Tire Swing

There’s a lyric to my favorite song which I thought really did capture who I was.

“If I stay in one place I lose my mind. I’m a pretty impossible lady to be with.”

Tire Swing – Kimya Dawson


Usually, when there is a problem I look inward to see what of my failings caused this issue. Because I do know I am a hard person to live with.

Though this situation – your complete ambivalence to your family is not of my making. These are your choices and your failings. Not mine. I taught you better. I showed you better. And yet, you *choose* to be less.

We had a talk about this when you decided the most important person in the house was yourself at 12:30 am on a week day. I recall specifically that I said your actions speak louder than your words. And that if you didn’t like the rule we had in this house you could do as your peers at the age of 20 and move out on your own.

That was an invitation that you chose not to accept, thereby communicating that you were willing to abide by the house rules. Which you have set out to break at least one more time since the brouhaha over the breadwinners need for sleep.

So here we are again but this time it is a brouhaha over being a decent fucking human being with a kind enough heart to make a person’s birthday not about you.

Tell me again why you want to be a teacher?

Because I have lost all point of why. I know most teachers to be kind, generous, models of upstanding behavior. They are not selfish. They’re not stingy. And they don’t hold petty grudges because of some past hurt they experienced by people decades ago. Just because you were bullied does not give you license to be a bully or to shut out any shred of kindness to your family or a fellow human being.

When you become a teacher, you not only teach the subject, but also you parent. Like it or not. These kids are now your kids too. You are teaching them the subject matter, but also life’s little lessons. The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” is entirely accurate. You are part of the village, my boy.

You influence the children you teach by your behavior. If you are rude to them, you teach them it is okay to be rude to others. If you are kind and generous, you show them it is model behavior. You get what you give. You become a people maker.

Your influence is power. Regardless if you think you are making an impression you are. And believe me, there will be kids who will try your patience and test your commitment to the job. They will be awful – mind bogglingly so. It will leave you wondering what kind of parents allow this kid to behave in this manner. And it will be your challenge to teach this child, through your persistent influence how to do and be better.

Which leads me to my question, how is it that I am recognized as an influence in your work ethic but none of my attention to kind acts and traditions over holidays and birthdays have made any impression at all?

How is that possible? Why is that possible?

Look deep within for the answer, what choices have you made to lead you to ignore or abandon that influence. If you begin to answer by pointing a finger at someone else then start over with your internal inventory. Dig deeper.

Asking yourself:

What kind of person fails to remember a birthday of a loved one?
Is that person so self involved that they cannot celebrate the fact that the human who contributed in giving them life should have a special day commemorating their trip around the sun?

Even if the birthday boy/girl is mean, does that justify those around them to be mean as well? Or can they rise above and be a better person and show an element of kindness which grows past the hurt and resentment?

There is a larger lesson here and I need to stress it. You inability to show kindness will eventually shut you out of opportunities for love, a sense of belonging and feeling fulfilled. It will be a long road of loneliness, resentments and bitterness. The more people you hurt, the more alone you will become in this world and it will only be by your actions and yours alone.

I thought I would never have to whip this one out of my arsenal of things to try to snap you out of it but here goes, courtesy of my grandmother, Mimi:

I may have to love you, but I don’t have to like you.

If your knee jerk response is “I know, and I don’t have to care.”
I can show how to pack your bags and you can show yourself out. Leave the keys on the table when you go.

Check it before you wreck it

My father is Mexican, full on bate, bate chocolate. My mother, as euro white as it gets.

Your Father’s father is so German he may be 100% and your father’s mother like my mother, totally euro white. Their ancestry may put their families on the mayflower together for all we know. I’m still researching.

Rolling the gene dice you got a percentage more of the white dna than Hispanic and you were certainly raised not ever knowing what struggle really is.

Never did I think I would ever hear rolling out your mouth the very sentiments that will get you fired one day, alienate you from social opportunities and actually cause me to challenge the unconditional nature of my love for you.

You should and always remain humbled and contrite over your ancestral history. I cannot prove that any of our direct ancestors were slave owners, and it’s not the point.

Centuries of oppression from the overt to the now mix of both overt and passive push opportunities in your favor just because of racism. Inherent in the system.

You are considered white even though I know there’s a fraction of your dna that rocks sombreros, craves Abuelita hot chocolate and a good street taco.

To me you are off white, maybe like a vanilla creme or warm eggshell. Though others will take one look at you and tick the box “white”. And with that you carry the shame of how the whites treated people of color. Fuck! You even carry the shame of how some current whites are treating people of color.

