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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

I resisted watching Californication for quite a while.  There were a couple reasons why I didn’t want to give the show a chance.  First was the name of the show.  I thought it was a pretentious and juvenile name when the Red Hot Chili Peppers came out with the song years back, and found both the music and lyrics supremely lame.  It didn’t help things that the song was a radio “hit” and I heard it all the time.

Second was that it struck me as weird and strange that the role on its surface seemed to hew so close to star David Duchovny’s personal life.  He was married to Téa Leoni, an actress who I’ve always thought was both beautiful and talented, and his marriage fell apart due to his sex addiction.  Duchovny’s role on Californication, Hank Moody, ruins the most important relationships in his life in large part because of his inability to stop sleeping with any willing woman who crosses his path.  Like, if you’re struggling with sex addiction I’m baffled as to why you would take such a role?

So I resisted for six years, despite quite a few actresses on the show that I find gorgeous (Natascha McElhone, Madeline Zima, Mädchen Amick, Eva Amurri, Carla Gugino, Natalie Zea).  Then about a month ago while channel surfing I ran across some reruns on Showtime and, since there wasn’t anything else on settled in and watched a couple shows.

Somehow, I got hooked and went back and started watching the show from the beginning.  I mean, Hank Moody is an emotional wreck, an alcoholic womanizer, self-destructive and emotionally devastating to the people he loves.  But damn it, David Duchovny is so charming and charismatic in the role that I kept finding myself rooting for him despite his many, many flaws (though I did find out later that it’s not just Duchovny but his acting and the writing together that makes the character appealling– the writing took a noticeable dip in Season 3 and the Hank Moody character wasn’t nearly as good as the 1st two seasons, but thankfully the writing seems to have picked up in Season 4).  And the other main characters are largely quite colorful, engaging and entertaining as well.

As I realized that I really liked the show and was going to be watching all the seasons On Demand, I pondered why the show had really hooked me so and realized that it catches me from a lot of different directions.  The core appeal I think is the relationship Hank has with his daughter Becca, and how much he desperately loves her and attempts to keep that relationship alive despite the chaos he brings into his life.  It appeals to me as a dad who tries hard to stay close to my own children despite not living with them.  It also resonates as the son of  an alcoholic womanizer, who was just as self-destructive and emotionally devastating to the people he loves… only my father didn’t make nearly the effort with his kids that Hank Moody does.  So I can watch Hank Moody from his daughter’s perspect as a sort-of “do over” as to how it might have been if my father had made the effort.

Also, Hank Moody is a writer–  a novelist who has also dabbled in screenwriter.  I have long had aspirations of doing both myself, so it’s nice to see a little bit of writers-craft popping up here and there in the storylines.

He’s also madly, deeply and thoroughly in love with fairer sex and admires everything about them, an outlook that resonates with me as well.  Of course, Hank Moody looks like David Duchovny so with those looks and that attitude the character has women dropping their clothes for him far more often that most of us mere mortals out here in the real world.

There are quite a few layers to Hank Moody that make for a compelling character.  At his core, Hank is a damaged boy looking for love and acceptance, which makes him sympathetic.  Wrapped around that core is a self-destructive alcoholic that doesn’t seem to really want to change his ways, which makes him unsympathetic.  Woven into this layer is the womanizing, which taken as a whole is a bad thing, but individually it generally plays into Hank’s love of women and fascination with every woman he meets, which makes it feel less bad and more sympathetic.  The writers also tend to use his encounters with women to generally wreck major havoc in Hank’s life, often in quite humorous ways.

Draped over top of those layers is a mix of funny stuff — a healthy dose of life knocking you down when things are looking up, life kicking you when you’re down, and a revolving door of hilarious recurring characters and guest stars.  Rob Lowe in particular is fucking brilliant in his over-the-top role as a big name Hollywood actor.  And then there are some people who play twisted versions of themselves– Rick Springfield had a recurring role as a total degenerate version of himself.

Particularly fascinating is watching daughter Becca grow up, from a pre-teen in Season 1 to a college freshman in Season 4, and how her relationship with her father has evolved.

