Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Embrace Life Not Work

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Nico (front) and Christopher relaxing after a day of summer camp. August 6, 2017.


August 8, 2017


I recline my driver car seat back to a relaxing position. However not too relaxing, As the pilot of this ship I don’t want to fall asleep on a 700-mile road trip. I have precious cargo onboard. I have worked my ass off the past 2 months. Time to start embracing life and not work.

I love road trips to escape from my normal reality. The long drive is my window of opportunity to delve into my imagination and explore my wildest dreams on the road map of my brain. I think, maybe my 85,000 word book goes viral, New York Times best seller! Or, I come into a lot of money and I can buy that new house I have been eyeing and I won't have to worry about the down payment. I can plan my future. I see a future tubing down the Chattahoochee River. Man is it good day to dream.

I pull my car away from the swale driveway and we are off. 10 mph, 20 mph, 50 mph. Merging on the highway the asphalt passes beneath the rubber tires while my car cruises 80 miles an hour on this long high way and we are on our way.

My car passes the slower vehicles. These drivers are on their own mission to an unknown destination. They are just blurs while I drive quickly out of this town. I hope life is taking them to the places they want to be, other than work, just like I'm doing now, as I embrace life.

I need a break from heartache and worry. Life is all about work, to make my ends meet, just to live life without worrying.  Bills, mortgage payment, car payment all life's expediters. Now is the time to cast the BS of work aside and have only my family near me and start new experiences. I don’t mind being known as that fictional dad Clark Giswold from National Lampoons movie Vacation. He just wanted to be the best dad who offered the best experience for his kids.

The road noise slightly hums inside my vehicle. The car pierces the air and whistle while it works its way to the Florida, Georgia line.  We are a missile traveling north through the state of Florida headed for the green mountains of Northern Georgia. I am the captain of this trip and I’m in control of when and where we will stop. Oh so I think. Of course I will be overridden by the Commander. She knows what is best.

“Hey look honey, Alligator petting zoo, lets stop!”

“No, keep going.”

“Henry’s Sloppy Joe’s oil based meat served on butter rolls. Lets stop and eat!”

“No, the only gas going on in this car is the gas we pour in it at a gas station.”

The green trees stay in place as my car drives by like a runaway locomotive on an endless train track. My car is slicing through a manmade path. Cows graze in the wide swaths of pastures that are laid before me like an endless bed comforter. The cows could be the dinosaurs that used to roam these parts well before mankind made a footprint. Instead of a Jurassic park moment living in a fantasy of my mind, I laugh at the idea of sticking my head our the window and yelling, “moo.”

"What are you laughing at," the commander asks.

"Speaking to cows on the road side who think I'm crazy and laugh at me as I drive by because I yelled, 'moo'. But only they stare at me, kind of how you are looking at me now."

I guess I should be more daring and go back to dinosaurs and killer snakes. However, there are no T-Rex’s or Velociraptors chasing me down only the Dodge Viper tailgating me. 

My car windows are an invisible force field. They take the brunt of the meteors that are showering the front window. They explode everywhere. I use the “zalphire window wipes” to clear the debris off so I can see outside.  

“Dad, what’s all that stuff on the window?”

“Those are meteors.”

“No they are not,” he laughs, "those are bugs!”

Yes the bugs explode over the windshield. Their little carcasses splatter and are left as little streaks when the windshield wipers glide over them. Those damn marks will never go away. It is as if they will forever be tattooed there like hash marks of airplanes on the side of an Air Force jet that the pilot marks on the fuselage marking numbers of aircrafts he has shot down.


I have 400 more miles to go on this trip to Georgia. Maybe I can convince the car load of zombies to stop at the deserted haunted amusement park. If I can't convince them to stop, well, that's okay because my life is good as long as I continue to embrace life and not work.


Hanging out at the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta, Ga. July 16, 2017.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Conversations with my Son

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Nico July 16, 2017. The Eye, Atlanta, Georgia.

August 3, 2017


He is amazing. My son Nico is a great kid. I was relieved when he was born because he had his ten fingers and ten toes. I cried before I even laid eyes on his 4 dimensional soul because the nurse discovered his heartbeat on the monitor moments before he was born via c-section. Unfortunately I can’t say that for my twin daughters, who I lost on their birthday. Once my anxiety subsided after hearing those sweet sounds of his beating heart amplify on the Doppler the pediatric nurse held, his mom and I cried, hard. I was finally going to be a dad.

When Nico was born at 6:45 P.M. I studied him and wondered, did he look like his mother or me? Actually, he looked like larva wrapped in a blanket.  Holding him in my arms is a moment I will never forget. Even now at his age of 9 years old he is forever the larva in my arms.

The one thing I long for is conversations with my son. I’m not ungrateful for his miracle life but as a father I want those types of conversations with him about his goals, and dreams in this life. I understand my son, completely. I know his personality through and through. Understanding his inner layers isn’t the problem because he and I can communicate on a level we both understand but verbal expression is difficult. Nico is on the low end of the spectrum where his brain doesn’t process the information the same as we "normal" people do. On the outside he is every bit a 9-year-old kid who is enjoying his long summer days away from school. But his brain neurons take time to grasp his fluid and dynamic environments and he may not fully grasp a situation he's in. As a parent I can feel as if I failed him. 

