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Category Page: dad
Note that on the category pages, the posts are in chronological order, unlike the rest of the weblog.
Monday, February 04, 2002
my dad's influence
My Dad. His Email signature line reads "anything is possible!" and he really believes it.
My blood father lives on the streets of Chicago, and every month or so he calls me excitedly to tell me about his new project.
"I've got a big project in the works...I'm putting together a deal to buy a cafe/ a bookstore/ a health club/ a movie theater, and I'm going to expand it to make it an internet cafe/ alternative health mall/ natural foods store. It only costs $100,000 and I'm going to sell lifetime memberships for $2,000. All I have to do is get 50 people...just 50 people and the place is paid for free and clear. Isn't that exciting?"
I want to support him because he's so excited every time, but I just get weary after a while. "That's great dad," I manage to say sometimes, "only 50 people eh?"
It's been like this for years.
I set up a website for him at thewowcenter.com. It is a work in progress, of course. By all means, read some. You will undoubtedly see some really spot-on concepts, marked by perhaps some disorganized thinking.
He is a fervent man, and I've seen him work the coffee shops of Chicago with a supreme skill, talking excitedly about his newest project, pointing to his diagrams, and selling photocopied self-published copies of his book.
I've had a hard time thinking about how to write about him in the tinyblog...you know, honestly and respectfully. I said something last night about the ways he's influenced me, and he said, "Wow! You've never told me that before." (patently untrue) And then he requested that I write down how he's influenced me, so there would be a more permanent record, not subject to the whims of memory.
So I will endeavor to say in the next few days how my dad has influenced me, and perhaps tell a few good stories about my ol' man, heretofore hardly mentioned in the pages of the tinyblog.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 06:23 AM
Tuesday, February 05, 2002
dad: per mom
Of course, my mom read my first "Dad" post and came up with a rockin' guest entry.
She had just been to a family function:
Every time I was introduced to someone as the ex-wife of Dick, someone would raise their eyebrows and/or gasp. Then they would recover quickly and adopt a more socially correct attitude of gladtomeetcha, etc. Many people wonder how, why and so forth. Since Dick is your theme this week, I thought I would put the matter to rest as a possible guest entry.
A girlfriend of mine was getting married. She was on a budget so she asked if I would attend her wedding with another friend of hers, a newly graduated Chiropractor. I was eighteen all of a week and was fully ready for this sophistication. The new mysterious older man (24) called to take me out so we could get aquainted before the big event. He came to pick me up and he had a moustache! Wow, clearly a MAN where I had dated only boys before. I was definitely out of my league.
Before the month was up, I was deflowered; two months later I moved to my own apartment and he was a frequent guest. He gave me my first drink, he ordered me my first lobster dinner. He was knowledgeable about current events and world affairs. He had a brand new office, with patients. He had a brand new car and later taught me to drive. He was an excellent driving instructor. He encouraged me to advance in my career and helped me to believe in myself. He had an incredible vocabulary and taught me to love words and their nuances, a trait that I have tried to pass on to his children. He taught me to love learning and to consider possibilities beyond the immediately obvious. He included me in his somewhat noisy family, people that I continue to love and cherish to this day.
So, what went wrong? Alas, theory does not put food on the table and I simply tired of taking care of everyone including a well educated, intelligent, fully grown man.
There is the short version. If you have any questions of what he was like then, let me know.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 01:39 PM
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
dad: monee, il
I actually remember me and my Dad and my mom all living together as one happy family. I remember us living in a farm house in Monee, IL. I remember swinging on a rope swing in the barn.
I also remember my dad, with a full beard and mustache, sitting on the couch. It's a clear picture, but there's not much more.
I remember the night of that memory, my parents told me to brush my teeth. I went upstairs and instead just ate a little of the toothpaste. I think I even remember that they smelled my breath to make sure. Boy, did I think I was clever.
My mom tells me that there was sugar cane on that farm, and that she found me one day sucking on a piece of sugar cane. I think there was a windmill there that I tried to climb. I don't even remember how old I was. If my mom corrects this story I will be sure to post it.
Anyway, I remember having a very warm feeling about my dad then, and thinking about his bearded face really makes me feel good.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 05:03 PM
Thursday, February 07, 2002
dad: kiddie support
By my mom's estimate my dad probably owes her something in the neighborhood of $20,000 in back child support. When I've mentioned this to him he bristles at the very idea that he should have to pay child support, or gives a wounded look that he I haven't aknowledged him for the child support he has paid. He claims my mother told him when she left him that she would never ask him for child support. Oooooh-kay.
