Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tis The Season To Cope

The glass is half full. The glass is half full. The glass is half full. I keep telling myself that the glass is half full. But in telling myself this I feel like what I imagine Kevin Bacon must have felt during the post parade melee in Animal House; telling everyone that everything is fine and that there is no need to panic while on the verge of tossing his lunch ...the glass is half full indeed.

Yes...this is the season for coping....however it has been helpful to hang out with certain friends who, despite difficult circumstances, have been able to maintain a sunny disposition. I have one friend, who despite being unemployed for more than a year and having three small children living with her in a two bedroom apartment, is optimistic and has been able to look on the bright side of her experiences during the last year. She copes by exercising daily and by starting the day off by going to Mass. She tells me that her faith has sustained her and has helped her cope through this difficult time. She asked me what I do to cope...I told her...ice cream...lots and lots of ice cream.

I knew this was going to be a challenging weekend...between Christmas, a family gathering, and because yesterday was yesterday on Thursday I stocked up on ice cream...3 gallons worth. I polished off the last box at 12:30 this morning. By my estimate I have gone through about 7 gallons of ice cream in the last two weeks. This over indulgence in my favorite treat has led to the discovery that a diet based on ice cream and coffee can lead to weight loss....its amazing but true.

Ice cream cannot be the basis of any long term approach to coping with life's challenges. I have another friend who reads and attends yoga classes to deal with stress (I keep on suggesting martinis but she knows me well enough not to fall for that) and another friend who is on a one woman crusade to save the city of New Bedford. I don't envision taking yoga nor do I plan on trying to save Abington (sorry Abington but you are on your own) so I need to find my own way.

Part of my approach is acceptance...accepting that some things in life are hard and that there are going to be days that are going to be difficult. Two weeks ago I knew that Saturday and yesterday were going to be challenging days. I tried to plan accordingly by staying busy and doing things that help me get along....like going to New Bedford (which is like going home) and hanging out with a friend for a while on Saturday.

So with a few more potholes in the calender coming I know more coping is in order...while switching to martinis is not really an option so until I come up with a long term plan I really don't see the harm in eating more ice cream...gallons and gallons of ice cream.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three Days Before Christmas

I am really trying to come up with a cheery posting....really.

After months of struggling I have decided to surrender to 2009 and admit that this was a really crappy year and that there is no sense in trying to dress it up and put a bow on it. So to cope I am trying to recognize and enjoy the little moments. Such as on Sunday when I watched Dr. Zhivago, or yesterday while working I stopped to have a cup of coffee at a Starbucks on the Cape or right now...writing...while the kids are still asleep and Joey and Spot enjoy a patch of sunlight while dozing on the carpet.

Enjoying moments such as these does not mean that I am putting off unpleasant things or avoiding the rest of my life. I know I have a difficult phone call to make later on this morning. I know that later today or tomorrow morning I am probably going to have to face a crushing disappointment. And I know... while looking at Joey...that very soon I am going to have to make a very hard, a very painful decision regarding my faithful friend.

Taking the time to enjoy these islands of peace while sailing on a sea of troubles helps...and this posting is an effort to remind myself of this.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Unintended Consequences

I am forever telling my kids (my boys in particular) to think before they act, that the results of their actions could have repercussions beyond their intentions. I tell them this as they pass the football in front of the big screen TV, I tell them this just before they are about to dash into the street after a baseball, and I tell them this as they fight amongst themselves.

A part of what a kid learns are that his actions and his words have an effect on those around him. A part of our job as parents is to teach our kids to look both ways before crossing, look before leaping, and to think before speaking. This is a part of teaching them to consider as many of the possible consequences of their actions before the fact rather than worry about damage control afterward.

This is where I am at today. I am dealing with the unintended consequences of about forty five seconds worth of carelessness. A week ago I was careless and opened my mouth without thinking. As soon as the words left my mouth I knew that there would be a steep price to pay for my thoughtlessness. However, in my case, the price was not a damaged TV or a broken lamp but rather I may have cost myself my best friend.

I never intended this to happen...but I should have known that my actions carry repercussions beyond my intentions. I should have known better.

I miss my friend.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Ex Wife

Its been a challenging few days here in Dadland... and there are a number of things I won't share with you dear reader but one thing I will tell you about...Sunday would have been my 17th wedding anniversary.

I have known my ex wife for more than 20 years and looking back over the time we have known each other we have had our ups and downs and more than our fair share of difficulty. We also have had more than our fair share of disagreement but through it all I knew I was dealing with someone who is a good and kind person.

Over the last few years we have developed a peculiar type of friendship. I admit, that there have been times I have not been as kind as I should have been to my friend, my ex wife. She is a good mother, devoted, attentive, and engaged in the lives of our children. She tried to be a good wife to me, however, I am afraid I let her down as a husband. I have tried my best to not let her down as an ex husband. I think, in her way, she has tried not to let me down as an ex wife.

This has been a difficult year for both of us. We have both had health and emotional issues with which to deal. Some of these issues are life altering. I recently suffered something of a setback (if you can call an unmitigated disaster a setback) with which I am still struggling. My ex wife, my friend, spent much of yesterday with me on the phone, talking to me, listening, and helping. This is something she has done many times over the past year. Anyone else would have told me to go to hell...in fact...she probably would have had every right to tell me just that.

I forget all too easily the good my ex wife brings into not only the lives of my children, but into my life as well. Its easy to let the acrimony that inevitably seeps into the relationship of former spouses such as ourselves taint, what has been for the most part, a sold, stable, reliable partnership. No...not merely a partnership...but a friendship, of a peculiarly special kind.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Ghosts....

Yesterday I worked up enough courage to get my Christmas tree and today I put it up. Tomorrow the kids and I will decorate it. My kids, my daughter in particular, is very concerned that I get a tree this year. As I have my kids with me for half the week that I would get a tree was never in question. How I would feel about the tree is.

My best friend's sister observed that Christmas comes with teeth....and I have found that for the last several years, just as I thought I was about to escape from the holiday season unscathed, Christmas comes, generally in the form of the ghosts of Christmas past, and takes a bite. For me, the tree, and the decorations, are fraught with memories, memories of those who are no longer here and those who have left. I feel funny for telling you this...but at age 42 I miss my grandparents terribly.

This year, just as I was thinking that I had a shot at emerging from this Christmas unscathed, but for a brief moment, I was careless and thoughtless. As a result, I have caused great damage and have done much harm. So this year, it appears that the Ghost of Christmas Present will be my companion for the holiday season. There is always next year.