Trying to Explain Baseball
Do you enjoy sports? Do your children? Well in my latest blog post, I tackle the issue of sports and cheating. How do you tell an 8-year-old about steroids? Click the link to read about our conversation.
Moving On Up
A conversation between a man and blog:
MeMyselfandKids: So, how you doing?
Blog: Where you been?
Blog: Huh? What do you mean huh? Last time you spoke to me was July.
MMK: Well, actually, every time I post I am talking to you.
Blog: Don’t give me that.
MMK: You don’t have to be so cranky
Blog: Oh, so now I’m cranky?
MMK: Can we move on?
Blog: Fine, what is it?
MMK: I wanted to let you know we’re moving.
Blog: Moving? Is it somewhere warm? I like warm.
MMK: Huh? Anyway, I don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference.
Blog: So, what you are saying?
MMK: Remember, I told you about a website?
Blog: Wait! Are you dumping me? I can change. I’m sorry I was cranky before. I was just feeling lonely. You didn’t show up on Thursday.
MMK: I’ve been really busy.
Blog: Don’t try and let me down easy. I can take it. I know it’s me.
MMK: No, really it’s true. It’s the end of the term, and I have a ton of marking to do.
MMK: Yes, really.
Blog: Oh, what a relief! Tell me more about the website. By the way, didn’t you talk about this months ago?
MMK: Yeah, well things don’t always go the way you plan.
Blog: Sheesh! You screwed up didnja?
MMK: No. Wow, you are cranky. My friend was…
Blog: Now, you are going to throw your friend under the bus?
MMK: Shut up and listen. My friend worked on it for me. Issues came up. Anyway, now it is ready to be unveiled.
Blog: So, is it all finished? When are we moving?
MMK: Well, I want to edit some sections. Plus any website needs to be attended to on a regular basis. Despite that, this is my last post from this address.
Blog: Wow. So how does that affect the followers?
MMK: For those who do get it delivered directly to their e-mail, there will be no change. Those who don’t get it delivered directly to their e-mail will have to re-subscribe.
Blog: You expect everyone to follow you there?
MMK: I certainly hope so. I very much appreciate my readers and try to put out quality posts. Besides, I am going to be joined by some special guests.
Blog: Who, who? Tell me who.
MMK: Well, I want people to be surprised.
Blog: Spit it out.
MMK: Well, I am going to have some of my blogging friends, members of my writing group (I think), the Website designer, and Ms. MMK.
Blog: Cool. When are the guests coming?
MMK: Over the next few weeks.
Blog: Anything else I should know.
MMK: Yes, our new address is http://larrydbernstein.com/me-myself-and-kids
Blog: Well, that sounds great. Any worries about the site?
MMK: Well, I don’t photograph well.
Blog: Nah – you’re just ugly.
MMK: Shuuuuut up. Seriously I can’t smile on demand. Anyway, my picture is on the website, and I am a bit sensitive about it.
Blog: It’ll be fine.
MMK: I guess you’re right. Want to hear a quick story?
MMK: Today, Sunday the 20th, is my 11 year wedding anniversary.
Blog: Happy anniversary.
MMK: Thanks. Anyway, people kept asking me before my wedding, “Are you nervous?” I said no, and I really meant it. Now, of course, I was on some level. But there was one thing I was really nervous about.
Blog: What’s that?
MMK: The pictures. I was worrying about smiling for the pictures. I was afraid my lip would start quivering during picture time.
Blog: Did it?
MMK: Not so much. That’s what happens when you’re happy.
Blog: Ain’t that sweet.
MMK: I think so. Anyway, take it easy and see you on the on the website.
Blog: Sounds good.
Thanks to all of my followers. I hope to see you on my website. I appreciate the community that we have created, and I am so grateful for your loyalty, for your comments, and for your acquaintance. I hope you (and all your friends) will join me on my website. Take care and thanks again.
Ferris Bueller No More
Drunken parties, packed bars, wet and wild (you fill in the blank). Yep, my weekend had it all. However, it did not include anything noted above. In fact, it was plain and ordinary.
