It’s almost 24 hours after the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon. I’ve spent this time reading about the heroes who emerged immediately. I’ve spent very little time reading about or watching videos of the explosion. I’ve spent this time reading online newspapers and blogs written by runners. They understand the runner’s perspective on this event. So much of what I read is similar to my thoughts that I wondered if I could come up with anything unique to say. While the running community has many things in common, I hope to be able to share my perspective with you.
I was in New York City when they announced the marathon was cancelled. I spent some time being angry and frustrated, but I got over that quickly and became a typical Midwestern tourist for the rest of my trip. What got to me, though, was how non-runners were so angry at us for being disappointed, or for not going to Staten Island and helping with the relief efforts. There were many people who were pissed that thousands of runners showed up in Central Park on Sunday and ran anyway. How could the runners be so heartless when so many people were without power or shelter or food? What they didn’t know was, we were told to stay away from Staten Island because they had too many “helpers” there already. What they didn’t know, or couldn’t understand was, runners of the world unite unlike any other sport. I went to Central Park and witnessed runners from across the world joining together to organize their own marathon. While tragedy stopped the official marathon, it did not stop the runners. The running community came together as one. This community made my disappointment dissolve the moment I saw them there.
Yes, but New York was an “Act of God,” right? Boston is different, right? In many ways, yes, but the response from the running community is the same. Instead of a major weather event, it was a major lunatic who stopped the race. Whoever did this stopped the race, but not the runners. There are stories of runners helping the injured. There are stories of runners going past the finish line and continuing to run until they got to the hospital so they could donate blood. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know how physically difficult that was for them. They had to use their heart to keep running after the finish line. That’s the only way.
What happened to the people who were stopped on the course? I can identify with them because their dream marathon was cut short. I train for marathons all the time. I run even when it’s an “off-season” because I can’t stop running! I run at least two marathons a year and usually around five half-marathons a year. It’s the same training cycle with each marathon. I spend 12 weeks ramping up the miles by running at 7:00 AM on Saturdays, as well as every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not complaining – I love it! As race day approaches, I’m forced to cut back on my miles so I can recover. The lack of running, and the growing anticipation of race day, drives me (and Alana) crazy!
Being at the starting line is the second happiest part of a marathon. It’s pure joy being out there with old friends, new friends, and running friends I’ll meet on the course. The next 26 miles are a blur of gels, hydration, electrolyte depletion, strangers cheering, kids wanting high-fives, runners passing me going uphill and me passing them going downhill. The last two-tenths of the marathon is the best part of any marathon I’ve run. Everyone is cheering you on. People are on the sidelines waiting for a loved one to come down that finish line chute, but they cheer you on anyway. Or at least it feels that way to me. I cross the finish line and, despite the cramping and other pain, I celebrate my accomplishment while limping to find Alana. I limp to find my running team friends, take pictures, and re-hydrate with a beer later in the day. I need this post-marathon routine almost as much as I need to run! The people on the sidelines need to cheer and share in the joy of the finish line almost as much as we need to run.
So what does this have to do with Boston? The bomber attacked the marathon by attacking the friends and family on the sidelines. When they attack our friends and family, they attack us! I shared my marathon running perspective with you so you could understand how important it is to me. I’m not alone in this feeling. I don’t just run with a community of runners, I run in a family of runners. My family just happens to live all over the world and I see them twice a year (or more). The reason I know it’s my family is because we are all thinking the same thing about this tragedy. The lunatic wanted to stop a marathon and kill as many people as possible in the process. He, or they, succeeded in the short run. But, within 24 hours, the marathon family came together to decide that this senseless act of god will not stop us. We will keep running. We will run today to honor the memory of those who lost their lives or were injured yesterday. We will run tomorrow and the next day, and we will show up for the next major marathon (Flying Pig for me) without fear and with a renewed purpose. Our purpose will be to show the people responsible for Boston, and anyone else who thinks violence can control us, that we cannot be controlled or stopped. All you did when you set your bomb was to run away. We run for ourselves. We run for our loved ones. We run for our team. We run for our running family. We run toward hope. We run.
