Category Archives: L-I-V-I-N’

knowing that i know nothing

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The wit and wisdom of Bill & Ted…

Bill: So-cratz – “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing”.

Ted: That’s us, dude.

– from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

I’ve decided to shift gears a little bit with this blog.  I have been noticing a trend developing here for a while, and it took my favorite WordPress “follower” to confirm it for me:  This blog is far too much about “rehashing Rob”  and not nearly enough “Rebuilding Rob”.  That changes now.  Besides, I have things fermenting in the legal arena in regards to Jabba and The Kid that I don’t want to even begin to discuss here.  Instead, I’m going to write today about something that has been stuck in my craw for quite a while:

I don’t know the first thing about being a step-dad.

As i said, I’ve wanted to write about this for a while; but the other day, I took 1B to a doctor’s appointment.  The doctor came out to the waiting room and addressed me as “1b’s step-dad?”  I have no problem with her referring to me as her step-dad already.  In fact, I’m flattered and honored.  My big problem – as it is in so many other aspects in my life is my penchant for erring on the side of caution.

I don’t want to step on other people’s toes.  I don’t want to put off, offend or unnerve anyone – sometimes to a fault.  Sometimes, I err so far on the side of caution that I end up coming across as distant or aloof.  Here’s a completely random example – and no, this is not me bitching about a particular incident – sometimes I’ll try so hard to give The Auteur and 1B some alone time that I end up removing myself from a conversation; or physically removing myself from a room – and then I come across to them as upset or angry when I’m far from it.

People like to say “there’s no instruction book that comes with being a parent”.  This is absolutely true and for the most part, you don’t really need one.  As a parent, you’re pretty much able to make up the rules and routines as you go.  As a step-parent or a step-patent-to-be, you’re entering into someone else’s relationship and  you don’t have the luxury of making things up as you go.  As a step-parent, you are the foreign element being introduced.  You are expected to conform to the rules and routines that are already established in the family.  There are certain tasks, duties, responsibilities you are expected to perform; and others that are considered way out of line for you to address.  It is a proverbial tightrope that is walked by the step-parent.

Extraordinary Girl

She’s an Extraordinary girl In an ordinary world”   – Green Day.

Sorry.  American Idiot  has been on my mind ever since The Auteur & I saw the musical.

This past Friday, I had the absolute best Valentine’s Day ever with the woman I love.

In case I haven’t said it on this blog before, I’ll say it now:  I love and I’m in love with The Auteur.

Simply stated:  she’s amazing.  We both have the exact same idea of what love is and what love should be (that I know, I’ve said on this blog before)  We have each other’s backs.  When the going gets tough for me, I know I can always look to my side and she will be right there by my side in the proverbial trenches.

She’s beautiful.  She’s got an absolutely infectious personality.  She’s an incredibly loving, caring, giving person; and yet, she does not take any crap from anyone.  I see what a great kid 1B is and that tells me what a great mother The Auteur  is, and the kind of mother she will be again.  She’s girly – and I mean that in the most flattering way possible.  I want to spoil her rotten.  I want to treat her like a queen.  I want to give her everything she has ever wanted in this world because she deserves it, and she appreciates everything I do for her.

Oh yeah, and somehow she thinks I’m a pretty good guy, so that helps.

Anyway, we enjoyed  our first Valentine’s Day at home.  I had gotten her a few gifts before the big day – in the spirit of our mutual knack for preemptive strikes.  The Auteur returned in kind with a very romantic candlelit dinner.  She pulled all the stops:  a full dinner, desserts, champagne, rose petals.  She set a high bar for creativity, thoughtfulness and romance.  I’ll need to top this in the future, or at least match it.  To that I say “Challenge accepted”.

People like to say that “it’s not about the amount of money you spend, it’s the thought that counts”.  Never has this expression rang more true to me than on Valentine’s Night 2014.  Make no mistake:  The Auteur spent some money on all of this; but it was the thought that went into it all that truly mattered.  It was everything I ever wanted in a Valentine’s Day.

Wow, I think it’s fair to say that The Auteur swept me off of my feet.

In the past I’ve had my insecurities about The Auteur.  I’ve wondered when she would get sick of me – sick of my idiosyncrasies.  I wondered when the novelty of “us” would wear off.  Somehow, it all occurred to me Friday night just how much The Auteur truly loves me.  I know I’ve thought it before, but I don’t if I written this before:  I’m not afraid of the future anymore.  On the contrary, I’m absolutely psyched for it.  I know the life that I want.  I know who I want to spend it with; and to paraphrase Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally… I want it to begin as soon as possible.

