This is NOT a President’s Day Post

In fact, it’s not really a post at all actually, but rather, a recent facebook status update I made. One that I feel should be thrown into a larger web of the social media. One that, with a singular simple addition of a word (and more than a whole slew of singular edits), I feel will work pretty danged well for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:

FUNK (noun)  3 :  SLUMP  <an economic funk>  <the team went into a funk>

Picture11-1While struggling to swallow my latest fit of depression tonight at work, I met a mom who had really nice kids, and pretty sweet tats. As these things transpire, in conversation I found out that each tattoo represented one of the children. As she explained each in turn, I learned that the child whom I thought the most mature (a birthday boy JUST turned twelve who simply HAD to have Minecraft merch to celebrate properly), was born with autism. But it was his sister who stole my heart and gave me hope, in that at no more than 10 years old, she knew that she was transgender – a knowledge held since six years of age according to the mom. To date, she is the youngest transgender person I believe I have ever met.

While mom shared with me that her daughter was treated very poorly by her classmates and the school, the girl that stood before me was still a happy, well-adjusted kid. One who knew and was comfortable with whom she was, and (from my vantage point) well-loved by her family. Including her baby brother, whom she could not carry correctly, even had he come with instructions sewn in. Seeing them all (four kids and one mom with pretty sweet tats) woke me up out of my self-imposed pity-party over my current (and hopefully temporary) funk, to the idea that there are still a LOT of really good people out there. People who love without condition. People who would rather build each other up, then tear each other down. People who can, willingly I would assume, love something much bigger than only themselves.

I’m glad that that mom, her kids, and her sweet tats came in tonight. I’m glad to know that they exist out there. This world is five people better off as a result.

•••

Admittedly, the song chosen today has absolutely not one singular thing to do with the post, but honestly, how many challenges come along that provide you with the *perfect* cue to end with this gem?

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Briefly… The My Three Adoration edition

Simon’s 16 years-old.

My first-born, when he was first born, lay there on the heating-table as the nurse looked to me, saying “He’s yours – you can touch him.” I recently introduced him to the (somewhat painful) world of job applications, though it feels as he was only born a few years ago.

Simon has the power.

Hannah’s 15, and Hell on Wheels. Hell. On. Wheels. A strong young woman who desires popularity, while understanding the power of true friendship. She’s gonna dazzle the world with her persona, a trait she gets – oddly enough – from me.

Hannah has the power.

Ian’s 13. “Last but not least” never had a truer ring, and to me, he’s a Heart Of Gold on two legs – two very short legs. He keeps us four in check, making damned sure that I’m always on top of my game.

Ian has the power.

I named them with the following criteria – each should have names rooted in biblical history (“Ian” being Gaelic for “John”), and none should have names that could be altered in common conversation.

GIKids

All three bless my Life.

All three lift me.

All three have the power.

And all three,

Will someday use it.

•••

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Three (3) notes concerning this post:

1) This week’s 100 Word Song prompt was chosen by Linda Roy (who has the bestest business cards ever!) – “People Have Power” by Patti Smith.

2) Losing all punk rock cred, I never actually was that much of a Patti Smith fan. I mean, I caught “Because The Night,” and thought to m’self, “Well, that was rather nice,” before moving on. Hey, it happens. Truth be told, I wasn’t all that sold on Iggy Pop either.

3) There are three people in my life who continually inspire me, unconditionally love me, and make me a better man by their mere presence. They are currently walking with me through the hardest challenge of my adult life thus far, and I felt it was once again time to give them their due respect. Even IF I blew the 100 word limitation by a straight 100% in the process. Being their dad is never a pain, and always a pleasure.

3.5) Well. I suppose we can all safely assume that that last bit is a *touch* over-the-top, unadulterated and biased b.s., right…? 

Rest In Peace

My youngest son, the heel-hoofing beautiful boy I recently “spoke” to my dad about, has a particular way of kissing me good night.

First he kisses my lips. Then my right ear. Then my left. And then my lips once more – presumably for good measure.

He kisses me good night in this fashion precisely each and every day, and last night was no exception.

Last night, however, I became painfully aware that while my 12 year old boy was kissing me good night, another father could very well have been kissing his 12 year old boy goodbye for the last time.

