A Birthday Note For Sweets

RebekahRebekah is 15 today.

My Sweets.

The girl who started out at 5-lbs, 6-oz is now 5’6″ tall. She’s bright, smart, different, compassionate and loves to smile.  But I’m her Father, and am expected too say those things. (the picture to the left is from 2005)

On Friday she received a card from one of her girl friends from school and so that anonymity is preserved I will not name names.  However.  This was the writing on the inside:

Dear Rebekah,

You’re probably wondering why I’m giving your b-day card 2 days early, well silly I can’t give you your card Sunday. :)

Happy Happy 15th b-day beautiful!!  You are an amazing best friend, and sister.  I feel so happy talking to you.  Your beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  :) I’ll always be here for you even when times are tough! :) You’re an amazing singer. We really should hang out soon!! :) Even when times get tough, no matter how big or small the problem, I’ll be there for you to infinity and beyond. <3 You’re amazing at so many things but my fav is just being yourself. :)

If I hadn’t met you back in elementary school, I’d probably be a weird girl with no friends. You gave me a sense of hope, love and always told me never to give up! :) I’m so glad you’re my sister. :) The two of us can be weird together but that’s okay because we don’t care what people think.

<3 ya more than this whole world!! :)

xoxo

Happy Birthday Sweets.  You are indeed a very special girl, and you are loved.

18 Years, and Counting

FullSizeRender

12-28-14

Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage with my wife Julie. 18 years of memories:

In 1996, we made a promise

In 1997, we were blessed with the best gift we never knew we wanted. Joseph Paul

In 1998, I graduated from CCS, Julie was changing lives

In 1999, we took a chance and moved to Atlanta, GA

In 2000, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little girl we named Rebekah Louise

In 2001, we took a chance and moved to the state of New York

In 2002, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little boy we named Aaron John

In 2003, we were regulars at the Strong National Museum of Play

In 2004, we cultivated our garden

In 2005, we spent many days in Maryland with Joanne

In 2006, we saw RENT in NYC

In 2007, we welcomed my brother and his family to spend Christmas in NY

In 2008, we traveled to OZ

In 2009, we saw my mother get remarried

In 2010, we spent lots of time in Disney thanks to our generous parents

In 2011, we bought a home

In 2012, we took a chance to forge our own path with Brandtatorship

In 2013, we left the country to celebrate a retirement (read: freedom)

In 2014, we started the college tours for the best gift we never knew we wanted

In 2015…

 

Dewbriety

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.

#dewbriety

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.

…sigh…

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.