- Boston. (trexrunner.com)
- Boston Heartbreak (jeffpearlman.com)
- Reporter’s Notebook: A Marathon Now Tinged With Tragedy (wbur.org)
As my wedding day approached, I knew I was going to be called on to deliver a toast during the reception. I spent a lot of time coming up with ideas about what I wanted to say and I spent a lot of time surfing the web for what I was supposed to say. Then, I knew I was supposed to say something about my bride and say a little about our life together. Inspiration for the toast came from random moments, but there was a time during a Radiohead concert that a flood of ideas came to me. There was something about listening to their music that opened up my creativity. I spent part of that concert e-mailing myself the ideas that kept popping into my head.
While I wrote a speech and converted that into an outline for what I wanted to say, there were many things I thought of and added while I was up there. I guess the pressure helps with my creativity. Anyway, here’s the speech:
“I’d like to thank everyone for coming and sharing our special day. Thank all those who traveled so far to be here with us today, including my brother Mark & his wife Marla who came all the way from China. They came a week early with their three children and got them re-acclimated to the eastern time zone. I really appreciate that you’re here.
I’d like to thank Bill & Sharon for giving me their daughter’s hand in marriage. You did an excellent job raising her. Well, I’m sure you did the best you could.”
I’d like to thank my sons, Nick, Alex, and Stephen for being groomsmen. Thank you for making Alana feel so welcomed by you.
I chose Doug to be my best man because he was available. Seriously, he is always there for me. He will drop everything and help me when I need it. He helped me get my first job. He worked at an RV and camper sales place as the mechanic and I washed the campers.
I’d like to thank Danielle for agreeing to be the matron of honor. You did an excellent job of getting Alana down the aisle in one piece. We know how hard that was! Thank you to all the bridesmaids for being such good friends to Alana and for accepting me as quickly and completely as you did. Please raise your glass in a toast to the heath and happiness of the bridesmaids.
Alana and I clicked right away. I quickly found out that she was as sarcastic and irreverent as I am. On our first date we went to Go Bananas. Being with her that night felt so natural it was like we belonged together. I’ve never been flipped off so much on a first date. What I have learned since then is, when she flips me off, I just won the argument! Seven months after that first date, on our vacation to Aruba, I asked her to marry me. I’ll always remember it was July 4th because immediately after asking her, fireworks exploded in the sky. I didn’t plan it that way, but I’ll take credit for it anyway.
Being so loved and accepted by her has given me the freedom to be myself and actually figure out who I really am. And, apparently, I’m a sick bastard! I have become her clown just so I can see her smile and hear her laugh every day. We have so many inside jokes now, don’t we? Just so many! We have different backgrounds, different religious and political affiliations, different ages, but we respect each other enough to make that not matter. As for our age difference, my immaturity level makes us even. As fas as politics, I let her have an autographed Hillary Clinton campaign poster on the wall in her office and she lets with me have an 8×10 photo of Ronald Reagan in the garage. On a shelf. Behind the weed killer. As for religion, I tried teaching her how to make the sign of the cross but when she did it, it looked like she was giving me the sign to steal second base! So it’s our respect for each other’s differences that makes us work.
To my beautiful wife – I couldn’t be happier to call you that – I love you and I will be your clown for as long as I live. Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to my beautiful bride.”
The rest of the night was a blur. I had a great time seeing everyone who could come. We had a great time dancing and drinking and celebrating. I would do it again if we could afford it! We’ll have time to celebrate every day for a long, long time.
Any adult who still thinks they can have “sweet dreams” is dreaming! I woke up at 6:00 this morning due to the weirdest dream I’ve had in a long time, and I’ve had some doozies! This one involved a bunch of my family and extended family gathering at the house I grew up in, only this was a newer and improved house. I never went inside because the weirdness was outside. I saw a nephew, who I haven’t seen in a few years, riding a bicycle with his girlfriend. I don’t even know if he has a girlfriend, but she was pretty. I saw a few old friends from the neighborhood, and my brother who currently lives in China was there. So far, this doesn’t seem weird.
I was outside carving some weird meat that turned into jello when you tried to put in on a plate. So I found these jello glasses to put it in and my friend thought that was really smart, so he stole my serving. I don’t like jello, in fact I hate jello! I love alcohol but not when it’s put in a jello shot! I won’t touch it then. This weird meat was coming from some unidentifiable animal that was still alive and didn’t mind that we were carving it up. Then, for some reason, this animal turned into a dog with a really bad grooming job with patchy fur all over his body. I asked my friend what to do and he said I would have to kill it by breaking its neck. That’s when I woke up!
