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Archive for May, 2012

So, I am about to talk about something that many of you will disagree with, as a matter of fact, all of my readers may disagree with what I am about to say.  However, make no mistake, I am right, I am correct, and the rest of you are wrong.  You might even dislike me for the following words, but I am OK with that, because sometimes the truth hurts.

Yesterday, I spent about an hour at my son’s preschool graduation ceremony.  Guess what?  Preschool should NOT have a graduation ceremony.  What did he have to do to graduate?  Not pee in his pants?  Although it is awesome that he no longer pisses his pants, but diploma worthy?  I don’t think so.  How about coloring in between the lines?  Able to use a spoon and fork without assistance?  Oh, here is one, he grew.  That’s right, I present this diploma to you, my son, for growing.  Good job.

Do you know when a diploma is worthy?  When there is an actual chance that you may not succeed in earning one.  For example, not everyone graduates high school.  Not everyone has a bachelor’s degree.  I am on the edge with middle school, but I will allow it.  If you are reading this right now and you are a preschool dropout, my bad, but still, no diploma for you even if you decide to go back and work towards your missing credits in “Using the potty like a big boy 101”.  My older son verbally stated his disdain for such an event at dinner.  He was severely rebuked by his step-mom for such derogatory statements towards his brother’s moment, and rightfully so.  I will have to teach him how to support our family members and only speak poorly of their accomplishments in blog form.  And even then it is only OK when the family member can’t read, so I am OK.  Don’t worry, my oldest son will get to see the highlight reel when we rewatch the edited ceremony on DVD.  Editing provided by dad, cutting out the 50 minutes of useless drivel that I hat to sit through, but well within the fatherly duties.  To all of my buddies about to be dads in the near future, they didn’t put that in the daddy brochure, did they?  Welcome to a fraternity with very low standards and high expectations.

Was I happy for my son?  Of course I was and I hope my words made him feel very special, because he is special.  Was I proud?  Of course not!  Was I to be proud of his ability to sit in a chair, sing way too many stupid songs, and walk 10 feet to pick up a fake diploma without dropping it?  I just don’t get it.  Have we gone too far in the celebration of our kids and everything they do?  When does it end?  This is beyond everyone getting participation ribbons, this is raising the bar on mediocrity and everyone is a winner.

Also, the ceremony had a long-winded speech by the director.  Here is a little lesson for everyone that may one day be involved in planning a graduation ceremony.  Now, pay attention, and do not miss the following words.  NO ONE IS HERE FOR YOU!!!  Showcase my kid, and let me leave.  As a professor, I have been to my fair share of graduation ceremonies.  Here is what is necessary, 1. Welcome  2.  Thanks to Faculty and Staff  3.  Student Speaker (five-minute limit) 4.  An invited speaker, but only if the speaker is Oprah, a funny comedian like Chris Rock, the President of the United States, or a classical reading of ‘ Oh the Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss.  Otherwise, NO invited speaker.  No one cares. 5.  Reading of student names.  NOTE: If this process takes longer than 30 minutes, the graduating class should be divided up, period.  And that’s it, done.  I say the ceremony will last an hour, tops.  SIDE NOTE:  Did you know that I was the student speaker at my graduating ceremony?  True story.  I have no memory of what I talked about and that is how important it was.

Bottom line:  Preschool graduation is stupid.  There, I said it.  It’s not that my son does not deserve recognition, but it isn’t for attending a day care for four years.  You know what makes my son great?  He has no fear and will try anything and succeed in most things beyond his age.  He is well-behaved.  He has a personality that will OWN a room.  Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen everyone bend over backwards to please a four-year-old?  I have.  He will either grow up to be President or car salesman, right now it is a toss-up.  He is doing well with his numbers and letters.  He is kind and helpful.  His intelligence has no limit and he can hit a baseball two houses down.  I am willing to give him a medal in awesomeness, but as far as I am concern, he must wait until at least the end of 8th grade to get his first real diploma.

PS – If you will be attending a graduation ceremony in the near future, I dare you to tell me I am wrong about what needs and does not need to be in a graduation ceremony.