Now my sister and I are completely grown. I think once every six months or so my mom would start court proceedings again way back when, but my dad proved quite agile at legal machinations. A combination of not showing up in court, skillful pleadings to the judge, showing up with a sob story and a lawyer at the last moment, and having absolutely no income to speak of allowed him to defer the long arm of the law just about indefinately. I won't say he didn't pay any child support, but proportionately I don't think the final numbers would be very impressive.
It's not that he was just a malicious layabout...he works...in his own way. I don't think he's had a regular job where he was employed by someone in a very long time, and I don't know anymore if he's capable of such a thing. It makes me chuckle to think about it actually. Soon after he got hired he would be telling his boss how he could transform his business into something of much greater scope (anything is possible!) and sell lifetime memberships for...uhhh...car insurance.
Besides, it is a waste of time to work for an hourly wage when one is constantly on the cusp of putting together that big deal that will fill stadiums with people willing to pay for a lifetime membership to The Life Center. I know he believes that when he makes his millions he will lavish us (including my mom) with wealth that we could never imagine. I know it. He'd never admit he doubts it for a moment.
My mom remarried a year or so after she left my dad, and then a year or so after that, they moved to another city...Rockford, where I grew up. From what I gather, my mom and new step-dad didn't leave a forwarding address, and I didn't hear from my dad for what I think was a few years.
I remember I asked one day what ever happed to the ol' man, and I think my mom said that she didn't know how to get ahold of him. I remember being gripped by despair that I had somehow lost touch of someone so important, and faced the stark possibility of never seeing him again. (I was maybe...seven?)
"Well, maybe we'll be driving to Chicago one day and we'll pass him on the street!" I said, but I knew the chances were pretty slim. God, I remember how utterly hopeless I felt about it.
Well I needn't have worried. He must have eventually went to the courts with some cash, because one day my mom told us that the visitation was to begin. Much of this visitation happened at good old Cherryvale Mall.
to be continued...
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 01:27 AM
dad: cherryvale mall
So I must have been 12 or so when visitation started up again. Rockford is about 90 minutes away from Chicago. Sometimes he had a car, and sometimes he had money for the bus, or often he'd just hitchhike. Whatever it took to come hang out with us every other weekend.
When in Rockford we didn't have a lot of options, though. Especially if he didn't have a car, my mom would have to drive us to a place where we could basically hang out in the same place all day, which in Rockford means only one thing: Cherryvale Mall.
It was a pretty big mall, had two movie theaters, a bookstore or two, an arcade, and a few restaurants. Then of course there were the multitude of meaningless boutiques that were invisible to a 12 year old boy.
Did I mention my dad is a Chiropractor? He does this really cool Chiropractic technique called DNFT which is not the bone cracking kind. He just sort of pushes with the end of his thumb with a sudden gentle force, and breathes out his nose with a puff like a little king-fu move.
It was very important to him to do this...he felt like once every two weeks was hardly enough, so he would do his chropractic adjustments on the padded benches outside the food court.
To me and my pre-teen sister this was always the hight of potential humiliation. There was always the fear that someone from school would see us having our butt touched in public.
Dad didn't help. While we were trying to evade attention, he was usually trying to attract attention. Pretty girls especially who walked by he would sort of leer at and say emphatically, "You're next!"
This went on for years.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 06:20 PM
Monday, February 11, 2002
monee, il: my mom's superior memory
As usual, my mom has an illuminating version of events I only barely remember:
It was corn stalks in the field, the source of corn syrup. You were very cute sitting in the middle of the field sucking on the stalks.
Also, the windmill was the well pump, no longer in use. It was a very tall black iron structure. One day, you were about two, you managed undetected to climb up most of the way and you were heading to the top. As you know, I do not like heights but there you were so I got up there as fast as I could and quietly so as not to alarm you. You and I made it to the top platform at about the same time and I locked my arm around your body. Then we both stopped and looked around. We could see the skyline of Chicago in the distance.
Although I did not choose to go up there and I was pretty scared, I did drink in the sight of the landscape and was glad for the experience. When we got down, I scolded you and you never went up there again.
The town was called Monee. It had a small main street with a diner. You had a little scam going and it took me quite a while to discover how you did it. Again, you were only two years old.
