Playing Catch and Enjoying the Show

Charlie is playing with the regulation size basketball this summer. He is playing every chance he gets. We live across the street from his school where there are six hoops and two full courts on a patch of pavement where a group of neighborhood kids, the older ones, play a regular game of baseball. Charlie isn’t quite up to that game yet, but it won’t be long. It’ll be a different set of kids, different relationships, different ground rules, but essentially he will join them not too long from now. It was about three blinks ago that I was tossing gently the oversized wiffle ball underhand from a few feet away. It would hit his belly with a barely audible thud and shortly after he’d bring his hands together hoping to catch the ball that was already on the ground and rolling away from him. This morning we already tossed the softer but still relatively hard tee-ball ball for a half hour or so. Full speed, catching in gloves. That happened in the last couple weeks. Forget about hitting. I’ll never throw that boy another underhand pitch again. Haven’t for some time now.

I wasn’t much for baseball growing up. I was in fact rather anti baseball. I was a basketball player to the core. It was my first identity and one I will never fully abandon. I could go a decade without taking a shot and I’d always be a basketball player. A bit past my prime for sure. Rounder and slower. But so long as I have any control over my body I’ll be able to do something with a basketball to feel young and vibrant. It’s ingrained in me.

Teddy is not yet interested in sports. He may become an athlete and he may not. He loves his art classes and his dance class that he powered through for the entirety of the school year. Seeing him on stage with the rest fo his classmates at the recital at the end of the year was incredible. He was so nervous about it that for the weeks before everyone wondered if he’d be able to go through with it. But there he was, the ‘Tin Man’ dancing to ‘Ease on Down the Road’, hitting all his marks, even helping others. He was brave and graceful.

I so wanted to be that brave when I was little. My older brothers were in all the plays at school when I was Charlie’s age and I watched them so intently, wishing I could be up there. When they were done with their three day, four show run I’d collect the abandoned, worn scripts and read them cover to cover, over and over, reliving the story in my head for months. I loved Oklahoma so much that I went to the Seymour Library, nine years old, and would take out other Rogers and Hammerstein plays to read and imagine into existence as a production in my head. When I was of an age I was too self-conscious. I didn’t ever tryout. I wish I had his courage.

They aren’t ever going to be in strollers again. I’ve lived long enough to learn that parents are needed for a lifetime, but the need that they had before is gone. They need other things. They need someone to play catch with and casually chat about school friends and sports teams. They need a dad to take them to their dress rehearsal and talk about the music and where it came from and why its cool to be the only boy brave enough to be on the dance team. Sometimes they need a rebounder to feed them for endless shots at the playground hoop and tell them over and over how much better they are then when I was their age. Sometimes they just need me to get in the dirt and look for worms under the rocks.

On The Road Again

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Okay. It was a cruel trick to prompt your interest by using the great Willie Nelson’s song title. I have two children neither of whom can wipe their own butt yet. Both of whom are interested in doing so at the most improper times. We are not ‘on the road’ anytime soon.

You may have noticed a badge on my blog as of late (a picture, to the many people, myself included who wouldn’t have understood it to be a badge) that says ‘Original Bunker Punk’. Or something like that. It’s not here in the section I write in and I can’t be bothered to look.. Anyway, this badge is a welcome addition to my ever dwindling sense of self. A much needed boost to that portion of my brain and my person that has been neglected for the years since the kids turned up. It’s me. A newer and more up to date me. I couldn’t be prouder of that badge. I’m a bunker punk.

Now I have been called a punk precisely never. So what. One things for sure, I’m a weirdo and I’ve recently become not only comfortable with that, but also proud of it. The punks that have picked me were not looking for any credentials and I took them up on their invitation before anyone could look into my bona fide’s. I’ve come to truly love the daily support and ribaldry that membership in this syndicate has afforded me. We are a fairly talented, awfully opinionated, very supportive, hysterically funny and genuinely delusional group of auteurs and authors. So say I.

So when I was told we were going on tour I immediately started getting in tour shape. Beers for breakfast, sleeping in cars and driving from city to city selling bean burritos out of my trunk. When I sobered up in a Walmart parking lot, surrounded by various baby boomers in various recreational vehicles, I decided I should go back and try to figure out what my group leaders really meant by this. Thing is, I don’t really know. What I have determined is that they were, one at a time, posting a ‘tour piece’.  This consisted of answering a standardized set of questions. It was an interview. Well, shit, why didn’t they say so. I mean the whole reason I did this was to get attention, and now you’re asking me questions! Form questions, but still, that’s an honor in my book. I’ll take it!

