Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 1.28.27 AMMountain Dew.

My cold coffee.

My soda drink of choice.

It’s a part of my identity with my family and friends. A running punch-line. An ice breaker of awkward silence.

I can keep silent no more.

On my birthday this year I made a decision. One that I intend to keep.

No more Mountain Dew. Ever.

Sound a tad unrealistic? Maybe. I have tried before to shake the Dew, and while I certainly do not drink it as much as I used to, this time I feel different about the quitting. I have to change the way I live my life otherwise it will consume me. I guess I equate drinking Mountain Dew to weakness. To allowing the same-old problems and trials that hold me back from the true living of life. Now, is drinking Mountain Dew really that bad… perhaps not, but it’s a bad habit forged out of comfort, not necessity. Bad habits are made to be broken. So I say to my soul, my life, my future: challenge accepted.

Here on this blog it’s as public a statement that I can make. Consider this my dewbriety, and since my birthday I have stopped consuming Mountain Dew.

That’s 14 straight days. 7 more to that elusive 21.

Not. One. Drop.


Welcome to Hypocra City: Population 1

I’m a hypocrite.

There, it’s been said.

It’s fact. I’ve tried to convince myself that it’s not the case, but no dice. I feel different. Act different. Think different. Things I thought I knew have evolved into things I thought I never would have imagined. My views on politics, life, recreation, and basic common sense. I know how I used to feel, but my mind is elsewhere. I know what used to be real, but my mind has challenged me to rethink. Frankly, I don’t know which way is right anymore. Lately, I find myself looking outside my environment, looking upon my life as a spectator watching tv or a film at the cinema. Don’t get me wrong or read into the perceived negativity. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just a different realization for me and something I’m finally coming to terms with. My sanity has been pushed to the brink several times and it’s taken close relationship or two along the way to steer me back again. But each time I come back to the path, I know I’m still lost.

Does changing positions on topics when you have more of the facts make logical sense? Maybe.  I’ve had the luxury of standing on a soap box passing judgment based on no factual evidence. No first hand experience. No time tested beliefs. Well, now that I have spent some time on the mental front lines, my position has changed on certain said topics. I’m down from my soapbox. Ready to wear the self-imposed mantle of hypocrite, while living in the land of Hypocra City.

Hypocra City is a place equipped with only one working stoplight, a Radio Shack, a Subway (because every town has them), and one gas station that’s only open until 9pm. And if you want to find some late night drinks, you’ll have to go to the local watering hole on the corner. It’s home to the best martinis in town. I’ll be the guy sitting alone at the bar listening to Chris Issak on the jukebox. Come over and say, “Hi“. And since I am the only resident, I will pour you a drink as bartender, and offer the stool next to me for some company and a song as citizen.

Then maybe I can change the city sign on Main Street to Population 2.

The Photos of Lewis Wickes Hine

photo 2 (2)Lewis Wickes Hine was an american sociologist and photographer that was born in 1874 and died in 1940. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.  Many of his black and white photographs are currently on display in an exhibit at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film located in Rochester, NY. The work is striking, raw and honest.  Many photos depict factory workers in undesirable conditions. The large format photo at the front of the exhibit of the young working children is particularly nice.  Right down to the kid on the right caught digging for gold.

A couple weekends ago while at the museum with the family and my visiting brother-in-law Steve, my oldest son Joey and I stumbled across a series of five Lewis Wickes Hine portraits that we lingered on for awhile.  The subjects were standing proud.  Facing the camera and cropped from about the chest-up. Each were from a different social class. The man in a suit.  The young girls in pretty lace dresses, the older farm hand. The strapping young man.  I turned to my son and said,

“Joey, look at each one of these photographs.  Each one, a person, with a life that’s long since gone.  They had a family, people that loved them, what is their story? They each have one that’s unique.  We can make assumptions of thier stories by the way they’re dressed. Does this man in a suit own his own company?  Did this woman just bake the best blueberry pie? Perhaps this man in overalls works outside on a plow and gets up before the dawn. His skin, weathered from the sun. Does this girl have any sisters? Did she get married? Have a family of her own?  Joey, It’s fascinating. Here we look at them as art, but in reality they were people first. Each of these individuals had others that depended on them. I would love to know their stories.”

Joey responded: “Wow, this guy has a really big nose!! Uncle Steven! Come look at how big this guys nose is!” and he turned to find his uncle.


The Lewis Wickes Hine exhibit is on display until September 8th and the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.  Check it out if you have the time.

The Last Time.

My anxiety filled heart often has me thinking of the strangest of things at the most randomness of times.  Lately I have pondered this thought centered around this premise: “When is the very last time I will hear any one particular song.” A song that I love. A song I have heard, say 500 times. Yet maybe the 501st time would be my last and I wouldn’t realize it.  There will come a day when that song will no longer be a part of my life for no other reason than just because.   For instance, when was the last time you heard a live Oh’ Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding,  The Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry) by Etta James or When I Come Around by Green Day? Have one of these left your listening ears permanently without you realizing it?