You need to own that history and prove daily you are not your history nor are you part of the lot that want to bring that all back. I did not raise you to carry a chip on your shoulder and claim you suffer from reverse treatment.

Because, you don’t!

You were never denied water, or a seat in a movie theater, bus or restaurant because you are white.

You will not be passed over for an in person interview because your voice sounds too white.

You will not be told that the apartment was taken when you call about vacancies.

You will not be pulled over by a cop and your vehicle searched and asked for proof of citizenship because you look foreign or like the perp they’ve been hunting.

You will not be told you cannot wear hoodies when you go out or turned away at a store just because you wear a hoodie.

You won’t be followed subtly by store personnel while you shop. In fact you won’t have to dress “rich” in order to get treated with respect in a store.

Guess what buttercup? Because you have a penis you also carry the sins of the rapists wife beaters and sexual harassers who share your same gender. And you’re gonna shout to the heavens, “But I’m not like that!”

They don’t know that. You’ve got to live your values.

This country is wounded by the shitty things that those before us did. It is a wound like that burn on my hand it won’t ever heal fully. It may fade but it is always there. You accept its now a part of your history and vow to never re-injure that area again.

You do better.

You be better.

And for fuck’s sake you don’t bitch about it. Because you have no valid argument.

On Superficiality and Excuses

I think it was my mom who said, “Do you know what people find most attractive? Self confidence.”

It might have been my grandmother who said it. It has been so long ago. But at the time, I was a gawky, albeit chubby, bookish nerd with self-esteem issues surrounding my height, lack of beauty, and physical maturity; so what was said was like the muted trumpets in a Peanuts cartoon.

When I hear you go on about how women will not find you attractive because you are not the “ideal” height, I think back on that statement said so many decades ago and hold my tongue. Because I know if I deliver that same line, you are going to brush it off as I did when it was delivered to me.

Though in my years of experience, it is true. Those exuding confidence, really, are the ones toward which other flock.

One has to be truly happy in their own skin before accepting the affections of another. (Like a happily put “take me or leave me, I can manage on my own” mentality.) If you are not there and are still fixated on comparisons with others who have qualities you feel you lack, do not expect to embark on a successful relationship.

Your superficial hangups will get in the way.

But please do not confuse confidence with arrogance. No one likes an arrogant cunt. You can be confident in yourself as in: how you look, your sense of style, personal values, etc., but the moment you begin to feel superiority over others, that’s when it turns into arrogance. And it is a put off.

I saw a meme this weekend that stated in so many words “Whether you know it or not, someone out there secretly finds you attractive.”

Another truth. It could be someone you work with who cannot muster the courage to let it be known. Or maybe someone at school who are letting you know in such subtle ways that you are oblivious to it.

Sure, on the surface, that meme sentiment seems stalky and creepy; but understand, people do have secret crushes that either they keep secret due to pride, insecurity or straight out fear of rejection.

A friend of mine told me that back in college there were a number of young men in my life who held a torch for me and I was not aware. My reaction was exasperation. I wanted to find romance and a good relationship but none of them said a word. Though I reckon if they had I might never have met your father and you wouldn’t be here.

So there’s that.

Remember this: Miss Right May not be right now.

Keep that always in the back of your mind even when the infatuation is high and finally reciprocated — she still may not be the one.

On Adaptability

One of my favorite shows of all time was a short lived series on NBC entitled “The Pretender”. To give you a synopsis of the series, a young man who had been held captive since childhood for his savant-like genius is on the run from his captors and uses his natural abilities to quickly learn new skillsets in order to impersonate any profession so that he may assimilate into the current location without raising any suspicion. It was based on a real life serial imposter – Ferdinand Waldo Demara.

I think what made this a favorite series for me was the fact that the character, Jarod, demonstrated that one could be anything if they took the time to invest in learning. He adapted in order to stay on the run and in hiding.

This goes back to my grandmother’s tenet –
“You do what you have to do to survive.”

I cannot stress that enough. Adaptability is key to making it in this world. I know full well that routine is comfortable. Maybe even preferred. However, change is all around us; some predictable – others unpredictable.

