The Adoption Fairy Tale

It is easy to get lost in all the chaos and unfairness we are currently experiencing in our nation and across the globe. However, there are times when it does one well to look a little more inward and spend some time focused on things maybe a bit more personal and internal in nature. I was struck this morning listening to an interview with Padma Lakshmi, most well known for her time on Top Chef. What rang true for me in listening to her today was her conversation about the sexual abuse events in her youth and how life altering they were, the main point being no matter what, that experience and the associated feelings are never too far away. At some level it is not something that is a surprise or something that took me to “wow, never thought about it that way”. There is an obvious understanding that bad, traumatic events in our life can, and most often will, lead to lifelong impacts. People deal with these events in many ways, some good, some destructive and some just in a way that fucks up a part of your life, whether it be in relationships with others, how you view yourself, where you take your life, etc. etc.

My connection to this is not a result of something bad or some obvious trauma or injury. My connection is something that most would view as a good event, something positive – and to a great extent it is good and it is positive in the bigger picture. However, as with most everything in our lives, there is rarely something that is entirely good. I think the issue is that when something happens that is good, and particularly that the alternative seems not so good, there is little effort or thought as to the darker side. That “good” thing is being adopted. And in most cases it is a very good thing but it does not come without cost or extra weight one must carry – and it is never ever really too far from your daily walk through life. As I’ve used this blog as an internal sounding board since it started, I thought this might be another opportunity to share on a different level, especially in the unlikely case where someone else with life experience in the world of adoption might see something in a new light.

“I was adopted. I wasn’t chosen. I was abandoned. At times I feel angry. At times I feel sad. At times I feel blessed. At times I feel thankful. I am adopted. And it’s complicated.”

My adoption was, in most ways, one of those great adoption stories. I was adopted within weeks of my birth, of course to a loving and warm set of parents unable to have children themselves – the beginning of the great adoption lie. Not sure how you measure it but my adopted parents weren’t really the warm and loving type. Open adoptions were pretty rare in 1953 and given efforts to protect the birth mother/parents, most all information was sealed and unavailable to the adoptee. Today, 68 years later, adoption records remain legally sealed in 19 states. Records are accessible but with restrictions in 21 other states. In most cases, at least in my mind, this is there to protect the adults in the process but at what cost to the child. I knew essentially nothing about my adoption details until much later in my life when I was in my early 40’s and even then, despite more detail on ethnic and family background, the information read more like a made up story than anything else. Might be my snarky view of most things but I always read most of it as putting the best spin on the details – and at the time why not? No one could validate. The only information with any real “detail” was on my unmarried birth mother side as my birth was one out of wedlock with no intent by my father of considering a family. So my birth mother was put in a special home for girls in her situation until the baby was born and the adoption processed. Up until this point in my life, I had little or no interest in finding my birth parent(s) but now with kids, a bit more background was more important so when the various ancestry services (like 23andMe) came on the scene I shared my DNA and got my initial glimpse into some additional background data. Still not like having a sit down with a parent or relative to get the real details of your family history but at least a bit more “health” background. In 2017, when adoptee birth records opened up in NJ, I requested my original birth certificate and for the first time was able to get the “real” adoption information. That opened up another story but that is not the point of this day’s blog.

“Will this feeling of being unwanted ever diminish? Is it possible for the positives in my life to outweigh the sadness that I feel?”
—Confessions of An Adoptee

So, what’s my point on all this? I think we believe that once something is seen as a “good” thing, we tend to ignore other aspects of the situation or event. In the case of adoption there is another side. I recognize it in me and I see the thread of impact in other adopted individuals as they grow older. For myself, I’ve spent the vast majority of my life feeling that I never fit anywhere. I had no real footprint anywhere. I was told I was adopted as soon as my parents probably felt I should know. Not entirely clear but I know that by the age of 5 or 6, I had the first knowledge I was different. I heard the adoption fairy tale right from the beginning of “you were chosen”, “you were special” and “you were really wanted”. It was assumed (and probably rightly so) that the adopted child was better off. But the psyche of the adopted is not assuaged with that possible reality. There is no foothold. There is no looking around and seeing where you fit. There is no sense of belonging. There is a missing connection that becomes very obvious as one goes thru school and you do reports on your heritage or your family tree. I heard the nasty remarks from other children I played with that made it clear I was different and unlike them. The response I got when I told my parents was that usual adoption fairy tale. I don’t remember ever meeting or being aware of another person that was adopted until I was much older – another reason to feel pretty much different. I expect they were out there but it wasn’t something people really talked about in casual conversation. All I know is that I spent much of my first three decades of life (at least until I was married) with the idea that I was an outsider and didn’t fit anywhere. I had no roots. I had no history. I was “special” – I wasn’t like everyone else. I didn’t have the “connection” that most everyone else took for granted. Over most of my lifetime, this feeling permeated almost everything in my life. Even through my career which had me interacting with many, many people over the years, I managed to not really ever connect. I did very well in most things I did but no one ever really got close to knowing me. I most always got along well with others but never too deep. Was it all due to being adopted? Can’t put it all there but when you spend most of your formative years feeling like you are different and less than others, it impacts trust and confidence. I’ve probably spent too much time over my life being defensive of things trying to protect me from those feelings (and still do to this day at times). It has had dramatic effect on my personality and my ways of dealing with things and people around me. It took more energy than it deserved but self-preservation is a strong force and we all have things that we need to overcome – or not.

