Category Archives: Response to Daily Post

Slur

Thought I’d check in with a prompt from the good folks at the Daily Post.

Tonight it’s a single word:

Slur

So here goes…

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I call this one “Slur: Cause and Effect”.

Top that.

 

Them’s Fightin’ Words

I’ve never been in a fight.  Not a fist fight anyway.  I know, this somehow makes me less of a man.  Believe me, I have an older brother who once told me those exact words.  Fun, right?  I’ve been in the verbal variety plenty of times.  Given my family’s background, that should be a given.  Let’s see…  Irish, Scottish, English, New York/New Jersey, large family.  Yes, the knock-down drag-out’s of my world have all been of the cerebral kind.  In fact, it’s one of the impeti for my sense of wit.  That and unimaginable tragedy.  These two factors tend to spur on development of a strange sense of quickness and dryness.  Unfortunately for me, this type of humor is a blessing and curse.  I’ve been able to make many people laugh uncontrollably in my lifetime.  I’ve also sometimes used humor to hurt people.  The key is in learning to control it.

By the way, I’m borrowing from the Daily Prompt for this stream.

Fight

That being said, I’ve always wanted, as the headline in The Onion once screamed, to land just one good, clean punch.  Seems like that would be a phenomenal rush.  Most men I know have at least had fights with their brothers or school pals growing up.  Not I.  My brothers were all older, the living ones, and I guess I’m just too practical to ever let impatience over any situation resolve itself in a  manner that could have left me, not bloodied, but with a single hair out of place.  Remember, I grew up in the Garden State.

This morning at work I had to fight.

I fought the urge to steal this cute little lady and take her home.

A coworker brought his dog with him today.  Boy that was fun, being able to pet the little gal.  Something about a dog that really tends to lower one’s blood pressure and bring a smile to one’s face.

Let’s get back to brawling.  As much fun as I think it would be to knock someone out I also imagine I’d embarrass myself tremendously.  My punches would probably not connect and I’d end up slamming my poorly formed fist into a wall.  That would suck.

Other men wouldn’t trust me to be on their side in a bar fight.  I would be outcast from social circles.  This would make me belligerent and likely lead to more fighting.  Perhaps I would then have enough practice and eventually get good at it.  Much scarring and bruising later I might finally be able to say “Yeah, I been in fights, tons of ’em.  You gotta’ problem with that?  Wanna’ dance, bitch?”

On the other hand, if you ever need to cut someone down to size in the kind of way that leaves more damaging mental scars than physical; I’m your guy.  Why I can make you believe the worst in yourself and you’ll laugh while I’m saying it.  It’s only when you’re at home that you’ll begin to ponder what I’ve said.  Then, you’ll feel even worse about your diminished mental state when you have to look up half the words I used.  But I’m also good at words with vague double meanings so you’ll doubt the whole thing ever happened.  Years from now when you’re in group at Hazelden, you’ll eventually learn that you must let go in order to find true peace.  Those kinds of scars will never fully heal.

And every one of my remaining hairs are still in place.

Go Jersey.

Who’s Watching You?

As a teacher, I know what it’s like to have to perform in front of an audience.  I do it several times a day, five days a week.  I have often compared my job to that of an actor on the Broadway stage.  And as a fan of theater I can tell you that when you see the same performance twice or even a third or fourth time (with the same cast) you notice different things.  Hopefully you notice the performance getting better in some way.  The pace changes based on the audience and time of day, jokes that bombed the first time out are retooled, etc.

It can be scary and it can be stressful.  Fortunately, I love my job so it isn’t really either of those things.  But when I first started teaching there were, I admit, sleepless nights here and there.  So tonight’s prompt reminds me of my career.  Here it is.

When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?

I love having friends and family around me all the time so I would probably go with that option.  The moral support is always appreciated.  However, I am so comfortable doing things (like teaching) completely on my own that it doesn’t really bother me to be surrounded by strangers.  In fact, in many ways it’s preferable.  Let’s say I’m doing something at which I am absolutely no good.  Most athletic endeavors fall into this category.  Better, I think, to do them in the presence of no one in particular than to embarrass myself in front of my loved ones.

Those who witnessed me run my first 5K a month and a half ago can attest.  When I’m running I resemble an elephant hopped up on Percocet chasing a squirrel on a field of butter.

Speaking of painkillers, your truly had that tooth extracted earlier this evening.  Fun.  Not really.  But it wasn’t too bad.  The dentist did a good job of numbing me.  After a few moments I couldn’t feel the right side of my head.  Still, owing to the fact that large teeth and even longer roots run in my family, he had to bust out the big tools.  First he pulled the crown off.  That was an interesting sound.  Then he sawed, chipped, and drilled the rest of this molar from my gums.  At one point he actually used his free hand to brace my head against the chair for leverage while pulling my tooth with the other.

