerisms to an extent that I never noticed when I was younger.
  • They do the “big brother-little brother” thing where my uncle (the older brother) will give a funny look at my dad (the younger brother) when he does or says something. My oldest cousin pointed this out to me. I guess one almost has to be a big brother or a little brother to notice a dynamic such as this.
  • I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: family really is all that anyone has in this world. Maybe my dad’s side of the family has come to this realization as well.
  • The dynamic on my mom’s side of the family is such a stark contrast to that of my dad’s side. Whereas my i wasn’t real close to my dad’s side growing up, I was tight with my mom’s side in the early years.  As we’ve all gotten older, my mom’s side of the family has drifted apart. Deaths in that side of  the family started when I was young and seemed to have scattered various family members around the country and caused many of those who stayed close to home to drift apart emotionally.

When I get together with my extended family, I think about my own family and the family I want to have someday.  I want The Kid to know his cousins and, to at least some extent, have them be a part of his life.  The truth is, the nuclear family dynamic I experienced – one which I will describe as a “traditional family” – is more the exception than the rule these days.  The Kid will never know the “traditional family dynamic” that I experienced.

Catching up with The Apostle

Had this picture been made in 2014, I'm sure the artist would have included The Apostle I blog about today.

Had this picture been made in 2014, I’m sure the artist would have included The Apostle I blog about today.

Last night, The Auteur and I went to a surprise birthday party for my oldest longest-tenured friend in this world:  I’ll call him The Apostle.  I call him this not to be blasphemous or sarcastic, but because he has stronger religious convictions than anyone I’ve ever known.  I’ve known The Apostle since kindergarten.  We went to elementary, junior high and high school together.  We discovered girls together.  He was the best man at my wedding.

In an interesting aside, he met Jabba during his “born-again” phase.  When he learned about her religious beliefs, he told her to her face that everything he had ever heard had told him that she would go to Hell.

The Apostle’s wife, with some help from his sister and brother-in-law, put together a phenomenal birthday event.  It was at a banquet hall that was better suited to a wedding reception.  They had a few of his close friends give speeches about him and put together a video including greetings from some of his long-distance friends.  One of the speakers brought up a quote that he credited to the Apostle – though I have seen it used by others on the web:

Crave your future.

One of the things I really took from last night – and the birthday video in particular – was that The Apostle has truly made an impact on the lives of his family, friends and loved ones.  That famous Jackie Robinson quote ran through my head as I heard person after person sing the praises of The Apostle: “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives”.

Watching that video and processing all this information, I’m forced to wonder: what impact have I really made on the lives of others?  I know that it often takes time for a person to rebuild their life after a divorce.  Hell it has taken my brother and sister years to get themselves back to where they are now, but it’s more than that.  I need to be more involved – maybe even more active in my community.  I want to be more well-rounded.  I’m not saying that I want to be involved in a church like he is; I just want to feel like I make a difference in peoples’ lives.

I crave my future.  I obsess over it.  Sometimes I think so much about it, I don’t do enough to actually work toward it.  Everything I want is within my grasp:  my career, the woman of my dreams, my son, the future life that I’ve sought for the last two years – it’s all mine for the taking.  I just have to do it.

It’s funny, because The Apostle and I were SO very competitive growing up.  We used to push each other.  A lot.  At various times throughout our lives, I think we envied each other.  I haven’t seen the guy in 2 years – since our 20 year reunion – and  he’s pushing me once again.

I got game

hard time, indeed

hard time, indeed

Today I substitute taught at a juvenile correctional facility.

Juvie.

I had heard about the facility a while ago, and i was tempted to fill-in there but it wasn’t until I talked to some teachers at another local school that I really thought i’d give it a try.

Like a lot of people, I was nervous to go there.  I was intimidated by the fact that the kids there are…incarcerated.  But the more I heard about it, the more intrigued I was:  small class sizes, no possibility of snow days, kids whose very freedom depends on their cooperation with authority. From what I could see, these weren’t bad kids.  they are kids who did some really dumb, or even bad things; but they themselves did not seem like bad people.

