Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jeremy vs. Nerd Rage

Look... I make no secret of the fact that I'm a pretty big nerd.  Comic books, science fiction, computers and gaming. I just about hit all the bases.

That being said one of the things that I have always felt good about is the fact that I'm not one of those uber-nerds.  You know the type.  The people that love something so much that they pretty much live and die by it, and they expect others to readily share in their nerdery.

The worst of those are the "nerd-ragers".  The people that flip their shit every time someone mixes up Star Wars with Star Trek, or god forbid doesn't know how many Robins there have been in the Batman comics, or that the term Green Lantern covers an entire corps of space-cops and not just one person.

You know those guys... and I have always been proud of myself that I wasn't one of them.

Until today.

Earlier, while browsing Facebook I saw that one of the comic book related pages that I "like" posted this picture of the full sized Lego X-Wing fighter that currently calls Times Square home.

The caption read simply: life sized lego tie fighter

Before I could catch myself I started seething.  My first instinct was to immediately "un-like" the page because this post was so egregious that they could no longer be trusted to post anything of value.  Or at the very least the person responsible for the post should be fired. or otherwise publicly have their nerd-card revoked.

I sat festering in silence while my brain screamed,  "THAT'S NOT A TIE FIGHTER!!!  THAT'S AN X-WING!!!"

Now, as if that weren't bad enough my internal tirade continued on about how Lego wasn't capitalized and that not only was calling it a TIE Fighter wrong they failed to capitalize any of the letters in the word TIE!  It's a FRIGGIN ACRONYM!!!  It stands for Twin Ion Engine!

I stopped myself before I started typing out the 17 page raging manifesto that threatened to burst from my synapses directly into the comments on the picture. 


Fuck... I am one of those people.  Damn it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This, is Memorial Day

His name is Donald Graves.  Those that know him best call him, Louie.  He has been a part of my life since I was young.

I have never met him.

He is my step-father's best friend and he was killed in Vietnam in 1967.

Today, as he does a couple of times a year, dad wanted to make the hour long drive down to Dansville to visit Louie's grave.  As always, he takes someone with him.  Up until today, I had never gone.  When he asked me if I would like to go I readily agreed.  It would be good to get the chance to spend time together, but at the same time I also understood the unspoken responsibility of accompanying him on this journey.

After we stopped for lunch we drove to the cemetery and after winding our way around we arrived.  I got out of the car and looked around.  Rows and rows of flags dotted the landscape.  Dad had already set to work doing some minor maintenance to the plaque that sits below the headstone.  I casually snapped some photos.

Once he had finished, dad stood up, put his tools away and walked back over to the grave.  I stood there with him for a moment and put my hand on his shoulder.  His voice cracked as he said, "He shouldn't be here."

Forty-six years later the pain was still able to push its way to the surface.  If only briefly.

After a few minutes, we hugged, he thanked me for coming with him, and we drove home.

So, before you fire up the grill, crack open a beer, or go spend money at some sales event, remember...

This, is Memorial Day...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Life is in the small moments

I realized something important today.  We all rush through our lives pushing hard through the week in an effort to just be able to make it to the weekend.  Unfortunately we often discover that the weekend all too frequently never seems to live up to the promise.

As a divorced parent I face an even larger challenge because I only get to spend every other weekend with my kids.  Yes, I do have them on Monday and Wednesday evenings, but that time often feels so limited.  I get out of work at 5 and pick Molly up at 5:15.  From there we drive for at least 10-15 minutes to pick up Sophia before heading home.  Most nights it's nearly 6pm by the time we make it through the door.  Then it's homework and dinner... and after that we have maybe 45 minutes or so before bedtime.

It never feels like enough.

Today was not supposed to be my time with the girls.  However, as fate would dictate their mother had to work until 5:30.  Getting out at 5 and having no real plans to speak of I offered to pick the girls up.  I'm glad I did.