“Being adopted is like having blank pages in the first chapter of your book of life.”
—Adult adoptee

Even today, that feeling of alone often persists, despite a wife who over 40 years has made it clear how special I am to her. Our relationship, a successful career, kids who have made their way in the world, my life in general helps me realize I did okay. I’ve been able to get close (most of the time) with my immediate family and my connections over the years with them – despite the occasional ups and downs – have been pretty strong. I was extremely lucky to find someone as a partner who not only helped me progress and grow over our time together but also has accepted all my shortcomings. She has had to tolerate quite a bit as I’m far from the easiest person to live with. I’ve had relationships and deep conversations with my children that were never experienced with my parents. Unfortunately I had to retire to probably make the most progress. I finally had time and distance from the stress of all those years of work and raising a family to see things a little clearer. Are all those feelings of being alone and different gone? Never will be but I can now talk and feel more secure and less focused on that hole that has accompanied me throughout my life. I remember to this day seeing my daughter being born and for the first time in my life seeing another living thing that was part of me. Not a big deal to most but one of the biggest events in my life up to that point – one that I still get emotional about when I replay that morning. I’ve come a long way. I can joke now about how Jon Snow and I have the commonality of both being bastards – and I can say it without any real emotional tinge. The fact that I never really saw myself with that label before tells me I wasn’t ready. That hole also got a little smaller after the NJ adoption records were opened. Through that data and the DNA data from 23andMe, I was provided with some unexpected connections to my birth mother’s family. Those connections have not really progressed too far, mostly because at this point it makes very little difference in my life and will change nothing and partly because that “family” I missed ends up not really fitting into where I am and who I am as a person. As my son quickly realized, despite the shortcomings of my adopted parents, they probably saved me from a much less fulfilling life with my birth mother, who managed to give me another half-brother put up for adoption and four more half-siblings who, aside from genetic material, live in entirely different worlds than I do. Is there an intellectual curiosity about those half-siblings? Without a doubt but my life as it has happened and as it exists at this point is more than I could have ever imagined.

So my point in all this? Highly doubtful that anyone following or reading my blog deals in the adoption world but if they do, let’s not continue the adoption fairy tale. While not always so, adoptions are just another form of trauma that should be out there and discussed from the beginning. Americans adopt approximately 140,000 children a year and overall there are around 7 million adopted people in the US. Adoption is no longer entirely a private, closed process as today, almost 60%-70% of domestic adoptions are now open adoptions, which means there is a degree of openness and disclosure of information between adoptive and birth parents regarding the adopted child. This alone should help with that “hole” that was there in years back. For the sake of all the adopted children out there, there is also a case to be made to push reticent states to open access to adoption records. It is important that no-one assume because a child is adopted, that all is good. More information is good. It is a topic that should be approached as a necessity of the child’s growth and development. Adopted kids are still special but not really due to them being adopted. They are special because they are individuals with unlimited potential – like any other child. We are special, not due to where we started where we had no influence. We are special given what we reach for and what we achieve.

It has gotten easier but I’ll remain working on it forever. I still have my moments but I’ve never been better.

It is Scary as Hell

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.  –  John F. Kennedy

It has been quite a period of time since my last post.  Probably a combination of a number of factors but as I began to think about it, the reason became a bit clearer.  Am I any less angry or awash in angst over the state of our country at the moment?  Not at all.  In fact, my level of concern is at a level that I don’t believe has ever been higher.  The difference is I am also at a point of being frozen given I am beginning to doubt that we are fixable.  I’m not apathetic as I would expect that might cure my anger.  At times I’ve wondered if part of getting older is that the situation doesn’t really change but our perception is what morphs.   Kind of “It has always been this screwed up – I just didn’t notice or it made less of a difference.”  Well, I don’t think that any more – it hasn’t been this bad before.  Yes, times have been bad before and we have struggled as a nation and a society.  The difference is I think there was more of a set rules that bound us together as a nation and there were individuals who were actually able to work together for the betterment of the country – not a mass of individual wants or pockets of agendas that needed to get their 15 minutes no matter the cost.  I am no Pollyanna thinking that things haven’t always been unfair, the deck wasn’t stacked for many and that there haven’t always been agendas and benefits to the “haves” vs the “have nots” but we have arrived at this time as a country run by morons and half-wits who only see their self-interest as the end game.  Not sure where it was lost that we live in a democracy and that the majority basically rule.  Our constitution ensures that majority can only go so far but to have reached a point where every small political group feels their wishes need to be part of the solution has taken our country to the point where nothing works.  To believe that every solution has to work at 100% of everyone means that nothing will work for anyone.