I played basketball with the boys’ PE class.  It was probably the one time of the day that they are allowed outside and the closest thing they currently have to a sense of freedom.  I’ve never been much of a basketball player.  I’ve always lacked the coordination for the sport; but I wanted to connect with the kids.  I actually scored 8 points.

The entire day was a very…humbling experience.  It really helped me put a lot of things into perspective.  Concerns and stressors that I’ve had lately suddenly didn’t quite so important.  The kids with whom i worked were pretty much stripped down to the basics – literally.  These are young people who have lost their freedom.    The experience mad me not only appreciate the small things; but it also made me realize that things currently can and will work out .

Naturally, seeing these young people there naturally got me thinking about The Kid and hoping that he stays out of trouble. Given the chance, I would most certainly work at this facility again.

Weathering the storm

A valuable lesson in checking your e-mail on a timely basis:

This past Sunday I opened an e-mail from Jabba explaining that her dad had died that Friday night.

It seemed both crazy and not at all unexpected.  He’s had health issues for some time.  I also know that the last few times I asked Jabba how he was doing, her response was “not good” though she never really elaborated. I suppose I should have expected such curt responses from her.  After all, we are divorced; but I was always legitimately concerned with her father’s welfare.   I wonder if I’ll ever get used to the fact that I am now at the age where my parent’s generation – The Baby Boomers – are slowly beginning to die off and we, the children of the Baby Boomers – Generation X if you will – are inheriting the Earth.

Jabba’s Dad was always very good to me; regardless if how bizarre her mother got at times.  Even after Jabba and I split up he was very friendly with me when I was in SC dropping The Kid off at their house. During my previous life, I even got to the point where I began to address her parents as Mom & Dad; so it was a little weird when Jabba and I initially split up and I began to call him by his first name.

As I always tend to do when someone I know dies,  Jabba’s Dad’s death has me thinking of mortality:  mine, my parents, The Auteur, even our kids.  Life is too short and I often feel like I’ve been just spinning my tires.  I’m 40 years old and what do I really have to show for myself? I know, it often takes years for people to rebuild their lives following a divorce; but for me it feels like the same old problems in my life.  Something, a lot of things, need to change.

I really worry about how The Kid is taking all of this.  He’s holding up pretty well, from everything I’ve seen and heard.  This is probably the first death of a real close loved one he’s dealt with.  Jabba’s dad lived with them for almost two years after her and I split.  That’s got to affect him more than we realize.  Jabba’s mother died a few years ago, but he was way too young to remember that.  The sights and sensations of a funeral may stay with him for a long time.  I wish I had the means to be there for him tomorrow.  Even if I could, I’m not sure how appropriate it would be for me to be there.

The funeral is tomorrow, so Jabba and The Kid are in town as Jabba’s dad is being buried in his hometown here in Michigan.  The Kid and I got together for a few hours yesterday.  Though the reasoning behind The Kid’s visit made me sad, I was so happy to see him yesterday.  We played at an indoor playground called The Treehouse.  It was the kind of pure unadulterated fun that I desperately needed right now.  I’m especially happy to say that he’s still small enough that I can life him up and put him on my shoulders.  I know that sounds corny, but I want him to remain small for as long as possible.  I already miss far too much of his everyday life for my taste.    Saying goodbye to him was, of course, sad.  I hated to see him go. I know he hated saying goodbye to me too.

I miss him more than I realized.  I miss doing everyday stuff with him:  playing, hearing about his school day, meeting his friends.  I have to find a way to visit with him this summer.  I’m not sure where we’ll stay or for how long, or how I’m going to fund such a venture, but I have to find a way to make it happen.   The truth is, I’m not involved enough in his life.  I have to change that.  I have to force that change if necessary.

There’s a sign in the classroom that I’m subbing in today that reads “Conflict Facilitates Change”.  That’s some food for thought today.   We’re watching a clip from “America:  The Story of Us” covering the start of the Great Depression. The overriding theme of this segment is the American “Can Do” attitude and our ability to persevere through adversity; again, more food for thought.

Maybe Shirley Manson said it best when she sang “the trick is to keep breathing.”

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