Where the fuck did that come from??? I can understand the family part of it since I’ll be seeing a lot of them at my wedding next month. Alana is having stress dreams about the wedding, which makes sense. But everything that happened after I saw my nephew doesn’t exist in the real world! How is that shit even in my brain to be processed? So I did what every person who has been freaked out by a dream would do – I went to google “dream interpretation.” There were 19,100,000 results returned in 0.12 seconds. I guess I’m not the only person having weird dreams!
My first attempt to interpret this was to find out what dreaming about a dog means. This particular dog was black. What I found was, “To see a black colored dog in your dream symbolizes the shadow aspect of a friend. The dark side of someone close to you is being revealed and you are able to see through to their true intentions.” I’m on to you, Alana! I can see your true intentions, I think. It was a small dog. What I found was, “To dream of small dogs, indicates that your thoughts and chief pleasures are of a frivolous order.” Yeah, that’s pretty true.
I didn’t spend too much time on this, but I couldn’t find anything about what it means to kill a dog. So I got curious and wondered what they had to say about killing cats. There was no shortage of interpretations here! My favorite was, “To dream of a cat, denotes ill luck, if you do not succeed in killing it or driving it from your sight. But if you succeed in banishing it, you will overcome great obstacles and rise in fortune and fame.” Killing dogs – bad. Killing cats – money!
My next stop was to find out what dreaming about friends and family means. I went back to the dreaming dictionary to the “F” page and found an entry for facebook! If you’re dreaming about facebook, you might want to log off for a while! Then, there was a banner ad featuring the face of Barack Obama right next to the entries for “Fairy Tale”, “Faithless”, and “Fake”. Moving on. For family, we have “To see your own family in your dream represents security, warmth and love. It could also symbolize bitterness, jealousy, or rivalry, depending on your relationship with your family.” Jesus, that’s just no help at all!
Scrolling down, there is an entry for “Farting.” ”To dream that you are farting suggests that you are being passive aggressive. You need to express your feelings in a more direct manner. ” I’m pretty sure my farts are in a very direct manner! ”Feminine Napkin” – “Please see Maxi Pad.” Finally, down to “Friends” I found, “to see your childhood friend suggests that you have been acting in a childish manner. You need to start acting like an adult.” I sense a pattern now! My dream was trying to tell me I’m childish and frivolous! I think I’ll go with that and forget about the whole dog thing. I like being childish and frivolous! Now, it’s time for my second cup of coffee. I don’t want to go back to sleep!
I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18. They are all now legal adults! Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago. They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives. I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them. So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud. I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!
When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life. They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.
Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:
Laughter is the best medicine. When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead! Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity. I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service. Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay.
Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not. I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Don’t let pride get in your way. There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.
Love women just the way they are. I love women! I have more female friends than male friends! Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).
Learn how to work a room. At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”
Handle your finances wisely. Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it!
Love yourself. There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself. You will do something you’re ashamed of. You are not alone – this is human nature. As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life. When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again. Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are. Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are. Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them. Loving yourself lets you love others freely.
Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.
You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.
If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.
Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.
The people who know me casually see me as someone who would seem quite normal. I don’t throw off this weird vibe (at least I don’t think I do). I tend to blend in and mirror the crowd I’m with. When I’m with people who want to have the usual “hi, how ya doin’” kind of conversation, I can small talk with the best of them. When I’m with a group of friends ready to party, I can party with the best of them. I guess I’m saying that the conversation I’m having in my head can be filtered and used for good, not evil. Sometimes, the evil slips out. I’ve been told that I tend to say whatever is on my mind without filtering it. That’s true now, but that’s not always been the case. I don’t always say everything I’m thinking. That would make my cloak of invisibility fall off and you would see how much of a nut job I really am!
