Saturday, April 30, 2022

Journey

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Nico and Christopher Easter day April 17, 2022.


April 30, 2022


I was standing in the long line at an Easter festival with 2 of my 4 children. The line was for a bounce house. It seemed like an endless journey just for them to experience 30 seconds of enjoyment while I endured 30 minutes of hell trying to keep them preoccupied until it was their turn to enter the inflatable house.

A DJ was streaming music to the right of us. He was trying to make announcements about the current events going on elsewhere in the ball fields but he was drowned out by his own music and lack of conviction in his voice. The kids were littered everywhere like Easter eggs we would later hunt. It was sure to be a continuous madhouse throughout the day.

Such is life as a parent.

These rides and games were a staging area to placate the children until it was their age groups turn to hunt for Easter eggs in adjourning field. It was a wild scene all around me as the toddlers and young children thumbed their noses at their parents while running around like wild horses in green pastures. Us parents firmly in place at our current position not daring to move thus losing our spot.

My baby boys hung on me like monkey bars attached to a jungle gym. I guess there are worse perils for a big guy like me. My first son climbed me like a wild tree climbing animal until he could mount himself on top of my shoulders like a sassy house cat. My second son clung to my leg like a greenpeace activist who was hugging a tree. He cried and carried-on because he wanted to sit on my shoulders as well but the idea of trying to explain the concept of one at a time was not going to work. So to be fair, I’d rotate them so I could appease the child mob. One up. Then down.  It was a constant rotation.

The line nudged forward. I would take 2 steps. Stop. Wait. Carry. Drag. Placate. Repeat. And so it went. 

Moms and dads have to have helicopter arms. My hands grabbing my kid’s appendage and my powerful legs lifting or lowering their tiny bodies that weighed like sand bags. I must say this was a great workout.

Parenthood isn’t easy and it is moments like this I question to myself, “self, why did you have kids?”   If I didn’t have kids I would travel the world and see things that I have always wanted to see. Putting myself first. Instead here I stand holding my ground in this 2 square foot of space so that these 2 can enjoy some romper room fun and then later the Easter bunny. Yes, I guess I could say, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know any other life other then this current one.

My kids got bored of me and scampered around the area my body was grateful for the rest but now my eyes were continuously scanning for them.  Not only for their safety but I wanted them near because we were getting close to the entrance.  Come hell or high water, their butts are getting in that bounce house.

Finally, the moment of truth for the beginning of the end of this line because my wait was over.  I wanted to grab the mic from the DJ and announce to the crowd. 

<pat, pat> smacking the mic.  I would blow into it.  

“Excuse me everyone.  I did it.  I successfully stood in this line and suffered immense mental anguish as we inched along like the back legs of a caterpillar whose head crossed the finish line hours ago.  Thank you.” 

They boys enter the bounce house at hot as a fever on a kid who doesn’t want to go to school. The boy’s zigzag around the inflated poles until they knock into each other, giggling as they fall to the ground. Their little bodies bounce of the floor. They scamper to the wall and to my surprise they climb the wall that leads to the slide. One goes down headfirst. The other rolls down in an uncontrolled fall. Both of them boys landing at the bottom of the inflated platform, creasing the center, crating the middle and then they folded into each other.  <clank> goes their heads but they laughed.   

Before I could control them. They rolled off and cut the line and did it again. I pretended to be upset and apologized to the parents for their craziness all the while they snuck by me and did it a 3rd time. I apologized again, rounded them up and left to go see the Easter bunny.

That line was longer than the bouncy house line. I don’t think my body can withstand another 45 minutes or so of flipping them, tossing them and having them cling to my body. I’ll zone out and imagine being on a French Riviera. But I want you to know, I’m grateful for this journey and enjoying the only life I know.


The 4 boys, left to right. Blake, Nico, Christopher Jr., and Max. Easter April 17, 2022.