I started this blog as somewhat of a catharsis to deal with the level of anger and frustration I feel as I walk, watch and interact with the world around me.  It started local and got broader as I found some nice targets as we approached the last Presidential election.  I tried to point out the folly of thought and the disconnect of action of many of those out there that profess to have the qualities to be leaders.  To be honest, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.  I’ll be the first to admit I have few answers.  I know what works for me and I know where my focus has been in particular on making sure those closest to me are okay.  In comparison to many, I’m in pretty good shape.  I want to little in terms of physical needs.  Despite my level of anger (i have my good days and bad) which is obvious to those around me, I’m at terms with most everything I can have influence over.  So back to my original point in why I haven’t been blogging – I’m not sure where to start for one thing.  I’m also frustrated that people don’t seem to want to help themselves.  I remain incredulous of the laziness and ignorance people have no issue sitting in.  As I’ve said many times, the fact that people are willing to support and vote against their own interest remains one of those things I don’t think I’ll ever understand.  I do reach a point where I wonder if we just need to hit rock bottom before most people start to pay attention and we realize, as a country, that it isn’t really politics first and people second.  To be where the Tea Party has any influence in any situation is close – it tells me that people’s moral and ethical compass is broken and true north has been lost.  When Miley Cyrus gets the number of news cycles she does, you have to wonder.  It is scary as hell.

Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.   –  Mark Twain

Day 3 and Counting


It’s now been a couple of days since we let Gunther go.  The weight of the loss on my heart isn’t as constant or always so obvious but it remains there waiting for the next moment to raise something that brings back into focus the degree to which our little guy was ingrained in most everything we do.  I still find myself all of a sudden in the midst of a sob or two as I again get hit with “something is missing” and it’s Gunther.  We, as a family, haven’t stopped doing all the things that need to be done since none of us have ever worked that way but I for one feel it is as much of going thru the motions as anything else as I wait for time to help balance the fantastic memories with the pain of a loss that will never ever really go away.  We are doing a lot of talking about Gunther, what he meant to us and how much we loved him.  We are looking at a lot of pictures and I’ve been working on an ever-evolving slide show presentation with music as a means to get every ounce of him in my head possible.  I think it is good that we never really took him for granted and we recognized and knew how lucky we were to have him be part of our family – I just don’t think any of us wanted to acknowledge how much given we knew this day would come.  We have never been a family that is always looking for more as we know what we have is good and that we have been blessed with much more than many get.  That doesn’t change the pain and the heartache we are feeling but it makes it easier to look at the time Gunther gave us and it allows us to begin to heal – however slowly.


Where it is probably most evident of Gunther’s place in our lives is the number of instances or situations where one of us will do something, usually pretty simple and an everyday activity, where you look for that little face or you hear those doggy footsteps working their way to you.  The mornings and evenings are the toughest since I would say that over the past year or so it is those times where we have adjusted the most to Gunther’s needs as his health changed.  I spent a lot of mornings, especially after late nights, grousing at Gunther at the 7am or early rise from sleep but that quickly dissipated as soon as he jumped down off the bed and the tail started that wagging and he gave you that big grin that it was time to start the day.  At night, he let us know he was tired and wanted to go to bed – but not by himself as he needed to be snuggled up tight against one of us.  Annoying on one hand that he “made” us go upstairs to watch TV in our bed but that feeling quickly disappeared when he planted himself against your leg.   This was a dog that needed people touch – and we now realize how much that took us to needing Gunther-touch.


Today there was something else that became very evident to me of the change in our house without Gunther.  Yes it is quieter and he wasn’t a noisy dog but he was always where you were and that meant he was always on the move and you could always anticipate that when you moved from one room to another, he would soon follow.  For the first time this morning when my wife was out with a friend, I realized that I was really alone in the house.  Yes, I’ve been by myself with no wife or kids in the house with me but I always knew Gunther was somewhere around, waiting to hear me move or call him, always ready to stop what he was doing to join me in anything and everything.  It was very clear as I ate my cereal today and I managed to somehow have one of the Cheerios pop out of the bowl – nothing surprising to anyone in my family.  The difference was today I didn’t need to see if I could be faster than Gunther to grab it off the floor …and I never really fought that hard to get it before him anyhow.

In the beginning...

