Friday, December 31, 2010

Goals Both Old and New

Lots of blogs have 'Best of' Lists, Resolutions, Re-Caps, and other such things in order to put the year that is about to leave us behind into some kind of perspective.

The celebration of the coming of The New Year.

It's such a part of the fabric of human nature isn't it? To try to bring order to our lives in this manner, when in fact there really is going to be no difference between today and tomorrow.

Not really.

And yet, somehow, there is.

It's strangely the weirdest frakkin' thing I have every tried to wrap my pea-brain around, and I have never really been able to. Why do we get SO wrapped up in it? Every single solitary year? And oh boy do we ever?

It's become a ritual for us. And we all believe, we desperately believe, that THIS year will be the one that we REALLY follow through on the promises we make to ourselves to power forward and make the changes in our lives we need to make.

Can you imagine what Life would be like if we lived every day like we do during the week of January 1-7? The effort we put into that week? What a difference we might make for real in our lives and in the lives of others?

But there is always that falloff isn't there? That loss of momentum. That old routine and those old pitfalls that creep back in and take hold of you and keep you from achieving whatever lofty goals you set out for yourself. Whatever 'resolutions' you made.

You know what the real key is, to any of that yeah?


I think as a society as a whole we lack it a great deal. I know for myself, it is the one thing that I recognize that if I could get a handle on it, my life would improve in dramatic fashion. It is THE key to unlock so many doors, and I know that with every fiber of my being.

Yet something holds me back from actually taking my life by the balls and living a more self-disciplined life. I'm not 100% sure of the answer, but I have a theory I'm working on. What is the most likely answer?

Fear of failure.

I think that is why most people do not try. They do not try because they are afraid to fail. If you do not try...hey guess what? You do NOT fail. Therefore why try? It is very simple, straightforward logic. It SUCKS, but it's absolutely sound thinking even though you don't want it to make that much sense, but it does when you get right down to it. It is much more comfortable to NOT fail than to fail, yes?

But then learn SO much more from your failures than your successes, don't you? I have learned a HELLUVA lot in the past 2 years, let me tell you. Been doing quite a bit of failing. Or have I? Maybe not. That is perhaps an argument best left to another post.

This post is mostly about goals. I thought about writing what my goals are for 2011. I actually do have a few. But then I thought...nah, everybody is going to be doing that. There will be plenty of time for that later. Besides, one of my key goals, that of leading a more self-disciplined life, is going to be the centerpiece for 2011, so I'll introduce the concept of self-discipline and then move on to something interesting I found the other day while cleaning out some computer files.

I cannot remember when I wrote this, but I am guessing it was probably around 1995-ish or so. I say that because of the type of file format it was in, the most basic of text files (I could not find a date stamp of any kind on it), and a couple of the things on it I had not done yet so I know it had to take place prior to me leaving Georgia for Ohio.

So that puts the approximate date of me writing this at somewhere between 1995-1997 or so. I was around 28-30 years old, sort of what I looked like in the above photo. See the hair loss taking full hold?

Anyway, thought it might be interesting to share. The italicized parts are my own comments written today about what I wrote then.

What is my obsession with Top 50? Can I not be satisfied with TENS???

1. Get married and have my own family.
DONE. WTF!?! That was my NUMBER ONE GOAL. I never, in a million years, would have guessed I was thinking that at age 28-30. It must really HAVE been important to me.

2. Pay off my student loan.
Not even CLOSE.

3. To give gifts of art to people.
I still do not do this. I always say that around Christmas time. That I will draw stuff for people. I NEVER do.

4. Weigh 170 again.
My weight must have been up at the time, probably around 185. I did achieve this goal, I actually exceeded it. I dropped back down to 168, which was where I was when I met Jennifer Saunders, who would end up becoming Jennifer Lilly. The years have not been kind though. Leading up to pre-Bennett seizures, I had creeped up to 192. Then I quit smoking. I charge up the hill to 208. During the height of Bennett's issues? I hit 248. TWO-FUCKING-FORTY-EIGHT. I'm down again to 211, and still dropping, around 2 a week. I'm not trying to lose more than that per week. I set mini goals, 5 pounds at a time. A lesson I learned from Mike Horn. Guy teaches me a lot of lessons.

5. Quit smoking.
DONE. Yes indeed I actually did this one. But I'd be lying if I said it was easy. Especially when Bennett started seizing 2 months in.

6. Write a novel.
Have not done this, but it is still VERY much on my mind. More now than ever before.

7. Write and draw a Children's book.

8. Learn to play poker.
DONE. NOT well, but I did learn how to play. But that was NUMBER 8? Now I know this was written between 1995-1997, I was smoking a TON of weed in those days. Because...

9. To stop smoking pot.

10. Buy a house.
DONE. Actually, I've done this more than once, though I have never outright OWNED a house. Big difference. Banks have owned them. And frankly? I wish right now I did NOT own this house. I am stuck in it. It appraises FAR lower than what I paid.

