What Happened to My Hair!?

I shaved my head again!

I had more hair than I realized.

I had more hair than I realized.

The both of you might remember that almost one year ago I shaved my head in solidarity with my mother-in-law, Wilma, who was going through chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Well we’re still kicking cancer’s bony ass but it seems we have to do it one breast at a time.  No, Wilma’s doing great.  This time it’s my sister Mary Ann.  She’s now my second sister to face down this evil, hateful bitch.  One can never be too harsh in reference to cancer.

So this morning, after going to mass, my wife asked me to drive us over to the site of the big fundraiser we had been a part of yesterday.  It’s for my kids’ school.  It was an Oktoberfest and it was a complete success and then some.  I got to emcee.  It was a blast.  But, being the organizers means that we had to clean up the day after.  Hundreds of folding chairs and tables, pumpkins and potted mums had to go somewhere.

“Honey,” I said, “How about I drop you off and while you get started I’ll run back home and start some laundry?”  She was fine with this because we were, as a family, on the verge of running out of… underwear!

That's how we do it.

That’s how we do it.

I went home, started the laundry, and then decided that since I had time I’d also FaceTime my sister and we’d shave our scalps together.  It was actually a fun moment.  At one point, clippers in hand, I started singing Carwash.  “You might not ever get rich… But lemme tell you it’s a-better than diggin’ a ditch…”  Classic.  And my dance to it was even better.

I returned to the festival clean-up, freshly shorn and excited.  And as I was walking across the lawn another one of the dad’s from the school who was carrying some hay bails passed me.

“Hey, heard you’re all cleaned up down below.  You’re wife spilled the beans.”

I nervously laughed and then said “No, I just did the scalp.  Trust me, I’m good.  And, my wife said that?!”

Turns out my precious wife had jokingly related that I was cleaning our laundry so I wouldn’t be without a clean pair of boxers tomorrow but NOT that I was also shaving my head.

Thank God this little girl still loves me (shaved or not).

Thank God this little girl still loves me (shaved or not).

And it only got better folks.  Lots of good natured fun at my expense.  I don’t mind.  I enjoy at least being the center of attention.  There’s no such thing as bad publicity.  But the best line goes to my son.  He spent the day with Wilma on the last day of the State Fair.  Very late this evening they both walked into my kitchen while I was working on a column for another site.  He looked straight at me, paused, and then said:

“Daddy, did you get a haircut?”

If I were feeling like my old man I would have responded:

“No, son, I got ‘em all cut.”

 

On a special note, please keep Mary Ann (my sister) in your prayers.  More than anything, the spiritual weapons we possess from God are the real instruments of destruction in this battle (and all our battles).  I greatly appreciate it.  She does too.

Guess I Passed?

How is this for and apnea test?

Remember my recent sleep study? Guess who fell asleep today in the waiting room of the otolaryngologist?

That’s justice.

A Storm’s A-comin’…

It’s Texas.

It’s October.

It’s…  Time to batten down the hatches.  Lawdy, there’s a twister a-comin’!

When did I become Scarlet O’Hara?  In all seriousness, folks, wherever you are tonight I pray that you are safe, happy, thankful, and secure in the knowledge of God’s love for you.  I also pray that you are sharing that love.  Hey, you clicked on this post.  That says something.  Now about that storm…  Well, according to the weather service we here in Big D are expecting a whopper overnight.  Say a prayer we’ll muddle through.  Updates tomorrow.

Ominous Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (PD)

Ominous
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (PD)

My Constants

Had another fun evening  with the kids.  Actually, I had a magnificent day all around.  And the brilliance of this day is that it helped solidify a few thoughts that have been bouncing around my head for a few weeks.  To quote the late Joan Rivers “Can we talk?”

A few things in the past couple of weeks have threatened my psyche.  Having learned from past mistakes I know that the thing to do is NOT to get down.  Rather, the thing to do in these situations is to take time out and not do anything at first, save to pray over what I’m going through.  I have had, in the past, moments when, out of frustration, I have thrown my hands up and allowed myself to get into a mood, an air of discontent.  What I’ve been able to learn is that I am in control of how I feel.  No one should have that power over another.  If something is not going right I need to just let it go and then find a way to rectify not the problem but my role in it, and then move forward.  What I have discovered is something I ought to have been able to recognize from the beginning; but too often the beautiful things around us are obscured by the pain we let grip us.

