The letters I wore

I spent a good chunk of the past few years feeling like I’ve had a couple of giant letters stenciled to everything I owned. One was the letter “D” for divorce and the other letter was for “L” for loser. They were letters only visable to me.

The letter “d” was a hard one to get used to at first. Especially when you are starting out on this road. People in my family tend to stay together (better or worse, thick and thin, rich or poor). Whenever I go to a family function, I used to feel like I stood out. I had a wife, now I didn’t. I’d get a ride from my parents to a party or holiday gathering or whatever. Even though no one made me feel that way, I always felt like all eyes were on me. Even when I’d go to just hang out with my friends, everyone was either married or had a girlfriend. When July of 2009 came around and I moved back in with my parents. I like there was this giant letter on my back that stood for divorce. I couldn’t move forward as long as I wore this letter. I carried it around like this giant rock on my back. It was heavy and it hurt.

I’ve struggled financially these past 4 years. I’ve had troubles with keeping the personal aspects of my life out of the office. It has led me to be out of work for periods of time. It has caused me great financial difficulty, near ruin. I’d look at where I was pre divorce and then were I was, and it would be a reminder of just how far I’ve fallen. It was neither pretty nor fun. Losing everything will suck the life right out of you. I’d show up to parties with family or friends or whatever and people are talking about their great jobs and how they do this and that. And you are looking at the calander and trying to figure out the next time you can go to the food pantry. Or trying to come up with an excuse to tell your son that you can’t buy him all the legos in the world and why hiking in the woods is more exciting then going to see a movie in the movie theatre. I talked about the letter “d” being heavy. The letter “L” weighs twice as much, and hurts quite a bit.

Wearing both of those letters can make you bitter, resentful, angry, and any other host of words-if you let them. I let those letters rule my life for a really long time.

I woke up one day in January and let the letter “D” stop ruling my life. Then I took a look in the mirror one morning, realized that my divorce did not idenify who I was or what I was. There was more to me then just this guy going through a rough divorce.

It took me awhile longer to shed the letter “L”. One Sunday after a weekend of hiking, riding scooters, and watching James Bond with #5. He said to me, “this was a really fun weekend, dad. I had a great time”. I felt that letter “L” slide off my back. That, maybe for all of the struggles I am not a loser (no matter what the critics may say). And that any day you are above dirt is a day you are not a loser.

I am far from perfect and have a long way to go. Shedding my letters was a big step in the right direction.

I choose to not be bitter, I choose to be better.

Invictus

I carry around a copy of this poem in my wallet. It has helped me over the past 4 years, when I have needed to hang on. The title is Latin for “Unconquerable”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley

Opening Day

Opening Day

It is Opening Day at Wrigley Field today. I can safely say with out a doubt, the Cubs will not win it this year. Yet for every Cub fan, hope springs eternal. Works that way in baseball and life.

My first baseball game was June 8th, 1975, Cincinati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves. It was a Sunday, my dad took me. Just the two of us sitting on the first base side. We ate hot dogs, Cracker Jack, and ice cream. The Braves lost that day (the Reds won the World Series that year). The thing I remember most was being with my dad and him telling me who to watch and cheer for. It was a great day.

From that moment I was pretty much hooked on baseball. I collected cards, followed box scores. I wish I could tell you that I was a good baseball player, but I wasn’t (I had a decent glove, no bat). And I was okay with that. We moved around a few times when I was a kid, so I became a fan of the team of the city where we were living. I got to see Hank Aaron play when we lived in Atlanta, saw Rod Carew when we lived in Minnesota, when I was in college I saw George Brett play in Kansas City. I’ve lived in Chicago the longest and consider myself a Cub fan. I got to see Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, and Andre Dawson amongst others. My grandfather used to tell me stories of Cub players of old. I’ve been a fan of the Cubs since forever.

I don’t not like the White Sox, for the record. I remember when they won it all in 2005 cheering and yelling with friends after that final out. I just prefer the Cubs is all.

I saved all my Cubs and Red Sox hats from when I was a kid. And after years of trying, I finally got my son to wear a Cubs hat yesterday. He also said this Summer he would go to a game. I actually started teaching him how to read the box score in the paper yesterday. I don’t think he had a clue of what I was talking about, he smiled and seemed to enjoy it. Maybe it was just the expierence of being with his dad. I don’t know.

I can tell you that first baseball game, I had no clue of what was going on the field. I just remember being with my dad and thinking it was pretty cool.

In the past few years, I’ve hit some pretty lowest of lows. I’ve had a few jobs, I’ve parted ways with some really good friends, struggled mightly. I’ve never not given up hope. I know the Cubs are headed in the right direction. It’s going to take some time to get where they are going. And so am I.

Rest assured, when the Cubs win the World Series, I am going to be sitting there with Frankie.

Captain America

Captain America

It occurred to me the other night, that Frankie and I are going to come to the end of the James Bond movies (which will work our perfectly, because the weather we will be warmer and we can be outside). That being said, I was faced with the question of “what is next, movie wise. I found myself at a movies crossroads (with all the things going on in my life, this is a nice problem to have).

And then I remembered we had seen “The Avengers” last fall and he absolutely loved it (his favorite Avenger is Hawkeye). A couple of weeks I went to the library and grabbed “Captain America”. I think the Superhero movies that are out. Iron Man, Captain America, whomever. All good things to explore. Not only are they fun movies and for the most part, kid friendly. There are some decent lessons to be learned in there.

When I was a kid I loved Superheros. Saturday mornings I was up early watching “Superfriends”. My favorite character on that show was Aquaman, he could summon any sea creature he wanted (what a cool super power to have). I loved watching episodes of Batman and Robin. I can even remember a couple of made for TV “Spiderman” and “Captain America” movies. All great stuff.

Then I got older, my shows disappeared. I found myself flipping through the new comic books in the grocery store or bookstore and it just wasn’t the same for me.

I’ve seen all the Marvel Superhero movies, and my favorite is still “Captain America”. I saw this movie the first night it came out. It’s a good story of good vs. evil, standing up to the bully, etc. I like the concept of the good guys taking their lumps, but eventually winning. Something that I try to apply to my life. Something that I try to teach Frankie.

I like the Captain because he remembers where he came from and who he is. He’s definitely one of the good guys.

Frankie is heads and shoulders the tallest kid in his class (I’m 6’3 and his mother is 6’0). He is probably closer in height to a 3rd grader then he is to boy who is in kindergarten. I tell him to stay away from bullies and people like that. If he’s ever confronted, to always remember have your friends back and don’t be afraid to stand up for your friends. Standing up for the little guy, kind of tough concept to explain to your 6-year-old. One that doesn’t hurt to start early.