Feel Good Friday: Validation

This isn’t a music video, it’s a short film.  If you have 15 minutes to spare, I dare you to watch it.

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Things I Remember Life Before

You know that survey someone releases every year, focusing on that year’s incoming freshmen and the world they grew up in? It has entries like they “have never known life without DVDs” or something like that.

Well, since I am feeling my years,I thought it would be neat to list the things that are commonplace now that I remember life without.  This should freak out the youngins.  Many of these things MIGHT have existed when I was little, their usage just wasn’t widespread enough for me to remember it. 

I remember life before:

  • DVDs (and their players)  Heck, videocassettes came and went in my youth.
  • CDs
  • Microwaves (we warmed stuff up on the stove).  Popcorn was either popped in a large saucepan, or if you were lucky, Jiffy Pop.
  • Cable TV.  You watched something on the big three (Fox didn’t exist, and PBS – I don’t even think it was called that back then – was for Grandpa).
  • Unleaded gasoline.
  • Cell phones
  • Drip coffee makers (I remember when Joe DiMaggio introduced the first Mr Coffee in the 70’s). Every now and again you can catch me calling it a “peculator”.
  • Airbags
  • Remote controls (I remember some of the first ones.  They call it the “clicker” because at one time remote controls actually clicked.  The child’s job in the 70’swas to get up and change the channel.  Or hold the rabbit ears in that perfect spot to get a reception)
  • Laptops.
  • Whoops, I remember life without home computers.  (Oh, how I loved the TRS-80 and TI-99a when they came out!)
  • Auto emissions standards.
  • The Chzek Republic, a single country called “Germany”, Kazakhstan and any number of independent nations that were founded or re-founded after the Soviet Union fell.
  • Cordless phones.
  • The southern Auto Industry
  • Working class southern people who vote Republican.
  • Rich elites who aren’t Kennedys who vote Democrat.
  • FM Radio (OK, that’s not totally true.  But in the early 70’s, NOBODY listened to FM that I knew of.  All the best stations  – WSM, WLAC, WMAK, WVOL, etc were on AM.
  • MRIs.  If you got hurt, you got an X-Ray.
  • Israel and Egypt at peace.
  • The Opry House.  Shoot, Opryland was another thing that came and went.
  • Jeans in church ūüôā
  • Drums and guitars in church (that was for those “holy rollers” as my dad called them)
  • WalMart (at least in Nashville)

Anyway, that’s a good start.  I’m sure some of you other oldsters could come up with more.  Sometimes, when I tell my kids about my childhood, to them it’s like I lived in a cave or something.

Why I Spent Last Night In The Emergency Room

Yesterday, as I rushed to leave work to pick up my kids from school,¬† a wave of numbness shot down my left side.¬† Now, for the last month or two I’ve been having these weird bouts of numbness in my left arm, but this was different.¬† It was if I had stuck a pin into a light socket.¬† It was a wave, and for the first time in years and years, it was worrisome.

This went on for about 30-45 minutes.¬† Every time I turned my head, the wave would shoot down my left side.¬† Now, I’m the type to ignore illnesses, aches & pains –¬†the men in¬† my family have some kind of allergy to seeing a doctor.¬† But this was alarming enough that I called Lintilla, who was sufficiently alarmed to call the doctor, who was sufficiently alarmed to tell me to go to the emergency room.

Wonderful.

On Dancing With The Stars finale night, no less.

I can tell you, the staff at Centennial Medical Center was first rate.  I was triaged right away, and before I knew it, I was in a room in the ER.  They hooked me up to all the beepy stuff, and before long a very personable doctor came in and checked me out.

Folks – from that point on, it was like I was a teenager again.¬† Even though I told them about the effects I’ve always lived with from being a DES baby, apparently seeing my spine is believing.¬† They did the CT scan (which¬†was COOL!), and later, the doctor came to talk to me in¬†a tone I had heard 30 years earlier, the first time someone had looked at my spine.

Radiologists and doctors just get excited about my spine.¬† I’ve come to accept that.¬† I’ve heard the words “interesting”, “unusual”, “funny”, and now “weird” describing my¬†neck and¬†spine.¬† The doctor last night said that the radiologist wrote a book in his report.