ONeills

My heart goes out to the parents, family and friends of Bailey O’Neill. I can not fathom the pain they must be feeling at this time, and I pray for their shared peace.

People, this shit has simply got to stop already. We have got to come to grips with the fact that we are not a nation of gun-totin’ John Wayne macho men walking off into the sunset – we are a nation of people. Living, breathing, loving – and sometimes hurting – people. None of us is any better than the rest, by mere incidence of physical appearance, skin color, sexual orientation, religious practice or social position.  God damn us for thinking anything otherwise.

A 12 year old boy died yesterday because we as a people not only allow bullying to occur, but have almost put the practice onto a pedestal of sorts, praising the “tough guy” while belittling the peace maker.

My son, my children, are no strangers to bullying. They have each learned to cope in their own fashion, with a sin that is upon us all. They have each learned to deal with this barbaric rite – a rite that no one should ever have live with, let alone die from.

Bailey, I am sorry that we allowed this to happen to you. I am so sorry.

People, this shit has simply got to stop already. Let’s get to work.

Tomorrow

If I turned off my mental radio and stopped, just stopped… If I stopped and really thought about it all, I would most likely burst into tears.

crying-girl

I would burst into tears like some sort of overly pampered priss, while flailing about in an impotent rage. Rage in all that has passed, and in all that has not. All that has fallen apart, and all that has stubbornly stayed put. I would mourn the death of innocence in two young lives, and the two open doors that I could not walk through alone and, as such, could not walk through at all. I would weep over the pile of bodies that 2012 is leaving behind, and the swath of aborted dreams that were mowed down throughout its three hundred and sixty five days and nights.

So to avoid this, I will not turn my mental radio off. I will instead keep the cacophony at ear-deafening volumes, while I snuggle my mind deep within the distraction and cool warmth of its noise. I will keep my rage directed towards nonsensical things, things hardly deserving the sort of hate to be bestowed upon them. And I will do so in the hopes that in so doing I can slowly bleed it out, run it dry. Empty myself of the stuff in order to fill the newly open void with something better. Something positive.

Before I do so however, I would simply like to add:

2013, I am ready for a fresh start. Please Jesus, please – I am ready for Tomorrow.

First off, I want to thank everyone who commented on Friday.

And I’m even more grateful that none of you called me on breaking my “no more sad posts” promise from the week prior =)

Secondly I wanted to explain to you, as an anal retentive type, I’ve set up a folder for every member of my family on our computer desktop. They each contain the person’s name followed by “stuff.” Well, all but mine. My name is followed by the word “junk.” Pretty telling, don’t you think?

Anywho, I was sorting through my “junk” after Friday’s post, and I came across something I had previously forgotten about. A long way back, I used to teach Children’s Liturgy at our church (I know, right?), and at one point they decided that we should provide the actual homily (sermon) in our own fashion to the general congregation. Of all the teachers, I was chosen (I know, right?) to do so. Now, as the church is a body politic more than anything else, the tides eventually changed, and about a week before I supposed to give the homily, they canned the whole idea. The thing I came across while sorting through my junk, was the homily I had planned on giving, but never did. Until now, that is…

OK kids – we have been getting soooooooo many complaints from the parents, jealous that they don’t get to come to the Lil Church in the back with us every week, that we thought  – just this once – that we would instead bring our Lil Church up front to them! And don’t you worry; I’ll make sure that they behave as well as you do. Well, almost.

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So, are we ready to listen to the readings?

     (response)

And do we listen with our mouths?

    (response)

Do we listen with our ears?

    (response)

OK, then, let’s go!

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    (followed by the readings. After Gospel, wait a few minutes. Let the kids sit back down on the floor before doing so yourself. Deep breath, and…)

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“You are the salt of the earth.”

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Did you notice that?

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“You ARE the salt of the earth.”

“You ARE the Light of the world.”

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See, Jesus didn’t say, “you MAY BE the salt of the earth”,

Or, “being the salt of the earth happens from time to time”,

And He didn’t say, “There’s an outside chance that at some point you might possibly be a light of the world – hey – it happens.”

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No, Jesus plainly states that we ARE the salt.

We ARE the light.

Already.

Without our even knowing it.

COOL!

So… all the hard work has already been done – God already knows we have the ability to shine like His son – God has already placed His trust in us.