What if I’m in the presence of a great song for the last time and don’t realize it? Would I go upon my daily routine unaware? What if I knew it was to be my last listen of the song. Would I, after hearing said song, appreciated it’s complexity, or energy more? Would I stop my busy calendar filled days and listen to all the words that song was speaking to me and be happy to recognize the last time?  Or would I be sad knowing that a great song I once loved to hear is now no longer going to be around.  Would I have been more attentive to the song?  Not taken the song for granted?

Moving forward, my anxiety filled heart and I will make a better effort to always appreciate the music of a song whether heard on the speaks of the bluetooth car, on the ear buds, or live, and treat every listen as my last. This way there are never any regrets.

I know you’ll agree with me.


Now go back to the start of this post, and replace the word “song” for “person” and reread.



Growth In SYTE

Joey Audition

My son auditioned for an ensemble role in the Webster Theatre Guild’s 2014 Summer Youth Theatre Experience (SYTE) production of The Wedding Singer.

In the end of the school year, baseball games, work life and every other commitment hustle and bustle we apparently neglected to tell Joey of the SYTE audition. He found out about the audition yesterday from a friend at school. As a result he had to pick a song today (Read: at 3pm today), and had to get up in front of 15 his peers at 7pm and sing. Yep, quiet, shy, reserved Joey sang Any Dream Will Do, from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Whether he gets a part or not, I was very proud of my son for stepping outside his comfort zone to audition.

I was able to snap a stealth photo of him while on stage. When he sees it I am sure he’ll be mortified. My son amazes me every day. His ability to persevere in situations is remarkable. He was nervous as hell at the audition and while quiet in voice he sang beautiful and nailed it. I think he grew a foot taller today. My heart sure did.

Dogs (A Poem By My Son)

JoeyandMaxWhile cleaning my home office last week I came across a poem written by my son Joey. This was a school project that he did a couple years ago and while it’s about dogs it really translates to any household pet.
He has no idea I found it, held on to it for these last couple years and now decided to share with the world. I guess he’ll realize it someday as he reads through these posts. Maybe he’ll be mortified. Maybe he’ll smile. Who knows? It’s a sweet poem and if you’ve ever seen him interact with our dog Maxwell you’d know it’s spot on.


Dogs are blankets that warm you on a cold day,
They make you feel like you’re never alone,
A dog will follow you with no delay,
And even to the world of the unknown

Dogs want to play and have some fun,
And understand when you are busy,
They wait for you, and when your work is done,
They play with you until you feel dizzy.

Even though our lives may be in distress,
They will always be there to comfort you,
And get rid of all the burdening stress,
So you will not feel nearly as blue.

So all that time,
That you and your dog spend,
Should reinforce that dogs,
Are man’s best friend.

-Joseph Paul Mayernik

10 Things Michael Taught Me

Joe_Michael 1

I have come to realize many things over the last year. One of which is the value of friendship. People tweet, read each other’s blogs, like pictures on Facebook, e-mail, and yet in this age of technological explosion nothing comes close to hearing someone’s voice, looking them in the eye or reading words they scribed on a hand written note received in the mail. The latter I am trying to put into practice more and more.

I know that certain lives bless our own for reasons unbeknownst to us. Some people are meant to be in our lives for a long time. Others only a few short moments, sent by God to enter our lives fleetingly. To serve a purpose, and fill a hole in our soul that it needs. Whether it’s negative or positive. These are forever friends, and I know you have some too. But sometimes the realities of life, and how frail it can be, force us apart. I make a point to try to hold on to these friends the best I can. Life is too short not to be with the ones who make me happy. Michael was one such individual.

My friend and brother died three months ago from complications of Cancer.

IMG_7514Even now it’s hard to write these words.  It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Michael was one of the most positive people I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming in contact with. I cherished the time we had together, We sang, played golf, cards and debated major life questions together.  When I think back at all the time we spent in each others company, I’m filled with so much love and great sadness.  At his memorial service at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, I sang with the choir. I was the cantor for the mass while his older sister Peggy played piano. I sang God’s Own Fool, a song we used to sing in harmony together, during the Offertory.

Nothing really prepares you for that moment. Nothing.

Michael was positive to the very end.  He was surrounded with family and love.  The day before his memorial service we spent some time at my older brother Daniel’s home and reminisced about Michael and how he touched our lives.  Michael and I also sang at Daniel and Linda’s wedding in 1995.  We watched their wedding video, of which we were both singing, and we marveled at younger days. That video made us all smile, chuckle, and tear up with happiness. The consensus was clear: We all missed Michael, and 46 is way to young to die.

Friends grow apart by distances of geography, different viewpoints, or life stages. Sometimes they pass on to a higher place. In any case, I try to treasure the moments I spend with them, because I never know when that hole in my soul will be filled, and then the ones I love will move on, whether I want them too or not.

10 things my relationship with Michael taught me.

  1. Walk up and say hello. You just might make a friend.
  2. Use your voice.
  3. Stand up for yourself.
  4. Faith is important.
  5. Service is necessary.
  6. Golf only gets better with practice.
  7. Some country music is worth listening too.
  8. There are no guarantees, even if life gives you a second chance.
  9. Fatherhood is everything.
  10. Your time is the most valuable gift you can give someone you love.