Selling your soul make a buck

There’s a lot of things I should be doing right now.  I’ve got to prepare the notes for my last writing class.  I’ve got a book to finish editing for the wonderful Lydia Peever.  I’ve got a bunch of my own stuff I need to edit.

But I got completely sidelined by a tweet tonight, and I know it’s going to continue to burn and eat and gnaw at me until I get this out.  And normally I wouldn’t do this in such a public fashion.

But I saw the notice across my BlackBerry quickly, became quite shocked at the sheer insensitivity of it, then put the phone away.  I told myself if she direct messaged me, I’d deal with it in a similar fashion.

But I got back to my computer, pulled up Twitter, and there it was.  Out for all the world to see and my name flagged in the message.

What’s the tweet that’s got me so pissed off? From @FirminMary, I got the following:

@TobinElliott God Bless Aunt Hannah. I think she’d have loved my book Deadly Pleasures See reviews http://maryfirmin.blogspot.com

Now, the Aunt Hannah that she’s asking God to bless is my aunt that passed away two days ago.  I wrote about it here.  And to be honest, I hesitate to write those blogs because it’s not my mother, though it’s someone I loved and I don’t ever want to misrepresent them or offend the immediate family, but I went for it.  I can only write what’s in me, what’s honest and that’s what I strive to do with posts like that one, or my Aunt Betty and Uncle Merle.

And this one hit me hard for some reason.  I mean, yes, she’s family.  I grew up knowing Aunt Hannah, so of course it’s going to hit me.  But this one hit me harder than expected.  There’s certain people that just somehow seem immortal.  They’re too nice, or too stubborn, or too loved to die.  And yet, we’re all mortal.

I’m not explaining myself well here.  Let’s just say Aunt Hannah’s passing hit me damn hard.

And that’s fine.  It’s part of life.  I can deal with that.

What I can’t deal with is some scum-sucking, anything to hock my book, asshole writer who suddenly thinks we’re best friends because she grew up within two hours of me  but now lives in goddamn California and thinks it’s totally fine to hijack what I hoped was a heartfelt piece about a great woman to sell her fucking book.

Not on my time, you soulless bitch.  I’ve seen some low shit in my time…really low shit.  But this ranks way up there for unbelievably unfeeling, insensitive, actions.  To not give a shit what the family’s going through who might read that tweet, never mind what I’m going through, to completely cast aside any concern for the family’s grief because, by God, she’s got books to sell, product to move.

And to presume–to fucking presume–that she might know what kind of book my aunt would have enjoyed…and then to play on my sympathy about it.  Oh, well, if Aunt Hannah might have enjoyed it, well, hell, she’s not around to read it anymore, but I better pick up a copy for myself and everyone else I know so I can hand them out at the fucking memorial service.  Maybe if I’m lucky, I can get Mary Fucking Firmin to autograph each copy and work in some droll witticism about Aunt Hannah for no extra cost.

To my regular readers, I’m sorry for all the invective here but I was furious when I started this and, as I get farther into it, the anger’s just growing.

So it’s likely better if I just stop here.

Just to let you know, I sent her back two responses.

The first was

@FirminMary Wow. Really? You read my tweet or blog about my aunt dying and you choose to use it to hock your book? Real fucking classy, lady

And the last one was

@FirminMary Congrats.  You’re my next blog.

Then I blocked her market-chasing ass.  Personally, I don’t give a shit whether she reads this or not, but Mary, if you do, I hope that tweet was worth it.  You’ve made the biggest enemy of your life, you piece of shit.

Hope you enjoy this little bit of press you drummed up.

And I hope–I fervently hope–that someday, when you lose someone close to you, someone comes along and tries to spin that into a way to market something to you too.

Fuck.

The whole world’s goin’ crazy

Yet another rant on the assholes that I’ve been unsuccessful in kicking off my planet.

Have you ever seen one of those potato guns?  They’re big, homemade contraptions that you can load up a potato as the projectile and get some ridiculous distance and damage with them.  Not far from where I live, there’s a place call Pingle’s Farm and they went one step better, vastly increasing the caliber of the barrel so they could stuff pumpkins and other assorted gourds into and blow them across a full acreage of farmland.

