Unscramble an Egg

signal to noise: A ratio of internal understandingIt’s a common saying that you can’t unscramble, although it is technically not so true anymore, The saying still metaphorically has a decent amount of weight. It is also where I find myself all too often, scrambled. I spent the first three decades of my life learning to live with the scrambled way my brain functions. And squeeze out productive moments as they arrive. Overthinking, overanalyzing, and internally critiquing anything and everything until the job was done. In fact, I secretly took great pride in the fact that I was able to get by while indulging in my little quirks. I ignored my mental health, I thought it was something other people had to worry about. You know those people, the crazy people. I couldn’t be one of them. I wasn’t crazy, look at all the things I can do, at once. Mental illness is like that. You don’t know you have an issue, because the thing that does the thinking about if you have an issue, is the issue.

I was able to get to school and get through school through sheer force of will and very little studying, all because I was able to distract the busy mind while the learning mind got the job done. I segmented myself into neat little compartments that were all able to work more or less in line. I was able to write papers at the last minute, provided that I had everything in my life arranged in the proper paper writing order. I had internal feelings, not words, for what these compartments did, and how best to interact with them. If I really named them, I would have had to define them. I would have known something was wrong.

I started losing time, I would notice hours had passed without anything getting done, just ruminating, and then everything would happen in an instant. I would have to be everywhere at once just to pass the finish line on time

Shattered silence, a broken glass on the floor.Until one day, the plates I spun, crashed. And I haven’t been the same since. I’m not focusing on the chain of events that led to all those plates spinning out of control, or the mistakes that I personally made along the way. I don’t even wish that I was still spinning, and ignorant of what I was doing to myself. I only wish I had looked for help with my mental health sooner.

I look back at the frantic energy of those years all the wasted momentum going back and forth never finishing anything all the way. Only moving it just forward enough to count. I lament all that wasted energy. I don’t dwell on it, there are new challenges to conquer and new things to do. I’m sharing so that we can break the stigma surrounding mental illness and get mental health funded the way it needs to be. I might not be getting vast amounts done right now. But I feel a sense of calm in my life I have never had before, and I owe it all to fantastic therapy, the love of people around me, and proper medication.

My biggest fear about going into therapy, and then later about trying medication was a loss of creativity, I was afraid I would lose myself. It simply isn’t the case. If anything I have completed more art and enjoyed more of my life since embracing the issues I have, naming my inner demons out loud and getting help fighting them.

I’m still fighting, still working through and to undo all the twists and spins to make progress. There is no winning, just progress.

Is it calm all the time? No, why would it be? Life isn’t built that way, it is one scrambled mess all on its own. But life is able to do what it does, and I can do what I do to get by without getting caught up in the helter-skelter. Just letting you know if you feel scrambled, there are people out there who can help all you have to do is ask.

shave the face

I have had a beard / goatee or some other form of facial adornment since I was 16, I’m 32 now. So for half of my life roughly I’ve been covering my real face with a nicely shaped hedge, a topical topiary of sorts. I shaved the beard completely off yesterday, I don’t know why. Maybe its a subconscious need for a fresh start, maybe its a narcissistic need to have other comment on a physical change. Maybe it was because my face was too warm in the summer time.

But like I said I’ve spent half of my life hiding behind a false face, should i be offended if people prefer the hairy face over the naked face? I”m not, in fact i’m pretty sure i dig the bearded me more than not, its just fun to do something for the hell of it sometimes.

I still think i look like two different people, I don’t think i’m acting like it though. But if you asked me which person i identified with being i’d point to the bearded one every time.

Babies Change Things

A lot of things can shift the way you look at the world. The big changes in anyone’s life are easy to point out. Birth, is by far one of the bigger things.  At one point you stare back at yourself in a mirror and you say “I’m a Father?” Or whatever noun you have become.

The way those changes affect you is the interesting part. How does becoming a father change a man? When do you internalize a role? Some people talk about the earth shattering realization and overwhelming love for a baby when they see them for the first time. I never had that explosive moment. (For my kids reading this later, yes I love you and always will) But I think it is very important to put out there. I read so many accounts of instant total unconditional love from the very first moment you set your eyes on a fresh baby.