A short 13 years ago…

I Lost a Good Friend Today…

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We had our ray of sunshine and spark leave our family today.  Gunther, who has been a full-fledged member of our family for the last 13 years finally reached that point where we had to say goodbye.  No good way to do, no easy way to deal with it.  It sucks, it hurts, we’re all lost – you can’t spin it to make it feel better.  We feel good he is no longer in pain or discomfort and we know we did the right thing…but it still sucks.  I can’t say enough about what he added to our lives other than he was a key part of it from that day my son and I drove 3-4 hours to get him to the very long morning we had today knowing it where the day was going to end up.  I’ve become a weeping idiot, not knowing when in the middle of a sentence I’m going to get hit with it and the waterworks start. I don’t think that is going away any time soon – good thing I work from home.

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Gunther was special to us – I can’t recall anyone who met him that didn’t love him immediately – and he was equally ecstatic to make your acquaintance.  He protected our house from everything you could imagine – from other dogs to deer to snakes and even those evil bunnies (which made us all cringe a bit) but he was doing his job.  He was fearless – 100lbs of dog in an 18lb body (at least for most of his life).  He was a role model of “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” – but he was gentle with people and he was truly a people dog.  In some ways he was the core of our family – he watched my kids go thru school and college, as they left (and returned) as adults.  He was there with my wife for all those years I worked on the road and he was the first one to always greet me when I got home.  He loved the kennel when we went on vacation – we called it his “trip to the spa” – he would walk into through the door and immediately forget who we were and run to get in the door to the back.  Inevitably, when we picked him up he was hoarse for a couple of days as he was quite the barker with all the other dogs vacationing with him.

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I’m going to miss him quite a bit. While he slowed down quite a bit as a result of several bouts of pancreatitis and age, his spirit never dimmed.  It was in his eyes and in his stance.  I no longer will be greeted with that short Jack Russell tail going 100mph.  We won’t see him frantically and unsuccessfully going from one deck planter to the other trying to get those pesky chipmunks. He’ll never take on another snake, grab it with a quickness that you had to see to believe and then complete a shake or two or three of his head snap it in two and then walk away after again protecting his family.  I’ve lost my driving buddy – I’ll have to go get my afternoon Dunkin Donuts by myself.  I have a feeling my reaction when the Dunkin Donuts people ask where my friend is not going to be a good one.

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But I’m better for Gunther being in my life.  I know this pain and hurt will fade and the memories and stories of the last 13 years of Gunther will slowly begin to help ease the hurt.  He was my friend.

A Day of Thanks

In light of most of my rants and ravings there is relatively little time where I am not grateful for what which I have been blessed.  While there are many days where I consciously spend brain cycles recognizing how lucky I have been in my life, Thanksgiving provides a better time to share.  Whether read or understood by anyone else, writing these down and having the opportunity to see the words helps solidify and deepen the appreciation I should never lose sight of.

I am thankful for many things – some personal and some a bit broader:

1.  My wife – the most important person in my life.  She is my best friend and she has provided me guidance, advice and support for almost 32 years now – despite me often pushing back or trying to ignore it.  She has got to be one of the most caring and giving people I know and she has been an ongoing balance to much of the imbalance I’ve brought to the party.

2.  My kids – they were a lot of work (as all kids are – if you do it right) but they have both blossomed into great, capable and caring adults.  They are a source of both pride and ongoing discovery for me as they grow, learn and continue their journey thru adulthood and all that goes with it.

3. My life in general – I am extremely blessed for what I have.  Yes, I have worked for it but there are many that work hard and meet greater challenges and have less.  I want for little and don’t really have to think twice for anything I really need that I don’t have.  I am blessed that when the unexpected comes up I don’t have to make the hard choices that many do.  I can take care of my family as needed without much concern other than recognizing that I can’t fix everything. (sorry Erin…).

4.  My health – yes, I’m getting older and there are aches and pains that come with that and I have had to have a few parts fixed so they will continue to work as I get even older.  But I am healthy and my family is healthy.  How does it go – when you have your health… –  a saying that becomes more and more true if you look around and see what many deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Anything I have pales in comparison so my complaints don’t really count for much.

5.  It might sound strange but I am thankful for what lies ahead.  We have planned well and have been pretty balanced in how we have lived life so as I look out towards retirement (not that far away) I don’t feel panic.  We will be okay.  I have a life partner to share it with, we will be far from destitute and we will have time to discover new adventures for ourselves.

6.  I am thankful I have lived during a time where the change in this country has been dramatic.  Growing up and coming of age when things like civil rights and equality for women had their roots, experiencing the impact of the war in Vietnam as well as Woodstock, JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr.  – it has all been instrumental in helping shape who I am today.  It all helped my form a sense of conscience about we as people and how a society should be.  It helped establish a view that we need to be aware of others and that we, as a society, have an obligation and responsibility to take care of others who need help and support.  Not sure what happened to a lot of my peers but for me it is hard to ignore.  And we had the best music.

