Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Did you hear? The only choice you have is not to smoke. Addiction is selfish that way.

Mama A and I are big fans of Madmen, the dramatic series about an ad agency in New York in the early 1960's. The new season starts in August and we can't wait. There's currently fun promotion on the AMC Madmen website that allows you to Madmen Yourself. You can see my evil-eye-patch-marketing-twin avatar in this post, complete with a cigarette and a martini.

One of the main characters, Don Draper, isn't the poster-father-husband of goodness and light. Far from it. He's a complicated and dark character that makes for good dramatic fiction, and so his character isn't supposed to be a role for fathers - then or now.

But man, I miss the smoking. Yep, didn't I tell you? I was a smoker for almost 20 years. Loved it, especially when drinking. The alcohol accentuated the burning flow of smoke-filled nicotine to head, heart and lungs - setting every cell afire.

In fact, the first thing I did every morning was light up. Two cigarettes from the get go before anything else. I looked forward to the smack many times throughout the day.

There's a very cool song by K's Choice called "I'm not an addict" and part of the repetitive chorus goes:

It's not a habit, it's cool
I feel alive
If you don't have it you're on the other side
I'm not an addict (maybe that's a lie).

Yes, it is a lie. I don't miss smoking. I miss the way nicotine lit me up like a neon sign while calming me at the same time. It's the drug I miss.

You don't choose to smoke once you've started. One cigarette and then a pack and you're on the hook for more. You're hooked on the smack, simple as that.

You don't choose to smoke once you've started. The only choice you have is not to smoke. Addiction is selfish that way. (Learned that from Nicotine Anonymous.)

When we were in Illinois a couple of weeks ago, it seemed as though we passed a cigarette "emporium" every few blocks. Exaggerating, yes, but still there were many. In fact we passed the "Cigarette Emporium" whose sign said:

We like smokers!

Of course you do, silly.

My official quit date was September 22, 2002, and although I've fallen down a few times since, I'm sticking to that date. (And thank goodness I had Mama A for "forceful" moral support.)

According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths.

Some may consider that a great way to thin out the herd, but I'd prefer car accidents to addictive carcinogens. Colour me crazy (the British way).

Check out the website You've probably seen the controversial commercials and the site doesn't disappoint.

A fun factoid from In 1978, one tobacco executive said that "unhappiness causes cancer."

Wow. It's pretty clear where they're coming from.

According to the New York Times, in 1998, one tobacco executive said, "Nobody knows what you’d turn to if you didn’t smoke. Maybe you’d beat your wife."

Please. Cigarettes got nothing on domestic violence.

This year was the third year I ran the local race Wharf to Wharf. It's a 10K and every mile before and after that race, or any other race I may run, is a mile run for my life, my wife and my child.

Like I said, addiction is selfish and non-discriminatory. Fellow daddies (and mommies) out there who still smoke or battle with addiction of any kind, get help and let yourself be helped.

The only choice you have is not to do it. You've got your families and futures counting on you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The bosom feels safe and warm again, exactly where I want us to Bea.

Some of my fondest family memories are those when our entire extended family on my mom's side would gather for Easter, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Second only to the holidays themselves, being a little kid snuggled safely in the family bosom was the only place I wanted to be. The being at home the rest of the year with an abusive alcoholic father and then abusive first step-father wasn't much fun (and the very rare extended family gathering on that side).

So between my mom and sister, grandparents, my mom's two sisters and all our cousins, there was much family fun and love to share. Now, that didn't mean there weren't adult problems between my mom and aunts and other varying forms of family dysfunction.

But the bosom was still safe and warm. And then we grew up.

I was in college the last time we had a family holiday meal together. Thanksgiving. My sister and I sat at the kiddie table, but I didn't really mind. Since then there's only been a handful of times we've gathered. All three were funerals: my grandfather, my aunt, my grandmother.

At my grandmother's funeral my cousins and I were older and a little wiser, most of them had children as did my sister, and we had the best intentions of getting together more often. My mom and sister did get together with them at other non-funeral events, mainly because they all lived in Visalia and Fresno still, where we all grew up.

I didn't, though. Mama A and I lived in Santa Cruz and we didn't have children, and weren't planning to.

Even the most open-hearted of men don't form the familial bond like women do. Women carry the family flame, children or not, and are usually the ones who keep the fires stoked.