When I was a young boy, I was surrounded by a large, loud family. I’m talking 13 kids, two parents, four cats, one dog kind of large, loud family! My only hope to survive was to observe how the older siblings got into trouble and I tried to do the opposite. That worked out until I was the older brother in the house. I found new ways to get into trouble! I figured out that the less my dad heard, the better off we all were. You could haul off and smack your brother in the head, make him cry, and Dad would come in and yell at the kid crying! I experienced this phenomenon from both sides. It was bizarre being the one making someone cry and then sitting there while Dad yelled at them. He gave a cursory yell at the offender, but the loud one was the one who was really in trouble. So I learned that quiet is good and keeps you out of trouble.
The problem with this is, you really can become invisible in a group if all you do is observe without adding to the conversation. It took me a long time to become more vocal in group settings. Even so, I’m not the most talkative or loudest of the bunch. When I’m with a group of friends, there’s usually one person who dominates the conversation. They can be loud and boisterous and make people laugh at how silly they are. That will never be my style. I will sit there and pay attention and laugh when appropriate. There comes a time in every conversation like this where something pops into my head that may or may not be appropriate to share. When I do share, and it gets a laugh, I learn that sometimes the weird thoughts in my head can be appreciated by others. I’ll never tell a “guy walks into a bar” joke, or clown around in a crowd. There’s too much of the “quiet keeps you safe” in me to be that guy.
At home with Alana, it’s a different story. Here, I have an audience of one and she’s a great audience! She loves the silly! I can be a clown with her. Everything I do that makes her laugh has to be repeated so she can laugh again. After being with her for over a year, I could record a “best of” album of my greatest moments in silly! When the wedding planning began, and we had to go meet professional photographers, DJs, and the Rabbi, she saw my professional persona for the first time. This is the persona I try to maintain at work, though I’m not always successful with that. She was surprised at how “serious” I was in those meetings. I just explained that’s just how I am in those situations. I can’t be myself in every situation. So, she gets to see all the crazy that’s inside my head because she loves that shit.
The battle in my brain is ongoing. If you’ve been lucky enough (cursed enough) to be on the receiving end of a snarky comment on facebook, you’re welcome. You’ve experienced the unfiltered version of me. The other me, the quiet me sitting on the sidelines is having an unbelievable conversation with myself! I really need one of those cartoon thought bubbles hovering over my head. On second thought, that would be really dangerous to your well-being! It’s in your best interest that I not say everything I’m thinking. I’m not really being quiet to protect me, I’m being quiet to protect you!
It’s officially “Holiday Season.” For me, that means many things, none of which are normal! First, we have Thanksgiving. For you, that means a day off filled with family you may or may not like. If you’re the host of this gathering, you have to get up early to get ready. Then, you get to clean it all up and fall into bed wishing you had spent the day at work! For me, it means a day off that begins with a 10K and ends quietly at home with the woman I love. In between, it’s filled with football, naps, and Facebook.
I have had Thanksgivings filled with family. As a child, we had to have a “kids table” for our own family! We didn’t need to invite extended family to fill the house. I liked helping Mom make the stuffing because it involved tearing up stale bread. As an adult, I found a recipe for White Castle Stuffing, so I had to make that! It was awesome! When I clean and prep the turkey, it comes to life as I thrust my hand into the cavity and make him dance. I never understood why the include the neck, but it was always a source of “R Rated” fun. Carving the turkey starts with such precision and ends with a plate of shredded meat yanked off the bone. Patience is not my strong suit.
The Thanksgiving conversations remind me of a first date. They’re always so polite and safe and no one really says anything. You haven’t seen some of these people since last Thanksgiving! If they’re on Facebook, they should know what the hell you’ve been up to so why do they always start with, “so what’s new with you?” Some families have the drunken uncle at the table who will say just about anything. Sometimes, I’m that uncle!
The first year after my divorce, my brother Carl invited me to his house for Thanksgiving. I went and had a nice meal, but it was awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t meant to offend him, I just felt like I was an intruder and not a guest. Every year after that, I was either happily alone or in someone’s house trying to find a comfortable chair. You can’t do a seat check in an away game!
I won’t even mention how much I hate using the away bathroom! (I guess I just did.) First there’s the lock that I’m never sure if it actually locks the door. Then, I have to turn on the fan to drown out the god awful noise that I’m about to unleash! Time to wash my hands. What the hell kind of soap is this? I just want clean hands – I don’t want to smell like a tropical rain forest! We top it all off by trying to figure out which towel I’m supposed to use. I’d almost rather be using the gas station’s bathroom at this point!