Of course, there are still loose send for both of us to tie up with our exes.    My lawyer’s untimely passing has me asking more questions about my divorce than before.  And there’s the matter of Jabba telling me about The Kid seeing a counselor, but I’ll talk more about that in my next entry…

Feeling Roger Murtaugh

"I'm gettin' too old for.." well, you know.

“I’m gettin’ too old for..” well, you know.

I’ve never been one to say that anyone is “too old for this” or “too old for that”.  In fact, I’ve always lived my life by the expression that “age is nothing but a state of mind”.  But the fact is, I’m almost forty years old.  I haven’t worked out for months, I don’t party like I used to and I’m getting any younger.

The Auteur and I went to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in Lansing last night.  During the show, I had a shocking revelation:

I’m getting a little old for the whole “concert going” thing.

I got sore standing in one spot for extended periods of time.  It was really hot standing around, completely surrounded by other heavy breathing, sweaty, alcohol-fueled concert goers.  It was really creepy when The Auteur and I realized that the only people in attendance older than us were probably the various band members’ parents.  And even they were watching the show through their smartphones.  The whole smartphones-at-concerts thing was something I missed out on during the concert drought I went through for most of my 30’s.  I tried.  The last concert I went to in Charleston was Public Enemy.  I snapped a few pics there with my Droid, but I couldn’t bring myself to snap dozens or hundreds of pictures the way that some people seem to do now.  Another thing that shocked me was how affected I was by drinking a single beer.  The fact is, I almost never drink anymore.  I wasn’t sloshed or anything but the beer and the temperature in the bar really made me drowsy. 

Sadly, this isn’t the first concert I’ve noticed this at.  I felt much same way at Depeche Mode this past summer. The only differences there are the fact that it was a much bigger, outdoor venue and it was an older and much more mellow crowd.  Of course, at that show, I didn’t have any alcohol.

The worst part of all this is, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not getting any younger.  This isn’t going to get any easier.  I mean, I could start working out again.  That may help me feel more energetic, but I’m still getting going to get older.

Rob does Black Friday

once you go Black, you’ll never go back”

This was most certainly NOT my Black Friday experience

This was most certainly NOT my Black Friday experience

For years Phred and my Dad used to go shopping on Black Friday.  Last year several stores including WalMart began opening up late on Thanksgiving night to get a jump on the Black Friday shopping sales.  Apparently it was a smashing success because many, many other stores not only followed suit, but also open even earlier on Thanksgiving day than ever before.

I learned earlier this year that The Auteur, her mother and 1B have a participated in the Black Friday for years as well.  For the last few weeks, The Auteur was on-again, off-again about the prospect of cutting Thanksgiving festivities short in order to score some killer deals on potential Christmas gifts.  Between her Black Friday watch and our constant perusal of store sale flyers, we came to the conclusion that some of this years deals were a little too good to pass up.

Things worked out pretty nicely this year.  We went to LeRoy’s house for turkey dinner on Thursday and then head out to WalMart where – yes, members of the blogosphere – I took part in my first EVER Black Friday on Thursday.  The Auteur got what she was looking for.  Likewise, with some effort Rob’s 2013 equivalent of the Official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle:  the XBox 360.

Earlier this summer, one of The Auteur’s friends had this idea:  that I should get an X Box for both The Kid and myself, get some head-phones and the XBox Live service so we can play games together via the Internet.  Evidently, Jabba had the same idea and made the same suggestion.  Mom & Dad have agreed to pick me up an X Box;  I’ll be taking care of The Kid’s system.

I was shocked at how well planned everything was at the WalMart by LeRoy’s house.  Doorbuster items were set up throughout the store, with mylar baloons indicating their locations.  Greeters were located at the entrances, as usual; but this time they had maps and charts with the locations of said doorbuster items.  Cash register lines were grouped by threes to keep aisles as clear as possible.  It was a much, much different experience than you local news or YouTube would have you believe.

 

talking turkey

This is what I'd like to think my Thanksgiving dinners will look like...

This is what I’d like to think my Thanksgiving dinners will look like…

I have a bit of a confession to make:  I haven’t really enjoyed Thanksgiving for a long, long time. But I think that’s about to change.  In fact, I’m sure of it.  But  I’ll get to that…

For the 8 years that I lived down South, Jabba and I never made it back home for Thanksgiving.  We were both teaching and Thanksgiving Break in academia is basically a 5 day weekend.  Getting a flight for the busiest travel holiday of the year is a very expensive venture – especially when adding in The Kid and said 5 day weekend.  Traveling by car on aforementioned 5 day weekend with said Kid is almost too time consuming.  At the end of it all, Thanksgiving is essentially about one dinner with the family.

