Genuine

My therapist is right. She told me: “You are a person who places a great deal of importance on being genuine. You become frustrated when your true self isn’t allowed expression.”

This was a genuine evaluation, and it hit the mark sharp and pure. I had never really analyzed this facet of myself. I aspire to be as genuine as possible. In others my highest esteem is given to this un-fakeable characteristic.

Since seeing Tina Dico last January, I have tried to pinpoint what is so compelling about her. I discussed this with my wife, who is also becoming quite a fan. Aside from writing songs which have great lyrics and a tremendous hook – every one of them – I identify with her. She is The Real Deal. Her lyrics are raw and personal. What you see is what you get. The persona and the person are so closely linked it is indistinguishable.

When I met Tina at the Highline in New York City in early 2011, I was taken by her interest in MY interest in HER. At the time I only knew a few songs. My friend Antek was so enamored by her presence, when I took a photo of him with his arm around her shoulder, two clicks later his knees had turned to jello and he slinked away. This left me to try my hand at conversation without much knowledge beyond that evening. Since then I have collected her CD’s the way a squirrel gathers nuts.

This was a great moment as well as a missed opportunity. It isn’t that I couldn’t speak, I just didn’t know what to say. Now, a mere few months removed from that moment, I would have hours of questions and much to converse about.

While not every Tina Dico song moves me, many do. I listen. I hear the melodies. I learn the lyrics. I listen again. I sing along.

When I ‘discover’ a song, it resonates with me like a tuning fork. I also understand that – like a tuning fork – this exact song, melody, lyrics, and HOOK won’t resonate the same with everyone. (But that’s what makes music so cool.) Not everyone likes the same stuff, and you don’t continue to like the same stuff forever. Some music stays, some fades. Your personal tuning fork keeps adjusting with age. Different songs resonate differently at different times. Some wane. Some fall out of favor. Some come roaring back in, then out again.

Genuineness is no doubt why I like Joni Mitchell and Bruce Cockburn so much. They are – heart and soul, mind and spirit – true through and through. Few artists qualify. Tina has done a wonderful job in her art largely because – like great writing of any kind – when you are finished you feel as if you know the person better.

This song has been wearing out the victrola recently. I dedicate this to my beautiful daughter, (who is also becoming a huge Tina Dico Fan!)

Diabetes

I went into the doctor because my vision was bad. Though declining sight is part of aging, this was different. Each eye was focusing differently, at different times. Changing eyesight cannot be corrected with a fixed lens. There was something more going on, but what? I made an appointment at the eye doctor, but that wasn’t until September. If there is something bigger going on, I want to know about it now.

After strolling into the doctor’s office, the nurse checked my weight, took my blood pressure, then took me over to the eye chart. After asking me which was the lowest line I could read, I registered 20-40 vision, but slightly better with both eyes. After returning to the office, I sat down and waited to see my doctor. When he came in I shook his hand and told him he was the greatest Doctor on the planet. I said, “I know this for sure because if I saw you on the street, I’m not sure I would recognize you.” He must be doing something right.

My daughter Hannah was seated next to me, as the Doctor began to ask me questions: “So you are having trouble with your vision? Have you made an appointment with an eye doctor?” I told him I had, but wanted to take care of it more quickly if it wasn’t just my vision. He began asking me questions about the food I eat. I eat a fairly balanced diet. Occasionally I have a burger and fries, but more often than not I eat fruits, salads, vegetables, and meat. “Do you get up to go to the bathroom at night?” He asked. “Yes,” I said, “and that is a change over this past year. I get up once a night and go. A lot.”

“When you get up, are you very thirsty?” He asked. “Sometimes I have some water when I awake, but more often than not I just rinse with mouthwash and go back to bed.”

“Are your eyes often bloodshot?” I then deferred to my daughter: “Hannah, have you noticed the whites of dad’s eyes being red?” She slowly shook her head no. “Any numbness or tingling in your hands or feet?” he asked. “No,” I said.