I was 19 (or somewhere in that age range) and on the Philadelphia side of the Delaware River. Cloudless sky, brilliant sun, light breeze, low 80’s –a beautiful Spring day. Some friends of mine and I were lounging on the river bank watching the water flow on. It was as if we were ready to film a beer commercial.
“Yo man, I’m bored.”
“What do you want to do,” S asked. He was one of my closest friends during the high school and college years.
“I don’t know. Something.”
“Dude, it’s a beautiful day, and we’re all hanging out. What do you want?”
I looked around at the array of friends and acquaintances lounging around and sighed. “This is boring. I want an adventure.”
“An adventure? Who do you think you are Ferris Bueller?”
“I love that movie. Don’t mess with Ferris!”
“I know you do. How many times have you seen that movie?”
“A lot.” Sticking my hand out in greeting, “Abe Froman, sausage king, Chicago.”
“I know you know the movie by heart.”
“I weep for the future.”
“Okay, Abe I got it.”
“Anyway, what would be so wrong with a Ferris Bueller like adventure?”
“We’re not in the movies.”
I don’t remember how that afternoon ended. It was probably via some chemically induced haze.
So, I had it all and was bored. I wanted more.
Here’s a sampling of the events I experienced this past weekend:
Playdates for both of the boys,
Meaningful conversation with my wife,
Praying at the synagogue on Sabbath,
Writers group meeting,
Playing golf on the Wii.
There’s more, and it’s equally mundane. I’ll spare you the details. I’ll bet you had some of these and more on your plate this weekend as well. So you can fill in your own details.
You could say I did not have much going on this weekend. Yet, when Sunday night rolled around, I turned to my wife and said, “I wish it was a three day weekend.”
So, while I still know most of the lines and would be happy to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day off, I don’t need the same adventure. However, there are days. Nah, let me stop there. The plain and ordinary suited me quite nicely, thank you.
“Write what you’re called to write. Your job is not to pander or entertain. It’s to create, to share stuff from the soul as you are moved. If others are moved, that is merely coincidental. Consider it “gravy.” Your job is simply to write.”
The above is from a post by Jeff Goins. He has an extremely popular blog that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Goins, he is a writing guru. His posts are meant to inspire writers. I enjoy his blog and apparently so do many others as it was voted the number one blog for writers.
Anyway, I am not so sure I agree. I want people – a lot of people to read what I write. I can’t give you a number because the answer is always more. What’s wrong with ambition?
I belong to a few writers groups on LinkedIn. Recently, someone posed a question that goes something like this: Would you still write if you knew no one was going to read your work? Most of the responders said yes and that writing was in their blood. So, the writing is first for them and then for other people.
As you may be able to guess based on what I have said so far, my answer was different. Tell me when you make a great meal, do you want people to eat it? When you draw a beautiful picture, do you want people to see it? When you do something that you are proud of, particularly something that is creative, do you want to share it? Do you want other people to enjoy it?
Look at blogging. One of my favorite things about blogging is the instant feedback/reaction. In addition to the desire to hear feedback and engage in conversation about my writing (and other people’s writing), I used to be compulsive about checking stats. I know I am not the only one. My blogging friend over at ‘A Teachable Mom’ mentioned this in a post (http://ateachablemom.com/2012/11/07/rushing-is-the-new-crack/). Another blogging friend over at ‘Did That Just Happen’ mentioned how disappointed she was that a blog post failed. http://didthatjusthappenblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/bedtime-ramblings/
I was 21 years old and lying in my childhood bedroom. It was late at night, and I had just finished reading a book. It was the 4th and final (another book was added later, and I had not read the first at that point) book in the Rabbit series by John Updike. Now, I had read plenty of books before that. However, this book and character sucked me in like no other had prior. I don’t know exactly why the series so moved me, but I knew that it did.
