Monthly Archives: September 2011

Soccer, Interrupted

soccer-interrupted

Today Savannah was up in Morgan Hill, CA playing in the Hannah Welker Memorial Tournament. She was ten minutes into today’s first game, advancing the ball down the left sideline. She was just about clear of the other team’s back line when she got tackled on her right side, hard. Both players collapsed. Only the defender got up.

Soccer etiquette calls for parents to stay on the sideline unless called for, even during injury. I was out there before the Referee could whistle play stopped. I instinctively knew Savannah was hurt. She was in a lot of pain. Savannah couldn’t move her right knee. It was locked. We carried her off the field.

I knew right then that I needed to get her to a Doctor. We get Savannah onto a golf cart and got over to the car. Noreen, one of the other player’s Mom, volunteered to come with us to the hospital. Savannah and I are glad she came. Sometimes there us simply no substitute for maternal comfort.

After x-rays and examination, the Doctor said it was a severe ligament sprain. We were happy that it wasn’t a torn ACL.Keep off the knee for a few days, treat it with ice and eat lots of ibuprofen.

I already know that Savannah will be itching to start running in a few days. That’s just her competitive nature. She’s going to have to sit out next week’s XC meet at Santa Margarita lake. It’s her school’s big annual hosted event. I guess we got lucky in that it wasn’t any more serious, but still. It’ll be a big setback for Savannah

I am leaving Savannah with Noreen and driving back home now. Savannah was insistent that she be allowed to watch her team play. I agree with that. It’s one of the bigger tournaments of the year. Her and her team worked hard to prepare for it. She also said it made no sense for me to pay for a room if I couldn’t see her play. She’s in good hand with her extended soccer family. So I’m headed home, alone.

Douglas stayed at his best friend’s house last night. Now he’s at home with Alexandra. Courtney also spent the night at her best friend’s house. She’s already got plans to see a movie tonight, so I probably won’t get to see her tonight.

Sometimes all I want to do is to have my three kids together with me.

Domestic Bliss

domestic-bliss

Today I got a new upright vacuum. She’s a beauty. A big, honking Bissell Clearview Bagless. It has the Powertrack Plus. With Turbo Brush, Wide Power Trak, Hepa Media Filter, Dual Edge Cleaning, and Triple Filters. The cord is long enough to vacuum the entire living room without switching plugs. Yeah! How could I go wrong?

I made a pass at the living room today and, holy shit, it sucks! Sucks really, really good! Look at all the dog hair it picked up! I conquered armies today. I was like Napoleon flanking the Italian Army at the Battle of Lodi.

Let me tell you about my old upright. It’s a Panasonic Model 5116. I bought it in the late ‘70’s when I got my first apartment. It didn’t have any attachments. It wasn’t height-adjustable. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles. Yet it very light and easy to push. She had good suction.

I felt sad putting the old warrior out to pasture today. She served me well. For over 30 years. I bought two other vacuum cleaners in the interim. A Dirt Devil and a Hoover. The Panisonic handily beat them both. It was always better at the job. Until today.

Douglas Topping Hazard Peak

Douglas is an animal. We go for a ride last Saturday at Montana De Oro State Park. We climb for 1:30. The view was great. Douglas railed the three-mile descent. Douglas had a great time. I had a great time. Good memories for the both of us.

Janet never got out on a hike/ride to the top of Hazard Peak. I asked, I tried. The view up on top is world-class. I never understood why Janet didn’t get out there. I wanted to share this with her. She always had some excuse why she couldn’t carve out four hours to do this with me.

She only went on three “real” rides with me in 22 years of marriage. Scratch that. One of those “rides” occurred when we were still dating. That makes it two.

I’ve ridden over a quarter of a million miles. Road. Raced Cat II for six years. Fixed before the Hipsters bastardized it. Mountain. Singlespeed Mt. It’s part of who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My wife saw things completely different.

I’m blessed that my three kids are smart and athletic. And one of them, Douglas, shows promise as a rider. He may not turn out to be a Roadie, but that’s OK. He’s a good Mt Biker.

I’m happy that I met Alex. She’s an endorphin addict. That’s a good thing.

Batshit Insane

batshit-insane

This morning we had the Today Show on, listening to it as the kids got ready for school. A story came on about Michelle Bachmann’s railing against the HPV vaccine. “I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate,” Bachmann said. “She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

I don’t understand where Bachmann is coming from. Did some 12-year old girl somewhere just spontaneously become retarded or something? How stupid is this woman?

I mentioned to the girls that mandatory vaccinations against communicable diseases is good policy. Savannah shocked me by disagreeing, saying “vaccines should not be forced on people. I should be able to chose”. I countered by saying that we did have a public health problem with many communicable diseases. Mandating vaccinations eliminated Smallpox from the earth, and greatly reduced other diseases. This public policy is for the collective good of all.” Savannah said “Well, it violates the Constitution, and it violates my rights. I should be able to chose”.