 


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Monday, February 28, 2022

Spreading the Love

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Christopher Jr. and Nico celebrating Nico's birthday at Chili's. March 12, 2022


February 28, 2022

Spreading my love to 4 of my children may seem daunting to some people because kids are so demanding. I have always been told that a parent “always favors one child over the other” before I had my own children. Being the youngest of 4 kids myself; it sure felt that way at times. My 4 boys have their personalities and I’m in love with each one of them. I can tell you, they are truly loved unconditionally.

I’m always consoling one of my children in someway. Whether it’s hugging, kissing, caressing a face, the need for my love never ends. And the return of their love is so pure and innocent I can’t help but turn on the parental protection that ensures their safety.

Sure, there are times one child needs more love than the other but supplying my love more to one, doesn’t drain me of my affection for another because my boys make it so damn easy to love them all consistently.

I love my father. It is enduring and endless. I didn’t think I could love another man as much as him. I’m an emotional person. Not ashamed to show my affection. I value life more than material things. This is the person I have become, who transformed through maturity. When I became a dad of my first son, it never dawned on me that I would have 3 more boys. Back in 2006, I lost twin daughters on the day of their birth. I always felt that God would give me an opportunity to be a father of a little girl at some point. But for some reason that wasn’t in the cards for my life. There’s a hint of regret for that but I’m grateful for the children I have and the love that has grown for those boys are as strong, if not stronger, than the love I have for my father. I believe my dad would agree.

You see when look into my kids eyes, watch their smile gleam I know I’m home. There are times while raising them I want to freak out on them. Children get into all sorts of mischief like when they turn on the water hose and muddy up the ground and roll into it in their clothes. Then, without warning 2 of them walk into the house and slosh water all over the floor and put their muddy handprints on the walls and discard their wet clothes on the floor! Okay, I digress. I may have freaked out a little on them regarding that muddy path. It was destructive and just messy. But after I gained my composure. I couldn’t help but laugh at what happened. Love fills the heart back quickly and recedes all anger.

Being their father, I want to ensure I cover all my bases. It’s like spreading out peanut butter and jelly on bread. I ensure the peanut butter and jelly goes all the way to the edges ensuring nothing is spared. That perfect sandwich is metaphor on how my love is spread until the end of time.

I’m grateful for the 4 boys I have. They challenge me everyday. I work and provide for them daily. I hope they understand that and also know they I will always love them evenly because I know how to spread my love unconditionally.

Blake and Max waiting to go in Miami! March 18, 2022.






 


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Friday, December 31, 2021

Health Positivity

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Max, Christopher and Nico. Halloween Hayride. October 2021.


December 31, 2021


I have had healthier times in my life. These times have come in phases much as like we enjoy categorizing past decades.  There was my invincible youth phase.  My “I have good genetics so I hardly get sick” phase and now as I get older I’m at the “every ache and pain is some sort of end of life” phase.  This phase is basically making me a hypochondriac. 

The last couple of weeks however my health has really beaten me up. I am now in the “what the heck is going on with me” phase. My health concerns have humbled me because I feel and look relatively healthy.  But like those noises a house makes while it is settling in the middle of the night, every new creak and bang my body makes grabs my attention and I always assume the worst is going on with me. 

Heading into the 2022 seems to be directionless when it comes to being healthy.  Everything is influx as I journey into January due to Covid and natural causes God gave me during creation that seems to be bubbling up with my age. At this point in my life I realize that health is everything. Just as I realize that sticking to my one job was beneficial for job security and a pension.  Good health is bankable. It is better than money.  Good health is priceless. Good health though, doesn’t mean that unknown factors won’t decide to take out your inner workings. No matter what strict diets you have had during the decades of your life. 

I’m sure this New Years I’ll make the same cliche resolution of being healthier in 2022. I can control my food intake and exercise regiment.  My resolution should really be being better at controlling all of my cravings and lack of motivation.  

With Covid running rampant throughout the world any new cold or cough is masked by announcing to everyone “Covid!” when I sneeze. Of course it’s in jest so I am not judged or questioned and people still chuckle.  I still don’t want this virus to be part of my daily health concern in conjunction with other health ailments I wrongfully suspect are affecting me.  

