The One Picked On

Once upon a time, so many years ago it’s sometimes easier to forget than it is to remember.  There was a boy.  For the purpose of this story, I’ll call him… me.

I was early in the Air Force, and, as has been the truth with so many parts of my life, I did not fit in.  While the other maintenance guys were part of their personal ‘club’ I was not.  So when it came time for any ‘extra’ job, I was the one who was picked.  “Ice!”  They’d say “We need someone to work nights!” so I did.  And I’d go to school while the rest of the guys had their parties.

When an opening came up for the “End of the Runway” job, it was considered a “nonner” because the people who did that work weren’t actually maintenance guys, they did ‘non maintenance work” and with their buddy system, picking a ‘volunteer’ to go to the end of the runway position was easy.  It was also very easy to feel unwanted, because that’s generally what an outcast is.

So I was outcast to the End of the Runway, and while I went to college, I had to work this job that, on a bad day, lasted about six hours.  That’s six fewer hours than I was used to working as a maintenance guy.  I honestly didn’t mind being at the end of the runway.  But after a year of that schedule they needed another ‘volunteer’ to go work in an inspection support office.  As you can imagine, they knew exactly who to pick… and once again I was picked on.

I worked this job that was not pushing a jet, as I had done before, now it was pushing a desk.  There was a lot of time at work to do home work from school, but by this time I already had my Bachelors and Associates degree.  Education came easy in the Air Force.  I worked as a Safety guy, as assistant to the assistant of the Safety guy.  So whenever an unsavory job came up.  They had someone already picked for that.

When the weekend safety briefings had to be given, I was picked for that too.  I recall very specifically one day, while speaking in front of these work acquaintances of mine, I realized that there were probably twenty people there, and like the pop of a seal I realized I could speak to large groups without getting nervous.

There was a weekly meeting with several of the commanders on the base where they talked about hazardous waste, and safety projects.  I was picked to attend.  At the meeting they were looking for someone to lead projects about safety and hazardous waste removal across the base.  Though I was still just a kid… I was picked to do this.  And when they had a hazardous waste conference … I, like a terrible person, forgot to tell the other two safety guys about it.  Being the only face the commanders knew for the Safety program in that section, I was picked to attend.  When they were looking for someone with some accomplishments to parade, I was picked for that too.

Now, I think back, as I’m picked on for another national level, high budget, special project and I wonder, only briefly, what ever happened to those who never were picked on.

 

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Deep Thoughts at 2am

The first night you stay up until 2am, you might find that your thoughts change, whatever type of person you are when fully rested and awake doesn’t apply to this time so deep beyond the witching hour.

With a modern literal meaning of “midnight,” the term witching hourrefers to the time of night when creatures such as witches, demons, and ghosts are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful and black magic to be most effective.  Witching hour – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The first night, you feel a sense of power, “hey look at me!” your mind whispers “I’m a grown up and don’t have to make good decisions if I don’t want to!”

The second night, “What’s wrong with me?!”  is the thought that echoes in your mind… and dances a merry jig along with plans for tomorrow.  This is perhaps a negotiation phase “I’ll just take a nap tomorrow” or “Perhaps if I skip working out…”  and pure denial “I’ll go to bed early tomorrow night.

The third night “Look… I’m almost productive” though more accurately it looks like this “look i”m almst productve” and it’s arguable that after such a long sweet sip from the sleep deprivation bucket, you begin to taste the dregs.

The third night (okay, fourth night but I’m trying to prove a clever point) you might find yourself posting on your blog about deep thoughts at 2am… there’s a monster at the end of this book.

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Poems in the Night

We can blame it on the pillow, or blame it on my plight, perhaps a curse for days gone by that sends the poems in the night.

Across the tides of midnight,
I sail the lonely sea,
Across the shadows of the dark,
my sanity is free,
it whispers from the distant past,
and tells me that it’s gone,
it whimpers through the silent house,
and sings a pleasing song,
I grasp for it and like a shade,
I feel it slip away,
I strain to find it here at last,
and see the light of day,
then bask inside the ‘here and now’
… this is a better way,
I sail the lonely sea of night,
and fear that dawn will come,
Imagining this long lost fight,
then fear I will succumb,
We wander through the lonely sea,
so still our mind grows numb,
we wonder what the present holds,
but know the night’s for some.

Some nights, when all the house is sleeping, I lay in my bed, and hear words that rhyme, and I wonder, is it a curse, or a blessing?  But sometimes they won’t let me sleep.

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Poetry of the Night

The soft sound of children laughing echoes through the halls, and I can’t help but smile, when the little footsteps fall.

“I can’t rhyme!” I cried to the girls, in mock anxiety, “It always comes out wrong!”

I’ll show you:

“The moon in the sky, it makes me … tell fibs!”

Giggling erupts.

“I told the joke to the giraffe,

He couldn’t help but … giggle!”