My current tradition with my sons is to take them out for pizza on Friday. We get to hang out and I don’t have to clean up. If I do decide to host another Thanksgiving, it’s going to include drinking games and Survivor style competitions where one family member after another gets eliminated from my house. I’ll leave the Feats of Strength for Festivus.
I’m writing this using my laptop attached to my desktop widescreen high def monitor, while using a wireless keyboard and mouse. Basically, I’ve turned my laptop into my temporary desktop. Why, you ask? Because for the last time, my PC hard drive crashed! I’ve been a huge proponent of all things Microsoft for my entire life. I have installed every version of Windows (except Vista because that version really, really sucked) since the first version of Windows. I know how to replace and/or upgrade RAM. I know how to add or replace hard drives. I know how to replace video cards, sound cards, floppy drives, CD/DVD drives and I know how to connect to the internet without a wireless network adapter! In fact, I know the sound a modem makes when it tries connecting to A-O-fucking-L!! I’m that old and I’m that deeply tied to the Microsoft Windows world.
Two days ago, my PC started acting buggy. My Garmin watch that I wear when I run has a cradle that uploads my runs while it charges the watch. It refused to upload to the software. Then I downloaded an update to the software, but that was no help. After I downloaded a new music collection from Spin Magazine, it required that I open iTunes. I tried that, but nothing happened. So, I did what every good IT guy tells you to do – I rebooted! Then the fun began. My computer rebooted to a black screen with no cursor or anything. It just sat there mocking me. Of course, I just turned it off and tried again. I think I heard laughter as my hard drive slowed to a stop, then started again to another black screen.
Of course the next step was to start in Safe Mode, so I tried that. I wondered if anyone else compared Safe Mode with Safe Sex while I waited for my condom covered PC to boot up. The funny thing was, the condom worked so well that it prevented the keyboard and mouse from penetrating it! The computer shut down the keyboard and rendered it useless! So I thought, maybe it’s the fact that it’s wireless and I just need to buy a wired version. The next day, I went to Office Depot and spent $30 on the cheapest version I could find. I came home, plugged it in, and was thrilled to see the mouse work again! Until it didn’t!! I then endured one reboot after another as I sat and watched the light on the keyboard that told me it worked only until the computer said “fuck you, go away” as the light of my hopes and dreams went out.
Surely the System Recovery disks that came with the computer will work, right? Wrong! What about the Windows 7 installation disk – I’ll just boot it up from the CD drive. Nope! Every time I had an option to do something, my PC took away the keyboard and mouse and refused my advances! I was more frustrated than a virgin at a nymphomaniac convention! After hours of watching my PC reboot and reboot and reboot until it could reboot no more, I gave up. I pulled the hard drive thinking I would just go and buy a new one.
Then I started doing the math. $150 for a 1 TB drive. $200 for a new Windows 7 disk (the one I had was an upgrade version which required an earlier version). So, $350 later, I’m stuck with a 4-year-old PC with 2GB of RAM and a processor that is several generations old. I looked online at PCs and found that I could find a good replacement for $500 if I was willing to buy a computer with a processor that was just 3 generations old. Granted, they come with a 1 TB drive, but I have that in an external drive.
Finally, on a whim, I looked at the Apple Store. You have to understand how ludicrous I thought that time-wasting move was! I have refused to buy iPods and iPhones. I’ve become an advocate for Droid since they came out. Even knowing that my oldest son helped put himself through college by working at the Apple Store didn’t sway my opinion. I am a PC through and through! But then those bastards started reeling me in! I found the Mac mini and its tiny silver box. I found an operating system called Lion. A lion is much more interesting than a window! I found a mouse that operates as if you were touching the screen of an iPad. I found that spending an extra $300 will buy me a desktop solution that will also act as a High Def media center that I can hook up to my HD TV if I want to.
Ten text messages to my son later, I was sold. I’m getting a MAC! I remember introducing my kids to the computer. They seemed to learn very quickly how to use a mouse and find the programs they wanted to use on the PC. Now, my kids are leading the way. My oldest son just bought a top of the line iMac while my other two kids use either an iMac or a MacBook. My preferred music library organizer has been iTunes for a long time. Alana has an iPad she lets me touch occasionally (insert pun here). I guess $300 more than I planned to spend is worth it if it teaches me how to spell everything with a lower case i followed by a capital letter.