Recently I have dealt with the realization that sometimes our “friends” are not the people we thought they were.  This one’s tough because the energy I put into relationships is over-the-top.  So I step back and think about it.  Maybe I go too much into a friendship and that’s not always what someone else is looking for.  What kills me is that I know that I cannot mask my emotions.  Never been able to.  Others have told me they admire that inherent honesty in me.  I, on the other hand, hate that I can’t simply be alone with my hurt pride until it’s gone.  I’ve come face-to-face with the ugly reality that my judgment is not always so reliable.  And this is OK.  We’re not perfect and maybe that’s what bothers me in these moments.  I strive too much for perfection.  I want to be that best friend, the master teacher (at work), the confidant or awesome brother or whatever.  In prayer and especially with the Gospel I take comfort knowing that I don’t have to be anything more than what I’ve been called to be where I’ve been called to be it.

However, this time, instead of finding myself with a jumbled ball of anger, hurt, and confusion in my hands not knowing what to do with it, I have been blessed to recognize who the constants in my life truly are — the ones who are always with me in spirit and who will always love me and look to me with kindness simply because I am me.

If you read yesterday’s post you know that I was given an opportunity at work today to take over the school’s social media.  I started out the day a bit nervous but quickly realized I was having way too much fun.  In stepping into this role I kept feeling this sense of comforting reassurance that these incredible young men and women who all look up to me are some of the folks who love me and who value my presence in their lives.  I love them right back and can’t imagine my life without them.  Today was a wonderful chance to see that and experience it in a beautiful and fun way.

Coming home I picked up my kids from my mother-in-law.  She had been watching them while my wife ran some errands.  There was just something about our crazy, hectic evening tonight.  We laughed, we put down some squabbles, I cooked dinner and we ate together.  These two, even more so, reminded me how special I am to them.  Again, the feeling’s more than mutual.  At work we watched a documentary that featured a young man of 20 who was being reunited with his dad.  The dad had walked out for ten years.  I turned to my students and, pausing the video, got angry for a moment.  “I could not even begin to imagine not seeing my children for ten years!”  But I need them as much as they seem to need me.  Their love for me shown in the simple gesture of a kiss at the door when I walk in or an excited description of what was learned at school today. This is everything I need to remember God’s love for me.  So they’re my constants.  They’re always here for me.

I hate sounding selfish.  Who does this guy think he is?  But the truth is that I think we all need to feel that special love and yes, sense of being needed from others every now and then.  At least I do.  And that’s why these past few weeks have been such a blessing.  Thanks be to God for helping me see it differently this time and thanks be to my constants for being so constant.

Pondering the Big What-If’s

truthandcharityPosted another column over at Truth & Charity this week.  I invite you all to take a look.  I’m particularly fond of this one since it’s very personal and since it involves one of my old friends, Dan.

Sometimes, due to our perversely fallen human nature, we weak men tend to misuse a great capacity that we’ve been given precisely as human beings.  That is, God has crafted our humanity with the ability to reflect.  To my knowledge no other creature on the planet can do this.  I’m not talking about self-recognition when staring in a mirror.  Apparently my Jack Russell Terrier might be able to spot himself in the looking glass, although the jury’s still out on that one since he also licks his nether regions after meals.  No, I mean that we have the ability to think back upon things that were and, in conjunction with the gift of reason, analyze past events.  This is a wonderful gift as it means that our memory is not just to be used in the service of our instinct.  I remember eating tomatoes once as a child and hating them.

In related news, I’ve started using these articles as fodder for my students to teach them particular spiritual lessons.  “Get into BlackBoard and check out the article I posted, kids.  You’ll love it and I hear the author’s a real stud.”  Hey, it’s not as if I didn’t write them.  Today, some of the boys in one of my classes looked at the two I’ve posted so far and said “Hey Mr. H, you seem to have a lot of women commenting on these.”  “Well, boys, Mr. H. is popular with the ladies,” I replied.  I didn’t tell them that the two comment-givers are my sister and a faithful blog reader from this page.