My goal is to go one better and increase the barrel size to fit at least one, but, for efficiency’s sake, preferably four or five humans.  The goal would be to accelerate them to escape velocity and fire their asses into deep space where they can’t be heard anymore.

Because we all know, in space, no one can hear you scream.  Or fart.  Or spout bullshit.

Let’s load up the first one, shall we?

Message of tolerance

Meet Jessica Ahlquist, a sixteen-year-old atheist.  I’m going to state right up front that I’m not the most religious person on the planet, nor am I against atheists.  I believe everyone has the right to choose their own religion.  I also believe in the right of free speech.

Apparently Ahlquist disagrees with me.  There’s a banner in her high school that reads

Our Heavenly Father,
Grant us each day the desire to do our best. To grow mentally and morally as well as physically. To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers. To be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School.
Amen.

This is a banner that’s hung there for 49 years.  But now Ahlquist has decided, it needs to come down.  It’s not right to read that.  In her own words, that it’s “almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good.”

Apparently a judge agrees with her, ruling the banner is “unconstitutional.”  Fantastic.  So now we have sixteen-year-olds deciding what’s good and what’s not for the entire school and judges backing them up.  Thanks, Jessica, thank God…oops, thank Nobody…(don’t take me to court, Jessica) that you came along to save those poor kids who shouldn’t be reading that horrible, awful message that’s destroyed 49 years’ worth of students that came before you.  Oh yeah, and you’re getting $40000 out of it (so far) too.

I get a kick out John Figdor from Harvard University who appears in the video and says, “We’re very proud of the message she’s making, which is a message of tolerance. [emphasis mine]”

This is a message of tolerance?  “I don’t believe in God, so I can’t tolerate the “Our Heavenly Father” and the “Amen” in the banner?  How about not looking at it?

Hopefully Jessica won’t notice the churches strewn through the town and decide that removal of the crosses is for our own good too.  You know, spreading her message of tolerance.

***UPDATE: It’s been (quite rightly) pointed out to me by a couple of people (thanks Gavy and Lisa) that my focus was off on this one.  They were right.  This isn’t about Free Speech.  What pisses me off is the fact that this went to court, that a kid’s profiting from it, when it could have been solved by pulling four words off. and changing it so it reads like a Mission Statement (it only takes the removal of two words and adding three):

We strive each day for the desire to do our best. To grow mentally and morally as well as physically. To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers. To be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School.

And here’s the thing…two people didn’t agree with me.  But we all approached it rationally and calmly and made our points.  No judges, no lawyers, no demonstrations.  I was corrected and I learned from it.

What did this sixteen-year-old learn?  What did her classmates learn?

Pedophile preacher can stay, kids get the boot

Sticking with the religion theme for a bit here, meet Darrell Gilyard of the Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.  Darrell’s the new pastor at the church.  Fantastic, right?

Well, Darrell’s got a bit of a history.  Turns out, between spreading the Word, Darrell tends to ignore his own preaching.  In 2009, he plead guilty to lewd conduct and lewd molestation of two underage girls.   Apparently when he was the pastor of another Baptist church, he molested a 15-year-old girl and sent a lewd text message to another.  Just the kind of guy you want acting as your morale and ethical leader, right?

Under the conditions of his plea agreement, Gilyard cannot have “unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old.”  Hmmm, that kind of poses a problem, considering the line of work he’s in.  So, what did the church decide?  He got out of prison last Dec 28 and was back to preaching by January.  And the church banned children from the services.

Well, yeah.  Makes total sense to me.  Give the dude with the short eyes the break and screw over the kids.  Because, you know, once you do some time in jail, those tendencies just fall away.  You never want to do them again.  Oh, wait, maybe you do, because they don’t want him near anyone under the age of 18.

And I can see this occurring everywhere.  You know, if you have, say, a teacher that is convicted of lewd conduct and lewd molestation of underaged boys or girls, you can still bring him back to teach.  Just ban the kids from attending his classes, right?

