Thursday, May 7, 2015

uncle bob.

My Uncle Bob passed away last night.  It was unexpected.

When an 80 year old man passes away unexpectedly, it means he was living well.  When friends and family are shocked that complications removing cancerous tumors took his life, that means the man is viewed as bullet-proof.  This is a good thing.  This means the man lived young.

If you have ever met Bob Blevins, then you know, one: He was virtually bullet-proof.  And, two: 80??  Yes, 80 years old.  I know.

I don't want this to come off the wrong way to my relatives, but I viewed Uncle Bob as my Godfather-in-law.  I actually had to ask my mom if he had inherited me as a Godson...wasn't sure how that worked.  My actual Godfather is Jerry Russell, my Aunt Joan's (mom's sister) first husband.  He died of cancer shortly after I was born.  Several years later Aunt Joan married Uncle Bob.  Joan and Jerry had two kids, Kathy and Robert--both of whom I feel I am very close to, at least at some point in our lives.  Joan and Bob then had two kiddos of their own, Michael and Carrie--same thing, very close.  Those are my four Russell-Blevins cousins, and I love them all to death.  Uncle Jerry and I were never able to spend much time together, at least in my memory--so Uncle Bob is really the only uncle I've ever known from that side of the family.

So there's your background.  There's your view of our tree.

This ramble isn't to receive "Sorry for your loss" or "You and your family are in our prayers" comments on the Facebook or texts or what have you.  That's nice, but that's not why I'm writing this.  I am writing this because my Uncle Bob was incredible.

As an "old" dad myself, I've recently viewed Bob as a bit of role model.  There was never a time when he wouldn't take us out in the yard and knock fly balls to us.  Tirelessly, he would entertain me, Robert, Mike, and whatever friends happened to be by.  Fly ball after fly ball.  Tired of shagging baseballs?  Let's play some horseshoes.  Touch football...tackle football!  Let's get in the pool.  Hey, the Cardinals are on!  Let's watch the game.

Uncommon Bob's.  Yes, yes.  That is what we call my uncle's special marinade that he used when grilling.  Pork butt, pork shoulder, ribs, brisket.  If anyone reading this was lucky enough to attend mine and April's rehearsal dinner in Lyons, Colorado, then you sampled some of Uncle Bob's grilled meats.  He was manning the Weber Texas Ranch Kettle stacked with pork and beef.  I'm cooking some tomorrow.  I suppose it will be in his memory, but I was going to anyway.  That's how good it is.  Him and I will chat tomorrow while the smoke is rolling.

Uncle Bob was fun.  I rarely saw him in a sour mood.  That means he appreciated things.  His kids.  His grandkids.  His wife.  But what you need to know about my Uncle Bob, whether you knew him, or this is just some ramble about a guy you've never heard of, is that he was the most selfless man I knew.  My uncle would drive thousands of miles to help you...and he did.  You were in a jam?  A bind?  Hard times?  Don't think twice, Bob will do what he can to help.  Bob didn't have a ton of money.  Didn't matter, he'd do what he could to help out a friend or a loved one...and he did.  As far as being a good human being goes, it doesn't get much better than my Aunt Joan and Uncle Bob.

This just isn't hearsay, it's the damn truth.  I'm not just saying that Bob seemed like a good guy, so he would probably do this sort of thing.  He did.  He helped more people than you know or I know.  And he did it all under the radar.  No accolades, no drama, no pats on the back.  Just pure, honest selflessness.  That, friends, is a legacy.

So it's onward and upward.  I don't care if you are a religious sort or not, Bob Blevins is in Heaven.  Doesn't matter if you're Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or some other belief.  I even question my beliefs at times.  But I don't question that Uncle Bob is in Heaven.  This is a man that God is already considering giving a promotion.








Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Acquisitions and Soap Box.

First off, I got some new stuff.