My doctor has been in practice for some time. I admire him a great deal. He is around my age and semi-retired. I love those who don’t relentlessly pursue the almighty dollar. Those that do would call him crazy. I see a man who has his priorities straight. I have never heard of anyone on their deathbed lamenting the additional hours the could have spent working. He works small hours for large dollars, and enjoys life outside his practice. I have been working the ‘balance’ game into my own life schematic with tremendous success: My relationships with my wife and daughter are flourishing. (Fortunately they both want to spend time with me, as well.)

My Doctor orders a blood test. Just before I heard the results of the test, I ate an ice cream cone: My blood sugar was over 500. That cone was the only food to enter my mouth for the next 4 days.

I returned the following day to the doctors office, with Taryn. The Doctor said he almost didn’t order the blood test because I wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms. I said to him, “If my Glucose is over 500, shouldn’t I feel like crap?” He nodded, then shook his head. I am an anomaly.

He asked if I wanted to be in touch with a diabetic specialist, who could recommend a nutritionist… then he asked me about taking drugs. This was disguised under the label ‘medication’, but he suggested some drugs which might help with my glucose levels. I told him I would try to handle it on my own, and he was okay with that. I really think he ‘gets’ me. For someone who turned down nary a substance in college, God do I hate drugs. I would rather fast for 4 days – eat one meal, fast for a day, eat another meal, then eat three meals the following day in order to get my levels down – than take drugs. Yes folks: drugs are in my vocabulary, not in my system.

Drugs beget more drugs, in order to counter balance the side-effects of the drugs… this is why you never see anyone with just one prescription. If they have one, they have a bunch. What are these, potato chips?

My family was calling and emailing me with suggestions of websites to check out. I began devouring these websites, looking for any and all information I could find. Doom and gloom isn’t part of my psychological makeup, and I don’t like the obsession with disease, rather than an emphasis on health. Without defying the doctors orders, I am looking for a holistic resolution to putting my body back in it’s natural state of health. So I ate salads and lots of Kale.

My reading after this stint was 105.

I don’t know if 25 years of fairly heavy diet soda consumption tricked my pancreas into producing excess insulin, but it may have. I have also been consuming oodles of High Fructose Corn Syrup. It is in absolutely everything we eat. This little gem does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin, so it gets stored as fat and keeps us hungry! (What an elixir for the food industry.) Either one may be the culprit, or it may be the combination of both. I believe these government sanctioned sweeteners created my pancreatic crisis. But it doesn’t matter. Their presence in my digestive tract will never be seen again.

It is my hope that living within the culinary confines of the near-vegan lifestyle which has been carved for me, I will have normal glucose levels. After a couple of years, these levels will stabilize. Slowly I may be able to reintroduce carbohydrates, and perhaps my pancreas will be able to effectively deal with it.

When I was fasting, so many people were telling me to eat. “You have to eat,” they would say. These same people wouldn’t make a peep if I walked into a McDonald’s and had a burger, fries, and a soda. In fact, most of them would join me. Fast food puts toxins in your body. Fasting eliminates toxins.

Everyone should eat like I need to. Food that is bad for me is bad for everyone. No one seems to realize this. They think I have an ‘exclusive’ on bad food. While others have a better tolerance for bad food than I do, I am not so sure this is an advantage.

My father likes to say: “Some boxers pride themselves on being able to take a punch. People who drink are the same way. They say, ‘he can really handle his liquor.’ But this isn’t something to be proud of! What saves you is not being able to take a punch, or not being able to handle your liquor. This ‘ability’ will kill you.”

My body can’t handle bad food. With vigilance, diabetes could be the best thing that ever happened to me.

Sheer Potential

The loss is profound. This is life. Here is my wife, both carrying and giving life. What will they be? What kind of personality will they have? Will he be big into sports, playing whatever is in season and any that is not? Will he be the head of a corporation? With his parents love and guidance, will he carve a path that is uniquely his? Or will he be a she? Will she be a writer? Will she play music? Will she inspire others to greatness? With her parents love and guidance, will she carve a path that is uniquely hers?