I felt very ashamed to not have that experience. There was a change, My wonderful wife and I have a baby to take care of. A lovely little bundle of joy / insomnia. I can’t tell you how guilty I felt that that moment wasn’t there.

I loved this little baby, yes. But I felt like I didn’t know them yet. I would have done anything for them from the moment they were born, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I still feel like I’m getting to know them, as an individual and what they mean to the family dynamic as a whole. And honestly it was harder the second time. The first kid has a full on explosive personality, and with the newborn being well new, its taking a bit of time to find the little quirks in her personality that make her unique.

The only reason I’m putting this out there is because there may be some other parent somewhere feeling guilty over their moment not living up to the hype. There is a huge build up with any baby. For a dad there is 9 months of waiting, not really being able to do anything other than help your wife do what she needed to do. For a man who is used to getting into any situation up to his elbows and working problems out until they are done, sorting issues as they arise, a pregnancy is a scary thing. We have no control, and when everything happens and the bright lights of the hospital fade, you have to get to know this new person in front of you.

The only advice I can give, if you were looking for it if not then try the veal, is to give it time. Kids are stressful, hard work. I’ve only been at it for 4 years and I know there is plenty of other fun ahead. But it is worth it. If you are having a bit of a rough go of things in the beginning then just take an extra second to go about your business. The start is rough, anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar or very very lucky.

A little Nonsense

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I love a good practical joke, almost as much as some of the more creative entities out there. I’m not announcing anything silly or funny today. But rather I’m curious why some people seem to get irritated that on one day of the year a good number of people like to play jokes on their readers, their listeners or anyone who they come into contact with.

On the news this morning the anchor appeared too stunned to talk for several seconds, with everyone staring at him like he lost his mind. He quickly regained composure and let everyone know he just wanted to start the broadcast off right for the day. I love that in a newscast.

I like this attitude. I love nonsense, and I adore jokes. If you can “get me” on April Fools day, they you have my respect. I’m usually on my guard. If you spend the whole day complaining then you have my disdain, and frankly I’m overstocked with disdain, spread it around why don’t you.

As the line from the Gene Wilder driven Willy Wonka reads, “A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.”

Things are serious enough out there, hows about a day dedicated to levity.Every year I dedicate one episode of The CaffiNation Podcast to the Cause, Last year was awesome, this year is going to be full of jokes.

I’m an April Fool, and I’m Proud of it!img_1475

Story Teller

One of the Men outside of my own family responsible for shaping who i am today died this past fall, i didn’t find out about it until much to late to do anything beyond send a digital missive to the family.

Chuck Benshetler: In Memoriam

I knew Mr B from being in troop 252. He was not only one of the most upstanding men I have ever had the pleasure of learning from but also an excellent example of what a scout is supposed to be. Other than my father and grandfather, I can’t think of a single other man in my young adult life who affected me the way Mr B did, he didn’t just teach the scout code and law, but he lived them.

Learning from him the ways of scouting and getting to sit in on lessons about just about everything else are memories i will always treasure. Sam Magee and all the rest were introduced to us kids by the wonderful storyteller Mr B.

http://www.legacy.com/philly/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=119017376

That was what I posted to his family. But his legacy goes well beyond that it has taken a long time for that to sink in. He was one of the most consummate storytellers I have ever know. He lived the story as he told it. He was not over dramatic but he made you feel the tales he spun way down deep. His voice and feeling resonated with each sentence and each pause. I could only hope to come close to what he was able to do.

I should probably do a storyteller post here some time, It seems I’ve been surrounded by wonderful voices my whole life and Mr B was no exception.

Tradition

This year is so much different. My son is a year older, and he’s so much more aware. Christmas is coming alive again like is hasn’t since i was a little kid. Tree day was enjoyed by all. Little holiday traditions are brimming with excitement, and he’s only 14 months old. I can’t wait to see what the future Christmas’ hold for our little. Family. I just wanted to post a quick little shot as a collection of the traditions we have going right now and the one we are starting.

