Thoughts of My Gram

 

It’s strange sometimes the things that can remind you of someone, a person that may not have crossed your mind for a long time or had a reason to think about.  A song, a place, an article of clothing or a certain type of food. The most arbitrary of catalyst triggering remembrance.

A few days ago I looked out at an extremely crowded waiting room at work and thought about my grandmother, passed about twenty years now.  I looked out at the mass of people, turned to the student that was shadowing me, and remarked that “they must be giving away something for nothing here.”  It was a line that my grandmother used whenever we would pull into a parking lot that contained more than a handful of cars.  As a child I found it much more humorous than the student seemed to.

She lived farther away from us than either of my children’s grandparents now do, but was an important figure in my life growing up.  Summers meant vacations at their house. A week solo for myself, one for my brother, and then a week when we were both there. This time was spent working in their garden, swimming in the only privately owned pool that I knew of, and watching old episodes of Get Smart and Batman using a new innovation in technology called “cable television.”  It was also a time for reading, hours spent in silence as we lay across her bed in silence, each privately engrossed in whatever novel currently had our attention.

 

thinking of gram
sorry ladies, I did some cropping

 

My girls are very fortunate to have two grandmothers and a grampy that are very involved in their lives, as are my brother’s twins.  When she was younger a grandfather that has since passed was a very important role model in the teenager’s life and I sometimes wonder if she may have avoided a few of the pitfalls that she has stumbled into if that influence was still with her.

Over the past few years several very close friends of mine have been confronted with their parent’s mortality. Passage for some, ongoing fights for health continuing for others.  It’s something that’s painful to consider, but a reality that we all must one day face. One more reminder to cherish every day that we have with those that we love.

I think that recent thoughts of my grandmother may have been subliminally influenced by this picture, taken to commemorate the little’s first 100 days of kindergarten.  It’s meant to depict what she will look like at 100 years old. My daughter absolutely hates it, but I think it’s hysterical.  It also kind of reminds me of somebody.

 

looking like gram
a little bit freaky

 

 

 

 

Stick to Your Own Bedrooms

 

The Fetish Fair Fleamarket was held this weekend at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, hosted by the New England Leather Alliance. Billed as the largest and lowest costing event for the BDSM community in New England, the two day event brought thousands of people into town, as well as vendors, workshops, guest speakers and presentations.  The ballroom was converted into a fully equipped dungeon.

This being my weekend to work I was unable to attend the party (not the only reason) but if any of my readers were there I hope you stayed safe and had fun.

If any of my readers were among those protesting, trying to drive the event out of town, I’d like to know why?  Held twice a year at rotating sites, the Fetish Fair Fleamarket is thought to bring a million dollars in revenue to local businesses in the towns where it is held. The entire hotel is rented and nobody without a ticket bought in advance is admitted.  Nudity is not allowed in the lobby or any other areas where a perv with a telescopic lens ( teenage boys ) might be able to observe from off premises.  Private security as well as the local police are hired and rules of conduct strictly enforced. I understand if this isn’t something that you would like to participate in, but why care if others do?

One place that the event won’t ever be held is  Attleborro, a town where a similar party was once raided by police for being in violation of “chastity, morality, decency, and good order.”  Who deemed themselves  worthy of making this determination is unclear, but one woman was subsequently arrested for “assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.” Her crime was spanking another woman across the buttocks with a wooden spatula.

 

Mind Your Own
memoires dun Flagellant de Marque

 

Also held this weekend was the 2007 NBA All Star Game. Originally scheduled to be played in Charlotte, the game and it’s surrounding festivities were moved to New Orleans as a response to North Carolina’s ban on local ordinances that sought to extend protections for members of the LGBT community.  It was a big loss for Charlotte. The 2004 game in New Orleans generated 106.1 million dollars in economic impact and 60.4 million in direct spending.

It was an unprecedented statement for a major sports league, but also a great example of what to do if you object to what is happening somewhere.  Don’t go.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that it is a violation of the 14th amendment to bar consensual sex of any kind between adults, a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books.  Oral sex is illegal in 18 states, although in Kansas and Kentucky it is OK if you are straight.  Many of you may not be quite the law abiding citizen you once believed yourself to be.

Isn’t it time that we as a society started minding our own damn business?  I’m not particularly interested in S & M, but Fifty Shades Darker has earned 92.8 million dollars in the last eleven days, so some of you are intrigued.  I’ve never engaged in homosexual activity, but I’ve also never been propositioned by Tom Hardy.