I was flummoxed. I didn’t know what to say. My Daughter believes the Vaccine Conspiracy? It has been totally and irrefutably discredited. Communicable diseases like TB, Measles and Whooping Cough are making a comeback only because ignorant parents chose to not have their children vaccinated. How could Savannah, who is by all other measures a very smart person, somehow believe in this nonsense?

I’m paranoid now. Where did she pick this up? Where is she learning this? Who is telling her this? I want to know, and I’d like to tell that person to go pound sand. Just stay away from my kid, you moron.

Remembering 9/11

remembering-911

The day began like most Tuesday mornings at Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Company was growing fast. We had recently moved into our new Corporate Headquarters near the Pittsburgh Airport. My office window overlooked the airport. I never had much time to gaze out the window and look at the coming and goings of the airplanes. Managing a $70 million product category demanded all of my attention.

Todd, one of my co-workers, came over to me and said “you gotta go down to the fitness room and watch what’s going on. Some airplane crashed into the WTC in New York”. I head downstairs into the Fitness room, where we had several TV Monitors overhead above the treadmills. There were several other co-workers in the room. We were mesmerized, confused about what we were witnessing. All CNN could tell us was that an airplane had crashed into the WTC. I went back upstairs to my desk to work. The weekly Business Recap report was due that morning.

A while later, a swell of my co-workers started heading back downstairs to the TVs. I followed. This time, the Fitness Room was packed with people. People from Operations, Finance, Merchandising and IT. The entire brain trust of the company was in that room. And we were mortified with what was transpiring. The first tower had collapsed. Reports were coming in about the Pentagon. Then the second tower collapsed.

I witnessed that live, as it was happening. I couldn’t fathom what I was seeing. Was it the death of tens of thousands of people? Who did this. Why? Why was this happening? Where we next? Was this the start of a war? Nothing in my years of education and experience could have prepared me for this. For the first time in my life I was rendered speechless. I just couldn’t think. All I could do was stare at the screen, at the images.

Soon after, the Company President came down and told everyone to go home to our families. I rushed upstairs to try and call Janet. She wasn’t home. I tried calling the school where Savannah was at and couldn’t get through the phone lines. They were slammed.

I couldn’t make the 90-minute commute fast enough. But the drive was eerily calm. Surreal. I made eye contact with other drivers at the traffic lights. We all had that same haunting look in our faces – that scared look we get when we realize things are beyond our control. But no one cut anyone off. No one tailgated. No one flipped anyone off. We all were worrying about getting home to our families, yet that day we also cared about strangers getting home to their families.

I arrive to the school to get Savannah out of her First Grade class, and it was quiet panic. Most parents had already picked up their kids. I knew many of the other parents still there. We didn’t need to say anything to each other. We all just wanted our children safe. I see Savannah, and picked her up and gave her a long hug. She was confused about what was going on. I told her that everything was alright, that she didn’t have to worry.

We get home and Janet was there, in front of the TV. Courtney was playing in the other room. Janet was seven months pregnant with Douglas. I was relieved to have my family all together and safe at home.

I sent Savannah into the playroom and sat down to watch the coverage. By then, word had come out about Flight 93’s crash. The Pentagon was burning. The White House, we were told, was next. All flight were grounded. Fighter jets were scrambled. The nation was under attack. Someone did this to us.

I remember the people jumping to their deaths. The brave First Responders running into a burning building. Those heroes on Flight 93 who took matters into their own hands. I didn’t lose anyone I knew that day, but I can relate. There were many victims that day. I hope the 9/11 survivors find tranquility and are able to move on with their lives.

Some of the things we did collectively as a nation since 9/11 is wrong. The TSA is a joke – I HATE to fly anymore because security is nothing but theater. Homeland Security is a slush fund for local law enforcement agencies. We went into Iraq only because of Bush’s obsession with Saddam and Big Oil. The Carlyle Group shepherded the Bin Laden family out of the US and back into Saudi Arabia right after 9/11, what’s up with that? We blew it at Tora Bora and it took us almost 10 years to get Bin Laden. The Patriot Act is a joke – anyone recall the 4th Amendment? We killed 200,000 people in Iraq. That’s gonna come back to bite us.

We STILL don’t have a sensible energy policy. We STILL back Israel 100% while pooh-poohing the Palestine Occupied territories. We STILL maintain a military force on stand-by in Germany and South Korea.

Our materialistic society comes at a terrible cost. The sweatshop workers in China and India. The environmental pillage of Nigeria in the name of oil. Blood Diamonds. The violence in Mexico to feed our insatiable, un-winnable “War on Drugs”. Big Sugar.

Our nation has to change the way we grow our food, the way we build our homes, the way we move about. We eat too much, we live in unsustainable housing, we waste energy driving huge vehicles.

I am happy that we killed Bin Laden. He was evil and deserved to be shot on sight. But he did have a point. The problem is us. We’ve become too materialistic. More stuff isn’t going to make us any happier. Let’s teach our children the true lesson of 9/11. To find peace within ourselves, and with others.

Growing Up

growing-up
growing-up

Douglas thinks I am awesome. I am the strongest, fastest, smartest person in his world. No one could throw harder, run faster or know more about anything than his Dad. I’m Doug’s Superhero.