7.  I am thankful for this younger generation.  While it is important to realize that my generation reared many of them and that is why much of the attitude and perspective is there, how refreshing to see a generation of young adults who are less bigoted and biased.  There is a core of our society that truly doesn’t see people around them as less deserving or 2nd class because they are black, gay, a different religion, whatever.  It gives me hope (and some solace) that my son will be able to live a normal life and will be able to marry and live without constant discrimination because he is gay.

8.  I am thankful for this last election and the American public that made it clear it isn’t just about the economy and it isn’t just about the present at the expense of the future.   Because enough of us cared about others and not just ourselves, we will have at least four more years of progress in rights for women, rights for our LGBT community, forward progress on our environment and global warming, healthcare rights and reform, maybe some fairness in terms of tax reform, etc.  For those of us on the side that won, it was pretty much goodness and a break from having to worry about what progress we’ve seen being rolled backward.

9.  From a different perspective, I am thankful that the likes of Romney, Ryan, Rove, Trump, Santorum, McConnell – the names can go on and on – were unable to really hide who they really are – which are pretty much self-centered shit heads and assholes – to the extent that it became pretty obvious and helped move the election in the direction it went.  Taking nothing from Obama and the Democratic machine, the other side and their views of a “new” America, was so out of touch it became almost laughable if it hadn’t been so sad.

10.  Lastly, thankful I live in a country where I can say and write all the things I have in this blog and not have to worry I’ll be in jail or shot for it.



Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst

There are very few people I really see as really good people.  I was lucky enough to find one of them who actually agreed to marry me 31 years ago – definitely a crap shoot on her part but no doubt great for me.  I don’t think I’m one of those good people – I’m not a bad person but I come no where close to membership in that group of those who are truly good from the heart.  So when I see one of them (and I think in these times it is relatively rare), I notice and appreciate.  There is one person of whom I consistently see as an appropriate role model as one of those rare people.  I’m never sure what brings someone to be truly good but I have to believe that a part of that is overcoming some adversity (beyond the norm) at some point in their life that opened them to an awareness, empathy and caring most of us will never realize.  Could only be me but just watching what these people do and the ease with which they do it somehow makes me feel better in general and gives me hope in times where I often wonder what happened to us as people.


Credit: “Just be Nice” Facebook page


So, in following a recent theme of also trying to recognize people in a positive way instead of only focusing on the jerks and low-lifes (no that won’t go away – that’s one of the benefits of not being in the group of good people), I want to add someone to that list of day-to-day heroes.  This person has been someone I have often seen and commented on how nice she is.  I was again reminded this morning as I did my time on the treadmill and wandered around the TV channels and found myself settled on watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  This is after watching CNN and MSNBC for awhile amidst the current rising tensions and anger against America on the other side of the world.  Ellen has got to be one of the nicest (and bravest) people out there.  I don’t watch her show often but given the number of times she reaches out to help others in the shows that I see, I can only imagine it happens all the time.  I get no sense of self-aggrandizement (which I see in many other celebrities – I’m always suspect of Oprah ) – more a sense of probably how good it makes her feel that she makes others feel.  Ellen has no doubt gone thru some tough times in her career and the treatment she has often received has been shameful but here she is looking outward and past those who would put her somewhere out of sight, and trying to add positive to the world, one step at a time.

So today, the Hero of the Day award goes to Ellen – thanks for being one of those people who can make us all feel good and set an example the rest of us should strive to match.

Ellen DeGeneres – One of the “Good” ones


I would like take a moment and mention the tragic events in Libya yesterday.  I am sure all our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and families of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the others (at least one who is American) whose lives were so needlessly taken yesterday.  These are brave people (in each embassy we maintain around the world) who are all too often at risk.  While most of Ambassadors face a good deal of risk, Chris Stevens put himself unselfishly at risk taking on this role in Libya.  He is a hero in his own right.

Given the murder of our citizens in Libya, I have been moved to create a new award I’m putting out there that will sit alongside the current “Head in the Butt” award.  (See, I said I wasn’t going to be going entirely positive.)   The risks our ambassadors and their staffs face just as a normal course of business should not be further increased as a result of actions of people who stay safe back in the US.  To look at this in the broadest sense, any US citizen that leaves the relative safety of our shores is actually put at increased risk as a result of these people who are more focused on personal attention and influence than demonstrating broader concern for others.

While I hate to give this person any more attention than needed (which is really none), in reading thru the news this morning, I picked up on a name I haven’t seen in a few months who has again stepped into the limelight to further his own intentions, again without concern for how others are affected.  Pastor Terry Jones originally gained both national and international attention when he notified the world he would be burning the Quran (or Koran – multiple spellings are out there) on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  He initially agreed to not complete that act and managed to wrangle a new car or two out of the deal but then apparently could not do without the attention and went ahead a completed the burning around six months later.  This resulted in the first blood on his hands as there were 12 people killed in the ensuring violence that predictably followed his actions.   This lowlife, who has announced his candidacy for President in the 2012 election, made a very public endorsement of this anti-Muslim film that has led to the increased violence we are now seeing in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.  While maybe not directly attributable to his support and advocacy of this film, I would offer he carries more blood on his hands for these latest killings as it is at a minimum felt that the increased violence was possibly a cover for the attacks on the US Embassy.