And before anyone busts me about hating on the Baptists…I don’t.  I hate on morons, whatever the race, colour, religion or sexual orientation, okay?

PayPal looks out for you…doesn’t that make you feel better?

Oh those wacky guys at PayPal with their crazy policies, huh?  On Saturday February 18, PayPal brought down the moral hammer on indie book publishers and distributors, threatening them with immediate deactivation of their accounts if they did not remove books containing certain sexual themes.  What themes?  Sexual fantasies that PayPal does not approve of, that’s what themes.

Let’s get specific, cuz sexual fantasies cover a wide range, don’t they?

Now granted, shit like child porn?  Yeah, you know what, let’s stay away from that crap, and PayPal includes a bunch of subjects that many would consider offensive or disturbing in real life.  Not sure where you come down on BDSM (Bondage, Submission, Sadism and Masochism).  It ain’t my cup of tea, but that’s just me.  Most of it is not illegal in North America.  Again, not judging here.  I mean, we have areas in North America where what two homosexuals would do when engaging in sex would be considered illegal.  So it’s a big stupid mess, but that’s not my point.  Here’s what is.

One of the things PayPal included was non-human fantasy creatures.  That means PayPal is demanding the removal of paranormal romance stories that include shape-shifters – if the shape-shifters were to have sex in their non-human forms.

Huh.  First of all, what happened to Free Speech?

Second, does that mean we have to recall all those Twilight books?  Yes, when Edward and Bella get it on, technically he’s in human form.  But technically, he’s also dead.  So that’s necrophilia, right?  That’s illegal.

Okay, so maybe there is and upside to this.

I’m kidding.  Seriously, what’s with everyone trying to spy on us and tell us what we can and cannot do in our own homes lately?

And speaking of spying on us…

Happiness is not a plastic gun

Meet Jessie Sansone, the poor bastard.  Jessie, unlike everyone else above, didn’t do anything wrong.  But just because he’s got a plastic dart gun in the house and a four-year-old daughter with some creativity, he went through hell.

His daughter drew a picture in school of her father with a gun and she told a teacher he was fighting the “monsters and bad guys.”  She’s four, folks.  Kids do that kind of thing.  This apparently “triggered fears that the family home contained a weapon that was a threat to the children.”

Let’s remember a couple of things here.  This is in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.  It’s perfectly legal to own a gun here.  Let’s also remember that the picture did not show the gun pointed at kids.  The girl did not in any way indicate that her father was threatening her or anyone else in her family.  Only bad guys and monsters.

So, the girl’s teacher at Forest Hill Public School was “concerned” by the drawing and called Family and Children’s Services, who assessed the case and called police. No one called the home.  No one talked to Jessie.  Instead, he went to pick up his kid from school and was met by three cops.  After being interviewed by police at the school, Sansone was handcuffed and taken to the police station in a cruiser, where he was strip-searched (because he might have hidden a gun up his ass before picking his daughter up) and held while the rest of his family was dragged to the station for questioning.

They also searched his house.  Without a warrant.  Then, then found the gun.  This one:

Pretty dangerous, huh?

God knows what they would have done to my mother when, in the span of two weeks when I was about six or seven, I draped a perfectly knotted hangman’s noose off our third floor balcony and, as a school project, built both a hangman’s platform with noose and trapdoor made out of twine and popsicle sticks, as well as a working guillotine with a razor blade as the cutting device and an stolen thimble as the basket for the head to fall into.

Has all sense become lost to us as a society?

I got shenked by Nate

Apparently I’ve been Shenked by Nate.  That is, Nate Shenk over at ShenkItUp who’s tagline is “Wanna get shenked?”.  He got nailed, so he’s passed this along like some sexually transmitted disease to me.  A real sick internet “hashtag you’re it!” sorta thing.

So…here’s apparently what I must do to get myself out of this mess…

  • I must post 11 things about myself.
  • Answer the questions asked by the tagger (Nate).
  • I must tag 11 other bloggers to continue the game.
  • Create 11 new questions for the bloggers I then tag to answer.
  • Inform each blogger that I have tagged them.
  • Post the rules for the tagged bloggers to follow.