 

Mind Your Own Business
youre welcome ladies

 

Here’s a list of the people that should have a say in what goes on in my bedroom : my wife.  That’s it, short list, and I’ll afford you the same courtesy.  Is it too much to ask for everyone else to expect the same?

 

 

 

 

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Next Generation Speedster

 

No matter how long you’ve know somebody or how close you may believe yourselves to be, there are always some things about each other that you may not realize.  Beliefs, idiosyncrasies, fears.  Any number of surprises waiting to be discovered.  Over the past year many of us were faced with the reality of good friends, even family in some cases, that we were much farther apart from politically than ever before imagined.

My wife recently learned something new about me.  Not really a secret, nothing intentionally kept from her, but a skill that she had never seen me demonstrate in all of our years together.  She found out that I’m a kick ass roller skater.

Some of you are probably laughing right now, and I understand that. This beer belly doesn’t exactly scream athleticism and most days my gait is closer to Fred Sanford than Scott Hamilton.

It may also be that you are too young to understand, coming of age in an era that gave you a wider variety of things to do on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.  If that’s the case, you probably didn’t understand the Fred Sanford reference.  You probably don’t know what it means to “shoot the duck” or ever bruised a tailbone showing off to Van Halen’s “Jump.”  Your first taste of romance probably wasn’t holding a sweaty hand while couple’s skating to Journey or REO Speedwagon.

If you did, then you understand how cool this makes me.  How impressive that after a twenty five year hiatus I was able to lace ’em up and not completely embarrass myself, only falling down once during the three times we’ve gone these past two weeks and not severely injuring myself.

Alaina’s first attempt at following me down this road to awesomeness wasn’t overly successful but I didn’t push her to continue trying as much as I may have another day.  As much as I sympathized with the parent’s trying to hold a winter birthday party on Super Bowl Sunday and appreciated that it was held several hours before kickoff, I deemed the risk of an afternoon in Emergency Care too great.  Everybody seemed content with cake and the video game options available at the facility so I let it go.

 

Secret Skill
not quite ready to borrow my keys

 

She, however, was not.  With yet another birthday party looming at the same place the following weekend, I wasn’t at all surprised that only a few hours later she was asking if we would be able to go back and practice before then.  For my local readers, Tri-State Speedway in Dudley, Mass has a rink that is much slower than the one in Plainfield, as well as a go kart track, bumper cars, mini golf and a large soft play obstacle course.  As an added bonus, there is a sports bar attached. It was the perfect place to refine her skills.

 

An Unknown Skill
the face of determination

 

The practice paid off, as it usually does.  She still wasn’t comfortable hitting the hardwood without assistance, but the kid was doing some serious cruising and had to be coerced off the track when it was time for pizza.  Once again, she made this dad proud.

 

getting the hang of it

 

There aren’t any more skating parties in the near future, but she’s asking to go back.  It’s a great way to get some exercise during these last few cold months and one of our jobs as parents is to pass along our knowledge and skills.  Its also more fun than I should probably admit whipping around and reliving my youth.  I just need these blisters to heal first.

 

 

JENerally Informed

 

DIY Daddy Blog

Hopes for a Happy Valentine’s Day

 

I had a weird moment at the store today.  As I was paying for the cards and flowers I had belatedly picked up for the girls, ( I didn’t forget, they were just all with me this weekend ) the young man behind the counter gave me a wink and a nod, smiling as if we shared some private joke.  It wasn’t until I was halfway home that I realized that everything I had purchased was in quantities of three.  I’m fairly certain the young cad had misidentified me as a fellow player, multiple women in my life expecting attention on this day devoted to love.

There was a time when things may have been closer to his presumed interpretation.  Days when Valentine’s was among the holidays I made sure to work, not wanting to have to decide who I was spending it with.  A time when I was more concerned with staying friends with someone after my “three month rule” had been reached than with actually treating them overly well during that allotted three months. I wrote recently about not being very popular for a stretch of years. The next chapter in that story is a decade of overcompensation for that. Years when I was kind of a dick, to be honest.

 

 

Those days are far behind me now.  As flattering as it may have been for this kid to think that I could still pull off these types of maneuvers, I have no interest in proving him right. I’m still juggling multiple women and trying to keep too many at a time happy, but I’m related to them all now.

My concerns these days are different, no longer concerned with who I am buying for, but how much.  Last year Baby Cupid brought baskets of presents, but I’m willing to concede that may have been a little ridiculous. I settled on absurdly priced cards and flowers, an older movie for each of the kids, and a New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship T-shirt for my wife, leaving them strategically placed as I headed off to work.

