Friday, December 31, 2010

Don't forget the memories...

Well another year is coming to an end and like every other person in the world, I am reflecting on the happenings of the past year and compiling a mental list of great memories, regrettable moments, and incredible enlightenment to file in the brain under "experience".

Great Memories (in no particular order):

Going to see one of my favorite bands. My wife treated me to see The Eagles at Meadowlands Stadium and our son came with us. I loved the concert, and especially enjoyed sharing it with my wife and son. I was fifteen when I first saw The Eagles at the the old Giants stadium, almost thirty years ago to the date.

I became an Uncle again and then again as my brother had a little girl and my sister had a little boy. My son now has four little cousins that follow him, climb on him and look up to him like a superhero.

Some of the volunteering I did might not have contributed on a global level, but even little things are a big help. Shoveling out my family's snowed in cars, helping my in-laws pack for moving, helping my sister prepare for her new baby, working on school functions, and spending night after night on the football field, sweating profusely in the field house, and running around fixing broken gear.

Regrettable moments (These are greatest to least):

Not kissing my wife more, she needs it and I need it, simple.

My frustration over schoolwork is not my finest moment. I absolutely know my son is a hard worker and wants to be the best he can be, I just need to be patient and not crowd the plate.

I used to not take my work angst home with me and recently I have been distracted at home over my job and career as a whole. I have taken some steps this year to not go in as early and leave on time so I can spend more time with the family, but that is the physical part, now I have to work on the mental part.

Enlightenment (These are least to greatest):

Knowing that family and friends can still have an influence.
Finding out that I can still be creative, like starting a blog and writing about life.
Realizing there is still time to learn new ideas and start new careers.
Understanding that my son is a born dreamer, a peaceful sole and possesses incredible fortitude, qualities hard wired into his DNA.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Single Occupancy

As my wife and son are away this week I find myself with a feeling of joblessness. I am working this week but my fatherhood duties are on hold. It is an uneasy feeling to hear about my family's day from afar, I feel disconnected from them. My responsibilities are singular, but I miss the family tasks and interaction. I am glad they are having a great time and away from the snowy northeast; they will be home soon, closing out this year and ready to tackle the next, together. 
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Sunday, December 26, 2010


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Inspect, Review, Size

"These do not fit, and those don't either." I am standing in the doorway of my son's room. My son is jumping up and down and shaking his leg with his pants caught around one ankle, his routine for undressing. He has outgrown his khaki pants and just about everything else in his closet. My wife and I look at the pile of once worn shirts and pants discarded on the rug. My son's change in age apparently coincided with a change in size. After getting a few new shirts and pants over the last week, Saturday afternoon was set aside for taking inventory of all clothing and deciding what is staying and what is leaving. 

My wife went to work in the closet, pulling out shorts, pants and shirts to be inspected, reviewed, and sized. The inspection process was first on the list, after all even if it did fit, it might be too stained up or grimy to move on to the next process. Right off the bat, three shirts were deemed unqualified and tossed into the leaving pile. After that was the review process. These items might not be wearable but might have historical value and therefor kept for sentimental reasons. "Oh, remember this sweatshirt, he wore it everyday for a year!" my wife would say, or my son would comment "I remember that shirt, I was looking for that..." I would recall long ago trips and memorable events and would vote thumbs up to keep. My wife, not the hoarding type, would vote thumbs down. My son, not much for strolling down memory lane, would respond with a two word answer, mumbling, "Toss it." Most of the memorable pieces we archived in pictures throughout the years, so on that note it did not make sense to store it.

The third process is sizing, which meant trying on everything, my son's least favorite. since he has grown so fast, we can not gauge what fits and what does not. The next twenty minutes my son is whipping on and off clothes faster than backstage at Fashion Week. After the procedure of inspect, review, and size was completed, there stood a mound of clothes three feet high. The two garbage bags compiled a full range of boys clothes, from the food stained, to the never worn and all categories in between. My wife looks at me and states, "It surely does not pay to buy in advance."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Good + One Not So Good = Two Goods

I have been trying to come up with exercise ideas for winter fitness routines to do with my son. It's too cold to run the track and too rainy for bike rides. Saturday afternoon I told him we were going to do a half hour of fitness. He was not happy to pause his computer game but understood the need for movement. I told him to stretch out while I search the internet for some routines. (Side note: It has come to my realization that doing general searches on the internet returns way too much information. I got links to gyms, magazines, sporting goods stores, nutrition, teams, accidents, equipment, protein powders, journals, songs, movies, weird medical procedures and some other stuff I need to block from his computer.) Then I remembered the TV.