11. Write a letter to my father who I haven't spoken to since I was ten years old.
DONE. Of course, he was dead by the time I got around to it. Fuck. That shows you something...sometimes? You need to act on your goals with more velocity.

12. Make 100K per year.
DONE. Well, I did it only one year out of 42. Not bad. I would love to be making that again some day. But it ain't gonna be any day soon I can tell you that. :)

13. Create a studio.
Still have never done this for myself, and I have always wanted to. By this I mean an office/studio environment set up at home for me to not only do computer work but also to get back to larger scale drawing and painting and other types of art again.

14. Paint a mural size painting again, at least 8 feet by 12 feet.
See #13.

15. Get my work shown in a gallery.
Hasn't happened yet. But then again I haven't actually tried to establish a 'Body of Work' either. When I wrote this I assumed I was going to be a 2-dimensional artist for a career. My career took a different path.

16. Complete my vintage carded Star Wars collection.
Actually, I started selling OFF most of my vintage Star Wars collection, so this one went in the opposite direction and will probably never be completed unless I win the lottery. Shit happens, waddya gonna do? We needed the money. See #1.

17. Have sex five times a week.
I must not have been getting any when I wrote this, but I'm sure this was achieved at some point. It's not something I consider important now. Not that I consider it UN-important to have sex, but to me, quality is WAY more important that quantity, so I would not have written this goal this particular way were I making a goals list today.

18. Have my comic book work published.
DONE. Granted, the publishers were small, and sometimes I did not even get paid, but I was published a few times. I did not actually succeed in breaking into the door of the big boys, something I went over briefly in an earlier blog, but I did try. A lot.

19. Go camping on a regular basis.
This is a weird one, because I have the opportunity every year to go camping but I turn it down. But I viewed camping in 95-97 VERY differently than the camping that takes place now. Camping in my head in 95-97 was me and a couple of buds or me and a girl hiking somewhere and setting up a tent and sleeping bags and stuff. No kids.

20. Design and produce a line of action figures.
DONE. And done and done. Lots of lines of action figures. It must have been on my mind to do it. Funny that it became my main career for a very long time.

21. Get a tattoo.
Still have not. Still want to.

22. Run five miles without stopping.
Could probably do it ONLY if zombies were chasing me. And even then that's a big MAYBE. I gotta get back into shape.

23. Live a healthy and thoughtful lifestyle.
Um...yeah, definitely need to work on that one. I actually did for a while in between 97 and now. Got into TERRIFIC shape, ate healthy, was doing very well. That was around 98-02.

24. Organize all my photos and letters into albums.
Done a good portion of that. And beyond. Have digitally scanned about 75% of all the photos. At the time I did not know you could do that yet.

25. Draw in a sketchbook every day.
Something I should do and do not. In fact, I SHOULD do it with Carter. That would be a great activity to do with my son, no?

26. Regularly call my mother and other people I lose track of.
DONE. Sort of. Hmmm...this one is FUNNY. So, I was thinking about this in 1997? And it only took me a little over a DECADE to actually pull the trigger on a regularly scheduled phone call with Mom? Wow. Now I need to get humping on Richard and a few other people. Well, not actually HUMPING Richard, but you know what I meant.

27. Go Scuba Diving to get over my fear of Sharks.
DONE. Sort of. I did go snorkeling to get over my fear of Sharks. I didn't get over my fear of Sharks though.

28. Go Deep Sea Fishing.

29. Volunteer my time to a good cause.
Once did a dinner at The Ronald McDonald House with Palisades. That was about it. Holy Shit I really need to do more. I have tried to volunteer at Bennett's school but so far they have not been able to work anything out. But I have made the offer on numerous occasions. But I should look into something else in 2011 for sure.

30. Have confidence in my self and my abilities.
LOL. Yeah, right.

31. Learn how to make furniture.
Not yet...

32. Clean up after myself rather than let messes pile up.
I actually did this one. Then I had kids. Messes pile up faster than I can keep up so I stopped trying.

33. Own a truck again.
I used to have an awesome truck. Loved it. A truck is not practical when you have a family, unless you like King Cabs. I hate those. Maybe when I retire.

34. Get a Golden Labrador.
Hmmm...haven't yet, and I do get lonely...

35. Have a garden and grow my own tomatoes.
Would definitely have to do more landscaping first before Mrs. Lilly would agree to this.

36. Take an active interest in a retirement and investment plan.
Wow, 13-15 years and I still haven't done shit about this. retirement is gonna suck.

37. Learn to play piano.
I'll tell you this right now. This will NEVER happen. Though I did make the attempt. Funny story. One day I'll tell it.

38. Buy a hot tub.
I think I will need a deck first.

39. Write a synopsis of my life before I forget all the details.
That's a strange one. But I would say this blog qualifies, wouldn't you? I mean, I haven't covered EVERYTHING but a lot of stuff is in here. And I think maybe by the time I get to Post 500 maybe my entire life might be covered generally speaking in here. I'll give this one a 'DONE'.