To make a long story short, we had agreed that traveling for Thanksgiving was a waste of time and money.  That, and I think we were both okay with the idea of having our own family Thanksgiving dinner.  After all, you could eat turkey and watch the Detroit Lions lose in spectacular fashion on national TV anywhere.  Besides, we could always see the families at Christmas.  We would always come up for Christmas – my mother wouldn’t take no for an answer to that.  At least, not until I had to work on Christmas, but I digress.

Last year was kind of an odd turkey day for me.  Sure, I was with the family, but I missed The Kid – as he was with Jabba.  I lived, of course. alcohol helped.  Besides, it’s still just one dinner on one day. It really wasn’t the end of the world – or even a bad day for that matter.  But this year is already different.

...but they'll probably look more like this.

…but they’ll probably look more like this.

Thanksgiving  is, at least in theory, a day to reflect upon all the things that we are thankful for.  It is a day for family, friends and feasting.  For the first time in a long time, I truly feel  like I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

UPDATE: 11/29/13 3:19 P.M.

The auteur, 1B and I made the trip into Leroy’s house for
Thanksgiving dinner.  It was, of course, my first Thanksgiving with The Auteur and the first time 1B got to meet my mom, LeRoy, his wife, kids and in-laws.  Things went much better than I expected. Not that I expected anything bad to happen; I just assumed that there would be some first-time-you-meet-people awkwardness.  I was a bit anxious because I wanted everyone to hit it off, which they all seemed to do just fine.

Late last night/this morning The Auteur told me what a good time she and 1B had at my brother’s.  She even said that 1B told her it was “the best Thanksgiving ever”.  Maybe that was 1B just being a kid and speaking in hyperbole but it was definitely one for the ages.  It was very casual, very laid-back.  Very real.  Very sincere.  There were no bombshell announcements or shocking revelations like you see in movies.  There was no pressure nor any underlying subtext. It was family enjoying each others company and a great meal together.

I have so much to be thankful for; sometimes I think far more than I deserve.  I have The Auteur – a truly remarkable woman who loves both me and my son – flaws and all – unconditionally.  I have a family for whom I would lay in traffic – and I know would do the same for me.  I have my health and my job – albeit a crappy paying one.

Now I have to stare down a proverbial 400 lb. gorilla called Christmas…

the Ring’s the thing

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

I made a decision earlier today: it’s time to part with my wedding ring.  Part of it’s because I could use the little money I’ll get for it.  Mostly it’s just time to move on and put the past behind me.  It’s probably the nicest gift the STBX ever gave me.  I actually like the ring, and I am NOT a jewelry guy by any stretch of the imagination.  The only other ring I’ve ever really owned was my high school class ring and I NEVER wore that.  As a matter of fact, I sold that one in a similar fashion a few years back.

I remember visiting my brother in Minnesota, shortly before he told us that he and his first wife were getting a divorce, and seeing both of their rings sitting in a glass jar in their bathroom.  I was shock at the time to realize that they weren’t wearing them.  Little did I know that just a short time later, I would do the same thing with my ring.

It’s strange.  When we first got married, I tried to wear it nearly 24/7.  I tried a few times, to wear it at night.  The first time I did, I took it off in my sleep and put it, literally in the center of the bed – between the STBX and I.  I should have taken that as an omen of things to come.  It’s as if my wedding ring was the Negative One Ring.  Instead of becoming addicted to it, it’s as if I became resistant to it.  I stopped wearing it shortly into my marriage – because it was actually starting to bother my skin. Maybe it’s fake gold – I don’t know.

For a while, I seriously considered destroying the ring myself.  In fact, J had told me he could get the materials to melt it down. As much satisfaction as I would have gotten from doing so, I decided against it.  the fact is, I can use the money i’d get from selling it to a jewelry store.  The Auteur had even suggested I save it in case The Boy wanted it some day when/if he gets married.  I briefly considered this idea as well; except that the ring contains the inscription: “Always forever and a day, *******”.  I thought that would be a little weird for The Kid to have such an inscription on his ring – even if he got it from his old man.

UPDATE:  Thursday June 26, 2013.  4:56 PM.

I did it.  Yesterday I took the ring to a local, and pretty reputable, jewelry store.  I was surprised how much they offered for it.  More than what the STBX originally paid for it.  It’s nice to know that the STBX’s symbol of “love and fidelity” increased from $150 to $210 in just under 13 years.

Some Kind of Monster – a near-tragedy in 3 parts

The following is a re-telling of an event that occurred on the night of Saturday June 8th into the morning of Sunday June 9th 2013.  It is on a very short list of the most shameful experience of my life.  It has taken me literally two weeks to process everything that occurred, get multiple perspectives on the chain of events, mend the most essential fences and finally have the nerve to re-live it.  I chose to write this now because I realize that this blog may one day burn some bridges with it’s brutal honesty; and I want to show future readers that I am just as willing to hold myself to the same proverbial fires.

June 7 was The Auteur’s birthday.  She and a friend had tickets to the Pitbull concert that night, so we were going to get a small group of people together Saturday night for a belated celebration.  I was EXTREMELY anxious about giving The Auteur her birthday presents that night.  This is primarily due to the fact that the STBX never really cared for ANY gifts that I ever got her.  Seeing constant disappointment over the better part of 18 years made me think that I was just a bad gift-giver.  Then of course, there were the years when neither of us could afford to exchange birthday or Christmas gifts.  Combine those lean times with the inevitable disappointment that occurred when I tried  to give gifts and after a while, I simply stopped trying.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I ever bought the STBX a can of bug spray or a vacuum cleaner.  In fact, I put a great deal of thought into every gift I ever gave her.  But, as I’ve come to realize  like every other aspect of our marriage – nothing, and I mean NOTHING was ever “good enough”  for the STBX.

We had all agreed to meet up at Sis’s apartment.  I wrapped up The Auteur’s gifts there and was really panicking.  Planning to have a drink or three before going out, I brought along my Jagermeister and Red Bull.  Hey, beer had been bothering my stomach the last few times I drank it – this was my rationale in my anxiety-ridden mind.  Rather than taking my second Inderal to help settle my nerves, I decided to self-medicate the way alcoholics do.  Rather than do it through beer, as I always had in the past, I reached for the Jager.

Oh, and it worked all right.  My nerves were calmed…i.e.  I had a pretty good buzz going by the time The Auteur and her friends arrived at Sis’s.  God she looked so beautiful that night, as she does every night.  I remember a moment there in Sis’s kitchen where we were holding each other, looking deep into each others eyes and I had an epiphany:  I realized that everything would be okay as long as we were together.  I was just ecstatic to see her.  And so relieved when she like the gifts I had gotten her.  I had realized then how dumb it was of me to be so worried about whether or not she would like my gifts.  Neither The Auteur nor any other woman I have ever met could ever be as impossible to please as the STBX.  Holding any other woman to that low of a standard is a disservice to them all.  Anyway, I was feeling pretty good at this point.  the problem with me and hard liquor is that I don’t realize just hard the sauce is hitting me until it’s too late.  When I had my epiphany, I should have put the brakes on the drinking then and there, but I didn’t.  I should have heeded the wisdom of my epiphanic moment, but I didn’t.  Little did I know that i was about to completely lose control that night.

another first

I'll give him this:  the Rock is the Michael Jordan of professional wrestling; he gets non-wrestling fans to watch wrestling.

I’ll give him this: the Rock is the Michael Jordan of professional wrestling; he gets non-wrestling fans to watch wrestling.

Let me explain something:

I like professional wrestling.

Yes, I know it’s scripted – most TV is. Yes, I know they learn how to “take a bump”. But there’s something admirable about the guys who perform approximately 200 nights a year; taking more damage in their falls than they do in the punches they throw. Yes, they are basically actors. In fact, I like to go one step further and state that they are essentially stuntmen – who perform theater in-the-round and they have one take to get their spot right.

Like many of my generation, I grew up watching wrestling in the 80s when Hulk Hogan was king.  Also like many of my generation, I got out of wrestling as I discovered music, girls and alcohol. And then something amazing happened: many of the icons of the 80s came back into vogue in the late ’90s. The story lines got less kid-friendly. Finally, the internet started to break down the fourth wall; separating what was real and what was scripted.  The internet invited  many fans behind the scenes of the business for the first time.  Perhaps more than anything else, it was the back-stage politics (and how they affect the on-screen product) made me an even bigger wrestling fan than I ever was in the ’80s.

I bring all this up because I went to Hooters tonight to watch the 2013 WWE Royal Rumble.  To be honest, I was shocked to see the placed was PACKED – a lot of cheap bastards who didn’t want to shell out 40 bucks to sit at home and watch the pay per view.  But, like a movie or any sporting event,  it’s a lot more fun to watch a show like that with a crowd than in the confines of your own basement.  There’s still something to be said about the human factor – getting out and interacting with others.

No doubt a big selling-point of this pay-per-view event was the return of The Rock.  I’ll say this for the guy: he’s done a better job of parlaying his wrestling success into a legitimate Hollywood movie career than any other wrestler ever.  Love him or hate him, the guy is to wrestling what Tiger Woods (in his prime) was to golf and what Michael Jordan was to basketball.  Simply put, The Rock gets people who don’t watch wrestling to watch wrestling.

The show unfolded about the way I expected it to.  Being one of the more unique pay-per-views the WWE puts on each year, it was definitely worth the trip and the bat tab.  I can’t say I would do this every month with every pay-per-view, but it was definitely enjoyable.

And even if the show sucks, there’s always the Hooter girls…

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