When I started watching the show I thought that the series had ended, but I’ve now learned that there will be a final season next year.  I’m certainly curious to see how the stories end for Hank Moody and the characters in his life.  I suspect there are going to be at least a few sad endings in store, but the eternal optimist in me is hoping for more happy endings in the balance.  It’s been a heckuva ride so far.

Have any of y’all watched the show?

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This weekend I had the kids with me.  Saturday we ran by Kroger’s to pick up some stuff to make “breakfast for dinner” — something both me and the kids love.  While we were there my son Aaron stopped in front of the sushi bin and saw one of his favorite sushi rolls was there (apparently they don’t make too many and they sell out quick).  Anyway, he pleaded with me to get it for him, and I said we could pick it up and he could have it for lunch on Sunday.  After finishing the groceries, we put the bags in the hatch and head home, unload the groceries and I start on dinner.

Today — Sunday — we’re out running a few errands and Aaron’s in the back seat.  “Oh crap,” he says.  I glance in the rear view mirror and he’s holding up a plastic grocery bag.  “I left the sushi back here since yesterday.  Is it bad now?”

“Yeah, probably.  We’ll need to throw it away.”

“Awww…” He’s disappointed.  Then he adds, “Sorry Dad” after realizing that basically we just threw $8 in the trash.

I can tell he feels bad, so I just say “Well, we all make mistakes.”  I try to think if there’s some sort of lesson to be taught here, but he knows he screwed up.  I mean, I suppose I should have caught that the sushi didn’t make it into the fridge the night before, but the kids were helping me put the groceries away and I was busy fixing dinner, so I didn’t even really notice.  I just assumed the sushi was in the fridge and put it out of my mind.  I wasn’t thrilled to have thrown $8 in the trash, but shit happens.

It occurred to me as I pondered how to respond to the incident that some parents would have screamed their head off at the kid for it.  I’ve seen other parents do it out in public.  My own father might have very well made me feel like total shit if I’d done that.  And it was a strange feeling that I had in that moment, where I was grateful that my son had me as a Dad rather than someone who would have screamed at him over something like that.  Imagining an alternate-universe Aaron having to deal with that sort of reaction… just made me both sad and relieved.

At the very least I suppose the lesson there is something that’s important in how I live my life– don’t sweat the small stuff.  There’s no point in getting upset and angry over small bumps in the road that’s just a part of living.  Save that energy for the things that truly warrant it.

I did make a mental note to myself that, one day, when Aaron’s a grown man and maybe we’ll meet somewhere for lunch I’ll order the sushi and remind him he owes me one.  Hopefully we’ll have a laugh over that.

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Two Words

Today a friend posted a fun little meme on her Facebook page, it had a picture of a blank piece of notebook paper and under it the question:

If you could write a note to your younger self, in two words, what would you say?

That was actually quite tough… just two words?  Three words came pretty easy, but this was a challenge!  I thought for a while, and then finally figured out what I would write to Bennie the Younger…

KISS HER

If you could write a note to your younger self, in two words, what would you say?

Thinking back to so many times in my life, if I would have heeded these words rather than the self-doubt that always seemed to plague my thoughts… well, I’ve no doubt life would’ve been a lot more fun 🙂

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Earlier this year I wrote a blogpost mentioning that one of the obstacles I foresaw to me actually being able to date someone is the fact that I didn’t have a decent car I’d not be embarrassed to pick up a date in.  First impressions matter, and when you meet someone and they see you’re driving a wore-out old car they probably make at least a minor judgment or two about you.

But having an wore-out old car wasn’t just a problem for potential dating… it also impacted all sorts of things.  I mean, just picking up anyone — not just a date, but a friend or co-worker — was embarrassing.  And having to constantly put it in the shop to get fixed, worrying about rides to and from the mechanic… and then the fear of breaking down on the side of the road with my kids in the car, not just for their sake but also the ration of shit I’d likely have to hear from their mother when she heard about it.  Not to mention how limiting it is when you can’t take a road trip to something fun or a family function or what have you because you’re worried about your car not making it…

Anyway, about a month ago another mechanical issue arose in my car and it was the last straw.  I’d already begun doing the research and what I wanted in a car and had narrowed my choices to a Ford Focus or a Kia Soul.