Let’s see what damage I can do here, all right?

11 things about myself

  1. When I was little, I tended to plug up toilets with alarming regularity (pardon the pun).  Apparently that’s one gene I’ve managed to pass along to the Boy, which you can read about starting here.  Anyway, my mother tells the story of our family going out to a nice restaurant.  Luckily, we’d eaten before I asked to go to the washroom.  But my mother looked on in horror as I came back out of the restaurant, a seeping trail of water from the overflowing toilet flowing along behind me.  Apparently she paid the bill and got us out of there.  Pronto.
  2. When I was about four, we owned a gas station/restaurant.  One night, my black Lab, Dino (named after Dean Martin), was inside the gas station customer area and I was standing just outside.  Dino jumped up, both paws on the window of the aluminum door that separated us.  He wanted out, but me, being four, decided to play a game with him.  I tapped at the glass and he went back to standing, staring at me.  Then he jumped up again.  So I hit the window again.  Down he went again.  We continued to do this, with one slight difference each time.  Every time I hit the glass, I hit it a bit harder.  Until I put my entire right forearm through the glass.  45 years later, I still have the scar that runs from where my thumb meets my wrist then runs in a slow arc back to the middle of my forearm.  I probably should have gone to the hospital for stitches.  I don’t remember a hospital at all (though I’m sure I went there eventually).
  3. I was Tobin Higgins until I was legally adopted by my step-father around 1972, at which point I became Tobin Elliott.  And I gotta say, Tobin Higgins sounds freakishly foreign to me now.
  4. When I was ten, as I was bending down to pick up a baseball, my best friend, Jimmy Baldwin–completely unaware of what I was doing–was attempting to hit that same ball with a bat as hard as he could, golf style.  He did hit the ball, but the follow-through landed the bat straight into the space just below my nose, breaking one front tooth in half and pushing the other one backwards 90 degrees.  The lower part of the broken tooth tore a new hole through my lower lip, giving me a permanent Harrison Ford scar (really, they’re damn near identical).  It also sent cracks up the front of my skull.  The good news is, I lived.  Jimmy felt horrible, but I never held it against him.  Stupid accident.
  5. I have a sister I haven’t really talked to in 29 years, and a brother I haven’t really talked to (except for a massive blowout about a year ago) in 15 years.  I essentially consider myself an only child.
  6. I was the very horribly bad lead singer in a band called Chunka Fudge (from the 1984 Oh Henry chocolate bar commercial).  I think we practiced twice and played once.  And then we were done.  Trust me, the world is better without Chunka Fudge.
  7. I used to carry a bent fork in my jean jacket pocket.  Not really sure why…I remember I found it outside a restaurant and picked it up (can’t remember what the hell I was going to do with it), but I ended up taking it home, discovering it in a pocket, washing it, then folding it over where the business end met the handle, then tucking into my jean jacket pocket and buttoning down the top flap again.  All that was visible was the four tines.  Though I got a lot of questioning glances and a couple of “why?” questions, no one ever seemed concerned over it.  I wore that fork in the jacket for a solid five years.  I don’t know where it is now.  And no, I still don’t know why I did it.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.
  8. I’ve never really drank alcohol.  I think my sum total imbibing amounted to half a beer once.  There was a period when I was 17 or 18 that I kind of got bugged about it, so one weekend when we were camping, I finally relented, said, “Okay, gimme a beer.”  Everyone was excited.  I popped the cap, held the bottle by the neck and said, “Okay, you all ready?”  They agreed they were, smiles all around.  I turned the bottle 180 degrees and they watched the precious liquid spill into the thirsty dirt.  They never offered again.  When I left town for school, I would attend parties, and, just to stave off the explanations and hassle, I would just go into the kitchen, grab an empty bottle, pour some water in it, then walk around with it.  No one ever bugged me.
  9. I’ve never smoked or done drugs.  The closest was keeping a lit Colt cigarillo in my mouth to light firecrackers during a firecracker war.  But, like Bill Clinton, I never inhaled.
  10. Up until I moved away from Oshawa and to the small town of Barry’s Bay, ON, between grades 10 and 11, I was pathologically shy.  I typically had one friend and I was the guy that everyone picked on in school.  That all changed in Grade 11.
  11. Apparently I can do anything.  When I was about 20, I was horribly undecided about what I wanted to do with my life.  A wonderfully helpful woman at the Unemployment Office (now, in our politically correct times, is called the Employment Office) offered to run me through a battery of tests that would test my skills in language, math, comprehension, pattern recognition, manual dexterity and the like.  It took a full day, but, she assured me, it would help me narrow the field and determine what I was good at.  I don’t think I’ve seen the look before or since, but she looked chagrined when I came in for the results.  Turns out I was above average in all areas.  It didn’t eliminate anything.  I remember her saying, “Tobin, you could literally be a garbage man or a brain surgeon and everything in between.”  Fast forward twenty years to 2002 and I went through a different battery of tests for the company I work for, but they measured virtually all the same things except for manual dexterity.  Apparently I again scored in the top third percentile.  My director looked at me as said, “You are capable of doing anything you want.”  So why is it I still can’t I figure out what I want to be when I grow up?