After signing her out, gathering up her stuff and getting settled into the car, Molly and I did what we always do.  I put on some music and we rock 'n' rolled our way to pick up Sophia.  I have a playlist on my phone called "Molly's Favorites" and as it does most days we listen to it, this song came on...

...and Molly and I did what we always do... we sang along.  She sang Rapunzel's part and I sang Flynn's.  It's something that we've done probably 50 times, but I never really thought about it until now.  The song was ending as we pulled into the parking lot of Sophia's school.  Molly unbuckled her seatbelt and wrapped her arms around me and said, "You're the best daddy ever." I knew at that moment how much that meant, not only to me, but to Molly as well.

It's small moments like these where life actually happens.  The kind of small moments that most of us are likely to take for granted.  I realized today that sometimes, moments like these are all we get and we're foolish not to recognize them for what they are.  As a parent and particularly as a father of young girls,  when I'm reflecting on my life, hopefully still many years from now, these will be the moments that I cherish.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jeremy vs. Jeremy: It's time for a change

As many of you already know I have made a commitment to lose weight. A lot of weight.  When all is said and done I will have lost a total of 225 pounds.  That's an entire person... 2 people if they're small.  To get an idea as to how much that is go find a 5 pound bag of flour or sugar and just hang on to it for a few minutes.  Walk around with it.  You kind of want to put it down, don't you?  Now imagine carrying 45 of those around with you everyday... ALL. DAY. LONG.  Welcome to how much weight I'm talking about.

Back in May of 2012 when I hit my highest weight I set the ball in motion with an eye on just losing weight.  I was disgusted with myself and I was sick of my joints hurting and sick of getting winded just going up a single flight of stairs.  I was sick of being afraid I might break any chair that I sat on... I was sick of not being the person I wanted to be.  The first 25 or so pounds came off relatively easy and by December I was looking to cross the threshold of being under 400 pounds for the first time in a couple of years (yes you read that right).  It was at this point that I caught a show on the Discovery Channel about ordinary people who were put in extreme situations and were able to survive. The one that struck me the hardest was the story about a father and his two children whose car had gone off the road into a river.  The father was able to save himself and both of his children.  I felt sick.  I realized that if that had been me with my children... yep.  By continuing to live in the physical condition that I was (and still am) in I was not only risking my own life, but the lives of my children as well.  Maybe I would never be presented with that kind of scenario... maybe.  I had to ask myself if it was worth the risk.

I knew then that it wasn't going to be enough to lose the weight... I needed to get in shape.

With this new goal in mind I set a deadline for myself... 2 years.  By my 40th birthday I want to be in the best shape of my life.  It's not unreasonable, and frankly if I make even a modest effort it's a goal I can hit early.  That said I want to wake up on my 40th birthday and put myself to the test.

What test?  Well... I'll tell you.

When I was 18 I wanted to join the military after I graduated.  It seemed like a good option.  It would give me some time to figure out my direction in life and at the same time I would be continuing a long standing tradition of military service in my family.

It didn't happen.  I couldn't pass the entry physical.

Now, even though the age limit for enlistment has passed I want to prove to myself that I could have done it. I want to pass the minimum physical fitness requirements to graduate from Marine Corps Basic Training.

Here are the current requirements as published:

  • 3 pull-ups minimum (20 max.)
  • A minimum of 60 crunches in 2 minutes (100 max.)
  • Run 3 miles in a maximum of 28 minutes (18 minutes minimum)
I just want to prove to myself that I was good enough.  I want to prove to my kids that goals can be achieved and more importantly, I need to be an example of healthy living to them as well.

So, there it is.  Maybe I'm crazy, but I will do this for myself.  I have come to the conclusion that the price that I might pay if I fail is far too high.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jeremy vs. Life: It all leads us to now...

December 28th, 2012 ... That was the day that a major chapter of my life came to a close.  After two years, mounds of paperwork and pools of tears, the divorce became final.