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Now,

all I have to do is just sit here n’ “Shine” – right?

Just hang out n’ be all Salty – right?

Is there something more to it you think?

Well,

I’ve already got salty down (rubbing beard), but how exactly do I shine?

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I’m pretty sure you guys are too young to have heard of this, but there used to be an uber-popular thing called a “WWJD” bracelet, and these little gems basically reminded us to always think about how Jesus would handle a situation, prior to attacking it ourselves.

I kinda wish it hadn’t been so uber-popular, because once something reaches that level of coolness, then it HAS TO – by some strange cosmic law – become uber-NOT cool at some point, and then it just disappears altogether.

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I wish this hadn’t happened because these bracelets were so much easier than lugging around a copy of today’s first reading all the time.

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You see the W-W-J-D stood for “What Would Jesus Do”, and in the first reading, Isaiah reminds us that “What Would Jesus Do” is exactly What Would Jesus Did:

  • He gave bread
  • He clothed
  • He sheltered
  • He embraced
  • He Shone with the brightness of God’s Light!

And if I want to shine as He did – if I want to shine with the brightness of God’s Light – then all I have to do is follow His lead – all I have to do is

  • Give bread – either literal or intellectual (got a good book you’re done with? Pass it along to someone else to enjoy! Not playing with that toy? Give it to someone who maybe can’t afford it!)
  • Give clothing – be respectful of the clothes you have, so that when you grow out of them, someone else can wear them as well. Ask your parents to make semi-annual Amvets or Salvation Army runs.
  • Give shelter – friend having a hard time with their brothers or sisters? Invite them over for a sleepover!  See a classmate being bullied? Stand by them instead with the bullies – SHELTER them.
  • Give embraces – real ones are cool, but sharing your toys is another way to make someone feel pretty well-hugged – holding doors for people does wonders as well, and I guarantee, if you VOLUNTARILY do dishes one night – your folks are gonna give you the hug of a lifetime – after they come back to, of course.

In other words – before you do anything – just remember that God has ALREADY placed His trust in you.

And His Son has already shown us the Way – go do it like He did it – and don’t worry about what results. Trust him like he trusts you. Then, not only will you be the Salt of the earth,

you will also be salty  =)

not only will you be a Light to the world,

but you will also SHINE!

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Will it be easy?

No!

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Can you do it?

Yes!

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Jesus believes in you, your loved ones believe in you, I believe in you – and I pray that you believe in you too =)

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Now get outta here – be good through the rest of mass, and have a great week kids – thanks!

•••

I guess I’m sharing this with you today, because when I re-read it, I found myself thinking two things. First off, my punctuation skills suck. And secondly, I really should learn to take my own advice more often.

Daleks & destruction: The stuff of childhood whimsy

Lines, drawn in a haphazard and rushed fashion, roughly form the sideview outline of a Dalek when connected. No mere drawing of childhood whimsy, this was created as the basis of a overly detailed and rather intense instructional piece instead. Drawn not by a child who is merely filling their hours but rather, one who is hellbent on pretending to be the very space and time terror he drew for Halloween. An idea two years in the making.

Now to those Whovians among you “in the know”, I apologize for my need of explanation to follow (not to mention the explanation itself). And for those of you who have no earthly idea what a Dalek – or a Whovian for that matter – is, then I would highly recommend you break open a book or two and begin culturing yourself. Your education can even start here:

Daleks are the most dreaded, feared and hated enemy of Doctor Who ever to appear on screen. Doctor Who, in turn, is the time-traveling Time Lord created by the BBC to be the main character of a television show by the same name; both to keep the masses entertained, and possibly hoodwinked as to the whole thing being actually based on real events, versus imagined. Admittedly not nearly as cool as the Cybermen, the Daleks still reign supreme in the Whovian universe’s hierarchy of villainy. Personally speaking, I’ve always found them to be a bit irritating. What with their rolling about in a fashion similar to that of an infant captaining a wheeled baby walker, all while in a high-pitched voice incessantly bleating out “Exterminate, exxxxxxtermmmminate!” Screaming as they do, they simply roam space, time and even dimensions in the hopes of destroying every living being that crosses their path, and sometimes they’re quite successful at it. I mean, when they’re not busy serving tea.