Suffice to say I spent most of the evening with gauze packed in my mouth feeling like I’d had a stroke.

Greco Holy Family

St. Joseph is one of these dudes.  El Greco doesn’t make it quite clear…

Before I leave you, please stop and say a prayer for my brother.  The hospice nurse informed my sister that his decline is now rapid and if we are to honor his wish to die at home we should bring him home.  My sister, normally a little more stoic when hearing medical news, cried.  Of course she did.  Whereas I never had much of a relationship with my brother — he is still my brother and I love him and want him to be at peace — this was her baby brother.  She saw him as a child, played with him, grew up with him.

I’ve already stated that his time on this earth is limited.  It may be a day or he may hold on for another week or two.  Please pray.  Here is a link to a prayer to St. Joseph, patron saint of a happy death and of the dying.

That’s What I Sound Like?!

I spent the day battling a toothache on and off.  I’ve got a molar that’s needed extraction for about a year.  I’m not usually a procrastinator and I do not fear the dentist.  But I am a busy man who don’t got no time for time off.  When I was first told I’d need the tooth pulled I was given an antibiotic to prep for the pulling.  Guess what?  Pain went away and I used the opportunity to put off the deed.  Happened once more a few months later.  Same result.  This time I’m getting it done.  Tomorrow after work I’ll go from 28 teeth to 27…

I wonder if that will alter the sound of my voice…

Which brings us to tonight’s prompt.

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

Clever, huh?  Not really?  Well who asked you anyway?…  I did?  Oh yeah!

Having worked in the wonderful world of television production I learned long ago simply to suck it up, bite the bullet, and come face to face with your image as others see you.  My first day working for a major network’s station in New York (the City) I had an opportunity to record both my vocals (a voice over) and to do what’s called a stand-up (me, standing up of all things, on camera giving a report).  I watched and listened to both playbacks.  Truth is, I knew what I looked like but very few people ever hear their own voices the way others do because of the way sound travels through the Eustachian tubes in the skull.

BBC mic

I never worked for “the Beeb” but you get the point.

What I learned quickly was that, even though it made me cringe, it wasn’t that bad (my voice).  In fact, I learned that I had good pacing, good timbre, and good inflection.  It still sounded weird but I made the decision to willfully “get over it”.  Rather quickly I began to almost bypass the sound I heard in my own head when I spoke with the sound I know others hear.  I did this by consciously listening in other ways, almost straining at times to hear it.  It’s really not that bad.

Now, what’s probably more terrifying is to come face to face with how others see you.  This is something I’ve wondered most of my life.  I kind of like myself.  But what do others think?  I’ve often wondered whether my friends see me as I want to be seen or, rather, as I believe I truly am.  Do they see the guy who loves to joke around, have a cocktail, and share witty  banter?  The guy who cares deeply about his friends and enjoys their company?  Or do they see what I fear they sometimes see.  That is, do they see me as pushy, coming on too strong, desperate for companionship?  I’m not saying I am those things.  Just wondering aloud if people see me that way.

Either way, when they see me coming at them to ask if we’re going to hang out this weekend and they hear my pleading I know the actual voice and image they see and hear is that of a well-polished, one-time wannabe news anchor in the top market in the world.  And that, my friends, makes me feel pretty darn good about myself.

Straight A’s

Tonight’s Daily Prompt asks the most ridiculous thing.

Write about what you did last weekend as though you’re a music critic reviewing a new album.

As if I’d ever get a “B”.  Ha.

And why last weekend?  Why not today?  Regardless I’ll give it a stab.

I can tell you what I didn’t do first, since that might give greater contextual appeal.

Last weekend I did not:

  • Work out
  • Run
  • Drink with my trainer (because he hate me)  *Follow the link, Trainer.  It’s a joke.
  • Get my kids to sleep at any reasonable hour
  • Go to the gun range
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These drunk bears really know how to jam.  The beat drops this January.

That aside, last weekend was a triumphant return for me after a five day hiatus.  Returning to the studio after an exhausting tour of three classrooms in one city over the span of a week, this weekend started out with every promise of success.  The first single of this album dropped Friday night and it is appropriately called “Resting in Nothingness”.  “Resting” offers something for every listener.  However, those who busy themselves with the mundane tasks of life by finding joy in bizarre tasks will really appreciate the bass line of this joint.  “Resting” draws upon the artist’s desire to rest and do nothing.  The track, though, lasts only 22 seconds before being taken over by the only other song on the album — “These Kids Have Taken Over My Life”.  With a decidedly different beat and radical departure from the intro, “Taken Over” screams, smashes, and beats you over the head until you are forced to either obey its primary school madness or run out of your house and into the street stark naked and raving like a crazy person.  Eventually by the 46th refrain, the listener settles into the rhythm and begins to accept and enjoy metaphorically serving these children-masters until he has nothing left to give and the song abruptly ends.  There is a hidden track called “Expenses” that plays a subliminal message — “Schooling, wedding, Christmas presents…” — on a loop for 20 years.  There’s nothing you can do; that one just plays whenever it wants to.