After I dropped off the final paperwork at the county clerks office I sat in my car in the parking garage and tried to feel something.  I mean, after two years of struggle the closure that comes with a divorce is supposed to come with some sort of feeling... right?

...and yet, there I sat and I felt nothing.  Over the years I had seen and heard people speak of their divorces with a measure of joy, of freedom, even vindication.  Others I had encountered spoke of their divorces with sorrow, anger... some times to the point of hatred.

...and yet I felt nothing.  I had spent so much of the time following my ex's request for a divorce going somewhere between sorrow and anger that I don't think I had any left in me.  As for joy or some sort of celebratory feeling... well that was missing as well.  I gave 11 years of my life to a relationship that failed.  You don't just walk away from that jumping for joy.

For a long time I felt like a failure.  I had failed my self, my ex-wife, and worst of all, my children.  Ultimately, I had to push those feelings aside.  My children would need my strength, not my self-pity.

Sitting in the car that day the only feeling I could muster was the thought to not give up.  I started the car and drove to pick up my kids.

Little did I know then what life would soon bring me.

For the last 17 months since I moved out on my own I've been battling with overwhelming feelings of depression and loneliness   Every other night and every other weekend I would sit in my recliner and listen to the silence of my town house.  My home became a seething cacophony of quiet and when my kids were with their mother that noiselessness only intensified.

I went into this past weekend with no indication that it was going to be different.  It wasn't my weekend with my kids and I had no real plans other than to sit at home and be alone.

...and then she changed everything.  A woman of amazing energy came into my life like a tidal wave and completely sent my weekend into a spin.  By Sunday morning I was feeling more alive than I had in a couple of years.  Chatting online, texting, hours on the phone. Getting to know each other far beyond what we'd known of each other before.  The experience of this weekend helped to open my eyes and forced me to realize that what I had been experiencing for the last year could only be temporary.  It reminded me that life often takes a giant leap in an unexpected direction right when you need it to.  Even if you don't realize it.

I think back on the last decade of my life.  The joy, the pain, the hurt feelings, the triumphs and the failures.  I think about my daughters and how much of my life they changed.  All of the events in my life have placed me where I am now.  Yes, going through a divorce sucks.  Yes, going through a divorce with children sucks even more.  Here in lies the paradox... if not for that pain, if not for that process .. I wouldn't be where I am in my life right at this very moment, and considering the events of the last few days and the events of my life still to come.  I wouldn't alter any of it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Jeremy vs. 2013

Well, that's it, I guess.  Another year in the can and for several reasons, I'm glad it's over.

This time last year I posted a few simple desires for this year...
"A year where I'm not struggling to pay my bills and maybe get to save a little money...
A year where I have as few life changing crises as possible...
A year where at the the end of it I can look back and feel like I haven't been upside down spinning my wheels for most of it...
Then again... maybe I'll just settle for learning how to deal with things better."
All things considered I can, for the first time in a long time, say "Mission Accomplished"... and I actually feel like I'm in a position to make some real resolutions.  Resolutions that can have a substantial impact on my life and how it ultimately plays out.

So, that being said... here goes in no particular order:

  • I will lose weight this year.  I know that I won't hit my goal weight, but I want to at least feel and look better.
  • I will create more.  Art, writing, etc...  I have a creative soul and I have been stifling it something awful.  I would LOVE to buy myself a good camera again.  That is something I truly miss.
  • I will be kinder and more understanding to those around me... especially to my kids.  Unfortunately, all too often they end up on the receiving end of my frustration and I end up doing more yelling than I do listening.
  • I will spend more time with my friends and family.  Sadly, I have had a horrible tendency this past year to lock myself away from everyone and hide.  I'm grateful that it appears that nobody has written me off.
  • I will continue my quest toward true financial responsibility.  I'm doing much better than I was, but I'm not there yet.
  • I will create a bucket list and I will work on crossing at least one thing off of it.
There you have it.  Nothing hard and fast, but all of them important and potentially life altering.