Dick and I would go to the diner once in a while. We would sit at a table and you would ask to sit at the counter until the food came. The waitress would call over, "Is it ok if he has a glass of orange juice?" I would nod yes. I would go over to collect you for dinner and some farmer had always bought you a glass of orange juice. Never pop or milk but a glass of orange juice. The two of you would be deep in conversation and the farmer (never the same one twice) would be laughing and apparently highly entertained. After this happened too often for it to be an accident or coincidence, I made sure to sit within earshot.
You sat at the counter swinging your little legs. You would greet your mark with some precocious statement and when the farmer responded, you chirped up with "My Mom says I can have a glass of orange juice". Of course, a glass of OJ was ordered and put on the guys tab. Pretty cool move. Dick and I laughed until our sides hurt.
Monee was truly a cool place, a restored farmhouse with a big yard and a vegetable garden and a barn with a rope to swing on high in the rafters. You only swung when someone was holding you. We were there less than a year and you and I moved in with Joni when we left. That was the last place we lived with Dick.
You entries are recalling memories good and bad and I will stay with the charming stories because this is your tale of your memories of your Dad, not a chronicle of events.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 05:33 AM
Thursday, February 14, 2002
dad: some serious generation gap I
At about 19 I decided I didn't want to live under my mom's unreasonable rules (like doing my own dishes) anymore, and I decided to ask my dad if I could go live with him in Chicago where everything was cool. Also I had no car, and I had already gotten fired from every crappy fast food job within walking distance (Beef-a-Roo, Dairy Queen, K-Mart).
The reality was that my dad was living in his mom's rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment on Barry and Belmont. But hey, I was only going to live there for a couple of months until I could save up enough cash to get my own place in the big city. He said he'd love to have me, so one fine afternoon I showed up on his front step with my bags and my queen sized futon.
I noticed something strange was going on as he began to stash my things in the hall closet hastily. It occurred to me that he hadn't mentioned to my grandma, Bubby Glore (bubby is yiddish for grandma, and Gloria was her real name) that I was planning on an extended stay. I suppose she figured it out soon enough.
One of the first things I noticed were the stacks of newspapers, books, magazines, notebooks, and bags of same that covered every available square inch of floor, table, counter, and horizontal space in the entire apartment. When my dad finds something interesting in a newspaper, he marks the interesting article, and then saves the entire newspaper. Plus, he is a prolific collector of books like Ostrander's Superlearning, Zig Ziglar's See You at the Top, Nathan Pritikin's Live Longer Now, Richard Nelson Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute and Napoleon Hill's perennial classic Think and Grow Rich.
Bubby had the only bedroom, and slept on a king sized bed that filled up most of the room. My dad slept on the couch in the living room, and I slept in a 3' x 8' area graciously cleared of the piles. There I was...in Chicago.
I never realized how real the generation gap really was until I got a chance to get to know my dad. We both liked movies, and we both liked coffee shops, but that was about where the similarities ended. We didn't even like the same kinds of coffee shops. I couldn't understand how he could drink coffee at Starbucks, but it turns out that the Clark and Diversey Starbucks was quite a mecca for big business movers and shakers. My dad loved to sit all afternoon in a Starbucks putting things in notebooks like this:
10 people each year x
For a non-made-up example read his article, What Is The Reality of Self-Employment.
I don't know how he does it, but he gets people in the Starbucks all fired up and gets them to invest in his newest thing, and buy lifetime memberships sometimes. Then he lives on the money while he tries to line up more people to pay for what he promised the first person. Eventually it crumbles. Two months later I get a phone call, "I've got something cooking. It's big. It's really big."
This was the first time I got to see it first hand. It was also the first time I got to truly experience the generation gap. I mean, I always knew he said things like, "hey, look at that attractive gal" and "allll-right!". I was just used to my mom, who had had 19 years of practice in trying to be at least slightly cool. My dad was still totally into Barbara Streisand. One time he hitchhiked to New York in the 1960's just to see her. My dad had no idea of what cool even meant in 1992. I don't think he even cared. It did make it a little hard to relate to him.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 04:42 AM
Sunday, February 17, 2002
dad: some serious generation gap II
One day I was making a mix tape for a friend at work, and I had just left the stereo running. I was about to leave for the evening, and had considered mentioning it to my dad not to touch the stereo, but decided he probably wouldn't anyway.
Sure enough though, when I got back later, it had been turned off. I really gave him hell about it...like how dare he touch my electronic equipment and all. In retrospect I realize what a complete bastard I was, and finally he got sick of it and said to me, "You're getting mad at me over the fucking hi-fi? The hi-fi?"