Sheer potential takes on many faces. The parents dream of her, but they don’t really care how her life plays out. They just want her in their arms. The rest will work it’s way out. He will be what he will be. But why does the loss hit so hard? Here was a little person I never knew, never talked to, never touched. How can I feel such a deep loss? Was I in love with potential?

Love is sheer potential. I have lost love.

It isn’t as though I will never regain the love I lost. That love is but a well which constantly replenishes. The bottom is unknown. I will not feel this as deeply as Taryn, for I did not carry. This wasn’t a part of me. In time, the memory will fade, only to come surging back when someone refers to their own misfortune.

Love transcends time and space. Love can even transcend knowledge.

I loved a child I never knew. I love my wife more than I ever knew possible.

Writing

So I was in Greenfield the other day. While enjoying my morning coffee, I am writing in my journal, as I am wont to do. Sitting at a 4 seat table with my journal open, and pen in hand, the ink is penetrating and covering the page. Some guy approaches with a salad and asks me if I wouldn’t mind him sitting at the table with me.

“Are you waiting for someone?” He asks. “There is room upstairs. I could go upstairs if you would prefer.”

“Yeah,” I said, flustered. “I will only be here a few more minutes”.

Then he sits down.

I am dumbfounded. I cannot believe this guy just took it upon himself to sit down next to me when – as he acknowledged – there were other tables available. I was wondering if my haughty Americanism was getting the better of me, and if it was I who was being disdainful towards him for not welcoming his presence at the table directly adjacent to my writing forum… but I don’t think so.

I was immersed in what could be the most intimate act anyone can legally perform in public.

I should have said: “Sure you can sit here, but I just noticed something: I think you have some food stuck in your upper molars. Do you mind if I get it out with my fingernail before you eat?”

Stepmothers

For Christmas I gave my wife a book on step-mothering. This was not because I believed she needed any assistance, but because she is genuinely interested. She takes it seriously. I have given her books before, and she appreciated them, but this one was very enlightening. I have been reading it myself, and am amazed at what a tough task – a truly thankless job – the role of step mothering is. Hard enough to enter into the world of marriage for the first time on the second go-round. It is another altogether to live the life of a stepmother. I had no idea.

The stepmother is not revered, rarely appreciated, and kicks ass nonetheless.

I remember when I was dating my wife. The divorce venom was coursing through the arteries of our life. Things were difficult, trying, and just plain crazy. I told her my daughter comes first. Frustrated – but understanding – she said to me with tears in her eyes, “I wouldn’t love you so much if you didn’t feel that way.”

My daughter as first priority was non-negotiable. She wouldn’t have loved me as much even if my values put her on a higher pedestal. She was on the fast-track to marriage.

I am married to the most beautiful woman in all the world. While stunningly gorgeous to the sight, she would look the same to me were I blind. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever met. Her heart encompasses my own as well as my daughter’s… with room to spare.

My daughter cried throughout our Wedding Ceremony, showing an emotional maturity far exceeding the mere 9 years of her life. They get along great, and there is real love, all around.

I am blessed by the women in my life. Yes, I am referring to my 9 year old daughter as a Little Woman. She has grown into the title with beauty, dignity, and grace..

In the mornings I set my alarm to a few minutes before 6:00 AM. To get to school on time, we need to be out the door at 7:30, at the latest. Last week I awoke at 7:00 AM, in a sheer panic. When I came into the kitchen there was my daughter, dressed, and having made herself a bowl of cereal for breakfast. She made me a bowl as well, and was getting the spoons when I first saw her.

“Hi dad!” she said.

My Little Woman.

I am a lucky man. I owe this largely to these amazing women in my life.

It’s Never Enough

It’s never enough just to love, for love is fickle.

It’s never enough just to embrace, for we must also tickle.