Nate’s questions

1. What is your best response to people who criticize your writing?

“Nobody forced you to read it.”

2. What country (other than America) would you like to live in?

Well, I don’t live in America, I live in Canada, which really can’t be beat.  But if I could choose one other place?  Venice has captured my attention in recent years, though I’ve never been.  I’m gonna say Venice.

3. Do you think rap music should be considered music?

Sorry, “rap music” is an oxymoron for me.  Just ain’t my style, but neither is country, or whatever that shit that Celine Dion sings.

4. What TV show do you watch that you’re embarrassed to admit to?

I’m really not embarrassed to admit I watch anything, to be honest.  I don’t know…maybe something from my deep dark past?  Like…The StarLost?  The show that even Harlan Ellison removed his name from?

5. Would you rather be trapped on an island with Oprah, or Nancy Pelosi?

I’d take anyone over Oprah.

6. Do you believe that the world will end on December 21st? If so, what do you plan to do on December 20th?

No, I don’t.  But if I knew it would, I’d be buying up a whole lotta shit on that “don’t pay for one full year!” deal.

7. Most embarrassing moment that you’re no longer embarrassed about?

Wow…it’s pretty damn hard to embarrass me.  Maybe the time I got conned into walking around at a pool party interviewing the guests (I was maybe 22) while somebody videoed it.  As I started talking to a very pretty girl, someone finally sprung the trap…they yanked my bathing trunks down to my ankles.  On video.  What did I do?  Continued to ask her questions which she simply couldn’t answer.  When she walked away, then I pulled up the shorts.

8. Do you believe that the government should legalize marijuana? (hehe you don’t have to answer, I just wanted to mix things up a bit). If you don’t want to answer that, do you believe that the legal drinking age should go back to being 18? Or 16, like it is in Germany?

Yes to legalizing marijuana.  Legal drinking age?  How about some smarter rules around it, demystify it so it’s not such a gigantic act of rebellion?  We’ve let our kids drink in the house since they were fifteen.  The result?  The Boy couldn’t care less about it, and the Girl rarely drinks, and only in moderation.

9. What would be the first thing you purchased after winning $300 mil in the lotto?

A huge round the world trip for my family.  But I’d also have a little something waiting for me when I got back.  A 1963 split-window Corvette.

10. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say Lady Gaga?

That she puts the “gag” in Gaga.

11. How many siblings do you have? Would you of liked more, or less?

Answered above.  One brother, one sister.  I would have liked one of each with a lot more intelligence.

11 bloggers tagged to continue the game

The bloggers tagged who are now under sworn oath to do what I just did are as follows:

Pat from Nine Day Wonder

Noelle from Bound by the Word

Elizabeth from The Garden Gate (I got you before you got me…nyaah!)

Michael from Michael Lorenson (Mike, I’m doing you a favour by giving you daily blog material!)