It was after that literary experience that I truly contemplated being a writer. I wanted to move people. I wanted to make them laugh and cry, smile and curse. Now, my writing journey has zigged and zagged. However, my basic premise for writing has not. I want to move people. That can’t be done if my work stays on my computer, sits on a shelf, or is latched up in my head. It also can’t be done if I ignore the reader and the marketplace.
So, I say my job is to write. I need to write what moves me. However, a big part of what moves me is moving other people.
My Wife’s Team
I give my children a bath. I make dinner a few nights a week. I do the weekly food shopping. I thank my wife when she makes dinner. I remember my wife’s birthdays and our anniversary. I ask about work. I’m a good husband. No, not great. I’ll keep my ‘areas in need of improvement’ to myself. Anyway, somewhere my wife is reading this, shaking her head, and making a list.
“It was a nice visit dear,” my mother said to my wife of nearly a year.
“Yeah, we enjoyed it.”
“I’m just sorry the Eagles didn’t win.”
My wife looked at my mother and added, “Yeah, it’s a shame.”
Shortly thereafter, we were on the SEPTA train headed out of Philadelphia to Trenton. From there, we took a New Jersey Transit Train to Penn Station and Manhattan. As we settled in to our seats, my wife turned to me, “Did you hear what your mother said to me while we were waiting on the platform?”
“What? You mean about the Eagles?”
“You heard that?”
“Yeah, I heard. So what?”
“I just can’t believe that she would say that the weekend would have been better if the Eagles would have won.”
“Well, it would have.” (No, we are not the real life version of the Solatano family of Silver Linings Playbook, though I did note some similarities.)
“What is wrong with you guys?”
“You like football too.”
“I know but still.”
She does like football. My wife that is. In fact, her interest in sports was one of the things I enjoyed about her from the beginning.
However, there was a problem. You see, she is a Notre Dame fan. Huh? My family did not like Notre Dame. Nope, they were not the good guys. They won too often and were cocky.
Yet, my wife liked Notre Dame. What would I tell my family? Well, I eventually broke the news to them, and they took it in stride. However, the question kept coming up – why?
What can I tell you? When she first started watching college basketball, she thought one of the players on Notre Dame was cute. Hence, a fan was born.
You can be sure it came up when I brought her home to meet my family for the first time. I had to be a mediator.
Later this month, my wife and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. We have had our ups and downs. Like most couples, we have had to adjust for each other. Some of the adjustments have been harder than others. For instance, I have learned to not dislike Notre Dame.
That brings me to the BCS National Championship game tonight. It features Alabama verses Notre Dame. Yep, you heard right. Can you guess who’s rooting for Notre Dame? Yep she is, and so am I (though I not enthusiastically). After all, I did say I was a good husband. Go Irish.
Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, xenophobia. There are phobias for just about everything. I, thankfully, suffer from none of them. Well I’m not big on heights and you don’t want to see me around ketchup and iced tea. But other than that, I am just short of normal.
I took a self-imposed break from blogging though I continued commenting on other people’s blogs. Anyway, the break from blogging coincided with my break at school. Movies, Chuck E. Cheese, a visit to mom, editing of my novella, a staycation with my wife only, and sleeping in till 8:00 (yes, that is a big thing in my house) were just some of the highlights from my break. Of course, I found some time for self-loathing and questioning of my direction. However, the best part was not setting the alarm and moving at a different pace.
On Tuesday night, I had my clothes out, lunch made, lesson plans prepared, etc. I had psyched myself up and was ready to return to work. Then, I made a terrible mistake. I checked weather.com. The site said it would feel like 9 degrees at 6 a.m. That is the time at which I am standing on a street corner praying for the bus to come. My heart sank as my resolve froze. Uggh. I added a pair of long johns to my pile of clothes.
Wednesday morning came, and I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom for my shower. You see, there are two types of people in this world: “shower-before-bed” people and “shower-in-the-morning” people. I happen to be the latter. Thus my shower serves a dual purpose: a clean start and a wake-up call.