 

 

Was that enough?  Of course not.  This is why I struggle with this “holiday” every year.  Twelve years ago my wife inadvertently started changing me into a different person.  A better man.  All three of them continue to push me down that road daily. How many chocolates is that worth?

Hopefully the girls are happy and know that I love them.  Even more importantly, I hope this is true the other 364 days of the year as well. I hope that young stud at the supermarket gets as lucky as this one did and that one day he’s buying multiple Valentines for a more respectable reason.  I hope when I get home from work tonight my wife is feeling frisky and most importantly, I hope that the shirt fit.

 

 

 

Current Events? ( The State of The Blog 2 )

 

I had a surprising conversation with somebody recently regarding the variety of things that I write about here.  We were discussing my recent renewal of the site for another year and about how hard it can sometimes be to continually find topics that people would be at least somewhat amused by or interested in spending a few minutes of their time reading my opinion of.  I was asked why I didn’t devote more time to current events, a seemingly endless supply of inspiration.

It was surprising because I’ve never really been sure how many people appreciate those types of posts and how many simply tolerate them occasionally.  I’ve had a few private messages and e-mails thanking me for saying things that they felt uncomfortable expressing publicly but also a few of the “stick to parenting” variety.

It’s not a dilemma that is unique to me.  I read a lot of other bloggers in a variety of niches and many of them have written posts very similar to this one over the past several weeks.

My use of the phrase “current events” as opposed to “politics” is intentional.  My focus never on partisan issues, but on those of common sense, compassion, and basic human decency.  I want my country and it’s leadership to exhibit the qualities that I am trying to instill in my daughters. When I feel that they aren’t, there are going to be times when I feel compelled to speak my disapproval. Sometimes the place where I do that will be here.

The truth is that it’s been a very trying time since the new administration took office, every day bringing something new to be disgusted or disappointed by.  A review of immigration and travel policy by a new administration seems reasonable, an immediate ban with no thought to potential consequences or communication with the involved agencies is not.  A Presidential spokesperson urging people to buy the first daughter’s clothing line because she has been “treated unfairly” seems pretty straight forwardly inappropriate. Cabinet appointees that are either woefully unqualified being confirmed by people who’s campaigns her family helped finance and others with blatant conflicts of interest.

The latest hit came just weeks after I read a Rolling Stone expose on “puppy mills”,  horrible farms where dogs are kept and bred under the most despicable conditions.  Apparently Cruella De Vil wasn’t available, but Brian Klippenstein, the man picked to lead the US Department of Agriculture is also the executive director of a group called Protect the Harvest, a lobbying group that believes animals are here for our use and amusement and that regulations protecting them, including those intended to shut down puppy mills, are hurting business interests.  In what is apparently a concerted effort to be as comically villainous as possible, it will soon be easier to torture puppies.

I’m convinced that if Dr Evil was a real person, he would immediately be tapped to head the Federal Reserve.

 

One meeeellion dollars

 

A paranoid person, one that believes in UFOs and vast government conspiracies, might start to wonder if this is all a feint.  That there is no way that this level of lunacy isn’t simply meant to distract us from what is really going on behind the scenes.  That we haven’t been infiltrated by a cabal of supervillains, but rather a group of shady businessmen running the largest con in history. More and more, I find myself beginning to turn into that person.

 

The truth is out there
The truth is out there

 

I’m starting to believe that this entire election was about Russian oil, specifically 60 million acres of land that Exxon Mobile began leasing in 2013.  This is oil that Russia in unable to export without the technical expertise supplied by Exxon Mobile and the reason that they invaded Ukraine in 2014, as a way of securing a pipeline to the Black Sea without paying the heavy taxes that were being levied.

After The United States sanctioned Russia for this invasion, Exxon Mobile could only pump oil from approximately 3 of these 60 million acres. If Donald Trump ends these sanctions there is about a half a trillion dollars to be made.  The CEO of Exxon Mobile at the time of that 2013 deal was a man named Rex Tillerson.  If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he is our new Secretary of State.

Does this mean that we should ignore everything else that is happening? Of course not.  Regardless of my original intentions towards this space, current events have always infiltrated into my postings.  Sometimes, like with the Syrian refugee crisis, there is a parenting connection, my perceptions altered by emphasizing more than I may have previously by those trying to protect their families. Other times, like with the Brock Turner conviction, I simply feel the need to add my voice to those that are outraged.

A year ago I wrote about my inability to “find a niche” or “stay on message.” I imagine that I’ll be writing the same thing around this time next year.

 

 

 

My Random Musings

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms