Category: sentimental stuff

Transitions and Hope

My twins, Bryson and Holland, applied to college this week.  Bryson to Jacksonville University where he will play soccer, and Holland to Florida Atlantic University and Florida State University.  I assisted, to the extent they permitted, them in writing their admissions essays, and reviewed the final products.  It was a revealing process, but not in the way I intended.

Bryson essentially used me to generate some raw thoughts early in the process, and then trampled my work with a theatrical essay on his road to achievement.  He glorified himself as a writer of great repute while dismissing me as a benign objectivist.  Between the lines though, I was surprised to read a bit more insecurity than he would outwardly concede, though when pressed on this issue, he deftly shielded himself with a “dramatic flourish” defense.

Holland offered little at the outset of the process and was openly insecure.  She pushed me to start the process while I pressed her for insight into her genuine feelings and aspirations.  I assembled a draft and left the end open for “her”.  She demurred and consulted her brothers.  Bryson produced a draft that was over the top unusable excrement.  I was pissed.

This morning I woke to a draft from Holland that was pitch perfect.  She expressed herself.  Wrote from the heart, and in the closing paragraph a lump developed as I read in her words the strength that I always believed was in her.  I touched up a few grammatical points and sent it back with the words, “Holland, really good job.  You dug in and wrote from the heart.  That’s where good writing exists.  Not in fake drama and bullshit.  I left the last paragraph untouched because it was real.  Loved it.  Even got a bit choked up.  Now get this application submitted and become a NOLE!”

I went all caps on the “NOLE!” for selfish reasons.  I am a NOLE!  This weekend, my old roommate Sarvin Patel took his family to Tallahassee for the first time to see a game and sent a bunch of pictures.  We spent the weekend texting pictures and telling stories of our time in Tallahassee.  It was a special time and, as time has proven, unforgettable.  I wish that experience for anyone that goes to college, and especially, my guys.

As a college athlete, Bryson will have the unique experience of team sports at a high level and the ability to bond with his teammates through the demanding rigors of time management, close proximity and competitive challenge.  It is something I was unable to achieve for myself and for which I am immensely proud of him.

As a college student, Holland’s journey will be different, much closer to my own, and maybe that is why I am rooting so hard for her to be a NOLE!  At any campus, you will study for your degree and meet valuable friends that can influence and alter the course of your life, but for me, there is a tremendous enhancement of the experience when it is done at a school like Florida State where sports, on the national level, are so important.  You never forget that time of your life.  It becomes a part of you for better or worse.  It is a brotherhood or sisterhood not as tightly defined as Bryson will enjoy, but eternal.

I remember leaving the stadium after beating the Gators during law school.  Every Nole in the stadium chanted and chopped their way down the concourse and into the night.  My only thought, other than pride, was that my Dad needed to see a game before I graduated, or he died.  The following year we chanted and chopped our way out of the stadium after beating Miami’s ass.  I want this for Holland.  I want it for both us so that in addition to our father/daughter bond we have a bond as NOLES!

And just maybe she might have a better understanding of why her father hurls objects across the room when a lineman jumps offside on 3rd and 2, mother fucks the world with every missed tackle in space, buries every scrap of Nole clothing in the deepest corner of the closet after a 63-20 loss, or just beams with pride every weekend “we” win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Forget

A plane just hit one of the twin towers.

I couldn’t imagine what that looked like. I found a picture on Yahoo showing a large hole in the side of one of the towers, but the tower was still standing. There was no evidence of a plane. My computer froze. I walked out to the secretarial pod and learned that nobody could get online. We chatted briefly in casual ignorance.

A second plane just hit the other twin tower.

Though 1200 miles from Ground Zero, the sense of panic was palpable. We gathered in the hall with more questions than answers. I considered if any of my family from New York and Connecticut may have been in or near the Twin Towers that morning.

A plane hit the Pentagon. There was another on the way to the Capitol and the White House.

At this point, we were without television or the internet, and no rumor or thought seemed off the table. We needed to be with our families.

I walked to the parking garage and started my car. I had been listening to Howard Stern that morning, and as the radio came on, Howard described the first tower falling. I still could not visualize what any of this looked like. I raced to the day care and picked up the kids. I reached the house and turned the television on.