The difficult thing is that who the hell knows what is going on if the problem is internal.  Recently I had a kidney stone.  The damn thing came out of knowhere.  One moment I am driving home and then suddenly I am parked on the side of the road waiting for paramedics to come. You know how scared that makes you because who knows what the hell is going on inside yourself? 

“Doctor it’s cancer isn’t it?  Isn’t it?!” I demanded to know from the ER doctor.  “No,” he said.  “Cancer, in this form of pain, doesn’t come out of the blue like this.  Calm down.” 

I needed x-rays and CT scan in order to facilitate what is going on inside my own body over several days during the 2nd week of December.  Not having control of my internal workings is nerve racking. I don’t want my body to give up on me because I won’t give up on my body. 

While I laid in the emergency room at my local hospital in a gurney along the wall, spot 39A, I was told to be prepared, I was going to have surgery to insert a stent into my kidney and bladder.  I was alone, scared, and no one could see me because of covid restrictions.  There is nothing more inhuman then hospitals self imposing restrictions on people who are sick and or dying and left to be alone in their most vulnerable moments.  Someday there will be reckoning for people who allowed people to suffer without their loved ones to support them. 

Nurses and doctors shuffle past me. Phones are ringing. Machines are beeping. Other patients are moaning and I reflect on the term, in good health.  I suddenly take it to heart because health is a gift you can give yourself.  There’s no reason for me to be in this spot.  It was my poor diet that created a kidney stone so large my body will not pass it. The stone gave me a kidney infection and 3 visits to the emergency room over 5 days due to excruciating pain.  The pain was so great that if I was being tortured to give up information, well, I would have given everyone up. 

The end of the year is here and my health has seen better times.  I have a need to get better and stronger in 2022.  I can’t control everything and I know that some aches and pains are natural as I age.  But with Covid out there I don’t need any other trips to the ER where I know I will be alone and deserted because my loved ones will not be allowed to see me. I simply need to get my health back to the times when I wasn’t concerned with every muscle spasm I received. A healthier time doesn’t have to be some sort of phase. Health is something to strive for everyday.  I can tell you that I’m healthier now than I was a few weeks ago and that ain’t bad heading into a new year.  Time to enter the phase of health positivity.  



Blake hanging out while a sandbox was being built. December 2021. 


Have a safe and healthy 2022.  I wish everyone the very best.  We can pull through.  Happy New Year! 


 



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Monday, October 25, 2021

I died Five Times, a Halloween story

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Pumpkin patch with Christopher and Nico October 23, 2021


October 25, 2021

I died 5 times. I’m sure of it. I mean come on, deja vu is legit and I have experienced it but man, it’s been on serious repeat. I’m sitting in my car reliving this very moment once again, I’m sure of that. It’s an out of body experience and I have counted 5 times that I have looked upon myself in a horrific deadly state. 

The first time I died, I was sitting here in my car. Same spot. Same place. Same faces. Same sounds. My head was down buried in my phone reading some article. The music plays and I pause and listen to some of the familiar lyrics that cause me to reminisce about a time and place. Then I go back to my phone and fiddle around. In and out of apps. On and off websites. Cruising the same sites, like if it were in a familiar bar. A figure of a human stands to the side of my driver’s side window. From where I stand, I can’t tell who this person is and I try to walk in front of him or her to see their face but I can’t seem to walk around this, figure. 

“Get out of my way!” I shout. “Hey, hey,” I wave my arms. Nothing. No reaction. I decide to get my own attention. “Hey!”, I yell as loud as I can. “Look up! Get off your phone.

Look to your left, dummy. Look! Look!” 

But I don’t. 

I sit there lost in the content of my phone. If I would just look up! Just see what I see! Look! Look! The shadowy figure raises his hand and points a gun toward me. Oh no, I won’t look up. Why won’t I look up?! The gun is focused directly on me. I see the shadowy figure squeeze the trigger. There’s a flash! It’s so bright. The gun muzzle shines orange like the sun. And then there’s blackness. I raise and see myself, dead. Silence. And then I’m here again. Same place. Same car. Same time. 

The second time I saw myself die, I’m at the same place, at the same time, in the same car. However, this time I was standing outside my car. Which is weird because it’s too damn hot to be outside. I was leaning my torso across the hood of my car. On the others side was a friend of mine. The football game was over, and we were discussing the events of the game. The shadow figure appears from the behind me. Walking fast. His hands were in his pockets. His pace increases. My friend doesn’t see him. At least I don’t think he does. But he’s looking in that direction. Why isn’t he alerting me? I decide that I would intervene. I can’t witness myself being killed again. 

“Stop!” I shout. I run toward this shadowy figure. I have to help myself if no one else can. My friend. He isn’t doing shit. He’s talking sports to me. Shut up! Warn me! I bolt towards the figure. But I can’t move. What the hell is going on with me? My feet won’t budge. I grab my left knee and lift. But it’s as if I’m in hardened cement. 

“Turn around dummy! Turn!” What’s on his hands. The figure has a knife! The street glistens of the steel. He raises it up over his head. Like a baseball pitcher in a windup and is prepared to plunge into me. And I can’t stop it! Hover, witness my death, darkness.

On to death number 3. Two times of death and it was hard to witness.  I’m prepared to stop the third one this time. There I am. Same place. Same car. Same music. Same crap. This time, while sitting in my car, there’s a laptop open on a computer stand. It’s turned on and I’m scrolling through the pages on the browser, while life passes me by. What do I care? My life is going on here. In these internet pages. I’m consumed with the information even though it is overwhelming my conscience to the point I am blocking out what’s around me. Death is back again. I decide to do nothing to help myself. I mean am I this dumb? What’s the point of helping myself if I haven’t learned? Let it come. Go get me. “Get him,” I shout to the shadowy figure. I don’t move. The figure doesn’t acknowledge me. He or she walks right on past. The computer is casting such a bright light inside the car. The lights glare is washing everything out around me. I think this time I see a flamethrower.  A flamethrower?  What the hell is wrong with this dude? And how the hell don’t I notice a flamethrower being directed right towards me? I think to myself “you deserve this, dumbass”. 

This has to be torture. I’m at death number 4. Who cares at this point? I mean do I have immortality. I must because I can’t explain what’s happening to me. I’m pissed because I’m allowing this to happen to myself. And I have a front row seat to my own destruction. Like clockwork here comes the shadowy figure. It doesn’t even lurk in the blackness. It comes out. Like thin air and charges right towards my car. I can’t explain it. Maybe it hates the music I’m listening to? Or the technology I’m consumed with? Could it be sports that it hates? Who knows other than death is coming again. And yet again, I don’t do a thing. Let it come. Let me go. Let it rear its ugly head again. 

Boring. I died again. Number 5. It’s the same story. You read about it 4 other times. Probably 4 times too many. Almost like deja vu. Isn’t it? Time to break the cycle. Move on. Get going. You have a chance to live again. So, live it. Life is going on around you. I’ve died 5 times. Instead of watching myself die I walked away from my old self and learned to live on my own and discover that their may be new things out there than seeing the same old thing.        



                              Blake in the background with brother Max. October 20, 2021



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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Mentally Tough

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Christopher (left) and Nico enjoying McDonald's at the mall food court. August 1, 2021


August 7, 2021

*When I look at my 4 boys I become filled with emotion.  This is something I thought about because I know I can't watch over them all the time.

I just want to protect him. Protect him from the harsh world that I know. The bullies, haters and social media warlords that are using their hard words like a firing squad aiming at a poor soul sentenced to death. But where will I be when there are times like that? How can I make my boys mentally tough to ignore such mental abuse?


I understand that I can’t always protect him, even though constant protection is what I long to do. Ready to pounce on anyone who makes a decision to harm him. But the reality of life is that at some point everyone must take a stand for himself. So I will nurture him. Groom him. Give him the life tools to protect himself. But is that enough?

My strength and blunt interaction with him is the substitute for that nefarious individual who is out to do harm to him. But I am not evil. And evil creates madness. There is no way I can account for someone else’s narcissistic, sociopathic desire to inflict emotional pain. I’m just not made that way.

