Thursday, June 30, 2016

Throw Momma From the Train

First off, I would never conspire to have my mother thrown from a train, despite what the 1987 Danny DeVito / Billy Crystal dark comedy film presupposes. Mom, Ma, Brenda, Polack, Pain in the Ass. All names I've come to associate with her in my 35 years on earth. What can be said about her? Those who know her, know where they stand with her. Either she likes you or she doesn't. There's no in-between, nor should there be in life. Gray, is an easy way to describe feelings towards any one person, but black and white, makes me sleep at night....that was an unintentional rhyme.
Brenda, a third generation 100% Polish American born in Poughkeepsie, NY, is the middle child of three and quite frankly, the most capable. She always has been. My grandparents, what little I knew of them, were for lack of a better word, alcoholics and dismissive. My mother, took care of her youngest brother in the absence of her oldest sister, my aunt, as she had left for greener pastures. So, to have so much responsibility thrust upon you at a young age can be daunting, to say the least. Yet, she did it. With the help of my Great Aunt Mika, and a simple take no shit attitude, she survived and at the same time, took care of her brother.
My Mother has been a symbol of forward momentum, an unstoppable juggernaut of "fuck you", I can do this, for many years. She's encountered many obstacles and assholes in her life, all while taking the hits and moving forward. She achieved management positions at IBM in the 70's, 80's, and 90's through sheer will. Most men, are intimidated by strong women. Not me. I was raised by one. Every time I've encountered someone with a strong, aggressive personality, I've always said or thought: "My mother could do worse."
Strong women exist. They have existed. This is nothing new. Regardless of your sex, if you're capable, you're capable. Men can be weak. Trust me, I've met my share, confronted them, and found them...lacking. So, it's here that I thank mom for my lack of interest in avoiding conflict, because there are so many who would rather avoid speaking their mind; and honestly, it's the few who accept confrontation who pave the way for those who simply remain silent and step aside. But, that's why we butt heads, Mom and I, it's the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object...or maybe we're just two, stubbborn Polacks. Honestly, I wouldn't have our relationship any other way...

A crumpled, colored on Poloroid...yup that's us.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Two Dogs and a Man

I attempted to reference "Three Men and a Baby", unfortunately there is no actual child and I'm only one man. But, I do exude the 80's sexiness of Steve Guttenburg, Tom Selleck and Ted Danson combined, so that's a considerable plus. Yes, losing Homer has been difficult and quite frankly it's going to be hard to get past. I honestly don't believe I'm ever going to see him again. I'm coping, but it's difficult as he's my dog and my son, and I will miss him. But, as I've stated in previous posts, from darkness, there is light, and that being said, I've adopted my brother's seven year old Miniature Pinscher, Jessie!
Interestingly enough, Min Pins are not in fact, Doberman Pinschers who have been left in the dryer for waaay too long, it's actually a common etymological misconception. Min Pins are more of a cross between a German Pinscher, Italian Greyhound and Dachhsunds. So, it's like a German sausage combined with a skinny stromboli in a hot dog bun that barks.
Anyhoo, my brother and sister-in-law were kind enough to let me take her off their hands, as they have enough on their plate with two daughters, two cats and another dog, and since it's just Hermes and I, it made that much more sense to taker her. I've had Jessie for several days now, and she's been quite the snuggle bug. The tiny squeaker likes to be where you are, and literally sit and lay on you. Of course, she's small enough, that I barely notice. I actually have a buddy when I now play video games, as she sits on my lap and the armchair, quietly watching me shoot demons from hell in "Doom". Yay for company, and shotguns!
Hermes and her get along really well as both are energetic and enjoy running around outside, taking in the summer breeze. They're still getting use to each other, but in the end, I know they'll make great siblings. I know Hermes misses Homer as much as I miss him, but we've got to make the best of this situation. So, the house now feels slightly more full with a 15 pound dog added to the mix, and an extra set of puppy paws clicking and clacking on the hardwood floor. In a strange way, it feels more like home with two dogs, even though it has been my home for the past three and a half years.
So, what's today's message? For the past six months, I've been struggling with why everything has happened and why I've spent eight years of my life down here. I've been trying to make sense of all it. I know that it's not going to all come at once, like some large epiphany, (which I believe is bullshit), but more like a mental puzzle; but one that's composed of disparate pieces, slowly being assembled in an attempt to form a bigger, cohesive picture. Currently, one piece is taking care of Jessie, because I believe it's the right thing to do. I see that I need her as much as she needs me.

She likes bald men.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Like Father, Like Son

Yes, the title is from an obscure 1987 comedy starring the late Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron. We, of course, had it on VHS, as my mother owned numerous films on tape and we were kind of like Bruno Blockbuster. Again, for you kids, VHS is an acronym for Video Home System. You see, you had to place a cassette tape in a "VHS player", then watch it, then, if you wanted to re-watch it, you needed to rewind the damn thing and wait at least 5 minutes. Shit. The video quality was also subpar when compared to today's "4K HD 1080p holy shit the football players are in my living room" video clarity, we all take for granted. But, I digress. So, today's blog is about my dad, Art, Art-man, Dad, or as my mother affectionately calls him: "Art, you asshole." I honestly thought that was his name until I was eight years old.
My father came down this past January to keep me company and we were able to catch up on a few things. I've mentioned him in previous posts, and the lasting impact he's had on me to "do the right thing" and be a "good man." He's a rare father figure, born in 1945, counting on my fingers, that's almost 71! He's lived through the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, get the point, and he still maintains a moral compass that I've yet to really see in anyone male his age or younger. Examples? As I'm sure you're asking, well, I have a few...
Having married my mother, a strong independent woman, whom I'll address in another post, my father was above the sexism that usually permeated his generation and era. If he really wanted a woman who kept her opinions to herself and cooked in the kitchen, then he clearly wouldn't have married my mother. So, I'd like to think of my father as progressive in that sense. Of course, my mother's general "take no shit attitude" rubbed off on my father after 45 years, but, I'd like to think that some of his rational, less than aggressive approach to conflict has rubbed off on her...wait, no, it hasn't.
My father never drank, although he did smoke for 6 months in high school, he was a good son to his mother, my grandmother, Rose, staying with her and keeping her company in an empty house; as he was the youngest of four and felt it was the right thing to be with his mother. He's an intelligent man, reluctant to take praise for his accomplishments or simply doing what needs to be done in the face of darkening adversity. He seeks no joy in humiliating others, just simply talking to them and being a decent person.
So, yet again...what's my point? I believe, on some level, all men eventually become their fathers. I see it in myself at 34. I sound like him, I make noises like him, creaking, cracking, snoring, I hum like him, I have his ears, I even am starting to grow the "Bruno Sunroof", i.e. balding, if I didn't shave my head. It's funny, my dad use to read the Poughkeepsie Journal on weekends in the living room, and I would remember putting my hands on his face to touch his stubble and thinking how scratchy it was; I get that same feeling when my stubble grows in, or if I ever shave my beard. I feel my face, but at the same time I feel my father's. I catch myself saying things he would, words of wisdom or insight. But most of all, I try to keep my moral compass straight, just as he's done many times, even though I've faltered in the past...a lot..I need it now more than ever.

Art and Nick