I looked at the shower and had reservations. Let me tell you about our shower, and you will understand. It takes a couple of minutes for the water to warm up. Once it does warm up, it can be scalding. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, why don’t you just balance the hot and cold knobs so the water will come out at a temperature you are happy with. Sounds logical. However, my shower is not logical. The knobs are inconsistent, so I never know where to turn them to in order to get a comfortable temperature.
As I have mentioned many times, I often lack patience. So, sometimes in my rush to warm up the water, I turn the hot up too far. It will be a comfortable temperature when I get in and suddenly the water will be scalding. Then, I will turn the hot water down and pump up the cold water and a minute later, the water is freezing.
I have little tolerance for extreme temperatures. So, I spend half the shower jumping away from the water. I jump so often in the shower that it could be a new kind of exercise. You have zumba, pilates, and shower dance (sounds like it should be way more erotic than it actually is). This drastic change in temperature makes washing my private parts an act of faith. So, one minute, I’m burnt like a beach bum and the next minute, I’m frozen ala Walt Disney.
Then, you have water pressure. Well, you may have water pressure, but my shower sure doesn’t. Give my two cups of water and an hour, and I can generate more pressure than my shower.
So now, I have made a change. I am no longer a daytime shower person. It is too scary in that shower on cold winter mornings. In fact, you could say that I have a fear or phobia of my shower. There’s got to be a name for morning-shower phobia.
Fishing with Lou
Calm waters, bonding time, thrill of the pull. Yeah, I have no interest in fishing. Seriously.
My Uncle Lou passed away when I was 10. Unfortunately, I only have vague memories of him. My uncle fought in World War II, marched in the Mummers Parade, and was a September call up for the Philadelphia A’s.
Uncle Lou was the type of uncle that would buy you ice cream even though you were about to go home and eat dinner. He was the uncle who would come to your baseball games. He was the uncle who would make every trip seem interesting.
And he was the fisherman of the family. My father could get sea sick during a long bath. So, if my brothers or I were to go fishing, it would be because Uncle Lou took us. However, the majority of the fishing trips were for my two oldest brothers. I was too young or at least that is what I was told.
One day my next older brother, NG (by two years) and I were playing with our new fishing rods that Uncle Lou bought for us. It was a particularly slow summer day. NG and I stood next to each other in front of our house. We were in competition as brothers always are. The goal was to see who could cast their line further. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember it made me want to go fishing.
Eventually, Uncle Lou decided that NG & I were old enough to go fishing. And I caught a fish. Well, sort of. I had a bite on my line and pulled it in under Uncle Lou’s tutelage. I was excited and dreamed of telling my older brothers about my big catch. So after a moment, the fish became visible – barely. The fish was no more than six ounces and three inches and bloodied from the fight with my line. The pathetic thing eventually fell off my line – becoming lunch for some other sea animal.
Shortly, thereafter Uncle Lou called it a day. The fish weren’t biting, and the weather was ominous. We stopped at a diner on the way home. Uncle Lou congratulated me on my near catch and told NG he would do better next time.
Unfortunately, there was no next time with Uncle Lou. He died rather suddenly leaving everyone sad. He was one of the good ones.
Anyway my next and last fishing trip was just an excuse to drink beer with a couple of friends. Oh well.
This was a semi-elaborate way of saying I am taking a break from blogging. You know like they say – I’m gone fishing. I don’t where that term comes from. I’m sure I cold Google it, and I just might eventually. Anyway, I won’t be posting for the next week to 10 days. I need a break. I just might pop on WordPress and make some comments, and I might not. The lack of commitment. I am a guy you know.
Lastly, I want to wish Happy Holidays to all of you who will be celebrating Christmas next week. May it be a wonderful, peaceful, and joyous holiday.
Lump in My Throat
There’s a lump lodged in my throat.
The gymnasium was packed on Friday morning at my son’s elementary school in Fair Lawn, NJ. The large crowd had gathered for the annual holiday show. The show, which began at 9:00 a.m., featured each grade from K-5 performing a song to celebrate Christmas and Channukah. There was dancing and speeches as well.