As I grew up, I became wiser with my understanding of Mankind to realize people have flaws and they will disappoint you. That people will go out of their way to inflect pain, be it emotional or physical. Some people get off on that. But I will not let him back down because I do not understand the dark side. With commentary and stories about life lessons, he will learn all the ways a person can be hurt.

The best way I can teach him is to guard his emotional state without closing himself off from others. But he needs to learn that battles aren’t only the physical things his eyes witness. Battles are mental ones too! 

Mental battles with nitwits versus those of use with their wits, who can ignore such mental abuse is not what I want them to engage with.  I want them to be where strong minds thrive by learning how to let go and move on and ignore the haters that are too blinded by their own jealousy to raise the white flag in defeat.

Take a deep breath, son and move forward. Avoid the emotional land minds by moving to the left when words are lobbed toward you. Then side step to the right and evade the bad people in your life. Push ever forward, never fall back when it comes to blocking the ugly from your life. Learn to stay stable during the tough times. Gain your bearings and understand you have emotions and are susceptible to being hurt. Your emotions are not weakness. Understanding your hurt is self-care. It is being tough mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.  And not necessarily in that order.

I wish I could protect you forever. I wish I could stand by you through thick and thin. But I know that isn’t possible. Life simply won’t afford me enough time to stand with you forever. But by teaching you mental stability, I hope you will be mentally ready to take on the world without me. 




Maximilian (left) and Blake enjoying fun at family members house. August 5, 2021.



 



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Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Seagulls Cry

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Christopher and Nico getting bigger.  Which means I am getting older. July 10, 2021



 July 15, 2021

Have you ever heard the seagulls cry?  There is nothing like hearing them while you are sitting on the beach.  For many people who live along the coastline this is their happy place.  I am fortunate to live close to the beach. This closeness to the Atlantic Ocean brings me free serenity. The salty air is like an intoxicant to my senses.  The kind of feeling that allows me to be free in the moment and give me the will to cast my worries to the side. 

The beach is a place where many costal people go to contemplate their life’s choices. It is the perfect setting to measure one’s problems with the backdrop of the gigantic ocean, which in reality, is the perfect metaphor for how small some problems really are when you place this world in prospective.  Although it will not solve my stress, it will provide me some space in my mind to give me clarity.  

The seagulls cry is about as wild as an animal that you are going to find here on my local beach. Their mewing, or cry, is distinct. There is no mistaking it. It is the baseline for my thoughts while contemplating life’s questions to why things happen to me or how can I make my life better. My wants, no, my need for the ocean to pull my stress away for one more day mercifully given to me by the surreal feeling I get by viewing the magnificent ocean before me. 

The ocean breeze searing water of the tips of the incoming wave. The waves catapulting its mist towards me, which brushes my face and cools me down. The ocean spray invigorating my soul and baptizing me. The sounds of the seagulls remind me that I can be free.  The hovering in the breeze temporally distracts me with the wonderment of flight. 

I push my toes into the sand. Firmly planting myself in my spot. I crack open a beer and take a sip. The sun’s rays dance off my skin because it cannot penetrate my sunblock. The laughter of the kids playing remind me of my own youth. And the mewing goes on and on as I stare off into the abyss. Re-organized my thoughts, remembering my friends, thinking about lost loves, missing dead loved ones, and contemplating my next move. 

As the sun sets and the sand cools, the ocean never stops churning. Not even for a moment. The tides come in and the tide rolls out, just as people come and go in your life. The ocean will keep going long after I am gone. And the seagulls cry will always set the tone.

 The beach is perfect when you have access to it. You can put your whole life into prospective when you go. That is the main thing that is so wonderful about it. My questions will get answered. My thoughts resolved and burdens lifted. My happiness staying. The ocean recharged me. My stress is a little less. My overheated skin slightly cooled from the ocean spray. And the Seagulls cries reminded me that I have found my place of solitude and reflection.



Max and Blake splashing around July 4, 2021.




 





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