All it took was sitting in the Kia Soul to make my mind.

Yes, I am a Kia Soul hamster too

I totally fell for this thing.  I have to admit the funky box-style of some of the modern cars appeal to me, and the Soul is one of the funkier, boxier ones out there.

What really sold it was how affordable the one was that I looked at.  It’s a 2010 with some miles on it, and there’s a few scratches to the paint in the front, which all seemed to knock the price down quite a bit.  But the previous owner kept the oil changed and performed regular maintenance (thanks, Carfax!), and this was even the Kia Soul Exclaim (or Kia Soul ! ), which had some nice extra features like a sunroof and a killer stereo system.

So I bought it.

It's not neon green, it's "alien"

It’s not neon green, it’s “alien”

So I’m going to share some pics from my baby…

<3

Approaching this every morning makes me smile…

IMG_1003[1]I just love the back of this car, it’s so weird looking and cool

My iPod has a little bit of everything

My iPod has a little bit of everything

The stereo is freaking amazing.  One night after work not long after I got the car I went out into the driveway and sat in my car and just cranked the stereo.  It made me realize how much I love music, but that I really don’t have much opportunity to just kick out the jams anywhere except when I’m in my car driving, so having the option to really turn up the volume and feel the music is awesome.

The stereo can also communicate with my iPhone via Bluetooth so I can make hands-free calls and hear the other person through my speakers and there’s a mic in the roof that picks up what I say.  To activate, I hit a button on the steering wheel and say “dial” and then either a number or a person’s name that’s in my contacts list.  I realize that this technology isn’t exactly new– this is a 2010 model after all — but it’s new to me!

The other weekend a friend came into town on business and needed someone local to drive him around the city, and it pleased me to no end to be able to do that for him.  To pick him up in a nice ride that I didn’t have to worry about breaking down at an inconvenient time.  And I’m stoked to be able to take the kids on the road to visit with family during the upcoming holidays and not even think twice about it!

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The last post I wrote about my first date in forever, how much we clicked and how much I enjoyed meeting her.  Since then, there’s been some good developments and a not-so-good development.

On the good developments, we had our first kiss the second time we got together and it was wonderful.  She’s a great kisser, and it had been so long since I’d really kissed someone that I floated home that night.  Did I mention it was wonderful?  The third time we got together, we shared another goodnight kiss that left me feeling all warm and tingly.  Yeah, yeah– maybe it’s not macho gushing about kissing, but I’ve made no secret how much I love kissing (…She’d Savor Smooching, 3 First Kisses).  I even lamented one time being bummed by the thought that if I got run over by a bus one day that my ex would be my Last Kiss.  Thankfully, that concern has been erased.

Our fourth get-together was cancelled because she was not feeling well, and unfortunately for the next ten days my insane schedule left few opportunities for us to see each other, and on those days she had prior commitments.  So our next date was going to be this Friday, and I was really looking forward to seeing her again.  I considered some options and wracked my brain for something particularly fun to do to make up for the time we’d spent apart.

Unfortunately, that’s where the not-so-good development comes in.  Over the course of a few emails back and forth we converse a bit about what we’re looking for in a relationship, and she tells me that we’re not really working out for her.  She’s looking for someone who can go and do many of the things she likes to go and do, but my time constraints make that difficult.  I work two jobs to support my kids and have visitation with them as often as I can.  Her kids are grown and on their own, and she’s fully enjoying the empty-nest phase of her life.

It totally bummed me out to hear but I could totally understand.  She’s a great woman and deserves to have a partner who can spend more time with her than I can.  I appreciated her honesty, and was glad she was bold enough to speak up about it sooner rather than later, and not just let linger, building up resentment along the way.  She said she still enjoyed my company and hoped that we could still get together as friends, and I was glad to hear that because I really liked chatting with her about a wide variety of things we both enjoyed talking about.  I proposed we still get together Friday, meeting at this cool Mexican restaurant that makes this incredible fresh guacamole right at your table, to share guac over margaritas, and she agreed.  You can never have too many friends, and she’s a friend who likes to go and do, which are particularly good to find in this stage of my life.