And my youngest son wants to be one for Halloween.

Now it’s important to note that my youngest does not, in the normal course of his day, attempt to destroy every living being that he sees (that’s much more his older brother’s “thing”). In fact, if I had to compare him to an average household item, my choice would have to be a feather-stuffed pillow – squeezably comfy, and wonderful to snuggle with, with only the occasional prick. He’s probably the jolliest of the three, and usually the one who tries hard to keep everyone “playing nice.” You may recall he is also prone to forget things. Quite readily, and shortly after they plunk down in his head. And he seems to simply glide through life, most often and quite organically making all the right decisions. But his forget-ability has held no sway in his desire to “Dalek up” this halloween. I too have tried to dissuade him, based on the idea that if this thing does come to life, it will be me doing all the actual engineering to make it so. And let’s just say that I “engineer” about as well as I give birth. But to no avail, he is soldiering on with his plan.

What follows is the actual list of items he feels we’ll be requiring to make this Dalek thing happen, according to his “elements and instructions” sheet, and I’ve left all the spelling in tact:

• Robot Voice Translator – can be found at Vidler’s or Toys R Us • glue • wood • wisk • plunger • telescope • cardbord • ball joints • 2 lightbulbs • pencile • movable seat • 3 wheels • rubber • normal rounded glass • screws • nails • lights to see inside • paint is a given •

When I asked him how all these items were going to be put together, he simply stated “duh, I included nails and screws, daddy!” And the ball joints, what are those for? “They’ll be used on the side plates” But those are huge! This suit going to weigh hundreds of pounds! “Well that’s why it’ll have wheels.” But how are you going to push it? How are you going to get it up the front stairs of each house in order to get candy? “I’m not.” Then how will you get candy? They’re not going to come and bring it to you, you know. “I’m won’t get any candy.” So you’re just going to spend your Halloween rolling a several hundred pound Dahlek suit up and down the street? “It’ll creep people out.

Now here’s the rub, the Daleks aren’t even his favorite. No, he much more fancies other villains. Villians with LEGS. Villains like the fore-mentioned Cybermen. And the Sontarans. And of course there’s the Judoon as well. Not to mention Captain Jack. Yes Whovians, I actually do know that Jack isn’t technically a villain. But you have to admit, he was sort of a self-serving ass at the beginning. And that’s not even the whole point. The whole point is that he wore CLOTHES. Just clothes. No ball joints glued to wood being required. No swivel seat and interior lighting either. And while he could still purchase the robot voice translator if he wanted to (available at either Vidler’s or Toys R Us), it wouldn’t be a necessity.

Now, although he discounted being the Doctor himself, because his favorite is David Tennent and “I’m much too short to be David” (also suggested was that he be an Adipose, but in the normal course of our family chats, this ended with him simply running about naked while waving at people, so the plan was quickly dropped), he could be any one of these other characters instead. Characters that could be created with simple cardboard, clothing and paint (being a given). Instead, he’s stuck on this whole Dalek thing.

I told him he had better start saving his money if he really wanted to pursue this. And if nothing else, that will be my saving grace. For he saves money about as well as I engineer. Even if the plan doesn’t come to pass (please Jesus, don’t let the plan come to pass…) I’m keeping the instructions he drew up. Not because they’re overly detailed and rather intense, but simply because they capture perfectly a bit of my youngest’ childhood whimsy.

12/7 conversations of Santa and Cybermen

The walk from my house to that of my parents is a scant six blocks. And while that’s a short enough distance when walked alone, when traversed with my three children, a great deal of conversational goop can accumulate well before the journey’s end. We went en mass this past Sunday to clear out my folks gutters from their leaves of Fall – a task that ended up being much more enjoyment than doldrum, much more bonding than chore. And within our brief walk over we discussed the following very important items of Christmas interest:

1. The flying sleigh of Santa is all a carefully laid-out ruse, set up by the man himself. He started the rumor long ago that had us all looking up, when we should have been looking down. In our shared brilliance we deduced that instead of flying across the globe, delivering toys through chimney, window and door, Claus actually has access to every house via sumps from each and every basement. That’s right – a web of catacomb-like underground trails connect us all to the pole of North, and the jolly man simply travels from hall to hall – from sump to sump – in delivering each package to each house while the residents within sleep unawares. It has to be the only plausible explanation. Even if they did exist, flying reindeer would NEVER be able to haul around not only themselves, but the sleigh and the loaded sacks – not mention the Man himself – through the sky as well. Not without some serious assistance from prevailing winds, or the hand of God holding them all up there at once in the wafer-thin air, that is.

