I'm just here, not much else

Maybe it's the lack of sun or not feeling well but all I can say about the last few days is that I'm here. I primarily work from home and have not left the house since Sunday to do anything but bring the kids to and from the school or bus stop. Other than work phone calls, I've talked to no one but my wife and kids.

Usually there is something motivating me but there's just no motivation. Now it's clean the house, work, make dinner, entertain the kids and help them with their homework, put them to sleep, then go to sleep myself. And that's it.

Certainly there are a lot of external factors - the election - being away from many of the people I used to see regularly - not finding joy in things like music or sports. I've outlined my next writing project. It's just sitting there. I have my video channel - still has no videos on it despite having really good ideas on what to shoot. No scripts. No footage.

I go through periods of time traveling all over the place. I always look forward to being at home - as a landing. After awhile, it all looks the same. So quiet. The house is never clean either. No matter what I do, I start the day in chaos and never get to the end of it before more chaos happens.

I don't like Christmas. Never have. Maybe the first two years of being a father I liked it. Now I don't again. Can't stand that it is just a march of commercialism now - seems to have nothing to do with the best aspects of Christianity.

Gratitude. I want to have gratitude. I don't want to say I am thankful - I want to mean it. But I can't make myself feel it when I say it. I think that's probably how I am most like my father. I don't think he is big on gratitude too, unless it's genuine. Or I could be looking for praise. I don't praise myself. Maybe this is how I am like my mother.

This has been going on for awhile. So much in life to be grateful - and it just doesn't flow through me. It's a knowledge, not a feeling. It so rarely rains here. It never rains indoors. I've been waiting for the fire to ignite me for awhile - just naturally. It's not happening. I'm not drowning. I do just enough to avoid that. These are good years for awhile here. Must remember that. I think I have my health. I think. That's a foundation.

I'm really just here. Until I thaw out. Or I wake up. Or I am awoken.


On Veterans Day with Fear and Sorrow (by my mother)

On Veterans Day I received this letter from my mother along with the editorial from Vanity Fair called "The Ugly American". It almost became a perfect counter point to my previous post about moving on from the divisiveness of the election. My mother was generally disinterested in politics from the late 1960s and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy until the first election of Barack Obama (about 40 years apart).  I've chosen to post my mother's letter just as she wrote it:

Note: My mother's father was a Marine, a commanding officer who served in the South Pacific during World War II and recipient of the purple heart.


It couldn't be easier even if it was hard.

I don't know if it is a special needs-parent thing or a gifted-child parent thing; the combination of the two makes for a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. It feels like there is so much room for failure as a parent with these two.

It's been less than two months since we pulled out of the parking lot of Disney's Magic Kingdom with the entire family but me in tears and crying uncontrollably. After four-straight days out at resorts and beaches, stuff you'd expect to be fun, my son was unable to keep it together, cries of "I want to die" coming from the back of the rental car as I tried to find my way back to where we were staying. From the exit of the park, to the monorail then walk back to the car, he screamed uncontrollably. "I hate Disney World" and "This is the worst day of my life" - things he was saying in a calmer voice moments after we had walked in the park earlier in the day. My daughter cried from the backseat that it was all her fault and cried "I love you so much mommy and daddy". Family is extremely important to these children and much of their play reflects family and school time. My wife cried out of embarrassment; not that she didn't know this was possible, that my son and daughter would "lose it" as we left Disney World, but more so of the embarrassment of their actions. Happiest place on earth and everyone in the car is crying.

My wife gives everything she has to our children. My eight year old son, diagnosed with high functioning autism, and my daughter, who at six is still going through evaluations for anxiety and ADHD- they aren't easy kids - or should I say they aren't normal kids - better yet, they are unique kids. Both kids have extreme sensory issues. Both kids score off the chart in nearly every standardized test they take. My friends (who tend to be very caring people) see the best in my children, telling me how smart and funny they are and how much personality. My best friend's fiancee likes to ask the kids trivia questions about science and geography to see what he knows that my friend does not. And at the same time, there are other adults who have trouble with my children. We let the kids express themselves and be comfortable, which makes some very uncomfortable.

There's been too many times where we've left a cub scout meeting or returned from an adventure on vacation... or just gotten a phone call from school, where we've felt like absolute failures as parents. Perhaps these two just can't deal with everything we expose them to. I didn't have the means as a child to live the life these kids have lived. There were no clubs after school, no annual vacations or travel; most of my childhood was spent playing by myself in the woods or looking for pickup basketball games regardless of the temperature outside. Maybe they needed a childhood more like that, simpler.

But would I be doing them just as much of a disservice by not exposing them to everything I have?