So what now?  I don’t know.  One worry I had about getting back into dating was concern about my time constraints, and that was the very thing that sank this relationship before it really got going.  She mentioned that dating me was like having a long-distance relationship, which seems like a pretty good analogy.  Maybe that sort of thing will be appealing to someone down the road, someone who might have similar time constraints as me.  At least we wouldn’t have the travel expense of a long-distance relationship!

At this point I think I’ll get back to checking in on OKCupid, maybe modify my profile a bit to emphasize my time-constraints to make it clear what I can and cannot offer at this stage in my life.  Sure, interest in my profile will likely shrink further, but it’s only fair to potential partners who run across me.

I’ll also keep trying to expand my social circles, find people who want to go and do stuff when I have the time to go and do.  And I’ll focus on my health, exercise and healthy eating.  Who knows what the future may bring?

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Not long ago I wrote a post about giving OKCupid (an online dating service) a try and being quite pleased with it compared to some of the other options out there, and I had a few comments from folks asking if I’d gotten any dates from there yet… which normally would have struck me as a little premature since I’d just signed up and created my profile just two weeks prior to writing about it.  But, to my extreme delight… the answer is, yes– I did indeed meet someone super-cool on OKCupid and made plans to meet!

OKC stars

Four or five days after I set up my profile I got notified by OKCupid that someone had given my profile 4-5 stars… and I didn’t even realize that you could give a profile stars!  I’d gotten a fair number of visitors since setting up my profile, but I suppose this is how someone kinda nudges you and says “hey, I kinda like what I see.”  Anyway, I went and checked out her profile, saw a picture of a lovely woman, and then began to read her profile.  It was surreal… so many things we had in common, she almost seemed too good to be true, but then I realized– I suppose this is what OKCupid is set up to do, match up people with similar interests.  My age, divorced, has kids, similar tastes in music and a love for live music, similar tastes in TV shows, movies, likes to go to festivals, the vibe from her profile felt so similar to mine, on and on… so I went ahead and gave her profile five stars back!

OKCupid then said something like “well, you’ve shown interest in each other… why not send a message?”  Well, why not indeed?  So I sent her a message… and then a little chat window popped up from her– I didn’t even realize we could chat on here!  So we chatted a bit before I had to go, then she answered my message, and then we went back and forth with the messages a few times, then exchanged email addresses and cell phone numbers, moved over to emails and texts and pretty much were in daily contact until one Thursday evening when I thought… well, she obviously likes my profile and likes corresponding back and forth… I realized it would probably be pretty easy to just coast along like that for a while, but… why was I on OKCupid to begin with?  The answer:  to find someone who might be interested in me as more than just friends, so I decided to go ahead and ask if she’d like to go on a date and meet on the following Monday.

She was up for a date, but said she had plans Monday.  She’s a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, and she had tickets to go see a documentary called Springsteen & I that was showing at this cool dinner & movie venue called CinéBistro where you can order a yummy dinner (or appetizers) and adult beverages you enjoy while you watch a movie in their big comfy chairs.  However, she didn’t have anyone yet to go with, so she asked if I wanted to go?  Sounded fun to me, I offered to pay for dinner and we called it a date.

A date!  The notion thrilled and scared me both.  I mean, it had to have been nearly 20 years since I’d gone on an official “date,” and even then I couldn’t really recall any specifics as to when that might have been.  Prior to my ex and I getting together many years ago, I was the master of the “hang out/pseudo-date” and very rarely was so bold to flat-out call it a date.  Is it any surprise all too many of those encounters ended with me in the Friend Zone?  This time I wanted to make it clear– while a new friend who shared as many interests as we did would certainly be very welcome in my life, my first intention was more than that.

The whole weekend I felt like I was vibrating at a different frequency from everyone around me, and was pretty sure there must have been a goofy smile on my face constantly.  I must have been super-annoying to my friends.  The undercurrent of nervousness was pretty much overwhelmed by my excitement though, and when Monday rolled around I could hardly concentrate on work waiting for the time when I could drive out to meet her.

