Friday, June 10, 2016

Trying to Process

It has been almost 24 hours since I got the call that one of my friends from college had passed. This was a total shock to me and I have spent the day trying to process the information and in typical fashion I chose to put it down on "paper" so I could think it out and help myself understand what I am thinking and hopefully allow me to at least feel something about the situation.

Tony was an indomitable spirit from the first time I met him when he was still in high school. At first I didn't like him at all. I know the laws of kindness say I am not supposed to say that but, it is true and there it is. Tony was the polar opposite of myself, you see I took myself too seriously even then. He was always in the moment and it seemed he never took anything seriously. This made me CRAZY! In truth I was always a little jealous of him. His ability to turn anything into a joke, a good time, and he was never short on his witty retorts to anything. I wished that I could be that way, but, only when I wanted to which doesn't work at all.

After a time he and I became good friends and we spent a significant amount of time in each other's company. He would still make me absolutely crazy to the point of me wanting to "Nelson" shake him and at the same time he could always make me crack and smile because his joy never let up. We could also find the most fun in the silliest of endeavors. I remember once we rented the Madden football game and played it for 24 hours straight just trying to see how many awful, catastrophic collisions we could make happen. No score, competition, or even full games - just " Ok this time when you run jump into me and I will hit you from the left " - for 24 hours! I will remember it forever.

His death, this thing that has happened, has shaken me to the core. He is the first one of my close friends to pass away. I have been exposed to death. I have lost students, grandparents, aunts, and uncles but, this is different. It is the first sign that the immortality of youth is over. Life can touch us and our memories and make it hurt, really hurt, and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. Life has dictated that we have all chosen different paths and we have moved down those paths with different speeds and trials. The minutia of the ever-present has caused us to look back fondly but not take action in reaching out to make sure that the connection is still alive and working. This is a shame and I am going to make a concerted effort to at least keep in contact with those I care about more frequently.

I wish I could say I am going to miss Tony, but, I am not going to miss him. With all of the miles between us and the time that has past most of my connection with him is in memory of us and what we were and who we all were. This "band of brothers" that spent a brief time as everything to each other. We were colleagues, a support group, room mates, friends, and we took care of each other. SO, I won't miss Tony. I will forever hold him in in my mind as the guy who was always there with a smile, who would be silly when he shouldn't and didn't care, who could show real compassion, and who could make you forget to take it so seriously, if only for a moment.

Rest my friend, and know that I will forever think of you and smile.

Love Always,


Sunday, February 7, 2016


     It has been a long time since I have made my self sit down and type out a blog post. This used to be my cathartic way of rationalizing my crazy life without completely going crazy and running with scissors or some other destructive behavior.

I thought that was all behind me ..... well not so much.

     It is true that my daily dose of drama has substantially subsided since moving away and I no longer have to deal with people consumed with the need to create catastrophes in order to be saved form them by someone else. It sounds as crazy as it is and it continues still today with the same crowd. The only difference is I don't have to subscribe to the pay per view or, be a participant. I can just pretend it doesn't exist like professional wrestling. It happens, I know it happens, I hear about it happening, I know the people involved, and even with all of that knowledge I couldn't care less.

    My new neurosis is worry. I worry about being lonely because I am lonely. I worry about my health because I am fat. I worry about my son. I worry about my job. I worry about what to do next with my life. I worry.

All that being said, I am not currently doing anything to remedy any of these situations in any real or focused way. I clamor around to put out whatever fire is in front of me at the time and then stand stock still until I smell or see the next flames. It is exactly like the feeling you get when you look at your to do list and it is so long that you say, "screw it. " and go drink a margarita at 2:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon for no reason.

This "worry" has become a constant in my life and I am on a mission to fix it. I'm not sure how (even though I am sure a multitude of well meaning people would be more than willing to tell me how immediately causing my natural defiance mechanism which in turn means I will automatically not do that whatever "it" is) but, I am going to try and figure some way to tackle this beast.

I have to.

I made it out of hell. I can make it out of limbo too....

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why I do what I do.

I had a fried post online a question that totally rocked me the other day. A simple question that I haven't thought about in so long that it startled me.

Why do you do what you do? What makes you tick?

This got me thinking in a million different directions at once about

  •  my personal life
  •  my professional life
  •  my relationships with students  
Naturally because of the relationship with my friend and the things we do there are the cliched responses but, I decided to really think about what made me tick professionally. Here's what I came up with.

Being part of something bigger than yourself.
I want to teach students that being a part of something bigger than yourself is rewarding and requires sacrifice. That the feeling of being able to look to your left and the right and the people may not be the best but they are giving everything they have not only for themselves but for you and the group. 

Music has power.
   Real power. It can do anything from put a baby to sleep to create a national movement. It reaches the very part of us that is in constant touch with who we are in our most real selves. 