It’s never enough to think it’s enough – for beyond the perimeter of possibilities is satisfaction – lying in wait.

It’s never enough to do your best: The one who didn’t do it would have done it better.

Satisfaction is like a helmet of gnats. Impossible to pinpoint, it makes you uncomfortable, and you never feel ownership.

The puppy is cute. She’s adorable in fact. If she could just learn to signal when she needs to go outside that would be great. Cleaning up is tedious and gross. Just let me know, Babe. I’ll take you out. Of course, I could just take her out every 15 minutes. That would work. That would also work wonders destroying my life, and the ownership of said life which I desperately attempt to maintain. But do we ever really own our lives?

Father Gene said: Until you give your time you don’t own your time.

I am trying to own up to that philosophy, but I have no time to give. It is all owned by ‘the others’… who scarf it up like pilgrims to land.

I would gladly give my life for the people I love. This became apparent – like a softball sized tumor – during The Divorce. The divorce process was one of complete disillusionment. I don’t know if anybody can really appreciate what it is to go through a custodial divorce. All I ever cared about was my child. I would do anything for her, but the cards were all tainted. They still are.

The hardest thing to convey was my experience – as the mother of my daughter – and the primary caregiver for the first 6 years of her life. Twice a week I would be in the stands during swim team practices, just me and the other moms. Every Saturday I would take her to dance class and sit outside and chat with the other moms. On Sundays we would go to church – just the two of us – for years before the divorce began. I would wait outside after school – with the other moms – for the bell. Then my beautiful daughter would come running to me. I would pick her up in the air, and we were elated to see each other. On nice days I would bring her to the park. There she would run, climb and swing. I stood watching and occasionally helping her along, alongside the other mothers.

I love my job but it doesn’t pay. It does have a flexible schedule which allowed me to spend all this time with my daughter. While I will never get the time back, it is part of my permanent karmic record of devotional love.

Unfortunately, the courts don’t care. They didn’t even want to see it. I asked the GAL to speak to all these people – professionals – whose lives intertwined with my daughter. I gave them all the contacts, but they actively ignored them. Meanwhile, I was spending 9 out of 14 days without my daughter. She was suffering, and it was apparent. I could only hope to heal her suffering by keeping the battle subdued. I did my best, but the vortex spun a life of it’s own.

It was clear to me that a father’s place is at work. The mother’s job is to bring up the child. I had defied this norm, and was told by The Powers That Be: Too bad. Go out and make more money so you can pay more child support. That is my function. This was the pill I needed to swallow, but it got caught in my throat and I spit it out. The legal system has no right to keep me from my child. No matter how twisted she may be, I have no right to keep her from her mother. Why isn’t my parenting time valued – more than custodial contributions – by the courts? The courts emphasis should be a battery of tests to find out about parental emotional stability. That is all. If there isn’t a problem, then custody should be shared equally. In fact, even if a child might perform better in school living with one parent, this is mutable. Placing emphasis on things outside the home to decide ‘best-interest’ custody is just a venom-spewing, bloodsucking, demonic modus operandi. It is like having an affair to decide whether to stay married. The parents are the authority. When the courts take parental authority – including equal time – away from parents, it is inherently bias and the antithesis of child-advocacy.

Any system which values the money a father can give to the mother, in lieu of the love and attention the father gives to his child, is nothing short of perverse.


Hello world!

First off, I need to throw in The Great Disclaimer: Everything I write is for entertainment purposes only. The words parlayed only reflect possible real-life scenarios, and not actual events. These are merely thoughts which careen – clanging, loudly at times – around the skull of my conscience. Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. That being said, I do own the words. I own them insofar as they themselves cannot be stolen. Spewed, repeated, regurgitated for sure, but the lunacy is mine alone. I am king of this court. Visitors cannot infer proprietorship to these oozing conceptual drippings

Life is wild: Though slow and draining, it is a whirlwind until you close your eyes. Then it’s all over.

Don’t blink.

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