While Ruby and I were checking out a local flea market, I ran across a stack of old iron-ons from the 70s.  You remember, the kind you would get at K-Mart and your mom would iron them on (hence the name) a crisp, new white Fruit of the Loom t-shirt for you.  They generally had pictures of cars, super-heroes, warlocks and/or wizards, or some other cool 70s image.

Well, I bought one.  It wasn't cheap at $10, but too damn cool to pass up.  I'm pretty confident I got the coolest one.  A couple days later I bought a cheap t-shirt at Target, and presto--coolest shirt on earth.

If it were only a mesh half-shirt...

Then, a couple days ago while the fam and I were walking around the block, we ran into some random crap in someone's yard with a "free" sign on it all.  A little BBQ smoker caught my eye.  But man, I've already got three grills.

We returned home and April encouraged me to go pick it up if it was still there.  I jumped in the truck and went back to the yard of junk.  Everything was still sitting in their yard, so I grabbed the smoker.  Damn thing had to weigh 60lbs.  There was a little metal table too, all rusted out crunchy--but kinda cool--so I grabbed that too.

I spent an hour or so that evening cleaning them up, putting a fresh coat of paint on them, and giving them some new life.

The 'after' pic.

A little rickety and rusty.

A crescent wrench makeover, new high-heat paint job, and a little varnish.
My fire pit shot craps, so a perfect night for a test drive.  Next up: meat.


*Now, not to be dramatic, but I'm angry about something and I'm going to use profanity to express my frustrations.  If you are worried that this outburst might change your saintly image of me, then you might want to skip this part.*


Apparently there is a fashion company called Dolce & Gabbana.  My wife thinks I'm an imbecile for not knowing of them.  In truth, I'm kind of proud of myself for not knowing.  This is not why I'm angry, though.

The owners of this company made public comments saying that in vitro fertilization create "children of chemistry" and the children are "synthetic".

I don't care about who these people are.  What bothers me is that people actually feel this way.  And I'm assuming the majority of folks who feel this way do not or have not had any trouble conceiving children.  When I hear comments like this made, it feels like a direct insult to me, my wife, and my beautiful, innocent 8 month-old daughter--who was conceived via IVF.

I guess Elton John got mad and retorted in some matter.  Good.  But I still really don't care about that either.  What I care about is people with an ancient, archaic way of thinking, expressing their unjustified opinions.  I understand that you have the right to have an opinion, just like me.  But think about all the people you are directly insulting with your beliefs.  You're attacking good people who believe in family.  Not to mention the innocent, happy children you are belittling. 

I don't care if you have religious beliefs that you think justify your opinions.  If you do, I feel sorry for you.  I don't want to be a part of any god that shuns life and love.

There is nothing synthetic about my baby.  There is nothing chemical about my baby.  The only thing you need to know about my baby is that she is happy, healthy, and fucking amazing.  I'm pretty sure that God (or whomever) likes her, too.

Stop caring about this shit.  Stop it with your anti-IVF, your anti-gay, your anti-non-traditional family, your anti-black, your anti-Jew.  Just fucking stop.  No god that I know is with you on any of this, so why care about it?  It's just people, love, life, and family.  There's nothing bad about it.  So shut up.

Thank you April.  I love you.

Picture of a synthetic, chemical baby that should not have been brought into this world.


...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Have a Swell Life.

Whilst completing my fatherly duties this morning, consisting of laundry, vacuuming, dishes, painting a table, making breakfast, and keeping my daughter alive, I found myself appreciative for my swell life.  And that lead to this:

Earl's tips for living a swell life.

This is not preachy, nor pretentious.  It's just a handful of things I've learned during my tenure in this life.  They aren't the usual "dance like no one is watching you" or some other Ellen-type shit.  Just things I've learned.  Take 'em or leave 'em.

In no particular order...

Number One:  Keep Trying.  (As with all of these "things", I'll certainly elaborate when necessary).  Keep trying basically means that you're not going to succeed with everything you do.  And if, by chance, you do, I'm doubting that you got it right on the first try.  This might sound pretty Sesame Street, so let me offer an example...