I have learned through trial and error that routines help him understand but I am fully aware he won't have a conversation about why we make changes. He has learned to go with the flow.  But his routines stabilize his environment but, not always his emotional understanding. Routines help him cope but not necessarily understand a stranger’s empathic tone. Routines can stabilize his life when uncertainty looms and he is frightened. And even if I think he's getting better he may be forever lost in a world that is a puzzle to him

Th great news is that Nico does have his own personality, which I know intimately. And everyday he gets better with growth and age. But I understand that a simple "no" can change his emotions and he won’t understand the explanation I give him as to why he or we can't do it. Or why we need to wait 15 minutes. Giving him a different meal can alter his attitude because he has his routine of food schedules. Cookies at 2 P.M. and cereal at 7 P.M. But on vacation he doesn't rely on those times. And we won't get those types of food all the time. Parents have to make those food decisions outside his normal routine so that his meals are healthy and balanced.

All this can lead to added stress for both parent and child.  But as his parent(s) I have to force him to learn due to him being in a society that won’t be so forgiving towards his lack of understanding. Children will find him weird and parents will secretly call him odd behind or back or think I'm a terrible parent when he loses his patience. Life is fast and he may not catch on quick enough in mainstream life even though he has been attending school at the age of 2 years old. I have to get him to think independently so that he can be successful in life. 

"I don't know if Nico will ever function on his own when his older," his teacher told me a few years ago. Those chilling words haunt me till this very day.

I removed him from his year round school routine and placed him and his little brother Christopher in winter, spring and summer camp. That forced Nico into the mainstream with other kids. So far he has assimilated and has learned to adapt with other kids who are "normal."

Nico excels in sports because I chose for him to learn in a group setting. And he reads really well due to the constant reading we do for him every night. And his little brother Christopher doesn’t go easy on him. He challenges him at every turn of this life. He's getting stronger and is a way above average swimmer. His vocabulary had really grown. Hard work by all is paying off.

Our conversations may be limited. But I have a silver lining, There is this legacy blog my boys can read when they’re older. There’s over 300,000 words in this blog based mainly on both their lives, adventures and dad's stories. We my be limited now but someday they will read these blogs and  forever have a conversation with me over their lifetime. Long after I'm gone.


Christopher and Captain Imperfecto chilling in dads police car. July 27, 2017.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tell Me Why

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The boys, Christopher (left) and Nico at an Archery lesson during the summer vacation at Unicoi State Park ,June 12. 2017 (10:51 AM) 

June 20, 2017

No parent should give into the demands of a 7 year old, ever. But my 7 year old has been so demanding about having his questions answered, as I recently found out on a 13-hour road trip to Northern Georgia, that I couldn’t avoid his inquisition and ignore answering anything that crossed his mind.

Christopher pushes me for information about anything that pops into his mind. I cannot answer all of his questions in a timely fashion while he rapid fires them at me like hellfire missiles and he becomes frustrated.

“Tell me, dad. Why aren’t you telling me? Tell me now, why, why!”

Today he knows he has me captive while I drove our rented 2017 Nissan Rouge towards the mountains of Georgia leaving the flat land of Florida behind us. When you live in a beach environment all your life a little elevation is good for the soul. Just like in the winter when we chase the cold weather to escape the constant Florida heat. This is the Sunshine State? Hell no. It’s more like the Summer State, as in, all year round summertime weather.

One hundred miles into the 700-mile trip Christopher’s questions began to come at me with little reason other than wanting to know why we have to drive on asphalt and who created asphalt and who put the asphalt down so the car can drive on it. And where does asphalt come from.

He questioned me like a defense attorney would a witness for the prosecution who was called by the prosecution to testify against their client. He was relentless like Perry Mason and as quick on his feet as Judge Judy.

“Dad, why is the sky blue? Tell me dad.”

“Well..”

“Tell me now, why, dad, why?”

“Because blue prism is scattered through out the sky by air molecules.”

“Oh, I don’t know what you are saying. Dad.”

“Dad why are we going 75 miles per hour?”

“Well, if I wasn’t with the family I would probably be doing 90.”

“That is not nice dad. Don’t speed.”

“Dad, Why do you have tiny hair?”

“Because I have no hair and grateful for whatever crops up from my head.”

We are all traveling almost in a straight line across the state of Florida. The road will slightly turn left and head straight for the Georgia line. We’ll ride that angle up through Atlanta and 2 hours further north into White County and the foothills of the mountains by Chattahoochee National Forest. There is no road less traveled on I-75. You could get lost traveling off its path. And there isn’t and not much scenery to take in to cure the boredom from the constant sight of dark green foliage that raises like a wall 40 feet towards the sky. I guess deep down I welcomed his questions.

“Tell me why you don’t have your foot on the gas pedal?”

“Dad, tell me, tell me now, why can’t dogs talk?”

“Dad…

dad.

Dad.

Tell me…

Tell my now, why, why dad…

Why dad.

Dad.”