I would suggest the actions taken by Jones borders on historical limits to free speech, the classic being you can’t yell fire in a movie theater and maybe it is time we, as a country, look a little more at our assumed freedoms and take these people to task.  As it is, Pastor Jones (there’s that religious connection again), you are lower than whale shit – only matched by the Westboro Baptist Church who I expect will slink from whatever holes in the ground they inhabit to share views similar to Jones at some point.  For today, though, Pastor Jones, you get the honor of being the first recipient of the “Shitbag” award.  This is the only area where I hope my views as an atheist are wrong and you actually get to spend eternity burning in hell.


Pastor Terry Jones – Shitbag of the day

A Kinder and Gentler Convention

I had no plans originally to watch the Democratic National Convention last night but as it turned out we watched a good deal of it beginning with Tammy Duckworth and following it thru Michelle Obama.  I figured that I, like most people, would hear the speeches and since I usually lean towards the side of the Democrats, I would basically hear the counterpoints and arguments as to why the Democrats were different, where the Republicans were wrong, how out of touch the Romney-Ryan ticket is, etc., etc.  I did hear all that but I think there was one obvious and important difference that in my mind pretty much says it all – and is really why I just can’t find much common ground with the Republicans. And it is actually pretty simple.  While the words and positions were obviously different, when I really thought about it, what really stood apart in my mind and in my heart was the tone last night of almost everyone who spoke.  They were all real.   I didn’t hear hate.  I didn’t hear an intense anger.  I didn’t hear speakers attacking other’s character.  I didn’t hear an “us vs. them”.  I didn’t hear the viciousness I have come to expect from the Republicans.  I heard a kinder and gentler message.  I heard people who actually cared about those in this country not as well off.  I heard leaders who found it important to not just look out for their own interests.  I heard from people I would actually want to know and who did not embarrass me as a fellow American.

I know it is too simple but how great would it be if everyone could stop for a few minutes and try to link into the energy and the type of emotion put out by each party.  It would help at this important turning point.  I think people need to look past the “rules” they have in their heads.  We need to start to begin to work at getting the more subjective nature of us as human beings more in focus.  I learned along time ago that one must learn to gauge that which is around them at two levels.  What you think is right and what you feel is right.  The intellectualizing of much of what we do is a result of what we think we should do – not always what really feels right.  Most of us have an innate ability to know what is right in our heart.  In most simple terms, most of us know what is right if we really take the time to listen to our inner self.  Who among us hasn’t started in one direction with a decisions or action and then shifted direction or changed in some fashion when we paid attention to our heart.  Who among us hasn’t made one decision that we really knew just didn’t feel right and then, after things went bad, looked back and really knew then what that bad feeling we had was really telling us.  I know it isn’t really our heart we listen to but our inner psyche is always there to help us also “feel” the right answer.

Does the Democratic Party have it all right?  Are all the Democratic leaders “good” people who don’t have a personal agenda?  No, I’m not that stupid or idealistic.  But I do believe we have people on this side of the aisle that actually care and want to do the right thing.  How can that be bad – even if it doesn’t work 100% for everyone every time.  I know I get snarky and I get a bit too intense and personal in my anger some times.  Hard not too when the frustration gets too intense and you get scared of what can potentially happen.  I think the speakers last night made that all too clear.  And they did it pretty gently – and with class.  And they made me feel better.  These were people not spitting out talking points – they were speaking from their hearts.  I know we’re not done and there will be more intensity and more lashing out (as there should be) but what a great start.

Last point – Michelle Obama – can’t say I’ve heard any other First Lady (or potential First Lady) be as elegant, forthright, and genuine that what I heard last night.  What a great speech and what an ability to make it all real.  I might be naive but I really believe she cares.


Memories and Remembrances

A couple of days ago, I bought a new car.  Not really a big deal in the larger sense but this one was a little different – more so for the cars we got rid of and not what we purchased.  Like most things in life, there is a lesson or something deeper in most any event or change if we just pay attention.  In this case, we had decided it was time to replace our aging and high mileage SUV with something we could reasonably move into retirement (still a couple of years away) with so we wouldn’t need to have that expense hanging there and it would better position us for replacement of my wife’s car in the next couple of years.  On the surface, this was merely a trade of two older cars for one new.  It made financial sense as adding a large car payment at this time isn’t in our plan.  One vehicle was a 2006 Saab 9-7X with 145K miles on it.  The other a 2010 Nissan 370Z with less than 10K on it.  From my vantage point, the loss of the 370Z was the larger loss – not huge and at this time last year I would have never even considered it.  Interesting what a difference a year can make.  The decision came to me for several reasons, none which most anyone else would care about and several would probably be looked at with a quizzical squint and a “you’ve got to be kidding” mumbled softly.  Bottom line, when it came to it, it felt right in my heart – as well as my head.  I learned to trust that a long time ago.  While there is much to miss with the Z, there is much less today than when I got it.  It served the purpose intended.  But that is not the point here.  It provided me some great feelings and was basically an adult toy – and it kind of meant, for us, we had achieved something special that we were able to buy it.

