Posts Tagged ‘family’

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Did you ever end a day thinking, ‘gee, that’s really not how I thought today was going to go’. I had one of those days recently. One of those life altering events happened to me. You know the kind, the ones that always happen to someone else, but never to you. Not as serious as cancer or getting hit by a bus full of choir students doing there best rendition of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. Yes, it wasn’t that bad, but it was worse than farting in a library or calling out the wrong name during sex. So what is left on the list of things that always happen to someone else…how about “being let go”…Yes, I have recently found myself unemployed, by no fault of my own mind you. Apparently I was expendable (and not the cool Stallone badass kind). Now, I have a point of contention with this, as I find myself quite pendable. Though of course, I was not consulted on the decision. You think I would have a say…nope. So after I heard the news,had a few drinks, smoked a few cigarettes (and I was doing so well….) told my wife, had a few more drinks….I sat on the edge of my bed and thought to myself…’gee, that’s really not how I thought today was going to go’.

I now find myself in an interesting position. I find myself in the long line of people who have found themselves unemployed over the last couple years. Everyday previous, I got up kissed my wife and daughter goodbye and left for work. Would you like to know what I did the day after my employment status was deemed expendable? Nothing….Or as close to it as humanly possible (turns out if you actually do nothing, you actually die). I resided myself not to think about the previous days events, and enjoy a nice, relaxing day with my family. It wasn’t easy, and in retrospect I probably failed miserably, but I did my best to let the rage and sadness go, if only for a few hours. I sat on the edge of my bed that night and thought to myself… ‘gee, today was a lot better than yesterday.’

Do you know what I did the day after my nothing day? I freaked the fuck out. I don’t have a job. You know a job…? The thing that keeps lights on, paid for the laptop that is writing this, fed the dog and daughter, (the former who could actually stand to lose a few pounds). The job that gave me somewhere to go everyday, made me responsible for something outside my family and established me as a functional member of the community. Most importantly it was the job that allowed my wife to stay home and do the much more difficult job or raising our child. All those things that were seemingly fine yesterday, are now in jeopardy, because of the job….Or lack thereof.

You know what the really funny thing is…I mean besides the thought of me walking into a dark, decrepit basement doubling as a black market hospital, carrying my own kidney in a styrofoam cooler with a six-pack on top to keep it cold…The REALLY funny thing is I didn’t even like the job to begin with. Actually I hated it. Actually I thought it was sucking out my soul through a crazy straw. But I did it for years. And I did it well. I did it for all the reasons above. It did it because it gave me the ability to take care of the things that were really important. I don’t regret that one bit, it was worth it. If circumstances were different I would still be there, because what it afforded me far outweighed what it took from me.

The circumstances aren’t different. My life has changed, and all elements affected due to the decision of someone I probably have never met.Now what? Another job, that’s the easy answer. Work my way back up. The problem is I tend to take jobs I can do well, but don’t necessarily want to do. That’s life I suppose. I am sure the majority doesn’t get to do what they really want. And I am sure a great number of people do jobs they hate, simply because it is necessary. My problem is that I don’t really know what I want and my fear is there isn’t something I really want. I feel that my professional life will be filled with jobs of necessity rather than personal gratification. That being said, I like to believe that a capable, driven person with reasonable goals can achieve them through will and tenacity. Coming up with the goal is the hard part…Ok maybe the ‘reasonable’ goal is the hard part. I am guessing that a world revered cat burglar with a high moral code, quick wit and a dashing smile is unreasonable? Do you have a better suggestion? I would settle if someone would pay me to do this, but that doesn’t seem to be happening either…Unless you are reading this and you want to pay me to write self indulging, occasional funny, often repetitive dribble…In that case, may I ask, how do you take your coffee?

Maybe I should get used to that question.

I don’t really know where I am going. Remember back in school when they asked you what you wanted to do? Teacher, doctor, lawyer, lion tamer….none of them really seem to fit. I’m 31, I got some time to figure it out…Worst case scenario we can learn to read by candle light…And kids don’t need to eat everyday right? God knows the dog could skip a meal.

 

Thanks for the therapy….the cheque might bounce though.

 

 – Jason

Follow @FredThePeacock 

 

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In a few days I will be 31 years old….Just typing that caused me to pause for a moment. I remember when I was young and ignorant of anything outside my bubble, and such an age seemed too far off to be considered. I remember when I was a little older, but far more reckless and such an age seemed like a distant possibility. Now, that age seems pretty young, and anyone reading this over that age would balk at 31 being old.

Though it does beg the question, at what age are we supposed to ‘grow up’? Or is growing up even relevant anymore? I am not sure I even know what it means. Does being over 30 mean that I have to stop playing video games, watching professional wrestling, or reading comic books? Maybe it is a generational thing, but some would say those are not the activities of a grown up. Let’s say for a minute I agree with that, what if I said that I had a wife, a daughter, a successful career and a mortgage…Does that make me a grown up? Having to ‘grow up’ seems like such an arbitrary idea in my white, Canadian, middle-class life, however, I suppose for some it is in actuality a harsh reality.

