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    Jun 16, 2011

    Oh What a Night...

    Things just got crazy, like they only can in CA...

         It started out as a great escape and turned into quite the adventure.  A friend offered me an extra ticket to tonight's A's game against Kansas City.  I had difficulty gassing up the car, first having trouble with a pump that wouldn't accept my card, then falling back on a plan B when my card was recognized but still declined.  I was the last of my party to arrive at the ballpark, but we didn't miss any of the game.  There was ease in the conversation, quick fired movie references, and general merriment to be had by all.  The home team won, much to our delight (and surprise), and as we parted separate ways for the trip home, I was last of our party to board the BART train toward our various destinations.
         The crowded BART train was full of exuberant and tired A's fans. My car in particular held several college age kids eager to make their way to an after party. As with every other after-game train, it was standing room only. One of the more athletic college fellas was making efforts to show off, speaking loudly to his friends, and purportedly hanging upside down on the bars at one point. At the exact point of craziness, however, the young man stood on his own two feet without any hold on a handrail or bench seat. The train slowed abruptly, as they often do, and our young college fella, facing the back of the train, flew forward, landing on his back and sliding up against the doors. In a failed effort to prevent his fall, he reached for the handrail above. The unfortunate result was his wristwatch connecting perfectly with the scalp of an unsuspecting seated passenger.
         Initially very put off, the young woman grimaced and griped under her breath as her previously napping mother jumped to her feet and began to berate the young man. Within moments, a trickle of blood from the initial contact widened into a steady stream as the wounded woman's temper increased her heart rate. Anger quickly turned to panic, causing over-reaction and tears in both mother and daughter. Simultaneously, a few different things began to transpire: several passengers cleared away from that end of the train in efforts to avoid being caught up in the chaos, another man felt the urge to intervene, and some onlookers (myself included) tried in vain to subdue the rising drama, but successfully offered beneficial triage advice to the bewildered mother. 
         The well intentioned hero (as I am sure he will make himself out to be later when retelling his side of things), otherwise a complete stranger to all parties involved, grabbed college fella by his shirt and shoved him against the closed doors to the connecting car. (This brought a small amount of vocalized disagreement to the man's actions, but they went unnoticed.) I suppose he thought he was preventing this young delinquent from causing further harm, but the young man was equally as surprised by this assault as he was by his initial fall and its unpleasant result. After feeling confident he had subdued the young man, the "hero" muscled the boy off the train, dragging the young man by the collar of his shirt. 
         At some point after the young man was forcibly removed, and the rest of his party followed him off, the mother of the victim finally calmed enough to ask what had happened, or if anyone knew what this boy did to her daughter.  I spoke up, explaining the whole thing was a huge accident, and that no malicious intent existed.  Though this seemed to calm her a bit, both mother and daughter continued to rebuff any efforts of apology from any member of the college group, including the unintentional attacker and other male friends.  Rebuff doesn't quite explain their reaction.  Both mother and daughter flawlessly executed formidable stink-eye and practically hissed at the plaintive young men demanding the young men keep their distance. 
         Ultimately, the decision was made by BART employees to call in a paramedic.  Due to the delay this created for the train schedule, everyone not injured, or related to the injured party, was ordered to disembark and put on another train on an adjacent rail.  As I entered the other train, I overheard a woman on the phone sharing the story "as she heard it."  Bear in mind no more than 20 minutes has passed from initial injury to the change of trains.  In this new version of the story (remember the elementary game of telephone??), not only was the college age kid being disruptive, but he was extremely acrobatic — performing flips, hanging upside down, and cartwheeling down the aisle.  The cause of the injury was "some over sized bulky designer" wristwatch.  This, friends, is how rumors get started...
         Finally off the train and in my car, I make it over the altamont pass and begin looking for a gas station.  No sooner do I overshoot an exit and spot a gas station at said exit than I run out of gas on the highway, stalling out on an uphill incline.  I can see the next exit no more than one half mile up the road, but cannot manage to push my car up this hill, making it only 30 feet or so before having to rest and reattempt.  Fortunately I have roadside through my cellular provider (weird, right?), a service which apparently includes a gallon or two of free gasoline to allow me to reach a gas station. 
    I am home and no worse for the wear, but certainly lived through more experiences than I expected this evening.

    Jan 21, 2011

    A Letter

    My dearest daughter,

         I wanted to sit down and explain things to you, only you aren't yet ready to hear them.  It is my hope that at some point in time, a day too soon by my count and too far away by yours, you might read this or be able to hear these thoughts from me directly. 
         I have had time recently to examine where I have been, and where I am now.  None of this developed into where I thought I would be.  More often than not, opportunity has slipped through my fingers.  It did not pass be my, nor have I been unfortunate.  I made choices, sometimes by not choosing, that have led me to this very letter. 

         I have fallen for a few in my time.  When I fell, I fell hard.  When you fall, and fall you will, no one comes close to comparing to the object of your affection.  You find beauty in the trivial, and everything you think about will relate or gravitate toward that one person.  You fantasize and plan how a mutual future could develop.  You hope they feel the same way.  You try to pick up the nerve to share these feelings. 

         In any case, I was shy and insecure.  More than once, what I felt for her, she felt for me, but neither of us were brave enough to admit it.  We were very close for a time, but in time we grew apart.  A physical distance came between us, but moreover an intangible distance is what grew.  We lost touch with each other.  Time moved on.  Reconnecting after a time, it was as if no time had passed at all.  Yet again, that time passed all too soon with nothing said.  In reconnecting with each of them now, we talk about days gone by and admit to feelings unrequited, only to discover what could have been.  We catch up on where life has taken us, and talk about our respective spouses and children. 

         I know your home life was the unfortunately common situation for our times.  I am very sorry you grew up with an understanding that was the way of things.  It was not the way I grew up; it was not my hope nor plan for you.  Perhaps that relationship was doomed from the start.  In retrospect the signs were very clear that the road ahead would be very hard to travel, all of which I ignored. 

         Please do not misunderstand me here.  I have spent my share of time wondering "what if?"  I consider what I would have done differently; what I would have said (or not), choices I would have changed, directions I would have gone.  Maybe I would be happier, but the game of "what if?" relies on fantasy since I can no more extrapolate where that path would lead than I was able to determine where the one I am on has taken me so far.  Ultimately, in playing out every scenario, I reach the same conclusion.  I couldn't have it any other way.

         You probably wonder why I tell you this.  This is not a pity party.  Life presents you with choices, and they are yours to make.  You will have to live with every one of them.  I am not saying, "learn from my mistakes."  You will learn from your own, and continue to make them until you do.  That is how life works.  I am telling you to make choices; to act on your feelings and convictions.  I am also telling you that no matter what, some of the best things in your life will come from decisions you think you might regret.  You see, I fell for you hardest of all.  I have loved you in a way I never expected I could.  In any other scenario, you would not be exactly who you are, nor who you are becoming; my daughter in who I am most proud. 


    Jan 6, 2011

    That's My Girl!

    Let me set up the scene. The open kitchen consists of 2 walls (on shared with the living room) with counters/appliances on both walls. The dining area is an extension off the kitchen, and is separated from the living room by only a couch, and change in flooring. The living room TV is on the same side of the house as the dining area, and is on for viewing during most meals. Given that layout, here is what happened...

    Six Days, Seven Nights was on the FX channel during dinner. My 9 year old daughter spotted David Schwimmer on the screen. I was not yet at the table, and overheard her mini-IMDB discertation. She began explaining to my folks that "that's the guy" who played Ross on Friends, and was also the voice of the Giraffe in the Madagascar. This led to her mentioning she knew the voice of the Lion was the fella from the Night at the Museum movies, but couldn't remember his name. She also thought Eddie Murphy was the voice of the zebra. (I corrected her there, having arrived at the table.) Both of my parents were stifling a chuckle and muttering something like "She's definitely his child." I couldn't be more proud in that moment. Awesomeness redefined.

    Dec 25, 2010

    Hard not to Humbug

         Saying this holiday season has been a rough one is an understatement.  We've been hit by one thing after another these last few months.  Personally, I remain unemployed and without unemployment insurance (twice appealed and denied).  My folks have spent their bottom dollar renovating the rental home so new tenants could move in, so things have been tight for them as well.  In the last three months we have had appliance trouble—first replacing the washer's sensor lever, followed by replacing the heating element for the dryer.  What seemed to be the last straw came on Christmas Eve when the oven died in the middle of baking two pies.  How on Earth would be prepare a meal the next day? 

         If ever a time existed when we had to put into practice the rhetoric of "true holiday spirit", this has definitely been it.  We have our health; we have each other.  In everything we've struggled through, we've done it as a family.  The kids got a fewer gifts, but more thought went into what was purchased.  Watching their excitement as they unwrapped their treasures warmed hearts and brought smiles. 

         Thankfully, with the help and generosity of a nearby friend, we were able to bake what needed baking. The bird and the pig were given the barbeque treatment Christmas morning, and the entire meal was warmed a-la-leftovers one plate at a time.  Bellies filled and gifts opened, we count ourselves fortunate for what we do have, not for what we might be missing out on.  My kids are preparing to spend the remainder of the holiday with their mom.  While tough on all three of us, I'm greatful to have had time with them this week and look forward to spending New Year's Eve with them as well.

    Dec 4, 2010


    The economy is going down the tubes, finances are lean at best, and unemployment is on the rise (including yours truly). Tis the season of giving, but if you're in the same sinking boat I'm in, what can you give?

    Give of yourself. Give love. Sure it sounds hallmark card cheesy and The Beatles are already playing on your mental jukebox ("...all you need is love, love, love is all you need"), but what more valuable thong can you give those around you? I don't have anything to shop with; hardly anything to put under the tree. What my children really need from their father is love, values, and a strong example to follow. It is in times like this they will learn to value, and it is my job to help shape WHAT they value.

    This year may not be the most bountiful, but it will not be bleak.

    Nov 18, 2010


    How many times will I visit a place, only to imagine a different scenario in which I'd rather be there?  How long will I continue to see visions of an imaginary future based upon an alternate history to a lackluster present?

    It relly isn't that I am unappreciative of what I do have, only that I want more for my children and myself.  There are miles of road - spans of timezones - between content and happy.

    Oct 24, 2010


    In a time of reflection, I ponder the human condition and our feeling of connection to things, people, and places we have had no contact with.  I am dumbfounded at our ability to feel and connect with persons and situations we know nothing about. 

    Getting to the point, a man I can barely categorize as an acquaintance passed away earlier today.  I knew of him, though I'm not sure we had direct contact or interaction.  We shared an interest and membership in a small online community.  His death was extremely sudden, and by no means expected.  I shed tears for his daughter and his closest companion.  All of 10 years older than I, he never saw it coming. 

    How is it we feel such loss when something like this carries no bearing on our own lives?  I don't understand it, but I'm not sure I would rather be the opposite of whatever this is I am feeling.