Full disclosure: I've always dreamt of starting my own business and working for myself.  And if you know me, then you know that I have a ton of outstanding ideas, but am challenged when it comes to implementing these ideas...putting them in motion.  But I keep trying.  I take what I believe to be the proper steps in achieving this plan.  I reevaluate things when I run into a roadblock.  I study, I step back, I plan, and I continue to dream.  And during this entire process, which I will succeed in doing--at least in some capacity, I have pride in knowing that I keep trying.


Number Two:  Be Appreciative.  Grateful, thankful, humble, don't take things for granted...however you want to spin it.  When nice things happen, acknowledge them and be appreciative.  Some folks don't have a lot of good things happen for them, for whatever reason, so those of us that do have good fortune need to be grateful.  I don't care who or what you're grateful to--that's a whole other conversation--just be grateful.


Number Three:  Balance.  If you're going to drink, smoke, and/or eat like shit, try exercising and eating a salad or two to at least balance things out a bit.  If you love to travel, make sure you balance out your time away with some quality 'at home' time.  Work your ass off, make serious work decisions, say important work catch-phrases like "moving forward", "see what sticks", and "senergy"...but then balance that out with some fishing or a game of catch with your kid.

The examples are literally endless.  Balance is the key to the universe.


Number Four:  Embrace Your Inner Child.  That sounds creepy.  You know what I mean, though.
I might take to another level, but at least I embrace it.  I grew up loving baseball, comic books, and Star Wars, and it makes me happy to include those things in my life today.  I don't give a crap if people think I'm immature or nerdy.  Maybe I am.

Fact of the matter is, it's going to help me grow old gracefully, keep an 'old dad' younger, and continue to remind me of what a great childhood I had.  Don't be so serious.


Number Five:  Listen To Stupid Music.  That's right, stupid music is fun.  But first, acknowledge that the music is stupid, and please don't listen to the music all the time because you will then become stupid as a result.

I like good music.  I appreciate great musicians and artful song writers.  But I like Whitesnake, too.  And my wife likes awful pop-country.  But that's okay, as long as you can distinguish between the two and ration your intake.  Sing the stupid music at the top of your lungs while you're driving, or in the shower, or four Scotches deep on a Tuesday night while in the basement with headphones on.  That's what it's there for.

I suppose that was kind of Ellen-ish.


Number Six:  Get Into a Hobby...or Two.  If you go to work, then come home and watch TV, day after day after day after day, then you probably suck.

Turn the damn TV off, and scrapbook, or cook, or bake, or garden, or brew beer, or build something out of wood or metal, or paint, or draw, or fish, or go to the batting cages, or workout, or invent a new game with your kids, or reupholster furniture, or build a website, or landscape your yard, or learn photography, or play the guitar, or work on your car, or go boating, or take a hike, or smoke a pork shoulder, or make a film, or take piano lessons, or go for a run with your dog, or collect comics.

Things that do NOT count as hobbies: Watching TV, going to the bar, shopping.  Sorry.


Number Seven:  Go Outdoors.  Sun is good.  Rain is good.  Trees are good.  Put down the video game and sit outside.  Appreciate the sounds of the birds chirping and the leaves rustling.  Smell the rain, and the freshly mowed grass.

Take it up a notch and go for a hike.  Find a trail, away from roads and houses, and walk on it.  Look at the different kinds of trees, rock formations, critters, and appreciate them.

I know it's super hard-core, but how about a bike ride?  How about a lake or river for some fishing?

When weather permits, cook a meal and eat it outside.  Don't have a patio?  Go to a park.

Just go outside.  It's good for you.


Number Eight:  Be Content With Not Knowing.  This one might offend.  Although it is a fairly broad thought, it also has to do with the two things that ruffle feathers and get people bent out of shape more than anything: Politics and religion.