In the years I have been put on this earth I have learned a variety of skills:

  • Teaching
  • Psychology – Experimental Design and Counseling
  • Visual Arts – (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Silkscreen, Ceramics, Sculpture, Glasswork)
  • Art History
  • Art Framing – Gallery work
  • Basic Food preservation – jams, marmalades and jellies
  • Textile Arts – (Crochet, Knitting, Basic needlework, felting)
  • Software Testing and Programming
  • Database administration
  • Basic Plumbing Home repair
  • Cooking/Baking
  • Household upkeep skills
  • CPR and First Aid
  • Basic conversational Spanish
  • Website building – HTML Markup
  • Sight reading music – Percussion
  • Gardening

Overall, it seems like a short list for my 52 years compared to what Jarod achieves in just 4 seasons of the show. But the point is: If we give the time, we can learn and master a number of skills to the point of becoming what my High School English teacher referred to as a “true renaissance man/woman”. This is one who has amassed knowledge in a variety of skills for practical application – they are highly adaptable to any challenge. They can pick up a new skill with ease.

These are the people who survive, those who can do anything. They see learning as a vehicle toward problem solving or keeping mobile.

I think you said to me once that you will eventually “learn to cook” via youtube. I reckon you have to have your back pressed against the wall in order to get there. But know that curiosity, in addition to interest and necessity, is key to ongoing learning.

Be nosey, ask questions, find out why. Don’t accept the current situation as is and believe you have no influence in the path or outcome of the situation.

Sharp Dresser

This month I took your father out to get him properly attired for events. He had gained weight and no longer fit into the one suit he owned since high school.

Read that last bit again.

Yeah. So I want to impart on you a rule that was imparted on me regarding staples in your wardrobe.

At the very least, while you are on a fixed budget, you should have what I call the interview, funeral, wedding suit. It works triple duty. It should include 1 power tie, 1 soft casual tie (pale/patterned in nature) and 1 dark tie. You should have two button down dress shirts for this suit. One white dress shirt and one of a pale/pastel color (gray, peach, ivory, blue) but whatever that pale color, it should coordinate with the casual tie and/pr dark tie.

When you get established, then you should expand your wardrobe to have a warm triple duty suit and a cool triple duty suit. (one for summer with lighter fabrics and one for winter with heavier fabric)

And you should then expand your wardrobe staples to have one sport coat. One that goes with jeans/khakis. Again, as you become more established, you will want a summer one and a winter one (winter == tweed/herringbone).

All the while, you should be frequently trying on said suiting to be sure they still fit you. If they do not, you should replenish/replace pieces as needed. Never get caught having to run out and buy whatever in haste. Bad decisions are made in a rush.

And expect this shopping to take hours with a tailor. Because well-made men’s suiting is not finished and ready to wear. It has to be tailored to your body and finished. If you buy ready to wear, expect it to wear out and be ill fitting. Take the time to get a good suit.

You are your father’s son and I hope you have his metabolism and not mine. If you have his you should be able to keep a suit for years without replacement. However if you follow me, you will need to restock/replace often due to the various weight fluctuations. Be mindful.

I know in the grand scheme of things this is the furthest from your mind; but it’s the little things I will want to mention to you before I am gone.

Fully Vetted Mates

We all think we are good judges of character. But as the reporters of Dateline would prove, it’s just not necessarily so.

The person in which you invest your time, affection, loyalty and devotion should be a person you fully trust. Their family – you would fully trust. The people with whom they keep company – you would fully trust.

I learned of a young man who is about to get married to a woman who, from all observations, should have given him enough red flags to never propose. Walking into an already established family when never having one is hard. but then top that off with a mountain of debt, and a family history of murder/suicide…

Walk away, brother, walk away. You do not want to be the highlight of next season’s Keith Morrison narrated, edge-of-your seat episode.

You’ve spoken that you have not found “the one” and there is a hint of bitterness laced in that statement. That you may never, because of your height. Though I am here to say that you will find the one at some point in your life, and now is far too soon.

You are too young to get married. You have yet to live. I mean really live. So I want you to really take an inventory of what you would be able to live with and what is definitely a hard pass. What would motivate you to walk away and never look back.