Because, there are times when these children thrive. It's not just when we get back standardized tests and get told how "brilliant" they are; it's practical situations. Watching my daughter interact, even with older kids, where she automatically becomes the leader, times when I hear the other kids at school tell me that my son is "the smartest kid ever at school" - this happens too. My son carved 1/4 of the periodic table of elements into the wood work in his closet when he was four and to the best of my knowledge he wasn't using a book as a guide. How is a parent supposed to react to this? My daughter excels at pretty much any activity she's ever done, as long as she can keep her head in it. Soccer was great, until the loud pumped in music; then I couldn't keep her on the field. Once the music was off and she felt like she was in control, she was the best player on the field again. Back at home in a quiet place, they write musicals together, can spend 5 or 6 hours at a time on a weekend reenacting school or a vacation or any other scenario that suits them.

Both of the children like performing and storytelling, my son the story teller and my daughter the actress. Coupled with their love of technology and science, we began making science, history and humor videos on youtube. The kids watch more youtube than television. My son would be hard pressed to name one show on television or one pro-athlete, but he can tell you his favorite YouTubers and can imitate their styles. My daughter almost runs to get in front of a camera as my son crafts his stories.

The two became fans of the PBS Digital Studios channel "Gross Science" and sent comments back and forth with channel creator Anna Rothschild, even sending her a thank you video. I got the chance to meet Anna and other YouTube creators at an event in New York City.

Anna's genuine enthusiasm for her interaction with my kids and her appreciation of their videos was moving. For all the challenges as a parent for these two, this was a reminder of just how wonderfully unique my children are. There's so much potential there. Another YouTube creator, Joe Hanson of "It's OK to Be Smart" shared another one of their videos that got over 1000 views in 2 days. Despite being only 6 and 8, I think they actually "get" the science of the videos and they really understand the importance of story telling - and not just in words, but in actions.

I wouldn't want to go through life raising normal kids who would just have life live them rather than them live life. I want to make them the best they can be - but this includes happiness and confidence and a feeling that they can do what they want, that they will succeed when they try. We are learning what situations work and what don't. We sacrifice. It's hard and there are some damn awful days. But we move on. We are trending up.

I'm not happy you voted for Trump but I don't hate you because of it.

I have much to say after the election. If you know me well, you know the hardest decision for me on election day was to vote for Clinton or go third party since I live in an uncontested state. If I lived in a state with any chance of going "red", I would have not even considered anyone but Hillary. I even saw people who usually oppose Hillary offer their endorsement and reminding us how dangerous a Trump presidency could be. It was a pretty easy choice to make to vote her. After all, we all thought she'd win.

My wife posted on facebook "Feeling proud to vote for the first woman president!!"

But then she didn't win. I'll save what that night felt like for another day. My wife went to bed before it was finished and waking her up to the results was awful.

Her next post was: "Not looking forward to explaining the election results to my six year old daughter."

Every time I read that post I want to write the most mean, nasty response possible to all those people who dared support a reality TV show host built on lies and his father's money who had never held a public service job. I mean, really people, how? I could go on and on. I won't now.

How could someone vote for Donald Trump for president?


And I got nasty. Very nasty. I actually posted this:

All in all I'm upset and angry. I'm disappointed. What do we tell our daughters? How do I explain that my country voted for a reality TV star as president? I mean, this isn't that you elected a bad politician, or someone I just "don't agree with" - this is unprecedented. 

I really think less of you if you voted for that clown. I will look at you differently for quite some time.Not all republicans, mind you, because I know some of you are disgusted or at least flabbergasted. Sorry, just how I feel. I'm not mad at Bernie Bros, I'm not mad at Johnson/Stein/McMullin people - I really admire you to be honest. But those Trump supporters- I'm going to view you as unintelligent, racist, having no respect for people of other cultures, the media... having no idea how government works - and I'm not the only one who will look at you that way.. You're wearing that scarlet letter for awhile. I'm mad.

Granted, I'm not a public figure. I posted this on my personal facebook page so people who could read it are "friends" or at least connected in somewhat to me. And this comment got a lot of "likes". I work out of my house and mostly with Canadians and of the handful of American co-workers I'm pretty sure there was no Trump supporters. I know people attracted to the glitz of Trump since day one of the election cycle and I know people who seem to think Hillary is the second-coming of Lucifer and have been telling me this since her husband was in the White House - wasn't counting on those votes but that's really such a small portion of the people I know I figured it negligible. These are people "you don't waste your breathe on".