Son, You’re Going to Make Daddy Cry

What a day it’s been…

I thought of just leaving you with that line and then thought better of it.  OK, I’ll explain.  As you both know, I do not discuss the details of my day job on this blog.  It is not fair to the people with whom I work.  However, in oblique terms (there’s an SAT word for you) I will tell you about why I love what I do.  It might not ever keep me in the lifestyle to which my mind wishes it would become accustomed but I challenge any both of my friends honestly to tell me they love their jobs as much as I love mine.  More to the point, nobody has more fun with his job than I do.  I may wake up on the wrong side of the bed (hardly likely since my wife holds firm to her side like the cement shoes of a rat at the bottom of the East River.  Bad image.  Sorry.  I might not have enough coffee.  Is there ever enough?  I might hit the worst traffic in North Texas (and it’s notoriously evil).  But the moment I arrive at work I get energized.  I am a high school teacher.  My students are one of the great joys of my life.  They make me laugh, bring a smile to my face, challenge me to see things in bizarre ways.  I cry with them, I feel pain with them, I celebrate with them.  Though they are not mine, they are mine for the few hours a day we are together and I love them like my own.

So I’m one of those obnoxious “techie” teachers.  Truth is, our school has an amazingly well-thought out social media and laptop policy.  It makes sense.  The kids don’t complain.  We give them appropriate freedom and appropriate restraints.  But the best part is that the teachers are encouraged to become part of the school’s social media scene.  I tweet throughout the day — mostly funny selfies or scenes of school life with awesome captions.  I am, in a sense, everywhere I need to be and the students are reassured by my presence (at least I like to think).  This morning the school’s director of social media offered me an opportunity to take it to the next level.  Tomorrow we’re starting a “TeacherTakeover” experiment.  Yours truly has been given the keys, as it were, and is being given a chance to drive the school car.  In other words, I’ll be the one posting on behalf of the school’s official accounts for the day.  I am beyond overjoyed.  This is a particular interest of mine — media relations and education — and Ive already started spreading the word.  It’s going to be a blast.  It helps that we have the best kids on the planet.  It’s almost like that time the nurse left the key to the narcotics cabinet on my bedside tray.  Wait, that never happened.

He's got it!

He’s got it!

So what’s with the title?  Well, something I love even more than my job is being a dad.  My own two actually kittens are the real joy of my life and it is with them that I have even more fun than any man should be allowed to have.  For the past few years my wife and I have been diligently trying, with varying levels of patience, to get the both of them into a habit of reverence.  It’s been frustrating to watch them at Sunday mass (forget about weekdays) as they fidget, roll around, beat each other with the bulletins, and generally annoy the other parishioners.  The thing is we can’t give up.  Sooner or later, we figure, they’ll get it.  Something will just click.  What’s been almost as tough is our struggle to get them to adopt a posture of personal prayer as we try teaching them our devotion to the rosary and other “home” prayers.  They’ve gotten better but only to the point where they’ll gleefully fall asleep as I pray the rosary in bed at night with them.  Whatever, I’ll take it.

Tonight, however, something was different.  My daughter, exhausted from a busy day, did fall asleep pretty quickly.  Before she did, though, she made sure to mention her prayer intentions.  And they were so cherubic.  “I want to pray for Daddy’s friend Dan, and for all the people who are sick (apparently every invalid on the planet), and, oh, and for a new baby — a boy and a girl.”  More on that topic in another post.  Don’t get excited, it’s not what you’re thinking.  But after her list of supplications I climbed into the bottom bunk of their toddler sized bed to lie down with Sonny Boy.  He had some intentions too which took a few minutes.  I began praying, my leg cramping on me every few seconds.  Good Lord, these beds are not comfortable.  One mystery down.  Two mysteries down. I was starting to fall asleep myself but Son was wide awake.  Actually, was he?  I almost couldn’t tell.  And then he spoke.

“Daddy, can I pray the next decade?  I’ve been practicing at school.”

My heart just about melted.  All this time I thought he wasn’t paying attention and that I wouldn’t be able to reach him and here he was quietly paying attention and letting God reach him.  “Sure, Son, go for it!”  He started out.  First there was silence as he asked me “Daddy, you have to announce the mystery for me.”  OK, done.  Then he started to pray.  “Our Father…  Wait,” he said.  “What is it, pal,” I asked.  “It’s one Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be, right?” he asked.  “Absolutely, Son, absolutely,” I said back quietly.

And like that a day that was glorious to begin with got ten times better.  Sometimes God knows exactly what we need when we need it.  Duh.  He’s God.  He always knows exactly what we need when we need it.  Sometimes, rather, He gives us a chance to be calm and still and to let Him Be Him.

Deo Gratias!

A New Post; A New Contribution

I’ve started writing for a Catholic blog called Truth and Charity.

Check it out here if you’re interested.