All in all, Harvey at the Weekend plays like everything you ever wanted it to sounds like.  The best part of this album is listening to it with the ones you love.  Sit down with your family and play it in the background at dinner.  Pipe it into your earbuds while you’re out on a run.  Stream it through youtube on your phone for your Trainer while you drink.  This is one album sure to get an A+ on the list of all-time greats.

Returning to a reality wherein I am not an employee of Billboard…  It was a very good weekend.  This weekend?  Well if I hadn’t had to write a review of last weekend in a bizarre format I’d be half-way through telling about it by now.  You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.  In fact, by then I may have picked up the 6 more followers I need to hit the magic 500…

We shall see.

Before I forget, would you all in your charity please continue to offer prayers for my brother who is dying of pancreatic cancer?  A simple gesture of raising your hearts and minds to God means so much and I surely appreciate it.  Thank you, prayer warriors!

If I Could Turn Back Time

I wasn’t going to post again today simply because I’m tired; but you know how it is when you find new energy…  And when your topic is the title of a Cher song, well, who wouldn’t jump up to post?

Tonight’s Daily Prompt topic is this.

If you could return to the past to relive a part of your life, either to experience the wonderful bits again, or to do something over, which part of you life would you return to? Why?

Well, there are a few things I could imagine being present for again because they were filled with such incredible happiness.

  • My wedding day — start of a new life with the woman I love so much.
  • The births of my children — being transformed from Harvey to “Daddy”.

Then there are moments that were peaceful.

  • That time after my son was born when we took a six week road trip — our new family spending time together exploring this great land.
  • The time after my daughter was born — snow falling, fire burning in the fireplace, sleeping baby in the arms of sleeping Daddy.

Doing something over?

  • I might have asked my wife out sooner, like when we first met ten years earlier.
  • Perhaps I could have thought out my career arc a little better.
  • I definitely would have started working out, running, whatever when I was in my teenage years.  I think it would have helped me develop the habit much earlier.
  • Maybe I wouldn’t pursue that second Master’s Degree.  So far, it’s brought me nothing but increased debt and increased doubt (that I’ll ever advance beyond my current job).

But a moment in which I would love to find myself again is any moment before the death of my twin sister.  We were so young when she died I really have no memories of her.  I just want a memory, something to hold in my mind.

twins crib

One of the few pictures of me and my twin.

Fortunately, for all the dumb things I’ve done in my life God doesn’t allow do-overs of this sort; that is, actually going back in time.  If He let us go back only for the things we wanted to, it wouldn’t be just.  Quite frankly, I don’t want to go back on some of the stupid things and bad choices, like my sins.  I’m thrilled to leave them where they belong — in the past where I can’t do anything about them and they are locked forever.

I Am A Teenage Idol

A couple of nights ago I wrote about the pitfalls of putting your kids to bed.  Dear God, tonight my daughter ambushed me.  For about 90 minutes earlier this evening I snoozed precariously on the edge of a very pretty, frilly princess blanket.  I was on the edge of the bed because it’s a twin bed and I’m a big man.  I had fallen asleep.  My little girl had not.

Do you know why I woke up?

My sweet angel was placing a blanket over me.  “I didn’t want you to get cold, Daddy,” she said.

Is that just about the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?  I thought so too.

I recovered my senses, she fell asleep, and I went back to my Netflix series with my wife.  Then I remembered I wanted to write.  So here’s the prompt.

Who did you idolize as a teenager? Did you go crazy for the Beatles? Ga-ga over Duran Duran? In love with Justin Bieber? Did you think Elvis was the livin’ end?

I idolized legendary New York news anchors Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons.  And who wouldn’t?  They were amazing together.  They were the reason I wanted to be a news anchor.  Of course at the time I believe my hope was that we’d either anchor the 11:00 news as a trio or that Chuck would eventually retire and I would replace him but that he’d still do sweeps specials and I’d show mad respect.

Weren’t expecting that, were you?  That’s why they call me the Master of Surprise.  Or something like that…

So what’s with the title?  “I Am A Teenage Idol”.  I never became an anchor.  Never even reported on a single story live.  I did work as a producer.  This means I got to watch other people take credit for my reporting.  I’m not bitter.  You know why?  Because I’m a high school teacher.  I have so much fun doing what I do.

My students idolize me.

So there you have it.  They’re teenagers.  I’m their idol.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.