Then I thought of my dad's cousin. She and her husband have been supported by the coal industry most of their lives. While I certainly think Obama helped most Americans, the environmental legislation (which I agree with 100%!) has crushed her and her husband and people they live with. Sure, the air is cleaner or eventually will be cleaner and the water is safer - but if you are unemployed in your 40s/50s/60s with job skills in a dying industry, these legislations make it tough to eat. Living in a red state that just decided to dump the exchange program, a lot of people around them went from having cheap (but very poor insurance) to being fined for not having insurance at all. These are things that affect their lives daily. The ACA could have been improved if Congress had helped, but they didn't. Obviously not just Obama failed these people. A lot of "these people" hate Congress as much as they hate the president. These people were voting for someone they truly saw as an outsider.

Makes me think - I've been middle/upper class most of my adult life, which I was not as a child. I'm not in a military family. My wife is a teacher so we never have to worry about health insurance. My job is very stable now and before that I worked for another company gainfully for a decade. Decisions made by presidents really don't affect my day to day life. Sure, I was thrilled to see marriage equality and lessened military conflicts - because these things are right things - but I'm not gay or in the military. To some people, Obama and "the establishment" altered their lives and not for the better.

Am I right in criticizing people for making this decision if these people really think a Trump presidency is better in the short term? Am I right for criticizing anyone for their decision?

I know people who voted for him for one-reason (Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade). I'm 100% pro-choice and I understand how strongly I feel about that. But I'm sure, right or wrong, they feel as strongly the other way. I even know people who voted for him on an issue which turned out to be something that the person actually was totally wrong on Trump's views (to be honest, neither Clinton or Obama was on her side as well either, however this person is pro-choice and was pretty displeased to find out the potential legal outcome there).

Then there was this other group, and for whatever reason, it was mostly white women, who really gave no reason why they voted for him. One posted on her facebook "I felt like we needed a change" to which one of her female friends replied "guess you want to change your access to an abortion". And I kept watching what these people posted. They were very upset - saying stuff like "I don't feel safe on here" (to which one person replied "do you think Muslim people feel safe now"). For the record, this was two suburban white moms who probably couldn't name 2 Muslim people they knew. And for the record, the Muslim I am probably the closest to voted for Trump because of a fear of terrorism. One of my wife's closest friends vote for Trump. When my wife found out that she was a Trump supporter, it really threw her for a loop. She mentioned how upset she was a couple times later. Now that friend is getting nasty texts.

So these people have made a decision and one I truly disagree with. I am a logic guy. I read facts, check sources. I make thoughtful decisions based on precedence. I'm still angry, hurt, confused. I've legitimately talked to my boss and my wife about moving to Canada (my office is in Toronto - no we aren't moving). But what is anger toward these people going to do? Is it OK that a coal miner votes for Trump more so than someone not really affected by him? Why is one right and the other not right?

I can tell you with my thought process, there's no reason why anyone should have selected Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton. But people did.

A few days later, I posted this:

It's been a couple days now. We have all fully realized that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. Being someone who tries to make decisions based on as much fact as possible (and you can never have all the facts as Colin McEnroe pointed out wonderfully yesterday), it is hard for me to understand how this happened. But it did. We've seen Hillary Clinton concede graciously and we've seen our American president Barack Obama point out the need to accept and allow the president elect's lead. While this is disappointing (there's so much to say here), there are people who used their own process to determine that they wanted this outcome and we must respect that. Everyone gets a voice. So we must move forward.

No one made the choices they did in the voting booth because they hate this country; they were made because they believed their choice would make a better country. I've seen protests, I've seen some very hateful acts carried out toward people (not sharing that here, use twitter or reddit - there's plenty) but I'd like to think that for every 1 awful person out there committing those atrocities, there's 100 with similar political views appalled by the acts.
This gives the electorate another task; this means cooperation but it also means due diligence in review of those elected. I saw those who opposed Bush just step aside as he created the Iraq War and I saw those who opposed Obama making ridiculous character attacks on him but not looking at the things that were wrong. We need to remain loud voices over the next four years and sometimes that will be praise and sometimes that will be dissent. If you voted for candidate X because they promised policy Y, if they didn't give you policy Y - say something. And read. Read things you don't think you'll agree with. I've absolutely loved reading conservative "anti-Trump" writers like Rick Wilson and Noah Rothman, amazed they could come to the same conclusions I do from a completely different path. I prepare to be loud and angry if need be, but also willing to say "good job" and I think there will be opportunities for both. And if this 4 year experiment turns out to be an utter failure, remind people - talk about it. Use facts, images, your story. It's your story.


exciting news (for me at least)

I got the new book idea!

Totally different than anything I've ever written.

A bit futuristic, almost science fiction!

My off season baseball activity! Finishing this.