Many times in my life, I’ve been presented with challenges that would kill a normal person. By kill, I mean make them freak out and obsess about what is happening to them. I have been guilty of this, but it’s usually the petty, small stuff that sets me off (traffic lights turning red just as I’m approaching makes me curse the light’s very existence, for example). The big stuff has no visible effect on me.
If you were to watch me react when I got the phone call telling me Dad died, you would have thought it was a call telling me you made meatloaf for dinner. Even though his death was expected, it was still an unwelcome phone call in the middle of my work day. I took the news, internalized it, and went back to work. I didn’t know what else to do at that moment. I told my supervisor at the end of the day about the phone call and he was shocked that I didn’t just pack up and leave for the next few days.
I have had other moments in life that challenged me. I’ve had to endure IRS agents, a head-on collision while driving a Mazda Miata, the death of both parents, divorce (especially challenging was telling my kids), losing a job, and on and on.
I need time to process “lemon giving” moments in life. I am a problem solver, so I need time to analyze, evaluate, and solve the problem. I used to live with a woman who freaked out constantly because I wasn’t solving my problems on her timetable. When I’m faced with something I just can’t solve, I put it aside and keep living my life as normally as possible. As I go about my day distracting myself from the problem at hand, you may wonder why I’m not freaking out constantly. I freak out internally and find something to do that helps take my mind off of the problem. By doing this, I always come up with a way to solve the problem. The solution is never apparent during the freak out stage. It always comes to me during a calm moment.
While I do go about my problem solving in a very internal and personal way, I rely on family and friends to help me – if only to distract me. When I’m with someone and we’re enduring the same stress (bad service at a restaurant, waiting in line endlessly, watching the Reds lose again), I love it when the other person freaks out for me! I get to laugh and make fun of the stress when the other person complains! Let’s face it – if they didn’t freak out, I’d have to do it for them!
On my FAQ post, the responses were mainly about my smile. I thought I’d try and share with you some of the most memorable encounters I’ve had with people due to my smile.
As a kid, it was a non-issue for my friends and family. It was just how I smiled. It was a part of me that made me unique. I had a few negative experiences, one of which comes readily to mind. It was easy to find people to play a baseball game in the Presbyterian Church field. It wasn’t really a baseball diamond – we just made it that way. One day, after months and months of my ignoring this kid who kept calling me “crooked lip,” I cracked and called him by his middle name. He threw down his glove and came toward me ready to kick my ass. I stood my ground and said, “You’ve been calling me “crooked lip” for a long time and I didn’t do anything about it. This is the first time I called you by the name your parents gave you and you want to fight me? That’s pathetic!” He backed down, walked back to his position and never talked to me again.
When I was younger, my mom sent us to the Fraser’s house while she was at the hospital delivering babies (I think it was Carl but it could have been Mark & Martie). All I know is that I was standing up in the rope swing hanging from the Fraser’s tree. My brother, Doug came out and decided to spin me around. I guess when I yelled “STOP” he heard “SPIN FASTER!” I couldn’t hold on and I flew face first onto the sidewalk. To make a long story short, I broke my nose and I lost about 5 baby teeth. The rushed me to the hospital and I ended up needing surgery to put my face back together. The first thing I found out about after I got out of the hospital was that Mr. & Mrs. Fraser wanted to make sure my smile wasn’t ruined! I thought that was really weird at the time, but now it’s a fond memory.
While in boot camp in the Army, I met people from all across the country. This was my first experience meeting a large group of new people who I thought must have seen my smile as an oddity. No one said anything or asked about it until one day, with a big grin on his face, a fellow soldier gave me a nickname. He said, “I’m going to call you Turnip.” When I asked why, he said, “Because your lip turns up when you smile!” I laughed hard at that one!