The Saab 9-7X is another matter.  This car was my workhorse.  It was a very nice SUV when we got it – it had more bells and whistles than I had ever had in a car before.  It became the vehicle that did everything and went everywhere.  It moved kids to and from college, from living home to first apartments, from barn to horse show, from Home Depot and Lowes back to our house – there was little I couldn’t get into the car and very few things I was unwilling to put in it.  It took me around the Northeast as I went from one client site to all my others and back again.  It was reliable and really never let me down.  It was never babied and I hauled everything imaginable in it.  In many ways, it had more personality than the Z.

So who really cares about this and why do I think it is worth sharing?  I share this due to another aspect of our car buying experience yesterday – the part that was really about the feelings behind the obvious part of trading in something old to get something new.  To me (in my usual sense), it was more looking forward as I have a new vehicle to learn about and experience.  I only saw positive.  For my wife, it was a tough day – and ultimately for all the reasons I love her as I do and feel lucky and proud she chose to spend her life with me.  To her, the day was not to celebrate the new car – even though she was obviously happy I was happy.  For her, there was a loss – one across a couple of dimensions.  There were tears, and more tears.   A little embarrassment (not necessary) and some apologies (also not necessary) to the car salesman – I saw neither as needed as it was clear to me what was going on.  It was really the loss of something beyond the cars – much deeper and much more understandable in the larger sense.  It was really about us moving on and leaving something that was important and vital in our lives together.  The cars represented another segment of our life as a family of four and our growth and experience together.  It was about college moves, the barn and Bear, mulching the yard, ice cream sitting in a convertible on a warm summer night. It was about the daily rides that Gunther demanded.  It was about both kids no longer really being kids – as they found their way moving into being full-fledged adults.  It was about us really becoming empty nesters (at least for a while) and the feelings and opportunities that only existed for us before children over 28 years ago.  While the timeframes these cars spanned definitely had its share of challenges, it was really about how good our lives have been at each phase.  In many ways, the tears are very understandable.  We’ve been through this previously – in other situations where something that was central in our life was changed and a flood of memories resulted.  Each time, we’ve sat and talked about the time and the events connected to the change.  There are always numerous “Remember when….” and together we could re-experience that time together – sometimes with tears but more often with laughter and smiles.  We don’t live in the past but it is important to embrace what the past has been about and often how it helps define today.  Maybe we are lucky that we have a considerable amount to embrace.  But in any case, there is a lesson or two here I think everyone can take note of – it is entirely too easy to get caught up in the moment or to spend too much energy thinking about tomorrow.  The never-ending load of crap out there that can interfere with your life – people, politics, the economy, whatever.  Sometimes it has to and there is always a need to do planning for the future.  But we shouldn’t do it at the cost of losing yesterday.

Stopping to smell the flowers is critical not only for the moment but it is what allows you to retrace paths and flowers from earlier walks – the good and the not so good.  But, again, isn’t that what life is really about.  Cherish when and what you can.


And now for something completely different

I started this blog process as one means to find what was hopefully a more healthy outlet for the increasing angst I have been building up given the state of the country today.  To be honest, as an outlet there seems to be some catharsis going on as my wife has noticed somewhat of a change in my mood (to the positive).  I’m a bit less intense and she has even commented that I’m not going out into public and coming home without recounting some jerk in the store, on the road, etc., etc.  I’ll see that as a good thing but have to wonder if there is really a change or if I just happen to have hit a dry spell of idiots.  As I don’t believe in miracles, I’ll guess it is more the latter.  But in any case, we’ll take any improvement for most any reason.