A few months ago, while browsing the on-demand listings I stumbled upon a section covering exercise and training. I ran to the living room and searched again and came upon Exercise TV. I scrolled the listings and found a few 10 minute routines and just like that my son was working up a sweat. We searched for more routines and after completing two of them, he was enjoying the experience. I said to him "You know, during school days there is no morning TV time but you can certainly turn it on for exercise." Now he can combine something he really enjoys (TV) with something he struggles with (Exercise). Together they calculate into success.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Birthday

Untimely heals nothing

 I remember while in the third grade hearing about a fifth grade girl dying. I never heard of leukemia before but my teacher told us it was a disease of the blood and that is what the girl died from. The school did a big memorial and we all made cards to send to the family. I did not know the girl but her little sister was in my little sister's grade. When the sister came back to school after being absent for an extended period of time, nobody knew what to say to her, or how to act around her, but after a while it seemed to fade away until we kind of forgot she even had an older sister, but I guarantee she did not. That was my first encounter with untimely death.

For me, as I think with most people, death is usually associated with an elderly person, a person who lived a long and full life and their "time has come". We are still very saddened by the death, a loving grandmother who you remember giving you sweets when you visited, or an uncle who made funny voices and did card tricks. Those are the memories kids have when it comes to death.

When a mother or a father dies, that is disorienting for a child. They do not understand the reasons or comprehend the logistics of the loss. I knew a kid in middle school who's dad had a heart attack and died. He was a funny and likable kid but after his dad died, he was quiet and kept to himself for the rest of the school year. The next year he seemed much better and appeared to be back to his funny self. We never spoke about his father's passing, maybe he wanted me to bring it up or maybe I was waiting for him to start, looking back, I think I was too afraid I would not be able to accept the emotions behind it all, so I never asked him and to this day never really know how he got through it. That was my second encounter with untimely death. 

I remember getting the call in the morning, My boss and also one of my best friends was on the phone informing me that his friend and former business partner was killed in a shady deal gone bad. I was in my twenties at the time and he was the first person that I knew who died that was my age. It was a surreal feeling but one filled with irrational excuses like, "That would never happen to me." or "I would not be in that situation." When going over to the parent's house to pay my respects, the house was full of sorrow, relatives inconsolable and distraught, understanding their sorrow but somehow not connecting with their pain. I think being single and no real relationship with the guy offered me no real grief. That was my first adult encounter with untimely death.

I was dating a girl for a while in my late twenties, she was fun and sexy and we did adventurous things together, but it never got real serious. We continued to be friends after our relationship had ended but when she told me one evening over dinner that she was getting married I did not give her much of a congratulations. I liked her a lot and since I did not have a girlfriend when she told me her good news, I took it upon my self celebrate with some self pity. We did not speak after that for a two weeks, then I finally went over to her house to apologize for my luke warm reaction, she forgave me, and we were friends once again. I remember just getting home from work when I got the call that she and her fiance were driving home the previous night on the highway and slammed into an abandoned car sitting in the right lane. They tried to revive her at the scene but all the efforts by the EMTs were to no avail. This one hit me hard. This was my first emotional connection to someone my age who died. Her best friend was married to one of my best friends so I felt like I was able to share some grief with others. She was catholic so it would be my first wake experience, and seeing the open casket was too much for me. I did manage to make my way up to the front and pay my respects to her family. After enduring the walk through, a bunch of us took a table in the back and told funny stories and we shared our thoughts. It helps to remember the good times, but time passes, you meet new people, new relationships form and old relationships get stored away, only to bubble to the top when thinking about extreme circumstances. I wonder what ever happen to her fiance? 

Now that I am in my mid forties, married and a father of one great soon to be eleven year old, death becomes part hobby part celebrity gawking. You read the papers or browse online and immediately pause at sightings of familiar names. "Honey remember so-in-so from that band you liked, well the drummer died." "I just read on that a kid I knew from science class died, he always wore shoes during gym!" I call this the middle age untimely death. Its the age where upon hearing about a death, doctors visits go up and pizza and hamburgers make way for salads and fruit. Wives notice a few extra notches on the belt and stress the important of your health and if that does not sway you, thinking of your kids always points you in the right direction. A few weeks ago, a guy in my office was having a uneasy morning. The guy had a way about him, he can pester you and get under your skin but you can never be mad at him. He was single and lived with his father for years, a guy very comfortable in his situation, no responsibilities, not a care in the world, but the flip side of that is that he had no one looking out for signs of concern. He did not seem himself all day, quiet and was having trouble relaxing. After complaining about stomach pains, he left work early to rest at home. He never made it. The office got a call from a policeman at Penn Station, stating they have an unconscious person on the concourse and this was the last number on his phone.  We are not sure if he died there, in transit, or at the hospital. He was identified at the hospital by human resources. 