40. Learn about and practice massage techniques.
Still haven't. And would love to. I own a great massage table that I bought for Jennifer a couple of years ago. I fuddle about on it with her but I would love to learn more about how the muscles actually need to be worked specifically in massage.

41. Teach a class.
I have been thinking about a career path...of course, maybe a massage therapist as well?

42. Learn to meditate.
Might be something to think about. Relaxation has always been hard to achieve for me, and clearly I need to now more than ever.

43. Re-examine my Faith.
Interesting how little things change in ten years isn't it? Here I sit, still re-examining my Faith. Funny that. In a sense, maybe I think that EXAMINING one's Faith is something that is an ongoing journey? Food for thought.

44. Exercise every day.
I've had periods where this would be a 'DONE' and periods where it would not be. Truthfully? It should always be a 'DONE'. Exercise is probably THE best thing for me mentally and physically. I want to do it, I need to do it. I'm going to do it again, daily. Nuff said.

45. To socialize more with new and different people.
Ahhh...tricky. Define 'socialize'. If you mean in physical space, the answer would be 'no'. However, if you count the numerous unique and interesting relationships I have formed over the Internet in the past couple of years, the answer is 'DONE'. I do, however, need to get out more.

46. Read more classic literature.
Oh good GOD...I hardly READ, period. Let alone the classics. Who has the time? But my real excuse is mainly my vision. It fuggin' SUCKS. It is very hard for me to read. If you saw the coke bottles I have to put on just to read a book you'd laugh your ASS off.

47. Learn a foreign language, preferably Chinese.
Nope. But here's what I do not get. Why the HELL did I pick CHINESE?!? I had NO idea whatsoever that I would be going to China on a regular basis in my career in a few years. So why THAT language? I wish I could remember what my motivation was.

48. To ask more people about themselves and really listen to them when they answer.
DONE. I used to have a problem when I would have conversations with people, always trying to think of what to say next rather than hearing what the person was saying. It was part of feeling nervous. I got over that. I now listen VERY intently to people.

49. Buy a boat.
Wouldn't do me a lick of good out here, I must have assumed one day I would wind up back on the coast. And also, specifically I wanted something less flashy, I wanted something like the Orca from Jaws.

50. Ride a horse in Montana.
No idea why this was the last entry. I think I had a romanticized view of a ranch in Montana and vacationing there and learning how to be a cowboy, riding a horse and all that shit. I think it actually just shows that I had a yearning for a simpler life. Always will probably.

And that's that. Not sure if all those goals still mean nearly as much to me 13-15 years later as they did then. Some I'm definitely sure are not as important, and some I have already achieved and moved on with. I for sure have others I would have to add now that my life has changed so dramatically since those days and hell, especially in the last two years.

Hope you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane inside my mind. It was definitely...different.

See you on the other side.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

I’m a Driver. I’m a Winner.

Things are gonna change I can feel it.

I know everyone was on the edge of their collective seats, wondering how I fared in my Fantasy Football Super Bowl, especially considering the fact that Sunday Night's Vikings/Eagles game was canceled due to snow and moved to Tuesday. Excuse me?

Yes, the debate continues to rage about just how far this whole 'safety' thing is really going to go, and some fear that soon we will see flags dangling from the belts of our beloved players, but let's hope not. Me? I want to see it go the OTHER way.

Yup. Random land mines throughout the field, set by the league, so neither team knows where they are.

But I digress.

Indeed, no need to drag it out or try to surprise you (I think the title KIND of gave it away already, no?) but yes, I did win the Creatus Maximus Fantasy Football League Super Bowl. My team, Go-Go Godzilla!!! beat hbk1313 by the final score of 144 to 120.

This is the first Super Bowl victory for any Fantasy Team I have ever had in ANY league anywhere. This is not a 'money league'. By that I mean, I didn't put any money into a pot and so, in the end, I didn't actually WIN anything. Hell, not even a trophy.

If I felt like so inclined, I could order the Official Yahoo 2010 Bobblehead to commemorate my victory, but have you seen this turd?

I mean, HOLY SHIT. What a piece of junk.

This was one of the things Mike Horn and I used to talk about when I worked for him at The MVP Collection, creating a series of bronzed, smaller scale busts of players or SOMETHING that could be customized via printing on the base or a plate or something for people who are exactly in the position that I am in RIGHT NOW.

We even experimented with a 'bronze effect' on the Troy Polamalu bust that we were working on before I was laid off. The factory did a version with and without 'oxidation' effect. I was WAY more into the one that looked like it was aged. Sucks that those pieces are over in China right now, either broken into pieces or gathering dust somewhere, along with my beloved Ravens helmet. They were GORGEOUS busts.

The scary thing is, I would go right to the MVP site, TODAY, and place an order of a bronzed Ray Lewis Mini-Bust or some other football item if it was high enough quality, and if it was from us I know it would have been, with my 2010 League Championship info or score or whatever placed on the base of the bust in some fashion and proudly display it.