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I spent almost two hours watching a middle school talent show last week.  Again, not in the daddy brochure.  It was mostly brutal, but my son played violin in front of a crowd of about 200, maybe more.  He did great.  I could not be prouder of him and his accomplishment.  Forty-one kids tried out for the show, but only 17 were selected.  He was the best instrumentalist in the whole show.  Unfortunately, he did not win first place in the instrumental category.  Clearly, it’s all political.  I’m just sayin …

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So, you might be surprised to learn that I talk to myself.  I don’t talk to myself in the way you might think.  For example, some people I know talk out loud as if someone else is there, but no one is there.  I find it kind of spooky when I run into that.  Imagine walking into the house and hearing someone speaking to someone else, but you find that there is no one else in the room or the house.  Who are they talking to?  And why does it sound so natural for them to be carrying on a conversation with the air?

No, I talk to myself in my mind.  As a matter of fact, I have full-on conversations in my mind.  Sometimes I can make myself angry because of what someone in my mind says.  Here is how it works:  In my department, about 20 of us, we have weekly meetings.  I might imagine a departmental meeting in my mind.  I will create a subject, and everyone will speak and react the way I think they would in real life.  Sometimes I do this in preparation of an upcoming meeting, but other times it is random.  The funny thing is, I have always done this, ever since I was a little kid.  The only difference between now and when I was a little kid is that my lips would move as I imagined conversations in my head.  I think many people, especially my family found this to be annoying.  Imagine seeing some kid’s lips moving as if he is talking to someone, but no sound is coming out of his mouth.  You might find that weirder than the out-loud conversation described above.  Now when I talk in my mind I am better at NOT moving my mouth.

Why am I writing about this?  I don’t know really, other than the fact that I got really mad this morning because of what someone said in my head.  It took a moment to realize that the person was a figment of my imagination and I really did not have a good reason to be angry.  After all, it was just in my own mind.

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No funny ending today, but a friend of mine did say something to me in a discussion about students and their work towards graduation that I hope to always remember:  “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have it any way you want it.”  I like that.  I’m just sayin’ …

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—This blog is dedicated to the newlyweds, Rob and Rick.  Thanks for letting me publish this blog.—

So, as I mentioned in my last blog, I was at a wedding in New York.  My buddy, Rob got married to his long time partner, Rick.  It was my first gay wedding.  I thought about hiding that fact till the end of the blog and even giving the blog a different title.  I would have started the blog talking about my friend’s wedding, describing all the details of the ceremony, and then ending with, oh by the way, the wedding had two grooms.  I had it all mapped out, and of course it was brilliant.  However, I have decided to go a different direction.  I don’t want to bury the headline, but lead off with it, and talk about issue head on.

As it was my first gay wedding, I wondered what would be different about it.  For example, will one groom wait at the front of the church, while the other one walked down the aisle?  If so, would the music begin and everyone stand up as the groom entered the church?  Would it be at a church? Would both grooms look alike, or would one stand out as different?  What would the pronouncement be?  Man and man?  Husband and husband?  Or just married?  What would the official and law binding statement be? (I did not learn the answer to this question until the next day)  And what would the reception be like?  I assumed there would be dancing.  I wouldn’t think two gay men could get married without dancing.  Regardless of your opinion about this subject, THAT would be wrong.  Would there be any flamboyantly gay men there?  Would there be at least one black gay guy?  Hopefully his name would be Longinus or DeVon, spelled DEE-VAWN.  And would I be disappointed if there weren’t at least one flamboyant gay person there?  Would there be a first dance?  And who gives away the groom?  Yes, I had a lot of questions, and every single one of them was answered.  First, a little background:

I met Rob in graduate school at the University of Kansas.  I knew him before he came out as a homosexual.  I was even aware of a few dates he went on with women.  I later learned that he was still in his “discovery” phase of knowing himself.  I would not say that I knew him well, during this phase.  Quite frankly, I don’t feel we truly became friends until he came out to me.  We were having lunch together, and he told met that he needed to tell me a story.  I don’t remember the story, not even a little bit, but I do remember that in order for the story to make sense, Rob had to be gay.  I also remember asking him why did he decide to tell me that he was gay.  And his response was, that fact was crucial to the story.  I said OK.  In my opinion, that was the first day of our friendship.  Since then, we have travelled across country together, we have camped together, we have roomed together at conferences, and we have made an effort to spend time together almost every year.  Leah and I have visited him and Rick in New York and it is an honor and a joy to be his friend.  So, last year, when he described his proposal to Rick and the upcoming wedding, there was no doubt in my mind that I (and if possible, Leah) would be there.  Unfortunately, Leah could not make it.  I am sure we will visit them later, as I am a much bigger fan of New York than I have ever been (more on this later).