“NO DADDY! He Laughed!”

“It was my knee,

I hit on the … big branch”

“TREE!!!”

“I have so much love,

up here far … higher, than I was a moment before.”

To which they laugh, and laugh, until their words don’t even make sense.  It’s become a nightly routine.  But there’s no joy to share like the love I find … with them.

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That Little Voice…

You’ve heard it whisper, the same as I have, that little voice that says “You cannot.”

It was there, that little voice, the first time I went to do a pushup after several years away, “you cannot” it said, telling me that it had been too long and my body had atrophied.

It had not, the voice was wrong.

It was there in college, telling me that though I was doing well in class, I would fail the test.

It was wrong, that little voice.

It was there when I asked her out, telling me that she was far too pretty for the likes of me.

I was surprised, so was the little voice.

once upon a time, ‘you won’t get the job, don’t even interview.’

but I did it anyway, and did.

“You’ll never lose that weight” it speaks to me… but then, I eat right, count my calories, exercise, and I do.

This little voice seems to never go away, but I’ve noticed that the longer I’ve let it speak to me the harder it is to change back to where you were.  Despite proving to myself for years that I can do a pull-up, or two. Every time I approach the bar, the voice whispers “you can’t do those.” despite doing it, and doing it.  There’s a nearly physical barrier that says “I can’t.” and you know what?  I do.

(It’s a voice that attacks us all, but I can, and you can too.  Ignore that little voice.)

 

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Danger, Don’t Swim

As I’ve mentioned before, I have nightly discussions with the children before I send them to bed, each child needs those quiet five minutes with just the two of us to discuss the great mysteries of life.  Sometimes we talk about school, sometimes we talk about work, sometimes we talk about video games… but tonight we talked about porn.

Okay, we didn’t talk SPECIFICALLY about pornography, it was mentioned.  What we talked about were “The Commandments”

Before family prayers we dove into deep thoughts discussing the spiritual topic of “Why do we have commandments?” and to that question we had many answers:

  • “To help us get to Heaven!”
  • “So we don’t do bad things!”
  • “I don’t know!”
  • “… To Keep us Safe?”

I shared with the children “We have a commandment in this home…  you are all commanded not to put your head in the oven when it’s on.  We don’t talk about this commandment a lot because I don’t need to, but it IS a commandment of mine.  Why do we have this commandment?” To which they replied:

  • “To Keep us safe!”
  • “Because you Love us!!!”
  • “Because it would smell terrible!” (yes, much laughter)

So with this ground work, I spoke to my son before he went to bed about commandments and porn.

“There are those who see the signs that the Lord puts up to keep us safe.  Prophets who can see the sign ‘Don’t swim, there are Crocodiles here!’ and they say ‘hey guys, you shouldn’t swim here.’ and people say ‘whatever, we’ll swim where we want!’ and ‘Don’t tell me what to do!'”

Warning-Signs-Crocodile“But why are we given commandments?  Is it the kinds of sign you’d ignore??  There will be people who do it, and you’re getting closer to the age where a lot of people will be doing it.  Most everyone will do it, they’ll even make fun of you for not doing it… because if everyone does it then it is ‘normal'” To this my son laughed and said “If that’s normal I do NOT want to be normal!”

“Exactly…”  Exactly.

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A Few Things to Say

There are a few choice things that must be said…

  • You’re amazing,
  • You’re smart,
  • You’re wonderful,
  • You’re thoughtful,
  • You’re helpful,
  • You’re the light that takes the darkness from the sky,
  • You’re one of a kind,
  • You’re the inspiration behind every dream and the reason people wake up.

It has to be said, because you’re a special kind of awesome that makes every day brighter, even if you don’t know it… and whoever you are, you need to be told.

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Knock on Wood

There are things you shouldn’t say, thinks you shouldn’t talk about, write about, or even think about… because once you do, once you travel down that plane of thought, it’s already too late.  And that’s how it all began.

The other day I was driving with my son, a blessing to have him alone on one of the weekends where all the children were at their Mother’s.  We talked about driving, we talked about when I was young and what I learned from my first several driving mishaps, hoping to share the gift of experience so he wouldn’t have to enjoy the same roadside mishaps.

“It’s been many many years since that’s happened to me.” I mentioned about being stranded on the side of the road.

The weekend wore on, and we played with the idea of replacing our 16 year old Van, as it has begun to see more problems with every passing day.  Then the morning came.  I drove to pick up the children from their Mother’s, the car’s typical problems singing to us as we drove, and I contemplated the time that Van and I had shared together, thinking that perhaps it’s not as bad as I thought.  Perhaps with a little love I could evade the expense of replacing it.

Once I picked up the children, we drove straight to Church.  Or that was the plan.  On the freeway I looked at the fuel gauge, and at the same time I thought “Hey wait, it’s been at 1/3rd of a tank for the last hour.”  I felt the car suddenly lose power.  My thoughts attacked in succession:

  • Pushing the pedal isn’t helping move us forward
  • The engine isn’t responding
  • I gotta get off the freeway
  • Hazard lights
  • This guy’s an idiot (someone who came off the freeway just behind me and tried to cut me off by passing between me and the side of the road.)
  • I can at least get off the off ramp
  • Perhaps I can coast over the hill for these rail road tracks…
  • This isn’t going to work.
  • uh oh

There’s something to be said for not being alone, and thankfully I had discussed a lot about driving with my son this weekend, so when I had him sit in the driver’s seat he had a hint and a clue on what to do while I pushed the back.  I imagine a picture from the side, this oversized mini-van, because it felt oversized, being pushed by me, white long sleeve shirt, dress pants, shoes never meant for that kind of traction, and a tie flailing like some kind of broken super hero.  From within the sanctity of my ego I imagine it looked very heroic, but from the passing cars I suspect it looked a little more desperate, before I built up more than a walking momentum up this hill I had a large man to my right and another to my left helping tread the way forward.

As we crossed the rail road tracks I thought “this is a nightmare waiting to happen.” coming down the other side I mentally willed my boy to know what he was doing, and opening the back and calling him to pull off to the side we escaped traffic with a quick thanks to the faceless heroes who sprinted back to their rides.  Feeling fortunate for the aid, and grateful to be within 300 yards of a gas station that had a gas tank I could buy which helped me limp get filled up without much more shoving on my part.

As I parked the car in the safety of the garage, racing to wash the gas that spilled off I heard the van whisper “looks like it’s my time to go.”  And I think it’s right.

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Out With the Old, In With the Same Old

I remember when 2014 left, I couldn’t wait to see it go, but now that 2015 is leaving… it’s kind of a dull ache and I hope that 2016 has more in store, but I’m not sure I have a lot of hope for it.

The well is dried up.  For years I’ve been pulling from it saying “That year stunk, but next year will be better.”  Now I think I’m resigned to the idea that this year isn’t going to be that much better… but I’ll do my best.    The night is lonely … still, and nothing comes easy.  I had a recurring dream once, where I’d run with all my might, and pass through the jello like world all around me, getting no where.  Now with my eyes open I run with all my might, and get no where at the speed of sound.

Here are some highlights of the past year:

2015

Hawaii – honestly Hawaii is amazing, loved it and think it’s a great place to go back to, honestly makes planning any other destination difficult because in the end I ask the question “Wouldn’t you rather just go back to Hawaii?”

Work… I work entirely virtually now, meaning I don’t have to see people… ever.  Which is pleasant, I have the best conversations with myself around the water cooler.

Kids – They’ve hit some major milestones… turning eight, turning twelve, and turning fourteen… it’s been bittersweet.  They’re straight A students and I like to think I play a pretty significant part when all four can achieve such a phenomenal achievement together.

Disneyland – I had an annual pass, and I used it, and used it, and used it.  I learned a lot about myself through that annual pass, and a lot about Disneyland.

Now some highlights for the upcoming year:

2016

Debt – Unless something terrible happens, I’ll be debt free early into 2016.  This is a big step moving forward and enables me a kind of freedom I hadn’t honestly expected for years.

Vacation – I’m going to attempt to take the kids for another massive summer vacation, and it’s not Hawaii, but I have asked the kids a few times if they were sure they didn’t want to just go to Hawaii.

Car – I’m going to sell one of my cars and buy a car that goes faster.  This gives me something to look forward to.

Kids – Oldest boy goes into High School this year… I’m not sure if this is something I’m looking forward to or not, but it provides opportunities to see things differently, and in some ways I’m hungry for a change.

Who Knows – There’s that element of ‘who knows’

What do you have that you’re looking forward to in 2016?

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Bad Luck Ladder

How does one capture luck?  Can you capture good luck, or bad luck?  I love the questions the children ask, because I love the places such questions take us to, with a lot of giggling in between.

We’ve been doing some things around the house that require a ladder to be setup, close to bedtime my daughter said “What would happen if I walked under the ladder?”  and followed up very quickly with her real question “Why is it bad luck to go under a ladder?”

My second boy quickly replied “Because it is!” which isn’t my answer, pretty much ever.

And so my answer began:

“What if the Ladder fell on you?  That wouldn’t be very lucky would it?  We sometimes make our own luck, and sometimes if what we’re doing allows something bad to happen we make bad luck.  Bad luck is just another way of saying that you put yourself in danger, or did something Stupid.” (Pronounced Stoooooooewpid)

“How can we make bad luck?” I continued and had a flurry of answers from “Russian Roulette!” to “Running on Ice!” each time talking about how we introduce the bad luck into our lives.  The laughing discussion ended with a video (on mute):  Can you see where they may be responsible for their own luck? There was one video we watched with kids jumping off a truck into a stop sign… one had bad luck and broke his nose.

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