Saturday, November 26, 2011

Silent Nights


It's a double-edged sword.

True there's no fighting or blaming or yelling.

But there's also no giggles, no jokes, no belly laughs.

Life as a single co-parent can be so bittersweet.

You have the time for yourself you never had before when married and in a family unit.

And you also have nights where you have no idea what your children are up to or where they are.

Tonight, what is supposed to be a night with kids, has turned kidless. The mini-me's are with their mom at a hip-hop dance show, or something like that.

My first thought was "what a perfect night to just have a quiet night watching some college football, sipping a beer, and enjoying a peaceful house."

But as the minutes tick by, the more lonely I feel.

No Gman asking me if he can use the computer yet. "The answer is still no!"

No Nile begging for a ride to the YMCA so he can play pickup basketball with his buddies. "Okay, Grady, you can use the computer while I'm driving your brother to play basketball."

Just me. And my stupid cat.

The silence is beautiful. And sad.

You find things to distract you from the sad silence. Read. Watch a movie. Nap. Write a blog.

Then you remember that you'll see them tomorrow. And you take a deep breath. It will be okay.

But one thing being a single half-time parent does makes you cherish the moments you have with those little poops before you blink and they're not-so-little poops.

Good silence. Bad silence. Peace with inner chaos.

Be safe, my sons. I will see you tomorrow!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for the Little Things...

Every year I seem to write a Thanksgiving blog entry where I cover all the things I'm thankful for in my life.

Since I'm doing 30 Days of Thankfulness on Facebook this year, this seems to be overkill, so I thought this year instead, I'd find the little things I'm thankful for.

1. Dimples. Holy crap am I thankful for those.

2. Summit India Pale Ale. Nectar of the Gods, I say.

3. Country music (and for letting me pretend to be a redneck).

4. Mac and Cheese Lasagna (with bacon in it of course).

5. Ranch Dressing. I mean seriously, there's no better condiment on Earth.

6. My car (when it is working properly). Living without it is basically impossible.

7. My Grinnell College buddies (though they're not technically "little").

8. Cool people who like to laugh, as opposed to mean people who like to complain.

9. Reese's Peanut Butter cups. 'Nuf said.

10. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Just kidding...making sure you're actually reading this).

11. College football...not JUST my Hawkeyes.

12. Coffee (and make it simple, I like my coffee like I like my men - hot, black, rich and bitter - wait, what?)

13. Swimsuits manufactured by Speedo that go all the way down to the knee (allowing me to return to the pool for the first time in 20 some years).

14. Summertime. Give me 90s and humidity any day of the year!

15. Jerry's Pizza. Nothing better on this planet. Nothing!

16. La Juanita's Burritos. (See 15, the only thing better on this planet).

17. The Interwebz, for giving me something to do to waste time that doesn't require TV, so it makes it better, right? Right?

18. Cheeseburgers. The best complementary meal with an India Summit Pale Ale.

19. Grace Potter's legs.

20. Every single person who reads my blog on a regular basis.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone, to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bah, Humbug!

I will not apologize for being a scrooge.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas.

Love it!

I mean, "It's a Wonderful Life" is my favorite movie of all time.

But this year, I'm not feeling it.

Maybe because we aren't even to Thanksgiving yet? Call me crazy.

My store switched over to our Holiday theme on Nov. 1.

I may or may not have procrastinated a few days on that.

The mall put up the 30 foot Christmas tree last week, giving yet another target for drunk patrons of Toby Keith's to vomit.

Every light post in a four block radius is adorned with fake holly and red ribbons.

And of course, the PA system that usually plays generic "soft hip hop, jazz and soothing soul" now features "soft hip hop, jazz, and soothing soul renditions of the Christmas holiday standbys."

Maybe I'm just turning into a grumpy old man in my 40's.

Just a few short years away from "GET OFF MY LAWN YOU PUNKS!"

But really?

The day after Halloween has suddenly become the new "Beginning of the Holiday Season," otherwise known as "Oh shit...the economy is hurting, we need to stretch out the retail season and see if people start spending more money again!"

And from both running a retail store and before that years of working in marketing, I understand the need to come up with new ways to get people into your store and buying.

But I don't think it has to come at the expense of stretching out what was already a "way too long" holiday season.

Let's finish cleaning up the dishes from the Thanksgiving meal and taking our long snoozes on couches and lazyboys before we deck the halls, huh?

And for the retailers who have decided to begin their "Black Friday" sales on Thursday evening, well, I seriously hope the execs who signed off on this idea are there in those stores on Thursday instead of home with their families.

I'll be unlocking the doors at my store at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. Which means I'll be leaving my family's Thanksgiving dinner in Sioux Falls and driving home that night. It's part of the job, I know.

Just don't make me have to deal with an extended holiday season on top of that.

But if the trend continues, don't be surprised if I don't start promoting a Valentine's Day Surf and Turf Combo at my store beginning Jan. 1.

And don't forget to stock up on your 4th of July picnic needs while you're here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Say it Ain't So JoePa!

This world needs more heroes.

More living legends.

People who do things the right way, and succeed.

Until this week, Penn State head football coach was one of them.

I've had a connection to JoePa since childhood, when my oldest brother went to a Penn State-Iowa game with my parents and middle brother, and started rooting for Penn State by halftime.

Despite the rivalry between PSU and my Hawkeyes once they joined the BigTen, I still always had nothing but respect for JoePa and the way that he did things. The right way. And he succeeded.

JoePa was always about making sure that his student-athletes were taken care of. He always wanted to make sure they were protected from the pressures and demands of the high dollar world of college football.

He oozed integrity both on and off the field.

So it is a very sad thing to watch the demise of this legend, in particular given the fact that it wouldn't have taken much for him to avoid this horrible mess.

Let's look at it this way.

Imagine one of my employees walks into my store and finds another one of my employees doing unthinkable acts with a 10-year-old boy.

Now let's say the employee who witnessed it then came to me to report what they saw.

I could report the event to my boss, and probably cover myself from the legal/liability standpoint.

And if my boss didn't do anything about it, and the employee remained at my store, I'd again be ok from the legal/liability standpoint.

But I could NOT, in my right mind, stand by and let something like this happened. I'd be reporting it to the police as quickly as possible, and I'd make sure that the employee was never allowed anywhere near my store.

It's not rocket science.

And the timing of the release of the grand jury investigation could not have been any more suspicious. Just one week after JoePa broke the record for most wins by an NCAA Division IA football coach with his 409th victory, the story breaks.

So JoePa needs to do the right thing. Step down with the dignity you have left. For your program. For the kids on your current team who had nothing to do with this atrocity. For the game of college football.

Because if he digs in his heels and fights this, he'll do nothing but destroy the last bit of respect he has for doing things the right way 99 percent of the time during his 46 year tenure as head coach.

You had a good run, Joe. Please don't make it worse. It's time to ride off into the sunset and enjoy your retirement.