Unfortunately even my immediate family's embers are barely a-glow now. My mom and dad battle daily with broken bodies that get weaker and weaker and live too far away, my sister and I are estranged, we rarely talk to her children, and our having a child hasn't made one bit of difference (with the exception of my parents).

I have however rekindled some family love with my dear Auntie M's family and that's a start (Auntie M was married to my birth father's brother).

I'm learning how to start those fires. Hey, daddies can learn stuff, too.

Fortunately Mama A's extended family remains close and our recent trips to see them in Nevada and Illinois has again restored my faith in family. It was our first trip to see the Illinois family and they were all so very gracious to us and happy to meet Beatrice. And Beatrice earned her wings on her first flight! Woot!

My lessons learned in the Land of Lincoln: lead self, lead family, lead the future.

The bosom feels safe and warm again, exactly where I want us to Bea.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In and out of the strike zone: the mindful presence of parenting

Second to football, I really miss playing baseball. I only played it as a child from the minor leagues through early high school, and then many years later was a player-coach for a co-ed softball team, where we stunk up the field with more fun than you can shake a Lupus-booger-covered finger at (Bad News Bears reference).

Ironically though I'm not really a sports fan as an adult male. Love sports, not a sports fan. But when I read great stories about a down-and-out pitcher like Jonathan Sanchez who throws the Giants' first no-hitter in 33 years, it's pretty dang exciting and I want to be a fan.

Really guys, I do.

As of this posting, the Giants are only 6.5 games in back of the Dodgers, not bad for a motley crew that wasn't supposed to mop the on deck circle with anyone this season.

So many lovers of the game have written about it metaphorically, how the game mimics life; so much nothing and then "pitch-whack-run-slide" and it's a ballgame.

I've been a busy little "bea" the past two weeks with the SHRM conference and then our fun-filled-family 4th extravaganza in Carson City and Lake Tahoe.

But when we got back, my Comcast high-speed Internet connection pitched me a change-up and then a slider.

It frickin' killed me basically. It's my lifeline to work and play and when it's down I'm crippled. And here's where I'm going with this post: I wasn't proud of how I reacted to it, particularly in front of Beatrice.

Yes, she's only 9 1/2 months old, but as she sat there playing with her toys, Daddy K tried to fix it after spending two hours on the phone with Comcast. Then he laid on the living room floor, punched it repeatedly, sweating and cursing like an Oakland Raiders fan.

I like to talk about myself in the third person for the prouder moments. Hey, everybody needs to vent a little, but every parent needs to keep themselves in check.

Especially parents for the sake of their perceptive modeling children. The same kids who hear their father say the "f-word" and start dancing madly around the house like a happy fan after a three-run homer, repeating it over and over again.

We have a conscience. We are the role models. We have a higher power. We are the parents. We are personally responsible. We have spiritual guidance to keep us focused in the present on being present and reacting more appropriately for situations out of our control.

Let's use the baseball metaphor here however weak it may end up being (sigh). Each and every moment has a strike zone and you're in the batter's box.

Inside the strike zone - if things are in your control, and you can remain in the moment and stay focused, then you can connect bat to ball and get a base hit or even hit the ball out of the park. Otherwise if you strike out, then at least you can go down swinging with family pride.

Outside the strike zone - if things are out of your control, and you can remain in the moment and stay focused, then you can take your base and wait it out, whether the ball equals four balls or it hits you. Otherwise if you charge the mound and clear the benches, then that's what the family is going to remember for years to come.

In parenting as in life, it's not just whether you win or lose - which I would argue certainly has it's place - it's how you play the game.

Go Giants!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Having Bea for breakfast post business trip

Earlier this week I was swallowed by the oppressive summer swelter of New Orleans, our firm exhibiting at the SHRM 2009 Conference & Expo.

The show went well for us and our clients, but I missed Mama A and Baby B terribly. I talked to them both everyday, on speaker phone, and felt Bea's smile-coo that carried me through the trade show grind.

I got back late Tuesday and didn't see my sweet little Bea until the next morning. But as my sister-in-law posted on my Facebook account: "You're going to have Bea for breakfast!"

And I did. Now it's time for a little family holiday breakfast break. Be back soon.

Happy 4th of July! Happy Birthday America!