Tag Archives: dreams

Defining Moments

You can choose what defines you, or you can let others define you.

In the end, though, they’ll make up their own definitions, I suppose, it’s whether or not you choose to believe what they say or whether you’re aware of your own self.

Now, this isn’t some sort of Nietzsche break in blogging here.  I don’t read Freud’s papers and I don’t practice self-psychoanalysis.

do have an idea of what got me where I am.

Shooting Blackhawks loading cargo
Shooting Blackhawks loading cargo

I’ve had discussions, with a number of people, about what got me to the person I am.  The idea by some that you are set in your personality and your life by the age of . . . what? . . . twenty-five? . . . that’s just bunk in my mind.  I’m not even close to the person I was at that age.  I’m not close to the person I was at 40, either.  I’m a different person and I’ve changed.

The core of my personality, the person I am, was always there, sure, but there were a myriad of things in the way for years.

When I was a kid, 25 years ago, graduating high-school and moving to live on my own (or what I thought was on my own, let’s face it, most college kids are still tethered to home whether they think they aren’t or not!) the core was there, but buried, deep.  I was an immature, angry, knucklehead.  That’s true.  I’ve heard people contradict me or say that everyone at 18/19 is that way.  Maybe.  I see it as a sign of growth that I recognize what an idiot I was.

I was so determined to leave my hometown, staying connected just to my family if I could, and make my way as an angry, bitter kid who was going to make a mark that I didn’t pay attention to my own actions.  Still, that anger and drive and self-centered bitterness pushed me to do things, saying “I’ll show them!”  I don’t know who “them” was and I’m not sure I knew then who “them” were . . . but I was going to do it.  In a year I’d learned the guitar, at least most basics of it, and had joined a band.  I worked at a television station.  I was covering violent crimes and chasing accidents and all the things news involved.


I met an amazing woman who was a friend, first, after we realized we both knew someone from my hometown.  It was a connection I was glad wasn’t severed, and this amazing woman eventually decided it was worth going out with me.  She pushed me . . . not gently . . . to be more.  Not more of a journalist or a writer or a musician.  She barely tolerated the musician part and didn’t want to make me into Edward R. Murrow.  From today’s view I can see she was pushing me to be more successful, but in the process she brought out the person I’d always been.  Buried under the anger and worry and fear and lack of confidence was that guy . . . the one who sort of liked looking better than the long-hair and horrible mullet that the ’90s cover band had pushed him to get.  He liked being a musician but liked making a difference in his job.  He liked that this beautiful woman didn’t see all the ridiculous things and saw the core.  He’d walked so long with blinders on he hadn’t realized others saw it, too, he just hadn’t noticed it and now it bothered him.

I was defined by what I would do to help my family succeed.  I delivered newspapers at 2am so that the woman I married could go back to school.  I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep a day.  I gigged and played so that I could feed her and our baby girl, who had such horrible gastric problems she needed special formula.

When Andrea died, I changed, but also became self-aware.  I noticed that I had come full-circle.  I wasn’t angry, grumpy (much) or the like.  I’d delved farther into myself and realized that I had always been there.  I could have faltered or I could take care of the four kids in front of me.  I took care of them.  Did I want to quit everything and be a musician early in my life?  Yes.  Could I?  No, and my eyes now see if I’d done this at 20 or 21 I’d have failed, miserably.  Today . . . I do what I can musically but enjoy what I do.

Abbi with her uncle, seeing her Dad, the musician
Abbi with her uncle, seeing her Dad, the musician

I have had the discussion with my daughter: it ended up that I was never trying to show anyone else up.  I was proving to myself that I was worth doing this.  When major events broke I was dying if I wasn’t there – and I missed a lot of them.  Abbi told me the other day she just feels sometimes like she’s meant for bigger things, for doing more and leaving something behind.  I totally understand that feeling.  Her brother, Noah, asked me one day what I wanted to do when I was a kid.

“Make movies,” I told him.  “I wanted to be a director or cinematographer and tell stories.”
Noah thought a moment and looked at me: “but you kind of do that,” he told me.  “You tell small stories, but they’re real ones.  So . . . you sort of are doing what you wanted to do as a kid!”

He was right.  I never realized that I’m making an impact, be it small, but I’m telling stories.  I’m making music . . . and the defining moments, the ones where you accept the help of others, see the real person under the layers of muck you’ve buried yourself under, are the ones that count.

It’s also when you realize that you’ve defined . . . and re-defined yourself . . . and you see that it’s been for the better, even when the world has handed you the worst.