Apparently, I have a bunch of “C” and “T” vertebrae fused together.¬† We don’t know about the “L” because they didn’t scan that far down.¬†¬† But apparently, this problem I’ve lived with my entire life has manifested itself in something called “stenosis” (sp?), basically a crowding out of the spinal cord.¬† Yipee.¬†

The doc did remind me what I already knew – because there is no wiggle room in my spine, a good neck whip will probably do me in.¬† SO no skydiving, skiing, or horseback riding.¬† There goes my career in NASCAR.¬† I wonder if this means I can get out of roadie work for the band?¬† ūüėȬ† I should probably take advantage.

I’ve always known that a good auto accident will probably kill me where it would only injure others, but the Lord has seen to it that¬†I have been in not a single accident since I started driving (before many of you were born).¬† I guess¬†He wanted me to hang around to annoy all you good people.¬† Having jinxed myself now, expect to be reading my obituary soon from a fender-bender on the way home.¬† ūüôā

Funny – this past Sunday, I got excited at rehearsal and started banging my head (I’ve also let my hair grow out).¬† That PROBABLY contributed to my stenosis, so I need to quit doing that ūüė¶¬†

Of course, they referered me to a neurologist.¬† Just like when I was a teenager.¬† Been there, done that.¬† They’ll tell me there’s nothing they can do, and I’ll just have to live with it.¬† But not until after they’ve had a big medical staff party, popped popcorn, and gathered everyone around to look at my highly amusing CT scans.¬†

It’s tough being a celebrity.

Anyway, I know some of you were worried (I made a point of calling my Mom, because the last time I posted something medical about myself on Facebook, she freaked out).¬† I can say that nothing is wrong with me that wasn’t already wrong with me, except that the condition has now decided to be a real pain in the neck.

Dirty Old Sexist Pig

One reason we absolutely have to stop this not-so-subtle attempt to purge Mexicans from our city:  if our Spanish-speaking neighbors leave, most likely we will lose Telemundo.  And if we lose Telemundo, we lose Muy Buenos Dias.

Shut up.

I get up at 4:45 every moring, and I need evermore assistance to get the blood flowing.¬† And with some things in life, the language barrier just doesn’t matter.

Lately, I wake up, get a cup of coffee, let Lelan Statom tell me the weather, then flip the channel and take a little time to learn what’s hot in spanish-language music.

If you are up at 5 in the morning, I highly recommend the show.

Speaking of me being a sexist pig, here’s where I reveal a secret that will definitely make you think less of me.¬† There’s been one thing that has been bothering me about this whole Miss USA, Carrie Prejean dustup (besides the fact that it reminds me that Perez Hilton got famous with no discernable talent).¬†

It bothers me greatly that the producers of these pageants feel it neccessary to interject “issues” and other things of importance into what is essentially an entertainment show focusing on female beauty.¬† I’m speaking only as a “consumer” here.

I love and prefer the company of women who are smart and knowledgeable.   I also am not ashamed to admit that I appreciate female beauty.  I am extremely lucky that the woman I married 22 years ago is both highly intelligent and beautiful.

But, as a man, my mind just won’t let me concentrate on both at the same time.¬†

Apparently, I’m not alone.¬† According to an article in the NY Times about Miss America’s decline (from 2005):

Broadcasters show data proving that the talent show and the interviews, the pageant’s answers to feminist criticism, were the least popular portions of the pageant, while the swimsuit part still had the power to bring viewers back from the kitchen.¬†

Sorry.  I know many women get very upset with the compartmentalization that occurs in the male mind, but I really was born this way. 

Granted, some of it is just about context.¬† When I’m watching basketball, I would be highly upset if someone stuck a microphone in Lebron James’ face and asked him his opinion on TARP right after a slam dunk.¬† Not that I wouldn’t want to know his opinion, just not at that moment.

But anyway, back to important matters.  Politicians of Nashville, consider yourselves put on notice.  If your actions result in Telemundo being pulled from the air in our city (meaning no more Muy Buenos Dias), I will support your opponents, regardless of party.

Some things are far more important than politics.

Doubt

I have several blog/Facebook/Twitter/real-life friends who are each having a rough patch in his/her job as a parent.  When speaking to many of them, I realized that they might see me as one who maybe cannot empathise, because I seem like I have it together, and my kids are doing so well in school and in life.