Children beamed with pride as they performed the numbers that they clearly had spent time preparing. Teachers nodded with satisfaction. Family members smiled, waved, and photographed.
My 6-year-old son’s kindergarten class took the stage last. He sang, did the hand motions, and bopped with the music. He blew a kiss to my wife from the stage and had her heart.
Joy, innocence, cheer. These words summarize the Holiday Performance. Everyone left happy.
The scene, the numbers, the insanity of it all makes the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School seem earth-shattering. Six- and seven-year-olds, shot multiple times. They probably loved cotton candy, Lego, and Spongebob. What did they dream? What did they wish for? What did they hope?
These mass shooting tragedies are getting too high to count. We shake our head and pity those involved. Then, the incidents meld into each other. And the number of victims and families torn asunder add up. What do we as a nation do to deal with our collective survivor’s guilt? Surely every parent has embraced their child a little tighter thankful for the opportunity to do so while wondering about the horror of those parents who no longer have that blessing.
Maybe, we can’t send our children to school anymore. Or the mall. Or the movie theatre. Maybe, we should all lock our doors and go on Facebook. A virtual connection is at least a safe connection.
Of course, living a completely isolated life is practically impossible and undesirable. So, instead, there will be talk.
We’ll get advice and details over the next few days. Pundits will pontificate, police will report, and politicians will bloviate. What can they tell us? This is why it happened, we have it covered, keep living, it’s okay to be scared, etc. Does that make anyone feel better? Does anyone feel safe now?
A mass tragedy can happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. That is the lesson learned from this horror. Period.
On Monday morning, I will enter the classroom where I serve as a teacher. Certainly, I will teach a lesson, hope the students learn, encourage them to participate, remind them of homework, and push them to try their best. However, the mark of a successful class will be everyone walking out safely together when the bell rings.
The world has changed.
I have a lump in my throat, and it is not going away.
Do Shirts Count?
Do Shirts Count?
Eight presents for eight nights. That’s the way Chanukah works in our house. Each night the drama begins anew. We say some prayers, sing a song, and presents are distributed.
And I hold my breath. Praying that the children will be happy with their gifts.
A friend of mine was holding court recently. The topic was Chanukah presents. Specifically, can clothes be given as presents? Now, there are no holy books with great sages’ views on said topic. So, we are left to our own wits. My initial reaction: “Of course it counts.” However, my friend, whose youngest child is in 11th grade, presented his three children’s arguments. Clothes don’t count. They are a necessity. It is a parent’s obligation to clothe their child. I think my friend might have a lawyer or two in the bunch.
From this Jew’s perspective, Christmas gift giving seems less dramatic. If the children are given a slew of presents or even just a few, you can throw a shirt in or something similarly practical. The child might be disappointed, but with the knowledge that the next present is right there, waiting to be opened – hope remains.
However, with Channukah, the next present is 24 hours away – an eternity to a young child. Each night there is pressure. My wife is the gift buyer in our house. She puts in major hours scanning the internet to find the ‘right’ presents for the boys. I am both impressed with the effort and care and a bit scared. She’s intense. So, if the children aren’t happy, it is my wife who feels more of the sting.
All of this being said, when BR received a shirt the other day he freaked out. By the way, it was a Lego Ninjago shirt. He loves Lego. He also got a scooter that he can use indoors. Anyway, he was not happy and did not feel any need to refrain from showing his displeasure. Through tears, he kept repeating, “I don’t want a shirt. Why would you give me a shirt? I want toys.” (At least he was rolling around on the scooter while he was bawling.) We tried to reason with him, but he was in meltdown mode. Better to back away and let him cool down a bit.
Part of me was pissed off. Doesn’t he know how much his mother works to find the right presents for him and his brother? Doesn’t he know that some people don’t get any presents? Doesn’t he know that one should always express gratitude when given something?
I’m sure he knows all of this – on some level. It is our (my wife and I) job to make sure BR and SJ grow up to be gracious and appreciative – even when they get a shirt.