Fairy Tales and Wishes that Can’t Come True

In the early 20th Cent. 2 girls took photos of fairies that got Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini himself investigating

Dreams by The Allman Brothers Band from the Dreams Box Set

If this post seems a bit disjointed it’s because I barely got to the bedroom and logged on the computer tonight.  It amazes me the punishment the human body can seem to take, particularly when you are determined to push it to its limits.  Not that I’m an amazing specimen of the human condition, I need to lose weight, gain muscle and eat better.  But having taken several sick days to care for my children as they got sick and less than a week into the ratings period I cannot in good conscience call in sick.

So here I sit tonight, after working my 8 hours, going to the grocery store, cooking dinner, making brownies for lunch and I was about to pass out.  You see, I have the flu as well.  Got the Tamiflu doses at the doctor and tried to stave it off, but when you are stumbling along like I was your day gets a bit dizzying.

Between Abbi’s play and the shows on the television, we’ve had a lot of fanciful tales swirling around us lately.  At one point during the night we had some cartoons on and it involved – of course – a fairy offering wishes to the protagonist.  3 wishes, of course, is the norm, something that the 3 youngest kids were oh so eager to embrace and believe.  Even Hannah, the 12 year old, had that starry-eyed look.  Hannah, you see, is just starting to move from watching “Transformers” to thinking “27 Dresses” is her favorite movie.  (Don’t ask me, I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy and couldn’t tell you a single thing about the movie other than “Benny and the Jets” plays a prominent role)

But at this point they had a discussion about what they’d wish for.  There was the typical boy stuff, “A million dollars!”; “A new bike”; all that seemed to come out of their mouths.  But Hannah spouted out what I was waiting to happen.

“I would wish for Mom.”

And there it was.  Like the song up there says, it would be amazing to see what would happen, hungering for the dreams we never see.  I wasn’t angry, I’d have wished it too, I suppose, if they’d said “hey, 3 wishes, no waiting,” but there’d have to be stipulations, too.  I mean, it’s been 10 months, and 10 months of hell.  It really has.  We’re just now hitting our stride.

And here’s where I’m going to come out with one of those “stages of grief” that everyone talks about, but realistically, it’s been on my mind since last year, since the day after she died.

She left us.

I mean, I miss her more than anything in the world and I would never, ever give up the chance to see her just a minute more, to kiss her again, to tell her I loved her as many times as I could before she left again . . . but there’s also the fact that she’s gone and we’re here left to pick up the pieces of the life that shattered apart.  Say what you want about how well we’re doing or how wonderful my kids are and how amazing things have worked out – and all that is true – it doesn’t change the fact that starting on March 26th all five of us stood there with the world in a blurry swirl moving around us looking at the pieces of our lives scattered around us.

The kids miss what Andrea gave them.  They miss their Mom, the kindness, the softness, the whole thing.  It’s so easy to push all the negative things aside because you really don’t ever want to think about those anymore.  The bad things, the annoying habits, all those were part and parcel with the person you loved.  If you can’t live with those you’re not really in love.  You love someone because you think those little things are cute or because they’re part of what make them who they are.  If you can’t accept them you really aren’t in love.

But the stress, medical bills, college loans, tuition costs, mortgage overdue, car payment, uniforms, hell everything down to breakfast, laundry and housecleaning.  All those fall on my shoulders – our shoulders.

I sound mean, flippant, angry even, but she left me here to deal with the shattered pieces and not enough glue to put them back together.  She doesn’t have to deal with the flu and fevers and the school calling and Hannah not turning in her homework.  She doesn’t get to see the amazing picture of a cat Noah drew at school today.  She doesn’t get to see Abbi in her play looking just like her mother.  And her children don’t get to share that with her.  On some level, sure, she’s seeing this, I hope, I pray.  But the physical, emotional bond that makes a parent tear up when they see their child succeed . . . Abbi only gets that from one person now.  So do the others.  It’s not just that Andrea doesn’t get to see what her kids are doing, my kids don’t get to share this with their Mom, and that’s the sad part.

I get angry sometimes because I needed her.  I needed her this last week.  I needed her when Hannah got her period for the first time.  I needed her when Noah hit a kindergartner at school and got in trouble.  I am angry because where I just needed that person – the one human being who understood me above all others – the most, when I needed her hands on my back holding me up so I didn’t fall off that pedestal my children had placed me on, she wasn’t there.

I also hate the fact that I’m mad at her.  I love her too much to hold that anger more than flashes at a time.  Still, when Hannah looks at that fairy and says she wants her Mom, there’s that part of me that agrees . . . and there’s that part of me that thinks she needed to fight just a little harder to deserve that chance.

And I hate myself for thinking it.  Because I do hunger for the dreams I’ll never see.