I pondered what to say or do when we first met.  How novel and new this all was– we’d had this great connection online, gotten to know each other in a lot of ways already before we even met.  I mean, it was sort of a blind date, but we weren’t entirely blind– we’d seen each other’s pictures, read each other’s profiles, checked out each other’s questions, and sent a bunch of emails back and forth.  She was like an odd mix of a good friend I had the hots for and a total stranger.  What do I do when we meet?  Hugs or handshakes?  Do I kiss her goodnight?

I quickly realized I could overthink myself into a total tizzy, so I just settled down and tried to just roll with it.

We met about 30 minutes before the show outside the movie place, and then went inside and chatted a bit before they seated us.  Any sense of nervousness melted away almost immediately and I felt totally at ease with her.  The friendship we’d built on common interests and emails made it completely comfortable.  We ordered Cobb Salads and beer, and then watched the movie.  It was a really good film– lots of humor, great musical performances, and it left me regretting never taking the opportunity to see a Bruce Springsteen show before.  He’s obviously a great performer and musician.

Afterwards, even though it was quite late she was amicable to going around the corner to a nearby restaurant/bar and grabbing another beer or two to talk some more.  The time flew by and it grew quite late, and we finally headed back out to our cars.  We talked about getting together again soon… and there was a brief moment where I thought she might want me to kiss her goodnight!  Was I reading that right?  I certainly wanted to kiss her, but I felt a moment of panic when I realized just how long it had been since my last “first kiss” and worried my game was so off, so rusty, that I was misreading the signs.  I went in for the safe hug instead… and drove off kicking myself just a little bit.

Still, overall I thought the date went extremely well, and we texted each other when we got home saying how much we enjoyed meeting each other.  I was curious if some of the chemistry and flirtation that had been going on online would change a bit now that we’d met in person, but to my delight it did not.

We’ve gotten together twice since then, and we’ve discovered that it’s going to be a bit of a challenge finding time to spend together– she’s just as busy as I am and has a really full life of her own.  Which is fine– there’s no need to rush things, it’s been nice just getting to know each other bit by bit.

I will say that I’m now a big believer in OKCupid.  A program that can match me up with someone like her is alright in my book!

 

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A year or so back I wrote about my life’s “Motto” (…She’d Share My Motto), which involves three lines:

LOVE DEEPLY
BE KIND
DO GOOD

I wrote a bit about each line in the original post, but under “Be Kind” I wrote:

This springs from loving deeply.  You obviously can’t “love” every person you encounter in life, but kindness is the sort of love that you can give to anyone, and it’s something that can often be done with minimal time or monetary investment.  A smile, a compliment, an encouraging hug, a quick email, a comment on a forum or blog.  Think about how good it feels when someone randomly says or does something nice for you– don’t you want to generate waves of those good feelings in the people you meet everywhere you go?  Think about your life as like a motor boat cruising on the water– when you look back at where you’ve been, you’ve got a wake that spreads out behind you, covering a much wider area than your initial path.  What you do along your path expands out like that wake, it ripples out to more people and places.  Don’t you want your wake to be mostly filled with smiles, fond memories and love?  Kindness is the most efficient and powerful way to fill that wake with the good stuff.  I think of that bumper sticker I see sometimes:  “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.”  YES!  Think about how much better this world would be if kindness was everyone’s default.

 

And it doesn’t just extend to strangers.  Daily acts of kindness strengthens the foundation of any relationship you value.

Recently several friends of mine on Facebook shared links to an article about writer George Saunders giving a commencement address to graduates from Syracuse University, and his central theme was for everyone to practice more kindness.  I gave a mental fist-pump when I read it, and am glad others out there are preaching kindness too.  Below is the entire speech which was just fantastic, funny and thought-provoking:

* * *

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don’t even regret that.

But here’s something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.”  ELLEN was small, shy.  She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” – that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then – they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.

End of story.

Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still.  It bothers me.

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.  (more…)

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