If I had it to do over…

I’d like to think I would have handled things differently. The idea of going back in time and counseling your younger self with the benefit of the knowledge you have today. Would you have acted differently? I used to think I so, but now I’m not so sure.

Age and experience have changed my perspective. The biggest challenge to my thinking comes when I counsel my teenage son by using my mistakes as examples. As I relate an issue he’s facing with my long-term perspective, I see my younger self, the one with the you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do attitude.

I show him how our actions have consequences, both short term and long term. I encourage him to think about the future and make good choices. Sometimes he does, oftentimes he doesn’t. Just like I did. I guess that’s just part of growing up.

 

 

I thought I liked that movie

As my boys get older, I’ve been rewatching the movies I enjoyed years ago to see which ones I’d like to share with them. It turns out the movies are not always as good as I remember. Perhaps looking at them now through a father’s eyes or just being an adult with (hopefully) more sophisticated sensibilities has made some of the movies less appealing.

I liked Gremlins when I saw it years ago, but not now. After seeing a Gremlin killed in a blender and other disturbing images, I decided to pass on that one.

I thought I liked Batman from 1989, but since then I’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. Now the 1989 version looks pretty lame. The acting, directing, casting, pacing, and writing were awful.

I’ve queued up Terminator and Robocop for another look.

For me, Mrs. Doubtfire has held up. Robing Williams and Sally Field are just great. Some of the references are dated and my boys won’t get them, but overall top notch.

Ace Ventura wasn’t as funny as I remember, but it’s the kind of wacky stuff that will entertain my boys (minus the naughty bits).

Pirates of the Caribbean was still enjoyable. Johnny, Orlando, Kiera, and the rest are all top notch. And my wife approved of the scary elements. She’s the one our two younger sons wake up when they have nightmares, so screening questionable parts beforehand is a good idea.

On a scale of 0 to 17

I heard a radio talk show host talk about the absurdity of having a rating system with too many choices. He had recently completed a product survey where it asked him to rate his satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 16. Does a person really distinguish that many degrees of happiness with a TV, for example? How do you distinguish between say an 11 and a 12?

Ironically, later in the program this same host did a movie review and rated it three and three-quarter stars out of four, apparently not realizing that he was giving the movie a 16 on a scale of 0 to 17.

Change

Do you resist change or embrace it? Maybe it depends on the situation. For me it does. When my wife wants to make cosmetic changes to the house, I’m okay with that. Paint, pictures, knick-knacks… stuff like that is fine.

But if it’s a functional change, then that’s a different story. Rearrange the living room, replace a cabinet, add a bathroom… that’s where I need to do some thinking. Will the change improve something overall? If yes, then let’s try it otherwise let’s reconsider.

I’m all for making things better, easier, simpler, but I’m not big on change just to be different if it means I have to adapt without seeing any benefit. For example, when my wife brought home a large wooden cover for our stove. She played up the benefit of being able to store things on the stove, a feature I wasn’t sold on at all. Plus, using the stove became more complicated.  After a couple of days the stove cover ended up in the basement.

Some things are small enough to try out rather than needing to put in a great deal of thought beforehand. Putting our meals on index cards, for example. Doing so makes it easier for me to shop for groceries and also easier to plan our meals for the following week.

Some change is gradual like when I decided to lose weight. I ate a bit less at each meal and lost 20 pounds in six months.

Sometimes change needs to be dramatic, all at once, cold turkey to have an effect. For me that was gambling. Years ago I worked at a convenience store that soldlottery instant lottery tickets. During my shift I would buy a ticket here and there when I noticed a run of losing tickets. I didn’t win anything much, but I kept on trying. I spent more than I wanted and couldn’t seem to kick the habit until one day I came up with a radical plan. I would buy a brick of tickets and end it once and for all.

So I did. I took $300, bought 300 tickets, and spent the evening scratching them to see what I had won. I ended up with $150. That satisfied my craving, my addiction. I never touched instant lottery tickets again.

 

A lifetime in an instant

I had an unusual experience the other day when I crossed paths with a stranger. The boy was about eight years old and sat in the back of a pickup truck with his legs hanging off the tailgate. He swung his legs back and forth while he looked down towards the ground. As I walked by on my way to the library, the boy looked up at me. His light blue eyes locked on mine and I thought I looked into his soul. In my mind’s eye I saw the boy grow up and graduate high school, then I saw him older still and holding hands and swinging arms with a pretty girl in a summer dress. Then, I saw this stranger as an old man on a porch, rocking back and forth, back and forth, looking off in the distance intently scanning the horizon. Patiently waiting, watching.

A moment later I saw the young boy again, his gaze shifted back to the ground. His legs swung back and forth.

As I continued walking, the image of the boy and the life I imagined for him played over in my mind.

But I don’t have a bucket list

One of the Daily Prompts suggested doing a post about the 11th item on my bucket list. There’s one little problem with that one. I don’t have a bucket list. I have a few ideas in mind as to what I want to do before I die, just not in list form.

How could I expand on #11, if I don’t have an ordered list. I went to Google for inspiration, quickly found bucketlist.com and began browsing. Unfortunately, they stopped me with an overlay which popped up saying I had to join in order to see more. How annoying. So, I moved on.

Then I found John Goddard’s life list. As I was looking it over seeing all of the items ticked off I thought this guy has had quite the adventurous life. He’s climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored the Amazon River, rode a horse in the Rose Parade, flew in a blimp and became an Eagle Scout. Near the end of the list I saw an odd entry: Light a match with .22 rifle. How and – perhaps more importantly – why would you want to do such a thing?