Ruth from Ruth Ellen Parlour

Deepam from Deepam Wadds

William from Random Musings in Time

Jessa from The Terrible Secret of Space

Kevin from Kevin Craig

Notwriter from The Not Writer

UD from The Ongoing Adventures of the Undisciplined Writer (just cuz I haven’t seen a post from them in a loooooong time…proving she lives up to her title!)

Having said that, I know many bloggers hate these things…feel free to ignore if it will lead to panic attacks, stress, grey hairs, earthquakes, floods, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lowered sex-drive, baldness, or the beating of baby seals.

The 11 Questions for the Tagged Bloggers

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. What country (other than your current one) would you like to live in?
  3. Who’s the best band/artist in the world?
  4. If you could have a conversation with any three people, living or dead, who would you choose?
  5. In the course of your day, you hear a message from God (or your deity of choice) telling you to leave your job, family, and life and live as a fisherman (or woman) on the Nile.  There’s no doubt in your mind it’s truly God speaking to you.  Do you go?
  6. You have one week to live.  What do you do in the seven days left to you?
  7. Your deity of choice (and if you’re an athiest, just go with me here) is holding a Celestial Interview.  You’re allowed only one question to Him/Her.  What would it be?
  8. Has the Earth been visited by aliens?  Why or why not?
  9. You can have any occupation in the world.  What would it be?
  10. What’s the difference between an orange?
  11. Define the universe and give three examples.
    (okay, those last two are just me having fun, but go ahead and answer if you’ve got the cojones)

My baby girl’s gone

My daughter has moved out and is now on her own.  I know I’m one of millions of parents experiencing this right now, but I feel like I’m the only one.  It’s a bittersweet time for me.

I’ve talked about this in previous blogs, I know, but really this is one of the bigger events in my life (and one of the biggest in hers).  My daughter, my baby girl, is now on the path to being a responsible adult.

Over the years, I’ve watched her as she took her first, tentative steps, then learned to walk, then found that yellow brick road that turned into the information highway.  And now she takes a different road – the path of independence.

It’s hard for a parent to relinquish the reins of responsibility to someone you’ve looked after for so many years.  Part of me wants to wave to her and wish her good luck, trusting in all she’s learned, in all we’ve tried to teach and instill in her, but a bigger part of me wants to enfold her in my arms and hold on to her forever.  That’s the part that wonders how I’ll go on without her.  Yes, there’s still one more at home, three years away from his own journey, and somehow I think (but I don’t really believe) that I’ll be more prepared for it next time.

It’s a tough time to be a parent.  I don’t like this part at all, no matter how much I understand it’s a necessary part of life.

I’ve caught myself, over the past couple of months giving her words of wisdom.  Sometimes I think it was my last-ditch attempts to fill in any knowledge gaps that may be there, but more often it just seemed to come up naturally because of the new situations she was finding herself in.  What have I been telling her?

Go with your gut.  Having said that, I do feel the need to qualify it.  My daughter’s always shown extraordinary skill in making the right decisions.  She’s usually been able to objectively see the consequences of her actions.  I know many others don’t do that well in the decision-making department, but she’s been very good.  So I have no concerns with telling her to listen to her gut.  It’s never really lead her astray yet.

It’s okay to fail sometimes.  Nothing worth having comes easy and sometimes it doesn’t come at all.  But it doesn’t mean you ever give up trying.  When you fail, look at what happened, figure out what you did wrong, and try not to repeat it.  It doesn’t mean you won’t screw it up some other way next time, but that’s okay too.  As long as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll do fine.

Don’t ever settle.  Whether it’s a relationship or a job or anything, don’t settle.  Go for what you want or what you need.  Of course, you have to know your limitations so you don’t live above your means, so you don’t get yourself in over your head.  The thing to remember is: Good is the enemy of great.  That is, if you settle for good, you’ll never get to great.

Life isn’t like high school…thank God.  You’ve seen them, the cool ones, the superstars of high school, the ones everyone admired, either secretly or openly.  And while many will go on to successful lives, many others will soon realize they peaked at 17.  High school is a fishbowl.  Life is an ocean.  Trust me, you want to live in the ocean.