Prior to leaving for the wedding, Leah had an interaction with a friend that surprised me.  Her friend made it clear that she was clearly against gay marriage.  She is religious, and knew that we are Christians and assumed that we would not attend the wedding.  Leah of course informed her that I was, and she would too if we could have worked it out.  Apparently, it turned into a heated discussion.  So much so they had to talk it out the next day to make sure that their friendship was not destroyed.  Luckily, it had not been.  But they clearly had run into the first topic where they must agree to disagree.  This concept of God and gay marriage fascinates me and lead to my biggest surprise about my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was surprisingly traditional.  It was held in a beautiful church.  The Episcopal priest did an excellent job.  Rob and Rick walked in together with their mothers.  That was the burning question on my mind at the start of the service.  Rick had purple shoes, which was really the only unique difference between the two.  I will say the shoes were fabulous.  I loved them.  Hymns were sung, prayers were given, and we received a short homily (sermon).  God was clearly invited to bless this union.  And this fascinated me.  Would anyone have been surprised if God was left out of this service?  You would not have to search long to find people who believe in God working very hard to prevent such unions.  It is a subject of great political debate.  Many people have held signs, protested, and fought to make it illegal for gay couples to get married legally.  And in most cases, the argument has been God’s decree that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman.  And yet, there I was, watching a man and a man get married, legally, with what I can only assume was no accident, a traditional, God-invited wedding.  Two people who could have actively rejected God and all He had to offer, actually inviting him to be present.

The subject of God even came up in the car as we drove to the reception.  It made me wonder if God was discussed in other cars as well.  It also made me wonder, what was a more positive message of God’s love, this wedding with two grooms, or the protests and opposition preached in churches across the land against gay marriage?

The mayor was at the wedding, which I thought was odd.  Later, I discovered that it was he that pronounced them legally married in the state of New York.  I think this had more to do with the church, but I am not exactly sure.  I meant to ask, but never got around to it.  (After Rob read this blog, he offered to tell me, but I have not talked with him other than texts prior to publishing this blog.  Sorry, it will have to remain a mystery to my readers until I call Rob) Possibly the Episcopal Church has not resolved their guidelines for gay marriage considering the new state law.  Oh, by the way, I am almost forgot; the mayor was wearing a kilt.  The church was called the Episcopal Church of St. Mary in the Highlands, which made me wonder if the whole town had major connections to the Church of England.  It does.  I also wondered if the mayor was wearing a kilt traditionally, i.e., going commando.  What I could say about a kilt, going commando and a gay wedding is just too much, so I will stop here.

After the service, we headed to the reception location.  It was at a very nice old house/inn.  Appetizers were ready immediately, which was nice, but almost too much food.  I had to monitor myself, as I would not have been hungry for dinner.  Also, the two best words in any wedding, “open bar”.  Dinner was nice, and it was fun to see friends that I have not seen since getting my PhD.  Also, there was a lot of dancing.  And of course, the required playing of “It’s Raining Men”.  Quite frankly, I would have been disappointed if I did not hear this song.  the funny thing is, this is the only song that guys did not jump on the dance floor first.  As a matter of fact, no one moved until a bunch of women jumped on to the dance floor and started dancing.  It was almost if the gay men in the audience felt that they did not want to be a stereotype.  I think it would be like me going to a buffet and avoiding the fried chicken until last.  It’s not that I don’t love fried chicken, I just don’t want to appear to be a stereotype.  And I certainly would not put watermelon and fried chicken on my plate at the same time.