All parents with grown children understand The Superhero/The Clown/The Tyrant/The Stranger/The Bodyguard cycle of parent idolization. After all, we’ve all gone through it ourselves. We hope that we’re around when our children realize that they grew up to be like ourselves.

Yesterday I had my first “Birds and the Bees” talk with Douglas. It went as well as I expected – awkward, uncomfortable and relatively short. I somehow managed to get some points across to him. What took me aback was Douglas repeatedly saying “I know Dad, I know”. That’s something he never said to me before.

I sensed yesterday that I was no longer this omnipotent life force in his life. I’m morphing into the Clown stage. You know, that point in a child’s life where he thinks he knows everything and parents are idiots.

This is a normal and healthy process of growing up. Still, I sense that an age of innocence is slowly ebbing away as Douglas starts to grow into a young adult. I guess I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Back To School

back-to-school

I’m happy that the kids are back in school. They’re fully engrossed in their new routines.

Savannah is already knee-deep into homework. She is carrying 3 AP classes and 1 honors class. X-C running is transitioning into speedwork. And she is looking forward to the Hannah Welker Soccer Tournament this upcoming Sept 24/25.

Courtney made the HS Volleyball team. I saw her last night play at their first home game. They won their match. Courtney has really stepped up her game from last year. She looked real good playing on the front. Once she jumped so high up to spike a ball her head was up over the net. She’s so strong. Her homework so far has been pretty easy. A very good sign.

Douglas keeps saying his teacher is awesome. All the Moms I’ve talked to say the same thing. I’ve only talked with the teacher once. I don’t know her like I knew Doug’s teacher last year. Douglas is in very good hands and will have another awesome year. That’s a comforting feeling.

Me, well it’s feeling discombobulated. My world has changed since I met this wonderful women last month. Her name is Alexandra and she is perfect. It’s all good, supremely good.

Yet I need to put away the last bit of pain from Janet, knowing the next step I take with my children and Alexandra is for keeps. This is it. Whatever I do next, it’s for my kids and Alex. May we all find peace and get on with it.

Blessed and Cursed

blessed-and-cursed

There are people who have a lot of time on their hands and don’t have anything better to do than gossip and cause trouble. These people are not good for me to listen to or think about. They are not important in my life. I’ve turned my back to them and left that in the past. The truth always comes out. And the truth liberates us.

I’m lucky to have friends step up and support my family. Friends that invited the McCarthy family into their homes. Teachers that went above and beyond their duty to make my children feel safe in school. Coaches who continued to challenge my kids to excel in a caring way. The Atascadero and San Luis Obispo communities have made the McCarthys feel welcome. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful area. I thank all who have helped us in one way or another.

Being a single parent is a huge task, especially when you are still grieving and your children are dealing with the loss of their mother. I’ve reached out to Single Parent support groups. Their group discussions were disappointing. To them, it wasn’t about finding flow in their lives. It was more about how to control their children. To control others, something which I never believed in. I sensed anger within these other single Dads. They made me uncomfortable. So I started writing this blog as a way of healing. And here we are.

Several people remarked to me since my last post that I have been taking shots at Janet. I don’t see it that way.

We were married for 22 years. The last few years were bad. I learned a lot during the past 14 months. I was naive. I understand that darkness can creep into a marriage. I understand how sickness can affect one’s self-perception. I understand that Janet was well into the process of divorcing me. And that others were complicit in that. Yet I’ve put that in a box and left it in the past.

I also packed away the memories of the Sheriff Department’s bungling. I put away the PTSD of finding your wife dead in a shower. I put away the vile internet gossip. I put away the realization that my kid’s childhoods were disrupted. I put away the BFJs “Best Friends of Janet” (They haven’t offered once ounce of support to my family since Janet died). I have moved into the present.

But what I don’t understand is why Janet lied to others about myself? Why did she push me away from my family? I’m not going to dignify the rumors I have heard about myself, because they’re so outlandish as to not deserve even a mention. I’m in the right to write about the severe emotional abuse I was subjected to in the past few years. My “pot-shots” aren’t that, they are descriptions of what I went through.

Abuse alone is hard enough to put into a box and leave in the past. What makes it especially hard is knowing my children witnessed Janet’s gas-lighting. We have worked hard since then. My children are thriving. Part of it is because they are so young and don’t have a lifetime of memories to contend with. They are growing into remarkable young adults.

It’s me I worry about. I can’t put the thought of Janet’s evisceration of myself into a box. I think of what lies she told others. I especially think of what lies she told my children. How can the woman you married, the one that you loved, do this? Why? And I can’t let it go.

Several weeks ago I met a special person. Alexandra is all that I dreamed in a relationship. She is a soulmate. We’ve gone far in two weeks. Alexandra and the kids get along. Neither one of us see any warning signs.

So I’m into a new and exciting relationship. I want to put away the memories of Janet trashing our marriage. I want to do it right the second time around. I want to put all the bad into a box, and move on with our lives. I want my children to find peace.

How do I put this last bit of pain away?