All my friends have kids. The ranges are wide, but mostly between 14 and 3, with a few outliers, one in college and a couple of toddlers. My core group of friends are all 45-47 years old and we have been friends since we were young kids ourselves. One of my friends had his child at a very early age so he has been though all the greatness as well as the angst of fatherhood. Even though she was not around much due to their divorce, his little girl grew up in his stories about her, and since he is a very funny and animated storyteller we all learned a lot about child rearing, school life, friends, fashion, boyfriends, birthday parties, family trips, ridiculous situations, the "dramas", learning to drive, college, career choices, parent fighting, holidays, and the unconditional and absolute love a father has for his child. That is why the phone call I got this morning is the most shocking of all untimely deaths. The police recount it as a single car accident late at night. A tight turn caused the car to swerve and veer off the road and crash through a chain link fence. She was 24.

All throughout the day, death played its memories back to me like old movies, from one person to another, like youtube videos replaying the clips of life, entering on a flash and exiting just as untimely....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

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Sunday, December 5, 2010


"When are we leaving?" my son is excited this morning. He has been waiting for this day all season. Today I am taking him to the New Meadowlands stadium to watch his NY Giants battle against the Washington Redskins. He has been playing the matchup on Madden 11 for days now and feels confident the real team will duplicate the virtual repeated victories. I check the computer for the game time conditions, sunny in the mid 40's, so multiple layers are in order. My son plans on wearing his Giants long sleeve shirt, Giants jersey, Giants hoodie, and sweatpants (he would wear his Giants pajama bottoms but even he thinks that would be too much). 

I do not own any Giants gear since I happen to be a long time Jets fan, but today is all about the Giants (and the Jets play Monday night anyway)

Go Giants!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shining a Festive light

The first night of Hanukah is tonight. Before I was married that would not mean much to me. I never celebrated Hanukah as a child, even though we were Jewish. We were not religious and I guess my parents thought a christmas tree with all the decorations would be more festive for us kids. As a kid I did not know anything about Hanukah or the meaning behind it. My wife grew up celebrating Hanukah so when our son was born, it was easy to start fresh with Hanukah, but I still not know the meaning behind Hanukah. I knew a little, like it last eight days and you light candles, but why? So I went to the web to find out what Hanukah is all about. After searching and reading, I was more confused than before. There seems to be many interpretations to the story but I did find basic answers that helped me get a clearer picture of the holiday called The Festival of Lights:

(Courtesy of

Origin of the word Hanukah
First of all, why is it spelled so many different ways?
This has to do with the sound that comes at the beginning of the word. There is no direct english translation for the unique gutteral sound. Therefore, it is generally spelled with either an "H" or a "CH".

Hanukah, or Chanukah, or Hanukkah, translates into the words "dedicate" and "beginning".
This holiday got its name from the Maccabees when they regained the Temple. Because the Greeks had desecrated it, the Maccabees rededicated to mark the Temple's new beginning.

Maccabees and miracles
In Jerusalem, the oppression of Jews worsened. Greeks even demanded a statue of Zeus to be built in the Jewish Temple.
It was at this time that a man named Mattisyahu moved his family to Modiin. But, peace for him and his family was only temporary. Greeks eventually showed up in Modiin too. Because Mattisyahu was a respected elder, he was chosen to offer a sacrifice to one of the pagan gods. He refused. However, one of his fellow Jews decided to do the sacrifice anyway.
Mattisyahu, in a fit of anger, killed the Jew and then the Greek soldiers. This was the beginning of the Jewish Revolt.
A year later, his son Judah Maccabee took leadership of the rebellion when his father passed away. Judah was an excellent leader and eventually led a force, known as the Maccabees, to victory in recapturing the Temple. Upon entering the Temple, they found only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day.
Then, a wonderous miracle occured! The oil for one day lit the Temple for eight straight days. This is where we get the eight days of Hanukah.

I still have a lot to learn but I now have a better understanding behind the meaning of Hanukah, a holiday full of history and tradition, one I continue to learn about and look forward to celebrating it with my family each year.
Happy Hanukah everyone...