I actually just deleted several paragraphs to this section.  I don't want to get into it, because that does not lead to a swell life.  Me being content with not knowing all the answers and keeping an open mind, while continuing to have faith in good things, is what matters here.


Number Nine:  Just Be Good.  This one is near and dear to my heart.

If you read this thing, then you might know that growing up, my grandparents were very important to me.  We fished and camped and watched baseball together...all five of us.  And you've probably read a thing or two about my Granny, who was the last of the four to go.

Well, the last time I saw my Granny was the day before she died.  She had become pretty sick and was laying on her bed.  Although she was starting to fade, and speaking was difficult for her, she still had her wits about her and everything she did say was either clever or ornery, or somehow a combination of the two.  Well, I was kneeled beside her bed holding her hand and chatting with her, and the last thing she said to me was this:  "Just be good."

So you can understand the importance of this simple understatement.  But it makes so much sense.  "Just be good."  That's what the Bible should say.  One page, three words, the end.  Granny should have been on Nike's marketing team.

Classic words to live by, and they're always on the forefront of my brain.  But I don't go out of my way to be overly-bubbly, or fake-good.  That's not me, and it wasn't Granny.



There you have it.  Nine tips for living a swell life.  Why not ten?  Ten is just too planned out and fake.  Nine is just right, and swell.

,,





Friday, February 20, 2015

now and then.

In thinking about the things that I love, meaning interests or hobby-type things, nothing has changed for me in over 35 years.

I'm basically the same person that I was when I was five.  I'm a little grayer now, and obviously a bit wiser, but the foundation was properly set at an early age and there's no reason to fix it.

At five years-old, I could be found traipsing the banks of Montauk or Roaring River searching for trout.  Arriving at the river before dawn with my grandparents and staying out 'til dusk, figuring out ways to net as many rainbows as possible.  I believe by age 11 or 12, I had a personal best of 36 in one day--just ten short of my personal White Castle intake record.

To this day, my favorite activity on earth is exploring a river or lake, catching fish all day long.  Always will be.


When I was five, like most kids at that time, I liked superheroes and therefore "collected" comic books.  "Collected" is definitely a loose term.  I looked at the pictures, cut them up for homemade art projects, spilled Black Cherry Kool-Aid on them, and lost them in a ditch in front of my buddy's house.  Not necessarily in that order.

I donned my Superman cape that mom sewed me and jumped off of our well house on a weekly basis.  I flew for about 1.5 seconds.  I ripped up my pajama bottoms to look like the Hulk's, and busted through the screen door.  Turned out not to be a great idea.  I would put on my Spider-Man Underoos and scale the door frame between the kitchen and living room.

I don't do any cosplay these days, but I'm still a giant superhero nerd.  My comic book collection is impressive, if I do say so myself.  I love the colors, the art, the pop culture history, and the feeling of being a 5 year-old with a vibrant imagination.  Some folks think I'm incredibly immature because I geek out on these books the way I do.  That's okay, I actually like it.  It reminds me that things don't have to be so serious all the time.  It keeps me young, imaginative, and creative.  And although I am a 41 year-old comic book collector and you're not, I'm still cooler than you are.


I mention this quite a bit, and it's been a topic of my ramblings lately.  Mainly because the first Spring Training game happens in exactly two weeks.  Yes, Cardinals Baseball.

I don't need to explain again how deep Cardinals Baseball runs in my family.  Just know that it does, and it will continue to for decades.  Now go trade for Hamels, ya dinguses.


Me and my Granny, circa 1979 at Montauk State Park.  Trout fishing, Spider-Man shirt-wearing, and Cards Baseball on the radio.  Only difference now...Granny's there in spirit and I drink Scotch. 


Sure, I've expanded my horizons over the past 35 years or so.  I enjoy trying new things, going new places, and the like.  My minor interests tend to fluctuate a bit, just like anyone's.  But I'm happy that I've gotten to enjoy so many constants in my life that I have.  

I hope my daughter, Ruby, is able to find things she loves early in life.  Be it swimming, drawing, singing, or whatnot.  Right now her main hobby is shitting herself.  She gets that from me.



My lovely wife accepts my obsession.  The obsession of the Cardinals and crooked aviators.
Rick taught me how to fly fish.  I am now better than he is.

Nerd family Halloween, 2014.  As close to cosplay as I've gotten since 1979.

If it ain't broke...

,,

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday Morning.

What's on my mind, you ask?  Thanks for inquiring.

I think about food, probably more so than your typical joe.  I really like the "idea" of knowing where my food has come from.  I put idea in "quotes" because who really knows, unless you grow it yourself, kill it yourself, or know someone down the street who does the dirty work for you.  I don't necessarily trust Safeway or McDonalds--I believe their marketing departments are paid to make us feel like we're eating consciously or healthy.  They tip-toe around the ripening chemicals and hormones.  Not to mention whatever goo fast food guys use to supplement their actual food.  I'm not going to preach, because frankly I don't know enough about what's going on with my food other than what I've read or watched.  Haven't seen anything firsthand.

With that said, I am sincerely attracted to the practice of knowing where my food comes from.  Not necessarily religiously reading labels and tracing it back, but rather growing vegetables and butchering meat.  But here's the sad part: I don't care for the types of people that are associated with that practice.  I don't care for the uppity, rich, granola, Boulder trust funding housewife that constantly judges everyone else about their eating and food purchasing habits.  Not everyone can spend four hours and $400 a week at Whole Foods.  I'm also not a fan of hippies that are so adamant about "grass fed", "free range", "hormone free", "gluten free", and everything else they claim to be healthy...but then they refuse to wash their bodies.  Then you have the hipsters.  Doing everything "olde timey" because it's fashionable.  I think it's funny that being a man is fashionable.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to eat real food.  The mafia, or whoever has the monopoly on America's food industry, has to make a lot of food, fast.  And I'm afraid it's turned into more of a science experiment than just growing food and selling it.  Small farms that do things the right way are pretty few and far between.  I believe it to be a noble profession to be a butcher or a farmer, and do things the way they used to be done.  Just don't do it for fashion's sake.


Right now, my job is to raise my daughter.  I'm incredibly proud to say that.

The company I was working for up until right before Christmas went belly up, so I am currently a stay at home dad.  I still feel weird about saying that.  It's like I'm admitting to being happy that I'm unemployed, which I'm really not.  The writing was on the wall at my old employer--April and I knew that I (along with the dozens of other employees) was going to be jobless at a certain point this winter.  So we were prepared to prepare.  April was on maternity leave, and just recently went back to work right around the time the shit hit the fan at my work.  So with my mom helping out watching the baby for a couple weeks between the transitioning time, the timing has worked out well.  April and I basically just switched spots.  Now she's working and I'm on paternity leave.

I don't want to call it "leave" though--I don't want it to sound like it's not work.  It's not a vacation.  It's a lot of work...exhausting by the end of the day.  And the term "stay at home mom or dad" should not have the negative attachment to it that I believe it does.  Just because a parent stays at home to raise their child does not make them lazy or does not mean that they don't contribute.  It's a job.  How much do they get paid?  How ever much daycare costs.

I realize a lot of folks don't have much of a choice--they have to send their kid to daycare because they count on two incomes.  We do too, so I'll be going back to work eventually.  But we're trying desperately to figure out a way to avoid shipping our daughter off to daycare.  It has its plusses, I'm sure.  The kids get to socialize more, and might therefore become more independent, or independent faster.  Hell, I don't know.  In my mind, the negatives greatly outweigh the plusses, but I've got to convince myself that they don't in preparation for sending Ruby there every day.  Frankly, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me to pay someone a lot of money to help raise your child on a daily basis.  In certain situations, obviously.

Point is, I have never loved anything or anyone even remotely close to as much as love this baby.  It wasn't easy getting her here, and it saddens me to think about shipping her off to a stranger five days a week when I've wanted dearly to be a parent for the last 10 years.  That's all.