Ah, the what-might-have-been's...

But celebrate my victory, my first ever Championship victory after nine years or so of playing Fantasy Football with a cheap Bobblehead that looks like he is trying to take a dump?

I think I will pass on that and try to make a trophy on my own. I'll keep you posted. Hmmm...perhaps a Lomboobie Trophy? There's an idea...


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas Miracle


And of course, this woman has NOTHING to do with what I am going to write about. But hell...if the chick pics get the page views, then by GOD I'll do what I have to do. And hey, she is pretty miraculous, huh guys? (The few guys who actually read this thing...and to the gals, um...sorry.)

OK...moving along.

I started out with a post that I had begun to write on Christmas Eve, about something good, something that, in reality, was a Christmas Miracle*, if one could be said to exist in my world, and yet to get to that point in a day filled with tremendous ups and downs the damn thing turned into a novel.

SO, I had to cut it up and figure out a way to chop it into some different blogs for different times. Let's focus, for now, on just the good part of that day, not the twists and turns that got me to it.

Besides, been doing a LOT of bitching here lately, haven't I?

It's OK, I can admit it. Call me Mr. Scrooge if you want to. Or worse, I can take it. I wore my big boy pants today. Well, I wear them every day, to be quite honest, but that's besides the point. I just sometimes get them soaked with tears by not ACTING like a big boy. At least I stopped peein' in 'em.

Hey. Shit happens, what can I tell you?

It's a Hard Knock Life. Sometimes.

Other times? It isn't. Other times? I have my head out of my ass long enough to appreciate the fact that it could be worse. It smells much better out here, let me be up front about that. Far easier to breathe and a lot less peanuts.

And since I've done my fair share of pointing out just how horrible Life has been of late, I would be completely and utterly remiss if I did not acknowledge something that was absolutely...not.

Besides, I owe you all that much.

Especially after Thursday, after you granted my first Christmas wish and bumped that Followers list over 100. Many thanks for that by the way.

If anyone else is looking for any last minute gift ideas for me. I really want a Gandalf Premium Format Statue...or I can wait until January 25th for Dead Space 2 for the X-Box 360. I already treated myself to Call of Duty: Black Ops. Yes...I broke my own game rule.

And, of course, I can now have a sense of inner peace knowing that I enter 2011 having broken three digits on the Followers badge with enough to spare that it can withstand the few that fall off. And there will be fall-off. Always is. I was so psyched when I broke 300 on my friends list on Facebook. Then noticed it was 294 one day.

Major bummer.

But I was not bummed out on Christmas Eve. Well I was at first.

Things...were not going well. I had been having...well, a very emotional day (I had written a TON about that, but let's save it for a rainy, dismal day, shall we? More fitting). Carter was upset over many things. Bennett? I might as well change his name right now to Hellboy, because there are times he is simply a Seed of Destruction. I swear that he has cost us hundreds, maybe into the thousands, of dollars worth of damage to stuff in this calendar year due to his aggression.

One of my goals in 2011 is to try to solve that particular problem. Maybe I can, maybe I can't, but I am determined to give it my best shot.

But the psychological toll his behavior is taking on poor Carter really gets to me, because Carter doesn't understand why his brother suddenly clocks him, for no apparent reason. I don't get it either. I also don't get why Bennett pushes me away when I try to hold him. 97.987% of the time.

We'd planned some things for Christmas Eve. All shitcanned due to the weather forecast. Cloudy with a Chance of Bennett. No one had the strength or the energy to move forward with him in the Red Zone. No one had the will. The spirit. We were all just fucking drained. I don't even think we ate dinner. We just foraged for food in the cupboards.

At around 9-ish, Bennett chilled for a few hours. He must have found one of Daddy's old reefer stashes that even Daddy had LONG since forgotten about. The Feral Kid took a break. We have no idea why. He was giggling, he was playing, he was laughing. He was engaging with toys, his brother, his mother, and God help me...even his father. He let me pick him up, he let me hold him, he even let me play with him a little while.

It was the second greatest gift I could have received that hour or two of peace and joy and quiet amusement amidst what has become the most intense and chaotic period of our roller coaster of a life.

When it came time to take the kids to bed, Jen said to Bennett to say 'Nite-Nite', which he did, in fairly clear Binglish. She said 'Give Daddy a kiss.' This usually means Bennett will kiss his hand looking past me at the curtains. Instead he walked over to me, and for the first time in his life he leaned over in my general direction and put his face next to mine and made the *swak sound*. His face never got closer than ten inches, but it didn't matter, it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen him do, and the single most directly affectionate act he has ever bestowed upon me since February 11, 2009.

It was wonderful, amazing, all the things you want it to be. And yet even now I hesitated..., hell it has been almost a week, and I was not sure if I should share it with you or not. Why? I feel so guilty. I'd been sitting on it and sitting on it. The 'Publish Post' Button was always there, but I'd yet to work up the courage.