Let’s just say I put up¬† a pretty good front.¬† And I think I do my fellow parents a disservice in the process.¬†

I can tell you this: from the moment a couple find out a baby is on the way, life is one long exercise in self-doubt.  It NEVER GOES away.  And the world is filled with people who are more than willing to feed and reinforce that doubt.

  • If circumstances keep us from breastfeeding, will the baby¬†be malnourished or underdeveloped? Soy or Similac?
  • Do I circumcise my boy, and scar him emotionally for life? Or leave him uncircumcised, and make him more susceptible to infections?
  • If we do not co-sleep, will the baby have bonding issues and turn into a serial killer? If we do, will she be clingy and never become independent?
  • Do we “Ferberize”? Oh, God, he’s SCREAMING in there! Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?
  • If I put her in daycare, will I be letting strangers raise her? If I don’t, how the heck can I afford all these diapers and all this formula? If we keep her home, will she be developmentally behind those who go to preschool?
  • Do I give him gun toys when he begs? Will he grow up and go an a shooting spree? Or, if I raise him androgynously, am I just setting him up to get the crap beat out of him later?
  • Do I reinforce¬†social stereotypes¬†and give her a doll when she begs? If I don’t, am I killing her maternal instinct (which she’ll most likely need later)?
  • Do we enroll him in public school, meaning he’s very likely going to need some remedial education when he gets to college (as I did), or impoverish ourselves and enroll him in private school, meaning he’ll always be a step below his classmates on the economic scale (which becomes VERY important in the middle school ages)?
  • Do we dive headlong into our internationally adopted children’s “home” culture, and if we do, what do we do when they reject that culture and just want to go get a hamburger?
  • Do we intervene in every conflict she has, to protect her, or do we let it play out to teach her independence and conflict resolution?¬† Where is that line?
  • Do I buy those $100 shoes, or attempt to teach him the value of being yourself over trying to fit in?¬† In middle school isn’t that like trying to grasp the wind?¬† Will he get put in the lower tiers of the school social hierarchy over it?¬† Am I really prepared to let him become an outcast over this?¬† Is it worth it?
  • How do we handle the kids’ appetites?¬† Indulge them too much, you’ve hamstrung them (both socially and health-wise) by letting them get overweight (fair or not, that’s the way it is).¬† Obsess over it, and one day, they check your daughter into rehab because she has anorexia.
  • Do I let him go to the sleepover, knowing a kid with really bad behaviors will be there?¬† Or do I trust that he’ll follow my teaching about what’s right and wrong?¬† When is the right¬†age to do this?
  • Do I hold fast to my rule about piercings and makeup, when the fact that all of her friends are doing them makes my policy so arbitrary?¬†
  • Do we let them see that really “important” movie which teaches a valuable social or political lesson, even if it means exposing them to R-rated language, sex and violence?
  • DO we make a big deal over his race, or downplay it as much as possible?¬† If we downplay it, are we setting up identity issues later?
  • What if he’s a little overweight, but refuses to participate in any sport or physical activity?¬† Do you force it on him for his own good?
  • Do we join the herd and get them cell phones (which really come in handy when everybody is traveling around willy nilly with activities), or teach the kids an important lesson about frugality?
  • How do we handle church when they start to hate it?¬† Force them to go and participate, and you end up with classic, predictable PK behaviors.¬† Let them drop out, and you lose a valuable moral support system at the age the kids most desperately need it.
  • How much of our politics do we pass down to them, while still letting them find their own voice?¬† What if mom and dad disagree about an issue?¬† How do you present it to the children objectively?
  • Do you let them work part time, to learn the value of labor and money, or do you stress that academic study is their job, and provide everything for them?
  • How much “sex talk” is enough?¬† If you’ve covered most of it (but not all), and¬†the kid rolls his eyes and says he already knows the rest and insists you respect his privacy and quit talking about it, do you press on anyway?¬† Do you give him a test and let him CLEP his way out of it?

…this only scratches the surface, and I’ve just gotten to puberty.¬† I’m sure Susie and Busy Mom could add a LOT more.

The doubt will drive you insane if you let it.¬† The only way to stay sane is to pick a path and hope you’ve chosen wisely.¬† If you haven’t, backtrack if you can, and try not to sweat it if you can’t.