Speaking of children, let's talk about Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  My daughter is enamored with this show.  She has been for as long as she's been able to focus on objects and sounds.  Not much makes her more happy than the beginning song of that show.  It's fun to watch her get so damn excited and kick and squeal.  But the show is kind of creepy.  It's a spin-off of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which was pretty creepy in itself.  But Mr. Rogers wore pants, the animated characters on this show do not.  Actually, the weird part is that some of them do, some don't.  Daniel Tiger's mom wears pants, along with a shirt, and shoes.  Daniel Tiger and his dad wear shirts (or zip-up hoodies with nothing underneath, I should say) and shoes, but no pants.  So at this point it's clearly a decision the males in this family make.  In this make-believe land, Tigers are like humans.  They walk upright, they speak, they go to school and work, they live in a house, they eat vegetables, and they befriend human counterparts instead of stalk them and kill them.  Essentially, Tigers are humans, along with Cats and Owls, and coexist with humans daily.  They have dinner parties, their children play together, they have sleepovers.  Animals and humans are the same.  Except, the human men are fully clothed.  The Tigers are partially clothed, which creates creepiness for me.

The Owls are nude, except for shoes.  I'm cool with that.  The feathers cover up any naughty parts, and I think we're all kind of used to nude birds.  Daffy, Donald, Big Bird.  You want to put shoes on them?  Fine.  The Cats have clothes on.  But get this...Daniel puts pants on when there's inclement weather, so they own pants and utilize them on occasion.  Which solidifies my point even more about it being a choice.  Please, PBS animators...let's make it all or nothing.

Now sports.

February is the worst month in life.  The weather in unpredictable, but if you're so inclined to predict it, you're pretty safe in predicting "shitty".  College ball has been over for a couple weeks now, and the NFL has just played their last game, the Super Bowl.  Yep, that's what it's called.

Have you ever seen Rocky IV, with the Russian?  Remember when Apollo Creed was to fight the Russian at the beginning of the movie?  There was this over-the-top (another marvelous Stallone flick) production with dancing girls, pyrotechnics, elaborate stage sets, and James Brown.  It was a gaudy, ridiculous show of excess, gluttony, and poor sportsmanship.  Then Apollo gets killed.

This is what the NFL is.  It's excess, gluttony, over-the-top, and classless.  Sure, sadly I still watch it, but every season it gets worse and worse.   Let's promote good sportsmanship instead of encouraging morons to dance in the end zone for seven minutes after doing their job.  The NFL now is what the XFL was 15 years ago. And that only lasted a year.

Pitchers and catchers report in 15 days.  The longest, most grueling 15 days of my life.

After a several year hiatus, I am coming back to Busch Stadium for Opening Day, the most wonderful holiday of the year.  It's against the Brewers, who can eat shit.

Going to Opening Day at Busch Stadium is the event of events.  It's hard to explain the feeling.  I guess it comes down to history.  I don't care for any other team, be it baseball, football, curling, or what have you.  I was raised a St. Louis Cardinals fan.  I didn't jump on the bandwagon after Springfield got the Double A affiliate.  I didn't suddenly start rooting for them after they started winning again 15 years ago.  I've been a proud Cardinals fan since before I can remember, and I'm proud that my family is from St. Louis.

Like my wife's love affair with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, it's a family thing.  My entire family roots for the Cards, they have for decades before I was born.  So Opening Day, along with the other 161 games, is what we wait for.

This season will be interesting.  The Brewers are good, the Pirates are good, the Reds are good, and the Cubs....should be good.  Fucking Cubs.  Their team has shaped up to be a pretty good looking one on paper, especially with Maddon at the helm.  I would love to go to the Cubs home opener at the newly refurbished Wrigley.  Cards at Cubs, April 5th at Wrigley.  What a way to start the season.


Ruby's waking up.  Time to go.



,,





Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Evening.