I was so amused that he was calling my 'boom-box' a 'hi-fi' that I was instantly less mad. In fact, I could hardly keep from laughing everytime he said 'hi-fi'.
One time I remember I got fed up with all the piles (I think they were encroaching on my little spot of floor). I asked him if he couldn't perhaps clip the articles and file them in some way. I pointed out how difficult it made it to live in the apartment, especially for me who had no home base there. He agreed that this was a good idea and that he had, in fact, been meaning to do so, but never got around to it.
Amazing, I thought, my superior logic and spatial skills had finally gotten through to him! Things were gonna change right there for us. Space in the apartment...who knew what could be next.
I left in the morning as he was starting on a juicy pile of newspapers about a foot high. I left satisfied as he picked up one paper and looked for the marked article. About 8 hours or so I returned home, hoping to see a profound improvement in the apartment.
There he was, sitting in the exact same place he was when I left, working on the exact same pile, with a "done" stack of about 4 inches and a "discarded" stack of about 2 inches. He had a newspaper in his hand and he was chuckling brightly about the newest in the wealth of articles he had just re-discovered supporting his theory that, "Anything is possible."
I sighed. Maybe he remembers differently but I don't even think I had the heart to give him much of a hard time over it.
lovingly or haphazardly posted at 05:01 AM
dad: what I've learned
You know, the point of this whole thing was to talk about how my dad has influenced me in a positive way. We had a phone conversation and I told him something that had really influenced me, and he made a big fuss like I'd never told him such a thing before.
When I told him how selective his poor 60-year-old memory was, he asked me to write it down somewhere where he could always read it, and that's actually why I decided to blog about him.
You see, the whole "Anything is Possible" thing has a light side and a dark side I think. The dark side is that it's often used as a weapon against people who don't want to do what he's asking of them. People, being polite as modern people are trained to do, will say, "Oh, I can't do that."
He will point out repeatedly that they are using can't as an excuse, and not really seeing the situation in an innovative way that would allow them to do whatever it is that he wants. Granted, he also uses it to point out when people are holding themselves back from something they really want to do, and in his mind I know it's always used altruistically, but I've had it aimed at me too many times to believe he knows what the difference is.
I learned two things from this. One, is that he's usually right. If you're willing to put the energy and ingenuity into something, there's nothing that there's not a path to. Obstacles become stepping stones, and each one actually can propel you to a greater understanding of the situation, and a certain momentum that possibility thinking enables.
Second, I learned how to have some pretty solid boundaries, and why this can be beneficial. I learned that sometimes, lying and saying you "can't" do something that you simply don't want to do is sometimes more destructive than the "rudeness" that telling the truth entails.
One time he told me that to be able to "ask" someone to do something, you have to be willing to accept a yes or no answer. If you plan to punish someone for refusing, then you should really present it as a command, which is what it is. I never forgot that.
I've discovered that when I find myself saying I "can't" do something, that there's almost always fear of actually doing it, and some kind of message in that fear.
I have some serious differences in my philosophy as my dad. He thinks that "anything is possible" can just happen in this spontaneous playful way that doesn't seem like work because you're using your basic energy to naturally accomplish your highest goals. He seems to have this idea that you can just magically attract sponsors...that, in fact, there are thousands of people just waiting to give you what you want and make your dreams a reality if only you ask.
In a way I believe that's what enlightenment is like. When you free that energy and you can just live life like a kind of magical illusion, but I think that married to that idea is the idea of having no attachment to the outcome of your freeform labors.
When you want a certain thing to happen you have to put time and energy into it. You have to make it happen from the ground up with your own sweat equity. It is your own passion that will inspire others to help you. There are millions of people with their hands out, palms up, asking for support, but it is those who look like their willing to work harder than anyone for it who attract support from others. You have to try to do it all by yourself, and you can't have any hope that others will help you, even as you ask. Then they will.
As limited beings, we only have a somewhat narrow focus. We may know it is our potential to be unlimited, but until we are, we just have to tools that we have, and it is our delight and responsibility to use our strengths and weaknesses with as much diligence as we can, not spewing out our energy in all directions.
I honestly believe that if my dad could choose one project and move diligently towards it he could accomplish anything. I fear though, that that project encompasses every project he has ever thought of, and that he just doesn't know how to take a bite sized chunk.
He's lived on the planet for 60 years now, and on the streets of Chicago for about four. It's a city he knows and loves, and I see him sometimes in my mind, wandering it's streets like a hungry ghost, searching in the eye of each stranger at the Starbucks counter for the unlimited possibilities that he can't seem to find in himself.