For our purposes let’s define growing up as: less opportunity for carefree activities and more responsibilities and commitments to others and your community. For some, responsibilities beyond yourself come much earlier than others; for some those responsibilities never come. Therefore, the idea of growing up has nothing to do with age, but is more a matter of circumstance. Age is irrelevant (phew…I feel better already, isn’t self justification grand?).

The idea of certain hobbies associated with supposed grownups is absurd. The idea the one person’s hobby is childish, while another’s is looked upon with prestige is prejudicial and nonsensical.  Have you ever watched or played Grand Theft Auto? How about cribbage? Have you ever watched or played that? The two are polar opposite of gaming experiences. Is one more relevant to adulthood than the other? They shouldn’t be. The idea that someone interests are infantile is an old school mentality associated more with the farm boy being told to put down the wooden train and pick up a shovel.

Fortunately, this old school mentality towards age biased hobbies has evolved. This was never more evident to me as when I visited by 65 year old parents, and while attempting to engage them in conversation I was only responded to with one word answers as they were too busy playing Fruit Ninja and Candy Crush on their Ipads. It was then I understood what they felt like fifteen years earlier.

Speaking of parents, mine are currently retired. They spend most of their days relaxing in the sun, golfing, reading and never having to look at their watch before deciding if they want a cocktail. That is about as carefree as it gets. Based on our previous definition, I guess my parents aren’t grown up anymore.

I will say again, age is irrelevant. This has never been more apparent to me, then in my relationship with my wife, who is  (ooohhh, she is going to be mad….) older than me. How much older?……..Come on now, I’m not a complete idiot! Plus, it is irrelevant right? The point is, it has never once affected our relationship. If it wasn’t for the occasional playful barb thrown at each other, it would never even be brought up.

I will most likely be reading comic books and playing video games long after my own daughter goes on to be, whatever it is she may be. And that is okay. And turning 31, should not be a reason to pause and reflect, as it doesn’t really change anything or matter for any intrinsic purpose. I am still responsible for myself, others, and my role in the community. I am responsible for these things not because that is what is expected of me due to an age marker, I take responsibility for them, because I care about them. I didn’t get married or have a daughter because it was time to do so; I did so because I wanted to.

Age does not determine or justify my actions. My actions are dictated by simple needs and wants. Sometimes when the work day is long done, and the wife and daughter are sleeping sweetly and soundly upstairs; George the golden retriever has taken over security detail for the night, albeit dozing at his post as he snores at the foot of the bed. The cats are on the prowl; and the moonlight shimmers into the living room. I sneak, ever so stealthily down the stairs and tip toe into the living room. I make no wasted movements, and all effort is focused on being as quiet as a mouse as not to disturb a soul. I take one last looked around and breath in the silence of the night. Then when I am sure the coast is clear, I click on the PS3 and play Grand Theft Auto and eat Cheetos until four o’clock in the morning. You see, life isn’t about growing up, it is about balance.

Thanks for indulging me. 

Jason

For more nonsenseical ramblings check out : @FredThePeack on Twitter.

 

 

Everyone thinks their family is crazy right? Right???? Ok, good.

I am not as close with all of my family as I once was. I guess that happens as you get older and start your own family. There are still the weddings and funerals (both involving large quantities of alcohol and bad singing). I remember as a child the extended family getting together just for the sake of getting together (Or for the Family Olympics….more on that later). It doesn’t happen anymore, which makes me sad. There are certain people who hold a large extended family together; the matriarchs, patriarchs or the crazy, fun-loving, charismatic uncle that rallies the group together. But, once those family leaders pass on, something much more profound than the individual is lost. I have found myself reflecting lately on the way I grew up and the thirty or so lunatics that helped raise me. In one sense I smile with fondness. In another I am sad, because I can’t help but wonder if my daughter will miss out not having some of the craziness around that I did. The family leader and cheerleaders seem to be gone now, and I don’t see anyone picking up that torch to carry it on. I know I am not that guy. I will be the one behind that guy or girl diving into the pool for golf balls, or sitting next to them for the watermelon eating competition. But I am not the one to bring them together. I am the chronicler. It is as pleasantly nostalgic of a role as it is sadly reminiscent.

I could shuffle a deck of cards and pour a perfect beer before I could walk (now that is a joke, with a small amount of truth to it, so go easy on the ones who raised me, they did a good job). My parents encouraged every bit of my childhood. I was let free to run, play and imagine. In summer I was set free to my own devices (helicopter parents had yet to exist). The only rules were, I had to be home for three meals a day and in before dark. Other than that, they trusted that the basic values and teachings that had instilled in me would let me make reasonable safe decisions (plywood bike ramps are completely safe, as are rope swings) and enable me to always make it home. They let me be a child. I was allowed to fall, to scrap up my knees and elbows, and occasionally need stitches. I would get bandaged up and go right back out and run till the bandages fell off. Kids are not allowed to be kids as much as they should be. That is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave my siblings and me. They let us be kids.