Right now, I mean right now, this is what's going on.

I am preparing a healthy supper of fish and shrimp in a garlic, caper, olive oily sauce and mashed cauliflower.  Healthy, for the most part.  That's how we do it nowadays.  I was getting obese from eating whatever the hell I wanted.  Now we're cooking good shit and not eating Chinese or pizza every other night.  Don't worry though, we'll still tear up a raw cow from time to time and we're always fully stocked on bacon.

I am listening to and watching Willie Nelson live in concert in Austin, circa 1974.  That's what my daughter likes to listen to, so there you go.  It's amazing for many reasons.  One, Willie was roughly my age when this was recorded.  Now, he doesn't have the gray hair yet, but I have to say that I still look 15 years younger than he did back then.  Now that I read this, it's not a great comparison. Music was phenomenal back then, minus the disco.  '74 saw country music morph into a beautiful thing that pushed the boundaries of traditional country, and it worked.  Unlike the bro-country of 2015 that needs desperately to go away.  I'm looking at you, Blake Shelton.  You had AC/DC coming onto the rock scene.  The Ramones.  Waylon Jennings.  The year that I was born was a swell year for good music.

I just walked outside to dump some onion skins, cauliflower stumps, and whatnot into the compost pile.  As I walked outside, I immediately smelled my grill.  I'm not grilling anything tonight, it's just the residual aroma from an often used cooking device.  It made me smile.

Guarantee my dog is out there eating up all the vegetable scraps.  He'll be vomiting soon.

Today I went to physical therapy.  Not mental, physical.  I threw my back out last Friday.  Worst pain I think I've ever had.  Could barely pee, due to all the core muscles that you use for peeing that you don't even notice help you pee, being inflamed.  How did I throw my back out?  It was from lifting my 17lb daughter out of her excer-saucer.  This has been my main concern being an old dad.  I don't want to break down physically or mentally prematurely.  I want to play and wrestle and run with my kid(s).  Old, decrepit dad can't do that.  Young, active dad can.  I owe it to Ruby Margaret to be the latter.  At any rate, therapy went well--I'm feeling decent.

While eating supper tonight, Ape and I watched the latest episode of Gotham.  Best damn show on network television.  They did it right.  Sky is the limit with it's potential.  I suppose I get a little more excited about it than most, me being a comic geek and whatnot.  But they really did set themselves up for an endless run of great episodes.  You've got your young Penguin coming up through the ranks of organized crime, getting a little crazier each episode.  (Lt) Jim Gordon solidifying himself as a tough, ethical cop.  Catwoman, Riddler, Harvey Dent, a young Bruce Wayne.  Shit man, they haven't even touched on the Joker yet.  Anyway, it's good.

Willie live in '74 is over and the music box has switched to AC/DC's "High Voltage".  An outstanding transition.

The family and I went home to Springfield over New Year's.  While we were there, we recorded a couple of songs.  That's right.  My dad and good friend Jeff are musicians who play together regularly under the name Zoo Pass.  Don't ask, they'd been drinking.  Add my good friend and ex-bandmate Bryan, and my wife, who has a beautiful voice, and you've got yourself a band.  We learned, played, and recorded two songs, with my dad on the banjo, Jeff playing upright bass, Bryan playing the guitar, me on the washboard, and April singing.  We cut a tune called "Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man?", obviously after our daughter, Ruby, and a Merle Haggard tune the old band and I used to cover called "Mama Tried".  It was a ton of fun and after Jeff got done mixing them, it was a ton of fun to listen to.  Afterwards, we drank heavily and decided we'd call ourselves Evil Fred Nolan and her Campbell Street Orchestra.  Don't ask, we'd been drinking.

All right, I'm all done typing & shit.  Have a swell Tuesday evening.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

it's a slow day at the office...

I think about life.  A lot.  I suppose it's a good thing--means I'm not taking it for granted.

