There are instances in your life that affect you for the rest of it. I’m not talking about that time a semi almost hit you or a pregnancy scare. I’m talking about small details that make you think of something for the rest of your life.
For example, a friend I had in college would wear this thick, battered sweatshirt when we played football or shoveled snow. I thought it was so cool. This cool sweatshirt that had seen some experiences. It why even at 50, I keep my sweatshirts and do not let them go even when I can’t wear them in public. And they cannot compare to that sweatshirt that was ripped at the sleeve and had a worn collar.
I have a packer sweatshirt that from the 90s. The front pocket is almost ripped off so that there is a patch of dark green there while the rest is faded. The hood and collar are frayed, but not to a good enough degree.
I have a comfy sweatshirt that had a German phrase on it. The only letters left spell net. The problem with this one is that i got paint on it. I want it to wear out and yet I don’t want to wreck it so it does not ever get a rip. Yet, I want that sleeve seem to be giving way.
Every week, I think of that sweatshirt. I covet it even as I don’t covet the friendship that came with it. That I can accept has come and gone.
Do you have a small thing that cycles through your thoughts?
This could be a piece about how children today don’t just play. Everything has to be organized. Warning, the next phase begins In my Day, but it stops short of being preachy. In my day, kids gathered on street corners and met up and determined their own rules.
However, I lived out in the country. We had a next door neighbor, but they were older. Other than that, our friends lived miles away. Instead there was me and my two brothers three years apart followed by a brother ten years younger and a sister 15 years younger. We had to make our own fun.
So I don’t know about kids lives being so scheduled. As long as they are happy, it is fine. Yet I am going to look back on my childhood and be thankful for the creativity required. We made go carts and forts (wood and hay) and hung out in each. We wandered down in the woods and played on the abandoned equipment sinking into the ground.
Without enough players, we modified volleyball. We used cheap balls you bought at K-mart and the only rule was that as long as the ball was moving, it was playable. You team could hit it a hundred times. A single player could hit it a hundred times. A ball rolling on the ground could be swept up and kept in play. The great part about that is that younger players didn’t ruin the game and you didn’t have to hit the ball before they tried to hit it and made it go straight to the ground.
So I am not preaching. However, I don’t think this game would even make a free video game to play on a smartphone.
I remember being on a party line growing up. Picking up the phone to hear our neighbor on the phone. Weird and slightly annoying. If we we were in the house and wanted to talk to dad in the barn, we could dial our own phone number, hang up and then pick up when it stopped ringing because that meant dad picked up. Not sure why we would not just go out there.
In this post, I just want to record what my dad (78 years old) described to me when his dad used the phone. Those first ones.
Grandpa used to turn the crank that powered the magneto that made electricity to turn on a light on the switchboard. Grandpa would have to wait a long time, so he would crank and crank the phone, thinking that it was also making a ringing sound at the switchboard. It was only a light though.
However, a lot of people on people on Grandpa’s party line would have their phone rung by the electricity he sent through the lines. His neighbors would hear his constant ringing.
Other fun facts about the phones back in my Grandparents day- The people on a party line did not need to go through the switchboard to call each other. If your neighbors signal that someone was calling him was two long rings and one short ring, then that is what you rang to get them to pick up the receiver.
I’m excited about my first grandson and all that. So proud of my daughter. However, I spent an absurd amount of time thinking about something else. I was planning on hugging my son-in-law.
To date, I have not done so. However, his family and he too hug each other when they see each other. He hugs Linda and other people. So it gets a little awkward in that I think I should hug him.
It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s that I don’t think there is anything wrong with a handshake. My wife’s family shakes hands. The guys do it a lot. Its an affectionate show, but my father-in-law shakes hands like it a sign of peace at a very progressive Catholic church. Greet each other good morning. Give each other a sign of peace. Go in peace!
As we have all gotten older in my family, we hug more. The parents get an embrace when we arrive and a longer one when we leave. The rest get one dispensed (lovingly) at the end where we go off on our separate ways before we are tempted to hug again.
So In a way, I want to finally hug my son-in-law. Sort of you’ve done enough to earn it. But not really. I already love that guy. But the first hug, after its gone so long has to be impromptu. For me, that means well planned out. Tell him, I’m more comfortable with a half a wave and a see you round, but I am fully onboard with a hug.
So I thought about it. Sort of planned how it would go down. I imagined the scenario and thought out the repercussions of it.
Then the baby arrived. We came into the room and he was holding the baby. So I went in to the bathroom and washed my hands.
Then it was time to leave. He was holding the baby again. Damn it. I want to get it over with. I hug my daughter as she laid in bed and gave her a big hug. May have told her that I love her face to face for the first time.
As for the son in law, I clamped him on the shoulder. He had his hand out to shake. I awkwardly moved in to shake it as well.
The planning starts over. At the baptism?
I recently bought The book Montaigne in Barn Boots By Michael Perry. I buy every book Mr. Perry puts out as well as his musical CDs. Here is my review:
In Montaigne in Barn Boots, Mike Perry reflects on the writings of Montaigne as he compares it to his own personal philosophy. For me, I dipped my toes in Montaigne’s essays and they quickly went numb. However, Mr. Perry made those essays with his down-home folksy similes and metaphors easy to understand . I fear that comes off less than a compliment, but it is a compliment. Those comparisons were dead-on and unique.