I recently was racked with doubt when I did a study of our finances, since money has been running short lately.¬† It was quite a shock to see it there in paper: I spend around 40% of my take home pay to send my kids to private school.¬† And most high schools are around double what we’re paying now.¬† That’s just not sustainable.¬† I am scrambling to find savings elsewhere in the budget, and maybe find one more source of income.

Add to that the fact that some of my friends (like Susie) have kids graduating from public school, and they are such intelligent, well behaved, fine young men and women.  (Having great, dedicated parents is probably the biggest factor).

So I am really, really doubting the path we’ve chosen.¬†

Yet, it has always been very, very important to us to surround our kids with a world that has college and high achievement as an expectation.  It was not (an expectation) for me when I was growing up, so as soon as things got difficult, I bolted.  Whn I had kids of my own, I swore my they would not have college held as just another thing you might do when you turn 18.

Also, for Lintilla, putting our kids in that world of high-acheivement expectation is non-negotiable, so I’m going to have to make it work somehow.

Then, last week I’m persuing a blog I really love to read (always with a grain of salt), and in the comments of a particular rambling post, the conversation amongst the participating academics (most of them childless), turned to how their worst, I think the word was “uninteresting”, students were those who were raised with an expectation, as opposed to a hope, of college.

The timing of my reading that comment was quite poor.¬† I may have done damage to a nearby wall – it’s all a bur.

It took me over a week to come to the realization that this is cheap pontification – it costs the participants nothing.

Oh, those wacky parents, always permanently messing up their kids and sending them off to us to teach, tee, hee.

I can tell you, those of us who stand before you covered in the spittle and pee and feces, with baby food in our hair, and uneraseable¬† crayon art on our walls, who bear the scars of every tear and “I hate you!”, who¬†have endured¬†the stares from all the people who were sure we were parenting wrong, who really would like to recover from a sleepless night of worry, but we can’t because we have to help with algebra which is due tomorrow although we only just found out about today, who aren’t sure from one moment to the next if they are supposed to be chauffer of referee, who have anxiously rushed a kid to the hospital one day, sick with worry, only to be called “the worst parent ever” the next, who work two or three jobs just to give their kids every chance to be able to make it in the world…

We are not amused.

Don’t get me wrong – parenthood is as rewarding as it is hard – even moreso.¬†

But, after reading those comments, it tore me up inside so much that I really didn’t sleep for a week.¬† My doubt, though, has settled into anger.

You can second guess the parents you see, you can even second guess your own parents and blame them for all of your shortcomings.  Just know that whatever they did wrong in your eyes Рit was not flippant.  I can guarantee you they worried and prayed and lost sleep, and did what they thought was right, all the while doubting themselves.

All a parent can really do is what Rhett Butler did in Gone With The Wind: bow low to our accusers, apologize for our shortcomings, and walk away.¬† They really won’t understand until they’re in our shoes.

Finally

Hi guys.¬† Long time, no post.¬† I’ll be getting back in the habit soon, I hope.¬† But first, I’d like to tell you about something.

My band, X-Alt is finally, finally ready to release our latest studio project, On The Air.  It will officially go on sale May 31st at Revival 2009. 

Here is a video Ford Prefect made with little 10-second samples of most of the tracks.¬† I am amazed by the diversity of sound we’ve produced.

We’ve got not only our usual rollicking R&B tinged praise numbers, but also some rockers, jazzy ballads, a rock-comedy song I wrote about how southern cities act during snowstorms (special guest appearance by a Nashville weatherman you all know and love), a renaissance fair version of “Come Thou Fount”, and many guest appearances by some awesome musicians.¬† To top it all off, we tapped into our old school roots, and made On The Air a concept album.

This project took a very long time – I wish I could give you some VH1 Behind The Music drama as a reason, but alas, it was just life.¬† Illnesses, surgeries, day jobs, and running short on money were major contributors ūüôā

I’m quite proud of what we’ve produced.¬† Certainly we’ll be selling the CD in all the usual places (including iTunes), but I’d suggest coming to the big Revival May 29-31, because you’ll not only hear our new stuff, but also some of the most diverse music and preaching to be heard in Nashville.

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