Have you ever turned the radio on in the car and heard a band...maybe you're not too crazy about the tune so you flip over to another station, only to hear the same band?  And then you think, "Whoa, did they die?"  You know what I mean?  You're thinking that it's too much of a coincidence for these two, maybe three radio stations to be playing the same artist at the same time, so maybe one of the members croaked?

Yesterday, Metallica was on the radio.  I'm not a huge fan, so I changed it.  Metallica was on again.  So I thought to myself, "What if the entire band died in a bus crash or something?"  Yeah, kind of morbid, but it was rush hour traffic and my brain had plenty of time to wander.

Well?  What if?  I immediately thought about what all they had accomplished in their lifetime.  What were they, 50 by now?  So that's a hell of a run.  They didn't really know what life was like on the other side--meaning how "normal" folks like you and I live.  They went for it early and succeeded.  They trailblazed a unique genre of music, toured the world, made a million dollars, and met some incredible personalities along their way.  Nice job, guys.

Then I got to thinking about how all of us (for the most part) have the opportunity to go for it.  (And when I say "go for it", I instantly think of a corny inspirational poster with a sailboat or someshit on it.)  Most folks--at least most folks that I can relate to--have the opportunity to do whatever they want.  We have the freedom to pursue whatever ridiculous, one-in-a-million chance, eye-rolling dream we choose.  I'm not saying that I want to be a rock star (not anymore...).  I'm just saying that because Metallica happened to be on two radio stations at the same time, that I gained a little perspective and appreciation.  The rest of my day was pretty uneventful.

But now I'm going to keep on rambling...

Metallica didn't die.  They're fine--probably at the Burger King drive-thru right now ordering some food.  But Robin Williams did die.  And as tired as I am of hearing about it, it is weird.  So I go through a similar thought process:  What a life.  What a career.  And...what a shame.

The accident that killed Metallica feels different than Robin Williams' suicide.  It has to do with the words "accident" and "suicide" and how different they are to me.  With Metallica's death, I immediately wanted to celebrate their lives and accomplishments.  With Williams' I was pissed.  Sure, there is sympathy and sadness as well, but a definite sense of anger.

I'm not going to get into the debate of  "is a depression-oriented suicide selfish or not?".  I don't know.  I don't know depression all that well.  Obviously you can't just flip a switch and you're all of a sudden happy and thankful.  I can't help but think that there were some mind and mood-altering substances involved, but whatever.  It feels selfish on my end.

I had a very good friend that suffered almost the exact same fate as Williams, and although he was going through some really rough times mentally, it still felt selfish to me.  Was he depressed?  Yeah, probably.  And if that was the case, I certainly feel sorry and sad, but I'm still pissed.

Seems like I say this every time I write, but I'm not religious.  I don't hang my hat on one organized belief.  But if life isn't a fucking miracle, then I don't know what is.  I don't care about walking on water or turning water into wine--those are baby-shit miracles in comparison to creating a human life.  I've always thought that to an extent, but even more so now that my daughter, Ruby, is born.  Life is mind-numbingly amazing.  I'm not preaching or trying to give inspirational speeches..."Life is great, gang! Carpe diem, everyone!  Carpe diem!!"  It's more than cheerleading for life.  It's much deeper.  I hope Ruby sees that someday.

We all take it for granted, at least from time to time.  Life is all we know, but we still have to acknowledge that it's a ridiculously generous gift from somewhere or someone (whatever or whoever that may be).  So I guess when someone ends theirs, it rubs me the wrong way.  Sure, maybe they had sadness and negativity consuming them in some way, and they couldn't deal with it.  That really sucks.  I'm sorry.  It still rubs me the wrong way, though.  It feels like the ultimate lack of appreciation.

I don't plan on killing myself, at least not blatantly. I plan on doing the best with what I've got.  I plan on balancing contentment with outlandish dreams.  If I die in a bus crash like Metallica did, so be it.  I'm going to be appreciative until the wheels fall off.

That's what I've got going on in my head today.

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