The Washington Buses Roll – Again

Washington TripIn the school district where we live, it’s that time of year.  No, not Halloween stuff.  The Washington buses roll again.  This year 13.0 will be on board the buses this year, as her sister was two years ago.

As was the case two years ago, there’s a fine line to walk between parenting and letting my girl enjoy her three days away with the school.

From a safety perspective – the school has done just about all they can to assure parents (and kids) that the trip will be fun, educational and everyone will come home.  But I think every parent has that little trepidation, right down to the rain in the forecast tomorrow as the buses pull out of the school parking lot just after 530 in the morning.

This rite of passage starts tonight with luggage drop off.  Once that’s done, we’ll get up bright and early tomorrow morning and head to the school.  13.0 will have breakfast, lunch and snacks at the ready – and I’ll watched the Washington buses roll again.  In the end, it’s a great experience for all of us (even 15.5).

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My Moment of Zen

My moment of zenWith apologies to John Stewart, I will steal his line and talk about a realization I made Friday, and the more I think about it the more accurate it is about my life and the way I approach it.  My moment of zen came at my bi-weekly therapy session before this weekend, but the reality that I am a closet buddhist probably should not be a shock.

I would not pretend to say I am well read on the ways of the Buddhist’s life, but I know enough to be dangerous.

There are four noble truths, the last of which leads eight fold path.


  1. Suffering exists:  To me this is understanding that life is not all about fun and enjoyment.  We all suffer – from loss to pain to worry, we suffer.  What we do with that suffering and how we learn from it are the keys.
  2. Suffering arises from the attachment to desires:  when we expect others to simply conform to our expectation we’ll suffer.  Simply, I try to enjoy what I have now and the moment I am in.  I don’t want to look around or backwards and try to recapture or gain what I don’t have.  Getting what you want is not a guarantee of happiness.
  3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases:  This is not to say we should never have desires, and we’ll never be happy.  Instead, by living each day in that moment and not dwelling in the past, in the future or on what we don’t have we can become happy.
  4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path:  The eight fold path is being moral through what we say and do in our lives – and focusing the mind on being aware of actions.  If we can learn from our lives and suffering, we can develop compassion for others.

I admit now, I looked up the four noble truths and the eight fold path, and have been doing some reading off and on about Buddhism.

What my moment of zen didn’t teach me though is that solutions to our problems come from within ourselves and not from outside forces or reliance on other people.  We all have to decide for ourselves how to accept responsibilities for our actions and understandings.

Maybe I am a closet Buddhist.  Maybe I’m a realist.  I’m not really sure, but I know enough to understand that we own our lives and have to be willing to take responsibility for them.  I hope if my kids learn nothing else from me, they learn that they will need to be able to look within to conquer life.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even share my moment of zen with them.


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Living In A Seinfeld Moment

Seinfeld MomentsSeinfeld was a show about nothing.  Sometimes though when life – which isn’t about nothing – imitates the art of the show of nothing, we live through those Seinfeld moments.

Anyone in their mid to late 40’s can probably recite almost every episode of Seinfeld – certainly we’ve seen them all.  Sometimes though, life gives you Seinfeld moments.  Then there are days you get them back-to-back which as Yogi Berra said can give you deja vu all over again.

First case study is 12.0 and her current reading project for English.  They are working on mysteries in class and she’s reading a Sherlock Holmes story.  Now we’re trying to solve a mystery of just where the book went.  She took the book with her when we went skiing (I was sure she was never going to read it, but I let the pretense go).  What I didn’t count on was her losing the book.  Its final destination is somewhere between our house and Lanesboro, MA – destination truly unknown.

So, as of now I’m on the hook for replacing the book for the school library.

For quick replacement of the missing book, we went down to our public library to borrow the book – only to find out she is three-year’s overdue for a book there. 12.0 had a great solution to the problem, I can go buy her a Kindle and she won’t lose any more books – of course keeping track of the Kindle would be a different story.  But notification of the three year overdue book at the library launched my first Seinfeld moment.

My mind automatically goes to Seinfeld and flash back to the episode Lt. Joe Bookman confronts Jerry about the book Tropic of Cancer he checked out of the library in 1971.