Up to this moment, my experience was through a single image of a hole in the side of the tower, verbal reports of planes hitting the buildings and a verbal description of the tower falling. In front of my television, the experience became visual. I watched the planes hit the towers and disintegrate. I saw the towers fall and smoke fill the streets of Manhattan. I saw smoke billow from the Pentagon. I saw ancillary buildings collapse in the ensuing hours. I saw people walking the streets covered in debris, disoriented and lost. I saw police and firefighters move to the front to help in anyway they could. I saw people burning American flags and dancing in the street.

I was afraid and vulnerable for my safety and that of my family.

I was saddened and consumed with putting myself in the shoes of those who had died, and those who loved them without know yet holding out hope that they had survived.

I was angry and vengeful for those that made this attack happen. I wanted blood. I wanted death. I wanted an air strike on those people who danced while burning our flag.

I was proud of my country. On a terrible day, we resolved to help each other. We resolved to survive. We resolved to rebuild. We resolved to be our own heroes.

Jimbo Fisher and the Apparent Futility of Parenthood

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Giorgio Newberry is a fifth year senior at Florida State.  He has had a minimal impact on the program during his first four years on campus.  Last Saturday night, he was player of the game for the Seminoles.  As I read the first few paragraphs of the article, I got somewhat emotional thinking of how many practices Newberry must have attended where he failed to distinguish himself or stood on the side as reps went to other players, and the type of resolve it takes to endure and make the most of his opportunity last Saturday night.  As I read on, it was apparent that for much of his time on campus, Newberry was his own worst enemy displaying a lack of effort and a lack of attention to detail.  The coaching and resources of the program were at his disposal every bit as much as all the players that kept him off the field, and he did not make it happen.

Coach Fisher was proud of Newberry, and said, “It’s like I say, you can coach your kids and teach your kids all you want, when they walk out the door of their house, they’ve got to decide what they want to be.”

I am the father of three teenagers.  I have spent the last 18 years trying to provide love, support and guidance in the best way that I can, and there are many days when it feels utterly ineffective.  As my kids have entered their teenage years, it has increasingly felt like my voice in particular holds less weight than any other, and the frustration of this is beyond measure.

“…you can coach your kids and teach your kids all you want.”

I am 44 years old.  I have experience through lessons learned and mistakes made that may help each of them to avoid a painful pothole or plot a cleaner course through life.  I am a resource, not just of money, but of knowledge that in this most critical of ways remains largely unused.  I have varied my tactics of communication and patiently waited for moments ripe to dispel my wisdom, but the clock is ticking.

“…when they walk out the door of their house.”

My oldest started college last week and he has spoke openly of wanting to move out of the house.  His twin siblings are not be far behind. There is a sense of palpable desperation descending on me that I have not given enough and somehow failed in the most important responsibility of my life.

“…they’ve got to decide what they want to be.”

I can and will love, support and guide each of them.  I am granted only one life to live…my own.  Camden, Holland and Bryson must live their life and “decide what they want to be.”

Spurs

I love my family…couldn't ask for a better group #spurforlife

A post shared by Danny Green (@greenranger14) on

I was scrolling through Instagram this morning when I came upon this picture posted by Danny Green.  I do not know when the picture was taken or to the extent it was posed, but I could not stop looking at it.  It was everything Spurs.

There is Tony Parker sidled up next to the only female in the shot, assistant coach Becky Hammond, raising interesting carnal questions. 

Manu on the periphery with his arm around a staff member framing the photo and speaking to the inclusive yet exclusive nature of the Spurs culture.

Kawhi is in the back literally out of view, but present in his unassuming way.

Boris is smug as always.

George Hill makes a cameo, but doesn’t  look out of place which made me think of a Bill Simmons anecdote about Pop inviting Avery Johnson to a midseason team dinner as though he were still an active member of the team.

In the center, poetically, are Pop and Tim.  Pop extending an arm to touch Tim, and Tim front and center, yet bending over to simultaneously accommodate the group.

They are obviously not in uniform, and Green’s caption mentions family.  It is fitting.  Their longevity, their titles and their losses have made them one.  I hope with all that makes me a sports fan, and all that makes me human we see them compete again.