Interacting with him made the time go by quickly and before I knew it we had arrived in Helen, Georgia. The 13 hours went through our question and answer sessions with brief pauses as he fell asleep. Which was good because I was allowed to get lost in my own hopes and dreams and question myself about who I was and how I got here in my life. This assessment usually occurs after every one of my birthdays. And my birthday was just the day before we left for this vacation. With Christopher asleep, my better half a sleep and Nico consumed with his phone I took on the open road by myself.

I didn’t plan well for this trip. I wasn’t quite sure what we would do to fill in the 8 days we would be in the mountains. I thought I would just play it by ear and let the activities fill in the empty moments as I planned daily activities on the fly. I probably should have just given my youngest son the phone numbers of the activity centers and had him call for me.

“Yes, why do you have zip lining and what is a zip line exactly? It is like my jacket. I zip up my pants. Is that what we do all day. My daddy couldn’t zip up the luggage. Boy was that a sight to see.”

“How old are your horses and can they hold my dad?  He is pretty big and I feel bad for the horse.”

“Why do the inner tubes float on top of the river, tell me, tell me now.”

“Why is it called a four runner when there is a motor and we drive it rather the run with our legs. I don’t know these things, tell me why.”

He could have really helped me out with the planning of this trip!

I will have to delegate my workload to him more often. I thought I was the only one who had a story to tell you but a hotel guest who had a room to the west of our room left a review about us on the hotel website. I thought I would share with you what he thought about us.

“Next to us (connecting) had very noisy children, after 10:30pm I yelled through the connecting door and eventually they quieted down. The next morning I complained at the desk and Adam was very helpful and changed our room. This is really not the motel's fault- more the crass, uncaring parents (sic). And for God sakes, someone asked to many questions. Why, why, why… someone get that kid Google.”

Sir, my son, Christopher, the youngest, would like to respond to this.

“Why do you think my parents don’t care?”
“Why would you yell so loud? My dad does that enough."
“My dad is not insensitive. I have seen him cry.”
“My dad cares a lot, why would you think he doesn’t care? Tell me, why, why. Tell me now.”


The questions are not going to stop those 2 kids will have a lifetime worth. Hell, I am grateful I can still call my dad and ask him my own questions.


I will never deny my children the search for answers in life. All of us search for a meaning to life’s mystery’s I just wish I could get answers to my questions! Maybe I will rapid-fire questions just as my son does on our 13 hour car ride home, I will finally get some answers.





Captain Imperfecto 4 wheeling it at Sunburst Adventures on July 13, 2017 (3:51 PM)

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Don't Look Back

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Nico (left) and Christopher having ballon animals made table side at dinner. Can you tell what they are? (June 21, 2017)


June 21, 2017

“A little voice inside my head said: Don’t look back. You can never look back”

                                                                                              Don Henley, Boys of Summer

I think I’m better off when I don’t look back at some of the bad things that has occurred in my life. What good can come from looking back on horrific moments that brought the worst in me? The moments that make me most sad? Especially, when I have already proven to myself that I can survive and gained character and perseverance.

So I learned: move on, right?

This advice is easier said than done but when I didn’t get a lateral promotion and my boss say’s, “well we are challenged in these moments to look at ourselves and realize where we are and move forward. It will build you character.”

I told him, “coming back to work after I buried my wife and kids built my character. Not this pity stuff.”

I guess looking back now on that comment makes me sound sour. I should have just looked forward.

I would rather look forward. Take the high road and bypass the entire BS below me. I mean, that is the correct way at looking at it.

The future is brighter when I’m looking forward.

“I look forward to my weekend off “

“I look forward to my family trip somewhere on a beach or near an ocean. A trip to the mountains to play in the snow.”

“I look forward to getting paid.”

Not, “man I wish I was paid again. Remember just last week. I got paid? Looking back on it now I realize how happy I was then.”

No, not really.

Nothing good comes out of leaving a tropical paradise and then looking back at it months later and wishing I could go back to that moment. Nah, I’d rather look forward to the next trip.

When the snow melts I'd rather not remember how beautiful christmas was surrounded by snow but rather how I look forward to playing in the snow again. 

Looking back won’t resolve my pain that I still hold deep within myself from losses and other headaches in my life. I would rather grow from it and move on and look ahead.

“Lessons learned. Time to do something great!”

I don’t have to pretend my past does not exist. Looking forward and understanding why I still exist is much better then the pain of the past and asking myself, "why do I have to endure so much shit in this life."

I prefer a future. A fun future, a future with my kids and doing stuff that we enjoy doing.

Although my past contains emotional pain peppered with little reminders that will always be there I know that no one will care more than me on how well I live my life.  And I have developed a coping mechanism to deal with the baggage my memory unloads on me when I have a moment to actually think about the crap that has gone down in my life when I do look back and reflect.


But my advice will always be, " don’t look back, you can never look back."

The memories will always be there but just because they are there doesn’t mean we have to relive them. Look forward to tomorrow. You are only a paycheck or, vacation, or day off away from happiness.



In the work car. In work mode. (May 31, 2017)


© copyright 2017. Captain Imperfecto, LLC. All rights reserved.