I’ll give some topics for consideration

Will you want to live the rest of your life with someone who

  • Is disliked by everyone you know? (They cannot get along with anyone you care about)
  • Is a hoarder
  • Is involved in or has/had committed a crime for which they served jail time.
  • Has killed a person or believes killing a person is a justifiable way to solve a conflict.
  • Talks down to you as if you are incompetent, childish or unable to think for yourself?
  • Berates your way of doing things
  • Controls with whom you speak/associate to due to insecurity and jealousy
  • Cannot take care of themselves due to a psychological or addictive reason.
  • Is constantly in debt or behind in their bills.
  • Has little to no respect for your belongings
  • Is unkind to animals or children.
  • Is racist.
  • Is fanatical about a belief you cannot accept.
  • Maintains the idea of marriage equates to a 1940’s role of man == provider and partner == dependent.
  • Uses physical aggression in an argument.
  • Cannot or refuses to share in the household duties
  • Has a history of cheating on their partner

Of course, there are more picayune reasons to walk away from a relationship; but really, the above should always be deal breakers. Do not let someone manipulate you with some challenge to your resolve/ethics or self esteem.

If someone plays into a weakness of yours to manipulate you to a proposal – like a fear of being alone and delivers an ultimatum such as,

“I expect a proposal by <insert timeframe here> or we are through!”

Your response had better be, “Thank you for the notice, we are indeed through.”

Additionally, just because your friends are marrying all around you and starting their families, this is not a competition or a race. Your life’s path is yours and there is no falling behind or getting ahead. Do not let others’ expectations dictate when you should find a life partner. You may end up settling with someone who is simply not the person you are best suited experience the rest of your life.

Be choosy. You deserve the best.

Power Trips

I know that you haven’t had a ton of experience dating but alas, I worry. I worry for the hurt you might experience at the hands of a master manipulator, a predatory user, or simply a narcissistic psychopath. A wolf in sheep’s clothing as it were.

Some folks are kind and sweet upon first meeting, or just mysterious enough that their true nature is withheld. You may not see it until much much later, or maybe after a significant challenge to your relationship that reveals it. I can describe all the ways a person could turn out to be the worst possible excuse for a human being but this post is about the aftermath, the recovery in the event you sever the bond.

For your health and heart, when you discover you are in such a relationship and the hurt is beyond what any reasonable person should bear. You must break it off. Don’t look ahead and try to preserve it just because you fear being alone or you think it is mendable.

Once a person hurts you, it is what you do in that moment that defines the relationship. If you stay with them after being hurt repeatedly; you are effectively giving them the power to do it over and over again. The strength of knowing when to leave is the challenge.

You’re going to second guess your choice, because the hurt may cut so deep it feels never-ending. Reconciling with that person may seem like the panacea for this pain, but then you are saying to them “What you did to me that caused our breakup is allowable from this point forward.”

I recommend you walk away and do not look back. It is tempting to look back – to see if they are hurting as much as you are. That’s a torture you should never inflict upon yourself. It will spark outrage, more pain and hurt, immense sadness for your own situation and incite an obsession over them and why they are faring well and you are not.

No matter how they play it, if they reach out you do not respond. If you open a door a crack they’re going to push on through to deliver more of a hurt than before. They may have others reach out to you to taunt and bait you – picking at an open wound that is not theirs to pick. Seriously there are some sick people out there.

Sadists.

If you show weakness or sadness and it gets back to them, they use it. You keep your healing private. I know you’re not a social media user but you may have mutual friends and it will matter with whom you confide. Yes, confide in close friends of your feelings but only the ones you truly trust and will not allow your status to get back to your ex.

Some things I need you to do on a breakup, which helps the healing process:

  1. Block them from contacting you – block their number, their ability to email you.
  2. Remove all reminders of them (pictures, notes, gifts) for the time being. This may mean a donation to a charity shop or just putting things in storage but get it out and away from reminding you.
  3. Do not listen to the music that reminds you of a moment with them (either positive or negative)
  4. Do not watch programmes or films which may immediately remind you of moments with them. (this is not forever, just until the association is distant enough)
  5. If there are still belongings of theirs in your possession place them in a box and drop it with a mutual friend or if the break is exceptionally bad, leave it out on the street and tell the mutual friend to inform the ex to get it before others do.
  6. Do not – I repeat – Do Not ever expect closure. Do not try to maneuver for an apology. Just be okay with never getting closure or an acknowledgement of their transgression and any sort of remorse on their part. It will not happen.
  7. Get involved in new activities & change your routines to get you away from common haunts which could allow you to run into them.
  8. Find ways toward understanding what you need and what makes you happy. Invest in yourself. Go on a trip, take a class to learn a new skill, pamper yourself. Be with supportive and loving people.
  9. Give your time to a charitable cause to make life better for others. See my prior post to you on healing your heart.

And lastly, build your confidence up to find your inner peace before embarking on a new relationship. Rebound relationships do not really help. Give yourself at least a year to really recover from a bad break before getting back out there.