Selma: Thoughts on the Passive-Aggressive Provocation of Non-Violent Protest

I saw Selma with my oldest son a few weeks ago, and his twin siblings saw it independently thereafter. It is an interesting and balanced portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. during his time in Selma, Alabama. He was simultaneously an inspirational leader, flawed family man, shrewd politician and courageous martyr of non-violence. It is the last part that struck me most prominently in the aftermath of seeing the movie.

Last July, I stood in the parking lot of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. I looked up to the balcony where Dr. King fell, and back over my shoulder in the direction of James Earl Ray’s fatal shot. I thought of what it must have been like to wake up every day with the very tangible sense that you could be killed before the day ends. Dr. King lived with these thoughts for many years, but in watching Selma, I saw his other burden.

Non-violence carries with it an ostensible air of moral superiority, but non-violence is nothing without violence. The movement’s ultimate purpose is to provoke acts of violence that shock and disturb the consciousness of otherwise nuetral or ambivilent people to act in a manner they previously could or would not.

As Dr. King himself acknowledged, previous non-violent efforts in Albany, Georgia failed because local authorities remained disciplined in handling protestors. In Selma, local authorities took the bait and produced what the Civil Rights movement needed: brutal violence captured on film. Images that resounded through the entirety of the United States, and history itself.

Dr. King’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement is enormous, but so too must have been the sense of rightousness and guilt that he felt in pursuing a non-violent movement that not only took his life, but those of so many others who marched with him and subjected themselves to brutality necessary to advance the cause. Recognize with me, Dr. King, but also those that followed him.

The Father

The moment I became a father I looked through a window at my son.  He was sorta purple and wrinkled with oversized hands and feet.  He was screaming at the top of his lungs, and my only thought was “wow, this guy is gonna be a handful.”  He was my handful and I would do everything in my power to handle him.

I had dreams, mostly of sports, together.  I would coach and distill in him all the knowledge my sporting obsession have given to me.  So educated, he would be better than me and carry us both to the levels of sport I couldn’t.  I dreamed also of being a fountain of wisdom, a clever quote or adage for every imaginable situation that life might throw our way. 

I thought of my father, and the security his presence gave my life.   I thought of the pride I felt that people respected my father, and generally liked him and his corny sense of humor.  He was engaged in my life not so much with rules and discipline, but a broader conversational wisdom from which I drew many of my values.   Like any son, I scoured the margins to find some disagreeable ground that would be the fuel of my own fatherhood.

I became a father to twins twenty months later, and that was probably too short a window for me to reach certain realizations about myself and fatherhood.  Fifteen years later, I have a bit of perspective.  Perspective guides me to a pair of quotations.

“In nature, there are only consequences”

Fatherhood is the same.  Everything that I do has a consequence.  The consequences are not always linear as the action resonates in the mind of the child with everything thing that you and life have shown them before revealing itself in the realm of value and belief.  Sometimes the value and belief comforts me, and at others, it scares me half to death.  I place faith and draw comfort in the knowledge that nature and age tend to balance things over time.

“Success is a journey, not a destination.”

I now have a musician, a cheerleader and a soccer player.  They are all good students and in my biased opinion good people.  They have sifted through life and found their passion, and as their father, I have followed them to open Mic nights,  auditorium, cheer gyms, football games, and damn near every patch of grass with goals in Central Florida.  Being there, wherever there may be, is the journey that we share and in the best of moments become partners.  It’s ultimate destiny remains unknown,  but as long as we make it together it will be ours and it will be ok.

Happy Father’s Day

Memorial Day Thoughts

If there is one sound that resonates through the history of man, it is the beating of a war drum.  War is how we  divide, define and defend ourselves for money, religion, power and, most honorably, self-preservation. War, like the rest of life, is never fair.  At the tip of the spear is the soldier. 

The soldier will endure pain and horror, and see acts of courage and compassion that will shape their minds and lives in ways unsuited to what we would regard as normal…..and those are the lucky ones.

The not so lucky will return in the prime of their lives maimed mentally and physically….and many will never return. 
They could be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend or family member not much different from each us, but for their service and sacrifice.

Thank you.