Without further adieu….

1. What is your most prized possession?

My most prized posessions are all the handmade pieces of art and loveliness my parents have made for me. Any of my dissatisfaction with life that peeks through from time to time is merely temperamental, human condition stuff. My parents, like all parents, are imperfect. But they are imperfect, perfectly so. They are wonderful people who have taught me how to love life and the people that are in mine.

2. How do you unwind after a long day?

I used to drink. A lot. Probably will again someday. But the truth is engaging my brain in activities that differ from what my stress is induced by is the best way to unwind. TV is the norm. Books, particularly novels and baseball books focusing on the sports history before 1901 have been my choice of late. Mostly, when I have a minute, I write. I’m pretty much engaged in the activity all the time, in my head, so the chance to get the ideas out is wonderful.

3. What is one song that has followed you throughout your whole life?

I have not been stalked by a song, but their are a few that stick out I suppose. Blackbird, The Beatles I remember from my youth and love it still. My mother would sing Stevie Wonder, ‘You are the apple of my eye’ to me as a kid. I’ve always loved ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty. I don’t know why, but it was always a song I thought was great, even though many find it mockworthy.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would it be?

Write first with complete honesty and shamelessness then make it artful afterwards. For me writing is a way not only of understanding the world, but of getting to know myself, and unless I feel free to be as honest as I can on the first go round it’s usually not too good. At least on those pieces that are meaningful and connective. Funny can be applied to nearly any sincere piece of writing without harming that sincerity, but without the sincerity you’re just engaging in an intellectual exercise, which has it’s place, but doesn’t resonate as much as the really true stuff.

And finally, a quote from moi….

Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.

And this one from my mom…

Cash rules everything around me, cream get the money, dollar dollar bills, y’all.

Deep stuff. Powerful.

It’s ‘Award Winning’ Blogger, Thank You Very Much

Wow. I can’t believe I’m here. I’m.. it’s… just, wow!

Okay. Everyone says to write something down cause you’ll forget about someone and I so wish I wasn’t so superstitious. I mean you can’t explain it. As I stand here it’s like time is stopped completely and is hurtling forward so fast I can’t gather my thoughts. Dammit. I’m rambling.

First off I’d like to thank the bunker. Without you none of this would even be possible. Secondly, I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to just be nominated. Truly. To my fellow nominees, all of you, thank you. Your excellence has pushed me past where I ever thought my brain, or ass for that matter, could go! I’d like to thank the moms. All of em. Mine. Yours. My kids. Lord knows that men don’t read. It’s a harsh generalization, and insofar as generalizations can be, totally accurate. Thanks for reading and allowing me to be vulnerable in front of the world. And for you dads out there that have shown support, I count you amongst those moms. I’d like to thank my Intro to Web Logging Professor, Punk Rock Poppa, AKA Briton, for nominating me. Your words inspire and your youth confounds and occasionally infuriates, but your wisdom abides. Thanks to Developing Mom, with out whom I’d never have found this outlet. Thanks most to Al Gore for creating this platform that has allowed one small man’s voice to ring out through the world and to be heard by literally dozen’s if not scores of mildly amused fellow scribes. Hat’s off to you sir.

I have been given the Inspirational blogger award. I was nominated by Briton Underwood, the Punk Rock Poppa. I start often with a joke, and the above paragraphs tone is an unfunny man’s attempt at humor. But sincerely, I really am touched that he thought to nominate me. I’m actually truly honored. Further, I’m grateful that he found a blog piece of mine amusing and took the time to investigate more and make me a part of his little corner of the web. A corner rich in community and soaring with talent and truly funny people. Thank you, all!

Without further adieu, I move on to the interview portion of this program…

1. Why did you start blogging?

Because I’d been writing my whole life and harbored a deep seeded fear and desire that my work should be read. I have countless boxes of notebooks filled with my tiny scrawlings documenting my emotional journey through life. Dozens of attempts at fiction writing, novels and short stories started and abandoned. Journals and journals of genuinely thoughtful observations buried in pitiable accounts of petty rage and self loathing. Writings how I understand myself, the world and how the two exist in relation to one another. Having kids made me realize I wanted to open a lot of that up to public view. Blogging was the easiest way to do that.