There was only one flamboyantly gay person at the wedding, at least in my opinion.  He reminded me of Cam on Modern family or Nathan Lane’s character in The Birdcage.  No black gay guys (sad clown) and I don’t know if anyone was named Longinus.  The dancing was great, and quite frankly, the most dramatic dancer was the DJ.  An odd fellow, who was having a lot of fun, perhaps too much fun.  He clearly was dancing to the beat in his own head.  It brought me joy.

No throwing of bouquet or garter.  The group was divided into single men and women and the grooms threw books.  Not the best idea.  One woman got smacked in the head with a book.  I thought it was funny, but I also thought, this is why the traditional throwing of the book will never take off.

All in all, a great wedding.  I wish the best of luck to Rick and Rob.  I love you guys and may God Bless your marriage.  People may have a problem with this last statement, but that is their problem, not yours.  I also learned a very important lesson:  When I think about how people discuss homosexuals in politics and religion, it makes me understand why so many people are against the church.  After the wedding, it got me thinking, maybe a lot of people are rejecting God’s people and not God.

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I spent a little bit of time exploring upstate New York.  Not really exploring as much as taking the long way back to the airport.  Here is what I learned:  New York is GORGEOUS!  I mean BEAUTIFUL.  I have been to New York several times, but never out of the city.  I had no idea.  This may be the most beautiful state I have ever seen.  This may be the biggest secret in the United States.  And I just told you.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am sick.  I have been sick for the last few days.  I have been self-medicating with non-stop drugs while at a wedding in New York just so I could be present for my friend’s celebration (more on the wedding later, as it is blog worthy).  I feel like my body is finally saying, “The wedding is over, you are back home, let’s be sick.”  And that is what I am, sick.

I have been laying in my bed for the last couple of hours.  Our bedroom is on the second floor of an open cape cod house.  You can’t hear everything from our bedroom, but you can hear a lot.  Here is what I heard:  Based on the various metal clinks, my wife was eating dinner by herself at the kitchen table.  My best guess is that getting three kids fed did not afford her the time necessary to satisfy her hunger needs.  So, she was eating in the kitchen, and the three kids were in the family room.

Brett was telling his brother and sister a story.  I could not hear the exact words of the story.  As a matter of fact, I have no idea what the story was about.  What I can tell you is that close to every two minutes, Isaac and Violet would laugh hysterically.  They were laughing hard.  The kind of laughing that forced each kid to jump up and down and you could tell that they could not stop laughing if they tried.  Then, silence, as Brett continued his story.  Once again, I could hear the metal clink of silverware as Leah ate in the kitchen.  And then, hysterical, uncontrollable laughter, but this time, one child must run around the house in a circle because of their laughter.  I have no idea what the story was about, but I do know one thing:  According to Isaac and Violet, Brett is a comedy story-telling genius.

This is one of the few advantages of having three kids, especially when the oldest is old enough to give you a parenting break.  I would love to tell you that it is due to our awesome parenting skills that has afforded us this older sibling luxury, but that would not be true.  Here is how I remember it:  Isaac is done eating.  He wants to play.  He asks his mother to play, but she is not done eating and tells him to wait.  Isaac asks me to play, but I too am not done eating, and then I say, “Why don’t you ask your brother if he will play with you.”  He does.  Brett says no.  I go talk to Brett, “Come on man!”  And the rest is history.  Later, push Violet towards them and point out how much more fun she would have playing with them, then sitting on her parents’ lap.  Add a dash of being purposely extra slow eaters, and you got yourself an after dinner break.  Many times, Leah and I actually talk to each other while we eat and the kids play.  It’s awesome!  Don’t judge us.  Unless you have kids, you don’t understand.  Besides, we are building Brett’s character.

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You know why the kids were being entertained by Brett rather than TV?  No, it is not because we are progressive parents.  Someone lost the remote.  To encourage finding the remote, Leah stated that no one watches TV till the remote is found.  I guess Brett’s love of TV is overshadowed by his hatred of actually looking for stuff.  You got to give my son credit.  Telling a story that makes a one and a half-year old girl and a five-year old boy laugh uncontrollably truly is genius.  He has made one fatal error though; he is very good at entertaining those kids.  He couldn’t get out of giving us a break if he tried, and it’s only going to get worse.  I’m just sayin’ …

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