“Let me tell you something, funny boy… You know that little stamp? The one that says New York Public Library? Well, that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole helluva lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before — flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… Why’s this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me…. Maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world. What about that kid, sitting down, opening a book right now in a branch of the local library and finding pictures of pee-pees and wee-wees in The Cat in the Hat and The Five Chinese Brothers. Doesn’t he deserve better? Look, if you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped. Or maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld… Maybe that’s how you get your kicks… You and your goodtime buddies… I’ve got a flash for you, joy boy. Partytime is over.”– Lt. Bookman, in “The Library”

So now I’m trying not to laugh as the librarian is telling me we’ve racked up three years of over-due fees or can pay for the book ($5.99)  All I can hear is Phillip Baker Hall’s voice channeling his Bookman character:

The next case came after dinner when14.5 decided to use an episode of Seinfeld to complete an assignment on camera angles for her English class – where they are doing some film study work.  As I sent the girls upstairs to take showers, and settled in to relax and catch up with life outside work, she came downstairs, and turned on Seinfeld – and  I was now explaining Seinfeld.  The episode was the one where the gang heads to East Hampton and they see George’s girlfriend topless and George serves lobster to Jerry’s Jewish girlfriend who keeps kosher.

There are so many Seinfeld moments that come up in everyday life.  Marble rye in the bakery,  we’re just days away from Festivus – but living the Seinfeld moments is a little surreal.  So maybe we can all air our grievances  – or perhaps just have a cinnamon babka. The moments keep on coming – not imagined, and sometimes they’re even beyond being about nothing.

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Hmmm The Human Moments

Things That Make You Go HmmmThere are moments, and often they are the ones we hope don’t happen, where we can take a step back and say,”Yeah, we’re human.”  You can scratch your head, rub your chin, let out a, “hmmm,” but then off you go back into life again.

I’m pretty sure I had one of those moments last night.  In this case it was probably a few weeks if not longer coming and its a chance to take a step back and realize where you’re at what you’re doing and just go, “hmmm.”

Download Dad the Single Guy’s book “The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning” now

While there are hurt feelings for sure and the never-ending string of self-questioning what if’s and could it have been different at the end of the day, it’s a human moment.

So as I was driving along last night through a light snow the Queen song “We Are The Champions” came on, the line, “And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few” resonated a little louder than the rest of the song.  Yeah, I’m half culpable.  But as my mom used to say when two of three of us got into a fight, “It takes two to tango.”

And in this human moment, two people with caring in their hearts and even love on their minds manage to have a human moment.  That’s OK.  It’s a chance to scratch your head, rub your chin and let out an audible, “hmm.”

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Say Yes!

In less than five minutes this morning, I had to think I truly missed my calling in life.  I was up and out bright and early for a run and then did some biking (a blog for another day).  Back home all sweaty I hit the shower.  As I was drying off I turned on the TV in my room which was on the channel I was watching last night before falling asleep.

Of all the shows and people I was subjected to five minutes or so of Joel Osteen-televangilst.  According to his Wiki, Joel is the senior pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston.  His message today was what he called “You said.”

So now some quick background before I launch too deep into the “You said,” line.  I have a strained at best relationship with religion.  During the years we lived in Dallas I did a lot of work as a producer for the local station and the network on televangelist and their ministries.  I spent a lot of time looking through the filings and business practices of Bennie Hinn.  I even did an ambush interview with him one day in an airport in Iowa.

Back to this morning. There was Joel Osteen, who frankly I know nothing about other the what I’ve read on his website and on his Wiki, telling a packed audience-the size of Madison Square Garden or larger-about the benefits of taking a negative and, “telling God a ‘you said.'”  When a follower told Joel her marriage of 17 years was ending, his advice was to go to God and say, “You said if I stay strong I will survive.”  When an audience member told of his mother with cancer, Joel said, “Go to God and tell him ‘You said tomorrow will be brighter day’.”

So I am left thinking, without the reference to God (I just don’t do that), it’s kind of the philosophy and advice I’ve been offering and living for more than 10 years.  Drop the “you said” and go with trying to find the brighter side, trying to see the end game and not just the moment in time that seems overwhelming.

As I learned many years ago, there’s a lot of money and comfort in the business of being a televangelist.  Hell, just take a look at Joel Osteen’s website, everything is up for sale.  I am imagining just half the people in the audience on television this morning bought a single DVD at $15 a pop.  That’s more than a quarter of a billion dollars gross.  All for espousing with a little charisma life.

Say Yes my brothers and sisters…say yes.

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