While my parents encouraged me to be a kid, they also allowed me to be a part of their world. Every once and awhile they would peel the curtain back and allow me a glimpse of the adult world. I learned very early on that the adult world and the kid world were not that different. The only real difference is that in the adult world no one is telling them when to go to bed (expect for the wives on occasion). My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would sit around an extended kitchen table for hours, drinking and playing cards. They laughed and screamed and banged on the table just like us kids did…..Wait….Dad is leaning back in the chair and Mom just yelled at him for it…..Just like me!! They were just a bunch of big kids playing….

My parents didn’t make me go to my room, or go watch cartoons. They didn’t force me to go down to the basement to play with my cousins. They let me stay and watch, and see my parents as more than parents, but as people who wanted to have fun just as much as I did. My role was not just designated to observer either. I had a job. I got people drinks when they need a refill, or acted as an advisor if someone had a really good hand. They would flash me there cards with a wink and I would nod approvingly. I would make my rounds around the table offering shoulder massages to the weary gamblers. I charged a $1/min…I think my price was fair. Between the massages, the tips from drinks and the money I collected from under the table (my mother would tell me years later that they dropped the money on purpose) I usually had a ziplock bag full of change at the end of the night. After some long weekends I had collected close to $100….That is a lot of comic books.

These family gathering did not just revolve around cards, although that is how every night finished. It started with car rallies (which were extravagant scavenger hunts all around town). I watched grown adults pack into cars in teams all wearing ridiculous costumes, ranging from cowboys, to clowns to Elvis and Dolly impersonators. It was sight. After the car rally there would be all sorts of games around the house: food eating competition, mini boat races, tug-o-war, make shift golf course tournaments. It went on and on. At some point a trophy was even made to be awarded to the winning family (last I saw it, it was in my parents basement). These would happen every summer for a number of years. They got crazier and crazier each time. I remember one uncle letting all the air out of the other team’s car tires. Somebody soaked one side of the field the night before the tug-o-war. Unfinished watermelons were tossed over a nearby fence when no one was looking. Of course I was not innocent in these affairs. At one event one of my uncles paid me to get a hold of the other team’s boat and weigh it down with quarters before the race. We were caught, and my uncle was disqualified. His punishment?? He had to lick beer off my grandmother’s foot (no one told my grandmother about this until it happened…she was not pleased). Another year I was elected the role of judge to determine the winner, several family member approached me with bribes….I took them all.

When I was older I was given more responsibility. One of the first adult games I was allowed to play was a beer chugging competition, where you had to chug a beer out of a baby’s bottle. If you have never tried this, you have no idea how hard it is, and you may well be a higher class of citizen (What do you mean?? Your wine doesn’t come out of a box??). This was also the year I was designated “keg boy”. My job?? Running back and forth to the garage with pitchers of beer from the keg. This is when I learned the rule…. ‘One for you, one for me”. I may have gotten a little drunk that year. I remember the look of my father when he realized. His eyebrows lowered and he asked “how many?” “Only two” I replied…..To this day that is still my answer whenever anyone asks me how much I have had to drink…… “Only two…..”

I would like to take a minute to address underage drinking. Is it wrong?? Probably. Is it going to happen? Yup. I was lucky in the sense that my first experiences with alcohol were in a safe environment. When I did turn of age, I didn’t run out to the first bar and drink until I passed out. I was educated by then. I knew what alcohol did to me, and was able to control myself (somewhat) more so than the person who grew up in a house where alcohol was taboo and indulged the first chance they got.

These are among the best memories I have as a child. My family may have been slightly crazy and a tad dysfunctional, but they were mine and they were good. All the family members that participated in the aforementioned shenanigans were all responsible, well adjusted members of society with families of their own. However, when they all got together all bets were off. Let the craziness begin! The one thing they all had one thing in common: they never lost that amazing spark for life that too many people do as they become older.

One of my favorite memories is watching as my 79 year old grandfather who had been confined to a wheelchair for the latter part of his life ask my father and uncles to help him out of his chair and in to the hot tub so that he could join the party.

As a mentioned at the start of this rant about my family, we don’t do these gatherings any more. And haven’t for almost fifteen years. We have lost the elders and an uncle who had more energy for life than any adult or child I have met before or since. My parents have gotten older, and can only break out the crazy once and a while. The extended family is separated across the country and all are now growing new extended families and I have to come to terms with the fact that things are different now.

I will always have the memories and the lessons I learned. The most important being: Sometimes kids need to act a bit more like adults, but more often adults need to act A LOT more like kids.

Crazy is sleeping now. As I look at my young daughter and think of all my nieces and nephews, I smile. I know in my heart that a new crazy is rising.

Thanks for reading,

Jay

Follow – @gskewedview