Since then, there have been random strangers asking me about it. As I age, people have started asking me when I had my stroke. I just tell them I was born with it and that’s the end of the conversation. One time recently, I was sitting at a bar. Next to me was a guy with a hearing aid who seemed roughly my age. We started talking and it turns out that he was an artilleryman for the Army and we both served at Fort Benning,Georgia. He couldn’t stop thanking me for my service to the country. I assumed his hearing aids were the result of blowing shit up. Out of the blue, he said “what happened to your face, did you have some kind of a heart attack?” After briefly considering laughing and correcting him that he meant to ask about my stroke, I just told him about the forceps.
It’s really a non-issue for me. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. It hasn’t stopped me from landing a job, making friends, or having children. Actually, that reminds me. There were a few times while holding a toddler (mine or a niece or nephew), that they would inevitably try to mimic my smile. It made me laugh every time!
Everyone has something that makes them unique. Lucky for me, mine also makes me awesome!
Yes, now stop making me think about my parents having sex!
What number are you?
I’m the 9th kid and the 4th son. While not technically the “middle child,” 9 out of 14 is close enough.
What was it like having such a big family?
Yeah, but you always had someone to play with, right?
And we always had someone to fight with too! During the blizzard of 1978, I spent more time at Shawn & Craig Honnerlaw’s house than my own. I walked through a blizzard with snow drifts taller than I was in order to keep myself from going crazy at home.
You guys could have fielded your own basketball team!
If by team you mean unathletic, uncoordinated people who were 5 feet 5 inches tall on average, then you are correct!
What did your dad do? Did your mom work?
My dad drank. A lot. For money, he worked as an accountant. We weren’t allowed to discuss money so I didn’t know how much he made until he co-signed my student loan. In 1984, he made $45,000. That’s roughly $93,000 in today’s money, so he didn’t do too badly. The house was paid off, so that helped. Mom worked during my teen years, but only as a way to stay sane. She could get drunk on less than one beer.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the metropolis of Wilmington,Ohio. It’s located about 45 minutes from Tri-County and 45 minutes from the Dayton Mall. I always stopped at Dingleberry’s whenever I went to Dayton Mall. First, I went there because of their prices and selection of albums. Beginning the summer before my senior year in high school, I shopped more towards the front of the store.
Wilmington, huh? Did you live on a farm?
Fuck you and the stereotype you rode in on! Small town America isn’t all farms! I spent a summer detasseling corn, which was pretty damn tiring. I made good money, but I learned I’m not cut out for that kind of work! I think our house was the farm house before they built the Southridge subdivision, but that was before our time.
Are you married? Do you have any kids?
I got married at 20 and divorced at 35. We have three sons, 23, 20, and 17. I was married for 15 years and I’ve been divorced for 15 years! I love my kids and I’ve remained active in their lives. I don’t think I’ve been active enough, but they turned out to be extremely well adjusted, productive members of society. Remaining friends with their mother may have helped with that, but I’ll give her the credit she deserves.
Are you seeing anyone now?
In the 15 years since I’ve been divorced, I spent 6 years being the King of the One-Night Stand. I didn’t want to be in a relationship because, if I did, it would have been a horrible idea. I spent the next 7 years trying to be in a relationship with a woman who had two young children. That ended after many years of me trying to help raise her kids while she was their mother and also an expert in early childhood education. I was a fool to even disagree with her! I then spent about 6 months alone until I met the woman I love who wants to be the next Mrs. Whittenburg despite all warnings to the contrary! She’s like the character in the horror movie that makes you yell at the screen “DON’T GO UPSTAIRS!!!” She never listens, she goes upstairs anyway, and she dies a horrible death. Whittenburg men (with a few exceptions, maybe), don’t make the best husbands.
Why do you smile like that?
Like what? Like Two-Face from Batman? Like Sylvester Stallone? Like this? - http://www.chacha.com/question/when-you-have-a-crooked-smile,-what-does-that-mean-about-your-personality
My smile is a byproduct of a doctor using forceps to help speed up the delivery while I was being born. He severed the nerve that controls the right side of my face. I can’t raise my right eyebrow or the right side of my smile. The great thing about that is when I think I’m raising my eyebrows, I look like I’m intentionally raising just the left eyebrow. That trick comes in handy sometimes!
Are you really as awesome as you seem?
No! I’m way more awesome than that!
Is this the last question you’re willing to answer today?
Yes it is. Please use the comment section below if you want to know more.