It was complete, and here I am, today, revising it again...because today I read SingleDad's response to a comment I made a while ago in one of his posts and I realized some things that made me feel like even more of an asshole than I already felt. Why did I feel like a sphincterino?

For hijacking his blog, for making assumptions about how other people deal with their own lives and how they feel regarding their own kids, and for leaping to the conclusion that this was something you 'get over', which was just a dumb thing to even suggest. I was projecting a fear of mine, not thinking things through clearly enough.

You know, crazy radical thought here...maybe I don't feel that things just happen for NO reason...the jury is still out on that. Because why then, today, did I also happen to get into a discussion via e-mail with someone whom I met through SD's blog about guilt and measuring one's own circumstances against someone else and it reminded me that I often have to continually remind myself that everyone's slice of Hell's Pizza has it's own unique toppings on it?

And it reinforced to me that I should write about that Christmas Eve moment with Bennett, that I should discuss it. This was my slice of Hell's Pizza, and I got a temporary reprieve from it that one could look at as maybe some positive signs to hope for changes down the road, and I am responsible enough to recognize that disability life is no different than regular life in the sense that everybody's is unique and different, and it doesn't mean that we don't all have a helluva lot to learn from each other. No matter what.

In fact, and I hope she (my e-mail pal) does not mind me swiping a quote from her e-mail, but she said something that really fascinated me. She said 'I think humanity owes a lot to the parents of kids with disabilities who blog. The world is able to see somewhat, what it is like to raise a disabled kid....all of the work both physical and emotional.'

I found that very poignant, and something I had never considered about the very act of blogging in general. Since blogging is something that is beyond 'reporting' or 'writing articles'.

It is a very unique form of writing, something we just haven't seen much of in our human history. I wonder...a few hundred years from now when we are enslaved by a race of insect-like aliens and our species is almost entirely wiped out, what emotions or regard will our descendants look back on these blogs with and gravitate to?

Will they respect and admire and want to preserve and read the blogs about celebrities or fashion trends or the newest iCrap? Or blogs about real people in extraordinary circumstances?

Probably the latter.


*Please note that in my world, I use the world miracle to describe something way cool that happens with NO CAUSAL EXPLANATION GIVEN. Draw your own conclusions. If you are Christian and wish to believe the Hand of God reached down and knocked over a chess piece, be my guest, that is not what I believe. When I use the word I am just saying 'HOLY SHIT THAT ROCKED AND I DIDN'T SEE IT COMING.'

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Magic Number is 8. Again

I'm a clever son of a bitch, you gotta give me credit for that huh? See? The last post about the Number 8, about Followers, I was able to segue into this post because I was so busy over the weekend I wasn't able to write anything until today's post, and since today's post specifically involves the number 8 again, I was able to link the two titles together in a very...

Ah...who gives a shit, really?

What's important is this, dear readers...EIGHT years ago today, on December 27th, 2002, I got married.

Somehow I got myself a real hottie too.

Go figure.

I am 100% geek and I'll never win a beauty contest. I'm socially awkward at times though at other times, when I feel confident, I can be charming beyond measure, it just depends on the circumstances. I'm very unpredictable in that way. It's one of the things I wish I could figure out how to have control over within myself, because when I can BE that confident person I can accomplish tremendous things, like getting the girl. But when I am full of self-doubt and other things that weigh me down, well, you've seen it unfold first hand here.

It can paralyze me.

It's downright FUGLY.

But I guess I happened to be in the right state of mind, and in the right place at the right time in my life and circumstances were right in the life of Jennifer Saunders when our paths intersected. It is, quite frankly, a fascinating story how the two of us ended up together. I touched upon it only BRIEFLY in the first couple of entries in the 50 Random Things I'm Thankful For thing I went on with in November.

Perhaps one day I will tell the full tale.

Oh and by the way, it is true, Jennifer rarely reads this blog, and she still has never seen that 50 Random Things thing...she MIGHT see this one if she happens upon this page before it changes tomorrow, and then she MIGHT hit the link above if she skims down to it MAYBE.

Fellow blogger SingleDad once said to me, in a private (WELL NOT ANYMORE, JACKASS) e-mail that he would find a blog written by my wife very interesting. As would I!!! I laughed out loud. Not at him. Just at the very notion of that concept overall. While Jennifer doesn't stop me from doing it and she accepts that I have this...compulsion to do what I do, she has never fully understood why I do it. (Hey...sometimes I don't either.) And she would never do it. Just not her style. She is not an open book.

I am.

That's probably why the two of us have stayed together, even through all of this bullshit of the past 21 months. We tend to bookend each other in a lot of ways. In ways that people on the outside looking in do not see, but the two of us do. And we have a deep appreciation for that, we've talked about it.

So even though there is a better then 50% chance that you will never see this, and even though Carter is home sick today and he's back to having blood in his pee again and it's got us both worried to death, you're working from home today because the Home Health Aide called in sick and Bennett is wailing like a banshee over pretty much everything and today we can't quite figure out what he wants.