  • First off we have Tree Day, which is the day in which my Wife’s extended family searches for each individual families Christmas tree, en mass. This year we got a mother beautiful tree.
  • Cookie Day, is the day in which my wife makes cookies for all of our work friends and people, i steal batter and there are dozens of cookies flying around the house. his year the list grew so big we had to have 2 cookies days… the horror.
  • Longwood Garden. Is an arboretum located just south of Philadelphia. Every year they have a wonderful Christmas Light setup going, complete with conservatory and tree’s decorated by local School Children. This year we went with our Friends Dave and Marianne. It marks the 6 or 7th year in a row we have gone.
    • This tradition is so special to Both Jen and I because in 2003, in the conservatory I did it with the ring and one knee. I proposed to my now wife on bended knee. It took her a couple of seconds but i got the answer i was looking for.
  • Christmas Eve, her family has a shindig, Christmas Dinner with My Family, Desert with her Grandmother (Its her birthday as well) Then usually the Saturday after christmas my Mother’s family gathers for feasting and presents.

As if the calendar wasn’t full enough this year we started a tradition in which we opened our home for brunch on Christmas morning. Both immediate families and PJ’s should be a blast.

Wheew… even writing this is tiring.

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 Waiting for Santa!

Hello?

Alright this is the first test of the emergency Blogcasting system. Should this post then all is right with the world. Should this not then we have some minor issues that need to be dealt with. For those of you not in the know, which is probably everyone. WordPress has upgraded its blogging platform from 2.0.X to 2.1.X, in which x is a version number. This change while seemingly purely numerical is a heads and tails jump above the last version, there are cool gadgets behind the scenes to make this a change worth doing.

So of course i dragged me feet getting this up and running. One of the primo changes was actually being able to set pages to draft and private. Previously i had to create pages as if they would be posts, only to transfer them at a later date. Now none of this means anything to anyone.

This blog while most of the time is a rant-infested, panacea for my mind has also turned into the proving grounds for the younger, leaner, and larger brother to my right, the CaffiNation Podcast. So Should this go off without a hitch, and there could have been several then the CaffiNation will be next. Cross your fingers, and put your heads between your legs. First post on the new system

Father Redux

I have long wondered what type of dad i would be. Whether i would live up to the high standards my dad set for me. As a loving and caring and involved father. So with this in mind it is easy to see why certain stories which I not have given a second thought to other than a brief condolence would hit me the way that they now do. Upon having a son of my own i see the connection all too clearly now. As I already enumerated before.
One such story is of a fellow podcaster Andru Edwards and his tribute to his father. As I read his story I was preparing my podcast with my own son in my arms and i was touched. Alright i cried like a baby, and the baby didn’t seem to mind. His post is a fitting tribute to what i can only surmise was a fantastic father and a wonderful human being. At the end of our life we can ask no more than to be remembered as kind, loving and attentive fathers. Andru I am truly sorry for your loss and pray that you and your family see your way through this.

With Great Power

BouncerOk so its a misleading title i will be the first to apologize. But this post is entirely about the lack of useable power options on even the simplest baby items verse the over abundance of adapters to power portable gadgets.

In a nutshell thats about it… But follow as we crack this bitch open. The genesis of this post was looking at my son’s swing, his bouncer and all of the other sedentary gadgets which require batteries. This swing is a monster its got a bidirectional basket for the child, music choices, variable speeds, spinning fish and colored lights. I;’m pretty sure the next iteration of this item will come with ground effects, bucket seats, and 15″ dubs. But i digress, this behemoth is powered by 4 D batteries. Which are expensive. I am proud of the fact that we have a stockpile of rechargeable double A batteries for the bevy of gadgets and gizmo’s around the house. I have yet to find the rechargeable D size batteries. But i also haven’t looked very hard. even the bouncer pictured reqires 4 D batteries to vibrate and it has attachements with colored lights, spinning fish and all kinds of stuff. Crazy

The thing that gets me is that this swing, by nature is a pain in the ass to move from one place to another, virtually impossible to take any place via automobile and yet it lacks a very tiny port that my CD player has, a little external power port. what would be the crime of connecting this monster to the house power? Am i missing some sort of plot to sell more batteries? The same goes with all of the other doo dads and gadgets that this kid has access to. in fact I’m starting to feel the same way about this stuff that i do about fishing lures, the fancy ones aren’t for the fish or in this case the kids but rather the parents / consumer / angler. They spiffy ones catch mom and dads’;s eyes. At this point in their life the child could care less if this swing did little more than swing… I had better move along at this point he just found his tongue again and the cat is staring him down. I’m off to avert a meeting of the minds. Fuzzy tongues be damned.

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