Not everyone will live up to your standards.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and it took someone else telling me.  I can still remember my director telling me that I had high standards for myself and that I tended to impart those same high standards on others, expecting them to perform at the level I wanted them to, instead of the level they wanted to.  She told me I “Tobinized” them.  It was a completely accurate observation and one I’ve never forgotten, though I’m still quilty of doing it quite often.  It’s a hard thing to look at someone else and realize they are quite happy to be mediocre.  It’s even harder to accept it.  But you have to.  Just like you have to accept that there are others you look at you and believe you are settling for mediocrity as well when compared to them.

Don’t sell your dreams for small desires.  Very much in line with the last one, and completely stolen from a lyric from Rush’s Subdivisions.

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

I don’t ever want my kids to wonder “what if?”  I want them to grab life in both hands and wrestle every last drop of satisfaction from it.  I don’t want to see them doing what I see some of their friends doing.  Having dreams and ambitions that get smaller and smaller over time until they’re just  a shadow of their former glory.  Again, I’ve seen my daughter set goals and achieve them, never settling for less.  I hope that never changes.

If you’re comfortable, you’re not learning.  A big one for me.  Everyone seems to strive to reach a point where they are comfortable, where everything just moves along at a nice, even pace.  If that’s the case, then there is no challenge, no learning happening.  And if that’s the case, it’s time to move on, because if you’re not learning, you’re not growing.  And if you’re not growing, you’re already dying.

No one has all the answers.  Not God, not Buddha.  Not Deepak Chopra, not Oprah.  Not Dr. Phil, not Charlie Sheen.  Not Bob Marley, not John Lennon.  Not you and not me.  You can learn a little from anyone, be it something that’s important to remember, or something that you don’t ever want to experience again.  No one gave me the instruction manual when it came to raising kids, but we did the best we could.  But we made a ton of mistakes along the way, and will continue to do so.  We as parents don’t know everything.  But I’ll give you all I know.

Sometimes you just have to learn it the hard way.  God knows I have.  And with every generation, there’s the burning need to figure out their own answers, rather than draw on the experience of those who came before.  While it can result in a lot more wasted time, sometimes it’s the best learning.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

When you’re young, you know it all and have all the answers (or a goodly portion of them), but as you get older, you understand how much you really don’t know.  That’s called maturity.  It can take a long time to get there.  Some never make it.  Stay away from them.

You’ll say you won’t do as your parents did, then you’ll end up doing it anyway.  Why?  Because we don’t have that instruction manual, and because sometimes it’s just the best way.  And I know, I know you often don’t understand why we did some of the things we did, or said the things we said, or made the decisions we made.  But someday, when you have kids of you’re own, I hope you’ll look back with a little more understanding.  And you’ll know we did it out of wanting to do right by you and we did it out of love.

Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.  You never eat a full meal all in one bite.  You cut it up and break it down into small, chewable chunks.  Do that for anything that seems overwhelming to you.  And don’t make them into even bigger issues by getting freaked out, because then you have to not only deal with the issue, but also with the freak-out.

Don’t let others get to you.  If you do, then you’ve given them the power.  You should always have the power over yourself, not someone else.

Do your best to be as honest as you can be.  You may not be able to be honest in everything, but strive for it as often as you can.  It makes things so much less complicated.

And so, my daughter starts out on the path that will allow her to determine her own future.  We’ve done what we can and now we’ll cut most of the strings.  Not all of them, never all of them.  But as we hugged her goodbye this afternoon, I was fine, completely fine, until she pulled back and looked at me with that sweet, beautiful face and those innocent yet knowing eyes.  And that’s when I felt a lot of those strings breaking.  And some of my heart with them.  That’s when I started to cry.  Didn’t want to do it in front of her, couldn’t help myself.

Okay, enough of the maudlin!

Madison, we’ll always be there for you.  If nothing else, know that we’re incredibly proud of you, we’re in awe of what you’ve accomplished so far, and that, above all else, we love you more than anything.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.

And baby?  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Because you’re gonna do great.

I love you, baby girl.