Meanwhile he entertains himself and alleviates his clear-cut boredom by beating on and biting Carter who is then screaming at Bennett and the house is in an unusually high state of chaos (even for us), occasionally there are a few moments of peace where we pass by each other and I look at you and you look at me and we smile or chuckle, and somehow, in some way I don't think I can explain to you or you can explain to me, it gets us through.

Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Lilly.

Same time next year? :P


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Magic Number is 8

There are 8 more days left until 2010 is over.

And ironically, because of the fact that in the past week Blogzilly picked up a couple more followers, there are only 8 more slots needed to get to the magic number of 100.

Now I know that it means two things.

Jack and Shit.

But for some strange reason I cannot put my overly chewed-up finger on I want that number at 100. Call it the anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive aspect of my personality. Or just call it looking for anything to CALL a victory even though it may have no meaning in what has been arguably the most difficult year of all my 43.

I thought last year was.

I was wrong. This year has it beat. I'll explain why in a re-cap of 2010, the bad AND the good, but 2009 was definitely an easier year to get through.

Anyway...just thought I'd toss that out case anyone wanted to invite a friend over to Blogger or something. I'll even send them some nude photos or something. Not of ME or anything, God no...of somebody. I'm sure I can find some, if that's their thing. Or something else.

My point is I can think of something. I am not above bribery.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gentlemen...Start Your Screaming

I've mentioned before that lately Bennett has had some rather peculiar behaviors. Well, he's had LOTS of peculiar behaviors for a long time now, but these particular ones have really started to shake me up.

What's rather ironic is that at the core of this is a behavior that is very natural and very normal. Yes, I said NORMAL. I have no issue with the word NORMAL. Being forced to say typical just rubs me the wrong way. Just like being forced to say 'Differently Abled' instead of 'Disabled'.

Look, I can get behind not saying 'Retarded'. I get it. Frankly, the word rubs me the wrong way too sometimes, particularly because I know one day some stuck up, thumb-up-his ass kid who needs to be knocked down several pegs will call my son that and many things far worse. I understand the whole 'R-Word' movement. But 'Differently-Abled'? lose me.

But back to Bennett. The normal behavior he exhibits is Separation Anxiety. The boy misses his Mommy when she leaves him. Who wouldn't? Hell, I miss her when she leaves me, but I can usually control myself.

But Bennett?


The boy loses it. Big time.

And when I say he loses it, I mean he loses it. He screams, he cries, he runs around in a complete panic. He bites himself all over his arms. To the point where he leaves horrible bruises on them. He throws things. At me usually. He pulls his pants off. Rips his diaper off. Tries to knock stuff over. And to me, the worst part, he slams his head into the walls and into the floor. Repeatedly and very, very hard.

My job is to try to stop him, to protect him, WITHOUT REINFORCING HIM.

See, that's the trick, I learned in ABA Therapy 101, a little seminar I took for Parents held by Bennett's school. I can't really react to what Bennett is doing, because that only gives Bennett reinforcement. But I have to be able to be there and try to re-direct him and protect him at the same time while NOT showing like I care or am interested in what he is doing.

I'd be lying if I told you I fully understand:

A) How to do this effectively.
B) That I am even DOING it effectively.
C) That there is even a way to DO it effectively.
D) That it matters at all in the long run.

I do not know how long this will last in him. I do know that things have changed between Bennett and me of late. I am not sure why, though I am guessing that this whole Separation Anxiety is part of it, because it seems like his pulling away from me has coincided with the SA.

Bennett, quite frankly, wants little or nothing to do with me anymore.

I try to engage with him, what they call 'pairing' in ABA Therapy vernacular, but it usually doesn't work, because when I get down to play with him in his environment, he generally runs away and goes somewhere else. There are a few moments, but they are VERY few, where he will interact with me. But for the most part, he steers clear of me.

He used to be into feeling the texture of my head when it was on say, day 3-4 of not I thought OK, I'll even try letting my hair grow again, for real, so I didn't shave it for a couple weeks, got him to touch it and for a little while he was actually semi-interested in what was going on up there, but that interest faded fairly quickly.

My hair growing simply was not as exciting as pulling Jennifer's hair or spinning the lids of our pots and pans or some of the very few toys he will engage in now.

For the next two and a half weeks, Bennett's school is closed for the holidays. On Monday and Tuesday Jennifer worked from home (she has a home office as well as an office she commutes to, near Bennett's school). But today she could no longer stay here, she had to go in.

The morning went as I expected it to. Bennett went crazy, and I tried to protect him (NOT) and stop him (NOT) and show him things were going to be OK (NOT) and calm him down (NOT) until he calmed down. Around 15 minutes later, he did calm down, but he still would not really come that close to me. Like that wolf in Dances with Wolves, it took a while for me to get him to come over and take some bites of applesauce in order to get him his morning medication.