2. What is the book you have read that has touched you the most?

I haven’t read much since the kids. My brain is half of what it used to be and their just isn’t enough space. But I was a copious reader before then. The titles that have most resonated are A Prayer for Owen Meaney, The Poisonwood Bible, Rule of the Bone and Rushmore. I know the last ones a movie, but it’s the type of movie that plays like a book and is very much tonally what I’d love to be able to do.

3. If you could eat dinner with a famous person who is still living, whom would you choose?

The truth of this one is probably Tony Kornheiser and the entirety of the crew of folks that populate his radio show. I know it’s silly, but I truly love being a fan of this show. Thank god for Podcasting. The list would be much longer and filled with many more fascinating minds if the question were who’s wall would I like to be a fly on. Frankly, a lot of my fellow bloggers seem to lead lives and have families that I’d like to see functioning without having the effect of me being in the group. I suppose that sense of being inside but not present is also a part of why I enjoy films and books so much. Hm… interesting…

4. Where is the one place you have visited that gives you complete calmness?

Two places. One, lying flat on my back and watching the planes come in every two minutes miles overhead in the meadow in Prospect Park. Two, A trail we hiked on a whim off the side of the road between the village of Lake Placid and Whiteface Mt. in the Adirondacks that brought us to a spectacular untouched, crystal clear mountain lake. It’s breathtaking…

5. Are you a bucket list person? If so, name one thing on it?

I’m not. But I’d love to write a novel. Also, I’d like to be able to make a living by writing. So far I’ve made nothing and it’s cost me quite a bit, but a boy can dream.

6. What is the goal of your blog?

A goal sounds like a thing that should drive you, but I’m really more of a process person. I guess if I were to impose a goal onto the blog it would be to provide an account of this time of life for myself and for those who may be curious, my son’s and family mostly, that helps inform the photo’s they have in the future and the ones that were never taken or have gone missing.

7. What is a well day spent to you?

It is a question that just reads terribly. It should say, ‘What is a day well spent in your opinion?’ All of them are well spent. The good the bad. The full of optimism and the ones where tears of rage and frustration gush forth and spew uncontrollably. We’re all going to die. Each of these days, even the most painful are well spent. That or catching a baseball game in the sun.Or reading. A day of reading would be great right about now.

8. How do you start your day?

Groggily. I’m over the hill with little kids. It’s all a bit bleary for a good few minutes. I’m usually awoken by the older boy yelling from his bed, ‘MOMMY!’ repeatedly. As she is usually downstairs with lil man I head in and deal with his frustration over the fact that I’m not mommy. Then we head downstairs and drink coffee by the bucket. I am not a healthy man.

9. What is your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. No doubt. Not a thing is even close. Four days off just to eat and drink and visit. It’s just great. Also, any holiday that forces one to stop and note their gratitude is pretty cool.

10. Are you where you want to be professionally and if not, what will you do about it?

No. Probably just keep plugging away, slow and steady. I’d like to find ways to supplement my income. We’ll see. The work I did, and loved, and committed my life to prior to having kids, is not really possible anymore, so I’m curious myself to see what will happen.

11. What is your favorite quote?

“J. Walter Weatherman? He’s dead. You killed him when you left the window open with the air conditioning on.” George Bluth

“I got news for you, Bub. Alcohols the reason you’re here, too.” Lucille Bluth

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln

“If you want to increase your rate of success, double your rate of failure.” Thomas Watson

This concludes my interview. And before I move on to nominating five more bloggers, I’d like to say once again how thrilled I was to get this award. Sincerely.

Now, without further adieu I’d like to nominate Sippy Cups and Booze, thanks for speakin up for the fellas! Next Life No Kids cracks me up daily. Be sure to follow on FB as well! On to Mommies Drink, thank you for your insight! Nominating Juicebox Confessions is a bit absurd, akin to me trying to punch up jokes for Louis C.K., but she is the writer I hope to be someday, so ignore this if you like, just wanted to give the shout out… Finally, I nominate It’s a Mad Dad World… I dig his outlook..

Finally, thanks to Charlie and Teddy who’ve made me a dad.. They are my richest source of learning and a delightful reason to get up every painful morning. WAY too early1