Since Google is my friend, I went back in search of an answer. The first result gave up the goods. Once upon a time lighting a match with a .22 was a common carnival game. If you were successful, you’d win the big prize. Interesting, but I don’t think I’ll add that to my list.

So what is my #11? I’m still not sure. Perhaps it’s a hot air balloon ride or driving a Lamborghini? Maybe visiting the Smithsonian or learning to surf? How about watching a lava flow? I don’t know. I’ll have to work on it.

 

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing…

Some people charge through life with purpose and determination. They have a clear goal in mind and work towards it every day. Unfortunately, for most of my life I was not one of those people. My life could better be described by the song lyric from Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart:

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowin’, I took a wrong turn and I just kept goin’.

In school I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. My mom suggested a career in science, studying the composition of materials and foods (but then what mom didn’t). Okay, I’ll do that. Until I started college. I realized that I didn’t really want to be a scientist, so how about something in computers? “No, the computer science field will be saturated when you graduate”, said my guidance counselor. “Accounting is where you want to be.” Oh, okay.

That lasted for two years. Two long, boring years. Then one day, I’d had enough. I remember one accounting class professor saying at the start of the semester that the class will in no way prepare you for the CPA exam. Then why was I here? Do I really want to be an accountant? No. So I dropped out and went to work at a convenience store.

I enjoyed RC planes as a hobby and a coworker suggested I go to work at a local company that distributed those toys. Her son did and he got great deals on the planes and gear. Oh, okay.

So I got a new job there and that’s where I still am today, two decades later. My interest in RC has long since faded.

Last year, though, things began to change. I read a book …

Well, I’ll save that story for another time.

This Is Your Song

The most precious thing I’ve ever lost

Tags

,

My wedding ring. I lost it. I reached my desk at work one winter morning eight years ago and discovered my gold wedding band was not on my finger. Though I always wear it, I convinced myself that I had indeed just forgotten to put it on that day. Not to worry, I’d find the ring in the drawer next to my bed when I got home.

When I arrived home after work, I went straight to the bedroom and looked through the drawer. Hmm, not there. I went through my pants pockets from the day before. Nothing. My heart was beginning to pick up tempo, my breathing more labored. Where could it be? I tried to visualize the last time I put it on. I had the ring that morning, I was sure of it. I retraced my steps to the car, then the next day at work. I looked everywhere in the car, in the driveway, in the house, in the grassy area in the parking lot. My ring was gone. Sigh. After ten years of marriage. My wife wasn’t going to be happy about this.

I enlisted the help of my coworkers who said they’d keep an eye out for it. But after a month without success, I figured I needed to get a replacement so I went to a local jewelry store and asked the man how much it would cost to replace my ring. Whoa, the price he quoted was a lot more than I had originally paid. So, I ended up choosing a lesser quality ring. Only this one was a half-size smaller. My fingers shrink in the winter so the new ring wouldn’t come off as easily.

Then a week later, I was getting some food crumbs out of the kid’s car seat and what do you think I found? Besides small bits of french fries and Cheerios, I found my original wedding ring. How did it get there? Apparently when I was getting my son in or out of his seat, my ring was pinched in the folds of the fabric. What a relief to find it!

Now I had two rings. My guy solution was to keep wearing the “new” ring because it’s smaller and stays on my hand just fine in the cold weather. In the warmer months, I switch back to the original. My wife doesn’t think much of this, but I can rest easy knowing I won’t be losing my ring again.

And that’s the most precious thing I’ve ever lost… and (thankfully) found.

Daily Prompts Return to The Daily Post!

I think I’ve found my muse

Tags

, , ,

Somewhere inside I feel there’s a writer that wants to express himself. For years I’ve tried off and on (mostly off) to put one word in front of another in some semblance of a coherent narrative or pithy prose. All for naught. When my first son was born I tried keeping a journal. I kept it alright… kept it out of sight so I wouldn’t be reminded of what I wasn’t doing. I still have the precious few pages written in longhand in a spiral-bound notebook.

Fast forward several years to when I started a blog on WordPress.com. This very one. The early posts are pathetic. I keep them around to remind myself that I have actually hit “publish” a few times. I thought if I could get some sort of routine going, I could eventually find my voice, write interesting content, get followers, and all that jazz. I ended up with a few posts about things I have around the house. (I’ll pause for a moment while you click through the archives to enjoy those treasures.)

I thought with the new year I’d start off with a resolution to blog regularly. Nothing like a vague, generic goal to all but guarantee failure. That’s when I received notice of a blogging class starting up in January. Aha, that’s the ticket. So I joined, read the emails, … and did no blogging. Granted it’s only been three days, but I can see I’m just not in tune with the class. They’re tweaking taglines, visualizing their ideal reader(s), and other meaty blogging things like that. I’m not even at that level yet. It’s blogging 101, but I need blogging 10.

Anyway, it was while I was clicking random links in the class email that I discovered the Daily Prompt. Have you heard of this? Apparently every day, some kind soul at WordPress.com posts a topic to blog about. From cool, to random, to deep. I sampled a few and I’m excited. I’ve finally found my muse (cue inpirational music).

Iron

Tags

I used to only wear polo shirts. The wash, dry, wear kind. Wrinkle free. Perfect for a single guy. Then I got married. My wife offered to iron my shirts if I would wear button downs. That worked for a while, but eventually my shirts fell to the bottom of her priority list so I was back to the polos. One day I decided to help out and learn to iron. After watching a couple of YouTube videos I was set. For Christmas I received a “classic” iron. Simple, heavy, steamy. Works like a charm. Once a month when I run out of ironed shirts, I set up the ironing board and do them all.