Maybe I should just change his name now to 'Two-Socks'?

We sat there on the floor, I on my knees with a cup of applesauce in one hand and a spoon in the other, he laying on the floor fiddling with the lid of a coffee can. He was looking at the ceiling. I was talking to him, or trying to, I don't know of course if he understands me, but I try to talk to him as if he does.

I tell him that I love him and that I'm here for him if he needs anything, and that Daddy will always be here if he needs me. I asked him if he wanted a hug or anything, even though I knew I wasn't going to get a response. I am not sure why I did that. Made no sense to me at the time.

Because then I just burst into tears. Not the small kind either, the big, powerful, body shaking, headache-for-the-rest-of-the-day type of sobbing. I had not been alone in a while, and it just came pouring out. (Funny that...I just wrote that without thinking. 'I had not been alone in a while.' I was not alone. Bennett was right there, and yet I FELT ALONE. That right there describes how distant the chasm is between us.)

If I had done that in front of Carter when he was 3 years old, Carter would have immediately reacted. He would have come over to me, said 'Daddy, what's wrong, are you OK?' and tried to console me. I know this because Carter caught me crying when I got the news that my father had died and he was like 3 1/2 or something and it really shook him up.

Bennett did nothing. He just played with his coffee can lid and sucked his thumb.

When it was over, I wiped off my face and laughed at how fucked up our life is. How surreal this moment on the living room floor was. How, if someone had described it to me years before as my future would I have really believed them? It was just so out there in its oddness.

I just smiled at Bennett, and asked him if he wanted more applesauce. He said 'Eat', as he usually does when it comes to food, and I gave him a few more bites. Eventually, the Home Health Aide (who we lose to Nursing School in 2 weeks) showed up (she is doing day shifts during this time off from school THANK GOD) and he went off to play with her (he enjoys her company much more than mine) and I started trying to get some work done.

I can hear him in the other room.



It is nice. I am thrilled that he is a happy boy. I am thrilled that he is alive, that he is loved, and that he is progressing, even though it is at a pace that would make a snail jealous.

But I do often wonder if it will ever be my turn again to be his Father. Probably. Maybe. But I can't really know that. Many of you would say, with good intention, that I should be hopeful, that of course he will come around, that this is just a phase and that things will improve and he will eventually move past this and start having a relationship with me again.

And you'd be human to want to do so.

You'd also be talking directly out of your smelly asshole...because you have no idea at all what he will or won't do.

None of us do.

See, we can always talk about the fact that Bennett got a diagnosis of PDD-NOS/Autism, that Bennett has this disability or is in this therapy or that therapy, but the main thrust of any conversation has to be that Bennett had a Brain Tumor and as a result he had a temporal lobectomy to remove the tumor and at the time of the surgery the working theory was that the remaining 'good tissue' in his brain had to be given time to 'kick-in' and take over the deficiencies left behind by the tissue that was removed.

What you have to account for though, and what most fail to, is the fact that this Brain Tumor interacted (and badly) with the Pertussis in the DTaP 15-Month Vaccination given to Bennett on February 11th, 2009 (which of course we did not even know about at the time). So from February 12, 2009 through August 28, 2009, the end result becomes Bennett having hundreds of seizures (Infantile Spasms) per day, and the nearly always-present Hypsarrhythmia (abnormal interictal high amplitude waves and a background of irregular spikes seen on an EEG).

So the question to me will always remain thus:

Just how 'good' is that remaining 'good tissue' in his brain anyway, and does it have the capability to DO the things the surgeons wanted or hoped it would? Is it even CAPABLE of taking over the functions of the parts of his brain that were removed?

Only time will tell.

See? I told you it was a tough month this year. Christmas is three days away and this is the shit that is dancing around in my head.

Not sugar-plum fairies.

Will I get my happy back? The Mr. Positive I was showing so much of, especially over the last few months? Of course. This is a temporary set-back, mainly exacerbated by Christmas, and when Christmas passes, I can get on with some much-needed healing.

And next year, it could be an entirely different story.

A better story.

A happier story.

But this year?

Bah fucking humbug.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mr. Fantasy

WAY back at the beginning of the NFL season, I mentioned that for the first time that this was to be the first year in a LONG while I would not be participating in Fantasy Football.

Turns out I was wrong. At the 11th hour, my homies at the old Creatus Maximus message board pulled together a handful of guys to participate.

The season did not start well.

I had a dismal 2-4 record to start the year, even though I had some pretty good players, including the NFL's number one rusher in Arian Foster and Tom Brady, who I have had on my team as a QB almost every year and who always puts up good numbers.

After that 4th loss, I decided that I was sick of losing. I started making moves. I took some lessons to heart that I had learned from Mike Horn, who introduced me to Fantasy Football, and I started using the Free Agent market like a revolving door based on potential match-ups of the upcoming week. By the end of the season I had more 'moves' (transactions or movement of players) to and from the free agent list than any other manager.