2. As noted before, the tunnel travels take place with all of us being safely tucked away and none the wiser. Should however, some child wake to see the man of red unloading his bag, then they are quickly muffled, shuffled off and transformed (in a process very similar to that of the Cybermen of Doctor Who’s fame) into Christmas elves. That’s right, according to my children, elves are in fact formerly human children who, once seeing the truth of Santa’s existence, must be assimilated into becoming one his own – just to keep their mouths shut, and the secret safe. Now, i’m none too sure if it would be a wise thing to speak of this concept in an effort to get your young ones to sleep on Christmas eve – in that there might be the occasional daredevil who tries it simply TO become such an elf, but i’m pretty sure for the rest, it would only serve only to scare the living bejesus out of them.

3. Ninjas. Don’t ask me how this came about, but it did. Apparently all the elves, to the very last, is also a ninja. According to my first-born, the proof of the matter works something like this. “Do you know how you sometimes notice a hole in your wall, which looks like it could’ve been made with a nail, but you don’t remember ever placing a nail there? Well, that’s from an elf’s shuriken (throwing star).” Now, you may be wondering where he was going with that, but since i know him well enough to know that it could be a very difficult place indeed, i decided not to ask him to expound upon his theory, leaving you gentle reader, in the lurch (and probably a lot better off as a result, seeing as my first-born can take you into dimensions that you never knew – nor wanted to know – existed). My youngest, however, did take the opportunity to explain that the ninja theory had to be true, as there was no other way possible that children who see Santa could ever be corralled up to the North Pole without dispute. And he further proved his point by making random and Jerry Lewis-esque kicks into the air while the rest of us continued on our walk.

4. The conversation took a somewhat somber note as it began to dawn on some that – while even though the tunnel system saved numerous man-hours – it was still unlikely that Santa could ever get all the houses done in one night. Even considering that he did have a cushion of multiple time zones to play with. To my surprise, none of the children brought up the possibility of clones being used. And none brought up the idea that Santa might in fact be a large, octopus-like creature, who twirled out massive gift-laden tentacles that delivered all the presents of the world in one fail swoop. No, nothing so cool as that was mentioned. Instead, all three fell back on their Whovian (Doctor, that is) roots and came up with the idea that Santa was somehow allowed to stop time in order to get all the work that needed completion done. It was a solid idea, and sounded plausible to all, but there was some concern over where he would ever have obtained such a power from.

5. Being a dad always on the look-out for opportunities to pontificate my beliefs, and realizing that our walk was just about to come to an end, i used this turn of the conversation to both share my faith with the kids AND look like a dammed Smarty in the process by stealing an idea by C.S. Lewis. i stopped all three on the sidewalk leading up to my parents front door, and i told them that the only way Santa could circumvent time would be if God allowed it, and if He did, then that would mean that Santa was actually “above” time. The blank stares alerted me that an explanation was required even before they asked for one. Pointing to a seam in the sidewalk i told them to imagine that it represented time, and that the little leaves tucked within it were each a person, each to it’s own place in the line and each looking forward or back, but all being unable to move in either direction under their own will. i then told the kids to now look where they were in relation to that line at that moment – all of them being “above” it. And as a result, all of them able to move anywhere (or any time) along the line they wanted, as needs or desires dictated. This, i explained, is how i think God views time. And guessing that God might actually be a bit like i imagine him to be, i was pretty sure that he would also allow Santa to do pretty much the same.

To my knowledge, none of them have yet realized that i took the opportunity to turn an incidental conversation about Santa and Cybermen into a chance to teach them about my faith. And had i my druthers, i would hope that none of them do figure it out anytime soon, as i’m of the belief that the best lessons learned in life are the ones we never realize we were taught in the first place.

Just between you and me, i also hope that the idea about Cybermen elves isn’t true, seeing as i can think of three children (two at the least), near and dear to me who may very well be the type of “occasional daredevils” willing to try it on for size.