But being a thinking person (at least I’d like to think so) and one whose mind doesn’t really ever seem to shut down, I decided to look at this a little closer.  As I read back thru my blog posts, I can see why it could be happening as I’ve taken this outlet as an opportunity to pretty much lash out at what I see as the crux of much of the issues I see out there.  I’m not talking about world peace or curing cancer but more the issues that are more germane to our daily lives (not diminishing the impact of cancer by any means).  The issue is really people. I know that much of my frustration is the result of my inability to change or influence others so as the next best thing I’ve pretty much gone after those that epitomize the people I view as representative of the problems and they just happen to be sitting in the realm of politics at the moment.  By this time, if you’ve read any number of my posts, you should see a pattern that somewhat defines a part of me. This has been an entertaining means to find ways to ridicule and mock those whose apparent life choices are that different from mine.  In some sense, paraphrasing a “Limbaughism”, I’ve started to act like them and have dropped to their level.  I have become personal and demeaning in my observations.  That disturbs me on some level as I’d like to think I am above that approach.  But at the same time, as I think it through, I can see there are some differences between me and “them”.  That view is partly attributable to my phenomenally well-tuned and well-exercised power of rationalization and I expect that anyone reading this any further could likely see that same defense mechanism in play with any explanation that might follow. I also can’t lose sight of the fact that this is somewhat enjoyable – again somewhat disturbing on the personal level but no so much that I plan to stop.

We all think we have it figured out and that our view is undoubtedly the one that is “right” and reflects reality more closely than those other people who just don’t get it.  It’s always the other guy that doesn’t understand or is short-sighted or, more likely, is just plain stupid.  To be honest, I think that most of the time. To be more honest, I don’t really care that others think the same thing about me.  In some specific areas, they might be right.  However, where I see a difference is where we try to go with those thoughts and how much we determine it is okay to not only think and act different from others but that we develop a point of view that our way is so much more “right” that others should think, act and follow the same ways.  Of course I think my way is usually better and that most other people could live better if they followed my way.  Here’s the difference – I really don’t give two shits if anyone else does it my way or according to my beliefs.  They work for me and generally speaking, it is unlikely that when I have a choice, I will spend much time with those that traipse well outside that circle of my reality – probably why I keep a rather small circle.  I maintain what could be called an “inch deep” philosophy – I don’t delve into others too far and, to the astonishment of many around me, even when I do interact, don’t ask too many questions.  Mostly because I don’t really care to know.  I’ve got my hands full just figuring out me – and I still have a way to go on that front.  I get along with others and many actually find me to be a nice guy but that’s about it.  But to the original point – where I think the main difference is between me and them:

1.  I’m not looking to have others live under my life “rules” or beliefs.  To be honest, you can marry a cow if you want.  I don’t understand how anyone can believe that the bible is real and that praying to God or Jesus actually does anything – but I recognize your right to live that way – just don’t tell my I need to follow those rules.  “They” will say they don’t do that – but then explain to me how trying to get some amendment passed that recognizes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman isn’t taking that path.

2.  I’m not so threatened in how others live or what they believe – as long as it doesn’t impinge on my life.  I will never understand why being or believing something different is such a threat to so many people.  Could only be in my view but if you are truly confident in your view and beliefs, why such a forceful reaction to something different – I’ve never seen a good answer to that one.

3.  I’m don’t really lead of life of hypocrisy.  I recognize there is at least some hypocrisy in most all of us but generally speaking, what I say and what I believe is pretty well reflected in how I live my life.  I’m a strong believer in family values – but I haven’t had 3 or 4 wives and traded them in when it was convenient or met a different need.  I don’t go to church on Sunday, profess to be a Christian and follow the ways of Christ and then basically live the life of a heathen the rest of the week.  I have made my choice to not believe or follow religion but I had a lot of years of good Protestant teaching – and if my understanding of the teaching and ways of Jesus are correct, can’t say I’m seeing much of that out there – especially the intolerance and damning of others.  I am amazed there is not more outrage among those who profess to be so religious and so righteous given the transgressions and acts against core teachings of the church by many of the leaders so vocal against anything to do with sex.

4.  I actually believe that everyone can co-exist and can peacefully live in one society – but that is predicated on people focusing on their own life rather than trying to manage everyone else’s.  They seem to believe we can all live together only if we all live and do things the same way.  Pretty boring.  

I’m sure there are some other differences but I’ve really said enough.  I hope nobody reads this and takes away that if you live as I live and follow my beliefs, then all would be better.  I really don’t believe that – and more importantly I really don’t care if you do – just stay out of my life.

I do need to make one political comment as it almost wouldn’t be right if I actually posted without somehow taking a jab at the current crop of Republicans – just heard some of a speech Ricky made today – no doubt in the South – He made the observation “Obamacare is the death knell of our freedom” to which he received a strong round of applause.  Here’s another place where I’m different – on one hand, I should give a damn whether anyone else has healthcare as I, and my family, are well covered.  I don’t worry about needing to go to a doctor or whether I can afford a medicine that will make a difference in my or my family’s life.  But I do believe that universal coverage is a good thing – if for no other reason my costs don’t pay for the treatment of those who can’t or chose not to have coverage.  I would only suggest that if the general consensus is to not force universal care, then keep those who choose to forgo coverage from treatments that I need to pay for.   Ricky’s ongoing push of his beliefs and views of life don’t seem that different from others we have historically found unacceptable.

How different really?