That music is one of the few things in this world that is fair.
     It is one of the few places where the work is essential and it doesn't matter if you are black, white, blue, rich, poor, fat, skinny, or whatever your can succeed at some level if you are willing to put in the work. 

The music theory of relativity. 
     One of the most appealing things to me about music is that in a performance or a class time is irrelevant. While you are playing, if you are doing it right, it is truly a vacation from the world. The only thing that matters is the present. There are no power bills, no high stakes testing, or anything but the investment in the  the performance, and your relationship with the other performers.

These are things that make me tick and my vehicles for doing what I feel is a real service to the world. Lots of things teach you to work hard. Lots of things can teach you responsibility, higher order thinking and all the other selling points people like to use. Music has intrinsic value and we should celebrate its value not make it fit into slogans and talking points.

When I am gone I hope for just a few things. That I was a good father, friend, that my students knew I loved them, and that for one shining moment I was able to be a part of their lives and teach them about the greatest thing I know - music.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Be. Here. Now.

A couple of things have happened in the past couple of weeks that have me thinking and reassessing some of my habits. 

The first was a trip to the Discovery Science Center and the second was an Easter egg hunt at church.

Both things are super fun and a great way for my son and I to spend time together. 

When we got to the science center my boy ran over to the first station and proceeded to start having fun and doing exactly what we were there to do. HAVE FUN. I however, did the thing that has become entirely too familiar. I whipped out my phone, made my son pose, and tried to get him wrangled in to take his picture so that I could share with my "friends" how MUCH fun we were having. I did this a couple of times throughout the place and the day as I had done a million times before. 

I posted the pics and periodically marveled at how many "likes" and "comments" were made about the super fun times we were having. This is a  thing that has become too typical in my life and outings with the undisputed most important thing in my life. 

The next event however, changed my whole perspective hopefully forever. 

We arrived at the egg hunt, helped out a little, got in line for our picture with the bunny, did some crafts, and waited for the big event all the other families. My boy was playing in the floor with a hot wheel the bunny just gave him  like it was both indestructible and made of gold at the same time. 

To watch a boy play with a hot wheel is a beautiful thing. So much joy, and imagination in how they play. They fly, fight, go underwater, become life saving crews and armed forces vehicles in seconds. All with a seamless transition that all the others understand and accept like I accept that air conditioners make air cold.  I don't know how and don't care. They make air cold and I am thankful for it. 

Anyway, I digress. Back to the task. 

I noticed a familiar behavior from all the adults in the room. It was the same behavior I had done a million times and had done the same just day before at the science center. They were all manufacturing fun and living this moment through a view finder. They weren't present. They were hours or minutes ahead of themselves and already sharing magical moments and memories without having any.

When I was a kid my parents had a camera and we took pictures but, there was a magical substance which made those pictures limited and precious. FILM. It was expensive to take a million pictures and even more expensive to get them developed. So pictures were precious commodities for only the most special occasions. I am thankful for this now. 

Now pictures aren't special. My son will have his whole life chronicled digitally, and stored, not in shoe boxes where he can find them and go through them when I pass, but on a digital cloud. 

Our lives have become too shared, liked, notified, and checked in. We share our dinners, who we are with, where we are every minute of the day, and how we are feeling about everything. Nothing is precious and / or special any longer. 

Well not for this guy any longer! 

I am going to try and be here now. BE. HERE. NOW. 

Oh and by the way, make sure to like and share this on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and anything else you can think of.  Insert clever emoticon here! 


Friday, April 18, 2014

Letting Go

It is hard to believe that it has been a month since my last attempt at writing in this blog. I guess writing something everyday is out the window. Like they say, " If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans."

It has been one of he busiest and crazy months I can ever remember.. From the indoor drumline thing and trying desperately to manage it and make it at least presentable to trying to keep up with my homework it has proven to be stretching me in a way that I haven't been used to for a long time. I am having to learn to let go of things that aren't productive to me or necessary.

Letting go has proven to be the hardest thing I have had to learn in this new life adventure. I started the school year paying as much attention to my old life as my new one to the point where it felt like I was doing a camp or residence here and I would be going back to everything as normal soon. Until recently I just couldn't make myself quit thinking about my old life and finding ways that this new life didn't measure up. I did this while remaining super positive about things here to keep up appearances of being involved and working hard but, I was still involved with the other side mentally.

As time has kept on moving on though I have seen things for what they are now and they are ok.
Are they what I am used to? NO.
Are they necessarily they way I want them to be? NO.
Is my caring and interest in my old life reciprocated? NO.

In the past few weeks I have learned so much about people and my new environment. It has cause me to be more in the moment than ever before and to take real ownership on something like never before. No insecurity involved. I have had to answer these questions daily to make myself think about now and where I am going.