I proceeded to win the next 7 games in a row. And although I'd love to take ALL the credit for that, I think a couple of the guys seemed to quit midway through and just didn't seem to care. In other words, they didn't make roster adjustments and kept players in their line-up they clearly should not have. (Does that tarnish this? Perhaps...but I'd rather enjoy it.)

I finished with a record of 9-4, one game under the leader of our league at 10-3. I had a playoff BYE, something I had never had before, since I was the number 2 seed. Then came this weekend's playoff game.

I won it.

What does that mean? It means that for the first time ever, since I stared playing Fantasy Football, next week my team will be playing in its first Fantasy Super Bowl. After starting 2-4. That's a pretty big deal to me, in a winter filled with lots of disappointment in a lot of different areas in my life, as stupid and ridiculous as this must sound to a lot of people, this one insignificant accomplishment actually means something to me.

And I know it sounds just as cliche as it does when the players in the NFL say it, but win or lose, I am just happy to have made it to the Super Bowl.

Fuck THAT.

I want to win it, obviously. I NEED it this month, it has been JUST as hard a month of December as I thought it was going to be and THEN some. And even though Elizabeth has already stopped reading by now since this is sports related, she totally could understand why something so little could become something so big in a world such as ours.

Clearly, it won't be an easy victory to pull out, my opponent's team is very, very good. He has won several Super Bowl's in our league. He USUALLY wins the Super Bowl in our league.


Sunday, December 19, 2010


I used to be a HUGE Major League Baseball fan, until I came to my senses and started liking the NFL.

One of the attractions to baseball was statistics. I love them. I do not know why, I am not a numbers guy in the slightest. I am terrible at Math. I struggled to get a 'C' in basic college Algebra.

So when I started reading Claire's Post about search word's that lead to her blog that were 'I Hate Having a Disabled Kid' I wondered first how she even knew how people were searching for her site, and then I wondered, what 'keywords' were people using that brought them to me?

Especially since my last post was about Blogzilly and its future, I was fascinated when Claire pointed me to a Statistics page I did not even know about. I have a SiteMeter thing that tells me how many page views I have and stuff though I have no idea what it means and the number is amazingly small, but this Statistics page in the Blogger user interface I never noticed before.

Wanna see some of the Statistics? They are fascinating.

Keywords - All-Time
Here is the list, All-Time, of Keywords that have led people to this blog. The field simply says 'Search Keywords', so I do not know where the searches actually took place. These are in order from top to bottom of most used.


resident evil alexia

fantasy world


holland sucks

random things to be thankful for

blogzilly blogspot

list of aed drugs

pictures of smiles

kenneth lilly galena ohio

Referring Sites All-Time
This should give you some idea of who is coming here from which website directly. At least, I think that is what it means. I am no Understander of All Things Web Related by any means, that is for sure.

Referring URL's All-Time
Not sure what this means does that differ from Web Sites? Wouldn't a URL be FROM a Web Site, and so if a URL referred someone here, why wouldn't this list match the list above? It does not. See? I told you that I am no Understander of All Things Web Related.,r:8,s:0&tx=110&ty=92

I dunno, I found it very interesting. But the most interesting overall? Which posts have been looked at the most.

Posts/Pageviews - All-Time
If I had been forced to guess, I would have been totally, 100% wrong. Even as I look at this list and think about the time span of all that has transpired over the past couple of years, I find this particular statistical analysis utterly FASCINATING.

Artists Alley: Alberto Vargas
Aug 18, 2009

Resident Evil Alexia Evolution
Mar 4, 2009

Nov 19, 2009

Re-Examining the Skull
Apr 22, 2010

My Top Ten Favorite Star Wars Moments
Nov 18, 2009

Chronolillogy II: Duke Nukem (Part 1)
Mar 25, 2009

House of the Dead 2
Jul 3, 2009

Just Me and The Kid
Apr 14, 2010

Nov 28, 2009

This Blogzilly is Rated 'R' for Use of the Word Retard
Oct 13, 2010

Very little to do with Bennett and his whole deal. Wacky. So what is this blog all about again? Kind of puts that question from the last post in a whole different perspective doesn't it?

The whole thing just blows my mind, though I do understand some of it is based on photographs, like that Just Me and the Kid probably has more to do with the photo from Spring Break than anything else. And Randomology is the same deal, the photo of what is supposed to be a turd costume (though I now look at it and realize that it is supposed to be a Hershey's Kiss I think).

Just crazy. Besides...I went back and re-read these and some other older posts. I'm now super depressed at how much has NOT changed in a freakin' year. No wonder this Christmas season has been sucking so badly. Our difficulty making the adjustment to 'Holland' has majorly affected a party we went to last night...I haven't decided yet what or how to write about that yet.

I'm never looking at these statistics pages again. It will drive me nuts.

OK, MORE nuts.


A Beautiful Blank Page

Christmas is over. That sound you hear is my sigh of relief. The tree is not actually down, as the opening image suggests. That was a tem...