Even Mr. Perry questions presenting another memoir from him. Do we want to hear more of Mike’s life and his beliefs? Do we want him to get more personal? This books gives a resounding yes. He writes about his own life to investigate what being human means. He is so effective that he can write a whole book discussing himself without over-indulging and getting over personal.
Yes, Mr. Perry, we want more. We want to know about the man off-stage and those subjects you have not broached. And Mr, Perry we want you to get very personal without going to far and being respectful of our tender sensibilities.
That was his undertaking and he was successful. He does both. For example, he lets us know that his marriage is more than just love poems to her. He reveals that he does have a marriage like ours with its ups and downs while still being as reverential to his wife as our wives wish we would be.
I blame Michael Perry
Michael Perry is an author.
His writing reminded me of driving tractor. Sitting on the metal seat of a Farmall and holding the spindly, hand-blackening steering wheel. I would stand and steer like it was a ship. After all the steering wheel was vertical. The exhaust would roar which was good because there was nothing else to do but think or sing and I sometimes did both at the top of my voice. At the end of the day, my hands would vibrate from the pull of the terrain and the churning of the engine. The big tractor was a different ride. The seat had a cushion, the steering wheel adjusted (I think). One had a cab and a radio. Yet the main difference I think was that these tractors had fenders over the wheels. Something you could rest your hand on or a rider could sit on. It was just more substantial. Yet looking back, I miss the small tractors. Seeing the v-shaped tread go past like a water mill. You got on the platform between the two turning giants wheels and you were as basic as the transmission box.
We had our trees. There was the big pine near the house. The dogs laid under it, the perfect location of coolness and closeness to a bone thrown out the door. We had the tree down the yard. Convenient, especially as a brake when theyoungest put a car in neutral and went for a ride. There was the trees in the back, one forked and the canopy for the sandbox. Then there was the rows of pines for a windbreak that was close to the house and yet it was possible to go to a different world as we scrambled among the branches. We cleared a path. There was a sunny world just beyond it. Weedy graveyard of used up farm equipment and the fields beyond that. I suspect beyond that was the world, but I never found out.
The trees of my dreams, however, are the two trees between the barn and the house. Along the walkway but set back on the lawn. That was where the lawn chairs were setup. Whether it was a party or grandpa and grandma or just us kids, it was our patio, our visitors center.
I think in giving advice to young people, too often we overlook that they are experiencing things for the first time. From love to heartbreak, we apply our view to how they might feel.
Instead we should validate their feelings. They are strong and teenagers are dramatic because if feels overwhelming. What we can do is explain that things will get easier. With age comes the lesson that heartbreak is not so bad because we have gone through it. We learned that we will be okay. That good follows it. Then the next time heartbreak happens, it affects us less because it is not the end of the world. It is life. This is not numbness, but an overall appreciation aat looking at our lives as a whole and not just focusing on the heartbreak.
Saturday, dad and I traded songs via youtube. He showed me who put the overalls in mrs ___ chowder. We also listened to Nellie Jack and my blue heaven. Dad talked about how his dad would come out of his bedroom dancing and singing these two songs. My dad was emotional as he remembered this. He said Grandpa must have been a romantic. Other men didn’t want to get married, but he always wanted a family. Dad said he did too.
I replied that’s what I always wanted as well.
What a gift my father gave to me. To share and to be vulnerable. And to be emotional.
John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In The Eyes, talked about his Asperger’s syndrome going un-diagnosed until adulthood. A great book and in it he talks about the adults being the only ones that interacted with him due to his social skills.
People with autism can be challenging. However, as adults, we can handle it. When behaviors get on our nerves, we need to be the ones that keep them from isolation.
Their behaviors are not a choice to be naughty. They can be organic and they can be learned. They may make comments that are insensitive because they cannot predict how it will be taken.
Those behaviors do not need to be ignored. Depending on the person with autism, they may be thankful that you took the time to explain to them how to be social or why something may be off-putting.
Some problematic behaviors just have to be ignored. However, we need to make sure the person behind those behaviors are also not ignored. You do not know how important you might be to someone without positive relationships. We want people with autism to have friendships. Caring adults may be the only thing keeping them from loneliness.
I am a writer. So you know what that means. Exactly. Socially awkward as hell. I am a better communicator as a writer than as a speaker. This is especially poignant as you are reading this and this aint that good either.
Writers conferences are sometimes put on by writers. A crazy thought, but stick with me. So some conferences then are not as friendly. I mean they are friendly, but because I am socially awkward, I need them to be super friendly.
I think the Lakefly Writers Conference is. I think in my role as a volunteer, I am as well. What I am saying is that I rise to the occasion. Or perhaps it is the right environment and it fosters that in me.
Maybe it’s just that I desperately want the conference to succeed. A conference that I help put on is one less that I have to go to and not interact with people.
Actually, though, it’s a great conference. I love interacting with attendees and the speakers.
It has great attendees. I enjoy meeting writers from all over and I like the responsibility of working to make sure it goes well.
This reminds me of a story. We recently had Michael Perry as a speaker and needed to put a lectern on the risers. I told him it was probably heavy (as in he was a speaker, I shouldn’t expect him to lift it).
Mr. Perry said a very Michael Perry thing- “Are we not men?”
A great bonding moment. Unfortunately he was one of my heroes. So I was tongue tied. My response was mumble mumble mumble. Maybe I’m wrong about Lakefly fostering me.
It will for you though.