Can this be as good or better than before? YES
Is my life full of new experiences that are growing me as a teacher, father, and person? YES
Can I visualize the steps that I nee to take to create what I want from life now? YES
Am I happy? Mostly

This new mindset is helping propel me forward in a new way and is changing my relationships and life in a way I never thought imaginable. I am creating new and positive relationships with new people in my work environment, I am spending more time doing things I like to do, I am caring about the future in a new way and it is really fun again. I am having fun again.

I have a long way to go but, now I know when I get there I will be smiling. I couldn't have said that not too long ago.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why so serious?

It is funny how literal kids can take things. The simplest turn of phrase can lead to several minutes of explaining and questioning. 

Tonight we went to eat chinese, which is a weekly occurence. On the way home there were several police cars blocking the road about 100 yards from our entrance. Apparently there was large sheet of ice and there had already been several accidents so they were closing it off until a salt truck could get on site. 
I looked over my shoulder and told the boy that we were going to have to turn around and take the long way home. I apparently said that we were driving to the moon, we were never going see anyone we love again and all his toys would be given to orphans. There was an outcry, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and much dismay about this. 

The long way? How long? How much farther? How are we going to get home?

That quickly turned to dismay about the ice on the road.

How will we be able to get out? If there is ice will I be able to go to school? (nice try)

It really does amaze me how far this little guy has come and what he has overcome already in his short time. He is strong, unflappable (except when it comes to his spelling words), and has an amazing disposition. 

Also watch out! The boogie man has put black ice on all the roads home. 


Monday, February 3, 2014

Relationships are Amazing

It has been a month since I have sat down and forced myself to participate in this blog again. 

I have received only positive feedback from people about it but, the actual sitting down and composing these little pieces of ill conceived dribble really are hard for me to compose. They are personal snippets of my thoughts that are composed with both the truth and the consideration that others are reading. Anyway , I digress. 

I have learned somethings about myself this month. I have learned somethings about relationships this month. I have felt empowered, beaten, resurrected, and loved all in one month. It has been a journey unlike any other that I have felt since starting this cheapskate's version of therapy with a twist of ego. 
I like the fact that people read these and say they like them. So sue me. 

The first thing I have learned is that I am actually ok with setting limits within a personal relationship and ending that relationship when those limits are violated. This is a new thing for me as I was the absolute king of passive aggessive behavior to a fault. There should have been a case sutdy done on my over extending myself, and agreeing to everything while being disgruntled, embittered, and just down right angry about doing things that I had agreed to do or said were good ideas. In fact I think this trait was the single most to blame in the failure of my marriage, the struggles of my boy, and my financial abyss. 
So for me to tell someone on a personal level that the were asking too much and that I wasn't comfortable was a huge milestone. 

The next thing that came however, was the beating and it nearly got me. 

In my professional career I have always been driven and I have always been able to forge quick and solid relationships with students. It came easy to talk to kids and get them on my side and have them be a part of my vision for what we were doing. This time however, I was met with a set of circumstances that completely tested those skills and shook me to my core beliefs as a professional. I said the word flounder out loud. It caused me to ignore who I am, who I was, and where I want to go. 
It was just an awful feeling that I won't let happen again if I can help it. 

So I took a minute, asked some advice, shook off some cobwebs, stood up and decided I would be damned if I was going down without a fight. I used to say, " I am the master at working around my circumstances," well now it is time to prove it. I am happy to say things are going much better now. I am learnig to manipulate my environment again, how to be a different teacher with a differrent vision and (with some time) achieve a new and different set of goals. I am on my way to new things and not trying ro recreate old things in a new place. 

Last, I went to wedding this weekend. To be truthful, I considered not going. I was tired, it was a long drive, and I didn't want to leave the boy for the weekend. I am thankful for some advice that told me to go and be a good friend. I got up early and drove the five hours to the wedding still wondering if I it was the right call. The answer came quick. When I pulled up they were standing outside but I managed somehow to go by unseen. When I approached the church I finally saw my buddy satnding there all dressed up for his big day. He ran up and hugged me and we both started crying to the point that the preacher came out to see if everything was ok. The amount of sincere friendship and love I felt in that moment filled my heart to the point of bursting. I was so happy for him, to see him, and to just be buddies again for a day.
 I also spent the day and into the night sitting and talking to our old friends. It was like a cheesy reunion movie but with sincerity, kindness, mischief, and more laughs than I can remember. We of course talked about some " old times" but mostly we just talked about now. 

What was amazing is that we haven't seen each other in so long but, we didn't need to catch up. The time we were apart was nonexistent. Almost like we were asleep and just woke up. It was instant family, comfort, and caring. 

It has been one hell of a month. I am sorry for the length of my ramblings but, in the end remember this  cheapskate is just trying to sort it all out.